More conspiracy theories from the loony left

From the Guardian’s Comment is Free comes the latest conspiracy theory from the left that the recent arrests were all designed to distract attention from the government’s troubles:

The severe government-induced crisis in air travel coincided with the call by a large number of MPs for a parliamentary session to discuss the crisis in Lebanon and amid a growing discontent among different circles over the manner in which the Blair-led government had conducted itself during the Israeli war against Lebanon. More importantly, the crisis unfolded as Israel was being dealt the most humiliating defeat since it was created less than 60 years ago. I wonder too whether it is a mere coincidence that only days earlier Tony Blair was criticised widely for once again blaming Islam and the Muslims for the rise in “international terrorism”.

The problem with this theory is that the government is really in any kind of domestic political trouble at the moment.  True, there is discontent, but nothing that is likely to threaten the government’s stability.     

Anyway, when it comes to those arrested, Azzam Tamimi calls on the government to, effectively, put up or shut up:

If the government is confident that it has a case against the detained Muslims then have them tried in a court of law. Instead what we are witnessing is a campaign of misinformation that deludes the public into believing that the group is guilty of what is nothing but mere suspicion and most probably false intelligence from the Pakistanis.

On this, I absolutely agree.  If there is evidence against those detained, they should be tried in a court of law. 

But don’t expect that trial to come any time soon.  Any trial is going to be complex and long-running – both the prosecution and defence will require plenty of time to prepare a case.  To imply that, because the suspects are not yet on trial, the government is undertaking a campaign of misinformation is to venture even further into cloud cuckoo land. 

Update: Mr Eugenides reprints some of Dr Tamimi’s other thoughts, including his classic Hardtalk interview, in which he claims his belief in the righteousness of suicide bombing is so strong he would go to Palestine and strap a bomb around his own waist, except… he can’t get into the country.

TIM SEBASTIAN
So what’s stopping you?

DR AZZAM AL-TAMIMI
I cannot go to Palestine. I cannot go to Palestine.

TIM SEBASTIAN
You simply can’t get in?

DR AZZAM AL-TAMIMI
No, I cannot get in.

TIM SEBASTIAN
Why not?

DR AZZAM AL-TAMIMI
I cannot get in because I am not counted as a Pales[tinian]. When my home town was occupied I was outside Palestine and I just wasn’t counted. I’m not considered by the Palestinians as a legitimate Palestinian / by the Israelis as a legitimate Palestinian. So as much as they don’t recognise me I don’t recognise them.

TIM SEBASTIAN
So this is the reason – the only thing that is holding you back from strapping on a suicide belt is the fact that you can’t get back to the Palestinian territories?

DR AZZAM AL-TAMIMI
You see sacrificing myself for Palestine is a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity.

I seem to recall tales of tunnels from Egypt that are used for smuggling weaponry and people under the border into Gaza.  He’s seriously saying there was no way in for him?

The Nanny state

According to Andrew Sullivan:

Iraqi Islamists are threatening shepherds with violence if they don’t clothe their goats with diapers to avoid tempting lonely shepherds.

Britain’s is the home of the Nanny state, where do-gooders interfere to protect the public from dangers that don’t actually exist.

Clearly, our invasion was not in vain.  The Iraqi Islamists have not only learnt of our ways, but taken the concept of the Nanny state to the ideological extreme.

Lebanon and the democratic peace theory

Michael Totten, guest posting at Instapundit this week considers how the war in the Middle East affects the democratic peace theory

This war in the Middle East nearly demolishes the theory that democracies don’t go to war with each other. Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah’s state-within-a-state, is a democracy. At least it’s an almost-democracy.

(For those who aren’t Security Studies nerds like myself, Democratic Peace theory essentially argues that democracies will never go to war with each other). 

As Instapundit lacks a comments facility, Dan Drezner has opened up the debate instead, leading off with:

Given Hezbollah’s role as instigator, and the failure of the Lebanese army to engage the IDF, it seems hard to code this as a violation of the democratic peace proposition. And yet, labeling this case as an exception carries the whiff of fitting the data to match the hypothesis.

The debate that follows in the comments thread is well worth a read. 

The theory if often used by proponents of democratisation – as well as the more obvious benefits of democracy, the simple process of democratising the globe makes for a safer world. 

Which would be nice, if only the theory wasn’t based more on a hope than hard statistical evidence.  Its credibility wears pretty thin when one looks at the numerous examples of wars that have actually taken place between democracies.

I wouldn’t want to underplay the global security benefits of democratisation, though – I think there is some pretty solid evidence out there to demonstrate that democracies fight each other far less than non-democracies fight each other, and that conflicts between democracies tend to be less severe.

Anyway, moving back to how to characterise the current conflict in Lebanon (hopefully without making any particular comment on the rights or wrongs of the war), I’d argue that it’s a conflict between a democratic state (Israel), and a non-state actor that takes part in a democratic process without yet embracing the ideals of democracy (Hizbullah), which is taking place in part on the territory of a developing but fragile democracy (Lebanon). 

Which, to my mind, means that the conflict is outside the strictures of the democratic peace theory anyway.