Archive for the ‘wankers’ Category

OK, so I’m trying to create a dropdown menu with around 40 options using the Python lib Tkinter. I’ve just learned that you can’t just define a command – call it get – and pass in the option as a variable (i.e. def get(variable) and then, for option X, command=get(X)), which brings me the horrible prospect of defining 40 or so functions that would only be different in that they have a different string variable.

This is obviously a stupid way to do it, and one that involves a lot of mindless copying. I’m thinking either: create a list and assign a number to each option, then callback the numbers, or else: do a for..while loop that would create the 40 or so functions when the class is instantiated. I’m not sure how to catch the callback in the first, or whether you’re allowed to autogenerate functions.

Thoughts? (The wanker is me, btw.)

OK, so I’m trying to create a dropdown menu with around 40 options using the Python lib Tkinter. I’ve just learned that you can’t just define a command – call it get – and pass in the option as a variable (i.e. def get(variable) and then, for option X, command=get(X)), which brings me the horrible prospect of defining 40 or so functions that would only be different in that they have a different string variable.

This is obviously a stupid way to do it, and one that involves a lot of mindless copying. I’m thinking either: create a list and assign a number to each option, then callback the numbers, or else: do a for..while loop that would create the 40 or so functions when the class is instantiated. I’m not sure how to catch the callback in the first, or whether you’re allowed to autogenerate functions.

Thoughts? (The wanker is me, btw.)

It didn’t take me long to find out how to make one of those IEDs that supposedly have to come from Iran. After all, there’s always Wikipedia. Wiki has a neat short introduction here, with an even better photo of one. The idea is simplicity itself. Using the Misznay-Schardin effect, which states that as an explosive charge usually exerts force perpendicular to its surfaces, if it is contained on one or more sides the blast will be concentrated on the open side, you back the charge with something solid.

Then, you shape it so the front face forms a convex shape, and fit a sheet of copper to that shape. And, essentially, you’re done. All you need is a stout steel cylinder, something like a compressed gas bottle, and an oxy-acetylene torch or similar. The backing could just be sand – widely available in Iraq, I believe – and the copper could be beaten into shape against something hard (like the curved bottom of the gas bottle) with a hammer. (There’s an interesting USAF publication here.)

I don’t see where I need the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Corps so far.

Doing the first-class compressed gas version will be more complicated, as the seal must be airtight but not strong enough to keep the bang from going out the right end. A trigger – well, there are many ways of doing this, and let’s leave it at that. We are reasonable people, right?

None of this is new. Misznay and Schardin were Nazi engineers. The IRA used various forms of IEDs, including ones with an IR trigger. Some say MI5 told them how to, whether to keep them from learning worse, or to track the spread of memes through the organisation I don’t know. Even before that, the German extreme-leftists knew the art of EFP. The Rote Armee Fraktion assassinated Alfred Herrhausen, a director of Deutsche Bank, with an IR-triggered one in 1989, or at least somebody did.

There’s a great story about IRA links to the Middle East in Robert Fisk’s Pity the Nation. Fisk had thought the rumours were nonsense (he had, after all, been the Times’s Northern Ireland correspondent through the worst of the troubles), until one day when he took cover from an Israeli artillery bombardment and found he was sharing the cover with a man he recognised. The last time he had seen him had been in Derry in 1972, and the man had then been an IRA Volunteer, like you ever stop.

So, there are multiple ways this nasty little craft could have reached Iraq. And there is no necessary reason for Iran – or any other Dr Evil – to be involved. And so says the LA Times.

Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh, whose personal plane, the Ilyushin 62M C5-GNM, is on the UN asset freeze list, is..well. You’d be surprised, but every now and then in this game I see something that shocks even me. Via Ben Goldacre’s Badscience, his pet newspaper, the Daily Observer, would like us all to know he’s discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS, and asthma too. Link:

Jammeh starts curing HIV/AIDS patients today
Written by Lamin M Dibba
Thursday, 18 January 2007
As the world’s scientists and medical doctors continue to scout for an HIV/AIDS cure, which they have not been able to find for the past 20 years, The Gambian leader President Yahya Jammeh yesterday disclosed that he has the cure for the HIV/Aids pandemic as well as asthma.

