Global warming is a reality, as is global cooling. Throughout geological time, and throughout the history of mankind there is a natural variance in global temperatures. Geological variance is caused by variations in the tilt of the earth, the polarity switching, and continental drift. The variation on the historical timescale is caused by natural variance in oceanic currents, volcanic activity, and natural oscillations and cyclic proliferation of flora and fauna. Global warning, global cooling is not new. It is part of the natural condition of planet Earth.
The best example of ‘the greenhouse effect’ is on the planet Venus. A thick soup of acidic water vapour and carbon dioxide ‘traps’ the suns energy and global temperatures are scorching, with an average surface temperature of 300c. The opposite effect can be found on Mars, where the atmosphere which is 95% carbon dioxide but so sparse there is little effect on the atmosphere where global temperatures of –60c. Earth is in the ‘Goldilocks zone’, and naturally oscillates about halfway between these extremes. The mix of naturally fluctuating atmospheric carbon dioxide, and water vapour plays a role in the global temperature.
All coal, oil and fossil fuels on earth was once atmospheric carbon dioxide. In fact the main coal deposits on earth are as a result of carbon dioxide sequestration, 300 million years ago, during the ‘carboniferous’ era. This is the carbon dioxide released back into the atmosphere during the current industrial period, and it is claimed to have a dangerous effect on global warming.
It is also claimed that if we now plant trees on land currently used for grazing animals we can mitigate this effect. Is it true?
Well, no. The issue of global warming, and the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide was first identified in the early 1990s and proposals to try to manage this on a global scale was in Japan, in 1992, and it became known as the Kyoto Protocol. Coincidentally, Japan is an ideal comparison with the British Islands, both being of a temperate seasonal climate, with a modern industrial heritage, similar moderation of seasons by oceanic currents, and similar natural forests, a mixture of native coniferous forest at elevation and to the north, with a natural forest of deciduous woodland on the main landmass, with natural shrub and grassland at elevation.
Japan, both fortunately and unfortunately, has the advantage of having 75 years worth of continuous scientific study of re-forestation. It arose after a nuclear bomb was dropped on Nagasaki towards the end of WWII. It’s a port city very similar in size to Swansea, surrounded by an area of agricultural land on a peninsular, and a backdrop of moderate uplands, and a self-contained river system.
The bomb resulted in all this being taken out of productive use and a programme of forestation initiated, whose purpose at the time was to soak up nuclear contamination. It is the most intensively studied area of temperate reforestation in the world and has been studied for over 75 years. One particular measure being the sequestration of atmospheric carbon to measure ‘dilution’ of nuclear isotopes, but also provides empirical data on the seasonal sequestration of carbon dioxide as well as a net figure by different tree species over the 75 year period.
The key graph is shown below.
Tonnes per hectare per year.
Nineteen-sixty-eight was an important year. It was when the forest changed from being a carbon sink to a net carbon emitter. It related to the age of the trees and the natural eco-system. Mature trees decay, this is when the action of fungi, and other parasitic flora and fauna which consumes the wood, leaf litter, and soils, emitting carbon dioxide in quantities greater than that being absorbed by the tree through photosynthesis.
Tadaki, Y.; Hachiya, K. Forest Ecosystems and Their Productivity; Ringyo Kagakugijutsu Shinkosho: Tokyo, Japan, 1968. (In Japanese)
The Kyoto Protocol committed participants to financing measures to tackle carbon dioxide emissions. The United States blamed the rest of the world, suggesting the issue is in the Amazon, the European Union spent cash on changing agriculture with set-aside schemes, and this has now morphed in the United Kingdom to ‘blame the farmers’. Japan, however, took a more scientific approach and launched satellites to measures their forestation, launched a programme of study to measure carbon sequestration of a forestation programme, and was able to use data previously obtained (1968 tipping point) to give real numbers to the subject.
Estimation of CO2 Sequestration by the Forests in Japan by Discriminating Precise Tree Age Category using Remote Sensing Techniques” – 2015.
The reality is that a newly planted forest does act as an initial carbon sink, but only until the forest reaches maturity. Both show that net gains are negligible after 75 years, although there’s an earlier peak with coniferous forest in comparison to deciduous forest. Gains then become losses. The report is here.
The study concludes with: “The CO2 amount and other important information revealed in this study has provided important data. Do old mature trees sequestrate as much as younger trees? The answer is no when we see the trend of the sequestration as a function of tree age.” Kotaro Iizuka, Ryutaro Tateishi et al.
So what lessons can we draw on forestation as a method of sequestrating carbon dioxide in Wales? Mass forestation is not the answer. There is flora that does the job – peat bogs. This is where the acidity of the soil does not allow decomposition of vegetation and the result in layer upon layer of peat deposits. To maintain this ground cover, the light grazing of animals is needed, like sheep, to prevent the ingress of trees.
Why plant forests and remove farmers from the land when doing so has an adverse effect on carbon dioxide sequestration? Why is there an obsession with projects like the ‘Tetrapak Financed Summit to Sea’ project when there is clear scientific evidence that its objective cannot be met by its proposals? If there are short term gains prior to clear felling at sequestration tipping point, why isn’t this a purely commercial proposal? Why use upland grazing land that is already a net carbon sink for projects that scientifically are known to be inferior?
There is a myth that the large areas of treeless uplands that exist in Wales and the rest of Britain is a ‘man made landscape’ and planting trees in these areas is a form of ‘rewilding’. This is utter nonsense. There is clear scientific evidence that much of upland Britain has been treeless for the last 4000 years, and this is proved by pollen analysis of peat cores. After the last ice age, there were significant natural cyclic oscillations climatic change – dry Boreal, wet Atlantic, dry Sub-boreal, wet Sub-Atlantic. This eradicated almost all upland forestation long before any impact of human activity.
