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Saturday, February 25, 2006

I've tried to adapt it by ignoring obvious blogtitles so this should be sorta accurate:
Make your own at Snapshirts.


Friday, February 24, 2006

You are Milk Chocolate

A total dreamer, you spend most of your time with your head in the clouds.
You often think of the future, and you are always working toward your ideal life.
Also nostelgic, you rarely forget a meaningful moment... even those from long ago.
What Kind of Chocolate Are You?


I do whine quite often about how the British public is so parochial that it doesn’t care about the serious business of foreign affairs, but here is some encouragement from recent polling:

Defence/foreign affairs/terrorism is regarded as the key issue facing the country (34% of the public spontaneously say this) ahead of the NHS (33%), race relations/immigration (30%) and education/schools (28%).

Personally I would rate the economy and law & order higher schools’n’hospitals, but it is good to see some concern about our place in the world. Now if I can only get people agree with me . . . I wonder though whether David Cameron near complete silence on these issues explains part of his weakened popularity?

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Friday, February 17, 2006

I should be blogging properly on all of this, but it’s not so much anger but despair that marks my reaction to what’s been going on in the past days. Where to start?
ID cards. Has anybody anywhere seen anything resembling a convincing argument that we actually need these breathing licenses? Sure their cheerleaders have argued well, if not convincingly, that they won’t turn this country into a police state and that they won’t bankrupt us. And that’s it. And some of the cheek they use in their arguments - just consider our probable future prime minister:

This week has shown us to be in the last stages of intellectual decadence: ID cards are necessary, said Gordon Brown on Monday, "as a protection of people's individual civil liberties". A more dishonest justification for the extension of state power cannot be imagined.

More shocking abuse in Iraq . . . well not really. We get a journalistically indefensible running of abuse image of Abu Ghraib. Why this qualifies as “news” escapes me, as it’s the same incident, the same day, that we have already worked through and it offers nothing in the way of new evidence. The only thing it does is provide material to the opponents of the Coalition. It’s almost like the responsible media want us to lose this war . . .
And as for our own boys, am I missing something here? I only read about it and didn’t see the images so I was expecting something disturbing. So I was rather dismayed to see the whole furour was kicked up only about a few troops in rather desperate circumstances kicking and hitting a little too much during an arrest. Admittedly, too much is too much and it is necessary for disciplinary action to be taken. But given the circumstances of an mob assault on the Army base, a mere few kicks and hits are pretty mild to the possible alternative of machine gunning the crowd. Again, this abuse only really shows again how we remain on the moral highground even if we lose the PR battle.
Which moves us on to the smoking ban. What to make of that? Is this fox hunting for pubbers? I don’t really see how this can be popular, or why we need it. In consequence pubs will wither lose customers, or change their licences to being private premises. As for people who don’t go to pubs, and who are probably the majority backing this move, they’re not going to be showing up in Ye Old Rose anytime soon. The only change is that now we have to waste the resources of public order on implementing this idiocy. What a day for limited government.
The final straw I think was the bizarre Dick Cheney shooting incindent. Sure, given that the victim seems in good shape, it’s certainly worth a giggle and some jokes in satire shows, but can anybody give me any reason why this was given whole minutes on prime time British tv news? Or why does it warrant any real attention? It’s all beyond me. It does however, along with the above raise questions about the competence of the journalistic profession.
All in all I just feel that sensible argument is just being lost.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

I saw parts of Question Time last night, which was not quite the freak show that it normally is, so at least that was a relief. One of the questions about withdrawing British troops from Iraq got me thinking that we don’t really have a proper debate about the issue in this country. It’s not that it doesn’t get debated, it’s just that the conclusion is virtually always the same: the doves say pull ‘em out now, and the tougher doves say pull ‘em out when Iraq’s ready. Though it’s notable that the latter often have difficulty defining when exactly Iraq is “ready”.
Another element in this debate is the idea of a fixed timetable. This is most easily dealt with: if there’s a timetable the criminals, insurgents and jihadists that are already making life in Iraq misery will have a field day. They can then sit back and relax knowing that their most formidable enemy will be gone soon. This interlude can be used to recruit more and more fighters by giving them an opportunity for victory; because let’s face it, without the shield of the Coalition the insurgents are going to make mince meat out of the Iraqi police and security forces. Also, if there’s a timetable all cooperation by the local populace with our troops will cease: after all, no one wants to be on the losing side, particularly when the victors are not exactly renowned for their humane and forgiving nature.
To return to the starting point, my complaint is that we’re not having a proper debate. One gigantic hole in the debate is the view held by hawks like me, namely that we shouldn’t be debating how and when to withdraw, but how and when to send reinforcements to Iraq to get a grip on the situation (rather than Afghanistan). The longer we wait the more entrenched our enemies, the enemies of a functioning Iraqi democracy, will inevitably become. Now, whether or not you agree with this view isn’t my main concern right now, my concern is that this is nowhere in the debate. How often have supporters of the Iraq war or Government ministers been questioned on tv or the radio whether it’s time to withdraw? Compare that to how often they have been asked whether a bad security situation would surely necessitate more troops? I can’t remember that question ever being raised. This is a real problem.
Particularly because our troops aren’t leaving Iraq anytime soon. Certainly not within a decade if not longer. What makes me so sure? Have a brief look at where a large portion of the Army’s bases is located. Notice something? There’s a huge contingent in north West Germany. What on earth are they doing there? Well, British troops first arrived to defeat Nazi Germany. Then they occupied Germany to rebuild it. Following on from that they were stationed there to deter and in extremis help stop the flood of Warsaw Pact tanks sweeping across the north German plains. Then the Cold War ended. That was 16 years ago, but our troops are still there. Why? Partly convenience because it spares the Army from finding new training grounds in the UK.
I see no reason why the deployment to Iraq will be any different. After invading to depose Saddam, the troops are occupying Iraq to rebuild it and will eventually stay on to deter Iran. Additionally British forces have been stationed in the Persian Gulf area now for a good century and with the region’s increasing importance for our security and interests the rationale is only going to increase. Indeed my guess would be that the permanent stationing in Germany might well be exchanged for setting up home in Iraq.
This is the most likely outcome, so there will be no withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A theme I have turned to sometimes seems to getting through to Bush:

"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world," Bush said. "The best way to break this addiction is through technology."

Well, he’s got the wording right, but then he usually does – it’s the implementation that normally leave to be desired . . .

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