Davos Newbies Home

Listen now 

It’s well worth listening now to the parliamentary debate on Iraq. A good example of democracy.

With friends like these 

A friend sent me a puzzle. “If Gustavus Adolphus gloriose pugnans moritur in what year was the battle of Lützen?”

It was easy enough to find out about the battle of Lützen. That’s what Google is for, after all. But the puzzle?

“It’s a chronogram. Old inscriptions are full of them.” gVstaVVs aDoLphVs gLorIose pVgnans MorItVr produces 5+5+5+500+50+5+50+1+5+1000+1+5 = 1632.

Browsing around for chronograms turned up this astounding page of 1998 chronograms by Harry Mathews. I liked “In Tirana, inept Hussein is paying fifty-eight qintars to fortify his Istrian wine with Bosnian raki”. Mathews himself has led an interesting life. Hold on: that page is a single chronogram, not a series of them. Look closely and you’ll see that Mathews uses no Ms, Ds, Cs, Ls, Xs or Vs, just Is.

It’s not surprising given he worked with Georges Perec, whose 1969 novel La Disparation doesn’t have a single “e” in it.

The dossier 

The UK government has published its 55-page dossier on Saddam, entitled Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Downing Street website seems to be buckling under the strain, but you can read the full dossier at the BBC (pdf alert).

The introduction from Tony Blair states, “The case I make is that the UN Resolutions demanding he stops his WMD programme are being flouted; that since the inspectors left four years ago he has continued with this programme; that the inspectors must be allowed back in to do their job properly; and that if he refuses, or if he makes it impossible for them to do their job, as he has done in the past, the international community will have to act.”

The BBC has done a good summary, as well as a quick analysis (the report was issued at 8am London time). The analysis takes quite a sceptical view: “In other words, Saddam really is a very bad man indeed and should not be trusted an inch. Taken together, all this may well be enough to sway some doubters, but hard-line dissidents are unlikely to be moved. What the document entirely fails to do — and possibly could never have done — is show that Saddam Hussein is a current threat, or what his future intentions are.”

The House of Commons debate later this morning should prove interesting listening.

One thought on “Davos Newbies Home

  1. Nick Sweeney

    It was, indeed, a great example of Parliamentary debate: forensic, generally well-mannered, incisive, grave. It’s the sort of debate that Blair actually hates, which is why he shies away from Parliament most of the time. But some of the speeches actually reminded me of the days when the Times printed most of Hansard in full. Not a debate that we see in the US, alas, or are we likely to see.

    And isn’t it interesting that there’s not too much difference between the policy outlined by Tony Blair towards Iraq (and the wider question of terrorism) and that put forward by Al Gore in his Commonwealth Club speech? Regime change isn’t on that collective menu.


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