Our politicians like to present the gargantuan international aid budget as a badge of compassion. In reality, it is a monument to their vanity and extravagance with other people’s money.
"It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar" – Henry David Thoreau
Our politicians like to present the gargantuan international aid budget as a badge of compassion. In reality, it is a monument to their vanity and extravagance with other people’s money.
We’ve been bombing Iraq since 1991 more or less. So it takes a somewhat credulous mind to accept the proposition “23 years of bombing hasn’t got us what we want, but 26 or 27 years, that’s the ticket”
Let’s set aside the fact we killed an unknown number of people with the sanctions under Saddam’s tenure, let’s set aside the fact we’ve littered Iraq with depleted Uranium which will impact on the country for generations to come, and let’s skirt past the well documented chaos that took hold following Saddam’s removal. More bombing is apparently the answer to ISIS who are profoundly evil. ISIS beheads people, have sex slaves and have a literalist take on the Koran, and we have to kill people like that apparently. Unless they are the Saudi government obviously.
And let’s not think too long either about where ISIS got their cash, guns and aid from, now or in the recent past. You may recall that this time last year, we wanted to go to the aid of the plucky “Free Syrian Army”(which included ISIS) and the Qataris who seem to think ISIS are just tickety-boo are happy to hurl wads of cash at them, allegedly. (Whose side are we on now in Syria anyway?)
So let’s get to Westminster’s latest wheeze to… well I’m not sure what exactly. Support the Iraqi government I guess, which we will achieve in some way by supporting rebel Kurdish groups who would just as quickly turn their guns on Iraqi government forces as ISIS. (Assuming said government forces actually engaged rather than doing a mass Usain Bolt impersonation).
As our resident aviation consultant Nick M will no doubt confirm, there are basically two types of air attack. Strategic and tactical. Strategic air power seeks to pulverise enemy industry or large infrastructure for example. Consider allied air forces in the later stages of WW2 when the US attacked industrial capacity in German cities and the UK attacked cities by night. This was achieved by direct attacks on ball bearing factories or submarine pens etc. Tactical bombing by contrast is what today we call close air support. Think back to the early stages of WW2 where the German air force attacked in close co-ordination with the Panzers. It was hard to resist Stukas above and Panzers in front. This was the basic ‘blitzkrieg’ philosophy outlined by German commanders in the 1930’s and it still informs military tactics today.
Or perhaps I should say it still informs those with an understanding of military tactics, which seems to exclude much of the MOD and the rest of Whitehall. What we are doing is a type of strategic bombing against an enemy with hardly any strategic targets. The RAF released a video of one of their raids. Consider they would obviously release the best they had. It showed the destruction of…. an ISIS armoured column? their command and control centre? a mass of their troops? No. The RAF at no doubt very great expense, were crowing that they had destroyed a truck (sic). One with an antiquated Russian 20mm cannon on the back no less.
This is demented. It will have almost no impact on ISIS forces, it winds up the grievance mongers back home (making another 7/7 more not less likely) costs loads of money we don’t have, and shows us as effectively powerless. Can we afford another defeat in the region? (When we left Iraq the first time, the militias had beaten us, make no mistake).
To be effective, we would need to support localised Kurdish or Iranian (no chance whatsoever) attacks with localised strikes in immediate combat situations. This would require UK troops to call in and direct the air strikes right on the ground. Though it was not declared at the time, this was clearly happening in Libya when Gadhafi’s aged tank army was destroyed. This we are told, won’t happen* Or we could use the Apache helicopters in very close air support to turn the Kurds into a formidable localised ground attack proposition. But this is very risky for the helicopters and so, won’t happen.
So we have the absolute worst of all worlds. Ineffective and inconsequential raids which cost a fortune and further antagonise home grown loons making the UK less safe. Can anyone think of a more stupid policy?
(* The undeclared presence of a large UK ground force in a nearby country would at least potentially put a lie to this, if such a force were to exist)
In 2012, Sophie Peeters moved to Brussels to undertake a film course and found herself shocked by the casual sexism and street harassment she encountered, to such an extent that she made a film about it “Femme De La Rue” (well what did you expect a film student to do? write a poem?)
