Saturday, 24 June 2017

Glastonbury: Britain, War and 'Empire is No More'.

'Tens of thousands gathered to watch Corbyn in the mid afternoon, a crowd of the size typically reserved for Glastonbury headliners. Almost all watching were fans; many wore T-shirts bearing his face or name, and there were banners of appreciation in the crowds. 
“When Theresa May called the snap election, going back on what she said previously, Corbyn had a right to challenge that,” said Danny Owen, 27.  
“He’s been challenged by his own party twice and over came it. He galvanised it and Labour made inroads because of Corbyn and his manifesto. He’s become a figurehead now. He’s relatable. People say he’s radical, but I don’t think he is – he wants fair wages and outcomes and well funded social services. The fact people see that as radical is a sad indictment of our society.'
Corbyn is radical in the fundamental sense of being a politician with an ideological vision of Britain that requires root and branch reform, even one of democratic social and economic revolution. This is to achieved by transforming Britain from a post-imperial state into a radical socialist commonweal 'for the many, not the few'.

Shelley was much like Corbyn, a radical anti-Establishment figure who himself came from the privileged class and rebelled against the class hierarchies and cruelties of the British Imperial state in the age of falling wages, impoverishment and huge debts racked up by involvement in the Napoleonic Wars.

Parliament, as in 2017 as two centuries before saw social hardships, mass demonstrations and a drive towards radical reform. This was an age of revolution and Corbyn is knowingly tapping into this vein of native British radicalism in offering his 'alternative vision', one appealing to students as much as heritage radicals.

Corbyn, after all, comes as the ultimate alternative to Tony Blair who came to power in 1997 and fought wars in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and, fatefully, the catastrophic invasion of Iraq. It's been a period of war in the Middle East and what Corbyn has portrayed as a growing cycle of violence and 'inevitable' terrorist blowback.

Wars and the 'war on terror' are interconnected just as they were for radicals in the 1830s who were feared as surging mobs waiting to murder the elites and overthrow the existing order. As Adam Zamoyski has related, old regime states then conjured up exaggerated plots so as to justify increased police and surveillance powers.

This is very much true of Theresa May whose cold, pale and remote visage and 'dead eyed' callous demeanour is considered like those thundered against by Shelley in the Masque of Anarchy ( 1819 ). With riots predicted after the Grenfell Tower fire, London could well be heading for a time of violence and police repression.

Billy Bragg has long been an ally in this radical plebeian English challenge to 'the Establishment' Britishness he opposed in the early 1980s when he and Paul Weller launched 'Red Wedge'. He now plays at venues in Dorset celebrating the Tolpuddle Martyrs of 1834 and then retires to his large village house.

Politics has been galvanised once more by Brexit towards issues of identity and power politics as well as the prospect of polarisation between rival left and right nationalism. May's Brexit is a post-imperial one that draws on Britain's supposed Great Power role in the world whereas Corbyn's Labour wants a socialist commonwealth.

Both visions are very British ones, though Corbyn's is anti-nationalist in so far as it is against the idea of Britain being an imperialist state one that 'turns swords into ploughshares' and through a great abnegation of its power would act to promote true 'internationalism' by ending empire and being a force for peace in the UN.

The irony of this is that it implies in no way Britain simply adapting after Brexit to the diminished position in the world both Leaving the EU and rejecting the US 'special relationship' would mean. The US is heading towards a war with Iran and this could mean rejecting Trump entirely and Saudi Arabia.

The vision also is antiquated because Britain simply isn't that important any more, so the abnegation and moral example setting advocated by radicals in the 1960s and 1970s by those like Tony Benn is even less relevant in 2017 than it was when Corbyn was his model pupil and greatest fan in Parliament.

Glastonbury as a concert and heritage spectacle harks back to the long peace after the Second World War and the 1960s spirit of youthful optimism. Wilson kept Britain out of Vietnam but this was back in the day when Britain did not have such a toxic and close connection with Saudi Arabia and integrated arms deal connection.

This summer is destined not to be 'one of love' but more like one of emerging terror and tension as Trump escalates hostilities towards Iran, Britain proceeds with Brexit and is faced with the potential for a decision as to whether back Trump or stay out. It's going to be fateful if this looks to be the case, not least as riots are predicted already.

Any attempt by Great Game playing politicians such as Foreign Secretary Johnson to align behind Trump would lead to direct confrontation on the streets between anti-war protesters, those angered and incensed by the decaying neoliberal regime of austerity and the fraying fabric of social infrastructure on the brink of collapse.

Trump has already put off a state visit to Britain through 'fear' of mobs and demonstrations that called upon a 'British resistance' to his 'regime' and May being an uncritical and slavishly obedient client. Tony Blair is universally loathed for the Iraq War and a war on Iran would be even more controversial given the effect Blair's war had.

Britain as a Tired Global Player.

Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons, has come under fire for calling on broadcasters to be “a bit patriotic” in their Brexit coverage.
Politics is a game, despite May's attempt to pretend it isn't while acting very much so as though it is. What Leadsom is doing is trying to play a slightly UKIP line about the media not being free and dominated by a sinister liberal elite. The accusation, then from Farron, that Leadsom is 'sinister' means then, that Farron is 'sinister'.

Calling for the media to be 'a bit patriotic' implies the idea it is trying to sabotage Leaving the EU, one which might have an element of truth as many liberals are very unhappy and resentful about it and so want to balance the right wing media bias for Leave with 'a bit' of its own bias in showing May in every photo looking deranged.

'But she is deranged and evil !' squeal the detractors. The point, however, is that it's a sign of a lack of confidence in arguments and reason for the liberal media and politicians to start playing the same subtle mass media conditioning mechanisms as the Daily Mail, the Daily Express or other abysmal 'newspapers'.

May is a sinister authoritarian but the trend towards that was set in motion long ago by the Blair regime and its spin machine and post-truth politics. Brexit has only given an added impetus to the potential for a melding of media and political power towards a model that exists in Putin's Russia. But it wasn't the cause of it.

Certain liberal progressives are just in a tantrum because the politics of mass manipulation and conditioning of opinion on no rational and post-truth grounds has been seized upon with greater zeal by the populist right in Britain. When New Labour was at it, it was at best mildly criticised and seen as a regrettable necessity in modern politics.

Unfortunately, liberal progressives are reaping the consequences of the post-truth politics they pursued with patronising disdain for 'the masses' in their heyday during the Blair years. The lack of public confidence in a relentlessly bland and manipulative set on 'on message' clone MPs and the Iraq War discredited them entirely.

It set the way forwards for a populist 'tell it like it is' anti-liberal establishment politicians like Nigel Farage to rise and push Brexit as a 'solution'. The Iraq War was unpopular not only with the left and liberals who suddenly discovered Blair was into manipulation and deception but also with the populist right who saw him as 'Bliar'.

The hard truth is Britain's dysfunctional political system barely works any more and it could be heading for a crisis of legitimacy as economic volatility increases. The EU is not actually in broad sunlit uplands either and this could make for a period of political turbulence and also a renewed upsurge in nationalism, not least in Britain.

'British nationalism' is a paradox as Britain is actually the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There is no 'British nation' but a dynastic state that unified multiple 'nations' together under one crown from the Tudor period onwards or, from arguably, an earlier time. Even so Britain is not a nation.

The UK, however, was an imperial state in which 'Britishness' was fostered as a project of unionism and as a Great Power to which allegiance and affection could be nurtured. The closer integration with the EU, for good or ill, had tended to water this down a lot by the 1990s with Blair's devolution for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Leave vote in the 2016 referendum shakes all this once more. As Brexit proceeds in turbulent times, any deterioration of EU-British relations could well lead to a resurgence of Britishness once more. The indications are this could have been a factor in the Tory success in the June 2017 election which saw 'indyref2' decisively rejected.

Politics has been galvanised once more by Brexit towards issues of identity and power politics as well as the prospect of polarisation between rival left and right nationalism. May's Brexit is a post-imperial one that draws on Britain's supposed Great Power role in the world whereas Corbyn's Labour wants a socialist commonweal.

Both visions are British ones, though Corbyn's is anti-nationalist in so far as it is against the idea of Britain being an imperialist state and one that turns swords into ploughshares and through a great abnegation of its power would act as a Great Power promoting true 'internationalism' by ending empire and being a force for peace in the UN.

The irony of this, as AJP Taylor once pointed out as regards CND and the peace campaigners, is that it depends on Britain retaining this status as a Global Player. It might be that if Brexit, soft or hard or however 'staged', means a turn away from Great Power status through nuclear weapons and military power, then it effectively means no global role.

