"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The history that suits you

Dear Madam,

The central feature Iraq war as spelled out by Kevin Myers (28/7/05) is that "The US-led coalition is only present in that country by the invitation and legal authorisation of the democratically elected government there." For the sake of historical accuracy and in order to frame the debate in its true context, it might have been helpful for Mr. Myers to add: The democratic government, elected under the coalition authorities rule and under the watch of an occupying force which is/was known to be hostile to many Iraqis and present in that country only by ignoring the rule of International Law.

Yours sincerely,

An Irishman's Diary
by Kevin Myers

"Extremist Muslims' belief that their way is right and everyone else is wrong and is immoral is the same as that of the twisted Christian fundamentalists who have bombed gay venues in Atlanta and London, who seek to ban gay parades in Belfast. . ." So wrote Morgan Carpenter to this newspaper the other day, writes Kevin Myers.

I'm not sure whether Morgan is a man or a woman, and it matters only in the pronoun that s/he uses. But is s/he serious? Does s/he really believe that an attempt to ban a gay parade in Belfast is the same as murdering 50 people in London, 200 in Madrid and 3,000 in New York? Because - speaking for myself, that is; Morgan might have different opinions on this - I think I'd rather be simply banned from walking down a street on a particular day than be blown to pieces all over it at any time.

Moreover, one cannot reasonably compare one isolated bombing at a gay bar in Atlanta in 1997 by a lunatic (who also bombed an abortion clinic in Alabama) or the isolated bombing of another gay bar in London in 1999, with two dead, by another lunatic, with the worldwide explosion of genocidal hate in recent years. Or can s/he? It's hard to say. Given the culture of moral equivalence which has swept through our bien-pensant classes, in which a perceived insult to one's sexuality registers pretty much the same on the offensiveness scale as a railway carriage full of dead bodies, who knows?

continued... The Irish Times


Correctness and Politics

A backlash against political correctness has formed. We are told P.C. stands in the way of defeating terrorism. It hinders our ability to brand all Muslims as extremists. It is also notable that this argument aids our acceptance of racism.

Intolerance Masking as 'Conscientious Secular Liberalism'

"Malicious generalizations about Islam have become the last acceptable form of denigration of foreign culture in the West; what is said about the Muslim mind, or character, or religion, or culture as a whole cannot now be said in mainstream discussion about Africans, Jews, other Orientals, or Asians."
(Professor Edward Said, Covering Islam, xii, 1997)

Since September 11th Islam has been a permanent fixture in the comment pages of almost all newspapers in the UK. In the main, columnists - following our Prime Minister Tony Blair's excellent example - have been careful to distinguish between the actions of a few terrorists (note, not Muslim terrorists or Islamic terrorists, but terrorists pure and simple) and the mainstream Muslim community.

In the UK, we have learned over the years how to distinguish between the actions of an extremist minority like the Real IRA and all Republicans. We would never regard all Republicans as being extremists or hold the Catholic faith to be in any way to blame for the actions of the extremists.

Unfortunately, over the last few weeks there has been a disturbing increase in the number of articles appearing in the press in which some writers have taken the unacceptable actions of a few members of the British Muslim community and used them to try and tar the whole community with the same broad brush. This is both irresponsible and in the current circumstances extremely inflammatory.



Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Caution and Control

Dear Madam,

According to Kevin Myers (26/07/05) the standard liberal way of discussing immigration in Britain is to misrepresent the arguments of those who counsel caution and control, and then triumphantly to denounce the disingenuous caricature of their own devising as bigoted or racist. Notwithstanding the obvious fact Mr. Myers has resorted to the same 'undergraduate name-calling' he derides in Ronaldo Munck's claim of reactionary nonsense, the 'standard liberal argument' becomes quite understandable in light of the remainder of this apparent counsel of caution and control. Mr. Myers controlled caution informs us as to the goals of Islamic extremists, "Would the train-bombers of London not have resorted to an Auschwitz if they could," to be facilitated by "ignoble and doctrinaire multiculturalism" championed by Mr. Munck and other seemingly ignorant students of 'Surrender Studies'. If one creates the argument that multiculturalism supports extremism, is it fair to be critical of someone who points out the obvious absurdity of your assertion? He concludes that we should learn from other people's experiences. Why change the habit of a life time, Mr. Myers hasn't.

yours etc...

