The Crusades – 21st Century style.

 

 

Mobi-Babble

I wish I could say I was feeling better, but unfortunately that is not the case.  I certainly do not feel as dire as I did last Sunday, when I could hardly breathe and was in such pain from my throat I thought I was about to croak!

Dear Noo bought me some very powerful antibiotics to fight the upper respiratory infection and a decongestant to break up the phlegm and on Monday I felt almost cured. But since then, my illness seems to have regressed and my condition now seems to have slipped into a chronic stage. My chest is still heavily congested, which is still causing breathing problems, especially at night when I try to sleep and I  have occasional fevers. But at least that unbearable pain in my throat has subsided, so life is tolerable, if not overly merry.

 

In preparation for my round of doctors in Bangkok next week I have been finalising the disposition of my personal estate. I am pleased to report that everything is now in ‘apple pie’ order in the event that I suddenly exit this ‘mortal coil’, and both Noo and my two daughters in the UK are now well provided for.

To be honest, my plan is to live long enough to spend all my ill-gotten gains and leave as little to my offspring as possible, (they don’t actually need it as they are both doing very well, with good jobs, their own houses, cars, husbands and all that good stuff), but it remains to be seen how successful I am in this little venture.

 

The Crusades – 21st Century style.

 

Afghanistan

A few weeks ago, some American military officers at a detention centre in Parwan, Afghanistan became concerned that detainees were secretly communicating through notes scribbled in library books, possibly to plot an attack. There was a suspicion that the books were being used as a means to communicate, internal and external, and the fear was that the detainees might “organise.”

Two Afghan-American interpreters were assigned to sift through the library’s books and set aside those that had writing that might constitute a security risk. By the time the interpreters were finished, 1,652 books were stacked on the floor and tables for removal, including some Korans, many other religious or scholarly texts, and a number of secular works, including novels and poetry.

Whether the inscriptions were a security risk is a matter of debate. There were some notes on the margins of the books in which some of the detainees had written memories of their imprisonment, their name, their father’s name, location and the place where they were arrested, and in some of the books, including Korans, words were occasionally written in the margins, translations of difficult Arabic words into Pashto or Dari. They had nothing to do with terrorism or criminal activities.

An American official stated that they overly relied on linguists, (the military term for interpreters and translators), as none of the U.S. military can read any of the languages involved. But the linguists were responsible only for the sorting of the books, not for the decision to burn them.

 

Why was the fatal decision made to burn these books?

Apparently, we are told, they didn’t have the storage capacity – not even for 1,652 books.

 I think I might be able to store that number quite easily in my spare bedroom; maybe they should have given me a call.

Why was the decision to burn them made so quickly?

We are told that it was part of their procedures ‘to do that’, but there is a process in place and ‘that burning is the last thing’. They should have been retained for a while, but in this case they weren’t. No explanation is given for this apparent ‘short cut’ in established procedures.

Any comment from me would probably be superfluous, but this tragic incident, which precipitated the loss of countless lives, both American and Afghan, simply demonstrates the crass ignorance and cultural disconnection of the American military machine and the sheer hopelessness of their task and of its inevitable and utterly predictable failure.

 

There is now little doubt, as I have written on a number of occasions, that within a short period of time following the final withdrawal of NATO forces from this country, it will revert to its previous medieval state and will be once again at the dubious mercy of the murderous, ruthless, and misogynist Taliban.

Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, who spent last year in a combat deployment touring Afghanistan, writes in the February issue of the Armed Forces Journal: “What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.”

Instead, he was told that the Taliban “controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot” of coalition military bases. “I observed Afghan security forces collude with the insurgency.” He found American officers, “who had nothing but contempt for the Afghan troops in their area.”

The mutual ill will has become deadly. Two American officers were shot to death last week at the Afghan Interior Ministry, which is supposed to be one of the safest places in Kabul. But for U.S. military personnel, there are no longer any safe places.

 

Even official assessments of the war are discouraging. In a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper predicted the Afghan government will make “incremental, fragile progress” this year, while noting the persistence of “corruption as well as poor leadership and management” in the police and army.

Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess Jr., director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, told the committee that “the Afghan government will continue to struggle to fill the vacuum” left by coalition troops. The Afghan defence minister predicts “catastrophe” if the U.S. proceeds with plans to reduce the size of the Afghan force after 2014.

In the meantime, we can already see the start of the slippery slope back to total barbarism and the subjugation of women.

