Thursday, March 06, 2008

British police chief: official figures miss out millions of crimes

Surprise! Surprise! Official British statistics on anything these days are about as trustworthy as Stalin's old production figures

OFFICIAL crime figures are "misleading" and "flawed" because they fail to include as many as six out of 10 crimes, one of Britain's most senior police officers has admitted. Ian Johnston, chairman of the police chiefs' crime committee, says the figures used by ministers and police are misleading because they exclude much violent crime and need to be "bolstered" in order to restore public trust.

He said: "People don't believe what the government and the police tell them about the crime figures. "Some of the figures tell the truth and are pretty accurate. But the British Crime Survey [BCS] is inadequate; it's partially misleading. It doesn't provide the true scale of crime in the UK."

Johnston, who is chief constable of the British Transport Police and chairman of the crime committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said the BCS and official crime statistics needed to be overhauled. He said the official figures missed out millions of crimes because of "under reporting". He said the BCS excluded all crimes among those under 16 ? at least 500,000 according to reliable estimates. Many of those offences include muggings, especially involving the theft of iPods and mobile phones. "It doesn't include crimes against people in institutions such as those in university accommodation, old people's homes and hospitals," he said.

Johnston said he had repeatedly raised the problem with ministers and officials, but no action had been taken. He said he agreed with the findings of an independent review in 2006 of crime statistics, which found that 60% of all crime was not reported to the police. According to the most recent crime figures for 2006-7 there were 5.42m crimes reported to police. That would mean a further 8.13m crimes went unreported.


The failure of Latin America

Hugo Chavez's authoritarian populism is closer to fascism; hope for the continent lies elsewhere. David Gallagher reviews Michael Reid's "FORGOTTEN CONTINENT: The battle for Latin America's soul"

Why has Latin America been so much of a failure when compared with the United States or Canada? In attempting to answer this question, Michael Reid's Forgotten Continent looks at all the explanations available. One is so-called dependency theory, developed by economists in the 1940s, which blames "United States intervention and Latin America's subordinate role in the world as an exporter of raw materials".

Then, as Reid explains, there is the idea that "Latin America has been doomed by its culture, and in particular an Iberian, Catholic tradition of social organisation and political thought which, it is argued, is both anti-capitalist and inimical to democracy". Reid also invokes the region's difficult geography, its "Baroque" legal system, its lack of solid institutions, and its deep inequality, which stems from the colonial period, if not before: the Inca Empire was rigidly hierarchical. Reid quotes Alexander von Humboldt, in an essay on Mexico of 1811: "The architecture of public and private buildings, the women's elegant wardrobes, the high society atmosphere: all testify to an extreme social polish which is in extraordinary contrast to the nakedness, ignorance and coarseness of the population" - a stark description of inequality that persists up until now.

Which of all these explanations for the region's backwardness does Reid regard as the most plausible? Always even-handed he says that it is a "mistake to seek a single, overarching explanation for Latin America's failure". The real explanation is to be found in a mixture of all the explanations, in what he sees as a never-ending "contest between modernisers and reactionaries, between democrats and authoritarians".

Reid points out that between 1850 and 1930, many Latin America countries had a very successful run. Their economies were relatively open, exports thrived, and in some countries, democracies looked like consolidating successfully. By 1910, a century after independence, Argentina was, on a per-capita income basis, one of the half dozen richest countries in the world. Immigrants flocked there from all over Europe. Chile was also thriving. German immigrants had colonized large tracts of the south and Valpara-so was one of the world's most prosperous ports.

These successes cast doubt on many of the traditional explanations for Latin America's failure summarized by Reid. Perhaps there are other explanations? In the case of Chile and Argentina, the Great Depression had a devastating effect, as Reid points out, and it went deeper than the tragedy entailed by mass unemployment. Economic failure opened the floodgates of extremist ideology. Both Communism and Fascism had a huge impact, and unlike Western Europe, Chile and Argentina were not cured of extremist ideas by the sufferings of war. Electorates were sold the magic of a quick fix: equality and prosperity here and now. Voter expectations rose, while the capacity of the economies to meet them declined, because of the instability caused by governments trying to force through unrealizable goals.

