Saturday, August 14, 2004

Superb post on Najaf at Healing Iraq (ever since I said Zeyad had cooled towards the [weblog] project, he's been posting like a trooper!), though I think things have moved on, and from what I've heard of Allawi he does not take fools lightly.

I was delighted to find that William Shawcross has a website - with a goodly number of articles available. He's been stalwart on the war in Iraq, a beacon at the Spectator, and generally I've found myself agreeing with him almost every time I read his stuff over the years. A happy coincidence, and a nice discovery thanks to a Bilious Young Fogey.

Curious Frenchmen

This time I mean in the sense of being interesting.

Ever since the Iraq war, Chirac's posturing and Villepin's poseuring, I've been curious about the French line of thought. This article puts gallic flesh on the bones.

I think that the French have, at least in recent years, overestimated the extent to which we see we Brits see ourselves in competition with them. We're deluded enough to think they are our friends.

The article takes us back to 1945, and outlines an idea of the French future as part of a Latin/Mediteranean bloc- the writer humorously (?) talks of the need 'to replace Franco with a Francophile Government'. That made me smile since all the Spanish people I met while I lived there hated the French. Perhaps that indicates a diplomatic failure somewhere.

As the American Thinker points out (and no, the Ed who posted it is not this one), Alexandre Kojève, an influential philosopher with a line to De Gaulle 'called for an accommodation and partnership with Islamic nations, and stated that this unity can be based on a mutual opposition to other trends'.

That's a possibility- given France's demographic trend to Islam- that has intrigued me for quite a while. Why did this Catholic country permit such high levels of immigration from Islamic countries? Could the answer be the French fixation with empire which Kojeve exemplifies? After all, it was Britain who created the huge Islamic nation of Pakistan , much of which later became Bangladesh, yet we have about half the levels of Islamic people that France has. (via Instapundit)

Pejman Yousefzadeh expresses intelligent concern in a TechStationCentral column about the prospect of a President Kerry- and in particular the phenomenon of the 'secret plan' for Iraq. I'm increasingly of the view that Kerry's swiftboat has been holed below the water line on both sides of the boat.

Friday, August 13, 2004

I had something profound to say

and now it's gone.

However, I was going to comment on this Memri translation of an Abu Hamza sermon (Hamza's the fellow that's threatened with extradition to that willing horse the USA).

It's all there- the Vanunu controversy that the BBC made their special hobby, the Jewish media hegemon almost as described by Margo Kingston; the military-industrial complex as described by the DU and their ilk; oh, and a spot of libertation theology, Islamic style.

One would have to say Hamza is all derivative. Oh, but I should mention that the real theme is how martyrdom proves that the Muslims are the true people of God.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Personal Accounts

Surely you won't get more penetrating advice on how to cope with a zone of combat like Iraq than this blogger gives. It puts the there in there. Don't forget to read the rest too (via God Save the Queen)

William Kristol, in huge contrast, is not a blogger, or a soldier, but his account of batting for Tony at dinner parties in London is quite good fun.

UNscam Update.

Not so good I'm afraid. Paul Volker's official investigation reported that... it will take them an awful long time to report. Meanwhile the pursuit of the Chalabis continues to grab the attention- it was Ahmed Chalabi who initially spearheaded the interest in the UN Oil-for-Food deal that Saddam was so enjoying. This after a string of setbacks including the assassination of the man in charge of the Iraqi Governing Council's own investigations and accusations of corruption in the former CPA's use of oil money.

Claudia Rosett clarifes an important point, which many sceptics need to consider:

'Mr. Chalabi, for this columnist, at any rate, was never a major source. Oil-for-Food was a program so vast, so obviously packed with perverse policies and incentives, and so disturbing to a number of honest people who encountered it--including some sources quite close to the U.N.--that the array of whistle-blowers is extensive and highly varied.'

It's crucial that the reputation of one man doesn't become a means of dismissing a scandal that, as William Safire remarked some months ago, has no friends. Since that time its friendlessness has acquired new depths. (via Roger Simon).

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

An Interesting Contrast (again):

The BBC and The American Thinker go hunting for information about Iraq nukes. Funny how things coincide like that. The BBC had the bright idea of asking the man in charge of their development.

So funny, in fact, that I decided to investigate the source of the American Thinker story- assuming that I could be sure that the other fellow was simply one of the Baathist regime's trusted men. You get a different perspective on what one of the American Thinker's sources, Prof. Dombey, said when you read that he was an advisor to Charles Kennedy, and, far from emphasising Saddam's nuclear threat, he was trying to discredit the uranium from Niger story.

However, I think that NewsMax (who mediated the Dombey remarks) have a good point in quoting Charles Duelfer when he said to Congress earlier this year that 'the Iraqi scientists were "preserving and expanding [their] knowledge to design and develop nuclear weapons." '. Prof. Dombey inadvertently set people thinking by talking about the amount of natural uranium Saddam was allowed to retain, allegedly under UN supervision, and the number of bombs you could make with it.

Some would say it's six to one, and half a dozen of the other in this game of asserting and denying Saddam's WMD threat- but it's interesting to have confirmed once again where the BBC stand. No mention of Charles Duelfer's comments there, just 'pure', 'unadulterated', official Baathist.

