Friday, April 27, 2007

Media and US-EU relations, from a German perspective.

Der Spiegel has an interesting (if simplistic) take on the role of the media in propagating anti-americanism and anti-european sentiments on both sides of the Atlantic.

Baa baa, woof woof... the sheep as poodle scam...

About 2000 Japanese have been fooled into buying sheep instead of poodles. Talk about not knowing your fauna! Australia's Herald Sun has the story.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women": prostitution and Iran.

This is a perplexing thesis. Some excerpts:

Wars are won by destroying the enemy's will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women.

The French sold their women to the German occupiers in 1940, and the Germans and Japanese sold their women to the Americans after World War II. The women of the former Soviet Union are still selling themselves in huge numbers. Hundreds of thousands of female Ukrainian "tourists" entered Germany after the then-foreign minister Joschka Fischer loosened visa standards in 1999. That helps explain why Ukraine has the world's fastest rate of population decline. On a smaller scale, trafficking in Iranian women explains Iran's predicament.

...The Jews have lived long enough to be defeated more often than any other people. After Spain expelled them in 1492, the Jews sold their women so widely that the character of the Jewish prostitute figured prominently in 16th-century literature, notably in one of the earliest novels, La Lozana Andaluza (1528), a story of refugee Spanish-Jewish whores in Rome. After Russian pogroms drove Jews out of the Pale of Settlement in the late 19th century, Jewish women became the raw material of the white-slave traffic, supplying Argentina as well as Western Europe. Jewish prostitutes are almost unknown today, a measure of the revival of the Jewish nation.


Nothing is more threadbare than the claim of Islamists to defend Muslim womanhood. Islamist radicals (like the penny-a-marriage mullahs of Iran) are the world's most prolific pimps. ... The Persian prostitute is the camp follower of the jihadi, joined to him in a pact of national suicide.

Read the whole thing here.

To jihad or not.

Victor Davis Hanson and the dangers of being in denial:

This is a strange war. Our successes in avoiding attack convince some that the real danger has passed. And when we kill jihadists abroad, we are told it is peripheral to the war or only incites more terrorism.

But despite the current efforts at denial, the war against Islamic terrorism remains real and deadly. We can't wish it away until Middle Eastern dictatorships reform - or we end their oil stranglehold over the world economy.

Read his entire article here.

Some very good advice.

Senator Joseph Lieberman gets it:

Certainly al-Qaeda can be weakened by isolating it politically. But even after the overwhelming majority of Iraqis agree on a shared political vision, there will remain a hardened core of extremists who are dedicated to destroying that vision through horrific violence. These forces cannot be negotiated or reasoned out of existence. They must be defeated.

The challenge before us, then, is whether we respond to al-Qaeda's barbarism by running away, as it hopes we do -- abandoning the future of Iraq, the Middle East and ultimately our own security to the very people responsible for last week's atrocities -- or whether we stand and fight.

To me, there is only one choice that protects America's security -- and that is to stand, and fight, and win.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Will there always be an England?

I read Mr. McKinstry's St. George's Day mournful lament of an era and grand country that are disappearing before his eyes. Here are some sad excerpts:

The England that we cherished has disappeared. We can only raise our glasses to the memory of a once great country whose spirit has been broken by her own rulers, its fabric torn apart by social revolution.

The words of that stirring wartime song There’ll Always Be An England have acquired a tragic poignancy. For there is no longer a real England – not the England that was once renowned for its gentleness and humour, its decency and sense of history, its rich language and inspiring landscape.

The relics of our past are still around us – such as the mon­archy or the village green –‑but they have been robbed of all meaning and vitality, becoming little more than heritage landmarks in a place without a soul.

We are becoming a mass of conflicting minorities.

The country of Shakespeare echoes to the babble of a thousand foreign tongues. The land of Elgar is held hostage by the thud of the rapper’s boom-box. The stiff upper lip has been replaced by the wail of victimhood. A land that used to be known for its lack of crime is now scourged by gang violence, shootings and stabbings.

