Friday, November 30, 2007

A short break

I'm off to Dublin for a long weekend, so there are unlikely to be any new posts before Tuesday unless something earth-shattering happens, or I find a very handy internet cafe.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Will Hollywood learn from its Iraq flops?

I've been meaning to post for a while on the disastrous performance of the various anti-Iraq war/War on Terror movies that have been released over the past few weeks. I'd not long started blogging when the buzz began about Lions for Lambs, Rendition, Redacted, In
The Valley of Elah
and the rest, and I posted on the subject here and here.

At the time the Surge was just starting to show signs of success, and I wrote: ‘Hopefully continued progress in Iraq and Afghanistan will diminish the public's appetite for fictionalised bad news stories. […] and if movie-goers shun the anti-war polemics, then Hollywood will be hit where it hurts – at the box office – and might just get the message.’

Continued progress was far from guaranteed at that point. There was a real risk that a few terrorist 'spectaculars' could have reversed the momentum of the Surge, and that the aforementioned films would have been released against the backdrop of a growing chorus of calls for withdrawal, been hailed as reflecting the ‘mood’ of the nation and fed yet more disillusionment and defeatism back into the system.

Instead the opposite happened. Progress in Iraq exceeded the wildest expectations of most supporters of victory, and General Petraeus’s report to Congress did much to silence critics and rally the faithful, so that by the time the films were released the narrative was changing.

We’ll never know how the films would have fared had the US death toll continued to increase, and if President Bush had still been under widespread pressure to begin pulling the troops out. Maybe they’d have flopped anyway: if the situation in Iraq had continued to deteriorate there’s no reason to think that people would have flocked to the cinema for yet more bad news.

But with the tide turning so dramatically, Redford, Streep, De Palma and the rest never had a chance. Fittingly De Palma’s Redacted, by far the nastiest movie of the sorry bunch, has been the most spectacular flop of all, with an opening weekend audience of around 3,000 and receipts of £25,000.

Even In The Valley of Elah, directed by Oscar-winner Paul Haggis and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron, which was clearly meant to do big box office despite its ‘serious’ subject matter, took just $6.7m in its entire run, little more than The Kingdom – a straightforward action movie in which the Americans were the good guys – took in its opening weekend.

The films aren’t doing much better in the perceived ‘anti-American’ overseas markets either – The Ten O’Clock Scholar has a round-up of figures (it doesn't include Elah which has taken less that $4m). Elsewhere, Roger L. Simon of Pajamas Media has a two-part analysis of why the movies failed here and here.

It remains to be seen whether films due to be released next year – notably Imperial Life in the Emerald City, directed by Paul Greengrass and based on the book by journalist and Saddam crony Rajiv Chandrasekaran – will do any better, particularly if progress is maintained in Iraq, and whether filmmakers will heed the message from audiences and rethink their attitude to filming the war.

As Roger L. Simon points out, no one in Hollywood is likely to lose their shirt as a result of the poor performance of these movies, but those who fund them – whether studio bosses or millionaire activists – are unlikely to keep throwing money away indefinitely, however badly they want to make a 'statement'.

The self-loathing Brits who think teddy bear teacher deserves her fate

Updated for sentence: Gillian was spared the lashes – those Sharia judges are just big softies at heart. But 15 days in prison, and I'm guessing that won't be a room with cable. Bet she was glad of the deportation order though.

So it's just the two weeks in the roach pit, then bundled out of the country pursued by a lynch mob to spend the rest of her life wondering if some whackjob is going to catch up with her and give her the Theo van Gogh treatment.

Radical Islam: What's not to like?

Other than among Islamic hardliners, you would think that the plight of British teacher Gillian Gibbons, who faces jail and 40 lashes in Sudan for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Mohammed, would elicit near-universal sympathy.

Not so, judging by the comments of a sizable minority of commenters on the BBC's website, who appear to think that Mrs Gibbons deserves everything she gets. This is just a selection of their views (brackets are mine):

I am a British woman who has lived in an Asia country myself and I done my homework (hope she wasn't a teacher too). I checked the local laws and ensured I had a full understanding of the culture do's and don’ts. We always preach that when foreigners come to Britain they need to do their homework, learn our culture and abide by our laws. I think that if this woman is not charged then this is a clear case of double standards.
Louise, Edinburgh

If we expect people living or working in the UK to abide by our laws, British citizens working abroad should be expected to abide by the laws of the country they work in. Not only has the teacher shown her ignorance of other faiths but also a startling level of insensitivity.
Graeme, Fife (Scotland)

I have worked in many parts of the World
. When working in a particular country it is imperative that you comply with and respect the rules of that country. This lady clearly did not comply and respect such rules and must suffer the consequences.
Mike Townend, United Kingdom

Any teacher who works today would know that this isn't a PC thing to do - more fool her - she has got exactly what she deserves - It isn't headline news - people are stupid every day (those Sharia courts! It's political correctness gone mad!).
Mary, Wolverhampton

Why do we think that anyone coming to the UK must abide by our rules and regulations, but that the same does not apply to us when we are abroad? She is in an Islamic country, and should have made herself aware of the political and religious sensibilities before going. I do not know a great deal about Islam (you don't say!), but would have guessed that naming a teddy after the prophet would cause offence. She is a teacher, and should know better.
Suzanne Jones, Liverpool

Her fault. She brought this upon herself!
George Cowley, Columbia, SC

The notion that "we expect them to abide by our laws, so we should abide by theirs" is worryingly prevalent, and an example of how the doctrines of multiculturalism and moral equivalence have corrupted the minds of many in the West. Of course we expect foreign visitors to comply with our laws – but our laws don't decree that a person should be flogged for giving the wrong name to a cuddly toy.

And there are plenty of other specious arguments on display in the comments. Some equate Mrs Gibbons' predicament with the offence taken by Christians over perceived slurs, and wheel out the tired claim that 'all religions are equally bad'. Predictably, one Brit brings up the killing of abortion clinic staff in the US, equating the actions of a few extremists with beliefs and laws observed by tens of millions of people.

