09 December, 2006


Dr. Harry Davidson is "co-chair of the Legislative Advisory Committee for the Association of Black Psychologists". He is also a conspiracy theorist of the highest order. He has written an article on Classical Conditioning and the War on Terror which in the Crumbling Spires Moron Index rates as Fisk++.

We have all been programmed by the Illuminati (which uses classical BF Skinner-type conditioning) into thinking America is the victim, when in fact it is the aggressor.

If you close your eyes, you will probably see visions of red and orange symbols that resonate in your head, increasing your fears and interfering with your ability to reason.
Either that, or you did not put enough water in it.

British army raid in Basra.

The British army has conducted a major operation in Basra, Iraq. Five terrorist leaders and a quantity of ammunition have been seized. The BBC has a film report of the operation. The Daily Telegraph also covers the story with a report, a film and a slide show.

The assault into the densely populated Al Harthah district was launched when an "armoured fist" of 28 Warrior armoured vehicles carrying nearly 300 troops of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment and 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks stormed across the Qamart Ali bridge.
Click here for a graphic of the assault. No British casualties have been reported. The MoD also carries a brief account of the raid.

Elsewhere in Iraq, US forces killed 20 al Qaeda terrorists in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad. An air strike was called in when coalition troops came under fire and the propaganda battle has begun over how many civilians were killed.

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Afghan-Pak problems.

The diplomatic spat between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been pursued at the United Nations. On Thursday Afghanistan's ambassador to the UN blamed Pakistan for Afghanistan's violence. Yesterday, Munir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the UN answered, at length. The Associated Press of Pakistan and the Daily Times both cover the story. In brief, Akram said, we are willing to help you, but do not blame us for your problems.

Pakistan Dawn, which I have found a fairly reliable guide to official Pakistani thinking, focuses on Akram's suggestions that the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan should be relocated to Afghanistan and that the deteriorating security problem in the south and south-east [Helmand and Kandahar] be addressed through a "Marshal Plan".

It is hard to interpret Akram's remarks, especially since we have no idea how much pressure is being applied on Pakistan behind the scenes, but it seems fairly safe to say that Pakistan almost certainly wants rid of its foreigners - the Taliban and allies - before they start becoming an internal problem. Dumping them on Afghanistan would, for Pakistan, be the optimum solution. If it was to happen, I suspect that NATO's ISAF would have severe problems finding sufficient reinforcements to cope with the inevitable deterioration in the security situation.

Afghan politics

In Afghanistan, as the Times has previously reported, warlords have been pressurising President Karzai to sack Mohammed Daud, the Governor of Helmand. Most of the British troops in Afghanistan are stationed in Helmand and, after British pressure, in January, Daud had been appointed to replace the former governor, Sher Mohammed Akhunzada, who is a drug running warlord.

Today's Times says, President Karzai has sacked Daud, leaving his deputy, Akhunzada's brother, temporarily left in charge. The Times quotes a diplomatic source:

“For the moment and before a new governor is named, the governor of Helmand is a drug-dealing warlord who was banned from the elections by the UN for keeping a militia and his connection to narcotics, and with whom the British have said they cannot work. Nice.”

08 December, 2006

Grand jirga negotiations.

As reported previously, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri has been in Kabul discussing the prospects for a cross-border Grand Jirga with his Afghan counterpart, Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, and with President Karzai. Little progress seems to have been made. According to the BBC the talks have ended with no date being set. After meeting with Kasuri, President Karzai said that,

... he was running out of patience with cross-border attacks. His office said in a statement: "The president emphasised that the Afghan people desired to have strong and friendly relations with Pakistan.
Dawn adds that Karzai warned that violence in Afghanistan was also damaging to Pakistan's interests. Gulf News gives Kasuri's response to that as,
"We feel hurt when accusations are levelled against the government of Pakistan if there are acts of terrorism in Afghanistan."
Now the politicians' public ritual of exchanging set positions and (encouragingly restrained) insults has taken place, perhaps their officials will get on with the detailed negotiations.

