Monday, January 02, 2006

Hindsight and Blindsight

AlterNet: Excerpt: Feet to the Fire

So the party's over and we get back slowly to serious news analysis. This link leads to an interesting journalistic take on the falsehoods perpetrated as a prelude to the Amerikan war on Iraq. Most notable is, whatever else you might say about Saddam Hussein, he presided over a secular government and was just as worried about Bin Laden and other religious extremeists as anyone else.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. "In retrospect, we might have ..." - the perfect excuse to those unwilling to offer any real apology for their errors. This is the time when the media fill their pages and airwaves with retrospectives. For the most part this is simply the recent news repackaged and condensed in chronological order as seasonal fodder for those with short attention spans. In some cases however, serious journalists are able to use the hindsight analogy to give us an overview of events without the immediate political bias with which they were presented at the time. I would dearly like to see the likes of Blair and Bush forced to present such a summary to their nations themselves - I suspect they'd be tripping over themselves so fast that they would be reduced to measuring their time left in office to mere hours.

Here in Britain we have something called the "30 year rule" under which classified documents are finally released to the history books. As I've said before, one of the more fascinating advantages of reaching a certain age is that one finally finds out the truth about events that have occurred during one's own lifetime. There are sad exceptions - anything too sensitive can be witheld for an additional 20 years or even until after the death of persons concerned. In the case of misadventures involving the Royal Family, the entire rule is extended to 100 years. Nonetheless, we do obtain a glimmer of the real history we've lived. Strangely there hasn't been much of intruige revealed yet this this time round, but I'm about to go searching just in case. Watch this space.

It will be another seven or eight years before this rule reveals more facts about Britain's 1980's war in the Falklands - especially the suggestions that the whole sequence of events were engineered by the Thatcher government to justify fortification of the supply routes to our oil and mineral resources in Antarctica. However, given that we are now immersed in a worldwide economic war for energy reserves, one has to wonder if certain rumours have real basis in fact. Yesterday we heard that Russia cut off gas supply to a customer that refused to pay the same price as other customers. In a world where commerce dictates everything, it is hard to see what the fuss is about. The detail is in the contract. Russia needs to pay a decent rent for the land under which its pipelines run, but the real message is they are no longer handing out favours to those who have left the fold. The danger is that the move will send signals that unduly affect the forthcoming democratic elections in the Ukraine.

The whole affair seems to be making Russia's other European customers nervous. Given that they are paying the full market price for the gas, there hardly seems to be any real cause for panic. So long as they pay the bills required by the same consumer-driven economy they themselves promote, there should be no threat. The paranoia comes from addiction to the product - it may not be opium, but oil and gas dependency makes the so-called "civilised" world behave like any other junkie. There's a problem with that - upset the dealer and your life becomes a very cold turkey indeed. When and if Iraq gets its own act together again, this could be a lesson that comes back to haunt us. The supplier doesn't usually respond well to blackmail.

A closing note. Yesterday I posted this link about Britain's planned energy cuts in the "Latest Clicks" section. It was published before the Ukraine business happened. As Europe reacts to Russia's move with similar restrictions, one wonders if the whole affair is being hyped up and over-played simply to hide cuts that were on the agenda anyway.


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