Thursday, 22 July 2010

Low flying jets have damaged Elfyn Llwyd's judgement - not his hearing (updated)

Fresh from praising his comic timing yesterday, its disappointing to see that Elfyn Llwyd has stepped up his campaign to ban the RAF from conducting low-fly training in Snowdonia by now claiming that the aircraft sorties are damaging some of his resident's hearing.

A cursory Google search reveals that technicians working on Hawk training aircraft (the planes used at RAF Valley) are exposed to noises ranging between between 93 and 108 dB -- and presumably they are standing a lot closer to the aircraft than people being flown over at super-sonic speeds in Meirionnydd. For comparison purposes the noise generated by a chainsaw is around 100 dB (which would require a continuous exposure of over two hours for a risk of hearing damage to develop), a football game in a loud stadium can generate 115 dB (risk of hearing damage after 15 minutes), and rock concerts and some MP3 players generate volumes in excess of 120 dB (risk of hearing damage after just 7.5 minutes). Strangely enough despite this Llwyd is not on record calling for the Radio 1 Big Weekend in Bangor to be banned to protect his constituent's hearing.

I would have a lot more respect for CND supporter Llwyd if he would just admit that he wants to see an end to low-fly jet training - not because of the spurious argument that it may damage his resident's hearing - but because he does not want British military bases on Welsh soil. As we all know RAF Valley is one of the last large employers and investors on Anglesey - so will Anglesey AM and Leader of Plaid Cymru, Ieuan Wyn Jones, speak up for his constituency against his colleague? I, for one, will not be holding my breath...

UPDATE: I note that Plaid now has a press release about this matter up on their home page so I can only conclude that pressuring the Ministry of Defence to dramatically reduce the amount of training it can carry out from RAF Valley is now official Plaid Cymru policy. As it is also official Plaid policy to oppose nuclear energy in Wales, the party our AM, Ieuan Wyn Jones, now wants to forcibly close both of the only remaining large-scale employers on the Island. God help us!


Anonymous said...

What do they want to do, do they want to destroy what little employment we have left. God help us if they had any more power than they already have, we'd all be in th workhouse

Prometheuswrites said...

I don't think that there are calls being made to stop RAF training pilots or flying over Snowdonia.

The problem is when they fly over too low and especially so when they activate the afterburners on the jets.

I've seen flocks of sheep racing away in panic from the noise of afterburners.
And I've had Chinooks pass at 50 foot over my house shaking the foundations.

I agree with the previous poster that there are plenty of other sources of noise levels that will damage hearing.

Bear in mind that when people work in professional environments, (like Valley flight technicians and chainsaw workers) they should always be provided with ear-protectors (under H&SE regs).

Anonymous said...

Interesting one. The sonic boom from a fighter can sometimes sound like a crack of thunder, and I think would damage your ears after a while. I haven't heard the sound on Anglesey, but have in the mountains and it can be painful. Maybe a case of 'It's OK in your back yard'?

Anonymous said...

One point I think, that's being made, is the increase in the low flying training by foreign air forces such as Germany. The irony here is that they have apparently banned low flying training over Germany. Also some of the USA planes are nosier that the RAF trainers.

Personally I think the low flying training is essential and should continue, but it does not mean we should not have a debate about it, and if evidence exists of damage to peoples hearing do something to reduce the risk.

Maybe the first step should be to carry out research in this country.

Anonymous said...

Also from a quick Google search

NIGS At Valley
RAF Valley was jointly surveyed with RAF Mona (its satellite landing field) in 1988 which led to a joint scheme being introduced in Nov 1989. RAF Valley was surveyed during November and December 1993 following identification of a reduction in aircraft movements and a change of flight patterns. This survey led to extensions of the scheme noise contours in the Trearddaur Bay area, however no properties were included. Valley was reviewed in 1996 following an increase in air traffic and the contours were recalculated from the Average Daily Movement data. There were some small administrative extensions to the 70dB (A) contour but no properties were covered. Valley was again jointly reviewed with Mona during May 1998 which recommended that a new survey be held for RAF Valley, but not for Mona. A lack of aircraft in August 1998 caused the survey to be cancelled. Valley was revisited in November 2000. The survey identified no changes to the existing contour so no new scheme was implemented.

Old Mona said...

I think the previous posts are missing the point,it is Plaids policy to close RAF Valley and any mischief that Elfyn Llywd can make he will. Plaid have a mindset that lives on another planet and they cannot relate their policies to the reality we live in here on Anglesey. I wonder why he didn't bring this up before May 6th and it would prove Plaids double standards.

I suspect that we have German and American planes flying here is that as we are members of NATO, British and American pilots have been training in Germany for years

Anonymous said...

Tut Tut Elfyn Llwyd. I wonder how much noise was emanating from your car when you were bombing down the road well above the speed limit not so long ago and getting caught doing so. A bastion of the law such as an MP and solicitor to boot should have known better. Get off your high horse Elfyn.

