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Iran Hostages: What is the Next Phase? 31 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, EU, Europe, European Union, World.
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Iran still has 15 British troops held captive, at an unknown location, and is refusing diplomatic access to them unless Britain apologises for entering Iran’s waters. But we didn’t enter Iran’s waters! Even if Britain forged the GPS signal and maps – as Iran has themselves – the original grid reference given by Iran is actually within Iraqi waters! Only when they realised the mistake did they give a new grid reference.

But what can we do? We cannot block trade any more than we have, as the European Union (Iran’s biggest trading partner) controls our trade policy, and both Germany (the current European Union President) and France (with a veto) have big trade links with Iran. France alone in fact is Iran’s 2nd biggest trading partner. As the Times reports, European foreign ministers failed last night to back Britain in a threat to freeze the €14 billion trade in exports to Iran.

We don’t even know where they are, so can’t mount a rescue bid, as dangerous and near impossible as it would be anyway. Would we really declare was for 15 people? Iran would probably execute them even if we did. And the public have shown a very distinct lack of interest really. As the Telegraph comments, public opinion has changed. Where our great-great-grandfathers clamoured for the rescue of Gordon, we have reacted to Iran’s provocation with a resigned shrug. Americans, in particular, cannot understand why we seem so indifferent to the fate of our own people.

I certainly agree that the Americans are confused, the internet is awash with comments from our friends over the pond who really do not understand what has happened to Great Britain – many pledging their military support to us. The US Republicans in particular are shocked by our lack of action. But what will the government do?

And so Iran has all the cards, and knows it. The letters and apologies are clearly forced by the Iranians, you can tell in the letters by the language and grammar, one lacking the definite article and reading “To British People” as if dictated by a foreign person with less than fluent English rather than “To the British People” as we would say. The mention of removing forces from Iraq so they can take decisions themselves is clear indication as to Iran’s power in Iraq.

Blair has got to step up the pressure. Appeasement doesn’t work. If you give in to one hostage taker, you invite a thousand more, with ever bigger and tougher demands. We cannot rely on the EU, they will not help us. The diplomatic heat must be cranked up, with tough sanctions banning trade, blocking entry to the country, halting flights over allied territories etc. Meanwhile we must begin to threaten military action – such as seizing the waterway, bombing nuclear plants and oil sites – with America and our other true allies, and let Iran know we will not allow such actions against our forces enacting a UN mandate.

But Blair and Brown are weak. They talk of the next phase, the next level, the next stage – but what exactly is it?

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Carol Thatcher – Mummy’s War 30 March 2007

Posted by David in Uncategorized.
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Last night Carol Thatcher presented “Mummy’s War”, an hour long look at the Falklands War through her visit to the islands. What struck me was the great regard the islanders had for Britain, and the love they clearly feel for Britain despite being 8,000 miles away. I knew they were very pro-British, but the extent (like the scenery) was breathtaking.

The bravery of the British forces, and the honour they felt in liberating the islands, was also amazing.  The story of one woman who moved to the Falklands after her son died on the invasion was particularly moving. The story of a female island farmer who helped lead the troops across the terrain was also incredible. “I just hope they keep them British,” she said.

Carol Thatcher then went to Argentina! Branded a pirate and shouted at, she took none of it. She met war veterans, who looked quite alarming, but it was the Mothers of the General Belgrano’s sailors who were the fiercest. They all denied that the Falkland Islanders have any rights to their home at all, and refused to accept they even started the war. “God will punish her [Mrs Thatcher],” one ended the meeting on.

Currently Argentina is getting stroppy once more. It has pulled out of a joint Anglo-Argentine oil exploration deal, imposed harsh fines on ships buying fishing permits from the islands, blocked the Chile-Falklands air service, and is using the 25th anniversary to step up diplomatic efforts to take the islands. The right to self-determination must be upheld.

The Trap: Whatever Happened To Our Dreams Of Freedom? 29 March 2007

Posted by David in BBC.
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Last night I watched all three parts of “The Trap: Whatever Happened To Our Dreams Of Freedom?” by Adam Curtis. Sadly I was very disappointed.

