Saturday, October 19, 2002

Clive James' piece in the Guardian has been linked to by Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, and Denis Dutton, so it is fairly hard to imagine that anyone hasn't read it, but there are a few things I want to say about it. To quote Sullivan again,

Clive James is a very smart and funny man, but I never knew he was this clear-headed as well. In the Guardian, yes, the Guardian, he lays into the Fisks and the Pilgers and Australia's allegedly liberal media honchos for just not getting it. His epiphany is yet another milestone on the gradual and perhaps accelerating maturation of the left:

I don't think James has had any epiphany: the article makes it pretty clear that his views on the subject have evolved gradually and were there well before September 11. And he hasn't suddenly become clearheaded. Despite his television programs in which he made fun of foreign (and at times British) popular culture, he has always been a fairly canny observer of culture when he wants to be. This is in his books of criticism, and it is in his novels. ( Brmm Brmm was pretty astute about Japan). To quote James

The (Australian) consensus considers itself to be leftwing in the best sense. The appellation is one that an old-stager like me is reluctant to grant, because the consequence of granting it, and then expressing dissent, is to be classified as conservative. In my own case, the main thing I want to conserve is the welfare of the common people: in that regard I am plodding in Bob Ellis's zig-zag slipstream as he carries his ramshackle torch.

James is one of many of us who doesn't want to see himself as being a conservative, but none the less can't accept the moral relativism that a lot of the left have used to somehow identify with fanatics who murder innocents and who want to destroy modern civilization. Like Ian Buruma, who also writes for the Guardian, James has spent too much time actually looking at other cultures to be able to accept this. He talks about his friend the editor of the Independent being out to lunch, but that none the less he is a friend, and this is at times difficult to deal with. James concludes, however, that

I count the editor of the Independent as a friend, so the main reason I hesitate to say that he is out to lunch on this issue is that I was out to dinner with him last night. But after hesitating, say it I must, and add a sharper criticism: that his editorial writer sounds like an unreconstructed Australian intellectual, one who can still believe, even after his prepared text was charred in the nightclub, that the militant fundamentalists are students of history.

I wrote about this myself last week, after the Bali bombings had happened, but before I was aware of them. I said

My British and other European friends mostly are reflexively anti-war. A lot of the time I simply stay silent, as my friends are on the whole good people, and it isn't worth the argument. The disconnect between Europe and America is large on this.

What James is saying is that it is worth the argument. And of course he is right. I was stupid to say otherwise, even if I'd rather not have the argument with my friends. And what is different this week, is that if you feel anti-American, the Bali bombing is much harder to reconcile with your anti-Americanism than was the World Trade Center attack. I was never especially anti-American, and I am somewhat unsettled by the fact that so many people linked the fanatics' attacks on New York with their own anti-Americanism in the first place, but it seems to be so. At least more people are now realising who the enemy is. I think the ground is shifting in Europe. There is a war on. When there are people who want to kill you, you have to fight. I think this is becoming clear, even in Europe.

I've just discovered that Scott Lysaght , who was in the same class at primary school as I was, and was in my scout troup, and who I later also knew at university, was one of the victims of the Bali attack. He was not a close friend, but was none the less someone I knew quite well and in whose company I did a lot of enjoyable things: mostly hiking and camping. I last saw him at my 21st birthday party in 1989. This is quite shocking. My sympathy and condolences to his parents, to his wife, and to his young daughter.