Today at State House, the Gambian leader will start the treatment of HIV/Aids patients. His treatment of asthma patients will start on Saturday. Below, we reproduce the full text of the Gambian leader’s statement on the cure of the two diseases, delivered at State House at a ceremony attended by the Vice-President, Secretaries of States and many dignitaries.

“I call you to this meeting and maybe you will wonder why I called you including the two Ambassadors from Cuba and Taiwan. I called the two Ambassadors and of course Rose Clair Charles because you have a direct link with the health delivery system of this country. You know that Cuba is a key partner in our health sector and Taiwan is the force behind the Medical Team in The Gambia. This is a follow up to what I said on GRTS that I will now fully participate in the treatment of certain critical cases.

Since 1994, there are many Gambians who know what I can do. A lot of people have been treated in silence or under conditions of strict confidentiality .One would wonder why I start giving medicine to the public and all of a sudden stop. I have been having a lot of queries about that even after we went to the RVTH on Saturday. People were saying, “Well, the President. This is what he does. He will introduce very effective medicines and all of a sudden it will die down and we will not have access to him.”

I had to work on instructions. I don’t have the mandate to do it publicly in great numbers. I was only restricted to a small number so as to be able to prove to people that what I say is what I can do before I have the permission to do it publicly.

I am not speculating on my medicine. There are living witnesses to what my medicine can do. As far as I am concerned it takes only five minutes to cure asthma. I have other medicinal herbs that can take care of a number of illnesses. One of it was the one that was sold publicly at the July 22 Square and the Serrekunda Police Station. But of course, it has to stop at a point because I don’t have the mandate to go beyond that.
I now have the mandate to cure people publicly under strict conditions that I have to abide by otherwise I pay the price.

Now I have the mandate to publicly treat all the diseases on condition that the patient will be treated publicly. In fact, the first and the most important condition is that the person must be diagnosed by a medical practitioner or a medical institution. I am not authorised to treat anybody who just feels sick without a doctor’s confirmation. I can treat asthma and HIV/Aids and the cure is a day’s treatment. Within three days the person should be tested again and I can tell you that he/she will be negative. After the treatment, they have to go to the RVTH for a test again. As I said, I will not treat anybody who is not diagnosed as asthmatic or a HIV/Aids patient by a doctor. I don’t want to give my medicine to a wrong person.” So the reason why I called you is that I have to work with a team of doctors that I can trust. Doctors who will not sabotage my treatment. That does not in anyway mean that I will give them the medicine. These doctors would make sure that the patients abide by the instructions. If I give you the medicine with instructions on how to go about it and you go and do something contrary to that and you turn out to be positive ,don’t blame me. I will not give you names but it is true. It is not a treatment that I speculate on. I am not doing it for money or popularity. The mandate I have is that HIV/Aids cases can be treated on Thursdays. That is the good news and the bad news is that I cannot treat more than ten patients every Thursday. There is nothing I can do about it and if I go beyond that I will have to pay the price.

For asthma, I have to choose between Saturday and Friday. I am also not authorised to treat more than 100 people. I am also not authorised to treat anybody who does not produce a diagnostic paper of asthma or HIV/Aids. One will asked what the Cuban and Taiwanese ambassadors are doing here. The aim is to share the treatment with them because in Taiwan traditional medicine are used. The asthma medicine can be mass produced and packaged and exported to them. The one on HIV/Aids cannot be mass produced because I am restricted to ten patients only on every Thursday and I cannot go beyond that. I want to have a team of three doctors for asthma and HIV/Aids. I want you to select ten HIV/Aids patients: five males and five females for Thursday.

The conditions should be explained to them before they come because if any of them backs out, you cannot replace the one that has backed out. They can eat before coming but they should not eat anything that is oily. The medicine will be given to them in the morning as a preliminary and after, they can eat and in the evening they take it again. Once that is done, they cannot eat anything else the following morning. They may be hungry and thirsty but they have to bear it and that is why they need a doctor to monitor them. Once they have taken the medicine, they should not eat anything no matter what happens till the following day.