In the film, she walks round her neighbourhood wearing jeans and a cardigan and then a knee-length summer dress and flat boots. A hidden camera shows that both times, men – from youths to groups of older men on cafe terraces – leer, cat-call and proposition her. She is called “whore”, “slut”, “bitch” and told that she looks up for sex. One man follows her saying she should come to his house or a hotel room. She says she gets this kind of comment eight to 10 times a day.
I will not attempt to condone or underplay the harassment she encounters and documents, as it is both genuine and repulsive, but as per typical in these sort of circumstances, the cries of “something must be done” becomes music to the ears of politicians on the make, especially in Belgium where they are still embarrassed by their inability to form a government after the 2010 elections.
So instead of saying to the local police commissioner “Oy! Matey. Do your bloody job” and clampdown on this unacceptable behaviour using the numerous existing laws on the statute books that these people are in breech of, they come up with the usual “all encompassing solution” which is like a sledgehammer to crack a nut and threatens massive intrusions into free speech that are already under attack. (more…)
So to Rotherham and no doubt many other towns around the country. It’s a disgrace, that much is clear and agreed upon. Middle aged men having sex with 11-year old girls is not consensual in any sense. That’s where the consensus ends. Before light was shined upon this festering sewer, whistle-blowers were sent on diversity courses, the message being, shut-up, and sacrifice the rape of children because to notice this would make you racist. Being a racist you see, is a worse crime than being a part of a gang that rapes children.
There are calls for the PCC to resign, but this misses the point. Who cares if he does or not? He is one man, a useless, incompetent clown to be sure, but just one man. It’s not the man, it’s the system. Then we come to the poor Ashya King. When this story broke, it was portrayed as looney-tune religious parents screwing with wise, paternalistic doctors and then ‘abducting’ their own child.
The reality seems to be, that Mr King was very unhappy with the ‘care’ poor Ashya received and wanted to try his luck in the Czech Republic. Good luck sir, if I believed in God, I would pray for you. The hospital were less happy. It was reported that they had taken Ashya “without consent” Well excuse me and kindly fuck off. After listening to professional advice from multiple, reputable sources, I will decide the medical care my son receives as necessary and it seems Mr & Mrs King thought likewise. And for disagreeing with the all-powerful NHS, they got – arrested (sic). You see, the state knows best, so be a good little prole and do as you are told.
Whilst I may have disagreed with the tactics employed by the Kings, I cannot fault their devotion, but this is not about Ashya. This is about saying “No” to Big Brother. Again, there will be questions and editorials and blogs and perhaps an inquiry of some sort, but nothing substantial will change. And this is the crux of it. The establishment, in the form of the bureaucracy, neither wants change, nor indeed is capable of change. Doubt this? Look at the drug laws. It’s hard to find a serious defender of them these days (who is not part of the anti-drug industry and thus personally, financially benefitting).
So if the state can’t change, and be honest, it can’t. What should we do next? Ignore it. No violence, no terror, no killing, simply ignore it (so far as one can) and let it collapse into bankruptcy as the western governments and the local councils more or less all will. Detroit is not an aberration, it’s a front runner. And then finally, perhaps we can conclude that a coercive, violent society, is not a sustainable one. The state (despite all the money and power) gave us Rotherham and Ashya, they can’t change and don’t want to. So ignore them and let them die a natural death.
It’s the humane thing to do.
I recently caved in and bought a Kindle, the ‘paper white’ if you must know. I’d resisted it for years and for the life of me, I don’t know why. Of the many benefits, the instant access to literature is great, but the access to non-publisher e-books is a revelation. This is probably the end of traditional publishers as we know them via disintermediation. We now get to ask the question which is an absolute death knell for any business “What are you for?” More importantly, the internet enlightenment is unleashing a new generation of Pamphleteers in the mould of Tom Paine, wholly unshackled from the analogue publisher-industrial complex.
