I have to confess I have been surprised by the rapid success of the Ethiopian army in routing the Islamic Courts movement and installing the Somalian transitional government- which was assembled long ago through negotiation in Nairobi. This process had seemed a lame duck, but the Ethiopians, and the Somali Govt. in waiting, it would seem, had a plan.
Not as surprised as some though, apparently. This comprehensive report from Pajamas Media describes how " an American military intelligence officer told Pajamas Media that the ICU “will overrun Baidoa,” where the transitional government has been headquartered, and that the only question was when Baidoa would fall. "
So much for the Americans being the secret mover behind Ethiopian action. Or maybe looking silly is part of their cunning secret scheme.
Anyway, it's obviously not all over, but things look promising, as the report points out as it lists the reasons for the success to date.
Although the !United Nations! warns that “the ICU is fully capable of turning Somalia into what is currently an Iraq-type scenario, replete with roadside and suicide bombers, assassinations and other forms of terrorist and insurgent-type activities” , it seems unlikely in the light of recent events that the Ethiopians and the Somali transitional Government will be soft enough to let them.
Hopefully we can watch and learn the lesson. Stand up, stay strong, and watch them run.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
David Vance brings the latest on Somalia (heh heh):
"Once again we see that the mighty forces of militant Islam are little more than girly-men when it comes to real fighting. Sure, they know how to decapitate a defenceless woman, or cut the throat of a helpless Air Stewardess, or detonate themselves at a Wedding Party - but when it comes to standing toe to toe with an opponent, they scarper. What cowards they are. "
Happy New Year, Jihadis!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
"Yesterday Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the ICU leader most closely identified with al Qaeda and bin Laden, said Somalia was now at war with Ethiopia and that “All Somalis should now take part is [sic] this struggle against Ethiopia.” The statement came the day after an EU envoy happily proclaimed that both sides had agreed to negotiate an end to the hostilities and that peace was at hand. Someone must be living in an alternate universe where pledges made by radicals with a history of duplicity are viewed binding."
Ah, the EU- ever the partner for (ap)peace(ment).
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
This is brilliant. Scrappleface has the 'translation' of the latest Ayman Al Zawahiri tape. I hope it really gets up his nose. Kind of a Christmas message. (via LGF)
which goes rather well placed alongside Ammedinejad's latest pronouncements. WWJD?
Monday, December 18, 2006
Making the best of my new format, comes the pleasurable task of replenishing it with links. There were a great many blogs which I have grown to know and like which were not included in my previous format. It's now easier to load them onto my blog, so expect quite a flurry of them.
One of those going in shortly will be Hugh Hewitt's blog. Always interesting, occasionally inspirational.
Today Hugh has a big spread up about Somalia and Ethiopia. This region of Africa has been of special interest to me for a long time; I lived in Kenya for half a year and met a number of Somalians and Ethiopians while there. My interest, or, perhaps more accurately, deep affection, has never left. Now, it looks as though a conflict is brewing. Rather, it looks like the Islamists are going to pick their fight.
I have just a few thoughts about this myself. One is that if Somalia and Ethiopia fight, Eritrea will treat it as a proxy war, a continuation of their long enmity with their western neighbours. Another is that Sudan will use the cover of another regional conflict to make yet more inroads into their western neighbour, Chad. A third is that Somalia will receive support from the Arabian peninsular. Is there a pattern emerging here? An expansionism from East to West? Yes, there is, or there will be.
The war that Sheik Aweys- the long-time Al-Qaeda associate and veteran of Somali tribal warfare who is now at the heart of the Islamic Courts movement- is trumpeting for is a war that has been going on through the ages, where the Christian "lion of Africa", Ethiopia, stood stubbornly in the way of the spread of Islam.
Nowadays, though, Ethiopia is getting on for 50 percent Muslim. It doesn't take a genius to see what the Islamists have in mind. Toppling Christian-oriented Ethiopia would represent one of those great historic goals of the neo-Caliphist agenda.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The Big Brave Beeb
Nick Robinson attracts a fine flock of sycophants following his question to Bush suggesting that he was "in denial" over Iraq: "Well done Nick! I admire your guts" etc
Obviously I'm too detached from the journalistic world to realise how 'brave' a question this was.
It is true that Bush floundered but, far from being floored by the originality of the question, perhaps it was simply his incredulity at being asked the same question in different forms again, and again, and again?
All this talk about detailed plans for Iraq and all the Beeb can manage is "are you quite sane, Mr Bush?"
Richard Sambrook, it seems, found this an electric moment.
What I find is, first, that Bush's view of Iraq is still limited in its detailed feel for how to proceed, but that, secondly and most importantly, the media has absolutely no desire to point out where the confusions may lie and what their solutions might be. The BBC and fellow-travellers have no interest even in minimising US loss of life through highlighting what the sources of disorder in Iraq might be- militias, Al Sadrs, Iran and Syria- in all their gruesome detail, and how they might be dealt with. Instead, they want a humiliated president and a USA with as bloody a bloody nose as possible.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
So, I logged in to Blogger and...
They asked me if I wanted to upgrade to BetaBlogger. Being a little bored I thought, "why not?", and before I knew it sweeping changes had unfolded. I apologise to commenters as Haloscan seems to have been swept away in the general tsunami of change. I will see what can be done about that. But not now. Now, as was the Almighty on the seventh day, or as one might have thought he was, I am tired. So I shall rest.
In the meantime, take a look at this terrific Hotair video from Robert Spencer on Blair's slinking retreat from multicultiism. Stirring stuff for a Brit, I'd say, and a rare degree of insight from across the Atlantic. But then that Robert Spencer is quite a remarkable man all round.
"we may hope that [Britain] will re-emerge not just as Blair's geographical location for anything at all and nothing in particular" indeed.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Apologies for my absence.
I've been making a lot of arrangements for a project I have at the moment.
Meantime, Melanie Phillips is spot on in her analysis of the ISG report and aftermath:
"Bush is now surrounded by vultures sharpening their murderous claws. Does he have the inner resources to rise above them? To do so, he would have to not merely acknowledge the strategic errors he has made but transform the way he has run his office. This is a President who, until now, has operated through consensus. He has required his administration to present him not with a series of alternative options but with a settled view to which they all agree. This has been nothing short of disastrous, since his administration has been constantly at war within itself, with the State Department, Defence, the CIA, the generals in the field and sub-groups within those groups and others all fighting each other. Bush’s failure to choose between these warring perspectives and instead to operate on the basis of a ‘consensus’ which amounts merely to the lowest common denominator is in itself a major cause of the difficulties in Iraq."
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Hot Air today confronts the Jamil Hussein saga mentioned in one of the Sunday posts below. Mrs Malkin's in storming form and reminds me so much of my idealised notion of a female gym teacher. Come on people- especially you, MSM, at the back-, keep up!
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Setting his self interest to one side for a moment, I have to say that James Murdoch is spot-on.
"From the very start UK broadcasting regulation was skewed," Murdoch said.
"Not to protect people against real harm, but to ensure that broadcasting was a sort of moral and educative crusade.
"There is a tougher but truer description for this approach. It was and is authoritarian."
crooked materials ii
One reason why the MSM is so jittery about the blogosphere is that they themselves are so politicised.
I read with great interest the response of Associated Press editor Kathleen Carroll to recent accusations concerning her company's use of a supposed Iraqi "Captain Jamil Hussein" as a source for lurid stories of violence in Iraq- a man of whom the Iraqi Government say they have no record, and whose stories they have disputed:
"Good reporting relies on more than government-approved sources.", she said.
Yet the very point of quoting the source's supposed status is to demonstrate the authority of the report.
Two justifications spring to mind:
Stories can be fake but true, if you know what I mean.
The authority lie is a creative ruse to make the truth emerge without risking life and limb.
