Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ken Livingstone Rationalises Terrorism ( Again ).

Here is another power hungry demagogue. It's Red Ken blaming jihadist fanatical attacks wholly as a response to US foreign policy. On Iranian TV. Just as George Galloway praised North Korea on Iranian TV recently.

Livingstone seems to deny any moral agency for the Boston Bombers or that they were, in fact, indoctrinated into a sort of jihadist cult and were, by all accounts unhappy with life in the USA.

The Boston Bombers were Chechens. By all logical premises, their target ought to have been the Great Power that defeated them in the form of Russia. Livingstone'ss predictable response is a rationalisation for terrorism.

As an "explanation" it simply takes what jihadists say at face value. It fails to explain that if US foreign policy alone were responsible for this death cult, then why there has been no Serbian terrorist attack on Britain after the Kosovo War ( 1999). The Boston Bombers were not suicide bombers.

If, as Livingstone claims, 54 countries globally were involved in "extraordinary rendition" ( and that was a decade ago under George Bush, though Guantanamo remains still open ), then it's curious that Poland has not been bombed while Britain was.

The reason is obvious: there is no large Muslim population in Poland and so the aim of terrorism , to provoke a disproportionate response by the police and exacerbate tensions, would be futile. Such obvious considerations are wholly absent from Livingstone's cretinous inability to understand how terrorism works.

Livingstone is a demagogue who seeks the Muslim vote in London by crudely associating Muslims with Islamist fanatics. The reason is he has replaced decent municipal socialism with an unprincipled version of power obsessed identity politics.

Never again should Ken Livingstone be seriously considered a candidate for Major of London. His "explanation" of terrorism is a form of dog whistle politics to disgruntled Islamists that should have no place in London or the United Kingdom.

Livingstone is merely a sententious warbling fool.

Why the War in Afghanistan based on a Fraudulent Claim of Humanitarian Intervention.

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, gave a rousing defence of Britain's military involvement in Afghanistan on the Today programme this morning, arguing – with some justification – that the Afghans are now in a better position to take charge of their own affairs than they were when the Nato mission got underway in the summer of 2006. 
So opines Con Coughlin in The Telegraph . in A peace deal with the Taliban is crucial for Britain's successful withdrawal from Afghanistan ) The Afghans who are now to "take charge" of their destiny involve the Taliban. Down the Orwellian memory hole has gone all the gibberish that this war was ever about "women's rights" or "humanitarian intervention" Such phrases are no longer even used in the public discussion on the war.

So having gone in to Afghanistan back in 2001 in order to remove the Taliban, held to be in league with Al Qaida, the British public are now being told that the women hating "Islamofascists" that were continually cited as the enemy of the West to be defeated are  to be negotiated with. Meaning either the war aims have failed or that something else was always at stake.

In fact this inevitable "deal" with the Taliban  proves that the war was thus never a "humanitarian intervention". So why did the conflict drag on so long? The reason is that the deal being struck is about securing the construction of the TAPI pipeline.That was clear when the minister of energy in Kabul said as much to the respected journalist Lutz Kleveman in his The New Great Game.

While the war in Afghanistan was never from the outset only about securing what US Stste Department documents and Hilary Clinton refer to as "The New Silk Route". It was a major war objective.

The latest evidence is that the TAPI Pipeline, a project that will block off the need for the building of the rival Iranian to Pakistan pipeline, will be complete by 2017. Troops and special forces will remain in Afghanistan to facilitate this process.Hammond does not actually state troops will be withdrawn. He uses the Orwellian can phrase troop drawdown.

The British public have been lied to as much as the war objectives in Afghanistan as they were in Iraq. The Fourth Afghan War is crucially concerned with energy geopolitics and encircling and containing Iran.This nations stands in the way of Western hegemony over Central Asia and the Middle East and its oil and gas reserves.

AJP Taylor in The Troublemakers once wrote that no Establishment foreign policy had ever remained unchallenged. It is a sad sign of the state of British democracy that the war objectives were never publicly debated not stated clearly. The siren voices for "liberal intervention" are now nowhere to be heard. The endgame in the construction of the TAPI pipeline.

Why Polly Toynbee Represents Everything That is Wrong with the Privileged Liberal Left in Britain.

Polly Toynbee embodies everything that is wrong with the liberal left in Britain. Pathetically trying to pretend, Ed Miliband is "an intellectual", as opposed to a PR politician and careerist, she opines, Labour's golden policy key? Build, build and build more
.if Miliband needs a golden policy key, housebuilding looks set to be it. Build a million homes to cut housing benefit waste, employ hundreds of thousands, create apprenticeships, breathe life into the real economy, stop house price bubbles, replace those right-to-buy social homes. Building is not just good policy, but the best symbol for optimism.
Building on brownfield sites might be a good idea. And flat blocks will have be built. As a militant Progressive, Toynbee seems not to realise the SE of England is vastly overpopulated and that it was New Labour that was responsible for that by it's irresponsible policy on mass migration.

This paean to the prospect of progressivism simply shows everything that is basically wrong with the New Labour "liberal left". Apprenticeships are the one good idea Toynbee has here. Yet during the Blair years too many were encouraged to go to shoddy universities ( previously polytechnics)

Toynbee would no doubt laud that as egalitarian as opposed to simply a profit making scam by banks and universities selling trashy education. Yet Blair had promoted that instead of importing masses of skilled labourers from abroad so as to avoid state expense on training Britains's workforce.

Therefore, UKIP is now set to reap the reward of those Panglossian policies that Toynbee was all for ( though always ramping up the trite guide girl metaphors about pulling our socks up, trying harder and other such cliches that make these articles difficult to read without boredom ).

Instead of this stale partisanships about "New Labour can do better", it may well be better to realise what a total catastrophe the Blair and Brown era between 1997 and 2010 was. Though it took to an ever worse extreme the neoliberal monetaristic voodoo economics of the Thatcher years.

Toynbee ignores the fact that "growth" is environmentally destructive and what is needed is the economic development of manufacturing in way that does not destroy our countryside, is modernistic and exploits Britain's inventive people and designers.

But nothing on that except futile and failed policy recommendations about housebuilding as if this were the 1930s again. Fabians have learnt nothing in the past 30 years any more than the neoliberal fanatics who progressive creeds they share in some ways.The inertia continues.

A Note on the UAE

Guardian journalist Irvine writes,
The UAE is recognised as a valued investor in the UK, with Boris Johnson recently referring to himself as the "mayor of the eighth emirate". After all, Dubai has invested in a £1.5bn new deepwater port at London Gateway, while up the river, the £36m Emirates Airline cable car carries Londoners across the Thames.
There is no more degrading spectacle than Britain prostrating itself before these corrupt rentier oil rich regimes in order to male London the capital of "capital capital". By the standards of other neighbouring regimes, the UAE is relatively liberal but Cameron's feeble mention of human rights is eyewash.

David Cameron led a delegation to the UAE to, among other things, persuade the Emiratis to purchase 60 British Typhoon aircraft. Human rights were to be discussed, the prime minister said. "On human rights, there are no no-go areas in this relationship."
As a PR guru, the idea of selling billions of pounds worth of military hardware to the UAE- while pretending that this comes under the condition of respecting human rights is as bogus-is exactly the sort of slippery jibberish to be expected from David Cameron.

Clearly there are "no no-go areas" as Cameron, more of crude businessman than a statesman or diplomatic is highly unlikelt to make conditions upon the UAE government over arbitrary detainment or torture when the arms deals are already signed and sealed and London is cravenly dependent upon capital.

Great Britain was one a net exporter of capital that actually did have benefits to both the recipient countries and the City of London. That was founded in tangent with Britain's manufacturing power and export markets. The sight of Britain crawling before such regimes is both demeaning and humiliating.

Those who warble on about what happens in Saudi Arabia or UAE or Qatar is "not our business" ignore the obvious fact it is "our business" because of the reciprocal business relationships that have developed since the 1980s: the British trade in arms and its geopolitical support in return for oil and investments.

Monday, 29 April 2013

On Alan Watts.

What do you really think about the prospect of dying and vanishing forever? The possibility of everything becoming nothing or the prospect of being alone at the moment of death while the world goes on oblivious to what we were, have been and soon will be-a cold isolated gravestone or a pot of ash. 

