Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Did Darwin Kill God?

Find out on BBC Two at 7pm.

Some details can be found here.

Of course, this is one of those "If you have to ask, then the answer must be no" questions.

The G19

Why is the EU, as such, at the G20? It is not a country. So why?

The Last Argument Collapses

For the war in Afghanistan, that is.

The fatuous, desperate, johnny-come-lately feminist argument.

A President In Waiting?

After all, someone has to restore good conservative dirigisme in opposition to the capitalist corrosion of everything that conservatives exist in order to conserve. And, inseparably therefrom, to restore an independent French foreign policy drawing on the glorious battles against all four of German occupation, Soviet infiltration, American domination, and the unbalancing of the nascent EU by British accession.

Hillary's Party Within The Party

Not to be confused with Hilary's Party Within The Party. Ah, how very long ago that now seems...

Anyway, James Forsyth writes:

On The Chris Matthews Show, David Ignatius set out the internal debate in the administration about Af-Pak policy:

“Vice President Biden and the deputy secretary of state Jim Steinberg argued for this narrow focus on al-Qaeda, a kind of minimal definition of the US role. Richard Holbrooke, our new emissary to that part of the world, Hillary Clinton argued with General Petraeus for a broader nation-building effort. And as near as I can tell--we'll have to sort this out over the next week--the president came--leaned on the side of the Biden narrower definition, because I think he's nervous about getting in too deep, the very question you raised at the outset. The problem is you can't do the narrow mission, you can't pacify and stabilize these border areas without also doing the nation building. So, you know, he's in.”

What is interesting about this is that it shows that Holbrooke and Clinton—who are close and both supported the Iraq war and are among the most hawkish Democrats—have not changed their foreign policy views. These two in concert with Petraues, will act as the more hawkish pole of the administration.

Ten Years On, And On, And On

Not least in view of the Clinton Coup, Neil Clark writes:

Divide and conquer has been the classic Imperial strategy since Roman times.

Today’s Empire builders are no different. The particular genius of the modern neo-conservative project has been the use of the theory of ‘humanitarian intervention’, to co-opt liberal-left support for a centuries old project of conquest.

In 1990s it was the Serbs- and their “extreme nationalist” leader Slobodan Milosevic who posed the threat to peace and civilised values. In 2001 it was Mullah Omar and the Islamic hardliners of the Taliban. In 2003 it was the turn of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, with its deadly arsenal of WMD. Now its Iran’s President Ahmadenijad’s alleged attempts to develop nuclear weapons which need to be countered.

Each time a sizeable section of the liberal-left has supported, not those attacked or threatened, but the aggressors. You might have thought that by now, the pattern would be clear to all. But the enduring success of the New World Order’s propaganda machine can be seen by the reaction of many on the left to Milosevic’s death.

Milosevic, a life-long socialist, was a man all true progressives should have mourned. A man steeped in partisan culture, (both his parents fought the Nazis in World War Two), he never once made a racist speech: the famous Kosovo Polje address of 1989 which his critics claimed whipped up ancient ethnic hatreds, was in fact a statement of support for multi-ethnic, socialist Yugoslavia. Far from being a rabid warmonger, the late Yugoslav leader was, in the words of Lord Owen ‘the only leader who consistently supported peace’ and ‘a man to whom any form of racism is anathema’.

The dismemberment of Yugoslavia was initiated not by Milosevic, but by the German decision to prematurely recognise the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia, against all the norms of international law. And war in Bosnia would have been avoided too had US Ambassador Warren Zimmerman not personally intervened at the eleventh hour to sabotage the 1992 Lisbon Agreement which provided for the peaceful division of the republic. ‘If you don’t like it, why sign it’ Zimmerman told the hard-line Bosnian separatist leader Alija Izetbegovic, thereby lighting the touch paper to a conflict which would claim over 90,000 lives. Even after the 1995 Dayton agreement which ended the war in Bosnia, the Imperial appetite was not satiated.

Milosevic’s rump Yugoslavia had to be destroyed too, by providing weapons and training for a separatist terror group, the Kosovan Liberation Army. When the inevitable security clampdown from Belgrade came, the West was at hand to issue the ultimatum, producing a document at the Rambouillet Peace Conference, which as Defence Minister Lord Gilbert has conceded, was deliberately designed to be rejected by the Yugoslav delegation.

Why was it all done? Milosevic’s Yugoslavia was targeted not for ‘humanitarian’ reasons as many still believe, but simply because it got in the way. ‘In post Cold War Europe, no place remained for a large, independent minded socialist state that resisted globalisation', the words not of a left-wing conspiracy theorist, but George Kenney, an official at the Yugoslav office of the US State Department.

There's no doubting who has benefited from the wars which the West is happy to pin on Milosevic. One militarily and economically strong independent nation, has been replaced by a series of weak and divided World Bank/IMF/NATO protectorates. Western capital has unhindered access to raw materials and markets throughout the region, while in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, the U.S.'s biggest from scratch military base since the Vietnam war, jealously guards the route of the $1.3bn Trans Balkan AMBO pipeline, guaranteeing Western control of Caspian oil supplies.

It’s worth remembering that the very same people who clamoured most loudly for action against Milosevic in the 1990s, were those who were at the forefront of the propaganda war against Iraq a few years later. And today, the very same hawks are trying to convince us of the necessity of ‘strong action’ against Iran.

Among the members of the executive of the Balkan Action Committee, who lobbied for US involvement on the side of Izetbegovic in Bosnia, and then for full scale war against Milosevic’s Yugoslavia in 1999, are three names that will need no introduction: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. ‘It‘s either take action now, or lose the option of taking action’ was Perle’s recent comment on Iran: in addition to signing (along with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) a notorious letter to President Clinton in 1998 calling for a ‘comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime’, he also acted as adviser to Izetbegovic’s delegation at Dayton.

It’s time those who supported the military actions against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and the current 'strong' line on Iran, realised that the biggest danger to peace did not come from Slobodan Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam Hussein, or, now, from President Ahmadinejad, but from the serial warmongers who threatened them. The road to Baghdad began in the Balkans. But it won’t end there, unless the liberal-left supporters of U.S. sponsored “humanitarian” interventions start to see the bigger picture.

Self-Conscious, Indeed

Do you know of any other philosopher - at least who has never been one of his doctoral candidates or his underlings, and really at all - who would agree with Peter Singer that, for example, a one-year-old pig takes precedence over a newborn baby because of the pig's greater "self-consciousness"?

Yet Singer is the author of the very long Encyclopedia Britannica article on ethics, basically a plug for his book, which is subtitled The Collapse of Our Traditional Ethics. And he enjoys endless media exposure for his theory of "speciesism" as if it were the consensus, or at the very least a widely held, opinion.

How does he get away with it? Seriously, how?

Attention Deficit No More?

Congratulations to Radio Four on last night's The Medicalisation of Normality. Dare we hope that the tide is turning at last?

Mostly for being born boys rather than the girls wanted and expected by their mothers (more and more of whom know little or nothing about men or boys anyway), half a million British children are now drugged up to their eyeballs with Ritalin and such like as "treatment" for various non-existent conditions.

In fact, having long since decided that femaleness, simply in itself, was a medicable condition requiring the pumping of women's and girls' bodies full of highly poisonous substances in order to stop those bodies from doing what they do naturally, we now seem to have decided to treat maleness in the same way, and to get in even younger than we did with femaleness.

But has anybody noticed? Now, that's what I call an attention deficit.

Until now, it seems. Not before time.

The Beautiful Game?

Or just the "beautiful", preening, pretty-boy players?

People have had it out with me on here in the past for daring to criticise the "working-class" game of football, with its season tickets so obviously pitched at the manual labouring market. Well, each England player's new strip is bespoke - measured for, and then run up by, a Savile Row tailor. Each new member of the squad will go through this, as a sort of initiation. What a touching act of solidarity in the current economic climate.

I sometimes wonder why the really big Premiership clubs still bother with football. They are so rich that they could name a "squad" of simple beneficiaries of some sort of trust fund. The fashion, the glamour, the gossip, the drugs, the drink, the sex, the lot could then just carry on as before, with no need for training sessions or what have you. Who would be able to tell the difference?

The pricing of the working classes out of football, its legendarily bad treatment of its staff, and its use as a sort of circus of performing chavs as there might be performing seals or the performing monkeys like which they are now even trussed up, cannot be tolerated for ever. Or, indeed, for very much longer at all.

"They Had Religion In The Middle Ages?"

"Yes, Auntie, and they took it really very seriously."

So Friar Tuck is now in Robin Hood.

Mind you, there was religion in the previous series. Specifically, there was what we all know to have been the religion of twelfth-century England. A very liberal version of Islam. Of course.

Monday, 30 March 2009

"The Sex Education Show Versus Pornography"

On Channel Four tonight.

Spot the deliberate mistake?

Or just spot the difference?

In the latter case, I can't.

Paternity Leave

Four weeks?

Four weeks?

Well, why not? If, that is, it were available at any point up until the child was 18 or left school, whichever happened later.

I am all in favour of paternity leave. But I cannot see why it should only be available so early in the child’s life. Especially if the child is still breast-feeding, what, with the best will in the world, is the father actually doing all day?

Whereas a teenager, in particular, might very well benefit enormously if his or her father were in a position to say, “That’s it, I’m taking that bit of paternity leave I’ve been owed all these years, and since I’m either back at work the following Monday morning or I lose my job, then this will be sorted out by that Sunday night at the latest, oh yes it will be!” And I do not only, perhaps not even primarily, mean a male teenager.

