Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Killing childhood

According to a report by the Children's Society children are being smothered too much and not being allowed out to play and explore on their own. This results in child development problems and the inability to build deep friendships.

I remember as I child roaming far and wide and at all times of day in Beirut, where I grew up. I also did the same when we came back to the UK, at first in Croydon.

Parents it seems are worried about the safety of their children. In many ways I think this worry is misplaced. The likelihood of a child being abducted is no greater now than it was 30 or 40 years ago. Clearly there is real no danger there.

Where there may be of course is what may be regarded as general bullying, robbery and such like that seldom appears on either officially recorded crime, or the British Crime survey which excludes the young as victims.

Clearly we have two problems here, one is that fear is in one case beyond reality, whilst there is a huge crime wave in youth on youth crime which is is not being dealt with. We need to deal with this as it is killing childhood.

The BBC has this.

6 comments:

erik said...

Iran and North Korea are in advanced negotiations for Tehran’s purchase of Taep’o-dong-2 ballistic missiles, whose estimate range is 3,500-4,000 km. North Korea’s deputy foreign minister Kim Hyong brought the proposition to its final stages when he visited Tehran in the first week of May. Delivery was promised for late July or early August. US Vice President Richard Cheney informed Saudi King Abdullah of this development during his May visit to Riyadh.

Israeli military sources say that Iranian president Mahoud Ahmadinejad’s declarations are made more outrageous than ever by knowledge of the deal. Sunday he declared the countdown has begun for the demise of the Zionist state.

Aly Larijani, head of Iran’s Supreme national Security Council said Monday: “The deployment of the US air system in Europe to counter Iranian missiles is the joke of the year.” He said Iran’s missiles could not reach Europe.

That may have been true at this moment – but not after the delivery of the North Korean missiles at summer’s end. Russian president Vladimir Putin was also undoubtedly aware of this when he said Europe is not threatened by long-range missiles from Iran. In fact, Tehran’s acquisition of the Taep’o-dong-2 will triple its long-range missile arsenal and upgrade its range and quality.

erik said...

Brig. Gen. Yosi Baidatz reported Monday, June 4, that Hizballah is busy restoring its fortified positions south of the Litani in villages and open ground under the very noses of UNIFIL international observers.

His briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee contradicts assertions by prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni that UNIFIL has prevented the militia’s return to its old positions on the Israeli border since a UN ceasefire ended the Lebanon War last August.

The AMAN research division’s commander stated on the contrary, that not only does UNIFIL fail to prevent the free ongoing flow of weapons to Hizballah from Syria and Iran, but the peacekeepers have fallen down on their primary mission of holding the pro-Iranian militia back from redeploying along the Israeli border. Turning to the situation in Gaza, Gen. Baidatz reported that Hamas, which heads the Palestinian government, is satisfied with the results of its missile offensive. After firing hundreds of Qassam missiles across the border for nearly three weeks, Israelis are fleeing a town and some villages, while . He warned that Hamas is going ahead with its plans for an Iraq-style mega-attack inside Israel and further kidnappings.

Andy Cooke said...

"I remember as I child roaming far and wide and at all times of day in Beirut"

That has got to be the ultimate quote on the subject :)

And yes, I know that Beirut was far more peacable back then, but the name is always instinctively very evocative of a war-torn city.

erik said...

At 0753, December, 7, 2008, at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, the attack that had triggered America's entry into World War II, sixty-seven years before, was ceremoniously commemorated, an honour guard, taps, a 21-gun salute, the bugle's notes and the rifles' crack drifting across the bay to the USS Arizona memorial, where Admiral Arthur Peterson, USN Ret., laid a wreath in memory of the sailors sleeping below, one of whom was his own grandfather.

On the West coast it was 1053, and in Washington D.C. it was one fifty-three in the afternoon, 1353 military time.

In 2006 America, tired of War in Iraq, had elected Democrats to modest majorities in both houses of Congress. Representative Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House, third in line for the presidency. In the spring of 2007, on a narrow, party-line vote, Congress, led by Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer refused to authorise spending to continue the war in Iraq, and set September 30, 2007, as the deadline for complete withdrawal of American troops.

