"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bob Dylan does it again

Bob Dylan really seems to have pulled out a classic with Modern Times. I haven't bought it yet, but I certainly intend to, not least after reading the superb reviews it has been given. For example, Pitchfork gave it 8.3; AllMusic Guide and Rolling Stone have been similarly positive. I've heard some of the songs and it is not difficult to see why. The man has quite simply written the best songs he has in a long time. I enjoyed Love and Theft, but Modern Times really looks like being something quite special. To be still producing the goods 44 years after his debut album is some feat. We will not see his like again.

In looking for reviews of Modern Times, I came across the interesting Meta-Critic website, which gathers reviews of the particular album, book, game, dvd or film, as the case may be, from selected sources, calculates an appropriate rating out of 100 (whereas Pitchfork gives ratings to decimal places, many reviews only give a rating out of five, or ten) and then comes up with a weighted critics' average. The average is weighted by assigning more weight to publications of greater stature than to newer or lesser known ones. As examples of the results of this process, Thom Yorke has registered 75, Primal Scream 56, Outkast 65, and Dylan 95. Admittedly, the maximum number of reviews (30) has not yet been reached in Dylan's case (for Modern Times has only just been released), and more lukewarm reviews may surface, which would naturally reduce the collated average.

If you haven't done so already, check out Modern Times and Meta-Critic.

Calling a spade a spade

Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of Al- Arabiya news channel, had an article recently in the pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Al-Rashed is the man who, two years ago, penned a sentence containing the kernel of one of the most difficult problems facing Europe today: "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims." If this is true, how do we engage with our growing Muslim minorities?

Well, democratic European minds would likely be more at ease, if they could know that most of their Muslim neighbours cleaved to the sort of "good authority" analysis al-Rashed's more recent article puts forward. A while president Bush described America (and the free world) as at war with "Islamofascism". In the Islamic Middle East, some sought to describe the statement, in the same way as some wilfully distort every comment by Western leaders on this subject, as suggesting a war with Islam per se. There is of course no such war, and the U.S. president certainly hasn't declared one. What Bush in fact had in mind, although one can quibble about the usefulness of his terminology, is correct. Al-Rashed takes up the point:
"When US President George W. Bush described those who plotted to kill thousands of passengers in ten airliners as Muslim fascists, protests from a number of Islamic societies in the west and the east were voiced against this description. What is wrong with using a bad adjective to describe a terrorist as long as he is willing to personally call himself an Islamist; declares his stance, schemes, and aims; while his supporters publicly call for killing of those whom they consider infidels, or disagree with them religiously or politically?"
"Bush did not say that the Muslims were fascists; he said that the Muslim fascists were the problem, i.e. he distinguished between an extremist group and the general innocent peaceful Muslims. Yes, fascism is a word that has bad connotations, and is used here to approximate the meaning to the listeners. The westerners know that fascism is an extremist nationalist movement, which emerged from the European society, and was responsible for destructive wars caused by its premises, which are based on discrimination, racism and hatred. This approximation is correct when you apply it to the literature of the Islamic extremists. The same as the Europeans fought fascism and the fascists by word and by gunpowder, the world will fight the extremist Islamists. This is what the good Muslims, who are at the forefront of those hunting down Al-Qaeda, do; the same as the Muslim who exposed the latest conspiracy to hijack the airliners,
when he hastened to inform the security authorities when he suspected what was happening in the neighborhood. This is why I do not understand what those people - who want to protect reputation and image from the westerners - want to call the Muslim extremists who resort to violence? Do they want to call them Khawarij (The earliest Islamic sect, which traces its beginning to a religious-political controversy over the Caliphate)? The problem is that no one (in the west) understands its historical meaning. Do they call them by their names only, such as Osama, Ayman, Muhammad, and Zamani? Do they call them according to the sarcastic Egyptian way: "people who should remain nameless?""
"At the end, describing rotten apples as rotten does not make the people hate eating good apples. The same applies to the Muslims; there are one billion Muslims in the world, and the world has no option other than dealing with them, and hunting down the evil minority among them. We have wasted a long time since the seventies in being preoccupied with protesting against nomenclatures and images. This is despite the fact that these people hijack civilian airliners, kill people in restaurants, and justify their actions by using pan-Arab or Islamic descriptions. To describe a Muslim as terrorist is natural if he is a terrorist, the same as you do with a Colombian drug smuggler, an Italian Mafioso, a Russian butcher, a British Nazi, or a US right-wing extremist."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Celsius 7/7 reviewed on Disillusioned Lefty

