Friday, August 30, 2002

One for the Warbloggers

The Crisis Within Islam

Dear Gordon,

The Euro could cost you your job.

Blair Losing Party

Could that most unfriendly institution, the Labour Party, actually force the government into taking note of the national interest? According to a survey in the Times:

A Times survey of 100 Labour constituency chairmen in the party’s most marginal seats found that 60 expressed strong opposition to a war against Iraq. Only five said they would support the Prime Minister today if he decided to commit British troops. Ten refused to comment or said they were unable to decide.

This is bound to impact on MPs and any future leadership contenders (Mr Cook, Mr Brown).

Will this be Labour's Europe? Somehow I doubt it as Blair will be unable to straddle the divide as Major did and convince the non-Atlanticists that he is the biggest Americosceptic of the lot. Blair will either have to alienate the left in his party or betray the Atlanticists. Not only that but if he does go in, especially if the UN don't approve, then he can wave goodbye to being President of Europe.

I hesitate to make a prediction here, but Blair's ambitions may mean that Britain does not support any Mesopotamian adventure.
Thursday, August 29, 2002

Living the Part

Now that I've been named a lefty, or some other Randian insult for impure thought, I thought that this interesting piece on growing left wing opposition to the Euro might be of interest.

The Hun are getting restless

Is this rather uncommunitaire behaviour really happening?

How they lie to us, again

This is an excellent quote from the Times:

There is a depressing pattern which applies, regardless of the party in power, to Britain¹s position on any major political initiative in the European Union. It is at first denied that any radical new plan exists; it
is then conceded that it exists but ministers swear blind that it is not
even on the political agenda; it is then noted that it might well be on the agenda but is not a serious proposition; it is later conceded that it
is a serious proposition, but that it will never be implemented; after that
it is acknowledged that it will be implemented but in such a diluted form that it could make no difference to the lives of ordinary people; and at some point it is finally recognised that it has made such a difference, but it was always known that it would and voters were told so from the outset.

Why I keep a pseudonym

Read this

Back of the Class

Poor old Michael Gove. All that snazzy Scottish education and yet his geography and history seem all askew. His latest piece on why we have to go into Iraq has some strange ideas, from this:

He is a practised mass murderer with unassuaged territorial ambitions towards his neighbours. He is an unstable tyrant who aspires to hegemony over the Arab world by providing its most radical elements with political leadership and military support. Terrorists who menace Israel and have operated throughout the West have been trained, financed and armed by him.

he comes to this:

Possessed of suitable weaponry, Saddam would threaten Western democracies as no murderous tyrant has done since the Thirties.

First the history. Now I may have been asleep during the Cold War, but weren't we told that Stalin and his succesors were actually a rather large threat to us. After all they had oodles of "weapons of mass destruction", a respectable industrial and agricultural base, a world encompassing ideology, institutional continuity and willing and devoted helpers in every nook and cranny. Things that Saddam is rather short on, after all the fact that everyone's crossing their fingers in the hope of some internal "regime change" doesn't exactly suggest a second Suleyman the Magnificent sweeping to the West through the Balkans.

Not only that but the Warsaw Pact (where pray tell is Saddam's Warsaw Pact or Axis of Steel?) were a hell of a lot closer to us. Now we may note that Iraq, Israel and the rest of the Middle East - the three threats mentioned are hardly next door neighbours to us in the West. With the large exception of the Red Sea and the Suez canal no sea routes are threatened, and that remotely. So there should be another reason why we must go to war with Hitler Saddam.

So the missing link is this:

He would be able to destabilise the entire Middle East to the detriment of all its peoples and he could then place his boot on the world’s windpipe by threatening its oil supplies.

Let's not worry about detrimenting the peoples of the Middle East, they seem to be detrimented enough as it is and a mass invasion and its aftermath will detriment them as well. So what's this about threatening the oil supplies?

Well it seems that Mr Gove seems to have forgotten some elementary economics. What happens when the supply of a commodity, no matter how essential, goes down? Why the price increases. Encouraged by the price rise all the players in the market economy cut back on energy consumption, go to other energy sources or increase production of oil from other sources. Its called the price mechanism.

