Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Alright, the last post was harsh. I'm a little calmer now.
The problem here is about methods, I maintain. Most European governments take an essentially defensive view to dealing with terror. Cops, bureaucrats, dare I say it, the European Arrest Warrant. (The EU likes to concentrate on domestic law enforcement, it lets em accrete power with a "good" reason).
The EU's desire to extend its tentacles naturally biases it towards such methods, and European experience with terrorism suggests that it's even the way to go. The IRA and ETA and all the other groups, after all, have been dealt with more or less successfully, on the whole, in this way.
After a while domestic terror groups can be worn down. People get sick of being searched all the time by police, they get sick of their fellow countrymen planting bombs. They want a quiet life. Eventually they start to lose their support, their politics get tarnished - in short, the movement begins to falter. This has happened to the IRA pretty much, its even happened to ETA I believe. European experience suggests this works, Europeans think these methods, concentrated on domestic intervention via police and new laws and such, is the way to go. European experience of using the military has been generally bad. Internment in Northern Ireland and other "hard" approaches didnt work, for example.
What this ignores however is that AQ is not a domestic terror group. It's not the Arabs who are providing tacit or actual support for AQ who are getting worn down by strip searches, bombs, collateral damage, and the intrusiveness of a strong domestic anti terror stance. The 95% of Middle Eastern Arabs who are not nutcases are in the Middle East. They are out of the loop. You can bet that if it was -them- getting stripsearched for their own protection because some of their fellow countrymen just will not give up, that after 20 years, they'd start to get jaded and wonder what the hell its all for, and is it worth it.
But they don't even notice. Its the Europeans getting the police state, the Arabs don't care. This is why we have to go in there and sort them out. Domestic terror can be dealt with by purely domestic solutions, but when the terrorists are coming from Somewhere Else you have to take the fight to them. Assuming you want the problem to end, of course.
Europeans don't get this. Theres a paradigm shift involved here, from domestic terror to an altogether new breed, personified by al-Qaeda. In some ways domestic terror was international, in that the IRA went and trained the FARC and ETA, but thats not quite the same. Their powerbase is still at home, within reach of the laws of the victim country. AQ however, is not.
Again, its not actual cowardice or appeasement, its more like... an incorrect policy. Partly its driven by the fact that most European countries aren't actually capable of acting in force in other countries after idiotically slashing their defence budgets. (What happened to the Bundeswehr is terrible, given that in the 1980s they were probably the best army in the world, man for man). Partly its because of their inability to come to grips with what it is they are facing. Its not the same old IRA here. This is new, and requires new solutions.
As for why Europe can't seem to grasp the thorns, there are probably two major factors here at work. The first is the Europress, which is rabidly anti-American on the whole. Anything the US does is bad. The US should defer to European experience at terrorism. Etc. etc. The message is made all the more powerful by the fact that, on the face of it, the Europeans -do- have more experience dealing with terrorism, though not of the nihilistic AQ variety. The second is the EU itself, which is pushing various political agendas - transnationalism, accretion of power currently held by national parliaments to the supranational EU institutions. Its in the interests of the ruling class to pursue these policies, whether or not they actually work or not.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
It's been a long time since I last posted. Still too busy to post really, but theres a phenomenon going around the internet right now which compels me to respond.
Unless you've been living on Mars the last week, you'll know that a series of al-Qaeda bombs killed 200 and injured over a thousand more in Madrid, that the Socialists won the Spanish election, and that the Socialists have vowed that they will pull out of Iraq.
That, however, is merely the backdrop for the phenomenon that compels me to respond. That phenomenon, ladies and gentlemen, is this :-
The people of Spain marched in the streets on Friday. Then they crawled on their knees into their voting booths on Sunday. (denbeste.nu)
Sir, I humbly submit to you, that it is bad form for a nation to advertise its complete pussification. (coldfury.com)
Or, perhaps, this...
