Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Protect vital facilities like oil and power

Two apologies. First, for suddenly posting so often, and second, for this will-you-condemn-athon.

Saudi Arabian troops sent to Bahrain as protests escalate.

There was no official comment on the presence of the troops, but a Saudi official said "the force will work under the directions of the Bahraini government and protect vital facilities like oil and power."


Never mind, I'm sure the protestors can rely on Comrade Blair.

Comrade Cohen has an important and timely post on the vile moral bankruptcy at the heart of the western world. Yes, he's comparing Ed Miliband to Finkler! Shoulder to shoulder with the oppressed, Comrade Cohen, as always.

Bonus: First 30 seconds of this never get old.

Update Wed 16 March: 4 pm At least Gene (no longer the only 'sensible one' at Harry's Place since Sarah joined) is concerned about Bahrain (very few comments, and one of those is me winding Marko up). And he's followed it up with a second disturbing video. At least somebody cares and isn't simply point scoring. Have any British pols said anything about Bahrain?

35 Comments:

Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Ah, good old Nick Cohen. cmplaining about people who 'make everything about Israel' in an article which, er, makes everything about Israel.

Nick's managed to use the SAME - very crap - extract from TFQ he used in his earlier piece on that awful novel. Kudos to his research powers there. Also he doesn't seem to have really understood the novel. Even though the ASHamed Jews sections are such lame satire it's hard to imagine anyone finding them funny, the whole point is that 'Finklerism' changes - Finkler is not the caricature Nick's painting him to be (he is still a caricature, but lal the same). Also Nick seems to think that anyone who opposed Cameron's vapid 'Munich Speech' as part of 'Finklerdom', but part of the point of TFQ's satire on ASHamed Jews is that they're focused obsessively on one thing, Israel, and not on, for example, multiculturalism. Philistinism in excelsis - not even having understood the basic tenets of novels you profess to admire.

But the core sentiment of the original aarowatch post is correct - Nick berates Ed Mili (and everyone else) for not following things in the ME, but is more concerned with attacking the same old targets (why does Nick hate Ed Mili so much?) than following events in the ME.
also:

you can learn much about the characters of non-Jewish Jews by watching how we

we? Cohen's not Jewish. He's not a non-Jewish Jew, but a non-Jew. Odd how he's missed all the satire directed at Treslove in the novel (well it's not that odd, since the satire is even weirder andweaker than the ASHamed Jews stuff, but all the same...).

When David Cameron –admirably, I thought – said his government would stop funding Islamist groups that opposed democracy and the emancipation of women

er, Quilliam? Which Nick wrote about just last week?

3/15/2011 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Anyone who thinks D-Mil is morally superior to E (or, indeed, superior in any sense beyond their hairdos) can piss off.

3/15/2011 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Nick's spectacular and very public disintegration reminds me a lot of Charlie Sheen. It also a terrible reflection on the press in this country that they are prepared to pay good money for his increasingly bizarre outbursts.

3/15/2011 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Oh noes!

3/15/2011 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger john b said...

Ah, but Nick has become a Jew, you see. Not by giyur - that'd be frightfully inconvenient - but by, erm, some crap to do with Decentism and Islington dinner parties.

3/15/2011 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Didn't Seinfeld do this shtick much better before Howard Jacobson?

http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheYadaYada.htm

% Jerry enters confessional, sits down on kneeler. Father Curtis opens sliding door.

Father: That's a kneeler.

Jerry: Oh. (Adjusts accordingly)

Father: Tell me your sins, my son.

Jerry: Well I should tell you that I'm Jewish.

Father: That's no sin.

Jerry: Oh good. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Whatley. I have a suspicion that he's converted to Judaism just for the jokes.

Father: And this offends you as a Jewish person.

Jerry: No, it offends me as a comedian.

3/15/2011 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

If anyone wants an exercise in de-Humphrification, try the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner on PM (c. 4m40s)?

Yes Frank, how serious is this for the Bahraini government? What is to be done about these protests?

(Also features Ken Clarke on libel reform, which if everything else were ticking over nicely would potentially be a commendable bit of legal housekeeping, but in current circumstances is a bit of a sideshow.)

3/15/2011 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

That should be 42m40s btw, if anyone is interested

3/16/2011 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me, somehow, of Giddens visit to Libya.

http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/libya-qaddafi-monitor-group



Guano

3/16/2011 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

The current Eye's In The Back has something on that:

[...] Monitor, which hired the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, and the MI6 agent- turned-BP adviser Sir Mark Allen, also helped Libya build the security and intelligence apparatus which is now being turned against its own people with such bloody effect[...]

