Friday, August 31, 2007

BBC still lying about Lebanon war casualties

Of all the distortions, half-truths and outright lies the BBC has published concerning the Middle East, one of the most egregious is its accounting of the casualties in last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah.

This story about an Israeli Arab who has died from wounds he received in a Hezbollah rocket attack during the war (I won't even get into what that says about Hezbollah's disregard for the lives of the people it claims to be fighting for) contains the following line:

Most of the 159 Israelis killed were soldiers. More than 1,000 Lebanese, most of them civilians, also died in the 34-day war.

The above line, or some variant of it, is inserted like a macro into every story about the Lebanon war that appears on the BBC's website. However, the most basic research shows that the claim that 'most' of the Lebanese casualties were civilians isn't true.

Most estimates, including those from the Lebanese government, the UN and Human Rights Watch put the total number of Lebanese dead – which includes both Hezbollah fighters and civilians – at between 1,000 and 1,200. While the Lebanese government figures didn't distinguish between civilians and fighters, its officials have estimated the number of Hezbollah dead at around 500, a figure with which the UN concurs. Israel claims to have killed at least 600 Hezbollah, while other estimates range from 700 t0 1,000. Links for all of the above references can be found here and here.

It is, of course, impossible to ascertain how many of the Lebanese casualties were civilian and how many were Hezbollah, given that Hezbollah hid and fought among civilians, its fighters often wore civilians clothes, and many of its wounded fighters were evacuated to Syria.

However, what is clear is that around half of the Lebanese casualties were Hezbollah fighters; in fact, if the lower figures for total Lebanese casualties and the upper figures for Hezbollah fighters are nearer the mark, then the majority of Lebanese casualties were Hezbollah. What clearly isn't true is the BBC's mantra that most of the Lebanese casualties were civilians.

The point of this post isn't to rehash the wider debate on civilian casualties in Lebanon or any other war, which has been well aired. The point is to draw attention to the fact that, more than a year after the war, the BBC continues to publish claims about civilian casualties which it must know to be false, and continues to play down the losses inflicted on Hezbollah.

The problems of the Middle East are intractable enough without the BBC – whose reports colour the perceptions of people around the world – constantly and deliberately distorting the debate, and demonising Israel at every turn.

UPDATE: Thanks to Theo Spark for the link, and welcome! I've been at this for exactly a month without attracting much attention, so if you've made it this far please stick around and check out some of my earlier stuff. You'll find amusing pictures of Barack Obama, comedy violence in Iraq, assorted Islamist high-jinks and more global warming hysteria than you can shake a stick at. Enjoy!

Ancient Gore-worshipping tribes discovered

It’s reassuring to know that there are remote corners of the earth that remain uncorrupted by the ravages or modernity; where the people live a simpler, more spiritual life, and where they still take Al Gore seriously.

In a gushing, uncritical story littered with generalisations and inaccuracies, the BBC reports that hill tribes in a remote part of India are honouring the world’s favourite hypocrite, fantasist and serial liar for his efforts to promote awareness of climate change.
The Khasi tribes in the Indian state of Meghalaya – a noble people renowned for their expertise in tropospheric temperature analysis and climate modelling – claim their way of life is under threat from global warming.

"We hope Mr Gore would be able to bring global attention to what we are facing in our part of the world," Meghalaya parliament member Robert Kharshing said.

"This whole thing called climate change is affecting us the most."

The report coos that ‘Meghalaya - literally "Abode of the Clouds" - is home to the towns of Cherrapunji and Mawsynram, which vie for the title of wettest place on earth’.

But rampant deforestation and global warming mean these areas are getting less rain, while the soil is not able to hold water that does arrive, environmentalists say.

Surely, if this is the wettest place on earth, they’re not going to miss a bit of rain – and anyway, aren’t the alarmists always telling us that global warming will mean more rain?

But there’s more:

The tribes people say that they are also at risk from a greater influx of migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, where global warming has increased the demand for living space because large coastal regions have become submerged.

Of course no evidence is offered to support this claim. Bangladesh has always suffered from cyclones and other storms, and its geography makes it particularly vulnerable to flooding – I can remember regular appeals to alleviate such disasters at least 30 years ago. There’s no proof that global warming has led to an increase in the severity of storms, or in the rate of sea level rise, in Bangladesh or anywhere else.

But none of this is to take away from Gore’s achievement. A spokeswoman said the Goracle was "humbled" to hear of the award, but was unsure if he could attend the ceremony.

He is, after all a busy man – so little time, so much misinformation to disseminate! Then again, perhaps he won’t be going because he’s heard that the award will consist of traditional gifts, including local handicrafts, and a "small amount of money".

Don’t these peasants know who they’re dealing with? If you want Gore to come to town you’re going to need to find an extremely large amount of money.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We'll ethnically cleanse a place for you…

Genocidal dictators clearly have a soft spot for the Palestinians. Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir has offered to take in Palestinian refugees who are stranded on Iraq's borders with Syria and Jordan, their fortunes having declined since the fall of Saddam, who championed the Palestinian cause in a bid to court popularity with the Arab world. Bashir probably figures he can use them to bolster the ranks of his death squads.

And isn't it funny how all the Arab governments of the Middle East are happy to turn a blind eye to the plight of Palestinians unless it's perceived to be Israel's fault?

Another day, another scare story

The BBC's global warming scare story of the day claims that climate change 'may carry a higher risk of flooding than was previously thought'. It's a particularly un-earth shattering piece about CO2 possibly affecting the ability of plants to release excess water into the atmosphere, causing the ground to become saturated – but it does contain a couple of interesting points.

For a start, the report says: "The findings suggest computer models of future climate change may need to be revised in order to plan for coming decades." What? Are they saying that existing computer models could be wrong?

Then, a few paragraphs later: "A team led by Dr Richard Betts from the Met Office has modelled how this will affect climate change predictions."

So let me get this straight: the current, hopelessly inaccurate and widely discredited climate change models may need to be revised based on assumptions reached via more computer modelling. A case of two plus two equalling five if ever there was one.

Even if the research proves correct, however, the scientists concede that the ground-saturation effect will have benefits, as well as causing problems:

"It's a double-edged sword," said Dr Betts, "it means that increases in drought due to climate change could be less severe as plants lose less water.

"On the other hand, if the land is saturated more often, you might expect that intense rainfall events are more likely to cause flooding."

This is a recurring theme in the climate change debate: even if warming beyond that caused by naturally occurring climate and solar cycles is happening (which hasn't been proven), and even if man is causing it (which hasn't been proven either), any warming will certainly have positive consequences which will mitigate, and possibly outweigh, the negative effects.

In this case the BBC's report only concedes this fact in a single line at the end of the story, while the headline focuses purely on the flooding risk – but even this is an improvement on most of its reporting, which relentlessly hammers home the 'we're all doomed' message, and refuses to report on the dozens of studies published in the last few months that suggest otherwise.