Seeing as it’s Easter this weekend don’t expect a posting on Monday. And as I’m sure you all know, a week later our friends in the Orthodox churches will be celebrating their Easter (according to the Julian Calendar).
So I might have two Easters and not post anything until May 6.
If anybody wants to send me a Fabergé egg, or two, then feel free.
This autumn has seen a succession of spats between the football associations of the ‘home’ nations and FIFA the international governing body of the game over displays of poppies, which FIFA deems to be a political symbol. These disputes reached something of a fever pitch last week when FIFA laid a number of charges against the Football Association of Wales (FAW) linked to the game against Serbia on November 12 (which I attended).
Press reports suggest that one of the charges was that fans had worn poppies in their coats! Which, if true, is insane. For not only would such a charge infringe personal liberty but also open up a vat of worms for those having to decide what qualifies as a political symbol. (At the game I wore a discreet Glyndŵr flag lapel badge.)
Consider Barcelona, one of the biggest clubs in the world, intertwined with Catalan identity and the independence movement. Everywhere at their stadium you will read it spelled out for you – Mes que un club (more than a club). Their big rivals are of course Real Madrid, the club of ruling Castille, the club of the monarchy, and the multi-ethnic – but definitely unified – Spanish state.
Last week Barcelona played in Glasgow against Celtic, an intense, occasionally tetchy, but nevertheless enjoyable game that saw the magnificent Celtic fans waving their Irish tricolours and singing their Irish rebel songs. Across town you’ll find arch-rivals Rangers, whose fans wave union flags and sing ditties such as The Billie Boys (‘Up to our knees in Fenian blood, etc’).
There are hundreds of other clubs in the world with an intensely partisan identity that is overtly and unmistakably political, or even ethnic. Until very recently only Basques were allowed to play for Bilboko Athletic Kluba and even though that rule now appears to have been relaxed Athletic Bilbao and the other Basque clubs retain an intensely nationalistic ethos. (Though Celtic and Rangers may be unique in that the fans are animated by the history and politics of another country.)
Come to that, what about international games, such as the one between Wales and Serbia that caused FIFA’s representative such concern? As with every competitive international game there were national flags, and national anthems – aren’t they ‘political’? Come to that, national teams, the raison d’être for FIFA, are obviously political because they represent nation-states or, in the case of Wales, a nation without a state.
Whereas on the other hand, the Serbs might argue that Serbia is a nation-state but too many Serbs are stranded outside the homeland, in Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo. And yet, Kosovo, a breakaway province of Serbia, handed over by NATO to Albanian gangsters was, in a blatantly political decision, admitted to both FIFA and the European governing body, UEFA, in May 2016. Too late to qualify for the World Cup Finals in Russia in 2018, which is just as well, because Russia doesn’t recognise Kosovo.
Early in the second paragraph I qualified my criticism of FIFA with “if true”, partly because I find it difficult to believe that anyone would try to dictate what football fans wear, and partly because it could be that what FIFA meant by ‘fans in the stand’ was the display organised by the FAW, not far from where I was sitting with my son and grandsons. (Being aware of this stunt in advance I was praying that our section of the crowd wouldn’t be involved. Taid being thrown out could have spoilt the night even more than the late Serbian equaliser.)
This stunt was arranged by placing cards on seats which, when held up, combined to give the image of a big poppy. This was rather naughty of the FAW, and very silly. Naughty because it forced people to be part of something about which they might have had reservations, and silly because it was sticking two fingers up to FIFA, which had already warned the FAW that the players should not wear poppies on their shirts, nor should there be other displays. But then, the Sun, the Daily Mail and other good friends of Wales said it should be done, so that presumably made it OK.
Now if it is this display of poppies organised by the FAW that FIFA is objecting to, and if it results in points being deducted and Wales not reaching the World Cup Finals, then I believe that the officials of the FAW will have failed us all and should consider their positions.
I say that because the duty of the FAW is to manage the game in Wales in the best interests of the member clubs, the national team and the fans, not to jeopardise the best interests of Welsh football by falling into line with the cynical and engineered poppy frenzy.
Personal freedom is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society, and must be defended. And that’s why FIFA is wrong if it charges the FAW for individual fans choosing to wear a poppy in their lapel. But considerations of personal freedom also put the FAW in the wrong for forcing individuals to be part of that poppy display.
I think we’re entitled to answers, from both FIFA and the FAW.
PART 2: “SQUEAKY BUM TIME”
Demanding that everyone, including footballers, wears a poppy for the weeks leading up to Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday is quite recent, maybe no more than a decade old. Here’s a photo from a Scotland v England game played on Saturday November 14, 1999, the day before Remembrance Sunday. There are no poppies. There was no one-minute silence before the game.
It’s fitting that the photo comes from 1999, and was taken in the home city of Sir Alex Ferguson, the great Manchester United manager, because that year almost certainly marks the start of “squeaky bum time” (a period of nervousness and uncertainty) for those who were soon promoting the poppy and what they wanted it to stand for.
Because 1999 was the year of the first elections to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. The SNP got 28.7% of the vote and 35 out the 129 seats in Scotland, while in Wales Plaid Cymru achieved 28.4% of the vote and 17 out of 60 seats. So even though Plaid Cymru did better than expected there was nothing for our masters to get overly concerned about in either country, yet within the establishment there were those who already feared where devolution might lead.