Would it make you feel any better if on your deathbed someone told you ( and you have no family ) that an asteroid was going to obliterate the planet after your death ? Would you care ? Most of the fear of death is the fear of being alone and of having never actually being fully aware while alive. We came from nothing and will return to the nothingness from which we came.

Only pain is to really that which is to be feared. And a life in which we gave our lives to chasing illusory dreams of "security" through acquiring the money alone that's then to be frittered away mostly on consumer junk. Step outside the treadmill and we can learn to live again. Alan Watts, a contemporary of Aldous Huxley, understood that.

As Watts remarked on those chasing the illusory phantoms of "security" through perpetual acquisition of money, such businessmen had never learn to appreciate the very quality of the life that we may simply live from day to day “No work for love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”.

The last two books by Watts , The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are and Tao :The Watercourse Way are classics of philosophy and theology much underappreciated in Watts's own country ( he was born in Britain, though lived most of his life In California ). There are also masterpieces of British ethical empiricism and literature.

Britain used to produce charming eccentrics ( Watts is often referred to be an "unrutted philosopher" ) But he was not a drippy hippy. He had wise insights into human existence that offer some way of getting out of the impasse of the universal egotism of both the Establishment and the egotistic "look at me protesters" in Britain in 2013.

As Watts remarked in The Book,." our usual ideas of "unselfishness...is the effort to identify with others and their needs while still under the strong illusion of being a self contained ego. Such "unselfishness is apt to be a highly refined egotism, comparable to the in-group which plays the game "we're more tolerant than you". 

Indeed, of the militant, often hysterical self righteousness of some anti-Vietnam protesters he said "they hate the hating of hatred-three instead of one". Many radicals who hate war ( which breeds hatred ) hate that hatred so much they become pyschotic: in extreme cases they become worse when they assume power. 

Lenin was "anti-war" in 1916. He then went on to advocate revolutionary civil war which created a totalitarian regime that helped precipitate the rise of Nazism and World War Two. Nihilism is dangerous. That's what Watts was getting at. At the time Watts was writing in the 1960s ,the globe was divided into two heavily militarised camps threatening each other with nuclear annihiliation.

Those fools gloating over Thatcher being worm food or saying "the bitch is dead" could well learn from that simple maxim. As could the demagogues indulging in tribalistic in group warfare But then again their egotism makes them authentic children of Thatcher and the fools cannot look in the mirror and see it.

A Note on Qatar

The rise of Qatar is founded upon its oil wealth that it's now using to fund Syrian Sunni insurgents. Despite Cameron's declaration that he does not think military intervention is possible, his useless diplomacy has failed to reign in Qatar's involvement in inflaming the Syrian Civil War.

The reason for that is clear: British foreign policy is based on allowing proxy forces to overthrow Assad in a way that endangers the lives of Allwite Shia, Druze and Christian communities.

Another reason is that Britain, due to the long term impact of Thatcher's decimation of Britain's manufacturing, made London and The City, as well as the property boom, the engine of economic growth.

Capital from Qatar is responsible for the grotesque 'Shard" now completed in London, a building of atrocious vulgarity that produces an alienating effect upon Londoners. They own 20% of Barclay's Bank.As Mark Almond has commented
"Britain used to “protect” the Persian Gulf state. Now the Emir helps our economy out in return for backing his foreign policy.... Last year their special forces blazed a trail for democracy in Libya and they are helping rebels in Syria. But back home, the micro-state’s security services take a close interest in any sign of dissent. Six out of seven people are Third World migrant workers — many of them women — with no real rights".

This foreign policy of tacitly supporting such a gimcrack yet rich regime ( simply because the al Thani clan sat on oil, shames Britain as such as potentially destabilises the Arab world.

Britain urgently needs to reduce its over dependence upon oil in corrupt and volatile land. The promotion of public transport and the rejection of Thatcher's "Great Car economy" are part of that solution.

A Note on Syria.

The reason the Syrian Civil was has been exacerbated, as revealed here by Oxford University's Dr Mark Almond, is that from the outset the UK and USA demanded Assad must Go" without thinking about the consequences and chaos that could cause.Mostly this is due To British foreign policies being led those ignorant of the history of the Middle East.

The reason Russia and China are blocking all US decisions in the security council is that the Western poweres lied about only imposing  a "no fly zone". Then they proceeded to funnel arms and material aid to factions in the Libyan opposition to Gaddafi whose brutality was often as bad as the Libyan regime. 

As Syria has no massive oil reserves, it's unlike a ground intervention willl occur. But the impasse has been partly cause by the catastrophic diplomacy of so-called Western "statesmen" and the failure to put pressure on the Saudi regime to stop arming and channelling billions of dollars to the Syrian insurgents. 

That is unlikely as Britain and the USA are heavily dependent upon Saudi Arabia oil, a have multi-million pound arms trade with the regime and, especially, the UK, are dependent upon petrodollars to keep the City of London booming from property investments. The same as as true of Qatar. Britain's foreign policy is craven and reflects its dependency upon imported oil and capital.

With Russia and China unable to trust a duplitous US and UK, still trying to train the "right sunni insurgents" on the ground within Syria, a negotiated settlement that much include Assad is receding. The causualty levels by 2013 stand at around 70,000. There is no end in sight for this brutal Civil War.

Evidently, Assad is poserful enough to resist the Sunni insurgents. And the the way Gaddafi was brutally murdered without a trial, gives Asad every reason to not conceded an inch. The insiurgents have rejected every UN request for a negotiated settlement. As for John McCain is the man is insane for suggesting lifting the arms embargo completely and aligning with sunni jihadists.

Peter Hitchens on Syria.

I fear for the Christian and Alawi minorities if Sunni Muslim radicals, backed by Sunni Saudi Arabia and Sunni Turkey, take over. And who knows what would then happen in precarious Lebanon, where the Shia Muslim Hizbollah would then be in a very sensitive position, deprived of a major ally, presumably next on the Saudi target list,  yet still powerfully armed and well-trained?

And then there is Shia Iran - Syria’s principal ally and Saudi Arabia’s principal hate-object ( and probably the real target of all this fuss) . Much could follow from an Assad defeat, and much of it could involve violence and danger. It is time people realised that the Sunni-Shia split, in which Syria is embroiled whether she likes it or not,  is now a more dangerous fault-line in the Middle East than the stalemated Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Read the rest of Hitchen's perceptive article on the Syrian Civil War here

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The USA and UK are not "Being Dragged" into Intervention in the Syrian Civil War

It has become a routine assumption that the USA is "being drawn" into Syria. The USA and its uncritical client state the UK are not being sucked into the potential for intervention to back the Sunni insurgents in Syria but have staunchly backed a policy of "regime change" since the Civil War broke out.

Ewan MacAskilll writes in The Guardian
The Obama administration is rightly reluctant to be drawn in to the Middle East. So, even after announcing on Thursday that it is likely that chemical weapons had been used, the White House has begun to backtrack. 

Desperate to avoid following through on its warning of "consequences", the White House has thrown up lots of seemingly reasonable excuses: there is no certainty yet that chemical weapons have been used; the US cannot intervene on the basis of intelligence alone; and in any case, it may only have been a small amount.
 Obviously the debacle over Iraq in 2003 and claims of WMDs and stockpiles of biological weapons is weighing on Obama's mind. The best course is simply to stop the covert intervention and demands that 'Assad must go'. Authoritarian states are bad. Yet anarchy can be worse than tyranny.

The US and UK seems bereft of intelligent statesmen who understand that backing the "right" Sunni opposition , often aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood, are not necessarily any better than the Baathist regime. It is absurd the USA backing what were its enemies a decade ago.

The aims of "regime change" have less do do with "humanitarian intervention". The phrase seems to have been dropped and the siren voices so confident in "liberal intervention" a decade ago in Iraq are largely silent. Brian Brivati, Nick Cohen etc They have little or no opinion on this.

The geopolitical strategy is to remove Assad and the land bridge between the Shia ascendancy in Iraq ( a consequence of the US invasion and the removal of sunni predominance under Saddam Hussein ) and Iran. It is Iran that provides the main bulwark to hegemony over the Middle East and Asia.

