Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mick Hume: lazy and cliched analysis of Zimbabwe


'I don't support Robert Mugabe, you don't support Mugabe, nobody in the West supports Mugabe. But before slapping one another's backs, we need to consider some uncomfortable questions.'

I wasn't engaging in any backslapping...

Why did millions of Zimbabweans vote for Mugabe? Yes, he is a tyrant and a vote stealer. Yet even independent observers concede that he still must have won more than 40 per cent in the presidential poll. Amid 80 per cent unemployment and hyperinflation, that seems so incredible that we have ignored it.

Its is absolutely not incredible. Mugabe is a Shona. More than three quarters of the population are Shona. Shona get all the good govmt jobs. Shona get all the goodies like stolen commercial farms. Some people in Zimbabwe have done very well under Mugabe. You do the math.

Some might just put it down to tribal loyalties, or claim those Zimbabweans are simply too cowed or ignorant to know what's good for them. Alternatively, we could ask whether repeated interference by Britain and the international community has helped to consolidate Mugabe's remaining support in Zimbabwe and Africa. First off, Africans in general don't get to vote in Zimbabwean elections, so why discuss them at all in this context? Secondly, the cart and the horse are firmly transposed in this peurile argument. Up until 1998/1999 there was NO criticism of Mugabe outside of Zimbabwe AT ALL. Check if you don't believe me. Margaret Beckett, then UK Foreign Secretary, even admitted last year that “if it comes to a choice between the hero of the revolution and the colonial oppressor, they know whose side to be on.” Who are 'they'? All Africans? Again, they don't come into this argument AT ALL. The title of this piece is 'Zimbabwe: keep your nose out', not 'Africa: keep your nose out.' Why are you and Margaret Beckett invoking a Colonial Oppressor who doesn't exist? Not only did Britain ensure that Mugabes rigged and dodgy election in 1980 stuck, it made no protest whatsoever when a year later he murdered 20,000 Ndabele just to make sure they knew who was in charge. Thats the absolute opposite of a colonial oppressor- thats someone who connives in the disgusting, murderous tyranny of a local despot.

And “they” need not look back as far as the era of colonialism or white rule. The sanctions imposed by Western institutions over the past decade have, says one author, “made it nearly impossible for Zimbabwe to engage in normal international trade” and helped to make it the only African nation with a negative growth rate. Could it be that some ungrateful Zimbabweans took exception to such outside aid? How to be wrong about everything in one short paragraph... There are no trade sanctions against Zimbabwe- at all. There are targetted sanctions against individual Zanu PF officials resticting their use of the international banking system and entry into Europe/Britain/US; a fact which ANY RESEARCH AT ALL would have revealed to even a half-way diligent journo. If there are no sanctions, they can't have been why the Zimbawean economy has negative growth rates. The real reason for those negative growth rates our crap author scrupulously doesn't mention. And presumably, if the non-existent sanctions didn't harm the Zimbabwean economy, Zimbaweans don't sit around bitching about them...

Other unasked questions include: what makes Mugabe's authoritarianism and militarism more objectionable than that of Western allies on the continent such as Uganda or Rwanda? Might a troubled British Government have its own reasons for leading a global moral crusade to counter Mugabe's impertinent description of Mr Brown as “a tiny dot in this world”? Answer to the first question? Nothing. But this straw man argument is hardly worth disputing. OF COURSE evil activities in one country are not more or less evil than evil actions in another country. But I have never heard anybody suggest it. Uganda is an ally of Britain? Since when? And all the atrocities in Uganda are the work of the Lords Resistance Army nutjobs, not the Ugandan govmt. So where's the parallel? Rwanda was never even part of the British empire, and its present govmt is the one which swept the Hutu murderers from the country and brought a semblance of peace and justice to the place. Is Mick Spume equating Mugabes regime with Kagame? Both igorant and disgusting.
The last insinuation, that Britains policy six years ago might be a consequence of a comment Mr Mugabe made about a week ago is so stupid it makes me laugh out loud.

And perhaps most importantly: shouldn't we learn our lesson about the perils of intervention - whether economic, political and military? Some feel Britain's guilty colonial past gives us a special responsibility to intervene now. But it is possible to conclude the opposite: that history shows that interfering in other people's crises does not work and will make matters worse. Iraq surely ought to serve as a warning against trying to liberate people “on their behalf”. Or are we too blinded by self-righteousness to see that less might be more?
Errr... was the author half-asleep when he wrote this? Even for him this stuff is lazy and nonsensical. The perils of intervention are indeterminable in advance, as are the benefits. Intervention of British troops stopped the Sierra Leone civil war in its tracks. A year or two later, the US did the same thing in Liberia. Britain and the US went into Iraq and that didn't work out so well. Please show me a quote from ANYWHERE or ANYBODY arguing 'our guilty colonial past gives us a special responsibility to intervene now'. I have never heard anybody use that argument ever. Sometimes intevening in other peoples crises works, and sometimes it doesn't. No one can say in advance. I just knew he was going to bring up Iraq. Strangely, he didn't bring up Rwanda in THIS context; in 1994 most lefties like Hume screeched that something ought to be done by the ex-colonial powers. To be blinded by self-righteousness, one must be self-righteous. Present evidence of that before basing arguments on it.

We have come a long way since Cecil Rhodes, founder of the colony that is now Zimbabwe, announced in 1887 that “the native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise”. Yet many still seem to find it hard to accept that Africans can and must sort out their own problems. I may be wrong, but didn't Zimbabweans settle scores with an autocratic regime before? You are indeed wrong, about pretty much everything. Quoting Cecil J Rhodes doesn't persuade me you have read up on Zimbabwe. Indeed all the other stupid assertions about Zimbabwes last ten years indicate you don't know the first thing. Saying 'Africans can and must sort out their own problems' is just verbal filler- devoid of any moral or practical information. As policy, its less than nothing. Humes last point shows how little understanding he has- has he heard of the Lancaster House agreement? Does he know how Rhodesia ended? Does he understand the brokering role Britain played at that time? No. He knows nothing of them, but he pronounces anyway.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The UN's dirty secrets


'The UN has covered up claims that its troops in Democratic Republic of Congo gave arms to militias and smuggled gold and ivory, the BBC has learned.

The allegations, based on confidential UN sources, involve Pakistani and Indian troops working as peacekeepers.'

