Thursday, June 29, 2006

The World Cup Worst XI

FIFA is currently selecting its 'squad of the tournament' -the players who have performed the best in this year's World Cup. But what about the biggest flops of the tournament?
Here's my selection from today's First Post.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

June 28th : An Important Anniversary

It's exactly five years ago today that President Milosevic of Yugoslavia was illegally kidnapped and sent to the kangaroo court at The Hague, established and funded by the very powers who had waged illegal war against his country two years earlier.
It is also the anniversary of another important event in recent Balkan history: Milosevic's speech at Kosovo field in 1989. According to the NWO Rewrite of History, this was the occasion on which Milosevic 'whipped up ancient ethnic hatreds' as part of a devilish plan to cement his domestic power base.
I enclose a link to a translation of the whole speech below. Read it and then reflect on why the propagandists for the NWO have been so keen to misrepresent its contents.

It's time to make murderers pay the ultimate price

Another day, another story of horrific murder in Britain. 18 year old former public schoolgirl Kemi Adeyoola stabbed defenceless 84- year old Anne Mendel 14 times in a fiendish, premeditated murder for 'research' into a book she was planning to write. Adeyoola is expected to be sentenced to life imprisonment-but don't bank on her spending her life behind bars: the average 'life' sentence in Britain is now just over ten years.
There are those on the liberal- left, (Polly Toynbee and Roy Hattersley to name but two) who think rising violent crime is an invention of the tabloid press. But ostrich-style poses aren't going to solve the problem.
The restoration of capital punishment is not the only measure we need to take- but it would at least be a start. It would be a clear and unequivocal statement from our society on the high value we place on human life and why we regard those who take the lives of others as having irrevocably broken their contract with society.
Anne Mendel's bereaved husband Leonard has moved to Israel to live with his daughter. He obviously feels that even with the instability and dangers there- it's still a safer option than the mean streets of London.
What an indictment that is.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A better world is the ultimate goal

How has the World Cup been for you?
Here are my thoughts on the competition, from today's The Australian.,20876,19597669-7583,00.html
Sadly, the Socceroos were knocked out today by a controversial last second penalty-but it'll take a long time before we forget their battling performances in the group stage.
The less said about England's abject performances the better.......

A better world is the ultimate goal

The gathering of the soccer tribes epitomises a different form of globalisation
June 27, 2006

REGARDLESS of how the Socceroos fared in this morning's second-round match with Italy, let's agree on one thing: the World Cup has been sensational. Not only for the quality of the soccer we have seen, the tremendous spirit of the players and the spectacular goals, but for the unprecedented way in which it has brought together people from across the world.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the nuclear arms race were supposed to usher in global peace and understanding. Sadly, it never happened. Instead, since 1990 the world has become more divided, more dangerous, more unstable. The globalisation model that was adopted - involving the imposition of a one-size-fits-all political, economic and social template by the world's wealthiest nations, if necessary by military force - has not made the world a smaller, friendlier place. If anything, it has pushed peoples further apart.

The World Cup represents an alternative model of globalisation, and a far better one: it involves not the domination of one country or economic system over another, but the celebration of global diversity and respect for, rather than the destruction of, national sovereignty. All across the world, people are once again taking delight in their national identity, to the horror of globalists of the Left and Right. In Germany, flags are once more fluttering on rooftops: a sign that, 60 years after the horrors of World WarII, the country has at last returned to normality. The exuberant, attacking football Jurgen Klinsmann's team has played embodies the spirit of the new Germany: positive, confident, looking forward rather than back.

Australia, too, has advertised its finest, most admirable qualities to a global audience. The never-say-die attitude and buccaneering spirit the Socceroos showed in their matches against Japan, Brazil and Croatia will live long in the memory. Ditto the astonishing ball skills of the Ivory Coast, the best team not to make it to the knock-out stage.

