Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Zim Watch

The police are still harrasing Tsvangarai. They've also arrested two other key MDC workers (including one with the glorious name of Welshman Ncube). The US has denounced this all.

The MDC have had two rallies banned, while the MDC have called for the international observers to close down the "war veterans". There's another allegation of a murder of an MDC activist.

On the video plot, the journalist behind the original documentary is standing by his story. There has been some commentary on this from the excellent Natalie Solent. She points to an interview with the set up artist, as if this exonerates Tsvangarai. I don't think it does. Tsvangarai did discuss a coup, and unless the full video shows that there was a 180 degree difference between that and the edited highlights - then he's done something wrong. He was set up, but this seems to have been embellished rather than invented. I do hope I'm wrong. Mrs Solent is an English Catholic with a good sense of history, so I'd say that this was more Guy Fawkes than Titus Oates.

Namabia claims that the violence is "exagerated".

Harare is in desperate economic straights, and food shortages are becoming critical and debt analysts slam the government.
My improvement on, Christopher Montgomery's latest tour de force really should be read. I know it's rather unsporting to take out the best piece wholesale, but here goes. On the threats that the Star Wars shield is meant to prevent:

How do we, nutso loser state accomplish this quite dazzlingly incomprehensible goal (for one minute would an advocate of NMD set forth why the nuts would want to do this, what they would actually gain from it, other than actualization of their echt or ur-nuttiness? You know I'm beginning to suspect that this 'nutty' explanation is all a bit fishy . . .) given: we're oh so very poor, and, well, nutty? Do our nutty scientists invent atomic weaponry, and then inter-continental ballistic missile technology to boot? Doubtless, for otherwise NMD would be a pretty daft expenditure by the hated Yanquis. Heaven knows how Congress would account for the money spent if we developed non-atomic weapons of mass destruction, which might, who knows, be easier to manufacture and deploy. Still, we're a nation of irrational fruitloops, we're not going to go down that route. It's nukes or nothing. Though . . . and here it comes, super simple point, so easily understood it's Condolezzable: whilst we might well build ourselves a nice little atomic bomb, and we might very well look up New York on a map, why on earth should we deliver it by means of an ICBM? Being nuts and all, why don't we just put it on a yacht, or on the back of a lorry driven up from Mexico (thank goodness for NAFTA), or any way other than the one which possibly, just concievably might be prey to NMD? Only one thing can explain our attraction to ICBMs – we're . . . well we're not quite right in the head, are we?

The rest of the essay is almost as good, but I did like the extract above.

Now I will dissent, apart from the fact that I like Ms Rice (although Mark Steyns assertion that she's drop dead gorgeous is pretty odd). If I were American I would actually be for the Missile Shield, and for good isolationist reasons:

1) It would mean that the homeland could be defended whilst having to worry even less what other countries think. This would mean that the interventionists' assertion that America has to care about what other countries are up to would sound even more hollow.

2) The development of the missile shield will take away military resources from conventional military endeavours, like foreign garrisons.

3) It is worth avoiding millions of innocent deaths if at all possible.

OK the last of these is not an isolationist case, but it is still valid.

It is also perfectly plausible to support nuclear deployments in the 1980s and the missile defence shield today. It is simply wanting to have the highest level of weapons technology.

However, not being American, I'll look at this from the perspective of blighty. The deployment of NMD should be resisted. It is conceivable that there could be concessions that would outweigh the increased risk incumbent on siting of functional parts of the machine without its protection. American support for breaking up the EU, the substitution of British troops for Americans in every non-European theatre, the immediate disbanding of NORAID. That's just a start. But no American regime would pay that price. We are not that valuable in their plans. However we are giving away our assets for free.

The technological rush that we should be engaging in is not to prevent missiles launching, but rebuilding our own nuclear deterrent. It is an open secret that British missiles rely on American positioning technology. Compared to Star Wars that should be a cinch.
Tuesday, February 26, 2002


I'm getting increasing attention from Google recently, but I get a far lower proportion of silly hits than anyone else does, but how does one explain the German version of google showing me up for White House Dinner?
The Mital Affair & the National Interest.

Obviously the excuses offered by the government for this flagrant bit of back-scratching are not to be taken seriously. Nonetheless, they are instructive of the kind of conception of the national interest New Labour imagines people can be persuaded to believe in. Unsurprisingly, it is impossibly broad. Lubricating a deal in Romania on behalf of a foreign tycoon is held to be in Britain's interests on the grounds that Britain is a trading nation keen to do trade in Eastern Europe, a nation that will benefit more from that trade the more prosperous Eastern Europe becomes. Leaving aside the obvious point that there was another deal on the table that might have benefited Romania just as much as the Mital one, even leaving aside the respects in which Mital is acting in a way directly opposed to British interests, there are objections of principle to be made here. Insofar as international free trade is important to Britain, we are more likely to benefit from it when other countries' prosperity is increased in the usual way - i.e., through the operations of the market. Governments are notoriously bad at picking winners even in their own countries, let alone thousands of miles away. And insofar as international free trade is not quite as important to Britain as some would have us believe (80% or whatever it is of our trade is domestic), our government's time would be better spent on fostering the conditions in which domestic trade can flourish. But most importantly, the Mital principle implies that (ceteris paribus) anything that benefits another country benefits Britain. Why then distinguish between foreign & domestic affairs at all? Because the Mital principle is a nonsense. Success in one country does not automatically breed success in every other: very often that success is purchased at the expense of somebody else's. Or was the Mital deal also in the interests of the French?

Afghan Capers

It seems that the Brits and Americans are training different armies, and neither has much connection with the central government. Meanwhile the government break their promise to only be in Afghanistan for three months. The Turks are rather sensibly having second thoughts. Meanwhile Afghanistan is being taken off the list of drug growing countries. Its because the Taliban suppressed opium poppy cultivation, while the new guys...

Zim Watch

Well at least someone's hopeful of a free and fair vote, although his observers aren't so sure.

The main news is this treason charge. The US have blasted it, and one British paper predicts that Tsvangarai will be snuffed. The Guardian claims that Zimbabweans don't believe it.
Monday, February 25, 2002

Zim Watch

Will Mugabe do a runner? If he is contemplating it, it would be due to an opposition win, indicating that the opposition have a chance of winning, indicating that although Mugabe is up to some unsavoury tricks, the polls may be free by African standards.

Now is there any truth to the allegations that Tsvangarai was plotting to assasinate Mugabe? The government is saying that this was all Morgan's idea, the opposition say that it was total fraud. How about a third way, that this was an entrapment? Tsvangarai was lured into this by Mugabe's buddies, but actually contemplated a coup - even if not as explicitely as his edited comments imply?

The British deny any involvement.

This means that Mugabe is a nasty piece of work, in that he tries the Guy Fawkes trick, but we all know he's capable of that. It would also mean that Tsvangarai is not guilty in law. But it would mean that Tsvangarai is no saint. Now that's not what our media tells us to think, is it?

No European

Gee, thanks. That excellent Unqualified Offerings plugs me. I want to stress what a valuable site it has become. Chiefly, Airstrip One has become the best source for links on the situation in Afghanistan. He even goes on to say that I'm not anti-American, something that friends and enemies alike both miss.

He does however say that I'm a European, of which I do not like to be reminded. It's not my fault I live on this continental shelf.

