Wednesday, January 31, 2001
Literally speaking

I'm going to get on to my mail box, and my book reviews soon, I promise. Any way today I'll have a general go about sloppiness. I was reading today a missive from a salesman saying that he had "been literally torn apart" at some meeting with a potential client. Now literally to me means that the metaphor button is switched off (not literally as there is no such thing as a metaphor button). If you were literally torn apart you would have at least a couple of limbs missing, and e-mail would be problematic. It seems to mean "I'm not exageratting, it was really bad". Fine, but don't use that word.

Any way a couple of years ago I got an e-mail from someone responding to my reporting a particular Blair violation of our liberties, saying that "my blood is literally boiling". That must be painful.

The literally peerless Sean Gabb writes an excellent piece on the close correalation of mixed metaphors and sloppy thinking here.

One day I'll talk about my brush with fundamentalism, and why it's so important for the word literal to retain its proper meaning. I'll also write about foreign policy some time.

PS. I hate postscripts as well. In this age of word processors you don't need them. I mean I don't want to get all Ayn Rand on you people, but post scripts were all well and good in an age when you couldn't go back to your written or type-written letter and insert a short paragraph. It just showed a disorganised mind. Now you can edit things once you've written them. Postscripts are no longer a sign of a sloppy mind but of an insincere nature.

An endorsement

It's from The Raimondo;

Oh, and I did indeed look at your weblog and have been reading it since a Eric put it up. It hits just the right tone of informality, and is very valuable. I'm sure it's going to be popular with our readers, and expand the audience for your column.

See, now you'd better tell all your friends. That's five people who read the web log.
Tuesday, January 30, 2001
I'm not writing much today, expecting you to have a look at my latest column, on Jigoism. Also look at my new vault, or archive for the non-internet savvy. Honestly if you lot paid me I'd be saying something like I'm constantly striving to make things better for you. But you don't so I won't.

Monday, January 29, 2001
Proffessor John Charmley's book, Churchill: The End of Glory, seems to have lit a slow burning fuse. It started in my e-mail forum, where a British correspondant chided me for comparing someone (I forget who) with Oswald Moseley. Didn't I realise, he asked, that Oswald Moseley would have kept us out of the war, and that Britain would have been a better place. The man, was, I admit, a sympathiser with the ideas of Oswald Moseley on more than Britain's neutrality in the Second World War. (Moseley was the premier fascist leader during and after the war). I treated his argument in the way one would expect, instead of looking at the merits of the case I thought "I disagree with everything else he's got to say, so this must be rubbish as well."

But then, but then. I also saw in one of those Yahoo! clubs an argument that Hitler was not really that interested in invading Britain, and this person I knew despised the brownshirts. And then I saw in another club another Tory say that Germany and Russia were best left on their own. What's happening?

First thing, it's not a fascist revival. The arguments are not along the lines of "Hitler wasn't a bad guy, you know". They are on the lines of strategic calculation. Hitler was more interested in the east. France, Belgium, Holland and Britain were all in the west. Therefore these countries would have been a diversion to Hitler, and so would not have been threatened unless they threatened first. To me this has its own problems. What guarantees could we rely on from Hitler? The same ones that the Soviets got, or that we got in Munich? Could we really sustain an anti-German build up of armaments in merely a cold war environment, with the Labour Party and many Tories adamantly opposing it in favour of social spending?

This line of thinking has never died in America, which is to be expected as there is no way that America was under threat from Hitler. Indeed Pat Buchanan's book A Republic not an Empire made this point. Britain is a bit too close to Germany to be totally sure of this.

But the thinking does need to be done. We can't deny that we lost our empire and overseas assets due to this war, just as we saw our living standards plummet. And let's not forget that we came very close to losing the war.. If we had not fought this war, what would happen?

But perhaps it is not John Charmley or Alan Clark who are responsible for this fire in the undergrowth, for the generation who fought in that war are tragically dying.
Sunday, January 28, 2001

Firstly a correction about Dr. John Reid, the new Northern Ireland minister. A reader has brought me up on Dr. Reid's pro-IRA sympathies. After some time looking in to this the pro-IRA sympathies were strictly confined to his youth, when he was a marxist. The man is no longer a Marxist, and his past IRA sympathies will have no effect on his conduct of Northern Ireland policy. He is not an unstable choice but a very pro-Union one.

Old Familiars

A classic list that should be bookmarked. And a list of articles on the bombing of Serbia, quite a few from the left. news

Yes, we want money. I quite like the adverts because they look so out of place (quite what British Gas is doing constantly advertising on the site I don't know, and is it just me or is everyone on the web assumed to be a bad credit rating?). But its your chance to make the place advertising free. Also the US Army seems to have let its people free on the internet and the recently staid Antiwar forum has livened up. They seem to have a large amount of free time in the Army.

Son of Star Wars

While I'm quite blase about this son of star wars project, I was sent this website. You may find it interesting.
Saturday, January 27, 2001
Airstrip One Daily

If you like Airstrip One and this web log you may want to subscribe to Airstrip One Daily.

This is my new list where I send the most interesting e-mail about British foreign policy that appears in my In Box.

There is a strict limit of one e-mail sent out a day - and only I can send out e-mails, so they will not be off topic (by much).
One thing I did not see when I wrote my piece on Peter Mandelson, Peter Hain has moved from the Foreign Office. This will have an effect, firstly because the (South African) minister was astiduous in favouring his country in Africa. Secondly his fierce opposition to the "Son of Starwars" may mean that Robin Cook loses his backbone.

The passport fiasco, may, claim the scalp of "Minister for Europe" Keith Vaz. Hopefully he will be able to stay, for he is utterly incompetant in his brief which is to persuade the British people to sign up for the Euro.

That's nice of them: the Germans will "respect" any anti-Euro vote. Thank you so much.
Union Now

The marvelous thing about the internet is that just about any nutter can put out his ideas.

Looks like the Joint Strike Fighter is in trouble. Pity we can't say the same thing about Women in the Millitary. What are they thinking?

Talking of military preparedness, here's an interesting speech on Switzerland during the Second World War. They did somewhat better than Poland or France, and it would pay us to find out why.
Thursday, January 25, 2001
A couple of stories from Stratfor:

Eastern Kosovo looks set to blow, and bog down peacekeeping troops.

Go Dubya! Bush's focus on national security is annoying non-Americans.