Britain, in other words, under Corbyn would be better off simply permanently renouncing its status as a Global Player and becoming a nation as insignificant as Switzerland or Norway. This would imply a certain determination to break with the post-1945 US led Western order and imply the final conclusive end to Britain's imperial story.

Of course, that isn't what Corbyn is openly calling for as it certainly is not want the PLP would want with so many of it having geared their careers and status up towards strutting around as Global Players. But, as Linda Colley has made plain, it is time that the British might have to learn to let go of their sense of entitlement in the world.

While that would appear to be clear with the stalling elite Brexit populist project offered by May, it seems less the case with Corbyn's alternative Bennite vision of the socialist millennium which implies it could afford both Brexit, though a 'soft one', a social and economic programme of nationalisation and social welfare spending.

The Labour manifesto, though 'costed', depended on the economy ticking along without the cost of Brexit. If that's on the agenda, then Colley suggests Labour would really have to consider whether it could really afford Trident renewal. Corbyn was against but he puts out controversial decisions to 'collegiate' ones when they threaten his leadership.

Britain is best by two competing visions of the future, neither of which from either party is connected much to the reality of priorities or of telling the British public that if it wants Brexit, it cannot remain a Global Player and its decline to a more insignificant offshore island means getting used giving up on a lot of its influence in the world.

Many in Britain might accept this as a cost for splendid isolation'. There is barely any appetite for military interventionism or the idea of making the globe safe for democracy elsewhere. The Blair, Brown and Cameron years and the folly and waste of the Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya Wars have put an end to this.

Even so, the elites are loath to give up on their status through self importance and obsessive arrogance and careerism, as well as the liberal idea Britain is an internationalist force, a microcosm of multi-culti harmony and diversity that could act as a model for how the world ought to be and could be if only we willed it into existence.

The irony is that Corbyn believes this just as much as any Conservative believes in it. It's just that the Tories realise a military is needed to sit 'at the top table' and be in a position to 'intervene' to make the world 'better' for the sake of those suffering under tyrannies that impede its geopolitical interests and those of its American partner.

The only possibility this could finally be ended would be is President Trump decides to scale up the drive towards a war against Iran over geopolitical clashes in eastern Syria, a Third Lebanon War between Hizbollah and Israel and the looming diplomatic crisis over Saudi Arabia's ultimatum to Qatar over its tilt towards Tehran in the Gulf.

With Corbyn as long term anti-war politician who rose to the top by being the ultimate nemesis of Tony Blair and opponent of his wars with the US, the stage could be set for stormy political confrontation over the 'special relationship' with the US and whether it would be prepared to oppose the US over military action against Iran.

The post-1945 US led order is beginning to fragment. Trump has already shown disinterest in the EU and of NATO and any multilateral model in international power politics preferring to strike bilateral deals with independent Global Powers. This indicates a reversion to a more nineteenth century approach to Great Power politics.

These sea changes are set to be dramatic and potentially traumatic. The US remains the Global Superpower but a Brexit Britain would be globally less able to play its old role as 'bridging power' between the US and EU. At best, Britain would become Norway or more like Singapore, a rich trading state but no diplomatic weight.

Shifting away from the EU might, in reality. mean deepening the military alliance as a mini-me version of the US and that would mean even more lack of manoeuvre in opposing US wars and willingness to go along with them, not least as the US-Saudi alliance is central to the US-UK military industrial complex of which BAE is part.

All these possibilities and drawbacks, some might argue new opportunities, are there but the realities need to be confronted clearly without illusions or even delusions. This means a return to proper political arguments, debates based on facts, evidence and putting the case of alternatives before the British electorate beyond media propaganda.

Britain needs a more 'grown up' political and media culture, one that isn't based so obsessively in 'shaping the narrative' and spin. If one good thing could come out of Brexit and the rise of Corbyn's leftist populism, it is that political discussion is going to have to revert more to logical and reasoned political arguments and less choreography.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Boris Johnson as Potential Third World War Leader ?

'Second favourite ( Boris Johnson ) remains Britain’s foremost stupid-person’s-idea-of-a-clever-person... If I understand this theory correctly, Johnson deliberately sabotaged himself this week because he knows that the favourite never wins in a Tory leadership contest.'
Boris Johnson is positioning himself to takeover as PM but circumstances and events will determine who steps in. The US at present is heading for a conflict with Iran, one that is not being reported in the British media at all, until it suddenly breaks as a main news item once the crisis spirals up 'out of nowhere' and dominates the agenda.

Then Johnson as Foreign Secretary would take centre stage in aligning firmly behind Trump as most of the Westminster establishment will over Iran's dangerous use of ballistic missiles and WMD threat. Depending on how the media tries to 'shape the narrative', Johnson could well pose as staunch patriot against Corbyn as 'enemy within'.

It would be reassuring the think that the majority of the British public would not fall for the pretexts about an 'Iranian threat' replacing that of the crumbled and disintegrated Caliphate. But given the 'special relationship' remaining popular, despite Trump being regarded as an unstable loon, it would depend on public opposition.

This is depressing but a war with Iran is increasingly probable and the evidence is pointing towards Trump's administration gearing up for conflict over clashes in eastern Syria. Saudi Arabia's ultimatum to Qatar, one driven partly by its tilt towards Tehran over their joint new gas project in the Persian Gulf, is raising the stakes.

The US is reported to be blundering in to conflict over Syria while escalating hostilities towards Iran over its ballistic missile program and for firing one at eastern Syria a few days ago. In February 2017, Johnson was sharing Netanyahu's concern over Iran's missile program and is firmly aligned behind Trump's foreign policy.

If a war were to break out later in the summer of 2017, Johnson, who sees himself as having 'the Churchill factor', would be at the forefront of the drum beat towards British military intervention and using it to present himself as an Anglo-American 'strongman' who is 'shoulder to shoulder' with Trump's administration.

In these circumstances, Parliament would see stormy sessions and it would be up to Corbyn to take the anti-war stance. The question then would be whether the PLP would all align behind Corbyn on whether they would see an attempt to express solidarity with the US as a pretext to discredit and bring down Corbyn.

All of this is extreme speculation. But it's worth getting psychologically prepared for as geopolitical and foreign policy experts are extremely worried about both the seemingly blind drift towards conflict with Iran and the way US politicians are starting to rationalise the prospect of conflict as a way of regaining hegemony.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Media and Government: Hand in Velvet Glove Against Terrorism.

One of the reasons May is able to push through these snooping laws and advance the power of the authoritarian national security state is because journalists are not doing their job in holding its power to account as and when it immediately matters. In particular, the media accepts government claims of 'terrorist attacks'.

With regard the Westminster Bridge Attack, there is very little evidence is was a 'terrorist attack' and more that Khalid Masood was simply a deracinated drifter with a history of drug addiction and violence who branded himself a foot soldier of jihad simply in order to have a cause that he could die for instead of living for nothing.

The fact IS claims those such as Masood a one of its own and that May's surveillance and security state claims that too is quite convenient if the aim is to use what would be remembered as 'a summer of terrorism' to claim amplified powers to monitor all forms of 'extremism', depending on what's 'extreme'.

The danger is that 'extremism' could be extended down in a sliding scale to those considered enemies for questioning government media narratives designed to 'shape perceptions' and augment unaccountable power so as to 'keep us safe'. The surveillance would be extended to investigative journalists and truth activists.

As regards Masood, he spent five years in Saudi Arabia and yet no media organisation nor the government appeared to ask questions as to what he might have been doing there apart from teaching English. Flowers were laid, the usual bizarre grief cult was put into action, with vigils and printed posters deployed.

Then it was, as the old Blairite refrain went 'time to move on'. Until the Manchester terrorist attack, one which heightened surveillance powers were claimed might have prevented but which was actually far more of a 7/7 attack and connected to jihadi networks that reached from Manchester into Libya.

Media attention on that then, after May fumed at the US leaks, went down the Orwellian memory hole once the government sought to reshape the narrative once more in claiming Abedi would seem to have acted alone. The emphasis shifted to him as more on a 'lone actor' despite the weight of evidence to the contrary.

The claim for heightened surveillance powers is a sinister one made by authoritarians such as May and that could be pushed not for reasons purely of domestic security but because of reason's of state that are not to be mentioned openly, such as , perhaps, knowledge that foreign policy and Saudi connections are a factor in terrorism.

Britain 2017 : 'A Summer of Terror' and Political Polarisation.

Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, has opined, as regards the white van attack outside Finsbury Park mosque that 'police were on the scene and responded within one minute. Within eight minutes they had declared it a terrorist attack.' There is as yet no evidence this was a 'terrorist attack' rather than a straightforward hate crime.