Generally, in successful countries round the world, voters and governments enter into an implicit social contract, whereby no government promises to, or is expected to, deliver benefits which, though apparently desirable in the short term, will eventually cause untoward economic damage. It is a pact whereby both candidates and voters somehow recognize that "nations, like men, do not have wings. They make their journeys on foot, step by step" - a wise and elegant statement, quoted by Reid, made in 1837 by Juan Bautista Alberdi, Argentina's great liberal constitutionalist. The pact ensures long-term governability and sustainable growth. In Chile and Argentina it was broken after 1930.

Over the past twenty five years or so, it has been restored in Chile. In Argentina N,stor Kirchner, and his wife Cristina, who has now succeeded him, govern very much in the populist tradition of their mentor Juan Domingo Per>n. This leftist-sounding tradition, as Reid points out, in fact owes less to Marx than to Mussolini. The state plays a commanding role, key prices are fixed, and the private sector is at the mercy of a high-handed, corrupt government. Fortunately, there is an implicit pact of sustainable governability similar to the Chilean one in place now in several other countries, such as Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

Where is Latin America going now? What will be the outcome of the "battle for its soul"? Reid analyses the attempts at economic liberalization that have been made under the umbrella of the so-called Washington Consensus. Under it economies are supposed to be open to world trade, and to be subject to market forces, under a rule of law that guarantees secure property rights. The government's role in the allocation of productive resources is supposed to be reduced to a minimum. That implies privatization of state enterprises and withdrawal of sector subsidies or special taxes. The government is also supposed to practise fiscal responsibility and focus its attention on areas such as education and poverty, where it cannot be replaced by other agencies.

Many of these ideas were applied in several Latin American countries in the 1980s and 90s, but they were not always successful. Argentina's economy suffered a disastrous debacle leading to devaluation, deep recession and widespread unemployment in 2001. Reid is right in suggesting that Washington Consensus measures are not to blame for these crises. He thinks - plausibly - that part of the problem was that they were not always implemented together. You cannot just leave one out, like the Argentinians under Carlos Menem, who privatized, and opened the economy, but never practised fiscal discipline.

Reid is also right to argue that governments failed to build strong institutions to bolster their reforms. Perhaps he is too polite to say so, but this failure can be largely explained by the fact that the administrations concerned were corrupt. The Menem government in Argentina looked very liberal to some, but it acted in the old Peronist tradition in its thirst for the booties of power. This so-called liberal government privatized, but did so taking bribes from the new owners, and packing the Supreme Court with allies lest anyone object through legal action.

An interesting attempt to apply Washington Consensus policies was made in Venezuela in 1989. It is a cautionary tale which shows that countries can get to a point where they are practically beyond repair. Venezuela had had a stable, two-party democracy since 1958, but economic policy was always populist and corporatist. Governments got away with it because they could draw on huge oil revenues to finance state handouts, and large state investments in steel and aluminium plants.

Then from 1982 to 1998 the price of oil fell. As Reid succinctly points out, "the ratio of government oil revenues to population fell from a peak of $1,540 per person in 1974 to $382 in 1992 (and $315 by 1998)". Since politicians could not bring themselves to stop spending, by 1988, "the fiscal deficit was 9.4 per cent of GDP, the current-account deficit was the largest in Venezuelan history and the price of everything from bank loans to medicines and staple foods was artificially held down".

Against this background, Carlos Andr,s Perez, who had been a populist, big-state-project president between 1974 and 1979, took office for a second term, in 1989. He realized that the economy had to be reconnected with reality. Unfortunately, Venezuelans had by then developed social attitudes typical of a petro-state. They felt that they had been endowed with limitless riches to which they had an inalienable right. When Perez implemented austerity measures, Caracas mobs went on the rampage, looting supermarkets, particularly near the poorer areas of town. After "thirty hours of chaos", the army was asked to restore order, and over the next three days 400 people were killed.