Mutassim Gaddafi and the National Security Council he oversees are a pillar of the Libyan regime – thanks in no small part to Monitor. Not only did its suits mentor the trainee despot; they even discussed with MI6, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office the possibility of sending him on bespoke "educational" visits to Britain to learn how to deal with such problems as "dissent and extremism"...these visits were indeed "mooted" [but] they did not in the end take place.

Details of Mutassim's wider apprenticeship emerge from papers leaked to the National Council of the Libyan Opposition[...]

The theoretical curriculum, some of which Mutassim is now putting into practice, included "tracking events, threats and interests... secret intelligence" and "law enforcement".

In a 2006 letter to Mutassim, Monitor Group boss Jonathan Day said the security proposals could "work in parallel with the ideas of General Searby" – Robin Searby being the man Tony Blair had appointed as UK defence coordinator for Libya in 2004 with a brief to "handle... anything to do with weapons sales or military and defence co-operation" between the UK and Libya.
[...]

3/16/2011 07:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Read down to the bottom of this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7066754.stm

3/17/2011 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

BTW, was literal in interpreting this:

While the Foreign Office and MoD told Private Eye these visits were indeed "mooted", they did not in the end take place

'While' seems to limit the scope of 'told' so that it doesn't cover the second half of the sentence. I.e. the Eye is saying that the meetings did not take place, rather than (merely) reporting the FCO and MOD as saying so. (also quotes for mooted, not for "did not take place".

That is unambiguously the correct literal reading (hence was able to detach the second half of the sentence) but it's not entirely clear that it is what they Eye should have said: I don't know what conclusive evidence they might have that the visits did not take place, other than being told so by those who said they were "mooted".

3/17/2011 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I see Marko described you as a 'surrender monkey'. Good to see he hasn't lost his sense of humour.

3/17/2011 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

Did anyone notice Brownie's comment on this thread about Bahrain?

Has anyone stopped to consider what this man may have done to provoke the policeman in such a way? No-one? Whilst we may not in any sense support such an act, surely we can all *understand* why the policeman did what he did? Can’t we? The cold-blooded slaying of an unarmed civilian by an agent of the state doesn’t happen in a vacuum, you know?

According to Gene, Brownie is being "bitterly sarcastic", presumably in an attempt to reveal something or other about the relativism of the rest of the Left which Brownie and HP despise. (Neither mention that the policeman who shoots the protester is on *our* side in TWOT.)

However, since this statement paraphrases completely HP's stand on the de Menezes slaying, I'm a little confused. Indeed on 1st May last year, Brownie had this to say of those who would not vote Labour because of its record on civil liberties and the Iraq war;

The self-indulgence of the effete, middle-class, nothing-to-lose, self-describing ‘progressive’ rears its ugly head once more. Fuck ‘em all

So is Brownie being serious or ironic now? As a (longtime) member of that effete relativistic Left can I just point out that I condemn all extra-judicial killings of civilians by agents of the state?

3/17/2011 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

I can't believe you just pulled my comment

3/17/2011 10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I think in that instance Brownie is being sarcastic, though I do like the way that HP Saucers so often have to explain their own 'jokes'.

It's no surprise that people on HP took the comments at face value, because as you say they mirror perfectly the position on De Menezes.

Equally, as many are doing, bringing up the fact that Gadaffi's actions have been nowhere near as deadly for civilians as, say 'Cast Lead' or Lebanon 2006, simply gets one called an anti-semite. And equally, the fact that not a single one of them seems to be supporting any action in Bahrain is very telling. David Cameron - who as far as I can tell has done nothing other than indulge in gesture politics and soundbite-firing over all of this - is getting much praise over there too.

I'd though, in the past, that support for war against Iraq might have been borne out of support for democracy, human rights, etc. but it does genuinely seem to me now that Decency is really just about getting behind whatever war the Govt is preparing for. There's simply no way that this military action is as justified as, say, calling for a ceasefire in Lebanon in 2006; there's no way it's as justified as moving against Saudi and Bahrain. It's just 'pick on the dictators with weak armies' once again.

Also - I've not seen this anywhere - surely we simply can't afford this?

3/18/2011 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Aaro's patter on righteous bombing campaigns has evolved a little, in the last eight years or so. He's less gung-ho in today's article, and more willing to acknowledge the complex logistical and political difficulties of military operations before he entirely dicks them off as an irrelevance and demands lots of bombs and explosions for the Greater Good.

