Saturday, 28 November 2015
Had a simple meal tonight, consisting of broth, lamb, potatoes and vegetables. A typical island meal in by-gone days. An equally typical meal would consist of salt herring, potatoes and milk. I have also had salt mackerel, instead of herring. Mackerel fishing is easy, you just hang a line with hooks in the sea, and within moments, you'll have as many mackerel as you have hooks. However, you have to salt them quickly. In days gone by, salmon was regarded as the poor man's fish - in contrast to today's perception. If you had to eat salmon it meant you were too poor to afford a boat to go out to sea. Porridge is another stand by - many have it with salt, but I prefer it with sugar or syrup. Stornoway Black Pudding? Too rich for my liking.
So now the Turks and the Russians are eye-balling each other over Syria. Personally, I think the Turks went way over the top by downing that Russian jet. On the other hand, the Russians have been taunting the Turks from the moment they arrived on the scene over Syria, with one incursion of Turkish airspace after another. Meanwhile, the Islamic State terrorists are laughing up their sleeves. Wouldn't it be a lovely coup, if the two big men of the East, Russia and Turkey, came to real blows over this? However, this is all but a distraction from the real issue. You don't defeat ISIS with aerial bombardment. Boots on the grounds are required, and it will have to be regional forces, not the blunderbusses from America or Europe. We are in danger of a repeat of the events in the wake of 9/11, when a knee-jerk response from the USA, however understandable, led to the invasion of Iraq. In my mind, that was the action which indirectly led to the establishment of the ISIS group. Saddam Hussein was a horrible despot - but he had at least the sagacity to get rid of his weapons of mass destruction, turning them into weapons of mass delusion. In 2003, he was hamstrung and virtually unable to move. It would have been better if he had been left in place. However, Saddam Hussein was strung up in December 2006, and nobody bemoans his death. What took his place was an ineffectual government, riddled with religious strife, which allowed ISIS, upon its establishment a few years ago, to quickly take over swathes of its territory. Syria was and is being ruled by another despot, Assad, whom we wanted to bomb out in 2012. And look who is now regarded as a useful despot? The same Mr Assad. Back in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein was regarded as a useful despot, a buffer against the screaming lunacy of Iran's islamic revolution. When his usefulness expired, he was discarded. Assad is useful against ISIS. If and when they are eradicated from the face of this earth, he will be discarded as well. Let's hope we manage this without stumbling into a confrontation between Russia and other powers in the region if not the world at large.