The US has also won friends and admirers, even among those who regard its foreign policy with disdain. Bruce Arena's team played with courage and tenacity, and support for it exposed just how misguided are those who seek to politicise the World Cup. For instance, the World Development Movement's website offers advice on which countries we should be supporting on "ethical" grounds. Each country in the World Cup was assessed according to criteria ranging from health spending to carbon emissions: Ghana came first (the most supportable), the US last.
All very useful, but not when football matches are at stake. The Ghanaian team's play-acting and the blatant dive that earned it a decisive penalty in its match with the US would have raised the hackles of any neutrals, regardless of the country's superior record on greenhouse gases. And which pathetic souls would have cheered on Croatia against Australia on the basis that it stands at No.6 in the WDM's ethical assessment, while Australia is at No.28?

The po-faced politicisers fail to understand that in football, it's how teams play the game that determines the reaction of neutral supporters, not the policies of their governments. I knew nothing about The Netherlands or its politics when as a child I cried myself to sleep the night Johan Cruyff's magical team undeservedly lost the 1974 final. And my views on the war in Iraq had no bearing on my cheering on the nine-man US squad in its heroic, gutsy performance against Italy. The World Cup should be about transcending political differences, not extending them.

In Germany, if not on, that has largely been achieved. The atmosphere in the cities of the host nation, apart from the boorish behaviour of a minority of England fans, has been incredible, with supporters from all across the world - from Togo to Paraguay and Iran to South Korea - mingling peacefully. Each set of supporters has brought something special to the tournament: the Trinidadians and Tobagans their steel bands, the Togolese their witch doctors, the Aussies their irrepressible enthusiasm.
My favourite images of the tournament include Argentinian and Mexican fans linking arms together in the stadium in Leipzig during their teams' second-round tie, and a stunningly beautiful German girl, her face painted in black, red and gold, blowing a kiss to the world's television audience during her country's victory over Sweden.

The legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once remarked: "Some people think football is a matter of life and death ... I can assure them it is much more serious than that." He was right. The past three weeks have done more to engender a spirit of global community than any politician, pop star or secretary-general of the UN ever could.

Britain's most miserable sportsman

Anyone for tennis?
It's the first day of Wimbledon -but I won't be cheering on Andy Murray.
Here's my piece from today's First Post on a man who makes Fraser from Dad's Army seem like a court jester.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Things could get even worse in Iraq

Here's my piece from today's The Australian on why the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is yet another false 'turning point' in the conflict.,20867,19438356-7583,00.html

Things could get even worse in Iraq
Only the withdrawal of coalition troops will mark a genuine turning point
June 12, 2006

FIRST, it was the pulling down of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad. Then it was the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Then the capture of Saddam himself. After that, the elections. After that, the formation of a government. And now it's the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. For the sixth time, the supporters of the Iraq war are proclaiming a "turning point" in the conflict. And for the sixth time, we can be fairly sure it won't be.

Make no mistake: al-Zarqawi was a fiend and no one should mourn his demise. But it would be a grave mistake to believe that with the Jordanian terrorist dead, the insurgency will now fade away. After all, individuals such as al-Zarqawi no longer control - if they ever did - the inferno in Iraq. Neither do international terror networks such as al-Qa'ida. In the 1990s, foreign jihadists did play a crucial role in fighting for the radical Islamist cause in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Algeria.
But in Iraq, such is the strength of local opposition to the occupation, foreign insurgents such as al-Zarqawi have been surplus to requirements. Out of all the fighters and suspected insurgents killed or detained by the occupation and Iraqi forces, only 10 per cent have been foreign.

