Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Sceptics corner

"The madness of war with Iraq" by that tie-died lefty General Sir Michael Rose.

And there's also Bill Morris, who doesn't breathe without Gordon Brown's permission. So if this whole thing goes wrong...

Send 'em home and let 'em hang

So we have this tribunal decision that says that foreign terrorists can't be held forever without a trial*. Is this good news?

On the face of it it should be. This was obviously at least in part an attempt by the government to see how far they could get away with undermining habeus corpus, and on those grounds at least there should be some grounds for celebration. Except there isn't. The government would have been perfectly OK to detain these pesky firiners if they were also at liberty to detain free born Englishmen. And as no free-born Englishmen are allowed to be detained then no one will be detained.

This means that the detentions are perfectly legal if they relate to a threat against the nation - on secret evidence, and a threat against the nation is the war on terror, and the war on terror can never really be said to stop. Furthermore the government will not make this detention legal by strengthening judicial safeguards, but by also giving itself the liberty to detain without trial British subjects. So the result of this is that the government now has an open ended right to detain British citizens. Very liberal.

Now how did we get to this mess in the first place? Well the rot starts, as it usually does, with Europe. This time its the European Convention on Human Rights. You see not only are we not allowed to use the death penalty, but we are not allowed to send terror suspects back to where they came from if that country has the death penalty.

It says so in the legislation:

23 Detention

(1) A suspected international terrorist may be detained under a provision specified in subsection (2) despite the fact that his removal or departure from the United Kingdom is prevented (whether temporarily or indefinitely) by-

(a) a point of law which wholly or partly relates to an international agreement, or

Now that point of law relates to sending back criminals where they will get fried by their own governments and the international agreement is the European Convention of Human Rights.

So thanks to the ECHR we are not allowed to send foreign criminals back to foreign governments, but we are allowed to detain free-born Britons indefinately. Got that?

* No this is not Guatanamo Bay, you should have followed the link.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Biased Again?

Spot the logical disconnection in this BBC article on Sierra Leone:

Para 1

British troops are due to complete their withdrawal from Sierra Leone on Sunday ...

Para 2

The British Government is satisfied that its military presence in the country can be reduced...

How can a withdrawal be complete if you still have active troops there? Are we trying to make out that we are not overstretced?

An e-mail of complaint has been sent.
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Withdrawal from Sierra Leone

Now that political stability has returned to Sierra Leone, the United States consider the location important enough to construct a logistics depot, providing a base for African troops to provide humanitarian assistance and conflict resolution in West Africa.

The UK peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone has now officially ended its mission with two hundred soldiers returning to base. One hundred soldiers are left training the Sierra Leonean security forces and the UK is committed to returning troops if the country should return to instability. However, their role is replaced, in a low-key manner, by the United States acting within the West African theatre and unable to rely upon its traditional base in the region, wartorn Liberia.

Whilst one would welcome the reduction of British overseas commitments, this withdrawal is probably a pigeon step undertaken to prepare for the war in Iraq.
Friday, July 26, 2002

But what are colonies for?

Gibraltar does not like this deal (as yet unspecified) between Britain and Spain. A referendum is to be called to show that the consent of the Rock will not be given.

But surely this is all beside the point. After all being part of the British realm in the end means that you can call on Her Majesty's forces to enforce your claims (in this case not to be subjected to compulsory paella eating competitions or to take part in whatever they do to donkeys). Which means that it is the taxpayers who pick up the tab.

So in the end the issue of whether we should keep Gibraltar or send them to flamenco classes is not in the gift of the rockizens, but in the gift of the British government. If it is is in the interests of the metropolitan power (that is England) to keep this swarthy and Papist population under Her Majesty's beneficient protection, then so be it. In the short term the talks are doing nothing but harm with regard to the Falklands (just why are we still there?) and Ulster. In the long term there may be a case that Gibraltar will help us keep clear the North Atlantic sealanes - although its position astride the Med is not important to us now that we've given up India.