A case in point: the BBC has largely declined to report on a number of studies that suggest the Earth's climate is largely driven by the output of the Sun (although the fairly reliable Newsnight programme and its website did feature Nigel Calder and Henrik Svensmark's book The Chilling Stars).

However, when British researchers published an article claiming there was no link between the sun and global warming, the BBC, and in particular environment correspondent Richard Black, jumped all over it (the report was remarkably similar to this one from a couple of years ago), with Black crowing that the new research "appears to have put a large, probably fatal nail in this intriguing and elegant hypothesis".

Since then, the report that Black got so excited about has itself been debunked in several articles, including two published by the US-based Science and Public Policy Institute.

The first article concludes: 'The authors of the paper are reported to have been “galvanized” into writing it as a response to “misleading media reports” regarding the role of the Sun. Accordingly, there is evidence of political motivation rather than objective scientific research.' The second article concludes: 'This paper is so flawed that it is remarkable that it was published.'

The BBC hasn't, as yet, seen fit to report on either article.

If you read just one blog post…

…this week – or, for that matter ever – make it this one. It's the most comprehensive, well-researched and link-packed piece I've seen on how the MSM have mis-reported the Iraq war. Read the whole thing, and check out some of the links; it's educational and blood-boiling in equal measure.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Body counts in Iraq: a double standard

Reports by the BBC about insurgents being killed by US and Iraqi forces are rarer than hens’ teeth, but even the Beeb couldn’t brush under the carpet the news that US and Iraqi forces killed 33 bad guys in a single operation on Monday.

The fact that coaliton forces have to kill this many of the enemy in order to make it on to the front page of the BBC and other news websites is a good indication of the difficulties they face in trying to win an information war that pits them against not just the insurgents, but against a cynical and hyper-critical media.

Whereas the MSM regularly reports on suicide bomb attacks that kill four or five Iraqis, it appears the coalition needs to get into at least double figures for enemy dead, and ideally the twenties and thirties, to make the headlines.

A quick look through the press releases on the MNF-I website reveals that at least 55 other insurgents have been taken out by US and Iraqi forces since Sunday, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the major news websites – CNN, for example, prefers to lead its Iraq news section with a story about whistleblowers being punished for exposing corruption in reconstruction projects.

The bad news from Iraq and Afghanistan is easy to find, but if you want to hear the positive news don’t hold your breath waiting for the MSM to report it. Visit Bill Roggio and Victory Caucus, or the MNF-I website.

Some commentators, notably Hugh Hewitt, think the military and the Bush administration should be less reticent about flagging up numbers of enemy dead. Opponents of the body count argument warn that it could cause soldiers to go on indiscriminate killing sprees to 'get the numbers up', and encourage insurgents to carry out even more mass-casualty attacks. However, I'm fairly sure that the terrorists are already trying as hard as they can to cause murder and mayhem, and the troops are well aware by now of how sensitive the public and the media are to civilian casualties.

Oh, and another thing you won’t be hearing at the top of the hour: by its own admission, al-Qaeda in Iraq’s ability to launch attacks has been dramatically diminished in the past couple of months.

Gore to spend $500 million on debate that's 'over'

Planet Gore at NRO reports that the world's leading advertising agencies are battling to win the account for eco-alarmists Alliance for Climate Protection, an organization formed last year by Al Gore and friends. ACP envisages spending over $100 million a year for the next three to five years.

These sums make the 'well-funded denial industry' that Gore regularly complains about look like a kitchen table operation – and that's before you start counting the hundreds of millions doled out every year by environmental charities, governments and the UN. And you have to wonder why Gore needs to spend $500 million to get his message across when the science is supposedly settled, and the debate 'over'.

Then again, it's not been a great couple of weeks for the alarmists.

Afghans offended by US footballs

There's no pleasing some people.

Monday, August 27, 2007

UK troops betrayed by their government

William Rees-Mogg has a powerful piece in today's London Times on how Gordon Brown's government is failing British troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a depressing tale of how the culmination of ten years of political neglect and underfunding is having a devastating effect on both morale and on operational capabilities – and how more troops are being killed and wounded as a direct result.

Rees-Mogg points out that, as a percentage of national income, defence expenditure is lower than at any time since the early 1930s (and we all know what happened at the end of that decade). While some cuts were inevitable after the collapse of Soviet Union, he adds, "the rundown continued, even after Britain had been committed to a war on two fronts in the Middle East".

As well as operational problems caused by massive cuts in the military budget (in addition to the well-documented shortages of armoured vehicles, the British don't, for example, have enough helicopters to effectively evacuate their wounded), Rees-Mogg highlights the almost slum conditions in which many soldiers' families live in Britain; it's hardly fair to ask to ask a man to fight, and possibly die, for a country that won't even look after his wife and children.

On top of all this, Rees-Moog writes about how soldiers in the field are being forced to fight with one hand tied behind their backs due to an aversion to casualties (which paradoxically is leading to increased casualties) and other political considerations:

At a time when the Basra palace was being hit by 40 to 50 rockets a day, the soldiers would have liked to sort out the people firing the rockets. In practice, there were political inhibitions against such action. Junior officers felt that there was a total lack of clarity about objectives.

Both in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were lurking convictions that our troops were not fighting to win, but for some sort of draw, with withdrawal or the realignment of local crimes as the real objectives. In this respect, American tactics were probably more effective.

Rees-Mogg is also critical of Gordon Brown's bizarre decision to retain Des Browne as Secretary of State for Defence, while simultaneously appointing him as Secretary of State for Scotland – as if the political responsibility for running two wars was one that could be discharged in between visits to the Highland Games and a shortbread factory.

In the US the debate is about when to bring the troops home from Iraq. In the UK, that decision appears to have already been taken. The debate now – and it's one that very few people are interested in – is whether or not we'll give our troops what they need to prevail in Afghanistan, and, looking further ahead, whether we're prepared to provide the money and the political will to sustain any kind of effective Armed Forces at all.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Obama doctrine

Via Instapundit: The New Republic's James Kirchick on the confusions and contradictions at the heart of Barack Obama's foreign policy.

The new JFK? More like the new Jimmy Carter.

No so trigger-happy

In its reporting of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's nothing the mainstream media loves more than stories about 'cavalier' and 'trigger-happy' American forces causing civilian casualties. However, as these stories from The New York Post and Michael Yon testify, US commanders will often run the risk of allowing bad guys to get away, rather than firing on a target that hasn't been positively identified.

Both pieces offer an insight into the procedures that are followed before the decision as to whether or not to attack a target is made, the technology employed and the sheer number of people involved.

