Archive for February, 2010

Unintended Consequences

Ackerman: Goldstone Standard Could be Trouble for U.S. | The New York Observer

“I would contend that on any given month during the war in Iraq and the war in Afgahnistan and Pakistan, in one month probably more innocent civilians are killed by American troops – unintended consequences – than in the whole Gaza incursion.

“And if the international community thinks that they can condemn Israel and accuse it of war crimes, based on the Goldstone Report, which is intended to delegitimize the very existence of the state of Israel, than it’s not just Israeli soldiers and Israeli officials, but the very president of the United States or any American soldier, if they decide to apply those same standards to us or anybody else, that’s in danger of being arrested, locked up, and put on trial in the Hague, for the same thing Israel is being accused of right now.”

Whether Ackerman’s contention is true I have no idea, and no doubt his own definition of what constitutes an innocent civilian informs this contention. However, many civilians are being killed by NATO and US forces, and it would be an excellent thing indeed if the Goldstone Report were put to the use he foresees, however unlikely.

As for the ‘unintended consequences’: if you launch a missile into a civilian population, it will probably kill civilians as a consequence. To say that civilian death is an unintended consequence in these circumstances is like saying that getting drunk was an unintended consequence of necking a bottle of whiskey in one, because you only wanted to savour the taste and had no plans to get drunk.


Just A Few Nukes Lying About The Place

Clinton warns of new nuclear arms race – The Irish Times – Tue, Feb 16, 2010

“If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, that hope disappears,” she said, “because then other countries which feel threatened by Iran will say to themselves, ‘If Iran has a nuclear weapon, I better get one, too, in order to protect my people.’

“Then you have a nuclear arms race in the region,” she said.

A graduate of the college, Dalai M. Khayat, said in an interview after Clinton departed she was pleased that Clinton had come, but saw some of her responses to audience members as “not that fulfilling.”

Khayat said she was a bit disappointed that Clinton had not responded fully to a student who had asked why Israel should not be forced to give up its nuclear weapons, given U.S. opposition to a nuclear Iran. Israel has not formally declared itself a nuclear power but is widely believed to have a relatively small arsenal of weapons.

Clinton had said the US wants to see the entire Middle East free of nuclear weapons, but she did not mention Israel.

A relatively small arsenal…of nukes? Well that’s ok then. And it’s not as if Israel has ever attacked another country, so there’s no reason for anyone else to get one on account of that.

Petty Considerations

Sadly, most proposals for rescuing Ireland’s economy north and south are all too orthodox and in thrall to recent fads. Perhaps the work of one of the founding figures of economics can serve as spur to a more vigorous slaying of sacred cows.

I refer to William Petty’s Treatise of Ireland, from 1687, which proposed ‘a Perpetual Settlement of Ireland, with a Natural Improvement and Union of England and Ireland’. This would be done by ‘Transplanting a Million of People (without Distinction of Parties) out of Ireland into England : Leaving in Ireland onely enough Hands to manage as many Cattle as that Countrey will feed’

Petty’s prose deploys a cool rationality and impartiality sadly lacking from today’s interested bunfights. And he was prepared for all comers, anticipating and dismissing their objections with a steely logic.

Petty, A Treatise of Ireland, 1687. (2)

The fourth Objection, that this Transplantation and Change of Trade amounts to an Abolishment of the Irish Nation: Which will be Odious to them, and not compensable by all the Benefits abovementioned.


1. That this Proposal was intended for an Union of the two Nations, which is a real Blessing to both, according to that of Faciam eos in Gentem Unam : Whereas the Curse of a Civil Warr is, to divide one intire Nation into two Nations: As the Irish Commotions Anno 1641 actually did. Now if the two Nations be brought into one, the Name of the lesser Nation must needs be abolished, whilst the Thing and Substance is exalted. For

1. In this Case the Irish Names of Lands and Men are lay’d down, and English taken up in their Rooms.
2. The Cabineers of Ireland, which are Ten to One of all the others, will be removed out of their wretched Beastlike habitations; unfit for making Merchantable Butter and Cheese, and the Manufacture of Wool and Linnen out of the best Materials.
3. They will be set upon more pleasant and profitable Imployments in England.
4. They will be entertained there with greater Variety of agreeable Objects and Exercises.
5. They will be nearer the King, who hath a Kindness for them, with full Liberty of Conscience.
6. They will be safe from any Re-Conquest, which may be fatal to them.
7. They will be ingrafted and incorporated into a Nation more Rich, Populous, Splendid, and Renowned than themselves, for Letters, Arms, and other Atchievements.
8. This Transplantation will make the People of Ireland to be a real Addition (whereas they had been hitherto a Diminution and Counterpoize) to the Power of England, and for above 500 Years a vast Expence of it’s Blood and Treasure.

