Sunday, November 30, 2003
Blair Out

George Galloway's new way, hoping to unite Islam and the Left, has a predictable message and two agreeable sentiments.

- To withdraw troops from Iraq and to let the people of Iraq decide their own future
- Halting the privatisation of essential public services
- Defeating the Euro and the proposed European constitution
- Protecting and enhancing our environment
- The restoration of trade union rights
- For equality, tolerance and a multi-cultural society

Guess which?

(22.53, 30th November 2003)

Initial indications show that the meeting of the EU foreign ministers, negotiating the draft of the European Constitution, achieved institutional agreements that shored up the text. The agreement on defence is detailed below and, in addition, ministers gainedcommon ground on arguments over foreign policy and the structure of the EU Commission.

Due to the removal of sanctions from the Stability and Growth Pact at Franco-German behest, the smaller countries gained their demands of one commissioner apiece, leading to an unwieldy and overpopulated Commission.

The meeting was unable to overcome divisions on overturning the voting powers enshrined in the Nice Treaty with Spain and Poland opposing any dilution of their votes and Germany demanding a greater say as the most populous power in Europe. The Italians suggested postponing the issue for some years without success.

(21.25, 30th November 2003)
The House of the Result of the Result

Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of State for Defence, repeated the standard American line that NATO should retain its leadership role within Europe. This was repeated in response to reports during the negotiations over the European Constitution that the "Big Three", the usurpers of Yalta, had concluded their defence agreement.

Blair finally agreed to the Franco-German plan for a military planning unit, outside of NATO, and reportedly consisting of 30 "operational planners". This institution is a strong indication that Blair was willing to concede this battle in return for retaining other powers - no doubt they will be lost later. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard describes this as a

a definitive break with British defence doctrine of the past half century. But British officials hinted that the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, would rewrite the agreement if the US was adamantly opposed.

The response from the United States and NATO was critical, but muted, until they are able to respond to concrete proposals that, as yet, remain under wraps. The details are hazy but indicate that NATO maintains 'first refusal' on participation in any crisis and that the EU has secured the Strasburg option. The military headquarters will be located in SHAPE, or in Cortenburg in Brussels and/or in the military infrastructures of France, Britain or Germany.

To paraphrase Howe, compromising with the British has transformed Franco-German pretensions into an impotent farce. The prospects are that EU defence reforms are essentially neutered under this proposal and the French/Germans will now look to develop military co-operation outside of the auspices of the established European institutions

(21.15, 30th November 2003)
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Blair's Bluster

I must admit that I thought the statements issued by the government on Tuesday were primarily for domestic consumption. However, it is reported today that the redraft of the Constitution, under the Italian Presidency, has removed the national veto from foreign policy and subjected this area to qualified majority voting.

Blair hoped that a clear and simple negotiating stance would deter the more federalist countries in Europe from encroaching upon the "redlines": preserving some freedom of action for Britain and allowing the toytown army to waltz across Iraq under US protection. Already involved in negotiations over the military planning unit with France and Germany and aware that the neutralisation of the Growth and Stability Pact has embittered the smaller countries, Blair has realised that the possibility of a full constitutional text for 2004 is diminishing.

In times of pressured negotiating, the European Union has a fairly successful track record. Most of the Member States do not wish to be considered responsible for the demise of the constitution and they will often make the necessary concessions or compromises to attain the winning post. With reference to Britain, one must ask which of the redlines that Blair has so assiduously publicised will be diluted. The most likely candidate is defence and Hoon's mumblings of downsizing, at the behest of a Brownite Treasury that prefers rancid butter to seized up guns, acts as a portent for the future.

If teh Constitution were to fail, the federalists have already started to make noises about a 'closer union'. The grouping includes France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and possibly the Netehrlands. If they were to develop an integrated model of governance, a European core, this could be advantageous or disadvantageous, depending upon how the institutions of the European Union reacted to this avant-garde. Its existence could either provide a stimulus to those bureaucratic and judicial elements that provide the dynamic for integration and harmonisation within the EU or it might encourage the fissiparous elements to demand the repatriation of powers, the greater use of opt-outs and the practical application of subsidiarity.

By writing this Constitution, the European elites have shown that even the structures, ideology and future of Europe remains a subject of division, argument and possibly failure.

(22.45, 27th November 2003)
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Rowing the boat back upstream to Nice

At first, the extraordinary statements emanating from Whitehall seemed to be the latest in a long series of negotiating ploys designed to strengthen Britain's hand in the intergovernmental negotiations over the European Constitution. The defence of the "redlines", placed in The Times and The Daily Telegraph, was designed to shore up perceptions that Blair was not negotiating in Europe on Britain's behalf. It was rather poor spinning from a government that used to pride itself on setting each day's political agenda, since the placement of the statements was obvious and crude.