The European Foundation Intelligence Digest has a couple of interesting articles:

Racak massacre in question

A team of Finnish forensic scientists has said that it has not found any proof that the alleged massacre in the Kosovo village of Racak on 15th January 1999 actually occurred. This alleged massacre was the reason why Nato increased its pressure on Yugoslavia until bombing began on 24th March 1999, because the OSCE, which was the first on the scene, alleged that it had proof that innocent civilians had been murdered. However, from the very beginning, sceptics argued that the evidence was not convincing that innocent civilians had been executed in the way which was claimed at the time. Those doubts now seem to have been confirmed. The team could not conclude that the murdered people had come from Racak nor could they find evidence for execution at close range. One of the doubts raised by sceptics had precisely always been that there was no control over the bodies. The revelation that the massacre Racak may never have happened has certainly comforted opponents of the Nato war. However, it is also interesting to speculate why the forensic report has come out only now, two years after the event, especially since Western authorities (including the German government) seem to have done so much to hush it up. The original doubts were expressed informally by the Finns in March 1999: why has the report only now been released? [Berliner Zeitung, 17th January 2001]

If Racak wasn't true, what was?

CSU favours EU Eastern enlargement

The European policy committee of the Bavarian Christian Democrat CSU has approved a ten-point policy paper explaining why the party supports the Eastward enlargement of the EU. Not only does the CSU want to show that it is more favourable to enlargement than any other party, but also the party stresses that enlargement will have particular benefits for Germany. First, the Eastern border of the EU will be pushed 750 km further East and this, it is argued, will improve security in Germany because bodies like Europol will operate in the new member countries. Poland, in other words, is a buffer zone for Germany. Second, the CSU argues that German exporters will profit from Eastern enlargement of the EU because it is closer than any other EU industrialised nation to these "growing markets". The Czechs and the Hungarians, in other words, will be flooded with German imports. On immigration, the CSU says that enlargement will lead to a mere 60,000 – 100,000 immigrants from Eastern Europe. [Die Welt, 23rd January 2001] Considering that enlargement will bring into the EU some 60 million people, this is a minuscule number and is credible only if, as Berlin has said, the transition period before which Poles and others are allowed to come and work in the EU is very long, say eight or ten years.

Of course, enlargement will weaken German influence in the EU. Isn't it obvious?

Saddam must Go! Oh boy, this is one of the worst pieces I have seen in a long time.

The Mandelson Affair - What does it mean for British Foreign Policy?

For those of you who are not British, Peter Mandelson was a medium level cabinet minister who resigned - I won't go into the story too much, you can read about it here. Put it this way it's dominating the news at the moment. But what does it mean for foreign affairs?

The Election

Mandy was known as a svengali with magical powers over the mind of the electorate. I think this is massively overestimated, he did a poor job in 1987 - even if Labour did look more professional - and his disdain for the print media and traditional electioneering made the 1987 far more painful for Labour than it needed to be. He did get good at managing the press but Blair is not short on that type of person. As far as winning the 1997 election, I could have managed their campaign, actively sabotaged it and they still would have won with a comfortable majority. It was eighteen years of the other guys being in that won Labour the election.

The other argument is that this will reflect badly on the Labour Party. Last time Mandelson resigned, over mortgage fraud, the government's opinion poll lead went up! This probably won't happen this time but they have a fairly consistent lead of 15%. While you must never assume a British election is in the bag, the Conservatives need more than this to win.

The Foreign Perspective

It was an open secret that Mandelson coveted the Foreign Office, and I think it highly improbable he will get it now. What does this mean? Probably less than it seems. The British Foreign Office (FCO), like the Treasury, tends to cream off the brightest civil servants and also tends to have a culture of its own. These two departments are far less deferential to ministers than others. I am always amused at how the Cabinet's leading "Euro-Sceptic" is Gordon Brown while the leading enthusiast is Robin Cook. The positions were precisely opposite when they became ministers four years ago (although Cook then was more Euro-sceptic then than Brown is now). Now it just so happens that the Treasury is historically Euro-sceptic (Europe costs too much) and the Foreign Office is traditionally pro-Europe (the "Foreign Office is there to represent foreigners" as Austin Mitchell, MP, said).

If Mandelson's views were radically different from the FCO's, which they aren't (he was part of the Atlantic Council and is Vice President of the European Movement), he would still have been swallowed in their culture. Just as Robin Cook was.

Northern Ireland

Mandy was much credited with "getting the peace process moving", which he didn't it was far more of a credit to the SDLP and the unionists around David Trimble - with an initial push from the previous Prime Minister, John Major. I still think it was misguided, but there you are. What will his absence do there?

His replacement, John Reid, seems at first sight a good choice. A competant minister he has experience of bedding down a devolved government in Scotland. His Catholicism will create far less of a fuss amongst the Unionists than many expect, although Ian Paisley will say something typically moderate on this. Paisley may be honest and genuinely religious but he is hardly a poster boy for the mosaic that is unionism. But where will Reid stand. He is more of an unknown quantity than most assume. During the 1980s he was one of the most outspoken pro-IRA MPs. On the other hand his stint as a junior defence minister has left him a lasting affection for the army (he supposedly used to use any excuse to visit the army when he was in charge of transport and the Scottish Office.) He is a genuine wild card who could seriously upset either side. Watch for this.

No Difference

I really believe that there will be no appreciable difference from Mandelson resigning as far as British foreign policy goes. But then as you probably assumed that before you read the article there was no point in writing it, was there?

Tuesday, January 23, 2001
Postbox time

Something old, something new. A hostile response (conveyed with unfailing politeness) to "Calling an End to Empire":

You yourself succinctly state the principle that underlies your article: "... any continued presence overseas should be on the sole prerequisite of 'How does this help England's security?'". This principle can be generalized to give us "Public policy must always put the interests of the majority first"; as you yourself say, "The majority of people under British rule live in the British Isles (indeed, live in England)".

Adherence to your principle would in time cause the disintegration of the nation-state. Northern Ireland & our overseas protectorates go at once; the rest will go in time. However the United Kingdom is divided- geographically, socially, ethnically, however -, every single stratum of society is benefited by policies that are not, in themselves, in the interests of the majority. Resources devoted to protecting the Shetland Islands are not directly in the interests of the majority who do not live on the Shetland Islands; money spent on unemployment benefit is not in the interests of the majority who do not receive unemployment benefit; university education is not in the interests of the majority who do not go to university; & so on (ignoring questions of enlightened self-interest). The trouble is that all these minorities who benefit at the expense of the majority add up collectively, not just to a majority, but to *everyone in the country*. That is the problem with talk of majorities & minorities (a problem that also bedevils the politically correct): everyone is a member of numerous different minorities & majorities, because everyone has numerous different characteristics & circumstances that are shared by varying numbers of people, some by less than 50% of the population (e.g., being left-handed, being black, being intelligent), some by more than 50% of the population (e.g., being female, being able to walk, having somewhere to live). There is no
such thing as "the majority". A majority is a majority *in respect of something*. So to say that we ought to adopt policies in the interests of "the majority" is to doom government to incoherence at best, perversity at worst (in that we may find that the only respect in which there is a majority is that no-one's real interests - most of which are minority interests - are looked after by government).