Puck said...

The comment made at 16.21 is an perfect example of how a sensible debate can degenerate into personality politics.

Recipe. Take a rational debate. Pick out a small detail that has nothing to do with the topic. Make critical comments making sure that at least one person is named or alluded to. Stir well until the mixture is half-baked. A dish best served cold.

Anonymous said...

How would people feel if it *was* proven beyond doubt that people's hearing has been damaged by jets?

More employment for manufacturers of hearing aids?

Anonymous said...

What a lot of Winge Commanders we have. Wingw winge winge.

OK so they ban low flying traing,
everyone happy?

When we come under attack who defends us?

When our guys are on operations abroad,do they learn as they go?

How stupid can they be, our Winge Commanders and just in advance of your comments, yes we are directly under a low flying line and very good luck to those young men too (sorry and young women).

Anglesey Islander

The Druid of Anglesey said...

18:37 - but the point is that for any hearing damage to occur from a sound of around 100 dB you need 'continuous exposure'. Jets fly sorties in ones or twos, and fly past fairly quickly - it would be impossible for anyone to have 'continuous exposure' to the noise for 2 hours!

The Great Councillini said...

I'm actually qualified in noise assessment and the impact of noise. What Llwyd says is clearly nonsense, although I would be the first to accept that a simple measurement by a machine does not indicate the kind of disturbance a real human suffers.

There are means to tackle the impact, but these are mainly based on the duration of exposure. Things like sudden onset of jet noise are not taken into account, and if you get lots of lying and noise during the day, and not a lot (or none) at night, then the measurement can appear to be better than local people's experience of the noise.

There's a need to improve the way sound is measured to take into account the real nature and impact of the noise on people and livestock (and the environment generally). But there is also a need to be objective, fair, and also understand that, without low flying, which is a very important tactic in almost all conflicts, our pilots would be inadequately trained.

Oh, and we do rather benefit a lot from the presence of RAF Valley. So we might, as many were in Llangefni on the news item, be a lot more forgiving that we otherwise might be.

Elfyn Llwyd needs to find a real cause to fight - but being Plaid Cymru, nobody in Westminster is going to be listening to him.

Anonymous said...

Great Councillini 19.14
You are so unfair!

He sounds good but says nothing

Anonymous said...

19.0 Druid - I think the 100db level measured is *far* exceeded when a jet screams past at low level, even if for a couple of seconds.

Maybe the RAf would be so good as to demonstrate how much noise they really make, but over Llangefni so we can all hear it.

Anonymous said...

Looking at things from the other side of the bridge, it looks to me as if your economic strategy is based on grabbing jobs associated with industries that no right-minded region would want whilst the rest of us endure noise pollution (Valley) and radiation (Wylfa).

Germany etc. should be told to go and play war games in their own airspace and Prince William and his RAF chums should stick to pottering about above Anglesey if that's what island folk want and stop bothering the rest of us.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Anon 20:09 "it looks to me as if your economic strategy is based on grabbing jobs associated with industries that no right-minded region would want whilst the rest of us endure noise pollution (Valley) and radiation (Wylfa)."

Yet all other regions enjoy the benefits of a stable electricity supply, and a well trained, effective military. Whats your point? That we shouldn't have either?

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of alternative options to nuclear, Wylfa's simply not worth the tumours and the military should be scaled back to reflect the realistic defence needs of a small north Atlantic island (Britain not Anglesey).

Where exactly are these aerial threats to Amlwch coming from Druid, Ireland? Belgium, Iceland maybe?

C Griffiths said...

It's very easy for those here to attack Mr Llwyd call, but I would like to know how many here actually experience the boom from low flying aircraft over your home 3 or 4 times a week, even more in summer. It really is hell I can tell you. This isn't party politics, this is a health issue. Hopefully one day aircraft engineers will come up with a new engine desgin that can be used without any of the awful noise it gives off at present.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

C Griffiths: as much as we may sympathise with you this is not, as far as Elfyn llwyd and Plaid are concerned, purely a health issue. If it were Mr Llwyd would be consistent and call for all loud hazardous items such as chainsaws and iPods to be banned or restricted - yet he has never done so - or previously shown any interest in hearing related problems. He is focussing exclusively on military jets and is using your claims of hearing damage as an excuse to try to achieve his ideological aim of removing UK military bases from Welsh soil.

Anonymous said...

We get them daily and they totally traumatise my three year old

Anonymous said...

Any fair minded observer would recognise that Elfyn Llwyd and his colleagues have a long and impressive record of standing up for the interests of our soldiers and exposing the shameful lack of support shown by successive UK governments to those who return from the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan

Anonymous said...

