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

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pick and choose your mandates

Dear Ms Kennedy and Mr Myers,

The metamorphosis of an illegally invading coalition into a 'peace keeping' multinational force is one that exists only in the minds of those such as Kevin Myers, who supports whole heartedly the decisions of the UN that he agrees with.

Can we really accept the Taoiseach's own words, that respect for the UN Security Council is the cornerstone of our foreign policies, if Irish involvement in the invasion and occupation predates the UN mandate and in fact signalled Ireland's support for an illegal invasion. The same mandate that includes enough restrictions to allow permanent 'occupation' by a multinational force.
Today we read in The Irish Times that "Iraq's ruling parties yesterday demanded US forces cede control of security," on the other side of the table the coalition of multinational allied forces (or whatever they are calling themselves today) states that there is a good possibility that there will be some troop withdrawal in the next year depending on unspecified security issues.

Undergraduate and irresponsible pose-striking indeed.

Yours sincerely,

An Irishman's Diary
Kevin Myers

"The US military occupation of Iraq legally ceased on June 28th, 2004, and was followed by a UN-authorised military presence in the country.

Last November, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the nearly 180,000-strong multinational force in Iraq for another year."

Full Article... The Irish Times


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Media Conscience & What is Indymedia?

Opinion piece on Indymedia, media monitoring:

Media Conscience
because the corporate media doesn't have one

And, the political Editor from the Irish Examiner asks Indymedia what it is:

"I am the political editor of the Irish Examiner and I am doing a profile of indymedia for tomorrow's (Thurs) paper. I would be very obliged if you could contact me at either the above email address or at 087.2631920.
It's been actuated by your (excellent) contemperaneous coverage of the Dublin riots and also by adverse comments made by Michael McDowell on Prime Time last night.
I wish to find out about the thinking behind the website; its anti-establishmentarian status; policies in relation to accommodating different viewpoints (is there a filter that prevents views you cannot agree with or is it completely open?). Are their underlying philosophies/policies/viewpoin
ts that govern the content on the site and define the community you wish to use it?
What do you do to prevent comments that may be defamatory or that may incite?
I'm questioned out. That's the gist of what I want to ask.
If you want to reply by email, feel free. But try to keep the answers as concise as you can and also pls supply number for verification.

Harry Mcgee harrymcgee@eircom.net"

I attempted to explain what I thought Indymedia was:

Dear Harry,

I would like just to make clear before I begin that I cannot speak for the Indymedia collective, I can only give my opinion as a reader and a sporadic contributor.

It is difficult to know where to start, but I think it might be easier to understand Indymedia by understanding what it is not.

Indymedia is not a corporate media, it is not bound by essential revenue from advertising, nor the need to impress shareholders bank accounts. It is predominantly funded by the time and energy afforded to it by concerned citizens who strive, glibness aside, for truth in a swamp of media distortion.

The fact that Indymedia is not constrained by the factors I have mentioned means that stories and events that are ignored or mis-reported by the mainstream commercial news are not suppressed in the same way.

Therefore in relation to the present war in Iraq. The dominant media will more often than not, if at all, report that there have been over or around 35,000 Iraqis killed during the conflict. This figure is taken from independent media monitors Iraq Body Count. What would not be mentioned is that their work covers only the deaths reported by English language newspapers and therefore cannot reflect the true figure of Iraqi deaths. The peer reviewed scientific journal the Lancet reported 100,000 dead Iraqis in the first 18 months of invasion, this has been generally ignored by most mainstream news medias.

In 2005 reports of the use of banned weapons in the town of Fallujah emerged from well respected independent journalists. This information was suppressed in the mainstream, that is, until the US government admitted that it had in fact used these weapons.

Indymedia does not advertise cars, cheap flights, alcohol or anything else. Therefore it is free to recognise the consequences of unsustainable consumerism, whereas the corporate media is required to promote these characteristics in order to exist. They are essential components of the corporate media structure.

Indymedia recognises the work of the volunteer. Where mainstream reports generally assign precedence to government/state/corporate representatives as opposed to those that are known to be expert in the field or in the case of a protest, those that have given up their free time to make a political point. For example, in an article about a protest, more content is given to police paid to be there and to the government reaction, compared to the protesters. There are many many more examples.

Indymedia is open to anybody to contribute, but the site is read by thousands and therefore peer reviewed. If an article is published one can expect unsubstantiated assertions to be criticised. This is not the case with the corporate media. Where even the readers criticisms are heavily censored in the 'letters' page. The corporate media has no responsibility to the truth. Indymedia, though lowly funded, is dedicated to try and provide it. Is Indymedia 'anti-establishment'? That is for you to decide.