Others suggest that Britain has no right to complain about Mrs Gibbons' treatment because of its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, or claim that Westerners should not pass judgement on Islam because we 'don't understand' it. (And come to think of it, I haven't heard much on the subject from the Islam-admiring Archbishop of Canterbury.)

What's interesting is that while a few of the commenters who say they're Muslims are condemning Mrs Gibbons, or falling back on the 'Western foreign policy' excuse, the majority are either suggesting that she made a simple mistake, and should be treated leniently, or are condemning the Sudanese outright
– "Stop hijacking the religion!" pleads Adil in Singapore.

By contrast, virtually all of the comments attacking Mrs Gibbons, and making excuses for Islamic extremism, are from people living in Britain, with a few from the US and elsewhere in Europe, and who, judging by their names – Louise, Graeme, Mike, Mary, Suzanne, George
are natives of those countries, and very probably white.

The opinions on display
reflect the problems with, and attitudes to, radical Islam as a whole: a vociferous and violent minority (though apparently a sizable one) of extremists who shout down the moderates, and are supported by Westerners who so despise their own culture that they'll take the side of anyone who doesn't share our values, and who preferably seeks to subvert them.

It's no coincidence that several of the commenters say they've worked abroad, or claim to be 'widely travelled'. For many such people anything foreign, anything different, is by definition better. Any skin colour is better than white, any religion better than Christianity.

In the case of most of these people their guilt and self-loathing manifests itself as nothing worse than gloating over the misfortune of Westerners such as Mrs Gibbons. Others take things further, in extreme cases resorting to terrorism against their own people.

But worryingly for anyone who hopes for the downfall of repressive regimes, an awful lot of them end up working in their countries' foreign services, or for the UN and other international organisations obsessed with multiculturalism and conditioned to pursue appeasement.

And unfortunately for Mrs Gibbons, right now those people represent her best hope of freedom.

Update: Thanks to Charles at LGF for the fastest link ever.
I have a couple of recent posts I think you lizards will enjoy while you're here: the post referenced above, on Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury blaming the US for the world's problems while giving Muslims a free pass; and another on the BBC's insistance that five Muslims who hacked three Christians to death in Turkey did so not because of their religion, but because they were nationalists.

And you heard about the Red Cross giving lessons to gunmen in Gaza – but have you seen the terrorist first aid manual?

Update 2: Thanks also Atlas, and Rusty at The Jawa Report – check out his deeply offensive Photoshop. And the court report is here.

Update 3: LissaKay has left a great comment, contrasting the teddy-related outrage with the lack of reaction to The Golden Compass:

I see no rioting in the streets, or calls for the head of Philip Pullman, who has publicly stated "My books are about killing God" and that he was "trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An inconvenient sinking

File under 'Delicious irony'… Canada Free Press reports that the owner of the fault-ridden cruise ship that sank in Antarctica last Friday, causing untold environmental damage, is a disciple of Al Gore (hat tip: JammieWearingFool).

The MS Explorer, with 48,000 gallons of very environmentally unfriendly fuel on board, went down after hitting ice in the Antarctic Ocean. 154 passengers and crew were rescued after spending hours in lifeboats.

The Explorer was operated by G.A.P. Adventures, whose CEO Bruce Prune Tip spoke at an environmental conference alongside Gore in April. As CFP notes:

…Greenpeace believes tourism in Antarctica should be strictly limited because of the fate of MS Explorer, but the silence is deafening from Poon Tip and Gore about the huge carbon footprint left on the ocean floor.

The funny thing is, if you believe what Gore and his buddies keep telling us, it's amazing that there's any ice left down there for a boat to hit.

Frank Gaffney on gang rape in Annapolis

It is fitting that Condoleezza Rice chose the U.S. Naval Academy for the venue of tomorrow’s so-called Mideast peace conference. The reputation of that extraordinary institution in Annapolis has been sullied in recent years by a succession of rapes of young women. Despite official efforts to low-ball its significance, Ms. Rice’s conclave is shaping up to be a gang-rape of a nation on a scale not seen since Munich in 1938, when the British and French allowed Hitler and Mussolini to have their violent way with Czechoslovakia.

This time, the intended victim is Israel. As with the effort to appease the Nazis and Fascists nearly sixty years ago, however, the damage will not be confined to the rapee. The interests of the Free World in general and the United States in particular will suffer from what the Saudis and most of the other attendees have in mind for the Jewish State – namely, its dismemberment and ultimate destruction.

Read the whole thing.

Elsewhere, Jerusalem Post columnist Carline Glick talks to National Review's Kathryn Lopez:

It is hard to see any positive outcome from the Annapolis conference. Some have argued that the conference will make clear the distinction between states interested in peace and states uninterested in peace. But it is far from clear why this is the case. Indeed, one of the basic flaws inherent in the Annapolis conference, and indeed in Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent frenetic pursuit of Palestinian statehood is the complete absence of moral distinctions between states committed to the ideals of peace, freedom, and fighting terror and those committed to jihad, tyranny, and hatred.

And here's Bernard Lewis in yesterday's WSJ on the fraud of 'the right of return':

The Poles and the Germans [refugees from Hitler's Europe], the Hindus and the Muslims [refugees created by the partition of India], the Jewish refugees from Arab lands, [during the 1947-48 fighting] all were resettled in their new homes and accorded the normal rights of citizenship. More remarkably, this was done without international aid. The one exception was the Palestinian Arabs in neighboring Arab countries.

The government of Jordan granted Palestinian Arabs a form of citizenship, but kept them in refugee camps. In the other Arab countries, they were and remained stateless aliens without rights or opportunities, maintained by U.N. funding. Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation.

The reason for this has been stated by various Arab spokesmen. It is the need to preserve the Palestinians as a separate entity until the time when they will return and reclaim the whole of Palestine; that is to say, all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. The demand for the "return" of the refugees, in other words, means the destruction of Israel. This is highly unlikely to be approved by any Israeli government.

