Monday, 5 September 2011

The Schizoid Realpolitik of The British National Security State.

The Gibson Enquiry will prove merely be another cover up of the scale of the collusion between the British government under Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Milliband and the CIA and Gaddafi regime in the use of torture as part of the "war on terror". Hence this,

Kim Howells, former Labour foreign minister and chairman of the intelligence and security committee (ISC) of MPs and peers tasked with monitoring the activities of MI5 and MI6, told the BBC he was "absolutely satisfied there was no involvement in the illegal rendition of detainees".

Obviously, there was no "involvement" in that government ministers were not directly involved in the transporting of detainees to places where they were tortured, as this is what the CIA, in fact, did. That does not mean MI6 were not involved in supporting that policy all along and 'knew nothing' or ministers did not too.

The Orwellian nature of this growing "national security state" more generally is clear. MI6 exists not so much to protect British citizens from terrorism but to play a dirty covert war in which the 'war on terror" could be used as a pretext to advance British geopolitical interests and control over oil.

For a start there is the issue of whether Abdul Hakim Belhaj, leader of the Islamist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was ever aligned to Al Qaida plots in Britain and the USA or whether he was merely an enemy of Gaddafi that the British government was committed to buttressing.

It is an absurdity that in 2009 the British security services were involved in having the SAS train Gaddafi's troops to counter the very Islamists who now in 2011 are rebranded as heroic rebels fighting tyranny and whose military contribution to toppling Gaddafi was backed by Britain.

This either means that the LIFG were not a particular threat after 2004 when Blair affected a rapprochement with Gaddafi in order to advance BP's interests there and sell arms, or that they were and somehow have had a change of heart and are committed to democracy in Libya.

Interestingly at the beginning of 2009, the then Foreign Secretary David Miliband proclaimed the 'war on terror' was no longer a useful phrase and just months later the SAS were sent in to help combat the Islamists who are now supposed to be allies in the war against Gaddafi's dictatorship (with it's history of supporting terror).

Belhadj was not part of Al Qaida's brand of' global jihad but connected only to Islamists in Afghanistan whose ideology is more akin to the Taliban alongside which he fought with until capture by the US ( after previously having been part of the mujahadeen in the 1980 against the Soviet Union ).

So Belhadj went from ally of the US and Britain against the Communists to the enemy under the Taliban during the 'war of terror' and has become an asset once more now that he was willing to aid the removal of Gaddafi and is a major leader of the military council of the NTC.

Such shoddy realpolitik by the US and UK and the collusion in dirty tactics shows the only consistency in Anglo-US geopolitical interests concerning oil and gas supplies in a way that is both ruthless and ineffective in ensuring British security.

Even weirder is the fact that Belhadj, who is already treated with suspicion by the other NTC rebels, owes his life, when released from death row in 2010, to none other than-Saif Gaddafi. The dictator's son, who disappeared as Tripoli fell, then re-emerged proclaiming his radical Islamist credentials.

The liberals will escape or be killed...We will do it together... Libya will look like Saudi Arabia, like Iran. So what?”

If the transition fails to be effective, then the radical Islamists being frozen out of the process might have no reason not to ally with remnant Gaddafi forces. Unless, the West starts to reduce dependence upon oil and the US/UK stop playing these power games, the result will always be blowback.

And this is what is supposed to be known as the operations of British "intelligence".

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Significance of 9/11 One Decade On.

Journalists, hacks and 'thinker' are expending much time on the significance of 9/11 one decade after the spectacular and devastating attack on the Twin Towers in New York.

One commentator, Gary Young, writes in The Guardian today with regards 9/11 that it acted as a pretext for the administration of George Bush II to embark on a unilateral and imperialist foreign policy that was disproportionate to the threat of Al Qaida and counter-productive.

A decade on the US ability to crush al-Qaida still depends almost entirely on its ability to negotiate with Pakistan and doing a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, where last month there was the highest US military death toll since the war began.

The Taliban have had very little to do with Al Qaida since 2001 and the US only last week attempted to negotiate with the Taliban in secret talks. These were stymied by Hamid Karzai who is afraid of being sidelined by any rapprochement between the Taliban and the US.