The primary question was whether these expressions were issued for the domestic political agenda or were they designed to send a message to other countries within Europe. Given the internecine divisions that have dogged the negotiations over the last few weeks, especially as Spain and Poland refuse to give up their voting rights under the Nice Treaty, the possibility of political failure has become a plausible scenario. Blair could be attempting to capitalise on this failure by portraying himself as a dogged defender of Britain's interests, knowing that the chances of further integraton have actually diminished.

The same position was written into Brown's speech, with a similar emphasis on so far and no further to extensions of qualified majority voting, rather than say, further integration:

"We are making clear in these discussions that we are standing up for British interests.

"We have red lines and we are insisting on unanimity for tax, social security and defence."

On the whole, these speeches were for domestic consumption, rather than acting as manifestos for pre-negotiating positions. They were priming the public for the possible failure of negotiations over the European Constitution (rowing the boat back upstream to Nice) and providing an additional patriotic fillip for the beleaguered government whose earlier enthusiasm looks increasingly out of step with political reality.

However, the fact that the government is considering this posssibility must be good news.

(22.55, 25th November 2003)
Monday, November 24, 2003
Square Wheels

President Chirac, Prime Minister Raffarin (enjoying the end of cohabitation) and Prime Minister Blair enjoyed a precentennial summit of the entente cordiale. During their press conference, perceived divisions were replaced by bonhomie and backslapping unity on the issue of European defence.

According to both Britain and France, European defence would complement NATO. Of course in the devil of detail, differences emerge.

Blair was quite clear that European defence would apply to "the limited peacekeeping and humanitarian tasks, but we are actually doing European Defence today in Macedonia and also in Africa."

Chirac had a view of European defence as defence, operationally independent from NATO:

There are operations which need to be carried out by us. It has to be properly prepared, properly led and properly operated. There are national Chiefs of Staff, but we want our defence to be as effective and efficient as possible. We want there to be an organisation, a harmonisation. We do not want overlapping.

Blair still viewed the proposed rapid reaction force as an adjunct to NATO, taking up tasks in areas where NATO was unwilling to deploy its armed forces. Whereas Chirac viewed the new European army as an expression of European unity, contributing to "extra character and extra efficiency".

This press conference showed that both sides had failed in their attempts to bridge the main divide: between the Franco-German desire to create operational armed forces independent of NATO, and the British objective of utilising European forces as a complementary arm of NATO.

Chirac (smiling like a Cheshire cat) was quite clear that a solution would be found through trust:

I have nothing to add. You have raised a number of minor points, which are, of course, important. We will find an agreement on those with our British friends. There is absolutely no doubt about that, for a very simple reason. If we try to work together as partners but do not trust each other then we are likely to fail. When we do trust each other we find a solution. It is as simple as that. We are absolutely determined today to show that there is confidence, and to rid ourselves of mistrust. That is what makes me think that we will find a solution.

One knows that Blair believed him until directed to the light by one of his advisers with a dawning realisation that Chirac may have been indulging the cameras.

(23.00, 24th November 2003)
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Al-Qaeda: Conspiracy, Network or Ideology?

Al-Qaeda, to repeat the contributions of many analysts and academics, has become an amorphous beast that is no longer open to strict definition. The original terrorist grouping, with its training facilities and affiliation to the Taliban, has long been dispersed. Now, the term is applied to a large number of terrorist atrocities that are motivated by the ideology of Bin Laden, his cohorts and his trained followers. However, these atrocities are the separate manifestations of groups or franchise operations that achieve success with frightening regularity.

The argument that an upsurge in terrorism has accompanied the aftermath of the conflict in Iraq is sound. However, this upsurge has concentrated on Iraq and has been encouraged by the neighbouring states in order to destabilise the continuing development of the postwar settlement. Disaffected Muslims who adopt the ideology of al-Qaeda provide a strong supply of troops and terrorists for an organised insurgency that has wedded disaffected Sunnis, Ba'athist stalwarts and foreign jihadis into a strong opponent for the Iraqi Provisional Authority.

Al-Qaeda's ideology is based upon fomenting chaos and bloodshed, since these conditions appear to be necessary for the establishment of their khalifah. Their ideological underpinnings have been strengthened by the war in Iraq and the continued western presence in the Middle East. Yet, there may be a case for stating that their support has plateaued and that there is unlikely to be a further radicalisation of existing groups or populations within the Muslim world.

The last two years have seen the creation of a "generation of terrorists". They are buoyed up and renewed by the madressehs that educate their successors but they have not proven adept at extending their political base or converting Muslim states to their particular views (with the possible exception of the Northwest frontier in Pakistan).

Whilst the conditions in Iraq have proved a bloody lesson for Britain and the United States in the capability of Arabs in wedding insurgency and terrorism, this conflict has also, in the longer term, demonstrated the limitations of al-Qaeda's reach.