September 11, 2001 saw the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, soon followed by retaliatory US and UK air strikes against Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Afghanistan. To be followed by ground troops. January 4 2002 saw the first US soldier killed by enemy fire. The conflict dragged on.
The USA and UK invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein in March 2003. All kinds of reasons were proffered to justify this aggression but none were convincing. It was regime change linked to oil, and another ‘All be home by Christmas’ intervention that dragged on, and on.
Then, in July 2005, London experienced suicide bomb attacks that killed 52 people, and carried out by British-born Islamic terrorists. These bombings were the most extreme expression of the growing anger within Muslim communities in Europe and the USA at the West’s military interventions in the Islamic world.
The May 2007 elections to the Scottish Parliament saw the SNP’s share of the vote climb to 32.9% of the vote, giving it the most votes, and with 47 seats (one more than Labour) it was now the largest party. Squeaky bum time was really upon us (or them).
By the end of 2007 it became clear that the Western world was entering a period of economic turmoil. It was equally clear that the recession had been caused by irresponsible lending by banks and mortgage institutions coupled with the imaginative trading of debts and other worthless packages. As with Afghanistan and Iraq, it was the USA and the UK leading the way, with other countries quick to blame ‘the Anglo-Saxon economic model’ of quick-buck trading having no concern for the wider economy, let alone society as a whole.
By 2010 everyone knew that the UK was up shit creek economically, with the public purse bailing out criminally irresponsible banks. The public turned against banks and the City of London. The UK was still bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq. Al Qaeda had been overtaken by the much more ruthless ISIS, which had support from young British Muslims.
To cap it all, the Monarchy started losing what had been its 90+ per cent approval rating. I suspect this started with the death of Princess Diana in 1997, made worse by divorces and scandals, with the prospect of Charles becoming king viewed with concern in certain quarters.
So our elite consulted that well-thumbed manual, ‘Cunning Plans For When Things Go Pear Shaped”. And there, in among chapters headed, ‘Blame Somebody Else’, ‘Start A War’, ‘Scapegoat A Minority’, ‘Do A Runner With The Loot’ and ‘Pray For Divine Intervention’ they found ‘Whip Up A Frenzy Of Faux Patriotism’.
This explains why, in the mid to late noughties the largely neglected poppy saw the first drops of revivifying water and became the symbol not of sacrifice in war but of British identity and ‘pulling together’. The UK media played its role with an enthusiasm almost unknown in democratic societies.
Could it get any worse for the establishment? Yes it could, for in May 2011 the SNP took 44% (+13%) of the vote and 69 seats, giving it a clear majority in the Scottish Parliament. There would now be a referendum on Scottish independence.
Television companies responded by going into overdrive in promoting British unity. In the final year of the Labour – Lib Dem coalition in the Scottish Parliament (to May 3, 2007) there were just 25 television programmes with ‘Britain’ or ‘British’ in the title. Between January 2013 and January 2014, with the SNP in power and the independence referendum looming, the number of ‘Britain’ / ‘British’ programmes had risen to 516!
Which brings us to where we are today. To the point where the now regular autumn hysteria has reached absurd proportions. Here are a couple of examples.
On the evening of Friday November 18 I watched a televised football game (Brighton & Hove Albion v Aston Villa) and I couldn’t understand why the players had poppies on their shirts a week after Armistice Day and five days after Remembrance Sunday. Then the commentator told us it was to commemorate the last day of the Battle of the Somme!
So are we now compelled to remember every date that someone, somewhere, deems significant? And if so, where does this end? Can anyone remember any other instance of poppies being worn after Remembrance Sunday?
Nowhere is the poppy cult more slavishly followed than at the BBC. It is now obvious that from mid or late October no one is allowed to appear on any BBC programme without a poppy. (Though Evan Davis on Newsnight held out longer than most.) So terrified is the Beeb of falling foul of the Sun and the other directors of the national mood that anything that moves is liable to have a poppy pinned to it.
But this fear of manufactured British patriotism can bring its own problems, such as when someone at The One Show pinned a poppy on the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. This outraged some for “trivialising the sacrifice of millions”, but as Dara Ó Briain suggested, it might have been satire, somebody having a pop at the poppy fascists. Here’s how the story was covered in Heatstreet, MailOnline, The Express, and the Huffington Post.
As the BBC discovered with the Cookie Monster, when you’re dealing with poppy fascists it’s difficult to do the right thing. Perhaps the rule for broadcasters should be to pin a poppy on everything that breathes irrespective of whether it wants to wear one or not. Which might result in an apologist for ISIS appearing on Newsnight or Channel 4 News wearing a poppy.
PART 3: CUNNING PLANS GANG AFT AGLEY
What I hope I’ve explained is that the past decade has seen a poppy cult engineered to engender a sense of Britishness, patriotism and unity, in order to counter threats from within and without; also to divert attention away from military blunders and other cracks in the façade of the British system that had led people to question the roles of the armed forces, the Monarchy, the City of London and other institutions.
To some extent this has worked. For example, the first referendum on Scottish independence in September 2014 was ‘won’. Then, the prince who many would like to see accede to the throne instead of his father has knocked out a few sprogs, and the ‘Ah!’ factor always works for the House of Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha.
Yet the success of this strategy is now causing problems that the Elite had not foreseen. You’ll note that I’m talking now of an ‘Elite’, so let me explain myself. Perhaps the best way is to refer back to my post EU Referendum: Why I Want OUT! where I wrote of an Elite that opposes “nation-states, national identities, local governments, languages other than English, regional tastes and peculiarities. In fact, many of the things you and I cherish.”
