War, what is it good for?


1st December


I am writing this on the eve of the parliamentary vote that if ‘AYE’ will commit Britain to adding its military might to the French, American, and Russian air strikes against ISIL in Syria. I have been pondering the complexity of the issue. Listening to and reading the contributions from the many commentators exposes the lack of a consensus and the mess both politically and militarily that is Syria. Do I have an opinion? Everyone has an opinion though few seem to reflect that of those who have fled the country seeking sanctuary from the murder and mayhem.

The overarching opinion of the pundits suggests that air strikes alone are futile, and from refugees that they are indiscriminate. The death toll continues to rise while the Assad Regime, which unleashed this murderous intent, survives. Refugees see no resolution from the conflict without the removal of Bashar Assad’s Regime.

A British Army Officer, retired, added his voice to the call for military intervention on BBC’s Radio 4.He reinforced his argument sighting the success of British military action in providing an outcome in N.Ireland that led to the Good Friday Agreement. Jesus wept as did I in frustration at the blinkered view of one qualified in warfare not peace. The British Military intervention over a 30 year period, supported by the government, judiciary, and police, promoted a flawed policy that saw: the imprisonment and death of innocent victims, the nurturing of terrorist and paramilitary objectives and boosting of their ranks, and elements of which still haunt our society today.

Each successive British government from Jim Callahan’s (1970’s) to Tony Blair’s Labour Party (1990’s) had open lines of communication with the IRA and UDA. Thatcher stated that she would not negotiate with terrorists, while behind the scenes diplomacy and negotiation was key to a long-term solution to the open sore that ailed our society. The recent death of Fr. Gerry Reynolds brought focus on those who had worked diligently, out of the spotlight, in pursuing a resolution to a fractious war, with a common consensus that terrorism could neither be beaten nor succeed in it’s objectives. From this potted local history perspective I would conclude that, in my opinion, the ‘War on Terror’, now in its 15th year, is unwinnable.

What approach to take with a disparate grouping of murderous barbarians, ISIL, Boko Haram, AQ, Shabaab, and others no doubt, when the general consensus is that air strikes will have no positive outcome. The ‘boots on the ground’ proposal offers its own set of complexities, while diplomacy may be a rank outsider but ultimately it will have its moment.

Are the real criminals in all conflict not those who manufacture and supply weapons that are designed to eliminate human beings whilst making profit for CEOs and shareholders?


2nd December: We are at war. I will probably take some flak for my views but that will harm no one.



War and Peace


The Balaclava, was a knitted woollen helmet produced by the good ladies of the Empire for British soldiers during the Crimean War. Sent during the winter of 1854 to provide warmth and the comfort of knowing they were still remembered back home, while they laid siege to the strategic port of Balaklava on the Black Sea.

In later years it became the headgear of adventurers, walkers, climbers, and of course school children during a brisk British winter. My own kids, in their days of innocence, wore bright red balaclavas to keep their little heads warm during the cold, dark winter months. Their little faces and rosy cheeks framed in an oval of wool provided a familiar snapshot of childhood.

The design has evolved and is now de rigeur kit for any self respecting terrorist. The many paramilitary groupings in N.Ireland donned the now familiar headgear to secure their anonymity while also achieving the sinister threat of their presumed status. Murals on gable walls portrayed these factions with redtop slogans: ‘Prepared for Peace, Ready for War’ showing armed and uniformed fighters wearing black balaclavas and gloves, obviating the need for the street artist to attempt faces and hands.

The anonymity the Balaclava provided was so successful that Police in many countries have adopted the fashion. Footage of Riot police in the Robocop Hollywood style adaptation of the uniform can be seen cracking skulls with impunity. This masking of identity is sinister since public servants are paid to uphold the law yet their transgressions are above the law; the MET’s actions during the G20 summit in London, 2011 for example: ID no’s removed, kettling, and manslaughter.

Islamic State is another proponent of the Balaclava. Their quasi-religious zeal and logic plucked from the medieval mind of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi lacks any empathy for human kind. Ubiquitous images of marching jihadi’s in black Spiderman uniforms further demonstrates this desire to be anonymous.

A question for the Balaclava wearer: If you are to represent the law you uphold, or the righteousness of the path you tread, of the necessity for the rest to follow, then why hide your face?

All of the above is an opinion, one of 7 billion. The issue of Arms Manufacture and distribution has to be high on the agenda of how we as human beings move forward. The world seems awash with ingenious methods of murdering our fellowmen, which begs the question: Who profits from this in real terms?

War or Peace?


