Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sorry for lack of posts- but this might continue over the weekend as I have a nephew's christening and family engagements, plus many practical things to do.

Anyway, I am minded to compare the relatively trivial (important more for what it says about US conservatism than for its potential to change history) and the historic. In the latter case we see how the 'decadent' liberal West (and its desperate eastern neighbours) could develop a suicidal fifth column dedicated to enriching themselves by collaborating with one of the last century's monsters. In the former case we have a less-than-exciting moderately conservative career woman.

Can you guess which one has the BBC salivating at the moment? Yup, they're missing history, folks- and so, vicariously, do the Brits (and others) who lend them their interest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hell hath no fury, or Why's it taken so long? or the last laugh

It would be too poetic, too delicious, to find that George Galloway had been betrayed by the deliberate carelessness of his own wife in failing to cover Georgeous' paper trail to her own bank account in Jordan. It is interesting however to find George bleating 'I am not responsible for my wife'. Good point George. A real crowd pleaser.

But anyway, I hope, it would seem, the game's up for Georgeous this time around, whether the result of his estranged wife's leaving present or not. And really, given the bluster and the repeated links between George and the oil, and the unanswered questions about his relationship with one of Saddam's oil traders, about time too.

Well done to the Beeb for reporting this promptly. However, the fact that they only concentrate on the claims of perjury made in the US, and not on the money trail linking Saddam with George, is disgraceful. As a last huzzah they mention the virtually meaningless libel victory George won against the Telegraph in December. All I can say is that I hope George hasn't spent the money, as he might need to give it back.

Congrats too though to Sen. Coleman, who was a little bit blown away by the Glaswegian's bombast at the Senate Hearing in May. However, I hope (though I'm never sure of anything with regards to Galloway) that we can laugh a little now at Galloway's expense. And he who laughs last tends to be able to decide the terms. Much like George's wife.

Monday, October 24, 2005

(cross-posted at B-BBC)

Was Granddad in Iraq on his own?

Well, the though crossed my mind when I read John Simpson's apologia for Saddam, in which he maintained that the British in Iraq during the 1920's and the reign of Saddam were comparable.

To quote Simpson:

'Saddam Hussein's notion of governing a restless, difficult country like Iraq was that it could only be done with ferocity.

In that he was no different from the presidents and kings before him; no different either from the British, who had the mandate from the League of Nations to run Iraq after 1920, and who used some ferocious tactics to try to protect their rule.'

There are a number of sleights of hand in this article, but I want to concentrate on a matter of fact. Simpson avers of the British that

'They took over, full of the conviction that as the most powerful military nation on earth, with the best political system in human history, the Iraqis would be delighted to be ruled by them.

Within six months the British were negotiating a way out, and after twelve years (imperial powers hate to seem to be cutting and running) they gave up the mandate and left.'

Of course there is the obvious attempt to humorously parallel the US notion of not cutting and running from Iraq, but notice that Simpson said 'they left' (in 1932).

Because I happened to know that the British did not in fact leave in 1932. They gave up the Mandate offered them by the League of Nations then. In fact throughout the 30's they maintained a military presence, and my Grandfather was part of it, being a navigator in the RAF. I have photos of 1930's Mosul that I'm longing to get online and will one day.

So Simpson is simply wrong to say the British left. In fact, as was their wont, they signed a treaty:

'It provided for the establishment of a "close alliance" between Britain and Iraq with "full and frank consultation between them in all matters of foreign policy which may affect their common interests." Iraq would maintain internal order and defend itself against foreign aggression, supported by Britain. Any dispute between Iraq and a third state involving the risk of war was to be discussed with Britain in the hope of a settlement in accordance with the Covenant of the League of Nations. In the event of an imminent threat of war, the two parties would take a common defense position. Iraq recognized that the maintenance and protection of essential British communications was in the interest of both parties. Air-base sites for British troops were therefore granted near Basra and west of the Euphrates (where my Grandfather was), but these forces "shall not constitute in any manner an occupation, and will in no way prejudice the sovereign rights of Iraq." This treaty, valid for 25 years, was to come into effect after Iraq joined the League of Nations. On Oct. 3, 1932, Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations as an independent state.'