Tony Blair: "Our Nation's Future - multiculturalism and integration"

Tony Lair has been giving a speech on "Our Nation's Future - multiculturalism and integration". Click here for the full text. The BBC has a video of the speech. It is a long rambling affair, full of typicial Blairite meaningless generalities; but at the core of the speech is a set of six proposals (probably designed by a committee) intended to ensure an integrated society in the UK. Stripped of the verbiage, they reduce to:

  • conditions for grants to religious groups;
  • an end to forced marriages;
  • the supremacy of UK law over sharia law;
  • tighter control of visiting preachers;
  • integration to be built into the national curriculum;
  • English tests for immigrants.
I have no idea how many quangos or extra civil servants will be created to implement this vision, nor of how much those extra snouts in the taxpayers trough will cost. However, we can be sure that both figures will be substantial.

In the Daily Telegraph, Andrew Gimson nicely catches the vacuity of much of the speech.

Hopefully, Blair has hammered a few more nails into the coffin of multi-culturalism but I am not celebrating yet; left wing extremists are still a power in the Labour party. Once again, I note that those of us have been calling for such things for years are no longer extremist racists but mainstream Noo Labour. Very unsettling.

Melanie Phillips on the myths of Islamic terrorism in the UK.

In the Spectator, Melanie Phillips uses Dhiren Barot as a a case study to demolish some of the myths surrounding causes of Islamic terrorism in the UK: it is not Iraq, alienation, Bush or copycat disaffection. It is the nature of Islamic aggression. Even the Barot case, she concludes, is not enough to stir many people out of their complacency

There is still widespread denial of the threat facing Britain. Hard on the heels of the Barot case came the announcement by Dame Eliza [Manningham-Buller, head of MI5] of at least 200 terror networks, 1600 terrorist suspects and 30 top priority terrorist plots currently active in the UK, with the warning that future threats would involve chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear attacks.

Reaction to this was also muted, because of the climate of cynicism and puerile conspiracy theories which treats such warnings as an attempt by politically compromised officials to shore up ‘Blair’s lies’, or to get more funding for the security service, or to grab our liberties.

I doubt she will make much impression on "the climate of cynicism and puerile conspiracy theories" of the Barot Truthers but, for the rest of us, the article is timely reminder that the dangers are very real.

The article is also on Melanie Phillip's website.

ISG: Bush and Blair summit. (updated)

What is George Bush made of? Over the coming weeks we shall see. Those of us who have watched Bush closely since he was governor of Texas expect to find he is made of sterner stuff than his critics comprehend. Yesterday, he began the political fightback against the ISG appeasers. Although the ISG report is not in the shredder yet, there are encouraging signs that it is on its way to the waste bin.

Now that some of the dust has settled we can see that the Iraq Study Group's proposals are in line with the leaks, that the US should: establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq; launch a diplomatic initiative to persuade Iran and Syria to negotiate a solution to Iraq's problems; and, to encourage Iran and Syria to the negotiating table, tie those negotiations to a two state solution to Israel-Palestinian problem. Tony Blair is in Washington to discuss the ISG's recommendations with George Bush. In short, Blair is for the report, Bush against.

The Guardian emphasises that Bush has rejected involving Iran and Syria but Blair is enthusiatic about the idea, particularly the linkage with Palestine-Israel conflict. The Independent follows a similiar line.

The Times focuses on Blair's attempts to walk a tightrope between the President and the ISG and emphasises that Blair is going to the Palestinian Territories to talk about peace.

The Daily Telegraph's eccentric interpretation is that both Blair and Bush "refuse to move over Iraq". Bush is waiting for the results of Pentagon review and, in the meantime will study the ISG closely.

Update @ 10:27:

CSPAN has video of the Bush and Blair press conference.

Smoking guns and legal action.

The Cash for Honours saga continues to unfold, with tales of smoking guns and legal actions. Make of it what you will but I can see no smoke.

The Daily Telegraph reckons it might have found a smoking gun in the form of an email sent a fortnight before the general election by Matt Carter, then Labour's general secretary and Registered Treasurer. Aware that the media had got a story that the Conservative campaign was being financed by loans from wealthy supporters, Carter e-mailed a lot of senior Labour figures, warning them to leave the issue well alone because Labour was also using loans to finance its campaign. The DT draws the inference that senior Labour ministers and party officials, therefore, knew all about the loans, despite their subsequent denials. Maybe, maybe not.

In Guardian Comment, David Hencke reports some Labour constituencies are exploring legal options that could result in Blair and Levy being held personally responsible for any illegal loans.

