Monday, February 28, 2011

Fine Gael Win Big

There are many things I want to say about the election, particularly how happy I am that a Party will lead the next government which will operate in the national interest, rather than the interests of its base. But rather than go in to this, let me simply express how I am feeling by posting some inspirational songs. Normal blogging on International issues will resume from tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ireland and Libya, Democracy and Tyranny

Today the Irish people are voting and the Libyan people are fighting and dying for the right to vote. Ireland is going to the polls to remove this corrupt and incompetent government. The best thing about Ireland is that it is a country where you can do this. It is one of those things that we all take for granted but if we were ever to lose it we would regret it more that we can possible imagine. Colonel Gadaffi came to power in Libya in 1969. Since then there has been eight US Presidents, eight British Prime Ministers and eight Taoisigh. Earlier today I listened on the John Murray radio show to Libyan and Iranian citizens, (one of whom was my friend Shaho Zamani, who my readers may remember I filmed heckling the Iranian Foreign minister in Dublin last year), discuss the situations in their home countries. These people spoke passionately about the horrors of living under a restricted regime where freedom of thought is forbidden and opposition to the regime can result in random imprisonment. This is the reality for the people of Iran and Libya. My message is not sexy, it is in fact boring and conservative. I simply want to say that it is a privileged to live in a free country with separation of powers, an independent judiciary, free elections, freedom of the press and freedom of association. May that never ever change.

This is Ireland

Jack Lynch, Fianna Fail, 1969-73, 1977-79

Liam Cosgrave, Fine Gael, 1973-77.

Charlie Haughey, Fianna Fail, 1979-81, March 1982 - December 1982, 1987-92.

Garreth Fitzgerald, Fine Gael, 1981-82, 1982-87.

Albert Reynolds, Fianna Fail, 1992-94.

John Bruton, Fine Gael, 1994-1997.

Bertie Ahearn, Fianna Fail, 1997-2008.

Brian Cowen, Fianna Fail 2008 - 2011.

Enda Kenny, Fine Gael, 2011 - ?

And this is Libya

Colonel Gadffi, 1969 -
but not for much longer.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photo of the Day, the grave of Michael Collins.

From my recent trip to Glasnevin cemetery, the grave of Michael Collins. Michael Collins was a member of the Irish Republican brotherhood, the organisation that planned the 1916 Rising. He fought in the General Post Office on Easter week. He was a central figure in the election campaign of 1918 which saw a Sinn Fein victory whose policy it was to ignore the British parliament in Westminster and set up a Republic in Dublin. In that first revolutionary government which operated underground, Collins was the Minister of Finance. In the subsequent war with Britain he served as IRA Director of Intelligence. He was responsible for conducting the war against the British administration in Dublin Castle. After the truce in July 1921 he went to London to negotiate the terms of the treaty with Britain. The Treaty which was signed in December 1921 gave Ireland dominion status but not the republic. Michael Collins became chairman of the provisional government which was set up prior to elections. However the terms of the settlement were unacceptable to many republicans resulting in an IRA split and in June 1922 Civil war broke out. Collins resigned his post from the provisional government in order to take personal command of the war. The Anti treaty IRA were dispersed from all the cities and towns of Ireland by the new Free State Army within two months. On the 22nd of August 1922 Collins was ambushed in Beal na Blath Co Cork whilst on a tour of inspection of Free State troops even though it was widely believed that Collins was secretly attempting to meet with his former comrades in order to bring an end to the Civil War. Michael Collins was killed in the ambush. Michael Collins today remains an inspirational figure for the Irish people. The corruption and incompetence of the outgoing Fianna Fail government, the culmination of which was this great country of ours having to ask the IMF for a bail out, is an insult to the memory of Collins and the many other great men and women who fought for this beautiful amazing nation of ours. Tomorrow the Irish electorate have an opportunity to punish Fianna Fail for this, and to put a responsible Fine Gael government into power, a government that will always put the nation and the country first.

FG triumphs in on line battle !

