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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 ..
They’re happy in every country that is not Muslim.
And who do they blame?
Not their leadership.
THEY BLAME THE COUNTRIES THEY ARE HAPPY IN!
Everyone seems to be wondering why Muslims are so quick to commit
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!