Monday, April 30, 2007

Rebuilding Iraq the very expensive way

'... at a maternity and children's hospital in Irbil a sophisticated oxygen distribution system was not used because staff did not trust it.
In the same hospital needles and bandages were tossed into the sewer system, which frequently blocked, because an incinerator installed to deal with such waste was not in use.According to the report, this was "because those initially trained to operate the incinerator were no longer employed at the hospital" and because the door to the incinerator was padlocked and no-one knew who had the key.'

When reading this, an experience of my own flashed into my mind. I was doing some work in Kuwait, and I showed up one week-day to find that the only person in the building other than me was a janitor. Nobody had mentioned to me the day before that they weren't going to be coming to work, and the following day nobody seemed inclined to explain their absence. The fact that I had flown to Kuwait to do work that was costing them many hundreds of pounds a day didn't seem to register with them at all. And the guy who was supposed to be managing my work while I was on site spent 99% of his time playing a very noisy racing game on his PC. Three months after my visit, a colleague of mine went to the site and found everything exactly as I had left it, completely un-used and neglected.

I very quickly got acclimitised to the middle eastern attitudes to work. This was mainly that the higher you were in an organisation, the less time you would spend thinking about work, let alone doing any. I'm not sure why the US is transferring great quantities of expensive hardware to Iraq when the track record for this kind of technology transfer is so godawful. The infrastructure that should get fixed first is the oldest. Mend the roads, mend the bridges, make sure the hospitals have beds and mops. Putting in multi-million pound generators that no Iraqi has any idea how to run or maintain seems hopeful at best, doltish at worst.

I think of it as the AK-47 theory of existence. The best infantry weapon is not the most accurate or the most expensive one. Its the one that a 17-year-old recruit can shoot reasonably well with from day one, even after he drags it though a swamp and doesn't bother to clean it. The best technology is the one that yields decent results when used by an average person in that particular place. If that is a shovel rather than a backhoe, go with the shovel. Trying to turn Iraq into California in two or three years is plain dumb. A lot of US taxpayers money is being wasted trying to do it, and its not clever.

Not complex at all

Although I do not agree with the way the land resettlement was carried out, I feel that it was necessary - remember the Lancaster Agreement? The whites did not pay the blacks for the land when they took it away, but now everyone is crying foul! Yes, it happened a long time ago, but the effects lingered. The price of taking the land from producing farmers is steep and is being paid by the country. This price is only heightened by corruption and greed. Let's not oversimplify it. It's complex.
Mwana, Harare

Found this comment on the BBC Discussion forum. This was the topic:

What can stop Zimbabwe's decline?
The EU has stepped up the pressure on Zimbabwe by widening travel bans on top officials in President Robert Mugabe's regime.The latest sanctions are in response to the assaults on opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters by state security agents in March.The political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening at an alarming rate with inflation at 2200% and over four million people in desperate need of food.

Mwana is wrong- its not complex. The problem is very simple. Robert Mugabe made the judgement that rather than phasing land into black ownership by buying farms from their owners at market rates and gradually placing them into the hands of competent black managers/owners, he would just sweep the white farmers off the land in a grand dramatic gesture beloved of marxist dictators the world over. Its as simple as that. Before Mugabe did this idiotic thing, Zimbabwe was ticking along relatively well. Since he did it, Zimbabwe has disappeared down the toilet.

Many of the white farmers who used to own farms in Zimbabwe bought them since 'Independence'. If you were a cultural marxist, I guess you could argue that this was a form of economic colonialism, but most of us wouldn't. Many were committed to Zimbabwe and didn't see their white skin as making them less legitimate Zimbabweans. But Mr Mugabe is a racist. He believes only black people should own land in Zimbabwe and thats what he's got now. He will not even allow whites to buy farms off the corrupt ZANU bigwigs. They are only allowed a 100-year lease. So, no Mwana, its not complex at all. Zimbabwe is paying a catastrophic price for one decision by one paranoid racist old man, made to impress all the other old marxists.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

What if they gave a war, and the wrong guys won?

It struck me while reading this post by an embedded reporter in Al-Anbar province of Iraq that the media will soon kill stories about Iraq. The reason is, the wrong guys are winning. After telling us non-stop and with utter conviction (see everything ever written about Iraq by John Simpson) that America could not win in Iraq, the media now face a situation where exactly that is happening. How will they respond? They will snuff out the story. Whenever our marxist media see a story panning out the wrong way, that story will go into the deep freeze. So in exactly the same way that news from New Orleans stopped abruptly when the federal troops and trucks full of supplies showed up, Iraq will appear in our newspapers and on our TV screens as often as Panama does (Panama was a completely successful US intervention). More than at any time I can remember, the role that big media sees for itself is to automatically, dogmatically and obdurately oppose British and American positive actions in the world.

How much press did the huge American naval and marine humanitarian mission in Banda Aceh get in comparison with the rude hijinks at Abu-Ghraib? The first story was a one day, page 41 half-a-paragraph, while the second ran for forty consecutive days on the front page of the New York Times. All of the non-mainstream news sources reporting on Iraq point to three big changes- the Sunni Arabs turning against Al-Qaeda in Iraq; the suppression of militia murder in Baghdad; and the success of small-scale infantry dispersal tactics in cutting out most opportunities for insurgent activity all over Iraq. I can't find reference to any of this in most mainstream media outlets. The Daily Telegraph, which used to be very sound on matters military has gone completely fluffy. Most of the rest of media seem to take pride in knowing nothing about the military campaigns except to assure us they are going badly.

But there will come a tipping point where even the most rigidly orthodox America-hater will not be able to deny that the situation in Iraq is turning around. And at that point, everything will go silent and the Iraq insurgency will be forgotten and the mainstream media will try to pretend they were never interested in it. Just like in the Soviet Union, history will be subjected to 'cleansing' to make sure that no ideologically incorrect lessons can be learned from it.

We need a new media. Ours is broken.

Act soon or face oblivion

Absolutely fascinating (although somewhat amateurish) investigation into the origins of political correctness. I have to admit that most of this information was new to me, and it does explain an awful lot. As someone points out, by the 1950's Marxism was bankrupt and was seen not to work, and the working class were not interested in its offerings. It had to find a new way to destroy western society. So it used anybody who had an existing grievance (women, blacks, gays etc) or who could be persuaded to see the world through the eyes of perpetual grievance (students) to attack our culture. Their success has probably been beyond their wildest dreams.

I believe we are one, maybe two generations away from seeing the complete success of their endeavor. All across the board, our cultural institutions and way of life are under attack, if not already destroyed and neutralised. Even our armed forces seem to have been destroyed from the inside by this demonic ideology. There was a documentary on TV the other night about a young British paratrooper who was just finishing his first tour in Afghanistan. He seems to have spent most of his time there hiding in a bunker, flinching every time a mortar hit anywhere in the same county. At the end of the documentary, he says directly to camera that he is glad he's going back to England, and he never ever wants people shooting at him in anger again. Has the fighting spirit of our nation deteriorated to the point where our para's are such wimps that even some highly inaccurate small arms fire is enough to send them running crying back to mummy?

Saying that, at least now that we know the source of the Political Correctness disease, a cure may be found and applied before its too late. It may take an almost volcanic overthrowing of the status quo in the institutions where Political Correctness/mutant Marxism has completely won the day, but I believe there is still time to do something.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Qassam queries

"In recent months, Fatah—and not Hamas—has been responsible for many of the Qassam rocket attacks and interdicted terrorist infiltrations into Israel."

"Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ordered what officials called limited military action in Gaza after renewed rocket fire by Palestinian militants... On Tuesday, the armed wing of the Hamas movement said a five-month truce with Israel was over. It fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel, but no-one was injured."

Who you gonna believe? According to the BBC a) Qassams are a Hamas thing and b) there haven't been any Qassams for the last five months. The people of Sderot might be able to help them out with some facts. If the BBC ever bothered to ask them. The Israeli government have not been responding to the Qassam attacks over the last few months because they wanted the world to see that no Palestinian 'ceasefire' was worth the paper it was printed on. But at some point, making your point has to take a back seat to protecting your people. They know that Gaza is turning into an armed camp of various strains of Al-Qaeda-type Islamists often working hand in glove with Fatah. Interestingly, Egypt is now paying close attention too, as the last thing they want is the influence of those groups spreading South as well as North. Watch for Egypt to play a quiet backup role to Israel in neutralising the Islamist upsurge in Gaza. No point checking the Beeb website for that though! Remember, if it ain't Pali propaganda, the Beeb ain't buying. Got to laugh at that 'but no-one was injured' add-on. Makes it sound like it was a polite shot across the bows...

