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War

The mistake of John Jay – believing that the governement could make people virtuous.

The American Founding Father John Jay was fond of reading Plato in his youth (often not a good sign), and even named one of his slaves Plato (I am not attacking Mr Jay over slavery – I know he did more than anyone else to end slavery in New York State, even losing an election over it).

It is not likely that John Jay was fond of the economic collectivism of Plato (after all John Jay was the man famous for making “those who own the land should govern it” his maxim – although it was actually G. Morris who supported a strictly limited franchise, as long you owned a little land, say your own home, you should have the vote according to Jay), so what was he getting from Plato?

Not the idea of the importance of virtue – that was a commonplace of republican (small “r”) thought, that only a moral people could remain free (that a people addicted to vice and waste would either not notice government getting more powerful – or would actively welcome a despotic government, if it promised them lots of benefits “bread and games”).

Nor was John Jay some sort of “Puritan” in the Hollywood sense – he did not believe that such things as drink and dancing should be banned, he liked a drink and he employed tutors to teach his children to dance (and the only reason he did not go to the theatre was that he believed there was so much suffering and humiliation in real life that he did not want to see it on the stage as well). Again “virtue” was a much broader concept than the Hollywood mockery of po faced Puritans.

What Plato would have given John Jay is that idea that people can (and should) be made virtuous by THE STATE.

We today are used to prisons and government schools (especially in New York) being dens of vice – and that is not funny (rape and so on should not be a matter for nudge-nudge, wink-wink jokes). Places where vast amounts of taxpayers money are spent – and people come out vastly worse than they went in. Indeed the only thing that government schools in America appear to be good at teaching people is that government should control everything and that business (especially “big business”) is evil (needing to be controlled by noble government), and the churches are evil too, and…… (well any alternative to the state in any area of life) is evil – how odd that government schools should teach that government should control everything (well actually not odd at all).

However, dens of vice was not the Platonic vision (although what American schools and colleges actually teach would have pleased Plato).

In the vision of John Jay the government prisons he established (to replace the old policy of either hanging or flogging criminals) were meant to “reform” criminals.

And the government school system he longed for (it was not really established till after his time) would take children and turn them into virtuous citizens of the new republic .

What if someone from the state had come to Mr Jay’s farm (the house he had built shows his reputation as an aristocrat is false – it is a rather ordinary house with a front pouch where someone can sit on a rocking chair and chat to passers by – the house that “Common Man” Jefferson had built is vastly grander, but then Jefferson did not mind borrowing money, John Jay hated the idea of borrowing for luxury, he would only spend money he actually had) and started to order him about in farming matters?

I think such a government official would have got a cold stare from the man who attacked price controls and other such nonsense (John Adams would have lost his temper and set the dogs on such an official). But why should government be better at forming human character?

If would not trust the government to be in charge of your carrots, why would you trust them to be in charge of your children?

Governments are often better than private individuals and associations for destructive things – killing people, burning cities and so on (as a man who had lived through war – Mr Jay knew that), but for constructive things such as reforming human character? That does not seem very likely.

Evil (force and fear) has its place in human affairs – remember the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk is divided between good and evil. His good side has many things (for example a sincere love of knowledge for its own sake) – even his courage (the evil Kirk is a coward – terrified of losing his own skin), but the good Kirk is also useless as a Star Ship commander (he will not take risks with other people’s lives – and he is horrified even by the suffering and death of enemies). It is the evil Kirk who has the “power of command” and the delight in torment and destruction that gives him the incentive to think up clever ways of destroying foes (the pleasure a cat has). And these-things-are-necessary at times.

The state (force and fear – the Sword of State) is the negative (destructive) energy of human life – you can burn a city with such a force, but you can not make people better (not really) you can not create new and good things. Force and fear has its place in human life (the good Kirk can not command the Enterprise – although the evil Kirk can not be trusted to do so) – but it can not turn a child into a good adult, or turn criminals into honest people (it can just turn them into hypocrites like Mr Heap – pretending to be “ever so humble” as they plot fresh crimes).

If one tries to use the state for positive (for constructive) purposes the negative energy feeds back on itself – the tormented child becomes a vile adult, the criminal leaves the prison worse than when he went in (and so on). The state can punish crime – but it can reform people (and the effort to use state power to “make people better” leads to the most terrible tyranny, as C.S. Lewis pointed out).

Those people (such as John Jay) who supported setting up state prison systems and school systems sincerely believing that they would promote virtue were making an error – a terrible, fundamental, error (an error for which the world is still suffering  – and will suffer more).

