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War

Barque to the Future…

This is USS Zumwalt…

Just launched at a cost of umpty billions. Now I know aeroplanes and bugger all about ships but does that not look rather similar to a US Civil War ironclad to you? Like this…

The Zumwalt class is designed to have the radar sig of a fishing smack. I guess you might get much the same from the CSS Albermarle not, obviously, that it was an issue at the time. It is possible (and the USN has been ickling on about railguns for some time and a planning sea trials in 2016 which is when the Zumwalt is due to enter service. So clearly looks may deceive and it might look the same but be bigger on the inside so to speak.)

So… It’s kinda odd but for completely different reasons the naval architects have gone back to the future. Either that or the Confederacy had some unknown naval genius beavering away and designing a low radar-return ship almost a century before radar.

But, and this is a biggy for me. Now it might sound nit-picking but how the heck is that a destroyer? It displaces 15,000 tons, it is 610ft long. That is a cruiser at least. Surely. Is this some bizarre ruse to get the funding past Congress? Because the Zumwalt class is essentially designed as a 1-1 replacement for the Iowa class battleships.

That is a broadside from an Iowa class (Actually BB61 USS Iowa). Those are 16″ guns. Who needs railguns when you can hurl a shell the mass of a VW for a couple of dozen miles. I’d be much more impressed by railguns on the Zumwalt if it was nuclear powered and therefore had practically unlimited electricity. Hell’s teeth I’d be going for a fully nuclear navy! No need for oilers and fill ‘er up every 25 years! You’d buy a car that did that. Especially if it had a railgun. It has to be noted though that we won the Cold War partly (thank you Ronnie!) with recommissioned Iowa class battleships and the off-key caterwauling of skanty-clad songstresses. I dunno which scared the Kremlin most. But they are very big guns indeed and Cher is wearing very little indeed. That was the ’80s and that is how we won. Hard and soft pressure. Ronnie and MTV – an unstoppable alliance.

I mean can you imagine how dull communism must have been?

Yeah, and inevitably here’s the video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G4O5AMSevc

Yeah, I liked the ’80s. We seemed to be going somewhere and that dear reader is a guilty pleasure from the era. But that’s one hell of a ship whatever you think of Cher.

And if we had another Ronnie then Vlad would be hiding under a table in the Kremlin with stained trews. And if we could take out Comrade Kim and the Ayatollahs and dear old Bob and… I can dream. But that video speaks to me of serious belief in our moral, social, military and economic might. We believed it then. That is why I liked the ’80s.

PS. The Iowa class were designed to be Panamax. They had 18″ wiggle room so never again complain about parking in TESCO.

PPS. This has been edited by moi. This fecking Toshiba is at the very end of the tether.

North of the DMZ and beyond the pale.

There has been some crazy news out of everyone’s favourite totalitarian heckhole recently.

First I heard this nugget…

Doctor Who, Top Gear and Teletubbies have apparently passed the suitability test to be shown on North Korea’s tightly-controlled state TV.

After months of negotiation with the BBC, the three shows have been deemed worthy of consideration for broadcasting in the totalitarian state.

The country’s state broadcaster, Korean Central Television, is only on air for six-and-a-half hours every day.

Odd choices. Skipping over the tubbies the sight of that Bellendius Maximus Clarkson whizzing around in a Bugatti is almost torture to the poor buggers up there who feel lucky to get a puncture repair kit for their bike. And the Doctor is a rather anti-authority figure which probably wouldn’t fit with the rest of KCT’s output… Although I guesss the Cybermen might go down well with the Kimocracy.

At least a third of the output is spent praising the government of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, while another third extols workers to toil harder for the good of the country.

And I thought endless repeats of “Last of the Summer Wine” was soul-crushing.

But wait…

The weekly television highlight is ‘It’s So Funny’, a long-running comedy show in which two uniformed soldiers perform slapstick sketches in between propaganda lectures about the greatness of North Korea.

Now that’s what I call entertainment! That’s better than Cannon & Ball that is and they were fucking terrible beyond my comprehension. Here’s a modest proposal. We parachute Piers Morgan into the Pyongyang. He’s without a berth and it is a win-win if you ask me. I feel so sorry for the North Koreans.