Aside from the front-line correspondents, the media's experience of combat is largely confined to fighting their way to the bar after work on a Friday. Yet they feel qualified to judge soldiers for decisions made in the heat of battle, carelessly tossing around terms like 'blunder', and demanding that those responsible for tragic accidents face 'justice'.

Afghan children brutalised by crusading infidels

What, you mean you didn't see this on CNN? Watch all three clips in the series.

Friday, August 24, 2007

72 pieces for 72 virgins

I won't be posting graphically violent videos on this blog; however I think this one falls into the Cartoon Violence category. Hot Air has a slow-motion version, although I don't think it has the same impact, if you'll pardon the pun.

Given what the guy's friends are shouting just before it all goes pear-shaped, I don't think Divine Intervention can be ruled out. Or maybe the mortar was made by ACME – if so those jihadis might be bringing a wrongful death suit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Muslims get cross about cross-dressing

Just when you thought there were no mildly deviant but enjoyable activities left for the Islamists to take offence at, along comes the neighbourhood sharia watch committee in the Nigerian city of Bauchi.

Muslim youths in the city rioted after a court granted bail to five of 18 men who had been charged with the ‘crime’ of cross-dressing ­after being arrested in a hotel room (presumably the high heels made escape impossible).

All 18 face harsh punishment when ­– sorry if – convicted. "Any (male) person who dresses... in the fashion of a woman in a public place... will be liable to a term of one year or 30 lashes" said a spokesman for the local sharia police.

By way of explaining this madness, the BBC report informs us that ‘Nigeria, like many African countries, is a conservative society where homosexuality is considered a taboo.’ The BBC would have you think that ‘conservative’ is the operative word here. However, the reason Nigerians in that part of the country flog their cross-dressers, rather than simply picking fault with their choice of outfit, is not because it’s a conservative society, but because it’s an Islamic society.

At some point in the future the BBC and their fellow-travelers on the left are going to have to take sides, and decide whether their enthusiasm for Islam as some kind of imagined counterweight to the US and free market capitalism, and the associated desire to respect and promote it, outweigh their impulse to defend cross-dressers, homosexuals and sexual freedom in general.

However, it has to be said that in the case of Nigeria, Western governments bear a good deal of responsibility too. Just as with the Middle East our relationship with Nigeria is complicated by the fact that it’s a major oil producer, so we tend to give them a pass on human rights abuses.

The sooner we can wean ourselves off oil, and deprive the dictators of Africa and the Middle East of their ill-gotten fortunes, the better life will be for an awful lot of people, not least the persecuted trannies of Bauchi.

Monday, August 20, 2007

BBC vetoes Islamic terror storyline

While I freely admit that I absolutely have it in for the BBC, I've got better things to do than write posts about them every five minutes - but they just keep walking into it. This morning the UK's Telegraph reports that the Beeb has dropped plans to film an episode of its hospital drama Casualty featuring an attack by a Muslim suicide bomber.

Senior BBC executives, reports the Telegraph, "had discussed the plotline in a development meeting but were overruled by the corporation's editorial guidelines department amid fears it would cause offence".

This would be fair enough if the BBC didn't want to offend anyone, ever; but this is the same BBC that brings you the spy drama Spooks, which has featured evil CIA agents, evil Israelis and evil anti-abortion activists among its gallery of villains.

Now, even given my general loathing of the BBC, there's a special dark, dank corner in the pits of my heart reserved for Casualty. The show is melodrama at its worst: badly written and badly acted, while at the same time being painfully earnest and 'issue-driven'; and on top of all that, when I lived in a part of Bristol (in South-west England) where they did a lot of location filming for the show they used to close roads and tow residents' cars away with impunity. And one of the blokes in the props department owes me £500. However, the people who watch this drivel are the sort of people who don't read books, or newspaper articles that aren't about celebrities; in other words they're the kind of people who, if they're ever going to learn about Islamic extremism, will have to learn about it from a second-rate TV drama. And if the BBC has its way, that's never going to happen.

Mind you, even if they had made the show, the suicide bomber would doubtless have come across as a sympathetic figure driven to extremism by British and American foreign policy, so maybe we had a lucky escape after all.

The Telegraph has a slightly less personal editorial on the subject.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

US commanders lament British failure in Basra

Interesting piece in the UK's Sunday Telegraph about how US commanders in Iraq are becoming increasingly alarmed by Britain's plans to pull out of southern Iraq, and the problems they're leaving behind. Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings institution sums up the situation thus:

Basra is a mess, and the exit strategy attempted there has failed. It is, for the purposes of future Iraq policymaking, an example of what not to do.

Meanwhile, a senior advisor to President Bush is warning that the British withdrawal, when it comes, will be far from painless.

The British government under new Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made it clear that it wants no further part in Iraq, and the various Shia militias, including Iran's proxies, can smell blood. While the Americans are making progress by taking the fight to the enemy, the British, hobbled by orders from their political bosses, are hunkered down in their bases; they've surrendered the initiative, and are suffering more casualties as a result.

How long before Brown decides we need to worm our way out of Afghanistan as well?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The BBC: Lying or just mistaken?

Update: Thanks to Tim at ConservativeHome for the link. If you're a first-time visitor welcome, and please take a minute to check out my earlier posts – I've only been going for three weeks so it won't take you long!

IN THE PAST week or so the BBC has published three stories containing factual errors regarding issues of international concern: the lead-up to the Iraq war, the integrity of the Bush administration and the start of the Palestinian intifada against Israel in 2000. I’ll deal with them in ascending order of seriousness.

1. The French predicted the current problems in Iraq, and warned the US accordingly.

In a story about President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent meeting with President Bush, William Horsley, the BBC’s European affairs correspondent wrote:

But it is also true that the issue of Iraq has been set aside, with the French careful not to say (too loudly): "We told you so."

The implication here is that the French predicted what would happen after an invasion of the Iraq, and warned the US accordingly. France, of course, never ‘told’ the US that its efforts to bring stability to Iraq would be undermined by al-Qaeda’s attempts to provoke a civil war, and by Iran and Syria pouring weapons and fighters into the country in a bid to stop democracy taking root.

Jacques Chirac’s decision to oppose the war may have been dictated in some part by concerns about possible consequences, but it was largely informed by his need to pander to crude anti-Americanism at home, and the desire to protect lucrative oil and arms deals with Iraq.

This particular remark is probably more of a throwaway remark, and a jibe at Bush, than anything else, but it nicely encapsulates the worldview of the average BBC journalist: Europe good and wise, America (especially under the Republicans) bad and stupid.

2. Valerie Plame was a covert CIA agent when her identity was revealed, leading to the prosecution of Scooter Libby.

This report and several other BBC stories on the resignation of Karl Rove include the stock sentence:

“Mr Rove was also investigated in connection with the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame, though prosecutors decided he should not face any charges.”

