When Towers and Trust Collapse

The BBC is running a story about 9/11 conspiracy theories:

On 11 September 2001, four passenger planes were hijacked by radical Islamist terrorists – almost 3,000 people were killed as the aircraft were flown into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Just hours after the collapse of New York’s Twin Towers, a conspiracy theory surfaced online which persists more than 16 years later.

“Is it just me?” an internet user named David Rostcheck wrote, “or did anyone else recognise that it wasn’t the airplane impacts that blew up the World Trade Centre?

“I hope other people are actually catching this, but I haven’t seen anyone say it yet, so I guess I will. There’s no doubt that the planes hit the building and did a lot of damage. But look at the footage – those buildings were demolished,” he continued. “To demolish a building, you don’t need all that much explosive but it needs to be placed in the correct places… Someone had to have a lot of access to all of both towers and a lot of time to do this. This is pretty grim. The really dire part is – what were the planes for?”

Subsequent investigations made it clear that the tower structures were weakened by the inferno from the planes and felled by the weight of collapsing floors. However even now some people refuse to believe this version of events.

I watched the towers collapse on a television in the conference room of an engineering consultancy, surrounded by civil and structural engineers. None of us could believe what we saw, and many of us thought an airplane crashing into the towers couldn’t cause the towers to collapse as they did. A few months later some American TV station aired a program explaining exactly how they collapsed, someone recorded it, and we all packed into the same conference room to watch it. Everyone came away fully satisfied by the explanations given.

The video explained that the two towers fell in quite different ways. Their construction consisted of an inner steel core and an outer shell, held together by cross-braces made of light steel. Neither the inner core or outer shell could stand independently, so the cross bracing was essential. When the aircraft struck the impact knocked off a lot of the fire protection, and the subsequent fire weakened the cross bracing to the point the outer shell fell away, causing the entire tower to collapse. In one video clip you can actually see the core standing on its own for a fraction of a second before it too collapsed to the ground. The other tower fell differently. When the aircraft struck, the resulting fire weakened the supporting steel above the impact point so the entire (intact) tower section above slammed into the floor below, which gave way, and the process repeated through several floors bringing the entire structure crashing down. Although burning jet fuel is insufficient to melt steel, any increase in temperature beyond a certain point severely reduces its structural strength, and temperatures far exceeded that point.

There are many inexplicable elements to 9/11, but most have to do with the fact that this event was entirely without precedent. Nobody could possibly have predicted what would happen should two colossal skyscrapers come crashing down in sequence in the middle of a city, and the mechanisms it triggered in the immediate surroundings will never be properly understood. People say WTC 7 (or whatever) should not have collapsed in the way it did; well, nobody knows how a building is going to behave subject to forces of that nature, all we can do is look at the wreckage and try to figure it out. If the same thing was repeated half a dozen times we might get a better idea, but until then there will always be a lot of odd phenomena about 9/11 we can’t explain. This is what conspiracy theorists rely on when peddling their nonsense.

However, the point of my post is to highlight how much times have changed. When 9/11 occurred there was still some semblance of trust in the US government, and only demented conspiracy theorists believed it would be an inside job. Most people were even on board with the official explanation, which seemed to make sense to me. I certainly can’t see any reason not to believe the official version of events, at least those concerning the WTC and the Pentagon (the story of Flight 93 lends itself to some manipulation, not least because we don’t know for sure what the target was and how it was brought down). But public trust took a huge knock a year later when George W. Bush and co. started banging on about Iraq’s nuclear weapons and resorting to complete bullshit to make the case for war. Since then things have gone rapidly downhill: the Obama years saw the utter corruption of government agencies, flat-out lies concerning Benghazi and Fast and Furious, and since Trump’s election it’s been non-stop disinformation regarding Russia’s alleged interference in US politics. To cap it all, we had a gunman firing hundreds of rounds into a crowd in Las Vegas and after a brief period of feeding the public contemptible bullshit, law enforcement officials and politicians have decided they’re not going to tell anyone what happened, and the media aren’t in the slightest bit interested in finding out. The government’s reaction to this event was so remarkable that even normal, balanced people were convinced something was rotten about the whole thing. And we’re still waiting for answers, by the way.

So my point is that the 9/11 conspiracy theories are nonsense, but if 9/11 happened today the public would have every reason to think they were being told a pack of lies from the outset and they’d almost certainly be right. This collapse in public trust may prove almost as catastrophic as the collapse of the towers themselves.

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Nothing to see here, Australian edition

Well, it turns out I was completely wrong when I said yesterday’s incident in Melbourne would be forgotten by Christmas: it’s largely been forgotten already, disappearing from the front page of the BBC to be replaced by a story about kids dying in Yemen. At least it’s not the Rohingyas, anyway.

