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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Seems a good day for reflection..
Ten years ago.. it was a feeling of nation relief.. with the news Britain's economy grew by 0.2% in the first three months of that year.. the declaration 'the longest recession since the 1930s officially over..' John Major was the Prime Minister.. Norman Lamont his Chancellor.. now of course Norman attributed the growth to the fruition of long-term government policies.. but the Institute of Directors saw it some what differently..their latest survey at the time, said improved performance was due to Britain's departure from the European exchange-rate mechanism (ERM).. now Britain had been forced out of the ERM on what had been known as Black Wednesday.. when the Pound Sterling fell below it's minimum value for membership.. It might be well to recall this.. when the issue of joining the Euro becomes a reality.. One would think the government will be acting on this soon.. Noises are being made..
Nineteen years ago today.. there was a ray of optimism in the worldwide dismay of the spread of this new disease, AIDS.. they thought the discovery of the virus which caused the disease..US Health Secretary Margaret Heckler said the virus was a variant of a known human cancer virus called HTLV-3. A blood test has also been developed, which, she said, would be available within six months, preventing the tragedy of transfusion patients contracting the disease through tainted blood products...she also suggested that a vaccine to prevent Aids might be ready for testing in two years' time.."Today's discovery represents the triumph of science over a dreaded disease," she said..
And it was exactly.. only.. 50 years ago today.. when Two Cambridge University scientists published their answer to one of the most fundamental questions of biology.. how do living things reproduce themselves?
" In an article published today in Nature magazine, James D Watson and Francis Crick describe the structure of a chemical called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA."
50 years from this.. to the reality of replication..
As John Prine so eloquently said 'and time is movin' faster.. singin' harmony..'

Friday, April 25, 2003

Parts the Fifth and Sixth
5. Soft of eye and light of touch, speak ye little, listen much
Yet another abjuration. The first phrase 'soft of eye' is of course a direction to be as wanting in apparent agression as possible. It might be pointed out that this is the first of the abjurations that implies that those with faith in wicca and the Godess, must when needs be, a gentle force on a situation. This does not contradict the 'live ye must' statement, but qualifies attitude rather than conviction. It is not to say that those who would not seek to fight, would refuse to fight. But it must be said that those who look for a fight, are ethically out of whack. The second part of the phrase is especially interesting, for while it's message is self evident, it is still an adage used commonly in the North of England, throughout Yorkshire and Northumbria. 'See all..hear all..say nowt..'. Words to live by. It also defines why wiccans and pagans in general do not proseletise, actively try to convert those who do not share exactly the same faith. As Christians are enjoined to 'go forth and spread the Gospel (the good news)'. pagans are instructed, for the most part, keep your peace, that those who will be drawn to the Old Ways will come of their own, and need no pulling or enticement.
6. Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out ye baleful tune
This is the first of a triplet dealing with attitudes to be adopted, ceremoniously, with the phases of the moon.
There would appear to be a bit of a problem with determining the etymology, indeed of even exacting a dictionary definition of the word 'deosil'. It means counterclockwise, but substantiation of such an assured claim, will remain for the moment undone. Howeer, 'baleful' is a word which bears scrutiny, both for what it has been made to mean, and that which in fact it does. Baleful is defined as 'full of evil or mischief;pernicious, harmfull, deadly'. Yet also is included the definition '*full of pain, misery, sorrow'. The issue with the mainstream churches and paganism has always been one of image. There have been great political forces at work, one's who's machinations belittle that of Machiavelli or Goebbels, which have painted paganism as something foul, and abominable. It was perhaps the greatest public relations jobs this world has ever seen, one with the scope to enforce an immediate response, even after 6 thousand years. For indeed the Christian position on paganism is only another step in the same direction as that of Judaism. However, this verse concerns itself with a ritual to be performed by those among the faithfull, in which the group or the solitary will circle a fire three times counter-clockwise during the eve of the waning moon, and while marching, will rid ones self of those elements of unsavory baggage that have collected over the preceeding 28 days. It is an opportunity to unload one's spiritual doubts to the godess, who is in her passing phase. She will take them with her, and leave you fresh to work on solutions rather than wallowing in guilt. Something along the lines of the sacrement of confession, but only every lunar month.
Parts the Third and Fourth
3.For the circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out
The circle is a symbol common to all faiths. It represents the closing of the cycle, the completion. In wicca, as in many forms of pagan worship, those attending will form a circle (as indeed did the early Christians) and at some point will close it, by the joining of hands. It is the Worm Oroborous, the snake with it's tale in it's mouth. the Universally common symbol of some facet of every faith man has ever professed. The pacing of the circle three times is ritual that is obscure, but it is worth noting here for the first time, the mention of the relationship the number three has to paganism, and wicca in particular. The inclusion of this, and a couple of other basic rituals within the text of the Rede, is serving a purpose common to most religious texts. That being to enlighten those who lack even the basics of the faith. Within paganism there is the acknowledgement that malevolent spirits exist, that they are manifest among us, and that they must be guarded against. The faith allows the circle to have significance, in that it protects those within it from the forces that might be suddenly visible without. There is an element of 'danger' that is, while palpably there in mainstream religions, more readily admitted to, and therefore more frequently dealt with in paganism. Thus, the beginnings of caution, with the rituals for protection. It gives one the willies, to imagine one meeting the Green Man, Cernunnos, Calliach Morrigan, without knowing how to even begin to maintain a 'duck-and-cover'.
4. To bind ye spell well every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme
Another injunction to the initiate, for the Rede is the first statement of faith most are exposed to when really looking into wicca or paganism. There is the word 'bind', which is a suggestion of the power that will be allowed those who follow the path, for it implies there will be a force to be restrained. It also means that to add to the potency of a spell, exact repetition is essential. Recalling a rhyme, even in a foreign language, be it Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Romany or Gaelic, is always easier when it's a verse. One need not even truely understand the words, indeed those sounds uttered at some of the old ceremonies have no meaning we can fathom, but have simply been passed down orally, generation through generation, to be spoken exactly today, as they were uttered millennia ago. In versus, imperium.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Ahh.. politics.. and scandal..
Two words guaranteed a Pavlovian response from the British public.. and within the upper ranks of the Labour Party there has been much rubbing of hands with glee over George Galloway's trouble..this latest controversy surrounding the highly awkward left-winger is the one that may decide his political future - and they would dearly love him not to have one...
For many, his wartime comments on Abu Dhabi TV that Tony and George were "wolves" and urging British troops not to follow "illegal" orders were the last straw...
Mind.. one solution would be allowing the upcoming scramble for Scottish seats take care of him..a clutch of nervous senior Labour MPs - including cabinet ministers Gordon Brown, John Reid and Helen Liddell - face the disappearance of their seats at the next election under Boundary Commission proposals to cut the number of Scottish MPs from 72 to 59. So does Mr Galloway, with the number of Glasgow seats being cut from 10 to seven...
However it's done.. what Labour definately does not need at this time, is a member who can be seen as an open and aggressive champion of the former regeme in Iraq..
One wonders what they'd do in the States..

