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2004 - Year of the Commonwealth

By Oldefar ·
It?s a new year, and time to turn our focus away from American issues and towards a greater understanding of the Commonwealth.

The recent revelations regarding the reckless introduction of nuclear weapons into the Falkland Islands area during the British war with Argentina really got me wondering. What could possibly justify such risk to an otherwise risk adverse and civilized nation? This made me think that perhaps I have missed key cultural elements of Commonwealth countries, an unhappy thought given that they make up around a third of all people.

In many of the posts on world issues during 2003, Americans found themselves at odds with those from the Commonwealth. At times, the discussions resemble the Old West feuds between cowboys and sheep herders! With little regard to logic or facts, these feuds had all the maturity of nursery school battles.

I began with some of the past discussions. Clearly, the Commonwealth faction perception is that all American actions are driven by oil or money, and that the American public follows along like a nation of sheep. If true, would there be a similar source behind the actions of other nations? Could there be a prime driver for the actions of the Commonwealth nations? A thread that binds those 54, excuse me, 53 nations of the former British Empire? Some single issue that would cause the tweed suits in London, the descendents of kilted clansmen, the Indian, the Pakistani, the shepherds in North Africa, the ranchers of New Zealand, and the stockmen of Australia to flock together? And if so, how would that effect a war in the Falklands, a place noted mostly for its 2,200 residents and their sheep? What link could there possibly be between that and a fascist Argentine government heading a country best known at that time for harboring former Nazis and being a major sheep producer?

I have to tell you, this was leaving me feeling a bit mutton headed. This poor old US public school educated brain of mine was just gathering wool, but somehow I was hopeful I could lift the blanket of confusion off if I just kept at it.

I started doing a bit of research. Along the way I became side tracked with the long term unrest over Kashmir. I started thinking of my high school days, when a slow dance with a cheer leader in a tight cashmere sweater was the height of? well never mind. At my age, such thoughts could cause a coronary. Besides, India and Pakistan are making progress in resolving their differences including the issue of Kashmir. Then I moved over to the Middle East. Those Afghan and Persian rugs are really something. Carefully woven designs in woolen yarn, creating not only wonderful patterns but stories. Still, the common thread eluded me.

And how did Canada fit into all of this? Sure, I have lived along our common border for half my life. Sure, I have spent many summers enjoying the fishing north of Toronto and in Quebec, and autumns on the Canadian side of the great lake they call Gitche Gumee. Yes, I have enjoyed lunches at the Polish Hall in Windsor, and Friday nights at the Canadian ballet. But what did I know of Canada? Of its western provinces like Saskatchewan where sheep production is growing while cattle production declines. My answers weren?t to be found in the hockey on CBC that I watched, nor with Captain Jolly or Bozo?s Big Top or the Windsor studios where they were produced. Perhaps more recent events would help me find that thread, like NAFTA. NAFTA which opens trade from Canada to Mexico, another major sheep producer.

Sometimes answers are to be found in the everyday. The language, the literature, the humor. On to some of those well loved BBC comedy shows. Take MPFC. There were the lumberjack songs, all in their woolen shirts, but I saw no clues. The skits about the businessman having an affair with a sheep. Hmm. Between Clinton and Bush, it seems everything is driven by sex or money here in the US. Still, to lead the world into a nuclear holocaust like lambs to slaughter, there must be some major underlying factor. Besides, Thatcher was in power at the time, and I don?t recall any skits involving rams.

Taking a break, I read some articles about green house gasses. Seems methane is becoming a real issue in global warming. A natural gas, it is a byproduct of livestock, and sheep in particular.

While I pondered this, word of a new outbreak of mad cow disease, this time in the US, grabbed my attention. What a bizarre world! Cows eating sheep parts and developing in effect Alzheimer?s, and the ability to pass it on to people who eat the cows. I see the USDA has traced those cattle back to our Canadian friends. Was Reagan a victim of conspiracy?

Reviewing what I learned: the richest members of the Commonwealth all are involved in sheep production; Commonwealth nations among the top 10 world sheep producers include Pakistan, India, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa; how there is a strong movement within the Commonwealth to expand ovine production in their developing member nations; how world hot spots involved with sheep production include Syria, Iran, Algeria, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and Iraq; how the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales) have significant sheep production; how Canada is expanding its own sheep production while cattle and other livestock production declines; and how Argentina, another of the top 10 world leaders in sheep production, was considered worth risking a nuclear holocaust over the Falkland Islands.

Feeling a bit sheepish I began to wonder if it is possible we have had the wool pulled over our eyes all this time? Could there be a previously unrecognized conspiracy on a level greater than the alleged Illuminati working ever so slowly to take over the world? Will methane, in the form of ovine flatulence, be the source of energy and so the source of power in the current century? Is mutton, rather than money, the fuel of globalization?

As an American I can only say ?Naa-a-aa-aa, can?t be? and keep seeking understanding.

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Deep thoughts

by Oz_Media In reply to 2004 - Year of the Common ...

