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   Monday, December 02, 2002
I feel the need to respond to this article, being a European without much anti-Americanism running through my veins.

I can only speak for the UK, not being a German and never having visited any other European nation (not very communautaire, me). While Leftists in the UK may sputter hatred about America (As I understand it, those on the Left in the USA itself do exactly the same thing) but in general, the UK is no more (or less) anti-American than it ever was.

I think the old "over sexed, over paid and over here" attitude is still there, a sort of faintly condescending attitude perhaps, but there is still an empathy nevertheless. Bearing in mind that the Left is currently in government, I think it telling that those in power know that anti-Americanism is not an option. The electorate wouldn't like it. There's a difference between rivalry and hatred. In fact - based again on my own experience with Americans, Americans have a really hard time dealing with rivalry. Some Americans take any form of disagreement as an excuse to let rip and be offensive. Random example, I don't believe that firearms should be legalised on the level that they are in the US, though I do believe that the current self defence laws are woeful. Americans may point to the UK's higher crime statistics, I point in return to the US's vastly higher homicide rate. Thats not an anti-American ideal, its just one point where I would prefer a different solution. You guys want guns? Fine, I don't mind, I don't live in the US. I don't, however. :)
But some Americans take any form of disagreement almost as a declaration of war, and no, I do not mean spirited debate the subject, I mean straight to the insults. As in, "agree with us on every issue, or your clearly anti-American". I'm sure some of these people I've brushed with think I'm an anti-American, but I would describe myself as a pro-American yet patriotic Brit. I admire America, and I wish the UK would be more like America in a number of ways. However I don't think America is perfect, and I don't want the UK to -be- America.

I can't really speak for mainland Europe, but given we share the same language, we watch the same TV, we generally have the same views about the world, and we don't have a commission ruthlessly weeding out imported American words like the French do, I honestly do believe that there is a bond between the UK and the USA and one which, if it is weakened, is not weakened by us, but more by our association with those who have always been vitrolicially anti-American, such as the French. While people may consider Europe our closest ally, I think it's in a different sense, a more "civilian" sense. I don't think people feel a kinship with the French Army at all, but people expect to see the RAF and British Army alongside the US whenever something military or intelligence related happens.

Incidentally I think the birth rates are low because people are so poor. You have two choices. Either your unemployed and the State provides, and you can have 13 kids without any problem. But if your actually employed, to pay for and look after lots of children, it simply can't be done. The house prices alone in the UK are insane, and you can't raise lots of children in a little flat, let alone pay for their education (there is currently pretty much zero support for paying university fees in this country for example). In my own case it's certainly not from any miserliness on my part, I know what can be done and what cannot, I can look around where I live and think "This place isn't suitable for 5 children" and I know how much a place that would be costs. Neither do I plan on becoming a permanently unemployed drain on the public purse.

I think it's a dark time for the UK at present as we have the misfortune of a Labour government. No Labour government in British history ever had a beneficial effect on this country IMHO. The current Conservative crop of politicians are useless, I despair at seeing their bungling ineptitude on the news, I just hope to God that eventually the Tories revive themselves and can fix some of the damage. Basically, we need another Thatcher, and soon, but there are none available.

What the? Are these UN inspectors mad, communist, or Saddam's agents? I hope all that billions of taxpayers money (after all the UN is funded by taxation) is spent on something a bit more effective than this so far apparently pathetic effort.

I guess Republican Americans will not like me for saying this, but I was actually a fan of the UN involvement. It adds credibility to any form of police action, and while the UN has a reputation for foot dragging, its uselesslness has not historically been entirely proven accurate it seems to me (Korean War for example). The UN's past performance hasn't always been as bad as is made out, and it's a useful diplomatic stage (that was certainly it's role in the Falklands it seems to me, where Britain was in danger of being tarred with the colonial brush).

Just as Britain could have been accused when fighting Galtieri of Argentina of being an evil imperialist overlord, the USA is in a similar argument with doves everywhere, and the stage of the UN doubtless provides a good platform for bringing the doves around, for giving the military action some cross spectrum support.

But on the other hand, these inspectors are basically appointed apparatchiks, and their performance may be either abysmal or excellent. If excellent, great, my opinion of the UN will go up a notch. If abysmal, they could prove to be a real chain around the neck of the West next year.

In short, while I think the UN approach gives real political advantage if handled correctly (liberals so love the UN after all, they can hardly argue with it should the UN authorise military intervention), it could so easily turn into a problem. I hope American and British statesmanship will prove able to get the best out of the UN in the coming months.

   Sunday, December 01, 2002
I just had to laugh at this antifascist website. Anticommunism is one of the roads to fascism? Oh please.

I've read in my ambles through the internet a body of opinion that says that the Cold War was never truly won. After WW2 Fascism was discredited and cast down to such an extent it's still not a credible political movement today 50 years on. Any "Fascist" party appearing in the western world nowadays would be beyond the political pale, you need look no further than Haider in Austria to see the reaction any would-be neo-Nazi's might get upon attaining even a hint of power.

Communism on the other hand - communism was never really cast down, removed as a viable form of politics in the way that fascism was. I'm a part of the body of opinion that says the Cold War was never won, when I see drivel like that antifascist site on the internet. It's a relic from the 1930s, and Communism isn't the Utopia that was promised, it was more like a living hell.

Ask an East German, they sure know. In fact, they know about Communism so well, they're more likely to tip the other way and be fascist.

You would have thought with all these failed political experiments in the dustbin of history (has there ever been a communist nation you would want to live in over a democratic one?) people would learn. One day perhaps people will learn, and then the Cold War will be truly over.

Observe this. I can't see why it's any business of the FBU chief to start making remarks about foreign policy, but those on the Left can't resist any dig at anything military related.

When inflation is running at 2%, as it currently is, any rise over 2% (they've been offered 4%) means an increasing public sector burden. Given all the remarks I've seen about the FBU's resistance to change (for example, they don't allow part time and full time firefighters to work together), I get the impression that they are just another dinosaur from twenty years ago, willing to blackmail the Government for money.

30,000 pounds a year for a firefighter? Where do I sign up? Actually, it's not even worth signing up given there are 40 applicants for every vacancy. Obviously, a really unpopular job, in need of higher salaries...

The fact that a fire strike puts peoples lives at risk merely makes it more despicable then say, the miners strikes of the 80s.