December 20, 2006

Bye bye Belgium? (Robert Mnookin and Alain Verbeke, December 20, 2006, International Herald Tribune)

On Wednesday night last week, Belgium’s French-speaking public television network created a stir with a surprise 90-minute broadcast that began with a news flash that Flanders had declared independence and that the Belgian state was breaking apart. The broadcast was inspired by Orson Welles’s 1938 radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’s “War of the Worlds,” but touched upon a possibility less fanciful than an invasion from Mars. For the reality is that Belgium’s days as a united nation may indeed be numbered.

Belgium only became a nation in 1830 and its union of Dutch-speaking Flemings in the north and French-speaking Walloons in south was never a love match. Instead, it was a marriage arranged by the great powers bent on creating a neutral buffer state.

Where does that Nasrallah get his ideas?


December 5, 2006

Musharraf suggests Pakistan willing to give up Kashmir claim (The Associated Press, December 5, 2006)

Pakistan is willing to give up its claim to all of Kashmir if India agrees that the disputed Himalayan region should become self-governing and largely autonomous, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said Tuesday, according to an Indian television report.

Why should Kashmir be any different than Palestine, South Lebanon, Chechnya, etc….


November 12, 2006

Saniora refuses Hizbullah resignation (HERB KEINON and AP, Nov. 11, 2006, THE JERUSALEM POST)

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora refused to accept the resignation of Hizbullah and Amal ministers on Saturday, hours after the five Shi’ite members quit in protest.

For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here

Saniora “rejects the resignation of the colleagues representing Hizbullah even if he receives the formal written resignations,” his office said in a statement. […]

The government has lost the support of Shi’ites, the country’s largest sect, making it difficult for Saniora to govern. At least nine ministers would need to resign for the government to fall.

There is no reason that the Shi’a should participate in a government that systematically limits the power they’d have in an open democracy. This is an ideal moment to divide the country into its constituent parts as the era of Shi’a liberation gathers steam.


November 8, 2006

Sunnis threaten to pull out of Iraq govt, take up arms (AFX, 11/08/06)

The main Sunni Arab bloc in Iraq’s parliament threatened today to pull out of the unity government and take up arms if the Shiite-dominated government continued to ignore its calls for the dismantling of militias.

Salim Abdallah, spokesman for the National Concord Front, a bloc of three Sunni parties holding 44 seats in parliament, told Agence France-Presse his group had delivered a message to the government two weeks ago about dissolving the militias.

If the Sunni would rather be driven from Iraq than live under majority rule, you may as well get it over with.


November 1, 2006

A TNR Online Debate: Should Iraq Be Partitioned? (Peter W. Galbraith & Reuel Marc Gerecht, 11.01.06, New Republic)

Wednesday, November 1

Dear Reuel,

Thanks for doing this debate with me. I’ll get right to it: The case for the partition of Iraq is straightforward. Iraq has already broken up, and partition simply reflects that reality. The Iraqis themselves endorsed this outcome when they voted overwhelmingly for a constitution that creates virtually independent regions and a powerless central government. Opponents of partition need to explain how they would get Iraq’s Kurds to accept a state they hate and how they would end the civil war between Shia and Sunni Arabs. And, while critics observe that partition does not solve the problem of Baghdad and other mixed areas, they need to explain how an alternative approach might end the horrific sectarian killing that is taking place in these areas.

Heck, we’d like to hear them explain why troops shouldn’t be deployed to Scotland to prevent the devolution of Britain along ethnic lines.


October 24, 2006

Will the Union see its 300th birthday? (Alan Cochrane, 25/10/2006, Daily Telegraph)

Is the United Kingdom heading for fragmentation with the secession of Scotland from the Union, even as it prepares to celebrate its 300th anniversary next year? And if it is, should those who make up the vast bulk of its population – the English – give a damn?

The questions arise following a series of astonishing events, beginning 10 days ago when nearly 1,200 delegates packed the new Concert Hall in Perth – the biggest gathering at a political conference that Scotland has seen in recent memory – to hear Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, deliver his keynote address to his annual conference. His strident call for the break-up of the United Kingdom was cheered to the echo by his adoring audience.

Nothing new there, but what was surprising was what happened next. Two days later, Sir Tom Farmer, the founder of the Kwik Fit chain of exhaust and tyre depots, told the world that Scottish independence was “inevitable”.

His words followed hard on the heels of the announcement by this self-same self-made man that he was donating £100,000 to the SNP’s coffers to help it fight next year’s elections to the Edinburgh parliament. He is not alone. Thanks to big donations from emigré Scots, the most famous of all being Sir Sean Connery, the nationalists reckon that they will have at least as much to spend next May as Labour.