If the ESRI came up with something even one-tenth as sensible as this, they’d have to run into the bathroom and kill themselves.

As Peter Sutherland noted recently, “We have limited talent in this country and we have to apply it.” This enjoins us to learn from the likes of William Petty, who strove to improve the lot of the Irish people.

His was no dreary specialism. He was, as Michael Perelman notes, ‘one of the dozen founders of the Royal Society, as well as a naval engineer, professor of music, scientist, inventor, assistant to Thomas Hobbes, cartographer, pioneer in public health and demography member of Parliament, leader in the conquest of Ireland, an adviser to the King, and a notorious land pirate who accumulated hundreds of thousands of acres of confiscated Irish land’, though I suggest we ignore the last bit, since making tidy sums out from land acquisition and associated activities has never been a block to devising economic solutions to Ireland’s problems.

Also, he was the only economist to resurrect someone from the dead. Peter Bacon, on the other hand, who devised NAMA, claims to be ‘an economist not a moralist‘.

The Plague

Nato rockets kill 12 Afghan civilians | World news |

Two Nato rockets aimed at Taliban insurgents in Helmand missed their target today, killing 12 civilians sheltering in their home and dealing a sharp blow to hopes that civilian casualties would be avoided in the largest western-led operation of the nine-year Afghan war.

The incident occurred in Nad Ali, an insurgent-infested area where British troops are operating. A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said the rockets, which were fired by a sophisticated missile system, were a “US responsibility”.

See the way the report justifies the firing of the rockets and empathises with NATO by referring to the area as ‘insurgent-infested’? The Afghan insurgents are infesting the area, whereas British troops are merely operating there. The connoted contrast is between the plague and the pest controller.

The Plot Thickens, Very Gradually

Déirdre de Búrca’s resignation has uncovered some startling revelations.

Small party with lots of idealism but no experience – The Irish Times – Sat, Feb 13, 2010

Why don’t you come out and expose John Gormley’s ‘education’ at Frieberg University which is well known for producing hard line Communists?

How about simply coming clean to the electorate full stop on the fact that the Green Party, far from being an environmentalist organisation, is in fact a Communist/Fascist/Socialist cabal which is subverting democracy acrosss the world led by it’s Fabian Society cohorts in Britain, namey Blair, Brown, Milliband etc etc who are all members of the Fabian Society.

For those who don’t know what the Fabians stand for, it’s incremental implementation of Communism as opposed to the revolutionary Communism of Stalin except that the results will be exactly the same, gulags and all.

This is all disturbing news to me. As if we didn’t have enough to contend with in the Jews and the Freemasons, the Fabians turn out to be the most dangerous of the lot.

The Fabians are clearly playing the long game. I will be keeping an eye on them from now on.

As the writer implies, de Búrca is in on it too. So her resignation is clearly some sort of false flag operation to give the appearance of intra-party squabbles when behind it all they’re laughing at us all as we slouch our way toward the GM-free gulag.

No doubt Fabolous is part of the whole thing too.

Hooray For Our Side

EU portfolio a ‘coup’ for Ireland – The Irish Times – Fri, Feb 12, 2010

THE APPOINTMENT of Máire Geoghegan-Quinn as the EU’s Commissioner for Research and Innovation represents a tremendous opportunity for Ireland to enhance its reputation in this area and should be viewed as a major coup for the State, according to Martin Schuurmans, chairman of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

“Any country should be delighted to receive this portfolio and it should not be viewed as a public relations role. There’s a huge function there in putting innovation at the very heart of the commission agenda and making sure that we capitalise on innovation policy with very tangible results,” Schuurmans told The Irish Times on a recent visit to Ireland.

I remember Micheál Martin on a TV programme after the first Lisbon vote expressing a little exasperation at the idea that it mattered to have an Irish Commissioner, since the EU Commission was nothing more than the EU’s civil service, and that having Our Man or Woman in Brussels would not make a whit of difference. He was telling the truth.

Then, with the second Lisbon referendum, after analysing the reasons proferred by sampled groups, it made sense for the Yes side to present the retention of the Irish commissioner as a key concession from Brussels. Because having an Irish commissioner really mattered, as the Geary Institute study had found.

The explanation of the findings regarding the rotating commissionership and majority voting being seen to be in the Treaty is that many people who correctly perceived the changes to the commissionership and to voting in the Council as being provided for in the treaty still voted YES – on the grounds that the losses involved were outweighed by the gains that would flow from ratification. Other people, with exactly the same perception that these two aspects were in the treaty, voted NO. Accordingly, it is entirely predictable that there would be no relationship between perceiving these matters to be in the treaty and whether one voted YES or NO. The impact of the perceived importance of retaining the full commissionership is an entirely different matter. Eighty per cent of Irish people believe that the commissionership is an important issue for Ireland within the EU; 65 per cent said it was an important issue in making up their minds how to vote and 17 per cent put it at the very top of their agenda of issues of importance to Ireland in the EU.

