26 August, 2008

Bloody Georgians

by Eoin O'Dwyer

I used to like Vladimir Putin.

Not as much as these girls:

but hey, I can’t really appreciate his beautiful, blue eyes as much as they do.

I mean, as far as a high schooler's understanding of politics goes, it’s hard to beat a guy who’s ex-KGB, and is slowly turning Russia into a power house via oil and arms sales to Iran. Then I learned a little more and realized that if Garry Kasparov was against Putin than so was I. After all, he used to be the world chess champion. Got to know what he’s talking about.

Which brings me to the whole Georgian/South Ossetia debacle. If there’s one thing that’s started to piss me off/scare the shit out of me these days, it’s this new resurgent nationalism. I thought that perhaps after a couple of world wars and the whole warming of East/West relations after the cold war, the stable countries that matter had moved beyond the worst parts of the nationalism thing. I mean, sure all those tiny little countries were going around and killing thousands of people over who owned a particular field with cultural significance, and there’s all those people who are going ‘USA! USA! USA!’ all the time and my Irish cousins still think that we should get our hands on the northern counties one of these days, but like whatever.

With this double invasion of South Ossetia and all the lies and disinformation brought out by both sides, I smell the stench of rabid nationalism coming to bite us in the ass again. The Georgians want all the bits of land they see as part of Georgia. Russia doesn’t like little Georgia going off and trying to join clubs like NATO. It finds such actions very hurtful and so feels a little compelled to stand up for those plucky South Ossetians.

So let’s review the facts that I think most reasonable people can agree on at this point:

1) Both Georgia and Russia are giant dicks in this conflict

Nice move Georgia. Go try and bring a quasi-autonomous region back into the fold by force. That has great optics, especially when you do it during the Olympics. Go bombard their capital city in the process. That creates lots of good will.

Sakashvilli, you’re a dick.

Russia. You had something of a point going into South Ossetia. I mean, they did have a vote to be independent, even if no one recognized it, and there are a lot of Russian peace keepers and citizens there. Sure, most of the latter group only got their passports recently and you’ve kinda being pushing Georgia’s buttons by amassing tanks on the border, but that doesn’t mean you were wrong to go in.

Where you are wrong is also invading Abkahzia. Yeah, the Georgians are going to go in there when the might of the Russian bear is aimed straight at them. Right. Going into Georgia proper and bombing civilians just like the Georgians and NATO in Kosovo and not really abiding by any real ceasefires and not leaving once the Georgians essentially give up.

Vlad, you’re a dick. (Yeah, we all know you’re in charge. Quit the shit)

2) Abkahzia and South Ossetia possibly have a right to secede properly from Georgia.

Georgia might be right (or might have been right) that this shit could have been resolved by allowing some quasi-autonomy status instead. (so might Chechnya)

Balancing the right to self-determination with a nation’s right to govern its own territory is a tricky business. I don’t think accepting one or the other as a blanket statement is a good idea. Comparisons to Kosovo or the Sudetenland are fun, but not very helpful as we’re either comparing the Russians to Nazis or

3) Maybe NATO shouldn’t try to include so many ex-communist Bloc countries in its club. Russia feels a little alone, a little surrounded by countries that aren’t exactly friendly to it. Maybe they should have tried some delicate diplomacy work with Russia when they decided they were going to let Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. Maybe.However, these are all relatively reasoned points. This is the Advocate and so it’s bombastic, inflammatory, demagogic argumentation I require. I’ve realized that if it weren’t for Russia, this would be a piddly little ethnic conflict we could all safely ignore and so:

This is all the fault of Russian Nationalism. Yes, we get it Russia. You got fucked over hard by the fall of the Soviet Union. You overhauled your political and economic systems and decided that the Cold War was silly and thought ‘hey, everyone wins this way.’ Then Ronald Reagan did his happy dance and was like ‘dudes, we defeated the Commies!’ and then went and got Alzheimer’s and privatization put all the wealth into the hands of old party hacks and the mob and the economy dive bombed, and you found out that Boris Yeltsin wasn’t quite so cool when he was tanked and not jumping onto a tank. Then you didn’t really get to join all the cool Western clubs and NATO still was hanging around, except it was growing and all these little places attached to Russia decided they didn’t want to hang around anymore, the party was over. (ha ha)

We’re very sorry about that. Really.

