NPF Annual Reports – the International Commission

This report by Labour’s Inernational Policy Commission follows the same non-committal, evidence-free, approach that I noted when reviewing the report from the Early Years, Education and Skills Commission. If these reports are not all written by the same person they certainly seem to closely follow the same template. The first section kicks off with hand-waving references to discussions held in which major issues get single word or phrase references. Thus

The International Policy Commission held its first meeting in early February. Emily Thornberry MP, Nia Griffith MP and Kate Osamor MP gave the Commission an overview of developments in their respective briefs and provided updates on their teams’ work since the NPF meeting. Commission members then raised a number of questions and comments relating to Brexit, the Middle East, defence spending, the aid budget and the arms trade.

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Donald Trump and North Korea

It’s 9th August 2017, 72 years to the day since a nuclear weapon was last used in anger. How might the leadership of the nation who launched that attack commemorate the event. I suppose the United States could have taken a leaf out of Barack Obama’s book and at least utter a few pious words. Then again, you can’t expect anything of the sort from Donald Trump who responded to another outburst of North Korean tough talk – this time an empty boast of their intention to launch a pre-emptive attack on the US airbase on Guam – with the threat of nuclear war. An impeccable sense of timing, that man.

I’m forever hopeful we won’t see war on the Korean peninsular, because anyone with half an understanding of the situation knows a conflict would exact a huge cost, even though the outcome would be a foregone conclusion. The South would pay a horrendous blood price, and the huge cost of rebuilding an entire country and dealing with millions traumatised by dictatorship, war and occupation would be on them. The Federal Republic had a hard time absorbing the former East Germany, and that was one of the world’s richest countries doing so under more benign economic circumstances. A Republic of Korea doing the same with the north after a war, and after its economic and cultural centres around Seoul have been reduced to rubble by artillery is a nightmare that doesn’t bear thinking about. Korean politicians know this, Korea-watchers know this and, crucially, Kim Jong-un knows this too. Continue reading

Inside the Jihadi Mind

That numb, helpless anger you feel when a group of innocent people have been murdered in another jihadi attack. This is quickly followed by contempt for those who try and hijack the tragedy for their own ends, be it for self-publicity or political grandstanding, whether at home or overseas. Once this has passed, reflection sets in as folks try to grasp what’s going on, because understanding is the prerequisite of doing something that prevents future radicalisation, and therefore future plots. We – the public – know nothing about the attackers yet, except they shouted for Allah as they attacked people, according to multiple witnesses. We know from the photos that at least one of the dead terrorists is a young man of Arabic or Asian descent. And we know their MO fits the pattern of other Islamist outrages here and elsewhere – the attempt to inflict as many casualties they can without any regard for their own lives. Continue reading

“Doing something” about Syria

“Something has to be done!” goes up the cry every time an abominable war crime surges over the newswires, but the question has to be what and how. Throughout yesterday, following Donald Trump’s bombardment of the Syrian government airfield apparently used for the chemical attack on Idlib province, we saw implacable foes of the White House freak show rush to back up the US administration. “Today was the day Trump became the president” went one egregiously arse licking headline, and all of a sudden the investigation of the dodgy links to Russia, and the awful domestic programme are compartmentalised and held in abeyance. Colour me surprised? Not in the slightest. Continue reading

The Tories and the Special Relationship

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_4Stoke-on-Trent might be the centre of the political universe, but that isn’t to say tumultuous events don’t take place outwith the gilded city limits. And while by-election fever and an altogether unpleasant illness have gripped me, Donald Trump marked his first week in the Oval Office by unleashing a hurricane-level shit storm. His “temporary” travel ban on people born in seven Muslim countries where Trump happens to have no business interests drew near unanimous condemnation. And yet he found backing from Boris Johnson in the Commons this afternoon. The foreign secretary said this isn’t as bad as his pledges on the campaign trail and that means his bark is worse than his bite, and so we should be thankful. Just how we should thank racists for firebombing one Mosque as opposed to two, or the EDL for beating up an Asian kid instead of tearing up a town centre. May is no better. Her craven performance as the first overseas courtier to meet the new president was, remarkably, regarded as something of a coup across the official commentariat and established media. How fast things change. Dismissing Trump’s travel ban merely as a “matter for the Americans” speaks for the moral vacuity at the heart of her project. Continue reading