We have seen the spectacle of nine million Spaniards, demonstrating their grief in the streets, their hands raised and painted white in a poignant gesture of mass surrender. (davidwarrenonline.com
Cowards, huh? Let me give you some views from the peanut gallery, as I sit here, in an engineering company's office somewhere in Cambridgeshire. Now, I, as those who've read this blog before and/or know me will know, have long supported the Iraq war, and was optimistic long before the troops even went in. But as you are doubtless aware the British electorate is pretty much on a knife edge on tihs subject. Some agree, some disagree, probably most lie somewhere between the two extremes. Now, lets have a look at the various bodies of opinion which hold sway here.Tony Blair looks like he's been caught telling porkies to the British electorate over weapons of mass destruction. Did Iraq have them, or not? I personally think they are irrelevant pretty much, but when the Prime Minister goes to war, and the casus belli turns out to be at best an exagerration, at worst a deliberate fabrication, that looks pretty bad for the Just War brigade.The other group of people don't really think that Iraq had anything to do with terrorism at all. Maybe it was about oil, but I think most just think it was a mistake (ie, the Americans are wrong in thinking that invading Iraq will make the West more secure). These people are basically isolationist. Good examples can be found over at Airstrip One.Some people just don't like anything the US does, and will oppose it on principle. They are on the Left, the USA is on the Right, and never the twain shall meet. I think these people are just being dogmatic. I so hate closed minds.More people think the whole idea of a "war on terrorism" is hogwash. Terrorism, to these people, is not something you can "war" on. Its not really backed by countries, its more an ideology. I think this attitude is prevalent thanks to the IRA, where such an analysis is pretty much accurate I would say. These people think that the way to solve this is not via soldiers, but police. International terrorism is a different beast I would say, you can't send a few coppers into Syria to serve notices on Khalid the Bomber after all unless the Syrian government lets you, and the Syrian (or Afghan, or Iraqi) governments aren't (or weren't in the case of the Iraqi's) about to do that. But thats an opinion, I suppose, albeit a wrong one in my view.I leave the best till last - there is of course the pro-war camp. Which is itself split, as some pro-war people just love the UN for mystifying reasons, but anyway, there it is.
Now, I think that the above camps (along with the pro-war camp) are pretty much replicated, more or less and with some themes peculiar to each nation, all throughout Europe - and indeed, all throughout America. There are differences, of course, in the number of people in different countries who support each position, but they are, essentially, the positions people take. They are, in short, political opinions that people hold.
Now. Take a closer look... you will find something to disagree with in that spectrum unless your a political weathervane. What is missing in those options?
Simply, whats missing is cowardice. You may disagree with whats going on but that's not indicative of a yellow belly, necessarily - it could be simply because someone disagrees. I know a significant number of people who fit into the "You can't fight terrorism as if it was a war" category, and most of these people are "We should arrest all the IRA and through them in the jailcell, while deporting every Muslim in the country" category. These people patently are not different from the pro-war people because they are cowardly and the hawks are brave, but because of political difference.
I dare say there are a few cowards, but I've not met anybody who is so scared of being blown up on the Tube tomorrow that it will influence their vote. People here are pretty fatalistic about terrorism. Al-Qaeda, IRA, *shrug*, same bombs, new names. The apolitical don't really care about the stripe of the bomber.
And thats the rub, ladies and gentlemen. Cowardice? I'm not an expert on Spain, but lets see if they are a people likely to be fatalistic, or cowardly, about terrorism.
In Spain, every MP not belonging to the political wing of ETA must have a permanent escort lest they be attacked by ETA. Every non-Basque Nationalist Basque city councillor, and even some of the nationalist ones, also have similar escort. ETA managed to shoot the prime minister of Spain in 1973, they tried and failed to kill the Spanish king, they had a go at Aznar and failed, they've been trying to kill Spanish politicians and agents of the Spanish state - judges, policemen, soldiers - for the best part of 20 years.
The Basque Country, you may notice, despite this 20 year long terror campaign, is still a part of Spain.
And you people have the gall to accuse them of cowardice, simply because they disagree with you? If the USA wants other countries electorates to back them up, really back them up, you guys need to do some convincing. It's not that people are cowards. Its that people disagree with you. You've got a tough job, mind. The Europress isn't exactly favourable to the US. But cowardice? These bloggers are not convincing anybody. If the people who make these opinions actually want allies, I suggest they either say some more positive things, educate themselves about how the Spanish have been staunch against terror since before the average US citizen even knew what terror was, or if they can't manage that, bite their damn lip and shut up. Because I have read some crap in my lifetime, but the above posts? Reek of arrogance, ignorance, intolerance, and probably a dozen other negative words I can't be bothered to think up right now.