President Bush spoke to the country, to the American forces in Iraq, to those who had been there, and to the Iraqi people, to apologise for the short-sightedness and irresponsibility of the American congress and the tragedy he believed would follow after leaving task of nurturing a representative and stable government in Iraq half done, his voice choked, tears running down his stoic face, a betrayal of emotion for which he was resoundingly criticised and denounced in much of America's media.

The level of violence across Iraq immediately subsided, as the Americans began preparations to redeploy back to the States. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised the new Congress for its clear vision and sound judgement. America's Democrats rejoiced and congratulated themselves for bringing peace with honour and ending the illegal war based on lies that George Bush had begun only to enrich his friends in the military-industrial complex, and promised to retake the Presidency in 2008.

At 1000 on September 30, 2007, precisely on schedule, the last C-5A Galaxy carrying the last company of American combat troops in Iraq had roared down the Baghdad runway and lifted into the air. Only a few hundred American technical and military advisers and political liaisons remained in-country.

The Galaxy's wheels had scarcely retracted when Iraq erupted in the real civil war many had feared and foreseen, and which many others had predicted would not happen if only the American imperialists left Iraq. Sunni militias, Shia militias, and Al Qaeda militias ravaged and savaged the country, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis known or suspected to have collaborated with the Americans, killing Shias for being Shias, Sunnis for being Sunnis, Americans for being Americans, and anyone else who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

By noon, not one of the American advisers and liaisons left behind remained alive. Many had been beheaded as they screamed. Most of their bodies were dumped in the river and never seen again. In the next thirty days more than a million Iraqis died. The General Assembly of the United Nations voted to condemn the violence, and recessed for lunch and martinis. In America, there was no political will to redeploy back to Iraq. And after a few months of rabid bloodletting, the situation in Iraq calmed to a tense simmer of sporadic violence and political jockeying, punctuated by the occasional assassination, while several million refugees fled the country. Only Kurdistan, in the north, which had thrown up a line of its Peshmurga fighters to keep the southern violence away, remained stable and at relative peace.

In the spring of 2008 America began its quadrennial circus of a national election, and in November elected a Democrat, the Junior Senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as it next president, to the surprise of few. Her running mate, to the surprise of many, was San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose intelligence, charisma, and reputation as an indefatigable campaigner for gay marriage and the homeless of San Francisco helped solidify Clinton's support among liberal Democrats who only grudgingly forgave her for not openly opposing the Iraq war sooner, and the Clinton-Newsom ticket went to the top with a narrow 50.2% lead over Republican John McCain's 49.8% of the popular vote, despite, or perhaps because of, Clinton's and Newsom's lack of foreign policy and military experience.

America, or a slim voting majority of it, felt it had had all the war it ever wanted to see, and Hillary had led her party to a glorious (if narrow) victory with the unambiguous slogan: "Clinton & Newsom: No More War." Crowds at every whistle stop had cheered and chanted, No more war! No more war! No more war! At victory parties George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Condoleezza Rice were hung and sometimes burned in effigy, enthusiastic crowds chanted "No more war!" many times more, and local bands cranked up the theme from the first Clinton electoral victory, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow...yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone...," and indeed, it was.

President Bush had been a very lame duck since the 2006 election, and with a Democratic Congress could do little but veto most of the bills it sent him. The Democrats couldn't override his vetoes, so for nearly two years almost nothing important had been accomplished by anyone on the Hill or in the White House. After the 2008 election it was transition time, flocks and herds of thoroughly demoralised Republican staff began leaving Washington in search of greener pastures, Congress adjourned for the Holidays, Democrats came house hunting, and Clinton and Newsom began the briefings they would get from a fully cooperative Bush administration on the state of the nation and the state of the world they would inherit and have to cope with for the next four years, or eight, and in those last weeks of November both Hillary and Gavin seemed to age rather quickly. The exhilaration of the campaign was over, and the weight of a tumultuous world began to settle on their shoulders.

