On Friday we had a PMs speech and debate on bombing ISIS / IS.
The vote was: 524 in favour, 43 against. A majority of 481.
Since Saturday the Royal air force has been flying over Iraq fully armed and ready to drop bombs or fire missiles at IS forces. So far they have not done so because of the problems they have with identifying targets.
The desire to target IS and not the civilians around them is a significant problem in Iraq, less so in Syria. But the RAF are not (yet) flying in Syria so what is the problem.
I refer to ISIS / IS sometimes as ISIS which is the amalgamation or Terror, insurgency and guerrilla groups and IS the Islamic State. People have argued that IS is not a state or not Islamic, I’m not going to cover the nonsense of denying the Islamic identity here. Instead I am looking at its identity as a state.
IS now covers an area larger than the UK, they have an economy that puts them towards the bottom of the list but not at the bottom and there are a number of small nations that are considered states with far smaller areas or economies.
But one point which has been made now by several people is that they don’t have a capital or any of the things a state should have, like a parliament.
Walk around London and see the palaces, the halls, all of the magnificent history written in stone and brick.
While you are there visit the tower of London, a thousand years of power and might stamped into the landscape.
London is a great and powerful city, the capital of a great powerful nation. It exudes age and majesty, it says the UK is worthy or respect because we have done all of this, can do all of this and have been doing it for centuries.
But then Britain has been throwing its weight around the world for centuries and London is the legacy of Empire, wealth and power. Paris, Rome, Madrid, these also lay claim to centuries of history and have the magnificent old buildings to support that claim.
Our ancestors were born into a country where London was the capital and everything was based there. It’s where the government is and always has been and these days it’s where the biggest share of resources and spending ends up.
As a nation and in fact across the entire traditional and historic west we have problems with the very idea that things should not be concentrated in a great Capital city, look at how much trouble the mobile office technology has being accepted and try to scale that up to the level of regional or national governments.
This gives an enemy a long list of clear targets that are unquestionably associated with the British government and leadership.
Across Africa, the Middle East and the Far East people are using the technology of this century to run business and organisations with smart phones and tablets that don’t need fixed offices. Here in the west as a society we are slowly adapting to mobile technology in business and not at all in government, our traditional western views are leaving us far behind in terms of distributed business and government.
But the Islamic State is not a traditional western power, it does not have the traditional mindset of the west, in fact it is an amalgamation of insurgent groups and people who are well versed in asymmetric warfare, they have no need for historic buildings and in fact spend a deal of time destroying any historic buildings that do not fit with their interpretation of history and scripture.
Here in the UK with our hundreds of years of tradition and bloated governmental bureaucracy we have 650 MPs and yet apart from very rare or ceremonial events you never see more than 10% in parliament. Bombing the houses of parliament most of the time will have a minor impact on British government.
For IS which has an organisational structure based around insurgent groups and tribal councils they have no real need for great halls and chambers to meet in. They can hold a council meeting in a coffee shop or mosque anywhere in one of the cities they control. This makes bombing the focal points of the IS government very hard, the only ones they have are generally only there because they are aping traditional government structures or are meeting points for civilians and therefore likely to bring high numbers of civilian casualties.
With smart phones and tablets and distributed computing it is entirely possible to control an organisation or even a nation without the fixed infrastructure that we in the west are pre conditioned to consider necessary. We westerners have done government and bureaucracy the same way for hundreds of years, technology is only slowly beginning to make changes.
But for people who do not have the same traditional handicap towards what a state could be and can be things can be very different. Want to hold a meeting, why be in the same room unless you want to be doing that old fashioned shaking hands and sharing coffee stuff.
Smart phones and tablets with encrypted communications software, video packages like Skype and conference calls means that you can hold those meeting from anywhere in a country or several countries. The computer servers and resources used to control and coordinate the billion dollar economy that is the Islamic State can be located anywhere in the world.
This is the 21st century, technology makes it possible for any business, organisation or government to be distributed. All it takes is the technological know how and the willingness to discard long traditions of the way things should be done. ISIS and IS have clearly demonstrated they have a grasp of technology and coming from an amalgamation of terrorist and insurgent groups they are the very opposite of traditional and hidebound when it comes to the way they do things.
So what do you bomb?
The Islamic State in Syria has been suffering steady attacks by the US against identified fixed facilities and buildings. The oil wells and refineries have been attracting particular attention in an attempt to cut down on the millions of dollars a day the Islamic State makes from selling oil. Other buildings known to be used by IS have also been destroyed.
Front line defences, vehicles, tanks and the like which are out in the open have also been attacked but this in Syria and the West is less concerned about the risk of collateral damage, after all the same aircraft that are flying over Syria and bombing IS were ready to fly over Syria and bomb Assad not so long ago.
Iraq on the other hand is a far more difficult problem. While IS control and exploits some 40% of Iraq’s oil production and refining facilities the Iraqi government wants them back rather than blown to bits. It would take years to rebuild and cost more money that the weakened Iraqi state has to spend. So they have asked the west NOT to destroy the oil facilities.
What does that leave? To be honest not a lot. IS forces in the Sunni north of Iraq are based in towns and villages that are inhabited by Sunni locals, some forced to support IS, others doing so willingly. Apart from front line villages that are regularly fought over where the civilians have long since fled any buildings used by IS also tend to have civilians in them or around them.
In terms of vehicles and groups of people away from the towns, again it is a problem of identification. A fighter pilot or ground spotter that see’s a column of pickups filled with masked men in black pyjamas with machine guns and IS flags is a clear target, half a dozen men in the back of a truck full of boxes could be an IS supply unit, reinforcements going to the front lines or some locals taking their goods to the closest market.
The time when the US could simply fly over the battlefield and blow up anything not a US vehicle are long gone. The Iraqi army, the Shia militias and the Peshmerga lack the modern electrical systems used to identify friend or foe to modern fighters. IS captured large numbers of western vehicles and equipment, someone driving a Humvee in an area that may be IS or Iraqi or Kurdish today could be friendly or an enemy.
IS also have captured Russian or soviet era tanks and armoured vehicles, the same as are used by the Kurds and the Iraqi army. Again to a fighter pilot racing over the area at speed to avoid ground attacks is that tank an IS one advancing or withdrawing or a Kurdish one advancing or withdrawing? Take away the flags above and which one is the enemy and which one is an ally?
So British aircraft are taking off, flying across the designated target areas and waiting for someone to spot something they can attack. But IS are not stupid, or at least the people behind them are not stupid. They are already changing the way they operate and developing counter measures against air strikes.
All of these means that bombing will not work, the whole Degrade and Destroy thing is a good sound bite but cannot be done from the air. In fact the very way in which the bombing is not working acts to improve the reputation of IS and ISIS, they can and indeed are using the fact that the infamous US shock and awe bombing campaigns that crushed Sadam are not working on them.
But pictures of aircraft in the skies makes it look as if the west is doing something to counter the problem. Cameron’s claim of a generational war against IS and whoever replaces them and whoever replaces the ones that come next will involve bombs and missiles being fired every so often against the occasional target.
Using technology and techniques designed to fight traditional enemies will not work against IS, our leaders need to start thinking about other ways of doing the job.
To do the job requires a short term and a long term solution. The short term is military, the long term one is social and economic and political. Three areas that the west has proved singularly inept at organising in the Middle East.
Without troops on the ground who can identify the enemy all the bombs in the world will do nothing except strengthen the IS cause. The west has had enough of its young men being maimed and killed in some dusty hell hole, Britain has had its armed forces somewhere shooting at and being shot at for the last 100 years.
But what is the alternative. Half the Iraqi army is considered to be completely incapable of combat and most of the rest is questionable. All of those men trained and equipped at vast expense by the US and UK, the number considered to be capable of full scale combat operations to a western standard is a handful. Syria, Jordan, the Lebanon, can they do the job. No they can’t. Saudi Arabia with a larger and more powerful military than the UK, not willing to do the job and outside of the prestige units of the Saudi army most of them are as questionable as the Iraqis.
