Archive for October, 2012

Christopher Lee

October 30, 2012

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So it rained in Manhattan – Tell that to the people of Bangladesh

30th October 2012

When the storm blew like big storms blow, no one quite knew how many wouldn’t make it. The wind spiraled like a banshee seeking death wishes and the tidal wave hit four meters above the sea and river bank. Come the morning maybe 100, maybe more than 100 were dead. Some 600,000 were homeless and ruined.

 

Sound familiar? No not Sandy whiffling through continental USA Eastern Seaboard. Just another day, another hopelessness that no one cares too much about in Bangladesh.

 

But hold on a moment we hear you cry, hold on. These guys in Bangladesh are used to this sort of thing and anyway, that’s the cut of the cards.  You’re born in Bangladesh, life craps on you once in a while. I mean, who in hell knows the name of the President or whatever they have in that place who gets on the news stations and appeals for help.  Our man is leader of the world and when he says stay calm, stay cool, stay American, then we know that’s leadership.

 

And when these news networks give Sandy the treatment we could have anticipated if the Triffids had really come to town, then that’s big production stuff.  The world famous crisis cover network, the British Broadcasting Corporation desperate to find a story that doesn’t include some dead sexual freak with a cigar and groping fingers blows in to Manhattan with prime time presenters in As-I-Stand-Here suits and interviews with the brave people of the shore district, then you know you have a real story. 

 

And when the camera keeps cutting away to a traffic light swinging this way and that in the gale telling us that for now folks, you can hang a right or hang a left or do what ever you damn well please because you ain’t going far for the next couple of day anyway.

 

And when a political pointy head goes on and on about the chances of Obama getting back to the White House because he’s a natural man in charge of the wind and the rain, you know it’s just damned right to hold the front pages and feature grim faces that can’t make the subway work for a couple of days.

 

Now we’re truly sorry about the 30 or so people who died in the New York weather thing.

 

We’re also sorry about the 100 or so who died in the Bangladesh weather thing. 

 

We’re sorry that La Guardia airport is closed for a couple of days and that the clean-up will take weeks and they’ll have to plant new trees in Brooklyn and maybe the insurance companies will struggle to fix premiums for next time..

 

We’re also sorry that when you’re poor and hungry, losing your home or crops to floods can mean the beginning of the end and that people affected by natural disasters have no insurance policy and no savings to fall back on and that they sink deeper into poverty.

 

We’re also sorry that the news channels had to devout hours and hours of screen time and millions of dollars to covering a not-many-dead weather story from the world’s richest country.

 

We’re also sorry that the make-up artists, the auto-cuties and the item producers couldn’t find time to cover a many-dead weather story in the world’s poorest country.

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Christopher Lee

October 29, 2012

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Ms Gillard wants to reposition Australia – time then to bail another cow?

29th October 2012

The prime minister here, Julia Gillard, announced this week that she wanted Australia to reposition itself  away from what she calls “old countries” and cuddle up to China and India.
 
How to succeed in this cuddling up is not clear, certainly not in a 312 paper she was promoting at the Lowy Insititute here, Australia in the Asian Century.
 
Given Australia’s history as a geo-economic udder of Asia, Ms Gillard’s statement seems a statement of the obvious.  But that has never stopped an Australian from saying nothing.
 
 My great-grandfather’s brother was one of the lot that was sent out to govern New South Wales – not by himself, but as on the staff of someone who did.  He wrote home to his future wife that she would like the Australians because they spoke their minds.  That was more than a century ago.
 
Since that time, no Australian is remembered for having had the mind to say anything of any importance although continuing the torturous (and tortured) geo-economic udder sign language, I think the prize would have gone to Prime Minister Pig Iron Bob Menzies and his: “It’s no good crying over spilt milk; all we can do is bail up another cow.”
 
In other words it most certainly is how you say it rather than what you say as all the misguided Oscar Wilde fans will never understand.  
 
Ms Gillard does not readily slip into or onto the Wildean banana-skin but she certainly has  made the obvious sound better 97th time around.  
 
The obvious is that Australian is already doing Asia in a big way. China is Australia’s top trading partner, ahead of Japan, the US and South Korea.  But this is hardly a new-found affair.  The Chinese started arriving in Australia in the 18th century as crew members of the earliest immigrant ships and then with the mid-nineteenth century gold rush – they called it The New Gold Mountain – they were arriving here in their thousands as migrant workers.
 
