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  • Anon
    January 29, 2013 - 13:51

    The anti-war movement was tripped up by the ruling elite who need the war to keep the economy afloat as it requires infinite growth which can't be sustained without infinite resources, which is why we are war. 9/11 was a front just like tonkin and just like Pearl Harbour. Peace out.

  • Betty Crocker
    January 28, 2013 - 15:16

    Your response proves how impractical it is to use the news, in any format (BTW, my comments weren't meant to be confined to television), as a solution to a lack of worldliness, whatever that means. The publications you cite are not widely read by the "masses" nor are they widely accessible without paying a subscription fee of some sort. The people who read those sources are already introduced to world affairs and perhaps world geography. These sources solidify an existing pool; they don't try to draw fresh water as they are not friendly to the uninitiated. And most importantly, they are not known to the uninitiated. I always think that people take the time to maybe listen or hear about these things when in confined areas, like a doctor's office. Take the time to peruse the selection of "news" the next time you're there. Chances are you'll see Time (still waiting for an adult version of that magazine), Macleans (right wing crap), Reader's Digest (even more right wing) and an assortment entertainment magazine, which unfortunately display the same level of journalistic skill as the "news" magazines. My point is that international news (to be distinguished from local news that I think a lot of people follow), is difficult to find for the uninitiated and uninteresting to look for. And that is okay. I think this has likely always been the case; we're just more sensitive to it now because we appear more distracted as a society.

    • Keith Hannaford
      January 28, 2013 - 21:37

      Your comments seem to indicate that you don't think a wide-ranging knowledge of world affairs and global ideas is essential, but the entire point of my letter was to illustrate how such an attitude can trip you at crucial times, as it tripped the anti war movement .It seems such knowledge may be useful when you are taking action you believe in and don't want to look foolish. Also, if you think I'm putting forward a straw man argument, have a look through the other comments here.

  • Anon
    January 28, 2013 - 13:58

    Oh, I'm sorry for using ":we're" in Iraq when it's only our allies whom we support in doing so. Cause that's not just as bad or nothin'. I won't make the judgement of whether Iraqi's are worse off or better off because I don't live there and I can only take the word of Iraqi's who I've met through post-secondary all of whom state that asking which system was better was kind of like asking you whether you wanted to burn or drown. Either way, you're screwed. Why you make the point of stating "stand-alone" facts is beyond me. You appear very pretentious - like most MUN art students that I've met. But that's ok dude, I hope that high-horse feels good. And while you may be up on your geography there are many things you aren't up on - that's simply how it is with everyone. Anyway, rabble rabble, false flag attacks, inside jobs, fourth reich, CIA drug trafficking, occupation and control of Africans and Arabs, etc.