The English traits of modesty and moderation have been lost to a tidal wave of extremism, terrorism, obscenity and cruelty. Our political system, once the least corrupt in the world, is riddled with ballot-box fraud. A national sense of belonging has given way to mutual distrust.
When I go to parts of London, Manchester or Birmngham I am struck by a sense of being in the Third World, with all its attendant chaos and tension. This is not the England that I once loved.

Yet I am told by Government and civic institutions that I am not allowed to harbour such dangerous sentiments. Instead, I should be overjoyed at the changing face of our
country. In the twisted logic of the modern British state, my devotion to England – the reason I settled here – is a cause for suspicion. I should be embracing cultural diversity, not clinging to an England that is being systematically demolished.

To me this is a morally reprehensible argument. If you genuinely love something then it is grotesque to be asked to celebrate its demise. Furthermore, the demand for change only ever works one way. The indigenous population is constantly urged to adapt to the ways of migrants, who seem allowed to import their lifestyles, customs and languages wholesale into Britain without any official challenge or disapproval. 

Thanks to the twin malign forces of mass immigration and multi-culturalism, the scale of England’s transformation is alarming. Though the collapse of our borders has made records unreliable, it is probable that more than 700,000 immigrants are arriving here every year.

Before the end of this decade the majority of London’s residents will be from non-white ethnic groups. Other cities will soon follow. On even a conservative estimate, the indigenous population of England will be in a minority before the end of this century. And the pace of change is being accelerated by the ruthlessly enforced official ideology of cultural diversity, which holds that any manifestation of traditional patriotism is akin to racism.

Read the whole thing here.

Part II of Jihad in Pakistan, from the BBC's Channel 4's Dispatches.

Part I of Jihad in Pakistan, produced by the BBC's Channel 4’s Dispatches.

Friday, April 20, 2007

According to South African editorial, South Africa is a front in the US-led war on terror.

Ever hear of Pagad and its vigilantism in South Africa?

There is an interesting editorial in South Africa's Mail & Guardian about cooperation between US, South Africa and British intelligence in their quest to nab dangerous actors in the terrorism stage. There are some swipes at the US and its tactics of "rendition", but it's fascinating to read about the extent of the terrorist penetration in this beautiful country:

No one should be surprised any longer to learn that South Africa is a front in the United States-led war on terror.

The revelation that Khalid Rashid has been detained in Pakistan for alleged links to the London Underground bombings of July 7 2005 is only the most recent indication of the quiet battle going on in this country.

It began before 9/11, when local authorities were still jittery about the vigilante group Pagad and its Islamist links. KK Mohammed was arrested in Cape Town in 1999 in a joint operation of the South African Police Service and the FBI. He was deported to the US where he was convicted of involvement in the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and is serving a life term in a Colorado prison.

The AQ Khan network of nuclear technology smugglers...was also cracked with local help. Some of its alleged members operated an engineering facility in Gauteng... Daniel Geiges and Gerhard Wisser are to stand trial on charges of violating the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act and the Nuclear Energy Act. Their arrest, too, was a product of close collaboration between the CIA, British intelligence and the South African authorities. Less dramatically, there is a persistent focus by the National Intelligence Agency and other spooks on suspected local nodes in al-Qaeda’s global network.

Whatever we feel about the Bush administration and its war on terror, this is perfectly defensible. ... But cooperating with Western intelligence agencies must not extend to adopting their illegal tactics.

Read it all here.

World Bank obtrectation.

For a laundry list of what may be behind the Wolfowitz-Riza World Bank caper, read The Real World Bank Scandal by a former US representative to the Bank's Executive Board

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Anti-Americanism and the BBC.

World, let us grieve without having to listen to your "I told you so's".

The commentaries of the world press damned us with faint expressions of regret. Among the words expressing shock, horror, and solidarity, there were words of censure, because we are either a "violent" society or a gun-loving society that is reaping its bitter rewards because of our sins.

It reminds me of a time when I was told by many a foreigner that my society was evil, because we discriminated against blacks and others who were different than the rest of the Americans (they never could identify who "the rest of the Americans" were!).

