Wounded & Dangerous

What do armchair warriors know about combat? In Afghanistan in particular where the Taliban use suicide attacks as a weapon of choice? The murder of a wounded Taliban fighter was of course wrong, it goes against everything we believe in including, as the Royal Marine sergeant who did the killing acknowledged at the time, the Geneva Convention. Still, we have to remember the circumstances they were in. The attack they had repelled was not necessarily over, and the wounded fighter may have become an even greater danger. Shooting him was an expedient of the battlefield.

War is ugly. However I would still have preferred that the Marines did the decent thing and gave the wounded Talib first aid, as they discussed, instead of a bullet. But that’s easy for me to say, I wasn’t there. Nor were any of the other armchair warriors who pour down scorn on them. The Taliban had attacked their position and did everything they could do to kill as many of our troops as they could. Who could be sure this particular Talib, who was still armed, was not a threat? Would you bet your life he wouldn’t still kill you? The Taliban don’t respect the Geneva Convention, they don’t even respect their own lives.

So it’s pointless speculating whether the Talib fighter had surrendered or was even a captive; the Taliban have a record of concealing grenades to blow up themselves together with their captors. Fighting against irregular forces is fraught with danger but even in combat with another western army you can never be sure where you stand. The last time we fought a western army was in 1982 against Argentina, a signatory of the Geneva Convention. In one notorious incident, three paratroopers were killed when advancing under a white flag to accept the surrender of the Argentines at Goose Green.

Were the Marines mindful of that danger? We think of Afghanistan today and delude ourselves that we are on top of the situation, but back in 2011 when this incident took place there could be no delusion; Helmand was a very dangerous place to be. The Marines were coming to the end of a long and dangerous deployment and they had lost comrades to Taliban attacks and IEDs. It was kill or be killed. Let’s not forget either that we had sent them there with inadequate personal body armour, weaponry, vehicles and helicopter support. The stress must have been unimaginable, lapses in judgement inevitable.

I’m glad the Marines have been held accountable. But we must remember that it was us who put them in harms way. We sent them there to fight on our behalf and we are just as responsible for what they do. We should support them and try to be understanding when it goes wrong as in this case. Certainly have pity for the Talib fighter who was murdered, but have some pity too for the Marine. The fact that he was a sergeant in the Royal Marines is evidence enough without knowing his name or background that he was an outstanding soldier. He does not deserve to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Postscript: There is no conceivable risk that showing clemency to this Marine will endanger serving troops as is being claimed. Does anyone serious believe that any British troops who are captured by the Taliban would be leniently treated? Therefore it seems to me that the harsh words of the currently serving generals scorning the idea of clemency is in fact covering up their own complicity in historically under-resourcing the men in the field and is reprehensible.

Careless Talk Saves Lives

Like all good patriotic citizens, I hate my government. Every day they remind me why by a constant diet of incompetence and ineptitude. Bungled policy after failed initiative in badly managed agencies and departments throughout government. And on top of that they wrap me up in red tape and tax me into penury. But as much as I hate my government, and believe me it is a lot, I know that they are not actively trying to kill me. That’s what Islamist terrorists are trying to do. At their training camps, in their radical mosques and right here amongst us, they plot to kill us. Day in and day out, it’s all they talk about.

All that’s stopping the terrorists is my government. Yes, the one I hate. I know that is beyond comprehension and knowing how dysfunctional they are makes it more worrying. It brings the prospect of not being killed down to a matter of sheer luck, and as the IRA used to say, they only have to get lucky once, we have to be lucky every time. So I am totally in favour of my government spying on me and everyone else, intercepting emails, telephone calls and whatever else they want in order to track down and capture the terrorists before they get lucky. I don’t care that the government will find out what I say in private to my friends and colleagues. I don’t care what they find out about me. It’s what they find out about the terrorists that I care about. Any careless talk on their part might give our people the breakthrough they need to foil anther outrage and save innocent lives. Mine, perhaps. Or yours, perhaps.

It is a wonderment to me to see the left-wing chattering classes complaining bitterly about that surveillance. They seem blind to the threat from terrorists who are interested only in killing as many of us as they can. Incredibly, they regard the government as a bigger threat. Given the choice between having their emails read and innocent people being blown up on a plane, they’d sacrifice the innocent people. So I’m not happy about all this agitation over Snowden blowing the lid on government surveillance. What he did was wrong and is a setback in the war on terror. It will assuredly lead to innocent people losing their lives because tracking down and stopping terrorists will be that much harder now they have learned they have to be even more careful.

