Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gah! There goes my blood pressure again

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7806223.stm

'The archbishop will say he understands that people are filled with "anxiety and insecurity" about entering the new year with amid so much financial uncertainty.

He will say: "There are fears about disappearing savings, lost jobs, house repossessions and worse.

"While the headlines are often about the big figures, it's the human cost that makes it real for us." '

Hey moron, you are supposed to be a Christian leader, preaching the salvation of humanity by the Son of God, Jesus. You are not, repeat not Oprah Winfrey, the 10 o'clock news nor a tuppeny happeny pop-psychologist. You do not dispense cheap-as-chips cheer-up messages about sticking together in the tough economic times. How about DOING YOUR JOB??? Preach the Gospel, lead the church, that is all.

Sheesh.

Shit poetry and unasked questions

'The rains of death continue to fall in Gaza. And silently, the world watches. And silently, governments plotted: how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death on to Gaza?'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/30/gaza

Yeah, yeah, thats what happened. The rains of death... I didn't waste my English Lit degree after all! Hear my poetry sing! 'how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death on Gaza?'

On the one hand, reading the description of the civilians hearing serious munitions coming in reminded me of evenings when I thought it could be my final roll call. But on the other, I just couldn't help thinking what a dreadful waste of time all this poetic noodling is. Do you really want to know why 'the rains of death' fall on Gaza? I betcha don't. Sixty years of concerted efforts to destroy Israel and murder all the Jews make you not wanna hear the cold hard facts.

Tell you what. Give up on the obsessive efforts to kill all the Jews and sit back and enjoy a few cold brews on the patio.

An act of goodness at a terrible time

'Israel said it was allowing 106 lorries carrying humanitarian aid - including medical supplies - from a variety of international organisations into Gaza on Wednesday.'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7805558.stm

Tucked deep (20 paragraphs) into this article about the Gaza operations, is this little gem. Why? Indeed, if this was an article about anybody but the Israelis, it would probably be at the top- as an example of great humanity even in the midst of war. Can you imagine Russia doing the same thing for the Georgians? Or the Sri Lankans doing it for the Tamil Tigers? Or indeed any Arab nation at war doing the same for their enemies? Its inconcievable, yet the Israelis are doing it for the Palestinians.

In most places around the world, like Zimbabwe, the humanitarian aid would be stolen by the government. So why doesn't this astounding action count in Israels favour? Behaving well, even when you are vilified by all the scoundrels in the world, makes you morally superior. But that is of no interest to the salon bien pensants. Only repeating the same pathetic lies and cliches matter to them.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A tale of two interviews

I am watching the BBC rolling news coverage of the Gazan intervention, and its highly cringeworthy. About an hour ago, a female presenter interviewed Hanan Ashrawi. Ashrawi went on and on and on for ages, unfettered by anything as impolite as a question, until she started repeating herself. Yup, she had so much leeway she actually ran out of indignant posturings. Towards the end, she finally got a few questions, which were so soft I suspect she actually wrote them on a bit of paper beforehand.

Just now, a male presenter interviewed Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The interviewer treated him with complete disdain, not allowing him to finish a single sentance. When Mr Prosor mentioned the 8,000 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the last three years, the presenter asked 'And can you remind me how many people that has killed?' Think about the morality of that question for a moment. If you fire thousands of rockets at civilian targets but don't kill any, then thats just fine. Carry on! However, if you bomb a legitimate military target and kill two hundred people, thats a war crime! You see, its all to do with effectiveness. If you are good at killing your enemies, you are evil. If you are very inefficient, you are justified and righteous.

I really really wish I could record off the TV (our video is broken), because within the space of one hour of 'news' the BBC put to the sword its own supposed impartiality.

Consequences

http://www.julescrittenden.com/2008/12/02/the-obama-doctrine/

'Obama says India can whack Paks, if that’s where the investigation goes.* Sovereign nations and all. That’s how the Times of India is reading it:

WASHINGTON: Sovereign nations have the right to protect themselves, US president-elect Barack Obama said on Monday, when asked if India could follow the same policy he advocated during his election campaign — of bombing terrorist camps in Pakistan if there was actionable evidence and Islamabad refused to act on it.'