An Irishman's Diary

The standard liberal way of discussing immigration in Britain is to misrepresent the arguments of those who counsel caution and control, and then triumphantly to denounce the disingenuous caricature of their own devising as bigoted or racist, writes Kevin Myers.

I am therefore intensely grateful to Ronaldo Munck of Dublin City University for providing me with a little jewel of intellectually grubby misrepresentation of a column I wrote a couple of months ago. He replied in this newspaper as follows:

"Kevin Myers writes that: 'The present good relations and general harmony are typical of the early days of immigration', but he sees this as only a 'honeymoon period'. Diversity policies lead to fundamentalism: 'Jews are attacked in the streets of Antwerp by Islamic militants expressing their own form of diversity". Ahead of us lies the spectre of Rotterdam that 'will shortly be the first European city with a racially and culturally non-indigenous majority'. Diversity for him leads to murder and national identity surrender.

"This is reactionary nonsense, but it also reflects the confusion in Ireland today over migration and multiculturalism."

Well, thank you Ronaldo for that intellectual guano, culminating in that classic piece of undergraduate name-calling, the r-word. God, I remember doing that in UCD: categorising an entire argument as "reactionary", and dismissing it as nonsense; and then exiting with a supercilious smirk on my odiously smug little face. To judge from your powers of logic and ratiocination, you are probably in first year Ronaldo; but with time and patience, there might be hope for you yet.

continued... The Irish Times


Monday, July 25, 2005

Useless History?

"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.

And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

Pastor Martin Niemoller

"In his remarkable diaries of his life as a Jew under Nazism — escaping the gas chambers by a near miracle — Victor Klemperer writes these words about a German professor friend whom he had much admired, but who had finally joined the pack: “If one day the situation were reversed and the fate of the vanquished lay in my hands, then I would let all the ordinary folk go and even some of the leaders, who might perhaps after all have had honourable intentions and not known what they were doing. But I would have all the intellectuals strung up, and the professors three feet higher than the rest; they would be left hanging from the lamp posts for as long as was compatible with hygiene.”

Klemperer’s reactions were merited, and generalised to a large part of recorded history.

Complex historical events always have many causes. One crucial factor in this case was skillful manipulation of fear. The “ordinary folk” were driven to fear of a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy to take over the world, placing the very survival of the people of Germany at risk. Extreme measures were therefore necessary, in “self-defence”. Revered intellectuals went far beyond.

As the Nazi storm clouds settled over the country in 1935, Martin Heidegger depicted Germany as the “most endangered” nation in the world, gripped in the “great pincers” of an onslaught against civilisation itself, led in its crudest form by Russia and America. Not only was Germany the prime victim of this awesome and barbaric force, but it was also the responsibility of Germany, “the most metaphysical of nations,” to lead the resistance to it. Germany stood “in the centre of the western world,” and must protect the great heritage of classical Greece from “annihilation,” relying on the “new spiritual energies unfolding historically from out of the centre”. The “spiritual energies” continued to unfold in ways that were evident enough when he delivered that message, to which he and other leading intellectuals continued to adhere."

Noam Chomsky


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

25,000 is just a baseline figure

Dear Madam,

It is encouraging to see that the Irish Times has made the civilian death toll in Iraq headline news, as it should be. The coalition's policy of sweeping these figures under the carpet has been accepted for too long. There is an important point to remember with this in mind. Jonathan Steele and Richard Norton-Taylor state that "the total number of deaths in the study is significantly lower than the estimated 98,000 figure in a disputed study in the medical journal the Lancet last autumn." Although the figures are quite different, the fact that each study measures different variables makes it impossible to debunk the Lancet findings by using the IBC figures. The important inaccuracy in this account is that while the Lancet study did create a stir, it is not the methodolgy that is disputed, but the figure for the death toll. With no statisical basis for criticism, the study has been disregarded by the coalition authority and inturn the liberal media. The fact that the coalition does not 'do body counts' should not impede the independent media from revealing the real human toll of war.

Yours sincerely,

25,000 Iraqis 'killed in war'

Almost 25,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the two years since the invasion, and four times as many died at the hands of US-led forces than suicide bombers and other insurgents, according to a detailed study of the human cost of the conflict, write Jonathan Steele and Richard Norton-Taylor in London.