In short, I resent that Snowden and people like him have appointed themselves the guardians of my civil liberties, especially as the trade-off they have accepted on my behalf is greater risk to my life and safety.

This is not dissimilar to airport security: having our passports and tickets checked, being frisked and searched, having our baggage and shoes x-rayed. What is the left-wing chattering class take on that? Is that an invasion of civil liberties? Yes, of course it is, and I resent it too. But if we campaign against airport security, and like another self-appointed Snowden we disrupt their efforts, the result will be a free pass for terrorists to plant bombs aboard our flights. So a government agent wants to look inside your hand luggage? So what? So a government agent wants to read your emails? So what?

I have great confidence in the technical skills of those working in the intelligence community. I trust them to be able to sift through billions of messages and find actionable information about the terrorists. I am glad the government gave them the funding and the cover to go ahead and I am hopeful the government will act decisively when presented with opportunities. That may seem a forlorn hope given my opinion of government competence, but fortunately any action that needs to be taken will be taken by the security services and I have the highest respect for their professionalism too.

So, Snowden, shut up, you’re making things worse.

Serious question: Is this country worth fighting for any more?

Is a country that mistreats its armed forces so badly worthy of their continued service and sacrifice?

Consider the government’s recent record in its treatment of the armed forces: Troops on active service have been given redundancy notices at a time when they’re still putting life and limb on the line in Afghanistan, what a kick in the teeth that is. Many have been sacked within a year of qualifying for an immediate pension after 22 years service, forcing them to wait years to qualify for a pension again but saving the government millions. Others are being roped in to cover security blunders for the Olympics when they’ve just come back from the ‘Stan and ought to be enjoying some time with their families.

But it gets worse.

Now we learn of a new policy that means veterans from Commonwealth countries who have completed their service in the British armed forces are being deported, even if they have families here, in stark and unacceptable contrast to how convicted criminals are treated. Murderers, paedophiles and robbers can stay in this country once they have served their time in jail, while soldiers are deported once they have served their time in the armed forces.

The world has been turned upside down, the concepts of right and wrong have been inverted.

“Lance-Corporal Bale Baleiwai, a Fijian, served for 13 years in the Army, including operational tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland, winning four medals, exemplary reports from his commanding officers and even being used in recruitment adverts.”

He and others like him are being deported.

“In 2011, at least one terrorist – and possibly up to four – was allowed to stay, as well as up to eight killers and rapists. Also among the total were 20 robbers and up to eight paedophiles, plus as many as four people convicted of firearms offences.”

They are not being deported.

Let’s put this in context. The very people L/Cpl Baleiwai was risking his life to fight on our behalf are amongst those allowed to remain in this country while he must be deported.

If that is how we treat our warriors, why do we think this is a country worth fighting for?

Here are the relevant Telegraph reports:

Commonwealth soldiers face deportation
The foreign criminals we don’t try to deport

Another medical murder averted

Persistent vegetative state.

It’s a diagnosis that can be used for legal murder by starving the victim to death.  These cases always get to me. In this latest instance reported today doctors were supposedly within hours of turning off this guy’s life-support system and his relatives were already choosing the music to play at his funeral.

Telegraph report: Cyclist makes ‘miraculous’ recovery

I have blogged about this many times, here’s my most recent: When is starving someone to death ever acceptable?

Is there no way we can raise awareness amongst the judicial and medical professions, and amongst relatives of those afflicted?

Is there some kind of professional blindness at play here? Or a Harold Shipman syndrome? Are people like Aaron Denham seen as “bed blockers” who need to be cleared out of the way for “proper” or “more deserving” patients? Is it a budget issue? I cannot believe that the doctors and nurses involved in this case would knowingly put this guy to death if they thought he could be saved, so how did we get into this situation? If they honestly believed he was in all senses of the word dead, why wouldn’t they just give him a lethal injection instead of turning off life support? Had they pulled the plug Aaron would have died a terrible and traumatic death. It’s not just the fact of him being killed, it’s the slow and agonising way they would have killed him. Are they happy with that thought?

Please read my previous blog where I consider this subject in more detail. There have been so many cases where doctors have been proved wrong.

