April 3, 2009
Gordon Brown would want us to believe that there has been a cash injection of $1 trillion into the IMF to help the world’s struggling economies. The headlines this morning are full of quotes from the leaders hailing this as a great step forward in the new world economic order. Brown is this morning basking in the glory of putting together a ‘global’ deal and he also has his support from Obama who hailed the outcome as ‘historic.’
But will this ‘deal’ do what it says on the tin and reverse the recession? I doubt it. As I mentioned yesterday, the G20 meeting has come 6 months too late. Most leaders of G20 nations have put measures in place to deal with their economies and will wait to see whether they work before doing anything else regardless of what they have signed up to.
And once the economists and other analysts have had time to look at the astronomical figures talked about at the G20, we will have a presented to us a completely new picture, for example, at least $250bn of the trade finance will come from existing programs of export guarantees in rich countries and isn’t new money. No doubt there’s much of this in this $1 trillion package. Fraser Nelson has written a typically excellent piece over at coffee house which is a must read.
April 1, 2009
President Obama has strolled into Downing Street and Gordon Brown has been grinning as best he can in the hope that this shot will be splashed all over the papers tomorrow. Gordon Brown is going against all his natural instincts but he’s managed to force the smile out!!
Now that is out of the way, we must hope that an agreement is reached among the G20 that actually leads to affirmative action to deal with the world economy. I am highly sceptical that any deal will be reached that will have a quick and positive impact on the world economy not least for the reason that this meeting has come at least 6 months too late and all the major western nations are gripped by recession. But better late than never and if all the leaders sign up to anti-protectionists measures (such as dismissing British jobs for British workers type nonsense) that will be at least something positive coming out of what appears to be a very expensive international talking shop.
March 30, 2009
Further evidence of the sorry state of affairs in Pakistan as gunmen have seized a police academy in Lahore.
These attacks are becoming increasingly frequent and the Government of Pakistan must step up its security to an extremely high level to avoid giving the impression that it simply has no strategy to deal with the militants. This attack has similarities to the attacks in Mumbai and on the Sri Lankan cricket team and should be a concern for other countries such as the UK where terrorist could try and replicate the methods used by the terrorists in Pakistan.
March 26, 2009
Police have been called in to investigate the claims of torture by Binyam Mohamed and determine whether any MI5 officer was complicit in the torture. This is entirely appropriate and as I have mentioned before, there should be no place in civilised society for methods of interrogation which are not only medieval but quite simply counter productive.
March 11, 2009
Those Muslims in Luton protesting against soldiers returning from Iraq should this morning reflect on and carefully consider their behaviour and actions. The shouting and waving of placards accusing the soldiers of being criminals and murderers was not only offensive but indefensible and portrayed them in the worst light imaginable.
Over a million people marched against the Iraq war and many more opposed it. But their opposition does not give them the right to abuse soldiers who having risked their lives in battle have returned home – no doubt elated simply to be alive! The decision to go to war was a political one and not taken by a vote among soldiers. They were following orders which every army in a democratic society has to do otherwise the governance of a country would simply fail. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of any war, a nation’s soldiers must be treated with dignity and respect and the soldiers parading in Luton should not have had to face the abuse and vile placards as they did yesterday.
The protestors should give thanks to the fact that they are living in a country which allows them to publicly protest regardless of the offense their behaviour causes to the rest of the country. If they had been living in Iraq under Saddam Hussain’s rule and had carried out the same protest against Iraqi soldiers returning from war in Iran or in Kuwait, they would have been very fortunate to have had more than 24 hours to reflect on their actions.
With freedoms of speech and expression comes responsibility. The protestors should have given thought to the consequences of their actions and the offense they would have caused and exercised caution and restraint. Whatever cause they were supporting is not done any favours by such abusive and childish behaviour and once again a minority has brought shame on the majority of Muslims in this country.
March 3, 2009
The almost unbelievable attack on the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore is further evidence of the perilous security situation in Pakistan. While it is too early to lay blame on a particular group, it seems that once again extremists determined to ensure that Pakistan descends into lawlessness giving them the opportunity to take control are to blame.
February 24, 2009
The return of Binyam Mohammed from Guantanamo has highlighted the futility of indefinite detention without trial and engaging in acts of torture to extract information. Here was a man picked up in Pakistan having gone to Afghanistan who did not provide a satisfactory explanation as to why he was there and who thereafter was accused of allegedly meeting and being involved with extremists.
Mr Mohammed’s travels and activities were suspicious but the fact that he was held without trial and tortured have ensured that his actions have become almost irrelevant. He has not been charged on his return as there was no chance of any conviction based on evidence obtained under torture. The US authorities in an almost blasé manner released him and we have a situation now where people are raising questions as to why an alleged extremist is allowed into this country. That question will never be satisfactorily answered as once a person is tortured and detained without trial, he simply cannot be charged and tried as there is no chance of having a fair.
If we assume that this man is dangerous as the US authorities have one for the past seven years, then security of this country has undoubtedly been compromised by the behaviour of US authorities, and if allegations are true by the complicity in torture of some UK intelligence personnel. If Mr Mohammed is innocent which I believe he is – if only on the presumption that everyone is innocent until proven otherwise, then he has been treated in an appallingly shabby and abusive way which does nothing to enhance the democratic cause around the world – if democracies behave like dictatorial regimes when their security is threatened, then one can only imagine how dictators respond when they are threatened. And how can we lecture others on human rights abuses when we have cases like Mr Mohammed’s?
Guantanamo is a black mark on the free world and the sooner its inmates are tried fairly or released the sooner we can claim the moral high ground in the battle against extremism.