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Friday, February 24, 2006


A letter today in the Scotsman. I am really rather pleased about this as it is about Yugoslavia & really rather hard hitting. I also submitted this letter to the Herald & numerous others. The Herald hasn't used it & Google news doesn't mention it. The Washington Post emailed they were considering it but haven't published.

They did edit out a mention of Tudjman being seated beside Ashdown at the celebration but that was only in to provide verification. This was where Tudjman drew Ashdown a map of how he wanted Bosnia to look - half Serb, half Croat, zero Moslem but Ashdown's making that public doesn't hurt him.

No doubt the Scot Lib Dem executive will consider any mention of this particular genocide to be not very nice & therefore further proof of "illiberality"
- which is the point of the letter.

Unacceptable Nazis

David Irving is sentenced to three years in jail for denying the Holocaust. The late ruler of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, also denied the Holocaust, but this did not prevent us helping him to get his own country and ethnically cleansing 560,000 Serbs, 240,000 of whom are still "missing". Nor did it prevent him being invited to the United Kingdom's celebration of the defeat of Nazism in Europe. Just as there are some Holocausts which may not be denied and some which may, there are clearly acceptable and unacceptable Nazis.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


One of the basic tenets of marxism & socialism generally is that individuals don't matter in the by-play of political movements. I, on the other hand, think that a particular individual at a pivotal point can changes the destiny of parties & indeed nations. This is the "butterfly's wing" theory applied to politics which assumes that politics is a chaotic system, in the scientific sense. Indeed if I didn't believe that I wouldn't be bloging I'd take up gardening. A corollary of the butterfly effect is that the result is unpredictable & has only a better than even chance of being in the desired direction - I intend to do a piece in a couple of days about a demonstrably bad & unintended effect I believe I have had on the SLD.

A case in point is shown by this letter in the Scotsman a couple of days ago about Ming Campbell
I was interested to read that Sir Menzies Campbell, one of the three candidates hoping to become leader of the Liberal Democrats, received great applause for his comments on the war in Iraq to a recent hustings meeting in Edinburgh for party members (your report, 20 February).

Sir Menzies seldom passes up an opportunity to boast that on that matter he got it right all along.

But did he? If readers were to turn to Hansard (24 September, 2002), immediately after the publication of the 45-minute dossier (the so-called "dodgy dossier") you can see what he said then.

After denouncing the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, as an evil tyrant who posed a real danger to both his own citizens and people from neighbouring countries, Sir Menzies went on to say: "He most certainly has chemical and biological weapons and is working towards a nuclear capability.

"This dossier contains confirmation of information that we knew or most certainly should have been willing to assume. Saddam's possession of chemical and biological weapons, have been eloquently demonstrated by this dossier."

Sir Menzies should explain why, and at what point did he have such a dramatic change of mind.

Ardconnel Street
He may be putting himself forward as a safe pair of hands who had a good anti-war but it must be clear that, had he been leader the Lib Dems would have supported the Iraq war (as they so enthusiasticly did the Yugoslav one) it is possible that a few members would have broken ranks but I suspect very few (expulsion is harsher weapon against MPs than us volunteers). During the Yugoslav War debate Simon Hughes was the only other Lib Dem to speak & he said, obviously having wrestled with his conscience, that he was supporting the war purely because the organisation we were part of (could be either NATO or the EU) was carrying it out. That is an argument which clearly lacks moral force or intellectual consideration. It does leave room for him to have wrestled more successfully over Iraq to the extent of opposing his leader but I doubt it.

Had the Lib Dems supported the war on the basis of the WMD lie they would have lost the credibility they obtained at the last election the millions of people who demonstrated against that war would have been totally alienated from Parliamentary politics. Fortunately the leader was Charles Kennedy who took a difficult stand on principle & has been proven right. I hope his successor is not too much worse.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Link from the Telegraph here.
Tourists will soon be able to fly 60 miles into space to see the curve of the Earth and experience weightlessness from a launch pad being built in Singapore, it has emerged.

The venture is organised by Space Adventures, the US firm that sent the world's first space tourists on Russian craft to the International Space Station for week-long visits....Passengers can expect to pay about £59,000 for each sub-orbital flight.

The initiative, which will be formally announced on Monday, will ignite a space race with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which is building a spaceport in the US state of New Mexico.

Both companies plan to fly their first commercial passengers within three years.

