Friday, March 24, 2006

The Last Conservative Value

Commentary by Martin Kelly
May 17, 2005

“What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and to hear the lamentation of the women!” - Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Thirteen months before he committed suicide at the age of just 30 in his hometown of Cross Plains, Texas, in 1936, Conan’s creator Robert E. Howard wrote a letter begging for payment of the eight hundred dollars he was owed by his most frequent publishers, ‘Weird Tales’.

In a Townhall column of October 10, 2003, entitled ‘Schwarzenegger can use popularity to effect change’, ‘National Review’ editor-at-large and youthful neoconservative ideologue Jonah Goldberg remarked,

“Schwarzenegger wasn't my candidate, and I was skeptical of the recall from the outset. But you've got to give him credit for one thing: Considering the array of forces against him, particularly in liberal feminist circles, he actually managed to make his greatest movie line a reality. In "Conan the Barbarian," he was asked, "What is best in life?" and he responded, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!"

Perhaps Goldberg was being facetious. However, as an outsider looking in at a philosophy I can only examine from a distance, the original quote seems to perfectly encapsulate what can only be described as perhaps the last conservative value; one that straddles both neoconservatism and paleoconservatism, a true lowest common denominator amongst the qualities required to be an intellectual leader in the conservative movement.

That quality is pitilessness.

Neoconservatism is a philosophy based on global projection of national power. Their critics call them imperialists, but more accurately the neoconservative paradigm of ‘global benevolent hegemony’ means nothing less than world domination, as bizarre and paranoid as that one sounds when one sees it.

But there is no other logical conclusion to draw from the massive overseas military commitments the USA has undertaken since 9/11, and the willingness of George W. Bush to treat with anyone who declares they are on his side, up to and including the disgusting Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, who's a key ally in the ‘War on Terror’, when he’s not mowing down his own people in the street or boiling them alive.

The K Street Napoleons of the neocon magazines and think tanks are only concerned for the ‘national interest’, as if the USA as a legal entity has some kind of higher moral standing than that of its citizens, quite forgetting that its citizens are the United States of America. Without them, there is nothing.

Their utter pitilessness can often be seen lining the pages of their publications, with no word of sympathy for the lamentations of the women of Iraq.

The reason for this pitilessness towards the widows of a country they have helped destroy is that the neocons may feel that the Iraqis should be grateful to them. After all, they are free now.

The notional freedom that Iraq enjoys was bought with a lie, that its ruler possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction that posed a threat to the security of the United States and other nations. That was not the case. It was only at the stage in the game when it became clear the White House and the Vice-President’s office would have to either hold or fold on the nukes that the liberty of the Iraqis assumed its paramount importance.

Of course the Iraqis are not free, not in any meaningful sense. Nobody can live freely in a country full of foreign armies and swarming with foreign terrorists. That Iraq is developing its own security apparatus is to be welcomed. However, the fact that it will take years for those forces to gain the training and experience they will need in order to combat the insurgency makes the likelihood of America’s stay in Iraq look bleaker than ever.

But it was at Abu Ghraib that the pitiless of neoconservatism found its poster children. The dumb grins of Charles Graner and Lynndie England as they abused their prisoners made them the embodiment of what was wrong with the war, wrong with the peace and wrong with the whole idea.

However, just as the crimes of the Abu Ghraib MP’s pale in comparison with Saddam’s, so too do Saddam’s pale in comparison with Hitler’s. Saddam invaded Kuwait; he used chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war; he tortured, murdered and mutilated thousands, making millions into refugees and outcasts. He drained the natural habitat of the Marsh Arabs. He even deployed gas at Halabja.

But at no point did Ba’athist Iraq steep itself in blood so deep as the Third Reich. It is in relation to the Third Reich, and its ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘problem’ of Jewry, that paleoconservative pitilessness comes to prominence.

If neoconservatives make a fetish of dreams of projecting power abroad, paleoconservatives make a fetish of their isolationism. They seem blind to the fact that when one lives in a nation, a legal entity, there are times when one cannot be help be sucked into the affairs of other nations. And it is perhaps this blindness that has produced one of the most morally troubling commentaries of recent times.

On May 12, Patrick J. Buchanan, a man I otherwise greatly admire, published a column entitled ‘Was World War II Worth It?’ on ‘Chronicles Extra’. It took the position that the ceding of Eastern Europe to Stalin at Yalta was as great an act of betrayal as Munich. From the classic paleoconservative perspective, Neville Chamberlain’s greatest mistake in his involvement at Munich was to have got himself involved at all.

There is no doubt that in some cases Buchanan’s perspective is correct. As he put it, ‘Leninism was the Black Death of the 20th Century’. Of course more people were killed under Stalin than under Hitler. These are facts beyond dispute.

But when one deals in facts one must deal with all the facts. It is easy to criticize Roosevelt with the benefit of 60 years of hindsight; however, nowhere in the column does Buchanan mention that it was Germany that declared war on the United States, entirely without provocation, days after the carnage of Pearl Harbor.

More shocking still is his failure to distinguish between the crimes of Hitler and Stalin. Undoubtedly, Stalin killed more; but it was Hitler who made the genocide of ethnic and religious minorities, because of what and not who they were, one of the principal industries of his state. Even as the war was being lost on both fronts, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the febrile were being rounded up and deported to those bleak barbed-wire hells.

In summarizing the geopolitical reasons for fighting the war, Buchanan posed the question –

“Was that worth fighting a world war – with 50 million dead?”

Faced with a man who made it his aim to wipe out entire populations, the answer is yes; yes; and yes again. For such a distinguished thinker as Buchanan to gainsay a president who had to lead the USA into a war which it had most certainly not sought and which it could not avoid, and then fail to mention anything of the unique nature of the greater crime which that war brought to a halt, reeks of pitilessness.

It seems that the pity of conservatism’s intellectual leaders is a rationed commodity. Both neo- and paleo-conservatives are such hardened ideologues that they will never reach any kind of accommodation with each other. However, as a respectful foreigner, one might be tempted to venture the suggestion that the American conservative movement deserves better leadership than it’s getting.

Not just the conservatives – but all Americans.

The Internet's Absence of Filters

Commentary by Martin Kelly
April 11, 2005

The Internet is not a corporate medium.

In order to pipe his Fox News guff into American homes, the Australian-born ‘news magnate’ Keith Rupert Murdoch must incur certain large and ongoing capital costs in order to employ the personnel and erect the infrastructure necessary in order to broadcast one second of Bill O’Reilly. Although the thought of having to write, film, edit, produce and introduce every item on his channel might be Keith’s personal vision of Hell, soon even he will not be able to compete with the unfiltered, unedited news and opinion revolution that’s been gathering pace ever since the Nixon-era political saboteur Lucianne Goldberg was feeding gossip about Monica Lewinsky to Matt Drudge; a revolution in which the only things you need to participate are a modem and a browser.

Murdoch has been an advocate of free markets for decades; well, now he’s got one in his backyard, and as time passes and the current non-existent level of Internet regulation continues, it’s a free market that is really going to hurt the corporate interests of anyone who ever borrowed money in order to put on a TV news show.

Although the Internet will have a saturation point, it’s probably nowhere near it yet, a thought which should make the Establishment quake at the prospect of the awesome power of the unleashed cyber-citizen.

This advent of this inter-connected reality has the power not just to change the way news and opinion is delivered; not just to provide other forums for activists; but also to change the very face of the political landscape.

A hyperlink serves no function other than to provide a reader with a choice; click on it or not. Obviously, this enables readers to experiment with information that would not otherwise form part of their regular intellectual diet. The attractions of writers who may have seemed thrilling only a short while ago may soon pall, to be replaced by new gurus.

The harsh reality of the Internet era is that it is not only the mainstream media but also those in government who are petrified of it; the central regulation and flow of information, the very means by which all states keep control, has been truly abolished at precisely the same time that Western governments have reached depths of authoritarianism never before reached in peacetime.

As the Iraqis might say, the genie’s out the bottle.

If one starts to selects one’s news from different sources, one may also soon collect opinions from different sources, and if enough people collect enough of a range of opinions from different sources, then the end of bipartisan politics will be well and truly spelled.

The Internet happened so fast that the political elites have only been able to react to it; the danger for Internet users will come when they want to control it, for the day may come when a politician, tired of the bad press they have received in unfiltered cyber-media, proposes that Internet use be licensed, and if not licensed then registered.

There would be a storm of protest, of course, but ultimately it is in the interests of both the Republicans and the Democrats for the flow of information to be regulated, preferably by them, and if not by them then by others favourable to them and their interests. They are political movements; they exist for no reason other than to seek and hold power. Once in power, the only means that exist of challenging that power lie in the regulated, infrequent and predictable turns of the electoral cycle.

A blogger with a piece of hot news can be read around the world in minutes. This is the biggest challenge the mainstream politicians have ever faced, an unconscionable threat to their interests.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts; and beware of politicians who say they want to protect the public in the aftermath of the very first big story that a blogger gets wrong and which has tragic consequences.

The day of the licensed blogger may not be far behind.

John Paul II, Opponent of Predatory Capitalism

Commentary by Martin Kelly
April 6, 2005

As was to be expected, the passing of the Polish Pope has unleashed a veritable tsunami of encomia from the neoconservatives. Most comment has, of course, focussed on the role John Paul II played in the collapse of Communism, oblivious to the fact that the Catholic Church possesses a massive advantage over its earthly, secular persecutors – it’s eternal, and will survive human ideology for no reason other than longevity.

However, there is one aspect of the Pope’s record the comprehension of which seems to be beyond them, which, being spoiled children of the now, is, from this perspective, entirely reasonable; they can’t figure why John Paul II didn’t dig big capitalism.