Please: Stop Killing Patients.

Oh what a lovely riot

Who are the rioters? Bored youths.
Why are they rioting? Because they can.
What are they rioting about? Nothing in particular.

Let me take you back a few years, back to the 1980’s and Thatcher’s Britain. Massed pickets had become an industrial weapon used to close factories and impose the will of union leaders on employers during the 1970’s, but Thatcher resolved to bring back the rule of law. The police were given new equipment and training in dealing with large numbers of people to clear safe passage for employees who wanted to work and for delivery trucks to get in an out. Rioting as such wasn’t an issue although it became one as frustrations and tempers rose on both sides once they were in close physical contact.

One thing stands out in my memory from that era. The police took to drumming their truncheons in unison on their riot shields, like scenes from “Zulu” where long lines of warriors would pound their shields with assagais to intimidate Michael Caine and his few red coats. Amazingly, it wasn’t throwing bricks or bashing someone over the head with a truncheon that aroused public ire, it was that. The drumming. As tough as the striking miners were, and they did have hard physically demanding jobs, it was absolutely beastly to make them hear the drumming and after many complaints it was banned.

And it’s gone downhill since. The police are hamstrung because anything that is effective in managing large numbers of angry protesters is ruled out because innocent people often get caught up during the event, and rioters know how to exploit human rights legislation after the event. Anarchists have learned how to use peaceful demonstrations either to assemble under their cover and break away to riot, or use them as human shields. And we come down hard on the police. Certainly there are some bad apples for whom the full process of the law must apply, but we shouldn’t demonise them all.

These are not genuine protests and these are not innocent people exercising their democratic rights. This is sheer lawlessness by a violent minority that deprives the majority of honest law-abiding citizens of their own rights and opportunities. And we’ve gone soft on them. We try to police a riot with tenderness and it is the police themselves now who are usually intimidated. The slightest misbehaviour on their part and they feel the full force of the law while we provide the rioters with lawyers at public expense to get them off any charges and win compensation. The system has turned topsy-turvy.

I have a vested interest: it’s not inconceivable that I might be a peaceful protester one day. We’ve all got something to be angry and protest about. For example, I’m angry about the way the banks rip us off, and when they run into financial trouble themselves we have to bail them out with public money, and then despite having run their banks practically into the ground the top directors still pay themselves colossal bonuses, only now in order to make the balance sheet still balance they sack thousands of employees and increase bank charges. But it doesn’t make me angry enough to go out and riot.

Another thing I’m angry about is what has become of our police. The Bobby on the Beat was an enduring icon of British civilisation, but a generation of jobsworths with little front-line experience and plenty of office politics skills have risen to the top and ruined all that. They’ve built empires of pen-pushers with layers of management and turned the police service into a quagmire of red tape, driven by targets and quotas. And with the economic crisis brought about by New Labour and the need to make serious cut-backs, who gets the chop? The Bobby on the Beat. Thousands are to be made redundant.

We need new leadership for the police service and a renewed sense of purpose. And we need to keep every copper we’ve got.

We also need to remind ourselves what is important. These are difficult times and there are millions of ordinary people who have genuine grounds for grievance. Their right to complain and their right to peacefully protest is important, and that right is being put at risk by these rioters. People are being put out of work, small business owners are being put out of business, and communities are suffering. Our rights far outweigh those of the rioters and we have to give the police our complete support in dealing with them. 


You know, if I had my own terrorist organisation I would be fabulously rich. And I wouldn’t have to hurt anyone. I’d just recruit a few people with British citizenship, send them on holiday to north west Pakistan for six weeks (it won’t be necessary to train them to shoot guns and make bombs), then have them arrested. If I can get them arrested by the Americans, I’ve hit the jackpot. The Americans will rough them up a bit (you know, by not reading them bed time stories, giving them cold cocoa at night, not fluffing up their pillows, that sort of thing) and then when they get released and sent back to Blighty they can slap in a claim that their human rights were abused. And our government being so hide-bound by mostly EU-originated laws and an astonishingly simplistic world-view will pay them a million pounds each. I will have had contracts signed with these guys beforehand to split the proceeds 50-50, so ten of them will net me £5 million, fifty will net me £25 million, and the sky’s the limit. What will I call it? Al-Cashpoint sounds good.

