Throwing the Other Shoe

Politicians do not like to have eggs or tomatoes thrown at them but they ought to shrug off whatever they have had thrown at them, provided it did not hurt them. After all, it is always helpful to democracy when a politician loses some dignity. It may remind them that they are elected to serve the people and not rule over the people.

You may remember in December 2008 George Bush had shoes thrown at him while giving a press conference in Baghdad. One shoe was thrown, which missed Mr Bush and then the thrower threw the other shoe. Mr Bush was not touched by the shoes; he ducked and no harm was done except to his dignity. The shoe thrower, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, shouted that the shoes were a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people. Continue reading

Thirteen Years: that is a long time

Totalitarian regimes brook not dissent, ever. Democratically elected regimes also brook no dissent, but have to find ways do quashing dissent without appearing to infringe the rights of the dissenters. Shaker Aamer is a dissenter, it would seem, but I cannot say that he is, because his views have never been given a platform. Continue reading

Populists, Xenophobes, anti-Europeans and euro-sceptics

I heard a member of the European Commission talk disparagingly about populists, xenophobes, anti-Europeans and euro-sceptics. He seemed to believe that such folk who held some or all of these views were both evil and stupid. It was an odd way for an educated person to talk and an even odder way for an education person to think.  Continue reading

War Crimes

It is rather upsetting to learn of British soldiers who posed in triumph with the dead body of one of their enemies, while other soldiers took pictures. This behaviour is contrary to the Geneva Convention, but perhaps we can forgive these young men who we send to fight in wars that cannot be won for the glorification and wealth of their political masters. Continue reading

Desmond Tutu Is Right – We Cannot be Selective about Justice

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a good man who has won the Nobel peace prize (one of the Nobel Committee’s better decisions) and who is not afraid to speak his mind. There are many offensive things to the good, as well as many pleasant and happy things. One of the most offensive things is hypocrisy. Mr Tutu, who last month refused to share a speaking platform with Tony Blair, has now suggested that Mr Blair and Mr Bush should stand trial at the International Criminal Court for starting the war against Iraq. Continue reading

Mr Bush and his water board

Mr Bush has written his book. In the grand tradition of underpaid public servants this former President of the United States is publicising his book by having parts of it serialised in newspapers. His Presidency in my view was characterised by cowardice and bullying. He allowed himself to be hidden from sight when the Twin Towers were blown up, until he was advised that it was safe to emerge. This is not the action of a brave man. He also punished Iraq for something that Iraq did not do, claiming that Iraq was involved in the Twin Towers and owned threatening but unspecified weapons of mass destruction. Continue reading

The world’s leaders speak about climate change

I am sitting in my hotel room very early on a dark Californian morning, after a cramped flight and a sleepless night. The Orange County skyline is littered lights that no one needs. On the freeway from the airport the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (two or more people per car) were empty but the other lanes were full. Mr Obama is about to address the United Nations in New York on climate change so I have my television tuned to listen to what he has to say. Continue reading