Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Now Won't THAT Get the Mullahs Squawking ?

The Serbian government did not want to fight either -- at any rate not yet (the army was exhausted after the Balkan wars), and not without Russia. But the Serbian government was not strong enough to control the activities of its own extremists, who more and more, were finding a happy-hunting ground among the young Bosnian-Serbs who were sharpening their knives, driven partly by Serb nationalism as such. . .
It was against this background that Franz Ferdinand went to meet his death at Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.
Edward Crankshaw The Fall of the House of Habsburg, Chapter XVIII "The Road To Sarajevo" (Penguin, 1983) at 375-76.
While we're on the subject of H.M. the Queen, it seems that H.M. has been pleased to confer a knighthood on one Salman Rushdie, "for services to literature."
Perhaps you remember Sir Salman ? Author of The Satanic Verses ? Death threats, a fatwa by no less a personage than Khomeini himself ? If you've never heard of Sir Salman Rushdie, you're going to hear lots in the near future -- the Queen (or, rather, the British cabinet) just guaranteed that. Sir Salman is now a "Knight Bachelor" -- a knight, but not a member of one of the several Orders of Chivalry such as the Bath or the Thistle.
Pakistan and Iran have already condemned the honor, Pakistan calling it an "affront to Muslim sentiments," MSNBC reports, adding that a cabinet minister there says this justifies suicide bombers. Students in Pakistan have burned the Queen in effigy and demanded Britain apologize by withdrawing the title.
The Iranians are just as angry, reports the BBC, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry calling the knighthood "a blatant example of the anti-Islamism of senior British officials." Financial Times quotes the same Foreign Ministry official as calling this "an obvious example of fighting Islam”.
The tenor of these remarks ! We're not talking about simple diplomatic protests here. As Wretchard at Belmont Club points out, writing of the demand of the Pakistani cabinet minister that the knighthood be withdrawn -- the foreign officials are arrogating to themselves, as interpreters of their religion, the right to tell the British Queen, of another government, religion, culture -- what to do. They are speaking as if their armies occupied London. Perhaps they talk of Londonistan and really believe it.
Oh boy, people, have I got news for you. What world are you on ? We're not talking about the Pope here, or the President of the United States, but the Queen of Great Britain. The British monarch is not going to withdraw a knighthood, once given, or do much of anything else. . .for anything. The Pope has to worry about the church, and the Presidents about voters. The Queen doesn't worry about anything but God.
The columnist Spengler, over at Asia Times Online, writes sometimes about what he calls the "Pesky Puppies of War." Wars, Spengler argues, are produced not by the "Dogs of War" -- they "incline toward caution, which after all is how they grew up to be dogs" -- but instead by the "puppies", who don't recognize danger till they blunder right into it, if then. "Dogs" like North Korea (today) and possibly parts of the the government of Iran are not so much to be feared as war-causers as are the "puppies" like Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, perhaps the Iranian Pasdaran, pro-Serbian assassins of Archdukes in 1914, or ranting, enraged crowds in the streets of Tehran and Islamabad today. The anger, manipulations, and missteps of the "puppies", Spengler contends, then drag the supposedly more cautious "dogs" into conflict (much as the pro-Serbian murderers of Archduke Franz Ferdinand did to the Russians in 1914) "because no one wants to disown his dog."
The British government (which approves the Honours Lists) -- just threw the puppies a very large bone.
There is a whole lot of instability in the system right now. There are litters of puppies all over the place. A weak American president. The fall of Fatah in Gaza. Rumblings of a new war in Lebanon. The Iranian nuclear program that nobody seems able to stop, but that Bush has vowed will not proceed. Iranian support to rebels in Iraq. The Saudis concerned about the Shiite resurgence, and worried about an Iranian bomb. A weak Israeli premier. An overstretched US military. An Iranian ruler of questionable political and mental stability. Closer to home, both an ailing, aging Latin American caudillo, and a new, young and assertive one -- eager to confront a United States which imports 60 percent of its oil, and is bleeding cash.
Finally, please excuse the mixing of metaphors, but there is a whole lot of powder lying about the open magazine doors. We must be exceedingly careful just now of a spark.


louielouie said...

the stop-n-go clerk may put in another order, with the iranian navy, for a half dozen english sailors.
another half dozen, that is.
the brits did what we told 'em to last time.
it won't be any different now......

El Jefe Maximo said...

Yeah, no doubt about that LL. Hopefully, the forces in Iraq are on the alert for smash-and-grab attempts. Of course, when you worry overmuch about having people grabbed, you aren't patrolling as much, which creates its own set of problems.

It is probably especially hard to be a British serviceman/woman in Iraq right now. There is an overwhelming probability that when Gordon Brown becomes PM, that he will dramatically scale-back the British effort or end it, very quickly. It's a lot to ask the military personnel to keep doing their jobs and running those kind of risks if they're leaving.