Thursday, August 28, 2003
Free Life Commentary
Issue Number 110
Monday, 25 August 2003
This article and many replies to it will be published in the next issue of Free Life Magazine:

“Nej till Euron”
Fighting the Evil Empire in Another Province
By Sean Gabb

Adlon Hotel, Stockholm, Monday 25th August 2003

With Mrs Gabb, I am in Sweden for two reasons. The first is to address the summer conference of one of the main libertarian movements in Scandinavia. The second is to help strengthen the no campaign in the closing stages of the Swedish referendum on the Euro. It was my intention to write a long account of the things seen and done during this past week, together with observations on the Swedish people and their architecture and language. But I am presently short of time, and the glare of the television lights has dimmed all else but the events they illuminated. I will write at more length when back in England. For the moment, though, I will concentrate on the second reason for my visit.

Late last year, the Swedish Prime Minister - some vain creature whose name escapes me, but who likes to get himself photographed in company with Tony Blair - decided to try pushing his country into the Euro. He announced a referendum, and doubtless imagined that a year of campaigning would so wear out everyone else that he would have his way in the end. Sadly for him, though most of the parties and media and most of the Swedish establishment in general were in favour of giving up the Crown, the Swedish people have so far shown unwilling. With three weeks to go before the vote, the opinion polls continue to report strong opposition. The yes campaign seems to have more money and a better co-ordination of effort than the diverse coalition of movements against joining. But truth and greater commitment have so far been decisive.

Not surprisingly, the campaigners for a yes vote have descended from vague generalities - peace in Europe, more investment and jobs in Sweden, and so forth - to specific falsehoods. The claim at present is that Sweden cannot escape the Euro, since just about every country in Europe either is a member already or is about to become one. Even Britain, they insist, will join within the next few years. This being so, Sweden has no choice.

It was with these claims in mind that one of the more vigorous groups campaigning against the Euro - Medborgare Mot EMU, which is Citizens Against Economic and Monetary Union - decided to bring over some British Eurosceptics to explain that Britain was in fact very unlikely ever to join. This group is led by Margit Gennser, a former Conservative Member of Parliament in Sweden, and has Erik Lakomaa as its Campaigns Director. Together, they chose to invite me, Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute, and Bernard Connolly, former civil servant with the European Commission and author of The Rotten Heart of Europe. We made our presentations this morning at the Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, before an audience of bankers and politicians and virtually all the main Swedish media.

We began at 10:00 am. After a brief introduction by Professor Kurt Wickman, who was chairing the meeting, Madsen Pirie went first. What I like most about listening to Madsen is that beneath the entertaining surface of what he says is a logical structure of argument that lets whatever he says be reconstructed from memory days or even months after the event. I first noticed this at a conference in 1988, when I was able to sit down two days after he had introduced us to the concepts of an internal market and diversity of funding in the National Health Service - dull stuff now, but exciting when explained by one of the people who had just helped think of it - and write three pages without a single note. Today was no exception. Madsen began thus:

“I was first in Sweden 35 years ago. While I was here, you changed from driving on the left of the road to driving on the right. I well remember the endless confusion during the weekend of the change - the traffic jams, the young men and women with their yellow jackets and flags, and the general excitement of the change.

“In retrospect, all Sweden got was to put itself at a disadvantage in a car market that still includes, Britain, Japan, India, and various other important places. I am here again during what may be a process of change, and I can tell you this with pretty near certainty - whatever you may decide in the next few weeks, British driving will continue to be on the left and its politics on the right.”

He now moved to explaining the “five tests” set by Gordon Brown - that is, the political device for ruling out British membership of the Euro until it could be shown not to be bad for the economy. This had not been shown. He dwelt on the considerable differences between the British and European financial economies. For example, 70 per cent of British families owned their homes. 80 per cent of mortgages were advanced under variable rate agreements - that is, payments rose and fell with changes in the lending rate set by the bank of England. This was often very unlike the rest of Europe, where people either rented or bought on fixed rate mortgages. In Europe, a change of interest rates could take 18 months to have an effect on consumer spending. In Britain, the change was almost immediate. This made the activities of whoever is in charge of monetary policy far more important in Britain that elsewhere.

Again, he said, the British economy was far more open and flexible than those on the Continent. Even after six years of Gordon Brown, Britain remained by European standards a country of low taxes and light regulation. This had allowed the country to attract up to 40 per cent of all direct inward investment to the European Union as a whole. “In terms of geography” he said, “Britain is just off the coast of Europe. In economic terms, it is somewhere in the mid-Atlantic - half way between Europe and America.” Nothing that might seriously damage these facts could be considered.

From this, Madsen passed to the political consequences of joining the Euro - how it would increase the regulatory pressures from Brussels. He concluded:

“At the moment, let me assure you, there is an 80 per cent probability that Britain will not join the Euro. If you vote no to the Euro next month, that probability will rise to 100 per cent. Voting no will not leave you isolated in Europe.”

Madsen spoke for about 15 minutes, which was just right for the audience. I saw two campaigners for the Euro looking concerned as they discussed his speech. Next, I spoke. For those who are interested, a recording of my speech will soon be somewhere on the Internet. For those who cannot wait, or do not care to endure my loud, flat voice, what I said went roughly as follows:

“Dr Pirie has explained very convincingly the reasons why, on both micro and macroeconomic grounds, Britain will not join the Euro. I will now explain why, on political grounds, this will not happen.

“You can never under-estimate the vanity and stupidity of politicians - look, for example, at your own Prime Minister. However, what politicians usually want above all is a quiet life. It is perfectly obvious that trying to get Britain into the Euro will give no one in government anything but trouble.

“As in Sweden, there must be a referendum before Britain can join the Euro. The first difficulty with this will be the question. This will inevitably cause an argument. No matter how fair the questions seems to one side, the other will claim bias. Probably, the matter will end up in court, and there is no certainty of what the Judges will rule. The politicians may well find themselves going into a referendum with a question not of their choosing.

“Then there is the matter of funding. The State will give money to both sides, but this will be greatly supplemented by wealthy activists. The result will be a disadvantage for one side. This might also end in court.

“Though the Government might win all cases brought against it, the mere fact of being taken to court would make many of the electors suspect they were being tricked - and this would incline them to vote against joining even if they could think of no other reason.

“Then there is the matter of public opinion. For years now, there has been an overwhelming majority against joining the Euro. No campaign is likely to change this. Most likely, the Government would lose. In theory, it could stay in office having lost a referendum. But the moral damage would be immense, and it might destroy the Government.

“Even assuming a victory, there would be trouble. In the first place, the opponents of entry would not just go away. They would make loud accusations of cheating. Many would turn out to even louder street demonstrations. Some might even start campaigns of civil resistance. In the second, whatever government took us into the Euro would be made to accept the full blame for the next recession. At present, we all know there will be a recession, but no one seems much inclined to blame Gordon Brown. After all, the Conservatives won elections in 1983 and 1992 as the country was bottoming out in very deep recessions. They lost an election in 1997 about half way through one of the most spectacular booms in British history. Since Margaret Thatcher retaught us our economics, we have learnt to regard politics and economics as largely separate matters. In the Euro, we would blame the politicians for any recession. They took us in, we would insist. The Euro caused the recession, we would assert. We would crucify them.