That doesn’t get you off the hook for treating anyone who disagrees with you in the former bloc like some sort of terrorist and then trying to rig, distort, or steal elections in those countries so that people you like there get elected. I know. Losing the Soviet Empire was hard, but you can still have a zone of influence. You just have to be friends with the countries on your border. Friends don’t try to poison each other’s Presidential Candidates with dioxin. Friends don’t engage in cyberwar and stop all Estonians from checking their hotmail accounts. Sometimes you have to give governments their space and then they’ll come around and you can be one big happy family again.

Oh, and complaining about the missile shield? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Yeah, that’s going to allow the West first strike capacity. Right. And putting nukes in Kalingrad?
Way to up the ante. One day you’ll run low on oil and then where the hell will you be?

I just want to say for the record, I love Russians. I just want to hug all of them and tell them, ‘It’s okay. One day you’ll have a government that doesn’t suck ass and your lives will be so much fun you won’t have to drink so much vodka to forget it that you drown in the River Volga.
I’m tearing up right now as I write this. I’m not even joking. Russia gets me all emotional.

Just stop liking Putin! The Russians I know are driving me insane with this. He’s NOT A NICE GUY. When I look in his eyes, just like John McCain, I see only three letters. K-G – fucking – B! Seriously! This man is enough to make me want to go toe-to-toe with the Ruskies and vote Republican. Republican!

My rant is done. Next on the line is Chinese Nationalism, but I’ve got to go practise my Mandarin and Russian.

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Burn baby burn!

Alright motherfuckers, there is a half empty bottle of bourbon next to me. And it is starting to talk. His name is Jim, and he is sad about Trek Park. Trek Park, if you haven't been by it recently, has been burned. The grass is fried to a crisp. Democracy Dome has been kicked in. It is a shadow of its former glory. I know the DA has been critical of Trek Park in the past, but that is because it never went far enough. This year needs to start off with a bang. I say occupy some fucking buildings.

Everyone complains about a lack of student housing, and how building million dollar condos is lame. But nothing is really done about it. But there are ways you can get your point across to The Man that you're mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. Theres a nice shiny condo being built on South Campus. Once it nears completion, occupy it. Demand that it be turned into student housing. Even offer to pay $500 per room. But demand it be turned over to students. Last year demonstrated that there are UBC students willing to be arrested for a cause, but they were mocked. The reason the Fire was ridiculed was because the cause those students were willing to be arrested for did not resonate with the majority of the student body. On the other hand, everyone cares about housing. We all have to deal with it and it sucks. UBC ain't helping much. UC Berkeley has about 25,000 undergrads with 5,800 beds first years can sleep in. UBC has 35,000 undergrads with only 2,500 beds between Vanier and Totem. UCLA, with 24,000 undergrads, has 9,500 total beds. Now while these numbers just give a general ballpark, it is clear that UBC offers less housing than universities it likes to compare itself to. And UBC doesn't seem to be doing much about it. Oh sure they can complain about lack of money and what not, but if they wanted to build more hosing, they could find money instead of wasting it on things like trying to join NCAA.

So one morning we walk into a newly built (yet not yet inhabited) condominium. Dig some trenches, barricade some doors, launch some Molotov cocktails at the neighbors. Instant international media attention. And we have a very real plight. We just want somewhere to live.

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20 August, 2008

The DA Needs You!

So I admit it. We've done jack shit this summer. I had epic plans, they failed. But there is still a faint glimmer of hope for next year. Maybe someone is still reading this. Maybe you want to write something. Maybe you want to challenge me to single combat and let God decide who shall be editor.

I don't know what's going to happen next year. Is there something you want the DA to do? Then do it! I can probably even find a way to fund it.


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