There are some news stories where one knows it is offside to laugh, poke fun, or otherwise parody what’s been going on. But at times, such bad taste can be brought to bear in the support of long-held views. What you are about to read is, I suspect, about as incorrect politically as it gets. But that doesn’t negate the very obvious point it’s making.
The football situation in Egypt at the moment is, to say the least of it, inflationary. Last year, two bitter rivals met in a match there, and fighting broke out between the two side’s supporters that resulted in the deaths of seventy people. In order to administer justice in this case, an Egyptian court earlier this week sentenced a further twenty-one of those involved to death. I would not have relished being the forensic copper charged with sorting out who killed whom in order to arrive at the verdict that occasioned these sentences. To be blunt, I think such a process would be impossible. To my mind, all the Egyptian court did was needlessly raise the death toll to ninety-one. I am not and never have been a fan of State vengeance when it comes to the death penalty: killing is wrong, period. But Egyptian Islamics disagree, and it’s their country, not mine.
As a result of the sentences meted out however, a further twenty-seven citizens (and counting) have died in the riots that followed. So the Roll-Call of the Dead now stands at one hundred and eighteen.
The snowball effect being in play, there is no limit to where this might end. Protesting the fact that twenty-seven people have been ‘needlessly mown down by fascist police supporting the anti-democratic forces of the military’, it is highly likely that murderous attacks on police stations will follow by Islamist factions, during which there will be clashes between religious and secular forces arguing about who should cast the first stone. The army will then come in with tanks to sort it all out, and by the end of next week it is perfectly possible that the Egyptian population will be down by around one thousand souls. Full-scale civil war may be no more than a month away. Perhaps the Western media will call it The Arab Premiership.
And my point? It is this:
Can anyone imagine a riot at an Israeli soccer game in which 70 die, and an Israeli court then whacks a further 21 with the death sentence?
No, neither can I – and the reason is simple: the Israelis would never behave, either in sport or judicially, in such a manner. Jews are not, on the whole, unruly – and they don’t kill each other about anything very much, least of all football.
I have friends whom – I know perfectly well, and why – would disagree with me violently about the politics of the Middle East. But the fact of the matter is, the politics of the Middle East are insoluble – and none of the combatants either Jew or Arab are to blame. The post World War One European powers in general are to blame, with particular excrement deservedly to be dumped onto the heads of the clowns in the British FCO for their role in the Sykes-Picquot accord of 1926.
My chief concern here is with Realpolitik. Would I rather rely upon an Egyptian Arab or an Israeli Jew to take a reasoned position on how and why to be my friend – and a loyal ally? I would without hesitation plump for the latter. Notwithstanding my support for the Palestinian case, I have my reasons for the Jewish preference, the foregoing explains why, and nothing is ever going to shake me from them without the use of fingernail extraction torture and so forth.
The Slog has long been following the inexorable rise and rise of Benito Johnsonini. As early as 2008, I pinpointed him as the most dangerous politician in Britain alongside Harriet Harmblokes. Some months back, The Slog was one of the first out of the blocks to spot the start of his leadership campaign. Well, things are hotting up.
Bojo trolled over to Davos today and told an audience including Cameron and Osborne that what Britain needs is hope and infrastructural spending, not austerity and flatlining growth. Mr Johnson, of course, doesn’t know WTF he’s talking about (worryingly, neither do the other two) but such considerations have always been peripheral to the board game that is politics in the media age. The London Mayor now has the scent of power in his predictably flaring nostrils, and has become The King over the River.
For me, one of the most disturbing developments of the last eighteen months – accelerated by the Olympics – has been the emergence of Boris Johnson as a credible saviour of Britain. Among the tabloid-scanning knuckle-draggers of Essex and Daily Mailers of Surrey, the blonde Turk is these days described as A Good Bloke, A Straight Talker, A Chap with Balls, and The One Man Who can Get Us Out of All This. He is none of these things, but with the tacit support of unelected Murdoch and the overt influence of unelected twin Barclay Sarkopaths, the Johnson ticket will continue to be pushed. As things get worse in the coming year, his candidature will begin to seem increasingly valid among the numpties of our septic isles.
Always beware the politician with a plan containing several points. At Davos today, Johnson set out a seven-point plan to get Britain back on track. Always beware the politician using military syntax. Austerity, BoJo told his audience, was “not the stuff to give the troops”.
You have been warned. You will be again.
Last but not least, Greece. I refrain on the whole from recycling individual tragedy stories about Greece, if only because once you start, there are so many, The Slog would become The Sorrow Avalanche in short order. But they’re real enough, and as usual involve the vulnerable about whom the mad folks care nothing: babies, old people, the otherwise infirm, and the mentally ill. (Sometimes, of course, they are myths hijacked by the Far Right and Far Left as a cross with which to assault foreigners of every hue…but not often).
However, I present to you tonight – courtesy of the usual trustworthy sources – a truly sick construct inside the unfortunate Hellenic Republic. The European Stability Mechanism is due to to hold a teleconference on Monday to confirm the disbursement of Greece’s January bailout tranche, worth €9.2 billion. Of this, €7.2 billion will go to help banks that are, for all real purposes, already dead. Very little of the residue will relieve the plight of the Greek people. Tax evasion en masse by the Greek élite, the abject poverty of everyone else, and the slaughtered economy will act together – and mean that the treasury income is bound to be miles below target. The ESM leaders’ sole reaction to this uncomfortable reality has been to confirm that further cuts to pensions and wages will therefore be essential.
The only phrase applicable to this thinking is ‘mad, bad and dangerous’. It is nothing less than “Get up now, one-legged horse, or I shall be forced to disembowel you”. It is the exact same madness that produced Auschwitz, Soweto, Zimbabawe, Haut Garenne, Ceausescu’s orphans, and Lidice: the cul de sac at the end of a long road leading directly back to the First Big Lie.
Perhaps at some point in the future, there will be a legal specialism called Currency War Crimes. Or perhaps Warozone Crimes. It would be nice to think so….but much nicer to imagine an educational discipline devoted to avoiding any repeat, ever. Maybe we could call that Neoconomics.