07 December, 2006

Protecting British troops

Have you ever wondered how difficult it is to kill British servicemen in Iraq or Afghanistan? EU Referendum undertakes a detailed analysis of some related issues and has some alarming answers.

EU Referendum's piece is another entry in the indictment of government for its failure adequately to protect British troops in combat, a story which has been seeping out, steadily but relentlessly, since the summer.

However, when Tony Blair promises the army it will get all the equipment it needs, there is no need to worry about inadequate equipment or under-manning, is there?

ISG: The Arab reaction.

The not very surprising word on the Arab street is that the ISG report shows "Bush's failure". Arabs should "capture the moment as America now is in its weakest period." Yahoo News has recorded the cocks crowing.

Cap doffed to : lgf

General Mike Jackson: Dimbleby Lecture, 2006.

General Sir Mike Jackson, former Chief of the General Staff has delivered this year's Dimbleby Lecture, under the title of "The Defence of the Realm in the 21st Century" . Click here for the full text. General Jackson is perhaps most famous as the British soldier who refused to get into a shooting match with the Russians in Bosnia over an airfield, instead telling his superior, US General Wesley Clark, "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you,"

In the Dimbleby Lecture, General Jackson has some unkind words about the treatment of soldiers by the government, particularly the Ministry of Defence , which have captured the headlines. However, he also delineated the threat posed to the west by Islam, echoing the views of his successor as CGS, Sir Richard Dannat: that we are engaged in a war with Islamic extremism, in which military action abroad is only one front; there is also a domestic front on which an ideological battle must be fought.

Genereal Jackson said that, "on 9/11 Al Qaeda issued a challenge to the West."; it is not a war over territory, rather

...9/11 - and, indeed Madrid and 7/7 in this country - represent a very different sort of struggle where the battleground is people's attitudes, allegiances, values - their very identities. It seems to me that Clausewitz's famous dictum that 'war is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means' holds good even in these different circumstances. This struggle is emphatically not one which can be solved by military means alone - far from it. So what threats do I see ahead?

Today's threat is more insidious, is it not, this battle of ideas? We are again confronted with terrorism on mainland Great Britain. We must not underestimate the fundamental nature of the ideology behind this terrorism; whilst the largely secular West has difficulty in comprehending enmity expressed in apparently religious terms, it is clear that that enmity has sworn to destroy us and our values. At home, the Security Service and the Police quite properly have the onerous responsibility of taking the lead in the counter-terrorist role - and it would be difficult to over-estimate the challenge this presents; the Armed Forces act in their support .

Overseas, there is the parallel threat of terrorist attack on British interests and personnel, and again this requires us in support. Next, there can be rogue states which may be inclined to military adventurism in breach of international law, and we have seen examples of that in the recent past. Such adventurism, by definition, is likely to be gravely destabilising. And instability, whether caused by ethnic conflict, or by failed or failing states, may well require the Armed Forces to respond.
On Iraq, Sir Mike thought the coalition should stay to see the job through, so long as it was wanted by the Iraqi government. Turning to Afghanistan, he said,
In Afghanistan I see a long haul yet - and not only a military, but also a civilian, long haul. We must help Afghanistan to progress, we must prevent the Taliban once more taking control by force from, again, the sovereign and popularly elected government, and providing Al-Quaeda with a safe haven. It would indeed be back to Square One. I was disappointed that some commentators took the immediate view, after the first British casualties were taken in Afghanistan earlier this year, that somehow that showed the campaign was flawed. The proposition of a casualty-free military campaign is a contradiction in terms.

NATO is now very much the driving force in Afghanistan and I would wish all contributing Nations, NATO or otherwise, to pursue the common strategic goal - essential to us all, and particularly to Afghanistan itself - with a common vigour, accepting if need be the price to be paid. Faint-heartedness is not conducive to campaign success. What we cannot do is cut and run on these strategic campaigns before it is right to do so. And that 'it is right to do so' means careful and calculated strategic judgement - a judgement which, I repeat, should not be seen through the prism of political popularity, or otherwise. I emphasise again that the Defence of this Realm in C21 cannot be confined to our shores alone.
Here, I have had space only to highlight some matters of direct special interest to this blog. The wide-ranging speech covers also the UK's relationships with the US and Europe,nuclear re-armament, the defence budget and the headline grabbing remarks on soldiers pay and conditions.