By the 1860s, just under 4 percent of Australia’s population was Chinese.  The gee-whiz number is that today, the percentage is about the same, 4 percent.  The difference is the big numbers.
 
That 4 percent comes to nearly 900,000 of Australians who are Chinese or see themselves of Chinese descent and that comes to some 40 percent of the Asian population.
 
So what is it that Ms Gillard’s Australia wants to do differently?
 
 
She says  “The scale and pace of Asia’s rise is staggering, and there are significant opportunities and challenges for all Australians … our future will be determined by the choices we make and how we engage with the region we live in.”  Hardly anything staggering about that.
 
General Bill Slim was saying the same thing in the early 1950s as the 13th governor-general of Australia.  He had made his military name in wartime Asia and understood perfectly that Australia had to look to the lands across which they had recently fought.
 
So where does Gillard start to make a difference?  She wants Asian Studies a core subject in school and raising school and uni standards in Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese and maybe Indonesian as mainstream languages.  That’s hardly an ambition too far therefore it must be the bit about repositioning away from the “old countries”. You would think as prime minister she would be better informed.
 
The people who do money in a big way do not need advice on re-positioning. Venturers go where the money is. They tie deals to percentages not to idealism about ducking the past and scanning new horizons.
 
We might remember that America is building a huge military base facility in Northern Australia to protect its commercial as well as strategic interests in the Pacific and the areas of interest and influence among Asian trading states.
 
Also, those very “old countries” that she’s implicitly knocking as not the best business houses to mix into are doing exactly what she is suggesting.  The European banks and venture capitalists that coffer them are already in China in a big way ready to take financial knocks and trouser much bigger gains than the fleetwind losses that zephyr by.
 
Ms Gillard should need no chunky tome to tell her how and when to re-position Australia’s economic ambitions.  
 
One word of warning to her: why does even President Obama say that America is building up its military bits in the Pacific? With the new markets come new instabilities. She did not mention that.
 
Let’s not however, ignore an important point in the First Lady’s favour: China is also repositioning itself as signified by the internal changes to the Politburo.  They are the very people who will be listening to Ms Gillard.  Maybe she has, after all, had the wit and wisdom thing. Maybe she was talking not to Australia, but to the fifty guys who will for the coming decade run China.
 
But they’d better be quick.  No one ever remembers for more than a day what an Australian PM says. But if it all goes a little wrong, then she always quote Bob Menzies and bail up another cow.  The Mandarin for that escapes me.

Christopher Lee

October 29, 2012

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Wrong candiates, Wrong election for Americans – 2016 is the year to watch

 

29 October 2012

President Obama said this week that America has to expand its global leadership idea and spread good US values – and if necessary send in the military to enforce those values. The Republican would-be president, Mitt Romney said the same thing. Make America stronger and fix the world whatever it takes – including lives.

That sounds about right for the traditional American view of what the world needs is soft power heavily enforced with firepower. So whoever comes out ahead on 6 November has it clearly set out for the voters and will presumably have a mandate: make America tough-guy of the world again and the economy will do well because the list of complying allies will increase and in will come the trade etc

There’s one election snag in this: there is no evidence that the American electorate believes this.  Moreover, there is serious polling evidence that the electorate don’t buy into this foreign policy philosophy.

The Pew Research Centre polls during the past four weeks detect that few Americans see the benefits of a global reach foreign policy. At first sight this is isolationist rising once more and, after the Iraq wars and the conflict in Afghanistan, this may not surprise.  However, there is an extension of this that shows a broader global understanding in America than is sometimes featured: Americans predictably say that world leadership has not done America much good; but they are also saying in the Pew research that they do not believe it has done anyone anywhere any good either.

 All this is more or less what America was saying after the 1914-1918 war into which President Wilson led them into a conflict without reason nor benefit and then refused to endorse his own plan for the League of Nations that was one consequence.

Andrew Kohut the Pew president agrees and goes further: “There’s dramatically more isolationist sentiment than there’s been for some time,” he says and adds that this was the mood after Vietnam and perhaps at the end of the Cold War two decades ago.

A further example of America’s electorate having  more than a superficial grasp of foreign affairs than imagined, is the poling that shows the majority of Americans don’t think that the so-called Arab Spring has done much for Arabs.  

This suggests that America should go along with moderate dictators (they would, ironically, include ex-Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in this group) and stop pretending that Washington or London can deliver their kind of democracy anywhere outside their own borders.

