India and Pakistan Going to War Would Make the Migrant Crisis Look like a Tea Party

TOPSHOT - Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan says is the wreckage of an Indian fighter jet shot down in Pakistan controled Kashmir at Somani area in Bhimbar district near the Line of Control on February 27, 2019. - Pakistan said on February 27 it shot down two Indian …
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India and Pakistan are teetering on the brink of war again.

This is a fairly regular occurrence: since Partition in 1947, there have been four actual Indo-Pakistan wars (1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999). The fact that most of us aren’t aware of this says more about our ignorance of Indian subcontinental geopolitics than it does about the seriousness of the conflicts. The seventeen-day war in 1965, for example, saw the largest tank battle since the Second World War; the one in 1971 saw Pakistan lose half its navy, a quarter of its air force and a third of its army.

The worry about this latest bout of aggression – which started with the St Valentine’s Day massacre of 40 Indian paramilitary troops in Kashmir by a suicide bomber and has now escalated with the shooting down of an Indian fighter jet – is that both nations are so much more populous, powerful and swaggeringly aggressive, and have points to prove.

India has a population of 1.3 billion.

Pakistan’s is 208 million.

Read the rest on Breitbart.

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The Iliad, by Homer, Translated by E.V. Rieu

A century ago this review would have been unnecessary. As a civilised, educated person you would already have been more than familiar with Homer’s Iliad – probably in the original Greek. Perhaps, like the doomed poet Rupert Brooke, you would have declaimed it across the Aegean on your way to Gallipoli; or carried the copy you won as a school prize to the trenches, as both consolation and inspiration. It is, after all, the first and arguably greatest work in Western literature about men and war.

So why is it so relatively little-read today? One reason, perhaps, is that it has become a victim of its own near-legendary status. It has a reputation so dauntingly huge that few dare broach it for fear of being either tragically disappointed or bored rigid by its epic worthiness.

WRITTEN SOMETIME BETWEEN 760 AND 710 BC, AND ORIGINALLY DESIGNED, OF COURSE, TO BE RECITED RATHER THAN READ, THE ILIAD CAME BEFORE THE MAIN GREEK PHILOSOPHERS, THE ROMAN EMPIRE, CHRISTIANITY, THE RENAISSANCE AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT. THIS IS WESTERN CIVILISATION IN ITS RAWEST, WILDEST, MOST UNTUTORED STATE.

But The Iliad, which I read only in full (and in E.V. Rieu’s Penguin translation) myself the other day, is not remotely disappointing, boring or worthy. For lovers of literature it’s a thrilling opportunity to witness the birth of the canon, for movie buffs it’s a chance to meet those Greek gods and heroes in their original incarnations, for war enthusiasts it has violence that makes Saving Private Ryan look like Mary Poppins, and for drugs connoisseurs it’s quite possibly the trippiest thing you’ll experience outside the influence of LSD.

It’s a strange, fragmentary work which begins ­in ­medias res. The Trojan wars have been raging for years in virtual stalemate, with the Greeks still camped by their ships on the beach, and the Trojans still secure in their city of Ilium.

At this point the Greeks are in trouble. Though fate has decided they’re eventually going to win, they’ve just lost their best fighter – the arrogant, petulant, angry, fickle, cruel and deeply unlikeable Achilles – who has downed tools and retired to his tent in an epic sulk, ­having ­been slighted by King Agamemnon, who has stolen his mistress.

We have entered a world whose values and outlook predate almost all the cultural influences that have shaped the way we think. Written sometime between 760 and 710 BC, and originally designed, of course, to be recited rather than read, The Iliad came before the main Greek philosophers, the Roman Empire, Christianity, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. This is Western civilisation in its rawest, wildest, most untutored state.

What, then, are its priorities? One, definitely, is piety. Neglect the gods, who control everything, and you are doomed. Show them real devotion, on the other hand, and they’ll see you right, as for example Zeus does to his beloved Achilles. (Well, until Achilles’s luck runs out – as the Fates have decreed it must, for not even gods can overrule the Fates). There’s a delightful moment in Book One, where Homer describes in loving detail how an ox is ritually slaughtered and its choicest bits are cooked over an open fire, put on skewers and offered to gods. “Wow,” you think. “This is literature’s first kebab barbecue.”

Equally important is personal courage. This, remember, is the Age of Heroes and wars appear to be won not by massed troops in disciplined formation, but rather by the extraordinary prowess of mighty individuals. They operate according to a pagan rule book rather shocking till you get used to it. For example, having killed their enemy in single combat their aim is to strip him of his valuable armour and then mutilate his body. In order to avoid this collective dishonour, those on the opposing side will resist with equal ferocity. “But he’s dead, it’s over!” you want to protest. No one’s listening to you, though. Their world, their weird code.

