The Heroes of the Poppy Fields.

November 10, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Tijl Vercaemer from Gent, Flanders #Belgium) (In Flanders Fields the poppies blow (3/3#)

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Tijl Vercaemer from Gent, Flanders #Belgium) (In Flanders Fields the poppies blow (3/3#)

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
– John McCrae 1915.

They are human beings. They are not immune to horrendous fear and to physical and psychological harm. It is the measure of intense bravery to not only overcome those fears, but throw oneself into the middle of them. They are human beings. Through it all, through what most of us cannot imagine, they fought and died so that people like me have the luxury to write, speak, criticise, assemble, live and love happily and freely and without fear. This is heroism, and it is unforgettable.


The Confederacy and Britain

June 28, 2013

mkwary

Hatfield House in Hertfordshire boasts a very English interior, accompanied by a beautiful garden. It is owned by former leader of the opposition in the House of Lords, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury. It has been in the Cecil family since the 17th Century. Among its occupants was former Prime Minister, Robert Cecil. And in Hatfield House, remains a painting of Cecil’s hero; Confederate General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.

June 1861. Two months had passed since secession and skirmish turned into full blow civil war as the shots rang out through Fort Sumter. Three months earlier, civil war was a possibility, but not a reality. Federal buildings had fallen into Confederate hands without a declaration of war, and though supplies to the Fort had been prevented by the odd skirmish out of South Carolina, it was not enough to provoke all out conflict. That all changed as President Lincoln took the initiative to begin hostilities whilst putting that particular ball firmly in the Confederate court by letting the Confederacy know that he was indeed going to reinforce Sumter, but not violently, and that war would be initiated if supplies were prevented from reaching the Fort. Reinforcing Sumter was of course provocative after the previous unsuccessful attempts in January 1861, and Lincoln knew it’d end violently, but it would be the Confederacy that fired the first shot after a tense stand off, and so appearing to be the aggressors.

James Bulloch arrived in Liverpool, England, two months after the attack on Fort Sumter and the beginning of the United States Civil War. His job; Chief Foreign Agent of the Confederate States of America. His task; to procure British ships in order to aid the Confederacy. His name is unknown to most, but his influence kept the Confederacy going, shook President Lincoln’s confidence, and almost brought Britain into the conflict on the side of the Confederacy. The Union State Department Officials referred to Bulloch as “the most dangerous man in Europe“.

Lincoln knew that sympathy in the UK for the Confederacy was intricately linked to high flying members of the British establishment (though, class doesn’t seem to play too high a part in support for either side). He sent a letter of thanks to Manchester workers who issued a proclamation of support for the Union. A statue of Lincoln now resides in Manchester. Lincoln thus played a very cautious game with the British. He was up against members of the Palmerstone government with obvious sympathy and suspect ties to the Confederacy, as well as newspapers such as the Glasgow Gazette and Manchester Weekly Budget. It’s true that most MPs and Lords and in fact, people in general, distrusted both sides.

President Lincoln thus sent Charles Francis Adams as United States Ambassador to Great Britain. Adams was the grandson of President John Adams, and son of President John Quincy Adams, and thus, had a degree of notoriety in the UK. He was tasked with making it abundantly clear to Great Britain, that with British possessions scattered all over the World, and US power increasing, that Britain should be careful about recognising the Confederacy, or sending ships to the Confederacy, or any other policy that could “set a dangerous precedent“. Washington was worried. Eduard de Stoeckl, the Russian Minister to Washington expected Britain to declare for the Confederacy at any moment, stating:

“The Cabinet of London is watching attentively the internal dissensions of the Union and awaits the result with an impatience which it has difficulty in disguising.”

Adams was worried, by 1862, that the British were considering brokering a peace deal between the North and South. Adams further worried, that brokering peace, meant offering concessions to the South.

Great Britain was officially neutral during the Civil War. It was in Britain’s interest not to throw its lot in with either side. Unofficially, there were those in high places handing out favours to both sides. Companies in the UK took advantage of the US civil war. Whilst it’s true that the Confederacy, despite its lack of strong industrial base that the North had, managed to produce some impressive arms, they also imported much from Britain. Especially rifles. It’s suggested that around 900,000 rifles were imported between 1861-1865, almost all made in Enfield.

Bulloch took advantage of this, knowing that British companies noted a brand new war market. He engaged with a company in Liverpool called Fraser, Trenholm Company; a large shipping company specialising in buying – and thus, bankrolling – the Confederate cotton industry, located in a rather unimpressive part of Liverpool close to the Thistle Hotel. From the offices of Fraser, Trenholm, Bulloch managed to purchase the CSS Alabama, despite British neutrality. CSS Alabama was built in secret though the Prime Minister knew, in Birkenhead. Bulloch managed to sneak Alabama out of Liverpool, and over to the the Confederacy, though the ship never docked in any Confederate port. For the next couple of years, it managed to raid 450 Union vessels, burn 65 Union merchant ships, and take 2000 prisoners. CSS Alabama (along with other ships out of Liverpool, including the CSS Shenandoah) was key to the Confederate war effort. It is also notable that Prime Minister Palmerstone most probably knew that the ship was headed for the Confederacy, and yet, he still let it depart pleading ignorance to where it was headed. Following the war, the US claimed damages for the destruction caused by the Alabama. Senator Sumner (a radical abolitionist) wished the claim to include the Canada becoming a part of the USA. In the end, the matter was settled for $15.5m.

In 1862, William Gladstone, then Chancellor under the Prime Ministership of Palmerstone, angered both his boss, and Queen Victoria with a speech made in Newcastle, in which he stated:

“….there is no doubt that Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an Army; they are making, it appears, a Navy; and they have made — what is more than either — they have made a Nation.”

– It is also rumoured that Gladstone had purchased Cotton bonds from the Confederacy also. It was a great deal at the time. Jefferson Davis policy was to hold back cotton from Europe, because he believed Britain especially was so reliant on Southern cotton, that they’d eventually have no choice but to back the Confederacy. And so, whilst holding back cotton, the South tried to strengthen their position by attracting European investors for such a sought after product in purposely short supply. Bankers from Paris were involved in the underwriting of cotton bonds – floating a loan of $3,000,000, redeemable in cotton at sixpence a pound – secretly authorised by the Confederate Congress in order to raise funds for arms. As Britain remained neutral, Gladstone appeared to be both a vocal supporter of Jefferson Davis, and a financier of the Confederate cause.

Another subscriber to the Confederate cotton loan program was John Arthur Roebuck, the Liberal MP from Sheffield. His reasons for supporting the Confederacy, like Gladstone, seem to be entirely related to profiting from the cotton loan program. It is no shock then that Roebuck was a member of the UK’s Southern Independence Association, and that he raised a motion in Parliament for the House of Commons to officially recognise the independence of the Confederacy. Roebuck, in proposing full recognition of the Confederacy, also strongly advocated sending arms and aid to the rebels. Roebuck overstepped the mark, perhaps delivering the biggest blow to the Confederate cause in the UK, on his visit to France in order to try to convince Napoleon III to support the Confederate cause. Roebuck returned to England insisting that the French Emperor had agreed to recognise the rebel States. This was a fabrication. The Emperor had completely rejected to idea. The fabrication was soon discovered, and used to ridicule Roebuck’s cause. The Confederate offensive in the UK Parliament, had been dealt its deathblow. A Confederate agent in Britain, Henry Hotze, charged with helping to lead the cause for recognition noted after the withdrawal of Roebuck’s motion:

“All hope of Parliamentary action is past. Diplomatic means can no longer avail. Everybody looks to Lee to conquer recognition.”

– At around this time, sympathy for the Confederate cause in Britain was drying up.

Colonel John Lewis Peyton of Virginia was sent to Britain in 1861, sent with instructions to buy arms for the Confederacy. He docked at Southampton, and resided in Jermyn Street, adjacent to Piccadilly in Westminster. He quickly became a member of Pall Mall’s Reform Club – a club that still runs today and boasts members such as Prince Charles and former Mi5 Director General, Stella Rimington. Peyton managed to secure a deal worth 1760 Enfield rifles which reached Confederate troops in South Carolina, in 1862.

One of London’s most famous Confederate guests was Matthew Fontaine Murray. His bust currently resides at the ‘Hall of Fame for Great Americans’ in New York City. His statue presides in Richmond Virginia. Murray was a great oceanographer, nicknamed ‘the pathfinder of the seas’, a wonderful astrologer, and great navy man. He landed in Liverpool, with his son, in November 1862, met with Bulloch, and then onto London to advance the Confederate cause. He made lasting friendships with high members of British society including Lord Wrottesley and Roberts Fitzroy, the captain of HMS Beagle, of Charles Darwin fame. Along with a distant cousin, Murray worked to establish ties that would supply the Confederates with support, and arms, whilst trying to give credit to their cause by mixing with those of important standing.

Peyton and Murray were just two of many agents sent to London, and other parts of England, to mix with high ranking officials, to use cotton bonds for funds and arms used to kill Union soldiers and prolong a vicious civil war. Confederate operations in London, were extensive; this included the business World, the journalism World, and deep inside the corridors of power in Parliament and Whitehall. John D Bennett, in his book “The London Confederates” notes of the South’s agents in England:

“For four years their efforts helped the Confederacy maintain its armies in the field; and without them the South would almost certainly have been defeated much earlier.”

A small Confederate community began to occupy Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire – and about 30 minutes from my house – including Major Norman Stewart Walker, a Confederate officer, who was sent to Britain with Confederate bonds to buy arms. Another visitor to the Royal Leamington Spa Confederate community, was youngest officer on board the CSS Alabama, Irvine Bulloch; whose nephew went on to become President of the United States; Theodore Roosevelt. James Murray Mason – grandson of George Mason known as the “father of the Bill of Rights” – stayed in Leamington Spa, sent by Jefferson Davis himself, to try to win over the British by appealing to the necessity for cotton. Writing to Confederate Secretary of State Judah Benjamin about the town, he remarked on the:

“…large circle of Confederates in this retired town”

– Thus, the town has a unique history in Britain with its links to the Confederacy. Many more Confederate agents were sent to Britain to procure arms, investment and support for the Confederate cause, knowing the CSA had quite a strong presence already.

The Confederate agents didn’t stand too much of a chance of succeeding in bringing Britain over to their corner. Loss of US grain supply, war with the US, potential loss of Canada, a rise in tariffs and risking aggravating large groups of pro-Union working class Brits, especially in the North, was too big a risk for the British to take for very little return.

Agents of the Confederate States of America flooded the shores of Britain during the war, in order to secure weapons and aid for the Confederate war effort, and whilst Britain publicly remained neutral and showed very little desire to recognise the Confederacy on an international state level; in private many of the country’s high ranking members of society gladly aided the Confederacy in big, and small ways. Wealthy Brits saw the US civil war as a great time to profit from death. This makes Britain – specifically in relation to keeping the Confederacy armed and dangerous, in which hundreds of thousands died – intrinsically linked to the attempts to both perpetuate and nationalise African American slavery in the US, far more so than most Brits care to admit.


