Tag: Al Qaeda

The Kansas City Royals and American Pharoah Saved 2015

Dearies, have not written about American Pharoah capturing the almost unattainable Triple Crown and The Kansas City Royals coming back from the abyss to win the World Series, for fear that I would wake up and discover that it had all been a dream. A glorious dream, but none the less the gossamer wings of a dream…

American Pharoah (2)  Kansas City Royals Win World Series

As we enter 2016, am finding it difficult to express my sorrow over the horrific global events  of 2015. The Paris, San Bernardino and Charleston Church terrorist attacks have turned the World on its head. We have been shaken to our core.

Paris After ISIS Attacks 2 San Bernardino Charleston Church Victims

The continuing genocide in Syria with the relentless bombings of Syrian citizens by Vladimir Putin and Bashar Al-Assad, created a humanitarian crisis the likes of which the World has not seen since World War 2. The deliberate starvation of of Madaya and Zabadani, the flight of Syrian Refugees and our failure to act, have almost paralyzed us.

Syrian Refugee Camp  Alan Kurdi  ISIS Flag

The year started with the horrific massacre of French political cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine, by Al Quaeda. Al Shabaab, an Al Queda branch, murders 148 at Garissa University College in Kenya. ISIS – the radical Sunni brand, expands its House of War – exploiting the chaos of the Middle East, to Europe and beyond. Disenfranchised youth from around the World are answering their siren call. ISIS continued its public beheadings, the murder and sexual enslavement of tens of thousands of citizens trapped in their grasp and the destruction of historic landmarks,.

No one in their right mind could have predicted the rise of bombastic, bloviating buffoon Donald Trump. His high-jacking of the Republican Party and polarizing of The Angry American Right Wing is breathtaking to contemplate. The GOP Clown Car is full: Space-cadet Ben Carson proves that going off of your psych meds can be a very dangerous thing, and Carly Fiorina demonstrates that grinding Hewlett Packard into the dust was just a warm-up for a Presidential run.  Jeb Bush underscores the fact that Dubya was indeed a doofus. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are embarrassments to their Hispanic roots: Mike Huckabee and rest of this motley crew prove that GOP Jesus is a vengeful, hateful, hypocrite. NEVER in its history has the GOP sunk this low. Teddy Roosevelt is turning over in his grave!

GOP Clown Car Toon (2)    Donald Trump Putin Horse BFFs

Canada’s very own fascists, The Alliance Party-In-Conservative-Clothing, were vanquished by an angry Canadian electorate. Stephen Harper was relegated to the dustbin of History. The Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau – son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau were elected by acclamation. Mine was not one of his votes, but I do wish he and his Cabinet well. They have the Herculean task of undoing nearly 10 years of Harper damage. Especially wish my friend Harjit Sajjan well, as new Defense Minister. Australia’s ruling Liberal Party dumped their despotic leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

HarperTrudeau Cabinet Tony Abbott

But I digress…

Watching American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza romp home in the Kentucky Derby, for trainer Bob Baffert and Owner Ahmed Zayat, had my heart pounding. His victory in the Preakness Stakes left me breathless and fearfully hopeful. But his victory in the Belmont Stakes in early June, accomplished what no other horse has since Affirmed and jockey Steve Cauthen in 1978…They won the Triple Crown. It was the same feeling of elation I had, being at Belmont to see Affirmed win. The Heart of a Champions is biggest of all…

American Pharoah KD WinnersCircle

And then, that Cinderella of baseball teams, the Kansas City Royals – who knew only too well that defeat can be snatched from the jaws of victory, made it into the World Series again, looking to end a 30-year drought. What General Manager Dayton Moore and Manager Ned Yost did for team owner David D. Glass was magical. Salvador Perez, Drew Butera, Lorenzo Cain, Christian Colon, Johnny Cueto, Wade Davis,  Danny Duffy,  Jarrod Dyson, Alcides Escobar,  Alex Gordon, Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, Eric Hosmer, Ryan Madson, Kris Medlen, Raul Mondesi, Franklin Morales, Kendrys Morales, Mike Mousakis, Paulo Orlando, Alex Rios, Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Ben Zobrist  all played with The Heart of Champions.

KC Royals

So it comes down to this – Did Kansas City winning the World Series or American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown, stop the bombing in Syria, the carnage in Paris or the chaos in the Middle East? No, they did not. But sport is also  a metaphor for Life.

