Friday, November 25, 2005

Iran: 'Iranian politics are as complex and sophisticated as any I have observed around the world.' Yeah, right, Mr Simpson.

"Republic of Ireland Prime Minister Bertie Ahern led tributes, describing Best as one of his "one of the best players the world has ever seen". "

Thus does the BBC describe the initial reactions to George Best's death. A question arose for me from this intrusion of politics into someone's passing away: given that Best was Northern Irish, and Protestant, and played his football mainly in England, what on earth has Bertie Aherne got to do with it? Does the world know that Ahern has less cause to be the 'leader' of tributes to George Best than dozens of British people who have been involved in Best's career (eg. Denis Law, Bobby Charlton- even Jack Charton if they wanted an Irish flavour)? It's very doubtful that the world knows that. It's rather more likely that they assume that Best, who played in the green used by Northern Ireland, would be a representative of the green of the Ireland they idealise and think they know.

I had a look on Google to see if Best had shown any sign of being psychologically allied to the country of which Aherne is the leader. I found nothing (scanning some nice articles) except reiteration of his Protestant origins- him frequently referred to as homesick for Belfast and him being a boy from Ulster, as well as being a saviour of British football in his numerous wanderings in Britain, but only once, very briefly, in Southern Ireland- and one reference - reported by the Beeb in terribly emphatic style given the political backdrop- to his desire for a world class all-Ireland team. He even spent time in one of HM's British prisons. As the sum total of my pro-nationalist findings it's hardly a ringing endorsement for his Eireishness. Indeed Best seems to have been determinedly quiet about politics. Why then use essentially a foreign politician -foreign to Best's nationality, foreign to his history- to lead the tributes; especially one with so little to say?

I've no doubt that Tony Blair himself, without justification, would defer to Bertie in this matter. His motive is appeasement of Irish Nationalist aspirations. It would seem this attitude is at best shared by the BBC.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

(Sorry for my absence. I had an intensely busy period thrown at me by life)

This had to be linked. First.

I was- I am - a big fan of Lord Black. Well, finally Mark Steyn has played a blinder for his old boss. I suppose because he can.

Wrong Again Mr Simpson

One of the few benefits from the Beeb's large number of journalists is where one produces a report that flatly contradicts another's 'expert' opinion and confirms one's own with fact rather than speculation.

That's how it was for me reading this report from Jordan, where King Abdullah makes absolutely clear who he blames for terrorism and why he thinks they did what they did to his country.

John Simpson couldn't have been more wrong in reading the Royal mind with his absurd thesis that 2 and a half years on from the invasion of Iraq its bitter fruits would be a vindication for Abdullah's pre-war doubts.

Actually Abdullah's just a little more up-to-date that Mr Simpson, calling ' for a relentless war on Muslim extremists in the wake of the suicide bombings in Amman earlier this month.'

He goes on to say that Jordan's modernisation and liberalisation was irreversible (which makes one see that he attributes the terrorism to Islamofascist cultural ludditism, contra Simpson). He mentioned the unfamiliar name of an familiar ideology, calling for "relentless war on all the Takfiri schools, which embrace extremism, backwardness, isolation and darkness and are fed on the ignorance and naivety of simple people."

Tell it as it is, King Abdullah- not as Simpson would like it to be.

Iran: dysfunctional Oligarchy or functioning Democracy.

An interesting question, perhaps.

As is the definition of a 'purge'. This 2002 BBC article about the British Conservatives included the subheading 'Extremism purge' when talking about the 'Monday Club' and Ian Duncan Smith (who they?).

Meanwhile, this article about Iranian President Ahmadinejad
talks of 'a series of purges of officials.' , while the theme of the article is that the President is facing stiff parliamentary opposition. The ideas that he is both all powerful, as the purges are indicating- take a look at this Guardian article- and that he faces a meaningful democratic opposition, are difficult to combine. Needless to say, the BBC take the line of least resistance by emphasising the parliamentary opposition rather than the purges.

