Friday, 24 February 2012


I’ve said it once and I will go on saying it until I am, non-politically speaking of course, blue in the face. The answer to our problems is to sack all the MPs and let their precious fig trees run the country.

No, I am serious. We are paying employees of the Ministry of Defence a £40 million bonus as a reward for incompetence so massive that front line soldiers are being rewarded with redundancy and we have a bath tub Navy and an Air Force which has been grounded into the dust. Croesus football clubs owe countless millions in unpaid tax which they will avoid paying by going into administration. Yet libraries and public lavatories are being closed and cripples are suffering benefit cuts.

If you look over the past two centuries, our international problems were all caused by the death of Palmerston. His successors, to put it mildly, couldn’t organise a drink fest in a brewery.

In Palmerston’s day Britons were the pin ups of the Arabian world. Gertrude Bell and T.E. Lawrence were only two of the Westerners whose word was law among the sheiks of Araby. The Balfour Declaration and The Sykes Picot treaty between Britain and France to share between us the Ottoman Empire, at the same time as we were promising Arabs Home Rule, were not the height of diplomatic achievement. When the Arabs found out what the Allies planned for them, Hussein and Ibn Saud started their own kingdoms, Arab nationalism was founded in a literary club run by American missionaries in Beirut and Saud enlisted the fanatical Wahabi tribe to help him launch Saudi Arabia. The India Mutiny and today’s terrorists are Wahabi inspired.

The Second World War was made inevitable by the Versailles Peace Treaty which imposed crippling financial reparations on Germany that in turn allowed the rise of fascism. The atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima AFTER the Japanese had offered to surrender unconditionally to frighten the Russians but the Cold War which crippled both East and West was based on faulty intelligence. Stalin had neither the intention nor the means to make war.

So let’s leave it to the trees. We just have to find some way to teach them to read. Not lots of books. Just “The Last Mughal” by William Dalrymple, ”Indian Summer” by Alex von Tunzleman, “Alliance” by Jonathon Tenby, “Europe’s Last Summer” and “A Peace to End All Peace” by David Fromkin, “The Peace Makers” by Margaret MacMillan, and “The Balfour Doctrine” by Jonathan Schneer in which he reveals that Britain’s support for Zionism was not the result of an inevitable process. In fact, shortly after Balfour’s promise to the Jews, the British government offered the Ottoman Empire the opportunity to keep Palestine and to continue to fly the Turkish flag over it.

Add to these “Hero”, Alexander Korda’s biography of Lawrence of Arabia, “Desert Queen”, Jane Wallach’s biography of Gertrude Bell and “Arabia Deserta”, Charles Doughty’s curious tour of Arabia, and finally “America and the Imperialism of Ignorance” by Andrew Alexander.

This is the most recent of the above publications, in which Alexander writes: “If the world came close to nuclear Armageddon on half a dozen occasions, and expended so much blood and treasure for 40 years against a threat that was never real, this raises serious doubt about the integrity and basic intelligence of a whole succession of Western governments and the political institutions for which they make such high claims.

Alexander argues that communism never posed an existential threat to the security of the West. Stalin’s primary aim was the preservation of his regime, and his only objective in Eastern Europe was to create a defensive buffer against any German advance. Not only did he lack the resources, the plans or the will to conquer Western Europe: he actively opposed communist revolutions around the world. If Western Europe was safe from Soviet attack, the United States — thousands of miles further away — was even safer.

Also on my booklist is “Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt,War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Dream”

by Gregg Jones.

A review in the New York Times reads:

President William McKinley insisted that it was the Filipinos’ “liberty and not our power, their welfare and not our gain, we are seeking to enhance.” The American people, however, flush with victory, had started to dream of expansion, even empire, and pressure mounted on McKinley not just to free Spanish colonies but also to lay claim to them. By 1900, an election year, McKinley had begun to give in, arguing that “territory sometimes comes to us when we go to war in a holy cause.” Addressing a campaign crowd in Nebraska, he asked, “Shall we deny to ourselves what the rest of the world so freely and justly accords to us?” The answer, as he knew it would be, was an instantaneous and uproarious “No!”

On nearly every page, there is a scene that feels as if it could have taken place during the Bush and Obama administrations rather than those of McKinley and Roosevelt. American troops are greeted on foreign soil as saviors and then quickly despised as occupiers. The United States triumphantly declares a victorious end to the war, even as bitter fighting continues. Allegations of torture fill the newspapers, horrifying and transfixing the country.