As BiG pointed out in the comments, before the ink was dry on my post the Australian authorities had declared it the work of a lone nutter and hence was not terrorist-related. The fact that the guy was an Afghan refugee, complained about worldwide “mistreatment of Muslims”, and was filmed in action by one of his co-religionists who was carrying a sack of knives doesn’t mean a damned thing, it seems. Because, as Streetwise Professor put it, lone lunatics are always accompanied by knife-wielding cameramen.

The authorities are taking the piss, secure in the knowledge the Australian population – like so many others – will just lie down and take it, with a good percentage actually siding with the men with the beards. But they’re not outright lying, it’s more of a lie by omission. I am quite sure the guys who carry out these vehicular attacks are mentally ill and are quite possibly loners. All societies have them, and Australia’s approach to nutters is to not to care for them or make them seek treatment (because that would be judgmental), but instead to clap them on the back and encourage them to roam the streets panhandling and yelling at passers-by. The irony is that most of Melbourne’s head cases congregate around Flinder’s Street Station where the attack took place, so there is an outside chance our Afghan friend has spotted a mate from way back in the funny-farm and just wanted to say hello.

The problem is, mentally-ill Muslims don’t just hang around stations yelling at people; instead they can tap into a large and well-funded network brimming with anti-western sentiment which will welcome them with open arms. There are supposedly moderate mosques and preachers all over the world who will happily embrace lone nutters and, instead of helping them, turn them into jihadists carrying out amateurish but deadly attacks on western targets safe in the knowledge they have no links to an actual terrorist network and the authorities will play along. By refusing to acknowledge the obvious and dangerous link between mentally-ill Muslim men and organised Islamic terror, western governments have entered into a quite astonishing collaborative agreement with terrorist organisations. Then again, given both see the ordinary native populations as representing the greatest threat to their ambitions, this is perhaps less surprising that you’d think.

But their culpability doesn’t stop there. One day I fervently hope that western politicians and their lackeys are held accountable for their considerable role in perpetuating among Muslims this perception they are being mistreated everywhere, and that westerners are to blame. From the hand-wringing over non-existent Islamophobia to the gleeful reporting of the Muslim world’s reaction to Trump moving an embassy, the western media and many, many governments are as much to blame for filling this idiot’s head full of angry feelings of victimhood as any radical preacher. Once again, it is a collaborative effort.

The good news is that I think fewer and fewer people are buying this crap, and compared to five years ago, more of the population are openly mocking the pathetic, craven, and self-serving response of the authorities to Islamic terror attacks. This is a small but important step along the road to doing something about it. When that time comes, I hope little distinction is found between the terrorists and those in power who currently help them.

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A Mystery in Melbourne

An event in Melbourne, completely without precedent elsewhere, leaves us dumbfounded:

Australian police have arrested two people after a car drove into a crowd in Melbourne.

The car “collided with a number of pedestrians” on Flinders Street, a busy junction in the centre of the city, said Victoria Police.

Fourteen people have been injured, with several in a critical condition.

I know that junction, I used to cross it on my daily walk to work along with about twenty thousand other people. It’s busy, and there’s nothing between the pavement and the road. If you want to mow down a bunch of folk in a car in Melbourne, that’s where you’d do it.

Police have said it was a deliberate act but said it was too early to say whether it was terrorist-related.

This is probably true, but I don’t think time is really the issue here. I remember when an Iranian took a bunch of people hostage in a Sydney cafe and shouted Islamist slogans while waving an ISIS flag before shooting someone; when the police eventually got around to saying whether it was terrorist-related they’d decided it wasn’t. Just another of those “lone wolves” we keep seeing everywhere. The public responded with a hashtag fronting a bizarre campaign to sit next to Muslims on public transport. If only their cricket team behaved like this on the pitch, I’d be a lot happier.

The driver and another man have been detained.

“The motivations are unknown,” police commander Russell Barrett said.

Helpfully, 7 News Sydney tweeted a photo of the two men:

Beards and a lumberjack shirt? Why, they’re fucking hipsters! Melbourne is full of them, and they really are a menace.

Witness Jim Stoupas, who runs a business nearby, told the BBC: “It just barrelled through a completely full intersection of pedestrians. There was no attempt to brake, no attempt to swerve.”

He added: “I saw probably five to eight people on the ground with people swarming around them [to help]. Within a minute, I think, there were police on site, so it was very, very speedy.”

Victoria Ambulance said in a statement that a child of pre-school age with serious head injuries was among those taken to hospital.

If the father of that child were Chechen, the perpetrators would not have long to live. I’m merely observing some cultural differences here, celebrating diversity as we’re encouraged to.

In January, six people died when a man drove a car into pedestrians on Bourke Street.

Afterwards, city authorities installed concrete blocks in various locations – including on Flinders Street – hoping to prevent vehicle-based attacks.