As a Conwy valley farmer, I farm and have lived in the flight path of these jets for the past 40 years. The biggest noise comes from the US jets, they are loud and sometimes spook the cattle but don't cause a problem.
As a Plaid Cymru voter I think his time and effort should be better spent on issues that really affects rural areas, like school closures, high fuel prices and jobs. He doesn't seem to be interested in the closure of Ysgol y Parc in his own constituency.
I think he's pandering to the NIMBY's and is more about vote grabbing from people who have moved into his constituency.
This is an own goal for Elfyn Llwyd and Plaid Cymru.

Anonymous said...

In my dim and distant past I served in the RAF and once attended a meeting between a RAF liaison officer and a particularly belligerent member of the public near Aberystwyth who had made a number of complaints about low-flying aircraft. This was in the days when the Soviet Union were still a threat to the west. Nothing the officer tried in the way of explanation worked on this chap. Eventually exasperation got the better of the officer. He politely asked the man if he had managed to get the number from the side of the fuselage. The reply was in the negative. The officer then asked the man if there were any red stars on the offending aircraft to which the man said "no". The officer's reply was to advise the gentleman that the main reason the aircraft were conducting such exercises was to keep those other planes with the red stars from our airspace. We both got in our car and drove away. I think the same applies today, my son is a pilot in the RAF and I fully support him and his colleagues in their efforts on our behalf. In additon, I would say that Mr Llwyd should consider the fact that there are fewer military aircraft flying in the UK now than at any time since the end of the last war, therefore I would suggest there is far less disturbance from low-flying aircraft that there ever has been in the recent past.

Prometheuswrites said...

There are two issues being discussed here.

One is that of the jobs created by RAF valley and the other is the noise caused by low flying jets.

Having had jets fly directly overhead from behind and found myself involuntarily curling up I am no fan of the noise, however brief.

There is I believe a legal low flying limit of 500 feet.

I have had times when RAF valley planes and helicopters have flown over my house at about 70-100 foot. I have phoned the base complained, explained where I lived and the low flying stopped.

I realise I may have been lucky, plus I don't live in the middle of Ogwen Valley.

Context changes things - when I hear the chug of the sea king rescue helicopter I get a feeling of security. Three F-16's in close formation and I get a feeling of trepidation; (yes they may be here to defend me, but they do on the whole by blowing things to pieces, often people).

The one of the few things that spoils my enjoyment of a sunny afternoon in the garden is when the planes go over.

I'm happy enough with them though, because I know that they are bringing jobs to the area, training pilots, & rescuing people, (and I like waving to the helicopters - you never know, someone might wave back).

Politics on the other hand, is politics.

Prometheuswrites said...

Great. The very next thing I look at tells me that military aircraft are allowed to fly down to 50 foot. 500 foot applies to commercial and private.

It's just too easy to talk bollocks.
The sentiment remains.

Anonymous said...

23.03 Are you the blonde lady from Red Wharf Bay who, when younger used to sunbathe naked
and when the low fliers went by used to 'shake' at them, and now you wave?

No wonder they still fly low, they are on a search mission.

The Great Councillini said...

There is indeed a legal minimum height limit of 500 feet above any person, animal, building, vehicle or vessel. RAF Valley regularly break this limit when recovering helicopters and even smaller civilian aircraft over Anglesey, who they will ask to limit their altitude 'not above 500 feet altitude' (i.e. above sea level - in aviation, altitude means above sea level, height means above the local aerodrome level). Because the landmass of Anglesey reaches several hundred feet above sea level in places, an aircraft can find itself flying much lower than 500 feet above anything on the ground. Remember that the RAF will actually ask you to do this, although it's the pilot's legal responsibility to ensure he complies with the Air Navigation Order and the equivalent military regulations.

Although I'm a pilot myself, I had cause to report a Griffin helicopter (the smaller blue and yellow ones) that was flying too low over the north of the Island recently. The response was that the following day, they decided to be clever and land the thing on a public footpath. It's funny in some boyish way, but these people are legally in charge of an aircraft and other people's safety, so it's ultimately just stupid and unnecessary.

What I suggest disturbs people most is the sudden 'rush' of noise. This is understandable, and has been shown to cause psychological damage in children in Palestine, for example, where the friendly Israelis regularly fly their F-16s at low level and at high to supersonic speeds.

For those who are not familiar with noise measurements, remember that the decibel system is logarithmic, not linear, so that an increase in 3 decibels corresponds to a doubling of loudness. The system is also weighted to allow for the unequal way in which the human ear responds to noise.

Aircrew said...

"We get them daily and they totally traumatise my three year old"

I think that's probably down to how the parent responds to the 'planes, which rubs off on the kids. I've taken my kids to airports since they were big enough to put hands over ears, and they love having the pilots wave at them when waiting at the threshold and looking at the (very) loud jets take off at Valley. I think it's a great way to get kids to see there is more to Anglesey than a corrupt council and and moaning farmers.

For those that say 'foreign' forces should practice over their own soil, you seem to be forgetting that we are a part of Europe and that any conflict these days invariably involves many nations.

