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Showing posts from January, 2014

Sense of Humour failure in Scotland

The debate on Scottish independence grinds inexorably on.  It is growing ever more poisonous and unpleasant- an army of cybernat trolls will jump upon anyone who dares to criticize the Yes campaign to even the slightest degree. It is obnoxious and nasty- and stupid. The fact is that Salmond, our prospective "father of the nation" still has a lot of work to do before he can put forward a credible plan for separation. Although at times he strives to suggest that independence is not that big a step, it is damn difficult to judge when he can not answer some critical questions. He has tried to avoid giving details about specifics, and yet the very nub of the question lies in the details that he refuses to give. Having once said that Scotland would adopt the Euro-  a difficult enough prospect for an economy which would be majority state controlled- he now says that Scotland could keep the Pound. Yet in order to do so, Scotland must sacrifice sovereignty to the very government t

A new way for Estonia

An article I have written for Estonia's largest national daily: Estonia is gaining a name for being an open and innovative country. In the 1920s, the country adopted an open ultra-democratic Parliamentary constitution, and in the 1990’s it followed an open ultra-free market economic policy.  Perhaps these maximalist positions reflect the individualist character of Estonians. Yet since independence was restored, the economic policies of the 1990s have proven far more enduring than the political policies of the 1920s. The rapid reforms initiated in the early 1990s have helped to create an era of growth and general prosperity. The country measured itself against external yardsticks: joining NATO and the European Union, joining the Euro, joining the OECD.  Renewed Estonia has achieved membership of every club that it very well can join- it has become top of the class, lauded for economic freedom and technological innovation.   Yet even as Estonia has grown up into a genera

Two dead in K'yev... when will sanctions be imposed?

Reports from K'yev overnight suggest that at least one, and probably two people were killed when the police moved in against the protesters. As I feared, the criminal regime of Yanukovych will stop at nothing to maintain its grip on power, and the strangulation of Ukrainian democracy is now inevitable. Carl Bildt has suggested that sanctions be imposed against the criminals responsible. It seems like the minimum that we should do. Ukraine should not be left at the mercy of Putinist murderers. 

Ukraine still matters and is getting very serious

Although the world seems to have accepted the subordination of Ukraine to Putinist Russia, the Ukrainians themselves clearly have not. Protest continues against the illegitimate regime of the utterly discredited "President" Yanukovych. Although the government has lost all legitimacy, it continues to press ahead with a deliberate subversion of the right to assembly and democratic free speech. If ever there was any doubt as to Yanukovych's credentials, there is none now: his hostile intentions are clear. The fact that Russia continues to steer and intervene while condemning any other outside involvement suggests that they believe that the situation remains volatile. It is volatile, and there are increasing fears of a massacre. The violence initiated by the security forces has accelerated and there is the very real fear of the end of any democratic future for this strategically critical country. A real disaster could be in the making, and the West needs to explicitly c

Power, Principles and Execution

Sometimes we hear the facile argument that principles are nothing without power. It is the justification for most political expediency and it leads directly to political transvestism and the hollow morality of Tony Blair. Yet there is another aspect of politics which is less obvious- that is less obvious to politicians. There is the question of- once having achieved power- how principles might be put into action. Famously, Blair himself suggested that he was just about competent at the political process by the time that he was leaving office. There are just so many obstacles, not least the obstruction of civil servants and other entrenched interests. The execution of government policy is the yardstick of success, yet few politicians at the outset of their time in office are prepared to handle the problems that come with power.  The fact is that the current generation of political leaders are even less prepared than their predecessors. The likes of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, with es

The Empire strikes back

Vladimir Putin is a product of the most ruthless elements of the Soviet era. The KGB and its predecessors took human torment to new levels of barbarity in the name of the relentless will of Marxism. Now VVP- as he is known in most of Russia- chooses to operate these same ruthless dictates in the name of a Conservative, Orthodox world view. Yet, in reality both Marxism and Conservative Orthodoxy are both ideas that do not accept challenge, let alone compromise. In the Russian world view, the Slavophile tradition that has always rejected the freedoms of Western Liberalism and which has been reborn under Putin, has much in common with the anti-Western agenda of Communism. We should not be surprised. As a student of Marxism-Leninism and as a loyal officer of the KGB, Putin has been well schooled in two other traditions: conspiracy and deception. From the earliest days of his rise to power, one can detect elements of both. There are many unexplained episodes and considerable evidence that