Ramadan “made in Israel”!

20130808_195648I know it is a bit late now, but I forgot to add this picture I took in a Sainsburys supermarket in Dalston, London, a week or so ago. If you zoom in on the photograph, you’ll be able to see that the dates offered come from Israel. A nice way to celebrate Eid! I wonder what the Sainsburys management team was thinking when they put that stuff out there. Don’t they know that Muslims are generally allergic to something called Israel? At least, for the festivities, include a couple of dates from somewhere else! Out of all countries that can sell you dates, why choose to bring them from that tiny place that calls itself Israel!? This is another example why the claim that UK or Europe adopt policies of “Free Trade” is complete bullocks, to use an expression dear to a British audience. There is always a bit of political logic behind any policy to trade “freely”.

Irony on Downing Street …

“The fear of missing out means today’s media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack,” Mr. Blair declared. “In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out.”

Indeed, St. Antony, indeed. Tell us more about the “fear of missing out.” This isn’t quite what I had in mind when I heard about his “lurching,” but I do have a thing for feral beasts, even poodles who busy themselves chasing their own tail.

Has the Race Begun …?

I cannot help but think that the very public beating Bandar Bush is taking may be a sign that the race for the Saudi throne has begun. While much of the fighting will take place behind the scenes, it will be interesting to see how changes in the role of the Saudi regime in international affairs will require some of the grandsons to duke this out very publicly. Stay tuned.

Goldsmith on Human Rights …

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, is facing accusations that he told the Army its soldiers were not bound by the Human Rights Act when arresting, detaining and interrogating Iraqi prisoners.

Previously confidential emails, seen by The Independent, between London and British military head-quarters in Iraq soon after the start of the war suggest Lord Goldsmith’s advice was to adopt a “pragmatic” approach when handling prisoners and it was not necessary to follow the ” higher standards” of the protection of the Human Rights Act.

BP in Baku …

“It was full of prostitutes and many of us, including me, used them on a regular basis, although we quickly established they all worked for the KGB.”

Bech, Abort Mission, Repeat, Abort Mission …

American officials, citing the number of terror plots in Britain involving Britons with ties to Pakistan, expressed concern over the visa loophole. In recent months, the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, has opened talks with the government here on how to curb the access of British citizens of Pakistani origin to the United States.

Among the options that have been put on the table, according to British officials, was the most onerous option to Britain, that of canceling the entire visa waiver program that allows all Britons entry to the United States without a visa. Another option, politically fraught as it is, would be to single out Britons of Pakistani origin, requiring them to make visa applications for the United States.

Ya bech, proceed to Plan B: Operation Male Nurse. Instructions to follow …

This Should Be Fun …

Giving the Callaghan lecture in Cardiff, the prime minister admitted he had been “lurching into total frankness” in the final weeks of his premiership.

Poodles, however, don’t lurch, they scurry …

Game, Set, Match …

Friends, the Iranians have just done what 1,000,000 speeches at the Arab League Summit never could. And if I may be expansive and hyperbolic for a moment, let me say that American era in the Middle East just saw its first curtain fall. The grotesque spectacle that is Iraq will be next. Let’s see if I have to eat my words, but creative instability indeed. Let’s also hope that the grey-beards in Israel are paying attention. Yes, I am serious, kind of.

And a Cherry on Top …

Ahmadinejad today in fact asked Blair not to punish the sailors for their remarks on Iranian television in which he said they told the “truth” about intruding into Iranian waters.

Whether in diplomacy or dodge ball, there is no beating strategic depth …

Christmas Come Early …

Hopefully it won’t be long until I am home to get ready for Molly’s birthday party with a present from the Iranian people.

I wanna get taken hostage by Iran …!

More seriously, Iranian propaganda has me impressed. Yes, it is ham-fisted (when is propaganda not?), but it really does the trick. Expect the Iranians to milk the “hostage crisis” — not a crisis at all — for as long as humanly possible.

The Iranian leadership is literally talking its way into being an important country, which certainly must be a more fun way to do it than meeting with Dick Cheney and must be driving the Saudis and Israelis absolutely mad.

Bien joue!