So let him be able to take it. And let there be a legal presumption of equal parenting, the restoration of the tax allowance to fathers for so long as Child Benefit is being paid to mothers, and the restoration of the requirement that the providers of fertility treatment take into account the child’s need for a father.

There have many hostile reactions to the first of these suggestions, even though it is apparently an expression of mainstream feminism (not something of which I am often accused), when I have written about it in the past. And I know why.

Yes, there is the fact that this would kill off a good skive. Just what is he doing while, in particular, the child is still being breastfed? I mean, apart from being paid?

And yes, there is the fact that this is a challenge to one of the flagships or totems of New Labour smugness, namely paternity leave as presently arranged. They are terribly, terribly proud of having introduced it, and they simply assume, as is their wont, that everyone agrees with them.

But there are three rather deeper reasons for my interlocutors’ ire.

One is that I want the ability to sit around watching the television and feeling self-satisfied while the wife changes nappies to be replaced with an ability, and thus a firm expectation, that proper paternal authority will be exercised, not least in adolescence.

The second is that that authority requires an economic basis, namely high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs such as only the State can ever guarantee, and such as very often only the State can actually deliver.

And the third is that I do not regard, and cannot understand, the simple presupposition on the part of my critics that childbirth is some horrific freak occurrence, rather than something for which - now see if you can take this in - the female body is designed, so that women have been having babies for ever.

More Than Natter

Anglo Noel has excellent things to say about coal not dole, about Jon Cruddas, and about no2eu.

Seven Times Queen of the South

I have received the following email:

Whilst the Bill to amend the Act of Settlement, proposed by British Liberal Democrat MP, Evan Harris, has now lapsed, the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, now proposes to seek the opinions of Commonwealth countries on this matter at the Commonwealth Summit in the Caribbean in November 2009.

At issue is the principle of male primogeniture and allowing non-Protestants, such as Muslims, Hindus and Roman Catholics to accede to the throne. Those affected will be all those nations which have The Queen as their Sovereign.

It is regrettable that the subject of the Act of Settlement has become such an emotive issue with differences aired between Anglicans and Roman Catholics and monarchists and republicans whereas change should always be only to ensure that it will better the constitutional stability of those nations affected.

Many say the Act must be changed because it is discriminatory. Certainly it does not meet the requirements of the European Human Rights, but then nor do any of the European Catholic Monarchies, including the Vatican. The main religions and Christian denominations would also be found, under the Human Rights Act, to be discriminatory against women.

However, whatever the reason may be, amending the Act of Settlement will never be easy and those who say it is simple (Guardian 27/3/09), are, I am afraid, grossly mistaken.

Numerous Acts of the British Parliament, as well as several in the Realms, would require amendment, i.e.: the Bill of Rights (1688), the Coronation Oath Act (1688), the Union with Scotland Act (1707), the Union with England Act (1707), the Princess Sophia's Precedence Act (1711), the Royal Marriages Act (1772), the Union with Ireland Act (1800), the Accession Declaration Act (1910), and the Regency Act (1937).

The Preamble to the Statute of Westminster of 1931 specifies: 'And whereas it is meet and proper to set out by way of preamble to this Act that, inasmuch as the Crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as they are united by a common allegiance to the Crown, it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.”

Whilst proponents of change dismiss the preamble and quote Professor Robert Blackburn that as: 'these words are included in the preamble to the Act, rather than the Act itself, they have no legal basis.' (Guardian 27/3/09).

However in his King and Country: Monarchy and the Future King Charles III, 2006, what Professor Blackburn actually said was: “In British law, the nature of this obligation is moral or one of honour only, because the need for these assents is stipulated in the preamble rather than the actual text of the 1931 statute. But nonetheless, this obligation is a powerful political convention. Indeed, in international terms across those Commonwealth countries affected, it is equivalent to a treaty. Absence of consultation by the UK government before it brought forward legislation to reform the succession laws would be regarded as high handed and arrogant.” In any event the legal significance of the intent of preambles is always arguable.

Furthermore, a precedent was established in 1936 when the British Government required those nations then under The Crown to consent to the 'Declaration of Abdication Act 1936'.

Australia is different from the other fifteen nations of which The Queen is Sovereign as The Queen is also separately Queen of our six States as well as of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is therefore considered that the provision for consent as stipulated in the Statute of Westminster 1931, adopted by Australia in 1942, should also apply to the six States even though their Parliaments did not independently adopt the Statute.

The Statute does not specify to which parliaments the provision is applicable, only: 'the parliaments of all the Dominions'. Realms have taken the place of the old 'Dominions' and according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a realm is: 'a kingdom'. The Federation of Australia comprises seven kingdoms.

The Australian Commonwealth Constitution specifies that: '2. The provisions of this Act referring to the Queen shall extend to Her Majesty's heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.' Any alteration to this would require a referendum of the people.

At the appropriate time, the League will seek legal advice on this matter and particularly whether change to the Succession to the Throne would require not simply a vote of the Australian Commonwealth Parliament, but also one in each of the six Australian States as well as a referendum of the people as specified in Section 128 of the Australian Constitution.

Philip Benwell MBE
National Chairman
Australian Monarchist League

And then there is the situation in Canada, where changes to the monarchy have to be approved by all the provinces. If even one says no, then no it is. Among other forces, that of old-school Scottish Protestantism has never gone away in parts of Canada. Canadian Catholics would pay the price if those forces were roused.

As Peter Hitchens put it yesterday, leave the Throne alone.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Stuart Wheeler Expelled

I bet he’s distraught.

Angry and Offended

Jacqui Smith’s husband says that he can understand why people are “angry and offended” at the “additional items” that were charged to her expenses account.

But it seems that neither he nor she can see anything more infuriating or offensive than the billing error involved. Yet Mrs Timney is allegedly one of this Government’s leading feminists.

Still, how can she possibly have known what was going on in Redditch, when her “main home” is the cupboard under her sister’s stairs in London?

Another situation about which I for one am angry and offended.


An old friend tells me that New Labour has had to repay him and numerous others because it had been both docking a Labour Party subscription from their councillors’ allowances and taking a Labour Party subscription out of their accounts by direct debit. Desperate? That hardly begins to describe it.

And the bankruptcy is more than financial. I am also assured that there might not be an all-women shortlist after all here in North-West Durham, so extreme is the acrimony over it. Well, if not here in Hilary Armstrong’s constituency, then where, exactly? And why, exactly? This looks like the end of the whole scheme.

Meanwhile Hilary’s prominence among the hundred Labour MPs who have signed a Brown-baiting letter in today’s Observer (why isn’t this a huge story?) rather indicates that, whisper it not, she may not retire after all. In which case, she never will. If she is re-elected next year, then she will die in office, because the selection of a successor would be so vicious that nothing else would be permitted to allow it to happen.


Is due to Rowan Williams, for pointing out the shabby treatment of Christianity by the BBC.

Moved by his words, I watched Songs of Praise this afternoon. I was flabbergasted. People who want to watch it weekly presumably want to watch a filmed church service. Certainly, it had far higher viewing figures when that was what it was.

And simply filming a church service of the “hymn sandwich” variety would be vastly less expensive.

Kings and Queens

Stonewall wants members of the Royal Family to be able to contract civil partnerships and then, should they inherit, to reign as joint monarchs with their civil partners.

It is certainly news to me, indeed I am not even sure that it is the case, that anyone contracting a civil partnership (which, since it does not need to be consummated, ought to be available to unmarried close relatives) thereby renounces any claim to the throne.

But whether or not such is already the case, it certainly ought to be.

Marrying and producing a natural heir is what we pay the monarch to do.

The Burning Issue

Outdoor cremations? Well, I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t fancy the curtains and all that. I myself don’t fancy, and won’t be having, the curtains and all that. But Hindus can be buried if it’s done soon enough after death, I’m told. And this country is, you may have noticed, markedly less warm than India. In the open air here, could the body be guaranteed to attain the heat necessary for it to turn to ash? If not, then the situation hardly bears thinking about.

Caste is the obvious point on which “Hinduism” (a problematical concept, but of that another time) clashes with our own culture. But there are others. And this looks like one of them. Indeed, this is not so much a clash with our culture as simply a clash with our climate.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

A Workers' MP On A Worker's Wage?

Mark Lawson thinks so. George Galloway has made enemies on the Far Left because he doesn't. And no one starves to death - no, not even in London - on the median annual wage for full time work, currently just under twenty-five thousand pounds.

But the first MP to do it would be a pariah. He or she would get absolutely nothing done in Parliament, because no one else would have anything to do with him or her. And there is the problem.


What are Lord Lester of Herne Hill and Mary Creagh MP on about? There is a perfectly simple way for cohabiting couples to acquire the rights that they have in mind. It is called marriage. That, at least so far as the pure legalities are concerned, is what marriage is. So I'm sorry, but I don't understand.

Beyond The Pale?

Like the Spanish “Hamilton Family” not so long ago, Berlusconi’s not terribly remarkable remarks about being “paler than Obama” speak of the ambivalence at the heart, if not of the whole of his country, then certainly of a very great deal of it.

To affluent Northern Italians such as flock to Berlusconi and his coalition partners, “Garibaldi did not unite Italy, he partitioned Africa”, and “Naples is the only Arab city without a European quarter”.

Sicilians, by contrast, talk about “the Continent” just as we do, and do so in what for some reason has to be referred to as a particularly impenetrable dialect. In fact, that language is, like so much else on their island, a living monument to their identity as basically Latins, but Latins who are also in large part Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Jews, all sorts.