I like the idea of ratcheting up the pressure on Pakistan. For many of the kaleidoscope of different actors in Pakistani politics, including the islamists and terrorist groups, there has been no downside yet for their continuous violence against Indians in Kashmir, Afghans in Afghanistan and Indians in India-proper. There must be consequences. At some point, the impunity must end. For a whole plethora of incidental reasons, it has not been convenient or timely to really punish those actors in Pakistan whose only 'fun' is the murder and subjugation of non-muslims. Perhaps Mr Obama sees an emerging window where that punishment is politically possible.

There is the factor of Pakistans nuclear arsenal, but I imagine the US and India have already investigated and planned for taking those out of the equation.

Pakistan is a basket-case. It cannot be trusted to police its own population and ensure they don't attack other countries from within its borders. Once enough atrocities emanate from it, other countries in the region and the world will have no choice but to punish it.

What will emerge on the other side? A Somalia or Lebanon, dismembered and highly disfunctional? An India, fractious but viable? Sadly, the former seems more likely than the latter.

Gazan geography for Beginners

'Earlier on Sunday, Israel bombed supply tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip used by Palestinians to smuggle food and other supplies - including weapons, says Israel - past the Israeli blockade of the territory.'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7802515.stm

For those of you who are a bit hazy on Gazan geography, I'll clarify something. The tunnels being discussed go from Gaza into Egypt. Not via Israel, or under Israel or near Israel. Simply from Gaza into Egypt under their common border. I hear you ask 'So how does a tunnel under a border between Gaza and Egypt avoid a blockade imposed by Israel?' Good question, thanks for asking. The answer is, not at all. It avoids the armed Egyptian border guards enforcing the EGYPTIAN blockade of Gaza. 'What?' I hear you say, 'there's an EGYPTIAN blockade of Gaza? Why have I never read anything on the BBC website about an EGYPTIAN blockade of Gaza?' That would be because the lefty shittards at the BBC can't get any Israel-hatemongering mileage out of an EGYPTIAN blockade. 'So' you ask, 'does that mean the BBC is actually misrepresenting material facts, to make Israel seem like the bad guy?'.

Yes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ok, don't surrender

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7802477.stm

'But Israel might not get it all its own way. Hamas is unlikely to surrender. It has an ideology of resistance and martyrdom.'

Still on that tired old meme? It is now the role of the press at large, apparently, to boost the morale of our enemies by explaining how tough and warlike they are. Which they perform despite the stark failure of the 'ideology of resistance and martyrdom' to produce the predicted victories in Iraq. The predictions of quagmire didn't cease in much of the press until about halfway through 2008. Of course, you can't find them now. Now that a succession of groups of losers has lined up to be defeated by the perfectly able and competent US Army (plus odds and sods) there is a deathly hush. War in Iraq? What war?

Still, you'd have thought that such recent experience would give them pause in predicting quagmire every time a western army (and Israels army is definitely western) takes on a ragtag bunch of slightly trained losers. This will be no quagmire. Israel has learned lots of lessons from the 2006 Lebanon campaign. One of the primary tasks (not really performed in the former case) before any military op is to find out where the enemy are so they can be taken on in the best way at the best time. Israel has put up with lots of little missiles for the last six months so it could find out exactly where Hamas are. Map them out, figure out the structures, identify all the target-rich environments. Now it has pounced. Much better than Lebanon, where there were far too many unpleasant surprises.

This piece by Jeremy Bowen is quite good, a much better analysis of the situation than any of the other BBC pieces on this episode so far, so why spoil it with this boilerplate? Saying that, having spent a lot of the day reading up on this story, Mr Bowen does an excellent job of distilling out the major strands of the story so far.