He opposed Communism because he respected the rights of the individual. He was pro-life because he respected the rights of the individual. Ergo, employing a quantum leap of logic of which the even the lowliest intern at the American Enterprise Institute should be capable, he opposed predatory capitalism – because he respected the rights of the individual.

In a ‘Townhall’ piece of April 6 entitled, ‘The Splendor of Truth’, Jonah Goldberg remarked that, ‘The Catholic Church was the first real advocate of globalisation’. Huh? The Catholic Church an advocate of ‘globalisation’? I know Our Lord said, ‘the poor will be with you always’, but he didn’t follow that up with some dazzling coda like ‘And you will go out of your way to advocate that people will be made poor’, which is precisely the effect that the predatory global capitalism that John Paul II opposed has had and is having in what used to be Christian societies.

Don’t just take my word for it. I know that Europeans are whiners, Euro-weenies, blah, blah, Belgian prosecutors, Islamic immigration into France (always good for 1,000 words from Mark Steyn), blah, blah, but us Euros do have one little secret – entirely unreasonably, we are still just ever so slightly scared of the Germans; and not enough attention is being paid to economic stability in that country.

German re-unification was a disaster, and should have acted as a template for what not to do if you’re planning to graft an entirely new political and economic model onto a country where the local culture isn’t accustomed to it. After Germany,
nobody would really be stupid enough to try that again.
The Germans have probably lost count of the amount of money they have invested into trying to get the old East up to Western standards, and it is killing their economy. Unemployment in Germany is at its highest since the early 1930’s. Nostalgia for the old East is on the rise. Neocons, take note.

Like the UK, Germany is a member of the European Union, membership of which demands the elimination of border and labour controls. Now, ironically, since Poland joined the European Union last year, there has been a flood of Poles to the West. The cost of living in Poland is very low, and Poles are accustomed to working for lower wages than in the West. When Poles come West, they therefore drive down wages. Although many residents of Arizona will tell you otherwise, the free market economists say that this is a good thing, quite forgetting that the state subsidies their corporate masters receive are collected from personal taxation, which has the effect of raising the cost of living.

However, according to the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of April 4, one young German entrepreneur, Fabian Loew, has devised a solution to the problem of getting Germany back to work – he’s created a website, jobdumping.de, where job applicants compete against each other to work for the lowest wages, literally a race to the bottom, a race from which Fabian Loew collects a fee.

The opportunity to pay staff the lowest possible wages is the motherlode of predatory capitalism – any concept of a ‘global economy’ has no other rationale. It supersedes politics, it supersedes ideology, for some people it even supersedes religion. Much is made of the evils of the mill-owners of Victorian England; but those Methodists and Quakers built model villages for their workers, built schools, libraries, art galleries and swimming baths, gave something back to the local communities whose labours guaranteed their profits. To whom does a global business give something back?

If one believes all that one reads about the USA, it wouldn’t be surprising if some Stanford MBA Fabian Loew type crawls out the woodwork and decides to cash in on his fellow Americans’ human misery by starting some kind of ‘jobdumping’ service.

In the meantime, as the redoubtable Paul Craig Roberts tirelessly records, because of globalisation and its little brother outsourcing, the only jobs being created in the USA are domestic services and other services that cannot be performed at lower cost somewhere else in the world. In a flash, the economy of America will become like that of eastern Germany; and, just like the concept of the United Kingdom has disappeared due to the mismanagement of its elites, so too will that of America.

The conservative right’s Euro-haters will turn round and say that’s impossible because of the differences between Germany’s heavily tax-dependent welfare state and the vitality of the American economy. All that one need say to counter that argument are five little phrases; budget deficit; trade deficit; Social Security; dying dollar; and Iraq.

Turning people into economic units, a form of pornography, was what John Paul II railed against; Catholic apologists for big business like Michael Novak couldn’t really seem to care less.

At least being Pope does give you one big advantage in the workplace – as Dr. Roberts would put it, your services are non-tradable, and thus incapable of being outsourced.

The Unspeakable Losers of the British Conservative Party

Commentary by Martin Kelly
April 5, 2005

A politician’s announcement that he will hold a debate on reducing the legal time limit for abortions should he gain office would, in almost all cases, be cause for celebration.

However when the pledge comes from the mouth of Michael Howard, the leader of the undisciplined and unprincipled losers of the British Parliamentary Conservative Party, then pro-life voters should be very wary indeed.

Social conservatism does not come easily to Conservative Members of Parliament – although they are all very comfortable with the concept of managing the behaviour of others, they show no inclination to accept any kind of limits on themselves. Many have viewed being an MP as an excuse to get freebies and expand their contacts books so they can retire on swollen public pensions and then walk into any number of directorships.

Indeed, whatever has caused Howard to break out in this blue fit of real conservatism is of very recent origin; as recently as February 2004, Howard announced his support for ‘civil unions’ for gays. A pro-life, pro-gay marriage British conservative?

Is he Andrew Sullivan in disguise?

The announcement that he is proposing a debate on the reduction of the legal time limit from 24 to 20 weeks was made in the March 20 ‘Sunday Telegraph’. Hard leftists and libertarians have dictated the social culture of the UK for so long that any attempt to loosen the Vulcan deathgrip they have on policy should be viewed as being a victory of sorts; but in this case, it’s not any kind of victory at all.

All Parliamentary debate on social issues is conducted on the basis of a ‘free vote’; therefore, the laws by which 60 million must live are dictated by the consciences of fewer than 700. The majority of those few privileged even to have a voice in the debate will be from either the Labour or Conservative camps, career politicians whose livelihoods depend on courting popularity, not on taking difficult or unpopular decisions.

In most instances, they will see no further than the date of the next election; like states, they have no friends, only interests. Also, a free vote is one of the very few occasions on which a drone MP can exercise real power, and decide for themselves in which direction they wish the country to go – the vast majority of Parliamentary votes are conducted on a partisan whipped basis.

These factors themselves mean that if Howard becomes Prime Minister, and if he actually does hold the vote, he will restrain himself from directing his minions on how they should vote.

Which means that, even after any debate, the laws will remain unchanged.

Which shows Howard’s announcement up for what it is – a shallow, opportunistic attempt to sway pro-life sentiment in favour of a party which calls itself Conservative but which has shown no interest in any genuine conservative values for decades; the shallow, opportunistic gesture of a shallow, opportunistic man.

He, and the Parliamentary Party he leads, are largely unspeakable.

But the collective desire to restore the culture of life that this country’s leaders abandoned one night in 1967 is gathering steam. The pro-life movement has a photogenic and very vocal advocate, the Rev. Joanna Jepson, who has harried two doctors who performed a 28-week abortion on a child with a cleft palate – she herself suffered the condition in childhood, and was cured by reconstructive surgery.

In the ‘Sunday Times’ of March 20, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, perhaps mindful of the social conservatism of those African evangelicals who are threatening schism in the Anglican Communion over the ordination of homosexuals, came out publicly as a pro-lifer.

There is a change in attitude taking place, slowly, painfully, little by little, towards a restriction in the abortion laws. What’s needed is a party leader of great conscience to say publicly that they oppose abortion under all circumstances and will do everything in their power to restore its rightful illegal status. Will we ever get that?
Not on Michael Howard’s watch.

The Fever of Revolution

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 24, 2005

The fever of revolution makes men do and say some very strange things.

Right now, the neoconservatives and their mouthpieces are full of talk of ‘democratic revolution’, a state of affairs they believe comes to exist through nothing more than the holding of elections, as if the existence of a middle class and traditions of dissent, free speech and free enquiry have no role to play in the making of genuinely free and democratic societies.

The worst affected of all the democratic revolutionaries is the President of the United States. As commentators like Walter Williams and Patrick J. Buchanan have recently pointed out, George W. Bush leads a country of which many of whose founders saw the danger of democracy degenerating into mob rule, and thus decided that their great project should instead be a republic.

As recently as 2000, the principles that guided the formation of the Great Republic were reinforced when the Presidency was decided in the Electoral College. That a President who owes his first term to the principles of the Republic should so publicly make the spread of democracy his foremost policy aim is at best unsettling, at worst bizarre.

Does the guy understand his own job?

But the armchair revolutionaries of the First Corps of Washington Think Tanks don’t really have the stomach to go out into the field and do the really dirty work of starting the revolution for themselves. They should perhaps follow the example of a real revolutionary, one of the great unsung heroes of World War Two, Leopold Trepper.

Born in 1904 in Novy-Targ, Poland, Trepper became a Communist in his youth and never wavered from his Communism to the end of his days. After working underground as a militant in Poland, Palestine, where he was imprisoned, and France, he went to Moscow in the early ’30’s and saw first hand the butchery of Stalin’s purges. In 1938, he was selected for a special mission by Jan Berzin, the head of Soviet Intelligence, and was sent to the West.

With no more training than his experience of underground work, Trepper organised the anti-Nazi spy ring that the Germans called the ‘Rote Kapelle’ or ‘Red Orchestra’, so-called because of the sound of their wireless broadcasts, that over two years sent 1,500 broadcasts to Moscow and delivered intelligence that had a major impact on the conduct of the war, giving information on everything from troop movements to the new design of Messerschmitts.

Those members of the Red Orchestra who were captured suffered dreadfully at the hands of the Gestapo Sonderkommando in the dungeons of Breendonk and Plotzensee; many were beheaded.

When Trepper himself was captured, he played the Germans into thinking that he could negotiate a separate peace between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, even managing to write and arrange for the smuggling of a report on his activities back to Moscow while in captivity, before he escaped.

This old militant’s reward after the war was 10 years in Stalin’s jails; as an associate of Berzin’s, he had been ‘ideologically suspect’ since 1938. After his release, he returned to Poland and became an active defender of its remaining Jewish community, before the rise of anti-Semitism in that country in the ‘60’s led to his persecution all over again, eventually leading to de facto house arrest. After winning a libel case against a former head of the French Intelligence Service who had accused him of being a double agent, he was permitted to leave Poland in 1973, and died in Israel in 1982.

