Those who live, learn.
There's no doubt we will learn a lot from this Tsunami disaster (I still think the key lesson is to have a fleet of helicopters at the ready in all regions of the earth for natural disaster relief on the instant, but there are others). Unfortunately from the world's perspective we learn too late and our contributions are more about our emotions than about saving the lives of others. Of course I wouldn't want to dismiss any act of charity, but when the Premiership gets in on the situation you know we've crossed a line from the rational to the showbiz end of things.
It has entered my mind watching the reports that there's very little to be done since almost everybody in need could find their critical needs met by friends or relatives just a few miles inland. Aceh province in Indonesisa is obviously different- but I don't get the sense that we're geared up to provide assistance there yet. We've only just got round to considering the Maldives. Then again, given the disaster in Indonesia, will there be anyone to donate anything to? Precious few, if this kind of report is true (and in this disaster I tend to believe the biggest figures I'm offered) Or will the few survivors be buried under a tidal wave of castoff clothing?
Whatever the truth behind the above musings, I know that Laban Tall is right when he says that 'The Indian Ocean disaster is a heaven sent opportunity for liberal breast-beating into which can be shoehorned the correct views on globalisation'.
I frankly couldn't believe it today when I heard (on Sky) that a British Scientist was saying that the tsunami shows the risk we face from global warming, as if that had anything to do with the price of fish!
Friday, December 31, 2004
Posted by ed thomas at 4:32 PM
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Instinctively Right: Alan Sullivan has been a great source of sanity on the tsunami disaster- partly through his extensive knowledge of the sea and its manifestations. This post from Sunday demonstrates how possible it was to assess the likely impact of the waves at that point: 'I have no doubt a final number will be in tens or even hundreds of thousands'. This post meanwhile provides a great graphic to appreciate the waves in their proper geographical context.
Posted by ed thomas at 4:32 PM
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Since Christmas, probably 100,000 people have died in the Indian Ocean. That's my bet anyway (and I realised subsequently I should have put a + sign beside that figure). I've watched quite a bit of coverage on BBCworld, CNN and Sky, and I can say that Sky provided easily the best coverage, with more realistic casualty counts (by which I mean less conservative estimates), more on the ground coverage, and a more direct approach that seemed to use its British-centred perspective to raise more concern than the Beeb et al could muster. Strange though it may seem, I don't regard underestimation of casualties as a sign of a mature, respectable broadcaster. I'd rather call that dereliction.
The Beeb tended to keep its usual schedules, unlike CNN, and certainly lagged way behind Sky in minute-by-minute coverage. Not that I think minute-by-minute casualty counts are all that sensible- it was obvious after a few minutes thought and a little anecdotal evidence that casualties would be massive, so that the best thing would have been panic stations and maximum pressure on inept and lazy Govts from the beginning. Military helicopters on site within hours would have made a huge difference (and yes, I am aware of at least two civil wars ongoing in the region, but I think that the overwhelmingly hostile force out there this last few days was nature).
Part of the Beeb's usual schedules included their so-called Hard Talk programme, which earlier in the festive season included James Rubin interviewing Robin Cook. If I had a schoolboy sense of humour I'd say that it wasn't the talk that was hard, but something that related to the physical makeup of these two mutually admiring men. Robin called Rubin 'Jamie', as the talk just got harder and harder. Robin waxed lyrical about his opposition to the Iraq war, and Jamie helpfully listed in his repetitive drone the many things terribly wrong there. Even Robin appeared momentarily irritated: 'you don't need to convince me how disastrous the Iraq war has been'. Indeed, I thought.
For a different perspective on the tsunami disaster, yet extremely pertinent to the issue of inept and lazy Governments, EU Referendum blog is following a different, political disaster:
'while it may not leave piles of bloated corpses on exotic beaches, the death and destruction, in terms of poverty and the concomitant disease and ill-health is every bit as real.'
Meanwhile Norm is doing a good job of looking at aspects of the disaster.
Also meanwhile, and far below the kinds of huge concern that ought to be occupying our thoughts at this time, I'd like to echo Terence Coyle in thanking Mr Boyles for his kind words about my blog.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:46 PM
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Just popping back, as promised, to note this American Thinker article which deals with the Rumsfeld 'sting' operation by what it calls the 'Press gang'. There are, of course, meaningful questions to be raised, but the sensitivity of the media is just about crude enough to be manipulated, yet not attuned enough to help us understand.
One thought I would raise (or several along one line) is that the murder of 19 Americans among others in Mosul may conceivably have been timed to coincide with media scrutiny of Rummy. It may also be the case that the release of two French journalists on the day of the US' highest recent casualties was not coincidental. When I mentioned in the previous post that a media bandwagon may be joined by concerned parties for political effect, I shouldn't have omitted the terrorists in that analysis. They watch CNN, and the Beeb, as well.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:03 PM
Monday, December 20, 2004
Rounding up the bandwagon (news).
Here's one of those classic examples of the BBC giving a bandwagon a roll by collecting a range of stories over a period of time and publishing them as one 'story', thereby demonstrating a narrative to which they or those who contribute to the news (ie politicians, other media) can add. It's emotionalised tripe really, about whether condolences were personally signed or not, though I know that some would disagree with me on that- maybe from the high moral ground, but still I'd contest that it's emotionalised tripe given the hardnosed media context in which these fellows have their being.
It would be controversial to defend Rumsfeld, yet that's just what I feel like doing- because no-one else could have carried the weight of media scrutiny that he has carried to enable the Iraq war to take place without collapsing under the weight of Western defeatism.
Instapundit also defended Rummy out of the same instinct for unfairness which I personally would prefer to call sensitivity to bias (examplar of sensitivity here).
I always believed that the first Rummy story this Christmas (as the illiberal elite realised he was going to outstay Colin Powell and couldn't stand it any longer) was a put up job, and the BBC's reporting then was a model of how to make such a story credible and powerful.
Meanwhile, in the follow-up, which the BBC deigned to consider newsworthy, a 'grilling' over 'equipment' became a 'query' over 'kit' and the 2000 cheering soldiers became merely 'soldiers assembled'- quite a low-key affair compared with the story I'd heard previously.
But now, in the latest story of Rumsfeld's woes there is no mention of the planted question (which ought to be allowed to derail the bandwagon but funnily enough isn't), which reverts to 'full-grill' mode (ie the storyline of disgruntled ordinary soldiers is unbroken by matters of fact). Funny what we remember to report and what we don't.
Something, by the way, that I should not fail to mention is that I am liable to be absent from blogging for much of the festive season, so don't be surprised it there are longish pauses. I'll pop in and I'll return more permanently in the New Year. So, if I don't say it later I'll say it now: Happy Christmas and New Year (except to the Beeb, who should use the time to reflect shamefacedly on their many failings!).
Posted by ed thomas at 2:30 PM
Thursday, December 16, 2004
From the first person: two accounts I've come across that really shed light on two situations that many are interested in, but few understand.
Chrenkoff interviews Steven Vincent, who provides fascinating personal views of Iraq based on months spent freelancing there.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Gedmin stars in an interview that is extensively quoted by David's MedienKritik, shedding light on the Euroblindness that dares not call itself anti-Semitism.
Where does the BBC fit into these perspectives? I would generally characterise it as the attitude of the three wise men: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Except of course that they do, often.
Posted by ed thomas at 11:25 AM
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Shades of 'Je ne regrette rien'?
It is only wishful thinking, I am sure, but in this bizarre episode of the (now thankfully fallen) singing Secretary (Blunkett, Secretary of the nanny-friendly State) I was immediately reminded of Lord Lamont's lack of lament over the ERM debacle (allegedly singing 'Je ne regrette rien' from his bath). I honestly do, though, think that the Tories will be mad if they don't realise that one rotten apple indicates the presence of possibly widespread mould. They should attack, attack, attack (and if they did that, which I am not sure is even within their capabilities, they would win).