Leave the Somalis alone- they like killing each other

"Somalia is relevant to the Somalis. Who have to face decades of incessant meddling by foreigners. Lately, Bush Halliburton & Co have basically decided that any 'government' is acceptable whether it be warlords, killers, traitors to rule Somalia. They have just installed a puppet president. Ethiopians are used as cannon. Everything is done under the 'war on terror' there is no policy. Whatsoever. "

Thanks for that contribution to global debate. Its always nice when people don't let illiteracy and illogicality prevent them from speaking out! And as if you needed a reminder, nothing is evil in the world until America has something to do with it. Our esteemed commentator says "Bush Halliburton & Co have basically decided that any 'government' is acceptable whether it be warlords, killers, traitors to rule Somalia". Would he prefer what Somalia had before, ie no government of any kind? If BushalliburtonCo have any sense, they will have come to the conclusion that virtually any government at all would be a step up from slow-bleed communal suicide by warlord. And the fact that our contributor, along with all the lefties in Britain, would prefer bloody internicine anarchy to a government that America had anything at all to do with tells us a lot about what we confront in the world. This is not just a lack of logic people. This is an absence of any genuine moral base. People and their welfare are nothing. Only the embarrassment and defeat of America is worth pursuing.

The US intervened unilaterally against Serbia on behalf of Muslim Albanians in Kosovo under Bill Clinton. Thousands, possibly tens of thousands of Muslim lives were saved as a result. The US did not intervene in Algeria during its terrible GIA and GSPC insurgencies, and a hundred and fifty thousand people died. Which action was more moral? What would the public reaction have been amongst all the highly politicised Muslims in the west? Lets face it- the lefties and Muslims have no real interest in the outcomes for people in Iraq, Somalia or Algeria. Disgusting festering wars where thousands and thousands die at the hands of Muslims can go on for generations without these people deigning to comment. But as soon as the US special forces help out the Ethiopians in attempting to snuff out the war and bring back civil society, their wails and groans can be heard the length of the land.

I am totally sick of this grotesque excuse for a moral system. The universities and media outlets where this 'moral system' metastasizes need to be retaken by those with a genuine moral compass. Oh, and by the way, I bet you haven't been living in Mogadishu the last 20 years Anonymous. You're probably tucked up in Finsbury Park.

The Dr Johnsons of Political Correctese

Excellent efforts to translate the language of Political Correctness into English. Unusually, the English website shows a lot more effort and thought than the American one. One teensy weensy criticism- the Lefty Lexicon doesn't really discriminate between the trendy language of British governance, and Politically-Correctese. If Political Correctness has a definite constituency, it is everyone in Britain (and the rest of the developed world) who hates our traditional ways of life and political orthodoxies. There are a significant number of these people in the Labour party, who govern the country of course. But Political Correctness can be found all across the nation, in workplaces, town halls, pubs, social clubs and sports facilities. The trendy language of government incorporates a number of Political Correctnesses. But it is a separate thing, and many of its unique terms are not particularly Politically Correct in nature. I hate to carp, but I am after all the child of two English teachers.

So I would like to encourage the Lefty Lexicon crowd to create from their current Lexicon two Lexici (?), The Politically Correct Lexicon, and the Trendy Government Lingo Lexicon. Or maybe I'll do it. What I must congratulate the Lefty Lexicon folk on is that their definitions are both thoughtfull and funny. Humour is one of our most potent weapons against the earnest and dreary Politically Correct legions. That, and surprise of course...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Somalia: the worlds least relevant war?

I'm big enough of a man to admit when I'm wrong. Thanks to Eritrea and its deathly hatred of Ethiopia (remind anyone of Iran?) there is an ongoing insurgency in Somalia. I say 'insurgency'. Its difficult to know what to call a conflict where 'the Hawiye (a clan name) coalition of clans on one side and the Darod (another clan) coalition [are] on the other. The Hawiye are backed by Eritrea and Islamic radicals, while Darod is allied with Ethiopia and the many nations that helped put the Transitional Government together.' Proxy war between two of Somalia's neighbors? Islamists and armed thugs vs Ethiopian troops and Somali Govmt ragamuffins? Anybody got a clue whats REALLY at stake? I mean, other than a few thousand square miles of scrubby desert? Apart from the Jihadi's, has anybody got a genuine motivation? Saying that, a couple of years ago Ethiopia and Eritrea had a war over much less (a strip of nothingy desert on their respective border), so I guess they don't require much.

What seems to be missing from the scene is any genuine sense that Somalians want peace rather than scrappy incessant low-scale war. Weird.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sheryl Crow puts on her thinking cap

"Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating.
"I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting."

Pass another law! Go on, we don't have nearly enough of those already! Would it be too much to ask Ms Crow to do the investigating in her mind, and leave the public out of it?

I'm guessing that Sheryl doesn't spend much time in huge steelworks or gas power stations or plastics factories. Trendy bars is probably more her scene. So, just as an aide-memoire, I've put together a few facts for her.

Using millions of softwood conifers to make paper = good for co2 levels
Gigantic coal-powered power stations = bad for co2 levels

Another thing- three hundred million Americans driving SUV's don't make nearly as much of an impact on co2 levels as Indian cows and chinese pigs do. Remember: eco-warrior guilt and proper science are bad bedfellows.

Oh, and using one sheet of toilet paper leaves you with sticky fingers and a slow-burning anger with pop-musicians.

Algeria and invincible igorance

"The country's 11-year civil conflict has pitted self-proclaimed radical Muslims against moderate Muslims. Approximately 150,000 civilians, terrorists, and security forces had been killed by the end of 2003. Extremist self-proclaimed Islamists have issued public threats against all "infidels" in the country, both foreigners and citizens, and have killed both Muslims and non-Muslims, including missionaries. Extremists continued attacks against both the Government and moderate Muslim and secular civilians; however, the level of violence perpetrated by these terrorists continued to decline during the period covered by this report. There were 183 civilian deaths due to terrorism in the first 6 months of 2003, compared with 313 civilians killed in the same period in 2002. These figures contrast with more than 1,000 killings per month several years earlier. The majority of the country's terrorist groups, as a rule, do not differentiate between religious and political killings. During the period covered by this report, the majority of cases of security force and civilian deaths at the hands of terrorists were a result of knifings (particularly throat-slitting) and shootings. Terrorists, often claiming religious justification for their actions, set up roadblocks to kill civilians and security force personnel."

Algeria didn't invade Iraq. Algeria has never been part of any 'coalition of the willing'. Algeria has every provision for a Muslim way of life. Yet in 11 years 150,000 people have been murdered, often in the most horrific way imaginable by the same people who want Britain to become part of the umma. You will never get the marxists and the terrorist-supporters to discuss Algeria. It just doesn't fit any of their conspiracy theories about colonial oppression and why the world is as it is. I met an Algerian in London recently who despaired of ever getting British people to understand that Algeria is a secular country under the most gruesome seige. Certainly the British government, aside from Mr Blair, seems completely unpeturbed by the parallels between Islamists in Britain and Islamists in Algeria.

None of the guilt and self-abasement derived nonsense about our terrible crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan stands up to scrutiny- but then long before the beginning of the present century, the Islamist writing was already on the wall.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Muslim Brotherhoods founder dissected

Found this on Little Green Footballs. A must-read for anybody who wants the answer to 'Why do they hate us?'

"But the last paragraphs of Qutb’s American memoir suggest just how far outside normal discourse his mind was wont to stray. After noting the stupidity of his Greeley neighbors, who failed to understand his dry and cutting jokes, Qutb writes: “In summary, anything that requires a touch of elegance is not for the American, even haircuts! For there was not one instance in which I had a haircut there when I did not return home to even with my own hands what the barber had wrought.” This culminating example of inescapable barbarism led directly to his conclusion. “Humanity makes the gravest of errors and risks losing its account of morals, if it makes America its example.”
Turning a haircut into a matter of grave moral significance is the work of a fanatic."

Mr Von Drehle could have been much harsher on Qutb. This genius was actually enrolled at a university! How did he make it through any of his courses, with logic and judgement drunken frat boys could exceed without effort?

