Democracy – but beautiful

February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s my editorial for Presseurop on the Irish elections, Arab revolutions, and more…

An angry Ireland votes today, and will doubtlessly elect as its next Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Fine Gael, a centre right party, to replace Fianna Fail, another centre right party, widely blamed for the country’s economic crash. Mr Kenny, like most of Ireland’s political leaders, intends to pursue more or less the same policies espoused by his predecessor: more austerity budgets, abiding by the terms of the EU/IMF bailout and providing more billions of public money for Ireland’s failed banks. As columnist Fintan O’Toole observed: “It will mean that all the rage and disgust, all the cursing and fist-shaking, will have amounted to nothing very much.”

As the Irish resignedly exercise their democratic right, they are also watching the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, where hundreds are dying for basic freedoms. Many riveted to Al Jazeera or BBC as events thrillingly and frighteningly unfold must feel moved and also inspired, because they, like most of us, must instinctively grasp what a noble thing democracy is. Correspondingly, their hearts must also sink at the idea that at some point, after all this sacrifice and blood spilled, that the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya will have to choose between local variants of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, bickering about which taxes to tweak, public services to cut, and how to get a better interest rate for EU/IMF reimbursements. Read full article at


Europhrenia – Atom bombs, easy peasy

April 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I was a guest on France 24’s The World This Week last Friday – here are links for parts one and two. For me one of the many interesting aspects of the debate was our discussion around the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington 12-13 April. Obviously at, we are not privy to high level security information like the US prez, but nevertheless his declarations on nuke security still have me puzzled one week on. “Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history,” said President Obama. “The risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.” Oh yes, but from where? The Independent relays a statement by a “senior White House anti-terror aide” insisting on evidence “that acquiring rogue nuclear materials to mount attacks on a fearful scale was a prime goal of al-Qaeda.”

But what attacks have Al Qaeda been mounting in the West since 9/11? Aside from the Madrid and London bombings, we’ve had Richard Reid who couldn’t blow up his shoe, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who couldn’t blow up his pants. We’ve had the attack on Glasgow airport where the attacker, having rammed his car into concrete bollards, leaped out and set himself on fire (that’ll show you). In fact, the only impact most of these bozos have made is completely idiotic security measures in airports taken by our own governments afterwards.

The Al-Qaeda brand is so diffuse that anyone with a deathwish can sign on without passing a maths test. Aside from the fact that these “terrorists” are/were home-grown, i.e. mainly European, I’m just curious to know how from producing home-made bog-standard devices (and when you think of it, ramming planes into buildings is hardly new either) these mainly none too bright lights can, according to President Obama, move on to producing atom bombs. Even the production of nuclear energy is beyond many a state’s grasp, so how will some future martyr from Bromley or St Etienne have the financial resources, the logistics, and the scientific brain to blow us all up? Or perhaps I’m missing something?

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