It happened in 1973, and we survived. Today we just happen to be a net oil exporter and so would probably do a lot better out of this, but can mainstream British Conservatives ever be accused of seriously thinking of the national interest. That's the British rather than the American national interest.
Civil Interventionism

Whilst disregarding the main argument about where or how certain websites should be classified, identified, categorised, dissected and pigeonholed in Samizdata, there is a certain narrowing of the dabate when citing Burke over the issue of free trade vs. tariffs. In economic history, this issue was championed by the German liberal, Friedrich List, providing intellectual justifications for the existence of the Zollverein and the protection of industries. Here is a taste of his German liberal views on freedom, an admixture of nation and liberty:

Freedom of trade is
spoken of in the same terms as religious freedom and municipal
freedom. Hence the friends and advocates of freedom feel themselves
especially bound to defend freedom in all its forms. And thus the
term 'free trade' has become popular without drawing the necessary
distinction between freedom of internal trade within the State and
freedom of trade between separate nations, notwithstanding that
these two in their nature and operation are as distinct as the
heaven is from the earth. For while restrictions on the internal
trade of a state are compatible in only very few cases with the
liberty of individual citizens, in the case of international trade
the highest degree of individual liberty may consist with a high
degree of protective policy.

There is a translation of "The National System of Political Economy" here. List was wrong since freedom to trade is always beneficial and promotes long-term individual prosperity.

However, there is currently a tension in foreign policy between libertarianism and action, especially in contemporary circumstances. Trade is used as a weapon and as a tool in current foreign policy to further a state's interests, and although a long-term goal is a foreign policy that impacts minimally upon individual liberty, contemporary circumstances and pragmatism demand that this tool is utilised when necessary. The primary use of trade is sanctions, and such policies are justifiable at this point in time, though tariffs, subsidies, dumping actions etc. are not.

Does this mean that Britain should withdraw from the World Trade Organisation, on the grounds that it is illiberal and captured by certain interests, or work from within, as one of the few nations that appears to promote freer rather than more restricted trade?
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Being nice to Oxfam

I must say something nice. It's hard. Oxfam's campaign to bring in "fair trade" has been going for some time and is a work of genius. By lambasting protectionist governments rather than governments who spend "too little" on aid it is actually talking about developing the Third World rather than sending aid after every natural disaster.

For a taste of this approach see, The Great Sugar Scam.

That being said, Britain has no business opening up its markets just because it will help Third World countries. The argument for free trade must come from British interests.

Rat Returns

This rather draconian piece of legislation in Spain that bans any group that "promotes radical changes to the country's existing democratic institutions" has its own stormtrooper, Judge Baltasar Garzon - that persecutor of General Pinochet.

Will Baltasar be called for trial, or is it OK if a left wing person supresses democracy?
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Stability Postpones Reform

A short note on Jiang Zemin's retention of power over the party elite in the Chinese republic, which will be engineered at the postponed Communist Party congress in November. His ideology of the Three Represents radically allows capitalists to become communists and join the party, although most already are, through the power of guangxi.

Zemin has opted for political stability by shoring up the social sources of the party. Even as social unrest grows in the countryside and industrialised towns, as economic problems mount in state owned corporations and through huge misallocations of capital, the elite continues their path of controlled modernisation by entering the WTO. By sitting on the new generation who favour political solutions, the gerontocracy is gambling that it can prevent a social explosion without diluting its power. And every fragile leadership will turn to space and war to shore up its support. First taikonauts, then Taiwan
Zimwatch: Immiserisation and Kleptocracy

Many conservatives will call for action over the kleptocratic revolution that is consigning Zimbabwe's whites to exile and its peasantry to starvation, but they will be ignored. Despite the calls for action from Australia, New Zealand and Britain's Tories, Zimbabwe is not considered important enough to merit any further attention. The government appears to be too strong to be overthrown without external support and that can only be provided by the neglectful South Africa that wishes to contain the monster and prevent further immigration.

Africa displays enough examples of national ruination to dispel any short-term hopes of a post-Mugabe era but the time will come when he cannot feed his own supporters. Let us hope they view Ceacescu as a salutary lesson.

No C-Change here

An interesting discussion on whether or not to pull out of the EU from the avowedly authoritarian Conservative Democratic Alliance. The reason why the discussion is interesting is that certain elements within the Conservative Party are starting to see withdrawal as a potential magnet for recruits. How long before a Tory leadership challenger decides to pull ahead by using this to appeal to the membership.

On to the group itself, their discussion forum seems to be a bit of a hotbed, where all the old FCS authoritarians and Monday Clubbers hang out, and they have a rather vitriolic C-Serpent doing battle against the forces of the Tory Reform Group and the evil Portillistas. Rather good fun, even if you do not share their anti-liberal attitudes.
Sunday, August 25, 2002
I, Said The Sparrow, With My Bow and Arrow

A breakdown on Robin Cook and why he may never be leader of the Labour Party, try British spin
Friday, August 23, 2002
As the Sad Season Ends...