There is no evidence he was part of a group with an ideology or any far-right ultranationalist movement that parallels Al Qaeda or that was the motive was political. The same is true of Khalid Masood, the Westminster Bridge attacker. He came as though out of nowhere, ran down five people, murdered a police officer and was shot by police.

Masood spent five years in Saudi Arabia but he was barely known at any mosque and was a convert with 'anger management issues', a low life deracinated drifter who self-identified as a jihadist and a history of violence and drug use. There was barely any dissent as to whether this really was a terrorist attack or if it was not.

One reason is this weird collective flower bearing and grief culture, one in which narcissism and emotion prevails over reason and evidence, of asking the necessary sceptical and probing questions that would put terrorism in its proper context. The Manchester Terrorist Attack was clearly just that, though. oddly, it's not emphasised.

Terrorism is a method and it's used to advance a political or politico-religious goal or set of goals. IS blows up targets to stimulate outrage against Muslims so it triggers off polarisation between the West and Muslim World, an end-time war. That may well appeal to rootless drifters and those who regard themselves as foot soldiers in a cause.

But unless they are actually connected to networks, they are more like free lance psychopaths self identifying with a cause so they can die for something rather than nothing. In the case of Masood and the Westminster Bridge Attack, IS claimed it but it claims every free lance one for it even if it doesn't not know who they are.

In which case, without evidence the 'lone attacker' is connected to a network, they are not terrorists. It might be proved Masood had connections to jihadi groups while spending five years in Saudi Arabia as an English teacher. But that isn't a fact the media or government thinks is worth investigating, for some odd reason.

Masood should not be given the title 'terrorist' just because IS wants to claim it. There is a weird symbiosis often. The government wants just as much as IS to claim these attacks are 'terrorist' when it is not clear why they are and to play down as 'lone wolf' those that obviously are jihadi terrorist attacks such as the Manchester Terrorist Attacks.

It's all about 'shaping the narrative' to the government's political ends and that the police and security services are in on these acts should raise disturbing questions. Within days of Salman Abedi's suicide bomb blast, the media was focusing more on 'his last movements' after a flurry of arrests yielded no network and on him as 'lone agent'.

This was convenient given the obvious fact Abedi was part of long term jihadi networks facilitated by the government in its geopolitical game against the Libyan state of Colonel Gaddafi, one where jihadists could be deployed as 'assets' in that struggle to oust him by assassination, as in the 1990s, or by military uprising, as in 2011.

While Abedi and the British-Libyan network has virtually been given no media attention and has been eclipsed by that old Blairite imperative 'it's time to move on' with the Grenfell Tower Block fire or with the Finsbury Park attack or any other mass media covered disaster as spectacle and drama to be pointlessly covered 24/7.

Bigging up these attacks into 'terrorism' just contributes to an exaggerated menace, justifying greater powers for the authoritarian national security state. This Darren Osbourne, the attacker, could well be a psychopath with drug abuse issues and voices in his head. It's far too early to conclude it's a 'terrorist attack'.

As regards the jihadi-salafist ideology that drives terrorism, Amber Rudd stated at the start of June the government report of 2015 into Saudi funding of this ideology in Britain was only an 'internal report'. Nothing has been mentioned on that, it's conveniently slipped down the memory hole as the election ended and more events followed.

To Jeremy Corbyn's credit, he has demanded the report published. However, it is not clear whether he is genuinely interested in 'the truth' of Saudi funding of jihadi ideology or whether he would prefer to attack one basis for the US and UK strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia and align more towards both Russia and Iran in the Middle East.

Even if this were the aim, the demand the report is published and not suppressed is a serious test of whether Britain is going to move closer towards a more Kremlinoid model of a national security state or whether facts inconvenient to a corrupt and deeply corrupting 'special relationship' are going to be prevented from entering the public domain.

The reason why the attack on Finsbury Park mosque was designated 'within eight minutes' as a 'terrorist attack' was purely political in so far as any attack on Muslims in Britain had to be regarded as that given the Westminster Attack by Khalid Masood was so designated too. Britain is engaged in a media narrative war with IS.

If the Finsbury Park attack had not been termed 'terrorist', as a purely objective assessment of the crime scene the attack would not have, then the fear, and it is a fear, would be that IS or other jihadi Islamist groups would exploit the double standards to portray British Muslims as second class citizens who are not victims.

The problem with creating a state of emergency and of fear of terrorism is that it could be counter-productive in politically turbulent times. The politicisation of terrorism, the coopting of 'terror' to bolster certain foreign policy and domestic security agendas could well be, with Corbyn's controversial ideas, playing with fire.

The Rising Prospect of Political Polarisation and Cultural Warfare

There is a lot of hatred and vitriol out there and social media is multiplying the psychopathology. The stage is being set for vicious cultural warfare and not only from 'extremists' but also between large numbers identifying with mutually polarised political positions, right and left following the Leave vote and Brexit.

Corbyn's spin doctor is Seumas Milne, a public school boy Leninist who framed the 9/11 terrorist attacks simply as what was 'visited upon them' because of US foreign policy. This came out even before Al Qaeda was formally identified as the perpetrators and was written to insinuate 'they had it coming' as a historical inevitability.

Milne's view of terrorism is that it is merely a part of the blowback cycle of violence that necessarily comes from an 'imperialist' western foreign policy, which is actually not that far from that of jihadi Islamist groups themselves. Anger at the undoubted hypocrisy of the British state shaded into a form of moral nihilism

Indeed, Corbyn is positioned as 'man of peace' but, of course, by that he means that the terrorist threat would simply 'stop' when 'the war' stops. But that war means not just Iraq or Libya but even theatres where Britain has had no military role such as with Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. It's all interconnected.

Wherever any force considered 'Western' is in conflict with any force considered 'Islamic Other', one 'othered' by Milne and other leftist radicals for the convenience of the battle lines being drawn up, then Corbyn has tilted towards rationalising the violence as a mere reflex action against 'our imperialism' and state policies.

This is subsumed within the twin concepts of 'racism' and 'Islamophobia' meaning that any criticism of jihadi movements, no matter now much antisemitism or occidental hatred that fuels them, or criticism of intolerant forms of Islam, are to be proscribed as a deflection away from the prime responsibility of the West and 'Imperialism'.

The other side to that was the obvious fact there was this daft rhetoric of 'liberal humanitarian intervention' and 'liberal imperialism' touted by opinion formers in the early 2000s in the run up to the war in Iraq. The idea that military intervention was about taking on 'terrorism' was a staple claim in the 'war on terror'

It was in reaction to the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars that the StWC developed and a lot of its protests were not back then, as Corbyn is pretending now, about citing expert opinions that it would practically enable jihadist groups to spread and gain ground. In fact, back then Corbyn and the hard left were making different claims.

It was about opposing Britain as an 'imperialist power' and using the outrage at an attack on a 'Muslim country' to ramp up the outrage so as to use it to build a popular front run by the hard left ranged against the British state. These details are forgotten now that Corbyn is positioning himself as a responsible statesman

The Desperation of Hope over Experience.

Corbyn is presented in 2017 as though a Nordic style social democrat, though he's far more of a far left socialist ideologue who rebranded himself as offering a kinder and warmer, more inclusive sort of politics in which Britain would remodel itself as a universal force for love, open borders, anti-imperialism and, of course, hope.

As John Gray pointed out, this is a form of populism for the middle classes, especially those based in London and other fortresses of globalised multi-culti 'at-oneness' and searching for salvation through a new secular saint and messiah that offers utopia as a substitute for the populist nationalism that accompanied the Brexit vote.

Depending on how Brexit proceeds, Corbyn could seem to the British public to offer another counter vision of Britain that goes back to the 1970s and, in its own way, clings to a nostalgic idea of a period of lost socialist idealism and Bennite ideas of transforming a declining post-imperial state into socialist millennium.

As the post-1945 global order declines with the US mired in domestic disputes over President Trump's alleged 'Russian connections' and lack of belief in US support for NATO and multilateralism, Corbyn would appear to be a leader that could finally relieve Britain of its post-war role as upholder of a US led world order.

The danger with this is with Britain's potential for absolute decline, whether global events, such as a revived IS or similar organisation or Iran, could  trigger off vicious polarisation within Britain as to its role in  maintaining 'world order'. If Corbyn is regarded as 'threat to the West', all manner of heated attacks are bound to mount up.

It is thought Corbyn has taken a back seat on security and even Brexit in favour of his acting as a radical tribal totem pole for the socially and economically alienated. It would be the PLP that would decide on Trident renewal and on defence. But with Corbyn as potential PM, there would surely be a new approach to defence and foreign policy.

This is why the prospect of war over the Persian gulf could be dangerous. With the Conservatives being cornered by May's desperate coalition with Northern Ireland's Paisleyite DUP, the idea of re-affirmative military action against Iran in some form could offer an 'escape forwards' from the fall out from Brexit is spun a certain way.