What's a newsman to do these days.. what with Saddam out of the picture.. the Washington hawks quiet.. Middle Eastern leaders keeping stumm in fear of more sabre-rattling..
It's almost positively dull..
Mind you.. Tony's turning now to backyard terrorism.. saying that a solution to the Irish question is 'frustratingly close'.. like a fresh roll of loo paper..just out of reach when you need it..
George Galloway..for those who don't recall he's the Glasgow MP who's been pro-Saddam since before the beginning and has been accused by one of our tabloids of taking baksheesh.. is still denying..denying..denying.. much like the Germanic-sounding Argentinians claiming to have spent the war being gaucho's on the Pampas..
Y'know people are strange creatures..
When having wandered into a position of vulnerability.. it seems almost human nature to deny.. to refuse the truth under any circumstances..
When truth is offered.. ahh may we all be sure enough of ourselves to.. at least.. give it a listen..
So many lose.. on so many levels.. through intractability..
Then again.. there are times one simply has to move on..

Monday, April 21, 2003

Part the Third.
2. Live ye must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give
A more Levitical pair of exhortations one could possibly not find. Again, the Rede stresses the ethic of the faith, the walk that accompanies the talk, or in the case of wiccans, the silence. The reference to 'live ye must' is more than a bald statement that breath must be drawn, but is an allowance to the right to do what one 'must' to maintain. 'And let to live' is again twofold in it's meaning, for it applies not only to the right of those who follow the Path to be allowed , but provides for those who do not, to follow the Path of their choice, without judgement or opposition. These two statements demand ecumenism in it's true sense, and grants each and every individual with 'faith', to defend it, as well as follow it. This point is given even greater emphasis with the next exhortation, 'fairly take and fairly give'. Again the ethic is stressed with repetition, but puts as much onus on those without the faith, as those within. Paganism is a pacific faith on the whole, but recall it's roots are as bloody-handed as ever is Christianity, or Islam. There were tales mothers used to tell their children about the 'tinkers', Gypsies, those mendicant copperworkers and knife-sharpeners and such who used to travel the British Isles according to the Festivals in waggons, caravans. Legend had it they were the direct descendants of the true Romany folk, the last of the crossbreeding between the fey, and the mundane, before Christianity drove the old ways underground. These tales used to stress two things; one being one should never trust a tinker, for they'll always come out ahead in a deal, the second being never cheat a tinker, for their curses had true power, that they followed the Catanna, the Morrigan, the Shee (or more properly, the Sidhe..).The vengeance of a tinker was fearsome, and while there are those who would today deny there is a place for such observation, that modern wicca exists in a state of peace, it would have to be said 'the back of me hand to such blether', for wicca is a dual in it's nature as any other faith, and each and every practitioner of the Craft is as capable of taking the wrong path, as any fervent true believer in the propitiation of the Cross.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Easter Sunday.. and the tabloids are looking for something to keep the country's interest now Saddam appears to have retired to some undislosed place of comfort..
Seems the focus is retrospective.. and yet there are still some who speculate on the eventual process of reconstruction in Iraq.
Others are evaluating the effect this action has had on Tony..The Mail on Sunday says he is planning to visit the Middle East soon...reporting that he will try to find a solution to what it describes as one of the world's most intractable disputes - the bloody conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians...
Tony's future now depends on peerhaps two issues.. how the Middle East recovers from the body blow the West has inflicted.. not many countries in that particular area are comfortable with the reality that either the US or Britain could come a'marching in.. and depose rulers unfriendly or despotic..
However.. there are those who are not as sure this success has enhanced Tony's political position.. that the number of anti-war Labour supporters who will not vote for him again will roughly cancel out the number of pro-war campaigners who usually dislike him, but feel he should be rewarded...
Note...the challenges that were crowding in on the government before the war have not gone away and the way Tony deals with them might not be dramatically different to how he would have done beforehand...
It is a matter of pride for the country as a whole this morning... as we read once again "If you are ferocious in battle, remember to be magnanimous in victory".. the words of Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins, as he led the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment into battle in Iraq..the speech profoundly moved Prince Charles to the point of writing a personal letter to the colonel, telling him "What you said encapsulated, in a brilliantly inspired way, everything we have come to expect from our armed forces." The address went down well in Washington too.. President Bush is to hang a copy of it up in his office.. the inspirational words, observes the paper, contrast strongly with those of US Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, who told his troops: "When the president says go, look out - it's hammer time..
Ahh well.. rhetoric is rhetoric.. and we British have had much more time to polish our speeches to the troops than have perhaps the Americans..