“So what is in it for the Government? The answer is nothing. Tony Blair might look for some reward in Europe - the Presidency, perhaps - but what about Gordon Brown and Jack Straw and David Blunkett, and all the others who would expect to stay behind and live with any resulting mess?

“One should never say never. But assuming some understanding of their self-interest, the various members of the British Government have no reason to lift a finger to get the country into the Euro. It will not happen.

Now, I was warned before giving this speech that - to quote John Cleese - I should not mention the War. I do not think I have. But if I have, I do not think you noticed.

I put in this rather odd final point because some other British Eurosceptics had recently visited and had given credibility to the yes campaign by insisting that the European Union was exactly the same as the Europe intended by the German National Socialists. It seems that most Swedes know the scripts of Fawlty Towers by heart, and we decided to throw in the reference so we could head off the usual boring questions about paranoid xenophobia and whatever. It got a big laugh and a round of applause.

Next came Bernard Connolly. He spoke at much greater length - nearly an hour - and concentrated on the details of which he was a master and Madsen and I were not. He spelt out the corruption and incompetence at the heart of European decision making, giving examples of how economic decisions are made for political ends, and how these are made to work no matter at what cost to productive and allocative efficiency. It was a speech worth hearing, but was too long and involved for me to retain the full threads.

Then there was questioning from the floor, but this produced nothing new and is not something I feel any duty to report.

I will not report the comments I received. But I know I did a good job. I looked smart in my suit. I spoke clearly and fluently. I conformed closely to the Madsen Pirie school of public speaking - “stand up, speak up, shut up”. I also handled a long interview for the television rather well. I had been willing to bet money that no one in the Swedish media would have bothered to find our who I was. But the researchers had been set to work, and I faced a polite grilling about the Candidlist, about the Libertarian Alliance, and about my reasons for not wanting laws against drinking and driving. I answered all questions honestly and dully - that is, I killed any story that might have been under construction. My experience is that straight answers are always the best. This was no exception.

The efforts today of the three British visitors - and mine were less than a third of the whole - have tended to help the no campaign in Sweden. We have not in ourselves made a great difference. But we have helped to knock down the claims that Britain is about the join the Euro, and that Sweden ought to hurry to avoid being left out.

I would normally be dubious about getting involved in the internal politics of another country. But referenda on the Euro are a different matter. The European Union is a threat to all the peoples of Europe. In the face of this common threat, we help ourselves by helping each other. I am sure the Swedish politicians do not intend to take no for an answer in this referendum. As in Denmark and the Irish Republic, their intention, if they lose, is simply to keep holding new referenda until they get the answer they want. However, this may not work. The Euro is an economic disaster. All the promises made in its favour have come to nothing. If the Swedes vote against joining, the British will not even be asked. If Britain stays out, the whole project may begin to unravel.

The Europhiles often call people like me “narrow little nationalists”. We are encouraged to visit other member states of the Europe Union, and to get involved in issues of common importance. We are told to learn that our fellow citizens of the European Union are people just like ourselves, with similar problems and similar hopes. Well, I have taken that advice - and I hope its results will not be pleasing.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Zimwatch: Client State - 27th August 2003, 6.56

The South African Development Community agreed to intervene in its members to maintain internal peace, up to and including the use of force. Under a veneer of regional communalism, the Republic of South Africa has managed to persuade its neighbours to adopt a de facto status as client states.

With their call for sanctions on Zimbabwe to be lifted, it is not difficult to see troops entering the former Rhodesia to preserve the regime of ZANU-PF, if internal resistance were to prove too burdensome for the governing authorities.

The Seychelles have wisely decided to leave this 'empire' before it gets started.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
The Silly Season Is Over - 26th August 2003, 22.15

One could argue that the 'silly season', that staple of August holidays, was sadly truncated this year with the ongoing focus upon the Hutton Inquiry. Nevertheless, the rest of Europe has decided to enjoy the heatwave and take their traditional four week siesta, even if it means that they provide no support for the weak and infirm. However, the European Constitution has begun to twitch the antennae of Europe's pols as they attempt to stop the wheels following off their unwieldy trolley.

Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, was providing this line in Prague. A strong Europe and a strong America woudl stand together. Unravelling the "success" of the European Constitution would be absolutely "terrible". This rather camp performance didn't put off the Czechs who noted that if you didn't want to negotiate any further, then why bother having an inter-governmental conference. They obviously still haven't got used to their new position as a rubber stamp. The same position formed the crux of Berlusconi's meeting with Gerhard Schroeder and the opening salvo of the European MPs.

The strategies for defending the present draft were also in evidence. Berlusconi envisaged no more than two to three major amendments to the Constitution and the Constitutional Committee of the European Parliament suggested that referenda should be held on the same day as the European elections in 2004.

The European parliamentarians recognised that referenda could prove the Achilles heel of this process. The European political class desperately wishes that their efforts could be given a veneer of democracy, especially if a majority of Member States voted in favour. However, the economic and political winds are not blowing in their favour as Euroland suffers from a slowdown that can be blamed, in part, on monetary union. Denmark is always a special case, but Germany has turned more Eurosceptic in the last few months and the French public can never be relied upon.

Only in Britain is the Constitution seen as a final step that closes the Euro debate. This has highlighted the trust that the public place in Tony Blair and has proved a constant reminder of his unwillingness to yield to his own rhetoric and allow the People to make their choice. If the Constitution is passed, the Telegraph argues that this will no longer matter:

Yet sincere euro-fanatics need not despair entirely, for the proposed European constitution would make the question of euro membership largely redundant. Under its terms, Brussels would "coordinate the economic and employment policies of the member states", gaining control of everything from maximum working hours to permissible budget deficits.

In such circumstances, the right to mint our own currency would be like Scotland's right to print its own banknotes today: symbolically important, but no guarantee of economic independence. Perhaps Mr Blair is playing a longer game than we think.

This autumn will prove decisive for the future of Britain and Europe.
Sunday, August 24, 2003

Are we building a funeral pyre?

Sorry to use the Enoch quote, but this post from Gene Expression should make the blood run cold. I simply cannot understand why we are going on counterproductive missions in the Middle East to counter Islamic terrorism, and yet we not only do not deport dodgy Muslim preachers (such as the one behind this group) but we actually still have a sizeable Muslim influx.

Shutting the borders to Muslim immigration would be a step that could seriously reduce terrorism in this country, unlike invading half the Muslim world.
Saturday, August 23, 2003
Supping with the Devil - 23rd August 2003, 22.36

David Clark produces a strong article in the Grauniad on the current fissures in the Left over foreign policy. His assertion that this is the strongest division yet seen on the Left with mainstream figures lining up in the antiwar lobby is an arguable reading of recent political history.

However, his analysis that the Left has split between the Blairites who support a doctrine of humanitarian intervention versus the fetishists who idealise international law is spot on.

Before Sept. 11, there was substantial agreement between them about the principles that ought to underpin a progressive foreign policy. There was consensus on the need to move beyond narrow realism by accepting wider humanitarian obligations as part of a responsible global citizenship. There was a belief that it was time to act on the promises contained in the universal declaration of human rights. And there was a willingness to use military force, in extremis, to achieve these objectives.

