The Most Violent Places in the World

Action on Armed Violence has listed the most dangerous violent nations in the world. The top five are Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Nigeria and Pakistan followed by Afghanistan, Ukraine, Yemen, Lebanon and India. Violence in Iraq seems never ending ever since the Allies invaded it and toppled Saddam.  It is no accident that nine out of the ten most violent places are nations or are bordering nations where the Western democracies have intervened in the name of bring peace and stability to those places.  Continue reading

Bringing Democracy to Iraq

The great western democracies believe in democracy. In fact they believe in democracy so intently and so unconditionally that they invaded Iraq to overthrow a tyrant, although some of them claimed that they invaded Iraq for other reasons. The Tyrant was duly overthrown and hanged and the blessings of democracy were brought to the people of Iraq who have held a number of democratic elections.  Continue reading

Russia, China and Future Growth

Ten years ago conventional business wisdom was that if you had to make something you moved the production to China and invested (directly or indirectly) in production facilities in China. Today the position has almost reversed. Production in China has been so profitable that Chinese businesses are encouraged and urged to invest their profits in business in the United States, the European Community and other parts of the world. The Chinese economy has transformed from a branch of the western economy to an economic centre in its own right. Continue reading

The Best is No Longer Yet to Be

All over the western world the rich are getting richer and the less rich are getting less rich. A person who has invested in education is less able to become a reasonable wealthy person than at any time in the last hundred years. It is harder than ever to earn enough money to be able to buy a house, live as well as your parents or even live as well as your parents lived. Of course there are exceptions but generally people are getting poorer while corporations are getting wealthier. After many generations when most people lived better lives than their parents (give or take the occasional world war) most expect succeeding generations on the Western democracies to live less prosperous more hard working lives with considerably less hope than  the lives their parents lived. Continue reading

Syria is Entitled to Take Pre-Emptive Action

For many years, at least from the start of recorded history, nations have people have justified the use of force first on the grounds that they were taking pre-emptive action to protect themselves. If you know that a foe intends to attack you, international law states, you do not have to wait to be attacked and you can make a pre-emptive first strike to prevent or deter being attacked. Traditionally bellicose threats and statements are sufficient grounds to enable you to take pre-emptive action. States like Israel and the USA have relied on this doctrine, without which many of their military actions would be definitely illegal under international law.

We should consider then the present position of Syria. Syria is threatened with some kind of action, probably bombing or missile attacks, from the USA. Interesting the grounds upon which such action is proposed is an unproven allegation that Syria used chemical weapons in the course of its civil war. Syria denies the claim and sitting at my desk in London I have no idea whether that denial is false or true. What seems to be true is that Syria manufactured its chemical weapons from constituents sold to it by British and American companies. I suppose that was to be expected; The Western democracies do specialise in hypocrisy.

Now, being threatened with military action it seems to me that Syria is justified in International law in making pre-emptive strikes against those that threaten it. Syria is unlikely to do this, even though it may be legally justified under international law becasue to take pre-emptive action action the USA means breaking the first tenets of International Law: might is right and the mightier you are the righer you are.

After the Revolutions

There have been many revolutions in the world which have changed the government of nations or the means of choosing the government. In the Arab world there are series of events which may ultimately comprise some kind of revolution, with the old order changing and a new order starting. Even powerful and secure nations are not free from the possibility of revolution, which is why they support some factions in neighbouring countries, in the expectation that a change of government next door will bring in a government more sympathetic and less dangerous to them. Continue reading

Watching the Civil War in Syria

There is a civil war in Syria. Millions have fled the country to escape death and injury. Thousands have been killed. Chemical weapons have been used. It seems that all sides in the civil war (there are more than two sides) are committing atrocities and war crimes against the civilian population. The Western democracies are talking of intervening in some way. Any intervention will not end the war and the atrocities. It may end the existing government of Syria, but there are many people who want to take over the government and ending the rule of one regime does not guarantee that the rule of the next regime will be better for the people of Syria. Continue reading

Syria, two years on

Some anniversaries are sad events. Two years ago the conflict in Syria broke out. Since then one group of fractions have been fighting to take control of the government and the government has resisted these attempts. The conflict has bled to loss of life and to over one million people leaving the country, most of them settling as refugees in the Lebanon (which has plenty of problems of its own) in Jordan and in Turkey. Seventy thousand people have lost their lives. Continue reading

Democracy at home does not prevent a nation from being tyrannical abroad.

I see that North Korea has tested a small nuclear bomb underground. We can measure the device quite accurately and it is of some concern that a small nation that can barely feed its people wishes to divert its scarce and precious resources into developing nuclear weapons.

Many countries that cannot feed all their people have nuclear weapons. It seems to be a feature of humanity that we fail to understand what is important and what is not important. perhaps the North Koreans are distrustful of the Western democracies; perhaps they have good cause for such distrust. The experience of the people of Iraq does not inspire people of other nations to have much confidence in the Western democracies. Democracy at home does not prevent a nation from being tyrannical abroad.

We must remember that.

The Greatest Griefs

The events of that sunny day on 9th September 2001 were devastating for thousands of families. That day is not the darkest day in history, nor is it the day when most lives were lost or when most people suffered; it was not the most tragic happening of our lifetimes; nevertheless it is fitting that we pay our respects to those who died, especially to those who died attempting to save life.

What happened after that day is much more tragic, and it caused far more loss of life all because the western democracies running scared, running away from their principles to adopt the devices of tyrants in an attempt to protect themselves, and thus lost themselves.

The leaders of great democracies over reacted to the destruction of the twin towers at the World Trade Centre. They would have done well to remember the words of D J Enright:-

“The greatest griefs shall find themselves inside the smallest cage.

It’s only then that we can hope to tame their rage”