I'm usually rather wary of using language for political purposes, but
it may be an idea for both isolationists and Anglosphere-icals (or whatever they call themselves) to start referring to the French, Germans and other heirs to the Holy Roman Empire as "Continentals" rather than "Europeans" - hence automatically isolating Britain as an island offshore. This would by happy coincidence stop the linguistic confusion that conflates two proud but culturally, historically and geographically seperate traditions.
Sunday, February 24, 2002
A wonderfully barking article from Mark Steyn. Some little gems:

The ‘axis of evil’ is actually a pretty sophisticated construct.

That's not really the problem is it? The problem is that in response to one problem - an international terrorist network - you produce a different enemy. One (Iraq) has less connection with Al Qaeda than, ooh, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia; another (North Korea) is an atheist state with no tradition of Islam; and the third (Iran) had been on the opposite side of a proxy war with Al Qaeda within Afghanistan since before George Bush had learned the name of the president of Pakistan.

The problem with the axis of evil is that it is too sophisticated. Overly simplistic suggestions like "get Bin Laden and get out" would actually be a bit more popular.

I find it slightly perplexing to have my colleague Matthew Parris characterising my support for America’s war as in some way unBritish.

Well of course it could be portrayed as traditionally British in the sense of Charles II in relation to Louis XIV. When you have such a long history you have so many role models to choose from. But patriotic? No.

Zim Watch

Foreign journalists have been arrested for illegal entry. Police fire tear gas at Morgan Tsvangirai’s convoy, and soldiers allegedly assault MDC activists for postering. Kofi Annan and Jesse Jackson call for a fair vote, they're quivering in their boots in Harare. Mugabe calls for a Catholic archbishop to resign.

The man behind the allegations of the assasination plot against Mugabe earns a hostile profile. Business Day in South Africa documents how the state run media and the opposition controlled "independent" media are mirroring each other in character assassination and vitriol. I must say that in the last couple of months that the independent press has become far more partisan, even if it is still miles ahead of the state run media, and is only a moderately reliable source.

The independent (opposition supporting) media have claimed that the EU sanctions will actually hurt the poor more than the Mugabe regime.

The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development has blamed the IMF and World Bank for Zimbabwe's mess. I'm not sure of their status, or whether they are a Zanu front group (perfectly plausible). Meanwhile the UN have claimed that the Zimbabwean army is exploiting timber in the Congo.

Victim Disarmament

One of my bug bears, gun control, is dealt with by Simon Heffer. He actually talks about the state "failing". The foreign policy angle is not covered (armed militias and all that), but it is an article that should be pointed out any way.

Odd Revolt

I'm sure that to become a Liberal Democrat MP you must have your sense of shame surgically removed: Lib Dem MPs 'plan euro revolt'. What else are they going to give up? "Kennedy speaks out agains Proportional Representation".

Any way it would be a very welcome development, so one shouldn't scoff too much. And this after Labour MPs warned that they would be against entry. If even the Lib Dems aren't going to united in supporting this, how does the Government hope to get it through.

It's good to see my favourite Lib Dem MP Paul Marsden is one of the two publicly declared sceptics. He's wasted on the Lib Dem benches.


I don't tend to get a large amount of odd web searches on my site, but when I do:

Powell Jack Straw they are more likely to tell you guys than me

I hope he found what he was looking for, although I can assure you that neither Powell nor Straw have told me anything. I'm number three, if that's any consolation.
Friday, February 22, 2002

Where the Anglosphere takes us

Nepal. Yeah, yeah, I know, no conceivable interest. Tell that to the government.
Thursday, February 21, 2002

Did they or didn't they?

Oh dear. Karzai may be in trouble, it seems he was fibbing about that airport killing. There are circles within circles in the Afghanistan scene, so let's not pretend that we know what's going on - whether this means that the American backed Karzai is losing ground to the Russian backed Jamiat-i-Islaami, or whether this is a victory for local warlords over a centralised governments. We can't pretend to know.

What it undeniably shows is that the Afghan government is terribly weak and fatally divided, and will almost certainly need external intervention to stand for more than five minutes. That's us, folks.

Zim Watch

South African election observers have criticised Zanu over pre-election violence. The Zimbabwe Journalists Union has suspended Basildon Peta (their General Secretary) for exagerating his "persecution". Th sanctions have split Zanu according to the opposition press, although Mugabe's using it as a campaigning issue. Two staff members of the Election Support Network have been attacked. Mugabe has promised to ban independent Trade Unions and expel whites.

Here's a story about a genuine, grass roots, split in Zanu.

Yet another reason to hate the European Union

So why are we having to pay all these extra taxes? For the NHS, stupid.

So why is the NHS costing more? Well one of the major reasons is that it is being sued more.

So when did it start getting sued so much? Since Crown Immunity was lifted, which was part of the original NHS bargain - you got your treatment free at the point of use and you didn't sue if it went wrong.

Why was Crown Immunity lifted? Well the House of Lords in the infamous Factortame case judged that Crown Immunity was in contravention to EU law.

So we have to put up with a declining health system and even higher taxes because of the European Union? You got it.

I bet an expensive yet still Third World health system isn't going to be one of the items they'll be including in the benefits of EU membership.
Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Fair Dues

Fair dues. Snide comments have been made about Iain Murray in the past, snide comments will be made in the future - but he has recently
returned to form. Some good posts recently, should be viewed while stocks last.

Cakewalk - the sequel

The problem with invading Iraq is not that it's going to be hard to get in, but as this article shows - it's going to be impossible to get out.
The Final Taboo

As I type these words, BBC1 is devoting an entire evening of programming to the NHS consisting of interviews, phone-ins, telethons, quizzes, sketches, debates, bright lights, dancing girls and, later, we are promised a walk-on by Tony Blair (they've even provided the water)

I could make some rather snide remarks about one public sector body rallying to the defence of another public sector body and, whilst I am sorely tempted, I will leave the observation at that. It would also be inaccurate to refer to it as naked propoganda for there is no shortage of furrowed brows and wrung hands over the parlous state of the Health Service and what should be done about it

It is more interesting to ask why this is happening. Why this TV extravaganza devoted to 'our' NHS? Since its inception in 1948, the NHS has become the closest thing Britain has to a state religion (that, and the dear old Queen Mum). There can be no clearer manifestation of this than during the last election when national debate became stricken with a kind of political Tourettes Syndrome where not a sentence could be uttered without the phrase 'schoolz'n'hospitals' being blurted out. To even hint at discussion of any other issues was to lay oneself open to accusations of irrelevence or pottiness

Why this very public display of both breast-beating and cheerleading? Surely the NHS is not a matter for question or debate? Or is it?

In fact, there is every indication that growing public disenchantment with its sovietised health care system is fast becoming disillusion and even, in some quarters, resentment. Like Soviet grain-harvesting figures, government trumpeting about shorter waiting lists and more beds just ain't cutting it with a public who are watching too many of their elderly relatives expire on trolleys in corridors and too many of their babies being deformed or needlessly aborted

Is it possible that the government and the health bureaucrats are sensing this? Are they just a little worried that a lot of people are starting to form the view that the so-called 'public services' exist not to serve the public but the public sector? That nationalised industries care nothing for their consumers only their producers? Are we being 'softened up' for a major earthquake in British post-war policy? Or more fevered attempts to put a brave face on things in order to maintain the status quo?

My own feeling is that the Sacred Cow is not for slaughter just yet, but the nation is developing a taste for hamburgers

Up their own Khybers

Don't you find this just a tad worrying? The yanks are bombing enemies of the Prime Minister Hamid Karzai, and here's the crucial point, without any links to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. Who says that we'll be out any time soon.