A government-appointed council of 150 leading Muslim clerics last week said that Afghan law should require women to wear the veil and forbid them from mixing with men in the work place or travelling without a male chaperone. “Men are fundamental and women are secondary,” the Council said in a statement on Friday.

President Hamid Karzai has signalled his support of this view by publishing the council’s statement on his web site.

And today, Wednesday, we learn of the deaths of six British soldiers in Helmut Province – the largest loss of life from a single ground incident since the start of the campaign. The British government tell us that these brave men sacrificed their lives in the interest of British national security and to protect us all from terrorism back in the UK. Can someone please explain to me how they are doing this?

The government also went on to say that soon this role will be taken over by the Afghan forces….. it has to be a joke… doesn’t it?

 

Libya

 

We now have it from reliable sources that the recent desecration of the World War II graves in Libya was a direct result of the Koran burning incident in Afghanistan.

As many of you are aware, I was a strong supporter of the recent NATO involvement in Libya, and to the extent that their intervention ensured the success of the rebels and the downfall of Gadhafi, then I can still claim that my view was probably correct.

I say ‘probably’, because I am no longer as cock sure as I was. Even during all the murderous years of the Gadhafi regime, there was never any attempt to despoil the graves of the allied war dead. Let’s face it, the country is now in a bigger mess than ever; it is in state of utter anarchy with armed gangs talking control of tribal areas and even some suburbs of Tripoli and other cities and there appears to be no prospect in sight of the central transitional government being able to disarm these dangerous factions.

 

Did you see the video footage of the cemetery desecration? This wasn’t an inflamed, crazy, mob out of control. This was a large, organised group of rebels, going about their business in a well-planned, matter of fact manner, destroying the headstones of hundreds of graves and then going to work on a massive sandstone cross, which must have taken several hours to demolish. And all this after the Brits had given them so much military support in their recent struggles with Gadhafi.

And, ‘hot off the press’ ,we hear that the armed faction which controls the oil-rich Benghazi area, has effectively declared secession from the ruling council in Tripoli.

 

Iraq

This country also appears to be in a state of total anarchy with the Sunni and Shiite factions at each other’s throats and after months of wrangling, they are still unable to form anything approaching a stable government.  Last year, 2011, over 4,000 civilians were killed in factional violence in Iraq, and this year to date, there have already been 800 deaths.

 

Syria

It gives me no pleasure to say that ‘I told you so’, but never did  I make a truer statement when I warned that Russia and China’s veto on the recent UN security Council resolution on condemning Assad’s regime’s violence in Syria was tantamount to a ‘Licence to kill’. And so it has proved to be.

When the dust has finally settled and the historians sift through the full, unspeakable horrors of the crimes that have been perpetrated on Syrian civilians in recent weeks and months, then I truly believe that these two self-serving super powers will be utterly condemned in the eyes of the world.

I have written recently that in some respects I have a sneaking regard from Putin, and while I was not in agreement with much that he has done, at least I could see where he was coming from. But on this matter, he has utterly misjudged the situation, and will be condemned for his heartless veto till his dying day.

 

Reliable reports of killing squads entering Homs and surrounding areas, rounding up all males as young as 12 and as old as 80 and summarily slitting their throats – sometimes in front of their families, is so horrific that it makes me shudder as I write. And this is to say nothing of the wives and daughters of these men who were raped repeatedly in front of them before executing them.

Did you see the news footage of families fleeing the violence to the Lebanon? Did you see any males over the age of 12 amongst their number?

 

 

The Arab Spring

Last year, along with most people in the west, I welcomed the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. At long last, so we thought, these young vibrant Arabs were throwing all caution to the wind in a brave attempt to throw off the yoke of hundreds, if not thousands of years of feudalism and despotic rule.

We all became excited and fascinated as it seemed that one state after another was overthrowing their own particular dictator.

Yet here we are, almost a year down the road, and what have the democracy seeking young Arabs got to show for it? Exactly where is the true success story? Yemen? Tunisia? Egypt? Bahrain? Syria? Algeria? Iraq? Jordan? Libya? Kuwait? Lebanon? Saudi Arabia?

Every country has its own story. In some, such as Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or Jordan, very little has changed and its business as usual for the rulers in situ. In others, such as Syria and Bahrain, civil protests have been brutally repressed and are an abhorrence to all decent minded people the world over. In still others, such as Libya and Iraq the jury is still a very long way out and the ultimate success in the fight for democratic government and equal rights is still very much open to question.