Monday, 19 June 2017

A Short Note on Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson only benefits from the idea he might be merely a semi-comic buffoon as well as a wit. Clearly, he has wit but he uses the comic mask as one that enables him to move around behind it in ways that are quite ruthless. If Johnson is both comic and provocative, it means he can portray opponents as boring comic book leftists.

Whether of not Johnson has a 'Churchill Factor' is highly dubious. He's clearly manoeuvring himself towards becoming PM in future and seemed quite amused that the snap election called by May backfired on her badly. He looked quite perky, grinning as he denied any ambition to take over from May.

Even so, Johnson is dangerous. In his foreign policy, he would seem to be quite supportive of President Trump. At present, there is a diplomatic war between Qatar And Saudi Arabia and while he has called for a resolution of this, he has tended to align with both Trump and Netanyahu in regarding Iran as the major threat.

Qatar's tilt towards Iran against Saudi Arabia, and the scramble for control between Iranian backed forces and US supported ones in eastern Syria as the power of ISIS collapses, could mean a clash between the Western Powers an Iran is brewing in the near future. A Third Lebanon War is looming closer as well.

Trump is not well regarded in Britain, so if May and Johnson were to try to pledge British support for US over military strikes against either Assad or Iran, this would detonate controversy within Britain and the opportunity for Johnson, flanked by Gove, to try and bring out divisions within the PLP over the 'special relationship'.

Johnson might be considered a comic figure. But it's in the serious political poses he might strike where he is at his most buffoonish, in line with large number of Britain's incompetent governing elites as they lurch from crisis to crisis domestically. In both the US and Britain, the potential of blundering into war abroad is increasing.

Tony Blair Gets Back in On an Act.

Failed politicians seem to be rebranding themselves as entertainers the better to position themselves for potential comebacks. Ed Miliband is seconding as a DJ. Ed Balls has gone on to Come Dancing. The Great Get Together weekend tried to get politicians in on comedy sketches to make them appear just as human as others.

While it's unpleasant that politicians are quite as disliked as they have been, there seems no reason to have them pose as 'friends of the people' in a chummy, even celebrity way as close friends. This is not required of politicians. They might often be quite bad as actors but they should stop trying so hard to become 'popular' beyond politics.

Before Corbyn's surge as authentic existentialist hero in the election, Tony Blair was regarded as having a "toxic brand". He was keeping silent over terrorist attacks so as to save his 'intervention' as champion of the 48% to get popularity back. The plot to get a new Progress Party going pooped and Blair was silent.

Then he popped back up as part of a comedy sketch at the Great Get Together weekend. It might be that Blair could now pose as tragic and misunderstood, back to a darker version of his 1997 'normal kinda guy' who really just preferred pop music and football to going into politics because he 'really believed in it'.

My prediction is Blair will muscle in next with the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana and his contribution to her canonisation as secular saint. This weird mood of mass grief and emoting over rational thought and action is back in popularity again. This could well be the time for Blair to have an emotional experience.

The US, Britain and the Coming War with Iran

'This is where the United States should be putting its efforts. People in the region understand that until there is a serious US interest in a political solution, it won’t happen. Even if Trump is only interested in “putting America first”, he would do well to stop being involved in dropping bombs on Yemenis' 
-America will regret helping Saudi Arabia bomb Yemen, Guardian, June 20 2017
When it comes to US foreign policy, the 'ought' is very far from the 'is', one reason Washington elites have contempt for him and would prefer it if he was removed. His foreign policy is quite in continuity with that which came before and, if anything, it was probably less aggressive over Syria than Hillary Clinton's.

Had Clinton won the 2016 election, it is possible she would have responded to the alleged Assad gas attacks with much more of a military escalation than Trump's 'shot across the bows' when he fired 59 Tomahawk missiles. Likewise, the US military assistance to the Saudi bombardment of Yemen was Obama's policy.

The problem with Trump is that he doesn't even know how to use US influence to balance between Tehran and Riyadh. The decision to back Saudi Arabia against the Houthis was partly about reassuring Riyadh that Washington was not tilting towards Tehran too much over the 2014 nuclear weapons deal.

This strategy was necessary as Iranian backed forces were needed to shore up the struggle against IS in northern Iraq. It was also about instilling in the minds of the Saudis that while the US was a staunch military and security ally, the tilt towards Tehran mean support for the Saudis was not completely unconditional.

Trump sees Iran as a top US enemy. As the Caliphate disintegrates, the prospect of Iranian backed militias filling the void has led to a scramble for control not just in northern Iraq but also in eastern Syria. If Iranian proxies were to seize that region, Tehran would have a land bridge through to Damascus and Southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah would stand to have a direct supply line from Iran and the 'Shia crescent' is regarded as a direct threat not only to Saudi Arabia but also to Israel where simmering tensions over control over Eastern Mediterranean gas reserves and geopolitical antagonisms have threated to start a Third Lebanon War.

This connects to Yemen as Hezbollah has aligned with the Houthis against the Saudis who all along feared covert Iranian attempts to assert control over the Bab El-Mandheb Strait, a major geopolitically significant chokepoint through which oil tanker traffic flows. It would also threaten the integrity of Saudi Arabia from within.

The Qatari support for democratic Islamism across the Middle East since 2011, but existing before the Arab Spring, created fear of Shia Muslims rising up in eastern oil producing regions within Saudi Arabia. It was for this reason Riyadh rolled the tanks into Bahrain to crush the uprising in 2012 as part of an Iranian plot.

With Syria's Sunni rebels being crushed by decisive Russian and Assad military force in east Aleppo in December 2016, Qatar realigned back towards Iran over developing Persian Gulf gas fields. That, and Qatar's readiness to thumb its nose at the GCC states over democracy promotion, has lead to the diplomatic war and blockade.

Decisive in driving the probability of conflict with Iran, is Trump's demonization of Iran as the regional force plotting against it, even in trying to align with Qatar. As IS becomes less of a threat to regional interests and with Assad ascendant in Syria, Trump and his generals could see degrading Iran's regional force as an aim.

The Globalised Impact of 'Extremism'

The shooting down of a Russian aircraft could be subjected to 'deconfliction' and diplomatic wars of words in so far it has been regarded as newsworthy in the Western media at all. Equally as omitted is the scale of the civilian casualties in letting the generals off the leash as the US bombed its way from Mosul and towards Raqqa in Syria,

The deaths according to Airwars stand at 3,800 and casualties increased by 60% in 2017. As ISIS declines it has lashed out through terror attacks claimed for it in Manchester and London Bridge, though there has generally been a media and political elite consensus that downplays the role of Sunni Salafi jihad in favour of 'extremism'

The reason British PM May goes on about 'extremism' is it doesn't mention the connection between the Wahhabi and Salafi version of Islam promoted by Britain's strategic partner in the Middle East-Saudi Arabia. It's a right wing political correctness that the Conservative Party holds to so as not to defend its lucrative commercial ties.

These include BAE arms deals, the military industrial complex which both it and the US has carefully interwoven together so as to bind the Special Relationship across both Labour and Tory parties. Of course, the big threat to this comes from Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and who is ranged against both the Saudis and 'US Imperialism'.

The handy rhetoric about 'extremism' is it could be used to conflate domestic political opposition with that of insufficient zealotry for British foreign policies. This is not least the case where Corbyn is assumed to be siding with Britain's enemies, not just the Soviet Union and Russia but Iran and even in the past appearing as a Press TV host.

Domestic Instability in the 'Anglosphere': Atlanticist Militancy as 'Escape Forwards'.

The probability of a war by the autumn of 2017 cannot be dismissed. Trump is under domestic siege and could see an 'escape forwards' through a conflict against Iran to remove it as an effective player in Syria, not least given the fact that it cannot do so by conflict with Russia, which is a nuclear armed state.

The other factor is the Qatar-Turkish alliance. It would be impossible for Saudi Arabia to invade Qatar if Turkey, a NATO state, had a military presence in addition to the US. The consequence of the widening gulf between the Sunni powers of the Middle East is an upgrade of Russia and Iran's relative bargaining power.

Trump has little understanding of regional complexities between Sunni and Shia. His decision to support Saudi Arabia at the Riyadh Summit in May 2017 and hostile tweets supporting the Saudi's hypocritical attacks on Qatar's support for 'extremism' came as it an the GCC states planned to bring about an 'Arab NATO'.

Naturally, Trump is hardly acting independently and certainly not alone. Much of the hawkish position with regard to Iran is bipartisan as the Saudi lobby is influential in Washington and Trump has surrounded himself by those ageing politicians and generals who take a more aggressive stance towards Iran.

