Tuesday, January 23, 2007

France, the ever dependable ally

According to Con Coughlin, Jacques Chirac has sent his foreign minister to Tehran. Has he decided to break ranks with London and Washington and seek a unilateral foreign policy over Iran's nuclear programme?

Apparently not. The real reason Chirac is making contact with Iran is to try and protect the 2,000 French troops serving with United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. Last time the French were stationed there, back in 1983, fifty-eight died after a Hizbollah suicide bomber attacked their base in Southern Beirut. Chirac is keen to avoid history repeating itself.

But exactly what does Chirac's foreign minister plan to ask of the Iranians? I can only imagine something to the effect of:
"Please don't attack us and in return we won't crack down too hard on Hizbollah"
You can always rely on the French!

Ken Livingstone's clash of civilisations

It's not enough for our Mayor to attempt to run a city, he also feels the need to run his own foreign policy department. I'm not sure how the war on terror relates to getting the trains to run on time (except that it might stop terrorists getting on our trains in the first place), but it's great publicity for Ken Livingstone which is more to the point.

I'm pleased to see that his propaganda efforts have not been quite the success he hoped for. At his highly publicised debate, A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations? his opponents Oliver Kamm and Daniel Pipes gave him a good run for his money. And apparently, they had support from about half the audience.

There is more coverage here by Adloyada.

But the best comment of the day is from Harry's Place relating to the prayer rooms provided by the conference:
Publicly funded child care was apparently available at the event, along with other necessary facilities - two gender-segregated "prayer rooms":
Male Prayer Room – Shelley Room (4th Floor)
Female Prayer Room – Wordsworth Room (4th Floor)

I'm sure that Shelley, who was famously expelled from Oxford for writing a pamplet entitled The Necessity of Atheism, would have been amused.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Nick Cohen's new book

An extract from Nick Cohen's new book has been published in this weeks Observer. Entitled "What's Left", it is a critique of the liberal-left and asks why so many of those who were in the front line in the fight against fascism and apartheid were only too happy to see Saddam Hussein stay in power, and to defend Islamists as the "underdogs". Both are right wing fascists, both have been violently opposed to democracy and human rights, but as they're enemies of the US, they must be defended at all costs.

Coming from the left himself, Nick Cohen may feel betrayed, but I'm not particularly surprised. There has been a long tradition on the left of excusing dictators and human rights abusers because it was thought that least their motives were pure. Think of Stalins purges, or of the IRA's collusion with the Nazis.

The difference now is that the left support the Islamists, who are right wing fascists through and through. Their ideology, which makes the BNP look like a bunch of cuddly teddy bears should incense the left. They hate democracy, believe in the subjugation of women, and would gladly see homosexuals thrown off the nearest tall building, but somehow the left are blind to all this, because in their view, as long your skin isn't white and as long as you are anti-American, you can't possibly be a threat.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Boy Who Fell Out of The Sky

I have just finished reading what must be one of the most moving books I have come across. David Dornstein had ambitions to be a great writer, but his life was cut tragically short by the Lockerbie bombing. The Boy Who Fell Out of The Sky is Ken Dornstein's attempt to reconstruct his brothers life in the years that followed.

This is a book that will speak to anyone who has brothers or sisters that have died at a young age. When you lose a sibling, you want to hold on to whatever you can as your memories of them fade with each passing year, but as you get older, you also learn things about your siblings that you never realised during their lifetime, and they aren't always things that are easy to accept.