The home-grown nature of the Iraqi rebellion is an unpalatable truth that the coalition's leaders refuse to publicly acknowledge. To do so would mean conceding that a large section of the Iraqi population do not see coalition forces as "liberators" but as a hostile army of occupation. Far better to paint a picture of a conflict prolonged by international terror networks such as al-Qa'ida and devilish frontmen such as al-Zarqawi.
There is a strong case for saying that if al-Zarqawi had not existed the allies would have had to invent him. After the capture of Saddam in December 2003, the bearded, bloodthirsty fanatic fitted the bill of new western bogeyman perfectly: who, when faced with George Bush's declaration "either you are with us or with the terrorists", would elect to be on the side of a man who bombed wedding receptions and who broadcast the beheading of foreign hostages on the internet.
Even before the invasion, the allies were getting their full money's worth from the Jordanian psychopath. As part of the propaganda offensive to link a secular Baathist regime to the decidedly unsecular atrocities of 9-11, a solemn Colin Powell told the UN Security Council in February 2003 that al-Zarqawi, who had met Osama bin Laden in 2002, was operating from inside Iraq.
It was a deception on two grounds. First, al-Zarqawi did not at the time belong to al-Qa'ida. Second, the area of northern Iraq where al-Zarqawi was based was outside the control of both Saddam and Kurdish forces. The subsequent invasion of Iraq and the chaos that ensued enabled al-Zarqawi to move down from his mountain valley and expand his operations: the war on terror thus helping foment the very terrorism it was supposed to be countering.

With al-Zarqawi - who recently released an audio tape urging fellow Sunnis to kill Shias - now out of the way, things could get even worse for the coalition. The ultimate nightmare for Bush and Blair is a united Sunni-Shia anti-occupation front: al-Zarqawi's death doesn't make that likely, only more possible.
Abdul-Satar al-Samarri, a leader of the influential Muslim Clerics Association, a Sunni group critical of al-Zarqawi and his attempt to incite inter-Muslim conflict, has called for "honest and true resistance that is away from chaos, killing innocents and policemen and sabotaging infrastructure". The aim being "to kick the occupation out of the country".
By inflaming Sunni-Shia tensions and eschewing the al-Samarri approach, al-Zarqawi was actually doing the invaders a favour. Prominent neo-conservative Daniel Pipes, who had boldly predicted in 2003 that "the war in Iraq will lead to a reduction in terrorism", argued in February that while a Sunni-Shia civil war would be a humanitarian catastrophe, it would not be a strategic one. "The bombing on February 22 of the Askariya (Shia) shrine in Samarra was a tragedy, but it was not an American or a coalition tragedy. Put differently, when Sunni terrorists target Shiites and vice versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt." Pipe's assessment might seem brutal to some, but it is at least honest.

In reality, the underlying cause of the instability in Iraq is not ancient religious tensions or the presence of foreign terrorists such as al-Zarqawi but the presence of the foreign forces of the coalition.
On the day that al-Zarqawi's death was announced, a string of bombs killed at least 31 people and injured 55 in Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed 13 at a crowded market, while three car bombs, one aimed at a police car, claimed the other victims. Death and destruction have become part of the post-invasion daily routine in Mesopotamia: there were 1400 deaths by violent means recorded in May 2006 by Baghdad's central morgue alone.
A full withdrawal by coalition forces may lead to a temporary escalation of hostilities but still offers the best and only chance of lasting peace for the long-suffering Iraqi people. It would also, at long last, represent a genuine "turning point".

Friday, June 09, 2006

Let the Carnival begin!

Just two hours before the greatest show on Earth kicks off in Germany.
For all the latest World Cup news, check out The First Post's World Cup Intelligence, online every day for 1pm.
I'll be writing match previews and in the Office Sweepstake section offering some words of hope for those of you who drew the likes of Togo, Ecuador and Saudi Arabia in your office/works sweepstake. My wife drew Switzerland in hers, so if England don't make it lets hope Kobi Kuhn's boys do!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hypocrisy and Death Penalties

The reaction of Tony Blair to the news of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq once again highlights the hypocritical attitude of pro-war opponents of capital punishment.
There is an intellectual consistency in the arguments of those (like the Quakers) who oppose both war and capital punishment on the grounds that it is always wrong for the State to take life. And, much as I disagree with them, there is a similar consistency in the arguments of pro-war, pro-capital punishment commentators like our old friend Stephen Pollard. But there is no consistency at all in the arguments of those who express approval of the execution of al-Zarqawi by F-16s - but who would oppose the same man's execution after a trial.
Here's my piece from The Australian on the confused thought processes of Tony Blair and his Australian counterpart, John Howard.