But Trepper was such a fervent believer in his revolution he was prepared to cling to it even after everything he had suffered and had seen done in its name. His struggle against Nazism was titanic; but he was almost mad with revolution.

Compare Leopold Trepper with Michael Ledeen. Ledeen is as fervent a revolutionary as Trepper, although his exposure to real physical risk has been far less. Reported to have the ear of Karl Rove, he is the most vocal member of the orchestra that shouts for democracy, not realising that while it is good, it must have roots in which to flourish. Just as Trepper’s Communist revolution could never succeed because of the ideology’s blind refusal to recognise that not all men can be moulded into militants, so too will Ledeen’s neoconservative revolution on the basis that not all the societies he seeks to overthrow may wish to be democracies.

But that does not mean that neoconservatives like Ledeen are no less militants than Communists like Leopold Trepper. What will Ledeen and the other neoconservative militants do for their revolution?

It’s clear what they’ve already done; they’ve turned the head of the President of the United States.

By so systematically calling for democratic revolution, and putting the words of revolution into a president’s mouth, they show their true nature, and it’s one that the old militant Trepper would recognise very well indeed.
They are subversives.

Some Thoughts on St. Patrick's Day

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 18, 2005

There was a time in the not so distant past when if a British citizen of Irish extraction declared themselves to be a republican, they would have been likely to find themselves the subject of unwanted official scrutiny.

Being neither a monarchist nor a libertarian, I’m a republican by default. My British republicanism, however, has nothing to do with the fetid gangster ‘Irish republicanism’ of the terror lord Gerry Adams and his gang of butchers in the Provisional IRA.

Big Gerry is now doing the rounds of the Irish-American suckers who have financed the IRA’s 30-year murder spree out of either blind hatred of their country’s closest ally or some kind of romantic pining for an Ireland that never existed. The United Kingdom should never have to ban Americans from entering this island; however Martin Galvin, sometime official of the terrorist fundraiser NORAID, has had that distinction, putting him in the same kind of company as Louis Farrakhan.

This week, some parts of the Irish-American community need to face some particularly brutal home truths. Firstly, they are simply part of the Irish diaspora, not its entirety – they possess no exclusive right to Irish ethnicity.

Secondly, it was their money that for many years helped to buy the guns and the explosives that killed and maimed law-abiding British people just peacefully trying to go about their business.

Thirdly, will any of those who entertain Adams this week have the guts to ask him precisely what role he played in the murder of Jean McConville in 1972? Was he really the commander of the death squad that murdered this mother of 10, as is alleged, or can he account for his movements at the time of her death?

Can he confirm or deny that he was the commander of the IRA’s Belfast Ballymurphy brigade as early as the 1960’s?

Gerry Adams has been a terrorist all his adult life. The IRA has no reason to exist without the gun or the bomb. There has been talk this week of Adams becoming a marginalized Yasser Arafat figure. That analogy is incorrect, firstly because Adams is an elected politician on my dime who, unlike Arafat, works within the framework of an established democracy; and secondly, Adams just doesn’t have the brains to be a Yasser Arafat.

But because the IRA’s political wing Sinn Fein now has a firm grasp of the language of ‘human rights’ and photogenic mouthpieces like Mary Lou McDonald, Adams has thought he and his accomplice, the unashamed terrorist Martin McGuinness, could coast along for years playing men of peace in public while both are still members of the IRA’s governing ‘Army Council’. They have been abetted in this double game by the appeasement of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush; even after the carnage of 9/11, Bush was willing to go to Belfast in 2003 and meet with men whom he could not have failed to have known were dyed-in-the-wool killers with the blood of the innocent dripping on their hands.

It was only after two spectacular own goals, the biggest bank robbery in British history last December and the senseless murder of Robert McCartney in January, that Bush has pulled the plug on USA-Irish terrorist relations; and there seems to be no indication that this official frostiness from the White House is going to be permanent.

But the signs are good when even Pete King, the Congressional Fenian Caucus himself, is showing Big Gerry the cold shoulder – unless, of course, it’s all just a show and Adams knows he’ll be persona grata again next year, and he’ll be back to wear one of those wee hats, drink green beer and pass round the plate – just for welfare, like.

The remaining supporters of the IRA in Irish-America need to overcome their perpetual emotional immaturity and start recognising their higher duty to the principles of the land that accepted their forefathers. Any bigotry they encountered in America was no different from that faced by the Irish wherever they went – in 1923, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland published a document called ‘The Menace of the Irish Race’, which they’re still living down to this day. When ‘experts’ like the English-born controversialist and eugenics buff John Derbyshire call the Arabs, ‘the Irish of the world’, or hark back to the ‘Limerick Pogrom’, constantly focussing on the negative behaviour of the Irish throughout history, they are given ammunition by some Americans’ continued acceptance of men like Gerry Adams at this time of year.

Adams is in America to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Without Patrick, there would have been no Christianity in Ireland; without Christianity in Ireland there would not have been much Christianity in many other parts of the world.

That’s the real meaning of March 17, and the real achievement of that ancient Scot who was kidnapped into slavery and taken over the water to a wild, forbidding land; not to hold parties for killers like Gerry Adams, or have his feast turned into some kind of Emerald Kwaanza.

On North Korea, Via Social Security

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 7, 2005

For all the rhetoric that flows from the lips of the neoconservatives, the country of North Korea poses no real risk to the physical security of the USA. Without doubt its leadership is odious, keeping a near-starving people wrapped in the type of personality cult once abhorred by the man to whom they pay homage, Joseph Stalin.

It would be a very bad thing indeed if they have developed the bomb; however, as with Iraq, it is highly improbable that they possess any practical means of delivering a weapon onto San Francisco or Seattle.

The only nations that a nuclear North Korea would threaten would be its immediate neighbours; and thus, unfortunately, the USA would be drawn into any and all such regional conflicts in the Far East.

That is entirely the fault of the Clinton and Bush Administrations’ continued, wilful and reckless pursuit of unbridled international free trade and international free markets, and the big-spending proclivities of George W. Bush.

The American economy vomits debt at the rate of nearly $2 billion every single day, the consequence of having both a fiscally reckless Congress and a President who cannot see the virtue in sometimes killing a bill. In their new found love of the entity that calls itself ‘The State’, some American citizens seem wilfully blind to the concept that having a small, low-spending government would make them personally better off, with much more stable wealth, than any scheme that forces them to invest in an uncertain stock market and that’s disguised as ‘Social Security Reform’ ever could.

Indeed, the impertinence behind the idea that a government can dictate what citizens will do with money that shouldn’t have been taken from them in the first place is quite staggering. The current proposals for reforming Social Security can be construed four ways; firstly along classically conservative lines, that citizens are able to invest their funds more efficiently and profitably for themselves than if done on their behalf by ‘The State’; secondly, that this is an attempt to shore up a stock market that’s over-exposed to a declining dollar; thirdly, it’s an attempt to help some Wall Street CEO’s get richer without the parachute of a Federal bail-out being provided for the patsies if there’s another Enron; and lastly, and this is the most extreme, George W. Bush is trying to create a large investor class of loyal Republicans – in other words, to establish political control over the stock market.

So much for free markets.

But the biggest buyers of American debt are China and Japan. Anything that compromises the ability of China and Japan to buy dollars for George Bush and Robert Byrd to spend is a graver threat than anything Osama bin Laden could dream of. That is the real threat posed by North Korea. The Far East now seems to be engaged in a cold war as cold as any ever fought in Europe, and it ill-behoves the neocons to stir up trouble on the peninsula when the economic order they have helped create in the States will be among the first casualties in any shooting war.

Part of that cold war’s realpolitik is that should China decide to implement its policy of regime change on Taiwan, all rhetoric in support of that country’s right to exist will be forgotten, just to ensure the Chinese keep buying dollars. It will be the Sudetenland all over again, but of course the neocons don’t do appeasement – do they?

Also to be factored in is the USA’s horrendous trade deficit, now standing at 6% of GDP. The Pearl River Delta has become the shop floor of the world, and China runs a net trade surplus with the USA in virtually anything with moving parts, while in 2002 the USA ran a net trade surplus with China in meat, hides and skins, scrap metal and cigarettes. In the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush told the American people to go shopping – the de-industrialisation of America has been so thorough that he had nothing else to work with.

But, as Larry Kudlow never fails to point out, corporate profits are an important factor in economic growth and a weak dollar makes America a great place for foreigners to invest, i.e. buy American businesses. Yeah, dude. Whatever.

At some point in the future, America’s children may be called to go to war in order to ensure that cheap imports will still undercut domestically produced goods in the shops and to pay for whatever politicians can scrape from the bottom of the pork barrel.

Opponents of the Iraq war said it was a war about oil. That was not true. However, there would be only one way of describing what any American war with North Korea would be.
It would be going to war for Wal-Mart. And one day George W. Bush will take his place in economic history as the President who made the soybean America’s most valuable export.

Where Did Bronco Billy Go?

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 2, 2005

On February 27 Clint Eastwood, 74, joined the select band of movie-makers who have won two Academy Awards in the category of Best Director of a Motion Picture. He is the first actor to achieve the distinction, awarded for his direction of ‘Million Dollar Baby’.

He is a giant of the culture, a lone wolf who wandered for years in the critical wilderness, massively popular with his public but ignored by the movie establishment before being warmly welcomed into the fold in his 60’s.