 

Even in Egypt, where we all held such high hopes, murderous factional fighting has broken out between the Muslim radicals and Coptic Christians and the armed forces seem to be extremely reluctant to relinquish the reins of power. I truly fear the eventual outcome for a country that hasn’t seen democracy for thousands of years.

So what are we to discern from all this mayhem in the Muslim world?

Well for starters, having had our western fingers burned any number of times whenever we try to interfere and instil our western ‘Christian-inspired’ principles on the devoted followers of Islam, we should understand that there is absolutely nothing we can do to hasten their paths to democracy,and human rights and get the ‘hell out of their countries and leave them all to it.

 

We are a million miles and several centuries apart and the more we try to ‘help’ the more we are hated and reviled for our efforts. We must call time and start to build ‘fortress west’ as a matter of some urgency.

I understand that this is easier said than done in this modern,’globalised’ society, where we are all inter-dependant on each other and in particular, where we rely on a number of Arab states to keep our cars running. But at least we can extract ourselves from all political and  social involvement in these states and we must become ever more aloof from the way they run their countries. We must start now to plan our strategic economic withdrawal so that we become less and less reliant on Arab oil and other Arab trade.

Certainly, the West can make  immediate withdrawals from the likes of Afghanistan and even Pakistan, as there is nothing more we can do in such places; places where we are regarded as the very devil incarnate and are their avowed enemies.

 

I actually doubt if there will be much change in the way in which most Moslem countries are governed for at least 50 – and more likely a 100 years or more. We say that some Moslem societies are still medieval in nature and structure; maybe that is an exaggeration, but certainly the evolution of society in many of these countries is at least 100 years behind the west.

Indeed, if we look back at our own history of just the last century, we will find western countries indulging in ‘acceptable practices’ which would appal us today, not least amongst them was the segregation of blacks and whites, and the lynching of Negroes, which was still rife in many parts of the USA a mere 50 years ago.

So don’t expect anything to happen any day soon. I know it is sometimes heart-breaking to watch, but in my opinion, we have little choice but to let them get on with it and find their own way. If we don’t, there soon may be no way forward for any of us.

 

Joke emails

Like most of you, I receive my daily dose of ‘joke emails’ from around the world, many of which I have seen before. Some are faintly amusing, some are offensive, a few are pornographic, and, just once in while I receive one that is genuinely funny.

The other day I received one which was both racist and offensive, but as I deleted it from my computer, I suddenly realised that racist and offensive it may be; there is a kernel of truth in what the author is trying to say. The more I thought about it, the more I concluded that at least part of this email was something worth sharing with my readers, as it is certainly quite thought provoking and it also dovetails neatly into the main subject of today’s blog.

So I recovered it from my ‘Deleted’ file and here it is, in part:

 

The Arabs are not happy!

They’re not happy in Gaza ..
They’re not happy in Egypt .
They’re not happy in Libya ..
They’re not happy in Morocco .
They’re not happy in Iran ..
They’re not happy in Iraq .
They’re not happy in Yemen ..
They’re not happy in Afghanistan .
They’re not happy in Pakistan ..
They’re not happy in Syria.

They’re not happy in Lebanon ..
So, where are they happy?

They’re happy in England ..
They’re happy in France .
They’re happy in Italy ..
They’re happy in Germany .
They’re happy in Norway ..
They’re happy in Canada & the U.S.

They’re happy in every country that is not Muslim.

And who do they blame?
Not Islam.
Not their leadership.
Not themselves.

THEY BLAME THE COUNTRIES THEY ARE HAPPY IN!

ARABS:
Everyone seems to be wondering why Muslims are so quick to commit
suicide.

Let’s have a look at the evidence:

 

….(I have censored the remainder, but I am sure you can use your imagination….)

 

 

 

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!

 

 

 

Our kids don’t read anymore!

11 Months, 7 days, still sober.

Yes, folks, I’m now well into uncharted territory and am edging ever closer to my very first alcohol-free anniversary; an anniversary that I share with no lesser personage than Jesus Christ himself – well near as makes no difference – his birth, my spiritual enlightenment….

If I was still attending AA, I would probably soon qualify for one of their special ‘gongs’, but I guess I will survive well enough without. In fact I believe I will survive a lot better without any input from my good friends at AA. I now know that for me, AA simply does not work, but that doesn’t preclude it working for other alcoholics.

I have been meaning to write about my views on this for some time.  In fact, ever since Thai Visa, in their esteemed wisdom refused to let me express my personal theories on AA in their own forum, I have had it on my agenda to write a small tract in my blog.  No doubt I will get around to it soon.