For those who follow these things, its of no surprise whatsoever. The reason many countries with large militaries and small military budgets supply troops to the UN is so America can fund their training, supply and maintenance. And it is largely the US that pays for these large scale operations in places like Kosovo and DRC. This is a great boon if you are the Pakistani defense minister. You get your troops blooded, paid for by the Great Satan himself, and you can do whatever 'local business' comes your way too.

Ah the great ironies of life.

The Awesome power of Ridicule

"As one US National Intelligence Estimate on the threat of terrorism noted, support for Islamist terrorism will eventually be defeated through its own rhetorical, ideological and violent excesses, above all the killing of fellow Muslims. Mr. Khan is a voice in the wilderness among Canadians, Muslim and non-Muslim. Let the brushes of ridicule scrub him away."
[Hat Tip: Mark Steyn via Instapundit] http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=469449

So THATS how the world works. Young violent men dedicated to murder in the name of their cause are 'scrubbed' somehow by ridicule and stop being a threat. Is it just me, or does that explanation of how things work lack... ummmm... persuasiveness?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yah or Boo?


For no particularly good reason, I was reading the comments attached to this article about Republican 'woes' in Pennsylvania, unnoted by the rest of the media for good reasons- theres no story. Frank Rich seems to think that stats from a dead rubber Republican primary have some bearing on what will happen in the general election. Rarely have flimsier straws been snatched at.

But reading down through the comments brought to mind why I believe the Democrats are losers in the grandest sense. Most of the comments were bitter, hate-filled and larded with grotesque hyperbole about how awful things are. As myriads of political observers have noted down through history, there are basically two political stories- Yah! and Boo :(

Yah! politics is hopeful, open-handed, positive and life affirming. Boo :( politics is pessimistic, mean, negative and nihilistic. Much as the Democrats shout that their platform and policies are yah! average Americans are not convinced. In fact, to many millions, they all sound pretty much Boo :(

Lose the war in Iraq voluntarily? Boo :(
Pay more taxes for new government programs? Boo :(
Join up with an internationalist eco crusade? Boo :(
Create trade barriers and annoy the US's trading partners? Boo :(
Cosy up to Americas enemies because they are pissed off? Boo :(
Constantly talk America down and adopt its enemies language? Boo :(

No matter how many times you scream that you represent Yah! if you don't, eventually people call you on that. Compare that with McCain- he really is Yah! This is a man who has survived terrible personal traumas and yet STILL wants to spend his precious remaining years serving his country in public office. He is straight up and down- there is no side; and his genuine compassion for his countrymen is deeply touching.

So, not only are most Republican policies Yah! policies, their candidate is absolutely a Yah! politician.

Iran bogged down in war of words

'US attack on Iran is "unlikely" because the American military is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan said an Iranian official Sunday'


That comment takes me back to a comment I made years ago- if the US has 160,000 men and many thousands of aircraft, helicopters, tanks and missiles in Iraq, in what sense is it 'stuck'? Or, in the words the Iranian dufus, 'bogged down'? The phrase 'whistling in the dark' springs unbidden to mind...

What he'd better be hoping is that the US decides to take down the Islamist Govmt of Pakistan first...

First Instinct is treachery

'The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul says the fact that they were able to get so close despite such tight security is worrying for both the government and the international community.'

Funny isn't it? When Al Qaeda or whoever kill an MP and a 10 year old girl, the narrative is that this shows how weak and feeble the coalition is- can't even protect the President of Afghanistan huh you weenies? No musing sotto voce about how shooting down 10 year old girls might affect the average Afghan on the Kabul Omnibus and how that just might put his nose a teensy weensy bit out of joint.

Compare and contrast when the Coalition kill a 10 year old girl by accident because Taleban were hiding in her house. Then there is no implication on the part of the BBCs operatives that this shows how weak and vulnerable the Taleban are- just screeching about how the Afghans hate us because we keep murdering their 10 year old girls.

Thats not objective and even-handed. Thats a persistent choice of viewing this conflict through the eyes of our enemies, and indeed the enemies of the Afghan people. Utterly disgusting and reprehensible.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Me and US Isolationism


'In the heart of the most ardent internationalist there now grows the feeling that it might just be good for Europe or South Korea to defend itself — and for once take the flak that concrete action, not armchair moralizing, invites. Americans of every persuasion are beginning to think that a reduction in our global profile might be both profitable for ourselves and also good medicine for our friends — like when 30-something-year-old children are finally asked to move out of the house and make their own car payments.'

My overriding feeling about US isolationism is summed up by the parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus told this story, he brought together a number of important factors. The Good Samaritan intervened because he could, he had the capability; he intervened despite the lack of a prospect of personal gain; he intervened despite the absence of a prior relationship with the stricken victim; he intervened despite it being pure chance that he happened to be passing by. If you believe that this story has a crucial message for us, you cannot be an isolationist. The strong and able have a responsibility to those in need. How many US Rangers would it have taken to stop the Rwandan genocide in its machete-weilding tracks? 300? 500? 1000? How much immeasurable human suffering could it have prevented? Remember, the DRC war which has killed at vague estimate three million people is largely spillover from Rwanda.

If the UN force at Srebrenica had been 500 instead of 100, and British or American rather than Dutch, 7000 Bosnian men and boys would still be alive, at home with their wives and mothers. And if you look at the places where we did intervene? 800 British paratroops stopped the Sierra Leone civil war cold. A few thousand Australian troops ended the murderous civil war in East Timor within weeks. Bosnia itself became peaceful at the point where NATO forces occupied it (and remains so only because they still do). Iraq and Afghanistan are both good examples of unabashed intervention to save people from tyranical murderous rule- except that because of British Govmt parsimony we didn't take the fight to the mafias of Basra, to our lasting shame.

I understand many of the motivations behind American isolationism. But the moral imperative overrides them- if the strong and able don't help the weak, who will?

Friday, April 25, 2008

New politics or business as usual?

'Obama's challenge to the primacy of that sort of politics is both worthy and essential. His point, and Bill Clinton's, is indisputable: there is a need for a big election this year. A decision has to be made about the war in Iraq. The mortgage-market and the health-insurance systems are falling apart. There is a drastic need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels for national-security, environmental and basic supply-and-demand reasons. The physical and educational infrastructures of the country are badly outdated.'