Posted by ed thomas at 7:03 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Aunty Beeb, having just about finished chuckling (paradoxically) like a new born at the acrimonious fate of General Pinochet (I don't exactly object to this except for the fact that the long-term emphasis on Pinochet undoubtedly contrasts with their approach to other unsavouries, and consequently illustrates the BBC's chronic attraction to the margins of the news stream), has taken a break from Pinochfreud to report on one of those famous Anglo-French cooperation stories- you know, one of those nice engineering stories like Concorde and maybe even Eurobus or Airbus or whatever the Eurofighter thingy is called.
I only hope that Norman Foster's latest bridge doesn't sway like the last one.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:45 PM
Fascinating as Usual- the Belmont club has part two of a post about Europe. It seems this period is prompting a lot of reflection on where we are and where we are heading, which is good. By 'we', I suppose I mean those identifying themselves with the Anglospheric association.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:03 PM
Monday, December 13, 2004
There's a lot of China about these days:
'China is methodically following the example of Meiji Japan in moving from a position of inferiority to one of military equality with far superior rivals, by deliberate application of a striking phenomenon of economics'
Posted by ed thomas at 7:43 PM
Iraq the Model (well, Omar & Mohammed) and Roger Simon, two of my favourite blog sources, have met, and it seems to have quite a touching meeting judging from what Roger says. Instapundit had that, and a useful link to one of the voices that have been raised to defend the brothers against the accusations of illwishers- illwishers that the third brother, Ali, still holding the fort in Iraq, takes a post to tackle. Ok, so I almost lifted a post, effectively (apart from the last link)- but it's like a party that I prefer not to be excluded from, and, well, it's Christmas (nearly).
Posted by ed thomas at 6:51 PM
Can the EU regulate itself into success? Belmont Club thinks not.
I suppose this is important as every day I get more and more impressions of the EU's ambitions, with Turkey and Rumania prominent, but the vague Eastern promise of countries like the Ukraine tantalisingly over the horizon.
A related question, suggested by watching BBC World, is whether the BBC can browbeat us into environmentalism. Now, I just need a link for that one. Here's an old post from Liberty Log that still carries some bite.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:20 PM
Friday, December 10, 2004
Posted by ed thomas at 1:44 PM
Thursday, December 09, 2004
More China stuff from two of my favourite sources, EurSoc and the American Thinker, about the armaments trade and 'Dollar diplomacy'. Both sources confirm the fact that should be informing British policy towards Europe and the rest of the world. Europe is in a hole, economically, diplomatically, and militarily.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:56 PM
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Monday, December 06, 2004
The World gets big on us- and you know what, I think Bush can cope with it (so says the Weekly Standard, and as so often they're right). When I say big, I mean fascinating accelerations like this one in China (isn't it amazing how financial journals these days bring all the real news?), or this story from B-BBC, which perfectly illustrates so much of my criticism of the BBC's coverage of Africa- and its consequences.
Of course, its only just becoming acceptable to say that Bush has some kind of wisdom up his sleeve (actually the conventional view is that Bush plays poker and that's how he's weirdly canny), but I predict it will gather pace, for a little while. Funnily enough I think we'll come to value Bush's judgement even as we come to recognise the vacuity of a certain Anthony Blair's- here EURef is surely on the mark ahead of schedule.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:25 PM
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Great Commentary from David Pryce-Jones on the potential for Islamisation in Europe (via the indispensible Real Clear Politics). He goes back through a range of gathering incidents to what I think of as one of those minor events of major importance- the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie for his book about the Koran 'The Satanic Verses'.
I will always remember how this incident announced to me the existence of a powerful force of irrational zealotry, shockingly different, yet almost symmetrical to our own rigorously enforced secularism. I think the contrast between the fate of Rushdie's work and the fate of a similarly controversial work in that year, The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorsesee, convinced me that something was going to give in the future.
Update: Including both the theme of censorship and the Islamisation of Europe, this is a fascinating article in the Jerusalem Post about the murder of Theo Van Gogh (who was, in fact, as I suspected but hadn't found confirmed until now, the Great Grand-Nephew of Vincent van Gogh) and its repercussions in the Netherlands. (If this link requires registration, I recommend you become registered- the J.P. is often one of the most informative reads around, and easy to join too)
Posted by ed thomas at 10:23 AM
Saturday, December 04, 2004
That don't impress me much
So Bono says he wants to spend the rest of his life fighting poverty. This from a guy that has spent years at the head of one of the most lucrative, frivolous and essentially distracting 'industries' the West has yet toyed with. What a man!
Ok, so I like his (sorry, their) music, sort of, in the sense that it always annoyed me less than the rest, had a mood that sprung from experiences which, out of the UK's relative comfort zone, seemed to have reality, and had lyrics that seemed a little poetic and aspirational. I still preferred Simple Minds though, apart from Van Diemen's land.
I guess that 'Wealthy Pop star puffs out chest and laments world poverty' shouldn't be much of a shock to me, but it rankles- whatever Bono's financial arrangements may be. But if it shouldn't surprise me, why should it be news to the BBC?
Come to think of it, why should this caption, 'Bono said world leaders looked at him like "sort of exotic plant"' be placed next to a picture of GWB, whereas the next thing we know Bono anecdotalises thus: '"But I've found them to be very respectful. When I met [Bill] Clinton, I looked like our road crew and he burst out laughing.' ? This comes in the wake of the Clinton library episode, where U2's appearance was touted by the BBC as part of the grand occasion.
Sounds a bit like Bono has a strange notion of respect, as indeed the BBC have of impartiality- and somehow it seems that there may be some kind of media-industrial-Liberal complex at work here that could use the investigation of a few good journalists.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:50 PM
Friday, December 03, 2004
Galloway's a fleabite compared to some of the issues confronting us today. Hugh Hewitt has a vital article taking up the story of a euthanasia committee established in the Netherlands, sheltering under the reassuring title of the 'Groningen Convention'.
Never mind that this sounds like some dull but worthy piece of history in the making, I try to consider the fact that the law today, which we all contribute towards in various ways (passive or active) exonerates bad men and persecutes children (even as it permits the massacre of the unborn).
Posted by ed thomas at 9:52 AM
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Monday, November 29, 2004
Losing no opportunity to bash the US (which has supplanted the old BBC habit of running down the UK), with an extra tweak to the nose of the US' partner in 'crime', the BBC enlists one of its old favourite tactics: the dignified voice of a distinguished figure, in this case Sir Edmund Hilary.
This time around it's an Antartic road being constructed by the US, and Britain's lack of support for the preservation of Scott's old huts that takes centre stage. What I object to is the generalisation:
'New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary has strongly criticised the activities of the US and Britain in Antarctica.'
At this point we're assuming some kind of environmental debacle (I say assuming because of the relentless barrage of enviro-propaganda that is directed at blackening the name of the US)- but this is far from clear as we read that the road is designed to reduce air-traffic, about which there has been a lot of hot air (does anyone remember Chirac's beauty sleep on 'the way' to Russia?)
Maybe the Mail has a take on this, I don't know, but the broad brush seems to me to work pretty effectively here: anything for Auntie to whip those naughty Pols into shape.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:13 AM
Friday, November 26, 2004
More on that European Weakness...
I suppose to some people it seems like the US dominated or influenced WWW is unjustly critical of Europe. I suppose it seems like US commmentators are always taking collumn inches to boast of superior US-this or that, or more likely, inferior Euro-this or that. That's despite a generally falling dollar and a huge deficit that no doubt those same Euros wish would carry a real sting for US citizens.
However, this is another example of the kind of thing that needs saying- from Gerard Baker of the Times writing in the Weekly Standard. It's possible there is some kind of gathering storm in Europe, and that possibility is really only being taken seriously on the other side of the Atlantic, if at all. Bush's itinerary for his visit to Europe might be very important indeed.