Let me give you an example: every town in the United Kingdom contains a minority of the country's population. Strategic considerations aside (& they must, after all, be second-order considerations, since we need to decide first *whose* strategic interests are important to us, & that is what we are trying to do now), it is not in the interests of the other towns in the United Kingdom that any particular town should have resources devoted to its protection. And this applies to every town in the United Kingdom. So a properly majoritarian policy would be not to protect any of our towns from attack. Yet that is in no-one's interests. (The same reductio ad absurdum applies to the "double-consent" argument.)

We don't need game theory here. The problem comes when you take what is meant to be a unit - the nation-state - & start picking & choosing which bits of it are important. If the nation-state is to be a unit, & not merely a bundle of dispensable territorities, then every part must be treated as important - important enough that every other part is willing to come to its defence. Of course that means that questions about what the nation-state consists in need to be answered; but it also means that we ought to think very carefully before we decide that any section of the population hitherto regarded as belonging to the nation-state - as British subjects - is cast out. The only good reason seems to me that they want to leave. Otherwise, we are only seeking an excuse for our unwillingness to protect our fellows, & the distinction between not protecting them & getting rid of them begins to look like a convenient & hypocritical fiction. Protecting *any* of our fellows carries a cost, & it is our willingness to bear the cost that marks us as members of a unified society we see as an end in itself, rather than as atomized individuals who see the nation as only a means to our own ends.

I personally have little time for the psycho-babble of game theory (it could be laziness rather than distaste). But I think that the concept of who is English is well defined enough for us.

Something New:

Another response, this time to the column on Son or Star Wars. I like the bit about the web log:

Your web log is a great idea and I hope it becomes a regular feature at soon. Thanks for the link to Free Life Commentary. I was
totally unaware of this journal.

A comment on your piece on missile defense. In light of the history of
America's strategic nuclear weapons, the National Missile Defense being
proposed on this side of the pond is not intended primarily to protect
Americans (not to speak of Japanese, Brits, and Laplanders), but to
intimidate countries like Russia and China.

Between 1945 and 1960 the United States was the only country that had a
large arsenal of atomic bombs and enough long-range bombers to deliver
them. The U.S. used this advantage several times to intimidate Russia
and China. In 1946, the Haberdasher from Independence, Missouri,
threatened to nuke Russia within 48 hours unless it withdrew from northern
Iran. Truman, MacArthur, and Eisenhower threatened Russia and China
repeatedly during the Korean War and the Quemoy/Matsu crises. Secretary of
State Dulles even pressured the French to accept a few nukes to drop on
the Vietnamese surrounding Dien Bien Phu! During this period the U.S.
Air Force conducted many provocative "reconaissance" flights over
Soviet territory, occasionally with nuclear capable bombers. More than
once, the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged the President to launch a
preventive/preemptive nuclear strike, before the Russians developed an ability
to nuke us back. The chief thing that stayed the President's hand was,
first, fear of retaliation by the Red Army in Europe and, later,
retaliation by the small Soviet bomber force.

Between 1960 and te mid-70's, U.S. nuclear war fighting wonks like
Kissinger and Paul Nitze acquiesced in the "MAD" doctrine only because
there was no iron clad guarantee against Russian bombers and ICBM's. Very
accurate silo-busters, whose only possible justification is to launch a
first strike, were conceived during the 70's and 80's. Still, there
remained the risk of surviving and Russian and Chicom bombers and
missiles getting through.

NMD must be viewed with this history in mind. You better believe that
the Russians and Chinese leadership have not forgotten. With the
Russian armed forces now in disarray and the Chinese still far behind us in
strategic and conventional weapons, the nuke warriors over here sense
another window of opportunity, similar to that of '45-'60. A credible
missile defense would enable these humanitarian imperalists to make the
world safe for democracy, with the help of some cruise missiles and
Marines, without worrying that the ingrate beneficiaries might try to
fight back.

The best way to protect Americans (and Brits, Japanese, and Laplanders)
against a nuclear holocaust is for the U.S. to stop such provocative
policies as (i) launching unprovoked attacks against sovereign states
(Iraq, Serbia, etc) (ii) expanding NATO, and (iii) interfering in the
PRC/Taiwan dispute.

Whether we deploy a NMD has little to do with the inexorability of
science but much to do wih politics. What would we say of the man who
constructs a flamethrower to "meet the challenge(nuck warriorese)" of a
parking space dispute with his neigbor? Did the scientific feasibility
of the flamethrower drive him inexorably to deploy it, or some darker

To be honest I don't care why the US wants NMD, as long as Britain is not disadvantaged - that is my sole criterion.

On the other hand I really see no problem in a country wanting the best military technology as long as it does not bankrupt it. If you want peace, prepare for war.


This week has been Ulster week.

Faithful Tribe : The Loyal Institutions by Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth is a bit of an odd bird, a defender of Protestant Irish culture who herself is from an Irish Catholic background. She writes an engaging book on the history of the Orange Order which gets under the skin of this most controversial of institutions, even if the relationship with the present day takes on a rather personal turn as Ruth and her band of "modernisers" (many of whom are not members) take on both the extremists and IRA apologists like Tim Pat Coogan.


The Informer by Sean O'Callaghan

Written and packaged like a spy novel, this is the work of a man who risked his life by infiltrating the IRA as part of the extremely succesful infiltration campaign by the British authorities in the 1980s and early 1990s. It is truly gripping reading although it does get bogged down in some (quite understandable) self justification. This is a good introduction to what the IRA is like, although if you know a bit about the IRA already it will not add much to your picture. Sean O'Callaghan is still under sentance of death from the IRA, even though they are engaged in the "Peace Process".


Loyalists by Peter Taylor

This is an informative book by the author of Provos, a book on the IRA. It tries to find out what the Loyalists were thinking - and does so from a long time journalist who has lived in Northern Ireland for a few decades. It deals with the transition from a hardline Unionist cat's paw, to local anti-IRA militias, to the psychopathic brutality of the Shankhill butchers to the current working class tribunes of moderate Unionism. Peter Taylor tends to downplay the hardline (and criminal) antics of Johnny Adair and the followers of the late Billy Wright. This may be because of the time in which it was written - after Billy Wright's death and before the Shankhill road feud. Any way this is a fairly balanced treatment of some oddly shaped pieces in the Ulster jigsaw.


Your Say

As I now have evidence that three people have read this web log, I would like to point out that you can make suggestions as to what will appear and I am desperate for content (sorry, open to all fresh suggestions). It should broadly be around issues of British Foreign Policy. E-mail me on
Monday, January 22, 2001
Sean Gabb's masterpiece

That prominent British Libertarian Sean Gabb has written a commentary which can be summed up in the following steps:

1) Bureaucrats are the class enemy
2) They must be smashed

It's a lot better than that of course, but you get the drift.