It's part of the New Great Game for oil and gas. Remove Assad's Syria ( even if it means tacitly turning a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing of Allawite Shia's, Christians and Druze) , then Iran is encircled and flanked from both sides by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran's use of its proxies in Lebanon through Hizbollah would be severely curtailed. The balance of power would be conclusively turned against Iran in the Middle East. It's ability to profit from exports of gas to the east via the IP pipeline would be thwarted by the NATO backed TAPI Pipeline.

Syria fits into this complicated geopolitical jigsaw in this way. The strategy has been US hegemony over Gulf oil and also the oil and gas of the central Asian republics that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is a geostrategy formulated by Zbigniew Brzezinski ( influential on Obama ).

The US is already "drawn" into the Middle East. It is absurd to imply that it has not been in Syria or elsewhere. The CIA is already trying to co-ordinate and train the Sunni jihadist militias ( the right ones ) as if this policy and "regime change" can be installed to order in that way.

More generally, the US needs to disengage from the Middle East, advocate "regime change" in Saudi Arabia and start to reform its economy so that it is not dependent for 60% of its oil from these dangerously volatile lands. The UK should have preserved it's North Sea oil but squandered it.

The only solution to the Syrian crisis must be a rapprochement with Russia and China and pragmatic diplomacy that will stop all sides using this as a proxy war. The Great War of 1914 to 1918 was triggered off by the Great Powers being drawn in to ethnic wars started by the demise of the Ottomans.

The Syrian Civil War is a long term legacy of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 delayed for almost a century. If British diplomats and US politicians were more intelligent and historically minded they would be able to see their clumsy interventions will do more harm than good.

Friday, 26 April 2013

George Galloway Praises North Korea.

That George Galloway is a demagogue and a dolt is conclusively proved by this rant on Iran's Press TV. The aggressor is not North Korea. Galloways claims from his two visits to North Korea extraordinarily and absolutely cohesive political entity and society which refuses to "bend the knee to great power diktat"

That really is a euphemism precisely for a totalitarian regime that has reduced its population to immiseration and even famine, where North Koreans are reduced to eating grass and tree bark. Bizarrely, Galloway claims the North Koreans have "the right to live". By this he means the repellent hereditary regime of dictators, the Juche regime where worship of the Dear Leader is compulsory.

Ignoring the inner dynamic and workings of a functional totalitarian dictatorship, Galloway conflates all North Koreans with the regime itself. Of course, it is the US and its "puppet state" in South Korea for who are to blame for "causing" the tensions. 

Galloway adores the 'cohesive, pristine, innocent culture of North Korea" which is "untouched by globalisation". In other words, he lauds a totalitarian state modelled on Orwell's dystopian vision in 1984. He is exploiting the ignorance of the younger generation in Britain to peddle his deranged world view and perversely packaging it as real idealism.

In fact words such as "coherent, pristine, innocent culture" could have been words uttered by Joseph Goebbels about Nazi Germany . And this is the man supposedly a humanist and commited socialist and " a man of principle". Galloway's rantss are the consequence of blind hatred against American as if it were the only source of evil in the world.

The totalitarian creeps are hijacking opposition to the foreign policies of Britain and the US and economic dislocation to try to make a comeback. Galloway may well be a flash in the pan. But more and more sharing his demagogic style are always ready to manipulate people and believe in insane conspiracy theories and "the paranoid style of politics"


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Syria and Yugoslavia Compared.

A humane and thoughtful piece from Timothy Garton Ash on Syria appeared in The Guardian  with regards the way there seems to be no urgency to find a solution to the Syrian Civil War that has now claimed 70,000 lives in just two years. In Yugoslavia in the 1990s over almost a decade it was 100,000 dead.

However, he does not quite seem to understand how badly previous "responsibility to protect" notions were  manipulated cynically by the Great Powers and in practice were largely abandoned once the invasions dragged on. Garton Ash states,
So why isn't the word "Syria" on all our lips? Twenty years ago, in 1993, everyone was talking about Bosnia. Ten years ago, in 2003, everyone was talking about Iraq.
The reason is that the West is not held to directly to blame for events in Syria. So there have been no mass protests and debates in London or New York. But also there is cynicism and fatigue. The idea is that nothing can be done, especially if it means the prospect of a disastrous military intervention.
Meanwhile, we have a UN-sanctioned doctrine of the "responsibility to protect", in response to what happened in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. If the responsibility to protect does not apply to the man-made humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, where does it apply?
The problem is that this noble concept has been abused by the Great Powers to advocate the NATO attack on Serbia in 1999 ( which increased the level of ethnic cleansing ), the futile invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003. There is no will nor want for any "intervention" in 2013.

Garton Ash tends to overlook the fact that both the Balkans and Syria were part of the Ottoman Empire up until 1918, though Serbia was breaking away up to a century before. The European states found they had some basis formed on territorial jurisdiction and national loyalties.

In the southern Islamic lands of the Ottoman Empire, none of the states carved out of the collapsed imperium had any real territorial legitimacy in constrast to even the Balkan states and despite the ferocious nationalism stoked up by demagogues such as Tudjman and Milosevic..

After 1918, the lands to the south of what would become Turkey, such as Syria and Iraq had no territorial jurisdiction nor loyalties beyond religious sectarian allegiances or tribal affiliation. The supposed "nation states" became subject after WW2 by ideological politics such as Baathism.

Yet there numerous flaws in Garton Ash's liberal mandarin outlook,

In Kosovo we applied direct force, by air and land, to secure a peace based on even more far-reaching ethnic division. Thirteen years on, the still embryonic rapprochement between Serbia and Kosovo civilises that division, European style,
In fact, the CIA and US forces armed and backed the terroristic KLA under Hacim Thaci to stimulate a cycle of violence, ignoring the the more peaceful Kosovan moderates, by attacking Serbian police station and so lure Milosevic into greater repressive measures.

This is a fact that even finds expression in respected historians and journalists work, such as Tim Judah's Kosovo: War and Revenge. The Kosovan regime under Thaci has been responsible for drug smuggling, sex trafficking, and the sale of human organs.

It is curious to know whether such practices, as carried on by the Kosovan regime, are in line with contemporary "European style" or an "untidy peace" in Garton Ash's view. Or the abandonment of Serbs after 2001 to Kosovan retaliation as KFOR troops were deployed to Afghanistan and then Iraq.

Garton Ash is right: Syria has become a proxy war. The CIA are already trying to funnel arms to "the right rebels". But rejections from the outset of a diplomatically negotiated settlement by Clinton and Hague ( "Assad Must Go! ) hardened the Russian, Chinese and Iranian stance that he will stay.

The reason the US and UK is intervening is that removing Assad means a major land bridge linking Iran with Hezbollah and maintaining the balance of power in the Middle East toward the Shia governments and movements would be removed.

To remove Assad would mean Iran would be encircled by Western Power both to the west ( in Syria and, though erratically ) by a shia dominated Iraqi government and to the East in Afghanistan. The idea of all the troops leaving Afghanistan is an untruth. A strong military presence will remain.

Garton Ash almost never understands the vital role of the New Great Game and the competition for oil and gas both in the Middle East and in Central Asia. The Afghanistan War is crucially concerned with ensuring the security along the route along which the TAPI pipeline will be built.

Syria fits in to this Great Power contest because the grand plan is to throttle the Iranian government in Tehran by blocking off its oil and gas exports. By ensuring the TAPI pipeline is constructed a community of interest between central and south Asia will be created. It's regional ambitions thwarted.

Garton Ash urgently needs to realise that the future lies in resource wars. Repeatedly he has written of the West's "vital interests". Yet this Orwellian euphemism never mentions words like gas or oil. The power of facing facts seems no longer to be important for him.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Our Democracy is Desperately Sick

Andreas Whittam Smith: Our democracy is desperately sick. This is your chance to help save it

 At last, a seemingly rather sensible attempt to tell the truth about Britain's ailing democracy. Whittam Smith's arguments portend to a manifesto ( to be released tomorrow  in The Independent that might contain ideas for a positive reform programme. Here it is,

British democracy is in crisis. We cannot wish this away. The cause is a precipitous decline in respect for Members of Parliament and for the governments they form. Trust in our rulers has never been lower; faith in their competence is approaching nil. Democratic states cannot function properly in such circumstances. To see what is happening, look at what the polling organisations report.
One of these, YouGov, surveyed more than 5,000 adults throughout Great Britain in January this year. It asked how well or badly people thought Parliament was doing its job. The YouGov pollsters asked which were the features of Britain's political system that were liked the most and which were liked the least. Just over a third of the respondents couldn't think of anything worthy of praise. The rest of the findings were dire. Over half the sample (53 per cent) was critical of the quality of our politicians. And there was (and is) a widespread belief that politicians tell lies. Some 62 per cent of respondents agreed that "politicians tell lies all the time – you can't believe a word they say".

When Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, saw the results, he gave this warning: "What emerges is a picture of massive discontent that goes far beyond a dislike of particular politicians, parties and policies." A majority believes Britain's political system to be fundamentally flawed. "The combined effect of these complaints is more profound than is widely realised. Unless action is taken to restore the reputation of our political system, its very legitimacy may be at risk."
More recently, the Hansard Society published the results of its annual audit of political engagement and declared that "indifference has hardened into something more significant, and disturbing". Trends in interest and knowledge are downward, sharply so in some cases. What is suggested is "a public that is increasingly disengaged from national politics".

Then examine what British Social Attitudes has found. After each general election since 1987, the organisation has asked people how much they "trust British governments of any party to place the needs of the nation above the interests of their political party". The proportion trusting governments "just about always" or "most of the time" has collapsed from 47 per cent in 1987 to 20 per cent in 2010. When we compare this level of trust with our Continental neighbours, we find that in 2009 20 out of the 27 members of the European Union displayed higher levels of trust in their governments than we did. Notice also how much higher the turnout was at the recent French presidential election (80 per cent) compared with our last general election (65 per cent).
These warnings, however, rub against that part of our national character that holds it important not to get too fussed about things. While this is an admirable quality when the alternative would be panic in the face of a sudden threat, not getting too fussed can become dangerous complacency. It would be so now.

Return to the warning above: "Unless action is taken to restore the reputation of our political system, its very legitimacy may be at risk." For "legitimacy" substitute a more familiar word that carries the same meaning in this context, authority. Authority is the most important quality that governments can possess.

Until recently, successive British governments had authority in large measure. That is why we are mostly law-abiding, why we tend to pay our taxes and why we are relatively uncorrupt – at least, we thought we were until the scandals of News International and the bad behaviour of the banks erupted into our midst. But if the government of the day loses authority, then the country risks falling into the same situation as Greece or Italy, where inconvenient laws like building regulations are habitually ignored, where tax-dodging is a national sport and where government officials must be bribed before they will do anything. That both these countries are now governed by technocrats rather than by democratically elected leaders shows the sort of fate that can follow a loss of trust in a country's political institutions.

The explanation for the growing disillusion with our political system is twofold: incompetence and trust betrayed. There is a haze of incompetence that envelops ministers. So bad has it become that we have even had to invent a word for it: omnishambles. Exam- ples are the botched reorganisation of the NHS, the Budget that penalised pensioners and charities, the petrol crisis that wasn't. How can you feel confident in people who frequently bring forward half-baked policies that have to be substantially changed within a few weeks of their announcement? But worse than all this is an economic policy that allows no hope for the future. On some forecasts, unemployment will go on rising for the next five years.

So far as trust is concerned, how can we forget that four MPs plus two members of the House of Lords have been imprisoned for dishonesty? In other words, out of the 1,500 members of the 2005- 2010 Parliament, Commons and Lords combined, six turned out to be criminals. At the same time, some journalists working for the national press, whose activities intertwine with politics, face a series of criminal charges.

Also widely noted is the way the political parties say one thing when they are seeking votes and then do the opposite when in power. To some extent, the Tories and Labour have always behaved like this, but it seems to have been more blatant since the 2010 general election. The Liberal Democrats joined in. They made a manifesto pledge to abolish university tuition fees within six years and then, once in government, Liberal Democrat ministers voted to maintain them at a higher level. We can either accept a continuation of this – not get too fussed – or we can do something about it. Not to act is likely to have a number of adverse consequences. Younger people would increasingly wonder what was the point in voting in general elections. Instead they would turn to street protests to express their views. As trust continued to drain away from our institutions it would be harder to get things done. Governments would become more authoritarian to make good the missing respect. That is what awaits us.

But think of the advantages that are available to those who would try to turn this situation round. Britain has a strong democratic tradition, perhaps the most deeply rooted of any country. Creative use of digital media could equal if not exceed the power of the political parties to raise funds and organise elections. And there are plenty of people who care. Indeed there are plenty of people outside Westminster who have the Olympic spirit. In an article tomorrow, I will describe how these strengths might be combined to rescue our democracy and ask for your participation in exploring this route out of the crisis.

 

The Absurdity of The Kilburn Manifesto

Elites are using the crisis of global capital to reassert power. But this is no time for retreat. Our manifesto outlines the alternative

When i read that I though-at last a Kilburn Manifesto, a positive programme of point by point proposals for a workable and pragmatic alternative to the social and economic mess Britain is in. That short lived optimism did not survive the useless article itself which simply harks back to "Red Ken" and whole load of obsolete trend Marxoid nostrums.

Then it should be  realised it was written by Stuart Hall.

Britain needs a credible opposition. Not just carp about what has gone wrong. Increasing numbers of Britons know that. So what positive reforms did the "Kilburn Manifesto" outline ? The answer is absolutely nothing. It's the dead husks of the 1980s left, stimulated into action by the death of Margaret Thatcher.
Yet there has been no rupture in the system or its governing ideology. Indeed, elites have used the crisis in Europe and north America to advance the neoliberal project, as unrelenting attacks on living standards, the NHS and the welfare state in Britain show.
No mention of alternatives. No mention of what could be done. Every reasonably educated individual knows something is wrong. They know what "shock therapy means". Where is the potential alternative. What was even mentioned on the Kilburn Manifesto?Nothing but sociological waffle about neoliberalism far better understood by conservatives such as John Gray.
Outside party politics new social movements, including environmental, anti-cuts and feminist groups, have not come together sufficiently with the old, defensive organisations of the working class to produce the coalition that might make them an effective political force
True enough. Identity politics is divisive and narcissistic.Yet the GLC and "Red Ken" , supported by Stuart Hall, thrives on identity politics.
Yet there are indications of how such a compromise might work, for example in the short era of Ken Livingstone's GLC and the radical experiments under way in Latin America.
On the contrary, it was the lunatic left under "Red Ken" in the 1980s that put on a plate millions of votes to the Thatcher government. The sooner the anti-neoliberal groups realise one reason Thatcher won was the appalling nature of the opposition parties,it might be the better. Even better would be these relicts to simply be reduced to irrelevance.

Thatcher has gone. Thatcherism remains. Unless sane and workable alternatives are thought out the opposition is quite simply doomed no less than Britain has a nasty future ahead of it.If any manifesto is to be outlined it must be brave enough to outline concrete proposals and not the embittered guff of the losers of the 1980s.
This is no time for simple retreat. What is required is a renewed sense of being on the side of the future, not stuck in the dugouts of the past. We must admit that the old forms of the welfare state proved insufficient. But we must stubbornly defend the principles on which it was founded
Fine. What are the reform proposals then? From the Diggers, to the Levellers and the Chartists, English radicalism put along side its criticism of the iniquity of the present system, real reform idea, debated and discussed. There is no evidence of any of that here.Just a promise of a working towards a manifesto. If the puff piece is as wretched as the manifesto, it will amount to nothing.

In fact the Kilburn Manifesto isn't even a manifesto.

From the Soundings website. It's all the 1980s lunatic left trying to get back in on the act again. They failed the first time. They have learnt nothing and will fail again. Can we just clear the stables of these relicts of the 1980s hard left from positions of influence. The rest is simply hilarious ! It has nothing constructive nor is any of it's analysis unique
Although the neoliberal economic settlement is unravelling, its political underpinning remains largely unchallenged. Our manifesto calls into question the neoliberal order itself, and argues that we need radical alternatives to its foundational assumptions.
No, a manifesto outlines new policies, viable potential policies. That is what a manifesto is for beyond spouting ideological cliche opinions.
After Neoliberalism: The Kilburn Manifesto
The manifesto will be published in instalments over the next 12 months.
Chapter 1 Framing statement
After neoliberalism: analysing the present
Stuart Hall, Doreen Massey, Michael Rustin
Next instalments
Doreen Massey Vocabularies of the economy (May)
Michael Rustin Relational welfare (June)
Stuart Hall and Alan O'Shea Neoliberal common sense (July)
Beatrix Campbell Feminism and the new patriarchy (August)
Ben Little Generational politics (September)
Few would support such former GLC relicts. They lack any sort of appeal. If good people ignore the very serious situation of wrought by unrestrained greed, the dominance of the City and neoliberal dogma, then then the cranks are going to slip into potential prominence again. And nothing could be better for the current doctrinaire fanatics in power in 2013 pushing austerity.