The survey, which calculates the toll of dead and injured since March 2003, also shows that the rate of criminal violence has risen dramatically. It comes after a particularly bloody few days in Iraq. Gunmen yesterday shot dead two Sunni Arab members of a committee drafting Iraq's new constitution, and an aide.

1. http://www.ireland.com


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Kevin "theres money to be made...

writing this crap" Myers

Dear Madam,

Kevin Myers argues sarcastically in today's Times that non-alignment with the US/UK coalition is the absolute guarantee that one will not be a target for terrorism. Citing bombings in Bali and Indonesia as evidence that one needs no connection to the US/UK war in Iraq to be a target for Islamic extremism. However, both attacks were directed against coalition targets, striking the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. As the US embassy is considered US soil, the attacks intended object was quite obvious. And they attacked Australian and British tourists in Indonesia. The common trait Mr. Myers correctly makes is that the bombers are not shy in killing innocents, however their morality has never been questioned. Their intentions and reasons on the other hand are essential knowledge if there is to be a real effort to prevent future attacks.

In today's Guardian an ICM poll reveals that '33% of Britons think the prime minister bears "a lot" of responsibility for the London bombings and a further 31% think he bears "a little". Only 28% of voters agree with the UK government and Kevin Myers in believing that Iraq and the London bombings are not connected. The government line is in direct conflict with their own study into terrorism, the recently released study by government think tank Chatham House explains that the situation in Iraq had given "a boost" to the al-Qaida network's ability to recruit and raise money.

It is a shame that Kevin Myers chose to examine only one facet of the Taoiseach's address to any extremists targeting Ireland, neglecting to point out that the Taoiseach has made Ireland's alignment quite obvious, and unfortunate.

Yours etc

1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/


Monday, July 18, 2005

The truth gets buried deeper

Britain's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to the terrorist attacks in London, a respected independent thinktank on foreign affairs, the Chatham House organisation, says today.

According to the body, which includes leading academics and former civil servants among its members, the key problem in the UK for preventing terrorism is that the country is "riding as a pillion passenger with the United States in the war against terror".

The Guardian

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "The time for excuses for terrorism is over. The terrorists have struck across the world, in countries allied with the United States, backing the war in Iraq, and in countries which had nothing whatever to do with the war in Iraq.

"They struck in Kenya, in Tanzania, in Indonesia, in the Yemen, they struck this weekend in Turkey which was not supporting our action in Iraq."

MSN News

Mr. Straw conveniently forgets that they struck the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and that it was Kurdish extremists that attacked Australian and British tourists in Indonesia and Turkey respectively.

Cartoon: The Independent


Dismantling History

Running out of adjectives to describe the dominant news' disregard for the truth.

Dear Madam,

Today's (18/7/05) Times reports that the "US president George Bush approved a plan to channel covert aid to Iraqi parties and candidates in the run-up to the January elections." His attempt to fix the result of the so called democratic election "runs counter to the administration's insistence that the election would be free and unfettered." What was unmentioned in the article was that the very claim made by the US administration was also supported by The Irish Times. On the 1st February 2005 Conor O'Clery wrote "Poll success eclipses past blunders for US. Iraq's election has fuelled the feeling that the corner may have been turned." He continued to say "Sunday's election in Iraq exceeded expectations and brought some relief after nearly two years of blunders and setbacks. However, President Bush was careful in his reaction not to appear too jubilant, to avoid raising expectations that a turning point had been reached and US troops would be coming home soon." Obviously President Bush's jubilation was hindered by the fact his plan to channel democracy towards US interests was not fully successful. This unconditional acceptance of administration rhetoric should not be forgotten. In fact, one should be reminded of it every time the administration makes a statement. "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." (Milan Kundera)

Yours etc...

1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper
2. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Distorting History

Dear Madam,

In The Irish Times today (16/07/05) Martin Mansergh writes "It should not be forgotten, however, that 9/11 came largely out of the blue, at a time when Bush was disposed to pull in the US's horns rather than stretch its power." A cursory glance over the events leading up to 9/11 would reveal the canyon like gap in this account of US foreign policy prior to the attack on the World Trade centre.

Following George Bush's appointment in January 2001 there followed several meetings of US officials in order to agree on how best to facilitate the removal of Saddam from power. Soon after the inauguration then Treasury Sec. Paul O'Neill has revealed that "From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go, that going after Saddam was topic "A"." In February " U.S. and British aircraft attacked targets near Baghdad. U.S. Defense officials said 24 American and British planes struck six Iraqi military targets five to 20 miles from Baghdad using various long-range precision-guided weapons. The attack was the first Western strike against the capital since December 1998, during Operation Desert Fox."

