|What We Think||January 2000: Much cant over Chechnya|
Now Foreign Secretary Cook has found another government to which to deliver lectures. This time it is the Government of Russia, no less, which has attracted the ire of Whitehall for its use of overwhelming armed force to put down insurrection in its province of Chechnya. That this finger-wagging was entirely predictable does not make it any the more pleasing to the nostrils.
Chechnya is, rightly or wrongly, part of the Russian Federation. In any event, the area is no business of the United Kingdom. No British interests are at stake there. We should not be poking our noses in.
President Yeltsyn resents foreign interference in what he maintains is a Russian internal matter, and when the so-called 'international community' starts squawking about it he tells those doing the squawking to go to hell. Now this magazine is very far from being uncritical of Boris Yeltsyn, but in this particular instance we cannot help wishing that we had a leader in Downing Street who was prepared to do the same in respect of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is our business, just as Chechnya is Russia's business. But does any prime minister tell outsiders to go to hell when they lecture us on what we should be doing over Ulster? Not a chance! On the contrary, we invite the US President and the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic into discussions over the province's future and we bend over backwards to please them.
The Russians are not messing about in Chechnya. They are determined to do what is necessary to put down the insurgents and bring the area under control. Of course, the suffering of ordinary Chechen people, most of whom only want to get on with their own lives, is sad to behold. But it might be asked: what else could the Russians do? Before carrying out their assault on the Chechen capital Grozny, where most the insurgents are holed up, they have given ample warning to the local population to vacate the city, and they have tried, as best they can in an extremely difficult situation, to provide food and shelter for those heeding their calls. This has not been very much, but, as stated by Edward Luttwak in the Sunday Telegraph of the 12th December, Russian troops in the vicinity are very little better off. Those Chechens who have chosen to remain in Grozny risk getting caught in the crossfire, and that is tragic. But it is the regrettable price that sometimes has to be paid for sovereignty and control. A nation that is unprepared to pay that price - assuming that first it takes every step humanly possible to avoid it - might as well abdicate any position in the world.
It might be asked why Russia, which holds sway over an immense territory, should regard such a tiny corner of it as worth fighting over. Well, for one thing, the main pipeline from the Caspian oil fields runs right through Grozny. While Chechnya is in a state of anarchy, any alternative route is open to sabotage. Oil, as stated by Luttwak, "is the key to Russia's economic recovery and to ending its dependence on western banks."
And for another thing, the anarchy is not confined to Chechnya itself; it has spread to parts of Russia proper, particularly Moscow, where terrorist acts by Chechen rebels have become commonplace. Unlike Britain, Russia does not believe the way to deal with terrorists letting bombs off in its cities is to sit down and sip tea with them.
But most important of all, the Russians recognise that capitulation in Chechnya will be the trigger setting off challenges to their power and sovereignty in many other regions of their empire. If they give in there, they may as well give in everywhere else.
It may well be that the Russians, having put the rebels down and brought Chechnya under control, may deal with alternative leaders there and negotiate some acceptable sovereignty arrangement. This way they will have established their authority and may feel ready to make concessions. On the other hand, they may not. In any event, it is for them (the Russians) to decide - not the British Foreign Secretary, not the President of the United States, not the heads of the EU.
But there is another respect in which western interference in the Chechnya issue is nauseating. Western leaders have been condemning the Russians for doing in Chechnya exactly what they themselves have been doing in Yugoslavia - bombing and indiscriminately killing people in pursuit of their own policy. The difference is that the Russians have been doing this in their own territory whereas the western leaders have been doing it in someone else's territory. So who are the greater offenders?
It is the old story. Humbug and cant rule in British government circles, instead of a sensible and resolute concern for British interests and British interests alone.
Rentamob: the right protest for the wrong reasons
TV watchers observing the wild and destructive antics of the rioters in London and Seattle at the end of November might be forgiven for saying: "Here we go again!" and urging the police present to deal with them with the utmost severity. Certainly, in the case of the London mobsters, who ran amok in an orgy of destruction in the area by Euston Station, the filthy appearance and hooligan behaviour was instantly familiar to those of us who have been at the target end of 'anti-racist' and other forms of far-left demonstrations. As usual, police present, no doubt acting under orders from the Home Office, just pussyfooted with the rioters.