As Paul Wilkinson of St. Andrews University points out,

It has not been lost on the Muslim world that the majority of those killed by al-Qaeda in so many of their brutal suicide bombings have been fellow Muslims.

It is the Muslim states that view Al-Qaeda as the greatest threat to their semi-westernised existence. The terrorists pose a grave threat to any progress made in the Muslim world over the past few years.

The fact that Muslim governments and their citizens increasingly recognise that al-Qaeda’s savage violence endangers their own human rights and their own chances of economic wellbeing and stability just as much as it threatens Western citizens will make them more determined not to give in to this intimidation and to crack down on those responsible for terrorist atrocities and who libel the name of Islam by pretending that they have a religious justification for their crimes.

Authoritarian regimes are beginning to address the social and economic stagnation that provides the fuel for Islamic jihad. However, their culture and their ideological resentment of the West will remain an engine for terrorists in months and years to come. Only by solving the structural impetus of Al-Qaeda can the terrorism be prevented from transmitting its goals and methods to another generation.

(23.41, 23rd November 2003)
Friday, November 21, 2003
In areas where it counts

This is an old report from the Guardian but it demonstrates the difficulties in reading British foreign policy as it oscillates between the British and European poles.

Energy security is an important issue for governments as medium-term projections demonstrate that dependence upon Middle Eastern oil can only increase. The United States has developed a strong debate upon this issue whereas Europe, with a crisis looming, does not address this serious issue in public.

The United Kingdom is moving towards a strategic partnership with the United States in order to maintain supplies of oil outside the Middle East.

The report to the president and prime minister was written in July by Don Evans, the American commerce secretary, and Spencer Abraham, the American energy secretary. It outlines how the American and British governments have woven together the "separate strands" of their countries' energy and foreign policies in a "frank sharing of strategic analysis and assessments".

The countries have agreed "a set of coordinated actions to help achieve our objectives" across the world.

The big British and American energy companies have been given favoured access to the discussions between the governments, taking part in meetings with officials.

This strategic initiative, known as the US-UK energy dialogue, will focus upon Africa and Central Asia. It is not clear if Britain is aligning itself with the United States because the European Union has not organised an alternative or because Blair has decided long-term strategy will acquire the possibility of greater success in partnership with the United States.

(21st November 2003, 19.07)
Friday, November 14, 2003

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Hadrian and the Neo-Cons

Not a particularly bad band from the seventies, but a rather belated mea culpa from me. Hadrian Wise's article, which he has already alluded can be directly referenced here. It's in PDF, but it's very, very good.

Eastern Promise

Another small straw in the wind on Russia's Far East - how long can it remain Russian?

Right Now Article on the Neo-conservatives.

(13th November 2003.)

Okay, since nobody else will, I thought I'd draw readers' attention to a piece I have in the current issue of Right Now! on the neo-conservatives. You can find it here:
Monday, November 10, 2003
Visions of the Future

Although assumptions that do not take into account the electoral cycle may prematurely bury the Western Alliance, their roadmap of dhimmitude, appeasement and decay is not necessarily the future that beckons.

Mark Steyn is more forthcoming in his Frontpage article where the darker side of his vision comes into being:

Europe is dying, and it’s only a question of whether it goes peacefully or through convulsions of violence. On that point, I bet on form.

Whatever the path that European decline takes, it is clear we are now on the glidepath since none of their elites have the courage or the leadership to face the problems of reform.

Still, the Club of Rome has appointed its successor, the United Kingdom Environment Agency. It's the usual case of the frighteners, without any scientific argument to back up their, not to put too fine a point on it, bollix.

The Dumills inhabit a world that is in some ways "less modern" - many homes grow their own food because, thanks to soaring oil prices, imported food is too expensive.

In other ways, however, the Dumills' existence is truly futuristic, with all human excrement being automatically analysed by a robot in the loo.

Many children are adopted, including the Dumills' daughter Britney
[notice the populist touch]. Plummeting sperm counts have made natural conception very difficult.

And most workers are immigrants because global warming has rendered large swathes of the world uninhabitable.

Here's the voice of reason, arguing that New Labour Luddites (formerly luvvies) have bought into the agenda that we shoudl sustain our economy by destroying it.

Prominent global warming sceptic Philip Stott believes the Environment Agency's vision of the future is alarmist and, he argues, not supported by science.

"These scenarios are, in one sense, 'utopian', in that they are about worlds that are unlikely to exist anywhere (even in Tunbridge Wells), while they stem from a dystopian premise that everything about the modern age is gloom and doom," said Stott, Professor Emeritus, University of London.

"Like Eeyore, the EA should be left to ruminate in a boggy place, while the rest of us enjoy our lives and continue to develop without being lectured to by these worryworts."