This speaks volumes…

Likewise, there is no fundamental difference between the way in which North and South Koreans look [The entire peninsula is very ethnically homogeneous in the World and this is an ancient civilization - Nick]. Having said that, however, 60-plus years is not a short amount of time, and the two Koreas did live through two very different worlds. South Koreans now live in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, North Koreans one of the poorest. In particular, the crushing famine that North Korea suffered in the mid-1990s has left a visible impact on North Korean people’s physique. While the average height of adult South Korean men is 171.5 cm (~5′ 7.5″), the average height of adult North Korean men is 165.4 cm (~5′ 5″). Because North Korean youths have become so malnourished, North Korea had to lower the minimum height requirement for its soldiers from 140 cm (~4′ 7″) to 137 cm (~4′ 6″) in 2010. (In contrast, South Korea recently had to extend the maximum height requirement from 196 cm (~6′ 5″) to 204 cm (~6′ 8″) for its conscripts.)

And that is not unrelated to the TV on my wall (Samsung) and the fact I have never bought a single item from North of the DMZ. I mean if they can’t get enough food they ain’t going to break the mould in tech are they? (More on that later). But this isn’t even the end-point of socialism as we understand it and as the socialist Eric Blair understood it. This is not Sweden with toothsome murder mysteries and beer you need a mortgage for. This is Hell run by an insane Satan. This is the prison state as envisaged by Vasily Grossman as the end of Stalinism.

But they have drones you know. Things that sound like they were built in a shed. I have spoken to hobbyists who can do better. At least it ain’t the grotesquely over-budget, under-performing and over-time F-35. I mean that camera… I have a better camera and I’m not on a defence budget here.

But before we simply regard the Kimocracy as risible buffoons it would be be wise to consider this. And also to consider that it is entirely possible to laugh and be revolted at the same time. They are profoundly risible but also profoundly evil. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Was it worth it?

We go to war for reasons. For resources, for land, for the hell of it. Sometimes for the very survival of civilization.

The last is the only one I fully back. Now Saddam was vile bastard beyond all possible redemption. Am I sad that he isn’t walking this goodly Earth? No. But…

Iraq (twinned with Iran and Irate) is planning to allow 8 year old girls to get married and also to abolish marital rape.

Nigh on 5000 US personnel have died* for the great task of enabling the freedom of preverts in Iraq to shag girls who haven’t had their first menstrual period. Eight year old girls want to play with dollies** and Lego and stuff. In my country (and the US and all the others) if you have sex with an eight year old girl you go to jail. You get put in the Sir Jimmy Saville Memorial Wing for a very long time. Rightly so.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a pacifist. If my land was under threat you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming from the seat of a Typhoon fighter. And, well everywhere I go I visit war memorials. I know my family members have killed and died so basically I can mooch around Europe without a rifle and bayonet. Now that was an appalling cost but it achieved something worthwhile. The legalisation of rape and kiddie-fiddling is not such a cause. It is not one for me or any right thinking person to get their boots on for.

And what right-minded person wants to have sex with a girl that age anyway? Utter sick bastards. They require treatment. I prescribe two spoons and a rusty farming implement. I mean if you don’t and can’t regard the man or woman you have sex with as an equal with absolute agency then what is the point?

We have enabled utter barbarism at the cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives either wiped out or maimed.

Or to misquote from the end speech at the end of the movie “300″, “We haven’t – at enormous financial, material and human cost singularly failed to ‘rescue a World from mysticism and tyranny’”.

*And a load of Brits and others and God knows how many wounded. And I have recently been watching Prince Harry taking a team of wounded soldiers across the Antarctic. Good on the fella but the wounds are tragic. On folks so young. It is heartbreaking.

**There is a very specific reason I mention this. Aisha was 8 when married to the middle-aged Muhammed.

Spiegel: Pakistani Intelligence Operative and CIA Informant on the Drone Attacks

Here’s an interview with a Pakistani intelligence guy, published last week.  I certainly don’t vouch for either his credentials or his statements, but if true it’s an interesting piece in light of the situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistani CIA Informant: ‘Drone Attacks Are the Right Thing to Do’

An Interview By Hasnain Kazim

 

The article you are reading originally appeared in German in issue 49/2013 (December 2nd, 2013) of DER SPIEGEL.