Hi Ken, how are ewe? (Sorry, that was baaaaaaad!)In my security years at the PNE I worked many long nights in the livestock barns during the summer fair. The Clydsedales and Belgians were really cool to work with (however they often threatened my manhood). The barnyard jokes were baaad and aplenty so I'm a shoe-in for baaad barnyard humor.

Wow, you've had some time on your hands to ponder lately !

From first read, all I can say in contrast to your statements is that although the USDA has pointed the finger to Candian cattle, Canadian sources show no links and agree that it will be some time, if at all, before the origin is discovered. Originally the main point that separated that cow from Canada's exports is that it was a Dairy cow, thus a completely different and isolated breed in comparisson to the last problems, but that's to be decided over time.

Your analogy does spark a slight interest in that one could assume that GWB had KNOWN of 'the great methane infiltration' coming from the commonwealth and that's why he needed to get control of Middle Eastern Oil deposits, hmmmmmmmmm

Mind you, for those in Northern Canada, the sheep are warmer than the women.

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Sheep in the cold?

by Oldefar In reply to Deep thoughts

And I always thought that situation had led to the one, two, and three dog night solution!

Perhaps global warming is an American plot to counter the value of sheep???

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My God another Kiwi

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Deep thoughts

Next you be telling us all obout you're lattest sex aid Velcro Gloves so the sheep can't excape.

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by stuart_at_oz In reply to My God another Kiwi

I thought the latest thing was Velcro leggings.....


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by Oz_Media In reply to Velcro?

I guess that's why sheep with only front legs are in such demand nowadays.

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That one I haven't heard before

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Velcro?

And here I thought I had heard all the Kiwi Jokes as a friend who is a Kiwi constantly tells me all the newest ones and yes she does have an "All Black" car.

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Not my thoughts alone ....

by jardinier In reply to 2004 - Year of the Common ...

but a widely held view is that the citizens of the USA (some, most, all -- take your pick) strongly feel that the USA believes itself to be the mightiest (and I could probably add "most righteous") nation on earth.

Thus is projected this arrogant view: "We don't need anyone else."

Perhaps if the USA was able to outgrow this stupid and childish view, and join the Commonwealth of Nations, you would immediately belong to a group which comprises one third of the world's population.

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Partially True

by w2ktechman In reply to Not my thoughts alone ... ...

I think that this View is only partially True. Most people that I talk to think that we (USA Citizens) are in a great country, but unlike the ones in power, think that we shouldnt meddle too much in other nations affairs, especially if it does not directly concern us.
This "American Ego" is usually associated with those in power, or the rich people who "beleive" that they are much more important in the world than they are.
As far as not "needing" anyone else, we could get along just fine if no-one else was around, but I think the same about a great many other nations.
But as things are, and others are around, it is far easier to utilize resources from others as well. But in my opinion, the UN should have more power over governing nations, than any individual nation trying to be the worlds police (what a joke, it will always fail)

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Join the commonwealth of nations? No thanks

by maxwell edison In reply to Not my thoughts alone ... ...

At least not under the circumstances and expectations of the current time and current nations. Moreover, social and political changes of such a drastic nature and huge scale would, most likely, have to take place over many generations, and the probability of it happening in our life-time would fall somewhere between slim and none. (And Slim left town.)

But what exactly do you mean by the "commonwealth of nations"? The suggestion of such, especially when facilitated under the "guidance" of the United Nations, gives an image of a world-wide consortium consisting of every nation on earth. But on the other hand, you indicated that the "commonwealth of nations", as it currently exists, consists of only one-third of the world's population. One-third of the world's population plus the population of the USA would leave about 60% or more of the world's population excluded, left out in the cold, so to speak. What about them? In your view, would this "commonwealth of nations" involve every nation on earth, or only a select few? And who gets to decide who those fortunate few are?

I think that most countries, including the USA, put up a facade of cooperation with regards to joining the "commonwealth of nations", with the United Nations being the organization to facilitate such a collaboration. But to have a realistic expectation of the success of such an endeavor is, I think, being unrealistic at best, naive' at worst. It just can't happen unless all these nations have common goals and shared values, which we know they don't.

Common goals and shared values are the key, and they are necessary in just about any partnership, e.g. a "commonwealth of nations". What about the nations that believe in the superiority of men over women versus the ones who believe in equality of the genders? What about the monarchies versus the democracies? What about the totalitarian states versus the ones who value individual liberty? What about nations who are extremely pacifist versus those who are less apt to stand by and watch injustice in the world go unchecked? What about the religious states versus the secular ones? What about the nations that believe in and implement a strong socialistic environment complete with a high tax rate (Sweden, for instance, at around 90%) versus a nation who believes in more individualism and lower tax rates (New Zealand, for instance, at around 30%)? What about the differences in the visions and views for the future? How can people (or nations) with vastly different (and possible contrasting) goals possibly work together to achieve them? How can such partnerships exist when the participants' values and goals are so different? How can (or could have) the United States, for example, reconcile the differences such as the ones seen recently with France and Germany? (And don't think all involved didn't have self-serving motives.) Perhaps one nation should change their values and goals to comply with the majority, if there is such a thing as a majority in this context?