The Shia militias that are being raised in great numbers, they are looking to fight a holy war, Shia against Sunni, they will be as bad as ISIS. The Kurdish forces are one of the few that is actually fighting IS to a standstill but they can hardly drive IS out of the entire north of Iraq alone.
About the only serious military with the numbers is Egypt, a nation that does not seem to have been involved in the anti IS alliance.
Thanks to deliberate provocation there is a clear consensus in the west that ISIS / IS must be attacked and destroyed. All of our technology and air power is useless against an invisible enemy and the terrorists and insurgents in Syria and Iraq are the sons and grandsons of the men who hid from Russian bombs in Afghanistan decades ago. They have learned their tradecraft during wars where those who failed to learn died and they are very good at what they do. Aircraft and drones cannot kill an enemy they cannot find.
So the west is trapped, the demand to act against the impossibility of acting.
We can bomb and shell and missile for years and achieve nothing. To win in the short term it will take ground forces which means local troops and that brings the prospect of creating new problems in a few years time.
After all you cannot bomb an enemy you cannot see.
Does Putin look happy in this picture meeting with Poroshenko. Not surprising given that Putin has basically won everything he wanted in this round.
To take a break from the coverage of Scottish independence lets go a little further abroad to another ongoing independence campaign that is well on the way to success.
Despite frantic efforts on the part of Kiev to get the EU and NATO to save them from the rampaging Russian beast no one was willing to directly help. So faced with a resurgent independence army or armies along with Russian troops now doing to the Ukraine what the US/UK/NATO have been doing to others for years Kiev has now waved the white flag and surrendered.
The two primary independence regions, Lugansk and Donetsk have been granted greater autonomy in many fields as the new semi autonomous region of Donbas (Donetsk Basin).
This is what I was expecting, the areas that were actively separatist being granted a significant degree of autonomy and devolution of power.
Kiev accepting that this area was no longer under their control and unable to do anything to regain control over this area due to the the Russians having involved themselves directly in a major way for the first time.
I was expecting Russia to want some sort of land access to the Crimea with its Russian population and more importantly the Russian Naval and military bases and facilities along with Russia's only fleet access to the Black Sea and from there to the Mediterranean.
What the separatists have actually gained is this.
The entire Lugansk and Donetsk regions, collectively called Donbas.
This is vastly more than the area controlled by the separatists at any point during this civil war and includes large areas that were never involved in the fighting.
This region includes a population of roughly 7 million people out of the entire Ukrainian population of 45 million. That is 15% of the entire population, a far bigger split than Scotland.
No land connection to the Crimea peninsula. YET.
But this is just the first bite. and its a big one. imagine what the next bite is going to look like.
Demographically the Donblas is predominantly Russian speakers as showed above. All three of the dark blue regions are now autonomous or as good as such and all but allied to Russia. How long before the mid blue regions come under Putin's eye?
What does this agreement actually mean:
Lugansk and Donetsk regions granted "special status", giving them broad autonomy and increased local powers. Treaty stipulates a three-year period.
So autonomy, significant self rule but remaining part of a larger Ukraine. Pretty much the Crimean deal then. Oh and three year limit, just how exactly does anyone think Kiev is going to take back these powers in three years given the whole deal is because the separatists with Russian backing were winning the civil war.
Regional councils will have the power to appoint local judges and prosecutors.
Yet more autonomous powers, the separatists could do this anyway in the areas they controlled but this now covers the entire Donbas region.
Russian language use guaranteed in regional institutions.
Again given that the regions in question are heavily Russian speaking and now all but autonomous this is a nothing promise to the winners.
Local authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk can "strengthen good neighbourly relations" with their counterparts across the border in Russia.
This one is a biggy and basically recognises the de facto situation on the ground. The borders between the separatist regions and Russia have not been under Kiev control since the civil war started. "Strengthen good neighbourly relations" means what, open borders and Russian military units securing the separatist regions as they are doing right now.
This one all but declares that these regions are now no longer under Kiev control and there is nothing Kiev can do about it.
Amnesty protects from criminal prosecution "participants of events in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions"
No investigation or prosecution for war crimes or attacks on civilians on either side. This lets both sides off the hook given the reports that both sides have been committing brutal attacks on the other and on civilians. In particular Kiev has been bombing civilian areas with regular and inaccurate attacks.
This also means any Russians who were over the border in the Ukraine illegally as it refers to ‘Participants’, a broad term that covers everyone involved. Given that this was signed by Ukraine and the separatists and Russia it will make any action by the EU or international legal bodies against Russia very difficult.
Now the good news for Putin and the bad news for the Ukraine and the EU.
Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk) between then represent 15% of the Ukraine’s entire population. Add in the over 2 million from the Crimea and 20% of the population of the Ukraine is now effectively autonomous from Kiev and allied to Russia.
Even worse than the population numbers is the economics.
This deal includes the port of Mariupol which was surrounded by Separatists but not captured. This is the largest port in the Azov sea and one of only four major Ukrainian ports, combined with the Crimea this gives Russia significant naval and civilian access to the black sea and to the Mediterranean and beyond while reducing Ukrainian port space by a significant amount.
The Donbas region combined with the Crimea contains roughly half of all coal, iron and steel. Aluminium, chemicals, oil and salt come from this region. Over half of the gas in the Ukraine is under this region, most of the Ukraine’s oil is produced in these regions.
A significant majority of light and heavy industry, three quarters of the Ukraine’s military production in terms of completed units or parts comes from Donbas. Russia is dependent on exports from this region for a large part of its military build ups.
At least half the resources, 75% of the heavy industry, 25% of the total GDP. That’s a big chunk of value and given the example of the Crimea there will be elections followed by a parliamentary vote for closer ties to mother Russia.
A year from now if the entire Donbas is all but Russia all of those EU sanctions will have been nothing more than pin pricks against the vast wealth and resources that Russia gains.
The remainder of the Ukraine and the remaining population have lost most of their heavy industry, most of their non agricultural exports, as much as 25% of the nations GDP and there is no guarantee that this will be the last they lose.
The nation that remains under Kiev is far less economically capable that it was a few months ago when it went cap in hand to the IMF and the EU for money to keep the government afloat. Giving the Remains of the Ukraine EU membership will create a money pit that will draw in hundreds of billions of Euros over the years and bring very little in return.
Poroshenko’s headlong charge for closer EU integration is not to create a market for Ukrainian exports, he doesn't have much to offer. Instead it is a desperate plea for a lifeline, to keep what remains of his nation solvent and to protect him from Putin coming back next year and taking another bite out of the south and east of the country. That land corridor to the Crimea that I was expecting, that will be most of the south gone simply because Kiev has demonstrated that it cannot resist and will give Putin whatever he wants.
Like any bully Putin will be back for more and like any helpless victim Kiev will crawl to any hope of safety no matter how humiliating.
The West did nothing, could do nothing and so Putin has fed well. When he gets hungry he will be back and there will still be nothing the west can do to stop him.
Reports are in the news today of an attack launched by the separatists in the South Eastern Ukraine. They are reported to have taken the town of Novoazovsk and to either be attacking or to have captured the port city of Mariupol. They are also reported to be controlling a swath of land from the coast inland and may in fact now control much of the South east of the Donetsk region.
Kiev loyalist forces are reported to have run away, that is withdrawn, when they came under attack leaving the separatists to take over the area. This region has, prior to now, been spared much of the fighting as Kiev has been concentrating its attacks on the main separatist areas and the cities to the north.
If they have taken the port the separatists will be about a quarter of the way towards establishing a land link between the Crimea and Russia which would allow then to then push north and break the siege of Donetsk at the same time as giving Putin a much needed land supply route to the Crimea.
Kiev is today screaming that they are facing a full blown invasion. Given that the Kiev regime have been screaming this for weeks and have failed to provide a shred of proof I will wait till we have some evidence but if it hasn't happened yet it will soon.
