Tuesday, December 28, 2010

90 Years Ago This Week

The War of Independence has escalated dramatically in the past month particularly in Munster. In retaliation for the Kilmichael ambush on the 28th of November in which 17 Auxiliaries were killed, the Black N Tans burn Cork City center.

The burning of southern Ireland's second largest city was condemned internationally. Britain is clearly losing the propaganda war.

December 18th
A Flying Column in Co Clare consisting of 56 men attack a joint RIC Military patrol near Ennis. Sixteen Auxiliaries/RIC are killed.

Brigadier-General Higginson (Cork) issues a notice saying that captured rebel officers will in future be carried on British lorries as protection.

December 19th
A flying column in East Limerick attack an British military patrol Killing two soldiers. The rest or the patrol surrender, are disarmed and released.

A conference opens in Washington DC to enquire into British atrocities in Ireland - it was subsequently addressed by Muriel and Mary MacSwiney, wife and sister respectively of Terence McSwiney (former Lord Mayor of Cork who was murdered by the Black N Tans) and the new Lord Major of Cork Donal O'Callaghan.

December 20th
8 British soldiers and 1 RIC are killed in an ambush by the IRA on the Kilkenny Tipperary border near Nile Mile House.

Two IRA men are taken from Cashel by Auxiliaries and shot dead near Kilfeacle cemetery.

December 21st
Archbishop Clune meets with Llyod George in London and gives him Griffith's truce proposal. Llyod George rejects it as it does not include the handing in of arms and he tells Clune that his military are confident of mopping up the IRA.

December 22nd
An RIC man is shot dead in a pub in Newtonbarry Co Wexford.

December 23rd
President of the underground republic Eamon De Valera returns to Ireland after one year in America promoting the Irish cause.

December 24th
On this day 90 years ago the Government of Ireland Act came into being. It is this document, and not the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921 (as many seem to think) that partitions Ireland.

December 25th
An Auxiliary patrol in Ballymacelligott, Co. Kerry kills two men and burns their homes.

December 27th
In Bruff Co Limerick, the British Army and the RIC raid a fund raising dance for the IRA. A gun fight breaks out in which five IRA men and one RIC man are killed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Books

The view from my balcony on Christmas morning

I am delighted with the books that I have received this year as Christmas presents. They are as follows.

This book surrounds the controversial life of Jim O'Donavan who organised an IRA bombing campaign of Britain during the early years of the Second World War. O'Donovan was funded by the Nazis.

I'm very interested to read about W's version of events during his controversial time in office.

Likewise for Blair

And on a lighter side, I look forward to reading about President Kennedy's 1963 trip to Ireland, which so inspired the nation.

And on an even lighter note, this 12 second clip from TV3 news is likely to become a youtube sensation.

And once again I would like to wish my readers a very Happy and peacful Christmas. Here is my favourite Christmas song, Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy White Christmas

I must apologise to all my readers for taking so long to respond to recent comments. This week, Dublin has seen the heaviest snow in 30 years and it has wreaked havoc on my life. On Tuesday I attended the wedding of a friend in Castleknock in West Dublin. The reception was in Carton House near Maynooth. It took me three hours to make the 25 mile journey in a blizzard. I also was forced to stay in the hotel as it was impossible to get back to Dublin. Anyway, this and the fact that I was behind schedule for the rest of the week s my excuse for being off line. So, here are a selection of pictures from a very snowy Christmas. It is in fact, the first proper white Christmas I have ever experienced.

The scene outside the church

The fields around Carton House.

My Car

The Street outside my house

Some very strange, large looking icicles.

I would like to wish all my readers at Gubu World a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Photo of the Day

The view from my window. Let it snow !

Monday, December 20, 2010

70 Years Ago Today 20/12/40

Bulgaria: The fascist government in Sofia introduce a series of laws to restrict the movement of Jews.

England: Liverpool is bombed.

Albania: The Greek army shell the Albanian town of Kilsura in the ongoing war between Athens and the Italian backed fascist government in Tirana.