No silly season this year, but Sean O'Grady of the Independent provides a succinct summing up of the opposition to Iraq mustered so far in the media by the Labour party and the various outcomes that are possible. Robin Cook unprincipled?

Liberty for All?

Liberty Log, a British Libertarian web log has been banging the drum for war on Iraq, and even sent me an e-mail to say this. The "Libertarian case for war"?

And what lies behind this Liberventionism? Well the desire to make everyone free. The Iraqis, it seems have a fundamental right to change their government.

Obviously we could make the same observations about the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. Very few of them are satisfied with what their Israeli or Hashemite overlords. This however is not the real case at issue here. For all I know the St Andrew's Libertarian club is all for the Palestinian right of self determination.

The issue is really what business of ours. The Iraqis, Kurds and Palestinians are simply not our affair. So they may want Parliamentary government, but I'd like a new computer and the government, my government, has no business providing either. If I genuinely wanted a computer badly enough I'd work more / buy less / borrow / take out of savings or a combination of any of those. I would not go to the government. I would even less go to a foreign government. I would make the sacrifices myself.

Wilsonian (Woodrow rather than Harold) fantasies about self determination are not really libertarian as any decent libertarian would stop at his own borders. Many indeed stop way before then.

If a people want democracy badly enough they'll get it themselves. They'll change their regimes. As bizarre as it sounds many people put democracy behind independence for their tribe, internal security or prosperity. We can see that the Irish over history have often preferred home grown thugs like De Valera, Haughey and perhaps tommorow Adams to perfectly decent British politicians. Baldwin may have been a nicer man but his happy-clappy religious views and his rather educated (if not quite cut glass) English accent were worse than any terror mongering or incipient fascism.

Which brings me to my final observation. Democracy, if it is to be kept, has to be earned. The same goes for liberty and free markets. The arab world may settle down to some stable western like constitutional order, but it won't do it if it's imposed. And to be frank with the present mood on the Arab street do we really think that the West won't simply impose Sheikh Illsellyouallmyoil or General Bidableloony?

Thursday, August 22, 2002
Unfinished Tales

The terrorist bombing on September 11th last year postponed the debate that the trade unions had wished to hold with Tony Blair over the Private Finance Initiative. Now, that can start over as they employ Iraq to muster opposition to the government on Labour's left and with the Liberal Democrats. (Charles Kennedy will address the TUC conference this year confirming the leftist leanings of the third party). For the first time since 1997, foreign developments are defining parts of the political debate and fracturing the 'big tent' that Blair spent so much time piecing together. They got a mention on the state Iraqi news agency.

The Labour Party are demonstrating constitutional labour pains as the convention of parliamentary debate on any initiation of hostilities clashes with Blair's firm use of the royal prerogative to bypass the House of Commons and export the army to any theatre he deems appropriate. The Labour MPs view Iraq as an issue, in step with public opinion, that allows the left-wing to regain the initiative and use the parliamentary party to act as a counterweight to Number 10.

Thus, Jack Straw's current emphasis on a legal review concerning the legitimacy of an invasion and the willingness to discuss weapons inspections, whilst Iraq shows no sign of complying fully with UN resolutions. This administration will make enough noises to show that they have deliberated over the decision, allow a debate and then probably go ahead anyway, in tandem with the US.

Iraq is likely to end up as roadkill on the third way.

Daddy no more

One should point out that there has been a large amount of interesting posting over on Steve Chapman's site recently, who's also stopped calling himself Daddy Warblogs. He has an interesting discussion going on about Transnational Progressivism (if you want to know what it means, read the bloody articles).

So what are they?

The Biased BBC site takes aim at Radio 1 for describing the Iraqi hostage takers as terrorists. They're not as they gave up so easily is the contention.

Of course taking a hostage to protest a regime is using terror for political purposes.

Another line of enquiry that is being remarkably poorly followed is the fundamentalist drive behind much of the opposition to Saddam.