Back in early October, 2006, North Korean President (for life) Kim Jong Il had announced the detonation of a nuclear bomb deep in a tunnel in the stony mountains of North Korea. The seismic signature had been small, and American intelligence at first doubted whether it had been a nuclear explosion at all. Traces of radioactive emissions were detected a few days later, and the intelligence estimate revised to conclude that it had been a failed test that produced perhaps only 10% or less of the expected yield, only 0.5 to 1.5 kilotons, not the 20 kilotons, at least, that Western intelligence had anticipated.

Kim Jong Il gloated. The deception had worked. The Americans were thinking in terms of long range intercontinental ballistic missiles with huge warheads that they could shoot out of the sky with their sophisticated billion-dollar anti-missile defence systems. He was thinking in terms of small warheads carried by small, medium range cruise missiles that could be launched from many places, and infiltrated close enough to slip in under the radar and hit America's coastal cities.

On the evening of December 6, 2008, a junior analyst in the National Security Agency was going over routine satellite photo production of ship movements in the Atlantic and Pacific within a thousand miles of the US coasts. Late in the shift he thought he saw something through a haze of fatigue and caffeine, and called a supervisor over to talk.

"Look," he said, photos up on several computer screens, more printed out and spread across his desk, "See? These boats, not big ships, fishing boats, yachts, they've been moving in along shipping lanes for several days, across from the South Pacific toward the West coast, up from the South Atlantic toward the east. Nothing very unusual, they're all small and slow, and scattered up and down the oceans, it seems, but if you look at the times and courses..." and he pulled out a chart he had plotted, "They're approaching so they will all arrive at about the same time, or all be about the same distance off the coast at about the same time...," he trailed off.

The supervisor looked a bit quizzical. "Coincidence? Probably. You need more sleep. Too much fun in the night, eh? Let me know if you see something we can do something with." And walked away.

At 0723 Hawaii time on the 67th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack three old fishing trawlers, about 100 miles apart, and each about 300 miles off the east coast, launched six small cruise missiles from launch tubes that could be dismantled and stored in the holds under ice, or fish, and set up in less than an hour. The missiles were launched at precisely one minute intervals. As soon as each boat had launched its pair, the skeleton crew began to abandon ship into a fast rubber inflatable. The captain was last off, and just before going overboard started the timer on the scuttling charges. Fifteen minutes later and ten miles away, each crew was going up the nets into a small freighter or tanker of Moroccan or Liberian registry, where each man was issued new identification as ship's crew. The rubber inflatables were shot and sunk, and just about then charges in the bilges of each of the three trawlers blew the hulls out, and they sank with no one on board and no distress signals in less than two minutes.

The missiles had been built in a joint operation by North Korea and Iran, and tested in Iran, so they would not have to overfly any other country. The small nuclear warheads had only been tested deep underground. The GPS guidance and detonating systems had worked perfectly, after a few corrections. They flew fifty feet above sea level, and 500 feet above ground level on the last leg of the trip, using computers and terrain data modified from open market technology and flight directors, autopilots, adapted from commercial aviation units. They would adjust speed to arrive on target at specific times and altitudes, and detonate upon reaching the programmed GPS co-ordinates, using technology stolen from the Chinese, who in turn had “Borrowed it” from the European Galileo project for GPS using European technology. They were not as adaptable and intelligent as American cruise missiles, but they did not need to be. Not for this mission.

They were small, less than twenty feet long, and only 18 inches in diameter, powered by small, quiet, fuel-efficient, high-bypass turbofans, and painted in a mottled light blue and light gray ghost camouflage. Cruising at 600 knots, just below the speed of sound, they were nearly impossible to see or hear. They came in under the radar until they reached the coast. After that they were lost in the ground clutter. Nobody saw it coming.