Well, in this Schadenfreude moment that the world seems to be experiencing, let me reiterate what I've been saying for the last 30+ years: if you have never had large influxes of foreigners in your country, don't pontificate. Melting into the pot is not an easy thing to accomplish. Homogeneity is easier to handle, from a government's perspective.

To those in South Korea who write about fearing a backlash, let me assure you that, for the most part, we in the US do not judge an entire group for the bad actions of one rotten-to-the-core sick individual.

Also, disarmed societies are rendered helpless when the aggressor is wielding a weapon. Thousands of victims went to their deaths around Europe and the rest of the world because they lacked the means to protect themselves from the thugs that imposed their psychophantic ways on the "civilized" groups.

So, from my humble perspective, let me emphatically say: " World, let us grieve without having to listen to your "I told you so's"." I'll come back to you at a better time.

Legal intimidation tactics.

Thanks to LittleGreenFootballs, read Annie Jacobsen's scary account of what's behind the attempt silencing of citizens so they cannot report suspicious behavior via legal intimidation.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Muslim bloggers and journalists making a difference.

There are few Muslim bloggers and journalists who are trying to make a difference by improving civil society and promoting women's rights.

Spiegel Online tells the story of 3 such individuals. One woman returned to Jordan after studying in the US to find out that back home a woman's life was not worth very much, especially in relation to sex crimes. She has been writing about honor killings for more than a decade.

A blogger in Bahrain has faced fines for criticizing government officials. He also solved the riddle as to why 50% of Bahrain is off-limits to its inhabitants and shared the information with his readers:

"The government had declared the southern part a restricted military zone," he says. Using Google Earth, he discovered that the supposed military facilities that the government doesn't want Bahrainis to see are, in fact, palaces owned by the royal family, which wants to pursue its hobbies in peace.
The article is sobering and one can't fail to be inspired by those few who are trying to break the mold.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

And guests of our closest neighbors...

I wonder how much attention we are actually paying to what's going on in South America...

Some of us are just now hearing about the Wayuu Guajira Indians, the largest indigenous group in Venezuela and Colombia. The Center for Security Policy reports that last October,

the police in Caracas found two explosive devices near the American Embassy. One of the bombs was in a box which also contained propaganda brochures for the Iran-backed organization, Hezbollah. One young man, a student at the Bolivarian University founded by Hugo Chavez, was arrested.

An organization called Hezbollah Latin America claimed responsibility for the attack. Hezbollah Latin America is an organization based in the Wayuu Indian population and also calls itself Autonomia Islamica Wayuu (Wayuu Islamic Autonomy). Its website is written in Spanish and Chapateka (a combination of the Wayuu language and Spanish) and claims activity in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador and Mexico. But the backbone of the organization is Venezuela. Their website states: "The brief enjoyment of life on earth is selfish. The other life is better for those who follow Allah." The members of this group are locals and not Muslim in origin and claim to be Shiites, supporters of Hezbollah and Iran.

The Institute for Counter-Terrorism adds:

Latin America is searching for its own identity and the common people are clearly looking forward to a totally different spiritual change. Proof of this is that 20 to 30 years ago, Catholicism claimed almost 90% of the total population in Latin America, whereas today the numbers are merely between 55% and 65%. Latin America is a fertile area for Islamic dawah, and Islamic values are already present in Latin American culture.

"Dozens of ... mentally handicapped children are being used by insurgents to fight US and Iraqi forces."

Remember last March when there was a suicide attack on a market in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah neighbourhood, and it was reported that two children were in the car that detonated?

“They [the children] were put in the back of a car with another two adults in the front. The military let their car pass though the check point since it had children as passengers. When they reached the market, they [the adults] left the car with the children inside and detonated a bomb in the vehicle, killing the children and another five Iraqis,” Khalid Sami, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said.

“Those children were later identified to have had mental problems and for sure they didn’t know what they were doing there,” Sami added.

Officials at a local NGO, who refused to be named for security reasons, said they had received many reports that mentally handicapped children were being used in insurgent attacks, especially in cities such as Diyala, Ramadi and Fallujah.

