Saturday, November 29, 2008

Its the Jews fault

I like many around the world have been following the madness in Mumbai since Wednesday. I have been thinking since then how best to post on the event. Now that the siege has ended I feel I can reflect a bit more clearly on the whole episode. And I have to say the most dominant after thought I have is as follows. Why did the tiny, absolutely minute Jewish contingent of India become a target of Pakistani militants hell bent on causing mayhem in India. Well the truth is actually quite simple. They hate Jews, all Jews everywhere.

Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were murdered by the militants in Mumbai this week

I normally dislike seeing very complex global issues oversimplified but sometimes you have to call it like it is. The poisonous ideology behind Islamic extremism that has overtaken many national movements like that in Kashmir and Palestine believe that the Jew is behind just about every problem in the world today. They believe that the Jewish agenda to destroy Islam is so deep rooted throughout the world that you cannot contain it, you cannot fight it, all you can do is kill the Jew whenever you come across them. The last people to believe this were the Nazis. When commenting on terrorism people should be aware of this. The hatred of the Jew in the Muslim world is terrifying and it cannot be put down to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It is much more than this. This is an issue that I intend on posting regularly in the future.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Sullivan Brothers

The five Sullivan brothers pictured on board the newly commissioned USS Juneau

Following on from my promise to do more posts on various World War Two anecdotes I want to do a piece on the famous fighting Sullivans. The Sullivan brothers where an Irish American family from Iowa. After Pearl Harbour Joe (24), Matt (23) and Al (20) decided to follow their older brothers George (27) and Frank (26) into the navy. The only condition was that they all serve together. Their wish was granted and in February 1942 the five brothers set sail for the Pacific on board the freshly commissioned USS Juneau.

The story of the USS Juneau is one of the wars most tragic naval incidents. In November 1942 the Juneau was part of a massive American Armada headed for the Solomon Islands in order to confront the Japanese Navy. On the 12th of November Juneau found itself escorting reinforcements to the war ravaged island of Guadalcanal (above). During the unloading the Japanese attacked and Juneau's crew spent most of that day fighting off attacks from enemy planes. In the early hours of the 13th Juneau was struck on the port side by a torpedo from an unclear source. She was severely damaged but able to flee. Along side the Helena and San Francisco who were also damaged the three ships set off for repairs at Espiritu Santos Islands. Just before 11pm on the night of the 13th the three ships came under attack from a Japanese submarine. Three torpedoes were fired at the Juneau. Two missed their target but the third struck Juneau in exactly the same place as it had been hit the day before. The Juneau broke apart instantly and sunk in less than 30 seconds. The wounded Helena and San Francisco, fearing further attacks from the Submarine continued on course and did not stop to look for survivors.

There were 725 men were aboard the Juneau. Nobody knows how many exactly survived the sinking but its thought that only 100 escaped the ship and made into the water safely. Among those killed when the torpedo struck were Frank, Joe, and Matt Sullivan. For the survivors an unbelievably hellish eight day ordeal was about to begin as due to some mix up somewhere the eventual rescuers were unsure where she had gone down. Some survivors were injured and did not last long. The youngest Sullivan brother Al was such a person. It is believed he drowned one day after the sinking. Extreme heat during the day, extreme cold at night took others and as the men began to weaken they fell victim to shark attack. As insanity kicked in some men left their rafts thinking they could see land. Around day five George Sullivan was seen swimming from raft to raft calling out for his missing brothers. He drowned sometime that day. On day eight a sea plane spotted three life rafts in the water. It landed and picked up a mere ten survivors.