However what should not be allowed to happen is to let the population of the Rock dictate whether or not they should be a part of Britain. Other people's democracies are simply none of our business.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
The 'war on terror', missile defence and the US woos Europe

The House of Commons Defence Select Committee criticised the Blair administration for a confused response to terrorist threats by Al-Qaeda. The air of masterly inactivity that all thought hid 'behind the scenes' moves to counter the terrorist threat, cloaked by the British devotion to secrecy, has proved to be frenetic and incompetent complacency, lots of noise achieving little. Not something that this government has been accused of in the past...

A further blow to this government's ambitions to stand as Bush's principal ally in Europe must be two further developments this week on missile defence: the Americans softened up the Danes in order to obtain permission to use the radar base at Thule; Boeing has joined forces with the Franco-German combine, EADS, to pursue joint research on missile defence. (Boeing has already signed a similar understanding with BAE Systems).

What these developments show is that the US does not really have to worry about keeping the United Kingdom onside, and therefore expends its diplomatic energies on more unreliable allies. Furthermore, as our sole defence contractor, is the Anglo-American BAE Systems, our defence industry is now so tied into the US military-industrial complex, that it is possible to state that our defence has become a sub-contractor to the Pentagon, and no longer has the primary purpose of defending our shores.

Within such constraints, there is one move that Britain and BAE Systems can take to prevent a stronger defence industry in Europe that is independent of British influence. EADS does not have the systems platforms to add to their aerospace infrastructure, a deficiency that BAE rectified when it bought the defence companies of Marconi. BAE would be wise to snap up Thales, the French contractor, and deny EADS the opportunity of setting up a rival systems specialist in European defence.

So, it is a Nazi plot...

With all the furore about the Rik Mayall joke and John Laughland's Tainted Source we all had our suspicions about the EU, but now the European Court of Human Rights is getting in on the act.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002

The Post Suez Cringe

Tony Blair has said that if Europe wishes to become a superpower then she should start to be nice to the Americans.

Firstly let's get rid of this idea that Europe is somehow on the path of superpower status. With the exception of the UK, France and possibly Spain the armies are either small (Holland), amateur (Germany) or both. Even if you put them together they would be far too concerned about whether they reach the correct quota of Greek speaking one-armed Lesbians that there would be no real time for fighting.

And as far as being an up and coming power, forget it. Every previous world power has had a long gestation of economic dynamism. Now some parts of Europe did manage this for a couple of decades after the Cold War, but that soon died away. An up and coming power needs a rate of growth somewhere near, let's see, China's.

However, let's indulge the fantasy that Europe will be a superpower in the near future. Will it then be possible to be nice to America? Of course we'll be treading on each others' toes as young and dynamic Europe (stop sniggering) takes over from the aged superpower.

Blair's "analysis" says more about the post-Suez cringe of the British ruling class than about anything in the real world.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Zimbabwe: Extended Sanctions

The EU has extended "smart" (?) sanctions against 52 of the Zimbabwean elite, one for each week in the year. The Daily Herald announces that those discriminated against are trying to make Africans richer....

We're getting out time soon. Hamid Karzai, our man in Kabul, has sacked his bodyguards in favour of American ones. Now tell me again about how the Afghans would be able to set up a stable and independent government while at the same time trying to beat up the Pashtuns (sorry the "Taliban sympathisers").

Also, follow the links in this piece about Badshah Khan to see how stable things really are in the Hindu Kush.
Monday, July 22, 2002
European Civilisation shifts from West to East

An interesting if mawkish article in the Spectator showing the ingratitude of the EU to sister nations in the East, cradles of Hapsburg sophistication, that are now viewed as benighted peasantries that present a threat to the subsidised hordes of Fortress Europe. If they remain outside with their educated workforces and more liberal policies, how long before they overtake the poorer peripheries of Iberia and Greece?

The only unconvincing part was on the lack of crime in these parts as a walk around Tallinn or Riga soon raises one's hackles.

Going to the dark side

When the EU was a part of the anti-Soviet alliance, Michael Foot was agin it. Now he's for it. It seems he's only loyal to betrayal. The libel jury were wrong.

Zim: Opposition MP's wife murdered

By her hubby.
Sunday, July 21, 2002
Why did he go?