Let's hope.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury: I, for one, welcome our new Muslim overlords

Why doesn't Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and nominal leader of the world’s 70 million or so Anglicans, just convert to Islam and get it over and done with?

In an interview with an Islamic ‘lifestyle’ magazine, Williams once again pins the blame for all the world’s problems on the US and Israel, and takes a swipe at Western civilisation in general for good measure, while, as ever, giving Islam a free pass.

The full interview is here
. The Sunday Times reported:

In a wide-ranging interview with a British Muslim magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of the United States to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilisation.

He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.

Williams went beyond his previous critique of the conduct of the war on terror, saying the United States had lost the moral high ground since September 11. He urged it to launch a “generous and intelligent programme of aid directed to the societies that have been ravaged; a check on the economic exploitation of defeated territories; a demilitarisation of their presence”.

He went on to suggest that the West was fundamentally adrift: “Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul.”

Williams suggested American leadership had broken down: “We have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That’s not working.”

He contrasted it unfavourably with how the British Empire governed India.
“It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what the British Empire did — in India, for example.

“It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together — Iraq, for example.”

The Times reports that Williams made only “mild criticisms” of Islam in the interview, saying that the Muslim world must acknowledge that its “political solutions were not the most impressive”, and commended the Muslim practice of praying five times a day.

No mention, of course, of the Muslim practices of according inferior status to women; the stoning and flogging of women for perceived immoral behaviour; or the jailing of non-believers for 'crimes' as trivial as allowing children to name a teddy bear Mohammed.

Not a word about the murder of apostates and insufficiently Muslim Muslims, the hanging of homosexuals or the ritual slaughter of Christians; and nothing on the reluctance of Muslim leaders to condemn the atrocities carried out in the name of their religion.

But then Williams has always been ready to make excuses for terrorists and their ideologies, and to blame their victims for bringing about their own misfortune. Before radical Islam it was communism. In the 1980s Williams took part in protests against the siting of American Cruise missiles in Britain, even managing to get himself arrested outside the US airbase at Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Like the rest of the international Left, with communism defeated Williams had to find another ideology to challenge the Western hegemony that so dismays him. Apparently it found him first.

Williams was in New York on September 11 2001, but far from the events of that day strengthening his resolve to stand up for Judeo-Christian values and culture in the face of an unprecedented attack, he took issue with the very idea of labeling the perpetrators as evil, writing in a pamphlet 'reflecting' on the biggest terrorist atrocity in history:

"We have something of the freedom to consider whether or not we turn to violence and so, in virtue of that very fact, are rather different from those who experience their world as leaving no other option."

As Anglican Priest and author Dr Peter Mullen wrote in the Wall Street Journal at the time (he's quoting Williams):

Once we have admitted that the atrocity was not the terrorists' fault, what next? "We begin to find some sense of what they and we might together recognise as good." Really? But how to make common moral cause between democracy's rule of law and nihilistic killing? Do sit down Osama. Have another éclair while we discuss the terms of trade.

In a speech in 2003 Williams claimed that terrorists can “have serious moral goals”, and denied that states have the right to unilaterally defend themselves. He's been relentlessly critical of the war in Iraq, and has warned the US against attacking Iran or Syria.

He's perfectly entitled to oppose the war in Iraq, but to talk about
'economic exploitation of defeated territories' is simply hysterical. What does he imagine the US has taken from Iraq? Why no mention of the removal of a dictator who killed hundreds of thousands, or of the free elections?

What about the billions the US has already spent on reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the billions more it spends in aid to every corner of the globe. Who would he rather see as a "global hegemonic power"? China? Russia?

Many conservatives would share Williams' contention that elements of western modernity "eat away at the soul". But they would blame the cultural and political Left for it, while Williams prefers to pin most of the blame on America and capitalism.

With the notable exception of his strong pro-life views, Williams is an archetypal Western lefty, bashing the US and Israel, making excused for dictators and terrorists, and railing against the imagined evils of free-market democracy.

His views sound uncannily like the liberation theology that was preached by Catholic priests in Latin American in the 1970s and 80s. For a man of the cloth, he seems rather more in thrall to the notion of Heaven on earth than Heaven proper, and he's so riddled with guilt – for being white, for being a Christian, for being a member of Western civilisation – that his daily existence must be torture.

Maybe Williams would feel a little better if, instead of meddling in politics, rewriting history and making excuses for mass murder, he focused his energies on addressing the many problems of his church. Attendances have been falling steadily for years, churches in Britain are closing left, right and centre and revenues are falling – and the picture would be even worse if congregations weren't being propped up by increasing numbers of immigrants.

And then of course there's Williams' shambolic handling of the gay clergy controversy, which has raised the spectre of the disintegration of the worldwide Anglican communion.

Islam, meanwhile is booming – no pun intended – even without the help of glowing testimonials from the likes of Williams. It's quite probably the world's fastest-growing religion, both in terms of numbers of adherents, and the number of countries in which its followers make up a significant proportion of the population.

Islam isn't constrained by doubts about its place in the world, and doesn't appear to be unduly troubled by the growing number of people that cite its tenets as justification for doing evil. And in its most extreme form it combines religion with the totalitarian impulses of fascism and communism.

Dr Mullen, in his Wall Street Journal piece, concluded:

Dr. Williams is often described here as something of a saint. In fact, he is an old-fashioned class warrior, a typical bien-pensant despiser of Western capitalism and the way of life that goes with it. Perhaps this would not matter much in ordinary times, but when the future of Western civilization itself is under threat, such posturing is suicidal. What havoc this man might wreak from the throne of Canterbury.

Almost five years of havoc-wreaking later, perhaps Williams can see the writing on the wall for his religion, and is embarking on negotiations over a future takeover that he trusts won't be overly hostile. Hopefully the rest of Western civilisation won't succumb as easily.

Related: Victor Davis Hanson has some history lessons for Williams at The Corner (hat tip Instapundit).