Its not hard to imagine, though, how galling it must be for men like Qutb, who believe that Islamic culture, art and religion are the pinnacle of human civilisation to see how little interest anyone outside the Muslim heartlands has in it- unlike America, whose culture, religion and clothing are mimicked all across the globe. I think I know the root of the rage- its the rage of those who want their Koran, their prophet, their rules and their clothes to be loved by the world, and the world just won't cooperate. No matter how many heads they hack off, no matter how many lawsuits they use to strong arm their critics, no matter how many hostile filmmakers they stab to death, they just can't get us to love them. They are still the 7th century throwback losers that they always were, and America is still the great beacon of hope and optimism. It must be a real bitch.

And when the forces of hope and optimism mobilise against those of bitterness and envy, there will only be one winner.

Very funny, very true

A good metaphor for Terrorism

Found this on the 910/Vigilant Freedom Forum:

Sept. 26, 2001, New York Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasnianski wrote: "Terrorism is like a cancer, and you never make peace with cancer. Certain battles you don't have the luxury to grow tired of. Terrorism is a malignant tumor, and you don't make peace with a tumor. If you play nice with cancer, it will kill you. Show mercy to a tumor and it will metastasize and mercilessly kill you and kill itself in the process. The only merciful thing to do is to eradicate, destroy and pulverize the tumor into oblivion."

Exactly. For further elucidation please see the difference between Iraq and Israel over the last 18 months. Israel has almost completely destroyed the ability of Al-Aqsa Martyrs, Hamas and the other smaller groups to infiltrate and terrorise inside Israel. The US and Britain, on the other hand, have not 'pulverized the tumor' in Iraq at all, but have allowed it to 'metastasize'. Despite the discernable progress of the surge, it may be too late for an Iraq which as become laden down with many cancers.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pioneers of 7th Century dress

"The last four years in the lives of TV presenters Hala El Malki and Ghada El Tawil have been a continuous struggle brought about by their employers' refusal to implement two court verdicts.
It all started in 2002 when the two presenters decided to wear the hijab head covering worn by many Muslim women...

During the past four years more than 30 female anchors working in state TV are thought to have chosen the veil at the expense of their jobs. But if these two pioneers, Ms Malki and Ms Tawil, eventually return to the screen with their hijabs, the state broadcaster could find many others wanting to follow their example."

This is not an op-ed. Its a news story. Well, sort of. Egyptians have not historically worn Arabic dress. It is only very very recently that Saudi clothing styles have come to dominate. So there's no Egyptian heritage at stake. All over the world, the Arabisation of Muslims continues apace. The clothing, the murderous jihad philosphy, the cantankerous relationship with secular governments- all are becoming the 'uniform' of political Islam. I assume that in calling these two women pioneers Ranyah Sabry, the propagandist being paid by the BBC in Cairo, is touting them in the language used in the west for radical feminists. Pioneers risk their own safety and well-being to lead other people into new and exciting areas. Given that Arab women have been dressing like this for millenia, how can these Egyptians be described as pioneers exactly? Its a bit like a black woman in 2007 sitting at the back of a bus in Selma, insisting that other black women do it too, and calling herself a pioneer. It grieves me that Egypt, one of the cradles of civilisation, is sliding inexorably into the Islamist cesspit.

Iraq invasion fallout

"MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The heads of seven men who were
kidnapped by the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group on
southern Jolo island were delivered to a Philippine army
detachment on Thursday, officials said.
The men - six road project workers and a dried-fish
factory worker - were snatched at gunpoint in two separate
incidents Monday near the town of Parang."

That will teach the Phillipino's for invading Iraq! They MADE them become terrorists...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Milburn on the EU

Also in Todays Times Alan Milburn gets to grips with the direction the EU is taking. I say 'gets to grips with' in the loosest sense those words can have... like most politicians, his idea of really getting to grips with something involves writing up some new legislation. Its a much better written piece than the barely literate noodlings of James Purnell and Jim Murphy I blogged about last month. At least Mr Milburn has recognisably tried to contend with the 'challenges' presented by EU membership. And I agree with his analysis of the main problem- the huge and growing distance between the citizenry of the member countries and the tiny groups of people among whom EU offices are allocated.

But there is little in this piece about why the estrangement exists, and genuinely transformative ideas about how to change it. Europes peoples have had their identities as nations and peoples for millenia in many cases. Trying to change that into some sort of generic 'Europeanness' is therefore a massive challenge. Even in the US, where being an American is seen by virtually everyone as a genuine and valid identity, there are still many regional differences. I know no-one who sees themselves as European first and English second. Perhaps these people exist, but they are invisible and nobody in politics bothers trying to appeal to them. And to change this situation, Mr Milburn suggests "...better linking the results of consultation to decision-making" and "...introducing a citizen's right to initiate new laws." You can understand why those two things would make a politician like the EU more, but I would wager it will leave the man on the Clapham omnibus unmoved.

Leaving aside the terrible abuse of the legislative process that the latter suggestion has led to in places like California, in the (revised) words of the old ad campaign, 'If a lack of European identity is your problem, THAT is not your solution'. I don't personally believe that the EU lacks democratic processes and theoretical democratic legitimacy. I believe it does lack democratic processes that people trust, and practical democratic legitimacy. Every now and again, there is an EU vote in my constituency. I have never voted in it. None of the candidates has ever contacted me in any way either directly or indirectly. Even if they had, I'm not sure what kind of clout my MEP(s) would have. I have rightly or wrongly got the impression from reading newspaper reports that the EU parliament is a talking shop for socialists, whose most serious work means very very little. I also have the impression that all the really important things that happen in the EU go through the Commission (which may or may not be the Council of Ministers). I do know that there are very few Commissioners (25?). Which means that 25 people have an almost god-like power over 600 million or so.

I also know that the EU has budgets of billions, maybe trillions of Euros. I also know that even as a concerned, highly political and interested EU citizen, I have never seen an easily digested statistical breakdown of who and what that money is spent on. Unlike in the United States, where from the very beginning, the Federal Government was created and limited by the Constitution, the EU seems messy, badly thought-out and very... French. By that, I refer to the chaotic and sub-standard nature of French political settlements since 1789. I think they are on their sixth Republic and from my readings of reports about their politics, this one is as clunky and prone to abuse as the previous five. The current situation where we have this proto-United-States type Union but without the simple and brilliantly thought-out rules of a proper constitution just reinforces in my mind what I think is the main structural flaw of the EU: that it is being created from many many old pieces all with a highly particular character.

The recently rejected EU constitution (I have read a precis of it) is a jumble of the loftily vacuous with the bizarrely specific, and has all the worst hallmarks of a committee-written document. Unlike the US constitution which has a superbly clear mind about what institutions a nation genuinely needs, and what roles it must fulfil for the public. The EU constitution blathers on about micro-institution after micro-institution in a way that just screams 'pandering to interest groups'. The enlightenment scholars who created the US constitution painted in just a few strokes a clear and strong polity. The EU constitution is a great Jackson Pollock of a mess.

I'm happy to keep the EU a free trading area, maybe even with other cross-border agreements for sharing information on criminals and other matters of mutual interest. But the rest of the cargo of unnecessary and self-sustaining institutions can be happily discarded. I would be happy if the EU Parliament never again convened to prattle on about the latest modish socialist crap. And the EU Commission should be shorn of all but the merest bureaucratic power. I'd vote for that!

Can I have a job at the Times please?

Alice Miles has a column in the Times today.

"Yep, I'm afraid that of all the important things happening in the world, I found myself most taken by an entire page in The Sun that began with the slightly unpromising paragraph: "BRAVE Kate Middleton rallied yesterday after her shock split from Prince William- by facing the world with a TENNIS RACKET."

It brought to my mind the words of President Abraham Lincoln to General George McClellan during the US Civil War- "My dear McClellan: If you don't want to use the Army I should like to borrow it for a while." If the most important thing Alice Miles wants to write about is a socialites personal relationships, could I borrow that 900,000- person readership?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Veil yourself you slut

"Muslims will not waver over Veils

Britain's Muslim community overwhelmingly believes that women should be allowed to wear the veil, despite fears that it presents a barrier to integration, a study has found. Almost nine in 10 Muslims think that any government moves to ban the veil would hurt social cohesion."

The picture accompanying the article had this explanatory note "Muslims believe women should be free to wear veils".

As the guys at LGF point out, its not about 'being free to wear veils'. Its about a totally male-dominated religion that says 'wear a veil or you are an evil slut'. We don't call that FREEDOM. We call that SUBJUGATION. Its time for us to say so, very loudly, and insist that in Britain subjugation is not perpetrated on some women by some men because their so-called prophet said they should.

I wish the media in Britain would try to remember this- we don't believe in Islam. He's not our prophet. If he existed at all, he was a misogynist, Jew-hating, Christian-hating paedophile. And his 'commands' should mean absolutely nothing to us. Having a society where all people are treated with an equal amount of decency and respect is what we believe.