Again, I would like to say, this is my view. Others may see the collective differently.

Thank you for taking an interest.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

John of the dump

John Waters is not alone, I too spent my weekend sifting through the compost heap. Unearthing countless crumpled papers I happened upon a few gems.

In the wake of the Madrid bombings Mr. Waters wrote, "resolve is what is needed to safeguard our people from the evil without." The resolve was maintained. The evil without then struck in London.

Just prior to the invasion of Iraq Mr. Waters wrote, "The anti-war movement has draped itself in a moralistic piety predicated on the fate of Iraqi children" and "It is not just that he [Saddam] is known to possess a massive arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, but that he has shown a willingness to use these without mercy." Since then as many as 300,000 Iraqis have died, according to Lancet author Les Roberts.

Soon after the murders of 9/11 Mr. Waters wrote, "The United States is morally entitled to respond to these attacks." Then the US military invaded Afghanistan. Years later the response to this attack has produced no justice.

In 2003 John Waters wrote, "Those who deny a connection between Iraq and September 11th must dispose of both the explicit nature of this threat and the precision of its prophecy." No links between these two events were ever substantiated. Three years later Iraqis and coalition soldiers die on a daily basis, a proportion of these can be attributed to terrorists who entered Iraq as a result of the invasion said to cure the disease.

The logical conclusion is that compost is rarely a source of accurate information and neither is John Waters and increasingly the Irish Times.



Monday, March 20, 2006

Give or take 260,000

Today's Six One news reports that the death toll in Iraq as a result of invasion is estimated at between 34 and 38 thousand. Presumably these figures were obtained from the organisation IraqBodyCount. However they are arrived at by recording only the deaths reported by English language news sources. Therefore it can in no way be considered to reflect a conclusive account of Iraqi deaths caused or resulting from the continuing war.

In future, if you are reporting the Iraqi death toll please refer to the survey published in British medical journal The Lancet. The report estimates approximately 100,000 excess deaths in the first 18 months of the invasion alone, it also excludes data from Fallujah where deaths were unusually high. Les Roberts lead author estimates that the toll could now be as high as 300,000.

It was also noticeable in the report that coalition casualties were given precedence over Iraqi casualties even though the non-military Iraqi deaths dwarf that of the coalition. Would neutral reporting not require that the greater non-military casualties be given precedence? Ireland is (still claiming to be) neutral.

Watch it here:


Read More here:



Minister for Propaganda

I rarely ever listen to 'The Last Word', but I had the misfortune to hear anti-war (??) Senator Brendan Daly verbally attack the anti-war movement today. He explained that the Shannon protest was nothing but a propaganda campaign (??) by protesters reminiscent of Saddam's era (??). He then went on to explain that Iran is attempting to acquire a nuclear arsenal.

The Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance spokesperson failed to counter any of his arguments, although it can be argued that the points raised are hardly worth countering. But it is the obvious absurdity of Mr. Daly's argument that is so enraging. Protesters are engaged in propaganda when they talk about torture and death, whereas government representatives who spread the word that Iran is attempting to attain a 'nuclear arsenal' are simply doing the public a service. Not to mention the fact protesters have little if any access to the most efficient propaganda machine, the mainstream media. Whereas Mr. Ahern, Mr. Daly and co. are most welcome.

Iran, in fact, is afforded an 'inalienable right' to 'develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination' under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Mr. Daly is surely the propagandist.

The fact the Irish public were neither consulted or informed about their involvement in what Kofi Annan called an illegal war that has costed potentially 300,000 Iraqi lives, according to Les Roberts of the Lancet, is the crime against democracy. The inconvenience to Shannon security guards is of no significance.

Brendan Daly is of the Saddam era, not the unpaid, unappreciated, unheard, ignored, suppressed protester.

Audio of The Last Word available here:


Peace Alliance:



Saturday, March 18, 2006

Marching is undemocratic

Dr Ali Al Saleh asks Irish people not to protest against the illegal war in Iraq in Saturday's Irish Times. He calls for the Irish public to stand idly by as their government supports the coalition's pre-emptive strike against a not existent threat. He asks Irish people to forget about the deception and the crimes and instead offer support to the Iraqi people.

My first thought is, where have you been
Dr Ali Al Saleh? What is the purpose of protest other than to support Iraqi independence? Do you honestly believe Irish people are protesting against Iraqi democracy?