Meanwhile the BBC has brought us Che Guevara's travels in Africa, Russian Jews returning to Russia, and an Aborigine bunfight arising from some sort of tragedy. That's just a small sample of what the BBC considers news. Not uninteresting, but not essential. In other words, their ideological approach to broadcasting is keeping them somewhat at the margins in terms of providing a guide to world events. Yes, they cover Ukraine (how could they not?) but Aunty's ideology combined with their Foreign Office-style diplomatic avoidance of certain kinds of controversy leaves our understanding- left to itself and the BBC- somewhat darkened.
Meanwhile, this article becomes another of the BBC's contributions to the doom and gloom anti-Iraq war movement simply by changing its title: just now it's not about a weapons haul, weapons labs or victory in Fallujah, it's about two US soldiers being killed. Presumably the BBC thinks that's a potential lead on a new story- the battle after the battle (after the much earlier battle) of Fallujah.
There's also this cunning little juxtaposition in the same article:
'The US claimed Falluja was a centre for foreign fighters who had come to Iraq to fight the coalition.
Earlier this week, Iraq's interim defence minister said 60 Arab fighters were among those arrested in Falluja.'
So what can we figure out from those figures I wonder? What does the BBC want us to figure?
Posted by ed thomas at 10:35 AM
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The Blog's The Thing:
Forgive me for posting something simply because I enjoyed it so much, but this Powerline post just tickled me greatly and reminded me why the heading of this post is appropriate. Ok, so I am an enthusiast for Shakespear, Powerline and the death of Arafat- but, well, really. By the way I see they've put Mark Steyn's comment as a permanent feature of their page- it's a good one (I'm missing him already):
'"Everything that's wrong with American newspapers is summed up by the fact that these guys do it for free and their disparager, the pompous windbag editor at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, gets paid for it."
--Mark Steyn, Columnist extraordinaire '
Posted by ed thomas at 7:05 PM
Freedom's cry goes hunting:
Perry De Havilland really hits the nail on the head (well, several nails actually) in this post about the Government's appalling campaign to ban hunting with dogs.
This is the central problem with Britain today: that Government assumes too much authority. Of course it's linked to all our other problems, like the dependence of people on the State for the organisation of their lives, or the need for the State to seek greater and greater association with larger entities such as the EU (these two trends are naturally twinned).
But basically, the need of the day is for them (the Government) to get off my case and the cases of millions of sane and responsible people, and start worrying about some of the responsiblities they have to fulfil rather than the rights which being ensconced in Parliament enables.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:37 AM
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Bush the Basher:
Nice article from Charles Krauthammer outlining the freedom and the forcefulness of GWB as he lays out his administration and its goals. A lot rests on the success of this second four years, especially at a time when Europe is so chronically weak. This point, especially Europe's weakness for Islam, is made admirably clearly by Chuck Colson (via Veritas)
It does seem as though one way or another Bush will stretch the liberal establishment to breaking point, which is a great prospect.
For thoughts about the relative weakness of Europe, and the relative dynamism of the US, GDStQ gives it a pretty good go.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:21 PM
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Headlines for your friends.
Now CNN is not, I think you will agree, the scourge of the liberal establishment- yet they know how to frame headlines (and indeed articles) as a matter of course that don't confer an unwarranted respectability on the subject of the article, that don't show that institutional regard that one pillar of the liberal orthodoxy has for another.
The BBC is different. Institutional in such a way that they may determine the qualifications for institutionality, they can say 'Clinton due to open his library', and we all say, 'of course, Clinton's Library- what could be more proper than to mark its opening with an official ceremony and a party led by the likes of Bono and The Edge?' (of whose involvement the BBC religiously informs us).
CNN don't mention Bono or The Edge (the BBC there seemingly doing their bit for intra-U2 equality). Instead they major on the different reactions of the public to Clinton's portentious statement.
No, we don't just get Clinton's whine that people didn't focus on what he did in government (he should count himself lucky they got distracted by what he did, so to speak, on the side), we also get partisan supporters who look absurd: '"We had to show this was a systematic attempt by Republican leaders to de-legitimize Bill Clinton and the administration," said former Clinton adviser Bruce Lindsey'. IN otheer words, we get to know that this is a rankly partisan attempt to shape or possibly reshape, the way history is seen. Good luck to them- they'll need it.
The BBC, by contrast, sound like the tourist guide- who designed it, who opened it, what's inside, and what Bill thinks of it. Ok, ok, ok, Beebies- what I want to know is, 'what's going on here?' You always pride yourselves in reading between the lines of the VRWC, so what's with Clinton's Library that you might as well be quoting admission prices?
But, anyway, to move on- how's about that other grossly fat sacred cow, the UN? How comes it that CNN can rightly entitle their piece 'Rare U.N. meeting on Sudan', whereas the BBC proudly declare : 'Sudan conflict under UN spotlight' .
In other words, 'never fear, the UN are here' versus 'about time too and shouldn't we have done this last year?'
A)Which is closer to the truth? B)Which shows an attachment to the way things are that betrays them as pure establishment?
Posted by ed thomas at 10:41 AM
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
"Well, Britain gave its support, but I did not see much in return."-
Jacques Chirac (presumably speaking in French or demonstrating his ignorance of the subtleties of English tenses) referring, as is his wont, to Iraq.
Alas, I'm pretty sure it's not only English tenses that Jacques is ignorant of- it's also the extent of his own isolation.
Let's assume for a moment that Britain hadn't backed the US. That could have severed us from much more loyal friends, like Australia for instance, not to mention the States themselves. Why would we want to do that? For a cold French shoulder to cry on, as usual? Of course the US might have delayed longer without Britain, but alternatively they might have gone sooner, since it was TB who played the friendship card to force an attempt to placate the same UN that had been (we now know) infiltrated so badly by the wishes of the Iraqi despot through Oil-for-Food. Had the US gone in sooner, the success might have been more complete, including such things as WMD stockpiles as a bonus. Still, despite our hesitation, it was the right course of action, and we can retain close ties with two newly re-elected Anglospheric leaders for some years as a result. It's also the case that much of Europe was closer in spirit to the UK position than to that of the French- as was witnessed by their inability to remain silent.
So, Chirac's wrong. We've retained more than we've lost by the Iraq invasion, even in narrowly diplomatic terms- let alone the longer term fruits of democratic change, or change anyway, in the Middle East.
But of course it was right anyway to support and facilitate the ousting of Saddam Hussein, terrorist sugar daddy and inveterate plotter against the UK and US, whose regime was always personal in pursuing its vendettas, and cunning to boot.
Meanwhile, Roger Simon follows another hypothesis.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:07 PM
Monday, November 15, 2004
Bigger than you thought: that's UNScam, not Lord Black's alleged misdemeanours; though to look at the BBC's website you'd think Lord Black's champagne lifestyle the only 'fraud' going. It would be so much more a mark of a serious broadcaster were those priorities to be reversed
The BBC, true to their personality obsession, are more concerned with Colin Powell's significance (which has always fascinated them) than with the significance of Saddam's illicit billions. The protectiveness such selectivity shows towards Galloway and the French in particular is touching. One for all and all for one. Galloway, incidentally, happens still to be pursuing the Telegraph in the courts. I wonder if there is a theme emerging here.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:58 PM
Friday, November 12, 2004
The little things they say...
I had to laugh as I followed Martin Asser's account of preparations for Yasser's burial, as it entered another purple patch patch with the following:
'The roar of bulldozers and the shrill "beeb, beeb, beeb" of their warning signals mingled with the mournful sound of funerary verses from the Koran floating over Mr Arafat's Muqata compound throughout Thursday.'
Indeed, it would be just like the BBC to seek a formal role in eulogising the dead wannabe despot, and lamenting his demise, but I think it was just an unfortunate choice of expression, a freudian slip perhaps.
The passage I quote now represents the only inkling of irreverence towards the former Arafat:
'But that may leave only about three hours for the general public to pay their respects to a man who - for all his faults and failings - is acknowledged to be the father of their struggle for independence.'