Dreary Op Eds that write themselves

In todays Times, Gerard Baker has an absolutely bog-standard response to the Virginia Tech massacre. The title is "Only the names change. And the numbers". He may as well have added "but never the Op Ed arguments."

"Perhaps of all the elements of American exceptionalism... it is the gun culture that foreigners find so hard to understand. The countries religiosity, so at odds with the rest of the developed world these days, its economic system which seems to tolerate vast disparities of income; even all those strange sports Americans enjoy- all of these can at least be understood by the rest of us, even if not shared."

Oh my God! I wince at the parochial, wizened nature of this commentary. Where is the sense of America's unbelievable achievements? Where is the recognition that these gun-totin', Bible-thumping, weird-sport luvvin' wacko's have created an economy twice as big as the next two largest economies, with the longest-lived Democracy and the least corrupt society on the planet? Why does Gerard Baker, indeed all the millions of Gerard Bakers braying at their dinner parties about America's multitudinous crimes and uglinesses, insist on only seeing the negatives? It can't just be envy. What exactly is wrong with being religious? Whats wrong with having an economic system that rewards hard work and creativity and penalises laziness and lassitude? Whats wrong with taking a British sport and re-working it into an American one? Whats wrong with taking personal responsibility for the safety and protection of your family with your own gun?

Only a pitifully diminished man from a pitifully diminished polity would argue that any of those things are wrong. The orthodoxies of 2007 are light years away from the ones that made Britain great. But all is not lost! Soon the wheel will turn, people.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A silent slaughter

'About 190,000 abortions take place in England and Wales annually.'

What an utterly dismal statistic. Hundreds of thousands of selfish and soulless women, living for today. Imagine...

The mighty Coroner

'A coroner has called it "inexcusable" that US authorities failed to release evidence about the first UK casualties of the Iraq war. Andrew Walker was speaking at the reopening of an inquest into the fatal helicopter crash in March 2003. The servicemen died along with four US marines in Kuwait. Mr Walker said that despite "strenuous attempts by his office and the Ministry of Defence", the US had again said it would not provide any American witnesses to give evidence at his hearing.'

I'm a great fan of the historical institutions of my country. Coroners courts do a worthy and useful job. But the idea that during a war you could or should have an inquest for every soldier and airman who dies seems frankly absurd. It is only because of the very low-level intensity of the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that we can pretend that its possible. The logistics for doing a thorough inquest during a war like Vietnam or Korea, let alone the Second World War would have been stupefying.

If the intentions of the Coroner in this case were straightforward, and he was willing to get on with an inquest with the information available, the nonsensical nature of the overall plan to inquest a whole war might escape notice. But the hysterical and hectoring quality of his remarks, both during the present case, as with the Matty Hull inquest, reveal the real purpose of the inquests. They are a highly political attempt to embarrass the United States, for propaganda purposes.

The four men who died in the helicopters were on operations in a live, on-going war. Reasonable people will regret their deaths and understand why all the details of their last moments may not be known- in fact may never be known. Many widows and children of servicemen from 20th century wars Britain was involved in do not know the exact circumstances of their mens deaths- just another brutal fact of a brutal process. The Coroner, unless he is exceptionally ignorant or stupid, knows this. Therefore, all the very public bewailing of US supposed non-cooperation is simply a cudgel to beat the hated Americans with, and not part of any useful or rational process. As such, I see it as a despicable corruption of the public office of Coroner, and an abuse of the Inquest process.

Public service in Britain is breaking down, and every act of corruption and abuse adds to the decay.

Right-wing voices talking gibberish

"Our fight after 9-11 was with the Taliban in Afghanistan, we kinda/sorta took care of business there and had em on the run, not destroyed, but on the run, had we actually completed that mission we would be in a much different situation today, but NO, we couldn’t DO that, our A.D.D. president took our forces to Iraq on a personal vendetta, a place we had no business going in the 1st place, but he took us there anyway, with WAY less than enough troops to get the job done, and now Afghanistan is very close to being out of hand again…"

I don't often bother with rebuttals of other blogs output. Its a huge fount, and there is not much mileage to slapdowns. But having read many 'conservative' bloggers arguing the same points as TexasFred, I thought I'd explain why I disagree with every single word of his analysis.

First, 9-11 was not a Taliban job. The Taliban paid the price of hosting Al-Qaeda. They became the dead crow on the fence- a reminder to one and all what happens to those who knowingly harbour America's deadly foes. The Taliban no longer control Afghanistan. Completely destroying the Taliban- 'completing the mission' is a virtually unattainable goal, even for NATO/US. Looking at a map of the North West Frontier Province will tell you why. Get out a ruler, and work out how much room they have to hide in. You would need 5 armies the size of the US army to weed them all out, and even if you did, what exactly would you have achieved? The tribes of the NWFP have always been murderous, lawless and brutal. It is enough from a practical point of view to convince them that harbouring foriegn jihadis is not worth the hassle, and let them get on with their usual pastimes. As long as NATO/US can construct a semblance of a working country in lowland Afghanistan, with proper roads, schools and administrations, they will have won. Completely destroying the Taliban was never a strategic US goal, and rightly so.

'Afghanistan is nearly out of hand again'? Really? Do you people read the news reports AND have access to maps? Most of the fighting in Afghanistan is in two provinces, Helmand and Kandahar, both of which border Pakistan. Both are Pushtun. Both are a long, long way from the capital, Kabul. In the rest of Afghanistan, people are getting back to a relatively normal life. Do I really have to explain to you that the media will NEVER report about the places where people are getting along fine, and ONLY report from the places where stuff is getting blown up. You have to find out about the getting-along-fine stuff yourself, or not at all. Not only that, but for various reasons, the Taliban invasion of Afghanistan scheduled for this spring has not taken place. Main reason? Can't get enough recruits. Main reason for that? Very very short life expectancy for Taliban grunts (as opposed to the brass, who never seem to die).

I have described many times my own view of the US/British invasion of Iraq, and why it was both necessary and good. The ludicrous assertion that Bush attacked Iraq to progress a personal vendetta hardly needs comment. When the history books come to be written, the fact that George W. Bush destroyed the regime which George G. W. Bush had also fought a war with will be a small footnote. The main story is probably best told from the point of view of the megalomaniacal dictator- how Saddam Hussein rose to power in a potentially wealthy, well-organised country, and created his own hell on earth. It will detail how Hussein could not resist the temptation to make war on his neighbors, and tried to build an arsenal of the most awful weapons of war to enhance his personal standing. And how finally, after riding the brink of war with the US for twelve long years, he finally lost the game of bluff. Any description of Iraqi affairs which seeks to diminish the responsibility of the main player is an abuse of history.

There is no evidence that the US had too few troops to invade Iraq with. The invasion was a resounding and comprehensive success. The valid criticisms of US action in Iraq stem from the naivety and ignorance of the men tasked with creating the new Iraqi settlement. Britain had hundreds of years, and thousands of men immersed in the task of ruling other peoples countries- America has virtually no experience at it. Paul Bremers administration did virtually none of the tasks it needed to do, with virtually none of the information it needed to perform those tasks. They behaved towards Iraq as if it were just like Kansas, but with a different language. This failure to get to grips with the particular nature of Iraq virtually guarunteed failure to produce a workable polity. The judicious application of force, combined with a detailed knowledge of the political mechanisms in place in Iraq could have spared many hundreds of thousands of lives. That is a tragedy. It is not, however, evil. The intentions of the US/British coalition are good. But the learning curve is steep, and hopefully next time the US fronts up to an evil dictator, I trust that they will spend five times as long planning his replacement. Carnage is the alternative.

I met many Americans during my time there whose views exactly coincided with TexasFreds- a bizarre mix of ignorance, shrill jingoism, fatalism and xenophobia. I have to say I got very tired of listening to their tirades. Of course for every American like that, there are ten who are knowledgeable, reasonable, rational and open to argument. And it is these latter on whom I pin my hopes for the future of American interventionism in the world. The United Nations was meant to be the means by which the fruit of good governance, world trade and good international behaviour were delivered to the world. But it can't deliver: it is now a completely corrupt and shambolic husk which cannot and will not stop evil regimes from doing evil things to their own people and to other countries (e.g. Sudan, Rwanda, Burma, North Korea, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Kosovo, Iraq etc etc etc). So its up to America, with the help of all the other non-currupt nations, to shoulder the burden. Its a helluva job, but somebody has to do it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Laughter does the soul good like a medicine

1965 and 2007: different worlds

"He was held as a prisoner of war in the Hoa Lo prison for the next seven years. Locked in leg irons in a bath stall, he was routinely tortured and beaten. When told by his captors that he was to be paraded in public, Stockdale slit his scalp with a razor to purposely disfigure himself so that his captors could not use him as propaganda. When they covered his head with a hat, Stockdale beat himself with a stool until his face was swollen beyond recognition. He told them in no uncertain terms that they would never use him. When Stockdale heard that other prisoners were dying under the torture, he slit his wrists and told them that he preferred death to submission."