Noticeably, Romney agrees with Obama that it was right to get rid of America’s strongest and trusted ally, Mubarak.  The further contradiction is that both Republic and Democrat administrations for more than half a century have had a core foreign policy ambition that Israel should be protected at all costs. Hence the Mubarak irony; Egypt was part of the protection for Israel and had been since President Carter brought together Menachen Begin and Anwar Sadat in 1979.  

It is in this example that we see the economic-military-politico pull-together.  Protecting Israeli and the Middle East protects the vital interest of the US – oil.

But now, we have through the Pew Research Center this month, evidence that almost 70 per cent of the US electorate believe Washington should keep out of leadership changes in the Middle East. That same poll suggested  57 per cent believe the Middle East should be stable government if there were was not so much emphasis on democracy.
So more than half America’s electorate didn’t believe the ME uprisings would or even, could improve the lot of the people. The final number is important if the American President is to know his nation’s mood: only 13 per cent of Americans believe it is important to promote democracy. produce lasting improvements for their populations.

Behind some of this mood is the correct understanding that countries beefed up by American aid eventually despise the Americans.

So what’s the problem for the President?  It seems he has a mandate from his people to stay at home and fix the economy stupid. The problem Mr President is that the rest of the world in trouble believe that America is the lead nation in fixing whatever problems they have. Pew calls this the role of the “indispensable nation”. It’s one no President wants to over-exercise, not does he want to step aside from its onerous burden.

The consolation for the presidential hopefuls is that foreign policy does not decide the outcome of elections.

The debate in Florida last Monday was well timed.  The electorate has more or less made up its mind how it will vote. Therefore the foreign policy stuff was Okay for Florida.  It mattered not excepting that America’s mood on this subject has been illustrated more than before by Pew.

At the end of the day, it is the economy that decides where the crosses go.  The further difficulty is for Americans not so much the candidates.  All these poling figures show an American mood that doesn’t quite expect to be satisfied at the election.  In other words, neither Democrats nor Republicans have the candidates they want.  

For that reason alone it is better that Obama stays on and then the whole choosing process for both Parties will be better placed to begin the 2016 election with a clean sheet.

But no matter how the world goes between now and then – just think what an Iran obscured by a mushroom cloud could mean – the main issue will still be the economy and that, ain’t stupid. But, if the Pew mood is right, then which Party stays out of foreign problems, will find themselves off to a good start.

Thus November 2016 is the one to watch for.

Christopher Lee

October 24, 2012

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Toujours narcotique – just what the spin doctors & sponsors will be ordering soon

23rd October 2012

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has stripped wonder-pedal Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. The UCI says it has to go along with America’s US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) claim that it has sure-fire evidence that Armstrong was involved in ‘the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme’ in the history of sport.

It doesn’t stop there: the evidence against Armstrong runs into hundreds of pages and so everyone from his shoe sponsors to the guys who supply his wrap-around sunglasses is dumping him. The latest plug pulling comes from a Texas insurance company demanding the return of $7.5 million worth of bonuses.

But hold on. Some of the wise folk in the sporting world (otherwise known as above-board betting and numbers) are getting to think the problem’s not as big as the world of committees and moralising pretends it is.

Start with the reality: the Tour de France, along with other sports, is full of performance-enhancing druggies. The go-faster stuff is so common-place that many of the runners up (bikers-up?) can’t take Armstrong’s titles in case it’s shown that they too were doing the same thing. In fact we know some were doing just that and they’ve already been clocked.

It doesn’t stop with pedal-power. We all know and have examples of track and field athletes who have been kicked out of competitions because they’ve been on the gymnastic hard stuff. It’s been like it for years.

At one period in international athletics, it was assumed that Eastern bloc athletes were all taking something – and the assumption was often proved as close as dammit correct. Remember those muscle-bound women putting the shot as high as the moon as makes no difference?

So the determination to clean up sport from drug users got tougher, the science got better (although not perfect) and the punishments more draconian. should be that. The occasional failed test. The occasional bust. Sport gets clean. But what’s clean? Why shouldn’t athletes take PEDs – performance enhancing drugs?

Go talk to the promoters and sponsors. Publicly, they would not want to be associated with any form of drugs and quite rightly – the stain on reps would be catastrophic.

But we are not talking Class A drugs. At the extreme edges of PEDs in certain sports which require enhanced muscles or stamina, then the results can be damaging to athletes and therefore terrifying to youngsters who would follow a role model.

