Murdoch’s Revenge As Cameron Wobbles

Life is about co-incidences and I am sure that the exposure of Prime Minister David Cameron in a Murdoch owned newspaper has nothing to do with the estrangement between The Tory party and Murdoch’s News International Group.

The sight of the 80 year old Murdoch being grilled in front of a Commons committee was unedifying for some and sweet revenge for others. The much vaunted Parliamentary security couldn’t even manage to give the Octogenarian the kind of protection any witness was entitled to expect, and it was his wife who jumped to his aid when a missile hurled at the media boss turned out to be a bag of flour. It could have been far worse.

Much mirth was made of the News International claim that phone hacking at the now defunct News of the World was the work of one rogue reporter who was acting alone and without encouragement or permission from his bosses. As News International’s case unravelled in front of their eyes lessons were their to be learned.

David Cameron and his advisers failed to take them on board. Or if they did note them they were far too arrogant to keep them at the forefront of their minds. David Cameron would not be the first Prime Minister to think his position unassailable. Tony Blair was not called “Teflon Tony,” for nothing

So when the hapless Tory party joint treasurer Peter Cruddas was caught, making extravagant claims to Sunday Times undercover reporters of how influence with David Cameron could be bought with the ease of a transaction in an Arab bazaar — as long as you had the odd £250,000 available — Cameron’s men acted with the same indecisiveness that was the hallmark of the News of the World all those years earlier.

Cruddas, like News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman was immediately thrown to the Wolves, and then the cover up began. The Treasurer, like Goodman, was acting alone, claimed No 10. No money changed hands, and no body in the hierarchy of the Tory party knew what Cruddas was up to. Though that must have come as a surprise to the now dumped treasurer. It was an almost identical defence to that originally put up by News International, and it failed. If you interchange the names Goodman and Cruddas there is not a scintilla of difference.

If Cameron expected some help and appreciation from the press, or at least the Tory side of it, he was to be a disappointed man. He might have temporarily brought low the Murdoch empire and thwarted their short term wish to own all of Sky TV but the opposition news paper dynasties have short memories when it comes to a choice of gratitude and a good story. Especially when they saw the judicial inquiry started by Cameron denigrating their names and reputations and threatening to dump their voluntary code of ethics for something more legal and binding.

Judicial inquires are often set up by Government’s to kick topics into the long grass. In this case it appears the inquiry after many weeks of sitting is seeing the wood from the trees, and the papers do not like it.

So instead of a thank you Mr Cameron for cutting Murdoch down to size the big guns of Fleet Street are taking aim at the jugular and Cameron is feeling the noose tighten around his neck. With no ex News International staff on the payroll to smooth the way, and an ever increasing band of disgruntled right wing MP’s behind him baying for blood, there is no one to take the pressure off him. Perhaps he should forget about inviting star struck businessmen around for dinner at £250,000 a head and inquire whether Mr Murdoch would like to come to tea. He could always, as he told the inquiry was his custom, slip in through the back door.

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Zap You Are DEAD!

With each passing day the allied administration of Afghanistan wobbles between tragic comedy and black farce. When not burning Korans or bombing wedding parties they are sneaking half mad soldiers, who have adopted personal campaigns to reduce the size of the population, out of the country.

For all the good they are doing they might as well offer tribal chiefs free egg and bacon breakfasts.

However despite the Obama /Cameron solidarity pact proclaiming to the world they will stick it out to the end, for those not in the know the end is not that far away. It’s in 2014, how I have longed to say the end is nigh. However no mention has been made about the pace of troop draw down. I think it’s a safe bet that as the clocks ticks around to welcome in the new year in 2014 there will be little left of the allied force. Not much more than a man and his dog.

What then will have changed in this new order of self Government for Afghanistan. What is to stop the lunatics  from once again taking over the asylum. Certainly there will be no grim and determined allied troops on the ground.

No after much soul-searching and not a little planning in the Pentagon I think that this truculent and backward place will be the first country to find itself enveloped in the new style of 21st century warfare. The Americans have for a long time been sending Drones over enemy lands.  First they replaced the Spy Planes which flew just this side of space . Then they replaced the  planes and tanks which fired the rockets and cannon.

The success of the Drone is now an established fact. Ask the people in the tribal lands of Pakistan who are subjected to these death flights on an almost daily basis. Eyes pinned to the skies enemies of America scurry about their business. They know that whether in the their homes or out in the open they are not safe from the menace from the skies.