Perez struggled on with his reforms, but he remained deeply unpopular. In 1992, an obscure comandante called Hugo Chavez staged a military coup against him. The coup failed and Chavez went to jail, but his promise of a return to the free-spending days of old lingered in the minds of Venezuelans. Perez was impeached in 1993, and the next elections were won by an ageing former Christian Democrat president, Rafael Caldera, who idiotically undid Perez's free market reforms. In the meantime the price of oil kept going down. In the 1998 presidential elections, Ch˜vez, who had been pardoned by Caldera, stood on a populist platform, and obtained 56.2 per cent of the vote. The Venezuelans desperately wanted to believe the good news of future welfare on which he campaigned.

Chavez's populist economics would normally have led Venezuela to even greater economic ruin and therefore to his own eventual downfall. They may still do so one day. But his free-spending ways were rescued by rising oil prices. Unbelievably, 1998 was the low point in a sixteen-year bear market for oil. Since then the price has risen so much that Chavez has even been able to prop up Fidel Castro, thus securing an important military and ideological ally, and to export his "Bolivarian revolution" to Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Chavez finances populist, anti-capitalist politicians all over Latin America and no country is now immune from his influence. With his "Bolivarian" dream of uniting the continent under his aegis, he is the region's new imperialist.

Amazingly Chavez gets away with selling himself as a man of the Left. Yet his authoritarian populism is closer to fascism. In Venezuela, the main beneficiaries of the "Bolivarian Revolution" are Chavez's own megalomania, and a new breed of so-called Boligarchs: businessmen who profit from Ch˜vez's hand-outs in an economy in which he calls all the shots. The poor have benefited too, but their benefits are not sustainable. Government price-fixing is already causing acute shortages of staple goods.

Today's battle for Latin America's soul is pitched between supporters of Chavez and those who prefer a model closer to that of Chile, Peru, or Brazil. All three countries are run by centre-left governments who administer a market economy, while focusing fiscal revenues on the poor and on the improvement of education, which in its present state does not deliver equality of opportunity. There is no question which of the two models is able to deliver long-term success. While the petrodollars flow, however, Chavez will be able to seduce Latin Americans at will. Reid is surprisingly confident that he will not be that successful. I hope he is right. Much will depend on the price of oil, and on the ability of other countries to stick to a sensible course.



The "root cause" explanations for terrorism advanced by supposed "experts" in the Middle East - hapless congressmen, gullible journalists and even some "experienced" presidential candidates - are undermining our intellectual and moral clarity in the confrontation with the most reactionary and oppressive movements within Islam. These are the Islamists, in general, and the overtly violent Islamists, the jihadis, in particular. It is worth noting that while all jihadis are Islamists, not all Islamists are jihadis.

Some go so far as to deny there even is a war beyond our making, or an enemy, beside ourselves. Sept. 11, the Madrid and London bombings, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto - everything, it seems, is "blowback," or "chickens coming home to roost." If only the U.S. didn't have bases in Saudi Arabia pre-9/11, the attack would never have occurred. If only the U.S. wasn't allied with Israel and (better yet), if only Israel didn't exist, there would be no terrorism. It's just that easy; change the policies and all our troubles will go away.

The fallacious presumption at the very core of these arguments is that the jihadis don't really mean what they say or, put another way, mean only part of what they say. The religious motivations, the narrative that they give themselves when, say, declaring war on everyone - Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, secularists and fellow Muslims - are ignored in our popular discourse in favor of their political, social and economic grievances.

When considering these grievances, three things should immediately become obvious: They are vast, nonnegotiable and being demanded at gunpoint. Jihadis want nothing less than acquiescence to their own imperialism and genocide, the subjugation of women and minorities, and the imposition of every other provision of their peculiar definition of Shari'a (Islamic law) everywhere, in order to remake the world in their own image. If this sounds irrational (not to mention evil) that's because it is. Commenting on the pathology of Islamists, Egyptian playwright Ali Salim found that theirs is a "culture of death a culture of irresponsibility. It is a culture in which a person considers all the 'others' to be his enemies." Regardless of what we may think, however, these are their beliefs; they cannot merely be ignored or explained away and they certainly cannot be appeased. As Winston Churchill once observed, "a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Ultimately, no concession short of total capitulation or, as they understand it, the victory of "truth" over "falsehood" would be acceptable to their sensibilities anyway.

