Saturday, 29 September 2007

i think an apology is owed to Jonathan Steele, actually, certainly for the amount of occasionally nasty commentary his article on Kosovo/a provoked. (it's trying to be fairly cautious, i think, and not exactly doing a great many of the things some of its respondents appear to think.
maybe it's me.)

i was too harsh on the USA the other day, which has been trying to help in Burma more than most, in doses, through the last decade or so and more, and although i know i am only stating the obvious (or Myanma or Bama or whatever you want me to say), i felt like stating it.
and i think Tisdall, since an editor of his, or perhaps he himself, chose to drop in a discussion of the 'blame game' to his piece, and sort of flag that up, could have looked more at this, perhaps.
there's certainly some powerful opinions from various Indians there, about her neighbour.

i also think this short Rubin article, say, or this 2000 reminder from Zimbabwe seems fair when considering a lazy Guardian leader line about making it easier for despots to target their opponents because of American crimes and misdeeds and mistakes, a line of argument that, frankly, shouldn't have got past the person with a red marker.


anyway, who do i think i am with these preening little asides (Hirsi Ali, Buruma, Tisdall, Steele, various talking heads).

the commentary thought police?!
it's absurd.

Thursday, 27 September 2007


(i) contrary to an extraordinarily mean-spirited and really rather loutish aside in a provincial English newspaper recently, Kate Nash does do that Regina Spektor thing quite well, and seems to want to follow other ivorians, maybe, you know, and i saw her on the tv.
she was quite frou-frou, dressy, doing that song that you know, that relationship break-up one.

and she was wonderful.

(ii) this

"while the Trial Chamber's factual findings show that KLA soldiers systematically committed cruel treatment and torture in the camp, the Trial Chamber was not satisfied that these KLA soldiers were participants in a systemic joint criminal enterprise to commit these crimes"

Tim Judah come in please.

(iii) this

'Beinart's argument gives a pass to the tyrants in Tehran.'

though there is this
- "Certainly, the timing of the Hersh article could not have been worse.."


the below little bit contains some awful rubbish and parlour game trash from myself, but i'm not deleting it in an act of solipsistic accountability, to remind myself if i read it again of how one should refrain from discussing sick jokes and petty shite in the real world.
well that's what i think for the below anyway, let's let the journalists get on with it.
Buruma's pop psychology on Podhoretz's body image etc is a tad offensive.

(or just plain loopy.)

(iv) good that the Guardian leader rightly attacked

Britain's own investment relationship with Burma is far from clear. There was a revealing exchange between the Foreign Office and Burma Campaign UK on the junta's claim that the UK is its second largest investor. While the Foreign Office dismissed the figure as bogus, Burma Campaign UK said that Britain had allowed foreign companies to use subsidiaries in the dependent territories to invest in Burma. They are right to argue that David Miliband should now close this loophole.

they also had time for One of the consequences of the Bush era, in which regime change is an explicit aim of foreign policy, is that the US and Britain have become tainted messengers of democratic values. Efforts to undermine hostile regimes - either militarily or covertly through funding - can create real difficulties for opposition movements in those countries. It it is now all too easy for despots to brand their domestic opponents as foreign lackeys. It is an argument that echoes from Iran to Zimbabwe.

efforts can create real difficulties, true.


despots will tend to do that anyway.
they are despots anyway.
their domestic opponents are their domestic opponents anyway.

it's a little shame in a fairly focused editorial (on the same subject, the Guardian's London rivals the Telegraph and the Times had leaders of a slightly different stroke today, and preferable for that), discussing matters at hand, that if we are going to get into broad strokes about the US, it couldn't be acknowledged that that country has had a better record than most toward Burma in recent times, which - yes - is not saying much, you can argue. (given they, the Yanks, were trying to do things in a vacuum for much of the 1990s, without many other states assisting, they didn't get too far.)

Simon Tisdall - here - surprisingly mentions Burmese neighbours first off, in a piece about 'the blame game'. (i mean: where's Israel?)
fair cop at the end, too. 'war on terror'. etc. undermining the rule of law.

but you know what?
this from Geras, is shorter, and better.
(oh. but he doesn't mention the USA. neocon hubris.)