Blogfather Glenn Reynolds endorsed the theory that Jamil Hussein might be a former Baathist police officer who had never returned to work officially.
Certainly indications are that his stories are not corroborated by other sources.
In the dance for political position- unable and unwilling to trust the authorities, unwilling to ask them real questions (mainly because real questions might involve an assumption that their job is worthwhile), needing to keep them keen by showing independence, maintaining professional pride by enforcing relativism, showing solidarity with imagined grassroots in Iraq, perhaps even staying safe, one thing seems to be forgotten: facts.
Without facts any discourse will tend to become shrill, and if the bloggers get frequently crooked materials they will tend to be a bit angry, and they should be- never mind the lying two-faced mentally enfeebled pols!
Jules Crittenden wrote a good article about the AP. Flopping Aces broke the story about the stories.
Just recently there has been a bit of a blitz against blogs. Among others, Matthew Taylor, that Right On policy geek from Tony Blair's Government, has been having his say, characterising as "hostile" and "shrill" internet "discourse".
Meanwhile the Press Complaints Commission, in association with Alistair Campbell, has been calling for a voluntary "blogger's code" to mirror one applying to journalists.
Is it a coincidence that this comes as opposition to Tony Blair's Government, and invigorated Right or libertarian thought, seems to have amassed with quite some rapidity on the net? Or that the web is increasingly festooned with video reportage, some of which with the flavour of party political broadcasts?
The pace of progress makes it look as though the internet may be a factor in the next general election. Why isn't Labour mobilising on the internet?
Well, it is, but real Labour on the internet just takes the form of the hip and happening BBC. Quietly, and not so quietly, the BBC has been laying the foundations for future internet dominance. Quietly, as in the case of Richard Sambrook, less quietly in the case of the BBC editors' blog.
However, when Richard Sambrook is taking the lead you know that the BBC is serious.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
On, and on, Hating Bush
Either they're mad or I am.
This last week wheresoever I've surfed, I've been confronted with Bush hatred. Now we have "the realists" on the Right taking free pot shots at Bush, which is actually more stomach churning than the Left doing so (which is saying something, as I'll demonstrate). The realists hail from the Bush I era, and now that one of their own is replacing Rumsfeld at Defence, they are of course (of course?) kicking up hell by calling Bush the "Worst President EEEver". They've obviously felt outflanked by the Left on this point, and are seeking to make up lost ground.
Anyway, exhibit A: this piece of drivel from yet another great-man-I've-never-heard-of called Jeffrey Hart.
Hart is, believe it or not, a senior editor of NRO, where he seems to offer expertise in tacky Christmas poetry and snobby insights into higher education , making him ideally placed to comment on matters of global moment.
He concludes his screed:
"Supply-side ideology led to large tax cuts and mountainous deficits. Privatization ideology led to an incomprehensible and unnecessarily expensive prescription-drug plan. No previous administration has produced such an outpouring. Is Bush a conservative? Of course not. When all the evidence is in, I think historians will agree with Princeton’s Sean Wilentz, who wrote a carefully argued article judging Bush to have been the worst president in American history. The problem is that he is generally called a conservative, perhaps because he obviously is not a liberal. It may be that Bush, in the magnitude of his failure, defies conventional categories. But the word “conservative” deserves to be rescued. Against the misconception that Bush is a conservative, and appealing to Burke, all of our analytical energies must be brought to bear. I hope I have made a beginning here"
Now, as a child of Thatcher (metaphorically, and concerning my earliest memories of British national life), I would have to say that privatisation and tax cuts are precisely elements that have defined conservatism for me. They may not always be managed well, but they are inherently good because they bring the responsibility and thus the power closer and closer to where they belong- with the individual.
Our Jeffrey seems to disagree.
Also certain to disagree with that, another and more familiar brand of Bush hater- the deranged aging "entertainment" lefty. Tony Hendra was nearly a Monty Python, and it shows. The brahmins of British comedy haven't an ounce of common sense to recommend them. It's been one of those dirty little shibboleths of British society that you have to "love" the Pythons. Personally I find them mildly amusing in a juvenile sort of way. But anyway, take a look at how that generation has matured:
"I give thanks O Lord that we're getting to kick The Lame Duck when he's down. Thank you too Lord for making impeachment unfeasible so's we get to kick him and kick him and kick him, have him to kick around for two more long years, kick him so bad his stupid quacking beak comes out his own greasy-feathered DA."
Unfortunately Hendra is not jester. Just a fool.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
As the BBC heralds the restoration of ties between Iraq and Syria, Christopher Hitchens discusses the reemergence of foreign policy realism in the US.
Quietly ensconcing themselves in the seats of power, meanwhile, are the Democrats.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Apologies for the sparse posting of late. I've been doing rather a lot of thinking instead, as well as being busy in the real world. Then I put together a couple of posts and they got mangled through the blogger composition box. Excuses, excuses.
Anyway, Mark Steyn once again rather eerily illuminates a corner of my thinking. I'm of the relatively simple opinion that we wouldn't be in the slough of despond over Iraq- partly a consequence of being faced with a party in the US hostile to the US-led action there- if we had been tougher with people such as Muqtada al Sadr.
"Meanwhile, from the War Party's point of view, the Bush Doctrine is beginning to accumulate way too many opt-outs. For example, a couple of weeks back, U.S. forces in Baghdad captured a death squad commander of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army only to be forced to release him on the orders of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. When I had the honor of discussing the war with the president recently, he was at pains to emphasize that Iraq was "sovereign." That may be. But, at a time when a gazillion free-lance militias are running around the joint ignoring the sovereign government, it seems a mite pedantic to insist that the sole militia in the country that has to obey every last memo from Prime Minister Maliki is the U.S. armed forces. Muqtada al-Sadr is an emblem not of democracy's flowering but of the arid soil in which it's expected to grow. America would have been better off capturing and executing him two years ago."
There is a simple lack of balance in the US/UK approach there, one which the UK bears a lot of responsibility for. Having deposed the Sunnis chief hero in Iraq, Saddam, and having killed his successors, what we needed was to prove that we would not tolerate extremism from any quarter, where extremism means intimidation and despotism. That would have meant at a minimum taking out Al-Sadr, but probably also quite a number of his henchmen and sundry other Shia mini-demagogues.
Sad to say it, but the British softly-softly approach emanating from Basra has emboldened anti-democratic forces, and enshrined radical political influence at the political heights of government.
I remember that one of the most balanced voices in the early part of the Iraq invasion, Zeyad, the Sunni invasion sympathiser, recommended that Al-Sadr be dealt with. Fair's fair- he should have been.
Zeyad's latest post links to this in depth account of how tyrannical elements of the Shia have come to dominate, accounting for the violence quite absurdly characterised by the BBC journalist Hugh Sykes here.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I blinked. I rubbed my eyes.
I was looking at a BBC report which showed the level of unemployment in the UK rising to 1.7 million. Rather high, I thought, since I remember when it was tipping 1 million not so long ago. And then I looked at the percentages nationwide. The rate for London was HIGHER than for any other part of the UK, at 8 percent. I've never seen that before; the only explanation I can think of is something immigration related. If so, then it shows just how radical are the changes in demographics in the UK since already very high levels of immigration were combined with the EU open doors policy. Come to think of it, I was talking to a Czech guy tonight: professional, settled, yet considering getting a job in the UK... just because.
I don't know if this figure of 8% in London does relate to a jobs market flooded by (im)migrants, but it could. I'd like to know.
nb. I should point to this from the BBC as exhibit A:
"However, the rise in the UK population led to the number of people actually in work increasing by 56,000 over the quarter to 28.9 million."
Also, I noticed a classic tell-tale sign of a Government on the run. Says the Gvt. spokesman:
"The Bank of England should take care not to undermine the government's strong record on job creation."
