Friday, May 27, 2011

Obama 2011 & Reagan 1984

I still cannot get over how so many Irish people found President Obama's speech inspiring or moving or just great. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. I mean, it's not like everyone here hasn't heard the same tale a hundred-thousand times from all the Irish-American visitors over the years. {I've actually been relieved to see some letters to the Irish Times expressing the view that the speech wasn't much.}

Anyway, the President's speech was never intended to be taken all that seriously so I don't have any real problem with it. I do wonder why the Irish government was so keen to organize a pep rally for the American President, but whatever.

It's not a great comparison, but just as a point of interest if you read (I'm sure there has to be video somewhere) President Reagan's 1984 address to the Dáil you'll hear a man who engaged in some blarney/banter, but who also addressed serious topics of the day. You'll hear him acknowledge that the people of Ireland disagreed with him on some matters, but he made his points as a respectful democrat in the manner of a man who believed he was addressing freedom-loving adults with whom he could engage in debate.

I'm only saying this because in the run-up to President Obama's College Green event I heard many commentators refer to Reagan's visit as if it was all Ballyporeen fluff. That clearly wasn't true.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I don't believe all I've heard about Osama hit

Maybe I'm just too cynical, but I don't believe the story about following the messenger who led the CIA to bin Laden. What I suspect is that after a good few years the CIA is now well and truly inside al Qaeda and that there was some definite, hot tip from a live body high up in the organization which led to bin Laden.

Funny enough, I'm also more willing to give Pakistan a bit of a pass than are most Americans. Yes, bin Laden was living near a military school and not far from Islamabad. Yes it seems kind of unlikely that he lived there for so long with no one in the Pakistani government or intelligence services knowing he was there. BUT, that same government and intelligence service delivered Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into America hands, although that was 8 years ago. Have things changed that much inside Pakistan? Maybe they have. Besides, I don't believe the story we've been told

The other thing to consider is that we didn't want bin Laden alive, which is what we would probably have had if Pakistan had moved in to capture him. If bin Laden was taken alive it would have meant (a) he would have to have been moved to some secret prison, (b) no formal announcement of his capture and (c) either a military tribunal to convict him or a circus trial where the host city was under constant threat of attack.

No, bin Laden could not be taken alive, which means from September 11 onwards the United States was doomed to lose the good opinion of Mary Robinson and the Archbishop of Canterbury. A tragedy.