I will repeat - Someone who does not agree with you about how to deal with terrorism is not necessarily a coward. When that someone has been enduring a terror campaign which is probably beyond American comprehension, to be blunt - I'm not talking about the US army who do have counterterror experience, I'm talking about US society which, pre 9/11, was blissfully and happily ignorant about what real terror is while Spanish officials were getting car bombed - having a few armchair warriors on the internet fulminating like this because another country has the temerity to disagree with you, well, to be honest it makes me sick.
Also, your not going to win buddies with that attitude. Steven Den Beste for example (Who likes to say the French - the guys who butchered Algerians by the thousand, blew up a Greenpeace ship that got in their way, and pressgang nutcases from all over the world into the Foreign Legion - are effeminate, mainly because of their political views - and God knows, I'm no Francophile) makes it very plain that really, he doesn't want European help, and he's proud of that fact. Given that attitude - what do you expect? Instant agreement with every American policy, just because? Scorn in, backup out?
It doesn't work like that guys. I'm sorry.
If any Americans read this, I'm real curious what you think, am I way off base here? Email me, I'm curious.
Monday, January 05, 2004
Well, I'm back from a Christmas of debauchery and drink (not a traditional Christmas at all, I'm afraid), and back reading the news once more.
Soon as I turned to NRO I promptly found something that caused one of my brows to arch in this VDH piece.
Most of it, as per usual, I agree with, so I'm only nitpicking again.
Instead, the elite Westerner talks about “occupied lands” from which Israel has been attacked four times in the last 60 years — in a manner that Germans do not talk about an occupied West they coughed up to France or an occupied East annexed by Poland. Russia lectures about Jenin, but rarely its grab of Japanese islands. Turkey is worried about the West Bank, but not its swallowing much of Cyprus. China weighs in about Palestinian sovereignty but not the entire culture of Tibet; some British aristocrats bemoan Sharon’s supposed land grab, but not Gibraltar.
Eh? Gibraltar? VDH should write about things he knows about, clearly. Him citing Gibraltar as a land grab is a bit ironic really. First, a bit of history. Gibraltar was ceded to the United Kingdom by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which means it's been British for longer than there has even been such a thing as the United States of America. Admittedly it was spoils of war, but every modern nation state in the Americas came originally from spoils of war as well if Gibraltar is said to have done - 300 years down the road I don't think such an allegation is really valid.
Now, that little historical footnote wouldn't really stir me to rebut VDH, but what does is the sheer irony of modern Gibraltarian politics when set against that comment. It so happens that the UK government has been trying to get rid of Gibraltar and give it back to Spain, for reasons of being communautaire in the EU - and besides, Spain has long wanted it back. The Gibraltarians were not even going to be consulted, as being a mere crown dependency they don't get a constitutional say in what happens to them.
However, the Gibraltarians ran their own referendum in dismay to make their views known, and 99% of them wanted to stay as a British dependency. This hasn't stopped our most honourable Tony Blair from doing his level best to get rid of the Rock in return for political kudos from Europe, mind.
In short, bad example, Victor, really bad example. That would cause any supporter of Gibraltar to fulminate.
As an aside, his charge of dislike of Israel being rooted in anti-Semitism rings a bit hollow too. "British aristocrats", eh? Well, I would presume such people would be Tories, and their being anti-Semitic seems a little odd given that the current Tory leader, who has been met with rapture from MPs and rank-and-file alike, is a Jew. Charges of anti-Semitism are, I think as far as British aristocrats are concerned, more than a little trite and actually damage his argument greatly. I figure the "British aristocrat" is probably a mythical figure that carries some resonance in revolutionary America, but here I think myth and reality are somewhat divorced...
Any dislike of Israel on the part of a British Tory is probably not so much due to anti-Semitism but due to things like the Irgun, not base anti-Semitism.
Friday, December 19, 2003
Quite a good article from Steven
here, where he fulminates against the tranzi agenda.
I think I'm even more worried about the tranzi agenda than he is, myself, given that while the USA is in no danger of being gobbled up by anybody, the UK is right now teetering on the edge of the tranzi/EU abyss.
What can I say. Read the whole thing. All of his political points, and his analysis of the politics attached to the War on Terror, I agree with.