And it is with this in mind, I came across an Amazon suggestion called “If it ain’t broke, the case against constitutional reform in the UK” which is an examination of British constitutional change since 1997. Now this may not strike you as the most interesting read. As an anarchist, any constitution is by definition, invalid. And this could have turned into just another dreary anti-Blair polemic. But it’s much, much more.
The author engages in a forensic examination of the pre-1997 UK constitution and its relationship to democracy, monarchy, the sovereignty of the crown in parliament, various voting methods, the judiciary and UK culture and social cohesion. He goes on to look at post 97 changes and assesses their impact.
He notes some of the spectacular failures such as the devolved assemblies and the obvious instability of the current settlements* along with some of the more damnable creations such as the “supreme court” the ill-judged rush to get rid of the lord chancellor’s office along with the problems inherent in direct democracy. He attributes California’s record deficit with the impact of the various voter initiatives. There is a section on federalism which is brilliantly insightful where the author points out the two great threats of power siphoning away to higher European and lower regional structures which confuse accountability. He quite correctly argues accountability should be with the office holder, not the office. There is a very interesting section on the problems of partisan, activist judges, how else can we explain the banning of handguns in Washington DC despite the crystal clear second amendment?
There is much to disagree with, I’m not a monarchist and whilst I am sure he realises there are more than two options, the confines of the study mean he looks at only the hereditary head of state vs elected President, the oft quoted Queen vs President Blair argument. Similarly, I think he gives too much credence to the role of Christianity as a cultural (rather than a religious) force in the UK; if anything, I think it’s on a long-tail residue rather than a live force.
The book is clearly well researched and well referenced, often citing the great Victorian constitutional expert A V Dicey amongst others. For me, it’s greatest strength is the recognition that the UK has traditionally been a country where if it is not specifically banned, it is permitted, whereas written constitutions suggest if it is not specifically permitted it is banned.
A good argument may not entirely change your mind, but it will engage you and leave you perhaps slightly different after you have processed it, and that’s what this book did to me. Interestingly, I downloaded it less than 48 hours ago and have just finished it. The best £1.83 I spent over the weekend. If you have digital access to books, read it. You’ll be glad you did and almost certainly better informed.
*The West Lothian question can’t be ignored for too much longer
Prior to the enlightenment, Some Jews lived in self-contained communities under rabbinical control. Israel Shahak (an Israeli scholar) stated “Prior to the creation of modern Israel, observance of religious law was the most important social reality in the lives of Jews” The religion governed all aspects of the lives of Jews.
The Lurianic Kabbalah dominated Judaism from the 16th to the early 19th century. As with most religions it proposed the absolute superiority of its own soul and body to the non in-group soul and body. But the enlightenment began to impact on the absolute rabbinical dictatorship and undermine it.
As the tenets of Orthodox Judaism came under pressure, the Rabbis feared cultural collapse so they began to look around for an idea to keep secularism at bay.
In 1861 Zvi Hirsch Kalischer published “Quest for Zion” which advocated reclaiming the holy land without waiting for the Messiah. This idea quickly gained traction, albeit it became a nationalist movement to boot. Ironically many of the native Palestinian Jews (who had lived with the Arabs for centuries) opposed this new European movement, realising that a large influx of European Jews would be horribly destabilising. Some local Jews were actually assassinated by local militias for opposing Zionism.
Now it is true that many Jews bought land in the region. Sadly this does not give anyone the right to form their own country (otherwise my house would be the anarchic republic of SAoT).
Now we come to Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism. He was highly critical of assimilated Jews who refused to commit to the idea and move to Palestine. Many of the early emigrees were poor Jews from Eastern Europe, far fewer were from Western Europe. The increasing immigration began to cause problems. These problems were exacerbated by racist crackpots like the chief Rabbi of Palestine between 1920 and 1935 Abraham Kook who said “The difference between a Jewish soul and the soul of non-Jews…is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle” There are a number of fundamentalist Jews in Israel today. As recently as 2009 an Israeli Rabbi published Kings Torah, a manual which provided religious justifications for killing non-Jews. The book states “the justification for killing babies is clear, if they will grow up to harm us” The Talmudic encyclopaedia states that if a Jew has coitus with a non Jewish female, even if she is a child of three, she must be killed. This is mind-blowing stuff. Muslim fundamentalism is known and rightly condemned. Jewish religious lunacy is largely unknown outside Israel.