Update: Mitt Romney on the Hugh Hewitt show:

…I think you have to go through piece by piece, and say with him, he’s entitled to his opinion, but he’s certainly not speaking for God, and that this is a nation which has sacrificed more than any nation in the history of the Earth to preserve peace, and certainly has saved the bacon of people in Great Britain, and people in Europe generally, and the entire world doesn’t speak German today because of the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Americans. So it’s not a great place for him to be making that kind of comment, and today, we are one of the nations that’s taking the lead to keep the spread of violent, radical jihad from developing nuclear weaponry, and potentially threatening the existence of great civilizations.

UK's Iraqi employees are pleading for help

Blogger Dan Hardie is coordinating efforts to put pressure on the British government to help Iraqis whose lives are in danger because they've worked for UK forces in the south of the country. The government continues to drag its feet on the matter, and the plight of many Iraqis who have worked as interpreters and in other capacities. You can read more here.

I had the following email from Dan this morning, which he's asked me to post here:

I've had emails from three people who claim to be - and who almost certainly are - Iraqi former employees of the British Government. All three say that they and their former colleagues are still at risk of death for their 'collaboration'.

We'll call the first man Employee One. He worked for the British for three years: 'I started in the beginning of the war with Commandos (in 30 of March 2003) then continued with 23 Pioneer Regt, and in 08 / 07 / 2003 I have joined the Labour Support Unit (LSU)'. His British friends knew him as Chris. The British Government has announced that he can apply for help if he can transport himself to the British base outside Basra, or to the embassies in Syria or Jordan. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that there might be problems with this. I can email and telephone this man: so can any Foreign Office official. It should not be impossible to verify his story and then send him the funds he needs to get to a less unsafe Arab country. But that is not happening.

Here's an email exchange we had the other day.

Are you still in Iraq?

'Yes, I'm still hidden in somewhere in the hell of Basra.'

Is there any reason you cannot travel to the British Army base at Basra Airbase to ask for asylum?

'Of course, we cannot travel to BIA (Basra International Airbase) due to the militia keep watched all the ways to BIA and they got their own fake check points there although, we claimed for asylum through the internet (we sent our application to the claim office at BIA) . But we afraid that the British are going to take a long time to process our claims also we are very worried if they will offer just some money instead of asylum, please sir inform all the British people that we looking for asylum and just the asylum will save our lives, also we can't travel to Syria anymore to claim for asylum there as the Syrian government issued new conditions for Iraqis who want to travel to their country.'

Can you tell me how and when the militias threatened you?

'In 2006 I have threatened by militia that hated me because I work and help coalition forces in Iraq, I told my bosses about that but they said we can't do anything for you because we have nothing to do with civilian and we don't have any army rules or orders to help you, then I continued my daily work with British army, few days later the militia attacked my house trying to catch me but I was at the work at that time, they beaten my family and told them: we want your son or we will kill all of you!!!! 'Since that day I decided to leave my job and change my home place but until this moment the militia trying to find and kill me, I'm always changing my place trying to hidden from them, they know that I left my job but they don't care, they just want to kill me they called me collaborator and traitor and they asked everybody know me about my place, they told them: anyone know anything about (name) he should tell us immediately and also they said: we will never give up until we catch (name). They work for ministry of interior so they controlled most of government departments and they work under that cover.'

Do you have any family members who are also threatened by militias or who depend on you? If so, how many of them are there and how old are they?

'Of course, my family depends on me especially in the finance side as I'm the older son between seven sons and daughters they got, on other hand my parents cannot working as they are very old.'

Employee Two is in Syria, and is applying for aid from the British Embassy in Damascus. He can prove that he has worked for the British for over 12 months, after the magic date of 1st January 2005. But he still isn't safe.

He is staying illegally in Syria, having considerably over-run the 15-day visa on which he entered the country. He's been obliged to get forms for asylum or resettlement aid from the Syrian Government security men who guard the British Embassy. He tells me 'If I see any Syrian officer I really get fear , becuase of my expired visa.' The British Government, which asked us to accept that it was invading Iraq in part because of its horror at the brutality of the Ba'athist dictatorship, is now perfectly happy to leave its own former employees to the mercies of Syrian Ba'athists.

Colleagues of this man are also hiding in Damascus and are even worse off than he is, because they don't meet the perverse and arbitrary time stipulations. He writes: 'I know four former interpreters worked less than a year (for the British), but they went to the embassy and they filled the paper with out telling the guards we had worked for less than a year. The Syrian guards have got instructions from the embassy (British Embassy in Damascus), that (they) do not give that form to any interpreter who worked for British less than a year or any former interpreter who worked in 2003 and fled to syria before 2005.'

Employee Three sent me copies of his Army ID card and photos of him with smiling Scottish soldiers. He worked for the Army in 2003, who then recommended that he work for Erinys- a private security firm which the British Government hired to form an Oil Protection Force. Both when working for the Army and when working for the British Government's proxies, he was identified as a target by the militias. The British Government made him a death squad target.
That same British Government will not be giving him any kind of assistance; not even a small cash handout to help him live elsewhere in the Middle East. It has announced that it will not help any Iraqi whose direct employment ended before the 1st January 2005.

You've heard this before, but it's now more important than ever. The last lot of letters and emails got the Government to announce a change in policy: an inadequate change,badly implemented. The next lot of letters and emails will force the Government to announce another change in policy, one that will be properly implemented and will not be based on leaving people to die.


Your MP's address is The House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. His or her email address is probably

You can also get in touch with them via

Please use the talking points below to send an email or letter to your MP, and chase them for an answer. And be courteous: an insulted MP will not raise this matter with ministers, and that will lead to more avoidable deaths. When you get an answer, email me at and let me know what they said.

I agree that it seems egocentric for me to ask you to put your MP in touch with me: but what alternatives do we have? I am in direct contact with Iraqi employees pleading with me to do something to help them. I cannot help them. Members of Parliament- including David Miliband- need to read what these Iraqis are saying.