If you have a manifesto is must be launched not over the next 12 months. Hall should have stated "we are working on a manifesto". But he didn't say that did he? He just pompously declared he had one.
And nobody is going to take a blind bit of notice of somebody such as Beatrix Campbell warbling on about patriarchy ( she supported the IRA ).

They just won't.

Friday, 19 April 2013

A Few Thoughts on Conspiracy Theories.

The conspiracy theorists were bound to come out quickly after the Boston Bombings. Britain's globe trotting leading conspiracy theorist David Icke seems to have "the reality" behind the attacks revealed already as a False Flag Cover Up.

The reason people believe conspiracy theories is that they provide an all encompassing "explanation" for catastrophes and terrible events that has to be pinned on "them" as opposed to "us". Traditional conspiracy theories were often to do with anti-Semitic ideas.

In recent times, conspiracy theories have tended to emphasise that the real enemies within are "our" own governments. That's not completely new ( as with Hitler's idea Germany was "stabbed in the back" by Jews, socialists etc ) and so lost the First World War.

The difference today is that politicians are not blamed for losing wars so much as for starting them ( not a bad thing, of course ) and that a war such as Iraq is "all about oil" , when it was actually not just about that but also other factors.

The more absurd conspiracy theories can easily be laughed off, even if some weirdly want to believe them , even though they must know they are insane.

For example, the idea that the Moon is actually a Death Star jamming out cosmic signals that would emancipate consciousness, as David Icke states forthrightly, and that the world is dominated by descendants of Annunuki lizard people who intermingled with human to create the dominant classes.

The dangerous conspiracy theories are those that have a superficial basis in reality, such as the idea Zionists were directly responsible for the Iraq War and that can be backed up by the language used by "alternative" journalists such as John Pilger ( " the Bush Gang", "The Bush Cabal" etc etc ).

Apart from tending to stir up atavistic hatreds, conspiracy theories play into the hands of those politicians and commentators and "experts" who want to deny that oil had any thing to do with the Iraq War. Which then reinforces the idea that "they" are all involved in a "cover up".

The same is true of Afghanistan. The TAPI Pipeline is a central geopolitical war objective of NATO. But because Michael Moore mentioned it , and others in relation to Halliburton, profiteers and cliques, the role of the pipeline and the importance of energy politics is downgraded.

This is important because the Afghanistan War is really about the New Great Game for the resources of Central Asia. By making out that "our" own governments rigged the Twin Towers to get 9/11 or even allowed it to happen to have the pretext to invade overshadows the real role of resources.

And this is the central point. By making out that all evil comes from "Them" , the members of the public can absolve themselves from responsibility for what our governments do. Iraq becomes only that which "they" do: no mention of how "our" energy intensive high octane lifestyles make these wars possible.

Ultimately, conspiracy theories dovetail with simplistic left wing explanations that wars and terrorism is all "caused" by "our governments". Which means only is "we" could "stop" them" the world would miraculously become a better place. It's an assertion of "our innocence" and "their guilt".

Update. 20th April

Naturally, those inclined towards conspiracy theories have on the Guardian "Blether is Free" blogsite accused me of deliberately failing to notice that conpiracies do happen and that people who believe the lies that were fed to the media before the invasion of Iraq were all part of it. Which means, of course, it was not a conpiracy but, at most, part of a system of mass manipulation or indoctrination.

A typical objection was this one,

I'd say it's more apt that anybody who instantly dismisses any suggestion of conspiracy sounds rather fundamentalist. It indicates a willingness to blindly follow what they're told without applying any critical thought. It's certainly more apt than painting everybody who doesn't trust their government with the same brush, as you're doing here.

Plenty of conspiracy theories have turned out to be true. Of course there are people who will blindly believe a theory without any thought, but the same can be said of people who believe what the news and the government tell them, even in the face of the truth that's come out regarding the build-up to the war in Iraq, to state just one example.

I think most people are fairly level headed, and that doesn't just mean being wary of conspiracy theories. It also means being wary of what the government and the media are telling them. Having an open mind is healthy.

Response

I'd say it's more apt that anybody who instantly dismisses any suggestion of conspiracy sounds rather fundamentalist.
I'd say you look up the word "fundamentalist" then. Are you seriously suggesting that a somebody who rejects "any suggestion" of a conspiracy is a fundamentalist ? He is not. He is waiting for and evaluating the evidence.

This does not mean conspiracies do not happen. I was ( and if you had read my post properly before reacting ) you'd know I was rejecting all encompassing conspiracy theories. And say that they benefit governments that lie or mislead us into wars

Of course there are people who will blindly believe a theory without any thought, but the same can be said of people who believe what the news and the government tell them, even in the face of the truth that's come out regarding the build-up to the war in Iraq,
Blair was dishonest but there was no conspiracy. He, and a few others around him, concocted a pissue of half truth based on unreliable evidence because Blair "believed" that invading Iraq was the "right thing to do".
It can be said that Blair conspired to twist the evidence. But he did so in plain view of the British public who, if it is to be remembered were not, as you suggest, somehow mostly brainwashed into believing Blair's fictional "case" for war.

The reason so many people might have been prepared to trust Blair initially, was that, as with those who follow conspiracy theories, they wanted, as much as Blair, to willingly believe in his pseudo-reality. Blair's entire period in office depended on a pseudo-reality.
I think most people are fairly level headed, and that doesn't just mean being wary of conspiracy theories. It also means being wary of what the government and the media are telling them. Having an open mind is healthy.
No, being "wary of conspiracy theories" is precisely to remain open minded as much as being sceptical of the claims being made by government in an instant media age. It means not being credulous and facing reality. The "power of facing" as Orwell called it.


Friday, 12 April 2013

Why the Afghanistan War is about Great Power Geopolitics and the TAPI Pipeline.

The New Silk Route includes the TAPI Pipeline as well as the railroads. There is ample evidence, cited by Afghan energy ministers going back to 2003 ( as revealed in Lutz Kleveman's The New Great Game, that the West was in Afghanistan to secure the construction of the pipeline.
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Facts are facts. All beneficiaries of the TAPI pipeline have signed up to it: it is a stated intention to get it built and is regularly lauded by US diplomats and State Department officials.
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One document from 2011 makes this long term continuity in policy clear.
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The pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan was first proposed in the mid-1990s with the now defunct American energy company Unocal-led consortium and the Argentine company Bridas vying for signing a deal with the then Taliban regime in Kabul. However, security considerations combined with international condemnation of the Taliban regimes on women and human rights had led both the companies to pull out, leaving the project in a lurch. The idea was revived after the Taliban were unseated from Kabul. At the end of 2002, three countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan) signed a new agreement. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) conducted a feasibility study and rendered the project possible in 2005. Following an approval by the Indian cabinet, India became the fourth country to join the project in 2008.

 The same document goes on to state, contrary to the unfounded and ignorant claim that TAPI was a "dead duck" by 1998 or part of some leftist "conspiracy theory"

The United States (US), for example, is propounding the project as ‘magic glue’ that will bind the warring factions and their regional proxies into an interdependent cooperative framework.The US hopes that TAPI will in all likelihood wean India away from the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline from Iran’s South Pars gas complex in the Persian Gulf. In addition to further isolating Iran,the resultant interdependence and benefits of cooperation might act as a catalyst for peace between India and Pakistan.

Now no foreign policy decision, such as NATO's involvement in Afghanistan is ever only "all about" one thing: there are multiple policy objectives, something that's difficult to explain to those who think the pipeline is about profits as opposed to energy geopolitics.

The IP Pipeline became a reality this week: yet it faces the same problems that the TAPI Pipeline faces in being the target of enemy guerilla forces ( in the IP case it's Balochistani seperatists ). So it's no more a reality until it's built than TAPI is not a mere stated intention.