Yes folks, there is a standard to be maintained about how to behave when you are captured by the enemy. James Stockdale, who would later become a US admiral, demonstrated how in 1965. Its not all that long ago. In my judgement, the amount of pride, of toughness, of self-worth and of spine that has been lost by both Britain and America since that year is intolerably high.

'Royal Navy able seaman Arthur Batchelor, 20, said the suits they were given were "tacky", the CDs and DVDs do not work and there was no sign of his iPod portable media player, worth £160. "The iPod was really special to me as it was a gift," said Batchelor, an operator maintainer. He told the Daily Mirror that he ‘cried and cried like a baby’ in his cell, and one of the worst parts of his 10 days in captivity was being nicknamed ‘Mr Bean’ by his Iranian ‘tormentors’.'

I have no words to describe my disgust at the callowness and lack of a moral dimension in my fellow Britons. Shame on us.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Its their job to know

I remember way back when I was at University in the US, attempting to have a conversation with a professor of mine about the situation in northern Ireland. I really genuinely did not have a clue who the combatant parties were and was looking for some enlightenment. Sadly, my professor just shook his head sagely and said something along the lines of "... its all just too complicated to explain." So I went off and found some books and (this being before the internet was invented) did some research at the library. I was shocked to discover that the situation, while seemingly interminable and difficult to resolve, was not a bit complicated. There were the Catholic republicans and there were the Protestant Unionists, and each had their legit political parties and each had their respective 'militia' or armed gangs. The Catholic republicans wanted the Ulster counties of Northern Ireland to 'rejoin' the country of Ireland, and the Protestant Unionists wanted to remain part of Britain. Both sides engaged in violent acts to achieve their ends and this fault line has existed for at least some hundreds of years.

Whats so hard to figure out about that? I started thinking about this while reading the following:

Moon over the outhouse

from The Daily Telegraph, November 25th 2003

"The other day, a producer called me up and asked if I wanted to take part in a discussion about an American cartoon strip - to whit, B.C. by Johnny Hart, which has been running in a gazillion newspapers around the world for as long as I can remember. I usually check in with it a couple of times a decade while waiting at the gate for a delayed flight, and am happy to find it refreshingly unchanged. It's set in a modified caveman era, which is to say that, like The Flintstones, its characters enjoy certain accoutrements not necessarily consistent with the time period.
On this particular day's strip, Johnny Hart shows us the caveman walking up a hill at night - there is a crescent moon in the sky - and heading for a wooden outhouse, with a crescent moon on the door, as outhouses traditionally have, at least in America. My own outhouse in New Hampshire certainly did, before it was dashed to smithereens in a hurricane (I wasn't inside at the time, and try not to sound upset about that).
Anyway, we next see a sound effect - "SLAM" - to indicate, presumably, the closing of the outhouse door. The final frame shows a speech bubble coming from within the outhouse with the words: "Is it just me, or does it stink in here?" The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) decided this was not an outhouse joke, but an Islamophobic slur disguised as an outhouse joke. A reader in the Washington Post had noticed the six crescent moons in the strip, and suggested this indicated the real target of the gag. Cair drew attention to the fact that the sound effect of the alleged door slamming was stacked vertically, in a pillar-like shape, and thus could reasonably be read as "SLAM" contained within the overall shape of the letter "I" - or "ISLAM".
"Hmm," I said, thoughtfully, to the producer. "It's true that it's very hard to slam an outhouse door from the inside, what with the lack of space and so forth. Difficult to get back far enough to give it a loud enough slam to justify a sound effect. Unless there's a strong wind to whip it shut," I added, recalling my hurricane. "And even then, one would be more concerned to latch it carefully lest another gust blow it open again."
"That's Marshall Blonsky's line," said the producer, a little impatiently. Blonsky is professor of semiotics at the New School in New York and had apparently got to my penetrating insight ahead of me: "You don't slam an outhouse door." Professor Blonsky argues that the cartoon is indisputably constructed "in a polysemic fashion".
"I hadn't thought of that," I said.
"How about this?" said the producer. "If it's really just a sound effect, how come there's no exclamation?" "Hmm," I said, even more thoughtfully than before. In the end, I declined the invitation. Although I agreed of course that Islamophobic cartooning was the most pressing issue of the week, in my usual shallow way I'd become distracted by some of the day's more trivial stories - the 11 Hindus burnt alive by a Muslim gang in Bangladesh, the 13 Christian churches torched by Muslim rioters in the Nigerian town of Kazaure, and the 27 Turks and Britons murdered by Muslim terrorists in Istanbul.
No dead Jews in that particular day's headlines, but otherwise a good haul of Hindus, Christians and, of course, Muslims. Every society has its ugly side: in America, the problem is stone-age cartoons; in Nigeria, it's stone-age - or stoning age - reality. But one can't help noticing that polysemic cartooning seems a notably ineffective way of stirring up anti-Muslim feeling, at least when one looks at preliminary statistics for Muslims murdered in America this Ramadan, compared with Muslims murdered in, say, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
My advice would be to go for the direct approach, like Sheikh Anwar al-Badawi, the A-list imam who does the "Thought For The Day" slot on Qatar TV: "O God, destroy the usurper Jews and the vile Christians." Nothing very polysemic about that. Nothing very polysemic about Cair, either. America's most prominent mainstream Muslim lobby group, it has organised rallies that managed to climax with the singing of "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes." Its chairman, Omar Ahmad, has said that "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant". The Koran "should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth". But its supply of White House invites and presidential photo-ops never seems to dry up, and its willingness to see offence everywhere is treated respectfully by the media.
Meanwhile, while Islamic lobby groups and the most distinguished semiotics professors in America are analysing Johnny Hart's outhouse joke, the European Union's Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia has decided to shelve its report on the rise of anti-Semitism on the Continent. The problem, as reported in The Sunday Telegraph, is that the survey had found that "many anti-Semitic incidents were carried out by Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups", and so a "political decision" was taken not to publish it because of "fears that it would increase hostility towards Muslims".
Let's go back over that slowly and try not to get a headache: the EU's main concern about an actual epidemic of hate crimes against Jews is that it could provoke a hypothetical epidemic of hate crimes against Muslims. You couldn't ask for a better illustration of the uselessness of these thought-police bodies: they're fine for chastising insufficiently guilt-ridden whites in an ongoing reverse-minstrel show of cultural self-abasement, but they don't have the stomach for confronting real racism. A tolerant society is so reluctant to appear intolerant, it would rather tolerate intolerance.
In Holland, the late Pim Fortuyn recognised that at some point the contradiction has to be resolved. In Nigeria and Sudan and other frontiers between the ummah and the rest of the world, it already has - in favour of sharia and the Islamists. It's hard to see why the enervated West should prove any more successful at squaring the circle. But we can at least cherish the absurdities on the way down: European Jews menaced by anti-Semites get less attention than American Muslims menaced by polysemites."

The politically-correct elites that run the EU and many EU countries can't be bothered to find out the 'big-picture' story of why so many young muslims think its just fine and dandy to assault Jews, deface their graveyards and damage their synagogues. They can't be bothered to find out what conditions prevail in the countries of origin of many of the muslim immigrants to Europe, and the implications those conditions have for peace and harmony here. They can spend endless hours discussing Islamaphobia and making sure that prison cells have arrows on the ceiling pointing in the direction of Mecca. They can manfully try to keep up the pretence that because they didn't participate in the Iraq war they have avoided being in the Islamists line of fire. But all their posturing and all their lack of perceptiveness will come with a price tag.

