Saturday, 19 March 2011


Libya was the nomadic gap between the civilizations of Egypt and Tunis. Until it was invaded by Italy and subsequently made into an oil kingdom, it was a purely tribal society, and the quarrel between Tripoli and Banghazi is the return of an ancient feud. For Westerners to get mixed up in it is horribly dangerous.

There is no denying that Gaddafi is a criminal lunatic, but much of the danger is the result of Blair's insane decision in 2003 that he was a friend of the West, to be courted and supplied with arms. Now Britain, France and America are committed to stopping the killing by remote control from the sky. Talk of 'pinpoint strikes' is wishful thinking; without guidance from the ground, rockets and bombs are blunt instruments. The strangest thing is that Russia and China signed up to this, given their own record of killing civilians; did they calculate that those who are already being referred to as 'the allies' would humiliate themselves by getting bogged down in tribal politics?

The best thing for Libya would be for the East to be handed to Egypt and the West to Tunis. I would also give eastern Algeria to Tunisia and the West to Morocco. The other tribal kingdoms would also be attached to ancient centres of civilization. To complete the job of reorganizing the Middle East, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon and Transjordan would be returned to Greater Syria, which would also take charge of the Hejaz with Mecca and Medina... Daydreams! But why should we all go on suffering for the foolish decisions taken at the end of World War I?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Don't be convinced by these experts who keep telling us that the nuclear breakdown in Japan "can't possibly become as bad as Chernobyl". They are cooling the stricken reactors with seawater, but everybody knows that if you evaporate seawater you are left with salt, so what happens when the pressure vessel is full of salt (melting point about 800 Celsius)? I doubt whether anybody knows the answer; the experiment has never been tried.

The amazing thing is that a nuclear energy plant was built at all in an area subject to earthquake and tsunami. It would be interesting to know what the experts said at the time the site was selected. Did they reassure the public that the safety systems were so good that failure was virtually impossible? Did they even feel it was necessary to tell the public anything?

The Japanese plant was run by a private company, so decisions were presumably governed by considerations of profit. This seems to be one more case that justifies public ownership of power generation. Free-marketeers argue for competition, but there can be no real competition when there is only one mains cable per household. You end up with the electric companies selling gas and the gas companies selling electricity and all trying to poach each other's customers with promises of short-term savings, and all that to maximize shareholders' dividends.