Between the lines said...

As someone who lives on the valley flight path, I expect jet noise and particularly low flying as it is a physical aspect of a planes intention to land. Yes they are noisy, but is it causing a health issue? They can be annoying if you are on the phone for example.

I work in an industry that involves noise assessment and I am fully familier with the noise at work regulations. So I brought a noise meter home and tested it around the house. My children playing in the living room had an A weighted average of 88dB and a peak reading of 128dB; a damaging level of noise for prolonged periods . On this evidence will Elfyn and Plaid be asking for a ban on children in the home?

The Great Councillini said...

"My children playing in the living room had an A weighted average of 88dB and a peak reading of 128dB; a damaging level of noise for prolonged periods . On this evidence will Elfyn and Plaid be asking for a ban on children in the home?"

He he. Nothing like a practical example to show how ludicrous Llwyd's 'campaign' is!

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, in my younger less heavy days I was amountain climber. killfylly ascending some flat vertical face on Tryfan (some would haning on, I say skillfuly ascending) there was nothing more thrilling that to hear, almost feel the explosive sound and woooooosh of a jet screaming down the valley, lower that we were.

And today, living under wnat seems to be the roundabout in the sky where the jets 'turn for home' one must look up and admire those highly educated, highly motivated and highly trained young people who, once qualified and fully trained go out to put their lives on the line FOR US, that US even includes the wingers, sorry the Winge Commanders!

They go out and do it for us. We don't know them, but somewhere wives, children and parents worry themselves endlessly until they get that call, "I'm back"

So stop winging and start praising

Anglesey Islander

Over here said...

As you will recall, our beloved leader IWJ AM, has been in a bit of difficulty recently about his new economic policy and lack of transparency over the reasons to pull the plug on IBW. It transpires that IBW where doing rather well thank you very much (with thanks to Dylan Jones-Evans for finding out).

So it was not a surprise to a pessimist like me that Plaid Cymru where keen to find a another controversial story to divert attention.

Step forward Elwyn Llwyd MP with a press release about something he's been banning on about for years now, and we expected to believe he's only recently discovered the German research carried out in 1996. "Well done Green Leader, return to base"

Now who is Plaid's Cymru spin doctor again ?

Anonymous said...

These planes have been flying for years, since I was a kid anyway and I'm far from that now, funny enough one just flew over, did I flinch and crawl behind the sofa, no I did not, for me they are a part of life.

Prometheuswrites said...

Noise Pollution is a hot topic in both Cardiff and closer to home.

Read these two articles:

(The WAG map does't work though)

So .... what's the score on the fish farm? They create jobs.

tuna need a quiet time said...

What did you say sorry, couldn't hear you...the fish are noisy...

Well its' well known that shrimps are very noisy see QI.

Anonymous said...

BTW, It's spelled whinge, not winge.

Anonymous said...

Could the "fighter aircraft noise is beautiful", "I like taking my toddler to watch planes take off I do" and "I'm a fully grown adult who likes waving at men in helicopters" quotes above be the evidence that we're looking for of a link between low flying fighter jets and diminishing IQ levels amongst people who live too close to Vallety ;-)

Anonymous said...


You are not alone people of Anglesey! I live in the flight path of Heathrow airport near London, and I thought I was the only person who thinks that low flying aircraft noise is really brilliant!

Maybe some of us could start up a Facebook site, twinning arrangement or something?

Anonymous said...

Low flying is it, You wingers should be pleased we have such protection on our own door step to ensure the scum of this world don't take us over.
Of-course their no protection from invaders like David Bowles.

Anonymous said...

22:13 Yipee, the swivelled eye extreme right wing is joining us.

I understand now, those wonderful men in their flying machines are here to protect us from the squadrons of flying "scum" that are hell bent on coming to take over the free world via Anglesey. They're probably hiding their planes under their burkas....


Anonymous said...

Elfyn, did you not realise the whole concept of low flying is to save money so that there will be more funds available for Plaid.

What they are doing is training the pilots to fly as low as possible, make as much noise as possible so the Tellytubbies in Helmand say to each other "this is much too noisy lets go and be a nuisance somewhere else" that way we save on bullets, we save on bombs job done!

WavesatHelicopters said...


I thought about shaking my fist at them but couldn't see what good it would do.

The Great Councillini said...

"fighter aircraft noise is beautiful", "I like taking my toddler to watch planes take off I do" and "I'm a fully grown adult who likes waving at men in helicopters"

Ah! Someone who doesn't understand aviation and has no appreciation for it.

Tell you what, would you like a quiz at a venue of your choice to answer questions about the physics of aviation (or just physics of anything)? We could extend to physical and psychological aspects of aviation, too. Then we could test your hypothesis that aviation followers have a low IQ, can't we?

Intolerance. The very definition of 'Britishness'.

