Saturday, 21 December 2013

Woolwich Attack: Rationalising Terror and Propagating Ideology.

There is a difference between journalists attempting to explain why terrorists or assassins believe they are justified in carrying out attacks and using those justifications as a means to rationalise them as a mere reflex action to foreign policies that are said to be bound to cause a response.

Senior Guardian journalist Seumas Milne is an example of the latter as clear from the headline accompanying his reactionto the verdict in sentencing soldier Lee Rigby's killer Michael Adebolajo-Woolwich attack: If the whole world's a battlefield, that holds in Woolwich as well as Waziristan.

Essentially, Milne's attitude towards to Adebolajo's assassination is to use it to hammer home hard propaganda points by quoting the words of terrorists and assassins as if their justifications were self evident and not to be 'condoned' because 'counter-productive'.

This Leninist approach to terrorism regards such violence as Adebolajo's as bad because bad for 'the cause', an 'infantile disorder' to use Lenin's words when criticising 'pointless' anarchist violence in Russia before the Revolution of 1917 that fails to yield results.

Milne opines,
'Quite apart from morality, the impact was violently counter-productive for the Muslims that Rigby's killers claimed to be defending, as Islamophobic attacks spiked across Britain.'
That is why Milne loftily writes off morality as something 'quite apart' from the 'counter-productive' nature of the attack. That, in any case, matters less because a soldier who had served in Afghanistan was hacked to death in the streets of London but because it led to a backlash against 'our side'.

The use of language to hint and insinuate that message is clear to anybody who knows anything about how propaganda works. Milne is claiming that what assassins such as Adebolajo must be taken at face value and not to even bother looking in detail at what he actually said.
"We swear by the Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. The only reason we have killed this man this is because Muslims are dying daily. This British soldier is an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth ... We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth...I apologise that women had to see this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments. They don't care about you. Do you think David Cameron is gonna get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? Do you think the politicians are gonna die? No, it's gonna be the average guy – like you, and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace. Leave our lands and you will live in peace. That’s all I have to say. Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you. Salaam alaikum".
Milne completely discounts the nature of the threat was aimed at the British public, that if 'You people' failed to stop the war then 'You' would become next. The fact it was a soldier who was targeted was intended to give Adebolajo a sort of equivalent status as a foot soldier in a war.
'Rigby was a British soldier who had taken part in multiple combat operations in Afghanistan. So the attack wasn't terrorism in the normal sense of an indiscriminate attack on civilians'.
It was a discriminate attack on a soldier that was meant to get the public to think that they would be next because they have not prevented a war in Afghanistan being fought. Adebolajo was not even a born Muslim nor from Muslim lands ;attacked' but someone who converted in order to have a creed to fight for.

In that sense, Adebolajo's actions are quite in line with a tradition of political terrorism and assassination that has a pedigree going back to the Russian tradition that culminated in Lenin's bloodthirsty use of mass terror during the construction of the Soviet Union.

The idea that there are no innocent people in this world once the scale of the oppression is so clear means that either people are either for the right cause or against it. By failing to 'do' anything to change governments that carry out oppression in their name they are objectively supporting it and targets.

To mechanically write off all consideration of the psychopathology behind acts of terror and assassinations and killings for political and religions reasons is the gambit of those who have no problem with the idea of murdering their opponents so long as it gets the result they want.

If that means using outrages and atrocities for bolstering one's own propaganda, while affecting a distaste for that killing as 'counter productive', then that's simply the way it has to be in order to wake people up to the killing done in 'our name'. Sp Milne, as a prominent figure in the Stop the War Coalition claims,
'Only the wilfully blind or ignorant can be shocked when there is blowback from that onslaught at home. The surprise should be that there haven't been more such atrocities.'
'You People' had it coming in other words. The position is Stop the War or else expect more bloodshed. This is far from being a pacifist position. But then again, one problem with the 'anti-war' groups in Britain is that they are not led by well meaning people but, alas, cold blooded totalitarian ideologues.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Afghanistan: Mission Not Quite Accomplished

"You have to remember that Afghanistan is an extremely poor country with a very, very troubled history but I think the purpose of our mission was always to build an Afghanistan and Afghan security forces that were capable of maintaining a basic level of security so this country never again became a haven for terrorist training camps. That has been the most important part of the mission …That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done."
Cameron might well have declared that the mission has been accomplished. The fact it is it has not because the main strategic objective of the West in Afghanistan-securing the construction of the TAPI pipeline-has not been achieved. That is why British troops are being 'drawdown' and not withdrawn.

"Afghanistanisation" is a longer term project that underlies the geopolitical strategy of ensuring that Iran is excluded from being able to export its gas eastwards through Pakistan into India, one of the world's largest markets. Thousands of Western troops and private contractors will remain after 2014.

Despite the recent thaw in relations between Washington and Tehran over Iran's nuclear programme, the US was resolute in November 2013 in refusing to exempt the IPI pipeline from sanctions and instead pushing Pakistan towards accepting the future Trans-Afghan alternative.

With British troops being withdrawn from 'combat roles'. the military and private contractors are set to stay there in order to keep the Taliban in check from attacking the TAPI pipeline's construction because this has remained the paramount interest as the idea of 'nation building' was shelved.

The process of 'drawdown' of British troops has been paralleled by the US. Replaced by private contractors and with the conflict spilling over to the south in Pakistan with drone warfare, the strategy is to keep on with 'infrastructure projects' and the pipeline that is in the West's vital interest to protect.

The importance of the TAPI pipeline lies in the strategy of energy diversification. It means Turkmen gas could be exported south beyond Russian control, preventing China exerting too much leverage ( a pipeline now goes between Turkmenistan and China ) and hemming in Iranian influence.

Opponents of the war can scoff at Cameron's claim of 'mission accomplished' because they are in the dark as to what the true objectives were. Even if the war initially really did have women's liberation, the establishment of liberal democracy and the 'war on drugs' as aims, these are now less prominent.

The reality is that Afghanistan has always been an important part of a geopolitical jigsaw and valued as a potential prize for its copious resources, expecially of lithium ( used to make batteries for everything from the mobile phones to iPads that consumers demand ).

Afghanistan is a conflict zone and a cockpit in the New Great Game for control of energy flows and the minerals needed for high tech products being played out between the West, China and Russia. The facts are established on this. US State Department officials routinely mention 'the New Silk Road'.

If we are going to talk about whether it 'was worth it', it's first necessary to understand why Afghanistan was fought for so long. It's infantile to berate 'idiot politicians' because the politicians know they could never admit the real geopolitical reasons for the war that are too complex for the children to grasp.