Daily Archives: March 10, 2014


Teaser

Alarm at Russian expansion had at this time caused a flurry of British intelligence activity.  Russia was fighting a tremendous spirit of resistance in its newly conquered territories in the Caucasus, and in a secret service operation Palmerston sent a British ship, the Vixen, into the Black Sea in 1836 to run arms to Chechen resistance fighters there.  It caused a diplomatic incident when the ship was intercepted by Russian forces, but Palmerston sent an assurance to Russian foreign minister Count Nesselrode that the British government had no knowledge of the venture – just as Nesselrode was to assure Palmerston two years later that the Russian government had not authorised Witkiewicz’ mission to Kabul.  Both men were highly accomplished liars.

I am still working very hard indeed on Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game and I thought you might enjoy that paragraph as a little teaser, given its contemporary relevance.  The world hasn’t really changed that much in the intervening 180 years.

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The Propaganda of Death

The terrible loss of life in the Malaysian air crash is tragic.  But the attempt to ramp up a terrorism scare is ghoulish.  We even had both the BBC and Sky speculating that it was the Uighurs.  Now the suppression of Uighur culture and religion by the Chinese had been a great and long-term evil, and the West has been only too eager to shoehorn their story into the “Islamic terrorism” story.  There is of course an enormous security industry, both government and private, which makes a very fat living out of “combating Islamic terrorism”, and a media  which make a fat living out of helping to ramp it.  Their spreading of fear has been extraordinarily successful given that Islamic terrorism is an extraordinarily low level threat and people throughout the Western world are vastly more likely to drown in their own bath than be killed by an Islamic terrorist.  Indeed you are about 1,000 times more likely to be killed by a member of your own family than by an Islamic terrorist, though the risk of either is extremely slim.

The media uncritically trotted out the story that it was Uighur terrorists who were responsible for the dreadful knife attack at a Chinese railway station – with no evidence except that the Chinese government say so.  Only when they impugn the Uighurs does the western media drop its wary disbelief of statements from the Chinese government.

There is no evidence at all that the Malaysian plane was brought down by terrorists.  The Air France plane crash in 2009, for example, was caused by ice crystals in the pitot tubes giving incorrect air speed readings to the autopilot – this was because the plane had been incorrectly cleaned with a pressure hose rather than damp cloths.  Most air crashes are caused by faulty maintenance procedures. [A number of people have since commented that pilot error is a more frequent cause.  They may be right – but Uighur terrorists it ain’t].

The two people on board with false passports were routed on to Amsterdam, and the obvious explanation is that they were illegal immigrants who had bought stolen passports.  This is very common indeed.  I know from my own diplomatic experience that passports frequently have to be replaced by tourists who no longer have them.  I also know (and I do not refer to the specific individuals referred here) that very frequently indeed the person who has “lost” the passport has sold it.  At tourist hotspots likely people are often approached to sell their passport, (about US$600 is the going rate for an EU passport) and then declare it stolen and apply for a new one.  It is a scam you encounter frequently in backpacking destinations, Thailand being a key example.

It is a peculiar kind of terrorism which does not seek to claim “credit” or publicise what has been done..  No suicide videos have emerged.  That the Uighurs would attack a plane from a state of their fellow Muslims is a ludicrous claim.  Do not be taken in by the Ministry of Fear and its media lackeys.

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