Friday, April 18, 2003

Part the Second
The Wiccan Rede

1. Bide ye Wiccan laws you must, in perfect love and perfect trust..
The use of the word bide is in itself interesting, for it means a twofold commitment. To 'bide' is to live within, to reside. It is the actual physical boundaries of where you exist, and refers directly to one's home, or centre of existance. It also connotes an acquiescence of self, in that bide means to follow without question, to listen, to obey. The word suggests a commitment to the fundimentals of the Craft, and to that which defines 'wicca' today, that would be total in it's scope.
Wiccan laws is a phrase which puts to the test a number of perjorative statements from a number of sources over the millennia, for it asserts there is a code, an ethic, a law behind the faith. It is not one that works with or towards chaos, but is one that attempts to govern man's behavior to be as close as harmonious as possible with all that happening about each individual. It sugests there are accepted patterns of behavior to govern interactivity with both one's fellows, and one's environment, so while one does as one will, no one else and nothing else suffers as a consiquence.
The word perfect, especially as it is repeated in the following phrase, is an affirmation of the imperfection around us, and the need for the individual to realise that there is something beyond themselves which must be striven for. Paganism in it's many and various forms, allows many views to define 'love' and 'trust', not to mention' perfect', but each carries with it a core of imperfection, for it, as musts be, is the other side of the coin. Perfection is a state of enlightenment, an epiphany, an ascendancy, a possibility for each and all of us for we have examples of others who have achieved that state, so it must be within each creature on this earth to reach that inner self, that ka. Equally there is that other 'enlightenment', that is the obverse of perhaps that which we see as 'desirable', but no less tangible. For logically, one cannot exist without the other. Where there is order, it must be constantly in conflict with chaos. Where there is good, there must be the conflict with bad. Taking this as a given, then it is then illogical to deny either as a state of man, but it does define the concept of 'will'.
Love and Trust, the two conditions under which all wiccans must abide. These are again stipulations that have been common to religions from the beginning, for it is the assertion of subservience. To some extent, it is the purpose to supply all those with faith, with a mother and a father, a set of parents ethical and fair, forgiving yet stern, generous yet not without their demands. Parents are 'supposed' to love their children, and children, to trust their parents. This also binds those accepting this creed from the very outset, to a relationship with those who have also sworn to it, a kinship of 'faith', and the love and trust signifies the 'family' the initiate is joining, or the 'family' the practitioner belongs to.
Thus the game progresses..
Thousands in the streets of Baghdad today, free for the first time, perhaps ever in fact, to emulate the actions of those in other countries around this world, those who's populations stood against the war that has allowed them this sudden freedom.. A calculated move.. a declaration that the Iraqi people were not going to become an American puppet.. that they would take the reins of their own fate into their own hands..
But truth be told, the last thing on gods earth they want to see is the US to say '..fine.. we're done.. Saddam's away.. yer on yer own..'
It would leave those who today were protesting occupation, with nothing to protect them against the return of Saddam.. wherever he is yet hiding.. They know full well that this protest, was purely symbolic.. a statement of intent..
One wonders how long the American hearland itself will want to see the entire burden of maintaining a government in a foreign country continue.. how long will it be, before the call of 'we want our boys home' return to demand action from George, as it did his father..
Certainly the UN will become the mainstay of this reconstruction efforts.. but equally as certainly not until the British and American forces complete the job they went there for.. While there have been firm denials from the American Secretariat of State that Sudan is not 'next on the list'.. there remains those named by George as members of 'the Axis of Evil' within an hour and a half of a B52 now.
This situation will not end overnight. Not next week. Not next month..
A 'status quo' will evolve, which will involve continued protests of American and British presence.. the establishment of American business concerns to repair and effect the production of Iraq's oilfields.. the continued complaints from France and the EU of American 'exclusionism'.. even as that situation devolves..
Tony's going to have to spend time now establishing himself as perhaps the world's preeminent politician.. one who can deal with Jaques and Co., and with George.. while continuing to defend his stance to this public of his..
Iraq's still in dire straits.. humanitarian efforts are being stymied by Iraqi extremists and of course the British and American are being blamed..
But such is the chattering of mice.. who have found they've allowed their temerity to deny them the cheese..

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Part the First.
Wherein we are seeing, or have been seeing over these past few years, a gradual slackening of the Christian Ethic that guided the western world since it's inception, and to be more focused, established the values and ethics acceptable to the 'average American' post Second World War. The ethic created for white middle-class Americans by the Jewish element (not meaning that at all in a perjorative sense) in Hollywood, and in network television (a phenomina steeped in irony, and worthy of a study in it's own right). Even the upheaval of the 1960’s was not as radical a departure from ‘acceptable beliefs’ as is that which we are seeing today, for the Sixties allowed behavioral changes for the most part.
Today, we are seeing changes to observations of spirituality. Wicca is accepted to be the fastest growing religion worldwide these days., although perhaps paganism would better describe the movement away from the established church’s. We see on prime time television entertainment that advocates acceptance of wicca, paganism, magick, and calm acceptance of the palpable evil in vampyres and demons.
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', 'Charmed', 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch', 'The Worst Witch', and of course the venerable 'Bewitched', 'The Monsters', and the 'Addams Family', all programs who’s central characters are involved with the occult. Films the likes of 'Practical Magic', 'The Witches of Eastwick', 'The Sixth Sense', 'Stigmata', and a host of others, dealing with acceptance of the supernaural.
These are aimed at the fears we have inherited through generations of religious conditioning, and while not denying the ethic the church represents, they do indeed question the substance of the institution itself.
All church’s.
Their innate ability to define that which is reality, that which is 'the Truth', and the reliability to deal with problems supernatural is now under public scrutiny.
While our media assures us that there is something, in fact assured us there is much more than we might allow, bound by a church doctrine, it is reinforcing that which the church initially was to have represented, ‘faith’, is valid.
Again, all church’s.
The cornerstone of Christian teaching is tolerance, as it is the same with paganism. This similarity is being forcefully brought to light, and the issue of 'acceptability' is being re-examined.
We are calling for a radical redefiniton of that which constitues ‘good’ and ‘evil’, for at the moment, at best, such definitions are defined by demographics and geographical location. There is no universal ethic . To the ears of Western man, that statement is anathema, for Christianity preaches of the sanctity of life above all else, and universality of man's relationship to 'God'. However, life is not so sacred in societies such as India, where religious faith allows for the transient state of this body, and innures to some extent the grief associated with death. To a degree, in Western societies, it is grief itself that has become sacred, and suffering a condition to be almost admired. This simply as an example, of 'one man's meat..' being more than an adage. As for 'universality with that which is God', the definitions of that which constitutes 'universality' are too many to count, and far too many to consider in their whole in as short a work as one hopes this might be.
It is possible, in examening both paganism in it’s purest form, by defining it’s ethic, and Christianity, by treating that faith equally, to find too many similarities for either pagans to be persecuted, or Christians to be ridiculed. Keeping firmly in mind there are fanatics and zealots belonging to both camps, and while the Christian obstreperous are more evident, the pagans are no less aggravating.
We might begin with a comparison of some of the basic tenets of paganism and Christianity in general, but we shall try to do this with as much scholarship as can be mustered during this epoch, and with the tools currently at hand. Therefore perhaps an exegesis of 'The Wiccan Rede', followed by a similar treatment of the apocryphal 'Gospel of Thomas' would at least set out the ground, be it common or not. It might be pointed out to begin, that the Rede is a short document printing unto something less than a page. The Gospel of Thomas is relatively short itself, saying much the same thing in nine pages. However, keep an eye on the footnotes.
In fact, what we will begin with is an hermaneutic and exegetical approach to the Wiccan Rede, which will be followed by a similar treatment of the 113 verses in the Gospel of Thomas, after which we will compare the ethics and strictures of both, to see where they agree, and where they differ.
Right..says George.. Saddam's been dealt with.. we're working on an interim government for the Iraqi people.. and now's the time for the UN to lift these sanctions that have been clogging up the Iranian economy for over a decade..
One has to admit, it does make sense, and coming from a position of power it would seem to be the route to go..
Ahhh but now,, say those ubiquitous 'senior officials' at the UN..questions have first to be answered about whether Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction and who will control the country's resources.
WMD.. Now correct us if we're labouring under a misconception but was it not those same 'senior officials' who decried the possibility of WMD before this brouhaha all began..
And more on the diplomatic front here.. and please gentle reader, recall when reading the following that this was a war.. see dictionary for definition and history for effects..
..Experts to meet in Paris to assess the damage to Iraq's national heritage by looters, and ways of recovering stolen items..UN Security Council told that security worries are still keeping staff and patients away from Iraq's hospitals..It had been expected that sanctions would eventually be lifted, but the BBC's Jon Leyne says it has come as a surprise that Washington wants to move so quickly...yet it's patently obvious this is merely the opening salvo in the new fight in the Security Council, which has control over Iraq's oil...
Enter Jaques and Co.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Now the Westernisation of the Middle East begins in earnest..
Not to say Islam is going to be threatened, or the Islamic way of life.. far from it in fact, as the west will be seen bending over backwards to ensure the religious card is not played by any other than those known to be zealots.. extremists.. The sanctity of personal faith is guaranteed in the American Constitution itself.. and that point will be underscroed heavily..
This however, will not stop whose within the Shi'ite and Sunni communities motting.. to understate.. how government will be formed..
But for those particularly in Iraq these next few months, years, will see a marked change in the lives of the everyday man. This is the Western goal.. and If this is done well, and one would think the American plan is indeed to make this as close to a model community as possible, there will be surges of unrest among the youth of those other countries who's wealth is by far in the hands of the minority..
When it becomes apparent that an Iraqi man or woman, remaining true to their religious convictions, can still depend on that which lies under the sands of his own country to provide food, shelter, comforts, disposalble income.. there will be a ripple effect in Iran.. in Syria.. in Egypt.. throughout the Levant traditional 'rights to rule' will become increasingly under question..
Certainly this will not be an effect seen with customary Western speed.. but will be an insidious process that will weave it's way into what is the traditions of the area..
Nothing in the Q'ran says you cannot have sattelite television, and a state pension for those incapable of work, and free education for those who have the ability, and a tax free existance.. and the best medical treatment money can buy.
The Iraqi's are wealthy people..
When they realize this.. and the fact the Americans and British are only too willing to give them full control of this wealth.. that indeed they can become yet another consumer base..
Well what will the Iranians think..
Perhaps for once the British and American planners have taken a page from the politics of the Middle East.. and turned it against them..
Perhaps the impression of 'ride-em-cowboy-shoot-em-up' was more of an act that was indeed expected.. not intended..
And perhaps Western diplomacy has finally begun seeing political changes in terms of decades, rather than days..
Will wonders never cease..

