As a former head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign Office, I have spent a great deal of the week dashing between television and radio studios to give interviews about the Iran captives. In the first Gulf War, I lived in an underground bunker, working in the Embargo Surveillance Centre. I worked with naval staff and was very heavily involved in the real-time direction of Gulf interdiction operations. So I'd like to think I know a little bit about this stuff.Some would say the sight of the former captives now selling their stories is even more farcical. Others would put it even more strongly. But I digress.
There were farcical elements to the whole incident. In truth, no one -- British, Iraqi or Iranian -- could say whose waters the sailors and Marines were in. The military failure was due to the fact we have nothing in the area between a warship and a rubber dinghy; it reminded me of the Cod War with Iceland all over again (do you remember that one? We lost it).
Still less can I understand why we have warships attempting to collect Iraqi vehicle excise duty. These patrols, maintained at enormous expense to the British taxpayer, have hardly made significant seizures (though some will suggest a deterrent factor). Up the Gulf by ship is not how the insurgents are largely supplied. The looting of thousands of tonnes of munitions from the disbanded Iraqi army was enough to keep them going for many years.Ah, yes. We've talked about that here, too.
On Islam and life in general, including the danger that Sharia Law will be imposed in Britain:
I have never been much attracted to Islam, as my hobbies are drinking whisky and chasing women. But the very many British Muslims I know, some of them very radical, have no problems with my lifestyle or any intention of imposing their religion on the rest of the UK.On dissent in the UK and the BBC's treatment of it:
One thing I note during my week in broadcasting studios is the extraordinary disconnect between the BBC presentation and what ordinary people can see. I was genuinely sorry for the young people who were captives, but there seemed to be very little in the hundreds of hours of BBC TV coverage that would give a stranger the slightest clue that the majority of British people do not think our troops and navy should be there in the first place. Amazingly, Sky News is much more open to dissent and gives much fairer representation to anti-war voices than the BBC.And all this serves as a mere run-up to the column's stunning conclusion:
There's a line in "La Isla Bonita" [...] that had always startled me.I can't help thinking they broke the mold when they made Craig Murray. But where would we be without him?
"Last light I dreamt of some dago" had always seemed a strange thing to sing, even in less politically correct times.
I now see on the [karaoke] machine it was "San Pedro" with which Madonna fell in love, though I'm not sure yet whether it was a place or the holy old fisherman.
I also discovered that the Abba line from "Super Trouper" is not the improbable "When I called you last night from Tesco" but, rather "from Glasgow". Which is -- if you'll forgive me, Glaswegians -- even less romantic.