The series was based around this premise basically (but greatly elaborated with various irrelevant information thrown in); politicians and economists have concluded that we’re all selfish individuals, and so created choice in public services to drive up standards. This lead to the bad targets lead culture of New Labour, which lead to “welcome nurses” so everyone was seen by someone within 3 hours at A&E, crimes being reclassified as occurrences, corridors renamed wards etc – just to meet the target. He is very wrong. The “targets” culture is not from choice theory, but the centralised obsessiveness of the left wing. True choice theory lets the users decide, not the State and its “targets”.

He then decides we’re ruled by “negative liberty”, best defined as “live and let live”, which has no purpose, instead of “positive liberty”, where the State “re-educates” to “make us free”. Curtis thinks this [negative liberty] is wrong, believing we need the State to give us purpose and drive society.

Curtis is clearly a left-wing nutter. He lists “redistribution of land and wealth” as a necessary part of democracy, which it isn’t under any theory of democracy. In the third part he even lists all the terrible examples of “positive liberty” such as the USSR, Cambodia, French Revolution etc,then says “but not all positive liberty has to end like this” – having just explained how it does.

His advice for us is truly alarming. Please BBC2, no more of Mr Adam Curtis.

Guido on Newsnight 29 March 2007

Posted by David in BBC.
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Guido was on Newsnight, having been given a 5 minute slot and a post-feature discussion with Paxman and Michael White from the Guardian. Guido’s main argument was that political reporters such as the Newsnight gang and Nick Robinson are too close and chummy with their sources and the politicians in question, and so fail to report accurately or ask sufficiently probing questions for fear of burning their bridges with them.

This charge was effectively accepted, with Nick Robinson admitting all journalists need to keep in with their contacts, and Adam Boulton admitting Sky were put “in the freezer” after a bad interview with Cameron. But they then went on the offensive, Paxman and Nick Robinson branding Guido a “conspiracy theorist” who needs to “grow up”. Sadly there is often truth in Guido’s theories.

Robinson declared he does ask the deep questions when the story calls for it. But unless you ask the questions on the off chance of the rumour being true, there isn’t a story to ever get serious. 

But the manner in which Paxman, Robinson and White acted is truly disgusting. They became loud, angry and visibly rattled by any accusations they were too close to politicians. They were not happy at all.

Some People Don’t Deserve Freedom 28 March 2007

Posted by David in World.
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It’s the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, surely the most justified war since we declared war on Hitler in 1939. Sadly however, there are a large number of disgusting, insulting, hypocritical, rude, lying, sneering, condescending and arrogant hypocrites who enjoy using our freedoms but would sacrifice the freedoms of others for their own moral self-rightousness. Take a look at some of these responses to the question “what do you remember of the Falklands War?” and try not to get annoyed at some of them. Some people – particularly the “Malvinas” nerd in the suit and glasses – really don’t deserve freedom. As the US Marines say, freedom aint free. For men such as this to live freely, brave soldiers have fought and died. Such a condescending and stupid view is an insult to all of them. The young kid was good though.

The responses have also showed the true colours of some people. “Let’s just give em back as an anniversary present. I never saw the point of principle here, losing one life for the Falklns seems far too much, so the reality is just ludicrous,” says Malvinas, seemingly not interested in what the Falkland Islanders themselves want.

“As I understand it, under international law Argentina has a stronger claim to the Malvinas than Britain to what it likes to refer to as the Falklands,” says Jailhouselawyer, seemingly forgetting the right to self-determination in the UN Charter. Surely the Falkland Island resident’s have the biggest claim, and they wish to remain British. The Falklands have never even belonged to Argentina anyway.Argentina and the Falklands once both belonged to Spain, but that does not mean Argentina owns the Falklands (under that principle the Falklands would have an equal claim over Argentina!).

“What possible justification can there be for the Falklands to remain British, other than Imperial aggression? Give em back, or give Argentina the Isle of Man. Actually, they’ve suffered enough. The guy in the Abbey yesterday was right, this country has never come close to admitting to itself the damage it has done around the world. I don’t blame the solider, they go where they’re told. This was a shameful war for the Conservatives, just as Iraq has been a shameful war for Labour. But to the rest of the world, these are just the latest chapters in Britain’s roll-call of arrogance, violence and hypocrisy for which it should beg the forgiveness of the world,” says another mad person.