My thoughts on Iraq and the Left

August 5, 2011

The French Revolution was a noble cause. Its goal was freedom from absolute tyranny. The shackles of Monarchy were being swept away for the sake of the enlightenment ideals of political and social rights. The cause itself was right. The methods were sometimes disturbing and wrong. The means cannot be justified regardless of the ends. Yet the ends were a noble ideal, as set out in La Fayette’s declaration of rights (though largely influenced by his friendship with Jefferson). This is how I see the Iraq war. I do not oppose the war in principle. Much of the means have been wrong, and thoroughly unnecessary, but the goal remains the right one. Political and social rights for a long oppressed people.

It seems a little odd to me that a majority of my fellow Left Wingers would oppose the Iraq war whilst the Left Wing inside Iraq has been struggling for years to firstly stop being prosecuted and systematically murdered, and secondly to get heard. There was no left wing march on London to protest the wiping out of 100,000 Kurds, or the killing of 90,000 Shi’ites. Iraq under Saddam was not that different to Kosovo under Milosovich, or Rwanda under the Tutsis. Iraq was a multi ethnic society, in which the minority ethnicity held the power, violently. Genocide is a term that can be applied to Iraq. Where were the anti-war protests, the pro-humanitarian righteous calls for Saddam to be tried for war crimes? It is almost shameful to abandon the cause of the international Left – deciding they are in a different Country, so not important – for the sake of a manic anti-Americanism stance. The cause of the international Left, is the cause of all Left wingers.

Expecting a legitimate and entirely free, well run election, in a country that has no real democratic infrastructure, in its first years, is madness. But it is a small step on the right course. I characterise the 2009 Iraqi election as a symbol more than anything. I say it was a symbol, because for a country whose citizens had been oppressed from a crime family for the past thirty years, to suddenly, at the legislative level, have thousands of women contesting electable seats is a massive achievement in itself. 75% of the parties standing candidates for election, were brand new parties. Also, in 2009, the multinational force in Iraq played no part in the security of the election process, which was presided over for the first time (an achievement, surely?) by the Iraqi security service. In 2005 elections there was no public canvassing for votes. In 2009, there was. Another achievement surely? And another symbol of the way things are, and should be going. The 2009 election, whilst it included violence and corruption unquestionably, it was also an improvement on 2005. 8 candidates were killed in 2009. 200 were killed in 2005. Suddenly displaced people and prisoners were given a vote. It is a big symbol for Iraq, and in fact for that region on the whole, given its centrality. Whilst the election took place under occupation, I cannot see it as anything but a step (albeit a small step) in the right direction. People who had been excluded from the political process for decades, suddenly having a say, is not a bad thing. And if anyone (including those of us on the pro-war side) thought the people of Iraq, after 30 years of Saddam oppression and frankly, a century or more of being played with like pawns, by the West, were suddenly going to march to the polls, in the same spirit as the democratic process in the UK, and expecting no violence or attempts to sieze power during a time when the country is essentially, new, they are delusional. The necessary infrastructure was not destroyed during the invasion itself, it was absolutely dismantled under Saddam. Said Aburish’s book “The politics of revenge” speaks of this.

The problem, as I see it, with early elections in deeply unstable countries like Iraq, is whilst continued US presence is not all that helpful, it seems to be true that if there is no real strong UN/US presence, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that the country will fall into the hands of anti-democratic forces again. Shia and Sunni parliamentary groups are slowly figuring out how to work together, which is far more essential than a strong UN/US presence, to prevent the country sliding into civil war, but it isn’t quite there yet. On this point, I am in two minds. I do think a strong UN/US presence is necessary in the early years, to provide support for a fledgling democracy against the plethora of groups that would like to install a new anti-democratic, anti-western, violent regime, which whether we like it or not, will always result in new tensions and aggression from the West again; but at the same time, we see the result of US presence with the democratic process in Afghanistan, and that leaves a lot to be desired, even though to pull Western support entirely from Afghan, would almost certainly lead to a renewed Taliban insurgency and a take over of government again, which is not helpful at all. So I certainly don’t see this as black and white. I simply think it is far too complex a situation, which many on the anti-war left tend to forget.

To have listened to the advice of the anti-war Left for the past twenty years, we would now have had a Milosovich who succeeded in Bosnia/Serbia. Kosovo would have been ethnically cleansed. Saddam would still be in power. The Taliban would be more powerful than ever. Iraq would have been a repeat of Rwanda – a campaign that never happened, I presume to the delight of the anti-war left. The anti-war left therefore, should horribly ashamed of themselves. I would be ashamed to align myself with such thoughts. It is important to note, their objection was not in the way the war was handled, or in the doubtless in-competencies of the rebuilding effort. Their objection was the principle of going to war against a leader whose country had been described as one big concentration camp. How they justify that objection, from a left wing perspective, is beyond my comprehension i’m afraid. They hold up peace signs, whilst people are raped and tortured to death. They say “War is terrorism” whilst they fellow left wingers are brutally murdered. It is the height of ignorance and betrayal.

They tend to complain that America supports dictators around the World (which America certainly has unjustly done), but then they lose my support when they complain when America takes the opposing view and tries to rid a Nation of a dictator. I absolutely welcome the change of policy from tacit support to regime change of notoriously criminal regimes.

I am not sure where the anger lies? In the war itself; which to me seems like a military operation to rid the World of one of the last and most vicious dictators of the 20th Century, create a Federalised democratic process to try to address the many cultural differences, which surely cannot be morally unjustified, given that the old ways certainly didn’t work. Or in the way the reconstruction was handled and the failure to plan for the influx of extremists aided by Iran and dedicating their efforts to destroying any form of infrastructure. The former, as i’ve pointed out, was hardly an act of unprovoked aggression when – when you glance back over the past thirty years, you see an Iraq that had been torn apart, its people savaged, tortured, raped and murdered, and endless UN resolutions disobeyed and just plain pissed on, Saddam’s funding of Palestinian suicide bombings against Israel and the awful consequences that the Kurds had to face for wanting independence. The reconstruction, was surely execute poorly and our continued forceful and at times disturbing presence (Abu Ghraib comes to mind) simply acted to provoke sectarian violence, but if we expected a long oppressed people to suddenly become the beacon of freedom, and weak infrastructure not to be the target of those who wish to assert another dictatorship over Iraq; we are hopelessly naive. Though surely we’d agree to the following points:

  • Saddam was evil. On the level of evil as Milosovich and other 20th Century dictators.
  • Iraq is better off without Saddam.
  • Building a new Nation on the grounds of a failed State will take time, but is worth it.
  • Taking a State out of the hands of Islamic extremists is in the interests of all of us.
  • Leaving Saddam in place, would only have required intervention at some point in the future, given that he’d spent ten years disobeying all UN resolutions.

    There are also profound questions we need to ask:

  • Were we right to have left Saddam in power after he left Kuwait?
  • Were we right to put sanctions on the Country which no doubt contributed to the suffering of the people?
  • And if we were right in both of those questions, should we have left him in power in 2003 and just kept up the sanctions?
    If you answer yes to all of those, then I am afraid you and I deeply disagree.

    There is a will among anti-war Left, to make sure nothing of any positivity be mentioned in regard to the Iraq war. If there is a rational argument presented for the Iraq war, it is ignored, because it might contradict a deeply held anti-American, anti-Blair view. If any of us dare to mention that we supported the War, support the democratic aftermath, and think it a war, much like Kosovo, to be proud of, we are vilified, especially if we are on the Left. If we were on the Right, our support for the War could be attributed to a dumb, Fox News Watching populace who cannot help but see America as a great Nation dedicated to the pursuit of freedom. As it happens, I am very critical of American foreign policy. There reluctance to involve themselves in Rwanda disgusts me. Reagan’s support for Right Winged terrorists and manic dictators throughout Latin America, disgusts me. But Afghanistan and Iraq have always been issues of contention for me. I never knew where I stood. Now I do. I absolutely, unequivocally support both wars. As a left winger, I support both wars for humanitarian reasons; because Iraq is far better off without the Saddam regime, and Afghanistan is far better off without the Taliban regime. Stability and security is a matter that has been rife with incompetence from coalition, but it will take time. I am of the belief that a democratic Iraq is achievable, and far more preferable to the population (look at the last election results) than a Sunni or Shia sectarian dictatorship; a dictatorship that was absolutely Fascist in its governing, and no less evil than Milosovich’s Kosovo.

    The anti-war marches always seemed a little ignorant and Nationalist in sentiment, to me. There is a whole host of hypocrisy involved too. One wonders where those Western Muslims who insist on supporting their “brothers” and “sisters” in Iraq against “Western Imperialism” were when Saddam was allowing mass executions, genocide and rape to take place. They seem to have only discovered this sense of brotherhood, after 2003. Shameful.

    The calls for Blair to be sent to the Hague – questions arose in my mind…. why? Why should he be tried? What evidence do you have that the Prime Minister, like Milosovich, wished to wipe out Iraqi civilians, and send thousands of servicemen and women to their deaths? Oil? Really? Couldn’t we have saved the trouble and struck a deal with the Saddam regime, in return for aid or the lifting of sanctions? Because he hasn’t said sorry for dead soldiers? Neither did Churchill…. and I challenge you to tell an Iraqi who was held at a Baathist underground torture prison, as seen here, having his eyes gorged out, that Saddam wasn’t as bad as Hitler. What use is a left wing if it turns its head to social injustice on the basis of an abstraction like Nationality and distance from the injustice? It is as if the protesters were not too bothered by the horrific crimes against humanity administered by the Saddam regime. As if they were not too fussed that before Saddam, Iraq had an economy that surpassed Portugal and Malaysia, and after Saddam, it was one of the poorest nations on Earth. They didn’t seem to care much that in 2002, the UN issued a warning against Saddam, accusing the regime of:

    systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

    … it is as if the international Left would rather have stayed out of the conflict, and the obvious humanitarian crises and years of genocide, for reasons simply to do with Nationality. It wasn’t “our” problem. As if humanity is not one species. It is like saying “The red headed man is punching his red headed wife….. I wont help, because i’m not red headed, so it doesn’t concern me.” The continuation of the Baathist regime cannot be justified by those of us on the Left. It was an abomination. It represented an imperialism imposed by religious extremism, resulting in poverty, oppression, institutionalised rape and genocide. We also cannot ignore the ten years worth of warning the UN had given to Iraq.
    The UN demanded that Iraq put a complete halt on:

    summary and arbitrary executions… the use of rape as a political tool and all enforced and involuntary disappearances

    I cannot bring myself to say that a war that toppled a man who used rape as a political tool, was using widespread and “extremely grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law“, was wrong or illegal.

    Under Saddam thousands of Communist Party members were tortured and killed. Husain al-Radi, the leader of the Communist Party and exceptional painter/poet was tortured and killed after the 1963 Baathist coup.

    Under Saddam, the worst chemical attack in history took place. 1988, against the Kurds, the Halabja massacre, in which 5000 people died, 10000 more injured, and thousands more suffering birth defects every day. I implore you to imagine walking down a street in Halabja that day, and watching as thousands of people going about their every day lives choked to death; children’s skin burning and blistering, screaming in pain, before they dropped dead. One thing is for certain, most of the anti-war Left would be calling for Saddam’s head to be bought to London and stuck on a pole in the Tower of London, had he done the same thing in London. For a powerful Western Nation to sit back, and allow it to happen, is immoral. To support inaction, in my opinion, is a war crime.