The Yemen too has an increasing body count thanks to these computer controlled killers. It not only takes out the foot soldiers. After failing by traditional means to kill the first American born citizen to top its most wanted terrorist list the Americans finally blew Anwar al Awlaki  to bits  with a Drone. With him at the time was another American born terrorist Samir Khan who died alongside him. A little more than a week later a second Drone was sent in to polish off his 16-year-old Abdulraham ,also described by the authorities as a terrorist.

It was once said that an ability at darts or snooker was a sign of a misspent youth, until the public starting shelling out money to watch the stars of these games play. Now its the turn of the Geek. Every little boy who ever locked him self  in his bed room while zapping an ever more sophisticated enemy in ever more realistic games is now an ideal recruit for the Special Ops department of the CIA in Langley, Virginia. The most competent of them  have a future ahead sitting back in a comfy chair, coke in one hand mouse in the other, while a camera in the sky follows an unsuspecting victim in his vehicle along a dusty road some thousands of miles away.  Then when the Geek presses the button and screams “Zap you are dead,” it’s really true—the ultimate reality game with real good guys and bad guys and ultimately a real human quarry.

 

 

All Greek to Me

The orators of ancient Greece were judged on their ability to put forward both sides of an argument at the same time with equally dexterity and aplomb. Most of the leading politicians of the West seem to be going through the same acrobatic contortions without even realising it.

On one side we have Afghanistan a washed up pre modern expanse of land, you  can hardly call it a State, ruled by corrupt  feudal warlords constantly fighting each other and anyone else if the money is right. United Nations forces have been given the impossible task of drag the country kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

On the other side sits Iran. Very much a unified state, all be it by terror, with a leadership driven by a messianic vision.. Despite the religious rule this is a modern State possessing military hardware which is the fear and envy of its neighbours.
It would now appear, despite denials, Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons and as such threatening to turn the Dr Strangelove scenario from fiction to fact.

These are two intractable problems which on the surface would appear to require similar solutions. But wait a minute that’s not how Greek oratory works. Lets have a quick, and I mean quick refresher course, of why the West is in Afghanistan at all. Remember its now been more than a decade since Western troops under a United Nations umbrella invaded Afghanistan to route out Al Quada terrorists who planned and executed the Twin Towers bomb outrage. It killed more than 3000 people from all religions and none from all the world’s continents.. Just as important the troops went after those who gave the terrorists safe haven and training facilities, The Taliban. Deaths of Western soldiers over the past few years have become all but an every day occurrence which has almost ceased to shock the general public. Like rush hour trains never arriving on time or rain every day of your holiday.

The goal of decapitating Al Quada has long been achieved. Its leader Osama Bin Laden, and most of the founding hierarchy have been caught or killed.  The UN troops now face the Taliban, backed by sections of the Pakistani intelligence and military services, who continue to deny their involvement despite incontrovertible proof  to the contrary. The country seems firmly stuck in the seventh century, and has a Government, on whose behalf we are fighting that is both venal and corrupt. Its only saving grace is it is not the Taliban. It is really hard to choose the lesser of the two evils. But Greek Speak means we have chosen our side and here we stay until we go. A magic date has been set for 2014 when the politicians tell us the Taliban will be on its knees. But who is listening?

We seem to have moved from fighting terrorism to nation building.  If we stayed in Afghanistan for a thousand years I doubt it would turn out like Switzerland. If our fear is really of terrorism and we have genuine nightmares about the kind of people the Taliban might ask to share their country then there is an alternative solution.  It would not be the most difficult task to hermetically seal off it off from the outside world. Afghanistan is hardly an international hub, and we could use satellite technology, drones in the sky, and feet on the ground organising copious pay offs to protect the West from the worst they could throw at us. All this would be cheaper than the treasure of blood and human life being sacrificed now.

Now to Iran. This is a sophisticated country with an educated people. It has large towns a well developed hinterland and is rich in oil. The Mullahs undoubtedly have strong minority support but we must put the emphasis on the word minority. It is clear that most of the population are suffering under the yolk of the dictators and would like nothing better than to be part of the free world.

Non interference in the affairs of another State is one of the better rules of the United  Nations but there are exceptions to every rule.  The fact that the Iranian leadership appears ever closer to developing nuclear weapons seems in to have caused little real concern though much breast-beating in the capitals of the Western world. Sure there has been a lot of invective and bluster but its more akin to a parent telling off a naughty child who we believe in the end will grow up and see good sense.

Well this child shows few signs of growing up. In fact the more conciliatory and concerned Western Governments are to Iran the naughtier it becomes. We are again having talks about talks which in the end might lead to….talks. Will anything change though that’s the million dollar question.