One of my favourite Irish blogs is the award-winning Disillusioned Lefty, which is the brainchild of Kevin Breathnach and Michael Larkin. They have won many admirers for their always-engaging writing, which has ranged widely, from literature and music (whether pop culture or more artistic) to politics and history. Disillusioned Lefty went into virtual hibernation recently; the lads were doing the Leaving Cert. In recent weeks, the blog has seen regular posting once more.

A few days ago, Kevin described Michael Gove's new book Celsius 7/7 as "provoking and convincing". This evening he offers a more detailed introduction to the book, which is well worth a read. Kevin picks this passage of Gove's as broadly summing up the book's argument:
Haven’t we learnt that the failure to act does not just allow Islamists time and space to operate but also, crucially, reinforces their impression of our weakness? Once again, and not for the last time, our culture is incapable of asserting itself in defence of liberal values. Islamists draw strenght and take heart from what they see as our terminal irresolution.
Kevin concludes that, while agrees with much of Gove's general thesis: "Gove’s blueprint is not worth the €14.70, it’s rhetoric heavy and often source-light. What’s more, much of his argument has been made already and to a wider audience."

Steyn on 2006 v 2001

It had been a long time since I read a piece penned by Mark Steyn - since his replacement as token North American right-winger in the Irish Times by Charles Krauthammer, if not beforehand. Steyn is a wittier writer than Krauthammer; on some occasions he can be superficial; other times, simplistic; others again, overly dismissive of other viewpoints. Today I checked out his website (www.steynonline.com) for the first time in a good while. And I found a piece published by him in the Chicago Sun-Times on August 20th. Steyn contrasts September 2001, when the U.S. twisted arms in Islamabad and Moscow in order to allow the Afghanistan operations to get under way, with the situation five years, on with unsuccessful negotiations with Iran and the month-long Israel-Hizbollah conflict ending without a decisive blow against Hizbollah. He makes one point that is worth thinking about, in typically combative style:
"At one level, the issue is the same as it was on Sept. 11: American will and national purpose. But the reality is that it's worse than that -- for (as Israel is also learning) to begin something and be unable to stick with it to the finish is far more damaging to your reputation than if you'd never begun it in the first place. Nitwit Democrats think anything that can be passed off as a failure in Iraq will somehow diminish only Bush and the neocons. In reality -- a concept with which Democrats seem only dimly acquainted -- it would diminish the nation, and all but certainly end the American moment."

Cameron's compassionate conservatism

To encourage enterprise in all its forms; to fight social justice and help the most disadvantaged by building a strong society; to meet the great environmental threats of the age; to provide first-class healthcare, education and housing that responds to the needs of the individual (by trusting professionals, giving choice to parents, supporting vocation and local initiative); to take a lead in ending global poverty, as a moral obligation and a means of guaranteeing long-term security; to protect the country by being "hard-nosed defenders of freedom"; to give power to people and communities, and recognise the limitations of government - it is not through central government alone that we can change society for the better; to be an open, meritocratic and forward-looking Party.

Those, in summary form, are the eight goals set out in Built to Last: The Aims and Values of the Conservative Party. It is worth a read, even if it's set of proposals veer toward rhetoric rather than detail. The U.K. is after all at least three years - unless there is an unforeseen disruption to the usual timetable - out from its next general election. But 12 months after a third election defeat, this time to an unpopular prime minister, the Conservatives have started to turn their fortunes around. A recent poll put them ahead of Labour by nine points: 40-31. Given the unbalanced constituency system, the Conservatives need something of that order in election 2009 to take victory. And we must remember that the Blair government has been flailing around from PR disaster to PR disaster in recent months. Once the prime minister leaves, which is likely to be in the next 12 months or so, Labour may take on a more settled look. By then David Cameron's Conservatives will have to have embedded some of these ideas in the public conscience.