One additional point. It makes sense for Israel to take out Hamas first. They are not Hezbollah, but they are Hezbollah wannabees. Hamas have very few veterans, very few well trained operatives, and only a very limited amount of highly effective weapons (according to StrategyPage). Winkling out Hamas now would leave Hezbollah in a precarious position. Egypt is pretty much on Israels side when it comes to Gaza, Jordan is nothing and Iraq has just been taught a very harsh lesson in real-politik. Syria can feel the hot breath of those 120,000 US GI's just over the way, and the Saudis really only have eyes for Iran. That leaves Hezbollah as the only truly soluble problem if Hamas bites the dust. I'd say within the next five years both H's may well cease to exist in any meaningful way...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who cares?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21kristof.html?_r=1&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

'“When I started doing research on charity,” Mr. Brooks wrote, “I expected to find that political liberals — who, I believed, genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did — would turn out to be the most privately charitable people. So when my early findings led me to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error. I re-ran analyses. I got new data. Nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.”'

'So, you’ve guessed it! This column is a transparent attempt this holiday season to shame liberals into being more charitable. Since I often scold Republicans for being callous in their policies toward the needy, it seems only fair to reproach Democrats for being cheap in their private donations.'

Why not cut to the chase, and just become Republicans?

It makes me laugh that the author of this piece can't think the unthinkable, that perhaps the whole edifice of liberal 'thought' is a sham; that people who are perfectly happy to propose using other peoples money for purposes they would NEVER spend their own on are also people who could support policies which they would violently disapprove of if they affected themselves. If you read on down, you'll notice that the meanest, stingiest people of all are secular liberals. If you've met that species in real life, perhaps been to the pub with one, you will know this already. Yup, selfish, mean, stingy and hypocritical. Its a really endearing package.

Bunch of wusses

http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/12/21/bush-shoe-iraq-oped-cx_tv_1221varadarajan.html [Via Instapundit]

'The Arabs, who once upon a time boasted Averroes and Avicenna, are now reduced to eulogizing a boorish act of agitprop as a heroic achievement. America gave us Martin Luther King; South Africa gave us Mandela; India gave us Gandhi; the Arab world gives us ... Muntader-al-Zaidi. A people who invented the zero are now reduced, themselves, to zero. Only a people who live under the boots of their rulers celebrate the throwing of a shoe at a guest.'

I didn't think I'd ever comment again about this teeny tiny nothingness, but it seems everybody in the world other than me thinks its a REALLY BIG DEAL. Ok, make that, me and George W. Bush, who just laughed it off. There has been an awful lot of harrumphing about this in the US, which detracts somewhat from the air of confidence an un-challenged superpower would be expected to display. Why?

I can't help thinking about the difference in national temperament that this brings to the fore. At the height of Britain's power in the world, innumerable insults were sent the way of Britons. Its just part of the whole package of empire and military dominance. The British response was usually nothing. A response would dignify the insulter with an importance that was not merited. If some physical harm was done to goods or persons, that was different, and could merit some very harsh medicine. But words are just words. A petulantly thrown shoe is just a petulantly thrown shoe. The rage this has evoked in many parts of Americas body-politic is an indicator of unfamiliarity with and great sensitivity to genuine hostility. The kind of hostility that enormous power and wealth are guaranteed to provoke.

I suggest getting out more, perhaps to other countries. That, and paying attention to the real-world consequences of empire.

Oh and also, the guy who threw the shoe had better get no more punishment than a smack on the wrist, or they will turn nothing into a definite something.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Its called Freedom

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7782422.stm

'An Iraqi journalist was wrestled to the floor by security guards after he called Mr Bush "a dog" and threw his footwear, just missing the president.

The soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture.'

Yeah, well in our culture, its not an insult at all, its just kinda funny.

And it inadvertantly demonstrates what has changed so much in Iraq in the last five years- now you can throw things at the guys in charge, yell insults and not end up in an industrial shredding machine.

I hope people all over the world note this difference- people who were cowed, who were afraid to go about their daily business are now feeling peppy enough to throw brickbats at their political leaders. Fantastic. Long may it continue.