For the duration of his career, Eastwood has shown an ability as actor and director to thrill, delight and surprise in equal measure, from producing classic westerns like ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ and ‘Unforgiven’ to political thrillers like ‘In the Line of Fire’, to intimate, personal projects like ‘Breezy’ and ‘Bird’. Although his acting became stylised, if not lazy, in the ‘60’s, re-runs of ‘Rawhide’ from the ‘50’s show a keen, capable and expressive performer who finally re-surfaced from beneath the weight of his public image in the ‘90’s.

It’s a pity that, at this stage in his career, one has to ask – where did Bronco Billy go?

Released in 1980, ‘Bronco Billy’ is easily his most joyous and uplifting movie. Its whimsical story, about the owner of an old-style Wild West show, could not have been better timed at its release, daring to re-affirm the wholesomeness of American values and patriotism at the end of the dark Carter years. It was pure cinematic Reaganism, and although it’s outstanding as a whole it deserves to be shown forever for just two scenes – Eastwood’s final soliloquy; and for its very last shot, which is probably one of the reasons he was frozen out of the Hollywood establishment for so long.

Bronco Billy McCoy would be all at sea trying to figure out the director of ‘Million Dollar Baby’.

The members of the Academy seem to have decided that 2005 should be the year in which the full force of their guiding values should be unleashed and they aren’t the values of ‘Bronco Billy’.

It shouldn’t really be surprising that the Academy should have seen fit to honour two projects dealing with the practice of euthanasia in a way that is at best morally neutral while the plight of Terry Schiavo is still in the public eye, but it galls one nonetheless. As well as awarding Best Picture to ‘Million Dollar Baby’, its members awarded the Best Foreign Language award to Spain’s ‘The Sea Inside’, a biography of a quadriplegic campaigner for the right to die ‘with dignity’.

In any debate about the ‘right to die’, it is only honest to remind its advocates that if any such right exists, it is of very recent origin – until a few short decades ago, to attempt suicide was still a crime in many jurisdictions. It is one of the last taboos – anybody who knows anyone whose friend or loved one has taken their own life knows it is not a subject they will readily discuss. Many such suicide survivors feel crippling guilt that they were unable to share the suicide’s burden, or assuage their despondency.

In some parts of the world, suicide is a serious social problem – in the Republic of Ireland, the suicide rate among young men has grown massively throughout the years of ‘Celtic Tiger’ growth, perhaps fuelled by a sense of alienation from the increased prosperity they see around them.

To promote euthanasia is to promote a cause that says that suicide is good if it feels right, the ultimate act of moral relativism. By releasing ‘Million Dollar Baby’, Clint Eastwood has trampled on all the suffering attached to suicide - if you’re paralysed, then clearly you have nothing to offer. You are an embarrassment to a culture that celebrates physical vitality, and your very existence is an uncomfortable reminder of how fragile our own bodies and egos are. Those quadriplegics who cling to life for its own sake, the pro-life champions determined to keep on living in the knowledge that their life has been spared through their own will and the efforts of others, have no voice in the movies of Clint Eastwood.

If Bronco Billy saw ‘Million Dollar Baby’, he’d probably ask just when The Man With No Name became the man with no heart.
He might even call him a billion dollar loser – because, like, dude, just when did you become an ‘artist’?

Neoconservatism and Democracy

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 25, 2005

One of the more sickening sights of recent weeks was witnessed during the President’s State of the Union address.

In alleged ‘solidarity’ with the Iraqis, a group of congressman had dyed their fingers blue, mimicking the mark of death put on Iraqi voters, and waved them in the air right on cue.

This is the moral equivalent of well-fed, affluent Western academics and teenagers proclaiming their support for the oppression of Fidel Castro while wearing the image of the murderous Ernesto Guevara; a poseur’s act, purely ideological, completely free of personal risk and ultimately as disrespectful to those Iraqis who braved savage harm by going to vote as the Che-wearers are of those Cubans who suffer under the boot of a vicious old man to whom the neoconservatives are happy to turn blind eyes, thus spitting in those of Bush’s most loyal supporters, those without whom neither he nor his brother would hold office, the Cuban-American Republicans of Miami-Dade.

Democracy, say the neoconservatives, is an end in itself; but this view is heavily qualified. A more accurate question for the neocons to answer would be, ‘When is a democracy not a democracy?’

Their answer would be brief, and telling.

When it’s in Spain.

For nearly a year, the neoconservative fascists of the American Enterprise Institute, the ‘National Review Online’ ‘Townhall’ and the ‘Washington Times’ have insulted and slimed the Spanish people for their rejection of the liar Jose Maria Aznar, and his lying lie in the immediate aftermath of the Madrid train bombings last March that the Basque terrorists ETA were responsible. If all you ever read is the hatred and bile of the right-wing thug Tony Blankley, who has maliciously called for Seymour Hersh to be prosecuted for treason, then you’ll believe that the people who conquered vast swathes of the New World are a bunch of wimps and Euro-wussies.

But of the two democracies, Spain and Iraq, which will endure? Which will ultimately survive in the cauldron of history?

My money’s on Spain.

On the weekend of February 20, the Spanish went to the polls again in a referendum to determine whether the country will ratify the policy document laughingly called the ‘EU Constitution’.

The good news for the democrats is that, although the document will be ratified and the Spanish are now at the head of the queue for more Euro-integration, turnout was low.

Spain is therefore getting back to normal, and starting to once again exhibit the diffidence to the doings of politicians that should be the hallmark of all successful and peaceful societies.

This diffidence makes it easier for peoples’ to detach themselves from the grand plans and failed schemes of those who seek to lead them. When, however, a diffident people is raised to outrage, their retribution on those who break their trust, as Aznar callously did, is swift, and all they need do to bring down giants is to put a mark in a box.

When the Spanish have had enough of being Europeans, they’ll go back to being Spanish without skipping a beat. After all, these are the people whose land was the testing ground for the Junkers and the Stuka, the people who survived Guernica and 40 years of Franco, and who as recently as 1981 faced the prospect of a military coup.

The Spanish will get by. The Iraqis won’t, a great pity and entirely the fault of the neocons, addled by their ideology and lusting for their places in history. Boy, will they get them.

As those who are sufficiently interested in such matters are always reminded, there ain’t much democracy in the Islamic Middle East. The reason for this, of course, is staring right us in the face – Islam. Islam is an ideology just as much as a faith. Like any ideology, it can’t suffer challenge so its opponents have got to go. Even in Turkey, the most avowedly secular of Islamic nations, the military have had to step into the political breach several times over the course of the country’s modern history in order to prevent Islamist groups taking power. The current Prime Minister was often fond of saying that the minarets should be their bayonets and the mosques their barracks.

Whoa there, Slim! Step AWAY from the prayer-mat!

But the Iraqi elections have consolidated power in the hands of the religious majority, the Shia Muslims. One of the more depressing consequences of having gorged oneself on an intellectual diet of David Horowitz mixed with Srjda Trifkovic is that one becomes aware of the existence of words like ‘Taqqiya’.

‘Taqqiya’, roughly translated as duplicity, is, according to Trifkovic, an Islamic duty, to push the Islamist agenda forward in the public square by gaining influence and then using it to establish Sharia law. The neoconservatives, of course, have done precisely the same thing for their agenda – I used to call myself a neoconservative, but I was just a wee toy Scottish neocon, MacNeo if you like (even the Republic of Ireland has its own wee toy neocon, an O’Neo, Mark Dooley of the ‘Sunday Independent’), while the really big beasts in their jungle probably number fewer than 100 and all of them hold or have held prominent positions in Republican White Houses, the think tanks or the media. This group holds a disproportionately massive public influence in relation to its numbers.

The Islamists will do precisely the same thing in Iraq as the neos have done in America. And we have walked blind into this nightmare, this hell on earth that we are making for other people.

The purpose of democracy is to enable all to be included in the decisions that affect them. Soon, the Iraqis will have no voice, their women will be forced to wear the veil, their hands will be amputated for petty infractions, and crowds will gather to watch them be beheaded and hanged. Iraq may join Iran’s new alliance with Syria, the security of Israel could be fatally compromised and the deaths of all those Iraqis, Americans, Brits and others who’ve been killed in this war for the last two years will be utterly meaningless.

In the meantime, the Spanish will just keep going about their business, being democrats, doing their thing.
And some prominent poseurs will have great snaps for their albums. But blood stains deeper than ink.

The Siamese Twins, Illegal Immigration and Abortion

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 23, 2005

For as long as illegal immigration exists, so, too, will the practice of abortion. Kill illegal immigration, and abortion would wither on the vine.

The relationship between illegal immigration and abortion is almost symbiotic. The fate of one depends on the fate of the other. They are Siamese twins who share a vital organ – the need of ‘The State’ to replenish its numbers; after all, ‘The State’ must have rulers, and rulers must have people to rule.

The election of legislators and executives are acts of delegation. The principal drawback of libertarianism is its belief that each man can be his own government. While government should be small and unobtrusive, the nature of nations possessing clearly defined borders and populations bound by shared history is that there are some functions, the defence of the realm and its foreign affairs, which require to be administered collectively. These functions are delegated to legislators and executives, and the equipment necessary for the performance of these collective functions is provided from levies on all citizens.

That’s great in theory. The problem, as Ronald Reagan often said, is that once government is handed a function to perform, it has a tendency to grow. The nature of the relationship between the citizens and their delegates’ changes. The citizens start referring to their servants as ‘The Government’. ‘The Government’ becomes an entity to which the citizen must justify himself, even down to his smallest, most inconsequential transactions. ‘The Government’ permits itself the privilege of spying on the citizens, often using the mantra ‘Security’ to justify its impertinence.

In time, the sheer size to which ‘The Government’ has grown means it has attained a critical mass at which it transforms itself into an anti-democratic leviathan – ‘The State’.

According to some writers, like Lew Rockwell, this has already happened in the USA.