Those behind the relentless promotion of the poppy are linked to that global Elite. They opposed Scottish independence and they were against Brexit, for they believe in the Elite’s agenda of globalisation and mass migration as these drive down wages and help destroy the national identities that are viewed as an obstacle to globalisation.
The problem is that for most English people ‘Britishness’ and ‘Englishness’, ‘Britain’ and ‘England’, are synonyms, and the English make up almost 80% of the UK’s population. Which has meant that by clumsily promoting the poppy and British nationalism as a short-term fix for assorted problems the Elite unleashed insurgent English populism that resulted in UKIP and Brexit, and may now take us on a journey no one foresaw.
This revolt against the Elite is not confined to the UK. Donald Trump is President-elect of the USA. François Fillon is the Centre-right’s candidate against Marine le Pen, and he will fight that election on a platform that Donald Trump would approve: making friends with Putin, cracking down hard on Islamic extremists, opposing same-sex couples adopting children, etc.
When the French go to the polls in April to elect a new president it will be a choice between a weak and demoralised Left on the one side, while the alternatives are the Hard Right and the Very Hard Right. Then, between Fillon and le Pen, attitudes to the EU could be the main and defining difference.
The liberal, globalist, ‘do your own thing’ consensus we’ve lived with since the 1960s is almost dead. Accidentally killed by an Elite that over-reached itself, assisted by a Left that had been allowed to dictate the social agenda (because it complemented the ambitions of the Elite) but so detached itself from the concerns of most people that ‘liberal elite’ is now a term of abuse.
For me, it’s one of the great political ironies that an annual propaganda exercise to defend established interests favouring the EU, centrist politics, globalisation and unrestricted immigration has breathed life into forces representing their very antithesis. But so fitting.
Having read the full Chilcot Report on the invasion of Iraq by the USA and the UK – in the original Latin – I have decided to spare my readers that ordeal by giving a succinct summary of what lies behind that disaster and why we are where we are.
However, for the masochists among you, here’s a link to the Executive Summary. This runs to 150 pages, but the full Report is 2.6 million words long, or over four times the size of War and Peace, so don’t even think about reading it.
For all you need to know, read on . . .
1/ The best place to start is with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. From the perspective of the Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department at that time, anyone who fought against communism was a ‘freedom-fighter’, be he a drug-trafficking fascist, a mass-murdering psychopath or, as in Afghanistan, a religious fanatic wanting to turn the clock back a few centuries.
And so it came to pass that Uncle Sam ended up funding, arming and in other ways supporting the Bearded Ones in their fight against the Russians. (No, these were not hipsters.)
In the same year, the major US ally in the region, the Shah of Iran, was forced into exile by another bunch of Bearded Ones. There was further humiliation for the USA when its Tehran embassy was overrun and 66 US citizens taken hostage.
2/ Next, in September 1980, hostilities commenced between Iran and Iraq. Despite Iraq being ruled by a ruthless tyrant named Saddam Hussein, who began his career as an assassin for the Ba’ath Party, the USA decided – on the ‘enemy of my enemy’ principle – to back (the beardless) Saddam.
After massive losses on both sides the inconclusive war came to its end with the ceasefire of August 20th 1988.
3/ Saddam Hussein decided to flex his military muscles again by invading Kuwait in August 1990 – using weaponry supplied by Western powers during the war with Iran. This invasion was widely condemned, and a UN-supported coalition force was organised under US leadership to liberate Kuwait.
A brief military campaign at the start of 1991 saw the Iraqi army expelled and Kuwait restored to its former condition of Western-friendly despotism. However, the coalition stopped short of toppling Saddam, who then took revenge on his Kurdish and Shia subjects, who had been encouraged to rise against him by the USA and its partners with the promise of protection and / or Saddam’s removal.
The US president at the time of the ‘liberation’ of Kuwait was George H W Bush.
4/ With the Russians gone Afghanistan descended into civil war, from which emerged victorious, in 1996, the fundamentalist (and well bearded) Taliban, but nobody paid them too much attention because they were the good guys who’d fought against Ronald Reagan’s ‘Evil Empire‘.
The Taliban takeover allowed Saudi national Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation to return from its four-year exile in Sudan. (Bin Laden was never seen without his beard.) Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim terrorist organisation that views the West as a corrupting influence on the Islamic world, and it announced its war on the West with attacks on US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in August 1998.
5/ Unpleasant though these incidents were they were both a long way away, but everything changed with al-Qaeda’s attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11th, 2001.
In response, Afghanistan was invaded, and it was soon realised that 9/11, as it became known, could also be used as an excuse to remove Saddam Hussein. For by now the US president was George W Bush, son of the president Bush who had lost face by leaving Saddam in power.
Attacking Iraq was a curious decision for many reasons. As I’ve said, Osama bin Laden was a Saudi, many of his funders and supporters were Saudis, most of the hijackers on the planes that caused such devastation were Saudis. So if any country should have been attacked in response to 9/11 it was surely Saudi Arabia! But no, for the Saudis and the Americans were friends.
6/ But this time there was to be no UN support, and no grand coalition. Russia, Germany, France and most other countries opposed US action against Iraq. So to give himself a fig leaf / partner George W Bush turned to the UK, and its prime minister Tony Blair. At a meeting on his Texas ranch in April 2002 Bush got Blair to commit the UK to joining with the USA in invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein. (Bush and Blair have never been seen bearded.)
