Saddam’s Trial – Iraq and post-war reconstruction

a saddam.jpg


Of course, Saddam should be tried, but it makes no sense to do it against a background of a civil war in which he is, alas, still a figurehead

Saddam is being tried when the war to remove him is increasingly recognised as a disaster

Saddam’s trial wouldn’t pass for justice in a dictatorship

There is one last excuse for those of us who were so trusting as to support the war in Iraq — and that excuse is disintegrating before our eyes.

We were soon proved wrong in our assumption that the Pentagon had serious plans for post-war reconstruction: the Americans hadn’t a clue. We were hopelessly wrong in imagining that the Iraqis would somehow work together to build a brighter tomorrow: they are engaged in a civil war of ever mounting savagery.


But we optimists clutched at one final consolation, one solid benefit that we had conferred on the Iraqi people. We may have triggered a war that has so far claimed the lives of 58,000 people, most of them innocent civilians; and yet, amid all the carnage and the suicides and the beheadings, we persuaded ourselves that we had installed one shining Western institution to be an example to the benighted Middle East. At least, we preened ourselves, we have put that monster Saddam Hussein on trial, hmmm? At least we have shown Johnny Arab what we mean by due process, hey what?

How pathetic and how hollow that boast seems now. The Saddam trial is a disgrace to justice that ought to be prorogued or transferred to another country. The latest judge has just suspended the session because he was unable to control the increasingly self-confident ravings of the bearded and staring-eyed ex-tyrant, and, when proceedings resume on October 9, they will still be a mixture of farce and tragedy.

We like to claim that this is an “open court”, but the deliberations are often so embarrassing that the microphones are turned off. When the Iraqis are allowed to watch the actual session, they see a hideous hybrid of Western due process and the traditional Iraqi kangaroo court, taking place against a background of murder and mayhem.

The result is legal chaos. The first judge was called Barawiz Mahomed Mahmoud al-Merani, and he got the hearing off to a flying start by being assassinated in March 2005. The next trembling jurist to be handed the gavel was called Rizgar Armin, but under him the court soon resembled a class of nightmare 16-year-olds in the charge of a seriously rattled supply teacher. He gave up in January, claiming ill-health.

The Iraqi court officials then announced that his number two would be taking over, a distinguished and learned geezer called Sayeed al-Hammashi. Everybody agreed that he would be a fabulous choice, until it was pointed out to the Americans that he was a former member of Saddam’s ruling Ba’ath party, and, ahem, his nomination was withdrawn.

They then found a Kurdish judge, one Abdel Rahman, and he seemed ideal. Surely, everyone said, we can rely on a Kurd to come down hard on Saddam for his crimes at Halabjah. But Abdel Rahman resigned shortly afterwards, claiming that he had come under unbearable political pressure.

The fifth judge to officiate was the splendid Abdullah al-Amiri, who lasted right up until this month, mainly by seeming to go rather easy on Saddam. On September 19, however, he blew it by intervening in an extraordinary exchange between Saddam and a gnarled old Kurdish witness.

The witness was relating how he had been to see Saddam to plead for the lives of his family, and Saddam was saying, well, it was hardly the act of a dictator to have audiences with humble Kurdish peasants. At which point the judge intervened, and said — in what will go down as the single most off-message remark of the whole Iraq conflict: “You are not a dictator. You were never a dictator. The people around a person make him a dictator. Not just you. This happens everywhere.”

At which a visibly moved Saddam bowed his head and thanked his lordship for his support. You can imagine the American monitors watching this in numb disbelief; you can imagine the chewing of the Downing Street curtains.

Under Iraq’s bizarre constitution the judge was sacked by the politicians, and judge number six is currently trying and failing to keep order in class. Seven people connected with the trial have so far been killed, including three of Saddam’s lawyers. His chief defence lawyer, Khami al-Obaidi, was abducted, tortured and murdered by men claiming to be from the interior ministry.

How on earth can the Iraqis have faith in the impartiality of these proceedings, when witnesses, lawyers and judges are being indiscriminately threatened, tortured, killed and sacked? It is amazing to think Britain spent £2 million, and the Americans £73 million, training Iraqi lawyers and judges for this charade.

Have you heard our Foreign Secretary protesting about what is going on? Who is our Foreign Secretary, by the way? The British position is to wait and hope that the Iraqis will hurry up and top him; itself a rather creepy approach, since we are meant to have a principled opposition to the death penalty.

Of course, Saddam should be tried, but it makes no sense to do it against a background of a civil war in which he is, alas, still a figurehead. Nuremburg may have been victor’s justice, as Sadakat Kadri observes in his magisterial history, The Trial. But those hearings at least took place when the war was conclusively won and was overwhelmingly believed to have been worth fighting.

Saddam is being tried when the war to remove him is increasingly recognised as a disaster, not least by the American intelligence services. He is being tried when men loyal to him are still fighting and killing. He is being tried by judges who are either in awe of him or who tell him softly that he was “not a dictator”. In the words of Cicero, laws are silent when swords are unsheathed.

The coalition should stop the pretence that the Iraqis can do this themselves. Saddam should be removed from Baghdad, where his presence is just aggravating the conflict, and be tried for his manifold barbarity in the Hague.

Of course, it means riding roughshod over the Iraqis, but then there is nothing new in that. All they can see on their screens at the moment is a variant of the show-trials they remember from the Ba’athist era, except that the judges keep getting whacked. As someone once said, if this is justice, then I am a banana.

166 thoughts on “Saddam’s Trial – Iraq and post-war reconstruction”

  1. This one is 100% correct. He should have been on trial in the Hague in the beginning; it would have prevented some of the civil hysteria in Iraq and certainly a great deal of the grandstanding in the trial.

    Besides which, it’s far less likely that anyone could mount a successful or dangerous breakout for him.

  2. RAINCOASTER
    I take your point ,but implying that Iraq was not comptetent to try Saddam would hardly have been the best start to the new state that ( ages and ages ago ) was the point.

    I don`t think anyone was concerned with `justice` as justice cleary dictates he should be dead.

    I do think they were hoping for cathartic theatre rather than farce though .

    It would actually make a good black farce don`t you think ?

  3. Well, Iraq isn’t competent to try him, obviously.

    I think holding the trial in an international courtroom in the Hague would have sent the message that his were crimes against the world as a whole, and that the international community took Iraq’s situation seriously indeed. It would have been tricky to spin, but it could have been done.

  4. RAIN COASTER
    No sorry I don’t see that. There are very many crimes against the world as whole if we could all agree which they are and were militarily able to do bring the culprits to justice , might be `tried`. All pretence at jurisprudence of any sort would be lost
    International relations are thankfully a very very long way from this position and in any case the sovereign state would be compromised …and so on.
    Should someone (who?)grab the Islamic war criminals of Darfur and try them for genocide. It’s a nice thought but would rightly be perceived as Western arrogance.
    The notion of international justice is highly problematical at best and laws to which my consent, in a formal way ,has never been given are not laws I recognise. Suppose some powerful group such as the Warsaw pact as was felt they should impose their version of `international law`. What is the basis for this international law except economic and military strength.

    I `m rather surprised to see you on the side you have taken actually. Do you really think the West can yank people out of their cultural context and `try` them?
    Are we not seeing that much of what Saddam said about the viability of democratic Iraq was actually correct? The problem with Saddams trial is a problem with a misreading of the possibility of a new state and while it is a farce obviously it is far from the worse thing happening in Iraq as a result of the West’s miscalculation.

    We were not there to spread peace andlove we were there to protect ourselves from direct attack to protect strategic interests and support our only meaningful ally. A neat ending would have been a bonus , its not essential

  5. A photograph in one of my newspapers today (Guardian? Telegraph?) shows a beautiful, young Chinese girl being led out for execution. She was one of countless political prisoners whom China executes before – though, it seems, maybe not before – ‘harvesting’ their organs, which are sold to sick, rich, Westerners.

    I wish those who support the futile and barbaric invasion of Iraq would explain why they do not believe that we should invade China. The only reasons I can come up with are that China is to big, too powerful – and a trading partner whom we hope will turn away from crimes against humanity – eventually. Whereas Iraq was small, weak and had oil and trade opportunities. Iraq, in other words, seemed to some insane politicians and corporations, perfect raw material for the creation of fortunes and ego driven political legacies.

    If that distinction is the only real reason for the invasion, and I believe it was, then why did we not wait for Iraq to move into the 21st century just as we wait for China to do so?

  6. The US and UK went in there and tore the existing government out by its roots. The rationale for that was WMDs, which switched rapidly to “crimes against humanity by Saddam Hussein” when the public realized there were no WMDs.

    If you are going to invade a country because its leader is guilty of crimes against humanity, it is absolutely your responsibility to ensure that the trial is fair, impartial, and effecient, even if it isn’t local. The invasion and occupation are predicated on Saddam Hussein’s commission of grave crimes, and thus it is critical that he be tried for those as any former leader of a nation, in the Hague. That is the international court, not the “Western” one.

    Thus the international court trial is neccessitated by the invasion and occupation itself. If he was really that bad, you have to treat him like you’d treat Duvalier, etc. If he wasn’t, you’ve got no business in Iraq, so get out and leave it to them.

    Given what would happen if the US and UK pulled out overnight, I think you can agree that subjecting Hussein to a fair, effective, and public trial in the Hague is preferable.

    Yes/No?

  7. Who says the Pentagon did not have a plan for post-war Iraq. I consider that everything is proceeding swimmingly to plan – the plan to allow Iraq to disintegrate into civil war so to fragment the nation into a series of weaker states that individually, on the balance of probabilities, will be easier to influence and control.

    Iran’s autocratic rulers, the Bathists under Saddam Hussein, were emboldened, by the wealth of oil and autonomous power, to resist the coercions of foreign powers. Having previously succumbed, in their fruitless war with Iran, they learnt to resist the hand of the master with which they used to be fed.

    The frustration of such indiscipline lead those who thought themselves to be Iraq’s masters to beat and eventually destroy their once useful hound. And to ensure that Iraq would not resurrect, phantom like, it’s corpse was to be dismembered. Should one of the new smaller Iraqi states fail to tow the line (as is probable) it’s power and strategic regional threat posed will be much diminished from that considered to exist with Saddam’s Iraq and mixing it up yet again, in the hope of a preferable fresh outcome, an easier task.

    As Henry Ford said “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs”

  8. Could someone tell me: What is “International Law”? And how does it sit with all those people who recognise only Sharia Law, or the law of the People’s Republic of China?

    To be honest, I’m surprised the bugger hasn’t met with an accident yet.

  9. If you are a banana or not I think the jury is out on, but the idea that Sadam’s trial is not justice I agree with you on.

    In fact, it cannot be justice. When Sadam was in power he was the law, that is more or less the deffinition of a dictator, so how how could he have broken it? I agree he did some horrific things and deserves to be slammed up and maybe popped off, but using a form of “justice” to do it is dangerous.

    You mentioned Nuremberg, and that is a good example. There, I believe, the prosecutor had to be changed because the defendants were successfully winning arguments and a different approach was used. The whole episode, I believe, became more and more of a mockery from that point.

    This leads to the fact that the only way you can try these people in court is using “International Law”, and the problem with that is that it does not exist. What parliament passes it? How is it accountable? Or is it made up as we go along? Hardly a sound foundation for applying justice let alone being seen to.

    The solution? In the old days it was the “Sixpenny” one, or an equivalent. Sixpence being the cost of a bullet. If the American GI simply popped Sadam one in his underground hideout bunk when he found him the problem would not exist, and any problems arising from such an act would be short lived. However, in modern times such things cannot be, and I would not advocate that, which leaves your suggestion of removing Sadam elsewhere and trying him there under whatever laws that would find him suitably guilty. However, this cannot really be passed as real justice, but real justice does not play a part here. It is all about showing the man defeated. Bearing that in mind doing as you suggest and taking him to the Hague or such would probably be the least worst scenario.

    I agree with you what is happening certainly does not pass as justice, nor do I think it ever can. Does that make me a banana too?

  10. PaulD: According to the President of the International Court of Justice, Rosalyn Higgins, international law is a normative system “harnessed to the achievement of common values –values that speak to us all, whether we are rich or poor, black or white, of any religion or none, or come from countries that are industrialized or developing (Wikipedia)

    Wikipedia also has a good explanation of International Criminal Law, under which crimes against humanity are tried. Link below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International

  11. RAIN COASTER
    `If you are going to invade a country because its leader is guilty of crimes against humanity,`

    From this error springs further errors ,This is quite obviosuly not why we invaded Iraq .
    Busy with skills to pay the bills but a prolix ,maunder is in my head forming into its hideous shape .

    FLO How interesting. Perhaps we should invade China and try its Government at the Hague ?

    I `ll be back

  12. raincoaster said:

    If you are going to invade a country because its leader is guilty of crimes against humanity, it is absolutely your responsibility to ensure that the trial is fair, impartial, and effecient, even if it isn’t local. The invasion and occupation are predicated on Saddam Hussein’s commission of grave crimes, and thus it is critical that he be tried for those as any former leader of a nation, in the Hague. That is the international court, not the “Western” one.

    The logic of your argument is very compelling, raincoaster, in the light of it, I think you’ve rubbished my statement that it’s the business of the Iraqi people to deal with SH. Perhaps, as a nice spin off too, were SH to be tried in the International Court, this might expose Bush and Blair’s lies regarding SH and WMDs to the the cold light of international justice.

  13. newmania said:

    FLO How interesting. Perhaps we should invade China and try its Government at the Hague ?

    That isn’t what I suggested, newmania. I asked why we have we treated SH’s crimes against humanity differently from China’s. We trade with China, invite their leaders to UK and have not applied sanctions to China in any form. I suggested that this is because China is larger and more powerful and offers trade opportunities to the giant corporations Blair and Bush love so much. The obvious implication is that Bush and Blair’s brutal invasion was not motivated by concern about crimes against humanity but by their own self interest.

