aleppo-morning-star
Foreign Affairs

The liberation of Aleppo? Pouring a sea of grey into buckets of black and white

Parliament debates the liberation of Aleppo today. Marvellous. That’ll sort it all out. Or perhaps MPs won’t quite debate the liberation of Aleppo, for Aleppo hasn’t actually been liberated from the torture, mass slaughter or summary executions of dictatorship. No, according to reports, that’s all in full swing: “The women may be taken to camps, the men ‘disappeared’ and anyone who is known to have supported civilians will face detention or execution.” But it’s liberation according to the Morning Star (“For peace and socialism”) – the preferred organ of Jeremy Corbyn, Momentum and the robust progressive left. It’s true that Bashar al-Assad has regained control of the city with the obliging military might of Vladimir Putin, but it is liberation only from the daily din of bombardment and destruction: the people are still in chains. There is no deliverance unless you’re pro-Assad, or pro-Putin, or anti-ISIS or anti-al-Qaeda.

O, hang on.

Aleppo has been emancipated from the clutches of sundry ‘rebels’. Aren’t some people a bit happy about that? Has anybody bothered to ask them, or are they the wrong sort of people to ask? Perhaps ‘happy’ isn’t quite the word, but isn’t it a liberation of sorts if those who crucify, rape and behead your beloved are bombed to hell? Okay, it’s not national salvation and the establishment of liberal democracy, and an awful lot of innocent people have been sacrificed as ‘collateral damage’. But Syria and the whole Levant region is such a quagmire of warring factions that one man’s Islamism is another’s Islamic freedom. Do religiously-illiterate politicians and secular-minded journalists really know their al-Qaeda from their al-Nusra Front? Do they know why people support Fatah al-Islam against Jund al-Sham, or the Syria Free Army against the Abdullah Azzam Brigade? And let’s not mention Jund al-Aqsa and the Syrian Martyrs’ Brigade; or the Idlib Martyrs’ Brigade, Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union, Ahfad al-Rasul Brigade, Army of Mujahedeen, Ghuraba al-Sham, Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Perhaps the only liberation in the fall of Aleppo is from a fate worse than life.

Fine word, ‘liberation’. Can one really speak of ‘liberation’ or do we see Western politicians and journalists striving to reformulate and redefine freedom in ways they find more acceptable, with others so grievously offended at the (ab)use of the term that they must take to Twitter to signal their superior rationalisation?

“After months of bombardment, people in Aleppo face slaughter tonight. Morning Star calls it ‘liberation’. Nauseating,” tweets Labour’s Ian Austin MP. “I will never bow to twisted scum who think mass slaughter in Aleppo is ‘liberation’,” tweets Labour’s John Woodcock MP. The Guardian‘s Jessica Elgot follows: “‘Liberation’ is what the Morning Star calls the slaughter of children in Aleppo. Horrific.” And from the Spectator comes Isabel Hardman: “Those terrified people are saying goodbye tonight because they fear slaughter. They’re not holding street parties anticipating ‘liberation’.”

But some clearly are.

That’s not to say that one must share in or justify their rejoicing: it’s hard to celebrate when children are crushed beneath rubble and choke a slow death to eternal darkness. Assad and Putin have inflicted earthquakes, storms, disease and famine on an apocalyptic scale. They did it to bring judgment on evil, while the West was content to do no more than debate the nature of that evil, as the House of Commons does (again) today. But in the hierarchy of evil, we may discern ‘higher’ manifestations and ‘lower’ forms: is an Alawite dictatorship not a lesser evil that Islamist anarchy? None is good: they are both negative and destructive because they herald suffering and death. Both are the enemy of being and an offence to the image of God. But let us not kid ourselves that some aren’t more terrible than others: in the melting pot of the Middle East, there are greater and lesser evils. None may bring liberation, but what is the better good is not always what is freest; and what is liberated in the kingdom of sin will never be defined by partisan politicians or determined by Twitter.

  • David

    Western politicians hide behind the liberal doctrine of “just war” to cover their ignorance and megalomania. It is truly disgusting what successive British Prime Ministers have done starting with that appalling Blair creature.
    In the Middle East the choice we face is not between the devil or an angel but between various shades of devils. Angels would neither attain nor maintain power. Such a social, racial cultural and religious mixed-up cauldron of as the ME seems to require, sadly, a strong ruler to prevent absolute hell breaking out, including the persecution and destruction of minorities. Hopefully the ruler will have a good measure of self-restraint, decency and tolerance to the many minorities. Assad was such a protector of the minorities. This is the reality.
    Practical politicians work with and from the reality of what exists, not abstract academic theories hatched in dreaming spires. The west has long lacked capable, realistic and humane leaders because the elite has overwhelmingly abandoned its Judaeo-Christain faith and cultural base.
    If I could be forgiven a plug, but time after time Nigel Farage has spoken out against these irresponsible foreign adventures that are not in our national interest. We need to regain control of our military instead of allowing them to be used by crazy, demonic globalist forces.

    • dannybhoy

      Great post David.

    • Jon of GSG

      He was only really a protector of minorities in that he has been equally brutal to all regardless of faith. There was a time early in the conflict when it genuinely was a moderate, pluralistic opposition, and it was generally recognised that if it didn’t end quickly the war would turn into the mess we have now, with lots of foreign fighters with odious agendas. I don’t know what we could have done differently, but to my mind the lesson of Tunisia is, tentatively, that the dictator/anarchy dichotomy is probably a false one in the ME.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Funnily enough, my next door neighbours (both now removed elsewhere) were at university with Mr Assad and said what a nice chap he was, not at all like his father. Ah the twists of fate and indeed, perception…

        • chefofsinners

          He was an intellligent, thoughtful, gentle and quietly spoken man. Probably still is, but fighting for your life brings out other qualities.

          • writhledshrimp

            Funny to think there are people wandering around London who have had their cataracts mended by Assad.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            and their catamites re-aligned…

          • bluedog

            Glory be. Is this to suggest that the decorative Mrs Assad is not the sole beneficiary of her husband’s affections?

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      We have had disgusting Prime Minister since Mr Baldwin….

      • Inspector General

        Madam, Baldwin rearmed the country…

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Yes but he was a gentleman and an Anglican, and saved us all from Edward VIII…and if he hadn’t rearmed us, Mr Hitler would have been knocking on the door sooner. Anyway, Baldwin liked Kipling (his cousin) and the Pre-Raphaelites, so he can’t have been all that bad.

          • Inspector General

            His ashes are placed in the wall of Worcester cathedral…

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I know..I stood on them last summer

  • Politically__Incorrect

    I’ve no doubt that if the “rebels” had won this war they would already be committing atrocities against those who opposed them, just as they did during the war itself. Western politicians and media have shown stunning naivety in their attempts to depict the rebels as the good guys. But that is where religious illiteracy gets you when faced with zealously-religious people for whom death is an honour not a defeat. While the West wrung its hands and talked, Assad and Putin did the only thing that would stop Syria turning into another Iraq. They want to preserve the existing regime, which can be an unsavoury one, but still has more legitimacy than the murderers trying to overthrow it.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported in 2013 that Saudi Arabia and Qatar wanted rid of President Assad:

    Saudi King Abdullah, whose mother and two of whose wives hail from a cross-border tribe influential in Syria, tried for a decade to woo Mr Assad away from Iran’s sway. He failed. The king’s attitude hardened in 2011 after the Assad regime, rebuffing the king’s personal advice on how to ease tension, cracked down brutally on political opponents and did so during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The king then decided to do whatever was needed to bring down Mr Assad, American and Arab diplomats said. Qatar also wanted the autocratic Assad regime out.

    In an email released by WikiLeaks, an aide to Hillary Clinton argues that the toppling of Assad would be beneficial to Israel:

    The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad…Israel’s leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.

    Mondoweiss says that the email ‘was evidently written in 2012, before Clinton left the State Department, and makes a strenuous case for regime change in Syria—which was Clinton’s position.’

    Perhaps Aleppo has been emancipated not so much from ‘the clutches of sundry “rebels”’ but from the machinations of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Obama administration and Israel, and for that it must thank President Putin.

    • Ah, of course, it’s the Joos again. In cahoots with Obama, ISIS and both the Shi’a and Sunni, no less. It all makes sense, now. And the good news is that the rubble that was once Aleppo is now…emancipated!

  • chefofsinners

    Slavery and liberation take many forms, some more good or evil than others. Peace takes only one form, whoever you are. We must pray and work, first of all, for peace.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      You trust the BBC?

      • chefofsinners

        Not entirely. I refuse to believe that England are 3-0 down in the test series against India.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Oh…cricket….fuck that

          • chefofsinners

            GASP! British values… splutter…by all that is sacred…!
            Mr Tebbit will be in touch, madam.

          • CliveM

            Gasp…….. Mrs Broudie, have you been on the Laudanum again!

  • carl jacobs

    This story reinforces the oldest lesson of war – “Don’t lose.” Beyond that, I’m not sure I know what to do with it. Syria is a mass of factions each fearful of subjugation. And so they fight each other. Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran are all competing for the influence to dictate the final outcome. There is not a hope in hell that anything can be done about it. So is this post supposed to encourage disengagement? The dispatch of the EU Battle Groups? Where does one go with this post?

    • chefofsinners

      This whole Arab Spring nonsense was originally encouraged by Western leaders in the misguided, simplistic understanding that ‘democracy good, dictatorship bad’.
      Factions were armed by the West, other factions captured the weapons, various groups were bombed, and others counter-bombed by the Russians.
      Our government and others like it have hands dripping with blood. And Boris has the temerity to accuse the Saudis of engaging in a proxy war.
      History will judge us harshly.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Or was it premeditated by darker motives?

        • chefofsinners

          Peter Mandelson?

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            He who must not be named…

          • Pubcrawler

            Unless one has an exorcist to hand.

      • bluedog

        Boris was quite right, and has been censured for telling the truth. The Saudis have been engaged in endless actions to prop up and promote regimes that propagate Wahhabism. Fortunately the collapse in oil prices presents the House of Saud with an existential threat, and they are the last remaining independent Arab power in the ME. The West should breathe a sigh of relief when the Saudi monarchy falls, even though the result will be total mayhem. The point is, that mayhem means the mosques, madrassars and Islamic faith schools that under-pin the self-confidence of western Muslim communities will no longer have external finance from a sympathetic source. Being perpetually mendicant, they will find themselves dependent on the western tax payer, a potentially fatal weakness of Islam.

        • Dominic Stockford

          But of course, ‘we’ armed the Saudis, so what does that make us?

          • bluedog

            Opportunists. Alternatively; worthy co-defenders of the holy places and bringers of peace and stability in the Middle East in the name of Islam. That’s right, isn’t it?

        • chefofsinners

          Yes, Boris was right, but hypocritical.

          • bluedog

            Why so? He merely pointed out that there is a sectarian civil war within Islam, wherein the Saudis back Sunni factions and the Iranians back the Shia. With its large Sunni population, the UK itself counts as a Sunni faction in this calculus. You will never see the British government advance the interests of the Shia to the detriment of the Sunni.