Puck said...


I though the clue in 21:47's post was the ;-) at the end.

I'm nominating a sense of humour for that quintessential quality of Britishness.

Anonymous said...

The Great Councillini 6:59 (on here at 6:59!!!)

"Tell you what, would you like a quiz at a venue of your choice to answer questions about the physics of aviation (or just physics of anything)? We could extend to physical and psychological aspects of aviation, too. Then we could test your hypothesis that aviation followers have a low IQ, can't we?"

Erm, let me think, no thanks - I find trainspotting far more interesting.

Puck - absolutely right, but don't point it out, it's far more fun seeing them charging into the trap. :-)}

Anonymous said...

Out of interest Druid, and with reference to 22:31 above in particular, do you tend to get more traffic when there's a full moon?

The IT Crowd said...

"do you tend to get more traffic when there's a full moon?"

No, the traiffc picks up from when the Council offices open. At least, it used to, as I understand from staff that the blog has been blocked to at least some of them now.

Prometheuswrites said...

"THREE RAF jets flew within 200 yards of a helicopter while on a training exercise over Denbighshire".

This is why low fly height limitations exist.

Anonymous said...

Jet Noise the sound of freedom.

Puck said...

Try telling that to the Afghans.
Me, I'm waiting for the skies of Anglesey to be filled with those pilotless drones we hear so much about.
According to the newsmedia, these drones are becoming the vogue in military technology - soon there won't many fighter planes left, (see coalition announcement of funding cutbacks to the MOD) and then it will be goodbye to all that training for fighter pilots. After all, a drone can be piloted from an office in California, from an MOD office in Whitehall, London, or even from a laptop in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Puck said...

Damn it.
Nearly made it to the right hand margin.
Now what's that Maori placename?

andy said...

The pilots have to train at low level in difficult terrain (including at night) to fulfil their primary objective - the defence of the UK.

The are they need to be in has to contain the right terrain and also minimal population.

I vote Plaid but this 'agitation' against the RAF training is wrong. We are currently involved in a bloody and what will be a long guerilla war in mountainous terrain. When the soldiers call for close air support they need to have confidence in the pilot's abilities. Those abilities are gained here and we should in fact take pride in it.

Anonymous said...

Do you actually understand why we are in Afghanistan, and how it relates to the defence of the UK?

I'm asking because I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

I remember the phrase 'anticipatory retaliation' being used to justify US bombing of Cambodia and North Vietnam in the 70's.

I understand the need for well trained, competent air-support in Afghanistan, (we've been hearing too much about non-combatant and friendly fire losses recently).

Please explain to me how this is the same as the defence of the UK. Are you suggesting air-strikes on the home of domestic 'insurgents' or 'Real IRA' "dissidents"?

I say this as I can't see the remotest possibility of Taliban armies (that is who we are fighting I believe) sailing across the channel to attack us.

The recent review for the MOD about the state of security in the UK concluded that our activities in Iraq and Afghanistan had made the UK less secure. It also concluded that the best means to assure security was to work through Intelligence and Diplomatic channels and not military.

Maybe we should encourage the security services to set up a training college on the Island ;-)

Anonymous said...

Do you actually understand why we are in Afghanistan, and how it relates to the defence of the UK?

Actually yes I do. I served a full military career in the Infantry. Two Commanding Officer's from my Division are now MPs and I attend Regimental functions. The reason we are in Afghanistan covers several areas (in no order of merit):-

Firstly, refugees. If we leave Afghanistan there will be a huge refugee crisis in the North West frontier area of Pakistan and other surrounding countries. Experience with the Palestinians and the Former-Yugoslavia shows that the only way to contain a refugee crisis is to intervene directly. Unless you want more Asylum seekers here.

Secondly, we need to control the Swat valley and Herat in order to run a pipeloine through it. Unles you want more expensive gas and petrol.

Thirdly, a qurter of the world's Lithium reserve is in Afghanistan. If we walk away, the Chinese will walk in and the next generation of cars with lithium batteries will be frighteningly expensive because the Chinese wil control the Lithum reserves in Afghanistan along with those in South America.

Fourthly, If the Pashtun Resistance win, al-Quaida will set-up it's training camps again and we will have more 9/11 & 7/7.

We fight the war there where it doesn't matter how much damage we do or we fight it in the cities of the western world.

Your choice.

Anonymous said...

Please explain to me how this is the same as the defence of the UK. Are you suggesting air-strikes on the home of domestic 'insurgents' or 'Real IRA' "dissidents"?

Stop being stupid. This is a political blog therefore it is fair to assume you understand at least the basics of politics. 'Defence of The UK doesn't just mean the sovereign base (ie the UK itself) it also means UK interests overseas.

You knew that surely to God. Please tell me you did or is the damage New Labour did to basic education far bigger than we thought.

Anonymous said...