  14. ‘I wish those who support the futile and barbaric invasion of Iraq would explain why they do not believe that we should invade China’ (Auntie Flo’)

    China has Weapons of Mass Destruction Aunt Flo, for this reason we cannot invade. If we moved our fleet in the Sea of China, their army would probably be able to attack us with Weapons of Mass Destruction within 45 minutes or so.

    Imagine being the government that managed to get half the British Army anihilated, vapourised, gassed etc. A modern day Battle of the Somme, complete with WMD, and in a far off land that cannot invade us. You wouldn’t win another election afterwards, that’s for sure.

    With Iraq things were different. Iraq had been invaded in the early ninties, sanctioned for over 10 years and bombed repeatedly by NATO since the late ninties. The UN weapons inspectors went back in just before the invasion and found no Weapons of Mass Destruction he could get our armies with. Bingo, green light to go in then!

    This is what really bugs me about it all:

    If Saddam did have Weapons of Mass Destruction that could be launched in 45 minutes, why the hell did our politicans vote in favour of moving our army into aggressive positions within range of such weapons?

    Boris, who voted for the war, says above:

    ‘There is one last excuse for those of us who were so trusting as to support the war in Iraq’

    I don’t get it, clever people like Boris trusted the government that Saddam had weapons that could wipe out entire regiments of our army (much like China do) so he voted to move them into range of these weapons.

    Hmmmmmm, the mind boggles.

  15. Steven_L said:

    China has Weapons of Mass Destruction Aunt Flo, for this reason we cannot invade. If we moved our fleet in the Sea of China, their army would probably be able to attack us with Weapons of Mass Destruction within 45 minutes or so.

    Imagine being the government that managed to get half the British Army annihilated, vaporised, gassed etc. A modern day Battle of the Somme, complete with WMD, and in a far off land that cannot invade us. You wouldn’t win another election afterwards, that’s for sure.

    Precisely. You’ve hit it on the head, Steven. As you’ve said, and I said, they’re just too bloody powerful. It would be political suicide to invade China.

    Yet, surely, Blair’s part in the invasion of Iraq should have been political suicide too? That criminally reckless, power and money mad fool has, alongside Bush, effectively instigated the 21st century’s Vietnam. He’s massively exacerbated the destabilisation of the Middle East and has been the harbinger of a huge terrorist threat to his country. Yet we let him off. That’s what really bugs me.

    Ok. by then Blair had so subverted the electoral system that it would have taken a massive swing to oust him. However, why didn’t that swing materialise? I can only put it down to Michael Howard alienating the electorate with childish personalised attacks on Blair, the fact that Cameron wasn’t leading the Conservatives and the Conservative’s damn stupid decision to back Blair’s invasion policy.

    The only excuse I can find for the Conservatives is that no one would have believed that the UK PM would lie to Parliament in order to deceive it into agreeing to go to war. It was unthinkable.

  16. The official position of the Conservative Party was that we went to Iraq because we were so terribly shocked at this and that and because of WMD`s . As FLO has pointed out this would be a pathetically weak position to take in view of the many other worse problems we choose to ignore . The Conservative Party have since admitted as has cropped up herein that without WMD threats there support would have been forthcoming.
    The true position of the Conservative party was that we were supporting our Ally and assisting our own security so obviously also at risk after the Pearl harbour of 9.11. We do have legitimate national interest in the area as part of the Global oil consuming economy but the conspiracy theorists are in my view looking to hard for moral equivalency between the US and assorted nasty regimes in the Middle East which is , entirely unwarranted .
    There is nothing especially noble in any of this unless you consider our own defence and the shoring up of our defensive position with the States noble . From T Blairs point of view I suspect he saw that it was an easy war to win and wanted his Falklands at some level but that’s by the by .
    Whithin this framework of normal defensive activity most of RAINCOASTERS ideas cease to require any answer and her distinction between a Western Court and an International one is slippery even if one accepted there was such a thing as International Law. There is not . There are power complexes and agreements but nothing that is any sense I would accept as law. RAINCOASTER do you really think it is plausible to send British men to their deaths in order to solve `immorality ` in this country or that in someone’s opinion. The United States in Bosnia is the only example of charitably causing the death of your own people I can think of off hand .
    Britain and the united States have acted morally or with a moral perspective compared to France for example but British taxpayers would not stomach any such adventuring however noble it might some feel as they read their papers and passed the marmalade
    Part of the belief of the States which is optimistic was that Iraq could be released from despotism and this would be stabilising in the area . That another friendly free trading partner was created was a subsidiary but desirable second goal . Part of this nation building was the trial of the villain conceived as a birth of nation drama . With these objectives it seems reasonable to me that Saddam should be tried in Iraq . As this objective has long gone I agree with Boris that he should be removed to the Hague , if that happens to suit .RAIN COASTER felt this should have been the position from the start an that is where I disagree because in my view she has misunderstood the rationale of the invasion . If RAINCOASTER is saying that NOW there no longer any point in the IRAQ trial I would agree .

    So FLO I agree the invasion was motivated by self interest if you like but only in the sense maintaining our own security which is why we have an army. I do not agree with the implication there anything wrong with that and I feel all our liberties and prosperity are underpinned by such security . Appeasers and pacifists in the 20th century look , to me, horribly misguided in retrospect not to say hypocritical.

    On the concept of international Law I saw Norman Tebbit give an interesting speech about how this attack on our sovereign freedoms was acting like a pincer with other super national bodies especially the EU. When did we agree that there is any law except our own , upon which we vote and about which we argue . There is no world demos , no community of values (except Western ones we impose RAIN COASTER).

    I confess I take more interest in domestic policy than foreign . In foreign matters principle are allowed to run unfettered by facts , money and politics and I suspect cant at every turn . I admit to ignorance of what answer there might be to the question raised by Edward Macnaughten

    `This leads to the fact that the only way you can try these people in court is using “International Law”, and the problem with that is that it does not exist. What parliament passes it? How is it accountable? Or is it made up as we go along? Hardly a sound foundation for applying justice let alone being seen to.`

    By what right does a Chinese man have any jurisdiction whatsoever over me ?

    Incidentally I think we should be out now and I also think everyone knows the Conservative party are on exceedingly weak ground attacking Blair on IRAQ .
    They were not fooled , they knew and supported . I agreed and still do .

    For me the most interesting part of this discussion is International Law .
    To be kinder to RAIN COASTER and in a genuinely enquiring spirit . How would an execution authorised in such a court differ from me putting a bullet in his head ?
    From where does its authority come ?

  17. FLO HI
    By the way there is maritime international law in an ad hoc way and this, like the new international law is hugely profitable to a new army of lawyers . Like C Blair

  18. newmania said:

    So FLO I agree the invasion was motivated by self interest if you like but only in the sense maintaining our own security which is why we have an army. I do not agree with the implication there anything wrong with that and I feel all our liberties and prosperity are underpinned by such security . Appeasers and pacifists in the 20th century look , to me, horribly misguided in retrospect not to say hypocritical.

    Two questions. First, can you clarify what you mean by ‘maintaining our own security’ as the motivation for the invasion. What exactly was threatened and how was the invasion to deal with it? Do you mean by ‘security’ to grab a share of Iraq’s oil?

    Second, I’ve been watching the wee hard man, Mr Mackay, his conference performance today. I’m not going to go on about this Glaswegian’s past, hard drinking, hard smoking habits, or his well manicured lily white hands yet. I’m not even going to say that I can see him wearing purple nail varnish in the privacy of his own home – that’s none of my business. All I will say is that wee Jimmy’s creepy hands look more feasible, in a horrible sort of way, than Brown’s gnawed and bloodied stumps. To use Yo Blair’s new Clintonese, what’s your take on Mr Mackay? Wasn’t he the one who set up Kinnock to fall in the sea that time?

  19. YO FLO.
    No ,I mean the type of foreign policy decision this country has always made acting abroad in reponse to perceived threat.The threat in this case is international militant fascist Islam . We have never waited to be hit on purpose although the West is often caught by suprise attacks .

    Know nuffin about him FLO. Will find out ( nice ebonics , its a real word)

    Nighty night

  20. newmania, you seem to have pretty much completely misconstrued my position.

    I am not for the war in Iraq. I never have been for the war in Iraq. I do not believe that it is just, nor that this potentially indefinite continuation of the war is just.

    All I am saying is that these are the excuses that have been used to get you people into this mess. The question facing us today is: what is the right course of action now?

    You’re not familiar with International Law, but it does exist and you may follow Auntie Flo’s link to learn more about it. It binds the member-states of the United Nations and in some cases other countries as well; certainly it applies to Iraq and to the trials of heads of state. It was for exactly such purposes that the laws were drawn up.

    Why don’t you invade China? For exactly the same reason you really did invade Iraq: the money.

  21. The problem here is again one of double standards and hypocrisy. We are guilty of most of the things we accused Saddam of, particularly the USA (the UK seems to at least be retaining some moderation, just).

    1. We not only have WMDs, but used them in the war against Iraq! 45 minutes? How quickly do you think we can launch a nuclear missile or powerful WMD?
    2. We (the USA) imprison people without trial. In the UK we have similar but not quite as abhorrent laws, control orders and the Terrorism Act.
    3. We have been torturing prisoners, and have committed war crimes (Cpl Donald Payne just pled guilty to one, committed in Iraq of course).
    4. We consistently break UN resolutions and decisions, invading Iraq being a pertinent case.

    Of course we are better in a sense for democracy, mostly because we don’t imprison political opponents. The system is of course corrupt (in the USA) or flawed (in the UK), and one notable consequence is that Tony Blair was able to invade Iraq without the consent of the people. Constitutionally he of course had permission, but 70% of the people of Britain made it abundantly clear that they opposed the war before he ordered it, and as such it was a blow against democracy. The 58,000 people who have died are on his head, not the people of britain.

    Our double standards and hypocrisy are astonishing. Now, you could say that we are more trusted and thus better entrusted with this international peacemaking. And yet George Bush consistently comes out top in polls on who the greatest threat to humanity is, in europe no less. The USA is the ONLY country to have ever used nuclear weapons as a weapon (not China, not North Korea, not Pakistan, India, or Israel). The USA currently has twice as many soldiers deployed around the world as the rest of the world combined, so I doubt that they’re all that peace-loving.

    In the words of someone both Bush and Blair claim to hold with great regard:
    “Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? … You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.”
    Jesus Christ – Luke 6:41, The Sermon on the Mount

  22. What raincoaster said. And Flo.

    I don’t always agree with Boris. Mainly because he has this touching childlike faith that the free market will solve all our problems, were it just to be allowed to flourish unfettered. But there’s one thing I admire him for, greatly, and that’s his willingness to admit an error of judgement.

    One of the primary reasons I despised even the ground Margaret Thatcher walked on was her intractability. Once she’d made up her mind about something, she stuck to it – even when all the evidence suggested she’d got it horribly wrong. ‘The lady’s not for turning’ was held up to the British public as a virtue, when in fact it was evidence of crass stupidity.

    Boris supported the war once. Faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he altered his position – and had the courage to tell the world that position was altered.

    Bravo. That’s how politicians SHOULD behave: with a little humility.

  23. Jack Target, your points are absolutely valid, and they reinforce Boris’ suggestion that only an international court at the Hague can solve the Saddam Hussein trial problem. It is because that court is not responsive to jury-rigging by any of the member states that it maintains its authority.

    Not that countries haven’t tried to put the pressure on. Pressure will be applied in this case as well. But with neither Iraq, nor the Coalition countries deemed capable of a fair, impartial trial, it is the best solution.

    Mark, I thought you weren’t speaking to Boris until he apologized for running away from the Israel/Hezbollah post?

  24. RAINCOASTER
    I am familiar with the existence of international law of course , I , and others , would like to know with what authority this `law` is drawn and applied.

    I have folowed FLO s link and , unsuprisingly , there is nothing to deal with this central problem . I would be interested to know if any plausible basis for it exists .
    `Why don’t you invade China? For exactly the same reason you really did invade Iraq: the money`
    If that is what you think you must detest our country .Of which country I wonder do you approve ?

    I think you have misconstrued my construing actually .

    JACK TARGET – The selfless deployment around the world of troops and resouces by the US for the benefit of mankind is something we should be profoundly grateful for . islolationists in the US contantly question the need for this charity of lives and money to continue.In Europe on two occassions we have had good reason to be relived that isolationism did not win the day

    YOUR remarks about nuclear weapons are absurd . Thank god the Allies just about beat the Nazis to the punch. Or would youbnhave preffered it otherwise .

    THE ELECTED govenrment of a sovereign country have every legal right to delare war when they think fit.Your other questions stem , in my view,from a false position of moral equivalency between the variosu state you mention and the USA .

    I have to admit though I think you raise difficult questions

  25. newmania, I am glad to hear that you have rediscovered a familiarity with International Law. Since this is the case, you must also be aware that the effectiveness of any non-coercive form of government is derived solely from the goodwill of the participant nation-states. You will further be aware that submission of a case to the Court is a statement that the government(s) involved accept the authority of the court and agree that its rulings are binding.

    You may find more of what you already know here.

  26. RAIN COASTER- You are wilfully misreading mepresumably to allow yourself the opportunity to score with what you imagine is deadly sarcasm. I am not familiar with much `International` Law ( and nor are you) but I am , obviously , and have always been aware that it exists. In fact I am not entirely ignorant of some aspects of international marine law which is a special case.

    Naturally, I had assumed that in some technical and formal sense this law drew on the authority of Sovereign nations as the alternative would have been some other nearby planet but this does not make a case for proper authority in itself.

    The problem we are talking about might be termed proximate agreement. I vote for a government. If that government contracts out some of the power on my behalf to what extent does the initial consent hold. A good example would be contracting out police powers to private companies about which there is disquiet.

    It isn`t just me that feels this growth of removed super national authority is a cause for concern. For example the concept of it being illegal to declare war when our elected government has done so is new and, bizarre.

    This you say sits on the rickety chair of `goodwill of the participant nation-states` whatever that might mean . No, I am certainly not as well informed as I would like to be . I am on the other hand at least as well informed as most voters to whom this law applies.
    Perhaps for you as a citizen of the world (? Are you ?) There is no cocnflict to resolve . I am not a citizen of the world . I am a citizen of the UK and care only to a limited extent what other countries have to say about what we should or should not be doing .

