Thursday, 16 December 2010

Mayhem in the Mediterranean: further update 23rd January 2011

23/1/11 Turkil Committee report Part 1

Update on Ban Ki-Moon Inquiry from

Deadline for UN probe into deadly flotilla raid postponed yet again
Sunday, January 9, 2011
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A U.N. inquiry into the Mavi Marmara tragedy has again postponed the release of its report. The report will be released in April.

27/9/10 UNHRC report

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Squaring the Circle: London 13th December

On Monday 13th December 2010 the Henry Jackson Society and Just Journalism are holding a ‘Panel Discussion’: “Squaring the Circle? Britain & the De-legitimisation of Israel”
The panellists are: Israel Ambassador to UK Ron Prosor; Baroness Ruth Deech;
Daniel Finkelstein; Nick Cohen; Rafael Bardaji; Stephen Pollard.

More details on:
- reproduced below

Any criticism of Israeli policies seems to stimulate a bombardment of largely ad hominem abuse in which Gentiles are categorised as ‘anti-semitic’, Jews as ‘self-hating’.

My own heritage: according to the National Geographic research project, my maternal DNA is associated with Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

The current round of peace talks initiated by President Obama has foundered with the impasse over the freeze in settlement construction.

The BBC’s Today programme, Radio 4 Saturday 11th December 2010 featured an interview with Martin Indyk Vice President for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, former United States ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration.

[Vice President for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Indyk served as United States ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration. He is arguably best known as one of the lead U.S. negotiators at the Camp David talks - Wikipedia]

His biographical data indicates that he is firmly pro-Israel.

He said:
‘If there are going to be 2 states, the border between them has to be defined’
‘so “it’s the borders, stupid”’ is the new mantra’
He suggested that the way forward should be:
Upfront: Mutual recognition of the 2 states: then state-to-state negotiation.
Revert to the language of the 1947 UN resolution.
Revert to Resolution 242: Borders based on the line of June 4 1967
Settlement blocks: The 1993 Oslo Accords followed by the Camp David negotiations between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak provided agreement in principle that the settlement blocks which hold about 70% of the settlers but exist on about 3-4% of the West Bank territory would be absorbed into Israel with swaps of territory from Israel to compensate the Palestinians.

So to the questions I hope to put:
Do you agree with Martin Indyk’s proposals?
Is it realistic?
There are probably some 350,000 settlers in the West Bank so this implies that there are either c. 100,000 relocations or that these people join the Palestinian state.
(‘As of July 2009, 304,569 Israelis live in the 121 officially-recognised settlements in the West Bank’ – Wikipedia)
Is Israel prepared to publish an indicative map?
Ow would this compare that published currently on the internet with Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

You might also wish to comment on the negative image which Israel presents exemplified by:
1) Its studied nonchalance on the possession of WMD despite independent evidence from South Africa (1975), Mordechai Vanunu (1986), Jimmy Carter (2008).
2) The casualty figures in Operation Cast Lead; the use of phosphorus munitions; supporting testimonies of Israeli combat soldiers.
3) The interception of the Mavi Marmara.

Other references:-
Defense Minister Ehud Barak's expressed support for partitioning Jerusalem along Jewish and Arab lines according to an initiative presented by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000 is not official Israeli policy, an official in Jerusalem said Sunday,
In his address to the Saban Center for Middle East Policy seventh annual forum in Washington, the defense minister said that Israel should retain control of all Jewish neighborhoods in the capital and relinquish sovereignty over heavily Arab areas to the Palestinian Authority.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested in a speech on Friday that the United States will step up pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move toward establishing a Palestinian state.
Also, in an unusual move, Clinton held an hour-long meeting in Washington with the head of the opposition, Tzipi Livni. Clinton made it clear that the prime minister must begin mapping out the borders of a Palestinian state in the coming weeks, even without direct negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"It is time to grapple with the core issues of the conflict on borders and security; settlements, water and refugees; and on Jerusalem itself," Clinton said in her speech at the Saban Forum in Washington.
"And starting with my meetings this week, that is exactly what we are doing. We will also deepen our strong commitment to supporting the state-building work of the Palestinian Authority and continue to urge the states of the region to develop the content of the Arab Peace Initiative and to work toward implementing its vision."
Clinton focused on simple messages: The peace process will continue, and the leaders must stop trying to find excuses and people to blame. The United States will only step up its efforts in the region. The bottom line, she says, is that a Palestinian state is an inevitability.
"So even as we engage both sides on the core issues with an eye toward eventually restarting direct negotiations, we will deepen our support of the Palestinians' state-building efforts. Because we recognize that a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations is inevitable," Clinton said.
The U.S. administration began on Thursday night by relaying messages to Netanyahu during a meeting with Isaac Molho, the prime minister's adviser. The United States is very serious and wants to advance the process, Clinton told Molho.
An Israeli source who was briefed on Molho's meetings said the Americans described them as "very bad," and Clinton made clear she will not let Netanyahu "water down" the talks and avoid submitting serious positions on the core issues.
Over the weekend, neither Netanyahu nor his office published any response to Clinton's speech.
Special U.S. envoy George Mitchell is due to arrive in Israel tomorrow, his first visit in four months. He will meet with Netanyahu tomorrow and with Abbas on Tuesday.
Several hours before her speech, Clinton sent Netanyahu another message by meeting with Livni in her State Department office for the first time since the establishment of the Netanyahu government. Clinton only met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak for 20 minutes in a side room at the hotel where the Saban Forum was held.
The Obama administration's dissatisfaction with Netanyahu's delaying tactics was evident in Clinton's speech. Contrary to the compliments she offered to Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, she had nothing good to say about the Israeli prime minister.
She said that one does not need to read secret diplomatic cables to know that the situation is difficult. "I understand and indeed I share the deep frustrations of many of you in this room and across the region and the world," she said.
"But rather than dwell on what has come before, I want to focus tonight on the way forward, on America's continuing engagement in helping the parties achieve a two-state solution that ends the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians once and for all, and on what it will take, finally, to realize that elusive, but essential goal."
Clinton said borders and security are of the highest importance, but also mentioned the thorniest of issues in U.S.-Israeli relations.
"The fate of existing settlements is an issue that must be dealt with by the parties along with the other final status issues. But let me be clear: The position of the United States on settlements has not changed and will not change. Like every American administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel's future itself."
She later said that to "demonstrate their commitment to peace, Israeli and Palestinian leaders should stop trying to assign blame for the next failure, and focus instead on what they need to do to make these efforts succeed.
"And to demonstrate their commitment to peace, they should avoid actions that prejudge the outcome of negotiations or undermine good faith efforts to resolve final status issues. Unilateral efforts at the United Nations are not helpful and undermine trust. Provocative announcements on East Jerusalem are counterproductive. And the United States will not shy away from saying so."
Offering condolences to the families of the victims in the Carmel fire, she praised the international contribution to the firefighting effort.
"Israelis are always among the first to lend a hand when an emergency strikes anywhere in the world. So when the fires began to burn, people and nations stepped up and offered help. It was remarkable to watch," she said.
According to Clinton, "The United States will always be there when Israel is threatened. We say it often, but it bears repeating: America's commitment to Israel's security and its future is rock solid and unwavering, and that will not change."
However, Clinton stressed that "Iran and its proxies are not the only threat to regional stability or to Israel's long-term security. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and Arab neighbors is a source of tension and an obstacle to prosperity and opportunity for all the people of the region. It denies the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and it poses a threat to Israel's future security. It is at odds also with the interests of the United States."
Meanwhile, senior Palestinian figures said yesterday that Clinton should have clearly laid the blame for the failure of the talks on Israel. Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the PLO Executive Council, told Palestinian television that the United States has admitted to the failure of its policy for the first time since Vietnam, and that the party responsible for this failure was Israel.