The idea that protests against the Iraq war are anything but 'pro-Iraqi' is probably one of the most amazing distortions of reality I have read in quite some time. The purpose of protest is to express disgust for our government's undemocratic support for an invasion that has claimed, according to Les Roberts of British medical journal The Lancet, 300,000 lives. An invasion that brought terrorism to a country. An invasion that was led by two countries who for so long supported the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. An invasion that was facilitated by the medium that today stands in awe of western military power in Samarra, "
the operation, in which 1,500 US and Iraqi troops and 50 helicopters had been deployed, was the biggest air assault since a similar airlift just after the war to oust Saddam Hussein three years ago," while at the same time ignoring the killing of eleven members of an Iraqi family in Tikrit by the same military superpower.

How else shall Irish people show their solidarity with the Iraqi people? Should we follow the lead of western governments and sit back while a dictator crushes an uprising, supplies the weapons for mass murder, maintain the sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands, drop the bombs that killed more, destroy the country and withdraw the funds for rebuilding?

What future do Iraqis want?

The people of Iraq need support and help from the people of Ireland, not protests, writes Dr Ali Al Saleh.

"But I have to ask these demonstrators some questions. Do you not want my people to enjoy democracy? Do you not want us to breathe the same air of freedom that you breathe? Can you support our constitution and our democratically-elected government?"

"in 2005, more than 10 million Iraqis risked life and limb in a great demonstration of democracy, in favour of change, in favour of human rights and dignity. They did this not just once, but three times. Across Europe, the anti-war demonstrators could not come even close to this number."

Full Article... The Irish Times


Paddy's Day



Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Contractor - Read "Mercenary"

There's obviously a simple reason why a civilian "contractor" might be traveling around with explosives in the boot of his car. But what is it?

"An American described as a security contractor has been arrested by police in a northern Iraqi town with weapons [explosives] in his car, said a provincial official."

Reuters via the Global Echo


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Badly judged words?

Slobodan Milošević dies in the Hague and RTE relays the political life of the man in about two minutes. That is perhaps why history gets a little distorted:

"NATO bombed Milošević into submission" [RTE 6 O'Clock News 11/3/06]

To clarify what I presume was meant, "NATO attempted to bomb the Serbs into submission."

Find out more: Zmag


The Little Drummer Boys

The last few months has seen a unusual occurrence in the world of political punditry, that of the 'post conflict war monger soul search'. A process by which those in the media and political nerve centre can disown their foaming at the mouth pre-war scaremongering on the basis they were unaware people would die and a country would be left in ruins. It truly is a wondrous sight to behold. Seeing these public persona's contorted by the guilt of a mistake that couldn't possibly have been foreseen one might ask, who could have predicted the daily violence that rocks Iraq today three years ago?

right-wing intellectuals who demanded George Bush invade Iraq now admit they got it wrong. The Independent's article under the headline "Are you listening, Mr President?" reports that Richard Perle, Andrew Sullivan, George Will, Bill Buckley and Francis Fukuyama apparently regret the way war has turned out. The breaking point for them has been the continuing conflict being played out by competing factions under the watchful gaze of the seemingly permanent US occupiers. An unfortunate and 'unpredictable' result of 'liberation'.

The problem no doubt with this continuing resistance is that securing US interests in the region is becoming problematic, with the installation of a reliable permanent puppet regime becoming more difficult. On the upside, as these remorseful politicos will also admit, continuing conflict warrants continuing occupation. Bringing 'peace' and 'stability' to the Middle East is no easy task.

Collateral damage, an often used term that exemplifies the consequences of war is also useful in putting this retrospective preaching in perspective. A euphemism used to describe the "inadvertent casualties and destruction inflicted on civilians in the course of military operations," is a product of political leaders recognition that the reality of war must be disguised in order to gain support, while at the same time removing any doubt that your enemy might be human. So just as history predicts the death of innocents, it can also predict the reactions of people to bombing, occupation and suppression. It is impossible to separate war from it's consequences.

The idea that Iraq would fold under western military occupation is easily rubbished, Stephen Zunes of Foreign Policy in Focus;"Top analysts in the CIA and State Department, as well as large numbers of Middle East experts, warned that a U.S. invasion of Iraq could result in a violent ethnic and sectarian conflict. Even some of the wars intellectual architects acknowledged as much: In a 1997 paper, prior to becoming major figures in the Bush foreign policy team, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith predicted that a post-Saddam Iraq would likely be "ripped apart" by sectarianism and other cleavages but called on the United States to "expedite" such a collapse anyway." Past experiences supported by pre-war intelligence was quite accurate in its predictions; no weapons, no friendly welcome and no submission to western imperialism. Pseudo democratic institutions would not be accepted and natural resources would be more difficult to acquire than the simple stroke of the pen.