The story of the Juneau and the Sullivan brothers has gone down in US naval history as one one of its darkest episodes. At the time everybody knew who the Sullivan brotheres were and avenging the Juneau became a big rallying cry. The story itself has inspired many including Stephen Spielberg who came up with the idea for Saving Private Ryan after reading about the Sullivans. The incident also resulted in the US naval decision, still standing today to separate siblings in order to prevent a repeat of Juneau. There has also been parks, school, roads and even a warship named after the Sullivans. Of the 725 men on board the Juneau when the Japanese torpedo struck on the night of the 13th there is only one living today. Frank Holmgren, pictured attending a memorial earlier this year lives in New Jersey and was one of the ten men rescued by the sea plane. What can I say, this story has overwhelmed me somewhat. The purpose of this blog is to try and make some sense of the GUBU times we are living through. But Frank Holmgren and the Sullivan brothers experienced an era more extreme and brutal that anything the 20th century has thrown at us yet. I hope it stays that way.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conservative Americas obsession with Churchill

I have never fully understood why right wing America is so in love with Winston Churchill. The love affair was evident even throughout this years presidential election where John McCain ads regularly featured images of himself with Churchill speeches filling the background. And how many times since 9/11 have we heard the Churchill Chamberlain comparison even in situations where it was completely irrelevant. The reason I am so surprised at this hero worship is because, well, don't they know, Churchill thought America was a morally bankrupt country and he had no confidence whatsoever in the American soldiers ability to fight. Yet Reagan had a portrait of Churchill in Camp David and Bush currently has a sculpture of the British Bulldog in the Oval Office.

I'm not disputing Churchill's war time role but I am tired of how every time the US is confronted with a foreign policy dilemma somebody like John Bolton or Sean Hannity will make this lazy minded analogy of Churchill versus Chamberlain. To play the appeasement card when considering whether or not to bomb Libya or invade Grenada is amateur at best. Probably the biggest sinner here is former New York mayor Rudolph Guliani who appears to think that he is in fact Winston Churchill reincarnated. In conclusion I want to suggest that as part of the Republican party's post election autopsy they may consider searching for a new mascot other than Churchill because comparing Britain's plight in 1940 with Americas today has never seemed so utterly without substance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baghdad Lock down

As I have constantly pointed out the progress made in Iraq since the June 2007 surge is very fragile. At any time the "Sunni awakening" which turned many Iraqi Sunnis against Al Quaeda could be reversed. Also the ceasefire between Moqtada Al Sadr's Al Mehdi army and US forces is tenuous at best. This has become even more evident this week as AL Sadr and his supporters (pictured) increase their opposition to the new security pact between the US and the Iraqi government that permits US forces to stay in the country for another 3 years. A massive Shiite protest is due in Iraq today against the security pact, due to go before parliament next week. Baghdad is in lock down as a result. How Sadr's supporters react to the massive security clamp down is unclear but I think it is quiet possible that the ceasefire could be over by the weekend.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gaza ceasefire hanging by a thread

The bodies of two Palestinian militants lay near a mortar launcher after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, November 16, 2008.

The five month old Egyptian brokered ceasefire between Hamas and the IDF appears to be coming to an end. This is bad news and not just for obvious reasons. If the situation deteriorates further it will no doubt play into the hands of the right wing Likud party who will likely win next Februaries election as a result. This will return Benjamin Netenyahu to power who has been calling for a pre emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. In addition he is the least likely Israeli leader to compromise on the vital issues particularly on the need for Israel to dismantle Jewish settlements in the west bank. I have been predicting that the liberal wave sweeping across America at the moment might also land on Israel's shores. If so, then perhaps a real effort to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine might take off. During eight years of Bush rule very little effort has ever been made to really push both sides to do what we all know they have to. I fear that under Netenyahu leadership, the former Prime Minister will be unable to separate himself from his far right supporters that have been calling for military action on Iran, no dismantling of settlements and no compromise on the final status of Jerusalem. This that would naturally be a setback for any plans that Obama has to initiate a detailed peace plan. Watch the clip below on the Gaza violence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Irishman killed in Afghanistan