Three months later Blair wrote his now infamous memo to Bush in which he promised, “I will be with you, whatever”.
My view has always been that Blair was seduced by the opportunity to play a world role in partnership with the USA, and so he allowed himself to be talked into invading Iraq. A country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and led by a man who was as hostile to the Bearded Ones as Western leaders. (And who understood far better what he was dealing with.)
Fundamentally, the problem may have been that Blair allowed it all to go to his head, he seemed to think that he too was a president, rather than a prime minister answerable to parliament. That he was able to get away with it exposed weaknesses in the UK system that seem to have been overlooked. What steps have been taken to ensure that no future prime minister can behave like a one-man government?
7/ The planned invasion then had to be justified. Which saw a year or more in which we heard one ludicrous claim after another telling us how dangerous Saddam Hussein was, and what a threat he was to the West. Why! he had missiles that could target British bathers on Cyprus beaches.
This is when we became familiar with the term Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), which it was claimed – by the US and UK – Saddam possessed, and was preparing to use. The problem with this assertion was that United Nations weapons inspectors that were in the country, and free to go wherever they wished, could find absolutely nothing to substantiate these claims. That was because the claims were bullshit, and those making the claims knew they were bullshit.
Bush, Blair and their underlings knew that Iraq had no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons but the pretence had to be maintained. In his State of the Union address on January 28th 2003 George Bush said, “If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.” Saddam Hussein was being told to get rid of weapons he didn’t possess otherwise his country would be invaded! Clearly the USA was going to invade Iraq, and sure enough, Operation Iraqi Freedom began on March 19th 2003.
8/ The invasion itself went swimmingly, the Iraqi army was soon rolled up and the media showed us grateful Iraqis dancing in the streets and showering their liberators with gifts. British forces were given territory in the Shia heartlands of the south east to control, in and around the city of Basra, not far from Iran. Then it all started to go wrong.
The sudden and complete removal of Saddam’s army and police, coupled with the reluctance of the US and UK military to antagonise the locals, resulted in looting and more general criminality becoming widespread. The political situation deteriorated by the day as the Iranians encouraged the Shia majority to exercise its new-found power through its militias. While Saddam’s now dis-empowered and jobless Sunni supporters grew ever more bitter as they envisioned a Shia-run Iraq.
In the north, the Kurds effectively withdrew from the crumbling state and set up their own institutions.
The truth was that no one in the US-UK alliance really had a clue what might happen after Saddam was toppled. It was all wishful thinking premised on the aftermath of D-Day: Go in, kick out the bad guys, be welcomed as liberators, drink some booze and lay a few chicks, set out the rules for a pro-Western system of government, go home to ticker-tape welcome . . . more booze and chicks.
9/ What actually happened after the initial welcome was years of fighting between coalition forces and Shia militias or Sunni insurgents. The country fell apart. A major contribution to the upsurge in hostility to the occupying forces was the decline in public amenities, health care and other facilities, this being the inevitable result of the gratuitous destruction of infrastructure by the coalition at the start of the campaign, largely done for the entertainment of the television audience in the West.
Saddam Hussein was unquestionably a bastard, but he wasn’t particularly ideological, and he certainly wasn’t driven by religious zeal, nor was he especially greedy. He certainly liked power and used it as he thought necessary to hold together an artificial and fissiparous country bequeathed by the Sykes-Picot carve-up during WWI.
But as Iraqis were soon to lament, under Saddam they at least had electricity, and a working sewage system, the hospitals had drugs and doctors, there was public transport, kids went to school and on to university. Compared to the ‘liberation’ Iraq under Saddam Hussein began to look like a lost golden age.
10/ Democracy (of a sort) was installed . . . or another way of putting it would be that Shia sectarianism was empowered. For the Shia majority, with its (lavishly bearded) leaders controlled by Iran, now ruled the roost and were determined to make the Sunni – of whom Saddam was nominally one – pay for the years in which they, the Sunni, had ruled that same roost at the expense of Shia and Kurds.
The resentment felt by the Sunni resulted in attacks on the US military, and on Shia shrines and other targets. To cut a long story short, it was the treatment meted out to the Sunni by the USA and the Shia – who were backed, bizarrely, by both the USA and Iran – that created the conditions in which Sunni ISIS could establish itself and flourish.
And that’s where we are today, boys and girls.
With no clear plan beyond settling a family score by getting rid of Saddam Hussein, and grabbing Iraq’s oilfields and other assets for vice president Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and other US companies, George W Bush didn’t really know what he was doing. His ally, or perhaps his dupe, Tony Blair, deluded himself that this was some noble crusade against evil. Even today Blair argues that he did the right thing. One’s a duplicitous and devious idiot, the other’s a self-deluding zealot who, like so many who have done great wrong, now finds solace in religion.
They blundered in, blundered about for a few years, wrecking an entire country, strengthening Iran, causing the rise of ISIS, before blundering out, little wiser about the country they’d destroyed than when they invaded.
Add disastrous military escapades like Iraq and Afghanistan to globalisation and immigration and you explain the increasing alienation of the white working class in the USA and in post-industrial regions across Europe. Which in turn explains the popularity of Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders), Brexit, Marine le Pen and a host of other examples showing growing public contempt for what had been the established political order.
President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair told us that by invading Iraq they were making the world a safer place. The world is now infinitely more dangerous, both from external foes and also from internal divisions due to the discrediting of the Anglo-Saxon, transatlantic political and economic model (the latter following the Crash of 2008).
When millions of voters are prepared to put their faith in Nigel Farage you know just how badly Bush and Blair fucked up. That is their legacy.