Photo Gallery: Drone Strikes in Pakistan's Tribal Regions

A Pakistani who works as an operative for the CIA spoke to SPIEGEL about his motives for helping the Americans, the civilian casualties of drone attacks and his fear of the Taliban.

Intelligence operative Mohammed Hassan (*) … works for the CIA.

He provides data and information for the Americans’ drone missions in the Pakistani tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan. He lives there and is of Pashtun ethnicity. He says that he has decided to talk because if he didn’t, he would drive himself crazy, and because the whole world is critical of the drone attacks — and in his perception, this makes the world critical of his actions, too. “However, I feel that this weapon is the right tool in the fight against extremists,” he says.

He is opposed to talks with the Taliban, which the Pakistani government supports.  [My boldface. --J.]  “What can you talk about with these kinds of people? About their share of power?” According to Hassan, the Taliban want an Islamic state according to their convictions, one with no roads, no schools, no music, no art and no enjoyment of life. “Nothing but pray, pray, pray. It has nothing to do with modern Islam.” He fears that chaos will ensue if the Americans end their drone missions in Pakistan, because it will descend into a dog-eat-dog struggle for power.

But he is also plagued by the fear of being discovered and murdered by the Taliban. He’s asked us not to print his real name or his real profession, or even identify the part of the tribal regions where he lives. He says that he can only speak openly under these conditions. He has brought along photos of meetings with Taliban commanders, as well as documents that he says serve as proof of his access to important information.

 

SPIEGEL: You don’t exactly look like a US spy.
Hassan: What did you expect? We Pashtuns look like Pashtuns. Just because I have a beard and dress the way we tribal people happen to dress doesn’t mean that we’re Taliban. There are also reasonable people among us.

SPIEGEL: You pass on information to the American intelligence agency, the CIA, which it uses to kill your countrymen with drones. You call that reasonable?

Hassan: We are at war, and I am part of this war. When does a war make sense? To be honest, I think the US drone missions are the right thing to do. Believe me, no weapon is more effective in fighting extremists. Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Taliban for many years, was killed on Nov. 1. Many other more or less high-ranking extremists were killed before that. From a military standpoint, it’s a success for the United States. And I contribute to that success.

SPIEGEL: The Pakistani government and the army complain that the US attacks are a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

Hassan: What sovereignty? The nation of Pakistan has had no control over the tribal regions for decades. The military has a few barracks there. They are well-guarded fortresses, and the soldiers hardly dare to step outside. Pakistani law doesn’t apply in the tribal regions, neither the constitution nor any other law. Tribal rules are all that counts. The Taliban claim that they are very effective. But I think they’re more primitive than anything else.

[ . . . ]  Continue reading quite a bit more at Der Spiegel on-line.

 

Ottawa Citizen: The Afghan War was not a Debacle. Full stop.

Excerpts from a fascinating Ottawa Citizen piece which paints a picture of Afghanistan today that we won’t get from The New York Times nor (I imagine) the BBC. 

The Afghan war was not a debacle. Full stop.

By Terry Glavin, Ottawa Citizen December 6, 2013

 

The 2013 school year in Afghanistan started with more than eight million children enrolled in classes, including 2.6 million girls. During the Taliban time, fewer than a million children were in school, almost none of them girls.

The 2013 school year in Afghanistan started with more than eight million children enrolled in classes, including 2.6 million girls. During the Taliban time, fewer than a million children were in school, almost none of them girls.
Photograph by: FARSHAD USYAN , AFP/Getty Images

The very instant that the good guys won, gunfire erupted in a deafening roar of all over Kabul in a staccato chorus of handguns, rifles and AK47s being emptied into the heavens. Tens of thousands of joyous people thronged the streets. It was this past Sept. 11, a Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of 9/11. The Afghan National Soccer team, in Kathmandu, had just clinched the South Asia cup in a 2-1 victory over India. The celebration isn’t quite over even now.

Neither the Sept. 11 win nor the delirious outpourings that followed were wholly unexpected. Even though its players had been plucked only in July from the country’s just-established premier league, the Afghan team was blessed with outstanding and determined talent. On Aug. 20 in Kabul, in its first encounter with Pakistan on a soccer field in 37 years, Afghanistan triumphed 3-0. More than 12 million of Afghanistan’s 32 million people watched the match on television that day. The country went a little bit crazy.

