Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Oh, East is East and West is West

We came to smite the Arab Brute
And pulled him from a rabbit hole.
Our goal achieved,
We could not leave,
Which seemed a trifle droll . . .

Now, helling 'round
These shifting sands
May taste of grand adventure.
But oh the cost,
It sets you back,
In blood, and limbs, and treasure.

The Economist has a worthy article, Mugged by Reality, on the "troubles" in Iraq. As a sidebar, there is a comparison of Iraqi survey results between 2005 and 2007 on a number of illuminating questions.

What went wrong? Well, for starters:

". . . there can be no denying that the project was bungled from the start. Western intelligence failed to discover that Saddam had destroyed all his weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the removal of which was the main rationale for the war. However, the incompetence went beyond this. The war was launched by a divided administration that had no settled notion of how to run Iraq after the conquest. The general who warned Congress that stabilising the country would require several hundred thousand troops was sacked for his prescience.

America's plans for Iraq's political transition were also rudimentary, to the extent that they existed at all. The Pentagon wanted Mr Chalabi and his fellow exiles put swiftly in charge. The State Department thought an American administration would have to be installed. State had organised a pre-invasion Future of Iraq project, but the Pentagon declined to adopt its ideas. Several knowledgeable State Department Arabists were prevented from going to Iraq because they were deemed ideologically unsound. Jay Garner, an amiable general called in from retirement to manage the transition under an understaffed ad hoc body known as the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, received no intelligible instructions from Washington, and baffled the liberated Iraqis in his turn. “You're in charge,” he told a gathering of 300 or so mystified tribal leaders and exiles who attended a conference soon after his arrival, hoping to discover what the future held under Iraq's new rulers."

I don't know why I'm quoting all of this, when I've already linked to the article. I suppose that - having spent myself in a frenzy of poetic composition - I've little left to add.

The survey results are worth touching on, though.

78% of Iraqis polled in 2007 "somewhat" or "strongly" opposed the presence of coalition forces in Iraq, as compared to 65% in 2005. (When were we ever loved for our sacrifices?)

51% saw attacks on coalition forces as "acceptable" in 2007, as compared to 17% in 2005. (A promising trend.)

The question, "Which political system do you think would be best for Iraq now?" elicited the following responses in 2007:

Strong leader: a government headed by one man for life: 34%

Islamic state: politicians rule according to religious principles: 22%

Well, there you go! 56% of Iraqis favor either a return to dictatorship, or life under a theocracy similar to Iran.

Yes, the remainder opted for "democracy," whatever the hell that means in the Iraqi context. (To be fair, I'm increasingly unclear as to what is meant by "democracy" in the American context. But that's for another day.)

In regard to the current state of Iraqi democracy, the article has this to say:

In public utterances Mr Maliki is careful to say all the right things about national reconciliation. These are encouraging pointers. The trouble is that Americans who listen in to his government's internal chatter are horrified by what they hear. Some conclude that the Shias have no real intention to share power, only to string America along while using its firepower to destroy rivals and entrench their own dominion. It is also uncertain whether the politicians who claim to speak for the Sunnis in the National Assembly are close enough to the insurgents to make them stop fighting even in the event of a political settlement. In short, time may show that the democratic structure the Americans worked so hard to install can neither run Iraq nor reconcile its warring clans.

To quote Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now:

"Oh man, the bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam that you needed wings to stay above it."

Come to think of it, he offers another salient quote:

"The war was being run by a bunch of four-star clowns who were about to give the whole circus away."

In the case of Iraq, I blame not the clowns, but the ringmasters.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

There'll always be a Germany

"Animal rights activists argue that he should be given a lethal injection rather than brought up suffering the humiliation of being treated as a domestic pet."

In what amounts to a kind of four dimensional mind-fuck of which only the Germans are fully capable, animal rights activists in the "Blood and Iron" Republic, sorry, that would be the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, are demanding the execution of Knut, a cuddly little polar bear cub, on the grounds that - his existence having been tainted through human contact - he is fit now only for the Gaskammer . . . err, sorry, the executioner's needle.

According to the article:

Activists argue that it is inappropriate for a predator, known for its fierceness and ability to fend for itself in the wild, to be snuggled.