Mobi Babble

My attempts to sell my car have pretty much ground to a halt during this season of severe floods.

I did have one guy from Bangkok, who seemed seriously interested in buying it, but the floods impacted his plans and he cancelled a trip to come and see it at the last moment. A few weeks later, he re-contacted me and suggested  that if I still hadn’t sold it then maybe I would be prepared to reduce the price. He wasn’t a Thai, for if he was, he would have known that in this country, we never reduce prices, even if we can’t sell something for years – in fact in the case of property, we are more likely to put the price up that reduce it.

My main man in the used car business in Bangkok has advised me that the car market has ground to halt until the country is dry again – nobody is in the mood to buy and sell cars. This will probably be in the New Year and interestingly he has advised me that the luxury-end used  cars, like mine, which are less ‘vulnerable’ to flooding, will probably go up in price .  As I was saying…

Anyway, as time has gone on, I am not even sure if I really want to sell it any more; I am torn between keeping it and continuing to enjoy driving a beautiful machine, or selling it and having fun with something a bit different. Either way, I am not too bothered and I am certainly not so desperate that I will drastically reduce the price. I’ll just let matters take their course and see how things go.

Since my return from the UK back in September, the furthest I have ventured from Pattaya has been to Chon Buri to have my car serviced. I cancelled a trip to Hua Hin in November, partly because of the floods, and partly because I was hoping for a quick sale of my car.

But now things are getting back to normal and I have given up the idea of a quick sale, I have decided to spend a couple of nights in Bangkok, where I will see my cardiac and diabetes specialists and do a bit of shopping , after which, I will drive on up to Nong Khai with Noo for three nights.

It is almost a year since we have been up there and I know she is missing her family; it will also be a nice break for me – it’s good to get away every now and then – even at my advanced age – and ‘re-charge the batteries’, as they say.

I confess I haven’t been too well as of late and am getting quite worried about it. I cannot shake off the chest pains I get when I go for my afternoon stroll and I now find that my blood pressure is alarmingly high, despite the mountain of blood pressure reducing and heart slowing drugs that I take, so I better have my cardiologist check me over.

I haven’t seen her for more than two years so it is way overdue. I am concerned that I may need a procedure which will be very costly – money that I can ill afford, but there’s no point bumbling along blindly in the dark. I better find out the worst and then consider my options.

Will those crazy, hazy, nonsense days of EU bureaucrats ever end?

Some time ago I wrote a piece about some of the ridiculous laws and regulations that have been enacted through the years by unelected officials in Brussels.

(see: HERE )

So in these days of imminent collapse of the Euro and increasing talk about Britain taking back some of its previously surrendered sovereignty, is there a glimmer of hope on the horizon that one day soon we will finally rid ourselves once and for all from all from these ghastly, European self- seeking, power-hungry, business-stifling pencil pushers?

In the past we have suffered from EU bureaucrats dictating that only cucumbers which are ‘practically straight’, ( i.e. those which had a gradient of no more than 1 in 10), can be legally sold, and  that ‘bendy’ bananas, knobbly carrots and other misshapen fruit and vegetables are forever banned from the food shelves of Britain.

We have long since suffered from rules which prohibit fresh food products being sold in British markets by pounds and ounces, (perpetrators being subject to jail sentences), and more recently, the EU decreed that food could only be sold by weight and never by quantity; hence it was no longer legal to sell eggs or even bread rolls by the dozen or half dozen.

Then, last year, we had the most baffling edict of all – the ruling that a swede can be called a ‘turnip’, provided it is in a Cornish pasty!!!

That incomprehensible ruling must have taken some beating, but we can always rely on the twisted and perversely- cunning minds of these nameless officials to come up with something even more perplexing.

Yes, my friends, can you believe that last week the EU outdid itself and ruled that bottled water manufacturers could no longer advertise their product as helping to prevent dehydration. Why? Apparently, because of a lack of scientific evidence. The ruling is based on the premise that if, for example, a person was suffering from severe diarrhoea, then drinking water would not necessarily cure them of dehydration.

I ask you…..

Now I hold no brief for bottled water manufactures, as most, if not all of whom, make ridiculous profits on a largely superfluous product, the contents of which, can be obtained free from any water tap in most EU countries. (Not so, I hasten to add in Thailand).

But don’t you think that in these days of global financial meltdown and so many unsolvable world conflicts, that these highly paid civil servants of the EU could spend their time doing something a little more constructive than pedantically nit-pick on the earth-shattering issue of whether or not drinking water can alleviate dehydration?

