We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The murder of journalist James Foley: a spectacular ‘own goal’

This is my take on the intended semiotics of the video showing the beheading of journalist James Foley, by a jihadi with a British accent:

If you continue to mess with us, we will kill your people. See what I just did? And do you hear my voice? We have people who can strike at you in your homeland.

This is my take on the perceived semiotics in the west:

I do not get the Middle East. Shi’ite, Sunnis, Wahhabis, Kurds, Yazidis, who the hell are all these people any way? I don’t understand why they kill each other. But this guy was just a journalist. Who the fuck cuts the heads of journalists? Yes we are war weary but suddenly all I want is to see those jihadi mother-fuckers dead! Those Kurdish guys, the Pesh-something-or-other, they seem like the only non-arseholes in the region and they hate the jihadis, so give them a fuck load of weapons, and give them air support and bomb the FUCK out of those crazy Islamic State lunatics!

The Islamic State just made it a trivial domestic political task for anyone who wants to support their enemies against them.

Hamas fires rockets at Israel and then tries to get the IDF to kill some journalists in Gaza to win sympathy. The ‘Islamic State’ murders a journalist themselves by cutting his head off.

I guess the ‘Islamic State’ cannot afford the same a PR advice that Hamas gets :-D

Discussion point: Belgian vs Burka

‘Drunk’ Belgium diplomat specialising in protocol is arrested for tearing full-face veil off a Qatari princess

A senior Belgium [sic] diplomat specialising in protocol [!] has been arrested for tearing off the full-face veil of a Qatari princess after she asked him for directions.

In the latest example of the difficulties involved in imposing a so-called ‘burka ban’, Jean-Marie Pire did not know the identity of the massively wealthy VIP before attacking her.

She approached him with two other women in broad daylight in central Brussels last week, asking for directions to the famous Grand Place.

The kind of full face veils favoured by some Muslim women are banned in Belgium, just as they are in neighbouring countries including France.

‘I said I don’t talk to anyone if I can’t see their face,’ said Mr Pire. ‘With this reply, I wanted to make it clear that the veil is banned in Belgium.

‘Because the person asking me a question didn’t seem to hear me, I lifted her veil. I know I shouldn’t have done that, but what she did wasn’t legal either!’

The woman, who has not been named, said she suffered cuts and bruises after her earrings were violently dislodged, along with her veil.

I assume that any woman wearing the full Islamic garb is either a slave or a fanatic, but it was the diplomat “specialising in protocol” in the tradition of Kira Yoshinaka who first used force. She just asked him for directions. Admittedly, she was breaking the Belgian law against full face veils, but it is an unjust law of which she may not even have been aware. And somehow I don’t think all the British people cheering his vigilante enforcement of that law would be quite so keen on a random Belgian taking it upon themselves to impound some unfortunate British tourist’s car if he were to break, through ignorance or indifference, the Belgian law requiring a red warning triangle and a reflective waistcoat to be carried in a vehicle at all times.

Another top quality report from the Middle East

This excellent report from what used to be Iraq and Syria highlights the very strange bedfellows that conflict in the Middle East can produce:

It is great to see reportage like this as watching CNN or the BBC is often like watching a weird Disney version of reality. Highly recommended.

Samizdata quote of the day

The Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq decries the abduction of women for a life of rape and servitude under the black banner of the Islamic State, doomed to supply jihad al-nikah, or “sex for the pursuit of struggle,” but the organized feminists, so eager to complain of abuse, such as having to pay for their own birth control, are strangely silent.

- from a Washington Times editorial.

This would make a hell of a movie!

My reaction upon reading this story was “wow, this would make a hell of a movie!”

When Mohammed Abu Ali went to bed on August 8, he was living in Makhmour, a Kurdish-populated town near the border of Iraqi Kurdistan. When he woke up the next day, he was in Makhmour, an abandoned town under the control of the Islamic State

Time to stay calm and think very carefully before saying anything!

Excellent series on the Islamic State

I recommend the five part video series on the Islamic State over on VICE News. Very factual with a minimum of ‘interpretation’. VICE News is often a haven of fluorescent idiocy and tedious Guardian-speak, but in this case it has been a while since I have seen such good old fashioned journalism relating to the Middle East.