I'll do a smart-arsed summary of today's column round about lunchtime or so.

3/18/2011 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Equally, as many are doing, bringing up the fact that Gadaffi's actions have been nowhere near as deadly for civilians as, say 'Cast Lead' or Lebanon 2006,

I really don't think we know this. We know that Israel killed between 1300 and 1500 civilians in those conflicts but we have no idea how many civilians have been killed in Libya because we have been able to get any reliable information from affected areas. It could be that many more civilians have been killed in Libya.

I opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I also think that intervention in Libya is not driven by altruistic motives. The EU is terrified about large scale refugee flows and Britain and France are guided more by a desire to protect their oil interests. They know that Gadaffi can't survive in even the medium term and want to back the winner in this war. The Libyan rebels have made it obvious that they will remember who supported them and who didn't and that will affect how they allocate their energy reserves in the future.

However despite all this I still think very reluctantly that there is case for intervening. This isn't Iraq. Gadaffi's military is tiny in comparison and the state doesn't have comparable ethnic cleavages. Its also got UN/Arab League backing and won't have a disastrous American occupation government in charge once the smoke clears. I note that Conor Foley, hardly a gung ho militarist, has also expressed support for the intervention.

None of this changes the fact that our policy is places like Saudi or Bahrain involves the suppression of democracy and is an absolute disgrace but you have to separate out each case and treat them on their merits.

Also I don't accept the argument that we 'simply can't afford this'. The sums involved in enforcing a no fly zone are piffling in comparison to our total military budget, never mind in comparison to our total economy. We are an immensely rich nation. The problem is that the top 10% have taken all the wealth and are massively under-taxed.

3/18/2011 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Sorry should have been 'ethnic/sectarian cleavages' in last post

3/18/2011 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Right, with a heavy heart, here's today's Aaro in the Times... (Drum roll)

I don't know exactly what will happen when the Gaddafis get to Benghazi. Having said that, Gaddafi will literally torture almost everybody to death; drive the rest into exile, and Gaddafi will forever be known as the Butcher of Benghazi.

Okay, so, maybe I did say that I didn't know what would happen. But that's what will happen.

Nonetheless, "Some anti-interventionists" hope that this could be resolved by mediation, the idiots. I laugh at such foolishness. (A quick Google reveals that "some interventionists" probably equals "Hugo Chavez", who is a bit too mental for the simple tag "Non-interventionist").

People say there is a limit to what we can "realistically" accomplish. (Scare quotes copyright D. Aaronovitch, 2011).

Right wingers warn that if we intervene, local tribal and political factors may complicate matters, but this idea can be dismissed for some reason.

Left wingers say that a homegrown revolution will have more legitimacy if it isn't backed up by countries that have a proven record of invading people and stealing their shit. They say that because a lot of them probably think Colonel Gaddafi and William Hague are equally nice...

(More to follow, and do bear in mind that I'm being intentionally unfair here, although not that much...)

3/18/2011 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

...It didn't look like the Americans had any strategic interest in intervening, although they should, because of a series of factors that will only affect Europe.

This isn't Rwanda - there's more at stake than our precious consciences. First, French far right arseclown Marine Le Pen (!) pointed out that a Gaddafi win = loads of immigrants. I agree.

Second, our failure to act emboldened Slobodan Milosevic (Someone else will have to do this bit, I was at high school).

Gaddafi's success would hardly discourage other unnamed despots, although who knows how, say, the autocrats of Saudi Arabia would take it? I don't mention them, likely because of potentially inconvenient comparisons re: Bahrain.

Third, if we don't intervene, Gaddafi's victory will be a propaganda boost for Al Qaeda, just like Bosnia was (!!!ZOMFG whatthafuxxorz!!). Oh yes, western intervention is very definitely the key to stopping Jihadism. Let's not mention any other events in which western intervention may have proved less than successful in this regard.

We should bomb Gaddafi's tanks. If we don't, he'll kill everyone, and piss on the chips of the Arab Spring.

In short, there are a lot of reasons to be cautious, but we should ignore them and just bomb the shit out of Gaddafi's forces. After all, "The Price Of Inaction Is Too High".

The price of Action however is, as always, a lot of Trot silliness that should be dicked off as the irrelevance it is, until my next "Al Qaeda ate our homework/Why we were right to bomb the shit out of (x)" column.

3/18/2011 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

"I really don't think we know this. We know that Israel killed between 1300 and 1500 civilians in those conflicts but we have no idea how many civilians have been killed in Libya because we have been able to get any reliable information from affected areas. It could be that many more civilians have been killed in Libya."