We are living through a digital revolution. This has manifested itself in many ways. In the Middle East dictators are being toppled on a weekly basis. In Ireland, the people are turning to social networking for political information. This is Ireland's first genuine Internet election. Facebook, flickr, youtube, twitter and the blogosphere have impacted immensely on this campaign. In the same way as cable and satellite TV revolutionised elections in the 60's 70's, the candidates and parties that recognise and embrace new technologies in 2011 will triumph.

It is undeniably true that in this election, Fine Gael have had a far superior on line strategy than any other party. You may argue that Fine Gael were always likely to win this election as a result of the catastrophic outgoing Fianna Fail government who surrendered our economic sovereignty to the IMF. Perhaps, but an overall majority, which many are now predicting for FG and their complete out manoeuvring of their nearest rivals in the labour party could not have happened with out a substantial and effective on line campaign. If you doubt the importance of the digital aspect of the election, watch the video below which illustrates in spectacular fashion how the Irish public have in recent months embraced the Internet in search of political information.

Irish Digital Revolution Election 2011 from Fine Gael on Vimeo.

There is a vital point I want to make regarding the above video. It is clear that Fine Gael have had the most effective on line strategy. The party has clearly demonstrated a solid grasp of the digital revolution. This is significant as it is within this revolution that the roots of economic recovery will emerge. The fact that Fine Gael's digital strategy was superior is not only relevant in the context of the election. It demonstrates that Fine Gael are aware of the tremendous opportunities that exist in the digital era. The first time we saw the digital revolution in action was in the 2008 US Presidential election. Barack Obama and his supporters used the Internet to generate unprecedented energy and revenue. But more importantly President Obama brought his campaign strategy into government once elected where his administration continues to communicate with the electorate in on line forums. In addition President Obama has over the last two years focused on creating jobs and stimulating innovation in the on line sector. Will Enda Kenny do the same, all the indications are that he will.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Irish evacuated as Gadaffi fights on !

One of two aircraft at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel last night, just before taking off for Malta.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, in what will be his last executive order as head of government ordered two Air Corp Jets to Malta to evacuate the 60 or so Irish citizens believed to be trapped in Libya. This from the It was a swift and responsible action by a largely disgraced Cowen.

The situation in Libya is much more violent than that which recently occurred in Egypt and Tunisia. There are two types of dictators in my opinion. There are those whose only desire is to die rich old fat men and they are prepared to do anything to make that happen. Then there are those who wish to go out in a blaze of glory. I believe Gadaffi, the mad man of the Mediterranean, a truly insane person, falls into the latter category. This is going to get worse before it gets better. I think Robert Fish pretty much nailed it in today's Irish Independent.

SO he will go down fighting. That's what Muammar Gaddafi told us last night, and most Libyans believe him. This will be no smooth flight to Riyadh or a gentle trip to a Red Sea holiday resort.

Raddled, cowled in desert gowns, he raved on. He had not even begun to use bullets against his enemies -- a palpable lie -- and "any use of force against the authority of the state shall be punished by death", in itself a palpable truth which Libyans knew all too well. On and on and on he ranted. Like everything Gaddafi, it was very impressive, but went on far too long.

He cursed the people of Benghazi who had already liberated their city -- "just wait until the police return to restore order", this dessicated man promised without a smile. His enemies were Islamists, the CIA, the British and the "dogs" of the international press. Yes, we are always dogs, aren't we? And then came my favourite bit of the whole Gaddafi exegesis last night: HE HADN'T EVEN BEGUN TO USE VIOLENCE YET!

So let's erase all the YouTubes and Facebooks and the shooting and blood and gouged corpses from Benghazi, and pretend it didn't happen. Let's pretend that the refusal to give visas to foreign correspondents has actually prevented us from hearing the truth. Gaddafi's claim that the protesters in Libya -- the millions of demonstrators -- "want to turn Libya into an Islamic state" is exactly the same nonsense that Mubarak peddled before the end in Egypt, the very same nonsense that Obama and La Clinton have suggested. Indeed, there were times last night when Gaddafi -- in his vengefulness, his contempt for Arabs and for his own people -- began to sound very like the speeches of Benjamin Netanyahu.

