No, Not The Comfy Chair!

March 31, 2007

The Iranian – Brit conflict is getting ugly.

Not content with forcing their Brit hostages to read out grammatically-challenged “confessions”, the Mullahs’ propaganda broadcasts have exposed not just the poor hostages but the entire world to curtains of mass destruction (aesthetes should avert their eyes):

These curtains are a clear violation of the UN Universal Charter (Aesthetic Section), and Iran deserves the same punishment as the Belgium nation and the Tate Modern.

Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right, so there was no excuse for this brutality:

Britain has sent a written response to the Iranian government regarding the 15 detained sailors and marines, the Foreign Office has said.

And this is quite beyond the boundaries of civilized behavior:

Iran’s ambassador to Russia renewed a threat Iranian officials made earlier this week, saying 15 British sailors held by Iran could be tried for violating international law, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported Saturday.

Gholam-Reza Ansari told Russian television Vesti-24 on Friday that Iran had launched a legal investigation of the British sailors. “They will be tried if there is enough evidence of guilt,” Ansari was quoted by IRNA as saying.

When will this nightmare end?


On The Shortage Of Experienced Suicide Bombers

March 31, 2007

Suicide bombing is dying out because it doesn’t work – probably because all humans have a wired-in sense of fairness.

Suicide bombing shouldn’t be confused with fighting to the death. The latter is integral to the Hawk fighting strategy, and is highly successful – if your opponent thinks you’re ready to die fighting, he may decide to concede.

But the suicide bomber doesn’t offer his (or her) opponents the chance of concession, and has no hope of survival. So from an evolutionary standpoint, the tactic is a dead end.

Here’s the record (my ellipsis and subheads):

Tamil Tigers

The Tamil separatists of Sri Lanka (the LTTE) pioneered the modern use of suicide bombers over twenty years ago.

The LTTE is now being defeated, partly by an enraged Sri Lankan population, and partly dissension and demoralization within their own (presumably much reduced) ranks.


Hizbollah was the next to pick up on suicide bombers. While Hizbollah claims to represent the Shia minority in Lebanon, it has brought itself increasing resistance from the majority of Lebanese by acting in support for foreign nations.

Actually, Hizbollah has largely abandoned suicide bombing, apparently noting the downside of the tactic.


Palestinian terrorists adopted the use of suicide bombing against Israel in 2000.

The Israelis eventually developed tactics that defeated this weapon.

The Palestinian attacks destroyed the substantial support within Israel for a Palestinian peace deal, and increased support for stronger measures against Palestinian terrorism.

Al Qaeda Iraq

Al Qaeda also adopted suicide bomber tactics, particularly in Iraq.

This turned out to be a major error. So many Muslims were killed, particularly women and children, that Arab public opinion turned against al Qaeda.

Even Sunni Arabs in Iraq have been fighting al Qaeda, despite the fact that al Qaeda is committing all this mayhem in the name of Sunni Arabs.

Al Qaeda Pakistan

Al Qaeda began using suicide bombers in Pakistan four years ago, and were promptly taken apart by an enraged Pakistani government, with much public support.

Al Qaeda Afghanistan

In the last six months there have been nearly 80 suicide bombing attacks in Afghanistan, over fifty percent more than in the previous six months. This campaign has been even less successful than previous ones…

Meanwhile, most of the victims are Afghan civilians. Naturally, Afghans see these foreigners (Afghans are difficult to recruit as suicide bombers) as murderers who do not have Afghan interests at heart.


Suicide bombing is described as a weapon of the weak. What it cannot be described as is a weapon of the victorious.

The piece omits the London and Madrid bombings, which caused massive damage to the Muslim communities in both nations.

Or 9/11, which rendered Islam toxic in the US, and ensured the Muslim oil weapon will be blunted much sooner than otherwise.

All of which suggests that the evolutionary biologists are right – our brains really are wired with a sense of fairness.

This England

March 31, 2007

The English have changed for the worse in recent years.

In the process of establishing a base in Italy, we’ve encountered scores of young Brits looking to start businesses there. This is bizarre – our Italian friends say Italy is an awful place to start a business and they start theirs in the UK.

Yet the young Brits keep moving out, lock stock and barrel, and many are succeeding. They say they feel alienated from their own country by un-assimilated immigrants, and can’t stand the “political correctness” of Brit officials.

So the UK is losing its bright, energetic, hopeful young people.

Doctor Theodore Dalrymple, the Hogarth of the our age, has a diagnosis:

My wife, who is French, was attracted to the culture of this country because, as late as 1979 or 1980, the people, including administrators in hospitals, were obviously upright, whatever else their failings might have been.

A quarter of a century later, all that has changed; deviousness, ruthlessness, an eye fixed on the main chance, sanctimony in the midst of obvious wrongdoing, toadying and bullying have become the ruling characteristics of the British people, or at least those of them who are in charge of something.

The old virtues – stoicism, honesty, fortitude, irony, good humour and so forth – can still be found, but only in people who are of no importance, at least in the public administration.

If I may put it very strongly, good people are like a defeated class in this country.

Dalrymple is describing the destruction of social capital.

The problem is not insoluble – the Victorians reversed an equally serious decay, producing the upright Brits that created most of the modern world. They did that because crime and corruption had reached levels unacceptable to them.

Let us hope modern Brits make a similar transition.

South Africa

March 30, 2007

Russia and Indonesia stopped the UN Security Council demanding the immediate return of the Brit hostages. South Africa joined these fear states and here’s why.

Russia is chief weapons supplier to Islamic terror and Indonesia is an Islamic hellhole, so they’re expected foes.

South Africa:

The Security Council’s statement was a watered-down version of a stronger draft sought by Britain to “deplore” Iranian actions and urge the immediate release of the prisoners, primarily because Russia and South Africa opposed putting blame on the Tehran regime, diplomats said.

