Archive for October, 2003

Ha’aretz story

“The Rafah operation, named “Root Canal,” has been underway for 10 days. It involves large numbers of infantry, armor and engineering troops, backed up by attack helicopters. So far the operation has been only partially successful.Three tunnels have been found and demolished. But there is reason to believe that there are many more tunnels running under the border. The tunnels are not only used to move weapons that end up in the hands of the terror organizations, but also to smuggle in goods and merchandise. There’s no disputing the justice of Israel’s position that the tunnels are flagrant violations of past security commitments made by the Palestinian Authority to prevent the uncontrolled flow of arms into areas under its control. No less

understandable is Israel’s frustration over Egypt’s failure to do anything to block the smuggling routes.

But there is nothing in the justification of Israel’s position that can sweepingly justify the military activity underway on the ground –

neither its dimensions nor the character of the operation, which appears to be violent and arbitrary. So far, the operation has led to the deaths of two children, aged 8 and 12, and

apparently other innocents, as well. The operation has destroyed the homes of hundreds of people, who unluckily lived along the border and their homes were searched by soldiers looking for the tunnels. In some cases, homes were demolished because tunnels were indeed found under them. But in other cases, it’s been reported, multi-storey buildings were toppled for no reason.”

“Root Canal”. How amusing. Does anyone really think that this sort of bullying exercise serves any purpose at all? No. The problem is that the Sharon-ist mind assumes that the Palestinians will be bullied into submission, and that this can be achieved by the same means as when Sharon was commanding in Gaza in 1970 – bulldozing houses on a variety of quasimilitary pretexts (“fields of fire”) as a form of preemptive intimidation. It isn’t going to work again. An Irish comedian recently described the War on Terrorism as “like trying to swat a fly in your kitchen with a fridge”. If anyone believes that they are really looking for individual terrorists with bulldozers, I suggest you think on that image.

Ha’aretz story

“The Rafah operation, named “Root Canal,” has been underway for 10 days. It involves large numbers of infantry, armor and engineering troops, backed up by attack helicopters. So far the operation has been only partially successful.Three tunnels have been found and demolished. But there is reason to believe that there are many more tunnels running under the border. The tunnels are not only used to move weapons that end up in the hands of the terror organizations, but also to smuggle in goods and merchandise. There’s no disputing the justice of Israel’s position that the tunnels are flagrant violations of past security commitments made by the Palestinian Authority to prevent the uncontrolled flow of arms into areas under its control. No less

understandable is Israel’s frustration over Egypt’s failure to do anything to block the smuggling routes.

But there is nothing in the justification of Israel’s position that can sweepingly justify the military activity underway on the ground –

neither its dimensions nor the character of the operation, which appears to be violent and arbitrary. So far, the operation has led to the deaths of two children, aged 8 and 12, and

apparently other innocents, as well. The operation has destroyed the homes of hundreds of people, who unluckily lived along the border and their homes were searched by soldiers looking for the tunnels. In some cases, homes were demolished because tunnels were indeed found under them. But in other cases, it’s been reported, multi-storey buildings were toppled for no reason.”

“Root Canal”. How amusing. Does anyone really think that this sort of bullying exercise serves any purpose at all? No. The problem is that the Sharon-ist mind assumes that the Palestinians will be bullied into submission, and that this can be achieved by the same means as when Sharon was commanding in Gaza in 1970 – bulldozing houses on a variety of quasimilitary pretexts (“fields of fire”) as a form of preemptive intimidation. It isn’t going to work again. An Irish comedian recently described the War on Terrorism as “like trying to swat a fly in your kitchen with a fridge”. If anyone believes that they are really looking for individual terrorists with bulldozers, I suggest you think on that image.

But on the other hand

The next crisis bubbles steadily away. How long before a new disaster? I seem to recall saying that having an entirely vacuous brawl with Iraq would take attention and resources off al-Qa’ida and the stabilisation of Afghanistan, and it looks like I was right.

Some good-ish news at last

Well, at least an edging back towards sanity. After all, why does North Korea want nuclear missiles? Because of fear. Address the fear and we can address the missiles. Further, recalling George Kennan’s long telegram on the USSR mentioned yesterday, an insecure and repressive state needs to find enemies to justify its internal repressiveness. Wind down the military confrontation level, and you can expand detente to wider relations between North and South K. And that will make the “magnetic pull” of the South stronger yet – which will eventually lead to peaceful reunification. Yup, it’s the old

Willy Brandt/Egon Bahr line again. Good to see a little professionalism seeping through.