Tsk! Someone tell the BBC that the official term is “diversity bollards“.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Twitter that the investigations had begun, and sent “thoughts and prayers” to those affected.

Of course. This will be forgotten by Christmas Day.

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The Inertia of the British Middle Classes

The fascinating social experiment which is the United Kingdom got a bit more interesting last week when a bomb was planted on the London Underground. Fortunately it failed to fully explode, but it burned a number of people as the carriage passed through Parsons Green tube station, leaving behind a smoking Lidl carrier bag with fairy lights and crocodile clips which people seemingly walked right up to and photographed. Obviously they didn’t know it was a bomb, which leaves me to assume they were merely outraged at carrier bags littering the tube, bags they thought had been banned.

The media are, as usual, doing everything they can to obfuscate over who planted the bomb. Check out this BBC report:

An 18-year-old and 21-year-old are being held over the explosion, which injured 30 at Parsons Green station.

The house being searched in Sunbury-on-Thames belongs to a married couple known for fostering hundreds of children, including refugees.

Friend Alison Griffiths said the couple had an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old staying with them recently.

She described Mr and Mrs Jones as “great pillars of the community”, adding: “They do a job that not many people do.”

Lots of people have 18 and 21/22 year olds staying with them. What we want to know is are these the same ones who planted the bomb? The BBC can’t quite bring itself to ask the question, let alone answer it.

When the British government decided to admit thousands of child refugees from Iraq, Syria, and everywhere else it was obvious that many were not refugees and an awful lot of them weren’t children. The authorities didn’t even bother hiding this, such is their contempt for truth and transparency. They were warned time and again that these people weren’t being properly vetted and, having come from a war zone, some of them could be Islamist nutters bent on waging jihad once in the UK. Nobody cared: not the government, and nor the population.

Sure, people made noises on social media but when Nigel Farage brought up the issue of refugees in the last General Election the middle classes howled in outrage and backed that nice man Corbyn instead. However you interpret the results of the GE, one thing is clear: the bulk of the British people seem quite unconcerned about refugees and mass immigration. Proof of this is the reaction of the media and middle classes to people on the continent like Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen. They wrung their hands at these nasty, racist people and cheered when the Netherlands and France “rejected hate” by electing nice, reasonable people who avoided mentioning Islam, terrorism, and immigration as much as they could.

The British middle classes have gone into full-on meltdown over Donald Trump, with many wanting him banned from the UK and others openly calling him a white supremacist. The same people reacted with apoplectic outrage when the rather mild and reasonable Jacob Rees-Mogg said that, being a Catholic, he opposed abortion in all forms. Apparently there is no place for opinions like that in British political discourse, and he was branded a dangerous extremist. The chances of someone like Rees-Mogg, i.e. a genuine conservative being elected British Prime Minister are slim indeed.

What people want is the sort of wet centrist that Cameron personified. Looks like a nice young man, not especially bright, will say whatever makes people happy and won’t really try to change anything. He’s basically the nice-but-dim uncle your parents let run the kids’ birthday party, a safe pair of hands. They don’t want the other uncle who goes on anti-nuclear marches and everyone suspects is a bit of paedo, and nor do they want the one who’s been in the marines and swears too much. People don’t like Theresa May because she exudes soulless mediocrity and reminds people of the dinner lady nobody liked in school, not because her policies are stupid.

This smouldering bucket on the tube has proved that beyond doubt. The policy of admitting in unvetted migrants from the Middle East and passing them off as child refugees was central to the government of which Theresa May and Amber Rudd were part. Okay, perhaps the 18-year old was a child when he got admitted. It would certainly explain the amateurish bomb-making efforts. The instructions on Fisher Price detonators were always hard to follow. I digress.

My point is that anyone who had not been following politics for the past few years would think the British public would be going absolutely mental at this government and the last for pursuing this insane policy, which has bitten them on the arse in the very manner everyone said it would. But no, the media and middle classes are as muted as ever in the wake of an Islamist bombing, hands are being wrung about a possible Islamaphobic backlash, Sadiq Khan has requested the BBC play the same speech he did last time to save him the effort of repeating himself, and all focus is on how Boris Johnson isn’t fit to be Foreign Minister because he said some things Remainers don’t like.

One can only conclude from all this that the majority British public, and certainly the middle classes, are not unhappy with the situation. Economists have this wonderful term called revealed preferences whereby you watch what people actually do rather than listen to what they say. Well, I’ve seen the reaction of the British public to Wilders, Le Pen, Rees-Mogg, Trump, and Farage and I’ve also seen their response to a series of Islamist bombings aimed at killing as many Britons as possible. What conclusion am I supposed to draw?

