Leave of Absence 1692

I was invited to be on the Murnaghan programme on Sky News this morning – which I always find a great deal more intelligent than the Andrew Marr alternative on the BBC. I declined because I did not want to get up and get a 7.30am train from Ramsgate on a Sunday morning. I had a meeting until 11.30pm last night planning a conference on human rights in Balochistan [I still tend to say Baluchistan], and I have a newly crowned tooth that seems not to want to settle down. But I am still worried by my own lack of energy, which is uncharacteristic. Is this old age?

I also have some serious work to do on my Burnes book, and next week I shall be staying in London to be in the British Library reading room for every second of its opening hours. So there may be a bit of a posting hiatus. I have in mind a short post on an important subject on which I suspect that 99% of my readership – including the regular dissident commenters – will strongly disagree with me.

This is a peculiarly introspective post, perhaps because my tooth is hurting, but I seem to have this curmudgeonly spirit which wishes to react to the huge popularity of this blog by posting something genuinely held but unpopular; a genuine view but one I don’t normally trumpet. The base thought seems to be “You wouldn’t like me if you really knew me”.

Similarly when I wrote Murder in Samarkand I was being hailed as a hero by quite a lot of people for my refusal to go along with the whole neo-con disaster of illegal wars, extraordinary rendition and severe attacks on civil liberties, sacrificing my fast track diplomatic career as a result. My reaction to putative hero worship was to publish in Murder in Samarkand not just the political facts, but an exposure of my own worst and most unpleasant behaviour in my private life.

I am in a very poor position to judge, but I believe the result rather by accident turned out artistically compelling, if you don’t want to read the book you can get a good idea of that by clicking on David Tennant in the top right of this blog and listening to him playing me in David Hare’s radio adaptation.

Anyway, that’s enough musing. You won’t like my next post, whenever it comes. Promise.

1,692 thoughts on “Leave of Absence

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  • technicolour

    Yes, Nuid, I know a bit about her. She has joined the academic right in a bid for protection.

    Obviously when my own lunatic, fantastic, hateful views are censored, I always feel justified in resorting to violence – just so anyone knows.

  • Yonatan

    Regarding the timing of the release of “Innocence of Muslims”, a researcher, Seth Anziska, looking into Israeli archives relating to the Sabra and Shatila massacres 30 years ago has uncovered evidence of deliberate deception by Israel regarding their intent:

    “The archival record reveals the magnitude of a deception that undermined American efforts to avoid bloodshed. Working with only partial knowledge of the reality on the ground, the United States feebly yielded to false arguments and stalling tactics that allowed a massacre in progress to proceed.

    The lesson of the Sabra and Shatila tragedy is clear. Sometimes close allies act contrary to American interests and values. Failing to exert American power to uphold those interests and values can have disastrous consequences: for our allies, for our moral standing and most important, for the innocent people who pay the highest price of all.”

    (h/t Annie Robbins Mondoweiss)


    Cui bono? indeed as I said in another thread.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Shocking piece of propaganda on Channel 4 News tonight.

    Jon Snow intoning solemnly over images of Syrians making arms to fight the regime:

    ‘…they only have basic weapons, they have to make the rest themselves, even, should it come to it, suicide belts…’

    The suggestion that things are really bad if they have to make their own suicide belts is, of course, preposterous.

    Does he think people normally buy them from a shop?

  • Clark

    CE, “feedback” is a term from engineering, describing systems where the output of a system is “fed back” to the input. “Negative feedback” is used to stabilise and regulate systems. Feedback is called “negative” when the output affects the input in the inverted direction.

    For instance: a water heating tank controlled by a thermostat is an example of negative feedback. The heater heats the water which heats a temperature-controlled switch called a thermostat. When the switch gets hot enough, it turns the heater off. Later, when the tank of water and hence the switch have cooled sufficiently, the switch comes back on. This keeps the water temperature close to the setting on the thermostat. Hotter water leads to less heating, cooler water leads to more heating, so the feedback is “negative”.