So that's what Portillo was offered

The shadow cabinet is announced yet strangely no shadow foreign secretary is named. Rather odd seeing as it is such a heavy hitting post. So when Portillo said that he had been offered some big shadow cabinet job, that's what he was talking about.

However according to Norman Lamont, Howard is not that much better on the second most important question facing British foreign policy (and is marginally worse on the most important question):

Both Michael Howard and Tony Blair are strongly pro-American. Mr Blair's attitude comes from his belief that it is in Britain's interest always to stay close to the United States. Michael Howard would strongly agree with that. But Michael's pro-American feelings are altogether wider and more emotional. His enthusiasm for America extends from American football, through American salad dressings, to discussing the differences in the electoral colleges of Iowa and California. One of his favourite books is Tender Is the Night by the American author, F Scott Fitzgerald, whereas Blair's choice on Desert Island Discs was Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.

OK, he has no big pecuniary interest in the Special Relationship like a certain Leader of the Opposition of not too long ago - but deciding issues of cold national interest on emotional grounds? What is that softie doing leading the party of the national interest?
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Cuts masquerading as 'flexibility'

Lord Bach, Minister for Defence Procurement, was musing about cutting £1bn from the procurement budget (no doubt redistributed to needy Labour constituencies) and focusing on networked communications.

Because the future will probably see more conflicts that are smaller and spread throughout the world, Lord Bach said the UK must invest in capabilities that will drive down the cost of deployments. Indeed, he said, the whole structure of the armed forces should be configured around agility and deployability.

Bach said the changes would require difficult choices. There have been rumours and reports in the UK media that those difficult choices will involve cutting £1 billion ($1.67 billion) from the defence budget. These include: reducing the planned buy of 12 Type 45 destroyers to eight; cancelling the third tranche of Eurofighter Typhoons, bringing the number down to 130 from 232; and withdrawing about 120 Challenger 2 MBTs from active service.

Defence cuts masquerading as modernisation and flexibility. Via Quidnunc.
This one will hit paydirt

This is one lawsuit that the government should consider dismissing at the first opportunity. Even if you disagree with the circumstances of the Iraqi war, the lawsuit launched by the three Hamoodi brothers over the death of their family in Basra, would hobble British military campaigns if they won. Every civilian casualty or death would be considered unlawful and surviving relatives would be liable to damages from the British taxpayer.

Now, the additional expense may dissuade the British army from military adventures and there is a moral case for argueing that civilian casualties should be compensated. However, our activist judiciary has, in recent years, supported case law on the basis of universal values as defined by international agreements, rather than the particulars of each case. This lawsuit will provide an opening for the Left to narrow the activities of the British army through judicial decisions rather than Parliament. This is now their preferred route.

(9th November 2003, 22.00)
Fading Horizons

What do you say when arch-federalist and all-Belgian Belgian, Jean-Luc Dehaene, tries to lower expectations of the intergovernmental conference and cautions against a successful ratification of the Constitution.

Mr Dehaene was not overly optimistic about the progress of the ongoing intergovernmental conference (IGC). He welcomed the constructive and efficient way in which this IGC had been prepared by a Convention for the first time, but expressed concern that the Member States could unravel the Convention's draft text. He warned participants not to expect too much from the IGC.

However, in recent talks between France and Spain on the issue of weighting votes, neither party were able to come to agreement over the issue of qualified majority voting.

The possibility of failure is now commanding attention from the Blairites who have invested their time and energy in this process. A pol's survival instinct would be to recognise the cul-de-sac and hope that events elsewhere prevent the issue from ever precipitating a crisis. However, Blair's pro-European ideology is proven by his wish to keep digging by asking the French to stop their own people from having a say on this issue.

British diplomats have appealed to France not to hold a referendum on the new European constitution to avoid embarrassing Tony Blair. One high-ranking British official has privately told senior French diplomats that it would be "unhelpful" to Mr Blair if Jacques Chirac, the French president, decided to go ahead with a poll in France.

This interference demonstrates the weakness of the Blairite position since examples of referenda in other major European countries will undermine his refusenik stance. Our Prime Minister also invites contempt for attempting to prevent the people of another state from exercising their democratic vote in order to strengthen his political position.

(9th November 2003, 21.43)
Friday, November 07, 2003

Self Delivering Leaflets

A new technological breakthrough has reached the the Conservative Party, which I think could well be a secret weapon that will simply knock Labour off the political map for a generation. The self-delivering leaflet has, so my sources at Smith Square unreliably inform me, been a great success. The self-knocking door has a couple of teething problems, but the self-manned polling station is almost certainly going to be ready in time for the next election.

After all what other logical conclusion can one draw from the decision of Tory MPs to sack a swathe of their membership, and then boasting to lobby journalists that they were going to ensure that the members were going to go nowhere near the leadership vote because they were so bloody right wing?