MI5 and MI6 pay out £12m to Britons held in Guantánamo

Of course, there is no suggestion these guys were actually involved in terrorism, but if I were a terrorist it would be a great inspiration to me.

Here are some earlier posts by me on the theme of how we treat enemy combatants and conduct the war on terror generally:

How goes the war on terror? A round up of recent news
What part of “We’re at war” do you not understand?
The problem with treating enemy combatants as civil defendants. It doesn’t work.

Dishonouring the Dead

Air Marshal Sir John Day and Air Chief Marshall Sir William Wratten should hang their heads in shame.

The respect in which our Service men and women are held by the public at large is quite remarkable. Royal Wootten Bassett earned the gratitude of the nation and its “Royal” title because of the touching acts of respect residents showed to the fallen returning from Afghanistan, whose hearses by chance used to pass through their quiet town. The contempt in which the Ministry of Defence is held is equally remarkable. The MOD is an institution which has under-performed in spectacular style and has displayed gross incompetence, deceitfulness, and petty bickering on a staggering scale. It deals in denial, cover-up and blame shifting.

In 1994, an RAF Chinook helicopter crashed on the Mull of Kintyre, killing the crew of four and all twenty five passengers. It was described as “the largest peace time tragedy that the Royal Air Force had suffered”. The cause of the crash could not be determined by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, nor by an RAF Board of Inquiry who did not find the pilots, Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook, negligent. Nor was negligence found by the civilian Fatal Accident Enquiry. This was because there was no evidence that they were.

The RAF Manual of Flight Safety AP 3207 published by the Inspectorate of Flight Safety and in force at the time of the accident provided in paragraph 9 of Annex G to Chapter 8 that “only in cases in which there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever should deceased air crew be found negligent”.

This strict rule did not trouble the AOC 1 Group and the C-in-C Strike Command, both of whom were required to give a final review of the Board of Inquiry into the crash. Despite there being no facts to support him, AVM Day concluded that both pilots were negligent to a gross degree and ACM William Wratten agreed with him.

What is known is that the Chinook was a deeply troubled aircraft with a history of mysterious faults that would show up during flight but be untraceable on later inspection. A report two years previous to the crash had cast doubt on the airworthiness of the Chinook fleet. And a House of Lords Select Committee which also investigated the crash in 2002 covered all this in great depth and included this telling account in their report:

Witness A, who was a member of the Special Forces Flight with considerable experience of flying Chinooks operationally, had, at the time of the accident, experienced intermittent engine fail captions on a reasonably regular basis. He had subsequently experienced torque mismatches on an intermittent basis. Pilots were instructed that if the failed captions remained on for more than 12 seconds they were to be treated as though something was wrong with the engine but if they stayed on for less than that time they could be ignored. When a caption came on in flight one of the crew was directed to check engine instrumentation and the engine itself.

Witness A also had personal experience of UFCMs in Chinook Mk1s. In one case over a period of days an aircraft bounced vertically every time it was turned right. Repeated unsuccessful attempts were made to find the cause and the problem eventually disappeared of its own accord. In another case in daylight the lights came on to maximum intensity, dimmed to minimum and the hydraulic gauges cycled between zero and maximum. The pilot reported that the aircraft was becoming difficult to control and Witness A ordered him to land at the first available opportunity. The subsequent engineering investigation found no fault.

In answer to a question as to how much the unforeseen malfunctions occurring in the Chinook Mk2 since its introduction were a matter of discussion among helicopter pilots, he answered,

“They occupied our minds to a great degree, crew room talk was of little else at the time. The crews felt extremely uneasy about the way the aircraft had been introduced into service. This perception was reinforced by the lack of information contained in the aircrew manual, the poor state of repair of the flight reference cards and such like as well”

The full report can be read here.

In all these years the MOD have maintained the line that the crash was caused by the gross negligence of the pilots when there is no evidence whatsoever to support that line, and plenty of evidence to suggest a failure on the aircraft may have been the cause.

The MOD in this matter have displayed every aberrant behaviour that has earned it the contempt of the public, but Day and Wratten plumbed new depths in blaming two hapless pilots in order to deflect criticism from the MOD.