But what if the secret additives were legalized and controlled? Maybe that’s when sponsors catch on. Why would that be? Because, records have to be broken to make sponsorship worthwhile in the future.

Times, speeds, heights etc. have to rise all the time no matter the personality of the athletes. If this doesn’t happen, then the sponsors will drift away or at the very least, lose interest.

The biggest PED is money for winners and the back-up organizations that run with them. But new extremes should be breached otherwise the spectatorship that sport needs is indifferent.

It is quite likely that the majority of the seven billion people in the world have never heard of Lance Armstrong. It is equally likely that of those who have and know his remarkable story, very few care if he’s on drugs or not.

Indeed, there is a fascination in the techniques of pumping in the stuff and even blood transfusing. But the real interest is the performance of professional athletes with superhuman bodies.

So we’ll not have to wait long before the backroom deals will let sponsors who want more of more every year will persuade sporting bodies to say that a new regime of tightly controlled use of minimum power PEDs is to be legitimized. Why not? Most countries are moving towards legalizing cannabis and more.

Give it a handful of years. Maybe as soon as the Olympics after next, and we will see legitimate PED taking.

Sponsors will be solemn. Drug companies will smile contentedly. Athletes will be superhuman and the spectators will delight in the eerie fascination of it all.

Too late for Lance Armstrong of course who in spite of the world-governing bodies is still seen by the public as the guy who won seven Tours. Cynically, most people don’t care about more than that.

Christopher Lee

October 16, 2012

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Five Thoughts For Today: Why the 50 Year-old Spectre Of The Cuba Missile Crisis  Hovers Over Iran

16 October 2012

Here’s the First Thought of Today: Fifty years ago this month, the thirteen day stand-off that became the Cuba Missile Crisis set the whole world’s nuclear teeth on edge. Russia was putting missiles into Cuba. America said take them out or else.  Or else meant the already airborne US Strategic Air Command B52 nuclear armed bombers would attack. John F Kennedy stared, Nikita Sergeyevich Khruschev blinked. The Americans now say that if the buttons had been pressed in October 1962, 200 million would have died.

Here’s the Second Thought: In the same year, President Kennedy’s  Secretary of Defense Robert  McNamara went along to give a speech at the American Bar Foundation.  Not many people remember ABF speeches.  The whole world remembered one phrase from that one – MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction.

His thesis was simple: America would have the biggest possible stockpile of nuclear weapons. So would the Soviet Union. So if one side attacked, the other would survive enough of the first wave of attack to immediately retaliate.  Thus both societies would be mutually destroyed.  With this indisputable understanding of mutually assured destruction, neither side would risk war.

Third Thought: For the next thirty years, until the fall of the Soviet Union, the world really believed that there was a high chance that nuclear war between the USSR and USA would happen one day.

Fourth Thought for Today: Nuclear weapons have not gone away and the new members of the nuclear club look like basket cases that would never even think about MAD. They’d simply go for it. Mushroom clouds galore.

By the 1980s, both sides could have destroyed the whole world.  Moscow and Washington twitched most days of the week. When the Americans ran their annual military command and control exercise, Able Archer, the Soviet Higher Command thought it could be for real.  In 1983, the Soviet Union’s EWS – Early Warning System – thought it had picked up an American missile attack. That was close to testing the worst aspects of the MAD thesis.

Today, the East West nuclear weapons systems may not have been run down or cold-stored – hundreds on both sides are still on Go status – but the perceived chance nuclear war sets in three areas: the Koreas, India-Pakistan and Iran with Israel and its commanders of its 100 or so nuclear warheads keeping a scary eye on that place.  Most of the quietly minded analysts in this high-risk weapons business will say that the real possibility is a confrontation between India and Pakistan and that the US and Russia could easily be dragged in.

To keep the scary stuff going, we get the headlines of terrorists getting hold of suitcase bombs.  Alarmist? Of course. But bookmakers will give you odds.

What has changed is the perception of fear.  Since 9/11 the world has been told to fear terrorism without anyone defining what the term means.  The fact that it takes two hours longer to get through airports is enough to convince most that the threat is real.  The second perception comes with the spread of so-called social media and instant reporting.  Every demo, uprising or worse gets posted.  The mass media of the personal phone is the new fear.  Why?  Because we believe what we think we see.

