Trains (Mostly) Planes and Automobiles Part 5 128

It was 2.30am in Bochum before Niels finished setting up his security and self destruct mechanisms on my new laptop, as we sat in my gloomy little box of a room in the Mercure Hotel.

About a decade ago, chain hotels universally abandoned the idea of a central bright light to illuminate a bedroom, in favour of scattered little lights at bedsides, desk and in an odd corner, all of which require separate switches to be tracked down, and each of which struggles to reveal objects within a two foot distance. They mostly act to accentuate the overall murk.

At least it led my colour changing keyboard to feature sharply, brightening my mood. When Niels had locked within a passworded box, within a passworded box, on a passworded Wikileaks server, somewhere inside an Icelandic volcano, the ages long password to the last of my programmes he was protecting, he finally got up with a Nordic huffy noise and went off to his own bedroom.

I then spent until about 6am going through all my accounts for signs of intrusion and sending warning emails to key contacts. It felt like I had just put my head down on the pillow when the door was ruthlessly banged and the telephone simultaneously shrilled, to tell me it was 11am and I should have checked out.

Bochum railway station was not a very welcoming place that morning. It was about minus 5 degrees, the snow was whipping into my face and I was regretting still more keenly the loss of my gloves.

At least we had a very simple trip that day, to Münster. The itinerary for 3 December was 12.42 RE89719 Bochum to Hamm, 13.20 RE89978 Hamm to Münster arriving at 13.47. It was to be our first day riding on regional trains in Germany.

Since we had started the tour, new dates had been continually added and rest days been wiped off, so that it seemed likely the 15 travel days on my interrail pass would not be enough. You cannot extend the pass. I considered saving a day by buying a ticket for this short journey, but decided my brain was too frazzled by events of the past 24 hours for any extra complication.

Niels had a solution. It is fair to say that my determination to do the journey to the continent and the whole tour by rail, to help save the planet, was regarded by others involved as somewhat eccentric. From the start, Niels had been looking up hire cars and lovingly showing me pictures of BMW or Mercedes SUVs and describing their comfort levels.

Freezing in the driven snow on Bochum station and watching the board announce ever increasing delays, it was impossible not to have a certain sympathy for this view.

It is time to say something about German station clocks, as I was spending so much of my life staring at them. Germany has magnificent analogue clocks in its railway stations, but they have a most peculiar mechanism.

The minute hand does not glide smoothly and continually. The second hand goes round until it reaches the top of the dial, at which point the minute hand clicks forward one notch.

But there is a correction involved. The second hand evidently travels slightly fast, so when it reaches the top it pauses and there are a couple of seconds when no hand is moving, until the minute hand jerks its notch and the second hand starts its journey again.

I am almost, but not quite, certain there is another peculiarity. The second hand appears to glide smoothly rather than jerk, but in fact pauses momentarily at every second mark before gliding on to the next one.

At first I thought this was an optical illusion caused by the black tip of the second hand becoming hard to discern as it passes in front of the black second mark on the dial, but after acute observation from a variety of angles I think this momentary pause is really happening.

I am not sure what is the purpose of this observation, other than to illustrate that Germany’s horribly unpunctual train service can drive you nuts.

As we waited on the platform, we were approached twice by beggars. This happened on almost every station. Niels commented that they were much more aggressive than in the UK.

This is true, not in the sense of threatening physical violence, but in the sense of intruding forcefully into your personal space and being unapologetic in their demands. It really was not very comfortable.

Anyway, eventually we had one of those hurried last moment platform changes and caught what was supposedly an earlier train than the one we were booked on, which was running over an hour late, but with no change needed for Münster.

This particular privatised train service was run by the UK bus company National Express. It was a double decker train, clean and comfortable. We did not bother to go upstairs to first class.

I was not paranoid about a third laptop getting stolen on the train in the slightest…

The journey was uneventful save for an incident where the guard was arguing with a passenger over his ticket.  The thin young man, who was wearing jeans and a hoodie, was thrusting his ticket forward towards the short, bull-necked guard who was refusing to look at it, alternating between shaking his head and yelling ferociously.

It was very noisy and the levels of anger on both sides seemed wildly disproportionate to the subject. I could not understand anything said, but even assuming the passenger was indeed trying to cheat on his fare, the level of aggression from the guard, who was attempting to corral the passenger against a door, was extraordinary.

In the end the passenger pushed past the guard and moved to the back of the short train. The guard seemed to be looking around for support, while the other passengers were pretending nothing was happening. I do not know how this confrontation eventually played out.

Stella was joining us again in Münster, having been lobbying in Berlin and elsewhere in the interim. It had been very difficult and very expensive to book hotel rooms in Münster. In fact, Stella, Niels and I were all in different hotels, as we could not find rooms together.

I was in the Mauritzhof hotel, another building of stunning ugliness on the outside. It looks like a fortified police station in a particularly incendiary area of a troubled city.

In fact the hotel was very warm and pleasant inside, with a big open fire in a cocktail bar with a wide range of malt whiskies, and particularly friendly and helpful staff.

By contrast Niels was in one of those self-catering places where you get in through a combination for a key safe and discover nothing is clean, nothing works and there is nobody to talk to for assisatance.

Stella was in the impressive sounding Kaiserhof hotel, which somehow managed to be even more expensive than the Mauritzhof, but which was staffed by people who all appeared not only to be on their first day working in a hotel, but to be entirely unbriefed on what a hotel is.

Niels and I had a late lunch at the cinema with our hosts, who included the university branch of Amnesty International, several of whom were students of public international law.

I was able to discuss with them the international law aspects of Julian’s case, and particularly the judgment in Julian’s case affirming that the UK is not bound in law by international agreements or treaties not incorporated into UK domestic law.

In Julian’s case, political extradition is specifically forbidden by Article 4 of the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty. However the courts have ruled that the Treaty has no effect in UK law as it has not been incorporated in UK domestic legislation.

The British courts argue that the Treaty depends for its force on the 2003 Extradition Act, which does not exclude political extradition. But the 2003 Act is an enabling act on which subsequent treaties depend. It does not dictate the provisions of those treaties and it most assuredly does not say those treaties may not exclude political extradition.

The argument is extraordinary that the extradition is only taking place at all under the UK/US Extradition Treaty, but that Article 4 of the Treaty is not operative – but all the other articles are.

The rest of the Treaty is no more incorporated in UK domestic law than Article 4 is. It is a nonsensical argument, tying knots of legal sophistry to justify the extradition.

What interested the German students even more than the individual instance was the extraordinary general claim that the UK is not bound by provisions of international law in treaties it has ratified.

The accepted procedure in international law is that there is a two stage process, signature and ratification, for accession to international treaties.

A treaty is signed by the governmment of a state, as a statement of agreement and intent. Only when all necessary approvals have been obtained – which generally means when the Treaty has been through approval by the legislature – is the ratification stage then completed.

The UK, however, ratifies agreements on Crown prerogative without its legislature having passed them as domestic law. It then argues that because of the doctrine of the sovereignty of parliament, the ratification by the Crown does not bind the UK to abide by the provisions of the Treaty it has ratified.

This bizarre situation really is true. I am not making it up.

This is known by lawyers as a “dualist system” (“dishonest” being too straightforward a description) and is the subject of an immense academic literature – one of many possible starting points is here – and a large number of UK legal judgments.

That the UK government does not consider itself legally bound, not only by customary international law but even by treaties it has actually ratified, was astonishing to the German students.

I later received an email from one of them saying they had found it hard to believe, so had asked a lecturer who confirmed it for them.

The cinema seemed everything an independent cinema should be, with a really good slate of arthouse and documentary films and a quirky, very busy cafe bar full of interesting people. The next screenings were shown on an old railway departure board that clicked over noisily. In fact the cinema is part of a chain owning much more conventional multiplexes.

On the top shelf of the bar, high up amid some very obscure liqueurs, was a glass globe about twelve inches high with a glass looped valve on top, containing a startlingly clear liquid with an ultra violet tinge. We asked what it was, and the barman did not know, so we ordered two of those.

It was some kind of grappa, but extremely smooth, though highly potent as it burnt the back of your throat. It was immensely satisfying so we had another two. There was no label of any kind on the glass globe, which sat in an iron stand. Perhaps most strange of all was that the barman said he had been there two years and nobody had ever asked for it: it looked irresistible.

The large cinema was full for the screening, and Stella spoke passionately and well, particularly on the obscenity of sending Julian legally to a state which had tried to kidnap and assassinate him. It was a good, full audience and a lively discussion that left me feeling warm and useful. The gladhanding afterwards felt especially heartening all round.

We then went out into Münster and walked around the Christmas markets, which are particularly famous. We were told that a million visitors come to Münster for these markets, primarily from the Netherlands. This explains why a night in a hotel costs as much as a car.

While the fairy lights and wooden huts were again all very pretty, it still all boiled down to huts selling sausages and gluhwein. At every large church, crowds shuffled round the outside in a circuit, forming knots around the alcohol stalls which had long queues. We braved these a few times for gluhwein, which we all enjoyed.

St Lambert’s church tower is decorated with three cages, in which were hung the tortured corpses of the Anabaptist leaders after the revolution and siege of 1534/5.

When I was 14 years old I read with great relish Norman Cohn’s great book, The Pursuit of the Millennium. Cohn’s life work was to try to  understand the phenomenon of Nazism in the context of other historic movements that practised mass extermination in the name of ideology. His riveting account of the siege of Münster has stayed with me for half a century.

The great city walls of the siege were demolished and are now a promenade, the Church of St Lambert was substantially rebuilt in 1901 and again after World War II, and the dangling cages don’t look nearly old or crude enough, but still I was now there, on the spot I had visualised so clearly in my teens.

The Anabaptists preached equality of wealth as well as religious iconoclasm, and looked to divide the property of the very wealthy city of Münster with all who joined them. They practised ardent polygamy; sexual ecstasy was an important part of their revolution.

However they had no qualms about executing those who did not accept their adult baptism, and they did not care about the wild impracticability of most of their governance, as they believed the second coming of Christ to be literally imminent.

What is perhaps truly extraordinary is not just that the Anabaptists gained full control in Münster, but that they came close to doing so and held real influence in broad swathes of Northern Europe. It is important not to be seduced by their professed communism into overlooking the fact they were extremely violent, religious nutters.

The revolutionary millenarian wave that swept Europe in the early 1530s was the product of the usual famine and disease, but also fueled by the economic dislocation caused by emergent nationalisms disrupting the free trading of the Hanseatic network. I throw that in for you to draw your own modern parallels.

History is one long roll of ironies, one of which is that it was the genuine tolerance of Münster’s Catholic Prince Bishop Waldeck which had allowed Anabaptist doctrine to spread and made Münster an international haven for dissenters.  It was the same ex-tolerant Waldeck who later hung the Anabaptist leaders in those cages (or their originals) after their slow execution by red hot shears.

The whole is a fascinating story. I recommend Cohn’s book. I was told by the hotel that there was a German TV mini-series thirty years ago of the Münster uprising, starring a young Christoph Waltz.  I would love to see that. But for now it was good to walk through the holiday crowds in the snow and take in the town, imagining those events, in good company and with brandy-laced gluhwein.

The next day, Sunday 4 December, we left Münster for Dusseldorf on the 10.25 RE10212 which went direct. Again it was a two decker National Express local train and it was actually on time.

We went up to the very comfortable first class upper deck, where we were alone. The only incident of note occurred when a burly man came down the train, flicking something at each table with a metallic clang. Niels explained the man was opening the metal bin covers, on the lookout for discarded bottles which might have a deposit he could reclaim.

That seemed a lot of effort for little reward for a middle aged man. He made no attempt to disguise what he was doing, and presumably ought not have been in the first class carriage.  It led me to recalculate the odds of my laptops having been simply taken as opportunistic thefts on the train.

It is worth noting at this point that all the trains now had parties of men in vests marked “security”, patrolling up and down to ensure that everybody was wearing a face mask. Their general demeanour was not very friendly.

Stella would be leaving to fly back to London and her children, after the early evening screening in Dusseldorf. Niels and I were staying in the Stage 47 Hotel, which again was really delightful.

The hotel has been carved out of space from the adjoining theatre, and the reception is crammed into the narrow entrance corridor in a way that looks very unpromising indeed on first arrival. But the rooms are beautifully planned and all different, each one named after and containing a massive photographic portrait of, a star who has appeared in the theatre.

My room had the bed on a mezzanine level and loads of space, which was great but not designed for a man with bad eyesight likely to need to fumble his way down the tight spiral staircase from the mezzanine in the dark for a 3am pee, whilst not entirely sober.

The hotel was very much in a Turkish area. A Turkish travel agent was next door, a Turkish shop the other side, then a kebab shop, and there was a substantial looking Turkish restaurant just opposite. Leaving Stella’s suitcase in Niels’ room, we repaired to the Turkish restaurant for lunch.