Both companies' spacecraft will be lifted to around 50,000ft by conventional planes. Solid fuel rockets will then take them to an altitude of 62 miles - 12 miles beyond the edge of space - where they will experience four minutes of weightlessness.
....... Branson promises to send tourists into space by 2007

Now this isn't the same as orbital flight it is just up & down. Nonetheless it is a significant step that way. Firstly lets congratulate the Singaporeans. Here we have a small country (4 million people & 60 miles diamater) which should, by all the rules be a poor struggling 3rd world country & is instead a progressive 1st world nation that happens to be located in the 3rd world & is a world leader in high technology such as bio-tech & now the space race. They have done this by having leaders who supported free enterprise & high technology - things they learned from Britain in the first place.

This shows that, starting from where we were, we could hav gone so much farther (my bet would be the orbit of Pluto) had we but lived up to our history. It also shows that the future does not lie only, or even particularly, in the hands of the of the big players. This is a country smaller than Scotland which has merely welcomed innovaters. I recently did a post here on X-Prizes as a way of encouraging the space effort - you can find it in the search facility here.

In 2001 the Scot Lib Dems asked around constituencies for a "blue skies" idea that would make an innovative conference debate without committing themselves to anything expensive & I suggested they offer a £20 million X-Prize amortised over 49 years for the first Scottish vehicle to soft land on an asteroid. Part of the point of such a prize is that it costs nothing if it doesn't work & in either case is likely to get satelite manufactuers considering setting up here. I doubt if anybody in the party but I had, at the time, heard of X-Prizes & the result was only marginally more contemptous than I expected. In about 20 years time I expect our political leaders will be explaining why it was inevitable that the East Asians colonised the universe while we became a 3rd world nation. I wish them good luck - if we are unable to do anything far better that somebody is.

Singapore does have a major unearned technical advantage over us - they are on the equator. Since the Earth spins fastest there it provides rockets with extra speed (which is why Cape Canaveral is in Florida & Baikonur in Kazakhstan). This is going to be a much greater advantage at some time in the next generation. The invention of the Buckeytube (an infinitely extensible tube version of the carbon Buckyball molecule) now makes it theoretically possible to build a Space Elevator. In practice it is at least a generation away but since it will make the marginal cost of transport to geostationary Earth orbit as cheap as a train journey & as regular the incentive is great. Since geostationary orbits are only possible directly above the equator the first equatorial city to build one will be the gateway to the universe.

Monday, February 20, 2006


THE British Government must act quickly and resolutely to plug the yawning energy
gap or face blackouts within six years, industry leaders said today. The call
followed a survey showing that three-quarters of business executives, academics
and politicians believed the lights would start to go out by 2012 as the country's
ageing nuclear power stations were progressively closed down. It also comes as
the Government plunges into a study of how to feed the country's electricity
needs while at the same time meeting its international obligations to cut
emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels which create climate change.
--Jeremy Lovell, Reuters, 20 February 2006

I get increasingly annoyed at the idiocy of politicians who think they can ignore stuff like this. Regular readers may have noticed.

Found via CCNet a scholarly electronic network edited by Benny Peiser. To subscribe send an e-mail to ("subscribe cambridge-conference"


Global Village time. Peter North in Australia pointed out this letter from a Mr Brian Gallagher in Liberal Democrat News.
Liberal Democrat News 6 August 2004 Issue 816

I am concerned that due to Iraq, the Liberal Democrats have forgotten about ex-Yugoslavia, where scrutiny is needed.

The UN appeals court overturned the conviction of Croat General Tihomir Blaskic for war crimes, his sentence reduced from 45 years to 9. A similar fate may await fugitive Croat General Ante Gotovina, whose case I have written extensively on. The UN have charged him and two others with the American controlled Croat offensive ’Operation Storm’ in 1995 which stopped Milosevic, saving Croatia and Bosnia.

The UN - which supported the Serbs throughout the war - ludicrously claim Operation Storm to be a war crime. These charges should now be dropped, not least because the prosecutors have contradicted them with evidence in the Milosevic trial. Must we wait for justice at an appeal?

Extensively reported in Croatia, British Intelligence are apparently falsely claiming to international officials that Croatia is harbouring General Gotovina
in an attempt to sabotage Croatia’s EU entry. Sadly, anti-British feeling is thus rife in Croatia.

Elsewhere - and virtually ignored - Hungarians and Croats are being violently attacked by Serb extremists in the Vojvodina province of Serbia. The Liberal
Democrats should start taking a interest - and to be sceptical of Foreign Office policy.