          • chefofsinners

            The UK has engaged in a proxy war in Syria. Boris in foreign secretary.

          • bluedog

            But isn’t the involvement in Syria principally designed to evict IS? As Carl says above (or below) it’s impossible to work out which faction to back in the Syrian civil war. Which is why defeating IS is the objective.

          • chefofsinners

            Our involvement in Syria has been to enable the moderate rebels to overthrow Assad. Russia is supporting Assad. Proxy war.

    • Inspector General

      The answer, dear chap, is that we do nothing with this post. It goes nowhere, other than in a file marked ‘wretched peoples of world’. Of course, it could have been a different story for the Arab. He could have accepted Christ and the tempering of his character resulting as the white European did, and benefitted from it greatly. But he on the whole rejected Christ’s way and salvation and is now paying the terrible price for that. One has no sympathy for him. Let him slaughter his brother as his lesser god looks on and wails “Yes, by all means, kill, kill, and kill again, but kill my enemies! NOT yourselves!”

      • carl jacobs

        How fortunate for you that you were born of a lofty race so that you might look down upon lesser mortals and behold your own superiority.

        • Inspector General

          Yes, but that by itself doesn’t actually explain the antics of Johnny Arab. Would that it did. Still, he’s over there, and since Brexit, there’s no chance of him being over HERE.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Ah well, you see. we Anglo-Saxons know that God is an Englishmen…

          • bluedog

            But not in Bradford, Luton or Tower Hamlets?

          • Pubcrawler

            As Philip II (eventually) came to realise.

    • Ha! Don’t you try and wash your hands off this mess so quickly, Yank! Your Obamanator politely saw himself out of the door at the request of a pack of Iraqi goatherds, saved Iran’s arse at the eleventh hour and even generously compensated it for past inconveniences and then, as all Hell broke loose, invited Putin and his bikers to the big party in Assad’s basement. “Dang, jess lookit that mess. Well, nuttin’ you can do ’bout it now!” Yes, I know Obama wasn’t your pres, but what on earth was your Congress doing just twiddling its thumbs, fretting over tranny bathrooms, watching this predictable slow-mo train wreck!

  • Inspector General

    Good grief! The Morning Star still around? Now you would have thought that organ of Marxist thought would have disappeared along with the Soviet Union who financed the damn thing…

    Yes, they are being shot on sight in Aleppo. Men, women and children. Quite normal for war, of course. It’s called the reckoning for those who don’t know. It’s when the victorious soldiers go on the rampage remembering their comrades at arms who have fallen in the struggle and it’s an opportunity to take bloody revenge for their comrades deaths. It’s all quite natural and to be expected. All so very human, unfortunately.

    But let’s not weep over it, what! Certainly not. Don’t weep over the Aleppo resident who meets a liberator in the street and is instantly machine gunned by him. For the victim would gladly have had it that he would be the killer instead. Or for the residents teenage boy as he too is cut down. The young lad was willing to prove he was his father’s son, don’t you know, by killing people, plenty of people, as you do ‘over there’. Or for the mother denied another chance to praise Allah for birthing an Islamic fighter of the future.

    And where is God in all this? Watching, one should think. Not interfering, but watching his creation entertain as we have clearly been designed to do…

    • len

      Glad your god is not mine.

      • Inspector General

        But Len. Your sandwich board. It reads ‘The End Is Nigh’ does it not? The end is certainly nigh for the wicked in Aleppo. Much like Sodom. Or would you rather we all perished together in one big Divine act of retribution…

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        But do you believe that Allah and God are the same ? I struggle with this one, I really do…

        • chefofsinners

          Do you? Allow me to help.
          No.
          There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I didn’t make myself clear….I have no doubt there is one God, and that his Jesus Christ and the Holly Ghost are parts of the One God, the Trinity…yes, that is clear and always has been. No, what I really meant was, I struggle with this modern interpretation that we all worship the same god…that Allah is the same as God….because you see, I believe that Allah is another god….dare I say, Satan, and the reason I think that is the Koran’s blood lust….oh dear, I have offended thousands I know, but there it is.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Allah is no god at all – and certainly and clearly utterly incompatible with Jesus Christ, and the Father, and the Spirit. Christian Concern have a book called ‘Not the same God’ – it is excellent. I am sure you can get it through their website. Written by two men who once were muslims (one more extreme, one less so), and are now followers of Jesus Christ, the only name given under heaven…

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I will buy a copy Dominic, thank you

          • chefofsinners

            Deep sigh of relief.

          • len

            You are perfectly right Mrs Proudie, ‘Allah’ is satan, there can be little doubt about this

          • Anton

            I doubt it. “Allah” is a distorted portrait of the Creator. If you ask who distorted the portrait, however…

        • IrishNeanderthal

          It has got this lady into hot water.

        • len

          ‘Allah’ is certainly not the God of Abraham , Isaac and Jacob.

          • Merchantman

            I do wonder why so many lump Islam in with the Abrahamic faiths, I really do.

        • Anton

          Are Allah and Jehovah the same? I can give you a full answer, but it’s a bit more involved than Yes or No.

          It is important to clarify whether you are talking ontologically or epistemologically, because the following statements, made in an imaginary conversation, do not have the same content:

          1: Two volitional spirit beings exist, each claiming to have created the world; you worship one, whereas I worship the other.

          2. One volitional spirit being exists who claims to have created the world, but you and I have different ideas of his personality and his actions in human history.

          No.1 is different gods; no.2 is different human ideas of god, but is often spoken as “different gods”. That is why it is important to clarify. The situation between Jews and Muslims is (2), not (1). In addition we Christians take Jesus to be equally divine, and we differ from both Jews and Muslims about that.

          The question “Same or different god?” fails to clarify between (1) and (2), which is why I think it is better not to answer it directly.

          Christians might wish to ponder what spiritual forces are behind the denial of Christ’s divinity, and the distortion of the scriptures re (2). Answers can be found in the Bible fairly easily.

          Finally… “Allah” is just the Arabic for “THE god”. (It is a concatenation of al-illah, and illah in Arabic is equivalent to eloah in Hebrew, of which the plural is Elohim, a name for Jehovah in the Old Testament.) 1500 years ago “allah” would have been a great translation into Arabic of the Bible, but today it carries too much Islamic baggage.

        • len

          ‘Allah’ is according to many scholars a pagan deity .

          https://www.biblebelievers.org.au/moongod.htm

    • CliveM

      Sometimes IG you do talk absolute nonsense. Tomorrow people will be raped, murdered and tortured. Children will be abused and have their childhood cut short. Some people see this as ‘all quite natural and to be expected ‘. Just because something barbaric has always happened, it doesn’t mean we should shrug our shoulders. These are woman and children who are being murdered and maimed and I think weeping for them is the least we can do.

      It’s not just the ‘freedom fighters ‘ who are being targeted, Putin and his pal don’t care who gets killed. They haven’t tried not to target children’s hospitals and God isn’t being entertained by this. Acknowledging the limitations of what you can do is one thing, but we are called to care when the innocent are targeted and to do what we can.

      We can at least pray.

      • Inspector General

        Pray? Clive, Christians have been praying for centuries for evil to be cast out of the world, and it’s happening now, in real time. How did you think it was going to happen other than them that do the evil no longer being around…

        No pleasing some types…

        • CliveM

          In an ideal world you capture the ringleaders, send them to trial, pray for guidance and then stretch their necks.

          Unfortunately here we don’t have that option. Sometimes prayer is all you’re left with. It is what we are called to do.

        • chefofsinners

          All that is necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to shrug their shoulders.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Like Edward Heath?

          • chefofsinners

            Yes, Edward Heath might have been evil. Police investigations are ongoing.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            You’ve never heard of Georges V & VI, but you have heard of Edward Heath?

            What a very odd time warp you live in. Skipping from High Victorian England to the 1970s in a single bound must have been a shock to the system.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Think Brigadoon…

    • carl jacobs

      Your conception of God is so pagan, it hurts to read it.

      • Inspector General

        We can but ponder on God’s nature, Carl. But if we do, aren’t we better off applying cold logic to said nature than human sentimentality…the same cold logic that has given us the universe…

        • carl jacobs

          Or we could, you know, just read the Scripture. After all, revealing the nature of God is one of its fundamental purposes. But you don’t believe the Scripture – which is why you are expounding pagan concepts.

    • IanCad

      Don’ t knock The Morning Star Inspector. I was raised on it. A necessary ritual of the breakfast hour; and, in its previous iteration as The Daily Worker – to be read with due regard to the sensitivities of The Soviet Weekly – an essential part of the training for all future conservatives.

  • len

    It seems that only those with an iron fist can control the Middle East.The West removed those hard men , those dictators who controlled the Middle east and by so doing opened the Gates of Hell.All that has happened in the Middle East is one tyrant has been removed and thousands more have taken his place.
    Democracy in the West is also under threat as the cult of self and’ self interest’ becomes more and more prevalent to the detriment of society as a whole.
    What is happening in Syria is tragic especially for those trapped in the remains (which remind me of the final stages of the battle of Stalingrad).
    The West needs to appreciate more the long term affect of actions it takes.The division of Jerusalem (on which the West also seem keen to accomplish) will precipitate disaster on a greater scale than even Syria.

    • David

      Well said – spot on, in fact !

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        I agree….

    • Dominic Stockford

      Pray for Jerusalem… as the wisest of men once said.

  • Inspector General

    Your Inspector is reading a BBC on-line report…

    “Battle for Aleppo: The final goodbyes from a city under siege”

    One sees the twitterees and facebook devotees are mentioned. Save Us they cry. And look, here’s the hashtags. #SaveAleppo. If you think that’s rich, what about #SaveHumanity.

    Could this really be the same Aleppo where homosexuals where thrown off high buildings. And is this the same Aleppo whereupon if the fall didn’t kill them, the local population would gather and finish them off by stoning. Is this the same Aleppo where everyone’s male relatives are in ISIS. Even the relatives of the young ladies sending out these haunting desperate cries. Is this the same #Aleppo where the rooms full of bodies where once used to plan attacks on the West…

    Surely a different Aleppo then…

    • Coniston

      Arthur Ransom’s friends, the Altounyans(?) were living in Aleppo in the 1930s, when it was a peaceful place. Their children (including some of their names) were written up as some of the children in Ransom’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’. Photos of them are in biographies of Ransom, including some taken in Aleppo.

  • Mike Stallard

    I feel a bit Hobbesian so allow me to quote the Holy Koran:
    No.
    On second thoughts, it is tea time.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Have some hobnobs

      • Mike Stallard

        Nice.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          One is more of a Hobnobbian than a Hobbesian…you can’t dunk the latter

          • Anton

            Leviathan was a sea monster and therefore dunkable. Come to think of it, Hobbes’ book might benefit from the same treatment.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            You couldn’t pick the Leviathan up, nor find a cup that was big enough

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Does ANYONE read the Morning Star? Really?????

    • chefofsinners

      It’s an interesting title, biblically. Apparently applied to Satan in Isaiah 14:12, but also to Jesus in Revelation 22:16.
      No prizes for guessing which character the newspaper is referencing.