Meanwhile, have you ever seen any people from those areas only incorporated into Spain in 1492 or not much earlier? How Roman or how Gothic did they look to you? The Moors and the Jews were there for a very long time, and what goes on went on, Islam or no Islam, Judaism or no Judaism, and Catholicism or no Catholicism.

Paella is a variant on a dish found all the way to once-Mughal India and thence around the world (even to Saint Helena, where a rice-based, yellowed staple is called “plow”, to rhyme with “snow”). Numerous fiesta practices are clearly North African, analogous to the survival of berry-hanging at Christmas. All those very common “ez” names (Gomez, Fernandez, Gonzalez, Martinez, &c) are really Jewish. And so on, and on, and on.

Who is not a member of the “Hamilton Family”? Who is really “paler than Obama”? Even the Queen is descended, not only from the “negroid” Queen Charlotte, but, through Elizabeth of York, via the Kings of Portugal and Castille, from the old Moorish Kings of Seville. And thence from none other than the Muhammad himself.

Iraq: The World's Most Dangerous Country For Christians

Canon Andrew White writes:

The Christians of Iraq are some of the oldest and long standing Christians in the world. Here among these wonderful people is still spoken the language of our Lord. Ninety-eight per cent of my people at St George's, Baghdad originate from "Niniwah" (Nineveh) and are the result of the most miserable evangelist ever, who arrived by submarine transportation 2,700 years ago - Jonah. Another miserable person turned up 700 years later called doubting Thomas. He was on his way to India. He told the people that their Messiah had come. They believed him and, to this day, the Christians in Iraq revere Jonah and Mar Thoma.

Yet I look around our church and most of our members (over 2,000) are women and children because our men have been killed or kidnapped. All of our members apart from me are Iraqis and all have suffered terribly. Last year alone, 93 of my people were killed. This year already, five of my people have been killed. All of my original church leaders were killed in 2005 and all Christians in the country who had the means have left and gone to Jordan, Syria or Sweden so that those left behind tend to be the poorer members of the community.

Thus, we are still in the most dangerous place for Christians in the world. Security has slightly improved and some people have returned to places like Dora, but Christians in Iraq are still surrounded by great danger.

I am in a minority here in saying that the war had to happen and Saddam had to be removed, but I was here in Iraq before the last war. I saw the fear and debauchery of the regime. I still do not denounce the war, but what happened afterwards was worse than terrible. It was awful for all but particularly for those groups who are small in number. I do not call them minorities because they themselves object to that term. It does not matter if they are Mandeans, Yazidees, Turkman, Fali Kurds or Christians - they have all suffered, been marginalised and forgotten by the masses.
Proper thought did not take place about the needs or protection of these groups. The fact that these people would be persecuted was to be expected, yet the plans that were needed for their future did not exist. I spent many days in Washington DC and London beforehand and there was a total rejection of any possible religious component to the development of sectarianism. I was told that first water and electricity needed to be dealt with and at a far later date, religion. A few weeks later I was told they could not even deal with water and electricity because religion kept getting in the way.

Religious sectarianism has always potentially been a major issue in Iraq but under the previous regime it did not show its head. The minority Sunni were in control and their first enemy just happened to be the majority Shia. Therefore in previous days the Christians were treated relatively well and given certain freedoms as long as they totally complied.

Today things are different but still people often do not wake up and listen. Hundreds of Christians have been killed, forced to convert or made to pay jezerah tax. On the whole people have not even heard of these problems. I stand in church each week and look at the widows and children without parents. They are my people and I have to provide for them. There is no social security, they need food, clothes and healthcare. They have no money so we have to provide it. I thank G-d that by his grace through our supporters, I have always been able to do this. I might be an Anglican but we do not just give to our own we also give to the Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean, Syrian Orthodox and to some of the Protestant groups. What we can give though is minuscule compared to the extent of the needs.

Other present solutions could be international political engagement and the support of the Iraqi Government. The International Political community has not done a huge amount to help the Christian community. In reality what it can do is limited. The coalition in Iraq has tried to increase security and protection for the Christians and has done so where possible. In recent months it tried to increase MNFI security around Niniveh when the attacks against Christians escalated and together with the Iraqi Government there was some success. But the Christians have had to be careful about the extent of help it receives from the coalition because many of the terrorist groups have wrongly thought that Christians of Iraq have Western links and are part of a Western religion.

The coalition in Iraq has also failed to understand the nature of Iraqi Christianity. At one stage I was asked by the coalition if it would be possible to establish groups of Christians like the 'Sunni Awakening' who would take up arms and would protect the others. This very statement may sound good but it is fundamentally flawed. At no point are Christians like the Sunni community. Very rarely do and would Christians take up arms. Neither do they usually live in communities where the majority are purely Christians and where it is easy to protect a specific area.

Regarding the Iraqi Government, at no point has it ever taken negative action towards Christians. The Iraqi Government does care about its Christians. Members of the Cabinet even regularly come to church. The council and the governor often see how they can help us. But whilst individuals and churches have helped us help the Christians of Iraq, never once has any Christian relief agency ever helped us. It is far too dangerous for them to send people in so they do not help us. It is this point that really frustrates me, that those in some of the greatest need cannot be helped because it is too dangerous to have a presence.

The fact is that it is in the most dangerous places that our fellow Christians need help. It is often said that I have the most dangerous parish in the world. Maybe I do but I will not leave them. Just the other day a famous American preacher said to me the problem is that people have not seen G-d enough like Job did. He said "you have seen G-d in the children of Iraq". I agree I have, I will never leave these people they are indeed the most wonderful people in the world and they just happen to be Iraqi Christians.

The comments are an important insight into what the people of Telegraph Toryland really think about this war. Take this, from Junius:

It appears to me that Iraq is the most dangerous place in the world for anyone. As I understand it, more than half a million Iraqi Christians have been driven from their country of birth by Islamic terrorists. But it is not only Christians who are suffering now that Iraq has reverted from secular state to Islamic theocracy. I also understand that no woman can leave her home with her head uncovered or enter a shop unescorted by a male without the risk of assault or murder. And what of the thousands of Coalition servicemen and women who have in effect sacrificed their lives doing the Mullahs' dirty work for them?

The invasion and its bungled aftermath was a huge humanitarian disaster with hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians dying unnecessary deaths and millions displaced by sectarian conflict, but try telling that to neo-con bloggers such as Con Coughlin and Tory shadow defence secretary Liam Fox. Stuff happens, the surge has worked and everything will be hunky-dory for those fortunate enough to survive the violence. Coughlin and Fox have not said in as many words that they believe the blood price was worth paying to get rid of Saddam and in the wider context of the war on terror, but that is the impression I am left with. Time to move on and give Afghanistan the Iraq treatment.

As for Tony Blair, he still believes he made the right decision to invade and will not be afraid to meet his Maker. The chance will be a fine thing.

And this, from David:

More precisely, the brutal Saddam was a secularist and leaving that to one side, there was tolerance for Christian minorities (and other non Muslims in Iraq such as the Mandeans) which was not to be found anywhere else in the Middle East. The clodhopping invaders allowed all that to be wrecked, like Babylon itself. They also, incidentally, do not allow their soldiers to visit local churches in parallel to a similar ban on going into mosques.

Anyhow the result of the invasion is that Iraq will probably end up cleansed of its indigenous Christian population and already has Islam written into its constitution.

Saedinenieto Pravi Silata?

No, I can't read Bulgarian. I'm not going to pretend that I can.

But "Unity Makes Strength" when the only alternative being mooted to allowing Jean-Marie Le Pen, as the oldest MEP, to preside over the opening session is instead to give that role to the youngest MEP, Dimitar Stoyanov?

In The Rand

How horrifying to see Richard Perle on Newsnight, even if only by satellite, with no suggestion that our shores had been subjected to his foul footsteps' pollution.

But then came Newsnight Review, with Andrew Roberts, no less, expressing his reservations about Atlas Shrugged, opining that "you can't sack all the government employees" and "you can't abolish income tax".

After the renunciation and denunciation of Ayn Rand, here's to that of Leo Strauss.

Rightly Unsettling

Rather than revisiting the Act of Settlement itself, we may and must identify with the tradition of those Catholics, High Churchmen (subsequently including first Methodists and then also Anglo-Catholics), Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others who, never having been convinced of the full legitimacy of Hanoverian Britain, of her Empire, and that of Empire’s capitalist ideology, created the American Republic, fought against slavery both there and in the British Empire, transformed the United Kingdom into a parliamentary democracy, founded the Labour Movement, and opposed the Boer and First World Wars.

And we may and must identify with the largely subterranean ties binding these islands, and thus also the Commonwealth (to which all these islands properly belong), through the vast Jacobite diaspora, to all those touched by the financial centres of the Continent, by the trading ports circling Europe, by the Russian Navy, by the Swedish East India and Madagascar Companies, and by so many other things besides.

Latter-Day Lib Dems

According to The Catholic Herald, the Lefebvrists' possible purchase of a redundant Anglican church in south Manchester is being opposed by Councillor Jackie Pearcey of Gorton North, on the grounds that they are "the Church of the Latter-Day Holocaust Deniers". Councillor Pearcey is a member of the Lib Dems, a party which wishes to abolish Catholic schools, but which now presumes to determine who is or is not a Catholic.

Oh, well, if shouty but self-appointed American Jewish organisations, and culturally Protestant atheist or agnostic German politicians, get to do so, then why not the Lib Dems? At least there are Catholics in the Lib Dems, although heaven knows why.