The rights and wrongs of this
[intervention in Kosovo] have been hotly debated, but the interventionists were at one in maintaining that the values of the UN charter should be upheld even if it meant bypassing its institutions, and they were right to do so. Those who opposed them indulged in a form of procedural fetishism by which the sanctity of a discredited veto system was considered more important than the prevention of crimes against humanity. They also relied on a narrow and static interpretation of international law that ignored its tendency to evolve in accordance with custom and practice.

Clark stated that the opposition to Blair arose from his alliance with the neoconservatives. Howver, the neoconservatives are painted as geopolitical sculptors who wish to remodel other states with the face of the United States. This places great emphasis upon their ideology at the expense of the strands of realism that suffuse their political responses to events. That is why Bush can outflank opponents on the Left and support the establishment of a Palestinian state. The neoconservatives surprise their critics because they are more flexible than their ideology would suggest.

Opponents of the war did not attack Blair because of his alliance with the Americans. They attacked the war as it did not meet their perception of what international law demanded and the Coalition was willing to attack Iraq without gathering a necessary consensus to justify bypassing the UN.

Of course, with the Hutton inquiry and the 'nation building' in Iraq, neoconservatism and its wartime allies are foundering, both here and abroad. It can only triumph if its original aims in the war on terror are pursued: the 'regime change' in states that support terror - Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and their replacement by US sponsored democracies. That is unlikely to be the case now.

All our army

According to "security expert" Michael Yardley regarding the security situation in Iraq:

It has been suggested that these are random attacks but they are more than that, although we can't be sure who is responsible - Jihadists, remnants of Saddam Hussein's intelligence or Fedayeen militia. You need at least half a million troops to police this country effectively, which we do not have. Either the intelligence assessment was deficient or George Bush and Tony Blair were willing to take an unacceptable degree of risk in this campaign.

Do your sums. Britain currently provides around a fifth of the manpower. Britain's total army strength is under 100 000 (and remember that includes training, rest, Afghanistan, Falklands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and the three we can spare to guard our shores). Even if one didn't accept Yardley's prognosis, which I don't, we would be zapped out.

In more honest times Blair would have simply resigned.
Greening the European Constitution - 23rd August 2003, 21.46

An alliance of non-governmental organisations has put forward proposals for 'improving' the draft European Constitution and directing EU law towards sustainable development as a long-term goal. Their proposal may be found here.

Their aims include the right to a clean and safe environment, greater participatory democracy and the abolition of Euratom. None of the green parties appear to have been involved with the preparation of this manifesto.

However, apart from the 'Europeanisation' of the environmental agenda that this manifesto demonstrates, the NGO greens showed that they accepted the current structure of the EU. Their only concern was that the policies should be environmentally sound, and demanded that qualified majority voting should be instituted for environmental taxation.

The Green 8 considers it positive that the Convention proposes to increase the role of the Parliament in important policy areas such as agriculture. However, it is disappointed it did not dare to remove the Council's unanimity requirement for environmental fiscal provisions.

The Green 8 are also quite explicit in setting out their stall. They request that the Constitution is discussed further with 'civil society' a code for nongovernmental organisations and imply that if the Euratom treaty is not removed, that this might become an issue in referenda to ratify the Constitution.

Update: Iain Murray looks at this in more depth.

Why can't we have one?

We have the scientists, we have the economy to support it, and if we want to remain an independent power we will need to have one to maintain an independent nuclear deterrent.

A space programme that is. Brazil has one it seems and we, the world's fifth largest economy, do not. It does not need to be a big government programme either. There is plenty of pent up demand for space tourism and various sattelite payloads, simply allow private companies to set up here and let the facilities develop. Then we can use those facilities to launch the sattelites we will need to guide the nukes we launch against anyone who threatens us.

Of course there is the other alternative, rely on the Yanks and the Continentals to allow us independence. Do you fancy our chances?

Hutton: The Final Stretch - 22nd August 2003, 00.08

Despite the efforts of pundits to decry the BBC and insist that the inquiry will have inflicted permanent damage on this institution, the final act is yet to come. It is not Greg Dyke and Gavyn Davies who have to appear before the inquiry, but Geoff Hoon and Anthony Lynton Blair - facing the increasingly praised forensic skills of James Dingemans QC.

The last two days have been damaging to the government. Alistair Campbell took the stand and stated that he had attempted to downplay the claims of the dossier. Perhaps this was true and the political adviser had learned from the many mistakes made during the last few years of press manipulation. He certainly portrayed himself as a Sobersides.

Rather than “sexing up” the dossier, Campbell said he had advised the document’s drafters “‘the drier the better, cut the rhetoric’ ... I also said the more intelligence-based it was, the better.”

“This dossier is sometimes described as the prime minister making a case for war,” Campbell said. “What it was actually doing was setting out in as factual a way as possible the reasons why the government was concerned about Saddam’s WMD (weapons of mass destruction) program ... We always sought to describe it as a serious and credible threat.”

However, documents that circulated today demonstrated that Campbell had made a number of changes to the dossier in order to strengthen the presentation to the public. Moreover, the intelligence material included in the dossier was viewed by the political wing of the civil service as unconvincing and too weak to support the political claims required by No. 10. For example they wished to include a reference to Saddam Hussein buying uranium in Africa but this originated in a single source and was too vague to support their arguments.

The documents released yesterday showed that presentational issues of this kind received considerable attention in Downing Street in the two weeks before the publication of the dossier.

On Sept 10, Daniel Pruce, a press officer, wrote an email about the dossier saying: "Much of the evidence we have is largely circumstantial, so we need to convey to our readers that the cumulation of these facts demonstrates an intent on Saddam's part."

The following day Philip Bassett, a senior political adviser, offered his comments. "Crucially, though, it's intelligence-lite," he wrote. "It feels like this is the least possible intelligence material the intell people are prepared to let go (despite the fact that we say at a couple of points, eg para 2, that it's everything the Govt knows on the issue - which it clearly isn't). All intelligence material tends to read like unevidenced assertion, and we have to find a way to get over this a) by having better intelligence material . . . b) by having more material (and better flagged up) and c) more convincing material."

Already, John Maples has called for Campbell to reappear before the Foreign Affairs Committee and Hutton may also request further appearances. His manipulation behind the scenes was confirmed by Godric Smith, who stated that the Svengali was responsible for the idea that Kelly's identity should be drawn in a chalk outline for the media.

Whilst the government has been fishing for one of the Cabinet, Hoon, to be sacrificed, the continued revelations and malicious drips show that the ministries and press officers have been unable to agree on a single line before the inquiry and are suffering as a result. As the second week has drawn on, the potential of this inquiry for wreaking significant damage on Blair has grown. One wonders if, after his appearance, will significant documents appear in the press?
Friday, August 22, 2003

Airstrip One turns Blairite

Well one aspect of the Blair agenda in 1983. His 1983 election address is now on line with his third page promise that "We'll negotiate a withdrawal from the E.E.C. which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs."
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Blairite before Blair - 20th August 2003, 23.05

Back in the days when Britain still had memories of the days that Britain ran an empire, David Owen was an ill-fitting figure on the Labour front bench. He soon jumped from the ship of fools and ended up in the backwaters of politics, keeping company with the likes of Bill Rodgers and Bryan Gould. However, in a tone of reminiscence, here's a proposal of his from the days of Grange Hill. Note the reaction of liberal internationalists who preferred the observance of the law. Now that the international jurists have the upper hand, Owen's heirs, the Blairites, prefer war to assassination, in order to meet the same aim: removal of the nastier dictators.