Left-wingers are so happy to over-rule local sentiment, it’s disgusting. The way they run down the sacrifice of heroic servicemen, and war and the islands (which they insultingly call “a few rocks”), is just despicable. Let us remember Argentina was the aggressor. An Argentina run by a fascist dictatorship! An Argentina which invaded British territory, occupied by British people, who wish to remain British. There’s no ifs and buts about it. The war was the right thing.

I always feel those against the war would think differently if it was their town occupied by a fascist junta.

Don’t Forget Wilberforce 25 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, World.
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Last night there was plenty of coverage of the 200th anniversary of abolition – the end of slave trading anywhere under the Union Flag – but I was disappointed by it. Anyone tuning in would have seen not a celebration of Wilberforce and his heroic abolitionist’s victory, or the contribution made to the World by the emancipated slaves and their descendants, nor even a celebration of racial harmony, but rather a series of stunts in self-flagellation.

We had church leaders in chains, commentators saying “Britain is still living off wealth from slavery” but not explaining how or even what could be done about it, and John Prescott calling for a Slavery Day. Personally I’d rather have an Abolition of Slavery Day, can’t see how we’re living off 18th Century wealth, and don’t believe that the current population have inherited ancestral guilt – just as modern day Germans aren’t responsible for the Nazis.

Everything has to be pessimistic, down-beat and negative. Because of this we forget what people can achieve – like Wilberforce – which is remarkable and great. We lose inspiration and drive, and so fail to make similar achievements ever again. We quickly forget that we banned slavery, that the Royal Navy actively policed that ban across the globe, and that individual people – like Wilberforce and his other abolitionists – can change the World. There still is slavery, but self-flagellation about the past won’t fix it.

Update (1.04.07): An excellent article by Dan Hannan MEP – “You are descended from slaves. So am I. And from slave-owners, too, come to that. Statistically, it could hardly be otherwise. Forced servitude was common to all early human societies. It existed in the dark times, before cities and writing. It was carried into the first civilisations, in Ur and Sumer, in Egypt and Persia, in the Indus Valley and in Xia Dynasty China, in Meso-America and the Andes. It survived through the classical age, and into the mediaeval period. Slavery was endemic in African and Arab societies. Between 11 and 17 million people were taken from Africa by Muslim slavers between the seventh and nineteenth centuries. In the New World, too, slavery existed from the earliest moment of human settlement. The Mayans, Aztecs and Incas all practised it as, later, did the colonists. Although slavery sometimes had an ethnic basis, it was no great respecter of race. Muslim slavers traded in Christians: Georgians, Circassians, Armenians and others. Christians, for their part, enslaved Moors: as late as the sixteenth century, hundreds of thousands of Muslim slaves toiled on Spanish plantations. On the eve of the American civil war, there were 3,000 black slave-owners in the United States. We are, in other words, all in this together. Everyone alive today is descended from the exploiters and the exploited: it is simply a question of how far back you want to go. And that, surely, is what makes the arguments about apologies and reparations so silly. We can all agree that slavery was an abominable crime. From a contemporary perspective, it seems unbelievable that otherwise humane societies could tolerate it. It is understandable that, feeling wrenched with revulsion, we want to do something about it, or at least say tell people how miserable we feel about the whole thing. But tell whom? Anyone we choose to apologise to is statistically certain also to be descended from both owners and owned. What worries me about the campaign for reparations is that it unwittingly serves to sustain a racist view of humanity. By assigning guilt or victimhood on the basis of ethnicity, it implies that we are defined by our ancestry, rather than being free individuals. This was, of course, a popular Nazi idea, but I thought it had been widely discredited since. How strange to see so many well-meaning Lefties taking it up again.”

Happy Birthday To EU? 24 March 2007

Posted by David in Comment, EU, Europe, European Union.
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Today millions are being spent to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which founded the European Coal & Steel Community, which became the EEC, which became the EU. It feels like one of those children’s stories – “the cat that ate the mouse, who scared the maid, who milked the cow, who ate the grass, that stained the clothes, that irritated the parents, who remortgaged the house that Jack built”.

Regular readers will know that I do not like the EU, and the Telegraph lists some of the recent news stories that give reason for such a dislike.

