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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Iran

Now I don’t want to cause alarm, but there are certain aspects of the Iranian nuclear programme which really could bare closer inspection.

I suspect you are alarmed now, most likely you are thinking ‘oh god he’s going to talk about Iranian nuclear ambitions and I know slightly less than zilch on the subject.’ That’s ok, I know you have enough to do just keeping up with Big Brother, that’s exactly why I am going to talk about it. That, and it actually is important.

Ali Larijani is the man to watch, he is the right hand of Khamenei and he has been badgering Albion, Germany and France recently over our views on Iranian atomic development.

Specifically we (the UK, Germany and France, acting on behalf of the EU) have expressed concerns over plans to build one or more Westinghouse type breeders, and hexafluoride centrifuges to generate enriched uranium for ‘peaceful purposes’. Larijani insists that Iran has the right to do these things, and as far as right goes, he probably is. Our quibble is the eventual use to which enriched uranium might be put.

From an unbiased perspective one can see why Iran desires nuclear weapons. Believe me every time I watch the ten o’clock news I start desiring a bomb or two m’self, it is an unsafe world and deterrents are tempting, nay necessary.

Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad – Iranian president and world-beating scrabble score insists that the only goal is energy, but he would, and as I say, we can hardly blame Iran for wanting a nuclear deterrent. However, the operative word is ‘deterrent’.

Larijani has threatened to go over the EU’s head straight to the International Atomic Energy Association, but that ain’t going to happen because the US dominates the IAEA and there’s no way on god’s green that the States will let Iran have nukes (they no-longer arm their future enemies, lesson learned, eh brother Jonathan). Alternatively, Iran may enter negotiations with South Africa, but it is difficult to see why, when there is so little to gain, and so much to loose should they snub the EU.

Besides which Larijani actually used the phrase ‘Nuclear Apartheid’ in a speech and that’s not they way to win the South African’s friendship.

The earlier threatened economic sanctions seem unlikely at this stage of the game and it is difficult to discount the internet rumour to the effect that France and Germany (Albion too, if not our leaders) actually want Iran to have a deterrent with which to deter the big friendly dog across the pond.

You’ll call me a cynic, but such a policy would work, and better than ‘diplomacy’, no?

In any event, at least you know a little about Iran now, my work here is done…

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Leadership

Now I’ve not really talked about the Tory leadership contest on my own site before, but I’ve stuck my oar in when others have brought the subject up, today I thought it about time to rectify this. Not least because the alternative is complaining about the growing ease of obtaining a GCSE, you don’t want to read about that and I don’t want to write about it.

The new Leader, will be chosen in October, god willing, and even if you are not that interested in the contest, even if you are not a Tory at all (Those of you who are not, I congratulate you on being here, I know it can be difficult to read a blog written by a man who does not share one’s own ideology) you ought to learn a little. Y’see, the choosing next leader of the Conservatives is of critical importance to Albion, nay, to Europe and the world.

If the next Leader is a good man, a popular and wise statesman then people will vote for him. He will be elected, the Tories will have power, the EU will find opposition where now they find welcome, the state shall be just a little les of a nanny, and all will be right with the world. If the next Leader is a poor candidate, then Brown will be elected, the planets shall align and Satan will begin his thousand-year rule of the Earth.

Hyperbole aside, it seems obvious that Labour are the default victors of the next election, unless the Conservatives can furnish us a truly worthy candidate, hence, we must watch the contest carefully, since it is this very contest which shall ultimately decide our next Prime Minister.

Obviously, the name on everyone’s lips is David Davis, currently Shadow Home Secretary. That’s not snow on the roof, that’s cotton wool leaking from his head – in your Author’s opinion. Make no mistake, the man has ambition, and he’s a fine tactical sense, but he is not fit to govern. Not that I’d say it to his face you understand, If Davis hits a man, he don’t get back up again.

If not a Davis backer, most people will generally claim allegiance to Liam Fox, Shadow Foreign Secretary, your humble obedient among them. Our Doctor Fox has something the Tories have lacked since the good old days of the Iron Lady, charisma. It is a sad fact that elections are won by men (/women) not parties, and Fox is the man to do it. He might be a Scot, but he is a proper right-wing euroskeptic and not one to be bound by political correctness neither - you might remember many years ago there was a group of pop-tarts calling themselves the ‘Spice Girls’, or to use Fox’s nomenclature ‘three dogs and a blackbird’. Naturally this made a lot of people angry, but it made the silent majority laugh (quietly)

The third big hitter in the race is Sir Malcom Rifkind, Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary. He’s a good politician, but just a little wet for the leadership I deem. He’d probably do rather well as a chancellor though, just a hunch, you heard it here first.

