View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 2 May 2011

Monday 2 May

A brilliantly sunny day, but for a couple of hours, we had a bank of smoke rolling across the island. The smoke comes from wildfires on mainland Scotland, 50 miles to the east. April has been one of the warmest and driest on record, giving rise to tinderbox conditions. One fire, near Torridon, is threatening properties. As I type this, visibility is back to normal, but around lunchtime we could barely see the lighthouse and the fabrication yard - both only a mile away across the harbour.

I have said what I have to say about Osama bin Laden in my previous post. Good riddance, but no real cause for celebrations. Too many have died, and his lieutenants are queueing up to take his place and carry out acts of vengeance.

The BBC is reporting that certain operators of windfarms in Scotland have been paid to switch the machines off, as their output outstripped the capacity of the electricity grid. I am an opponent of large-scale windfarms, and this licence to print money degrades their argument to the level of ridicule. A waste of money - and on windless days, all of Scotland's windfarms only generate enough power to boil 1,000 kettles.

Osama bin Laden

It is reported this morning that Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted man has been killed in Pakistan. Whilst understanding the feelings of elation and vengeance sought and wreaked, I will go so far as to say that when you chop a head off the Medusa, you don't kill the monster. Another head will grow back, another man will taken Bin Laden's place.

There are a couple of observations I want to make at this juncture.
Bin Laden used the pretext of religion for perpetrating his atrocities. What he did had nothing to do with religion. Any true Muslim will tell you, without even glancing at his religious texts, that murder is not permissible under any circumstances. I object in the strongest possible terms to the vilification of Muslims on this account. Much blood has been shed because of religion - do not forget the continent-wide genocide that was committed on the peoples of the Americas, from Barrow in Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in South America, on the pretext of Christianity. 

Bin Laden got support for his cause on account of the problems in the Middle East, which are seen to be aided and abetted by the United States and its allies. The vexed problem of Israel, a state established through invasion and displacement, is far from being resolved. Israel is a magnet for aggression and terrorism, through its policies towards the people it displaced at the time of its foundation, back in the 1940s. The on-going strife with the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank is a festering sore, which no amount of talking will ever cure. Bin Laden and his allies see one solution: the eradication of Israel and the Jews, putting him on the same level as Adolf Hitler.

Following 9/11, the US attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan, throwing them out of power and replacing them by a so-called democratic regime - which is as corrupt as the night is dark. Nobody likes to have foreign forces in their country, and this presence is once more a rallying point for the likes of Bin Laden. Not just in Afghanistan or its hapless neighbour, Pakistan - where Bin Laden had a base opposite the country's top military academy. Bin Laden's network, Al Qa'eda, tried to exploit the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but their extreme brutality led the Iraqis to expel most of Al Qa'eda.

It is good that Bin Laden has finally gone to meet his Maker, and it won't be the six dozen virgins he will be enjoying this day. But the problems he has left behind, the problems that brought him into the ascendency, are still around, and nowhere near being resolved.

This post is dedicated to the victims of 9/11, and of all the other atrocities perpetrated under the pretext of religion.