Now with regards to asthma treatment, that is the easiest part. When they are coming for treatment in the morning, they should not eat anything that has pepper or seafood when they take the medicine, for four hours they should not eat anything. After that they can eat anything except something that contains oil or seafood. We want to see how we can work with the RVTH to see where these people can be kept until the following morning.With regards to asthma treatment, there is no need to keep them. They can go for six months, without taking anything that is alcoholic. With regards to HIV/Aids, they should be kept at a place that has adequate toilets facilities because they can be going to toilet every five minutes.
Anybody who says he will not be treated publicly should stay away because I have to fulfill the conditions and I will not take risks for anybody.

I am not a witch doctor and in fact you cannot have a witch doctor. You are either a witch or a doctor.”

The degree of moral corruption here makes me actually, physically want to vomit. Here we have the ruler of a sovereign state who is actively promoting God-knows-what quack remedy to his subjects, with the perfectly obvious consequence that many more of them will get HIV and many fewer of them will get effective treatment. The personal aggrandisement involved just adds a pornographically horrible edge to the whole thing.

How many of his subjects can hope for “adequate toilet facilities”, where the word adequate implies ones that don’t put cholera germs in the drinking water, I wonder? I’d love to know what the Cuban and Taiwanese ambassadors’ excuses are, too. The Cubans have a good reputation for medicine. I suspect that the Taiwanese ambassador’s motive was probably to cling to another risible flag pinned to the map.

What is the morally sane response to this? You could wish that he gets the virus himself, it would have a Shakespearian kind of vicious justice, but no doubt he would be off to some Swiss clinic to be topped-up to the teats with antiretroviral agents like a shot. Still, being president for life has a terrible pension plan..

Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh, whose personal plane, the Ilyushin 62M C5-GNM, is on the UN asset freeze list, is..well. You’d be surprised, but every now and then in this game I see something that shocks even me. Via Ben Goldacre’s Badscience, his pet newspaper, the Daily Observer, would like us all to know he’s discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS, and asthma too. Link:

Jammeh starts curing HIV/AIDS patients today
Written by Lamin M Dibba
Thursday, 18 January 2007
As the world’s scientists and medical doctors continue to scout for an HIV/AIDS cure, which they have not been able to find for the past 20 years, The Gambian leader President Yahya Jammeh yesterday disclosed that he has the cure for the HIV/Aids pandemic as well as asthma.

Today at State House, the Gambian leader will start the treatment of HIV/Aids patients. His treatment of asthma patients will start on Saturday. Below, we reproduce the full text of the Gambian leader’s statement on the cure of the two diseases, delivered at State House at a ceremony attended by the Vice-President, Secretaries of States and many dignitaries.

“I call you to this meeting and maybe you will wonder why I called you including the two Ambassadors from Cuba and Taiwan. I called the two Ambassadors and of course Rose Clair Charles because you have a direct link with the health delivery system of this country. You know that Cuba is a key partner in our health sector and Taiwan is the force behind the Medical Team in The Gambia. This is a follow up to what I said on GRTS that I will now fully participate in the treatment of certain critical cases.

Since 1994, there are many Gambians who know what I can do. A lot of people have been treated in silence or under conditions of strict confidentiality .One would wonder why I start giving medicine to the public and all of a sudden stop. I have been having a lot of queries about that even after we went to the RVTH on Saturday. People were saying, “Well, the President. This is what he does. He will introduce very effective medicines and all of a sudden it will die down and we will not have access to him.”

I had to work on instructions. I don’t have the mandate to do it publicly in great numbers. I was only restricted to a small number so as to be able to prove to people that what I say is what I can do before I have the permission to do it publicly.

I am not speculating on my medicine. There are living witnesses to what my medicine can do. As far as I am concerned it takes only five minutes to cure asthma. I have other medicinal herbs that can take care of a number of illnesses. One of it was the one that was sold publicly at the July 22 Square and the Serrekunda Police Station. But of course, it has to stop at a point because I don’t have the mandate to go beyond that.
I now have the mandate to cure people publicly under strict conditions that I have to abide by otherwise I pay the price.