The attempt to push through fresh sanctions on Russia for supporting Assad, is repellently hypocritical given its support for the Saudi regime in a war pushing 17 million to the brink of famine and slaughtering many more as the bombs blast civilian targets relentlessly and ruthlessly. Few take seriously US talk of 'moral leadership' anymore.

The sanctions came with ones on Iran too, having nothing to do with morality but with purely geopolitical power play in the Great Game for predominance in the contest to advance militia assets in Iraq and Syria. The task has been to lever Sunni Arab militias forward against Iranian ones while destroying ISIS.

Once ISIS was destroyed, there is no telling whether the US would not want to take Iranian assets out as part of a regional Cold War style proxy war, with Iran rather than Russia as the object of 'existential struggle'. Propaganda regarding Iran's status as a 'mountain fortress of Islamist extremism' is a staple of the US and UK right.

Iran as enemy since 1979 is one current on the neoconservative right and involves an uncritical support for the Israeli Likud administration under Netanyahu. Typical of this stance is support within Britain for Israel as a form of both foreign policy united to a domestic cultural warfare against the hard left's hostility towards it.

With a DUP-Conservative coalition needed to shore up Brexit, the potential for polarisation and the prospect of figures such Michael Gove, who retains close links to Trump and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, launching attacks on enemies within such as Corbyn, PLP members and Momentum cannot be discounted.

The DUP are ardent Christian Zionists just as much as Corbyn and his allies are sympathisers with Irish Republicanism and Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA. The Republicans see in the British state and imperialist entity that was as responsible for the Northern Irish settler state just as much as Israel after the 1914-18 war.

Gove has accused those who blocked military action by Britain to join a 2013 move by the US to launch a military action against Assad's state in Syria as 'smiling over the spilt blood'. The PLP was both anti-Israeli and pro-Iranian and so 'appeasers' of terrorism and state sponsors such as Iran, ignoring the Saudi support for Sunni jihad.

In fact, Iran's backing for Hezbollah or Hamas pales into insignificance when compared with Saudi Arabia's backing for jihadi factions in the Free Syria Army, including those affiliated with Al Qaeda and those which broke from the FSA to join ISIS and to create the Caliphate. It's alleged Riyadh even covertly supported ISIS.

Those in Trump's team remember the heyday of US superpower in the 1980s against the Soviet Union with Saudi Arabia onside and which won against the USSR by supporting Sunni militants in Afghanistan and standing firm against Iran's threat to the Persian Gulf by backing Iraq's war against it between 1980-88.

This is the great danger: ageing paranoid men fearing their superpower status is being menaced and faced with internal domestic threats. The same is true of Britain with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson being a reheated version of a Cold War Warrior against enemies without united to enemies within as a 'seamless totalitarian movement'.

With Brexit stalling, the economy in decline and political turbulence ahead in both Great Powers in the 'Anglosphere', the crisis in the Persian Gulf could be one that precipitates a war as disastrous as the 2003 invasion of Iraq and has global consequences. One of these would be global economic instability due to threats to oil supplies.

The other would be the decline of the post-1945 global order led by the US. In Britain any move towards greater intervention would be deeply contested by Corbyn's Labour in revival of his role as chair of the StWC. It could be that May's national security state would be moved into deeper manoeuvres against Corbyn.

While this is a worst case scenario, a clash with Iran might be averted. But it could be preceded by a Third Lebanon War which would see polarisation in Britain over it and the US position, not least as Corbyn has been part of radical groups supporting Hezbollah and his spin doctor, Seumas Milne, has lauded them as heroic resistance fighters.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Britain in 2017: An Echo of the Politics of the 1970s

There is a big delusion on the Labour left that the social and economic revolution offered by Corbyn's repositioned Labour would remove the real discontent that led to Brexit. The calculation behind the 'hope' is that the working classes were really just rather deluded in suffering from 'false consciousness' in voting for UKIP.

As usual, it's the trap of falling into economic determinism. The workers are just dim and never really wanted to leave the EU. They were tricked by demagogues like Nigel Farage and the tabloids. With Corbyn moving back to a more old left social democratic platform, 'hope will trump hate' and a new state for all is at hand.

To a certain extent, Corbyn's utopian socialist vision comes into play. He fought against May 'as if' Brexit was secondary and that the idea could well be that the verdict is respected only in so far as it represented a revolt against the Establishment. In so far as Corbyn is too, he is the politically correct choice for a New Britain.

Britain in late 2017 could be polarised between two competing visions: 'the pragmatic Brexit' to be fought for and which would see a revival of British Unionism. The 'soft Brexit' which would see Britain as a radically united socialist state in which small nation nationalism and the British Imperial state would be diminished.

This really is a return to the 1970s and 1974 in many ways. May called a snap election as Britain was edging closer to ungovernability based on an ailing social and economic model. As with Heath's gamble, May's backfired but this time the circumstances are in reverse as Britain is leaving the European Union.

Britain's economy is already declining slightly due to political uncertainty and, should Brexit go chaotically, Labour could well be in a position to inherit the poisoned chalice of Brexit if it were to win a second election as did Harold Wilson in 1974. The debates back then were over whether Britain should have joined the EU in 1973.

This time there is no option to resolve them, as in 1975, as there won't be a second referendum. With a declining economy, divisions within Labour Party over the EU would open up about whether to backtrack on Brexit entirely if the social and economic promises are to be kept as it is thought the workers won't care about it any more.

This is a delusion. With Brexit hanging over both parties, the timescale of change for any social and economic end to austerity would be short and with the Tories abandoning it, there is no automatic guarantee why UKIP voters would trust Labour to deliver on Brexit as regards 'Leave meaning Leave', even if 'softly', if that means 'backsliding'.

Anatol Lieven has argued that left wing nationalism would be the future in an EU where the federal project is disintegrating in favour of a shift back towards sovereign states. The question is whether Labour would hold its nerve or whether the PLP would want to scupper Brexit at the slightest sign of intransigence from the EU.

After all, if there is no guarantee a 'soft Brexit' with restrictions on freedom of movement is going to be on the table with a weak and unstable May, there is no reason why it would be with Corbyn's team either. The EU is dealing with a move to Leave on both sides and not with giving British electors a perfectly customised package.

This would generate tensions within Labour between Corbynites, who believe in honouring the referendum and the 'will of the ordinary people', and those who wanted Remain and would prefer a Brexit so soft it ends up being indistinguishable from a real Brexit, thus alienating working class Labour supporters who switched from UKIP.

Corbyn could then develop his Bennite ideal of a sovereign socialist state from the EU capitalist cartel and US Imperial influence on the Venezuelan model. The difference between Benn and Corbyn is that Benn was never more than a high ranking cabinet minister whereas Corbyn is going for Prime Minister. His ideas matter.

UKIP is bound to make a comeback where 'Brexit is in danger'. The prospect of a visceral cultural warfare between Corbyn supporting radical city fortresses and the provinces is quite possible. Corbyn's stance on mass migration and Britain as a sort of European version of a Latin American state could lead to right-wing nationalist resistance.

The Tories too might decide nationalism could be one way to tempt these voters back, with Gove and Farage at the forefront, and this could ratchet up tensions in Northern Ireland that are potentially simmering because of the Conservative-DUP alignment. After all, Corbyn is seen as a supporter of Republican causes, if not exactly the IRA.

There could be a lot of turbulence ahead, even a 'state of emergency' and plots in certain circles for a more forceful restoration of order. The national security state is far more developed than in the 1970s and Michael Gove is certainly a shady operator who likes to ascertain there are enemies within linked to enemies without.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Twin crises: North Korea and Iran 2017

June 2017. Crisis in the Greater Middle East and Far East Asia.

President Trump faces a summer of looming international crisis over North Korea and Iran. How Trump 'deals' with these crises could determine whether regional crises remain 'regionalised' or whether they could spiral up into wider global conflicts. Both crises are very different but could detonate a 'Third World War'.

The Syria war involves a partially failed state stretching from eastern Syria into western and northern Iraq and the destruction of the Islamic State Caliphate, the race to control land and resources in the territory of both countries could trigger conflict between Iranian and US backed forces over the Deir al-Zour province.

While Russia and the US have put into place 'deconfliction' measures, a setback for pro-Iranian forces could in this theatre of conflict be a threat to Assad's ability to assert sovereign control. While Russia's interests do not necessarily clash with the US, Iran's goal of having a land bridge between Tehran across Shia Iraq to Syria and Lebanon does.

This concentrated flashpoint could provide the spark that ignites a wider regional gunpowder keg as the summer of 2017 has seen an upsurge in Persian Gulf hostility between Saudi Arabia and the GCC states and Iran. As IS disintegrates and is destroyed in northern Iraq,both the US and Russia and Iran are scrambling to seize territory.