He has some interesting things to say about the culture of the Foreign Office:

Turning to foreign policy, we should work towards isolationism. At first, we might need an understanding with Russia to disappoint what ambitions the European Union still had. We might also find ourselves in dispute with the Americans because of our rejection of all New World Order treaties. But these would not be long term problems. I suggested above that we should abolish the Foreign Office. This is partly because it is a citadel of the Enemy Class with much status at home and abroad, and because those in it have not noticeably advanced any national interest that I can think of during the past hundred years. Setting up a new Foreign Department, with new structures and new personnel, might deprive us of some useful experience, but would give us a more selfish and therefore rational set of relationships with the rest of the world.

He also calls for withdrawing from the European Union, setting Scotland off as an independent country and giving Northern Ireland back to the "Unionist ascendency". Typically moderate stuff, then.

And from the Left

Going to the oposite extreme the New Statesman the magazine that every left winger subscribes to (and fewer read) has a number of pieces on foreign policy, including an interview with the BOSS man, Peter Hain, trying to make out that he really has not sold out. It's sad in a trendy dad type of way. John Pilger is going on about depleted uranium and Iraqi children (they don't mix well). India is in fashion with New Labour, it seems like the old certainties of non-proliferation are crumbling (I really should write an article on the dead end of non-proliferation). There's a good piece on the intentions of the British left in Africa. Its all rather spoilt by a "why I hate the Yanks" essay. BORING
Sunday, January 21, 2001
Thanks to Sam Koritz for proof reading this site. And also thanks for reading it.

A rather technical review of a rather technical book by John Brimelow, brother of Peter. Hidden in it is a gem:

"Dunbar directly asserts, and supports with a detailed discussion, what can only be inferred from Lowenstein: that the Italian authorities in effect hired LTCM to groom or manipulate the Italian bond market, in order to accelerate convergence with the other European Monetary System bond markets and to reduce the Italian government interest burden. This permitted the achievement of the Maastricht criteria and allowed Italy to adopt the Euro."

This Long Term Capital Management gig seems very murky indeed.

An entertaining piece on the overspending of the American military.
The Israeli situation means that we may be sending the SAS to the Middle East. What business do we have there?
Friday, January 19, 2001
Excellent piece from Simon Jenkins on air warefare and the hypocicy of our elites. Highly recommended.
Some response - at last.

My piece on the remnants of the British Empire got three responses. One pro, one anti, one in between:


the only positive I can see in the falklands war was that it brought the lunatic argentinian generals to their knees. for the rest, almost your entire argumentation in favor of closing the books on the falkland component of the British empire (and the other components too), is "spot on" as my British friends like to say.

I believed that we should have fought the war because we should not have been seen to surrender to military force, but that said it's nice to be liked.


You sound as though you have worked for Foreign Office whose motto should be "to appease our enemies by betraying our friends". This of course is an excellent way of maximising enemies and minimising friends. We have been experts at it for several hundred years.

The point I made was that these colonies were hardly in our national interest. Defending the national interest is hardly a speciality of the FCO. (I never worked for them if you're wondering)

In Between

NOOOOO! As a libertarian Yank, the last thing in the world I want to see is the Washington bureaucracy strangling yet more outposts of freedom, however trivial that freedom may be and however minuscule the outposts.

A suggestion: Your objections to British defense of the Falklands -- principally that it costs nearly £40,000 per British subject defended -- are well taken. How about offering the Argentines clear title to British possessions in the Caribbean in exchange for an agreement to take care of the defense of the Falklands (Malvinas) but otherwise to respect British sovereignty there? Argentina is too weak to do nearly as much damage to the customs of a faraway possession as the US would (and the Caribbean is as far from them as the Falklands are from you), but they're strong enough to wreak havoc on the nearby Falklands unless somehow restrained.

Of course, it's been about a decade now since I suggested to President Bush (père) that he resolve the Baltic crisis by offering to trade Gorbachev Lithuania for the District of Columbia. It would have worked out so beautifully, since the inhabitants of DC love socialism as much as the Lithuanians hated it. But he didn't listen either...

You can't fault this for lack of originality, although I doubt I'd be writing for much longer if I said that the US should be entering into defense guarantees in the South Atlantic!

My first citation

Well for the web log any way. From an e-mail newsletter, POIROS - POT POURI OF WHAT MATTERS ON THE NET on the fuel air bomb. I'm chuffed.

There is a more interesting article in there:

BUSINESS FOR SENSIBLE PRIORITIES WRITE BUSH - Business leaders and retired military officers calling for a new approach to defense spending have written an open letter to George W. Bush urging the new president to resist the call of the military-industrial complex for more defense spending. The issue is bad management, not more money. An example: - "Nuclear Warheads. You said it best when you called nuclear weapons "expensive relics of dead conflicts." Yet, America has over 11,000 warheads in its arsenal, costing many billions to maintain annually. Even Pentagon officials have lobbied to cut our nuclear arsenal. Republicans and Democrats agree that America can maintain deterrence with a fraction of the weapons."

It may be a bit left wing, but the letter makes an interesting set of points and is worth a read. It also brings me to one of my personal bugbears - are there a set of non-interventionist special interests waiting to be mobilised? Part of the "leave me alone coalition"?

Surely there must be, but just who benefits from peace?

Thursday, January 18, 2001
Dates for your diary:

Committee for Peace in the Balkans
2001 Public Seminar Series

NATO, the Balkans and the new world order

Tues 30th January
Depleted uranium, NATO’s poisoned legacy
Alice Mahon MP with Catherine Euler, International Depleted Uranium Study Group
joint meeting with Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Tue 13th February
NATO in Europe – what next?
Alice Mahon MP with Peter Gowan, Labour Focus on East Europe

Tue 6th March
Britain’s involvement in US national missile defence
Alice Mahon MP with speakers to be confirmed

All seminars take place:
7pm to 9pm, in Committee Room 15, House of Commons, London SW1

Who Governs?

The stupid and needless prosecution of a greengrocer for selling in imperial measures is being touted as one about whether EU or British law is paramount. I think that this is wrong, although it will just be an entertaining sideshow.

As long ago as 1979 Lord Justice Denning said in McCarthys Ltd v Smith:

"If the time should come when Parliament deliberately passes an Act with the intention of repudiating the Treaty or any provision in t or intentionally acting inconsistently with it and says so in express terms then I should have thought that it would be the duty of our courts to follow the statute of Parliament ... Unless there is such an intentional and express repudiation of the Treaty, it is our duty to give priority to the Treaty."

This was reinforced in the Factortame case (1989) when a later law (made in 1979) was seen as contrary to the
European Communities Act (1972) and was set aside. Although Michael Shrimpton, QC, makes a good and entertaining case that the European Communities Act can be accidentally overridden - the doctrine of the courts is obviously different. Steve Thorburn has to
meet a tougher test - was the weights and measure act intended to over-ride the European Communities Act. I'm afraid that this will be very much harder.

So in short, if Thorburn loses this will not be proving EU law to be superior to British Law, it will not be a statement that Britain can not leave the European Union on a Parliamentary vote. It will leave the law exactly where it was.

Of course if Thorburn wins this case, it will be a statement that EU law is the same as any other law and will cause minor havoc for our membership of the EU. It is therefore devoutly to be hoped for.