Jack Straw has just completed his visit to India and Pakistan where both leaders failed to make space in their busy schedules for him. The BBC conclude that there is no sign of progress and Straw accepted the Pakistani claim that infiltration had lessened but it has not stopped.

Whilst the BBC could not bring themselves to use the phrase, snubbed, it is clear that neither India nor Pakistan sees much use for international diplomacy whilst their demands for an end to infiltration of terrorists and a dialogue to determine the future of Kashmir are not met. Moreover, as Great Britain had sold arms to India, the Pakistani media were unwilling to view this visit sympathetically.

War in Kashmir remains on the agenda.
Friday, July 19, 2002

Preparing for treason

The Treasury's prposal to introduce the Euro in a shade over two months has Lionel Mandrake contemplating the political consequances.

Up the strikers!

So what are we to make of this bust up in Amicus? Hay, I would suggest.

Whichever way this goes, the most outspoken pro-Euro union baron has either been toppled or discredited. Two years ago it looked like the CBI and the union movement would be urging a Euro yes vote. No longer.
Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Apologise to whom?

So the IRA apologise for non-combatant deaths. Will they apologise for Ian Gow, Anthony Berry and Robert Bradford, whose crime was to be union friendly politicians?

Know thine enemy

The anglosphere primer has been HTML'd and is now open to perusal for all devotees of the Anglosphere cult.
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
A Region fraught with peril

East Asia and South Asia remain the potential regions for conflict with Kashmir, Taiwan and Korea providing major flashpoints for future conventional wars. The most quiescent at the moment is Taiwan although the Pentagon has warned that China remains geared up for an invasion.

The 'special relationship' foundered east of Suez after Harold Wilson wisely avoided any entanglements in Vietnam. There has been little or no reason to coordinate US and UK military actions in Asia since the 60s apart from Afghanistan and currently, Nepal.

However, the potential for conflict remains high and there is always a possibility that close allies of the US like ourselves may be called upon to provide international and military support if war were to flare up in the Straits of Taiwan or on the Korean peninsula.

Would Blair refuse any US request?


The fix ain't in any more. Jean Claude Trichet will be facing fraud allegations after all. This chap, the governer of the Banque de France was tipped to be the new chairman of the European Central Bank. Of course some previous experience with fraud should be a useful qualification, but the ECB is worried about its reputation.

The old governor is about to go, meaning that some Greek chap is poised to take over.

One shouldn't laugh, no really.

Question: Why does the BBC have links to two outdated stories "Tremendous success" and "Euro soars vs pound" when not having anything about the decline of the Euro either before or the retrenchment during January when it started falling against the pound back to its old levels? It's a damn good thing that the BBC is in no ways biased.

It's Our Fault

This time it is. Islamic Millitants from the UK are even more crucial to Al Qaeda than we thought.

So will we reassess immigration to the UK? Don't be stupid we've got Iraq to invade.

Off the Balance Sheet

I know that this has been highlighted by others, but this Telegraph article on EMU is a must read.
Monday, July 15, 2002

Just Deserts

Now that the gang who have murdered Daniel Pearl have been convicted let's hope that our Foreign Office don't decide to try and commute the death sentence of Ahmed Omar Saeed the British born ringleader. With our recent behaviour, what's the chance of that?
Friday, July 12, 2002
'Gibraltar - Negotiations saved' or 'Gibraltar - Negotiations shelved'

These may be the headlines that Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, is hoping to view in the media tomorrow with his restatement that Britain is willing to share sovereignty on Gibraltar.

This announcement could be viewed as a last-ditch move to breathe some life into negotiations that had stalled due to the British unwillingness to accept Spain's claims to full sovereignty with no say for the inhabitants of the Rock. Spain's government had moved the Foreign Minister, Josep Pique, in a ministerial reshuffle, and this appears to have been interpreted by the FCO as Spanish disinterest in further talks.

The FCO could have let the talks wither away but appear to wish for a permanent settlement. However, the wish to obtain a "strategic alliance" with Spain in Europe will founder as Straw did restate the non-negotiable conditions (at this point in time):

1. that any settlement is approved by the Gibraltarians in a referendum;
2. that Britain retains full control of the military facilities; and
3. that there is no move to full sovereignty.