Now I have the mandate to publicly treat all the diseases on condition that the patient will be treated publicly. In fact, the first and the most important condition is that the person must be diagnosed by a medical practitioner or a medical institution. I am not authorised to treat anybody who just feels sick without a doctor’s confirmation. I can treat asthma and HIV/Aids and the cure is a day’s treatment. Within three days the person should be tested again and I can tell you that he/she will be negative. After the treatment, they have to go to the RVTH for a test again. As I said, I will not treat anybody who is not diagnosed as asthmatic or a HIV/Aids patient by a doctor. I don’t want to give my medicine to a wrong person.” So the reason why I called you is that I have to work with a team of doctors that I can trust. Doctors who will not sabotage my treatment. That does not in anyway mean that I will give them the medicine. These doctors would make sure that the patients abide by the instructions. If I give you the medicine with instructions on how to go about it and you go and do something contrary to that and you turn out to be positive ,don’t blame me. I will not give you names but it is true. It is not a treatment that I speculate on. I am not doing it for money or popularity. The mandate I have is that HIV/Aids cases can be treated on Thursdays. That is the good news and the bad news is that I cannot treat more than ten patients every Thursday. There is nothing I can do about it and if I go beyond that I will have to pay the price.

For asthma, I have to choose between Saturday and Friday. I am also not authorised to treat more than 100 people. I am also not authorised to treat anybody who does not produce a diagnostic paper of asthma or HIV/Aids. One will asked what the Cuban and Taiwanese ambassadors are doing here. The aim is to share the treatment with them because in Taiwan traditional medicine are used. The asthma medicine can be mass produced and packaged and exported to them. The one on HIV/Aids cannot be mass produced because I am restricted to ten patients only on every Thursday and I cannot go beyond that. I want to have a team of three doctors for asthma and HIV/Aids. I want you to select ten HIV/Aids patients: five males and five females for Thursday.

The conditions should be explained to them before they come because if any of them backs out, you cannot replace the one that has backed out. They can eat before coming but they should not eat anything that is oily. The medicine will be given to them in the morning as a preliminary and after, they can eat and in the evening they take it again. Once that is done, they cannot eat anything else the following morning. They may be hungry and thirsty but they have to bear it and that is why they need a doctor to monitor them. Once they have taken the medicine, they should not eat anything no matter what happens till the following day.

Now with regards to asthma treatment, that is the easiest part. When they are coming for treatment in the morning, they should not eat anything that has pepper or seafood when they take the medicine, for four hours they should not eat anything. After that they can eat anything except something that contains oil or seafood. We want to see how we can work with the RVTH to see where these people can be kept until the following morning.With regards to asthma treatment, there is no need to keep them. They can go for six months, without taking anything that is alcoholic. With regards to HIV/Aids, they should be kept at a place that has adequate toilets facilities because they can be going to toilet every five minutes.
Anybody who says he will not be treated publicly should stay away because I have to fulfill the conditions and I will not take risks for anybody.

I am not a witch doctor and in fact you cannot have a witch doctor. You are either a witch or a doctor.”

The degree of moral corruption here makes me actually, physically want to vomit. Here we have the ruler of a sovereign state who is actively promoting God-knows-what quack remedy to his subjects, with the perfectly obvious consequence that many more of them will get HIV and many fewer of them will get effective treatment. The personal aggrandisement involved just adds a pornographically horrible edge to the whole thing.

How many of his subjects can hope for “adequate toilet facilities”, where the word adequate implies ones that don’t put cholera germs in the drinking water, I wonder? I’d love to know what the Cuban and Taiwanese ambassadors’ excuses are, too. The Cubans have a good reputation for medicine. I suspect that the Taiwanese ambassador’s motive was probably to cling to another risible flag pinned to the map.

What is the morally sane response to this? You could wish that he gets the virus himself, it would have a Shakespearian kind of vicious justice, but no doubt he would be off to some Swiss clinic to be topped-up to the teats with antiretroviral agents like a shot. Still, being president for life has a terrible pension plan..

Does “Paleoprog” contribute anything to the otherwise indispensable American Footprints at all? Consider this thread, where he is defending the Iranian-IED stories on the grounds that

i base it on what the president, rice, gates and others are now saying.

If I had decided to disbelieve any statement from any of these people out of hand, I’m not sure I’d have lost any net information. But anyway, the Iranian-IED meme is worthy of further consideration. Politicians and senior US generals (if there is a useful distinction between the two categories) routinely brief the press that the best IEDs come from Iran, without ever producing any evidence of this. Now, I know it’s difficult, but they never even give any reason to believe this. Just as routinely, intelligence and army sources counterbrief that there is no evidence.

