A good day for Syrian Christians – and Britain

Dave has achieved two feats for the price of one defeat:

He became the first prime minister since 1782 to lose the parliamentary vote on military action.

And even more improbable, he made me side with Labour, Putin and Assad. What do you know, he may yet make a pacifist of me.

There’s much circumstantial evidence to support the view that Parliament was right and Dave was wrong. One bit of good news is that an Obama spokesman suggested that Britain is becoming isolated from her allies, both the United States and the EU.

Well, I know this may come as a surprise to our American friends, but every sovereign nation acting in its interests is to some extent isolated. After all, her interests may not always coincide with others’.

Presumably, not being isolated from the USA means joining her on any asinine adventure and paying with British lives for America’s ignorance of the outside world.

As to the EU, Britain has gone along with it on everything, apart from joining the euro. Had we done so, we’d no longer be ‘isolated’. We’d be bankrupt. As it is, we’re only staying afloat because we’ve been able to devalue the pound, a device inaccessible to, say, Greece or Portugal.

If this is what isolation means, then the more the merrier, I’d say.

The other piece of good news was provided by Lord Ashdown, who has announced that the vote made him “depressed” and “ashamed”. Anything that has such an effect on Paddy can’t be all bad.

Assuming that the Americans won’t go it alone, as they well may, the group with the greatest reason to rejoice is the Syrian Christians. For any action on the part of the West, which the Muslims mistakenly regard as still Christian, would certainly result in violent reprisals against this community.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Syria’s population, and there’s no denying that, should Assad’s regime be driven out by Western action, they would be hit by a double whammy.

First, Assad’s forces would abuse them on the way out, taking their resentment out on defenceless people. Second, the victorious Muslim fanatics, many of them associated with al-Qaeda, would do what comes naturally: spill Christian blood.

This is a matter of fact, not conjecture. For the rebels have already given us a taste of things to come by destroying dozens of churches and driving thousands of Christians out of Syria and into refugee camps.

Just a fortnight ago, 15 Christians were murdered in Wadi al Nasara, and only a victorious regular army can prevent such outrages from occurring on a massive scale.

If further proof is needed, it’s kindly provided by other countries where American purveyors of democracy über alles have succeeded in creating troubled waters in which Muslim fanatics could then fish.

In Iraq, about 800,000 Christians have been driven out of their homes and many have been killed. Ditto in Libya, where al-Qaeda groups have had a field day in the south of the country.

No Muslim country in the world has ever disproved this simple observation: the more influential the Sharia law, the more Christians will suffer. Provided that our parliamentary vote gives Obama some second thoughts, the advent of the Sharia law in Syria may be indefinitely put off – and surely any sensible Christian should welcome such a development?

Dave, of course, is a self-confessed “active member of the Church of England”. Nowadays this apparently doesn’t preclude being a passive Christian, for otherwise he wouldn’t have campaigned so hysterically for an action guaranteed to result in Christians’ misery.

This would have been suffered not only by Syrian Christians but also by the home-grown variety. For Syrians have promised that any British involvement in Western aggression against their country would result in suicide-bomb attacks on England. Experience suggests that this is one promise the Muslims tend to keep.

All that would be worth it if Britain’s national interests were at stake. Yet not even Dave and his fellow war-monger Tony claim that this is the case.

They want us to play poodle to the Americans as a way of punishing Assad for his alleged use of poison gas against his own people. This moral transgression has so far not been proven, but the Ba’athists do have form in using such weapons. However, one doesn’t recall too much American indignation at Saddam’s gas attacks on the Iranians during the 1979-1987 war.

So they object not to the use of such weapons in se, but to their use by those who aren’t upholding American interests, however misconstrued. Well, at least Parliament didn’t misconstrue ours.

In any case, Dave being such an active member of the Church of England, he should recall a saying from the book his Church still holds sacred:

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”






Does Dave want to go to war with Russia?

Those of you old enough to remember the 1962 Cuban standoff between America and Russia, must still cringe at the memory.

Those who aren’t old enough, just take my word for it: the possibility of a nuclear Armageddon was, or at least seemed, real.