Unlike two of our troops who shot at the pregnant woman they are not to be tried in Afghanistan.

Isn't this all getting a bit, well, colonial?

If only

According to Peter Hain what the opponents of the Euro-rouble "want is purely and simply the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and an association with the American bloc". As he used to be an opponent himself, presumably that's what he wanted - but did he ever have any time to talk to other opponents. If only they wanted us out of the European Union. I'm not sure about this Atlantic bloc though.

Zim Watch

The Human Rights Forum claims that Zanu is torturing opponents.

America and Switzerland are following the EU's lead in imposing sanctions, but Tanzania is leading an African campaign to oppose them. South Africa meanwhile says that the EU withdrawal was a mistake.

The heroic Simon Jenkins points out that sanctions don't exactly fragment a regime's support,

Another poll (or maybe the same one as yesterday) has it that the MDC is heading for victory. It seems a fairly wide ranging poll (sample of 1693 in nine provinces).

Zimbabwe's presence in the Congo is hurting it says the IMF.
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
The EUObserver has an article on the Metric Martyrs.

Not the end of the world

There has been a lot of breastbeating on this decision on pounds and ounces, (this from Iain Murray is a fine example of the genre). This is what I said on the case on January 19 2001 (please notice the date):

I don't think that he [a previous correspondant] is right about the case proving whether EU or British law is paramount - it will just be an entertaining sideshow.

As long ago as 1979 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 makes a good and entertaining case that the European Communities Act can be accidentally overriden - 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 hard.

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.

And I later said this:

The point is not that the European Communities Act cannot be repealed, everyone (apart from Teddy Taylor) agrees with this. The point is how is it to be repealed.

Can it be repealed like other laws, ie can it be merely repealed by an unintentional clash with a later law? The present thinking on the law seems to be that it cannot.

Therefor the decision will not change the law concerning Europe, although it may publicise the present understanding of British law. Basically the idea is that the European Communities Act is judged to be higher than other British statutes - and laws will be presumed to be drawn in accordance to it unless they state that they are intended to clash with it.

This does not preclude repeal, as long as the repeal is deliberate. To my knowledge the 1985 Weights and Measures Act does not state that it intends to turn back the European tide of metrication.

There are massive issues here of democratic control, but I believe that the Thoburn case will not change things one jot.

Nil desperandum.

Zim Watch

EU sanctions will be "carefully targetted", whether they will be effective is another matter. But that's not the idea, is it? The opposition are bullish about their chances, and polls are said to show Mugabe trailing badly. Caveat Lector, these are secret polls and it is not said what methodology was used, whether the pollsters confined themselves to the towns or which organisation carried out these polls. Significantly it was the Americans who highlighted these polls.

Mugabe has banned a swathe of international media from reporting on the election.

Yes, its getting odd. Not only priests arrested, but witch doctors murdered.
Monday, February 18, 2002

Mugabe gets what he wants

The EU pulls out its observers. The European Union is to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe's ruling elite and will pull its election observers out of the country.

Steyn on the character

If John Walker Lindh is a traitor, what is Mark Steyn - Christopher Montgomery doesn't ask this question. The unpatriotic right in Britain doesn't just include Ken Clark and the CBI, but Atlanticists as well. For patriotic Conservatism try Matthew Parris or Simon Jenkins.

Any way Christopher's latest column is worth a read.


If you search for "british foreign policy" in Lycos you'll get this web log in positions 3 and 4.

Target Practice

From the Express (via India Online):

Intelligence chiefs have told ministers that Britain is under "sustained attack" by al-Qaeda extremists

Ho hum, and why is this then. Is it because (a) they hate freedom, (b) want to convert us on the point of the sword or (c) we are allied with America which itself is allied with the House of Saud?

Answers on a postcard to the Department of Defence Strategic Office, Grovesnor Square.

Friday Night Special

From Andrew Dodge:

Friday night I attended a meeting where the head of the Parliament of Kurdistan spoke at lenght.

Fun way to spend the Friday, Andrew. Any way we can profit from Andrew's lack of a social life, or different priorities in life, by reading the account he has written.

There are a few caveats I'd like to add to this:

1) Journalists were coming away from Khomeni in Paris babbling on about how moderate a figure he was. Political dissidents do know the right tunes to play to Western audiences.

2) There are two factions running various bits of Iraqi Kurdistan, and they are both seperate from the Iranian Kurds and the Turkish/Kurdish PKK which has colonised parts of London (as Andrew points out, sort of). A "Kurdish Parliament" is a bit of a misnomer.

3) They firmly believe in the state of Iraq. Then why do they call themselves a "Parliament" which is itself a declaration of sovereignty.

4) An independent Kurdistan is going to cause ruptions throughout the Middle East. Not just in the axites Iran and Iraq, but in our ally Turkey (with by far the largest Kurdish population). An active Western support for statehood could spin out of control in Turkey. Be careful not to use this as a wedge issue unless destabilising Turkey is judged an acceptable risk.

Anyway, if you haven't yet read his piece, please do so.
Sunday, February 17, 2002
The BBC has an analysis of the shooting of the civil defence minister, and the subsequent arrest of Jamiat-i-Islami officials.

Jamiat is the faction that was led by Ahmed Shah Masood, they were essentially the lynch pin of the Northern Alliance and the faction which wrested Kabul from the Taliban.

So these arrests can mean two things. Either there is a genuine, slow coup, going on with Jamiat removing oponents, or that there isn't and the Karzai faction (who are grouped round the king) are basically framing them. Either way its factional warfare and our troops are in the middle.
UK troops fired on in Kabul - prepare for more.
The British backed Zimbabwe Democracy Trust is calling for intervention if Mugabe wins:

Mugabe stole this election long ago – it only remains to be seen if Morgan Tsvangarai, and the people of Zimbabwe can, through an overwhelming vote, snatch it back

So this means that a Zanu victory is ipso facto evidence of vote rigging? The election can only be fair if the right candidate wins?

The Zim government have also chucked out the main EU observer (which has been backed by other African governments), while the EU threatens sanctions. Are they delaying the sanctions until the final couple of weeks until the election, and wouldn't this itself be interfering with the election?

Meanwhile Canadian Police are investigating the so called murder plot.

The Independent has a story about how Mugabe is almost becoming Blair-like in his paranoia, he's even arresting priests.

Economic hardship stalks the land, with mining in trouble and starvation looming.

The MDC threaten civil war if their leader is arrested, while the police break up demonstrations, and a teacher was beaten to death for reading the MDC's unofficial newspaper.


Will they or won't they? Go into Iraq that is. Never mind that Iraq doesn't seem to be hiding Bin Laden (the reason they started it all in the first place). By the way, where is he? Any way despite our conspicuous lack of success we are moving on to the "next stage". Next stage of what we are not let into, but an axis of evil has been pronounced - and we may go into Iraq.

Now this is primarily an American jolly, and I try not to comment on the wisdom or prospects for these adventures, but as we will be loyally panting in behind I do, as a British subject, have the right to comment on this. Now some have said that this is a cake walk because America is stronger and Iraq is weaker and it was easy last time. Sadly this ignores a big elephant in the sitting room, the A-rabs no longer care about Saddam. You see he's weak, his brand of secular nationalism is past its sell by date, he doesn't destabilise and their populations are a bit more restless than last time.