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

There's been a marked pulling back from the States on their threatening stance directed against Syria.. seems the message had been delivered and for the time being.. that's may well be enough..
Some stern words from the Arab Security Council.. not related to the UN.. on any further incursions in the area..
However, recent discovry of prohibited weapons.. toxins.. all that was not meant to be there, has put a somewhat different slant on this entire effort..
Now remains the defining of the timeframe for the US transferral of power to the UN.. something that could take quite some time to agree upon..
In the meantime.. the interesting features will be the eventual unearthing of Saddam and Co... and watching what will be the reaction of those terrorist groups who til now have operated with relative impunity on the West Bank and in Jerusalem..
While the American force currently in place in the Gulf is not meant to be a police force.. never think for a moment one will not be brought into place.. even Scotland Yard is sending officers over..
While the overwhelming military presence will gradually disperse.. it will not disappear..
The restoring of Law and Order.. and defining what that actually amounts to in an Islamic Western-run state.. will be an interesting proceedure..
Rebuilding the infrastructure.. replacing all that looted and destroyed.. will take time..
And this will be the focus of those who will continue to decry the necessity for this action in the first place.
For those.. recall Coventry.. Dresden.. London.. Berlin.. the cost of freedom has never been cheap..
Trite as that sounds.. it cannot be disputed..

Monday, April 14, 2003

ahh.. here it comes say the folks who railed against the Iraqi conflict..
George is already waxing prolix against the possibility of Syria possessing weapons on mass destruction.. and Jack Straw here saying 'there were important questions for Syria to answer'.. arguing there was much evidence it had been cooperating with Saddam Hussein's regime...
George has also has words with Damascus.. warning against sheltering fleeing Iraqi officials...
Rhetoric abounds.. with Jack telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I have made it clear and I repeat that Syria is not 'next on the list..."
But questions remain unanswered.. and what British officials are attempting to do at this point is to get an agreement fromother 'suspect' Middle Eastern states to sit down with the US and UK and actively cooperates over these questions that have been raised about their current relations with Iraq.
Here's the kicker.. the issue that could well lead to further actions in the Levant..
Syria's ambassador in London, Mouafak Nassar, blamed Israel for the start of the claims against his country...
Look for no immediate withdrawal of 'Coalition troops' from the area.. This could take a while..

Even as the war in Iraq reaches its endgame, the task of trying to rebuild the country, both physically and politically, is already under way...but the task of identifying which Iraqis the US and British forces can work with is proving something of a difficulty...
The fractured character of the Iraqi opposition-in-exile is well known.. now that the Saddam has lost his grip on power, the fault lines within Iraqi society are becoming more than apparent..
The tensions which have erupted in the Shia holy city of Najaf - where a prominent Shia cleric was assassinated last a blatant warning of dangers to come.
However.. one of the names to watch for in the coming weeks will be Ahmad Chalabi.. this man has the support of the Washington hawks.. and is hoped to be the man to set Iraq on a democratic path..
Mind you.. having said that.. how this is to be efected in a country that has never had democratic' rule is as yet moot..
We'll see perhaps.. what the UN will play in this..
If they're given the chance..