Speaking of Rottenness (see below post)-

One of my first forays into the "Democratic Underground", and it reminded me of shovelling manure- the deeper you dig, the worse the stench.

One of the surefire ways to evaluate a political movement is to analyse how they would react to the death of their opponents. That spectre (or prospect of joy, if sufficiently twisted- and they are) was raised today by the revelation of a al-Qaeda scheme to assassinate a leading political figure in the US- the prime target being GWB.

And the DU's reaction? To smell a Republican scheme to take out Kerry while blaming al-Qaeda. The originator of this "brilliant" theory apparently drew most on the inspiration of the darker characters of the Harry Potter stories to enrich his understanding. I think it stinks. (via LGF)

Snapshot of a Rotten State

Sometimes you look at a news page and certain items like dots join up together and spell a message. The ancients used to read the heavens scouring the stars for messages. With the news pages we tend to be the seekers of messages. Sometimes it's a good one, sometimes not. More often not.

From the EU Observer today: No, no EU money is going into Palestinian terrorist pockets. No, there is no genocide in Darfur. Yes, there will be European observers at the US general election this year.

If you read the reports, there are, shall we say, nuances that lend a little perspective, but there is a surreality where we are, on the one hand, engaging in semantics over human lives being extinguished (primarily to avoid having our hand forced), and on the other quite prepared to intervene where it is likely to be redundant.

How to explain such emptiness, such superfluity, at the heart of Europe? Look no further than the EU's overwhelming democratic deficit.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

And Finally, on the subject of 'curious', the other sense of the word

Talking of Curiosity.

Yes, that Bush- d'you imagine he's a curious chap?

I only say because it seems to be the killer below-the-belt punch of the Democrats and their sympathisers that he is uncurious- oh, and stupid of course. This post at A Tangled Web (and the comments) set me thinking along these lines-

All the recent exposure of Al Qaeda has proved what clever and imaginative fellows they are- how meticulous and disciplined, and it brought to my mind some words of President Bush's recently, which you may remember:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we; they never stop thinking- about new ways to harm our country and our people- and neither do we." (report)

The thing is that now, in the light of the emergence of wacky yet articulate plans, I'm quite impressed with Bush's urgency. When you combine it with some of the fruits of Bush's own strategies- such as putting pressure on Musharraf while establishing a presence in Afghanistan- it seems quite a reassuring line.

To take it further, if you imagine a solid pause after the word 'thinking', and perhaps admit that Bush slipped past what should have been a pause because of his animation, you have a picture of a lively president up to speed on the fundamentals- and actually, add the pause rightly and you have a very effective bit of rhetoric. To get the right effect for a piece of speech I've sneakily introduced hyphenation to the passage.

I suggest we could usefully lose the BBC's condescending tone, and certainly the hysterically amused response of the paralysed by prejudice press.

The Curious Right

I happen to believe the response of the British Right- and I don't mean the flashy, presentable Right, like Heseltine, Clarke and heirs like Boris Johnson (don't take this as a cue, Boris, when you're searching for praise for your brilliant self on Google: I still have hopes for you)- has been right about their response to terrorism; especially after Sept. 11th.

That said, I do think that a lack of enterprise and curiosity in how to understand and fight this war has been a problem all over. It's not the fault of those who are committed, it's the fault of the carping detractors, in my view.

That's why I'm a fan of the American Thinker. They are bold and original, and don't give much of a monkeys about the detractors. Yesterday (an article I almost missed) they ran an analysis of an interview given by Osama bin Ladin to an ABC investigative journalist in 1998. Although I didn't think it was the last word, it had a directness and a freshness, and tried to get under Bin Ladin's skin; it got me thinkng and made me curious, and inspired me to write this analysis I've posted at 'Writing Hoarsely', my underused spin-off blog-for-longer-bits.

I'm not sure it's curious enough to have said anything not said before- it's an overview of things really- but it did me good, and made me hungry to understand more.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Worth Viewing Separately, I think (plus you get the comments too)

Roger Simon has a number of serious, principled and grave thoughts.

A Question (or two)

Do you need a super-duper international broadcaster updating its website every minute of every day, with hundreds of correspondents having depth and expertise in numerous conflicts, to report on events in Iraq? Or do you just need a guy watching Iraqi TV?

As for the Poles (whose demotion is currently the centrepiece of the linked BBC article)- I haven't heard reports of them fighting anybody (No offence intended. Bombed yes, fighting, no). Clearly you do not just want peacekeepers for Moqtada al Sadr.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Just a couple of things that I thought were good.

Iraq the Model is always worth listening to, but they're full of commonsense about Al-Sadr and illuminating in their discussion of the methods of arab strongmen in the region- it's interesting that they trace it back to Egypt's Nasser. They still keep getting trolls saying they are CIA agents or something, but no-one in the CIA ever talked this much sense!

Also good, and very funny, is this post from Dr Richard North at EU Referendum blog. Denis Macshane (aka some Polish name difficult to remember) has been saying something to the effect that Euro-sceptics have been watching too many war films. Not v. clever if you want to win a referendum sometime, but hey, carry on Europe Minister.

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