Both Trump and Putin are prepared to treat Sunni territories as pieces on the geopolitical chessboard. With Assad's power in Damascus assured by Russia's decisive use of air power in late 2016 against the rebels of east Aleppo, the struggle is now a three cornered one between Iran, Russia and the US over the settlement.

While the destruction of IS in theory removes a threat to the Sunni autocracies, one of the Caliphate's two main 'near enemies', this and Assad's survival and the threat of the relative preponderance of Iran has had the Gulf States wanting a rebalance of regional power once more back their way. Iran stands as the main threat to that.

One reason is the land route from Southern Lebanon to Iran would achieve one major geostrategic goal it had aimed at from the outset of its intervention in the Syria war back in 2012-the creation of a Shia crescent. It was against that and for the protection of Israel as well as for the benefit of having a Sunni state in Syria that the West intervened.

The demand 'Assad must go' was one intended to blend Western 'democracy promotion' with the Qatari-Turkish support for the Arab Spring of 2011. The evident failure of this by 2013 was ignored by the Western state because the alternative to having to align between Sunni autocracies and Iran would be to align with Sunni democracies.

The key to that was believed to be Qatar. As the Sunni rebel forces, 'moderate' or otherwise, have been crushed in northern Syria and in the east by pro-Iranian forces, they are of negligible geopolitical values and so expendable. Qatar and Turkey have dropped the rebels and tilted towards a new alignment-with Iran.

While the realignment was coming even before Trump's May 2017 Riyadh summit with the GCC states and Egypt, his decision to align firming behind the Saudis resulted in Qatar deciding on rebalancing towards Iran along with Turkey so as to jointly develop new Persian Gulf gas fields and to gain a better position over Syria.

Thus the enmity towards Iran held by Trump and his advisers and generals could come further into play in the course of 2017 if Iran commands a potentially very dominant position in relation to a political settlement over Syria in alignment with Russia. With Russia and the US competing for interest there, Iran is the major third force.

While Russia would not align with Iran in direct confrontation with the US, even under Obama and Hillary Clinton, the idea of creating a Sunni 'Third Force' was about staving off the threat of Iranian dominance and fighting IS. Trump could well conclude that the destruction of IS through force then would require Iran to be rolled back.

Given that Saudi Arabia is portraying the Houthi rising against which the Saudis have been fighting since 2015 as an Iranian and now Qatari threat to the strategic chokepoint of the Strait of El-Mandeb and security of their territory, Trump and his generals could well be on the verge soon of contemplating a war against Iran.

Ratcheting up the threats against Tehran and following through would be the one 'escape forwards' for Trump whereby he could try a strategy of war with a foreign threat to unify his domestic critics over the 'Russian connection' scandal and to degrade Russian power without a catastrophic head on collision with Moscow over Syria's fate.

Trump is regarded in mid 2017 as a 'lame duck' President hobbled by domestic scandal. While a war with Russia as a nuclear power is unthinkable, a war with Iran, a power Russia is aligned with in certain respects over Syria, could well be one way to increase his strongman image and bargaining hand with Moscow in determining a peace deal.

The question is over which crisis would Trump be prepared to show US 'resolve'. He has not yet openly threatened Iran, though Michael Flynn had 'put Iran on notice' as soon as Trump entered the White House. On the other hand, Trump has effectively drawn 'red lines' over North Korea's pursuit of any nuclear threat that could threaten the US.

China Balances Saudi Arabia with Iran in the Persian Gulf.

The two crises are far apart, though they are interconnected because they affect the global economic and political power of China while Russia is far more the regional power with whom the US could actually have better relation with the better to try and affect peace both in Syria and over North Korea where Russia is a Pacific Power too.

China has a relatively minor role in Syria, though it has been ready to support Kurdish PKK militias against Turkey had Erdogan continued to covertly back Sunni jihadists both within Syria and northern Iraq as well as in Xinjiang, the resource rich Western province of China that pan-Turkic nationalists call 'East Turkestan'.

China has an interest in Iran checking Saudi power and would be ranged against US military intervention against it over Syria. Iran and China have cultivated oil and gas supply ties. In June 2017 it was reported to be interested in Iran joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, one that aims at balancing the West's NATO.

China's attempt to use trade and economic deals to balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia is said to be designed to offset the danger of the US instigating divisions between the Gulf States and Iran. But the US administration under Trump regards both Iran and, to an extent China, as being powers plotting to limit its global influence and power.

While China would want to balance the Saudi and GCC states with support for Iran too, the US could see that as a plan to assert Chinese dominance over the Middle East and downgrade its power over the globe's main source of energy. This is not least the case as China and Russia would appear to be aligning over North Korea and in Central Asia.

NATO retains a stake in the mineral rich state of Afghanistan long after the terror threat from it has ceased to be the major one. While Trump would appear to have dropped US interest in Ukraine, leaving it to a German led EU to deal with Putin in preserving the peace in Eastern Europe, he has decided to concentrate his focus on Korea.

A US and China Crisis Looms over North Korea.

It might be thought subtle diplomacy would mean the US showing it would want China to commit to certain actions- or non-actions- in return for the US conceding on certain others. Demanding China lives up to exclusively US interests and ambitions, in regard to Asia, is just a recipe for breeding conflict instead of preserving peace.

Both in China and the US, the rising tide of nationalism is bound to put pressure on Xi and Trump alike. Grandstanding on China is an even more unwise course of action for Trump's administration to take, though they would appear to be far more restrained than other leading Republicans such as the intemperate John McCain.

McCain certainly has a very primitive understanding of global power politics, so his comments about Chinese 'bullying' in Sydney recently were largely irrelevant and designed to make him appear as the real 'tough guy' who would have been a better President than Trump had he not lost in 2008 to Barack Obama.
US leaders are behaving as if China has a choice either to fulfil US demands as if it were an uncontested Global hegemon and China has only the choice of compliance or unfortunate consequences. North Korea is not a mere Chinese client state or 'puppet': the regime is a law unto itself with its own 'rationale'.

Of course, it's useful for US politicians to pretend China has the choice and the power to defuse North Korea's nuclear programme because it could be used to deflect attention away from their own repeated failure to deal successfully with North Korea. Trump's strongman attempts to deal with it are entirely in line with this approach.

So while Trump could lean towards 'limited' strikes against Iran in the Persian Gulf as a way of threatening it to back down over Syria, should events escalate there or as Israel launches a Third Lebanon War against Iranian backed Hizbollah, he might also choose to take a stand over North Korea and China's role in East Asia.

The Pivot to Asia and the Chinese March West: Contest for Hegemony over The World Island

The South China Sea island building project is an attempt by China to dominate the sea lanes and assert military reach and power. But it's also part of a counter move against the US forming bilateral naval ties with a chain of states surrounding China's seaboard from the east as well as on land to the west.

This is precisely what Chinese spokeswoman Hua Chunying meant when claiming China "opposes a certain country’s show of force in the South China Sea under the pretext of navigation and overflight freedom, challenging and threatening China’s sovereignty and security". That 'certain country' is, of course, the US.

One reason China built an oil and gas pipeline to the west through Myanmar is because the US wanted to control the sea passages between the Greater Middle East and China so it could use the threat of cutting off its oil tanker supplies as a form of Great Power political leverage, what Michael Klare described as akin to 'nuclear blackmail'.

This was an main reason for the 'Pivot to Asia' and for building up the US navy after 2011. The ambition of 'containing' China to the east would complement the strategy of countering China's 'March West', one given impetus by the China Belt Road and Initiative and inroads made into resource rich Central Asia.

The US military presence in Afghanistan was never just about 'terrorism' and more about occupying a strategic piece of the Grand Chessboard of Eurasia, retaining the Bagram air base, asserting control over the valuable mineral resources and securing the construction of the TAPI pipeline from Turkmenistan through to India

As geopolitical analysis John Foster emphasised, the TAPI gas pipeline was vital in uniting the Central Asian states with energy hungry South Asian states, what Hillary Clinton termed in 2012 a 'New Silk Route Initiative'. Trump has been under pressure to scale up US troop numbers to secure US interests in Afghanistan.

The MOAB detonation in north Afghanistan was a move to show Assad in Syria and Kim Jong Un in North Korea that the US was led by an unpredictable madman who was prepared to unleash US bombing prowess on those he deems a threat to US interests. It was also a signal to Russia and China the US was 'back'.

Russia would have to rein in Assad and China would be required to keep Kim Jong Un in check or the US would. The problem is that in both Syria and North Korea there are wider geopolitical interests at stake beyond both theatres of action and that have escalated the threat of a direct head 'collision' that could precipitate earthquakes.

