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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I know I have these sorts of moans every once in a while. Recently I have been having one of those phases again, where everything just seems to be going wrong for no good reason and people who should know better don’t.

Look at the Lebanon war’s aftermath. The outcome of Tzahal’s very lacklustre performance has left the Hizb’allah in place, albeit weakened. But what is happening now is that Lebanese and international troops are going to moved into position in between the Hizb’allah’s fighters. As these forces are neither willing nor capable of disarming the militia, that means that inevitable there will be a second round of fighting at some point in the future. And when it comes to that Israel will find itself seriously hamstrung by the presence of these forces. Diplomatically this will make serious Israeli action nigh on impossible. The result will be that Hizb’allah will become ever more stronger and aquire ever better weapons from Iran with ever more destructive consequences. Tremendously stupid outcome. Peace will only come about when the Hizb’allah ceases to exist as an armed force. This should be clear to any decent analyst. Perhaps that is the reason why so far troop commitments have been so weakly.

But talking of which, if all these countries can stump up thousands of troops for a dangerously counterproductive mission in Lebanon, why not reroute them and deploy them to Afghanistan. Here there are some real difficulties, and here it matters as we cannot allow the Taliban to retake the country. With the highly unpopular prospect of German forces being deloyed beyond their breaking point, I wonder why the Italians and the French can send their forces further eastwards. On the other hand, I can’t avoid the sly suspicion that there are people, particularly in Paris, who wouldn’t mind failure in Afghanistan too much as it is currently a NATO-mission.

I remember Geoffrey van Orden warning that the possible failure by NATO would do massive and possibly irrevocable political damage to the alliance. Together with ever stronger anti-Americanism this could finally seal Britain’s fate by taking away our alternatives to being sucked into the EU ever further. Actually, I didn’t really expect much of a debate about this. Still despressing though.

Another point I have to raise is the possibilty that some of the Afghan troubles are due to Britain being the de-facto lead nation in the south. After the desastrous conduct of Britain in Iraq recently, the Taliban would be quite likely to conclude that this former lion was already half on the run. So why not prod and prick him a bit more and he might grant you a great victory by buckling under political pressure and doing a completely runner. And when you’ve got him on the run why not take a few more shots, he might even give himself up completely. There is no such thing as conciliation toward totalitarian and fanatical enemies. All such moves will be seen as weakness, which will simply invite more attacks. When will we learn?

And this is just the foreign arena. At home we have more immigration nonsense doing the rounds. I’m sorry but we if we let countries into the EU, we have to give them full membership. If we don’t they will simply go adrift and go slack on maintaining the already shaky membership conditions. The same will be the case for other potential new members. Once they start seeing that they will not be admitted properly they might stop trying. This will probably mean that they will also stop reforming their governance structures. The consequence will be less stability and security in the EU’s neighbourhood. This is exactly the thing the EU exists to prevent. That people don’t seem willing to see this simply point just annoys me.

If the consequence of more EU-migrants is wage pressure that is a problem that can and should be fixed at home. As for the real problem of poverty and unemployment in Britain, that is unrelated to immigration. This is down to economic overcentralisation withouth labour flexibility, to rotten educational and social circumstances of Britain’s poorest, who simply are either unwilling or unable to take up any kind of employment. This is the big problem underlying the current row. But nobody seems to be paying much attention to their plight.

Part of this is the media’s fault for pandering to headline grabbing tales of foreign welfare scroungers or alternatively of rampant racism in Britain. Because I’m in a bad mood I’m going to pick on the Daily Mail in particular. What we see here is a complete misunderstanding of some of Britain’s big challenges. We need to be engaged in the EU, and accepting migrant workers from new member states is a price we have to be wiling to pay, if indeed it is a cost, rather than an advantage. Ok, so I’m Eurosceptic too, but the Mail doesn’t seem to be serious about this. Sure it’s views on the EU are far more hostile than mine, by far. What matters however is the context in which this debate has Britain positioned. Because the one thing that really drives me bonkers about the Mail is its anti-Americanism, which certainly wouldn’t look out of place in the Indy or Groan. Now, fine you may say, the Daily Mail is for isolationism, which would certainly fit its generally closed-minded and parochial approach. Theoretically this is a legitimate view to take. However in practice this is simple nonsense. Spreading anti-Americanism is absolute poison for the Eurosceptic cause. The only political forces in Britain that can utilise anti-American sentiment are those of staunch Eurofederalism. Isolationism, for better or for worse, is a non-option in British politics. If you really want to keep us out of the EU, the attractiveness of the alternative avenues of influence, the special relationship and NATO needs to be fostered. In the current circumstances there is little emotional energy focused on the EU, but far too much on America. So if the Daily Mail wants to keep us out of the European superstate perhaps its commentary and reporting ought to reflect this. Blaming more and more of our ills from terrorism to trashy television on America will simply drive the British into the arms of Eurofederalism. Can the Mail’s chiefs really be so misguided as not to see this?

Just some things I needed to get off my chest. I’m feeling better already.

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