Trivial Pursuit

For those of us who enjoy the trivia of politics there is a new web log British Spin, which is a gossipy site on British politics, a bit more intellectual than it lets on. A bit like the Electric Review. He does claim that British Blogs are overwhelmingly right wing, something I addressed in the dim distant past.
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Keeping Tabs

A rather cruel, but interesting site. The Chickenhawk database is an attempt to shame hawks with their personally less than hawkish war dodging. Although the fact that they list perpetual war critic Pat Buchanan while refusing to list bomber of Belgrade Bill Clinton shows that they are more interested in liberalism than accuracy. Shame really.
Monday, August 19, 2002

Getting Noticed

Congratulations to my improvement on, Christopher Montgomery, for his mention in the Observer. It seems that his other website, Electric Review, has annoyed the powers that be in Conservative Central Office. An excellent show.

They've also got a couple of well informed (if slightly late) pieces on this abortive Start Again Party.
Friday, August 16, 2002

History Lesson

Jo Sobran asks us to remember what Saddam meant to us before August 1990.
Thursday, August 15, 2002
John Charmley

I had the privilege of listening to John Charmley expound on his favourite subject, Churchill, in a lecture and dinner that I attended on Monday. The broadbrush approach did not falter over erroneous details but the entertaining quotations and impressions of a historian familiar with his subject were rewarding.

Charmley points out that there were no appeasers left by 1945 and that Churchill gave all of those who were preparing to learn German in 1940 a myth of national defiance. His utterances have provided baubles of wisdom for three generation of political diplomats who wish to justify their policies in populist terms: by standing on a moral soapbox and denouncing dictatorship in grandiloquent rhetoric without ever spelling out realistic alternatives. Sound familiar?

Remember that after Churchill made his 'iron curtain' speech at Fulton, Missouri, he was attacked as a "warmonger" by the United States press. Yet, within one year, they hailed his foresight and ideological perceptiveness, and turned away from Kennan's support for 'communist nationalism'.

This does not decry Churchill's courage but history needs to winnow out the man from the myth if we are ever to set a course away from the shadow of this diplomatic Ozymandias.

Saddam gets it wrong again

Saddam Hussein is an admirer of Churchill? I'm sure that any self respecting Iraqi nationalist would give much time to a man who pushed for poison gas over the Tigris, but we digress.

Saddam like's Churchill, according to gorgeous George Galloway, because of his independent stance from America.

His what?

Churchill, and it is pertinent to point out his American ancestory here, was slavish in his devotion to America. It could well be argued that this was a result of the dire situation in Britain in 1940, and we did need every friend we could get (who got us there, we digress again). His devotion to the British Empire and the Free Market were sacrificed to Roosevelt's United Nations and Marshall Plan. Churchill agitated for the Cold War, not in his native land but in his mother's. His History of the English Speaking Peoples is gloriously well-written mystical Anglospheric nonsense.

The Anglosphere cult get an awful lot wrong, but they are right to put Churchill as their idol. He was surely one of them.

Leaving Alone

There is speculation and more speculation that Israel may hit out at Iraq. What should Britain do?

Absolutely nothing.

While I have been critical of our Middle Eastern policy being dictated (via Washington) by Israeli interests, I am equally against helping the A-rabs.

Equal opportunity non interventionist, that's me.
Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Tony Blair, you're no Maggie Thatcher

An awfully useful piece about the popularity of war leaders from Basically if your looking for electoral popularity, the flak jacket is about as lasting as Tony Blair's attention.

I've always thought that it would have been useful to conduct a thorough survey of the opinion poll data emanating from the 1983 election. The "Falklands factor" has been used by the left for a generation to retrospectively steal the Conservative triumph. My feeling then, and my feeling now, is that this was an election won mostly on Economics. The sad fact is that most Conservatives have accepted the left's narrative.

This doesn't just lead Conservatives away from the useful conclusion that tax cuts and deregulation can win elections, it also leads all parties to think that winning wars will win elections. Of course America in 1992 and Britain in 1945 should disabuse us of this falacy, but the stake through the heart of this particular undead myth would be some proof as to why Maggie really won.

If politicians get the message that the electorate only care if you lose wars then remaking the world will seem less attractive.
Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Slowly Returning

It is a truth rarely acknowledged that interfering in another country's affairs will either have unintended consequances, or if your lucky few consequances at all. If this article in Rantburg is anything to go by, Afghanistan may be on the wasn't worth fighting for list rather than the now its ten times worse list.

On second thoughts there may be a number of heroin dealers who think things have got a lot better now that we've brought back the war lords.

Other Country's Wars

Paul Gottfried writes on the German situation, and gives good reasons as to why European countries should not join in the forthcoming war.

What will be interesting is whether the German election will swing towards the beleagured Social Democrats after their anti-war comments. If so will Brown take any notice.