I posted in September on the death of Justin Cupples, the Cavan man killed in action in Afghanistan while serving with the Royal Irish Regiment. It has happened again. Yesterday 32 year old Mayo man Robert McKibben (pictured) who was serving with the royal marines was killed by a road side bomb in Helmand provence. As I have said before that I hate to think of an Irishman dying in a foreign war under a foreign flag but if thats the life he wanted who am I to judge. His death has added significance this week as many Irish households have been discussing the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War and wondering how it should be remembered in this country. Over 200,000 Irish fought for the crown between 1914 and 1918, 35,000 of whom never came home. For some reason which is beyond me, this issue remains today as a point of contention. So much so that those in the mainstream political establishment do not wear poppies nor do they attend commemorations for the fallen. 90 years on, this is truly bizarre. What can I say, I am an Irish nationalist and it has never bothered me that so many signed up to fight for Britain. And in any case who really cares who they were fighting for and what the cause was. The historical fact is that 35,000 young Irishmen lost their lives in a war, and the Irish state and the people should play a central role in remembering them today. And whatever historical hang ups Irish people have about The Great War the nation should offer their sympathies to the family of Robert McKibben. I don't expect his death to be treated as if he had died in Chad fighting with Oglaigh Na Heireann but I do hope his sacrifice is recognised by the media and the Department of Defense. It would be a natural step given the mature way we discussed this week the role of the Irishman in the British armed forces.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"W" on Iraq

I saw Oliver Stone's "W" last night and unlike the critics I liked it. In particular I liked the scenes with his cabinet where they were discussing the pros and cons of invading Iraq and afterward why it went wrong. The best scene was one with Dr David Kay who as head of the Iraq Survey Group was responsible for finding the weapons of mass destruction after the invasion. In this scene he is meeting with Bush and the cabinet and has to explain why he has been unable to find any of these weapons. His description of what went wrong is perfect. He makes a vital point surrounding the entire Iraq fiasco that is often missed by the main stream media which is as follows. Sadam Hussein had no WMD's but for some reason he acted like he did. He did play cat and mouse with the weapons inspectors and he did appear like he had something to hide. Why ? The answer as Dr Kay explains to a slack jawed Bush is because he wanted his own people to think that he had. The belief that Sadam possessed biological and chemical weapons was the regimes biggest defence against an internal uprising. Such was Shia and Kurdish fear of a repeat of the gas attack on Halabjah in 1988 that they fell into Sadam's line.

And here in is the greatest tragedy of the Iraq war. If the UN weapons inspectors had been allowed to carry out their work then they would have exposed what we now know to be true which is that Sadam was in fact a weak dictator. By exposing this fact it would have triggered an internal uprising which would have led to his downfall. Half a million people would not have spilled their guts on the streets of Iraq and every Jihadist in the middle east would not have set sail for Iraq to kill as many Americans (eventually succeeding in killing 4000 of them) as they could and we of course would be living today in a safer more stable world. But W saw it differently back in March 03.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Well done Le Niamh

The Le Niamh, intercepted a yacht with €500 worth of cocaine

The Irish Navy is being credited today with a massive drugs haul following a sting operation in the Atlantic. The Offshore Patrol Vessel Le Niamh, captained by Orla Gallagher, Ireland's first female skipper, intercepted a yacht some 170 kilometers off the Cork coast late last night. On board was over half a billion worth of cocaine, wow! The three British men on board have been transferred to Bantry and Bandon Garda Stations. It appears that the interception was the culmination of many months of inter agency cooperation between the British, Irish, Spanish and Portuguese authorities. I have been arguing for some time now that Ireland needs a larger and more effective navy. This illustrates why. This is by far the largest seizure of drugs in the history of the Irish state. No doubt many more of a similar size have got through in the past. There is no place for the relaxed Irish attitude here. Major Colombian and Caribbean drug gangs have obviously figured out that Ireland is a soft touch when it comes to introducing cocaine into Europe, no doubt leaving a few bails here for Ireland's scumbags to fight over, before they get the ferry to England.