    I will find out more by reading only material that agrees with my initial prejudices .

    As ya do !

  27. INTERNATIONAL LAW:
    I have chat with an international lawyer (a friend) and as far as I can get is this. There is no such thing as International law per se as this would obviously have no authorised jurisdiction. Even Marine Law, of its nature International is in fact a series or accumulation of ad hoc conventions treaties and so on. International Law can of course spring from the original EU treaty (Brussels) and further laws are traceable back to that initial ceding of sovereignty. There are other similar examples of many sorts and it is upon the mess that International Lawyers thrive
    On international law derived from sections of UN agreements it is something of a special case as there is no clear ceding of the states authority ( or is there my witness was not sure ) but if the concept of an illegal war has any real meaning he imagined it is probably in there somewhere .
    FINAL QUESTION ` So what do you think of the increasing power flowing form `International Law` and can it live with free sovereign states.
    ANSWER: I think its bloody wonderful it makes me a fortune.

    I think there is a real problem here. Pressing Global problems require Global authority but how can you empower the world to act without making the world into slaves. EG The environment which as Boris said tackling domestically is `like breaking wind in a hurricane `.

  28. Raincoaster – oh. I’d forgotten that.

    Never mind. He’s NEVER going to comment in here, so I’ll just have to content myself with the subliminal.

  29. This should be on the previous thread but no-one reads previous threads.

    Just listened to a dull Question Time on R4. Has anyone noticed how the frequency with which a speaker uses the words “address” and “issues” (ishoos) is in reverse proportion to the quality of content?

    Thank gawd for Will Self.

  30. Thanks for that Thalia, I’m sorry to read more about how the US is sliding even further towards a totalitarian regime – even if it is not a totalitarian dictatorship.

    On the plus side the economist reports that the USA’s first muslim congressman may be about to be elected in Minnesota.

  31. I heard moral maze discussion of whether torture was ever justified ? I seemed clear to me that under some circumstances it was. As I write that I look at the sentence with horror and uncertainty ….nonetheless

    Any views ?

  32. newmania said: I heard moral maze discussion of whether torture was ever justified?

    The frightening thing about torture is that social psychology experiments have found that a majority of research subjects were not only prepared to torture innocent strangers, in one case with what they believed to be electric shocks, but that they did so with considerable enthusiasm. The ‘victims’ were really actors. The ‘torturers were told that they could increase the pain in the subject by increasing the intensity of the shocks they administered – and often did so

    Another famous experiment which replicated the power relationships of prisons or concentration camps, found that a majority of those subjects who were made ‘guards’ began to persecute those who were disignated as ‘internees’. If I remember correctly, the degree of sadism produced among the ‘guard ‘ subjects was so worrying that the researchers halted the experiment half way through.

    I feel that society should never torture anyone.

  33. Newmania,
    Hmmmmm. Well, firstly I think there has to be a very clear definition of torture. I seem recall some Danes (I think) being accused of torture on the basis of refusing to allow prisoners water for a couple of hours during questioning. Not nice, but not exactly on the same scale as a scalding bath.
    However, actual torture is, in my opinion, never justified. May I ask when you think it would be justified?

  34. K `However, actual torture is, in my opinion, never justified. May I ask when you think it would be justified`

    Well the classic conundrum would be that you have the terrorist and the bomb will go off somewhere in London in 30 minutes. Do you ask nicely and allow innocents to die horribly to protect you conscience?
    In reality such certainties are not granted but equally in reality all states have decided the answer too much greyer questions was no. One way to look at the US legislation is an unwillingness to continue the hypocrisy of sending subjects to friendly states where other nations can act as subcontractors. Hence the problem with transportation through this country. I am very far from having any certainty about this but is it not an open secret that Doctors must decide who gets resources and who doesn’t . Who lives and who dies. Can they be said to be murderers ?Clearly we would be talking exclusively of life and death decisions and I wonder if what looks like moral horror is not in fact squeamishness.
    Personally I would find it hard to kill the meat I eat but I would if I had to and who knows what faced with extreme circumstances. Such extremes are not so remote, my uncles were all in the war and killed, but not close up. My Grandfather was rescued from the Somme no-man’s-land. This is the commonplace of the last century. If our moral code will only fit circumstances where no moral decision is required are we likely to look away while others to make the decisions for us?

  35. FLO I was aware of the first but not the second of your examples. This is certainly a dark area. One reason for all the violence in the world is that we like it ?
    only a fragment of the picture but in there I think ?

  36. Reminiscent of Speckled Jim trial in ‘Corporal Punishment’ episode of Blackadder Goes Forth series, if it were not for the gravity of the carnage in Iraq, the pitiful saga of Saddam’s trial could be a Carry On Justicing Me Lard movie. The convenience of the incarcerated tyrant facing justice was only in legitimising the whole pack of lies fed to the world in the build-up to the Iraq war. This show trial in fact is not about Justice, it is about the distraction from the actualities surrounding Iraq, Saddam, US, UK governments’ policies for the past few decades.

    Messrs Bush and Blair, along with the usual toadies, and sponsors ensured the current carnage of choice in Iraq becoming a reality, despite the protestations of those honourable citizens whom having under wrote their own costs, joined the march on London, and others from within the respective governments. Alas the latter were thought to be naïve Arabists gone native, and the former were thought to be bleeding heart pacifists and liberals. Although these were but excuses of little men convincing themselves of the righteous decision they had made, hence the relentless efforts to cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war.

    The absurdity of the claims of the proponents of war, were not considered as defective judgement of crazed lunatics bent on proliferation of the existing Arab Israeli conflict, and in effect subcontracting the fighting to those in the West. Alas, salivating greedy old men involved, were only thinking about the bounties of the war, and were too busy to be concerned with the motives of the select group of the so called advisers whom playing down the pitfalls hyped up the benefits. This bunch of known Israel firsters, through a crude and primitive quasi management accounting methodology, worthy of any crooked board of directors, pushed for war, on their way to secure the realm (Israel).

    However, as reflected in your comments, you too have bought into the notions of ‘white man’s burden’ by stating your assumptions about constituting Western Institution, ie democracy in Iraq. Although missing from this assumption is the truth nearer home, the bastion of democracy (so we are told) that is in the grips of a low intensity civil war, between the haves, and hopeless have nots, the pernicious civil war we all have come to accept as crime. The acceptance of crime, as a necessary premium to live in the democratic and free societies, has been constituted in Iraq now. Hence lament not Boris, there is a Western Institution in Iraq, after all.

    Notwithstanding any of the above, missing from your considerations are the very real dangers of a global conflagration, which is somehow overlooked in an Orwellian double think. Russian bombers penetrating the most heavily defended US Arctic air space, en-route to Canadian destination on bombing manoeuvres, without any radar or visual detection (22~24 April 2006). On the other hand the US military satellites coming under attack from energy weapons, purportedly from Chinese landmass, are not the kind of news BBC, or Murdoch Media will be concerned with. Seeing as these developments are; far cries from the notions of few splutters of musketry scattering the natives, and leaving the riches for the Sahibs, and their Mams.

    In fact some would argue that, it is the beginning of the breakup of the closed shop (western economic hegemony), that has so far yielded Enronitis, and the weirdest phenomena of all the infamous hedge funds. But as we know those arguing as such are agents of doom, hence the game is being played by the same old school operators, whom have full confidence in Karl Haushofer, and his famous acolyte Hess, as observed in the frenzied diatribes of M. Gove et al. But missing from the reasoning of Ye Olde timers, are the current dynamism of the events and the emergent power players whom having moved onto fourth generation war, are now consolidating their economic models. Funny how Schumpeter is proved right, despite the misinterpretation that brought on the Iraq war.

    Finally, the sham trial of Saddam, is only befitting the sham free market that has emerged post Iraq, watching all this A. Smith could be spinning in his grave, keep an eye out for the undulating ground next time you pay a visit to his grave.

  37. Well the classic conundrum would be that you have the terrorist and the bomb will go off somewhere in London in 30 minutes. Do you ask nicely and allow innocents to die horribly to protect you conscience?

    This begs the question of whether torture works. It supposes that when you start turning the thumbscrews, the truth about the location of the ‘dirty bomb’ will repidly start squirting out.

    I see no reason to believe it. In the ticking bomb scenario, the tortured only have to hold out for a day or so. And maybe even just 45 minutes.

  38. I don’t think torture is ever justified.

    The problem is a classic, and the answer is typified by cliches such as “if we do it, we’re no better than they are.” To remain a moral society we have to abide my moral codes, especially when it comes to justice. This is something that the USA and UK are definitely not doing at the moment, and I think it is an absolute tragedy.

    The counter-argument is typified by another cliche: “the ends justify the means.” But the problem with this is that in fact there are no ends, just continual means. So, perhaps we torture someone to prevent a terrorist attrocity (or maybe a more serious crime, terrorism isn’t high on my list of serious crimes), or perhaps we stick by our morals, take chances with our non-torture means of policing, and get hit by a serious terrorist attack. Either way, the world carries on. In the second case, we have a few dead people (3000 is the largest terrorist attrocity to date, but let’s remember it was among a population of 300 million, and that far far more people die each year in road accidents, gun-crime non-accidents, gun accidents, etc.) Those deaths would of course be tragic, but to be honest to me the alternative is worse: setting a precedent of a major democracy torturing prisoners. And that has the ability to cause much much more harm in the long run than the terrorist attack does, not to mention inspiring more of them as the Islamic world sees us as more an more immoral (I’m not even sure how wrong they are!)

    The repurcussions can be very wide-ranging. I was recently reading an article by the head of a charity which seeks to prevent torture around the world. She was having dinner with a few people, oe of whom was the dictator of an African state which engages in torture, who she was trying to pursuade of the evils of it. But for the first time in all her time doing this, the leader’s most damning riposte was “Why should we listen to you? You’re english, your own government is colluding in the torture of hundreds of people. Who are you to tell us to stop?”

  39. Incidentally I do think torture may be permissible under the very extremes. If we’re not talking about 3000 deaths but rather 3 million for example, and we’re talking about torturing only one man to do it, then I would perhaps go along with it’s legitimacy, assuming there was no other way. But that is not a likely scenario, and torture itself does not become justified or just – it becomes a necessary but still horrific injustice.

    Incidentally has anyone seen the film “The Road to Guantanamo”? A true story, 4 innocent british civilians were tortured in Guantanamo Bay for over 2 years, before being released completely free of charge. One of the almost hilarious moments was halfway through, while one of them was being interrogated, he was asked to provide an aliby for his whereabouts on a day that they had a picture of “him” at a terrorist training camp: however he was at a british police station when the picture was taken! Talk about a watertight case… no wonder they can’t be tried in a court of law. They still kept him there for another year or so of course, before releasing him without charge.

  40. JACK TARGET

    3000 deaths but rather 3 million for example,` This would unfortunate for the 3000 of course but I understand your argument the most convincing part of which , to me , is the possibility that the example would proliferate the practice amongst what you presumable consider the morally lesser nations .
    Some undershafts I would like to dig.
    1 You say 3000 people is nothing to worry about among 300,000,000 and I would agree.( How often Liberal control freaks argue the other way…..) but the safety of the 300,000,000 is guaranteed not just ultimately but clearly and immediately by the threat of and deployment of killing machines and troops. The moral will to use them is not really therefore a remote and macabre pornography but a daily reality without which none of this musing would be possible .Torture and intelligence are part of that will to use them .
    2 I am less concerned than you about whether other nations listen to us or not . An example of moral cowardice and decadence is perhaps equally repugnant to the Islamic hydra in our path currently .Can you really know what effect this or that would have in this way ?
    3 the overall question of `how to be a good man in a a naughtie world `is unanswerable .The West has been the subject of surprise attack usually but in the end has fought with all means necessary for victory including nuclear weapons . What is the option ?
    4 `Then we are no better than you` . Personally I am not as concerned to be better but as CS Lewis pointed out moral progress is not all one way . Yes we have developed (perhaps overly ) empathy , we have on the other hand become selfish , cowardly and unprincipled compared to our forefathers .

    I would suggest an adjustment in the other direction is due and dispute your implication that empathetic concern must always increase at the expense of intellectual understanding if required

  41. newmania said:

    FLO I was aware of the first but not the second of your examples. This is certainly a dark area. One reason for all the violence in the world is that we like it ?
    only a fragment of the picture but in there I think ?

    No, newmania, it does not appear that human beings like torture, the evidence is that such violence is the stuff of pathological individuals and societies – that we can be pressurised, driven or manipulated into it.

    Remember the Kalahari Bush people. Living at a Stone Age level of existence, yet violent crime and murder was virtually unknown in their society. Instead, given that these people lived one of the harshest forms of existence known to humanity and often starved, there was an astonishing degree of co-operation and kindness among the Bush people.

    They had natural ‘drugs’, of course, but these were functional ones, used to stave off hunger. Parents carried disabled adult children around on their backs. Elderly people were respected, the Bush people didn’t even consider the sinister, Nazi, involuntary euthanasia ‘final solution’ which Blair and Nulab want here in UK.

    The Bush people remained non-violent until herded into reservations like animals where they were more brutalised than the animals there, denied their traditional way of life and forced to live more modern life styles, denied the right to hunt – and given alcohol. Then mental illness, pathology, crime, murders and rapes occurred for the first time.

    In effect, those in power trained the Bush people to behave much like terrorists in their own society.

    Isn’t that what president Musharraf of Pakistan has pointed out the West did in respect of the Taleban in order to win the Cold War?

  42. Auntie Flo’:

    I have always found it interesting to look at the effect wealth has had on society, and particularly violence in society. I would actually quite happily subscribe to the doctrine of Make Wealth History, if I could think of a way to do so. A good example of what you’re talking about are various ancient cultures at war, all of whom understood that they could not afford to lose people in combat, or both tribes would die. So they had a variety of solutions: In one culture they would line up opposite each other, and each man would throw a spear at the other line – whoever’s spears got further would win the battle. In another culture, after the battle was over (and 2 or 3 people had died on each side), whichever side lost fewer people, would give some people to the other tribe to balance out the numbers (they would still win the battle and thus spoils).