As the title suggests, I am voting for the UK, but more especially for Wales, to leave the European Union. There are many reasons for this decision, some of which are set out below. And while my primary interest is Wales my concerns over the EU encompass wider, even global, issues.
THE BIG PICTURE
There have always been dreamers or idealists who’ve believed that the human race would be far happier if we had one, world government, and that wars could be avoided if we all spoke the same language. Nowhere has this belief been more explicitly stated than in those movies that see Earth threatened with alien invasion / destruction making us all pull together to defeat a common enemy. Heart-warming stuff that makes us proud to be Earthlings.
Away from the idealism I believe there really are powerful and influential people working towards a similar kind of global unity. Let me allay your fears for my sanity by making it clear that I am not talking now about anything as exotic as Illuminati or Knights Templar, Zionists or Nazis, let alone aliens or disguised reptilians moving among us. These are human beings not a lot different to you and me, just more ruthless, and greedy.
Among the more irritating ‘barriers’ to this one-world objective are nation-states, national identities, local governments, languages other than English, regional tastes and peculiarities. In fact, many of the things you and I cherish. So another objective for our Elite is to break down these ‘barriers’, and this is done by promoting the growth of supra-national bodies and encouraging the ‘homogenisation’ of the human race.
Perhaps it’s the absence of reptilian characteristics, but those I’m referring to are not easily identifiable, though many of them will be found at the regular meetings of the Bilderberg Group. (That said, the Bilderberg Group may itself be little more than a useful distraction for conspiracy theorists.)
Those I’m discussing are an ever-changing but self-perpetuating Elite that operates in the way secretive or semi-secretive groups have operated throughout history; that is, by infiltrating other organisations and also – more importantly – by recruiting those they see rising within the corporate world, the media, politics, the military and other fields. You cannot apply to join.
THE POLITICAL ROUTE
The best way to progress their strategy is by covering both bases in democracies where we find two major parties split along vaguely Left / Right lines, and then work through both of them. Achieved by largely removing ideology from politics and reducing political ‘debate’ to sound bites, photo opportunities, and taking up ‘positions’ that mean absolutely nothing.
In recent decades this blurring has been achieved in the USA, the UK, and other Western countries sharing such a political system. And yet, the rise of Trump, the support for Sanders, the election of Corbyn (even if it was achieved by the hard Left), and increasing support for populists and nationalist parties on the European mainland, presents our putative world leaders with the biggest threat their plans have yet faced. That’s because these hiccups warn them that across the Western world an increasing number of people believe they are ruled by elites out of touch with their concerns. And they’re right.
The Washington Post and the New York Times rail against Trump, ridicule his supporters, but those putting their faith in the Republican presidential candidate are not all gun-toting rednecks; they are people who have seen their jobs exported to low wage countries and their living standards fall, who have seen their patriotism exploited by one pointless and expensive war after another, who have lived through a recession caused by the reckless and criminal behaviour of people who all escaped punishment, who have seen the America they grew up in change around them.
To summarise: the aspiring world Elite has been clever in taking over the political centre ground and using that control to cast the cloak of moderation over its own ambitions. To the extent that anyone outside of the imposed boundaries of ‘responsible’ debate automatically becomes ‘dangerous’, or an ‘extremist’.
You know how clever this Elite has been when you hear socialists defend the EU for what it’s done for workers rights, and women’s rights, and God knows what other acts the bruvvers hold to be virtuous. I say that because the EU is merely a halfway house to the world our Elite craves.
The EU serves to lull us into a resigned acceptance of vague and distant government over which we have no control, but disguises its intentions by doling out goodies to appease the gullible. The question I would ask those currently defending the EU is this, if the Elite I’m describing achieves its objective of an unelected global government that cannot be removed, do you really think they’ll still be handing out goodies?
THE WORLD OF HARRY LIME
If we would seek a birthplace for this Elite, then it has to be the USA. There’s a temptation to assume that it grew out of that bogeyman of ’60s activists and folk singers, the military-industrial complex, but I believe we need to go back further.
In the first decade or so following the end of World War Two Europe was a very uncertain place. Not only were the Soviets camped in the east but in the west communist parties almost came to power through the ballot box in Italy and France. This frightened both the USA and the European elites trying to re-establish themselves after the disruption of World War Two.
There were a number of initiatives used to counter the communist threat to western Europe. First there was NATO, with the Treaty signed on April 4th 1949. Next came the forerunner to the Common Market and the EU, the European Steel and Coal Community, announced by Robert Schuman in May 1950.
Taking the fight to the communists was Gladio. Formed as a ‘stay behind’ force in the event of a Soviet invasion Gladio developed into a terrorist organisation, using false flag attacks – as part of the Strategy of Tension – to lose the Left political support and justify repressive legislation. This culminated in the 1980 Bologna train station massacre, which was initially blamed on Left-wing terrorists but was actually carried out by fascists directed by the Italian secret service.
Operation Gladio can be traced through NATO back to the Pentagon and the CIA. Unsurprisingly, no one likes to talk about Gladio nowadays.
Finally, we had the first meeting of the Bilderberg Group at Oosterbeek in the Netherlands in May 1954.
I don’t want to dwell too much on this aspect of recent European history partly because it’s all rather distasteful, but without appreciating what was happening in the decades following WWII, it’s not easy to understand where we are today. The Strategy of Tension that invents enemies or exaggerates threats in order to justify repression is something that all governments employ to some extent. How far they’re prepared to go along this road depends on how serious they regard the challenges facing them. Though when the strategy is externally controlled then national governments may not even be consulted.