There are some interesting ideas, not least abolition of the national ID card scheme (should it be introduced) and the replacement of the Human Rights Act 1998 with a new Bill of Rights. Foreign policy is barely mentioned (the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the debacle surrounding Cameron's intention to leave the EPP in the European Parliament, might as well never have happened); no clear positions are taken on questions such as the direction of policy on energy, or tax and welfare; areas such as transport and communications are left out.

There is a long road ahead for the Conservatives. Remember the old saying: Elections are not won by oppositions, they are losy by governments.

Prisoners released "unharmed"

As readers are perhaps aware, the two American reporters, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig seized in Gaza and held captive for two weeks have been released. This is how the New York Times put it on Sunday:
"Two journalists kidnapped in Gaza were released unharmed on Sunday after being forced at gunpoint to say on a videotape that they had converted to Islam."

Now, one wonders, if two al-Qaeda prisoners were released from Guantanamo Bay after having been forced (at gun point) to declare conversion to Christianity, would the New York Times describe them as "unharmed"? I'd say it might criticise the captors for unjustifiably and unnecessarily acting in a manner tending to undermine the prisoners' dignity. And one could only agree.

Roy Keane on Wearside

And then it happened. I heard on the radio one morning last week that Roy Keane was in "advanced negotiations" with Niall Quinn, chairman of Sunderland football club, with a view to taking over as manager. I thought a first I must have imagined what I thought I had heard: a product of exam stress and insufficient sleep/caffeine perhaps. But it was correct. And now it is a done deal. Last night the Sunderland players even managed to pull off a surprising 2-0 win over West Brom. Why has Keane taken on the job? After all, Sunderland has seemed in freefall since being relegated from the Premiership. The players seem a dispirited, scarcely functional bunch. They lost their four opening matches in the Championship; then they were knocked out of the League Cup by Bury, a side languishing at the bottom of the Football League.

A contract worth a reported 6 million punds sterling (reports vary; some suggest 10 million) might be pointed to as a reason. But Keane is by any standard a wealthy man; over his final years at United he took home a six-figure sum weekly. He need not work again for many years, should he so wish. Unlike some other professional footballers, he has never shown conspicuous attachment to monetary reward as an end in itself; it has simply been a by-product of his career in the game. For example, we know he was willing to take a large pay cut to turn out for Celtic. He is a man who would not let money get in the way of something he thinks he should do. That is not to say he does not know his value; Michael Kennedy, solicitor, has rendered him consistently outstanding service in that regard, as Tom Humphries noted yesterday in the Irish Times. So it wasn't for the money. I think the basic answer is that Keane, as he showed in his playing career, is a competitive spirit to his very core. It has given his life its very meaning, apart from his family, since he contemplated what to do with his life and got the call from first Cobh Ramblers, then Nottingham Forest, then Manchester United, and, latterly, Celtic. He seems to have found the prospect of months, even years, away from the cut-and-thrust of footballing competition too much.

So if he desired a way back into the game, why Sunderland and Niall Quinn? The question would perhaps surprise a hypothetical observer unaware of what occurred in Saipan four summers ago. Look at it this way: the club has an ambitious chairman and board, has just been taken over by a wealthy consortium willing to invest significant sums, a fine stadium and a large fanbase - at least by Championship standards. Keane and Quinn are men enough to leave behind what happened. Keane certainly seems to have shed to bitterest leading edge of his view of the events of 2002; or so one would infer, for he has not said as much in public and may not do so for a long time to come. He has quite a task on his hands. But the old saying is appropriate: No better man.

What a Hamas spokesman thinks of conditions in Gaza

Palestinian Authority Government Spokesman Dr. Ghazi Hamad has published, in the PA daily Al-Ayyam, a critique of current events in the Gaza Strip, including scathing criticism of the Hamas government itself and the Palestinian resistance. Here are some selected excerpts from the Jerusalem Post:
"When you walk in the streets of Gaza City, you cannot but close your eyes because of what you see there: unimaginable chaos, careless policemen, young men carrying guns and strutting with pride and families receiving condolences for their dead in the middle of the street."

"Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs," Hamad wrote. "I remember the day when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and closed the gates behind. Then, Palestinians across the political spectrum took to the streets to celebrate what many of us regarded as the Israeli defeat or retreat. We heard a lot about a promising future in the Gaza Strip and about turning the area into a trade and industrial zone."