    Guy Dinmore of the Financial Times was stationed 14km outside of Halabja, and recalled entering the town after the attack:

    It was life frozen. Life had stopped, like watching a film and suddenly it hangs on one frame. It was a new kind of death to me. You went into a room, a kitchen and you saw the body of a woman holding a knife where she had been cutting a carrot. (…) The aftermath was worse. Victims were still being brought in. Some villagers came to our chopper. They had 15 or 16 beautiful children, begging us to take them to hospital. So all the press sat there and we were each handed a child to carry. As we took off, fluid came out of my little girl’s mouth and she died in my arms.

    – Knowing that the President of a country is capable of such an atrocity, to demand Blair’s head on a plate simply for a “45 minute claim” that may or may not have been exaggerated, seems beyond petty.

    Under Saddam vast environmental damage was caused in Kuwait, when Iraqi forces retreated from their invasion of Kuwait, and set land minds in the oil fields after setting the oil fields on fire. The fires raged for ten months, creating an environmental disaster, deep respiratory problems for Kuwaitis ensued. The land and the wildlife of the surrounding region was destroyed. Where were the protesters in London? I guess they were at petrol stations, wondering why their petrol cost was increasing, on their way to a shopping mall, whilst 6 million barrels of oil a day were burning in Iraq and causing a humanitarian and environmental crises. The international Left should have been acting to oust Saddam then and there.

    Yanar Mohammed, the Iraqi Feminist and head of “Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq” moved back to Iraq after self imposed exile for fear of her life, after the invasion by coalition troops. Her group now fights against sexual slavery and forced prostitution. It provides safe houses for victims of domestic abuse and those threatened with honour killings. She claims to have saved 30 women from honour killings. Under Saddam, those 30 killings would have taken place, and there would be nowhere for victims of domestic abuse or sexual slavery inside Iraq to turn to. At Saddam’s trial, a woman who didn’t wish to be identified testified against the Dictator, stating:

    “I was beaten up and tortured by electrical shocks, I begged them, but they hit with their pistols. They made me put my legs up. There were five or more, and they treated me like a banquet.

    The woman was 16 at the time.
    Yanar Mohammed is pushing for the de-baathistisation of the Country’s attitudes to women. Another step in the right direction, and a signal that Iraq is far better off without Saddam or the Baath Party. The international Left should be recognising people like Yanar Mohammed and helping her cause, rather than focusing on endless criticism of America.

    Azzam Alwash is the director of “Nature Iraq“, the Country’s first and only Environmental organisation. He is working to restore the marshes of Southern Iraq. The beautiful region, full of wildlife and natural wonder, considered by some to be the “cradle of civilisation” and the Garden of Eden, was destroyed by Saddam. The Marsh Arabs had supported a Shiite uprising against Saddam in the early 1990s. The marsh Arabs had lived in floating huts on a plethora of canals that were divided between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Saddam had thousands of the marsh Arabs tortured and killed, and their livestock slaughtered. The huts were burned, and the water was poisoned. As many as 500,000 fled the attack. Land mines were placed in and around the marshes to make sure no one would go back. For centuries the marshes of Southern Iraq were teeming with wildlife and aquatic life. After 1990, it was baron, drained, poisoned, and covered in land mines. The UN in 2001 named it as one of the greatest environmental disasters of all time. Alwash intends to re-flood the marshes and restore the wildlife. This would not have been possible under Saddam. Alwash would most likely have been tortured and killed for even suggesting it. The south was one of the places that the Iraqi people were delighted to welcome coalition troops in 2003.

    America has always influenced Iraqi affairs. They helped empower Saddam. They trained and armed Iraqi soldiers against Iran during the conflict in the 1980s, by making it easier to transport weapons by arbitrarily removing Iraq from the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. The US miserably abandoned their Kurdish allies in 1975 leading to genocide (the abandonment of the Kurds is the moral indignation that should lead to US Officials – in particular, Kissinger – tried for war crimes, not 2003). There were, as far as I can tell, only one way the Americans could put right their continued involvement in Iraqi affairs; topple the dictator, install a democratic process, leave. And whilst the process was at times incompetent and at other times absolutely abhorrent, the goal is the right one.

    Interestingly, a poll of 2737 Iraqis interviewed by ABC News with the necessary field work conducted Oxford Research International of Oxford, found that 78 percent of Iraqis reject violence against coalition forces, although 17 percent — a sixth of the population — call such attacks “acceptable.” One percent, for comparison, call it acceptable to attack members of the new Iraqi police. This to me suggests that whilst people in Iraq may have tired of coalition forces during the war, they respected the new Iraqi police force and the rule of law set by the new Iraqi State. Also, forty percent of Arabs (who make up 79% of the population) supported the presence of coalition forces in 2005, compared with 82 percent of Kurds. Of the entire population, 48% said the invasion was right, whilst only 39% said it was wrong. And whilst the media and the anti-war Left like to imagine that life is impossible now for Iraqis, the poll found that 70% are happy with their lives now, 71% expect their lives to improve in the coming years, and only 19% say they are worse off after the war than before. Only 15% said that coalition forces should “leave now” (this was 2005). 36%, the majority, said coalition forces should leave once a stable Iraqi government is in place. Now, short of providing their own evidence to the contrary, I would expect the anti-war left to insist that the research is coalition propaganda, at that point, I cease to listen to them.

    To conclude, I tend to question popular sentiment as much as possible. Call it a need to argue. So when my own political allies on the Left come to a conclusion that seems a little drastic (Send Blair to the hague for war crimes, for example), I tend to want to look into the arguments further. On Iraq, I disagree profoundly with the vast majority of the Left. I also think they have betrayed their desire for superior investigative journalism, by attaching their reasoning to the claims of Gilligan, which I shall discuss in more depth tomorrow. The Left should have mobilised against Saddam and called for his overthrow years ago. They should have stood shoulder to shoulder with groups fighting for freedom in Iraq. This, they failed to do. They abandoned the international cause of the Left, for the sake of rabid anti-Americanism and a desire to see Blair in prison. Their objections on the whole, came down to national allegiance. And most will start their argument with “Yeah, I know Saddam was an evil dictator but…“. To me, that is where their argument has fallen. It is a hopelessly flippant statement that deserves absolutely no respect. From the comfort of a Western perspective, in which we can think what we wish without worrying our neighbours may be spying on us, and that we may be tortured or murdered at any second; to say Saddam was evil, is just words. Meaningless words. From a privileged and relatively free Western perspective, where we are not forced to demonstrate our loyalty to our leader on fear of torture, or made to watch and applaud the execution of our family members, we know nothing, we cannot imagine the horror of living day by day under such an oppressive regime, we cannot put ourselves in the shoes of the Kurds, the Shia and the Marsh Arabs. In Iraq, the biggest threat was not American imperialism, it was a regime that was absolutely beyond evil. Evil is a word that cannot be applied easily, but the Saddam regime was evil. To suggest we understand at all, and to still oppose the war, represents a deep betrayal of the principles of social justice on which the left is built. What good is a left that has resigned itself to arbitrary National borders? To speak of “we” as a collective nation, rather than “we” as a movement for social justice, represents an appalling betrayal of our principles. The anti-war Left (many of whom struggle to place Basra on a map) should be ashamed.

    It is true that Iraq now is a hotbed of sectarian violence and terrorism, but it is improving. It cannot be expected to become a peaceful democratic state so quickly, after suffering so many years of oppression. I assert that the war was the right course to take, the rebuilding effort is going to be long and dangerous but it sets the correct course for the future of Iraq, and tomorrow I will expand on this further.


  • The Afghanistan problem and the anti-war Left

    July 30, 2011

    There is an inclination on the Left (especially the Student Left) to be manically, and irrationally anti-war. There is no room for movement. They will call for Blair to be tried for War Crimes (here is a wonderfully simplistic sight, that calls Blair a monster). They will show the bodies of innocent people killed in Iraq or Afghanistan and demand Blair and Bush be hung for crimes against humanity, yet oddly they don’t wish to draw the same conclusion with Churchill, or Roosevelt; allied bombers are responsible for far more civilian deaths during World War II. Therefore, they are absolutely irrational, selective, and living in a dream World. They are patently anti-war. A man could be stabbing you, and they’d insist on “understanding” the differences, culturally, between the two of you, and then working on a diplomatic solution. Their determination to continue irrationally, and hijack the Left Wing, so that it encompasses anti-war into its way of thinking, is a veritable insult to those of us on the Left who are far more practical and logical, taking each conflict that arises as requiring different solutions, and that sometimes, war is the only way.

    If you read Tariq Ali of the Stop The War group, he seems to completely exonerate Pakistan of any wrong doing, and put all blame for any problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the door of America. It thus perpetuates the myth that religious evil persisting on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the support for that evil from the Pakistan ISI is somehow a problem we should “understand” at the very best, and just ignore at the very worst.

    One must wonder if they think the lack of force used against the Interahamwe in Rwanda, was the right course of action, given that it was peaceful yet resulted in a genocide.

    I absolutely support the war in Afghanistan. I think it’s a long term war, against an enemy that is relentless, and happy to use their own bodies to kill anyone who does not follow their religious doctrine. Had I been Prime Minister in 2001 after 9/11, i’d have made the same decision as Blair. Had I been Prime Minister in 2003, when all the intelligence was pointing to Saddam having WMDs, and the fact that he’d been obstructing Weapons inspectors, and had already broken well over 10 UN Resolutions, I’d have gone into Iraq too. People who will use religion as a justification for declaring war (which they did on 9/11/2001) should be hunted down on every corner of the Globe, and eliminated. We should not be taking their cultural ideals into consideration. Believe whatever you wish, but when your belief is enshrined in violence, your belief deserves to be wiped off the face of the planet. Believe in Fascism if you wish, but the moment you try to spread your vile system using violence, then it becomes a problem.

    The attack against the World Trade Centre was not an attack against American aggression. Islamic terrorism had been growing for years. Those who support its doctrines do indeed wish their reading of Islam to become the accepted norm. This is evident with the killing of Ahmed Shah Massoud on September 9th 2001. Massoud was a great man by anyones definition. He fought the Soviets, helping to drive them out of Afghanistan, and then continued to fight the Taliban, and staunchly attacking their interpretation of the Koran. He was assassinated by radical Muslims two days before the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t kill him because he was American; he wasn’t. They killed him because he posed a threat to their perverted and dangerous doctrine.

    After taking control of much of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban installed the most vicious and violent form of Shariah law that any Islamic nation has ever had to endure. For Massoud’s part in trying to destroy the Taliban regime, he was nominated in 2002 for a Nobel Peace Prize, and has a National Day named after him, in his honour. Can you imagine living in a country that was essentially free and modernising rapidly, to a Country that suddenly banned education, sports, and leaving the house without a male chaperon for all women? Can you imagine suddenly become a Country that forced all men to have a fist sized beard on their chin on pain of public torture if disobeyed? Where suddenly you could be put to death for owning a TV or sending a Christmas Card. A Country in which a woman would be publicly executed if she had been seen by a Male doctor, no matter how sick she was? That was not Afghanistan prior to 1996. But it was Afghanistan in 1996-2001? All this whilst they funded and trained extremists carrying out bombing missions against US Embassies.