“Squaring the Circle? Britain & the De-legitimisation of Israel”
A Panel Discussion: 7:00-8:30pm, Monday 13th December 2010

Tony Blair, in a recent keynote speech at the Herzliya Forum for Diplomacy in Israel, identified two forms of de-legitimisation of Israel. Traditional de-legitimisation, whereby Israel’s very right to exist is questioned or challenged, is easier to combat because its objectives are clearly stated. But the second form, which Blair termed ‘insidious’ de-legitimisation, ‘is a conscious or often unconscious resistance, sometimes bordering on refusal, to accept Israel has a legitimate point of view.’ This is expressed in subtler fashion and therefore all the more difficult to counter.
Much of the British media has taken a hostile view towards Israel and its actions, be it with respect to the Free Gaza flotilla raid, renewed peace negotiations or the on-going threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Honest criticism of Israeli policies is often overwhelmed by strident voices which refuse to countenance any justification or explanation of those polices, must less acknowledge Israel’s fundamental right to exist. Misleading or tendentious journalism gets published in a cultural atmosphere where the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, designed to weaken Israel economically, is considered a viable means of debating the complexities of the Middle East. The British intelligentsia and political class morally compare antisemitic terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah to Israel – and often compare them favourably. On radicalised university campuses, ‘Zionism’ is routinely anathematised and presented as a byword for Judaism.
De-legitimisation is a problem with serious and far-reaching consequences not just for Israel and the Jewish diaspora, but is troubling for all those wishing to have a civil discussion in the UK about the Jewish state’s past, present and future, about peace in the Middle East and about the strategic implications of the intellectual currents it so often masks. It is a harbinger of an intellectual climate that must not go unchallenged.
This panel, jointly hosted by the Henry Jackson Society and Just Journalism, is an opportunity to partake in a discussion on the topic with some of the most distinguished voices in the UK who will attempt to analyse the problem and explore strategies for combating this noxious trend across all fields, from politics to the media, academia and the arts.


His Excellency Ambassador Ron Prosor has been Israel's Envoy to the Court of St. James’s since 2007. Mr Prosor joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1986 and was in 2004 named Director General, having been previously Senior Deputy Director and Chief of Policy Staff to the Foreign Minister. He was also Minister-Counsellor for Political Affairs in the United States and Spokesman in London and Bonn. He is Fluent in English and German. Serving in the United States during the Clinton-Bush election and the transition from Labor to Likud governments in Israel, Mr. Prosor was part of the Israeli delegation to the Wye River Plantation talks in Maryland in 1998. In London he was instrumental in arranging the first Israeli state visit to the United Kingdom by President Ezer Weizmann, and in Bonn oversaw relations with reunified Germany's five new federal states. Mr. Prosor is married to Hadas and they have three children.

Baroness Ruth Deech taught law at Oxford University until she was elected Principal of St Anne’s College, from 1991 to 2004. At Oxford she was a pro Vice-Chancellor and chaired the Admissions Committee. In 1994 Ruth Deech was appointed chair of the UK Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, a national committee charged with monitoring all IVF clinics and laboratories in the UK, and with approving assisted reproductive treatments and embryo research. In the period of her chairmanship to 2002 the HFEA oversaw the introduction of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and stem cell research. From 2002 to 2006 Ruth Deech was a Governor of the BBC, participating in the accountability and strategy of national TV and radio. From 2004 to 2008 she was the first Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education for England and Wales - a national campus ombudsman - responsible for reviewing student complaints from 147 universities. In 2008 she was appointed Gresham Professor of Law, lecturing in the City of London on reproductive law and ethics. She is a frequent broadcaster on these topics. She is also chair of a national committee on equal opportunities for Women in Medicine. In 2005 she was created a life peer (Baroness Deech, of Cumnor) and sits in the House of Lords as a non-party legislator.

Daniel Finkelstein OBE graduated from the London School of Economics, where he studied economics & politics. He was awarded the OBE in the 1997 honours list. Between 1981 and 1990 he was a member of the SDP, becoming Chair of the Young Social Democrats during the 1983 general election campaign. Before working for the Conservative Party, Daniel Finkelstein was Director of the think tank the Social Market Foundation for three years. Between 1995 and 1997 Finkelstein was Director of the Conservative Research Department. Between 1997 and 2001 he was political adviser to the Leader of the Opposition Rt. Hon William Hague MP, and, together with George Osborne, Secretary to the Shadow Cabinet. Finkelstein joined The Times in August 2001 as part of the leader writing team and was Comment Editor from March 2004 - June 2008. He became Chief Leader Writer in June 2008 and is currently the Executive Editor.

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and writes occasional pieces for many other publications, including Standpoint and New Humanist. Cruel Britannia, a collection of his journalism, was published by Verso in 1999, and Pretty Straight Guys, a history of Britain under Tony Blair, was published by Faber in 2003. ‘What’s Left?’ the story of how the liberal-left of the 20th century ended up supporting the far right of the 21st was published by 4th Estate in February 2007. His latest book is ‘Waiting for The Etonians’.

Rafael Bardaji is the Executive Director of the Friends of Israel Initiative, a high-level international leadership project recently launched by former President of the Spanish Government José María Aznar to counter the increasing attempts to de-legitimise the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders. From 1986 to 1996 he was the Director of the “Strategic Studies Group” (GEES), a private, non-partisan institution based in Madrid which conducts research and produces analysis on international security and defense issues. In 1996 he was appointed Senior Strategic Advisor to the Defence Minister of Spain. In 2002, he became National Security Advisor to Mr Aznar for the remainder of his term in office, and continues to advise him on national and international policy issues.

Stephen Pollard is the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle. He was previously President of the Centre for the New Europe, a Brussels-based think tank and is the Chairman of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. His biography of David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, was published in December 2004. From 1998-2000 he was a columnist and Chief Leader Writer on the Daily Express. From 1995-98 he was Head of Research at the Social Market Foundation, and from 1992-95 Research Director at the Fabian Society. He is the author of numerous pamphlets and books on health and education policy, and is co-author with Andrew Adonis of the best-selling A Class Act - the Myth of Britain's Classless Society (Penguin 1998). He has been described by the BBC as 'Britain's most prolific columnist'.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

4th September: Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary - Concert at Chartwell

This was a stirring patriotic event: music from the Central Band of the RAF; flypast from a Hurricane & a Spitfire; subsequent chase of a Messerschmitt Bf 109 by the Spitfire.

We also had a vivid pyrotechnic depiction of the London blitz.