Their "truth," then, must be rejected unequivocally. First and foremost, this requires acknowledging that there is not a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam; it is a civil war within Islam into which the West has been deliberately drawn. The war now is between the West and moderate Muslims (civilization) and Islamism (barbarism). Blurring that distinction is disingenuous and has dangerous implications. For instance, Islamists do not speak for all Muslims. Yet far too many on both the left and right (the only difference being whom they wish to hate) have embraced "root causes" and/or the "clash," and thus turned a relatively small number of extremists into the only Muslims - the arbiters of what it means to be Muslim. This, of course, is profoundly wrong and insulting to the Muslim world and is extremely detrimental to the cause of Muslim moderates and reformers everywhere who are on the frontlines in the struggle against Islamists.

Second, (and, needless to say), this requires a repudiation of violence no matter what the "explanation." This would be true even if the jihadis only harbored revanchist tendencies, no less the imperialistic aims that they openly affirm.

Third, we must admit that some of the grievances the jihadis cite are real. And it is likely that addressing them will be to their detriment, albeit how much so is usually exaggerated. For example, Middle East peace would not result in an end to terrorism. While it is a widespread belief that the Israeli-Palestinian or, more broadly, the Arab-Israeli conflict is the "root cause" of "root causes," responsible for all evil in the region and all terrorism abroad, this is nothing more than a pernicious falsehood. In point of fact, there were Islamists many centuries before the advent of the modern Jewish state, America and almost every other given "root cause." Their prime motivation then, as now, is intransigent theology which makes the very concepts of tolerance, co-existence and peace abhorrent to them. Thankfully, working to advance peace, supporting the nascent movement for individual rights, opposing the rampant violations of human rights and helping build free societies from the ground up to replace the corrupt and repressive Middle Eastern regimes of today requires neither the argument from or against jihadis, the justness for doing so are reason enough in and of themselves.

Fourth, we must have the courage of our convictions and stand in solidarity with the embattled Muslims who share them. The cultural relativists' argument that liberal democracy is only superior to theocracy in the West is (as French philosopher Pascal Bruckner has aptly put it): "a racism of the anti-racists." These Westerners claim for themselves the inherent and inalienable rights to "bear the burdens of liberty, of self-invention, of sexual equality" while they condemn Muslims to the life envisioned for them (and eventually us too) by the Islamists with all the "joys of archaism, of abuse as ancestral custom, of sacred prescriptions, forced marriage, the headscarf and polygamy" which that entails. These same misguided Westerners claim that freedom, democracy, peace, equality and human rights are just a matter of "perception." Apparently, there is no difference between jihadis and those who fight them, or between liberated and exploited women.

To euphemize and justify such vile notions by way of rationalization and moral equivocation is to excuse the inexcusable.


What Is To Be Done?

by Hugh Fitzgerald

(For those who are not au fait with such things, the title of this article is an allusion to a 1902 article by V.I. Lenin)

Is it somewhere written that the countries of the advanced West are required to admit Muslims into their lands, or to continue to endure their large-scale presence, no matter what new information may come to light, and greater understanding as a result, of the meaning and menace of Islam? It is by now quite clear, to all who are paying attention, that there is something deeply worrisome about that ever-increasing presence of Muslims in the Bilad al-kufr (Lands of the Infidels). And it is clear to those who are a bit swifter of apprehension than others that this has led to a situation that is far more unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous for the indigenous Infidels (and for other, non-Muslim, immigrants) than would be the case were there no such large-scale Muslim presence.