So the Tory MPs have decided to lose a bumbling but trusted leader who led them from 20 points behind in the polls to level pegging with the most upopular minister in the most unpopular government since polling began. A Home Secretary who manages to radically cut crime and still remains unpopular certainly has a unique achievement to his credit - but hardly the sort that a party in the business of winning votes should hanker after.

Sadly for my outraged pique, and fortunately for the national interest, the Tories will be saved the full penalty of their vote-blindness. In the next couple of years it will be a good time to be a Tory. The Tories will almost certainly pick up support before levelling off as the election approaches. This will be the case even if they were led by Neil Hamilton (with Mohamed Fayed as his shadow Chancellor). Unless Labour comes crashing to the ground, the Tories will also lose the election but with a respectable showing. Essentially Howard offers them a Faustian pact - you will pick up seats but you won't win the election.

The other sad thing about Howard is that he is as thoroughgoing an Atlanticist as his predecesor - and many of those surrounding him are active in Atlantic Bridge, the thinktank that gamely tries to maintain that there is a serious intellectual case for the "Anglosphere" apart from the laudible but rather negative fact that it really annoys the Continentals.

So, no change on the Iraq war - and there will still be (thankfully short lived) Lib Dem surges whenever Iraq hits the headlines as it will with Kelly or in the very likely event that the Shias around Basra start getting shirty. Of course a group of serious politicians would not choose a man who was as infected as his predecesor with Atlantophilia - although not as compromised financially by all those sponsored trips across the pond. But we're not talking about a set of serious politicians, we're talking about Tory MPs.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Onwards and Upwards

On a related note, here is a report from the Center for Defense Information on the weaponisation of space. At this point in time, the militarisation of space continues apace with ten nations having a military capacity and forty nations with the potential to do so, through their current civil capability. The dominance of the United States is awesome: they account for 95% of all military space expenditure and have 110 military operational satellites compared to 40 for Russia and 20 for the rest of the world combined. (One should note that this includes the Global Positioning System).

There is an incentive for the United States to adopt offensive weapon systems in space to protect its military assets and the United States Air Force Space Command's most recent plan has earmarked their deployment in the timeframe 2016-2028.

The report examines the case for whether other countries have the capability of deploying space-based weaponsry, the most promising of which are micro-satellites that can attack and disable existing satellites. There have been statements by some nations, notably China and India, that they are working towards these capabilities but these are considered to be rhetorical flourishes.

Apart from the United States, every other country favours a diplomatic prohibition on space weaponry in order to hobble US supremacy in this area. The other drawback for dependence on space systems is that they are vulnerable to a 'scorched orbit' strategy by a desperate enemy using a low yield nuclear warhead in a low earth orbit or payloads of granular particles.

(6th November 2003, 21.56)

An article in the Christian Science Monitor explores the unenthusiastic response of the United States to the Chinese space programme, in reaction to the secrecy surrounding the launch of the taikonaut. China is playing the weak hand of one man in space very well, playing to the press and entering partnerships with other groups like the EU which wish to maintain independent space programmes.

It is too early to tell if their space programme is viable but the long-term aims of their military ambitions in space are clear:

In the aftermath of the US led wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the Chinese military has taken note of US satellite systems that coordinate attacks. Sources say it is US satellites that most concern the Chinese. As Johnson-Freese put it in a paper delivered Friday at Harvard, "The Chinese, while advocating a treaty to ban space weapons, have also made no bones about working on anti-satellite technology. Kinetic energy weapons, jammers, parasite satellites that can surreptitiously attach themselves to other satellites, and high-powered ground-based lasers [have] all been on the Chinese menu of options being pursued. The Chinese are also interested in navigation satellites, which can enhance missile targeting capabilities."

The US can brook no interference on the high frontier; this strategic advantage is a key factor in the maintenance of their superpower status.

(6th November 2003, 21.30)

Michael Howard and the Conservative Party: Dracula Will Have to Do

Free Life Commentary
Issue Number 115
Wednesday, 5 November 2003
This article and various replies to it will be published in the next issue of Free Life Magazine:

Michael Howard and the Conservative Party:
Dracula Will Have to Do
by Sean Gabb

The emergence of Michael Howard as leader of the Conservative Party has left me as surprised as everyone else. When it first became public, I assumed the plotting against Mr Duncan Smith was the beginning of more embarrassment and annoyance, and that the Ministers in this most worthless of governments would be able to sleep more soundly in their beds - assured that whatever their own followers might say or do against them, they could rely on the official opposition to say and do nothing. As it turns out, the button was pressed, and Mr Duncan Smith vanished about a day later into the oblivion where all now agree he should have been allowed to remain. In his place sits a man of apparent firmness and ability. Looking at the actions of the Parliamentary Conservative Party during the past ten days, it is as though a mental defective had stopped twitching in his wheelchair and turned into something like a Bond villain.