On the same day as Sir Tom’s prediction came another extraordinary intervention, not from a captain of industry, but a prince of the church – Cardinal Keith O’Brien, spiritual leader of Scotland’s 800,000 Roman Catholics. The Ulster-born cardinal said that he would have no problem with an independent Scotland, if that was the will of its people and, significantly at least in the eyes of this observer, he pointed out that other small nations – such as Ireland – had done exceptionally well since gaining their independence.

Although they insist that it is not entering the political arena, the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Scotland enjoys a decidedly rocky relationship with Scottish Labour, lambasting the devolved administration for what it sees as the Scottish Executive’s “anti-family” policies, such as those on same-sex “marriages”, gay adoption and contraceptive advice to under-age schoolgirls. Neither Sir Tom nor Cardinal O’Brien has endorsed the SNP, but their espousal of independence has confirmed the growing trend towards separatism.

The interesting thing is not the truism that separation is inevitable, but that this is the exact opposite of the sort of European Union that intellectual elites thought was inevitable.


September 11, 2006

Ignatieff: Liberal saviour or sorcerer? (CHANTAL HÉBERT, 9/11/06, Toronto Star)

Now that [Michael] Ignatieff has used the Quebec Liberal leadership debate to firm up his promise to enshrine Quebec’s status as a nation in the Constitution, there is little middle ground left between those two conflicting conclusions.

Either the Liberals believe, as Ignatieff insisted yesterday, that enshrining Quebec’s national character is something that simply has to be done, regardless of the enormous difficulties involved. Or else they will have to agree with Bob Rae that the chances of success of such an enterprise are so slim that they are not worth the immense risk to the fabric of the federation.

In their hearts, there is nothing that most Quebec Liberals would like better than to campaign on Ignatieff’s promise in the next federal election. For more than 20 years in Quebec, their party has been seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution to the definition of the province’s place in the federation. Over that period, the federal Liberal party has virtually disappeared from francophone Quebec. In Quebec City, where the debate was held yesterday for instance, a measly 9 per cent of voters supported Paul Martin in the last election.

The enduring failure to arrive at some form of constitutional accommodation with Quebec has also fuelled the sovereignty movement and made impossible any attempt at comprehensive institutional reform at the national level.

People who thinks of themselves as a nation are one.


September 4, 2006

Republic of Srpska referendum “unavoidable” (BE92, 4 September 2006)

Milorad Dodik said that an independence referendum for the Republic of Srpska is unavoidable.

According to the RS Prime Minister, the referendum is unavoidable because of the inability to keep Bosnia-Herzegovina unified in the long-term.

Once you start dividing along ethnic lines it’s not easy to stop.


August 29, 2006

Indepedenzia Day: The Basque people may disapprove of ETA’s tactics, but they are still determined to gain independence. (Sarah Wildman, 08.25.06, American Prospect)

Every year, in the Basque city of San Sebastian, demonstrators seeking independence gather hours before the commencement of “Semana Grande,” a week-long festival of bull fights, outdoor concerts, and fireworks. In years past, it wasn’t uncommon for Molotov cocktails to be lobbed from the crowd towards the police, who responded in kind. Last summer 20 protestors were injured — hit by rubber bullets fired by the police when the crowd grew violent. The day before this year’s protest, a Basque woman in her late twenties told me that, throughout her teens, violent clashes with the police took place frequently. She would be minding her own business in Parte Vieje, the old city, and suddenly a Pamplona-like stampede would come rushing down the street and sweep her up. She would then dive into the nearest bar, whereupon the barkeep would quickly rattle down the metal “We’re closed” cage until the violence ceased.

This year was the first Semana Grande protest since the violent Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or Basque Homeland and Freedom) announced its ceasefire back in March. Hours before the demonstration, many in town weren’t sure it would take place — Madrid’s famous Judge Baltazar Garzon initially banned the protest, accusing ETA’s political arm, Batasuna, of organizing the event. In the end, ETA’s signature snake and axe were nowhere to be found. Only the flag of Euskal Herria, the Basque region, remained.

ETA may not have been there (though members were spotted in the crowd by the local media), but the Basque quest for independence appears undimmed.

A people who think of themselves as a nation are one.


August 27, 2006

Poll: SNP set to seize power at Holyrood (EDDIE BARNES, 8/27/06, The Scotsman)

ALEX Salmond is on track to take Scotland to the brink of independence, according to a startling new poll which shows the SNP has opened up a clear lead over Labour.

With just eight months to go until the Holyrood elections, the party has established a four-point lead over its nearest rivals, and appears to be pulling away.
Click here to find out more!

The SNP claims that if the poll result was repeated at voting booths next year it would eradicate Labour’s majority at the Scottish Parliament.

If Salmond becomes First Minister, he has pledged to introduce a bill for an independence referendum within 100 days of taking up office.

Our own Democrats still think this is an ideal time to be a party of the Left in the Anglosphere?