    According to a UN Report, most civilian deaths in Afghanistan since 2001, have been caused by the Taliban insurgency. They are also focussing their attacks on unarmed Aid workers. 76% of civilian deaths in 2009, according to the UN Report have been caused by the Taliban. They do not care who they kill. They want control of a country, for religious ideological reasons. Here are a group that helped carry out attacks on US embassies, harboured terrorists, helped to fund and plan 9/11, assassinated an opposition leader, refused to allow women the right to leave the house alone, carried out extreme torture and execution on a daily basis, and who would kill you and I, and I don’t think It’d be a leap to say they’d most certainly use chemical or biological weapons against the West or any anti-Islamic fundamentalist group, if they had the capability; all of this and the anti war left do not see it as sufficient to intervene? By that same reasoning, should we have left Milošević alone?

    The problem on the Western Side, was that a lot of Muslims believed that whilst Terrorism was wrong, they felt a sense of “brotherhood” with Muslims in Afghanistan, and therefore felt it was a battle between the West and Islam. Which is a ridiculous argument. The Crusades are long dead. I am an Atheist, not a Christian. I couldn’t care less what religion a man in a desert in Afghanistan chooses to adhere to. The fact that Turkey supplied troops to the war against the Taliban also suggests this wasn’t a war on Islam.

    There is another attack, that seems to have no actual end, or point to it. “Yeah, but America funded the Taliban in the 80s against the Soviets!”.
    Absolutely. It was the wrong thing to do. The US created a Monster. I absolutely do not support the Reagan administration in pretty much anything it did. It funded Right winged terrorists throughout Latin America in an attempt to spread American Capitalism. But that was the Reagan Administration. The Foreign landscape was entirely different, and just because they created the monster for short sighted reasons, doesn’t mean that they should wash their hands of that monster 20 years later.

    Afghanistan needs to be a fully functioning State. That is absolutely impossible with a Taliban presence. A Taliban presence means terrorism, which means mass instability across the region, and presents a worry for Pakistan with it’s Nuclear capability. A functioning State of Afghanistan, progression both economically and politically can only take shape without the Taliban.

    The issue Afghanistan clearly has now, is Karzai isn’t exactly Mr Clean himself. In 2009, of the 66 polling sites in Kandahar, 100% of the vote came out in favour of Karzai. In the Zherai Awal Camp, 2,100 people are eligible to cast a vote for the Afghan President. Of those 2100………… 2300 apparently voted according to the polling report, and everyone of them voted for Karzai. Karzai’s opponent, Abdullah Abdullah refused to carry on the election, citing his lack of faith in the Government’s ability to allow a fair and free election. He has since started the Campaign for Change and Hope in Afghanistan, as a new Party for Democratic reform. The fact that that Campaign from Abdullah Abdullah is allowed to exist, a party for Democratic reform, shows that Afghanistan has come far, and is much better off, and certainly now on a decent path, which it would not have been on had the Taliban still been in control. In early 2001, Abdullah Abdullah travelled to Europe to ask for financial aid, to help Afghanistani people affected by the cruelty of the Taliban regime, he said without the aid of Pakistan and Bin Laden’s group, the Taliban would be history.

    Karzai is currently offering to negotiate peace with the Taliban. The problem with that is, the Taliban do not want stability, or a functioning democratic state. They are not fighting to keep America out. That is simply a clever propaganda tactic. They are fighting to control Afghanistan and force a harsh environment where Shariah is the law of the land, and terrorism can be supported.

    I think the objective is pretty clear. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are absolutely linked. The link extends to the stability of Afghanistan. The link extends to Pakistan and its Nuclear program. To build a free and democratic Afghanistan that isn’t ruled by oppressive gangsters supporting terrorism, and to ensure that particular group do not develop Nuclear capability, we must stay the course in Afghanistan and ensure its State becomes strong and capable of self defence. To allow the Taliban the opportunity to retake Afghanistan, would only lead to another 9/11 and another failed State that requires further intervention. Do it now, or try to do it again and again and again every few years.

    We also have to win the propaganda war. There are doubtless section of Western Muslim community who actually believe that the Taliban are the defenders of Islam and the heroes fighting Western imperialism. Do they oppose Abdullah Abdullah? Do they oppose democratic change? Does the anti-war Left believe the only legitimate option for Afghanistan was an oppressive Taliban regime who would gladly light the fuse that blew up the West? To let that kind of Fascism persist, in my opinion, is a great evil. To turn a blind eye to it, as we did with Rwanda, is a great evil. It must be confronted.

    It does not help the US’s case, that individual soldiers seem to believe they are above the law, and somehow manage to get acquitted for awful crimes. In my eyes the war is justified, but it has to be fought on the standards of the outcome it wishes to achieve; the rule of law, and stability. To forgo the judicial process for individual US soldiers who have committed crimes in Afghanistan, only adds fuel to the fire of mistrust and the entire anti-war left start to suspect the entire war effort as having sinister undertones. It doesn’t take long on the Stop The War Coalition website to come across an article mentioning oil; another argument I always find horrifically simplistic.

    The biggest disadvantage the Taliban have, is the collective memory of a rather annoyed population who remember the dark days of 1996-2001. Rory Stewart, an expert on Afghanistan, write:

    The Hazara, Tajik and Uzbek populations are wealthier, more established and more powerful than they were in 1996 and would strongly resist any attempt by the Taliban to occupy their areas. The Afghan national army is reasonably effective. Pakistan is not in a position to support the Taliban as it did before. It would require far fewer international troops and planes than we have today to make it very difficult for the Taliban to gather a conventional army as they did in 1996 and drive tanks and artillery up the main road to Kabul.

    – With this in mind, there are now projects in Afghanistan that are community led rather than foreign aid led, to build a stable Country. But whilst these are small steps in the right direction, the shady Karzai regime has taken two steps back. The reason the Executive branch of the new Afghanistan Government has powers beyond that of the US President or the UK Prime Minister, is because strong leadership is needed in the first years following its foundation. In an era where the Taliban are winning the propaganda war, a weak executive and a strong Parliament could be potentially disastrous. Karzai needed to act decisively, and honestly. The quite obvious election corruption by the Karzai regime was one massive reason the executive branch of this new State could be endangered, but beyond that, he is calling for Taliban fighters to stop the violence and back to new government. For me, this simply tells the Taliban that they can’t be defeated, that the Karzai government and their allies in the UK and US are too tired to fight any longer and are willing to accept compromise. Progress in human rights, and the rebuilding of the State is under threat, with the apparent desire to appease the Taliban. As Karzai attempted to negotiate with the Taliban, they killed his brother, and other top ranking officials. The US is not helping matters, as Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary said the US would engage in political talks with the Taliban by the end of the year. Shortly after Karzai revealed that the US and Afghanistan was in “PEACE” talks with the Taliban, announcing to the press that the talks were “going well”, four suicide bombers attacked a police station next to the Afghan Finance Ministry. The Taliban admitted they carried out the attacks. I must concur with Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, when he said:

    “The only possibility that (peace) could happen is if they as a movement are defeated and there’s no prospect of that happening in the near future.”

    These are not people to be appeased, they do not want to be part of a democratic process. They don’t want to give people a choice on whether they’re wanted in power or not, they want absolute power, and rule by fear, torture and murder. They are a threat to their own people, and they are a threat to the World. And until we discover the true nature of the Pakistani ISI and their links to the Taliban, we may be a long way from defeating them, though it’s a necessity. On the subject of Pakistan, they must be treated with suspicion and watched carefully. According to a report by Matt Waldman of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard University;

    Directly or indirectly the ISI appears to exert significant influence on the strategic decisionmaking and field operations of the Taliban; and has even greater sway over Haqqani
    insurgents. According to both Taliban and Haqqani commanders, it controls the most violent
    insurgent units, some of which appear to be based in Pakistan

    – With this sort of accusation, it is less surprising that Osama Bin Laden was found next to a military compound in Pakistan. I would feel almost certain in saying he was being protected by the ISI, and more than that; I’d say that Mullah Omar, the Taliban Leader, is also hiding in Pakistan under the protection of the ISI. Mullah Omar is a man who has said he will hunt and kill Americans like dogs. In fact, captured Taliban insurgent Muhammad Hanif made that exact confession. Hanif admitted that Mullah Omar is in the Pakistani city of Quetta. Obviously Pakistan have denied this, yet the US (who insist their relationship with Pakistan is strong and based on mutual trust) seem to think there might be some truth in it, given that the Wikileak earlier this year showed that the US diplomatic community believe the ISI to be a terrorist organisation.

    There is no choice for the West. We either stay the course, regardless of how long it takes, and ensure this vile Fascist form of Islam is not allowed to take control of Afghanistan or any other Country, or we allow them to keep stabbing us, and just hope that one day they will suddenly understand that we have our differences, and they retract the knife despite having caused irreparable damage. I am not entirely sure what the anti-war Left propose we should do with the problem of Afghanistan.

    That is why I fully support the war, and a continued campaign in Afghanistan.


    …solidarity to pure wind

    May 11, 2011

    Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidarity to pure wind.
    – George Orwell

    Everybody on the planet is capable of synesthesic thought. Usually we only identify the most extreme and unusual cases of synesthesia and single them out for investigation at the most and a nice little story to tell your mates at the pub at the least. Synesthesia is the ability to transfer the sensation of the stimulation of one sense, to the sensation of the stimulation of another sense. For example, people who see colours and hear a sound corresponding to that colour. Or vice versa. The truth is though, we all do, every moment. The simple way to measure this affect is the bouba keke test. Look at the picture underneath and decide to yourself which is called bouba and which is called keke:

    If you are like everyone else, you will call the rounded shape bouba and the spikey shape keke. The reason is the rounded shape we see, corresponds to the rounded sound of “bouba“. Around 1% of people who take the simple bouba keke test will not instantly see bouba as rounded and keke as sharp and spikey. Similarly, 99% of people will not instantly understand why someone else sees green when they think of the number 2. It similar to seeing a bright green shirt and calling it loud. In short, synethesia is involuntary metaphor.

    You have all no doubt seen this. Try to say the colour, rather than the word:

    This is an example of cognitive dissonance. The tension we feel when the literal translation is somehow impaired by another perception we are simultaneously holding. The above will make you struggle when you get to the word and colour that conflict with each other, because human thinking cannot disregard what we consider to be the literal meaning. We cannot shake that.

    This brings me onto the point of this blog.
    A few days ago, was the Royal Wedding. Predictably discussion turned to Patriotism. There is a sort of expectation in the minds of the collective, that we are supposed to feel a sense of sacrificial pride to the landmass on which you were born, loyal only to the abstraction of the National flag under which you had no choice in. And I am left in two conflicting minds.