I ought to say that I share the general relief on the right. When he was Home Secretary, I used to turn out occasional philippics against Mr Howard. He had no respect for our constitutional traditions, I would say. He was transforming the country into a police state. He was a bad man. I do not retract anything that I said against him. Even so, times are now altered. We face a government that is not incidentally bad, but essentially so. Its obvious ambition is to destroy us as a nation and to enslave us as individuals. It is led by a psychopathic liar and war criminal. It is rolling back the economic reforms of the 1980s and bringing us ever closer to the economic stagnation of continental Europe. At such a time, we need a man of firmness and ability to reshape us into a credible movement. Satan was doubtless also a bad person. But had I been one of those fallen angels groaning individually in the lake of black fire, I know it would have thrilled me to have a leader stand up and cry

Awake, arise, or be forever fallen

It certainly beads straining to hear the whispered cough of a quiet man.

There is “something of the night” about Mr Howard. But this is no disqualification to be our leader. Indeed, just as Margaret Thatcher used the “Iron Lady” insult to her advantage, Mr Howard could easily benefit from the abuse now heaped on him by the leftist media. The country has had enough of Mr Blair and his murderous grin. The mood, I feel, is ready to accept a leader who can be respected and even a little feared.

This does not, of course, mean that we can look forward to an age of reaction. Conservative governments hardly ever turn back the clock on what their radical opponents have done. At best, they can be expected to clear up some of the mess they inherit and reach a wary compromise with the entrenched power of an ideological state apparatus that they have not the personnel to replace or the imagination to destroy. On the other hand, the looming crisis on Europe and other issues may now be so great that there may be no alternative to reaction.

Whatever the case, though, Mr Howard will have to do. And so, when he sits high on his throne of royal state, I too will bow down before him and give not Heaven for lost.

But the question remains how did they do it? For the past six years, I have watched from an advantaged view as the Parliamentary Conservative Party ran about like terrified sheep in the dark. How have they managed this coup so quickly and so well? The simplest explanation is to say that enough of them saw the possibility of losing their seats at the next election and that desperation supplied the lack of courage and imagination. I like to believe, however, in a more complex explanation. Mine is not a standard conspiracy theory, as I claim little prior evidence in it support. Instead, I reason back from perceived effects to possible causes. It may be entirely false, but it pleases me to entertain it. Here it goes.

As said, this is not an ordinary Labour Government, but something of wonderful malevolence. It does not so much want to change the running of the country as to destroy it. There is the continued sapping of the Monarchy - the threatened removal of royal powers, and the degradation of Her Majesty from our Head of State to citizen of a United States of Europe. There is the determination to outlaw hunting and to destroy farming and to remove all the hereditary peers from the House of Lords. There is the progressive hobbling of the City financial institutions with European levels of tax and regulation. There is the use of the armed forces as American mercenaries - and without any advantage gained in return. There is the possible murder and undoubtedly the forced suicide of someone senior in the foreign policy and intelligence establishment. The remnants of the Old Order may finally have realised that there is no compromise on offer from this Government, and now may be doing something about it. The Monarchy, the landed and mercantile interests, and the security services - these are even now a formidable combination. Perhaps 1688 is finally come again. Then, an alarmed old order realised the nature of its enemy and took up the cause of an aroused but leaderless nation. Perhaps Mr Blair is to play the role of James II, and Mr Howard of Prince William.

Is there any truth in this? Or am I just an old romantic? We shall see.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2003
I thought this would be on Slugger as it is one of the more interesting stories to come out of NI. Loyalist inmates have called for the army to take a hand in managing NI prisons as part of their campaign for segregation from republicans.

Clearly a big negative in the current climate. We don't need loyalists playing brinkmanship and providing Blair with further tasks for the overstretched defence forces.
Blair waffles on about the European Constitution: here are our red lines.

"But, Prime Minister, what happens if the other countries agree to tax harmonisation?"

"Er, er, it's diplomacy. We're all negotiating. You can't actually expect me to take a position on this issue. My God, is that the time..."
Basra appears to be one city that is stable and enjoying basic services. Good news as the longer stability lasts, the quicker security can be transferred to local Iraqi authorities. There should be a concerted effort to repatriate our troops and replace them with Iraqi police or more lowkey WEU forces.

The new freedom is helping to attract an energetic vibe in the city. Newly constructed hotels have sprung up all over town, filled with businessmen from Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, hoping to cash in on opportunities in a new Iraq.

Basra's streets are filled with merchants selling furniture and used cars, shipped overland or by ship. The nearby deep-water port of Umm Qasr, 30 miles south, hums with activity as Iraqi wooden boats, or dhows, sail up with goods from Dubai and Kuwait.

``This city is alive again,'' said Saeed Hassan, whose furniture store has watched sales triple in the last six months. ``We are safe to do business; we are safe to live our lives.''