They did not seem very pleased to see us. It was again very cold, and after some humming and hawing as to whether we could have a table at all, they seated us at the first empty one, right next to the front door.

We were constantly subjected to a vicious icy blast when the door opened, and a persistent very cold draught when it didn’t. Several times other tables emptied and we repeatedly asked if we might move, but were always waved back down.

The food was very good but the service terrible. I do not know whether this was because we seemed to be the only non-Turkish customers, but we all agreed we had the feeling of not being welcome. I have always found Turkish people extremely hospitable, so it seems strange.

I hurried back from lunch as at 2pm I was giving a Zoom talk from my hotel room to Alba International, on the subject of the way forward to Scottish Independence.

The background to this was the UK Supreme Court decision that the Scottish Parliament had no right to hold a referendum on Independence, which you may recall I had attended the Supreme Court to hear, the day before leaving on this European tour.

The discussion was also informed by the excellent work of Salvo, and of Sara Salyers in particular, in defining Scotland’s own historic constitution as an independent state and its continuing legal persistence.

I felt time and distance had given me a useful clarity in considering the Supreme Court decision and its consequences, and in brief, this is what I outlined.

The UK Supreme Court was quite right within the narrow confines of UK domestic law. Plainly the Union of England and Scotland is a reserved matter under the Scotland Act of 1998, and the Scottish Parliament could not hold a referendum on it in terms of that Act.

But UK domestic law is entirely irrelevant. The Kosovo Opinion of the International Court of Justice makes crystal clear that the domestic law of the state being seceded from, is not the determining factor as to whether a secession is illegal.

Whereas the reliance by the UK Supreme Court on the criteria of the Federal Court of Canada in the Quebec judgment, over fifty years old and superseded by the cold hard fact of over 23 non-colonial secessions since, is simply laughable.

But while the right of self-determination of peoples in international law is crucial in the case of Scotland, and while Scotland undoubtedly qualifies as a “people” because it is a long established historic nation with its own legal system, culture and institutions, there is one overwhelmingly important criterion for recognition grounded in pure realpolitik.

It was long accepted as the only criterion for recognition that a state had factual, practical control of its own territory. That position has become softened by more principled considerations since the second world war, but the actual control of the territory claimed remains the most important factor in gaining international recognition.

Why did Catalonia fail where Slovenia, Kosovo and the Baltic states succeeded?

Because realpolitik rules in practice, and the Slovenians, Balts and Kosovans had obtained actual control on the ground of the land they claimed. The Catalans had not.

Physical control is not a sufficient condition for recognition – see the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus – but in effect it is a necessary condition.

The UK Establishment will never agree to Scottish Independence. Scotland’s resources are far too valuable to them. Scotland has to declare Independence unilaterally, and take it.

It is no use doing this like Catalonia, where the Spanish civil guard and judiciary effectively wiped out the nascent state before it could breathe.

A Scottish government, whether arising from the Scottish Parliament or from another body, needs in declaring Independence to ensure it has practical control of Scotland.

That means that the organs of the state have to acknowledge the Scottish state. All taxes collected must go to Edinburgh, not to Westminster. The judiciary must apply Scottish laws and not Westminster ones, where they conflict, and specifically apply all new laws post the Declaration of Independence. The police must answer only to Scottish authorities. Ultimately so must the military stationed in Scotland.

At the time Independence is declared, immediate action must be taken to ensure all civil servants, judges, police and military take an oath of loyalty to the people of Scotland and its new government, and renounce any previous loyalty to Crown and to UK political institutions. Anybody refusing must be summarily dismissed from their positions.

We have the example of Catalonia before us. We also have the example of Egypt’s only ever democratically elected leader, President Morsi, who died horribly in jail after being overthrown by a CIA coup because he failed to take the elementary precaution of dismissing and imprisoning all the military regime’s corrupt judges. He should have learnt from Fritz Bauer.

Let us not make those mistakes.

Ultimately, it boils down to this.

1) Westminster will never agree to Scottish Independence.

2) Scotland therefore has no option but to declare Independence unilaterally.

3) Any independent state must be prepared to defend itself by physical force from foreign attack. So must a newly declared Independent Scotland.

4) All who refuse to serve an Independent Scotland must then be removed from all organs of the state.

5) Once an Independent Scotland has physical control of its territory and resources, international recognition will soon follow. Brexit has completely changed the political atmosphere with regard to the crucial attitude of the European Union to London’s government.

Not to mention that London’s government is an international laughing stock.

Interestingly enough, in the discussion that followed my talk, nobody fundamentally queried the radicalism of this approach. Most of the questions revolved around what I might call the determinism of Salvo’s approach.

To put this another way, no matter how many irregularities there might be in the 1689 Act of Settlement, no domestic or international court is going to annul it now. It is realpolitik again – no state exists whose form and institutions would survive re-examination of all their historic foundations under modern criteria.

I further clarified that while I support the notion of registering a Scottish liberation movement at the UN, it is going to take a lot of evidence of liberation struggle to achieve this. The notion which has somehow got abroad that it just needs 100,000 signatures, appears to me without foundation.

It was a really good 90 minutes discussion with excellent people, after which I had do dash to the cinema and turn my head back towards rescuing Julian.

The cinema had the interesting quirk that to get a big wide screen, the projector was separated from the hall by a number of corridors and offices, with glass windows that the picture passed through. This lent itself to a variety of interesting photos.

Stella was on excellent form.  In Dusseldorf she concentrated particularly on the extraterritorial jurisdiction the United States was claiming, in its effort to imprison an Australian journalist for acts of publishing, carried out entirely outside the United States.

Stella also expressed the relief we all felt that finally the Australian government was living up to its responsibilities and directly asking the United States to end the persecution of Julian Assange.

I was not on the best of form, and was perhaps a bit tired. But as usual there were inspiring activists on hand to give me a real boost afterwards. All over Germany, groups are out every weekend for Julian, demonstrating, manning stalls, collecting signatures and bearing witness to the truth.

After the meeting, Bibi gave us a lift back to the hotel, demonstrating in so doing that her definition of “a short walk to the car” was fundamentally different to my own. She then took Stella on to the airport.

I had a sudden and improbable rush of common sense, refusing Niels’ offer to go for a drink, in favour of an early night in my comfortable mezzanine bed.

The next day was a rest day, so we stayed again in Dusseldorf. Not only was it a day off, but the hotel did laundry – the first time since this adventure began!

In the morning I discovered that nobody sold gloves in a six block radius, except for a motorbike shop at astonishing cost, which I declined. I spent the rest of the day reading the Fritz Bauer biography.

About 4pm Niels called and we went out. The receptionist had recommended the winter market on Konigsallee, so we headed there.

We had walked a few metres when a great stream of fire engines and police vehicles came blaring past us. As we approached traffic lights, a number of ambulances came charging down from another direction and for a while there was a veritable traffic jam of emergency vehicles. The cacophony was awful.

New sirens continued to join in from all around us, apparently converging towards us. When we got to Konigsallee it was largely deserted. While the shops all remained open, all of the wooden Christmas market stalls were closed and the shoppers had disappeared.

We wandered around the empty stalls trying to work out what was happening, until policemen started yelling at us in a most threatening manner.

It appears there had been a phoned in terrorist threat of an attack on a Christmas stall, to which the police had overreacted by closing down all of the hundreds such stalls, placed on every shopping street and square in Dusseldorf, and calling out all the ambulances and fire appliances.

It was of course a hoax. It was also another example of my continually landing in unlikely drama on this trip. Niels, who had spent weeks photographing anything that moved, managed to capture almost nothing of the massive security presence closing down the Christmas market. He said he had previous experience that German police do not like cameras.

He did however manage to capture umpteen shots of me looking cold and miserable. My voluminous luggage was well prepared for the winter, except for a lack of boots. The streets were covered in ice and my leather-soled shoes felt distinctly insecure.

From Oxford Street to Princes Street, the UK’s flagship shopping streets have collapsed into tat and squalor, but Germany has maintained its high end shopping districts without apparent loss. So much so that the first shop I entered had no viable boots below 700 euros.

Round the corner I found a more practical shop and bought a pair of Skechers. This troubled me, as I recall my brother Stuart taunting my brother Neil that possessing Skechers was the first step on the road to adult diapers. They were however cheap, waterproof and had deep treads, so I got them and am now a convert.

While the shops had all stayed open, the restaurants appeared to have all been closed by the police alert and we went around for a while before we found a fancy burger restaurant, one of a franchise chain with a rustic, birch tree decor.

This seemed marginally better than starvation, so we ate a couple of burgers, which had a small nugget of meat drowned in various treatments of vegetable, from pickled, through mayonnaise-covered to caramelised, the whole shoved between vast mounds of bread.

The restaurant was very full indeed, being the only place open, and the excitement of the police closures gave the venue a vibrant buzz. We struck up a friendly chat with the manager, who was working the floor because it was unexpectedly busy.

We worked our way right through the cocktail menu and then had the Johnnie Walker Black Label brought down from a high top shelf. It was the worst fake Black Label I have tasted in decades, like cheap vodka with added Bovril, but  we drank it all anyway. We had a rollicking time. The drinks bill came to six times the food bill.

We both had horrible hangovers the next day, almost certainly from the fake Black Label. Fortunately we had the morning to recover, then it was up and off again, and our itinerary was 6 December ICE 714 Dusseldorf 13.33 to Bremen, arriving 16.15.

The train was comfortable and more or less on time, and I was able to write up some of the journey for my blog.

The large cinema was very full, I felt I spoke particularly well, and we had a good talk with activists afterwards. Bremen seemed a delightful city and the cinema was in a district surrounded by really good restaurants and bars.

Niels spoke particularly well. He outlined Julian’s vision of responsible, scientific journalism, where references would always be given with links to the original source material which should be made available to the public.

This of course had not happened, and even as mainstream media had been forced to move largely online, they had not taken the opportunity this offered to present the public with links to the actual source materials their journalists were discussing. This level of transparency was expected of bloggers but largely eschewed by the media, despite all their resources.

It was a good point and well put over. It is continually important to think of the work Julian can take forward on his release from jail, not only to think of him as a victim or a symbol.

This was one of the first meetings where the audience had required sequential translation into German. It is always very difficult, given the need to split up your argument into short cadences for translation. But it did not seem to spoil the evening or the enjoyment and interest of the large audience.

We had booked in Bremen into the Aparthotel Adagio. I was by now fairly sick of restaurant food, and wanted to be able to cook myself something very plain and simple. I called in to a local supermarket and was able to make myself a basic tomato and bacon sauce to eat with spaghetti and a baguette. It felt like a great relief.

One thing I liked about Germany was that the ambient soundtrack was much more to my taste than I generally heard in the UK. The taxi taking us to the cinema was playing Bachmann Turner Overdrive. The taxi taking us back was playing Fleetwood Mac. The supermarket where I bought the spaghetti was playing Supertramp. None of which was very German.

I had finally relented. The next day we were off to Halle, which was a complicated journey by rail but simple by road, so I had caved in and agreed Niels could finally get his hire car.

As I drifted off to sleep I was sure I could hear him making vroom! vroom! noises in the distance.



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128 thoughts on “Trains (Mostly) Planes and Automobiles Part 5

  • Ian

    A wonderfully entertaining read, laced with your dry wit, once again, Craig. The suspense was killing me as I read, waiting for the seemingly inevitable, “but when I glanced up/returned the laptop had gone”. The relief was almost palpable at the end. The detail is what i enjoy most, from the food, to the surly waiters, the weird hotels and cinematic havens, not to mention the difficulties of modern day shopping for necessities. Your stamina, not to mention alcohol adventurousness and appetite is impressive. And then you manage to add in a most understandable and useful precis of the legal nonsenses and ramifications of two separate cases. I raise a glass of dubiously coloured liquid from a high shelf to you.

  • Ben

    “The UK however ratifies agreements on Crown prerogative without its legislature having passed them as domestic law. It then argues that because of the doctrine of the sovereignty of parliament, the ratification by the Crown does not bind the UK to abide by the provisions of the Treaty it has ratified.”

    Craig, could you give an idea of how this situation came into being and how long ago?

    • Sean_Lamb

      Since always – in fact Parliament has abided by the commitments that the Crown entered into with the US government, they just went considerably further – at least on one reading of the legislation.

        • John Cleary

          Yes, pretzel. It is policy.

          Here is another example. The Human Rights Act.

          The Convention Rights.

          (1)In this Act “the Convention rights” means the rights and fundamental freedoms set out in—

          (a)Articles 2 to 12 and 14 of the Convention,

          So, Article 13 deliberately excluded. Why is that? What does Article 13 of the Convention say?

          ARTICLE 13
          Right to an effective remedy
          Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

          It was Blair that left out Article 13, in 1998.

          In other words, he first granted himself immunity, and then went on to commit the crime of aggression against Iraq.

          Premeditated war crimes of aggression. And no prosecution.

          I raised this here six weeks ago

          Here was the response from Kofi Annan:

          Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan
          The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, declared explicitly for the first time last night that the US-led war on Iraq was illegal.

