Thursday, 31 March 2011

Libya: The Master Plan

Gaddafi can’t win, because allied airpower keeps his forces bottled up. The rebels can’t win because they’re without leadership, have no communications and are militarily incompetent. The situation in Libya is stalemate, which is in no-one's interest. To help the rebels it's been suggested the allies provide them with arms.

"Right lads, here's some guns. Now, we don't want a repeat of the Afghan fuck-up, lots of Yank-armed Fedayeen potting at Ivan until they turned into the Taliban. So before we dole out this stuff, it's for defensive purposes only, promise? Otherwise we're in the shit. And when matey's gone, we'll be back to collect it all up and take it away. Now, just sign here, here, and here."

Another brilliant masterplan. As an exit strategy from Libya becomes daily more elusive, I shake my head at Cameron's utter stupidity in embroiling Britain. Do we learn nothing, not a single miserable crumb from the past?

I also see the UN has appointed as its overall commander of allied military operations, US Admiral Samuel Locklear. Bewildering when many believe Libya consists almost entirely of desert.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Down With This Sort Of Thing!

After the inevitable violence during London's anti-cuts protest on Saturday, some left-wingers are drawing comparisons between recent events witnessed by Cairo and the ructions in the British capital. You can walk through these people's deepest thinking without getting your feet wet. Egyptians fought a vicious, violent revolution for the most basic of human rights, long withheld by a deeply oppressive regime. They weren't patsying around over a few changes to pension plans.

During the protest, £15,000-worth of damage was caused at Fortnum and Masons. A loose body of people named UK Uncut coyly admitted responsibility; what did you do dears, knock over a jar of olives? If you're serious about being freedom fighters, you'll find plenty of olives in the Middle East.

The rampaging, fire-lit mob was televised world-wide, hardly a glowing advert for London just prior to the 2012 Olympics. Camera-wielding do-gooders constantly monitored the police, preventing them from performing their duty of protecting private property. Next time perhaps the boys in blue will stand back, let the rioters go completely bonkers and then ride the wave of backlash.

According to Boris Johnson, by the by, Miliband Minor would approve of such a laissez-faire policing strategy. BoJo wrote in the Telegraph: "The sad thing is that in spite of their crocodile tears, Balls and Miliband will feel quietly satisfied by the disorder - a token, they will tell themselves, of the public feeling that is to there to exploit." Though he's right, of course, Labour's now assumed a stance of unctuous outrage at this accusation of civic irresponsibility.

Meanwhile, though he didn't join the march Glenn addressed the protesters. But the funny little fellow attracted criticism for his wild rhetoric in claiming the crowd had marched "in the tradition of the suffragettes, the US civil rights movement and the anti-apartheid movement." Miliband's idea of capitalising, perhaps.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Gaddafi: What Comes Next?

On 21 December 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland; 270 people were murdered. The perpetrator, delusional lunatic and failed botox experiment Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Today in Benghazi, over 300 are dead. Gaddafi again, this time killing his own people. The molten-faced autocrat claims opponents to his rule are terrorists. He should know; he's funded and trained more 'freedom fighters' than most.
The Colonel would be unlikely to get a great hearing at The Hague.

To help the UN oust him from power, Britain's entered yet another military campaign. We've been using our few remaining warplanes to snuff Libya's so-called air defence system, and letting off Cruise missiles at £900,000 a pop. Apart from the French, as ever we're bereft of support from our European Union allies. Curious too that after Lockerbie Britain did nothing but when Gaddafi turns on his own people, we show an interest.

But what will happen when finally he falls? We don't know much about Libya's insurgents, the enemies of our enemy. Waving AK-47s, global weapon of choice for irregular forces, they go under the title 'National Libyan Council'. Though they don't have a mandate to govern and can hardly be thought of as 'national', their legitimacy on Libya's stage has been recognised by France. But beyond the short-term, if they take power they may not prove our friends any more than Gaddafi.

On top of that, potential fallout from the intervention is grave. Outside support for Libya's rebels will encourage protesters elsewhere to take a more vocal and aggressive line against oppressive regimes. Already Yemen's on the edge, tanks parked around the presidential palace to deter pro-democracy demonstrators. The UN may have a busy time ahead - or is it going to cherry-pick the countries it attempts to put in order?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

St Patrick's Day: Forty Shades of Piss-Up

St Patrick's Day is with us again; the world celebrates Irishness.

Sales of Guinness skyrocket; Plastic-Paddy pubs hand out shamrocked tat to anyone who drinks twenty pints of the old craic-juice. In bars everywhere, cardboard cut-out leprechauns with articulating limbs are hung around as folksy decorations, and bent by punters into hilarious attitudes. The humble spud, its price hiked, acquires a Today's Special cult status; the eyes have it.

Into this spume-filled cauldron of culture, fighting, religeous fervour and drunkenness, we introduce another dimension. Music to make your dog howl.

I love Irish traditional music. I've played it for years, and enjoy the company of those who play it. I've built up a collection of beautiful, exciting songs and tunes. But what I find toe-curling are the Irish standards, those terrible songs which every Paddy's Night get thrashed to death. 'Irish Rover'. 'Wild Rover'. 'Gypsy Rover'. And the all-time worst: 'Leaving of Liverpool'.

Why do I hate them so?
Because they appear on CDs such as 'The Essential Foster and Allen'. Because I've been driven quite mad by hearing them sung, or dribbled, year after year, by pissed people in bars who want to be everyone's friend.

So this year, let's search our hearts and learn some new songs to bawl out.
Come round to my place, I've got the really good stuff.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pancake Day

I don't know if anyone realises, but today is Pancake Day. Shrove Tuesday.

Why isn't Pancake Day advertised on the telly anymore? For at least a week before the date we used to get adverts saying 'dont forget Jif Lemon Day'. But this year, if I hadn't looked in my diary, I wouldn't have known the great celebration was upon us.

In olden times, as Christians were about to enter into the mad self-denial of Lent they'd enjoy one last feast. Eggs, cream, sugar, butter, all slapped together in a calorie-busting, gluttonous mountain. By the time they'd recovered it was Ash Wednesday; forty days of fasting on dust and gravel until the joy of easter eggs.

Over the years, in the United States Pancake Day has evolved into Fat Tuesday. But in America, Fat Tuesday is followed by Even Fatter Wednesday, Obese Thursday and Lard-Arse Friday.

When I was young, growing up in Merrie England, the BBC's Blue Peter always made a big thing about Shrove Tuesday. I don't know if they still do; I haven't been able to watch it since vandals destroyed the Blue Peter garden and disturbed poor Petra's ashes.