Should Dr. Fox find himself the Leader this October, I can well envision him defeating Labour. He has shown a strong anti-Europe streak which will keep people from wasting their votes on UKIP (I’d vote for them if it were not a waste) Veritas and sundry other euroskeptic parties, and as a Scot he will appeal to the haggis fanciers who essentially decided the last election (nope, I haven’t forgiven yee yet jimmy). Shoulod Davis win, I fear we will be doomed to Prime Minister (President) Brown – and eventual membership of (occupation by) the United States of Europe.

This leadership competition really is that critical.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Witanagemot

I’ll let’ee in on a little something, come closer, that’s it.

I don’t normally bother with unsolicited email invitations. Well, neither do you, I can tell that just by your presence on the net. However, We all of us must make exceptions to certain of our policies from time to time. A gentleman calling himself ‘Toque’ emailed my during my recent hiatus, but naturally I was not able to read his message until today. It seems there is a new group recently incepted Glorying in the name of the Witanagemot.

If you are anything like the Alchemist you are probably thinking ‘wow, the forerunner of the Privy Council is reforming, only now they will all be wearing chef’s hats instead of mitres and helms’. Or something along those lines certainly. In fact Toque goes under the more explanatory name of ‘Little Man in a ~’ and this Witanagemot is not a group of busybodies who advice the monarch, but a group of busy bodies who bitch because our country enjoys not parity with our neighbouring countries. Count me in!

The objective of the Witanagemot is to highlight the deplorable state England finds herself in, which I know to be a matter as close to your heart as it is to mine.
You probably remember my complaining that England is the only nation in the EU without her own parliament (Alchemy Ante-Intermissio) for instance.

Incidentaly, if you are very like the Alchemist then something about the word ‘Witanagemot’ will have been bothering you since you began this post. I could not quite put my finger on it either, but it seemed wrong. As I so often am forced to do these days I turned to my trusty Dictionary of Old English and Anglo-Saxon – it is a regrettable, but I am afraid disuse dulls the old linguistic blade and one must turn to the books. Lo, we find that the original Old English would have us spell an advisor as ‘wita’, but the plural is ‘witena’, not ‘witana’. Alas, it seems that even our language suffers corruption just as England herself. It is to be hoped the new Witanagemot (for so we shall spell it) might help, in some small way to slow the decline of our land.

Those of you with a craving for more of the gemot will find the blogroll ensconced in one of the Alchemist usefull scrolling boxes in m’sidebar.

Those of you who'd like to see further scholarly discusion of Old English are like to be disapointed, the Alchemist knows a limmited-appeal topic when he sees one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Iraq II

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has said he is confident that the country's politicians will reach an agreement on a new constitution.

-BBC website

Yup, the Alchemist is confident too. Specifically I am confident every man jack of ‘em will agree it is worthless. You will recall my making one post intermissio reference to the Iraqi Constitution last month (Alchemy Passim). I predicted that the three main groups would all bitch about it and I have been proved right, haven’t I just?

The damned document hasn’t even been finalised and the Iraqi powers that be are already falling into the patterns of dispute which I assigned to them. Hell but I wish I could be wrong from time to time.

Humam Hammoudi, the johny in charge of drafting the constitution has said the three-day extension just granted will not be enough. If he gets his extra time, and let’s face it, there is not a real alternative, then the arguments will, I suppose, expand to fill the time allowed, this being the nature of politics, especially Arab politics. I said that a September referendum was unlikely, and it grows more unlikely still as the date approaches.

The Sunnis are digging their heels in because the constitution threatens their already precarious position in the incestuous and rickety oil-ministry. Since the allied Shi’ahs/Kurds outnumber the Sunnis the Constitution could be forced through against Sunni wishes, however if this were to occur one can envision the Sunnis picking up their ball and going home, which in political terms spells instability on an Arabic scale.

If’ee were to ask the Alchemist (why thank you) I’d have to side with the Sunnis. Not that I care for their precious oil, but simply because I cannot see a federal Iraq as a good thing. God knows there is enough potential violence in that land to be getting on with – the idea of splitting it into separate battlin’ cantons seems lunacy. A ready made civil war waiting to happen, and I’ll give you three guesses as to who will have to clear up that mess, but the second two don’t count.

Incidentaly although it will fall to us to sort out this putative civil war, it will be the Sunnis who come of worse. Y’see the Kurds want to keep their little patch of the country to the north, and the Shi’ahs want to set up their own canton in the south part of the country so the Sunnis will end up between them, and although the Kurds and Shi’ahs are friends now (sort of) there’s certainly no love lost and it hasn’t been so many years since they were shooting the hell out of each other now has it?

Naturally al-Jaafari is in favour of federalism since the only thing that appeals to a Shi’ah more than carving out their own patch of Iraq is getting one over on the godamn heretic Sunnis.