At precisely 0753, Hawaii time, 1353 in the District of Columbia, sixty-seven years to the minute after the Pearl Harbour attack began, the first of six missiles to hit the Washington area exploded in a huge white burst of nuclear fire just 500 feet above the White House, which disappeared in a mist of powdered plaster and stone, concrete and steel. President Bush and President-Elect Clinton had been meeting with Condoleezza Rice and Mrs. Clinton's national security adviser, reviewing the latest National Security Estimate, when they instantaneously turned into a plasma of the atomic elements that had once been human beings. No trace remained.

Alarms immediately began going off all over Washington, and precisely one minute later the second missile exploded just as it struck the Capital dome, instantly turning thousands of tons of granite that had one moment before been the nation's centre of government into thousands of tons of granite shrapnel that shredded several square miles of Washington like a leviathan Claymore mine. At precisely one minute intervals, four more 3 kiloton nuclear weapons exploded at an altitude of 500 feet AGL above the Pentagon, the CIA headquarters, the NSA headquarters, the FBI headquarters, all of which were fully staffed in the middle of the day. In five minutes, the government of the United States of America was decapitated, and a quarter million of the people who made the place run were dead, or dying, or had simply disappeared.

Also at 1353 Eastern time, a missile had blown off just above the New York Stock Exchange, in New York City, and thousands of years of collective financial knowledge and experience evaporated in the nuclear flame. In one minute intervals, others had hit the financial centers of Boston and Baltimore, and the Naval base at Norfolk, Virginia.

Simultaneously, within the same 10-minute window of hell, nuclear tipped cruise missiles devastated the largest intermodel shipping facility on the West coast at San Pedro harbour, exploded just above the Library Tower in central Los Angeles, and short circuited the computer technology ghetto of Silicon Valley in Santa Clara County, big time. One exploded ten feet away from the top of the Bank of America Building in San Francisco and set much of the east slope of the city ablaze. Another giant fireball flared among the phalanx of office towers along the Capitol Mall in Sacramento, instantly obliterating Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state government of California, the largest state economy in the US, the seventh largest economy in the world. Two ripped open the heart of Portland, Oregon, one shattered the financial district of Seattle, and the last one turned the Microsoft campus into a pillar of fire and smoke, wiping from the face of history, in a second, the IT giant that had revolutionised global communications.

Tehran’s purchase of Taep’o-dong-2 ballistic missiles from North Korea, whose estimate range is 3,500-4,000 km., were delivered in August, 2007. Mahoud Ahmadinejad declared the countdown had begun for the demise of the Zionist state. Russian president Vladimir Putin was aware of these deliveries in May, 2007.

What no-one new, outside of Iran, was that the entire episode was a monstrous bluff. Iran had never intended to use these weapons, knowing that they could not penetrate, nor reach, the home of the “Great Satan”. Putins efforts to sell upgraded armaments to Iran had come to nothing, and his bluster and threats arising from US planned radar and anti-missile missiles in Eastern Europe was just that, - bluster.

The US second strike capability was instantly deployed, and much of the Middle East became a land of tektites. Israel immediately launched it’s considerable arsenal, beating the US missiles to landfall by almost 90 seconds

Inexplicably, several rogue nuclear explosions were recorded over 10 major Russian cities and military installations, and 15 explosions were also recorded over Chinese cities and military installations. North Korea was vaporised, as was Pakistan.

It was 0803, Hawaii time. Ten minutes.

Three million Americans dead. And not a trace of the assault fleet remained on the surface of any ocean.

Vice-President Elect Gavin Newsom was in his bedroom at home in Pacific Heights, his window overlooking the Golden Gate and the Marin bluffs. He thought he heard an oddly loud crack of thunder and saw a flash reflected on the hills across the inlet, but it was a clear day and nothing else seemed out of place. He continued packing for the return trip to Washington, his second since the election, to continue his transition briefings and begin organising his staff. His nomination as Hillary's running mate had come as a huge surprise, and he was elated.

Someone rapped on the door, loudly, twice, and without waiting for a reply the senior Secret Service officer on his detail opened it and stepped quickly in. "Come with me, now," he said. Gavin was startled. "I need to finish packing," he replied.