Friday, November 10, 2006
Helen Szamuely has a great post reacting to the US election result at EURef here.
I had a phone message today from a liberal friend asking innocently what I thought of the US election result. I said very simply in eight words -with a :-)- that I thought the Republicans got what they deserved- believing as I do in the democratic process and that Republicans have failed to show the necessary leadership.
On the other hand, I don't for a minute trust the Democrats. Why? Because there is a reason why the Republicans behaved so badly, and that is to compensate themselves for having to face daily a Democrat party that always knows better but is never good enough in a reasonable discourse to suggest in what way that might be (we know they want to quit Iraq but still can't say so publicly except by insinuation), which posits spurious friends and talks down actual enemies. It's that deliberate lack of seriousness that has undermined the whole integrity of US politics. It's been one long fillibuster, and its effectiveness in lulling the Right has been taken as evidence of political know-how. In the sense that the political vacuum has made idle hands of Republicans, the Devil has made use of them. And the judgement is just.
Posted by ed thomas at 10:23 PM
Thursday, November 09, 2006
In the wake of the US election (yes, I do mean wake), we are moved to ask the big questions, such as "Can Borat Save Western Civilization?"
Well, no. But still.
And actually (a few minutes post posting here), according to the BBC Borat "has a series of real life encounters with unsuspecting Americans in which he makes the most outrageous, sexist, racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic comments."
So maybe. (of course, the best joke, in the best tradition of jokes, at least concerning the anti-Semitic part, is that the comedian is Jewish- I think Aunty meant to say anti-Jewish. Bless.)
Posted by ed thomas at 5:38 AM
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Steering the Scylla and Charibdis
Orson Scott Card has a brilliant essay at The Ornery American; some of the best, simplest explanations of why, in accordance with my views as it happens, G W Bush stands out as a wise and just leader for the times we live in.
Here online there is a vast amount of information available about US politics; it's all up front and out there. I was quite taken with the Ornery statements of values. A country whose interpretation of the ordinary is as a stand alone free thinker is quite mesmerising.
Scott-Card was the co-author of a fine novel I read when a young teen: the Abyss, which was, unusually, a fine novel based on a film (though the film was unreleased at the time of publishing). It was quite gritty and real from my point of view then, and unusual too in its concern for characterisation in a Sci Fi genre. He seemed to have a certain integrity; he still does.
I love the way he defends the "War on Terror" terminology used by Bush:
"it is precisely those people -- the common people of the Muslim world, most of whom hate us (or claim to hate us, when asked by pollsters in police states) -- whom we must treat as if they were not our enemies."
He applauds the deliberate vagueness of the term.
I personally think a "War on Islamofascism" would be as good, if not better, but then that is one of the formulations Bush himself has recently used.
I also love his analysis of the Bush strategy for the Middle East. This idea of confronting your enemies at a time and place of your choosing. Of carefully selecting which ones to pick off and which to play against each other. He points out that the right decisions have already been made. It is a bold essay, whose botom line is terrifyingly simple:
"It's an astonishingly twisted game -- and as long as we don't do anything really, really stupid, like withdrawing from Iraq, all these various treacheries will inevitably lead to the fall of the tyrants in Iran, and therefore in Syria, and therefore the taming of Hezbollah in Lebanon."
Wow. Like standing on the dotted line in a motorway full of careering traffic.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:58 PM
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Speaking of funny...
We don't need any film comedies when we've got John Kerry. I believe in the adage that "it's funny because it's true". When I laugh at John Kerry, it's not because he says what's true, but because he's truly as stupid as he seems. Hilarious; and even though it's deadly serious, I had to laugh on reading Victor Davis Hanson's list of problems with the Boston Brahmin.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:44 PM
Beeb Leads Sense of Humour Rebellion
Someone on some blog mentioned Borat- you know, cultural learnings from the USA- and I couldn't resist Googling to find out what the reviewers were saying.
The first review I came across was the BBC's, and a more facile, humourless take-down of a comedy film would be hard to imagine. The so called writer tries to imitate the Borat style, and indicates by his feeble effort the reverse of his criticism that Borat's comedy is cheap: "not hard joke to do, as we proves"- not.
Then I went, as is my wont, to the Rotten Tomatoes website, and found that Borat got a 91% rating from the rest of the reviews. That's some very fresh tomatoes. The consensus was "offensive in the funniest possible way".
I also noted the company the BBC were keeping. There was the classic comment that "It's a sad state of our own nation that people still find sexist and racist humour so amusing" review here
It's adorable, isn't it? Society just hasn't evolved enough, we still laugh at basic things like the human condition. Not the BBC though.
This morning, by the way, I was talking to an artist. Yes, it happens. In the course of her conversation she was telling me about her art. Photographs, taken in specific locations, superimposed one upon the other to create an otherworldy take on our own world. It would be easy to make a mess, but her compositions were beautiful because so cleverly balanced and ordered to destabilise and harmonise simultaneously. It looked easy but it certainly wasn't.
BTW, reviews of the BBC review granted our brave BBC boy a whole 13% rating, with choice comments including "that review sounded like it was written by a ten year old."
Posted by ed thomas at 3:12 PM
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Colonial rights and wrongs.
EURef recently reported on the latest in the attempts of Rwanda to come to terms with the genocide which took place over a decade ago, by blaming France.
Well, that could be all it is, but this report indicates some telling actions on the part of French troops, including how "French forces lured Tutsis from hideouts in the hills to village centers where they were killed."
That detail comes right at the end of the article, and one senses that, where the media have covered the latest allegations, scepticism has been built in to the reporting. The BBC's article, for example, takes a long time before moving to specifics.
What is not in doubt is that France trained the Hutu military which was active in the slaughter, up to the time of the slaughter (after it there was no need).
Beyond that, the problem is that there are strong political motives to blame France, exemplified here, and there is a history of false claims against (fmr) colonial powers such as this one where the Brits were accused of mass rape of Kenyan women.
The unequal battle and sometime absurdity of African claims against (fmr) colonial powers is comically evident in the understated BBC presentation:
"A forensic examination of police records in Kenya has concluded that all known reports of alleged rape by British army soldiers are forgeries.
This is a major development in the rape cases"
Er, what rape cases?
Still, despite this there is a moral responsibility I would like to highlight, and by that standard the French are well and truly guilty. The moral standards in Africa may be terribly schizophrenic, but if a sane person, for the sake of retaining and enhancing their status in society, facilitated and encouraged a temporarily insane and generally unstable person's desire to kill people, wouldn't they actually be morally guiltier than the mental person?
It may sound like a thin argument, but in the absence of reliable evidence there is much sense in saying that France was responsible for the genocide, an event of remarkable superfluity in Africa's grim trajectory.
The great film Hotel Rwanda begins with a radio broadcast indicating President Clinton's preoccupation with Bosnia, and later another broadcast describes the refusal of the State department to define events as "genocide"- a definition upon which intervention was contingent.
But the part which struck me most was the part where hero of the story, Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, calls his Sabena company boss in Belgium as a last throw of the dice when facing Hutu troops bent on emptying his hotel of its Tutsi refugees. The exchange went thus:
Sabena boss: "Who can I call to stop this?"
Rusesabagina: "The French, they supply the Hutu army".
Sabena boss: "I'll call you right back"
The Sabena boss (the film explains) contacts the French President's office. The hotel was spared. QED.
Heavy handed film maker's moralising for the audience, or a summary of action that took place?
The film is accurate and precise about British and US actions at the time, as well as UN and Belgian actions. I wouldn't bet against it over the French involvement. I never bought the army rape allegations from Kenya, though. Some things chime with their contexts, and the French involvemnt in Rwandan genocide is one of them. When you look at their behaviour in the Ivory Coast, a pattern of callousness seems to emerge quite alien from the British amnesia which tends to be our predominant vice.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Well, what d'you know? Sudan's about to annex Chad.