    Living systems have multiple, complex feedback systems. Some we are conscious of, like hunger and thirst, and others we’re less aware of, like regulation of body temperature. Such systems are called homoeostasis.

    Democracy is a sort of feedback process; if the voters don’t like the policies they can “switch off” those politicians by replacing them with others. If they do like them, they can strengthen their power by increasing their majority, though, notably, this doesn’t happen often. From an engineering perspective, I’d describe most democracies as far too crude for adequate control of the political systems.

    Voters are directly affected by their government’s domestic policies. If the voters don’t like those effects, they can vote against the government when they get the chance.

    Voters are not directly affected by their government’s foreign policies, they do not directly experience those policies’ effects. Thus, foreign policy is outside the feedback loop; it’s as if the thermostat is in the wrong water tank. National democracy is thus an inappropriate tool for attempting to regulate foreign policy. Something better needs to be developed.

  • technicolour

    Er, don’t want to ‘goad’ you, Clark. I hope it’s Ok to disagree. “Voters are not directly affected by their government’s foreign policies, they do not directly experience those policies’ effects.”

    Emotionally I would say that everyone in the UK was affected by the Afghanistan/Iraq attacks. You could cite everything from the perpetual headlines about death and destruction (at a level to be read by children) to the atmosphere on Oxford St after the marches.

    Practically of course we have all been affected by the billions pumped into a dying and death-mongering industry. We have all been affected by the crackdown on civil liberties, with the blowback from our terrorism as an excuse.

    None of us have remained untouched by this. The polls which continually showed around 70 percent against the attacks and which still show the same amount in favour of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan rather show it.

  • DoNNyDarKo

    Wish a bit of negative feedback could switch the f****rs off Clark !
    This Govt. isn’t exactly the dream team and we didnt vote them in, and Clegg is clogging the system and we can’t remove the blockage in the cludgie. The alternative is enough to make you want to grommit.

    KingofWelshNoir: What , NATO not managed to manufacture suicide belts yet ? They just financially support the people that do.Suppose it’s win win boom !
    There has been so much weaponry smuggled into Syria , they are definitely not short of bullets of even rpg’s.But if it isn’t getting to the front line, where the funk is it going ?
    Parliaments never going to be asked about a war again because of the NATO defence clause.Not to be confused with Santa Claus or The Pirates Codex.

    Could use some negative feedback !

  • Cryptonym

    @Technicolour: Chomsky’s piece is rather weak, he doesn’t make the case at all for US national interests, or other domestic lobbies (oil, energy, other religious or single issue groups) trumping ‘The Lobby’.

    There’s a lot more like that. Take the worst crime in Israel’s history, its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 with the goal of destroying the secular nationalist PLO and ending its embarrassing calls for political settlement, and imposing a client Maronite regime. The Reagan administration strongly supported the invasion through its worst atrocities, but a few months later (August), when the atrocities were becoming so severe that even NYT Beirut correspondent Thomas Friedman was complaining about them, and they were beginning to harm the US “national interest,” Reagan ordered Israel to call off the invasion, then entered to complete the removal of the PLO from Lebanon, an outcome very welcome to both Israel and the US (and consistent with general US opposition to independent nationalism). The outcome was not entirely what the US-Israel wanted, but the relevant observation here is that the Reaganites supported the aggression and atrocities when that stand was conducive to the “national interest,” and terminated them when it no longer was (then entering to finish the main job). That’s pretty normal.

    He discounts 1948, surely a worse crime in Israeli history?
    He doesn’t make clear which parts of the Israeli’s desired outcome synced with US interest. “the goal of destroying the secular nationalist PLO and ending its embarrassing calls for political settlement, and imposing a client Maronite regime” It was in the US interest then to destroy the secular nationalist PLO, end its embarassing calls for political settlement (of Palestine/refugee issues), and impose a client Maronite regime. Which parts then did the US disagree with? At which seemingly arbitrary point in time or events did atrocities and massacres stop serving US national interests? The answer can only be at the time the massacres and atrocities are found out.