In April a report commissioned by former US Secretary of State James Baker and the Council on Foreign Relations titled; "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century" was submitted to Vice President Cheney. "It warns that the US is running out of oil, with a painful end to cheap fuel already in sight. It argues that "the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma," and that one of the "consequences" of this is a "need for military intervention" to secure its oil supply. It argues that Iraq needs to be overthrown so the US can control its oil." Later that month during a National Security Council deputy principals meeting, "Paul Wolfowitz first floats the idea of tying Iraq to terrorism. He asserts that Iraq must be involved in terrorism, since Bin Laden couldn't possibly have attacked the World Trade Center in '93 alone. "One little terrorist group like that couldn't possibly have staged that operation. It must have been Iraq.""

The recently released downing street memos make clear that "If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work." The political context was to be garnered by allowing the "Intelligence and facts...being fixed around the policy." The events of 9/11 facilitated the US/UK administration goal of overthrowing Saddam.

To say that "Bush was disposed to pull in the US's horns rather than stretch its power" is not just a distortion of history it is a grievous lack of respect for the truth. It is dis-information at its most destructive.

Yours etc...


Thursday, July 14, 2005

The old Lie

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

8 October 1917 - March, 1918
Wilfred Owen

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Nightmare Diplomacy

Sunday Times reports Leaked Study on Extremism:

Gil Scott Heron - B Movie:
Ain't really your life, ain't really your life...

Dear Madam,

Last Sunday, the Sunday Times reported the leak of a British Government Study, 'Young Muslims and Extremism'. The study, a joint Home Office and Foreign Office dossier, details the link between British foreign policy and the growth of 'extremism' .

The study found that "[i]t seems that a particularly strong cause of disillusionment among Muslims, including young Muslims, is a perceived 'double standard' in the foreign policy of western governments, in particular Britain and the US.' ' Where "[t]he perception is that passive 'oppression', as demonstrated in British foreign policy, eg non-action on Kashmir and Chechnya, has given way to 'active oppression'. The war on terror, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, are all seen by a section of British Muslims as having been acts against Islam."

It has been suggested within the letters page of The Irish Times that explaining the reason for a terrorist attack "suggests that the terrorists were somehow justified in their attacks." (1) This is a logical fallacy, it is quite ordinary for prosecutors to frame a motive in murder trials, this however is never intended to justify such a crime, it merely serves to understand it. By simply branding these atrocities 'Islamofacism', intended to bring about "the end of history"(2) we come no closer to preventing another attack, infact we further distance ourselves from the solution.

This Home Office report is important from two respects, firstly it identifies a possible cause of Islamic extremism directed at Britain and secondly it questions the effect of British Foreign policy in the Middle East. This poses a basic problem for the British Government, to identify the cause of Islamic extremism as British Foreign Policy would be to admit that the invasion of Iraq played a part in the death of over 50 people. An admission of such would undermine several years of promises of security as a result of an invasion that was opposed by many.

Therefore, in an interview Saturday, Blair denied that the London terrorist attacks were a direct result of British involvement in the Iraq war. Citing the fact that "September 11 happened before Iraq, before Afghanistan, before any of these issues and that was the worst terrorist atrocity of all." (3)

The war on 'Terror' is destined to fail unless it can address the motives of the terrorists. As Ricard Whelan explains in today's Times "It is not a terrorist group that the world is dealing with in the London and other bombings and 9/11; it is an ideology or belief system." (4) We can either join John Waters' witch hunt. "Al-Qaeda is the globalisation of hate, the first such movement in the history of the planet." (5) And find ourselves allied with Mark Steyn in his fruitless search for retribution. "Within 24 hours after September 11th, it was clear somewhere some sovereign state was going to get invaded. America could simply not afford not to respond." (6) Or we can end the cycle of destruction.

Yours sincerely,

1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/
3. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/
4. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/
5. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion
6. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/world/
7. http://members.boardhost.com/DT3rd/msg/4202.html


Monday, July 11, 2005

The Bubble has been popped

In The Irish Times today John Waters describes how the world has become a smaller place and within this ever shrinking space our position is clear. If we are to assure our safety from extremism, we must surrender our freedom to the guardians of liberty. John Water's new age has arrived, it has been here for some time and is not set to leave any day soon.