Less often, named officers go on-the-record with this. The Defence Secretary, Des “Swiss Toni” Browne, has said there is no evidence. So has Lieutenant-Colonel David Labouchere, commanding the Queen’s Royal Hussars battlegroup on the Iranian border of Maysan. I’m sure I remember Major-General Jim Dutton, RM, saying so in an interview. Ah yes, “a lot of speculation but not many facts.”

So is there any reason to believe it? The IEDs of which they speak are the ones described as EFPs, for explosively-formed projectile. This means that the explosive is contained around a cone of metal, copper for preference, which is melted by the explosion and driven as a solid slug into the target. This approximates the way modern tank guns work, (well, as numerous commenters point out, the way anti-tank missiles, RPGs and the like work, although in my defence I will point to HEAT ammunition) and will penetrate practically any armour. Especially advanced ones use compressed gas as a fuel-air explosive to push it and either one of many kinds of command-detonator or an infra-red sensor as a trigger.

There’s nothing incredibly complicated in that. When you think that Iraq in 1991 had a nuclear programme and a space programme, and that even in 2003 it was able to build its own rockets (the Al Samoud IIs), it should be no surprise that there are people running about who could design one. And that’s the difficult bit. The rest just requires a sheet-metal workshop.

Personally, I think the conviction – for without any evidence whatsoever, what else is it? – that EFPs must come from Iran is only explicable by a refusal to believe that Iraq has smart people. The epitaph of the Iraq project is that they are all on the other side.

Update: Check out the new post for more shrilling revelations.

Does “Paleoprog” contribute anything to the otherwise indispensable American Footprints at all? Consider this thread, where he is defending the Iranian-IED stories on the grounds that

i base it on what the president, rice, gates and others are now saying.

If I had decided to disbelieve any statement from any of these people out of hand, I’m not sure I’d have lost any net information. But anyway, the Iranian-IED meme is worthy of further consideration. Politicians and senior US generals (if there is a useful distinction between the two categories) routinely brief the press that the best IEDs come from Iran, without ever producing any evidence of this. Now, I know it’s difficult, but they never even give any reason to believe this. Just as routinely, intelligence and army sources counterbrief that there is no evidence.

Less often, named officers go on-the-record with this. The Defence Secretary, Des “Swiss Toni” Browne, has said there is no evidence. So has Lieutenant-Colonel David Labouchere, commanding the Queen’s Royal Hussars battlegroup on the Iranian border of Maysan. I’m sure I remember Major-General Jim Dutton, RM, saying so in an interview. Ah yes, “a lot of speculation but not many facts.”

So is there any reason to believe it? The IEDs of which they speak are the ones described as EFPs, for explosively-formed projectile. This means that the explosive is contained around a cone of metal, copper for preference, which is melted by the explosion and driven as a solid slug into the target. This approximates the way modern tank guns work, (well, as numerous commenters point out, the way anti-tank missiles, RPGs and the like work, although in my defence I will point to HEAT ammunition) and will penetrate practically any armour. Especially advanced ones use compressed gas as a fuel-air explosive to push it and either one of many kinds of command-detonator or an infra-red sensor as a trigger.

There’s nothing incredibly complicated in that. When you think that Iraq in 1991 had a nuclear programme and a space programme, and that even in 2003 it was able to build its own rockets (the Al Samoud IIs), it should be no surprise that there are people running about who could design one. And that’s the difficult bit. The rest just requires a sheet-metal workshop.

Personally, I think the conviction – for without any evidence whatsoever, what else is it? – that EFPs must come from Iran is only explicable by a refusal to believe that Iraq has smart people. The epitaph of the Iraq project is that they are all on the other side.

Update: Check out the new post for more shrilling revelations.

Amir Taheri

Neocon maniac Amir Taheri writes that

A newspaper that had opposed the war would not tolerate “positive reporting” from Baghdad. One young British reporter who didn’t understand that was surprised to see himself shifted to Paris to become a European correspondent. He had made the mistake of reporting that Iraq looked almost like a success, given where it had come from.