      • IanCad

        All a bit hazy now Chef, but I seem to remember that the name was more of a tip of the hat to the reformatory dimension of the supposed people’s struggle, rather than its revolutionary aspect. Certainly no biblical influence was at the root.
        A large number of the clergy were great boosters of the collectivist tendency. Hewlett Johnson – the Red Dean of Canterbury – died in 1966 and it was then that the Daily Worker morphed into The Morning Star. A tribute perhaps to Wycliff; the morning star of The Reformation.

        • chefofsinners

          The red star, I had always presumed.

      • Mike Stallard

        Lenin?

        • chefofsinners

          No, he’s not in.

    • IanCad

      Raised on it Mrs. P.

      • David

        Congratulations on your escape !

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        You poor thing!

  • The real evil in Aleppo sits in the White House. They have supplied weapons to those fighting Assad, they have encouraged the terrorists to block medical supplies and food to the civilians and they have now as a last ditch attempt started handing out arms to rebels in Syria like Smarties.
    ISIS are trying to re-take Palmyra now that Aleppo is nearly free and all these new weapons will help them. The Yanks are also sending more troops to Syria.

    Independent Canadian journalist Eva Bartlet reports on the lies that are peddled about the war in Syria:

    • David

      Excellent links, especially the second one with that brave, independent Canadian journalist. What lies we are fed ! Many thanks Marie.

      • If you’re interested in events in Syria Vanesa Beeley another independent who is in Syria now and works with Mother Agnes Mariam de la Croix and Rev, Andrew Ashdown. She posts updates on Face Book and writes for
        http://21stcenturywire.com/ along with other independents Pierre Le Corf and Patrick Henningsen.
        They uncovered the truth about the White Helmets and the blockading of medical supplies and food.

        Another interesting person on the subject is Annie Machon she informed us via an interview on RT that really the conflict in Syria is mostly down to competing interests for oil pipelines and supply.
        Assad had already given the go ahead for Iran to route a pipeline through Syria to Europe and they had come to an agreement. Along come the Saudis who also want a pipeline to supply Europe routed through Syria. Assad said no, they weren’t even going to pay him. Syrian government has always fought off attacks from various anti government factions so what better way than to stir them up arm some of them and let them get on with getting rid of Assad. Only it hasn’t quite worked out how the US/Saudis/UK/French planned.

        • David

          Interesting. Many thanks.

    • Dominic Stockford

      It seems that those going to Palmyra come from Mosul, which was apparently surrounded by US backed forces. One wonders how they got out!

      • Well now your guess is as good as mine.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      and evil dwells in Whitehall too

    • Merchantman

      It is hard for BHO to disown his roots and after all he spent his formative years in Indonesia. Some of it would have rubbed off on him and he would be wary of being called an apostate. All borderline stuff, which explains his seeming confusion in that wider regard.

  • Inspector General

    One hears off the radio that some sort of ceasefire is to be enacted to allow ISIS relatives to leave Aleppo alive. It’s not what you know (or do) it’s who you know…

  • IanCad

    Assad is made of sterner stuff than our leaders had us believe. Putin is most concerned over the growing numbers of Muslims in Russia (17%?)
    Had they failed, or hesitated, heeded the enlightened West, then ISIS would rule Syria today. We weep for the victims and we are horrified.
    Will there be no sanctions visited upon the likes of Hague, Hammond, Hillary? Or even upon those misguided fools who still root for the rebels?
    I’m not a supporter of capital punishment but the gibbet, the block, and the firing squad was a mighty good curb on those who would guide us ill.

    • Inspector General

      The British tradition was to hang traitors, Ian…

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        And before that it was to hang draw and quarter them….ah the old days….

        • Pubcrawler

          And before the Normans it was a fine and/or exile (or totally unrelated murder by random persons unknown *innocent face*).

    • dannybhoy

      Assad was/is the legitimate leader of Syria, as was Mubarak of Egypt, as was Gaddafi of Libya.
      It was Western arrogance and ignorance of the nature of Islam that triggered this cycle of death and destruction.
      Had the UK have sent troops in, what would have been the result?
      What was the result in Iraq? http://www.businessinsider.com/the-iraq-war-by-numbers-2014-6?IR=T
      What has been the result in Libya? http://www.thejournal.ie/whats-happening-in-libya-1958603-Feb2015/
      What is now happening in Yemen? https://drc.dk/news/yemen-after-a-year-of-war-the-world-must-no-longer-ignore-the-human-suffering
      The fact is that the West has been busy arming the Islamic world and now we’re seeing the gory results.

      • CliveM

        Define legitimate? Because you have defended people like Oliver Cromwell in the past, saying that the behaviour of Charles I, lost him his legitimacy to rule.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Goodness, Charles I was the legitimate ruler, surely?

          • chefofsinners

            His name is not Charles, and no, you were not the legitimate ruler.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Are you on drugs?

          • chefofsinners

            The heady wine of freedom is intoxication enough…

            http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3ry6n6
            play from 22:35

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            You are an enigma, a variation I am not altogether familiar with

          • chiefofsinners

            It is I. You are not the first to be confounded by the disguise.

        • IrishNeanderthal

          Ironically, though, Cromwell may in the long run have saved the British monarchy. Charles II didn’t have the power to behave like Louis IV, and look where that got the Bourbons. Now only found in bottled form.

          • CliveM

            Bourbons? I thought they were biscuits?

            But otherwise you are right. Having its powers curtailed saved the British monarchy.

          • dannybhoy

            I admire Cromwell’s strength of character, whilst recognising that he got things wrong. He tried to impose his own vision of how men should behave, thinking men could be coerced into being good and wanting the best..

        • dannybhoy

          “Define legitimate?”

          legitimate (adjective)
          1.conforming to the law or to
          rules.”his claims to legitimate authority”synonyms:legal, lawful, licit,
          legalized, authorized, permitted, permissible, allowable, allowed,
          admissible, recognized, sanctioned, approved, licensed, statutory,
          constitutional, within the law, going by the rules, above board, valid,
          honest, upright;

          2. able to be defended with logic or justification; valid.”a legitimate excuse for being late”synonyms:valid, sound, admissible, acceptable, well founded, justifiable, reasonable, sensible, tenable, defensible, supportable, just, warrantable, fair, bona fide, proper, genuine, plausible, credible, believable, reliable, understandable, logical, rational e.g.”these are legitimate grounds for unease”

          According to how Islamic nations run, these were legitimate rulers.

          They were legitimate enough to be recognised, courted, feted and armed by Western governments and UN agencies.

          Islam does not recognise man made law, only that which Allah made known to man through the prophet Mohammed. That’s why there are no democratic Muslim nations, and therefore they need strong, ruthless leaderships to hold them together. You and Avi are trying to apply your Western world view to an Eastern religious system which does not accept your values…

          “As we have said earlier, according to Islam, we are all servants and subjects of God, and since our existence totally belongs to Him, we have no right to do whatever we like even with regard to ourselves without His permission. So, how could we, who do not have any right to do whatever we like to even with regard to ourselves, delegate this right to others and enable them to exercise authority over the society and do whatever they like with the lives and properties of individuals and interfere in their affairs?

          How could we delegate to others our right or that of the people and
          enable them to enact and execute the laws which are prerequisite for
          every government, if in essence, the right to determine rulings and laws
          belongs to God, and their being expressed in Islamic law [shari‘ah]
          means that when we want to determine the laws related to ourselves we
          have to refer to the Real Owner and act according to His will?”

          • CliveM

            “You and Avi are trying to apply your Western world view to an Eastern religious system which does not accept your values…”

            Who’s values should we be applying then when assessing the legitimacy? Gods or Allah’s?

            I am happy to admit that when I try to assess what’s happening in Syria, I use ‘western’ values in assessing the morality of events (however imperfectly I manage to achieve this!).

            Actually the Assads ‘legitimacy’ rests simply on the right of conquest. So if someone else comes along (or something, should we say IS?) and kicks him out, should they too be taken as legitimate? Should we also recognise the caliphate as legitimate?

            We are called to make moral choices, not ones simply of realpolitik. We may be wise not to get involved, but that doesn’t make Assad any less illigitimate in Gods eyes.

            Assad isn’t bombing children because he loves his country, but to enrich himself, his family and friends. He is morally and financially corrupt.

          • dannybhoy

            “I am happy to admit that when I try to assess what’s happening in Syria,
            I use ‘western’ values in assessing the morality of events (however
            imperfectly I manage to achieve this!).”
            As do I, but I question whether intervention inspired by Western values achieves anything leading to peace and international goodwill. We have (or rather our governments) have to deal with realities, and part of the reality is to recognise that not everybody thinks the same way as we do..

          • Clive beat me to it while I was wrestling with Carl, but that’s the point. We, the West, the dominant powers that keep trade flowing and the world from going bonkers and all medieval on itself, define legitimacy. Other than that, to get yummies from the West, mostly the US, all the players claim to uphold certain standards to which they now need to hold them up to.

          • dannybhoy

            Mehhhhh!
            The West needs oil. In order to get that oil it turns a blind eye to Islamic cultural practices we regard as barbaric, it continues to (disastrously) interfere in Islamic affairs (give me one outright [western viewpoint] success).
            The West sells weaponry to unstable regimes, and the West allows Muslim refugees/economic migrants to settle in Europe causing all kinds of chaos.
            On top of that the West is weakening both morally and militarily. When the West was strong we used our economic and military might to impose our will. Those days are gone and the world has lurched on.
            “We, the West, the dominant powers that keep trade flowing and the world
            from going bonkers and all medieval on itself, define legitimacy.”
            So we defined that those Muslim leaders were legitimate.. until it no longer suited our leaders…

          • That was one of the Western stupidities. The West doesn’t need oil from the ME, certainly not any more. It needed cheap oil, but never calculated the real costs of doing business with Islamic entities, thinking everyone is the same and wants the same things. So, it kept conceding and conceding to the primitives and playing politics with them (at which all primitives are much better) and tying its own hands by stopping domestic exploration. So, now you have a Europe and even the Americas shitting themselves over a pack of terrorist ragamuffins, being essentially invaded by their populations…cheap oil, eh?

          • dannybhoy

            “, thinking everyone is the same and wants the same things”
            There’s that Western world view again… We still think that, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

      • Arguably “preferable,” in a morally detatched realpolik sense perhaps, but legitimate?

  • Dominic Stockford

    It was fascinating to see on RT the barrel bombs and the like which the Syrian government forces have taken out of the hands of the ‘rebels’, along with all the paraphernalia used to launch them into random areas they didn’t control.

    • Fascinating and amazing. Almost unbelievable, some might uncharitably say. But it must be true, because it’s from RT.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Although RT annoys me with its nonsensical coverage of, for instance ‘Palestinian Camps’ in Aleppo which are ‘rescuing the poor little diddums’ (no better than western media, just a different slant), and its attitude towards Israel, it does at least have reporters in Aleppo. By watching both presentations you can begin to put together some sort of reasonable picture. Which is basically that war is not some kind of debating chamber, it is utterly horrific, people die all over the place whether or not someone actually wants them dead, and we have forgotten how appalling it is. But neither side is ever ‘righteous’ in all their actions.