          For some reason everybody looks the other way.
          Probably BECAUSE it is an open and shut case.

          As an addendum: what I do not get is WHY Craig proceeded with his appeal to the ECHR as he clearly understands that he has no right to an effective remedy. What was it all about?

          • AG

            Since you mention Iraq:

            3 weeks ago German government in a response letter to German MP Sevim Dagdelen from The Left Party, stipulated that it is still not clear in how far the US-invasion was a war crime.

            German officials still argue on the grounds of the Bush administration´s justification from 20 years ago that the claim to destroy WMDs was not fabricated but genuine.

            Since the evidence of lacking WMDs came only after the war started.

            I wonder about the contradiction to Mr. Annan´s verdict.

            Unsurprisingly not many papers reported it.
            Most prominent was Berliner Zeitung Dec. 18th:


            This most probably is not just a coincidence regarding the Russian invasion. Thus an entirely political judgement.

            Drastic revisionist steps by the government can be observed in all kinds of highly delicate political areas.
            (like freedom of speech, privacy vs. law enforcement )

            Another reason why Mr. Assange´s case is so important.

          • Steve Peake

            John, this is interesting stuff.

            So are you saying that the Human Rights Act is a sham, is of no value whatsoever and the rights outlined in the Act are unenforecable due to the absence of access to an effective remedy ? But as the UK is a signatory to the ECHR, surely the rights outlined in the Convention, as opposed to the Act, are enforeceable via the European Court, rather than the UK courts.

            My concern however is that the ECHR may also be a sham as is suggested by the abitary ruling that Craig’s case is inadmissable despite quite obvious issues relating to press freedom in the internet age being at stake. I am familar with another case – that of the Dutch branch of the Santo Daime church – also being ruled inadmissable despite clear issues relating to spiritual freedom being at stake.

            I would really welcome Craig’s thoughts on this…

          • John Cleary

            Steve Peake

            My concern however is that the ECHR may also be a sham as is suggested by the abitary ruling that Craig’s case is inadmissable despite quite obvious issues relating to press freedom in the internet age being at stake.

            Absolutely it is a sham, Steve. Just like the rest of the European superstructure.

            My own sorry outcome


            application inadmissible because it did not comply with the requirements

            All you need is cash, da da da da da daaa
            All you need is cash, da da da da da daaa
            All you need is cash, cash. Cash is all you need.

            So are you saying that the Human Rights Act is a sham, is of no value whatsoever and the rights outlined in the Act are unenforecable due to the absence of access to an effective remedy ? But as the UK is a signatory to the ECHR, surely the rights outlined in the Convention, as opposed to the Act, are enforeceable via the European Court, rather than the UK courts.

            The version ratified excludes Article 13.
            That was the British choice.
            WHY was that, do you think? After all, they could simply have adopted the Convention in its entirety.
            But they chose not to do so.
            And what’s more, is the silence. I’m sure the professionals know about this, but they say nothing.
            You think Sir Keir Starmer does not know about this? The deliberate loophole that has allowed Blair (so far) to escape his reckoning?
            Must be a VERY POWERFUL ENTITY at the top to enforce this kind of discipline.

            See above for what happens when you try to use the court (and you are not Abu Hamza!)



            Surely Kofi Annan dealt with that himself, when he said

            Mr Annan said the security council had warned Iraq in resolution 1441 there would be “consequences” if it did not comply with its demands. But he said it should have been up to the council to determine what those consequences were.

            So even if the Americans were correct, it was still incumbent on them to await the Security Council’s determination of consequences.

            And if you read further

            No immediate comment was available from the White House late last night, but American officials have defended the war as an act of self-defence, allowed under the UN charter, in view of Saddam Hussein’s supposed plans to build weapons of mass destruction.

            Zelensky has plans to build weapons of mass destruction. He said so at that conference in February.
            Why didn’t the Yanks invade and sort him out?

          • Brendan

            AG, Germany’s equivalent of the BBC, ARD often describes Russia’s current military intervention as ‘the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine’ and presents that as a fact and not just an opinion.

            But I’ve never heard it put that label on the Iraq war, even though the Germans knew as well as anyone else that the WMD story was fabricated, which makes that intervention a war of aggression.

            The BND interrogated ‘Curveball’ and concluded he was lying, before he went to the Americans who made him their star witness. The then FM Joschka Fischer said publicly in the presence of Donald Rumsfeld, “I don’t believe in that” when talking about the reasons to go to war.

            The reason why the German state now refuses to comment on the obvious illegality of the Iraq war is partly to avoid any discussion of its double standards about that war and the current one in Ukraine.

            But I believe it’s also to avoid any judgement of Germany’s own involvement in the wars in Kosovo, Libya and Syria. The reasons for taking part in those were a combination of lies and unconvincing arguments about international law. Any official comment on the Iraq war might lead to questions about other wars.

          • AG


            but it is this obvious fraud that honestly pisses me of.

            And since you mention “Curveball” –

            Here we even had a fiction feature titled, well, “Curveball”, about that mess in the movie-theaters last year which was actually nominated for best screenplay (like BAFTA just Germany.)

            (Sort of a drama-comedy. Because it´s all too silly.)

            A documentary on him is almost 10 years old.

            British screenwriter Steve Knight wrote an unproduced script titled “Curveball” in I think 2006.

            The WaPo book on Curveball by Bob Drogin came out 15 years ago.

            If such an affair hits the popular sphere from so many angles – it should be considered common knowledge.

            EVERYONE KNOWS. And it should be ancient textbook history beyond any doubt.

            And still here we are confirming each others views on it out of fear the official records office might look the other way.

            The reason is of course as you describe. With emphasis on the Russian invasion.

            Sry for being so upset. But I have been following Curveball´s story for 20 years.
            Because that´s how long it has been known if one wished to take a look.

          • AG

            @JOHN CLEARY

            re: Zelensky and WMDs has been subject of ongoing speculation.

            The little that is available in the public sphere I have posted in Mr. Murray´s previous blog entry.

            We have the comments by Zelensky regarding the Budapest Memo from 1994, in Munich, Febr. 2022.
            And then we have the Budapest Memo itself.
            And then we have the Non-Proliferation-Treaty (NPT) signed by Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine.

            The Budapest Memo – security guarantees by US/UK – would be valid only if Ukraine stuck to its commitment to NPT.
            A soon as Ukraine would decide to go “nuclear” again this memo and its guarantees would be null and void.

            re: Annan, thx for the quotes.

            Bob Drogin offered very vivid reporting on what was going on in the Pentagon in the months prior to the invasion.
            Later convicted and pardoned Scooter Libby was terrorizing the enitre Pentagon staff who repeated over and over the absolute lack of affirmative intelligence.

            Libby called in every analyst one by one castigating them untill they gave in. In typical lingo they called it a “massacre”.
            These are not secret files. Its known. I know. You know. Everybody. It´s a fact.

            p.s. among those who demanded Scooter Libby to be pardoned by Bush II was of all people Christopher Hitchens.

          • pretzelattack

            thanks, I didn’t know Blair had been so prescient; Bush et al seemed to try to clean up as they went along, or afterward–the Yoo memo etc. But then they had no meaningful policial opposition, just the democrats.

          • John Cleary

            It was the late John Smith who made the commitment to adopt the European Convention into British law. He held a twenty point lead over John Major so could confidently expect to carry out this commitment.

            Unfortunately he “died suddenly” and never had the chance. Perhaps his widow, and great friend of the Duke of Edinburgh, could tell us something about that tragedy.

            And his replacement, as we have seen, strangled the act at birth, and the British people never got to enjoy their human rights act.

            So “prescient” is one possible description.

            “Strategic” is probably more accurate.

          • pretzelattack

            I was referring to your statement
            “It was Blair that left out Article 13, in 1998.

            In other words, he first granted himself immunity, and then went on to commit the crime of aggression against Iraq.

            Premeditated war crimes of aggression. And no prosecution.”

            I understood you to mean that Blair specifically excluded Article 13 because he understood that to be an out. “prescient” was me being sarcastic, it was obviously a strategic move.

            The Bush administration made it up as they went along, to give themselves legal cover. same effect in the end: they gave themselves a dubious legal cover, and have never been held accountable.

          • John Cleary


            Some light relief from the Guardian

            Russia must face tribunal for ‘crime of aggression’ in Ukraine, say UK cross-party leaders
            Pressure grows on Putin as politicians and lawyers point to principles that led to Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals
            “If proven in court, these acts of aggression could constitute what the Nuremberg trials termed the ‘supreme international crime’. For it is the crime of aggression from which most other international crimes – war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – often flow.”

            The statement was drawn up by the former prime minister Gordon Brown and Philippe Sands, a law professor who was the first to raise the idea of a special tribunal. Others who signed the statement include the human rights barristers Cherie Blair and Helena Kennedy.


            Perhaps Helena and Cherie do not know about Article 13?

            How times change!

            Blair courts outrage with Putin visit

            Ian Traynor in St Petersburg and Michael White
            Fri 10 Mar 2000 23.04 EST

            Tony Blair arrived in St Petersburg last night on a hastily arranged and controversial private visit designed to personalise ties with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s new strongman, who looks likely to be the country’s next long-term leader.

            Amid widespread reports of Russian atrocities in the Caucasus, and only two weeks before an election that will seal Mr Putin’s grip on power, the British prime minister’s visit attracted withering criticism from human rights activists.


            Mr Blair, with his wife Cherie, will spend the day with Mr Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, visiting the Tsarist summer palace, Petrodvorets, outside St Petersburg, and the vast Hermitage museum. They will then spend a night at the opera, attending with the Putins the premiere of Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace at the sumptuous Mariinsky theatre, better known as the Kirov.

            “This is absolutely the wrong signal to be sending, making a private visit to the opera at a time when war crimes are being committed with impunity by Russian forces in Chechnya,” said Malcolm Hawkes of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which is monitoring the humanitarian abuses in Chechnya.


            I’ve seen it reported that Putin remains a friend of the war criminal Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.
            Perhaps that explains why Blair is still a free man.

        • John Cleary

          Not everybody will be able to read behind the paywall on the Guardian, so here is an archived version of Mr Annan’s comments on the (il)legality of the Iraq invasion on 14 September 2004 (first day of new United Nations year).

          • AG

            John Cleary

            excellent, thx mate!

            I have taken the habit of archiving every little document, record, article.
            One day they turn out to be helpful for some discussion or argument.
            People have become very oblivious.
            And unlike Lanier and Co. believed the internet has not turned into some playground of free flow of information.
            * * *
            Just today Sevim Dagdelen on fb with a condemning commentary on Prince Harry´s 25 kills vs. Assange´s first famous Iraq video

  • Sean_Lamb

    Dualist is not a synonym for dishonest, it just means that the Executive makes agreements but Parliament makes the laws. You can refer to Treaties if there is some ambiguity in legislation giving effect to them, but in principle there is nothing stopping Parliament from going above and beyond what the Executive agreed to.

    David Davis sets out his understanding of the legislation when it was debated (to be clear the Extradition Act 2003 applies to all countries not just the US)

    “The Bill will ensure that no one can be extradited where the request is politically motivated”

    This was given effect to in clause 81

    A person’s extradition to a category 2 territory is barred by reason of extraneous considerations if (and only if) it appears that—
    (a)the request for his extradition (though purporting to be made on account of the extradition offence) is in fact made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him on account of his race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or political opinions, or
    (b)if extradited he might be prejudiced at his trial or punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty by reason of his race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or political opinions.

    The goal for Assange’s lawyers is to argue that “prosecuting or punishing him on account of his……political opinions” as a synonym or was intended as a synonym for extradition for a political offence. And then look at the treaty for what the exclusions were defined for the bar on extradition for political offences and argue if the Governments had meant to say people could be extradited for publishing classified documents they would have clearly said so (this argument might not cover the computer intrusion charges – which are very flimsy)

    Then they would need to look at all the proceeding treaties and case law around cases where extradition was denied and argue that there was a common law right protecting against extradition for non-violent purely political offences and if the Parliament had meant to abolish that right they would have clearly said so.

    It would be useful to bring up Eliot Higgins who has clearly broken Russian law on numerous occasions – and similar laws to those which Assange is accused of breaking. Not completely hypothetical as one of his associates Christo Grosev has recently been indicted by Russia.

    In the same way you would take clause 87 and argue for ECHR rights – particularly Article 7 – argue that Pentagon Papers case and the various opinions of the Supreme Court justices had created a wide First Amendment protection that it was unforeseeable what parts of the Espionage Act 1917 were enforceable and what were not (pointing also to the failure to prosecute John Young). So that Congress needs to pass an interpretable law consistent with their Constitution before they can start extraditing people. My understanding is the original submissions before Magistrate Barrister did argue along those lines

    Complaining about the law is frequently an alibi for sub-standard lawyering. At which point I will bring up again the refusal to allow Assange to be extradited to Sweden where there are strong constitutional guarantees against extradition for political offences

    • craig Post author

      The difficulty is that by ratifying treaties which parliament has not endorsed, the executive is making solemn commitment to other states to obligations it cannot enforce – and perhaps does not intend to enforce.

