Poppy Exhibition at Bretton Park

Went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, today to see the exhibition of some of the poppies that were previously on display at the Tower of London. The exhibit is called Wave, and to me takes the form of a water fall or a wave breaking on the shore.

Projectile vomit would be another analogy (though that is a product of my fertile imagination), but that would imply negativity for something that is really quite excellent, indeed it seems like people are coming from miles around to see this spectacle and the carparks are at bursting point to the extent that adjoining fields have been opened up for car parking. I personally enjoyed seeing this and would recommend it to others. Well worth a visit.

The press release for the exhibition states:

“Wave is from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – poppies and original concept created by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London from August to November 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one to honour every death in the British and Colonial forces of the First World War.”

 

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Shield Bugs in Yorkshire

Written on 5 June 2014

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I was just looking through some photographs I took earlier this year. I came across one of a rather unusual insect that I took on 30 April 2014. Looking at it, it this exotic creature put me in mind my of the days when I studied geology – it reminded a bit of a trilobite.  I thought I would try to find out what it was so I Googled the phrase “acorn shaped insect”. I came across references to “stink bugs” and “shield bugs”.

According to an article on the BBC website they are more normal in the Mediterranean though they have more recently become established in the south of England. There have been some suggestions that the spread of these creatures is indicative of climate change.

They are supposed to be rare outside of the south of England but I took the following photo in Yorkshire. Hope it means we will have a nice summer!

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The EU, Democratic Peace Theory, and the Ukrainian Crisis

Written on 8 May 2014

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In my previous article I hinted at the role of European Union foreign policy in the creation of the crisis in Ukraine.  I will now focus on how the EU’s aggressive foreign policy is mirrored by its erosion of democratic structures and its crackdown on dissent in its domestic policy making.

Under Democratic Peace Theory it is postulated that democracies do not wage war on each other.  The EU, as indicated by its institutional structures and its lack of tolerance for political dissent, cannot be regarded as a democracy.  Merely having something referred to as a “parliament” is not sufficient for a political entity to be a democracy.

In some ways the European Parliament is similar to the State Duma of Imperial Russia under Tsar Nicolas II which existed but had no real power.  Imperial Russia was never a democracy just as the European Union has never been a democracy.  The fact that many of the powers of EU states have been transferred to the non-democratic European Commission mean that those individual member states also can no longer be regarded as genuine democracies. According to Democratic Peace Theory this bodes ill for international peace.

I just read an article at Breitbart.com entitled “The European Commission is pumping propaganda money into Britain, trying to interfere in the elections to the European Parliament” that shows how democracy within the European Union has been and continues to be subverted.  This development arises from the fundamentally anti-democratic structure of the EU itself.  If this article is correct then state resources are being actively employed to subvert the democratic process in order to control the outcome of an election.

The dirty tricks or “active measures” against political opponents of the EU regime are not restricted to UKIP.  On 26 April 2014 another candidate for the European elections, Liberty GB leader Paul Weston, was arrested because he quoted Winston Churchill in a speech.  Prior to this the Liberty GB radio host Tim Burton was taken to court in what appears to be an act of vexatious litigation.  After the expense and inconvenience of going to court he was acquitted.  The pattern is clear, it is only opponents of the EU who are arrested and exposed to what amounts to judicial intimidation.

These episodes of political repression illustrate clearly the direction in which the EU is going.  The claimed motive for such repression may be regarded as necessary by many, but never-the-less the impact on democracy is dire.  The way a state treats its own citizens is a window through which to see how it is likely to behave with its neighbours.  Repressive regimes are more likely to have aggressive foreign policies because a population’s natural inclination for peace is more likely to be supressed by those who hold power.

This perhaps explains recent EU policy with regard to Ukraine.  The people of Europe have no interest in the situation in Ukraine, but EU leaders do.  The people of Europe have not real power to stop them from the dangerous course that they have chosen to take.  The anti-democratic basis of the EU makes a major new war in Europe more likely!  Far from blaming Vladimir Putin for the crisis, blame – if any is to be applied, could more likely be laid at the door of the commissars, apparatchiks, and enforcers of the EU.

 

The Ukrainian Crisis and the Role of the European Union: The Great Game in the 21st Century

Written on 7 May 2014.

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Above: Cape to Cairo – expansionism in the past. Does the modern EU want to bestride Eurasia like a colossus, from the Atlantic to the Pacific?

The Ukrainian Crisis illustrates the re-emergence of Great Power rivalry in the new multi-polar world order. To blame Russia for this situation is simplistic in the extreme.

It could be argued that the European Union encouraged the violent uprising against President Viktor Yanukovich. This did, after all, follow his abandonment of a trade agreement with the EU. The EU supported the protesters of President Yanukovich because it was in its strategic interests to do so. It opposes those who protest against the new regime in Kiev for exactly the same reasons.