    I cannot fight the powerful urge to feel a sense of community when England play (and inevitably hopelessly lose) at a World Cup. I feel a defensive sense of anger, when I hear American Republicans insist that a British style NHS will result in refusal to treat the elderly. When I’m abroad and I hear a British accent, I feel a slight tinge of kinship, even though I have no idea who that person is. The feeling of patriotism is there. The idea of a Nation creates an automatic expectation within each individual to feel a sense of loyalty and pride toward it. Yet, it doesn’t exist. It is the solidarity of pure wind.

    The sense of Patriotism and its expectations are quite unnerving. It is a type of respect and loyalty that is supposed to be given without question. We bow in its presence as if its worship is just as natural as breathing. To even question the validity of such authority is considered unpatriotic. We group ourselves, not on merit or on objective morality, but on the idea of where we were born. When the British armed forces are in Iraq, they are there for “our freedom“. Our, being the key word. We are all apparently connected by an abstract principle. They are the “heroes” and those fighting against “us” are “terrorists“, “extremists“, “insurgents” or any other noun we choice to aimlessly proscribe to entire groups of people who don’t agree with the mainstream cultural sentiments of that specific country. We are asked to look at the “enemy” as an “other“. They are not like us, because they are not from our land and our land means we are all one. They are the “enemy” because they are from another land. We look at what happened on 7/7 and see a great evil, we see the deaths of innocent people amplified because “they” are “us”. We hear news of a bombed town or village in Fallujah, and we ignore it, because “they” are far away. But if “they” shoot “our” troops, we get angry.

    When Wikileaks released the video of the the American Apache pilots killing twelve innocent people, and talking about it as if it were a video game, or when video was released of American soldiers firing into a prison and throwing a grenade at the building whilst laughing and joking, no one called these people animals, or criminals, or terrorists (in fact, what we do instead, is imprison the guy – Bradley Manning – who released the video). We ignore it. We ignore it, because we have built a Patriotic narrative that whatever crime they commit, they are heroes, but the “enemy” are always “terrorists“.

    This comes at a time when Americans are on the streets celebrating the death of Bin Laden. One wonders why? It will almost certainly cause a revenge attack and America may well be the target. Celebrating a death of what is perceived to be the enemy (remember, much of the World considers America to be a great threat and enemy) simply seeks to perpetuate division. President Obama said justice had been served. Justice? Hundreds of thousands of people have had to die in a war, to seek one man? And that’s justice? It isn’t a video game.

    The ultra-Patriotic movement in America also creates its antithesis. There is a section of the Left that is so viciously anti-war it presumes and subtly declares as loudly as it can, that America perhaps deserved 9/11 or at least had it coming. The problem is that America didn’t create militant religious activity, it is simply a case that Nation States that aren’t built around militant religion will always come into conflict it, because the abstraction of a Nation is similar to that of religion; divisive.

    It isn’t a case of Islam vs America. America, by its very nature has always been imperialistic and expansionist. It has had designs on Cuba for centuries and it shares this trait with organised religion. When Nation States mix with Capitalism, it is inevitably going to create a strain on religions, and the old power structure in which religion was built into the system is slowly eroded away to the dismay of those who quite liked the old ways, and having had the opportunity to follow the industralised Nations of their own accord, rather than being forced to for the sake of profit.
    That tension between the old religiously-led system, and the new more secular way of governing was essentially forced upon the Muslim World for the sake of a more integrated global community, imposed by those in the West who thought our way was somehow “better”. Hassan al-Banna, the creator of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s said:

    “Politics is part of religion, Caesar and what belongs to Caesar is for God Almighty alone Islam commanded a unity of life; to impose upon Islam the Christian separation of loyalties [into church and state] is to deny it its essential meaning and very existence.”

    – Here is the conflict. Islamic nations under the control of fundamentalist dictatorships consider religion to be a necessary part of the existence of the Nation State. The West doesn’t. I would up and leave the UK if we were even to impose strict religious theocratic guidelines to the politics of the country. Islamic nations in the 1920s (and arguably today) are not ready to accept the separation of religion and state, and they must be allowed to walk down that path to religious freedom themselves, without America claiming to be on a moral mission, whilst plundering the area of its resources. We cannot impose Lockean principles on Nations that are not ready for it, because by definition that is not Lockean in itself. That being the case, it is absolutely no excuse to fly planes into buildings killing innocents. If they believe their religion promotes that kind of act, then that religion deserves no respect. If it can be interpreted to include violence and death against innocent lives (which it can) then it deserves no respect. I am deeply suspicious of anyone who tells me I am offending their religion, when their religion says people like me will burn in the pits of hell for eternity. I do not respect that religion. Any religion. In the same breath, I do not respect the armed forces of a Nation who are in a foreign land, killing, to protect its resources. The two systems do not work well together. There will never be peace whilst Nation States and Religion exist.

    There was a sudden burst of outrage against the “ground zero mosque” on the grounds simply of “us” and “them“. Nothing more. It was right winged outrage and very hypocritical. The right wing of America tend to have an almost Messiah-like obsession with free market capitalism. But only when it works in their favour. The buying up of the space for the what they have termed the “mosque“. It is like saying “We want no government interferen……what? They’re building a mosque for brown people? WHY ISN’T THE GOVERNMENT STOPPING THIS!!!” It is surely property rights that the American Right believe the government should not be interfering with? Property rights for everyone except those that don’t fit the American Right’s narrow vision of the World? As I stated on my blog entry last year, on the the subject, it wasn’t just a Mosque, it was the Cordoba Center. It will include a Theatre, a Performing Arts centre, a Basket Ball court, Bookstore, Child care, Prayer space, Restaurant, culinary school and fitness centre. It is already being used as a place of prayer for Muslims, and has been for quite some time. As I stated in that blog:

    There is nothing that honours the victims of religious intolerance more, than a center dedicated to building relations, and showing that there does not have to be such separation, anger and fear. A symbol of the coming together of Islam and the West, and particularly Islam and America is a stage in contemporary times that we REALLY need to get to, and this Centre is an attempt to provide that link. We should be celebrating it. We should be celebrating that we are trying to move away from the past decade. We no longer want people like Palin and Bush and Cheney making sure fear is the order of the day. Innocent, decent Muslims are no different to innocent, decent Americans.

    I stand by that today. Artificial, yet deafening boundaries like religion (built by faith) and nationality (built by patriotism) are dangerous and lead only to violent tension – always has.

    The Imam of the Omar-E Farooq Mosque in Madrassa, Kabul in Afghanistan teaches his students to hate America. He does this, not for political reasons, but, as he puts it:

    God says… we can never be friends with unbelievers

    Whatever the foreign policy of the United States, Imams like this one, will also preach division and hate, because their religion tells them to. “Religion poisons everything“. One child in the school said that:

    America are doing suicide attacks and blaming Osama Bin Laden……. we can never be friends”

    – Absolute indoctrination of the worst kind.

    The two systems (religion and secular nation states) were always going to come into conflict and I dislike them both. It is easy to say that the Reagan administration created the Taliban and militant Islam to deal with the Soviet threat during the 1980s, but it stands to reason by that very logic that fundamental protestantism created America, and so Christianity, by proxy, created militant Islam. That is the sum total of the logic taken to its limit, by the delusional anti-war Left. The truth is, militant Islam has always existed. It is based on religion and nothing else. The militant branch of Islam had no problem when America was in Latin America supporting right winged terrorists; in fact the militant branch of Islam was working with America at that point. Militant Islam is expansionist by its very nature and has been responsible for both empire, and human rights abuses, much like the nation of America, over the centuries. The two are similar. Patriotism creates two breeds of lunatic; firstly the type who refuse to accept their nation could do anything wrong, and cheer on the streets of Washington when the leader of the supposed “enemy” is killed, like they’ve just beat the top bad guy on Call of Duty but refusing to acknowledge that hundreds of thousands have been killed or displaced using their tax dollars. The second type, is the antithesis mentioned above, who are content with defending militant Islam as a by-product of aggressive American foreign policy choosing to ignore the history of organised religion as one of sheer violence and coercion long before Nation States came onto the scene. Patriotism, like adherence to religion is simply a perpetuation of the inherent problems the two mutually exclusive yet very similar abstractions inevitably create.

    I don’t know if it is a natural reaction, when we are constantly exposed to patriotic sentiment, that we adhere to this us VS them principle. I know I certainly do, and it takes me a minute or two to logically think through the implications of unquestioning Patriotism. That, leaves me feeling slightly uneasy.

    We are blinded by the perception of what we expect to see.


    Blinded by Patriotism

    February 27, 2011

    In 2003 the Americans tried to convince the World that Al Jazeera had been infiltrated by spies, in an effort to produce propaganda for the war in Iraq. It is an interesting and mightily hypocritical claim by the U.S who have a media largely in bed with the American Government, and largely responsible for the biggest manipulation in war time history. Propaganda is an absolute specialty of the United States of America.

    Ex CBS reporter Dan Rather stated recently, on the subject of his unquestioning adherence to absolutely everything the Bush Administration was insisting, that:

    “Had journalists questioned the deceptions…the invasion would not have happened.”

    The truth is, Al Jazeera is the only news network in the World who were investigating the horrors of the U.S invasion of Iraq. Where were the U.S press, the freest press in the World, when the population of Fallujah were being massacred? Phrases like “terrorist” and “insurgent” were being used everywhere, to describe anyone in Iraq who wanted to fight back against the U.S invasion.

    Fox went along to an anti-war rally in 2004, and suggested several times, that the protesters were “unpatriotic“. Fox went along to the Tea Party rallies in 2009 and 2010 and referred to them as “true patriots“. Fox was the most watched news broadcaster for news on the war. Throughout coverage of the war in Iraq, Fox displayed a little waiving American flag in the corner of the screen.

    Similarly, MSNBC played a segment every week, called “America’s bravest”, which showed photos of American soldiers deployed in Iraq.

    Peter Arnett, a reporter with NBC was fired for questioning the legitimacy of the war. He had interviewed Iraqi officials and said the American “first war plan had failed”.

    A Maryland University study into the media affects on public perception of Iraq, found that 57% of mainstream media viewers believed Iraq was involved in 9/11. 69% believe that Saddam was directly involved in 9/11. 22% believed WMDs had been found in Iraq. 80% of Fox News viewers had one or more of the above misconceptions.

    Media watchdog group “FAIR” found that 79% of all 319 news stories on Iraq in 2003, were sourced from Government officials or Military officials.

    The media became the mouthpiece for a barrage of lies and propaganda. This is evident even today. When Wikileaks leaked the war files, the news outlets, from Fox in the US to the BBC in the UK focused almost entirely on Wikileaks itself. American Republicans are referring to Assange as a traitor for exposing their criminal activity. The UK media was focusing on Assange personally. No one focused on what the war logs were saying.

    Dr Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster, along with a team of researchers, surveyed 4,800 people in Fallujah and concluded that dramatic increases in cancer rates and infant mortality since the relative genocide by American troops, is “worse than Hiroshima”. After Fallujah, US Marines admitted, after first strongly denying, that they had used white phosphorus. The report is open for any to read, called “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009“. It shows a 38 fold increase in leukaemia (compared to a 17 fold increase, after Hiroshima), a ten fold increase in breast cancer, and an increase in brain tumours. This sharp rise if health defects, was not helped by the fact that the city continued to be blocked off to essential supplies, by the US, long after 2004.