In many ways, Gaddafi's ravings were those of an old man, his fantasies about his enemies -- "rats who have taken tablets" who included "agents of Bin Laden" -- were as disorganised as the scribbled notes on the piece of paper he held in his right hand, let alone the green-covered volume of laws from which he kept quoting. It was not about love. It was about the threat of execution. "Damn those" trying to stir unrest against Libya. It was a plot, an international conspiracy. "Your children are dying -- but for what?" He would fight "until the last drop of my blood with the Libyan people is behind me". America was the enemy (much talk of Fallujah), Israel was the enemy, Sadat was an enemy, colonial fascist Italy was the enemy. Among the heroes and friends was Gaddafi's grandfather, "who fell a martyr in 1911" against the Italian enemy.

Dressed in brown burnous and cap and gown, Gaddafi's appearance raised some odd questions. Having kept the international media out of Libya, he allowed the world to observe a crazed nation: YouTube and blogs of terrible violence versus state television pictures of an entirely unhinged dictator justifying what he had either not seen on YouTube or hadn't been shown. And there's an interesting question here: dictators and princes who let the international press into their countries -- Messrs Ben Ali/Mubarak/Saleh/Prince Salman -- are permitting it to film their own humiliation. Their reward is painful indeed. But sultans like Gaddafi who keep the journos out fare little different.

The hand-held immediacy of the mobile phone, the intimacy of sound and the crack of gunfire are in some ways more compelling than the edited, digital film of the networks.

Perhaps, in the end, it takes a dictator with his own monopoly on cameras to tell the truth. "I will die as a martyr," Gaddafi said last night. Almost certainly true. (© Independent News Service)

- Robert Fisk

Irish Independent

I can't help entertaining the thought that an American cruise missile would save us all a lot of bother, and a lot of bloodshed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Enda "Rambo" Kenny

I just found this hilarious game on the Fine Gael Website. For some reason I can never get past Gerry Adams.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Domino Effect Continues




The reports today are that Colonel Gadaffi has ordered the use of heavy weapons, including mortars and incredibly, anti aircraft guns to be used against demonstrators that has lead to the deaths of over 300 people in the Eastern city of Benghazi. The butcher of Libya who seized control of the North African nation in a military coup in 1969 aged 27, is not giving up without a fight. Given the ruthless record of this despot who has murdered and terrorised the people of Libya for decades as well as exporting terrorism to scores of nations (including Ireland), I would speculate that he is prepared to murder hundreds of thousands to cling on to power.

Fine Gael Five Point Plan

What genuinely impresses me about the Fine Gael campaign is its positivity. This country has been consumed by constant bad news and a never ending stream of doom and gloom over the last three years. This has provided the opposition parties with an opportunity to capitalise on the negativity for electoral gain yet Fine Gael have not done so. Enda Kenny's message is a positive one. "I am optimistic that this (economic crisis) presents us with a brilliant opportunity to rebuild our country in a new way". He is not talking about damage limitation. He is not simply saying that he can juggle our problems and manage the issues more efficiently than the other parties. He has a vision to get Ireland working again. I will let the man himself explain.

FG Rock video from Fine Gael on Vimeo.

I'm back !

I'm back. It has been a challenging week for me. In the same week as Ireland's most important election of my lifetime, and in which the Middle East has seen more simultaneous political upheaval than ever before, Gubu World goes on the blink. And as people who follow me on Facebook know I have had an amazing, one in a trillion, freak occurrence of experiencing three flat tyres in five days. Anyway I'm back blogging daily, still on blogger but not for long.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blogger Bust !

It is official. I have fallen out of love with blogger. Working very hard to fix blog but think I am going to have to go with a new service. Back very soon I hope.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blueshirt jibe is meaningless !

Eoin O'Duffy inspects his blueshirts.