Despite media moral equivalence between Sudanese rebels and Sudan's military/militias, and despite moral equivalence between Sudan and Chad
- countries of wildly differing military strength- it was always blatantly obvious who the regional power was, and how aggressive (scroll half way down) were its intents.
We will live to regret not being tougher on Sudan. In the modern context occupation of territory is key (think how difficult it is for the US in Iraq when they occupy only dots on a map, or Israel when they try to take out Hezbullah), and the Islamists are getting plenty of that all across North and East Africa.
It's funny but I'm getting this pain in my back right where my White Man's Burden used to be.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
By the way, I wonder if any helpful reader would care to provide a working definition of "unsustainable."- Mark Steyn on the 300th million American
"what if the history books of the future are written in Arabic or Farsi? 2000 years ago they were in Latin"- a commenter on Mark Steyn's doomsday scenario for Europe and elsewhere, reviewed here.
"You start assembling a list of names...you deepen the roots...it radiates out... eventually you try to reach as much of the universe as you can"- Lawrence Wright describing his authorship of The Looming Tower, the story of Al Qaeda's rise to lethality. Pajamas interview here (audio). New Yorker interview (text) here.
ps. for those concerned, I haven't given up pointing out BBC bias; they're pointing it out themselves right enough. Just recharging the batteries on that front.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:48 PM
Friday, October 20, 2006
I watched the whole of the video available of Paul Belien's interview with Pamela of Atlas Shrugs, and the cumulative effect was quite terrible. Belien is the founder of the website The Brussels Journal, and a man who feels acutely the times he lives in.
As often a statistic he mentioned stood out and rammed the message home. When talking about muslim violence in Paris he said that it should be a matter for the French army. Then he stated that the French army is already 15% muslim, so that would be problematic.
If true, that's a shocking statistic which calls into question all the cosy last resorts scenarios with which people put off making hard decisions about immigration and multiculturalism. If not true, it's a lot closer to being "fake but true" than the majority of faux stories in the MSM. Facts are the most precious commodity in the modern world, but I'd rather this weren't one of them.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:19 AM
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The funny thing about this awful logo is the fact that when the accents are reproduced as they are in French and German- with the acute accent and the umlaud- they produce a strangulated sound something like "tuurgethair". In other words it's Frenglisch.
Btw, Richard North has been producing some cracking stuff recently; like this one for instance. Reality can be a bit hard, but like a sharp breeze on a cold morning the lungs can really fill with it. If I hadn't forotten username and password by now I would be commenting :-).
Look too at Michelle Malkin's view of EU ambitions to regulate moving pictures on the internet. I'm not surprised about that, given that progress could just be a little too fast for certain sluggish continental cousins.
Posted by ed thomas at 7:58 PM
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Rushdie on the veil:
"I think the battle against the veil has been a long and continuing battle against the limitation of women"
Report here (via Oliver Kamm)
It is, of course, more than that, but it certainly is that.
On this last point, just came across Adloyada's post on the subject. She basically opposes the opponents of the veil. The point she misses while she is comparing the veil to all manner of cultural artefacts accepted in the UK already, is the orchestration point I think is most important to what I said below. Islam uses such tools of conformity to enforce the differentiation of themselves and unbelievers. Steyn pointed out today that some non-muslim women adopt the veil when entering especially Muslim areas of Paris just to avoid abuse. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about, though the most important conformity they are trying to instill is internal, so as to present a powerful and united front. Think of it as a perpetual mass demonstration against western values and you'll be close to what they have in mind.
Posted by ed thomas at 7:18 PM
Sunday, October 08, 2006
A while back, while I was shifting locations, I stayed for a period with a German girl who needed a housemate temporarily.
Being a friendly sort of person I tried to have a few conversations with her to make the atmosphere more homely. She obviously felt this somehow encroached her "personal space"- or at least it seemed so when she appeared one day with a T-shirt boldly emblazoned with the words "YOU DON'T KNOW ME" on it. Well, she apparently wore it all day so it wasn't exactly a private message, but somehow the message of the clothing got to me in a way that a simple conversation about keeping onesself to onesself never could have. It intrigued me that someone would have purchased clothing with a message so much to the front and centre- but of course many people do that; just not me.
The point of this is that clothing sends messages, and it can be used to intimidate. I didn't particularly have strong feelings either way regarding her, but I certainly redoubled my efforts to find a more permanent location to live- and I imagine she felt reasonably satisfied with that.
I think it's a big mistake to underestimate the political and social significance of dress.
Reading this article on the politics of dress in Egypt, I came across this sentence:
"it is very important to note that the state deliberately promotes Western dress over any other form of dress"
Recalling Ahmadinejad's tieless appearance at the UN recently, I found this article talking about an apparent resurgence of the tie in Iran- in 2002, prior to the latest president's reign.
Even then, according to a Government source then "The 1979 Islamic revolution was mostly a cultural revolution. The tie is a symbol of the West and we don't want to be followers of the West. We want to keep our own cultural identity"
It was also said that in the times after the revolution "Any man with a tie risked being condemned as pro-Western and could have faced beatings or detention."
Interesting. I have always associated assigning significance to symbols with primitivism, notwithstanding their political application. I don't regard ties as political; I rather take the Beau Brummel approach to them, since they stylishly create a symmetry in the upper half of a man- women have a pleasing (very) natural symmetry in that regard.
If we look at the intended symbolism and purpose behind veiling- both partial and full- there is certainly something going on. That something is the fetishisation of female chastity.
People say that women in Christianity have traditionally covered up- and of course Nuns do so as a mark of a calling. Whether one agrees with that or not, the covering of the head advocated in the Bible is a question of authority, not of chastity. Dressing modestly may be what some Muslim women practise, but the hijab and niqab are about advertising chastity. In societies where such strict standards of clothing apply, equally stringent punishments for unchasteness accompany them. Marc at USS Neverdock flagged up this video of the stoning of women (warning: very disturbing material). Notably, both women stoned are fully clothed from head to toe at the beginning- the clothes are ripped off them by the impact of the stones. Watching it one word was all I could find; otherwise I was speechless. Savages.
Point Four (summary)
Dress has real historical significance, and this has been regulated. From the roundheads to the blackshirts, to the burka, dress has been used to instill uniformity and fear. The use of women in this respect is particularly abhorrent, but in keeping with the politicisation of civilians which seems to underpin all Islamic struggles, or "Jihad" as they are also known.
The hijab and niqab are cultural artefacts which were not intrinsic or of unwavering importance to Islam and have their parallels all over the world. However we live in a globalised society and they are now being imposed as part of a worldwide jihad. The personal choice of women has very little to do with it.
This BBC article is a good example of an inadequate approach to Islamic dress- dealing only with the present, not with historical trends, and analysing only the religious aspects rather than the political level where it really gets interesting. We don't need to know much about the interpretation of Koranic texts- what's far more relevant to us is the political uses of the dress code. It's also noticeable that the attempt to make a distinction between hijab and niqab is a bit strained.
Just now all kinds of symbol are becoming controversial, and pressure builds to have them removed. The latest publicised case is that of Fiona Bruce's cross. I'm generally laissez faire on such things, but when there is a degree of orchestration and a political message behind the clothing symbols, it's appropriate to make an orchestrated response. The hijab might stay (maybe)- if it means wearing a headscarf a la Benazir Bhutto, and here the crucial aspect of personal choice of style of dress is foremost- but not in workplaces unless of a specifically religous character. It would be strange to ban something akin to many traditional European garments, and unworkable. The niqab must go, unequivocally. Pick and mix must always apply to public dress, otherwise totalitarianism can rise up through its medium. Pick and mix sometimes has to be sustained by the intervention of the law, and so it should be in this case.