To force information from a Filipino mayor believed to have been covertly helping insurgents, American soldiers resort to what they call the “water cure.” After tying the mayor’s hands behind his back and forcing him to lie beneath a large water tank, they pry his mouth open, hold it in place with a stick and then turn on the spigot. When his stomach is full to bursting, the soldiers begin pounding on it with their fists, stopping only after the water, now mixed with gastric juices, has poured from his mouth and nose.

The problem about politicians is that they mean well. Cameron presenting a policy reminds me of my hound Taz who will offer me a toy, stand back, look at me intently and then if I don’t accept, take it away and bring another toy for me to accept.

Cameron, like Taz, is at his most winning when he is taking care of us. He insists on revolutionising the NHS though the professionals don’t want the bill and 85 per cent of patients think the NHS is marvellous. More recently he is going to cure public drunkenness by going round cities, collecting all the fighting drunks and putting them in a room until they sober up. One room per drunk. But there will be more drunks than cells. They will fight each other because that is what fighting drunks do. Or perhaps he plans it as a means of raising revenue by having bets on survivors? I just hope enough survive to clean the blood off the wall. Believe me, I’ve known drunks who play the Eton Wall Game using people as balls.

From valued blog reader Sarah Thomas comes this proof that ours isn’t the only asylum run by its inmates.

Toys cannot hold protest because they are not citizens of Russia, officials rule

Siberian authorities ban protest by 100 Kinder Surprise toys, 100 Lego people, 20 model soldiers, 15 soft toys and 10 toy cars

There hadn't been many – indeed any – rallies like it before in Russia.Last month saw dozens of toys, from teddy bears to Lego figurines, standing out in the snow of a Siberian city with banners complaining about corruption and electoral malpractice.

At the time, Russian authorities in Barnaul declared the protest "an unsanctioned public event".

Now a petition to hold another protest featuring 100 Kinder Surprise toys, 100 Lego people, 20 model soldiers, 15 soft toys and 10 toy cars has been rejected because the toys have been deemed not to be "citizens of Russia".

The Guardian

Rupert Murdoch letter to News International staff 'full of legal errors'

submitted by blog reader Alastair McQueen:

Rupert Murdoch is not legally obliged to hand over evidence of wrongdoing in his newspapers to the police, contrary to claims he made in a letter to News International staff, a leading human rights lawyer has said.

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, has said that Murdoch's letter in relation to this issue "is full of errors, both of law and history".

He added that the media baron was "ill-advisedly and unethically throwing away the shield that parliament gave to journalists in 1984 so they could protect their sources".

"On the contrary, the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act defines confidential journalistic material as 'excluded material', which police cannot seize at all, other than in a few cases such as official secrets, when they have to get an order from a circuit judge."

The Guardian

Muslims Declare Jihad on Dogs in Europe

A Dutch Muslim politician has called for a ban on dogs in The Hague, the third-largest city in the Netherlands. Islamic legal tradition holds that dogs are "unclean" animals, and some say the call to ban them in Holland and elsewhere represents an attempted encroachment of Islamic Sharia law in Europe.

Happily we take a different view.

Dolphins are so intelligent that they should be thought of as ‘non-human persons’ and given their own bill of rights, it is claimed.

A coalition of scientists, philosophers and animal welfare groups have come up with a declaration of dolphin rights which they hope will one day be enshrined in law.

This would stop them being kept in zoos and water parks, and being attacked by fishermen.

Whales would also be elevated above other animals by the list of rules, leading to whalers being classed as murderers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference heard in Vancouver.


We should have kept India and given away the UK.

For the first time in 83 years I have been head hunted...Well, not exactly head. Amtex have recruited me to test pilot new products. Colostomy bags. I wish there was some part of my life that wasn’t pure farce.

Marie Colvin was a fine reporter and a serial heroine. She volunteered for death and took her life in her hands on a daily basis.

Rami al Sayed was the eye of the Syrian Revolution. He used his camera phone to film the appalling genocide in Homs. In doing so he founded the Syrian Pioneer, online streaming coverage of the revolution.

He and Colvin were both killed on the same day, doing their job. Colvin dominated the Media for days: al Sayed merited two paragraphs in my paper.