Hamad does not place the blame for the lawlessness in Gaza on Israel:
"We're always afraid to talk about our mistakes. We're used to blaming our mistakes on others. What is the relationship between the chaos, anarchy, lawlessness, indiscriminate murders, theft of land, family rivalries, transgression on public lands and unorganized traffic and the occupation? We are still trapped by the mentality of conspiracy theories - one that has limited our capability to think."

"We have all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity. We have lost our sense of direction and we don't know where we're headed."

And there is this plea to the armed men inflicting chaos on Gaza:
"Please have mercy on Gaza. Have mercy on us from your demagogy, chaos, guns, thugs, infighting. Let Gaza breathe a bit. Let it live."

Longer extracts may be found at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
They say admitting a problem is the first step to solving it. Perhaps admitting that not everything that's wrong for the Palestinian Arabs is the fault of Israel is a step forward.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Immigration and reactions

In May 2004, when the EU expanded from 15 to 25 member states, only Ireland, Sweden and the U.K. declined to impose restrictions on the free movement of workers from the 10 new member states. In the 28 months or so since, there has been a remarkable influx of Eastern European workers into this country. The majority seem to be Poles, but there are also Lithuanians, Latvians, Slovaks and workers from each of the new states.

According to the OECD in June 2006:
"Since [May 2004], the UK and Ireland have received a significant number of immigrants from these countries, Sweden to a lesser extent. From May 2004 to the end of December 2005, 345 000 workers from the new member states were registered in the United Kingdom. In Ireland, from May 2004 to May 2005, 83 000 nationals of the new EU member states were registered, equal to 4% of the Irish labour force. "

According to Dr. Mary Gilmartin of UCD, working with figures accurate to the end of April 2006:
"Since May 2004, over 200,000 new PPS numbers have been issued. Of these, over 110,000 were issued to people from Poland, over 30,000 were issued to people from Lithuania, and over 15,000 to people from Latvia."

Even if the figure of 200,000, one must factor in the percentage of workers who came to Ireland for a number of months and went home again. But even working with a figure 150,000, this represents 7% of the Irish labour force. And in all of this there has been relatively little political dissent or objection. Pat Rabbitte made a comment about there being plenty more Poles where they came from, or words to that effect. But no considered analysis, or temperate raising of questions. By contrast, something of a political furore has erupted across the Irish Sea. Moves are afoot to reverse the open door police adopted in May 2004, as regards workers from Romania and Bulgaria, as and when the latter countries join the Union, which is scheduled for January 2007. Recent U.K. figures show, according to The Economist, that:
"427,000 migrants from eastern Europe had registered for work between May 2004 and June 2006. These figures do not include the self-employed, such as the supposedly ubiquitous Polish plumber. Allowing for that, the true figure was nearly 600,000 according to Tony McNulty, a Home Office minister."

To quote again from the same source:
"John Salt, director of the migration research unit at University College London, says that the population movement since May 2004 is the biggest single wave of migration in British history. Certainly this is the case in absolute terms, although he adds that the arrival of Huguenots from France in the late 17th century may have been bigger as a share of the population."

Taking a figure of 30 million for the U.K. labour force, 600,000 amounts to 2%. Now, surely the last two years must constitute "the biggest single wave of migration in [Irish] history". What accounts for the different political response to such figures between Ireland and the U.K.? After all, we have taken in abour three times more from the new member states. One point to make is that the U.K. has a much longer history of immigration. London is the most "multicultural" city in the world. Another is that significant parts of the British press seem to take any opportunity to blame the EU, for whatever current topic is in the headlines. On top of that, immigration as a topic seems to resonate in a negative sense with certain portions of the British public. Of course, one must differentiate between (say) the shambles that the U.K.'s asylum system has become (it only seems to have worsened over the last 10 years), and the relatively orderly system of economic migration from the new member states. By contrast to the position across the water, large-scale immigration is a phenomenon new to modern Ireland. We simply have never seen anything like this before, and are feeling our way slowly to a view of the best way forward.