Better (were she not actually conceding ground to Islamofascists by dressing this way- she actually appeared sometimes without covering at all, but this roused seething from her growing Islamist critics)
Addendum: Marc points out an interesting article on the hijab in Morocco.
Manolo offers the light relief.
Posted by ed thomas at 1:08 PM
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Ahh, I think it may be time for a Dennis Boyles season-
"Remember Spitting Image, the British TV show starring insane puppets who looked like caricatures of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan? Nowadays, it’s on BBC-2, where it’s called Newsnight. The funniest puppet by far is the “Jeremy Paxman” one. He looks exactly like a pompous, self-righteous, self-important windbag with fabulous hair. But really the whole crew is hilarious, pretending to do news by speaking loudly and interrupting, when everyone knows it’s that typically British parody stuff, the kind of thing they call “barking mad” because only dogs take it seriously"
Posted by ed thomas at 9:03 PM
Saturday, September 30, 2006
It's a bit of a plague really; in many ways the UK and other western countries seem more lawless than previously they were. On the other hand we seem more than ever mindful about arbitrary legal requirements.
It would be strange, in this context, not to mention Richard North. After running up against his local constabulary on several occasions, confronting the press over Qanagate, and his fellow bloggers over their shallowness, he seems to have attracted the ire of the Daily telegraph over borrowing from their photo archive. Actually the second point may have some relevance to the latter point, as the Telegraph were thoroughly narked not to say rattled when their Qana coverage came under fire.
On the subject of photos, I recently decided to include some on this blog, for the simple reason that I realised how easy they were to load and had decided a while back that there was no significant reason to spurn them any longer. I had originally imposed a purdah on photos on my blog(s) because I felt that I needed just to write, without the distraction and easy option of photos. This self-imposed discipline seemed reasonable for a while but became defunct a while back- hence I explored the pictorial option.
Now, it would seem, just as I get into the picture biz, the biz is coming under scrutiny.
To me, in a world where the rapine media exists, pictures abound and visual, oral and written communication fuse seamlessly, pictures are ten a'penny and effectively worthless. The Telegraph may huff and puff but they are just fantastically out of touch- every Tom Dick or Harry has a digital camera and the capacity to bring forward pictures without training. This is becoming more and more a reality everywhere, not just in the West. It doesn't even need a digital, either. I was really proud of what I achieved in Kenya with disposables. I have other photos from time spent in Spain, and I aim one day to get out and about in my favourite Prague locations to get some really special ones- all will sooner or later be freely available on the web.
On the other hand such is the legalism of the western mind, pictorial evidence is more and more important to affirm the valdity of any truth claim. Why, for example, did the US DoD see fit to publish this photo of "detainee salad"? (a picture used by Claudia Rosett to illustrate a recent visit to Guantanmo):
When Mark Steyn, another participant in the media Guan'mo junket, mentioned the L-z-boy chairs of interrogational horror of detainees there, I took the opportunity of a link to have a look at some examples. Here is one, much nicer than what I'm sitting on right now:
Of course this need for pictures is one which the press have long pandered to. I remember the Telegraph introducing colour photos. Think about the glossy magazine approach which prolonged the interest of newspaper readers in the advancing consumerism of the 80's and 90's. Now they have a smorgasbord of photography to offer, and the prevalence of photography is proving difficult for them, since where we are saturated with photographs on the net they are having difficulty at doing something- anything- better than the net.
I have to admit I find the legal wranglings over Guanatanamo difficult to follow- it's not my legal system, for one thing. That's largely unimportant, however, as it would be the same in the British court system. It's interesting that alongside the chicanery of legal principle we find the need to be so pictorial in our approach- think about the immensely visual approach to war crimes, to bombings, to torture. In an age of shifty words we rely more and more on photos. To me they are stimulus, on occasion; best when witty and ironic, when they cast a shade of humour across some reasoned thoughts. I imposed my photo purdah so I wouldn't lose sight of that. It seems the Telegraph lost their reason with their humour- and their readership.
Now wouldn't it be ironic if I had to remove one of these photos- hardly likely to happen, I think.
Posted by ed thomas at 12:40 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The Time Machine, again
Claudia Rosett has done us a service and reminded us exactly what was said about Bill Clinton's strike on Afghanistan in August '98.
I couldn't remember because I only know what was being said in Kenya at that time- and they basically felt that Clinton had no moral authority to be lobbing missiles around.
Take time to enter The Time Machine (really, do. The echoes, almost poignant, are uncanny)
All agin' you were they Bill, poor lamb.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:21 PM
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Well I know infallibility has a specialised meaning, and even then I don't have much time for it, but the BBC's David Willey seems to be getting a somewhat unhealthy kick out of the Pope's current issues.
According to said Willey in this BBC article:
"The Pope is eating humble pie before the world."
Which is a slightly odd thing to say when reporting that the Pontiff "did not retract words uttered during his six-day trip to Bavaria as demanded by his Muslim critics"
But to bang a drum for the papists for a moment, isn't Willey being a bit rude, nay, childishly cocky, about the most senior figure in the world's foremost church? Not sure if His Highness St Koffi of Annan would get the same treatment.
And bye the bye, I'd just note that the BBC have changed subtly their representation of that quote. Now it's "he quoted medieval Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos criticising some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as "evil and inhuman"."
I think it could be termed nuancing the stable door.
FWIW, I agree with fmr Arch-Bish Carey's view of Benedict's speech, though not the Times' sensationalism. And, would it not be a mark of respect for Christianity for the BBC to report it too? I see nothing about it anywhere on the Beeb.
ps, I also notice this from Melanie Phillips. As always invaluable.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:05 AM
Monday, September 18, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Words with legs.
I mentioned below David Warren's article on the Pope's words and the BBC's misrepresentation of them. The BBC seem to have a sickening game playing out here, as though trying to prove that all without exception must bow the knee before multicultural pieties (transfigured almost without a blink into a monocultural defence of Islam).
Warren's intro alluded to one of the most significant facts about the BBC which makes its coverage preeminently important:
It's the license tax, folks, that pays for it.
"The BBC appears to have been quickest off the mark, to send around the world in many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and Malay, word that the Pope had insulted the Prophet of Islam, during an address in Bavaria."
Oh, but he forgot Somali.
Who knows if it might be connected to events like this- a nun murdered in Somalia?
Two things stand out here: one is the assault on the stature of the Pope. The other is the assault on intellectual freedom whereby a carefully framed quote from an obscure source as part of a highly academic address to groups of academics by a former academic can be rendered a slap in the face of the Islamic street by wilful multiculti journalists dripping ignorance and prejudice in equal measure.
Posted by ed thomas at 4:04 PM
Saturday, September 16, 2006
TV isn't art; cinema tends not to be. (kind of a follow up to my last post, which made me think for the first time in a long time about the value of TV)
Mark Steyn does much better in celebrating the pragmatism of trash tv than Lileks does in defending tv as an artistic medium- "No, I’m not saying “The Sopranos” is Shakespeare. If Shakespeare had written in the Sopranos style, “The Merchant of Venice” would have been different." It's a question of style only, apparently.
Lileks however did make the best video in commemoration of 9/11 that I've seen, so he does know a lot about the visual medium.
Posted by ed thomas at 3:19 PM
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The Time Machine
I was fascinated reading the text of this speech from Clive James about international television. I think one can't help but like Clive James, and I think he has a keen, intelligent sense of humour. He was speaking in 1991. In many ways it's a paean to the BBC and its so-called quality programme making.
Recently I was watching some DVDs of old sitcoms, such as Yes Minister and To the Manor Born. Funny, but not so spectacular as I've sometimes fancied them, or been informed they were. As far as I am concerned they are the equal of the best the BBC has had to offer. The formulas show through somewhat, and they don't compare with works of art.