The Lefebvrist (redundant Anglican) church in Gateshead has excellent relations with its very Jewish local community, and the organ there is played by a distinguished scholar of Judaism, my friend Professor Robert Hayward, Professor of Hebrew at Durham.

But why let facts like that stand in the way of any possible reconciliation with those who have dared to suggest that the Church did not start again from scratch when the name of Vatican II was misappropriated by the forces of what is any case now the defunct secular humanism of the middle twentieth century?

Leave Us Settled

Having kindly linked to yesterday's post about the Act of Settlement, Martin Kelly writes:

"Destroy the Act of Settlement, and you are over two-thirds of the way to destroying the Union. Whether independence would be a good thing for Scotland's Catholics is a matter over which I have grave reservations."

We have not yet seen it fully in England, although we will soon enough, but it has long, perhaps always, been the case in Scotland and Wales that Catholics are at least as Unionist in relation to their own parts of the Kingdom as Ulster Protestants are in relation to theirs. And for the same reason: Catholics have no more desire to go down the road of who is or is not "really" English, Scots or Welsh than Ulster Protestants have to go down the road of who is or is not "really" Irish.

When it comes to the Union, the Protestant Succession is part of the deal, simply as a matter of fact. It is a price we pay for other things, things that we value and on which we depend.

Even in Northern Ireland, voting for candidates and parties is one thing, as is voting for something that you know is not going to go through. But who on the Falls Road is ever really going to risk casting the vote that brings about their own transfer out of the United Kingdom and into a country where you have to pay to visit the doctor? No one.

Unless, that is, the people of the Shankill Road are incited to some sort of retaliation for the repeal of the Act of Settlement.

IVF: The Health Risks

The liberal "Left" media (are there others?) has finally realised what the rest of us have been saying for years.

As John Smeaton puts it:

NaProTech (Natural Procreative Technology) is an ethical, healthy and far more successful alternative to IVF. Unlike IVF, in NaProTech no embryonic children are killed or exposed to harm in the laboratory, and couples' relationships are strengthened. Spread the good news!

With Friends Like These

I was initially quite warm towards John McCain. Yes, the suggestion that McCain was against abortion was laughable. I honestly do not know why NARAL bothers to oppose Republican candidates. On the contrary, they should tell all their supporters to vote Republican at all times, since a Republican victory absolutely guarantees the continuation of totally unrestricted abortion, so that the wholly false promise to restrict it can be used to keep those blue-collar white votes, Catholic and Evangelical, coming in to the party of Wall Street, not Main Street. When the Presidential Election came round, the clear majority of Catholics, almost all black Evangelicals, and a hefty chunk of white Evangelicals had finally come round, too.

But a man of McCain's experience, like the decorated Jacques Chirac, struck me as likely to leave the warmongering to such draft dodgers as Bill Clinton and George Bush. However, the presence of Robert Kagan, John Bolton and the like around him struck me as more than reason enough to support anyone at all against him, even if there was and is still, mercifully, a sufficiently genteel and refined side to Senate Republicans that the utterly uncouth Bolton would have stood no chance of confirmation in any position whatever even if the Republicans has been in control, which they were never going to be. Robert Kagan as Secretary of State? A very lucky escape for the world there. Even Hillary Clinton - yes, even Hillary Clinton! - is better than that.

Now, though, we learn that President Obama is to send yet more troops to Afghanistan. And who is delighted? Why, Robert Kagan, of course.

Obama is very, very wrong about Afghanistan, and must be told so by British, other European, and other Old Commonwealth leaders. No more forces must be sent to that pointless, unwinnable conflict. Instead, those already there should be brought home forthwith, or else bring themselves home without further ado. Making the world anew at the barrel of a gun is not what they signed up for, not what they are paid for, not what they are sworn to do. Quite the reverse, in fact.

There are no "Taliban" distinct from the Pashtuns generally, and they have no desire to run anywhere beyond Afghanistan (or even only the Pashtun parts of Afghanistan) and the Pashtun parts of Pakistan. There is no "al-Qaeda" at all. Iran is not our enemy (and could not conceivably be allied to a Wahhabi, Salafi or Deobandi movement even if she were). Nor is Russia. And nor is Venezuela.

Our enemies are those who launched the attacks on 11th September 2001. They are busily buying up great swathes of our economies. They are in the Gulf. Above all, they are in Saudi Arabia.

But they are the paymasters of the Bushes.

And of the Clintons.

And, I wouldn't wonder, of Robert Kagan.

Drop The Dead Donkey

Yet another good cause to unite Left and Right:

“In 1877, Lord Salisbury, commenting on Great Britain’s policy on the Eastern Question, noted that ‘the commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.’

“Salisbury was bemoaning the fact that many influential members of the British ruling class could not recognize that history had moved on; they continued to cling to policies and institutions that were relics of another era.”

“Relics of another era”—thus did Stephen Meyer, in Parameters in 2003, begin his essay “Carcass of Dead Policies: The Irrelevance of NATO.”

NATO has been irrelevant for two decades, since its raison d’etre—to keep the Red Army from driving to the Rhine—disappeared. Yet Obama is headed to Brussels to celebrate France’s return and the 60th birthday of the alliance. But why is NATO still soldiering on?

In 1989, the Wall fell. Germany was reunited. The Captive Nations cast off communism. The Red Army went home. The USSR broke apart into 15 nations. But, having triumphed in the Cold War, it seems the United States could not bear giving up its role as Defender of the West, could not accept that the curtain had fallen and the play was closing after a 40-year run.

So, what did we do? In a spirit of “triumphalism,” NATO “nearly doubled its size and rolled itself right up to Russia’s door,” writes Richard Betts in The National Interest.

Breaking our word to Mikhail Gorbachev, we invited into NATO six former member states of the Warsaw Pact and three former republics of the Soviet Union. George W. Bush was disconsolate he could not bring in Georgia and Ukraine.

Why did we expand NATO to within a few miles of St. Petersburg when NATO is not a social club but a military alliance? At its heart is Article V, a declaration that an armed attack on any one member is an attack on all.

America is now honor-bound to go to war against a nuclear-armed Russia for Estonia, which was part of the Russian Empire under the czars.

After the Russia-Georgia clash last August, Bush declared, “It’s important for the people of Lithuania to know that when the United States makes a commitment—we mean it.”

But “mean” what? That a Russian move on Vilnius will be met by U.S. strikes on Mother Russia? Are we insane?

Let us thank Divine Providence Russia has not tested the pledge.

For can anyone believe that, to keep Moscow from re-establishing its hegemony over a tiny Baltic republic, we would sink Russian ships, blockade Russian ports, bomb Russian airfields, attack Russian troop concentrations? That would risk having some Russian general respond with atomic weapons on U.S. air, sea and ground forces.

Great powers do not go to war against other great powers unless vital interests are imperiled. Throughout the Cold War, that was true of both America and Russia.

Though he had an atomic monopoly, Harry Truman did not use force to break the Berlin blockade. Nor did Ike intervene to save the Hungarians, whose 1956 revolution Moscow drowned in blood.

John F. Kennedy did not use force to stop the building of the Berlin Wall. Lyndon Johnson fired not a shot to halt the crushing of Prague Spring by Soviet tanks. When Solidarity was snuffed out on Moscow’s orders in 1981, Ronald Reagan would not even put the Polish regime in default.

In August 1991, George Bush I, in Kiev, poured ice water on Ukraine’s dream of independence: “Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred.”

Many Americans were outraged. But outrage does not translate into an endorsement of Bush’s 43’s plan to bring Ukraine into NATO and risk war with Russia over the Crimea.

Bush 43 bellowed at Moscow last summer to keep hands off the Baltic states. But his father barely protested when Gorbachev sent special forces into all three in 1991.

Bush I’s secretary of state, Jim Baker, said it was U.S. policy not to see Yugoslavia break up. Bush 43 was handing out NATO war guarantees to the breakaway republics.

“Washington ... succumbed to victory disease and kept kicking Russia while it was down,” writes Betts. “Two decades of humiliation were a potent incentive for Russia to push back. Indeed this is why many realists opposed NATO expansion in the first place.”

Few Americans under 30 recall the Cold War. Yet can anyone name a single tripwire for war put down in the time of Dean Acheson or John Foster Dulles that we have pulled up?

Dwight Eisenhower, writes Richard Reeves, in his first meeting with the new president-elect, told JFK, “‘America is carrying far more than her share of the free world defense.’ It was time for the other nations of NATO to take on more of the cost of their own defense.”

Half a century later, we are still stuck “to the carcass of dead policies.”

Friday, 27 March 2009

Leaving Things Settled

There is a certain Spot The Deliberate Mistake quality to proposals to make the monarchy more egalitarian or (God help us all) "meritocratic".

The Act of Settlement is good for us Catholics. It reminds us that we are different, and it does us the courtesy of taking our beliefs seriously by identifying them as a real challenge.

I question the viability of a Catholic community which devotes any great energy to the question of ascending the throne while the born sleep in cardboard boxes on the streets and the pre-born are ripped from their mothers' wombs to be discarded as surgical waste. Far from being a term of abuse, the word "Papist" is in fact the name under which the English Martyrs gave their lives, and expresses the cause for which they did so, making it a badge of honour, to be worn with pride.

The Protestant tradition is a fact of this country's history and culture. No good purpose would be served by denying it its constitutional recognition. And we must never countenance alliance with those, such as Evan Harris, who wish to remove Christianity as the basis of our State. Parties, such as his or the SNP, that wish to abolish Catholic schools need not imagine that noisily seeking to repeal the Act of Settlement somehow makes their position any better.