As has been made abundantly clear, including here , here (by the man who broke the story which led to the inquiry) and here , Valerie Plame was not exposed, because she was not undercover. You can read testimony on the subject of Plame’s status given to a Senate committee here.

Are we to believe that no BBC journalist involved with reporting or editing the many stories about the Libby trial was aware of this fact? Unlikely, but then the BBC’s reporting of the entire Libby affair and other so-called scandals has been simplified and one-sided.

3. The 2000 Middle East peace talks between Israel broke down because of the Palestian intifada, rather than the intransigence of Yasser Arafat.

This third inaccuracy is the most dangerous, and the least forgivable. A story about Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak playing down hopes of a peace deal in the middle East includes the following:

(Barak) was prime minister in the late 1990s and came close to reaching a peace agreement that would have given up much of the West Bank to the Palestinians.

The talks - which included a Camp David summit with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and US President Bill Clinton - broke down after the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada (uprising) in late 2000.

This is inaccurate. The peace talks effectively broke down (although there were subsequent token efforts to revive the process) in July 2000, after Yasser Arafat rejected what is widely considered to be the most favourable peace deal ever offered to the Palestinians and walked out of the Camp David summit. The intifada began in September, and as a number of Palestinian leaders have admitted, it had been in planning ever since the peace talks broke down.

It’s also commonly reported by the BBC and other news organizations that the Intifada was caused by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount. Again, Palestinians have admitted that this wasn't the case, and that Sharon's was simply used as a pretext for the uprising.

The inference that those who get their news from the BBC are invited to draw is that the Camp David summit, and that round of Middle East peace talks, failed because of the provocative actions of Sharon.

And that’s just a weeks worth of dishonesty and inaccuracy.

I have no doubt that there are some journalists who go to work at the BBC every day with the intention of lying, and distorting facts, in an effort to impose a leftist worldview on people who trust the organization to produce impartial reports (see here for evidence of that mentality).

Others most likely mean well, but tend to slant their reporting to suit their soft-left views, and theirs tend to be sins of omission – failing to report facts that don’t suit their narrative – rather than outright dishonesty. Still others, despite being superficially well educated, are simply not that bright; they are simply unable to understand the nuances of complex stories, and their reporting and editing serves to dumb down and unintentionally misinform.

All of the above would be bad enough if the BBC were an independent news organization with a clear political bias, stated or otherwise. However, the BBC receives hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to help it disseminate what are at best gross inaccuracies, and at worst outright lies, about the most important issues facing the world today. It’s hugely influential and widely trusted, and informs the views of people in every corner of the globe.

The sooner a campaign is launched to either scrap the license fee altogether, or at the very least remove funding for news provision, the better. In the meantime you're better off getting your news from just about anywhere other than the BBC.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why cats need all nine lives in Gaza

To lighten the mood in between shows that teach Palestinian children to hate Jews, Hamas TV has been showing footage of animals being abused at Gaza Zoo.

The film, which features an actor dressed as a bee (why?) swinging cats by their tails and throwing stones at lions, is apparently supposed to show children how not to treat animals, although the nuances are likely to be lost on a generation raised on casual violence and the glorification of death.

Even US animal rights extremists Peta, most of whose fanatics probably turn a blind eye to the daily killing of human beings by Hamas, have criticised the show.

Perhaps if the Americans would just talk to Hamas, and Israel lift its blockade of Gaza, then the animals of Gaza will be able to live in peace with their Palestinian neighbours.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

British MPs surrender to the Islamists

Harry Reid may think the US has lost the war in Iraq, but according to a committee of British MPs the UK has lost the entire War on Terror (although, as you’ll see, we can’t call it that anymore). That’s certainly the impression you’ll get if you read the Foreign Affairs Committee’s report Global Security: The Middle East. It’s effectively one long document of surrender to Islamic extremism. The MPs responsible might as well meet Osama bin Laden, Sheikh Nasrallah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the deck of a battleship and make it official.

The report is part crawling apology to extremism and part multi-cultural reconciliation fantasy, sprinkled with liberal (in every sense of the word) doses of anti-Americanism and Israel-bashing. You can read the whole thing if you have the time, but the conclusions, for what they're worth, are here.

Of the many gems of ignorance, selective omission and outright denial contained in the report, perhaps the most highly polished is the committee’s claim that, contrary to the conventional wisdom in Washington and Bagdhad, the current Surge in Iraq is doomed to fail. “It is too early to provide a definitive assessment of the US 'surge', but it does not look likely to succeed,” the MPs say.

And the witnesses interviewed by the committee are, of course, supremely well-qualified to report on the current situation in Iraq. They comprise several academics, a smattering of Foreign Office diplomacy fetishists and Kim Howells, one of Labour’s leading left-wingers and critics of Israel. Scanning the list, I was surprised not to see the name of Dr Happy Golucky, emeritus professor of Wishful Thinking at the University of Cloud Cuckoo Land. To the best of my knowledge, none of the witnesses has visited Iraq recently, and most have never been there. No representatives of the US government or military were invited to appear before the committee, although the MPs may well have held an uncredited conference call with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Moving on to Israel and the Palestinians, the committee criticises the approach of the UK and US (those nit-picking demands to 'renounce terror'!), and calls on former British PM and new Middle East envoy Tony Blair to “urgently consider” engaging with Hamas. This, of course, is the same Hamas who seized power after killing hundreds of its opponents, who have vowed to destroy Israel and whose thugs, reports AP:

“clubbed and slammed rifle butts into opponents staging a rare protest Monday, seizing the cameras of journalists covering the event and raiding media offices to prevent news footage from getting out”.

If the committee is suggesting that Mr Blair needs to talk to Hamas, then in fairness it should also advise him to take a parachute to the discussions, just in case he tells Hamas something they don’t want to hear during a meeting on one of the upper floors of the Gaza City Four Seasons.

The committee also “welcomes” the role of Hamas in the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston. It probably hasn’t read Melanie Phillips’ recent article, in which she explains in detail how the whole affair was basically a Hamas public relations stunt in which the BBC enthusiastically acquiesced.

Turning to last year’s Lebanon war, the committee makes superficial criticisms of both sides before singling out Israel for special attention, saying that elements of its military action in Lebanon were “indiscriminate and disproportionate.” This presumably, is as opposed to those highly- discriminating, GPS-guided Katyusha rockets that Hezbollah aimed exclusively at Israeli military installations with such unwavering precision.

The report goes on: “We conclude that both arms smuggling to Hezbollah and Israeli overflights into sovereign Lebanese territory threaten to undermine and embarrass the Government of Lebanon, as well as the UNIFIL forces operating in the south.” Of course, if the UNIFIL forces weren’t utterly incapable of preventing the smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah, and of stopping Hezbollah from reinforcing fighting positions in preparation for the next assault on Israel, then the Israelis wouldn’t have to carry out overflights.