        • RT’s nonsensical coverage of the Palis is, as you say just that; an annoyance. Its Western journos/operatives are not breaking any laws, and any Israeli counterparts are safe in the knowledge that Israel’s socialist courts will never even allow a subpoena. But streaming propaganda created by an agency of a hostile foreign power, which Russia clearly is, is problematic. There is no value or “balance” in including false and disruptive information in one’s analysis other than to get a window into the enemy’s thinking.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I was pleased to see Baroness Cox speaking this morning, about Aleppo. She referred to those she knows and has spoken to who live in Aleppo. She is also not someone who would push ‘fake news’. Her viewpoint was somewhat different to the bleating from our parliamentarians.

          • A member of the House of Lords has friends in Syria who are in the Assad camp. Is she denying that the Syrian government is conducting a massacre? Political “bleating” aside, there is little doubt over what is happening there.

            Look, no doubt Christian Syrians and some secularists side with Assad and that he is their last hope against the Islamist wave in the region (with a useless US admin, especially). Assad, a member of an Alawite dynasty, a member of a hated Shi’a minority, has screwed things up for himself and those who supported or sought protection from him amidst the decades of tyranny, corruption and savagery. And, after the near-total abandonment of ME Christians by their Western counterparts, who failed to step up and make a useful case for their defense and salvation (Europe is being flooded by Muslims, not Christians or Yazidis, who can’t even get a good hearing yet) the job is not going to get done by backing a mass murderer.

    • Dreadnaught

      Sureley you would need aircraft to drop barrel bombs?

      • Dominic Stockford

        I would have thought so, until I saw the colossal mortar that had been constructed to fire them, and to fire gas cylinder bombs.

  • Vanessa Beeley writes from Syria:
    “Just a few of the children from recently liberated Hanano in East Aleppo. Many of them met us with yells of “Allah, Souria, Bashar ou bas”. We were told by those handing out food that this was the first day the children were not starving, their bellies were full finally. Everyone we spoke to told us that the Nusra Front led NATO terrorists had withheld food and medicine, rationing bread and water to the civilians while stockpiling all supplies to sell at extortionate prices. A common ploy when NATO terrorists occupy an area of Syria.
    While the UN and assorted fake Soros or state funded NGOs cry “siege”, in Hanano and other districts of East Aleppo we are seeing the real sieges being broken. The imprisonment of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians is finally over and these children have emerged into the daylight after four years of living rough, hiding from the terrorist retribution and brutality, starvation and fear.
    Their pinched faces and haunted eyes spoke volumes of the cruelty and deprivation they had been forced to live through.
    All of them broke into smiles and grins when we asked them how they felt about the Syrian Arab Army liberation.
    One boy, Mohammed, on the skates, told us on film ” it feels like we were in Hell and now we are back in Heaven”.
    The corporate media continues to spin their lies but the truth will destroy them and that truth comes from the very children they claim to have been protecting for the last four years. Despicable excuses for journalism that should be prosecuted for criminal exploitation of children to promote a war that kills these children.”
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155881292763868&set=pcb.10155881314098868&type=3

    • Hahaha! Never the imagined that the old-style Russkie propaganda, in its crudest and most ludicrously florid form, would be taken seriously by educated right-leaning Westerners. We live in seriouslt weird times.

      • Oh get over yourself Avi!
        I can’t believe how small minded you are. Vanessa Beeley is a British independent journalist who has been able to get her news out to a bigger audience courtesy of RT who seem the only ones who are interested. Our media is full of fake one sided rubbish.

        • Your media has a few problems, to be sure, Marie. But RT, the official propaganda arm of the Kremlin is your best option? How gentlemanly of them, though, to so selflessly help an “independent” journalist publicise her tacky praises of the Syrian Army.

        • Dreadnaught

          I support Syria against a ‘civil war’ that is funded, armed and planned by the Western Powers and their regional allies with a view to wiping out all resistance to imperialism in the Middle East.
          Eva Bartlett

          I would caution against accepting the word of this ‘independent’ journalist without question, who features prominently on th RT propaganda outlet.
          She is very much pro-Gaza having spent three years there without threat from Hamas. She documented the 2008/9 and 2012 Israeli ‘war crimes’ and attacks on Gaza while riding in ambulances and reporting from hospitals.
          I am not saying that all of her claims are false, but her bias in whitewashing Assad’s and Russia’s activies and insistence on referring to all opposition to them exclisively as ‘terrorists’ is rather telling.

          She operates her own blog – IN GAZA – https://ingaza.wordpress.com

          • The problem with “Beeley” and “Bartlett” is not their pro-Hamas stance, which is only there to satisfy the extreme Right and Left, and is of little consequence to Israel, but the fact that obvious Kremlin operatives can so easily bamboozle and frighten average Western citizens into letting Russia have its way.

          • Dreadnaught

            If our MSM had any integrity at all in the quality of their journalistic output we would not be so disinclined to believe them. They have very little to commend buying into their dumbed down sensationalism.

          • The MSM has a credibility issue everywhere and it’s crashing. We’re seeing the end of it, but it will be a tough go evaluating the new, decentralized sources and their sensationalism. Still, I think it’s a good thing, because with the internet, the genie is out of its bottle, and new, lean and vigorously competing sources can provide us with better coverage…if we are careful and discerning.

          • CliveM

            Or perhaps simply better at pandering to prejudices.

            Which is where I’m putting my money.

          • You may be right, but quantity and variety might mitigate.

          • They are not Kremlin operatives Avi.

          • They are receiving assistance, protection and payment by an acknowledged propaganda arm of the Russian government to issue favourable reports and missinformation. That makes them intelligence operatives, Marie. The classical definition.

            Furthermore, in doing so against their countries of nationality and its security alliances, namely NATO, they are committing treason. Journalists enjoy a number of rights and protections in covering events and disseminating truthful information, but not against treason. I wish our governments did that, rather than waiting to haul everyone in when the shit really hits the fan.

          • Show me the evidence and the details for these two journalists because I think you are wrong.

          • For starters, the evidence is right in the text you helpfully quoted for further dissemination.

          • They’re not Russian intelligence operatives Avi.

          • As I said, the evidence is in who they work for and in what they do. One doesn’t have to be a Russian national or a cloak-and-dagger agent.

          • Here you are Avi you can help fund Vanessa’s trip to Syria. If she was somehow a Russian agent don’t you think she would have received funding somehow from them or any of their associates?

            https://www.gofundme.com/return-to-syria

          • LOL! You mean she availed herself of one of the best methods of laundering funds? I never said she was an agent, as in a trained employee of an intelligence agency. Most of the human intel and misinformation activities are generated by idealological operatives and activists, believers, who usually self-fund (or receive funds from legitimate or untraceable sources) and operate in the open and mostly legally. In her case, and from her “article”, she obviously received protection from the Syrian army and was directed to staged events…you don’t get to wander around a war zone as a pretty woman, independently interviewing Arab soldiers and civilians without, um, a few risks.

            Again, it’s what an operative does, rather than who he is. In her case, she is singing the praises of a murderous army backed by Russia and Iran, making up silly lies about “NATO terrorists” and spinning about a “corporate media” and such to dedicated fringe groups on the left and right, not to mention a politically naive or sympathetic audience with a healthy component of randy middle aged men who are too busy eyeing her to notice her comical bullshit.

          • CliveM

            Ouch

          • Avi she actually “went with a team of Western Media, CNN were there” 6:55.
            Latest interview VB with UK Column from Damascus.

          • So? How does her getting on the same junket with other journos lend credibility to her propaganda?

          • She is an independent with no allegneces. Later on in the video she questions what and how the other journos could put out such rubbish and broadcast from Eastern Aleppo when there was no electricity or 3g connectivity. The BBC had been there two days before her, but in their broadcasts to us claimed they were there when actually they were broadcasting from Turkey.

          • No one produces “independent” reports for RT. The BBC is no angel when it comes to biased reporting, but RT’s claims are pure disinformation. And as the rule books say, the crazier the claims, the more credible they will appear to some. Not that RT has to worry too much; all they have to do is convince their target audience, the low-info alt-right, and the job’s done. I’m just astounded at the fact that an obvious massacre, witnessed in real time by numerous sources, can be muddled up like this for some people with the use of third rate actors and preposterous conspiratorial whoppers today, in the 21st century. Things never change, I guess.

          • She doesn’t work for RT. She would put her findings out on the BBC and Ch4 too, but they aren’t interested as they are in with the anti Assad lot.

          • BTW Avi here is Eva Bartlett in defence of being accused of working for RT.

            https://www.rt.com/op-edge/370618-syria-sources-bartlett-rt/

          • At least 10 NATO Military Officers Captured by Syrian Special Forces in East Aleppo.

            The trouble makers Avi.

            http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/12/16/reports-at-least-10-nato-military-officers-captured-by-syrian-special-forces-this-morning-in-east-aleppo-bunker/

          • At least 10 NATO Military Officers Captured by Syrian Special Forces in East Aleppo…The trouble makers Avi.

            Which all other media forgot to mention, of course. To those who served in any military capacity in any NATO member nation, any captured NATO personnel are brothers or sisters in trouble, not “trouble makers,” and anyone saying otherwise is an enemy or a traitor. Good day.

          • RT have on their stations anyone who has news or views that are in opposition to the US and the West. So yes I’ve seen her on RT too.
            I keep an open mind and take into account the fact that journalists have opinions, but she has no motive for putting out fake news to manipulate people like the msm who are linked to governments does.

  • Dreadnaught

    As much as I hate myself for saying such, we have constantly been berated for being in ‘Muslim lands’ and had the bombs guns and knives in the hands of Muslims levelled at Westeners as a direct result.
    This is a sectarian Muslim war essentially between Sunni and Shiia. No amount of intervention by the West can be helpful to one side without alienating the other who will unite against the us at some time sooner or later.
    This is not our fight or our responsibility.
    Russia and Assad will win the day but their people will soon enough experience Sunni/ISIS terrorism at home in a far more deliberate targetting that anything experienced to date.
    This is a civil war as old as the damned ‘religion’ that lies at its root.
    No amount of handwringing and guilt tripping such as we saw in Parliament today should infer that we are responsible for the situation today or tomorrow.
    These are Muslim problems and for Muslims to settle for themselves.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Russia and Assad will win the day, because they understand that war is brutal, and don’t pretend that people don’t get hurt in one (unlike our politicians in the West) – so they just got on with doing something decisive.