      Sweden’s strong constitutional safeuards against political extradition were not exactly effective in preventing its complicity in illegal extraordinary rendition from Swedish soil.

      • Sean_Lamb

        The issue with Sweden and al-Zari was that Sweden violated the Convention against Torture when they expelled al-Zari to a jurisdiction where the protections against such practices were considered sub-standard. However al-Zari was extradited on suspicion of terrorism, which is a clear cut-off in all extradition treaties. The Swedish courts and authorities may have poorly implemented the law (and Sweden has conceded this), that is different from simply being lawless. If states act lawlessly, then Julian Assange is safe nowhere. The protections have been weakened recently in support of their application to join NATO, but these changes are not retrospective.

        However, assuming Sweden follows their laws, then the precedent of Edward Lee Howard – an actual CIA traitor who Sweden refused to deport back to the USA:
        “He could not be extradited to the United States because neutral Sweden considers espionage a political crime. ”

        And, of course, Assange and his legal team were well aware this. Worth pointing out Edward Lee Howard died age 51 in what could only be described as suspicious circumstances

        • pretzelattack

          and why are we assuming that Sweden would have followed its laws? It did not seem to do so consistently during the rape investigation.

          • pretzelattack

            well I was hoping Sean Lamb would expound further, because I like to see people manipulate tiny angels on the heads of pins, but alas.

      • Wolsto

        Really enjoying these.

        For a fun fictional take on the Anabaptists the novel ‘Q’ by the collective writing under the pseudonym Luther Blissett is well worth a read.

        Edit: oops seems I put this in the wrong place…

  • Tatyana

    I will be looking forward to the next article as the city of Halle means a lot to me. After World War II the USSR established its troops in Germany, my grandfather served as a driver for the military commandant in that city.

    • U Watt

      That was a giant win the Soviets pulled off. Probably the biggest of all time. But as Zhukov observed in the moment, Europe would never forgive them for it.

  • AG

    (re: WWI – anyone here familiar with the works of Michael Jabara Carley?
    I haven´t read it yet.
    The only meaningful “revisionist” study concerning the state of Russian and Western affairs around WWII. that I know is the one about Munich 1938 “Chamberlain Hitler Collusion”.
    It was discussed in Britain as far as I remember. Here in Germany I suspect no one took notice.)

    • Squeeth

      The Munich Agreement of 1938 was as morally vacuous as the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939 but I doubt that you will read that in a commercially-published book. The point about the Munich Agreement is that it preserved the form of the Treaty of Versailles and kept the Germans and Russians out of most of Czechoslovakia (Russian aircraft had already been sent to Czechoslovakia during the war scare). Without a Polish agreement to allow the Red Army through its territory, Czechoslovakia was indefensible. You might have noticed that the Polish establishment is as Russophobic as ever; served them right in 1939 as it does in 2023 but it was the people who suffered, as usual.

      • Tatyana

        Just today I met in the news a mention of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. This was in August 1939. At that time, the USSR was at war with Japan and did not want to be drawn into the war with Hitler. A non-aggression treaty was signed, as well as a secret agreement on spheres of influence, which Poland always calls “a treaty on the division of Poland between Stalin and Hitler.”
        In the document, the USSR indicated the Baltic states, Bessarabia, as well as those parts of Western Belarus and Western Ukraine that belonged to the Russian Empire, as its sphere of influence. By the way, Kievan Rus and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania fought over these territories since the 9th century, and in subsequent eras, with varying success, this went either to Warsaw or Moscow. By 1939, these territories were being once again recaptured by Poland for almost 18 years, so I understand how it was very disappointing to lose them again.

        • AG

          (as you are posting this I wonder why I am not good with the controversial parts of Polish history – whereas it should be crystal-clear: As someone brought up in Western Germany, no negative word about victims of Nazi policy was part of our history syllabus. Now I don´t blame them. At least German scholarship has accomplished a lot since the Auschwitz trials.

          But therefore Germany has also developed a blind eye for other nation´s dark sides that do exist, of course (with the exception of the USSR, naturally. But that demonization too, has only been cultivated recently.).

          Naivité towards the US is following that tradition. And the same is true for Ukraine now. At some point however it just turns shallow. )

          • Tatyana

            I think I understand what you mean. Gaps in knowledge often confuse us. And I also noticed how people give out categorical assessments, while they simply lack knowledge and experience.

            I will tell you one Russian joke:
            A man comes to a very specialized house, you know, a house where you can invite a woman to spend time tet-a-tet, for a fee. The man chooses a young girl and accompanies her to the room. A couple of minutes later, the girl runs out of there in a panic, shouting “Oh my God! Terrible!”. The hostess sends another girl to the room, but that one also runs out with cries of “oh my! Horrible!”. Then Madame decides that the paid service should be provided in any case, the reputation of the special house is at stake! Madame checks her appearance and, with a proud posture, she goes to the notorious suite herself. The girls are waiting in anticipation. After enough time, the Madam comes down the hall and casually drops, “Well, pretty awful … But really nothing like ‘Ooooh! Teeeerrible! Hoooorrible!’

          • AG

            This one could actually come right out of a Lubitsch picture.
            He would have loved it.

            p.s. “people give out categorical assessments, while they simply lack knowledge and experience.”

            I have observed that very same phenomenon in online commentary sections. May be there is even a direct correlation there.

    • James Galt

      “1939 – The War that had many Fathers” by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof is a good read on the subject and yet another confirmation of Oscar Wilde’s saying – “Truth is rarely Pure and never Simple!”

        • James Galt

          And history not entirely irrelevant to the present Eastern European Crisis.

          The Poles appear to be poised to take a greater role in the present crisis – whether that turns out well for them, or not, we will have to wait and see.

          • AG

            “take a greater role in the present crisis”
            Frankly I am not a fan of that concept.
            It usually causes pain instead of relief to the big majority of people.
            Because a couple of guys are just too lazy and greedy to work out proper ways.
            I had hoped by now Europe had learned its lesson.
            But over at Naked Capitalism e.g. the same discussion is going on: Poland getting involved in some power play over Galicia, playing war with Russia.
            It´s madness.

          • AG

            A quick look into Schultze-Rhonhof´s life makes your Oscar Wilde quote more approriate than one might wish.
            That won´t keep me from following your book recommendation of course.

            He was accused of reproducing right-wing clichés and, what might be more serious, several of his footnotes were apparently falsified.

            He quit court under protest after the German Supreme Court had confirmed the legitimacy of using publicly Kurt Tucholsky´s phrase “soldiers are murderers” in the mid 90s when reffering to German Bundeswehr – (“Soldaten sind Mörder” I was never quite content with “murderer” as English translation for the German “Mörder”.)

            However the book received several editions.
            I doubt that every single reader was a rightwing nut.

            It´s one of the problems of history – a hotly contested popular subject and at the same time a very specific field of scholarship where it takes sometimes decades to produce a decent study which then is so complex that only historians or readers with enough time and discipline will read and appreciate it.

            How dangerous and full of traps historical research can be has become apparent now in the Ukraine war.

            I don´t know about GB. But I would have never believed how war-mongering the quite German community of historians could turn out when called to battle against Russia.

            It´s a disaster.
            But that´s for another post.

          • Johnny Conspiranoid

            “whether that turns out well for them, or not, we will have to wait and see.”
            Probably not though.

    • Calgacus

      I recommend Carley highly. A word on “revisionism”. Carley’s work is not revisionist, for he presents the older story, the reality that only a few, just barely sufficient in number, statesmen and thinkers understood before the war. [Along with working class majorities in many countries.] The story told for instance by the 1940 bestseller “The Guilty Men” and then accepted during the war. But all sorts of revisionism started soon after the war. And this revisionism, generally less objective and worse supported than what it revised, came to rule the roost and still does concerning many aspects of WWII and most things concerning the FDR era in the USA. So Carley calls his work “counterrevisionism”. Michael Foot, one of the 3 authors, welcomed the revising of the revisionists in his preface to the 1998 Penguin edition of “The Guilty Men”.

      You refer to Alvin Finkel, Clement Leibovitz, Christopher Hitchens- The Chamberlain-Hitler Collusion- James Lorimer (1997). It has a good appendix on the historiography. Carley’s preface to his book 1939: The Alliance That Never Was & the Coming of World War II- Ivan R. Dee (1999) has more, as does Foot’s 1998 preface.

      Frederick Schuman, a historian’s historian, is a prime example of the original history. He got the jump on everyone else in writing histories of WWII, because as his obituary stated, he generally predicted what would happen – and did – five years in advance. On the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty already discussed here, Schuman saw it coming, as even more tellingly, did the much-maligned US Ambassador to the USSR, Joseph Davies (FDR’s other European ambassadors agreed). Before it happened, Davies informed all and sundry in the US government. Not just FDR & the State Department (which was filled with the sort who would be guilty men of appeasement and collusion, had they had the chance – their chance came later in helping start the Cold War and rewriting history). But also Congressmen and Senators that a deal between Germany and the USSR was coming, for European diplomacy/appeasement/collusion with Germany, spurning alliance the USSR, left the USSR no other choice. The horrible recent EU resolution ludicrously blaming Germany & the USSR (!) for the war – because of the pact the British & French forced it into !- shows how triumphant this Orwellian rewriting is. Schuman’s description of the European “statesmen” of the 30s: “madmen and morons” – is the same as that of FDR’s, I just read: “demons and dimwits”.

      Carley is in academic hot water at the moment because of excessive objectivity on the Ukraine. He is writing a trilogy on the war called a Near-Run Thing. I’m a fan partly because I came to the same conclusion, thinking of the very same phrase – Wellington’s description of his victory at Waterloo. WWII was a near-run thing. Hitler very nearly won.

  • Barkbat

    The German TV mini-series about the Münster uprising starring a young Christoph Waltz is called König der letzten Tage. Both episodes are available on daily motion but are not subtitled into English. If anyone knows where there are, please say.

  • svea

    There are two Halle in Germany – a) Halle in Westphalia, – the one Mr Murray is referring to and
    b) Halle an der Saale (Saale is a river) ; not far from Leipzig; presumably the one Tatyana is referring to.
    (Halle a.d.Saale, Leipzig —> up to the Fall of the Wall in East Germany/ GDR)

      • Tatyana

        Huh, actually… well, I won’t spoil the fun.
        Perhaps I’ll go get some popcorn and draw up a betting table (although it’s hard to come up with more than two options, but people can be creative … so, maybe a special prize for the most unusual guess?)
        Would you like to start the quiz, Mr. Murray?

  • RogerDodger

    Good read. The legal absurdity of the ‘dualist system’ is shameful and more than a little nightmarish. It seems not much constrains power beyond power itself, where there is a will to exercise it. So too your points on a unilateral declaration – but I wonder whether the British state wouldn’t swiftly move to reassert control by force under your scenario?

    The Münster siege is a fascinating episode of history. Dan Carlin’s series on it, on his Hardcore History podcast, made for compelling listening.

  • nevermind

    I read your account with gusto, one could almost hear the snowdrops [snowflakes?] fall. Glad you liked Bremen it us a definite stop to be enjoyed by anyone visiting Germany. I have many friends there and within the surrounding ‘flatlands’ of Ost Friesland where you can see a person on Monday visiting you on Friday.

    Thank you for cheering me up after a visit by Herr covid during the festive days.
    Talking of festive days, I’d like to wish Tatyana a merry orthodox Christmas and hope that she will enjoy it with her family. Frohe Weihnacht
    We are have the grandchildren round tomorrow to catch up. Take care and much thanks to Craig.

  • Tom Kennedy

    Happy New Year Craig. May 2023 be a better year for you, Julian Assange and Scotland.

    I noticed, many years ago in Switzerland, the same behaviour of railway station clocks that you describe. The second hand stopped for 2 seconds at the end of each minute and thus went from 60 seconds to 2 seconds past. Because Swiss trains were, and hopefully still are, very punctual, I took this as their way of emphasising that the 11.02 train had arrived at exactly 11.02. Or perhaps it was to give the driver a second’s leeway for late arrival.

    • ccorn

      Regarding the station clocks, I recall having read about an old (pre-digital) mechanism to keep station clocks synchronized without extra wiring. The idea was to let each clock drive its second hand autonomously, but a bit too fast, until it arrived at 60. Then it would stop. At every true minute boundary, the station would reverse the polarity of the DC supply voltages of all the clocks. This would cause the clocks to move the minute hands one step forward and restart the motion of the second hands. No idea whether the system is still in use, but the analog clocks certainly behave that way.