The Arab Spring and Western Hypocrisy.

I have written quite a lot on this subject this over the past few months, which included supporting the NATO led action in Libya and also, in particular, trying to bring attention the brutal repression that has been going on in Bahrain.

I have also decried the equally brutal suppression that was taking place in Syria, long before the world finally accepted that it could no longer stand by and keep their mouths shut, which is what most of them would dearly like to do.

There is still very little world reaction to the unbelievable crimes that were and still are being committed in Bahrain, and now, to cap it all, the world is totally and utterly lip-tied on the repression that is currently going on in Saudi Arabia.

A recent 73 page report, published last week by Amnesty International, has accused Saudi Arabia of reacting to the Arab Spring by launching a wave of repression. In their report, the human rights group said hundreds of people had been arrested, many of them without charge or trial.

Prominent reformists had been given long sentences following trials that Amnesty described as “grossly unfair”. So far, unrest has largely been confined to the Shia minority in the east of the country.

The report comes a little more than a week after clashes in the eastern region of Qatif left four people dead. Shia Muslims in the area have complained for years of economic discrimination and religious persecution, and were angered by the harsh suppression of Shia protesters in neighbouring Bahrain earlier this year. (Saudi troops entered Bahrain to assist the authorities there, without a word of protest from anyone in the west.).

Amnesty accuses the Saudi authorities of arresting hundreds of people for demanding political and social reforms or for calling for the release of relatives detained without charge or trial. The abusive practices being employed by the Saudi Arabian government are worryingly similar to those which they have long used against people accused of terrorist offences.”

The report says that since February, when sporadic demonstrations began – in defiance of a permanent national ban on protests – the Saudi government has carried out a crackdown that has included the arrest of mainly Shia Muslims in the restive Eastern Province.

Last week 16 men, including nine prominent reformists, were given sentences ranging from five to 30 years in prison. Amnesty said they were blindfolded and handcuffed during their trial, while their lawyer was not allowed to enter the court for the first three sessions.

“Peaceful protesters and supporters of political reform in the country have been targeted for arrest in an attempt to stamp out the kinds of call for reform that have echoed across the region,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.

“While the arguments used to justify this wide-ranging crackdown may be different, the abusive practices being employed by the Saudi Arabian government are worryingly similar to those which they have long used against people accused of terrorist offences,” he said.

Amnesty says that the government continues to detain thousands of people on terrorism-related grounds. “Torture and other ill-treatment in detention are widespread”, it says; an allegation Saudi Arabia has always denied.

Amnesty says the government has drafted an anti-terror law that would effectively criminalise dissent as a “terrorist crime” and allow extended detention without charge or trial.

Questioning the integrity of the king would carry a minimum prison sentence of 10 years, according to Amnesty. The four who died in Qatif last week were killed when security forces opened fire using live ammunition, an indication that tensions in the predominantly Shia Eastern Province continue to escalate.

A Shia activist said at least one of those killed was unarmed when he was shot dead at a checkpoint for failing to stop. The others died the following day as protests erupted at his funeral, he said.

So why does the world continue to remain silent?  I don’t really have to tell you – it’s a three letter word that begins with the letter ‘O’

Our kids no longer read books

It was reported the other day that almost 4 million children in the UK do not own a single book, and to put this in perspective, that is one in three of our kids under the age of 16.

Now this isn’t because the UK is third world country and parents cannot afford to buy books for its kids. On the contrary, as the country has become richer, the number of child book owners has become fewer, down from one in ten kids only seven years ago to one in three today.

In fact, I would wager that if the UK was a third world country then then a higher percentage of our kids would probably own books. They would have far greater incentive to better themselves and get themselves out of their lives of poverty.

Personally, I cannot conceive of a childhood which didn’t include owning and reading books.

I know it’s a big jump from ‘non- book owning kids’ to the recent riots, but at the time of the riots, I was struck over and over again by the youths’ claims that they did it because they were bored. At a time of unrivalled prosperity, notwithstanding the current economic problems, when kids have so much to keep them amused, I found it absolutely astonishing that they committed these unspeakably selfish and anti-social crimes because they were bored.

So maybe the intellectual stimulation derived from watching semi pornographic pop videos, gratuitously violent films and playing even more gratuitously violent video games, isn’t sufficient to keep our kids from becoming bored out of their tiny minds?

I cannot ever recall being bored when reading books by my favourite authors.