Is it impossible to halt all Muslim immigration to the West? To return Muslim non-citizens promptly to their countries of origin? To impose restrictions on money coming from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere to fund those mosques and madrasas all over the Western world? To do nothing that would openly demonstrate an unwillingness to change our legal and political institutions in response to Muslim demands or a Muslim presence? To do nothing that would, instead, demonstrate the opposite, that is a steely and well-informed and public refusal, to modify our own institutions and understandings, in order to meet demands from Muslims for changes, demands that, even if not met at first, will always and everywhere continue to be made, and made by appeals both cunningly couched in whatever language is appealing (the appeal to "true diversity" for example), or if that doesn't work, in the language of threats of violence, and of actual violence.

Is it impossible to create the conditions where True Believers in Islam, with all that that implies, may have to make a choice between remaining in the Lands of the Infidels, where a "full Muslim life" will only with great difficulty be lead (and there are ways to let the "whisperings of Shaytan" become louder), and sticking with Islam by remaining in, or returning to, Muslim lands.

Islam is not mainly, or merely, a "religion" as we understand that term. It is a Total Belief-System. If we come to see it as the threat it is, to the legal and political institutions that have been created over time, the institutions that we have inherited, and that we have a duty to preserve, then we will be far more willing to consider, and then to take, the kind of measures that have been taken, within recent memory, when a tolerant and advanced people had had enough, had experienced enough, and decided they were under no obligation to continue to endure, for the sake of some theoretical "standard of tolerance" that, after all, is merely a human construct, that they were free to accept or to modify, and not to cling to as a suicide pact. and should not be considered a suicide pact, and indeed did handle such a perceived threat by acting as they did, in the case of the Czechs, with those quintessential Europeans of the civilized old school, Jan Masaryk and Eduard Benes, when they passed, and then put into force, what came to be called the Benes Decree.

Awareness of such things would go a long way to opening eyes to what makes sense. For example, more people should be reminded of the case of the Czechs, with those quintessential Europeans of the civilized old school, Jan Masaryk and Eduard Benes, and the decision, in 1946, to expel the "Sudeten Germans" who had lived, for hundreds of years, along what was then the border separating the Czechs from the lands of Deutschtum, and who had before the war been willingly used by Hitler to whip up Western opinion against the Czechs, and who, during the war, were to a large degree supporters of the Nazis and of Germany, and were like all Volksdeutsche given the same rations, and treated in other ways the same, as the Germans themselves, and not as the non-German peoples of Occupied Europe.

Knowledge of history helps. So do does the study of literature, as it used to be conceived, requiring attention to words, an attention still to be found in the way in which literature is taught in European high schools, for whatever else their problems, European teachers have not yet begun to emulate the fashion, or possibly mania, of American teachers, in focusing the attention of students on the racial, ethnic, sexual backgrounds of authors, rather than on analysis of the words themselves....

Those Muslims who claim to be completely opposed to the idea of "Jihad" as it has been widely understood, and acted on wherever possible, over the past 1350 years, should understand why those familiar with Islam look upon their assertions with a skeptical eye (and those who are the defectors from Islam, such as Wafa Sultan and Ibn Warraq, are the most skeptical of all), given that by continuing to describe themselves as adherents of a Total Belief-System that makes "Jihad" a central duty, they hold themselves out as Believers in every respect. And part of a Believer's duties is that of accepting the duty, central and not tangential, to engage in Jihad to tear down all obstacles to the spread, and then the necessary and inevitable dominance, of Islam.

Those Muslims who do not agree that they have such a duty, and whose Islam is more a matter, not of belief, but of inherited cultural baggage - people are born into it, into states and societies and families suffused with it, and do not realize that in non-Islamic societies they are free to leave Islam, and some find themselves defensive about the faith, and willing to misstate its contents, or to participate in campaigns intended to confuse or distract Infidels, campaigns that often require those "moderate" semi-disbelieving Muslims to offer assurances that they surely know are false, but out of embarrassment or filial piety, keep on making. Those who continue to insist that they are "moderate" Muslims need to do something, anything, to alleviate the fears of non-Muslims. Misrepresenting what is so clearly in the texts, and that form the tenets, of Islam, is not the way to alleviate those fears.