"The zoo must kill the bear," said spokesman Frank Albrecht. "Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws."

Well, if he's been snuggled, what the hell, a quick bullet through the skull should take care of that.

When Knut and his brother cub were born, they were neglected by their mother (and how these "animal rights activists" must have swooned in admiration over her steely indifference to the mewling cries of her starving cubs). The cub brother (the weakling, natürlich) died, but the zoo's staff stepped in to feed and care for little Knut.

Mein Gott! How dare they encroach upon the will of nature in the unending battle for survival!! A gross violation!!! Most unforgivable!!!!

To carry on with our Teutonic tale:

" . . . Albrecht and other activists fret that it is inappropriate for a predator, known for its fierceness and ability to fend for itself in the wild, to be snuggled, bottle-fed and made into a commodity by zookeepers.

They argue that current treatment of the cub is inhumane and could cause him future difficulties interacting with fellow polar bears. "They cannot domesticate a wild animal," added Ruediger Schmiedel, head of the Foundation for Bears."

I guess his "fierceness" having been compromised, he can never truly earn his place in Bear Valhalla, where he might - in an eternal ecstasy of bloody triumph - rend seal flesh with his glistening fangs, as his prey shrieks and howls in horrid agony.

What glory this must be!

Just who were these cowardly interlopers who first thrust the milch bottle between those noble jaws? And how dare they claim to be the "keepers" of the bears.

Even Achen zoo director,Wolfram Ludwig, had the following to say:

"I don’t think it is right that he should grow up fixated on his keeper and reliant on him for everything. He will not be a proper Polar bear.

"But I also think it is too late to kill him now: the courage to do this should have been found sooner."

Ah, so it all comes down to "courage" in the end. Most appropriate, don't you agree, mein Kamerade? The will to do the unspeakable, isn't this ultimately the mark of the Überbear, and of all those who would defend his dignity? To the death . . . to the death.

In my previous post, I alluded to Europe's twilight and eventual demise. In light of these events, I am now reconsidering this prognosis.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Telegraph Trifecta

The following three articles all appeared on a single day in the Telegraph. The first predicts that at least 2.2 million migrants will arrive in the rich world every year from now until 2050, resulting in the growth of the British population from 60 to 69 million, an increase of 15%. Virtually all of that increase will result from immigration.

The article states that, "between 1970 and 1980, the rich world took about one million migrants a year from poor countries. During the next 43 years, immigration will run at more than twice that level and approach 2.3 million every year from now until 2050."

The demographic future of Europe is decidedly mixed. According to UN projections, populations in the UK, France, and Spain will increase over the next half century while - despite widespread immigration from Asia and Africa - populations throughout much of Western Europe will fall, for example, by over 10% in Germany and 7% in Italy. The situation in Eastern Europe is even bleaker, with Poland losing 20%, Russia 24%, and Bulgaria (the champ) a whopping 35% of their populations.

The article concludes with the following statistics and observations:

"By 2050, India will have the highest population in the world, totalling almost 1.7 billion people. There will be 292 million Pakistanis, giving their country the fifth biggest population. Nigeria will have 289 million people - making it the world's sixth most populous country - and Uganda's population will rise to 93 million, comfortably exceeding the totals in both its larger neighbours, Kenya and Tanzania.

The UN's population predictions have proved largely accurate in the past. While the margin of error for these figures runs into the millions, the broad trends they disclose are undisputed."

The second article in the Telegraph concerns the cancellation of a speech at the University of Leeds by Matthias Küntzel, a German author and political scientist. The title of Dr. Kunzel's talk (with workshop scheduled to follow): Hitler's Legacy: Islamic Anti-semitism in the Middle East.

According to the article:

In a statement yesterday, two academics in the Leeds German department, which had organised the event, claimed the university had bowed "to Muslim protests". Dr Küntzel said he had given similar addresses around the world and there had been no problems.

Dr Küntzel said the contents of emails described to him did not overtly threaten violence but "they were very, very strongly worded''.