. . .

The sweet ironies involved are not lost on the Afghan people.

During the Taliban time, kite-flying was banned, musical instruments were forbidden and even card games were outlawed. Soccer was occasionally tolerated, but only in order to bookend the main-attraction stadium halftime show of executions and handchopping mutilations. Those days were so, so over.

There are deeper ironies.

Afghanistan is supposed to be an incorrigibly backward Central Asian backwater and burial ground for the armies of empires. And yet you can draw a line from the Syrian seaport of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast all the way to India’s Kashmiri frontier, only a stone’s throw from the headwaters of the Ganges, and Kabul is easily the happiest place along the way.

There are sorrowful ironies.

Damascus is now merely the Baathist stronghold in a failed-state open air mortuary consisting of scattered warlord principalities and heavily-armed al-Qaida emirates. More than six million Syrians are homeless, at least 120,000 are dead, and all that remains of Syria is a failed-state testament to the catastrophe of Barack Obama’s doctrine of abstention and capitulation. Baghdad, meanwhile, is a nightmare terrain of tit-for-tat suicide-bomb campaigns waged by vampire cults embedded on both sides of the Iraqi divide in the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam.

. . .

Then there are ironies of the funhouse-mirror kind.

. . .

A couple of doozies that have already become quite faddish warrant some attention.

One is the claim that by some organic and perennially obscene aspect of the civilian-military relationship, Canadians were more or less tricked into sending soldiers to Afghanistan by the Canadian Forces’ brass. Another is a kind of theorem to the effect that Afghanistan is actually worse than it was back in the day, and this is in no small part the fault of the Canadian Forces — and oh, by the way, “we lost the war.”    [ . . . ]

 

Further down, the pronouncements of various pundits come in for a bit of demolition.

It’s encouraging to know that not everybody thinks that everybody in the Coalition is a cohort of the Forces of Darkness.  At least, Canada isn’t.

This is what happens…

… when you invade Afghanistan (for the umpteenth time) and lose about 3,400 coalition dead and God knows how many maimed or traumatised beyond my comprehension or probably yours too. War has a cost and that cost requires a pay-off or it is worse than meaningless. It is obscene. And I’m not even including the Afghans killed in this bizarre attempt to impose the Great God of Democracy within an Islamic Republic (which is how Afghanistan styles it self under the Khazi of Kabul). Leaving aside the bitter irony that the secular US led invasion following Islamist attacks led to to the formation of an Islamic Republic. (I’m saying nothing about Iraq here which is also now styled as an Islamic Republic.)

Anyway, this is what happens…

Afghan government officials have proposed reintroducing public stoning as a punishment for adultery, Human Rights Watch said, even though the practice has been denounced both inside and outside the country as one of the most repugnant symbols of the Taliban regime.
The sentence for married adulterers, along with flogging for unmarried offenders, appears in a draft revision of the country’s penal code being managed by the ministry of justice.
There are several references to stoning in a translated section of the draft seen by the Guardian, including detailed notes on judicial requirements for handing down the sentence. “Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning [to death],” article 21 states. The draft goes on to specify that the stoning should be public, in article 23.

Anyone surprised? I’m not. It probably won’t make it into law but the fact this ancient evil is even being discussed seriously is dreadful.

What a terrible waste of blood and treasure. And how foreseeable.

How many Afghan wars has Britain been in now?

Shieldmaidens.

From wikipedia

When Leif Ericson’s pregnant half-sister Freydís Eiríksdóttir was in Vinland, she is reported to have taken up a sword, and, bare-breasted, scared away the attacking Native Americans. The fight is recounted in the Greenland saga, though Freydís is not explicitly referred to as a shieldmaiden in the text.

Jebus wept! A pregnant half-naked Viking woman charging you with a sword. I’d run away. And do it screaming like a 1D fan. That one must have been emotional. And yeah I’d well call her a shieldmaiden.

I am no man.

The idea that women can’t or don’t fight is bizarre. Anyone who feels that way ought to have met some of my ex-girlfriends or Freydis with her tits out and a sword in hand. No, my domestics never got quite that dramatic. We had knives or hammers at extremis but that was all.

But by buggery, charging bare-breasted with a sword. Respect!

That is fucking top quality. It really is.