    Chomsky is all over the place in that article it has to be said; if secular arab nationalism is anathema to shared national interests and unfailingly destroyed, with even the Saudis, the oil lobby, the Christian Fundies on board, using both permissible (to the US) massacres and atrocities and impermissible ones (that the media cannot hide), then is it any wonder that the religionists are ascendant. Chaos is the goal.

    “there are far more powerful interests that have a stake in what happens in the Persian Gulf region than does AIPAC [or the Lobby generally], such as the oil companies, the arms industry and other special interests whose lobbying influence and campaign contributions far surpass that of the much-vaunted Zionist lobby and its allied donors to congressional races.”

    He overlooks here the synergistic effect when lobbies converge in their interests.

    [Mod/Clark: final duplicate paragraph deleted, as requested by Cryptonym.]

  • CE

    “Voters are not directly affected by their government’s foreign policies, they do not directly experience those policies’ effects.” – Clark.


    Sorry Clark but that’s absolute rubbish. History is littered with voters being directly affected by their governments foreign policy (especially during times of seismic crisis, every citizen in Europe was affected by their leaders foreign policy during the World Wars) and the suggestion that the electorate do not take these matters on board is not backed by evidence. Look at the Lib Dems success in university towns in 2005 for a recent example.

  • Fedup

    ‘…they only have basic weapons, they have to make the rest themselves, even, should it come to it, suicide belts…’

    Hang on Jon Snow has just admitted that suicide bombers are in fact combatants, has the isreali embassy heard that broadcast?

    Plenty o abusive posts await Jon snow on the poxy C4 forums, denouncing him for accepting Syrian ……

    Hang on Syrian terrorists are good terrorists, no need to panic then!!!

  • Cryptonym

    CE: “History is littered with voters being directly affected by their governments foreign policy (especially during times of seismic crisis, every citizen in Europe was affected by their leaders foreign policy during the World Wars) …”

    That isn’t negative feedback, all that is possible is after the fact contemplation. Politicians cynically campaign and then do exactly the opposite to their claims. Of course they were directly affected by their government’s foreign policies in local or global scale wars -but had no input to policies, had no influence or means to change them, even the pretence of democracy was all over Europe was suspended, here beginning with the national government of the early 1930s. Foreign policy far from home, including waging wars, which do not impact the home populace directly, do not just go under the radar of democratic scrutiny unaided, the apparatus is smashed and has key parts missing.

  • technicolour

    Cryptonym “He overlooks here the synergistic effect when lobbies converge in their interests”

    Au contraire. I think what he is (demonstrably) saying is that nothing ever comes down to one thing (zio-whatevrists included). But that the interest which really, always, wins out is that of the corporations.

  • nuid

    “Yes, Nuid, I know a bit about her. She has joined the academic right in a bid for protection.”

    Thanks, Tech. I was wondering if she had been reared Muslim and later turned against Islam. I was idly drawing parallels between that and my own turning against Catholicism, having been reared in a very strictly Catholic family. Just wondering really … Doesn’t explain her supporting Breivik in any way shape or form.

  • oddie

    “innocence of muslims” film was originally “desert warriors” and the cast member who has been in the MSM, Cindy Lee Davis Garcia, listed a Steven Goldberg as producer (exec producer?) on her IMDb resume:

    Cindy Lee Davis Garcia
    Desert Warriors – Supporting Role/ Mother – Producer: Steven Goldberg

    not making any allegations, but find this interesting:

    23 Aug 2012: Mondoweiss: Dutch newspaper report a reminder of American Jewish links with Geert Wilders
    In a 2009 press release, the ZOA announced “its strong support for Geert Wilders” as he came under legal scrutiny after producing an anti-Muslim film. (Wilders was eventually cleared of charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.) ZOA vice-chairman Steven Goldberg said: “It’s an abomination that
    Geert Wilders would face prison for simply telling the truth about Islamic jihad. Wilders is a friend of Israel and the Jewish people, and it is incumbent on us to return his friendship in his hour of need. We must not remain silent.”

    pamela geller’s links to morris sadek – the man who wikipedia and others have said dubbed the youtube into arabic shortly before 9/11 and disseminated it to egypt – have been reported in the MSM and Geller/Steven Goldberg are not unknown to each other.