The MPs also say the UK government's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon last summer has “done significant damage to the UK's reputation in much of the world”. Damage in the eyes of the UN and the ‘international community’, perhaps, but not in the eyes of rational observers, who know that the best way to stop Hezbollah meddling in the affairs of Lebanon, and attacking Israel, is for Israel to destroy it as a fighting force, which we now know it was within days of doing.

The committee goes on to call for contacts with the Syrian government to be resumed, just a few paragraphs after calling for “those who assassinated Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri” – in other words the Syrian government – to be “brought to justice”.

You’re probably getting the idea by now.

Moving on to Iran, the committee says: “We conclude that it is vital that the UK and the international community engage constructively and coherently with Iran on these difficult issues.” This has to be worth a go – after all Ahmadinejad and the mullahs are nothing if not constructive and coherent. This committee doesn’t elaborate on this point, but not to worry – they're going to produce a separate report on the matter.

Talking in general terms about UK diplomacy in the region, the MPs conclude that: “the use by Ministers of phrases such as 'war on terror' and 'arc of extremism' is unhelpful, and that such oversimplifications may lead to dangerous policy implications. We agree with the Minister for the Middle East (Howells) that these phrases cause unnecessary resentment”. What phrases shall we use instead? ‘Initiative to prevent occasional and completely out of character acts of mass murder’ perhaps? ‘Crescent of enlightenment’?

If you sat Mahatma Ghandi, the Dalai Lama and John Lennon around a campfire and got them stoned they couldn’t have produced a document less grounded in reality. Platitudes and cart-before-the horse logic abound, and at every turn the committee’s conclusions are the same: everyone’s equally to blame (but Israel more equally than others), there are no really bad people here (except perhaps the Israelis), and if we just sit down and talk then everything can be sorted out.

It’s too much to hope that new British PM Gordon Brown will treat this report with the contempt it deserves, but if he’s foolish enough to pay lip service to it, and the collection of cross-party political pygmies who produced it, then it will demonstrate beyond doubt that he lacks the courage and single-mindedness of his predecessor, and is ready to desert our American and Israeli allies and abandon the millions of people in the Middle East who yearn to be freed from tyranny and terror.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Global warming takes a sabbatical

British scientists have come up with a great way of shutting down the debate on global warming for a few years – they say it's stopped for the time being, but will start again in 2010.

A major problem for the warming alarmists is that since 1998, when the global average temperature reached 14.54C (the highest figure since accurate records began, although of course it has been much higher in the past), temperatures have stubbornly refused to exceed that level; this is in spite of CO2 emissions continuing to increase – and as we all know, increased emissions are supposed to mean more warming.

Now researchers at the UK's Met Office – which famously has difficulty predicting the weather for next week, never mind next decade – are claiming that temperatures will remain stable until 2010, after which they'll rocket upwards. And how do they know this? Why, they created a computer model of course!

Undeterred by recent studies discrediting climate modeling, the Met Office scientists used "powerful computer simulations" (does anyone use feeble computer simulations?) to create "the world's first global warming forecast". So these guys were believers to start with, and, as has been well-documented, you can make a computer model show pretty much anything you want it to if you put the right data in, so if they set out to forecast global warming, it's no surprise that they found it.

According to the report, the scientists predict that "temperatures will stall because of natural climate effects that have seen the Southern Ocean and tropical Pacific cool over the past couple of years". After 2010 they will begin to rise steadily, and after 2014 they'll increase more rapidly.

So this allows at least three or four years for the alarmists to pedal their wares; for governments to levy taxes on travel and all manner of other things "for the sake of the planet"; and for businesses to push us towards buying more expensive 'eco-friendly' products. And if anyone points out that temperatures aren't actually rising they can say: "We know that, but they will."

For anyone who still thinks the science is 'settled', here's a video of some real scientists, as opposed to weathermen, working with actual evidence, as opposed to computer predictions:

Update: This just in from Tim Blair – Nasa has been checking its figures, and has revealed that the hottest year on record is not, in fact, 1998 but 1934. Yet another setback for the alarmists. All bets are off!

Dems get the BBC's vote – again

Just in case anyone's in any doubt as to where the BBC's loyalties lie when it comes to US politics, here's further proof: of the Beeb's choice of six 'key stories' about the 2008 presidential race, three are positive stories about the Democrats, one's a neutral story on the Democrats YouTube debate, and two are negative stories about Republicans.

I'm baffled by what motivates the Beeb. It can't hope to cover the candidates and the issues in the same depth as the US media, and its reporting is unlikely to influence anyone outside of a few UK-based Americans, but still it cheers for the Democrats as if the election were tomorrow and too close to call, and it thinks it can still win over crucial swing voters.

Okay, I'm not that baffled.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

So it's a civil war, is it?

Via Bill Roggio: According to the Kuwait News Agency, Iraqi officials at a security conference in Damascus revealed that they've got more than 2,700 foreigners in their jails, including 800 Iranians – I wonder what the Iranian delegate had to say. Haven't seen this reported in the Western media yet, which is hardly surprising, as it doesn't fit the narrative that this is an civil war between Iraqis, and if we just left they'd sort out their differences free of foreign interference.

When can we get a Terminator?

Daniel Engber at Slate has an interesting piece on the latest weird and wonderful gadgets being developed by the US's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. These are the people who brought you everything from the internet to the Stealth Bomber, and their latest inventions include a wall-climbing lizard-bot, insect cyborgs and a contraption that enables scuba divers to swim like dolphins, as well as projects with more practical applications, including instant audio translation software.

NYT pits Brits against US

After suffering a number of setbacks in its bid to bring about the defeat of the US and its allies in Iraq, the New York Times has turned its attention to Afghanistan in its relentless quest to undermine the War on Terror. The Times reports that a senior British officer has asked US Special Forces to leave his area of operations, because he blames them for high levels of civilian casualties that are turning the local population against Nato forces.

British, US and Nato officials all deny that such a request has been made, although there have long been concerns about civilian casualties. As the times reports:

It is in fact the possibility of the population turning against them, or the unpopularity of the campaign back home, that most concerns the military, one NATO military official said. “We know we can beat the Taliban on the ground,” the official said. “The issue is the population.”

The Taliban know this, and they know that civilian casualties are one of their most effective weapons; they operate with callous disregard for the people they hide among, and exaggerate accounts of civilian deaths knowing that they'll be lapped up by a media more eager to report on setbacks than success.

Unfortunately, Nato can't beat the Taliban on the ground without US airpower, which is responsible for most Taliban casualties, and which is often directed by US Special Forces. The Times loves to paint a picture of US 'cowboys' undermining the 'softly-softly' approach of its more sophisticated European allies, but all troops know they have nothing to gain, and everything to lose by causing the deaths of civilians.