Owen, Britain's foreign secretary from 1977 to 1979 under a Labour government, told BBC Radio: "I actually at one stage did raise the issue of assassination and it was not just frowned on but looked on as an outrageous suggestion.

"I'm not ashamed of considering it," Owen said, because Amin's regime was "one of the worst of all".

"For sheer personal callousness and bitterness, it's an appalling record and it's a disgrace on us all that he was allowed to stay in office for as long as he did," Owen told the BBC.

Bet they won't publish you

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have produced a pro-Europe propoganda site. Not surprising. They do however have a forum on the draft EU Constitutional Treaty which you can sign up to here. No guarantees that sceptical opinions will be counted for. Thanks to Bob Briant for letting me know.

This is certainly an area the bloggosphere should highlight.

Irony in Kabul

Forget about the Edinburgh Fringe, the capital of irony this year is Kabul. They celibrated independence day on August 19. Really. And yes, President Karzai's American bodyguard came along too.

In the last this week we've had 100 deaths in Afghanistan due to the low level civil war. It's such a relief that we've subdued them in the same way as we're doing in Iraq.
Monday, August 18, 2003
Day Five: An Imperfect Spy - 18th August 2003, 22.58

Nothing so melodramatic, of course. The Hutton Inquiry saw Pam Teare, the MOD's Press Chief, confirm the process by which Kelly was outed, by proving that context is all. Jonathan Powell's evidence confirmed that Blair was involved in the decsion making process that led to Dr Kelly giving evidence before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. The strategy of deflection was already in place with Hoon preparing to resign over the matter as a sacrificial minister.

The importance that Blair attached to the presentation of this crisis and the regard with which he held Hoon can be seen in the personnel attending the meeting and the willingness of No. 10 to allow the MOD to take the lead.

Giving evidence today, Downing Street chief of staff Jonathan Powell - one of Mr Blair's closest aides - described how senior officials were summoned to the Prime Minister's office on the morning of Monday 7 July.

They included the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, John Scarlett, the Cabinet Office intelligence and security co-ordinator Sir David Omand, and the Ministry of Defence permanent secretary Sir Kevin Tebbit.

They were later joined by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell, who had been at a separate meeting to discuss the report due out that morning by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee on Iraq.

Blair did ask if anyone had taken account of the strain placed upon Kelly. The reply was negative and one can guage the care with which the Ministry of Defence handled its employee, given the fact that he was given a 24 hour contact number, just in case he needed advice.
Sunday, August 17, 2003
The Lions of Southall - 17th August 2003, 23.08

Whilst attending the first London Mela today at Gunnersbury Park in Acton, I came across the Armed Forces Recruiting stand and climbing pillar.

The Armed Forces had an exhibition extolling the values of the Sikhs and the tradition of war. Apart from a hurried few sentences on how the Punjab was conquered by the East India Company, the panels narrated the sacrifices that Sikhs had made for the King-Emperor in two World Wars.

The stand showed that recruitment strategies of the Armed Forces are more nuanced. They are designed to appeal to communities that have a history of fighting for Britain and take a pride in martial traditions. If one looks at the Sikh community, one finds that it forms an important component of an Anglo-Sikh identity. There have even been suggestions of a Sikh regiment although this is considered divisive.
Saturday, August 16, 2003


Irving Kristol, first Neoconservatism, writes on neo-conservatism, one of the competing schools within the American foreign policy ferment, in the Weekly Standard. Some of the things he says should turn even the Post-Libertarians of Samizdata queasy, even if they will have evolved into those positions in five years time:

Its [Neoconservatism's] 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked.

FDR over Goldwater and Coolidge! Or this little gem:

But they [Neoconservatives] are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on "the road to serfdom." Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable.

These aren't conservatives, they're liberals with smarter suits and better haircuts. Big-Government conservatism sounds like no fun, with the state telling us what to do in both the bedroom and the boadroom.

However the foreign policy aspects on this are telling:

And large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests in addition to more material concerns.

Why didn't he add other large nations with ideological interests such as Revolutionary France, Nazi Germany and Hapsburg Spain? Ideological powers tend to get people's backs up and tend to fall faster than non-ideological powers (like England if you forget the Palmerstonian and Gladstonian bluster). The Soviet Union managed to range democrats, damn-near-fascists, absolute monarchies, Islamic fundamentalists and even Maoists against them. Why? Well partly because they told everyone that they would have to become Leninist, which in turn brought about The Free World (TM), including such libertarian paradises as Chile, Saudi Arabia and China.

Well let's see, what is American ideological zeal going to do to the rest of the world? And what traditionally happens to powers who go against everyone else? Well a clue would be that traditionally they don't tend to win.

So should Britain keep in with Uncle Sam through thick and thin? Well, we already know the answer to that question.
Sour Grapes - 16th August 2003, 11.37

Apropos to Bob's comment on Emmanuel's posting, it is clear that the French, worried that their reputation may have lost soem of the mud, decided to deny compensation for the grieving relatives of terrorist victims out of spite. Notice how their block of the Libyan package is couched in the values of solidarity, that favourite of the European Union although their statement does not mention the arrangement with Libya from 1999 where this issue was resolved. If they were so concerned with solidarity, why didn't they negotiate in tandem with the United States and Great Britain?

We hope that this painful episode can find an outcome that is satisfactory to our American and British partners and to the families of the victims. As you know, we have always maintained deep solidarity with our partners throughout this painful affair. We hope that they will do the same for the victims of UTA #772.

Their demands were quite clear: more money from Libya for French victims of terrorism before sanctions are lifted. Now, the rights and wrongs of that demand should not be used to veto another deal, since France proves an example of the 'free rider' problem in the political economy of foreign relations.

We maintain continuous contact with our Libyan interlocutors in order to obtain assurances that the legitimate demands of the families of the UTA victims, both French and foreign, are satisfied. We expect to see substantial progress on this point before any lifting of sanctions.

The French have always proved that they don't respect international treaties. In 2002, they started to abrogate the Antarctica Treaty by charging anchorage taxes and asserting their sovereignty over Antartican territory. Why shouldn't we kick them out for this unilateral action, against the wishes of all other signatories of the Antarctica treaty?

As part of this expedition, the "Sir Hubert Wilkins" had intended to visit Dumont d'Urville in the French Antacrtic Territory. On the 15th January, 2002, the "Sir Hubert Wilkins" received a message from Didier Drouet, the Station Leader on Dumont d'Urville informing them of their intention to charge the ship $2459.62 as an anchorage fee plus a personnel fee of $16.39 per person per day on board the ship. This has been interpreted as an assertion of sovereignty over the Antarctic Territory. This is in direct conflict with the ideals of the Antarctic Treaty.

The details are recorded in a statement from the Sir Hubert Wilkins.