Obama is a new kind of politician, loftily flying above earthly frailties like stereotypes and caricatures. Although he does like to sit in church of a Sunday and soak up malevolent racist stereotypes, caricatures and conspiracy theories; which is slightly odd, come to think of it.

By the way, whats so special about the problems/issues listed above?
1. War in Iraq. Won already.
2. Mortgage market. In virtually no sense a government problem.
3. Health Insurance. No hard evidence that there is a problem at all.
4. Fossil fuels 'addiction'. An engineering problem.
5. Physical infrastructure problems. You got some actual examples of what you're talking about?
6. Educational infrastructure. US public education is mediocre. But there's an awful lot of it, and the brightest and best get superb educations. Wheres the panic?

There are always things to campaign about in any election year. But this years Presidential election issues are pretty small beer.

Oddly absent is the worldwide effort to destroy the nests of Islamist supremacists. But I guess according to the Dems, they don't exist and if they do, we just don't understand their point of view.

Time to get new experts

'For 40 years, the Republican Party has feasted on the secular humanism, feminism, distrust of the military and permissiveness that caricature such communities. For 40 years, the Democratic Party has been burdened by its inability to break free of those stereotypes.'

Great- I found some expert reporting from one of Times expert reporters. As someone who just arrived from Mars then, I take it that this Democrat party of which it speaks has not had any members of the House of Representatives, Senators nor Presidents elected in those 40 years. Oh they have? They control both the House and the Senate? They had a two-term President in the 1990's you say? Does not compute, does not compute. So this poor put-upon Democrat party has dominated both parts of the bicameral legislature and had numerous Presidents... despite this Republican Feasting of which you speak?

Could it be that the stereotypes are still viable because the facts upon which they are based still hold?

What is it with these journos?

'It's certainly the prerogative of newspapers and their owners to endorse candidates, but in doing so they are undermining the very basis for their business, which is impartiality. It's a recipe for having less influence, not more.

I want our writers and reporters to express a point of view in their stories. They're experts, they've done their homework, and I think it's fair for writers to suggest that after thoroughly reviewing the candidates' policies on health care, they find one more practical than another.'


That is one uninterrupted quote from Rick Stengel of Time Magazine. His argument is this- Newspaper proprietors should not get to express a preference for a political candidate in their own paper, but journalists should be able to because they are experts. What the...

Combine that utter tripe with this bizarre observation:

'Young news consumers are suspicious about traditional authority. They prize objectivity, straightforwardness and transparency.'

So not true. Young news consumers by and large value publications that agree with their own prejudices, and despise and ignore those that don't. Its not until later in life that many people start to recognise the value of those principles. And if they are Democrats, not even then.

Pakistanis make peace with Bhutto assassin


'...[Pakistans] most feared militant commander, Baitullah Mehsud, has called a truce with the government amid reports of an impending peace deal.'

Thats almost certainly the guy who had Benazir Bhutto murdered by the way.

'In the past, when President Pervez Musharraf was the dominant political force, his governments signed a number of peace agreements with the militants but they only helped them to regroup and to carve out a sanctuary in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas, along the border with Afghanistan.'

Meanwhile, large-scale military operations in Iraq are drawing to a close and the Taleban in many parts of Afghanistan are an endangered species, desperate and resorting to assassinations and suicide bombings because there is just no possibility for conventional military operations. What does that mean? It means its a very bad time to start cosying up to the head-hacker brigades. Just like Morocco used to be the hideout for the Barbary pirates, Pakistan is the home for all the worlds most violent and deranged jihadis, the clearing house for jihadis on their way to other battlefields and the most likely place on earth for jihadis to get their training. How the dufi in the Pakistani government think thats going to escape the attention of the US and its allies is a seriously interesting question.

The short (indeed only) answer is, it isn't. The Pakistani side of the North West Frontier is the focal point now for international terrorism; and therefore the United States. The Saudi's may be stumping up most of the money, but the guys who know how to blow stuff up and make jihadi videos are mainly up in those mountains. Local powers India and China are just as keen to see the US destroy the camps and hunt down the occupants as the US itself, as both have islamists operating in their borders, and don't want to see technology and skills transferred to them. So if the Pakistani government decide to line up with Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taleban they are walking into a world of hurt. They will be isolated and not even their nuclear arsenal will protect them- especially as that is what they will be deprived of first.

So what is their gambit? Do they have one? Or do they think that they are out of the woods already?

The Times: the Murray Walker of Newspapers


'Times of London: How Did Maliki Succeed In a Month Where Thousands of British Troops Failed for Years?'

'In related news, the Paper of Record [Retard] finally gets around to noticing that the Sunnis are rejoining Maliki's government, just a week after everyone else did.'


There was a famous Formula One commentator called Murray Walker- famous because pretty much every time he predicted something the opposite would IMMEDIATELY happen. "...And Nigel Mansell has won the Grand Prix- oh- no- he's crashed off at the last corner". Wry smiles all round. I get the same feeling from the London Times about its instant conclusion about the Maliki war on Jaish Al-Mahdi. No sooner had Maliki gone back to Baghdad after his week of personally overseeing the first round inn Basra, than the Times declared him utterly broken politically and militarily. And ever since that moment, everything has gone Malikis way.

Senior clerics lined up to condemn Sadr as illigitimate and to give up his militia, the Iraqi army and police smashed the JAM in both Baghdad and Basra, blustering threats from Sadr ended up making him look impotent, the US and British forces added extra bite and heft to already successful Iraqi military efforts, the largest Sunni political block decided on the basis of events in Basra that Milikis government was an IRAQI government rather than a Shia one and came back to the parliament- its just a litany of success beyond Malikis wildest dreams.

So keep it up, Times. Keep those rediculous stories of the poor, desperate Iraqi governments last twitches coming.

When the news isn't... new


"This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species' history," said Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence.

"Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA."

Really? So thats new news is it? Well, no actually.


"About 74,000 years ago, in what is now Sumatra, a volcano called Toba blew with a force estimated at 10,000 times that of Mount St. Helens. Ash darkened the sky all around the planet. Temperatures plummeted by up to 21 degrees at higher latitudes, according to research by Michael Rampino, a biologist and geologist at New York University.

Rampino has estimated three-quarters of the plant species in the Northern Hemisphere perished.

