Wednesday, June 30, 2010

American Exceptionalism and Israel

Why does America support Israel so strongly. Why does Washington block every UN resolution aimed at Israel and why does it provide the Jewish state with countless billions in military aid every year. The anti Semites among us would have us believe that it is because the Jews control American Foreign policy. Others might argue more reasonably that the pro Israel lobby is the most powerful lobby group in DC. Some might also say that America wants the strongest nation in the region to be an American ally and that US support of Israel is based on a global military strategy. I don't buy into any of these view personally. I believe that American Exceptionalism best explains it.

American Exceptionalism.
What the hell is it ? It sounds arrogant, and I suppose it is, particularly when combined with the notion of the Jews as the chosen people but I do believe that this concept explains the unwavering support that the US has offered Israel for many decades. Proponents of American Exceptionalism believe that the USA occupies a unique role in world history. They believe that its capitalist system and its intolerance of government intervention in the economy has resulted in the largest most powerful economy the world has ever seen. This individualistic system has also led to the most powerful military in all of history. It is not just the capitalist system that is supposed to have brought America to this point. It was the first country that was created not out of ethnicity but because its constitutional republicanism meant that sovereignty belonged to the people, not to a hereditary ruling class. And the American experience of westward expansion throughout the 19th century has apparently helped create a national character which fits into this self help ethos. The result of all this is that the USA is the only nation willing and capable of confronting the threats facing the world. This was certainly true during the cold War. America was the only nation willing to do whatever it took to stop Soviet expansion. They eventually succeed in wrestling the USSR to the ground. Proponents of American Exceptionalism believe that a similar situation exists today as regards the clash that we are seeing between East and West.



Let's look at the war on terror. The dominant thinking in Europe appears to be that if our Foreign Policies are kinder to the Arab World then they will stop disliking us. Perhaps ? But the Americans don't see it that way. They have examined the nature of the threat and are not willing to hide from it. So goes the theory anyway. Just to clarify I have not quite bought into American Exceptionalism. I'm not quite sure whether America does in fact have a unique history and destiny in the world or is this just right wing America engaging in hard core nationalist rhetoric. Truthfully, I haven't quite decided yet. But the belief does exist and I do think it explains US support of Israel.



American Exceptionalism and Israel.
Believers in American Exceptionalism are of the opinion that America is in a unique position to confront International Terrorism and proponents of the Islamic way who favour expansion. They believe that political Islam is fundamentally undemocratic (a theory which I do endorse wholeheartedly) and therefor those who wish to expand it should be confronted and ultimately prevented from doing so. Just like the Cold War, America is stepping up to this task. Israel is the ultimate symbol of the clash that exists between the democratic west and the Islamic East. Others describe it as the front line in the war on terror. Many Americans believe that if Israel were to fall it would only be the beginning. Spain would be next to succumb to the green wave followed by much of Europe. Its sound crazy I know but when you read the contents of Jihadist websites such as Liam Egan's MPAC.ie you become aware that this is the objective more than you might think. This I believe is the principal reason America continues to weigh in behind Israel. It is not out of obligation, alliance or lobby. It is because America believes in Israel.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

70 Years Ago Today 29/06/40


France. It is one week since the French surrender. Western Europe is now in the hands of Nazi Germany. The terms of French surrender are coming into effect. On this day 70 years ago the collaborative French government move south to Vichy where they will be responsible for the administration of the unoccupied two fifths of the nation, as per the agreement with Hitler. However many French have vowed to fight on. General Charles De Gaulle has emerged as the leader of the Free French faction.

There is chaos in the French colonies. Some of the French military have pledged their allegiance to the new Vichy regime. Others have backed De Gaulle and the resistance.

Britain. There is much confusion in Britain too. Is the war lost ? It is a natural question to ask when you consider that so much of the Great War was a stale mate. One thing is certain, defeatism is growing.

Channel Islands. Jersey and Guernsey are bombed.

Photo(s) of the Day

A minute silence is held before Sunday's match at Croke Park in memory of the late great Lt General Dermot Earley, former Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces.

And above, a lovely image of the city from the upper tier of the stadium.

Monday, June 28, 2010

North Korea gets a rare dose of reality.

Apparently the North Korea V Portugal match was broadcast live throughout North Korea, probably the most liberal thing that has ever happened north of the 38th Parallel. After putting up a brave fight against Brazil and only losing 2:1 and perhaps with some sense of nostalgia, since in North Korea's only previous World Cup appearance in 1966 they nearly beat Portugal in a very famous match that ended 5:3, Kim Jong IL gave the go ahead for the match to be broadcast to the entire nation. However, things did not quite go as the dear leader had hoped.

This from The Daily Dish

This is actually quite an amazing story. For a nation that is used to having all of its news censored, and only hearing good stories about the country and the dear leader, to be watching as its team gets wiped out by Portugal 7-0 is a rare dose of reality

The North Korean team were cohesive and well organised. They were hard to break down. But like all fanatical communist societies they were void of individual brilliance. And individual brilliance is required to be a top team at the world cup. But the North Koreans didn't have any because to have individual brilliance In North Korea means that you are a threat. It is therefore forbidden.

Friday, June 25, 2010

USA USA USA USA USA !

I love this clip. It is from a bar in Nebraska. Watch as the bar goes bananas when the US score the last minute winner again Algeria which sees them top the group ahead of England. This reminds me and I'm sure every other Irish person of the glory days of Italy 90 and USA 94.



And then Bill Clinton, who was at the match makes a very curious but interesting point comparing success at football to success in politics and war.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Photo of the Day

The flag flies at half mast at the Department of Defence as a mark of respect to former Chief of Staff Dermot Earley who died yesterday at the age of 62. RIP.