"This is London. Let us awake to the new reality. Either we embrace our true protectors or say hello to the Taliban." It is this sort of docile slumber that has made us a target for the ideology Bin Laden has championed. Mr. Waters would lead us to believe that it is by continuing our course of imperial consumption that we are to defeat an enemy with no bodily form. Those who question the prescriptive rhetoric of those in power would be forgiven for pondering, how can you attack an idea by fuelling it?

While we sit back and allow our elected leaders to continue their questionable campaigns in far off lands for the purpose of freedom, democracy, stability, control and oil wealth, we are merely donating our lives to this battle of ideologies.

True enough, there were attacks attributed to Al'Qaeda before 9/11 and they had little to do with the war in Iraq as it is now. However that is not to affirm the proposed 'war against our way of life'. Unless that is if you consider our 'way of life' to include support for murderous regimes in Saudi Arabia, Burma, Iraq and many other far flung regions that once seemed other worldly. It has been reiterated over and over by the ideological head of this faceless terrorist group that their hatred will be embodied in death as long as western powers continue to exert suppression in Arab nations. Conceding to relinquish our grip on the Middle East would be a succession to the wants of an evil organisation, but at the same time it would also mean giving independence to peoples that have been stifled by western intervention for decades. To make independent, countries, where already minute support for extremists would dwindle so rapidly that our governments would once again have to turn to home grown fundamentalists in order to moderate our rights so as to better manage us for optimised profits. In order to take back our country, we must give back theirs.

In the aftermath of 9/11 President Bush used the fear and confusion of the American people to bring full scale war to Iraq. Linking the terrorism responsible for 9/11 not so subtly with the Baathist regime he made puppets of us. A poll conducted during the Iraq invasion, a year on from that hypnotism, evidenced that many Americans still believed Saddam was partly culpable for the tragic events of 9/11, forcing President Bush to make publicly clear that "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept 11". This sort of conceived deception will no doubt be used again if we are to continue to perform so well in our role as the docile masses. Whether Blair's sorrow is real or not, it is quite obvious that the man is not averse to using our grief to bring his plans to fruition.

While London returns to normality, albeit a normality that it seems could be disturbed again. It is to our own detriment not to realise that there is more than one way to combat terrorism of this kind, we have tried violent misdirected retribution, and to no ones surprise, it didn't work. Now it is time to address the issue of why there is support for this mad man.

As Tony Blair rubbishes the idea of an inquiry into the death of at least 49 people, referring to it as a "ludicrous diversion," he "is expected to focus on the direction the government must take to ensure future terrorism is defeated." Reminding me of a famous, but much ignored, quote by English historian and scholar Edward Gibbon, "I know no way of judging of the future but by the past."

1. http://news.ft.com/cms/s/
2. http://www.foxnews.com/story/
3. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/


Friday, July 08, 2005

The beauty of capitalism

During Fox News' coverage of the July 7 London bombings, Washington managing editor Brit Hume told host Shepard Smith that his "first thought," when he "heard there had been this attack" and saw the low futures market, was "Hmmm, time to buy."

SMITH: Some of the things you might expect to happen, for instance, a drop in the stock market and some degree of uncertainty across this country -- none of that really seen today, and I wonder if the timing of it -- that it happened in the middle of the night and we were able to get a sense of the grander scheme of things -- wasn't helpful in all this.

HUME: Well, maybe. The other thing is, of course, people have -- you know, the market was down. It was down yesterday, and you know, you may have had some bargain-hunting going on. I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy." Others may have thought that as well. But you never know about the markets. But obviously, if the markets had behaved badly, that would obviously add to people's sense of alarm about it. But there has been a lot of reassurance coming, particularly in the way that -- partly in the way the Brits handled all this, but also in the way that officials here handled it. There seems to be no great fear that something like that is going to happen here, although there's no indication that we here had any advance warning.



War is not justice

Tony Blair:

“Today’s bombings will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply-held principles of our societies and to defeat those who would impose their fanaticism and extremism on all of us.

We shall prevail and they shall not.”

John Major:

...insisted the multi-party Northern Ireland peace talks begun last week would continue, but called on Sinn Fein - the political wing of the IRA - to condemn the attack and demand a ceasefire.

"This act by a handful of fanatics will be regarded with contempt and disgust around the world," he said.