In 1895 Herzl wrote “we shall endeavour to expel the poor population across the border”
In 1916 the UK was in trouble in the war with the central powers. They needed Jewish money and influence to get the US into the war. On November 2nd 1917, the Balfour declaration set in motion events that would lead to the creation of modern Israel. As early as 1919 the King-Crane commission recognised that Zionists wanted complete dispossession of the non-Jewish residents of Palestine, (then around 90% of the entire population). Rioting started in 1920. In 1936 Arabs protesting against unrestrained immigration to Palestine by Jews were threatened with martial law by the British. A three year revolt was ultimately crushed by the British army. It is thought that around 5,000 Arabs were killed during this time.
Despite being only 30% of the population in 1947, the creation of Israel gave the Jews 56% of the territory (while owning only 6% of the land at the time).
In December 1947 Plan Dalet was implemented, as the Jewish army began to attack Arab settlements. The massacre at Deir Yassin is particularly vile. Around 500 villages were burned. Since 1946 Palestine has lost 75% of its territory. Funny how no-one ever talks about this when they talk about the 1948 Arab attack.
And here are the modern day results, but hey, this is what civilisation brings you, after all they make Intel chips and are given F-16’s by the Americans. And it’s all the fault of Hamas anyway right?
If you defend this slaughter, you are truly a monster. Is it the road to peace?
My earliest memory is of Neil Armstrong climbing out of the module and walking on the Moon – this I remember before I have retained memories of either of my parents or myself (I was four years old as I watched it).
It was one of the greatest achievements in human history (not just by Neil Armstrong – but by the whole team of people, both on the mission and back in Houston). Perhaps this being my earliest memory partly explains why I am so passionately pro American – and why I have been for so long filled with intense agony over the decline (in so many ways) of the United States.
But what has humanity done in space after the Moon landings – what have we achieved over this Biblical period of 40 (indeed 45) years?
Apart from sending out a few robot probes, what humanity has achieved in the universe since the Moon landings can be summed up in one word.
I expect to get some flak for this one, but ‘cest la vie. The whole point of this media is to put up views you don’t see on the MSM. So kindly address the points if you want to but save the ad hominem.
We are seeing violence on a grand scale in Gaza and yet there’s hardly a peep from our PM and the media prefer to talk about football. So before we get into this, let’s be clear for the nth time, violence in pursuit of political goals is morally reprehensible. It doesn’t matter whether you kill with a primitive explosive or a hi-tech bomb. Same result, same morality, even if you claim it was an accident when the consequences are utterly obvious to everyone who cares to think.
So let’s get to the first claim that Israel is targeting Hamas. True enough, the trouble is, they could kill every Hamas terrorist in Gaza with a large enough bomb (and the civilian population along with it), but at what point would this become wrong? For me it’s when you knowing kill civilians in the attempt to kill others. You might say “Well the RAF bombed cities in WW2” and indeed they did. You may have your own views on that, but the UK was facing an existential struggle at the time, Israel (despite what they say) clearly isn’t. Hamas can’t make Israel cease to exist. They can create hell and kill scores of people but they can’t make Israel end. This is just a lie.
Then there is this idea that this is a cycle of violence amongst equals. It’s not. The beginning of wisdom is to see something and call it by its proper name, not by what you are told to call it. Thus if you see a man forcing a woman to have sex, don’t call it “Rough & Tumble” call it rape even if everyone on TV calls it R&T. Israel has advanced jets and a navy which it uses to bomb one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The Palestinians have no air force, no air defence, and no navy. This is coloniser versus colonised and those living in Gaza have two choices. Total compliance or resistance. Under the current circumstances what would you do?