That last time was when Syria and Saudi Arabia were willing to allow large scale millitary facilities to use their territory, and in the case of Saudi Arabia to actually allow themselves to be used as a forward base. Now is this going to be allowed a second time. In Syria's case no way, but Syria doesn't really matter here, it would make things easier but it's refusal wouldn't change the way in which the whole thing's done. Now the Saudis are a different matter. Would they allow it? To be honest we can't tell, and we shouldn't pretend that we can.

What is clear is that the population would be hostile, and this would find echoes in sections of the royal family and the religious establishment. But then again this was the case in Pakistan when the Americans went into Afghanistan and the regime has not yet collapsed (not with the royal family of course, but you know what I'm saying). Why should this be different?

Apart from the obvious answer that things will be different because things are different, there are a couple of elephants tramping around the living room. Firstly, a war in the Middle East may be good for the ruling classes with their interest in high oil prices - all depending on whether they can get the same volume of oil out of the Red Sea as they did when they had access to both coasts. The Saudi ruling classes also don't have anything invested in Saddam as the Pakistanis had in the Taliban, although with their large Shia minority they've got more to fear from a neighbouring Shia regime than the Pakistanis have to fear from a chaotic Tajik/Uzbeck kleptocracy.

So what is the fly in the ointment here? Apart from the aforementioned Shias, there's also the fact that Saudi Arabia is more Islamicised than Pakistan. The raison d'etre of Pakistan may be that they were Muslims and not Hindus, but the ruling and middle classes are not nearly as Islamicised as the Saudis. For example, two thirds of higher degrees awarded by Saudi univerisities are in Islamic theology. Two thirds. This, in my opinion, points to a more exciteable crowd than the Pakistanis (at least those outside the North West frontier).

However, America may be allowed to base troops in Saudi and the place may not erupt. To be fair both these outcomes are highly plausible, but not certain. What if this is not the case? Would the Americans occupy the necesary parts of Saudi? This could have a few, ahem, interesting repercussions, making the rest of the Iraq into less of a cake walk. This is unlikely as they will have access to the Persian Gulf (Iran is not likely to actively block the dismemberment of Iraq) and probably to Kuwaiti bases. A force coming solely from the south -with maybe a force through Turkey and the Kurdish areas- is perfectly plausible, but it is far less easy.

However what happens when the US-UK force wins, which it will in fairly short order, what does it do then. Why occupy it. Iraq does not have the alternative governments that the Northern Alliance and the Pashtun robber bands provided. Nation building will be in order. And what nation? Arab or Kurd? Sunni or Shiite? Unless borders are withdrawn the national question will be tricky in Iraq. And redrawing the borders? Sounds great fun from the armchair, but maybe a bit more risky on the ground.

And that big question that self-styled realists aren't asking, how does all this serve our interests?
Saturday, February 16, 2002

Marx and Imperialism

The Egyptologist Francis Lankester has replied to a question I posed on Marx:

Q. Is there any truth to the idea that Karl Marx was a proponent of imperialism - because capitalism was a higher stage of human development than feudalism?

A. He ridiculed the backwardness of India-particularly bowing down to the monkey god Hanuman and saw British imperialism as "progressive"-leading to the development of production and human resources.

The reference is to come along shortly. It's in the comments section, which as I've said before are there for you to use/abuse. While I'm on about comments, there's a bit of a to do about merceneries.
Friday, February 15, 2002

A Real Tory

What has got into Matthew Parris? For years he was merely a rather wettish gay Tory, an Andrew Sullivan who never got together the air fare. Now he's come into his own. Suddenly he's talking about foreign policy like Tories used to, as witnessed by his latest article. The last two paragraphs:

What, however, I want to say is that in the end governments do not act in good faith. They act in their interests. Their interests are driven mostly by domestic considerations. It will often be the case that the interests of one government will for a while coincide with those of another. The mistake against which I warn is to hope that when interests cease to coincide, gratitude or amity will continue to bind one government to another; to bind, in particular, a superpower to the support of a smaller ally.

France was right to insist that her independent nuclear deterrent was independent; Britain was foolish not to. I offer this last small example to Edward Smith as an illustration of why ‘where do we presently disagree?’ is not the question. Sooner or later we will disagree. When we do, years of shoulder-to-shouldery with America will not be worth a tinker’s cuss in Washington — and Tory sentimentalists had better believe it.

Having promised to set out the principles that should govern foreign policy, I ended on a suggestive note, rather than a didactic one. But suggestion is hard to pull off, & I probably did not succeed – hence this.

In my earlier piece, I identified 5 categories of things that were important to people: their nearest & dearest, the familiar, the pleasurable, the interesting, & their principles & beliefs. But is this list exhaustive? What about truth, beauty, & right & wrong? I would say that these things certainly were important to people, & I would go further, & say that, if they are not important to people, they certainly ought to be. And if somebody were to challenge me by asking, for instance, “Why should I be moral?” I should have no hesitation in giving him some such answer as, “To fulfil your nature as a rational being.” But I am inclined to think that truth, beauty, & morality may safely be subsumed under my fifth category, that of principles & beliefs. In thus subsuming them, I cast no aspersions on their objectivity, I merely acknowledge that no objectively-binding principle actually binds unless the agent acknowledges its force & thereby makes it his own.

Having admitted the principles of morality into one of the categories of importance, I leave myself open to an obvious objection to my recommendation of indifference to Africa: viz., why, when moral principles are important to us, & one of the most widely-accepted moral principles is that we ought to help those in need, & Africa is obviously in need, do I say we should ignore Africa on the grounds of its unimportance? Surely it is important to us because a moral principle, itself important to us, enjoins us to help it?

The first thing to be said is that the moral principle in question is only one of many things important to us. Most obviously, the people on whose behalf we apply it vary hugely in importance. It is much more important to me to take my daughter to hospital when she has meningitis than it is to save an African child dying of diarrhoea, simply because my daughter is far more important to me than any African child. When it comes to paying my taxes – & here we get to the heart of policy –, I had rather my money were spent on dampening the distress of the last weeks of old ladies in Brighton, Plymouth, Newcastle, & Manchester, than it was on treating or preventing diseases in Kenya, South Africa, & the Congo, simply because the people of Britain are more important to me than the people of Africa, not because they are dear to me as my family is, but because I am British, & the people of Britain have shaped & continue to shape the society which has shaped me & the familiar modes of life I am attached to, whereas the people of Africa patently have not.

But also, there are too many different things I consider to be important to justify my spending all my time carrying out just one moral principle. If I could solve all the problems of Africa with a wave of my hand, I should do it; I might even do it if it involved a couple of months’ hard work; but as it is, I should have to devote my whole life to Africa, & even then I should make almost no difference at all. Life is short, art is long, & if we are to spend our time on a good selection of the things important to us, if we are to stand any chance of achieving a range of the things we want to achieve, we cannot afford to spend all our time & effort on one thing alone. Not even the most single-minded artist can do it, for he will find he has no life to transmute into art.

If we stick, then, to what is important to us, we surely find that the moral principle that we ought to help others in need is not enough to warrant our helping Africa. But there is more to it than that. For even if we decide that there is a hierarchy of what is important, with morality at the top, even then we shall find that there is no obligation to help Africa – indeed, there is an obligation not to.