Neil Clark: Hypocrisy and death penalties
August 11, 2003

RECENT events have highlighted the intellectual inconsistency of both Australia's and Britain's political elites to the issue of capital punishment. Not so long ago, we heard Foreign Minister Alexander Downer speak of Australia's "universal and consistent opposition to capital punishment", as he intervened to prevent Sydney woman Le My Linh being executed in Thailand for drug trafficking.
A few months later, as Prime Minister John Howard hails as "appropriate" the death sentence passed by an Indonesian court on the Bali bomber Amrozi, it is apparent just how "universal and consistent" Australia's opposition really is.
In Britain, meanwhile, Tony Blair's thought processes appear even more disturbed. As befits a lawyer with impeccable Left-liberal credentials, Blair has never made any secret of his opposition to the "barbarism" of capital punishment.
The British Prime Minister has a problem with executing people after they have been found guilty of a capital offence in a court of law.
But having taken his country into five military conflicts in six years, it is clear that he has no problem with state-ordered killing per se. For Blair, the recent deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein were "great news".
Yet if he thinks Saddam Hussein's brutish sons deserved to die (even though they had not been convicted of murder in a court of law) why, then, doesn't he believe that Harold Shipman, the convicted English serial killer, who murdered more than 200 of his trusting, unsuspecting patients, deserves to meet his maker too?
Blair's squeamishness over state-sponsored executions mysteriously vanishes when it comes to supporting the US in its assassination attempts on world leaders who stand in its way.
Back in 1999, NATO launched a cruise missile attack on the Belgrade villa of Yugoslavia's president Slobodan Milosevic, based on intelligence reports that he was at home. Similar attempts were made on the lives of Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan two years later. At present, US and British forces are engaged in a manhunt for Saddam Hussein – and don't seem too concerned whether they take him dead or alive.
In the words of Paul Bremer, the US supremo in Iraq, "the sooner we kill him or capture him the better".
From a US administration that accepts the state's right to take life, such a policy cannot be said to be hypocritical. But for an anti-hanging British Prime Minister to support it so enthusiastically surely is.
Unlike Blair, I have a problem with summary execution, but none with capital punishment when, in a rule of law, due process democracy, a murderer has been found guilty after a fair trial.
Leaving aside arguments of deterrence, the main moral argument for the death penalty is that murder, being such a terrible and unique crime, warrants a unique punishment.
Any other punishment devalues the crime and simply does not give the victim the respect that he/she deserves. The state should execute a murderer not because it holds life in low regard, but precisely because it holds the lives of those that the murderer dispatched in such high regard. Capital punishment is pro and not anti-life.
Last week's sentence passed in Indonesia on Amrozi was therefore a just one. Whether his execution will turn him into a martyr is a matter for debate. But it is right and just that a man found guilty of prematurely ending the lives of 202 people should himself pay the ultimate penalty.
Although convinced of the moral case for capital punishment, I can fully respect the arguments of those who, from a pacifist viewpoint, argue that it is always wrong for the state to take life, in whatever circumstances.
But this is not the position that Blair and most opponents of the death penalty argue from.
Recent events show us that it is the supporters of the death penalty who are the true upholders of due process, and not decidedly non-pacifistic anti-hangers such as Tony Blair, who would shoot first and ask questions afterwards.
What the British Prime Minister seems to believe in is a very crude form of summary justice which may very well belong in the OK Corral, but surely not in a 21st-century democracy.
With their contradictory stances on capital punishment, both the British and Australian prime ministers have much explaining to do.
Could Blair kindly tell us why he endorsed the dropping of four 1000kg bombs on a Baghdad restaurant where Saddam Hussein was thought to be dining, but why he would not support the execution of the ex-Iraqi leader if he were found guilty of capital crimes in a court of law?
And could Howard please explain why Australian murderers should not be executed for killing Australian citizens but Indonesians should be?