Anon 0.08

Yes I was de facto ‘being stupid’.
And No, I was educated under a Tory Government. (or I'd be at most 13 years old; and I can't honesty imagine that 13 year old would be interested in following the threads of this blog).

Anonymous said...

1 August 2010 00:03

Thanks, very interesting.

Particularly as only the 4th reason is the official one:

"British Forces are operating in Afghanistan because it became a source of terrorism that threatened Britain and the rest of the world."


It isn't common knowledge that we are in Afghanistan for cheaper petrol, cheaper car batteries in the future, and fewer asylum seekers. Actually none of these things seem worth killing people for, or dying for.

Anonymous said...

Cheaper gas comes through the completion of the TAP project. This helps meet the energy needs of India, Pakistan, and to a degree China. That in turn stops them competing with us for supplies from our suppliers. Toio complete the TAP, southern Afghanistan (which is where the Pashtun Resistance is most active) needs to be stable ( )

As for refugees, a quarter of Bosnia's population became refugees. Because of the p[resence of UNPROFOR followed by SFOR, most of those refugees remained inside or on the borders of that country. If those operations hadn't have been there then not only would those people have headed as far away as possible, but the excesses of the militias (ethnic cleansing) would have been worse resulting in even more refugees.

China has 'hoovered up' a huge amount of the world's lithium. To allow them to secure Afghanistans will give them control of over 50% of the worlds reserves (Afghanistan also has large untapped resources of heavy metals such as Uranium) ( )

Anonymous said...

and IFOR , I forgot them. UNPROFOR, IFOR, SFOR

Anonymous said...

And what about reason number 5?
Securing the poppy field crop.
or have you failed to noticed the ten-fold increase in heroin production, much destined for the European market.

Or is this just another 'unforeseen' consequence of the capitalist-imperialist-adventurist mindset.

The Chinese justification just doesn't stand up.

If the Chinese decided to adopt your rationale:- it's legitimate to use the 'might is right' arguement to achieve economic ends, then I suspect that by virtue of having a common land border with Afghanistan and a miltary force some orders of magnitude greater than our own that they would have no trouble securing the resources if they wished. I do note that the Chinese are indeed securing major sources of material resources, however they are using the old Britsh Empire model of creating a trading network supported by building an economic infra-structure within the (mainly African and South American) countries they are trading with.

By the way where whre were you educated, (Eton/Sandringham)?

The Swat Valley is in Pakistan. Or does it not matter given that these people aren't British Nationals.

And the forth reason is a partial reason - there are plenty of training camps in other destablised regions of the world and I don't see us going in to these places.

And as far creating terrorists goes we don't have to look too far from home or to far back into the past. The activities of the 'Black and Tans' following the Easter Uprising in 1916 was one of the primary factors that lead to the Irish Independence in 1921.

Refugees - The UK takes a smaller percentage of refugees than almost every other EU country - Remember, Afghanistan was never made part of the British Empire/Commonwealth.
Many have tried to control Afghanistan notably the British and the Russians. I don't believe the Mongols managed to control the country, they just 'cleansed' the cities. The last person to 'conquer' the place militarily was Alexander and even he had to marry into the local hierarchy.

So, how do you like those apples?
(attributed - Good Will Hunting)

Anonymous said...

The Chinese reason does very well stand up, especially when you consider that they are buying anything and everything they can lay their hands on raw-materials wise even though they don't need anywhere near the amounts they are securing. To put things in perspective, the Chinese are currently building over 100 airports in the People's Republic which goes to show the sheer size and scale of the country.

Poppy growth has increased because in the lawless areas the Pashtun Resistance use it as a source of funding and in the government -controlled areas they dare not stop it for fear of driving those farmers to support the insurgents.

I never said the Swat Valley was in Afghanistan, I said we need to control the Swat Valley and Herat. To secure that pipeline the Pakistan North West Frontier Area also needs to be brought under control - that is obvious. Although the Pakistani military launched a fairly succesful campaign to partially dislodge the Pashtun militias from the valley area it is still a dangerouis place - particularly at night, and the Pashtun fighters retain the ability to launch quite large one-off operations.

As for how many refugees we take that is of no relevance. Again you have gone off the wrong way. The aim of the game - as I stated and as is UNHCR policy - is to keep the refugees as close to their place of origin as possible otherwise experince shows that they disperse usually as far away as possible.

The comparison of revolutionary Ireland and Afghanistan is also a red-herring. Afghanistan, the Pashtun insurgency, and al-Queda are in no way shape or form comparable to militant Irish Republicanism. On every level - socio-economic, political, military, the scenario is incomparable. Even to a basic fact - tthe Black & Tans were a government militia operating entirely within UK territory in support of the Police force. The Coalitin forces in Afganistan are operating in a foreign country in support of the local government. Completely different scenario.

And it's 'Them Apples'.

Anonymous said...