    15 Sept: McClatchy: Anti-U.S. outrage over video began with Christian activist’s phone call to a reporter
    CAIRO: Morris Sadek, a Coptic Christian who lives in suburban Washington, D.C., whose anti-Islam campaigning led to the revocation of his Egyptian citizenship earlier this year, had an exclusive story for Gamel Girgis, who covers Christian emigrants for al Youm al Sabaa, the Seventh Day, a daily newspaper here….
    “He told me he produced a movie last year and wanted to screen it on Sept. 11th to reveal what was behind the terrorists’ actions that day, Islam,” Girgis said, recalling the first call, which came on Sept. 4. Sadek, a longtime source, “considers me the boldest journalist, the only one that would publish such stories.”….

    Wikipdia: Morris Sadek.. is an Egyptian American Coptic
    Christian lawyer and activist who reportedly dubbed the YouTube video Innocence of Muslims into Arabic and brought it to the attention of the Arabic-speaking world..

    3 July 2012: Anti-Muslim activist barred from speaking at federation buildng
    Pamela Geller, a blogger and noted anti-Muslim activist, was
    barred from speaking at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
    building on a recent Sunday…
    Among the approximately 30 would-be attendees gathered on the sidewalk outside federation’s Wilshire Boulevard headquarters was Steven Goldberg, the national vice-chairman of ZOA…
    According to Goldberg, Sanderson cancelled the event, citing fear that local Muslim groups might protest outside the building.
    “They need spinal implants,” Goldberg said of federation’s leaders, noting the absence of protesters.

    other names in the MSM as being involved in this “film” are alan roberts (perhaps aka robert brownell), jimmy israel (who says he only worked on it for a couple of days), yet the only person the authorities have questioned so far is the Nakoula man!

  • Cryptonym

    Technicolour @ 10:48

    Hmm maybe, but I still wasn’t convinced by it, I don’t think anyone would be.

    “I won’t run through the other arguments, but I don’t feel that they have much force, on examination.”

    Arguments, too numerous to mention! If they’re so many and easily knocked down, why did he choose such few and unconvincing ones and make such a hash of it. I conclude his heart wasn’t really in it or it became so laborious and iniquitous that he had to leave the controversy dangling inconclusively.

  • technicolour

    What would I really object to? Someone presuming they could speak for/against the working classes, having never done a grinding job at minimum pay for years themselves. Someone speaking about ‘other cultures/religions’ with no idea of the complexities or humanity involved. Someone animadverting against age ranges – the young, the old – while feeling smug in their own middle age. Someone dissing ‘feminism’ while not recognising that women are still paid less than men in the same job; that recently women had to fight for a democratic vote etc. And more. But really, it comes down to whether people are in favour of culling badgers or not.

  • nuid

    Jon Snow intoning solemnly over images of Syrians making arms to fight the regime:

    ‘…they only have basic weapons, they have to make the rest themselves, even, should it come to it, suicide belts…’ — KingofWelshNoir

    I got the impression from that report that these were people who were neither with Assad nor with the “rebels”. They were farmers who had seen massacres in their own village. They were preparing to defend themselves againt all comers. They had a few grenades, and were making suicide vests from bits/contents of unexploded shells, as a last ditch form of ‘defense’.

    One of them said that Syrians in exile were getting $$$millions in financing, but that none of it was getting to people on the ground like themselves.

    There was, though, a very clear message that they were looking for “international intervention”.