Real Libertarians?

The Telegraph is all aquiver about a proposed "Libertarian Conservative" breakaway. Now I'm not going to go into the practicalities, although I have reservations on that.

What I would find interesting would be how Libertarian they are on foreign policy. Already they say that they are dismayed by the party's turn on Europe. So their solution to the decline in poll ratings will be to dump the only popular Tory policy at the moment.

Now how can Libertarianism apply to foreign policy? Well it should be a no-brainer. Libertarianism calls for the state to be stripped to its essential functions (I won't go into anarcho-capitalism). Therefore defence is OK, but worrying about religious diversity in the Middle East or the price of oil is about as relevant as funding lesbian collectives in Camden.

However knowing the way in which most British Libertarians and young right wing Tories think, there will be one hundred and one excuses to be made to basically follow Americans.

One can't blame them, after all it's what Maggie would do. Unfortunately they still think that they are libertarian in any realistic sense of the word.
Monday, August 12, 2002

Why trust the papers?

As a former Telegraph devotee I get distressed when I see my old daily read being proved time and again to be not just wrong, but intentionally so. Is it possible to trust it at all?

The latest episode is from the European Foundation Intelligence Digest:

One of the main "insiders" called by the prosecution in the case against the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Miloševic, Rade Markovic, testified at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague last week - and proudly proclaimed his former boss innocent. Prior to his appearance, Markovic was welcomed in the press as the man who would finally provide proof that Miloševic had ordered acts of ethnic cleansing and other atrocities. He had served as Head of the Secret Services under Miloševic and was expected, as such, to provide crucial testimony. Marc Temo of Libération, for instance, said that "to date, no such an important insider has come to testify". [Libération, 26th July 2002] But when Markovic did testify, the reaction of the press was distinctly frosty. Most news outlets reported the fact that Markovic confirmed that Miloševic controlled the army and the police, the Daily Telegraph even running articles entitled "Miloševic knew of Kosovo atrocities". This was exactly the opposite of what Markovic said. Not only did he explicitly deny receiving any orders to ethnically cleanse Kosovo or to commit any acts of violence against the civilian population, Markovic testified that he "told (local officials) that presidential orders are that the flow of refugees must be stopped," [Associated Press, 26th July 2002].

Etc, etc.

And why not?

If a meglomaniac dictator is seemingly on the cusp of developing weapons of mass destruction is there any alternative to invasion. Eric Margolis says look to North Korea.

Onwards and Inwards

This Times article contends that EU expansion may not be a done deal. Many Poles and Balts don't like the idea either.
Sunday, August 11, 2002
Placing Morality above Interest

Simon Heffer has returned to the flaws in Britain's foreign policy under the Blair administration in his latest contribution to the Sunday Telegraph and starts off sensibly with the suggestion of closing down the Foreign Office. A statement of our relationship with other countries reduces to trade or war: actions designed to defend or enrich ourselves.

From such a promising start, this columnist attacks Blair for introducing the culture of spin into foreign policy and using Britain as a grandstand for his own posturing as "Assistant Saviour of the World". This is where I part company with Heffer as there is little evidence that our foreign policy is currently driven by opinion polls although it is aware of domestic restlessness. If Blair struts across our television screens at another junket, it is no more and no less than previous leaders have done.

Heffer does not attack the roots of Blairite foreign policy: an ethical foreign policy that follows and folds our interests into the tenets of liberal internationalism, couched in the rhetoric and sanctimoniousness of political correction. They deny discussion of Britain's interests on the grounds that their policy is moral. However, Heffer does not decry this moral discourse that currently suffocates foreign policy debate in public but uses it to privilege his own focal points: Gibralter and Zimbabwe.

However, we punch above our weight to a suicidal degree, and our increasingly unconvincing support of America risks jeopardising that crucial alliance while simultaneously reducing Mr Blair's credit among his pals in Europe.

If the Prime Minister wants to engage in real foreign policy rather than just pose, he must make what he likes to call "hard choices". He has to judge the difference between right and wrong better than hitherto, which means no more sucking up to Libya or Iran.

He has to start making unequivocal judgments about the threat by foreign powers to the interests of Britain, whether it be in Saddam's capacity to drop anthrax in Trafalgar Square, or Mugabe's racist murdering of British subjects in Zimbabwe.