"You're not voting for those blueshirts are ya". That's what some people say when I tell them I'm voting Fine Gael in the upcoming election. So I looked into it. Yes, 60 years before I was born, and before the Fine Gael party even existed, some of its founders flirted with, and then rejected fascism. If anyone out there thinks that this is a valid reason to not vote for Fine Gael on February 25th they are living in a strange place. In fact I think historically it reflects positively on Fine Gael's legacy. After all I think most people would reflect sympathetically on someone who lets say, joined the Nazi Party in 1933, and left it in 1934 on coming to their senses that the Nazi agenda was entirely sinister. And the Blueshirts never came close to matching the depravity of the Nazis, either in terms of actions or ideology. In addition, during the second world war the only mainstream Irish politician who opposed neutrality and lobbied for Ireland's entry into the war on the allied side was Fine Gael shadow minister and future leader of the party, James Dillion. To continue to associate Fine Gael with a facist legacy is lazy minded at best.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Is it ever right to support a dictator ?

This is a question that is being asked right now inside the White House and the Pentagon. Most people would say that the answer is clearly no. However Henry Kissenger once said that "people of average intelligence believe you can apply the same principles to personal relations as you do to International Relations, this is not so because with International Relations you sometimes have to choose between a lesser of two evils". It is an arrogant statement by Kissenger but it is a statement that one cannot dismiss easly. Joseph Stalin was one of histories greatest monsters yet most people accept that the west was correct to ally themselves with the psychotic communist mad man in order to defeat Hitler. Likewise during the Cold War American foreign Policy came under intense criticism for the active policy of sponsoring right wing military governments in order to prevent the spread of communism. My view is that in certain extreme situations support for dictators was on occasion necessary when the alternative was a Soviet take over of a strategically important nation. Today, President Obama and American Foreign policy experts are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to support a friendly yet brutal Arab dictator when the primary objective of American Foreign Policy is supposed to be the spread of democracy in the Middle East. This dilemma is further complicated by the fact that America not only wants a democratic Middle East, but peace for Israel with its neighbour as well, a paradox at best considering Mubarak's brutal regime is one of only two Arab nations to make peace with Israel. So, what should President Obama do ? Thoughts anyone???

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Photo of the Day

Also from Glasnevin Cemetery, the grave of Kevin Barry. Barry was a 18 year old Medical student and IRA man who was hanged by the British in November 1920 for is part in an ambush on British troops in which three soldiers were killed. His hanging drew international attention to the crisis in Ireland

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Election 2011, My take

Yesterday Taoiseach Brian Cowen made his way to Aras An Uctaran to ask President McAleese to dissolve the 30th Dail. The general election has been set for February 25th. I set up Gubu World in 2008 in order to create an open and frank forum to discuss International politics. I never intended to cover domestic Irish politics in any serious capacity. However the gravity of the current economic situation, the IMF and EU bailout as well as the general future direction that this great little country of ours is headed makes this the most important election since the 1930's. I therefor intend to use this blog to commentate on the campaign in addition to my regular posting. My first election post is a straight forward analysis of the options facing the voters as I see it.

Vote Fianna Fail

It would be madness to reward Fianna Fail for the economic collapse of this country. The crash was caused by a lazy government with a "tell the people what they want to hear", attitude. This stems from a sense of entitlement that Fianna fail have, like they have a God given right to rule the country. The economic model which they pursued, where tax payers money was spent so recklessly while revenue was being created from an unstable property boom, was highly irresponsible at best, and at worst was a byproduct of Fianna Fail's questionable relationship with property developers. The electorate must punish FF for this. They will, Fianna Fail will I believe lose about 40 of their 72 seats in the Dail.

Vote Labour

There are people in the Labour Party that I admire. But the reality is they are a tax and spend party. We simply cannot afford their policies. Their base is the public service which is run by the unions. The public service must be reduced in size. It is far too big and inefficient. Labour will never do this as it would cost them their base. This is not the time for labour.