Its not just shameful that the Euro-Elites don't know what they should know- it may come back to haunt all of us.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Zimbabwe: without real hope

HARARE, April 12, 2007 (AFP) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai expressed optimism Thursday about planned talks between
his party and President Robert Mugabe's government to end the crisis
in the country.
"This crisis is going to be resolved through negotiations,"
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Tsvangirai told a news
conference in the capital Harare.
"And ZANU-PF and MDC will sit down and negotiate under the
tutelage and under the facilitation of (South African) President
(Thabo) Mbeki."
Zimbabwe's political crisis deteriorated even further last month
when state security agents assaulted Tsvangirai and scores of
supporters and shot dead an opposition activist as they broke up an
anti-government rally.
Tsvangirai said of the planned talks: "Things are moving. We
want to see how President Mbeki is going to successfully resolve
this crisis
and we wish him well."

A large part of the reason why Zimbabwe still has its kleptocratic, pseudo-marxist dumb-ass government is revealed in Morgan Tsvangarai's words. This is emphatically not Winston Churchill speaking. Its a terrible shame that rather than having leaders, Zimbabwe has blowhards with lots of sad excuses for inaction. Real national leaders in waiting do not shuffle off the dirty work to their neighbors the instant it becomes possible. My mind wanders to Charles De Gaulle, who acted like the President of France even when he was only in charge of twelve aide-de-camps. Taking responsibility is a hard thing to do, but huge amounts of good flow from doing it. Will Zimbabweans grow some decisiveness and testicular fortitude before their country crumbles into stone-age squalor?

"This crisis is going to be resolved through negotiations". Really? Nothing from the last 27 years events would lead me to that conclusion. Only the most oafish and stubborn self-deluder would still think that to be the case at this point in Zimbabwe's history. To paraphrase the NRA bumper-sticker, Mugabe will give up the reins of power when they are taken from his cold dead fingers. What used to seem Ghandiesque and laudably statesmanlike in the commitment of the MDC to peaceful resolution of Zimbabwe's crises of government and society now seems pusillanimous and bankrupt. Imagine if in 1939 instead of declaring war on Nazi Germany for invading Poland, Chamberlain sent a strongly worded note protesting the blah blah blah- lets face it, there has to be a line which once crossed means the end of 'resolved through negotiations' and the start of 'hold on to your hat, here come the cavalry'.

Mugabe's legitimacy as a ruler disappeared in the early 1980's, when his special forces murdered twenty thousand people simply because they were ZAPU not ZANU. It is only by the dispensation given to black murderers in charge of black nations that he didn't immediately become a world pariah- had it been Francois Mitterand murdering tens of thousands of his political opponents, I don't think there would have been such a reverential hush. Even when Mugabe started his 'land redistribution' (read large-scale theft) program, most of Europe looked on benignly. After all, the victims were racist white farmers and the recipients landless black people- weren't they? But then once it became obvious to even the most retarded Guardian reader that the bottom had fallen out of the whole Zimbabwean economy as a consequence, and that Mugabe didn't seem to notice, even the politically-correctophiles became slightly anxious. Mugabe seemed disturbingly blase about the entire situation, especially the onset of famine on a biblical scale. If finally began to dawn on people that behind the tired platitudes of the 'liberation struggle', 'defeating colonialism' and 'redistributive justice' lay cynical corruption and a sociopathic lack of concern for actual Zimbaweans.

We now have the bizarre situation where suddenly the whole world seems to have decided Mugabe is a REALLY BAD DICTATOR. Bizarre because although his recent behaviour has been stupid, self-defeating and cack-handed, its evilness is on a misdemeanor level. His felonies are decades old, back when nobody gave a crap. If I was Mugabe, I would be raging at the illogical nature of human affairs. Murdering tens of thousands of people in cold blood gets you a couple of paragraphs on the bottom of page 41, whereas having a handful of political activists beaten up gets block headlines across the globe. Go figure!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Beyond parody, beyond decency, beyond hope;jsessionid=R5LE1CZGKJKTHQFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2007/04/09/nbishops09.xml

Look, April fools day was eight days ago! Isn't it time to stop?

'The Roman Catholic bishop who oversees the armed forces has provoked fury by praising the Iranian leadership for its "forgiveness" and "act of mercy" in freeing the 15 British sailors and marines last week.

Bishop Burns said Iran demonstrated 'faith in a forgiving God'

The Bishop of the Forces, the Rt Rev Tom Burns, said that the religious beliefs of the Iranians had played a large part in their decision to release the hostages after holding them for more than two weeks.His words were echoed by a leading Anglican figure, the Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, who said Iran had acted within the "moral and spiritual tradition of their country" and contrasted this with Britain's "free-floating attitudes".'

The whole blogosphere are roasting these idiots, but its impossible not to join in. I will simply say that when you start taking at face value the things said by a man who denies that the Nazi holocaust happened, you have gone beyond moral equivalency into moral squalor. I want my Church of England back, you wretched imbeciles.

A strategy to prevail in the Middle East

I posted yesterday about the exercise of power. Further to my point,

"Whenever I bemoan the inconclusive end to the [1991] Gulf War, I receive letters from aggrieved veterans pointing out that they blew through Saddam’s much vaunted Republican Guard in nothing flat. That’s correct. But the reality – which Baudrillard appeared to grasp and the realpolitik realists didn’t – is that war isn’t a technical demonstration of superior power but about the willingness to use that power to achieve strategic ends. In that sense, the Gulf War did not take place."

Again, I have to disagree with Mark Steyn. As the Roman legions demonstrated on many occasions, war must be a 'technical demonstration of superior power' as well as the willingness to use that superior power in some achievable strategic cause. To what end did the vast 1991 coalition put its magnificent victories?

"If you stage a devastating bombs-away video game on CNN and at the end the bad guy is still standing, it’s not merely that “nothing has changed”. If Team USA achieves a scoreless draw against the South Sandwich Islands, by definition that’s a much better result for the latter than the former. In other words, the War That Did Not Place was perceived on the Arab street and beyond to have been won by Saddam. To be sure, an elaborate and expensive dictatorial management program was erected by the UN – Oil for Food, No-Fly Zones – but it proved to be a cash cow for him and ensured that the Americans and British spent the years before the 2003 war being berated by the Euroleft and the NGOs for wreaking ongoing humanitarian devastation on Iraq."

The battles won achieved nothing but the bizarre semi-neutering of Saddam- semi in the sense that to the southern Shia, the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds it must have felt like business as usual. A failure of vision and of knowledge by Colin Powell especially meant that in 2003 the US and Britain had to finish off a Saddam who had spent the intervening twelve years assiduously buying the complicity of the French, Germans, Russians and Chinese. No international coalition of any merit could be formed, with the lasting (false) impression that Britain and America were in it for their own strategic gain. If it were only true. Freeing the Iraqis has come at a very high price. Not particularly high in terms of military losses- all the casualties so far are much less than one days casualties in a World War One battle- but in worldwide distrust of America and Britain and the perception that they are agressive neo-colonialists. There is no easy way to dispel this misperception either, as far as I can see.

So what are the strategic goals of the US/British coalition now? Iraq must become not just a recovering basket-case but a beacon of stability, respect for human rights and economic success, along the lines of Germany and Japan post world war two. That will provide strong leverage not just against our ostensible opponents like Iran and Syria, but against the 'benign' despots of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Saudi Arabia needs many curatives- its toxic combination of economic stagnation, militant clericalism and completely locked down politics is a time-bomb. Egypt has a huge population which is gradually being radicalised while its political masters listlessly observe. Egypt will be a huge problem whether is has democracy or not- the Muslim Brotherhood are just waiting for the first genuine elections to turn the country into a Sharia dictatorship.

If Iraq can emerge as not just rich and well-run but secular, combined with Turkey they will represent a potent counter-example to all Middle-easterners that there is another path. And whisper it quietly, but if Iran is well-handled, it could become the first 21st century mullahocracy to shake off the Sharia vice-grip and resume modern life. The signs are manifold that the young population are utterly bored with living like 7th century desert-Arabs, and want something approximating the lifestyle available to us.