The French Legislation as it currently stands is in breach of the Antarctic Treaty and does assert Sovereignty in Antarctica. It has no relevance what so ever to visiting Dumont d’Urville Base.

The Legislation is in two parts. The following covers the obvious relevant clauses justifying my assumption.

1. Decree number 2001-20 of 29 June 2001 Territorial Tax in Terre Australie et Antarctiques Francaises.

Article 1 - For every person entering French Antarctica, a personnel Tax is imposed to help with financing the cost of protection and restoration of the environment.

Article 2 - This Tax is imposed whenever a person sets foot on land within the Territories.

Article 3 - This Tax is imposed per person per day within the respective district.

Article 4 - The Tax is set out for the respective Territories - Terre Adelie (French Antarctic Territory) $16.39 Aust

Relevant Issues are that at no time is Dumont d’Urville Base ever mentioned and in fact it specifically refers to setting foot on land within the Territories to be charged per person per day whilst visiting the Territories, it must be assumed for whatever reason .

2. Decree number 2001- 19 of 29 June 2001. Anchorage Tax in Terre Australes et Antarctiques Francaises.

Article 1- An Anchorage Tax is imposed in French Antarctica.

Article 2- The Anchorage Tax is imposed when ever a vessel anchors within any of the districts of French Antarctica.

Article 3- The Anchorage Tax is set per vessel for fixed period of one month even if the stay is for a shorter period, within any of the district of French Antarctica.

Article 4- The Anchorage Tax is based on the size of the vessel as set out - 20- 50 metres $2459. Aust, 51 -100 metres $5739.

101 metres and above $12,298.

Relevant Issues here are that the Anchorage Tax is applicable to French Antarctic territory whenever and wherever a vessel anchors for up to one month. Specifically no mention is made of Dumont d’Urville Base.

In both Decrees any complaints regarding the Tax are to be forwarded to the Senior Administrator of Terres Australes et Antarctiques Francaises in Paris.

It's never too hard to find some nefarious example of their devious unilateralism. Why are the French so incompetent in their diplomacy?
Friday, August 15, 2003

You think I do conspiracies?

So how's this for tasteless? James Taranto from the Best of the Web:

Might it be noteworthy that the French are claiming almost the same number of deaths from the heat as America suffered on Sept. 11?

Do you remember the stupid claims from Arabs that there were no Jews in the World Trade Center on 11th September? I thought that this was evidence of (a) ethnic hatred and (b) stupidity. But American neo-conservatives (sic) are allowed to get away with this tripe.

It's not that the French are going to publicise governmental incompetence just for the hell of it.

As Steve Sailer (who says that this sort of thing is perfectly likely) puts it best "Does anyone else find Taranto to be a hate-filled moron?"
Thursday, August 14, 2003

Did they actually say that?

The Last Ditch, a rather outre libertarian site has a very well researched piece on weapons of mass destruction, and what our leaders actually said. It wasn't just dubiously sourced whoopers such as Blair's famous forty five minutes claim, it was also Powell's "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agents. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets."

A true fight against the memory hole.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
The Stone Tape - 13th August 2003, 23.31

The comments that we have seen today show that neither the Blair administration or the BBC will obtain vindication from Hutton's inquiry for their actions. The editorial actions of the BBC were found wanting with the evidence of Gillian Watts, science reporter on Newsnight. Her executives were more interested in upholding the BBC's reputation than in reporting the story in a neutral and impartial manner, especially concerning their own role. Watts was so alarmed she had to appoint her own legal counsel.

"I felt the BBC was trying to mould my stories so they reached the same conclusions [as Gilligan]. That's why I sought independent legal advice. I'm most concerned about the fact there was an attempt to mould [my stories] so they corroborated [Gilligan's stories] which I felt was misguided and false," Watts said.

When one reads the transcript of the tape, the dossier was altered in order to enhance its political utility and put forward a case for war. The role of No. 10 is clear.

SW: But on the 45 minutes.

DK: Oh that I knew because I knew the concern about the statement. It was a statement that was made and it just got out of all proportion you know someone...

They were desperate for information, they were pushing hard for information which could be released that was one that popped up and it was seized on and it was unfortunate that it was which is why there is the argument between the intelligence services and cabinet office/number 10, because things were picked up on, and once they've picked up on it you can't pull it back, that's the problem.

What is hidden from sight under the narrow remit of Hutton's investigation is Kelly's own doubts about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The process has only just started I think one of the problems with the dossier - and again I think you and I have talked about it in the past is that it was presented in a very black and white way without any sort of quantitative aspects.

The only quantitative aspects were the figures derived essentially from Unscom figures, which in turn are Iraq's figures presented to Unscom - you know the inaudible litres anthrax, the 4 tonnes VX - all of that actually is Iraqi figures - but there was nothing else in there that was quantitative or even remotely qualitative - I mean it was just a black and white thing - they have weapons or they don't have weapons

That in turn has been interpreted as being a vast arsenal and I'm not sure any of us ever said that, people have said to me that that was what was implied.

That was the real concern that everyone had, it was not so much what they have now but what they would have in the future. Again we discussed it, and I discussed it with many people, that my own perception is that yes they have weapons but actually not inaudible [not problem] at this point in time

One of Britain's leading experts on the situation in Iraq was stating that Hussein could have the potential to manufacture WMDs; implying that no arsenal existed when the coalition went to war. No wonder certain quarters wished to sully this man's reputation, and portray his statements as fantasy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Forty-Eight Hours - 12th August 2003, 22.36

Now the inquiry has become more confused with the BBC reporters providing their evidence on the second day. Kelly may have attributed the 45 second claim to Alistair Campbell, according to Gilligan's notes. However, the BBC reporter appeared to employ poor judgement in some of his actions and these will no doubt appear in tabloid on some of our more imbalanced blogs: "Blair good, BBC bad".

Most of the evidence given indicates the deterioration of standards in public life. Neither the journalists or the civil servants have so far provided much confidence that they were doing their jobs to a professional standard. More of this wil come out.
Monday, August 11, 2003
On the First Day... - 11th August 2003, 10.53

Lord Hutton found that New Labour's boast of "joined up government" was not practiced. The FO appeared to regard Kelly as an authoritative source on WMD who could be trusted to liaise with the media. The MOD was unable to confirm whether he was an "intelligent source", or if he was a member of the Defence Intelligence Service.

The revelation that the claims of the first dossier from September 2002 troubled some civil servants was treated to a grandstanding treatise on spin in the Evening Standard. However, any examination of policy will reveal dissent or concern. Their existence does not count as evidence of political manipulation on the part of the government.

As Hutton also heard, no official was able (or was willing) to identify the provenance of the 45 minute claim. There is an air of confusion that the civil service hopes will not be perceived as obfuscation. After all, the two are very similar in their outcome.
Sunday, August 10, 2003
This Liberal Empire - 10th August 2003, 13.24

The current dominant position of the United States in world affairs is described with a plethora of terms that reflect the concerns and assumptions of the commentator. The two most controversial descriptions are empire and hegemony, with their history of Marxist and Gramscian ideological theorising.