So what’s Netanyahu’s justification for all the killing? Three kids kidnapped and killed, an evil crime, no excuses.
Terrorist criminals in South Belfast bombed pubs and kidnapped and murdered people. Civilization is the process of law, not revenge; we didn’t send the RAF to demolish the Falls Road and kill over a hundred people because IRA members live amongst the civilian population. Civilization is to arrest people, give them a right to a legal defence and make them answer for their crimes. Savagery is to go on a revenge killing spree. Which choice has Israel made?
Then there is the claim that Israel has to bomb because police work is impossible when the populace supports terrorists. Large areas of Northern Ireland elected Sinn Fein, but the UK didn’t resort to mass killing or air strikes
Don’t tell me you take the so-called warnings seriously, by default that has to be a fig leaf. If the objective is to kill Hamas leaders, you can’t honestly claim to say “Could all non-terrorists leave the building as it is about to be destroyed” and expect Abdul the terrorist murderer to remain in-situ. Obvious and laughable. I am embarrassed to hear people make the argument.
So please don’t tell me this is civilization, and you are on the side of the civilized. If demolishing homes, mass arrests, illegal collective punishment over 1,000 people killed or injured by air strikes is civilization, what would be uncivilized, what would be savagery, revenge and murder?
Lastly, who thinks this will stop Hamas or weaken them? Who thinks it will create more violence down the road? Men whose positions depend on violence (on both sides) want the killing to go on. So they go on killing. This is not a solution, it’s just more killing. The killing will only stop when one side decides to stop.
Well, I am sue most of you got it, but just in case anyone didn’t, there was a reason for the rather odd language in part one of this post. It would of course be illegal to ‘out’ victims in such cases and the women in question were not victims of Rolf et al, they were the supposed victims of the witches in Salem. It wasn’t the News of the World, it was the Malleus Maleficarum.
You can read the whole thing here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_witch_trials
The reason I put up Part 1 was to highlight the need for a statute of limitations at law. I would be simply unable to adequately defend myself from allegations made which related to conduct in the mid 1980’s when I started dating (adult) women. Now I don’t expect any to come forward and didn’t engage in any rum behaviours but were I to be asked by a lawyer “tell us about the night of the 16th of March 1986” I simply couldn’t. I could mount no adequate defence.
Nor am I suggesting that anyone found guilty is not, I simply remember the exchange between Roper and More
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
I am so sorry for the victims of abuse, and we need to give kids time to mature into adults, but there has to be a limit of some kind, otherwise qui tacet consentire videtur
After the passage of enough time anyway.
The various media and molestation trials must be a cause for concern.
After extensive research, I can now bring you the names of some of the victims of the sexual predators the recent prosecutions.
The various celebrity paedophiles were accused and arrested for allegedly afflicting Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, 12-year-old Ann Putnam, Jr., Elizabeth Hubbard, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne. The girls complained of being pinched and pricked . A doctor could find no physical evidence but other young women began to exhibit similar behaviours.
Meanwhile stories of enchantment from The News of the World about sexual encounters swaying the minds of men, and fortune telling were said to stimulate the imaginations of young girls and made Coulson an obvious target of accusation Not even in death were the accused granted peace or respect,
Some were less inclined to believe the biological explanations, preferring instead to explore motivations such as jealousy, spite, and a need for attention to explain behaviour that they contend was simply acting or the pursuit of compensation
Foreign policy on Iraq and Syria is a total car crash. This tends to be what happens when you go hurtling off on half-baked, wildly optimistic adventurism.
If you think back to the heady days of 2003, Tony Blair, he of the whiter than white government was in office. He told us Saddam was dangerous and was developing nukes and other WMD, Brits were 45 minutes from doom and all. The vile Ba’athist regime of Saddam said “no, we don’t have any” But would you trust a murdering sociopathic liar?