Let us adopt as our standard of morality the categorical imperative in its most recognizable form, which, as Kant stated it, is this: act as if the maxim on which you acted were a universal law. In other words, whenever you are about to do something, ask yourself, “What if everybody did that?” & carry on & do it only if the answer is favourable. Now let us compare two maxims, each based on the principle that one should help others in need: 1. Help those who are most in need; and 2. Help those whom you can help most. Both maxims acknowledge that we cannot help everybody; that, to use an unfashionable word, we must discriminate. Both seem to be quite reasonable. But if we think about what the first one would mean in practice, we see that, in contrast to the second, we could in principle adopt it & achieve nothing; that, the more we succeed in helping those most in need, the more likely we shall have to shift our focus to some other group of people, hitherto unhelped, who now are more in need than the people we have helped so far – which would involve abandoning the people we were helping, perhaps long before they had reached the stage where they were no longer in danger of relapsing to their former state; that therefore we might easily end up on a merry-go-round, helping various different groups of people just enough to make them better off than some other group, before leaving them to sink back into their former misery until they were again worse off than everybody else; & that whole swathes of needy people, who were never lucky enough to be worse off than everybody else, however deserving of help they were, would never receive it from anybody. Were we, on the other hand, to adopt the second maxim, far fewer people would fall through the net, & we should no longer be obliged to abandon people as soon as we had made them relatively less miserable than somebody else. Our one obligation would be to direct our efforts & resources where they could be most effective – & since our different proximities, aptitudes, sensitivities, opportunities, & knowledge would make us effective in widely different areas, between us we should end up helping a much broader range of the people who needed help than if we adopted the first maxim. And since, up to a point, the more you help someone, the more effectively you can continue to help him, we should carry on helping the same people for longer than if we gave up as soon as they were no longer supremely wretched. Instead of all help’s being directed at one specified, but shifting, category of people, it would be directed at the people who could best be helped by whichever helper we had in mind. More people would be helped more. And since maximising help is the point of both maxims, the second is to be preferred.

So let us apply that maxim to Britain & Africa. To what extent are people in Britain better placed to help the Africans than they are to help, say, the British? Surely to a very small extent indeed. We understand the needs of our own people better than those of others, & it is easier to mobilise resources to help the needy in Britain than it is to mobilise them for the needy overseas; &, being in charge of our own country & not in charge of others, it is easier in our own country than it is elsewhere to ensure that whatever resources we do mobilise are put to the use intended. There may be a case for the recolonisation of Africa, but that would be unacceptable to the Africans: they would be miserable, they would agitate for independence, chaos would in time ensue, & either independence or repression would be the only solutions: the former would bring Africa back to square one, the latter would leave it worse off than if we had stayed out. And the resources we should have to devote to a fruitless recolonisation would be resources that could have been used to alleviate the suffering of people in Britain with considerably better results. Whichever way you look at it, the people we in Britain can help most are the people of Britain. If there is any exception, it is perhaps the individual, small-scale charitable donation: £5 means more to an old lady in Africa with cataracts than it means to a tramp in Britain; it helps her more than him; but even then, we do at least know that our £5 is going into the tramp’s pocket rather than an administrator’s. And on the level of government intervention, there are no exceptions.

We see this clearly from what seems to be a practical, if not a logical, consequence of our maxim: that we should never try to help any group of people that is not being helped by those best placed to help it. If African governments are doing nothing for their people, then any resources we provide, even if they are not appropriated by those governments, will, by definition, not be effectively distributed by them. And if we attempt to shoulder the responsibilities of others who are best placed to help particular people (e.g., people in Africa), we run the risk of shirking our own responsibilities to those WE are best placed to help, who certainly in this case, & probably in most cases, are different people.

The upshot is that charity begins at home. Those who say otherwise are at best morally confused, at worst motivated by considerations other than the moral.
Thursday, February 14, 2002
A funny article on how natural events can be mistaken for feats of leadership.

Zim Watch

Despite blocking observers, the EU has still not imposed sanctions, although Zim may be weakening. Here's the MDC's take on the supposed coup plot, and the man behind it has been attacked by the reputable media. Famine stalks Matabeleland. Tsvangarai seems popular in the traditionally Zanu Midlands.
The Foreign Office have put out a paper on regulating private military companies, mercenaries to you and me.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Decline of the Guardian

An unusual choice, perhaps. But this article on the Guardian raises a couple of interesting points. Firstly the Guardian's pro-Americanism (read Jonathan Freedland if you have any doubt on this score) betrays a rather more unpatriotic side. It seems that like some of the Anglosphere cult Guardian editors have been inspired by the dotty tract "Union Now". So are the anglospherians merely a right wing version of the Guardian set?

Another point is that the Guardian little England instincts are dying, probably already dead. The respectable left's Little England sympathies were merely a remnant, like its fondness for free trade, of a time when the left was truly liberal and the Conservatives were the party of the state.

Zim Watch

Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, is accused - by an Australian documentary - of plotting to murder Mugabe before the polls. Tsvangirai dismisses it as a "crude smear campaign". Meanwhile he is arrested and released on some administrative charge.

There's a rather strange story about voting rights being denied to opposition supporters, especially whites.

Basildon Peta hits back at allegations that he embellished his story.

The New York Times beats the war drums and the South African Mail and Guardian reports from the rallies.
Tuesday, February 12, 2002

The Debut

A quick note to point out that Hadrian Wise's debut on this web log has had attracted comment from Andrew Dodge and Justin Slotman.

A Reply

I've been negligent about checking my statistics recently, and so didn't spot a piece by Natalie Solent on my rather fizzled out argument on the role of the media in Daniel Pearl's kidnap.

1. The kidnappers said that they were going to treat Pearl as (they thought) the Camp X-ray prisoners were being treated. I believe it because they said so, not because of some geopolitical theory. Of course they are also enemies of America on more general grounds. So what? What will motivate their hands to give or withold water, to strike or not to strike the bound man in front of them is "an eye for an eye." The idea of turning the tables is common to all mankind. I'd worry about that even if that particular e-mail turned out to be a hoax.

They didn't form the group because of Camp X-Ray, they didn't lure Mr Pearl into being kidnapped because of Camp X-Ray and so I think it fairly safe to say that hopefully false reports of his death from possibly hoax e-mails should perhaps be taken less than seriously. Strange "geopolitical theories" like being mighty annoyed at your next door co-religionists and ethnic cousins being bombed by the Goliath on the block may have something to do with it.

2. Much of the coverage of the shackles, goggles etc. made out falsely that that stuff was on permanently.

This was the impression that one could have got from the coverage, yes. However I would be interested (and slightly surprised) to see where they actually wrote that this was permanent. It should be a professional British paper and not Socialist Worker or

3. The idea that there might one day be equivalent revenge on American prisoners was obvious. I read criticisms of Camp X-ray from your side of the fence that made exactly that point. I think even Colin Powell made it. It is one of the many factors that make it the duty of a reporter to be honest.

It is also a duty of reporters to ask questions. The idea that another country's war should stop our reporters asking questions about what is at the least an irregular detention is odd for a libertarian.

An interesting question - and I genuinely don't know the answer - when was the last time that so many people were held as "illegal combatants" by a first world country due to a war fought in another country. Internment doesn't count (that could at least be said to be a British criminal matter). This is purely of academic interest.

4. The idea that reporters might be kidnapped is also fairly obvious. It happens regularly. Intelligent self-interest should have led them to think of this.

The uprising/massacre in Mazar-e-Sharif is a cause celebre in the Muslim street despite heroic feats of either ignorance or self censorship by the Western press on the ground. Self censorship would not have saved Daniel Pearl.

5. Finally, Pakistanis can read the Mirror via the internet just as I can read Dawn magazine. It's not that primitive a country. And if the Mirror is not influential there, the BBC certainly is. There is nothing unlikely about the BBC taking its tone from the Mirror, the reporters all know each other.