Kiev and by extension the EU are deliberately provoking this situation, on the day that the Kiev and Russian leaders met to discuss ending the fighting Kiev was busy bombing civilian areas in the separatist region. Pictures of destroyed schools and houses may not be filling our front pages but you can bet Russian speaking school children having their schools destroyed by Kiev IS making the front pages across the borders.
Rather than acting to defuse the situation this is in fact making a full blown intervention by Russia more likely, we are looking at a multinational war and one that could very quickly become a NATO / Russia one as our tanks face their tanks across the polish border.
Are Russian military units directly involved now, I don’t know. I will wait for evidence and frankly one picture of a T72 model that has not been exported outside of Russia is not proof, a few regiments of such tanks is clear proof but by then it will be too late
The separatists have been heavily reinforced, fresh and rested troops, new volunteers trained over the border or close to the border in separatist areas. The force that is rolling up the coast almost certainly was hiding somewhere on or over the Russia border. But as to a full blown deployment of Russia, that hasn’t happened yet. But it will happen and probably soon.
The Russians say they have not officially sent troops may well be right, a serious Russian intervention would be a few divisions and Kiev would not be screaming, they would be on the first flight to Europe with suitcases full of cash.
Is this the same sort of situation as Obama and Cameron saying their are no boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria because special forces don't count?
The separatists say it is large numbers of volunteers who arrived with some equipment or vehicles, in the west this would be unlikely but Russia with its long history of conscription has millions of ex soldiers and given the reputation the Russia army has for, ahem, misplacing military equipment that ends up being sold elsewhere, the fact that the closest Russian forces may have let a few armoured vehicles wander off is fairly likely.
Or this may be a limited operation by Putin to outflank the ring of Kiev forces closing in on the separatists with a mechanized regiment or a reinforced battalion sized force supporting the separatists, or a land grab to establish a road to the Crimea, or it may just be a whole load of soldiers who are fed up of standing by while they receive daily reports of Russian citizens being bombed and shelled and shot.
What is it Israel calls it when they launch attacks against rebels and hit schools or hospitals instead, oh yes, precision attacks. Well Kiev seems to be using a lot of them but while Gaza was all over our media the cities in the east seem to be ignored.
Is it any wonder that ethnic Russians are flocking to fight with the separatists when what they see as Ethnic cleansing is going on.
The thing is that as Kiev and the West continue to launch attacks on the civilian population of the Russian speaking east and continue to launch what the Russia people are told are unwarranted attacks on the Russian economy the pressure on Putin to act grows and grows.
Not in the form of force but in a way that he is more affected by. His reputation and image as hard man and forceful leader will be questioned if he stands back and does nothing for much longer.
All it will take is a trigger event; pictures of the bodies of dead Russian children being carried out of a school destroyed by Kiev will do it.
At that point Putin's own propaganda will have reached the point where the demands for action will become self sustaining and Putin will either have to run to keep up with the tide of opinion OR hold back and risk his reputation and therefore weaken his control a little. I don’t see him thinking too long over that one given that he already has what amounts to several mechanised divisions close enough to the border with Ukraine to be rolling in hours.
I can see this, I doubt that NATO and the leaders of the west cannot see the same and yet they keep pushing, keep provoking. They keep prodding the bear in its cave.
The EU could stop much of the fighting overnight by pulling back the Kiev army and stopping the bombardment of civilian areas, cities, schools and people’s homes. Right now the Kiev government is being paid for by multibillion Dollar / Euro loans. Want to stop the fighting, threaten to shut down the country by stopping the money. Force the Kiev army back into defensive mode and then try that old thing called diplomacy again.
If the separatists attack the Kiev forces then there is fighting but pulling back and stopping the shelling and the bombing and stopping the huge refugee crisis from growing in size and area while at least trying to talk cannot be a bad thing.
Instead I am seeing reports now that NATO is planning for and calling for the finances to set up large high capacity military bases in the east to ‘allow force projection into the affected area to enable a robust response to Russian expansionism’.
In English that means bases in the east of Poland that would place the entirety of the Ukraine right up to the Russian border in range of NATO military strikes. I can just see that one helping to defuse the situation in Russia
Putin is still winning this, in many ways his position is being made stronger by the fact that he is almost single handily standing against the Western World’s assault on Russia and its people.
The Ukraine as the birthplace of the Rus people has a strong historic and cultural image to the ethnic Russian population, by repeatedly attacking that region, by threatening it and by directly attacking the Russian economy and by extension the Russia people for daring to object to a civil war in that area the west is strengthening anti western feeling.
Putin’s hold on power is being made stronger because his people see him as standing against the threat of the west and NATO. Once again we see the rallying cries of the last century, ‘The Russians Are Coming’ and ‘The Fascists Are Coming’. Each side moving its military and economic power in response to the other side’s movements that are in response to the last movement by the first side.
A self sustaining spiral that leads to inevitable direct confrontation.
Putin is a power hungry Tyrannical show off and no friend of democracy or human rights, but the sad thing in this situation is that he is NOT the worst bad guy in this whole situation.
How sad is that. Men women and children are dying and just like British politics we are reduced to deciding who is the least guilty of the death and destruction. Take a bow Obama and the EU, you are as guilty or more guilty of this and yet you continue to throw petrol on the raging fire that is the Ukrainian civil war.
Just who exactly is trying to stop the fighting, I mean really doing everything the can to bring peace, not sound bites, not empty gestures, who is actually using their every resource to stop the fighting.
I cannot see anyone on either side.
It does not matter who wins this civil war. The damage has been done. The hatred will last for a generation or more. It will not matter that the separatist movement started it, the Kiev government has spent weeks bombing their own people and their own cities.
The fallout from this will make the sectarian hatred in somewhere like Northern Ireland look like an argument over the cakes at a teddy bear picnic.
You cannot roll over your own people and bomb your own cities and expect people to forgive and forget. This is a full blown civil war and the Kiev regime is doing as much as it possibly can to stoke the hatred in the region. This has long since turned into a Russian speaking verses western leaning war and as they work to marginalise anyone who fits into the other camp they simply stoke the fires of anger and make response from across the border more likely.
Hello children, sorry we blew up your school when we bombed your city and made you all homeless and hungry. But don’t worry, those nice people at the IMF and the EU have provided money so we can rebuild your school and homes and all they want in return is to be repaid with interest, oh and control of our economy, the overthrow of our democratic process as they assign us leaders rather than let us vote for them, oh and they want our gas at a very reasonable price drilled up by Eu companies and no environmental objections from us.
Are we not lucky to have such good friends owning our country now.
This is not going to be easily forgotten by those on either side, the fact that pro western Militias from the western Ukraine are fighting the pro Russian forces in the east of that ex nation simply makes the whole situation worse. Such bloody hatred is not forgotten or forgiven overnight or even over a few years.
Is Kiev going to maintain order in the Russian speaking east as a police state for the next few decades, are we going to see a new terrorist campaign begin as people find themselves part of a nation that beat them in a civil war and now rules them.
Violence will not end the fighting, at best it will create the hatred and fear and anger that will erupt again in a year or two as the region again rises against the Tyrannts who bombed their cities. At worst it will continue to escalate until the whole of Europe is involved.
Is there anyone trying to stop this before it escalates to the point where it cannot be stopped?
Yesterday Putin apparently got fed up with all the delays and pointlessly petty prevarication. He ordered the white trucks to roll and they did. Into the Ukraine. Over the last twelve hours there has been a chorus of condemnation.
Kiev has been screaming it’s an invasion. The US has been condemning it and making threats.
These are some of the comments being made:
The U.S. called a "flagrant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty."
Ukraine alleged that the trucks were actually carrying weapons for the Moscow-allied rebels and said it was under "direct invasion."
Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser, told reporters in Washington that the "humanitarian" convoy was illegal because it was sent without the approval of Kiev and in violation of agreements that the International Committee of the Red Cross had to be involved in the delivery of any humanitarian assistance. "The ICRC is not part of this delivery. The government of Ukraine did not give agreement for this convoy to move within their borders." NATO's secretary-general condemned Russia for sending in a "so-called humanitarian convoy." Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia committed "a blatant breach" of its international commitments and "a further violation of Ukraine's sovereignty."