UPDATE: they have posted the series in one full length video, so I have adjusted the link accordingly. Highly recommended.

On the continued disasters in the Middle East

“It is striking, however, that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. You have the vacuum that has been created by the relentless assault by Assad on his own population, an assault that has bred these extremist groups, the most well-known of which, ISIS—or ISIL—is now literally expanding its territory inside Syria and inside Iraq. You have Russia massing battalions — Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair. You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there’s something else at work here than what you see on TV… And what you see on TV is so effectively stage-managed by Hamas, and always has been. What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel. …”

These comments are from a very senior US politician with close connections to a recent occupant of the White House. There are pretty close to my own thinking on all this. Which, assuming the quotes are accurate, is quite perplexing. I do, however, wonder how sincere the author of these words is about all this. Can you guess who I am talking about?

Is it not heartwarming to see democratic institutions flourishing?

Ok, so a third of the country has been over run by blood thirsty Sunni Einsatzgruppen, but you know what? The Really Important Thing is not getting the national shit together, it is holding onto personal power in Baghdad! Forming pragmatic coalitions in wartime is for sissies!

Thank goodness for all those years of democratic nation building!

Quelle surprise!

As I expected, the usual suspects are happy to take to the streets of western cities to protest against Israel and the USA, ostensibly for killing or being a party to killing people, but I have yet to see large scale demos in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Dublin on behalf of the Yazidis and Chaldean Christians being murdered by Islamists.

I look forward to this changing but I will not be holding my breath in the meantime.

Obama gets it right

I expect many afflicted with Obama Derangement Syndrome will be dismayed to see Obama praised for anything, but the actions in Iraq seem to be pretty much correct, at least so far.

My views on Iraq (and Afghanistan) are well know and can be summarised thus: it was right to go in and topple the governments, whereupon the US (and its allies should have) should have declared victory and got the hell out many many years ago, saying only “now that you have seen what will happen to any government who annoys us enough, keep that in mind when you sort it out amongst yourselves who will be your subsequent rulers. Our armies have gone home now but we own your sky any time we wish to, so you need to realise we will not tolerate any jihadi lunatics running the country.” No futile democratic nation building.

So Obama is right to not put any substantive forces on the ground beyond the barest advisers who are there now (and perhaps some forward air controllers). And he is right to strike this most deranged lunatic strain of jihadis yet seen from the air. If I have any criticism, it is that as the IS nutters are currently exposed targets out in the open, having transitioned from guerilla war to out-in-the-open war, the intensity of strikes should be increased rapidly whilst the opportunity presents itself. Kill as many of these islamo-fascist barbarians as possible as quickly as possible.

Just as Kabul was actually taken by the Northern Alliance with US air support, so too can people like the Peshmerga do the ground work with US assistance from the air.

But so far at least, well done Obama. That is the first time I have ever said that particular combination of words.

How is one to know which horrors outrank which?

The rage metre has been in the red for a while now, with Baroness Warsi, a Muslim in case you did not know (or Baroness Token as she is known in some parts), quitting over the UK’s policies towards Israel (yes it is said the UK actually has a policy on the subject). Strangely she did not quit the government in protest over UK support of Pakistan, at a time when several hundred thousand people have been displaced by strikes against the Taliban in Waziristan. Go figure! I wonder why? Actually, no I don’t.

So what will be the reactions and suggestions from within the BBC/Guardian Bubble to the rapidly building catastrophe in Iraq amongst the Yazidi and Christian communities, I wonder? I realise these communities are being ethnically cleansed (i.e. murdered and dispossessed) but as it is not being done by Jews or Westerners, does it really matter? Indeed can it even be said to be truly happening? It will be interesting to see and contrast I think, in a nightmarish kind of way.

My question is… why were these communities not armed to the teeth?

Thousands of Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority’s biggest town in Iraq. The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh in Nineveh province overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces. An international Christian organisation said at least a quarter of Iraq’s Christians were leaving Qaraqosh and other surrounding towns.

So my question is why were rifles and RPGs and a few truckloads of ammunition not deposited in these communities weeks ago? The Yazidi and Christian communities should have been armed to the teeth by now. If 100,000 people from the region have been displaced, at least 10,000 of them should be viable militia, no? Why leave such things to various state armies?