Friday, April 11, 2003

A somewhat backhanded blow at 'Old Europe' today from the US Secretary of the Treasury John Snow.. He's been reviewing the reconstruction scenario's for post-war Iraq.. analysed the debt the country labours under.. and has suggested that Germany, France, and Russia, as their part in paying for the freedom of the Iraqi's, might seriously consider forgiving all outstanding debts..
Both France and Russia are thought to be owed substantial sums by the former Ba'ath government.. a regeme that's left unpaid bills around the world that total between $100 and $300 billion..
Not that much actually.. say the pundits.. but consider the continuing investment that must pour into the country while the oil infrastructure is rebuilt.. technology replaced and upgraded..
Jaques himself is beginning to feel the backlash in his own country, indeed from within his own Party..The French president, described by the newspaper Liberation as the "king of peace without a crown", was criticised by leaders of his UMP party for three weeks of silence since the invasion..UMP chairman, Alain Juppé, a former prime minister, has spoken privately on several occasions to Mr Chirac to warn that France risked international isolation by standing up to the Americans and refusing to support Britain's attempt to ensure a security council resolution legitimising the war...Yesterday it became clear that Mr Juppé's feelings were shared by other party managers, including the parliamentary leader, Jacques Barrot. He complained about Mr Chirac's lack of enthusiasm for the coalition victory and called on him "to show his public support for the courage of the Americans and British in bringing down a dictatorship"...
While there are no reliable quotes from that statement.. Jaques is rumoured to have exclaimed '..zut alors..ce n'est pas ma faute..maudit Anglais..'
Officially, it was only yesterday, after the fall of Saddam..was issued a comment to the effect of "France, like all democracies, rejoices.."
Not quite the eloquent rhetoric Jaques called up to condemn the action..
Mr Chirac called Tony Blair on Wednesday night to ask if France could be included in the immediate supply of humanitarian aid which he said was "the absolute priority". Mr Blair, who has been one of the targets of Mr Chirac's attacks, did notrelease his reply...
Jaques also asked the Tony to raise the issue of French cooperation in Iraq with George, whom the French president hasn't called yet... Chirac advisers said they were convinced the US would resist a "central role for the UN" which Jaques has demanded.
Hopes had now been placed on British influence with the US leader.
No bloody wonder Tony's looking haggard these days.. dealing with George between prayer meetings on the one side.. and Jaques many faces on the other..
And still remains the lingering questions..
What will happen in the immediate aftermath getting food and water to the Iraqi man on the street..
And how many countries will now be lining up, eager after the fact to get their slice of the reconstruction pie..
If it wasn't politics.. one would consider it blatant hypocrisy.. Seeing it is politics.. one borrows an expression from the French.. and shrugs..

Thursday, April 10, 2003

It was Marcel Proust who said 'The future is nothing more than the shadow the past throws before us..'
Discussion this evening in the pub.. with rumours flying rife concerning the health and welfare of Saddam.. of the whereabouts of the erstwhile ubiquitous Saeed al Sahhaf, the Information Minister.. Those who spend their evenings, after tending the sheep and such, reading history, remarked on the similarity between the tone of the Middle East now, and that we saw during the Suez Crisis, when France took up arms against Egypt.. also the wrangling that went on following the end of the First World War, when France, Germany, Britain, Italy, were all bargaining and drawing lines in the sand to delineate who had control of what.. history.. one hopes some of these diplomats have read at least some..
This time they say sagely, fingers beside the nose, they're using the 'legitimacy' of the UN to do their divisions, or they will do when George finally has had enough of rubbing their noses in their diplomatic scat.
What's that the French say.. 'plus que change.. plus que le meme chose..'
Or is it '..Merde..'
The latest game in Iraq these days appears to be 'Where's Saddam?' The Ba'ath government is in collapse.. the leaders scarpered, leaving their homes and palaces to be looted by the rampaging mobs.. brings Versailles to mind somehow..
What this has left is a vast power vacuum.. one which the coalition troops are not prepared.. not equipped to deal with..
Homes, hospitals, factories, all sacked in the aftermath of the civil breakdown.. and where's a cop when you need one?
This is going to take months to straighten out.
The humanitarian distribution.. the re-establishment of a central government and it's provincial infrastructure.. the preparation of the Iraqi man on the street for the responsibility of choosing a government.. the learning process which all will undergo, once the concept of 'freedom' dawns on them..
This will not be a colonial situation.. certainly an economic binding with the west, but certainly not to the disadvantage of the average Iraqi..
That, at least, is the plan.
Yet already we see the murder of a Shia Cleric in Najaf.. infighting between the various Shi'ite factions..
We've had lawyers arguing for centuries, refining our particular forms of democracy..
Iraq's bound to be the Wild East for a while..
Ahh well.. this was a consiquence forseen in the pub months ago actually..
Iraqi exiles in Britain are ecstatic at the prospect of returning to their homeland now that Saddam'sregime has been brought down..
Yassim fled Iraq in 1980 after his father and uncle were killed by the Ba'ath regime.
Today, he has applied for his papers, bought a plane ticket and is packing to go home to Baghdad.
"I haven't seen my mother, or brothers and sisters for 23 years," he told BBC correspondent Graham Satchell."The first thing I want to see is my family."
Yassim is one of thousands of Iraqis in the UK who want to return to their homeland, now that the threat from Saddam's regime has been removed...
Children who have only known exile but have been told about their country by their parents are longing to see it.
One little girl told said.. "When I saw them tear down Saddam's statue I knew that he was broken, dead. We can go and live there now, have what we want, what we dreamed of, like smell the air."
In Iraqi cafes across London many watched the scenes of liberation in the centre of Baghdad on Wednesday in utter disbelief.. There had always been the underlying fears the Coalition would lose interest again.. or that world opinion would bring a halt to the action before Saddm was disposed of..
Men drank tea and cheered as they watched Saddam Hussein's statue finally topple.
.. an historical moment," said one man, at the Baghdad Cafe in west London.
"We have been waiting for this a long time and we thank the British and American people and troops for helping us get rid of the most criminal man in the world."
Another said he would not be a happy if the former leader were found dead...saying
'I want to see Saddam on trial..I want to see him on trial and talking about why he did what he did.."
On all the exiles' minds is the thought that they could soon be reunited with grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles they have not seen for many woman has not seen her family for 24 years...
In her words.. which echo those of many who have waited out the iclement weather here on this Island..
"I have waited for this moment," she said. "I want to go to Iraq as soon as I can."
Admirable. And can the morality of this action seriously be debated now.. can those who stood and marched against the war and for the perpetuation of Saddam's regeme still hold their heads defiant..
The diplomatic wrangling will be the focus now.. and while the fighting continues in Baghdad and will likely conrinue throughout the country for some weeks to come.. the main consern at the moment is the establishment of an Iraqi central govenment with authority in those cities so long under the thumb of Baghdad..
One can almost be certain the French have a plan at hand.. equally.. do the US and Britain..
This is where the real war begins..