Funny thing, all these people and organisations so loudly complaining about Russia sending a convoy of food to feed people going hungry when I haven’t seen a single reported comment from any of them about that fact that tens of thousands of people are homeless and hungry because of attacks by Kiev.
Funny thing, all these people and organisations so loudly complaining about Russia violating the Ukrainian border (which Kiev doesn’t even control) when the US is now declaring that it no longer recognises the Iraq / Syria border and that it will freely launch attacks against ISIS in Syria.
Funny thing, all these people and organisations so loudly complaining about Russia blatantly violating international law. Is it not against international law to boom, rocket and shell people’s homes, to make them refugees and to drive them away from fighting to go hungry and cold?
Funny thing, all these people and organisations so loudly complaining about Russia sending food and water and baby food, just how much food and water and baby food has NATO or the EU or the US sent into the region. When the west has the resources to fly Aid to the Middle East how has it failed to notice a refugee crisis in Eastern Europe?
All the comments about the convoy being packed full of weapons.
Western reporters were told they could pick any lorry they wanted and the covers would be pulled aside so they could examine the contents, Ukrainian border police have inspected the contents of the lorries. All anyone has found is food and water and medical supplies and baby food.
But still Kiev would not let them enter the country, a part of the country not even controlled by them anyway. A political fiction that Russia was politely accepting.
The Red Cross said they would not accompany the convoy unless they could guarantee its safety, something which was not possible. Exactly who is threatening the convoy and the area across which it would travel, that would be Kiev. So by refusing to let the convoy go unless it was under Red Cross control and them blocking the Red Cross from going in we have a political stalemate.
Then of course there are all the comments about the trucks being some sneaky attempt to get Russian soldiers into the country. As if Russia needs a bunch of white painted trucks to get troops into the country across a long stretch of border that Kiev does not control. After all we keep hearing Kiev and NATO say that Russia is bringing weapons and tanks across the border all the time, but so secretly that there is not a single picture. So why would Putin use big, white trucks, in front of the worlds media, to bring combat troops across the border.
Take a look at the pictures below, these are the men driving the trucks, the men that are apparently such a threat that Kiev refuses to allow the convoy to enter the country. Lean mean killers, the lot of them. Clearly Elite Special Forces at the peak of physical fitness.
Yes I am being sarcastic.
You only have to look at the drivers to see they are not anywhere near being fit and trim. I'm sure many if not all of these men are soldiers or work for some branch of the military, but they are hardly front line combat troops, they are logistics and support, they drive lorries.
Again I ask why so much fear, if Russia wanted to send troops into the Ukraine why on earth do it in white painted trucks when they can easily stroll across unobserved sections of the border at night.
Kiev has said it will not fire on the convoy, Well that's terribly decent of you chaps, most kind. Is there any possibility your newly found Humanitarian concerns could extend to not bombing and shelling people and forcing them to flee so they need that humanitarian aid in the first place?
Ben Rhodes deputy national security adviser also , told reporters, "Russia should take the opportunity to remove this convoy from within Ukraine. If they don't, they will face additional costs and consequences from the United States and our partners in the international community."
Seriously. The US is threatening more Sanctions on Russia for giving Food to people who are going hungry. Has giving clean water to the thirsty now become a crime in the eyes of the Obama administration, or is it now an American thing. Does the US now make threats to people trying to give baby food to hungry babies?
Does anyone have a shred of evidence that this is a Russian plot or trick? Has anyone found a single thing to prove all of these rumours and claims and reports? Does anyone have so much as one REAL reason why food and water should be held back from those in need?
If it were ISIS bombing these people would there be the slightest hesitation in allowing the Aid to go in. If these were French or German lorries would there be delays?
So why is it acceptable to play these bloody stupid political and propaganda games when people are suffering?
Just because it is an EU / US ally state (or servant given that western money is now paying for the Kiev government to exist) that is creating the refugees and Russia trying to feed them is no justification for people being made to suffer needlessly.
This New World of ours, it is neither Brave nor Ordered. It is just as petty and cruel and self serving as the Old World.
Just a quick post today, a bit shorter than usual as I am busy with other things.
Moving away from the events in Amerika (yes I deliberately spelt it that way) I have been looking at news from various places. Something that always occurs to me is that the news is often so very similar, differing only in who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.
The following scenario’s have taken place or are taking place in various parts of the world. What I have done is removed any reference to names, places or nationalities.
Read them through; see if you can identify which each report refers to. Notice that the wording is very similar but some of these reports are listed in our news and reported by our leaders as being good things and some are said to be bad things.
Can you tell the difference?
Notes at the bottom list what each event refers to.
1A. Unofficial and official requests for addition munitions have been received by CENSORED. Due to the tempo of the military action by CENSORED, supplies of rockets, missiles and bombs have been reduced significantly. These requests have been agreed and CENSORED has made available the requested munitions along with bringing in additional stockpiles.
1B. Unofficial and official requests for addition munitions have been received by CENSORED. As a result of military action over the last few weeks the forces of CENSORED are reporting that reserves of munitions are running low and that they lack rockets, missiles and munitions to fight the superior forces of CENSORED. These requests have already been agreed to by CENSORED and CENSORED who are both making preparations to ship in stockpiles of weapons and munitions.
1C. Unofficial and official requests for addition munitions have been received by CENSORED. Despite numerous reports that this request has been met all evidence presented so far has been disproved and CENSORED officially denies that it is meeting this request.
1D. Unofficial and official requests for addition munitions have been received by CENSORED. Losses of equipment and weapons against CENSORED have been high and they are now reporting they lack the means to continue fighting against the forces of CENSORED who have been significantly strengthen by captured and purchased weapons and equipment. CENSORED have agreed to this and are increasing production of CENSORED specifically to mean this request.
2A. CENSORED provided extensive support in the form of finances, training by covert operatives and the direct and indirect provision of weapons. In addition other nations such as CENSORED and CENSORED have been providing funding to support the forces fighting CENSORED in CENSORED.
2B. The forces involved in the fighting against CENSORED have been receiving extensive support from CENSORED along with a number of nations in CENSORED and CENSORED. This has taken the form of both direct and indirct financial aid, training, weapons and other equipment and intelligence gathered by CENSORED via CENSORED. Direct intervention against CENSORED was considered but ultimately not carried out, support for indigenous forces on the ground was not affected by CENSORED and continues.
2C. Subsequent to the overthrow of CENSORED, forces loyal to the new administration have received extensive military aid in the form of weapons and equipment by CENSORED. Training in this new equipment and general military training for soldiers has been provided by CENSORED.
2D. Subsequent to the overthrow of CENSORED, forces in opposition to the new regime have been rumoured to have been receiving weapons and training by CENSORED. Reports and evidence of this have been either disproved or have not been proved to be accurate.
3A. The aircraft, with 290 people on board including 70 children was shot down by a ground to air missile fired by CENSORED. Initially the incident was denied, subsequently it has been called a misidentification. CENSORED awarded with medals. No official apology has ever been offered though some compensation has been paid.
3B. The aircraft, with 298 people on board including 80 children was shot down with a ground to air missile. Initial blame was directed at CENSORED along with significant initial evidence which has subsequently been discredited. CENSORED are still being blamed despite the lack of any evidence to that effect and ignoring a significant volume of missing data and evidence implicating CENSORED as being the real guilty party.
4A. Attacks by CENSORED resulted in the sinking of the vessel which was struck multiple times by surface to surface and air to surface weapons. 34 members of the ship’s crew were killed in this incident. The report was blamed on a mistaken identification of the vessel and compensation has been paid by CENSORED to CENSORED. Numerous reports exist that question the official story and claim this was a deliberate attack.
4B. The attack, launched by CENSORED left the vessel significantly damage but not in danger of sinking. 17 members of the ship’s crew were killed in this incident. CENSORED has claimed responsibility for the attack, no other agency has been blamed.