That's really Arafat warts and all, isn't it?
Meanwhile there is an interesting contrast between the way the non-cooperation of Egypt and Israel with the Arafat bandwagon is represented.
Of Israel, we are told that 'Israel for its part has refused to honour Mr Arafat's long-held wish to be buried in Jerusalem.'
Of Egypt, meanwhile, we hear that 'Palestinian officials say they had asked Egypt to keep the body until Saturday to avoid any crush - but Egypt, for its own reasons, refused.'
It's crazy world when it is not recognised why Israel might not wish to bury Yasser Arafat in Jerusalem, thereby making a whole new 'holy place' for the Palestinians to wrangle over with them. 'Refused to honour'- I don't like the sound of that; refused to allow a terrorist statesman to continue his malevolent impact on Israel sounds more like it to me.
But, although it might appear that Asser is ignorant of the impact a Jerusalem-buried Arafat mighthave, that's clearly not the case. Asser not only seems aware of Arafat's impact, he seems to celebrate it vicariously through thoughts about Arafat's own preference for publicity:
'For all its poignancy, this is probably a day that Mr Arafat would have relished.
An honour guard has been practising its final salute to Arafat
Back on the world stage again for a major international event after years being pinned down by Israeli forces in two rooms at the Muqata, just a stone's throw from his burial site today.'
It's really more of the old 'sins of the fascist Jewish-fascist conspiracy will come back to haunt them' trash that we've grown used to in the deaths of Yassin and Rantissi. Even the though the Israelis didn't kill Arafat (though, really, I mean, who knows? Room for a Beeb Beeb documentary perhaps?) the BBC are determined to blow on the grey embers of Arafat's legacy.
Update: I shouldn't have joked about the Beeb documentary. Given reactions like these, it's a matter of when not if.
Furthermore, the BBC website has headlined Asser's subsequent, burial effort, 'a people's burial'- echoes of Diana, methinks
Posted by ed thomas at 1:21 PM
Thursday, November 11, 2004
An interesting contrast here between the coverage of France's troubles in the Ivory Coast from the BBC, and a more insightful approach from the EU Referendum blog.
For the BBC, the French are somehow refreshingly no nonsense, a sort of unAmerican, Socialist minded Indiana Jones, whose escapades must be reported indulgently. Chirac 'bangs heads' together, 'loses patience'- meanwhile the French UN 'mandate' goes unquestioned, when all they really did was strong arm a pliant pro-French organisation into sanctioning and aiding the defence of French colonial interests that have endured for more than a century. Equally unquestioned are the words of Governent proxy, Le Monde's Stephen Smith (*reassuringly Anglo for the job of excusing the French follie): "It is up to the international community to decide whether France is an obstacle or a factor for conflict resolution."
It is true that, of necessity given their coverage of Iraq, the BBC describe the situation as a 'quagmire', but the reality is that France, like some revered pensioner in international affairs, has been given a free pass.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:44 PM
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Some superb analysis from Arthur Chrenkoff- who I normally associate with Good News, but who is capable of contemplating the other sort with equal grace. His takes on Fallujah & Kosovo at the moment are must-reads in my view. Especially his views on Kosovo, the dirty secret of the interventionist fringe.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:12 PM
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
One Step Ahead
That's the art of politics it seems to me: being one step ahead.
Bush was one step ahead of John Kerry; Howard one step ahead of Latham, and Blair is one step (or several) ahead of the Conservatives.
So what is it, to be one step ahead?
Well, Douglas Alexander, a relatively young Home Office Minister, demonstrates the 'touch' by his analysis of the US political situation and the lessons that can be drawn for a Labour Britain. Melanie Phillips, meanwhile, has been right about most movements of the zeitgeist for quite a while, and she picked up on Alexander's openness to the lessons Dubya's success can teach to make a prediction:
'it will once again be Tony Blair who grasps the need to appeal to the socially conservative centre (however bogus that appeal may be), while the Tories continue to commit slow political suicide by not recognising the need for such an appeal at all.'
Naturally I find this quite scary, especially as it relies in part on the success of an idea that Alexander calls 'manufactured' common sense. To me you don't manufacture commonsense, you appeal to it- which W. successfully did last week. It's one of the fundamental differences between a conservative and a socialist that socialists believe common sense can be 'manufactured'- a very different thing from, say, 'being learned by experience'. However, the lines do get blurred, as when a socialist describes 'creating a learning experience'. That's what Blair would like to do for us: create a learning experience where we associate Labour with Government, Pavlov-style.
Well, Alexander is at least one step ahead of The Conservatives, who couldn't recognise Dubya as anything except foreign to them and their values- and couldn't envisage any sort of synthesis of Republican success with Tory re-election (which wouldn't, you'd have thought, take a genius).
Another sort of 'one step ahead', a more exciting one, is demonstrated by Irwin Stelzer in the Weekly Standard. I've long suspected that W. was likely to be remembered as a great custodian of the US economy in a time of crisis. If Stelzer is to believed such a legacy is a certainty, and the UK and Europe are to be buffeted by economic waves- from China. If he's right then Bush will show, by the end of the next four years, that he truly has been one step ahead.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:09 PM
Monday, November 08, 2004
Filled with Pain au Chocolat:
That's the experience of the French intervention in the Ivory Coast (the French describe that country somewhat autre). Read this article about Coastal unrest and you find human shields, 'friendly fire incidents', a local leadership you can't trust, French citizens as targets, and increased troop deployments to deal with unrest- and the big question that is looming over it all is 'why?'
The only thing I can imagine is that it's that pesky baking-military complex again and that it's all about cocoa.
Posted by ed thomas at 11:45 AM
Friday, November 05, 2004
The BBC is running a page for US voters to explain to bemused and befuddled Europeans why they voted for GWB. All the entries I troubled to read were extraordinarily well put together and spelt- as though thoroughly edited- except one:
'There is a lot of Biblical teaching on how God judges nations. The story of Lot is one example on how corrupt societies corrupt good people and bring down a community. Gay marriage and abortion are a threat to our culture and security. I voted to preserve the morale values of this country.
Howard, Chicago, USA'
I can't help wondering why that might have been.
In other election reflection, it seems appropriate here to note the energetic study of Steve Sailer, who, despite often criticizing the Prez., doubts whether Kerry was acccurately portrayed as having the higher I.Q. of the two men. Not that I'm a fan of the intelligence quotient system, but since they mentioned it first...
Finally, last but not at all least, the olympian (I mean his talent and achievements) Hugh Hewitt has written a terrific article about the Democrat defeat and what, in completing a phase of history that began in the sixties, it means for the future. His opinions are conciliatory and visionary, I'd say.
Posted by ed thomas at 2:20 PM
Thursday, November 04, 2004
So much to say.
I'll begin by saying that Mark Steyn was right (phew!) about the US Presidential election.
More importantly, his thoughts about the Bin Laden tape are vital and fascinating. I posted about this earlier, and there are points of agreement.
Also, I think Steyn is at his best when he knows his audience is hostile- several of his Irish Times articles have had a degree of clarity and originality which even surprised as avid a consumer (sorry Mark- I'll pay you later) of Steyn's lines as I am.
'he seems to be repositioning himself from holy warrior to torpid 1950s pan-Arab secular nationalist.'
On the Left-
'if I were a Democrat, I would be deeply ashamed at the way my favourite talking-points have been taken up so enthusiastically by my country’s enemies. Not just My Pet Goat, but the whole Bush-stole-Florida thing. In the heat of partisan politics, the left has failed to understand that these are arguments that diminish not just their target but an entire political culture.'
On Osama's use of the Left (with acknowledgement to 'Aussie wag' Tim Blair)-
'“It appeared to him [Bush] that a little girl’s talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers.”