Friday, October 18, 2002

I promised a couple of people by e-mail that I would post a piece on GSM mobile roaming, and how this is related to what is wrong with the EU's telecommunications regulatory market. Sadly, this piece has got a little out of control and isn't finished yet. I shall post it tomorrow though. I promise.
Hamburg is a striking city

The invention of container shipping is one of the things that has changed the world most in the last 50 years. It did for the moving of physical goods what the invention of packet switching and the internet did for the moving of information. The flow through effect that it had on what our cities look like is reasonably widely understood by people who think about these things, but probably not so much by the general public. Basically, container shipping led to much bigger ships and the requirement that there be large amounts of machinery (generally enormous cranes) next to where the ships docked. This meant that many traditional ports (often a few miles up rivers and close to the middle of cities which had grown around the ports) were utterly useless for loading and unloading containers. This meant that the container ports had to be buit somewhere else, usually a few kilometres closer to the mouth of the same river. This meant that the traditional port areas of the cities became rundown, and in the last ten to twenty years these areas have provided areas for residential and office development near water. Hence we have London's docklands developments, huge areas of Sydney harbour foreshore becoming residential, ships no longer dock up the Avon River gorge in Bristol but instead dock in the Severn Estuary, and waterfront developments have occurred in the space left behind as ships have ceased docking in traditional locations in virtually every traditional port city in the world.

Hamburg is an exception. For reasons of history, Hamburg was built by the side of the mighty Elbe river. Unusually, the city is next to a very deep and wide portion of the river. And, almost uniquely out of all the port cities I have seen, this has allowed the container Port to be built essentially next to the same water used for the traditional port. The container port is on the other side of the river to most of the city of Hamburg, but it is close and visible to the city itself. The port dominates the city.

Due to the non-departure of the port, there has been relatively little space for waterside redevelopment as there has been beside rivers in other ports. Warehouses are still used as warehouses, and so cannot be converted to housing. Some of the old docks can no longer be used as docks and are a little run down, and there are one or two areas which were clearly important in the past but no longer are. The container port appears slightly downstream from where the conventional port was, but only slightly. There has been some development in this area, but this has an interesting character, as it is built close to working port infrastructure. We have a theatre hosting a production of the stage version of The Lion King surrounded by port infrastructure. We have suburbs rather closer to the container port than is the case with container ports in other cities, and other associated infrastructure nearby too. (Most notably, there is a beautiful cable stayed bridge). We have one or two tourist attractions, but no large scale redevelopment. The port is still at the heart of Hamburg, and this is very unusual for a modern city.
Andrew Sullivan observes that support for the war is stronger amongst the younger generation than the older one.

I'm fascinated by the generation-gap. The big difference between the anti-war movement during Vietnam and now is that this time, the young are pro-war. Or rather today's anti-war movement is essentially your father's: it's the same boomer peaceniks, unable to let go. I've long believed that 9/11 could reshape an entire generation's attitude toward foreign policy. Slowly, the polls are supporting that possibility.

I think he is absolutely right. I also think the reason for this is actually pretty obvious. People of the younger generation in the west are much more widely travelled, much more likely to have friends and partners with different cultural backgrounds, much more globally minded and much more cosmopolitan than are the older generation. Our parents generation spent a lot of time talking about cultural pluralism, but ours is the generation that has actually got on with living it. It isn't theoretical for us. This war is being waged against us by people who almost above everything want to destroy that pluralism. This is why we have to fight.
Now this is what I want. A laptop that can run for ten hours and, even better, can be refueled by simply adding some fuel rather than plugging it into a power socket for hours. No more need to travel with electric plug adaptors. No more need to be constantly on the lookoot for electrical sockets in cafes. Tremendous.

Taken together with recent announcements indicating that relatively low concentration methanol solutions can be taken onto aeroplanes safely, this may be an indication that this market is starting to emerge.

The market is starting to emerge? Get a working version of this product onto the market and the result will be like being run over by a steamroller.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Back to Blighty

Okay, back in London after my little sojourn in Germany. Various brief comments. I only had two days in Hamburg and one in Lubeck, so my comments will inevitably be superficial.