Appeasement in Washington

Now it it is official. The axis of weasel between Yesterday's Men and Congress has successfully engineered an American defeat in the War on Terror. The Iraq Study Group has called for a return to old ways of appeasement. There will be great celebrations in the Democratic Party, Damascus and Tehran.

The Iraq Study Group Report can be downloaded here, in pdf format, along with various background material. Update @17:12: Truth Laid Bear has a linkable html version of the ISG report.

The Daily Telegraph says that the ISG Report has left the President on the ropes.

The Times highlights divisions over the report within the US administration, with the State Department being more enthusiastic appeasers than most.

The Guardian has a relatively straightforward news report and saves the anti-Bush gloating for the comment section.

The Independent is so ecstatic it has an apocalyptic orgasm.

As an antidote to the depressing news, here is Mark Steyn in top form in last Sunday's Chicago Sun Times.

06 December, 2006

Marine Jonathan Wigley.

The Royal Marine killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday has been named as Jonathan Wigley, of 45 Commando, Royal Marines. From the MoD:

Jonathan Wigley was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on 5 July 1985, and joined the Royal Marines in 2002, aged 17. After passing out of training in early 2004, he went direct to 45 Commando Royal Marines.

Before deploying to Afghanistan, Marine Wigley had served in Northern Ireland and with the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines before attempting selection for 45 Commando’s Reconnaissance Troop. He excelled in this, showing immense determination and tenacity to pass the course despite sustaining a broken foot during the selection process. Throughout his service, Marine Wigley’s soldiering skills were of the highest standard.

A keen outdoor enthusiast, Marine Wigley particularly enjoyed hill walking and climbing. Prior to joining the Royal Marines he had been a competitive gymnast, already well-used to the frequent and hard training that he so evidently enjoyed in the Royal Marines. He approached everything he did with impressive dedication, not least his motorcycle test earlier this year. His bike was his pride and joy as he commuted to and from Arbroath with his friends.

He was a fantastic character to be around and extremely popular among those with whom he served. Above all, Marine Wigley was full of life and a friend to all of the many members of 45 Commando who knew him well. He will be sorely missed by all those who were privileged to serve alongside him.
The BBC also has an obituary.

Uupdated obituaries, 7.12.06

The Courier.

Melton Today

Global terrorism: the Pakistani problem.

Two recent articles on Afghanistan, which reach similar conclusions: that they key to the security situation in Afghanistan is Pakistan's support or toleration of the Taliban's safe havens within its borders.

Writing in the Baltimore Sun, Dennis Kux, a former US diplomat, and Karl Inderfurth, an American academic, argue that, despite its military superiority, NATO will be unable to defeat the Taliban because,

As long as the Taliban have a haven in Pakistan, they can continue their insurgency indefinitely, making it virtually impossible for Afghanistan to become a country at peace with itself and its neighbors.
The authors see the key to Taliban problem as improving relations between Kabul and Islamabad and offer a series of possible measure to this effect.

Dawn highlights a suggestion by Kux and Inderfurth that Afhganistan should be urged to officially recognise the Durand Line.

In a paper in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2007, Barnet R. Rubin sees the presence of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan as the crux of the Afghanistan problem.
Contrary to the claims of the Bush administration, whose attention after the September 11 attacks quickly wandered off to Iraq and grand visions of transforming the Middle East, the main center of terrorism "of global reach" is in Pakistan. Al Qaeda has succeeded in reestablishing its base by skillfully exploiting the weakness of the state in the Pashtun tribal belt, along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier. In the words of one Western military commander in Afghanistan, "Until we transform the tribal belt, the U.S. is at risk."
Barnett argues the US and NATO need to adopt a dual approach. One the one hand, they need to address endemic corruption in the Afghan political, judicial and police systems; on the other, they need to pressurise Pakistan to start disrupting the Taliban's command and control system

Litvinenko: Uncooperative Russians

The team of 9 Scotland Yard detectives, with support staff, currently in Moscow in pursuit of the killers of Alexander Litvinenko, has plenty of opportunities for sightseeing.