With Syria, the fact Trump cannot act against Assad directly without threatening a conflict with Russia has meant Washington turning towards the possibility of downgrading Assad's power by potentially aiming threatening conflict with Iran by aligning with Saudi Arabia in its regional proxy war.

The danger of ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran-and even of direct conflict with it- would be that China's 'March West' has seen it aligned closely with Tehran as a major energy provider and strategic ally. China is pro-Assad too because Turkey has been covertly supporting Sunni jihadists in Xinjiang as has Saudi Arabia.

Many of Trump's closest generals and political team regard Iran in paranoid ways as the source of all covert terrorist threats against its allies and so interests. But Iran has China as an ally and the idea it could be 'put on notice' and taken out is simply not realistic and could cause a global war. As could mishandling the North Korea crisis

North Korea: A Concentrated Geopolitical Flashpoint on the Far East Tip of the Eurasian Continent.

China, quite simply, does not have as much direct control over North Korea as Secretary of state Rex Tillerson would imply it had. While it has every interest in getting it to back down on its nuclear missile programme, Pyongyang aims at accelerating it in order to play off all three Great Powers-Russia, China and the US.

If Pyongyang sees that the US is antagonistic to China, the more interest it has in upping the ante so that China would have to offer it more as a way out of the crisis: if China does not, Russia could step in as both powers are concerned as much with North Korea as they are with US anti-ballistic missile programmes.

Both China and Russia have realigned in opposition to the US using the North Korea crisis to foist the anti-ballistic THAAD system into South Korea. While it is claimed it is to defend South Korea, China regards this as a potential threat to the relative deterrent power of its own nuclear defence system capabilities.

THAAD’s surveillance capabilities could offer early tracking data to parts of the American ballistic missile defence system. As this would erode China’s ability to target the U.S. in the event of war it could alter the balance of power in favour of the US given that they are deploying THAAD systems in Guam also and in space.

The US is militarising space and helping to stimulate an arms race among the US, China and Russia, as well as pushing both Eurasian powers to align to a degree in opposition to the US and erode the advantage the US had had since the 1970s in being capable of aligning towards one in order to offset the power ambitions of the other.

This is where the danger of the North Korean crisis could escalate into a Second Korean War and a Third World War. It has been compared by Niall Ferguson to the Cuban Missile Crisis. China would not back down over the South China Sea or put maximum pressure on Pyongyang without the US making concessions elsewhere.

If North Korea presses ahead with its nuclear programme, it is unlikely to just allow the US to threaten direct military action against it; this would create a failed state on its north eastern border, or else the prospect of US troops storming towards the River Yalu once more and a eventually running a US client state right up to it.

Crude US unilateralism of the kind offered by John Bolton is dangerous. He's argued that either China stops Kim Jong Un by sanctions and measures to collapse the regime or else the threat of destabilisation on China's north eastern borders would happen anyway by a US war to destroy it-it is China's choice on America's terms.

The danger is while North Korea presses ahead with missile testing, both China and Russia are signalling they both need to scale up their nuclear weapons defence programmes in order to deter the threat to their power from the US deployment of THAAD in client states such as South Korea-this is happening already.

Demilitarising the Korean crisis would require multilateral negotiations about how to respond to North Korea and not threats of unilateral US military action to threaten China. Offering Kim Jong Un a way out would take time and patient diplomacy as well as concessions from the US to both North Korea and China.

Anatol Lieven once argued that the US should withdraw its military from South Korea and that could be put on the table should North Korea agree to back down. Building new US bases, as at Jeju, has only intensified further the spiral of paranoia and insecurity North Korea thrives on and potentially antagonises China.

It is both dangerous to insist China bear sole responsibility for stopping North Korea's nuclear programme while the US suggests it's either this or US force that would decide its fate. It would be better to indicate that diplomatic compromises could be offered in reaction for cooperation on dismantling the nuclear programme.

If Kim Jong Un were to be forced to the table by all the Great Powers showing it would be best off negotiating, then the US could offer a peace treaty ending the first Korean War, agreeing to withdraw THAAD and scale down and withdraw its own military in response to decommissioning its nuclear programme.

The failure to start putting such diplomacy into effect risks the heightened possibility of there being mutual misunderstanding over North Korea and of stumbling into global war, as North Korea is but on flashpoint in a region where all the geopolitical fissure lines and stresses meet in one concentrated space.

On the Eve of the British Election 2017 : Why Theresa May Flopped.

Written in reaction to an article in the Guardian by Jonathan Freedland 7th June, on the evening before the Election.

Freedland ' a candidate, she’s proven herself to be jaw-droppingly bad. When she called this election, on April 18, May, had a poll lead so large it may always have been illusory. But then she seemed to set out, methodically and with great purpose, to reduce it.'

May did no such thing, unless of course the thrust of Freedman's piece is to suggest May is actually would not mind a hung Parliament or a way to back off from the Brexit upon which she will be judged. As this was just 'triggered' by Article 50, Labour was bound to start off badly when it appeared vague on Leave

As May's poll lead slipped, Corbyn appeared to give much of the electorate policies on economy and society that the electorate actually like and as support gathered momentum, many of the 48%ers unreconciled to Corbyn might have seen more of a chance of sabotaging Brexit than through tactical voting.

In other words, voting Labour is tactical and Labour at the constituency level has often disassociated itself from the leadership and emphasised Labour. May, being quite the functionary, was unable to press home a responsive message that Labour could be pretending to support Brexit while deceiving.

From a tactical point of view, May is useless. She was advised to push one pre-packaged Brexit in the national interest pitch that depended more upon spin and repeating soundbites as though winning the election was even a tedious formality both May and the Party had to go through just in order to go on with Brexit.

Brexit alone was never going to be quite enough to gain the huge mandate May assumed she would get. When the polls showed Corbyn surging, she lacked the political intuition and nous to respond spontaneously to shifts in popular mood. May is a functionary 'delivering' formats and packages and pre-formed political lines.

In the days before social media and 24/7 wall to wall coverage, May would have had fewer problems. She and her 'team' are fighting a campaign using obsolete corporate methods of mass conditioning and either/or binaries to cajole the public that are stuck in the era of high Blairism but without the 'optimism' of 1997.

If Blair was borne aloft in 1997 with 'things can only get better', May is far more down beat while peddling repeated soundbites about 'strong and stable leadership' as part of a one big gamble: that no matter what Labour offered or whatever it promises, people just would not vote Corbyn as he's 'not credible'.

However, that might not pay off because May looks wobbly when not in a choreographed surrounding. She is terminally incapable of answering any question with a direct answer. One pitch saw her repeating 'it's about' a whole lot of bland sounding positives that was so hollow it was entirely meaningless drivel.

Corbyn is hardly that great but he emerged as more personable and, though he slipped, his lack of banal choreography and conviction could well appeal when he talks about policies and why he thinks they are needed and would work. This could well appeal to younger voters and those not influenced by the 'msm'.

May's team is assuming the public consists of dense unthinking individuals that vote as required through herding them through the hypothetical benefits of a Brexit under them and fear of a doomsday alternative. That method failed with Brexit, it failed for Hillary in the US and it could well fail for Theresa May.

The 2017 Terror Attacks on Britain : Don't Mention the Wars or Saudi Arabia

What a grim and depressing election campaign this has been, full of smears, spin, obfuscation, sinister euphemisms and outright lies. None of the leading politicians, especially not the Conservatives, have been able to deal with the reality of the jihadi Islamist terror threat or even what is actually behind all of them.

Three times in the space of a few months in 2017, Britain has been targeted, twice in during an election campaign. The previous Westminster Attack was carried out by Khalid Massood, a low life drifter who's only real possible connection to jihadism might have been connected to the 5 years he spent teaching English in Saudi Arabia.

None of the national newspapers or media outlets even mentioned this or asked questions about what he might have been doing there. In fact, within a few days it was airily asserted, once the usual flower laying and vigil had taken place that 'we may never know what motivated him to commit the attack'. It was 'time to move on'.

From South Manchester to Libya and Blowback.

The suicide bomb attack on the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was carried out by Salman Abedi, the son of a long term jihadist with a prominent position in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Force from the 1990s onwards. He had an IS flag hanging out of his window, was reported to the authorities and yet nothing was done.

The LIFG was part of the rebel militias ranged against Colonel Gaddafi in 2011 and were regarded then as assets that could be deployed against him. MI5 and MI6 were reported to have actively recruited British Libyans to fight or else to remove the control orders of those known to be involved in jihadi Islamist causes.