March 1: The head of the European Commission says it would be illegal for any country to opt out of the Social Chapter. March 6: A report by Eurochambers shows that EU productivity is 20 years behind that of America. March 7: A Brussels magazine analyses the EU’s policy towards business in the light of the fact that 100,000 of the 170,000 pages of EU regulations and directives have been produced in the past 10 years. March 12: Publicans complain because the Commission wants the crown stamp removed from British pint glasses. It is revealed that the EU pays for free massages for the unemployed. The European Commission wants to set up a bigger embassy, a “House of Europe”, in London, costing £1 million a year. EU foreign ministers refuse to agree sanctions against Khartoum for massacre and expropriation in Darfur. March 13: A row about the EU attempt to ban incandescent lightbulbs. March 15: The Monetary Affairs Commissioner admits that trade within the EU has not grown since the creation of the single currency. March 16: Plans for a centralised European database of fingerprints, biometric information and criminal records are set out. A BBC investigation reports that the EU now has a “standing army”. March 19: 44 per cent of all Europeans and 52 per cent of the British tell an FT poll that their life has got worse since joining the EU. Fifty-three per cent of Europeans think that Britain has the biggest say in international affairs of any member state. Only nine per cent think this is true of Germany, six per cent of France. Disabled people won’t be able to go on holiday because the Working Time Directive forbids their carers to work more than 11 hours at a stretch. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett says that Britain will “rise above” demands for a referendum on the expected new European Treaty, which will try to push forward the defeated constitution by other means. The European Parliament considers a proposal to regulate all football in the EU. March 20: A commission spokesman blames the previous day’s poll on “nostalgia and insecurity”. A British farmer is forced to destroy his £500,000 herd of cattle under EU rules because of irregularities between their passports and their ear-tags.

But my dislike of the EU is not based on news stories, but principle. I oppose the European Union on the grounds that I am a believer in liberal nationalism, rather than the EU’s crazy euro-nationalism. Let me explain.

I believe the “state” and thus the government should be freely formed around the naturally occuring and organic “nation” – a nation being defined as a group viewing themselves as a nation, distinct from other nations. Naturally this could lead to ever constant disintegration, so some limit must be placed on it, generally geographic sense, language and history.

This is the reverse of what the EU is attempting, which is to create a state/government (Romano Prodi said “for the powers I have [as European Commission President] there is no other word than government”) and then form a European identity around it, hence efforts to create Europe Day, flags, anthems etc. It’s also why the USSR had so many Stalin statues, Rome had the Emperor on coins everywhere, and why China is transforming Tibet.

You can see the difference. Liberal views build the state around the people, the other view builds the people around the new state.

But such a project is not only illiberal, but dangerous. When people live within a state but do not see each other as the same, the result will never gain legitimacy in their eyes. Then you see the rise of a violent form of nationalism, the nationalism of a people denied self-determination within a supra-national state – precisely such a state as the EU is becoming. Just look at Yugoslavia or Iraq to see that supra-national states cause trouble. And with the EU’s obsession with removing differences, and to standardisation (called “harmonisation – to soothe British feelings” as Schroeder put it), tensions will be a problem.

I am not anti-Europe, Europe is a continent, but I am anti-EU. I want independence not just for Britain, but for France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium… Europe’s greatness lies in the fact it is many, instead of just one. Vive la difference, vive la independence.

What We Face Part 2 23 March 2007

Posted by David in EU, Europe, European Union.
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A while back I highlighted some of the crazy comments from Euro-fanatics posted on the BBC. Well… there’s more. And the level of lunacy is as high as ever.

“UK politicians always emphasise what the UK got out of Europe, when the real question has to be: What can the UK (or any other Member State) do for Europe?” Ronald Vopel, Brussels, Belgium 

Like serfs? I thought the (deluded) pro-EU argument was that membership benefited us, not that we should work for it?