  • not a machine

    Before the people of Alleppo started feeling they would have hope in the spring uprising , bearing in mind the country was run by Mr Assads father and passed to his son in a state of emergency and Mr Assad junior had no intention of changing that ,I find some of the outbursts of long time labour mps a little odd in that I do not recall any great pressure or demands to the UN that Mr Assad junior changed his mind and modernized.He had the opportunity to change his mind and help his country change or transition to freedom , but chose to allow the Russian support and its reinstatement of what was wrong before and by the way have a bloody and murderous civil war , which Mr Assad junior thinks is good statesmanship given he had little idea ,or if he did didn’t like it of how a country with factions , could manage to sort things out and run itself .He made a choice, and so all the rewards for his choice will soon be coming his way ,as well as the death toll est I think at 300,000 he now has millions of people , Syrians who are living outside of his country , looking on at his strong man , but realizing he made the wrong decision for the people he was supposedly sovereign over.There will be a time when Russia isn’t so interested in Mr Assads juniors Syria,then what will his bloody victory mean.
    As for those who think the UN should have done more ,Syria has no democratic history ,how would you stop any civil war post a successful victory .it perhaps is a humanitarian failing to just look on as a country destroys innocent people for corrupt power ,but Russia has had to receive body bags of its soldiers at home ,in mother Russia ,Mr Putins own people are wary of another folly in a strange country ,10000 Russian military lives were lost in Afghanistan .
    I am sure given what was learned about post victory Iraq , which MP wants to be the one that says the body bags of our own or coalition troops are the price that should be paid , The story of this conflict is not yet done ,But if you favour intervention , that will be a conflict , talk to the widows of those that had had to receive there loved ones home , from your own forces , so you know the price you are asking .

  • chefofsinners

    If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
    Is anyone dying in Yemen?

  • Bravo, Your Grace! That took courage, for you must have known that you won’t be winning many cookies here with that stuff.

    You’re up against Kremlin’s RT and its much more attractive heroic sagas of the modern, moderate saviour of Christians Assad and his bare-chested buddy, the Little Muzhik who saved Mother Russia from a dozen or so Moscow gays, the lethal Pussy Riot witch coven and oddly enough (for someone in a brotherly alliance with Shi’a Iranian mullahs and an Alawite dictator) from the forces of Islam itself.

    I therefore strongly recommend, Your Grace, that you improve your message delivery. If you can’t beat them, join them as they say. So, no more scribbling late into the night; video reporting, that’s the ticket! Good not just for today’s illiterate yoofs, but for us long-toothed types with fading vision too. Just plonk some foxy Western-looking bottle-blondes with Anglo names and (very) slight Slavic accents on a pile of ubiquitous Middle Eastern rubble, put up a camera, and we’ll gobble-up anything they croon at us!

    • Ivan M

      You must be one of those guys who think RT fixed the US Elections too. Must really suck to be a Putin-baiter around this Christmas, my friend.

      • No, Hillary and DNC stupidity “fixed” the election. It would be inconceivable for Russia not to have wanted to, but the idea that they would have backed Trump, rather than a proven soft-on-Russia party that’s been letting them get away with everything is beyond ludicrous.

        • Ivan M

          You are way behind the curve. Those who want to provoke a war with Russia are encamped with Hillary. Trump by returning the Republicans to some accommodation with the isolationist wing has screwed up the buggers who want endless wars on other peoples’ dime and with their lives.

          • I assure you, Ivan, you haven’t the foggiest, as the Brits would say, about what’s cooking in the US. Stick with RT.

          • Ivan M

            And I.should listen to a Canadian buffoon whose personal motto seems to be: Always wrong but never in doubt.

          • carl jacobs

            Avi is no buffoon. This is a very old debate about the purpose of a nation’s foreign policy.

          • carl jacobs

            On the other hand, he is Canadian.

          • To quote the Gipper, “…and here you go again.” You did much better with your first post.

          • No, you shouldn’t listen to Canadian buffoons, unless you live in North America. We may look like a bunch of happy northern hippies, and our internationalist and “honest broker” posture makes the world all warm and cuddly, but the majority of us don’t give a rat’s ass about what’s happening outside of our coninent.

            And there is nothing wrong about being wrong, as long as one can pivot immediately and correct course. Some cultures are good at this, lesser types get buggered up by their own egos and traditions.

          • dannybhoy

            As Cartman might say, “Sweeeet..”

          • dannybhoy

            A Canadian yes, a buffoon most definitely not.

          • CliveM

            I take it you do know you’ve just lost the argument.

          • Ivan M

            That’s your right.

        • carl jacobs

          Hillary was supposed to have been more aggressive in Syria. We’ll never know. But rapprochement with Russia is needed. The US needs to get out of the Baltics over which it will never fight. The US needs to get out of Ukraine over which it will never fight but the Russians would. The US needs to stop using NATO security guarantees as a tool of European expansion. There is no reason Montenegro should be a part of NATO.

          • There was never any danger that Obama’s admin would put its foot down. If your position that the whole of the European peninsula should be in the Russian sphere why don’t you make it in full? Because if you can make a case for selling out Ukraine, the Baltics and the ME, you can make just as good of a case for dumping the whole lot, UK included, and drawing a line somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

          • carl jacobs

            Or we could refuse the reductio ad absurdum of your argument. Refusing Ukraine does not imply leaving Europe to the Russians. Over-extended guarantees are dangerous precisely because they will not be honored.

            NATO as it stands is obsolete and over-extended. It serves principally to allow the Europeans to contribute to their own defense by sitting on the couch and eating chocolates. That needs to change. But it is a bad idea to try to secure Europe by dividing Russia into small pieces. It can’t work unless there is a credible threat of war, and there is no credible threat of war. Once the bluff is called, it’s over.

          • Sure. Because you say so? The bottom line is that there is no reason to stand up for any nation in Europe (and Taiwan, for that matter) other than a common bond of liberal democracy and free enterprise. It’s the only thing left, the only divider between modern civilization and barbarism.

          • carl jacobs

            Most of Europe would be useless in a gunfight. They hardly count allies. They probably couldn’t as a group successfully take on the Israelis let alone help us against the Russians. That’s why the US is in Europe – to keep it out of Russian domination. It’s the major economies we care about. Now it would be nice if Europe could figure out how to defend itself. But frankly it doesn’t want to. And it won’t don’t so (no matter what assurances are made) until it has to.

            But quite frankly I’m more interested in containing China and keeping Russia out of the Chinese camp. Unless and until the continent of Europe grows some testicles, the Russians are potentially a more valuable long-term ally.

          • Ok, fine, but if at least a half stand their ground, it’ll buy enough time for you Yanks to finish the Marlboro and the Bud, roll a joint for later, pick up a burger and head on over. Just like old times. The technical advantage in weaponry and logistics, flexible command structure, training, training, and training are more important than having too many people on the ground milling around. That much Israel proved several times over with a fairly tiny army. And you do have the Brits and Germans, who only need some weapons and governents with a spine.

            I don’t know about you, but for some reason, a phone call or something, I think China just saw the last of the happy days and is heading into their dreaded “interesting times.” But Russia as an ally? Where? They are of no use in the ME in the long term, unless you want to feed them again and have a finger bitten off.

          • carl jacobs

            And you do have the Brits and Germans

            We have the Brits. But I’ve never considered them part of Europe really.

          • CliveM

            We’re a small self governing continent off Europe. Not part of Europe at all!

          • And another thing. Had NATO members played hardball over Ukraine and threats to the Baltics by doing something, anything, even willing to cut down on gas purchases, much less volunteer to build a base or two, there wouldn’t be missiles in Kaliningrad and much talk of a “Russian sphere.”. So yes, lack of balls makes a difference, but remember whose fault it mostly is…the unpredictable guy who’s probably swinging the nine iron at the eighth hole right now.

          • Anton

            And Poland? What if Putin threatens that?

            If you are in the superpower business, which the USA presumably is, then it has to view the rest of the world in terms of spheres of influence, and suppose that any country not in its own will be grabbed by Putin or Beijing.

            The Baltics deserve, culturally, NATO protection. Ukraine doesn’t – although leaving it to Putin means breaking a promise regarding the nukes it inherited after the USSR crumbled.

          • carl jacobs

            Poland is important. And the key to spheres of influence is to recognize the boundaries. You don’t go where you won’t fight. Do you seriously think the US is going to risk a nuclear war with Russia over the independence of Lithuania?

          • Or Poland, or Czech Republic…Germany, the UK. What’s your criteria to your “sphere of influence boundaries”? If the US shouldn’t risk a war over Lithuania, why over the UK? The control of the GIUK gap would be about the only worthwhile issue.

          • Anton

            I don’t know. But if it isn’t then it shouldn’t pretend that it will, as is the case at present. The USA actually *welcomed* the inclusion of many Eastern European countries into NATO as a way of sticking the finger to Moscow; now it regrets it. This is more to do with Washington vacillating than anything else.

          • It was not about sticking a finger to Russia; it was a genuine ideology of liberal democracy, the same principles that exercised Churchill over Poland and involved the US in WWII. The only error was in thinking that Russia changed or can change and actually helping it get on its feet. You can hope the US will play favourites, but selling off the Baltics will just speed up selling off the rest of Europe.

          • Anton

            I support the Baltics. The phrase “Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” deserves to be better known.

          • But for such a commonwealth to happen, we need to form an alliance with it and include it under our protective umbrella. What makes me shake my head with incredulity is that Russia, which is as always on the verge of economic and social collapse (and with its over-stretched adventures now more than in a long time) is able to influence Western public opinion with a few third rate tabloids and dribbled YouTube videos by photogenic KGB tartlets.

          • Anton

            Over that matter, I agree with you rather than Carl. Over Russia, I hope for Trump and Putin to work together against militant Islam. They don’t need to trust each other *too* much for that to be possible. Washington could have been in the driving seat in Syria now occupied by Putin but for Obama’s folly.

          • Such a cooperation is unlikely to be successful. It’s not just a question of Russia and the US. It can’t work when Russia is part of an axis including Shi’ite Iran and Assad’s Syria and when the US has alliances with Sunnis. Russia doesn’t give a hoot about ISIS and it allied with America’s prime enemy, Iran. Russia merely wants a presence in Syria, currently impossible without Iran’s help and for that it will help crush Assad’s enemies, moderates or jihadis, women, children and pets to boot. The fall of Aleppo merely speeds up Russia’s upcoming exit from the region, as the Sunni factions double down and start giving them the old Afghanistan treatment against which Russia still lacks stomach, resources and capabilities. Obama’s folly was in thinking that there such a thing as “smart power”, perhaps magic based on his personality, without the bother of sending his proverbial “boots on the ground” and dealing with the reality of the dreaded convoys of body bags to Arlington cemetery. None of this would have happened under the watch of another president, though, it bears to be remembered.

          • Anton

            Time will tell…

          • As it always does.

          • Anton

            That’s what it’s for!

          • Ha! Always the last word.