War. Wars give Government a sense of purpose and good media copy. We do wars well. We have devised weaponry down the generations for face-to-face combat and remote assassination. Children of the digital age are proficient at virtual war on their games consoles some graduating to actual combat. Images of drone strikes half way across the world delivered by an operative in a bunker in the Nevada desert are common and will become more so as the technology develops. Faceless combatants murder innocents in cases of mistaken identity. Collateral damage? No no. MURDER

Who are the winners in this war? Certainly not human beings. An increasing humanitarian crisis ensues of displaced peoples, of woman and children whose security has been robbed in the name of security, whose innocence is not considered by those who perpetrate these obscenities.

It’s not surprising that the Arms Industry is a global leader. Their agenda does not factor in the devastation to human life they facilitate, or the misery they cause. The numbers don’t figure on the bottom line. Investors, shareholders and governments are the beneficiaries not those on the delivery end of the product Such blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life can only be described as evil. Is there another word?

Peace. Now there’s a word we’ve bounced about in our vocabulary for a million generations. And, as yet, seem to have either misplaced or misunderstood it’s meaning. Our culture is awash with symbolism purporting to address our conviction. T-shirts, flags and Christmas cards emblazoned with the word amount to no more than lip service to the potential. Gatherings of protestors, revellers and photo op’s feature the two-fingered salute that signifies ‘Peace’. All this amounts to little more than pissing into the wind. Meanwhile religion offers an afterlife ‘kingdom of heaven’ to all who follow their tenets. What about ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’? Just another slogan to entice the gullible?

How refreshing and what a privilege to have been a delegate at ‘A Time for Peace” with Prem Rawat in Dublin. The clarity and focus of his presentation leaves me in no doubt that this man knows exactly what peace is and how to open human beings to the possibility of actually achieving it in their own lives.


“ When people are at peace the world will be at peace”.  Prem Rawat




Is there anybody out there?



The search continues unabated for extra terrestrial life out there in the vastness of space. Radio telescopes are the explorer’s tool of choice. These giant dishes point at the sky in search of faint signals, which may indicate other intelligent beings in some far flung corner of the universe.

Using the Drake formula Astronomers have concluded that there are 50,000 exoplanets capable of sustaining some form of extra terrestrial life. Now Frank Drakes formula, for those of a scientific or mathematical bent, is based on assumptions and probabilities.



OK so far?

The boffins may rightly take exception to my take on their research, but the variables are invariable. For instance, I dare suggest that after 120 years of wireless communication we are novices in harnessing radio signals, having only recently upgraded from amplitude modulation to frequency modulation. So it’s a big ask that somewhere out there ET has the ham radio set in the attic tuned to a similar waveband. That so much energy is invested in this quest raises more questions than it can hope to answer. Even assuming we receive a signal from deep space what will be the response? A new generation of intergalactic CB enthusiasts,

”Breaker, Breaker First Mama “4 10” Big Dipper”

The more likely outcome will be the Ukippers of the planet screaming from the rooftops about health tourists, state scroungers and job thieves.

“Oh yes, we in Britain know all about that. So don’t think you’ll be welcome here with open arms intelligent or not!”

Any Intelligent Extraterrestrial checking out planet Earth will already have concluded that current world events don’t add up to a tourist friendly location not even for residents.

“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.”      Humphery Bogart as Rick in Casablanca.

Thanks for that Rick, but we are talking seven billion isn’t that a game changer?



No paddies


As human beings we are prisoners to the past and aspirants to the future, yet though we live in the present we rarely spend much time there. The misdeeds of recent history haunt our waking hours. We instigate enquiries and commission reports in an effort to gain ‘closure’. I wonder aloud if this is the serpent eating its own tail.

Ireland is in the news, President Michael D Higgins was this week on a State visit to Britain at the invite of the Queen. This is the first head of the Irish State to be honoured with the full pomp and ceremony of such an occasion. This follows on the heels of the State visit the Queen made to Ireland in 2011 at the invitation of the then President, Mary McAleese.

The Great Hall at Winsor Castle was the venue for the evenings Banquet and speechifying. Ah, but there was an elephant in the room. To the anger and consternation of some in N.Ireland the Deputy First Minister Martin Mc Guinness was also an honoured guest. The alleged Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Republican Army, who were responsible for terrorist atrocities, was in good company. The ex Commander-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment, who also ran a campaign of terror in N.Ireland, was present. I am sure Prince Charles and Martin rubbed along rightly, whilst sipping on Talisker and Black Bush.

Long may the talking last and maybe, ex Minister of State for N.Ireland, Peter Hain’s proposal that we draw a line under the past will take root.

Is it naive to hope for a peaceful world? Is it naïve for humanity to expect such an outcome when we are still producing and refining weapons that will dispatch efficiently those whom we label our enemies?

“ To take away a life must always be the ultimate unpardonable act of censorship.” John McGahern

“ I believe that peace will be humanity’s greatest achievement.” Prem Rawat