Category Archives: Terrorism

#Islamic State – Cause or Effect?

After the mess left behind in Iraq, Libya and Syria, Western leaders appear to have realised that the days of a “good shooting war” being good for political image have gone forever. For most political leaders, heroic speechwriter-polished phrases and Churchillian posturing are a remnant of a past when the words ” honour” and “bravery” still had currency.

Today, war is recognised as a filthy misery-spawning industry which, like an appalling Grand Prix Circuit, moves from country to country, leaving no more than a legacy of destruction and death. There is no honour in war – there is only pointlessness, rubble and refugees.

The most bizarre aspect of the whole Middle East circus is that the leader of a small cluster of damp islands in the North Sea is always the one who makes the most noise, always hiding behind his younger but much bigger American cousin’s skirts…..and unsurprisingly, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minster is at it again. This time, from the safety of the White House.

Historically, the West feels that its job is to dispense the universally therapeutic remedy of “democracy” – even to those who don’t really want it.

Democracy is not an emollient to be force-fed in the same way that 18th and 19th century missionaries (from exactly the same damp islands) delivered Christianity to the world’s natives.

The Arabs are not even remotely interested in our special brand of democracy. Democracy used to be THE excuse because they knew that as soon as they shouted “Freedom!” or “Democracy!“, the usual suspects would come riding in, dispensing guns with notions of rescue, egalitarianism and ballot boxes.

THAT didn’t work so now it’s Muslim Fundamentalism and not democracy which needs to be spread! However, the Root Cause remains the same. Only the excuse is different.

Can you imagine revolutions in the Middle East if the family businesses masquerading as governments, distributed their oil billions as they should? Would the average Muslim be interested in getting shot in the name of “regime change” ,  “democracy” or even “Islam” – if he had a job, enough food, decent housing, a car, TV set, free hospital care for his family and a bit left over? Of course not.

Exactly the same economic argument applies here in the West . Would as many young Muslims fly to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State if they had a career, a home and a future? Would they blow-up magazine offices and fly planes into buildings?

With horrific levels of  Muslim youth unemployment and social exclusion, their “Islamic revolution” is primarily based in economics….. not religious idealism.

Once Western leaders accept that, instead of constantly citing “Radicalisation”, we may be a step nearer to finding a solution.

The Paris Love-in.

The Summer of Love, Woodstock and now Je Suis Charlie…….. Love-ins are doubtless very motivational, inspirational and emotionally regenerative but unfortunately, they carry with them a large dose of exponential decay.

Other demonstrations such as Solidarność worked because they were not-only inclusive but they also hinted at revolution and violence……..undercurrents which are (by definition) always missing from love-ins.

Make no mistake, the events in Paris yesterday were wonderful and uplifting but regrettably, not transformational. They were no more than a herd coming together after a few of its members had been attacked and killed by predators. We were all looking for emotional warmth, safety, reassurance, a feeling of belonging and motivation of the sort which only a herd can provide.

It was all terribly emotional but in time, emotions grow dim.

Words of love and respect were spoken by members of all denominations and class. Politicians delivered their obligatory words of defiance. Social and Political commentators provided analysis and words of caution as well as optimism. Mothers brought their children for that “I was there” moment….but feelings will pass and memories fade.

We are currently watching the emergence of  a rogue herd which is not yet ready for the pragmatism of rubbing along peacefully with all the other herds. The Islamic State will be “l’étranger” for some time to come. Showing it love and respect is impossible for the rest of us because for the moment, in spite of our numbers, it is they who are the predators and we are the hunted.

However, looking at the magnificent sight of two million individuals sweeping slowly through the streets of Paris reminds us that  it is not only time which is on our side but that it will always be a numbers game.

Yesterday, the human herd grew….both in numbers and stature.

For the last 70 or 80 years, in spite of their oil billions and flash skyscrapers, most Arab States have clearly demonstrated that sociologically and politically they are firmly anchored in the Dark Ages. On many occasions, they have also demonstrated that all despotic dictators have a limited shelf-life which invariably ends in violence. For a long time, we have been trying so hard to tell them all about Democracy and its advantages. and in recent years, we have even tried to install it for them.  This week, the vote in United Kingdom Parliament which prevented us from bombing Syria, has done more to demonstrate  real democracy than any action of the last 50 years – and we should be proud. We do not go to war on the whim of a single individual. We debate…then whatever the outcome, we respect the Democratic Process. Half of us may be “pro” a military strike and half of us may be “anti” but in the final analysis,  we respect each others views, accept them and move on. From now on, we can go to a politically primitive state such as Syria with our heads held high…NOT because we decided against adding to their pile of dead.. but because we have finally shown the world (in a very public way) that we Brits practice what we preach. It isn’t the romanticised French version of “Liberté” or the still largely theoretical American notion of “Freedom”: It is in the astonishingly mature demonstration  that it is possible to disagree  – but with acceptance and mutual understanding. That’s the real lesson for the bad guys.

Your life is in a PRISM and Obama knows it!

We know that (at least) the USA’s NSA (National Security Agency) has direct access to the PRISM companies’ servers. Above is what used to be a secret slide which describes its intent very clearly.

But what is PRISM – apart from its obvious connotations to spying, terrorism or Ian Fleming’s SPECTRE!?

It is the codename for a US government surveillance programme and has been in existence since 2007 .  Its  purpose is to monitor  foreign communications which pass through US computer servers.

There has already been a lot of debate about the existence of this proactive programme designed to spy – and not only on possible terrorist or criminal targets. The scope of PRISM is far greater because to identify the bad guys, it is inevitable that the government also has to snoop on the good guys. Why?  Because the bad guys don’t only communicate with other bad guys so it is inevitable that perfectly innocent messages and site visits are monitored- but that it not the most serious issue.

The most frightening issue is that a government has given itself powers and  IT IS NOT WITHIN A GOVERNMENT’S MANDATE TO GIVE ITSELF POWERS.

Any democratic government’s powers must come from the people. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we are too late and the seeds of tyranny have already been planted.

This genie is well-and-truly out of the bottle!

The “terrorism”  excuse has previously only been used in order to excuse illegal invasion, destruction or state-sanctioned assassination. But, because we have now become totally conditioned into believing the “as long as the word ‘terrorism’ is in the sentence, it’s for your own good” excuse, we all have the status of potential terrorists.

Make no mistake, this is no “one-off”. Here is a list of what is under surveillance (and don’t forget – it is indiscriminate).

Audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs… Skype can be monitored for audio when one end of the call is a conventional telephone, and for any combination of “audio, video, chat, and file transfers” when Skype users connect by computer alone. Google’s offerings include Gmail, voice and video chat, Google Drive files, photo libraries, and live surveillance of search terms.


So the next time you are considering an intimate  SKYPE “one-on-one” with your boyfriend, girlfriend (or both!)…..think! There could be a government operative at Langle, Beijing, the Kremlin or GCHQ watching (purely for “terrorist”  and “for your own good” reasons, of course!).

Finally, PRISM’s first collaborator was Microsoft – way back in 2007. Here’s another slide showing the timeline of when the others came aboard.