As for male primogeniture, it, too, sends an important signal: that the male line matters means that fathers matter, and that they have to face up to their responsibilities, with every assistance (including censure where necessary) from the wider society, including when it acts politically as the State.

On matters such as this, we should listen to the voice of Recusancy, currently in the Commons (and it has been largely "reformed" - what an appropriate word! - out of the Lords) the voice of the gloriously anti-war Edward Leigh more than anyone. He has no time for this proposal, and rightly sees the whole thing as an excuse to bring the question of the monarchy to the floor of other Parliaments, particularly in Australia.

There is only one circumstance under which these changes could begin to be justified, namely that any Realm or Territory may leave the family defined by our shared monarch unless they were given effect, though not otherwise. Which is considering doing so?

News Of The Real World

Fraser Nelson was on the Today programme, going on about how "mobile" bankers are and how much income tax they pay. So we have to be nice to them. Apparently.

But where would they go? Where would take them in at the moment? There would be politically serious calls to deny them entry to many countries.

Anyway, they are not really "mobile" at all. The ones here are almost always either British or Irish. They only want to live in one of two cities on earth. And they don't want to live in New York in America's current pitchfork mood.

As for income tax, they don't pay it.

Radio Four and The Spectator are one thing (up to a point), Fraser. But good luck writing this in your News of the World column.

Questions For Question Time

Why travel all the way to Newcastle for a Norfolk MP, an Essex MP, a London-Surrey border country MP, a South East MEP, and Michael Winner? You might as well have the thing from London every week.

And, apart from that once a year thing, could you at least restrict the audience to people who are old enough to vote? I felt like I had accidentally switched over to Skins.

Allow No Additional Cost

Why do MPs think that they have a Palace?

What's wrong with living in that?

Cameron: A Telling Off

"What was the worst telling off that you ever had at school?", a pupil asked David Cameron. Jokingly, he didn't answer. Can anyone else?

Hail To The Chief Engineer

I don't know how Neil Craig has managed to miss this:

There is a need for better trans-departmental management of engineering policy. The Government should adopt a practice of formulating and following roadmaps for each major engineering programme, including skills provision with co-ordination between each of them. The Government should also be more strategic in its support for emerging industries and policy areas. Finally, Government would benefit from having senior officials tasked to oversee engineering roadmaps and strategic plans, and to manage engineering advice in a Civil Service with more residual and specialised engineering expertise. There should be two people responsible for this challenging body of work: a Government Chief Scientific and Engineering Adviser and a Government Chief Engineer.

A Chief Engineer? Splendid idea. And I write, of course, as a diehard arts and humanities man myself. Here's to all those lovely nuclear power stations, and to that vastly improved public transport infrastructure. Just for a start.

Gurkha Justice

Not only should old Gurkhas have an absolute right to live and be naturalised in the United Kingdom, but (an even more pressing need) serving and former Gurkhas' children should be charged only home student fees by universities here. When is that going to happen? Why hasn't it happened already?

Jacqui Smith, over to you.

A Real Threat



And what are we doing about it? What has our erosion of civil liberties, or our war-waging, or our renewal of Trident, to do with it? Absolutely nothing.

Making A Bad Situation Worse

The UN can wring its hands all it likes about the expulsions of aid agencies from Darfur (and note that mysterious air strike against Sudan yesterday). The matter should be taken up with the International Criminal Court. What on earth did anyone expect to be the response to the probably illegal and certainly unenforceable indictment of the Sudanese President?

War Criminals

Forget wildly counterproductive gesture politics over Sudan. With lots of links, Neil Craig writes:

On September 21 2000, 14 heads of leading NATO states — William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton, Madeleine Korbel Albright, William Sebastian Cohen, Anthony Charles Lynton “Tony” Blair, Robert Finlayson “Robin” Cook, George Islay MacNeill Robertson, Jacques René Chirac, Hubert Védrine, Alan Richar, Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder, Joseph Martin “Joschka” Fischer, Rudolf Albert Scharping, Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga and Wesley Kanne Clark — were tried in absentia by the Belgrade District Court and sentenced to 20 years in prison each, upon the charges brought by the Serbian State Prosecutor for the crimes of instigating and fomenting war of aggression, violating territorial integrity and sovereignty, assassination attempts of the highest state officials, war crimes against the civilian population, wanton destruction and use of impermissible means of war.

They have yet to serve their prison terms.

I don't think anybody can deny that all these creatures did this & that the legal & evidential case is overwhelming. We know they did it in the full knowledge that they were not preventing genocide but deliberately committing war crimes for the purpose of helping a NATO armed KLA who were the ones committing genocide, in his words "responsible for more deaths than the security forces" since confirmed in the recent "trials" where no charges at all were brought for the allegedly massive number of massacres which were the excuse for these crimes. Even the British Parliament through its Foreign Affairs Committee has now acknowledged that the war they voted for was criminal.

Since the Yugoslav court made its finding we have found out about the massacres, genocide, sexual enslavement of children & most recently the kidnap & dissection while still alive of at least 1,300 to steal body organs carried out by NATO police acting under the authority of these pro-Nazi war criminals carried out with the western leaders' full knowledge that this is what they did.

We live in a world that is getting ever smaller & we need a rule of international law just as much as we need mugging to be illegal on our streets. The danger to the entire human race caused by NATO actions likely exceeds the damage caused to the Yugoslavs & certainly far exceeds the benefit of having Kosovo as our colony. Until these animals are brought to justice no NATO politician is in a position to claim moral equality with the likes of Mugabe & more importantly no circumstances in which the leaders of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea can sanely trust to any assurances they make.


Deva Kumarasiri must have done something truly dreadful in a previous life, since he was on Jeremy Vine today against Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who kept pretending not to understand what he was saying. Imagine how she would have reacted, and rightly, if a white commentator had done that. Still, he is from Sri Lanka, and is therefore presumably a lot darker than her. I think we can all see what is going on here.

Oliver Doesn't Want Any More

He has made that very clear today. He was always the least serious of the quintet, anyway.

Oh, well, then, it seems to be over to Douglas Murray. As impossible a Tory candidate as Kamm is a Labour one, and for much the same reason. If anything even richer (he doesn't even have to pretend to have a job). And regarded by the BBC as less significant politically than Fern Britton.

Will he, to use one of his own favourite expressions, step up to the plate?

Thursday, 26 March 2009


At 80, Jean-Marie Le Pen is likely to be the oldest member of the new European Parliament, entitling him to chair the election of a President and to make a little speech. In 1989, the FN nominated the film director Claude Autant-Lara, then aged 88, at the top of the list in a region where it was guaranteed at least one seat, specifically so that he could do this. Who will guarantee a safe seat to someone over 80 in order to deprive Le Pen of, almost literally, his five minutes of fame?

But then again, the sight of Le Pen in this position would at least bring home to our electorate the fact that, both on the floor of the European Parliament and in the governing coalitions represented at the Council of Ministers, we are subject to the legislative will of Stalinists, Trotskyists, neo-Fascists, neo-Nazis, members of Eastern Europe's kleptomaniac nomenklatura, people who believe the Provisional Army Council of the IRA to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland, and a growing band of neoconservatives (who have of course stolen other people's parties), soon to be joined by their ever-dependable Islamist allies from the resurgent Caliphate of Turkey.

Not All Bad News

The same report that found staggering levels of binge drinking among British teenagers generally and girls in particular also found that illegal drug use in that age group was going down. Which is no less unsurprising. But which has received practically no coverage from the drug-loving media generally and BBC in particular.

A Co-operative G20?

Here's hoping, even by those of us who wouldn't necessarily agree with every word of this:

Co-operatives UK is asking members to support calls on G20 leaders, when they meet in London on April 2nd, to put people first by providing decent jobs and public services for all; ending global inequalities of wealth and power, and creating a green economy.

In a week of action in the run up to the G20 Summit, development NGOs, trade unions, faith groups, anti-poverty campaigners and international social movements are uniting to make their voices heard.

Pauline Green, Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK, said: “Co-operatives are founded on values of equality and solidarity and they believe in social responsibility, caring for others and protecting the environment.

“The G20 Summit in London is a terrific opportunity to get our message across that more should be done to end global inequality, provide fair employment opportunities for all and help protect the planet.

“The experience of the world economy over the last few months has highlighted the inadequacies of the financial and economic system and lessons need to be learned. Co-operative businesses, like all businesses, are being affected by the economic downturn and more co-ordinated action needs to be taken by governments.

“This is the best opportunity for a generation to learn from the mistakes of the past and to create a more inclusive global system that offers fairness and opportunity for all. This isn’t the time for retrenchment and protectionism, but for reaching out to create a new global system which rewards self-help and recognises the importance of community.”

Added Dame Pauline: “Co-operation as a business model is recognised the world over as a sustainable and people-centred way of doing business that understands the importance of ‘fair globalisation’.

“It provides a means of helping developing countries maximise their potential and thus helping their people live better lives.”

Co-operatives UK is also supporting calls for change from the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), whose members represent over 800 million individuals in co-operatives around the world. The ICA has issued an Open Letter to the governments of the G20.

Iain Macdonald, ICA Director General, said: “The ICA is particularly concerned that the G20 examines every option in seeking to overcome the current financial crisis.

“We are asking the G20 governments to give serious consideration to the advantages of the co-operative model of business. With over 150 years of commercial success in all economic fields, it is our conviction that co-operative enterprise, with its unique set of values and principles, can provide possible solutions particularly in promoting stability in the global economy.”