The Queen is coming and McChrystal is going

Yesterday was a very busy day news wise for me so I am going to cover three topics in the one post. Firstly I was genuinely very saddened to hear the news that Lt General Dermot Early has died at the age of 62, a mere two weeks after stepping down as Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces due to ill health. Dermot Early was an exceptional soldier, a brilliant sportsman and a great Irishman. Anyone who knows me is aware that I am huge fan of the GAA and that I have great respect for Oglaigh Na Heireann so you can imagine the high esteem in which I held Dermot Earley.

Lt General Dermot Early seen here recently receiving the Distinguished Service Medal by Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

The Queens visit
So the Queen is coming to Ireland. It is amazing to think that the head of state for our nearest neighbour has never visited this country during her 58 years on the throne. I welcome her visit and think it is long overdue. The visit which is likely to happen early next year will not be without controversy. Republican groups will no doubt protest against her visit and don't rule out the possibility of some kind of a stunt by some of the more militant elements among them. And I am sure that the point will be politely made to her by the Taoiseach that it is still the desire of the political establishment in this country to see the two parts of this island unified. However as I have said many times, the reconciliation of the two traditions of this island is the most Noble political goal any politician in this country can have. This visit will contribute to this process.

McChrystal is Fired
I have been somewhat surprised by the reaction to Obama's decision to fire McChrystal. Although I am sure they will in time, the right have not yet laid into Obama over the incident. In addition, I have read the comments for the first time. There is not a whole lot in them in my opinion and it illustrates for me the egocentric nature of politics that such fairly harmless words would expose such insecurity. I completely understand that civilian control over the military is something that should be guarded fiercely but McChrystal's words were hardly subversive the full text of which you can read here.

General McChrystal has already been replaced by General Petraus (seen here yesterday with President Obama), a highly popular and successful military leader who is currently the head of the U.S. Central Command which puts him in overall command of US forces in the Middle East. This seems almost like a demotion for him to put him back in charge of day to day operations in Afghanistan but such was his success with the surge in Iraq during 2007 and 2008 that he is universally agreed as the right man for the job. If Petraus does manage to rescue the situation in Afghanistan, history will judge Obama's decision to fire McChrystal as the right one.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Photo of the Day

So yesterday I am sitting in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin having a pint after a rather contentions debate on the thorny issue of Israel and boycotts which I will post about at a later stage. So I am sitting in the lounge when all hell breaks lose. Jedward, yes the crazy Dublin twins who took the X Factor (or Britain's got talent or one of those disgusting shows that make me think Liam Egan sometimes has a point about liberal society) by storm enter the room and come straight in the direction of my table. One of the "stars" puts his bag on our table seconds before he gets mobbed by scores of screaming teenage girls. The chaos continues for a few minutes until security arrive to sheppard the lads to safety. Their fanatic followers then scarper down every corridor and stairwell in what I think was an attempt to find the guys bedroom. Security are then sent into a frantic search and destroy (well maybe just remove) mission to neutralise the threat. During the madness I managed to snap one picture for my Photo of the Day. I just hope Ted or John didn't think I was a fan.

Interesting Random Piece of History 3

I am awaiting with anticipation the news from America as General Stanley McChrystal makes his way back from Afghanistan to Washington where President Obama will confront the four star General over remarks he made in a magazine that apparently mock several members of the administration. This is going to be an extremely tough call for the President as McChrystal is Obama's man who was appointed by the President to implement a counter insurgency as opposed to a counter terrorism strategy. If he fires the General it will no doubt destabilise the chain of command at a critical time in the war as the Khandahar offensive is getting under way. If he does not then he will look weak and indecisive. Anyway I will post on this when we know more. However this incident prompted me to discuss the most famous of all clashes between Generals and presidents which is the subject of today's Interesting random piece of history.



In 1951 the Korean war was going badly for the allies. There was a stalemate north of the 38th parallel where the war had begun. Communist China had entered the war in 1950 and drove UN forces back into southern Korea. The question facing the allies was what to do next. General Douglas MacArthur favoured expanding the war into China and made this clear in several interviews with the media. General MacArthur was an American hero. He was allied commander of pacific forces during World War Two. His forces defeated Japan. He oversaw the successful post war occupation of Japan. When North Korea invaded the south in June 1950 he masterminded the spectacular Inchon landings where 25000 troops landed behind enemy lines. He was adored by the American people. But when he criticised the President in public and even suggested that nuclear weapons should be used against China President Truman shocked the nation by firing him.

Most historians tend to agree that Truman did the right thing at the time even though many would argue that he should have listened more to MacArthur and allowed him to win the war. However, Politically it was very damaging such was MacArthur's popularity. Truman decided not to run for a second term in 1952 largely because of this incident. When MacArthur returned to America he received the largest ticker tape parade in New York that had ever been seen before anywhere in the country. Truman may have done the right thing, but it arguably cost him the presidency. Well Obama ???

General MacArthur gets welcomed in New York on his return.

One of the principal characteristics of any democratic state is that the civilian authorities maintain control over the military. This is universally agreed. Although I'm sure many conservatives in the states will have a go at Obama over his handling of McChrystal, so far they have all condemned the generals actions in strong terms. Like MacArthur it appears that McChrystal has made a serious blunder. I think Obama will fire him. Lets face it there was far more at stake in the spring of 1951, and MacArthur was a far greater public figure than McChrystal yet Truman still gave him the heave ho. I suspect Obama will do the same even though it may prove fatal to the President, just as it did to Harry Truman.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Saville Report

My apologies as I am blogging late on this one but it has been one of those weeks. Last week the findings of the long awaited Saville inquiry were released. For my readers who are not from this part of the world allow me to offer some background. In January 1972 an incident occurred in the Northern Irish City of Derry (my mothers home town) which had a long lasting affect on the 30 year conflict known as "the Troubles". British soldiers of the parachute regiment opened fire on demonstrators who were participating in a civil rights (for Catholics) march. 26 were shot, 14 were killed.