The strategic situation I have just described is not only achievable, but there must be quiet confidence in Washington and London that even with an average amount of luck, we can presume that this is how events will come to pass. There is a long way to go, but the path ahead seems clear.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I disagree with Mark Steyn!,CST-EDT-STEYN08.article

"Even if there is more going on than meets the eye, what meets the eye is so profoundly damaging to the credibility of great nations that no amount of lethal special ops could compensate for it. Power is only as great as the perception of power. The Iranians understand that they can't beat America or Britain in tank battles or air strikes so they choose other battlefields on which to hit them. That's why the behavior of the captives gives great cause for concern: There's no point training guys to be tough fighting men of the Royal Marines when you're in a bloody little scrap in Sierra Leone (as they were a couple of years ago) if you allow them to crumple on TV in front of the entire world." [my italics]

I have to diverge from the Steyn theory of power at this point. There are a number of components that go to make up power. One of the most salient of them is 'the perception of power'. 'The perception of power' can get you some cheap wins- if your enemy thinks you are powerful he may never initiate an attack. On the other hand, there is a very limited shelf-life for 'the perception of power' that is backed up by little or nothing. I always go back to the supreme masters of both the theatrical and practical arts of power, the Romans. When Seguntum, a town in Spain very close to the border between the Roman province of Hispania and the Carthaginian Spanish province, was attacked and conquered by Hannibal, the Roman senate immediately declared war on Carthage. They understood the symbolic significance of an attack on Seguntum, which was widely known to be under Romes particular protection. After a devastating and fearful 16 year war, Rome won. Why sacrifice so much for Seguntum, the mainstream media of today would ask? Because Roman power depended on everyone believing that when they promised to protect their allies, every resource and effort would be spent in doing just that. Rome built up such a magnificent reputation for keeping its word that its reputation lives on even into our time. The Romans understood that to be powerful, you needed the military force and the materiel, combined with the political will to use it even in extremis.

What we have not seen yet is whether Britain is still truly powerful. It doesn't look powerful at the moment, but even Rome had its hostages murdered every now and then. What matters is who wins the real battles- the one that the losing party doesn't get up off the mat from. Britain still has some potent weapons. Whether it will have an opportunity to beat Iran in the field remains to be seen. There is still the small matter of Iran's illegal nuclear weapons program. We may well look on the events of the last two weeks quite differently in a years time if next month Britain and America demolish the Iranian nuclear program and Mr Ahmadinejads office.

A mournful contrast

I wish I had something more upbeat to blog about for my 300th post, but there is no script for events, so this is the story: contrast the behaviour of these two US Navy Seals, Danny P. Dietz and Matthew Axelson, with the pathetic spinelessness of the fifteen Royal Navy 'seamen'.

President George Bush-
"I think of two Navy SEALs named Matthew Axelson and Danny [Dietz]. In June of 2005, they were part of a SEAL team operating deep in the mountains of Afghanistan on a mission to kill or capture a Taliban leader. They were discovered, and they were soon surrounded in a mountain ravine by 30 to 40 Taliban fighters. During the firefight that ensued, Axelson urged an injured teammate to escape, and he provided cover before suffering a mortal wound. Fighting nearby, his partner [Dietz] was also mortally wounded, but he too stood his ground and kept firing until finally, he finally died.
Because of the courage of Petty Officers Axelson and [Dietz], their wounded teammate made it out alive."

Petty Officer [Dietz]'s wife-
"Danny and his brothers went toward evil and ran forward and gave their last breath."

'In a statement the MoD said: "Serving personnel are not allowed to enter financial arrangements with media organisations.
"However, in exceptional circumstances such as the awarding of a Victoria Cross or events such as those in recent days, permission can be granted by commanding officers and the MoD."'

I mourn for the lost soul of my nation. I mourn for the ancient warrior spirit of the English apparently extinct.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Chasm of ignorance too deep to bridge?

"The first ethnic minority president of the National Union of Teachers has said ministers fuel racism by ordering schools to teach "British values".
London assistant head teacher Baljeet Ghale told the union's annual conference Britain did not have a monopoly on free speech and tolerance.
The move only fuelled the "shadow of racism" behind some notions of Britishness, she said.
A government spokesman dismissed her claims as "nonsense".
Ms Ghale, who came to England from Kenya at the age of eight, also criticised Labour's record on other education issues."

"At the NUT conference, in Harrogate, Ms Ghale said Education Secretary Alan Johnson had described the "values we hold very dear in Britain" as "free speech, tolerance, respect for the rule of law".
"Well, in what way, I'd like to know, are these values that are not held by the peoples of other countries?" she said. "

Patriotism is a simple, organic pride in the place of your birth, the place of your traditions, the place that you call home. Baljeet Ghale obviously does not feel patriotic. And guess what? She's at the head of the largest group of people who day in day out influence the children of Britain. The people who can repeat over and over to those children the mantra's of politically correct Britain-hatred and white people-hatred. How long can a country frantically trashing its own values and traditions and folk-ways maintain itself?

Oh, and by the way, Ms Ghale, the answer to your (extremely badly phrased) question about free speech, tolerance and respect for the rule of law is very few countries actually have them as opposed to paying them lip service. But then you'd need to have got outside your echo chamber of politically correct college friends and visited some other countries to find that out.

Can Britain really sustain this constant calling into question of its obvious virtues? Can people who are constantly told that they are racist, intolerant and intrinsically evil refrain from simply saying, 'OK, we are those things so we'll start behaving like we are'? At which point, Ms Ghale will probably find herself very quickly hung from the nearest lamppost, which is what happens when foreigners viciously insult their host countries in most parts of the world. I don't want to see a Britain like that. But to avoid it, this perpetual invoking of a grossly distorted spectre of Britain must be confronted and rebutted.

Iranian hostage-taking 2007

I have to admit that I am ambiguous about the whole Iranian sailor-capture and propaganda storm vignette. Because of Iraq and the politics of that war, there are many aspects to this event that would not be present were this just a 'normal' year. Iran is motivated at the moment by two overriding factors, I believe: firstly, a desire to avenge the humiliation of the Al-Kuds officers arrested in Iraq; and secondly, the desire to gain leverage in their dispute with the international community over their Nuclear weapons program. Unfortunately, as is often the way in life, doing something to achieve one of your goals may actually reduce the likelihood of achieving another of them.

If you were a fly on the wall of the discussions that went on during the 13 days that Iran had the British sailors in their custody, I imagine that very many of them hinged on exactly this point. Culturally the Iranians are very sensitive to being publicly humiliated, and the highly visible US detention and imprisonment of their Al-Kuds operatives was a huge humiliation for them in the Middle East. It would have been seen as that both in pro and anti-Iranian places. So they felt they must return the favour- come what may.

Unfortunately, the 'come what may' could be apocalyptic. A third US super carrier group (the USS Nimitz) is steaming to the Persian gulf. And so the other argument being made by those people in Iran with perhaps a firmer grasp on the true mechanics of the current situation must have been that this hostage-taking action was a gift of hefty proportions to the United States. It is so blatantly an engineered humiliation of one of the coalition parties that in many parts of the civilised world a change of mood has occured- Iran is no longer seen as a victim and a counter-weight to over-mighty America, more an engaged protagonist with its own political and machiavellian goals. Thats a bad thing for Iran. It means that if it is on the recieving end of a US/British attack, Irans fate will be seen much more as the playing out of a game of brinkmanship than an act of aggression by imperialist powers.

In geopolitical terms, I therefore see this as a win for the coalition, and a rather pathetic own-goal for the Iranians. There is, however another aspect to this which I can't deny either- and that is the terrible loss of prestige and war-fighting reputation of the Royal Navy. The Navy is a British institution which I love dearly, of whose history and traditions I am an eager student. For 15 Royal Navy sailors to participate as eagerly and dutifully in their own humiliation is a terrible stain on the Royal Navies record. No matter what their mission was on that occasion, the Royal Navy is a fighting service- to be taken prisoner while in Iraqi waters without firing a shot is pathetic enough. But to then take full part in grotesque parades and propaganda shows demonstrates a basic unwillingness to fight and perhaps die as Royal Navy sailors have done for the last 1200 years or so- with grit and honour and pride. When you join the Royal Navy, that is the deal you signed up for.

This bitter gall becomes more unbearable when compared with the obvious willingness of many of the jihadi's in the current conflict to gladly give up their lives in the cause they believe in. While hating their cause and their goals, I admire their fighting spirit and their clarity of purpose. The British used to understand these things in a simple and straightforward way- when serving my country in the armed forces, the mission and the nations honour take precedence over my comfort and my life. Sixty years ago hundreds of thousands of Englishmen and Scotsmen and Welshmen and Irishmen went into battle knowing that to be the case and aquitted themselves superbly well in the main. Are we so in love with our comfort and our psychobabble excuses that we can't fight for our country any more?

As a footnote, I sadly agree with President Ahmadinajad about Faye Turney. What was a woman doing on Royal Navy boarding party anyway? Men behave differently (i.e. more protectively and less aggressively) when women are around. I believe there is a direct link between the decision made by the junior officer leading the boarding party not to resist in being taken hostage, and the presence of a woman. People used to understand the meaning of these things perfectly well- having women in frontline units is a bad idea for precisely this reason. Men are much more likely to stand on an issue of honour when there is no woman present to confuse the motivations and responsibilities involved. A band of brothers with some sisters along is a unit with feet of clay. For evidence of this, read up on the performance of the US marines in Panama, after which the Pentagon removed all women from frontline combat units.