Stanley Ambrose, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois, suggested in 1998 that Rampino's work might explain a curious bottleneck in human evolution: The blueprints of life for all humans -- DNA -- are remarkably similar given that our species branched off from the rest of the primate family tree a few million years ago."

And when was this announced to the world? 08 March 2005 06:30 am ET

I remember hearing that the 'public memory' was eight weeks, and that anything outside that envelope just disappears into the ether. Got that right! Even among Science Editors and News Editors it seems...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lying to the people

'Barack Obama is leading the popular vote in the Democratic race'

I know because I watch US TV news that this is wrong. But as soon as I started Googling I discovered that despite the fact that Hilary Clinton has been leading the popular vote count for many weeks, many news outlets are saying the OPPOSITE.

Makes me laugh. If the news isn't what we want, we'll just lie...

Clinton 15,241,657
Obama 14,961,724


Its not enormous, thats true, but even if she was one vote ahead, saying she was behind would be a lie. Now why would all the big news orgs want to lie in favour of Barack Obama? Are the rubes turning out to be dumber than they thought? Those dumbasses need to be led by the nose AND lied to so they vote the correct way.

All of these stories are flat-out lies:


Bringing down the wrath of Dubya upon your heads


'One day after the Pakistani government signed a peace accordwith a violent Pakistani outfit operating in the Malakand Division in the Northwest Frontier Province, the government said future deals are currently in the works.'

I consider this news in the context of these declarations. As I pointed out before, I don't suppose Musharraf was in love with United States and its interests when he plumped to join President Bush in the War on Islamism. He signed up because he had the equivalent of a shotgun up his tailpipe. That shotgun has not gone away.

Only dreamy dreamland Islamist politicians in Pakistan could be so unworldly they fail to understand the basic outlines of their current situation. Pakistan is currently hosting the Taleban, Al Qaeda, remants of many of the terrorist outfits that have been fighting for thirty years in Kashmir and hundreds of newly sprung little Islamist outfits populated by the witless thugs being pumped out of Pakistans thousands of Madrassas. Up in the mountains, and equipped with ancient AK-47's, these people do not necessarily pose any threat to mainland USA or Europe. They do, however, comprise a vast pool of possible terrorist operatives with a proven track-record of suicidal tendencies. And unless we lock Pakistan and throw away the key, given how small the world is and how easy it is to get from Karachi or Islamabad to Los Angeles or London, thats a serious problem.

You don't just get to walk away from that with some airy fairy bullshit about 'following different agendas of different countries'. Until you DEAL with the problem, you don't have any choice. Musharraf is a realist and made a judgement that he would get far more from cooperating with the US than siding with the head-chopper guys. He paid a very high personal price for that cooperation (how many assasination attempts has he survived?), but crucially his countrymen gained a great bargain. If the new government want to go it alone the probable outcome will be this: a war between the worlds only hyperpower and a country that can't keep the lights on all day; hundreds of thousands of dead Pakistanis; victory certain for the US; utter humiliation AGAIN for a muslim 'power'. That what you want guys? Keep up the peace talks with Americas enemies then...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Worthy of a movie?


'Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has urged other African leaders not to allow a ship carrying arms for Zimbabwe to enter their territorial waters.

Mr Mwanawasa said the tension in Zimbabwe, following last month's disputed elections, should not be allowed to escalate further'

This is an increasingly surprising and interesting story; African countries and African leaders rallying round to stop these small arms getting into the hands of Mugabes murderous militia boys. There are no comparable stories that I know of in African history. It seems that the consciousness has grown that like Hitler, Mugabe is happy to see his people die around him as if in some grotesque pageant- as long as the drama is all about him.

Suddenly Africa seems to be operating at a higher moral level. Long may it continue.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Just resetting my watch now


"Muslim call to adopt Mecca time"

Its very easy to tell muslim time- its permanently stopped at June 8, 632 a.d.

Makes life so much simpler- none of that having to join the 21st century nonsense.

Thanks for the unintentional comedy guys! Keep 'em coming!

We already know but thanks


'Saudi women are being kept in perpetual childhood so male relatives can exercise "guardianship" over them, the Human Rights Watch group has said.

The New York-based group says Saudi women have to obtain permission from male relatives to work, travel, study, marry or even receive health care. '

Oh right, so when Ayaan Hirsi Ali says this stuff, its right wing propaganda by proxy, but when a 'New York-based Human Rights Watch group' says it, its proper lefty Wimmins Rights. Got ya.

So there may actually be some truth in what the Rovian Vast Right Wing conspiracy says, huh? Weird.

Being right quite often gets you nothing


My favourite line-

'It is of course unthinkable that any responsible government should accede to the wishes of 83% of its public.'

Mass immigration has never been less popular with the electorate, and yet its still only the BNP who actively oppose the perpetuation of it. Why is that, dya think?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Destruction of Jaish-Al Mahdi Update


'Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Saturday threatened an "open war" against the Iraqi government unless it halted a crackdown by Iraqi and U.S. security forces on his followers....

Sadr issued his warning after Iraqi soldiers swooped on the Mehdi Army's stronghold in Basra. Iraqi officials said they now controlled the bastion, known as the Hayaniya district.'

If this Yahoo News article was edited by someone sane, this would be the first paragraph of the article. But in the actual article, between the two sentances is all kind of fudging, references back to crap articles from the past, and doom-laden warnings like

'A rebellion by Sadr's Mehdi Army militia -- which has tens of thousands of fighters -- could abruptly end a period of lower violence at a time when U.S. forces are starting to leave Iraq.' This statement, which is editorialising by Dean Yates and Wisam Mohammed who wrote the piece, is exactly the message that Moqtada Al-Sadr wants you to hear. Its not true of course- he is already fighting the Iraqi government with everything he's got, and is watching as his fighting strength ebbs quickly away, and his strongholds are wrested away from him by the Iraqi army and Police. He's losing and he's desperate- hence the threats. But for these Yahoo news journos to report the threats straight, as if they represent something real, means they are carrying Moqtada's water for him.

They also repeat another mantra of the Big Media Outlets:

'Sadr's movement accuses other Shi'ite parties of getting their militias into the Iraqi security forces, especially in southern Shi'ite Iraq where various factions are competing for influence in a region home to most of Iraq's oil output.'