Sam Harris in Defense of Israel


The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.

Not a Sam Harris fan, as I dislike and mistrust militant atheists just as much as other militantly religious or anti-religious folk. Particularly when they seem to believe it’s they themselves to whom the phrase “from God’s mouth to your ear” applies.

But this piece by Mr. Harris is an op-ed that by me deserves great praise, particularly as it probably offends most of his natural audience. (Of course, I don’t agree with every word, nor every implication.) And I know why he put in all those parentheticals: It’s to try and cut off at the pass the obvious accusations with which we’re all too familiar.

Audio at source, from which the following are excerpts. The whole is a fair bit longer, and of course better integrated.

July 27, 2014

Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?

gaza

AUDIO TRANSCRIPT [Note: This is a verbatim transcript of a spoken podcast. However, I have added notes like this one to clarify controversial points.—SH]

The question I’ve now received in many forms goes something like this: Why is it that you never criticize Israel? Why is it that you never criticize Judaism? Why is it that you always take the side of the Israelis over that of the Palestinians?

I have criticized both Israel and Judaism. … I’ve kept some sense of proportion. There are something like 15 million Jews on earth at this moment; there are a hundred times as many Muslims. I’ve debated rabbis who, when I have assumed that they believe in a God that can hear our prayers, they stop me mid-sentence and say, “Why would you think that I believe in a God who can hear prayers?” So there are rabbis—conservative rabbis—who believe in a God so elastic as to exclude every concrete claim about Him—and therefore, nearly every concrete demand upon human behavior. And there are millions of Jews, literally millions among the few million who exist, for whom Judaism is very important, and yet they are atheists. They don’t believe in God at all. This is actually a position you can hold in Judaism, but it’s a total non sequitur in Islam or Christianity.

I certainly don’t support any Jewish claims to real estate based on the Bible. [Note: Read this paragraph again.]

Though I just said that I don’t think Israel should exist as a Jewish state, the justification for such a state is rather easy to find. We need look no further than the fact that the rest of the world has shown itself eager to murder the Jews at almost every opportunity. So, if there were going to be a state organized around protecting members of a single religion, it certainly should be a Jewish state.

[Note: It is worth observing, however, that Israel isn’t “Jewish” in the sense that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are “Muslim.” As my friend Jerry Coyne points out, Israel is actually less religious than the U.S., and it guarantees freedom of religion to its citizens. Israel is not a theocracy, and one could easily argue that its Jewish identity is more cultural than religious. ....]

More civilians have been killed in Gaza in the last few weeks than militants. That’s not a surprise because Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Occupying it, fighting wars in it, is guaranteed to get woman and children and other noncombatants killed. ….

Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done. [Note: I was not saying that because they are more careful than we have been at our most careless, the Israelis are above criticism. War crimes are war crimes.]

It is clear that Israel is losing the PR war and has been for years now. One of the most galling things for outside observers about the current war in Gaza is the disproportionate loss of life on the Palestinian side. This doesn’t make a lot of moral sense. Israel built bomb shelters to protect its citizens. The Palestinians built tunnels through which they could carry out terror attacks and kidnap Israelis. Should Israel be blamed for successfully protecting its population in a defensive war? I don’t think so.

there is an obvious, undeniable, and hugely consequential moral difference between Israel and her enemies. The Israelis are surrounded by people who have explicitly genocidal intentions towards them. The charter of Hamas is explicitly genocidal. … [Note: Yes, I know that not every Palestinian supports Hamas, but enough do to have brought them to power. Hamas is not a fringe group.]

The discourse in the Muslim world about Jews is utterly shocking. Not only is there Holocaust denial—there’s Holocaust denial that then asserts that we will do it for real if given the chance. The only thing more obnoxious than denying the Holocaust is to say that it should have happened; it didn’t happen, but if we get the chance, we will accomplish it. There are children’s shows that teach five-year-olds about the glories of martyrdom and about the necessity of killing Jews.

And this gets to the heart of the moral difference between Israel and her enemies. And this is something I discussed in The End of Faith. To see this moral difference, you have to ask what each side would do if they had the power to do it.

The truth is that everything you need to know about the moral imbalance between Israel and her enemies can be understood on the topic of human shields. Who uses human shields? Well, Hamas certainly does.

