Sometime soon [as you read this, it may already be happening], thousands of American soldiers will flood across the borders of Iraq. Maybe some Brits will too. They’ll probably fight a short sharp shooting war, with some collateral damage to the civilian population and buildings, after which the shooting will cease and the sun will rise on a new day.

            But the sun won’t rise on a set of new problems. Instead, the sun will rise on a new arranging of old reality. The old reality is that Western cultural, religious, and economic values will have been inserted – at gunpoint – into the cultural, religious, and economic mix of a grouping of peoples whose histories and cultures are little understood and, until now – even now – have received little attention.

            But those little-known histories are just as important as they were in Robert S McNamara’s Viet Nam.

            We know of Chechnya today, because events in Chechnya were deemed – by CNN  news editors – to be of interest to us Westerners. Thus Chechnya – its peoples, its problems, its history – was pulled out from under the blanket of ignorance and disinterest and the electrons brought it into our purview in our western living rooms.

            But the people of Chechnya have been at war with their Russian overlords since more than 400 years. Yet Westerners only became aware of the people of Chechnya and their struggles in the 1990’s.  So, today, Westerners see the ‘Chechnyian problem’ as a new problem. But Chechnyians have known four centuries of unremitting struggle.

            The same sort of thing applies to Ruanda where Westerners see the 1995 genocide but aren’t aware of the century’s old system of tribal domination of Tsutsi over Hutu. Or the Kurdish peoples multi-century’s old war for survival. Or Fiji’s one hundred years of friction between native Fijian and imported Indian. Or Canada, where First Nation people seek rights and some redress against new Canadians. Or Palestine, where the brand new state of Israel was created out of the bloodshed of their 1948 War.

            In all of these examples, old histories, past histories, and remembered histories, are as alive today as are the soldiers who await their start orders.

            Once the borders have been crossed and the shooting war has been fought and won, the importance of those many histories will rush to the fore. The deep emotions that keep those histories so vibrantly alive will rise up and little daily frictions will accumulate. These frictions, resulting from the differences in history, differences in religion, differences in cultural values, and differences in social systems, will accumulate and will blow away any chance for the kind of peace that some world leaders have used as the justification for starting a shooting war.

            The leaders of Britain, Spain, and the USA represent less than seven percent of the world’s population and less than two percent of the countries of this world. The other ninety-three percent and ninety-eight of this globe’s inhabitants have not expressed overwhelming support for a shooting war against Iraq. This much larger percentage is made up of peoples whose histories – throughout Africa, much of Asia, and parts of South America – are replete with examples of necessary struggles against invading cultures.

            In our globally connected world, the stockbroker who goes to work on the 85th floor of a skyscraper in any world financial centre is within the reach of any angry activist who – driven by his history – plots against the force that he sees as invading what he feels is his cultural or national domain.

            The Chechnyian, seeking independence, fights the Russian; the Palestinian, seeking to regain landspace, fights the Israeli; the Israeli fights to ensure that no-one – ever again – devalues and maltreats the people of his faith; and the First Nation peoples of all of North America agitate to be treated as complete equals. All of these actions are carried out with degrees of lethality and non-lethality. All of these actions are driven by other actions taken sometime in the past.

            Once the shooting has stopped in Iraq, the next shots to be heard will be the opening shots in an ongoing ‘war of history’. But given the strong religious overtones to this American-led operation, it’s unlikely that the shots in this ‘after-war’ will be kept within the borders of Iraq.

            I believe that there will be a new surging wave of resentment against Westerners. I believe that this new wave will come, not from national leaders – all of whom will utter the correct combination of syllables – but from what CNN and the other Western media have taken to calling ‘the street’. The Arab ‘street’.

            But not only the Arab street.  From many ‘streets’ all over the world.

            I believe that there will be a long “Street War”. This war will play out in an increase in many incidents directed against American [and perhaps British and other] institutions, corporations, and people – who just happen to be close enough, or vulnerable enough, to strike at.

            I believe that it will be a long war. But, lacking the glamour of a high-tech camera-ready war, it will be a war that will not garner much media time.

            It will, though, draw blood and take lives. Many lives. And it is a war that can be avoided, if diplomacy is allowed to play out.

            But it looks as if some modern leaders are so insulated from their own ‘streets’ by their own selected advisors and supporters and by a media process that is driven by a hunger for either a new story or a new angle on an old story; that they do not see the basic human realities – all those ineradicable remembrances – that underpin every political process.

            Today, as in the past, ordinary people do have feelings. The millions of anti-war marchers who loosely coordinated their global activities show that.

            However, today, ordinary people have far greater access to far more power than did their grandfathers and fathers. Today, one man in ‘the street’ can have as much power as a whole army division. That is proven by the carnage at New York’s Ground Zero and the complete shutting down of all US airspace.