This shows just how these murderers are being used for an entirely different purpose (than condemnation and justice).


Shocked, but not surprised

This new and bloody attack is yet another example of the ordinary people caught in the cross fire of a war of ideologies. While Bin Laden and those that identify with him fight their murderous campaign, Blair fights his own, without the support of his people. However it will always be those with little or no influence that will bear the brunt of the punishment for the whims of those with power.

The reality of this barbaric bombing
If we are fighting insurgency in Iraq, what makes us think insurgency won't come to us?
By Robert Fisk
8 July 2005

"If you bomb our cities," Osama bin Laden said in one of his recent video tapes, "we will bomb yours." There you go, as they say. It was crystal clear Britain would be a target ever since Tony Blair decided to join George Bush's "war on terror" and his invasion of Iraq. We had, as they say, been warned. The G8 summit was obviously chosen, well in advance, as Attack Day.

And it's no use Mr Blair telling us yesterday that "they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear". "They" are not trying to destroy "what we hold dear". They are trying to get public opinion to force Blair to withdraw from Iraq, from his alliance with the United States, and from his adherence to Bush's policies in the Middle East. The Spanish paid the price for their support for Bush - and Spain's subsequent retreat from Iraq proved that the Madrid bombings achieved their objectives - while the Australians were made to suffer in Bali.

It is easy for Tony Blair to call yesterdays bombings "barbaric" - of course they were - but what were the civilian deaths of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the children torn apart by cluster bombs, the countless innocent Iraqis gunned down at American military checkpoints? When they die, it is "collateral damage"; when "we" die, it is "barbaric terrorism".

continued... Media Lens Messageboard

The price of occupation

Tariq Ali
Friday July 8, 2005
The Guardian

During the last phase of the Troubles, the IRA targeted mainland Britain: it came close to blowing up Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet in Brighton. Some years later a missile was fired at No 10. London's financial quarter was also targeted. There was no secret as to the identity of the organisation that carried out the hits or its demands. And all this happened despite the various Prevention of Terrorism Acts passed by the Commons.

The bombers who targeted London yesterday are anonymous. It is assumed that those who carried out these attacks are linked to al-Qaida. We simply do not know. Al-Qaida is not the only terrorist group in existence. It has rivals within the Muslim diaspora. But it is safe to assume that the cause of these bombs is the unstinting support given by New Labour and its prime minister to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the arguments deployed by Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, when he appealed to Tony Blair not to support the war in Iraq was prescient: "An assault on Iraq will inflame world opinion and jeopardise security and peace everywhere. London, as one of the major world cities, has a great deal to lose from war and a lot to gain from peace, international cooperation and global stability."

Most Londoners (as the rest of the country) were opposed to the Iraq war. Tragically, they have suffered the blow and paid the price for the re-election of Blair and a continuation of the war.

Ever since 9/11, I have been arguing that the "war against terror" is immoral and counterproductive. It sanctions the use of state terror - bombing raids, torture, countless civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq - against Islamo-anarchists whose numbers are small, but whose reach is deadly. The solution then, as now, is political, not military. The British ruling elite understood this perfectly well in the case of Ireland. Security measures, anti-terror laws rushed through parliament, identity cards, a curtailment of civil liberties, will not solve the problem. If anything, they will push young Muslims in the direction of mindless violence.

The real solution lies in immediately ending the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Just because these three wars are reported sporadically and mean little to the everyday lives of most Europeans does not mean the anger and bitterness they arouse in the Muslim world and its diaspora is insignificant. As long as western politicians wage their wars and their colleagues in the Muslim world watch in silence, young people will be attracted to the groups who carry out random acts of revenge.

At the beginning of the G8, Blair suggested that "poverty was the cause of terrorism". It is not so. The principal cause of this violence is the violence being inflicted on the people of the Muslim world. And unless this is recognised, the horrors will continue.

The Guardian


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

War Is Peace

Although 1984 was a Cold War document that dramatized the threat of the Soviet enemy, and has always been used mainly to serve Cold War political ends, it also contained the germs of a powerful critique of U.S. and Western practice. Orwell himself suggested such applications in his essay on "Politics and the English Language" and even more explicitly in a neglected Preface to Animal Farm. [1] But doublespeak and thought control are far more important in the West than Orwell indicated, often in subtle forms but sometimes as crudely as in 1984, and virtually every 1984 illustration of Ingsoc, Newspeak and Doublethink have numerous counterparts in what we may call Amcap, Amerigood, and Marketspeak. The Doublethink formulas "War Is Peace" and a "Ministry of Peace" were highlights of Newspeak. But even before Orwell published 1984, the U.S. "Department of War" had been renamed the "Department of Defense," reflecting the Amcap-Amerigood view that our military actions and war preparations are always defensive, reasonable responses to somebody else's provocations, and ultimately in the interest of peace....