  • Leon Friederichs

    Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed Münster! Regarding the cages – there are two sets, those on the tower and then another three in the city museum. But it’s the museum pieces that are replicas, while the tower set are actually the originals. If they don’t look old enough, it’s because they required extensive restoration after two of them fell down during the world war bombings. One of the eight colums supporting the spire, the one to the left of the cages, came down completely. (

  • Lapsed Agnostic

    Re: ‘At the time Independence is declared, immediate action must be taken to ensure all civil servants, judges, police and military take an oath of loyalty to the people of Scotland and its new government, and renounce any previous loyalty to Crown and to UK political institutions. Anybody refusing must be summarily dismissed from their positions.’

    “Hello, 3 SCOTS Headquarters. How may I help you?”

    “Hello, this is the First Minister of Scotland speaking. Could you put me through to your Commanding Officer?”


    “Hello, Lt-Col. Hamish de Pfeffel Gordon speaking.”

    “Good afternoon, Lt Colonel. This is the First Minister. The Scottish Parliament has just unilaterally declared independence from the United Kingdom. You need to ensure that all personnel in your charge swear an oath to the Scottish people and government, and renounce their oaths to the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, at your earliest convenience – and should any of them refuse, inform them that they face summary dismissal from the new Scottish Army.”


    “Assuming that this call is genuine, I’m afraid I have to inform you, First Minister, that I cannot do that without direct orders from a superior officer.”

    “I insist that you do this, Lt Colonel.”

    “I cannot, First Minister.”

    “Very well. Consider yourself dismissed from your post.”

    “You are not able to do that, First Minister.”

    “Yes I am, and I am doing it.”


    “Can I ask how many guns you have?”

    You’d have thought that having spent a considerable amount of time in West Africa & Central Asia, our host would have more of an idea as to how these things work.

    (Note: Lt-Col. Hamish de Pfeffel Gordon isn’t The Black Watch’s current CO. It’s just a name I made up).

    • Pears Morgaine

      So would Police Scotland taking an oath of loyalty to the Scottish Government inhibit the ongoing investigation into the missing £600,000 IndiRef2 fund and other financial irregularities within the SNP? (Assuming the SNP becomes the Scottish Government which appears most likely) Interesting article in the current ‘Eye asking why a political party with a £2.5 million income from members plus cash from Westminster needed a £107,000 loan from Peter Murrell last year. Sounds like a capable and reliable bunch to take charge of a nation.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for your reply, Pears. From what I can gather, I doubt whether Police Scotland officers having to swear an oath to the Scottish Government – rather than their current one involving the words ‘fairness’, ‘integrity’, ‘impartiality’, ‘fundamental human rights’ & ‘respect’ – would make much difference to ongoing interactions between their respective upper echelons.

        The point I was laboriously trying to illustrate was that, in the event of a UDI being made, in a nation where civilian gun ownership is heavily restricted, it wouldn’t matter that the Scottish Government had the cops in their pocket, if the Army (and probably Air Force as well) weren’t – so it would very likely quickly get nipped in the bud. There have been people who have thought a good deal about things like this, and devoted much of their (short) lives to trying to redress the balance between people and military-backed governments, with considerable success, but I’m not allowed to post about them here – even (presumably State-sanctioned) Wikipedia articles.

    • craig Post author

      Socio economic classes D and E are overwhelmingly pro-Independence. People under 30 in socio-economic classes D and E are more than 80% pro-Independence. Men still more than women.
      You are a fool if you think it is a given that Scottish soldiers would fire on Scottish people, whatever their Colonel says. And if they use English soldiers to fire on Scottish people, God help them.

      • frankywiggles

        Don’t the youth most drawn to the British Army come from a Rule Britannia-Glasgow Rangers background? That’s a tradition where genocidal thought is rampant.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Thanks for taking the time to reply, Boss. Obviously my ‘Yes, First Minister’ skit wasn’t as good as yours, though hopefully shouldn’t get me into as much trouble. Although it’s not always possible to tell by appearances, men under 30 from socio-economic groups D & E don’t appear to be in the majority at recent AUOB rallies from what I can make out, even though many people in the latter category have more time at their disposal than most. So whilst they may be Indie supporters overall (at least those that vote), most of them are perhaps not that fanatical about it.

        Had everyone in Britain belonging to socio-economic groups D & E voted Labour in 2017 or 2019, Corbyn would have been prime minister, probably with an overall majority, but that didn’t happen because most people in those groups don’t care enough about politics to take 15 minutes to go to a polling station and put an ‘X’ in a box, let alone being willing to risk life and limb for it. As far as I can see, these days it seems to generally be the A, B, C1’s (and their offspring) who are willing to risk a criminal record, and possibly imprisonment, for causes they believe in, e.g. Extinction Rebellion etc.

        I don’t think that squaddies firing on Scottish people in the event of a UDI is necessarily a given, but should a mob try to storm any of their barracks with the aim of seizing their guns and ammo, and replacing their commanders with Scottish government approved ones, I think there’s a reasonable likelihood of that happening, although with any shooting probably being over people’s heads – at least initially. Without training, however, most people would need either to be fairly well tanked and/or hokeyed up not to turn and run when they hear automatic rounds going whizzing by.

        In our nation’s recent history, soldiers have only fired on civilians in Northern Ireland. The paras that shot dead the marchers on Bloody Sunday were mainly English, but did that fact lead to the Nationalist community rising up as one and driving the occupying forces off their island within a few months, along with most of the Unionists? No, it just set the stage for 25 years (and more) of terrorist atrocities, with far more Northern Irish civilians (on both sides) being killed and injured than members of the British Army ,

        To gain further insight as to what could potentially transpire in the right (or wrong) circumstances on our side of the Irish Sea, think back to what was happening in Helmand Province only 10, 15 years ago – not least to civilians including children – and the sort of people who were doing a good deal of it, usually because someone who they didn’t like that much had told them to. It wasn’t just Prince Harry and his pals playing chess*. There’s a school of thought that postulates that the only reason we stayed so long there, and at such cost, was to give our boys (and girls) practice at dealing with potential insurrections closer to home.

        To answer frankywiggles’s (probably rhetorical) question: overall, most members of the British armed forces aren’t Huns fans, but a majority in Scottish infantry regiments are. Before recent allegations, even though I was aware of much of what they’d got up to in Iraq, I’d have said that British special forces squadrons wouldn’t have been actively engaged in competitions to see how many Afghan civilians they could deliberately kill, and getting well into double, and quite possibly treble, figures. Looks like it’s possible I might have got that one wrong – so maybe I am a fool, but not in the way you imply. Anyway, is it really so far from that to ‘all taigs are (literally) targets’?

        You state: ‘Westminster will never agree to Scottish Independence.’ I’m of the view that in the right circumstances it could agree to another referendum in the next few years, and would honour any Yes vote. I’ll leave any elaboration of that for a future comments section, though, as I’m sure you’ll agree this particular Sunday sermon has already gone on long enough.

        * “Princes William & Harry have been encouraging people to open up about their mental health, and everyone thinks it’s great. I wonder if Harry would be interested in hearing from the mothers of the shepherds he obliterated from his thirty-million-pound helicopter gunship of death. We’re exporting peace and democracy to Afghanistan, don’t you know, because nothing says ‘exporting peace and democracy’ than being shot at from a helicopter by a prince.” Frankie Boyle – best two jokes of his ‘Prometheus’ tour for my money.

      • dgp

        Of course the likelihood of troops firing at civilians is very remote, thankfully, but I am very doubtful that commissioned officers would change their allegiance or disavow the crown on the say so of a political direction.I really wouldn’t like to say how that might work out, but I am pretty sure it would lead to a critical stand off, the outcome of which could well be civil strife involving troops and police.

      • Goose

        It’s an interesting question. Just how would UK authorities respond?

        Rebellious Scots to crush! God save the King?

        Surely cultural and historic differences mean the hardline response to Catalonia’s push, from Spain’s govt(note.backed by the EU) would be out of the question?

        The British establishment approach would probably be to prevent it ever getting to that point, by infiltrating the SNP – at all levels. The battle may already be lost in that case. Do any of the current SNP’s leading figures strike you as wannabe radical revolutionaries? The inaction, lack of independence promotion; lack of democratic workshops etc. All give the impression the SNP may be going through the motions.

        Pro-inde Scots obviously missed a trick by not putting the SNP leadership under pressure. using the regional vote smartly, to give Alba leverage. Why didn’t that painless option gain traction? And if Sturgeon falters, or deliberately screws this opportunity up, could Alba finally break through?

        The only positive thing for independence supporters is that every year, there are less and less Scots who have a deep respect for the union, to vote ‘No’. The generation who felt excited in 2014 want that feeling back.

        • Goose

          Reading this (link below) the quest does seem somewhat hopeless :

          The unionists are in a far stronger position than they rightfully should be, what with Westminster politics held in such low esteem and two unpopular leaders in form of Sunak and Starmer. Neither of whom would carry much weight were they campaigning to save the union.

          As the piece highlights, any advisory plebiscite would face verification/validation issues; questions on turnout & threshold (expect no publicity or mainly critical publicity). Then finally Westminster’s total rejection & dismissal. Using a general election as a de facto referendum, is lap of the gods stuff, too. The risk is, this whole exercise becomes a damp squib, setting the cause of independence back decades.

          The path to independence seems beset on all sides, like an overgrown path, due to years of SNP neglect. It might be better waiting until Sturgeon retires and someone with a realistic plan comes along.

  • Natasha

    Re Scottish independence: The currency of Scotland is the GBP Pound (£), thus “ultimately, it boils down to” first:

    1) Scotland first creating its own Central Bank, to issue its own reserve currency to its own commercial banks. Or else Scotland will remain a subsidiary of the Bank of England and GBP Pound (£) issuing commercial banks for all its proposed post independence economic activity and institutional transactions both internally and externally.

    Scotland is thus very tightly bonded to the GBP Pound (£), in the same way UK local authorities don’t create their own income, they get central government grants and council tax receipts.

    Any post independent Scotland will of course have its accounts at the BoE instantly frozen, confiscated and / or destroyed i.e. stolen – exactly as has been done to the Russian Federation in 2022 by the UK, US, EU and other ‘Western’ controlled banks – by the UK treasury which controls the Bank of England, as former Chancellor Alistair Darling’s letter to BoE Governor Mervyn King, yet again re-established on Jan 29, 2009, a mere ten days after the UK parliament was informed:

    “In my statement to Parliament on 19 January 2009, I announced that the Government had authorised the Bank of England to create a new fund, the Asset Purchase Facility. I am writing to set out the terms of the authorisation….”

    Scottish institutions business and civil society could thus be instantly paralysed by a short UK treasury letter to the BoE “to set out the terms of the authorisation” to cut Scotland out from using GBP Pound (£) beyond a few suitcases stuffed full of used of £50 notes.

    • dgp

      I am not sure I fully understand your post but it has always seemed to me that Scotland is trapped in a spider’s web of many financial arrangements entered into over centuries. I am pretty sure, as your post suggests that the B of E has levers that would prevent the development of an independent currency. As I said, I don’t know the technicalities of some separation of a Scottish currency system from the much larger £ zone. It seems very clear to me that financial institutions would need to cooperate in the process of development of a Scottish currency and central bank. Even setting up a Scottish central bank from scratch would be a major undertaking and require years of development and have major financial implications and costs even with the advantages of a modern digital economy. Personally I, like Pears M(above,) am sceptical that the current SNP incumbents are capable summoning the kind of drive and purpose that would be required for anything approaching the complexity of a genuine independence process. I can’t see the population of `Scotland choosing to bear the risks of independence.
      I should quickly add that I very much wish for independence but the chances of moving out of the SNP stasis. The SNP simply don’t have a clue how to move forward. This explains the displacement activity of the latest gender legislation imbroglio. It diverts attention from the much more significant preparations for independence. I also suspect that ‘lapsed agnostic’ captures the likely mood of the police and military shifting their long established hierarchies and allegiances.

      • Natasha

        dgp, the point is, not that “the B of E has levers that would prevent the development of an independent currency” – rather the point is that an independent Scotland WITHOUT its own newly created currency is a nonsensical proposal that can’t possible work in practice, since the Bank of England, if directed to by the Westminster parliament, could shut down a newly independent Scotland’s ability to use GBP Pound (£) to run its government, industry, civil and international payments systems etc.

        • dgp

          Thanks Natasha, for the reply. I should state clearly that I have no training or acadenmic background in economics or finance.
          I am remembering the first Wilson government of the early sixties. Despite my youth (about 12yo) I was not in any doubt that the UK did not dare to displease the hegemony (the US). The devaluation of the UK currency was linked to the financial power of the US and their politicians were in a position to impose their wishes and suppress any movement towards socialism. There was a considerable war debt then held by US banks which gave the US considerable testicle-twisting powers. Later in the seventies when I worked in the oil industry, it was also very clear that the US was calling the shots in relation to North Sea oil. It was essentially colonisation and asset stripping by the large American and British Oil concerns.mIn the same sense, although the B of E might not have any formal levers in the event of an independent Scotland, it would have the power to shift the advantage away from a successful launch of a new currency. One only has to look back to the early history of the republic of Ireland to see how their pips were squeezed. After Ireland achieved independence, there was a long difficult period of economic privation that is still visible to close attention.
          I don’t have any doubt that our wee (local) hegemon (England) would be much displeased and use every lever at their disposal to stall and stymie any move towards a Scottish currency.
          The only way I can see an independent Scotland making progress is through the growing demand for genuine democracy through out the UK. I can well see a process of federalisation in England. If Scotland has a parliament why not the North East of ?England, why not the Yorkshire/Liverpool area. Why not the south-west of England. Their interests are seriously neglected by the elites based around WM.