Talking points:

1. On October 9th David Miliband announced that the British Government would assist former employees in Iraq, so long as they had worked for it after 1st January 2005 and for 12 months or more. That abandons several hundred Iraqis who have been targetd for murder because they worked for the British before that date- and in 2004 fighting between the Mahdi Army and the British was at its peak- or because they worked for less than that period, often leaving their jobs at the end of a British battalion's six-month tour. The British Government must help Iraqi employees on the basis of the risk they face, not according to an arbitrary time stipulation. This only affects a few hundred Iraqis, whom we are well able to shelter, and for whom we have a direct moral responsibility.

2. Even those Iraqi employees who qualify for assistance are not being properly assisted. Iraqis in Basra are not able to apply via the British Army in Basra Interational Airbase, since it is ringed with militia checkpoints. Iraqi ex-employees in Damascus are being screened by Syrian policemen guarding the British Embassy and delayed by lengthy bureaucratic procedures when they apply for asylum, although many of them are illegally overstaying their Syrian visas and face deportation back to Iraq.

3. A blogger called Dan Hardie is directly in touch with a number of Iraqi employees via email and phone. He is willilng to brief MPs- as concisely as possible- either over the phone or via email. He can be reached at

Friday, November 23, 2007

BBC: Turks who killed Christians are 'nationalists' not Islamists

Three Christians, including a pastor and a missionary were murdered by Muslims in Turkey in April. They were bound hand and foot, stabbed repeatedly, and had their throats cut.

The five killers, who are all Muslims, have admitted that they targeted their victims because of their religion, so you might think that the motive for the killings is not unconnected with the religion of the killers.

But according to the BBC you'd be wrong: they didn't carry out the killings because they were Muslims, but because they were 'nationalists'. Under the headline 'Turks in Christian murder trial' it reports:

Five men are to go on trial in eastern Turkey, accused of killing three Christians earlier this year.

The Christians, who included a pastor and a German missionary, were stabbed repeatedly and had their throats cut.

The suspects, aged 19 and 20, were detained at the scene of the crime, a Protestant publishing house in Malatya.

The M word finally appears in paragraph four, but not to tell us that the killers were Muslims, but rather that the victims weren't Muslims:

The murders prompted three Christian families to leave the town. Germany has accused Turkey of "unacceptable intolerance" towards non-Muslims.

The report continues:

The murder of the Christians in the eastern town of Malatya came months after the killing of the ethnic Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, and a year after the killing of a Catholic priest in northern Turkey.

In all cases, the alleged killers were nationalist-minded young men or even teenagers.

The BBC conveniently omits to mention that Dink was a Christian. And here's an excerpt from an article in Spiegel Online on the killing of the priest, Father Andrea Santoro, in Trabzon, refering to the killer:

According to his family, Oguz, a high-school student, had recently become "very religious." "He prayed five times a day," says his brother Alpaznar. His father, who runs a dental laboratory in Trabzon, claims that he first heard about the Muhammad cartoons from his son. "He was very upset, but I told him that it was none of his concern."

Nothing there about Oguz becoming "increasingly nationalistic". But back to the BBC:

Turkish nationalists often view missionaries as a threat, especially in remote places like Malatya, says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul.

In Malatya, the defendants reportedly told police they were acting to foil a plot to undermine Islam and divide Turkey.

Again Islam gets a mention, but while a connection to the killers is implied, it's still not made explicit.

Back in April, Christianity Today was rather less obtuse in its reporting of the Malatya murders (what is it about those guys at Christianity Today and Christianity?):

In a gruesome assault against Turkey's tiny Christian community, five young Muslim Turks entered a Christian publishing office in the southeastern province of Malatya Wednesday and slit the throats of the three Protestant Christians present.

Two of the victims, Necati Aydin, 36, and Ugur Yuksel, 32, were Turkish converts from Islam. The third man, Tilmann Geske, 46, was a German citizen.

The Turkish press reported Thursday that four of the five young men arrested for the murders, all 19 to 20 years of age, admitted during initial interrogations that they were motivated by both "nationalist and religious feelings."


According to the newspaper Hurriyet, one of the suspects declared during police questioning, "We didn't do this for ourselves. We did it for our religion. May this be a lesson to the enemies of religion."

There's an awful lot of talk about religion going on there. And just to recap: the nationality of two of the victims was Turkish, which is the same nationality as the killers'; so it would require a series of semantic somersaults with a high degree of difficulty to reach the conclusion that nationalism was a motive for the killings.

Most reasonable people will, of course, be able to infer from the report that the killers were Muslim, but the BBC deliberately plays down the religious angle, and plays up the 'nationalism' line for all it's worth. And it's not hard to see why.

In the eyes of the BBC and other soft-leftists Islamism either isn't a danger at all; is a minor irritation that isn't worth confronting; or is perhaps a more serious problem, but one which can't be addressed due to considerations of multi-culturalism and political correctness.

Nationalism, on the other hand, is seen by the Left as an all-too-real and pressing threat; and fortunately for the world the solutions to the problem are simple: the transference of more power to transnational institutions like the EU and the UN, and the increased migration of peoples to the point where ideas of nationality become meaningless.

As well as insulting the intelligence of its readers, the BBC is also insulting the tens of millions of Turkish people who are able to make a clear distinction between the state and Islam. Despite growing pressure from Islamists, Turkey remains a secular state, with Turkish law guaranteeing the right to engage in religious evangelism as long as it's not politically motivated.

It's true that the Malatya killers, like others, expressed nationalitic as well as religious sentiments, but that's because for Islamists they're one and the same thing. Islam is the state - a notion embodied in the concept of the 'umma', or global Muslim community. Their allegiance is to Islam first, and nationality - Turkish or otherwise - second, and they make little distincition between the two.

But for the BBC it's quite the opposite, and it's a line of thinking that endangers people of every nationality, and every non-Islamic religion, the world over.

Update 3: A commenter has posted the text of a letter that was sent to churches and religious organisations worldwide by the church whose members were murdered. A shorter, and less gory version is here.

Update: Thanks to Rusty at Jawa Report for linking!