Consider the moral difference between using human shields and being deterred by them. That is the difference we’re talking about. The Israelis and other Western powers are deterred, however imperfectly, by the Muslim use of human shields in these conflicts, as we should be. It is morally abhorrent to kill noncombatants if you can avoid it. It’s certainly abhorrent to shoot through the bodies of children to get at your adversary. But take a moment to reflect on how contemptible this behavior is. And understand how cynical it is. The Muslims are acting on the assumption—the knowledge, in fact—that the infidels with whom they fight, the very people whom their religion does nothing but vilify, will be deterred by their use of Muslim human shields.

There are reports that Israeli soldiers have occasionally put Palestinian civilians in front of them as they’ve advanced into dangerous areas. That’s not the use of human shields we’re talking about. It’s egregious behavior. No doubt it constitutes a war crime. But Imagine the Israelis holding up their own women and children as human shields. Of course, that would be ridiculous. The Palestinians are trying to kill everyone. Killing women and children is part of the plan. Reversing the roles here produces a grotesque Monty Python skit.

If you’re going to talk about the conflict in the Middle East, you have to acknowledge this difference. I don’t think there’s any ethical disparity to be found anywhere that is more shocking or consequential than this.


The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.

Bill Whittle: Losing the Peace in Iraq

There is one statement in here that I’ll bet will surprise everybody except maybe Mr. Cats, who may have already seen the video. It’s about Nixon, and it surprised me.

For those whose computers are either deaf or mute, the video is accompanied by a transcript at FrontPage Mag.

Iraq: Hannity, Rand Paul, Glenn Beck, David Davis

This is encouraging. Not a Hannity fan, but he sees it the way I do. *Voice shaking with unshed tears* I’ve felt so alone…. *sniffle*

. . .

On the other hand, Glenn Beck has changed his mind.
He explains why to Megyn Kelly, and he has a point.

Video and transcript at his site, or here is just the video. At 7:08 Miss Kelly abandons Iraq and goes to visit the Redskins.

. . .

I think David Davis, at the Libertarian Alliance today, has the right idea:

… The GramscoFabiaNazis knew, even in 1884 when they began shagging each others’ wives and daughters, that they would have to occupy Britain for decades, and decades and decades, after their victory. The one which they have scored over us, gradually, between 1948 and the present day. They know their war is not over by a long chalk. I’m not making value-judgements about whether they ought to have engaged in those sexual past-times which I stated,

But having “gone into Iraq”, perhaps we should have stayed for 100, 200, 300 years. We stayed in India for just short of 350 years, for example, and even that was barely enough to turn a place like that into a semi-functioning pluralist democracy. …. [SNIP]

This is the way wars start…

So President Obama is sending 300 military advisors to Iraq. They are absolutely (hand on heart) not going to do the fisticuffs. Honest. Isn’t that how Vietnam started? I know how it ended for I have seen the extremely moving Vietnam War Memorial in DC. It has 58,000 names on it. Seriously, you have to see it in the flesh – so to speak – it really doesn’t work on TV. It is very poignant because it is very shiny so you see your own face floating amongst the names and you think, “Could’ve been me”. Anyway, it looks like The Big O is ramping-up a war. Magic. To put it bluntly hasn’t the USA (and us) expended more than enough blood and treasure in Iraq already? I normally hate any analogies between sport and war because one is supposed to be fun and the other deadly but seeing as the performance of Iraqi troops against ISIS has made the England football defence look competent and brave I’ll risk it. I mean after ten years of training from the US (and us, and others) they dropped their rifles the second they heard the bullets singing. Brilliant and not to put too fine a point on it this is not our fault. If Iraq falls it does off their own bat. It is no longer our job. Having said that it was never our job. A tragedy wrapped around a farce. This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.

The Pope may also have a tendency towards Catholicism…

…and we all know about ursine silvan defecatary habits…

This staggering gem from the NYT/Daily Mail. I recall when the fun and games started in the ‘stan. There was a twinkly old bar steward “massing” with a fucking hatchet on the Af/Pak border and ranting to the BBC about killing Americans. Above him were the contrails of a B-52. He was (self) impo(r)tently waving his little mashie at the bomber. And he was ponying up from Pakistan’s “restive” tribal areas. Or Hell on Fucking Earth as is better known.

Anyone who sincerely believes the Pakistani government has been our best buds through this farrago which has cost something like 3,000 NATO lives, God knows how many Afghans and you may have noticed how well we’re doing in the Paralympics of late… Well they are demented.