Now the Muslim millitants may be among the small minority with internet access, they may be willing to look at the internet for their world view rather than Abdullah the Mullah down the street, they may further spend their time looking up the Daily Mirror rather than the New York Times or

I, however, think that this is a very long shot, much like I think that the idea that the BBC would pay attention to a declining red top tabloid on foreign affairs.

Natalie Solent is off for some skiing (she's only been on the slopes once so is too qualified for Britain's winter olympic team), so I hope that she is still in one piece when she's back.

Zim Watch

So Basildon Peta, the journalist who made such a flurry with his arrest under the press laws, may have embellished his story. Meanwhile in the real world a leading opposition printer, the publisher of the Daily News, has been firebombed, they are also a printer for the MDC.

The South African observers are going in, but Zimbabwe has rejected the head of the EU mission because he's a Swede. In Zambia the President's a "cabbage", in Zimbabwe the main observer's a Swede. What's with the vegetable theme?

Zambia will be sending observers. No, that wasn't a joke.

Food shortages loom.

A Zanu (yes you read it correctly) supporter has been killed in a clash with the MDC.

Mbeki has said, well, not much - although the Zim government has taken umbrage.


In the light of Tony Blair’s recent evangelising in the cause of Africa, I should like to derive from my opposition to Blair’s doctrines some principles of foreign policy whose adoption I would recommend. In order to do so, I need first to enunciate my personal response to Africa’s “plight”. That response is, briefly, THAT I COULDN’T GIVE A TINKER’S CUSS.

Many people would think that a morally-reprehensible view. Yet in other respects, though I say it myself, my personal standards of morality are if anything somewhat higher than what I take to be the norm amongst the denizens of Islington & Hampstead: I am honest, I have a reasonably clear idea of what is important in life, I do my best to use whatever talents I have, I empathise with others, I obey the law (except as it relates to “recreational drugs”), I am kind to children & animals & even old people, I am capable of gratitude & humility, I give to charity, I am always prepared to listen to people’s problems, I have great tolerance of others’ faults, I do not have a petty bone in my body, & I generally do as I would be done by. A lot of the time, I find myself submitting to the categorical imperative. So although my indifference to Africa’s problems may simply be one aspect of an evil & twisted nature, the evidence, such as it is, is against it. So how can an otherwise decent man be so callous?

I have to say I find it very easy. What I find impossible is to care about Africa. I have tried, but I just cannot do it. And I confess I am tempted to console myself by doubting the sincerity of others’ protestations of sympathy & care.

All I can do is to describe the feelings that Africa arouses in me, & to hope they strike a chord in others’ breasts. When I hear that people in Africa are suffering, I feel a kind of jejune sympathy, a sense that I should not like to be in their place, & a faint feeling of pity for them that they should be in the place they are in. I also feel, this more strongly, a certain annoyance at the mendacity & incompetence of the rulers of whichever country it happens to be, & a certain annoyance at what I take, no doubt unfairly, to be the population’s supine acceptance of their rulers & inability to come up with better ones. And often, depending on the style of reporting, I feel outrage that Africa’s problems are being used as an excuse to denigrate the West, which for all its faults nonetheless seems consistently to throw up leaders who are able to keep members of its population from dying prematurely in large numbers. And that’s it. That’s all I feel. I feel far more horror at the murder of Desdemona, far more sadness at the death of Hector, than I feel either horror or sadness at the fate of thousands of real people in Africa.

Why should this be? No doubt the Guardian man has his answer already: I am evidently a “racist” who regards Negroes as sub-human & therefore not worth worrying about. Those who make such allegations are rarely satisfied with denials, but that, fortunately, is their problem, not mine. I consider Negroes to be every bit as human as I am, and I believe that precisely the same moral consequences flow from their being human as flow from my being human. Were Africa inhabited entirely by Caucasians, my attitude to it would not be a whit different. No, the reason I do not care about Africa – & forgive me if this sounds tautological – is that it is not remotely important to me.

So what is important to me? Well, first off, my family & friends. If, by my actions, I could save the life, either of one of my friends & relations, or of a stranger, I should unquestionably choose the former. I love my family & friends. I challenge anyone to say he would do differently. Secondly, what is familiar: my home, my favourite haunts, my habits, my society’s traditions, cups of tea, the Queen, all that I could not imagine life without. Thirdly, what is pleasurable – principally sex & whisky. Fourthly, though not fourth in importance, what is interesting: which in my case includes literature (reading it & trying to write it), philosophy, music, history, & politics. And fifthly, my beliefs, political, philosophical, & otherwise.

I believe that to be a reasonable taxonomy of what is important, not just to me, but to anyone. And for people in Britain, I cannot see that Africa fits into any category for any but a small number of people. Few Britons have friends or relations in Africa, & most who have, have been sensible enough to choose from among those who are not starving to death. Africa itself, as opposed to televised reports of Africa, is not for most of us part of the landscape of our lives. Relatively few people are all that interested in it, & therefore not many have terribly strong beliefs about it; & very few derive any sensual pleasure from it. Africa, we may conclude, is unimportant not merely to me, but to the vast majority of people in Britain.

Yet we could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Africa SEEMS to be important to a lot of people, because a lot of people bang on about it. And no doubt some of the people who bang on about it have genuine reasons for doing so: they have friends or family there, or they have a villa there, or they like the food, or they are interested in African politics, or else they have strongly-held beliefs about how the place should be run. And that’s fine. I only find it hard to see how such people are morally superior to me. There are many others, however, among whom I hesitate to include our sainted leader, who have no such reasons for regarding Africa as important, but who nonetheless use it as the occasion of relieving a great deal of what I suppose we have to call “moral” feeling. And for those people, we reluctantly have to conclude that what is important is not Africa itself, but the moral relief it affords them. Africa is, in that respect, for such people equivalent to what is euphemistically known as a “glamour model”.

Perhaps we can say that Africa’s problems afford such people a certain amount of pleasure. And I think we can safely allow them that. But we should be careful to distinguish a contingent occasion of pleasurable activity from the activity itself: for we shall nearly always find that the person who relieves his moral feelings over Africa tends to relieve his moral feelings over nearly everything else he can get his hands on. And although most of the time this fellow is a pretty harmless, if slightly slimy & nauseating, fellow, problems arise when he gets his hands on foreign policy, & he insists on treating as though it were important something that is of hardly any importance to the vast majority of the people on whose behalf he is conducting the country’s foreign policy and of only accidental importance even to himself. Because then we have a foreign policy that is not in our interests.

New Writer

Joining my elusive colleagues, Messrs Carr and Montgomery, Hadrian Wise has also climbed on board. Here's a description by the man himself:

Hadrian Wise currently works in an office, he hopes not for long. He is writing a novel, and he contributes copiously to literary discussion groups, and takes a keen amateur interest in philosophy. Politically, he is a conservative in what he grandly imagines to be the Burkeian tradition. He loathes subjectivism, post-modernism, and 'political correctness'. He would
restrict foreign policy to British interests, which he construes more widely than some would, but much less widely than Blair does.

Welcome to the world of "blogging" (I hate that word).

Courting Africa

Should we worry? Blair wants to set up an African human rights court. And what happens if the Africans don't like it, who enforces the decisions? Any guesses?

Latest Column

The latest article by Christopher Montgomery is very good, he's rather more pessimistic about Iain Duncan Smith's speech than I am, but it's worth reading.
Monday, February 11, 2002


Fewer Greeks supported the US-led war than did Palestinians. Not Greek participation in it, but the war itself.