Vote Sinn Fein

For the first time ever, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is seeking electoral office in the Republic of Ireland. Also, according to the polls it would appear that Sinn Fein have a genuine chance of becoming an electoral force, winning perhaps as many as 15 seats. I do not like bashing Sinn Fein the way most do for their role during the troubles. I did not grow up in Northern Ireland during the troubles and I did not have to make them same kind of choices that Adams, McGuinness and co had to. Having said that I have never heard an argument that convinced me that the campaign by the Provisional IRA was in any way justified. In addition Sinn Feinn's economic agenda is entirely populist and unrealistic. Although they will be successful at playing into nationalist sentiment in the wake of the IMF bail out, their programme for economic recovery is too costly.

Vote Fine Gael

I am going to vote for Fine Gael. But first things first. Many people say to me that its leader Enda Kenny is not particularly inspiring. Perhaps, but I think we have had enough of characters and boyos. I'm sick of Berties and Brians. Enda Kenny strikes me as a quiet determined man, who knows whats right and does whats right, not what he thinks he can sell to the people. Next, Fine Gael have always been the party that were prudent with the public finances. Unlike FF, their electoral and economic platform is not "give the public servants what they want" so they will vote for you. It perhaps explains why they have spent so much time in opposition, simply because they are not populists, they do what is right even if it is unpopular. Fine Gael favour spending cuts rather that tax increases, surely the wise approach to take if stimulating growth is the objective. They have pledged to decrease the size of the public sector by 10% abolishing many of the bureaucratic semi state bodies in the process. Their five point plan, which I will go into in detail in a future post, is the most sensible and workable programme for economic recovery. On the international front, Fine Gael have always taken a more responsible line on the Israeli Palestinian peace process, encouraging both sides to work toward a two state solution rather than the populist line many in FF have taken in order to gain brownie points with the far left. Alan Shatter, Ireland's only Jewish TD is Fine Gaels spokesperson on Justice and has always been a passionate and articulate opponent of the Israel bashing that often dominates the political debates surrounding the Middle East. For these, and many more reasons I will be voting Fine Gael, I suggest you do too.

Photo of the Day

More from Glasnevn cemetery. The grave of Eamon De Valera 1882-1975. De Valera was the only surviving commandant of the 1916 rising. He was President of the revolutionary republic from 1919 to 1922. He founded Fianna Fail in 1927 and became leader of the country in 1932 serving in the office of President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1932 to 1937. After initiating fundamental constitutional reform in 1937 he went on to serve as Taoiseach from 1937 to 1948, 1951 to 1954 and 1957 to 1959. He then went on to serve two terms in the largely ceremonial role of President of Ireland from 1959 to 1973.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Keeping updated as we enter day 7

From what I can tell the main question still appears to be, what will the military do ? I am hearing conflicting reports. I have heard that the military have announced they will not use violence against the protesters. I have also read that in the last few hours the army have fired heavy artillery warning shots to disperse angry crowds in Alexandria. It is not clear. But the photo above would suggest that the army are not overly anxious about defending the honor of Mubarak.

The situation in Egypt continues to evolve on an hourly basis. If you want to keep up to date I recommend the following sources. Gary over at Gary's Reflections has an excellent post entitled Egypt's Military Holds the Key. One of the best bloggers I know, GW from Wolf Howling has a troubling post which you can read here concerning the Muslim brotherhood who are now calling for war with Israel. He also posts on why he believes Mohammed Al Baredia, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is not a desirable option to lead a new Egypt. A some what more left wing perspective can be gathered from brilliant blogger Juan Cole who discusses Egypt's Class conflict. In addition if you want to get information on events in Egypt as they unfold on Tuesday, I suggest you click here to read the latest updates from Juans blog Informed Comment. Meanwhile Robert Avrech from Seraphic Secret has an articulate and passionate post entitled Egypt and the Islamist Orbit which illustrates the geopolitical realities of the region and stipulates the danger facing Israel. And finally The Daily Dish has a fascinating post arguing that Egypt is not Iran and that the current situation in Egypt is different to that which occurred in Iran 18 months ago.