Friday, October 21, 2005

Just some great reading.

Mark Steyn has another insightful article in the Spectator, which rounds up my current interest in Russia and the Islamic threat there by addressing the timebomb that is Russian decline. Talking it over with someone, they argued that Russia was 'different', and one couldn't judge it the same way as other countries. Plus, he didn't trust demographic studies. 'Russian exceptionalism, eh?' I responded. 'I thought that wasn't allowed'. I also said that if there was an exceptional country in the region, it would be China, not Russia.

Anyhow, analysing another country which thinks itself different- France- David Pryce-Jones really caught my attention this time with his devastating history of Franco-Islamic closeness. I know he always does a great job, but this time I read a great chunk of it, and it was, well, great- so I'm sharing what was shared with me.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I'm a Foxie, probably always would have been had it not been for his percieved no-hoper status in the race to reach the position of top-Tory; but Melanie Phillips really made me smile. Said it all really:

'he has never quite shaken off the impression that he remains a junior doctor in rag week'

(and this gives me an opportunity to say that blogger, according to its deep mysteries, is posting my posts quite some hours after they are written, making some of them out of date when they are posted. Aaagrh!)

Doctor Fox has sadly been hounded out of the race. This is a disappointment for me, but not really a surprise. Davis lost votes to Fox, clearly, and probably lost more (especially among the unalligned) to Cameron. Will all the Fox votes go to Davis, and will Davis maintain his current base? Difficult to say. I think it could be tight but from the fact that people have little tangible against Cameron I expect that it won't be and that Cameron will canter home. Fox vs Cameron, as Mel says, would have been a different matter and one which I was hoping to see.

Then again, I would say that Little Lord Fauntleroy won't be as liberal as some people think. He's a public schoolboy- a little reminiscent of my brother-in-law, actually- and they can be good at appearing all soft when thy actually have a good deal of toughness within.

I commented recently on the BBC's avoidance of calling an Islamist an Islamist in Chechnya.

The reason seems to be the oft-observed piety that Islam had nothing to do with the Chechen conflict until recent years, and that (natch) this outgrowth is the consequence of the hard line taken by the Kremlin.

Oh well, yes, (or maybe NO!) but... is it really necessary to go to this extent:

'In his statement on the Kavkaz Center website, which was couched in Islamic terms, Shamil Basayev said that 217 "mujahideen" had attacked Nalchik, targeting police stations and military installations as well as the airport.'

Er, duh! When is a mujahideen not a mujahideen?

No, it's not when he's a mujahasbeen! It's when he's a "mujahideen".

What? Is there some special Islamist NVQ (National Vocation Qualification, in UKtopian terms) they should have to have the scare-quotes withdrawn? Or would we need it from the horse's mouth rather than his commander's, that he was indeed a fully paid up and equivalent to our worst Power of Nightmares fantasy a MU-JA-HI-DEEN.

And do we assume that the term 'infidel' (see later in the article) was reserved only for the media statement rather than forming part of the movement's terminology?

But most silly of all is the 'couched in Islamic terms' thing. How couched, I wonder? Just seated primly or totally sunk in? The point is, since the man responsible for Beslan is back in the news with the Nalchik raid, who can have any compunction in using the term Islamist save the most reality-cringing and distorting kind of journalist- found, it would seem, in limitless, overwhelming supply at the BBC.

The Washington Times managed to be direct and accurate, and with the Beslan massacre behind us, and the Chechens' own websites proclaiming their Islamism, why can't/won't the Beeb now bow to reality? What holds them back? The only satisfactory response would be a detailed analysis showing how the Chechens' websites and contents were fakes, or unrepresentative of the rebel forces- in fact in all likelihood propaganda spread by Russia to get the West to help them out. I look forward to hearing that argument from someone.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

ah, but did she have in mind me? Or you?

The quest for Karadzic: a true sense of comedy from the Beeb.

Naturally I'd like him caught- though not to spare the EU's blushes (if, that is, the EU ever blush about anything)- but the somehow pertinent observation of the BBC that the fugitive's poems 'describe mountains, thick green forests, rivers and wild animals.' , as though he were dropping some kind of locational clue here, is quite funny indeed.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Not exactly quiet on the Eastern Front

The War on Terror reminds me of the Cold War: the same sense of a hidden enemy, or at least an enemy whose schemes were difficult to fathom and geopolitically wideranging. Every time you heard about some conflict in a strange part of the world it gradually emerged that the commies had something to do with it. The tragedy for me is that the WoT is in some ways a continuation- different name (Islam), same relentless ideology pushing millions down hopeless paths of antagonism to countries that mean them no harm.

There are other points of similarity too. Just as in times past the various Soviet- inspired rebellions and coups were always styled some kind of popular revolt, so today no-one wants to call a spade a spade. Mark Steyn has an article on this very 'unnaming' menace. I think he should have added the BBC to his list rather than going after the better-than-average Scotsman.

While the bombs and bullets were just about subsiding in Nalchik, the BBC were busy trying to show 'the other side' of Islam in Russia.

The problem is that it's not news- it's anti-news-, as if the story of a white man minding his own business in East Anglia were a necessary antidote to a racist attack.

By contrast with the BBC's upfront reporting of Islam's moderate (and distinctly quiet) Russian muslim mainstream (and note how the main dynamic, that of radical Islamic agitation from the geographical fringe against the centralised Russian system is sidestepped here), their coverage of the Nalchik violence is determined to place Islam somewhere down the line in the roll call of rootcauses:

'Citizens of the Russian region of Kabardino-Balkaria have held a day of mourning in memory of the 36 killed in an attack by Chechen-backed militants.
Flags on government buildings were flown at half-mast, as police checked vehicles and the area returned to calm.

Twelve civilians and 24 members of the security forces died in the violence in Nalchik, with 91 attackers reported to have been killed and some 36 captured.

The rebels are thought to be a mix of local Islamic militants and extremists.

Their aim was to demand independence for Chechnya.'

I like the way they are described as 'a mix of local Islamic militants and extremists' . That way, we know they are local, not international, Islamists, and that the extremists appear to be something different ie. not Islamists (it is clear in context we are being invited to see a strand of nationalist extremism at work here).

In the end the BBC do allow some notion of Islamic extremism to enter, but they tether the loathsome beast firmly to the solid trunk of 'rootcauses':

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says a combination of poverty and iron rule have created a fertile soil for Islamic extremism in the region, exacerbated by an unemployment rate of up to 90%.

Going back to my starting point, isn't that exactly the sort of thing we heard during Cold War coups: mustn't blame the people, they're poor and oppressed.

Newsweek is significantly more effective than the Beeb in pointing out the salient news trends.

The problem is that denial means that we are unprepared for the next big shock. Much as I am enthusiastic about progress in Iraq, and rejoice in the exercise of freedom, it seems that the media is failing to give us the global perspective we require. It's interesting, for instance, that the EU and Blair have been sucking up to Putin, and giving him what he wants, but one wonders if that's missing the point with Russia in the parlous state it's in now, or likely to be in soon.

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