Yet the funniest thing about James's speech is the recent inserts he's made to the text, informing us of how things have changed:
The idea that you can make television only in response to market forces is an idea that not even Rupert Murdoch can render plausible. In fact he can’t really afford to hold it: not for long. Sky Television is up there, but there is almost nothing on it, and the sort of people who watch nothing don’t buy anything, so the enterprise doesn’t even make sense in commercial terms. (Note in 2006: I was, of course, terrifically wrong on that last point, as I had been wrong about the government’s assault on the broadcasting system’s having been even momentarily thwarted. I can forgive myself for failing to predict that the immense volume of exported television from the USA would eventually become remarkable for its quality, also: HBO was as yet in its infancy, and nobody could have guessed that a network like NBC would give a green light to The West Wing.)
Add in the internet and the Hutton report and Clive looks as though his thought had all the depth of a pancake. He's still dead wrong about the Government's "assault on the broadcasting system". As if the Government can be accused of assaulting that which is preserved only by virtue of its maintainance of a compulsory tax.
This little encapsulation of liberal vanity I felt contrasted strongly with the welcome celebration of the New Criterion's 25th birthday. This conservative magazine has been right about so much during that period, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, with eminently sensible artistic commentary throughout, and has had Mark Steyn writing for it for over a decade. Now that's high quality journalism
Posted by ed thomas at 7:18 PM
Monday, September 11, 2006
The sign post that was 9/11.
Niall Ferguson on the next war of the world.
It's interesting because only now am I beginning to absorb which way that post was signing. It's one thing to instinctively react to an act of war, another completely to weigh the forces of history. Mene mene tekel upharsin.
Also check out the Global Crisis Watch's latest podcast for a first class reality check.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:37 AM
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
Adam the American
Our best shot at looking into the mind of Al Qaeda came along about a week ago in the form of an American auto-videoblogger who is regarded by the CIA as a high ranking member of Al qaeda, at the relatively young age of 28. Quite precocious- and to think I'd written off my generation as underachievers. He even had Al Zawahiri as a warm up act.
If you've ever sat through a sermon of around 45 minutes you'll have experienced something like this before. I was going to say it's the most boring thing I'd ever heard, but it isn't- he just lost me a bit when he started to say how you have to balance what the Koran says with other bits of the Koran, and then quoting in Arabic. The early part when he lists the failures of the West while omitting any of the things that have really gone wrong, eg. the holocaust, communism and many related massacres- things mostly only tangental to our responsibilities- is a masterful show of selectivity. Towards the end he starts to make little idiomatic gestures- "you don't have to be a rocket scientist"- and gets a little more personal than at the beginning (you can use the cursor at the bottom of the video to run through some parts and cut to the chase, I think).
My conclusion: he's no dummy, but he is a hectoring little dictator, and I'm glad he's not my dad.
The best thing I read on it, which picked out the central points I missed in my fascination with this personality before me, is here. (via Daniel Pipes)
Posted by ed thomas at 8:15 PM
Monday, September 04, 2006
Not part of my usual beat, but, this is a remarkable and illuminating take on feminism, modern society, and Islam by the extraordinary Fjordman at Brussels Journal.
Posted by ed thomas at 9:03 PM
"The Bad Israelis: a poem"
I have a thought. If the BBC weren't producing dreamy explorations of the supposed psychoses at the heart of Israel such as this one, but instead were reporting the reality of the savagery on Israel's doorstep among its neighbours, would they be producing rubbish entertaining the question of whether it's "time to negotiate with Al Qaeda?"?
According to Paul Adams of the BBC "Nadim Injaz is a man without a home, without friends, afraid for his life, trapped by more than a decade of bad luck and bad decisions."
If you read the article, you will see that the only mistakes referred to relate to his decision to be an informer for the Israelis; or maybe his brother's decision to do so. I also noticed this little encapsulation of the BBC's mentality:
"In Palestinian society, collaboration with Israel is a crime usually punishable by death. This hasn't stopped the Israelis recruiting thousands of snitches"
Got that? The mob murders that await informers are referred to as though some kind of judicial process was involved: a 'crime' , 'punishable' by 'death', carried out in the name of 'Palestinian society'. Have a look at my second link and you will see an example of Palestinian 'punishment'- and yes, sadly, Palestinian 'society'.
Meanwhile the Israelis sources are referred to informally as "snitches".
Something back-to-front here. The Israelis are painted as heartlessly abandoning their sources having stirred up Palestinian society against them, while the Palestinians escape blame for their vicious and unjust, not to say utterly savage and barbaric, behaviour. In fact the truth is their psychotic hatred of Israel is- if I may be so bold- the root cause of every informer's behaviour. Maybe that's why Europe's 'alienated youth' are turned on by the jihadis and turned off by civilisation, when savagery steals the garments of respectability, and civilisation is written off as a fix. When even a jihadi spokesman can be more honest than the BBC, what has "Western Civilisation" to offer?
Posted by ed thomas at 9:32 AM
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
The Good Journalist.
Claudia Rossett has a blog. Which is something you will welcome after reading this post from Richard North. Honestly, I have been impressed not to say amazed by the amount of detail and interest emanating from his and Helen Szamuely's EU Referendum blog ever since it started. Well, I was brought up on the MSM y'know.
Anyway, back to the good journalist. The good journalist has a sense of history. Claudia Rossett devotes her second post to covering events of sixty-sixty years ago, and to a speech from an Anglo-American of note.
I would quote some of this with reference to today, as the conflict deepens between Islam and the West seemingly more rapidly with every western denial of the fundaments of it. However we need something less hopeful, more cynical, more biting for the current age. I prefer this (all your fakes are belong to us)- a modern response to twistedness, as a stopgap while we get some bearings.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:32 PM
Monday, August 28, 2006
Yet More Mark Steyn:
"in today's mosques and madrassahs there is almost as little contemplation of the divine as there is in the typical Anglican sermon"
That's the good news, I guess.
Oh, and btw, you might notice I put a link to photos in the sidebar- me in Kenya back from summer 98 to 99. Undying feelings though.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:18 PM
Sunday, August 27, 2006
To Watch This Video you will need...
1)A certain tolerance of bad language.
2)A bit of patience.
But you will laugh. Some of the best TV I've ever seen- and it's a home video, of sorts.
(via Kim Du Toit)
Btw, I think it's relevant to mention that I was absolutely smitten with the old Dukes of Hazard as a wee one.
Posted by ed thomas at 5:18 PM
Saturday, August 26, 2006
More Steyn wisdom, here and here- from his End of the World Tour Down Under.
I love the quotations- especially the ones he repeats. The Napier quote strikes me as more and more brilliant every time I read it.
A British General in India, Napier responded to the cruel practise of Sati thus:
"'You say that it's your custom to burn widows, very well. We also have a custom. When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their neck and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it my carpenters will build a gallows; you may follow your custom, then we will follow ours.'"
Now that's my multi-cultural brutha!
Posted by ed thomas at 8:52 PM
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Speaking of Truth, here's Mark Steyn quoting another guy:
'"The Jews are a peculiar people," wrote America's great longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer after the 1967 war. "Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem . . . But everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab . . . Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world." '
and from the man himself:
"For over a generation now, Canada and many other countries have regarded civilizational self-loathing as just another alternative lifestyle, like being gay or vegetarian. It's a kind of literal "homophobia"--a fear (phobia) of the same (homo-), the same old white-bread people that produced the world in which you live, the legal system, the property rights, the economic prosperity."
Posted by ed thomas at 8:19 PM
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Why I don't want "to
First I have to explain that I'm a bit of a fan of A Tangled Web, and this post is something of a riposte to David Vance's recent "feel like quitting blogging" post.