I also wonder whether the mere act of reading books may contribute positively to the development of a child’s knowledge and understanding of the world and people around them; and would therefore hold them in good stead when faced with a choice of  either taking part in mindless looting or doing something constructive and meaningful with their lives.

I actually don’t blame the kids – and not even their parents. As a nation we seem to have lost our way in how to educate and raise our offspring. For me, it all started in the late sixties, when the ‘bleeding heart’ labour-left hijacked the once greatly admired British education system and ruined it for generations to come.

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!…

The Death of a Colonel

 


9 Months, 23 Days, Still sober

Mobi Babble

Things have been pretty quiet on the Mobi home front. Noo’s son is still with us although he did spend a couple of days with his aunt in Samut Songkran.

I was a bit naughty on just a single  occasion, when I took Bob out for a tour of some of my favourite dens of ill repute, but apart from that, life has been pretty routine and I have spent much of my time at home with my family and dogs.

Pattaya has mercifully been spared the terrible floods that are devastating Thailand, but it has been no fun to follow the ever changing fortunes of the provinces and districts, including parts of Bangkok, as one by one, they succumb to rising waters.

My heart goes out to one and all who have been adversely affected.

The death of a tyrannical murderer.

The manner of Col. Gadhafi’s death has sparked much world-wide controversy.

I spent a year in Libya back in the mid- seventies, and although I did not personally witness any overt crimes against the people, it was clear, even in my relatively rarefied existence as an expat working for an oil company, that Libya was an authoritarian police state that brooked no dissent. The population lived  in constant fear of  a knock on the door and of doing or saying  something that might be disapproved of by Gadhafi’s all encompassing, totalitarian regime.

Through the years we have all become aware of Gadhafi’s penchant to sponsor terrorism in many parts of the world, including the IRA, and even as far away as the Muslim separatists in the Philippines. Then , there was the Yvonne Fletcher murder in London, the bombing of a night club in Berlin and the Pan Am disaster over Lockerbie, amongst many other atrocities attributed to the manic colonel.

I could go on and on, but frankly, to this writer, who has always taken an interest in Libya, given that I once spent a year there, I  remained in relative ignorance on just how much a monster Gadhafi was to his own people. It took the Arab spring and the popular uprising in Benghazi for the world to learn the true extent of this barbarous dictator’s  inhumanity to his own people. Stories emerged, (which have since been borne out by facts), of mass torture and killings and rapes  in prisons, where political prisoners were kept in appalling conditions, and often suffered terrible, agonising deaths.

Once civil war broke out, Gadhafi revealed his true colours to the world at large and it wasn’t long before the international criminal court announced that he was wanted for committing crimes against humanity. There is little doubt in my mind, that once the dust has settled and the history is written of this period, that Gadhafi will turn out to be one of the cruellest monsters the modern world has ever seen, on a par with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein.

I have great admiration for all the Arab people who have risen up against their despotic rulers, from Tunisia, to Yemen, to Egypt and Syria. Countless Arabs have paid the price with their lives, and nowhere was this more so than in Libya.

A rag-taggle, motley collection of young men, from all walks of life, put their lives at risk to over-throw a tyrant who had controlled their lives for more than four decades. A bitter, bloody war ensued and Gadhafi vowed to seek out every citizen who dared to defy him and kill them like rats. He hired mercenaries from neighbouring countries and sent his forces out armed with Viagra and orders to rape the women in any families in rebel held areas or that in any way opposed him.

The untrained, rebel forces, with virtually no heavy ammunition to hand, raged a war against the trained, well equipped, disciplined army of Gadhafi. It was hopelessly one-sided, but with the help of  NATO air power, the rebels eventually prevailed after many months of bloody carnage in which so many of Libya’s bravest young men were killed.

There is hardly a family in Libya who hasn’t suffered personal losses in this bloody conflict, in which so many people have also had their homes and possessions destroyed. Whole cities have been flattened and it will take many years to rebuild this nation.

This is the background in which the brave rebels unexpectedly come across their sworn and reviled enemy at first hand.

In similar circumstances, can we put our hands on our hearts and say that we, Brits, or we Americans would have done any different to what these desperate, frightened, ordinary civilians-turned soldiers did?

Maybe and maybe not, but frankly I doubt it. I also doubt that there is a single politician throughout the western world who isn’t secretly applauding the fact that Gadhafi was summarily killed, an act which has finally brought to an end his evil regime without the need for a long, drawn out trial and a possible rallying point for future insurrections.

But the hypocrisy of the outside world is mind boggling.