“A good case can be made that propaganda is a more important means of social control in open societies like the United States than in closed societies like the late Soviet Union... This system of thought control is not centrally managed... It operates mainly by individual and market choices, with the frequent collective service to the national interest arising from common interests and internalised beliefs.” (Edward Herman)

World Tribunal? What World Tribunal?

Media Lens has detected a recent shift in media reporting. It is hard to quantify, but there is a palpable uneasiness amongst media professionals at the increasing rise of the ‘blogosphere’ and internet-based ‘alternative’ media sites. Joe and Jo Public are increasingly aware that the news and commentary distributed by the BBC, ITN, Channel 4 news and the liberal broadsheets, are protecting major war criminals in London and Washington.

A blanket of almost total media silence covers Bush and Blair’s crimes in Iraq, and their support for relentless corporate exploitation around the globe. These war criminals continue to be presented as world-straddling father figures who could “solve” poverty in Africa and so become the beloved figureheads of a “great generation”.

Consider that virtually the entire British media ignored the deliberations of the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul from June 24-27. Modelled on Bertrand Russell’s tribunal on the US invasion of Vietnam, the tribunal consisted of hearings into numerous aspects of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. A jury of conscience from ten different countries listened to the testimony of 54 advocates. This jury declared the war one of the most unjust in history:

“The Bush and Blair administrations blatantly ignored the massive opposition to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They embarked upon one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history. The Anglo-American occupation of Iraq of the last 27 months has led to the destruction and devastation of the Iraqi state and society. Law and order have broken down completely, resulting in a pervasive lack of human security; the physical infrastructure is in shambles; the health care delivery system is a mess; the education system has ceased to function; there is massive environmental and ecological devastation; and, the cultural and archeological heritage of the Iraqi people has been desecrated.” (World Tribunal on Iraq, ‘Press Release about Jury Statement,' June 27, 2005)




Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Make the G8 History

Bono and Geldof have only served to legitimise Blair and Brown in their quest to free up the African market, not to the mythical 'free trade', but to foreign investment, the influx of private tyrannies and the destruction of the independent farmer.

Lennon and McCartney have now got the mandate to 'wipe' debt under any pretense, therefore African countries will be forced to adhere to strict and unfair economic conditions to recieve debt relief.

As we continue to sell arms fueling wars in Africa, as we continue to support the exploitation of Africas resources through western corporations, as we continue to let children in Iraq waste away, as we continue to pat politicians on the head instead of giving them the preverbal 'kick up the ass', we keep the poor poor. In Live 8 we have convinced ourselves that we are doing something. Which is very honourable indeed.

The actual comedy of doublespeak in the event should be enough for anyone to see the lie. Celebrities given picnic space at the front of the stage (with the hords behind), thousand pound gift bags for the special ones, African groups relagated to the 'other' stage, record sales rising, Gordon Brown playing to a sell out crowd.

We should be telling them, not asking them, "This is our country and we no longer want the blood of Africans on our hands."

Africa's new best friends

The US and Britain are putting the multinational corporations that created poverty in charge of its relief

George Monbiot
Tuesday July 5, 2005
The Guardian

I began to realise how much trouble we were in when Hilary Benn, the secretary of state for international development, announced that he would be joining the Make Poverty History march on Saturday. What would he be chanting, I wondered? "Down with me and all I stand for"?

Benn is the man in charge of using British aid to persuade African countries to privatise public services; wasn't the march supposed to be a protest against policies like his? But its aims were either expressed or interpreted so loosely that anyone could join. This was its strength and its weakness. The Daily Mail ran pictures of Gordon Brown and Bob Geldof on its front page, with the headline "Let's Roll", showing that nothing either Live 8 or Make Poverty History has done so far represents a threat to power.