I also understand that the judgement will be read out on April 9, less than a month before the widely expected election.

The Congo Rises

The death of the Congo strongman Laurent Kabila brought out a strange statement from our Foreign Office. It's not the content that is so strange, a call for stability, peace and a UN peacekeeping force - but the idea that we have any business there in the first place.
Monday, January 15, 2001
Little response to my column on withdrawing from the last vestiges of Empire. So far, in fact, it's been limited to one response, which I reproduce in full:

If you're actually British, I'll eat my laptop

There you are, 100% negative feedback. (I doubt I'll get a gastronomic report).

Indeed what is funny is the idea that to hold certain views you must not have certain genes, or must not have been born at a certain latitude. Whatever happened to the idea of thinking things through one's self?

Saturday, January 13, 2001

In the antiwar club there is some so-so criticism of my column on the British Peace Movement. If it seems like its missing the point, it may well be, as the writer is an inactive American supporter of the IRA and so has an obvious difference with my views on Ireland, something he rather dwells on (not exactly the centrepiece of this column). The only telling point is when he comments on the fact that the British want the Americans out of Ireland, yet we were desperate for them to join in the Second World War, where they had no real interest.
Sovereignty and Liberty. Italy wants foreign net sites shut down if they contravene Italian law, lending a bit more credence to the liberty needs sovereignty argument.

NATO brings democracy in Bosnia. Unless you criticise it.

The Spectator poo-poos depleted uranium.

Some interesting stuff from Alan Bock on Northern Ireland. My views on Northern Ireland are rather tougher, and I don't view Paisley as akin to Gerry Adams - peddling hate is a far lesser crime than peddling violence.

What I've been reading

The Balkans : Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1809-1999 by Misha Glenny

This is a very well written history of the various Balkan nations. It's central premise is that Balkans political history is a lot easier to understand than it seems at first glance. Its the sort of book that lets you feel that not only do you know more, but now you understand more as well. One of the good things that he does is that he pays full attention to the under-reported Macedonian question, and its relation to Bulgaria - one of the many loose ends in this war like region. Similarly he puts Northern Greece into the Balkan picture when people think of the non-slavonic NATO member as something seperate from the Balkans.


Clive, the life and death of a British Emperor by Robert Harvey

The conquest of India by the East India Company is probably the birth of the Leninist falacy that large scale imperialism can turn a profit. In the end, of course the East India company was wound up and the British state found itself with an economic and strategic liability which (together with Australasia) almost cost it the Second World War. Putting such minor quibbles aside there was obviously some fascinating history in there to be dug out and one of the most fascinating actors in this was Robert Clive, the victor of Plassey and the model for a moderately common English christian name.

The author himself is refreshingly untouched by the angst of academic historians who too often are fed with the progressive banalities of university history. To Mr Harvey the pre 1832 British constitution had its real strengths, although he does hold an exagerated horror for the Industrial Revolution. His strength is that the book never strays far from the subject of Clive, although one gets the feeling that he ignores certain questions as to whether the English would find themselves overstretched, or whether India would ever repay the nation the investment that was put into it. Mr Harvey's sympathies for Clive stop being original about a third of the way into the book and grate towards the end. One gets the feeling of sleepwalking into Empire. A good book for those who prefer novels to history.


Jingo : A Discworld Novel, by Terry Pratchett

I must admit to be a Terry Pratchett fan. Terry Pratchett, to those who don't know him writes funny novels based on a fantasy world, known as the discworld with dwarves, gnomes, trolls and all those mythical creatures that Dungeons & Dragons gamers used to go on about. Discworld is light relief for Star Trek fans, although don't let that put you off too much, they are genuinely funny. They are also surprisingly topical.

Basically the gloriously corrupt and unruly city of Ankh-Mopork is working itself into a lather about a war crisis with the very exotic country of Klatch over an island that technically never existed with their only hope resting on a flat footed police force masterminded by the brutally realistic Lord Vetinari. As a gentle parody on some of the lunacies of war fever, it is worth reading. It is not one of the best of Terry Pratchett's books, but it still had me laughing aloud.

Depleted Uranium

This is from the club, in response to a query about depleted uranium:

Yes, it will make you sick, John, just not from your dentist's equipment.

Here is what I have learned.

Uranium comes in 3 isotopes, U-234, U-235, and U-238. U-234 and U-235 are both radioactive and unstable, will undergo beta and alpha decay and turn into other elements, and both occur in very small percentage naturally. U-238 is not radioactive and is stable.

All uranium comes with some percentage of U-234 and U-235, U-234 being even small percentage than U-235.

Enriched Uranium is high in U-235 and highly radioactive. The richness of Uranium is graded for different uses, nuclear reactor, nuclear weapons, etc.

When Uranium is less than 0.7% in U-235, it is classified as DEPLETED URANIUM, but that does NOT mean that it is not radioactive, its radioactivity is just less.

Your dentist probably has equipment with thin films of DU-oxide. It's one of the general uses. However, all such uses of DU require additional layers of ceramic coatings to avoid "contamination".

In fact, some radiologists use think DU slabs to calibrate their radiation detectors.

The myth of DU, as some governments have said in public: Because DU has <0.7% in U-235, which is less than U-235 in natural Uranium, it's not bad.

Fact: Natural uraniums do not come in antitank slugs and do not explode into burnted dust particles to be inhaled either.

According to medical scientists, a standard DU slab of only 7mg/cm^2, gives off 200-230 mrad/hr in beta particles. That's a very thin layer of DU. Considering the DU bullets, which weighs what, at least 1-2 grams?, in a area or volume of less than 2-5 cm^3? That would be in 100's of rad/hr.

Fact 2: Your dentist doesn't let you swallow or inhale the DU either.

When in direct contact with biological tissue, skin, lung, stomach, intestine, etc., DU will emit additional (and more lethal) alpha radiation.

Alpha radiation is typically blocked by thin ceramic films in dental equipment.

Additionally, Uranium is a heavy metal, and chemically toxic if ingested or inhaled.

In summary, DU bullets are dangerous because (1) they are DU in high centration, (2) they come into direct contact with humans.
Friday, January 12, 2001
So? In an otherwise good piece in the National Review Steven Greenhut who writes for the Orange County Register says of his literary victim:

Norman Solomon spoke in 1999 at an conference. Does that mean he must carry the burden of every view that ever appears on that website?

Burden? Just what is he getting at?

Echelon, scmechelon. An interesting article on Echelon saying that it's all overblown largely because of the enormous amount of communication that goes on in the world. I made the same point, some time ago.

Why are the Beeb so smug? They are reporting the Czech TV strike as if it's the moral equivalent of the anti-communist demonstrations. Look the government put in a rich man, with little cultural merit who gave a large amount of money to the ruling party. A bit like Greg Dyke really.