My guess is most people live nice, comfortable lives. They have enough food, a warm dry bed, a roof over their heads and more luxuries than their parents ever had, including a second car, foreign holidays, and an expensive phone. By historical standards they are financially secure (nobody is going to evict them from their home, and they can always get another credit card), and most are raising one, two, or three absolute brats who give the mother that unconditional love she’s craved since her student days when she watched far too much telly. It’s not just material, they have spiritual satisfaction, too: in the absence of a religion they have taken to virtue-signalling, backing righteous causes such as banning carrier bags, and making the world a better place – by opposing nasty men like Donald Trump, for example.

One should never discount how much intertia resides in a population so satisfied. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to change anything very much while things are going so well. If a giant bomb went off in London next week killing dozens of people and a fringe politician came out of the woodwork and said “By fuck, enough’s enough, I’m gonna solve this!” the middle classes would shit themselves and would cheer the Met as they arrested him for hate speech and carted him away in a paddy wagon decorated with LGBT livery. The chances of any individual being blown up or mown down by an Islamist nutter in the UK are miniscule, and for most people it’s simply not worth rocking the boat by electing someone who’s willing to harbour robust opinions, never mind actually do something.

In other words, Islamic terrorism is an acceptable price to pay to avoid upsetting the material and spiritual status quo the middle classes enjoy. And that’s why nothing gets done about it.

Anyone want to come up with a better explanation?

(Incidentally, this isn’t just a British thing: the German election is about to see Angela Merkel rewarded for her insane immigration and refugee policies with another term, running against someone who makes her look sensible. Again, what conclusion am I supposed to draw?)

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Zakat’s role in funding terrorism

From the BBC:

Saudi Arabia is the chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the UK, a new report has claimed.

The Henry Jackson Society said there was a “clear and growing link” between Islamist organisations in receipt of overseas funds, hate preachers and Jihadist groups promoting violence.

Wednesday’s report says a number of Gulf nations, as well as Iran, are providing financial support to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which have played host to extremist preachers and been linked to the spread of extremist material.

At the top of the list, the report claims, is Saudi Arabia. It alleges individuals and foundations have been heavily involved in exporting what it calls “an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology”, quoting a number of examples.

When most people read a report like this, they assume that thousands of Saudis are intentionally handing over money to extremist and jihadist groups in the hope they will use it to promote or practice violence. Undoubtedly this will be true for some individuals and no doubt some organisations too, but these reports overlook a crucial point that I have only seen mentioned once.

That point was made in Steve Coll’s excellent and highly recommended Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden (emphasis mine):

The money flowing from the kingdom arrived at the Afghan frontier in all shapes and sizes: gold jewelry dropped on offering plates my merchants’ wives in Jeddah mosques; bags of cash delivered by businessmen to Riyadh charities as zakat, an annual Islamic tithe;

Operating in self-imposed isolation, major Saudi Arabian charities and such organizations as the Saudi Red Crescent, the World Muslim League, the Kuwaiti Red Crescent, and the International Islamic Relief Organisation set up their own offices in Peshwar. Funded in ever-rising amounts by Saudi Intelligence and zakat contributions from mosques and wealthy individuals, they, too, built hospitals, schools, clinics, feeding stations, and battlefield medical services.

Wikipedia describes zakat as follows:

As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, zakat is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth.

Zakat is based on income and the value of all of one’s possessions. It is customarily 2.5% (or 1/40th) of a Muslim’s total savings and wealth above a minimum amount known as nisab. The collected amount is paid first to zakat collectors, and then to poor Muslims, to new converts to Islam, to Islamic clergy, and others.

Basically, in any wealthy Muslim country there is an awful lot of zakat money floating about, handed over by individuals as a matter of duty rather than choice. Inevitably, a portion of this cash will be purloined by people who will use it to further their own nefarious agendas. We see the same thing happening in governments: individuals are forced to hand over taxes ostensibly to pay for police, schools, and the army but the money gets hijacked and ends up going on diversity coordinators, lame arts projects, and the housing of child refugees with full beards and impressive combat records.

If you flood a place with money from a source which doesn’t get to say how it’s spent, you’ll lose control of it. If you lose control, some of it will get spent in ways you don’t like. I suspect a lot of this Saudi funding of terrorism is simply zakat money handed over to a charity in all innocence, and then dispersed by people who have made quite an art of diverting funds to extremist groups under the cover of legitimate, peaceful activities. That’s not to say there is no blatant funding of extremists going on in Saudi, but if you really want to tackle the issue you’ll have to either remove the obligation to pay zakat or ensure it is only distributed to groups which have been subject to thorough due diligence such that every Riyal can be accounted for.

Good luck with that.

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Appeasement

Three things caught my attention yesterday, all to do with appeasement.