The setting was Winston Churchill's family home: he would have approved.

However, I hope Liam Fox and George Osborne were present; failing that some of their senior civil servants. One of the film clips featured suggested that the Red Arrows might be reduced to a team of 11 motor-scooter-cyclists mounted on (Italian!) Vespas.

The impending Strategic Defence Review will be formative - if not traumantic.

1st September: Frontline Club - Pakistan under the spotlight

A lively debate chaired by Jon Snow

Subsequently a google search on 'Pakistan failed state' produces about 629,000 results including:-

Pakistan has been ranked the 10th most failed state in the 20 10 Failed State Index released by the prestigious US Foreign Policy magazine. The list is topped by Somalia, followed by Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Chad.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Trident Programme

It seems that the system is vulnerable.

If the Russians want to get the acoustic signature of the Vanguard subs I guess they could just sit on the shores of Holy Loch with a cassette recorder and a submerged microphone and watch the traffic.

31st August: Afghanistan in the UK

The Frontline Club: A screening of 'Afghanistan in the UK' followed by Q&A with Director Andy Capper, Associate Producer Stuart Griffiths and Richard Dare, former private in the Royal Anglian Regiment.

The army has set up a training facility in Suffolk which attempts to replicate conditions the troops will face in Afghanistan. The chaos and confusion depicted must be an order of magnitude less than that in the field.

Richard Dare's views - following head wound and discharge from the army: it is almost impossible to distinguish Taliban from 'peaceable' inhabitants; we are there to protect the locals from the excesses of the Taliban; however long it takes.

We will see what the lessons of history have taught us in 5-10 years time.

25th August: Gideon Levy in conversation with Jon Snow

This was held at the Frontline Club in Paddington; subject Levy's book 'The Punishment of Gaza'.

It is viewable at:-

It was a re-run of the event held the previous evening at Amnesty which is reported and commented on Jon Snow's blog:-

There is critical review from Richard Millett (unfortunately with lots of mutually abusive comments from third parties} on:-

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Again Afghanistan

This is a reiteration and update of my past posts on this fraught subject.

Our government says it is committed to the principle of 'evidence-based policy'; let us see this followed in this situation where we are faced with continuing needless expenditure of 'Blood and Treasure'.

The oft-repeated justification for this, Britain's 4th Afghan war, is that it is to keep the street of Britain safe by preventing Al Qaeda's use of Afghanistan as a base.

There is little evidence in the public domain which supports this assertion; indeed the reverse is true.

On 20th July Eliza Manningham-Buller gave evidence the Chilcot inquiry on Iraq. Baroness M-B was Director General of the UK Security Service MI5 from 2002 to 2007. She said she had warned what many senior Whitehall officials believed in 2003: that the invasion of Iraq would increase the terrorist threat to the UK.
More than once, the former head of MI5 emphasised to the Chilcot inquiry that the invasion exacerbated the terrorist threat to the UK and was a "highly significant" factor in how "home-grown" extremists justified their actions.
"Our involvement in Iraq radicalised a few among a generation of young people who saw [it] as an attack upon Islam," she said.
Manningham-Buller said she was therefore not surprised that UK citizens were involved in the 7/7 suicide attacks in London or by the increase in the number of Britons "attracted to the ideology of Osama bin Laden" who saw the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as threatening their co-religionists and the Muslim world".
The invasion of Iraq "undoubtedly" increased the terrorist threat in Britain.

The recent detailed disclosures of the actions of the NATO forces in Afghanistan via Wikileaks can only exacerbate the situation.

Other eminent speakers in Parliament have recently suggested that the real issue is that failure in Afghanistan would lead to wider conflict involving China, India and Pakistan.
Our attention should logically be directed to addressing this – e.g. by fostering an equitable solution to the Kashmir problem – and leaving the Afghanis to sort out their tribal rivalries internally.

In May Liam Fox described Afghanistan as a “broken 13th-century country”.
This is one area where I agree with him.

Here is a quotation from a display at Auschwitz:-
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana; 1905

Evidence for policy making:-
1. There is no effective central government in Afghanistan. This has not changed since Churchill's analysis of 1897! (or even the 13th century.)
2. The Kazai regime is corrupt.
3. Opium production continues unabated; this serves to fund the Afghan 'insurgency' whilst creating huge consequential costs in our own society.

1. Deal with local tribal leaders; motivate them to deal with 'insurgents' whom they can identify far more readily than can 'coalition' [LibDemCon?] forces.
2. Disrupt the Taliban supply chain; Control opium production; by buying it at source and/or destroying it.
3. Invest in development not pay for war.

Why are we sending our men out on patrol to be targets for snipers and IEDs without an accompanying group of ANA soldiers?

Present and Past Posts

1. Responses to Tobias Ellwood: J June 2009/July 2010
2. Gordon's Justifications (Brownian Motions) 18th August 2009
3. Milly Molly Mandy on Afghanistan: Today, today 21st August 2009
3a email to David Miliband 21st August 2009
4. International Terrorism: FBI Names 24th August 2009 updated 26/7/10
5. David Cameron on Afghanistan today 6th September 2009
6. Afghanistan Adventure 216/830 17th September 2009

7. Correspondance with Government via FCO 18th September 2009
8. Afghanistan: Letter to Lord Avebury 25th September 2009
9. Cameron’s War 29th June 2010

1. Responses to Tobias Ellwood: June 2009/July 2010

14th June 2009 The Blue Blog

26th July 2010 Conservativehome

The Lessons of History

The First Anglo–Afghan War lasted from 1839 to 1842. ... It marked one of the worst setbacks inflicted on British power in the region after the consolidation of India by the British East India Company.

The Second Anglo-Afghan War .. lasted from 1878 to 1880. .. Abandoning the provocative policy of maintaining a British resident in Kabul, but having achieved all their other objectives, the British withdrew.

The Third Anglo-Afghan War - 6 May 1919 to 8 August 1919. .. It was essentially a minor tactical victory for the British in so much as they were able to repel the regular Afghan forces, in many ways it was a strategic victory for the Afghans.

The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict
The initial Soviet deployment began on December 24, 1979. The final troop withdrawal began on May 15, 1988, and ended on February 15, 1989. Due to the interminable nature of the war, the conflict in Afghanistan has often been referred to as the Soviet equivalent of the United States' Vietnam War.

"The inhabitants of these wild but wealthy valleys are of many tribes, but of similar character and condition. The abundant crops which a warm sun and copious rains raise from a fertile soil, support a numerous population in a state of warlike leisure. Except at the times of sowing and of harvest, a continual state of feud and strife prevails throughout the land. Tribe wars with tribe. The people of one valley fight with those of the next. To the quarrels of communities are added the combats of individuals. Khan assails khan, each supported by his retainers. Every tribesman has a blood feud with his neighbor. Every man's hand is against the other, and all against the stranger." - Winston Churchill 1897

2. Gordon's Justifications (Brownian Motions) 18th August 2009

What are we doing in Afghanistan? A review of Al Qaeda inspired activity

Our leader is widely quoted – although not on government web pages.