Multinationals: Hands off our water (2)

On Monday, I drew attention to a Daily Telegraph piece by Kendra Okonski, of the International Policy Network, on the need for an even more 'free market' approach to water provision.
It's good to see DT readers were as underwhelmed as I was by her arguments.
Here's what C.D.Button from East Sussex had to say:

I fundamentally disagree with Kendra Okonksi. Water is a basic element essential to life. It should not be in private hands and subject to the vagaries of the commercial market. There is ample water available on this isalnd as a whole. The government and successive administrations should be working towards a state-owned national grid- however long it takes and however much it costs.

Yesterday, in my Morning Star article on Tony Benn's book Arguments for Socialism, I commented on how millions of Britons could not understand why our country does not have a national water grid. The answer of course, is an absence of long-term strategic planning. It's time to ditch outdated free market dogma once and for all and for the state to provide this country with the up-to-date infrastructure it is so sadly lacking.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blueprint for Socialism

Arguments for Socialism by Tony Benn is a book that has had a big influence on my political thinking. Here's my article from today's Morning Star on the book's continuing relevance - and how it can provide a blueprint for a democratic socialist renewal in Britain.

Blueprint for Socialism

It’s nearly thirty years since the book Arguments for Socialism by Tony Benn was first published. Yet far from being out of date, this thought-provoking collection of Benn’s speeches, lectures and articles from the period 1974-79, is as relevant to Britain’s problems today as it was on the day it was published.
Back in the mid 1970s, it seemed to many that Britain was moving inexorably towards socialism. In February 1974, the Labour Party had ousted the Tory government, fighting the general election on its most left-wing manifesto since 1935. Labour’s radicalism was rewarded with another election victory in October of the same year, one which gave the party a working majority in Parliament. Tony Benn, a strong supporter of Labour’s programme and Industry Minister in the new administration, quickly became a hate figure for the Conservative-supporting media. Likened to Adolf Hitler in the Daily Express and labelled a ‘demon mugger’ by the Daily Mail, Benn was caricatured as a wild-eyed extremist, the man who, with his plans to extend public ownership and democratic control of industry, would lead Britain to ruin. In fact, all Benn wanted was for Labour to carry out its democratically endorsed manifesto commitments: to bring about ‘a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people and their families’- and to make sure that the British economy worked in the interests of the majority of the population - and not foreign owned multinationals and financial institutions.

In Arguments for Socialism, Benn put forward a powerful case for the extension of public ownership. He detailed how, in the four years prior to 1974, over £3bn of taxpayers money had been ploughed by the government into the coffers of private companies, without the state acquiring any equity in return. Benn firmly believed that no subsidies should be made to private industry without the state acquiring ownership rights and saw the newly set-up National Enterprise Board as a way the government could extend public ownership into the most profitable areas of industry- eventually extending its influence over ‘a very substantial area of the economy’.

Shamefully, Prime Minister Harold Wilson caved in to pressure from the Tory press and the CBI to have Benn replaced as Industry Secretary after only a year in the job, and the National Enterprise Board was never given the funding it required to fulfil its duties. For the next four years, Benn served as Minister for Energy and saw at first hand the enormous pressure foreign multinationals attempted to exert on democratically elected governments. Under the previous Tory government, licences to exploit North Sea oil had been given to oil companies without provision for any of the oil to be directed to meet UK needs. Benn’s response was to set up the British National Oil Corporation, a state-owned enterprise, to ensure that the country would derive maximum benefit from the development of new oilfields and to press for a North Sea oil development fund. Benn wanted oil revenues to be ring-fenced for Britain’s industrial regeneration and not used to finance unemployment benefits or short-term tax cuts. At the time, his approach was derided as ‘statist’ and attacked by free market propagandists. Yet, across the North Sea, Norway did follow the path of state intervention and established a national Oil Company (Statoil) and a State Petroleum Fund for the country’s future. Norway’s reward for eschewing the Thatcherite path is to be officially accorded the distinction of the richest country in the world, with its State Petroleum Fund, (now known as The National Pension Fund), currently showing a surplus of $210bn.