I have done questionable things. What I haven’t done is ran like a total mentalist with my 34Ds out whilst wielding a sword.

I kinda wish I had.

Remembrance

I was born in 1973, in Newcastle. There are worse places to be from. Much worse. Mogadishu springs to mind. We Geordies perfected locomotion. They perfected female genital mutilation. I rest my case.

Anyhow, this morning, guess where I was? Of course I was at the war memorial in my little town on the outskirts of Manchester.

I can’t stand the vicar for she is a vile moo (as a Quaker Warden I’m expected to be ecumenical and do some outreach and stuff) but the Rev Margaret is a right witch but like whatever… She conducted a solemn and dignified service today. A soldier played the bugle. There were cops there like Barney Rubble tends to break out in middle-class towns in Cheshire on Remembrance Day? I guess coppers died in the Blitz so fair enough if they were there for that.

This is our war memorial…

null

And yes, I wore my poppy. Not with pride but with humility. The first war I recall was the Falklands. That memorial was built in 1920. There is no person alive who fought that but we remember them. Of course we do.

I recall the first British serviceman to die in the Falklands. He was a Harrier pilot and called Nicholas – which is of course partially why I recall it. I don’t think he was shot down. I think he crashed in bad weather.

I remember. I remember lots of things.

And I remember today. Every year. Of course I do!

5.56mm abortions

Unless you have a very good reason it is wrong to shoot someone but deliberately targeting women and shooting them in the uterus to kill their unborn child is… Well, I’ve lived 40 years and seen and heard of some vile things in my time but this is atrocious. Particularly because shooting heavily pregnant women offers no conceivable military advantage. Apparently the scrotes doing this are betting cigarettes on it. I saw this on the BBC Morning News and was appalled. I knew bad things were going on in Syria but I could live to be a thousand years old and such a caper would not occur to me. For ciggies I go to the shop and exchange money for them – like normal folk.

Don’t believe me? What about this guy?. He’s a surgeon who did pro-bono work in Syria which included C-sections to remove dead babies from the wombs of women who had been heavily pregnant and they did target heavily pregnant women because they’re like more obvious through a sniper scope. I lack the technical skills to do that but I also lack the moral skills not to go off my rocker doing that.

Evil, true, pure Sauronic evil, exists. And if Dr Nott’s testimony has any reality (and I suspect it does) this is evil.

The World War III Project

I’m sure you’ll want to make a small donation. :)

…courtesy of Second City, which never found a topic they couldn’t skewer. H/T to Gates of Vienna, where Baron Bodissey writes,

[T]his is too true to be funny. But still, it’s funny.

It’s like fighting weapons of meaningless destruction with wet celery.

Apparently John Kerry is laying down the law on Syria… It’s a bit like being threatened with a dead haddock. It’s Clintonism again. He was talking about targeted missile strikes against the Assad regime on the BBC News today. That’s like throwing stones at a quarry. We have no interest in Syria and neither does the USA but those Tomahawks are such lovely toys! And aginst what and who gains anyway? call me cynical but the Assad regime is vile and the rebels are a mixed bag of assorted fruits. God knows whose side we ought to be on and on that basis We ought to stay out. Now if it’s the case of giving neighbouring states such as Lebanon and Turkey a bit of a hand with the refugees.

I suspect I’m just Middle East fatigued. I’ve forty fucking years of it. It’s like fucking Groundhog Day tetrated. Oh, and the Russians and Chinese are involved. It’s a potential cluster-fuck of Biblical proportions.

I mean for buggering sake I heard recently I heard Syrians were fleeing to Iraqi Kurdistan to escape being gassed. Am I the only sod who sees the bitter irony in that?

Let’s try being Switzerland for a bit, eh?

There are four articles sitting cheek by jowl on the Mail website today, three swivel eyed nonsense, and one, by Peter Hitchens, relatively sane.

The first is a piece of political argy bargy  and in fighting amongst the petulant children who seek to rule us.

The second is complete crap from former Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind.  The Falklands are defended Mal, as you well know, and so do the Argies. Besides they don’t have the money or the ordinance to mount another invasion.

But the third, by Andrew Roberts, really takes the Hard Tack. Woe is us! We are no longer the World’s policeman anymore. We have lost the moral high ground… da yadda da yadda da yadda. As one commenter succinctly said… Blow it out your arse Andrew!