Nevertheless, the issue in question here was a rather different one to those normally sparking off left-wing mayhem. This mayhem was directed at the World Trade Organisation, meeting in Seattle in the North Western United States. The WTO is a high-powered globalist body whose aim is to liberalise and internationalise the world economy even further than is at present the case. If the WTO had its way, the slim control that we British have over our economy would virtually cease to exist, and free trade, which has already gutted most of our industry, would destroy it utterly.
People are right, therefore, to oppose the WTO. Typically, however, the leftists voicing opposition in these latest demonstrations were concerned, not with the effect of WTO policies on the jobs of British or American workers, but with that on the economies of the Third World - always of much more concern to Rentamob folk than the welfare of their own kind. Just another case of a good cause hi-jacked by the wrong people!
Good-bye to the British bike
Well almost. In December it was announced that the last British-made Raleigh bicycle had rolled off the production line at the company's Nottingham factory, ending the 109-year-old history of what was once the world's largest bicycle manufacturer.
The 700-stong workforce, now a mere tenth of its former size, will in future only assemble parts and paint frames made abroad.
Nottingham South MP Alan Simpson (Labour) said of the debacle in the Commons:-
"There is a sense of the tragic and the absurd about the Raleigh situation. Tragic because it is one of the world's great manufacturing names, and absurd because the high-tech manufacturing equipment it will be auctioning off is likely to go to its competitors in the Far East."
Of course, politicians like Mr. Simpson have to say these things because their constituents are listening and votes are at stake. The fact remains that he represents a party, which in government has, by its commitment to the global economic system, sat back and allowed both the tragedy and the absurdity to come about.
And there are still politicians and newspaper writers around who tell us that the British economy is in boom!
New Labour's darlings excel themselves on stage
'Sir' Elton John - yes, the Tony Blair-knighted super-star who was picked to sing the farewell hymn at Princess Di's funeral and who is an honoured guest at Downing Street parties - cocked a further snook at traditionally minded Britain in November. In a repulsive show held at London's Albert Hall in front of a VIP audience including the Premier's wife Cherie Blair, and staged in support of the homosexual rights group Stonewall, John had his fellow pansies perform a sexually suggestive dance act dressed in the uniform of the Cub Scouts - a clear gesture of approval and encouragement of queer activities among that fraternity.
Some reports stated that the act brought a smile to the face of Mrs. Blair, while others denied this. What seems beyond dispute is that neither she nor any of the large number of politicians present walked out of the show. So far, there has been no news of impending prosecutions.
We are sure this little incident will not mean that Elton is any the less welcome at No. 10!
Maggie and the Euro Army
Lady Thatcher is one of the numerous public figures who have expressed opposition to Prime Minister Blair's support of a unified EU defence force. Good for Maggie, some might say. But wait! The ex-premier's reasons for disliking the idea are a little strange, to say the least. She called it "a Utopian venture" to create a super-power in Europe "to rival America on the world stage." This, she warned, "would worry our American allies..."
In fact, the sole reason for opposing British participation in a supra-national Euro defence force is that it would place part of our armed services under foreign control - and that is wrong, whether the control be European or American. Worrying Americans has nothing whatever to do with the matter; national sovereignty has everything to do with it.
The 'apology' industry again
For the second month running, someone is apologising to the Jews. This time it is the Japanese magazine publishing house Shogakukan Inc. The company blotted its copybook by allowing one of its weekly publications to print an article claiming that an international Jewish conspiracy was behind the acquisition by an American company of a Japanese bank.
The publishers pledged themselves to print an apology and correction after the Simon Wiesenthal centre in the US persuaded ten corporations there and in Japan to withdraw advertising from the magazine otherwise.
This all perverts the true spirit of what should be meant by apology. Apologies should be sincere expressions of regret at having recognised that one has wronged the aggrieved party. When they are issued under threat, as here, they lose their meaning. But this, it seems, is par for the course in today's world.