Had Britain followed the programme for industrial renewal Benn outlined in Arguments for Socialism, not only would we now be a more prosperous country, with an industrial base and up to-date infrastructure, but also a more democratic one. Benn understood, perhaps more than any other politician of his time, that if economic power lies elsewhere, in the boardrooms of the multinationals, or in the offices of un-elected bureaucrats in Brussels, then democracy too, is adversely affected. In Benn’s view, extending public ownership and restricting the power of multinationals was not only economically desirable, but together with other measures such as abolition of the House of Lords, more open government and pulling out of the EEC, was essential for reclaiming democratic control. ‘If we don’t own and control them (monopoly capital), they will own and control us‘, Benn told the Labour conference in 1973: how prescient those words have turned out to be.

Although Labour had been elected on a radical programme in 1974, international capital and members of the party’s right-wing did all they could to prevent the government from carrying out its manifesto commitments. The turning point came in 1976, when a run on the pound prompted Labour to approach the IMF for a loan. Benn, along with Cabinet colleagues Peter Shore and Michael Foot were strongly opposed to such a course, arguing that Labour should instead embark on an ‘Alternative Economic Strategy’ of increased public spending, compulsory planning agreements with industry, nationalisation and the introduction of import controls.

Time has of course, proved the dissenters right. Labour’s credibility was tarnished by acceptance of the IMF loan and Prime Minister Callaghan’s shift to a more conservative economic agenda only paved the way for the election of Margaret Thatcher and the eventual destruction of manufacturing industry in Britain. Sad though it is to reflect on what might have been, the wheel has now moved full circle and it is the socialist left, who once again, who have the momentum. As Tony Benn himself has said, public opinion today is far to the left of the pro-big business, pro-war junta that goes by the name of a Labour government. Dissatisfaction with privatisation is at an all-time high: opinion polls shows that around 75% would like the re-nationalisation of our privatised railway system- which costs the taxpayer four times more than British Rail. Millions of Britons fail to understand why we have no national water grid, or the logic of an energy policy in which a country which has hundreds of years of coal under its soil, sends young men thousands of miles away to be killed in wars over control of energy supplies. Unsurprisingly, when so many important decisions affecting our lives are taken elsewhere, there is a widespread apathy towards the political process, with around 40% of people electing not to vote in the last two General elections. At the same time, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen: the top 0.1% in Britain have now returned their share of income to the level of the 1930s.

In 1975, Tony Benn won a standing ovation at the Labour Party Conference for declaring ‘we are here not to manage capitalism, but to change society and find its finer values’.
Thirty years on, the arguments for socialism are more compelling than ever.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Don't vote for warmongers

Here's a great initiative from across the pond, which I wholeheartedly endorse. It's time to get a similar petition organised in Britain.

Multinationals: Hands off our water

I have long argued that there should be much greater transparency when it comes to journalists writing comment pieces for the national press. The reader has a right to know what financial interest, if any, the writer has in the area under discussion. Today's Daily Telegraph contains a piece by Kendra Okonski, arguing that water privatisation hasn't gone far enough.
The state should stop telling the private water companies what to do, and allow them to charge the market rate for their water. 'Customers should pay for every drop' Okonski opines- regardless of course of their ability to pay. At the foot of the piece the Telegraph mentions that Okonski is 'Envirnomental Director of International Policy Network' . Sound pretty bland doesn't it? I wonder how many Daily Telegraph readers will go the trouble of finding out who funds the IPN? If they knew, they would take Ms Okonksi's expressed concern for 'the environment' with a huge barrow-load full of salt.
Here's the lowdown on Okonski and the IPN from Sourcewatch.