Rockwell has estimated that the tipping point for this change occurred in 1994, and the Republicans’ gaining control of Congress. Before that, conservatives had been happy to accept the conventional wisdom that ‘The Government’ should be small. However, the behaviour of congressional Republicans since 1994 has illustrated that they have the same appetites as the Democrats for pork, waste and, above all else, control.

But they’re Republicans! That makes it all OK!

Not really. The worst manifestation of love of ‘The State’ that Rockwell, Paul Craig Roberts, Shane Cory and others have recorded is the level of venom directed by Republican supporters of George W. Bush towards anyone who dares to question his competence and the efficacy of his policies. Such viciousness does not become supporters of the party of Dutch Reagan.

But to survive, ‘The State’, needs one thing – it must replenish its numbers.

Child rearing is probably the most uneconomic method that could be devised for the maintenance of ‘The State’. ‘The State’ needs fully-formed adults, ready to work and pay taxes to pay for delegates and to provide services; infant children take just way too long to get into the system.

Also, the very fact of children’s existence distracts their parents from their primary function, which is the service of ‘The State’. ‘The State’ just can’t handle the competition generated by a scraped knee, a loose tooth or a request for a bedtime story.

Children, therefore, are the enemies of ‘The State’. ‘The State’ has no problem abetting their elimination. But if the purposes of ‘The State’ are inimical to the interests of children, how will it replenish its numbers? Where will it get the people?

The answer is, from anywhere. One of the most important functions delegated to ‘The State’ is the regulation of its borders – if the greater interests of ‘The State’ dictate that it should subvert or ignore its own laws on border control in order to satisfy its greater purpose of replenishing its numbers, so be it.

The more people to rule, the better. The more people available to feed ‘The State’ its tribute, called taxation, the better. The more people available to fight in the specious wars ‘The State’ declares in order to keep the people in a state of fear and to cement its control over them with the security apparatuses they fund, the better.

If illegal immigration were halted, ‘The State’ would need to find another way of keeping its numbers up. Very suddenly, almost immediately, all funding would be withdrawn from pro-choice groups and there would be an explosion of propaganda in favour of marriage and family values.

‘The State’ would get its numbers up – it would just need to wait awhile.

Do not expect any substantive action on either illegal immigration or abortion for the foreseeable future.

America's Northern Ireland Redux

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 22, 2005

There is now no doubt that George W. Bush is the worst President in the history of the United States.

The final nail in his credibility’s coffin was the result of the Iraqi elections, announced on February 13. The materialisation of the Shia parties’ expected majority means that the future of Iraq could very possibly be the illiberal, murderous Sharia law practiced in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and northern Nigeria – unless other, even more dreadful conditions await round the corner.

The neoconservatives have complained that for decades the Americans have been the janissaries of the Saudis Wahhabis– Bush has made them the janissaries of the Iraqi Shia. Ayatollah al-Sistani could never have hoped for a better and more faithful servant, because Bush has become the first president to make Islamotheocratic oppression the official consequence of American foreign policy.

But at the same time, the Ulsterfication of Iraq is now almost complete.

Congratulations, Mr. President.

The idea that Iraq is now to the USA what Northern Ireland has been to the United Kingdom was originally put into the public domain by John Farmer in 2003, and the development of the synergy between the political and security situations in Iraq more than bears out the analysis.

What the elections have done is manifest in Iraq the root problem of Northern Ireland politics, a dominant political majority with common religious beliefs that brook no compromise with those of the minority.

This situation has two inevitable outcomes; civil war and the suspension of government.

When whatever Iraqi government that can be formed comes into being, it is likely that one of the first things to happen is that a Sunni minority party will walk out because of an issue on which they say there can be no compromise. This will happen because of the failure of the Coalition to manage the peoples’ expectations of how democracy works.

Consensual government will then collapse.

The USA and UK will require to intervene in the resulting civil war, and will find that the loss of blood and treasure incurred to get the country to the stage of elections will be nothing as to the losses to come when the Shia and Sunni start shooting each other in a sectarian conflict, and not ‘just’ within four provinces.

After thousands more deaths, the civil war will eventually be ended by a peace conference, probably in Vienna or Paris, at which all factions will be photographed signing resplendently-bound documents with great flourishes and kissing each others’ cheeks.

The resulting government will last approximately one year. After that time, one party will be caught spying on another, or in other counter-democratic activities. The government will be suspended and the USA will have to assume direct control, which will continue indefinitely.

And all the while the ghastly neck-smiters will be terrorising the people in order to chase the infidel from Arab lands.

The very fact that the elections have produced the outcome they have gives a very telling insight into how the Iraqi people are beginning to perceive themselves and each other. They now see themselves as Shia or Sunni first and Iraqi second, and countries where elections are prayers have no meaningful future, because if an election’s outcome is the will of God, who is Man to question it? Or to seek re-affirmation of His will at a later date?

The die was cast for Iraq when Sharia law was permitted as a source for the constitution. The failure of the Coalition to demand a complete separation of church and state was utterly shameful, and probably a cack-handed multicultural compromise designed to ensure that the Coalition was being ‘inclusive’.

But the sectarianism that informs the democratic process in Northern Ireland is as nothing to the sectarianism of Sunni and Shia. After all, the Reformation is only 500 years old; Islamic sectarian enmity dates back 1,300 years. Historic hatreds will bubble to the surface very quickly, making the country ungovernable.

Instead of making Iraq a beacon for democracy for the Middle East, it may be on its way to becoming one of the fabled ‘failed states’.

If anybody thinks this is impossible, look at Northern Ireland now, a country with a strong democratic but sectarian tradition. Its civil war was fought in the shadows, masquerading as terrorism, but it was civil war nonetheless. The Northern Ireland Assembly was dissolved in 2002 on the direct orders of Tony Blair, because of the bad faith of Sinn Fein/IRA. Elections have since been held for a new assembly, with both groups gravitating towards the extreme electoral choices.

Even after elections, there is no prospect of devolved rule returning to Northern Ireland in the foreseeable future. And if that can happen in a country with a democratic tradition, why shouldn’t we expect it to happen in Iraq?

The Light of Other Days

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 18, 2005

The 20th Century produced only one real prophet. His name is Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

A country boy from Somerset whose first memories include going to school in a horse and cart, and who seems to have lived his adult life in abject terror of nuclear war, Sir Arthur, now 87, has predicted the advent of the communications satellite, the Internet and the mobile phone. In 1960, he wrote a story about the dangers of multi-channel satellite, and by extension cable, television being used for the purposes of propaganda, a salutary warning to all viewers of Fox. In 1998, he and Stephen Baxter wrote a story that predicted the current Iraqi insurgency.

If only the neocon dittoheads of the American Enterprise Institute had read Sir Arthur C. Clarke instead of Leo Strauss.

However, February 10 saw another of Sir Arthur’s predictions take a step towards becoming reality – the rejection by the British people of their monarchy. It’s contained at the very beginning of a novel he co-authored with Baxter in 2000, called ‘The Light Of Other Days’.

By the end of the decade, they said, the Royals will have packed up shop and moved to Australia, leaving England free to become the 51st State of the Union.

If the behaviour of Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor, the heir to the throne, is any guide, it can’t come quick enough.

On February 10 Prince Charles announced his intention to marry his mistress Camilla Parker-Bowles in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle on April 8. She will not be known as ‘Princess of Wales’, but will instead hold the secondary title, ‘Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall’. Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will later officiate at a prayer service to mark the marriage.

When he succeeds to the throne, she will not take the title ‘queen’, but will instead be known as Princess Consort.

Having wasted seven years of my life as a divorce lawyer, there is nothing in the world I find more boring than other peoples’ domestic arrangements. However, this case has profound implications for the very essence of what it means to be British.

This wedding is a direct insult to the history and, by extension, the patriotism of the British people, a cooked-up sham and perversion of the law of the land to enable one man to get what he wants and that has the sticky paw-prints of Tony Blair written all over it.

By his own admission, Prince Charles, who will one day inherit the leadership of the established church, committed serial adultery with Parker-Bowles throughout the course of his marriage to the late neurotic Diana, while P-B was still married to her first husband, who is still alive. His excuse for this behaviour is that it only happened after his own marriage had irretrievably broken down, or some other pap like that. That’s not just good enough when one day other people who lead good, honest and moral lives will pray for you as the Leader of their Church.

Consider this – the Church of England teaches that adultery is sinful. Its future leader commits adultery. He is able to escape the consequences of his actions by going through a civil wedding to a woman whose ex-husband is still alive. The principal cleric of his Church then legitimates this deft zigzag through that Church’s laws by performing a service for the happy couple afterwards!

Up and down the land, Anglicans will gather in their pews on Sunday and sing the great old hymns like, ‘Jerusalem’, and ‘I Vow To Thee, My Country’, and wonder just what on Earth their Church, the entity they look to for spiritual guidance, has come to when its next leader is riding a coach and horses through everything they have been taught to believe is the Church’s teaching, with the tacit consent of its highest cleric.

But this farrago of a marriage, effectively the heir to the throne spitting in the eye of his people, is no more than illustrative of the maxim that Royalty, like politicians, reflect the sort of society they lead. We get the royals, like the politicians, we deserve. Charles’ younger son, Prince Harry, is a lout who binges on vodka and beats up photographers; his behaviour just reflects what happens every Friday and Saturday night in every town in the country. Charles is a ruthlessly self-centred radical egotist – so is the Prime Minister. They both have a self-interest to serve here; Charles wants to save face by regularising domestic arrangements that might be bothering him, to save himself from the smell of what the late Robert Bolt called the ‘fresh stinking flowers’ of his conscience; Blair will think he can get political mileage out of it in the coming election by saying he’s helped the heir to the throne find ‘happiness’, while the local taxation rate is going up at an average rate of one-third above the rate of inflation.