The US Supreme Court rules that ignorance of the law is an excuse

Nearly fifty years ago the US Supreme Court ruled in Brady v Maryland that prosecutors were required to turn over to the defense any evidence favourable to the accused and material to his guilt or punishment. The so-called Brady requirements. The Court has now undermined those requirements in Connick v Thompson by finding that a District Attorney’s office was not liable for failing to train its lawyers about this duty. In other words, inexperienced lawyers recruited into the DA’s office straight from law school were able to suppress evidence that would have proved the innocence of an accused man and the DA, who himself didn’t understand what Brady required, and others on his staff who didn’t know or didn’t care about it either, have been exonerated by the Supreme Court.

It means that an important protection against injustice has been removed because while the law stipulates the Brady requirements, it doesn’t seem to matter if lawyers don’t know about them or their scope and nobody makes any effort to train them about what they need to know.

It’s not a purely academic matter as the astonishing details of the case reveal.

Thompson was arrested for a murder he did not commit, despite bearing no resemblance to the eyewitness description of the killer. When his photo appeared in the newspapers after the arrest, the father of three siblings who had been the victims of an armed robbery showed the photo to his children who identified him as their attacker. They then went to the police station where the children picked out an identical photo of Thompson in a “photographic lineup”.

In the scuffle that took place during the robbery, some blood from the attacker stained the trouser leg of one of the victims. This stain was found to be blood type “B”. Thompson was type “O”.

The date for Thompson’s murder trial had already been set, but the DA’s office switched the order because they had a plan. He was to be tried for the robbery first with the deliberate intention that his conviction would prevent him from taking the stand in his own defence at the murder trial. Furthermore, a lengthy prison sentence for a robbery conviction would be used as grounds to demand the death penalty for the murder. This strategy worked. And as Justice Ginsburg wrote in dissenting:

During jury deliberations in the armed robbery case, Williams, the only Orleans Parish trial attorney common to the two prosecutions, told Thompson of his objective in no uncertain terms: “I’m going to fry you. You will die in the electric chair.”

Thompson spent 18 years in prison, 14 of them in an isolation cell on death row, and came within a month of his execution before a private detective found the first piece of missing evidence, the results of the blood test. Not only had the DA’s attorneys failed to notify the defense of the blood test, but they removed the sample and later destroyed it. That would have cleared him of the robbery charge.

In the murder trial that followed, they withheld the eyewitness statement which described a different man as well as tape recordings of another witness negotiating with the family of the murder victim who had offered a reward, and evidence that the other key prosecution witness (who was most likely the real killer) had given contradictory statements to the police. Thompson was never able to challenge any of that because he didn’t know about it despite the Brady rules requiring that his defense attorney must be told. He was stitched up.

He was sentenced to 49.5 years without parole for the robbery, and as a result the DA was able to urge that with a near-life sentence already, the only way to punish him for the murder was with the death penalty. The DA and his trial attorneys had every reason to believe that Thompson was innocent on both counts.

Despite a catalogue of Brady violations over a twenty year period, the Supreme Court has ruled that this was a one-off, not a routine practise. The vote was 5-4 that the DA was not liable for failing to train his lawyers.

The DA’s ignorance of the law apparently excuses his attorneys’ ignorance of the law. The Supreme Court says so.

The Majority finding can be read here.

The Dissent opinion can be read here.

Dare I say the US Supreme Court is bad for America?

I must confess to having some trouble understanding “free speech” as it applies in America. I know most Americans see it as a fundamental right, it’s in the Constitution after all, albeit as an afterthought. It’s as zealously defended by its supporters as those who zealously defend the right to bear arms. It’s an absolute with no exceptions. So it’s deemed an infringement on free speech to stop protesters picketing at funerals for military personnel and causing deep upset to those mourning their loss. It’s also an infringement on free speech to stop drug manufacturers buying patient records to use in sales and marketing campaigns without the consent of the patients. And it’s an infringement on free speech to prevent a corporation spending as much money as it likes to influence the outcome of an election.

The US Supreme Court has in the past year ruled all of those things and more besides. It has seized the free speech agenda with a vengeance and ridden rough-shod over any other right whenever they come in conflict. I think these rulings are ill-founded and are doing great harm to America. I know from my experience debating on forums that free speech does not extend to criticising free speech. If I imply that free speech should be used responsibly in the same way that guns or alcohol should be used responsibly, my right to free speech is curtailed. It seems that urging responsibility is irresponsible. I don’t believe there is a right to incite racial hatred, or for paedophiles to groom children, or to tell barefaced lies. But to say so seems to be denying the right of free speech to others.