One cannot doubt the benefits to our expanding economy of the new member state workers (not to mention the approximately 60,000 Chinese: see Dr. Gilmartin's piece). I certainly fully appreciate those benefits. They seem to be very hard-working. They are willing to take jobs that fewer and fewer Irish would take. I've yet to encounter a disobliging or discourteous immigrant waiter or shop assistant. And it is probably a positive experience for us to have persons of other cultures and backgrounds mingling through our society. It broadens horizons I suppose. But there are other factors. Low-wage workers, at least in some areas, have seen their incomes stagnate. Integration should be a priority. Thankfully, this seems to be proceeding relatively well. Polish shops and masses are fine by me, provided that our new countrymen do not keep entirely to themselves, as has happened with immigrant populations elsewhere. On that score, I think (and this is just a personal suggestion) we're doing ok. But it will be fascinating to see whether the Government is swayed by the U.K. u-turn and considers imposing restrictions on the issue of the rate of immigration becomes an issue in the 2007 general election.

Update (Aug. 29th; 1.10pm)
When writing this post, I was unaware of an August 26th report in the Irish Independent, claiming that the Government is indeed to introduce a work permit system for migrants from Bulgaria and Romania. It was adverted to that day by Simon over at Irish Election. A very perceptive comment was left by "Adam", which I quote in full:
"There’s a debate going on on the Politics forum of Boards.ie about imposing work restrictions on EU citizens; the problem is that all the work restrictions in the world can’t stop people traveling to other EU countries; there is still a freedom of movement that is central to the European project.What that essentially means is that people will travel here and join the black-market work force; it’s already happened in the 12 other “old EU” countries that imposed restrictions on the 10 new states in 2004. Indeed the actual effect has been that the likes of Ireland, the UK and Sweden have gotten the educated Polish workers who have something to offer while the less educated masses went for the labour-intensive jobs in the EU black market. Apparently even if someone from Poland was caught working in, say Germany illegally they can only be deported; at which point they can return freely as “tourists” and start all over again.At least with the freedom to work we have documented immigrants who pay taxes and contribute to the economy."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ah, the '60's

Pitchfork Media's list of the 200 greatest songs of the 1960's is recommended.

Returns and leavings

With one bound our hero was free

I finished the entrance exams in King's Inns today. They took place over the last five days. I did mine in the Dining Hall, a great high-roofed place replete with dome-shaped aspect and four chandeliers. All present were under the watchful gaze (via portrait) of many judges who over the years, nay the centuries, have made a mark on the law and society - and doubtless sat in that very same hall. Where I was positioned, Cecil Lavery (1894-1973), politician, Attorney General and Supreme Court judge, looked down upon me somewhat quizically. I wonder if he knew more about Rylands v Fletcher when he was my age. (Of course, the exams are a recent innovation, so he may never have been tested on it.) Five exams in as many days were tough, but they're done now.

I write from Cork, where I arrived six and a half hours after leaving my rented house in Dublin. Let's confine the story to saying that just as I arrived at the Luas at Connolly station, I heard to my dismay that there was no service to Heuston. The number 90 bus, I was told, went there. It did, in 70 minutes. Thus the five o'clock train was already history before I even made the station. The seven o'clock proceeded to be held up in Mallow because a track fault. I rely heavily on public transport, but it owes me after today.

As some readers may know, Brian McCracken retired from the Supreme Court bench in July. Fortunately, our highest court is the polar opposite of the unhappy U.S. situation of rancour and political division surrounding judicial appointments, which only seems to have worsened over the last decade or two. For better or worse, Irish people neither know nor discuss who populates such a powerful post. But the topic of oversight of judicial appointments is for another day. Rather I will make a different point. When Mr. Justice McCracken retired, I read a somewhat cursory piece in the Irish Times, in which comments made by the Chief Justice and others were briefly recorded. Then I happened upon an online transcription of the valedictory address for Lord Justice Henry Brooke of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. It records the address given by the Lord Chief Justice, and the tributes of others, including the Attorney General. One comment I noticed in particular. It was made by David Railton QC, who was the last pupil barrister taken on by Henry Brooke in 1980:
"As a pupil master, though, he was a living example of what a barrister should be, exuding all those qualities about which my Lord has already heard today: a ferocious intellect, unshakable integrity, very hard-working, thorough, invariably courteous (including to his pupil) and with an eccentric sense of humour – indeed, everything we have come to expect in our leading judges. But as a pupil master perhaps his greatest attribute, and what made pupillage with him so special, was the extraordinary enthusiasm and sense of fun which he brought to everything he did. As he told me on my first day with him, he never could quite believe how he came to be paid for something he enjoyed doing so much. That energy and enthusiasm has never waned."
The idea of such a transcription strikes as very worthwhile, and a way of recognising and recording for the interested reader, something of the people who hold such positions of great responsibility.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