Israel concerned about Obama

There is no doubt that Israel is skeptical of Obama. They fear he may be too soft on Iran. John McCain was clearly favoured in Israel because throughout the campaign he regularly spoke about the need to protect Israel and ensure that there will never again be another holocaust. This naturally went down well with Israelis as it meant that he understood their plight. Israelis are furious that we in Europe apparently don't get that a nuclear Iran would be capable of carrying out what its President has threatened (albeit vaguely) to do. Even if he were not to carry out his threat to wipe Israel off the map directly, the possibility that he or some gang within his regime could do a deal with Hezbollah that would manifest itself in the form of a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv is very real. So Israel is naturally concerned that Obama does not fully appreciate this position.

On Thursday evening Israeli foreign minister, and possible Prime Minister come Februaries election, cautioned Obama on his readiness to talk to Iran stating that it could be perceived as a sign of weakness in efforts to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program.. Personally I don't agree. You legitimize the regime by meeting with it, John McCain would say. Well I got news for ya folks. The regime already has got legitimacy both in the eyes of its people and the rest of the world. It is recognised and has full relations with everyone except Washington. Not talking to Iran has never achieved anything. Talking to them and acknowledging that they too have security concerns and genuine grievances is not a sign of weakness but in fact of maturity. Talking to an enemy is not appeasement, giving something away is. So go Obama, have a chat with Ahmadinejad. You could even go to Tehran, its not a bad city, I've been, they do lovely Kebabs. Go and see what progress can be made. It is better to look them in the eyes and tell them that you will never allow them go nuclear than to continue this game of cat and mouse. Listen to the views of some Jerusalem locals on the Obama phenomenon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

There are no excuses anymore

I think many may have missed the real text of Obama's victory speech this morning. At least the opening part below where he proclaims. If there is anyone out there who doubts that America is a place where all things are possible... tonight is your answer Is this his message to black America that there are no longer any excuses for underachieving. That America is a fair place and that if you fail it is not the system that failed you. Or am I seeing to much here. I can't help remember Bill O'Reilly's comments a few weeks ago when he stated that many black Americans fear that an Obama victory will remove the oppressed minority argument from the equation. Because as of today, to be black in America is to be part of the establishment. The President elect, the man who ultimately calls the shots and who hold so much power is black. America is no longer a country run by rich white people as Reverend Wright would put it. Was this Obama's angle. What ye think ?

President Obama

Obama is President elect. His landslide victory became clear early enough as the swing states of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida fell one by one in his favor. Today is a great day for America and the world.

I have already heard one eccentric American woman on TV cry hopefully the world wont hate us so much anymore. This upset me because I never hated America, nor did I even dislike it. But America did disappoint me and I was bitter. I was bitter at how the optimism which accompanied the dawn of the new millennium was crushed by Bush. I was bitter that an era that should have been a great era for humanity turned out to be a a disastrous one filled with war, poverty and crisis after crisis. The first ten years of the 21st century have been wasted. A time without superpower rivalry and with a communications revolution should have heralded a new era of international cooperation with the purpose of tackling issues like poverty and international conflicts. But instead we had all the GUBU events described in my profile. The worst of which was of course Iraq. George Bush and his crew invaded Iraq, not for oil, Al Qaeda or WMD but to flex Americas muscles at the beginning of a new century and to illustrate their view of American power and how it should be applied in the world. And the consequences of this political experiment left hundreds of thousands dead and and created instability and uncertainty throughout the region and the world. This was an unforgivable act that left a stain on America that will be very difficult to remove. But today's result is a good step. Obama I hope will prove to be just as effective a consensus builder globally as he has been nationally. He will succeed in creating a coalition to deal with Iran. He will be tough with Russia but respect that they too have legitimate security concerns. He will strive to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. He will use his extraordinary powers of persuasion in Pakistan and most importantly he will appeal to the Muslim masses and court them away from extremism. Well done America. You chose well.

