Notes On The News
By Gwydion M. Williams
A hunter of humans on the US East Coast has rather blotted out the memories of the pro-bloodsport demonstration back in September. But there are still points worth making.
Argument from country folk about ‘centuries of tradition’ would be valid if they’d respected other people’s traditions, rather than helping trash them under Thatcher. Your own self-interest may seem much more significant than other people’s self-interest. But if you expect them to see it that way, you are a fool.
Since it’s been established that no tradition need be respected, let’s look at the facts. I am not a vegetarian, and if someone required me to go round to the slaughter-house and humanely kill a couple of beasts a year in exchange for the right to eat meat, I’d reluctantly go along with it. But a blood sport is not the same as killing to destroy pests, or for food, even food you could do without. We do not concede any ‘right-to-kill’, but fishing is the main reason fish still survive in our polluted rivers, and fish are generally either eaten or released.
A blood-sport is just a disgusting idea, a relic of a less humane past. You can shoot clay pigeons if you like, and hunters can engage in ‘drag hunts’ where there is no live prey, just a trail left by a human employed by the hunt. So if it spoils the fun to have nothing killed at the end of the day, then it’s the kind of fun I’m very happy to spoil.
Interestingly, an earthquake that was exceptional for Britain happened immediately after the gigantic demonstration for ‘bloody liberty’. Prince Charles is keen to invoke ‘spiritual forces when it suits him. How about when it doesn’t suit him?
Even if I agreed with blood-sports, I’d have criticised the ‘Liberty and Livelihood’ march was as a mutually lethal alliance that must repel the urban majority. Rampant market forces are destroying rural life, which is tragic. But its defenders can find no better tactic than to link up with fox-hunters, alienating possible allies among the urban majority.
The same applies to the ‘right-to-slaughter’ brigade. The urban supporters of rampant market forces might sympathise with fox-hunters, but not if it comes with a mass of rural small-holders demanding extra subsidy.
The two causes together have very much less chance of success than either would have on its own.
After the Bali bomb, commentators mostly didn’t bother to mention that it was a Hindu enclave in a mostly Muslim country. One needed to read letter columns (Guardian and Independent, 15th October) to learn that the Sari Club in Bali explicitly barred Indonesians. There was of course very little mention of the role of west in twice undermining an effective secular authoritarianism. Not much about how extreme Islam was fostered in a country where it had always been mild and tolerant. Hardly anything about how the western half of New Guinea was handed over to Indonesia despite having a completely different culture on territory that had been barely touched by outsiders before it was given as a reward to Indonesia as a reward for killing so many left-wingers among their own people.
It seems that the main Bali suspects are a security guard at the club, and a lieutenant-colonel who’d been dismissed and lived nearby. Incomprehensible?
The tourists who died were complete innocents, of course. As were the Indonesians who got caught in passing. But it’s symptomatic of the way that the Third World is being messed up wherever Western influence becomes dominant.
Indonesia has also seen various ethnic conflicts that kill hundreds or even thousands, but get very little notice in the Western media.
Since the first high-profile arrest in the Washington-sniper case caught a couple of harmless illegal immigrants, I reserve judgement on whether they’ve got it right this time. If they have, then it’s a black man with some sort of Islamic connection, but not exactly regular Islam.
The ‘I am God’ note was a strong clue. To Muslims, God not a person, let along a being likely to walk in human form. It would be like me claiming to be Trafalgar Square or the Statue of Liberty
The latest Hannibal Lector film has been mentioned as a possible inspiration. But was there ever a week when the US top ten did not feature at least one film glorifying and fetishising murder?
The interesting history of John Allen Muhammad is now emerging. As John Allen Williams, he was given sniper training by an army base whose motto was ‘One shot, one kill.” It is reported that he didn’t actually attend an elite Sniper School that the Army also runs. But he definitely applied US army methods for his sniping.
Chechens have demonstrated more than once that it was impossible to coexist with them. Russia tried a withdrawal and this didn’t work, it became a lair of bandits rather than a state. The Moscow bombings have sometimes been blamed on the Russian Security Services. But the big provocation was the Chechen invasion of Dagestan in July/August 1999. Not only had the Chechens failed to rule themselves, they also would not leave their neighbours alone.
But now we have seen an authentic Chechen leader proclaim suicide and terrorism as Chechen policies to the world media. That man—now dead, of course–I’m sure was sincere. But what about the people whose faces you never saw?
I had a feeling the previous evening that most of them were not as fanatical as they claimed. Most of them were keeping their faces hidden—you don’t need to hide your face if you are really set on death-or-glory.
The use of gas has attracted most of the attention. Security experts seem unwilling to criticise the Russians: less drastic methods could well have ended with more deaths. But also what was the overall politics?
I’ve noticed a surprising number of cases over the years in which a seemingly anti-American action rebounds to their advantage, almost as if they’d set the whole thing up, which they may have done. The left-wing coup in Indonesia in the 1960s. The hard-line takeover in the tiny island of Granada that helped Reagan re-start Cold War militarism. The bungled coup that destroyed the Soviet Union, and the inept revolt that allowed Yeltsin to break the independence of the Russian parliament.
There are other cases where the USA is seemingly not involved. The Cyprus coup by Greek-Cypriot extremists justified a Turkish invasion and toppled the Greek Colonels. The Greek Colonels were undoubtedly sponsored by the Americans originally, but arguably their usefulness was over. There was also the Argentine invasion of the Falklands—this helped discredit military juntas at a time when the USA no longer feared the outcome of elections, and it helped get Mrs Thatcher re-elected. Without the Falklands, the Liberal-Social Democrats might have defeated her after just one term and perhaps found a way to fix Britain’s troubles without New Right methods and without a drastic shift in advantage to the rich and powerful.
Any one or two incidents might be just chance. It’s the pattern that I find significant.
The Milosevic trial supposed to illustrate something, but it hasn’t worked. Detailed arguments show only that Milosevic was reacting to Croat and Bosnian-Muslim determination to disrupt the status quo. And a star witness against Milosevic suddenly declared that he had been bribed and tortured to tell a pack of lies.
The ‘big media event’ is barely mentioned and you need to trawl the internet to get some idea of what is happening.
Meantime Croatia is notably absent from the states lined up for admission to the European Union.
[Milosevic died of a heart attack during the trial, and was found guilty posthumously. His name should properly be written with diacritical marks (accents); but computers and the web are dominated by US and British values and tend to garble such things.]
[Croatia was allowed into the European Union in 2013, when things had become mostly peaceful.]
Mr Major’s attempt at a ‘moral crusade’ was even sillier than we knew at the time. But perhaps we should commemorate it by making up some love-poems that the two of them might have exchanged while in the throes of passion.
Mr Major could declare:
My love is like a not inconsiderably red-coloured red rose
And I shall come again if it should so happen that I am in the vicinity
Edwina’s stuff should be different, brassy and shallow and rather dull:
Give us a job, beloved, give us a really super job
Don’t try to ship me off to Northern Ireland