The war in Afghanistan was never merely about some "war on terror". More it was and has remained part of the geopolitical strategy contemplated throughout the 1990s, that is, the construction a pipeline through it, one now called the TAPI pipeline.

The completion date for the TAPI pipeline, finally sealed and signed with US approval in 2010, has been repeatedly put back but it co-incides with the withdrawal date of 2014. The construction of a New Silk Route is a major Western gambit to integrate the regional economies under the auspices of US/NATO.

The reason that Karzai is potentially expendable lies not merely in his failure to rein in corruption but also the way he has allowed Russian interests in the TAPI pipeline to develop. One reason why Andrew Mitchell's memorandum, photographed as he left Downing Street, revealed that the UK government is not concerned with Karzai's departure.

The need to negotiate with the Taliban lies in their ability to control regions such as Helmland in the south where many troops have perished and through which the pipeline is set to run and the increased revenues from opium caused by the futile poppy eradication schemes.

Yet the "war on drugs" as with the war for a pipeline is less about imperialism and more about the decadence of Western consumer democracies,sections of which are addicted to heroin and certainly on the use of fossil fuels that these nations are seeking to control in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Without that context, few in the USA or in Britain are able to understand why the 'war on terror' was a term which could be useful in conflating a multitude of enemies together who stood in the way of the access and control of oil-the lifeblood of advanced consumer freedom and car use.

The TAPI pipeline was supported by NATO because it removed control of gas pipelines ( which can be liquefied natural gas ) away from Russia and would ensure that the rival IPI pipeline that would bypass Afghanistan would no longer be as attractive nor freeze out Western influence.

If completed the TAPI would unite the regional economies of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India together more closely and prevent collusion between Russia, China and Iran to the exclusion of NATO from controlling Central Asia and its oil and gas wealth.

This is less do with straightforward imperial greed, as all regional powers are competing in this New Great Game. The fact is that the USA and Europe are dangerously overdependent upon oil and gas from lands far away to maintain their wealth and lifestyles.

Long before 9/11, Zbiginiew Brzezinski was aware of the importance of Central Asia and the danger that the West was becoming decadent as far back as 1993 when he wrote 'Out of Control' in relation to 'hedonistic cornucopia' that could erode the will to maintain Western global hegemony.

In fact, the truth is starker: the NATO powers need to invest in alternatives in oil and gas, develop public transport far more and live within their means far more. The failure to connect the consumer lifestyles, that even Gary Younge might enjoy, to the presence of NATO troops in far away lands is now dangerous

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Britain's "Ethical Foreign Policy" In Libya.

More information about the Britain's dealings with Gaddafi under Tony Blair has emerged into the public domain today.

'Secret files have been unearthed by The Independent in Tripoli that reveal the astonishingly close links that existed between British and American governments and Muammar Gaddafi.

The documents chart how prisoners were offered to the Libyans for brutal interrogation by the Tripoli regime under the highly controversial "rendition" programme, and also how details of exiled opponents of the Libyan dictator in the UK were passed on to the regime by MI6'.

So there it is. Britain's ethical foreign policy under Tony Blair-supporting dictatorship when it's strong enough to survive, colluding with CIA rendition and torture, oil deals for BP, giving information to Gaddafi about Libyan dissidents in Britain to enhance the oil interests.

Despite British Foreign Secretary William Hague's attempts to distance himself from the machinations of the New Labour government's involvement, even though the opposition then did not challenge this collusion with Gaddafi, the fact is that there is obvious continuity. As The Independent reports,

The revelations by The Independent will lead to questions about whether Mr Koussa, who has long been accused of human rights abuses, was allowed to escape because he held a 'smoking gun'. The official is known to have copied and taken away dozens of files with him when he left Libya.

When Koussa defected to Britain in April 2 2011, Hague made statements that he could be put on trial as demanded by the NTC. However, Koussa then left Britain soon after he had 'defected' again to Qatar by April 15.