At this angle we can see these events bathed in the light of other days, the days of Henry VIII, upon whom the Pope bestowed the title ‘Defender of the Faith’- before he decided he wanted to contract a second marriage. The upheaval that decision caused could be managed in those days when the word of Kings was absolute – today, they may find the British public less willing to be so accommodating of the regal libido.

As James V of Scotland remarked on his deathbed, after the birth of his daughter, Mary Queen of Scots,

“It came wi’ a lass, and will gang (go) wi’ a lass”.

Tony Blair, Destroyer of Worlds

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 10, 2005

Throughout its history, the country of Iraq has been of no consequence to the interests of the United Kingdom, other than as a purchaser of arms and a vendor of oil.

By the hand of the worst Prime Minister the UK has ever had, the Iraqi people are now dying in their dozens in pursuit of a mirage called ‘democracy’, apparently a good thing, except that its practice in the United Kingdom has been so deeply wounded by the machinations of Blair and his disciples that it is changing into a country that many of its citizens do not recognise.

More importantly, and seriously, it is becoming one we wish to have nothing to do with.

Consider the events of Wednesday February 9. That day, Blair gave two more examples of triangulation and hypocrisy. The triangulation illustrates just how badly Blair and his band have tainted the quality of discourse in the public square. The hypocrisy illustrates just how little his words can be trusted on the subject of terrorism.

In all likelihood, the UK will be holding a General Election within three months. Some of the first shots of the campaign have already been fired, through the Labour Party’s abuse of the Freedom of Information Act.

On February 9, the Treasury issued documents relating to the worst single example of Conservative free-market incompetence, the events of Wednesday September 16 1992, ‘Black Wednesday’, when sterling crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and George Soros made one billion pounds betting against it. These documents had been requested by the Labour Party.

The more sensitive sections had been blacked out - however, it was later revealed that the blacked-out sections had been e-mailed to the BBC.

The spin machine spun into action immediately, and the Treasury released a statement saying the e-mail was the work of a junior official. And if you believe that, you’ll believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The sections that should not have been revealed are, of course, highly damaging to the electoral interests of the Conservatives – however, the Freedom of Information Act does not provide for sensitive information about Blair’s government to be made public.

It is rare for any British government to be so lacking in public trust that we do not believe a word it says, but that is the stage that has been reached with Blair’s. There have been so many lies, so much spin, that its pronouncements are now all viewed with downright suspicion, a natural consequence of over-triangulation.

The second example ostensibly relates to the rectification of a long-standing miscarriage of justice, but which instead is a hideous example of hypocrisy, pandering to the terrorists on his doorstep while young men are being killed fighting terrorists in Iraq.

In 1974, 11 entirely innocent people, mostly from two families, were convicted of carrying out IRA bombings in Guildford and Woolwich. Their real crime was being Irish in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were convicted on tainted evidence, largely obtained by torture, and many spent up to 15 years in custody. A fictionalised account of Gerry Conlon’s case was made into a movie, ‘In The Name Of The Father’.

Gerry’s father Giuseppe died in prison in 1980, entirely innocent of the offences for which he had been incarcerated.

However, the convictions of the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven were overturned in 1989, part of a landmark series of appeals that showed how deeply corrupted English justice had become in pursuit of Irish terrorists. Although compensation for wrongful imprisonment would have been paid, one would have thought that an apology would have been forthcoming before now.

One should never expect any Leader of the Conservative Party to apologise for state-sponsored injustice perpetrated on Irish Catholics – just not their bag, old boy. But why has Blair waited until seven years after taking office to issue an apology that was 16 years overdue?

Because, just last week, the Provisional IRA issued two strongly worded statements protesting the perfectly constitutional demands being made upon them to surrender their weapons and against the announcement made by Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, that he believed they were behind a £26 million pound bank robbery in Belfast before Christmas.

So, as a sop to keep the IRA from shooting again, which would illustrate the failure of his Ulster policy of real appeasement of real terrorists, Blair issues an overdue apology to a group of people who had injustice done upon them by the British state, whose continued imprisonment had great propaganda value for the IRA and who were, with I think one exception, ultimately proved to have had nothing to do with it in the first place!

However, the Guildford and Woolwich cases do illustrate that, as with so many instances since 9/11 both here and in the USA, the fear of terrorism per se makes liberal democratic governments do some very strange things, and every citizen had better be concerned for their liberty when the word ‘terrorism’ passes a politician’s lips. Right now, Blair is advocating house arrest and detention without trial for terror suspects.

So much for Magna Carta. But one can’t help but wonder, with so many foreigners being sent home from Guantanamo, just how many of them were just Muslims in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Blair is the man who’s shoulder to shoulder with George W. Bush in taking the so-called ‘War on Terror’ to Syria and Iran; the man who’s abetted the destruction of the country of Iraq and the unleashing of its inner Islamist djinn in order to satisfy his lust for a place in history; the man who has destroyed politics in the United Kingdom as know it.

He is like some figure from Hindu mythology, a destroyer of worlds. Or at best the tin-pot leader of a third-rate banana republic.

End Taxpayer-Funded HIV Research Now

(Note - You should have seen the hate mail I got for this.)

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 7, 2005

On January 30, Chris Smith, a former Culture Secretary in Tony Blair’s Cabinet, announced in the London ‘Sunday Times’ that he has been HIV positive for 17 years.

He had not disclosed his condition to Blair. This means that he had also not disclosed it to his local constituency party or, most importantly, to his electorate in Islington.

Smith came out as gay in 1984, the year after his election to Parliament. This announcement comes a matter of weeks before a General Election at which he is standing down.

He said that he did not know when or from whom he contracted the virus. He also said that his continued good health was because of the ‘expert, professional care’ he had received from the National Health Service.

The behaviour of Chris Smith towards his electorate, his party, his leader and the wider British public is amongst the most contemptuous on record from a public servant. And although hard cases make bad law, he is proof of why further taxpayer-funded HIV research has to cease, not just in the UK but everywhere else.

When people live in monogamous, permanent heterosexual relationships where neither party is an injecting narcotics abuser nor received a contaminated blood transfusion, they are at little risk of contracting HIV.

That was not the message with which my generation, the UK teenagers of the mid to late ‘80’s, were bombarded. We were told that HIV was going to explode. It was going to be a pandemic to rival Spanish flu. Hundreds of millions would die.

It didn’t happen, leastwise in societies where the public heeded the message.

The truth is, in societies like the UK and USA, it never was going to happen. The vast majority of our populations’ lifestyles were, and are, HIV-incompatible.

It did explode in Africa. AIDS in Africa is not a stain on the world – it is a stain on those African cultures and superstitions that dictate, for example, that an adult male can protect himself from HIV by sleeping with a virgin. It is a stain on the sexual hygiene of some Africans. The failure of the multicultural West to secure the physical and moral well-being of Africa’s young by not adopting a policy of extremely tough love towards sex education years ago is a stain on those few members of the International Development establishment who have abetted the creation of this giant slow-motion car crash by failing to do their very well-paid jobs. It is not the fault of anyone else.

According to Chris Smith, a cocktail of medicines preserves his health. If he is a patient on the National Health Service, these are provided at the expense of all British taxpayers. Some apologists for Chris Smith will say that he is also a taxpayer, and this is true, although, as an MP, his salary and expenses are paid from taxed money. Some of his apologists would say that his continued treatment at public expense is akin to care given, for example, to smokers who develop lung cancer, or heavy drinkers who then require liver transplants.

But there are critical differences. Firstly, a smoker or drinker may have a physical, perhaps even genetically driven, need for tobacco or alcohol. Promiscuous homosexuals have no such physical need – they have an emotional need, the kind of need that a mature adult should have the self-control to be able to master.

Secondly, a smoker or drinker might not act with conscious disregard for his or her own health. There was a time in Chris Smith’s life when he clearly couldn’t have cared less for what he caught or didn’t catch from whom or how many he slept with, at a time when the dangers of the lifestyle he was living were at the centre of the public eye.

Of course, there are those unfortunate souls who contract HIV by accident, or who have been deliberately infected through their partner’s malicious misrepresentation, or who have been stabbed with dirty needles in the course of being robbed or while trying to effect an arrest, or are so desperate for a high they’ll stick anything in their arm.

But the level of support available for people who find themselves in those grim conditions is staggering, at least in the UK. No more resources should be made available.

The bottom line for amoralists like Chris Smith is that nobody has the right to criticise another person’s lifestyle. God knows, we’ve all done things we’d rather not talk about, and prefer to keep to ourselves. But this argument shutters the door on debate as to which Western groups predominate in the statistics relating to HIV contagion (homosexuals and drug users) and how they catch it (by deliberately refusing to take very simple and well-publicised precautions).

This is not an issue which should divide liberal from conservative, not one about privacy or sexual freedom, and it’s an issue which will come to the fore with a vengeance when the true cost of Medicare starts to kick in.

This is an issue that goes to the heart of the nature of the relationship between citizens. For the most part, HIV is a disease contracted through irresponsibility. If a citizen will not take regard for their own health, why should other citizens invest in its preservation and improvement?

Certainly, let HIV research continue, but not with public money.

All Quiet by the Dead Sea

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 4, 2005

If a Muslim commentator were to refer to the State of Israel as ‘Zionia’ in the mainstream press, the outrage would be absolutely justified and deafening.

They would probably, and rightly, be fired by their publisher and forced to repay whatever bungs they’d received from the Bush White House.

On 9/13/2003, a ‘Townhall’ columnist called Jay Bryant referred to the Muslim world as ‘Islamia’, on his website, ‘The Optimate’. He repeated the phrase in a ‘Townhall’ column called ‘First olive’, dated 1/31/2005. In the original column, he referred to ‘Islamia’ as ‘a word I have made up and define as the Islamic counterpart of the old term ‘Christendom’.