1. Non combatant casualties create terrorists - according to our own intelligence sources - there's your similarity to Ireland.

2. Flooding is creating more refugees than insurgency - is the solution to build more dams; or should we bomb the rivers?

3. I know it's 'them' - that's why it's an attributation and not a "quote" - I prefer the grammatically correct version - the American's have bastardised the language enough already.

4.There are about 20 times as many Chinese as there are British. What gives us any prior claim or moral imperative to 'secure' Afghanistan's resouces. The arguement that if we didn't do it then someone else would, is a morally bankrupt arguement. Furthermore there are people posting on this blog who seem to think that the English are 'stealing' Welsh water resources. What do you say to them - it's OK because otherwise the French would be buying it all up - (if they haven't already)

5. Please carry on the debate - your points are well reasoned and articulate. I may not agree with you, however I support your right to hold and express your opinions - you may well yet change mine.


The Druid of Anglesey said...

Anons - I'm also enjoying readin your debate. I'm glad this blog has such learned & knowledgeable readers!

Anonymous said...

1. There are always non-combatant casualties. From somewhere just prior to the second World War until now every conflict has produced more civilian casualties than military ones. That creates resentment and hiostility. It does not always create terrorists. It doesn't even create terrorists most of the time. It hardly ever creates terrorists in comparison to the numbers. The Coalition regularly injures and kills Uzbeks and Tajiks in Afghanistan as well as Pashtuns, but they do not join the insurgency. Similalrly in Northern Ireland we injured innocent protestant/loyalists but they didn't flock to the IRA.

2. Flooding is a temporary problem. The insuregency is not. There are already huge displaced persons centres in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan itself- and that actually shows the UNHCR policy of of pouring logistics and aid into keeping the refugees as close as possible to their point of origin is meeting with success.

4. Unfortunately - whether you or anyone else likes it or not - we do not have the raw materials to allow the whole planet to reach the standard of living we have in the west - not even close. If we shared everything equally then we would fall back to a standard of living from decades ago where 'normal' people would not be able to afford cars, fridges etc etc. Now we could manage it so it was a gentle deflation, but that would rely on America agreeing to give up it's addiction to cars and oil (not on the agenda full stop), and India and China accepting they are going to have to slow their growth substantially while we deflate to a mutually acceptable level (again not on the agenda). Therefore in order to maintain (not increase) our lifestyle we need those raw materials. No western government will survive an election going to the people seeking a mandate of reducing lifestyle. We in the west have serious problems and politically there is no way out of it other than allowing a severe crash from which we don't recover, or slowing the crash over a couple of decades n the hpe no-one notices. I believe the Obama Administration now accepts that as a reality and refers to it as 'managing long term irreversible compressive deflationary contraction' in the hope that the American people don't actually realise what that means (which they probably don't). In short, we have just as uch right to it as the Chinese do and it's winner takes all because if we don't take it they definately will.

Anonymous said...

By the way where whre were you educated, (Eton/Sandringham)?

I went to a village primary that only had 2 class rooms - one for the oldest 'year', and one for all the 6 'years' under them. It also only had a total of three teachers. I then passed my 11 plus and went to grammer school.

Anonymous said...

"I went to a village primary that only had 2 class rooms - one for the oldest 'year', and one for all the 6 'years' under them. It also only had a total of three teachers. I then passed my 11 plus and went to grammer school."

We have more in common than I'd imagined.

Anonymous said...

It's not that I disagree so much as having a different perspective.

What was it in that Woody Allen film 'Love and Death':

" It looks completely different down here than it looks to the Generals at the top of the hill"


Anonymous said...

Very relevant article about China's cornering of global raw materials supplies from tomorrow's Telegraph.

Prometheuswrites said...

Yesterdays 22.54:

That was an interesting article in the Telegraph.

The Chinese domination of the worlds ‘rare’ metal resources seems to have two antecedents:

a) The USA ‘taking its eye off the ball’ regarding strategic material resources

b) The economic non-viability of the old rare metal mines in the USA

We could ask whether the current situation is an example of Marx’s “historic materialism” and Frederick Engel’s "materialist dialectic” where, in this case, the opposition is between the owners of the raw resources and those with means to exploit those resources (manufacturers).

Now I don’t entirely agree with Marx, notably his assertions of the ‘withering away of the state once the means of productions are controlled by the proletariat’ and his ‘labor theory of value’, however much of his and Engel’s critique and analysis of capitalism still stands the test of time; mainly the cyclical and contradictory nature of capitalism, (i.e. the latest recession with the conglomeration of the banks and other ‘big business venture capitalism’); and also concepts such as the ‘alienation’ of the worker from the fruits of their labors.

Maybe we could restate some of their writings:

‘A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of resource scarcity’


‘The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of the struggle for the control and exploitation of material resources’

after all in the modern world it’s pretty hard to manufacture things without access to the materials needed for production.