Are we seriously supposed to believe those within the US/UK administration were not privy to this information? Are we seriously supposed to believe Richard Perle was unaware of his own predictions? Are we to seriously believe anyone thought that Iraqis would role over and die?

The Independent's headline, "
NeoCon allies desert Bush over Iraq" suggests there exists some sort of disagreement when it comes to the major foreign policy goals between the US administration and the media that bolsters its control. Disagreement on 'minor' issues such as this do not indicate a departure from the intrinsic process of hegemony. As with many interventions the plan is much bigger than the conduit. Bush is expendable. The goals are still crystal clear.

Richard Perle may find criticism with the handling of the post liberation plan, but that in no way suggests the war was a mistake. The objective remains, "
We will look back on the liberation of Iraq and the subsequent establishment of a decent, humane government there as a turning point in history." But the establishment of a favourable government rests on three pre-requisites; "Can such a government reliably protect U.S. interests in the region – that is, be pro-Israel, anti-Iran and a secure supplier of oil?"

Infamous political commentator Andrew Sullivan is experiencing a sense of 'shame and sorrow', for the "tens of thousands of dead, innocent Iraqis." A tough lesson he seems to have failed to learn from; "IRAN VERSUS AMERICA:
The threat is real. And explicit." While George Will, in conversation with Senator Kerry, contemplates not whether war is unavoidable, but what kind of war to choose; "Iran's radical Islamist regime is undeterred by diplomatic hand-wringing about its acquisition of nuclear weapons, which may be imminent. Is preemptive military action against Iran feasible, or are its nuclear facilities too dispersed and hardened?"And so continues the drum beat of war.

With the Iraqi threat, if not the war, successfully sold to the public and any dissent successfully contained by the compliant liberal media there is obviously a certain confidence in what well thought out deception can achieve. Amazing as it sounds, Iran is being poised as the next lucky recipient of western democracy and all the freedoms that come with it.

The irony being that those that have learnt from the mistakes of the last intervention are even less concerned with evidence of a threat than ever before. Where there was a despotic tyrant, there exists only a hardliner. Where there were weapons, there exists only the desire to attain them. The desire, as with the 'weapons', does not necessarily need to be factual or even plausible. It is very probable that in five years times that conversation about setting our sights on Iran and that memo suggesting the facts be fixed around the policy will be leaked. Then we'll all join in the chorus of "I told you so," the pundits will blame someone inconsequential, they'll get fired up about some other issue and the history books will be updated with all the key facts omitted.

The Iranian episode unfolding on the pages of the news media starts from two basic premises, the first being a nuclear Iran is a threat and the second that this threat must be dealt with in some way yet to be agreed. Both wholly flawed, yet mercifully unquestioned. Therefore Iran's 'inalienable right' to 'develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination' afforded to it by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty must be re-branded as hostile posturing. And the failure of cynical negotiations must be cause for military resolution. Not that the similarities between the lesson we've just learned and the class we're preparing for have escaped everyone,
"It looks so deja vu," commented Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, "I don't believe we should engage in something that might become a self-fulfilling prophecy," in the understatement of the year.

Following a similar formula to Iraq, the intelligence is being cleverly filtered to ween out anything or anyone that doesn't fit the policy presently being unveiled to the general public. So the likes of Scott Ritter and Hans Blix are being replaced with the
IAEA, there is "no evidence of a nuclear weapons program or any diversion of nuclear material," in the 'to be ignored and suppressed' category. While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's every rant gets a headline, interesting tit bits such as Iran's decision to employ a "euro-denominated international oil-trading mechanism," in an obvious attack on "U.S. dollar supremacy in the international oil market" are noticeably absent. Leaving absolutely no reason for anyone to be in doubt as to why Iran is 'next'.

As with many events in the international world of politics, the Iran 'crisis' has not appeared out of thin air. The reasons behind the US insistence that John Bolton should serve as their ambassador to the UN are becoming more and more apparent;
"the Security Council should issue a "vigorous response" to Iran's nuclear ambitions or the United States might have to consider other steps." The UN is again to serve legitimacy to US et allies imperialism and the Richard Perles and Andrew Sullivans of this world will again promote the interests of those in power, in spite of what you read in The Independent.