Robert Kaplan errs on the side of Empire, and unlike most of his contemporaries, prefers to understand the mechanics of system of governance. He argues that the future of liberal imperialism, as exercised by the United States, revolves around policy as decided on the ground through interagency cooperation. In areas where US troops and diplomats are deployed, policy will probably be decided by the local commanders; for example, General Abizaid in the Middle East. They can implement strategy, whereas local ambassadors are focussed on their individual postings and vulnerable, as political appointees, to changes of administration. United States foreign policy is now a concern of the armed forces, and represents an increase in their political power, that has not yet fully registered in the domestic arena. Washington is beginning to resemble the Empire that its founders saw as the corruption of Republican virtue.

Kaplan constructs ten rules for ensured success:

Based partly on these extensive travels, Kaplan has come up with a list of "Rules for Managing the World":

1. Produce More Joppolos
2. Stay on the Move
3. Emulate Second-Century Rome
4. Use the Military to Promote Democracy
5. Be Light and Lethal
6. Bring Back the Old Rules
7. Remember the Philippines
8. The Mission is Everything
9. Fight on Every Front
10. Speak Victorian, Think Pagan

In essence, these rules are an articulation of power on a global scale. Have the best men possible on the ground; be everywhere; use American citizens—foreign and native born; use the military to further democracy; do a lot with a little; covert means and dabbling in moral ambiguity are sometimes necessary; a country united under one name may need more than one policy; the mission cannot be forgotten or compromised; sell the product; be idealistic, but know that realism wins the day.

With the many strands of liberal internationalism and moral direction that permeate American thinking on foreign policy, and appeal so strikingly to parts of New Labour, it is inevitable that Kaplan's long-term objective is a self-regulating global civil society, where all powers limit themselves:

I think it's a good thing that we should only be the preeminent power for a few decades. I can't in detail describe the world that's going to come next, simply because it hasn't happened yet. I foresee a global system in a few decades that will very roughly resemble the Han Empire that emerged in China in around the second or third century BC. The Han Empire, which governed much of today's China, was not a dictatorship ruled from a central capital. In the beginning, at least, it represented a grand harmony of diverse peoples and systems that despite all their power struggles found out that it was in their self interest to limit their own power for the sake of the greater whole. So while a single country didn't emerge, a loose web of agreements emerged that was a system, even though it wasn't a central government.

The sole alternative detailed is just another picture of European hypocrisy and makes one wonder when US commentators will move beyond this tired analysis of the French.

I think a world operated by the French, the Germans, and the Russians would have a kind of realpolitik that is more of the seventeenth century than the twentieth century. It would be so cold-blooded, and yet it would be dressed up with self-righteous moral statements, like the "world community" and "every country is sovereign." The result would be that some horrible dictators would flourish. And remember, Russia is not really a democracy. Germany has never really exhibited much wisdom in foreign affairs. If you look at how the French have operated in sub-Saharan Africa, how they operated supporting the Serbs in the Balkans, you will see that despite all the statements, their actual operations on the ground in many parts of the world have been, by any moral standards, worse than ours.

As we don't have an independent foreign policy, or even dreams of one, the UK doesn't merit a reference. Just about sums us up.
Saturday, August 09, 2003

Nothing to report today

I know there's stuff going on like riots in Basra, but isn't the weather glorious? Let me enjoy it. In the meantime I can but celebrate that Steve Sailer, despite running a web log of sorts for some time has finally got permalinks, so I can link to his pieces.

Like this article on the fall of the Arabists within the Anglo-American foreign policy establishment, sadly the permalinks run out and you have to scroll down for a discussion on Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop" and how well it predicted what would happen to Africa after all the European powers left. Well worth the scroll though.

Further down there is an article on Chesterton and Belloc seeing the importance of Islam when everyone else wrote it off, but as it's also not yet permalinked I'll point you to the blog that he refers to.

But do check back here.
Friday, August 08, 2003

Regarding Pinochet

Every now and again I realise that we're starting to attract a small following of left wingers who think that if we want to tear assunder the Special Relationship we can't really be as right wing as we claim. And every now and again we put up a post which alienates them. The post this time is sparked off by Peter Cuthbertson talking about Pinochet. There already seems to be a bit of a debate going on with Natalie Solent and Patrick Crozier. I don't intend to enter this particular argument (for what it's worth one of my first columns was on Pinochet's arrest, that dates me) but something Peter said was interesting:

If someone like Pinochet had been around in Germany in the mid 1930s (or for that matter, if the Stauffenberg bomb plot had succeeded), would we really be blasting that he was a terrible man if he had to pick off a few Nazis to turn his country back into a free and prosperous nation which no longer threatened us? Of course not.

I think that he is being far too nice towards his foes. When Pinochet get rid of the democratically elected Allende, torturing opponents, minority support, party thugs and all they talk about finishing off the Chilean road to Socialism. If they had finished off the democratically elected National Socialist Hitler, torturing opponents, minority support, party thugs and all what tune do you really think they would be playing?

Yes the left didn't like Hitler even when at the start but the Communists thought that he was better than continuing with Weimer and I don't remember the Left being very nice about the "clerico-fascist" regime of Dolfuss. How do you think they would have dealt with a regime that overthrew a democratically chosen Socialist government and would almost certainly have degraded military relations with the USSR?

If you are still not convinced, how would the left have dealt with the RDF launching a coup that finished off Mugabe in around 1982? We know what happened to him now. Like it or not Mugabe, Hitler and Allende were all heavily Marxist-influenced socialists who came to power democratically and then started to outlaw their opponents. None of them were any of our business, but I digress. Hard left socialists prefer other socialists to liberals, no matter how wishy washy. Moderate social democrats are different, but anyone would be different if they had to deal with Trots in their formative years.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Demography is Depressing for Central Europe - 6th August 2003, 23.06

To complement Emmanuel's article below on demography, here is a more local study from a German bank looking at the effects of immigration form the accession countries and possible entrants over the next fifty years. The inflow will provide relief for the stagnating populations of western Europe as the skilled young move in to increase their income. The first wave is estimated to be on the order of three to five million.

Deutsche Bank Research, in a report this week, says current EU members, especially Germany and Austria, could attract as many as 200,000 people a year from Eastern Europe over the coming 10 to 12 years. After that, the number of migrants will fall, but could remain as high as 75,000 people a year for the next 50 years.

Deutsche Bank's predictions are in line with other migration studies. The International Organization for Migration last year concluded in a study that anywhere from 3 million to 5 million people from the accession countries would move to Western Europe by 2020.

One can predict two consequences for this: a vicious spiral of demographic decline for central and eastern Europe offset by subsidies form the European Union. Secondly, most of the early arrivals will head for those countries that have not put any obstacles in their way: Britain, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. There may be two distinct patterns of immigration in the next two decades: Eastern Europeans and Russians move to Northern Europe and the British Isles; North Africans, Arabs and Africans settle in the Mediterranean nations.

Demography is Destiny

Stuart Reid runs through the paces on the importance of demography, and why we're stuffed. Much like Pat Buchanan's Death of the West, but British and article sized.

"For like the Cheshire Cat, the people of the West have begun to fade away."