(v) five rushed, angry points.

(vi) rugby; i prefer Tests to one-dayers, i must say.
actually, i don't know.
i think i prefer watching them.

jove, this rugby world cup has been SOME fun.

(vii) two NYRB articles on trafficking and Buruma doesn't like Podhoretz (no link, but it was in the most recent-less-one issue). at all!
look at that cartoon.
you wouldn't mess with that guy!
the Irishman in 'Withnail & I'.

i liked "Dogmatism also leads to errors of judgment, for example when she recommends backing the Turkish military against the democratically elected Turkish government, just because it is led by an Islamic party".
i didn't know that about Hirsi Ali.

oh dear.

Buruma and TGA got in a spot of bother over Hirsi Ali and i can't remember what it was about exactly but - be fair to them - they were in the right*.


(viii) i've been seeing a shrink for about a year. (this ain't a joke; i mean, i'm being serious.)
it's good, i'm finally getting there, and getting well.
not that i know what i'm doing.
(save this navel-gazing need to spew pompous and careless opinions about as if to nail out who i am, where i stand.)

i am going to go a wandering soon.

let what i said above about Kate Nash stand.

that is there.

that stays.


* iirc

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


if i could just find a dateline Kigali, late May '94 post from Mr Steele, that started "The genocide, the major blight on the CDR record, is almost over."

[(awful) joke, sic, to make a 'point'.]

but, yunno?
brushed aside in a second, when he appropriately excoriates other situations that are the making of other countries and organisations and people, it's, well.
beats me.

economic fairness in Thailand as long as you're not a Laotian or Burmese national, or a drugs injector, or.. (the unique motor of democratic progress line is addressed to a strawman, no?)

i'm sorry. er, really. i thought of this pie-eyed need to rant this morning whilst listening to John Humphrys drone on, on Radio 4's Today programme.
much like Steele, Humphrys chats lazy, simplistic garbage about Afghanistan is too a venerable Brit journo.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

a deadly serious UK govt elision

what is, most likely, a lie, and a disgusting one at that, given the despicable topic of conversation- "The government says its position was backed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)."

what is, most likely, the truth- However the ICRC says this has never been discussed with them by Britain.

'Simon Conway, director of Landmine Action, says if this was a cluster bomb last November, then it still is.

Neither of the government's points are internationally accepted definitions that would exclude this rocket from a ban.'

elsewhere, Jonathan Steele has this piece in today's Guardian that i want to (very briefly) comment on.

i'm glad he got in

The "smash the bourgeoisie" ideology Putin grew up with was extreme, but today's political opposite, the picture of the middle class as unique motor of democratic progress, is equally simplistic.

he does continue

Take Chile, or more recently Venezuela and Thailand, as three cases of bourgeois backing for military coups against democracy and economic fairness.

i like that he likes Thaksin Shinawatra's laudable health-care provision (democracies are sometimes able to provide pretty decent health-care) and all that, but the likes of Shinawatra and Chavez have a few skeletons in the cupboard and it's a little troubling to say the least that Steele felt good enough about his thesis (one assumes.. ...ass out of you and me, and all that..) to drop these examples in, given that the skeletons in the cupboard should really be about enough to dissuade one from lauding these two men (whilst, naturally, condemning without condition the military coups against them, whether successfully attempted or not).

the short aside

The second Chechen war, the major blight on Putin's record, is almost over.

is a bit relaxed, innit?!

that wily Yeltsin.

the bottom line with Steele (noted here before, but clear-eyed reportage from Pristina is a reason to laud him, among other things) is that his analysis here is fairly detached and cool, perhaps a little more detached than the subject deserves.
but hey.

* what is bandwidth? it's something to do with your internets, eh. it's not a pr0no ref. i know that.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

They don't support Saddam. They don't support his foes. They have no policy to offer.

-Nick Cohen.

mummy what's a new statesman?