If you gave the Afghan people the choice between a relatively small number of civilian deaths and the return of the Taliban's brutal rule over the country, I know which option they'd choose.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Where's the outrage?

On Monday I posted on the controversy being caused by Jihad – The Musical at the Edinburgh Festival.

A petition complaining about the show has been set up on the No 10 Downing Street website, but apparently it isn't being taken as seriously as it ought to be. Where's the carefully orchestrated outrage? What's happened to the fabled Muslim street?

Taliban go over the top

Looks like a rethink is needed at Taliban Infantry School – those 'Battle of the Somme' tactics clearly aren't working. Unfortunately for the jihadis, however, because Afghanistan is less populous and less developed than Iraq they don't have much success with IEDs and one-man suicide attacks, so company-level, fixed-bayonet suicide attacks remain their favoured tactic.

Sadly we don't have footage of the latest turkey shoot, but it probably went down something like this…

…the only differences being there were no friendly casualties, and the bugs are obviously a more honourable opponent than the Taliban.

Who would you rather have living next door?

The British government has delayed a decision on whether to grant asylum to 91 Iraqi interpreters and their families who face imprisonment, torture and death when British forces pull out of southern Iraq, leaving the region at the mercy of Iranian-controlled police, militias and politicians. However, Gordon Brown is a lot keener to welcome into the country five men currently being held at Guantanamo Bay who aren't British citizens, but were at some point resident in the country before embarking on various adventures overseas.

Britain has a tenuous responsibility to the five at best. The US hasn't charged them with any specific offence, presumably because, as is often the case with terror suspects, while they're believed to pose a threat the evidence against them wouldn't stand up in court. If they return to the UK they'll either be given their freedom or, if the British authorities take the same view of their status as the Americans, be placed under 'control orders' – which, as we've seen recently, amounts to pretty much the same thing.

Britain has at least as much responsibility towards those who have risked their lives to help our soldiers as it does to those who take advantage of our lax immigration policies to temporarily set up home here. Sadly the fate of those brave Iraqis appears to concern Brown less than posturing over the fate of the Guantanamo five in a bid to score points with members of the anti-war, anti-American lobby who think he's not doing a good enough job of distancing himself from George Bush.

The Telegraph thinks Brown is playing a dangerous game, while the Times believes the US is calling Britain's bluff.

Barack Obomba

Mitt Romney on Barack Obama: "He's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week."

Thanks to Gateway Pundit for linking!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Whales vs the US Navy

This is a tricky one. Who (other than plankton) doesn't love whales? On the other hand, can you image the militaries of China, Russia or Iran being constrained by such environmental niceties?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Where we are now

Dean Barnett has an epic post on the current state of thinking over Iraq at Hugh Hewitt, complete with bumper sticker.

Daily Show on Live Earth

This just about covers all the bases of stupidity and hypocrisy…

More hangings in Iran

The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest wave of executions. Seems I was way too conservative with my numbers in my post on Wednesday.

BBC falls for the old 'civilian casualties' routine

Most people agree that civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are a bad thing. US and coalition forces go out of their way to avoid civilian casualties. But the BBC loves civilian casualties. The BBC eats, sleeps and drinks civilian casualties. To paraphrase Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, the BBC has a hard-on for civilian casualties.

Sometime last Thursday Nato attacked a gathering of senior Taleban leaders. This is how the BBC reported the story. Note the opening paragraph:

About 50 Afghan civilians have been wounded in an air strike by US-led forces on a group of Taleban leaders holding a meeting in Helmand province.

This information isn't attributed to anyone. It's reported as a fact, not a claim, and the story goes on to suggest that Nato killed and wounded dozens of innocent people in the process of killing three Taleban.

However, an update on this story from Reuters – which isn't normally shy about criticising US and Nato forces – suggests that few, if any civilians were killed in the attack, and up to 150 bad guys were. The Reuters report adds that most of the wounded brought to local hospitals were men of fighting age, and none were women. A Nato press release tells the same story, and also illustrates the lengths to which Nato went to establish whether civilians had been injured in that attack.

From a strictly journalistic standpoint it would have made more sense for the BBC to wait another day and provide a more accurate account, but in its eagerness to put out a story that was damaging to Nato, the BBC was happy to report claims of mass civilian casualties without waiting for corroboration. The BBC hasn't as yet seen fit to update the story, presumably because it doesn't fit the narrative.

This isn't the first time the BBC has unquestioningly reported exaggerated claims of civilian casualties. Back in June it carried a report of 20 headless bodies being found in Iraq; the story was later proved to have been fabricated, but the BBC, to the best of my knowledge, didn't retract its report. And almost everyday it carries unsubstantiated claims of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan; sometimes these reports will be accurate, but often they're simply enemy propaganda which the BBC and other MSMers are only too happy to broadcast.

Our soldiers and airmen go to extraordinary lengths to avoid causing civilian casualties, often at great risk to their own safety. However, civilians are sometimes killed, especially when the enemy makes a point of hiding among them, and when they are it's important to put those deaths into context – what you won't learn from the BBC is that most weeks Nato is killing hundreds of Taleban in Afghanistan.

Getting accurate reports out amid claim, counter-claim and deliberate attempts to spread misinformation is hard, but it's time the BBC stopped reporting rumours and started reporting the facts – and the good news as well as the bad.

Jihad the Musical

Via Mark Steyn at the The Corner: A musical satire on terrorism is causing a stir at the Edinburgh Festival in Britain. And it's not just some silly comic rant either – as you can see from this clip the production values are pretty slick, and the music and lyrics worthy of Ebb and Kanter, who addressed the rise of an equally evil ideology in a similar style with Cabaret.

A lot of people will say this is an inappropriate subject for a musical, but when our media and politicians fail to do a proper job of exposing jihadists for the deluded sociopaths that they are then we need to look for other mediums, and we may as well enjoy a little light relief while we're at it. However I'll be very surprised if any West End or Broadway theatre has the courage to bring this show to a mass audience.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Even in sleepy Switzerland, the left hate freedom of thought

French rapper Doc Gyneco sparks a riot for not conforming to type. Gyneco supports right-of-centre French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and has the temerity not to promote violence and car-burning in his songs.

Now THIS is an assault on civil liberties

If Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are so concerned about the threat that government wiretapping poses to civil liberties, no doubt we can expect them to condemn Robert Mugabe's latest move to curtail said liberties in Zimbabwe.

Or perhaps not, given the Democrats' fondness for dictators other than the one they imagine occupies the White House, and the key role that the granddaddy of the American loony left, Jimmy Carter, played in bringing Mugabe to power – this superb piece by the Weekly Standard's James Kirchick is a fascinating account of a little-reported episode that's particularly shameful, even by the standards of the Carter years.

