Thursday, 26 November 2009


How shocking that Obama's administration has announced that it will not sign a treaty banning land-mines! Does he imagine that they present any military advantage that will out-weigh the negative impact on his image? And where are we on cluster bombs and biological weapons? I don't follow military diplomacy, but I don't expect any surprises there either. This is all beginning to look like Clinton mark two.

On the home front I have been invaded by a rabbit whom I can only call Bushy. As soon as he arrived in the house he set about occupying my Iraqi carpet. He never crossed the frontier on to the Algerian one though. Lucky I don't have an Afghan rug. After a fortnight's occupation he suddenly launched himself at my ankle like an exocet, teeth foremost. He did it twice just in case I didn't understand the first time. My only offence was to walk across 'his' carpet. Next morning I offered him his democratic rights and left the French windows open. After five minutes thought he chose the garden. Now he has occupied the garage. I wonder whether a rabbit can gnaw a hole in a bicycle tyre.

I would have liked to get him vaccinated, but he never gave me a chance to catch him. I reckon he needs psychoanalysis. He was probably taken away from his mother too young, and his six weeks in a pet shop must have been traumatic. I am not in favour of pet-keeping anyway, so the whole episode has reinforced my prejudice.

Monday, 23 November 2009

It was amusing to see the conservative press shedding tears because the EU has not chosen A. Blair as the President of the Council. He is apparently the man 'who could stop the traffic in Peking'. Why not Baghdad? If he stepped into a road there several cars would drive straight at him, and good riddance. But I suppose all this is useful confirmation that the said Blair is the darling of all true-blue market fundamentalists. I haven't heard recently how he is getting on in his job as adviser to J P Morgan on their Iraq investments; perhaps business is not booming quite as he had hoped - or perhaps there are too many booms!

I read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine recently. One of the most interesting chapters describes how G W Bush privatized war. The US Army has been reduced to a provider of bodies for corporations to dress, feed, transport and arm. Haliburton, ex-VP Cheney's company, has done particularly well; they receive soldiers in gigantic camps that they have built all over Iraq and Afghanistan, just like a sort of military Butlins. All these corporations make huge profits out of supplying the army with everything it needs, and of course the US taxpayer foots the bill. The nasty thing is that if so many shareholders do so well out of war, they have a strong incentive to press for more wars. Now how about bombing Iran, you guys?

Having said that I can't resist the chance to have another dig at this horrible expression 'you guys'. It seems the word 'you' is just too short, like Spanish 'vos', which can't stand on its own but has to drag 'otros' along behind. Anyway, 'guy' is masculine. You couldn't possible call Madonna a guy. In the same language she is a 'doll'. So it gives me the creeps to hear a young woman saying to a group of women 'Hey you guys'. Just when we've all learnt that a minister or a doctor is not necessarily 'he', here comes sexist language again by the back door.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Somebody has complained about me not blogging. That is the nicest thing that has happened for months, and here is the response.

There was a news item a couple of days ago that really took my breath away. Obama is planning to send thousands of civilian advisers to Afghanistan to tell the Afghans how to run their country. There was a clip of these civilians training in their flak jackets and steel helmets. They will have to go around with military escorts and Afghan translators, so you can imagine the scene: 'Howdy folks! I'm your new civilian adviser; don't take no notice of these soldiers, they're just here to keep me company. Now Ahmad, explain that in Pashtoo.'

I had a visit from an American friend today. He's been in Saudi Arabia for most of the last twenty years, so he knows what happens when well-meaning Americans tell other countries how to run their affairs. He agreed that this idea of civilian advisers is just pathetic. I suppose it all goes back to the days when self-righteous puritans crossed the Atlantic to get away from the corruption of the Old World and set up their ideal society. They seem to have succeeded in handing down the idea that America is uniquely good, 'God's Own Country'.

It would be nice if we knew how to run our own countries. I came across a blog recently, saying that Labour has ruined this country 'as they always do'. In fact the financial collapse of the past two years is the long-term result of decisions taken in 1979, when Mrs Thatcher came to power. She subscribed to the thoery that countries progress from a primitive state in which they mainly produce raw materials, through an industrial stage, to become finally a 'service economy' that earns its way in the world by supplying services such as banking and insurance. Her government set about systematically demolishing the regulations that controlled the financial sector. The City has since just grown and grown. Labour's great mistake - and it was heartily embraced by Brown - was to continue this policy to the bitter end.