          • CliveM

            Carl,
            The thing is, you may wish that the Baltic States hadn’t been given membership of NATO, but they were. This wasn’t a ‘European thing’. The reality of NATO is, if the USA wants something it happens, otherwise it doesn’t. Fair enough, say I, it’s the main contributor.
            However once the commitment has been made, it needs to be honoured. Out of US national self-interest if nothing else. What will happen if it isn’t? The US will lose prestige; NATO will splinter and fall apart and the US will become increasingly isolated and discounted in the world.
            Once the US has been shown to not be as good as its word, NATO is finished.
            Now Trump and a lot of Americans may say “so what, the Europeans don’t pay their way”. I have sympathy with that, but to walk away from Europe and let it fall under a Russian sphere of influence isn’t a zero sum game for the US. To maintain its influence and security, the US needs to maintain is prestige, the belief by other nations that it is a serious force.
            Let’s go back a few years to Obamas infamous ‘red line’ over Syria. He bottled it and Russia (and the Chinese) noticed. Suddenly the US looked weak, indecisive and not good for its word. This led to the Ukraine and encouraged Russian adventurism in Syria. It may lead to Putin chancing his arm in the Baltics and elsewhere.
            Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Western interference in Syria, the impact of Obamas indecision is that the world is a more dangerous place. The US, under its new President, needs to show that this era of weakness is over. That would mean (amongst other things) sticking by the promises made to the Baltic nations. It needs clear thinking and firmness (none of which I’m expecting from the new administration btw), otherwise Europe will be lost. Then the Middle East. Finally the pacific (bye, bye Taiwan and China established as the dominant regional power).
            Yes give European nations a kicking for not spending enough on NATO. Kick out those who refuse to do so. But don’t let unfriendly nations believe that the US isn’t good for its word, because ultimately the US will suffer like the rest of us.

          • I was once totally wrong about Trump, but nothing succeeds as success…miraculous success at that…and as his impressive cabinet forms,I’m starting to believe that Trump will continue to surprise. NATO members firmed up their commitments even before he became a president elect, and now with former generals in Trump’s cabinet and a revamped Foggy Bottom (Foreign Affairs), things can only improve. What we are seeing now is the effects of shock. Not only among liberal Americans, but in the Kremlin, which undoubtedly thought that a buffoonish Trump with a comical, incompetent administration would actually be preferable to a Democratic admin no longer under a hopeless loser that Obama was. I haven’t a clue why they thought Hillary would be a bother, much less a danger. So here they are, stuck in Syria, embraced by the Mullahs whose good times just ended and backing another Arab dead-man-walking, with no clue about what Trump will do.

          • CliveM

            Avi

            One of the joys of 2016 is that I have been wrong so many times that once more won’t hurt! So I am prepared to admit I might be wrong over Trump.

            However I would say his baiting of China seems to me a bad idea that could very easily lead to a trade war. Which would not be a good thing.

            Personally I also find his cosying up to Putin disturbing.

          • Anton

            Read his actual words about Putin. He’s said only that the guy knows how to run a country, in implicit but clear contrast to Obama. It’s really no different from Thatcher’s comment that Gorbachev was a man she “could do business with”, and she was a very fine Cold Warrior.

          • CliveM

            I would trust the judgement of Mrs Thatcher, the that of President Elect Trump.

            I would say the same for Gorbychev and Putin.

          • Remains to be seen what Trump is up to and what his cabinet recommends. Another shocker no one predicted; he can be dispassionate in choosing people and he’s shown a willingness to listen more than most and change course with nary but a shrug. I wouldn’t count on anything if I was Putin…in fact I’d be getting a bit anxious right about now. Trump’s got more then a month to keep picking people, dropping Tweets hither and yon, keeping everyone guessing. The bugger is having a blast! His overwhelming advantage against the turgid world of govrnments is that as a non-politician, he’s used to flexibility, backtracking, feints, moving fast and decisiveness. And his got two brilliant, savage wolves in Congress; Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy (see them in action on YouTube and feel the fear). I know we won’t be bored…it’s pretty exciting now (and just look at markets), and he’s not in the WH yet.

          • bluedog

            China has more to loose than the US in any trade war. Trump is doing the right thing by putting China on the defensive, they’ve had it too easy for too long and are exploiting the western system on their own terms for the benefit of their own dictatorial regime.

          • Ivan M

            About time someone called the Chicom bluff. Taiwan is a heavily armed state. Both sides can do serious damage to each other. Aside from them the Japanese are not going to be elbowed out. The Vietnamese wiill fight and the Chicoms know it. The US opened up to the PRC to contain the old Soviet Union; realism would require the US to balance it out with some shift to Russia. As always with these Eurasian games the Russians end up gaining leverage. But that is as it should be given their geography.

          • carl jacobs

            You are looking at this the wrong way around. The guarantee to Lithuania isn’t going to be honored. It’s a bluff. If the Russians ever call it, the whole of NATO will crack for just the reason you say. This is why it’s so dangerous. It encourages conflict as a means to achieve a long-term Russian policy objective -separating the US from Europe.

            NATO has to be fixed. It’s obsolete. The US cannot be the guardian of Europe’s vision of Europe.

          • bluedog

            The Black Sea littoral could become very interesting once things wind down in Syria. One can hardly imagine the Kuznetzov Battle Group returning to Murmansk after operations finish in Syria, a voyage through the Bosporus to Crimea would be an attractive option. Once there, this addition to the Russian Black Sea fleet could conduct operations at various levels against Ukraine, possibly peeling off enough land to give land-locked Moldava a direct frontage to the sea. Time will tell.

    • carl jacobs

      What is your preferred outcome here?

      • For otherwise smart folk here to recognize that the KGB under its new acronym is up to the same-old-same-old, this time by playing up to conservative factions.

        • carl jacobs

          OK. But that doesn’t answer the question. What outcome do you desire in Syria on the ground? Who rules where?

          • That wasn’t an obvious question to a comment that addressed the curious effect of classic Russian propaganda among middle class English folk. Regarding Syria, the ideal outcome, of course, would be a sane government without the minority pro-Iranian, Shi’a Alawites in charge.

          • carl jacobs

            Since there is no sane Gov’t on the horizon, that doesn’t seem to be an option. You have ruled out Assad. Do you have a third choice?

          • Yes, isolation of Iran until it hangs its mullahs off lamp posts and redrawing of the borders along ethnic and religious lines, with the West rewarding good guys like the Kurds and anyone else not cutting off too many heads.

          • dannybhoy

            Isolating and/or providing aid according to how they behave would be a start. In a sense the West by supplying aid and goods ensure that these regimes continue to do what they do. Left to their own devices to live according to their faith would calm them down considerably. But ultimately until or unless Islam reforms itself, nothing will change.

          • There is no such thing, really, as a gentle reform. There is splintering and weakening. Christianity didn’t “reform;” because it wanted to, but because it splintered into the Eastern and Western Churches, then the north-south Protestant-Roman ones, all of them along neat political and economic lines.

          • dannybhoy

            Agreed, but somewhere along the line it has to become acceptable for Muslims to question Islam.

          • It is, though, but not in all places and not at this time. Ultimately, all religions, including yours and mine, are wonderfully malleable.

          • dannybhoy

            It ‘has to’, not ‘is’.
            Anyways I don’t like ‘malleable’, smacks of ‘pliable’. Truth i.e. the Almighty, is unchanging. The Scriptures are unchanging. The truths they contain both historical and spiritual, are unchanging. We may adapt those truths or emphasise certain truths according to the spirit of the age, but we stand by them until we cease to believe in the God who gave them.
            So there.

          • Malleable and pliable. None of the major religions are much like what they were even fifty years ago, never mind a few hundred. And the reason for this is not theological failure, but the disappearance of theocracies and theocratically-inclined governments. Now, some, like our Linus see this as the end of religion, rather than a religious transformation, and others see this as another challenge. The battleground is over whether the response to the challenge should be to capitulate to current conditions, or reach into tradition and find answers within. Tough call, no?

          • dannybhoy

            I like it!
            It’s due to the growth of education and knowledge during periods of relative and long term stability, leading to the common man (that’s you), being able to read and ponder these things.
            A very good thing indeed. :0)
            It seems to me that the western world has benefitted, absorbed and adapted! a lot of the teachings of Jesus Christ, whilst leaving out the spiritual dimension -and the bits they didn’t like.. ;0)
            For example charity has gone from being an individual expression of faith to a £multimillion business that hassles people for money so that it can continue to do its “good works.”
            Just like Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol shows the limitations of individual charity but highlights the inner work of grace which inspired it. (I shall start reading it again as we approach Christmas. You should too Avi. I know you appreciate Dickens and anyway, it will do you good.
            “God bless us everyone”

          • “… leading to the common man (that’s you)…”

            Hmm. Common is not how I see myself, but I’ll cope with this one. Feeling more self-confident lately.

            Now that we are back to trying to convert one another, let me direct you to the Maccabees of the Hannukah story…the phenomenally successful revolt, the rejection of assimilation even when all seems lost, as opposed to the miracle oil bit the rabbis inserted to stay relevant.

          • dannybhoy

            (apologies to Forrest Gump)
            “Common is as common does”, Avi and you is as common as what I am..
            Although I have detected a slight change in you lately. Must be the Hannukah Effect..
            Convert each other? Not so old chap. Although I am presently reading a very interesting book entitled “Jesus and Politics” by Alan Storkey. He goes into the various factions around at the time of Jesus…
            Oh dear, have I already told you this?

          • Yes, the Hannuka effect. Not as dramatic as the Christmas one, with eveyone annoying my curmudgeony self with excessive cheer and not to mention the piped music loops in stores, but as minor a festival as it may seem, Hannuka still stirs the old blood.

            No, I don’t think you told me about Storkey…unless my brain is going too.

          • dannybhoy

            Must be somebody else I told. Quite a worrying development this. It could be because as I have grown to trust the wife more, I delegate more responsibilities to her. As a consequence one’s superior leadership skills atrophy and you have to get smaller hats…
            Whaddya think; am I on to something?
            ps Storkey talks about the Maccabbees, the Zealots, the Essenes etc., in that book.. :0)

          • Anton

            But not their scriptures.

          • No, not usually, but the interpretations have always been.

          • Anton

            I don’t agree that the malleability of religions is due to shifting interpretations of their scriptures. Most often it is due to selective adherence to those scriptures.

          • Dreadnaught

            The Ahmadiyya Muslims have done this and are reviled by both Sunnis and Shiia.

          • Dominic Stockford

            They don’t question Islam. They question sunni and shia versions of Islam. They are the most proselytising of all the Islamic sects.

          • Anton

            But peaceful proselytising. Whereas…

          • Dominic Stockford

            That’s an opinion, they are quite aggressive with it here in West London. I would not describe them as ‘happy bunnies’.

          • Dreadnaught

            So long as they proselytise among Muslims only I’m comfortable with that.

          • Dominic Stockford

            There are very very few muslims in the populace in Teddington, amongst whom they proselytise on a regular basis. Nor in Twickenham come to that, another place they set up their street stalls on an almost weekly basis.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Freedom of religion means that they should be free to proselytise among us too.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s the sect this poor chap Asad Shah belonged to.. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3509367/Muslim-shopkeeper-stabbed-death-hours-posted-happy-Easter-message.html

            It’s the way ahead if Islam is to survive.

          • Anton

            Not so, Avi! It is likely that the religious differences caused the economic ones. Certainly they preceded them. And Catholic Ireland wrecks your ‘neat’ scheme of cultural borders.