I am ashamed to say, I did believe the JIC report (the last time I ever did) but had a problem with the strategy. As the Western tanks rolled into Baghdad, I thought “surely Saddam HAS to fire the WMD’s” that after all is their strategic role. We were told he was ‘warned’ not to. But given that we had already declared war, I wasn’t sure how meaningful that was.
Total chaos and death followed the overthrow of Saddam, not the enlightened democracy we were promised. A few years, much cash and many deaths later, our troops withdrew from Basra – defeated.*
The Iraqis voted on entirely sectarian lines and the minority Sunnis were booted out of power, something they had enjoyed for nearly 1300 years. This pissed off the Saudis and Qataris, but overjoyed Iran. Western intervention utterly destroyed the Iraqi army and the Taliban as a serious military force in Afghanistan making Iran the regional geo-political power: now it had gifted them a friendly government next door.
Meanwhile in Syria, intelligence agencies from the West and arms dealers from Saudi Arabia concluded that de-stabilising the Assad regime might isolate Iran making them easier to deal with. So merry hell was let lose, as all manner of unknown anti-Assad groups were armed and funded. After all, it wasn’t like we’d just had experience of the total fucking carnage that follows when you de-stabilise and attempt to kick out a Ba’athist regime (or indeed Gaddafi in Libya). The Russians thought this a very bad idea and gave Assad some advanced anti-aircraft and anti-shipping missiles. This made western intervention tricky. Dead soldiers are one thing, you don’t see the photos, but crashed planes or sinking ships – bad media.
In August of 2013, 272 MP’s thought the very best course of action was to go to Syria and start killing yet more people, ideally people loyal to Assad. 285 thought it a bad idea and by a majority of just 13, we did not take the field alongside ISIS fighters – sic. (More on them in a moment).
Having turned Syria into a hellish bloodbath, the always admirable Saudis** started funding a group of Sunni co-religionists called the Independent state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They set about butchering people they regarded as apostates. This makes about as much sense as having a murderous dispute about the names of Santa’s elves, so clearly these are the people to give nearly a billion dollars and weapons to.
ISIS then took on the Iraqi army. You will recall we stayed in Iraq for years training this elite fighting force. This was the justification du jour when it became obvious there were no WMD’s. Predictably enough, the Iraqi army lasted about as long as the Afghan national army will when the Taliban want to take over again.
So now we had a problem, our nearly allies in Syria were being jolly naughty chaps in Iraq, so should we bomb them or deploy? Immediate engagement in Iraq is about as welcome as a cup of cold sick, so it is left to the Iraqis to re-supply planes from … Russia. Yep, in just a few days, Russian planes will be blowing ISIS to hell apparently. Of course you can’t just buy a modern jet fighter, jump in and fly it, so I guess the pilots must also be Russian? Perhaps NickM could advise?
If this works, the Iraqi government will say a big thanks to Vladimir Putin.
The Iranians meanwhile have had a huge sense of schadenfreude. Western governments, notably the USA, after calling them the empire of evil etc. for twenty years, now go cap in hand for help with ISIS.
Meanwhile Obama now wants to spend $500 Million to train and equip ‘moderate’ Islamic murderers in Syria (but not ISIS, oh no!) because it’s not like we have recent experience of that type of adventure being utterly infiltrated by fundamentalists and rendered pointless. Even if you could identify moderates (whatever that means) how can you propose this shit with a straight face? But hey, it will mean more debt slavery for our kids and still more killing.
Never fear, the very worst is yet to come.
Assume Maliki’s government in Iraq is real struggling and the Iranians get him to ask for formal military assistance. The Iranians can then send their powerful army to occupy the southern oilfields and basically set-up Arabistan in the South. This gives total control of Iranian and Iraqi oil to Tehran and if they can get an invite to go in, it wouldn’t even be something the UN could scream about very much.
And what the hell would we do then? Appeal to our friends the Saudis, go back in and kill yet more people, spend more money we don’t have?
Yep, all things considered after all the murder and money, all the shattered lives and fatherless children, all the chaos, this is what our elite leaders have delivered.
Remind me again why we need these murderous cunts?