Those who like to discern historical parallels will no doubt worry about today’s news of the Russians beefing up their naval presence in the Mediterranean.

“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” explained the Russian General Staff.

The corrections include the introduction of an anti-submarine ship from the Northern fleet (the Tomahawks are likely to be fired from submarines). Also coming in over the next two days will be the missile cruiser Moskva from the Black Sea and, in a month or so, the missile cruiser Variag from the Pacific.

The situation is indeed well-known, if not necessarily well-understood, at least not by Dave. He may be ready to go to war against Syria, his own party, the opposition, some of his cabinet (including the State Secretary for Defence) and most of our generals. Are Dave and his boss Barack also ready to take on Russia?

This is not to say that either side necessarily wants to risk a major war. However, such a risk is inherent in a confrontation between two naval forces armed to the teeth and led by congenitally bellicose men.

While it’s not immediately clear how British national interests can be served by replacing Assad with al-Qaeda chieftains, such a development will definitely jeopardise Russia’s national interests.

For much of her history the country craved a naval presence in the Mediterranean, yet only acquired it when Syria let her set up a base at Taurus. At the same time, Syria has at least £2-billion’s worth of current military contracts with Russia, with a promise of more to come.

Hence the show of force. The hint is transparent enough: go ahead, lads, if you must. But have you considered the possible consequences?

Military calamities occur when international pressures build up while the key countries involved are led by either criminal or incompetent men. Putin richly qualifies for the former role, presiding as he does over a regime that routinely murders or imprisons its opponents and practises money laundering on a scale never before seen in the world.

The three countries facing up to Putin are led by Barack, Dave and François, and not even their mothers will describe them as competent to handle an international crisis.

In addition, there are strong and utterly believable rumours that Dave’s bolshiness is inspired by his wife Sam who, last time I checked, had no mandate to shape Britain’s foreign policy. Apparently, the Girl with the Dolphin Tattoo visited a Syrian refugee camp and was deeply shaken by the experience.

As someone who saw Chechen refugee camps in 1995, I sympathise with her feelings. Yet my reading of our constitutional arrangement suggests that it’s not part of Sam’s remit to commit our armed forces to yet another harebrained American adventure.

Could it be that the three Western countries involved actually want a war? I’m not saying they do; I’m only asking a question, and it’s not entirely groundless.

History shows that people and governments tend to feel about wars differently. Most people don’t like them, but most governments do.

This is easy to understand for unchecked democracy inexorably degenerates into ever-growing statism, and statism thrives on social and economic turmoil.

The same goes, ten-fold, for war. War is the ultimate expression of the innate statism of modern states, the sustenance on which they build up their muscle mass. The state has emerged stronger, and the individual weaker, out of every modern war.

War is also a time-proven way out of economic and political crises. It is also a guarantor of the leaders’ political longevity.

All three Western economies involved are in dire straits, ridden with ruinous debt, unemployment and declining standard of living. Though this is masked by the odd minuscule increase in some indicators, the real problems are structural.

The US federal debt now stands at $14.5 trillion, not including the growing deficits in the funds financing the welfare state. Ours is over £1 trillion – and growing.

Quantitative easing (presumably ‘queasing’ for short) is no longer an option: given the risk of hyperinflation, the remedy is worse than the disease. Yet the history of the Great Depression hints at war as a cure for economic ills.

Roosevelt’s socialist New Deal failed to pull the country out of the economic morass. It took a world war to do that, and America emerged out of it better off than she had been before. Moreover, FDR had a good war personally: he was elected to an unprecedented four presidential terms.

Is it possible that such elementary history may figure as a factor in Obama’s calculations? Dave’s calculations are less critical here: he’ll do what his friend Barack asks, especially if Sam feels the same way.

Too may questions, too few answers. I suppose we’ll get some in a few days.


Tony ‘Yo’ Blair on Syria and morality

Our gun is primed, loaded and ready for yet another cock-up.

Syria is very much in the news and momentum is gathering behind the battle cry WE MUST DO SOMETHING! No one is quite sure exactly what, when and especially what for. Uncertainty reigns.

So much more grateful we must be to Tony ‘Yo’ Blair who took time from his busy tour of Mediterranean yachts to teach us morality in international relations.