"No time, sir. Something has happened. Very big. I fear. No details yet. We have to get you out of here, NOW! RIGHT NOW! GO! GO! GO!" He grabbed Newsom's arm, swung him around, and pushed him out the door, where two other Secret Service agents flanked him down the stairs and out to a running black Suburban waiting in the garage. They pushed him into the back seat, jumped in, and the driver gunned the engine, out the drive, down the street, tires squealing. Nobody spoke until they were headed over the Bridge, northbound at seventy-five miles an hour, weaving through the traffic which wasn't yet the gridlock it would soon become.

"What the hell's going on?" he finally demanded.

"Okay. This is what I know," the officer said. "The US has apparently sustained multiple nuclear attacks in the last fifteen minutes, including Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Financial district. We're not sure how many, at least ten, maybe twenty. Lots of dead. Got the White House, the Capital, the Pentagon. Our job is to get you on an aeroplane at the nearest functioning airport, that'll be Novato, and get you to a safe place. Prestissimo."

"Where?" Newsom asked. Things were moving way too fast now.

"Don't know yet. We'll get orders."

The Air Force Learjet had been airborne for two minutes when a cell phone buzzed, and the Secret Service captain answered it and handed it off to the Vice President Elect. "It's Mr. Cheney, sir," he said.

"Gavin?" Dick Cheney asked. "Yes, sir," Newsom replied, subdued, for the events of the last hour had sobered up his elated mood considerably.

"Okay, Gavin. I don't know what you know, so I'll tell you what I can. There have been approximately 20 nuclear strikes on government and financial targets in the US, about an hour ago. No real damage estimate yet, except that it's awful. A hundred times 9/11, maybe a thousand times. I happened to be at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and have moved into Cheyenne Mountain to set up a temporary HQ, until we get things sorted out. As you know Cheyenne was vacated by NORAD a few years ago, so we have plenty of space. You will be flown here, non-stop."

"I know you haven't a lot of national and international experience." Cheney had thought of saying that Newsom had none, but Newsom would be too painfully aware of that. He didn't need reminding. "The President is missing and presumed dead. So is Mrs. Clinton. So you may become the next president, in about six weeks. I don't know. The Constitution says the Vice President succeeds a president who is dead or disabled, but it doesn't say what happens if the President Elect dies before being inaugurated. I suppose the Court will have to answer that, if we can cobble one together by then. In the meantime, I will assume you will be inaugurated. You'll have a steep learning curve, a real steep curve. All presidents do, under the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances."

The next day a hard winter storm roared down the West coast from Alaska, pelting rescue workers in bombed out city centres with hard, cold rain, that did not let up for a week. People alive but injured or trapped in the wreckage died of hypothermia before they were found. Two days later, a cold front out of Canada brought heavy snow to the Northeast. Millions were already without electricity, and in a week of subzero weather hundreds of thousands more died. More than four million, altogether. More than one of every one hundred Americans.

Al Qaeda had worked closely with Iran, and had picked December 7 because it was the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour, and because, just before Christmas, the Infidel holiday, it would destroy the Christmas shopping season so important to so many retailers, driving another nail into the national economy of the Great Satan. And it would destroy the festive spirit of the season for millions of Americans, perhaps for all. The perfect psyop. Psychological warfare. And the weather forecasters had predicted severe winter storms on both coasts during the week immediately after disaster.

Al Qaeda and Iranian leaders had calculated, correctly, that by turning up the violence in Iraq during the weeks before the 2006 election it could achieve an anti-war Democratic Congress that would vote to end America's wars in the Middle East, and then by maintaining the violence in Iraq after the election of an anti-war Democratic Congress, it could cause America to set a tight time table for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq promised by the incoming democrat majorities. Al Qaeda and Iran had perceived, correctly, that America would retreat before the unstoppable determination of the Islamic Resistance Movement, the Jihad. America did not call it that, of course. The Americans thought they were just ending a bad and illegal war ginned up by George W. Bush to depose Saddam Hussein who had proven not to have WMDs after all, the ones the Americans had never found, the ones buried in Syria. Al Qaeda and Iran saw it clearly. It was a capitulation, a de facto surrender of the Middle East to the coming Islamic Caliphate that would someday rule the world. The martyrs of Islam had beaten the Great Satan to its knees. In time they would cut off its head.