1A. Israel using up stores of munitions during Gaza assault has request US make available stockpiles of bombs and missiles for use by IDF
1B. Kurds request weapons and munitions from the west in order to fight ISIS / IS, France and the UK have agreed to provide such and are now investigating ways of doing so.
1C. Ukrainian separatists fighting Kiev regime, requesting weapons and munitions from Russia to protect themselves and separatist areas from Kiev loyalist attacks.
1D. Iraq requesting additional weapons and munitions from US to fight ISIS / IS. US factory that makes Hellfire missiles now working extra shifts to meet demand for weapons to be used against ex US vehicles now in hands of ISIS / IS and against strong points and structures held by same.
2A. The Taliban fighting against Russia during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
2B. The anti Assad forces being armed, trained and equipped by the US and nations of the EU and middle east. Direct intervention was blocked by the UK parliament voting to not bomb Assad forces. Anti Assad forces as of 2012 that were recipients of this support included units that subsequently make up ISIS / IS.
2C. Post Saddam Iraq government trained and armed by US.
2D. Ukrainian separatists rumoured and reported to have 1200 soldiers trained and armed in Russia.
3A. Iranian flight IR 655 shot down by the USS Vincennes, July 3rd 1988.
3B. MH17 shot down 17th July 2014.
4A. USS Liberty sunk by aircraft and missile boats of the IDF, incident was reported to be a mistaken identity of the ship. Israeli forces reported they thought the ship was Egyptian.
4B. USS Cole incident, ship was extensively damaged by a suicide bomb carried on a speedboat. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility.
So who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?
I have been watching events in the US and noticing two trends that seems to be becoming more common in both the US and UK.
The death of a young man at the hands of the police in Ferguson was a tragic event, a life lost. A small part of that protest group formed a mob and set fire to a shop, hardly warranted and something that marks the demonstrators as no better than rioters and mindless thugs. Something which does their cause no good whatsoever.
But in response to this and in order to maintain control the police deployed in numbers, an unfortunate scheme that could have been out of the 60s as a line of white faces with helmets and clubs faced down a group of black faces who were chanting and waving placards.
The police response was interesting and something that is part of a general pattern.
Well armed SWAT team members, snipers, armoured vehicles. About the only thing missing was a water cannon but then the US goes more for tear gas and rubber bullets than we do on the mainland. Still the new Boris toys have been ordered and will be delivered soon.
But more than just the disproportionate response and the level of intimidation involved was something else, something more sinister and the point of my ramble today.
The police in Ferguson went after the reporters first. Two who were tweeting from a fast food restaurant were arrested; one was physically assaulted and according to reports slammed into a drinks machine by the police. The other was pushed into a window.
One of the reporters tweeted he was told his arrest was for trespassing, in a MacDonald’s restaurant, but in the end no charges were leveled, they were simply harassed and intimidated to stop them reporting.
Another film crew seem to have been the deliberate target of a tear gas attack by the police, forcing them to flee leaving their camera and tripod behind.
There were no demonstrators anywhere near this film crew, no one apart from the reporter and the film crew, yet they had a tear gas grenade fired at them.
Also once they had fled the police arrived and took down their cameras, notice the office at the back, taking aim at the fleeing reporters. He is deliberately taking aim at accredited and identified reporters and film crew who are running away from a tear gas cloud.
We see this in many nations, we saw this in Gezi park and in Independence Square and in Tahrir Square, we see this in Russia and Syrria and China and in a score of other nations that are rightly condemned as having appalling human rights, limited freedoms and being police states.
Watching it in the US, well you have to wonder where things changed.
Now here in the UK we are no strangers to ‘Official’ attempts to shut down free speech and to prevent the reporting of news. As much as we like to think our press is free we still have incidents of security forces using warrants to enter a newspapers offices and destroy data, we have Hacked Off and the ‘Official’ inquires trying hard to restrict what the press can say, we have the Coalitions ever ongoing censorship efforts and we have the recent ruling on Google and digital access to information by search engines (how is that working out by the way).
But this is the big picture, not the local situation.
People are fascinating, we are complex, both cooperative and isolationist, we know right from wrong but then in many cases deliberately destroy our own ability to recognise it, we are inherently peaceful and violent, loving and hating, we are different every day and in every situation.
But something that never seems to change, something that is perhaps a holdover from our childhoods, we don’t like being caught misbehaving. The child with cookie crumbs on his tee shirt denies eating the last cookie, the little boy standing by the paddling pool denying he just pushed his sister in, did you do this, did you do that. No Dad, wasn’t me.
As Adults we all seem to retain this same instinct to be evasive, to hide what we do if we feel that others will object. Even when we may think what we are doing is right we may seek to hide what we do if we know others will not like it.
I don’t see this as being a logical and considered action; it seems far more an instinctive, knee jerk sort of thing.
We live in the 21st century, yes I know I keep saying this but so very many people don’t seem to have noticed. We live in the information age. 75% and more of our population from two year olds to centenarians have mobile phones that can take pictures and video.
The selfie has apparently become an addiction, from the people in the streets to world leaders, it’s a selfie here and a selfie there. Smart phone photo albums, pictures of everything from food to going to the toilet.
Even taking a selfie of that blonde you were sitting next to with your mate Dave. Though the wife wasn't happy with that one.
People take pictures of everything they see that is interesting or unusual. Which invariably includes the police doing something. A crash, a raid, a few officers standing around looking intimidating. The riot squad forming up, police cars racing by with sirens on. Something interesting, something worth taking a picture of.
Yet many of our police react negatively to this, we have had many many reports of people standing in their own homes or gardens ordered to stop filming the police doing something.
Take a picture in the streets of London and you may get stopped by the police because you are breaking some security regulation.
We are surrounded by CCTVs and security cameras, we have no control what so ever about our actions in public being watched and recorded. There is a growing use by the police of body cams, go pro type cameras that can record the activities of the public who are facing the police, this is apparently having a positive effect.
But why are so many of our police still unhappy with us filming them?
In Ferguson the police went after the reporters, they dropped tear gas on a film crew who were standing alone, nowhere near the demonstrators. They ordered others to turn off their cameras. Reporters were (and still maybe) harassed, arrested then released later without charges, they were intimidated and prevented from reporting events.
In the UK it is not this bad, with official reporters and journalists anyway. Though often they are provided with allocated areas to which they must adhere, ‘For their own safety’ or some other such reason. But the public, that is a different case.
An official policy statement by the Metropolitan police on the subject:
"Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel"
Section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000 states that says police officers can stop you filming them if they believe the video will be used for the purposes of terrorism. Hardly applicable to a car crash or an arrest or the police knocking on your door or even a riot.
Yet Police and security guards still continue to order the public or reports to stop filming or to leave the area, I can see keeping a crime scene clear but shouting at people on the other side of the road to stop filming is clearly unwarranted.
So why do our police, so frequently, try to stop people filming them. Why do so many of our police object to being filmed, object to having their actions recorded?
I don’t think it’s an official policy, though with this government it’s a bit hard to tell. Our democratic oversight with regard to the security services and police is often slow and lacking but it does still exist (in theory).
So why do our police not like being filmed?
Personally I think it goes back to those children misbehaving. They know it’s something people don’t like so they deny doing it.
As adults, in uniform, they have considerable power. They may not consider what they are doing to be wrong but inside, deep down, they seem to know that what they are doing is considered wrong by society at large.
Like those little children they need to deny doing anything bad, but in the adult word, in the 21st century, that means not being filmed doing it. So instead of little children telling fibs we have adults trying to stop the cameras.
So avoid the reporters, take away the mobiles that are filming them, stop the crowd from taking pictures, order them to move away or leave the area. Harass the picture takers. If there are no pictures there is no evidence and if there is no evidence it didn’t happen. Stop the pictures and you can do what you will, no evidence, no repercussions.
In short, they are acting guilty and trying to cover up that fact by not being filmed. It doesn’t matter what they think they are, or are not, guilty of. The simple fact that they don’t want to be recording doing it gives them away.
When you combine this deliberate attempt to prevent any recording of the situation with the general level of military armament and equipment being displayed you have to start wondering what is going to happen next.