But on the other hand

The next crisis bubbles steadily away. How long before a new disaster? I seem to recall saying that having an entirely vacuous brawl with Iraq would take attention and resources off al-Qa’ida and the stabilisation of Afghanistan, and it looks like I was right.

Some good-ish news at last

Well, at least an edging back towards sanity. After all, why does North Korea want nuclear missiles? Because of fear. Address the fear and we can address the missiles. Further, recalling George Kennan’s long telegram on the USSR mentioned yesterday, an insecure and repressive state needs to find enemies to justify its internal repressiveness. Wind down the military confrontation level, and you can expand detente to wider relations between North and South K. And that will make the “magnetic pull” of the South stronger yet – which will eventually lead to peaceful reunification. Yup, it’s the old

Willy Brandt/Egon Bahr line again. Good to see a little professionalism seeping through.

As the shit storm about Iain Duncan Smith’s wife being paid by the state to be his secretary, after the tax payer was already shelling out £121,000 a year for his salary as leader of the Opposition and he had the services of the party machine to answer his phone calls, brews up, a very curious phenomenon has appeared. That is the mysterious appearance of a whole volley of Mrs DS’ supposed “friends from the school run” writing oddly similar letters to the press. (We shall, obviously, recall that the Conservatives’ main argument in the great debate is that they are utterly free from “promises and spin”.) Strangely enough they all seem to include the phrase “Crick thinks answering the phone in an office (with a skinny latte from Starbucks it took you half an hour to collect, in one version) counts as work but taking a call while cooking pasta for 10 doesn’t”. Now this would be all well and good if it wasn’t so vilely hypocritical. Apart from the frantic spinning of the Tory-wife kitsch, we have to put up with the idea that grabbing as much public money as your well-heeled manners will permit is some kind of laudable feminist statement. Balls. BDS, as I suppose we have to call her, does and will never know anything about struggling – she was born rich and has got richer. It’s typical of the Conservatives that the Duncan Smiths (TDSs?) found it necessary to grab the extra £18,000, and even more typical of the party of Peter Lilley (“I’ve got a little list/Of single mothers who get pregnant/just to jump the housing list”)

to claim this as a blow against patriarchal injustice.

Equally, it’s classically Tory to go on and on and – axewieldingly, acid in the woundly, desperate smackheadly – ON about something called spin which, we are supposed to believe, was invented overnight by Peter Mandelson (gay! Jewish! pro-European!) and Alastair Campbell (weirdly, it already seems odd to type the words) in May, 1997 whereas British politics before that instant had been so many repetitions of Gladstone’s Midlothian campaign – whilst dragging out God knows how many utterly obscure women to pen paeans to the Leader’s wife as a means of relieving their latest leadership crisis. Spin? Not a jot. Neither was there in the personalised e-mail I got from a conservative friend recently, which started off as if written by human hand but turned out to be a top-and-tail job on a standard Central Office newsletter, complete with the ritual announcement that “the Liberal Democrats are being investigated for false advertising”.

Now this is too much. Trading Standards authorities, who the Tories will claim are doing the investigation if you press them, police such legislation as the Sale of Goods Act, the Trades Descriptions Act, Consumer Credit Act, and the Weights and Measures Regulations. I do not see that voting for a political party means engaging in a contract for the supply of goods or services. A contract must involve obligations on both parties and a consideration. Do the Tories really promote paying for votes? It’s a myth. It’s a lie. It is purest spin.

So – you don’t think this bulletin board posting might be a plant?

“Long live China! Long live the Chinese people! ! Long live the Chinese Communist Party! ! ! Long live the Chinese nation! ! ! !”

He’s back safely

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | China hails space hero

So – no need for all that secrecy in the end. An amazing thing, even if it does look like a bottle bank..

Yang Liwei keeps up the tradition of astronauts saying very little of interest, though. His first remark from space was “I feel good”, which is quite up there with Alan Shepard’s “Boy, what a ride!”

That Jiuquan picture

Has pushed the blog skew whiff. It’s being removed until I’ve edited the swine into a more helpful shape.