An Iraqi success story, in the Grauniad too.
A British marine was shot dead in a covert operation against Al Qaeda forces. It is reported that he was part of an SBS operation, the location of which was not disclosed. Was it even in Iraq?
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
US Bases and Lost Property

Another ally of the United States appears to have displaced indigenous populations in order to establish or expand US bases. Now the Inuit in Greenland are taking their case for the return of their hunting and fishing grounds to a Danish court concerning the US base at Thule.

In the court's biggest civil case to date, the Inuits are demanding the return of their lucrative hunting and fishing grounds plus damages of 234 million kroner (31 million euros, 36 million dollars) for losses incurred since their expulsion in 1953.

The 187 families were forced by the Danish government to leave the village of Dundas, known as "Uummannaq" in Inuit, against their will and with no compensation, and transposed to Qaanaq, more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the north, after the United States decided to extend the security perimeter around its Thule radar base.

In a story familiar to the Chagossians, natives that got in the way were removed. Their property rights, based on communal usage, were not respected in the original accord. It is doubtful that Thule will be closed down but there is a case for the Danish government to compensate them for their expropriation. The US should also contribute and come to an agreement with the original inhabitants.

(4th November 2003, 23.25)

Snow White and the Seven Asylum Seekers has been banned. This topical pantomime was considered 'racist' and therefore out of tune in multicultural Britain. The Village Council took the advice of local soviets, oops sorry, racial equality committees, who pronounced that the production was racist and that satire was no longer an accepted form of humour.

Tim Horner, chairman of the village hall committee, said they decided on the ban after taking advice from racial equality councils when the writer and producer of the panto, Bob Harrod, refused to alter the show three weeks ago.

Mr Harrod, 55, branded the decision ``a load of old rubbish''. He added: ``The script is not at all racist, we just take the mickey out of people.''

The panto is not noted for its quality as the list of Alis demonstrates: Chemical Ali, Comical Ali, Back Ali, Dark Ali, Bowling Ali, Ali G, and Ali-Kiss-Angel. No doubt it maligned Africans, Irish, Jews, Gays, Iraqis, comedians and cricketers.

(4th November 2003, 23.15)
Side-effects of the Constitution

The European Constitution includes many ill-defined and poorly constructed clauses, a Dangerous Dogs Act for the continent. One of these clauses is a prohibition on any act that could be construed as a eugenic practice.

The draft includes a new charter of fundamental rights, which has been declared non-negotiable. It requires the “prohibition of eugenic practices, particularly those aiming at the selection of persons”.

This has been noticed by anti-abortion groups who are now determined to enforce their morals on all through the law courts rather than through changes in law enacted by parliament as a liberal democracy would expect. They wish to obtain a ban on ante-natal testing and the abortion of severely handicapped children.

The morality of this issue is very problematic but the actiosn of Life and others demonstrate that the Constitution gives a green light to lobbies and interest groups to implement their agendas through the law courts bypassing the difficult path of public education and support. In the new EU, democracy is just a tiresome obstruction.

(4th November 2003, 23.07)
Monday, November 03, 2003
Brian Micklethwaite recently posted about Blair's strategy for turning Britain into steroid heaven.

Like so much else behind this government's fog, there was a European dimension:

Euro 2004 in Portugal plus the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Athens will place Europe at centre stage as far as international sport is concerned in 2004. For this reason, the European Union has chosen to name 2004 the European Year of Education through Sport (EYES) with the slogan "Move your body, stretch your mind".

Now is the time for the League of Fatties Suicide Squad to sacrifice themselves for the greater good
Michael Howard and Europe

On Sean Gabb's candidlist many moons ago, Mark Reckless cited that working for Michael Howard was evidence of Euroscepticism.

Can I also vouch for a Douglas Carswell, who like me joined the list a few weeks ago, and has been an active campaigner against Europe working with Michael Howard and Michael Spicer.

Moreover, as the Britain in Europe website indicates, Howard was the first MP to call for the repatriation of powers from Europe at a time when the Nice and Amsterdam treaties had not been signed.

The Tory party remains under Eurosceptic leadership.
Gibraltar Precedent

It came too late for the Chagossians in Diego Garcia but the precedent on indigenous consent for changes in sovereignty has also been reaffirmed for the Falkland Islands.

During a press conference held at CARI Martin O’Neill MP, president of the eighth ABC meeting said the British delegation pointed out to the Argentines that the agreement between Britain and Spain, which was subsequently set aside because there was an obvious lack of consent on the part of the Gibraltarians, is a precedent, and that it’s clear that there will not be sovereignty negotiations concerning the Falkland Islands without the consent of the majority of the Islanders.