Why the fuck should we be the World’s policeman? Why should we expend blood and treasure in futile gestures? What have we gained financially, morally or any other LY with our adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya?… the list goes on.

We had the world’s largest ever Empire once. That was practically gone even before I was born. We apparently acquired it in a fit of absent mindedness,  and gave it back, in the main, with good grace. Why do our idiot politicians keep pretending that we are a World Power? Oh we keep doing the sharp end stuff alongside our so called special relationship buddies, the USA, while the French, Germans and Italians do the catering or stay away altogether. But as Hitchens says, there is no special relationship, it is a joke, at least on the other side of the Atlantic.

Time we put our house in order. Time we looked to ourselves and our own welfare, time to leave the EU and make those brain-dead assholes in Westminster earn their pay and govern for us and by us, and not as a front for the United States of Europe delusionary project, which is now making 80% of our Laws. Time to finally grow up.

Napolean Blairnoparte

He’ll fight anyone for a quid.

Tony Blair has called on the west to stop “wringing our hands” as he endorsed intervention against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and warned governments against ostracising the military dictatorship in Egypt.

Shouldn’t The Blairster be gardening or enjoying a round of golf with Jacklin Straw or something and keeping the eff out.

In his first intervention since the chemical weapons attack last week, the former prime minister said the west should not be neutral in protecting Syrians from the Assad regime and “affiliates of al-Qaida” seeking to exploit the instability.

Blair made his remarks in a Times article in which he said the west should acknowledge the threats in Syria and Egypt. 

Why? So Blair can bestride the World like a colostomy bag? Again.

He wrote: “Western policy is at a crossroads: commentary or action; shaping events or reacting to them. After the long and painful campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand every impulse to stay clear of the turmoil, to watch but not to intervene, to ratchet up language but not to engage in the hard, even harsh business of changing reality on the ground. But we have collectively to understand the consequences of wringing our hands instead of putting them to work.”

He is utterly incorrigible. The last time Tony put “hands to work” thousands died and many more were maimed and the current result is the creation of two more Islamic Republics and absolute chaos and ongoing slaughter. I mean if you’d been instrumental in two horrendous car crashes in short order you need a face of brass to apply to subsequently apply for a job as a taxi driver in the same manor? The tonemeister though doesn’t have a face of brass. He has one of diamond.

“I hear people talking as if there was nothing we could do: the Syrian defence systems are too powerful, the issues too complex and, in any event, why take sides since they’re all as bad as each other?” he wrote. “It is time we took a side: the side of the people who want what we want; who see our societies for all their faults as something to admire; who know that they should not be faced with a choice between tyranny and theocracy.”

Unfortunately, that would appear to be the non-choice. If His High Tonyness can actually explain precisely what the difference between theocracy and tyranny is then maybe doing something might be in order but it seems to me (this is a general point) that if you are going to be actively involved in a war you need to choose a side otherwise you are going in against everyone: Assad, the military, Sunni, Shia, whatever. We did that in Iraq and that worked out terrific did it not? Look, it might be unpalatable  but if two sides  are “as bad as each other” then surely the only sensible option is to stay out of it. Well, militarily at least. Perhaps helping out Turkey, Jordan and Iraq* with the huge numbers of refugees but Blair getting his missile aimin’ finger ready by proxy is not the way. That way madness lies. We’d have to ally with some nasty pieces of work either way or, as Blair seems to imply make ourselves the cheese and the pickle sandwiched between one form of tyranny and another. You can’t force people to be “free” at gun-point, Mr Blair. Heaven knows mind (and I hope St. Peter is taking notes) he tried both here and abroad. Dismally.

Blair, who was close to the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, also warns it would be a grave strategic error to ostracise the government that has overthrown former president Mohammed Morsi.