            Most importantly and right around this globe, today’s ordinary man is now aware – and has been for some time – that he has this new power. And he isn’t afraid to use it.



Mass the forces. Launch the bombers. Loose the media mavens. Then sit back and watch as “the good guys” smash “the bad guys“. It looked so simple. But it seems that the decision-makers either under-estimated or chose to ignore the growing power of “the people with no names“.            Who are the “people with no names”?            They’re the millions of people whose faces and names don’t fill today’s TV screens. They are not the Donald Rumsfelds, George W Bush’s, or Jacques Chirac’s. Neither are they the embedded reporters describing combat operations in Iraq.            They are your neighbours across the road. The demonstrator outside the White House. The marchers in Melbourne. The rioters in Cairo. And the sniper or suicide bomber from some difficult to pronounce place or clump of buildings or new pile of rubble on some patch of earth somewhere in this world. Maybe Palestine, or Basra, or Grozny, or …            Half a century ago the black American poet, Langston Hughes, observed that people were rising up and throwing off ‘downpressing’ regimes. Hughes wrote: “The folks with no titles in front of their names, all over the world, are raring up and talking back to the folks called mister…”[*]            In the 1940’s the voices of the “people with no names” were unheard. But the “people with no names” talked back at Dien Ben Phu in 1954, in Montgomery Alabama in 1955, in Algeria in 1960, in Zimbabwe in 1978, at the Berlin Wall in 1989…            All over the world, the “people with no names” have continued talking back and wrenching more and more control of the world from the people called “mister”.            Now, the voices of the “people with no names” connect and fly through the Internet; their massed faces are seen on our TV screens; their thoughts stream out of fax machines and pour into ‘talk shows’.             But their individual faces still don’t fill the TV screens. That’s still done by the hired ‘talking heads’ who look back at us while they earnestly analyze or report some minor incident of the moment that some TV news producer has decreed is ‘headline’ or  ‘breaking’ news that must be brought to us ‘live’.              The still unfolding story of this western toss of the dice into the sands of Iraq shows that the feelings, values, and opinions of ordinary people are having a direct and profound effect on all the combatants involved in this dusty gamble.              It’s a long way from the Second World War fire-bombing of the German cities of Hamburg , Dresden, and Cologne.             Now, in 2003, the world’s most powerful nation finds itself fighting a war in which it must so arrange its actions that it does not simply obliterate “targets”; or even rough-up civilian populations.            The world’s superpower cannot be prevented from tossing its smart bombs at will. But it is now forced to weigh ‘target’ value against world opinion.            As the black clouds and bright flashes of destruction of this gamble in Iraq are presented to us by TV’s ‘talking heads’, we are also seeing the power of mighty missiles being blunted and reduced by the growing power of the “people with no names”.            When the shooting ends – perhaps I should say when the shooting dies down – the world’s only superpower will find itself in a new world where its power to act is still not limited by any adversary who possesses equal combat power. Rather, it will find its military power limited even further by something called ‘world opinion’.             You may think that this sounds all fuzzy and ephemeral. But consider this. In February 1945, the Allied Powers mounted a one day thousand bomber raid on Dresden and destroyed that city, killing over 100,000 German civilians as a by-product – what’s now called ‘collateral damage’.            Now, in 2003, using bigger and even more powerful modern bombs and missiles, superpower USA can easily mount a 500 bomber 500 missile one-day raid on Baghdad.  US armed forces, acting alone, can completely obliterate that city and kill an even larger number of Iraqi civilians – in far less time, and with much less risk, effort, and expense, than it took to destroy Dresden, or Cologne, or Hamburg.            But superpower USA hasn’t done that. Superpower USA won’t do that. Why not? World opinion!            And what’s world opinion? It’s the amassing of the opinions of all those millions of “people with no names”. It’s the emerging hidden power that no one sees – but everyone recognizes.            Even Dubya and the whole mighty power of hyper-power USA.             

[*] From the collected poems of Langston Hughes – “In Explanation of Our Times”.



Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. That was 1940. By 1960, India, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria had joined and that first five had grown to nine.

            By 1970 twelve more newly independent countries from East Africa, West Africa, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean had joined. The five had become a minority in a group of twenty-one.

            By 2000, having booted Apartheid South Africa out and let Mandela South Africa back in, the 1940 British Empire completed a sixty-year evolution – not completely peaceful – into the Commonwealth. In this new Commonwealth, that first five had become the minority in a group of fifty-five.

            As the Commonwealth, so the United Nations [UN].

            In 1940, there was no UN.  In 1950, the UN had about fifty-five member countries. Of these fifty-five, about fifteen – 28% – were what might be described as ‘non-white nations’.