Firstly Brendan O’Neill:

Islam now enjoys the same kind of moral protection from blasphemy and ridicule that Christianity once (wrongly) enjoyed. All last week, for example, I received furious emails and messages in response to two articles I wrote about the Manchester attack, telling me I was wrong to defend the use of the phrase ‘Islamist extremism’. That term has an Islamophobic bent to it, we’re told. It demeans Islam and its adherents by suggesting they have something to do with terrorism. You should just say ‘extremism’, not ‘Islamist extremism’. Don’t ever name the extremism, don’t label it, because you might hurt people’s feelings.

This is incredibly dangerous. This censorious flattery of Islam is, in my view, a key contributor to the violence we have seen in recent years. Because when you constantly tell people that any mockery of their religion is tantamount to a crime, is vile and racist and unacceptable, you actively invite them, encourage them in fact, to become intolerant. You license their intolerance. You inflame their violent contempt for anyone who questions their dogmas. You provide a moral justification for their desire to punish those who insult their religion.

Next Theodore Dalrymple in the WSJ:

Instead, we have gone in for what a Dutch friend of mine calls “creative appeasement.” Authorities make concessions even before, one suspects, there have been any demands for them. Thus, a public library in Birmingham, one of the largest known to me, has installed women-only tables, a euphemism for Muslim women only. Whether there was ever a request or demand for sex-segregated seating from Muslims is probably undiscoverable; truth seldom emerges from a public authority. But the justification would almost certainly be that without such tables, Muslim women would not be able to use the library at all.

The Birmingham airport has set aside a room for wudu, the Muslim ablutions before prayer. No other religion is catered for in this fashion (nor should they be, in my opinion), so the impression is inevitably given that Islam is in some way favored or privileged. Again, it would be difficult to find out whether they received requests or demands for such a room or merely anticipated them; in either case, weakness is advertised.

This is not a local problem alone. Many European airports now set aside a room for “meditation.” The icon used to indicate it almost always carries more of an Islamic connotation than any other. A friend told me that when she went into one such room, she was told by a Muslim to remove her shoes, ecumenism being, of course, a one-way street.

Finally, the Cheshire Police (via Twitter):

Somebody please tell me what side our ruling class is on, because it sure as hell isn’t ours.

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Dick-waving across the sands

Well, the Qataris seem to have upset some people, haven’t they?

It looks to me as though this is less about terrorism as two regional powers wrangling for influence. Thanks to its enormous oil wealth, Saudi Arabia has for years been able to buy influence all over the world. e.g. funding madrasses housing extremist preachers, but also paying off governments to turn a blind eye to its rather questionable domestic, regional, and international policies. Iran has always squared off against Saudi for regional supremacy, but insofar as majority Sunni nations go, none of the others could come close to matching Saudi’s wealth and influence.

Then a couple of decades ago Qatar tripped over a giant unassociated gas field at the time LNG was becoming a big thing, and before too long we had Qataris popping up everywhere spending money and buying influence just as the Saudis did: Al-Jazeera media, Qatar Airways, the 2022 FIFA world cup, sponsorship of Barcelona football club, and the London Shard are among the most prominent of the little-known desert nation’s attempts to gain international recognition.

It has been obvious for a long time that Qatar had hoped to match Saudi Arabia in terms of buying influence and raising prestige abroad, and they were able to do so thanks to a much smaller population (2.2m versus Saudi’s 32m), which makes them much easier to buy off and/or control and leaves more surplus cash. Qatar also hoped to compete with Dubai as a regional hub where westerners can do business without feeling they are in a backward, oppressive shithole – as Abu Dhabi was also trying to do.

But like Saudi Arabia, Qatar has never quite been able to shake off accusations that it funds extremist groups and shelters terrorists. The Chechen leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was living in Doha when the Russians assassinated him, and rumours are always circulating that known terrorists are permitted to hide out in, or even operate out of, Qatar in return for ensuring the country isn’t attacked. I have no idea whether this is the case or not, and obviously I have no proof that Qatar sponsors terrorism, but I would not be in the least bit surprised if both were true, and I am quite certain that whatever Qatar is doing, Saudi Arabia has been doing the same thing for much longer.

Again like the Saudis,Qatar has managed to deflect most of the accusations by making sure they stand four-square alongside the Americans. ExxonMobil are heavily involved in the gigantic QatarGas II development, and have been the major international partner of Qatar Petroleum (the state oil and gas company) throughout the rise of the country’s LNG industry and subsequent enrichment. Whatever happens during this spat, we can be sure Rex Tillerson will know everyone involved on the Qatari side very well indeed.

