All entries for April 2007

April 30, 2007

Did Israel ever get the soldiers back?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6608649.stm

It’s never been reported whether Israel actually got the soldiers back after the assault on Hezbollah in Lebanon last year, which was supposedly the reason they attacked in the first place (or was it a WMD type thing?). It’s one of these stories that’s fallen out of the media but I don’t recall seeing any follow up anywhere.

Does anyone know?


April 16, 2007

There is only one basic human right

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please.

And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

(P.J. O’Rourke)


April 11, 2007

Life on Mars…. a "cop out" ending?

Writing about Life on Mars: The ending? from Autology: John Dale's blog

I have to say that I was quite disappointed by the ending of Life on Mars last night. It seemed a poorly written episode with much of the quality and tightness of the script seen previously missing. Maybe they were just trying to get too much into one episode. I wonder what the other ending was like. Maybe it will only be a matter of time before it appears on YouTube.

I know that my own pet theory was wide of the mark but the plot they came up with seemed, well, pretty tame. Almost just plotting by the numbers. And the other characters were just two dimensional this time around. If anyone ever saw “The Prisoner”, well, I think they had the same problem ending that. We were promised a “complex” ending, but it wasn’t.

What did others think?


April 03, 2007

Q: How many people does it take to change the world? A: Fifteen

I have an idea that we are witnessing a fundamental shift in the balance of the world and the detention of the fifteen Royal Navy personnel are quite possibly the most obvious symptom. Shifts are always long term processes but now and again events surface that hint at what is going on below.

The twentieth century has been known as the American century, but could possibly be better described as being the Western century. During the 19th century the West being the most advanced part of the planet industrially and economically had the chance to spread its influence into the less developed parts of the world and this was formalised during the first half of the twentieth century as two wars were fought wherever the empires bumped against each other. The Cold War locked this situation in place in a strategic sense but economically other countries have continued to develop.

It seems that the US and Britain have ‘traded’ on this reputation of superiority but maybe now it is being questioned. Following the end of the Cold War and the ‘cashing’ of the Peace Dividend, where substantial force draw downs took place, their military muscles have been repeatedly flexed: in Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq again. The US took on a ‘war-and-a-half’ direction the basis being that if there were two crises requiring committment of US forces simultaneously then one theatre of operations would be held while the other fought to a conclusion whereupon the latter’s forces would be withdrawn and recommitted to fight the former to its conclusion.

The Americans, however, are in the tricky situation of being unable to withdraw their forces from their ‘first’ theatre. Like Brer Rabbit and the tar baby, the Americans have become stuck and this has been becoming more and more apparent to other countries who are seeing ways and opportunities to take advantage of it.

The North Koreans are testing rockets and possibly nuclear bombs. They have a window of oppportunity to produce their own national deterent before the US disengages from the middle east. Similarly the Iranians are pushing on with their own research while the West cannot realistically deter them. Even the Argentinians are again raising the issue of the Falkland Islands sovereignty.

Only the Iranians are in direct contact with the West where armed forces are concerned. It’s just small fry at the moment and, anyway, the Iranians must have worked out by now that the West is temporarily impotent. They are presently safe from any realistic military intervention. This is the moment for the Iranians to make other people aware of their growing power.

The Iranians are confident enough to assert themselves at the head of the Gulf. What method they use, it does not matter. Their right to local freedom of navigation is simply the tool of choice and a very gentle flexing of muscle. The point is that they are telling the world to treat them seriously, that right now they are a regional player.

British media and senior British and American politicians seem to be taking the view that because the West have historically been the big powers they can simply tell the Iranians what to do: because the Iranians are, in Western eyes, a second or third division nation. The Iranians are telling the world that they do not wish to be dictated to, that they want to be treated as equals to the West, at least on a regional basis.

Cultural differences are there, too. Iranians are not Arabs but Persians but through religion they share many of the same values as the rest of the middle east. Personal relationships are not transitory things but exist to be developed and enriched. Given the recent media performances by Blair and co, it’s not surprising that the Iranians have talked about ‘incorrect attitudes’. This is another indicator that the Iranians are going to stand their ground this time until they are treated with the same respect that would be accorded any Western nation.

And when they are, there will have been a small but perceptible shift in the balance of power in the region. And that’s why fifteen people can change the world.


April 2007

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