(Originally posted at Comments From Left Field)
At this past weekend’s G20 Summit, Toronto the Good was transformed into Toronto the Garrisoned.
Almost from the moment the summit began, 25,000 mostly-peaceful protesters faced a riot gear clad phalanx of security forces — 19,000 police officers in total, almost 20 times the number of Canadian troops currently serving in Kandahar. Yet it was a small group of agitators determined to make a statement through senseless violence who (in concert with officials eager to delegitimize peaceful assembly and popular dissent) got to drive the media narrative.
Then Sunday’s massive security overreach washed away talk of Saturday’s anarchic orgy in a digital wave of damning, as-it-happened social media coverage, culminating in a rainy, 5 hour “kettling” of over 300 people at Queen and Spadina after a peaceful march turned into a tense standoff. Many of the detained were bystanders who had either joined out of curiosity or just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. “It’s not Canadian”, said CP24 host Stephen Ledrew, after innumerable images of cold, drenched Torontonians penned in by riot police had been broadcast, not knowing why they were being held, nor when they would be released.
Some were so desperate for resolution they actually begged to be arrested.
And that’s not to mention numerous clashes between trigger-happy, heavy-handed security officials and members of the news media, many of whom ended up being asked to leave protest areas, detained and, in some particularly disturbing instances, brazenly assaulted in a disgusting circumvention of our grand tradition of a vibrant free press.
By now we’ve all seen now-ubiquitous footage of obsidian-adorned “anarchists” hurling bricks and torching cop cars. Light the flame and the moths will swarm (and, apparently, loot). So why the hell did the brain trust in the PMO decide that the best way to showcase the GTA on a global scale was to hold a big, capitalist photo-op in the downtown core of a major, world-class metropolis, an event almost certain to attract scores of provocateurs?
It was an inexplicable decision that was, to quote Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank, “bewilderingly stupid”.
TVO’s Steve Paikin and Sun Media columnist Greg Weston have said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s secret late-night legislation that granted G20 security forces sweeping detention powers is as bad or worse than the infamous War Measures Act — and resulted in more arrests than the October Crisis (at least 900 at last report). Clearly, a public inquiry (or inquiries) is only way to resolve still-lingering questions about the G20: why Toronto was picked as host site, how the estimated $1B in costs was actually spent and, most ominously, just what exactly was contained in provincial legislation granting extra-judicial powers to smirking security officials (that so-called ‘five metre rule’? Bunk.) Reports from detainees of misogynistic, homophobic and racist treatment by law enforcement officials should also be thoroughly addressed and charges laid if allegations of police misconduct can be corroborated.
If our elected leaders can waste almost one and a half billion bucks of taxpayer coin on an international photo-op and a fake lake they can pony up some quid to determine why their precious G20 summit resulted in a monumental clusterfuck.
(Photo: Jonas Naimark, Flickr)
Cole drops an Apocalypse Now reference, while The Artist Formerly Known as Tacitus thinks shitcanning is imperative if the republic is to survive the impact of McChrystal’s insta-infamous still-unpublished Rolling Stone interview [h/t Ben Smith].
One early thought: does [McChrystal] want to get fired for insubordination before his strategy is shown to fail?
But I also think Ed Morrissey might be illustrating ye olde canard about stopped clocks with this apt (if cynical) observation:
[T]o paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, Obama may prefer to keep McChrystal in the tent even if he’s pissing out, rather than outside the tent pissing into it. Once relieved of his command, McChrystal may have a lot more to say about the Obama administration than what will appear in Rolling Stone this month.
The good general is now walking backwards at quite the furious pace for someone supposedly trying to commit career seppuko. Plus, as Spackerman notes, thanks to the swift and overwhelmingly negative fallout from his comments, the White House may believe that ”a chastened McChrystal isn’t going to say anything else outside of his lane to any reporter.” We’ll have to see if the groveling, coupled with pragmatic political considerations, gives McChrystal a last-minute reprieve as he walks the Green Mile.
Last word, via the 140:
Via John Cole: The Murdoch Street Journal sounds the battle cry as Outer Wingnuttia declares war on the declining Turkish Republic (the biggest BFF breakup since Paris & Nicole deleted each other from their respective Sidekicks):
Israeli special forces and their commanders were apparently shocked to find their boarding attempt on the Mavi (“Blue”) Marmara met with violence. They should not have been. I have no doubt that the Turkish “peace activists” aboard the ship regarded Israeli troops as something akin to the second coming of Hitler’s SS.
To follow Turkish discourse in recent years has been to follow a national decline into madness.