Perhaps more importantly, Qatar is host to the biggest American military base in the Middle East. Something that rarely got mentioned in the discussions surrounding Al-Qa’eda and 9/11 is that Osama bin Laden’s primary motivation was his outrage at Saudi Arabia hosting American troops on its sacred soil during the first Gulf War, and subsequently keeping them there afterwards. The Saudis downplayed it, but the American army’s presence in their country was causing serious domestic resentment towards the ruling classes, but were more afraid of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s forces. As soon as Saddam Hussein was kicked out of power in the Iraq War, the American forces departed for Qatar. This was an enormously significant shift – and one that serves as proof that Saddam Hussein’s neighbours genuinely thought him a threat, even if liberal journalists in New York didn’t. But it also shifted the balance of power in the Gulf towards Qatar and away from Saudi Arabia. With Qatar being America’s base in the region, it had some leverage with which to deflect criticism of its conduct.

I suspect that, following Trump’s successful visit to Riyadh and his warnings about Islamic terrorism, the Saudis have taken the opportunity to take their uppity minnow neighbour down a peg or two, bringing along Bahrain and the UAE for diplomatic support (who will also be quite happy to see Qatar’s progress hobbled). The Saudis will know they can’t force America to abandon Qatar, but they can point a few fingers, pretend to Trump that they are doing something about terrorism, and reassert themselves as the more responsible of the Sunni petro-states that poison global politics with their money.

When all of this blows over, as I’m sure it will, the Saudis hope they will have gained some prestige and Brownie points at the expense of Qatar, and deflected some criticism in the process. Despite this rift, both Qatar and Saudi Arabia will be firmly united in opposing whatever designs Iran has on the region (although apparently Qatari forces, whatever they were, are pulling out of Yemen).

All in all, it’s just your typical story of treacherous bastards in the Middle East trying to squeeze an inch in on one other.

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If May is McClellan, we risk a Sherman

I was wholly unsurprised to see on French TV that another Islamist terror attack had taken place in London last Friday night. As I have said before, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan was absolutely correct when he said such attacks were simply part and parcel of living in a big city. Especially cities where people like Sadiq Khan are in charge.

Coming so soon after the attack in Manchester, in fact so soon that they’d not even managed to hold the pointless tribute concert for the first lot of dead before the second lot were being stacked up, I sense the British public are getting mighty fed up with this. A few attacks ago it was mainly right-wingers who were getting angry, with the lefties all toeing the government line about it being nothing to do with Islam and even if it is it’s our fault and we should light candles instead of do something meaningful. But I noticed after Manchester that the anger is now becoming universal, with even moderate middle class lefties starting to understand that these attacks will become weekly events unless something changes.

Theresa May has obviously gotten wind of this as well, and with an eye on an election which some polls suggest will be closer than she thought and it ever should be, she came out with this:

We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change and they need to change in four important ways.

First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism.

Possibly taking Donald Trump’s lead, May actually used the words “Islamist extremism”. To my knowledge, this is about as close as any western leader bar Trump has come to actually naming the problem. Unfortunately, she then undoes her own statement by saying:

It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.

Either Theresa May is an authority on Islam or she is simply parroting the same line every politician wheels out after an Islamist terror attack in the hope she won’t be called racist or upset “moderate” Muslims.

It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence and make them understand that our values – pluralistic British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.

And what values would they be, then? Freedom of speech? Freedom of association? Freedom to offend? Freedom from being totally fucked over by an incompetent state who considers itself infallible? If our own leaders – including Theresa May herself – work overtime to undermine these values, why would even moderate Muslims subscribe to them, let alone the headcases? As I said here:

If our leadership – and I use that term loosely – lacks the conviction to uphold the principles which supposedly define the West, why the hell should we expect Muslims to come out in support of them?

The ruling classes in the west have absolutely no confidence in their own culture, traditions, and institutions to the extent they are actively destroying them in the name of progress – yet they expect foreigners to abandon their own and adopt ours.

Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide.

Ah right. This is where we get down to it. In order to get lunatic Islamists to adhere to British values we need to spy on the whole population. I expect a badly worded, draconian law will be rushed through parliament handing sweeping new powers to any state body that wants it on the grounds it will only be used in the most extreme cases, and within twelve months it’ll be used to jail a white man with tattoos for posting an offensive football chant on a fansite. If this is Theresa May’s answer to jihadist terror attacks, then she is very much part of the problem.

We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.

Cynics among us would say we’d be better off preventing jihadists from claiming asylum in Britain and allowing them to return to war zones to continue the fight.

Yes, that means taking military action to destroy Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Because military action has turned out so well in recent years, hasn’t it? How about we stop letting jihadists in, and deporting/jailing those we already have?

While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations.

You could start by explaining why you did nothing about this as Home Secretary, and instead viewed the ordinary British population as the enemy to be contained. Or is that a bit too embarrassing? And stamping out extremism: that’ll mean more arrests for offensive tweets, then.

But the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism, and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom.