Henry VIII, He Was, He Was

Petulant, lustful and greedy, but never a Protestant, explains Joanna Bogle:

It is odd to stand outside Barsham Manor – now owned by a pop star – its brickwork mellow in the sunshine, and to reflect that Henry VIII stood there, taking off his shoes in order that he might walk the two miles to Walsingham in bare feet. In the 1520s England was wholly Catholic - nobody could imagine it being anything else. The visit of the king to the great shrine of Our Lady in Norfolk was something at once impressive and normal – impressive because whatever he did as king, he did in style and the festivities at Barsham and the procession to Walsingham were on a suitably splendid scale, and normal because praying to Our Lady in gratitude or in supplication was something absolutely woven into everyone’s lives, king and commoner alike.

I discovered – while walking barefoot myself along that lane and studying the history – that this Norfolk shrine plays its own tragic part in the Reformation story. Henry had gone there to give thanks for the birth of a son to his wife Catherine. By the time he had got back to London – communications being slower then – the child was already dead. Did he, one wonders, harbour ever afterwards a special grudge against Walsingham? Certainly, along with all the abbeys and priories in England, it came in for savage treatment. In April 1537 the shrine was destroyed, some of the monks paid off and others (who refused submission) were hanged, the statue on which Henry had hung a golden circlet was taken to London and burned by the Thames, at the bottom of Thomas Cromwell’s garden at Chelsea.

The Reformation in England was composed of events that were unique. It was not – despite the message put across by later propaganda – essentially a revolt by the common people against the corruptions of the Church, much less a call for a change to “purer” doctrines. It had its roots in the personal life of the Sovereign – a Sovereign initially wholly dedicated to the Church and to the end a staunch attender at a daily Latin Mass with all the traditional trimmings – and in his petulance, lust, avarice and greed.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII. His reign marked the greatest single upheaval that Britain has known – because it was a spiritual and cultural upheaval as well as a social and political one. No other single event, not even the industrial revolution of the 19th century, or the two World Wars of the 20th, has had quite the profound impact of the Reformation. We see its effects everywhere – in the way we view history, in the rural landscape with its (often very beautiful!) ruined abbeys, in the way we take for granted the notion of churches of different denominations in our towns and cities.

Certainly, however, the events in England cannot be seen in isolation. In 1534 and 1535 when the king’s “great matter” – his planned annulment of his marriage to Catherine and his marriage to Anne Boleyn – were being played out, it was against a backdrop of ferocious religious ferment in Europe. Martin Luther had been hauled into court in 1518 to defend his arguments on indulgences. In 1521 he wrote his letter to the Pope, von der Freiheit des Christenmenchen, and events were set in train for his excommunication which happened later that year. Despite its title, his famous document was not concerned with freedom as we today would understand it –it no prototype for a United Nations declaration on religious liberty. On the contrary, it is a set of affirmations on what the Church ought to say and believe. It rests on a whole range of ideas – still at that stage being worked out – concerning man, his free will, God’s plans, salvation, punishment, how we obtain God’s mercy, and much more.

But what really resonated with people was not really Luther’s doctrinal ideas – which then and later were confused and not particularly popular. What resonated was a general sense that the Church needed some cleansing. There was corruption and greed. There was an indefinable inability to engage with a changing world.

It is ironic – and a tragedy – that among those who would die as martyrs for the Catholic cause in Britain were leading supporters of authentic reform within the Church. Thomas More, the Chancellor of England, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, both saw an urgent need for change. Long before he clashed with the king over the latter’s demands for support in abandoning his wife and marrying his mistress, Fisher was pioneering reforms in the education of clergy – he effectively established the Library at the University of Cambridge in a modern form – and in their pastoral training. There are touching accounts of him visiting the sick and dying, showing his priests by practical example how they should minister. Thomas More, as a leading layman, denounced clerical greed and ignorance. Both men died on the scaffold at the Tower of London for opposing the King’s break with Rome.

Henry VIII’s lust and greed ensured that the crucial events of the Reformation in England centred on his own personal needs. Other issues did not emerge until later. He never intended to create a Church of England as it later came to be seen and understood. He always thought of himself as a Catholic, never knew the Book of Common Prayer, would have been baffled by the Protestantism of later generations with teetotalism and Baptist chapels and the Salvation Army.

Henry’s divorces produced tragic children: the mistakes and tragedies of Mary’s reign when she sought to reunite England to the worldwide church and people were cruelly executed for heresy, the tortures and executions of Elizabeth’s reign, the use of the rack and the rope and the dungeon.

Later centuries saw good come out of tragedy: the Protestant denominations born out of confusion and division nevertheless produced men and women who came to know and love Christ and contribute hugely to English history: William Wilberforce, General William Booth, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Fry. The Catholic Church survived persecution to soar again in the nation’s life, and today no town is without its Catholic church and its (usually much sought after) Catholic schools.

Today we stand on the brink of a new era: ecumenism is taken for granted, there is genuine goodwill between Christians of different denominations, and we face new challenges. Perhaps our biggest problems are lack of deep Christian convictions and of the courage to stand by them in the face of those who seek to deny a place for God in public and community life. But old divisions are no longer running sores. Many Protestants recognise the value of a church structure with some kind of authority. Many Catholics see and admire the vibrant faith of Evangelicals. Henry VIII’s arrogance, lust and greed shaped history in his day, but we can shape the events of today and tomorrow.

Equal Opportunities

Just sent to info@stalinsociety.org.uk; info@fpp.co.uk; admin@mcb.org.uk; oliver.kamm@thetimes.co.uk; peter@petertatchell.net:

A Stalin Society member, David Irving, Daud Abdullah (we do have some Muslims here, even if not very many), Oliver Kamm, Peter Tatchell or (since he already seems to be a candidate elsewhere) someone who shares the full range of his views, and (if they bother to put her up, rather than giving Kamm a clear run) a New Labour candidate whose only political opinion is her support for partial birth abortion.

So, a gulag-denier, a Holocaust-denier, a Sharia supporter, a Bush-loving warmonger, someone who wants to lower the age of consent to 14 or even younger, and a baby-murderer. All each other's moral equals, of course.

Plus me. A passionate opponent of all of the above.

Go on. Let's make North-West Durham the most interesting parliamentary contest in England, at least, for generations. What is stopping you? The Soviet Union collapsed so quickly that much of its money cannot have been spent to this day, and must still be languishing in some London bank account. David Irving is loaded. So are the Saudis. So was Kamm even before the City was bailed out by the rest of us, not to mention that he would be the candidate of the Likud Lobby. And someone must be paying for Peter Tatchell.

I say that there is a ninety per cent chance that none of you could collect enough signatures to get onto the ballot paper. A ninety-five per cent chance that you would all lose your deposits. And a one hundred per cent chance that you would all together take fewer votes than I. Try and prove me wrong. Go on. I dare you.

After all, what are you afraid of...?


So are to be the rules that allegedly exist about promoting condoms and abortions on television. Such advertisement – for so it is, of commercial products or services – will now be “permitted” before the “watershed”, which has not existed for donkey’s years.

If you can find a programme of any kind which is not already an advertisement for condoms and abortion, then you are doing very well indeed.

Still, there will apparently be none such during programmes aimed at the under-10s. Isn’t that a mercy? Condoms and abortions from 10 up, though. Of course.

Condoms are practically thrown even at very young children. They have been for far, far longer than anyone now at school has been alive. Yet the rates of teenage pregnancy, of abortion and of venereal disease continues to rise inexorably. If something does not work, then we should stop doing it.

Meanwhile, will the abortionists be advertising in the Northern Cross? Mates’ rates? We shall see...

Iraq Inquiry

Into Blair’s blood money?

If not, why not?

Could Lead

Apparently, North Korea’s launch of a satellite “could lead” to … well, pretty much anything. And yes, it “could”. Why on earth it would is, on the other hand, the question that we must not ask.

It is no more permitted to wonder why North Korea would want to bomb Alaska than it was to wonder why Iraq would have wanted to bomb wherever it was that Saddam Hussein was supposed to have wanted to bomb, presumably (though entirely inexplicably) the British bases on Cyprus.

Still, if North Korea (or, indeed, Iran) really does want nuclear weapons, then she doubtless wants the ones that Iraq had. Capable of deployment within 45 minutes. Capable of reaching New York from Mesopotamia, so imagine how deep into the American heartland they could reach from Korea.

And completely undetectable by any means whatever.

They Haven’t Gone Away, You Know

Colin Duffy.

Says it all.

If these really were breakaway organisations, then they would have been taken out by the main body. In fact, they are the main body.

The Real IRA is really the IRA, which is its own continuity.

Bank On It

Mervyn King may be right. Mervyn King may be wrong. But the fact that he is in any position to overrule or override Ministers of the Crown accountable to Parliament is because Gordon Brown and Tony Blair reversed one of Labour’s great achievements and ended democratic political control over monetary policy. That reversal must itself be reversed as a matter of the utmost urgency.


The excellent BBC Four series on the Baroque concluded last night. Having started out at Saint Peter’s, it ended up at Saint Paul’s. Sadly, it omitted the English Baroque poetry of Richard Crashaw, or of John Milton for that matter. Are Catholics and Puritans still that little bit beyond the pale?

But it did at least answer one of Those Questions, namely what, in the end, was Cromwell actually for? What did the Interregnum leave behind? In positive terms, as good as nothing, at least in its won country (it did, of course, provide the regicidal precedent for the French Revolution). Why, only a very short time after the Restoration, burnt-down English churches were being rebuilt, not even in the Mediaeval style destroyed by fire, but in the Baroque. Legislatively or institutionally, as good as nothing of the anti-monarchist experiment survives. Which, given the character of that regime, is just as well.