The aim of this could have been to transform domestic threats into useful fighters as well as to gain inside information as to what was happening in Libya. The assumption would have been that Britain aligning with the Islamist militias and creating a new post-Gaddafi democracy would mollify jihadism as a potent force.

By 2011, the 'global war on terror' had been officially dropped by Foreign secretary David Miliband. Collusion with dictatorships to 'render' jihadists across battlefield earth was out and it had been decided the Western Powers ought to align with their Gulf State partners, especially Qatar during the Arab Spring, to advance 'democracy promotion'.

The problem with that was it meant the danger of jihadists, empowered by the Western and Gulf States, hijacking the revolutions against decrepit secular-nationalist dictatorships and trying to enforce their own dogmatic and distinctly unpluralistic vision of an Islamic State on each of the lands where they were a presence.

This was very much the case with Libya. While British based Libyan Islamists would have been glad of the assistance PM Cameron gave the rebels, they regarded them and the Gulf States as 'useful idiots' whose power they could use to destroy the Near Enemy first only then to turn their focus of attack on others and then the Far Enemy.

The Manchester Attack was clearly blowback from the Libya War as it created a huge pool of jihadists within the ungoverned space of a failed state. Salman Abedi would have had connections to them and perhaps even to Islamic State. The London Bridge Attack was less connected directly to IS, the first was a pretext to launch a second.

The Connection to Saudi Islamist Ideology and Terror Funding.

May claimed both attacks showed 'one evil ideology' at work even if both the Manchester and London Bridge Attacks weren't linked. In a sense, this is true but the big lie requires that this ideology is not connected to the projection of power of Saudi Arabia, not least the huge oil wealth and acquiescence it buys from the British elites.

Boris Johnson accused Corbyn of 'siding with Britain's enemies' as a distraction card from having to deal with the central and most disturbing fact that has come out of the campaign-that Theresa May is trying to suppress a report into Saudi funding of intolerant Wahhabi and Salafi Islamism in Britain's mosques.

Rudd is lying when she claims it is an internal report. It was one agreed to as a concession from Cameron for the Liberal Democrats agreeing to voting for the use of air power against ISIS. Rudd is a repellent functionary who is ruthless in trying to conceal the scale of Saudi backing for jihadi terrorist groups and ideology.

Corbyn was right to raise the report on the Saudi and to demand it is published. If the supposed all of Britain is complicit in funding the very threat Britain claims it is fighting at home and abroad, this would call into question the validity of May's claim before Easter in Riyadh that the alliance helps 'keep us safe'.

It's known that Saudi Arabia supported Sunni militias and jihadist organisations in Syria, including Al Qaeda affiliated ones. Many of these which were armed and trained to fight Assad then broke off to go and form IS which carved out the Caliphate and spread later into Libya after Gaddafi's state was destroyed.

Qatar was also instrumental in bankrolling jihadists in Syria but also in Libya, including the rebel militias that the Manchester suicide bomber's father belonged to. So not only is there a need to publish the Saudi funding report. There is also the need to have, as Patrick Cockburn has well argued, a public enquiry into the Libya War.

Whatever faults Corbyn has demonstrated in the past are more than offset by the Conservative Party's appeasement of violent radical Islamism. It's a pity Corbyn repeats the mealy mouthed word 'extremism' in line with the Tories instead of calling it Wahhabism or jihadi Salafism as this is the proper term for it.

The power of the national security state and its cynical and lethal power games needs to be held to account and urgently. It would appear political agenda and risky geopolitical strategies supported by Britain on behalf of the Gulf States have taken priority over the domestic security of the British public.

The Growth of a Corrupt National Security State.

Corruption and bribes paid with British taxpayer's money, information on which was suppressed in 2009 when the SFO investigation was sabotaged by both the Brown government and establishment insiders, have their place in oiling the British-Saudi alliance. But it is also interconnected with geopolitical strategies.

Much of BAE's production capacity is melded with the US military industrial complex. This is a consequence of the alliance underpins the US-British 'special relationship' with each other as well as Saudi Arabia's oil wealth in funding their armaments sector and so Britain's auxiliary status as Global Player.

The danger is that as Trump in the US moves towards authoritarianism, that Britain under Brexit could shift towards this model of a more authoritarian national security state with a pliant media, widespread censorship and ubiquitous surveillance over all citizens and its rigged semi-democratic component.

Rudd is acting like an aggressive functionary of a gimcrack authoritarian regime, with her phoney outrage over Corbyn even meekly connecting domestic terrorism with foreign policy, her censorious impulses and choreographed smearing of 'enemies within'. Corbyn is not without faults but Rudd is overtly sinister by comparison.

Unfortunately for Corbyn, he was associated with certain hard left functionaries himself in the StWC , such as Andrew Murray who defended the North Korean regime and lauded Stalin simply because he was 'anti-imperialist'. He tends to get judged by the company he has kept when he was on the streets as extra-Parliamentary rebel

Even so, the Tories are too lazy to argue effectively on that. Boris Johnson claimed Corbyn 'sided with Britain's enemies' but he has never sided with Assad or Saddam or Gaddafi unless being against wars against them is considered the very same as being an enemy of Britain or the British state and so of 'the people'.

The Tories historically have been ranged against the idea of authoritarian dictatorship within Britain, if not always against them abroad during the 1930s or during the Cold war . But the Saudi 'special relationship', the terror threat it breeds ( 'terror breeds terror' indeed ) is creating a corrupt unaccountable national security state.

Reflections on Corbyn as the Man to Over Come Divisions

'Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has revealed that the received wisdom of the past 15 years was wrong, and that talking in plain-spoken, moral, essentially socialist terms about the fundamental condition of the country need not entail political disaster'.

The irony of Corbyn's campaign is that it started to go more Labour's way precisely because the initial assumption was that Corbyn could not win and as the Labour Party remained divided on the main issue for which the election was called-to determine whether May should be given a clear mandate to pursue Brexit.

Corbyn initially fought a campaign almost 'as if' Brexit or 'winning alone' was not the overriding imperative over offering a genuine political, social and economic alternative to neoliberal austerity. In so doing, while acting as though above 'mere politics', in the personal sense, he has emerged as an actual challenge to May.

The real paradox is that ultimately Corbyn has been given more free rein precisely because this was not meant to be an election Labour could win. Changes in the leadership election rules meant the membership resulted in Corbyn to be foisted forth on a reluctant PLP by Momentum and the Corbynites as an 'Anti-Blair' candidate.

One more irony is that May really isn't there to offer an alternative for the simple reason that whatever Brexit is going to mean is the alternative she is offering. This had just reduced her to repeating the same either/or slogans and soundbites about 'strong and stable government' in a way that grates and is very boring.

May is on weaker ground because she cannot promise much as the future is as yet unknown whereas Corbyn can move in to fill the space vacated by May being the plodding functionary by being the politico-religious visionary. The Tories seem 'Blairite' and to exist in an 'on message' echo chamber suspended above ordinary life.

The choreographed smearing of Corbyn as 'excusing terrorism' after the Manchester Attacks was clearly not factual for those who had heard or read Corbyn's Friday speech on the links between foreign policy and the ability of terrorist networks to spread and nestle in the territory under failed states in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Corbyn was in line with the popular mood on this issue as well as the experts who have studied terrorism. Whether this shows the public or the politicians could or ought to be ready for an 'adult debate' on terrorism, as Harris would imply, is more dubious. None of the politicians even referred to jihadi Islamist ideology.

Corbyn certainly was no braver than the Tories in mentioning the obvious jihadi ideology that drove the suicide bombing of the Manchester Attack. He failed to connect it explicitly, no less than the Tories, to the intolerant strand of Wahhabi and Salafi Islam promoted by specific States such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Even so, the Conservatives are relying on a national security state model of governance under Theresa May backed up by a rabid and crudely nationalistic media rated as 40th free in the world. Corbyn is highly unlikely to win but his emergence as a real challenger does demonstrate that there is opposition to 'Blairite' politics.

The Tories decision to focus on Corbyn's supposed IRA 'support' is simply regarded as over the top. At worst, Corbyn comes close to rationalising jihadi terrorism as straightforward 'blowback' to an 'imperialist' foreign policy towards Muslims at home and abroad but has never claimed it as being 'justified'.

It would have been better at a political campaign tactic for May to focus on discrediting Corbyn's social and economic credentials by referring constantly to his and Tony Benn's laudatory praise for Hugo Chavez's 21st Century Socialism in Venezuela, a social model that has collapsed almost entirely in 2016-17 and created chaos.

The Tory strategists have probably not decided to focus on Venezuela, most likely as they probably assume the average British voter couldn't even locate the Latin American state on a map. Even so, it would be the more obvious line of attack for them to take when arguing for May's 'stability' compared to Corbyn's 'chaos' and poor judgement