Update 2: I've received the following comment, which suddenly makes this feel very personal:

I am personal friends with the leader of this Christian mission in Turkey. His life was spared only because he was in another city that morning. I know the detailed account of what happened and can assure you that these men were targeted and killed SOLELY for their Christianity. The killers met the victims when they attended a Bible study and came to the publishing company that morning under the pretense of wanting to talk about converting to Christianity.

For the BBC to try a historical rewrite with the facts so fresh demonstrates more than hubris; they are deliberately lying to further their own agenda and, can rightfully be seen as being in bed with Islamofascist terrorists.

There's no one left for the Left

Pajamas Media is linking to lefty blog Crooks and Liars, which has video of John Bolton appearing on Hardball. It’s a fairly unspectacular clip, with Chris Matthews challenging Bolton over his insistence that the US can’t allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. Bolton makes his case calmly and persistently, while Matthews and a Middle East ‘expert’ who doesn’t sound like much of one, and who makes infantile comments about ‘Nintendo wars’ and the like, become ever more excited.

The reason that the poster at Crooks and Liars is so excited about the clip is that at one point Matthews calls Bolton a ‘neocon’, and Bolton responds sharply that he isn’t one. “No,” sneers the poster, “Mr Bolton isn’t a Neocon – he just thinks, talks and acts like one.”

Bolton, as anyone who knows anything about anything knows, isn’t a neocon. Without getting bogged down in the history and ideas of the neoconservative movement (you can do that here), two of its key tenets are the spread of liberal democracy, and military intervention on moral grounds, regardless of whether American interests are at stake.

Bolton doesn’t go along with these principles. He's made it clear that he supports military action insofar as it’s necessary to protect American interests, and if the spread of liberal democracy happens to be a by-product of that action, then fine. He’s not a neoconservative, and never has been one.

Of course, the ignorance of Chris Matthews isn’t particularly revelatory (elsewhere in the piece he claims that the US should respect the results of Iranian elections), and Crooks and Liars appears to be a fairly harmless lefty blog dealing in conspiracy theorising and general moonbattery (Noam Chomsky is ‘a quiet voice of truth’; Hugo Chavez isn’t a dictator; Joe Wilson must be taken seriously).

What I found surprising – maybe I’ve been living a sheltered life – was the ferocity of the comments about what is basically a dull, snarky post about an uncontroversial interview. It’s not so much the content that’s surprising – the unanimous agreement that Bolton is, absolutely, a neocon, or the claims that Iran needs a nuclear bomb to deter Israel – but the pure, foul-mouthed, boiling hatred of the majority of commenters.

Dozens call Bolton a Nazi or a fascist (doubtless their understanding of both terms is on a par with their understanding of ‘neocon’). Many use swear words and sexual epithets. Some attack Christians, and one calls for Bolton, along with all Christians, Jews and Muslims – but especially Christians – to be murdered. All very nasty, but predictable. Others, however, rail against Matthews and the MSM for being ‘right-wing thugs’, on the grounds that they allow people like Bolton to speak at all, and are ‘muzzling’ the Democrats. A few attack Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and the Democratic party in general.

It occurred to me that these are people who have got to the stage where they’re so far beyond the pale that there’s almost no one left in the real world to represent them – and what representatives they do have will never again be elected to positions of power in America or any other democracy, except for the occasional Harry Reid figure who will achieve, and be remembered for, nothing. The absolute best these people can hope for (and the absolute worst conservatives have to fear – we could, as Charles Krauthammer said, live with it) is Hillary Clinton, and others like her in the future, who will throw them a few crumbs of domestic comfort while pursuing a foreign policy that, while not entirely to convervative tastes, will in the broken minds of the far-left be indistinguishable from that of the Bush administration.

Some of them are people who long ago lost every ideological battle they engaged in, and have nothing left but hate, while others have never had an ideology, just the hate. Judging by the comments, a few of them have reached the point where they have nothing left to look forward to but a nuclear holocaust in which America comes off worse than her opponents.

I’m trying to figure out whether it’s the hatred that leads to the ignorance, or the ignorance that leads to the hatred – or whether the two are inseparable. Don’t any of these people ever pause and think that perhaps it’s they who are out of step, and not the rest of the band?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

First aid lessons, Gaza style

From the ‘You couldn’t make it up’ files… the BBC reports that gunmen in the Gaza strip are getting lessons in the “laws of war”, and first aid training, from the International Red Cross.

The reports says:

All the Palestinian armed factions have signed up to the course, though they are being taught in individual groups.

So presumably the students include Hamas gunmen who routinely fire on, beat and torture their opponents, as well as the various factions responsible for firing rockets at civilian targets in Israel, with the attacks often launched from civilian areas in Gaza, including schools.

In fairness, Katya Adler’s report strikes a skeptical tone in parts. She describes the sight of masked men pairing up to practise using bandages, splints as “incongruous”, and acknowledges that:

Gunmen use busy streets, even private homes, as battlegrounds.

Armed Palestinian groups fire rockets at Israeli towns like Sderot, just over the Gaza border, almost every day. Sometimes using public areas, like schools, as launch sites.

But she fails to challenge the contemptible Palestinian claims that they only target Israeli civilians because the Israelis deliberately target Palestinian civilians – presumably because, like most of the BBC, she thinks there’s some truth in the allegation.

This is a publicity stunt cooked up by Palestinian terrorists and their sympathizers in the Red Cross, and the BBC is duly giving them publicity.

The report continues:

The head of Gaza operations for the Red Cross, Anthony Dalziel, said the course was part of his organisation's worldwide effort to teach international humanitarian law to all parties in armed conflict.

So I guess the next time a barrage of rockets lands on Sderot, and in class that evening the teacher demands that whoever was responsible put his hand up, some member of the Al-Aqsa will sheepishly put his hand up, and be made to stand in the corner wearing a dunce's hat.

The Red Cross, along with the UN and other aid organizations, tend to side with the perceived victims in conflicts, more so when large numbers of staff are recruited locally (the report says the teacher of this course is a locally-recruited Red Cross staffer).

At best they allow themselves to be accomplices to propaganda, as in the notorious ‘Israeli rocket attack on ambulance’ hoax, and at worst they become involved in the conflict by allowing their vehicles to be used by terrorists (you’ll find a glowing Al Jazeera report on the Red Cross classes for terrorists on the same page).