It comes down to this. The USA has had an alliance with Pakistan for many years. In their early wars against India, Pakistan flew largely F-86s, and the Indians got chummy with the Soviets and flew MiGs (they also had some Hawker Hunters and the Pakistanis got some Supermarine Attackers which were truly dreadful but that would detract from the narrative). The Indians still are chummy with the Russians on aerospace which is why the Su-34 has a microwave oven and a proper toilet. It was specced-up and partially designed by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) primarily for India. A great strike fighter (with a microwave!) but they should have fitted (along with the toilet) variable geometry inlets for the engines to get the speed past Mach 2. Because under successive US Admins there has been a bizarre “Game of Thrones” in the spheres of interference and Pakistan landed in the US one and India in the Soviet one for whatever reason. But genuine friends? Seriously?

We know, or ought to know, who our real friends are. The first British DFC awarded to a female pilot came from her (and her crew) flying through an unbelievable shit-storm of fire into a fort (yes a fort!) to rescue a critically wounded Dane, twice – shot down first time around. Now my people stood (with fuck-off axes) against them Scandy sorts but the Battle of Stamford Bridge* was like nigh on a thousand years ago. Since then we’ve made-up and bought Lego and are genuine mates – real allies. This is not blood – though I am Nordic/Celtic ancestry. I have long blonde-ish hair right now and look like I’m about to lead the Éored down the right flank. Good. I like it as does my wife. I am not being racist. Indeed I’m suggesting I am of immigrant blood and blood matters nothing. What matters is culture and if not it’s exact convergence but the mutual understandability. That makes for genuine friendship and not the sub “Game of Thrones” we have with Pakistan and the Afghans. I mean Dear God we liberated Afghanistan so they could impose a law legalising marital rape! When we stormed the beaches of Normandy did we expect to set-up such societies? I have been to France and Germany and they ain’t like that. I haven’t been to Japan or The Republic of Korea (though I have put enough moollah their way) but I have been to the Korean War memorial in DC. That is a memorial to 50-odd thousand soldiers who died to ensure half the peninsula didn’t get over-run by the vilest regime on the planet.

And it isn’t blood, or culture or even religion (I found Turkey very friendly). Well, maybe it is culture. The culture of not being an arsehole. I am sure many Afghans manage it but not the Khazi of Kabul. Though a man not without sin there can be a need for an Atatürk (as we had a need for a Cromwell). Sometimes you need a hard bastard to pull you out of the soup.

Or maybe not. It’s not very libertarian is it? But Turkey would be a complete shit-hole without Mustafa Kemal (insert obvious joke). Mind, the current Turkish PM seems hell-bent on a return to the fucking dark ages.

Or maybe not. The great social changes I have seen in my lifetime have been of the slowly, slowly monkey catching variety. Sometimes you need society to simply change and the biggest change I have seen is probably gay rights. There has been a phenomenal change in that since I was at secondary school.

But fundamentally you don’t choose your friends – your genuine allies – they choose you or you just get on. There is a reason every year the Norwegians ship us a ginormous Christmas Tree for Trafalgar Square. There is a reason Hamid Khazai ships us fuck all (apart from heroin on the sly) – an Eid prezzie would be nice. It isn’t blood or treasure or religion. We simply get on with Norway and we don’t with ‘stan (because they are cunts, largely). That in a sense is what this war is about. Or isn’t. It is an attempt at “nation building”, in shit-holes. I saw on the telly a couple of years back a US Army Cpt taking tea with tribal elders. He was an engineer and wanted to build a bridge employing local labour so they could go to town and get jobs but all the lads had gone off Talibaning. The US officer was very obviously pissed-off. I don’t blame him. He couldn’t say anything, alas. But there was a definite look about him that said, “Well, if that’s their attitude then fuck ‘em”. Of course he offered to build a bridge and not offer the chance to “marry” pre-pubescent girls so he was buggered from the start.

These are not allies in the sense of friends. The French might be founder members of the “Awkward Squad” but I reckon we can vaguely trust ‘em. We can certainly trust some other Europeans and the USA and some of the Commonwealth. We have friends, genuine friends and that is very different from having “alliances”.

I know people I would stand with (if it came to it) to the last gasp and I know they would stand with me but realpolitricks never works in the long term.

I know this post has rambled and I hope it is taken in the right sense. This is not a rant contra Islam and it is not a paean to Nordicology. I am just saying that if you want a genuine friendship which is the utter prerequisite for a real alliance you have to get on rather than manufacture it. And a country that harbours public enemy #1 within a brisk walk of its premier military academy for years is not a friend and should not therefore be regarded as an ally. It is both a strategic and some level a moral failure.

*Some enormous Viking held the bridge with a giant axe until a sneaky Saxon went underneath and skewered the IKEA merchant with a spear up the fundament.

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…

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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.

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