I seem to have run into some flak recently, so I thought I would test some of the ideas against the historical record. The Rand corporation published “How Terrorist Groups End-Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida” by Seth G. Jones, Martin C. Libicki.
They examined 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006. They found that they ended for two major reasons:
1. members decided to adopt non-violent tactics and join the political process (43 percent of the time), or
2. local police and intelligence agencies arrested or killed key members of the group (40 percent).
Military force has rarely been the primary reason how terrorist groups have ended (10 percent), and few groups have ever achieved victory (7 percent).
In testimony to congress they noted “When a terrorist group becomes involved in an insurgency, it does not end easily. Nearly 50 percent of the time, groups ended by negotiating a settlement with the government; 25 percent of the time, they achieved victory; and 19 percent of the time, military forces defeated them.
So history suggests that the military option has less than a 1 in 5 chance of success, whereas getting them to join the political process or arresting/killing key members of the group as I suggest elsewhere, has a better than 4 in 5 chance of success.
It maybe worth repeating, I don’t support Hamas murder anymore than Israeli murder. I just see beyond the “Jews good, Muslims bad” meme. The extremists (and their apologists) on both sides are just murderers or accessories.
This is a post I have been thinking of for a while. Endivio’s comments on another post recently brought it back to mind.
Two countries I have visited fairly recently are Poland and Turkey. The first is a secular majority Catholic state, the second a secular* majority Muslim state.
So in what way do they differ? Obviously they have different histories and cultures driven by centuries but what really struck me is food. Now, at least in Western Turkey (I don’t know about the sticks) getting a bit of booze is easy and the same can of course be said for Poland. But meat is different. Meat in Poland is almost synonymous with pig. You don’t get much pig in Turkey. Indeed I saw one restaurant that served pig in Istanbul (it was a Spanish gaff). Just one. Once when picked up from Krakow Airport we had to dodge a deer on the road. I asked if they ate ‘em. “Er… not really” came the reply. When you consider in dear old Blighty venison is considered a king of meats this seemed odd. The place was apparently wick with dear but did you see it on a menu? Is there any particularly compelling reason meat in Turkey almost invariably means lamb? It is culture and tradition and cooking what your mam made. Women walk the streets of Istanbul in mini-skirts** sitting outside cafes and bars and drinking Efes Beer***. So hijab is out the window for many (by no means all) Turkish women as does going out for a pint but pig is off the menu.
Whereas in Poland if there ain’t pig involved it ain’t dinner. I have to say Polish beer is better than Turkish but Czech beer is most excellent. It is an odd thing. The persistence in culture of food. It seems to last longer than anything I can think of.
And it exists within countries. I am I think peculiar in living in the same house from birth to going to university – basically from 0-19. At Nottingham University I met southerners. They would talk about Christmas dinner with bread sauce. Never heard of it but everyone from south of the Watford Gap swore by it. I’m still not entirely clear what it is. Food is culture and a Turk might relax with a beer with her hair out but offer her a ham sandwich and you’ll get a funny look. Offer a Pole some venison and ditto. Offer me bread sauce and much the same. Food is something we tend to stick with perhaps more than any other religious or cultural aspect of life. As a Brit who lives with a staggering diversity of food (thank you Empire!) I find this odd. Perhaps foreign folk find our curry habit odd. Well, apart from South Asians obviously.
If I might push the boat out food defines us more than almost anything. My wife and I have a lot of cook books and a lot of those (most) name a country or area on the front and spine. You don’t get that with novels.
OK, I’m off to write as shopping list**** for we are having Mexican tonight.
*Though Mr Erdogan seems to doing his level best to fuck this up.
**Should I even mention what they wear in the “Russian Quarter” – if you have seen movies from the ’80s you’ll know. And it is all priced in Turkish lira and rouble.
***Remarkably similar to US mass-made lager. Yes I know there is good American beer but mainly you get stuff like Coors and I used to drink that but now I am older Budweiser. Terrible joke, sorry.
****Am I th only one who thinks of that as a Chopin Liszt? That’s an even worse joke.