Berlin: On this day 70 years ago today it is believed that Hitler informed his generals that he intended to invade the USSR. This decision was made in the wake of the failure of the Luftwaffe to defeat the RAF in the Battle of Britain. Hitler decided on this day that the USSR is the greater enemy and that he is prepared to attack the Soviets while Britain remains undefeated. This decision would cost Germany the war.

Unlike previous operations in France and the low countries, the German invasion of Russia would not be over quick.

Photo of the Day

Giant pints of Guinness, or snow covered bales of silage in Co Cavan.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Irish Army back in Lebanon

I am pleased to see the Irish Defence Forces will be back in action after a year long abscence. This from The Irish Times.

THE DEFENCE Forces are to resume their role in international peacekeeping after a year-long absence following the approval by Cabinet yesterday of the posting of 440 personnel to the United Nations (UN) mission in Lebanon.

The decision is expected to be approved in the Dáil early in the new year with Irish personnel expected on the ground in Lebanon in the second quarter of 2011.

Irish troops were withdrawn from their last major UN deployment, to Chad, when the mission there ended in May. Since then senior Army offices have been anxious to secure a new overseas assignment.

News of the new mission has been welcomed by Minister for Defence Tony Killeen and Defence Forces chief of staff Lieut Gen Seán McCann.

Mr Killeen said it was “vitally important” that Ireland maintained the commitment to international peacekeeping that came with UN membership.

“Overseas operations contribute greatly also to the development of the Defence Forces,” he said following yesterday’s Cabinet approval.

Savings achieved to date through the withdrawal of small numbers of Irish troops serving with a variety of international missions would help offset some of the costs to the State of the much larger deployment to Lebanon.

However, Mr Killeen said most of the costs associated with participating in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) would be met by the UN.

Lieut Gen McCann said he was “delighted” with the new overseas deployment.

“We have a long and proud tradition of service in the Lebanon and we look forward to using our skills and our experience to make a substantial contribution to the peace and security of the region.”

The Unifil multinational force currently numbers 12,000 personnel from some 31 nations.

The Defence Forces’ participation in the mission is subject to the so-called triple lock mechanism.

This means Irish troops can only be deployed on a foreign mission if it is sanctioned by the UN and approved by the Cabinet before being further approved by a Dáil vote.

Subject to Dáil approval, the Irish troops’ area of operation will be a 140sq km block extending from Tibnin in southern Lebanon to the blue line along the border with Israel.

The Irish troops will conduct extensive mobile patrols in armed military vehicles and will monitor activity along the Lebanon-Israel border.

They will be deployed alongside Finnish troops, whom they worked closely with in Chad.

The UN resolution passed in 2006 paving the way for the Unifil mission provides for the protection of civilians and co-operation with the Lebanese armed forces.

Irish troops were first deployed to Lebanon in 1958 when a group of officers went as observers. The first Irish battalion deployed in 1978, with Irish battalions remaining until 2001.

The Irish returned briefly following a fresh outbreak in fighting between the Israeli forces and Hizbullah in the summer of 2006. A total of 47 Irish troops have lost their lives while serving there.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Photo of the Day

I took this photo today in Wexford town. The statue of Wexford native Commodore John Barry, founder of the American Navy, dominates the Harbour. JFK laid a wreath at this monument during his 1963 trip to Ireland (below). Former president Eisenhower has also laid a wreath here.

Also of interest in this location are the beaches of Curracloe, just across the bay from the John Barry statue. The opening scenes from Saving Private Ryan were filmed at that location. The locals told me that during the filming in 1998 they watched the burning boats from the harbour wall.

Assange in Court

I think a former CIA analyst (whose name I can't recall) that I heard speaking on Irish radio said it best. Juliane Assange is entitled to try to leak whatever he wants, and the US government is entitled to stop him however they can.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Photo of the Day

The Kings of Leon. at the point theatre in Dublin on Saturday night.

Interesting Random Piece of History 7

Did Richard Nixon sabotage the 1968 Paris Peace conference.

Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States in November 1968. The Vietnam war was raging at this time and it was not going well for the Americans. In January of 68 the Viet Cong had launched the Tet offensive which the Americans ultimately repulsed but which led many commentators to argue that the war was untenable. In May of 68, a peace conference took place in Paris where the US entered negotiations with the north and south Vietnamese governments in order to bring an end to hostilities. The talks failed and the US would remain involved for a further five years. Today's random piece of interesting history addresses a controversial subject, one which I have come across in many books but am unaware of a definitive source. Did Richard Nixon, or someone acting on his orders make contact with the South Vietnamese delegation during the Presidential election campaign and urge them to reject the terms of the peace treaty in Paris, arguing that a Republican administration would achieve a better deal for the anti communist south. This is one of those thing that is often said but I am not sure if there is any historical basis. But I would love to know. Because if it is true, then the actions of Nixon must be perceived as an act of evil. At best he went behind the governments back (very taboo in any democracy for the opposition to exercise executive power) and undermined American national Interest. At worst he sabotaged a peace conference and prolonged a truly horrific war just so that he could get elected. All the more shocking when you consider that when his government finally did negotiate a peace deal with the Vietnamese in 1973, it was on almost the exact same terms as those on the table in 1968. It is an interesting thought, if Nixon was guilty of this, just how bad an act was it ? Any thoughts ?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Afghanistan on Track ?

This from secretary of Defence Robert Gates.

And more on President Obamas secret trip to Afghanistan.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Photo of the Day

The intense frost continues in Co Cavan.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Can conservative Qatar host the World Cup ?

So FIFA backed the Russians and the Arabs in their bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups rather than the British and the Americans. It sounds like something the UN would do. As everyone knows I love International Football and particularly the World Cup. Truthfully, I didn't really want the British to get the 2018 tournament because I associate the World Cup with exotic, exciting and interesting travel. I certainly got this in Japan/South Korea (2002) and Germany (2006). I don't think I would have been able to get too excited about journeying to Manchester or Liverpool for the World Cup. No disrespect to those cities. They're just too close for me. I wish the Russians all the best and hope I get to go to cheer on Ireland in what should be a super tournament, even though I do sympathise with the British since FIFA President Sepp Blater and Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin (pictured) are as dodgy as you can get, which naturally casts doubt over the legitimacy of the decision process.

The three Amigos went to Zurich to promote England's unsuccessful bid.

What really shocked me was Qatar beating the US. Frankly I think there may have been some anti Americanism involved even though I do accept that FIFA officials do appear to want to spread it around the globe these days. But I am quite convinced that many in the football elite (I'm not sure what I mean by that but you know where I'm coming from) do not want America to thrive at soccer. I honestly think there is a perception that, well, America is better than Europe at most things, here is something that we (the rest of the world) are clearly better at, so lets keep it that way and not give the Americans a chance to catch up. Maybe I am getting carried away but to award the tournament to a nation of 1 million people with few stadiums, ahead of the US with all its spectacular facilities, seems a bit odd to me.

Conservative Qatar
Like most people, the first thing that entered my mind when I heard Qatar 2022 was, its too hot, and you can't even drink in the place. I have since been reassured that they will have air conditioned stadiums (my God !) and giant fans zone where drinking and carrying on will be permitted. We will see. All I know is this, in the two years (2005-06) I spent living and working in the Gulf, the only negative experience I had, in terms of the concerns one might have about living in a conservative Muslim country, was in Doha Qatar. It involved what I believe was the first ever Gaelic Football match to be held in the country. I was playing for the Dubai Celts against Qatar GAA club. The match which incidentally was the greatest sporting event I ever participated in occurred amongst much fan fare. Probably every Irish expat living in Qatar was there. Many other nationalities showed up too. There was probably 1000 people watching including the local media. Anyway, we lost. But that night we had one hell of a night in the local rugby club where the match took place.