Not Just Yet

I'm not calling it just yet. And I'm leaving the Button factory in Dublin's Temple Bar because I'm sick of David McWilliams shouting at the people at the bar who were drowning out the debate to shut up, and in one case roaring, if you don't wanna listen will ya please fuck off ! I will post about this interesting Irish American event in the next couple of days. For now, I'm off to bed because I'm knackered. If things continue the way they are at present I will call it for Obama first thing in the morning. Sleep well and dream of, well an interesting next four years.

The Jewish Vote

Who do Jews Vote for ? The simple truth is they vote the same way as everyone else. Conservative Jews vote republican and liberal Jews vote democrat. Many conservative Jews, such as my good friends over at Seraphic Secret appear to take great exception to Jews voting for Obama and even claim that they are turning their backs on their faith and Israel. Perhaps this satirical video entitled Jews for McCain might help bridge this divide and offer some insight into the fact that possibly as many as 75 % of American Jews appear to be voting for Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Interesting Fact

When was last time the republicans won a presidential election when there was neither a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket ? Anyone !

Why Vote for Obama

I want Barack Obama to be President for the following reasons. The issues that I blog about are the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. These are issues that require a multilateral approach. Presidential power is about the ability to persuade. Obama is a communicator who has an extraordinary ability to articulate his message. Contrast this to George Bush. very few world leaders are interested in impressing him. Why should they ? Despite the fact that he is commander in chief of the worlds most powerful military and holds immense political and economic power, George Bush has been unable to persuade Pakistan to root out Al Quaeda along the border with Afghanistan. He has been unable to generate an international consensus on how to handle the Iranian nuclear crisis and his efforts to bring peace to the holy land have been nothing short of pathetic. I cannot see McCain improving in any of these areas. McCain thinks its 1980 again and America is unclear of its role in the world and therefor needs a Ronald Reagan to aggressively win the war on terror just as Reagan won the cold war. McCain is a cold war warrior with a 20th century mentality.

Vote for Obama/Biden

There is a lot at stake in this election. Do not listen to those that say this election will change nothing. Not true. John McCain and Barack Obama will have radically different approaches to the issues that I regularly blog about. Where as Obama will build the grandest global coalition of all time to fight the worlds problems, McCain wants to "follow Bin Laden to the gates of hell". I am afraid he will, and that he will drag the rest of the world with him. So please, any Americans reading this, vote Obama. I am not a rampant liberal. I believe there is a time for conservative politics and a time for more liberal politics. Today November 4th is a time for America to be brought back to the center of the global effort to ensure that the 21st century is one of peace where the rule of law governs International affairs.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sarah Palin 2012

Assuming McCain loses tomorrow it is becoming increasingly clear that Sarah Palin is being groomed to be the republican presidential candidate for 2012. I have always maintained my surprise that George Bush's neo conservative crew failed to groom a successor. It seems clear to me that a moderate republican is unelectable because they are unable to effectively rally the christian right base. I personally think that many evangelicals want Obama to win in the hope that he will crash and burn (Jimmy Carter style) driving the final nail into the coffin of liberal ideology. This would pave the way for Sarah Palin to run in 2012 and storm to victory much how Reagan did over Carter in 1980. This is my theory anyway and I'm sticking to it. I think many on this side of the pond do not appreciate the extent to which John McCain has angered his own crowd over the years. He may be a hawk on Russia, the war on terror ect but on social issue he regularly clashes with the christian right famously saying in 2000 that Pastors Gerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were agents of intolerance. Consequently the massive evangelical electorate could never get behind McCain they way they did Reagan and Bush. If he loses, that's ultimately the reason. Sarah Palin on the other hand looks like she was created in an evil evangelical laboratory and will no doubt, in the event of an Obama victory begin on Wednesday morning her campaign to win back the white house for the real republicans in 2012. Lets just hope she is more statesman like than this.