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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.


  1. Paul Marks says:

    The governments in Pakistan in the 1950s and 1960s were (basically) pro American – but since then Pakistani politics has been the People’s Party (socialist) on one side and various Islamists (military and civilian) on the other – NEITHER really pro American.

    A lot of people have suggested a “tilt towards India” – but the cry goes up “we must maintain friendships in the Islamic world”. I suspect this is a false hope.

    Also the Congress Party has (historically) been of the anti American left – although now it is basically just a pro welfare spending party (perhaps less bad than the American Democrats).

    The BJP (the alternative to the Congress Party) feels it can not come out against the wild spending (for fear of losing elections). And is Hindu nationalist – anti Islamist, but not exactly in love with the West either.

    As for Game of Thrones…..

    Even if a warrior Queen turned up with dragons to free the slaves, I doubt that the Islamic world could be really transformed.

    Not unless the lady managed to convert them to a different religion (sending Islam to sleep is not enough – because it can wake up without warning, as General Gordon found in the Sudan).

    Something that I suspect that even Lady D. Stormborn T. could not do.

    Islam is what it is – and it has been in charge of these places for more than a thousand years.

    There is no changing that.

    This is why I was opposed to the policy of Mr Blair and Mr Bush.

    Their policy was based on the assumption that there is something called moderate mainstream Islam and that “Islamism” is a “perversion” of Islam.

    I dissent from this opinion. Therefore I am against wars-for-democracy in the Islamic world.

  2. NickM says:

    Paul, I am against wars for democracy because it can’t really be imposed can it?

  3. John Galt says:

    The fundamental issue here is shared heritage and despite our differences, the native British still have strong cultural and genetic bonds with our cousins in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Northern Germany going back to pre-Roman times.

    The French, Spanish, Italians and other Latin countries have been enemies and uncertain allies down the ages and as Macmillan once said (or was it Churchill?) – “The French always betray you in the end”.

    With the Pakistanis and Afghans any cultural and genetic ties we once shared (as Georges Dumézil asserts) as part of a larger Indo-European heritage have become so diluted by the passage of time and so distorted by religious hatred that they are, to all intents and purposes an alien race and we to them.

    Without understanding there can be no genuine trust.

  4. NickM says:

    So JG, why do we get on OK with the Japanese?

  5. Mr Ed says:

    I am sitting in a town in Suffolk, the church porch has an effigy of Saint Edmund as he was being arrowed to death by heathen Danes. Just saying, in some parts of England, they still remember what the Danes did.

    However, things are fairly peaceful these days, and, as JG points out, the Hispanic world has centuries of enmity towards the Anglo-Saxon world, overlaid by vestigial Catholic chauvinism, seen in Spain/Gibraltar (not Catholic chauvinism); Guatemala/Belize, Falklands/Argentina.

    For Papal chauvinism, a pretext for supporting a Junta attempting a genocide:

  6. John Galt says:

    So JG, why do we get on OK with the Japanese?

    As with the other countries who are our “uncertain allies”, it’s only recently and only because of the current alignment of economic and military interests, it could all change at the flick of a diplomatic switch.

    Don’t forget that part of the reason the Japanese invasions in Asia during WWII were so successful was that the Japanese propaganda promised an end to colonial rule by the British, French, Dutch, etc.

      JG’s Potted History of Japan since 1600

    The first Englishman in Japan was William Adams who arrived in 1600 and upon whom the novel Shogun is loosely based. The shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu used Adams to offset the power of the Portuguese and Spanish who controlled the China/Japan trade and stem the interests of the Catholic church.

    As Ieyasu grew in power he gradually restricted the foreigners until by 1636 (20 years after his death, but according to his instructions to his heirs) all foreigners were expelled from Japan and the only foreign trading post was an artificial island in the middle of Nagasaki harbour which the foreigners (Dutch traders) were forbidden to leave, on pain of death, except to go back out to sea.

    Thus Japan remained closed to foreigners (or even returning Japanese) until the Perry mission of 1853 forced the Japanese to open the country to foreign trade at the point of a gun. Although this caused the effective collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate it also brought about a centralised military elite under an absolute monarch (as previously the Japanese emperor had been a titular ruler in name only and a virtual hostage of the Shogun). This in turn led to the victory against the Russians in 1904/5 as the consequences of allying Japanese warrior mentality with western military hardware and in turn led to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

    Not sensing much amity in all that and post-1945?….well dropping nukes on you might win a war, it certainly made the Japanese fear and hate the westerners, but friendship? No.