UPDATE: Someone agrees:

Clearly, Tehran’s row with London has had immediate dividends with respect to Iran’s regional clout, causing pro-Iran sympathies in the Arab world. Arabs now see in Iran’s “heroic” standing up to “Western imperialists” a source of much-needed inspiration and hope, in contrast to their own feckless leadership. “The Arabs of the Persian Gulf are now less inclined to join the US and Israel against Iran than they were a mere week ago,” a former Iranian diplomat told the author.

Does Anyone Actually Read …

the British Daily Telegraph, that veritable font of military propaganda …?

And doesn’t chronic incontinence eventually result in dehydration?

Readers will note that the US government is prohibited from disseminating propaganda domestically by the Mundt Act, but it has a free hand overseas (thus VOA and these lovely stories in the British press). I hear that both the CIA and DOD are fairly conscientious in following these legal prohibitions, but these stories like these make the British press look like more of a lackey to US interests than even the British prime minister.

Bech: They’re on to You …

Supermarket checkout staff are being trained by the security services in how to detect potential terrorists. MI5 has been secretly advising food retailers, including Asda and Tesco, on how to identify extremist shoppers … The awareness training for staff also covers bulk sales of toiletries which could be used as the basic ingredient in explosives.

You should never have bought all that toliet paper. What were you thinking!?!

Blair’s Legacy …

There is now a widespread belief in the United Kingdom that Iraq has been the worst disaster in British foreign policy since 1956, when Britain and France invaded Egypt with Israeli help after Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.

Are the sub-editors at the WaPost reading this blog?

Military Revolt …?

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

The propaganda wars are in full swing in the British press. Let the leaks continue …

ADDENDUM: It seems Sy Hersh has prepared an update on US war plans. I think I am on record here saying that Hersh sometimes gets played by his sources and cherry-picks and then over-inflates evidence to fit his particular narrative, but his work is unparalleled here in the US. If it is somewhat conspiratorial in form and content, it seems a necessary evil in the national security state. It is also a bit funny that Nasrallah says he is willing to talk to the Americans, but Jumblatt says he cannot talk to Hizbullah. I had thought Hersh was coming out with a piece on the Hariri assassination. I guess not.

Too Funny …

“I don’t think this was a waste of public money. Many people will say so, but I think it is marvellous that the Government is prepared to think outside the box.”

Has the Poodle Been Unleashed …?

Watchers might want to keep an eye on Tony Blair’s trajectory as he winds down his tenure. First, the troop reduction, and now talking with Hamas?

I have also noticed that British military and intelligence have started a rather consistent whispering campaign over US intentions in Iran. Of course, such things cut both ways (doing the bidding of US warmongers or genuine backlash, you be the judge). But the chattiness is interesting, nonetheless, and may reflect a more carefree attitude on Downing Street.

Of course, what Blair does or does not do, says or does not say, is of little consequence to Anglo-America relations writ-large, but we can expect an endless amount of blather about his “legacy” over the next seven months. I recall that Bill Clinton blamed Arafat for the collapse of Camp David in 2000 in an effort to bolster Barak’s electoral fortunes, so I wonder if Blair has any regrets about not doing more for Gore and then Kerry, as surely he paid a cost in their losses.

Perhaps, though, Blair is not looking toward the past, but rather the future — his squelching of the BAE investigation might be what we of more modest means might call retirement planning. He might very well want to join Aznar on Georgetown’s faculty, which soon might be able to re-enact Iraq war-planning on the university’s front lawn, with all the original players (Tenet, Feith, et al.).

As a side note, or two, I could not but giggle over the Chavez oil deal with London’s mayor (I happen to agree that what we need is a war on traffic, not terror). Also, this web site, presumably sponsored and designed by amateurish Tory hands, might be good for some laughs, as the video “A World Without America” had me in stitches. Whatever Labor’s pathologies, I can only be thankful that the party of Margaret Thatcher is in such utter disarray.

Say Anything …

Military chiefs had been pushing for much bigger cuts in the number of British troops in Iraq than those announced yesterday by Tony Blair, defence officials made clear last night. For months, army commanders have suggested that their presence on the streets of Basra was doing more harm than good … They were forced to agree to a more gradual reduction partly in deference to US sensitivities.

So, how did the White House respond to the news?:

Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, said the announcement was “an affirmation that in parts of Iraq … things are going pretty well“, while the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was keen to stress “the coalition remains intact”.

The prosecution rests.