UK deaths in Afghanistan pass 200

Mr Brown said their efforts were helping to make the world safer and that progress had been made in allowing forthcoming Afghan elections to take place.
"We have created space in which we can have Afghan government, Afghan police and Afghan forces and that will make it very difficult for the Taliban and Al Qaeda to reassert themselves,"
"Three quarters of the terrorist plots that hit Britain derive from the mountain areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan,"
"And it is to make Britain safe and the rest of the world safe that we must make sure we honour our commitment to maintain and keep a stable Afghanistan." 

There is no published evidence to support this assertion.

The situation is reminiscent of another triumph of foreign policy which produced the following parliamentary resolution (voted down by New Labour):-
Iraq — Weapons of Mass Destruction Inquiry - 4 Jun 2003 - Division No. 217
This House
* recalls the Prime Minister's assertion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction capable of being used at 45 minutes' notice;
* further recalls the Government's contention that these weapons posed an imminent danger to the United Kingdom and its forces;
* notes that to date no such weapons have been found; and
* calls for an independent inquiry into the handling of the intelligence received, its assessment and the decisions made by ministers based upon it.

Analysis of Past Attacks

11 September 2001 - “911” Attack
American Airlines Flight 11
Hijackers: Mohamed Atta al Sayed (Egyptian), Waleed al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Wail al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Abdulaziz al-Omari (Saudi Arabian), Satam al-Suqami (Saudi Arabian).
United Airlines Flight 175
Hijackers: Marwan al-Shehhi (from the United Arab Emirates), Fayez Banihammad (from the United Arab Emirates), Mohand al-Shehri (Saudi Arabian), Hamza al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian), Ahmed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian).
American Airlines Flight 77
Hijackers: Hani Hanjour (Saudi Arabian), Khalid al-Mihdhar (Saudi Arabian), Majed Moqed (Saudi Arabian), Nawaf al-Hazmi (Saudi Arabian), Salem al-Hazmi (Saudi Arabian).
United Airlines Flight 93
Hijackers: Ziad Jarrah (Lebanese), Ahmed al-Haznawi (Saudi Arabian), Ahmed al-Nami (Saudi Arabian), Saeed al-Ghamdi (Saudi Arabian).

7 July 2005 London bombings
Mohammad Sidique Khan – born in Leeds
Shehzad Tanweer – born in Bradford
Germaine Lindsay - born in Jamaica
Hasib Hussain – born in Leeds

21 July 2005 London bombings
Yasin Hassan Omar: originally from Somalia and arrived in the UK as a child dependent of asylum seekers, in 1992. He was granted indefinite leave to remain in 2000.
Ramzi Mohammed: originally from Eritrea and arrived in the UK as a child dependent of asylum seekers in 1990, and was granted residency in 1992. Also reported to be a Somali National.
Muktar Said Ibrahim: originally from Eritrea and arrived in the UK as a child dependent of asylum seekers in 1990, and was granted residency in 1992
Manfo Kwaku Asiedu: Ghanian
Osman Hussain: born in Ethiopia, a naturalised British citizen.

29 June 2007 London car bombs
Bilal Abdullah
Kafeel Ahmed

30 June 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack
Bilal Abdullah: British-born, of Iraqi descent
Kafeel Ahmed: Indian Muslim 

Other Sources
Where do the terrorists come from? August 16, 2009 4:11pm by Jim Pickard
I was struck by Gordon Brown’s insistence today that: “Three-quarters of the terrorist plots that hit Britain derive from the mountain areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and it is to make Britain safe and the rest of the world safe that we must make sure we honour our commitment to maintain a stable Afghanistan.”
I also noticed Labour MP Caroline Flint making the same point on morning TV.
But - I’m not a Foreign Office expert - I thought I’d read somewhere else that three-quarters of terrorist plots in Britain came from Pakistan per se.
Yes, here it is, back in the spring. From Mr Brown himself: “Three quarters of serious plots investigated in the UK were connected to Pakistan.”
In other words, they are not necessarily anywhere near where we are fighting. (Karachi, where I grew up, is 1,104 km from Peshawar in the mountains).
This seems seriously disingenuous.
The duty press officer at the Foreign Office wasn’t able to answer this one yesterday. Nor did Gordon Brown’s spokesman have the exact details of the stats this morning beyond saying that the UK faced a major threat from people on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
“I don’t think we can necessarily pinpoint exactly where each of these plots orginates…the point that we set out in April is that we need to tackle security in that border area.”
Um, where does the statistic come from then?
I’m told by one reporter who visited Pakistan on the PM’s jet earlier this year that the figure was then said to be closer to 60 per cent than 75 per cent, although I have no proof of this.
(By the way, worth pointing out that it only covers recent years - and so excludes Northern Ireland incidents.)
Now I stop to think about it, maybe most of the people on the list are UK citizens who happen to have relatives in Pakistan? If so, what relevance do they have to our battle in the “mountainous areas”? Do we actually know?
Gordon Brown: 75% of UK terror plots originate in Pakistan
Gaby Hinsliff in Islamabad, Sunday 14 December 2008
"Three quarters of the most serious plots investigated by the British authorities have links to al-Qaida in Pakistan. Our aim must be to work together to do everything in our power to cut off terrorism” [Gordon Brown] told a press conference in Islamabad.
Afghanistan: Our fight is against terror and tyranny - not just the Taliban

"Up to 90 per cent of the recent Islamist terror plots against Britain have originated from the lawless terrain that straddles Afghanistan's southern border with Pakistan."

Gordon Brown said 75%.
Can anyone substantiate these numbers?
Else, they could be as reliable as Bliar's (sic) "45 minutes" scare story.

3. Milly Molly Mandy on Afghanistan: Today, today 21st August 2009

David Miliband interviewed by John Humphrys on the Today programme 21/8/09

Where are the real facts claimed by Milly?

DM “The security of Britain depends, to a considerable extent, on the degree to which terrorism is suppressed in the badlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan. ....”
JH “ ...How can we justify the British military presence there, except on the basis, which is now the justification for it that it will keep the streets of Britain safer, which of course many people dispute anyway”
DM “I don't think many people do dispute that. I mean it's a fact ....”
JH ” Oh, but surely the do. They point out that, for instance, the London bombers had no connection whatsoever with Afghanistan. It was a home grown plot”
DM “Well, hang on. They certainly did have – there are very significant links to what I call the badlands between the border country between Afghanistan....
JH “But it's pretty tenuous isn't it?”
DH “No, it's not tenuous John ....
JH “A significant link. What does a link mean?”
DM “..... When we say that over 70% of the terrorist plots that are pursued in Britain have links to the badlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan, we're talking about ungoverned space that is used for training, that is used for planning, and that in its ultimate form was used for planning 911 but which is also used for training, yes, British citizens, who go to Afghanistan or Pakistan for training. That is a deadly practice and its very important that I'm able to explain to British people on programmes like this that we don't say, in a flip manner, that this a security challenge of the highest order. It's based on real fact about murder that's being
done to British citizen both in Britain and around the world from this place.”

3a email to David Miliband 21st August 2009

Dear Mr Miliband
From your interview on the Today programme with John Humphrys this morning:-
as above-
The facts currently in the public domain on the origin of terrorist attacks are listed below.
I request that you provide evidence supporting the "real fact" to which you allude.