Ha-ha. It’s the way he tells ‘em. But Blair pointed out that, unlike Michael Moore, who just used the book’s title as a cheap gag at the President’s expense, Osama went to the trouble of mastering the plot. In My Pet Goat, the eponymous hero prevents his little friend’s dad’s car being stolen by butting the thieves. If you go down to a polling station tomorrow and talk to the anti-Bush crowd, you’ll notice that, despite having been doing the “Shrub sat there reading My Pet Goat for seven whole minutes!” cracks to like-minded chums for six months, your average leftie windbag hasn’t been motivated to find out anything about the book beyond the title.'
All of this, and Steynian punning genius, reducing Osama to the mere 'bin man', the purveyor of garbage- much like his 'familiar' Moore.
OoooK, this post has turned into a Mark Steyn appreciation moment. I have a lot of thoughts about the BBC just now, too, but they'll have to wait. I should also say, while I'm here, a big thank you to Mark for all his wonderful columns. I'll have to revive my letter writing habits and tell him more directly.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I think that when you listen into French radio the day after the night before a US election result (as I did), and find the presenters' tones sombre, their subject 'stability' and their prognosis an uncomfortable time for M Chirac, you know it's been a good night for GWB.
An Indymedia guy reflects on the outcome:
'Personally, I played my bongos at many rallies to defeat Bush. I had some phat beats going sometimes for hours, I really gave it my all.
How could this happen?'
...And, by the way, I love the BBC's graphic dept.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:27 AM
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
After reading the Moore/Bin Laden tripe mentioned in the post below (which is unfortunately somewhat necessary reading) I was refreshed by reflecting on this analysis from Amir Taheri. Kind of a different way of seeing the Bush Admin., I think you'd have to say.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:45 PM
Here it is:
That Democratic election broadcast transcript in full- via LGF, who else?
I recommend that you read it all, for the light it casts on the Michael Moore, sorry, Bin Laden mentality, and especially how he seeks to understand America. It's vastly more informative than the excerpts we've received from the press, which leads me to think that though they can't formulate an original idea to save their lives they know dynamite when it's thrown at them.
It's interesting how much Bin Laden has an eye for economics. It's interesting how much he taps into the thinking of Western liberals to critique the allegedly blind leadership of the shrub- he even cites the Royal Institute of International Affairs as a source for the boast that Al Qaeda's wisdom surpasses that of the World's superpower. He seems to know all the 'right' people, including, infamously, the 'neutral' Robert Fisk.
In short, it's the best liberal critique of GWB that I've read, and it comes from one of the worst mass-murderers at large in the world today- and that, surely, shows the depths of depravity to which our Liberal intelligencia has sunk, when they can't outflank a jumped up murderer like Bin Laden, and instead become his helpmates.
And yes, I do pray that GWB succeeds in his re-election bid, big style.
As for Michael Moore, he's busy being himself, which has already proven more than helpful to Osama:
'There he was, OBL, all tan and rested and on videotape (hey, did you get the feeling that he had a bootleg of my movie? Are there DVD players in those caves in Afghanistan?)'
Posted by ed thomas at 1:10 PM
Monday, November 01, 2004
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Thursday, October 28, 2004
UNscam: a true story
It's been a long time since I updated concerning the UN Oil for Fraud scandal, so this is not a bad point to take notice of, from a Wall Street Journal editorial:
'Saddam Hussein exploited the program to run the largest bribery scheme in the history of the world.
Yes, we mean that literally'
And for the doubters:
'It can't be stressed enough that both the Duelfer and Volcker investigations confirm that this global web of corruption is no mere allegation trumped up by Ahmed Chalabi and "neoconservatives," '
All of which contrasts rather starkly with the rather non-story about the missing explosives which our biased national broadcaster considered fit for their frontpage for several Kerry-pandering days.
Posted by ed thomas at 4:23 PM
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The Beatification of William:
Once again I am reminded of the BBC's boundless appetite for romanticising the Democratic challenge to President Bush. There's no doubt it takes two to tango, but the BBC is near contravening obscenity laws in the way it holds aloft the form of Clinton for the world to admire.
Adam Brookes writes that 'He makes good television and he generates copy.' as though that were a judgement beyond the BBC's control. I actually think that if there ever was an instance of an empty suit, Clinton might have been it.
Meanwhile they are running out of respectful terms for Kerry. This time they resort to 'lugubrious' to express the absence of personality in the stiff from Massachusetts.
Kerry, says Brookes, wants to show that he can bring the good times back:
'It was on Bill Clinton's watch, say the Democrats, that America was last in the black.'
Meanwhile Brookes has already coined his own view of the nineties- the 'roaring 90's'- which lends Kerry some extra credibility, and he doesn't take a moment to explain that what Clinton's 'watch' really meant was a passive if not prostrate (ahem) attitude to a growing terrorist threat. Oh well.
Oh well, all that remains is to insult the Repuglicans with some trademark BBC prejudice:
'The Republican Party - many of whose members retain a boundless loathing for Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary - put out a well-crafted sneer as Mr Clinton took to the stump.'
The BBC, you see, constructs articles, and indeed its whole coverage, with a scrupulous attention to fairness; while the Repugnicants spend all their time crafting their slime and sneer campaigns. I hope that's clear to all. Any questions?
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Coming Through Loud and Clear
Charles Moore, often the dealer of ambiguous hands, comes up trumps in this article about the upcoming election:
'So who gains if Bush loses? The Labour Left, of course, and the political power of the European Union, the Guardian readers who have been writing magnificently counterproductive anti-Bush letters to the voters of Clark County, Ohio, and every twerp who says with a trembling lip that Mr Bush and Mr Blair have "blood on their hands"; not to mention every corrupt, undemocratic, "pragmatic" government in the Middle East that longs for a return to stasis. '
There's only one group he leaves out amidst some far more serious winners than those quoted above: the BBC. Marc at USS Neverdock has some words to say about them (some of them misspelt, but we all make mistakes- and mine are usually bigger than that!).
On the subject of Charles Moore and the BBC, I took this letter on Steyn's website as delivering a backswipe at the policies pursued by Moore during his time as Telegraph editor. Says George Warburton:
'RESTORE THE TELEGRAPH
My father read the Telegraph for most of his life. I started to read parts of it when I was about 13 years old, having been weened on The Childrens' Newspaper. Since the age of 20 I have read all of it every day (slight exaggeration).
I have enjoyed reading your column and was disgusted that your latest effort was censored. The DT was in the wrong hands for a number years, being at times an apologist for the paedophile tendency of the Roman church (and an enemy of the BBC for that reason, when there were so many other reasons). I had hoped that a change of ownership would bring a change of editorial control and a restoration of the values of the past but it has yet to happen. I live in hope.'
Interesting. I might even agree.
Meanwhile, Steyn himself, who has never been known for self-contradiction or pulling punches, is feeling the need to spell things out again:
'The war against the Islamists and the flu-shot business are really opposite sides of the same coin. I want Bush to win on Election Day because he's committed to this war and, as the novelist and Internet maestro Roger L. Simon says, "the more committed we are to it, the shorter it will be.'' The longer it gets, the harder it will be, because it's a race against time, against lengthening demographic, economic and geopolitical odds. By "demographic," I mean the Muslim world's high birth rate, which by mid-century will give tiny Yemen a higher population than vast empty Russia. By "economic," I mean the perfect storm the Europeans will face within this decade, because their lavish welfare states are unsustainable on their shriveled post-Christian birth rates. By "geopolitical," I mean that, if you think the United Nations and other international organizations are antipathetic to America now, wait a few years and see what kind of support you get from a semi-Islamified Europe.'
Posted by ed thomas at 8:19 AM
Friday, October 22, 2004
Belmont Club has a great post about the transnational dream that seems to motivate (does anything really motivate?) John Kerry. Choice quotation:
''One World' may be a goal, but a distant goal, comfortably arrived at in stages. Nothing will be missed. Nothing essential really. It will all happen so gradually as to be imperceptible, except to bigots, who are always noticing something.'