(3rd November 2003, 22.37)
Sunday, November 02, 2003
Why the EU is (becoming) a modern state

Whenever I read a Robert Cooper article, I think back to his tripartite categorisation of international states: premodern, modern and postmodern, referring to respectively examples such as Somalia, China and the EU. They are either emergent and savage, states that pursue their national interests or collectivities that privilege the rule of international law over sovereignty and democratic legitimacy.

Given Cooper's New Labour antecedents, foreign policy is one area that he would not support the mantra of modernisation: a reactionary return to national sovereignty with all the severing of ties that such an endeavour would entail.

In his recent article in the Guardian, Cooper has assimilated the lessons of the terrorist atrocities since 2001 and now argues more vociferously that postmodern collectivities should employ modernist methods (ie force) to defend their interests. This theme was always emergent in his thought and events have forced a particular reading upon his work. However, in his role as Javier Solana's assistant, Cooper is here arguing that the European Union should adopt military and security positions in order to defend itself. Cloaked within his postmodern sensibilities is an argument for the EU to acquire military capabilities in order to enhance its security. This is lnked to New Labour's own thinking upon the matter and also demonstrates the ideological cement between Blair's hawkish stance and his pro-European sentiments.

Cooper's vision of an EU that monitors its Near Abroad and ensures that the Middle East is unable to threaten continental security strikes chords with the cultural and political aims of the neoconservatives and the Bush administration. Empire and containment are impractical for ideological and political reasons, leaving judicious intervention as the only alternative.

The domestic governance of foreign countries has now become a matter of our own security.

Cooper does not state that preemptive action is required and supports preventive structures to head off war:

This is not to say that the only way to deal with terrorism is to extend the EU into the Middle East. Can we imagine a regional structure in the Middle East with security guarantees from the US or Nato, and assistance and market access in the EU, traded against guarantees of good governance? There are a thousand objections: suspicion of the west in general and the US in particular is such that no one in the region would take the idea seriously. But what else might stop the conflict in Palestine for good? Would anyone have the vision to try?

However, once you have accepted that your interests involve the governance of other states, can intervention, if it is deemed necessary, be far behind? this article shows that, whilst it is still not politic to mention force as a tool of foreign policy in the EU, the gap between certain elements within the EU shaping foreign policy and US sentiment is far less that would first appear.

More worrying is that the drive to provide the EU with greater capabilities for securing its interests is promoted by Blair and involves greater integration amongst certain Member States. Neoconservatives are not opposed to the EU, just to a structure that fuses defence integration with anti-Americanism. Nevertheless, they are aware that these policies turn on the electoral cycle and that the US/EU face the same threats. It is not difficult to see a Bush administration promoting deeper British membership of the EU, if it meant a European security structure more sympathetic to the United States.

This article demonstrates that the EU is adopting a similar model to the Russian Federation in its policies. Both take the view that they have a primary interest in stabilising the Near Abroad and wish to stabilise these areas to secure their objectives. Russia's enfeebled and savage defence of the former Soviet Union against the other great powers is not a good example to follow but, Cooper's postmodernism aside, his arguments sound like an old-fashioned defence of a nascent sphere of interest in the Middle East and North Africa, even if the tools of diplomacy have been modified by globalisation.

The last error and omission is, of course, oil - the unspoken commodity that drives all policy and is kept hidden to spare electorates the painful truth that people die so that they can drive their cars. The EU wishes to secure the Middle East because its dependence upon Arabic oil is even greater than America's. An article on EU security policy that does not state this is looking out upon the world with one eye.

It is clear that the result of Cooper's plan would be a stagnant hegemony, where the present interest of the state would be perpetuated and geographically extended under the guise of 'good governance'. Here is where Cooper's loyalties lie:

Put these two trends together - access for individuals to powerful weapons and the liberation of the individual from loyalty to church, state or tradition - and we have the possibility that the state's monopoly on force may be under threat. This will not (I hope) come within our lifetime, but eventually the logic of technology and society will assert itself. We must ask ourselves what we should do.

My sympathies lie with the liberated. Faster please!

(2nd November 2003, 20.57)
Does Gibraltar really want to be part of the EU?

A recent press release from the European Commission (via EUObserver) stated that no impediment could be found to the UK including Gibraltar within an 'England and wales' constituency for purposes of allowing their citizens to vote in European elections. The Commission was responding to a complaint from the Spanish who alleged, with a touch of xenophobia, that Britain was allowing non-EU citizens to vote.

The Commission, on the grounds of "sensitivity", was unwilling to back Britain. Although the Spanish complaint was dismissed, the Commission was unwilling to say so and called on both parties to find an "amicable solution" (read: give Gibraltar back to Spain; after all, the people of the Rock are just a nuisance).

This spells bad news for the inhabitants of Gibraltar. Were they ever given a vote in the referenda of 1973 and 1975? If not, they have been brought into the EU by default and without a vote. They should have one, if this is the case.

(2nd November 2003, 20.15)

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