Paleo-Conned. I have been taken to task for using the term paleo-conservative, when my correspondant believes I should have used the term "real conservative". I tend to agree that the paleo-cons are closer to conservatism as it should be coherantly understood (at least for Americans) but I will keep my house style of calling them paleo-conservatives as this leads to less confusion. This should always be the first rule of writing.

Don't trust those Tories. My piece on the British peace movement also drew some flack, on the idea of placing faith in the Tories. As if I'd place faith in any bunch of people who want to gain power! I don't have any faith in any of them, just a cynical belief that some of them can be used.

Hoon extracts the urine. Hague may be wrong on this son of star wars, or at least Britain's participation, but Geoff Hoon's reasons for rebuking him are truly stupid. Hoon's argument (amid the hysterical epiphets that seem to be coming regularly from Labour thesedays) is that we should not have a debate on anything until the full details come along. What, we shouldn't debate an issue until we know the small print? How New Labour. Obviously it has nothing to do with the fact that the Foreign Office is against it, the PM is for it and the Ministry of Defence is sitting in the middle.
Such nice people

This article below comes from the Intelligence Digest of the European Foundation.

I. Fishy Fischer – and other German developments

One of Europe’s "most original thinkers"

This was how Joschka Fischer has been described by the Europhiles in the Financial Times, because of the super-federalist proposals for the future of Europe which he presented "in a personal capacity" to the Humboldt University in Berlin last May.

This admiration has persisted in spite of the fact that attention has been increasingly devoted this week in Germany to Mr. Fischer’s past as a street hoodlum and violent extreme left-wing agitator. The judicial authorities in Frankfurt have been presented with new evidence about a demonstration in 1976 in which a policeman was severely injured in a fire bomb attack. Although Fischer is not currently wanted for questioning, he took part in and organised the demonstration, to protest against the suicide of Ulrike Meinhof, the demonstrators’ idol who they claimed had been killed in prison. As such, Fischer could be liable for prosecution for sharing responsibility for the attack. He was detained at the time of the demonstration but released shortly afterwards.

Fischer has always claimed that he had nothing to do with the Molotov cocktail. But one of the policemen against whom the attack was directed has said that he considers the former street fighter and current foreign minister to be "morally responsible" for what happened. This is because the suspicion remains that, the day before the demo, Fischer called for Molotov cocktails to be used. The policeman says it is irrelevant whether he then actually threw one or not. "For me," he said, "it was a murderous attack on our lives and that does not pass away with time." Fischer claims in an interview with the Spiegel magazine – which shows pictures of Fischer beating a policeman in 1973 - that he never called for the use of fire bombs.

The pictures also show Fischer fighting side by side with Hans-Joachim Klein, the former terrorist and accomplice of Carlos the Jackal who is currently on trial in Frankfurt for murder thanks to his role in an attack on an OPEC meeting in Vienna in 1975, in which Klein is accused of having murdered three men. Fischer is an old friend of Klein’s and is due to appear in court as a witness on 16th January.

Fischer’s claims that he had nothing to do with the Molotov cocktails have been rejected by two people in the know. The former left-wing extremist and biographer of Fischer, Christian Schmidt, has said, "There is only one man who could have avoided the predictable disaster and that man was the man who directed the discussion, Comrade Fischer personally. But he seemed not to care and called for the use of the wonder weapon." Even more dramatic have been the accusations against Fischer by the daughter of his former idol Ulrike Meinhof, Bettina Röhl. Ms Röhl has accused Fischer of calling for the use of Molotov cocktails. She has written an open letter to the president of the Republic, accusing Mr. Fischer of attempted murder. She alleges that the Molotov cocktail attacks were specifically planned by Fischer as a protest against what the extreme left was convinced was Ulrike Meinhof’s murder. [La Repubblica, 9th January 2001]
Wednesday, January 10, 2001
Sea Lanes

It wasn't my fault, honest guv.

A poor correspondant managed to stumble on to one of my armchair strategist's obsessions :

Dear Sir,

As a university student studying Britain and Europe i would be interested to hear of your views on Britain and Europe. In your article, Britain's Death Wish, you proclaim that the union is dead. The union has certainly changed, but i disagree that it is dead. The West Lothian question must be resolved to make the union fair, but why do you believe that England will eventually be independent?

You proudly proclaim that England has the highest perecent of GDP and resources, which is undoubtedly correct, but Britain benefitted in the 19th century and still does today from Scottish science and engineering, to name but a few.

Towards the end of your article it seems that you are still living in the 18th and 19th century. So what if scotland gained control of the
northern sea lanes. France is not our enemy anymore and Scotland is no longer strategically important. What exactly do you mean when you say that "The last thing that the English need is a French or European base to their north". 'French', what are you talking about?

From your article, and others, it is clear that you are anti-Europe and strongly pro-English. Do you not think it is possible to be
pro-English, pro-British and pro-European? It is clear when examing the world power balances that economic and, to some extent, military blocs are emerging. Britain, or England, is no longer a great power and it seems that she is only just hanging on the 'middle' power level. Just look at the state of British manufacturing today. Integration in Europe will not just bring economic benefits, but also military and political. By military and political i don't just mean integration, but the prevention of European wars that have been so damaging in the past.

Please write back and explains exactly what you mean by a 'French or European' base.

Well it seems innocent, I'm rarely bothered with hostile tones in my e-mails. Hell, the fact they write to you (and read a number of your columns) is flattery enough. Well, I started boring him, especially around the part that said "So what if scotland gained control of the northern sea lanes." Poor thing:

"In your article, Britain's Death Wish, you proclaim
that the union is dead. The union has certainly
changed, but i disagree that it is dead."

OK, how about in its last stages?

"The West Lothian question must be
resolved to make the union fair,"

How? Except by an equally federal structure, or
independence, this is impossible. What is the point
of an equally federal structure if England is a
component part (85% of the population sort of rules
out equality)? If the federation is to include the
new Euro regions it would cause massive resentment.
Are there really people out there who view themselves
as "South Easterners" or "East Midlanders"?

"but why do you believe that England will eventually
be independent?"

Because England has less control but pays a larger
proportion of the bill. This does not matter when the
majority party in both England and the UK are the same
but it could change even (and I know that this is
unlikely) in the next few months.

"You proudly proclaim that England has the highest
perecent of GDP and resources, which is undoubtedly

Not pride, but fact.

"but Britain benefitted in the 19th century and still
does today from Scottish science and engineering, to
name but a few."

Yes, but this is not a compelling reason for keeping
paying for Easterside or Highland agricultural
subsidies. Some of the brightest Scots come to London
because the wages are higher, the prospects are better
and everyone speaks English. With the disolution of
the union these facts will not change.

"Towards the end of your article it seems that you
are still living in the 18th and 19th century."

If only! Seriously, many of the strategic problems of
the 18th and 19th centuries are still with us.

"So what if scotland gained control of the northern
sea lanes."

Ah, the crux of the matter. You really should not ask
this question if you do not wish to be bored rigid.