    Even as late as the middle ages, it was considered a major defeat if you lost more than a third of your army in a battle, and anything more than 10% was still a loss, even if the battle was won. The advent of the gun changed things, as it is actually very hard to kill someone with a sword, especially if they’re wearing armour. However with a gun one can kill someone easily even accidentally, regardless of what they have on and regardless of one’s own training.

    newmania:

    A (hopefully quick) response to your undershafts:

    1. I agree entirely, our armies should be used where necessary to protect our lives and in fact anyone’s lives. However I don’t see why that should necessarily include torture… You say that it is part of the same will, but there is clearly a balancing act. If we really wanted to protect ourselves from foreign threats we could wipe out every non-brit in the world. Ignoring the practicalities of that, that is clearly not the best thing to do. So there are limits and we decide where to draw the line – I draw it before torture.

    2. Fair point

    3. True enough, but again it’s a matter of balance. The nuclear weapons used can only be deemed remotely just if they saved the lives of more than they killed (a legitimate case). If we used nuclear weapons in every conflict we would be considered to be going over the top. The difference with this conflict is that it is not a military one. There are over 1.3 billion muslims in the world, a virtually limitless force. But they are dominated neither by extremists, nor by liberals. We are fighting against extremism, and the very least effective way of doing so is violently.

    4. I’m not concerned to be better either, but the point is that if we are no better, then what justification do we have for protecting the lives of ourselves over them, or for protecting our society over theirs?

    Like you I believe that an adjustment the other way is needed. But it has to come from us within a liberal framework now, it can’t be forced on us.

  43. Apologies too – it was careless of me to mention Islam specifically, I did so because it is more directly relevant to terrorism.

    However the battle between liberalism and extremism is of course not confined to Islam, it is raging in my own religion (Christianity) as well, and in the secular world too. Unfortunately we seem to be losing in the church, although the Roman Catholic church might be on it’s way to helping (the pope recently hinted at allowing contraception in married couples where one member had AIDs – horray!)

  44. JACK TARGET
    1 Yes how reasonable this sounds , but the gimlet eye of newmania is upon you and I see the false scale in which you place your examples. You imply that the unilaterally `glassing` 4,000,000,000 is merely a hop and a skip down the road from allowing torture in wartime under extreme circumstances. One is an unimaginable event horizon the other a real moral problem happening now, so the `distances` you suggest are misleading , as you deviously intend. You should work for the Blair stats dept.

    I doubt there are absolute limits and find it easy to imagine scenarios (ugh ..sorry) to justify most moral crimes. Thinking harder I am beginning to wonder if the motivation and the soul of the actor not the act is the place of moral judgement. Perhaps as Christian that you have forced me into this unsatisfactory corner is `check mate` to you.

    3 I do not accept that totting up the bodies is a way to decide right and wrong . By this means the Allies were far inferior to the Nazis. I accept that Western Culture ( not Liberalism except in the widest sense) is superior to modern Islam and must be seen to be so . We are discussing which version of that superior culture we prefer.
    I am somewhat dubious about the `dove` Muslim and worry that understanding can slither into appeasement but these differences are far far less important than they sound , what you say is something I could easily vote for even if is not my private view .

    4 You feel that you require a justification for protecting your own from others. I do not
    An old question . Your loved one (?) will die . If you press the button two unknowns in Africa (say) will die and he /she will live . Do you watch her /him perish on a mathematical basis , and if you do are you more moral than someone like me who would not hesitate?
    Can you calculate the value of loyalty , often called prejudice ?Can you calculate the value of `love`in the Christian sense. Once again you are causing to me to question the rationalism I thought I believed in.

    How interesting , I very much appreciate your comments which have taken me to quite unexpected places .Normal flippant service will be resumed although to be honest this is not the first spiritual panic of late …..what next?

    FLO ,…later .gotta go

  45. Those inveterate liars, and muckrakers in the guise of the neocongs (the lesser hairless apes, masquerading as human beings) having established their conjectural assertions as new realities have moved on, to their next project. While the out of sync ‘liberals’ and oh so superior individuals carry on their naval gazing, iterating the disjunctions in the new realities from those of the actualities.

    Let us examine the actualities;

    a- Pandering to the almost instinctive intellectual inertia of the oh so superior ‘liberals’ the neocong have established the almost routine racism in the guise of Islam-phobia, which is really not racism but the truth, seeing as those Mooslums are all recalcitrant traditionalists whom are doggedly hanging on to Caliphate of Ye Olde seventh century.
    b- Pandering to the abstractions of ‘a’ neocong, have effectively promoted their war on all things Arab and Mooslum, and successfully translated their hegemony to the cosmic battles between the respective invisible friends sitting in the skies, the outcome of which is entirely in the favour of the one and only true invisible friend in the sky endowed with worshippers with the highest mega-tonnage nuclear (or should I write Noookuolar) weapons.
    c- Neocong relentlessly have promoted their lies, and conjectures through the established and well tested ‘precautionary principle’ to the extent that, everyday conversation now revolves around, what-ifs, buts, and ‘dirty bomb’. (does anyone on this board realise that, for a ‘dirty bomb’ to be effective, those victims caught up, ought to stand around for a period of one year before they have been irradiated enough to die of radiation poisoning?)
    d- In the ‘new normal’ of the neocong, hijackers can train on ‘MS flight Simulator’ bombers can smuggle ‘Explozade’ onto airliners and mix these up to blow the crafts to kingdom come. Notwithstanding, the little problems of having; no passport, no airline tickets, and needing a slight time frame of up to 36 hours to mix-up the devil brew in the toilet, while finding hopefully enough ice on board to aid the mixing, and praying the craft to be travelling a smooth path without any bumps or turbulence, and no passenger queues for using the toilet, and or air crew smelling the noxious smells, that is if the culprits have not already passed out.
    e- Having established fear as the only credible currency, then neocong has made acceptable torture, extrajudicial murder, kidnapping and detention without trial. The extent of this acceptance is an all too apparent fact in the latest legislation emerging from US Senate that effectively renders any and all individuals anywhere on the planet prone to detention without any evidence, and or right to a trial for an indefinite period. Ironically the aliens as referred to in the legislation include those legal residents in US too. Oh yeah, did I mention these detainees now can be legally tortured too?

    Judging by the tertiary and out of sync debate taking place on this board, the naval gazing goes on while neocong are moving on to their next objective; war on the planet.

    However, the immediacies arsing in the face of this latest US legislation, the question that needs to be asked is; what is the UK, and European governments’ position in dealing with US government upon now legal kidnapping and detention of their citizens?

    Perhaps Boris could shed some light on this ‘little hiccup’ in the current climate of operation freedom on the planet?

    PS. in case of any expressions of doubts, corroborating data would be provided, alas might prove not fit for the consumption of ‘da mail’ (daily mail), or the other neocong rag ‘das telegrav’ (The Telegraph) brigade.

  46. Greg – I have waded though your atrociously expressed comment . If you would care to rephrase this in a digestible form I will be pleased to answer you either well or badly . As it is you sound like a social casualty I would avoid on the bus and the kindest comment I can make is to ignore you entirely .Perhaps RAINCOASTER or FLO or THALIA is more familiar with these ideas and will be able to guess or understand what you mean. If anyone can I will be grateful to know ?
    Could you perhaps ask one question you feel is illuminated by this …um material ?

  47. Breakfast In Bed

    Friday night-
    Handsome promises me breakfast in bed
    With colours created by God…

    Saturday morning-
    Sunshine streams in fresh juice orange,
    The calm sea in his eyes blue,
    His lips sun-kissed tomato red,
    One throbbing hot sausage brown,
    Two snug eggs on straw mellow,
    Mimosa scatters crumbs on our bed yellow,

    …………………………………………….

    His love milk
    white…

    Eliza, 1 October, for Boris with kisses…

  48. Does anyone remember the first gulf war? I seem to remember that we were well up for it then. The attitude seemed to be ‘yeah, lets get Saddam’ from what I remember.

    What’s changed since then? Or was it just the fact that it was George W selling us the idea that put so many people off?

    Was anyone here against the first gulf war?

  49. Whacked or sacked!

    The termination package for a judge on this case is almost as unattractive as the Pope’s

  50. On and on goes the arguement,hang him, what we should have done etc.Why not bring him back , he was afterall our ally, and didn’t we create his bit of ancient strategic bit of oily Desert? He once was OUR man.

  51. Does anyone remember the first gulf war? I seem to remember that we were well up for it then. The attitude seemed to be ‘yeah, lets get Saddam’ from what I remember. What’s changed since then? (Steven_L)

    In the first Gulf war, Saddam had invaded Kuwait, and George Bush I assembled a considerable coalition of nations to kick him out. The aim wasn’t to “get Saddam”. Bush I has since said that if he’d carried on to Baghdad, the coalition would have disintegrated. Neither were there that many lies told in the first Gulf War, except by the US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, who told Saddam, a few days before he invaded Kuwait, that the US would not interfere in Iraq’s dispute with Kuwait.

    In the second Gulf war, it was fairly clear that we were all being told a lot of whoppers about the threat posed by Saddam, even before the first shot had been fired. To the extent that there was any coalition at all, it was because Bush II had threatened and bullied states into joining it. It turned out that Saddam posed no threat, had no links with Al Qaeda, and that we weren’t bringing Iraq democracy or reconstruction either.

    In what seems to be the approaching third Gulf War, in which America attacks Iran, there isn’t any coalition at all, and the threat posed by Iran to anyone except Israel is nebulous or non-existent.

    Whether or not one liked the first Gulf war, it was done within the framework of the UN, with a very considerable coalition of nations, to achieve a particular goal, for a particular reason. The second Gulf war was carried out largely outside the UN, with a few browbeaten coalition members, with unspecified and constantly changing goals, and for no very good reason – and it has turned into a disaster. The third Gulf war will be conducted entirely outside the UN, with no coalition, with no particular goal, and for no reason at all, and will be an utter disaster for everybody.

  52. FLO
    whichever side lost fewer people, would give some people to the other tribe to balance out the numbers (they would still win the battle and thus spoils).
    Even as late as the middle ages, it was considered a major defeat if you lost more than a third of your army in a battle, and anything more than 10% was still a loss, even if the battle was won.

    … and yet the Aztec civilisation seem to have been astonishingly bloodthirsty the Mongol hordes managed industrial scale casualties and your description o f the middle ages would not sit very well with the crusades. You are I think thinking of the French based culture of the Medieval Renaissance when a highly evolved chivalric code existed and has been much celebrated . This is an exception. As I have previously said to FLO I believe her innocent tribesman is a Western dream with roots in Christian and Romantic ideas the fall and the `Primitive`

    I recall that by some strange transference how shocked people were to find out that both higher apes and dolphins commit acts of cruelty for the pleasure of it .On the face of it the fact that everyone here is the inheritor of an endless line of successful breeders ,who have sliced diced and slaughtered their way to survival , it would be surprising if this element were not present . It is and not just in a psychotic fringe.

  53. FLO`

    In effect, those in power trained the Bush people to behave much like terrorists in their own society.`

    To slightly change the subject from your Bush people. Say a primitive (?) tribe is discovered in a jungle and sighted only from the air . They have attained a life of such spiritual and natural harmony that they could be bottled and sold in Body Shop. They are happy long lived and deeply knowledgeable of their own enviroment. Would you wish that they were left in ignorance of the real world that Westerners might peer at them from above marvelling at their bliss and simplicity. Or does anything about this picture trouble you ?

    JAQ are you out there . Did you say you had converted to Judaism ? Or am I raving and if so , how do you find that ?

    I saw a Jewish comedian saying he wanted to use his comedy to disrupt easy stereo types of Jewry … He`d heard there was a lot of money in that . ………arf arf

  54. newmania,

    The posting about the Aztecs wasn’t mine. I know begger all about them, however, from the little I do know about them, I don’t believe you’re comparing like with like. Aand I didn’t use the people of the Middle Ages as examples of early humanity, because they weren’t.

    The Kalahari Bush people lived at a level of development comparable to that of Stone Age tribes around 5000 or more years ago. That means they lived life styles akin to those of our very early ancestors. The Aztecs, I believe, were at a different level of social development altogether. As I understand it, they came into existence under 1000 years ago and were akin to Capitalist traders.

    Consider how quickly Bushmen society became pathological after they were fenced into reservations with modern humans. There’s something amazingly corrupting about many of us us ‘modern’ lot and our way of life.

    The Bush people aren’t the only early societies to have been crime and violence free, one example which comes to mind at this earthly hour is that of the early Native Americans. Even in quite recent history, some native tribes who were largely hunter gatherers, as the Bush people were, were peaceful, others, who were Capitalistic traders were very warlike.

    One issue you need to address, newmaia, re your theory that humanity are naturally red in tooth and claw, warlike in our genes, and human society/existence naturally a war of all against is ~ why then, since humanity are all the same species, were so many very early tribes non-violent hunter gatherers like the Bushmen?

  55. Today’s Sunday Times

      Reid fights to end torture shield for terror suspects

      JOHN REID, the home secretary, is heading for a showdown with the judiciary over plans to strip some terror suspects of the automatic right to be protected from torture.

      Reid is preparing a new anti-terror law that would sideline human rights legislation protecting suspects from torture if ministers ruled there were “overriding considerations of national security”.

      The move is aimed at foreign terrorist suspects, including 32 detained in prison without charge or being monitored on strict bail conditions.

      Despite Tony Blair’s pledge after last year’s suicide bombings in London to deport them, not one has been forcibly sent home because of legal fears that they might face torture on their return.

      Reid hinted at the change in his Labour conference speech last week. “It cannot be right that the rights of an individual suspected terrorist be placed above the rights, life and limb of the British people. It’s wrong. Full stop. No ifs. No buts. It’s just plain wrong,” he said.

    Filthy b*st*rd. New Labour is now the torture party. But I suppose the Tories will rapidly sign up as well.