Do they want us to win?

The US House of Representatives has passed wiretap legislation that will make it harder for terrorists to kill people, and the New York Times can't conceal its disappointment, writing:

Under pressure from President Bush, the House gave final approval Saturday to changes in a terrorism surveillance program, despite serious objections from many Democrats about the scope of the executive branch’s new eavesdropping power.

By some accounts, since the wiretap program was placed under the jurisdiction of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts the amount of intelligence on al-Qaeda has fallen by two-thirds, because of legal obstacles being placed in the way of the security services by judges acting in the name of civil liberties and the reluctance of phone companies to cooperate for fear of being sued.

Now it appears that sanity is prevailing, and it's not surprising that the Times is upset – it did, after all, reveal the existence of the wiretap program back in 2005, just one of its many attempts to undermine the fight against terrorism.

Predictably the Democrats and the Times whine about hypothetical threats to privacy. What they never explain is why intelligence agencies that are stretched to the limits trying to prevent terrorist attacks and support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would want to waste time and resources spying on US citizens who aren't doing anything wrong.

Once again Democrats and their supporters in the media have made it clear that there's no price in terms of loss of life and destruction of property that they aren't willing to pay in order to make a political point.

Hugh Hewitt has a couple of good posts on the subject (you'll need to scroll down a little).

Ahmadinejad: You're grounded!

Those mullahs just can't stand to see anyone having a good time. Reuters reports that Iranian police detained 230 people and seized alcohol and drugs in a raid on a 'satanic' underground rock concert. It's apparently part of an annual crackdown that goes on at this time of year – a sort of 'summer of virtuousness'.

The report says DJs, rock groups and rap artists performed at the event. Although Iranian officials didn't elaborate on the nature of the 'satanic' material being performed, by their standards The Carpenters would probably be off limits. Alcohol, drugs and CDs were seized, but what clearly tipped the authorities over the edge were reports of 'unrelated men and women dancing, drinking and mixing' and women wearing 'inappropriate' dresses.

This is all good stuff. Iran has a young, restless and pro-western population which, in the long run, is probably a better bet for regime change in Iran than sanctions or military action (although I'm all for targeted strikes on those elements that are causing trouble in Iraq). Maybe we should start supplying the Resistance with air drops of Linkin Park, Ryan Adams and MIKA CDs, and cases of Bud Light.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Bourne again

Stephen Hunter at the Washington Post has a very funny review of The Bourne Ultimatum. I actually found the first two films in the series quite entertaining – they're so frantically paced they make 24 look like a Basil Rathbone-era Sherlock Holmes movie, and they're perfect for those evenings when you don't have the energy to understand a plot or follow dialog, and just want to see lots of cars crashing in pretty European cities. But I think I can hold on until Ultimatum turns up on free-to-air TV.

Reflections on Kafeel Ahmed

One thing that gives me hope for the War on Terror is that for every Mohamed Atta, al-Qaeda and its affiliates seem to have at least ten operatives like Richard Reid, who failed to blow up an airliner because he couldn't set fire to his shoe, and Kafeel Ahmed, who died on Thursday night after failing to blow up Glasgow airport in what was surely the clumsiest suicide attack ever attempted.

Like mischievious schoolboys setting off a whole packet of bangers in one go, Ahmed and his accomplice calculated that if they put a whole load of gas cylinders in a car, then poured lots of petrol over the car, and themselves, and ran around screaming then there would be a really big explosion. All those web pages where you can supposedly find out how to build a bomb, and that was the best they could do – and Ahmed apparently had a PhD in engineering.

I hope that during his month in hospital Ahmed experienced times when he was conscious and aware enough to know how miserably he'd failed. I hope that his nurses and police guards often leaned close to his ear and told him that he'd killed no-one, all his mates had been arrested and that he was loser who'd bought shame on jihadists the world over.

Here's what I want to know: if a successful suicide bomber gets 72 virgins when he gets to heaven, what does a total screw-up wannabe suicide bomber get? Personally I'd like to think that he gets ten minutes with a five-times married, fifty-something divorcee who's recently had her sixth child, and who, after an awkward and unsatisfying coupling, phones him 20 times a day for the rest of eternity to tell him "It's no big deal, it happens to lots of guys" and ask him why he doesn't want to see her again, while hundreds of small birds pick at his scabs.

Quite frankly he let Allah down, he let Anglia Polytechnic down, but most of all he let himself down.

Ethics and the BBC's Kate Silverton

Most mornings I quickly check the BBC's news pages to get a rough overview of what's going on in the world, before calling in at my favourite blogs and websites (see my links) to see what's really going on in the world. This morning something caught my eye: number five in the list of 'most emailed' stories was entitled simply 'Kate Silverton'. Now I'm aware that Silverton is a BBC news presenter, and I wondered what she'd done, or what could have happened to her, to make this story the fifth-most-emailed on the BBC's site.

Turns out that the piece which is apparently causing such a stir is no more than the BBC's stock profile of Silverton, which can only mean two things: either she's got a lot of groupies (it's fair to say she falls under the heading 'thinking man's crumpet', 'crumpet' being a polite British term roughly equating to 'chick'); or very few people email BBC stories to their friends.

Anyway, having got this far I decided to read Silverton's profile, which not surprisingly read like the resume of an entrant in a high-brow beauty contest. But in between all the usual guff about 'inspiration', 'fulfilling dreams' and 'foreign travel', this sentence caught my eye:

"I've always been inspired by those events or people who compel us to look at the bigger picture and question our ethics."

The last time I checked, the ethics of Western civilisation appeared to me to be fairly well-developed, and not in urgent need of questioning. The kinds of people who do question our ethics include Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez – they'll doubtless be pleased to know they're such an inspiration to a leading BBC journalist. Silverton's comments are typical of the civilisational self-loathing and guilt that underpin the BBC's worldview, and which inform all areas of its journalism.

Fortunately for scholars of Aristotle and The Enlightenment, the profile quickly moves on to a giggling discussion of Silverton's dress sense.

Lines on the passing of Kafeel Ahmed

I can't let the death of failed Glasgow Airport suicide bomber Kafeel Ahmed pass without comment. While it's tempting to gloat over his death, and mock his ineptitude, it's important we remember that this man was, first and foremost, a human being and…

CORRECTION: This just in… it appears that Ahmed wasn't a human being after all. An autopsy has just been completed, and a spokesman for Glasgow Royal Infirmary reports: "We were surprised to find that Mr Ahmed didn't have a heart – the cavity where the heart should have been was instead filled with dry sand and dead scorpions. Also, while there's no definitive medical test for this, we're fairly certain he didn't have a soul."

Welcome… again!

I thought I might have a few days to get the hang of this blogging lark before anyone discovered the Monkey Tennis Centre; equally I wondered how anyone outside of my friends and family would ever find this blog.