Now when the likes of Tony begin to pontificate on this subject, we know we’re in trouble. And when he laces his moral cocktail with strategic insights, it’s time to run for the hills.

Tony, you remember, was the only Western leader prepared to play poodle to George W. Bush in the calamitous invasion of Iraq. A few billion pounds and, more important, a few hundred wasted British lives later, the whole region has been turned into a bloodbath.

What does Tony, able abetted by ‘heir to Blair’ Dave, want to do now? Having dug us into a hole he wants to go on digging. Let’s now attack Syria, he screams in his Times article. For openers.

His reading of the situation can’t be faulted: “Syria [is] mired in carnage between the brutality of Assad and various affiliates of al-Qaeda.”

Correct. So where does this leave us? Logically, we have two options: a) let them sort it out between themselves and b) support one of the sides.

Since doing nothing goes against Tony’s impetuous nature, option b) is the only one on the table. So which side should we support?

Tony is clear on this: “…the side of the people who want what we want; who see our societies for all their faults as something to admire; who know that they should not be faced with a choice between tyranny and theocracy.”

Right. Assad represents tyranny, his al-Qaeda opponents stand for theocracy, and we should waste more British money and lives to support the latter because they admire our societies. Makes sense. Let’s win one for al-Qaeda.

So what’s Tony’s problem with Iran then, which also troubles him? “Iran still — despite its new president — a theocratic dictatorship, with a nuclear bomb.”

No doubt Tony has his own intelligence data on the second part – the rest of us don’t realise that Iran already has a nuclear bomb. But he’s right on the first part: Iran is a theocracy, just like the regime with which al-Qaeda rebels wish to replace Assad’s tyranny.

Does this mean we should support Iran “despite its new president” who, as a Muslim cleric, isn’t according to Tony a theocrat? Don’t know about you, but I’m confused.

Let me get this straight. We must go to war in Syria on the side of al-Qaeda to uphold Tony’s morality offended by Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, which was a terrible thing to do.

However, numerically it’s less terrible than many other instances of states murdering their own citizens. Russia, for example, is now being run by an organisation (and led by its veteran) that murdered 60 million people. The ruling communist party of China ran up a similar score.

Yet the West happily buys Russian gas and Chinese undergarments – how does Tony reconcile his flaming conscience with that?

He answered this query while still prime minister: “They ask why we don’t get rid of Mugabe, why not the Burmese lot. Yes, let’s get rid of them all. I don’t because I can’t, but when you can, you should.”

So Tony wants to hit Syria for the same reason a dog does something one can’t mention: because he can. Should it stop there? Not as far as Tony is concerned:

“From the threat of the Iranian regime to the pulverising of Syria to the pains of the Egyptian revolution, from Libya to Tunisia, in Africa, Central Asia and the Far East, wherever this extremism is destroying the lives of innocent people, we should be at their side and on it.”

We’ve just left the area of self-vindicating idiocy and entered one of lunacy. Our dwindling army must, according to Tony, engage every unsavoury regime on earth to comply with his moral tenets. Methinks our 80,000 men (the size of our army in a year’s time) may be stretched a bit thin.

Compare this rant with the words of a politician from the time when the West was run by statesmen, not spivs. Speaking of America, John Quincy Adams (d. 1848) said, “She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

That’s how statesmen think. They know that nations go to war to uphold their interests, not their debatable take on morality.

But sorry, according to Dave ‘heir to Blair’ Cameron, the projected bombing raids on Syria don’t constitute an act of war: “Let me stress to people this is not about getting involved in a Middle Eastern war or changing our stance in Syria or going further into that conflict.”

Yes of course, Dave, bombing a sovereign nation doesn’t mean getting involved in a war, we all know that.

A reality check is in order. Britain has nothing to gain from being instrumental in radicalising and Islamising Syria – which, as the experience of Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt etc shows, will be the only possible result of Western meddling.

In some instances, Tony and Dave, nothing is the best thing to do. God spare us from spivs drunk on their own power and with activism coursing through their veins.

Will no one rid us of this troublesome lot?