By Christmas, the American and western economies had imploded. Inflation soared, unemployment soared, businesses closed, cities that had suffered direct hits became ghost towns. Tax revenues evaporated, leaving state governments without funds to pay unemployment benefits or teachers' salaries. With the New York Stock Exchange gone, and London closed, stock trading ended, and values plummeted. Retirement assets and pension funds disappeared in a wink. Nobody knew what to expect. Real estate crashed, and major banks filed for bankruptcy. With the collapse of the American economy, the largest on earth, the most productive country on earth, with just 5% of the global population producing one third of the global economic output, the rest of the global economy fell into chaos. Oil shipments stopped, food shipments stopped, and in that winter millions of people in third world countries starved to death. Vast areas of the planet became radioactive hellholes. A nuclear winter descended.

The America era was over.


"In the spring of 1941, Nazi Germany was poised to dominate the earth. France, the low countries, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, and much of Poland had been overrun by the Germans. All of Europe, save neutral Sweden and Switzerland, was in the hands of Hitler's friends and allies: dictators or monarchs who ruled fascist Italy, Vichy France, Franco's Spain, Portugal, the Balkan countries, Finland, and above all the Soviet Union."

"A single German division under General Erwin Rommel, sent to rescue beleaguered Italians in Libya, drove Britain's Middle Eastern armies flying and threatened the Suez lifeline; while in Iraq a coup d'etat by the pro-German Rashid Ali cut the land road to India. In Asia, Germany's ally, Japan, was coiled to strike, ready to take Southeast Asia and invade India. No need to involve the United States; by seizing the Indies, Japan could break the American embargo and obtain all the oil needed for the Axis Powers to pursue their war aims.

"Hitler should have sent the bulk of his armies to serve under Rommel, who would have done what Alexander did and Bonaparte failed to do: He would have taken the Middle East and led his armies to India. There he would have linked up with the Japanese. Europe, Asia, and Africa, would have belonged to the coalition of dictators and militarists."

"The Nazi-Soviet-Japanese alliance commanded armed forces and resources that utterly dwarfed the military resources that the holdouts, Britain (with its empire), and the United States, could field. The English-speaking countries would have been isolated in a hostile world and would have had no realistic option but to make their peace with the enemy, retaining some autonomy for a time, perhaps, but doomed ultimately to succumb. Nazi Germany, as leader of the coalition, would have ruled the world."

"Only Hitler's astonishing blunder in betraying and invading his Soviet ally kept it from happening." - David Frompkin, Professor of International Relations and History, Boston University, writing in What If: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been (Putnam 1999) pp. 308, 309.


History is made, wars are won and lost, cultures and nations and civilisations come and go, rise and fall, as much by blunders as by victories.

The failure of many Americans, including many of the leading Democrats in Congress, and some Republicans, to fully appreciate the persistent, long-term threat posed to America's liberties and survival, and to the future of Liberal Democracies everywhere, by an Islamic Resistance Movement that envisions a world dominated and defined by an Islamic Caliphate of religious totalitarianism, and which will fight any war, make any sacrifice, suffer any hardship, and pay any price to achieve it, may prove to be the kind of blunder upon which the fate of America turns, and falls.

Modified.

Benedict White said...

Re Andy, LOL! That said we could, would and did go out to get food during the war, and as were not involved that was fairly safe!

However I was thinking about when it was a great place to be!

Erik, what on earth have you massively long posts got to do with the subject under discussion?

Perhaps you ought to get a blog, then instead of posting long posts where they are unlikely to get read, you can link to them or email them to people (which works) and attract your own readers.

If you need some technical advice on blogging, email me, it is not that hard.

erik said...

Benedict, I am amazed that you should ask that question. You astound me!