However, it did result in the important absence from these shores, and therefore in the presence on the Continent, of Charles I’s art collection. So there we have it. At last, a point to Cromwell: he kept England philistine.

The Sheep That Roars

And bites.

People say that Rowan Williams is “woolly”. He is not. Like several of his colleagues, he is a very significant and a no-holds-barred critic of greed and selfishness. On the depression, he and they are spot on, even if he was spectacularly wrong about Sharia law a while ago.

It is just a shame that he has now turned his formidable ability to supporting the hysteria over climate change, which is really an excuse to destroy (or prevent the restoration of) high-wage, high-skilled and high-status jobs for the working class; an excuse to retard or reverse economic development in the poorer parts of the world; and an excuse to restrict travel to the rich.

He should instead be offering a characteristically robust critique of that hysteria. We can but hope that Dr Sentamu, Dr Nazir-Ali, Dr Wright and others will do so. Oh, and the Catholic Bishops, of course…

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Effectively Controlled

For reasons that strongly suggest that he has never read any Catholic national newspaper except The Tablet (which isn't really a Catholic newspaper at all), the new editor of the Northern Cross, a monthly newspaper owned by the Catholic Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle and distributed hardly if at all except on church premises, is refusing to print the following letter of mine:

Dear Sir,

Here in North-West Durham, there is to be an all-woman shortlist to choose a New Labour candidate in succession to Hilary Armstrong. This constituency has an exceptionally large Catholic population. Yet all-women shortlists are effectively controlled by the organisation Emily’s List, which requires support for abortion on demand up to and including partial birth. The New Labour candidate is bound to be of that view.

So there needs to be an alternative candidate: a pro-life, pro-family, pro-worker and anti-war candidate who is absolutely committed to Distributism, to the Catholic interest in public service provision, to the Catholic interest in foreign policy, and to the Christian heritage of this and other countries.

The Independent vote last time, one third of the Tory vote, half the Lib Dem vote, and one third of the Labour vote add up to more than the remaining two thirds of Labour support. In short, this seat can be taken.

We need a captain in each parish, who will know where our vote is and who will get out that vote. We need to start organising now. Anyone interested, please contact davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Remember, we only need to be the first past the post. But we need to get our act together without delay.

Yours faithfully,

David Lindsay

Look out for if it ever does see the light of day. If not, then the one thing guaranteeing this largely Catholic constituency a partial birth abortionist for an MP is the collection-plate-employed liberal wing of the Catholic Church.

The editor's name is Andrew Smith, and he can be contacted on editor.norcross@btconnect.com - do feel free to BCC things to my address above. No sender's name will be used should any be so good as to warrant reprinting here.


A comment from Tim yesterday:

- no one’s tax-free income falls below half national median earnings;
- abolition of prescription charges, and restoration of free eye and dental treatment;
- employment rights to begin on day one of employment and apply regardless of the number of hours worked, as promised by John Smith;
- saving council housing, and bringing all council services back in house;
- renationalisation of the utilities and the railways;
- a national network of public transport free at the point of use;
- removal of all nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons from British soil and waters;
- restoration of the supremacy of British over EU law;

Lightening rods for Labour backbenchers.

- restoration of the supremacy of British over EU law;
- a return to preventative policing based on foot patrols;
- each offence to carry a minimum sentence of one third of its maximum sentence, or 15 years for life;
- restoration of grammar schools, restoration of O-levels, restoration of excellent Secondary Modern schools, and defence and restoration of Special Needs Education;
- a legal presumption of equal parenting;
- restoration of the tax allowance for fathers;
- allowing paternity leave to be taken at any time in the first 18 years of the child’s life;
- help for farmers and small businesses through a windfall tax on the supermarkets;
- defence of village services;
- saving shooting and fishing;
- repeal of the hunting ban;
- making Gypsies and Travellers obey the same planning laws as the rest of us;
- preservation of the historic regimental system;
- rebuilding of the Royal Navy;
- saving the Royal Air Force;

Lightening rods for Tory backbenchers.
[He wrote "Labour", but I know what he meant, and he is of course free to correct me if I am wrong.]

- nuclear power and clean coal technology;
- restoration of British overall control of our defence capability;
- Ministers to have their pay docked if either spending or outcomes are lower in the North East [and other regions] than in Scotland or the South East;
- immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq;
- total opposition to lap-dancing clubs;

Lightening rods across the House.

David will have no shortage of allies on the floor of the House of Commons.

To which I replied:

"[and other regions]"

Of course.

And, of course, several of things in either of the first two lists have very considerable cross-party appeal, but within and beyond Labour and the Tories.

Remember, this Election is going to be tight. The next Parliament offers enormous possibilities.

Quite so.

But imagine if, even in this Parliament, an amendment had been put down rejecting the renewal of Trident while proposing the diversion of at least some of the funds to the proper equipment of the Armed Forces. Or rejecting the Lisbon Treaty without mentioning a referendum but simply because it transferred yet more power to a legislative body which met in secret and published no Official Report, while doing nothing to restore the United Kingdom's historic fishing rights in accordance with international law.

How could any Labour or Tory backbencher (at least), or any of the smaller parties, have been seen not to sign or vote for such an amendment? How could anyone from either front bench have come on the Today programme, or written in any of the papers, against it?

There are many other potential examples, and there always will be. There needs to someone in the Commons to get this sort of ball rolling, since no party, to the shame of each and all of them, is prepared to do so. I wish that there were such a candidate in every constituency next time. But I know that there will be at least one.

Don't Mention The War

If today's Guardian is right and they really are going to stop teaching Hitler in schools, then just what are they going to teach? In this country, "history" means the War.

Oh, well, give it 10 years and a happy medium may finally be struck, with the teaching of the War, but of other things as well. Imagine!

No Class In Class

No, of course children should not be free to roam the streets during their lunch break.

But if you need any evidence of the emergence of the underclass, then, to the failure of women to get dressed before going to pick up their children from school in the afternoon (what does it cost to get dressed?), to the failure to put out the rubbish (what does it cost to put out the rubbish?), and to the consumption of ready meals even though they cost more than the fresh ingredients that the people in question have all the time in the world to prepare, you can add the objection to nutritious food even though it is being sold at a very heavily subsidised price.

And just as none of this has anything to do with being poor, so nor does any of it have anything to do with being working-class. Since when was it working-class not to get dressed, or not to put out the rubbish, or not to eat properly? Or, for that matter, not to read books or newspapers?

More Equal Than Others

Having explained his own long acquaintance with Alastair Campbell and Fiona Millar, Peter Hitchens writes:

Last week, he was made 'guest editor' of a magazine called the New Statesman, a small-circulation political weekly of the left. He sought to draw attention to himself by questioning various editors and media figures on their own educations, and the schooling they had chosen for their own children - private or state. I won't go into the answers. None of them struck me as particularly surprising. After all, there's no hypocrisy in sending your children to private schools unless you are publicly opposed to them or, as the saying goes "committed to state education", and few if any editors are.

The real hypocrisy is found among politicians who laud comprehensives and send their children to selective or private schools, and there are plenty such in the Labour party, as we all know.

But what about Alastair and Fiona? What question could one ask them in the same vein? And remember that both of them attended grammar schools, and would probably not be who and what and where they are now if the comprehensives they advocate had existed when they were 10 years old.

Oddly enough, it's rather difficult. I happen to know the area of North London where they live. It used to be within walking distance (if you were energetic) of where I lived, before I fled the capital many years ago. And I also know that it is rather near some of the best, and most unusual state comprehensive schools in London, and perhaps in the country. Three of them are single-sex schools, a great rarity in the state system despite growing evidence that this benefits both boys and girls. There is an interesting shared sixth form arrangement. One of them is almost wholly unique, a former grammar school which was once so distinguished that it became a member of the Headmasters' Conference (the body which represents the great 'Public Schools' - for non-British readers, these are in fact private fee-paying schools, despite the confusing name). Not any more, alas, but perhaps some trace of its former eminence remains, as is often the case with former grammar schools turned comprehensive. It generally gets pretty good reports. It also has a special legal status, normally only granted to church schools (and it is not one), which gives it an unusual amount of independence from its local authority.

Miss Millar, in a 2003 speech condemning parents who use their wealth to secure a good education for their offspring, said of children at state schools "They are taught in fine schools with facilities we certainly never dreamed of as young people...with a diverse mix of children, more often than not by committed, inspired teachers.

"And this may surprise some of the critics of comprehensive schools, but our children work hard, they pass exams, they go to university and they move into successful careers."

All very moving, but could there be an explanation for Miss Millar's rapture. Is it possible that her own experience was not entirely typical? Could it be that the schools near her home are actually better than most comprehensive schools? Even different from them?

Might one ask if Alastair and Fiona knew about these excellent schools when they chose their house? Or how much they paid for that house? And if its price might have been influenced by the quality of the nearby schools? Or if their choice of house was influenced at all by the proximity of these good schools? Miss Millar is in fact chairman of governors of one of these schools, and newspapers have written that two of her children have attended that school. I would also be interested to know if any of Miss Millar's children ever benefited from private tuition outside the school, as did the children of her one-time employer Cherie Blair. Mr Campbell said in July 2002 that they had not, but I should like to check that this statement still holds good. I am told that private tutors are often employed by some left-wing parents who 'believe in state education' but also think that their sons and daughters ought to get into Oxbridge.