Brian Gallagher
One of the things I am facing expulsion for is is questioning the propriety of the ICTY & suggesting that they should take action against somebody who had undeniably committed perjury (admitedly it was Paddy Ashdown) & yet Mr Gallagher is given space by the party to criticise the ICTY for an opposite decision on prosecution.

Neither Mr Gallagher nor the editor are facing expulsion even for the egregious lies that "The UN - which supported the Serbs throughout the war - ludicrously claim Operation Storm to be a war crime" - The UN expelled Yugoslavia for intervention in Bosnia (part of Yugoslavia) butdid not do so to the Croatian Nazis& the claim that it is ludicrous to call the Krajina Holocaust a war crime coyuld only be stated by the sort of Nazi who would also deny Auschwitz.

Mr Gallagher's commitment to liberal principles, combined with his role as a "consultant" to the Croatian Nazi regime can also be seen in
Operation Storm Destroyed “Greater Serbia”

Gotovina's Offensive may have been bloody but it also forced Serbia to the negotiating table in 1995.
By Brian Gallagher in London (20-Jan-06)

There is no doubt that the indictment of General Ante Gotovina, along with two other Croatian officers by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, in relation to Operation Storm, has caused resentment in Croatia.
And for good reason. Firstly, Operation Storm was instrumental in defeating Serbian aggression in both Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina. And secondly, the indictment against Gotovina is in itself questionable and has been contradicted by United Nations prosecutors themselves.
First, Operation Storm. There is no doubt that the Croatian army offensive in July 1995 against rebel Serbs, based in Knin, entailed human rights offences and several hundred quite unnecessary deaths of civilians.
But with the assistance and effective control of the United States, it liberated large swathes of Croatia occupied by the so-called Republika Srpska Krajina, RSK. The RSK had seized one-third of the republic and – though this is often forgotten – ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Croats from their homes and killed many.
After dealing a death blow to the RSK, the Croatian offensive was instrumental in pushing back the Serb military in neighbouring Bosnia,
breaking the siege of the UN safe haven of Bihac and forcing the Serbs
to negotiate peace at Dayton, Ohio, later that year.
Had Bihac fallen, tens of thousands of Bosniaks would have been expelled and many perished, and the Bosnian Serbs would have cemented their strategic position. So, Croatia had to act.
This action is now characterised as a "criminal enterprise" in which Gotovina, along with the late President Franjo Tudjman, ethnically cleansed thousands of Serbs, killing them and destroying their property to ensure they never returned.
There is no question that the charges are challenging the legitimacy of Operation Storm. It is expressly mentioned in Gotovina's indictment as part of the "criminal enterprise".
But the idea that the army offensive was in itself responsible for the mass flight of the Serbian population of the RSK needs to be challenged.
It is not controversial that the Bosnian Serb leadership - not the Bosniaks - in collusion with Belgrade, urged Sarajevo's Serbs to leave the Bosnian capital in 1995. Similarly, the RSK leadership, in collusion with Belgrade, ordered out the Serb population ahead of Operation Storm.
Moreover, the prosecutors themselves seem contradictory in their charges against Gotovina. On the one hand they allege ethnic cleansing on Gotovina's part. On the other, in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, they said that Milosevic was responsible for an "overall plan" in which the Serbs would be funnelled from Croatia into Kosovo, where the Serbs were a minority. Clearly these two points are not reconcilable.
If anyone should be indicted for the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from Croatia it should surely be the RSK leadership and Milosevic.
There is another aspect to all this - the involvement of the US. The Clinton administration provided training and intelligence for Croatia before Operation Storm. It was the US that then stopped Croatian forces from continuing their advance in north-west Bosnia in conjunction with the Bosnian army towards the Serb metropolis of Banja Luka. The exercise of the US veto showed that Washington had a supervisory role over the operation.
It is simply not credible that the US in effect conspired with Tudjman and Gotovina to ethnically cleanse Croatia's Serbs. Rather, US involvement was to ensure an end to Serb aggression in the face of European impotence. The US almost certainly possesses the evidence that would exonerate Gotovina. It should provide such evidence to the defence.
If the indictment is shaky, it is to be hoped that the judges can be relied on to throw it out. However, previous experience is not good. The Hague's own appeals chamber in the case of the Bosnian Croat general Tihomir Blaskic listed a litany of errors by the original trial chamber. The Blaskic case does not inspire confidence in Gotovina's trial, especially given Gotovina's high profile.
What compounds the ICTY's poor image in Croatia over Gotovina is its poor record in the prosecution of Serb crimes in Croatia. For the bombardment of Dubrovnik there were only two convictions, with sentences for seven and eight years. For the destruction of the entire town of Vukovar in the autumn and winter of 1991, where thousands perished in a frightful siege, the prosecutors have focused on three middle-ranking officers, the so-called Vukovar Trio. The senior Yugoslav Army commanders most responsible for those horrors have eluded indictment. Yet Gotovina's alleged crimes pale in comparison with theirs.
If Operation Storm had not taken place, a Greater Serbia would exist today. Possibly thousands of Bosniaks from Bihac would be homeless or dead. Is it really possible that saving thousands of Muslim lives was part of a criminal act?
If the Gotovina case results in a guilty verdict, Serb extremists will be able to say they were justified in waging war against both Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina, and that they were merely defending themselves. Will the legacy of the ICTY really be that Radovan Karadzic has the last laugh?