Secret meeting on Syria isn’t secret any longer

Before Dave returned to London he had met at a secret location with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and François Hollande. The subject of the conference was Syria.

By one of those serendipities that define history, I’ve managed to get hold of a transcript of the meeting, and I’m happy to share its contents with you.

BO: What’s happening, Dave? How they hanging, boy?

DC: Well, I was chillaxing in Cornwall with Sam when you called…

BO: Ah, the girl with the dolphin tattoo. Michelle has a lot of time for her.

AM: Was ist das, ‘chillaxing’?

DC: It’s what the French do in August.

FH: But oui, toute la France et en vacance. But we must get back to our muttons, is that not so?

DC: Quite. I say bomb the bastards flat. How else are we going to get rid of the last secular regime in the Middle East?

BO: Yes, but Sergei told me the other day I don’t know what the (expletive deleted) I’m playing with. Said there’s every chance the Russkies would fire on any (expletive deleted) ship firing on Syria.

DC: Yes, and pigs will fly.

AM: Schweinen don’t fly.

DC: That’s the point. The Russians are all talk. Lavrov is just bluffing. They won’t engage us in a month of Sundays.

AM: A month has only four Sundays. Vier.

FH: Not in France in August (laughs).

BO: Guys, let’s keep our eyes on the ball. What are we trying to achieve here?

FH: But mon cher Barack, you know what it is. We want the Middle East to be as Musulman as Saint-Denis, but no?

DC: Like Bradford.

AM: Like Duisburg.

FH: Yes, no laïcité for the Middle East. We want it all for ourselves, but no?

BO: But guys, the UN is playing hard to get. The Russkies and the Chinese are gonna block any resolution on military action…

AM: Who cares about the UN when God is on our side? Gott mit uns.

FH: Isn’t that what your SS used to say?

AM: Jawohl! And they could fight. Unlike some others I could mention…

FH: Ecoute, sale boche

BO: Guys, c’mon, not now… Tell’em, Dave. Like it is.

DC: Yes, well, crikey, gosh, chaps, let’s be serious now. Our economies are in the poo…

AM: Mein economy isn’t in the dreck.

DC: Fine, Angie, yours isn’t. But if we all go down the tubes, we’ll suck you in with us. So what we need is a war, the bigger the better. And anyway, Assad used gas on innocent people…

AM: Like François after dinner.

FH: Ecoute, you sale boche

BO: But I hear some of those innocent people eat human organs…

AM: At least they don’t eat frogs…

DC: Angie, please. You may think you’re going to win your election no matter what. But I need a war and François… well he definitely needs one. In the last poll he was behind Heinrich Himmler.

AM: Himmler ist tot. Dead.

DC: I meant figuratively. And Barack, why are you holding back? Didn’t you say that gas meant crossing the red line?

FH: He doesn’t want to attack les Musulmans. Peut-être because he himself…

BO: Oh shut the (expletive deleted) up already, Frank. Not that old chestnut again.

AM: I don’t like chestnuts.I like würst.

DC: Chaps, can we stay on the subject? Please? We want war, we want an Islamised Middle East. Over to you, Barack, let those Tomahawks fly. Assad used gas…

BO: Or not. Those UN guys…

DC: Are being used for target practice.

AM: Das ist verrückt. Mad. All this talk. When you decide to go, you go. Marschieren!

FH: Oui, all the way to Stalingrad.

BO: Guys, guys…

DC: Chaps, chaps…

BO: Guys, what are we arguing about? We know what needs doing. Let’s just wait a day or two, see what comes down the pike. Easy does it.

AM: Nein! Easy doesn’t do it! We Germans do it!

DC: Well, on that note…

To my horror I’ve just realised that the last page of the transcript is missing. This means I can’t tell you how the meeting ended. Not to worry, we’ll find out in a day or two. Just like Barack says.

Meanwhile I hope you’ll share my joy at knowing that the future of the world is in safe hands.









Pastor Scott Lively and matters Ugandan

For the last 20 years the Rev. Lively has been waging a tireless international campaign against homosexuality. This has become the focus of his life.