“Some children were given by their families but many others were kidnapped by insurgents when they knew that those children had mental problems. Some of them were even taken from the doors of their houses or schools,” the NGO’s spokesperson said. “We have registered many cases of the disappearance of children with mental problems. According to information we got from Anbar province, those children are working with insurgents.”
Read the whole story here.

Defending against body odor.

It's always good to learn something new.

Apparently, body odor is caused by palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid. Youngsters up to age 30 do not secrete much of this. Unfortunately, once we go beyond 40 the amount we secrete rises and by the time we are in our 70s we release more than 10 times as much of this acid as people in their 40s.

Fortunately, there are beauty products available to take care of this specific "old people's" problem. Of course, since we lose some of our sense of smell as we get older, it is best to find out about these things sooner than later, so we can prepare for the inevitable, and avoid scaring our young relatives with that "old age" odor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Inebriated bats and hair of the dog.

Who would have thought that bats can get drunk imbibing alcoholic cocktails that are inside ripened fruit. The story is here.

Terrorism in Germany.

It seems Germany's anti-war stance with Iraq could not insulate the country from terrorism. Spiegel Online has the details. Excerpt:

Germany narrowly escaped what could have been its worst-ever terrorist attack last July when two bombs placed on trains failed to detonate. The case comes to trial in a Lebanese court this week with German police suspecting that the attack was an initiation test for potential al-Qaida recruits.

Food attack.

I haven't come across anyone discussing the implications of the pet food recall vis-a-vis identifying the weak link in food safety: that is, safeguarding the public from all sorts of attacks, including terrorism.

It may turn out that our dogs and cats were the canaries in the coal mine of an enormous system failure -- one that could have profound impacts on American food manufacturing and safety in the years to come.
Read the whole piece here and more here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"The assault on freedom in Britain in the name of social welfare is an illustration of something that the American founding fathers understood."

The incomparable Theodore Darlymple contemplates "freedom" and what's gone wrong in the UK:

- Reality shows: they transfix the audience because the are both "both terrible and fascinating, rather like a rattlesnake".

- Tony Blair: he is a "ferocious and inveterate ... enemy of freedom... Perhaps the most dangerous thing about him is that he doesn’t know it: he thinks of himself, on the contrary, as a guardian of freedom, perhaps the greatest such guardian in the world."

- Criminal offenses: In the last 10 years, the Blair government has created 3,000 new criminal offences (more than one per work day), by "administrative decree appropriate to a dictatorship".

- Juan Domingo Peron: "great political philosopher". Mr. Blair's Third Way, with its "distinctly fascistic overtones", reminds Mr. Darlymple of Peron...

- The importance of "virtue": ..."only a population that strives for virtue (with at least a degree of success) will be able to maintain its freedom. A nation whose individuals choose vice rather than virtue as the guiding principle of their lives will not long remain free, because it will need rescuing from the consequences of its own vices."

Read the whole thing at the New English Review.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"Mummy's War": Argentine vets - 25 years after the Falklands' War.

It's pretty sad to find out that:

  • a total of 450 Argentine Falklands veterans have commited suicide since the war -- more than died during the actual fighting;
  • the veterans received no pension until 1991 and many were forced to go begging (including for prostheses and wheelchairs);
  • according to the vets, their own officers were their greatest enemies;
  • the "Malvinas was a war without images".

Check the whole article at Spiegel Online International.

"Quite simply, there is now no NATO, no E.U., no U.N. that can or will do anything in anyone’s hour of need."

Sad state of affairs... Victor Davis Hanson brings some sobering thoughts to the table. Excerpts:

With the demise of fascism, Nazism, and Soviet Communism, and in the new luxury of peace, the West found itself a collective desire to save money that could be better spent on entitlements, to create some distance from the United States, and to enhance international talking clubs in which mellifluent Europeans might outpoint less sophisticated others. And so three post-Cold War myths arose justify these.

First, that the past carnage had been due to misunderstanding rather than the failure of military preparedness to deter evil.

