Saturday, July 30, 2005
The news that the government is to prosecute British squaddies for technical war crimes in Iraq plumbs new depths of hypocrisy. I do not wish to say that we should never prosecute our soldiers though I would say that it is not right to demand the same standard under the rigours of combat as we should in peacetime or in safety.This one was pretty controversial in that it calls Blair a war criminal on the other hand it did also deal with Iraq (a good way of getting Yugo discussed is by bringing in a war which it is more acceptable to be against) - didn't work this time tho'.
The real obscenity is that Mr Blair & co are using these soldiers as sacrificial offerings to distract from their own position. At the Nuremberg trials the Nazi leaders were brought to trial on charges of planning aggressive war so there is no possible doubt that the cabinet were aware of the legalities.
Parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Ctte has confirmed that the bombing of Yugoslavia was illegal, which certainly makes the entire cabinet "technically" guilty of a war crime & "technically" guilty of the deliberate illegal killing of thousands of people. Beyond this the fact that the Foreign Secretary told Parliament 2 months before our attack that the majority of killings in Kossovo were the racially motivated murder of Serb civilians (technically this is known as genocide)(he didn't mention that most dead Albanians were also killed by their KLA friends) made cabinet members technically accessories to genocide when they went to war to help the KLA. Finally by breaking the occupation agreement & instead of disarming the KLA, providing them with police uniforms & essentially free reign they again became technically legally responsible for the thousands of murders & the kidnap, by our KLA friends, of thousands of schoolchildren as brothel slaves. Both acts are technically crimes against humanity.
It also seems likely that Blair's war on Iraq was almost equally technically criminal since regime change is illegal, though, for fairness, finding WMDs capable of being quickly used against us would change the assessment.
We see politicians coldbloodedly killing 10s or even hundreds of thousands of people purely for reasons of state & then using squaddies as a distraction. The law is meaningless if it does not apply equally to the powerful as to the rest of us & people against whom there is a clear case for the most serious war crimes & crimes against humanity must face justice if this we ever hope to be able to play a part in a peaceful world.
Regarding Harry Reid & Hamish Scott's letters on who, in the Labour cabinet, has a conscience may I, while agreeing that Brown's support of the illegal Iraq war makes him legally a war criminal & thus probably unfit to be anybody's conscience, suggest that Robin Cook is also unqualified for the post.This was a reply to 2 previous letters on who is the "conscience of the Labour Party" - as a reply to something previously published would normally also be published,if not to silly - again we have a comparison with the Iraq war which it is acceptable to oppose.
Cook is the one who, as Foreign Secretary, told Parliament that the killing in Kosovo was largely of Serb civilians, murdered on a racist basis, by our KLA allies. Two months later he was one of the prime movers in what he somewhat disgustingly referred to as "humanitarian bombing" carried out, knowingly & deliberately for the purpose of helping these same openly genocidal Moslem terrorists carry out their policy. This was not merely in breach of international law & thus a war crime but, since it involved deliberate assistance in genocide, was clearly legally a crime against humanity. The Dragodan Massacre carried out under UK authority after peace was declared is an example of what that war was for.
I am afraid that if one wishes to look for people of conscience one must look to Tam Dalyell, Tony Benn & even George Galloway all of whom opposed both criminal wars & all of whom are not within a million miles of cabinet.
Friday, July 29, 2005
It doesn't offer any specific targets, but does promise to pursue and share technologies like cleaner coal, solar and nuclear power that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Which is diplomaticspeak for "Kyoto is a useless & incredibly expensive process that even its supporters say won't work (they hope that having accepted the principle of Kyoto next time we will be willing to spend 100 times more) & if there is a genuine CO2 problem pro-active processes are the way to solve it - & if the Europeans don't it like they can sit on it & rotate"
Washington says the pact will complement the United Nations-backed Kyoto protocol, the international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. The U.S. and Australia are the only two industrialized nations that didn't sign the agreement.
"We are not detracting from Kyoto in any way at all. We are complementing it," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick
On this the US & Australia are absolutely right & by signing this they have neatly outflanked Kyoto putting most of the world's economy on their side & incidentally proving how economically marginalised the EU countries are becoming.