Father Daly, now Bishop Daly waves a blood soaked hanker chief as he tries to lead the body of demonstrator John Duddy to safety

The Saville inquiry, set up by Tony Blair in 1998 declared last week what all honest people already knew to be true, that the 26 shot were innocent. None had weapons and some were even bystanders who had not been involved in the march. About half of those killed, particularly the youths were probably rioters. The other half were murdered after the order was given to take people out in response to the unrest. Some of these victims were hiding in alley ways and crawling to safety when they were gunned down.

For many years afterward the families of the victims had to listen to reports from the fraudulant Widgery Tribunal that their loved ones killed were terrorists. This is perhaps the worst insult of all. The Saville report completely clears them all of any wrong doing and lays the blame firmly at the door of the Paras.

David Cameron explains the findings of the Saville Report before offering an unconditional apology on behalf of the British Government.


There were over 3000 people killed in the Troubles. The people murdered that day were not more innocent than the many others killed over the 30 years. However had it not been for the murderous acts of the paras that day there would be many more living today (including many of their comrades) than the 14 shot in the Bogside. As a result of bloody Sunday hundreds of intelligent professional men and women, with no criminal records joined the IRA. This prolonged the troubles and contributed to its ferocity. If nothing else, Bloody Sunday teaches us that if you fight a counter insurgency in a clumsy manner, you will created more terrorists that you defeat.

The IRA campaign and the sectarian slaughter that it triggered can never be justified. Northern Ireland today is a democratic place where the rights of all sides are guaranteed. No argument has ever convinced me that the IRA campaign of murder contributed to the transition of Northern Ireland from and institutionally sectarian state to the more pluralistic democracy that it is today. Everything that has been achieved today, could have been achieved without a bullet being fired. The IRA have no legitimate claim to occupy the moral high ground in the wake of this report. As Kevin Myers put it in a recent coulmn in the Irish Independent in which he lambasted the Paras in unusually strong terms for him before stating

So I want no lectures about Para brutality from those whited sepulchres of Sinn Fein-IRA, whose murders were far more terrible than anything the Parachute Regiment did


The British actions in Derry that day were not only wrong because it was murder of the innocent. It was wrong because it was a tactical disaster. What did they think it would achieve. Did they think it would silence a people who have a history of resisting the British presence in Ireland for nearly 800 years. The actions of the British that day are one of the reasons that I believe still to this day that British soldiers do not belong on the island of Ireland. It is not a particularly sophisticated argument. But it is my country. And I don't like foreign troops in it. And listening to the details of how the British Army behaved in my mothers home town that day upsets me. And while I will always believe that the reconciliation of the two traditions on this island is the most noble political goal anyone can have that outweighs all others, I do hope that when both traditions are eventually brought together it will be done om the context of an agreement that excludes completely a British military presence in Ireland.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Photo of the Day



This is my best photo of the Day. I bumped into comedian Andrew Maxwell in a pub over the weekend. I told him that I have a blog called Gubu World, and that the word Gubu was made famous by the controversial former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Charlie Haughey. Andrew Maxwell is well known for his impersonations of Haughey particularly that famous photo where the late Taoiseach is making a point but looks like he is telling the Irish people to Fuck Off ! It is a sentiment that many people accuse him of because of his legacy of corruption. I asked Mr Maxwell if he wouldn't mind replicating the pose for Gubu World and he kindly obliged.

And Below is the famous photo.

Why Israel didn't qualify for the World Cup

If any of you have ever been to a Tel Aviv beech you would know that this ad is entirely accurate.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Photo of the Day

I snapped this picture yesterday outside Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) which was buzzing with activity as people waited for news in the Fine Gale leadership contest.

For my non Irish readers allow me to clarify. The leader of Ireland's main opposition party has just been challenged by his deputy for the leadership. Enda Kenny who has been leader of the opposition for eight years won the contest. Boring stuff really. There is however one interesting side show to this as far as Gubu World is concerned. About half of Enda Kenny's front bench (shadow cabinet) came out in favour of the challenger Richard Bruton. The other half backed Mr Kenny. One individual who did this was Alan Shatter, opposition spokesperson on children's welfare. Alan Shatter who I blogged about here and here is Ireland's only Jewish member of parliament and probably the countries most outspoken supporter of Israel. One consequence of his backing Enda Kenny is that Mr Shatter, a prominant solicitor, is likely to be promoted on the front bench to shadow Minister for Justice. Since Fine Gael are almost certain to win the next general it is safe to say that Ireland's next justice minister is likely to be a pro Israeli Jew. That should make things interesting around here.

Shaho responds to Iranian Ambassador

After last weeks incident (which I filmed) where my friend Shaho Zamani was violently ejected by Iranian security from the Irish Institute for International and European Affairs for heckling the Iranian foreign minister, the Iranian ambassador to Dublin responded with quite a bizarre letter to The Irish Times which appeared in last Wednesday's edition.