  • Cowboy X
    January 28, 2013 - 11:26

    Mr. Hannaford's letter puts forth two poorly constructed arguments that have nothing to do with each other, absolutely nothing. Oh well. I'll try to keep my comments confined to the first part; the second part makes no sense and is a straw man argument that many others have already refuted. With respect to the knowledge of geography, I want to first state that I love geography (love it even more as an adult) and have fond memories of memorizing world maps and competing with some of my friends in listing as many capital cities as possible. I'd like to think that I know where most countries are on a map (parts of Africa are a bit tricky), their capital cities, and their population. I'm proud of this, it makes me look smart in discussions sometimes, but I've come to realize that it is not that important unless you work in the travel or trade business. The inability of someone to find SPain on a map, even if that person has been there, means nothing. I'm sure we asked the same person where Namibia or Belize was on a map and he didn't know we wouldn't raise an eyebrow. I suspect it is because most white people don't consider these to be very important countries or kith and kin ones, which is unfortunate. What I hate about map people is that they think what they know is essential and when someone doesn't know it they are appalled. Map people think everyone should know what they know because they know the WORLD! THis is silly. I know nothing about cars but I would be better off knowing how to change my oil filter than knowing where Spain is on a map. I don't because I have no interest in cars and that's what garages are for. If someone doesn't know where Spain is on the map and doesn't work in an industry where that is necessary, then who cares so long as no one gets hurt. As for Mr. Hannaford, I can't tell if he is making a call for more interest in global affairs as a path to better geographic understanding. I'll assume he is and will be corrected if I'm not. While I think it is admirable that Mr. Hannaford has found the news a good starting point for a better understanding of geography, I would caution against this approach as a helpful solution. First, and in general, I don't believe in promoting greater international news option. Choices already exist for this. Second, the news ignores huge parts of the world. We tend to focus on Canada/US/Eu/Middle East (in so far as it relates to war or violence) and some China. We don't have nightly reports on child prostitutes in Cambodia or an AIDS epidemic in Uganda. I can't remember the last time I saw a report on the War of Central Africa where almost 8 million have died in 20 years. Our news media is pretty shallow, sometimes racist, and provides little to no context while basing allegations on thin sources (that is how we ended up in Iraq, hello Mr. Chalabi) Don't worry about geography. So long as you know land from water, that's okay. And perhaps it would be helpful to know what an ocean and continent is. Don't worry about names, names are social creations and won't always stay the same.

    • Keith
      January 28, 2013 - 13:32

      Have you ever met Betty Crocker? I think you two would get along famously.

  • Betty Crocker
    January 28, 2013 - 11:22

    Mr. Hannaford's letter puts forth two poorly constructed arguments that have nothing to do with each other, absolutely nothing. Oh well. I'll try to keep my comments confined to the first part; the second part makes no sense and is a straw man argument that many others have already refuted. With respect to the knowledge of geography, I want to first state that I love geography (love it even more as an adult) and have fond memories of memorizing world maps and competing with some of my friends in listing as many capital cities as possible. I'd like to think that I know where most countries are on a map (parts of Africa are a bit tricky), their capital cities, and their population. I'm proud of this, it makes me look smart in discussions sometimes, but I've come to realize that it is not that important unless you work in the travel or trade business. The inability of someone to find SPain on a map, even if that person has been there, means nothing. I'm sure we asked the same person where Namibia or Belize was on a map and he didn't know we wouldn't raise an eyebrow. I suspect it is because most white people don't consider these to be very important countries or kith and kin ones, which is unfortunate. What I hate about map people is that they think what they know is essential and when someone doesn't know it they are appalled. Map people think everyone should know what they know because they know the WORLD! THis is silly. I know nothing about cars but I would be better off knowing how to change my oil filter than knowing where Spain is on a map. I don't because I have no interest in cars and that's what garages are for. If someone doesn't know where Spain is on the map and doesn't work in an industry where that is necessary, then who cares so long as no one gets hurt. As for Mr. Hannaford, I can't tell if he is making a call for more interest in global affairs as a path to better geographic understanding. I'll assume he is and will be corrected if I'm not. While I think it is admirable that Mr. Hannaford has found the news a good starting point for a better understanding of geography, I would caution against this approach as a helpful solution. First, and in general, I don't believe in promoting greater international news option. Choices already exist for this. Second, the news ignores huge parts of the world. We tend to focus on Canada/US/Eu/Middle East (in so far as it relates to war or violence) and some China. We don't have nightly reports on child prostitutes in Cambodia or an AIDS epidemic in Uganda. I can't remember the last time I saw a report on the War of Central Africa where almost 8 million have died in 20 years. Our news media is pretty shallow, sometimes racist, and provides little to no context while basing allegations on thin sources (that is how we ended up in Iraq, hello Mr. Chalabi) Don't worry about geography. So long as you know land from water, that's okay. And perhaps it would be helpful to know what an ocean and continent is. Don't worry about names, names are social creations and won't always stay the same.