There are many reasons for not giving up posting to this site- for me.
The first is that I'd regret it if I did- and soon. You know, I care about what happens in the world and somehow I can register that concern here.
In a very small way one is part of the continuum of events- even though probably less significant than one's real life influence on events, which is vanishingly small anyway.
In some ways I blog to feel small, to set myself against events as I used to seek out the waves in the ocean as a child and try to ride them.
Let me just point out a couple of things i'd regret if i didn't blog. I'd regret that I didn't place myself in opposition to the many lies that our MSM tell, and inparticular- given their reputation, reach and resources- the BBC.
I'd regret not being able to let out how I felt the next time a major terror attack happens. I'd regret not complaining about the reverse racism, the corruption, the malaise of reason, that's infected the West.
I'd regret most of all I think the chance to listen to others, to weigh their thoughts, ideas, schemes in a medium which like it or not is going to be formative of our future world- assuming that is that there is a world to be formed.
And, in listening to others, I'd miss absolute gems like the dropping of Autumn rain such that my perceptions are like dormant seeds readying themselves to hear. Gems like this one, for instance. Or this, from the same site. Real understanding, and a real grip on things which none of us can maintain all the time, but some of us will always be manifesting. It's but for me to look, and understand.
(the two posts linked immediately above refer to an excellent point about GWB and the WOT, and a simply brilliant roundup of the data on Qana- in that order)
Posted by ed thomas at 7:48 PM
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
The Islamic Fascist Threat
I think most people think that talking about Islamic Fascism is just a ramping up of rhetoric, simply exaggeration for effect.
Howeve, since Sept. 11th I have consistently held the view that it's an accurate description.
One reason for this is the strong dimension of racism in the Islamic movement, which has really been overlooked and downplayed.
A vital part of this racism, without which the true nature of Islamism cannot be appreciated, is the racism against black Africans. Of course the racism against Jews is a prominent feature, but the underbelly of Islamic racism has traditionally been against blacks.
This racism is both historic and current. Forget the apparent tolerance of blacks among Islam in the West, when it comes to Africa proper the Arab muslims give no quarter to the blacks.
Recently I was reading up about Somalia. Did you know that there is a part of Somalia, a river valley called Juba, occupied by Bantu tribesmen, in contrast to the Arab-derived Somali populous? Their historic function was to work as a slave class, tilling the soil to provide for their Arab-Somali masters. Now many of them have fled the region altogether to avoid the Somali warlords' pillaging. That kind of tale is a commonplace reality for East and North Africa.
Turning to Sudan, I was interested to read this from Dave Kopel, as well as to hear the Sudan President's identification of his country with Hezbullah's struggles.
Dave Kopel points out that "if you’re an Arab who wants to kill blacks, then Sudan’s gun control laws became awfully loose. In Darfur, there has been a long rivalry between camel-riding Arab nomads and black African pastoralists. The Arabs consider the blacks to be racially inferior, and fit only for slavery."
The fascinating thing about the Kopel article is that it analyses not the acts of violence perpetrated against the blacks in Sudan, but the armament of the Arabs and disarmament of the blacks, thus creating the imbalance of power necessary for genocide. He outlines the very strict rules for gun ownership in Sudan, which are applied to blacks and overlooked for Arabs.
It is this kind of basic abuse of power, abusing the power of the state to oppress sections of society, which reminds me forcibly of Nazism. And where this cannot operate because the Islamists don't hold sway, the power of terror is used to turn opponents into facilitators of the growing menace by their sheer passivity in the face of fascistic evil.
And guess who is the biggest facilitator of the disarmament which has served Sudan so well? Why, the UN of course.
(and by the way this UN position is absolutely crazy to me from my exerience of Africa. There were very few weapons on display in highland North-West Kenya, anyway. There are tribal gangs which are outlaws and armed, and the government troop has his always on display, and will point very freely at any civilian who looks twice at him, but guns were not an issue- knives, meanwhile, were omnipresent, and very sharp.)
Posted by ed thomas at 12:36 PM
Friday, August 18, 2006
I push the boat out and email- very politely- Orange ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) about Inigo Wilson (see below post). Am assured that "suspension" is a neutral position intended to facilitate investigation. Am also told I will be 'gladly' updated on the results of the investigation. Don't really trust them, but if 'gladly' indicates that I will be updated and that will not be an onerous task, it should bode well for Mr Wilson. If not I will be very angry. MPACUK (Muslim pressure group) are claiming success over the blogger who sought to "redefine words". That's fundamental to the trouble really. Most 2nd or 3rd generation muslim immigrants have never understood what they meant in the first place.
Meanwhile Mr Wilson gets some of the LGF lizardoid assistance.
Posted by ed thomas at 7:15 PM
Thursday, August 17, 2006
A Cause I Could Get Behind
Inigo Wilson's been suspended. For writing.
No, not the kind of hatespeech that keeps Galloway in business as he keeps his parliamentary seat with the support of his partisan muslim constituency, but the kind of clever analysis of the superficiality of what passes for public discourse that makes the manipulators of image and language uneasy.
Clearly Mr Wilson held his position not because he was pc but because he was applying his intelligence to his work. Ultimately, unfortunately, that can be the slippery slope towards a really serious crime- like telling people about it.
Posted by ed thomas at 8:13 PM
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Is Britain Beyond Boutique Multiculturalism?
That term, "boutique multiculturalism", is a key reason for linking Jeff Goldstein's 'other side of the pond' musings on the reaction in Britain to last weeks foiled terror plot.
That and the fact that Goldstein's writing is always a joy, and his opinions never fail to stimulate.
Alison at Making Headlines produced a fine round up post on the subject, memorably getting going by saying "It is time to kick these leaders" (the truculent islamic ones that is).
So, are we ready!!!
I don't think so, but at the same time the truth is that British multiculturalism is not just boutique. It's real. I have known many, many people from a non-British background with good sense, good manners, and loyalty to Britain. There is potential, and it'd be pathetic to conclude otherwise.
Unfortunately the weeds strangle the good seed, and the politicians, consistent with the rest of British politics, have allowed the weeds to dominate. I listened in absolute disgust at the insane anti-Jewish pronouncements of a man well-known to me through the British media, Azzam Timimi. From the video (here is the video on LGF) I recognised the location, one I know reasonably well: Trafalgar Square next to the lions.
That is the problem, right there; we have all sorts of people living in fear of saying the wrong thing, and then an Islamic fascist like Timini freely mouthing off in the heart of our capital. I am angry.
What we really needed though was some good old fashioned heckling, to his face and in the faces of the Islamic fascist mob around him. When are we going to learn to be rude to the right people? Really, screaming, in your face, hit-me-and-break-the-law-go-on-do-it rude. That's when we'll begin to sort our problems out and the boutiques can truly open for business, with extensions at the back.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:31 PM
Monday, August 14, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Ahmadinejad, the blog.
That's right, according to Captain's Quarters (and it seems absolutely genuine)- and here it is (click the interesting English-American flag for the dodgy English language translation, if it's all in Farsi). What I like is that you can vote in Amad's online poll:
"Do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word war?"
So far the 'no' vote is winning.
Posted by ed thomas at 6:11 PM
The below items are my thoughts about a report on Israeli potential 'war crimes' by Human Rights Watch. The influence of this organisation is in my view disproportionate and mainly malign. It's undemocratic and, with its apparently straightforward humanitarian approach, a useful crutch of legitimacy for organisations like the BBC and the UN. If you doubt the influence of it, look only to the UN's latest activity :
"The second special session of the Human Rights Council today strongly condemned the grave Israeli violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law in Lebanon and decided to urgently establish and immediately dispatch a high-level inquiry commission to the region."