I would also note that the population ratio of the Chinese to that of the USA is about 5:1 - about the same as that of the USA to GB at the time of the economic power shift from the Empire to the USA. (Malthus rules OK)

I would suggest that there is indeed an historical inevitability to the ascendancy of the Chinese hegemony and that it would be a wise and astute move to pursue diplomatic and trade relationships with the Chinese, though I have oft-times wondered what remains in the Chinese memory of the ‘gunship diplomacy’ about 150 years ago that we engaged in, when we forced the Chinese to take our Opium exports and trashed their civilization.

No small point this as I am frequently reminded by our venerable redtop media whenever Germany and a chance to mention the war(ad-tedium) arises. And let us not forget the ‘anybody but England’ approach to football exhibited by the ‘home countries’; and that, 700 years after England invaded Wales.

With regards to ‘Winkers’ comment (2 Aug 18.56) I was intrigued to hear on the radio today a reading of a piece by Rumi about the wise men in a dark room with an elephant (it’s like a: moving fan, water-pipe, strong columns, big throne, round swords) all good but radically different descriptions of the same object. Interestingly it was followed by a piece on George Orwell about an elephant running amok while he was engaged in the ‘dirty work of the Empire in the East’.

Now one thing puzzles me. Should we gain control of these natural resources (lithium for batteries) who is going to be doing the manufacturing?

Presumably the place with the cheapest labor costs and least restrictive manufacturing laws, - most probably China.

Anonymous said...

@ Prometheuswrites 22:54 - A very thoughtful analysis. It is very true to say that at the end of World War 2 there was a massive shift of money and global resource control westwards out of Europe to the USA. It is also veryy apparent that the samething is now happening from the USA to China.

The problem is your last two paragraphs Now one thing puzzles me. Should we gain control of these natural resources (lithium for batteries) who is going to be doing the manufacturing? Presumably the place with the cheapest labor costs and least restrictive manufacturing laws, - most probably China.

The reality is China is going hell-for-leather to boost it's internal markets. As we in the west go through what the Americans chillingly refer to as 'long term irreversible compressive deflationary contraction', I think you'll find that the end game is that the Chinese (nad Indians) will be consuming goods manufactured using cheap labour alright - here in the west!!

Role-reversal. It's the only conclusion other than World War 3 to prevent it.

Prometheuswrites said...


I fear you are correct in your conclusion of role-reversal.

However as one of the earlier posters pointed out there just aren't enough resouces or energy supplies to provide all the people living on the planet with the standard of living that we currently enjoy over here.

Presumably some sort of economic osmotic balance will kick in eventually.

The curse of the age is wealth inequality, both global and local (UK) and until resolved will keep creating and formenting social instability.

One thing I've never really understood about inorganic material aquisition is that the planet is big .... bloody big.
The deepest humans have managed to drill down is about 12 Kilometers down, at which point it's too hot for the hardest drill heads to work. Now that is a gigantic heat supply/energy source that could be tapped into. The core is estimated to be at about the same temperature as the surface of the sun, (not the corona) so it should supply the needs of a technologically advanced civilization at least till we could get into the far reaches of the solar system and replenish the inorganic hydro-carbons (methane on Jupiters moons).

The Earth's crust is on average about 35 Kilometres thick, out of a total diameter of some 5000 Kilometres so there must be huge amounts of minerals and ores extractable from both the crust and the magma (mantle).

The problem with using up all of the organic resources is that as it was created by life forms then it's only avaiable in the topmost layer of the geostrata where deposits were laid down on top of the oil/gas/coal.

I guess the questions are:

1) at what point will be become economically necessary to deep mine the crust? (like when the price of oil became expensive enough to justify oil extraction from the Alberta shales - though I suspect they don't factor in the ecological damage when 'justifying' extraction)

2) Will we use up all our organic hydro-carbons before we switch to a truely sustainable energy supply?

Anonymous said...

I think the aim now is to persue nuclear fusion. It is cheap, clean and literally inexhaustable. The problem is at the moment it's highly unstable.

I have engineer friends who work out in the Gulf for the oil companies. Oil itself is not a problem - there's loads of it. The two problems are:-

1. Cost of extraction. Within a couple of decades at current use, more than half of the oil left will be unextractable for less than US$ 200 per barrel at today's prices.

2. We are at near peak of refining capacity. For a brief period a couple of years ago we were actually consuming more than maximum refining capacity. It was around the time of the big jump in oil price (to around $150-ish) and it was only the financial crash and subsequent economic down-turn that brought oil down in price. A refinery takes 8-10 years to build and bring on line. There are no plans by any oil company to build more refineries. The reason is that oil is a finite resource. Once it's gone that's it and it is not in the oil companies interests to refine more or extract faster. If they do all it will do is bring the price down and because it's cheaper increase consumption.

The oil companies want the exact opposte - as high a price as possible coupled with consuption that makes the resource last as long as possible.