The Red Cross also likes to lecture the Israelis on the laws of war. But while the Israelis sometimes bend the rules, and occasionally break them, members of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups go out every day with the explicit aim of killing and maiming civilians, whether Israelis or Palestinian opponents. It’s also worth noting that Hamas, along with Hezbollah, is violating the Geneva Conventions by refusing to allow the Red Cross to visit captured Israeli soldiers.

For all the good work it does around the world, the fact that the Red Cross refuses to draw distinctions between the two sides, and continues to allow itself to be used by terrorists in Gaza and elsewhere, shames it.

Related: From the Red Cross First Aid Manual for Combatants, Gaza edition.

Lesson 1: Casualty with severed head:

1. Retrieve head from celebrating mob.

2. Carefully reattach head to neck as shown.

3. Remove video of beheading from internet.

4. Prop casualty up in a chair.

5. Call AP and Reuters, and get them to photograph the casualty, explaining to them that he's in excellent health, but has suffered mild whiplash in a car accident, and is having a nap.

6. When AP/Reuters have gone, remove head again.

7. Wait 24 hours.

8. Call AP/Reuters and tell them casualty has been run over by Israeli bulldozer.


Lesson 2: Casualty suffering from multiple fractures and internal injuries after being thrown from roof by rival faction:

1. If casualty's hands and feet were bound prior to his being thrown from rooftop, untie hands and feet and dispose of rope.

2. Place casualty in recovery position.

3. Call BBC and explain that casualty is impoverished fruit farmer who threw himself from rooftop after being driven to despair by Israel's closure of Rafa border crossing.


Lesson 3: Casualty with multiple bullet wounds to abdomen after being shot by rival faction during protest/Friday prayers:

1. Check casualty for pulse and breathing.

2. If pulse and breathing are detected, administer two shots to the head from close range to finish casualty off.

3. Call France 2 television, and get them to produce a fake video.

Update: Welcome all, and Happy Thanksgiving to my visitors from across the pond. Thanks to JammieWearingFool for linking, and for plugging me over at LGF, and thanks to Theo and Freeborn John for linking too.

Update 2: Thanks Ace and Kate!

Monday, November 12, 2007

A soldier writes on Veterans' Day

All of us are volunteers. We're in Iraq because we want to serve. We are well educated and physically fit and could have pursued a variety of other life options. But, to paraphrase Defense Secretary Robert Gates, we are driven by the romantic and optimistic ideal that we can improve the world. We are seeing real progress on the ground, and we are helping Iraq to change.

Read the whole thing here.

King Juan Carlos tells Chavez to shut up

It's high time somebody did.

Has the BBC turned a corner?

The BBC's Jim Muir has a lengthy report on the improving situation in Iraq. Towards the end there are the inevitable points about the relative lack of political progress and reconstruction, and questions about what will happen when the US begins to withdraw its forces; but the thrust of the piece is extremely upbeat, and contains examples of progress, and optimism from Iraqis, that all too often go unreported.

I'm often critical of the BBC's coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but my beef is rarely with the reporters on the ground, and I've always found Muir's reporting to be well-balanced: when things were going badly he said so, and now things are improving he's reporting the good news. The problem tends to be with the editors in London who dictate the general tone of BBC's coverage, and who give undue prominence to negative stories coming out of the war zones that are often provided by the wire services rather than the BBC's own journalists.

Stories like Muir's are generally confined to conservative magazines or blogs. To see reporting like this from a source as influential as the BBC suggests that the MSM may be beginning to realise that it can't continue to ignore the progress that's being made in Iraq.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"We will march while we can still march, and when we can't march we'll get someone to push us"

It's Remembrance Sunday in the UK. The BBC has reports and photos.

The BBC's Charles Wheeler has met the last five British survivors of World War One. Their stories, and video, are here – it's incredibly moving stuff.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lieberman on the Democrats' treason

With the exception of Fox News, the media seems to be largely ignoring Joe Lieberman's speech at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies on Thursday, in which he slammed Democrats for abandoning the foreign policy tradition of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy. This is news suppression worthy of Soviet Russia, but hopefully reports of the speech will spread via the blogs. If you haven't seen it you can read the whole speech here. A couple of key paragraphs:

Since retaking Congress in November 2006, the top foreign policy priority of the Democratic Party has not been to expand the size of our military for the war on terror or to strengthen our democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East or to prevail in Afghanistan. It has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to abandon the democratically-elected government there, and to hand a defeat to President Bush.

Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America’s moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam, or of the consequences of handing a victory in Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran. And if they did, their campaign would be as unsuccessful as mine was in 2006. Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus’ new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving, or even that that progress has enabled us to begin drawing down our troops there.

Why on earth is Lieberman still in the Democratic party? Some commenters at Hot Air see him as a possible running mate for Rudy, and others are pinning their hopes on a Lieberman/Zell Miller dream ticket. Meanwhile the New York Sun suspects that the speech is part of a build-up to a run by Michael Bloomberg.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The opinion polls aren't settled either

The BBC is trumpeting the results of a poll it commissioned, which, it claims, shows that "most people are ready to make personal sacrifices to address climate change". Its report on the poll says:

Four out of five people indicated they were prepared to change their lifestyle – even in the US and China, the world's two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide.


BBC environment reporter Matt McGrath says the poll suggests that in many countries people are more willing than their governments to contemplate serious changes to their lifestyles to combat global warming.

22,000 people in 21 countries were interviewed for the poll, and the figures given for the UK respondents were fairly representative of those for all countries, with more than 80 per cent agreeing that lifestyle changes were 'probably' or 'definitely' necessary.

Strange, then, that a separate poll conducted in Britain and reported on by Reuters a couple of days earlier produced very different findings:

Warnings about the effects of climate change have made most Britons aware of the crisis, but few are willing to make major changes to the way they live, a survey showed on Friday.