When the police, who are supposed to protect us, start feeling the need to hide what they are doing then are they crossing the line between protecting us and controlling us?
When those who watch over us, will not permit us to watch over them it is natural to be suspicious or fearful and it is natural to avoid or hide from that which we fear.
When our police become an object of fear they cease to be our protectors and instead become just another tool of repression and control.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Smile officer, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.
The most recent stage of the ongoing propaganda attack against Russia is getting laid on a bit thick today.
Less than 300 trucks are creating a lot of ruckus all over the news.
The Russians say they have put together an aid convoy to help the people in the cities of Donetsk region, in particular Luhansk, that have suffered air raids and artillery attacks by the Kiev forces (that somehow keep not making the news, funny that).
Thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting (didn't Kiev promise a cease fire or six). In steps Russia claiming they are sending aid, food, blankets and all sorts of other stuff that is in desperate need by those driven out of their homes by the fighting.
You would think this was an invasion and the trucks were carrying tanks and an infantry division to listen to the news reporting that is going on. The Russians have released the following to explain what is in the convoy.
What I am seeing in the papers and mainstream media web sites and hearing on the news channels seems to be the following.
They are army trucks painted white:
There are nearly 300 of them, it was probably a lot faster and cheaper for the Russian government to use army trucks than rent an entire fleet of commercial Lorries, what with the Russian economy being under attack right now.
They are being driven by Russian soldiers:
Hello, army trucks!
They are being escorted by the Russian army, its a military convoy.
Hello, did you miss the whole army trucks, army drivers bit. Trucks, generators, fuel, 54 tons of medical supplies, 1500 tons of food and water. This is a significant financial effort, I know I would put guards on it to stop any of it getting lost since its probably not insured.
It’s all a trick by the Russians to solicit support in the area by providing aid.
Really. Would the same apply to the US and UK dropping water and food and tents and medical supplies to the refugees stuck on Sinjar mountain.
This one has more than a grain of truth to it though. The Kiev regime is creating many of the refugees who are in need of help, and failing to provide any such help. So by sending such a convoy Russia is showing that it cares where the official government of the Ukraine does not and as Kiev refuses the convoy permission to cross the border we see who is concerned about the suffering of the refugees and who doesn't.
This is a lose lose situation for Kiev which is only getting worse because they continue to refuse to allow aid to be delivered.
The contents are not aid, it is weapons for the rebels:
Has anyone bothered to look? The original plan as I understood it was to take them to the border and transfer them to red cross trucks but the red cross don't have enough trucks. At this transfer the loads would be inspected, but given that the trucks are canvas sided how hard is it for the Red Cross to, I don't know, maybe pull the canvas aside and look.
Also exactly how hard is it to wander across the border, the Ukrainians keep complaining hordes of Russian soldiers, tanks and missiles have made the trip without anyone managing a single photo. If its that easy why send white painted trucks to invade when tanks can do the invading without anyone noticing until it’s too late.
In an effort to trick people the Russians even allowed some reporters to film some of the trucks being loaded.
Clearly all part of a dastardly plot to fool the peace loving West into allowing the convoy to cross the border.
Oh wait, they can anyway since the separatists control a long section of the border.
The convoy is in Russia, having been told it will not be allowed to enter the Ukraine, ever, under any circumstances, go away, we don't want your stinking aid. But having been refused permission to cross a section of the border controlled by Kiev it has now diverted south and west heading for a long section of the border controlled by Pro Russian separatists.
Despite the shouting there is absolutely nothing Kiev can do to stop the convoy except sending in its air force or trying to launch a ground attack with fast moving armoured vehicles. Given that these lorries are driven by Russian soldiers and the reports that they contain nothing but food, water and medical supplies doing so would be an act of utter stupidity by Kiev.
Which doesn't mean it will not happen, this whole situation is simply the latest round way in which the political and propaganda areas of this cold war are being fought and the more the sabres are rattled the greater the likelihood grows that some one will fire that fateful shot.
So what do I think is going on.
I think this is exactly what it has been described as, a massive good will effort by the Russians to support the Pro Russia peoples of the Eastern Ukraine. Putin has, so far, done nothing stupid with regard to this situation.
He has absolutely no need to send weapons across the border in this way, simply by sending food and aid he can achieve a significant effect.
After all if he wanted to send tanks and missiles and the odd few divisions of soldiers he can simply cross the border where it is controlled by the separatists, he has no need what so ever to sneak weapons across the border, he has no need to paint lorries white as a trick.
In the mean time, will the western media and governments are scoring points and pushing their side, people are going hungry, suffering and dying as a civil war drives them from their homes.
Putin and Russia win this just be sending food, they will be seen to be helping, they will be seen to be the concerned people, they are the ones providing humanitarian support. Which is exactly why we are seeing so much anti Russian propaganda about this convoy. Without having the slightest evidence that there is any problem the white trucks are a threat because they are Russian.
If the convoy makes it across the border and starts to unload 1,800 tons of aid I expect that the story will suddenly vanish from our news. While we are seeing endless repeats of water being unloaded in Iraq I have a strong suspicion that we will not be seeing any images of water and baby food being unloaded from the white trucks.
Because to show that it is simply an aid convoy and not weapons would be a propaganda failure for the west, so it will be forgotten as quickly as the stories about Russians shooting down MH17 vanished when the evidence was proved to be fake.
The Kiev forces either cannot or will not send aid, the EU doesn't seem bothered by the refugee crisis in the eastern Ukraine, certainly not when compared with the significant concern and efforts underway to drop aid to people in far away Iraq.
So what exactly is the difference between aiding the refugees in Iraq who have been driven from their homes by ISIS and aiding the refugees in the Ukraine who have been driven from their homes by Kiev?
Oh yes. ISIS are the bad guys, Kiev is an EU ally.
Over the last few days the news was full of the advance of the ISIS / IS, its fighters had pushed east and overrun a number of towns towards the eastern part of Iraq and closer to the Kurdish region.
The Kurdish army, the Peshmoga, has been pushed back by a combination of being spread across too large and area and being significantly out gunned by ISIS whose troops are armed with modern weapons and vehicles taken from Assad’s armouries or from fleeing Iraqi army units.
The towns were left defenceless and with ISIS advancing toward them the inhabitants fled.
The horror stories of what is happening in this region are widespread, ISIS / IS forces have not only been reported as committing atrocities but widely boast of it. Putting out their own videos and pictures of beheadings, mutilations and mass executions. Anyone who fails to convert must flee of suffer torture and death.
Google for sites which show the images, I’m not putting them here.
These Islamic fanatics have been systematically driving off or wiping out anyone who does not follow their own extreme version of Islam, this has led them to forcibly converting or brutally mistreating those who follow the Shia version of their shared faith.
For non Muslims it is convert or die, Christians have a third option which is to pay a traditional tax to allow them to continue to follow their faith but as has been demonstrated time and again paying this tax which is often set ruinously high is no guarantee of protection.
Until this week the vast majority of the victims of ISIS barbarity have been other Muslims, Christians have had their houses marked to identify them but the largely Christian towns had not yet been attacked. Christians had been attacked and killed but not in large numbers.
The Iraqi government sits to the south, now mostly defended by Shia volunteers and what remains of its own army that has not fled. These forces are willing to fight to protect Shia lands and towns but not those other religions and show no willingness to push the forces of ISIS back.
News of these events barely makes the news, generally nothing more than brief mentions in the breaks in the constant coverage of the Pistoriuos trial.
With this recent attack and advance ISIS has not just been forcing out Christians but also a minority called Yazidis who following an interesting mix of faiths involving Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism.
An attempt by the one Yazidi MP in the Iraqi parliament to secure help for the region met with little more than an embarrassed silence as Shia MPs and leaders who have been doing nothing to protect the bulk of the country looked away.
For weeks now these attacks have been ongoing. ISIS or as it now calls itself the Islamic State has expanded to control or threaten a vast area of the Middle East. The death toll has mounted steadily and apart from a steady drip of news nothing else has been going on.