    One of the reasons we were given for overthrowing Saddam Hussein was that he routinely used torture. Now we are going to do the same. We have become as barbarous as our enemies.

  56. idlex said:
    Reid is preparing a new anti-terror law that would sideline human rights legislation protecting suspects from torture if ministers ruled there were “overriding considerations of national security”…

    Filthy b*st*rd. New Labour is now the torture party. But I suppose the Tories will rapidly sign up as well.
    One of the reasons we were given for overthrowing Saddam Hussein was that he routinely used torture. Now we are going to do the same. We have become as barbarous as our enemies.

    Totally agree with you about Reid and NuLab, idlex, they’ve begun to give me the creeps. I hope that we can expect better under Cameron.

  57. hope that we can expect better under Cameron.

    If you look at the Polls yesterday and last week in the Standard not only are the Conservatives not going to win but David Cameron is one of the reason they won`t..

    The Conference is crucial . We must have policies

    (I am hunting desperately for a primitive tribe that is nasty there must be one)

  58. What Idlex said, on the Gulf Wars.

    The first one came as close as any war I can remember to the label ‘just’. Saddam invaded Kuwait; the international community got together, under the auspices of the UN, and kicked him out. End of story.

    The only war I can think of, pre or post that one, that conforms to that criteria, was the considerably more serious Second World War.

    Pretty much every other war that I can think of right now was prosecuted with dubious intent. I include the Falklands, before you all start barking at me: that was to win an election.

  59. Fully agree idlex about Reid and the torture party… So what shall we do? How do we stop our country from torturing people, or allowing them to be tortured?

    To misquote John Reid:
    “It cannot be right to bypass human rights. It’s wrong. Full stop. No ifs. No buts. It’s just plain wrong,”

  60. JACK TARGET – Well I `m not any sort of historian (just thought that needed clearing up ho ho) but it seems to me that the Mongol movement is too large in itself to reasonably called an exception and is also part of a long chain of populations moving into West from the East that actually characterises essential elements the West’s identity. I think your description of the crusades rather backs up my view that there was a code of warfare in a particular time (as there is now) but underlying bloodthirsty ness was not different.
    Moving on the historical crime that sticks out, most to me (apart from the obvious) is the scale of genocide committed in the Counter Reformation is astonishing and great invention was shown in achieving this prior to gas and so on.

    FLO thinks people are naturally good and I agree but they cannot be naturally and weak and expect to exist. The ability to wage war effectively shouldn’t be hidden like a rotting body under the tea table.
    On the other hand it’s far from my main area of interest. The opposition of Sparta and Athens was ,I think , seen by the West as prefiguring the opposition of Nato and the Warsaw pact and how each of these wars was won is an interesting way in to how accountable democracy individual liberty and strength are not necessarily oppositions .

    This subject is dealt with in a lighter way in the Culture series by Iain M banks whose science fantasies are vastly superior to his supposedly serious novels an Ian Banks . He sets up a similar opposition .

    Nials Ferguson has a good article today , well I say good rather silly in fact but a point of view on this Torture problem. I wonder why in his journalism he is so far to the lefty of his well known Neo Con book ?

    People are naturally good … Why is it that people who say they believe this usually are usually so determined to take from people they right and ability to run their own lives ?

  61. `So what shall we do? How do we stop our country from torturing people, or allowing them to be tortured?`

    Looking back at the various postings it appears to me that the point that torture cannot be an `absolute moral` wrong has been accepted . Or at least has gone unanswered . Which means less than it sounds.

    At the moment the issue here is rendition to client tortureer states as we know.
    Are you all really so comfortable with hiding behind US military power and will whilst claiming a supposed superiority ?
    Equally I am highly uncomfortable with the reality of this legislation

  62. Newmania – I’m here. On the question of

    JAQ are you out there . Did you say you had converted to Judaism ? Or am I raving and if so , how do you find that ?

    No I haven’t converted, I’m an Anglican Christian. It’s just that, as I understand it, Jewish law dictates that you are a Jew if your Mother is a Jew, it comes through the female line which is very sensible. Anyway, my maternal great-grandmother was Jewish.

  63. newmania said:

    hope that we can expect better under Cameron.

    If you look at the Polls yesterday and last week in the Standard not only are the Conservatives not going to win but David Cameron is one of the reason they won`t..

    1. YouGov have admitted that they used erroneous sampling methods – that there was a certain confusion or ‘overlap’ of sample data! – and that their results last week contradicted those of all the other pollsters for that reason. In other words, YouGov poll have admitted that there poll results were biased.

    Why do you not mention this, newmania? Why do seem to be intent on sabotaging the popularity of your leader whom you claim to support?

    2. I’m one of those who’s opinions are sampled every week by YouGov’s political opinion poll. Every week I receive a lengthy consumer opinion survey, tagged onto which is the political poll.

    The strange thing is that I have did not receive the online survey which YouGov polled following the Labour Party Conference.

    Why not? yet another erroneous sample? Another biased result? What’s going on at YouGov?

    3. Following the Labour Party conference, I watched a Question Time audience in Manchester – Labour’s heartlands – explode with anger at Jack Straw and NuLab over the Iraq invasion and NuLab policy. One bloke who said NuLab are destroying our country got an ovation.

    You must have policies, you say. What you mean is that you must have Old Tory policies presented to Conference, mindless tax cuts, mindless slash and burn of the public sector – bugger the fact that these policies have made your Party unelectable for the past 10 years and would make the Conservatives unelectable for the next 10 years if continued with.

    Wake up, newmania, the Old Tory world you want to reincarnate was staked in heart during Thatcher’s night of the long knives.

    And please address the real issue, that when Cameron wins the next election, NuLab would lead to NuLab crushing the LibDems as they always have and misruling our country for another 10 years. The only way to prevent this happening is to get behind your Party’s leader and fight for a resounding majority.

    It’s within Cameron’s grasp, so why are you intent on another 10 years of social and economic insanity in UK and the disenfranchisement of 70% of your fellow citizens?

  64. Blast. I inadvertently cut part of a para which made that section unintelligible. This should have read as follows:

    And please address the real issue, that when Cameron wins the next election, NuLab will attempt to form a alliance with the Lib Dems, which would lead to NuLab crushing the LibDems as they always have and misruling our country for another 10 years.

  65. Why do you not mention this, newmania? Why do seem to be intent on sabotaging the popularity of your leader whom you claim to support?

    Because I didn`t know it FLO. You overestimate me and having listened to DC this morning I am feling happier with his compromise. Where did you pick that up , which is highly relevant . I am glad to hear it.

    (doing some stuff on leaseholders today if anyone happens to have any fabulous insights )

  66. `You must have policies, you say. What you mean is that you must have Old Tory policies presented to Conference, mindless tax cuts, mindless slash and burn of the public sector`

    Yes yes there is a lot in this and David Cameron made the same point today but he infuriates at times by saying things I know he knows are rubbish

    1 Stability comes before tax cuts , people mortages must come first – Gibberish . Tax cuts are required for continued stability ( which he also said…)and it has nothing to do with Mortgages except to draw a false link with the Thatcher Period when the money supply got out of control.

    Listening to him today ,for political animal like me it was a superb performance. He says no to tax cuts but yes to halting tax rises and yes to tax simplification. This is a way to navigate to tax cuts the only way politically possible as Mathew Dancoona pointed out in the Telegraph .

    He really is several times cleverer than the Consefvative Party deserve and none of my complaints would I voice at such a time as to damage his prospects . Luckily I have this place to let of steam.

    ( But thankyou for your textual wrist slap which is quite right … all contrite now )

  67. `No I haven’t converted, I’m very sensible. Anyway, my maternal great-grandmother was Jewish.
    `
    Ah you see the bit about Jesus being the risen son of god and dying to save our sins is the bit of Christianity I don`t like. ( Which considering at least one biship doesn`t believe in god at all makes me pretty mainstream)

    I have often thought how attractive Judaism is but there we go . Its church for me for school purposes anyway

  68. newmania said:

    People are naturally good … Why is it that people who say they believe this usually are usually so determined to take from people they right and ability to run their own lives ?

    I don’t believe that people are naturally good, newmania. That’s sheer romance. The Bushmen and peaceful tribes we’re talking about were not naturally good, they did what they had to do to survive, they’re simply realists who’ve accepted and adopted an ecologically rational and sustainable mode of survival. It’s not a question of goodness or badness, it’s simply a question a viable means of survival.

    We humans are unique among the species of the animal kingdom in that our evolutionary advantage is our ability not just to adapt to our environment, but to change it. And that ability, a fusion of our unique manual dexterity and cognitive power, is wholly and fundamentally a social one. We humans are social animals who can only adapt our environment together, not as individuals.

    Even those outstanding individuals who’ve made contributions to our human knowledge and technology base which have transformed the lives of most of humanity, would have been hopeless romantics and pissing in the wind without a social base with which to manufacture these changes.

    We are, like it or not, totally dependent on each other. We really are, as Cameron says, all in it together. The amazing adaptive ability and survival of the Bushmen against all odds was the result of their recognition of this.

    Faced as we are now with one of the biggest threats to the survival of the majority of our species that we have ever confronted, I believe we can either learn to co-operate and survive as the Bushmen and our early ancestors did – though not by regressing to their level of development! – or we may well become extinct.

    Cameron believes in the freedom of the individual, so do I. It’s Nulab, who are intent on reinforcing the power of a small elite of NuLab politicians and public sector workers by turning the rest of us into their slave class. Make no mistake about it, that is what NuLab are doing. The problem is, some Old Tories seem to want to do exactly the same thing, but with a different slave class and an alternative elite. Well, one glance around us tells us that neither strategy is now a possible or viable option. The silent majority of us – caught in the centre – have woken up and will not accept it any longer.

  69. Newmania – do you agree with the oh so handsome Chris Hitchens that religion has no place in governance? I remember what he had to say about Bliar lately

    “When I first interviewed Blair, as newly elected Labour leader in 1994, he answered my question about the role of his Christianity in his politics by saying, “I can’t stand politicians who go on about religion.” If I had to date the moment when my own misgivings about him began, it would be the time – starting after September 11, 2001 – when he began to emphasize his own “faith” as a motivating factor in his moral stand. A saving element in British politics is that such appeals are usually considered embarrassing. They may also suggest a slight tendency, on the part of those uttering them, to believe in some kind of supernatural endorsement. So Blair’s concession that he must leave office, a decision so long postponed and so disastrously protracted, represents among other things a triumph of the mundane over the permanent temptation to believe that politics is about anything else.”

  70. Yes JAQ but people often make the grave mistake of imagining that this country and America are far more like each other than they are. This misunderstanding is evident in our incomprehension of the symbolic importance of the individual’s right to bear arms and the importance of religion to any American politician. In the US 50% attend church regularly, in this country 2 or 3 % (?) something like that. You have to decode the words of Americans with great care given this constituency.

    FLO – I don’t actually disagree with most of what you say. On the environment though real action is only possible internationally (as Boris pointed out we are farting in a hurricane here). Problems of sovereignty arise and I agree it’s a legitimate area for debate. It is an area that David Cameron habitually ignores. For this reason his unexceptionable lets be nice guff looks insincere but I have no special objection to it .

    In fact following his interview this morning I feel back on board with the project reading between the lines his position is closer to mine than you might think

  71. Newmania said

    You have to decode the words of Americans with great care given this constituency.

    Um don’t quite know what American point has to do with mine – This interview was a Brit interviewing a Scot and talking of British politics in a British newspaper in Britain. ??

  72. We are, like it or not, totally dependent on each other. We really are, as Cameron says, all in it together. (‘Flo)

    Absolutely. Which is one reason I can’t stand ‘rugged individualism’, or the preposterous notion of ‘the self-made man’, who is in some magical sense separate from civil society.

    When we work together, rather than against each other, we all benefit, and that benefit takes the form of increased freedom. We can only become free individuals to the extent that we cooperate with each other.

    Oddly, the Latin roots of the word ‘competition’ mean ‘striving together’ or ‘coming together’, rather than ‘striving against’ each other in some Darwinian struggle for existence.

  73. Newmania,
    I think you have to be careful when using the “only 2-3% of British people go to church” arguement.
    Many people in Britain are practicing Christians, but do not feel the need to go to church every week.
    It is also becoming popular, especially among younger people, to have church-type meetings in their own homes or other non-traditional locations (actually does the word church mean “gathering of people” or something-can anyone else clarify this?).
    From my own experience, I think that religion is important to many younger people (just look at the growth of the Alpha course) with those who dismiss it increasingly seen as old-fashioned. Perhaps this is another reason why Blair changed his anti-religion stance.

  74. Idlex .
    Oddly, the Latin roots of the word ‘competition’ mean ‘striving together’ or ‘coming together’
    ,
    The Latin root of trivia is tri via or three ways , a corner . A place to exchange tittle tattle.Which is itself trivial . Good eh ?

    Just being silly

  75. JAQ – I`m such a silly if rather handsome and interesting fool . I read Bush . No idea why. I sell this gibberish by the yard you know . Want any more ?

  76. K It is also becoming popular, especially among younger people, to have church-type meetings

    Not that I`ve noticed and on the other hand I do know alot of people who drag themselves to Church for the schools . I misread JAQ anyway and I would accept that Christianity is , obviously , far more influential than that sort of figue would suggest.

    The contrast with the US is telling though

  77. Idlex

    `Absolutely. Which is one reason I can’t stand ‘rugged individualism’, or the preposterous notion of ‘the self-made man’, who is in some magical sense separate from civil society`

    Civil Society might drag an individual back and is in any case created by individuals. Society is a “construct” that once accepted as a unit tends to produce distinctly un Conservative conclusions:

    Lets blame Society
    Society owes a duty
    Society cannot tolerate

    I am always concerned about such statements.What is this thing Society .Maggie said `there is no such thing as Society but people forget she added –only community.

  78. k – yes a church is just a gathering of christians. It does also correctly mean the building, the organisation, etc. but any gathering of christians is the oldest and most important definition.

    The popularity of house groups and so on I think is misleading, because a great deal of the time those groups originate from church-goers. Evangelical churches (from which most of those groups originate) are fairly widespread these days, and so most of the young people go to one fairly regularly.