The greatest change in the perception of fear is the gradual realization that there are no Khruschev-Kennedy stare-outs to fix crises. The great military and economic powers can no longer fix the calamities of war and potential war without leaving a trail and residue of even worse calamity – Iraq is an example, Afghanistan will be.

So the next test will be Iran.  It is a self-made Cuba Crisis. Maybe sanctions can fix it. Maybe Israel thinks it has a better idea and that, if it happens, would drag in Russia and the United States. Fifty years after Cuba and Bob  McNamara, the spectre hangs over Tehran.  That, is the Fifth Thought For Today.

Christopher Lee

October 15, 2012

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The British & Europe – both on the take from the same trough

15 October 2012

The British Home Secretary – the UK’s Internal Minister – says Britain is to opt out of 130 European Union measures on law and order including the dubiously managed European Arrest Warrant.  Reason for this?  The British government does not like foreigners from Continental Europe.

It won’t say that of course but that’s about it and, don’t let us kid ourselves that the reasonable LibDems feel differently and that they like everyone. There is no evidence other than the coding in their election manifesto that they are pro-EU. No one, not even Johnny Foreigner believes those bits of Vote Me paper.

In Bullingdon terms, Europe gives you gyp. France is self-centred, self-seeking and because (as De Gaulle noticed) is ungovernable because it produces 263 different cheeses.

Germany? We all know about the Germans and it does not help that they run Europe because they are very successful. Successful? Of course. They’re bailing out the sun-dried tomato Euro nations. And just look how smart they were   to get out of the BAe-EADS deal that was nothing more than a scam to deliver shedloads of money to the directors who would push off very quickly.

The East European lot are freeloaders of course who read too many Hello mags while under the claw-hammer of Moscow and who thought richness was Western Europe, especially the UK and came to get their hands on it. On top of that they have taken over from the Australians as the best bar staff in London. The Catholic Church loves them because they’re filling the pews and alms plates.

There are the lovely Italians who are embarrassingly likable, especially now that Berlusconi isn’t there – for the moment.  Trouble is, the nice Italians present Whitehall  with problems because they may be coming for a handout.

The Dutch, the nice quiet on-our-side Dutch could not be anything else but liked.  Wait a moment. All the Dutch, including Her Majesty, ride bicycles and since the Chief Whip got into fearful trouble with the Downing Street cops for wanting to ride his bike in the Prime Minister’s street and Boris is as much famous for riding his bike as he is for being more popular than the PM, then we don’t like nations with bikes.

As for Brussels, let us be clear: We don’t like the EU  winning the Nobel Peace Prize because as Europeans we’ve been killing masses of Iraqis and Afghans whereas the continental Europeans have been keeping their heads down from eyeballing foreign pig-sticking and so we think we should have got it.

Then there’s the Euro MPs – including the British lot- who are unashamed freeloaders at a time when British MPs at Westminster have to watch their own freeloading.

And of course, there’s the language.  Unless our ministers were at public schools or have slept for some time (in wedlock of course) with foreigners (at least one) then British ministers, like the people they represent, don’t do languages.

So the British people in whose name Ms May will call in the 130 protocols and laws and bin them in the back garden of her Home Office will give wholehearted support the plan to get power back into Westminster.  Of course they will.  Even if the dates have slipped their mind, the British have never liked and have been deeply suspicious of, all continental Europeans since the they were kicked out of Europe at the end of the 100 years war – 1337-1453. No don’t do the arithmetic, it’ll only confuse matters but it will uncompromisingly prove (to the British) that everything to do with numbers is a big fiddle in the hands of Europeans.

The British may not bother to cheer in the streets over this return of power to the people because if you think about it for a nanosecond, they never had the power in the first place.

The United Kingdom remains the most law driven place in Europe (well, on the edge of it). It is the most sinisterly guarded peoples with more CCTV cameras per capita than the whole of the continent – including the Eastern European despotic joints.

Furthermore, the chances of being dealt fairly by the British law are pretty slim.  A well liked judge pointed this out recently when he observed that the court’s function is not to get to the truth but to decide which side, on balance, had presented a better case.

So maybe it would be better to ignore the new laws (and there will be new ones to replace the ones we are getting back) and simply to be courteously judicial with the ones we have and also to recognize that Europe’s function is not, as we think, to support our mean prejudices, but as they said in Oslo, to bring more peace that was possible among the scattered tribes of Europe.