Read the rest at the Conservative.

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‘…And Consequently This Country Is At War With Germany.’

germany
AP/Matt Dunham

Germany has effectively declared war on Britain via its EU functionaries. How should Britain respond? Well, I can see at least three good reasons for accepting their challenge.

  1. We got in lots of practice from 1914 to 1918 and again from 1939 and 1945. Plus, unlike the Germans, we’re still pretty match fit from Iraq and Afghanistan. So the next one should be a walkover.
  2. The German military is fat, unfit and swarming with peaceniks who have been brainwashed by an education system which for the last 70 years has been teaching them that “war is bad, m’kay?”
  3. Free men always fight better than slaves. (See, e.g., Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture). Germans really have nothing left worth fighting for: they are ruled by an elective dictatorship; their country is no longer theirs.

But I think if we are going to make absolutely sure of winning this one, there’s one thing we’re going to have to do first: dismantle the BBC.

Anyone who watched the BBC Nine O’Clock News last night with Laura Kuenssberg will know exactly what I’m talking about here.

Usually, BBC star reporters attempt at least a half-hearted gesture at pretending to be politically neutral in their reportage. But last night, on the BBC’s lead comment item on Britain’s Brexit negotiations, Kuenssberg was so flagrantly partisan that she might as well have done to the strains of Ode to Joy while draped in the blue and gold-starred Euro flag and wearing a huge badge saying “I heart Jean-Claude Juncker.”

Let’s just briefly recap on what has happened so far:

Theresa May invited President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker and his entourage to dinner at 10 Downing Street. Though it was reportedly all smiles on the occasion itself, afterwards a very different version of events was leaked to a German newspaper – possibly by Juncker himself, more likely by his sinister chief of staff, a German lawyer and dark arts practitioner called Martin Selmayr.

According to this German version of events, the evening had been desastrose” and “eine Katastrophe.” Juncker had made it clear that “Brexit cannot be a success” and had – after some characteristically ill-mannered remarks about British cuisine – left dinner feeling “ten times more sceptical” about the prospects of a smooth Brexit transition. Juncker then reportedly phoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel to tell her that Mrs May was “living in a different galaxy” and “deluded.” At which point Mrs Merkel could have chosen to pour oil on troubled waters by insisting that as far as Germany was concerned the only aim was to find a Brexit agreement satisfactory to all parties. But she didn’t. Instead, Mrs Merkel stuck in the knife by making a speech to the German parliament warning that Mrs May should drop her “illusions”.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

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Open at Last

With the civil war over, the north of Sri Lanka is now a wonderful new frontier for holidays.

  • Northern tip of Sri Lanka was closed to tourists, but is now an adventure
  • It’s a little battle-worn but there’s plenty of colourful temples to be seen
  • You can also go to one of the many game reserves and see elephants 

Sri Lanka

Promise me, dad, that you’ll never take us anywhere tropical ever again!’ said my 14-year-old daughter. This is not what you want to hear when you have forked out for the trip of a lifetime to Sri Lanka.

But I knew what she meant. Along with her similarly unimpressed 16-year-old brother and stoical mother, she had been dragged by her cruel father away from the comforts of the lush southern half of Sri Lanka, with its white beaches and boutique hotels, to the northern-most tip of the island, which couldn’t be more different.

Arid, burning hot and scarred by bullet holes, this was the region that saw the bloodiest fighting in the 25-year civil war between government forces and the Tamil Tigers. Until 2009, it was closed to tourists and even now is an adventure.

Read the rest in the Daily Mail.

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Cameron’s Latest Desperate Threat: Vote Remain or Get World War III

But they won’t last long for their cute little eyes will already have been burned out by the nuclear fireball that flattened every house in the city and turned every human – kids especially: the most promising, pretty and best-behaved ones will have died first, probably, weeping for their lost future – into a greasy pile of blackened bones which smelt very briefly of roast pork but now smells like the worst word in the history of lexicography… Brexit!

Or so Prime Minister David Cameron has been telling the world today in his latest escalation of Project Fear.

“Can we be so sure peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt? Is that a risk worth taking? I would never be so rash to make that assumption… What happens in our neighbourhood matters to Britain. That was true in 1914, 1940, 1989…. and it is true in 2016.”

With the shameless chutzpah and disingenuousness we’ve come to expect from the Remain camp, Cameron’s Foreign Secretary then went on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme to explain why Cameron’s speech certainly wasn’t saying anything as crass and literal as “if you vote for Brexit you’ll end up with war.”

Oh certainly not.

That’ll be why, to emphasise that this wasn’t remotely what he meant, Cameron invoked “serried rows of white headstones in lovingly tended Commonwealth war cemeteries”, “Blenheim. Trafalgar. Waterloo. Our country’s heroism in the Great War”, and Winston Churchill.