Madam, – I would like to clarify some key issues which have been ignored by the media regarding Manouchehr Mottaki, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs and his recent working visit to Ireland.
1. During the days before Mr Mottaki’s trip, Ireland, like the rest of the world, was furious at the barbaric siege by the Israeli forces of the Turkish aid ship to Gaza’s population, and numerous protests took place opposing the siege.
2. Subsequently, the Irish aid ship was unable to deliver the aid directly to the people of Gaza and this caused even more fury.
3. An hour before Mr Mottaki addressed a meeting in the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin, he met Derek Graham, captain of the Irish aid ship, in the Dáil.
4. Although numerous recommendations were made to the IIEA regarding security issues and permitting only the invited crowd to the meeting, proper measures were not taken.
5. A week beforehand, during a number of meetings, An Garda Síochána was reminded about members of the terrorist group of MKO, their operation in Ireland and necessary security measures.
6. Half an hour before the meeting, instead of the Garda informing the delegation, I had to inform them about the protest at the gate of the European Institute. I demanded the proper distance of the protest to the entrance of the European Institute be maintained.
7. Unfortunately there was no security present within the IIEA and if the Iranian security had not been present, a sad incident could have ruined the reputation of Ireland and the European Institute.
8. The offenders, with the purpose of gaining refugee status in Ireland and to prove they are in danger, had designed this scenario.
9. Above these people were others who pre-planned to divert attention from the issue of Gaza and Israeli crimes.
10. Mr Mottaki’s trip was organised with the understanding of both Ireland and Iran six years after the last visit of the Iranian foreign minister to Ireland and some clear and useful negotiations took place.
11. As the Jerusalem Post indicated, Israel had concerns about Mr Mottaki’s trip to Ireland and about the visit influencing the discussions of Security Council with regards to Iran.
12. The date was organised with the understanding of the two countries and, when it was finally accepted by the Irish authorities, had nothing to do with the Security Council meeting.
13. The most important goal of the designers of this attack to Mr Mottaki was to divert the attention of the public from the Israeli crimes against the aid ships.
14. Paying attention to two Iranian security men who have acted on duty instead of the local security authorities misdirects public opinion. – Yours, etc,
EBRAHIM RAHIMPOUR,
Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran,
Mount Merrion, Co Dublin.


Let's role the tape.



Shaho responded to this almost comical letter with determination and dignity in Today's Irish Times.

Madam, – As one of the protesters present at the meeting at which the Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki spoke in Dublin last week, I read Iranian Ambassador Ebrahim Rahimpour’s letter (June 16th) with interest.
I have lived in Ireland for the past six years as an Iranian exile and peaceful political activist, vocally opposing the Islamic regime of Iran. At the meeting, I protested against Mr Mottaki’s claim to represent the Iranian people and the many ethnic groups within Iran.
People in Ireland may be unaware that five political prisoners, four of them Kurdish, were executed in Evin prison in Iran, on May 9th. Thirty more political prisoners have been sentenced to death and are awaiting execution. Their crime? Speaking out in defence of human rights in Iran.
The threatening and heavy-handed attempt to silence and eject Reza Shiraz and I from the meeting in Dublin last week reminds me of how any voice of protest is dealt with in Iran by the regime’s thugs.
Reading Mr Rahimpour’s disjointed letter, it’s clear he is rattled by last Wednesday’s events.
He uses the Gaza aid convoy as a red herring to distract attention from discussion of the Islamic regime’s appalling human rights abuses. The attack on the flotilla, although disturbing, has no bearing on the implications of Mottaki’s visit to Ireland.
Mr Rahimpour attempts to silence the regime’s critics even in Ireland by implying that our protest was a stunt. Referring to the citizenship status of the protesters is irrelevant – anyone deserves to voice an opinion when defending the human rights of others irrespective of their status.
The ambassador’s implication that Reza Shiraz and I are members of the political group MKO is false – yet we defend MKO and any other political grouping’s right to oppose the Islamic regime. He describes MKO as terrorists, but it is the regime which has executed thousands of political opponents – in Iran and overseas – since its inception.
Mr Rahimpur refers to Reza Shiraz and I as “offenders”. He might be interested to hear that voicing one’s opinion in Ireland is not an offence. The offence committed that evening under Irish law was the threatening and vicious assault on us at the hands of the minister’s security staff.
Is it not telling that Mr Mottaki did not feel well enough armed with his own rhetoric to answer the questions I posed to him? Far simpler to suppress troubling questions with violence. – Yours, etc,
SHAHO ZAMANI,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

MPAC Offline


Liam "Mujaahid" Egan and the Fascist Muslim Public Affairs committee have gone offline. Egan the radical Muslim convert who I blogged about here, here, here and here is Ireland's most prominent Muslim extremist who has in recent times led a campaign of agitation designed at creating tension and ultimately unrest between Muslims and non Muslims. I suppose it is possible that his Saudi backers decided he was a liability and cut off his funding or perhaps the Irish government made a complaint to Riyadh over his constant hate speech. In any case I doubt he will be gone for long. He first appeared in the blogosphere on the site Gorey Muslim Community before promoting himself from community to Association with the MPAC. He will no doubt reappear in the future in some grander arena where he will fraudulently claim to represent the voice of Islam in Ireland.

Photo of the Day

A Jazz Band outside the Palace Bar in Temple Bar, no doubt part of yesterday's Bloomsday festival.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Israeli official expelled from Dublin



Earlier today the Irish Government expelled an unnamed official of unknown rank from the Israeli embassy (pictured) in retaliation for the forgery of Irish passports which were then used in the assassination of a Hamas member in Dubai. This from eircom.net.

Minister Martin said investigations had led to the inescapable conclusion that an Israeli government agency was responsible for the misuse and, most likely, the manufacture of the forged Irish passports associated with the murder of Hamas militant Mahmoud Al Mabhouh. Minister Martin said the Government agreed at a Cabinet meeting that, by way of protest at its unacceptable action, Israel be requested to withdraw a designated member of staff of its embassy in Dublin.


Israeli ambassador to Dublin responded, Dr Zion Evrony, responded by saying that "Israel regrets this decision" but that "We believe that it does not reflect the overall positive relations which exist between Ireland and Israel."