It could also be argued that the EU is now an aggressive expansionist power. Indeed as the Russian sphere was shrinking the EU was expanding into that sphere. Furthermore, the Barcelona Declaration adopted at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference in November 1995 could indicate an intention to expand the EU into North Africa and the Levant. This may explain the so called Arab Spring and the ongoing crisis in Syria!

Perhaps Russia is wondering what territory on its borders will be next! Maybe it worries that at some time in the future the EU may repeat the process by sowing division within the Russian Federation itself. The “Manifest Destiny” of the EU currently seems to recognize no bounds.

While the EU does not have a problem with the referendum later this year that gives people in Scotland the opportunity to vote for the partition of the UK, it does not seem to be willing to extend this logic to Ukraine. Partition in the Ukrainian situation makes sense for the sake of international stability, while with Scotland independence is a political whim. Indeed, the call for Scottish independence appears to be personal hobby horse of certain Scottish politicians. Of course having the states within its borders carved up makes the central EU authority stronger and its ‘member states’ less influential! What does this tell us about the ambitions of the EU and its rulers.

The Western media seems eager to back up the propaganda of the EU. We see within EU countries how certain stories both international and domestic are suppressed by those who control the media. We also see an EU elite, using the un-democratic EU executive – the European Commission, to trample on democratic freedoms within the EU, and demonize opponents of the regime. We see this currently in the UK with the negative coverage of the efforts of the resurgent UKIP. The EU as an institution therefore cannot argue that it somehow has more democratic legitimacy than Russia. Indeed unlike in the EU the executive in Russia is elected by the people.

The situation in Ukraine is merely the result of great powers pursuing, promoting, and defending their own self interests. No side can be blamed for that. It is unfortunate that the people of Ukraine are now pawns in a new Great Game.

Cyber Security and International Relations

Written on 11 March 2014

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I have just read a short, but interesting article by Rod Beckstrom entitled ‘It’s a MAD, MAD, MAD Cyber World’.  It was particularly interesting to me because of my academic background in international relations on which it draws parallels.  The article compares the current cyber security situation with the Cold War national security concepts, particularly with the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction(MAD) Doctrine of the Cold War.

MAD doctrine related to the concept of deterrence that kept the peace during the Cold War. Under MAD conflict between the Great Powers was prevented by making the cost so high it would be rigorously avoided.  The idea was based on the assertion that if NATO was attacked by the Warsaw Pact the response would be total rather than proportional.  This meant that any attack would result in General Nuclear War. This was understood by all the actors.

Beckstrom refers to the Internet variant MAD as Mutually Assured Disruption.  This is based on the fact that the Internet is of immense value to all nations and that if one nation attacks another the other will respond in kind.  Of course, the actors on the Internet are not restricted to nation states.  The situation is therefore far more complex than the Cold War, and rogue elements are far more prevalent.  Also the consequences of upsetting the game would by no means herald the end of civilisation. The doctrine would therefore not be as an effective behavioural control mechanism as it was during the Cold War.

Nevertheless, an interesting article which can be read at: http://dld-conference.com/articles/its-a-mad-mad-mad-cyber-world.

Uganda and the West’s Inconsistent Approach to Gay Rights

Written on 24 February 2014.

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It is good that Western leaders are criticizing Uganda for this new anti-gay law. However, where is the criticism of the West’s Middle Eastern ally – Saudi Arabia? Where are the calls for the ending of diplomatic relations with that country as well?

It seems that the concern about anti-gay laws is inconsistent.  Why is that, and is this current criticism about something else?  Does the reference in the article to “evangelical Christians” give the real game away?  The Guardian writes:

“Homophobia, supported by many US-funded evangelical Christians, has become more virulent in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.” (1)

Does this explain the willingness to do the right thing with regard to Uganda, but the unwillingness to do the same thing with regard to Saudi Arabia.  Of course there are obviously no evangelical Christians preaching openly in Saudi Arabia!  Is this latest moral indignation just part of the Western elite’s ongoing crusade against Christianity?

If Western elites really cared about gay rights then they would be more consistent in their criticism.

(1) Uganda politicians celebrate passing of anti-gay laws, the Guardian, 24 February 2014

 

Scarlett Johansson Makes a Stand Against Bullying Sanctions Movement

Written on 2 February 2014

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Above: Israel – View from Mount Carmel

I’ve just been reading an article on the Telegraph website by Brendan O’Neill about Scarlett Johansson.  I feel compelled to put fingers to keyboard to commend her on her decision of to give her role with Oxfam the big elbow after the charity allegedly ‘hinted’ that she should sever her links with SodaStreamdue to the company’s links with Israeli settlements.