No doubt this sort of questioning would be seen by Mr Campbell and Miss Millar as an intrusion into their privacy and - unless they shared their inmost thoughts with the public - we could only guess at the facts. Even so, I think it is the only way of subjecting them to the equivalent of Mr Campbell's New Statesman quiz. For, and heaven forefend that this should be so, if they can be shown to have obtained education privilege for their children, however indirectly, their egalitarian claims look a little thin to me.

I don't want the names of the children, or of the schools. I'll stay vague about the part of London involved. I'm happy (in return) to say that, by great good fortune, my own children have been almost entirely educated in private schools, here and abroad, though my oldest began in the state system. However, my questions serve exactly the same purpose as those Mr Campbell directed at prominent media figures last week. These are prominent public figures, with strong and influential views on education policy. What is their own?

Mad Mel, Indeed

It's a pity, because she is very good on a lot of domestic policy, but today Melanie Phillips is pleased to inform us that "Obama is surrendering the west to the forces of radical Islam" because some old neocon crazy whom one might reasonably have assumed to be dead says that there are "new efforts to appease Putin".

Putin, of course, is so well-known for his "radical Islam" that, while President, he restored the teaching of Christianity in Russian schools, and that, first as President and now as Prime Minister, he has tried to put down the neocon-backed Islamist secessionist terrorism in Chechnya.

If that is "radical Islam", then the more "appeasement" of it, the better.

Ten Years On

Justin Raimondo writes:

Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the nation formerly known as Yugoslavia – an act of aggression that prefigured America's post-9/11 rampage and set the stage for our endless "war on terrorism" in many more ways than are at first apparent.

To begin with, the Yugoslav war, like the Iraq invasion, was predicated on a lie: that as many as 100,000 Kosovars and others were either killed or "ethnically cleansed" from Kosovo, and that this was the conscious plan of the Yugoslav military and political leadership. The 100,000 figure was casually thrown around in the run-up to the bombing, and "Stop genocide!" was the battle-cry of the War Party – a curious agglomeration of the usual neocons and the liberal-Left. This Bill Kristol-Susan Sontag popular front was greatly aided by the personal intervention of Hillary Clinton, who hectored her husband, then the president of the United States, into launching the U.S. attack.

Yet what took place was not genocide but the random brutality of a typical civil war, and the 100,000 figure is very far from the truth. That number didn't hold up for very long, at any rate, and was subsequently revised downward several times: 50,000, 25,000, 10,000. The final body count: less than 8,000, and these included both sides, military as well as civilians. This is not good, but it is hardly genocide.

Yet people believe the myth of the Yugoslav "genocide" to this day, just as a great many Americans continue to believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A lie has only to be repeated often enough before it enters the popular consciousness as "truth" – that's the first lesson in any good war propagandist's lesson book. Surely the War Party had a crack team of liars working overtime back then to put one over on the American people, beaming nonstop misinformation 24/7, as U.S. warplanes bombed one of the oldest cities in Europe at 20,000 ft. – an act of cowardice that underscored the sheer venality of those who launched the conflict. We went to war without UN sanction at the behest of a domestic lobby with a dubious agenda, one that ran directly counter to the national interests of the U.S. and yet was pursued, to the end, with disastrous consequences for all concerned. Does any of this sound familiar?

Neocon grand strategist Bill Kristol declared, in the Weekly Standard, that we ought to "crush Serb skulls." He threatened to leave the "isolationist" Republican Party, which was voting against war funding in Congress. Meanwhile, the Democrats were questioning the patriotism of war critics and demanding that the nation stand united behind a "wartime president." The somewhat hapless Slobodan Milosevic was portrayed as the reincarnation of Hitler, just as Saddam Hussein was later made into this larger-than-life despot whose evil achieved Hitlerian dimensions.

History repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, and, in this case, the second time as an even greater tragedy – with prospects of more to come.

In the former province of Kosovo, the ethnic cleansing that supposedly occurred – in which Serbs turned out Albanian Kosovars – has been put in reverse gear, and the few remaining Serbian inhabitants cling tenaciously to their enclaves in the north, albeit in greatly reduced numbers. The Serbian population has been almost entirely driven into Serbia proper, after a reign of terror that included church burnings and outright murder. All of this occurred under the noses of the NATO/American forces, who stood by and tacitly encouraged the rape of what many Serbs regard as the birthplace of their nation.

On this shameful anniversary, it seems somehow fitting that news is breaking of Richard Holbrooke's promise to alleged Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic that he would be left alone if he withdrew from politics and abandoned all efforts to ensure the survival of the Republika Srpska, in what is now Bosnia. According to Charles W. Ingrao, co-editor of a new study of the Balkan intervention published by Purdue University, a trio of current and retired senior State Department officials have direct knowledge of Holbrooke's pledge.

While Milosevic was ritually tried and condemned and the authors of the anti-Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign lorded it over Kosovo, Karadzic was on the run. For over a decade he disguised himself as a health expert and holistic healer, living under a pseudonym and a bushy growth of beard, putting up his shingle in Belgrade and Vienna as Dr. Dragan David Dabi. His arrest in Belgrade raises the issue of the Kosovo war once again.

The tenth anniversary of the bombing was hailed by Kosovo "president" and accused war criminal Hacim Thaci as commemorating "a great historic day." Liberals of the Clintonian persuasion and neoconservatives agree.

Holbrooke was recently appointed diplomatic czar and envoy extraordinaire for the "Afpak" front, what the Obama team has always termed the "central front" in our eternal war on terrorism. The Purdue study and further revelations unearthed in a Times piece undermine his credibility at a crucial time.

It was Holbrooke, you'll recall, who played the key role of the diplomatic arbiter during the Balkan aggression, insisting on the complete prostration of the Serb minorities in Bosnia and Kosovo and authoring the Dayton Accords, in effect the death warrant of the former Yugoslavia and the beginning of the re-balkanization of the region. Just the man for the job of sowing chaos in the tribal regions of Pakistan and environs.

Holbrooke wisely refused to put his promise on paper, yet there is apparently plenty of evidence that such a deal was struck – and that the capture of Karadzic and his subsequent trial is taking place precisely because he didn't keep his part of the deal. The Times reports the testimony of an American involved with the peacekeeping effort in the region, who spoke to Holbrooke on the eve of the 2000 Bosnian elections:

"'Holbrooke was angry; he was ranting,' the American recalled. He quoted Mr. Holbrooke as saying: 'That son of a bitch Karadzic. I made a deal with him that if he'd pull out of politics, we wouldn't go after him. He's broken that deal and now we're going to get him.'"

Well, they got him, but they can't admit the existence of the deal, just like they can't admit the deal made by George Herbert Walker Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, as the Berlin Wall was falling. Gorbachev agreed to let East Germany go on the condition that NATO would not advance eastward – and Bush I signed on. Today, NATO has advanced to the gates of Moscow and American-made "missile defense" in Poland and the Czech Republic has the Kremlin looking down a gun barrel. When it comes to dealing with the Slavs, no agreement is taken seriously by the Americans, and that includes the INF treaty signed by Reagan and violated by his successors until, today, we have a new arms race in the offing, and the prospect of a new cold war as well.

The Kosovo conflict was in many ways but a dress rehearsal for the massive U.S. military interventions of the post-9/11 era. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is merely the Balkan version of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) – an American-financed-and-armed exile group that provides intelligence of dubious provenance and a political front to lend U.S. military action an aura of legitimacy. The chief difference is that, unlike the KLA, the INC was never a real fighting force and never amounted to anything politically, either.

When it comes to the Kosovo war, the liberal interventionists who inhabit the foreign policy councils of the Obama administration, such as Holbrooke and Hillary, can crow that their version of imperialism is more pragmatic and effective – and even tout it as a "model" for what is being planned in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's what this new emphasis on "multilateralism" is all about: not a softening of the U.S. approach, but a smarter and more "pragmatic" militarism, one that involves a long-term "nation-building" approach that deploys political and economic weapons as well as bombing campaigns and boots on the ground. The extension of NATO into the wilds of Central Asia and the Caucasus will carry this essentially anti-Russian campaign to a new level.

Kosovo, like Iraq, is riven with ethnic and religious warfare that threatens to break out at any moment into full-scale civil war, which could bring in Serbia and prompt action by NATO – and you can guess on which side they'll intervene. This could well be the arena where Obama takes on Putin and gets to pose as a tough guy even as he launches a diplomatic blitz in the Middle East aimed at Iran.

On the Russian question, the Obama administration promises to be even more belligerent and aggressive than the Bush administration. During the presidential campaign, Obama came out for admitting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. John McCain's exhortation, during one presidential debate, that we "watch Ukraine" is advice well worth taking.

This is one civilizational war that all factions of the War Party can agree on, and certainly the groundwork has been laid with all the anti-Russian stunts and rhetoric of the past few years. From the Litvinenko affair to the Yushchenko "poisoning," the propaganda war against the Kremlin has taken on a novelistic air – pulp fiction, to be sure, and for that reason very effective.

The Kosovo war was essentially the first shot fired in a new cold war against what is invariably described as "resurgent Russia," i.e., a Russia without the oligarchs and Yeltsin, who plundered and weakened the country to the point of complete collapse. Coupled with inevitable allusions to Stalin and overblown charges that the country is backsliding into totalitarianism, the Russophobes have been on the march for the last decade or so, urging in effect a war of civilizations – not against Islam, as in the neoconservative version, but a struggle pitting the West against the Slavic East, supporting wars of "liberation" from Georgia to Chechnya and beyond. Right now, the odds are better than even that we'll allow ourselves to get dragged into yet another such righteous and harebrained crusade.