A blog by Patrick Crozier

August 20, 2003

Oh shit
Patrick Crozier

In a well-written article, Michael Ledeen, writing in the Telegraph writes:

The terror masters are wounded and frightened, but they are still on the battlefield and they are determined to prevail. They understand, correctly in my opinion, that it is all a matter of will. We have more than enough power to prevail, but we have yet to demonstrate the resolve to impose victory on our enemies.

This frightens the living crap out of me. Partially, because of the war being "asymmetrical" it speaks of a long-drawn out affair, Ulster-style and partially because I have no great faith in the will of our domestic populations. It's all eerily similar to a line in Alan Clark's Barbarossa where the Germans (who had been told that the war was all about will) discovered that the Russians had stacks of it. And we all know who won that one.

Semantic grape slicing anyone?
Patrick Crozier

Janet Daley is finding it tough going at the Kelly Enquiry:

Well, do you believe him? Or are you so lost in the semantic grape-slicing that you no longer know what it would mean to believe anybody?

Some of the questions being particularly difficult:

This is more than semantics. It is metaphysics. When does a document become a dossier?

Yes, we're getting lost in the details. My guess is that we'll never get at the truth not least because half the participants wouldn't know what the truth was if it stood up and kicked them in the groin.

So, what we are left with are perceptions and the one that I think will carry the day is that both the BBC and the government are distinctly dodgy.

Which is fine by me.

August 19, 2003

On hooliganism
Patrick Crozier

If you are going to write and article entitled Hooligans are patriots disowned by their country you'd better be pretty sure of your stuff. Lawrence James, writing in the Times, seems to be surer than most:

In the past there was a simple answer to hooliganism: channel it into some useful activity. Magistrates sent a steady stream of rogues into Nelson’s Navy and Wellington’s Army where, if they persisted in their trouble-making, the whip and the gallows were on hand. It worked, for as Dr Johnson observed, what the hooligans’ superiors termed insolence in peacetime became courage in war. Like today’s hooligans, the roughnecks of Regency Britain looked down on foreigners and were unperturbed by swarms of Frenchmen shouting “Vive L’Empereur”. As Wellington knew, their blend of stubborn defiance and ferocity would see Johnnie Crapaud off.

In these politically correct times, it is conveniently forgotten that the Empire was conquered by working-class rowdies commanded by aristocrats. Street fighters from the slums were no more frightened of Zulu warriors than they were of policemen.

Implication being, I suppose, that to save ourselves we had better go out and get an empire pronto.

August 17, 2003

Croziervision quote of the day
Patrick Crozier
Got this from some right wing asshole. Unfortunately, he's right.
Bill Sjostrom shows us how to do our jobs properly.
August 11, 2003

Dr Kelly's rules
Patrick Crozier

In a generally good article, John Keegan, himself a former civil servant writes:

All civil servants are subject to the service's disciplinary procedures and code. One of its most stringent articles forbids communication with the media. Indeed, at regular intervals, we were reminded in writing of the ban and Dr Kelly must have read the warning as often as I did.
Which would be cut and dried if it wasn't for the fact that since coming to power the government has continually thrust officials into the limelight. Could it be that Kelly found himself in the position where the rules said one thing but his line manager was saying something completely different? Incidentally, this if a phenomenon which seems to be on the increase. Or is it my imagination?

August 05, 2003

Boring Barber
Patrick Crozier

Quentin Letts found himself in the same room as Michael Barber, Head of the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit last week. He didn't like it:

Barber's language was as lifeless as Monday morning mullet. He droned on about missions and cultures, milestones and trajectories, stocktakes and best practice. Thus was a potentially awkward morning for Mr Blair transformed into a pain-free presentational triumph. Prof Barber, with his cropped hair and Third Way regulation-issue dark shirt, was Labour's very own "quiet man". He completely anaesthetised the media.
Which is odd. Because Prof Barber (he was plain Mister then) used to teach at my old school (Watford Boys' Grammar - in case you're interested). One Friday afternoon he was invited to give a speech to a group of us Sixth Formers. He took as his theme: "A Workers' Revolution for the UK" (or some such nonsense) and then went on deliver an absolutely barnstorming speech - with absolutely no mention of stocktakes, milestones or best practice.

The real Michael Barber was a committed, passionate firebrand. This one is like suet pudding. It is difficult to believe it's the same person. What have they done to him?

Barschak bombs
Patrick Crozier

Aaron Barschak's Edinburgh show is rubbish:

Oh lordy, the delivery. From the start, Barschak had the sangfroid of a cow trying to climb out of a well. Early on, for example, after a decent but pointless Ali G impersonation, he took a pair of specs from his pocket (accidentally sending the rest of its contents flying across the stage), only to admit that he'd forgotten who he was going to "do" next.

State Failure #20: The DDT ban
Patrick Crozier

Wasn't sure I'd ever come across anything on this but John Hudock, of Common Sense and Wonder has. He says:

Here is an article on one the real legacy of Rachel Carson. If there were any honesty in public discourse she would be regarded as the primary cause of one of the greatest human tragedies in the 20th century instead of a great environmental icon.
DDT is good for you.

UPDATE. And Hudock has another go at it here.

August 01, 2003

Augusto Pinochet - People's Hero
Patrick Crozier

Natalie Solent is right about all things but I cannot agree with her when she says things like:

Just to make clear, and getting back to the Chile issue, I have no sympathy with that torturer Pinochet. I don't think his support for capitalism had much to do any love of liberty or trust in human beings to be the best judges of their own interests - though I will grant that as I learn more about Allende I have no choice but to regard Pinochet as less culpable than I once did. Less culpable, but still culpable.
Imagine two scenarios. Scenario 1: you play by the book and you end up losing to Allende's thugs. Scenario 2: you torture people and your country avoids disaster. Which do you pick?

Oh, come on. It's an easy one. Stop, the hand-wringing liberal claptrap. If those are the only choices in town you pick Scenario 2 every time. And I mean every time.

Now, of course, that is not to say that there weren't other courses of action available to Pinochet. But there are reasons to be doubtful. Take for instance Northern Ireland. There when British governments have chosen to not play things by the book ie introduce internment, they have by and large been successful. When they have been all nice and lovey dovey they have ended up making no end of concessions to Ireland's Nazis. And take another example: Guantanamo Bay. Certainly way outside the spirit of International Law. For that matter you could just as well add in the decision to invade Iraq. But in both cases the US has decided it doesn't care about the niceities. And it seems to be succeeding.

So, not to put too fine a point on it: Pinochet was right.

Incidentally, does anyone know why the British media insist on pronouncing his name Pino-shay? The Spanish media certainly don't.

Incidentally again, I'm interested that Natalie seems to think that Pinochet's motivation in introducing capitalist reforms matters. I don't. Why should it? Did Britain's pioneers of liberty go around with a copy of "The Road to Serfdom" in their back pockets? I don't think so.