It's interesting in the context of John Simpson's avowal that 'Iranian politics are as complex and sophisticated as any I have observed around the world.'

It's also interesting in the light of the numerous efforts the BBC have made to educate me about 'caviar fishermen', 'Iranian basketball', and other rich and strange features that apparently marry with the expectations of the Iranian authorities who let Beeb journalists reside in Iran.

The presumption of such journalism is that in my prejudiced ignorance I need to be informed about the human side of Iran. On the contrary, I suspect the Iranian polity of being only too human, with a political elite corrupt as well and undemocratic and inept. But then, I have no way of knowing.

I honestly don't think it's worth the BBC's being there if all they can do is operate as modified PR agents for the regime.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Timescale of Pessimism- set by the media

It could be that there are grim times ahead. I mentioned recently the high casualty rates in Iraq- well, they are not so high, but relative to months where perhaps 'only' 40 or so servicemen died, month on month averages of about 90 represents a problem.

Why so? Well, the damage was already being done by talk about quagmires when the casualty rates were significantly lower, when there were many pieces of the jigsaw still falling into place. Now, I notice, the bandagon has moved on: instead of Iraq as a country recovering from a war and dictatorship, more often we find merely a country at war- and this is standard on the right, so the left needn't bother anymore, but instead can play cynical politics, which is what they do best. Not that the casualty rates are so very high, but 'where we go from here' is always the stuff of politics- and increasing death rates never makes for popular politics.

This Weekly Standard article sums up the political situation which has arisen. My anger against the journalists who have cheerled this state of affairs will never abate- one more potential absurd echo of Vietnam, I suppose. In a very real sense these have given the terrorists targets to aim for- both in terms of the actual targets, and the numbers involved. One, two (troops) killed per day has been enough for the press to shriek hysterically and present the events as a failure of the Iraq policy. This has given a kind of breathing space to the terrorists, since they could maintain a low level of carnage and plan bigger things and sustainable increases of destruction in due course, safe in the knowledge that the political process was still heading in a favourable direction where it really counts- in the governments of the coalition, with America's preeminent.

Just to clarify why I think the political process is going badly- the two recent votes in the Senate, one about an exit strategy and one about an immediate withdrawal, tell the story. The exit timetable requested by the Senate is supposed to start in 2006. The terrorists must be delighted: just one more year to hold out before they can start to claim some serious victories, or at least have the US Senate seeing to their case in Washington. By contrast the motion- overwhelmingly rejected- concerning immediate pull-out, was merely a patriotic figleaf; hence even Mr Murtha voted against it.

Sorry to be pessimistic, but I have other reasons to worry as well.

Much as I am taken by the idea of the Anglosphere, I am less than convinced that the will exists to make it a real reality. This is a great post from Albion's Seedlings, making many good points- but it's just the outline of a nice idea. Aside from the technology of the internet and telecommunications making it possible, I don't see the momentum- with the exception perhaps of some of our great trans-Atlanticists, such the the Scotts (Ablution and Expat) and Marc of Neverdock (all great sites, all in my blog links for your delectation).

I fear that much more potent in the world, in capturing the imagination of some and the non-cooperation of others which we (the UK and the US- Australia's needs are different) need to have a positive response from, is this kind of thing. The Iranian strategist comments:

"We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization"

(hat-tip, Marc at Neverdock)

This is the country that is currently resisting attempts to thwart its nuclear ambitions, and being appeased.

In the battle between the anti-anglosphere and the anglosphere I think I know which one is more united in a common philosophy. Even Mugabe has tried to get in on the act.

The only bright side, I suppose, is the Iraqis themselves. The Beeb heralded a speech from Iraqi President Talabani indicating a willingness to talk to terrorists- yet this is not really a new thing, and what I love is where he says he will '"listen... even to criminals". I doubt that's quite what the Islamofascists are waiting to hear- God rot them.

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