Here’s what has happened to this once proud nation.

Its population is about 45 million, but falling in spite of immigration. That’s because of its very high HIV death rate – 5th highest in the world – about 21.5% of South African adults have AIDS.

Life expectancy at birth is about 43 years – about the same as England’s in medieval times.

It has the second highest per capita murder rate in the world – about 22,000 annually. Oddly, it doesn’t seem to execute its killers.

It’s only a tad less corrupt than Greece.

Probably in consequence of the above, its economy is smaller than the Netherlands, and – perhaps coincidentally – about the same size as Iran’s.

Unemployment is 25.5% and half of its people live below the poverty line.

These stats show South Africa is converging on Russia, which also has a very high murder rate, low life expectancy (caused by Vodka, not HIV), declining population and high corruption. So it’s hardly surprising the South African elite should line up with Putin against the Brits.

Meanwhile South Africa’s peoples are suffering and it’ll get a lot worse.

So Brits should refrain from any retribution that heaps more agony on this collapsing nation.

Still, they’d be wise not to vacation or invest there.

UPDATE March 31, 2007

My attention has been drawn to a further confirmation of the convergence between South Africa and Russia – they both have oligarchs:

Conspiracists noted that Mbeki was a Xhosa, and that various members of what we call the ‘Xhosa nostra’ had become billionaires as a result of their political connections, whereas Zuma’s allegedly improper payments were limited to a trifling £100,000.

The Tragedy Of The Commons

March 29, 2007

The tragedy is individual interests destroying shared resources, but there’s a simple fix used by fishermen that Brits could use to repair their socialist eduction system.

We owe our prosperity to Adam Smith’s invisible hand:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

That works fine unless the baker, brewer etc use “free” resources owned by no man – then there’s no price mechanism to prevent over-exploitation.

Aristotle (as usual) first described the problem:

“That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it”.

This iron law explains why socialist enterprises never work, why a farmer lets his sheep overgraze common land, etc.

The answer is always ownership (my ellipsis):

Currently, regulators aim to avoid overfishing by limiting the length of the fishing season and requiring certain fishing techniques, figuring that each person who fishes will be able to catch a certain number of fish a day…

But most current regulations don’t limit the (total) number of fish that get to the dock. This encourages fishermen to rush out early in the season and get as much as they can, with no responsibility for limiting their catch.

This results in overfishing, lots of bycatch — the inadvertent taking of fish besides the target species — and degradation of the marine environment.

One way to reverse this trend is to institute a system known as catch shares, in which the total amount of fish allowed to be taken in a given fishery is capped and fishermen are given a share of the fishery’s quota, the study said…

Examining information on nearly 100 such fisheries and doing in-depth analysis on 10 in North America, the researchers found bycatch was reduced by nearly half, revenues per boat increased by 80 percent and safety improved dramatically in fisheries with catch share regimens.

Under the catch share system…”The job of regulators changes from trying to manage every aspect of fishermen’s behavior to keep them from catching too much fish to simply setting fishing targets … and catching cheaters.”

A similar ownership approach would fix the Brit (and US) education systems by giving people vouchers in return for their taxes and eliminating micromanagement.

Unfortunately, there’s a second order tragedy of the commons – millions of bureaucrats fighting to keep their micromanagement jobs.

Women Soldiers And Islam

March 29, 2007

The Mullahs’ abuse of the kidnapped Brit should remind our military not to deploy women where Muslims can capture them.

Women warriors perform splendidly in combat – for example Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester’s attack into ambush. The problem arises when women are taken prisoner.

Muslim societies center on the abuse of women. That includes Muslim immigrants in our own societies – here’s Theodore Dalrymple on the French “youths” (yesterday smashing up the Gare do Nord):

The principal immediate attraction of Islam to young Muslims brought up in the West is actually the control and oppression of women.

After all, if you can be sultan of your own home, you need hardly look elsewhere for a sense of achievement or importance; this is hard luck on the women, of course, but it does give a clue as to what les jeunes were fighting for during France’s riots in autumn 2005.

They wanted extra-territoriality, as it were, free from the incursions of the French state, so that in their slums they could continue their one economic activity, drug-dealing, and their domination of women without interruption.

So placing a poorly defended Brit woman soldier within kidnapping distance of the Mullahs gave them a perfect target:

Her television performance, filmed in front of a floral curtain, was immediately called into question: the Foreign Office condemned the footage as unnacceptable and body language experts cast doubt on the sincerity of her words.

Of course the Mullahs’ kidnapping and display of all the Brit captives breaks the Geneva Convention. But Brit planners should have known that any woman captured would be a particular focus of abuse.

One hopes they’ve learned their lesson.


March 28, 2007

Cock-up is Brit for SNAFU, and if you believe news reports the capture of their marines and sailors was a perfect example of the genre.

The decision to offer no resistance to Iran, although the Britons were said to have been operating in Iraqi waters, was down to the commander of the two boats. There was no air cover at the time because a helicopter had just returned to HMS Cornwall after watching the successful boarding of a merchant vessel.

Here’s a map of the engagement from the Brit Ministry of Defense, published by the Daily Telegraph.

Daily Telegraph Map

The helicopter is a Lynx, which should have carried 4 Sea Skua missiles, this is quite capable of taking on the Iranians before they got too close to grab hostages.

HMS Cornwall was too far from the boarding parties to come to their rescue.

A court martial will no doubt address why the Cornwall stood off so far (about 7 nautical miles) given the Marines were intercepting a vessel just 1.7 nautical miles outside Iranian territorial waters; why the helo left them unprotected; and why the marines didn’t have the means and/or orders to fight.

But first we have to bust Iran and get the hostages back.