United Kingdom

The terrorist threat facing the UK is “very high indeed”, Home Secretary John Reid has said.

He told the GMTV Sunday Programme the chances of an attempted attack over the Christmas period were “highly likely”.

Full article here.


A frequent reader, Ed Beauford – who styles himself as an analyst with a Norfolk-based think-tank, the Joseph A. Mahon Center for Strategic Studies, about which I have been unable to divine much – has sent me a provocative email with a modest proposal for solving the Iraq problem. I’m not sure what to make of it, so I’ll let you be the judge:

The experience of the American and British governments in Iraq over the past three years has unfortunately definitively demonstrated two principles of modern geopolitical organization. These principles can be described as follows:

  • Pluralistic, multicultural democratic institutions of government are inherently incapable of reproducing themselves within other sovereign lands. They are like mules – crossbred, figurally disproportionate, and ultimately sterile.
  • Pluralistic, multicultural democratic governments are inherently incapable of achieving lasting revolutionary change through conventional warfare. For every dollar spent on warfare, such institutions will spend two hours on the moral and ethical implications of that dollar. Moreover, such institutions are fundamentally different from the regimes of history’s great conquerors. When Genghis Khan rolled through most of Asia in the 13th century, he occupied and dominated his conquests, with no thought of handing over the keys to the vanquished. Within democratic circles where dissenting voices have the power to influence policy, “occupation” is a nasty word, and “domination” is unthinkable — except through puppet institutions that are ultimately toothless because they are restricted by democratic principles imposed on them by the democratic institutions that have created them. Such limitations show the folly of warfare conducted by democratic nations in the 21st century.

Where governments take aggressive action and ultimately fail, the result is typically described as “chaos.” The analogy adopted by the Iraq Study Group in its recently released report is that the situation in Iraq is “grave and deteriorating.” The facts that underlie such assessments are that individuals in Iraq, banding together and taking aggressive action under the auspices of tribal factions, have filled the power vacuums created by the failure of governmental action.

The unspoken conclusion of almost every partisan voice in the American landscape — whether they support increased troops, a reduction of troop levels combined with diplomatic maneuvers, or a complete pullout of Coalition forces — is that tribal activity in Iraq is currently more powerful than the military activity by governments in the region. The seductive principle one may fashion from all of the foregoing is that tribal activity is inherently more influential than governmental activity, and is therefore the most influential force that can be imagined within the Iraqi situation.

Experience elsewhere throughout the last century, however, supports a different conclusion. When government fails, tribal activity certainly does follow to fill the power vacuum in almost every instance. However, corporate activity — defined here as the activity of multinational corporations whose primary purpose is the achievement of higher profits — has shown itself to be the most powerful force in human affairs in the 20th and 21st centuries, subduing and marshalling tribal behavior through the utterly irresistable effects of its marketing and, in effect, forcing governments “to go along to get along” with its aims. Corporations thrive within the alleged “chaos” of the marketplace.

The U.S. government is spending approximately $6 billion per month on the Iraq situation. Such figures are not unfamiliar to oil companies such as ExxonMobil, which spend billions of dollars per year on exploration projects. The Central Intelligence Agency estimates that there are 112,500,000,000 BBL of proved oil reserves in Iraq. That makes Iraq the fourth most oil-rich nation in the world, behind Saudi Arabia, Canada and Iran. Iraqi oil, combined with the “chaos” of tribal activity, provides a unique opportunity for a forward-thinking multinational corporation to rise to the occasion.

It is time for a multinational corporation (an “MC”) to stage a coup inside Iraq, wresting control of the situation from both the ineffectual coalition of U.S., UK and “Iraqi nationalists,” as well as from the factional leaders of the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds.

For a cost comparable to that of the U.S. effort in Iraq, an MC can hire a force of 600,000 trained mercenaries, and arm them and protect them better that the U.S. has proven itself capable of doing, without the necessity of hacking through a partisan political debate over the reinstitution of a draft. It can use this force to secure the borders of Iraq, cutting off all supply lines to the insurgents and pointing big guns at Iraq’s neighbors – Syria, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Attempts to breach the sovereignty of an MC-controlled Iraq may be met with a swift corporate military response. At the same time, corporate money can be applied in ways to prevent interference – by giving Iran, for example, a favored partner for its own oil development plans. Once the borders are secured, an MC can use its hiring and firing capabilities to bring a measure of prosperity to warring factions, as well as holding up the prospect that there is something to lose by continued in-fighting.

Force and ruthlessness are the MC’s greatest tools, however. An MC can go into the Iraq situation with the express objective of conquest, at the cost of death, in an effort to control oil reserves. This means that waging war on factional leaders – in effect, taking them out – will not be restricted by the moral and ethical considerations that hamper democratic governments.

The real solution in Iraq will never come from the “Iraqis.” Without the strength of an autocrat such as Saddam Hussein, there is no Iraqi nation-state – there are merely tribes of angry neighbors, elbowing each other endlessly. An MC can act as an autocrat within the region, without subjecting itself to the paralyzing wrath of the international diplomatic community.

SAUDI ARABIA is threatening to suspend diplomatic ties with Britain unless Downing Street intervenes to block an investigation into a £60m “slush fund” allegedly set up for some members of its royal family. A senior Saudi diplomat in London has delivered an ultimatum to Tony Blair that unless the inquiry into an allegedly corrupt defence deal is dropped, diplomatic links between Britain and Saudi Arabia will be severed, a defence source has disclosed.