One of the protest emails, from a student who describes himself as ''of both Middle Eastern and Islamic background", complained that the title of the event was "profoundly offensive''. It added: ''To insinuate that there is a direct link between Islam and anti-semitism is not only a sweeping generalisation but also an erroneous statement that holds no essence of truth."

According to a statement by the university:

"The decision to cancel the meeting has nothing to do with academic freedom, freedom of speech, anti-semitism or Islamophobia and those claiming that is the case are making mischief.

Nor are we bowing to threats or protests from interest groups. The meeting has been cancelled on safety grounds alone and because - contrary to our rules - no assessment of risk to people or property has been carried out, no stewarding arrangements are in place and we were not given sufficient notice to ensure safety and public order."

Mightn't this also qualify as "an erroneous statement that holds no essence of truth"? I suppose that, to answer this question - or even to ask it, could be construed as "making mischief," which is of course just one small step away from "Islamophobia." Best to move on.

And the last of our three articles concerns a report published by something called "Demos," allegedly a "think tank" on the cutting edge of British culture. The report emphasizes the need to instruct new arrivals to the United Kingdom in such idioms as "Hinglish, Spanglish, and Chinglish."

According to the article:

The Demos report says the language is no longer the preserve of the English, who are "just one of many shareholders' in a global asset".

The report maintains that the British attitude to English ''is better suited to the days of the British Empire than the modern world.

"Far from being corruptions of English, new forms of the language such as 'Chinglish' have values that we must learn to accommodate and relate to," it adds. It proposes that immigrants, who are required to learn English if they want to be citizens, should be able to do so "in ways which best allow them to contribute to British culture on their own terms".

You may connect the dots as you see fit and draw whatever conclusions you deem appropriate. Personally, I'd advise anyone contemplating a trip to Europe to . . . uh, see it while you can.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

This is England . . . Land of One Thousand Sunsets

Kudos to the students of Oxford University in their campaign to force the dismissal of Professor David Coleman. Their "justification?" Dr. Coleman's research into the relationship between immigration and various undesirable social phenomena has led to certain conclusions not shared by the student body. Send him packing!

How inspiring to see that the spirit of vigorous inquiry is alive and well at one of Britain's more hallowed institutions. As the Daily Mail reports:

Oxford Student Action for Refugees has circulated a petition seeking the removal of Professor David Coleman, a leading expert in demographics, because of his connections with MigrationWatch.

The students believe that because MigrationWatch warns about the negative effects of present and future immigration, it is inherently racist.

If I had more energy I might analyze this controversy in greater detail, but at the moment, with my nose dripping from an endless cold, or spring allergies, or something, I simply can't be arsed. Yes, I do love those British isms, even as Britain herself recedes beneath the waves. Pity.

Eminent and troublesome British historian Norman Stone, himself the target of accusations of sexism at Oxford and now a resident of Istanbul, had the following to say regarding the self-righteous little twerps hell-bent on driving this issue forward:

"What a nuisance - it's an absurd over-reaction. The poor darlings. It just shows they've got nothing better to do. They're just striking attitudes. They're a pest."

When Professor Stone says "darlings," I think that he actually means "twats!"

What makes this campaign particularly galling is that these spiteful little cunts have the temerity to insist that their goal is not to hound out a professor with whom they disagree, but to "invite debate."

"One of the students behind the petition, Kieran Hutchinson Dean, 19, said the aim was to invite debate.

He said: "We are not expecting the professor to be sacked straight away. But we ask that he refrains from using his academic status when promoting his own views.

"If he does not refrain he is representing the university as a whole and many of us do not agree with his views."


I wonder if anyone's invited him to shove that petition up his arse and set it aflame?

Says another one of these whinging little poms:

"Our campaign against Coleman has been characterised as a personal attack, but it is more about opening up a wider debate.

"The main point is to raise awareness of his views and affiliations among students.

"Academic freedom is not absolute and people using their academic titles should recognise this."

Lying little wanker!

Why not just cede to the government the power from this day forward to determine what we may and may not say if we wish to remain employed and/or out of prison? That's the way these nasty little prats want it anyway, as the good Ken Frost might say.

Having exhausted my arsenal of British insults, I now invite my readers to replenish the supply.