International: February 2009 Archives

westerwelle.jpgOne of Iain Dale's recent links took me to The Croydonian, the site of one of his rightwing chums. The piece got excited about the apparent rise of Germany's FDP, the sort of party you get if you start with the Liberal Democrats and remove the residual charm. They're on 18%, and looking at the polls they've been taking handfuls of votes from Merkel's CDU/CSU. Net effect when the election comes?

The Croydonian was awfully excited about the numbers, observing that the FDP are "the nearest thing to a party properly committed to a free market economy on the other side of the Rhine". He then raised their poor but abandoned slogan: Partei der Besserverdienenden, "the party of the better-earning people". Aren't those things a perfect read-across for each other anyway? Doesn't a bit of honesty count for anything with these Tories?
leositroom.jpgMichelle Obama says the two girls (and presumably their forthcoming Portuguese water dog) will have a free run of the White House, provided they say where they're going. 

Given that Rahm Emmanuel is played by Josh Lyman, albeit doing Leo McGarry's job, I can only imagine his face when those three burst into the situation room. 

Caption competition.

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Steve Bell comes good for me.

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Reading the tale of the so-unlikely-as-to-be-practically-impossible submarine accident yesterday, I thought I'd wait to blog about it until Steve Bell did the illustration for me. Having grown up on If.., which regularly featured randy whales wooing Trident submarines, it seemed unlikely I'd be disappointed.

Anyway, back to the subs. Next time someone tells you that GM technology or nuclear power can be trusted because the chances of an accident are vanishingly tiny, think about the "millions-to-one" chances of two nuclear-armed subs colliding. Or the "infinitesimal" odds of two satellites hitting each other in the vastness of orbit. Thanks Abbie for this chilling thought.

Obama, Churchill & the Mau Mau.

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churchillmohican.jpgChurchill remains the closest to a political saint we have, in the public mind, and he was clearly the right person to lead in 1940. I shudder to think what would have happened had Chamberlain not been removed in time. Nevertheless, Churchill's career has some substantial blots on it.

His campaigns in the Boer War have been cited as including the first implementation of concentration camps, and in 1919 he wrote in a memo that "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes" to "spread a lively terror". The specific targets were the Kurds, in what was then Mesopotamia. Gas may not have been used in the end, but either way it was a grim foreshadowing of Saddam's appalling barbarism in Halabja.

Much later, as Prime Minister for the second time, he ordered the repression of the 1952 Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. The ensuing torture caught up many uninvolved Kenyans, and just like many modern "anti-terror" campaigns, radicalised them and their friends and family too. One earlier victim of this approach was Hussein Onyango Obama, the President's grandfather. No wonder the bust's going back, even if Obama and Churchill are family.

Here's an unrelated but telling story about Onyango from Dreams From My Father, and another reminder to listen to the whole book if you haven't done so yet.

Not funny.

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Dutch Muslim-baiter Geert Wilders bears more than a passing resemblance to a Harry Enfield character, and even sounds like one, too. In fact, his politics appear to be nothing more than a pathetic rendition of Oi! Muslims! No! 

Portillo's right, though, banning him from entering the country has just given him bigot-cred and a faux civil liberties argument. Better to have ignored him, just like I probably should have. After all, we haven't deported all those BNP activists to Holland.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the International category from February 2009.

International: January 2009 is the previous archive.

International: March 2009 is the next archive.