Saturday, April 22, 2006

Apologies for the break.

I was unexpectedly involved in a very sociable evening yesterday, following an awkward sort of day where no spare time presented itself. The weather was so good in Prague and it was/is real sitting-out-drinking-beer weather, and I was only able to enjoy it because of a cancelled appointment- so I really made the most.

...aaaanyway, I suggest you check out Alison's post on an Iranian woman under threat. Then you can find out more here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Very Busy Day Today.

However, I did notice the BBC plugging the views of one Sir Lawrence Freedman, rotund University of London academic. It's funny how at times the BBC can fawn so completely at the feet of the enobled. This seems to coincide with those occasions where the BBC's views and those of the enobled coincide.

I googled Sir Lawrence Freedman and ran across this article on the first page. It's predominantly a rank hit piece on Rumsfeld, from The Washington Post in Jan 2005. Talk about a coincidence given the BBC's recent anti-Rumsfeld fest.

How could anybody who read this catalogue of accusations against the Bush administration's Iraq policies ever imagine they would get an honest answer from its author concerning the existence or non-existence of civil war in Iraq? Oh, but I overlook something: it isn't an honest question. It's a BBC question, feeding into and feeding off the agendas of all those who oppose the US.

I notice one BBC excuse for coverage being the Saudi Minister's contradiction of Jack Straw(man) at a recent news conference: 'yes there is civil war in Iraq, blah blah'. It sums things up for me: whatever I may think of the Bush administration they're still making the right enemies.


Something about the conclusion I've drawn above has been nagging at me; it's not quite right somehow. The trouble is that we're hearing too much from America's enemies, channelled by the gagging for it press. Anyway, regarding Rumsfeld, here is an interesting cross-take on the Freedland/BBC Rumsfeld critique in the Times (via Belmont Club). One more thing strikes me about this 'civil war' season, which has blent nicely with the anti-Rumsfeld coverage, as indeed it has in this posting: they're moving on; the anti-US coalition for the killing, I mean.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Inside Tracks

One of the good things about blogging is the way you end up wandering through thoughts that belong to different people, in different places, even acting at different times.

So here's a selection.

This is a really funny caricature from an expat newspaper in Moscow. Hilarious social commentary. I'm here in Prague, and it's probably nearer in spirit to this caricature than it would be to a similar one for the UK, but really this is one analysis which travels. There are enough categories for it not to be lacking in subtlety, too.

Here's a look into the global warming mallarkey. Given organisations as cliquey as Nasa's meteorology dept seems to be, it's no wonder they can't think straight.

And here's a look inside the world of 1970's LA journalism, showing how politics trumps news, especially concerning hot topics like immigration.

Thanks to Peter Glover and Tim Newman for 2 of 3 links.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

If you have some time this is a great review of literature on the crisis facing Europe vis a vis Islam, by Bruce Bawer, who also contributed his own book recently.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Iraq war was wrong, natch.

I hate to harp on- especially on an Easter Monday after four beers, three shorts, four steaks and four cream eggs (spread over a lengthy period, but kind of continued from the previous day's activities)- but it is necessary. Really.

Oh yes, it's the BBC again. Many things, of course, but I just find their talking points so banal and self-interested, especially the Greg Dyke memorial story: that the Iraq War was Wrong.

The BBC run articles like this one in which they try to embody each individual horseman of the apocalypse they predicted in the days of the dear leader (Greg).

Whenever I get really over-fed up about this I just visit this site to read posts like this. Wonderful.

You'd never guess from the BBC's coverage that last month the US suffered its lowest level of casualties for months. Yes, the moment has passed but has become a statistcal fact, and although rates have risen again, they are consistent with a disorderly and fissiparous society, rather than a basket case. To have a state of civil war develop is inconceivable while an active coordinating force of US troops simultaneously goes about its business without multiplying military casualties. That's the reality; (aside, to the Beeb) put it in your Beeboid pipe and smoke it rather than the shit that generally goes in.

But, who are the BBC rolling out as their authority, as the man to restate the meme: none other than Toby Dodge, the guy who predicted a long hard war against Iraq's conventional armed forces in 2003 for the Guardian. A man whom even Paul Reynolds of the BBC described as 'a critic of American and British policy in Iraq'- as I reported some while ago.

In case the Beeb hadn't noticed, ethnic shifts inside Iraq certainly predate the Iraq war. Places like Mosul and Kirkuk were deliberately settled with Sunnis by Saddam. Now, I am not saying that current ethnic flight may not be some indication of imminent or even immanent civil war, but I'd want to be reassured on the following matters:

That the figures mentioned by the Iraqi Government really were exceptional. I'd want to know that this was not just a response to journalistic pressure, and that they differ significantly from figures previously available which happen perhaps not to have had the same relevance to the meme-du-jour and therefore were ignored.

I'd also want to compare with other population movements, for example from Kirkuk and from Fallujah. In the latter case tens of thousands fled conflict. Did they all go back? What happened to them? In the former case Kirkuk is prized by the Kurds as their 'true' capital, yet was heavily settled by Arab sunnis under Saddam. What's going on there, and how does it compare with the so-called Samarra flight?

These are the kinds of things I'd imagine a lively broadcaster would enquire after. So not the BBC then. There is no detail to their report, there is no break down of figures. There is only the bizarre notion that somehow the deterioration of Iraq into civil war is some kind of hardy perennial.

To establish this the writer draws in an assortment of deeply partial Arab despots, and a Guardianista pin-up academic, plus a few soundbytes from Iraqi politicians. Yep, real balanced there.

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