Richard Perle Q&A
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) full text here:

In 2004 George Will asks Kerry:
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov:
John Walsh at Counterpunch
Iran Oil Bourse
The 48 Hour Media-blitz for War with Iran

Stephne Zunes
David Traynier Letter to Paul Reynolds
Persistence of Vision


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

From the Archive

The Scourge of Nationalism
By Howard Zinn

"The Progressive" - - I cannot get out of my mind the recent news photos of ordinary Americans sitting on chairs, guns on laps, standing unofficial guard on the Arizona border, to make sure no Mexicans cross over into the United States. There was something horrifying in the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call "civilization," we have carved up what we claim is one world into 200 artificially created entities we call "nations" and armed to apprehend or kill anyone who crosses a boundary.

continued... Information Clearing House





Monday, March 06, 2006

Solutions for idiots

'No quick fix' from nuclear power

Building new nuclear plants is not the answer to tackling climate change or securing Britain's energy supply, a government advisory panel has reported.

The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) report says doubling nuclear capacity would make only a small impact on reducing carbon emissions by 2035.

The body, which advises the government on the environment, says this must be set against the potential risks.

Full Article at the BBC

Ministers back 'terminator' GM crops
Website reveals plan to scrap prohibition on seeds that threaten Third World farmers with hunger
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Published: 05 March 2006

Ministers are trying to scrap an international agreement banning the world's most controversial genetic modification of crops, grimly nicknamed "terminator technology", a move which threatens to increase hunger in the Third World.

Their plans, unveiled in a new official document buried in a government website, will cause outrage among environmentalists and hunger campaigners. Michael Meacher, who took a lead as environment minister in negotiating the ban six years ago, has written Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Environment, to object.

Full Article at The Independent


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Manufacturing Dissent

The Middle East needs Kevin Myers like it needs another hole in the head. But in his latest piece he responds to my last letter, unless there are many others that 'dared' to compare his views on the Easter Rising and Iraq.

Kevin Myers rubbishes the connection between his views on the Easter Rising and the Iraq war in Thursday's Irish Times. The absurd correlation derived from his selective moralising; "men do not take arms against an intangible thing like a "regime", but against real people, with real families and real souls." The Iraq war apparently was waged against a regime, not against people, with real families and real souls.
"The two are not quite the same," but not because France would have vetoed military action if Saddam threatened to nuke Tel Aviv or the Vatican, we were aware he had no WMD's prior to the invasion. Surely they are not the same, because they are completely different. The morality of waging war on real people is where the correlation lies.

The basis for war, that of self defense, was a text book example of manufactured consent. "I would say that the president's rhetoric was not only baseless, but deliberately misleading," Scott Ritter, Iraq weapons inspector. That is why President Chirac's words were a little more nuanced than Mr. Myers would lead us to believe, "My position is that, regardless of the circumstances, France will vote "no" because she considers this evening that there are no grounds for waging war in order to achieve the goal we have set ourselves, i.e. to disarm Iraq."

Mr. Myers then manipulates the case for war, echoing the rhetoric of the leaders who orchestrated this bloody affair. Therefore pre-emption becomes liberation and the absence of a suitable strategy to democratise and rebuild a post war Iraq becomes a case of bad planning. Noam Chomsky in his recent talk in UCD explained how the mainstream media approaches it's government's decisions, he likened it to a high school newspaper's criticism of the football team. Therefore generally much good work done, some mistakes made, must do better. This 'humble' retraction may on the surface seem like a divergence from mainstream warmongering, but Mr. Myers opinions are directly congruent with the US/UK political press brief.

These thoughts have been circulating for some time now, echoing through both the halls of Westminster and the White House. The war was based on the best intelligence available. The Iraqi people were liberated from a murderous tyrant. Democratisation has been hampered by outside influence, further promoting the myth this adventure was prompted by a global war on terror.

Therefore in retrospect he admits it was wrong to support the war. Not because the case for war was manufactured, not because over 100,000 real souls perished, not because there is no intention to rebuild Iraq, but because the horse lacked sufficient training. What a wonderful thing retrospect is. But just like the high school newspaper, he is willing to give the team the benefit of the doubt, and will continue supporting the occupation which fuels the fire.

The good news is, he now has a precedent from which to judge the coalition's intentions towards Iran. Soon I hope to hear him asking those questions he neglected to ask in the lead up to the Iraq war.

An Irishman's Diary
Kevin Myers

Some letter-writers - apparently expecting intellectual consistency of some kind, always the sign of a boring mind - have been contrasting my opinions over the Easter Rising and the Iraq war. Why not? There is so much in common between Herbert Asquith and Saddam Hussein. One was a relatively decent, democratic cove who succeeded in making Home Rule law, and the other a psychopathic lunatic who started war against three neighbours, causing the deaths of millions. Why, he even made poison gas - introduced to the world by our "gallant allies" - fashionable once again.

continued... The Irish Times


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Terrorist No. 1

Steve Bell in the Guardian