This is going to have a massive impact in our lifetimes. Obviously there is the question as to whether we will need immigration or not, but more to the point for this web log will the West be able to maintain it's position on the top of the global tree? Russian Siberia is collapsing, and oriental hordes are massing to take it back into Asia. Meanwhile to the south we have lots and lots of young Arabs being born and employers over here complaining about the inability to find decent (read cheap) staff. Of course we also have America which is going through an immigration-led population boom, but at the end of this will be in many ways a different country. Will an hispanic President really be as interested in the Old World as the WASPs, Micks and Ashkenazi Jews who dominate American public discourse at the moment? And if he is, will he still take the same sides? We'lll surely see.

It's being so cheerful wot keeps me going.

The Iraqi Gravy Train

Well it was bound to happen. Edward Luttwak reports that not only is democracy a bad idea for Iraq, but that the place is becoming a resentful welfare case and Western troops really hate it.

Of course the idea that democracy will not work wherever it's imposed (and free markets cannot be imposed, otherwise they're not free markets) is heresy on the British right at the moment. Somehow I don't think those minds are going to remain closed.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
The Myth of an Impartial Authority - 5th August 2003, 23.18

When one examines the history of the BBC, it is clear that the recent poll on public trust reflects its longstanding reputation as an impartial, newsgathering organisation. Critics of the BBC may pause and note that the comparison was with Blair's spin-driven government, presenting a choice between Wormtongue and a rattlesnake.

Preference for the BBC, even from such a low base, demonstrates the length of time that it can take for an institution's authority to wither away. After all, a dispassionate observer in contemporary Britain would not judge the BBC to be objective or impartial, although the lingering effects of its past present a noteworthy survival and form the foundations of its remaining credibility.

The concepts of 'Reithian impartiality' were similar to the values that underpinned another British institution, the British civil service, and provided a similar foundation for its authority. The civil service, both home and foreign, has prided itself upon its political neutrality and willingness to carry out the policies of its ministers, the elected representatives of the people. However, from histories of the civil service including their paragon, Hennessy's "Whitehall", the story of impartial civil servants implementing the policy of their political masters has shrouded personalities and factions that have held strong views on their direction of their Ministry and of Britain itself. In the last decade, the politicisation of the civil service under Blair and the slow-burning "Europeanisation" of policy has led to a convergence of views and values with those held at the BBC: Both institutions hold fast to a prevailing ideology of objective and authoritative detachment that hides an institutional and political outlook partial to the ambitions of the EU and at odds with the majority view of the British people.

The erosion of the BBC's reputation for objectivity is to be welcomed. Not only does it represent a bodyblow to the dominance of an 'official British culture'; it also provides another landmark in the long-term shift of political debate from the elitist values of the post-imperialist 'great and good' to a more diverse, fractured and (hopefully) individualist landscape.

Badly Spun

Why on earth did Downing Street accuse Dr Kelly of being a Walter Mitty character? First of all it makes it look like they're kicking a dead man. First they drive him to suicide, then they insult him before his funeral. How crass and stupid do you want it? And to bring the story back into the limelight just when it was dying down. This government is not simply nasty, it's also getting the stench of incompetence. That stench will remain while Blair is around.

The most puzzling thing is that this clearly is not true. Kelly would not be helping to run Porton Down, advising ministers and taking a leading part in weapons inspections if he was an old duffer. He was closely connected to intelligence sources, he had their trust, he briefed the press and caused maximum discomfort for the government. After all people were genuinely shocked when they heard the government lied about the dossiers, and that happens rarely these days. This was mainly the work of Dr Kelly and whoever was behind him.

So when John Reid has an outburst about (1) rogue elements (2) within the security services (3) who are causing discomfort to the government (4) by briefing the press and then we hear about Kelly - who pretty much fits the description - why aren't they making more of it? After all the Labour Left love to think that the secret service are out to get them and would rally around any Labour government were it looked as if they were under pressure from people who go around with names like "C". Why aren't they talking about Kelly's rogue intelligence nature more? Search me.
Monday, August 04, 2003
The Deepening of Anglo-American Co-operation on Missile Defence - 4th August 2003, 23.53

BAE and Northrop Grumman recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding in order to co-operate on modelling and simulating missile defence. This built upon the intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding that the British and US governments signed back in June.

In order to deepen this technology transfer, the government has established the UK Missile Defence Centre in which BAE will take a lead role.

According to BAE Systems, the MDC is a joint UK government and industry initiative that will provide an interface between the UK government and the US Missile Defense Agency. It will also as act as a forum to facilitate collaboration between UK/US industrial parties on missile defence.

The MDC will facilitate the exchange of information between the US Missile Defence Agency and the UK in order to generate the best technical advice for policy makers considering future options for the defence of the UK and Europe. The MDC will also act as a platform for UK industry to showcase its capability to the US Missile Defense Programme via a series of co-ordinated technical programmes of work.

BAE were fairly chuffed about it.

Why don't they just bus them in?

Let's hope this kite doesn't keep flying:

Non-British European citizens living in the UK could be able to vote on whether Britain keeps the pound or adopts the euro.

Ministers have yet to decide whether or not to allow EU citizens to vote in a euro referendum - as they can in local and European elections.

Sunday, August 03, 2003
Another Hint - 3rd August 2003, 17.53

The weakening of public support for the Blair administration has added an additional complication to their support for European integration. In the past, Blair's public status was deployed as an asset that would be used at an indeterminate point to swing a wavering public towards voting 'Yes' in a referendum for the Euro. However, the Euro vote has been rendered less significant by the implications for European integration that the Constitution represents. Blair is now in the curious position of considering public opinion in this important of debates, since a strategy of deferral is unavailable. The European Constitution cannot be postponed until 2010.

Denis MacShane, Minister for Europe, has again decided not to rule out a possible referendum on the Constitution. The debate was handicapped by the 'public referendum' organised by the Daily Mail since ratification is still months away. The results showed the level of opposition within the country and reinforced the internal debates within the government. The issue is not divisive at this point in time but two positions can be discerned: those who oppose a referendum and those who are toying with the concept.

If the Labour Party's position weakens further, we may expect the latter strategy to gain strength, given its importance in the domestic political scene. Instead of choosing between the US and the EU, Blair may end up deciding between political support for a third election and the merits of European integration.
Riding two horses - 3rd August 2003, 17.39

Mary Dejevsky, Diplomatic Editor of the Independent, provides an overview of Blairite foreign policy, comparing professed 'targets' with their outcomes. She argues that the dominant theme of the past year has been the war with Iraq. This seminal event witnessed a move by the Blair government away from Europe and towards the United States with consequences for the European Constitution and Britain's reputation.

In order to maintain a position "at the heart of Europe", Blair has downplayed Britain's opposition to the draft European Constitution and has accepted this diminution of sovereignty to attack perceptions upon the Continent that the UK is not a team player. Yet, he does not use his influence to support the Euro.

Mr Blair is starting to mend fences with Europe - he has initiated a rapprochement with France and has limited British objections to the draft European Constitution....It is hard to see Britain being at the heart of Europe unless, at very least, it embraces the euro, yet Mr Blair is still declining to lend the authority of his office to an energetic campaign for Britain to join the euro.

Dejevsky states that Blair has chosen closer ties with the United States and recognises the damage that this causes to Britain's memberhip of the European Union. Her arguments are flawed because they depend upon Blair perceiving British foreign policy as a trade-off between the USA and the EU on a zero sum basis. Why would Blair support the Euro if he knew that he was unlikely to win the referendum? Blair will not expend his diminishing political capital on a this cause.