Posted by ed thomas at 9:44 AM
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
The Freedom of the Beeb
Imagine that these words, 'Turkey EU entry as big as 'D-Day'' had been highlighted from a speech by GWB. Imagine it reported on the BBC how 'some say' W betrays his insensitivity and historical ignorance. And then compare and contrast that imaginary scenario with this real case of BBC reportage, where Joska Fischer gets his free leftist pass and goes whistling on his way as a 'forthright' contributor might be expected to.
Posted by ed thomas at 5:59 PM
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
I am in general a little absent from the internet, so I was under the impression that John Kerry was storming through on the inside track of the US Presidential race. Perhaps I should spend less time reading the BBC website when I do manage to check on the affairs of states. To my surprise, I learnt that Bush was still ahead according to poll averages .
Another surprise, but not an unexpected one if you follow my drift, was that John Howard had won the elections of Oz. Talking to an Aussie soldier who was on leave from Iraq, I found him well satisfied by that outcome. In fact, I have found several Iraq soldiers who have given better reasons for their actions in Iraq than you generally hear in the media.
This article from John O'Sullivan really illuminates the significance of victory down under.
As for Iraq, undoubtedly (contra BBC) a factor in the Aussie election, Michael Barone has an analysis of the Duelfer report and how it supported the action taken by the coalition. I always return to one word, 'composite', when I reflect on the case for the Iraq war. So far as I could tell people who were anti the war had only one word, 'immoral', which spawned the one refrain, 'wrong, wrong, wrong', whereas I had a word which meant composed of many parts- which Duelfer's report and Barone's argument illustrate.
For extra analysis of one component for that argument, the UN, Con Coughlin is on hand at the DT.
Finally, what little scan of the useful media would be complete without Mark Steyn. I just love the, er, chutzpah in his address to Irish readers:
'readers of this column may have gained the impression that George W Bush will win the Presidential election on November 2nd. If he doesn’t, I shall trouble readers of this newspaper no further.'
Posted by ed thomas at 9:27 AM
Friday, October 08, 2004
BBC laid back about the French
I just loved the introduction to this BBC article intended to cover French corruption over oil for food. Has a voice of accusation ever been more passive? :
'Allegations that French officials were offered bribes by Saddam Hussein are unverified, France has said.'
I note that even despite this passive tone, we do not get as far as hearing that French officials may have received bribes from Saddam Hussein. Furthermore, we are stumped by the question of who is going to do the verifying. The UN perhaps, as the only international forum with the legitimacy gained by having the likes of Sudan on board?
At the risk of being a little pedantic, I should point out that the part of the purpose of a passive sentence is to avoid describing the agent who is going to perform the verb. So, on the one hand we are informed that the French were allegedly propositioned by Saddam (not that they had any relationship that might have scrubbed two backs rather than one), while on the other the agency that is to verfiy those allegations is unclear. Why unclear? Well, the assumption will be, and is, that the US is the agency that is required to verify these allegations- yet the whole thrust of BBC coverage for months, years and God knows how long is that you can't trust the yanks (in recent terms just think of the 'debate raging' about 'intelligence failures' which the BBC has happily stoked).
Ok, this is just the opening salvo of an article which does its best to relieve the French of the need to answer any serious questions. It's enough to know where the BBC stands though, which is frightening.
In this context, this article by Glenn Reynolds, and this by Mark Steyn, are both relevant. Some details here- thanks to A Tangled Web.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:02 AM
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Monday, September 27, 2004
The media-mandarin-monster complex
Weird title, huh? Well, perhaps you've come across the phrase 'military-industrial complex', a fairly old-hat saying, but nonetheless revived by anti-war types for the purpose of bashing the Halliburton-Cheney relationship.
I have a new phrase to talk about. It is the media-mandarin-monster complex, and I will explain it with the aid of a couple of links.
Powerline has a couple of fascinating posts on US foreign policy; focussing on the President and his attitude to the Jewish people, in one, and in the other focussing on the CIA's attempts to undermine the President.
Melanie Phillips meanwhile delivers magnificently in this piece entitled 'The Media War against the West.' She begins by dealing with the atitude of a mandarin at the Foreign office, who in the particular instance she cites comes across as unbelievably crude and almost, well, sleazy, in his rubbishing of Bush as 'conditioned' by the Jews.
She then goes on to lambast Justin Webb of the BBC (much as I have done) for his stupid and venal caricature that Bush 'would be displaying the appeal of the cowboy down the ages and a cowboy philosophy; that what he did well was stand his ground outside the saloon bar, but he didn’t react well when the shooting started'
How to make sense of all these strands? We have the CIA, the FCO, the BBC, and a thousand and one freelancers, all talking the language of parody and mockery to make points that are simply too obvious to command anyone's attention.
We often say that people have lost faith in democracy, that they no longer care who wins elections. Why is that? Isn't it more likely that the institutions by which we live have let us down than that the figures at the top of the pyramid of power have betrayed our trust? Everyone 'knows' GWB to some extent, and he is openly judged by self-proclaimed people. Who judges Mr Mandarin, Mr Media, or come to that, the monsters outside the 'West' who have been kept at arms length by the luck and sophistry of our media-mandarin complex?
Posted by ed thomas at 1:51 PM
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Doom, gloom and the facts of the matter
I didn't mention Iyad Allawi's speech the other day. I already knew he was a very effective speaker so the impact he made wasn't a surprise.
Paul Reynolds' response is interesting. Unlike the US media, he had something to say about Allawi:
'There have been those who predicted that out of the chaos in Iraq, a strongman would emerge. History demonstrates that as well. Edmund Burke predicted the rise of a Napoleon Bonaparte when the French Revolution descended into anarchy.
In Iraq, it is not supposed to happen.'
Yeah, so Allawi makes an inspiring speech, an optimistic speech, and the next thing you know the BBC is mentioning him in the same breath as Napoleon (not a compliment- I'm just surprised they didn't mention Hitler).
Meanwhile Mark Steyn brilliantly castigated the US media for having nothing to say to Allawi- basically a complete lack of curiousity about the man who more than any perhaps holds the future of Iraq in the success of his Ministry.
Kerry, meanwhile, merely questioned Allawi's judgement as though he were the next big thing in Iraqi blogging.
Is a theme emerging here? Lack of curiosity, absurd analyses that seem wildly generalised, and a US presidential candidate happy to lecture his ally from the great height of his liberal judgement. Sounds like the liberal establishment right enough to me.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:40 AM
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Thinking Through Iraq
I suppose I´ve been waiting for people to think seriously through what´s going on in Iraq, and what should be done about it (I prefer that to 'muddling through'). I would have done more myself but I have neither the experiences or the training to make that natural, so it´s great to find others doing it.
Ever since it became apparent the Sunni resistance wasn´t fading away it it seemed likely that someone, somewhere, had a real strategy, and that person or those persons, or that culture, wasn´t on our side.
Healing Iraq has a great post on the strategy of the terrorist-Sunni-Baathist alliance.
Arthur Chrenkoff, meanwhile, fills in another part of the equation- the reluctance of the Iraqi populace to make the effort to cooperate sufficiently with the reconstruction process to end the foolish and dangerous resistance.
I particularly like what he has to say about the effects of totalitarianism on the people subjugated:
'Nothing, however, in our generally safe and comfortable existence would helps us understand just how pervasively difficult, destructive and dispiriting the experience of life under a totalitarian regime is. For most of us, life in Saddam's Iraq would have been no more real than the Middle Earth of the colonial New England'
Posted by ed thomas at 1:46 PM
Money Talking Explosively
Some great stuff on Iraq from Austin Bay, who just recently got back from there. It's about how the nice, clean US military has met Iraq's entrenched thug culture, which unfortunately drips money. I've always felt that money was a massively underrated part of the 'resistance' story- I wonder why that could be, Koffi?