    Whilst the U.S networks were struggling to understand a map of the Middle East:

    And using handy little catchphrases that seemed to give credit to the horrors:

    Al Jazeera was getting right into the heart of the situation, and showing images, like the one below, which is beyond awful. (I have spent the past few minutes looking at this photo, and it is something I cannot comprehend without being overcome with quite profound sadness):

    It is then, no wonder that the one media outlet that was actually bothering to do some investigative journalism, rather than imbedded journalism (in which the Western Military dictates what a Journalist is allowed to see and where he can go), showing pictures and videos of innocent people’s lives ruined, in the same way that Fox and CNN were after 9/11 were bombed. The Al Jazeera Kabul and Baghdad offices were bombed by the Americans, who also drew up plans to bomb the Al Jazeera office in Doha – Qatar!. Why? They weren’t harbouring terrorists. They were just a threat to US mass propaganda. We were not supposed to see the destruction and terrorism left by the Americans. We were supposed to see a happy population, joyfully welcoming the Americans as great liberators fighting for freedom. If people fought back, we were supposed to believe they were “insurgents” who “hated our freedoms”, rather than the fathers of dead children or orphaned children.

    The “reality” of war, is not a natural reality, it is a construct. When thousands are killed in American and British aggression it is called the “reality of war“, simply because a Western Government has used the word “war” to describe it. But when a far smaller number are killed by extremists, it is called “terrorism” and it is “evil”. It is the creation of a narrative that seeks to propel Western aggression as necessary, to defeat evil. Whether that evil be Communists, Muslims, Vietcong, or Arabs. That is the public narrative. The truth is that if your dictator opens up his markets to American Capitalist ventures, he will be propped up for years to come. The moment he closes those markets, we will take them by force.

    How blurred the lines of “reality of war” really are, and absolutely always in favour of the Western World. Vietnam, the propping up of Latin American and Middle Eastern Dictators, the dropping of the Atomic Bomb, the invasion of Iraq. None of it is labelled “terrorism”, and yet what else is it other than the spreading of terror and death across Nations that aren’t ours.

    It isn’t new. The British Empire did it in Australia. Terrorised the Country but apparently it was for their own good. What if Aboriginal Australians had invaded England? Rome labelled anyone who disagreed with its policies as “Barbarians”. The concealing of crimes behind romaticised ideals is not new. Especially with America. America celebrates Columbus Day. A day when Europe began the mass genocide project across that continent.
    The great American author Kurt Vonnegut sums this up in his book “Breakfast of Champions“:

    rout and Hoover were citizens of the United States of America, a country which was called America for short. This was their national anthem, which was pure balderdash, like so much they were expected to take seriously:

    O, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
    What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thru the perilous fight
    O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
    And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
    O, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    There were one quadrillion nations in the Universe, but the nation Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout belonged to was the only one with a national anthem which was gibberish sprinkled with question marks.

    The motto of Dwayne Hoover’s and Kilgore Trout’s nation was this, which meant in a language nobody spoke anymore, Out of Many, One: “E pluribus unum.” The undippable flag was a beauty, and the anthem and the vacant motto might not have mattered much, if it weren’t for this: a lot of citizens were so ignored and cheated and insulted that they thought they might be in the wrong country, or even on the wrong planet, that some terrible mistake had been made.

    It might have comforted them some if their anthem and their motto had mentioned fairness or brotherhood or hope or happiness, had somehow welcomed them to the society and its real estate. If they studied their paper money for clues as to what their country was all about, they found, among a lot of other baroque trash, a picture of a truncated pyramid with a radiant eye on top of it. Not even the President of the United States knew what that was all about.

    It was as though the country were saying to its citizens, “In nonsense is strength.” A lot of the nonsense was the innocent result of playfulness on the part of the founding fathers of the nation of Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout.

    The founders were aristocrats, and they wished to show off their useless education, which consisted of the study of hocus-pocus from ancient times. They were bum poets as well. But some of the nonsense was evil, since it concealed great crimes. For example, teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked the children to memorize it with pride and joy: 1492. The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them.

    Here was another piece of evil nonsense which children were taught: that the sea pirates eventually created a government which became a beacon of freedom to human beings everywhere else. There were pictures and statues of this supposed imaginary beacon for children to see. It was sort of an ice-cream cone on fire. Like this [the Liberty torch].

    Actually, the sea pirates who had the most to do with the creation of the new government owned human slaves. They used human beings for machinery, and, even after slavery was eliminated, because it was so embarrassing, they and their descendants continued to think of ordinary human beings as machines

    Vonnegut is ingeniously pointing out the illogical mental illness of Patriotism and its refusal to accept the horrors that came before it, and are committed in the name of it. It is a delusional, non-existent entity that exists to hinder human progression rather than help that seed to grow. A heartfelt anthem and a flag are just ways to mask injustice. It is a clever social construction, to make you think what you are doing is for the greater good and that the greatest good is the Nation State, when in fact the truth is, it is all for the sake of profit.

    The dominant superpower will always place itself as the moral standard, and we buy into the bullshit, because it takes too much effort to stop playing on Fifa, and actually read.
    Instead of seeing a little girl marched out of her home, crying and scared and made to kneel down on the floor with her hands in the air, by our troops, isn’t presented in the media. Instead, the media will have experts in to talk about how awesome our aircraft is, or how the Democrats are trying to block Defence funding. As if any of that bullshit matters.

    We don’t see a bunch of vicious soldiers shooting random people or committing mass murder in Fallujah. Instead, we see a Saddam statue being brought down and how wonderful and free Iraq now is. We don’t see the pictures of a family digging their dead child out of the rubble, instead we only hear words like “insurgents” and “terrorists”. If my child had just been killed by American forces, for no reason, I’d fucking do all I could to kill the bastards too.

    We are all desensitised to war, by this obsession with an us VS them mentality. Consumerism is a useful tool against the questioning of the immoral actions of big business and government. It is a simple narrative to understand, we don’t have to read too much into it, we’re busy working our arses off for shit we don’t need, so we consume easily accessible news, without questioning its motives or its intentions. We are apparently the good guys, and they are apparently the enemies, that is how it is presented. A healthy dose of National Pride, by making pictures of American soldiers draping their flag over the head of the statue in Baghdad, ensures that we are kept docile and unquestioning. We don’t want to seem unpatriotic.

    Whereas, the reality is that the good guys are the idiots who are compelled to fight to perpetuate the economic war system, on both sides, rather than joining hands and fighting the very people who profit from war and make it a rational product of Capitalism. Do we really believe that the American private defence contractors and oil companies would love to see a peaceful World? They exist, to profit from war. Therefore, the financial sector profits from war. It is gross manipulation. These are the real bastards, not a few farmers in Afghanistan.

    David Cameron went to Kuwait and told them that 20 years ago a brutal and violent dictator invaded their home land, and they had a right to defend themselves. How offensive; we sold those arms to that brutal dictator, before we designated him a brutal dictator, because he was nice to our businessmen. I keep seeing arguments defending Cameron’s arms sales across the Arab World as “good for jobs in England”. Economic matters are being placed above human rights. It is believed that British arms were used in the massacre of protesters in Libya this week.

    Blair’s government lifted sanctions on the sale of weapons to Libya in 2004. Since then British companies have sold £500,000,000 worth of arms to Libya n 2009 alone. This includes Sniper rifles, tear gas, and crowd control ammunition. Are we seriously suggesting that selling tear gas and crowd control ammunition to a dictatorship, is going to be used to protect itself from an evil outside force? They are always going to be used against protesters, to keep the dictatorship in power. For that, I don’t care how many jobs it creates in the UK, we should be ashamed.

    And so whilst the Libyan government uses our weapons, like Saddam did before him, on its own people, the rest of the World will sit back and have lots of UN meetings and keeping saying “please stop“.

    Sometimes, death is good for the economy, and so we are all expendable.
    Was is an essential ingredient of Capitalism.


    The way of the Huckabee

    December 1, 2010

    Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee has called for whomever leaked the cables to Wikileaks, to be executed. Interesting. When Islamic extremists issue fatwas against people like Salmond Rushdie, our politicians rush to condemn them. They are barbaric. They are left overs from the Middle Ages. But apparently, American Republicans can issue death threats against whomever they so wish; especially if it intrudes on their apparent inherent right to be the bringers of war and destruction across the World.

    Huckabee said:

    ‘Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty’

    A little extreme perhaps. But then i’ve always said, those who worship their abstract, fantasy World of the concept of “Nation” are just as moronic as those who worship their fantasy World of “Religion“. Huckabee wants to put someone to death for the sake of his abstract concept.

    Huckabee, ironically, is part of a political party that sent thousands of troops to their deaths in a war that won support on the basis of a lie. In 2003 a letter was conveniently found in Saddam Hussein’s house, from one of the 9/11 bombers, Mohammad Atta, and the head of Saddam’s Iraqi Intelligence, General Tahir Jalil Habbush. The letter read:

    “To the President of the Ba’ath Revolution Party and President of the Republic, may God protect you.”
    reads:
    “Mohammed Atta, an Egyptian national, came with Abu Ammer [the real name behind this Arabic alias remains a mystery] and we hosted him in Abu Nidal’s house at al-Dora under our direct supervision.
    We arranged a work program for him for three days with a team dedicated to working with him…He displayed extraordinary effort and showed a firm commitment to lead the team which will be responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy.”

    It was convenient, because it was simply false. The man named Nidal was an enemy of Hussein. I wrote about this in a previous blog in greater detail than I will go into here. Needless to say, the document is not authentic. This comes years after Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist and Author Ron Suskind, suggested that the Bush White House along with the CIA had forged the document to suggest a pre-war link between Iraq and Al Qaeda to back up their authority for war. Given that, according to Wikileak documents leaked a few months back, this little lie, along with the tidal wave of lies the Republicans threw at the World in order to gain support for their illegal war, caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, shouldn’t Huckabee be getting his priorities straight, and quit worrying about how many rich Americans in expensive suits these leaks embarrass, and worry about his weak interpretation of the word “treason”?

    Every President for the past, at least, 100 years should be tried for treason. Reagan funded and armed right winged terrorists in Nicaragua, and so was indirectly responsible for thousands of innocent lives lost.
    General Suharto of Indonesia is estimated to have killed around 1,000,000 people in 1965, after the US gave lists of known Communist sympathisers, making it easier to round them up and execute them. Arms deals then propped up the Suharto dictatorship through the reign of President Ford right up to President Clinton.
    $112,000,000 worth of arms were passed to Suharto’s regime, from the Carter administration.
    During the invasion of East Timor, but the Suharto regime in Indonesia, supported by the Americans; the UN had a vote calling for Indonesia to stop its invasion immediately. The vote was blocked by the US who also blocked a vote to impose economic sanctions on the Country.
    Ford’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told Suharto, on his absolutely abhorrent invasion of East Timor:

    “It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly; the use of US-made arms could create problems.”

    Kissinger knew that what he was supporting and helping, was nothing short of genocide. Strangely, Huckabee hasn’t called for Kissinger to be executed.

    The problem isn’t that the leaker, or Wikileaks puts anyone in danger. They don’t. What they do, is embarrass World Governments. Especially America. It is long overdue quite frankly. Politicians like Huckabee would quite like to be able to get away with murder, without being hindered by those pesky journalists.