And here's our great British water expert speaking to the American Enterprise Institute (!) in March 2006:

Kendra Okonski: Yeah, I’ll answer that one too. The U.K. has a privatized water system. I have to admit I don’t know much about the details of how it was done.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Who needs facts when you're Niall Ferguson?

Never be fooled into thinking that because someone holds the title 'Professor'- he or she will be a font of wisdom, knowledge and insight. Just think of Timothy Garton-Ash, Professor of European Studies at Oxford University, who recently wrote that Slobodan Milosevic was the leader of Yugoslavia when Slovenia declared independence in 1991!. Niall Ferguson is another academic who doesn't let little things like facts get in the way of a good argument. Here's an extract from his Sunday Telegraph piece today. You'd think from reading it that Iran has already stated its ambition to develop nuclear weapons. It hasn't. Neither has it made any claim that nuclear missiles are its 'right'; on the contrary, the Supreme Leader of Iran has issued a fatwah prohibiting their development. Still, never mind. Who needs to bother with little things like facts when you're a highly-paid Professor at Harvard and cheerleader for the most powerful Empire the world has ever seen?

'The new American diplomacy will be effective only if the Iranians are left in no doubt: they cannot have nuclear missiles. They are not a "right", as they like to claim, but a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory, and a threat to peace. They can renounce them in return for some fat, juicy carrots, or in response to some irksome sticks. But if they press on regardless, they will invite a Clausewitzian response.
The best line in X-Men: The Last Stand is uttered by Sir Ian McKellen, as Magneto. "They wish to cure us," he thunders, "but I say, we are the cure." Many people around the world have wanted to cure the Bush administration of its belief in armed force as a legitimate instrument of policy. But if Iran spurns Condi's carrots and sticks, then the old, pre-mutant Bush will indeed be the only cure.'

As an antidote to Ferguson's obnoxious pro-war propaganda, here's a superb piece from Jonathan Steele on Iran from Friday's Guardian.,,1788481,00.html

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A 'Once in a Lifetime Bet' (If You Are a Prat)

Here's Stephen Pollard on a 'once in a lifetime bet' in today's Derby.
Result: both Visindar and Championship Point finished unplaced.
The funniest thing about this whole episode is this comment from one of Pollard's sycophantic readers, who put £100 on Visindar because of Pollard's confidence:
You better be as right about this as you are about political things.
What political things would they be, I wonder?
His prediction that Alan Johnson would replace Charles Clarke as Home Secretary?
His strong support for the Iraq war?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Not so Sweet, Georgia Brown......

You expect to read Cold War propaganda in the Weekly Standard. But it's extremely disappointing to read it in the travel pages of The Guardian.
The beautiful Lake Balaton area of Hungary, Georgia Brown informs us, was formerly 'forbidden to British visitors' .
My wife Zsuzsanna, who is Hungarian, is rather bemused. During 'goulash' communism, Hungary positively encouraged Western European tourists, including those from Britain (as it still does today). One of my father's work colleagues was a regular visitor to Balaton in the communist era- perhaps he was just imagining it?
Wouldn't it be nice, just for once, to read a travel piece about an ex-communist nation that did not feel obliged to tell porkies about the previous system. Or is that simply too much to ask for?,,1786988,00.html

The EU's Double Standards in the Balkans

The EU Rules for Referenda in the Balkans: If you want to leave Serbia, fine, if you might want to join up with her, not allowed!

Norway and Switzerland don't 'belong' in Europe?

Timothy Garton-Ash drools at the prospect of another member of his beloved E.U. in the Guardian today. He writes:

The citizens of Montenegro and Serbia know that they have to make their own way to prosperity, democracy and the rule of law. Only then can they advance, via the OSCE, the Council of Europe, Uefa, Miss Europe, the Eurovision Song Contest and Nato, to today's ultimate seal of European belonging: EU membership.

Those poor old Norwegians and Swiss must be feeling really left out.