However, before he engaged in a philological expedition worthy of Lewis Carroll, Bryant of Arabia should have been aware that there is already a perfectly serviceable Arabic word to describe the ‘Islamic counterpart of the old term ‘Christendom’. That word is ‘umma’, roughly defined as the brotherhood of all Muslims, and the nature of the umma is such that it cannot be secularised.

It was the spirit of the umma that Osama tried to inflame. The vast majority of the umma, to their credit, want and wanted nothing to do with him.

Those who did have been handed a golden opportunity to fight the infidel due to the carelessness, arrogance and stupidity of the neoconservatives in their invasion and occupation of Iraq.

And, for the first time in quite some time, it seems to be All Quiet by the Dead Sea.

I cannot recall hearing any reports of terrorist attacks in Israel for some time. The incidence of attacks seems to have lessened considerably.

This is a state of affairs that can have only four causes.

Firstly, Israel’s anti-terror operations are winning.

Secondly, the Islamofascists are in trouble. The death of a prominent leader, such as Arafat, almost always leads to a subsequent power struggle. Although they may have hated him, he was at least a recognisable figurehead, a celebrity tyrant if you prefer. They needed him as much as he needed them. The relatively easy accession of Abu Mazen may be no more than superficial – although he has a popular mandate, the warlords are fighting among themselves.

Thirdly, the number of volunteers for murder operations is dropping. Although the young men may be willing to echo the vicious anti-Semitism of Hamas, fewer are willing to kill themselves for its sake.

They, too, may care for the preservation and survival of their homes and families.

Fourthly, the terrorists and suicide bombers still exist, but they are elsewhere.

At base, terrorism is a form of radicalism. Radicalism is a mental state, but the terrorist is a radical committed to taking personal action, to making the mental state become real. That commitment cannot be satisfied by inactivity.

Terrorists need to terrorise, and terrorists cannot reform, - those who do are not true terrorists.

A good example of this comes from Northern Ireland. Since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, there have been no major attacks by the Provisional IRA, although the paleo-Fenians of the Real IRA perpetrated the Omagh massacre after the agreement, to which it was not a part, was concluded. However, the Provisionals have consistently obfuscated about handing over their weapons. They must have the guns in order to keep the diehard terrorists in their own ranks in line.

The lack of terror opportunities has led to the gradual transformation of the province’s terror gangs into crime gangs, and a worst-case pessimist can envisage a future for Ulster not unlike that of Chechnya, Kosovo or Somalia, de facto gangster societies and failed states.

But if the terrorists and suicide bombers of the West Bank are elsewhere, where can they be? There is only one place they can be, Iraq, the place that seems to afford more opportunities for terrorism right now than anywhere else in the world.

Even in heavily policed areas like the West Bank, it surely can’t be impossible for some committed wannabe neck-smiter to slip across the Jordanian border and make their way across that country to Iraq. And if one can do it, so can others.

After all, Iraq has two important advantages over Israel for your average terrorist. Firstly, it is very much larger, so there is very much greater freedom of movement. Secondly, it is less secure. The Project For the New American Century has created a terrorists’ paradise.

At the end of his ‘First olive’ article, Jay Bryant wrote that

“For historical and ethnological reason, Iraq had to be the first Arabic olive out of the (democratic) jar. That is why oil policy, weapons of mass destruction and other minutia (sic) never really mattered”.

Every man should find his ethics harsh, difficult masters. Jay Bryant can clearly reconcile his with the lies and deceptions forced on the American people in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
He should be grateful he lives in such a tolerant society, where liars can send the sons of others to fight the mortal enemies of another state.

A Hollywood Ending

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 1, 2005

Now that Ronald Reagan has died, perhaps the time has come for the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to honour him.

It would be nice to think they would do that, but they probably won’t. Hopefully the serried ranks of glitterati will at least clap politely when his name and image appear on the roll call of those who have passed away in the preceding year. Even if the Academy did award him a posthumous honorary Oscar, Nancy Reagan would possibly use the ceremony as a platform to plead for more funding for stem-cell research instead of simply enjoying the belated recognition being given to the most important actor who ever lived.

Such a plea would be completely in line with some of the Oscar nominations that were announced on January 25. If you read on, expect spoilers.

This year’s nominations show what the Academy is really concerned about, and it’s one of the most morally ambivalent ever. The movie being tipped to sweep the boards is ‘The Aviator’, dealing with, of course, the life of Howard Hughes, who, during his public years, seems to have been sexually incontinent. Laura Linney has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress for ‘Kinsey’, a biography of sexologist Alfred Kinsey, a man of whom it could fairly be said he did more harm than good.

America’s years of exposure to Christopher Hitchens, Andrew Sullivan and John Derbyshire should have taught it to be very wary of Brits being serious, and the plucky, worthy and serious little Brit-flick ‘Vera Drake’, whose eponymous heroine is a sympathetic abortionist, has won three nominations.

Having moved seamlessly through the whole spectrum of the left-wing agenda for the social manipulation of the body, the nominations glide to the other end of the human timeline. One Best Picture contender, ‘Million Dollar Baby’, and a Best Foreign Language contender, ‘The Sea Inside’, both deal positively with the ‘right to die’, i.e. euthanasia.

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘a Hollywood ending’.

There are those in the movie industry who will justify this list by using Jerry Springer’s formulation, that his show simply holds a mirror up to society. In some cases, that might be true. They will say it reflects the concerns of the real world.

But those who have the talent and then the privilege of being able to put their work forward for release to the public have a particular duty of care in relation to its content. ‘Million Dollar Baby’ is a particularly powerful case in point.

The career of Clint Eastwood as actor and director shows him to be a story-teller, not a message deliverer, although Warner Brothers, the studio behind ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and Eastwood’s constant partners, have a history of producing socially-conscientious drama dating back over 70 years, back to the days of ‘20,000 Years in Sing-Sing’.

‘Million Dollar Baby’ is Eastwood’s first real message movie, apart from some throwaway lines in ‘Magnum Force’. There is no innocence, no artistic challenge, in Eastwood’s selection of this project. A veteran of his experience and power within the movie industry knows precisely what they’re doing when they make a movie portraying a conflicted Catholic, presumably from a generation particularly risk-averse to mortal sin, committing what their Church teaches is murder.

His character’s compassion for the crippled boxer will be held up as the reason why Clint pulls the plug. But the very fact that a movie personality of his experience and status has made such a movie only provides succour for those who would seek to make euthanasia legal under all circumstances.

If ‘Million Dollar Baby’ wins, then of course the public will be treated to inches and inches of newspaper interviews by Eastwood and others saying how important the subject matter was. But this is the world in 2005. In the times in which we live, no opportunity for propaganda is ever lost, even if it’s down at the multiplex, and it has to be recognised as such.

George W. Bush’s re-election seems to have been effected on a false prospectus, that his electorate perceived him to be a social conservative. He certainly hasn’t broken much sweat attending to their concerns since November. The inaugural address was so light on social conservatism that a number of his voters who maybe heartily disagreed with him on Iraq but who wanted to keep the Democrats out because of their collective association with the culture of death must be feeling short-changed.

But these nominations are Hollywood’s slap in the face to the American people for having the temerity to re-elect their President, and the American people are thus doubly suckered – once by the President and again by their icons.
A win for ‘Million Dollar Baby’ would be a real Hollywood ending - for Jack Kevorkian.

War in the Graveyard of Empires

Commentary by Martin Kelly
January 26, 2005

George W. Bush’s second inaugural address, in reality The Triumph of Bush Augustus, has had a mixed press from his most loyal supporters, the usually dutiful chorus of the ‘National Review Online’.

Some, like William F. Buckley, Jnr., came to bury him, others, like Jonah Goldberg, to praise him as an ‘American revolutionary’.

And of course neoconservatives aren’t Trotskyists.

In one respect, the address was a towering achievement – his speechwriters managed the feat of giving Bush many fine words containing little tangible insight.

However, in one sentence, they let him down completely - Bush Augustus, the de facto Emperor of Iraq, showed the magnificence of his new clothes by saying that the survival of liberty in his land depends on the success of liberty in other lands.

This statement, a gross insult to the memory of Patrick Henry, was grossly insulting to the intelligence, patriotism and history of the American people, for one simple reason.

He did not tell you why.

Why should the survival of American liberty be threatened by a lack of liberty elsewhere? If America is an exceptional society, as the neoconservatives say it is, what does American liberty have to fear if other nations are not like America?

Nothing at all. And all the while, the storm clouds of war continue to gather over the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It would be better for Iran and the Iranians if their government were not an Islamotheocracy, and perverse to think otherwise. Of course the Iranian people should have liberty and not have to suffer under the dead hand of Sharia law.

But since when was it the duty of Americans to give them liberty? Is there something different about the Iranian people that they are incapable of fighting for their own liberty?

What threat do the clerics really pose? The volume of spin on how dangerous they are makes you dizzy.

A reasonable man, exercising a reasonable degree of care in his reasoning, would reason that, if an influential clique has been proved wrong about an issue, say, the threat posed by a Middle Eastern country’s pursuit of Weapons of Mass Destruction, then they would be loathe to repeat the mistake again, perhaps for no reason other than that a second mistake would critically undermine their influence.

But we’re talking here about the neoconservatives, for whom reason always goes out the window in favour of paranoia.

Much opposition to the Iraq war was based on the practical premise that Saddam had no workable delivery systems for attacking the States. And all of a sudden there is a deal of unsubtle agitprop appearing to the effect that Iran will soon have a delivery capability.

The neoconservatives don’t intend dealing with the same problem in the same way twice.