    • craig Post author

      Of course it is impossible Natasha. The Baltic states, the Central Asian states, Slovenia, Croatia, etc etc they all collapsed instantly because they had left a currency union and central bank, and so none of them exist any more.

      • Natasha

        Craig, its not clear what you mean?

        All five Central Asian states established their own central banks in 1991-93 controlling money creation: Kazakhstan, Tenge KZT; Kyrgyzstan, Som KGS; Tajikistan; Somoni TJS; Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan New Manat TMT; and Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan Sum UZS.

        The Baltic states Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia and Slovenia, Croatia, all use the Euro EUR. Croatia joined the EU in July 2013 and obligated itself to adopt the Euro, which it did on 31 December 2022 dropping the kuna it had since 1994. Its now falls under the “Maastricht convergence criteria” allegedly for “financial stability”.

        There are 164 official national currencies globally used by 197 independent countries plus about five dozen dependent territories. The European euro is used in 35 independent states and overseas territories, the United States dollar is used in 10 foreign countries and in the USA, the West African CFA franc – in 8 and the Central African CFA franc – in 6 African states, the East Caribbean dollar – in 6 Caribbean nations.

        Thus many jurisdictions i.e. governments in lawful control over the affairs of a political unit (as a nation) don’t have their own money or central bank and officially use a foreign currency, but far more do enjoy monetary independence and do have their own central bank in their own jurisdictions to control money creation for benefit of their people: i.e. multipolarity is a good thing.

        Scotland’s independence would help precipitate the well overdue breaking up of the Westminster war mongering cabal, but if campaigners assume the Euro is a good thing for a new so-called independent country, then let’s remember how the ECB strangled Greece. And how the US dollar is now wrecking the Euro. Far better a new Central Bank of Scotland is created than join a sinking ship.

        This is because the Euro zone is about the European Central Bank (unelected) having control of each countries’ fiscal policy and debt ceilings. The single currency was not created upon the idea of balanced growth and convergence of national economies, but upon the logic of maintaining economic indices at nearly equal nominal levels. Those indexes being public debt to GDP, long-term interest rates, budget deficit, exchange rate stability, which are encapsulated in the Stability and Growth Pact i.e. the “Maastricht convergence criteria”. This prevented the drafters of the single currency from taking into consideration the core issues of the real economy, which are productivity and competitiveness that start from a regional level.

        European leaders created a monetary union, a single currency, without a coordinated fiscal policy (a fiscal union), thus leaving the euro open to serious shocks that would hit directly at this systemic flaw. This is the reason why the once two-speed eurozone has become two-tier, since national economies grew unequally, as the economies of the more efficient countries of European centre were concentrating the surpluses of the eurozone, while the periphery was left with debt and the illusion of prosperity that came from the once cheap loans. That is the reason why observers note that the surpluses of the North (Center) are the deficits of the South (Periphery).

        The weaker economies are not sufficiently competitive to produce enough goods and services that others want to buy. They run a balance of payments deficit with the world outside their borders. For example, between 2009 and 2018 Germany expanded by 20 per cent, growth in Spain was only been six per cent, and the numbers for Portugal and Italy were even lower, at just two and one per cent.

        The Eurozone, a bold and unprecedented experiment, is inherently fragile. It is not conducive to the convergence of national inflation rates, it is not an optimum currency area, and it is not a federal state, hence the six flaws:
        1) fiscal discipline has not been achieved;
        2) the need for a Banking Union, which has finally been recognized and only partly implemented;
        3) the ECB is not a complete and fully independent central bank;
        4) some member countries need a sovereign debt relief;
        5) structural reforms are badly needed but intrusiveness cannot be the solution; and
        6) the governance of the Eurozone is not designed for crisis management.

        • Calgacus

          Very good comments, I only have quibbles. Having your own currency is the normal, natural thing. Convincing people of the opposite is a spectacular propaganda achievement. An independent Scotland without its own currency would be a joke, a fake. Not in the least worth it.

          One quibble: let’s remember how the ECB strangled Greece.

          No, and it is of the utmost importance to remember this – Greece strangled Greece. Schauble offered a great deal to Greece, better than I expected, a negotiated Grexit. Alex Tsipras, who had put on a good show, then showed himself to be an insane idiot and “resigned a won game”. Scored an own goal. Spectacularly betrayed the referendum which showed the nation was united behind rational policy.

          As Mark Weisbrot said, the result of Grexit would have been a short transition, followed by robust recovery. But Steve Biko’s “The most potent weapon in the hands of an oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” cannot be repeated often enough. Incredibly bad economics – like that used to devise the Eurozone – that treats accounting as a form of witchcraft, has created more misery than all the dictators who ever lived.

    • Bayard

      “1) Scotland first creating its own Central Bank, to issue its own reserve currency to its own commercial banks.”

      Why is this so impossible? Scotland already has its own banks issuing its own banknotes.

      • Natasha

        Bayard, creating a new government backed currency is difficult but not impossible: setting up a central bank has been done hundreds of times before!

        However, the Banknotes of Scotland are simply the banknotes of the pound sterling that are issued by three Scottish retail banks, as such they have none of the powers of an independent central bank to control monetary policy.

        This reality was acknowledged before the 2014 referendum during public discussions over the currency of an independent Scotland: whether it would continue to use the Pound sterling, adopt the Euro, or introduce a Scottish currency (often referred to as the “Scottish pound”). Monetary policy in Scotland then was, and still is, set by the Bank of England.

        Nicola Sturgeon argued that post independence Scotland would subsequently develop a central Scottish bank and would move to a Scottish pound “when the economic conditions were right” and again in October 2022 announcing her intention for Scotland to continue using the pound sterling after independence, thus making political choices to in effect slow down pushing for independence.

        • Bayard

          “Bayard, creating a new government backed currency is difficult but not impossible: setting up a central bank has been done hundreds of times before!”

          As I was saying, but contrary to what you appeared to be arguing in the post to which I (and Craig) was replying. However, I think you exaggerate the difficulty. That’s the joy of fiat currencies, to crate a new one you just change the fiat. Fiat currencies are backed by the tax-raising powers of the issuer of the fiat, so as soon as the Scottish government gives itself tax-raising powers, it has the basis on which to issue a fiat currency. My point about the Scottish banknotes was that the government wouldn’t even need to change the money in circulation, it could just announce that from a given date all money issued by a Scottish Bank is denominated in pounds Scots, not pounds sterling.

  • Crispa

    I enjoyed reading this account very much and found the photos stunning.
    I was interested in the reference to Norman Cohn’s work, which I came across some years ago from reading Richard Webster’s “The Secret of Bryn Estyn: the Making of a Modern Witch Hunt” (The Orwell Press 2005). Webster ‘s concept about the collective phantasy and methodology about child sexual abuse in children’s homes in the 1980s, which has resulted in every child care worker, indeed anyone who just smiles at a child, being regarded now as a potential paedophile, was inspired by Cohn’s “The Pursuit of the Millennium”.
    Re-reading the section on Munster and the Anabaptists (Ch 13) in the light of Craig’s comments it occurs to me that there is a striking resemblance between Jan Bockelson (John of Leyden) and Vladimir Zelenski and the Ukraine situation, which is the most egregious contemporary phenomenon of mass action induced by collective phantasy.
    Cohn describes Bockelson as someone who “from youth onwards revelled in writing, producing and acting plays. In Munster he was able to shape real life into a play, with himself as the hero and all Europe for an audience” (pp267 – 268). Once he became leader (fortuitously)
    and crowned “king” he suppressed all dissent and opposition and prepared to defend Munster “to the last Munsterian” as his delusions took him, which he almost did by allowing them to starve to death when under siege from the Bishop’s forces – shades of Azovstal. He protected himself by employing foreign mercenaries and sent out “apostles” to surrounding cities and regions to beg for support for his cause. Whether he will come to the same end (at least metaphorically) remains to be seen.

    • John Kinsella

      Hello Crispa.

      Do you not agree that sending hundreds of thousands of troops to attack and occupy a neighbouring country might reasonably be regarded as “mass action induced by collective phantasy”?

      After all, the Putin regime have a collective fantasy that Ukrainians are really a wayward province of Russia.

      Remember Putin’s essay/article before the invasion setting out that opinion?

      • Stevie Boy

        History not being your strong point, you need to apply your arguments(?) also to Iraq, Syria and Libya to see where the fantasies really exist. On the face of it Russia and China are actually protecting freedoms whereas the West is trying it’s best to extinguish them. You are living the dream …

        • Pears Morgaine

          ” Russia and China are actually protecting freedoms ”

          Well that added some much needed cheer to a dull day. Would you care to elaborate; assuming you are being serious.

          • Goose

            It could be argued Russia have behaved a lot like the US/UK over the last 20 years, but with far worse public relations. Russia is effectively a one-party state with a v. tame media, and thus they neglect making their case beyond their own borders.

            The US/UK tend to work the ‘humanitarian intervention’ justification / angle much better, to provide domestic and foreign cover for military action. They’re in Eastern Syria now under the cover of ‘protecting’ Syrian Kurds.

            Blair remember, went on TV on the eve of the Iraq invasion (2003), to make a final plea directly to Saddam Hussein, stating our quarrel wasn’t with him or his regime, and furthermore, even ‘at this late hour’ all he has to do is give up his WMD and the invasion threat goes away. Blair presumably knew there were no WMD to give up. He’s since tried to paint the invasion as a purely humanitarian intervention, with the sole aim of removing a brutal dictator. In the process memory-holing his ‘eve of invasion’ wholly disingenuous plea from No.10.

            Present day and his acolyte, Keir Starmer, played a central role in the ongoing persecution of Julian Assange; he put Mi6 in the clear over torture, despite lots of evidence to the contrary. He was reportedly furious when, on compassionate grounds, Asperger’s sufferer ‘UFO hacker’ Gary McKinnon wasn’t extradited to a life in solitary confinement by the otherwise ‘cold’ Theresa May. He then deceived Labour party members to become Labour leader by running on a 10 Pledge ‘continuity Corbyn’ leftist platform. Only to overtly abandon every one of those pledges and pursue an ugly vendetta against those on the left who’d uneasily lent him their votes.

            And the guardian keeps telling us, ‘no one doubts Starmer’s fundamental decency,’ which is truly parallel universe stuff. Many think the guy is a complete shitstain. The fact Tory voters and columnists share the guardian view of his so-called ‘qualities’ says much about them too. Then we wonder how voters allow obvious fascists to come to power.

          • Laguerre

            “They’re in Eastern Syria now under the cover of ‘protecting’ Syrian Kurds.”
            It’s not what the Syrian Kurds want. The ‘protection’ is imposed on them. The Kurds want to do a deal with Damascus, but when the US (or particularly Trump) discovered this, or rather had this fact forced upon his consciousness, the US withdrawal was immediately stopped, leading to the language “we’re keeping the oil”.

          • Goose


            Of course there’s an ulterior motive behind staying; namely, that of not allowing the Syrian govt to stabilise and control all their territory. Earning much needed foreign income from natural resources; exploring potential pipeline projects etc.
            Who doubts, that if Putin were to fall and Russian – Syrian military support were to end, the US/UK would pick up where they left things with Syrian regime change back on the agenda.

          • Pears Morgaine

            ” The Kurds want to do a deal with Damascus, ”

            Huh. Possibly; but does Damascus, by which we mean butcher Assad, want to do a deal with them?

          • Laguerre

            “Possibly; but does Damascus, by which we mean butcher Assad, want to do a deal with them?”
            That’s a very bizarre doubt. Of course that suits Damascus. They regain control of one of the parts of the country not fully under their control. In any case, Kurds and Syrians are not enemies. It’s only the US forcing the situation, attempting to repeat the failed French policy of 1925, and divide Syria into fragments. It didn’t work in 1925, and doesn’t work today, without imposed US occupation forces.

          • Goose

            Butcher Assad ?

            He and his wife were once viewed as suitable guests for the late Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, hosted at Buckingham Palace. Blair made a trip to Damascus, as did John Kerry and Heinz heiress wife,Teresa Heinz Kerry, pictured dining with the Assads.

            Does Assad have more blood on his hands than surrounding ME countries’ rulers? It’s my own view that Assad was a victim of US/UK regional interference. The democratic legitimacy arguments are moot given surrounding regimes we have no issue with.