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Scenes seen thius morning in Baghdad, that would have been imrobable just a few hours ago.. As American Marines make their way through the easter Shi'ia suburbs, crowds have appeared throwing flowers.. posters and statues of Saddam being pulled down and defaced..
It would appear the government forces in the Iraqian Capital have disappeared.. the first sign was this morning when the government over-seers did not arrive to accompany foeign journalists to monitor what they filmed.. broadcast.. For the first time unrestricted access to the city is possible..
"Thank you Mr. Bush" repeated over and over, from Iraqi citizens who yesterday would have been summarily shot for such an utterance..
So much for reports from countries who opposed this action, who's claims maintained this to be an unnecissary war.. one in which the Iraqi people had no real interest..
One must believe that those who issued such reports, had never before seen the liberation of a repressed peoples, who in fact perhaps had no idea what conditions such people contend with on a daily basis..
Jaques Chirac might well have looked to his country's record in Algeria.. read history.. it was only 1966 after all..
One might think Helmut Schroeder might have had a look at the archive films of his own people, when the Allies walked into Berlin..
A Dictatorship is always glad-handed when in power.. and is universally condemned when deposed..
Such is Iraq today.. such is Baghdad..
In Ontario the Treasurer wears new shoes.. here, it's a new red leather briefcase that signals a new budget presentation..
Donald Brown is expected to announce few tax increases, but the cost of the war is thought to be close to £3billion, and that money's going to have to come from somewhere..
The markets throughout Europe are expected to be down today.. concerns over the war, the faltering EU economy.. business on the Continent wodering almost aloud what role they'll be allowed in the reconstruction of Iraq.. wondering how the administration of 3 retired American Generals and one retired American diplomat will view involvement by companies with bases in countries that reviled the deposition of Saddam.. wondering when the UN itself will take an active hand and when control of the country will once again fall into Iraqi hands..
Interestingly enough, the British Commander in Basrah has appointed an Iraqi 'Mayor', and while there are still desperate shortages of staples the likes of food and water, already the schools are back in operation, and the hospitals and the waterfront in Umm Qasr are returning to normal..
Post-war Iraq will be the focus, as the fight for control of Baghdad pounds it's way into the final bars of the song..
Watch for some French rhetoric, German protests.. It may well be that if this war has cost George and Tony their futures because of their actions, the same might be said for Jaques and Helmut for their lack..
Humanitarian Aid will be the new rallying cry.. that and restoration of civil order within a country high on freedom with the disappearance of Ba'ath taskmasters..
This has been a hard war on journalists.. While the coverage has been unprecidented.. so far 15 newsmen, cameramen, and producers have been killed by 'friendly fire'..
Al-Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayoub was broadcasting live to the satellite station's 7am news bulletin yesterday when US aircraft fired two missiles at the bureau building, killing him and injuring a colleague. Two Iraqi staff are missing...
Taras Protsyuk was filming from Reuters' suite on the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel, where foreign journalists are based, when it was hit by a round from a US tank, killing him and Jose Couso, a Spanish cameraman. Four other journalists were injured..
Within the space of five hours, seven journalists were killed and wounded from US army fire in Baghdad yesterday. American forces also opened fire on the offices of Abu Dhabi television, whose identity is spelled out in large blue letters on the roof..
All the journalists were killed and injured in daylight at sites known to the Pentagon as media sites...
Whatever happened to the days of Quentin Reynolds..
Just for the record..
Jose Couso, Telecinco cameraman
Taras Protsyuk, Reuters cameraman
Tareq Ayyoub, Al-Jazeera cameraman
Julio Anguita Parrado, reporter for Spanish newspaper El Mundo
Christian Liebig, journalist for German Focus magazine
Terry Lloyd, ITN correspondent
Paul Moran, freelance Australian cameraman
Kaveh Golestan, freelance BBC cameraman
Michael Kelly American journalist and Washington Post columnist
Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed, BBC translator
Gaby Rado, Channel 4 News foreign affairs correspondent
David Bloom, NBC TV correspondent
Fred Nerac, French ITN cameraman who went missing in the ambush that killed Terry Lloyd on March 22.
Hussein Osman, Lebanese translator who went missing in the ambush that killed Terry Lloyd.
Wael Awad, Syrian reporter working for the Dubai Arabic TV station al-Arabiya. Not seen since March 22.
Talal Fawzi al-Masri, Lebanese cameraman working for the Dubai Arabic TV station al-Arabiya. Not heard from since March 22.
Ali Hassan Safa, technician working for the Dubai Arabic TV station al-Arabiya. Not heard from since March 22.
Peter Wilson, London correspondent for the Australian, captured in Basra and held in Baghdad.
John Feder, photographer for the Australian, captured in Basra and held in Baghdad..
Stewart Innes, translator with Australian news team, captured in Basra and held in Baghdad..

Monday, April 07, 2003

An interesting man, this Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al Sahhaf..
Over these past ten days or so, it's as though we've come to know the fellow personally.. his empassioned pleas for journalistic integrity and accuracy have been punctuated with admonitions against believing the evidence of our own eyes.. that what's 'seen' is not really the whole truth.. and that what's not seen is mysteriously more to the point..
Misinformation and misdirection are the tools of the West, says he.. and God will give victory to His troops..
One wonders whether Mohammad will be giving many more of his daily reports.. some journalists have reported American troops in the Information Ministry building itself this morning, which is perhaps why Mohammad held his briefing today in one of the local hotels..
Yet this American presence in the center of Baghdad, according to CenCom, is not 'The Battle of Baghdad' per se.. more an indication Coalition troops can walk in when they choose to.. waving the flag so to speak on the western bank of the Tigris..
Might be prudent to hold off for a moment or two.. Some 50 thousand American troops are on the outskirts of Baghdad.. a city of 5 million..
Might be wise to let the rest of the party catch up with them..

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Somewhat subdued in the pub this evening..
This part of the country is known for it's historic connection to such Regiments as the Black Watch.. the Royal Highland Fusilliers.. the Scots Guards..
There's scarcely a community between Straenrar and Glasgow that hasn't at least one kid fighting in Iraq..
While the amazement remains that there have been so few killed, those villages and towns who won't be seeing a triumphal return are sombre these days.. as have they always been through the countless wars this Island has been involved in..
Another British soldier killed this afternoon.. as yet unidentified..
Three of the farmers who live just down the road have children who are hopefully still driving their tanks and APC's around the streets of Basrah tonight..But there's a chance one isn't.
It's a price those who have never been called to pay, can never understand.. Yet here, those who have, have done so with a degree of pride, in the knowledge that which they've lost might increase the chances those younger might have a better chance..
Still.. the banter was thin and restrained this evening..
Three mobile phones sat on the bar..