Is this Straw telling Spain this far and no further and beginning to fill in the grave on the Gibraltar talks or is it a further invitation to coax the Spaniards back to the table? We shall see.

Does Michael Know?

Michael Portillo's erstwhile mentor, Maurice Cowling, wrote a piece against British involvement in the Second World War. And here it is.

Link courtesy of the Electric Review.


Iain Murray prints out some interesting feedback on why we shouldn't give Gibraltar to Spain, at least not yet. Get past the bit where he talks about consent of the governed (and what about the consent of the metropolitan power?) Gibraltar will open up some wormcans in the Falklands and Northern Ireland.

In the long term we cannot viably protect the Falklands - at least not with the current defence expenditure - and the best course for Northern Ireland is independence from both the Irish and the English. Gibraltar can come later.

Looks like it's too late.

We're no longer welcome

As far as the US right is concerned, new Labour is now on a par with other whingeing Europeans claims John Lloyd.
Thursday, July 11, 2002

Biased Broadcasting Corp

The BBC web site breathlessly reports an "anti-corruption group", Judicial Watch, creating so much trouble for Dick Cheney.

Funny how they called it a "right-wing lobby group" when they were pestering Clinton.

Something we didn't know

Milton Friedman says that the EU is due to collapse in ten years or so. Credit due to David Farrer.
Tuesday, July 09, 2002

How Much?

The UN wants £7 billion a year to fight AIDS. And where will the money really go?

Here's how to do it

Eric Margolis points out that Switzerland set up a defence system that worked. Remember they were not indebted to anyone when they came out of the Second World War, nor did they have to surrender the bulk of their territory.

And where are the Swiss in Afghanistan?
Monday, July 08, 2002

Turkish lite

Mass resignations in the Turkish government. Why should this worry us? Hyperinflation? No. The fact that this is the IMF's biggest creditor? Not particularly.

The fact is that Turkey is "leading" the peacekeepers in Northern Afghanistan (not to be confused with those "hunting down Al Qaeda" in Southern Afghanistan). Bankrupt and divided, and our biggest allies.

With government ministers being assasinated how long before we are called back in?

Going out of our minds

Britain is preparing to devote 30 000 troops to toppling Saddam. With a fighting force of 90,000 and an effective force of under two thirds of that (that's training, leave, etc, etc) that means that we are going to devote more than half of our army to a war in which we have no interest.

Let's recap things:

1) Iraq blocking off the oil supply isn't all bad news for an oil exporter like the UK.
2) Not that Islamic extremism has much to do with the UK, but Saddam is hardly baddy number 1 in this respect, or in the top 5 for that matter.
3) Saddam's survival is not a living mockery to either the Prime Minister's or the Queen's family.
4) What contingency do we have if things kick off in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan (we're still there), Sierra Leone (ditto), etc, etc. Or do we just assume that potential enemies will not deign to attack us while attention is elsewhere.

To devote more than half your army to a task should only be done if the cause is a vital national interest.

And where is the national interest? To be seen as the loyal follower of America?
Friday, July 05, 2002

Again, Le Pen

Talking of Electric Review, this piece on Le Pen says what I was struggling to say. The man may not be the most attractive thing on two legs, but he's no simple fascist.

One thing that should interest Justin Raimondo (who was ever so happy at his success on Libertarian grounds):

Furthermore, Pierre Poujade, his mentor from the 1950s, has only harsh words for he who was once his youngest parliamentarian. The militant shopkeepers' leader told The Observer on 28 April that Le Pen "lied to me about his past. He glorified his army career. He now sits up their in his chateau at Saint-Cloud, spending the millions he got by heaven knows what means and does not represent or care about the little man. I will be voting Chirac next Sunday."

Clay Feet

One of the most depressing ways to spend a day is to reveal the clay feet on one of your minor heroes. So I was rather depressed to read that Percy Craddock, cold water pourer in chief over Chris Patten's insane democratic reforms in Hong Kong, was in fact not a brilliantly cynical diplomat but rather one who followed the Foreign Office line on all important issues from Europe to NATO.