It was really hard to find internet cafes. In fact, I did not see a single internet cafe in three days. There were coin operated internet terminals in hotels and railway stations, but these were expensive, and not ideal for a lengthy internet session, as the connection speeds were slow, and the keyboards were designed to be vandal-proof rather than for typing. What I wanted was, well, an internet cafe. I wanted to be able to sit down for an hour or so, catch up with my e-mail, browse the web a little, and maybe do a little blogging. However, I didn't see any such cafes. I wasn't make a concerted effort to find one: I simply expected I would find one in my wanderings. But I did not see a one. I am sure such internet cafes are easier to find in Berlin and Munich. Such cafes probably do exist in Hamburg, too: Googling for "Hamburg Internet Cafe" does find results. However, I have stumbled across them in the middle of tiny villages in the third world. I wouldn't have thought they would be hard to stumble over in the city that gave us the Chaos Computer Club. Is this German labour and trading laws? I know that Richard Branson closed all his Virgin Megastores in Germany because he found German trading laws made it impossible to run his stores the way he wanted to. (He wanted them to be open on the weekend, for instance).

Germany has great Turkish food. Go up to a fairly ordinary looking kebab stall in any random suburb of Hamburg and buy a kebab, and it is every bit as good as what you will get in Istanbul.

Australians sometimes complain that events involving us never make the news in foreign countries, and that foreigners have no idea who our leaders and politicians are. My chief exposure to English language news over the past few days has been snatches of CNN and the BBC news channel caught in lobbies and restaurants, and Australian prime minister John Howard and foreign minister Alexander Downer have been omnipresent. This is one of those situations where you should be careful what you wish for.

In a bar in a somewhat industrial suburb of Hamburg, I was sitting in a railway station bar having a beer or two. Into the bar came a Russian, aged about 35. (This sounds like the start of a bad joke). He attempted to order a beer, but had a little difficulty, as he knew no German whatsoever. (I don't speak very much German, but I do speak enough to order a beer). However, he spoke excellent English. This demonstrates the total failure of the Soviet Union. They friends were supposedly the East Germans, and the Americans were their enemy. Thus in their schools they were taught German. But, they didn't actually learn German

Anyway, back to serious blogging tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

I am in the Free, Hanseatic and very hard to find internet cafes in city of Hamburg. My thoughts on the place when I am able to log in for longer.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Now, on to the merely irritating rather than the really upsetting. As is implicit in the various posts on telco subjects that I have posted (but which I have not mentioned explicitly), I am presently looking for a job. With that (and the huge number of visitors I received when Steven Den Beste linked to me) in mind, I have put a link to my CV amongst the links on the left of the page. I am looking for a position in telecommunications or media analysis in equities, fund management, investment banking (if investment banking still exists) or consulting, or something in the strategic planning department of a telco, telecommunications equipment or media company. I am extremely knowledgeable about wireless technology of all kinds, and the differences between all the various technical standards coming into play. (I am not half bad on wireline technology either, but my focus has been more on wireless). My record on calling which technology is likely to prevail is good: and I can provide anyone who is interested with past research that I have written demonstrating this. (I cannot post it, however, because the copyright belongs to my former employer). I also have extensive financial modelling skills that I gained working with Credit Suisse First Boston. I am a good (mostly C) programmer and have a very quantitative bent, having a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Cambridge University. (I also came first in my year in Applied Mathematics at Sydney University in Australia). My most recent interest has been the technology of digital television, and I have spent the last nine months writing a book on the subject. (I will put some extracts from the book on this site when I am back from Germany on Friday). I am extremely good at writing clearly on complicated technical subjects in plain English (as I hope this blog demonstrates), and explaining how they all fit together. I am also an excellent teacher: there are few things that make me happier than standing in front of an interested audience and explaining interesting things to them.