As for the British being as bad as Saddam, I don't see the Iraqi government offering Saddam's henchmen any airbases just now, do you?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

(nb. The following post was originally destined for B-BBC. For some reason it failed to post. Then I thought it might have been too long anyway for the B-BBC blog, and it reiterated anyway feelings I had made clear there in posts like this one. Rather than waste the efforts I'd spent though, I thought I'd paste it here.)

The BBC's appalling anti-Americanism

No, I am not about to give some startling example of BBC ignorance or callous misrepresentation of the US- holding as I do no brief whatsoever for going into bat for the US of A- as though we need it spelled out in lurid language just how anti-American the BBC is.

But, I just can't get over the BBC's coverage of the Pakistan earthquake, and how they have neglected quite wilfully to report the US' response to it.

I noticed today the BBC reporting that one of three British chinook helicopters destined for Pakistan had left the UK, on board a transport plane. I'd have thought there might have been a case for saying this is a little bit late in the day and that the BBC might have been justified in saying it- but that, I think, would be to misconceive the BBC's political role. Its considerations include not offending one of its paymasters, the Foreign Office. They also include winning the favour of millions of totally biased muslims and others by acting as a sceptical (not to say completely jaundiced) eye on the US. In this case it was a blind eye.

Because just look at what the US has been doing. The US has devoted no fewer than 17 helicopters, with 20 more en route to the region. Furthermore,

'Television news broadcasts have been filled in recent days with images of U.S. Navy cargo ships offloading relief supplies in Karachi, olive-drab Chinook helicopters disgorging bundles of tents and blankets in isolated mountain villages, and American soldiers -- some diverted from military operations in Afghanistan -- working with their Pakistani counterparts to evacuate the injured.'

nb.- those would be domestic Pakistani news broadcasts. I'm not sure what other channels have reported, but I think the BBC (at least through its website) has been bending over backwards to avoid it (even in its overview of the disaster- where we hear from the oh-so-important Mr Egeland of the United Nations and of the role of Pakistani military helicopters. Please feel free to join me in an in depth search of the BBC site to see if the US efforts have warranted a serious mention; and of course report any good- which is to say, corrective- TV or radio broadcasting. I don't think we need to bother ourselves with the highminded idea that the BBC is concerned just to report the needs and the human stories out in the Kashmir instead of naming political names. After all not only did the egregious Egeland get a starring role- who is this unelected turnip anyway?- the UN got its own article, where we heard about the poor old thing's 'worst nightmare'.)

Why is this important?

Well, with the BBC regularly playing up the world's (and especially muslim) hostility to the global superpower, now comes a time when the US has a chance of refuting its unfairest critics and the BBC sits on its hands and bleats about the UN while other media can report testimonies like this:

'Obviously, this is the other side of the United States," said Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Shujabadi, a prominent religious scholar in the port city of Karachi. "For the first time in so many years I have seen the American planes dropping relief and not bombs on the Muslim population."

In fairness to Mr Shujabadi its possible he could have sought out the the BBC for his international news during the tsunami last year, which might help explain his ignorance of US aid efforts to muslims. Of course as the WaPo says 'It is too early to say whether the aid operation will have any lasting effect on public attitudes'(in Pakistan), but that doesn't mean we can ignore a global media empire which shows its ill-will by studiously ignoring concrete and positive images of the US when at their most newsworthy. The BBC, having been heavily criticised for allowing political considerations to dominate its handling of the Kelly affair in 2003 (and this was a unique application of the magnifying glass to BBC business as it usually unfolds), is still playing politics. It doesn't understand its responsibilities.

As Laban Tall's post at B-BBC indicates, muslim attitudes to us infidels can cost lives. Is it too much to ask the BBC to forget the political agendarising, to ignore their hatred of George Bush and to damn well do the job they're paid to do by reporting the major events and contributions, by telling us what is happening when it is happening rather than playing for their Islamic viewing figures and the approval of FO mandarins (or any other of their priority audiences)?

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