The problem, it seems to me, is that while the US Constitution created three distinct branches of government – the legislature, executive, and judiciary – the judiciary has strayed too far into creating law instead of interpreting and applying it. Thus the Supreme Court makes rulings that are apparently contrary to what the people wish for, it grants rights where the Constitution never intended a right to be granted, and it removes rights which the Constitution intended should be protected. The most abstruse definitions of “free speech” are employed to trump all other rights and privileges. Take for example, the decision to invalidate a California law intended to regulate the sale of violent video games to children. Where does protecting children come in the Constitution? Nowhere, according to the Supreme Court, and doing so infringes on children’s right to free speech.

I’m not making it up, that’s the reason they gave.

One Swallow Does Not An [Arab] Spring Make

Forgive me for injecting a note of realism, but as much as Western leaders seem in thrall to the prospect of democracy sweeping the Arab world, I am filled with dread at what the future holds. There is much heady talk of the benefits of the Arab Spring, from drastically reduced numbers of refugees fleeing repressive regimes, to a welcome boost to global trade as free enterprise takes off across the region, as well as genuine pleasure on behalf of the soon-to-be-liberated masses and the happiness in store for them. If only.

History tells us it will be different. In too many cases, sweeping away a despotic regime has resulted in a long period of turmoil at least, and bitter civil war at worst. The stages are clearly defined: a population lives under the thumb of a ruthless regime; the regime is removed, peacefully or otherwise, with or without external help; then after a brief honeymoon period they descend into factional fighting over the future of their newly liberated country. It is sometimes a long and painful period before peace arrives.

The scars have barely started to heal in the Balkans after Marshal Tito died and Yugoslavia fell apart, giving us the most graphic example of this process from recent times. Within a decade of his demise, we saw vicious intercommunal wars and the spectre of ethnic cleansing, leading to the fracturing of the country into smaller independent states. So bad were the atrocities, there and in Rwanda, that the international community was moved to establish a criminal court to pursue justice for those who suffered. (Update: Ratko Mladic, accused of orchestrating the Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre, has just been arrested. Daily Telegraph, May 26, 2011)

We saw the same pattern in Iraq. Bush and Blair led us into war to remove Saddam Hussein and liberate the Iraqi people. Once liberated, Iraq descended into bitter sectarian conflict stoked by al-Qaeda and Iran. Only now is a truly democratic government beginning to take shape, after countless billions of US dollars expended, thousands of US and allied lives lost, and untold thousands of civilian deaths. Bush was blamed for not having a post-Saddam strategy, we must not make the same mistake again.

But it looks like we are making the same mistake again.

The Egyptian people threw President Mubarek out of office in an amazingly peaceful revolution, however, the cracks are already showing and sectarian violence is rearing its head. What can the West do to prevent an all-out civil war? We already have a particularly bloody civil war taking place in Libya where Colonel Gaddafi is clinging to power by turning his heavily-armed army against what at first was an unarmed civilian population. Charges of war crimes have been filed against him at the International Criminal Court, as they have also against President Assad of Syria who has turned his security forces against his own population. Similar upheavals are taking place elsewhere, in Yemen, and in Iran where the Green Revolution was ruthlessly crushed. Some of the Gulf states too are simmering with discontent.

When you look across the region as a whole, calling it an “Arab Spring” is perhaps naive.

Instead of patronising words, the West needs a strategy for helping the Arab world transition from dictatorship to democracy and fending off those forces that would destabilise it. In other words, we need a Marshall Plan for the Arab world. We need clear goals, and a clear process for achieving those goals.

What we don’t need is to clumsily stitch this together with the Israeli/Palestinian problem and I believe that President Obama is seriously mistaken in trying to do that. The problem, the imperative and the solution are entirely different. Leaving aside Gaza which has its own added complications, both sides already have functioning democracies; both sides are – off and on – engaging in peaceful discussion; neither side is ruled by a dictatorship. The occasional outbreaks of violence are triggered more by outside agents and causes than from within the two sides. Any updated Marshall Plan for the Arab world which aims to facilitate peaceful change, promote democracy and encourage free enterprise is not going to be relevant to Israel and the Palestinians, and including them will simply complicate the matter and alienate the rest of the Middle East.