            The Iraq invasion and Saddam’s removal and de-Ba’athification ( اجتثاث حزب البعث‎ ) empowered Iraq’s previously oppressed Shīʿa majority. It also extending Iran’s sphere of influence, in a way that as obvious in hindsight. This growing Iranian regional influence upset Israel plus Iraq’s Sunni neighbour’s such as KSA. The Saddam Hussein Sunni minority regime was replaced by Shia leaders, many of whom had exiled to Iran during Saddam’s reign.

            Destabilizing Syria, with its Alawite (Shia offshoot) minority govt, and using the broader Sunni majority to create an Iran-hostile Sunni-led ‘buffer country,’ was the likely thinking behind the US/UK backed Syrian revolution. The west were prepared to see Alawites, Druze and Christians slaughtered by Sunni fanatics, in order to make way/ engineer their vision for the ME. And the US/UK politicians are happy being ignorant, hopeless bystanders.

          • Laguerre

            Of course Asad is not a “butcher”. That’s just western propaganda language for demonising a regime they don’t like. That said, the regime is not particularly nice (I go by what my Syrian friends tell me, particularly the Alaouites who could be expected to support the regime). It’s just much, much, better than the jihadi regime supported by the US and UK. (It’s difficult to know how a commenter like Morgaine justifies his support, even if tacit, for jihadis.) What is clear is that the Syrian people prefer Asad over the jihadis, and if the US withdrew, there would be no more political problem in Syria. Asad would do a deal with the Kurds; he would do a deal with the Turks, and the problem would be over. But that is not what the US wants – US policy is continued confusion and suffering with no end, as desired by the state at the SE corner of the Mediterranean

          • Goose

            Craig seems to have attracted the dissent watchers.

            The whole Russia online activity hoax (see Twitter files) has given cover to reactionary, fascistic-inclined elements within the British security state and army, ‘über patriots’ as they view themselves, to put Russia-linked(?) question marks over any and all online dissent. “They’re trying to divide us,” my arse. We’ve always had division, have we not? We live under an adversarial political system that encourages that FFS! Ministers who’ve okay’ed this overreach are equally gullible. This is the lowest point in the West’s history since the accusatory McCarthyite era.

            As Glenn Greenwald says, the agencies doing this to our citizenry need disbanding and rebuilding anew. As does the rotten FPTP political system, which has given us such poor quality, easily swayed decision makers.

          • Goose

            I refer to comments from the likes of Pears Morgaine and John Kinsella. These two, if they are two? Clearly buy the official western ‘good (West) vs evil (everyone else)’ narratives on everything hook, line, and sinker.

            Really, they aren’t going to win anyone over to that overly simplistic worldview here, so what’s the point?

            Most here realise the world isn’t black and white and the West has its secrets. The thing is though, many here believe the West should lead by example, in terms of democratic transparency, open and ethical foreign policies. Basically because it’s our countries boasting we are somehow morally superior.

          • Goose

            I see George Galloway complaining because the venue they had booked for their ‘No 2 NATO No 2 War’ event has cancelled. Likely under the sort of pressure the Grayzone’s Paul Mason revelations brought to light. How can anyone believe banning discussion you disagree with is the hallmark of a healthy democratic culture? Strange mindset this – let’s shut free speech down to protect free speech?

            Among those set to attend were Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Max Blumenthal and Peter Ford, the latter who served as the British ambassador to Bahrain from 1999 to 2003 and Syria from 2003 to 2006. It’s funny how many in-the-know, like Craig and Peter, who’ve seen how things work from the inside turn against the apparatus despite the risks. Can only imagine the atmosphere of suspicion and tension within these organisations. Crazy really, when we in the west really don’t need to run a cloak & dagger foreign policy like that. When instead we could just adopt a clear ethical framework ,with a clear, consistent approach on supporting democracy and human rights, everywhere, without selective outrage or favouritism. It’s what Robin Cook wanted.

          • Bayard

            ““They’re in Eastern Syria now under the cover of ‘protecting’ Syrian Kurds.”
            It’s not what the Syrian Kurds want. The ‘protection’ is imposed on them.”

            Perhaps he meant the sort of “protection” the Kray twins offered.

      • Bayard

        Oh dear, we were doing so well, having an informed and interesting discussion and then someone mentioned Russia and it was Putinphobia time again.

        • Goose

          I enjoyed this quip today, from Edward Snowden, in response to the often viciously obnoxious Oz Katerji :

          “Or, you know, because I actually worked for the CIA and know exactly what they do. Or maybe I just opened a book at some point in my life.

          I swear, these new-wave infowarrior types see the hidden hand of the Kremlin as the reason they got shorted a McNugget. Totally lost.”

          Oz Katerji and Paul Mason were busily calling others Putin’s ‘useful idiots’ and it now appears(based on the twitter files) the intel community were playing them as ‘their’ useful idiots.

          Knowing the press stories of vast Russian online influence activity untrue, because intel agencies must have had access to the same types of analytical information Twitter had. Why did they allow the myth of vast Russian online activity to propagate? It just turned western liberals(centrists UK) into morons, crying ‘Putinbot’ at anyone they disagreed with. It’s created a culture of suspicion around motives for holding any opinion. It’s damaged political debate too, as politicians feel they can’t question or speak out, lest be accused by these McCathyite wannabes.

  • Republicofscotland

    On the section about Scotland taking its independence: bloody brilliant, Craig. It’s a pity you aren’t our FM.

    • DGP

      If the ‘UDI’ proposed by Craig approached any kind of actuality, I don’t doubt it would be promptly suppressed and those responsible would spend their remaining free time in Belmarsh, either with or without due process. Craig’s recent contempt of court period in Saughton does not bear much inspection in terms of its legal consistency and due process. It is a clear indication of where power lies, so why would anyone expect a much greater challenge such as that related to self-declared Scottish independence to be tolerated with impunity. Much as I would prefer independence for Scotland, it cannot happen without the consent of the electorate of the UK. That stalemate will unfold one way or another according to events outside the Scottish Political arena. That sticks in the throat but it is a simple result of realpolitik. What happened to Craig re the Salmond trial was a shot across the bows of the good ship Murray and Salmond. At the moment Sturgeon’s SNP is stuck in a stalemate. The UK is in a crisis that will not evaporate away readily …

  • Andrew Carter

    Bruddy hell, you were right about Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof weren’t you! What a complete and utter fustercluck.

    I lived here 25 years ago, and whilst precious little appears to have changed since then, what has changed has gone through the floorboards and not stopped at the Earth’s core en route to oblivion

    So far, except for one cancellation in Ansbach, Deutsche Bahn has not been too bad or unreliable (and none of my belongings have been interfered with). But Stuttgart……!!!!

    (The jury is still out on whether the 15 day / 2 month 1st Class Interrail ticket for over-60’s is or is not a total scam)

  • Brian Watson

    I fear you have the right of it , There is very little chance that that Scotland’s claim to self determination will be recognised in international law until we can demonstrate that (a) we have exhausted local legal remedies and (b)that we show by much more assertive action that we are serious about independence . The former ,(a) is all but achieved which leaves (b) a very distant prospect . Meanwhile the good work of Salvo continues apace .

    • Stevie Boy

      IMO, as a Sassenach, Scottish independence has only two routes to success: The Irish route – armed insurrection; The financial liability route – become such an embarrassment and obvious money pit for the rest of the UK that TPB have no choice other than to dump Scotland like a bad case of pubic lice. There is no ‘legal’ route since Westminster holds all the cards and the CIA and Mossad run Holyrood. Sorry but the legal arguments are like nuclear fusion: always on the horizon, just ten more years of work, yawn, not in my lifetime. Hope I’m wrong …

  • Karl Klin

    Good read on your German travels Craig! May I hope for a report of you and your party playing a game of skat – It is a great pastime in any German Gasthaus

  • AG

    re: Ukraine War escalation

    First steps to prepare a strategy for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to reconquer Crimea seem to take shape. has an item on this in its new Monday edition.

    “The talk of red lines”

    I guess the English version will be up soon.

    I have no idea in how far this stuff is coordinated with Washington. The names are usual suspects. But they turn louder.

    This contains some grave risks far beyond what we have experienced so far.

    Those who do not understand or simply disregard the justified strategic concerns in Moscow should seriously consult the studies about US nuclear first-strike capability which in essence claim a victorious nuclear attack possible.

    This is very serious. A considerable amount of people in the Pentagon seem to base policies on these assessments.

    And of course NATO/US Command are pondering such scenarios.
    Yet, even the slightest of thoughts is one too many.

    To quote the authors (Keir Lieber, Daryl Press) of one such study, admittedly older, e.g. published in Foreign Affairs in 2006 (but I believe militarily things haven´t really changed since):

    “(…)The U.S. arsenal today looks much as it would if a disarming strike against
    Russia were still its dominant mission,” a scholar at the Federation of American
    Scientists writes. A group of RAND analysts agrees: “What the planned
    force appears best suited to provide beyond the needs of traditional deterrence
    is a preemptive counterforce capability against Russia and China. Otherwise, the
    numbers and the operating procedures simply do not add up.(…)

    Therefore: “(…)Russian (and Chinese) military planners should view these results
    with grave concern.(…)”.

    Some of this causes cold shivers if one reads the technical analysis behind it.
    It´s boasting with scientific certainty.

    (They know the locations of the Russian silos, they know the reaction time, they know the weakness of the Russian alarm system, many are low-yield high precision nuclear warheads.)

    Last year Stoltenberg suggested to introduce a change of NATO Article 5 to include preemptive strikes e.g. if Cyberwarfare would apply or hybrid threats. Which could mean anything. Carte Blanche.

    This would concur with the Obama doctrine that would already allow for acts of cyberwarfare sabotage by US proxies inside Russian territory.

    It is unclear whether this has since been expanded to non-Cyberwarfare. The attacks on Russian air bases suggest so.

    It´s almost like pieces being put in place.
    And we the people watch and gaze.

    This can´t be.

    I wonder what can be done.

    Nuclearwatch co-director John LaForge just went to prison in Hamburg to fulfill his 50 days detention for protesting at Büchel air base in 2020.
    But would clogging prisons lead to anything?

    The protests there this year were tiny.
    And almost noone reported on LaForge.

    • NotEinstein

      The only element that is of any importance when it comes to nuclear missiles is the delivery rockets. It is a fact that the US nuclear program rests on 1973 based technology – i.e. Polaris II and Minuteman III. Nobody now doubts that Russia is streets ahead with it’s range of hypersonic missiles, so there will be no US first strike because they know that they will never see their rockets reach the intended targets.

      Think tanks are paid to deliver seemingly authoritative, academic style narrative, which is all that report is.

      • Stevie Boy

        Yes, and the UK ‘independent’ deterrent, Trident, needs to ask the US for launch rockets, which if they have any spare, and if the US agrees with their intended use, then they are sent to the UK (Scotland) where the warhead is mounted and off they go. Of course if they then wanted to fire them the US apparently has to okay the launch code software. By the time all that happens we would all be dead. IMO, the only real enemy the UK has that we might want to nuke is the USA!
        The UK’s ‘independent’ deterrent is all PR and BS, another overpriced US-imposed joke.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        I believe that their warheads are also fairly important, NotEinstein, with the primaries needing to be topped up with tritium every so often. I’m also fairly sure that, if launched, most of the re-entry vehicles from the US’s Trident II’s and Minuteman III’s would be reaching their intended destinations in Russia – the exceptions mostly being those that are intercepted by the A-135 system around Moscow.

        Even if the UK did have its own independent nuclear deterrent, Stevie, with inertial guidance systems not programmed to leave their associated warheads ending up somewhere in the South Atlantic, should Russia ever launch a full-scale nuclear attack on the UK, I reckon that 10-20% of our fellow citizens would still be dead within a day – and if they also nuked the massive server farms in Northern Virginia as well, 90-95% of them would probably be dead within a year, due to the breakdown of Western supply chains.

        • NotEinstein

          Should the US decision makers actually be fool enough to launch, of course, their missiles will get to Russia, but my point was, the Russian hypersonics, such as Avangard, would have been launched in retaliation and destroyed their targets before the original US missiles reached theirs.

          The thing about the US nuclear force management is that they operate on an ‘until fail’ principle, rather than length of service – how many would actual function effectively? That tells me that they only really intend them to maintain MAD. All the posturing is just bluster, as typical for bullies.

          • ET

            Hypersonic missiles won’t get to their intercontinental targets much more quickly or indeed maybe even slower than Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). ICBM trajectories are mostly in low earth space at mach 20-ish speeds and only spend a relatively small proportion of their travel time in atmosphere. Hypersonic missiles, especially hypersonic glide missiles with similar range to ICBMs are subject to substantial drag effects because they are travelling in atmosphere. Also, hypersonic missiles are so hot they are probably detectable for their whole trajectory.
            Hypersonic missiles are possibly far superior compared to cruise missiles at relatively short ranges. Where the USA and Russia start chucking nukes at each other they probably don’t have many advantages compared to ICBMs except perhaps trajectory predictability and therefore ability to be shot down.
            There is a deal of hype surrounding hypersonic missiles.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply, NotEinstein. I’d imagine that the people who were responsible for launching US nukes at Russia would subsequently see most of them hitting their targets via satellite feeds into a bunker nearly half a mile under Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, and into various secret continuation-of-government facilities scattered about the US, whatever Russia does.

