Tuesday, 11 April 2017


Boris Johnson says he has seen the evidence and it is overwhelming. Others talk of plots within plots and deep, dark shenanigans in the whole Russia/Syria/Iran malarkey. All I know is that is far from clear exactly what happened, why it happened, who did it, who urged it, who bought it, who denied it, etc. All I can say is that the entire business is disturbing, profound, far-reaching and sod-all to do with me. I glaze over when the Middle East goes through its regular contortions.

In 1976, the Genesis track Blood on the Rooftops sang:

“Let's skip the news boy (I'll go and make some tea)
Arabs and Jews boy (too much for me)
They get me confused boy (puts me off to sleep)
And the thing I hate, oh Lord!
Is staying up late, to watch some debate, on some nation's fate.”

I remember these words as each new self-inflicted wound scars the Arab world, as each new senseless act stirs up old enmities and fractures old allegiances. And I despair as commentators switch sides at the flip of a conspiracy theory. If it really is as contorted as some claim it is an insoluble conundrum.

Simple, many say, it’s all about oil, petrodollars. But it’s so much more than that. Or less; as I said, I don’t know (too much for me, boy). I want it to be simple and simply resolved and as the world outside those burning sands finds more oil and gas of its own and invests in new energy-generating technologies a large part of me wants to see the land of the oil sheiks once more isolated and diminished in significance. One day all that remains could be an Ozymandias statue; the sooner the better. But right now, cool heads are needed.

Yesterday thousands eulogised PC Keith Palmer in a display of mourning that troubled me greatly. This isn’t something the British ever really did before St Diana of Wales and not something I think we should indulge in now. The inscrutability of the Chinese has always made reading their intent somewhat difficult to deal with. Likewise the British stiff upper lip used to confound our opponents; our phlegmatism a curiously inscrutable characteristic. But now we wear our hearts on our sleeves, openly displaying to our enemies, who have such a low regard for life, how sensitive we have become to even a single death. Isn’t this an open invitation for jihads to target yet more public servants?

A nation that can be stopped in its tracks by a single incident is a weak nation, not a strong one. And right now, on many fronts, we need a display of strength, not vulnerability. We shouldn’t be looking to solve foreign puzzles, over which we have long been unsuccessful. Instead, maybe we should be turning inward, solving our domestic issues first, rebuilding our identity and not dabbling in the guesswork of Middle East politics. There are plenty of others engaged in stirring up the wasps’ nest; about time we concentrated on defending against the swarm.

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