The survey, the sixth since 1986, found that six out of 10 people said they knew a lot or a fair amount about climate change and many were willing to do something to help.

But nearly half declared they would not make changes that impinged on their lifestyles and less than three in 10 said they had switched to using a more fuel-efficient car, cut car usage or taken fewer flights.

This doesn't quite square with "most people are ready to make personal sacrifices" does it? And here's a third poll on the same subject, reported in the same Reuters story:

A separate consumer survey found people over 50 – among the most climate-aware and affluent group – were deeply suspicious of any government move to raise green taxes, viewing it as a money-making mechanism.


The survey by Millennium, an agency specialising in marketing to the mature, found 84 percent believed the government was capitalising on climate fears to raise funds and also found little willingness among respondents to change lifestyles much – if at all – to benefit the environment.

Not only does the BBC's poll contradict two others taken at around the same time with regard to attitudes to 'climate change' in the UK, it also suggests there's been a dramatic change in opinion since the BBC reported on another independent poll back in July:

The public believes the effects of global warming on the climate are not as bad as politicians and scientists claim, a poll has suggested.


There was a feeling the problem was exaggerated to make money, it found.

But hang on a minute – here's yet another poll, which the BBC reported on in September, and which seems much more in tune with the findings of the BBC-commissioned poll we kicked off with – and funnily enough, it was also commissioned by the BBC:

Large majorities in many countries now believe human activity is causing global warming, a BBC World Service poll suggests.


An average of 79% of respondents to the BBC survey agreed that "human activity, including industry and transportation, is a significant cause of climate change".

Nine out of 10 people said action was necessary, with two-thirds of people going further, saying "it is necessary to take major steps starting very soon".

Again, while people in various countries were interviewed for this poll, the results for the British respondents were about par for the course.

In case you're becoming confused – I know I am – here's a quick recap: we have three independent polls suggesting that Britons are either ambivalent or skeptical about whether climate change is a real problem, and highly skeptical about the motives of those who demand action; and we have two polls commissioned by the BBC which suggest that Britons, along with the rest of the world, are not only fully on board with the threat of climate change, but are prepared to endure tough measures to tackle the problem.

Both BBC polls were conducted by GlobeScan and PIPA, The Program on International Policy Issues. And lest anyone be thinking that these must be independent organisations, with no axe to grind and no vested interest in the outcome of the polls they conduct, here's GlobeScan President Doug Miller commenting on the BBC's September poll:

…Miller said growing awareness of global warming had awoken people's self-interest.

"The impacts of erratic weather on their property, on their person, on their country is tangible and real to people across the world."

He said "the strength of the findings makes it difficult to imagine a more supportive public opinion environment for national leaders to commit to climate action".

Note that Miller isn't commenting on the findings of the poll, as a spokesman for Mori might, but is giving his personal opinion on the subject, making it clear that he regards global warming and its consequences as a given.

The 'Core Practice Areas' listed on GlobeScan's website include Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Community Affairs, and the site features a photo of the Earth taken from space. I think we get the message.

As for PIPA, the list of 'Recent Studies' displayed on its website tells you everything you need to know: when it's not producing anti-American, anti-war or pro-climate hysteria polls for the BBC, it's producing reports such as 'Less than Half of Pakistani Public Supports Attacking Al Qaeda, Cracking Down on Fundamentalists' (in collaboration with the US Institute of Peace), and 'Muslims Believe US Seeks to Undermine Islam'.

Far from employing politically neutral organisations to carry out its polls, the BBC is working with two groups which entirely share its soft-left, but potentially very dangerous, view of the world and its ills. Pollsters are, of course, masters in the art of manipulating both their subjects and their data to get the results they want – and in the unlikely event that the BBC doesn't get the results it wants, it's a master of twisting the facts to suit the narrative: witness the poll it commissioned which purported to show that most Iraqis thought the Surge had failed, the findings of which were released to coincide with the Petraeus/Crocker testimony to Congress.

It's possible that the findings of the BBC's polls are accurate, and that the independent polls mentioned above, along with others, are flawed, but it's a remarkable coincidence that the BBC is able to produce poll after poll which suggests that the whole world thinks exactly what its news reports tell them they should think. And if the whole world agrees with you, then you can't really be accused of being biased can you?

The snake oil economics of 'climate change'

Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Democrats' global warming rhetoric, as epitomised by Barbara Boxer:

According to Boxer, laws to curb greenhouse gases - this country would have to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half over 12 years to meet the latest international community goals - will do good things for the American economy and create lots of jobs. It's Nostradamus Science wedded to Santa Claus economics.

Saunders concludes:

Today, Democrats have abandoned all reason. They buy the worst-case scenarios and sell snake-oil economics. The air of unreality pervades the debate. It doesn't matter what you spew if you say you believe in global warming. You don't have to sacrifice. Fighting global warming will be easy and good for the economy. This isn't science. It's fantasy.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A short history of eco-fascism

A good piece from global warming 'denier' Philip Stott, explaining that the phenomenon of eco-fascism is not a new one, but is eerily reminiscent of Hitler's concept of 'blood and soil':

…(Hitler’s ‘green’ guru, Richard-Walther) Darré argued that it was the European farmer who had been the creator of European culture, and he proposed the formation of a Germanic ‘aristocracy of the soil’, rooted in the old agrarian community, which would be protected from, and be a bulwark against, the ‘capitalist’ (for which, read ‘wandering Jewish’) world, the “chaos of the market”, and industrialisation. The movement was to be ‘völkisch’ (nearly impossible to translate), with a romantic focus on folklore, the ‘organic’, and purity. Provocatively, he even placed the pig at the heart of this cult, a celebration of German peasant life, coupled with unsophisticated racism, and, above all, anti-Semitism.

Stott's piece was itself inspired by this article by James Delingpole of the UK's Spectator magazine, on the surprising amount of convergence between the views of conservatives and certain strains of modern Marxism, in particular with regard to their opposition to neo-fascist ideologies such as environmental extremism.

Any similarity between An Inconvenient Truth and Triumph of the Will is, of course, purely coincidental.