  • Clark

    Technicolour, those are indirect effects. They are also second-order effects. Yes, lots of UK voters have been moved to demonstrate against UK foreign policy, many have been emotionally affected by actual death and injury inflicted by the UK military upon foreign populations, and the vast majority of UK voters have been impoverished by the UK’s recent wars. But I call these effects very much indirect (the policy causes a direct effect, which causes an emotional reaction, for instance) and second-order in comparison with the direct effects in the countries attacked, where UK foreign policy has been directly responsible for death, maiming, military destruction (not de-funding or phased removal) of infrastructure.

    UK voters suffer direct, first-order effects of UK domestic policy. For instance, depletion of the health service and removal of benefits; these lead to actual death.

    I’m very disappointed that you have equivocated between emotional and economic knock-on effects, and being directly shot, or blown up by a Hellfire missile, for instance.

    Technicolour, you will never upset me by disagreeing honestly and fairly. But the sort of exaggeration and misrepresentation that you seem quite enthusiastic about, such as your attempts on a previous thread to smear me as racist in order to discredit my arguments which were inconvenient to your position, have caused me to lose a lot of respect for you.

  • Clark

    CE, yes, if we look at more extreme examples, we see direct effects at home from foreign policy. But it is not the norm.

    Grief, CE and Technicolour, do I have to spell everything out? Can you not understand the problem I’m referring to? Yes, a proportion of the population are motivated to vote on the basis of foreign policy. A much larger number are less interested in politics, but will still be motivated to vote about policies that directly affect their lives.

  • Clark

    “The population of Afghanistan went to the polls today to elect the new government of the UK. They voted in the UK’s first Green prime minister, whose manifesto promises immediate withdrawal of all UK forces from Afghanistan”

    Now do you two get what I’m on about?

  • tony roma

    Jon Snow intoning solemnly over images of Syrians making arms to fight the regime:

    ‘…they only have basic weapons, they have to make the rest themselves, even, should it come to it, suicide belts…’ — KingofWelshNoir

    does stooge jon snow know something we do not.
    bbc,itn and c4 all embeded or in bed with the military industrial drug running complex.

    did jon ask why uk mini armada is amassing by sea in the area.

    yom kippor israeli surprise on iran followed by suppression of syrian airspace then boots on the ground.
    because someone has set of a bio weapon in syria.

    we will not tolerate syria using bio weopons on it’s own people.
    so we will go in and bomb and kill syrians.

    these bbc stooges and itv are a disgrace but do not seem to see it.
    not one has gone off script.
    what happened to pilger or a pilger type even fisk is captured he said osama was killed by seal team 6 what a joker.

  • Fedup

    It is not the authorities, it is the “media” that are trying to cover up the fact; that lunatic nat an yahoo is trying to topple Obama in favour of Romney.

    Romney has all the war criminals of Bu$h era on his staff, starting with Zellick and ending with Pearl, enjoying the backing of the Gambling Mafia in US.

    The power struggle is not just in the streets of Syria, but also in the Capitol Hill, in fact nat an yahoo has been doing the rounds of the Sunday tv, explaining the need for “red lines” on Iran. Just in case Obama had not understood the extent of the threats facing him!

    Of course this the kind of hubris that is born out of stupidity and lunacy , because anyone remembering 1930s Chinese influence in Capitol Hill would realise that when the useful idiots have out lived their usefulness they are dumped quicker than a hot potato.

    The shameful fact remains that even here on this blog there are those whom find Muslims objectionable and forever are re-enacting the thousand year Reich and the disdain of the inferior races thereof, although the hatred is much more nuanced and indirect; women, gays, etc rights which are not upheld as in the West.

    Nonetheless the condescension and hatred is as it was in the nineteenth century during which the savages deserved to be civilised, as in the twentieth century the inferior races had to be encouraged to ….. and democratised …….

    Evidently there has always been a good enough reason for mass murder, which has been prelude to theft and plunder.