I think the Irish government were entirely correct to take this action even though it seems to me that the Department of Foreign Affairs dithered on this one and only decided to act in the wake of the Gaza flotilla fiasco when world opinion turned against the Israelis. Leaving that aside and the question of the morality of targeted assassinations, it is totally unacceptable that a foreign government would be involved in the forgery of Irish passports. It puts Irish citizens at risk and it is generally far too gangster like behaviour for a country that is supposed to have friendly relations with Ireland. However, it is now time for some consistency from the Irish government. This is a great opportunity for the government to respond to the critics that accuse it of double standards when it comes to the Middle east. It is time for the government to take action against the Iranian embassy. My last post was about the truly outrageous goings on at the Iranian embassy in Dublin where officials there are engaged in a campaign of intimidation directed against Iranians living here who are known to be outspoken critics of the regime. It angers me greatly to think that Iranians who come here, some as refugees are not safe from the persecution of the Mullahs even when they reach Irish soil. Any official found to be involved in this sort of thuggery should be immediately expelled. Of course the Irish Anti War Movement don't want to know anything about this, nor do the countless other left wing groups that foam at the mouth the moment Israel takes action to defend itself. In fact I approached a prominent member of the IAWM and informed them of the situation facing Iranians in Dublin. He openly admitted that the IAWM do not want to make an issue of this in case in turns public opinion in Ireland against the Iranian Government at a time when "Don't Attack Iran" is a central platform of the IAWM. Now there is double standard for you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Iranian Embassy is a Den of Spies

Five years ago I went to Tehran. During my visit I went to see the former American Embassy, now a museum, which is of course the site of the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis. Iranian militants backed by the government took over the embassy and held the staff hostage for a total of 444 days. During this time the Iranians coined the phrase "den of spies" for the embassy. It is still referred to as this in Iran today. The Iranians accused the Americans of spying on the new regime from the embassy and of conspiring with the ousted Shah and his supporters to return the monarch to power.

The above accusation may or may not have been true. However I have a serious issue with the accusation for the following reason. I have known for some time that the Iranian embassy in Dublin is engaged in spying against Irish and Iranian citizens in this country. The principal objective of this is to make note of which Iranian's living here are engaging in anti regime politics. This is reported back to Tehran and the family members of these people are threatened that if their relatives in Ireland don't stop what they are doing, there will be serious consequences. Perhaps a family member who is in prison will have their sentence extended where they will continue to be tortured, or perhaps other family members will find themselves in front of a kangeroo court on some trumped up charge. This is really quite outrageous. In many cases agents of the regime have simply approached Iranians on the streets of Dublin and made it clear that unless they ceased this type activity their relatives back home would suffer. The thuggery of the Iranian officials in Ireland has been highlighted recently when two hecklers, one of them a good friend of mine (Shaho Zamani pictured above) were beaten up by by Iranian security after confronting Foreign Minister Mottaki at the Irish Institute for European Affairs. The incident which I filmed and is up on YouTube has received much attention in the Irish media. Mary Fitzgerald of The Irish Times coveverd the incident in detail. Shaho also appeared on The Wide Angle radio show on Newstalk where he and another Iranian exile detailed the truly unbelievable activitities that goes on in the real Den of Spies in Blackrock. I consider this type of behavior to be a breach of Irish sovereignty by Tehran. Some politicians such as Labour TD Joe Costello have picked up on this. I hope more do. I certainly intend on writing a few letters. I hope the Irish Government make it clear that this type of espionage against citizens of our state will not be tolerated. I can think of one example of where action can be taken. Mary Fitzerald's article detailed the itinerary of the recent visit of Dr Mottaki. He met with Foreign Minister Micheal Martin and Eucation Minister Mary Coughlan.

The meeting with the former centred on bilateral relations including trade and the potential for developing stronger education links, with a particular focus on the possibility of increasing the number of Iranian PhD students studying in Ireland.


Why would the Iranian Foreign Minister request a meeting with the Irish Minister for Education in order to expediate the process were Iranian PhD students come to Ireland to study. This is a fraud. The PhD students that Mottaki speaks of are not legitimate students. They are in fact spies sent over from Tehran to keep an eye on Iranians living here and to report back on any anti Iran activity. We obviously can't, nor would we want to prevent Iranian students coming here. But it should be made absolutely clear in no uncertain terms that if any of these "students" are found to be engaging in any intimidating or threatening behaviour on behalf of the Den of Spies in Bkackrock, they will be arrested and charged.

Photo of the Day

From Croke Park yesterday. It reads, "in memory of the 13 people who died at the hands of England in Croke Park".

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Iranian election, one year on

One year ago today the Iranian government rigged the Presidential elections to return Mahmoud Ahmadinejaad to power for a second term. On month of protest demonstrations followed by the opposition "green" movement which were brutally crushed by the regime. Scores were killed on the streets, an unknown number were executed and thousands imprisoned. The most infamous incident last June was the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan, the 27 year old music student who was shot in the chest. The haunting image of her life slipping away as she lay on the street choking on her own blood was seen around the world illustrating quite clearly the lengths the Mullahs are willing to go to cling on to power in Iran. Below is a tribute to Neda and the many brave Iranians who came out on the streets last summer in opposition to theocratic tyranny.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let the games begin !



I can't wait. Even though I descend into the occasional spell depression thinking about what a tragedy it is that Ireland was robbed and cheated (No I won't get over it) out of the chance to play in South Africa, I must say I am looking forward to the month long feast of football.

And it is not just the football. It's the politics and make no mistake international football is riddled with international politics. Think about it, for the first time ever both North and South Korea have qualified for the same tournament. Although the two are unlikely to meet you can be sure that both sides will want to go farther than the other as some kind of contest as to which nation has a superior system. The fact that only two months ago the North Koreans sunk a South Korean warship only adds to the tension and you can be sure there will be some sort of political incident in South Africa between the two countries.

Incidentally, the North Koreans only qualified for one previous World Cup, that being in England in 1966. It is believed that the entire North Korean squad were imprisoned on return to North Korea, simply because they could not be trusted as men who had spent time alone in a western democratic nation. Fanatical communists have always struggled with soccer. They don't quite know what to make of it. On the one hand they like it because it has a working class tradition. A good soccer team also requires communal cohesion. However a great soccer team needs individual brilliance, something which communists are terrified of.

Most of the North Korean team from the 1966 World Cup were never heard from again.