Anyway, if anyone who reads this site might be interested in employing me, or knows someone who might be, please let me know, or feel free to forward my CV to them. I can be reached at or on +44 7986995952. I am presently based in London, but would be happy to relocate to the US, Hong Kong, Tokyo, back to Australia, or various other destinations if the job is interesting.
The photo I linked to below is as shocking to me as it is, because I understand the likely circumstances behind it so well. Most of them have happened to me at some point. We have a 19 year old girl, who is probably in her first or second year of university. She hasn't much money, and her parents decide to take her on an overseas holiday as something of a treat. They buy a package trip to Bali for the three of them. They all have a good time, and the daughter meets a few other people her own age and goes off and parties with them. The parents are tired on the Saturday night, so they go back to their hotel, while the daughter decides to party for a couple of hours later than them. She's had a few drinks. She's having a good time, and then blam, she is blown to pieces. And then I imagine the parents being shown into a rudimentary morgue, full of burned and mangled bodies, confirming that yes, that is the bloody, burned and mangled remains of their 19 year old daughter, and walking slowly out. I don't have to imagine the expression on their faces because I can see it in the photograph.

I keep seeing this image in my mind. I know the area. I look at a map of Kuta, and I see the exact place the bomb exploded. I stayed in a guest house perhaps 50 metres away. I walked down the street past where the bombs exploded probably ten times. I didn't go to the nightclub, but I ate in a restaurant nearby. The restaurants are all similar. Most of them are connected to guest houses or hotels. Most have a relatively light roof, held up by pillars, without much in the way of front and side walls. As you walk past, you can see the people inside eating and drinking. You sit down, and they sell a mixture of Indonesian food and interpretations of western food aimed largely at Australians. I ate Indonesian food (which is delicious) when I visited the rest of the island, but in the peculiar semi-westernised place that is Kuta, I ate the westernised food. I particular remember that lots of places sold an interesting interpretation on the idea of a hamburger. A hamburger patty would be cooked, a piece of cheese would be placed on it, it would be put between two slices of bread, and the whole thing would then be cooked in a waffle iron, so you would get a hamburger with the meat and cheese sealed entirely inside the bread. (You could get them with bacon as well). It's not quite what we would eat in Australia, but it is the sort of thing that meat loving Australians find delicious. I can see myself sitting in one of the restaurants, eating one of these things, a bottle of the local beer also in front of me. The taste, the smell, the feeling of the heat are all clear in my mind. And now, I can see an explosion. I can feel the whole thing turning into a war zone.The images I see merge in to the photographs I saw of the explosion, and of the ruins the next day. There's a mixture of the familiar and the horrible.

These thoughts of familiarity are no doubt common to me and millions of other Australians. A huge number of us have been there. Australia is so isolated from the rest of the world, and there are few foreign holiday destinations that are both close and cheap. Of 20 million Australians, at least several million have been there at some point. Certain things about terrorism make more sense to me now. I understand the reson for attacking restaurants and nightclubs. It isn't just that there are large numbers of people in close proximity, although of course it is that. It is the attempt to attack things that are familiar to everyone. It is the urge to terrorise millions of people with the thought of "There, but the grace of God go I". I think I understood that intellectually before now. I even felt it a little. (I had been to the top of the World Trade Center, for instance, although that was in 1991, so the memory wasn't a recent one). My principal feelings towards the WTC were feeling about its contribution to the New York Skyline. I had felt a terrible sense of loss for the building and the skyline more than the sensation of terror ripping through a familiar environment. I was and am shocked, upset and outraged about that act and the corresponding loss of life. To me though, this is closer. I can see, feel, smell and taste it.