Guiltless Liberal

Rod Liddle has a piece in the Guardian where he claims that Africa just ain't his burden, and oh by the way do you realise that foreign aid is tearing up local cultures.
Sunday, February 10, 2002

Libbo Alert

An exhibition in the British Museum celebrates the heyday of private currency issue. Hurry, you have seven days left.

Liberal Imperialism

A useful survey of English imperialist thought, in the New Statesman. It does have the iNSufferable's trademark, it is smugly leftist. Another illustration that the force them into freedom crowd (you know who you are) are more a creature of Mill than Burke.

It does however claim that American interventionism (at least when shorn of its Cold War underpinnings) was fundamentally Conservative and wary of unsettling local orders. Israel? Suez? Rhodesia? Give me a break.

By the way, is there any truth to the idea that Karl Marx was a proponent of imperialism - because capitalism was a higher stage of human development than feudalism? I read this years ago and took it as gospel, anything that made Marxists look inconsistent. I've recently looked through Google (which answers most questions) and I've found nothing. Any experts on the Red Prussian out there who can enlighten me.

Land of Mirrors

Are Conservative proponents of the war just unable to think how other people see them? Perhaps this explains the otherwise suicidal impulses of many supposed proponents of the National interest. This comes from looking over an old essay by David Pryce-Jones in the National Review. He argues that Islamic Fundamentalism is a new Communism, in that it threatens everything it touches.

Apart from the fact that he sounds like a Serbian cheerleader (do they have cheerleaders in Belgrade?) the problem here is that it doesn't really match up. Islamic Fundamentalism is hardly the universal creed that Communism was, and it certainly doesn't have the same global reach. This is important as Communism managed to get European social democrats, American capitalists, Muslim fundamentalists, Afrikaaner racists, unpleasant South American dictators and even Chinese Marxists to line up to oppose it. This was because of the aforesaid universal aims and global reach.

Now who, in this day and age has the same aims and reach? Islamic fundamentalism doesn't come close, as it has somewhat restricted appeal to the five billion souls who do not bow down to Mecca, similarly Chinese nationalism also is hardly a threat outside the Far East for a similar reason. So who could be the free radical with a universal creed and the global dominance that eventually forces others to cohere against it.

Clue: we're it.

The national interest more often involves avoiding empires rather than building them.

The Foreigner Office

A foreign tourist is walking down Whitehall, he can't find where he's going and he stops a commuter.

"Excuse me, do you know which side the Foreign Office is on."


Old joke I know, but this article "Our Islamic Fifth Column by Farrukh Dhondy raises a couple of interesting questions. The first is the blanket aid given by the Foreign Office of Britons arrested overseas, including Islamic terrorists. I've said this before, but if you are a Briton on non-government service you should not expect the British government to ride to your rescue once you leave British territory, and thus the protection of British laws.

Another interesting point is the fundamentalist mosques and the role of Islamic immigrants. Immigration and foreign policy are linked in a way that makes someone of a broad brush libertarian tendency to feel split. On the one hand opening the gates to immigrants is a libertarian thing to do. However, once you allow in a large immigrant community a non-interventionist foreign policy becomes that much harder as you have created a number of instant lobbies for the "mother country", wherever that may be.
Saturday, February 09, 2002

Behind the Fatwas

A rather interesting discourse on Islamic Law. Islamic fundamentalists are legal literalists (ie what is written is law, and none of that touchy feely stuff about common sense), as are most American conservatives. As for that matter am I - I believe that freedom is best protected if we know what the law is. But then again, I'm not a Muslim.

The Gilded Cage

A rather old, but still good screed about foreign aid's role in prolonging the Afghan conflict. It's from the BBC, which is rather surprising in itself.

Zim Watch

The EU has been allowed to send in monitors, but have banned observers from certain nations (including Britain). The idea is to get the EU to make a fuss about the excluded nations, while drawing attention to the fact that Zimbabwe is allowing in observers and making the EU look as if it wants to condemn the elections before voting. The EU seems to obligingly fall into the trap. The South Africans will also be observing. Mugabe, in the meantime has entrusted the overseeing of the election in the tender hands of the military and intelligence aparatus. The MDC claim that they have army backing too.

The land seizures are more popular than we think in the West, as evidenced by Mbeki moving up a gear with land reform in South Africa. For a taste of the more refined Zanu propoganda, click here.

The courts have ruled that the Harare municipal elections will not be held before the elections. A blow to the MDC, who have also vowed to continue rallies (after very publicly cancelling them). 40 MDC activists, including 3 MPs were arrested on supposed firearms charges. The Human Rights NGO forum report that Zanu killed 16 in January.

The head of the observer mission in Zimbabwe looks compromised when Tony Blair offered debt relief in return for his home country backing action against Zimbabwe, as well as economic reform.

The old days are back, import substitution has come again.

Mould Breakers

We are told by the supporters of intervention that Sierra Leone should dispel the doubters. Look, they say, a peaceful state with the rule of law, etc, etc. Contrast this to Liberia, which has a nasty civil war in the north since 1999 and has declared a state of emergency. A couple of relevant facts here. The Nigerian-led occupation of Sierra Leone (which is effectively what Britain is supporting) started in 1999. And just to the north of Liberia is ... well, look at the map.

Sierra Leone's different. Yeah, right.

Zam Watch

Zim Watch will return soon, but until then a The Spectator article pointing out that a neighbouring government has its own thugs aimed at domestic opponents. Why no protest?

The Long Haul

If you thought that our troops would only be there for six months, think again. The Economist is parroting calls for the force to be expanded. Quoting Afghanistan's PM it says:

Mr Karzai says that it is Afghanistan's provincial governors who want the ISAF's remit to be stretched. If the sort of arrangements now in place in Kabul were to be extended to the five or six next-largest cities, a force of perhaps 25,000 men would be needed.

Now, the provincial governors are appointed by Mr Karzai, and Mr Karzai was appointed by the "international community". So who really wants the troops to stay?
Friday, February 08, 2002

I Wish

Speaking en route to the capital Abuja, a relaxed-looking Mr Blair said that if he had listened to those criticising his international initiatives he would never have become involved in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Macedonia or India and Pakistan.

He said that if he had listened to Britain's Conservative opposition he would not even be involved in Europe.

No such luck. The Tories backed him on almost everything, and are still opposed to withdrawal from the European Union.

It gets worse:

"You cannot live like that, so I let the criticism pass me by," he said.

Who says you can't? Switzerland seems to be doing rather well.

Zam Watch

An opposition MP has been shot ... in Zambia. No Western outrage about this pro-Western government with no troops in the Congo. Can't quite think why.
Thursday, February 07, 2002

True Colours shining through

Castro and Adams compare Beard growing techniques

Zim Watch

The MDC have been accused of treason, for having secret meetings with the British to overthrow the regime. Putting aside the ridiculous details in this this case, the Zimbabwe opposition certainly is indirectly supported by British sources, however Mugabe didn't exactly spurn Chinese money when he was fighting in the bush.

Britain has threatened to withdraw its ambasador. Abdulsalami Abubakar, a Nigerian general (responsible for ushering in democracy), has been named as the chief observer. Prosecutors are being threatened for going after Zanu "war veterans".

Neighbouring countries have attacked sanctions.