Hold on! I thought Blair wanted an er… third way between Islamist nutjobbery and Nationalistic/Militaristic tyranny for Syria? So why is Egypt different? Also isn’t Blair one of those true Beliebers in the idea that the Great God Democracy is the be all and end-all of freedom and all the flowers coming-up pretty and every day being the first day of spring and all that jazz? Call me an old git and all but democracy only works on a substrate of the rule of law and general decency within a society. Hosni Mubarak was and is not a decent man. But he was mates with The Tonemeister so that’s OK for his old army pals to toss aside the democracy Blair so idolizes. I mean Morsi and his minions ( let us not forget that the Muslim Brotherhood is very much the “intellectual” foundation of Al Queda and all the rest of Sonny (if not precisely Cher) Islamic nutjobbery). Blair here is guilty of the sort of Realpolitik that would have had Bismarck blushing. Bismarck at least could be cunning about it. Blair is blatent in a way that could take the breath of a sperm whale surfacing after a long squid-hunt.

He wrote: “You can rightly criticise actions or overreactions of the new military government but it is quite hard to criticise the intervention that brought it into being … We should support the new government in stabilising the country, urge everyone, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to get off the streets, and let a proper and short process to an election be put in place with independent observers.”

“Stabilising the country”! I recently spoke to Paul Marks on the subject of Egypt. I said basically I’d always wanted to go and see the old stuff there. He reckoned all Hell would reign for decades (cheers Paul!) and moreover I reluctantly had to agree. That’s how stable Egypt is. A place within easy flying time with cool things to see like pyramids and coral reefs and a trip down the Nile on a flash boat with an intriguing murder solved by a dapper Belgian… But nah… Ain’t going to happen is it? The only place in the Near or Middle East I can even conceive of going in any realistic time-scale is Israel. Well, there’s lots to see and do there I guess. I guess the Gulf States are OK (ish) but if I’m expected to pay top dollar for Sharia Disneyland in the UAE then they can bugger off. Even Turkey is looking dicey unless they kick Erdogan into the long grass soonish. And I really liked Turkey when I was there a couple of years back. It’s a tragedy I tells ya! A whole slew of countries and hundreds of millions of people caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of militant nationalism (or Arab socialism or whatever the feck they call it these days) and Islamic craziness.

An aside. In a sense, a very poor sense, I didn’t get much of a view, I have been to Egypt and Israel already. But in utereo doesn’t really count! I mean the view isn’t there is it? I was born in 1973 (my parents visited both countries on their way back from a teaching stint in Zambia in the year of the Yom Kippur War. It was a few weeks before the shi’ite hit the turbofan but I’m not chancing it again!  The minute my parents hit Egyptian airspace they got a MiG escort and their hotel had AAA on the roof. To enter Israel from Egypt they had to dog-leg via Cyprus. For fuck’s sake! That’s like me going to France via Denmark. Anyhow I was safely delivered in Newcastle on the 5th of September 1973. The Yom Kippur War kicked-off on the 6th of October. I reckon I’m down one already on squeaking through all manner of goat-fuckery, chaos and slaughter erupting for no apparent reason. Well, for obvious reasons. Generalissimos who take their style tips from Mussolini or deranged religious fanatics who think a couple holding hands in the street is a sin but are OK with firing rockets at a primary school.

Blair acknowledged that people were acting cautiously after the Iraqi intervention. He wrote: “In this struggle, we should not be neutral. From the threat of the Iranian regime to the pulverising of Syria to the pains of the Egyptian revolution, from Libya to Tunisia, in Africa, central Asia and the far east, wherever this extremism is destroying the lives of innocent people, we should be at their side and on it.

Two small points: the first is Blair is spreading his net astonishingly geographically wide.

I should say though first, bolded, sentence was fucking priceless but I won’t because the rest is the Holy Grail wrapped in the Shroud of Turin and encased in the Ark of the Covenant alongside the Spear of Destiny. It is verging on the unfiskable. Who’s side exactly Tony? if we are not to be neutral? Really, if this is a clash between Islamists and seamingly “pro-western”* militaristic nationalists then how do we honestly take sides. Who’s side are we on? I suspect Blair thinks (at some level – like a daddy long legs banging at the window again and again) that everyone wants the sane and rational World he believes he represents and that reasonableness can be imposed because he believes this is innate to humanity and he’s a “humanitarian kinda guy” and everyone would be like him if they only had the chance which follows in the wake of a great, nay Churchillian*, unloading of JDAMs and 20 mike mike down-range… Well this is Bolockio the Clown on more layers than the Burj Khalifa. It is the myth that everyone  wants good and civilized things – that that is their state of nature. Well, many do. Many want the opposite for all sorts of reasons. And of course we all disagree on what is “good”. I am not Jewish, Muslim, Vegetarian or whatever but I can’t stand pork (bacon and ham and stuff I’m fine with) so that is where I stand on that. Now if anyone reading this is thinking, “Hey, but I had a lovely bit of pork recently!” then fine. Cool. Similarly I don’t eat prawns (the bugs of the seas). That is just Nick. But I don’t want those who violate my  dietary rules to be stoned or hung or whatever. In a counter-intuitive sense (perhaps) the greatest statement of individuality is not to care about what other people like because the genuinely natural corollary of that is that they can’t tell you what you want. Or rather what you should want.