Other things to watch out for.

The political stability of South Africa is also on show. South Africa has been democratic for 16 years now. There are still tensions between black and white and I know from experience that many white South Africans fear that once the moderating influence of Mandela passes away that the more militant in the ANC will push for greater land reform. In other words, to copy the Mugabe model and seize more land. These tensions have been heightened by the recent murder of white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche. It will therefor be interesting to note how well run the tournament is. If it is not well run and is plagued by infrastructural and organisational problems it will likely be seen as another example of black and white failing to work together. Also it is unfortunately inevitable that some fans will be victims of robberies and violent muggings. South Africa has extremely high levels of conventional crime and it is likely that some lives will be lost to this. Again, South Africa is on show.

The USA are also set to play Algeria in their second game. I'm sure it will pass of peacefully but no doubt there will be some nerves as only last month the Iraqi authorities arrested a member of Al Quaeda they believed was organising a terrorist attack on the World Cup.

Spain are in the same group as Chile and Honduras which is always interesting when countries meet their former colonial masters.

Serbia (as Serbia) have qualified for their first World Cup since the break up of Yugoslavia. Watch out for fervent displays of nationalism.

Political controversies at previous World Cups
The 1934 World Cup was held in Italy. Benito Mussolini had decided before hand that Italy were going to win it. That was it really. In a similar vein to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin Mussolini used the World Cup as an opportunity to spread fascist propaganda. The final which was held in the Stadium of the National Fascist Party was watched by Mussolini who lauded over the game like an emperor at a gladiators fight. The Italians were losing the game to the Czechs with only a few minutes to go when the Italians equalised. They won it in extra time with a truly bizarre goal that should never have been allowed. Although it was never proven it has always been assumed that Mussolini who had met the referee in private had bribed or threatened the Swedish official.

The Italian team line out for the World Cup Final in 1934.

The 1978 World Cup was also hugely controversial as it was held in Argentina which was at the time in the midst of the brutal military dictatorship of Jorge Videla. Again it was never proved but since Argentina won the tournament there will always be suspicion hanging over it.

Sticking with Argentina, who can ever forget the famous "Hand of God" goal that Diego Maradonna scored for Argentina which knocked a very bitter England out of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Coming only four years after the Falkans War the Argentinians loved it where as the British went insane with rage.

The 1982 tournament in Spain was an interesting tournament. It was a chance for Spain to shout to the world, hey, look we are now a free and democratic country, 7 years after the death of Franco. It might not have happened at all had the attempted military Coup in Madrid the previous year been successful. The tournament will also be remembered for the famous collaboration between Austria and Germany who deliberately played out a draw when it suited them both at the expense of Algeria. It led to screams of cheat and "Anschluss", mocking the infamous reunification of Germany and Austria in 1938. Ever since that game all final matches in the first round must kick off at the same time to prevent teams engaging in deal making.


Then there was the Iran V USA match at the 1998 World Cup in France. There was so much tension before hand that they decided to line the teams up together (below) with flowers for the pre match photograph in a kind of silly attempt at showing how football brings people together.



Some observations of my own.
I attended the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and the 2006 tournament in Germany. My American readers will like this one. I always remember that after Ireland's first three games in Japan it was time to travel to South Korea for the next round. We got a ferry from Fuokoka in Southern Japan to Pusan in South Korea. On the boat were many Irish and Spanish fans as well as Americans and Mexicans who were themselves playing in Korea in the coming days. The US won their second round match and knocked Mexico out of the World Cup. On the boat back to Japan a few days later there were only Irish and Mexicans on board as the victorious Americans and Spanish were staying on in Korea for the next round. The Mexican fans were utterly devastated. The only thing that Mexico is better than America at is soccer. To lose to the great northern neighbour was more than some could handle. There were grown men in sombreros weeping the whole way back to Japan.

I took this picture in Leipzig at the match between Iran and Angola at the 2006 World Cup. I couldn't help notice the Israeli flags in the Angolan section. I spoke to one of them afterward. He told me he was traveling around Germany to attend all the Iranian games as a sort of protest.



So let the games begin. I want to see some brilliant matches, some politics and a bit of controversy. My tip, Spain.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mottaki hit with eggs

Below is the footage I filmed outside the Irish Institute of European Affairs as Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is pelted with eggs as he leaves.

And Below the AP also covered the incident with Shaho.

Iranian Ambassador heckled in Dublin

Yesterday the UN placed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. This from Reuters.

Iran insisted it would go ahead with the uranium enrichment at the centre of the dispute. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the U.N. resolution was "valueless" and should be thrown "in the waste bin like a used handkerchief."

But Russia and China, which have strong economic ties with Tehran and have at times resisted sanctions, fully backed the new U.N. move to blacklist dozens of Iranian military, industrial and shipping firms.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the sanctions, which also provide for inspections of suspect cargoes to and from Iran and tighten an arms embargo, would be vigorously enforced.

The resolution followed five months of arduous negotiations between the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia. With 12 votes in favour, it received the least support in the 15-nation council of the four Iran sanctions resolutions adopted since 2006.

Brazil and Turkey, angry at the West's dismissal of an atomic fuel deal with Iran that they said made new sanctions unnecessary, voted against. Lebanon, where the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah is in the government, abstained.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called the resolution a mistake and his foreign minister said he doubted the sanctions would have any impact. But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Colombia they would "slow down and certainly interfere with" Iran's nuclear ambitions.

LEBANESE SPLIT

The sanctions vote was delayed for more than an hour as the Brazilian, Turkish and Lebanese delegations awaited instructions from their capitals. Western diplomats said that Lebanon's abstention came after the Lebanese cabinet split 14-14 over whether to oppose the resolution or abstain.

The four Western powers had wanted tougher measures -- some targeting Iran's energy sector -- but Beijing and Moscow succeeded in diluting the steps outlined in the resolution.