There's a lot of other good stuff on Electric Review.

Who's most important?

Do you remember when President Bush said that America had "no more important relationship in the world" than with Mexico. Obviously this comes above any special relationship that they had with us.

This was said on September 5th 2001, and the conventional wisdom (or at least the wisdom of those that remembered it) said that the steadfast support shown by Britain reminded America just who their most important relationships were with. So it should be news that the White House has repeated this both in March and May this year, and on May it was on national radio.

It's nice to know what the big kids really think of you.
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
>Will Rik Mayall be arrested?

The European Commission has condemned the latest advert for the No to the Euro campaign as "in appalling bad taste and beneath contempt. To suggest this is simply just a laugh is insulting and panders to basic xenophobic instincts".

First of all, the Commission should not be commenting on the internal affairs of a member country in such a partisan manner. It shows how emboldened they are becoming in their need to insinuate themselves into our political debates. Secondly, their use of the word, xenophobia, as a blanket condemnation of those who do not subscribe to their agenda and to slur possible dissidents who could be charged when the new Eurowarrant is brought into existence.

Jasper Carrott's vision of the Europolice banning all unapproved Euro jokes is coming true!!!!

Why international organisations are a Bad Thing

Something I didn't know. From that House of Commons report on the War on Terrorism:

65. We were told during our visits to New York that UNSCR 1373 was exceptional because, although it was drawn up and passed by the fifteen-member Security Council, it obliges all member states to take action. It is, therefore, equivalent to a binding treaty which no state has had the opportunity to negotiate. For this reason, it is extremely important for the success of the UN's activities against terrorism to ensure that member states regard the CTC as legitimate, important, and serving their own interests.

This is a fairly sweeping resolution, especially in dealing with foreign dissidents and suspected money laundering. Looking at this article:

The Security Council, ... 1. Decides that all States shall: ...

(b) Criminalize the wilful provision or collection, by any means, directly or indirectly, of funds by their nationals or in their territories with the intention that the funds should be used, or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in order to carry out terrorist acts;

Of course if the United States took the special relationship as seriously as we do then NORAID would have been shut down. But they are still on line. Odd that.

However having domestic legislation mandated without even being able to vote on it is a bad thing. As this provides at least some of the rationale behind the USA Patriot act (obviously a misnomer) I'd be interested to know if any of the American militia groups are picking up on this. They're right, the UN is dictating domestic legislation.

It would be a good idea to keep Britain on the Security Council. It would be an even better idea to just leave the UN altogether.
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
H of C Report into the 'War on Terrorism'

A moderate and useful document that summarises the recent government position on conflict and looks forward to the impending 'regime change' in Iraq. The report notes that the government has not jumped off the fence on this issue and remains uncommitted to a war in this region.

It is likely that Blair will probably follow Bush into this cauldron, as argued in the Sunday Telegraph by Matthew D'Ancona.
Missile Defence and the UK

Lieutenant-General Ronald Kadish of the Missile Defence Agency set out his stall for co-operation from allies on national missile defence, as reported in the Washington Post. This is one of the first fruits of the abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as it allows the US to share technology and co-operate with interested parties.

Kadish did not play favourites although early options "likely to come up, they said, are basing a radar in Turkey for early warning of missile launches from the Middle East; stationing interceptors in one or more central European countries; or using British shipborne radar technology".

There should be plenty of movement on this in the months ahead although the UK media probably won't break wind on this subject until next year.

Low Price

A lot of people are going to gloat about Bob Geldof outing himself as an oponent of the Euro. What is interesting is that he's taking Mick Jagger's place. Anything to do with a recent knighthood?

Comforting thought

With us giving up control of our skies to this Common European Airspace accidents like this are hardly comforting. As John Wilkinson says "Airspace is a fundamental element of national security and of the sovereignty of individual nation states."

Giving this up, and reducing our safety in the process, simply smacks of treachery.

New Boys

Please welcome Daniel Thomas who has started writing on this web log, he is a student from Reading University. A belated welcome is also due to Phil Chaston who has also been writing here for some time.