But as the British generals et al demonstrated this week, that’s not the British way at all.  To have moral distinctions is to ignore the hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling to be trousered by using contacts and patronage to suit themselves.  In fact, such sordid and sorry actions of these supposedly distinguished top brass is little more than the images they sneer every time Euro scams are mentioned.

And that of course is the nub.  The British don’t like Europe because the British behave like every one else but don’t like to hear it. Understand that, and you get much closer to understanding why the British deep down don’t want the EU, but their version of it. If it comes, they’ll be the verify first to get their snouts into its money strewn trough.

Christopher Lee

October 8, 2012

Afghanistan On The Verge of Collapse. So what Are we Going To Do About It? Nothing!!

8th October 2012
We’ve been told today by the International Crisis Group that when coalition forces pull out of Afghanistan, then we should expect civil war. Why? Because, says the Crisis Group (ICG) the Afghan army and the police won’t be able to handle security.

Well Bless Our Souls! Who ever would have thought this? Can it be possible that all those smoothie US and UK generals, ministers and we-lie-for-our-country ambassadors have been talking telling us itsy-bitsy porkies? Put another way, could it possibly be that the crock-of-crap we thought was a crock-of-crap was indeed a crock-of-crap?

Should we not take comfort from the Afghan government spokesman who, in a measured response to the ICG report said it was “nonsense and garbage.” That’s better! That’s the considered language we like to hear from the Afghan government of Mr Karzai and not the nonsense from the ICG who reckon the chances are high that unless the Karzai people get it together right now then the chances are there will be civil war and the government will take a tumble and never get up again.

As for democratic elections – forget them, says the Brussels-based group. It is a near certainty that under current conditions the 2014 elections will be plagued by massive fraud. Vote rigging in the south and east, where security continues to deteriorate, is all but guaranteed. High levels of violence across the country before and on the day of the polls are likely to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands more would-be voters.

There is another view of course. Karzai’s government would say that Afghanistan is not a creation of the US-led offensive. The tribes of this region have spent 5,000 years fighting intruders including the three brutal wars against nineteenth-century British imperialism. Curiously, Afghanistan is a metaphorical graveyard of modern imperial ambitions (Russian and American in particular) yet it has succumbed seemingly inevitably to internecine and tribal bitterness within its own boundaries.

So here we have two sides of the same concerns that mean we have to reflect that the US inspired alliance went to Afghanistan to defend their interests not those of the Afghan peoples. That was a decade ago. Today state and national legislators have inexact perceptions of ten years ago and instead think of our own times of re-elections, lost purpose and so sense public indifference especially now that Osama Bin Laden is no more. This last point must never be ignored. All the time Osama Bin Laden was free then Western publics had an underlying uneasiness about their own security. Once killed, then surely that mood changed. Was not the purpose of going to Afghanistan fulfilled? None said otherwise, so the time had to come home and put the unused body-bags in store for the next time.

Given all this, it is hardly surprising that voting publics and their politicians are tending to think that it is time to go and it matters not if Afghanistan is able to defend itself. That mood is not going to change, whatever the ICG and others say: after all, the generals, politicians and diplomats talk up the allied successes because they cannot suffer failure and naturally, if everything is fine and dandy as they lie that it is, then it’s Okay to quit. What we must now need to know is the how far we are advanced in providing the constitutional protection that the emerging state needs. What happens if the fears of the ICG are taken on board and we do publicly accept the very real possibilities that postponed elections could so easily lead to upheaval and therefore at the very minimum dangerous declarations of state of emergency particularly in the run up to or during the presidential campaign season in 2014.

The ICG believes it is only logical that outside states – particularly the British and Americans must tie Karzai into an emergency plan of what to do if elections are significantly delayed or that polling results lead to prolonged disputes or a run-off.

That means immediately that The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) should say now that if all else fails it will hang around with an operational plan to back-up Afghan forces.

If NATO and ISAF do not do this, then the state of emergency will be inevitable because the executive, the judiciary and the parliament will have no common voice nor authority. The consequence will be the collapse of the state. In most minds, that would mean Afghanistan dissolving into civil war. Cynics may say, so what? Bigger cynics may sayd, it’s alw=ready happening. About time then that outside but interested governments could have the guts to react to the ISG report with its own voiced observations instead of hand over the mouth private briefings that officially never take place.

We all know what the ISG has said is true. We do not know what our liberating governments propose to do about it. We really should know.