The Saudis, key allies in the Middle East, have also threatened to cut intelligence co-operation with Britain over Al-Qaeda.

They have repeated their threat that they will terminate payments on a defence contract that could be worth £40 billion and safeguard at least 10,000 British jobs.

The Saudis are furious about the criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into allegations that BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defence company, set up the “slush fund” to support the extravagant lifestyle of members of the Saudi royal family.

Full article here.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose financial and weapons sanctions on North Korea for its claimed nuclear test in a resolution that Pyongyang immediately rejected.
The U.S.-drafted resolution, which said the reclusive communist state’s action was a “clear threat to international peace and security,” allows nations to stop cargo going to and from North Korea to check for weapons of mass destruction or related supplies.

The resolution bars trade with North Korea in dangerous weapons. It also impose bans on heavy conventional weapons and luxury goods and asks nations to freeze funds connected with North Korea’s unconventional arms programs.

Full article here.

Of course, the U.S. has been unwilling to confirm that North Korea’s test actually took place, although today U.S. intelligence officials told their Japanese and South Korean counterparts that the presence of radiation detected by U.S. aircraft suggested the possibility of a nuclear test. Regardless of whether or not the test took place, as President Bush said last week, the mere fact that North Korea is claiming to have tested nukes poses a threat to global peace and security.

Okay, we understand his point — but the incentives may be all wrong here. Wouldn’t this be a safer world if everyone said they were testing nukes but no one actually was testing nukes?

Britain is a country of ‘vulgar, aggressive, unprincipled, consumerist zombies,’ according to a new book by a French writer.

Agnes Poirier – who has lived in Britain for a decade, writes for various British newspapers, and has a British boyfriend – says in her book The English Model, A French Illusion that in Britain, ‘customs are characterised less by gallantry and more by virility, cruelty and aggressiveness.’

Her book is intended as a warning to French voters against supporting a new generation of French politicians who model themselves on British politics, and Tony Blair in particular. Right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy and moderate left-winger Segolene Royal both base their politics and presentation on Blair’s techniques, and are considered front-runners for the presidency.

She writes of the British: ‘They have no understanding of philosophy, beauty or art. They do not even have any intellectuals. It is a kingdom of narrowly educated specialists on the one hand and those lacking general culture on the other.

‘This makes for boring conversation. People talk only about what they know about or else limit themselves to comments on the weather, the property market or the cost of educating children.’

Full article here.

Two thoughts: (1) she’s never visited the U.S., and (2) I’ll bet the real Zombies are pissed … all that flesh-eating and devastation-dealing, only to have their headlines stolen by a bunch of pepperpots chatting about low cloud cover while picking through the frozen food section at Tesco’s.  It’s enough to humiliate even the undead.

This doesn’t prove a thing, of course, but at least one news outlet, The Daily Telegraph in Australia, was reporting over the weekend that the transatlantic bombers were planning to unleash their terror on August 22:

THOUSANDS of people would have died in the air and on the ground on August 22 if the terrorists managed to carry out an evil plan to use liquid bombs disguised as sports drinks to bring down the trans-Atlantic aircraft.

UK authorities yesterday named 19 terrorists aged between 17 and 35 suspected of being involved in the plan. Alarmed British security chiefs launched emergency raids to foil the plotters after intercepting a message from a possible ringleader in Pakistan which said: “Do your attacks now.”

The four-word command was viewed as a signal for plotters to bring forward their plan to destroy as many as three aircraft an hour for three hours.

Full article here. Most other sources seem to be saying that August 16 was the planned date for the attacks — so this Daily Telegraph piece might just be shoddy reporting.

In particular, it does not prove any of the following:

  • that Iran had anything to do with the Transatlantic Plot;
  • that if British and American authorities were correct in thinking that it was an Al-Qaeda plot, that Al-Qaeda was paying close attention to its Islamic calendar and had chosen the date for reasons of religious symbolism; or
  • that the Western intelligence community has just spoiled the first inning of the Armageddon ball game rapturously anticipated by apocalyptic Christians.

Meanwhile, Mike Wallace’s interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which aired on 60 Minutes last night, does prove one thing that many of us have been suspecting for some time: whatever happens on August 22 (27 Rajab or 31 Mordad, if you prefer), Ahmadinejad has essentially already given the West his answer — nothing will deter Iran from continuing its nuclear program. Through brilliant white teeth and with every nuance of his body language, Ahmadinejad may as well have told the West to go pound salt last night.

You gotta love Mike Wallace, though — I’m not entirely sure where he gets his assessment of Ahmadinejad as a rational fellow (there’s a certain system to his thinking, but I’m not sure it’s a rational system) — but throughout the interview Wallace showed that, at the age of 88, he really doesn’t give a shit what people think of what he says — whether it’s Americans complaining about his complimentary observations about an Islamic ruler, or whether it’s an Islamic ruler who goes on the offensive when Wallace asks him about his goal to wipe out Israel.

I do agree with Wallace that Ahmadinejad is a smart guy, though. He’s certainly got the West running rings around itself — making us wait for an answer, distracting us with Hezbollah, stirring up trouble in Iraq, waving his oil card. Unfortunately, it must be said he’s gotten the better of the U.S. and the Europeans in the first stage of this complex skirmish we’ve got going. Time now for the West to get smarter.

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