            By 2000, the UN had 189 members. Of these 189, about 70% were ‘non-white’ countries like Vietnam, Mozambique, Algeria, Zimbabwe; and some had won their UN places only after bloody wars and revolutions. Thus both the UN and the British Empire changed in the same way. Each changed from being white-nation majority organizations to becoming white-nation minority organizations.

            The war in Iraq and the global regrouping of countries that is now going on is pointing to a new order in which the world – once seeming to be coming together – is now re-dividing along new racial and religious lines.

            Listen to Bush, Blair, Putin, and you’ll hear a troupe trying to form a new alliance of nations that will include the nations of ‘old’ Europe – France, Germany, Italy, etc; and of new Europe – Estonia, Poland, Hungary, etc.

            In turn, these European nations are linking with allies in North America and Australia. Simultaneously, they seem to be excluding other nations.

            The world is reshaping itself into new blocs. The old division of Communist and Free World is giving way to a new grouping of West and Non-West. The West is now a group of nations – mostly white – joining against a majority group of non-white nations. And, adding fuel to a small fire, mostly a global minority of Christians against a global majority of non-Christians.

            You may think me an alarmist. Indeed, you may even believe that I’m seeing possible mountains instead of real molehills.  

            Look at what has happened in Iraq. Here soldiers from three countries invaded a fourth. Now huge, meaningful, and ineradicable differences in culture, religion, race, and history are surging to the front. The old relationship of foreign overlord and native lorded-over seems to be reappearing. In Iraq, as in those now disappeared colonial empires, there is a resurrecting of a ruling race and a subordinated people

            This resurrecting is taking place inside a coliseum where there is already a fifty-five year-old gladiatorial struggle between opponents whose never-ended blood-spilling battle, containing all the hot jagged shrapnel of race, history, culture, and religion; represents the worst kind of battle that can be fought.

            So I’m bothered by what seems to be a heavy-handed American approach to an exceptionally sensitive matter. I’m particularly bothered because the USA made such a huge mistake – that it now admits – in going into Asian Vietnam in 1965. And African Somalia and Arabian Lebanon in other years.

            I fear that the US is at the beginning of a similar mistake – again. And once again, airpower and military power won’t be the tools that will lead to a real solution. As in Vietnam, it will be the slow forward roll of history that will decide the outcome.

            The ultimate outcome? Ultimately, American forces must withdraw from Iraq. Ultimately, the state of Israel – even if it imposes an apartheid regime far more vicious and draconian than the old South African Nationalists – will still be affected by a rising tide of Israeli-Arab babies. In a one-man one-vote society – matching the democracy that the Americans say that they are bringing to Iraq – these Israeli-Arab babies will grow into adult voters.

            Ultimately, by 2010, unstoppable population growth will make the Israeli sabra a minority inside his own embattled and surrounded Israel. By 2010, the population of Israeli-born Arabs – Palestinians – in Israel will begin to equal and then outnumber Israelis.  Ultimately, by 2010, the real balances of Middle East power will have shifted – again.

            By 2010, the USA will – as in Vietnam – have to establish a completely new relationship with a new set of more powerful cultural, historical, racial, economic, and religious values.

            And 2010 is just a tad over one and half more Presidential terms away.


In this ‘cartoon’ imbroglio, most people seem to have focused on the issue of freedom of expression. The Europeans have declared that they have a free press. Europeans, generally, point out that there are no government controls on what may of may not be published in their media.

            The world’s most powerful man – George ‘Dubya’ Bush himself – has come out in broad support of the right of all newspapers to publish freely; but he has also supported the idea that it is not right to offend the sensitivities of other peoples.

            Dubya doesn’t seem to get much right nowadays. In fact, the only thing that he seems to do right is get out of the right side of his bed each morning. I don’t often side with Dubya, but on this one, I’m prepared to be seen as a Dubya supporter. 

            In a free and democratic society, the press is free to investigate what it wants and to publish as it sees fit.  The only limits are those placed by the laws of libel and slander and by the need to maintain credibility for the future. This triumvirate is sufficient to ensure that editors and publishers consider consequences before they publish.

            Equally, ordinary citizens, from Julians to Walters, have a right of expression. They, too, are limited by the same triumvirate of consequences. Those who remember him, recall that the Royal Gazette’s editor emeritus, David White, ignored one of the points, and paid the price by losing credibility.

            Hidden in all of this is another reality. It’s the reality of change.

            Whether the violence of the reaction protests is orchestrated or not, one thing is clear. Some people are mightily offended.  These people’s angry protests are aimed, certainly, at Denmark, but also generally at that amorphous thing known as the “West”.  One common bond that these protesters have is that they are followers of the religion of Islam. The other is their sense of individual offense.