I can also imagine visiting Kuta in six months, and seeing everything deserted and run down: very few tourists anywhere, shops boarded up, hotels closed. A big hole in the middle of town, because there is no point in rebuilding where the bomb exploded and tourists are not coming. I can also imagine Kuta in five years: just the remains of the hotels and restaurants: the bones of the former tourist development being most of what is left. Maybe, and hopefully, I will be wrong and tourism will recover. But right now, my emotion is that I rather doubt it.
Slashdot points me to an article about the possibility of microbial life on Venus . The opinion of biologists on the likelihood life in hostile environments has changed in recent years. Life has been discovered in more and more hostile environments on earth (such as in the vents of volcanoes five kilometres below the surface of the ocean, far from conventional sources of sunlight and oxygen). Given that there are other environments in the solar system that are less hostile, the question as to whether there is life elsewhere in the solar system has come back into play. The question of course is whether life can actually evolve in these sort of environments from scratch, or only evolve from other life forms that have come into existence in less hostile environment. Many molecular biologists seem to think that the chemical processes necessary from evolution from scratch probably can occur in some of these hostile environements, and this has led to much speculation as to life in the rest of the solar system. (20 years ago, most people seemed to have ruled it out). It isn't likely to be very exciting life, but it is life. So we have people looking and speculating about life in the oceans of Europa, on Mars, on Titan, even on Pluto, and now Venus. I will believe it when I see conclusive evidence, because I think some of the people looking perhaps want to find it a bit too much, but this is interesting.

Of course, I think these are interesting questions, because today I think that emigrating to Mars might be the best hope for some of us, and we need to know the answer before we go.
Look at this , and try to keep your eyes dry. In fact, just let the tears come.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

I can see two possibilities as to the motivation for this atrocity. The first is that it was an attack on Western civilians by Al-Qaeda associated individuals, simply because they were Western. Kuta in Bali is an extremely soft target in this case: nowhere else in Indonesia would you find so many westerners in so small an area. (Also, the Balinese are Hindu, so you avoid killing Muslims at the same time). Still, given the virulent anti-Americanism of these organisations, the choice of a target where Americans are almost completely absent is perhaps a little curious. (The apparent smaller third bomb outside the US consulate might favour this theory, however, as would the fact that the American ambassador has been warning about possible attacks).

The other possibility is that it was an Indonesian nationalist attack rather than a Islamic attack. Australia has (in the last couple of years, at least) supported independence in East Timor, has supplied the bulk of the peace keeping force, plus there have apparently been Australian SAS troops in the mountains keeping an eye on things. This could be an attack aimed directly at Australians out of revenge for the loss of this territory. Early October is a peak time for Australians to visit Bali, as it is just after the end of the football season in Australia. Bali was a favourite destination for footballers wanting an end of season trip to let their hair down. I don't know if the terrorists realised this and took it into account, but they may have.

Of course, it isn't necessary as clear cut as this. There have been rumours of Al Qaeda trained individuals being involved in East Timor, and of course Australia is a good friend of America, so maybe its a mixture. Either way, it is vile beyond belief. Australians are not used to this. (Not that I imagine that it gets any easier to deal with if you are used to it).
Talk about a soft target

I flew out of Denpassar Airport in Bali last December 23, barely three months after the attacks on the World Trade Center. My hand luggage was not ever X-Rayed before I got on the plane. Talk about a place with a lack of precautions for terrorism.
Thank You

Might I express my pleasure and gratitude that Captain L.J. of the United States Air Force is on our side.
What can be said, really?

The terrorist attack in Bali is horrible beyond words. The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting "more than 180" deaths, and it seems that two thirds of the dead are westerners. Having been there, I suspect that a large portion of these are Australians. Jemaah Islamiah , an Indonesian branch of Al Qaeda is suspected to be responsible, although the evidence for this appears merely circumstantial at the moment.

This is terribly close to home. I was in Kuta myself last December, and my parents were there just two months ago.I had an exceptionally nice time. The island was beautiful, the people were very friendly and welcoming, the food was good. I can just imagine the scene. I know the streets, I know the restaurants, I know the way that Australian football players on end of season holidays were drinking too much beer, making too much noise, and having a very good time in that a little bit over the top way that Australians do. And probably more than 100 of my countrymen have just been brutally murdered for it. (Plus of course many other people, including many totally innocent Balinese who were just trying to earn a living. And the economy of Bali has just been totally wrecked, which is such a rotten thing to do to its people). It sickens the soul.