According to the Times, Russia is demanding the return of some of Putin's exiled enemies in the UK, as the price of cooperation in the Yard's inquiry.

The Daily Telegraph reports the imposition of two conditions on the British police inquiry: only Russian prosecutors will question suspects, the Yard team will only be allowed to watch and listen; and there will be no extradition from Russia to the UK.

The Independent, notes that British authorities have repeatedly refused to extradite wanted Russians and, "It seems Moscow is in no mood to help now the boot is on the other foot."

There we have it. PC Plod blundering around outside his jurisdiction, being told by the legal authorities to mind his own business. An entirely predictable farce which should surprise nobody with even a superficial knowledge of the murky world of Russian politics. The intriguing questions are: did the Foreign Office advise Scotland Yard against the trip; and did senior officers at Scotland Yard bother to find out what sort of response they were likely to get in Russia?

05 December, 2006

Royal Marine fatality in Afghanistan

The Ministry of Defence has announced the death of a Royal Marine in combat with Taliban forces at Garmser, Helmand, southern Afghanistan. The Royal Marine, was the 42nd British fatality of the campaign. According to the MoD,

Afghan and UK Task Force forces launched an operation on the outskirts of the village of Garmsir to dislodge Taliban forces who had been responsible for attacks on the town in recent days.

During the operation two Royal Marines were injured, one of whom sadly later died of his wounds. Both were airlifted to the UK hospital in Camp Bastion. The second Royal Marine has undergone surgery and is in a stable condition.
The Guardian has an early report. Reuters has a fuller account of the action.

Once again we can only say that he is at rest now and pray that his wounded colleague makes a full recovery.

Jirga news

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri will be visiting Afghanistan between 7th and 9th December preparing the ground for the forthcoming Afghan-Pak jirga. His opening line is that the Afghan government should be seeking to involve the Taliban in some sort of national coalition government. According to the Pak Tribune, Kasuri's ideas have not been well received by the Afghanistan parliament in Kabul, which has more or less told Kasuri his to mind his own business.

From India, ZeeNews reports that Kasuri will propose the Waziri accord as a template for Afghanistan. Tasnim Aslam, as spokeswoman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry told a press conference that,

The Foreign Minister was not going to Kabul to dispel any suspicions of Pakistan's backing for Taliban...

"He's not going there to dispel those suspicions," she said to a question whether Kasuri during his visit would dispel the impression that joint Jirgas were aimed at legitimising Taliban.

Besides discussing steps to bring peace in bordering areas between of the two countries, where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants operated, Kasuri will "discuss Pakistan's strategy we are following in the tribal areas," she said.

"Something on similar lines can be developed in Afghanistan and implemented that will not only have political dimension and national reconciliation but also economic component for reconstruction," she said.

Pakistan pulled out its troops from various areas in Waziristan tribal belt a few months ago after reaching a controversial "peace deal" under which tribal elders gave verbal assurances to prevent infiltration of Taliban into Afghanistan.
Actually, it might be more accurate that say that the withdrawal from the tribal areas was a combination of the influence of a significant pro-Taliban element in the Pakistani military and the army's heavy casualties. The verbal assurances seem to have had, at best, only a limited effect. In an earlier post this week, I reported that incorporation of the Taliban into government was problematical for many tribal elders, who are an important locus of authority in Afghanistan society.

In a more positive, though perhaps unrealistic, vein, Dawn outlines some of Kasuri's suggestions for ensuring the integrity of Afghanistan's borders.
These include fencing of the international borders between the two countries; selectively mining and fencing the borders; introducing restrictions and checks on movement such as requirement of documentation on the points where the movement is allowed and real-time intelligence-sharing for which mechanisms like the tripartite commission are in place.
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Saudi annoyance

The Saudi Royal family is not best pleased about the al Yamamah revelations of slush funds, reports the Times, and the UK is starting to pay the price.

A Whitehall source confirmed that the row over the SFO investigation was begining to sour broader diplomatic and commercial ties: “Saudi patience has entirely run out. This SFO investigation has been going on for years. The Saudis feel, rightly in my opinion, badly let down that Britain has not respected their confidentiality,” a Whitehall source said. “The contract is on the line, our relations with the Saudis generally are hitting the rocks. Everything is in jeopardy, including our anti-terrorism co-operation.”
According to the Guardian, the Saudis do not entirely trust the French and US defence firms are pitching for the contract.