Or equally, many fewer.

"I opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I also think that intervention in Libya is not driven by altruistic motives. The EU is terrified about large scale refugee flows and Britain and France are guided more by a desire to protect their oil interests. They know that Gadaffi can't survive in even the medium term and want to back the winner in this war. The Libyan rebels have made it obvious that they will remember who supported them and who didn't and that will affect how they allocate their energy reserves in the future."

Seems like good reasons not to support military action. If the governments are taking action for non-altruistic purposes, why would any war be prosecuted in a trustworthy way? Why would we trust civilians to be protected if that's NOT what they're going in for? Especially when:

1) our governments are supporting Saudi and UAE police and troops going into Bahrain

2) the UN resolution is open ended enough to allow what happened in Kosovo to happen again - bombing of civilian infrastructure

If their motives aren't pure, why should we trust the war will be? You can't give governments an inch, because they will take a mile - surely that's the main lesson learnt since 2001?

"Its also got UN/Arab League backing"

True, but I'm not entirely sure why Arab League backing is important to everyone all of sudden. Surely the dictators that make up the League are part of the problem.

"and won't have a disastrous American occupation government in charge once the smoke clears"

How do you know this? If/when Gaddafi falls, there has to be some planning for the aftermath. Have you seen it? How do we know it won't be as incompetent as last time?

The UN resolution doesn't allow an occupation force, but imagine if the killing continues and our intervention hasn't had enough of an impact. Won't there be calls to expand further, to not throw in the towel, to not let all that sunk cost go to waste?

"I note that Conor Foley, hardly a gung ho militarist, has also expressed support for the intervention."

Great, and Johann Hari supported the Iraq war. So what?

"None of this changes the fact that our policy is places like Saudi or Bahrain involves the suppression of democracy and is an absolute disgrace but you have to separate out each case and treat them on their merits."

I fundamentally disagree with this. The same actors that seem so concerned with helping protect Libyans are supporting repression elsewhere. It would be like trusting a known child rapist to look after your sick child while we all go get pissed night after night for five years, occasionally tuning in to check on your child via media reporting updates from Official Paedophile Sources.

"Also I don't accept the argument that we 'simply can't afford this'. The sums involved in enforcing a no fly zone are piffling in comparison to our total military budget, never mind in comparison to our total economy. We are an immensely rich nation. The problem is that the top 10% have taken all the wealth and are massively under-taxed."

I agree. But it does rather go against the Coalition's argument that "WE R BROKE" and therefore "KEYNES IS DEAD". If we can afford this, and a £7 billion loan to Ireland too, then why are we slashing public services?

"the state doesn't have comparable ethnic cleavages"

It has tribal divisions instead.

3/18/2011 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Did anyone notice Brownie's comment

No

3/18/2011 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

What Alex said. The US etc basically want to get Gaddaffi, so are weighing in on what appears to be a civil war/coup attempt, unlike mass uprisings of civilians, major ongoing military attacks on which would creates a clear case for intervention. The whole media reporting of this has had a railroad-y feel to it. Long on civilan casualties, short on detail, or on direct discussion of the armed rebellion.

Also notice that Cameron's remarks in response to the ceasefire announcement (the latter being a fairly shrewd move by G) make it pretty clear that the intention is to press ahead now that the resolution is in hand, without bothering too much about details.

Also re: the Rodent's remarks on Aaro's current column. In the course of doing a post about his remarks re Assange, was looking at his war rhetoric pre Af. Hadn't realised that he was talking about Iraq only 10 days after 9/11.

3/18/2011 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

The US etc basically want to get Gaddaffi, so are weighing in on what appears to be a civil war/coup attempt, unlike mass uprisings of civilians, major ongoing military attacks on which would creates a clear case for intervention.

What's the motive? Up until yesterday the US had been briefing that it had no national interest in Libya.

3/18/2011 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Are you saying you don;t think the US want to get G? I'm sure they will be supplying lots of reasons why they do want to get him, now that they have a war to justify. Cameron has certainly been doing so.

But basically, I would have thought

(a) has oil and gas/is in middle east

in conjunction with

(b) is not an ally, far from it;

and

(c) is hated and hostile figure who probably knows various discrediting info e.g. poss. about Lockerbie, thus could do with being hanged after a kangaroo trial or killed in action

would do it. It's all very 2003.