They don't want you to see this as the Iraqi government using its armed forces to take back control of its sovereign territory from an illegal armed militia- they want you to see it as a political gambit by one Shia party against another. Of course, if you go to the streets of Basra and ask people who they want to control them (as numerous journos have), they overwhelmingly say the Iraqi government. Wherever the militias control, there is fear, uncertainty and instability. But you won't read that in a Yahoo news article.

'Sadr launched two uprisings against U.S. forces in 2004.

His movement then entered politics and backed Maliki's rise to power in 2006. But the youthful Sadr split with Maliki, a fellow Shi'ite, a year ago when the prime minister refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

"Do you want a third uprising?" Sadr said, adding that he wanted Iraq's Shi'ite clerical establishment to set a date for the departure of American troops.'

What Messrs Yates and Mohammed don't mention is what happened to those two uprisings- both were bloody defeats for the JAM. They survived to fight another day, but they self-evidently weren't successful (the Americans are still in Iraq). This BBC article also mentioned

'...British commanders say Iraqi security forces have made great progress and are ready to take full over in the province.

They also say militia influence is not as great as claimed.

It is perhaps telling that Moqtada Sadr's supporters in the city say similar things.

"Our power is exaggerated," Ali Saidi, a senior official at the movement's Basra office told the BBC.'

Exaggerating his strength is all the Al-Sadr has left. And Yahoo are determined to help their buddy out until his dying breath, which may not be far away.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I remember well when I first learned about Gravitas. I thought the word wonderfully evoked the majestic and somber senators of Rome staring out from their statues at the Uffizi and the British Museum. The faces of men deeply marked by ancient traditions and current worries.

The other day I watched as Hillary Clinton preached some crappy non-lessons to Gen Petraeus, and I was struck by her utter lack of gravitas. Some of it definitely boils down to sex. She's just not a man. Also, she has spent her life being second fiddle to her very ambitious husband, and its hard to shift between those kind of roles successfully. She also has no emotional core attached to the bedrock of American life like, say, Churchill did to English national life. Indeed, she doesn't seem to have emotions other than self-pity.

When she was talking to General Petraeus there was no sense of one responsible knowledgeable adult talking to another. There was instead the faint air of a nagging housewife berating her poor schmuck of a husband for getting the story all wrong and bringing up that really annoying logic and those really inconvenient facts. This was strengthened by outtakes from the previous Iraq report from Gen Petraeus on all the tv channels, where Hillary all but accuses Petraeus of lying to cover for Bush. Her phrase 'willing suspension of disbelief' is as close as a politician will go to saying 'you are lying to me'.

Her biggest problem, in my view, is that she is like an actor saying lines. Great actors make you forget that there is any acting going on. You join them in the fantasy they have spun- mission accomplished. But with Hillary, its never anything but scripted lines and ersatz emotion. We never believe what we're seeing is anything but a very poor show for the rubes. The only strength I can detect in her is the intense longing she has for the White House. There is no great wish to serve the public, or to leave the country a better place than she found it, or take her place in the pantheon of great Americans. The qualities that the Roman aristocracy lauded are nowhere in sight.

The American Republic can do better than Hillary Clinton.

Bad news for Mookie


"We will continue until we secure Sadr City. We will not come out, we will not give up until the people of Sadr City have a normal life," Ali al Dabbagh, the spokesman for the government of Iraq, told AFP. "(Security forces) will do what they have to do to secure the area. I can't tell you how many days or how many months but they will not come out until they have secured Sadr City."

'The US military has stated it will support the Iraqi government in its plan to secure Sadr City. Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll, a spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq, said the operations have intensified over the past week and US forces are backing the Iraqi military.'

Should there be any, my regular readers will have noted that for years now I have said that until all the militias are destroyed, nobody will be in control of Iraq; not the US nor the Iraqi government. It is becoming clear that the single biggest mistake in the direct aftermath of the US invasion was leaving a complete vacuum of governance and law and order in a nation that has only for brief periods been anything but a dictatorship. Militias grew up to 'protect' (in the mafia sense) the various ethnic/religious groups. Iraq was allowed to fragment, and putting humpty back together again has taken five years and many tens of thousands of dead Iraqis. We can say that this was because of US inexperience of being a colonial power, but it doesn't take away the terrible cost. But as Mr Maliki and millions of ordinary Iraqis know, there is simply no alternative to smashing the militias.

Anyone who knows the history of the mafia in the US knows how extaordinarily difficult it is, even in a rich, organised society, to get rid of underground militias once they've been established. From the mafia high point in the early 1920's, it took the FBI until the late 1980's to smash the big mafia families. Thousands of mafiosi died, and hundreds of FBI agents; hundreds of millions of dollars were spent. But they won in the end. The mafia in the US isn't gone, its just completely shredded and discredited. So here is our parallel- what took two or three years to gestate may take twenty or thirty to destroy. Still gotta do it. We may wish that the conditions had never been allowed for the militias to form, but they did.

It is a mark of the extreme remoteness and cushiness of America that so many American politicians can't distinguish between political parties and armed militia groups who say they are in politics. America doesn't have that problem. Most Americans can't imagine what it would be like if it existed. Iraqis can. And millions of them currently have to live in that nervous and fractured world where there are effectively two parties which demand their allegiance, and will punish harshly those who don't give it. But from what I've read over many months now, the vast majority of Iraqis want their government to come and remove the militia boot from their neck. There are hundreds of thousands of Shia in the Iraqi army fighting the JAM- co-religionists and often relatives of theirs. I bet they aren't happy, but what can they do.

Although often hazy, there still seems to be a much better understanding of the militia situation amongst US commentators than British ones. British journalists and commentators seem to think that Jaish Al-Mahdi, Badr Brigades and the other minor players are political groupings in the merry kaleidoscope of Iraqi politics. Mr Maliki via the Iraqi army is attacking his political enemies and causing a 'civil war'. They consider the Jaish Al-Mahdi to be 'extreme nationalists'. What no one on the left has bothered to explain is how a politician who until very recently they lambasted as being exemplary of the irretrievably sectarian nature of Iraqi government, and possibly even a stooge of Iran, is now a civil-war mongering stooge of the US. The truth is that for many many commentators on Iraq, the whole thing is just a bunch of names and groupings and discordant noise. Because they haven't tracked the story from the beginning, like some of us have, they don't have the detail of how the stories have changed and mutated over time.