The point not grasped by those who see themselves as involved in 'infrastructure projects'  and , therefore, in the know, remain ignorant about howt they dovetail with foreign policy strategies about which mere engineers may well not be well educated about.

The four governments have until this year been in dialogue about the TAPI pipeline: Pakistan has not even reneged on it's desire to remain part of the project. It has simply rejected US intimidation about accepting the IP as a violation of the sanctions policy on Iran

Intelligent Pakistani analysts who know the history of the Great Game understand the new revived one. The US is still deeply engaged in Afghanistan due to the geostrategic benefits of the TAPI Pipeline and hemming in Iranian regional influence via gas exports.

As Salman Rafi Sheikh asserts,
Dominant military presence in Afghanistan is, therefore, regarded by the Americans as vitally important for actualising US’ interests. It provides the platform through which US can threaten its potential regional rivals as well as dominate gas and oil export routes emanating from Eurasian landmass. Also, Afghanistan lies along a proposed pipe line route from the Caspian Sea oil fields to the Indian Ocean; therefore, its importance in US’ 21st century grand strategy is critical. To be realistic, therefore, US’ invasion of Afghanistan has to be analysed from the perspective of US’ geo-strategic and geo-energy objectives, rather than from the US’ projected perspective of ‘elimination of global terrorists’.
The successful implementation of Silk Road Act required huge military presence in the region as well as controlled militarization of the Eurasian region as a means to securing control over oil and energy reserves and protecting pipeline routes and trade corridors.
Again, the hard evidence is there. It is possible to interpret the facts in a different manner. Yet ignorance is no basis upon which to have an intelligent discussion. Every bogus claim that raising the stegic significance of the TAPI Pipeline theory is a "conspiracy theory" is a product of a reaction to those who really do think TAPI is only about corporate profits.

Ken Livingstone's Opposition to Thatcher is Based on Double Standards

Ken Livingstone's spleen against Thatcher is hypocritical given that he is on record as greasing up to China, to get more capital into London, by making an odious comparison with the Poll Tax Riots of 1990 with the Tianamen Square protests against a one party state.

The Poll Tax Riot contributed to the downfall of his enemy .Chinese protesters were protesting for the democracy the British take for granted. Given Livingstone is without any ethical sense when making such comparisons two conclusions are necessary.

1) Livingstone, as a 68er, believes in a faux cultural left politics of a sort that appeals to "identity politicians". That leads him inviting repellent Islamist ideologues as Quradawi to London just to get votes, despite this clerics illiberal views and detestation of the secular left.

2) Livingstone poses as being against Thatcher because she was ultra-capitalist and did not care for workers. Yet he seems to think Chinese state capitalism is quite a good thing.. No less than Thatcher, far more so in fact, Livingstone espouses authoritarianism.

Linvingstone is 'objectively pro-capitalist' ( to use a phrase, ironically, of the communist USSR he once was in symapthy with ) He supports the City of London's grotesque expansion and revolting buildings as The Shard ( built with UAE capital ).

Livingstone would regard this as "realism" just as he did when giving qualified support to the USSR.

"Red Ken" then opines,
"Thatcher's great friend Augusto Pinochet used machine guns to control labour, whereas Thatcher used the less drastic means of anti-union laws. But their goal was the same, to reduce the share of working class income in the economy"
No, but Arthur Scargill, whom Livingstone supported, was quite content to oppose Solidarnosc in Poland, a workers movement whose striking members in Bytom in Upper Silesia were shot dead. No word on that.

By all means Thatcher destroyed London governance by getting rid of the GLC. Yet Livingstone's policy of being sympathetic to the IRA alienated him too from electors across Britain.

Thatcher may have supported Pinochet , yet Livingstone gave qualified suport the the USSR, a state that over a period of under half a century murdered 20 milion people. Perhaps, Livingstone should re-evaluate his own myths before commenting on the myth of Thatcherism. He then states,
Labour will win the next election due to the decline in Tory support, which is even lower under Cameron than Thatcher. But Labour must come to office with an economic policy able to rebuild the British economy – which means a clean break with the economic policies of Thatcher
The policies are then what? Go ahead and explain then. Nobody wants more political cany about what Labour "could, should or must do" in rhetorical terms. The sort espoused by witless nonentities as Neal Lawson of the "Compass". think tank  How about a real set of concrete proposals drafted in ethical language.

As opposed to bland platitudes and windy drivel. Which was not the case in London's past. From the Leveller's in Putney, to Christian Socialist George Lansbury and Poplarism. Does it really need an anti-neoliberal Tory in the tradition of Cobbett and Dr Johnson to point that out ?

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Realities Behind the North Korean Nuclear Programme.

 There seems to continue to be this myth that North Korea is testing nuclear missiles just because of "US Imperialism". The fact is UK and USA were never going to invade North Korea. Just because of messianic statements made back in 2003 by the Bush II administration about North Korea ( as with Iraq and Iran ) comprising an "Axis of Evil" does not mean it was ever really targeted as Iraq was.

The North Korean nuclear programme is about retaining scope for manoeuvre against both China and the USA, with China itself harbouring imperial ambitions with regards to an impoverished regime starving and in need of trade and aid.

A realistic assessment of North Korea's nuclear ambitions back in 2009 was offered by historian Mark Almond,

"North Korea's regime has spent decades controlling how its subjects see reality. Ordinary people routinely sing the praises of the bizarre Communist dynasty which has tyrannised and starved them since 1945. All that North Koreans know, or have been told, is that once again their ruler has successfully defied the hostile outside world. Whether it was a success or failure makes little difference to Kim Jong-il as long as he can keep his own people fooled.

The North Korean dictator's sabre-rattling is less about frightening the West as about intimidating his own people. In 1994, he inherited absolute power from his father, Kim il-sung and is grooming one of his sons to succeed him. North Korea's ruling family sees creating international tension as its best survival strategy. With its own nuclear bomb and now a ' successful' satellite launch, Kim's message to his people is clear: Nobody is coming to liberate you from my rule"
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So the notion the North Korea's programme and threats of a fourth bomb test are less about some reflexive "reaction" to the USA ( as advocated by supposed "peace activist Kate Hudson of CND ) but about retaining scope for manoeuvre with China against its potential encroachments and domestic control of the populace.

Update

Peter Hitchens has also written sensibly,

North Korea is pitiable, hopelessly poor, not very sober and almost derelict, trying to find its way out of a dead end.

That dead end, at present, leads only to Chinese domination, a fate which might well suit the rest of the world, but which North Koreans themselves greatly dread. As the Tibetans and the Uighurs know (in Tibet and Chinese Turkestan), Chinese domination means the end of national culture, probably the population of the national territory with Han Chinese until the Koreans become a minority in their own country. This is the form which modern Chinese imperialism takes, and I am always amazed that people who get hoity-toity about the wicked past of British imperialism are so uninterested in this development.

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Folly of Trident, CND and the StWC.

Using North Korea to scare British people into accepting the folly of renewing Trident is just the sort of ruse the pseudo-Tory PM Cameron uses as a PR man. Britain no longer has intelligent diplomats and statesmen. It has those who indulge in "Public Diplomacy" , an oily neologism for propaganda advocacy.

The problem is that neither New Labour nor the "Conservatives" have any foreign policy alternative nor vision beyond renewing Trident at a time of economic crisis. Popular opinion, such as that of CND, remains fruitless is regarded as laughable as it's chaired by former CPGB members as Kate Hudson.

The StWC is equally as absurd. The North Korean Juche regime craves nuclear weapons because it is run my megalomaniac generals who run a regime run by a generation of dictators living and dead .Even China is hostile to this rogue remnant of the high point of the Cold War in the 1950s and wants a diplomatic solution.

Yet instead of defining a principled stand, the StWC is more concerned with only blaming the USA for North Korea wanting to "defend itself". This is why those opposed to such wasteful expenditure on Trident will be sidelined. The vocal and insane ideologues just discredit credible arguments against Trident.

It's almost as though the StWC and CND are run by the sort of cliched paradies of left wing activists portrayed in the 1982 film Who Dares Wins, where anti-nuclearists are either naive idealists or sinister pro-Soviet ideologues and potential terrorists from whom we can only be saved by the SAS and our Special Relationship with the USA.

