Saturday, June 04, 2005

Oh yes, and, while talking about media misrepresentation, the Newsweek story about toilet-flushing (the Koran) is interestingly exposed by the official report into such incidents, as noted by CNN .

Of course they presented it like a 'Bad News' story (especially on the TV version), yet in reality it exonerates the US of any serious misdemeanour, as Austin Bay says, and really turns the heat onto Newsweek. They got the story the wrong way round, completely. They ignored the real explanation- that an inmate flushed the Koran in the toilet himself- and went for the join the dots version that they were anticipating instead. (AB via Instapundit). Oh yes, and Michelle Malkin makes the issue very clear, too.

Numbers Count: that's what I said to a friend just as the 2nd Iraq war kicked off. I meant that our discussions about numbers of dead under Saddam, and those who would undoubtedly die in fighting during and subsequent to an invasion, were important in analysing the rightness of the cause. Of course not the only thing at all, but important.

So there is little wonder that various groups have tried to use numbers to disqualify the humanitarian aspect of the Iraq invasion and reconstruction from weighing in their precious scales of justice. We've endured the likes of Galloway picking up these figures and running with them- as per the intentions of the anti-war groups concerned (yes, I do mean The Lancet and various supranationals).It's abundantly clear that boosting the numbers of dead has been a prime objective for the terrorists in Iraq, too- though naturally they don't use respectable journals but rather bomb belts to achieve this boosting.

I do hope then that some people will listen to the figures published by the Iraqi Government, horrific though they are. After all, this is the Sovereign Iraqi Government we're talking about- men you can do business with.

12,000 is a lot of bodies, even over an 18 month period. But one thing I always notice about the media coverage of Iraq- we never get any retractions of numbers of dead cited in incidents. A little suggestive of a mindset, I feel, where 'worse' is the only story the reporters can understand. (Via Chrenkoff)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I was prompted to think about Iraq a bit more by this precise and incisive article from Amir Taheri

Taheri makes the telling point that 'The insurgents know how to kill, but no longer know who to kill. Nor do they seem to know why they are killing.'

Which is a bit of a problem for the anti-Bush leftist media, who can't help their allies in Iraq unless they know what they're trying to do with their spirited tactics.

Of course, were it not for MR Galloway I'd be warier about making such a direct association between the ostensibly law-abiding left and the totally lawless Islamofascists, but Galloway's made it all too clear we can't flatter them with that distinction anymore:

'the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries.'

I suppose it's only the logic of language to associate Galloway and friends with, er, Galloway and friends: all "militants" together. (and thus the whirligig of time brings in its revenges)

But the telling feature of Taheri's argument is that the very things which most antagonise us about the "insurgents", ie. the indiscriminacy, the bloodthirstiness, are resulting in the defeat of the political aims of those people.

It strikes me the same is true of the leftist media, whose grasping indiscriminately and vociferously at every opportunity to megaphone their opposition to GWB's progress is just bewildering rather than impressive. I read this hotchpotch round up of violence in Iraq today. What was (is) clear is that the BBC haven't a clue, beyond a few snippy, cut n'paste remarks, how to undermine US confidence or how to generate a defeatist narrative. That's in part a reflection of the utterly chaotic nature of the so-called insurgency- without reason, without rhyme- and partly a reflection of their (own) utter barrenness of real ideas.

So even if Galloway is right that his 'progressive' chums and himself are on the side of those who oppose US so-called occupation of Iraq, it means nothing practically apart from cameramen who will chase ambulances and news anchors who will raise eyebrows. Sickening and alienating, yes- and that's the point.

As can be seen from then amazing maturation of BBC theorising, they are all at sea- just like their 'progressive', sorry, er, 'militant' friends.

One final point about Taheri's article. Probably consciously he drops into it the idea that 'The insurgency may continue for many more months, if not years, in the area known as Jazirah (island), which accounts for about 10 per cent of the Iraqi territory, plus parts of Baghdad. It may continue killing large numbers of people but will not be able to stop the political process. Its history is one of a string of political failures.'

I'm willing to bet a fair bit that this term 'Jazirah' has a more familiar incarnation to us Westerners in 'Al Jazeera'- a fitting testimony to an alliance in failure.

And lo! I googled.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ideology and Fresh Air Thinking.

Remembering a time when, in the absence of anything much to do before Sunday lunch (spoilt kid that I was), I used to sit down with half an eye on a glass of sherry, half an eye on the Sunday newspaper, half an eye staring into space, and half an eye on some old bloke on the TV warbling on in measured yet somehow, strangely, breathless tones about politics, I was interested to see the Rottwieller Puppy lay into Brian Walden.

You could trace one line of my BBC-scepticism from that time, as it dawned dully on me that Brian was in fact a former Labour MP, yet was supposed to be some god of neutrality. It didn't add up, given that to be a Labour MP in the days when Walden had been one meant that you were waiting for the revolution, either patiently or impatiently.