Nope. No veiled war references there then. No wrapping himself in the Union flag and English history in order to make the ludicrous suggestion that a vote for continued membership of the growing European superstate is a vote for patriotism, courage and tradition.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

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We Know War Is Hell. But It Doesn’t Stop Us Wanting to Do It

There’s a plausible theory — recently rehearsed in the BBC’s excellent two-part documentary The Lion’s Last Roar? — that our war in Afghanistan was largely the creation of the Army, which sorely needed a renewed sense of military purpose after the debacle in Iraq. As a taxpayer, this appals me. As the parent of a boy approaching conscription age it horrifies me. But as an Englishman, it doesn’t half make me proud that we’ll still do anything — up to and including embroiling ourselves in a futile conflict — rather than admit we’re finished as a fighting nation.

Though we joke about having beaten Germany twice at their national sport in the first part of the 20th century, the truth is that we need our wars at least as much as they do. Yes, we know that war is hell: we’ve seen Saving Private Ryan and Fury; we’ve watched the funeral processions at Royal Wootton Bassett; we’ve been steeped since school in the poetry of Owen and Sassoon. But it’s never anywhere near enough to make us vow ‘Never again’ and perhaps the weekend’s commemorative programming offered an inkling as to why.

Take the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance (BBC1, Saturday) — a sort of military-themed variety show performed at the Royal Albert Hall before the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prime Minister. It ought to have been excruciating: tacky, ponderous, bombastic. Despite such jarring combinations as a rock performance by Jeff Beck and Joss Stone, the puppets from War Horse and a sea shanty composed and sung by Jim Radford, the youngest man to have served in the D-Day landings (he was 15) — the whole affair was quite irresistibly moving. We love our military — and there’s an end to it.

I had my initial reservations, too, about Tony Robinson’s World War One (Discovery, Sunday). The premise, I feared, was a bit flimsy: here are some 3D photographs from the first world war that have never before been shown on television. (Wow!) Plus, of course, there was the inevitable concern that Labour luvvie Baldrick might impose all the fashionable bien-pensant preoccupations of the modern age on an era when people thought and felt very differently.

But I needn’t have worried. Of the myriad first world war documentaries I’ve seen this year, Robinson’s was one of the clearest and most accessible: a mix of travelogue, expert guidance (including some fine exegesis from Max Hastings, who doesn’t often do these things), re-enactors in 1914 kit (with the Tommy wearing a moustache — as, astonishingly, was compulsory for the first two years of the war) and enthusiastic accounts by battlefield tour guides. You came away with the — probably correct — impression that the first world war was entirely unnecessary. But it was never less than respectful towards — nor, on occasion, properly excited about — the courage, endurance and self-sacrifice of the poor sods at the sharp end.

Then there was The Great War: an Elegy — a Culture Show Special (BBC1, Saturday) in which Simon Armitage examined the war from the perspective of seven characters, including a nurse, a captured flier who’d successfully tunnelled out of his PoW camp, and a remarkable fellow called Arthur Heath, one of the most brilliant intellectuals of his generation, who had been killed at 28.

For each one, Armitage wrote a poem (he’s good: perhaps too good ever to be poet laureate), my favourite of which was the one inspired by Heath, meditating on the vast array of talent so cruelly and pointlessly snuffed out before its time, and what these people might have achieved if only they had lived. ‘The faint of heart won’t want to trawl through a mud bath strewn with body parts. An architect’s hand, a surgeon’s rib, an explorer’s foot still laced in its boot, the flaxen shock of an actor’s hair, an artist’s eye, a composer’s ear…’

Read the rest at The Spectator

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When the world ends, will I know how to cook our cat?

‘Oh God, you realise if it gets really bad we might have to end up eating that,’ I said, meaning our fat cat Runty.

The Fawn started making upset noises. She’s very fond of Runty. My problem wouldn’t be so much the sentimental aspect as the practical one. Just how do you go about skinning and cooking a cat, when the power’s most likely to be gone and you’re long since out of barbecue charcoal? Which bits are safe to eat? Does it taste like chicken?

‘Don’t be ridiculous. It’s never going to get that bad,’ she said.

‘How do you know?’ I said.

‘Well London would need to be under siege for that to happen.’

‘Not necessarily. They ate cat in France during the War. Lapin sans tête.’

‘There’s not going to be a war.’

‘How do you know?’ I said.

I expect that all over Britain there are couples having similar conversations. All over the world, in fact, because it’s not as though they’re any better off in the US or Greece or even China. Armageddon is coming and it’s no longer a question of ‘What if?’ but ‘Just how bad will it be?’ and ‘Exactly what form of particular vileness will it take?’