            I was looking through a 1910 Encyclopaedia Britannica [you know, one of those big books with small writing on its pages] when I chanced upon this entry describing the games of the 1904 Third Olympics: “The sports of the savages, among whom were American Indians, Africans of several tribes, Moros, Patagonians, Syrians, Ainus, and Filipinos, were disappointing.  Their efforts in throwing the javelin, shooting with bow and arrow, weight-lifting, running, and jumping, proving to be feeble compared with those of the white races.”

            Today, the word ‘savage’ is no longer used like that.  Many other words have gone out of common usage. So have certain caricatures. Despite all the freedom that modern cartoonists publishing in western public media do have, none would depict black people or Asians as they were so commonly depicted many decades ago. Why not? Because times have changed and values have shifted.

            Yesterday’s ‘savages’ are today’s OPEC Ministers, UN Secretary-General, and providers of  nurses and nannies to the western world.       

            What this cartoon controversy is demonstrating is that all of us on this globe are now more closely connected than ever before, and that all of us need to be more sensitive to everyone else’s point of view. As my Mother dinned into me [and yours into you] – we all need to ‘mind our manners’ and watch what we say and do. We all need to be more thoughtful about the self-censorship of ordinary good manners.

            As a youngster, I took a chance if I publicly embarrassed my Mother. If I did, I knew I could expect painful consequences. If I embarrassed my Father – well, I might not have lived to tell.

            For now, Denmark and the Danes are getting a painful ‘slap in the chops’ because they are considered to have behaved badly. Dubya is tut-tutting and saying that there has been bad behaviour. We’re all learning that in the new global world, what we say and do in our own backyards is heard next door. So all of us are learning, and this cartoon drama is showing us, that we need to be far more mindful of people whose existence and whose feelings we once used to ignore.

            It’s not 1906. It’s 2006. Time has passed and things have changed.


Alvin Williams [Mid Ocean News 05 May 06] was critical of my comments about Bermudian disrespect for Bermuda’s flag. In his piece, he referred to people who would “…understand what obligations they owe their country and its symbols….”

             Kenya is a black African nation, and won its independence in 1963. At midnight, December 11th 1963, the new Kenyan flag – a red, black and green flag with two crossed spears behind a shield – was unfurled. The flag of this independent black African country was in the line of sight between myself and the Bermuda flag on the other side of the Exhibition grounds.

            If nothing else, I would have stood for the lowering of that Kenyan flag. To stand is to “understand” and show “what obligations” I have and that I owe to my country – with or without my own country’s flag symbol.

            The Kenyan flag wasn’t the only flag flying. In my article, I named three other countries – all black, all independent. All were disrespected.

            The disrespect came from ignorance. Not standing is the same as me – or Mr Williams – NOT STANDING when the Kenyan national flag is being lowered in Kenya’s national stadium at the end of a Kenyan national event.

            I wouldn’t sit then. I think that even Mr Williams would stand. Or…would he?

            Respect is a general thing. It is either rendered unconditionally, or not at all. There’s no such thing as half-respect.

            Mr Williams: “…until Bermuda becomes an Independent nation with its own new flag, people will not identify with the existing national flag.”

            I am a Bermudian. I have lived and worked in many environments where the only thing that identified me as the lone Bermudian was the one word ‘Bermuda’ on a brass cap badge. The “Bermuda flag” that was waving so prominently at the 20-20 Cricket final is the only way that Bermuda can identify itself as a separate country amongst the 200 other nations of this world.

            Do we have other ‘Bermuda’ symbols? Things that would enable any Bermudian, anywhere else in the world, to identify the other person as a “Bermudian”.

            What about someone dressed in red Bermuda shorts, yellow tie, blue shirt, and navy-blue blazer, walking down some Main Street somewhere in the world? You would know – without the slightest doubt – that’s a “Bermudian”!

            What about someone standing in a football crowd of 75,000 and holding up a large ‘Gosling’s Black Seal Rum’ flag. You would know – that’s a “Bermudian”!

            You’re walking down the street in some little corner of the world and someone shouts: “Hey, Bye!”  That’s a fellow Bermudian calling!

            National identity is something that exists – or does not exist – right now. It’s not something wrapped in coloured cloth sitting somewhere on a global supermarket shelf. Stitching a piece of multi-coloured cloth into things like Independence and ‘national pride’ and ‘national identity’ and ‘inclusion’ is disingenuous. There is no certain relationship.

            The French Tricolore has endured since 1789 – but there have been four – or is it five? – ‘French Republics’ since then. Canada, as a nation, has had two flags. Russia recently ‘reflagged’ – its third. Having a national flag didn’t stop the exodus of Jamaican professionals from an independent Jamaica during the nadir years of the Manley regime.     