    They set a precedent; they show that technology has reached a point where it is possible for those working within the system to say “Hang on, this is wrong, this needs to stop” and leak the relevant information and misdeeds to the press, without meeting in a car park and handing over brown envelopes. Politicians like Clinton, and Obama, and Huckabee, and Bush are not concerned with National Security, they are concerned that their quite obvious misdeeds and crimes are being made public. It is the equivalent of a murderer complaining that the press made his name public, and that it might make his neighbours dislike him now. Boo fucking hoo.

    Wikileaks is doing what journalism should have been doing for years. This is the job of journalism.
    It seems to have become the job of the press, to add fuel to the cancer of Nationalism/Patriotism. To mask all shocking details of what our Country undertakes in our name, behind a wall. On one side of the wall, the press place us…. portrayed as the great victims of the evil Arab and Socialist World. On the other side of the wall, they place everyone else. The problem is, the wall doesn’t exist. It is an illusion. To keep us supporting this shit, they wave an English or American flag every so often, and play our National Anthem. Suddenly, we don’t need to question what sort of crimes our Governments are committing, because they must be doing the right thing; they’re English after all!

    The Press tend to toe the Government line, certainly on foreign policy issues. Even the BBC, that beacon of independent broadcasting, in 2004 referred to Blair as the “great liberator”, and not in an ironic sense.
    We seem happy to read versions of stories sourced by government officials and business leaders (as if their word is truth), influenced by the needs and desires of advertisers, and playing to the political and business sympathies of editors; who all create a sort of fantasy World, but the moment any potentially embarrassing story is leaked, we bang on about National Security. As if it’s the fault of those who leaked the fact that our governments are shit and our ridiculously clouded National Pride is a little bit misplaced.

    It isn’t irresponsible. We’re fucking irresponsible for constantly electing corrupt lying money hungry bastards. Governments are irresponsible for playing such a dangerous game with diplomacy, and invoking a sense of the abstract concept of National Pride whenever we’re heading toward a conflict, whether we’re morally right or not.
    We’ve known for years anyway, that governments and big business are absolute bastards, it’s nice to have it confirmed.

    Yet some people seem to have said….. “Oh my god, the UK has been supporting torture, and bad mouthing other Nations. They also are responsible for millions of civilian deaths in the Arab World……….including children!!!……………….. who fucking leaked this, the bastards!!
    Get your priorities straight.

    There needs to be a place where the misdeeds of government and business can be aired without being twisted by vested interests in the press. There is no Andy Coulson or Alastair Campbell to spin the truth.

    Also, there exists quite a contradiction within Capitalist countries, especially from the Right, who want wikileaks closed down. The hollow cries of “keep government out of the market” are suddenly ignored, whenever they demand it. It’s almost laughable how hypocritical the bastards actually are. Jefferson said that a free press was essential to democracy. Well, this is what a free press does. Accept it.

    One of the leaks shows that whilst the US and UK have been telling us that no official log of civilian deaths in Iraq exists at all, it actually does exist. It shows that the US had continually ignored hundreds of cases of rape, child abuse, torture, beatings, and murder by the Iraqi police. It shows also that the US and UK know that at least 109,000 innocent Iraqis have died as a result of the Iraq war. A war that was sanctioned on the basis of a complete lie. The Republicans, of whom Huckabee is one, are responsible for the deaths of at least 109,000 innocent people. Huckabee should be tried for war crimes, and treason given how many Americans lost their lives as a result of it.

    Wikileaks also released a video not long ago showing soldiers in an Apache helicopter gun sight, using the helicopter like an XBox war game. They take out a small village, and then can be heard saying “Ha, ha, I hit ‘em.” Another says “Look at those dead bastards“. Who are the real fucking criminals in this?

    Another log shows that a British rifleman shot dead an young Iraqi girl who was innocently playing in the street. Our journalists would have never uncovered this. Her death, the anguish of her family would have remained a secret. The rifleman would be, and probably still is, hailed a hero. And so the game of the glory of the West no matter what, continues, unhindered; whilst the bodies of children lie shot and bloodied in the streets of Iraq. But Huckabee doesn’t have a problem with this. He has a problem with anyone who actually dares to make it public.

    For a Nation that prides itself on its democratic system, I would have thought we’d all be supporting something that absolutely helps democracy flourish. You cannot have democracy, without all the relevant information on how your representatives and government are acting, in your name. Genuinely justifiable secrets, like troop positions in Afghanistan are one thing; but leaking the amount of awful deaths and torturing your Country has been involved in, or leaking the fact that your Country is trying to spy on UN officials, is not a genuinely justifiable secret (unless you’re President Nixon).

    Without these sorts of leaks, the status quo remains, and the status quo is massively unbalanced, and quite honestly wrong. The status quo exists to keep the consumer-lead middle classes happy, half truthful news, quickly devised, by journalists who do not investigate as they should, next to stories about who Paris Hilton fucked at the weekend. A World that and is basically saying “ignore what’s happening over there…. ignore the blood……….. oooo look, a shiny thing! You want to buy the shiny thing! Go on, buy the shiny thing”. But then when someone shouts, loudly, “No, fuck the shiny thing, let’s focus on the blood, let’s focus on what’s happening over there….” politicians call out “NATIONAL SECURITY!” It has nothing to do with National Security and everything to do with National embarrassment.
    What Huckabee is generally saying is “We have worked hard to create the myth that was care about the World. That we aren’t just attempting to create an economic empire built on docile, easily manipulated and exploited peoples. Our people ACTUALLY believe this bullshit we propagate too. Please don’t ruin it. If you do ruin it, we’ll put you to death“.
    Wikileaks, and online citizen journalism, is where journalism is heading. A proper radical kind of press, that does not filter out damaging reports, is what people like Northcliff set out to do decades ago.

    This isn’t dangerous. It isn’t going to cause another World War. It is massively needed. Because the way things work at the moment, is very one sided, and is run like an American Empire. They are the new Rome and they want it all their way, without question, placing themselves above the law. The President and the Secretary of State are on damage control mode. They are part of the established order, that wishes to conduct their business, however dodgy it is, however illegal it may be, in absolute secrecy. That is the order that exists. If you don’t particularly like this fairy land of an order, then you will support Wikileaks, like I support Wikileaks.

    The only question you should ask yourself is; Should America be allowed to get away with anything it pleases?


    America’s tortured brow

    September 13, 2010


    – Reagan meets the Taliban and refers to them as Afghanistan’s founding fathers, despite their remarkable ability to deny even the most fundamental of human rights.

    Prior to 1986 the UN’s judicial wing, the International Court of Justice was supported by the United States. However, all that changed in 1986. In that year, that fantastic year (my birth), Nicaragua became indescribably pissed off with the US’s involvement in supporting Right Winged terrorists in their country, that they bought a case against the US, to the Court of Justice. The charge was, that:

    (a) That the United States, in recruiting, training, arming, equipping, financing, supplying and otherwise encouraging, supporting, aiding, and directing military and paramilitary actions in and against Nicaragua, had violated its treaty obligations to Nicaragua under:
    Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter;
    Articles 18 and 20 of the Charter of the Organization of American States;
    Article 8 of the Convention on Rights and Duties of States;
    Article I, Third, of the Convention concerning the Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife.
    (b) That the United States had breached international law by
    1. violating the sovereignty of Nicaragua by:
    armed attacks against Nicaragua by air, land and sea;
    incursions into Nicaraguan territorial waters;
    aerial trespass into Nicaraguan airspace;
    efforts by direct and indirect means to coerce and intimidate the Government of Nicaragua.
    2. using force and the threat of force against Nicaragua.
    3. intervening in the internal affairs of Nicaragua.
    4. infringing upon the freedom of the high seas and interrupting peaceful maritime commerce.
    5. killing, wounding and kidnapping citizens of Nicaragua.

    The US defended itself, not by denying any of the above, but by suggesting that everything it had done in the region, all the terrorist activity and the dead civilians and the economic warfare, and the torturing, was justified because it was preemptively “exercising a right of collective self-defense” for the benefit of other Latin American countries.

    As proceedings were clearly going against the US, the lawyers for this new Roman Empire, who answer to no one but themselves, decided to throw their toys out of the pram, by suggesting (and being the only Country to ever suggest) that the International Court of Justice is “semi-legal, semi-juridical, semi-political body, which nations sometimes accept and sometimes don’t.” This obviously setting themselves up to say that when the court inevitably finds in favour of Nicaragua, the US wont listen. And so that is exactly what happened.

    The Court found that the US was guilty of attacking key infrastructure in Nicaragua, and arming, training and financing Right Winged terrorists in the Country, although admits that the US probably wasn’t directing the operations of the terrorists. They simply picked them, funded them, armed them, and then said “okay….GO!“. The court also found that the Nicaraguan government had absolutely no part in any arms flow between Nicaragua and insurgents in other Latin American Countries. It found that no Latin American Country had asked for US support in these matters.

    The judgement reads:

    “Decides that the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the contra forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State;”

    Decides that, by laying mines in the internal or territorial waters of the Republic of Nicaragua during the first months of 1984, the United States of America has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State, not to intervene in its affairs, not to violate its sovereignty and not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce;

    Finds that the United States of America, by producing in 1983 a manual entitled “Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas”, and disseminating it to contra forces, has encouraged the commission by them of acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law; but does not find a basis for concluding that any such acts which may have been committed are imputable to the United States of America as acts of the United States of America;

    Decides that the United States of America, by the attacks on Nicaraguan territory referred to in subparagraph (4) hereof, and by declaring a general embargo on trade with Nicaragua on 1 May 1985, has committed acts calculated to deprive of its object and purpose the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956;

    The list goes on.

    America of course disagreed and ignored the verdict. Nicaragua took it to the UN Security Council, asking for all members to respect international law. The US Vetoed it. Because the US don’t like being told what to do. It is the equivalent of a murderer being found guilty, but then walking out of the court because he doesn’t like the verdict and saying “Yeah, I don’t really take it seriously now, i’m going home” and being allowed to.

    Nicaragua then took it to the General Assembly, who passed the Resolution by 94 votes to 3. The 3 anti votes, being obviously the US…….. of course you can guess the second….. Israel, and the third being El Salvador, who at the time were the recipient of huge US aid, to fight the Left Wing uprisings in the Country. The US then tried its hardest since the decision, to discredit the ICJ for being a “hostile forum”, simply because the decision went against the US. I wonder if they’d have followed the same path of trying to discredit the ICJ, if the decision went their way. Something tells me they wouldn’t. And so Nicaraguans had to deal with even further American involvement in their Country. Reagan imposed tougher economic sanctions, and denounced the elections in Nicaragua as suspicious, despite the fact that Canada, Ireland, the European Economic Community and religious groups sent to oversee the elections all said that they were perfectly fair and free.

    The US Congress then banned all funding to the Right Winged terrorists in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration carried on covertly. They did this by selling arms to Iran and sending the money gained, to the terrorists in Nicaragua. In 1996 it was revealed that the Reagan administration used money raised through drug trafficking to support the terrorists in Nicaragua. And today, those very same conservative Americans who masturbate furiously over the mere mention of Reagan, are claiming Obama is the one pissing on the Constitution, by trying to improve the Healthcare system. Fickle, despicable, moronic; the American Right Wing.

