Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Ukraine - unintended consequences

As the smoke starts to clear around the downing of MH17, the fall-out could have effects unwanted and unforeseen by the key political actors. It now seems likely that the aircraft was shot down by drunken, undisciplined separatists using a missile provided by Russian intelligence. It also seems likely - as Richard North explains in detail, and as we suggested on Saturday 19th - that not only the US but the Ukrainian authorities knew beforehand that the separatists had long-range Doppler-shift SAMs. It also seems likely that the intelligence services of nations inside the 'magic circle' warned their national civil aviation authorities of the threat, who in turn warned national carriers. BA, Easyjet, Qantas and several other 'old commonwealth' carriers had already diverted.

Why Ukraine, or the US, did not explicitly issue warnings via ICAO or IATA is subject to speculation. The US would have wanted to protect the extent of its intelligence, Ukraine would have wanted to preserve the desperately needed millions from overflight fees. Both maintained the public fiction that the only threat was from MANPADS, ineffective at higher altitudes. It's even possible that there may have been those in Ukraine who considered such an event as MH17 as politically advantageous, or that the US found the commercial air corridor a useful cover for its own intelligence-gathering overflights. This will all come out in the wash over the next ten years or so.  

It's the reactions to the incident that may cause changes unwelcome to the key actors;
  • Russia will quietly disown the separatist militias and weapons and munitions supply will end. Their behaviour and lack of disciplined control around the crash site has condemned them.
  • Sanctions will hit Eurozone industry hard, as Der Spiegel reports. Asia and Australasia will benefit. 
  • Eurozone banks, already weak as eggshells, may fall - many are massively exposed to Russian loans, which may default and cause crashes, making Hypo Alpine Adria look like an overdraft breach.
  • Western governments need to leave a door open for Putin - and this is likely to be pressure for a settlement involving limited autonomy for parts of Eastern Ukraine and the protection of the Russian language there. Cameron included the option in his speech, as Angus Roxburgh reports in the Guardian
  • Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the chap who looks like a Jewish paedophile, acting as Ukraine PM, who is bitterly opposed to preserving Russian identity and together with his negative TV image is likely to be the replaceable element, dumped by the Oligarchs.
  • With Autumn on the way, Putin will cut-off the gas to Ukraine to secure concessions for the Russian minority, and the EU will decline to make up the difference.
There are still more developments to come - with the MSM again lagging behind the informal sector in putting it all together.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Labour's gobby Berger gets slapping

Labour's truly revolting Luciana 'Lucretia' Berger. surely one of the most pointless of the non-entity apparatchiks stuffed on the Labour benches, has earned a well-deserved slapping after getting over-gobby about Dave Babe Priti Patel.

She really does prove one thing - that women can be as great dick-heads as can men.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Salmond's Whisky, tartan trews and 'adult' TV spree

Like a lighthouse keeper in a brothel, Alec Salmond has been unable to restrain himself. facts have emerged about his splurging tens of thousands of tax funds on luxury hotels, fripperies and 'subsistence' (nudge, nudge) including charging a pair of tartan trews at £250 to the taxpayer. None of this will be surprising; there are few politicians who can resist stealing from the public pot when in power - the heady combination of narcissism and public office convinces many of them that they are no longer liable to normal rules. Salmond's truly vulgar tastes - lots of gilt and marble baths - extend to just about every kitsch overblown international hotel at which he could find an excuse to stay. But apart from laughing at the audacity, pretentiousness and sheer vulgar greed of the wee man, the story has a deadly serious side. 

Salmond, like Gorbals Mick, is not a Scotsman who wants his fellow countrymen to know how deeply he has thrust his snout into the trough; he managed to hold off FOI enquiries on the basis that telling the public how much of their taxes he had stolen would 'compromise his security'. Damn right it will - possibly right to the doors of Barlinnie Jail. In this he has secured the support of his top placemen at Police Scotland - the national police force he set up. And this is exactly the sort of centralised police corruption we warned so strongly against when Salmond abolished the local and accountable constabularies. That its failure should come so soon and in an attempt to hide the wee man's own corruption is telling. Or perhaps the police bosses have something to hide themselves?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

MH17 - Hard questions for the US to answer

We have become used over the past few months to a constant stream of intelligence from US satellite and airborne surveillance, channelled through the Ukrainian authority. It has effectively monitored the size, composition and formation of Russian units on the border, has spotted the movement of just three tanks across the border from Russia to Ukraine and has provided Ukrainian units with detailed intelligence on the armour and other fixed defences of the rebels. It is quite inconceivable that the US did not know of the presence of a SAM 11 (BUK) air defence system deep in rebel territory - and particularly so if its target-acquisition radar had been active. 

They question they must answer is who did they tell. No airline in the world would continue to route flights over an area if it had been warned explicitly of the risk of a live SAM 11 system in unstable hands. So just who did the US tell? 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Dutchbat

The people of the Netherlands are more than capable of making sure the right thing is done over the behaviour of the Dutch battalion in Srebrenica in 1995. Their 2002 report on the disgrace has already caused the resignation of one PM, Wim Kok. And I'm going to resist scoring any cheap xenophobic points, for we are by no means immune from their behaviour.

No. What comes to mind is a line from the 1992 film 'A Few Good Men';
Downey: What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong!
Dawson: Yeah we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn't fight for themselves.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Cameron gambles that his tent will stay dry until 2015

By putting Michael Gove and Owen Paterson, both men who would make a better fist at running the Party than Dave, firmly outside the tent he risks being wetted by a dual stream. But with the election so close, and the loyalty of both men to the party, he can be pretty sure that his tent will stay dry until 2015.

After that, if he loses the election he's toast anyway and if he wins it he won't care. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Shameless hacks #34

Great newspapers such as the Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Merton Chronicle are usually pretty good at spotting a hack trying to slip in a bit of personal on the back of the paper's mass readership. Jane Caro, writing in the Guardian, tells us herself that "Marketers and advertisers – persuasion professionals, if you like (and I was one for more than 30 years) are paid to get their client’s products and services noticed" and then goes on to write "A great deal of thought, time, effort and money goes into developing and honing those brands. Some of which become priceless – think Qantas (even today), Apple, Coke, Disney, Virgin or Penfolds Grange."

More Methodists and Vegetarians for Cabinet posts

In an effort to make the cabinet more representative of the British population, Prime Minister David Cameron is to promote at least two vegetarians and a Methodist into Cabinet posts to replace the omnivores and CofE Cabinet ministers who have just been sacked. The Cabinet already has sufficient atheists, left-handers and people with red hair. Homosexuals, dyslexics and people who don't like fish are also already sufficiently well represented. 

Amongst the vegetarians tipped for Cabinet places are Fiona Strewth-Jumper, MP for Surrey Central and Hugo Dimn, member for Old Middlesex. Ms Strewth-Jumper (Roedean and St Hildas) studied cordon-bleu cookery in Switzerland at private school before becoming an MP, and Mr Dimn, whose family farm five thousand acres in the Home Counties, reached the rank of first lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards before entering Parliament, and has seen duty guarding the Tower of London at night. He is tipped as the new Foreign Secretary.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said "Mr Cameron is determined to make the Cabinet more inclusive and representative of a diverse Britain, with members drawn not just from Eton but from all the major public schools."