At about 3am when it was time to return to our hotels, the staff began to round us up. They shepherded us toward the exits but strangely would not allow us to leave. Soon after I noticed that there was a police presence. This unsettled some of the lads who seemed to think that there might be some guys after us. Things really got uncomfortable when we were brought into a building, at the entry point to the stadium and kept there by the police. Some of the lads in their drunken states were not handling this well at all. I too was concerned. I just didn't know what was going on. Forty five minutes later we were still there. We couldn't get an answer from the police who had no English. However, it eventually became clear why this was happening. It was time to go home, and the police wanted to supervise our departure for fear that drunken revelling might occur. Once enough taxis arrived, the police simply escorted us in two's from the building, to the taxi rank, a distance of about ten meters. I can't help wonder, if this is how they handled 40 drunken Irish boys, they better have a superior plan for five million thirsty soccer fans.

This incident brought something home to me. Muslim societies are terrified of disharmony as they believe it negatively reflects the wider population. In this case they were afraid that we might cause a ruckess in the taxi rank. I was told subsequently, that the idea to provide a police escort would actually have come from those who want Qatar to open up. Such people were worried that if the event had got bad press, ie reports of irate GAA fans, urinating on the street, singing loudly and getting involved in punch ups (as if we would), then this would have empowered the more conservative Qataris that say, if you allow drinking in the emirate, then next, it will be teenage pregnancies, drugs, crime and the gradual decent into the decadence so visible in the west. This essentially where the clash of civilisations occurs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Photo of the Day

The snow is I think beginning to thaw.

90 Years Ago This Week

Following the events of bloody Sunday on November 21st wide spread raiding by the British Army takes place in Dublin. Over 500 people are arrested.

November 24.
Three prominent members of the under ground Dail Eireann are arrested, two of whom Arthur Griffith (Home Affairs) and Eoin MacNeil (Industries) are cabinet ministers. The third was Eamon Dugann, future negotiator of the Treaty.

An RIC man is shot dead on Infirmary Road in Dublin.

The British Labour leader, Arthur Anderson, meets privately with Prime Minister Loyd George and urges him to call a ceasefire in Ireland.

November 25th
Three British soldiers are killed in an IRA ambush in Castletownroche Co Cork.

November 26th
Two suspected IRA men, brothers from Gort Co Galway are abducted and murdered by Auxiliaries. It is unclear whether the men were in the IRA.

November 27th
Two RIC men are ambushed in Castlemartyr, Co Cork. One is killed.

November 28th
Thirty Six members of the west Cork IRA ambush two lorries carrying 19 members of the Auxiliary Division of the RIC outside the town of Kilmichael. In the battle, three IRA and 18 Auxiliaries are killed. The one surviving soldier would remain paralysed for the rest of his life from a head wound. The Kilmichael ambush has been a source of controversy over the years. As no mercy was clearly shown it has been argued that the Auxiliaries may have been executed after surrender. The leader of the flying column Tom Barry, himself a World War One veteran with the British Army claimed in his 1949 book, Guerrilla Days in Ireland that nine soldiers in the first lorry were killed out rigt. He claimed that about seven in the second lorry then initiated a false surrender where they called for surrender but opened fire just as the IRA men moved in to disarm them, killing one volunteer. Barry claims that he then gave the order to open fire and did not heed any further calls to surrender.

The monument above marks the spot of the Kilmichael Ambush.

November 29th
Two RIC men were captured by the IRA in Ballylongford Co Kerry. The British Army issued an ultimatum that Ballylongford would be razed to the ground if two men were not released and the Kerry No. 1 Brigade HQ ordered their release.

November 30th
Archbishop of Perth, Joseph Clune whose nephew Conor was killed on bloody Sunday holds a press conference in London where he details instances of reprisals against civilians.

December 02
Three senior IRA men are killed in Bandon Co Cork. It is believed they are killed at a meeting a British Army officer who they believed was willing to help them.

December 03
Archbishop Clune meets with Arthur Griffith in Mountjoy Jail. Clune subsequently meets Collins and the terms with which a truce may be agreed are discussed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Deadly Israeli Fire

Forty one people have been killed in a deadly bush fire just north of the Israeli city of Haifa. Excellent blogger Juan Cole over at Informed Comment makes the following enlightened remark.