11 September 2001 - “911” Attack
7 July 2005 London bombings
21 July 2005 London bombings
29 June 2007 London car bombs
30 June 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack
Names as listed in in Section 2 above

An answer of sorts was eventually provided - See 7.below

4. International Terrorism: FBI Names 24th August 2009 updated 26/7/10

Not much mention of Afghanistan here


WANTED as at 24/8/09

Rank Name Place of Birth Citizenship

1 Usama Bin Muhammad Bin Ladin Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian
2 Adam Yahiye Gadahn United States American
3 Daniel Andreas San Diego Berkeley, California American
4 Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah Egypt Egyptian 
5 Ayman al-Zawahiri Egypt Egyptian 
6 Ali Atwa Lebanon Lebanese
7 Anas al-Liby Libya Libyan
8 Fazul Abdullah Mohammed Moroni, Comoros Islands Comoros, Kenyan
9 Hasan Izz-al-Din Lebanon Lebanese
10 Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali Egypt Egyptian 
11 Jaber a. Albaneh Yemen Yemeni
12 Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan Kenya Kenyan
13 Abdul Rahman Yasin Bloomington, Indiana American
14 Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam Kenya Kenyan
15 Ahmad Ibrahim al-Mughassil Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian
16 Ali Saed bin Ali el-Hoorie Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian
17 Saif al-Adel Egypt Egyptian 
18 Ibrahim Salih Mohammed al-Yacoub Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian
19 Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah Gaza Palestinian
20 Abd al Aziz Awda Gaza Palestinian
21 Isnilon Totoni Hapilon Philippines Philippine
22 Mohammed Ali Hamadei Lebanon Lebanese
23 Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali al-Badawi Yemen Yemeni
24 Abdelkarim Hussein Mohamed al-Nasser Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian

WANTED as at 26/7/10 - new names
Name Place of Birth Citizenship
Fahd Al-Quso Aden, Yemen Yemini
Husayn Al-Umari Jaffa, Palestine Unknown
Wadoud Muhammad Hafiz Al-Turki Baghdad, Iraq Iraqi, poss. Palestinian
Abdul Rahman Yasin Bloomington, Indiana US
Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim Lebanon Palestinian, poss. Lebanese
Muhammad Abdullah Khalil Hussain Ar-Rahayyal Lebanon Palestinian, poss. Lebanese
Muhammad Ahmed Al-Munawar Kuwait Palestinian, poss. Lebanese
Ibrahim Salih Mohammed Al-Yacoub Tarut, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian
Adnan G. El Shukrijumah Saudi Arabia Guyanese


Name Place of Birth Citizenship
1 Mas Selamat bin Kastari Singapore Singaporean
2 Noordin Mohammad Top Malaysia
3 Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan Kenya
4 Amer El-Maati Kuwait
5 Adnan G. El Shukrijumah Saudi Arabia
6 Faker Ben Abdelazziz Boussora Tunisia
7 Abderraouf Jdey Tunisia

SEEKING INFORMATION as at 26/7/10 - new name
Abdullah Al-Rimi Ta'iz, Yemen Yemeni

5. David Cameron on Afghanistan today 6th September 2009

“We need to make it clear to the British people why we’re in Afghanistan. It’s simple – to stop terrorism here in Britain. We must help the Afghans to stop their country from once again hosting the world’s most dangerous terrorists. So we need to train and equip the Afghan army to root out terrorists, and to support them until they can do this for themselves. “

My Response on the Blue Blog (yet again!)

Plus ca change...
Winston Churchill 1897 quote as above

We will always be "the stranger".
Better equipment is not the answer; consider the Russian experience.
Train the Afghan army by all means - but do it in Pakistan, or India, or Sandhurst.
Stifle the supply chain into Afghanistan and its funding via the opium trade - is it not cheaper to buy the entire crop than suffer the consequences of the alternative?
I (and others) have asked Brown/Miliband/Straw to justify their contention that the threat of terrorism "on streets of Britain" is linked to Afghanistan/Pak.

6. Afghanistan Adventure 216/830 17th September 2009

From The Times September 18, 2009
General David Petraeus: allied failure ‘would intoxicate terrorists’

The Generals say;-
“no quick fixes” = a 40 year commitment?
"NATO had yet to find the right formula for success" - what constitutes success?
Lessons of history.

This is Britain's 4th Afghan adventure.
The Russians failed despite huge amounts men and materiel.
Why will it be different this time?

Of course, we have yet to deploy the most valuable (costly) weapons in our armoury: Eurofighters, nuclear submarines, Trident missiles...
Think of the difference their use would make.

"Italy wants to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible, Silvio Berlusconi said yesterday after a suicide bomber killed six Italian soldiers in one of the worst attacks suffered by a Nato contingent in Kabul."

7. Correspondence with Government via FCO 18th September 2009

On 21/08/2009, Richard Tebboth wrote:

Dear Mr Miliband

From your interview on the Today programme with John Humphrys this morning:-

The facts currently in the public domain on the origin of terrorist attacks are listed below.
I request that you provide evidence supporting the "real fact" to which you allude.

to date 18 September 2009 15:11
subject RE: Afghanistan Aberrations

Dear Mr Tebboth,

Thank you for your email to the Foreign Secretary dated 21 August 2009. As an officer with responsibility for Afghanistan, I have been asked to reply.

There is no question that Afghanistan under the Taliban was a safe haven for terrorists to use as a base from which to plan and implement attacks against the international community. Our involvement in Afghanistan is as vital to ensuring our security in 2009 as it was in 2001, and it is focused on an enduring aim as expressed by the Prime Minister in a statement to the House of Commons in December 2007: “denying Al Qaida a base from which to launch attacks on the world.”

Your email raises your concern about the nationalities of those involved in terrorist attacks and whether they had links to Afghanistan. Regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators, the majority of significant attack plots against the UK have links to Al Qaeda and/or other militant groups in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the UK-based networks linked to them. This has been illustrated in a number of high-profile terrorism trials in recent years; for example, the trial relating to the plot, disrupted in January 2007, to kidnap and murder a British soldier. Furthermore, the conflict in Afghanistan remains ideologically significant for Al Qaeda and the draw of Afghanistan for extremists worldwide is significant in providing Al Qaeda in Pakistan with recruits and finances.

Your email includes a transcript of an interview which raises the issue of ‘home grown’ terrorism. With regards to British nationals, our strategy for preventing terrorism includes working with the Afghan and Pakistani governments as well as building resilience in UK communities. The police and security services work hard to disrupt those who wish to travel to undertake terrorist activity abroad. Where they have evidence or intelligence that individuals wish to travel abroad to commit terrorist acts, the police will act to disrupt this travel using a range of powers available to them.

The UK also recognises that extremists across the world continue to use the presence of Western forces in Afghanistan to radicalise vulnerable individuals. We are, therefore, not complacent about the importance of engaging with Muslims in Britain and elsewhere to explain the UK’s role in Afghanistan. We have implemented a programme of outreach to Muslim communities around the UK by Ministers and senior officials to engage on a variety of foreign policy issues which are of most concern to those communities, including Afghanistan. We are also committed to engaging with the general public more widely in the UK and international community to explain our foreign policy goals.