    On the other hand, talking of devout christians who don’t go to church – for the last year I worked for a church, and I’m currently studying Theology at an Anglican theological college. Most people would certainly count me as devout, and I would happilly accept that, but I actually don’t go to church on Sundays very often.

  79. newmania said:

    I am always concerned about such statements.What is this thing Society .Maggie said `there is no such thing as Society but people forget she added –only community.

    I thought Thatcher said…only families. Haven’t checked it out though, so I’m probably wrong.

    I think you’re wrong about society being created by individuals. Without society and the whole spectrum of relationships and meaning it gives us, there would be no individuals, or minds, come to that. There’d be only mindless brutes with little or no cognitive processes. We only know ourselves through social categories and contrasts and within the interaction of social relationships.

    It’s like the tree in the quad thing. Unless someone knows it’s there, it isn’t really a tree at all, i.e. it does not exist. The only way individuality can exist is in the context of social relationships which recognise it as individuality. Which means that individuality relies on society, so it isn’t self reliance at all, or anything much of anything really.

    Or, take he most extreme form of individuality, Brian Keenan, one of the Beirut hostages, who was in solitary confinement for many months and dependant on his rugged individuality to pull him through. Keenan describes in ‘Evil Cradling’ how he lost all sense of himself as human and ended thinking he was a bird attacked by flocks of other birds, or dancing round his cell to a cacophany of all the music he’d ever heard.

    Insanity, newmania, that’s all the sort of extreme individuality you’re talking about really is.

  80. Rugged Individualism? Wasn’t that Herbert Hoovers old philosophy?

    I don’t agree with it taken to its extreme. In 20’s America didn’t it mean no welfare state whatsoever, people allowed to rot on the scraphead etc?

    But taken in todays context of the nanny state, and wealth redistribution via tax credits and means testing, I can see some merits in getting back to a legislative and fiscal system that promotes a bit more ‘rugged individualism’.

    One example of what I mean is the use of means testing to decide who pays top-up fees. The current system means that working class kids from families where 2 parents have average jobs are saddled with huge debts on leaving university. However working class kids from families of dole-wellers or single parents are likely to become exempt from this. It hardly seems fair to be penalised because your parents stayed married and could be bothered to go to work.

    I think the more we move in the current direction, the more people will become financially dependant on the state. This cannot be right, the state should be dependant on the people to work and raise taxes, not the worker dependant on the state to feed and clothe their kids.

    That’s what makes me afraid of Gordon Brown – he seems to want to make as many people as he can dependant on him and his unfair fiscal system that penalises taking responsibility for oneself.

    Brown could have simply raised tax allowances to help poorer working families but instead he invents the disasterous tax credit – now all those people are made dependant on him being in power.

  81. I agree with Steven_L the system for payment of fees was unfair in the extreme. Divorced parents were able to get financial help for thier children simply by refusing to support them through university whereas the children of married parents, who couldn’t or wouldn’t support them, had to either take out huge bank loans (in addition to governemt loans) or move out of ther parents home and support themselves for three years before the government would help them. So much for families.
    I think the new system where only the very poor get any financial help except government loans is even worse though. The actual support is the same so the only difference is after graduation when the loan is paid back based on the students, not the parents earnings. Why should a graduate in a high earning job get away with not paying back their government support simply because of their parents financial status?
    I wonder if any labour MP’s who happily took grants from the tories in the 80’s will be paying them back? Somehow I don’t think so.

  82. newmania said:
    September 30, 2006 4:18 PM | permalink

    Greg – … atrociously expressed comment . If you would care to rephrase this in a digestible form … you sound like a social casualty I would avoid on the bus .. to ignore you entirely .Perhaps RAINCOASTER or FLO or THALIA is more familiar with these ideas and will be able to guess or understand what you mean. If anyone can I will be grateful to know ?
    Could you perhaps ask one question you feel is illuminated by this …um material ?

    Ad hominem abound, indignantly bearing ‘atrocious expression’, all the while confirming the points raised in the earlier post. Schizophrenia kicking in, the decision to ignore the ‘social casualty’ is superseded with the need to launch a counter attack, despite the lack of a clear understanding of the forwarded points, which is then passed on to the other perceived apparatchiks, and defenders of the cause.

    Analogous of Rome burning and citizens adulating the fiddling Nero. While forgotten are the obscenity of the choice offered to the electorate in the last general elections between; a ‘racist cleaner person’ with policies for; illegal asylum seekers (short hand for immigrants), gypsies, and cleaner hospitals. Or on the other hand, a ‘congenital liar’ with no policy; elect me, despite the fact that I know you really don’t want to, and you will see the back of me soon, and anyway no sane person can vote for the other guy (Mr. Howard) who is so clueless.

    Atrocious are the deep divisions within our society that have been divisively promoted, through a constant torrent of a negative media campaign, and political theatre designed to bring about the current prevalent racism on display towards all persons Muslim, and turbaned.

    Obscenity of the deaths of untold Iraqis, Afghans, (we don’t do body count) our soldiers, while the great and good are locked in the cycle of; now that we have started, we will have to finish. Evidently there have not been enough dead corpses to satiate the blood lust of the ‘blood price’ set.

    However, all the while the world has moved on, to the current situation that US senate in effect declares war on the planet, anointing the new emperor of the planet with powers of life or death on all those living outside US without so much as a squeak from any of the so called leaders.

    Although it has long been an apparent fact that these days governments around the planet have in effect become as effective as parochial town councils, alas that somehow does not absolve these governments from registering their stance and posture in the face of future kidnapping, indefinite detention, and torture of their citizens without any due cause or evidence (habeas corpus), which is now lawfully (as per US legislation) within the powers of the Emperor Bush.

    How do you reconcile this little hiccup oh all knowing oracle?

  83. Faced as we are now with one of the biggest threats to the survival of the majority of our species that we have ever confronted.. [Auntie Flo]

    To which threat do you refer, Flo?

  84. GREG`Atrocious are the deep divisions within our society`
    Now you sound like Yodah to me . Sorry really but I don`t understand you . I `m not all that bright and its probably my fault so pease don`t take offence.
    FLO FLO FLO what am I to do with you ?
    `There’d be only mindless brutes with little or no cognitive processes` Well that might be literally true if you mean the permanent the brain damage non exposure to language at an early age causes. Language acquisition may be a way to look at possible limits to your ideas. In fact we do not learn language in the sense we learn to drive. We need to be dipped in it and then it grows as other functions like walking grow. This does not require more than minimal input .There is considerable disagreement exactly what is in the `box` to be opened but there is certainly a box. For this reason at a deep structural level all languages are the same. Chomsky is of course the big boy in all this ” Philosophy “stemming from linguistic structural analysis allows us to answer questions like what is the meaning of life in the only way they ever can be ie that it is a false question.

    You version of people is a very Classical or pre romantic view . The classical view is that we are buckets and that with out organisation to turn us into lovely ornate fountains we remain so. The romantic view which in some form most people today ascribe to in various terms is that we are all wells and of infinite depth. Answers are therefore to be found within .Such a view would emphasise the importance of emotions as against structure . The instinctive the childlike over the ordered and adult .
    Pivotal figures in this great shift are Beethoven in music , in England the romantic poets … etc.Jane Austin was writing at the turning point and summed it up as `Liking Pope no more than is proper` and sense and sensibility the opposition.

    Jane Austen`s wit is that of a Conservative Classical mind laughing at the follies of the romantic that she encountered in the new silly gothic and romantic novels . Northhanger Abbey is a direct satire of such sub “romantic “fare.
    I am rather on her side and ,as it happens rank her only second to Shakespeare and the ….but noone cares what I think obviously.

    I am pleasantly surprised to find you on my side though . With all this noble savage malarkey I imagined you were a Romantic by inclination.
    Everyone else is a bucket but I am a well of infinite depth and possibility is a good compromise. But do you really believe so little comes from within ?You are a woman of many contradictions FLO

  85. Mr. TARGET- How interesting . Perhaps you would ask you good friend god to explain some things that have been bothering me

    1 If god is responsible for moral law he either picked it arbitrarily ( so murder might be good ) or it pre dated him , so he did nothing .Only if you can believe that murder could be good if god said so can you believe god is responsible for moral law . If he is not , then what is the point of him.( I read this in Bertrand Russell but he is quoting someone.. J S Mills I think )
    2The unmoved mover : A concept that predates knowledge of infinite sequences.
    3 When the heliocentric Solar system replaced the Ptolemaic it was clear which was right because the former required vastly less assumptions to `justify` the same observations . Thus if we can explain everything we see without an outside force we must prefer this simpler explanation as requiring less to explain the same .
    An argument from `beauty ` if you like
    4 As an explanation of complexity ( the implication of the watch is the watchmaker) the problem is only once removed . So the 18th century apologists did not see that requiring an explanation for complexity in the universe was no more or less logical than requiring an explanation of the complexity of God containing whithin him this possibility . In other words the problem is the same with or without ( see 3 above)
    5`What is the meaning of life then?` a stumbling block for many that is really mostly a semantic error . Not all sequences of words that fit received grammar are meaningful . For example . ( outside poetry ) . What colour is prayer ? ..is meaningless as Colour is not a property of prayer . How drunk is a mountain and so on . Apply the word meaning to other objects . What is the meaning of a mountain .. gibberish , what is the meaning of a hammer … almost works . In fact only `words`/ linguistic utterances have meaning as a property so `explained purpose` for which meaning is shorthand can be substituted. Try hammer again . What is the explained purpose of a hammer ? Aha it is to knock in nails . So a hammer has `meaning ` . On the other hand `What is the purpose of a mountain` , Is equivalent to asking what is the colour of prayer and `What is the meaning of life ?` may be such a meaningless sequence of words. The traditional concept of a false question is adequate to explain the supposed difficulty of the question . What is the meaning of life ?`
    Interestingly those sentences that are `meaningful` beginning . `What is the purpose of“ must always have a purpose imagined by a maker . So table . yes .. gun .. yes…green…. no…time .. no and so on . You will see that to ask the question `What is the meaning of life already contains the assumption of an outside purpose giver and a purpose . ( See para one) ` Don’t go saying ah yes but for me `What is the meaning or prayer` is meaningful this isn’t poetics its semantics . Imagine if you didn’t know what a hammer was for . There is an answer /purpose` with or without your ignorance of it .
    That about wraps it up for god I think

    TARGET DUDE I`m sorry if the crisis of faith my cleverness evokes causes you to give up your studies and take a menial job as a gardener, and obviosuly ignore me completetly if you want to live a lie ….( just kidding)

  86. NEWMANIA TAKES ON GOD.

    By the way I am actually sort of having doubts about `atheism ` myself . Nonetheless these ar reasonbale problems but for another time if you prefer of course

  87. ..good sense of humour mates…and very deep – all too much to cope with on the eve of the Conservative Party Conference!

  88. Actually what Thatcher said was:

      and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.

    I remember thinking at the time that families were themselves perhaps the most fundamental of all human societies, and that she was contradicting herself as she spoke.

  89. Idlex- Would you call a family a Society. I would say a family was akin to a tribe ,a country, more because one feels unexamined loyalty or “love” for such things .Society , on the other hand is a post Marxist idea (isn’t it ? )implying a set of responsibilities that spring from types of political theory.
    Steven -L Agree with you .
    Paul D- Don’t be hasty. Newmania may not answer prayers but usually answers postings
    God- What do you think ?..and please be brief

    (my son woke up coughing …back to bed)

  90. Having watched this Bush inspired nonsense unfold, could I be forgiven for thinking that the neatest resolution might be for them to take Saddam round the back of the courthouse and whack him before any more lawyers and judges get whacked, much as the idea of whacking lawyers appeals to my sense of fair play and natural justice.

    Q: What would you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?
    A: A … [Ed: removed as we cannot allow obscene words/comments] good start.

  91. Idlex- Would you call a family a Society. I would say a family was akin to a tribe ,a country, more because one feels unexamined loyalty or “love” for such things

    I have an almost entirely unexamined love towards my very real brother. He has helped me out about 2000 times in my life, and I don’t think many brothers come much better.

    Perhaps this was a mistake of mine. I have been making these sorts of mistakes ever since I was born.

  92. newmania:

    We’ve had religious discussions on here before, and they tend to start dominating threads and annoying the other users! I’ll post my reply here, but I suggest we carry this on by e-mail? warphueal[at]hotmail[dot]com is me.

    Anyway, the reply –

    1. Getting off to a very challenging start! That is quite a problem indeed. Obviously the moral law is a part of God’s nature, and we are created from God. C S Lewis demonstrates to my satisfaction that we have an inborn moral law (I’ll give you his reasoning too if you like). And since we are created from God, and including his moral law, we naturally think that that moral law is best of all. And in fact, if you believe in God, then it is the best of all (for this creation).

    There is of course a question whether it is the best of all possible moral laws in an absolute sense – and yes God is bound by absolutes (the contradictions you raise in point 5. are examples – God could not create a red sound for example). Doctrine says that God is perfect, and if you decide to go long with that supposition, then is God the only type of perfect? For example, is a Trinitarian God better than a 2 or 4 person God. Or a God with only one person, etc. So a similar problem comes when querying the moral law. Is it better than one where murder is always ok? I don’t know the answer, but if you accept a Christian theology, then you can say that it is the best moral law for us in this creation, hailing as it does from our creator, and thus in closest harmony with our surroundings.

    2. I’m not familiar with this

    3. In fact the heliocentric model is also wrong – any point can be taken as the centre of the universe if we like (including the planet earth, including jerusalem, or the vatican, or in fact anywhere whatsoever. The reason for this is that the universe is generally thought to be curved, and thus like a sphere has no centre on it’s surface, and so a centre can be arbitrarily defined. Of course a sphere does have a centre, but it is unfathomable from the surface except by analogy – we don’t know where the ‘centre’ of the universe is, or what it’s nature is. Perhaps it’s God? hehe.