The role of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the marja (senior) shia cleric in Iraq is a good example. Up until September 2006, Sistani was heavily involved with trying to produce and maintain a Shia dominance of genuine constitutional national politics through all legal means. After that date, he retired from politics almost completely. Although he often still lets his views on matters become known, like his recent pronouncements on the JAM ceasefire and the fighting in Baghdad and Basra, his direct activities have stopped. There are innumerable other things which have affected the outcomes over the last five years, and for those with their finger on the pulse, many of them still come into play. Sadly, most of the MSM are outside that set. There is a sterility, a lack of grasp of the material facts and their context betrayed by every stupid headline and ludicrous prediction. I should have collated together all the rediculous stories about how Sadr 'won' in Basra to compare with the current crop of stories about how the JAM are being annihilated up and down southern Iraq.

Some day, somebody is going to start a really good news organisation and report all this shit properly.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Hillarity and Barren Show

The quality of an opinion can very often be judged by its predictive power.

'On the political front, Sadr now finds himself completely isolated. Key leaders of his own movement are now urging him to accept the Maliki government’s demands to disband the militia entirely.

Saturday, Iraq’s president and two vice-presidents, along with every other major political group in Iraq (except the Sadrists) joined in the condemnation of Sadr’s militia, and endorsed Prime Minister Maliki’s demand that the militia disarm. Sadr’s militia is now virtually the only militia left in Iraq that still maintains an outlaw posture, the only one that still challenges the authority of the Iraqi Security Forces or the Coalition.'

Either Hillarity Clinton (who looked and sounded almost dead during her 'questions' to Gen Petraeus) and Barren Obama understand virtually nothing about the conflict in Iraq, the major foreign policy issue of 2008 and the preceding five years; or they are cynically promising to their potential electors things which they have no intention of doing. Either way, neither is fit to be President. At one point in her 'questioning' of Gen Petraeus (it was actually just a long, boring statement of her own rediculous opinion of the state of play) Hillarity indicated that all her knowledge of Iraq is gleaned from Press Reports. Reading the Washington Post, New York Times and watching CNN is apparently not sufficient to learn the material facts- who'd have thought?

Virtually everything the Democrats have said over the last five years about both Iraq and Afghanistan has proven to be crap. And yet astonishingly, they still swank around verbalising with what looks incredible self-confidence. To be wrong so often, for so long, and yet still remain completely confident in your judgement seems like mental illness. Please win, Mr McCain, please. And if that sounds like a prayer, you're right, it is.

PS. Hillary mentioned the British responsibility for Basra in her borathon. Is the high profile of Basra and the still bouncy presence of JAM there going to hoist into the light of day our terrible sins of omission? I hope so. The British government has a lot to fess up to.

The remarkable Lazarus/Maliki

'...another fascinating move by al-Sadr. He’ll order his militia to lay down its arms if al-Sistani tells him to. Exquisite layering of his oft-shifting positions is hard to read at a distance, though it looks like he is once again on the ropes.'

I'm sure its because he won in Basra. Because thats what winners do. They agree to hand over their weapons to the people who they beat. Could I beeeeeeeeee any more sarcastic? I don't think so.

'...Yesterday streams of refugees were pouring out of Sadr City as automatic gunfire and mortar bomb blasts ripped through the giant slum that is home to 2.5 million people. Terrified residents scuttled down side streets as tanks trundled along the main thoroughfares, shooting at guerrillas. A massive American and Iraqi security presence had ringed the area, with police and soldiers guarding every exit with many predicting a final, bloody showdown as popular support drained from al-Mahdi Army.' [This quote is from the Times article here]

And yes, this is the same Times that said this 'Certainly Mr al-Maliki’s huge gamble appeared to have failed yesterday. Having vowed to crush Shia militias with a 30,000-strong force in Basra, he ended up suing for peace with the people he had described as “worse than al-Qaeda”. Al-Mahdi Army kept its weapons and turf.'

Coupla days later, it reports this:

'Iraq’s largest and most dangerous militia will voluntarily disband if Shia scholars advise its leader to do so, officials said yesterday — a dramatic move that could quell much of the fighting in the war-torn country.'

Indeed, see them dance this merry jig of trying to square their self-made circle:

'The position of Hojatoleslam al-Sadr, whose fighters fought government forces to a standstill in Basra, was looking precarious. His former erstwhile ally Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia Prime Minister who personally led the Basra crackdown, saw his standing bolstered by his tough approach to the militias.

Despite the inconclusive results of his Basra offensive, Mr al-Maliki has refused to back down and this weekend stitched together a rare consensus of Kurds, Sunnis and Shias to back a law banning from future elections any party that maintains a militia.'

In about a week, Maliki has gone from 'busted in Basra' to 'Lord of all he surveys'. Or maybe the Times was just full of shit. You be judge. I don't know which twelve-year old they have editing the paper this week, but he must be told to do better.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Needs a good Fisking

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/03/AR2008040300309.html?sid%3DST2008040401364&sub=AR [Hat Tip: TigerHawk]

Many, many of the hoary old lefty tropes in this dismal assessment of Iraq. The glass isn't just half-empty: its cracked, dirty, leaking and may have ebola germs in it. Has a group of people (in this case the Democrats i.e. the media, and many independent Americans) ever so successfully talked themselves into a fantasy so divergent from the plain facts? And one which is so contrary to the basic interests of those same people? If it weren't about to be carried into Government (probably) by either Ms Clinton or Mr Obama, it would be hilarious. But it isn't, for that very reason.

I can't really be bothered to go through this whole article point by point and illuminate the various fantastical misconceptions, but if enough people write in I spose I could. So get cracking.

Info you won't be reading in the MSM

'The Mahdi army lost 571 killed, 881 wounded, 490 captured, and 30 surrendered, in a week of fighting. The army and police lost over 500 to desertions, which is a much lower percentage of these losses than in previous operations. One of the army brigades had only recently finished training. To everyone's surprise, the brigade did not fall apart. The Mahdi army lost far more in terms of neighborhoods controlled, weapons, vehicles and popular support.'

Damn. I guess that Iranian takeover of Iraq is going to have to wait a few more weeks...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Why I want to leave Britain


'Two teenagers who killed a man during a row over litter have each been sentenced to four years detention.