    • Keith Hannaford
      January 28, 2013 - 13:09

      Curiosity about the world goes well beyond the news. It will delve into books (either general reading or scholarship), long-form journalism, very specialized blogs, and even Twitter accounts with foreign origins. The Economist magazine, the New York Review of Books, and the annual Foreign Policy Global Thinkers Book Club are essential (and largely accessible) resources for information on all parts of the world, not just those covered on The National.

  • Anon
    January 28, 2013 - 09:05

    we're in iraq for geopolitical power and oil reserves. We're in afghanistan for gold and heroin. We took away one tyrannical government and put in another slightly less violent one. This whole argument fails to make a single point that it can stand on.

    • Keith Hannaford
      January 28, 2013 - 10:33

      "We're" not in Iraq (US is out; Canada was never in). But thank you for illustrating my point about the uninformed. Why anyone is in Iraq is not relevant to what was said in opposition about whether Iraq is better off now than before, which is the pertinent issue in my letter. In case anyone needs me to spell it out, I am unconvinced that it was legal or moral to invade Iraq. I am convinced, however, that Iraq is better off now than under Saddam. That's not a justification of the invasion; just a stand-alone fact. Learning such things is what compelled me to better get to know the region topographically (among other ways).

  • Petertwo
    January 28, 2013 - 04:51

    There was also retaliation against Hussein for his targeted bombing of Israel with cruise missiles during the first Gulf War, during George Bush senior's Presidency. The Israelis wished to retaliate and I suspect were going to attack Iraq, instead patriot missiles were installed to help protect them and were persuaded not to avoiding an all out war in the region.

  • Doug Smith
    January 27, 2013 - 10:39

    Mr. Hannaford, before you damn the anti-war movement to the U. S. invasion of Iraq you need to be mindful of some facts. 1) President Bush took the United States to war with Iraq not because Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant but because of false and misleading pretences, namely, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. 2) Because of Bush’s action 4,487 American soldiers were killed. 3) 32,226 American soldiers were wounded, some terribly so. 4) 1.2 million Iraqis have been violently killed since the U S invasion. 5) The U.S. under Bush and Cheney became a nation that tortures, starting with Abu Ghraib. 6) Currently Iraq is a basket case, over 1.3million are displaced , waves of bombings and daily sectarian violence plague the country. 7) There is a very real possibility that the country will split up. So it would seem that the anti war movement had it right. Doug Smith,GFW

    • Keith Hannaford
      January 27, 2013 - 16:44

      I'm glad you informed me of these things "before" I damn the anti-war movement, since I've not yet done any such thing and have no intention to. Yet, to take your points in order: 1) I'm aware of why Bush went to Iraq. That doesn't change the protesters assertions about how bad Iraq was before and after. 2) Not relevant to my point. 3) Not relevant to my point. 4) Not relevant to my point. 5) Not relevant to my point. 6) Would you prefer it had stayed the way it was: yet another backward Arab country with a ruthless dictator who thumbed his nose at international law (such as annexing Kuwait), attempted genocide against his own people (the Kurds in the late 80s), and slaughtered many of his own people just because they dared question his authority? Do not let the best be the enemy of the good. 7) If by "the anti war movement had it right" you mean Bush should not have gone to Iraq, I think you are right. If, however, you mean Iraq was better off under Saddam, please refer to point 6 above and hang your head in shame for preferring a perfect dictatorship to an imperfect democracy.

  • Steamer
    January 26, 2013 - 15:50

    Keith, your letter is nonsensical at best. Do you think that the invasion of Iraq under dubious pretenses has made the Iraqi people more free? Do you think that the power vacuum and violent stability that exists in the wake of Saddam is normal? I don't think anyone reasonable condones the authoritarianism and terror of Saddam's rule but I don't think that sectarian anarchy forcibly imposed by foreign powers was the solution, either! The American government has, believe it or not, propped up equally evil regimes because they fit into their geopolitical plan! Read about Augusto Pinochet in Chile or Mobutu Sese Seko in the former Zaire to see how they came to power for just two examples of American sponsored dictators who either killed or robbed their people on a massive scale. There are dozens of more examples, Google USA dictator and have your eyes opened... You display a great misunderstanding of world history no matter how much you have improved your geography. Not only that, your letter has no relevance to the discussion about how our students have lost touch with the globe... By the way, how do you propose students gain wordliness? Do you think we should institute conscription and put their boots on the ground in these foreign conflicts? I'm sure they'd never forget where Mali or Syria was on a map if they survived such needless trauma...