The United States has led the way in ‘calling Libya to account’ for the killing of Gadhafi, demanding that the interim government provide full details of how this terrible act came about.

They said: “Libya’s post-Gadhafi leaders must furnish a detailed explanation of how he had died”.

I have heard countless hypocrites on American television pronounce that the Libyans are uncivilised and they are criminals for committing such barbarous acts.

I ask: By what right does America have to call Libya to account for anything that takes place in their country? It is their country and their interim government has been recognised by the United Nations – it is a legitimate government.

It is the Libyan government’s business and their business alone on how they deal with one of the vilest monsters in history, and quite frankly if they had hung drawn and quartered Gadhafi and dragged him from one end of Libya to the other at the back of a pick-up truck, I doubt whether it would have bothered 99.99% of the world’s population one iota.

And just what ‘account’ are they expecting? It is obvious what happened. He was either killed in cross fire, or, more likely, one of the rebels put in the fatal shot. Does it really matter? It was bound to happen; everyone knows that the chances of getting him alive to a hospital were zero – such was the height of loathing and revenge in the hearts of the fighters who had sacrificed so much and the lack of discipline amongst them to prevent such an eventuality.

So the Libyans are uncivilised are they?

During my own life-time Americans in white hoods were still summarily stringing up and murdering blacks in the southern states of America , and it wasn’t that long ago that the entire American mid -west was controlled by men with guns and where lynch mobs ruled. By what right do the Yanks, or indeed any western power, have the right to call Libyans uncivilised? Let them look at their own recent, often violent and cruel histories before casting the first stone.

And then we have these dire predictions from almost every quarter that Libya will descend into anarchy and tribalism and that Muslim fundamentalism will take hold and the whole country is headed for disaster.

Well maybe that is true, but for what its worth, as far as this humble commentator is concerned, having lived closely with the Libyan people for a while and having listened to many of them articulate their hopes and aspirations very eloquently during the course of this uprising, I actually believe that they will make a fair fist of it, and that a functioning, fledgling democracy will emerge from this tragedy.

Let us see who is correct.

America – The classless society

Well, we all know that never was a statement more untrue.

I have written about this before in my blog and have set out the case to assert that America today is an even more a class ridden society in today’s world than the UK.

In my previous piece, I quoted from a Forbes article, entitled:  ‘The American Dream  - America, The New Class-Society ‘, and I reprint this interesting piece below, for the benefit of those who missed it the first time around.

“Class in America is determined predominantly by wealth. And in an information-based capitalistic economy, wealth is largely determined by educational attainment. That is taken as a difference from European societies, where inherited privilege, and particularly noble birth, is seen as predetermining a person’s starting point in society.

That view is anachronistic. The European class system has been buffeted by centuries of social turmoil–the church lost its lands, industrial revolutions muscled in on the landed aristocracy, enfranchisement became widespread. It has adapted as best it could–in the 19th century the marriage of American heiresses to impoverished British peers became a U.S. export industry–but increasingly, class in Europe is more style than substance.

Class is changing yet again, and the new incarnation of the class-society is at its most advanced in the U.S. A good education is now the most important determinate of class, and in America, access to good schools–whether private or public -is increasingly reserved for the well-to-do.

Homes located in decent school districts are often dramatically more expensive than those near mediocre schools. And the very richest now almost exclusively opt to send their offspring to private prep schools at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars a year.

As a result, since the 1980s, the wealthy have been living increasingly segregated lives from the general population to secure those advantages. And it is paying off: The proportion of upper-middle-class students at top American universities is increasing, regardless of diversity programs.

Merit (ability plus hard work) was always meant to replace the inherited privilege of the Old World as the route to the top in America. But merit in modern America is at least partly class-based.

While a few high achievers scale the summits of wealth, the rest are finding it harder to move up from one economic class to another. One study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that fewer families moved from one quintile, or fifth, of the income ladder to another during the 1980s than during the 1970s, and that still fewer moved in the ’90s than in the ’80s.

In America, the problem is amplified by widening income inequalities. The rich are simply getting richer so much faster that social mobility can’t keep up.

The much narrower income gaps in European economies are one reason that, contrary to many Americans’ beliefs, there is more social mobility in Britain and other European countries these days than in the U.S. Take Britain, the original class-society in the minds of most Americans. The popular image of Britain remains one of a nation of landed aristocracy where class is the weft and warp of society. In fact, that started to change after World War II

Six years of the shared deprivations of war were a great social leveller. Allied to that was a strong desire to break with the past that had brought the war about. Winston Churchill’s reward for being Britain’s victorious wartime prime minister was to be thrown out of office. In the first general election after the war, Britons elected Labour’s Clement Attlee and a government that would usher in the welfare state. Americans elected Harry Truman, and moved on to their next wars, both hot and cold.