From RT to JB

Dear JB

Thank you for your email.

It is difficult to comment on the events in 2001; the relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda is not well understood; given bin Ladan's background one could probably construct a significant Saudi link.

Ii is my view that our efforts in Afghanistan are ineffectual in “denying Al Qaida a base from which to launch attacks on the world” but are too easily portrayed in the madrassah culture as being anti-moslem. They are also clearly proving disruptive within Pakistan.

"The inhabitants of these wild but wealthy valleys are of many tribes, but of similar character and condition. The abundant crops which a warm sun and copious rains raise from a fertile soil, support a numerous population in a state of warlike leisure. Except at the times of sowing and of harvest, a continual state of feud and strife prevails throughout the land. Tribe wars with tribe. The people of one valley fight with those of the next. To the quarrels of communities are added the combats of individuals. Khan assails khan, each supported by his retainers. Every tribesman has a blood feud with his neighbour. Every man's hand is against the other, and all against the stranger." - Winston Churchill 1897

We are "the stranger".

You say "the majority of significant attack plots against the UK have links to Al Qaeda and/or other militant groups in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the UK-based networks linked to them"; I would be grateful if you would direct me to the evidence supporting this claim.
This assertion has repeatedly be made by government ministers associated with numbers like 70% or 75%; this implies at least 10 such plots. There is little evidence in the public domain of any large number of plots; what evidence is available points to the few plots being almost exclusively "home-grown".

Returning to the military situation:-
This is Britain's 4th Afghan adventure; the previous three ended in ignominy.
The Russians failed despite the investment of huge amounts men and materiel.
Why will it be different this time?

JB has not replied as at 29/7/10

8. Afghanistan: Letter to Lord Avebury 25th September 2009

On Wednesday 23rd September there was a "fringe meeting at the LibDem conference which was addressed by Lord Avebury and attended by inter alia the Afghan ambassador.

Dear Lord Avebury,

I was at the Muslim/Afhanistan meeting in Bournemouth on Wednesday and raised the question about the identity of the "insurgents"

To reiterate and expand the question:

"Insurgent implies outsider. Who are the insurgents?

Why do the Afghan population harbour them?

Are we not seen as the insurgents?

You argued the necessity for the continued presence of our armed forces but with the imperative that they only be applied military targets.

If we cannot identify the insurgents this is impossible.
Indeed, given the inevitable (and horribly euphemistic) "collateral damage" to the civilian population, our actions exacerbate matters.

Lessons of history: this is our 4th Afghan adventure; what makes it different this time?

Surely, our only rational and achievable objective should be to empower the local communities to resist insurgency whether labelled "Taleban" or "al Queda" or even "another ethnic group" by training the Afghan National Army and police force.

Bright idea?
To assist this process: there are significant numbers of Afghan young men seeking to get to the UK as refugees. We could allow them in on condition that they undergo military training and then return to Afghanistan to directly contribute to the establishment of the Rule of Law thereby removing their need to be refugees.

I would remind you of your own words from 4th December 2008:-
"My Lords, a few hours ago the Minister said that we invaded Afghanistan to prevent it becoming a haven for international terrorism. She did not remind your Lordships that that was also one of the excuses given for the invasion of Iraq, which, as President Mubarak said at the time, was likely to create 100 bin Ladens. He was probably out by a factor of 10, but that has happened. It has also involved us, as the noble Baroness said, in a £700 million contribution so far towards reconstruction, has placed huge burdens on our Armed Forces, and is an ingredient in the motivation of terrorists across the world."

I would also remind you of the words of another (then) Liberal:-
Winston Churchill 1897 quote as above.

9. Cameron’s War 29th June 2010

Comment on Times article
Afghanistan is the Prime Minister’s conflict and he needs to clarify his aims over commitment and exit strategy

It is reported that some 77% of the UK public are in favour of early withdrawal;

the available evidence supporting the contention that our presence is necessary to make the streets of Britain safe is minimal;

the cost in immediate "blood and treasure" is immense - as are the consequential costs of caring for the returning troops;

the lessons of history of Britain's previous three Afghan adventures - as well as those of the Russians - go unlearned;

there was a much trumpeted "success".in delivering a turbine to the Kajaki dam - it lies uninstalled; 
opium production continues thereby funding the insurgency and causing further consequential damage to our society.

"Let's call the whole thing off".

Monday, 5 July 2010

Liam Fox as reported on Conservativehome

Liam Fox reaffirms why British troops remain in Afghanistan and explains that their return is dependent on national security needs

My Comments

Times' readers are equally vociferous; where is the commitment to evidence-based policy - for Afghanistan and for Trident renewal?

Is LF past his sell-by date?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
- George Santayana; 1905

Evidence for policy making:-
1. There is no effective central government in Afghanistan. This has not changed since Churchill's analysis of 1897!
2. The Kazai regime is corrupt.
3. Opium production continues unabated.

1. Deal with local tribal leaders; motivate them to deal with 'insurgents' whom they can identify far more readily than can 'coalition' [LibDemCon?] forces.
2. Disrupt the Taliban supply chain; Control opium production; by buying it at source and/or destroying it.
3. Invest in development not pay for war.

PS Why are we sending our men out on patrol to be targets for snipers and IEDs without an accompanying group of ANA soldiers?

Saturday, 3 July 2010


Work in Progress: Blog & City

The vuvuzalas (vuvuzalae?) tooted happily in sedate Frankfurt am Main last week, in extrovert Berlin the response to last night's result was tumultuous.

24 years since my last visit to Berlin.

Then there was a wall dividing two different systems of political and economic belief and practice.

Today there a few battered remains of that wall preserved as a monument.

This provides stimulus for profund thought.

If that physical wall can be torn down - largely by the spontaneous work of ordinary people - what will it take to remove those other walls in Belfast, Israel/Palestine ... ?

Such physical walls are the product of 'thought walls' of religious and racial bigotry.

The WWW together with mobile phone networks, digital video and photography means that facts and evidence cannot be suppressed.

We have seen the effects of this revolution in the UK political system with the exposure of malpractice on expenses of our publicly-funded representatives.

Timely, generally available facts and evidence must lead to increasing accountability. I fear that many of our politicians "just don't get it".

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Terezin to Oświęcim

Work in progress: need comment on Wansee conference, Allied inaction

Terezin (Czech Republic) to Oświęcim (Republic of Poland):

In another time:-

Theresienstadt (Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia of the Third Reich)
Auschwitz (General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories).

By road this is 340 miles/550 km with a predicted journey time of some 7 hours.
We are traveling on motorways in the air-conditioned comfort of a new Ford Mondeo with a peak speed 0f 130 km/h.

In 1942-45 the rail journey would have been less direct with a peak speed of perhaps 60 km/h. This implies a journey time of at least 24 hours.

The comparison of our journey with that endured by many thousands of men, women and children in railway cattle trucks in the cold of winter or the heat of summer could hardly be more profound.