John Pilger, Hizbollah and Israel

The resistance to rapacious power, to epic crimes of invasion (which the Nuremberg judges called the "paramount" crime) is humanity at its noblest; yet the paradox warns us that no resistance is pretty; that each adds its own form of violence in order to expel an invader (such as the civilians killed by Hizbollah rockets); and this has applied to heroic partisans in Europe and heroic Kurds and those faceless, despised Iraqis who have succeeded in pinning down the American homicidal machine in their country.

So wrote John Pilger recently. The Arab-Israeli conflict is an agonising, bitter, protracted conflict, hope resolution of which has teetered and flickered for a long time. Deep and bitter wounds have gashed both sides. The Palestinian Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank live in often pitiful, dangerous conditions; they have no state of their own, they have little economic prospects or opportunity. Israel is a small democracy which has several times in its short existence come close to destruction upon being invaded with that express purpose by neghbouring states. There are no easy solutions to the conflict, despite the argument heard in many quarters: If only Israel would turn over the West Bank and Gaza and southern Lebanon to their rightful owners, then peace would be declared; its neighbours would lose their reasons for hostility. Well this decade has seen Israel depart from the last two areas, only to see its enemies (this time non-state terrorist groups) Hamas and Hizbollah use these areas as (quite literally) launching pads for further assaults upon it. Both groups operate in the governments of their countries, yet both operate private militias and have remained intent on attacking Israel. They declare their intent to destroy Israel. Fortunately they do not today have the means to carry out that threat. However, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is building a uranium cycle that would give it the capability to produce nuclear weapons, is a patron of both.

Against that background, Hizbollah (with, porbably, as I pointed out here, Iranian assistance) planned and launched a cross-border raid, killing eight Israeli soldiers, and returning across the border with their two companions as hostages. Southern Lebanon, as has often been remarked in recent days, is something of a "state within a state". It is run by Hizbollah, not the sovereign democratic government of Lebanon. The world has witnessed one major example recently of the same phenomenon. This was Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden's terrorist network trained its operatives and planned the events of September 11, 2001. The government there, the Taliban, could not and/or would not restrain or remove them. Quite the contrary. Now there is no evidence that the Lebanese government sanctioned or approved of Hizbollah's raid into Israel. There is no reason to believe they would have given approval, should Hizbollah have sought it.

The dilemma facing the attacked state is largely the same in both instances though. America's coalition simply swept the Taliban from power (although the country is not stable yet in significant places); Israel does not have the same option. It sought rather to remove the virus but leave the host intact. This was probably never likely to be accomplished without severe destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure and very large loss of life, to a larger degree than seen so far. That is assuming it was ever a viable proposition. I'm not convinced it was ever doable; Israel's generals seem to have quite hubristically in planning their offensive.

I don't deny Israel's right to defend itself. Quite the opposite; that right must be affirmed and the world bears historic responsibility to see that it is upheld. I simply seek to point that the problems it faces are deeply complex.

That is why I find articles like Pilger's so unhelpful, not to say repulsive. Unhelpful, because,a mong other things, he brushes over (indeed seems to praise) Hizbollah's complicity, and entirely ignores Iran's. Repulsive because he twice uses metaphors associated with the Nazis (Ribbentropp and Nuremberg) in his condemnation of America and Israel. I would have no thoughtful commentator would use such expressions in reference Israel. His quote above also fails to make any moral distinctions between insurgent/resistant movements. He fails to distinguish between Hizbollah, the Iraqi insurgency (with all its own strands and motivations), Eastern Europe's resistane to Communism and the Kurds' resistance to Saddam Hussein. I don't mean to defend everything Israel has done in the last few weeks. Indeed its targeting of the U.N. compound is very difficult to see as anything other than callous and disgraceful. (The evidence is stacked against that incident having been unintentional.) But painting Hizbollah like heroes and Israel as the opposite, as Pilger does, is a grotesque warping of reality.