They can start by forthrightly stating the uncomfortable truths about the ideology of Islam, even as they distance themselves from it, and do what they can to undermine Jihad as a duty. If done with conviction, that may, at least in some part, relieve some non-Muslims of justifiable, perfectly reasonable, assumptions and suspicions.

For anyone who continues today to call himself a Muslim (not a "cultural Muslim" and not a "Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only" Muslim), can be held to know the contents of the texts (Qur'an, Hadith, Sira), and therefore the tenets of Islam, and the attitudes and atmospherics of states, societies, families suffused with Islam (many Infidels have been educating themselves, and it is getting harder and harder to hide the truth from, at least, that ever-expanding number of people in the West), and has an affirmative duty, as the lawyers say, to distance himself, not by denying what Islam teaches (and especially the manner in which the world is divided, in Islam, between Believer and Infidel), but by acknowledging what it teaches and insisting that this particular "Muslim" is entirely opposed to such teaching.

Still, one has to make allowances for:

1) Ignorance of the real history of Muslim conquest -- as with the mass killings of tens of millions of Hindus.

2) Ignorance of the actual mechanism of conquest and then, more importantly, of the islamization over time of the conquered populations and of the arabization that frequently accompanied it.

3) Filial piety, including memories of sympathetic older relatives who were quietly pious and did not seem to wish harm to anyone -- such as the parents, for example, of Magdi Allam, who writes about them so touchingly.

4) The desire to spare oneself knowledge of certain truths that would call into question the entire value of what has been, in so many ways, central to one's sense of self, or rather of the self immersed in the umma, or collective, or community of Believers. How difficult it is for those who are essentially not in free societies, subject to the constant din of Islamic propaganda, in lands suffused with Islam, where this total belief-system offers a simple explanation of the universe, a complete regulation of life, and thus a comforting way to organize and make sense of the universe.

5) Among Arab Muslims, their ethnic identity reinforces a desire to protect, to defend, not to question, Islam -- and that can be true of non-Muslim Arabs -- the "islamochristians" -- as well.

These are explanations, not justifications. But they should give slight pause to those who insist that every Muslim everywhere surely must know exactly what the texts and tenets are all about, and should be denounced, therefore, with the same intensity as one would denounce the ideology.

But certain things will have to be done, for those who think they can continue to live within the Infidel lands, where our way of life -- of taking planes or trains or busses, for example -- has already been altered, for the worse, by the threat that comes from Muslims, acting according to unambiguous Muslim texts, attempting to participate in Jihad, not by using non-violent instruments -- Da'wa, demographic conquest, the Money Weapon (which have the same goal, and in the end are even more dangerous to Infidels)-- but rather, violence, the violence of qitaal, or combat, now held by many Muslims to legitimately describe what we non-Muslims have no difficulty describing as "terrorism."

Let it be understood that with every act of attempted or completed terrorism in this or another Infidel country, the position of Muslims in that country becomes ever more tenuous. Collective punishment, you say? No, not any more so than the treatment of enemy aliens during any war. If one wishes to disassociate clearly and convincingly from the ideology of the enemy, there are many obvious ways to do so. One is to work to help the authorities locate, and investigate, and prosecute, all those who are likely to be dangerous, or those who encourage others to engage in violence. It isn't hard to work with, rather than to work against, those attempting to protect the people of this country. Failure to do so, when one is well-placed to do so, should be carefully noted, carefully taken in....

The countries of North America and Western European countries can do much to make the practice of Islam, and campaigns of Da'wa, harder to support, and to make those Muslims who are intent on adhering to this ideology so dangerous to non-Muslims to think again about remaining in the Western world. Benefits can be limited. Foreign sources of aid can be cut. The general atmosphere of continuing refusal to yield, and of ever-increasing Infidel awareness of the texts of Islam and the history of Muslim conquest, will naturally create conditions of suspicion and hostility that are not, to the well-informed, either wicked, or baseless but, alas, entirely reasonable.

More here


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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