Back

I suppose'ee must have notriced the lack of updates in recent days (that is to say twenty days). For various and depressing reasons this has been unavoidable, but hopefully I'm back and firing on all cylinders now. My appologies for the interuption.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Grockle

Tourism is not something I give detailed thought to very often – compared to almost any other subject it is quite dull and that is usually enough to put me off thinking about it. Nevertheless if one discounts a few industrial outfits, principally BA Defence Systems, GKN Westland and Britten-Norman, the economy of my county is almost entirely dependant upon tourism, which is a thought that never fails to trouble me.

For those of you who missed those occasions I have talked about m’home, I live (for my sins) on the Garden Isle and therefore, I probably should think about tourism more often.
I bring this up because yesterday I took an amble along some cliffs near my home. I like to walk this rout at times, and it was a nice day. However, the first part of my rout follows the front for around a mile and I confess, I was stunned by the number of people on the beach.

It is incredible to reflect upon this. For at least a mile before me, and a similar distance behind the beach swarmed with people, all of whom seemed to be having the time of their lives, as though burning on a beach or freezing in the sea is a capital day out. The beach was so full there was only room for one giant knob traced in the sand, that’s how crowded it was.

Amazing, however what truly made me abandon my usual practise of not considering tourism was the number of foreign languages which one could hear, if one paid attention. Many people, and many sundry languages all along the front. Let us stop to consider this, unless a man actually comes from Norway then the beaches and the sea (or lakes if his nation is land-locked) of his homeland are sunnier, and warmer and have fewer knob-tracings, than those of Albion, yet her were men and women of a dozen or more nations, some of them most exotic and warm if you will forgive me for making a judgement based upon the colour of a person’s skin. I dread to think how far some of these people must have travelled just to sit upon a British beach whilst their infants paddled in cold water tainted by the traffic of the world’s busiest shipping rout.

But this is only part of the insights my little walk afforded me. Leaving the front I ascended the path to the cliff-tops. Here was a sight to warm the heart – a dozen large whit tents, a flag and a banner had been erected, declaring this to be the site of a Boy’s Brigade annual camp. I did not know there were still enough boys in the Boy’s Brigade to fill a camp site, but here there were many, playing cricket if you please, and a good day it was too.

Had the Alchemist not spend his childhood in Saudi Arabia he most certainly would have been a member of such an organization, (The Sea Scouts is the one I fancied, alas) but I had imagined no-one wanted to be a member of anything so naff when a child might spend his days mugging old ladies and kicking over ‘phone boxes.

But I digress, because I am supposed to be talking about tourism, and posing an important question – to whit: Why, if the beaches are so crowded, do so few people appreciate the five odd miles of unspoilt, majestically viewed and almost completely unused cliff-top path upon which I like to walk?

In between the scout camp and the pub at the headland I spotted exactly four people (and two dogs). This at the height of summer, on a glorious day walking an relatively un-taxing path with one of the more comely views this world has yet shown me.

This, as much as the crowd of all nations upon the beach baffles me.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Fahd

When the Alchemist were a lad he spent his time in Saudi Arabia, oh yes (not in Yorkshire, despite the first five words of the sentence). Therefore I’ve to say something about his ex majesty Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. It’s not that I will necessarily have any great insights into the man, but that there aren’t many of us who know a thing about him – so sit back while I educate you.

In fact he was not a very popular man, even though, in your authors opinion, he deserved to be.

It is an unfortunate fact of our world that a god deed is forgotten rather more swiftly than an ill one. A case in point, he had built, or donated to the building of dozens of mosques both in Saudi Arabia and around the world, from the perspective of the Muslim in the street a fine thing indeed, but when he hosted, and backed American forces during the first Gulf War he committed a sin not easily forgiven by his people or his co-religionists.

He also aided, started and or financed secular projects, a football tournament (named after himself), an airport (named after himself), a 25 mile bridge to Bahrain (named after himself) and at least one desalination plant (named after himslef0 which kept the Alchemist hydrated during his formative years. But these secular projects, the which might have helped his reputation with non-Muslims were overshadowed by his policy of religious government and law.

You begin to see what I mean when I say he was painted blacker than he was. Muslims disliked his foreign policy, and thought him too close to the west, non-Muslims disliked his domestic policy and thought him to Muslim.

‘This,’ you are no-doubt saying, ‘Is the price of leadership.’ Well, you are right to say that, and if you find it hard to feel sorry for a man richer than Riley then you are of a feeling with the Alchemist.

Certainly when the Alchemist read that one of his wives was divorcing him and demanding £X billion (sorry, I cannot remember, but it was double figures), my immediate thought was not ‘oh, poor fellow’. Actually, I thought it was funny as hell, but that’s just me.

In actual fact Fahd has not been a well man for many years. In reality he has not even been the ruler of his people, the Regent in all but name was Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, now King and head of the House of Saud.

King Abdullah, like his predecessor is a man of bifurcated interest. Also a philanthropist, he is most noted for funding institutes of learning, especially religious schools, but is also known to be less enamoured of the west than Fahd was, though wily enough to be politic when the situation demands.

Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud

1923 - 2005

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