So, I recommend you read Walden on the BBC commenting on the European dream (trying at present to replace the rather more balanced Alistair Cooke and his American Letter), and then read the Rottweiler Puppy's take (set aside some time for these readings). I guarantee by turns an illuminating and refeshing experience as the R.P. blows Walden inside out. If I had foreseen back then the 'Fisking' of Walden no doubt I'd have choked on my sherry and volunteered to peel the carrots.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

When you're taking hits like there's no missing, is it sensible to make the target bigger?

Maybe someone should ask that question of Jacques Chirac, whose sacking of sacrificial lamb, sorry, Prime Minister Raffarin, and replacement with De Vilepin, is surely an attempt to increase my merriment at his own expense.

Eursoc rounds up the rounds nicely, while speculating about Sarkozy, who either let Chriac know he didn't want the poisoned chalice, or actually managed to convince Chirac he would be doing him down by overlooking him for poisoned chalice service.

Monday, May 30, 2005

It's all very well for Paul Reynolds to get into the French-centred history of the EU, as though it were some intricate watch mechanism that the French, having constructed, have just dashed to the ground in a huff.

The truth is that it's a lot less delicate than that, a lot more chauvinistic than some airy-fairy vison of Monnet and Schumann, and it's post-modern in its imperviousness to the pleading or reasoning of its subjects.

EURef sums up well the narrative which is being presented by the likes of Reynolds:

'The morning after, it looks like the end of a Dick Tracy episode. The hero is bound and gagged, facing a certain, horribly violent death - and the credits start rolling.'

While Reynolds has seized on the drama, and builds up the sense of crisis, the Telegraph offers the realistic conclusion to the referendum affair:

'the Euro-elites will make some soothing noises about the need to address voters' concerns; then they will carry on as if nothing had happened. This is, after all, not the first time that they have had to deal with rejection in a national referendum.'

In other words, what Reynolds builds up is that satisfying sense that the Euro-elite has been wounded; that it is hurting. In fact, such is the imperviousness of our technocratic masters, they don't know what hurt is.

Reynolds suggests that 'the EU will stagger on under existing treaties.'- and this, like much of his article, might seem like a criticism, but in fact it tacitly endorses the project and the need for the Constitution.

As the Telegraph says:

'From the first, the EU's founding fathers understood that it needed to be immune to public opinion. The genius of Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman was to design a system in which supreme power was wielded by unelected officials, and in which the peoples were presented with a series of faits accomplis.'

So when the public say 'no', this is inconvenient, but you don't change direction, you merely show the effort that progress requires. You stagger, maybe you fall like some tragic Greek hero, but you don't change your mind.

They are not cool, they are not techies, but EU Referendum blog have easily the best response to the French No that I've found anywhere. Be vigilant, work hard, if you believe that the project still needs to be dismantled. Also, be imaginative, like Austin Bay: 'well, hello, French Duck...' . (via Instapundit)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Solana: every reason you ever needed to reject the EU.

I have to admit, first of all, that Javier Solana has always been, for me, the most impressive of Europe's politicians. This is quite subjective, but based on his charm and courtesy and genuine ease in speaking English- plus his robust role during the Kosovo crisis some years back (as I recall).

So I was in interested when I came across this article entitled 'The Case for Europe' at Real Clear Politics.

It begins with the usual bombast: 'The case for choosing Europe is as strong as ever', to which my response is, as ever, 'not good enough, Mr Barroso, Solana, Delors, Estaing or Prodi'. They are in the same mode now as they were in the eighties: headbanging EU skinheads that think if they just bellow the same slogans again and again it somehow enhances their authority. I have to say I expected better from Solana.

This inauspicious intro is followed by the trademark EU historical butchery when Solana (who I considered educated) says

'More than any other region, Europe experienced the horrors of the 20th century. It was no surprise that after 1945, an exhausted continent was ready to try a radical new idea - building a zone of peace through institutional integration and the voluntary pooling of sovereignty'

You notice for the umpteenpth time that 'Europe' means France and Germany, plus sundry others. You also notice that, in typical Eurocratic fashion, Solana has forgotten his own country's history, since Spain didn't join the European project, then entitled the EEC, until the 1980's. Can I respect a man who wilfully forgets (or deliberately overlooks, for rhetorical purposes) his own background?

Of course he doesn't even mention the division of Europe into Communist East and non-Communist West.

But of course getting history right is secondary for most people, which is why the Euros always play fast and loose with it. Still, people don't like it, and nor do I.

The second thrust to Solana's argument is that bigger is better.

The third thrust is that bigger is even better when speaking with one united voice.

The fourth point is to repeat the previous two points but while emphasising security threats rather than diplomatic opportunities as a reason for desiring a bigger, and more united, Europe.

Perhaps I should make an aside here, in the absence of any real substance to Solana's argument greater than the kind offered to men's libidos by The Sun's Page Three.

I have a number of friends from former communist countries, and among them one is a sociology academic, the kind of person who gets invited to various training courses and fora to learn about and discuss political development. He was invited to one such forum in the 1990's, run by EU-types. He told me that he left the seminar with his head spinning- he'd seen it all before, he told me; it was COMECON.

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