Such lunacy was expressed by Andrew Murray of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 2003. An apologist for the Soviet Union, a democidal regime unparalleled in history with a huge nuclear arsenal and itself devoted even as late as the 1970s to its version of global "regime change", he opined,
The drive to seize command of the world economy in the interests of its own monopoly groups now propels the US government to seek to seize command of every corner of the world itself. This does not need any amplification in relation to the Middle East at present. But we should also be alert to the very real dangers in the Fareast and around Peoples Korea. The clear desire of the USA to effect ‘regime change’ in its second ‘axis of evil’ target could well provoke an armed clash there, too. Our Party has already made its basic position of solidarity with Peoples Korea clear.
Political report - March 2003 Executive Committee meeting

Removing the Juche regime, which has followed a nuclear programme whilst reducing its people to famine and mass starvation, would be a great acheivement if the diplomatic means were to be found. Despite crude neoconservative rhetoric in 2003, there were no plans to invade North Korea.

North Korea needs containment and not "solidarity" from truly Orwellian cranks such as Andrew Murray. Trident is redundant and useless in challenging North Korea. Only subtle and patient diplomacy can gain freedom for North Korea. And less messianic "Public diplomacy".

Yet i remain pessimistic for the prospects of Britain reneging on it's idiotic obsession with being a Global Player whilst some of the opponents of that vision remain apologists for totalitarianism that hijack the anti-nuclear movement to advance their petty self important careers as "activists".

Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Note on "New Atheists, Sam Harris and "Islamophobia"

There is no doubt that crude anti-islamic propaganda has been , in the course of the last decade, more than merely a crusade against religion as such. As Glen Greenwald writes,
"... the New Atheists have flirted with and at times vigorously embraced irrational anti-Muslim animus.
Sam Harris in 2005: "I am one of the few people I know of who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror."
Sam Harris in 2012: "We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.
However, Greenwald is utterly wrongheaded and foolish to state,
"Perhaps the most repellent claim Harris made to me was that Islamophobia is fictitious and non-existent, "a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia". How anyone can observe post-9/11 political discourse in the west and believe this is truly mystifying. The meaning of "Islamophobia" is every bit as clear as "anti-semitism" or "racism" or "sexism" and all sorts of familiar, related concepts".
No it just is not.

"Islamophobia" conflates hatred of Islam with Islamism, and by extension Muslims. It has been use disingenuously by Islamists to insinuate that criticism of Islamism, of any of the various sorts that exist, with ant-Muslim hatred. The latter term could be used to describe Sam Harris's position.

A better term would be to use precise language depending on the context. As a catch-all term, "Islamophobia" has been used to conflate criticism of Islam as a religion or Islamism as a political set of idea with hatred of Muslims.The MCB and MAB specialise in using such Orwellian language.

The worst term used was "Islamofascism". The category error comes from linking all Islamist movements into one seamless continuum. The reason why those such asChristopher Hitchens used it was due to his leftist anti-authoritarianism and this idea of the USA and Britain as liberator nations in World War Two

This gave fake credence to the idea, peddled by Bush after 9/11, that the USA had suffered it "Pearl Harbour" and now "we" were embroiled in "World War Three". It seems both the self styled "liberal interventionist" left and the "anti-imperialist left" need to start getting a grip of their history.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Why George Galloway is a Demogogue.

There is a tendency due to his publicity stunts and hyperbole to regard George Galloway, Repect MP for Bradford as a "character" and some sort of "working class hero " or voicebox for the oppressed Muslims of Britain ( never , of course,  those Muslims in less fortunate lands murdering one another in scores for reasons entirely unrelated to any actions of "the West" )

Now, as opposed to taking Galloway not-so-seriously, and as a mere joke, his various "positions" need to be explained for the entire notion of what he term the "Bradford Spring" of 2012 is important in it's feeble attempt to yoke together the disaffected in "the Muslim World" with Britain. This makes it no less farcical, of course, but his erstwhile followers tend to take themselves seriouslywhen they listen to and amplify  Galloway's propaganda riffs uncritically.

Galloway's  Respect, the very name being designed to appeal to the right on streetwise nature of disaffected British ' yoofs', shows that the entire political platform he stands on is a sort of shitty rehash of certain themes of 1960s anti-Vietnam counter-cultural rebellion. This is shown by the contrived nature of Galloway's politcal-cum-autobiographical book "I'm Not the Only One", a line taken from John Lennon's dire and dreary dirge "Imagine".

Bizarrely, for someone lauding a pacifist peace song one moment, he tends to extol violence. As when he commented on Sky News that the Israeli IDF were getting a "bloody good hiding" from Hizbollah during the conflict of 2006. Whatever the conflict's causes there, such language of lip smacking  aggression is both vulgar and unbecoming of honourable people. But it appeals to the brutal instincts of certain working class Muslims in gritty de-industrialised nothern mill towns and students.

Galloway is not much more than a rapacious political entrepreneur who saw a gap in the market for ideals vacated by the bland nonentities in Parliament as politicians became reduced to PR middlemen acting between Britain's dysfunctional casino economy, the "markets" and the people. By posing as being an extra-parlimentary activists yet within Parliament he can pose as an outsider to the new "politician-as-celebrity" trend so common in Britain today.

Unfortunately for his mesmerised fans, they seemed to have been largely unaware that Galloway is simply fiddling them as well no less. Only he has  carved out a career as a left-wing show jock demagogue that's hardly relevant to either being an MP nor a serious democratic reformer. But that's not important. In boring Britain, student SWP activists and deracinated Muslims are itching for outrage, the latter usually due to the low level of their education ( as is obvious too with their BNP rivals ).

After all, as already mentioned, politics itself has been downgraded to part of Britain's pathetic "entertainment economy" where MPs are little better, very often, than celebrities. Galloway has nothing radical to offer other than as selling political "passion" and "conviction", rolled around with the Scots accent to give an image of Red Clydeside radicalism. That radicalism used to be transfered to anti-imperial nationalists as the IRA ( as with the slimy newt loving ex-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone ).

George Galloway is a colossal demagogue. His position is essentially a crude populist version of old hard left Bolshevist propaganda tropes about "imperialism" wrapped up in Islamist draping and boomed out to those whose background and stunted semi-educated worldview absorb it as it appeals to their emotional resentments. In that way he has much in common with a number of journalists who harbour a colossal vanity to be lauded by "yoof" such as journalists John Pilger.

With the decline of universities and the expansion of mediocre institutions under the disastrous government of Tony Blair, mediocre students, often members od Islamic radical associations, simply do not engage in public life or discussion but amongst one another where anti-Western hatred is standard and the propaganda culled from the relevant cult gurus and passed around uncritically. Such individuals, simply by the fact they oppose bad foreign policies does not axiomatically make them right.

On the contrary it leads to those organisations controlled only a coterie of cretinous would be jihadists from places like Bradford and Birmingham whose fantasies of hate and outrage tie in with those of immature student activists simarly lacking in knowledge and ego security.As well as a dire education system that swelled the numbers of dimwits into the "polyversities who would have been better off sweating out their energies in grubby fast food chicken outlets.

The evident absurdity of Galloway's grandstanding on international politics to gain domestic Muslim votes is shown in the failure to take any sort of coherent position on Syria. The double standards of Britain's shoddy realpolitik in the Middle East is evident. But pointing out obvious double standards is not enough.

Not least, as George Galloway's double standards are often as flagrantly as bad , if not worse, than those he criticises and he has no position of moral superiority upon which to harangue the nation. True, he doesn't make decisions in foreign policy that can cause the sort of catastrophe Blair unleashed in Iraq. Yet propaganda, if it becomes commonplaces, can become very important. And blanket anti-Westernism is what Galloway has been instrumental in spreading

The facts are :not only that he has shown a demonstrated sympathy to the Soviet Union, a lethal ideological empire that crushed out the lives of millions, but his approach to the Middle East is a sham. For Galloway has been favourable to President Assad and his regime. Yet it is Allawite and against the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. By contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood has been anti-imperialist elsewhere and looked on sympathetically by the Muslim Association of Britain and elements of the Muslim Council of Britain. And these have provided key allies in Respect.

