Archive for August 2nd, 2006


I saw Tony Blair speak once, in Armagh, 8 or 9 years back. He spoke off the cuff, and he struck me as a lot more assured in his delivery than the person he had chosen as his alter ego back then, and with whom he shared the podium: Bill Clinton. The whole afternoon was a heavily choreographed piece of sentimental exaltation, designed to generate popular enthusiasm for the Good Friday Agreement, and it was hard to escape the conclusion that it was also a welcome photo-opportunity for Clinton, whose liaisons with Monica Lewinsky had recently become the subject of intense scrutiny.

Even though Clinton was supposed to be the focal point for the crowd’s adulation, it was Blair who seemed the more pumped up with the applause he received from the crowd. Needless to say, I can’t remember a thing either man said, apart from Clinton expressing admiration for the appearance of a young woman who was sharing the stage with him, which brought a few ironic cheers and whistles from the crowd. But Blair’s speech was the more pumped: he took a scattergun approach to glittering generalities, perhaps in the hope that one might become lodged in the minds of the assembled press corps.

If the text of his latest speech is anything to go by, little has changed in his approach. In short, he’s full of shit, and he tailors it to appeal to his audience. I’m not going to bore people more than is necessary by going through the whole thing, but I thought I’d pick out some choice ‘highlights’:

we must commit ourselves to a complete renaissance of our strategy to
defeat those that threaten us.

Renaissance is a French word for rebirth. But it also refers to a specific period in European history, which inspired the Da Vinci code. ‘Those that threaten us’ is another word for ‘the evil ones’. Note that ‘us’ does not include, or at least one does not imagine that it includes, the populations of, for instance Lebanon or Gaza. Let us ignore the question as to how the strategy became unborn in the first place.

There is an arc of extremism now stretching across the Middle East and
touching, with increasing definition, countries far outside that

These days, when I think of an arc, I picture a crescent in my mind. But that’s just me, because I’m afeared of the Eurabian hordes who will soon be trampling the Dhimmified pantywaists and mutilating our genitals. But returning to the world of reason and science, an arc has distinct properties. Think one half of the McDonalds sign: that’s an arc. But Blair’s arc is a special arc: one of extremism.


I have just spent the last 5 minutes thinking about what an arc of extremism might be, and how it might gain ‘increasing definition’ and, you know, I almost grasped it there, just for an instant I was able to visualise it, but – gah- ’tis gone. Still, it must be defeated. Blair knows how:

To defeat it will need an alliance of moderation, that paints a
different future in which Muslim, Jew and Christian; Arab and Western; wealthy
and developing nations can make progress in peace and harmony with each

An alliance of moderation, begob. Not just any alliance, but one that paints, as you might expect from an alliance involved in a renaissance. Note, though, that in Blair’s fresco of peace and harmony, one cannot be Arab and Western: it’s not allowed. If you’re an Arab living in France, Britain or America, to say nothing of Arabs actually living in Arab countries, you can support Chelsea, drink Coke, wear a suit and tie, speak English, speak French, drive a Ford Fiesta, but being Western is beyond you.

(I see he pandered to his audience with a passing reference to the ‘furious Arab street’. One always feels inclined to think from such language that the only place an Arab can think is in the street.)

unless we [….] bend every sinew of our will to making peace between
Israel and Palestine, we will not win.

Does your will have sinews? Mine, as far as I am aware, does not. At least, not a sufficient quantity to continue trawling through this guff. Let’s just say that I have fallen prey to the sinuous vigour of the expression of his moderate will:

“a battle we must win”
‘an elemental struggle”
“we are fighting a war”
“What we have done [….] is far more momentous than
possibly we appreciated at the time”

“it is a global fight about global values”
“Our values are worth struggling for. They represent humanity’s
progress throughout the ages and at each point we have had to fight for them and
defend them. As a new age beckons, it is time to fight for them

But this struggle requires sacrifice. One such sacrifice, it appears, is an awareness of what goes on in the wider world. I’m guessing the man was too preoccupied by the global struggle for our values that:

“(we) had never heard of the Taleban”.

And, apparently Hizbollah killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two more thus:

“suddenly, without warning.”

OK, it was sudden, and it was without warning, but it wasn’t exactly unexpected:

Ok, how long has it been since the last prisoner exchange? It has been two years. Some prisoners remained in (Israeli) prisons. That fisherman, Faran – who is concerned with his fate? Who will get him back? For two year we’ve been negotiating the second phase of the exchange – but to no avail.

Who in the world takes an interest in our prisoners? There are no results. Our experience with the Israelis has shown that if you want to get prisoners back, and to find out what has happened to the MIA’s – you have to capture Israeli soldiers. Am I right or not?

What I say today is that this is not a disgrace, nor is it a crime, or an act of terrorism. It is our right and our duty, and we may carry this out some day. We may carry it out some day, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Apart from Tony Blair, perhaps, who rarely makes a speech without expressing surprise about some thing or other:

it is almost incredible to me
I am amazed

The man is a complete bell-end.

Slim Pickings

I started going off on one during the adverts on TV last night about how these body-centric C4 programmes, like the one about looking good naked, encourage you to enjoy the polymorphous diversity of your body shapes, but in the end they’re bogus, because their reference point is still the idea that being slim and toned is How You Really Ought To Be, and my wife said, shut up, it’s only a TV programme, don’t take it so seriously.


I don’t like the term MOPE, or Most Oppressed People Ever. But a historic opportunity has arisen to settle the question of who are the Most Oppressed People Ever, at least in Ireland. To give things a sense of proportion, I have decided that you need at least 100,000 people to enter. So if Poles ever decided that they wanted to contest the title, they could easily see off pretenders from both Protestants and Catholics and rightly claim the title as their own.


For those of you who are still wondering if Northern Ireland might ever serve a purpose, fear not: UUP MEP Jim Nicholson is using the insight he acquired to save the Middle East:

“My experience of dealing with the scourge of terrorism in Northern Ireland
helps to shape my feelings on this issue.

“(It) helps me to understand why it is so important that Hezbollah, as
the root cause of the problem, must be removed and the Lebanese government
helped to complete their journey towards democracy.”

Attaboy, Jim.


Daring night-time raid extends conflict deeper into Lebanon: The Times
19 killed as Israel raids hospital: The Guardian



What is obvious to everyone covering this conflict is that children are bearing the brunt of it.

Religious Extremism:

The operation is codenamed “Samson’s Pillars,” a collective punishment of the 1.4 million Gazans, subjecting them to a Lebanese-style offensive that has targeted the civilian infrastructure by destroying water mains, the main power station, and bridges.

Asymmetric Warfare:

Power stations, bridges, key manufacturing and food factories in Lebanon are ruined, the entire industrial estate of Gaza pulverised. The ancient city centre of Nablus has been demolished. Whole villages in south Lebanon and sections of refugee camps in Gaza have been obliterated.

Existential Threat:

The United States secretary of state sees Israel as the vulnerable party, which is ironic taking into account that the Israelis and the Americans insanely saw this operation as one which would end Israeli vulnerability once and for all.


Despite escalating violence in southern Lebanon, EU foreign ministers rejected a draft statement that would have called for an immediate ceasefire and would have branded Israel’s bombardment as “a severe breach of international humanitarian law”. In a semantic bow to Washington and Tel Aviv, they called instead “for an immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable ceasefire”.

I on Twitter

August 2006