Not, I would concede, that this is the majority view at the moment. Or at least the acknowledged majority view. I rang my uncle the other day. I said: ‘Do you realise how stuffed we are and have you made plans?’

He said: ‘Oh, I can’t be bothered with all that.

If it happens it happens.’ Our lawyer friends down the road take a similar line. But then they belong to that class which has grown so rich off the fat of the state that they’ve long been cushioned from economic reality.

Mark Steyn has the number of this parasite class in his brilliant and magnificently depressing new book, After America. He deconstructs a letter quoted by President Obama in his first State of the Union address, from a schoolgirl named Ty’Sheoma Bethea.

‘We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world, ‘ it said, in between begging for more federal aid for her run-down school.

Why, Steyn wonders, should such a missive should be cited as any kind of model?

For one thing, instead of trying to change the world, shouldn’t this girl trying to concentrate on more practical, realisable issues like trying to improve her crummy school and rundown town? (As P.

J. O’Rourke once put it: ‘Everybody wants to save the earth. Nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.’) And for another, what’s with this lawyer/ doctor/congressman stuff? ‘Is there no one in Miss Bethea’s school who’d like to be an entrepreneur, an inventor, a salesman, a generator of wealth? Someone’s got to make the dough the government’s already spent.’

This is a problem, perhaps the great problem of our times: the increasing gulf between those who actually create value and those who merely leech off their backs.

What makes it so intractable is that so few in our heavily socialised post-war entitlement culture are even aware that it’s a problem. We’re beginning dimly to become aware of at least some of the unwelcome passengers our economy is carrying: the union officials we pay £68 ­million to devise new ways to charge us more for public services; all those people off work with ‘back trouble’ splurging their welfare on green fees and gym club membership; local councillors and their expenses. But these are just the tip of the iceberg.

The figures quoted by Steyn from the US are terrifying enough: in 2009, the average civilian employee of the United States government earned $81,258 in salary, plus $41,791 in benefits. Total: $123,049. The average American employed in the private sector earned $50,462 in salary plus $10,589 in benefits. Total: $61,051. So you can imagine how things worse are in Europe, where the size of the economy taken up by the state is a good 10 per cent higher.

Is this sustainable? Well it might be in its more commonly used Marxist redistributionist sense of the word, as in ‘sustainable development’. But in its original sense, no it’s not. Obviously it’s not. You can’t have an ever larger unproductive sector of an economy crippling the productive sector. Not even if that unproductive sector are really nice people like my lovely lawyer friends down the road who work in ‘compliance’ and are only trying to ensure that the myriad wondrous new rules protecting ourselves from doing anything we might want to do are laboriously policed and expensively billed.

Steyn again: ‘By 2005, the costs of federal regulatory compliance alone (that is, not including state or local red tape) were up to $1.13 trillion — or approaching 10 per cent of GDP. In much of America, it takes far more paperwork to start a business than to go on welfare.’

There’s going to be a reckoning. It’ll be ugly. Perhaps in a future column, I might find time to fantasise on what possible happy outcomes might emerge. Not in this one, though. In this, I can offer nothing but despair.

Working out how to skin a cat, it seems to me, is going to be the least of our worries. In Britain, I foresee power shortages caused by our suicidal drive for ‘renewable energy’; I see further riots — made worse by pusillanimous policing — followed by a still nastier, compensatory backlash of fascistic martial law; I see punitive tax rates as the government — still in a state of denial — tries to shore up its discredited model; I see an economy heading towards Soviet levels of stagnation and waste. And until then, I foresee an awful lot of arguments with the Fawn.

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2 thoughts on “When the world ends, will I know how to cook our cat?”

  1. julied says:14th October 2011 at 12:09 pmI would have thought skinning a cat is much like skinning a rabbit.
  2. Shevva October 13th, 2011 9:57am Once the cat’s run out do we move onto dog’s then horse’s and finally civil servant’s or can we just jump to the main course?
  3. john east October 13th, 2011 4:21pm I must be a very weird person. I remember, as long ago as the 1960’s when in my teens, seeing some of my friends living romantic, bohemian lives as hippies and drop outs, and desparately envying their free sex and happy lifestyles. However, I knew then that they were no better than parasites, and that their lives were unsustainable so I kept my head down continued studying for my engineering degree.

Then in the 70’s and 80’s I was puzzled by how my neighbours could continue living large on credit, new cars, expensive holidays etc., and thinking that if there was such a thing as natural justice, then there must surely come a day of reconning for them.

Well, now in my 60’s that day is here.

Perhaps I should be gloating that being debt free and with plenty of savings and other hard assets my efforts have finally paid off, but I suspect when armaggedon finally unfolds my chances of emerging unscathed are not much better than anyone elses.

So I’ll settle for just being a little smug instead.

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