It appears that Simon Heffer would not be able to judge Britain's current interests unless the scales of moral indignation drop from his eyes.
Friday, August 09, 2002

Squeaky Clean Europeans

This from Private Eye:

Publicity over the computer failings and other inadequacies in the European Commission's ability to police the EU budget have produced the usual response from the Welsh Windbag, aka commission vice-president Neil K.innock that everything is under control. No doubt he would say the same about the Eu's anti-fraud unit OLAF, where for more than a year the commission has patiently waited for its appointed director of investigations and operations to arrive.

The appointment of Italian investigating magistrate Alberto Perducca in April 2001 has been blocked ever since by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has very good reason to hate magistrates. They are constantly investigating Tony's great pal for fraud.

Berlusconi insists that Turin prosecutor Perducca needs his permission to leave or must resign as a magistrate and claims the appointment was not transparent - a charge denied by OLAF. Perducca is one of three magistrates selected by OLAF and backed by the previous Italian government.

This is a curious claim to make about the commission whidh is run by an Italian, Romano Prodi, and dominated by national nepotistic fiefdoms in many departments, with the Italians prime beneficiaries. The two other magistrates who were awarded temporary positions were threatened with the loss of pension rights and the right of return to their former positions after OLAF. Berlusconi's attitude is seen as harsh in an Italian civil service where two jobs - one real, one of the jacket on the chair variety - are not unknown.

But instead of forcing Perdueca to choose or selecting an alternative candidate who could take up the post immediately and get on with the job, OLAF' kept pressing Ucrlusconi to let his people go. Curiously Perducca was passed over in 1999 for the job of OLAF's top cop. That post instead wcnt to German Franz-Herman Bruner, who personally chose Perducca.

One Italian magistrate has defied the govemment and has arrived in Brussels, He is now facing disciplinary proceedings in Italy. The
other decided to return to Italy. Now it is said that Perducca will finally arrive later this month to take up his post and no dcubt also face disciplinary action.

In the meantime the role of top investigator has been carried out by an acting Eurocrat - a common phenomenon inside OLAF / UCL.AF/ WE-ALLLAF. The current organisational chart shows no less than 10 senior posts held by acting officials rather than permanent appointments.

The approach taken towards the Perducca affair, even if it is now resolved, is far from satisfactcuy and shows once again just how
seriously Kinnock and his colleagues take fraud.

It must be said that just because Prodi's Italian doesn't mean that he hasn't got it in for Berlusconi, quite the opposite.

The Stable Eurozone Redux

Italy's near the brink:

Debts in Italy are at a record level and the fiscal yield is decreasing. The figures from Bankitalia, Italy’s central bank, show a different picture than the one portrayed by the government. Whilst government figures showed that there was an incremental rise in fiscal yield of 1.5%, Italy’s central bank showed a decrease of 0.4%.

Is Blair Next?

Romania has been caught in the crossfire between the EU and America on the international criminal show trial. Familiar to anyone following "British" foreign policy?

EU: Defender of Freedom

The worrying moves of EU countries to supress radical views in the same way as the Germans have been doing takes another step forward. Poland is not allowing Eurosceptics to open provincial offices. Probably xenophobia or something.
Thursday, August 08, 2002
The Hypocrisies of Right and Left

After the first meeting between a British foreign minister and Colonel Qaddafi since the death of Yvonne Fletcher in 1984, there is the definite firming of contacts as Libya has entered the dance of negotiation and gift exchange. For, whatever the outrages that Libya may have perpetrated, it is now in Britain's interest to maintain and expand contacts with such a regime in order to maintain communication, intelligence, an awareness of the regime's attitude towards ourselves and their cooperation in bringing these grievances to a close.

However, Simon Heffer of the Daily Mail excoriates the Foreign Office's ethical foreign policy with his hyperbole.

"Britain has much cause to remember the evil of Gaddafi. His men murdered WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in St James's Square, London, in April 1984. For that crime alone, never mind anything else, we should have no dealings with Libya until Gaddafi is in his grave."

"We were once supposed to have an ethical foreign policy : but there are more ethics in a drugs den run by a kleptomaniacal pimp than are currently exhibited by the Foreign Office."

However, Heffer demonstrates the propensity of many conservatives to find the line of least criticism and join the government in a game of ethics that views foreign policy as a competition in morals rather than a debate to examine Britain's proper interests. As the right has abandoned realpolitik, and draws on the interwar period for inspirational rhetoric, employing a pseudo-Churchillian spine that spurns all contact with terror, they lose impact as there is a preference for pragmatic hypocrites over virtuous nullity.