The US has been building Hellfire missiles for the Iraqi armed forces in an attempt to give them a chance to deal with all of the Russian and American armoured vehicles the Islamic State current has. The wording of these reports has changed this week, they are now talking about providing these missiles to both the Iraqi government AND the Kurds.
Still we have had repeated refusals to get involved, Obama agreed to sent 275 special forces soldiers and advisers but that was it, time and again we were told there would be no boots on the ground and no military action.
Hundreds of thousands of deaths and the West has done no more than tut as they read the morning news over their cornflakes.
Now suddenly we have the US navy launching carrier born fighters to bomb IS positions and vehicles, we have transport aircraft air dropping supplies to the refugees that have been driven out by the relentless advance of the fanatics and barbarians of the Islamic State.
The word Genocide is suddenly being used and with that as justification aid is being mustered, bombs are falling and resources are being made available.
As welcome as this aid and support is, I find myself asking, Why Now?
What is different this time. After all there are millions of refugees all across the Middle East, fleeing the steady expansion of the chaos, death and destruction that seems to flow from the West’s interventions in the region.
Millions who have fled their own countries or who are now refugees within their own countries, millions from Libya, Syria, Iraq to name but a few. Aid agencies have been struggling to deal with the numbers, nations like Jordan now find a significant portion of the people inside their borders are refugees.
Looking further afield the death toll across Africa has run to many millions over the last few years but aside from special forces units and the French the apparent view of the West is that it’s just Africa and not something to be concerned about.
So what has changed.
Stories and pictures of Yazidi refugees fleeing to the nearby mountains and hills where they face death from thirst and hunger instead of staying to be tortured, mutilated and murdered by the forces of the Islamic State have been in the news for several days. Mostly hidden behind the Pistorious trial but if you looked hard enough you could find them.
So unless it has taken several days for the news to sink in it probably isn’t that.
What could possibly have created this sudden change of heart and created a response now that has been absent for months.
Could it possibly be the fact that a series of Christian towns around Qaraqosh have now fallen?
Could it possibly be the fact that our media suddenly reported that hundreds of thousands of Christians were now facing death for the crime of being Christian?
The timing is interesting.
Now this isn't the first time that Christians are faced with attacks because of their faith, the predominantly Christian South Sudan has weekly attacks and a steadily growing Christian death count as they fight the predominantly Islamic North Sudan.
Oh wait, that’s Africa, sorry, nothing to see there, please move along.
Well how about the persecution of Christians in Egypt, oops no, can’t use that as an example since the West put the Muslim Brotherhood in power and it was them doing the persecution. You cannot criticise a US puppet Regime just because it happens to be a little bit barbaric or tyrannical.
Anyway if you discount those Christians who happen to live in a part of the world where their skin colour is a bit too dark to be noticed by the west or those being persecuted and murdered by US sponsored regimes you basically end up with one group that the west and the US would notice.
Those in northern Iraq.
Now we have politicians using the G word, Genocide, mass death, extermination. We cannot allow that, we must act, send in the bombers to deal with these mad dogs of the Islamic state. Only the Imperial powers of the West are allowed to wipe out people like that. How dare these dirty savages try to wipe out a whole Christian population, Americans were choking over their breakfasts as the news broke.
You could almost hear the indignation. Kill Christians, commit genocide against Christians. We cannot sit idle while this is happening.
Those fanatics of the Islamic state can kill other Muslims, they can kill that bunch of angel worshippers who follow a religion based on something pre-Christian (Zoroastrianism, Google it). After all they are fighting Assad so they are not that bad, having been trained and armed for just that purpose over the last year or two, but let’s not mention that ISIS was initially supported by the West as an anti Assad force or I will end up covering the long history of the West’s efforts to use local forces in its proxy wars and how this fails over and over and over.
But Christians, unacceptable. All those priests and bishops and believers in the US frothing with indignation as they glance at the headlines. Christians. Nope, cannot be seen to be doing nothing while genocide is committed against Christians.
So now we see transport aircraft in the skies, we see videos of parachutes carrying desperately needed food and water as they float down. We see more video of US airstrikes, the usual blurry light vision images where blobs on the ground are destroyed in bright white flashes.
This is welcome, much needed, many lives will be saved by the food and water. If the airstrikes can drive back the fighters of the Islamic State then many more lives will be saved.
But being the sort of person I am, I fear that this will cause yet more problems. I worry that this is a knee jerk reaction to media headlines of Christians being slaughtered, that there will be no long term effort once the Christians are safe. That there will be no long term plans to bring about stability in the region.
I fear that this will be yet another in a long history of short term Western / US interventions that deal with an immediate problem without regard for the consequences in the medium and long term.
Politicians think in blocks of time, after the next election is something to worry about another day. Obama is in his last term, so he has long since given up caring and now is in a continuous round of golf and election campaigns. He has sent in the bombers but I strongly doubt he has any concerns for the region in the future; it won’t be his problem after all.
Short term meddling has created vast problems across the Middle East, chaos and suffering, death and destruction.
Much of this is the result of the West overthrowing regimes it didn't like, the result has been far more suffering than the previous regimes could ever cause. The leaders of the West say they will not send in troops again, that the solution is not Western military intervention. Well that is what created the mess in the first place. Western ground troops are not the answer, arming one group with modern Western weapons is not the solution, not in the long term. Those hellfire missiles are going to end up being captured or sold to the Islamic State fairly quickly and that just makes the problems worse.
What we can do is try to limit the fighting, stop it spreading. We cannot stop men with rifles but we can see columns of armed vehicles.
What we can do is provide food and water, tents and medical support to those who have fled the fighting.
There is a lot we can do to help with the human cost of these terrible events, to reduce the suffering, proved some sort of shelter, food and water to those in need.
But we need to stop this constant intervention in tribal or national events, we need to stop toppling regimes just because we can, WE need to stop creating the chaos that we are now trying to reduce.
Had the West along with the likes of Qatar and the Saudi’s taken a long term look at the situation and NOT trained and armed the extremist Islamic groups to fight Assad that then combined to become ISIS perhaps hundreds of thousands of people would not now be dead or homeless. But that is history, nothing we can do now to correct the mistakes of last year.
Instead we can help, Human beings helping Human beings, a simple Humanitarian desire to help those in need.
It’s just a shame it took a threat to the Christians of the region before our leaders could be bothered to act.
London was the largest port in the world though it was about to be eclipsed by the booming hub of trade that was New York.
The modern Bra had just been invented.
Mexican revolution, President driven out and replaced by General Huerta
It was the height of the Edwardian era, the industrial expansion of the Victorian age had created a prosperous middle class that continued to expand throughout the Edwardian period.
The class divide was at its strongest in Britain, the upper class looked down on both the middle class and the lower class, the middle class looked up at the upper class and looked down on the lower class and the lower class knew their place.
First Balkan War.
The royal navy ruled the waves, its might unquestioned though a few upstarts kept rocking the boat, so to speak.
Much ongoing disagreement with Balkan states, Ottoman Empire, Russia, Austro Hungarian Empire, German, France, Belgium and Britain. Lots of diplomacy and signing of agreements.
There was ongoing fighting in China between factions but this didn't make the British papers much as it was a long way away and of little concern to the Empire.
The Empire was still strong and covered the world, the sun never set on the Imperial realm, it was always daytime somewhere the Union Flag flew.
The US and Mexico had a little disagreement which involved the Americans invading and taking over a Mexican port,
Henry Ford had started his first production line and his noisy smoke belching machines were getting ready to fill the streets and scare the horses across Europe and America.
A new idea in keeping food for long periods of time had been invented and was all the rage, the household refrigerator was replacing cool boxes in wealthy households and Ice sellers were looking at a bleak future
Women agitating for such outlandish ideas as the right to vote were disturbing the peace everywhere, these Suffragettes were at their most vocal and one, Emily Davison, caused shock and horror when she died after throwing herself under the kings horse.
Louis Armstrong picked up his first trumpet.