    Mathematicians and physicists of all stripes tend to use whatever is most helpful as a centre to describe motion – doing exactly as you say, making the equations simple. Thus they take the sun as the centre for solar system equations, the galaxy for galactic equations, and London for the M25. We do not describe the path of cars on the M25 in terms of their orbit around the Sun.

    My point so far is that you can choose whatever centre you like to make the equations simplest. Now taking your point 4 into account, I shall try to hoist you with your own petard, and show that God is simplest.

    Godel, a famous and competent mathematician, wrote a theory called “Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem”. It is a completely sound mathematical proof, and shows that no closed system of mathematical axioms can prove every other axiom in the system. You either have to refer outside the system, or take something as an assumption with no proof. People who seek to describe the universe in purely scientific terms (as I did back when I was a physicist and an atheist…) hit a stumbling block, because their own basis (mathematics) has proven that they will never succeed. As such, comprehensive descriptions of the universe will never be complete if they rely wholly on maths, as current science does. They instead get into an infinite sequence of ever expanding sets of laws, with no end. It is simpler to use God as the assumption, and base our ideas of the universe on him.

    5. Are you serious? Are you actually asking me for the meaning of life? I can give you a few ideas, but no solid answers!

  93. Jack Target said:

    We’ve had religious discussions on here before, and they tend to start dominating threads and annoying the other users!

    Very true Jack and I would love to host the discussion on my blog if everyone is agreeable?

  94. JAQ I have tried reply to Mr. Target on `logical problems ` probably badly but have concluded that in any case none of this will address far more important expieriences we have of “love ” “loyalty ” and so on. I fear agreement looms in some sense .

    I am greatly looking forward to banishing the unease the whole thing causes me by shouting at the Coucil at a Leaseholders revolt meeting tommorow. Hoorah !!!! Up and at `em.

  95. Up and at ’em Newmania!!

    I was just wondering, dragging y’all back to the thread, what you all thought about Britain being the planet police?

    It’s financial as well as ethical – should we be spending tax payers money keeping our troops in Iraq? When there’s so much to do here? (there’s a list)

  96. PaulD said:

    To which threat do you refer, Flo?

    WW3, PaulD, an almighty clash of insane, conflicting ideologies and mass migrating people as they scramble for power and the last fragments of our planet’s dwindling resources and sustainable space.

    I believe humanity will find a way to prevent it, but only by stepping inside each other’s skins and, as Cameron says, sharing the products of growth.

  97. FLO
    `WW3, PaulD, an almighty clash of insane, conflicting ideologies and mass migrating people`

    After the apocolypse do I get a car and guns , and maybe a she-warrior courtesan

    ( Just to weigh up the options on the menu properly)

    XXX

  98. newmania said: Flo’…You version of people is a very Classical or pre romantic view . The classical view is that we are buckets and that with out organisation to turn us into lovely ornate fountains we remain so. The romantic view which in some form most people today ascribe to in various terms is that we are all wells and of infinite depth. Answers are therefore to be found within.

    Wrong again, newmania. You aren’t even warm. I don’t agree with either of these world views.

  99. idlex said:

    Actually what Thatcher said was:

    and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.
    I remember thinking at the time that families were themselves perhaps the most fundamental of all human societies, and that she was contradicting herself as she spoke.

    idlex strikes again. I totally agree with you.

  100. PaulD said:

    Newmania – if that’s the alternative, I think I’ll stick with God, thank you very much.

    Me too!

  101. Where do you (Boris Johnson) get the impudence to comment on the iniquities of the trial of Saddam Hussein you self righteous pillock!?!

    After your recent glib and uninformed nonsense about Hezbullah, Palestine and Israel you have NO CREDIBILITY WHATSOEVER when criticising any due process of law in or around the Middle East.

    You are (allegedly) a journalist; at least attempt some consistency in your reporting and opinions you buffoonish dilettante. And I sincerely recommend you read up on the history of this region and avoid reference to the plethora of pro-zionist propaganda and rhetoric which abounds on the web. Hart’s “Zionism, the real enemy of the Jews” is a good place to start.

    Tim W,
    Johannesburg South Africa
    P.S.
    Discuss the following: How does it feel to be a member of an opposition party indistinguishable from the government? Note, extra credit will be awarded for the use of the words: ‘pointless’, ‘superfluous’ and ‘redundant’ in your answer.

  102. ‘WW3, PaulD, an almighty clash of insane, conflicting ideologies and mass migrating people as they scramble for power and the last fragments of our planet’s dwindling resources and sustainable space’ (Auntie Flo’)

    I don’t see this as World War 3, more the next stage of the cold war.

    The way I see the background to whats happening is this:

    1988 – Iraq – Iran war ends
    1989 – Russia pull final troops out of Afghanistan leaving it in ruin, Berlin wall comes down communism fails
    1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait, 1991 – NATO rescue Kuwait from Iraqi invasion, Iraq attacks Israel
    1992 – Clinton wins election, sanctions and isolated sorties continue on Iraq, Afghanistan is left to rot.
    1998 – Operation Desert Fox, Iraq is bombed heavily
    2000 – Bush replaces Clinton and annouces Son on Star Wars missile defence system, Russia is snubbed as a partner
    2001 – Putin decides to ignore US embargo on arms to Iran in retaliation of Son of Star Wars snub, he seals multi-billion dollar arms deal and puts them on a new nuclear programme
    2001 – Taleban/Al-Qaeda attack USA
    2001 – NATO attack Taleban and begin regime change in Afghanistan
    2003 – NATO invade Iraq and begin regime change in Iraq
    2006 – Hezbollah attack Israel, Israel attack Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and lay groundwork in case of any future NATO/Israeli attack on Iran where Iran would seek to attack Israel through Hezbollah

    This brings us to the present situation with NATO trying to back new democratic governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia and China are arming Iran and helping them develop nuclear technologies. Iran are sponsoring Shiite militants in Iraq, Syria (again armed by Russia) are sponsoring the ba’athist insurgents. Said insurgents are all trying to push NATO out of Iraq.

    Same old, same old if you ask me Aunt Flo. Not the clash of civilisations but the clash of US/Western and Russian/Chinese interests.

    Shame the cowardly French and the damn Germans won’t help us out. If it wasn’t for the US they would be speaking Russian.

  103. `Discuss the following: How does it feel to be a member of an opposition party indistinguishable from the government`
    1 well I don’t think any credibility is required to criticise this particular due process, even if this , (South African / anti Semite ?) seriously means any of this . I cannot help but notice that across the media there has bee a vast amount more criticism pf Israel than the Arabs in Sudan as they rape and butcher there way though Lebanon’s worth every two weeks so perhaps some balance is needed .
    On the more certain ground of being part of an opposition indistinguishable from the government that is patently nonsense . There are numerous detectable differences from the government . Finding differences to the Liberal Party is trickier but do-able .
    .The promise to extend right to buy though a rent to Mortgage scheme .
    The undertaking not to increase tax ( a vast difference)
    The undertaking (and developing policy coming out ) to simplify tax …how important is that
    On Europe , not all I would want but quite obviously a very different position from the Labour party
    This are the large policy areas reaching solidity
    Developing themes
    A distancing from US Foreign Policy ,( which I don`t like)
    BUT an undertaking to properly equip and support our forces in Afghanistan (which I do like)
    An undertaking to rethink the unreasonable Scottish dispensation
    An undertaking to redress the damage and disrespect with which the Constitution has been treated
    An undertaking to devolve power back to local Councils and scrap the disastrous Regional Frauds
    A new approach to the NHS of devolving power back to the situation and away from Whitehall
    Also a lot of old nonsense about the environment so far I have only noticed good intentions
    But good intentions are a start and there is along way to go
    Clear pro women policy in MP selection far beyond the Labour party
    An undertaking to reform the Police ,about time

    And so on as will no doubt continue to be fleshed out.

    “With extra points for” …goodnessthat takes me back .I think that might be the sort of sustained parody I would have enjoyed as a student which ,unless I `m much mistaken ,is what Tim is.Good luck with your exams Irish Tim whoever you are .
    Please come back and gabble like a child whenever you feel like it .

  104. Nice one newmania – unfortunately I won’t vote for any party that isn’t stridently against the current and upcoming anti-terrorism laws. While Cameron has spoken out against some of them, he did say that he would like the Human Rights Act re-written or scrapped. Consequently I won’t vote conservative in the next election, unless that changes (even though I’m a member of the party!) Nothing more important in my mind, although equipping our army better is definitely high up there too, as is getting as far as possible from the US foreign policy timebomb.

  105. Who’s for a written constitution? Not me.

    Amendment II: … the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    Made perfect sense at the time (1789). Look where it’s got them.

  106. PaulD, I think you’ll find that the Second Amendment guarantees people the right to bear arms as part of a militia against the British. If the practice were restricted to those willing to do so, you might find a substantial shift in some of the rhetoric.

    n spite of extensive recent discussion and much legislative action with respect to regulation of the purchase, possession, and transportation of firearms, as well as proposals to substantially curtail ownership of firearms, there is no definitive resolution by the courts of just what right the Second Amendment protects. The opposing theories, perhaps oversimplified, are an ”individual rights” thesis whereby individuals are protected in ownership, possession, and transportation, and a ”states’ rights” thesis whereby it is said the purpose of the clause is to protect the States in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units. Whatever the Amendment may mean, it is a bar only to federal action, not extending to state or private restraints. The Supreme Court has given effect to the dependent clause of the Amendment in the only case in which it has tested a congressional enactment against the constitutional prohibition, seeming to affirm individual protection but only in the context of the maintenance of a militia or other such public force.

  107. JACK TARGET- I find it hard to sympathise with abstaining but it is consistent with “type” of your other remarks (about torture)
    PAUL D- I am against a written constitution on the basis that I am free to do whatever I like provided it isn’t illegal. To me this has a symbolic Libertarian value . I do not need the Government to tell me what I am free to do. Is this your view?

    STEVEN L – I am most impressed by what you say . I am weaker I `m afraid on “abroad , even weaker you might say. What sources does this analysis come from. Aside , obviously , from your mighty brain ?
    I wish you were around to help me attack all the pious anti Israel nonsense our Councillors churn out .

    RAIN COASTER- Does the right to bear arms not come from the history of the US guaranteeing that the government was not the only armed force. It is an opposition to Kings and their armies , or so I had thought? I gather there is somewhat more complexity to the law than I had imagined but I would suggest that this Libertarian ideal is the reason the symbol has remained .

    FLO – Am I in trouble ? I would love to know what your view of us all is if it neither romantic or classical. I think it would be hard to evade any element of either . In other words I think you are bluffing. Bluffer!

  108. newmania said:

    FLO – Am I in trouble ? I would love to know what your view of us all is if it neither romantic or classical. I think it would be hard to evade any element of either . In other words I think you are bluffing.
    Bluffer!

    No, you’re the bluffer, newmania

  109. Has anyone seen the newspaper article today – Mail? Indie? Telegraph? I forget which, Mail I think – which depicts Cameron as Arthur and his shadow cabinet as Camelot? Seems I’m not the only one who thought that – or who doesn’t see Cameron and Blair as in any sense alike.

  110. I beg your pardon, just found the article, in the Mail, it compares Cameron and the shadow cabinet with JFK and his government, collectively known as Camelot.

  111. Newmania-It is the government who decides what is legal and what is not so they are telling you what you are free to do at the end of the day.
    I agree with the notion of a written constitution, in theory at least. There are rights which need to be protected, such as the right to a trial by jury, but which labour are slowly eroding. Many of these rights have been around for centuries, yet are being destroyed in just a few short years. A written constitution would give Britain some protection from this.

    Jack Target-As for the rewriting of the human rights act, I agree with Cameron and this is one policy which holds particular appeal for me. It was a brave idea to put forward and I think Cameron deserves respect for that. The current human rights act only honours those rights in the breach so it is nearly impossible for them to be used to protect innocent people. Perhaps we need to focus on human responsibilities a bit more. Remember a scrapping of the human rights act is not a scrapping of human rights.

    Newmania/Raincoaster-I do not think that the second ammendment was really aimed at the British since at the time I think there were a lot of problems between individual states all of which had their own militia which they all wanted to protect. However, the wording of the second ammendment is now of little real importance since gun ownership in America is so out of control that banning legal ownership of guns will do little to solve the problem.

  112. The Second Amendment was aimed, it is true, not only at the British but also at the Spanish and the Native Americans, although not so much at individual American states. It was more that the federal government didn’t have a huge, standing army and relied on the states to provide self-protection. In essence, it was military feudalism.

    The Second Amendment states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The NRA tends to omit the first, crucial, half of the Second Amendment – the words referring to a “well-regulated militia.”

    When the U.S. Constitution was adopted, each of the states had its own “militia” – a military force comprised of ordinary citizens serving as part-time soldiers. The militia was “well-regulated” in the sense that its members were subject to various requirements such as training, supplying their own firearms, and engaging in military exercises away from home. It was a form of compulsory military service intended to protect the fledgling nation from outside forces and from internal rebellions.

    The “militia” was not, as the gun lobby will often claim, simply another word for the populace at large. Indeed, membership in the 18th century militia was generally limited to able-bodied white males between the ages of 18 and 45 – hardly encompassing the entire population of the nation.

    The U.S. Constitution established a permanent professional army, controlled by the federal government. With the memory of King George III’s troops fresh in their minds, many of the “anti-Federalists” feared a standing army as an instrument of oppression. State militias were viewed as a counterbalance to the federal army and the Second Amendment was written to prevent the federal government from disarming the state militias.

    It’s instructive to look at the letter of the law, because from it come our legal precedents. We have an obligation to remain familiar with the documents of the founding of our countries, lest we stray too far from what they were intended in the first place. The Second Amendment is a seminal document in American political culture, and thus international political culture of the 20th Century. It’s not “outdated,” it’s only forgotten.

    Like the Magna Carta.

  113. newmania said:

    `Discuss the following: How does it feel to be a member of an opposition party indistinguishable from the government`…that is patently nonsense . There are numerous detectable differences from the government . Finding differences to the Liberal Party is trickier but do-able.