I think I am beginning to understand the art of politics and diplomacy now. In the modern world what you do is wait for the enemy to turn their words in to deeds by igniting or being caught trying to blow you to Kingdom Come and then you act, as per Afghanistan.. Then once you have embarked on your mission by occupying the country and trying to reshape it in your own image you outstay your welcome until such time the local people turn against you and start killing your soldiers.

So here we are then .We stay in Afghanistan because it poses a threat to us and we stay out of Iran because it poses a threat to us. Oh how those ancient orators would have loved to have been around now.  As for myself, I am puzzled. Its all Greek to me.The orators of ancient Greece were judged on their ability to put forward both sides of an argument at the same time with equally dexterity and aplomb. Most of the leading politicians of the West seem to be going through the same acrobatic contortions without even realising it.

On one side we have Afghanistan a washed up pre modern expanse of land, you  can hardly call it a State, ruled by corrupt  feudal warlords constantly fighting each other and anyone else if the money is right. United Nations forces have been given the impossible task of drag the country kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

On the other side sits Iran. Very much a unified state, all be it by terror, with a leadership driven by a messianic vision.. Despite the religious rule this is a modern State possessing military hardware which is the fear and envy of its neighbours.
It would now appear, despite denials, Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons and as such threatening to turn the Dr Strangelove scenario from fiction to fact.

These are two intractable problems which on the surface would appear to require similar solutions. But wait a minute that’s not how Greek oratory works. Lets have a quick, and I mean quick refresher course, of why the West is in Afghanistan at all. Remember its now been more than a decade since Western troops under a United Nations umbrella invaded Afghanistan to route out Al Quada terrorists who planned and executed the Twin Towers bomb outrage. It killed more than 3000 people from all religions and none from all the world’s continents.. Just as important the troops went after those who gave the terrorists safe haven and training facilities, The Taliban. Deaths of Western soldiers over the past few years have become all but an every day occurrence which has almost ceased to shock the general public. Like rush hour trains never arriving on time or rain every day of your holiday.

The goal of decapitating Al Quada has long been achieved. Its leader Osama Bin Laden, and most of the founding hierarchy have been caught or killed.  The UN troops now face the Taliban, backed by sections of the Pakistani intelligence and military services, who continue to deny their involvement despite incontrovertible proof  to the contrary. The country seems firmly stuck in the seventh century, and has a Government, on whose behalf we are fighting that is both venal and corrupt. Its only saving grace is it is not the Taliban. It is really hard to choose the lesser of the two evils. But Greek Speak means we have chosen our side and here we stay until we go. A magic date has been set for 2014 when the politicians tell us the Taliban will be on its knees. But who is listening?

We seem to have moved from fighting terrorism to nation building.  If we stayed in Afghanistan for a thousand years I doubt it would turn out like Switzerland. If our fear is really of terrorism and we have genuine nightmares about the kind of people the Taliban might ask to share their country then there is an alternative solution.  It would not be the most difficult task to hermetically seal off it off from the outside world. Afghanistan is hardly an international hub, and we could use satellite technology, drones in the sky, and feet on the ground organising copious pay offs to protect the West from the worst they could throw at us. All this would be cheaper than the treasure of blood and human life being sacrificed now.

Now to Iran. This is a sophisticated country with an educated people. It has large towns a well developed hinterland and is rich in oil. The Mullahs undoubtedly have strong minority support but we must put the emphasis on the word minority. It is clear that most of the population are suffering under the yolk of the dictators and would like nothing better than to be part of the free world.

Non interference in the affairs of another State is one of the better rules of the United  Nations but there are exceptions to every rule.  The fact that the Iranian leadership appears ever closer to developing nuclear weapons seems in to have caused little real concern though much breast-beating in the capitals of the Western world. Sure there has been a lot of invective and bluster but its more akin to a parent telling off a naughty child who we believe in the end will grow up and see good sense.

Well this child shows few signs of growing up. In fact the more conciliatory and concerned Western Governments are to Iran the naughtier it becomes. We are again having talks about talks which in the end might lead to….talks. Will anything change though that’s the million dollar question.

I think I am beginning to understand the art of politics and diplomacy now. In the modern world what you do is wait for the enemy to turn their words in to deeds by igniting or being caught trying to blow you to Kingdom Come and then you act, as per Afghanistan.. Then once you have embarked on your mission by occupying the country and trying to reshape it in your own image you outstay your welcome until such time the local people turn against you and start killing your soldiers.

So here we are then .We stay in Afghanistan because it poses a threat to us and we stay out of Iran because it poses a threat to us. Oh how those ancient orators would have loved to have been around now.  As for myself, I am puzzled. Its all Greek to me.