The G8 leaders and the business interests their summit promotes can absorb our demands for aid, debt, even slightly fairer terms of trade, and lose nothing. They can wear our colours, speak our language, claim to support our aims, and discover in our agitation not new constraints but new opportunities for manufacturing consent. Justice, this consensus says, can be achieved without confronting power.

continued... George Monbiot

Increased record sales for Live 8 performers, compared with sales last Sunday, were good news for "iconic acts" including Pink Floyd, according to HMV's Gennaro Castald

continued... BBC


Monday, July 04, 2005

It's not the corruption...

and the doublespeak of Live 8.

So corruption is the cause of Africa's problems - that seems to be the latest addition to the pool of knowledge currently nourishing the pop fuelled debate on the blighted continent.

An economically nonsensical assertion of course, since private capital, the real engine of growth in a capitalist economy is not deterred from investing in any part of the world if the potential for significant profit extraction exists regardless of the recipient nations penchant for graft. And lets face it, corruption - the theft of public money is a far less grievous crime than stealing - the theft of private money. Once foreign capitalists can be insured by a police state against the latter, they always find a way of living with the former, just another entry in the cost column of the balance sheet.

The theft of money from the third world state, primitive private accumulation, could even help boost an economy, if it is ploughed back into building factories, plants and property, creating jobs and generating wealth. But capitalists only invest in an economy that’s growing not one that’s stagnating.

In the 60's and 70's, most African economies were growing at rapid rates even though the elite was just as corrupt as it is now. But the economy had not yet been wrecked by the Reagan/Thatcher neo liberal revolution, there was still some scope for indigenous growth and development, before it’s rudimentary protection from the direct ravages of imperialism was contemptuously swept aside by the west.

Corruption has worsened in the continent now because the comprador African Bourgeoisie has been denied even the marginal role it once played in the local economy, as light factory owners, middle men and minority share holders in foreign multinationals, a collapse accentuated by the ruin of the middle classes who formed a large part of the local market that sustained its wealth. When a possessing class is prevented from accumulating wealth “legitimately”, it doesn’t go away, it merely awakens the latent criminality that lurks beneath the refined surface of every patriach of welath, for the best of capitalists are driven by the same force as the worst of bandits - greed.

Whether a ruling class obtains its riches by plundering the state or drug running, piracy and people trafficking as the British capitalists once did, depends on their circumstances not their convictions

If corruption is the root cause of African poverty, then how do we explain the comparatively huge growth figures lot African countries enjoyed in the 60's and 70's when corruption flourished just as much as now.

In Nigeria, after 100 years of colonialism, the "honest" English left just one university, where the department of classical Latin was lavished more attention than the department of Civil Engineering! Within 20 years, the corrupt Nigerian ruling class had built over 25 universities and by 1985 the country had almost 500,0000 students in one form of higher education or another.

As for the claim that the monies stolen from Africa could be better spent on health and education, this is a red herring.

African countries can't spend more on social services because the IMF and the World Bank set strict limits on such public expenditure.

I know this, not from reading radical articles but from personal experience. In the early 90's I was a student activist in Nigeria, where year after year we revolted against the military junta's attempts to enforce the world banks demands to close down whole faculties, phase out most public universities, commercialise the remnants and throw thousands of lecturers from the humanities, Science, Engineering and medicine onto the trash heap."

Continued... Kola Odetola (Media Lens Message Board)

The only thing clear about the purposes of Live8 is Geldof's need to flatter leaders

There is the saviour's certainty, which reveals awareness without understanding

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Published: 04 July 2005

What kind of person would scorn and mock a day like Saturday, when millions sacrificed shopping and sex and gathered on a balmy summer's day to belt out their support for the poorest in Africa? In Hyde Park they had to do without booze, too - a tough test for most Brits.

A handful of good men made this event happen. Some among the new generation of attending citizens were (perhaps) radicalised into questioning this grotesquely misshapen world, where countless (in truth uncounted) children die of starvation and preventable diseases while foolish fashionistas throw away seasonal handbags that cost £1,000.

More importantly the media jumped on board and did Africa. Thousands of images of small, shiny, black-skinned children with accusing eyes flooded our land and overpowered the conscience of each of us. But what was it for? I still don't get it.

I am trying to understand as the litter and scraps of the day float around and those who were there convey what it was like and what it all meant. I confess I cried when Miss Dynamite sang Redemption Song, a beautiful rendition of a never-ending search for black salvation. But the rest of the day was giddily confused and confusing.

continued... The Independent