Doing the crime, never doing the time

"Unidentified attackers have fire-bombed a mosque in northern Yemen, injuring about 30 people, officials have said.
Attackers burst into the mosque and sprayed worshippers with petrol before setting them alight, according to Yemen's official news agency, Saba. Eight people had suffered serious burns."

Well this obviously has all the hallmarks of Right Wing Christian fundamentalists. According to the schools authorities in New Jersey, anyway.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A real parallel with Nazis

There was a piece on CNN about the Lal Masjid Madrassah in Islamabad (I posted about it recently). It was a rather crafty piece of reporting, and the effect was quite dramatic. It started out with what seemed simply a report about a school- could have been a school anywhere, albiet in a Moslem country. And then WHAM right in the middle they related the recent kidnapping and coerced admission of guilt conducted by schoolgirls from this madrassah on the woman they claimed was the 'madam' of a brothel collared out in the streets of their city. It was very effective. And it was while watching this piece that it struck me forcefully that for once there is a REAL historical parallel with the Nazi's. Before the Nazi party was in power, its bully-boy thugs roamed the streets of southern German towns and cities (particularly Munich) beating up gypsies, Jews and anyone else who didn't pass ideological muster. They even had a uniform, and were named for it, the Brown shirts. The sharia girls have their uniform, the burquah, the most extreme of the Moslem garments.

The purpose of their activities is the same in both cases- to intimidate the rest of the population into conforming to the party orthodoxy whether so inclined or not. The next step after the Brown shirts phase is the serious head-bashing phase. Thats when Communists (or whoever) start to die in the streets. Phase after that? Final solution. Lets all commit to not letting it get that far this time.

Free press only an issue in America

Two stories from Publius Pundit, both about the genuine stamping out of free journalism in two of the biggest oil producing countries in the world. You'd think that the wholesale extinction of the free press in those sensitive nations would be top story for all the Journalists Sans Frontier whingebags but apparently not. Its only America which receives grotesquely disproportionate criticism- never genuine evildoers like Mr Chavez and Mr Putin. I'm not sure how long a world this crazy can maintain. All I can say to the JSF fuckwits is go live in Venezuela or Russia if you hate America that much. Oh and don't forget to write some biting satire.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Real crimes and play-play crimes

'Shortly after his arrest Mr Phiri was accused of throwing petrol bombs at police stations but that charge was changed to, "practising as a journalist without accreditation".'

A while back I commented on the ludicrous attempts of some French idiots at the Journalists Sans Frontier to blacken America's reputation. They tried to make out that some weedy twat who wouldn't hand over video of crimes being committed at an anti-globalisation riot was being persecuted. You want persecuted?

'Gift Phiri, a senior reporter for the exiled The Zimbabwean newspaper, was detained and beaten by police on Sunday. Mr Phiri was picked up near his home in Sunningdale, in Harare. His lawyer, Rangu Nyamurundira, said his client had been badly beaten while in custody. "When I saw him, Gift could not sit down as he had been very badly beaten on his back and his buttocks. He told me four policemen, including the chief superintendent, had tortured him for hours.'

Thats persecuted. Here's a legitimate journalist simply trying to do his job. So how could anyone mistake the anti-glob eejit for Mr Phiri? Covering for lefty criminals isn't in the Journo job description is it? Murderers in balaclavas aren't sources, while we're on the subject. But I bet you the next JSF screed will try to dig up some more dirt on America, no matter how trivial or wrong. Meanwhile, genuine, solid journalists live with the creeping terror every day that they may end up like this employee of ZBC, the Zimbabwe state broadcaster:

'Edward Chikombo, a part-time cameraman for the state broadcaster ZBC, was abducted from his home in the Glenview township outside Harare last week. His body was discovered at the weekend near the village of Darwendale, 50 miles west of the capital, The Independent has learnt.'

His crime? Passing footage of the leader of the Opposition in Zimbabwe heavily concussed and with visible wounds to a western news organisation.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pakistan: its getting much worse

"This week, members of the Lal Masjid militia kidnapped a woman, her daughter in law and her infant, and held them until the older woman admitted to running a brothel and denounced her crimes. Two police were held inside the Lal Masjid, and were later released. No arrests were made. The Lal Masjid is off limits to the Pakistani government.
On March 30, flush with success from the kidnapping standoff, Aziz has taken upon the government's weakness and has called for the implementation of universal Sharia law in Pakistan. Aziz even gave a deadline.
Maulana Abdul Aziz, the prayer leader at Lal Masjid and principal of Jamia Hafsa, on Friday gave the government a week’s deadline to “enforce Sharia” in the country, otherwise “clerics will Islamise society themselves”. “If the government does not impose Sharia within a week, we will do it,” Aziz told a gathering after Friday prayers. Similarly, he gave the Islamabad administration a week to shut down “brothels”, otherwise “seminary students will take action themselves”. “If we find a woman with loose morals, we will prosecute her in Lal Masjid,” he said. Sources told Daily Times that the Jamia Hafsa administration would compile a record of brothels and gambling dens over the week, and then launch a drive. They said the seminary believed these places were being run in collaboration with civil society organisations. “Jamia Hafsa will hold a conference on April 5-6 at Lal Masjid, where ulema will finalise a strategy against brothels and gambling dens,” said Aziz, adding that the drive would not be limited to Islamabad."

For those moonbats who think Islamo-fascism was dreamed up by Dick Cheney, George Blair and Tony Bush during a Texaco/Halliburton sleepover, here's a little dose of reality. Guess what? It looks like Pakistan is going to become a kind of Afghanistan x 50,000. If you thought a few technicals full of Taliban and a few little Al-Qaeda camps in the mountains were a tad dangerous, 170 million Nuclear-equipped Pakistanis pumped up on jihad videos and religious supremacism is much much scarier. Afghanistan would for all current purposes drop to page 41. Pakistan, although very much a third-world country, has enough wherewithal to create a bloody mess both in Britain and India.

The question for the non-moonbats is, are we going to tolerate the Islamic Republic of Al-Qaeda? And if not, how are we going to stop it?

Hello from Bucharest

I am in sunny Bucharest at the moment, soaking up the ... er... diesel fumes and the loving tenderness of ex-Communist bloc hospitality. I did my little bit for the cause- I told the woman who served me in McDonalds that actually she's supposed to SMILE at the customers, not SCOWL. Given she didn't speak a word of English it only helped me escape my feeling of irritation. I was on the phone just now with someone in England, and I found myself musing about what exactly the Romanians have been doing since the 'revolution' as they so quaintly call it. Nothing seems to have been built or changed or cleaned or painted since about 1953, apart from the huge sheds put up literally in the last few months by British, French, German and Japanese companies. What the hell have the Romanians been doing? Hungary has been through a whole economic cycle since 1993!

When I come to countries like this, it always reminds me of one of the least remarked aspects of the Anglosphere- the concern of both society and the government for the 'little people'. And by government, I mean everybody from the Prime Minister down to the guy who checks the parking meters. There are rich people in Romania. I saw some of their mansions, guarded by private security men with assault rifles. But not very far from my hotel children will sniff glue in the underground heating ducts tonight and some will not wake up tomorrow morning. There is a strange harshness to ordinary people here, that seems to expect life to include large numbers of people with nothing but misery in their lives. How pitiful. And look at the society-wide outcomes. I can't imagine why even a very rich person would want to live in Romania- the moment you step out of your door, people are trying to get your stuff, quite a lot by means of violence or whatever it takes.

Leaving the airport, there was a traffic jam directly under a beautiful, pristine flyover almost certainly built with EU money. As a metaphor for Romania, it seems almost perfect. The traffic jam was caused by about five hundred people who had parked in the road so they could walk into the supermarket slightly easier, not caring that they had brought traffic from the biggest airport in Romania to an almost complete standstill. Its the 'Fuck you mate, I'm alright' attitude that almost did for Britain back in the '70s when the Labour communists were riding high. My wife, who is Russian, says that in every ex-Communist country, the attitudes are roughly the same. Because there was no unemployment, and no more Christian morality, people treated other people like shit both at work and socially: you couldn't be fired, and there was no hell. You sorted out your friends and everybody else could go hang. Nice.

I'll return to England somewhat chastened by this experience, I believe.

Iranians tell Britain "We were just kidding, here are your sailors"

Its April fools day you know. Gotta try at least.