Brian Gallagher is the editor of Croatia Business Report, He is also a consultant to the Croatian Worldwide Association.
While he is entirely correct in his statement that the Krajina Holocaust was carried out under the "effective control of the United States" howver the average level oftruth is this mishmash is more effectively shown by the claim that the Holocaust was justified because "Had Bihac fallen, tens of thousands of Bosniaks would have been expelled and many perished, and the Bosnian Serbs would have cemented their strategic position". Bihac was the Moslem northern province which, far from being under threat from Serbs was in alliance with them against the al Quaeda press gangs sent there by Izetbegovic. On a previous occasion local Serb forces had given refuge to its inhabitants when they were driven out by our al Quaeda friends. After 10 years of NATO rule the inhabitants still suffer from the random murders of "unknown" gangs of Moslem fundamentalists & their leader Fikret Abdic is imprisoned in a Croatian Nazi jail having been convicted of prematiure opposition to our al Quaeda friends. These people, like most Kosovo Albanians are in some ways the most tragic victims of our wars becuase there is nobody to speak for them & against the genocidal psychopaths we found it convenient to set over them.

It is obvious that if I have gone to far in my commitment to liberalism, freedom & the rule of international law, Mr Gallagher has gone equally far, to his financial benefit, in his commitment to Holocaust Denial & Nazism. If the party is to maintain a balancing act between these positions they cannot expel me without equally expelling him. I will be drawing their attention to this point.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


The objections Mr Fraser raises to me mentioning any evidence given or available on the Serb side of the current "trials" raises another important point as to whether Mr Fraser's position here is consistent with Scottish party membership.

A few years ago a motion was passed, unanimously, by the Scottish Conference, which is the sovereign body of the party, calling for war crimes trials in Yugoslavia to be conducted on an impartial & non-racial basis (indeed as an example we called for the indictment of the leaders of the countries which supplied the KLA with weapons while they were recognised as terrorists - this certainly includes Messrs. Clinton & Kohl). A fair trial inherently requires that the media styled "trial of the century" be reported without fear or favour & for Mr Fraser to deliberately flout this by attempting to purge me for doing so is inherently not only in total opposition to liberal principles but in violation of Scottish party policy. Mr Fraser cannot even claim ignorance since he & I were co-sponsors of this motion.

To accuse me of being "illiberal" is totally untruthful. I dispute that supporting freedom, seeking to end poverty, seeking to prevent the unnecessary killing of 24,000 pensioners a year from fuel poverty or opposing genocide can be described as "illiberal" by anybody with a trace of honesty. I believe that it would be in the interests of the party, as well as the country, to commit itself to traditional liberal policies & particularly to achieving economic success - time after time it is shown that the electorate want wealth, whereas Ludditism, bicycling, windmills & banning things are not popular Even if it is decided that such matters are "incompatible with membership of the party" this would only prove that liberalism & membership of the Lib Dems are incompatible. I must leave that decision in your hands & those of the Appeals Tribunal.

I have said that nuclear power is more cost effective & reliable than windmills, that strong economic growth is preferable to the UK's current comparative decline & Scotland's steep decline & that illegal war, ethnic cleansing, genocide & child sex slavery are wrong. If the "Lib Dems" decide that these opinions are "incompatible with party membership" then you are neither honest, competent or liberal.

Neil Craig

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