    Fact that ziofuckwits are at the vanguard of pushing for yet another war somehow proves; despite the advance of time and technology, evidently human progress has not been all that much, considering the centenary of the WWI and the subsequent wars that have been blighting the twentieth century and the never ending war that is on going in the twenty first century.

  • CE


    Apologies if my post appeared dismissive, it was not my intention.

    You don’t need to ‘spell anything out’ to me, I just disagreed with your earlier statement, which you have now modified to include some caveats that make it entirely more sensible. Yes the of majority of the electorate today are more motivated by domestic matters that directly affect them, but that is slightly different than your earlier proclamation which I felt seemed too definitive.

  • Fedup

    I don’t much care to engage others as readily as you, however, just for the sake of argument extrapolations of the forwarded arguments about democracy yield some inter sting results;

    A- UK, US populations knowingly, and deliberately vote in governments that are to wage war and commit mass murder overseas, in the way of preserving their way of life.

    B- The “democracy” practised in US, UK although not perfect, but is representative of the population’s aspirations, that in turn would mean these populations are readily prepared to wage war on all and sundry whom do not adhere to their (UK, US) value systems.

    In short a chauvinistic head up the ar4se view of the world around us, that explains away the aggressive wagging of wars of choice as a democratic decision.

    Frankly if it were not for the pitiful realities, these “arguments” would be good enough for the Onion, for the benefit of those discerning sophisticates to have a great deal of laughter and amusement.

    PS have you heard Buffet is off loading lots of stocks? He is getting out of the consumer product suppliers and computer components, etc. clearly he has foreseen the extent of the recovery in its full glory!

  • Chris Jones


    Britain once again sending its cannon fodder to the gulf which could be the start of a thermoncleur world war. Britain’s mainstream media still trying to makes us care about Kates’s breasts.

    Now that Hague the Shandy’s creepy 1920’s statesman act has been curtailed-is there a danger that all these imperial crimes will be done on the sly and out of sight?

    If any news presenter/producer or other person working within the mainstream media of Britain such as the BBC is reading this, has children and wants to see them have a future,you need to hold the derranged warmongering criminals of westminster to account and show the illegality of what they are trying to do. This is not a game – this is not something you can wryly discuss and debate at your next dinner party with your well travelled friends in a few months time. This is real and happening right now

  • Crytonym

    @Nuid, 11:38pm

    Channel 4’s ‘Meet the Rebels’ piece.

    It wasn’t just that nuid, one ‘farmer’ stated his son (a toddler, at most 4 or 5 years old) would be encouraged, trained to become a suicide bomber, but how and how far in the future the boy-weapon would be deployed, wasn’t clear. An ambiguous report from Channel 4; locals not having words put in their mouths but with some ‘observer’ effect of the film crew, anti-Assad, pro-intervention, protesting too much of being unbought by foreign money but wouldn’t mind some and some more lethal weapons than boring old seemingly abundant tank-destroying jumbo IEDs. I must congratulate Channel 4 for lucking on such normal people to show in a sympathetic light as these fanatics, with their tortured logic, fiery rhetoric and demonstrable proficiency with explosives. A pro-rebel piece which backfired.

  • Fedup

    Chris Jones
    Nah, this is just a part of the necon wankers mode of conduct, to try and create a point of no return with a view to curtailing the main policy makers choices, ie Obama et al.

    That useless tosser Anthony Linton Emily Blair was the master of this kind of fishwife diplomacy. Fact that the world has been subject to the traumatic torment of the last twelve years has created a rumour industry that ziofuckwits can take full advantage of.

    Have you read the reports complied by the various US experts estimating that any potential new war on Iran would need the budgets of the Iraq, and Afghanistan wars combined as well as their combined resources that would be needed to engage in any such war.

    Simply put a non starter, but the MEMRI lot and Debka etc. are too busy spreading the message of nat an yahoo, isreal is imploding and he is trying to keep the doomed project alive for few more years. That madman can always dream of course.

    Why do you think Syria is an on going story?

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