The same game is played on the Left with the government's 'ethical dimension' coming under attack from hand-wringing bishops and dissident MPs, in relation to the possible war with Iraq.

The Left, in its European, British or dissident forms unconsciously emulates the liberal utopians of the 1920s, such as Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann, who tried to write international laws to govern and remove conflict from Western civilisation during unauspicious times. The parallels with the current projects of the United Nations, like the International Criminal Court, suggest that the Left has forgotten the primacy of Machtpolitik.

That is why the realpolitik employed by our political masters, coupled with a loyalty to liberal international institutions and the rule of law, has disturbing consequences. Contact with terrorists and the enemy has been a permanent theme in diplomacy but, if you are determined to meet your opponents and grant some of their demands, there is always a danger that the results of such diplomacy blind you to the needs of your own interests. In order to maintain stability or peace, you enter a Stockholm syndrome where such results and meeting the interests of your opponents become an end in their own right, and can only be maintained through further appeasement. Thus, the peace process in Northern Ireland or the possible consequences if Blair were to seek a diplomatic solution to Iraq through the United Nations.

By placing foreign policy under a moral lens, New Labour maintains the straitjacket of the events leading up to the Second World War that blinds British foreign policy and leads both Right and Left to maintain the rhetoric and symbols of that period whilst forgetting the lessons. Was not another National government with an overwhelming majority run by appeasers?
Wednesday, August 07, 2002
The European Convention

Giscard D'Estaing and the Praesidium are now retiring for their summer break after a long debate keeping the bureaucratese simmering for the autumn resolutions. They have managed to set up six working groups: Subsidiarity, The Charter/European Convention of Human Rights, Legal Personality, National Parliaments, Complementary Competencies and Economic Governance. For a consultative body, these people know how to emulate the Founding Fathers.

However, in June and July, two further working groups are due to be established in external action and "freedom and security".

Focussing on the former, the Convention stated that the EU should function with a stronger voice on the global stage and debated the issue of a common versus a single foreign policy. Apart from the idea of a single representative, mooted by the Commission earlier, the delegates wished to introduce qualified majority voting into the common security and foreign policy, allowing nations to opt out through 'constructive abstention', with a 'coalition of the willing' setting up a position so long as no one nation objected.

On the issue of security, most of the delegates favoured more moralistic centralisation, increasing the interoperability of each nation's armed forces, but only taking action under a UN mandate. More dangerously, they wished to bring the armaments trade under the aegis of the Treaty and establishing a 'European armaments agency'. A very adverse development for British foreign policy, in this area.

The Convention is proposing developments along the lines set out last year by the national governments but, when they are fleshed out, provide further evidence for the centripetal trend towards a European policy that hollows out and eventually replaces national voices. The devil is in the detail.

* Note that all EU documents are in pdf format so Adobe Acrobat is required to read the texts.

Our tax money at work

A gift from the Embassy of the United Kingdom to the Polish Government has become the most exposed element of an EU promotional campaign launched on Thursday in Warsaw. The gift, a bus, was sent by the Polish commissioner in charge EU integration, laden with a 12-person crew, to visit around 40 cities where they are set to “promote European information”. was told by an embassy official that the bus was previously used by the UK Embassy to promote the UK and the EU in Poland. On previous occasions the British bus had been used for EU campaigns such as Schuman Day, a yearly Pro-European manifestation in Warsaw.

Get the Euro. Lose Your Job

Eurozone unemployment hits 8.4 per cent

What are the Tories for?

Were are the Powellites? Were are the ex-military types? Were are the Americo-sceptics?

The Tory backbenches, of fond memory a section of the nation that cared about independence and Britain acting in its own interests has shown at best the intellectual depth of a puddle:

Over 160 MPs have signed leftwinger Alice Mahon's anti-war Commons motion since it was tabled in March, including 130 Labour MPs, nationalists, Liberal Democrats, but no Tories.

However the article is quite a useful summary of the current opposition to joining in the Bush family vendetta.

Is Liberty turning Eurosceptic?

Liberty is now backing the Metric Martyrs in taking their case to the ECHR. First Fair Trials Abroard and now Liberty. Will Euroscepticism start to be a cause for the trendy left?

I doubt it. I am starting to think that the European Union is a dastardly plot by The Right to discredit the center and left by getting them to argue for identity cards and against jury trials all for the sake of "Europe". In a decade or so the intellectual discrediting of the left should be complete.

Speed Demons

How many British troops are likely to be wasted due to friendly fire in Iraq?