May I express my contempt and hatred for the barbarians who did this. May you all burn in hell.
What is a European?

There is a good piece by A.S. Byatt in today's New York Times Magazine (via Arts and Le^H^H^H^H^H^H Philosophy and Literature ) on the question of what is a European and just why Europeans feel about things the way they do.

Personally, I am unable to take the reflexively anti-EU positions that many American bloggers seem to take, or that British Euro-sceptics seem to take. Yes, the EU is undemocratic, inclined to over-regulate things, at times idiotically bureacratic, and the Common Agricultural Policy is the most insane piece of government policy on the face of the earth, with the possible exception of the American war on drugs. Reform is obviously needed.

However, the European single market is an immense achievement. It is possible to fly extraordinarily cheaply within the European Union, due the deregulation of the internal aviation market that exists as part of the single market. Could the individual EU countries have managed this individually? No way. I can buy cheap groceries from a discount supermarket in London that have been imported from other European countries rather from expensive British suppliers. Would this be the case without the single market? Again, no way. Movement of people between European countries is much easier because of the EU's requirement of freedom of movement for EU nationals. Professional qualifications are transferrable between European countries. Individual governments love to use these sorts of laws for under the table protectionism, and the presence of the EU makes this a lot harder. If the EU was not there, these things would have happened to an extent, but not to the same extent. You can criticise the EU all you like, but credit where credit is due. People sometimes tell me that "that would have happened anyway" but I am not sure you can say this. (I also find British anti-EUism somewhat suspect, because it often comes from the most appalling landed gentry Tory types, who I can't stand).

From the article

Younger Europeans take Europe for granted in a matter-of-fact way. They travel constantly across it on cheap interrail tickets, and they study as exchange students at other European universities. My own daughter in Newcastle -- a far northern English city that sees both England and Scotland as ''foreign'' -- shared a student house with a Frenchwoman, a West German, an East German and two Belgian hitchhikers, who were picked up in Spain -- by another friend -- and slept on the couch for six months. Young Europeans intermarry and produce bilingual children. Some of them go to McDonald's and some of them join antiglobalization protests and travel in buses to support Jose Bove, the French proponent of local produce, against American imports of beef with hormones. Our local French supermarket is in fact European. The voices you hear speak Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian, French and English. The French peaches in the market are labeled with tiny circles to show their color -- ''yellow,'' ''gelb,'' ''giallo.'' In France and in Germany this summer the euro seemed to be an uncomplicated matter of fact -- the currency. By the end of the summer most Europeans were grumbling bitterly that its introduction had been a cloak for price increases. It unifies at a practical level, more than symbolically.

This I think is very true. Younger people are much more "European" without thinking about it than are older people. Trans-European laws and systems are there, and younger people, who are much more mobile than their older compatriats, take advantage of them. The biggest soccer matches are in the "European Champions League". This was once a brief competition in which the champions of each European country played each other to find a winner. It is now a league in which the best European clubs (including multiple teams from the bigger countries and often none from the smaller onces) play each other endlessly from year to year. This seems perfectly natural. I think there is a common culture of media, and experience, becoming more and more the place with younger Europeans, who are more mobile than the older generation. It may be almost that they are sucking in an anglophone rather than a European culture. London is certainly full of people like this, and a couple of years there seems almost a rite of passage for well educated, upwardly mobile Europeans.

There was only one thing all the Europeans I talked to had in common. They would all say, ''When I am in America, I know I am European.'' In Europe they notice local differences, but seen from the distance of the States, it is suddenly the whole state of being European that grips them. One person said to me, ''I thought I knew from books and television what the American way of life was, but when you are in it you realize you don't understand it at all.'' This feeling isn't necessarily, or even mostly, antagonistic. America has the fascination of the Other. I don't think European perceptions of America are helped by the ubiquitous presence of dubbed American soaps and B movies on European television. American mouths moving in American shapes and producing French sounds in French voices are cultural zombies, and misleading.