Terezin is a garrison town cum fortress originally constructed in the late 18th century.
Gavrilo Princip who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 thereby precipitating 'The Great War' was incarcerated here in durance vile dying at the age of 24 from TB and malnourishment.

Renamed Theresienstadt following the German invasion of Czechoslavakia it became a 'concentration camp' predominantly for Czech Jews but also other parts of occupied Europe including the Channel Islands. Any deaths (although there were ens of thousands) here were incidental to the 'concentration' process; this was a transit point en route to the main 'extermination camps' in Poland - principally Auschwitz.


Oświęcim is a small bustling town.
On its outskirts lie three more sombre places: the camps of Auschwitz.

Auschwitz I: the pilot plant.
Auschwitz II: the production plant.
Mm: the overflow plant.

Production line genocide: the raw material 1.5 million human beings - people like us;
the product: some labour, hair, gold & silver from teeth, carefully sorted personal possessions - spectacles, false limbs, children's clothes...

more ..

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Frankfurt am Main

A litle while since my last visit to Deutchland: still manicured and litter-free but there seems to be less discipline in observing pedestrian crossing lights.

The Germans appear to have welcomed on-shore windfarms. However, as eleswhere, there seem to be at as least as many at rest as turning.

The happy toot of the vuvuzela accompanied Germany´s victory over Ghana yesterday evening. I now have 3 of these `instruments´ directly imported from S. Africa as gifts for grandchildren to be `enjoyed´ by their parents.

Elsewhere to `Crystalise´ an issue: to lose one General "might be regarded as unfortunate..."; the FT this morning reports a succession of 5 US commanders in Afghanistan since 2003 - Barno, Eikenberry, McNeill, McKeiran, McChrystal.
Good luck David Petraeus! - at least he has a copy of "The Story of the Malakand Field Force", a source he referenced in his recent talk to the Henry Jackson Society in Parliament. Lessons yet to be learned?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

MPs' Independent Thought


Plus ca change...

When in that House M.P.’s divide,
If they’ve a brain and cerebellum, too,
They’ve got to leave that brain outside,
And vote just as their leaders tell ’em to.
But then the prospect of a lot
Of dull M. P.’s in close proximity,
All thinking for themselves, is what
No man can face with equanimity.
Then let’s rejoice with loud Fal la – Fal la la!
That Nature always does contrive – Fal lal la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal lal la!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

From the New World 2: UK Fixed Term Parliaments

Fixed term Parliaments and the 5 year deal.

A problem with a May election is that any Budget measures would have been put into effect only 5 weeks before it.
It would surely make more sense for all future Budget proposals from this government and its successors to be made in mid November. This would allow the proposals 2014 Budget to form part of the election campaign whilst leaving 6 months to plan the implementation of any changes.

Another benefit of fixed term parliaments would be the avoidance of the Machiavellian wash-up deals we have just seen.

From the New World 1 - Victoria BC: UK Science Policy

Prior to the election Adam Afriyie set out intended Tory policies in a presentation to RAEng: see

Labour & the LibDems were also invited to present their policies but failed to appear.

It would be helpful if David Willetts were to reiterate the new government's policy given the change of Minister and the brave new world of coalition.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Parliamentary Progress and Processes

The list would of Conservative gains almost certainly have been longer, possibly producing an overall majority and a more settled European policy had Dave kept to his "cast iron" commitment on the Lisbon referendum and thereby secured the UKIP vote

In Dave's own words:-
"Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations."
"We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty."

Look at the URLs in detail. In neither case is there any qualification about retreating from this commitment in the event that the Lisbon Treaty had been ratified.

The LibDems also have form. Their 2005 manifesto stated:-
"We are therefore clear in our support for the constitution, which we believe is in Britain’s interest – but ratification must be subject to a referendum of the British people."

Any Tory-LibDem concordat should therefore include commitments to referenda on (inter alia) Europe as well as electoral reform.

Following the shambles we witnessed last week this should also allow the introduction of a voting system more appropriate to the 21st century - rather than the 19th.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

The "Special Relationship"

"US President Barack Obama and myself know that the U.S. has no better friend in the community of nations than Israel."
- Thursday 11th March 2010: U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at Tel Aviv University

Monday, 8 March 2010

Quantitative Easing (financial laxative): QE not QED - revisited

Comment on Roger Bootle article

So 'My Uncle'* Mervyn at the Bank of England pawnshop has been buying £200Bn of gilts.

Now that selfsame BoE has cut interest rates to an historical low; this has caused a corresponding rise in the price of gilts. So, the BoE is buying at high prices and the financial institutions which were holding the stock have made a tidy profit with which to pay bonuses.
Alternatively, the opportunity has been created for the institutions to make arbitrage deals between the Treasury's Debt Management Office and the BoE.

Roll on a couple of months and we see that the inflation number is not a “blip”.
The BoE raises interest rate; gilt prices fall correspondingly.
The BoE now starts to sell its holding and incurs losses.

Who is paying for this capital loss?
Presumably the cash has gone to “money heaven” as in the Iceland debacle.

* The English term of ‘my uncle’ as a euphemism for the pawnbroker dates back to the middle of the seventeenth century.

According to Tim Congdon of Lombard Street Research, the whole process "is quite idiotic, frankly". He believes that the Bank, if it ran the DMO, would simply issue fewer gilts in the first place and "quantitative easing" would be achieved by buying bank debt.
- Daily Telegraph 26/3/09

Q&A: Quantitative easing "Q&A: Quantitative easing Are there any risks?
QE is a high-risk strategy. If it is not done aggressively enough, banks will remain unwilling to lend and the crisis could drag on. To some extent that is what happened in Japan when this was tried 10 years ago. Like old-fashioned money printing, QE also runs the risk of going too far: pumping too much money into the economy and causing high inflation - even hyperinflation - as seen in 1920s Weimar Germany and modern-day Zimbabwe.
Why are the UK's actions different from 1920s Germany and Zimbabwe?
Printing money can be defined as the central bank financing of government debts. This is what happened in both 1920s Weimar Germany and Zimbabwe and what the British government will insist it is not doing, although the short-term effect is similar. According to the Maastricht Treaty, EU member states are not allowed to finance their public deficits by printing money. That is one reason why the Bank of England will buy government bonds from financial institutions, not directly from the government. The Bank believes this form of QE is different because it is "printing money" as part of monetary policy - to prevent deflation. It is not printing money to help the government finance its deficit. Also, unlike Zimbabwe, this is a temporary policy: the Bank expects to sell the government bonds back into the market when the economy recovers. " 6/8/09

"an elaborate game of pass the parcel sees cash effectively shifted from one arm of government to another via third parties" - Rodney Hobson 6/8/09

So the story so far: the BoE has cuts interest rates; gilt prices have risen.
Next "the Bank expects to sell the government bonds back into the market when the economy recovers. " i.e. when interest rates will have increased; gilt prices fallen.
The BoE sustains a loss; paid for by?