One point of contention, nothing to do with his analysis of current events - it's not exactly true that the British got their asses handed to them in Afghanistan, though I know it's currently fashionable to say so. Indeed, I was arguing, before Afghanistan started, that history already taught us how to deal with Afghanistan, just as much as it taught us how not to.
There were three Anglo-Afghan wars, the first around 1840, the second around 1880, and the third around 1920. The third Anglo-Afghan war, nothing more than a few skirmishes, is not considered in the following rant. Some background to explain the reasons why the wars occurred is also necessary, so you can properly understand the British war aims.
The reasons behind the Anglo-Afghan wars was the British desire to form a buffer state to protect British India against the ever-expanding Russian Empire. Afghanistan, and especially the Khyber and Michni passes into India, were deemed to be of strategic importantance in protecting India.
The first Anglo-Afghan war was a straightforward attempt to annex Afghanistan, and it was an unmitigated disaster. The Afghan leader, Dost Mohammed, was easily deposed (his son, also called Dost Mohammed, took over at the end of the war), but the British expeditionary force was forced to retreat in the face of Afghan resistance, and while retreating they were massacred on the way back to India. The expeditionary force consisted of about 4500 soldiers, and another 8000 or so camp followers. Following this loss, the British made a punitive strike against Kabul, with a force entering the city and burning it, before cutting their losses and pulling back to India. The Russians, meanwhile, continued their expansion southwards towards India, and by 1850 the Russians were beginning to encroach on Afghanistan itself. The British war aims had evidently not been realised.
The Second Anglo-Afghan War was still more political, and was a much larger and more serious affair than the first. The British had reopened diplomatic relations with Afghanistan in the intervening years, and had also concluded a treaty with the Russians, agreeing that Afghanistan was to be considered outside Russian or British influence. Thus, during the time between the Afghan wars, the British were satisfied that India was secure from Russian expansion.
In 1878 the Russians sent a diplomatic mission to Afghanistan. The British, feeling threatened, also wished to send a mission, but the Afghan leader, Sher Ali, refused it and threatened that any diplomats would be stopped upon entering the country.
The viceroy of India at the time called Sher Ali's bluff, and a British diplomatic mission was dispatched - the Afghans duly turned it back, thus sparking the second Anglo-Afghan war.
40,000 British troops were sent into Afghanistan in a three pronged attack. Sher Ali attempted to appeal to the Russian tsar for assistance, but was unable to do so given the difficulties of travel in 19th century Central Asia, and the British soon occupied most of the country, with Sher Ali dying in 1879.
Sher Ali's son signed the Treaty of Gandarmak with the British, which relinquished Afghan foreign policy to the British in exchange for no further British encroachment on Afghan lands. An Afghan uprising late in 1979 was put down, but Ali's son then abdicated, probably fearing assassination.
Things then went sour, with the British garrison at Kabul being massacred, and in a replay of the first Afghan war a British retaliatory punitive expedition (the Battle of Maiwand) was a victorious slaughter for the British. After this, the British began to pull out in order. However, before pulling out, the British installed Abdur Rahman Khan as amir of Afghanistan, a master stroke - Rahman being acceptable to the Afghan people, but also to the British.
In the years after the Second Afghan War, it became clear that this time around, the British war aims of creating a buffer state had been successful. During Rahman's reign, the northern border of Afghanistan with Russia was demarcated during the Pandjeh Crisis of 1885, which stopped further Russian advancement towards India. On the southern border with India, the Durand Line was established (not entirely with Rahmans support), with the British claiming a number of militarily significant areas as the buffers they wanted (the Wakhan Corridor) and also deliberately slicing hostile Pashtun tribal lands in two. Thus, the Second Anglo Afghan War was really a tactical loss (a costly military stalemate), but a strategic victory for the British - the Durand Line still marks the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan today, and Afghanistan's foreign policy from that point on was broadly in line with British interests until full independence in the Third Anglo-Afghan war in 1920, by which point the Great Game had begun to move away from Afghan lands.