So whilst in terms of power and control over institutions on the part of the Irish population it meant bugger all, it was still a hugely important factor in how people in Ireland (mis)perceived the EU. And that meant that retaining the commissionership became an important lever for convincing people that second time around they had no good reason to vote No.

But the fact that so many people perceived the commissionership as important in the first instance demonstrates how little knowledge Irish people have about how EU institutions work. Someone like John Banville might put this down to an incorrigible Euroignorance on the part of the swinish multitude, preferring, as he does, to follow people who have complicated ideas.

So where did people get the idea that loss of a commissioner was such a calamity? Lots of different places, I suppose, not least the fact that it was brandished as a prime reason to vote No by certain groups, and that it was one of the few changes in the Lisbon Treaty that could be outlined in bullet-point format. But beyond that, my reckoning it isn’t so much that people had been watching closely whatever the EU commissioner of the day, Charlie McCreevy or Peter Sutherland or whoever, had been getting up to, and decided that yes, they were doing important work on behalf of Ireland. No: the fixation on the commissioner probably stemmed from the fact that historically it was one of the few consistent reference points for Irish participation in the EU, maybe as a sort of projection of the image of the local TD in the Irish Republic onto the mostly blank canvas of the EEC/EC/EU: the person who’d make sure you would be looked after in whatever was going down. All in all, a thoroughly rotten way of imagining what the EU is about, but not one of any concern to EU policy elites.

When it comes to the second referendum campaign, Martin’s sensible position is nowhere to be found, and the retention of the commissioner is touted in pro-Lisbon propaganda as a central plank of why you should vote Yes, as a component of an improved democratic structure introduced by the Irish people.

The Lisbon Treaty: Power to the People « Generation YES

The reforms articulated by the Lisbon Treaty strengthen democracy at both the Irish and European level. They provide for the retention of an Irish commissioner, a more democratic, effective and cohesive Union legislative process, more power for our Irish MEPs and greater input into EU lawmaking at the national level.

Lisbon means we keep our commissioner. Many Irish people were rightly concerned about the loss of Ireland’s commissioner at the time of the last referendum. For a small country like Ireland, this was a big concession. This time around, the guarantees won by the Irish government mean that we must vote Yes to keep our commissioner. If we vote No we will lose this right…..

Our government fought for and achieved this unanimous agreement. This means that unless we pass Lisbon, we lose our right to a commissioner. Former Irish commissioners like Peter Sutherland and Patrick Hillery have served Ireland well in the past. Passing Lisbon will keep our place at the table.

Not much to be gained complaining about the cynicism on display here and elsewhere on this score, even if this is a pretty instructive example of how to put lipstick on a pig. What I think it illustrates fairly well though is how when it comes to the EU, elites successfully manipulate public ignorance for their own ends with consummate ease. This flows from the existing structure of the EU, which is not intended to be the product of ‘power to the people’, as The Age of Consent claims, but, as Perry Anderson puts it here, and in his new book The New Old World:

LRB · Perry Anderson · Depicting Europe

Federalism stymied, inter-governmentalism corroded, what had emerged was neither the rudiments of a European democracy controlled by its citizens, nor the formation of a European directory guided by its powers, but a vast zone of increasingly unbound market exchange, much closer to a European ‘catallaxy’ as Hayek had conceived it.

What is interesting for me, and you may disagree, is how elite manipulation of opinion by a gombeen bourgeoisie (Anderson’s term) is not so much on account of an aspiration to a cosmopolitan ideal, but of the continuation of success stories of the nation state within the European context. So it is entirely in keeping with this that a prominent member of the European policy elite can say that a commissionership is ‘a major coup for the State’, even though the commissionership has nothing all to do with democratic power, and the Irish Times reproduces these remarks as though they were of compelling public interest: when Irish sections of the EU policy elite score a PR coup in Brussels, that’s something everyone is supposed to rejoice in. Pride in the shirt and all that.

A Little Less Conversation?

The Irish Times – Letters

Using tenuous, open-to-interpretation teachings from the Koran, the wearing of the niqab has been imposed on women. The penalty for not wearing it has often been extreme violence and cruelty. Out of empathy and support for the many victims of this violence we should not accept this practice in Ireland or any civilised country.

The Irish Council of Imams also states we should allow the wearing of the niqab on the basis of encouraging integration. However, in conversation with someone wearing the niqab it is not possible to read and interpret facial expressions and so an unequal communication takes place. What is integrationist about that? – Yours, etc,


Ridgemont Avenue,




I can only assume, given the passionate attachment to the abolition of unequal communication on the part of the writer, that this letter is a transcript of a face-to-face conversation maintained by the writer and the editor of the Irish Times.

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February 2010
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