Some slams on the USA:

Slam number 1: The USA acts as though it's the world's police force. Okay, maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but therefore what? For argument's sake, I'll concede the point; the USA does, at times, act as the world's police force. If this is bad, then therefore what? Which is a better option? Should the world's police force be the United Nations? (Great job they've done over the last 50 years, right? - NOT.) Should another nation act as the world's police force? Which one should it be? And who gets to decide who it is? Should there be no world's police force at all? Should this commonwealth of nations (whatever that is) be the world's police force? Why? It's great to criticize, but therefore what? What's a better, and more practical, option?

Slam number 2: A widely held view is that the citizens of the USA (some, most, all -- take your pick) strongly feel that the USA believes itself to be the mightiest (and I could probably add "most righteous") nation on earth. Okay, I'll bite on this one. Yes, I'll admit it. This American citizen believes his country is the mightiest nation on earth. I think we are the mightiest militarily and economically. So what? And therefore what? Is this view wrong? Says who? And why? Are we not the mightiest nation on earth? If not us (U.S.), who is - and who should be? Again, therefore what? My second bite: This American citizen does indeed believe we are the most righteous nation on earth. Is this wrong? Who says? And by whose values? And who should decide what is right (righteous) and what is wrong? Why should they decide what is right? Sure, I'm a self-righteous person. But not because I think I'm "better", but because I believe I'm "right". And make no mistake about it, this is not unlike many other self-righteous (and pompous) non-Americans. Why is an American being self-righteous considered wrong, while an Australian's or Canadian's (or others') self-righteousness is considered right? Isn't it being "self-righteous" to be so judgmental of others? Quite frankly, I'm amazed at all the self-righteous non-Americans in the world.

Slam number 3: It was suggested that the USA, "projected this arrogant view". Well again, maybe we do, maybe we don't. But what is "arrogance"? Many people (individuals) who generally lack confidence in themselves are the ones who see confidence in others as arrogant. What's the difference between confidence and arrogance? Who gets to decide when the line from one to the other is crossed? Are you suggesting that confidence and/or arrogance should somehow be measured and/or limited? By whose measure? Yes, I'm a confident person living in what I think to be a confidant nation. If someone else sees this as arrogant, why is it my problem and not his?

Slam number 4: It was suggested that, "Perhaps if the USA was able to outgrow this stupid and childish view, and join the Commonwealth of Nations, you (the USA) would immediately belong to a group which comprises one third of the world's population. First of all, I won't repeat my questions about the Commonwealth of Nations, but consider them asked again. Secondly, what if two people (or two nations) have a different view of what constitutes stupid and childish. Who gets to define "stupid and childish", and why? Is it not "stupid and childish", in and of itself, for a person to charge the mightiest and most self-righteous nation in the world of being "stupid and childish"? Moreover, how do these charges help facilitate the "common goal" of living in a peaceful co-existence in a Commonwealth of Nations where everyone is always happy and everything is always right?

Slam number 5: The USA is the "self-appointed" leader of the free-world. Quite frankly, I'm rather happy with our position as the leader of the free-world. I like being the leader, not the follower. As I've said before, the world needs to follow OUR lead, not the other way around.

Last question(s): Would the world have been better able to face the challenges and the problems of the twentieth century with or without the United States? Would the world be better off today with or without the United States, even with all her flaws? Poof - the USA has simply vanished. Now what will happen?

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Max Ken was having a dig at the British Commonwealth

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Join the commonwealth of ...

And quite rightly so as I got a great laugh out of it and am currently trying tpo think of a way to phrase a reply about just how stupid the sheep in Australia are.

We have mainly Merinos here and there are some who claim that Govenor Phillip imported these as they where the only sheep that where willing to get on the boats and make the crossing here all the rest had more sence and prefered being slaughtered on the docks rather than being transported to New South Wales as they believed that they had committed no crime so thay should not be placed in a position of being transported with the rest of the convicts.

But we treat our sheep very wel as we give them crusies to no particular destination and when they arrive the "Locals" are told that the majority of the ships crew are Kiwi and have been molesting the sheep all the way there so the Local Muslim leaders not wanting corrupted sheep find a way to prevent them being offloaded. We then send them out into the ocean and send them around in circles until they all fall over from getting giddy and are feed up with the attentions of tyhe Kiwi crew.

Then offer tham to some other unsuspecting Muslim country who quite rightly reject them once they find out what has happened to them and then there is the fact that as they can no longer stand up they are imediatly considered as suspicious. Eventually we managed to give them away after out Foregin Minister Mr Go-Down tried very hard to give the bloody things away and when he eventually succedded some great funny people then claimed that they had feed the next load of sheep some pig so they where not considered as suitable for the Muslim countries after all who would want a carniverious molested sheep?

But think of it this way if the USA was to appoligise to Elizy 2 and say we are very sorry for fighting you all those years ago she just might allow you back into the Commonwealth and then you can compete in our games every 4 years instead of just the Olypmics so you're sports people will have a major compition every two years instead of the current 4 year intivals. Then of course all the Americians who travel to the UK would have a valid reason to go there instead of the current curiosity value.

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