Unfortunately due to a bug on blogger they are not recognised at the moment. But welcome them nonetheless.
Monday, July 01, 2002

Time to be nice to W

George Bush has attempted to stimie one ill thought out bit of internationalist nonsense, the International Criminal Court, by stimying another, the UN presence in Bosnia.

And check out the arithmetic from a hostile diplomat:

The diplomat added: "The Americans have already got 99.8 per cent of what they want on this and they are ready to bring down all UN peacekeeping operations to get an extra 0.1 per cent.

Of course there are a number of caveats to add here. The main occupation force is actually under NATO control (so it will be support staff that will go), the US is bound to sign up to some face saving compromise and the silly ideas about imposing democracy on the Middle East are still live and kicking.

But it's an improvement on Gore.

What Happens next?

During the 1970s the socialist state in the UK set up after the second world war began to show obvious signs of collapse. This was before I was born but phrases like Dead left unburied’or the over used ‘Winter of Discontent’ are familiar to me.
The collapse of Britain’s socialism was a disaster of epic proportions to the left and to the people of Britain who had become dependent on state intervention. Sunset industries like mining or steel working which should have slowly declined in importance since the second world war, the jobs thus lost being gradually replaced by jobs in other industries were suddenly destroyed and the market took time to step in and put right the damage of government control. Mrs. Thatcher presided over this collapse and took much of the blame for it but really the finger should point at those before her who did nothing to prevent the collapse.
However even Thatcher, as Sean Gabb says did nothing to role back the boundaries of the state, rather she enabled them to be more clearly defined. This was her contribution to modern British politics. Her legacy, stemming from the collapse of an all pervading state was a country in which the state while still to strong was at least limited, obvious and avoidable.
But if the collapse of socialism in Britain led to a strengthening of market capitalism and to the appearance of the state as a separate entity to the country have other collapses led to similar advancements of other positions? Well the Great War with its conscription and massacre of thousands destroyed many of the ideas of individual liberty and led to higher taxes and elements of state control that have persisted and grown to this day.
The second world war finished this off and gave the government the excuse and ability to expand their power effectively without limits.
However WW1 was a people’s war and it highlighted, or at least so the left said the failings of plutocracy and latent individuality. WW2 was a failure of the liberal German Weimar republic and a demonstration that Britain had responsibility not only for other countries but also to harness the combined power of individuals.
These great 20th Century disasters were failures for the conservative of the libertarian. For the socialist or the fascist they were triumphs and they were capitalised on as anyone who lived in Britain during the period will know.
But whilst Thatcher did the same during the 1980s using ideology from Friedman or Hayek she jumped in to early. She won the election because public services had just collapsed, her ideas won condemnation because she was unable to save then public industries which were just about to collapse.

All of which has nothing to do with Britain’s foreign policy today and most of which is probably based on flawed analysis and information.

But Blair has sent British forces to fight in more wars in five years than Thatcher and Major did in 18. They might not have had hard roles but sightseeing and fireworks in Afghanistan was never anything else but spinning to show the spirit of Anglo-American alliance. Like all of Blair’s ventures it was never actually meant to do anything.
Unfortunately for us and as the American’s found out to their cost the ‘enemy’ do not always respond to the initial force.
Had Thatcher lost, or even been badly hurt during the Falklands war she would have probably lost the next general election. Some wanted Thatcher to loose for just this reason. The same applies for Blair, if he miscalculates and the armed forces get hurt somewhere they should not be, or more likely we get attacked somewhere else, probably London his ‘ethical’ foreign policy will be shown up for the pointless, dangerous damaging and expensive mess it is.
Or rather it would be if someone with influence points it out. If Duncan-Smith who seemed so confident and votable on Question Time last Friday does not realise that blindly supporting the US and concentrating on issues that no one trusts him on will not win him the next election then Blair, or someone worse will be able to spin any disaster to say that it proves that whoever attacks was an enemy in the first place and foreign intervention should go on.
WW1 had state interventionists, WW2 had socialists and the 1970s had Thatcher. Who do we have to capitalise on the eventual setbacks Blair’s regime is going to face?

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