            In 1917 and 1941, black Americans serving in a totally segregated army went to war. After each war they came home to lynchings and race riots. Today’s Stars and Stripes are little changed from the Stars and Stripes of 1917. Then, as now, there’s nary a hint of anything black or African in the Stars and Stripes. Yet Martin Luther King and Condi Rice and Al Sharpton all swore, or swear, allegiance to it and respect it to the hilt. Perhaps Condi Rice will be the USA’s first female President. Will she get a new ‘black’ Presidential seal and flag? Will the Stars and Stripes become red, white, blue…and black?

             When Mr Williams writes: “…there actually are legitimate reasons why some Bermudians neither relate to the current flag nor view it as representing them…”, I cannot see or understand the reasons.

            Tossing in references to Independence and race is like trying to camouflage and explain away a display of national ignorance and disrespect. 

            Don’t identify with and won’t stand for your own flag – the flag that everybody else in the world sees as ‘your flag’? That’s OK. It’s your free choice. But do be respectful and stand for the flag of the other country.



There’s a lot happening. The Winter Olympics. Continuing ‘cartoon protests’. New photos from ‘Abu Grhaib’ prison. Minister Cox’s new budget. All big stuff. Some of the fallout from what is happening reverberates only around tiny Bermuda. Some rattles around the globe.  Some of it gets some people vexed. Some of it gets people killed.            Much of what’s topping the news relates to individual effort. The news about the Olympics tends to focus on what individual earned what medal. The Abu Grhaib pictures show us how individual human beings were humiliated or hurt by other individuals. The budget readout concentrated on what impact there would be on individual pocket books.             But tucked away in all this global and local folderol is a tiny little human – though you might find it inhuman – story. The story is so small, that it almost slips right by.            In the past week, the global news wires and many globally available newspapers have, in one way or another, carried this snippet within their main story:“The SBS programme said many of the new photos showed Graner having sex with England, the 22-year-old reservist who was jailed for abusing detainees. England said Graner fathered her young son. Those photos were not shown.”[Scotsman]            ‘Graner’ is Charles Graner. He is the US Army Reservist pictured smiling and triumphant as he presided over the mishandling of Iraqi prisoners. The US Army court-martialed him and sentenced him to ten years detention.            ‘England’ is Lynndie England. She is the young woman Reservist pictured, and probably remembered forever, amongst other things, for holding a leashed Iraqi prisoner. For her part, England was court-martialed and sentenced to three years detention. When she was sentenced, she was pregnant.  She claimed – a claim never denied – that the child had been fathered by Graner.            The photos of Graner and England having sex are not being shown – so I guess that somewhere, someone is exercising some degree of censorship or editorial control. The news wires – Reuters and AP – are reporting that the US Government does not intend – did not intend – to release the pictures that are now being shown. Clearly, then, someone, somewhere, finds it acceptable to portray some things, but not others.            But all of that doesn’t bother me so much. In the end, the growing weight of reality will force all western media to be as sensitive about ‘other’ people’s cares. Western media will learn – is already learning? – to be as sensitive to some other things as it is about England and Graner’s sex tapes and some of the ‘more graphic’ photos.             What really bothers and saddens me is that a tiny little baby boy has been born. Graner is said to be his father. England is his mother. These two adult human beings conspired and co-habited. Their separate and combined acts have placed an inhuman weight of history on this brand new baby who has been born with all the individual innocence that comes with every fresh new baby.            This tiny little baby will grow up. One day, this innocent child will learn that his conception might have been filmed as part of a ‘dirty movie’. He will learn that his father was jailed for maltreating fellow human beings. That his mother was jailed for mistreating fellow human beings. One day he will see the images that are all so familiar to all of us.            He will be much older then. When he learns about his birth and his parents, he will no longer be a fresh human life. When he learns, his slim young shoulders will suddenly feel the weight of an enormous cross of history. He will carry that hard heavy burden for the rest his life.

            No one should do that to a child. No one has that right.



Tsunami! It’s not even an Atlantic Ocean word. Nor, as it turns out, was it an Indian Ocean word. But tsunami’s are natural occurrences. Last week’s tsunami reminded us that despite our sometimes overweening arrogance, we’re all at the mercy of natural events.

            The earthquake that spawned that tsunami reminded that though we may build on deep and solid foundations, these foundations themselves can be re-arranged by the immense natural forces restrained within the planetary ball that we think we own.

            Dan Rather, reporting for CBS News reported that part of the 165,000 square mile island of Sumatra had been ‘moved’ one hundred feet. I don’t know if Dan and CBS were correct. I do know that the possibility is real. That Sumatra is such a big island doesn’t mean that it’s immovable.  It simply means that some people might find the story difficult to believe.