It puts into perspective the fundraising activities of certain European groups- and I bet that is just scratching the surface, since I don't expect the BBC to actually investigate anything much, certainly not in areas that might assist the efforts of the coalition.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:34 AM
Monday, September 20, 2004
I was very sorry to learn that there were a significant number of casualties suffered by US forces in Iraq in the middle of last week. Not what I wanted to see, but not unexpected.
Wretchard has a breakdown of fatalities on his Belmont Club blog, which makes interesting if sombre reading.
I'll just give my response.
Wretchard points out that most of the fatalties are still taking place in the Sunni triangle, thus somewhat dispelling fears about civil war in Iraq. I've noticed for a long time (even on this blog) the preponderance of casualties in the Al-Anbar province.
I expected an upsurge to occur because July/August was relatively quiet there, while al-Sadr danced his merry destructive dance in Najaf. I took it that the forces of the Sunni fighters further North and West were preparing for another push against US forces in the run-up to the US election.
One interesting thing of recent times is the occurrence of violence in Mosul. Last year this was one of the quietest parts of Iraq- and featured by BBC journalist Jonny Diamond as a success for softly-softly tactics. Soon after that hell broke loose, and violence has been on a gradual upcurve ever since that outbreak (to my eye).
As Diamond points out, there is an ethnic divide between Arab and Kurd in that area. In fact, what's regularly underplayed is that Saddam relocated a lot of Arabs into towns like Mosul and Kirkuk in order to keep his thumb firmly on the Kurdish population there. Naturally they will resent the loss of their god (or Saddam)-given superiority, and fear reprisals (both short and long-term) too- some of which have already happened.
What this demonstrates for me is that among the most miguided of mentalities is that of the softly-softly approach. Pretending a volcano isn´t there doesn´t stop, in BBC language, ´violence erupting´
I think again that you have to be wary when things are too quiet. The calm in Mosul was more about regrouping to see how they could reassert Arab dominance than to see what democratic role they could find. The first instinct of people in plot-ridden Iraq is obviously to plot rather than politick, especially so for those who gained most from previous plotting.
But I also think it unlikely that Mosul will be all that terrible a place for the coalition. It could play its part if some of the other regions get their sunni-Arab act together the way Fallujah did, but not otherwise. The reason for this is that being ethnically mixed there will always be allies of the coalition who will weaken the Arab-Sunni resistance.
Mark Steyn in the Telegraph has one of his customary punchy articles about the state of Iraq. As usual he sees the big picture, and the good sense in converting our most diehard enemy state into a less bad place. You can´t draw the poison out of places like Mosul all that easily, but it might drain away over time if the right assertive local policies are pursued.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:11 AM
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Spilling the water
The water carriers for Kerry assaulting Bush seem to have dropped their containers. Looking through the opinion articles there are still some trying to pretend there´s something in the CBS story, but they´re relying heavily on the so-called big picture. In other words they already know the story, they´re just looking for some detail to fill it in.
What frustrates me is that the BBC are almost the archetype of that attitude. Their story remains largely unaltered, with the admission that some have found the memos suspicious. If there was ever a time that a British news organisation could show up the US media, this might be it- but it's not in the BBC's script to do that kind of exposé.
The entire article is almost as misleading as ever- by which I mean that the CBS story is embedded within a context of a history of Bush's military documents, many of which released by the Whitehouse. It's a case of trying to spot the odd one out- Rather's photocopies don't exactly compare, but they do happen to signifcantly develop a dormant story. The only consolation might be that few will ever read it since it´s now buried.
Does it do any good to go on emphasising the idiocy of Rather's position? I think it's not going to harm Bush to have a meme up and running about the lying Liberal media. The US election will be about who the public in their hearts associate with the title of Al Franken's book. There's no doubt in my mind who better fits that description- but proof is always good.
Meanwhile the BBC go back to their favourite topic- how the Iraq war was wrong. This must be true, because even Koffi says so. Faced with Koffi and the BBC in tandem once more, I'd rather hear it from this man. The BBC though manage to make their main headline block comprise how Iraq war was wrong, how Iraq is terrible now, and how it will be worse in the future. Almost beyond parody, but not quite.
Update: the Coalition partners respond to Koffi and the BBC's manufactured moment (like a high proportion of the news the 'Koffi calls war illegal' story is a story that people -ie. the BBC and Koffi- decided was going to happen). Basic thesis from the Coalition: Koffi's got a cheek. I couldn't agree more.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:53 AM
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
The Next Big Thing in English or Welsh rural sports?
Mark Steyn's investigation suggests to me that woodland walks spotting and snipping cables could be the next big thing.
By the way, rest assured this isn't an Oates to Scott of the Antarctic moment but I have a great deal to do at the moment and I, er, may be some time away from posting. I'll try to nip in with a post when time and opportunity allows.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:43 AM
Monday, September 13, 2004
Picking the spin
I don't know where the media term 'spin' originated, but I like to think it comes from cricket and the wiles of a spin bowler, where there are numerous recognised deliveries and many more variations that can produce unique 'spin' to outwit a batsman.
One of my favourite features of Channel Four's excellent cricket coverage is known as 'jargon-buster', where a kind of cricket boffin (Simon Hughes) takes you through the origin of obscure terms.
What we need is a jargon-buster for the media- or maybe just some old-fashioned straightforwardness.
Chrenkoff's latest 'Good News from Iraq' is up, and I notice a couple of interesting things tucked in amongst all the other generally good stuff:
'"Now that the security conditions have improved, it is easier to provide… aid," said EU Foreign Minister Ben Bot during his recent visit to Baghdad' (link)
'the government of Georgia will double its contingent in Iraq by October, from 157 to 300 troops' (link)
I think these two snippets, while naturally only part of the context in Iraq, are interesting in the light of the language the media, and notably the BBC, are using.
This report talks of fighting 'across' Iraq, and was introduced under link-headlines that talked of 'widespread' fighting.
This kind of language is commonly used and enough to keep the anti-war faithful's blood pressure nice and high in between explosions, but makes little sense when put in the context of the kind of good news Chrenkoff reports.
I included the snippet about the Georgian commitment because it shows what those who have real professional concerns think about Iraq and the direction in which it’s going. It's also interesting for the obscurity of the source: can it be that no mainstream media picked up this news? They certainly have no problem talking about troop withdrawals from Iraq, however insignificant numerically- or countries warning citizens not to travel to Iraq. It must just be that the Georgians are bribed and/or coerced, eh, Mr Kerry?
Maybe indeed the Georgian government has ulterior motives- they admit as much in very gracious terms. What government doesn't? The important point is that the US, despite its so-called false Iraq war, is a sought-after ally. GWB's strength as a steadfast war leader and faith in his armed forces has drawn many to seek advantage from cultivating his friendship. That's generally been known, where I come from, as statesmanship.
To return to the 'spin', I think that terms like 'widespread' and 'across' ought to be knocked for six by any solid middle-order journalist. What they conceal is that violence is highly localised, if vicious, and widely rejected by Iraqis. The purchase they have had on the public perception of Iraq is the kind of spin that Shane Warne and co. can only dream about.
Update: On the other hand... I noticed this- kind of an anti-Chrenkoff approach it's only fair to mention.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:59 PM
A Good Chuckle
It made me laugh a couple of months back when I read that John F. Kerry had been given this ringing endorsement by Texan liberal (some call him 'populist', others, 'humourist') Jim Hightower:
'"I don't care if he's a sack of cement, we're going to carry him to victory"'
Well, Kerry's not only heavy as a sack of cement- he's been doused in ridicule, and we all know how much heavier cement gets when it's wet. Then of course you just have to wait for the cement to harden... .
Posted by ed thomas at 8:21 PM
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Kevin Myers on the BBC:
'We really shouldn't be too surprised by anything the BBC does these days: the Dyke legacy has taken a terrible toll, and so there is no point in being angered by what we see on our screens. After all, it's only television, isn't it? Except it's not.'