"This council has risen to its responsibilities. Now Iran should choose a wiser course," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the council after the vote.

Iran denies Western allegations that it is seeking atomic weapons, insisting that it only wants peaceful nuclear energy.

Tehran's envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog in Vienna said the sanctions would not alter Iran's nuclear program. "Nothing will change. The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue uranium enrichment activities," Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said.

China, which had hesitated for months before joining talks on new sanctions in January, called for full implementation of the new measures and urged Tehran to comply with international demands about its enrichment program.

In Washington, Obama said the new sanctions were the most comprehensive that Iran had faced and sent an unmistakable message. "We will ensure that these sanctions are vigorously enforced, just as we continue to refine and enforce our own sanctions on Iran," he said.

Israel, which has hinted it could bomb Iran's nuclear facilities the way it did Iraq's in 1981, said the new sanctions were an important step, but called for even broader economic and diplomatic measures.

Russia's Foreign Ministry may have had Israel in mind when it announced that the measures in the resolution "exclude the possibility of employing force.

The resolution calls for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a connection to the nuclear or missile programs is suspected, as well as vigilance over transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank.

It also blacklists three firms controlled by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and 15 belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as calling for setting up a cargo inspection regime like one in place for North Korea.

The resolution lists 40 companies in all to be added to a U.N. blacklist of firms whose assets worldwide are to be frozen for aiding Iran's nuclear or missile programs.

The only new blacklisted individual is Javad Rahiqi, head of an Iranian nuclear centre where uranium is processed. His assets will be blocked and he will face a foreign travel ban.

SEPARATE EU, U.S. SANCTIONS

EU diplomats said major European states plan to use the U.N. move to impose their own unilateral sanctions on Iran and could agree on them very soon.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates hinted that unilateral measures that the United States and its EU allies might approve could target Iran's oil and gas exports.

On Capitol Hill, House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman predicted the U.S. Congress would pass additional sanctions on Iran this month, without saying what they might be.

Richard Lugar, a Republican and one of the Senate's most respected voices on foreign policy, said he thought lawmakers should wait and see what the Europeans did before deciding on further U.S. sanctions.

Turkey and Brazil last month revived parts of a plan brokered by U.N. nuclear inspectors in October for Tehran to part with 1,200 kg (2,600 pounds) of low enriched uranium, or LEU, in return for fuel rods for a medical research reactor.

Iran's LEU proposal raised concerns, Russia, France and the United States said in a note to the U.N. watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency, according to diplomats in Vienna.

Iran had proposed to part with no more LEU -- potential atomic bomb material if enriched to a very high purity level -- than it did under the original October deal, even though its LEU stockpile had almost doubled since then, they said. Iran had also begun refining uranium to a higher level in February.

The first two U.N. Iran sanctions resolutions, adopted in 2006 and 2007, passed unanimously. The council approved a third set in 2008 with 14 "Yes" votes and one abstention.

The three rounds of punitive measures aimed at Iran's nuclear and missile industries have hurt its economy but failed to persuade its leadership to halt its nuclear program or come to the negotiating table. Analysts said the new sanctions were unlikely to persuade Tehran to stop enriching uranium.


I am very glad that on the day the UN hit Iran with sanctions the Iranian Ambassador Manouchehr Mottaki received the following treatment during a trip to Dublin. I filmed this footage of Iranian patriot Reza as he interrupts the ambassador and gets attacked by his security forces.



This from RTE news




I have more footage of yesterday's dramatic events in Dublin including similar but better images of the ambassador fleeing the scene as he gets pelted with eggs. It is a bit longer than the other videos I took so I am having difficulties downloading it. Bare with me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Iranian Foreign Minister tries to speak in Dublin.

I have had quite an interesting day (to put it mildly). I attended a talk by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at the Irish Institute of European Affairs. Attending with me was an Iranian Kurdish friend of mine, Shaho Zamani who naturally was unhappy when the foreign minister began lying about the harmonious relationship that exists in Iran between the various ethnic groups. Given the regimes reputation of ruthlessly suppressing the Kurds and the fact that they executed five Kurdish men because of their political activity only last month my friend did not react well. I filmed his reaction below and his treatment at the hands of the Iranian security. I have much more on this to come tomorrow, including footage of the Foreign Minister getting pelted with eggs.

San Franciso demonstrates

A regular commenter on Gubu World known to readers as Confucius but known to me as my long time friend Bruno, kindly emailed me some images from San Francisco where he now lives, of a demonstration in protest at the siege of Gaza. The US like Ireland and the rest of Europe has many demonstrations against Israel's actions in Palestine. However the difference is as I see it, that in the US the demos are usually accompanied by a counter pro Israeli presence (as above). Not all of these protesters are necessarily Jewish. You might just as likely find a Jew across the street with a sign equating Israel to Nazi Germany. Many who show their support for Israel tend to be conservative Christians who believe that Israel is in the front line of the war against eastern Islamic values that are incompatible with the Judea Christian democratic values of the west. I certainly would not stand behind these people on issues such as Jewish settlements as I have no desire to see any biblical prophecy fulfilled. However it is a refreshing change to see Israel's supporters demonstrate so vocally in favour of the Jewish states right to self defence, and as one poster illustrates to achieve "peace with security".

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as been in held in captivity for over 3 years now.

A very wise message I would say.

And from across the street.










Israel is a Nazi state apparently.

video Above is a short video of the duelling protesters. Thamks again Confucius.

Donegal Beauty

I took lots of scenic pictures over the weekend in Co Donegal. I was going to keep them to use for my photo of the Day over the next few weeks. But they are just so picturesque I think they need to be seen all at once. No politics, no agenda, just some beautiful pictures of Ireland.

The River Finn, Co Donegal.

Every year the salmon return from Canada to spawn in the place of their birth.