The Blairite agenda here is precisely the idea of deciding not just what is good for people but an imposition of will and  this based upon a very deep assumption that fundamentally everyone is like him deep down and therefore wants what he wants. Or should do. It’s an old, old story. Rouseau believed in “forcing people to be ‘free’”. Of course this was for whatever value of “free” Rouseau believed in. Or Blair. Or Khomeini, or Monbiot, or whoever. You just cannot force people to be free. To be fair to Rouseau I think he knew he was taking ze piss. I don’t think that about Blair. He believes. That his beliefs wander like a Markov process between ill-starred paternalism and wishful-thinking is no matter. It’s the genius delusion. It goes like this. If he believes he is a genius (and he does – in the original sense) then he must be right however stupid, barking-mad, self contradictory (getting involved in a civil-war without taking sides – very “third way”), unpopular, deranged, irrelevant or solipsistic the actual scheme is. Or, let’s sum-up the last 1896 words shall we?  Blair believes with a clinched and absolute certainty that he is right and that he is good and that all it would take for everything to be OK and fair and democratic and decent and nice and the Lion would safely kip with the lamb and the planet would look like a ton of Duplo in a play-pen and all that is for him to impose that by force. He is utterly deluded. Freedom, decency, everything that matters comes from down-below.  Sorry Tony but it’s me sticking a 50p piece in a pot for “Help for Heroes” and not you putting them in the way of harm in the first place in the name of some deranged dream of democracy as a panacea (when you deem it convenient, natch) in some shit-hole (and Afghanistan is a spherical crapulation beyond measure – well, maybe Somalia pips it) where we don’t have any palpable interest.

I am astonished that in this day and age, years since he left power Blair still has the capacity to astonish with his shark-jumps. It is stunning. They broke the mould when they made Blair.

At least I hope so.

 

 

* Or should that be Chinchillian? I dunno. the chinchilla is a cute critter and Blair is a deranged fantasist.

To conjure a dark illusion

“In a society that believes in nothing, fear becomes the only agenda. Whilst the 20th century was dominated by a conflict between a free-market Right and a socialist Left, even though both of those outlooks had their limitations and their problems, at least they believed in something, whereas what we are seeing now is a society that believes in nothing. And a society that believes in nothing is particularly frightened by people who believe in anything, and, therefore, we label those people as fundamentalists or fanatics, and they have much greater purchase in terms of the fear that they instill in society than they truly deserve. But that’s a measure of how much we have become isolated and atomised rather than of their inherent strength.”

Dr Bill Durodié is an Associate Fellow of the International Security Programme (ISP) for Chatham House

The above quote is a brief excerpt from Adam Curtis‘ 2004 classic documentary The Power of Nightmares on how black propaganda can create a fantasy of self-delusion which ultimately seduces the body-politic of its producer. This is a compelling interpretation of the history of the creation of Al Qaeda as a phantom enemy to fill the gap caused by the fall of the Soviet Union.

The US Networks have refused to show it, so while it may be familiar to our UK readers, it has probably not received the audience it deserves outside of the UK.

The Power of Nightmares

The Power of Nightmares – The Rise of the Politics of Fear

Regardless of whether you believe his interpretation is correct, it is an interesting analysis of the road to Baghdad.

To prevent Cats from accusations of copyright infringement, I will not post links, but I watched all three episodes this afternoon courtesy of Google.

Trifecta: Obama’s “Foreign Policy” of Confusion, Weakness

Bill Whittle, Scott Ott, Steve Green at PJTV:

Al Qaeda Is On The Run? Obama’s Foreign Policy Projects Confusion and Weakness

August 6, 2013 — Part 1 of 3, per PJTV

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