Second, that the foundations of the new house of European straw would be “soft” power. Economic leverage and political hectoring would deter mixed-up or misunderstood nations or groups from using violence. Multilateral institutions — the World Court or the United Nations — might soon make aircraft carriers and tanks superfluous.

All this was predicated on dealing with logical nations ...

Third, that in the 21st century there would be no serious enemies on the world stage. Any violence that would break out would probably be due instead to either American or Israeli imperial, preemptive aggression — and both nations could be ostracized or humiliated by European shunning and moral censure. ...

But even the European Union could not quite change human nature, and thus could not outlaw the entirely human business of war.
“London,” of course, is a misnomer, since the Blair government is an accurate reflection of attitudes widely held in both Britain and Europe. These attitudes have already been voiced by the public: this is understandable payback for the arrest of Iranian agents inside Iraq; this is what happens when you ally with the United States; this is what happens when the United States ceases talking with Iran.

What does the future hold if Europe does not rearm and make it clear that attacks on Europeans and threats tothe current globalized order have repercussions?

If Europeans recoil from a few Taliban hoodlums or Iranian jihadists, new mega-powers like nuclear India and China will simply ignore European protestations as the ankle-biting of tired moralists. Indeed, they do so already.

Why put European ships or planes outside of European territorial waters when that will only guarantee a crisis in which Europeans are kidnapped and held as hostages or used as bargaining chips to force political concessions?

Europe is just one major terrorist operation away from a disgrace that will not merely discredit the EU, but will do so to such a degree as to endanger its citizenry and interests worldwide and their very safety at home. Islamists must assume that an attack on a European icon — Big Ben, the Vatican, or the Eiffel Tower — could be pulled off with relative impunity and ipso facto shatter European confidence and influence. Each day that the Iranians renege on their promises to release the hostages, and then proceed to parade their captives, earning another “unacceptable” from embarrassed British officials, a little bit more of the prestige of the United Kingdom is chipped away.

Propaganda: The lies behind the Katyn Massacre.

Yesterday, April 3, 2007, was the 67th Anniversary of the first transport of approximately 20,000 Poles who left a POW camp in Soviet Russia, bound for the Katyn Forest and other sites, to be summarily executed, without benefit of trial.

Stalin personally ordered the executions of Polish officers, policemen and other people belonging to the Polish elite, in a memorandum dated March 5, 1940, to Lavrenti Beria, the head of the NKVD (predecessor of the KGB). Per Stalin's instructions, the prisoners were to be shot. They were. In the back. After they had dug out their grave.

It was in 1943 that the Nazis discovered the mass grave in Katyn Forest, and disinterred more than 4,000 bodies. Though the Nazis told the story to the world, the world dismissed it as German propaganda. President Roosevelt thought so. Winston Churchill decided it was best not to speak about it.

While German propaganda failed, Soviet propaganda took over, so much so, that in 1956 the KGB recognized that international public opinion believed that the Germans were responsible for Katyn, and suggested all records on the incident be destroyed. They were not.

In 1990, the Soviet Union formally expressed ‘profound regret’ and admitted Soviet secret police responsibility for the murder of the Poles, although the numbers given were about "around 15,000", about 6,000 short of the real total.

There is still a bone of contention for the Poles: to this day, Russia refuses to acknowledge that the Katyn Massacre was an act of genocide, as defined by the UN Resolution of 1948.

The Hoover Institution received all the secret documents pertaining to this incident, and you can read more about it Brian Crozier's "Remembering Katyn" here. See also Polish Radio’s External Service.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Poland and Germany: historical confusion.

Recently, there was a 3-day meeting between historians and students from Poland and Germany under the auspices of the two countries' presidents on the painful topic of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

The average foreigner who visits Poland is woefully unaware of what the Warsaw Uprising really was. There are many reasons for this lack of knowledge. Distortions on history made by the communist propaganda after the end of the war is partly to blame. No book on the Warsaw Uprising was published in Germany before the 1960's.

And, according to Norman Davies, a pre-eminent authority on the subject, even by the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in 1994, no Polish historian had published a serious book about the subject.