            After watching the video repeats of the tsunami waves crashing ashore, after seeing stills of uncovered sea-beds, double walls of approaching waters, and dwarfed humans trying to run to safety;  I understand that though it may take a while for scientists to agree conclusions, the reality is that incredibly powerful forces were at work.

            Some news media, trying to give perspective, used the power of the atomic bomb and billions of tons of TNT as frames of reference. I didn’t think that worked.              Bermudians are familiar with Hurricane Fabian’s re-shaping. We see the effects at the western end of Horseshoe Beach. The strengthened roadway on the South Shore just west of John Smith’s Bay. The refreshed and replaced asphalt and walls of the Causeway. But all that shrinks when compared to the tsunami’s damage.

            Perhaps the best – though most macabre – way to compare the destruction would be to compare it to 40 pairs of World Trade Centre towers, located in twelve countries on two continents, all being destroyed in the same way in the same morning.  Perhaps that is the best that the modern media savvy mind can grasp.

            As the world adjusted to the tsunami disaster, values shifted. The tragedy in the Sudan slid off the radar. The tragedy-in-the-making in the Congo dropped off the radar. The USA’s tragic muddles in Iraq were blown off the radar. The deaths of 28 Iraqi policemen, and later of one US Marine, were seen against the backdrop of a tsunami death toll of more than 120,000 people.

            The need to feed the war in Iraq with more men and more money was set against the need to feed water, medical supplies, food, and other assistance into the tsunami’ed areas.

            That tsunami brings a new perspective to everything. Even in religion. Muslims, Christians, and Hindus.  All now face the same – equally new – issue. Why?

            Here in our Bermuda, we perch atop an extinct – so I’m told – volcano. Scientists say that a more active volcano in the Canaries can blow and the result might be – some say would be – a tsunami heading for our Bermuda.  Scientists warned about tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. These scientists were, mostly, ignored.  The tsunami came anyhow.

            We should set up the same kind of warning system that already exists in the Pacific Ocean. Instead of bickering about the minutiae of independence, we’d be better off taking independent action to prepare Bermuda for the same kind of reality that washed over ten countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

            Though other countries such as Canada, Portugal, the USA, Spain, Morocco may be in line to be damaged by 15 to 30 metre high tsunami waves, these countries may express the same level of interest as did Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and other of the hard-hit Indian Ocean nations.

            Modern media brought the millions of human tragedies in the Far East much closer to our island idyll. While we play our small part in the recovery effort, we should also realize how dependent we really are.  Dependent on an early warning system. Dependent on someone else’s years of dedicated studies. Dependent on technologies developed by ‘oddball scientists’ studying ‘oddball’ subjects.

            Perhaps we’ll realize that our hurricane warning system – most of which we don’t pay for – needs to be supplemented by a tsunami warning system; and that we should pay and play our part in that system.

            Sitting in the path of a tsunami that would ravage us an hour before it smashes into the USA’s East Coast, Bermuda should be the site for an Atlantic Ocean tsunami research and warning station.



“Other things being equal, one would think that Venezuela — a democratic country with immense oil and mineral riches, populated by descendants of the liberators of Latin America — would out-prosper Bermuda — an island one-third the size of the District of Columbia, two-thirds populated by the descendants of black slaves, with one paved airport, no university, and no natural resource more valuable than its beaches.             But other things are not equal. And as a result, the per capita income of Bermudians is $36,845, one of the highest in the world, and that of Venezuelans $3,326. There is no unemployment in Bermuda, whereas over half of the Venezuelan population is either unemployed or working in the underground economy.

            How can this be?”