Insofar as I can see a split in the country it is between the ruling elites and everybody else. I repeat: May and her ilk are very much part of the problem.

So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.

Which will be immediately used to keep ordinary people in line when the next wave of terrorist attacks occur. Does this woman think we’re completely stupid?

And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorist-related offences – even apparently less serious offences – that is what we will do.

And the decision to make something a terrorist-related offence will fall to plod. Expect ordinary people to be threatened with twenty years inside for failing to show enough deference to costumed thugs. Meanwhile the jihadists will continue on their merry way.

Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would.

Except the ruling classes, who will double their security detail at taxpayers’ expense.

We must come together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and defeat our enemies.

Who’s we, paleface?

The ZMan had a good line on May’s speech:

What was revealed by this speech is that outside of the public eye, the people in charge of Britain have no emotional or moral attachment to the British people. As far as they are concerned, the people are just a burden, whether it is the hyper-violent oogily-boogily people that arrive over the channel or the native Brits.

The whole post is worth a read and, as is often the case with ZMan’s posts, there were several paragraphs I could have chosen to quote.

The bottom line is that, as I have been saying for a while now, the political classes might not be on the side of the jihadists exactly, but they are not on our side either. For all the talk about how we should be grateful to the police for responding to the attacks within 8 minutes and shooting the terrorists dead – and that is impressive – let’s not forget that they’d be just as enthusiastic in doing the same to us if our ruling classes demanded it. These are, after all, the same sort of people who sent a helicopter to a house where a song about Osama bin Laden was being played over a karaoke machine and arrested the occupants. Anyone who thinks police officers, or at least those who pay them, are on the side of the British public will delude themselves only until they step outside the guidelines of approved behaviour.

Theresa May reminds me in a way of George McClellan. The firm favourite of the ruling classes to lead the Union Army in the early stages of the American Civil War, he proved himself to be utterly useless except when it came to dithering and making excuses. Meanwhile the Confederate generals, who both knew how to fight and actually wanted to, ran rings around him. It took more than a year’s worth of defeats, blunders, and missed opportunities before Lincoln had had enough and fired him. Eventually the Union got its act together and employed the likes of William Sherman to ensure the South was not only defeated but utterly crushed, but it took them a while to get there. The point is people like Sherman, and the methods they employed, would never have been considered while the ruling classes preferred people like McClellan. It was only when events forced their hand did they change their minds.

At some point, May and the ruling classes will have to be removed and replaced by somebody willing to do the job of ridding the country of jihadist terror. It would be nice if this could be avoided by May & Co. actually doing the job, but it would also have been nice if McClellan won the war for the Union so people like Sherman didn’t need to get involved. The trouble is, in the case of McClellan there was little doubt that Lincoln wanted to win the war and was on the side of the Union. If only there was such clarity of position among our own ruling classes.

Nevertheless, May’s position is fast becoming untenable. The reason why she will win the election this week is because the position of the alternative candidates – and indeed all the ruling classes – are becoming untenable. Once May is PM next week it is only a matter of time before there is another attack. Cracking down on the internet will not prevent it, and nor will anything else that the ruling classes are threatening the general population with. May will have to answer to an increasingly angry population, and things might get so bad that even Brexit takes a back seat to vans full of jihadists mowing down pedestrians on London’s bridges. I doubt she will have the faintest idea of what to do other than to repeat what she said the other day.

The Americans showed signs of losing faith in their ruling classes by electing Trump, a household name but nevertheless a political outsider who promised to do things differently. Another few terror attacks in the UK and we might see the same over there. I have an inkling that the next prime minister, or perhaps the one after that, will be somebody who few today have ever heard of but won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Eventually, the population is going to insist their own Sherman is handed the task of stopping these attacks, the consequences be damned.

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Dirty Hands

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.

H. L. Mencken

Indeed, and such tempting times are coming around rather too often these days.

A couple of weeks ago The ZMan put up a post on the subject of Venezuela, in which he observed:

The other thing worth mentioning is Venezuelans are not campus snowflakes. The murder rate is twice that of our worst cities. It’s hard to know the exact figures. The government is so corrupt, no one can trust their numbers. Even so, it is one of the most dangerous countries on earth. It is safe to assume that the people are willing to employ rough justice, but somehow they are unable to do anything about their government. There are protests and minor street rebellions, but not at a level high enough to destabilize the government.

I thought about this for a few days and eventually took it up with a Venezuelan colleague, who reckoned the middle classes are the ones protesting and the violent underclasses have yet to be completely hacked off with the government. This makes as much sense as any other explanation. Of course, even the violent underclasses are not suicidal and won’t attack the government head-on. Trying to climb the palace gates or charge a tank is stupid, and will get you killed. But perhaps they may not have to.