    It’s not surprising that Cameron is being painted as Blair Mk 2. Every half decent poliitician – or thinker, come to that – who follows on from an impressive predecessor is forced to absorb the moment of truth in the predecessor in order to transcend it and them.

    Thatcher was an exception, but then look at what preceded her, she was free to innovate as much as she wanted to. Blair wasn’t, he was heavily circumscribed by Thatcher’s vision and was forced to absorb it into his own before he could transcend it. Cameron too can only move beyond Blair by absorbing his vision and radically transforming it.

    This sort of dialectical or critical interpenetration (no wise cracks, newmania) is the only way to move forward.

    As for the Liberals, they’ve nothing to offer Cameron, my worry is what they’ll offer Brown.

  114. PaulD said: To which threat do you refer, Flo? WW3 (Flo’)

    And there was I, absolutely convinced that you were going to say: “Global Warming”…

  115. K- Yes good points , but it still seems a bit foreign to me (Constitution)…………….. I `m doing rigorous analysis this morning as you see
    RAIN COASTER- I`m not sure that the UK would see itself as defined by a document to anything like the same extent as the US. In practice that is certainly true . The UK self vision is much more incremental and a pride is taken in the slow evolution of the dispensation as opposed to Europe and especially France, events like 1688 are highlights . For this reason a written constitution might be seen as a contradiction in terms . Magana Carta is a small part of this process I suppose but has none of the type of resonance here the US Constitution has. So what you say is literally true but as a prescription for this country is alien to what has gone before

    I have rather got my points mixed up here as I `m not sure RAINCOASTER was saying we should have a Constitution but there seemed to be a connection . Actually RAINCOASTER aren`t you Canadian . Or have I got that wrong ?

  116. About the constitution, I too find the thought of a codified constitution very unpleasant, for many of the reasons stated above (particularly newmania’s libertarian one, also the slow organic growth).

    However, unfortunately Blair has succeeded in shredding a large number of things which would be enshrined in any constitution I had a hand in writing, and in a short period of time. I’m now wondering whether it is worth sacrificing the protection that a codified constitution offers for the essentially aesthetic things that an uncodified one symbolises.

  117. ‘I wish you were around to help me attack all the pious anti Israel nonsense our Councillors churn out’ (Newmania)

    They discuss foreign policy in Islington council? What’s foreign policy got to do with Islington council then?

  118. I think the 5th judge’s inanity compares favourably with the remark of Britain’s judge in the Milosevic murder who, with a straight face, informed him that “Islanic fundamentalism is not a security threat”. This even though it was proven that our then ally bin Laden was a welcome guest in the Bosnian Moslem Presidential office.

    Perhaps the worst thing about that “trial” apart from the judges apparent support of his poisoning, was the wholly obscene way our media ceased reporting on what they originaly & correctly called the “trial of the century”.

    For example can it seriously be suggested that the testimony, undeer oath, of Lord Owen, a former UK Foreign Secretary, that Milosvic was a “man to whom any form of racism is anathema” & the “only leader who consistently sincerely sought peace” was to ordinary to be worth reporting?

  119. ‘This even though it was proven that our then ally bin Laden was a welcome guest in the Bosnian Moslem Presidential office’ (Neil Craig)

    Are these the same Bosnian Muslims that were recruited by Arab Nationalist and anti-semite extrordinaire Mohammad Amin al-Husayni into the Waffen SS?

  120. Raincoster,
    a a person of some evident taste and good sense do you perhaps find ‘newmania’ smarmily didactic?

  121. ‘Didactic’, not a word that features in my feeble Northern vocabulary. So I looked it up.

    Apparently it means:

    ‘Inclined to teach or moralize excessively; moralistic’

    I choked on my Coca-cola when I read that. You’re asking raincoaster’s opinion on who is and isn’t ‘didactic’?

    Why don’t you pop over to Ahmadinejad’s blog while you’re at it and ask him if I’m a theocratic bigot?

  122. Long live freedom of speech and freedom to eat whatever we want!

    Well said, Boris.

    (Melissa, hope you’re having a good conference and not being kept too busy by the presspack!)

  123. STEVEN`They discuss foreign policy in Islington council? What’s foreign policy got to do with Islington council then?`

    No they just like to pretend it has in the press.Its a sort of insane ego trip . Good question . Ask Ken Livingstone while your at it.
    WOEMANSTER
    If I seem pompous its only because I`m struggling to get my thoughts in order and lack the brains to be nice about it at the same time . I do come over that way but I`m really not. Promise.

    Smarmy ? Well if so it hasn`t worked.

    Emough of that old nonsense but as far as Raincoaster is conncerned I read her contributions ( with great pleasure ) and try to repond.
    Thats all.

  124. The Subject of this thread is Saddam Hussein’s Trial and Boris’s comments,particularly whether the trial should have been in the Hague rather than Iraq.
    I think the USA (who wont sign -up to the ICC because it fears “politically motivated prosecutions” of its own troops) was never going to turn over Saddam to a ‘competent International tribunal’ like the world court or something. That would just set a precedent that could also apply to USAs own leaders/soldiers.
    The USA,as i remember are the only state to have been found guilty at the World Court in the Hague of “unlawful use of force” (commonly known as TERRORISM)for its arming of the thuggish contras and its mining of Nicaraguan ports- circa 1984.

  125. Someone earlier raised the question of torture and of whether it can be justified. The now well-worn “nuclear timebomb on Manhattan Island-Would nt you torture the terrorist scenario?”is constantly trotted out. How often does any scenario even remotely like this occur in the real world compared to all the people wrongly tortured? The most likely way for discovering such a “ticking bomb” is of torturing one “terrorist” after another or everyone in the “terrorists” address book until eventually they yield that “information”.
    ‘If you tolerate this your children will be next'(as the song goes).
    If torture can be justified purely by results, so can terrorism.
    In an until now unexamined “internal war” therefore, the “terrorists” might be ‘goodies’ and the torturers the ‘baddies’- depending on the exact circumstances in that country!

  126. idlex said:

    And there was I, absolutely convinced that you were going to say: “Global Warming”…

    You’ve seen through me, idlex, of course climate change is in there, but as one of a comjplex of problems.

  127. Cherie said:

    Well, that’s a lie !

    Hush, or people may start looking into your murky ancestral past, Cherie, and find out that it was your ancestor who assassinated President Lincoln.

  128. This Presidents thing is coming up .Any suggestions as to what to say . I was thinking of asking him to have a look in ? He probably won`t speak to me anyway but still

  129. So Flo’, I no longer believe the eco-fundies and their predictions of imminent planetary mega-doom. Their science is a new science, and they still can’t predict the weather beyond the next 3 days.

    I don’t call that science. I call it religion.

    And I thought Boris was looking a bit fat tonight, as TV cameras swarmed over him today, making a mountain out of a mole.

    And in need of robust exercise. Perhaps Eliza can help out here…

  130. Foodie fascism, booster seats, sharia law in town halls… is Boris now the ONLY politician prepared to say what a great many people are thinking but are too frightened to utter?

  131. FLO going back to this Enviroment thing I had this to say . You seem to be the expert on when the world is going to end . Is this a fair point .

    I doubt there are many people who deny that climate change is a real phenomenon although for funding and psychological reasons I suspect the apocalyptic end of it is a bit over cooked .
    That is not the same thing as denying that David Cameron has any sincerity on the issue because as Bozzer said UK action is like farting in a hurricane and cannot be taken seriously
    What are the real problems with climate change
    1 Exponential Growth in developing and Asian countries. Do we pull up the ladder?
    2 US political intransigence on Petrol prices
    3 Politically un taxable air travel ( Do we say only the rich can travel again as it was until fairly recently )
    4 Heavy Industry located in Asia and old Warsaw pact areas either locally owned or located there for cheap labour and to avoid environmental laws ( not to say employment laws)

    Solving such problems needs global action which is itself a problem as there is no global government and god forbid there should be. It is intimately bound up with wealth creation in the developing world but also growth addiction everywhere. There is not easy answer and real sacrifices will be needed. The implication that by recycling a bit and insulating your loft you change a thing is harmless but partly misleading . We can`t have it all and this front must be opened up for debate. At the moment its all about feeling good about ourselves which won’t do although technology and practice obviously have a place that will develop eventually.

    Would you admit that the real nature of the global problem is misrepresented by those with an interest in feel good waffle .? And don`t say stop being nasty to DC please Ilove the man I am allowed to question him .

  132. Can someone settle an argument: is this the same Boris Johnson who discussed beating up a journalist with a fellow public schoolboy a few years ago?

  133. Can someone settle an argument: is this the same Boris Johnson who discussed beating up a journalist with a fellow public schoolboy a few years ago?

  134. Can someone settle an argument: It geekpie the same twerp who pops up every few months asking the same pointless question?

  135. ‘No they just like to pretend [foreign policy] has [something to do with Islington Council] in the press. Its a sort of insane ego trip . Good question . Ask Ken Livingstone while your at it’ (Newmania)

    If I’m down the pub in London and some lefty starts boring me going on about ‘the poor Palestinian people’ and the ‘horrible Israelis’ or ‘collective punishment’ I always say the same thing to shut them up.

    When they start going on about the Palestinians say ‘You mean the Palestinian Nationalists?’ When they look confused but in again and say ‘the Palestinian Nationalists, as in the ones that supported Hitler in the war?’

    That usually shuts them up. If they keep boring you about it just tell them you believe God is punishing them or something. They’ll probably leave you alone after that.

  136. Insomniac

    `If torture can be justified purely by results, so can terrorism`
    Terrorism like the French resistance say . Both these things are true but in reality I agree that decisions are not in the rareified plane of the theoretical.

    Just because I can invent a context in which torture might be moral ( and I can). That does not mean it should be legal and having listened to what everyone has said i am rather coming to the view it shoudlnot be after all .

  137. STEVEN L the ‘horrible Israelis’ or ‘collective punishment’

    Very good . You would like the letter I have in at the moment (sent in from a black Christian Female member … oh yes we’re devious)

    Contrasting the bleating on about a Lebanon ( 1800 dead) as compared to the utter lack of interest in the 400,000 ( as per NGOs) black Africans slaughtered raped and god knows what else in Darfur . That’s about a Lebanon every 10 days and no sign of the UN although it is formally agreed. Khartoum still has eyes on the South obviously which has only just escaped sharia law

    This is not natural disaster it is the ethnic cleansing policy of the Islamic Arab Khartoum Government and just for once even a small voice might help the international pressure but not a bloody word form Emily Thornberry ( Lab MP) James Kempton ( Coucil Leader ) who had pages and pages of hand wringing about the nasty Jews.

    Israel withdrew the other day thank god but these fatuous poseurs will not care a jot they were advertising their political position and tender conscience. I do not claim to lose sleep worrying about Africa but if there was something one could realistically do to get the UN in there I would do it. Write to MP ( done) write to paper(done ) . what can you do ? It is heart breaking .

  138. Newmania,

    I don’t understand for the life of me why our left wingers want to make allegience with Arab Nationalist movements such as the PLO and Hizbullah.

    You would think that the ideology of Hezbollah, and the various Palestinian Nationaist groups (anti-semite, pro invasion and destruction of another soveriegn state etc.) sits on the opposite end of the political spectrum of our so-called socialists.

    I also fail to see what interest British-Bangladeshi and British-Pakistani Muslims have in supporting Pan-Arab National-Socialism. You would think there are more important political, social and geographical problems in the Indian Subcontinent that they would care about, especially in Bangladesh.

    Fools like George Galloway and Ken Livingston who prey on impressionable young Muslims for votes are making a very grave error if you ask me.

    Most of these young Muslim kids are probably not old or wise enough to clearly understand the difference between the extremist Takfiri movement, Arab National Socialism, normal opposition within Britain to NATO foreign policy and trotskism.

    Men like Galloway and Livingstone who seek to confuse these kids further in the aim of winning their votes and holding office are playing a dangerous game if you ask me, blurring the boundries between three different extremist movements and mainstream political objection.

  139. Styeven L- I couldn`t agree more but we are well into don`t get me started territory here and out of consideration for others I `ll leave it at that

  140. BORIS , YOUR A RIGHT PILLOCK, MIND YOU,YOUR ARE A COMPLEATE COMEDIANE AND REMIND ME OF MAGIE THATCHER AND HER POLICYS. MAD!!!! I MEAN NO DISRESPECT, BUT REALLY, YOU ARE A PILLICK IN EVERY SORT OF WAY.NO ONE CAN BEAT YOU OTHER THEN A RIGHT ROYAL CLOWN, BUT KEEP ON MAGINGING THESE GAFS, WE NEED A GOOD LAUGH!!!IN THESE BORING TIMES. WELL DONE!!!

  141. K

    Jack Target-As for the rewriting of the human rights act, I agree with Cameron and this is one policy which holds particular appeal for me.

    Wasn`t this primarily to get us out of the EU human rights legislation like Germany who have one and are able to exempt themselves on this basis

  142. Boris Johnson is NOT fat. (Jaq)

    Yes he is! I’ve just seen him say so himself in a clip shown on This Week. He also said he weighed 17 stones.

    But perhaps this should be regarded as Boris’ own personal and highly principled counterthrust to the PC War on Obesity. He might even attain the epic heavyweight proportions of a Nigel Lawson, and become Chancellor of the Exchequer purely by virtue of his stupendous weight.

    If so, I hope he doesn’t follow Lawson, and then write a book on slimming.

    The really subversive, non-PC thing to do would be take up smoking.

    Cigars of Churchillian dimensions.

    In public.

  143. “Just because I can invent a context in which torture might be moral ( and I can). That does not mean it should be legal and having listened to what everyone has said i am rather coming to the view it should not be after all.”

    Yeah, I agree. Any debate should be about what constitutes torture and not whether or not torture should be legal. In some hysterical quarters not having a sufficiently soft prison matress might be described as torture.
    At the other extreme, some commentators do not regard “waterboarding” as torture though it surely is.

    Steven L- “Pan-Arab-National- Socialism” seems a bit old hat.Maybe you mean the PSS/ SSNP?

    The Palestinian Nationalists did nt all support Hitler. The Communists amongst them at the time supported the partition, I believe.

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