Now I’m suspicious of single-issue advocates – even if I happen to agree with the single issue. Effective action needs to be launched from a sound intellectual platform, which is impossible to construct without putting narrow issues into a wide context.

Yet the American pastor is a man driven by passion, not ratiocination. This took him to Uganda where over the years he made a number of well-attended appearances preaching against his bogeyman vice.

Eventually a private member’s bill was introduced in Kampala’s parliament, calling for punishing homosexuality by prison terms or, in extreme cases, by death.

To his credit, the Rev. Lively refused to support the bill because of the death-penalty clause: “I was very disappointed when the law came out as it is written now with such incredibly harsh punishments.” His aim, he said, was not to punish homosexuals but to rehabilitate them, while preaching scriptural commandments on the family.

Nevertheless, given the ethos of the time, the Rev. Lively predictably got in trouble. He was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a US homosexual pressure group acting on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a Uganda-based coalition of LGBTI advocates. Ten days ago a US federal judge ruled that the case could proceed.

SMUG claims that the anti-homosexual law, for which they hold the Rev. Lively partly responsible, has led to deadly street attacks. I have no independent evidence to prove or disprove this assertion but, given the political and civic culture of the place, SMUG may well be right.

But even if no such attacks had taken place, these chaps would still be out to get the pastor. Our post-Christian modernity is more than ready to punish word as severely as deed, and any homosexual lobby would regard the Rev. Lively’s words as incendiary.

For, while opposed to the brutal harshness of the Ugandan law, he hasn’t changed his view that “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

His detractors tend to equate the absence of anti-homosexual laws with liberty, which is hard to justify either morally or historically. After all, the first major country without such laws was Soviet Russia between 1917 and 1934, a place and time not otherwise known for a laissez-faire attitude to life.

Where I disagree with the Rev. Lively is his belief that the “gay movement” is mainly to blame for the problems of “the marriage-based society”. No doubt it contributes to such problems, but only because it’s being used for that purpose by a much larger entity: the modern political state.

When Christendom was more than just a figure of speech, or else a matter of antiquarian interest, the family was seen as a key building block of society. Social fabric in those days was woven out of families and family-like groups: parish, guild, clan, monastery, village commune, township.

When familial localism shifted to bureaucratic centralism (otherwise known as liberal democracy), the post-Christian state began to see the family not as its ally but as its competitor.

Sensing this, John Locke, who laid out the groundwork for the liberal democratic state, countenanced not only divorce but even polygamy: “He that is already married may marry another woman with his left hand…”

It’s reassuring to see how solicitously our Lockean modernity is trying to make sure his anti-marriage desiderata can come true. If in Locke’s time hostility to marriage was still embryonic, by now it has grown to full maturity.

Today’s political state in the West, while still not strong enough to abolish marriage and family, is strong enough to erode them. Promotion of homosexuality, including such abominations as same-sex marriage, is one tactic employed to that end, but it’s far from being the only one.

Even more pernicious is the welfare state that robs the family of its economic function by squeezing the state’s bulk into the slot formerly occupied by the father. Thereby the state assumes the provider role traditionally played by the father, which makes him redundant. The father takes the hint and vanishes.

Hence, according to the Office for National Statistics, last year 47.5 percent of children were born to unmarried mothers. The figure has risen from 25 per cent in 1988 and just 11 per cent in 1979. If the trend continues at the current rate, by 2016 the majority of children will be born to unmarried parents.

Another anti-marriage arrow in the state’s quiver is its tax laws that encourage cohabitation without the benefit of marriage. In fact, marriage confers no fiscal benefit whatsoever: it pays for people to stay single. The arrow hits its target with unerring accuracy.

The Rev. Lively is right to point out the anti-Christian, indeed antisocial, nature of wanton sexual promiscuity in general and homosexuality in particular. One wonders, however, if a bit less fervour and a bit more reason would serve his cause better.

On second thoughts, where would we be without impassioned men of action? The world would be run by philosophers, just as Plato wanted. It would then be even more miserable than it is now.

Just how intelligent are atheists?

University of Rochester psychologists have just completed a review of 63 scientific studies about religion and intelligence dating between 1928 and now.

In 53 of these there was a “reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity”. In other words, atheists are brighter than believers.