Friday, April 04, 2003

Well truth be told.. most of Europe has a problem believing Tony's happy ending.
Indeed, Powell killed it in Brussels yesterday...
Since it has taken until now for the Germans and French finally to say in public that they hope Saddam will lose the war, there is hardly a close rapprochement on either side.. and thus the Blair-bridge vision halts...
Now.. one dislikes pessimism on the whole.. but the postwar landscape looks bleaker by the day..
International law fractured.. the UN, bust..
The only optimism comes from triumphalist White House hawks or from the Downing Street dream factory..though their visions are quiteunique..different.
Elsewhere it is hard to find observers who feel anything but alarm at what is yet to come.
The cry is 'Look back at Afghanistan, controlled by warlords still, severely underfunded and under-policed, all reconstruction money still spent on basic feeding, a place forgotten as the world moves on...'
Will Iraq fare much better?
Daft question actually.. of course it will. The Afghani's.. noble people they are.. haven't much of a market for their rocks and sand and such.. the Iraqi's do. is another faint streak of hope on the grey horizon, though Tony may not see it that way... a chance now that the shock of schism may shake Europe into a new unity.
All Europe, Britain included, is agreed that Iraqi reconstruction must be done under UN auspices.. and that means what it says.
This unity of purpose offers Britain's best chance to get back inside a newly purposeful Europe, with its own progressive mission as upholders of multinationalism and international law... should Tony want to pull Britain into the new European hegemony..
Powell offered only a dim UN role.. an appointee would act as "the UN's eyes and ears" on a US-run interim Iraq administration.
Now no amount of diplomatic verbiage can obscure the difference between a genuine UN operation and a nominal one.
Chirac having taken the high moral ground on the war, to enormous approval in the polls, will not endorse a 'fix'... doubtfull the Russians or Germans would miss their chance to snipe at George diplomatically either.. and what's more.. neither can Tony now.
Unless the White House has a remarkable conversion, this gap looks unbridegable and the prime minister will soon be confronted again with that choice he never meant to make.. the choice between the Atlantic and the Channel.
There are many who say it is crucial that this time he jumps back with Europe to support the UN.
Right across Europe there is a new sense of purpose, as people wake up to their new responsibilities now they realize they must let go of the American umbrella they have idled under lazily since the end of WW2.
When Joschka Fischer.. a Green minister in what's now an almost phobic pacifist nation.. can announce that Germany must at last help build a European defence strategy, then a stronger Europe may be in sight..
The French and Germans are not calling it a 'counterweight' to the US.. but less aggressively.. 'a weight'..
Whatever the name.. one can be sure it's going to be on the end of whatever's swung at George's head..

The Aftermath..
It's now the Iraq and in the world... Is Tony's version realistic.. even remotely possible..?
Tony promises to persuade the US that it cannot rule Iraq alone... the US needs the UN not just for humanitarian aid, but for reconstruction... the US needs the UN for money, for legitimacy and to avoid inflaming the Arab world.
"Iraq for the Iraqis," says Tony...
As for the French and Germans, they will see the error of their ways and hasten to rebuild good relations with the US.. Might begin with a meeting such as the UN-sponsored Bonn conference that determined Afghanistan's postwar settlement..
Britain will prove it is again a strong bridge between the US and EU.. George will head off down the roadmap to peace in Palestine, while Iraq holds free elections, the Arab world sees a beacon of democracy in their midst and the world is a safer place.
Hoo Rah.
All that would be excellent. The only trouble with TonyWorld East is that it is exceedingly difficult to find anyone anywhere who believes it will happen - certainly not the White House. That is not their vision at all, as Powell made brutally clear yesterday. They have done the fighting, so why hand the peace over to the French and Russians on the security council..?
Really now..
The UN can work it's humanitarian efforts.. hoping all the while it does better than Umm Qasr.. but not a single US soldier will wear a blue hat.
Instead General Jay Garner and his battery of 24 Pentagon-approved Americans will run every ministry, with a tame Iraqi exile each. Contracts will not be awarded by a UN procurement process.. the thought being why give the French or Russians anything?
A new Iraqi government will be US and Israel-friendly.. and what might happen when the Iraqis don't vote that way is.. well.. just blanked out of their minds.
It gets worse... or more interesting.. depending on one's perspective..
John Bolton, assistant secretary of state, visiting the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs in London, is already musing publicly on a coming pre-emptive strike on Iran. Russia is building Iran a nuclear capability that could give it weapons within months,said he. Better to knock it out first - a necessity as soon as it is spoken. For Iran faced with Iraq as a US satellite on one side with Israel's nuclear power on the other will respond to this pincer threat.
The director of the Royal Institute listened to Bolton aghast... damn near spilled his cuppa..
US conviction that a free Iraq will spread light and freedom all about it is not shared by those who know the region.
Anyone recall Baby Huey.. the comic book..?

The world is upside down.
The three left-of-centre dailies.. the Guardian, the Independent and the Mirror.. all most hostile to the government's war, while the rightwing press largely urges it on. This is a wretched state of affairs for those who support Tony's government, watching it plunge headlong into what appears to be a serious error.
Europe is fractured, other alliances and friendships lost, leaving Britain marooned with George Bush.
Colin Powell's sweep through Old Europe yesterday delivered a direct snub to any serious role for the UN rebuilding Iraq.
The frenzied roars providing the background for George's stomach-churning speech in North Carolina were a display of patriotic histrionics which will either appal.. or incite the world.
But.. if it does end well and Tony Blair proves right after all..?
Those who oppose the war can only hope to eat their words: nothing wrong with humble pie.
So let us examine the government's scenario for everything going right. At the moment, it goes as follows...
Republican Guard battalions have melted away under catastrophic bombardment. Stout resistance remains and Baghdad may not fall in a day but it will not be Stalingrad. There is no great hurry - Basra is the patient way to take towns, gradually. The regime will fall with fewer British and US losses than in any conflict in history: civilian deaths will be proportionate. Rolling news deceives with its hungry demands for a new Band of Brothers episode every hour, but war doesn't work like that. All in all, the government sounds calmly certain that all will be well. Since we know nothing, let's assume all will be tolerably well.
We'll continue shortly..

