The Ukraine has the best flag in the world: corn to the horizon, under endless blue sky. Honest, simple, clear, and the colours look great together. The only other thing I knew of the country was a reputation, claimed by some, of extreme right-wing-ness, true or not. I do hate Putin and his mode of operating, but seizing adjacent land in the interests of your own nationals whom you claim are being badly treated, is not just what Hitler did with the Czech Sudetenland, but it was how the USA got Texas. I wonder how many people class Davy Crockett and Putin together. I suspect England got India that way too, not to mention other… incidents. Puts the west in a tricky position.
The MH17 plane? Those who dispute the Russians’ claim that it might have been a Ukrainian fighter, point to the fragmentation damage. But it’s not the external explosion that points to the Russians, it’s the size of the pieces. I suspect a fighter would have fired an air-to-air missile… which would also work through fragmentation damage. They wouldn’t resort to guns unless they’d run out of missiles before it was too late, but it was a big fat slowish sitting duck. However, an air-to-air missile would surely make fewer, smaller holes than those we see on the wreckage.
Months ago, while Syria still seemed quite straightforward, I nearly blogged that just because Assad was horrible, it didn’t mean his was the worst side in the fight. Eventually others started saying that in the media (so I’m glad I didn’t say it – I’d have wondered if I’d influenced them!)
Now we have a couple of odd niceties:
We can’t attack ISIS in Syria because if we did we’d need Assad’s permission. First, why not just co-operate with Assad? He KNEW what he was up against right from the start – their potential evil and determination was why he had to fight dirty himself. His group is a minority within a minority; his people had to flee to the hills and stay there years ago… why? Because they knew they’d be wiped out otherwise. Churchill advocated supporting the USSR against Hitler because against the Nazi’s he’d consider supporting the Devil. So many awful things are done because they were the best of the possible options, it’s odd USA and UK still feel Assad isn’t nice enough to talk to.
Second: what is the moral problem with attacking ISIS in Syria without Assad’s permission? International law? That hasn’t always held people back in the past. Just look as Israel, whom the USA and UK are so happy to support, whatever it does.
The Scotland situation is now screwed, whatever happens. As John Bishop said, now they’re like a partner who keeps worrying about whether they want to split or not. My view is his! And if they do stay, the “atmosphere” will be terrible until they go.
The Go supporters say they want to keep the pound. But if they go, there won’t be the same pound. Even the UK pound will be different. The two new bits won’t be the same as the old one, and their bit won’t be guaranteed to be like the old one, to put it mildly.
Two views, that England supported Scotland financially, and that Labour won’t to win another election without Scotland are not, I now hear, at all reliable; but the most interesting thing about the whole mess is Cameron, Miliband and Clegg going up to do their desperate thing – this time From The Heart. Miliband appealing spiritually, is firing on a cylinder that he never had working. That’s why he was wrong for leader – you gotta have gut appeal if you want to be big leader mate. Sorry. Then Cameron… well, a better try, but that’s the whole point: it’s the tories that made Scotland want to leave. Finally Clegg. In his speech he actually said “sort of…”. He did. He said Sort of.
What am I going to do with the Scots now? There always were two types for me: the type that never came anywhere close to seeing a posh-talking non-white Englishman as ever worth wasting any conscience on. I was a landlord, and had to make decisions on whether to accept tenants I wanted to live alongside, so that’s not a trivial issue for me at least. But there is another type: the Very Moral, if both sturdy and often bright. One has to bend over backwards to give an advantage, even an unfair one, to types like that. Because I subconsciously put him into that category, Mike Benton (whom until last year I stupidly thought was from Ulster) didn’t get a detailed critique of his appallingly crass review of Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, in The Secret Dinobird Story. That’ll change now for palaeo reasons, but in general a Scottish question still remains for me, and perhaps needs reconsidering.
I do though have a scarring moment to live up to: many years ago in a posh bar in Edinburgh, amongst posh Scotsmen, all wearing kilts and dignity at the same time, I playfully quipped over something: “I hadn’t laughed so much since Scotland lost to Peru”. Nobody said anything. Nobody did anything. They just looked patiently, if broodingly, aside or at the floor for a count of ten. Maybe I still owe a bit of benefit of the doubt to Scotland.
Finally Hong Kong: it can’t be said often enough how the UK stance there over “democracy” was perhaps the most blatant example of groupist hypocrisy known to man. Hong Kongers are currently complaining about lack of democracy – which is relatively fine, in their position. But the UK only gave Hong Kong democracy just before it was handed back, just to try to embarrass China. And let us all remember how much democracy was involved when the English grabbed it in the first place.