An announcement which follows the recommendation (with a couple of minor adjustments) of HRW in the report below:
"Human Rights Watch urges the Secretary-General of the United Nations to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, in Lebanon and Israel and to formulate recommendations with a view to holding accountable those who violated the law."
Having followed up my intention to read the HRW (an organisation the BBC places so much trust in) report, within a few pages of text I had a little anger to let out (but I forced myself to read the rest).
Tigerhawk was much too soft (though I think he intended to make a specific point about equivalence).
HRW launches its manifesto against Israel by saying that Israel has "consistently" launched attacks against targets offering "limited or dubious" military gains.
Thus does a self-proclaimed movement for human rights declare its understanding of the aims and means of warfare to be superior to the seasoned Israeli armed forces.
Of course, the usefulness of a target must depend on the overall aims of the action. Supposing Israel aimed at the total destruction of Hezbullah? What would that do to our analysis of military effectiveness? How does HRW's presupposition about a legitimate end result affect their view of legitimate military action? Absolutely, I'd argue.
Unless HRW will state what they think Israel's aims should legitimately be, they are pissing in the wind (as usual). They won't say it because it's unacceptable: total surrender to the demands of the Islamic world.
And sure, the war is (has been) retaliatory and defensive, but does that mean that only specifically retaliatory action is allowed, or are the Israelis actually allowed to aim to win? (the answer to that is obvious by now)
Tigerhawk points out that, following the figure presented by HRW, Israel would be 'guilty' of striking civilians in less than 1% of cases, yet HRW refers to their "consistent" non-military attacks. By contrast, HRW claims that only "occasionally" did Hezbullah site its military machinery in civilian locations.
The report quickly descends into contradiction. Having stated that they found no cases where Hezbullah deliberately used civilians to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack, they admit that Hezbullah did use civilian locations for storage of weapons and military sites. Uh- what? Hezbullah don't use human shields, they just locate near civilians. They also admit that hebullah have fired rockets from among civilian habitations. HRW's 'deep concern' (which they assert later on in the report) about this phenomenon doesn't prevent them making such an absurd train of logic. (update: In this context this from Volokh is a useful link)
Perhaps the biggest weakness is in the methodology where they go into Hezbullah heartlands, ask the locals if there were any Hezbullah fighters present when the
One oppressed villager they interviewed says, "“The positions of the resistance are around the village, not inside the village.”. Oh, right, so I suppose we ignore the almost certain reality that members of the 'resistance' go home for a kip every 8 hours or so, come back refreshed and ready to confront the enemy, while their 'barracks' remain strictly non-military?
The issues of barracks, provisions, supplying and other supportive actions are simply not addressed by HRW. All very well if Hezbullah locate some of their rocket launchers outside habitations, but isn't it militarily advantageous to them to rest, heal, water themselves and feed themselves among civilian populations- many of whom will lead dual existences- eg. farmer/freedom fighter?
Another thing the report mentions but gives little reassurance over is the issue of the Civil Defence Force- so-called. One seriously wonders what this does when not 'defending' lebanon (its very title, CDF, including as it does the word 'defence', could indicate a military role). Putting the matter another way, since in elections in 2005 Hezbullah's election coalition won 35 seats mainly in the South, they could reasonably be called the local Government of choice for the region. In that case, surely the CDF would be likely to do their bidding? Again, not part of HRW's calculation. Nor, naturally, is the fact that the 05 elections produced results which indicated the South was a.o.k with a militia-government.
Another issue is that of the 'foreign nationals'. For some reason a lot of them have become casualties in the latest war while vacationing near the border of Israel. There have been German-lebanese, Brazilian-Lebanese and Canadian-Lebanese. Although some seem to have been there in family groupings, it's very odd that they would be in such a region at this time when surely their savvy in leaving Lebanon arose from the unrest there in the past, and being international types they'd be very aware of the wider context. Weird that they'd head in and stay in at a time of such tension. Why locate abroad to escape unrest yet choose such a time to be there? And why not get out quick; globe trotters of that kind can't be so short of cash or initiative.
On the issue of the non-military nature of the victims and their localities the HRW are fundamentally confused. In some cases they state that no military activity had taken place in specific locations to justify Israeli strikes, in others stating no connections whatsoever, or no likely connections, between the victims and the Hezbullah- but they never define the dividing line between military and civilian (they'd have a job, with Hezbullah), or when a location becomes 'civilianised' after having had military usage ie. how many days a location must be without military activity (whatever that is) before it's a warcrime to strike it.
Just to come to the HRW conclusions, among them is that Israel must
"Scrupulously observe the principle of proportionality. Cease launching any attack that may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated."
Notice how the principle of proportionality is to dictate the war aims of Israel, circumscribing it and giving the Hezbullah a neat and easy cut-out n' keep template by which they can predict how far Israel will go (metaphorically and physically) and construct their plans accordingly. (and, as we know from Olmert's meandering path to war goals and rather more straightforward path to the UN high table, they may have miscalculated, but not that much.)
"Sorry HRW", I want to say- "you're naive beyond belief. Credulous, cretinous, facile". But actually none of those applies- they are just on the side of Hezbullah and the deathly Western consensus against Israel.
But now, of course, comes my disclaimer. Not that the points above aren't valid, but that obviously people who are innocent get killed in wars- always have and always will. Israel has not been trying to kill those people though, and is as far from such a practice as any participant in a conflict has been.
One extra point:
Some of the problematic examples of bombing attacks are those on the roads. However, HRW's main suggestion seems to be that a vehicle with a white flag or a red cross should be immune from attack. Mmmm, very constructive for those fighting terrorists, and so insightful.
Posted by ed thomas at 5:45 PM
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Some good reading for you here (why say too much when others are saying it very well?)
Sometimes an outsider can say the things we can only feel:
James Lewis has a terrific piece for the American Thinker on the role the BBC has played in creating the society which is producing suicide bombers for Allah. It has been a vital piece of the establishment jigsaw which has made it so hard for Britons to think clearly about themselves and their place in the world; to have respect for themselves and to take responsibility appropriately. Now we rely on the technocrats to save us, and are grateful to them, but the source of trouble comes from deeper down in society, and does threaten to overwhelm it.
The case of Don Stewart-Whyte struck me as particularly indicative. Former grammar school boy (like me!), halfbrother to a model (not like me; I just date them) who apparently had never met his sister, he seems the very model of a muddled modern jihader.
But the media rarely reflect on themselves and the accuracy or worthwhileness of the messages they give out. The endless barrage of sensationalism obscures the fact that serious things are happening (and they don't just obscure them, they help create them). Reading this LGF special I reflected that to have a role in the MSM requires an instantaneous ability to fit the current news into the template of modern, liberal pietistic prejudices- hence the competition to make Israel's military action seem as 'disproportionate' as possible.
Live from an Israeli bunker looks brilliantly at the psychology at work. I have to say I see only bullying brusqueness in the muslim reaction to the attempted bombing, and the same kind of aggressiveness in the media concoction concerning the Lebanese situation. It's interesting the way the British dimension in the fostering of terrorism is beginning to impact people's thinking. One commenter criticises the blogger for getting his stats wrong concerning British support for Sharia- but the mistake is an understandable one.
ps. I meant to quote the Israelly bunker on the media, Olmert and Lebanon:
"France and the US drafted a UN resolution that both Israel and Lebanon seem to accept, it will be voted on in Israel on Sunday. Olmert whom I (now very regretfully) praised when I started this blog finds it agreeable and will recommend the government to vote for passing it. If it is passed the outcome of this war has been determined not by Katyusha rockets falling on Haifa and the north of Israel, not over a hundred Israeli casualties, not the 2 million Israeli citizens living in bunkers suffering sometimes up to 10 sirens a day (and a rather new occurrences of night-time sirens and rockets), but by propaganda."
Posted by ed thomas at 2:03 PM