Still no sign of the Attorney General.

The Yard in Moscow

Scotland Yard detectives have arrived in Moscow to investigate the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB man killed for criticising the Russian authorities. According to the Guardian, the detectives want,

to interview around five potential witnesses: three Russian businessmen who were among the last to see Mr Litvinenko before he was taken ill - and who have repeatedly protested their innocence - and two others not publicly been identified.
They have begun, the Times says, by asking to speak to Mikhail Trepashkin, another former spy, who had previously warned that Litvinenko's life was in danger from the FSB (the KGB, as was). Mr Trepashkin is currently a guest of the Russian government in a top security prison where he is serving four years for betraying state secrets.

Even if the Yard does get its man, there is little chance of him ever being extradited. Russia does not do extradition. The Guardian link, above, has a good, straightforward analysis of the political and legal complexities likely to be involved in any extradition request.

In the Independent Anna Penketh has been getting the Kremlin's view of the case from Putin's spokesman.

04 December, 2006

Bill Roggio in Iraq.

Bill Roggio is in Iraq, embedded with the US military. You can read his reports at The Fourth Rail

In the first report, what strikes me, and this will come as no surprise to readers of bandit.three.six, is that the soldiers on the ground do not share the doom and gloom of the main stream media.

In nearly every conversation, the soldiers, Marines and contractors expressed they were upset with the coverage of the war in Iraq in general, and the public perception of the daily situation on the ground. The felt the media was there to sensationalize the news, and several stated some reporters were only interested in “blood and guts.” They freely admitted the obstacles in front of them in Iraq. Most recognized that while we are winning the war on the battlefield, albeit with difficulties in some areas, we are losing the information war. They felt the media had abandoned them.
By the end of Roggio's trip, we will be better informed about what is actually happening in Iraq.


David Southall 9

The General Medical Council seems to have been inspired by Jarndyce and Jarndyce. From John Hemming's web log:

Unbelievably the GMC have deferred the hearing into Dr David Southall's activities until 5th November 2007.
Unbelievably indeed, but one thing I find very believable is that the GMC is no longer fit for purpose. I wonder if Donaldson will take a similar view.

Attack on Royal Marines in Kandahar. (updated)

Three Royal Marines have been injured in a Taliban suicide attack on a convoy in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. From the BBC,

The suicide bombers had attempted to ram the convoy of British vehicles, the MoD said.

Officials said the marines, who are all male, had received first aid at the scene before being evacuated by UK helicopter and are receiving medical treatment.

A statement said: "One is seriously ill, while the others are in a stable condition. Their next of kin have all been informed."
We can only pray they all make a full recovery.

This is the type of isolated attack that the army must be fearing between now and next spring: isolated incidents probably intended, in part, to keep the pressure on NATO, especially those member states which, Riga notwithstanding, refuse to allow their troops to be deployed in the south; and, in part also, a demonstration of Taliban capability aimed at the forthcoming jirgas.

Update: 4.11.06

It now seems clear that civilian cars were used in an attempt to follow up the attack by preventing evacuation of the wounded men. The Herald:
British forces opened fire as they were pursued by several civilian vehicles while they tried to get the wounded marines to safety. They were trying to reach a helicopter landing spot when one of the vehicles weaved in front of them trying to block the way. Flares and warning shots were fired, but some of the vehicles continued their chase.

An investigation is being carried out into claims that civilians were injured in the gunfire. One report said that five people were killed.
I think five people maybe got rather less than they deserved.

Trident replacement.

Tony Blair has told the House of Commons that the UK will retain its independent nuclear deterrent, by renewing the submarine-based Trident missile system (The Times).

The Guardian has the full text of Blair's speech in the Commons which is essentially an announcement of the policy in principle, prior to a detailed debate over the exact nature the deterrent will take. In tandem with the speech, the detailed policy options are published as a white paper, (downloadable here as pdf) The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent: Defence White Paper 2006 (Cm6994).

The Ministry of Defence also has various fact sheets relating to the policy.

So while the left squawk like hell, stamp their feet and generally carry on cranky, the grown-ups will read the fine detail of the white paper and see what the government is actually proposing and how it compares with the off the record briefings the Times has been receiving from ministers.