Will drugging US pilots with amphetamines help this situation?

Will they stop talking about friendly fire and start putting British fatalaties down to a bad trip?

The perils of unconditional support

Yesterday we were expected to fight the Iranians and today the Saudis. Is Blair really being consulted as he puts this nations strategic interests on the line?
Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Should I be nice to Europe?

The EU has come out against this Iraq bombing. So should I perhaps be a bit nicer to them now?

Well, no. I'm not a actually against the Iraqi invasion, just against British participation in it. It simply isn't in our interest to do anything about it one way or the other. There is no way that Iraq is going to be able to be any more threatening to us than the IRA is, the oil price is not as much a concern to us as it is to any other major industrailised power and the national aspirations of the Kurds or Israelis are simply a matter for the Kurds and Israelis. So opposition to the worlds biggest power is stupid as long as neutrality is an option. Tyning ourselves to the weak and declining European Union is stupidity on stilts.

However what will be interesting will be to see the way in which Mr Blair is torn. Which foreign power should he suck up to today? What will be certain is that he won't think about the national interests of the country he governs.

Being Fair to Rumsfield

Tom Fox tears at Rumsfield for doing dirty deals with Saddam during the Gulf War.

One phrase forcefully struck me "Saddam was an ally of the Reagan administration". Was he?

He certainly invaded Iran with America's blessing and it started on September 22 1980. Now Ronnie was elected in November 1980 and inagurated in January.

The point of this? In the end administrations and elected governments rarely have their own foreign policy except at the margins. The interests, and perceptions of those interests, change on non-electoral cycles.
Monday, August 05, 2002

The Cakewalk continues

Of course this war in Iraq will be so easy to control now that elements in Iran want to fight America if they invade Iraq.

But not to worry as the pro-war hardliners are just a band of ideological nutcases with no military experience - and the same goes for the Iranian fundamentalists as well.
Sunday, August 04, 2002
Fast Track

The Senate decided to allow Bush to take more of an initiative in the WTO Doha round by passing a fast track vote, 215-212. The putative Steel trade war also appears to have calmed down a little after the US blinked when the EU threatened retaliatory action.

That is why it was a nonstarter for Blair to ask for concessions in this area as our trade policy does not exist. It belongs to the EU lock, stock and barrel and even if events move in our interest, it still demonstrates our impotence as one voice amongst fifteen.
Friday, August 02, 2002

If they've got nothing to hide

Most reporting of the Iraqi refusal to permit weapons inspectors makes it out to be bull headed. So it's nice to be reminded of the way in which the UN allowed itself to be infiltrated by American intelligence. As the New York Times put it:

United States officials said today that American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors ferreting out secret Iraqi weapons programs.... By being part of the team, the Americans gained a first-hand knowledge of the investigation and a protected presence inside Baghdad.

Rather pertinent information. Would Israel accept unmasked Syrian spies monitoring Army installations as part of any ceasefire agreement?

(By the way, before any e-mails come in on this - I don't think that Saddam's a nice guy)

Bad News

Don't speak. Just Die

Sam Francis comes out with a fairly concise piece as to why war on Iraq would be a bad idea. Good, and rather standard. The best bit is this:

High-level Civilian No. 1, apparently, is Richard N. Perle, head of the Defense Advisory Board, who assured the Post that "ultimately, U.S. policy on Iraq will be set by civilians," that it will involve a "political judgment," and that the brass hats in the Pentagon who are skeptical about a war "aren't competent" to make" it.

And they want these guys to look after our money?

An accountant who's been disciplined by the European Commission for whistleblowing is claiming that the whole project is open to fraud and uncheckable - worse than Enron. And the main person responsible for the cover up is that failed politician Neil Kinnock.

Well they would say worse than Enron, but who needs safeguards if you can't go broke until the suffering taxpayers do?
Thursday, August 01, 2002


It seems that if you are sceptical about anything this coming war with the Arab world they can say what they like about you. Now I've been called a lefty by many of the Anglosphere types who are less aware of the history of conservatism, but now I'm being called a lefty by left wingers. Go and see for yourself.

It seems that some chap known as Brian Linse has decided to open a site that "is open to any lefties who post regularly and maintain interesting sites." And he included li'l ole me.

Now I do post regularly and I hope my site is interesting, but being of the left? Please.

I suppose being for hanging, hunting and gold (standard) is not enough for some people. Just because too many Conservatives can't think straight on foreign policy, does not mean that I'm not a Conservative. It's their credentials that need examining.

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