Basically England is on an island, and England's
various geographical advantages mean that she has a
larger and more prosperous population than Scotland
and Wales (and Ireland - but we won't go into that) -
a population that in strategic terms she can fairly
easily dominate. That is until you put other big
European powers into the picture, hence the eternal
Scotish obsession with the French alliance.

Anyway back to the island nation stuff. As England is
essentially an island nation, she is rather well
placed in any war because of the sea. It's all the
stuff about sieges. Before gunpowder a castle or a
city could withstand a siege for years if necesary,
the only things that could stop it would be treachery
or starvation (I include disease in this as this was
often exarcabated by malnutrition). So in effect any
war which England is involved in usually becomes a
siege of sorts.

Now Britain long ago stopped being able to feed
itself. So if the country is under siege, it will
need to be able to keep starvation at bay through
massive food imports (war materials are also needed as
well). Here come in the sea lanes. If these are
blocked for whatever reason then England quickly goes
to its knees. Hence the need for the sea lanes. It
must also be pointed out that any invasion will come
through the sea, so the sea lanes need to be kept
clear for that obvious reason.

So which sea lanes are important? The English Channel
for obvious reasons, that's what the Battle of Britain
was about, but this is hardly going to be a supply
route. The Atlantic as far as it leads to South West
England, but this is at the mercy of any continental
foe. Then there are the "Northern sea lanes", which
in any war would be vital for feeding England.

Do you know understand why these are so important in
British strategic thinking? Don't take my word for
it, just look at the enormous amount of naval bases in
Scotland. I can assure you that they are not there to
take advantage of the spectacular scenery, cheap land
or skilled workforce.

"France is not our enemy anymore"

Not today. But this is a long term game, and if one
wants peace one must be prepared for war. We must
assume no permanent friends or enemies.

Think back sixty years, and how different things on
the international stage were then. Also think about
how the pace of change is hotting up. Now think
forward sixty years, are you sure that the basics of
the alliance system will be in place?

France MAY not be hostile over the next century, but
neither you nor I can guarantee that with utter
certainty that they will not be hostile.

"Scotland is no longer strategically important."

See above. You can take it I disagree with this.

"What exactly do you mean when you say that
"The last thing that the English need is a French or
European base to their north". 'French', what are you
talking about?"

It's back to being an island. If Scotland were
independent and there was no contintental involvement
in Great Britain then England would have little to
worry about. If France (or any other power - I am
using France because of the close historical
relationship with Scotland) was hostile to the UK,
then we would not want them to set foot in Scotland.

"it is clear that you are anti-Europe"

I prefer anti-EU. I quite like the continent of

"and strongly pro-English."

Culturally, I am mildly pro-English. I am just a
strong believer that nations should act in their own

"Do you not think it is possible to be pro-English,
pro-British and pro-European?"

I believe that this is a position that is harder to
hold consistently and honestly. It used to be
perfectly plausible, but with changing world
circumstances it is becoming more and more threadbare.

"It is clear when examing the world power balances
that economic and, to some extent, military blocs are

And disolving. The common threat that held NATO
together has disapeared. And this, to some extent,
was also the threat that held the UK in the EEC (as

On the economic front, I believe that a system of
unilateral free trade would do more to lift living
standards and encourage efficiency than any number of
trade blocs. This may mean that some of our exports
are penalised but the cheaper goods (and the ability
to set our own economic policy) would benefit us far
more than any lowering of tarrifs to the French

"Britain, or England, is no longer a great power and
it seems that she is only just hanging on the 'middle'
power level."

True, but this does not preclude an independent
foreign or economic policy.

"Just look at the state of British manufacturing


"Integration in Europe will not just bring economic
benefits, but also military and political. By military
and political i don't just mean integration, but the
prevention of European wars that have been so damaging
in the past."

Most European wars in the last 200 years seem to have
been fought to further European union.

I actually think that a federated Europe will be more
of a threat to peace. An interesting exercise would
be to try and look back at all the cases of voluntary
political union among various previously independent
nations, and try to find one where there was not a
civil war that followed on from it (voluntary
disolutions are obviously not allowed).

There is one example, which I'll let you find for
yourself, but every other federation has ended up in a
civil or pseudo-civil war as the union aims to exert
its influence over the still powerful constituent

>Please write back and explains exactly what you mean
by a 'French or European' base."

I hope I've done that

So the poor sap wrote back:

Dear Sir,

Thankyou for your reply, it makes interesting reading.

Although one day you may be right, and England will become independent, i just can't help but refuse to accept your sea lanes arguement. You don't have to reply to this again by the way if you don't want to.

Let's just say for arguements sake that England was at war with some continental power, or even Scotland. (This is to say that the EU, Nato, and the 'Special Relationship' with the US would all have had to have dissapeared to make this possible; not to mention the lessons learnt from two devastating world wars).

For the northern sea lanes to be inaccessable to us, Scotland would have to be hostile or unfriendly to say the least. If Scotland refused to allow passage of English ships then surely our Navy would force the issue. If not the navy then English land forces and nuclear weapons would certainly persuade access. On the possibility of a foreign power 'setting foot' in Scotland, surely English troops would quickly secure Scotland before this happened.

But this scenario just seems so implausable. Britain and France were enemies because we were both world powers in the 18th and 19th centuries, both scrambling for empire. At that time we had the resources to remain world powers and to go to war with each other. Today this is just not possible, and don't forget the nuclear deterrent which both countries posess. Economic trends suggest that the future economic and military powers are Asian countries, Japan and China. Indeed, conflict with China is the real possibility, not from France.

Why would France and Britain want to go to war with each other anyway, there is absolutely no reason for it. There is just no economic or strategic reason for it.

Having studied in depth the Napoleonic wars, the First World War and Second World war; i fully understand the importance of sea lanes and the Scottish naval bases. We still have naval bases in scotland, although their size and strength has been reduced considerably, because of the possible threat from Russia. That is why they are there. They are part of NATO, guarding the northern flank. And why do you think our Navy is being reduced considerably, because it is not really needed.

I seriously suggest that you read Paul Kennedy's Rise and fall of the Great Powers which lays out the real military and economic concerns of the 21st century

Well, I did write back:

"Thankyou for your reply, it makes interesting reading."

I can but try.

"Although one day you may be right, and England will become independent, i just can't help but refuse to accept your sea lanes arguement. You don't have to reply to this again by the way if you don't want to.

Let's just say for arguements sake that England was at war with some continental power, or even Scotland. "

Good, you are arguing from the assumptions of the article, which you obviously understand.

"(This is to say that the EU, Nato, and the 'Special Relationship' with the US would all have had to have dissapeared to make this possible; not to mention the lessons learnt from two devastating world wars)."

These things may happen.

