Monday, February 06, 2006

Who else is involved?

To stiffen the sinews and add purpose to my existence I have been re-reading John Buchan’s novels. (Actually, they often make one feel tired and inadequate, but let that pass.)

Aficionados will recall that most of the novels (and my own favourites are the Hannay and Leithen series) have somewhere near the beginning a discussion of a random set of events that somehow fit together into a sinister pattern. Almost always behind those events there is a person or a group of people manipulating those who think they are acting on their own.

The reason these plots do not become stupid and tiresome conspiracy theories is because Buchan, a man who knew politics from personal experience, always understood that there were many other unforeseeable events happening as well and even the smartest conspirators could not count on everything to develop as planned.

I am not for one moment suggesting that there is a world-wide conspiracy behind the War of the Danish Cartoons (though I have no doubt some of our readers will think of one or two or a hundred). But clearly there are different forces at work.

Demonstrations of this kind, whether it is a march with prepared placards from the Regent’s Park mosque to the Danish Embassy (a long way, incidentally, in London) or crowds bused from all parts of Beirut and outside it to burn the embassies, have to be planned, financed and organized. Spontaneous demonstrations always fizzle out.

So, let’s go through some of the groups and people who might be doing some organizing. No question but Iran is dabbling in it somewhere, though interestingly, the mullahs opted not to have demonstrations in the country itself. This could be a waiting game – we can do it but choose not to – or it could be the result of some unease about getting crowds together and firing them up. Who knows against whom they might turn next?

Baby Assad got his lot together, first in Damascus then in Beirut (yes, I know the Syrians have formally left Lebanon but their agents go marching on). Could it be yet another effort on his part to delay his coming demise (political or otherwise)? Another civil war in Lebanon as one of our readers has posited on the forum would be enormously useful to him.

Riots in Gaza – we have talked about those before. Apart from that, demonstrations in some countries like Pakistan and Indonesia but not very big ones. Saudi Arabia might be promoting the boycott but there are no riots in the country itself. Nor in various other Arab countries, despite the growing need to turn attention away from such enormous events as the annual stampede during the Hajj to Mecca, which always seems to result in several hundred dead and the more recent ferry disaster in the Red Sea. Over 1,000 people seem to have died while the captain and officers managed to escape.

Outside the Middle East, as we have pointed out, in one place only: London, which is interesting as Britain has not been in the vanguard of defiance or support for free speech. Are we now seen as a soft touch by all those groups of Islamicists? Is the name Londonistan better deserved than we realized? I ask merely because I want to know.

There is, however, another aspect to the London demonstrations that has not, so far as I know, been noted by anyone. The placards, presumably handed out at the Mosque on Friday and carried down to Sloane Street, all seem to have been written by one hand.

That would not be a problem by itself. But I suggest close attention to what is said on them. These are not placards written by people whose second language is English, who are not educated or unable to put sentences together and can only rage impotently.

The words, the slogans, the sentences are all carefully written by someone who is English or has lived here all his life (I doubt it was a woman) and someone well educated. Words like “annihilate”, “behead”, “holocaust”, “massacre” are not easy to spell.

Slogans like “Europe is the cancer, Islam is the answer” do not come from the Koran or the teachings of the average imam. Or what of this: “Europe you will pay, Fantastic 4 are on their way”?

One of the interesting aspects of the big demo organized by the Coalition Against the War was the complete uniformity of the placards and notices carried and stuck on lamp-posts. Furthermore, they were exactly like the placards and notices of the Socialist Workers’ Party. It took some journalists a little time to find the various connections but eventually they did. However, one look at those posters would have given them the clue.

I am not suggesting that there is a Black Stone or a Powerhouse behind all this, much less a brilliant German agent of the kind who gives Hannay a bad time in two out of the five novels.

But I would strongly suggest that some English organization (or just an individual, though that is unlikely) has become involved in the London protests, seeing in them a possibility for mayhem.

There is, of course, another explanation and that would fit in with Buchan’s plots. There may be a maverick somewhere in the various intelligence and security services, who, tired of official inaction in the face of great danger, has decided to provoke public opinion, leaving the politicians and guardians of the law (stop laughing at the back) with no choice but to act. (We wish.)

That may be a daydream but it is a very pleasant one. Sadly, I think the first explanation may be nearer the truth. But I am guessing.

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