          • As I said to Dominic, I withdraw my “neat lines” claim. A few good counter-points and a brief look at geography and chronology demolished that one. I do reserve the privilege to assign primary causes to material conditions in my esteemed estimations, though. After all, I am a cultural materialist.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Not neat, not at all. You need to read about the history of the area around Geneva to see that is just wrong.

          • Geneva, and let’s not forget Britain or France. I hereby withdraw “neat.”

          • Anton

            Unless you cut off the head of the hydra then…

          • Alas, the classical Hydra had a number of heads. Six, I think.

          • Anton

            OK, but the point is that you have to kill enough high-up people to prevent them regenerating the old regime. If you are too squeamish to do that, stay at home.

          • High-up people are high-up for the same reason there have been high-ups since the dawn of civilization; they command resources and with these, they can command allies and servants. Cut off the resources and it’s game over in a firtnight. That’s why this whole horrid mess could have been avoided with a continued policy of isolating Iran and a robust development of domestic energy production. I’m sure you notice that all the baddies, Russia included, are useless at everything except living off the oil and gas the Almighty has put under their bare feet.

          • Anton

            Yes, frack on!

          • Dominic Stockford

            Won’t work. They’ll simply do a North Korea, and our isolation of them will become a form of martyrdom. They’d (the mullahs) love us to do that.

          • North Korea is an extension of China without whose massive material support it collapse within a month at most.

          • Anton

            Isn’t the Alawite off the south coast of England?

          • Confused. I’m just a Canuck trucker.

          • dannybhoy
          • Anton
          • You know, that wasn’t very nice, Anton. I nearly read through the whole article looking for an Allawite connection, until I clued in.

          • Anton

            It is the garlic capital of the UK.

          • Groan.

          • len

            sounds like a spoonerism?

        • CliveM

          It’s all about labelling Avi. Call yourself right wing, wrap yourself in a nationalist flag, attend a few Church services and suddenly your the poster boy of some elements of the conservative right.
          The fact you’re a psychopath and murderer, well that simply smacks of ‘firm government ‘.

  • Anton

    I thank God that Obama will soon be out of the White House and Trump will be free to form a historic rapprochement with Russia against militant Islam in the Middle East.

    • David

      Yes !
      You’ve said it all in one sentence.

    • dannybhoy

      You are probably right about Trump’s intentions. It might be the lesser of two evils, it will probably end in tears.

  • len

    History will see the tragedy that has happened in recent years the middle East as a disaster of epic proportions. Destabilising Countries in the vain hope that’ some sort of democracy’ will emerge has proved not only to be foolish but has cost thousands of lives and destroyed the infrastructure of several Countries.A costly experiment for all concerned.
    It has taken the hard man of Russia Vladimir Putin to sort out the mess caused by the West.This is a fact many will find hard to swallow.Yes this has caused lives to be lost, but Syria was like a huge festering wound which the West had helped cause but had no idea how to heal.
    .

    • Dreadnaught

      Len it never ‘over’ for Islamic conflict they simply carry on driven by a perpetual grievance culture whichever faction they are of.
      We [Parliament] specifically kept out of Assad’s civil war and certainly didn’t start it..

      • len

        God said about Ishmael the father of the Arab Nations;”He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”
        (Genesis 16:12) Might be incorrect politically but but has been proven to be perfectly true.

  • Anton

    According to George Osborne, we are to blame because we did nothing; because Parliament voted against British military intervention against Assad in 2013. That happened because enough people saw the costs of mucking around in Libya and buzzed their MPs.

    Assad is a problem for the people of Syria; but a problem for the people of Britain he is not. Had the West backed him, we’d be in the driving seat now occupied by Putin (and I doubt that more lives would have been lost). Whereas Assad’s opponents, ISIS, *are* a problem for the people of Britain.

    George Osborne appears to care more about the people of Syria than the people of Britain. He is immoral enough even to want British troops to risk their lives at no benefit to Britain. These brave men swore to defend Crown and Country, not one bunch of people 3000 miles away against another.

    Show us a lead, George! Go there yourself with a gun and fight on behalf of ISIS! Enough other people with British passports did that on your watch.

    • Dreadnaught

      Had the West backed him, [Assad] we’d be in the driving seat that is now occupied by Putin

      This just about the dumbest statement of yours that I have read. Has Afgahnistan, Iraq and Libya taught you nothing about meddling in ME politics.
      Putin’s day of reckoning is yet to come.

      • Anton

        We meddled pretty successfully in it in the days of Empire!

        • Dreadnaught

          Really?

      • “This just about the dumbest statement of yours that I have read.”

        He’s written far worse.

    • Dominic Stockford

      We had no business getting involved at all. At any point. Had we (the ‘western allies’) not done so the whole thing might not have gone off; and even though Assad is a pretty brutal dictator there is no way that as many people would have died as have in this futile war.

  • len

    I believe the next disaster waiting for the West to blunder into and try to solve will be ‘the Palestinian problem’. (The fact that this is ‘a problem’ created by Arabs intent on destroying Israel has been totally disregarded by Western Governments).
    Obama wants to solve’ the Palestinian problem’ and sees this as his legacy and will push for this before his changeover with D Trump.
    The Pope also wants a foothold on the Temple Mount(alongside Muslims , Jews, and Christians,) all believe that possession of the Temple Mount authenticates their religion.

    • dannybhoy

      Pray that a divine act of God will bring the two mosques down?

      • Anton

        Earthquake? Or the instability created by Muslim digging beneath Temple Mount?

    • “The Pope also wants a foothold on the Temple Mount …. “

      Yes, as a forerunner to world domination.

      • dannybhoy

        You read it here first folks!
        Happy Jack tells all!

        • len

          Roll up, roll up,Swiss Cyber guard alert

      • len

        Thought that might wake you up 😉

        • Jack and the SCG is ever watchful.

          • Anton

            The Sydney Cricket Ground?

          • Swiss Cyber Guard. An secret, elite crew who defend Catholicism on the site against the likes of Len and Carl.

          • David

            On a totally irrelevant topic, tell me Jack, which part of Switzerland do the trusty Swiss Guards come from – the Italian speaking part ?

          • That’s a secret.

          • David

            Understood, just like the SAS are anonymous – good plan !

          • You know those big vases right beside or behind them? With the wide necks? There is a semi-auto and spare clips inside each. Those are top-notch tactical and special forces guys in those gay uniforms and silly-looking pikes.

          • David

            Gotcha !
            Appearances are often deceptive.
            I reckon (speaking privately to just you now) that HJ above helped to train those guys up into the deadly killers they surely are – keep that to yourself !

          • Ok, but I wasn’t kidding, actually.

          • David

            Hhmm, it becomes even more interesting !

          • David

            Avi. You’ve enlightened me. I’ve just researched the Swiss Guards on-line and discovered for myself what you already knew. Interesting. Yes appearances really are deceptive.

          • dannybhoy

            Vatican code for “I don’t know…”

          • carl jacobs

            The Cyber Swiss Guard is a secret part of the French Army so they are on the border in France somewhere.

          • The French don’t have an army.

          • carl jacobs

            So you are saying the Cyber Swiss Guard IS the French Army?

          • chefofsinners

            Do they get to wear the big girly pantaloons?

          • Hmm … just try taking one on them on.

          • len

            Poised waiting to spring, trusty muskets and sabres ever ready.

          • The trusty cloak and stiletto is ever ready.

          • chefofsinners

            I’ve told you about cross-dressing before, Jack. Just because the priests do it doesn’t mean you can.

          • Now, that has to be a poor comment for Carl to up vote it. You’re falling into bad company.

    • Most likely so. Makes for a nice distraction from the rivers of blood and growing pile of errors elsewhere in the ME. What could be more important today than the Palestinians and their inalienable right to set up a terror state smack in the middle of Israel’s heartland? After all, Gaza worked very well. Not sure that even Obama has the cojones to do this as his final nail on the coffin of his famed legacy, and I can see him dealing with Trump over this. As for the Vatican wanting a presence at the Temple, it’s too cowed by the Muslims to demand one. Israel’s emerging policy view for the centre right is establishment of sovereignty and to allow all Christian groups reasonable access. My hat off to the hero Dayan, but he sure screwed things up when he made his troops take down the new Israeli flag from the dome and handed the Mount to the Jordanians in the eternally hopeless hope that they’ll be bowled over by Jewish generosity.

      • len

        Big mistake handing over Temple Mount, also Gaza.Concessions are seen by the Arabs as weakness and encourages them to take more.
        The West is woefully ignorant in this.

      • “As for the Vatican wanting a presence at the Temple, it’s too cowed by the Muslims to demand one.”

        Why would the Catholic Church want a presence at the Temple Mount?

        • My understanding is that Christian groups routinely visit the Temple Mount and would like more access than the Jordanians allow. That’s what I was thinking of, not that they want to rebuild their cathedral there or put of a Knights of Columbus community centre.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            They actually want to turn it into a Levantine version of the main drag through Lourdes. Hundreds of souvenir shops selling cheapo religious tat with articles ranging in size from Sacred Heart of Jesus keyrings to life-size animatronic Mother Teresas who bless you when you clap your hands.

            Might as well skim a profit off the poor wretches who waste their time and money searching for religious experience in Israel.

          • No sin in making an honest living with souvenirs.

          • Access to the Temple Mount is not the same as a “presence”. Jack knows of no Catholic desire to site a place of worship there. “Christian groups” is a fairly broad description. There are some, not Catholics, who want a Third Temple rebuilt.

        • Anton

          Same reason it has built a church at every site of significance mentioned in the gospels that it can.

          • No evidence at all, then. Just speculation. The Temple Mount has no significance for Christian worship. As far as Catholicism is concerned, worship in Jerusalem focusses on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

          • Anton

            I wasn’t speculating. Or giving any reason. I was simply saying that, whatever be Rome’s reason for those many other church buildings in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, it would apply to Temple Mount too, because Temple Mount meant an enormous amount to Jesus and he was regularly there.

          • Temple worship has no significance for Catholics now there is a New Covenant. It is visited as a place that Jesus frequented before His death and its subsequent destruction.

          • Anton

            I did not suggest that the Catholic church is seeking to return to animal sacrifice on Temple Mount! But it has plonked churches on quite a few sites in the Holy Land where Jesus acted, so I am asking why its reasons for doing so do not extend to Temple Mount, where he also acted in power.

          • On the threshold of his Passion Jesus announced the coming destruction of the Temple, of which there would not remain “one stone upon another”. His being put to bodily death presaged the destruction of the Temple and the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”

            The Law and the Temple were occasions of opposition to Jesus by Israel’s religious authorities. Why would the Church want to build there? Indeed, there is a long Catholic Tradition identifying a rebuilt temple as a sign of antichrist. A rebuilt temple means a resumption of sacrifices, which means that the blood of the Son of God was insufficient, and that goats and bulls are needed instead.

          • Anton

            I’m not talking about Rome rebuilding the Temple; I’m talking about whether Rome wishes to plonk a Catholic church there. Rome has desired to do that in many important places in the Holy Land, and far be it from me to enquire into its reasons, but there is no reason for them not to apply to Temple Mount.