In looking at the footage of the protests in Venezuela, I wondered how the police were staying loyal and firing on the protesters. Presumably they are being paid, and the pay is worth it. Thus far, nobody has made them rethink this position. It appears that the police (and judges, and other agents of the government) can do their job and then go home at night without being too worried that their house has been burned down with their wife and kids inside. But if you look at Colombia in the 1980s or swathes of present-day Mexico, you can see that forcing people to rethink their day-jobs is quite possible.

However, in both Colombia and Mexico it took the opposition moving beyond mere protests and criminality into forming paramilitaries. Moving things closer to home, this is exactly what the IRA (or more accurately, the PIRA) did in Northern Ireland: formed a paramilitary and started picking off soldiers, policemen, judges, lawyers, and others who they believed were representatives of the government. They even attacked their families, thus raising the stakes even higher.

Unlike the Venezuelans, the IRA weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and resort to murder and intimidation. Perhaps we’re dealing with different cultures or a different situation, or perhaps – as my Venezuelan mate suggested – a different class of people. I didn’t know any IRA paramilitaries, but I can’t imagine they were middle class. One of the more minor reasons they lost their grip on the place was that the province got wealthier and the middle class grew: it’s easier for paramilitaries to recruit hordes of young men with no prospects, less so if they’re going off to university and into engineering jobs immediately after.

Clearly a lot of people are upset by the terrorist atrocity in Manchester, just as they were by the other dozen or so massacres that Islamists have carried out in Europe in the last few years. Nobody expects anything to change, and they won’t until the population has had enough. The government isn’t going to change anything, and – as Brendon O’Neill’s piece implied – their chief concern is the masses getting so angry that they start demanding something be done. So far the government has managed to keep a lid on things, but as these terrorist attacks keep mounting up and the same meaningless platitudes are mumbled by police and politicians after each atrocity, the harder this will be.

At this point, the British government will be hoping that the outrage over Islamic terrorism doesn’t get taken up by those who are willing to get their hands dirty and are competent. So far it is a section of the middle classes and a handful of rather dense skinheads who are the most upset, and neither poses much threat to a policeman smashing in somebody’s door for posting something nasty about Muslims on Twitter.

I noticed this morning that the army is being deployed around the country at “sensitive sites”, which I expect means places where politicians hang out. When the British first sent the army into Northern Ireland it was ostensibly to protect Catholics from Protestant violence, and they were welcomed by the Catholic communities. This didn’t last long, and soon British soldiers were seen as very much the enemy. The Royal Ulster Constabulary was ostensibly neutral but the IRA – perhaps with some justification – believed they were firmly on the side of the Protestants, who enjoyed the backing of the mainland government. This meant that The Troubles were as much about the maiming and murder of policemen and soldiers as unionist Protestants. It will be interesting to see what the army’s mission is, and whether this will evolve in a worrying manner, e.g. British soldiers being asked to “protect” hotbeds of Islamic extremism.

I think we’re about to enter into what will prove to be a rather interesting period of British history, in which two questions will be answered:

1) Are there enough people in Britain willing to get their hands dirty, as the IRA were?

2) Will they make policemen, politicians, and possibly even soldiers pay a heavy price for doing their jobs?

I am unsure about 1), but I suspect the answer is no. The middle classes are too large, their lives too comfortable, and they have little experience of violence. The criminal classes are happy to dish out the violence, but as in Venezuela they are not much interested in politics and aren’t going to take up the cudgels on behalf of anyone else.

But if the answer to 1) is yes, then I suspect the answer to 2) will also be yes. The first sign of things going badly wrong in Britain might not be a mob firebombing a mosque but a policeman or judge winding up in a ditch, throat cut, with a note stuffed in his pocket.

Either way, this isn’t going to end well.

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The Post-Terror Narrative

I didn’t bother to comment on the terror attack in Manchester because I said everything after the last one, and I know what is coming next (nothing). This Jihad Fatigue is a bugger to shake.

However, this article by Brendan O’Neill in Spiked is worth reading:

It is becoming clear that the top-down promotion of a hollow ‘togetherness’ in response to terrorism is about cultivating passivity. It is about suppressing strong public feeling. It’s about reducing us to a line of mourners whose only job is to weep for our fellow citizens, not ask why they died, or rage against their dying. The great fear of both officialdom and the media class in the wake of terror attacks is that the volatile masses will turn wild and hateful. This is why every attack is followed by warnings of an ‘Islamophobic backlash’ and heightened policing of speech on Twitter and gatherings in public: because what they fundamentally fear is public passion, our passion. They want us passive, empathetic, upset, not angry, active, questioning. They prefer us as a lonely crowd of dutiful, disconnected mourners rather than a real collective of citizens demanding to know why our fellow citizens died and how we might prevent others from dying. We should stop playing the role they’ve allotted us.

Go read the whole thing.

 

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