Thursday, April 03, 2003

There are concerns, down at the pub.. that scenes the likes of which took place aboard a US-bound flight from Gatwick, will become commonplace..
That particular flight was diverted to Shannon Airport.. a flight attendant found 'a troubling written note'.. as opposed to a troubling oral note one supposes.. and all passengers and crew were debarqued, searched, and then again sent on their way..
Mutterings about that along the bar.. many have relatives in the States and Canada.. that flight's a popular one, and there are concerns as to how the Homeland Security measures will affect them Stateside.. let alone what they'll have to endure at Heathrow and Gatwick..
Someone's read their Sun T'su..
It's an issue that will have to be looked at seriously.. and one that will affect all who travel.. anywhere.. from now on..
When terrorism becomes an established tactic, it has to be understood by the 'innocent'.. those who perhaps have never had a political opinion in their lives.. who are the target. A sense of moral outrage at targetting those who march against wars, and human rights violations, and the inequality and unfairness of life in general, will not prove much of a defence against those armed not only with political or religious idiological zeal, but with semtex..
And should we lose track of causes.. when 'cause and effect' becomes a rallying cry for the professional protestors.. recall where the threats originated..
It seems to be one of the distinguishing marks of Western Society these days.. to take on a stance of suffering martyrdom.. while performing unanaesthetized facial surgery on ones-self..
One day we'll all grow up.
Clarification, of a sort, this evening from Colin Powell, as to what the US sees as it's role in post-war Iraq.. He said the US-led coalition would play a "leading role in determining the way forward," but would work in partnership with other organisations. ..
The aim of Colin's visit.. his first since the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq..was to rebuild relations damaged by bitter disagreements in the run-up to the war. Truth be told, the meeting of NATO Ministers was more to define the lines drawn in the sand.
While world opinion is now behind a UN administered temporary government for post-Saddam Iraq.. the US is still somewhat piqued with the UN itself for it's complete lack of support to remove the Ba'ath regeme..
Something along the lines of wanting a slice of a cake they refused to help bake..
The problem for the EU now, is how to justify it's scrabbling for some of the reconstruction input.. while maintaining their firm stance against the war itself..
Becomes a problem of credibility..
With American troops skirmishing some 6 miles outside Baghdad.. and British troops fighting for Basrah, the inevidable talks have begun that will define what role 'Old Europe' has in the reconstruction of Iraq..
It was a direct confrontation at the UN today.. with the EU wondering aloud what path the US will follow when Saddam's away..
This is where the long-term process begins of defining new geopolitical alliances.. Britain's Ambassador to the UN.. Lord Robertson.. says the differences between Europe's stance and that of the West, were 'not irreconcilable'.. which could be read 'they've come begging.. and we can be magnanimous, but not yet..'
Lord Robertson also mentioned NATO and the EU.. have 'unbreakable bonds' and 'common interests'.. which could be read 'NATO's almost a thing of the past thanks to the machinations of Chirac and Co... and our political agenda's are clearly divergent..
Germany's Chancellor. Gerhard Schroeder, told his Parliament today that 'reconstruction is more than repairing buildings, oil wells, and infrastructure..The real reconstruction of the society won't be achieved by a few contracts for companies..' Gerhard of course, was wondering aloud there why there were no contracts for German companies to be had..
In his somewhat clumsy Teutonic manner though, Gerhard has put his finger on the attitude we've been dreading..
There is no Iraqi society to rebuild truth be told.. the Iraqi's themselves are going to have to start from scratch.. and develop their own sense of identity, separate from ruling minorities and absentee-goverments.. This will perhaps be the first time many Iraqi's will be able to wander their own country without fear of being stopped.. questioned.. and possibly imprisoned..
One suggests the Iraqi's fight has just begun.. for in such a system, with the real necessity for those with international political experience to be in position, it's often the case of the best of the worst.. those least offensive from the outgoing regeme, who remain in positions of 'advisatorial' power..
The Iraqi man on the street has an uphill battle ahead..

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

'The officer is usually more than happy to talk to me on the record but this time he did not want to have to explain what he had seen of torture and never revealed to his wife back home...' This filed today by Tom Newton Dunn... a writer for the Daily Mirror who's traipsing about Iraq with 40 Commando Unit..
They'd spent the day at small village ..Abu al Khasib.. searching through what used to be euphamistically called the Police Station.. abandoned by the Mukhabarat as the British forces approached..
A pile of ID cards.. several score.. found bound together in a bottom drawer of the desk in the office of the Police Chief.. It's illegal for any Iraqi to be without their card.. they'd be imprisoned were they stopped without it..
It begs the question.. why were these men not carrying these cards.. where they might be today..
It's different world there.. something enirely alien to western minds coddled and comforted with a childhood of Walt Disney and Bill Cosby..
The pictures of the reality of Iraqi daily life.. will have many who marched against this conflict thinking again..
Regretable it took a war to rid them of Saddam.. regretable it wasn't done the last time..
It's a world of sorrows.. and a sea of regrets in that desert country.. and we've yet to see the worst..
Y'know.. you suffer a bit of mechanical trouble.. and consiquently are out of touch for a few days.. and man when you come back it's amazing how little has changed..
The war presses on..
Public opinion appears to be wafting towards resigned support..
And the media's having more fun with this than anyone else it seems..
It's always been accepted that during times of war here.. to some extent.. truth will become 'economical'.. what the media is told and then passes along to us will, while not being innaccurate, might not be all of it.. It's a need to know situation..
One might say that 'the whole truth' is one of the first casualties of war.. what we have to wonder now is, is free expression another..
We mentioned George Galloway in an earlier posting.. a Labour MP from Glasgow who's always been outspokenly pro-Baath and anti-western in his leanings..
This same MP has been branded a traitor by the Sun.. which might indeed considering his consituency, guarantee his re-election, but which however casts a pall on the man's overall character and thus on those who support him..
"For treachery like that, Nazi mouthpiece Lord Haw Haw tasted the hangman's rope in 1946. Sadly, we've gone soft these days," ran the inside editorial...
However, it's not only on the front page of Britains most 'kill-a-gook-for-God-and-Country' tabloid that critics of the war have come a cropper..
Robin Cook was forced to 'clarify' his weekend remarks, to the effect that British troops should be brought home immediately... Cook later conceeded that perhaps it wouldn't be wise to 'let Saddam off the hook' by abandonning the fight just yet..
And in the States.. a man who's won the Pulitzer prize for his reporting efforts.. Peter Arnett.. was given the sack when he told Iraqi television the coalitions initial war plan had failed..
One American Congresswoman called his remarks 'Kafkaesque', and shook her head sadly..
So do we..
These millions who four weeks ago paraded about this earth in a vain attempt to stop the action, however misguided and apparently naive.. are an esential part of the fabric of our society here in the west.. they're part of the system of checks and ballances which must never be squashed..
Ignored.. perhaps.. reviled.. maybe..
But stigmatized.. named as traitors.. that's what would be called WOTT here..
Well Over The Top..

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