Many people in Western Europe and the United States confuse the Warsaw Uprising with that in the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto of 1943. Even the German president, visiting Warsaw in 1994, made the blunder in public.

Both the events of 1943 and 1944 were horrifically evil and tragic events, that have been seared in the Polish consciousness. The rest of us ought never to forget.

Pope John Paul II - defender of the civilization of life.

Poland commemorated the second anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death.


What happens when people no longer pass on to the next generation the primordial need to defend ourselves in order to survive.

Read Diana West.

Whose fault is it?

Dr. Tawfik Hamid once subscribed to the Muslim fundamentalist philosophy, but he had a change of heart. He points out that there's a correlation between suicide bombings and sexual dynamics; he is exasperated with the West: "They're slaughtering you like sheep and you still look within. You criticize your history, your institutions, your churches. Why can't you realize that it has nothing to do with what you have done but with what they want."

Read an informative interview of him here.

So, let his name through Europe ring— A man of mean estate, Who died, as firm as Sparta’s king, Because his soul was great.

I doubt his name rings throughout Europe...

The man was a British soldier during the Second Opium War of the late 1850s, who was taken prisoner and clubbed to death and decapitated because he refused to kowtow to the Chinese. His name was Private John Moyse. His heroism was the source of a poem by Sir Francis Doyle.

John Derbyshire at the New English Review thinks that the British hostages should be "court-martialed for dereliction of duty when they get back to Blighty, with shooting definitely an option."

Our water supplies: are they safe?

Next time you shower and wash your hair or throw away old prescription pills, think about this:

Residues of birth control pills, antidepressants, painkillers, shampoos and a host of other compounds are finding their way into the nation’s waterways, and they have public health and environmental officials in a regulatory quandary.

On the one hand, there is no evidence the traces of the chemicals found so far are harmful to human beings. On the other hand, it would seem cavalier to ignore them.

The pharmaceutical and personal care products, or P.P.C.P.’s, are being flushed into the nation’s rivers from sewage treatment plants or leaching into groundwater from septic systems. According to the
Environmental Protection Agency, researchers have found these substances, called “emerging contaminants,” almost everywhere they have looked for them.

Read the article in the New York Times.

Monday, April 02, 2007

For when threatened with ,meutes, and your heart is in your boots, there is nothing brings it round like the trumpet's martial sound, Tarantara!

Reading the latest about the British hostage compromise (the UK will send a Royal Navy captain or commodore to promise that "the Royal Navy will never knowingly enter Iranian waters without permission") made me think that this is all starting to sound like something out of The Pirates of Penzance! Maybe a little more Tarantara can make these British ministers seeking a compromise grow some tough skin?

On the other hand, only 7% of Britons favor preparing for military action at this stage. Mark Steyn is right: "Countries that don’t mean it shouldn’t be in war zones. Only seven per cent of Britons mean it. Iran understands that."

When the foeman bares his steel,
Tarantara! tarantara!
We uncomfortable feel,
And we find the wisest thing,
Tarantara! tarantara!
Is to slap our chests and sing,
For when threatened with ‚meutes,
Tarantara! tarantara!
And your heart is in your boots,
There is nothing brings it round
Like the trumpet's martial sound,
Like the trumpet's martial sound
Tarantara! tarantara!

Petty cruelties and radical Islam.

I found this description of a dialog between Richard Miniter and a Turkish lady entrepreneur an eye-opener:

Turkey’s current AKP prime minister routes almost all of the government construction contracts to firms where he holds a financial stake. Typical developing world behavior, I think. Then comes the surprise. She says that if you look at all of the buildings built by the state since the AKP came to power, you will see it.

See what?

“There are no balconies,” she says.

Nearly every building built before the AKP boasts expansive balconies, which function as second living rooms for many Turkish families.

“Only windows. So the traditional women kept inside cannot be seen by the world.”

Or enjoy a moment in the sun, seven stories up.

It is by such petty cruelties that the face of radical Islam makes itself seen.

Read it all here.

Iranian hooliganism?