Personally I think Oxfam should focus on its charity role rather than engage in the politics of the trendy, politics which involves very nasty attempts to bully and demonise the only true functioning and well established democracy in the Middle East.  Trade Unions should perhaps do the same and concentrate on representing their members in these difficult times.

There is too much bullying behaviour by Cultural Marxist types who seem to vent their spite on anything remotely Western or democratic these days.  Oxfam’s apparent attempt to ‘get to’ Scarlett in some way seems to me to fit their modus operandi.  Israel as a functioning Western style democracy obviously upsets them.   Good to see someone standing up to them rather than being intimidated by them.

Are charities really champions of the needy, or are they champions of a the dangerous Cultural Marxist political ideology that seeks to undermine the Western world?

Well done Scarlett!

See Brendan O’Neill’s article HERE.

Alliances And The Contemporary International System

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The following are a few thoughts that I put together in response to a discussion on a LinkedIn discussion board about the idea of an Asian NATO http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/9/lyons-an-asian-maritime-alliance/:

I think an Asian ‘version’ of NATO would not have much of a foundation based on shared values and interests of Asian nations.  Furthermore in an increasingly globalising world geographically based alliances are not as relevant as they once were.  NATO itself is a relic of the Cold War based on Cold War realities rather than the challenges of the contemporary world.  Increasingly some of its member states have diverging interests, and conflicting values.  Alliances need to be based on shared values and shared interests and just as NATO no longer has that basis a potential Asian ‘version’ of NATO would not either.

To protect Western interests and western democratic values a new alliance system needs to be devised that operates in the context of globalisation.  There is already an emerging alliance that operates in the United Nations that is at odds with Western democratic ideals and that is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  That ‘alliance’ of states has been active in diplomatic circles trying to undermine basic Western values such as freedom of expression and impose its own value system on as much of the world as possible.

An alliance of democracies incorporating European and North American countries together with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Israel, and India would have a much better basis for an alliance that championed shared values and interests an which would protect the freedoms and way of life that we hold dear.

 

 

Freedom of Expression, Even For Those With Whom I Disagree!

Written on 23 December 2013

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Above: Chris Knowles, believer in liberty.

An article posted yesterday at Harry’s Place discussed a proposal to create anti-extremism “Asbos” for 25 individuals who have been designated as hate clerics.  I commented at Harry’s Place under the article.

Personally I am opposed to the idea and see this as yet another attack of the traditional British liberty.  While I oppose such ‘clerics’ and disagree with much of what they say I believe that what is being proposed represents a very dangerous step that will ultimately undermine the freedom of us all.  It illustrates the totalitarian impulses of our political elite. Undermining freedom of speech is a slippery slope to tyranny and a very dangerous move!  Of course freedom of speech no longer truly exists in the UK because of similar power grabs by the Government so my position on the matter could be considered irrelevant.  Individuals and groups who previously provided counter arguments to people such as the clerics in question have already been censored.  The process of the debasement of liberty has already started.  This is just another measure in support of that process.  Making that situation worse does not help the cause of freedom.

Another commenter at Harry’s Place made a fair enough point when they criticised my position on the grounds that the clerics themselves were advocates of tyranny.  However, it is my firm belief that the only way to deal with those who advocate tyranny is through counter argument and not censorship.  Taking away a person’s right to speak their mind is not something that can somehow be cloaked in the garb of egalitarianism.  The censorship that has already been put in place needs to be reversed, not built upon.

Censorship always need censors and it is those censors who would eventually dictate all morality and decide who can say what and when. Eroding free speech is a mechanism to create dictators and to give power to a small group rather the population as a whole. Do we really want to give that sort of power to politicians?  When you have freedom of expression bad ideas are out in the open and can be criticised. When you have dictatorship, you believe what you are told to believe whether it is good or bad.

As things stand, political and media elites play one group off against another in the clamour to end freedom of expression. One group demands that its opponents are censored. Then the censored group does the same, and the process continues. Where does the process end? Who will be the next censored individual or group? Which group will be next to have the right to freedom of expression taken away? What will be the next issue that people are not allowed to talk about?

Soon the only people who are considered sufficiently ‘trained’ to have the necessary expertise to say what is considered to be the ‘right thing’ will be a small and elite group indeed. That group, the ‘political class’ have already proved that they have nothing much of value to say anyway!

I would say these clerics want to see an end to freedom of speech and we are now giving them exactly what they want. After all, it is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which is leading the way globally against freedom of expression. We surely don’t want them to be the ones holding the censor’s pen and deciding what individuals are allowed to say!  However, I fear that this is the direction in which our society is unfortunately heading.