"For the northern sea lanes to be inaccessable to us, Scotland would have to be hostile or unfriendly to say the least. "

Yes, and this is a very big threat to England during a war (although Ireland's neutrality during the war caused its own headaches). It is the biggest argument against letting Scotland going independent. But you know my views on that.

"If Scotland refused to allow passage of English ships then surely our Navy would force the issue. If not the navy then English land forces and nuclear weapons would certainly persuade access."

2 Points.

1 - This is not really a welcome distraction (the US and UK thought about invading Ireland during WWII but held back.

2 - What if the other power had naval, land or nuclear forces?

"On the possibility of a foreign power 'setting foot' in Scotland, surely English troops would quickly secure Scotland before this happened."

One would hope so. But if England and Scotland were at peace what would the English be able to do about foreign bases - especially if they were built gradually and innofensively?

It is for this reason that we have to state publicly that foreign forces in Scotland (or Wales, or Ireland) would be a threat to our security and dealt with as such.

"But this scenario just seems so implausable. Britain and France were enemies because we were both world powers in the 18th and 19th centuries, both scrambling for empire."

True to a point. But England and France were also enemies because they were in such close proximity and also because France wanted to control Europe which Britain (unwisely in my opinion) oposed.

"At that time we had the resources to remain world powers and to go to war with each other. Today this is just not possible, "

War can be fought between very poor 3rd world countries (look at Eritrea and Ethiopia), so resources are not really the issue.

But what if Europe federated and for whatever reason Britain refused? Is that so implausible? Could there be a replay of an American Civil War?

"and don't forget the nuclear deterrent which both countries posess. "

Which sort of lays the lie to neither side possessing the resources necesary to wage war.

"Economic trends suggest that the future economic and military powers are Asian countries, Japan and China. "

Fair enough, but these countries hardly affect any of our vital national interests, or we their's. The same can not be said of our neighbours.

"Indeed, conflict with China is the real possibility, not from France."

Distance, dear boy, distance. It is a possibility, but as long as we keep a sense of proportion we will not end up in a scrap with these guys. Of course nothing is certain, and we may get embroiled through our alliance with the USA but it is far less likely than a war with a European power.

"Why would France and Britain want to go to war with each other anyway, there is absolutely no reason for it. There is just no economic or strategic reason for it."

An independent Britain or England could be an incredibly irritating presence to a United Europe.

"Having studied in depth the Napoleonic wars, the First World War and Second World war; i fully understand the importance of sea lanes and the Scottish naval bases. We still have naval bases in scotland, although their size and strength has been reduced considerably, because of the possible threat from Russia. That is why they are there. They are part of NATO, guarding the northern flank. "

They are important, then?

"And why do you think our Navy is being reduced considerably, because it is not really needed."

I think the naval reductions, especially with the disproportionate effect they are having on protecting British sea lanes, are remarkably short sighted. We should have cut the long term offensive capacity before cutting closer to home. Instead they are increasing our offensive fleet at the expense of our defensive capacity.

As you may expect, I oppose this.

"I seriously suggest that you read Paul Kennedy's Rise and fall of the Great Powers which lays out the real military and economic concerns of the 21st century."

I read it quite a while ago. While it is quite good on the need for economic vitality, I believe that it seriously underestimates the strategic questions like Sea Lanes. It also assumes that the future will be global, as it had been since the second world war, and gives no convincing reason for why the East Asian powers should come to Europe (this is especially so if China and Japan renew their rivalry in earnest).

I would suggest that you read Correlli Barnet (although you have probably done this already) especially the Collapse of British Power. Although I strongly disagree on his Europhile tendancies - or his belief that we need to take a pro-active view of the European balance of power, he looks at British decision through the unforgiving angle of national interest.

"Thankyou for your time taken to discuss this issue with me, and happy new year."

Happy new year.

To date my poor correspondant has not written back, my e-mails obviously bored him to death.

The question is, am I wrong? Is my obsession with the sea lanes really out of date?
Postbox time

Can you help?

This came up in my postbox this week from the good people at the Committee for Peace in the Balkans:

Dear friends,

Attached is e-mail from Michele Collon, a journalist that I met in Belgrade and who is very dedicated to our cause. I know that Michele has made a powerful presentation of the dramatic conditions in Kosovo and we should help him by supporting his efforts. Michele has already suggested ways as to how he should be helped, therefore LET AS UNITE AND HELP HIM.


----- Original Message -----
From: Michel Collon
Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2000 3:08 PM
Subject: TV documentary on Kosovo: can you help?

Dear friends,

I just come back from Kosovo where I shooted images for a TV documentary (50 minutes or more) about the situation of Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo today. I was helped by very good and courageous profesionals there. We now have 450 minutes of very good interviews in Betacam.
This situation is dramatic and is not improving although there is now another government in Belgrade. On the contrary. Two weeks before, the representative of Belgrade was almost killed by a bomb. Many assistents of Rugova are also targets. Some Albanians I interviewed believe a civil war will occur in the next years. Between Albanians.
I interviewed many ordinary Serbs: old people beaten, expelled from villages or houses, doctors, nuns, journalists, teachers and children in the schools, theatre actors, families of kidnapped or murdered persons…
I also interviewed representative of other national minorities : Goranis, Roms, Moslims, Egyptians, Turks, Jewish. Expelled or living under terror. The situation in the ghettos is really terrible.
1200 Serbs were kidnapped and I received documents showing how KFOR (NATO) does not really investigate to find them neither the perpetrators.
I also interviewed a responsible of the civil Unmik administration whose opinions are very significant.

How can you help?
1. Do you know profesionals - producer and and mounter - who coule help me? We have no money but we believe it is our duty to communicate the truth all over the world about this Nato occupation.
2. Can you help to make translated versions in different languages? The interviews are in Serb (or Albanian and English), and will be translated to French)?
3. Can you help for the circulation of the film (I believe it would be good to present it for the second anniversay of the war)?

Please contact me. All suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance!

-- Michel Collon

Don't hate the media, be the media.

Michel's e-mail is

It's nice to be noticed:

I also got this in response to my two articles on the British peace movement (I and II):

I read your two recent articles on the UK peace movement on with great interest.

I've been involved in the UK peace movement for the last couple of years, mainly over the Kosovo war.

I would very much like to help start something with a more right-wing perspective; I think there is a lot of untapped goodwill out there looking for a focus.

I too am not sure where to start, but I still thought it worthwhile to express my interest.

A big question

Another correspondant asked:

I read the second part of your article on the British Peace Movement. Do you think you could get Tories to agree to the demand: US out of NATO unless National Missile Defense is cancelled and depleted uranium no longer deployed?

Short answer, no.

What is the point of this web log?

You may well ask. I write a weekly column on British Foreign Policy, based on the pretext that Britain will be a better place if we stop getting so entangled. Well, it's been going well but I often find myself behind on the events, so I thought I'd try this. A bit of instant reportage, sort of.

I suppose it now gives me less excuse for falling behind on the events (for example I've said nothing on the depleted uranium scandal, which I really should).

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