They have a higher “ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience”.

Now it’s an established fact that IQ, the higher the better, is the single most reliable predictor of practical success in today’s world.

And success in today’s world is measured mostly by money, of which people with higher IQ scores tend to have more. Thus if a child has a high IQ, he’s more likely to make a lot of money at an early age.

Here’s an example of one such child, or rather a bright young man of 21. His IQ is undoubtedly 130-plus, which is higher than in 95 percent of the population.

His hunger for success is commensurately high, for success is something he knows he deserves – his IQ is high. The young German, Moritz Erhardt, is richly endowed with all the fine qualities that add up to intelligence. So he puts them to work.

Ability to reason: Moritz figures out that the shortest route to fiscal success runs through big international banks and other financial organisations.

Ability to plan: International banks like international experience, so Moritz enrols in University of Michigan. Since London is the financial centre of the world, he then wants to do internship at a major bank based in the City.

Ability to solve problems: Though he faces stiff competition from hundreds of other possessors of a high IQ, Moritz gets into Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London.

Ability to think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas,learn quickly: It doesn’t take Moritz long to demonstrate all of those. One thing he learns quickly, from both observation and experience, is that though a high intelligence is a necessary condition, it’s not a sufficient one.

His employers are prepared to pay him £45,000 a year to learn his trade, after which millions beckon. But they want something in return.

They want him to show willing and, if he doesn’t, he can take his high IQ back to Michigan, Germany or whatever. So show willing he does.

Moritz puts in 120-hour weeks, including ‘all-nighters’, those rites of passage to which all high-IQ interns are expected to submit. He’s in charge of his destiny, and this is the chance he isn’t going to miss.

The authors of the Rochester U study know all about lads like Moritz: “Intelligence may lead to greater self-control ability, self-esteem, perceived control over life events, and supportive relationships, obviating some of the benefits that religion sometimes provides.”

This description fits Moritz like a glove. Religion with its dubious benefits isn’t for him. It’s for silly, indecisive weaklings full of self-doubt. He, Moritz, is living proof that a man with a high IQ has ‘control over life events’.

Except that he doesn’t remain living proof for long. After working eight ‘all-nighters’ in the last fortnight, Moritz Erhardt collapsed in his bathroom and died of exhaustion.

He thus became the dying proof that there’s an infinitely higher intelligence than the kind measurable by IQ. It was best expressed by Thomas à Kempis:

“For the resolutions of the just depend rather on the grace of God than on their own wisdom; and in Him they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands.”

Moritz wouldn’t have regarded this statement as clever. According to the study, like others with a high IQ he probably believed that “religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not testable and, therefore, unappealing to intelligent people who ‘know better’.”

No doubt that this is exactly what most high-IQ atheists, including the authors of the study, believe. They’re too intelligent to realise just how stupid this belief is.

It’s clear that IQ tests measure not the outcome but the potential, not intelligence but the ability to acquire it. The distinction is crucial – it’s like the difference between musicality and musicianship.

For instance perfect pitch is a useful thing for a musician to have: it makes it easier for him to become a musician. Yet I know an internationally acclaimed violinist, winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition, whose pitch is acquired, not absolute. I also know another violinist, blessed with perfect pitch, who plays in a Brooklyn restaurant.

That a high IQ is a reliable predictor of success in the modern world says more about the modern world than about intelligence.

Thomas Aquinas, for example, was such a slow, ponderous thinker that his university classmates called him a ‘dumb ox’. Since speed of thought is an important factor in IQ scores, his was probably no higher than average – which didn’t prevent St Thomas from becoming one of the deepest thinkers the world has ever known.

Yet if he were alive today he’d probably fail to become a Merrill Lynch intern – they want bright youngsters like Moritz Erhardt there.

The average IQ of university graduates is 112, 12 points higher than the median. This is probably enough to develop the kind of surrogate intelligence that enables a graduate to earn a good living.

However, real intelligence, the kind that would enable a man to grasp the ineffable sagacity of Kempis’s words quoted above, is much harder to come by. It takes decades of contemplation, study, ratiocination – and help from the grace of God.