I stared at this waterfall for 20 minutes hoping to catch the image of a salmon leaping up stream. As soon as I put the camera down you know what happened.

The truly amazing Slieve League cliffs in co Donegal are an astonishing 3 times higher than the more famous cliffs of Moher.

At 601 meters they are the highest sea cliffs in Europe.

It looks more like New Zealand than Ireland. Breathtaking !

Rossnowlagh Beach, the owner of the restaurant from where I took this picture seemed obsessed with telling me that this was where Tony Blair learned how to swim as a boy.

The sunset over Rossnowlagh beach.

Going Down.

Gone.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Photo of the Day

Where the salmon leap, near Stranorlar Co Donegal. I just spent the long Bank Holiday weekend in Co Donegal. I thought I might manage a post while up there. I failed. Lots to come this week, mainly on the Irish reaction to the Gaza aid flotilla as well as my promised post on American exceptionalism and how it explains US support for Israel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Interesting random piece of History 2

Picture the time. It's Spring 1943. The Germans have been defeated in North Africa. The western Allies are under severe pressure from the Stalin to open a second front to relieve pressure on the Red Army. However the military leadership in London is convinced that a major cross channel invasion of western Europe will not be possible for at least another year. However action must be taken and it is decided, since the allies have come to dominate the Mediterranean that a lesser invasion of southern Europe would suffice for the time being. But where, Greece, the Balkans, Italy ? After much debate and division between the British and the Americans it was decided to invade Italy via Sicily in order to knock Hitler's ally out of the war. Thus began arguably the most clandestine operation of the war the aim of which was to convince the Germans that the allies were not intending to invade Italy, but somewhere else in the Mediterranean. This operation became known as Operation Mincemeat.

Operation Mincemeat was a plan hatched in London to deceive the Germans into thinking that the allied army massing in North Africa was about to invade Greece. An elaborate plan was created to do this. The body of a homeless man was taken from a London morgue. Naval intelligence then invented a persona. Major William Martin of the Royal Marines was 36 and from Cardiff Wales. The fictional Major Martin was place in a British Submarine which set sail for the Spanish coast. On the night of April the 19th the corpse of Major Martin was placed in a torpedo tube and when the vessel was about 2 miles from the town of Huelva near the southern Spanish border with Portugal, his body was shot out into the sea. The intention that the Pro German Spanish authorities would find the body once it washed up on shore.



Attached to Major Martin's body by a metal chain with a brief case. Inside the brief case were love letters and a photograph from Major Martin's fiancee Pam. Other documents in his possession were a solicitors letter and a letter from his bank manager demanding payment of an overdraft. Every effort was made to make Major Martin appear to be a real British serviceman who had likely lost his life in an air crash. Naval intelligence even placed his death on notice in the local newspapers (above) in case German intelligence would check up on him. However the most important aspect of the ruse concerned the confidential documents in the brief case which contained detailed plans for Operation Huskey, the fictional allied invasion of Greece. The Germans swallowed it whole and reinforcements were sent to Greece. On the 9th of July the allies invaded Sicily. For two weeks the Germans were reluctant to send large numbers of troops to Sicily believing that the real invasion of Greece was still coming. In September the allies invaded the Italian mainland, upon which Mussolini was overthrown and the Italians began to turn on the occupying Germans. Operation Mincemeat was one one of the greatest successes in the history of clandestine warfare.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bogside Mural

Can anyone tell me, is the above image real ? It certainly looks it. And if it is, is it the same famous gable end wall. In other words, has Northern Ireland's most famous Mural in Derry's bogside been replaced by this ?

Photo of the Day

A very large seagull, staring at me on O'Connell Bridge.

Is it time to end the Siege ?

A poster displayed near Grafton street in Dublin today.

Is it time that Israel put an end to its blockade of Gaza ? From their point of view they must now ask themselves if it is causing more damage in terms of international opinion than it is worth. I have come to the somewhat controversial conclusion that it is not morally wrong, nor is it collective punishment to economically restrain an enemy. The objective of the blockade is as TheSystemWorks pointed out in Bock the Robber , to prevent a humanitarian crisis while preventing economic development. This brings me back to the main point I always make about the Mid East. If the siege ended, do people really think that Israel acting in a softer way will bring Hamas controlled Gaza to the negotiating table. Do people really think that if Israel just backed down then Israel would be more secure and peace would follow. All reasonable people I'm sure would agree that an end to the blockade would be no good for the people of Gaza if it resulted in another war three months down the line when Hamas has rearmed.

Having said all that the people of Gaza, while not starving, are completely humiliated by the blockade. The Israelis allow rice and grain into Gaza but not livestock and seed which is designed to prevent economic growth. Construction materials are banned. The Israelis say it is because they are used to build tunnels to smuggle weapons. This may be but the result is that the rubble from the January 09 war has remained. Nothing has been rebuilt. It must be one unbelievably depressing place to live where all one can do is exist in the tiny enclave which is one of the most highly densely populated places on earth. As a long term solution the siege is not a viable as I do not believe it will break Hamas and the prolonged suffering of the citizens of Gaza will only make the conflict more intractable in the long run. Therefore I think the siege must end.

The Gaza Strip, with 1.5 million people is one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

However (I'm a great man for my howevers) as I said before there is no point ending the siege if it just leads to another war. This is why I hope the siege is brought to an end in the context of a wider agreement. There has to be an aspect of such an agreement that effectively monitors the rebuilding of the strip and make sure that an increase in trade does not lead to an increase in military strength. The Israeli have always been reluctant to rely on outsiders for their security. It part of the ethos of Zionism, Jews protecting Jews and all that. But it will have to be done as a preservation of the status quo in Gaza is not sustainable. Perhaps they should begin by allowing the MV Rachel Corrie into Gaza.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Photo of the Day

An Amazing sky, Co Roscommon last weekend