Shave and a haircut
It was no less a visionary than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who allegedly said that an eye for an eye leaves the world blind. It is not certain when the Mahatma offered this rather sensible advice or in what context he intended it to be used but it is tempting to imagine that this call for sanity was made during the partition of India in 1947. If it was true then, then it is true now and was equally true in 1948 with the creation of the State of Israel.
The mindless horror once again unfolding in Gaza does not have its root cause in the end of the British mandate in Palestine or even in the British Balfour Declaration of 1917. Although those events have unquestionably contributed to the current madness, we need to consider a more ancient time when Jerusalem was the centre of a much smaller universe, London was a swamp and the followers of Abraham decided to go their separate ways. When Abraham laid the foundations for three of the great world religions; Christianity, Islam and Judaism, even his great wisdom could not have imagined that God`s vengeance would promote the schism and be delivered by suicide vest or laser guided from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. (more…)
Given the long history of British democracy, it is almost reassuring to know that politics in 1648 was just as sordid as politics in 2014.
At the end of the Second English Civil War, elements of the Long Parliament attempted to rehabilitate Charles I with the Treaty of Newport. The defeated and deposed king was at that point happy to sign anything that would save his skin. Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army had other ideas and Thomas Fairfax organised a military coup with the intention of dissolving parliament and banging up the king on charges of high treason. Realising that this was a bit over the top even for 1648, Fairfax decided instead to purge parliament of any dissenters leaving only a bunch of yes men. Colonel Thomas Pride was tasked with rounding up the trouble makers and, as a result, gave history “Pride`s Purge” and the first Rump Parliament. To this day, a rump parliament is defined as a bunch of shysters left over after an actual parliament has lost any legitimacy. Welcome to 1648. (more…)
It wasn`t exactly a JFK moment or an Elvis moment or even a John Lennon moment but the day after Bastille Day 2014 is now carved into memory.
Tuesday morning was always going to be “challenging” as a long scheduled three hour meeting starting at nine would require concentration and the certain need for some agile thinking if I had any hope of a successful outcome. It was the sort of meeting that requires you to switch off your phone. Emerging into the sunshine feeling quietly confident and more that a little smug, I resorted to a nearby hostelry to collect my thoughts over a pint of fine English ale. Finding a seat outside and sparking up a gasper, I switched the phone back on.
A stream of about a dozen text messages broke the peace and quiet of the beer garden. This was most unusual as text messages are rare and are normally confined to simple pleas from the homestead to “buy cat food” or an attempt at further extortion from the tax dodging bandits calling themselves my network provider. (more…)
Three of these people are innocent
The scandalous detention and outrageous conviction of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt is an affront not just to freedom of speech, but is also confirmation that corrupt governments will stop at nothing in attempting to control an independent media or, possibly, the other way round.
More enlightened democratic governments have been quick to whisper their disapproval at journalists being held in cages without any evidence of wrongdoing and have summoned Egyptian ambassadors for a telling off and a preview of the latest lethal weaponry available at a discount for a bulk order. The free press were equally quick to condemn the incarceration of the three Al Jazeera journalists on cooked up charges of “spreading untrue stories”. The BBC`s Director of News, James Harding, told the BBC that; (more…)
Diplomacy, according to Winston Churchill, is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions. Theodore Roosevelt was more pragmatic and suggested that “if you`ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”. Tony Blair, however, suggests that we should carry a great big stick and shout very, very loudly.
Former Prime Ministers usually do the decent thing by disappearing off into their dotage leaving memories of bygone days and are only occasionally wheeled out in public like some creepy uncle at a family funeral or wedding to make everybody else feel uncomfortable. Not so with former Prime Minister Tony Blair. (more…)