Wednesday, 19 September 2012

History versus Propaganda: The Uselessness of Seumas Milne.

One of the most depressing trends in British domestic politics is how extra-parliamentary opposition to the dangerous and destabilising foreign policies pursued by the USA ( and ,therefore, by the UK ) consist of the dregs of movements that were largely sympathetic to Global Communism of the Leninist type.

In the shape of the former RESPECT Party until 2007, when it was an alliance of atheist militants of the "Socialist Workers Party" and Islamists, and the "Stop the War Coalition", former advocates of totalitarian style politics continue to offer the leading voices against the "interventions" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

One of the worst is Seumas Milne. In The Guardian, he starts off from the premise that he hates the USA as the embodiment of Global Capitalist Evil with the fervour of the more cliched kind of activist who seems to get off on ramping up outrage and offering little constructive about what could be done.

That is demonstrated in the very nature of an article today where Milne writes, with reference to the riots and protests by some angry Muslims towards the idiotic portrayal of Mohammed in a low bugdet film shot in the US,
...the only surprise is that there aren't more violent anti-US and anti-western protests in the region.

This merely crude and boringly predictable anti-US sentiment, which Milne shares in Britain on behalf of those Muslims outraged by US foreign policies, is considered to be about decades of intervention, meddling, supporting coups and the more recent direct invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The issue Milne evades is the one of whether the "blowback" from the US and UK policy of sponsoring terroristic Islamist movements as proxies is responsible for the protests across what is simplistically termed "The Muslim World" ( ignoring the nature of the vast differences amongst 1.4 billion people ) .

Do the protests in various cities across North africa and the Middle East and Asia reflect spontaneous eruptions of outrage against the tacky Mohammed film made in the USA ? Or do they come from the carefully co-ordinated manipulation by political actors in these areas?

Milne, still embittered by the victory of the USA in the Cold War against the USSR that he portrays as a positive check on US Imperialist power, dates the Islamist terror threat ( as opposed to the wider Islamist movements against the US e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood ) back to the Western support for the mujahadeen against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Irrespective of the issues at stake in the NATO occupation of Afghanistan and its failures, Milne has consistently exhibited a certain amount of schadenfreude that the West is being biffed by what he regards as the same forces that inflicted defeat on the Soviet Union.
The US decision to suspend joint Afghan-Nato operations in response to a wave of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on Nato troops cuts the ground from beneath the centrepiece of western strategy
Yet the attacks on NATO troops are mainly from the Taliban who are Afghans in so far as they live in Afghanistan. But , in reality, they are Pashtuns, one ethnic group amongst the many that live in Afghanistan. This is not a nationalist revolt. This is a factual error.
The US-British invasion of Afghanistan was of course launched in response to the 9/11 attacks: the poison fruit of US-led support for the Afghan mujahideen war against the Soviet Union. Why do they hate us, many Americans asked at the time, oblivious to their country's role in decades of coups, tyranny, sanctions regimes and occupations across the Middle East
The 9/11 attacks came from Al Qaida who were a small minority of the former mujahadeen who fought against the Soviet Union. Most of the mujahadeen fought because they detested the Soviet Union for its atheism and for the PDPA's draconian modernisation policies.
True, President Carter's National Security Adviser Brzezinski did in 1979 exploit the situation to help funnel arms and funds to the USA but most of the money and foreign recruits came from Islamic charities such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunni movements opposed to the secular Arab nationalist regimes.

The idea the USA singlehandedly destabilised a "promising" Communist regime in Kabul ( and it was only strong in Kabul ) and induced the Soviet invasion is a myth. It was part of the decision to invade but the responsibility for the chaos in Afghanistan belongs to the Communists.
... just as the mujahideen the US backed in Afghanistan later turned their guns on their imperial sponsor in the form of the Taliban and al-Qaida, so many of the Islamists and jihadists who fought against Gaddafi with Nato air cover have their own ideas for the future of their country..
The mujahadeen did not do that as it fragmented into rival factions after the USSR withdrew from Afghanistan. The early 1990s saw warlordism and the Taliban was created by Pakistan to advance its interests in the neighbouring state. Another factual error nailed.
There was no "the" mujahadeen in the 1990s. They turned their guns on one another and Al Qaida was able to find a base there amidst the chaos of a collapsed state. In 2001, the USA backed former factions of the mujahadeen in the Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban.

The reason was that the Taliban, by not expelling Al Qaida, were no longer useful in furthering the strategy to build the Trans-Afghan Pipeline from Turkmenistan down through to India, thus blocking off Iranian regional ambitions and diversifying the supply of gas away from Russian control.

The 9/11 Attacks gave the US and NATO a pretext to go into Afghanistan in order to advance its interests and, by extension, build a functioning state. It was an absurdly foolish foreign policy doomed to failure. Yet Milne's grasp of the history of Afghanistan is as shaky as the left wing interventionists he opposes.

Then again, the purpose is not hitorical accuracy or understanding. It is to ramp up pathological hatred.
Western war in the Muslim world has also fed a toxic tide of Islamophobia in Europe and the US. What is it about Muslims that makes them so easily offended, Europeans and Americans commonly demand to know – while Muslims point to cases such as the British 19-year-old who was convicted in Yorkshire last week of posting a "grossly offensive" Facebook message that British soldiers in Afghanistan "should die and go to hell", and ask why they're not afforded that protection.
The police are continually charging people for Twitter comments where no threat or harm to life is present. There is no attempt by British governments to "demonise" Muslims. If anything, they have sought to bend and twist free speech laws to please "the Muslim community".

The fact is, without hyperbole, that the wars in Afghanistan are wars fought to advance strategic interests and control oil and gas supplies. As in the Kosovo War in 1999, the Western Powers will bomb traditional Christian lands to advance their geopolitical interests.

The fact that these wars are interpreted as "anti-Muslim" is only for propaganda purposes and to agitate the Muslim British population in to forming pressure groups to try to change British foreign policy. It should change but not because of pressure, the threat of violence or intimidation in this country.

It should be done by reasoned argument and drawing attention to the dangers in getting dragged into conflicts in the Middle East just in order to engineer the outcome in such a way as benefit our oil interests. Energy independence would avert these hazards and dangers.

Milne never mentions these realities because his ideal is not peaceful co-existence but in sowing antagonistic hatreds of the sort that ideologues on the hard left feed off. It also helps this hack establish his "credibility" , he thinks, amongst British Muslims.

1 comment:

  1. I've read his latest article (20/02/2013), on how VENEZUELA and BOLIVIA are dealing with their economies and how it's a viable way to get out of our unstable financial system, and god I can't tell this man from the party sponsored journalists we have here in Brazil, I don't know if his a complete ignorant on the Latin America situation, Venezuela is going trough an nutritional crises, the food prices area as tree times as high, if it wasn't for they almost unlimited oil and natural gas reserves they would have bankrupt about eight years ago. Bolivia has already scared all the world's investors they can't hold up for more than four years without crashing. And those ignorants like Seumas prefer to work on hypothetical or fantastical situations.