The pomp and ceremony of state occasions in Britain gives the impression of the persistence of a class-ridden society. After all, any class-run society needs history and tradition to validate itself.

Even here, appearance can be deceptive. While the Queen and Royal Family stand at the apex of a system of heredity and landed titles – every noble is a duke, marquis, earl, viscount or baron of somewhere, though most lost their right to sit in the House of Lords in 1999–it is easy to overlook that England is now on its eighth royal family since William the Conqueror arrived in 1066 to sort out some family business with his Norse cousins.

Not that class has completely disappeared in England. Close your eyes and listen to an English person speak, and you hear class regardless of the person’s ethnic background. In the U.S., by contrast, you hear education, the underpinning of the new class-society.


I was reminded of the above article when I saw a small news item the other day in which Hilary Clinton was chatting informally with President Karzai of Afghanistan, the US ambassador and other high dignitaries of the region. She was asked about one of the Republican presidential candidates – Herman Cain.

“He’s a former pizza company owner,” Clinton told Karzai of Cain.

“Is he that,” Karzai replied.

“Oh yeah, he started something called Godfather pizza,” Clinton said.

“Yes, I see, I see,” Karzai said.

Clinton then turned to U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker and mocked Cain.

“The president was saying he saw a news clip about how Mr. Cain had said, ‘I don’t even know the names of all these presidents of all these countries,’ you know, like, whatever,” she said, mimicking the candidate dismissively.

“That wasn’t right, but anyway, that’s how politics are,” Karzai said diplomatically…

Maybe we should give Madam Foreign Secretary a quick, impromptu test to see just how many Presidents’ names she can recall, without the aid of her myriad minions to feed her the information. Maybe Bill O’Reilly could invite her onto his Thursday night quiz segment.

I ask you? Just how patronising can you get?

Now I don’t know about you folks but I have never liked Princess Hilary. I have always held a soft spot for Billy, her wonderfully lecherous husband, but Hilary – well nobody deserved to be treated like she was – but let’s face it, she has always come over as a supercilious, patronising, hypocritical  lying piece of shite. (That’s it, Mobi – don’t hold back).

To me, Herman Cain and Hilary Clinton epitomise the American class system – the privileged, wealthy background of Hillary Clinton, versus the low class, poor background of dear old Herman. And just look how Hilary delights in trying to ridicule someone who dragged himself up from his boot straps to become a corporate billionaire and is currently so popular that he leads the poll of would-be American presidential candidates.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge fan of Cain’s politics – his 9-9-9 tax proposal sounds like it hasn’t been thought through properly and his stance on abortion is almost impossible to comprehend.

But wouldn’t it be just great if he were to become president and had the opportunity to put one in the eye to Princess Hilary? Maybe he should slap her down with a specially baked Pizza bearing the names of the entire world’s leaders….

On a lighter note: What is it with Obama’s modes of transport?

An egg-on-face moment for Obama, ahead of his visit to Virginia, when a Pentagon truck containing presidential seals, podiums and sound equipment was stolen from outside a suburban hotel Monday

Authorities found the truck later in the day at another hotel near the Richmond airport, according to the news reports. But no one would say whether the items inside had been located. No arrests were reported.

Whether the thieves knew what they were stealing – or whether they got that what-have-we-done-now feeling when they opened the unmarked box truck – is unclear as well.

The White House and police would not discuss details of the heist, such as whether the thieves hot-wired the truck or found the keys in the ignition. And the Secret Service said it’s not the agency’s problem. “Not our equipment, not our truck,” spokesman Ed Donovan said. “It’s not as though the nuclear codes are likely to be lost. And if they are lost, you change the codes.” 

Don’t you just love it?☺

ON a presidential trip to Ireland last May, The US Presidential Cadillac, nicknamed “The Beast” for its bombproof features, failed to make it out of the US embassy in Dublin as it became stuck on a ramp.

Barack Obama and his wife, en route to his ancestral home in County Offaly, had to abandon the car after the collision in front of waving crowds in Dublin.

Specially built for Obama, the General Motors vehicle boasts its own oxygen supply in case of chemical attack and armour-plated doors, but was no match for an Irish ‘Sleeping Policeman’….

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!