Evren Anil died of severe head injuries after he confronted the youths who threw litter in his sister's car window in Crystal Palace, south-east London...'

Mr Evren's family describe the sentence as "shocking".

"We expected five or six years to tell you the truth," said his cousin Mehmet Aray.

"We were prepared for that. But four years with good behaviour, out in two. In time for the World Cup I suppose.

"But you know, if that's the message that we want to send out to our kids then we should stop moaning about people being stabbed all the time."

Murder somebody for nothing, get four years 'detention'. Modern Britain sucks out the arse.

Multi-racial, multi-cultural terrorism

A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with a colleague of mine who is Pakistani. She scoffed at the idea that racial/religious profiling would be a successful tactic in the war on Islamic terror. It was never going to work, she said, because the terror groups would find western looking people to do the terrible deeds. She has also made many bitchy comments about 'flying while being Muslim' and the terrible terrible burden of prejudice against her poor co-religionists.

Now, the one thing that strikes me about the above photo is how... er... non-multicultural it is. Here is a list of the names and ages:

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27
Assad Sarwar, 24
Tanvir Hussain, 27
Mohammed Gulzar, 26
Ibrahim Savant, 27
Arafat Waheed Khan, 26
Waheed Zaman, 23
Umar Islam, 29

All good English names assuredly. Indeed, how could you ever racially, religiously or age-wise profile these folk? Impossible really. We might as well give up.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Basra and the fight against the Militias Cont.

DAWG wrote the following at the Captains Journal:

'The Basrah thing

The western anti-American media – especially CNN and the Washington Post – have dutifully and lustfully done the propaganda for their latest US enemy hero – Iran, hailing the Iraqi offensive against Iranian proxy terrorists as an “American defeat” and an “Iranian victory”.

Personally, I don’t buy that at all.

I agree with most of what Frederic Kagan says in his article about the Basrah Op, which makes a lot of sense.


Also, my own reflections, impressions and theories, based on what I read and what I hear from Iraqis, tell me that, although it is true that Iran has a lot of tentacles in Iraq and elsewhere, their influence in Baghdad and the south in general is not as cemented as the anti-American pro-terrorist media and equally anti-American “think tanks” want to believe.

The reason I say this is because, apart form the Kurds, the Iraqis are Arabs and they do NOT like the “Furs”, as they call them – the Persians. This animosity goes back a long time, way before Islam.

It is true that within the Iraqi govnt. There are shi’a elements who are if not directly loyal to, at least quite influenced by Iran. The same goes for SOME elements of the Iraqi Shi’a clergy and SOME governors.

Iran also supports pratically all the various armed shi’a terrorist groups in Iraq, especially Hezbollah and the “special groups” as the US Military calls them. The Iranian “qods force” has weapons caches hidden in many places in the south.

All this is very dangerous.

But there is the good news about all this, too. From what I hear, The vast majority of regular Iraqis – SHI’A Iraqis, are worried, troubled and down right fed up with Iranian influence in the south. Not long ago several hundreds of thousands of southern shi’a Iraqis signed a petition complaining about and condemning Iranian influence in their part of Iraq. Many tribal sheiks were signatories of that petition.

Although not even close to the numbers of their sunni counterparts, several shi’a Sahwa (Awakening) groups have been established in Baghdad, Babil and Wassit provinces. Elements – most likely pro-Iranian elements, of the Iraq govnt., are against any shi’a Sahwas just as they are against local elections.

The reason for this is because they know that the establishment of both, will mean the removal of both the above mentioned elements of govnt. As well as the decline of their political parties. The fact is that Most Iraqis are fed up with the corrupt and inept elements of the Iraq govnt. Also, most Iraqis are disenchanted with the religious parties, whom have only been active in power struggles within their parties and against other shi’a entities. A recent survey showed that only some 25% of shi’a voters would vote for a religious party.

One of the many good things that the Surge has accomplished is the Sahwas and the GRASS ROOTS RECONCILIATION between sunni and shi’a in, above all, the southern Baghdad belts and in some cases in Baghdad itself. Not sure about Diyala, though. This is now beginning to morph into POLITICAL parties. At least on the sunni side of the Sahwa. I am sure that this is in the works – on the sly – on the shi’a side of the Sahwa, too, organized by the US Military and diplomats. Most Iraq shi’a are more than fed up with the various “militias”, who are nothing else but thugs and terrorists. A lot of the JAM leadership has been killed or captured, many times as a result of local shi’a informants, who have come to the same conclusion as the sunni did about al quaeda and allied sunnit terrorist groups. “Better to work with the Americans” than to continue to suffer under the thugs.

The coming elections will undoubtedly see the creation of new political parties, most of whom with origins in the Sahwa.

The challenge with that will be to get the various tribes to get along within the political parties and that is easier said than done. But the silver lining with that is that they will be Iraqi tribes uniting and squabbling and probably to some degree, fighting. After all, it IS Iraq. They will be IRAQIS and not Persians, Saudis, etc.

With a groundswell of Iraqis against Iranian presence in Iraq, the Persian dream of dominating Iraq will be finished. Unflrtunately, this will cost a lot of blood, though.

I predict that when Mosul is largely cleansed of al quaeda and other terrorist affiliates, then there will be another - US planned and organized final offensive against JAM, Fadhila and prehaps elements of Badr. The latter is trickier, though, as they have infiltrated the Iraqi army pretty much, as far as I know. But they will be weaker.'

I quote this in full because it is written by someone in Iraq and because it contains all the material facts missing from most of the mainstream media outlets I've read. Trouble is, the people who know and the people who write for the big media outlets don't overlap even a tiny bit.

Microcosm and Macrocosm

The successful bid for London to host the Olympics in 2012 was presented by the BBC and some other media as a great success for Britain. That is a perfect microcosm of how Britain is governed. A small group of people decided on behalf of seven and a half million Londoners to incur £12-£14 billion of expenditure, then spent a few million pounds trumpeting the fact to the people footing the bill.

Mass immigration into Britain is the macrocosmic example of exactly the same governing style. Try this on for size: 'With all the heat and noise generated by the immigration debate, its surprising to learn that there has never been a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry on the subject... Until today.' That 'heat and noise' by the way, is the moronic blathering of us know-nothing schlubs who pay for everything and make the country run. But take a second to parse that last sub-clause. For most UK citizens, its message is neither surprising nor pleasing.