As that great wit and raconteur, the late and much-missed Yogi Berra said, it ain’t over til it’s over. Terrorism, genocide, refugee crisis’ – man’s inhumanity to man, will always be with us. Thankfully, the Kansas City Royals and American Pharoah continue to write their stories.  There will always be another pennant to chase, a baby champion to create  and an impossible race or game to win.

And there will always be a reason for Hope in The Better Angels of Our Nature.

 

In Remembrance…Since humans emerged from the primordial slime, man has waged war.

National_War_Memorial

Since humans emerged from the primordial slime, man has waged war.

And I do say “man” Dearies, because with all of that male testosterone raging, women in general, have kept the home fires burning.

Like other members of the animal kingdom, man has lifted his leg and marked his territory, fighting and dying to protect it.

From Biblical battles, to the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens, to The Crusades,

Thermopylae                    Crusaders

The War of the Roses, The Hundred Years War, The Napoleonic Wars and the Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo,The War of American Independence, The Civil War, The Anglo-Egyptian War,The Russian Revolution, The Boer War, WW1.

Battle_of_Waterloo_1815  civil-war-generals-and-statesman-with-names-war-is-hell-store

WW1 – The Great War, The War to End All Wars, sadly didn’t. WW2 and the Holocaust followed, the Korean War, The Cold War, Vietnam, Margaret Thatcher’s sort of Falklands War. Ethnic Cleansing became the euphemism for genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda. These are just a few of the many wars waged around the world.

Archduke Ferdinand  hitleer  rwanda

And then came 9/11, and the subsequent War on Terror. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan/India/Kashmir, Iran, Korea.

twin towers

The Berlin Wall may have come down and détente prevailed, but Vladmir Putin takes Russia’s failed war in Afghanistan and turns to reconsolidating the old Soviet Union, starting with Crimea and the Ukraine.

Hutus/Tutsi, Hindus/Muslims, Israelis/Palestinians, and on and on and on…

The latest global threat is seen as Al Qaeda and ISIS. The radical Islamic World is at war with those who are non-believers. And so, history keeps repeating itself from The Crusades and beyond.

The world’s rivers have run red with blood. Empires have risen and crumbled. Democracy continues to be won and lost.

Canadians are world renown as Peace Makers but we descend from and can be the fiercest of warriors. Canada has never failed to step up to the plate, albeit with quiet humility.

My Canadian grandfather fled the Russian pogroms to join the French Foreign Legion and eventually the British Army in WW1. He married then, and emigrated to Canada to start a new life. A short, wiry, stoic man, he raised 4 children and never talked about the horrors he experienced.

My father lied about his age and joined the Royal Canadian Navy. He served in North Atlantic convoys throughout WW2. His older brothers joined the Navy and the Air Force. While the Navy lads rarely discussed the War, my other uncle was a war artist for the Air Force. He accompanied Canadian troops as they helped liberate the Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald concentration camps. The horror of what he saw there, forever changed his life and influenced his art.

My father met my mother during a layover in Glasgow, when my Scottish grandfather came down to the docks to invite 3 sailors home for Saturday lunch. He regretted this generosity for the rest of his life. Dad returned to Glasgow after the war, and I was eventually born there. This is how War shapes lives.

On this Remembrance Day, I think about Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, standing ceremonial watch outside of the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa. Cpl. Cirillo served in the Argyll  and Sutherland Highland Regiment . He was gunned down as he stood safely at ease, after serving in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, the killing zone. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run over and killed near his barracks in Quebec earlier in the week. Both were murdered by acolytes of an ideology gaining ground among marginalized, disenfranchised youth.

Patrice Vincent  Nathan Cirillo

From pitched battles to trench warfare to guerrilla warfare to the current insurgencies and proxy battles of lone wolves and drone warfare…

And of course, War breeds spies, from ancient regimes to fictional Britain’s’ Cold War-weary George Smiley and America’s War on Terror, bipolar Carrie Mathison. Perhaps traitorous mole Bill Hayden said it best when explaining his betrayal to Smiley in John le Carre’s Tinker,Tailor, Soldier Spy: “We were bluffed, George. You, me, even Control. Those Circus talent spotters, all those years ago. They plucked us when we were golden with hope, told us we were on our way to the Holy Grail… freedom’s protectors!”

We have always commemorated War in stone and bronze and oil on canvas. My fondest wish is that we will also continue to fight for and commemorate Peace and Freedom, but at the same time remember the history that has brought us here.