             That was written by a Venezuelan, writing about his own country. Obviously then, Bermuda, Bermudians, and our Bermuda economy are of interest to the rest of the world.             What if Venezuela discovered and then used our ‘Bermuda secret?’             Look at the development of world tourism – or car manufacturing or banana growing or software developing. Do that, and you learn that the rest of the world always learns and catches up. The competitor who was once the faster runner and was out front, finds that the guys who were behind draw level or go ahead.            Microsoft, once globally dominant in software development now faces stiffening competition from Indian software developers. General Motors, the biggest US vehicle maker lost market share to Toyota, and lost $1bn this quarter. Lloyds of London, once dominating the world of insurance meets stiff competition from Bermuda. Rover Cars, the last all British carmaker has just gone out of business.  And, “how far hath the mighty dollar fallen?”             Front runners fall behind. Fifth-place runners pass them. Change happens.            Bermuda was once the ‘honeymoon capital’; the destination of choice for Spring Break college students; the five-star classy island resort. Change happened. Bermuda is no longer any of those things. Certainly, some of our standards did fall. More importantly, other entities discovered our secrets, absorbed them into their cultures and market strategies, did it differently and better, and left us behind. From being a front-runner, Bermuda has been by-passed into fourth or fifth or tenth place.            Our successful International Business model uses Bermuda as a business platform for a group of companies specializing in providing insurance and re-insurance. From this platform, these companies service part of the global insurance market. This platform and business combination is currently successful and highly profitable.            Because we are successful, we attract watchers and studiers. Unlike nuclear secrets, we cannot hide the reasons for our success. Others can study us, learn from us, and then use our model.            What’s important about that? Go back to that Venezuelan’s comment:- “…the per capita income of Bermudians is $36,845, one of the highest in the world, and that of Venezuelans $3,326.”            There it is. Plain as day. Cost. Price. If , for instance, Venezuela – or Ireland – or Vanuatu – replicates us, businesses will be able to operate in these countries at a lower price.  This might translate into far higher profits for businesses that do business from an Irish or Venezuelan or Vanuatu’an business platform.            So what must business platform Bermuda do to stay out in front? Or, at least, remain a viable business platform?            First, ensure that we can maintain supremacy in enough of the global market so that we can sustain the GNP that business platform Bermuda needs to maintain Bermuda’s economic life. Second, accept that business platform Bermuda has to maintain enough of the right kind of social stability to keep businesses functioning in Bermuda. Third, recognize that as China and India muscle their way to global stage centre, businesses that operate from platform Bermuda will need to carve out a slice of the new business that these new economic giants will produce. Fourth, realize that our current reliance on customers in the US and EU must be able to shift, because the world’s centre of gravity of business will – in time – shift to the East.            1920’s – US tariffs on ‘foreign’ produce and US onion growers killed Bermuda’s onion industry.             1980’s – Bermuda passed-by in Tourism by Jamaica, St Lucia, Seychelles, etc…            We Bermudians must take care that we don’t get passed-by – too quickly or too soon – in this new race. Bermuda must not only run fast, Bermuda – people and businesses – must also run smart; and run as a whole team. We’ve got 199 competitors.


Every Bermudian understands waves. A rush as the wave comes in. A slower movement as the wave goes out. All through Europe this wave phenomenon is occurring. The long wave of history is receding and is causing some discomfort. I believe that Europe will be changed by the effects of this perfectly natural – and completely unstoppable – wave phenomenon.

            Today’s matters have their origin in a time when a human wave of Europeans poured out, crossed oceans and lands, and wandered out into what they called ‘new’ countries and ‘new’ continents and began to lay claim to all about them. They claimed the lands. They claimed the people. Both land and people were treated as possessions to be bartered, traded, and used in the same manner as the gold and silver and spices that were traded.

            From 1487 to 1948, for almost five hundred years, European values determined the values of other peoples and their lands.  For five centuries, European values were dominant and other peoples and lands were considered only in relation to their worth and value to Europe.

            The last act in this outflow of European expansion was the creation, in 1948, of the state of Israel.  From then until now, European values have been rolling back, or are being rolled back.

            The wave rollback started in 1947, when India and Pakistan became independent states, discarded their colonial controls, and began re-establishing and promulgating their own, different, value sets. In 1948, the ex-troopship “Empire Windsong” landed a few hundred blacks from the British West Indies at Southampton, UK. In 1954 tiny Viet Nam whipped mighty France on the battlefield at Dien Ben Phu.

            After the 1960 French pullout from Algeria; the Belgian decamp from the Congo; and the collapse of all the other European empires; Europe received, at first, a slow trickle, then a more noticeable stream of blacks from Africa, Arabs from the Middle East, Aryans from the Indian sub-continent, and Asians from old Asian outposts of empire.

            This incoming wave of ‘new’ people had one common characteristic. All were easily distinguishable because they did not look like most other Europeans. These were not blond or brunette. Not blue or hazel or brown eyed. Not pink or olive skinned.

            This incoming wave of new people were black and brown and pale skinned and black haired and black and brown-eyed.  Though the people of this incoming wave were definitely easily identified as non-European, following centuries of contact, they had been acclimated to Europe and could easily fit into and live life in any European culture.

            From 1950 on, this incoming wave of different people went from trickle to stream. This incoming human wave came back to Europe in the same manner that Europe’s outgoing human wave had gone out to Africa, Asia, South America, North America, the Australian continent.

            Back then, when Europe’s outgoing human wave met resistance, the standard European response – of that time – was to kill off the resisters; or use military force to subjugate resisting populations. Thus North America’s Indian population was killed off to make way for European settlers. Africa’s resisters were either killed off or sold off. South American and Asian resisters were brought under military control.