Time to act in Zimbabwe

'But when the world watches avoidable disasters unfolding in plain sight, what should be done?
With global media and Web connectedness, everyone — to some extent — bears witness to starvation or genocide or the like. Awareness comes with responsibility.'
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/failed-states-cholera-and-preventive-action/

I don't agree. With awareness comes... awareness. With Power comes responsibility. Those nations with power who can do something about Zimbabwes murderous marxist dictator, South Africa, the United States and Britain, ought to do something about him. The intervention in Iraq was about changing the big facts, by those unafraid to influence what happens in the world. The 'realist' view of the world espoused by vast numbers of diplomats like the pathetic Douglas Hurd and James Baker decrees that we can never change anything really, and should never put our delicate little feet into the feotid gloop that is most of the world. That is not good enough.

If you carry a big stick, use it to rid the world of as much evil as you can, and support as many of the good people of the world as possible. Thats what Chistians should always do. Do NOT pass by on the other side of the road. When those with no power, the oppressed and the exploited and the harried call for our help, we should help them. Mugabe has exploited the fear in Britain and America of being labelled neo-colonialists. It is past time where that fear should outweigh our moral obligation to help the eleven million people in Zimbabwe who are NOT Robert Mugabe.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

FARC/BBC Communique Recieved

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7781991.stm

Colombia war data 'unbelievable' By Jeremy McDermott, BBC News, Colombia

Well, for the sake of full disclosure, it should really say 'Jeremy McDermott and the PR department of FARC'. They really shouldn't send trotskyists to cover these stories where theres so much potential for conflict of interest.

'Colombian government figures on the number of guerrillas killed, captured or surrendered are vastly exaggerated, a human rights group says.

Codhes, a respected Colombian NGO, analysed the statistics of recent successes claimed by the armed forces in the 44-year civil conflict.'

If you cast your mind back a few months, you may well remember the freeing of some hostages in Columbia including Ingrid Betancourt. A detail that came out of this superbly executed operations was:

'The aim [of the Columbian govmt plans] was to persuade the Farc leader holding Betancourt - Gerardo Aguilar Ramirez, known as C├ęsar - that the hostages he held were to be moved to another hostage camp by helicopter, with the help of an international humanitarian NGO, so that negotiations could begin for their release.'

Let me see- so some NGO's in Columbia are so cosy with FARC that their helicopters land in the areas they control as and when they feel like it. Could it be that there is a cosy relationship between FARC and say, Codhes? Actually, that must be impossible because the BBC would never rely so heavily on a report by a FARC front organisation, would it?

I mean, just because the Codhes report is political in the extreme, and in fact the BBC piece says 'But the Codhes study, entitled "The numbers do not add up", attacks the very foundation of the Uribe administration, suggesting the government statistics are simply unbelievable'; don't let that fool you into thinking that Jeremy McDermott is simply passing on pro-FARC propaganda. I mean, just because Codhes would dearly love to see the Uribe administration destroyed, the only government Columbia has EVER HAD to successfully take on FARC and militarily defeat them, lets not jump to the conclusion that they therefore sympathise with FARC. No no.

Also, don't bother assuming that just because the Codhes report fails to mention one enormously salient fact- that FARC itself and its main backers like Hugo Chavez admit that they are losing the war now- is because they want to confuse the issue of who is winning in Columbia.

I for one will fight to the death to protect the BBCs right to publish communist propaganda with taxpayers money. Long live the revolution!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pseudo History, the kind journos love

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7767261.stm

'Belgian control of the Congo began with the slavery and murder sanctioned by King Leopold in the late 19th Century, as he turned this vast piece of Africa into his personal possession.

One authoritative estimate has put the number killed by Leopold at 10 million.

His troops needed to account for every bullet they were given, so they would cut the hands off those they killed as proof.

And if they lost a bullet or used one to kill an animal to eat, then they would have to cut the hand off a living person - just one of the European practices that so brutalised Africa that by the late 1950s eating Belgians felt justifiable.'
By David Loyn

Thats right David- before the pantomime villain Europeans went to Africa, it was all sweetness and light; a veritable Garden of Eden with the assorted tribes skipping happily together through the bush.

Georgia and Kosovo

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OWEzYjNiNTdkMmViOTY2MTYwOTk3Y2EzYjQ0OTFkMTM=

'A New Cold War?
Western-hemispheric maneuvers.

An NRO Symposium

What does Russia docking in the Panama Canal this weekend mean? What should the Obama administration be thinking about it? National Review Online asked a group of Russian experts.'