Obviously, Koussa had no reason to return as he had been conveniently removed from a European Union sanctions list, This gave someone involved in torture free access to financial assets held in European banks. Not wanting him to reveal the truth of Britain and other states collusion with Gaddafi could have been part of that.

As the Independent article implies, the reason could have been to avoid bad "public diplomacy" about Britain's collusion with Gaddafi in the "war on terror".

The Tripoli regime was a highly useful partner in the 'rendition' process under which prisoners were sent by the US for 'enhanced interrogation', a euphemism, say human rights groups, for torture.

One US administration document, marked secret, says "Our service is in a position to deliver Shaykh Musa to your physical custody similar to what we have done with other senior LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) members in the past. We respectfully request an expression of interest from your service regarding taking custody of Musa".
The British too were dealing with the Libyans about opposition activists, passing on information to the regime. This was taking place despite the fact that Colonel Gaddafi's agents had assassinated opponents in the campaign to eliminate so-called "stray dogs" abroad, including the streets of London. The murders had, at the time, led to protests and condemnation by the UK government.

The supposed pragmatism in now trying to remove Gaddafi is more akin to the schizoid realpolitik of the sort Orwell lampooned in 1984.

Consistently until 2009 when Milliband opined that the 'war on terror' was a name to be dropped, Afghanistan was put forth as part of that. Long after 2004 when Gaddafi thought that he might be next for 'regime change' after Iraq and moved towards the West by cancelling a non-existent WMD programme.

The notion that the Arab Spring in Libya means that there is a possibility of a liberal democratic alternative to either secular dictatorship or Islamist dictatorship remains dubious.

Indeed, the Islamist Abdel-Hakim Belhaj who two years before in 2009 was the leader of the enemy, associated with Al Qaida, and who had been tortured by the CIA, as part of the 'war on terror 'now pops back up in 2011 as an important part of the NTC. So the SAS armed jihadists to finish of Gaddafi when two years before they were aiding him to combat them.

With the potential for breakdown of authority and a humanitarian crisis can it be seriously suggested that the Islamists will not try to stage a power grab ? Or that they won't turn against the West, as their ideology is similar to that of the Taliban ? The idea of a liberal secular democracy emerging to order is a fantasy.

The idea that governments can just change tack overnight almost and install pliant or friendly pro-Western governments is simply not realistic. There is no history of democracy in Libya. Outside a small circle of academics and city based liberals, it is the Islamists and nationalists who dominate.

If the NATO intervention was so pragmatic and founded on "enlightened self interest" how is it going to "pragmatically" extricate itself from a descent into further civil war and conflict if a stable government cannot be formed ? The cliched soundbite about "no boots on the ground" has already proved false, as evidenced by the presence of the SAS from the outset of the conflict.

Libya as a Resource War.

Terry Macalister reports in The Guardian today on the issue of Libya ( So, was this a war for oil ? September 2 2011 ),

The Libyan conflict has been a war about oil if not "for" oil. The country's economy is almost totally dependent on hydrocarbons and a key objective for the transitional government will be to get the wells up and running again as soon as possible.

The British and French, meanwhile, are worried about future energy supplies. They are already pushing and shoving over who should get what of the energy proceeds before the political dust has even settled in Tripoli (just as BP and Shell are once again sitting pretty in Iraq following western military intervention there).

The UK government has been working hand in glove with parts of the oil industry to bring about regime change in Libya. London crude trader,
Vitol, held meetings with international development minister Alan Duncan (a former consultant to the firm) and played a key role in keeping the rebels well-supplied with petrol while others tried to starve Muammar Gaddafi's troops of fuel. Was this a practical operation to
undermine Gaddafi's military logistics or a potent symbol that western politics and oil are so closely intermeshed that the agendas of both are indistinguishable?

....The British have not been so public about their expectations but we know that BP has already held talks with the new opposition leaders and are preparing to re-enter the country. Clearly, the role of Vitol, never mind the RAF jets, will require some recognition in the new Libya that emerges – at least in the eyes of the UK political and oil establishment.