My experience is a different one. I am an Australian. I first came to England in 1991 to study at Cambridge. On the way, I had a couple of weeks in the US. This was my first time in the US, and my first time in Europe. Australia was part of the British Empire and at school I was taught a fairly Britain-centric and Eurocentric view of the world. I expected London to be familiar and comfortable. I did not really expect America to be familiar and comfortable. Oddly I found things the other way round. America is in many ways like Australia. Homes on large suburban tracts of land. Large cars. Strip malls. A McDonald's on every corner. Modern architecture and an absence of older buildings. Large indoor shopping malls and derelict high streets. Skyscrapers. Britain on the other hand was different. It was far less familiar than I was used to. (I was surprised when I got to London and found an absence of skyscrapers, because I simply could not conceive of a large city that did not have them at the centre). Europe has gained some of these things in the years since. There is now a McDonald's on every corner here as well. London has a few skyscrapers, firstly built a way out of the city at Canary Wharf, and now some being built closer in. These things were symptoms of underlying structure, however. And despite a few changes on the surface, the underlying structure hasn't changed much. And the nature of the shopping experience is completely different. I have since learned to love London in particular, but the fact that Europe is "different" never really goes away.

I spoke to Enzensberger in Munich and asked him if he felt European or German. He replied that there were no such people as Europeans -- Europeans were far too idiosyncratic, entrenched in their ways and their languages and their histories; it was impossible to generalize. He then thought for a moment and said, ''On the other hand . . . if you took me up blindfolded in a balloon and put me down in any European city, I would know it was Europe, and I would know how to find a bar, and the railway station, and a food shop. . . . ''

By these rules, Britain is European. A European has no trouble finding the railway station, a bar, and a food store in Britain. An Australian and an American sometimes do, although they have no difficulty finding the equivalents (which generally do not include railway stations) in each other's countries. These rules do apply in Britain, which is why I never can agree when someone tells me Britain is not part of Europe. To me, Britain feels European. To my heart of hearts, Europe remains "other", and Britain remains "other", in a way that America in a lot of ways does not.

During the gulf war, I happened to be in a German monastery with a group of English and German writers and scholars. We divided, not by nationality, but by age. The young were passionately antiwar, as they have been brought up to be. Those who remembered 1945 and its aftermath saw the analogy between Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and Hitler, and spoke unhappily of the imperative to avoid appeasement. Just after 9/11, I was in Frankfurt. I found myself defending the coming strike against the Taliban to an angry and idealistic Austrian TV cameraman who had just spent eight weeks with Afghan refugees and believed nothing justified the loss of innocent lives. I do not know a European -- and that includes the British I talk to -- who is in favor of a strike on Iraq. They do not accept the rhetoric of the ''axis of evil,'' or the connection of such a strike to the fight against world terrorism. The old know what war does to people and cities. The young believe that aggression is simply bad. The 85 percent is dwindling, at least at this time.

I am unusually pro-American, even as Australians go, but I have found a big disconnect on this one. I am generally in favour of the strike against Iraq. I was unequivocally in favour of action against Afghanistan, and if it ever comes time to remove the house of Saud, I shall be overwhelmingly in favour of this. I remain utterly outraged by the attacks of September last year, and I am not sure how much of my pro-war position comes simply from wanting revenge for this. My British and other European friends mostly are reflexively anti-war. A lot of the time I simply stay silent, as my friends are on the whole good people, and it isn't worth the argument. The disconnect between Europe and America is large on this. I saw September 11 as an attack on my civilization, and an affront to me personally. A lot of Europeans didn't. Ultimately, from this comes the difference. I think they are naive not to see the attack this way themselves, but the difference is a big one. I don't think being reflexively anti-war is viable at this point. It has led in some instances to the appeasement of monsters and to the demonisation of friends.

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