          • Jack has given you reasons why it might not want to. So far as he knows there has never been any desire to “plonk” a Catholic Church there.

          • Anton

            Well I am glad at the absence of plonkers.

          • Yes, the proddies aren’t there yet.

          • Anton

            Can’t speak for all proddies as we are thankfully not a vast hierarchy, but you are welcome to Holy Sepulchre as far as I’m concerned, and Temple Mount is for the Jews (although I do not support any attempt of theirs to rebuild the Temple if the aim is to reinstitute animal sacrifice).

    • Royinsouthwest

      The Pope also wants a foothold on the Temple Mount(alongside Muslims , Jews, and Christians,) all believe that possession of the Temple Mount authenticates their religion.

      What Christians believe that? Are there really many Jews or Muslims who believe it?

      • len

        Some Jews want the Temple rebuilt . The Pope wants control of Christian Holy Sites and Islam also lays claim to Temple Mount (where they claim Ishmael not Isaac was offered as a sacrifice by Abraham) and thereby Ishmael was claimed to be the inheritor of Gods Promises not Isaac.
        When the Messiah returns those in control of Temple Mount will claim the Messiah as theirs.This event could happen with a false Messiah who would appear as the genuine one.

        The Pope has made moves to broker deals between the Palestinians and Jews and the control of Christian Holy Sites could be his reward for brokering some sort of peace deal.

    • chefofsinners

      Get real, Len. Obama isn’t going to be solving so much as a crossword between now and January. He’s busy packing.
      The West has been trying to solve the Palestinian problem for decades. At the moment we’re too concerned with Syria, Putin, ISIS, Turkey, North Korea, China, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen and the EU to pay too much attention. And guess what? The less attention you pay this ‘problem’, the smaller it gets.

      • len

        Obama wants to go down in history for doing something ‘good’ (in his eyes at least) and times running out.
        Watch this space.

        • “Watch this space.”

          The one between your ears?

          • chefofsinners

            Bad man.

          • Pot … kettle … black.

          • len

            Retreat back into the shadows Jack and watch you don`t fall over that Halberd.

        • chefofsinners

          He made the democrats so unpopular they lost to Trump. That’s what he’ll go down in history for.

          • len

            That’s what he’s worried about.

      • Actually, Obama could vote for a Palestinian state in the Security Council, primarily to stick it to Netanyahu. Depends whether he wants to go down as a rasha, a cursed evil man whose name is to be obliterated. Kind of a waste of all the hanukkah candle lighting parties at the WH, if you ask me.

        • chefofsinners

          Relax. He won’t.

          • I’m not overly worried, but thought of letting you know that Len had a point.

          • chefofsinners

            Len has no point. Linus will ascend to heaven in a fiery chariot before this happens.

          • I try not to debate religion, but if anyone can pull that one off, it will be Linus with a new fake identity.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            If I had a fiery chariot to hand, I would not be using it to search for a vengeful homophobic spook. As all the evidence (or rather the lack thereof) suggests he’s a total figment of the Christian imagination, why would I waste such a valuable vehicle by chasing shadows and myths?

            On the off-chance this eejit Jesus rocks up tomorrow and turns out to be a dead ringer for the appalling bigot described in the bible, as his avowed aim is to roast me for all eternity because I refuse to obey his arbitrary and ridiculous “laws”, I should think I’d be using this fiery chariot to get as far away from him as possible, don’t you?

            As that’s not likely to happen however, perhaps I would use it to find a nice habitable planet somewhere and found a colony open to selective immigration. No Christians allowed. No Muslims or Jews either. In fact no religions at all. The universe’s (or at least the human part of it) first entirely secular world.

            Now isn’t that a nice Yuletide fantasy? A world unpolluted by the waste products of decaying religions! Otherwise known as Paradise.

          • chefofsinners

            Good news, Linus. You are indeed headed for a place where there are no Christians.
            In the meantime, why don’t you go and find a nice habitable blog somewhere with no religion? And pollute it with your own delightful waste products?
            Seasonal salutations old boy.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Isn’t that Lennonism?

            Now that I have, from your reply to the Masterchef, solid evidence that you and Linus are the same person, may I remind you and everyone here that much of the trouble inflicted on Ireland in recent centuries came about because of French interference, seeking to use Ireland as a catspaw in oder to get at England.

          • The Explorer

            I suppose it depends on how parochial God is. If He’s just the God of this world, you might escape. But if He’s the God of the Universe, then you won’t escape just by emigrating to another planet, any more than you would by leaving Europe for Australia.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            It rather depends on whether the fiery chariot is equipped with a trans-dimensional drive that allows travel from one universe to another.

            If our universe is just one brane out of many in a varied multiverse, leaving this brane may also mean leaving its god behind too.

          • chefofsinners

            Aint no fiery chariot can swing low enough to pick you up.

          • The Explorer

            Wherever the fiery chariot may take you, do hop on board, there’s a good chap.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            What, you mean you don’t want to find out if this supposedly omnipotent god of yours is omnipotent enough to change my point of view with a simple demonstration of his divine power? If I leave, how will you ever know?

            I mean, he did it for Saul. So why not for me?

            Or is your desire not to be contradicted stronger than your desire to see a soul saved?

            Haven’t died to yourself completely yet, have you? Your selfish desires are still what motivate you.

            Or am I simply too depraved to recognise holiness when I see it? So which of the fruits of the Spirit is demonstrated by “bog off back where you came from, bloody atheist!” I must admit, it’s got me stumped. ????

            Yet more evidence that Christianity doesn’t do what it says on the tin?

            Put your faith in in the snake oil salesmen who tout it as the answer to all our ills and you’ll end up regretting it.

          • The Explorer

            I suppose it depends what part of the tin you’re reading. We may be told to forgive seventy times seven, but there comes at time when God says enough is enough and brings down the curtain. The play is over. Christ was quite pragmatic: the disciples would often fail to get people to listen because Christ himself failed to get people to listen. And, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet.” (Matt. 10:14).

            What fruit of the Spirit is demonstrated? Discernment. If God’s patience is not limitless, ours need not be either.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Ah, Christians!

            Your love for your fellow man is limitless, with limits, and unconditional, with conditions.

            You’re not inconsistent at all, are you?

          • Inspector General

            Linus, plans for 2017! The Inspector intends to mount an in depth study of the connection between male homosexuality and cannibalism. It’s never been done before – no one dared! His findings will be published, and he thoroughly expects to receive due acknowledgement from academia. An honorary PhD would be rather nice.

            Until then!

          • The Explorer

            Liberalism’s love for humanity is limitless and unconditional and unjudgemental and fluffy. Christianity’s is not.

            If Universalism is true, and everyone is going to be saved eventually, then it’s worth taking endless time over a rebellious soul. If Universalism is false – as I believe it to be – then it is not.

        • carl jacobs

          Sure he could do that. He would probably be drawn and quartered by the Democratic Party for doing so. And it would sure show up in a lot of Republican Campaign ads. But he could do that.

          Bet he won’t.

          • I won’t bet on such poor odds, but I don’t think we can count it out. The Dems have veered left, left enough to even consider Ellison as party leader, and in their current psychosis might look for a new identity and a signature shtik.

    • David Trevett

      HH will need a Crusade. Nothing less…

  • Your Grace,

    It might turn out to be important, to God’s plan, for simple, imperfectly educated, and perhaps even rather *young” folk, whose first language might not be English, nevertheless to seek out the wisdom necessary to understand what’s going on in the world today; wisdom which the internet has brought only a click away from many such seekers, ofttimes, in the writings of clever and good people who tend to write wordy but clever prose rather a lot, which the said hoi poloi darn well ought to study, if they know what’s good for them. Correct? And then the talented writers upload some of their educative prose for the general public to read, if they wish? That is, writers like thee, for instance, and, for that matter, perhaps even me too, according to some of my fewer fans than yours.

    With such folk in mind, your readers and mine, as well as myself, who am aged 63 after being top of the class year after year in a private school about 50 years ago, and who am nowadays a fellow online writer of yours in posh English, who has also had a stab at learning Latin, Attic Greek, French, Russian, Romanian and Xhosa in his time, I beg you, please, to stop using words that even I have never come across before, sometimes capitalised to suggest that they are adjectival of proper nouns equally unknown. Like, “Levant”, descriptive today, on your Grace’s part, of (apparently) a “region” that includes Syria.

    By the time I’d penned this rant, this far, I’d already forgotten what various web-publishers of (shall we say?) dictionarial persuasion (who were by no means unamimous as to the semantics) opined that this new-to-me word “Levant” meant.

    http://JohnAllman.UK

    • David

      The term “Levant” refers to a region, so a proper noun I’d suggest, long used to describe a vaguely defined, large encompassing area, east of the Mediterranean sea. But I agree old Cranny does like some pretty obscure words doesn’t he – fun though isn’t it, although perhaps a touch elitist ?
      No ! Ah well, each to his own.

    • Anton

      The word “Levant” appears in Brideshead Revisited.

    • Intonsus

      ‘Levant’ is an ordinary and common word to describe the region.
      I’m about the same age as you and first came across it in the adventure books for boys I read at school about 50 yrs ago

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Some here have been speaking outgoing President Obama. He is, alas, little more than a mouthpiece for the Washington inner circle. See, for example, this extract from Barnabas Fund:

    Nigerian Christians were bitterly upset when US Secretary of State, John Kerry, visited their country in August and met only with politicians from the predominantly Muslim north, ignoring the mainly Christian south. They were also hurt that, when he spoke to condemn Boko Haram, he indicated that the terrorist group targeted educational places, women and girls, and Muslims. He completely left out their number one target: Christians.

    Our media are little better. In today’s Telegraph I read:

    ‘I ain’t sitting near a Muslim’: Great British Bake Off’s Nadiya Hussain reveals racist incident on train

    What I object to is the way that our media portray the British, and especially the English, as uniquely at fault in this regard. Maybe it’s on a sort of “love your enemy” basis, but even taking that noble precept tra mad (beyond excellence), should one pretend that he is (a) not an enemy (b) a lovable cute kitten?

    • Anton

      John Kerry disgusts me. Especially after his facelift.

  • DP111

    President Elect Donald Trump’s view is that the Two state solution is faulty, as the Palestinians will not accept peace with Israel. That means that Donald Trump will go for an expanded Israel, and leave the Palestinians in Gaza with a state they can call their own.

    Donald Trump’s recent appointments indicate that. I also believe that Donald Trump will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and move the US embassy there.

    This will inevitably lead to an Intifada, and a war, which will then allow Israel to cement the policy. It will also lead to serious disturbances in the West, as well as America. Again, Trump will use the disturbances and violence, to show that Muslims are an existential threat to the West.

  • Avi I suppose you will also think this guy is a Russian operative too.

    Rev. Andrew Ashdown talking from Damascus 17th December 2016

  • Beeswax

    It’s remarkable the ease with which the MSM have swallowed the “Fake News”, or propaganda, as we used o know it, coming out of (so called) rebel held areas of Aleppo.

    The “news” we receive secondhand from so called video journalists who have a free pass from the terrrebelists, whereas western journalists would face probable execution.