'The House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs is not the highest profile body at Westminster. But it has dominated headlines by producing an in-depth analysis of what it calls "one of the biggest public policy issues in the UK". I understand from his arch tone of disdain that the journalist writing this doesn't agree that immigration is one of the biggest public policy issues. I'm guessing thats because he lives in the same kind of road in the same kind of suburb/village in the same kind of England as 99% of our MP's and ruling class. The one where jolly nice chaps in whites caper across the village/suburb green on Sunday having a spiffing game of cricket while their 100% white anglo-saxon audience clap them on with sober cheerfulness.

Those who take the decisions are hermetically sealed from their consequences.

Were that not the case, mass immigration would probably have lasted for three days in 1952 and never re-started. Human beings find it very easy to blank from their minds that which is worrisome and guilt-inducing. The great and the good in Britain have never taken responsibility for shoving millions of people from utterly alien cultures and religions into British society, with the myriad of different impacts that has had on poor white Britons. Much like the disgusting clearances of poor people from good sheep land in the high middle ages (participated in as joyfully by the Monasteries as by secular aristocrats), our ruling class can't see beyond the economic argument to the human cultural argument. On every side we see knock on effects of this- the fragmentation and abasement of white British culture, the massive benefits regime used as a palliative and opiate, the constant bashing of white Britons by employers and politicians, the Political Correctness regime that sees value and beauty in every kind of native tradition except British ones.

The peremptory and dictatorial instincts of our current rulers, the New Labour puritans, have had and will continue to have a dangerous impact on the relationship between rulers and ruled in these islands. Immigration is just one of the great issues where the interests of the rulers and the ruled are diametrically opposed. There are others of equal importance. Who will hark these words?

Here endeth the Jeremiad.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Garbage reporting on Iraq from the Times


Try this exercise. Compare the hysterical, overwrought loser attitude of the above with the reasoned, well-informed clarity of the article below.


What becomes clear is how ignorant, naive and trivial the Times' reporting is.

'Mr al-Maliki has gambled everything on the success of Operation Saulat al-Fursan, or Charge of the Knights, to sweep illegal militias out of Basra.'

Really? Everything?

Austin Bay- 'Think of the Iraqi anti-Sadr method as a form of suffocation, a political war waged with the blessing of Ayatollah Sistani that requires daily economic and political action, persistent police efforts and occasional military thrusts.'

Times- 'In Baghdad, the Mahdi Army took over neighbourhood after neighbourhood, some amid heavy fighting, others without firing a shot.' Er.... the JAM have controlled poor Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad for years. Where have the Times idiots been? How is it possible to report stories while having so little grasp of the material facts? Everybody who has been following Iraq for any length of time knows who the major players are, where they are, what there agendas are, and what their most likely 'economies with the truth' are. JAM are a major player. They have a lot of grunts- poor, illiterate Shia blokes willing to murder on behalf of Moqtada Al-Sadr. What they don't have is the legitimacy of the Iraqi state. And now that the Sunni minority are on board with the Iraqi state, and the Kurds need the Iraqi state to protect them from Turkey, the Shia militias are subject to two long-term difficulties - they are percieved as proxies of Iran and therefore not Iraqi enough, and the Iraqi state is backed by 160,000 highly effective American troops every single day.

The job the Iraqi state under Mr Maliki has taken on is to insert a wedge between poor Shia and the JAM. Just like Austin Bay points out, thats a long long process. Absolutely necessary, probably very tough at times, but definitely worth doing in the end. The trick will be to give the poor Shia of the South and centre things which the JAM can't- prosperity, education, long-term security. Weaning them off the siren voice of the militia propagandists won't be easy, but if the Iraqi government ever wants to be able to say that its voice is the voice of all of Iraq, there's no shirking the task.

According to the Times, the JAM are the all-conquering heroes of a 10-minute battle, who have devastated Maliki politically and militarily. Who is paying these bozos, and why?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Poor dears


You have to laugh.

'There is a buzz of excitement in the wood-panelled assembly hall of Pakistan's parliament.

After eight years of military rule, the new legislators feel empowered by an enormous popular mandate.

And they are ready to tackle unpopular policies, especially Pakistan's participation in what is called the War on Terror.'

Whats that old saying? 'You might not be interested in war. But war is interested in you'. Still got a bunch of Al-Qaeda and Taliban and Uzbek maniacs running around your rural areas? Then you don't get to unilaterally volunteer to not be involved any more, morons. Do you think Musharraf was helping out the US because he likes the look of George W, or has some property in Florida? Its because he didn't want Islamabad nuked. Wake up and smell the coffee.

'We've gone through enough problems because of following different agendas of different countries - we need to follow our own agenda," said one parliamentarian from the governing coalition, speaking to a crush of reporters outside.

"Pakistan must get out of America's fatal embrace," said another.'

Have a go. If you think your pisspot country is going to walk away while hosting America's most determined and skilled enemies, I have some sobering news for you.

Thin Gruel


"We want to know who has won what before we can start talking about those kind, or even claim anything.

"We have no right to claim anything until ZEC has confirmed it. We know what we have won in terms of parliamentary seats, in terms of even the presidential vote, but that is internal to the MDC.

"It is not confirmed by the jurisdiction board that is supposed to announce those results. So any speculation about deals, about negotiations, about reaching out is not there."

Morgan Tsvangirai comes across as the dopiest of dopy wazzocks.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."

Mr Tsvangirai reminds me of a lazy bloke lying under an apple tree, waiting and waiting and waiting for the apple to fall into his lap. What will the apple be like when it drops? Bitten to bits by the birds and full of maggots. He does, however, seem to represent a very strong cultural tradition in Zimbabwe- seems pretty tough, I'll let somebody else do that. Well, up against the iron will (and the teeny tiny IQ) of R Mugabe, thats just not going to hack it. I have watched in dismay and genuine hurt as the slow motion train-wreck that is Zimbabwe has gone from almost first world conditions in 1999 to bottom of the third world in 2008. Contribution of Mr Tsvangirai to changing that fate? Virtually nil.

I imagine Mugabe will probably die when a pile of US dollars falls on him in his swiss bank vault. Thats when Mr Tsvangirai will leap into action...