Well, the peace has been well and truly shattered after James Taranto at Opinion Journal linked to my post 'AQI leader meets cartoon violence ending'. So wherever this leads, thanks to James and thanks to my brother Steve, who tipped off James and who clearly has more faith in my blogging abilities than I do. Thanks also to RB, who became my first ever commenter, and has started a lively debate on Excalibur rounds and precision-guided munitions in general.

After a couple of days getting Monkey Tennis up and running I didn't post at all yesterday, but now that some people are actually reading this stuff I guess I'd better quit with the speeches and get with the program…

Thursday, August 2, 2007

UN acts on Darfur – don't hold your breath

After four years, at least 200,000 deaths and the displacement of some two million people, the UN has finally reached agreement on deploying peacekeepers to the Darfur region of Sudan. Unfortunately, the beleaguered people of Darfur aren't likely to notice much difference.

Concessions wrought by China and Russia, both of whom have lucrative oil and other trade deals with the murderous and corrupt Sudanese government, have rendered the mission's mandate so toothless as to be virtually irrelevant. Peacekeepers won't be allowed to disarm militias such as the government-supported Janjaweed, or arrest suspected war criminals. And, contrary to assertations by UK prime minister and UN cheerleader Gordon Brown a couple of days ago, Sudan will not face sanctions if it doesn't cooperate with the mission.

So Khartoum will continue to run rings around the 'international community' for a few months more (the peacekeepers won't even start arriving until October) while the UN and its friends hail another victory for diplomacy.

The BBC reports Jonathan Pearce, from the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee, as saying the peacekeeping force could make a "tremendous impact". If the unfortunate past history of UN peacekeeping in Sudan, and Africa in general is anything to go by, this tremendous impact is likely to be on statistics for rape, child abuse, gun-running and other criminality.

As an editorial in the Wall Street Journal puts it (subscription required): 'Khartoum won't tolerate a potent force in the absence of outside pressure – and China and Russia won't permit the U.N. to apply that pressure. Liberal moralists calling on the world to "do something" in Sudan while also putting faith in the U.N. above all else need to face up to this contradiction. Otherwise, there will be more Rwandas, Bosnias and Darfurs.'

The bureaucrats working for the most ineffective, wasteful and unaccountable institution in the history of the world will no doubt be celebrating their latest achievement by hammering their expense accounts in the finest hotels and restaurants that Africa, Europe and New York have to offer. In Darfur, people will continue to go hungry, flee their homes and die.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Obama-mania at the BBC

What is it with the BBC and Barack Obama? (Okay, that's a rhetorical question, and I'll answer it shortly). I posted earlier on Obama's fantastical claim that he would invade Pakistan to attack al-Qaeda terrorists, which was itself a ludicrous over-reaction to the criticism he's been getting for saying that he would be happy to meet with any tyrant or leader of a terror-sponsoring state who rolls out the red carpet for him.

Tonight the BBC has decided that Obama's desperate attempt at damage control is currently the most important news story in the world, making it the lead item on their worldwide news home page. Think about this for a moment: the BBC thinks that the most important story in the world tonight is what a man who almost certainly won't win the Democratic nomination, let alone the presidential election, might do if he were elected President – and he wouldn't be able to do much of anything before 2009.

In fairness to the BBC, you can imagine their confusion: they want Barack to win, because, although they're largely ignorant of American politics, and about what American people outside of Manhattan think, a) he's a Democrat, and b) he's got dark skin, which in and of itself is a Good Thing, and trumps even Hillary's gender (oh, and he also believes in 'hope', which presumably the other candidates don't). They don't understand that this story makes him look like an even bigger idiot than he did last week; all they can see is that it's a story about Barack Obama, so they feel they should run with it.

Of course, this isn't to say that the BBC won't throw their weight behind Hillary if and when she secures the nomination – just like all the good defeated Democrat candidates, the Beeb will support whichever Democrat is chosen, and will work tirelessly for their election.

In case you think I overstate the Beeb's bias towards Obama, and the Democrats in general, I tried a quick, and admittedly unscientific test, searching the BBC's website for stories about Obama, Hillary, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Hillary came out way ahead, with 92 pages, not surprising considering how long she's been around. But here's the interesting thing: Obama, despite having been virtually unknown outside Illinois until a few months ago, returned 23 pages of results; Giuliani, despite having been mayor of New York for eight years, including during the aftermath of 9/11, returned 20 pages. Romney, who has a better chance of securing the Republican nomination than Obama does the Democrat nomination, returned just 10 pages.

No bias there then.

AQI leader meets cartoon violence ending

While the deaths of any members of a child-beheading death cult are to be regretted, this recent press release from Multi-National Forces Iraq is darkly amusing. You have to imagine this sequence of events animated by Chuck Jones and set to a minimalist Carl Stalling score:

The top target for al Qaeda in Iraq south of Baghdad was killed July 14 in Arab Jabour by precision-guided munitions, the Excalibur.

Shortly after 12 p.m., 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, received a call that Abu Jurah and 14 anti-Iraqi forces were meeting at a house in Arab Jabour.

Abu Jurah was an AQI cell leader and was responsible for improvised explosive devices, vehicle-borne IED and indirect fire attacks on Coalition Forces in Arab Jabour.

At approximately 1:12 p.m., the house was positively identified allowing 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment to fire two Excalibur rounds destroying the meeting house.

An unmanned aerial vehicle observed persons leaving the house, loading injured individuals into a sedan and fleeing the scene.

An AH-64 Apache helicopter engaged the sedan destroying it.
Three people were observed running from the meeting house to a nearby house.

A U.S. Air Force F16 Fighting Falcon dropped two 500-pound GPS-guided bombs on the second house.

If there were any survivors they would probably have finished them off with a giant anvil.

Maybe the guys at MNF-I should lighten up a bit and start adding some colour to those press releases. That's all folks!

Obama gets tough

Via Hugh Hewitt: Barack Obama today threatens to send US troops into Pakistan to hunt down al-Qaeda terrorists, saying "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

This puts in a whole new light Obama's remarks in the YouTube debate last week, when he said he would meet, without precondition, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea – about as impressive a collection of high-value terrorist targets as you could wish to find. It's now clear that he wants to get 'up close and personal' with these guys so he can take them out with a single well-aimed blow, thus minimising the risk of collateral damage.

There's flip-flopping and there's flip-flopping.

Death and carpets in Iran

The BBC reports that Iran has sentenced two ethnic Kurdish journalists to hang for being 'enemies of God'. Iran has already executed over 100 people this year, and they're probably being modest with that figure. But it's not all bad news adds the Beeb – those Iranians make a lovely carpet, and it's big enough to roll a few hundred bodies up in to boot!