Can anyone shed light on this report in the Herald, which claims that Mbeki is backing Mugabe. Massive, if true. I can't find it anywhere, and I am loather to quote the Mugabe-supporting Herald without any verification. Funny enough, they ignored this warning form Mbeki's advisor that he wouldn't be recognised if he rigged the vote.

The EU gives Zambia a slap on the wrists for its own rigged election. Where's the press attention.
Wednesday, February 06, 2002

You're either with us or you're with the Terrorists

The American part of the Anglosphere and the Irish part of the Anglosphere stitch up the British part of the Anglosphere

The last picture was too small, so with apologies to Andrew Dodge I'll expand it. I'll also note that this was before 9-11.

Islam will eat itself

Reader, I'm in shock. The National Review Online actually has something sensible by Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies. The National Review, I mutter to myself, what next the Telegraph?

Basically it says that the best way to destroy radical Islam is to let it take over. Of course radical Islam may moderate while in power (which is what Iran has done to an extent), but this would be no bad thing either. He is in my opinion wrong in one respect, he believes that if they have large chunks of the Middle East they will still harbour terroristic ambitions towards the west. If one looks at Al Qaeda's statements then it is fairly clear that they are more concerned with the already Muslim corner of the world rather than us infidels. America was attacked because of its support for the Saudi regime rather than any dislike of the seperation of church and state.

The National Review, I mutter once more.

Spotted on Instapundit.
Tuesday, February 05, 2002

On Irresponsibility

Unnacustomed as I am to leaping to the defence of the liberal press...

I have been accused of throwing around bizarre allegations by Iain Murray (and uncharitable behaviour by Natalie Solent) for my piece questioning his idea of the liberal media's responsibility for the (rumours of the) death of Daniel Pearl. So let's go through this, the liberal media were responsible for the plight of Daniel Pearl because they raised concerns about Guantanamo bay. While I find the idea that Guantanamo bay was more of a trigger than the bombing and invasion of next door Afghanistan rather bizarre, I will let that past. The point is that the treatment of the prisoners in Guantanamo bay was all above board, until those pesky journalists came in and disturbed things.

Well not exactly. There may be -indeed there is- good reason as to why they are in a legal limbo, without the protection of either criminal law or the Geneva convention; this is however a situation that begs to be questioned. Indeed, when one says that it is almost fascist to oppose gangland killers walking free on technicalities - then the Cuban problem should at least be acknowledged. However, I don't believe that anyone does think that the situation is entirely normal, it is just that in war time that asking these questions is irresponsible, especially if the asking is shrill or over the top.

So, does this skirting around otherwise necesary questions constitute censorship? It certainly isn't state censorship, and if that is the impression then I should clarify/climb down (cross out as you think appropriate). However it is self censorship. Newspapers should not report news that they otherwise would because of the contingencies of (another country's) war, otherwise they are irresponsibly responsible for the death of journalists and whatever else. That's self censorship.

Of course Iain may not wish for this lamentable state of affairs. But isn't the assertion that a newspaper (that is never read overseas) and the BBC are responsible for the (dubious) death of a journalist on the basis of a single line in an e-mail (of doubtful provenance), and that these people were not perhaps motivated by the bombing of the next door country, well isn't it all rather irresponsible?

Beggars Belief

Dyson is moving to the Far East

Mr Dyson has long been a strong proponent of the euro, and has previously threatened to shift manufacturing overseas if the UK does not clarify its position on the single currency.

That, he said was only one factor here.

So if you are such a strong proponent of the Euro, Mr Dyson, why are you moving to the orient?

Zim Watch

Another British failure, the EU have not imposed sanctions. A journalist who was held under the press laws has been freed and the UN have expressed concern. The government has asked for observers from other African countries, and the EU are sending in observers without a formal invitation. Army purgees are suing to get back into uniform. Three MDC supporters are reported to have been killed. The BBC look at Zanu, it's "more than just Mugabe". Things shoudl be moving quite swiftly now.

In defence of Iran

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

~ President George Bush, State of the Union Address

So Iran is to be part of the “axis of evil”. With our shoulder to shoulder stance with America, this could mean that we could find ourselves in a war – much as we led America in to a war over Iran in 1953. So let’s have a critical look at the case for the prosecution.

They help the Taliban and Al Qaeda

Iran, for its own geopolitical and religious reasons supported the Northern Alliance from the start. This was not the case with America, to take an example totally at random. The present allegation that they airlifted a number of Al Qaeda people to Iran is worrying, but so is Pakistan’s similar effort (with co-operation from a certain super power). Similarly the harbouring of Islamic exremists in Britain and Germany should come under the same stern gaze. To single out Iran for this is disingenous.

They aren’t a democracy

Well that’s not entirely true. Their head of state is elected unlike, say, Kuwait (constitutional monarchies like the UK don’t count here, OK). They have a lively, powerful and democratically elected legislature – unlike Jordan or Pakistan. In the crucial test, is it better than twenty years ago, the answer would be positive in almost every respect. They may have problems with religious leaders pulling rank and the security services trying to “steer” the democracy, but then so does Israel.

For the record, let me say that the internal composition of a country does not materially alter whether or not it is in ours (or America’s interests) to help it.

They’re an Islamic regime

There’s Islamic and then there’s Islamic. Like being a democracy, it doesn’t matter internally – although its external Islamism may well matter. The Iranians are Shia Muslims and that is the fundamental thing to understand. In Afghanistan they supported the Northern Alliance through the Hazara militias, because the Hazaras where Shia Muslims. In Lebanon they support the Hezbullah faction who are, you guessed it, Shiite. In their fellow Axist, Iraq, they are the failed protectors of Saddam? No, its those Shi-ites again. And for all those Al Qaeda fighters is Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, do they like the Shia minorities in their countries? You bet they don’t. You see Iran’s foreign policy agenda is to protect the Shiite minority rather than promoting Islam per se. This may be a pain in the neck to all those Sunni regimes, but is that our problem.

Two bits of commentary on the state of the union. This serious one from Chronicles, and not so seriously from Satire Wire. Being British I will not offer my own commentary.

And Raving

A web log of note is Rantburg, a sort of gossip column on geopolitics. Well worth a read, especially this piece on Washington's growing, and in this case deserved, contempt for British representatives without the initials TB.
Monday, February 04, 2002

America helps Britain fight terror

So that's what they mean by shoulder to shoulder

The Empire is dead, long live Imperialism

Natalie Solent has pointed me to this piece by Timothy Kidd. Talk about getting things the wrong way round.

September 11 "was clearly an attack on the West as a whole". Why, then, did they say in those fatwas get out of the Middle East or die, rather than simply die infidel scum? Perhaps because Al Qaeda has geopolitcal objectives of its own, and is trying to achieve them by attacking what it perceives to be the biggest obstacle to its goals? No, it must be an attack on the West as a whole.

The reason I bang on about this is that it is vital to Britain's role in this. If it was an attack on America because of its Middle Eastern foreign policy, then it is entirely different to being an attack on "the West". One's an attack on us, one isn't. One is our business, one's not. Of course America should strike out if either condition holds true, but Britain is not the case.

Ulster will stay free whether the Americans like it or not. Has he never met a member of the British ruling classes?

Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, where Britain does have a historic interest and a current responsibility. They declared independence in 1965, to have voted in a British general election that afected Rhodesia you would have had to be 57 today. No British person under the age of 57 has any responsibility towards the place.

Worth a read, though.

Terrorism, at Home and Abroad

Check out Christopher Montgomery's magnificent piece Terrorism, at Home and Abroad on Northern Ireland. Feel free to use the comments section.

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