3/18/2011 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

This strikes me as being a bit too elaborate. I'd have thought it clsoer to the truth that the US and UK saw a movement against Gaddafi which looked like overthrowing him, and leapt on board,. When the tide turned, they didn't have much option but to cobble something together in response. I don't suppose they know where they're going with it - I do suppose that the crushing of Bahrain is part of the price for not allowing Gaddafi to win.

Thing is, I can't see Gaddafi packing it in unless he's made to. So how's that going to happen? If the insurrection didn't do the job, is it going to be an invasion? If so, God alone knows what happens then. (And God alone knows what further price will be demanded.)

3/18/2011 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Well, yes, these are standing motives which hardly need to be consciously reiterated at every step. As said, shurely no-one is seriously doubting that the US etc would like to get Gadaffi.

3/18/2011 08:25:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I agree with eje. The whole operation smells of opportunism. The western powers want to back a winner. However it all looks very messy. Gadaffi is not going to cut and run and I can't imagine that the us would be prepared to put boots on the ground.

3/18/2011 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

This all reminds me of that War scetch from The Day to Day, the west has become a parody of itself.

3/18/2011 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

In Decency news today, the Mighty Walzer has looked at the Libya situation and decided that No sir, he doesn't like it...

http://tinyurl.com/6epeey2

On the relevant HP thread, Aaro pops up to disagree thusly...

Hmm. I like Walzer but:
1. Is true but inevitable unless we set regime change as an objective.
2. Is arguable. There is certainly support in Libya and the Arab League backed it.
3. Is irrelevant. Can you imagine Russia saying that its abstention is rendered less valid by, say, French support for the Resolution?
4. Is, I think, untrue. There would have been a massacre in Benghazi.


No news on Norm's take on things, which should be entertaining given his habit of clobbering wrong-thinkers over the head with Walzer's words of wisdom.

3/22/2011 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

That Waltzer article is really odd isn't it particularly this bit.

None of this would matter if this were a humanitarian intervention to stop a massacre. But that is not what is happening in Libya today. There would have been a cruel repression after a Qaddafi victory, and it would have been necessary to help rebels and dissidents escape and to make sure that they had a place to go. Watching the repression wouldn’t be easy (though we seem to be having no difficulty doing that in Bahrain and Yemen)

How does he know that a massacre wouldn't have taken place? The closest parallel I can think of is the 1991 Iraqi uprisings when 'a massacre' most certainly did take place. Hundreds of thousands of Shia and Kurds were butchered by Saddam and I have no reason to think that Gaddafi would be any more merciful. The stuff about allowing dissidents to escape is just bizarre. Benghazi has about a million people. Where would they all go? The EU? I can't see that suggestion going down well in Brussels.

3/22/2011 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Yes, that does seem odd - a Benghazi massacre, as Aaro (if it is in fact he) says, was surely on the cards.

The only opposition of his that holds ground, for me, is the first one:

it is radically unclear what the purpose of the intervention is—there is no endgame, as a U.S. official told reporters. Is the goal to rescue a failed rebellion, turn things around, use Western armies to do what the rebels couldn’t do themselves: overthrow Qaddafi? Or is it just to keep the fighting going for as long as possible, in the hope that the rebellion will catch fire, and Libyans will get rid of the Qaddafi regime by themselves? Or is it just to achieve a cease-fire, which would leave Qaddafi in control of most of the country and probably more than willing to bide his time? The size of the opening attack points toward the first of these, but success there would probably require soldiers on the ground, which no one in France, Britain, or the United States really wants. The second is the most likely goal, though it would extend, not stop, the bloodshed.

Worth quoting in full, I think. Despite the overwhelming parliamentary vote, from what i can tell there was serious dsquit about this in the commons, and you can't simply dismiss it as Aaro does: 'true but inevitable unless we set regime change as an objective.' It seems to me that the only reason it got Arab League support, and astains instead of vetos, was because the resolution stopped short of endorsing either regime change or troops on the ground.

3/22/2011 04:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry T said...

Perhaps to compensate for Sarah's arrival, a previous holder of the title "the sensible one at HP", David T, has now gone charging off the edge of the world here:

When Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller says “resolution of the Palestinian question”, she uses that vague term to disguise what is really meant.

There’s a hope that if Jews are cleansed from the Arabian Peninsula, that Christians might be allowed to stay, for the purpose of selling arms or extracting oil.

That's the former D-G of MI5, allegedly hoping for the ethnic cleansing of Jews.

3/22/2011 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarah AB said...

Belated thanks, Chardonnay Chap (for the 'sensible' comment.)

3/22/2011 08:20:00 PM  

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