Mexican President Huerta flees Mexico with suitcases of money.
J.T. Hearne becomes the first bowler to take 3000 first-class wickets, Howzat.
The first steamboat passed through the Panama canal.
The Balkan wars had rumbled to an end. A handful of central European nations had taken on the might of Turkey and won, though it has to be said that the might of the Russian Empire was diplomatically up to its chin in the whole affair. Turkey lost and left, various disgruntled powers were left to grumble and mutter and glare at their neighbours.
100 years later.
US and UK forces slowly withdrawing from Afghanistan after failure to end fighting, Cultural / Religious / Tribal wars in Afghanistan ongoing since 1978, Est 1.5-2,000,000 dead.
Hamas are launching rockets at Israeli civilian targets and launching raids through tunnels under the border.
ISIS forces are attacking Kurdish held towns in Iraq.
Crimea has seceded from the Ukraine after a referenced and is once again part of Russia, Ukrainian leaders have pledged to return the region to Ukrainian control.
Kiev loyalist military units fighting Ukrainian separatist movement, this year, Est 1,200 dead.
ISIS forces are attacking Iraqi towns and facilities in Iraq.
Islamic insurgency in Nigeria, Ongoing since 1999, Est 22,000 dead.
Israel has been bombing and shelling Gaze for several weeks. Over 1,000 dead.
Syrian civil war. Ongoing since 2011, Est over 250,000 dead.
Somali civil war, Ongoing since 1991, Est over 500,000 dead.
ISIS forces are fighting Lebanese forces along the Lebanese border.
Mexican Drug wars. Ongoing since 2006, Est 150,000 dead.
Ongoing breakup of Libya post overthrow of Gaddafi, Ongoing since 2011, Est thousands, no number other than guesses due to lack of reporting from region
Fighting in Northern Pakistan. Ongoing since 2004, Est 52,000 dead.
In Britain the middle class is steadily shrinking as the economic power of the working class and the bulk of the middle classes meet each other due to falling middle class incomes.
Sudan Ethnic fighting. Ongoing since 2011, Est 15,000 dead.
The recession is over, profits and GDP are climbing but income levels, standards of living etc are falling as the economic and social changes begun during the late Victorian and then Edwardian eras are slowly reversed and the class/income divides begin to return to Dickensian levels.
Shia religious insurrection in Yemen, Ongoing since 2004, Est 25,000 Dead.
Niger Delta insurrection. Ongoing since 2004, Est 5-10,000 dead.
Maoist insurrection, India, Ongoing since 1967, Est 13,000 dead
Moro insurrection, Philippines, Ongoing since 1969, Est 120,000 dead
Ethnic separatist violence Thailand, ongoing since 2004, Est 5,500 dead
Ethnic / Religious violence in the Magreb, Ongoing since 2002, Est 5,000 dead
Kashmir region conflict, Indian / Pakistan, Ongoing since 1947, Est 45-60,000 dead
Ethnic / Religious violence in Burma, Ongoing since 1948, Est 210,000 dead
The lamps went out 100 years ago all across the world, we did not see many of them lit again in our lifetimes.
Please not I am not a doctor of medicine or virology, this article is based on information made public by those who are.
Tumour susceptibility gene 101or TSG101 is one of a group of apparently inactive ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes. Say that quickly three times.
In the title I called it the killer inside all of us, it’s not actually, I’m following the long tradition of newspapers to spice up the title a little. But just a little. The thing about TSG101 is that it is considered to normally be a dormant gene but under certain conditions it has a very negative effect on the human body. Breast cancer being a prime example. Hence its name Tumour Susceptibility Gene 101.
This gene is important because of its role in other threats to humans. It is linked to HIV where it attaches itself to the HIV virus as it infects cells of the victim’s body and helps the virus to multiple and break free of the cell to spread and infect other cells where the virus is again attached to this gene and again helped.
Work to break this chain has been underway for many years, a drug that could block the interaction between the gene and the virus would prevent the spread of HIV in an infected person. So the virus could not spread, they would not suffer damage to their immune system and they would not become contagious to others.
A one stop way of completely preventing both the effect of HIV and its spread.
At the end of 2011 new research by the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Centre at New York's Rockefeller University came up with new and important findings about Ebola. The researchers, led by Dr. Paul Bieniasz, proved that Ebola in its initial infection and spread used the same propagation method as HIV. The Ebola virus invades a cell, is attached to TSG101, the combination of gene and virus then multiplies and escapes the cell to infect new cells where the virus again bonds with TSG101 and the process continues.
The same process as used by HIV.
As long ago as 1996 similarities between HIV and Ebola had been identified:
Doctor William Gallaher, Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the Louisiana State University said on Friday (May 17) that the stem portion of the Ebola virus was actually very similar to that of HIV which causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
But it has not been until recently with the steady advancement in genetic science that the effects of individual genes could be studied.
The two viruses have different effects, HIV attacks the body’s immune system where as Ebola breaks down the cell structure itself so the end results are very different but the way in which both viruses spread and infect is in fact the same.
There have been rumours for a while now about a cure for Aids. Rumours say that this cure may well have been on MH17. If such a cure did exist and worked to suppress the effects of TSG101 then it would also have worked on Ebola. Given the steady increase in cases and the spreading of this terrible virus such a breakthrough would save many lives.
Ebola has traditionally failed to spread far from the initial outbreak, it was too fast acting and too lethal. The infected generally dies where they were and didn’t have the time to move far or infect others. However the current Ebola outbreak has a much longer incubation period, this allows the infected to travel further before the symptoms begin to manifest. Combined with modern international transport such as aircraft this increases the risk of the virus spreading far higher than it has been in previous outbreaks.
You will notice that I am quoting news from years or even decades ago; all of this is background to my point.
Yesterday an elderly woman walked off a flight from Africa at Gatwick Airport, collapsed and died soon afterwards. She was described as sweating profusely and vomiting. The natural fear was Ebola though tests after her death are reporting that she did not have that virus. The actual cause of death has not yet been released.
So much fear and panic. The airport is said to have followed all procedures. Officially the woman showed no sign of being ill on the flight though it is a little hard to believe that something that left her sweating, vomiting and then collapsed near death in the space of a few steps coming off a plane had no previous signs at all.
Several hundred potential victims who could have been infected, the aircraft quarantined. Even the poor sod who drove the fuel truck out to refuel the aircraft was quarantined.
The plane had flown in from Sierra Leone via Gambia, more than 250 official deaths from the disease in Sierra Leone and you can fly from there to Gatwick and then on to most of the world with thousands of potential victims at the airport.
A few days ago we were seeing stories about the class four contagious medical beds available to deal with an Ebola victim, reassuring, the UK is prepared, and we have state of the art equipment ready to handle anyone infected with the virus. Until you stopped looking at the reporters doing the talking and took a good look at the ward and the beds, all two of them.
At present Ebola is just an African problem, there have been no cases in Europe so it is nothing more than scare stories talked about by people who are paranoid.
Aids is the modern western problem, billions spent trying to deal with it or cure it. The Aids treatment drugs are costly and need to be taken for the rest of the victim’s life. There is no drug of any use against Ebola
But HIV and Ebola have very similar methods of infection, replication and spreading. Research and medication developed to block the spread of HIV using a method of blocking TSG101 would also work on the initial infection stages of Ebola.
Researchers and doctors who are experts in virology and focus on HIV can work with Ebola fairly easily. The same methods and research facilities for fighting one can be used against the other.
So as reports of infections and deaths reach us daily from Africa, as rumours have it that the actual death toll is vastly higher than is being admitted with victims being turned away from overcrowded hospitals and therefore not recorded in the official figures. As we find potential victims being tested for Ebola in Scotland and London.
We should ask ourselves. As Ebola spreads and the fear of it spreads, how much are we going to miss the skills, experience and dedication of the men and women of Aids research who lost their lives in MH17? They have been described as leaving a vast hole in global Aids research, of irreplaceable skill and experience.
As the days and weeks pass and more lives are lost both to HIV and to Ebola, how different might things be had they lived?