History tells us that it's quite easy to bring about "regime change" in Afghanistan - in the First and Second Anglo-Afghan wars the amir was killed and a new one put in place. If that's all the war aim is, it's one relatively easily accomplished. That was the war aim of the United States recent intervention in Afghanistan, and it was accomplished, fairly easily. Creating a lasting stability broadly favourable to a foreign power in the area is much harder. I think this was accomplished by the British in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Annexing the area, history teaches us, is an extremely perilous course of action. The Soviets and the British the first time around both tried this, and failed.
The United States learned about the importance of having realisable war aims from Vietnam. It was a lesson hard learned, and also well learned. The US success in Afghanistan is largely a part of "not biting off more than you can chew". But just as the US can rightly claim victory in Afghanistan, even though the nation has not been annexed and is largely lawless because their war aim was topping the Taliban, not taking the place over - the British can claim victory in the latter half of the 19th century, for realising their war aims of setting up a buffer state against Russian advancement, and in delineating the northern borders of British India to British advantage. Annexing Afghanistan was not a war aim for the 19th century British, either.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
I found a classic article in the Guardian
today. It amazes me that Moonbat Monbiot can write this stuff with, one presumes, a straight face. The Guardian is well known as a creator of utter tosh, but this is high grade, refined tosh as it's best.
One wonders if Monbiot has ever flown in a plane before? And one wonders if he has since seen the error of his ways and sticks to using the bus in future? Hypocrisy aside, theres just so much wrong with this that the mind boggles.
All throughout you get the undercurrent of anti-Americanism, a hatred of all things across the sea for it's own sake. Why else is there this snide bullsh*t about the Wright Brothers being frauds?
And as for the evils of the aeroplane, I think soldiers today should thank God for the inventions of those two pieces of military hardware, the aeroplane and the tank. After all, without those, we'd still be using chemical weapons and human wave attacks, probably the most horrible tactics in the history of human warfare, responsible for many an abbatoir in WW1. Ultimately the aeroplane and smart weapons have cut the human costs of warfare, even human costs to an enemy, to an incredible low. In fact, if anything negative can be said about these weapons it's that they are too humane, making war an easy option. "It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it." as General Lee once said. In fact it seems to be an accepted strategy of the modern kleptocrat to use his own people as political weapons to appeal to Western sensibilities, as we've got used to relatively bloodless wars.
And finally, my pet peeve is brought out - an assertion by Moonbat that global warming kills 150,000 people a year, and that aeroplanes represents a large chunk of that cost. Lies, damned lies and statistics as Disraeli said (I'm full of quotes today), and statistics from dubious, contested science is even worse than the sort of guff that Eurostat puts out. The thing that irks the most is the way he brings up this figure, as if it is an absolute, undisputed fact, which is anything but the truth. In any case, if global warming is going to kill us all, I think we should pack Monbiot off to Mars, where all the hot air he produces could do some good.
Anyway, read the article, have a laugh. It amused me, anyway.
Monday, December 15, 2003
Blogging will still be pretty much in hiatus, but I have to make a small post to cover two things...
Firstly, of course, the capture of Saddam. Wonderful news. Perhaps more important to the US than the UK however. In fact, if anything it might make Blair's life even more miserable than it already is. It seems to me that Saddam's capture means the pressure will be on even more than before about the WMD issue. Blair doesn't have any more excuses anymore, they've bagged the Top Man, so where is the nerve gas? If, even after having Saddam interrogated, they come up with nothing, it'll be bad for Blair. Better that Saddam was never found, thus leaving some ambiguity over the WMD question.
And the other comment is - there is a new blog about, specialising in a subject dear to me own heart. EURSOC is an anti-EU blog which looks very interesting. One for the blogroll, definitely.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
While reading my friend Porphyrogenitus' blog, I found this gem
Update: One other thing. One of the reasons I didn't know about this was the fact that I never heard the
BBC EUBC report it on their World Service radio news hour.
Of course, the BBC practically is the EUBC these days. But on reflection, I thought that maybe thats not such a bad thing. I have a suggestion.
We allow the BBC to continue being the "EUBC", but in exchange, the BBC doesn't charge me their onerous license fee. After all, I hate their propaganda, and seeing my hard earned cash going on such things turns my stomach. However, presumably the various Eurocrats love it, so I think -they- should pay for it.
I'm sure d'Estaing would appreciate that, an opportunity to make a selfless donation to the Voice of the People.
They can pay for their propaganda out of their own pocket, not mine.