Blair's statements demonstrate that he sees no distinction between support for the United States and enthusiasm for deeper European integration since he perceives both processes to be virtuous trends, reinforcing each other, and reinvigorating the Atlantic community of democracies. That continental countries do not support this strategy makes Blair even more determined to continue this course of action and save the irresponsible Europeans from themselves.

Nevertheless, the divisions between Britain and Gaullist integrationists are clear. After Hoon's declaration of our new status as an American satrapy, their perceptions are succinctly summed up:

Having joined the US in defying the UN over Iraq, Mr Blair is now trying to rebuild Britain's multilateralist credentials. The rapprochement with the EU is one aspect. The other is the effort that he is spearheading to reform the UN. From the post-Iraq perspective, however, Mr Blair will find it hard to dispel the impression that Britain's foreign policy goes much beyond advising, warning and cajoling its senior partner, the US.

Zimwatch: Body of Evidence

This particularly nasty story highlights the situation in Zimbabwe. I'm also hearing at first hand that the place is a tinder box. Something spectacular could happen soon.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
The Inquiry - 2nd August 2003, 18.07

The Grauniad published a more detailed biography of Lord Brian Hutton that provides further insights into the Law Lord appointed to chair the inquiry into the death of Kelly. He always wears a hat, lists no leisure activities in Who's Who and retains a reputation for being a judge's judge. However, his appointment will be no whitewash for the Blair government. In the trial of Patrick Nash, back in 1992, Hutton branded the defendant a "liar" and acquitted him because there was circumstantial evidence that the RUC had beaten him. His bearing in this case may guide the inquiry.

Much of that outlook-forming time in Northern Ireland took place during the Troubles, when judges were IRA targets, and lived with their families in a bulletproof, restricted world with little opportunity to encounter anti-establishment, counter-culture views outside the courtroom. There is little doubt that Hutton is a conservative figure, with a deeply-felt respect towards established institutions. But that respect seems to extend towards the letter of the law, and the judiciary as an independent body. He had no hesitation in calling Nash a liar; he did not call the RUC liars; but, in the end, Nash walked free. The judge had cast doubt on the veracity of both sides. A delicate, scrupulous, yet ultimately ambiguous, examination of the truth, and nobody in jail, and nobody resigning - could this be the outcome the government yearns for from the Hutton inquiry?

The government should be mindful of a public figure who places principles above political survival, even if they are delicately expressed through the subtle processes of the law. Already, documents thay may be viewed as relevant in the scheme of things have been found in rubbish bins and have only been rescued by security guards. It is a sad state of affairs when you can trust Group 4 more than the civil service to act in the public interest.

Now, Hutton has declared himself to be the law, quoting Scarman, and allowing the Guardian to indulge in their penchant for pop culture infodumps by mentioning Judge Dredd (although Hutton strikes me as more of a Judge Fargo).

"This inquiry is to be conducted - and I stress it - by myself," he said. "All the decisions have to be taken by me... it is I, and I alone, who will decide what witnesses will be called. I also decide to what matters their evidence will be directed." He was quoting Lord Justice Scarman in 1974.

Of course, this may all be for presentation but, I suspect, that Hutton will indulge in the cliche that the wheels of justice grind slowly. He promptly adjourned the inquiry until August 11th, presumably becuase most of the witnesses have left the country. Funny that.

Reflections of a Guardian Browser

Peter Briffa get's the pyche of Guardian readers just right in this commentary on Tony Martin:

In my experience, anyone who buys the Guardian - as opposed to read it - I read it, and I'm a sweetie - with any regularity must be a bit psychotic. Speak for more than five minutes to one of these weirdoes and he's already put a price on Dubya's head, denounced Blair as a sellout, and accused the proletariat as cretinous drones being pushed around like sheep by Mr. Murdoch, Conrad Black, and whoever owns the Mail. No one is too bad for them, and aside from their own pristine selves, everyone is corrupt. I think it is this terrible fear/paranoia/sense of his own superiority that makes your average Guardian reader hate the likes of Tony Martin.

If you burgle my neighbour's house then you're in need of help. If you Burgle my house, then you're scum.

Of course this sort of rampant attitude to those with whom you disagree has the (unfortunate) habit of making the peace movement look hysterically anti-American rather than sensibly pro-British and (happily) makes the pro-European movement look like narrow-minded idealogues who take any reservations on the European project as objective evidence of incipient fascism. If only the Guardian were pro-American too.

(Sad to say the Guardian does actually have some very good reporting on foreign affairs, but that doesn't make me a Guardian reader, I'm a Guardian browser damnit.)

Samizdata says we're all lefties now

This entry on Samizdata is probably more revealing than it is meant to be. Firstly it quotes a left winger on the war who puts a impeccably left wing argument. In short it is that we are our brother's (or distant cousin's) keepers, and that the role (or one of the many roles) of the nation state should be to rid humanity of injustice, etc, etc.

Well that is impeccably leftwing reasoning. In fact I would say that for most leftwingers the idea of helping the helpless with state force is the essence of being left wing. And the Samizdata writer agrees with this reasoning, so on this issue (if on no others) he is a left winger. More to the point that reasoning, that the Iraqis need to be liberated by us is the main argument that Samizdroids use. The national interest, even the flawed Anglosphere argument for subsuming ourselves to America, is rarely used.

A lefty by definition is someone who agrees with left-wing reasoning, Samizdata agrees with left wing reasoning. So the logic follows that Samizdata is left wing, on this issue. I would also say that it is radically un-libertarian, on this issue - but, hey, I'm not really a libbo so conducting purity tests on others is not really on.

What would the "right wing" argument on this be? Well it would go something like this, yes it's great that Saddam's no longer oppressing the Iraqis but it's really none of our business and if the Iraqis wanted liberation that badly (or saw Saddam as even more evil than a theocracy or being ruled by the tribe over the hill or whatever) then they should have just got on with it. Of course others will differ and many right wingers will find reasons to support the war that do not involve a utopian pan-humanism, after all being right wing really is just a way of saying that you're not a left winger.

Conversely if you agree with left wing reasoning you are a leftie.
Friday, August 01, 2003

Welcome to Kellyland

Austin Mitchell has a new web log in which he gives a soft-left view of the Kelly-Gate affair. Mitchell is the sort of MP who says what other Labour MPs are thinking, if they do think (so this doesn't include New Labour MPs):

Tony over-egged the Iraq pudding. As the Great Explainer he always does, but he means it, how he means it, at the time. Barristers always start from the conclusion (my client, George Bush, is a great guy) and work backwards to the evidence to support it.

Alistair then did the boss`s bidding brilliantly. The launch in 45 minutes claim (which we should have said was a misprint for `years`) was there when the “Dossier” reached him on 10 September 2002. But Alistair had chaired the Joint Intelligence Committee meeting on 9 September. When the `sexing up` accusation floated to the surface, Alistair launched the usual diversionary attack on the BBC.

And it goes on.

His view of Hutton is quite close to that of our own Philip Chaston.

Thanks to Samizdata for spotting this and to Slugger O'Toole for mentioning Philip's post.

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