The environmental movement is facing one of its biggest-ever reverses, over one of its most cherished causes: Save The Whale.
In a remarkable diplomatic coup, Japan, the leading pro-whaling nation, is poised to seize control of whaling's regulatory body, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and so hasten the return of commercial whale hunting, which has been officially banned worldwide for the past 20 years.
While the world has been looking the other way, the Japanese have spent nearly a decade and many millions of dollars building up a voting majority in the IWC, by buying the votes of small member states with substantial foreign aid packages.
Their aim is to reverse the moratorium on commercial whaling brought in by the IWC in 1986 as a result of the long Save The Whale campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental pressure groups...
They did so by a form of entryism - encouraging small, poor countries to join the IWC, most of which had no previous whaling tradition at all, and some of which - such as Mali and Mongolia - did not even have a coastline. In return, the new IWC members were given multimillion-dollar aid packages.