  • The Wiz
    January 26, 2013 - 15:03

    "I love you, George Bush. Kiss Kiss." -- Keith Hannaford

    • Keith Hannaford
      January 27, 2013 - 16:54

      In an attempt to demonstrate how useful knowledge of world affairs can be, I made an effort to correct precisely one faulty argument of the antiwar movement and explain how it hurt their own cause. I also made an effort to not to give a direct defense of Bush. I'm sorry to see that effort was wasted.

  • PS Fowler
    January 26, 2013 - 14:40

    Exploration of the new world is not analogous to not knowing where modern countries are.

  • Skeptical Cynic
    January 26, 2013 - 09:57

    With regards to Mr. Hannafords’s dismissal of the anti-war movement against the Bush Administration as having "no idea what they were talking about”, the point he’s trying to make eludes me; I suspect it’s a rambling preamble to somehow justify the deplorable level of geographic knowledge in our so-called “university” students. However, I would remind Mr. Hannaford that the Bush Administration’s justification for the invasion of Iraq... and resultant mass death of tens of thousands of Iraqis and U.S soldiers... was the presumed threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Upon securing the country and searching high and low, U.S. forces found none. So it appears that both sides did not “know what they were talking about” to some degree. And as a result of that tragic error in intelligence, in terms of being “laughably discredited”, I would suggest the Bush Administration earned more than its fair share of that as well. In ending, with regards to Mr. Hannford’s questionable implication that today’s students could not be bothered to Iearn geography unless they are first motivated by issues of morality or global politics, I suppose that if Columbus had been more interested in what passed for “global politics” in 1492 instead of exploration for the sake of geography, he’d have never discovered America.

    • Keith Hannaford
      January 26, 2013 - 14:05

      I did not wish to say that the anti-war movement was more wrong than Bush; rather that an account of their mistakes relates to my greater point. Bush's mistakes were not a matter of geographical knowledge rather than, among other things, deplorable intelligence. You can see, then, how it sits outside my message: the anti-war movement revealed itself as more interested in attacking Bush than defending Iraq, and its lack of knowledge of the world gave them away and hurt their cause. As for your point about Columbus, you've given me an opportunity to clarify something which I did not in my letter: I said that interest in issues like atrocities committed by the Taliban and their ilk contribute to our knowledge of global politics and morality. Such interest would participate in a larger interest in What's Going On. If we focus our concentration on issues and ideas and ask questions that fascinate us (such as "is there anything on the other side of that sublime sea?") we will find ourselves more competently able to talk about the world, geography and all.

    • Keith Hannaford
      January 27, 2013 - 13:19

      I was attempting to be precise in my chosen example. I was not trying to say that the anti-war movement was more wrong than the Bush administration, just that their particular error was relevant to my overall point. The Bush administration's failure was, among other things, a matter of deplorable intelligence, as you indicate. You can see, then, how that sits outside my message that ignorance of the world has crucial consequences, and that such ignorance is the deeper root of an inability to find Algeria on a map. As for your point concerning Columbus, you've given me an opportunity to make clear something I hadn't in the letter: my point wasn't that knowledge of global politics is the highest aspiration, but that such knowledge comes from a general awareness of global ideas and issues and from wondering about the mysteries that lie beyond that sublime sea. A healthy respect for Columbus' personal obsessions and preoccupations as well as the very public political controversies his excursions spurred is exactly the type of thing that might motivate us to open an atlas.

    • Keith
      January 27, 2013 - 16:28

      Whoops, didn't think first one got through. Apologies.