They are also technically right since mastering our environment rather than bowing down before it is what we humans do. There are a number of pro-active measures we can do if warming ever becomes a problem - putting dust in the upper atmosphere (we know this works because Krakatoa & Timbora did it & produced years without a summer), seeding the ocean with iron solution vastly increasing plankton growth (the geritol solution), or dumping biomass (straw) in deep ocean taking the CO2 out of circulation - all of these would likely cost less per year than Kyoto - not the regulatory structure just the cost of flying 16,000 bureaucrats to Kyoto to write the thing.
And then again we could just go nuclear.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
It may be that the recent unpopularity of terrorism in the US has dried up that source & that, with the recent murder, NI's catholics votes are no longer to be gained by lavish funding.
The difference between this promise & previous promises to give up violence real soon seems to me to be that in this case the IRA have nothing to gain by lying about it because Paisley is not going to do anything purely on a promise. We will see over the next few months but I am hopeful.
As for a united Ireland & silly questions about who won - if there is ever going to be a united Ireland it will have nothing to do with the war & everything to do with Ireland's economic success. One of the unstated reasons Ulstermen never wanted to be part of a union was that the south was a much poorer country. Now Eire is richer per capita than the UK let alone NI which makes it a much more attractive proposition. What the south would feel about this is a different matter. 67% of NI's economy is in the state & even the private sector gets de facto subsidy. Eire taking over NI would, even if the proddies accepted the idea, would create problems that make the takeover of East Germany look easy. Since they are both in the EU it is difficult to see why it would matter.
What this whole thing proves, yet again, is that any sort of war is bad for business & therefore while it goes on other countries, or in this case regions, pass the warriors by. Economic growth is onece again proved to be not only the best but the only way to national advancement.
"Take note of what you saw here - the power, the majesty of the launch, but also the competence and professionalism, the sheer gall and the pluck, the great work of this team that pulled this programme out of the depths of despair two and a half years ago and made it fly," - Dr Mike GriffinYou would think from the coverage,& the Scotsman is actually comparatively restrained, that the US is actually going somewhere in space. They are now demonstrating their ability to reach orbit - little more than that - something they first did over 40 years ago Indeed 36 years ago they landed on the moon - there is absolutely zero possibility that they will be able to do so again on the 40th anniversary of that event.
Story in full AFTER two-and-a-half years of soul-searching and safety makeovers, NASA's manned space programme was finally back on track last night as the shuttle Discovery thundered into orbit at 17,400mph
All that has happened is that a politically demanded launch has been made (by overriding their own safety rules) of a shuttle that was designed at the start of the 70s & due to budget stretching, first flew in 1980. In fact, due to various compromises made, mainly with the military, the shuttle was NEVER a cheap & easy way to orbit - Apollo is & was cheaper per kilo. They should now be on their 3rd generation of shuttle - we are talking about a time gap, & what could have been a technology improvement, similar to the difference between the biplane Bleriot first flew the channel in (1910) & the Superfortress that dropped the bomb (1945). Instead we still have the equivalent of an old biplane held together by sticky tape after each flight.
This has been brought about by NASA's culture of spending their time designing projects which will be politically acceptable & even more by their government's demanding this & insisting on politicians, who have no technical knowledge, having a veto on everything. The International Space Station named "Freedom" is just such a political goal - fundable but of little unearthly use. Part of the political problem is also the risk averse behaviour defined by the "precautionary principle" unofficially defined as - many things should be done but nothing should ever be done for the first time. The shuttle is a perfect example of why this fails even in its own safety predominant terms - had shuttles been improved as aircraft were they would now be much safer.
The way to do it is to give Dan Goldin (NASA's previous boss) or better yet Burt Rutan $10 billion & not to phone back till they are phoning from the Moon. The even better way to do it is to set up an X-PRIZE which would allow either gentleman to keep the balance if it cost less - something which, as I have commented elsewhere, could also be done by us.
Meanwhile China has the same capacity as the US (1 launch recently) & Russia has much more & with the Russian economy booming may soon be able to afford some surprises.
Assuming we don't have some Kyoto style treaty outlawing progress somebody is going to go to the stars, or at least the asteroids, but on present showing they won't be speaking English.