Kofi Ananas

Koif Annan, the UN secretary-general has given the BBC an interview to mark the end of his term of office at the end of this month. According to Annan, life was much better in Iraq under Saddam.

BBC: Was it [ the invasion of Iraq] a mistake? Some Iraqis say that life is worse than it was under a dictator.

Kofi Annan: I think they are right in the sense of the average Iraqi's life. If I were an average Iraqi obviously I would make the same comparison, that they had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, "Am I going to see my child again?" And the Iraqi government has not been able to bring the violence under control.
There you have, Saddam's death squads may have killed thousands but it was not so bad. Of course the fawning member of the BBC slutocracy conducting the interview did not ask Kofi Bananas if he preferred the old days because of the oil for food rake-offs his family were into.

The Old Bill in Russia.

No less than 9 Scotland Yard detectives are going to Russia to investigate the death of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Soviet spy said to have been murdered by agents of whatever OGPU is called these days. According to the Times,

The Russian foreign ministry confirmed today that visas had been issued to the investigators and the prosecutor-general's office also offered "to provide all necessary help to British colleagues within the framework of international agreements and the law of the Russian Federation".
Exactly what limits Russian law will place on the Old Bill's investigation remains to be seen, but quoted in the Daily Telegraph, the Russian Foreign Minister was less than positive:
It's unacceptable that a campaign should be whipped up with the participation of officials," he told reporters. "This is of course harming our relations."
Most of what I know about life in the former Soviet Union has been learned from White Sun of the Desert, an ex pat's enthralling account of, amongst other things, his dealings with Russians in positions of authority. From this I gather that the average Russian policeman is not going to be very receptive to a mini-bus load of British coppers blundering about the place.

Al-Yamamah pressure.

Pressure is beginning to mount on the government over the al-Yamamah scandal which is threatening to destroy British jobs and severely damage the UK defence industry.

The Scotsman reports that the UK's major defence firms are getting restless about the loss of billions of pounds' worth business and thousands of jobs.

According to Preston Today, the area's MPs, whose constituencies would be affected by job losses, are raising the issue with government.

And the Daily Telegraph reports that the French government is intensifying its efforts to win the contract if the Saudis withdraw from the UK deal.

President Chirac, who was photographed meeting Saudi officials in Paris last month, is thought to have brought forward a trip to Saudi Arabia to later this month, according to industry sources.

David Cameron's friend.

David Cameron had a secret friend but he is no longer a secret because some disgruntled senior members of the party have been telling the Daily Telegraph about him.

Steve Hilton is being paid a small fortune for advising Cameron on, er, something or other. Hilton was apparently the brains behind hug a hoodie and also had the bright idea of using a focus group to help decide Tory policy on the single most important defence issue facing the UK over the next decade: Trident replacement.

One senior Tory front-bencher said: "Steve Hilton has become the shadow leader of the Opposition. There is a new catchphrase on the front bench if we have an idea. We say: 'What will Steve think?' Another senior Tory said: "There is not a word that comes out of David Cameron's mouth that has not been scripted first by Steve Hilton. It's fine while we are seen to be ahead in the polls but I think the knives will come out if the polls go south.
I just hope they save at least one blade for Cameron.

03 December, 2006

Des Smith, Tony Blair - a right pair... (updated)

According to the Sunday Telegraph Tony Blair is not letting the police have e-mails they have requested in connection with the cash for honours inquiry.

...detectives have complained privately that they received a "very slim" file of material only to discover, through further investigation of their own, that there were hundreds more documents, mainly emails, which had not been handed over. It is believed police gained access remotely to a Government computer to gather some of the material.
Yates of the Yard is said to be less than happy.

Meanwhile, Des Smith, the headmaster whom we have to thank for the cash for honours show, has been talking exclusively to the Daily Mail. When Smith was questioned by police, he was arrested and thrown in a cell for eight hours. Now he wants Blair to be treated the same.
He says: 'If the police are determined to treat everyone equally and be even-handed, a cosy chat at Chequers with Tony Blair simply will not do. My experience was dehumanising and designed to reduce me to my bare essentials. The Prime Minister must be treated the same way.'

Meanwhile,Tony Blair is already planning his revenge on the Police. No surprise. That's what criminals do.