Seymour Hersh’s recent ‘New Yorker’ piece on the subject of Bush Augustus’s plan to march against the Persians, called ‘Next Stop Iran?’ was reprinted in the January 23 ‘Sunday Times’. It gives some chilling insight into what these guys are really about.

Hersh is a conscientious reporter – he reported that “many western intelligence agencies believe (Iran) to be at least three to five years away from a capability to produce nuclear warheads because of serious technical problems, although its work on a missile delivery system is far more advanced”.

So it begins. The case for Iranian intervention begins with its advanced delivery systems – not unlike Saddam.

The spin was taken up by Edward Luttwak of Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies in the January 23, ‘Sunday Telegraph’. In an almost Orwellian diatribe, Luttwak commented, “The thought of ayatollahs with nuclear weapons should terrify everyone – especially in Europe, because the Iranians could soon put those bombs on the top of rockets that could reach European capitals’.

Just like Saddam’s could. And, like Saddam’s, I’m sure they’ll be capable of being deployed within 45 minutes.

The drums of more bloody, inhumane and unaffordable war get louder and louder. The sheer size of Iran makes a conventional attack nigh impossible, given the limited resources available. It would fail, unless the war was conducted with extreme, possibly nuclear, violence. More thousands of Americans and millions of Iranians would die to further the cause of ‘benevolent global hegemony’ the bromide the neos use to conceal their fascism.

The neoconservatives have not learned that Persia is the graveyard of empires. In time, the Persians will overthrow their current masters when they can suffer them no longer, in the spirit of Patrick Henry. Only then will they be free. No conqueror or despot, from Alexander to Crassus to its own Shah, has ultimately endured in that country. There is no reason to believe Bush Augustus would be any different.

The Triumph of Bush Augustus was littered with religious imagery. Last time I looked, ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ did not begin with, ‘Mine eyes have seen the glory of an air strike on Tehran’.

The Smoke and Mirrors of Rich Lowry

Commentary by Martin Kelly
January 21, 2005

You just can’t keep a good neocon down.

Amidst the wreckage of what they’ve done, you’ll always find one who’ll say that nothing in Iraq is as bad as it seems, and that we all just need to stay the course and everything will work out just fine. This assertion will always be accompanied by an allusion to a document from which a few judicious quotes or general examples can be cobbled into an apparently reasonable argument supporting their case.

It’s all smoke and mirrors, of course, and a classic example appeared on the January 18 ‘National Review Online’, courtesy of the parent rag’s wunderkind editor, Rich Lowry.

Before he started rooting for arguments in the undergrowth of British colonial history, one of Lowry’s principal claims to fame is that on March 7 2002, he expressed ‘lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca’, a statement followed shortly thereafter by “By that call I did not mean an actual strike on Mecca. The article was only a literary fantasy and should not be considered more than that”.

In his defence, Lowry was writing in NRO’s ‘Corner’, a blog so pretentious and inward-looking it brings to mind the scene in ‘Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers’ where, after being startled by the sound of Fangorn Forest, Legolas exclaims ‘The trees are speaking to each other!’

But the boy demagogue certainly doesn’t get a free pass for his other infractions. Although it was the hatchet man David Frum who penned the NR’s disgusting ‘Unpatriotic Conservatives’ piece of March 2003, it was Lowry who passed it fit for publication. They are both equally culpable.

Amidst his other duties, which seem to include the incessant advertising of his TV appearances, Lowry pens a column for King Features Syndicate, and the January 18 effort was reprinted on NRO. It carried the innocuous title, ‘Been There, Done That’.

The focus of his piece was, unsurprisingly, that although the insurgency in Iraq looks bleak, there are historical analogies that mean the situation may not be as dire as it appears and that insurgency campaigns can be defeated. Referring to a book called ‘Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam’ Lowry set out to prove that the techniques adopted by the Brits in quelling the post-World War Two insurgency in Malaya could be successfully adopted in Iraq.

He failed. Utterly.

In fairness, he was failing even before he mentioned the title of the book. He referred to ‘the recent qualified victory of the British over the Irish Republican Army’. Victory? What victory? Former death squad commanders like Gerry Adams, the leader of the Provisional IRA’s political wing Sinn Fein, being permitted to sit in the Northern Ireland Assembly after they’ve ‘lost’ is a victory? A victory where the ‘losers’ refuse to hand over their guns? Yes, that’s victory! Now we know what the neocons mean when they talk about victory! Head for the hills!

He then says, ‘(given) their colonial history, the British had plenty of experience with such low-intensity conflicts, but had forgotten it after the conventional warfare in Europe of World War II.’ This insight may surprise the surviving veterans of Special Operations Executive, the Special Air Service and the Chindits, units that spent much of WWII engaged in low-intensity, guerrilla-type campaigns against the Axis in Europe, North Africa and Burma.

Lowry then narrated some of the techniques by which the Malayan insurgency, which started in 1948 and which was winning by 1950, was brought under control – smaller ops; securing the minorities; building a Malayan Army; organising elections; and promising independence. He fails to mention neither the Malayan Special Branch’s relaxed attitude to the muscular interrogation of suspects nor its indifference to assassination as an operational tool, perhaps other features the campaigns have in common.

But then, blithely and utterly without irony, Lowry finished his analogy with this sentence, the sheer import of which seems to have escaped him:

“Slowly, the air went out of the insurgency, which was officially declared over in 1960, 12 years after it began”.


It looks like the neoconservatives have the patience for a very long haul in Iraq, a very long haul indeed. Lowry should ask himself if his beliefs merit inflicting 12 years of body bags on America for the purposes of ending an insurgency in somebody else’s country, made possible by those who share those beliefs.

Because these are the reasons why Lowry’s analogy is totally wrong. Malaya was sovereign British territory; the insurgency was a threat to an already established colonial government to which the majority of Malayans were willing to show loyalty. Iraq was not American territory; the insurgency is only there because the neos insisted American troops had to go there. In Malaya, the insurgents were not fighting a force widely believed to be occupiers; in Iraq, the insurgents are. The Malayan insurgency did not appeal to the patriotism of most Malayans, based as it was on ethnic lines; the Iraqi insurgency might just appeal to the patriotism of some Iraqis, citizens of a nation independent for decades. And that’s even without mentioning the absence of any religious ideology on the part of the Malayan insurgents, unlike the current batch of Iraqi neck-smiters, souped up on petrodollar Wahhabism.

The whole analogy is dud. It’s a pity that the worldview Rich Lowry enjoys from his ivory tower doesn’t let him see it.
And by the way, Rich, over the course of the last 40 years there have been at least four IRA’s - the Official; the Provisional; the Continuity; and the Real. Make sure you know which one you’re talking about next time. For other readers, he was referring to the Provisional.

The Lost Continent

Commentary by Martin Kelly
January 20, 2005

The sins of the neoconservatives are hard to count. To use the words of the old Church, they are hardened in sin, so steeped in the values of aggression, denunciation, intolerance, imperialism, pecculence, propaganda and torture that the immediate future of America under its current ruling class seems very bleak indeed.

However, of all the enemies the neos have made, there is perhaps just one that deserves their scorn – the European Union. Their opposition, of course, does not stem from wholesome reasons; like the UN, it sees it as a rival for international influence.

The European Union is a de facto empire, its governors, the members of the European Commission, de facto satraps who wield almost unlimited and accountable power over the private lives and commercial affairs of nearly 500 million people. Its values are just as bankrupt as those concocted in the mental hellbroth of the American Enterprise Institute but the very fact of its existence holds great appeal for a great many continental Europeans, on an almost atavistic level.

Although the people of continental Europe are extremely committed nationalists, most of them share one principal common memory; that of being conquered people. Whether the conqueror was Rome, Charlemagne, Spain, the Ottomans, Napoleon, the Hapsburgs or the Third Reich, at some point or other in their histories your average continental people will have been occupied at least once, some, like the Dutch, the Serbs and the Poles, several times. The history of the Third Reich shows that just as occupation was righteously opposed by some it was warmly welcomed by others, and it is perhaps this feeling of being able to abdicate responsibility for your own affairs that occupation can bring that makes the secular pan-European dream so dangerously attractive.

However, the limit of the European experiment has been reached – Brussels has just lifted its arms embargo on weapons sales to the Chinese.

Sino-EU relations are advanced – one of the greatest threats to US security comes not from the dastardly goatherders of Fallujah, but from the ‘Galileo’ project. ‘Galileo’ is a Sino-EU joint venture to develop a satellite-based positioning system to rival GPS, using frequencies very similar to those of America’s spies in the sky. The Chinese have almost unlimited ambitions in space, and such projects as these only underline their desire not just to compete with, but to rival, the USA.

One has to wonder what the Chinese have to gain by buying weapons. They are already a nuclear power, the most populous and one of the most advanced countries in their region. They have no predators – there is no invader they could not repel. The only reason they could have for wanting to buy more guns is to improve the ones they already have, to better equip the agents of an already murderous state become even more efficient killers. If they want to improve their guns, one can only wonder against whom they would want to use them.

The greatest irony, of course, is that while the State Department may protest as much as it likes, the White House will continue with the ruinous economics of international free trade, which really means that the American people are financing Chinese armaments by continuing to accept the decline of America’s own manufacturing sector for the sake of what Pat Buchanan has called ‘all that junk at the mall’.

There is much hidden suffering on the continent of Europe, not least of all amongst its young women. One by-product of the end of the Cold War and the descent of Russian public life into turf wars between corporate and corporatised crime gangs has been an increase in what used to rather quaintly be called ‘white slavery’, or the trafficking and sale of females for the purposes of prostitution. Every year, thousands of young women make their way from East to West in the hope of a better life, only to find themselves trapped in the clutches of compatriot pimps.

This is not a civilised place – leastwise, not any more.