Almost every specific complaint I have heard about the EU is alleviated (if not entirely solved) by the proposed constitution – things like “lack of democracy” “overbureaucracy” “indecisiveness”, etc. . I think the only reason people are afraid of it is that it makes the EU sound too much like a country – which I personally don’t have a problem with (I’m primarily European and I think nation states are getting outdated) but I see how others might. Look beyond the name and read the content! Tivadar, Bremen, Germany

Not even worthy of a reply, I’m guessing Tivadar read the EU published condensed constitution, not the many thousands of pages long text. And why are nation states outdated? And so what even if they are? I myself think huge multi-nation empires and federations are outdated, with proof being Yugoslavia, USSR, Czechoslovakia…

Some people are so anti-European that they can’t even acknowledge the benefits the EU has brought. For example, it is correct to say that the EU stopped wars in Europe. After centuries of fighting each other, some European countries decided to share the resources required for war in order to put a stop to all this through the European Coal and Steel Community, which preceded the EEC and now the EU. It was this and not NATO that was designed to prevent further wars between France, Germany, Britain and others. Since then the EU has brought huge benefits to the people of Europe, including free trade. However Eurosceptics who seem to know or understand little about the EU won’t acknowledge this but readily point to the EU’s quality standards for bananas. These were necessary for free trade within the EU, but perhaps Eurosceptics don’t like free trade, or bananas! David, Dublin, Ireland

Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), demands that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.” I think they had maintaining peace in mind, and there is no such commitment in the reams of EU law.

And free trade doesn’t need the EU, see NAFTA, EFTA and the Swiss trade agreement. Quality standard rules imposed from government are not necessary for free trade either, as we have been trading freely within in the UK for years without them.

Where do they get these people?

Three Cheers For Wu Ping 23 March 2007

Posted by David in China, Comment, World, Wu Ping.
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I hate compulsory purchase powers and land grabs, like that being proposed at Stansted Airport, so I love this story about a Chinese lady refusing to budge.

Mrs Wu Ping and her husband are holding up a major development, because they don’t want to move. They are refusing to let the authorities demolish their modest but loved home. Good for them.

A deadline set by the court ordering her to authorise the demolition ran out on Thursday, and it was not clear what steps the authorities would take next. The Chinese media have dubbed her “the stubborn nail” for her refusal to give up.

But Ms Wu defended her decision, “I’m not stubborn or unruly, I’m just trying to protect my personal rights as a citizen. I will continue to the end,” she was quoted as saying in the state-run Legal Daily.

Land grabbing is a terrible thing, and a lot has gone on to build the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Here too it goes on, for the 2012 Olympics and other projects.

Is Immigration Damaging Britain? 23 March 2007

Posted by David in Love To Lead.
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“Is immigration destroying Britain’s national identity?” is the question this week on Love to Lead, and I am pleased to offer an answer, which in the great tradition of Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey Appleby is both yes and no.

The key point is which immigration, and which immigrant? Too often all people coming to Britain are very unhelpfully lumped together in the same, single, over politicised and ill defined category. This confuses the debate, and adds unnecessary emotion to the topic.

Britain has a long history of immigration, however each new group of arrivals has integrated and become a fully successful part of British culture – so much so that within single generations the ‘immigrant’ and his/her family is not just accepted as living in the nation, but part of the nation. Celebrity examples could be Michael Howard, Dame Kelly Holmes, Levi Roots and Sir Trevor McDonald, but there are millions and indeed few if any are without DNA from those with overseas origins. We don’t even think about their ancestors – each of them is “one of us”.

Democracy requires us to accept each others as the same, equal citizens – as “a demos”, which translates as “a people” – or we cannot accept the result as legitimate (imagine the friction if the USA and Canada had one parliament, or Australia and New Zealand).

But not all immigration is like this. The advent of multi-culturalism has changed the set up so that multiple cultures can live within one state. Indeed they can; no one found Levi Root’s Reggae Reggae Sauce, a celebration of Jamaican heritage, a problem – because he was still British as well. He is British with Jamaican ancestors.

The problem arises when immigrants or descendants of immigrants take the ‘either/or’ routeand choose the non-British option. They believe they are either XXXXX or British, rather than British with XXXXX ancestors/roots, and when those cultural roots dominate their personality – things like language, physically noticeable religion etc. This causes friction. When people make demands to accommodate their culture, it’s even worse.

The old adage of “when in Rome, do as the Romans” holds true. If you go abroad, especially if permanently, common decency and respect requires us to respect and mostly integrate into the local way of life. It should be the way of life why you moved there. In America, it has been a melting pot, but imagine the carnage and friction if all had kept their old cultures fully. The same applies to Britain. Some immigration has integrated and benefited us, some sadly hasn’t. It’s not about race or ethnicity, but about whether people want to be part of Britain or just live here.