By the late 1980s we were into the brief era of Glasnost and Perestroika. There were many now in the USA who believed that their country had rescued Europe from the Nazis, had then pumped in huge amounts of cash to re-build Europe, before saving us from the Communists, and that all this entitled the USA to some control over Europe. And some tangible benefits from that control.
NATO, RUSSIA AND TURKEY
The Soviet Union and its former Warsaw Pact allies falling apart after 1990 should have meant the end of NATO, a military alliance set up to counter the spread of Soviet communism. But no, NATO has continued to grow, and all in one direction – eastward, seeking to encircle Russia.
NATO and the EU work hand in hand. It begins by, typically, exaggerating the threat of Russian aggression to frighten eastern European states into joining NATO, with membership of the EU offered as a sweetener. For a post I wrote in February I drew up a little table showing how joining NATO is invariably rewarded with EU membership. I reproduce a slightly amended version here.
Turkey is the obvious anomaly, but rest assured, the Turks have been promised EU membership . . . by the USA. Though it’s proving to be a hard sell. For a clear majority of the EU’s people do not want Turkey as a member, but the promise has been made and now a way must be found to give Turkey EU membership, or, at least, the benefits of EU membership, and this can only be done by denying the people of Europe a say in the matter.
Turkey, that refuses to acknowledge its genocide against the Armenians. Turkey, a country waging constant war against its Kurdish minority. Turkey, friend of ISIS. Turkey, the Islamist dictatorship on the borders of Europe. We are supposed to welcome this country into the EU simply because it’s a loyal ally of the USA in its power struggle with Russia! I’d rather have Russia in the EU.
What I’ve written should explain why President Barack Obama has made a number of interventions in support of the UK staying in the EU. In one speech he went as far as saying that we would be punished if we left the EU. (The BBC report I’ve linked to suggests that Obama was ‘doing Downing Street’s bidding’. Do these people understand nothing!)
The USA wants the UK to remain in the EU for the very reasons President de Gaulle wanted to keep the UK out – because the UK (more especially, England) will always act as Uncle Sam’s Trojan Horse. The UK in the EU will make life easier for major US corporations, and continue to isolate and taunt Russia. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership should be a warning to everybody.
The campaign itself has been distinguished by its lack of honesty, the absence of rational let alone intellectual discourse, and now, as I write this, by the hysteria surrounding the murder of MP Jo Cox.
Apparently her killer, rather than being an unhinged saddo, living alone and friendless since his granny died, is a ruthless assassin with links to US white supremacists, the apartheid regime in South Africa (toppled 22 years ago!), and motivated by his hatred for the EU. To believe much of what I’ve heard and read in the past 72 hours, the murder might as well have been committed by Farage, Gove and Johnson.
Something else worth mentioning about this killing is that once again we see the Elite and the Left in harmony. In times past of course, in the good old Gladio days, the Elite would have been targeting the Left, but currently the threat to the Elite’s agenda comes from the Right, both in the USA and in Europe, and so public opinion must be mobilised against that threat.
The ‘National Newspaper of Wales’ on Saturday told us, ‘Wales united in grief’ – for a woman we’d never heard of until she was murdered! ‘National grief’, if such a thing exists, is surely reserved for tragedies like Aberfan or, if we are dealing with individuals, then someone the nation knows and loves.
Also on the front page the Mule told us that the “Nation stands together to remember MP Jo Cox”. No, not really; it was just a few politicians campaigning. This killing was a truly horrible deed, but God Almighty! it has been shamelessly and distastefully milked by the Remain camp.
Elsewhere we have had various groups coming out in support of remaining in the EU, including of course (drum roll) ‘The World of Showbiz’. But what sort of moron is influenced in making a very important choice by a soap opera ‘star’? Come to that, why do luvvies believe that anyone with an ounce of sense gives a toss about their opinions? Is life for them one big Graham Norton Show?
The BBC and the rest have played ball to the extent that just about anyone arguing against EU membership belongs to the ‘Right Wing’ or the ‘Extreme Right’; and is ipso facto a ‘racist’ or a ‘fascist’. It seems that in the modern political spectrum there is naught but a wasteland between the advance guard of the Fourth Reich and the cuddly and ‘responsible’ Centre-Right represented by Cameron, that merges seamlessly into the Centre-Left.
Which is strange, really, because somewhere in this ‘wasteland’ is where I locate myself, and I know that the neighbourhood is becoming daily more popular.
And yet, the irony, not lost on anyone who follows and analyses what goes on in the world, is that the Elite-NATO nexus has not hesitated to fund and to arm overtly fascist groups in Croatia, Ukraine and elsewhere. So the message is clear – there’s nothing wrong with fascism per se but the jackbooted ones must be on the ‘right’ side.
Of course, there’s no escaping the fact that this debate is essentially a Left / Right split. Perhaps this was inevitable, and I have no problem with it. What I do take issue with – and not just in this referendum campaign – is that many on the Left seem to believe they are both intellectually and morally superior to their opponents. In their eyes I am both stupid and evil for writing this.
There’s no avoiding it, I suppose; we must discuss the beast itself. Though I don’t really want to spend too much time on it. Let’s start by going back in time a bit.
Given my admiration for General de Gaulle, his l’Europe des patries held some attraction. Then there was the alternative of a fully federalist model that promised to do away with the existing nation-state and perhaps revive Europe’s ancient regions and submerged nations.