OK, fella. Which one? The Murdochs – the Times, Sunday Times, Sun/NOTW – supported the war. The Telegraph was at the peak of its Conrad Black/Charles Moore phase as a solo neocon faction in the Conservative Party. The Rothermere papers supported it. So did the Express.

That leaves the Independent, which relied on Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn and Kim Sengupta, none of whom were transferred to Paris, the Guardian, whose Rory Carroll wasn’t transferred until after his kidnapping in Iraq some years later, and the Financial Times, which wasn’t opposed to the war so much as protected by its institutional scepticism.

It don’t look good now, does it? Then again, he’s yet to say sorry for inventing the story that Iranian Jews were going to be forced to wear a yellow star.

Tony Blair doesn’t deserve to be allowed aboard one of HM Ships, let alone use one of them to speechify. Some of the press amused themselves by labelling photographs of Devonport Dockyard with the ships awaiting disposal. This wasn’t, perhaps, fair – the two biggest are Fearless and Intrepid, the two assault ships (LPDs) built in the early 1960s and finally used in the Falklands and then to launch Chinooks full of Royal Marines into Afghanistan in 2001, a mission their builders would never have imagined.

They are leaving the Fleet because they have been replaced by three fine ships, Ocean, Bulwark and the one Blair was speaking aboard, Albion. Ocean was laid down before Blair came into office, but the early part of his administration can fairly take credit for the two new LPDs and a gaggle of RFAs that support them. That was way back when the talk was all of the St Malo agreement and shipbuilding to support the ERRF.

Now, half the surface fleet is on the beach to save money in order to fund Afgiraq. Having forced the Navy to accept a large cut in exchange for the approval of the new carriers and SSNs, Admiral Sir Alan West was promised that he would get the carriers and eight Type-45 destroyers for the screen. This is now being battered to cut the T45 order to six, which might not be so bad if the Navy hadn’t already lost its Sea Harrier FA2 aircraft and therefore its fighter capability. The government justification for that was that the T-42 destroyers and T-23 frigates would make up enough layers of defence. The Type 42s couldn’t do it in the Falklands, and the government promptly sold several T-22 and T-23 ships as surplus, the latter in a deal with Romania currently under corruption investigation.

BAE helped, inevitably, with the Astute submarines going massively over budget. Now they are pushing the government to let them buy Vosper Thorneycroft’s shipyards, which would give them a monopoly of naval shipbuilding. Why don’t we rely on Saudi Arabia as our main ally in the Middle East, too? Whoops! On the shore, RAF air transport is hardly functioning and the procurement of new A330 jets is taking forever. The Herks are getting their explosive suppressant foam, but incredibly slowly. Fortunately, the fighter jets are finding it easy enough to defend Lincolnshire, though not cheap. Only the two Gurkha battalions are up to strength out of the whole infantry arm. The FRES vehicle project is going nowhere fast, and the vehicle gap is being filled with a variety of things – modified FV432s out of store, new Viking tracks, Cougar wheeled vehicles. The LIMAWS(G) and (R) light guns are jammed in the pipe. It goes on, and on, and on.

And the best Blair can offer is to whinge about it being “difficult” and tell the soldiers that they have to accept casualties. Interestingly, Blair has seemingly internalised that bloody awful Martin Kettle column I fisked back in October, either that, or Kettle was briefed with the argument, or some such media/political complex threesome. It’s all about finding the right PR strategy to deliver the public. Nothing about aims or means.

He also insists on grossly misrepresenting the concepts of “soft power” and “hard power” – now, I don’t think it was ever the intention of Joseph Nye to portray “soft power” as a dangerous temptation. In fact, Nye argued that soft power – economics, diplomacy, openness, cultural example, technocratic integration – was far more important than hitherto supposed, in fact, it’s the sort of power that lasts. It’s hard to see the difference between soft power and either the EU’s enlargement strategy, a Blair favourite, or Thomas Barnett’s global SysAdmin.

Blair, however, seems to have confused Nye with Robert Kagan (“He Ain’t Surging, He’s My Brother”) and soft power with Kagan’s title “Paradise and Power”, in which he argued that the Europeans were wedded to the idea of a Kantian peace in their backyard and were unwilling to confront security threats. It’s the reasoning of about 2000-2003; the period when it was fashionable to think it would all be better if only the Brits, Americans and a few local-colour allies would just get on with it.