The obvious answer to the question of “Who lost Turkey?”—the Western-oriented Turkey, that is—is the Turks did. The outstanding question is how much damage they’ll do to regional peace going forward.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Hitler (mea culpa, Godwin) threw a hissy fit because brave IDF commandos risked life and limb killing 9 Turkish (one with dual 14th Amendment citizenship – thank gawd Mr 4 shots to tha dome ain’t a Real American) jackboots armed to the teeth with a makeshift arsenal (assuming one discounts conspiracy theories re: old photo datestamps) that would make Dennis the Menace proud:
“From now on, Turkish-Israeli ties will never be the same. This incident has left an irreparable and deep scar,” Abdullah Gul said in a televised speech on Thursday, as thousands gathered in the streets of Istanbul to pay their respects to the humanitarian activists killed during the raid.
The raid “is not an issue that can be forgotten… or be covered up… Turkey will never forgive this attack,” he said.
Wah wah. That’s what you get for deliberately provoking a midnight Israeli commando raid on an aid vessel in international waters. I mean, come on – a boat full of humanitarian activists (some of whom wore Islamic garb and ZOMG SCARY MUSLIM TERRORIST LYNCH MOB!!11) purportedly armed with a weapons cache that looks like the rusty contents of my late grandfather’s toolshed.
Clearly they were asking for a muscular response, much like those calculating Freedom Rider agitators who, via scary negro commie tactics, fiendishly forced brave white Alabama citizens to vigourously defend Jim Crow with baseball bats, iron pipes and bicycle chains (aka, a REAL lynching).
Israel does it again.
With one deadly commando raid of an aid flotilla bearing essential goods in violation of Israel’s (illegal) blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government has reasserted its expressed right to, essentially, defend its borders by any means necessary. Thus far, a good amount of the discussion of events has centered around whether Israel was prudent in ordering the military assault in light of the likely PR fallout, or if it should have been prepared for stiffer resistance. Yet focusing on proportionality, optics, or even the pristine character (or lack there of) of some passengers on board misses the point — or, rather, the context this incident occured within.
One can argue about whether or not IDF naval commandos were justified in using extreme force in reaction to violent provocation. But the entire event — the aid flotilla, the lethal IDF response — took place as the result of an immoral, oppressive policy structure designed to destabilize the already-strained foundations of Gazan civil society. No matter how restrained (or excessive) its actions, the reputation of Israel’s military will always be tainted by its dutiful service on behalf of a rogue mission.
Dan Drezner, no far-left anti-Zionist with a rep for laying down rhetorical IEDs he, makes the bold analogy of Israel as North Korea and the US, leery of stirring already unsettled diplomatic waters in the Middle East and provoking the political ire of domestic lobbyists, as China, a placid benefactor that enables an increasingly isolated state to continually act in brazen defiance of international law:
True, Israel’s economy is thriving and North Korea’s is not. That said, both countries are diplomatically isolated except for their ties to a great power benefactor. Both countries are pursuing autarkic policies that immiserate millions of people. The majority of the population in both countries seem blithely unaware of what the rest of the world thinks. Both countries face hostile regional environments. Both countries keep getting referred to the United Nations. And, in the past month, the great power benefactor is finding it more and more difficult to defend their behavior to the rest of the world.
As Peter Beinart (again, hardly a radical left-wing agitator) aptly notes, this US (and Canadian)-supported strategy (and resulting tactics) is entirely counterproductive if one’s aim is to convince an already besieged population that it should reconsider its support of a despicable but duly-elected government. No matter how horrible the Hamas leadership is, their government represents a plurality of (admittedly complex) Palestinian public opinion in Gaza (even as the West and Israel still refuse to recognize its legitimacy). Outside pressure directed towards the population inevitably pushes the masses towards the one element of what meager day-to-day security and certainty that still remains: Hamas.
But, again, all this should be moot. Until Israel lifts its illegal, immoral blockade of Gaza, many more people, Palestinian and Israeli, will continue to live in fear of escalating hostilities and almost guaranteed casualties. This is the frame in which we need to centre any discussion of the Freedom Flotilla raid or any other incident that occurs as a consequence of furthering Israel’s unacceptable policy of collective punishment.
We in the US & Canada who recognize the insustainability of this ongoing moral calamity must pressure our leaders to cease enabling the Israeli government as it makes a mockery of human rights and international law — and, in the process, offers a stark vision of the most clear and present danger to the purportedly democratic character of the Jewish state.
Related: Esther Kaplan evaluates the US media response to the Israeli flotilla assault, noting the overly “credulous” coverage of most mainstream news outlets, while over at TAP the inimitable Gershom Gorenberg patiently outlines the events that lead to yesterday’s disasterous raid, calling it “a link in a chain of premeditated folly”.