But whichever model was chosen I believed – influenced by books such as The American Challenge – that the ambition should be a continent standing up to both the USA and the Soviet Union. A beacon to the rest of the world, offering a real alternative that balanced individual freedoms with collective responsibility for the less fortunate.
The bureaucratic aberration we see today results from neither of those options I considered all those years ago. The EU today is little more than the political wing of NATO. The EU was long ago adopted by the Elite as a vehicle to carry forward its agenda. The EU today, given these links, and how NATO and the Elite provoke Russia, may even be a threat to peace.
I suppose I also have to address immigration seeing as this is said to be the most important single reason for people in the UK wanting to leave the EU. My position is quite simple; genuine refugees should be taken in, but economic migrants should not be allowed to enter the EU unless needed. As for migration within the EU of EU citizens, well, that’s part of the package, the only way to stop it is to leave.
The reason the issue is so fraught, and divisive, is that with immigration we once again see the unholy alliance between the Elite and the Left. The latter seems to believe that Europe should take in just about anybody, with few if any checks. (The attitude that led to the wake-up call of New Year’s Eve in Cologne, where the attackers were not refugees from Syria or Iraq but young, and mainly illegal, male migrants from North Africa.)
The Hard Left cries crocodile tears over refugees but in reality it views immigration as just another weapon in its ongoing war against the corrupt and capitalist West. (Yawn.)
The Elite of course supports uncontrolled immigration because this is a force for homogenisation, and also because it drives down wages. But using the mainstream media to vilify as ‘racists’ all those who have reservations about immigration is insulting to tens of millions of decent people across Europe, and it will backfire.
It is already backfiring, on both sides of the Atlantic. The Austrian establishment suffered a bit of a shock recently when Austrians nearly voted in a Freedom Party president. (Note that for the Grauniad the FPÖ is a “far-right party”.) Now new President Christian Kern is considering introducing legislation to ban the peaceful – but embarrassing – protesters of the Identitarian movement. “We have to think about whether we are too tolerant”, says Kern. Chilling words.
The conundrum for the Elite, and indeed for those who like to project themselves as ‘moderate’ and mainstream politicians, can be spelt out thus: For reasons commendable or not you want immigration, but you don’t want the political drift to the Right that challenges your authority and your plans. Yet uncontrolled immigration – even the perception of uncontrolled immigration – will always drive many voters to the Right.
I shall end with one final example of how out of touch those running this circus are with the ordinary people of Europe. One issue that I guarantee unites people across Europe is their contempt for tax havens, so beloved of the Elite. Yet Europe has a tax haven at its very core, it’s called Luxembourg.
When I joined Plaid Cymru back in the mid-’60s there was no question that the party believed in independence. There was no debate over the issue; it was independence, a seat at the United Nations and all the other trappings of statehood. The problem was that this inevitably raised the response that accused us of wanting to ‘cut Wales off’. (‘Cut’ being an emotive and loaded word in almost any context.)
Then along came the Common Market, and Plaid Cymru seized the opportunity to promote ‘Independence within Europe’ which, it was hoped, would avoid the damaging ‘cut’ riposte. It hasn’t really worked. In fact, UK membership of the EU has not made Plaid Cymru any more popular; it has simply allowed the party to pretend that Wales somehow has a real presence in Europe, while simultaneously arguing that independence is soooo twentieth century.
But the argument being pushed more than any other, by Plaid Cymru and the other parties, is that Wales ‘does well’ out of the EU. What this really means is that because Wales is relatively poor we get lots of hand-outs. It’s quite incredible to hear ‘Welsh’ Labour, largely responsible for Wales’ poverty, extol the benefits of EU membership for this reason.
There’s no doubting that Wales has received billions in EU hand-outs – but look around you, where are the benefits? The truth is, as I keep saying, far too much of this funding has been wasted building up a whole stratum of Welsh life beholden to the statist ‘Welsh’ Labour Party. It’s almost as if our politicians are afraid to do what’s best for Wales in case it gives us ideas.
Wales today is asleep, lulled into accepting a steady, subsidised decline. We are told by all political parties that we must be grateful for these dollops of cash because we can’t do anything for ourselves. Therefore we must stay in the EU to ensure the cash keeps coming. There needs to be a better reason than that.
Finally, I ask you to consider the reasons given, by different voices, for Wales to vote Remain, and then decide whether – like me – you don’t in fact view these as the ‘cold shower’ Wales needs to finally wake us up and get us moving in the right direction:
We shall lose the EU hand-outs and these will not be replaced by Westminster.
Leaving the EU will result in economic meltdown.
The City of London will be replaced as Europe’s No 1 financial centre.
Brexit is fundamentally English nationalism.
Post Brexit the UK will experience the most repressive and anglocentric government ever known.
Scotland will probably become independent.
I know I’m lining up with some unpleasant people (I see through them better than most), but the issue is too big to let personalities intrude. The European Union is a bureaucratic nightmare run by weaklings and a failure on every level. Worse, it no longer serves the interests of Europe’s peoples but those of a shadowy Elite that regards all nationalities, and all languages other than English, as obstacles to a world unified without the knowledge or consent of its peoples.
On Thursday you won’t just be voting on the European Union; a Remain vote will also be an endorsement of NATO’s dangerous Bear-baiting; of the Elite’s global control programme, and, possibly – more likely if democracy threatens to break out – a return to Operation Gladio.
You don’t want to live in this dystopian future, few do, but the wheels are already in motion. If you care about Wales, and if you want to see Wales survive and prosper as a nation in her own right, then you must vote to leave the European Union as the precondition for leaving the United Kingdom.