            Assuming you believe the test results from the US’s Ground-based Mid-course Defense system (I don’t), on average, it will still only be able to successfully intercept around twenty traditional ICBM re-entry vehicles, most of which could easily be decoys. So, as ET has outlined above, even if these new-fangled Avangards can loop-the-loop at Mach 15 and then land on a nickel, they’re not going to make much difference to the overall strategic situation.

            Lastly, I have it from one or two reliable sources that, even though many of them are based on 1970’s technology, the vast majority of US and Russian nukes will work as advertised.

          • Bayard

            LA, so the most likely result of a nuclear exchange is that the rulers of both sides end up in bunkers watching their missiles destroy the enemy cities while their populations perish outside. Sounds like lose-lose to me.

      • AG

        Hello NotEinstein et. al.

        skepticism I always welcome.

        However this is way more complex than the current hype over Russian hypersonic missiles.

        And I would like to point out a few things.

        These findings are not just superficial chatter by a couple of “douchbags” from some think tank.

        Look into the plethora of footnotes.

        the study from 2006 that I was reffering to:

        “The End of MAD? The Nuclear Dimension of U.S. Primacy”
        Authors: Keir A. Lieber Daryl Press Spring 2006

        Foreign Affairs featured an abridged version I think.

        This concerns core US policy of the highest order.

        The fact that major media outlets don´t talk about it is aboslutely meaningless of course.

        Russian alarm systems are probably still (since 2006) below desirable standard.

        Theodore Postol pointed this out again just past March.

        See his very instructive interview:

        @Lapsed Agnostic

        Postol also pointed out – here or in some of his studies that the Moscow ABM-system is most likely completely useless.
        As are probably all ABMs against nuclear delivery systems. (But honestly I don´t want to find out.)

        Re: Russian out-dated alarm:

        US stealth technology (bombers & cruise missiles) are said to be capable of reaching their targets undetected.

        One question is at what point of an already ongoing US attack can Russian High Command actually decide over retaliatory action.

        From the first warning 15 min. time are minimum to decide over what is true, what is not and what is to be done.

        This is complicated as Russia relies on inferior ground radar mainly.

        Simple Ukrainan attacks in recent months were as you remember undetected.

        Some people regarded these as tests. I wouldn´t go that far.
        But they were certainly not reassuring for the Russians.

        No wonder that Russia has ordered to re-station the bomber-fleet.

        Another problem is surveillance.

        US of course will not reveal how closely they can track Russian mobile units. But it most likely is considerable.

        This scientific research is concerning the entire US military community.

        What do you think they are using the nearly 1 trillion defense budget for?

        The major disagreement inside the community is not about the facts but the strategic consequences.

        There are those who point out that its madness to believe that in real war victory without risk of annihilation is a realistic outcome.

        And there are those who as you say: pay people to tell them what they want to hear. Selected reading so to speak.

        But the scientific facts are there und unchanged.

        And they are worrying for the Russians. And for everyone else. Because they push recklessness.

        I am not afraid of the Russians. I am afraid of the US.

        For the world as such It doesn´t matter whether US knocks out 90% or 20% of hostile nuclear weapons.

        Apart from that, theoretically Russian forces are designed for retaliatory strike.

        Another problem is preemptive tactics by Russia.
        Since they are well aware of their deficiencies in detecting, to strike first is a fail-safe.

        But all of this is meaningless if the FICTION of a successful first strike prevails among those people who decide in the US.

        There was a very good commentary on the hype over hypersonics by a retired expert who basically said it doesn´t change much and even if US was behind in that respect it´s secondary. Because the rules stay the same.

        Unfortunately I lost that text link.

        I am a looking into updated studies. But most likely the US leverage has even increased after massive buildups since 2006.

        Just 2020 the US Navy was green-lit on their new SSBNs which are now called Columbia-Class even more destructive with 16 Trident II each can be equipped with up to 14 90kt warheads.

        New Start would restrict to 4 warheads each. How comforting.

        (In 2006 China allegedly had altogether 18 single-head ICBMs.)

        So who is threatening whom?

        • Tatyana

          Are you all sane, to talk about nukes? Hey! We are sitting here all involved into a crisis, which we were never wishing for! Why won’t you better talk about your wise, cool-blooded and super-democratic leaders, who would apply some good old diplomacy and save the world?
          I see many here agree that Western Europe + USA are democracies vs Russian totalitarianism, so, I believe that you believe that you are responsible for your leaders. D – Democracy.
          Then, I see that many here agree on the fact that Western Europe + USA are developed countries vs Russia being an underworld, so I believe that you believe that you there know something that I here do not know.
          Any ideas on how to stop all this madness?

          • Stevie Boy

            Tatyana no sane person anywhere thinks that nukes are anything other than complete madness. The problem is that the West is controlled by crazy people and the general population appears to be blind, stupid or unconcerned.

          • Dawg

            Good questions, Tatyana, right to the point.

            Are we sane to talk about nukes? Yes, if a participant in the conflict has already raised the issue. As I recall, the first leader to do so in public was Mr Putin. According to reports, the NATO reaction was quite restrained, talking down the possibility of nuclear confrontation.

            Times of India (28 Feb 2022): Vladimir Putin raises nuclear alert status, US stays calm

            Of course it’s wise to evaluate the possible nuclear contingencies. (Whether the commenters above are doing so in an entirely sane and realistic manner, I leave to the reader to judge.)

            People in democracies are, in a significant sense, responsible for our leaders because we (collectively) put them in place – albeit in via a deeply flawed binary system that doesn’t afford much choice: it’s either Tweedledum or Tweedledee. Unfortunately our leaders don’t always act in a way that suggests they’re responsible or accountable to us. I think democracy needs to be refreshed in the high-tech age, and maybe it will be. At least what we have is a step in the right direction, away from unaccountable totalitarianism. Britain has a long political history of being ruled by supposedly benevolent dictators (Kings & Queens), and we’ve trended away from that system for good reason. We might even be on the verge of dumping the monarchy altogether, thanks to the valiant Prince Harry – who has basically testified that the system sucks on the inside as much as it stinks on the outside.

            Russian politics and society are very different to those in the West, and that’s not a bad thing in itself. (A term like “underworld” is loaded, inaccurate and unhelpful, though.) The relative advantages are very much a matter of opinion rather than fact. The more you tell us about Russian society, the better informed we become (provided you are reporting honestly), so keep it coming. I find it very informative. Will it change opinions? Potentially it could, but that depends on many other factors, and I don’t think it’s very likely in most cases. (Some people’s opinions are so ingrained that they’ll reject any new information anyway.)

            How to stop all this madness? There’s no simple solution to such a complicated and intricate network of competing interests and sensitivities. It’s difficult to resolve that kind of conflict without an objective international body to ensure compliance with any agreement. My suggestion for a first step would be for the Russian troops to retreat to their own internationally agreed territory. Unfortunately Putin is in no mood to withdraw: he’s playing for a win. So there would have to be internationally agreed concessions, at the very least a peace agreement with NATO to reduce the perceived threat to Russian interests, before he could contemplate easing off.

            No, I don’t think it’s very realistic either. Personally, I’m waiting for some aliens to invade so they can use their weird alien force fields to deactivate projectile weapons and use some sort of mind melding to get each side to appreciate the other’s point of view and accommodate it in a spirit of mutual cooperation. That might be marginally more likely.

          • Bayard

            ” It’s difficult to resolve that kind of conflict without an objective international body to ensure compliance with any agreement. My suggestion for a first step would be for the Russian troops to retreat to their own internationally agreed territory.”

            My suggestion for a first step would be to have an objective international body to ensure compliance with any agreement. If such a body had been in existence to ensure compliance with the Minsk agreements, there wouldn’t have been an invasion in the first place.

          • AG

            I apologize if I upset anyone.

            One last comment on this though if I may:

            After 11 months of war there are a few things that have to be addressed without any sugar-coating because they may concern the well-being of us all.

            May be some remember January 2020 when news reached us from some virus outbreak in the Far East.

            When it started to spread our governments said, no worry, we got everything under control.

            We now know they did not.
            Luckily the virus was not as deadly as some had feared and it could be contained with the help of vaccines.

            Now, 2 years later the governments again claim they have it all under control.

            What if they don´t?
            What if they fail us again?

            This time no vaccine would help us.
            There is no remedy against a nuclear explosion.

            Mistakes cannot be corrected.

            In order to understand how such a scenario could in fact come about and how it can be prevented, it is necessary to understand the technical nature of these things.

            The war-protesters in Cologne, the protesters at the submarine bases in Oregon, the protesters at the nuclear sites in New Mexico and Okinawa.

            They demonstrate because they know the risks.
            They know how easily the unthinkable can happen.
            And they try to do something about it.

            The scientists of the board that decides over the so-called Doomsday Clock do what they do not out of insanity.
            They want to prevent insanity take control.

            So do all the other groups and institutions dedicated to educate the public about the intricacies of the dangers of a nuclear war.

            I am well aware it is hard to digest. I needed many weeks myself to accept this new reality we live in.

            (To be honest, it always has existed in a parallel reality hidden from us but that veil has now been torn apart.)

            So to understand where the dangers linger, means to understand the inner workings of this man-made system.

            * * *

            The weapon supplies from our side started with small guns and helmets.

            The government said „no artillery.“ 2 months later they sent artillery.

            The government then said “no light tanks”. A few weeks ago they decided to send light tanks.

            They then said “no heavy tanks”. Most likely they will now send heavy tanks.

            What will it be in 3 months. A no-fly zone?

            For months people said, leave the Crimea out of the discussion.

            Past week German historians have started a contradicting discussion.

            A discussion of the kind that could prepare the ground for such a military operation.

            It would be wrong to ignore this fatal escalation.

        • Stevie Boy

          Stealth technology is very overhyped. For one thing the technology is aimed at being ‘invisible ‘ to military, short wavelength radar systems. The Chinese, Russians and others have found that older, long wavelength systems can indeed successfully detect stealth aircraft. For another thing, when stealth aircraft activate their weapons systems and afterburners, they become visible. So the reality is that stealth systems are essentially overhyped BS. And, the F35 is the biggest pile of overpriced cr@p going.
          I very much doubt the Russians and Chinese are worried about Western stealth technology but they are not going to admit that and are probably happy for the West to feast on their own BS.

          • Pears Morgaine

            It’s been widely known for some time that long wavelength radars can detect stealth aircraft the problem is that they can’t do it with sufficient accuracy or resolution; which is why short wave systems were developed in the first place. Accurate long wave systems need to be so large they’re limited to fixed ground installations.

          • Bayard

            “Accurate long wave systems need to be so large they’re limited to fixed ground installations.”

            In a purely defensive capacity, that shouldn’t be a problem. You have the ground you want to defend and you build your installation near it. Of course for offensive warfare, such installations are useless.

          • Stevie Boy

            I’d suggest that technically it is not an insurmountable problem. However, no-one is currently going to admit to the problem or a solution. Ignorance is bliss and Lockheed profits will increase.

  • Andrew Carter


    Your suspicions were well founded, but the plot thickens……

    Although, as you note, the second hand pauses briefly at each point on the dial, and the entire mechanism pauses at the end of the minute, there is in fact some slight movement in the minute hand as the rotation progresses, and at the point where the entire thing pauses and then jumps forward, it travels from and to not the minute marker itself, but from/to a position slightly between markers, such that when the time is “at the precise minute”, it’s not, and it’s actually showing about half a minute fast (or slow, depending on how you view it)

    Are we talking insanity or dementia, Craig? Whichever it is, I sense we may both be afflicted.

    Your Man on Platform 9 at Koln Hauptbahnhof

    • IMcK

      I might suggest that all the clocks throughout the rail network receive a common impulse signal on the minute (or half minute) which drives the minute hands and the seconds hands are driven locally (perhaps on a clock by clock basis) and corrected to the external impulse signal – similar to the principle of the impulse type master/slave clock system – eg the ‘Synchronome’ clock system which was first used to provide a common time signal on railway networks

  • Konrad Löwe

    Dear Mr. Murray,

    where can I find a list with your future stops in Germany? I am from Frankfurt and missed your talk there simply because I did not know about it.

    Best wishes!

  • Brian Fujisan

    Who knitted the Jumpers…My Ex is an Expert

    I Lament Peter Gabreil Sounding off Right Now… His Silence on Julian Sickens me

  • Lima Brava Charlie

    Regards… “The police must answer only to Scottish authorities. Ultimately so must the military stationed in Scotland.”
    …you may be interested to know about Stephen Flynn’s comments on LBC this evening, where he declared that an Independent Scotland would put in place its own military, including Army, Navy and Air Force, in particular to patrol its coastline.