A good and far more informative article about what is at stake with regards Libya. However this is a little questionable,

The Libyan conflict has been a war about oil if not "for" oil.

This is mere semantics. The intervention by France, Britain and the USA is not "all about oil" as no conflict is strictly about one thing. Yet it is a key objective of the "intervention" to secure oil supply from Libya in a way that was hardly guaranteed when Gaddafi lost de facto control of Libya.

Western powers could not see one of the largest supplies of high grade oil with little sulphur content that is used in numerous household consumer goods and for energy fall into limbo or fuel a conflict that could have led to regional instability if forces hostile to the West gained control over it.

Intervention in Libya is not about oil if it is seen as only about corporate profits, though that to will be a beneficial spin off. Primarly it is about diversification of supplies in a world of growing oil demand and diminishing global supplies. If one state collapses, there must be other oil reserves always on tap.

Given that many oil producing states have authoritarian regimes or dictatorships and ethnic and sectarian problems, the need to control ever more supplies of oil is now the main driving force of geopolitics in the 21st century. Any discussion that fails to mention oil is footling irrelevance.

Those in the West wanting to understand the importance of fossil fuels need only read the business section of newspapers and online editions of newspapers from other nations. Then the reason for Afghanistan too becomes clear: the construction of the TAPI pipeline.

Such interventions are often rationalised as "enlightened self interest". In fact, the new epoch of history unfolding now in the two decades since the end of the Cold War is more obviously one of resource wars and the New Great Game for control of supplies of oil and gas.

The problem is that this frightens many people so they refuse to face these facts. They want to believe in liberal intervention without seeing that the impact of such foreign policies can often make the conflicts they seek to solve even more entrenched.

Libya could develop into another Iraq fairly quickly. Gaddafi can still cause a humanitarian crisis from the south in the Fezzan by curring off the water to Tripoli. As in Iraq, the chaos could lead to the NTC failing to restore order in Libya and it's authority will not be recognised.

Should that occur, the West will be in a terrible quandary: it has to face the situation of having invested colossal sums of money in aiding the anti-Gaddafi forces and a lack of stability as bad and destructive as when Gaddafi threatened to cause bloodshed in Benghazi.

Unless Western states deeply technology to find alternatives to overdependence upon oil and governments stop such absurdities as low budget airlines, then the blowback will be increased migration, terrorist threats and decivilisation.

A dilemma that could be considered as a consumer choice.

The important point about thee interventions is that they have proved ineffective. Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya are resource wars. The previous two have proved futile. The abstract arguments about 'humanitarian intervention' ignore the fact that moral crusades founder when the reality on the ground intrudes.

Wherever there are resouces such as oil at stake the conflict to control them breeds corruption, greed, and ethnic and tribal enmities with that state, not least in lands where it barely functions as such. Statesmen in the West need to start reading Hobbes again instead of clinging to utopian liberal internationalism.

The amount of money spent on weapons and military reactions to securing energy supplies would be better spent in thinking of national survival through a total strategy that involves reduction of dependence upon fossil fuels as a national emergency.

The idea of a continued toxic growth utopia is flawed progressive thinking. The need with forthcoming resource shortages should be to protect and survive and oil cannot be squandered as if the relatively low cost of petrol in the West means there is no conflicting need here with the high prices oil producers need.

The burgeoning populations in Arab Muslim nations mean that such control over their oil, and forcing up prices to diversify their economies, clashes with the need for the senescent low birth consumer utopias of the West to have lower oil prices to make consumers happy and re-elect politicians.

Remember that the oil tanker drivers who blockaded the ports and went on strike in 2000 nearly brought down Blair's government. The strikers were supported by most Britons who demand low prices for oil whilst not realising that Iraq was a necessary consequence of their high octane lifestyles.

It was that which led Blair to support the US invasion of Iraq and support a realignment with Gaddafi soon after. Again as Iraq's supply failed to increase after it fell into anarchy, Gaddafi was courted to make up the shortfall. That is demonstrated by the news just today that MI6 collaborated with Gaddafi.

That wars in the 21st are for resources is obvious. The question is this : what are we going to do about it ?