Kevin Myers on the BBC and Ireland:
'One of the central and abiding problems of Northern Ireland is the role of perception in influencing politics. For the BBC to be subsidising a Sinn Fein version of the history of the Troubles isn't merely wrong in itself, but is profoundly irresponsible, a kind of down payment on further conflict in the future.'
The first paragraph explains almost precisely my views on the BBC (although I think Dyke was really the cherry on top of a problem deeply entrenched in the BBC's history). The second is so interesting because you could substitute 'Northern Ireland' in this analysis with any unstable region in the world and 'Sinn Fein' with any radical protagonist in these areas and get the same effect. It's time British people and those interested in fighting terrorism started caring enough about Northern Ireland to reject the BBC's fascination with Sinn Feinian fantasies.
See also this from A Tangled Web
Posted by ed thomas at 7:26 PM
I'm linking to Power Line's analysis of the meaning of Rathergate- which traces out thoughts similar to those I expressed yesterday (but puts them better)- before I go out. Hindrocket's conclusions? :
'Those of us who still value truth must look at the mainstream media in a new, more skeptical and critical way, taking nothing for granted... the mainstream news organs will go farther to achieve their political goals than we ever imagined.'
I'm sure he's fundamentally right about that.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:28 AM
Saturday, September 11, 2004
The Telegraph has some noteworthy things to say today.
I often think the Telegraph itself is complacent and inconsequential, but today they made two contributions that belied that judgement.
Charles Moore makes the case against fatalism and overconfidence regarding the terrorist threat. Essentially, our actions matter and 'they' can beat us.
-just look at Spain (which, of course, is just a step along the Jihadist road).
Meanwhile, on Europe they say what I've been thinking (they must be right)- Gordon Brown is playing rhetorical games while adjusting our economy to fit in with the Continent. I find his oleaginous duplicity (ok, a ridiculously long phrase to describe a greasy liar- but he's not quite as slippery or as deceitful as to be obvious about it, like, say, Mandelson has been.) sickening, and I just wish I thought he wasn't getting away with it.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:09 PM
In Lawful Pursuit
When Dan Rather stood by his story it was like a city man taking a swing at a swarm of wasps.
Hugh Hewitt has a swarm of links and emails to add to the fray, including a fascinating exchange with a Professor of Computer Science very well up on typefaces and such.
Thomas Lifson calls it Rathergate.
The thing that strikes me is that the pioneering people at Powerline are all lawyers. So is Hugh Hewitt. Since Magna Carta the law has been subject to the intrusions of laypeople though something called a jury. The media world however has never had a comparable facility and the media hasn't had much power actually to enforce its will on others. I'd say over the last thirty years that situation has changed in Britain and America with the rise of the television/celebrity age, and this is the natural reaction: lawyers critiquing journalists, looking for standards of proof to be met. Good on them- it beats this sort of legal oversight of the media.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:34 PM
Friday, September 10, 2004
A Great Point Raised
Aside from all the schamozzle over forged documents, this former Kuwaiti minister make some excellent points about fatwas, the legal declarations taken so seriously in the Islamic world: Why a fatwa against Salman Rushie? Why no fatwa against Osama?
Posted by ed thomas at 8:16 PM
Following the Trail
Belmont Club was interested, not so much in the documents which were easily nitpicked into a laughing stock from all directions (I'd link to one if there were a definitive method), but in the power of the online world to hunt down the false and the hollow.
Hugh Hewitt, as part of a long, link-filled post, tracks the story and its reception in the big media.
It seems the Boston Globe, like the BBC, decided to run the story about Bush's failure to meet National Service requirements without any acknowledgement of the growing forgery storm. Since the BBC are so keen on updates it would seem odd they haven't bothered either to follow up or alter it. Odd too when there are authoritative media pursuing the forgery line in separate stories.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:14 PM
Why was our national broadcaster so keen to get taken in by a likely fraud? When and how will they begin to retract their unambiguous presentation of the story as hard news? Why did they imply at the beginning of their smearticle that the documents came from the Whitehouse ('The documents released by the White House show the suspension also resulted from his failure to take his annual medical test as required.') when the Whitehouse was just passing on what had been passed to them, as the Beeb smearticle notes in its third from last paragraph?
John Podhoretz explains the controversy and how the accusatory evidence against Bush is unravelling online, and suggests why certain people were such suckers for this one. I am reminded just how reluctant and slow the BBC were to report the SwiftVet allegations until long after it was being reported by 'respectable' (I use the term advisedly) outlets.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:58 PM
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Chirac's Beauty Sleep
Of course there's nothing particularly attractive about the sleazy French Presidential incumbent, so he needs all the help he can get. The BBC report it, but it's curious how they miss out the interesting angles- such as why this Kyoto-loving US-basher was content to stream pollution across the European sky-line. Maybe the wind direction was easterly. Capt. Ed covers the hypocrisy question, and adds a spot of bad economic news for Kerry.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:18 PM
Belmont Club Takes Stock:
'If anyone is hoping Iraq will become an infamous, unmitigated catastrophe, don't hold your breath... If anyone is hoping that America will be able to leave Iraq in a couple of years to the tune of brass bands marching over a carpet of strewn flowers, don't hold your breath either.'
This BBC report is interesting and more or less confirms this 'between two extremes' analysis of Iraq. The women interviewed have mixed stories but on balance their lives have improved as a result of the Iraq war.
Meanwhile, this military crash in the Czech Republic is tragic, but if there can be one brighter thought it is that the number of reported British dead equals the number of reported British military deaths in Iraq over the last six calendar months. That kind of thing makes me livid with those British people, usually media, George Galloway or Tories on the make, who want to go on about failure in Iraq, impeaching Blair etc.
Posted by ed thomas at 5:58 PM
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
The Baath News
Via Powerline comes this disturbing tale of Baathist resurgence in the Sunni triangle. This confirms my view that as much as anything we are fighting ideologies in Iraq. Baathism is a descendant of National Socialism- every bit as vicious, with pseudo-spiritual leanings deriving from the ideology of Michel Aflaq, who pioneered Baathism in the the middle of the last century.
It's my view we should not be surprised or discouraged at the resilience of Baathism in Sunni parts of Iraq. Baathism is what made Iraq the place of despair that it was under Saddam, and we should see that Saddam was just the High Priest of Baathism in the latter era (Aflaq having blazed a trail earlier). The High Priest is merely the servant of something greater, a role similar to that claimed by the Pope- whose image we see so much but who would always claim merely to be an intercessor rather than a deity himself.
Part of the difficulty we've had over Iraq was defining our enemy. Understanding the true nature of Baathism and how it ties into other Arab/Islamic ideology helps explain what our enemy is.
I've found three useful links to understanding Aflaq. First, the encyclopedia entry, giving all the basic details (though take the notion that Aflaq was 'a staunch Christian' with pinch of salt). Second, an excellent article that appeared in the Weekly Standard several years ago entitled 'Saddam's Brain', which though excellent was probably a little too exotic for anyone to appreciate fully at the time (after all, we'd specialised in trying to ignore the world's despots since 1945 until Saddam rang our bell once too often). Third, and finally, and related to the KnightRidder article Powerline highlighted, here's a recent web posting from some Aflaq fanatic of the Saddamite resistance.
In the light of this, it's interesting to recall this speech from GWB which recognised the battle against Islamofascism (and, for all its secularist tendancies, Baathism really does lend itself to a partnership with a sacrificial kind of religious extremism) as part of the legacy of the 20th century's conflicts. What's needed it seems it to translate our understanding of these things into an urgency and seriousness on the ground which recognises the imperative of winning every battle there is to fight- rather than throwing the straws of military excursions into the winds of history.
With the serendipity which the blogosphere so often conjures, I found this article from Austin Bay useful to set alongside the thoughts above.
Posted by ed thomas at 7:18 PM