    Their interests are only allied with our because of their economic interests and their fear of China. That ain’t friendship – it is dependence.

  7. John Galt says:

    I am sitting in a town in Suffolk, the church porch has an effigy of Saint Edmund as he was being arrowed to death by heathen Danes. Just saying, in some parts of England, they still remember what the Danes did

    Yes, but Nick and I are both from the heart of the Danelaw, so in all likelihood descended from the hairy arsed invaders. :-)

  8. NickM says:

    JG, the only person in my family with a hairy arse is called Timmy and he’s a cat.

    More to the point I don’t buy your line on the Japanese. They can be odd from our viewpoint in quirky ways but I can honestly say I haven’t met a single Japanese person I didn’t get on with.

    My brother’s gf is Japanese and he’s spent years out there. So have lots of others and of course being from the NE of England the inward investment from Nissan is massive. We have very different cultures but we get along because we both bring something to the party. And that is great. I’m not doing my John Lennon “Imagine thing” but it has struck me that different countries do different things better or worse. It is not a cause for fisticuffs as much as a learning experience. Sorry if that sounds PC because it ain’t meant that way. It is perhaps odd that my favourite country is the Czech Republic but then again it isn’t odd because they have soaked up so many cultural influences they are cool. I’d move to Prague at the drop of a hat but the language is impenetrable to me.

    I mean I saw the weirdest busking act like evah in Prague. Some bloke in a monk’s cowl balancing rodents on a dog. This was on the Charles Bridge. I have seen odd things in Prague. Sitting out one evening having dinner my wife and I were passed by a collection of blokes in Edwardian dress riding penny-farthings. Anywhere else in the C21st that would be odd. I loved it all.

    Oh, and the beer is spot on and they deep-fry cheese. And they have the “Museum of Communism” which touted itself as “Above McDonalds and opposite Bennetton”. It’s emblem was (is?) a Russian doll with fangs. The Museum is just round the corner from where Jan Palach martyred himself. And they dynamited the World’s largest statue of Stalin and replaced it with a metronome and skate-park.

  9. RAB says:

    Spot on JG. If I hadn’t been to the dentist and walking the dog this afternoon I would have said much the same about Japan.

    I will add though that I read a piece by a Washington Times correspondant years ago, who asked a Japanese friend when he would be considered Japanese. He had been living and working there for 30 years, spoke the language fluently, knew all about their food, customs and religion etc. He was told in no uncertain terms that he would NEVER be considered Japanese. It just wasn’t possible.

    Japan is the 4th richest nation on the planet, but their amount of immigration is practically nil….

  10. John Galt says:

    But personal and national relations are two very different things.

    Equally, have you never noticed that there is a vast difference between the ex-patriots of ANY country and their stay-at-home counterparts.

    Indeed ex-pat Westerners living in Japan who both speak and understand Japanese fluently have to make great allowances for their stay-at-home Japanese counterparts who are often just bloody rude and racist to their faces about both how they smell and how ugly they are, presuming that as westerners they don’t understand Japanese.

    As usual with urbanites, the cities are worse than the rural districts.

    It’s not all Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! you know…

  11. Paul Marks says:

    Nick – you are still young. Believe me, the body hair will come – and the nose hair and ……..

  12. andy says:

    Why isn’t the Western world moving scientific Heaven and Earth to create a cheap,sustainable synthetic fuel so we can tell the Islamic oil states to shove their oil up their arses and simply have nothing more to do with them? Let them descend back into barbarism, why is it our problem? if their culture is so wonderful and ours so bad, let them prove it without our interference.

  13. Paul Marks says:

    Nuclear fusion would do the job – power stations fuelled by sea water, and electric cars (or trains) that actually made sense.

    However, we have been promised nuclear fusion since the 1950s – and it never arrives.

  14. John Galt says:

    Thanks Paul – an excuse to flog my dead horse again. :-)

    While we’re waiting for jam tomorrow fusion energy to appear, building a few LFTR’s would be a good way of bridging the gap and more useful than HS2.

  15. Paul Marks says:

    Get rid of the regulations and get rid of such tings as Capital Gains Tax – and if LFTRs are economic they will be built.

  16. Mr Ed says:


    ‘we have been promised nuclear fusion since the 1950s – and it never arrives.’

    Well I am certain that if you ask the scientists whose funding is for fusion research, I am sure that they will tell you that things are coming together nicely.

  17. NickM says:

    Yeah, in the eternal “20 years from now…”.

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