Now, the Respect Party has essentially aligned in solidarity with Hizbollah's struggle against Israel. Unfortunately for the Party Line, it gets complicated as Hizbollah is an ally of Iran which is supported by Assad's Syria. After the Arab Spring, the Muslim brotherhood is now powerful in Egypt and for the rebels. So anti-Western hatred can fuel any number of jihadists from jetting off to Syria to fight as "warriors".

So it's clear that though the entire Galloway Line is pure tripe, it is central in becoming a popular part of an uncritical and blind hatred of 'the West'. For the Leader of the "Bradford Spring" , one who laps up "Allah Akhbar " from his deranged mob like followers, is an erstwhile great admirer of Colonel Nasser of Egypt, a secular Arab nationalist whose position on Islamists was to have their leaders executed in the 1960s. Including Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual forebear of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaida.

If British foreign policy is going to be criticised ( as it must for the follies, errors and bungling idiocy of it as regards Afghanistan, the "War on Terror" and Iraq ) it should come, at least, from organised groups of intelligent critics as opposed to a coterie of self-aggrandising cranks, pinheads, fanatic and zealots who want to profit from credulity and stupidity. The inability of public intellectuals and politicians to demolish with precise logic these inchaote positions of hatred is a form of ignorance.

The Conflict Between Secular and Islamist Forces in the Arab Revolutions.

Unfortunately, Seumas Milne, a crude anti-Western apologist for the Soviet Union, seems terminally incapable of understanding that there was always going to be a polarisation between secular Arab democrats and the Islamists of Ghannoushi, who anti-Western position was championed because it was based on the undoubted Western backing for secular despots

Milne writes in The Guardian,

."...politics has become increasingly polarised around a dysfunctional standoff over religion and secularism: between the centrist Islamist Ennahda party – which was the main target for violent repression under Ben Ali's dictatorship and won the 2011 elections – and opposition parties, both right and left, which accuse Ennahda of seeking to introduce a theocratic state by the back door"

The question that Milne needs to ask, rather that going on with his usual monomania about the Western Powers ability to "control" and "hi-jack" Arab Spring Revolutions, is whether there is any real basis in the introduction of repressive Islamist measures as certain secularists are suggesting in Tunisia. This is known as proper journalism.

For too long Milne has a one dimensional explanation for Middle Eastern politics, one where any anti-Western Islamist force is justified in using terror and intimidation, bullets or the ballot box to get rid of secular Arab national tyrants of the sort actually lauded by ex-Soviet apologists as Galloway ( who he absurdly aligns himself with in "anti-war" groups as the Stop the War Coalition )

The "inverted orientalism" of far left secular groups in Britain, that any violent Islamist organisation no matter its views, is justified in using violence to fight off "Western Imperialism", is utterly confused by the events of the Arab Spring as have been Western government prizing "investments" and "stability".

It seems Milne has been thrown off course by the response of secular Arab democrats to Islamists, as if they were somehow bound to be united by their hatred of the West. Yet events there have a dynamic of their own that do not conform to Milne's rehashed 1960s style "anti-colonial discourse". The Islamised version of Franz Fanon's 'The Wretched of the Earth'.

It is necessary to be wary of attempts by Western governments to try and co-opt either Islamists or secular Arab democrats who are willing to do the bidding only of the West and to forget the needs of the people who rose up against tyranny.

The important fact is to go beyond the fanatical rhetoric of deranged British extreme Islamists and secular nihilists ( Islamo-Leninists ) and to hope that the efforts of a pluralistic democracy in Arab lands can develop. Western Powers could help only by non-military means, through fair trade and aid.

Tunisia has a chance of this. Libya has descended into chaos, though not on the scale of Syria. The level of Western military intervention in backing jihadist militias was cynical, though certain restraints on Gaddafi via no-fly zones were about the most that could have been done. Minimal attempts to prevent massacre without getting involved were the most that should have been done.

As for the catastrophe in Syria, this is a result of a continuity in the Western Powers being cravenly dependent upon Saudi Arabia, this oil protectorate that is vying with Iran for hegemony in the Middle East with Iran ( whose regime is far less repressive and positively enlightened compared with Saudi Arabia ).

The necessity for the Western Powers is to reduce over dependence upon Saudi oil and start to advocate "regime change " there. The reason it will not is that the minority Sunni rulers are beset, as they are in the far more liberal monarchist Bahrain, by rising Shia discontent, protests crushed with the direct aid of British military equipment.

That allows the West, hostile to Iran, as it acts as a bulwark to control over Central Asian oil and gas, to ally with Saudi Arabia and make a mockery of the cant phrase "Democratic Geopolitics" and tacitly allow it to pour billions of oil dollars into Syria to back unsavoury Islamist jihadists and "rebels".

Should Syria descend into further chaos a widespread conflagration between sectarian forces could erupt in Arab lands between Shia and Sunni: Syria is becoming more like Iraq after 2003 on a daily basis, with sectarian attacks on Mosques and the gruesome beheadings of Allwawite shia soldiers by sunni militias.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/02/tunisia-egypt-need-arab-revolutions-to-spread
In conclusion what events across the Arab land prove is not only the outbreak of anger created by the foolish Western policy of backing dictatorships in the name of "stability" for almost half a century.Not to mention the the criminal idiocy of the Iraq invasion. Yet they also reflect that these tensions pre-date Western involvement.

Despite what unintelligent nihilist ideologues as Seumas Milne are craving to believe, the West did not "cause" these sectarian tensions. It has done much to exacerbate them but the conflict between Sunni and Shia goes back centuries as does Arab rivalry with Iran ( Persia ). Objectivity is vital in these tense times.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The War in Afghanistan Will Go on Beyond 2014

The Guardian reports today with regards the prospect of a Peace Deal in Afghanistan,

Western hopes of leaving Afghanistan within reach of a peace deal when Nato troops pull out in 2014 are dimming, with planned negotiations in Qatar at a stalemate and Pakistan cutting back on support for talks

There was never much change of Western troops withdrawing from Afghanistan as Western politicians from William Hague to Liam Fox in previous months have started changing the rhetoric of troop "withdrawal" to the phrase "drawdown"

One of the important unstated reasons for this reneging on the promise to withdraw troops lies in the energy geopolitics about which Western presence in Afghanistan has always been concerned with : that is providing the security environment for the TAPI pipeline.

This central war objective is crucially connected with offering an alternative the the rival IP pipeline that now seems set to go ahead. By preventing Pakistan accepting gas exports four times cheaper than via the TAPI pipeline, the US , Britain and France wish to hem in neighbouring Iran.

The initial justifications for the invasion of Afghanistan were posited on the pretext of "the war on terror" after 9/11. Arguments from "enlightened self interest" were advocated by "liberal interventionists" as part of a strategy of reconstructing and integrating Afghanistan into south east Asia.

The problem has been that the TAPI Pipeline geographically has to skirt around the mountainous Afghan regions to the east towards Kabul. The pipeline is scheduled to go through Helmland where most British troops losses have occurred.

There is much Orwellian doublethink in this strategy. While the Taliban were put forth as the "Islamofascist enemy", it has now been realised that no peace settlement in Afghanistan is possible without a deal with certain Taliban factions.

In fact, in 2011, US VP Joe Biden even opined the Taliban were no longer to be termed "terrorists".The regime in Kabul is not happy to bring in the Taliban as the struggle in such an impoverished "failed state" as Afghanistan will revolve around who gets a cut from the lucrative TAPI transit fees.

The strategy of at once trying to bring the Taliban to heel by Drone Bombing them into a position of submissions is utterly counterproductive ( not to mention inhumane and liable to lead many Pakistanis to rail against "Us Imperialism". Hence the rapprochement between it and Iran.

More broadly the Western idea of getting the TAPI pipeline constructed is part of a strategy to encircle and cripple the Iranian economy in a way that, irrespective of it's Islamist regime in Tehran, will only serve to alienate not just supporters of the regime but its opponents with Iran as well.

If the TAPI Pipeline is to be constructed ( and it looks as through there will be intractable problems in getting it built ), it will not necessarily even prevent the rival IP ( and possible its IPI extension into India and thence China ) being constructed.

The West needs to learn that it has to resort to pragmatic and cautious diplomacy that takes into account the reality of the competing Great Power interests over oil and gas routes in Central Asia. It increasingly lacks the financial resources to commit being drawn into the region indefinitely.