            The fires of France, set by the people of this new incoming wave and the on and off racial bust-ups in the UK, show quite clearly that this incoming wave is meeting resistance and has some assimilation difficulties.  The general build-up of objections to in-migration of non-Europeans into Europe [and Haitians and others into the USA] show that European populations have different values when it comes to accepting movements of human beings into their countries and cultures.

            The long nights of fires in France – and the still remembered dust clouds from the collapsed WTC – say that all of us are going to have to find a new method of valuing people so that all people have the same value. We have to put away that old – but still alive – value system that enabled good Christian men to land at Plymouth Rock, eat turkey with people who treated them as guests, and then blast millions of their dinner hosts into kingdom come.

            This world – starting, but not ending with Europe – needs a new value system that accepts that all men [and women and children] are all equal and that all may sit at the same table and partake – equally – of all that this earth provides.



A young friend holds that the underworld of illegal drugs is maintained by collusion between the world’s great powers and certain influential people. He feels, for instance, that President Bush went to war in Afghanistan to ensure the production of opium. Now, you might feel that my friend is generally misguided and mis-informed.  Sometimes, I think that too.

            He points out that the Taliban – they’re the bearded nasties that President Bush invaded Afghanistan to get rid off – successfully eradicated Afghanistan’s poppy fields. My friend said that by 2001, the Taliban had cut opium production by over 90%.

            Not believing him, I sought proof. Evidence and support came from the CIA:  “In the mid-1990s the Taliban, proponents of a severe Muslim fundamentalist ideology, took over in Afghanistan. The CIA’s own reports reveal that under the Taliban, opium output plunged from an estimated 4,042 tons in 2000–some 71 percent of the world’s inventory–to just 80 tons last year [2001].” The CIA? Come on, they fibbed about WMD’s in Iraq.                 However, from the April 03, 2001 edition of The Christian Science Monitor comes this bit of good Christian information:As much as 80 percent of the opium used by heroin addicts from Amsterdam to Haight Ashbury could be traced to Afghan farmers….Once the annual source of 3,500 tons of opium, Afghanistan has reportedly nearly eradicated all poppy under cultivation in the 2001 growing season.             So, my friend was right. The nasty Taliban had cut opium production.             Following 9/11, George Bush invaded Afghanistan. My young friend says Bush went into Afghanistan in order to restart opium production and that the mission of getting Osama bin Laden was just a cover.

            Now this seemed extreme. However, in trying to disabuse my young friend of his wild and wooly theory, I ran into problems. I found that other good global citizens had already looked at the matter and had observed facts.  Consultants and advisors to the World Bank had formally reported that Afghanistan’s opium production had grown from 180 tons in 2001 to 3,400 tons in 2002, then 3,600 tons in 2003, and was said to be 4,200 tons in 2004.

            Then,  this 2004 exchange in the UK House of Commons: Mr. Clapham: “To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the impact on the UK heroin market of changes in poppy production in Afghanistan over the past two years; and if he will make a statement?”  Answering, Caroline Flint: According to the annual UN surveys the poppy crops in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003 were 74,000 and 80,000 hectares….”            Then, like DNA, this report: According to the State Department report released Friday, Afghanistan’s opium cultivation tripled to an all-time high in 2004 to 206,700 hectares (about 510,000 acres)……. The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board has estimated that poppy cultivation rose 64 percent in 2004 to 131,000 hectares. But despite the differing estimates both the US and the INCB agree the country is teetering on the brink of becoming a narco-state.”

            My senses were reeling. My young friend’s conspiracy theory wasn’t hokum. There was evidence to support his theory. I received a final devastating blow to my attempt to put my young friend straight. Condoleezza Rice’s 2005 smoking gun!

            “WASHINGTON (AP) – 05 March 2005 — More than three years after installing a pro-U.S. government, Afghanistan has been unable to contain opium poppy production and is on the verge of becoming a narcotics state, a presidential report said Friday. The report said the area in Afghanistan devoted to poppy cultivation last year set a record of more than 510,000 acres, more than triple the figure for 2003. Opium poppy is the raw material for heroin. The Afghan narcotics situation “represents an enormous threat to world stability,” the report said. It listed opium production at 5,445 tons, 17 times more than second-place Myanmar. The massive study, covering the state of illicit narcotics in 2004 in virtually all countries, was transmitted to Congress by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on behalf of President Bush.”

            So there I was. I couldn’t defeat my young friend’s theory. My carefully reasoned logic was smashing against facts and realities that kept storming forward. No wonder my young friend thought that I was addled.  He might even be wondering if I had started doing stuff. 

            Crazy isn’t it? Politically correct logic says my young friend is not right; but the evidence points the opposite way.  Maybe Bush didn’t invade Afghanistan to restart the opium industry. But it sure looks like it, doesn’t it?