I think one person mentioned Kosovo. Not only were the Russian actions (and the Georgian actions engineered by Russia) in Georgia proximate in time to the creation of the soveriegn state of Kosovo out of the soveriegn territory of Serbia, they were meant to underline for even the stupidest observer of international affairs that a precedent had been set.

I am no fan of Putins pathetic kleptocracy, but the creation of independent Kosovo breached both the Foundation charter of the United Nations, but also prior international law. I am still waiting for all those bleating idiots who protested against the (UN sanctioned) invasion of Iraq to protest against the coerced removal of soveriegn territory of a member of the UN. They are strangely silent. Russians tend to be suspicious, indeed often paranoid, in their relations with the rest of the world- but even the most relaxed and affable UN member would bridle strongly at this blatant and completely partisan breaking of the fundamental laws of international relations. Serbians are slavs, Russians are Slavs, Serbians are Orthodox, Russians are Orthodox, you do the math. Serbia considers itself Russias little brother in the Balkans.

How all these 'experts' can talk about the current situation without once mentioning a factor which probably exceeds even the resonance of the anti-missile defense shield is almost absurd. During the height of the NATO war against Serbia back in the late nineties, the Russians even tried to intervene militarily. Boy do people have short memories.

As far as I can tell, Georgia was not about Georgia. It was about making a point about international relations: if soveriegn borders are negotiable, its open season, and the guy with the most T-90's will win. Forget the fallout from Iraq- this is much more worrying for the future, and bodes extremely ill for the organs of international diplomacy as currently constituted.

The net as bastion of Liberties?

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081207/D94U21DG0.html

'"Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded - ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day," he said.'

Name me one fascist criminal plot derailed by the internet so far? What a bizarre and counter-intuitive theory. Apart from the normal political discourse, the net has become the prime way for nutjob conspiracy theorists to connect with each other from their feotid bedrooms and reinforce each others delusions. It is full of conmen, hard-sell ad merchants, scammers, hackers and pervs.

Despite a deluge of information from reputable sources on the net about Barack Obama that at the very least he is a shapeshifter with no moral foundations and no fixed cultural roots, the electorate swooned at his feet and voted for him. A number of issues about him would have ruled him out of contention in any previous election, and I don't mean his dark tan (he's hardly black). Not only that, but the extreme left in America have spent the last eight years using the internet to spread extreme vitriol and lies about President George Bush.

I hardly see the net as a stalwart against the spread of criminals conspiracies- indeed, if anything it provides the same volume to extremists and criminals as it does to the honest and intellectually able. Probably more for the former, actually. Ideas are like viruses, and its not only the ones we approve of and want to foster that get spread around, sadly.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Protecting ourselves

http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/29134/

'Edwardian London was a place better-adapted to the threats we see today than today’s London is. '

I blogged exactly that after the 7/7 bombings on the London underground. My suggestion was an auxilliary Police force of a sixth of the population. We had a similar force in Rhodesia called the Police Reserve, who tended to be men above the age of the regular armed forces and police, and men who could not spare the time for full-time army or police duties.

They were trained in firearms use, carried their weapons with them, and could be called upon at a moments notice to hurry to an incident.

The disarming of the general populace has happened in the last seventy five years, a fact that few Britons seem to know. There is this ahistorical myth that we have never been armed and gunned up. Even talking to my peer group about guns evokes choruses of loathing and misunderstanding about them. Also, there is total ignorance about the fact that our policemen used to be armed. It is a constant frustration of mine that Britons seem to be completely phlegmatic that the only guns in their neighborhoods are utilised by the worst people- murderous gang kids, criminals, hoodies and drug dealers.

The air of absurd gentility which says that guns are dirty and American and vulgar and therefore must never be in the hands of your ordinary householder holds complete sway. Despite the obvious evidence from around the world that those who can defend themselves rarely have to do so, and that being your own defense force is often necessary and would save many women from rape doesn't seem to matter to the British.

The Bombay attacks are simply the latest example of what happens when you outsource your protection to people who are slow, incompetent and in the wrong place when you need them desperately.