They used to say that the Americans cooked and the Europeans washed up, and I suspect the intellectual DNA of this statement tells us a lot. For a start, if you don’t wash up, first of all, you lose all your friends, and then you get typhoid, which is a rough description of what happened when the theory was tested. At a deeper level, it’s probably significant which gender roles are assigned here. Blair seems to have conceptualised “soft power” as..tempting, corrupting, weakening, decadent, detrimental to the warrior ethos. The Stiftung’s Year of Hating Women is clearly underway.

Further, it’s fucking cheeky of Blair to start going on about “warfighters”, a stupid American notion the British Army doesn’t accept doctrinally, cooked up in the 1990s by US generals who didn’t want to do “peacekeeping” or “operations other than war” when they could be lobbying for something expensive with lasers on. At the same time, we were working on the idea of the “strategic corporal” – that the lowest level of command had to be aware of the political context, rather than being hoo-ah warrior ethos maniacs, because otherwise the context bites you on the arse.

Can anyone guess why Sir Rupert Smith wasn’t chosen to be Chief of the General Staff or Defence Staff?

Well, who else saw Sean Langan’s film from the mission down to Garmser last year? Still can’t stop thinking about it. A small advisory/training team and a company or so of Afghan police were sent down from Camp Bastion to Garmser in the far south to establish a government presence on roads leading in from Pakistan. The operation was expected to last 24 hours.

It lasted six days. Helicopter resupply was delayed again and again, until the medical stores and the ammunition ran short. Even casualty evacuation was held up, again and again, due to the shortage of airlift – the only available Chinook had been summoned to the survivors of a multiple mine strike. The Taliban turned out to have around 1,000 men in the area and ample supplies of mortars, RPGs and 107mm rockets. Not just that, they were firing from positions with concrete overhead cover.

The Toms were fighting from WMIK Land Rovers, mobile and bristling with .50 calibre machine guns but utterly without any armour. The Afghan police, from civilian (US Ford, naturally) pickups. The only suitable vehicle belonged to some Estonian medics. Eventually the “final objective”, a canal just outside the ruins that passed for “town”, was taken, whereupon the Afghan police commander decided that it couldn’t be held. His last appearance had been after a prisoner was brought in, wounded, when he tried to interfere with the medics treating him in order to interrogate – well, torture – the guy, which the Scottish (Army Air Corps – but then, the commander was Household Cavalry, and the team included Camilla’s Killers, Royal Irish and Royal Scots TA among others) RSM saw him off from.

Now, what?

It looks like two US battalions are being withdrawn from Afghanistan for…guess what? The Surge. They should be gone just in time for the spring campaigning season, when the Taliban have been boasting of a drive against the Kabul-Kandahar road. Le Canard Enchainé recently mentioned tales that an SAS patrol near Kabul encountered serious opposition and that infiltrators were feared to be setting up near the city. I’m not sure this has much credence, as one false move anywhere in Afghanistan can mean heavy opposition. But it’s not good.

But digging in that story, there’s worse. Colonel Chris Haas, the head of US special forces operations in Afghanistan, describes the situation as “bleak”. Now, anyone who has read Sean Naylor’s Not a Good Day to Die will know that Haas needs a lot of bleak to put him off. Trucks rolling over? Afghan allies running away? Air support not shown up? Allies want to attack friendly village? Air support turns up and bombs wrong side? No sweat. Bleak.

Meanwhile, the refurbishment of MOD Main Building costs £2.35 billion pounds. Which would fix most of the immediate problems, with a billion left over for spice. But the good news is – the Government wants to X-ray young asylum seekers to check they are not pretending to be young in order to get benefits. The Royal College of Paediatrics says it doesn’t work. The Royal College of Radiographers says it’s unethical to irradiate people without medical purpose. In total, there are 2,500 cases of dispute about age a year, of which 60 per cent in a pilot at the Oakington detention centre were telling the truth. So that’s 1,000 people a year who might perhaps maybe be getting tuppence more than Rupert Murdoch says they should.

And, as always, whoever proposed this is innumerate. At best the examination is accurate to within +-2 years – seeing as the key age is 18 and a range between 16-20, even on the manufacturers’ promise it’s completely useless.