It is ironic that so much blood has been shed on who will possess that forest near Haifa, and Mother Nature just reminded us whose it really is: Hers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Photo of the Day

A cottage somewhere in Co Offaly. The big freeze continues

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mossad in Iran

Has anybody else noticed this little story in the news. It appears to me that the Israelis are not confident that they could destroy Iran's nuclear sites with air strikes. So instead, they are killing their nuclear scientists. On Monday, Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari was killed by a car bomb outside his home. Nobody has, and nobody will claim responsibility.

Photo of the Day

More snow, somewhere near Tullamore Co Offaly

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wikileaks Revelations

The latest releases this week from wikileaks has caused quite a stir internationally, particularly in the intelligence and diplomatic communities. For me, the two stories which most caught my attention concerned Iran and Korea. The news that the Saudi king privately urged the US to attack Iran would not have come as much of a surprise to people in the know. Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Arab Sunni Muslim world. Iran leads the Persian Shia Muslim world. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979 the fundamentalists in Tehran have sought to spread their form of revolutionary theocracy to the Arab world. They have done this by fomenting dissent in the nations with Shia minorities, most notably in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Lebanon. Since the turbulent years following the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Shia majority have found themselves dominating the political scene there. This is proving to be an encroachment too far for the Saudis. And the thought of them obtaining a nuclear capability, making them the most powerful Muslim nation in the process, appears to be something which the ruling elite in Riyadh are not prepared to tolerate. As I said, this simple fact of geopolitics is not shocking in itself. But for it to become so public is undoubtedly embarrassing and highly awkward for all concerned. I have a feeling that not many Saudi citizens will hear about this particular controversy. It would not sit well with the citizens of the kingdom to know that the authorities in Riyadh who are constantly trying to promote the concept of Islamic solidarity do in fact want to see the infidels take down the Iranian regime.

Hitler and Stalin comes to mind

However it was a leak regarding US, South Korean and Chinese relations that I found most fascinating. Apparently South Korean diplomats have told the US State Department that officials in Beijing have informed Seoul that they no longer value their relationship with the communist regime in Pyongyang. This is particularly interesting given the events on the Korean peninsula in the last week. Basically, it appears there is a generational divide among the leadership in China. Younger officials in the Chinese Communist Party see the relationship with North Korea as a nuisance referring to the Stalinist regime as a "spoilt child".

The leaked document states that

A new, younger generation of Chinese leaders "would be comfortable with a reunited Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the United States in a benign alliance," the diplomat, Chun Yung-woo, predicted.

But if Seoul was destined to control the entire Korean Peninsula for the first time since the end of World War II, China — the powerful ally that keeps the North alive with food and fuel — would have to be placated. So South Korea was already planning to assure Chinese companies they would have ample commercial opportunities in the mineral-rich northern part of the peninsula.

This, if accurate is a stunning development. It would represent a fundamental change in the national interest of the most important player when it comes to North Korea. Sixty years ago this month the Chinese Red Army entered the Korean War on the side of the North Koreans, driving American and UN forces South from the Yalu river on the Chinese North Korean border back below the 38th Parallel. Today it seems that only the older Chinese view the Korean war with sentimentality and that many in fact would be happy to see a united capitalist Korea. In the context of recent events and the diplomatic approach needed by the west to confront the threat, this revelation if true, completely changes the game.

As for the wikileaks thing itself. I think the Americans should concern themselves more with uncovering the many employees at the State Department involved in these leaks rather than obsessing with this Assange character. I'm not even sure if he has technically done anything wrong even though Republican Congressman Peter King saw fit to call him a terrorist today. And in one of the strangest examples of raw partisanship I have ever seen the New York representative claimed that the reason the Obama administration was not taking action against Assange and wikileaks was because Obama and those in his administration grew up worshipping Daniel Ellsberg, the man who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which exposed that the White House had lied about the conduct and course of the Vietnam War. I really don't see what pannicking or sending hit men after Assange would accomplish. For all we know, as in the case of Korea, these leaks could work to Washingtons advantage.

Speaking of Ellsberg, here he is appearing on the Larry King show this week to discuss the wikileaks phenomenon.