The AP reported that "about 200 angry Iranian youths chanting "Death to Britain" and "Death to America" threw rocks and firecrackers at the British Embassy and tried to rush the compound but were held back by police."

Interestingly, so far there are no reports of British or other European football fans threatening any Iranian Embassy in Europe.

Where is the Britannia that ruled the waves?

Gone with the wind -or with a whimper- it seems. Niall Ferguson's article is very depressing as he poignantly points out that Iran targeted the UK because it is the weakest link in the UN's Security Council... He concludes:

Nemo me impune lacessit was the ancient motto of the Scottish crown and remains the motto of the Scots Guards: "Wha daur meddle wi me?" in old Scots or, if you prefer modern English: "No one messes with me and gets away with it." In effect, that became the motto of the entire Victorian Empire.

I suppose a remnant of that spirit survived into the 1980s. There was certainly something distinctly Victorian about the Falklands expedition: the scale of the venture, the distance covered and the relatively small number of Britons to be rescued. Yet today, 25 years on, we live in a different world. We could not re-fight the Falklands War if Argentina invaded the islands tomorrow. Nor can we send a raiding party to punish the Iranian government today. If military action is going to be taken against Iran this year, it will not be initiated by Britain, but by the United States. And, to judge by Faye Turney's conspicuous absence from the front pages of the American papers, a British hostage crisis won't be the casus belli.

Which means that we fall back on the tried and tested options of the pre-Victorian Empire. Our captives can either be left to languish, or their freedom can be bought. But what might be the price of saving Seaman Turney? A free pass for the Iranian nuclear programme? Or maybe just an Iranian-controlled Basra?

As he approaches the 10th anniversary of becoming Prime Minister, Mr Blair consciously invites comparisons with Lady Thatcher, the only other premier since Lord Liverpool to endure for so long. Yet this new crisis of captivity, like Mr Blair's needless kow-towing over slavery, exposes the profound differences between him and her. When it comes to the crunch, Mr Blair's greatest defect is that he is, despite his undoubted transgressions, fundamentally a nice guy. Margaret Thatcher was neither. Nor, come to think of it, was Queen Victoria. Nor Britannia.

If only you could come back, you iron ladies. Even though you never said sorry - or precisely because you didn't - all would be forgiven.

European hostages taken by Iran, and its implications...

I guess it does not mean much to the European Union. After all, the British hostages are referred to by all as British, and not European. Mark Steyn brilliantly sums it up, and it's not uplifting:

The U.N. will do nothing for men seized on a U.N.-sanctioned mission. The European Union will do nothing for its "European citizens." But if liberal transnationalism is a post-modern joke, it's not the only school of transnationalism out there. Iran's Islamic Revolution has been explicitly extraterritorial since the beginning: It has created and funded murderous proxies in Hezbollah, Hamas and both Shia and Sunni factions of the Iraq "insurgency." It has spent a fortune in the stans of Central Asia radicalizing previously somnolent Muslim populations. When Ayatollah Khomeini announced the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, it was not Iranians but British, Indian, Turkish, European, Asian and American Muslims who called for his death, firebombed bookstores, shot his publisher, fatally stabbed his translator and murdered anybody who got in their way.

So we live today in a world of one-way sovereignty: American, British and Iraqi forces in Iraq respect the Syrian and Iranian borders; the Syrians and Iranians do not respect the Iraqi border. Patrolling the Shatt al-Arab at a time of war, the Royal Navy operates under rules of engagement designed by distant fainthearts with an eye to the polite fictions of "international law": If you're in a ''warship,'' you can't wage war. If you're in a ''destroyer,'' don't destroy anything. If you're in a "frigate," you're frigging done for.

On Sept. 11, a New York skyscraper was brought down by the Egyptian leader of a German cell of an Afghan terror group led by a Saudi. Islamism is only the first of many globalized ideological viruses that will seep undetected across national frontiers in the years ahead. Meanwhile, we put our faith in meetings of foreign ministers.

"It is better to be making the news than taking it," wrote Winston Churchill in 1898. But his successors have gotten used to taking it, and the men who make the news well understand that.