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Good government costs less with Conservatives

Dave has just posted:

My submission:
Public sector pensions are a huge problem as is amply illustrated in the report from the Taxpayers' Alliance this week.
Reform must start from the top.
How about a manifesto commitment on this topic?
You should start with the MPs' scheme.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

They Just Don't Get It

A continuing record of political incorrectness

2009: MPs' and Lords' expenses

February 2010: Lord Ashcroft/William Hague -

5th February 2010: Members of Parliament will get a 1.5% pay rise of nearly £1,000 from 1 April, taking their basic salary to £65,737 a year.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Whither/Wither Heathrow?

The Conservatives' position is clear
The LibDems' position is clear
The position of many in the Labour party is clear

Whatever the outcome of the impending General Election, Heathrow runway 3 will not be built.

This does, however, beg the question of how the demand for extra capacity (the estimated 222,000 extra flights which would have come with the third runway) will be met.

It is generally accepted that Heathrow “just growed”; starting from scratch it would not be there.

The problems with pollution, traffic congestion and noise with the current volume of flights at Heathrow
are apparent. These problems will be exacerbated by the more intensive use of the existing runways by improved air traffic control which will enable overlapped landing/take-off.
CO2 emissions may be reduced by new engine (open rotor) technology; however, this is noisier - it is highly probable that new generation planes with these engines could not operate from Heathrow

There is another elephant in the room: the issue of security/terrorism issue.
Consider: the ease with which the entry tunnels could be sabotaged, the appalling possibility of another 9/11 style attack on central London or Windsor – targets which could be hit only a few minutes after takeoff.

Let's call the whole thing off; close Heathrow entirely.

The Manifesto should advocate, if not enunciate, an holistic approach to the entire transport infrastructure of SE England.
The estuary airport as proposed by Boris could also encompass:
- TGV-style rail connections to UK & the continent
- the new Thames Barrier (needed in any case in consequence of climate change)
- tidal (therefore green) power generation
- wind power
- container port linked to rail for freight

This phased development would facilitate the re-development of the Heathrow area as:
- London's major rail centre linking Great Western, SouthWest Trains, Chiltern Rail, Chunnel
- rail freight interchange
- an exhibition & entertainment centre to rival to NEC
(this would also allow the redevelopment of the out-dated sites at Olympia and Earls Court)
- associated property/leisure development

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

AAAS San Diego #1: Improvised Asymmetry

IED versus IBD versus ICD

- to be expanded

Comment on The Times web site

A view from San Diego: more to come on: SD, Tijuana, AAAS - Climate Change, Geoengineering

Time to crank up the Bank’s printer

If the economy relapses, jobs may be cut, reducing spare capacity, so the Bank should start easing as soon as possible

Richard Tebboth wrote:
MK's Quantitative Easing policy (sounds like a laxative) seems to have served principally to have boosted banks' profits and the bankers' bonuses.
If he just sent every taxpayer a cheque for £1000 (if not £10,000) it would provide a much greater boost to the economy and cut out the middlemen.
February 24, 2010 5:07 AM GMT

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Canaan Contemplation - Gazan Gaze - Palestine Perspective: Part 1

As a child in the 1950s, at Church, School, and Sunday School I was brought up on the stories of the Old Testament.

As a teenager, as part of the O Level history syllabus I learned of the Dreyfus Affair, the decline of the Ottoman Empire (as one of the causes of WW1) and the Balfour Declaration and associated treaties and concordats. (1)

In the 60s and 70s I first watched the movie epics:-
Exodus, Cast a Giant Shadow, Fiddler on the Roof, Lawrence of Arabia.

In 1967 I visited the Dachau concentration camp near Munich.

In September 1970 we witnessed the hijacking of four passenger jets by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In September 1972 we witnessed the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich by the Palestinian “Black September Organization”.

In February 1973 I visited Anglo-Jewish friends in Tel Aviv and went to the Wailing/Western Wall, Temple Mount and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. (2)

Since 1982 I have been regularly reminded of the history of King Solomon's Temple and (since 1992) of the construction of the second temple.

In 1984 we visited the remains of the Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz.

1993: Schindler's List - the movie

In 1994 we (in the company of Jewish friends) visited the Forêt de Compiègne: site of the formal German surrender in 1918; also the point of departure of the last deportation train of Jews from France to Auschwitz in 1944.

In 1996 on a visit to Prague we saw the remains of its ghetto and learned of the Golem; we also visited the Theresienstadt concentration camp. (3)

In 2001 I visited the Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.

In 2007 I visited the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles with another Jewish friend.

27th January 2010 was Holocaust Memorial Day: the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

On 31st January 2010 we revisited the IWM Holocaust exhibition: the stories of the Lodz and Warsaw ghettos were amply illustrated; camp survivors provided their testimonies with accounts of racial and religious prejudice and pleas that this history wouldlead to tolerance and understanding.

All of the above dispose me to a natural sympathy with the Jewish people.


In early December 2008 we visited Jordan and Petra; in the distance we heard an occasional distant rumble. On enquiry, our guide told me that this was a sonic boom caused by Israeli fighter jets breaking the sound barrier over the Gaza strip.

Three weeks later Israel initiated Operation Cast Lead with air-strikes on the Gaza Strip followed by a ground invasion beginning on 3 January 2009. The war ended on January 18 with Israel completed its withdrawal on January 21. Between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. For more detailed reports and analysis see below (4).

However... there was clear evidence of the use of phosphorus munitions; the “settler” movement has continued unabated.

[1st February 2010: "Israel has revealed it has disciplined two top army officers for using white phosphorus shells during an attack on a UN compound in Gaza last year."]

In January 2009 I had the pleasure of meeting Commander David Hawksley (RN retired) who was present at the end of the British Mandate of Palestine. His view from 1948:-
“Despite the efforts of Britain to provide balance, the world was trying to correct the great wrong done to the Jews in Europe by committing another great wrong, the dispossession of the Arabs of Palestine. Despite the subsequent admirable courage of the Israelis and the unattractive behaviour of Palestinian extremists, I still feel the same. This is simply a sense of practical justice.
The injustice will continue to be the cause of Middle East instability and a volatile fuel for terrorism until it is understood both by Israel and the US. In practical terms it requires the maximum effort by Israel to put it right as far as possible within the bounds of its own prosperity, which would probably improve as a result.”
I was therefore sensitised to the “Palestinian Issue” and have subsequently monitored events via the Internet getting daily reports from both Israel and Arab sources.
Most recently my interest culminated in my participation in the Viva Palestinia 3 convoy which took medical and educational materials to Gaza via the Rafah crossing point from Egypt.

1. Is Gaza a ghetto?
2. Who is now exhibiting racial and religious prejudice?

-to be continued

(1) References

1)The Sykes-Picot Agreement: 1916

2)Balfour Declaration
Foreign Office,
November 2nd, 1917.
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country".
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Yours sincerely, Arthur James Balfour



5)League of Nations Mandate

(2) Less than 12 hours before my flight home Israeli jets shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the [then Israeli-occupied] Sinai peninsula.

(3) Theresienstadt was also the place of imprisonment of Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914 – the act which precipitated WW1; being only 19 at the time of the assassination he was sentenced to 20 years, held in solitary confinement in a dank cell, and died there of tuberculosis exacerbated by malnutrition and blood loss from an amputated arm in April 1918.

(4) URLs:
Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group
Goldstone Report
Red Cross