    This is why it amazes me, that it was the Middle East that lost it’s mind first, and began fighting America. Muslim Extremists are the equivalent of the barbarians that sacked Rome. Pissed off at their treatment by this wretched superpower, but just as pathetic, barbaric, and evil as the bastards they are fighting.

    Two days ago, marked 9 years since the September 11th 2001 terrorist atrocity in New York City. It was unquestionably one of the most vile and senseless attacks the World has witnessed. The inhumanity was beyond comprehension and it strikes me as utterly counter to human compassion and decency, to assume such an attack is justifiable. That being said, I cant help but wonder why we in the Western World are only ever exposed to this one side of the story.

    Almost 3000 people died that day in 2001. Since then, and because of that act, 2071 soldiers have died in Afghanistan, 4736 soldiers have died in Iraq, 14,240 civilians have died in Afghanistan, and as many as 104,595 civilians have died in Iraq, with thousands upon thousands more displaced, starving, and living in poverty that they were not in prior to US led military action. One wonders what this has achieved? One also wonders why we never hear about those deaths? Why is a declaration of war considered a legitimate and almost entirely ethical justification for the deaths of almost 200,000 innocent people? Why are America not considered far far worse than the terrorists who attacked on 9/11? 3000 people is one building. 200,000 people, is an entire city. Imagine waking up, in your city, and finding everyone dead. Children included. How is that in any sense justifiable?

    Does anyone in the West know the significance of the date April 28th 2003? I doubt it. It was the date that the Americans imposed a curfew on the people of Fallujah (if Iraqis invaded America and demanded people stay in their homes after a certain time, would Americans agree? No, of course not). The people defied the curfew, and the 82nd Airborne shot and killed 17, and injured over 70. Two days later, a protest in Fallujah against the shootings took place. The US shot two people dead. American terrorism and imperialism at its finest. The documentary ‘Fallujah: The hidden massacre’ gives compelling evidence of an even greater evil, committed by the US against ordinary civilians in Fallujah, including children. It shows footage of White phosphorus being used in residential areas, which breaches human rights conventions. It then shows us footage of children and other victims of the attacks, in the areas in which the White phosphorus was used. Ex soldier Jeff Englehart backs up the claims and the evidence by admitting the use of the banned substance. A Labour MP Alice Mahon pressured the British MOD to respond to the claims. The MOD then confirmed that US forces used MK77 during the invasion. The US defended its actions by saying they gave civilians enough time to evacuate. Overall, 39,000 homes were badly damaged and 10,000 destroyed, along with 60 schools, hospitals, and 65 mosques in Fallujah, by the US, in 2004. They have not been reconstructed. 32,000 compensation claims altogether. It is now 2010, and only 2,500 have received any form of compensation. Is America still convinced these people simply ‘hate our freedoms’?

    We as a species seem to have instilled in us, a sense of revenge, as well as an impulse to assume we are the ones hard done by. American governments, including the Obama administration, play the innocent far too often. The usual story across the World, from Latin America, to Afghanistan, is America attempts to control a Country for resource purposes, the people fight back, America refers to them as evil, they refer to America as evil, America attacks and refer to themselves as freedom givers, the locals attack back and America refer to them as insurgents and terrorists, America attacks again, the locals attack again, and so on. All the time, Americans are shocked that anyone could dislike them for any reason, after all they assume quite amusingly that they are the beacon of hope and freedom. And so the cycle goes on. What does it achieve? Nothing.

    Right now, the Muslim World assumes it is entirely innocent, and America assumes it is entirely innocent. Both are not innocent. Do I consider America to be terrorists? Damn right I do, quite horrific terrorists too. What is unnerving, and deeply regressive in terms of the history of humanity, is that both sides assume they are fighting a morally just war, for their own abstract concept; One side is fighting for their religion – a man made concept, something that doesn’t exist, a fairy tale. The other side is fighting for a Nation State – again, a man made concept that has no scientific or empirical worth, is not biological, is an archaic throw back to Colonialism, and is simply a social construct that certainly is not worth killing or dying for. It is unbelievably short sighted, because it will never end. America as a Nation are never likely to admit they have been utter bastards across the World for the past 50 years. Islam as a religion is never going to accept it has anger issues and takes its fairy man in the sky a little too seriously.

    One problem, from a Western perspective, is that since 9/11 at least, we have had this us VS them mentality. We believe the West is right, and the Muslim World are evil bastards who we tried to help, but were beaten down for it. It emanates from America. We never hear stories of American terrorism; of which there are countless examples. We are made to believe the Office of President of the United States of America is an honourable office. It REALLY isn’t. It’s like the office of Roman Emperor. It means you have the power to impose your will on much of the World, through force if necessary and build a public reason for it, but keep the real reason private. It is an office of criminals. Very little more. The castle of the Presidency is built on pillars of sand, not rock. They will not talk about the fact that when Reagan was President, he helped to create the Mujahideen as an anti-communist force, despite the fact that they were also a very violent human rights abusers. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an ex Prime Minister of Afghanistan is currently on the run from America, who have him labelled as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’. This man is responsible for countless deaths. Yet, conversely. according to the book ‘Afghanistan, the bear trap: defeat of a superpower‘, Hekmatyar was the recipient of the most US covert funding (thought to be around half a billion dollars…….. apparently Tea Party activists didn’t really care about this) ever, and total immunity from the CIA for his role in the Drug trade.

    During the Afghan-Soviet war, America funding the creation of over 35,000 religious schools throughout Afghanistan, in order to help train people against Soviets by teaching an extreme form of Islam in the hope that what the crazed Muslim extremists are doing now to America, would be aimed entirely at the Soviet Union. When their anger was aimed at the Soviets, America referred to them as Freedom Fighters. The moment that anger spilled over in the direction of America, they suddenly became known as terrorists. But, the Americans created the problems. They didn’t care if terrorism that they funded was being aimed at Americas enemies. They didn’t care how many people would die, from funding the creation of the monster of Islamic Extremism. It suited their needs, so it was fine. Now it is going against them, and they suddenly find it to be an evil that needs to be defeated.

    President Eisenhower famously used his farewell speech to warn the US that the ‘Military-industrial complex’, in other words, private military and arms manufacturers, as a concept, runs entirely at odds with the objection of peace. That when a situation arises in which certain people and groups have material interests in being continuously at war, there can never be peace. Eisenhower said:

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

    Today, this is more crucial a point, than at any time during the past fifty years. A fifty years in which the US has never had a moment where it has not been involved in the affairs of other Nations. The vast economy of the military machine, is the very source of international terrorism, and it is based entirely in the US. Eisenhower recognised it. I think we are all beginning to recognise it. Especially after Iraq.

    There will never be an end to terrorism. Because terrorism is not limited to extreme Muslims. Terrorism takes on many forms, and one of them includes direct funding from the very superpower that in public appears to be so anti-terrorism, it goes beyond the realm of hypocrisy and becomes laughable. Whilst money exists, whilst Nation States exist, whilst America exists, and whilst Religion exists – terrorism will also exist.


    U.S Afghan leak

    July 27, 2010

    It is ridiculously rich of the U.S today, to call the release of the Afghan files via Wikileaks, a “criminal act” given the nature of the documents. I wonder what other little gems of terrorism the U.S is hiding. Latin America must have it’s very own building, filled with reports of U.S backed terror operations. Despite the scale of the atrocities in Afghanistan, committed by U.S forces, I guarantee, the “international community” will not condemn the U.S, but will condemn the leak. The “international community“, usually means those who support the U.S. To call the leaks a “criminal act“, from a bunch of malicious criminals, is a little bit rich.

    The leak is the biggest in U.S history, and is a political storm waiting to happen. The extent to which the U.S has mislead the public (the documents are from the Bush era, unsurprisingly) should surely result in prosecutions at the very top level of the old regime in Washington? At the very least, it has to be the start of a far more transparent era for U.S foreign policy, which for too long has smashed it’s clenched fist across the World, and condemned anyone who stood in their way.

    The log shows:

  • Coalition forces have killed at least 195 Afghani civilians, and injured 174 more, between 2005 and 2009. Many are the result of Coalition troops shooting unarmed and innocent people, simply because they looked a bit dodgy. And yet Republicans will still insist that this ridiculously pointless war is not in anyway adding to the problem of extremism.
  • French troops machine gunned a bus full of children, wounding eight.
  • An operation to kill a Libyan extremist named Al-libi resulted in the deaths of seven children.
  • U.S troops fired on a bus full of innocent people, killing 15.
  • Civilian amputations as a result of Coalition troops bombing or shooting the wrong people, so far is huge in number.
  • The U.S believes that Pakistan is funding and training extremists. Pakistan strongly denies it.
  • That a secret unit of American forces, is hunting down and killing suspects, without a trial.
  • That the Taliban have not only acquired surface to air missiles, but have escalated their roadside bomb campaign, and have killed almost 2000 people so far as a result. All covered up by the U.S, who are pretty much failing entirely, much like they did with Vietnam.

    One man, called Shum Khan was a deaf and dumb man, living in Malekshay. Out of nowhere, a heavily armed U.S truck rolled into his town, at which point he ran away scared. The War Logs reveal:

    ”ran at the sight of the approaching coalition forces … out of fear and confusion”

    The U.S CIA paramilitaries on board the truck, shouted at him to stop. He couldn’t hear them because he was deaf. He was running away from them, so posed no threat. So to deal with the problem, the paramilitaries shot him. He was wounded but survived. Villagers explained the problem to the troops, who then said they were entitled to shoot him under ”escalation of force” provisions of the US rules of engagement, which i’m pretty sure the shot and injured deaf man did not agree to. The log ends with the U.S not treating the man for gunshot wounds, but paying compensation (known as solatia). The log says:

    ‘Solatia was made in the form of supplies and the Element mission progressed.”

    Such nonchalance. Not a care in the World. Shoot a disabled man, give him a bit of food and clothing, and then move on to the next town.

    On March 4th 2007, U.S Marines narrowly escaped a road side bomb, just outside of Jalalabad. The Marines ran away, and shot anyone in their path. This included young girls playing in a nearby field, and a few old men walking along the street, hundreds of metres away from the explosion. Nineteen innocent people were killed, and fifty wounded. The Marines in their reported omitted all of the details, other than the bomb attack and the sound of gunfire. An hour later, an investigative team of U.S soldiers came back to the area, to inspect. They tore cameras away from Journalists and photographers, demanding they delete any photos. A reporter for Tolo TV said that an American soldier had told him, of the photos and film he’d taken of the site: “Delete them, or we’ll delete you.” The soldiers lied, the Marines lied, a subsequent investigation that found no wrong doing lied, and only now, three years later, has it emerged that they lied. The Afghan Human Rights Commission then held its own investigation into the shootings and concluded that a 16 year old newlywed carrying grass had been repeatedly shot and killed, followed by a 75 year old man, who was just walking. The findings prompted a US army colonel to say that the shootings were a “terrible, terrible mistake“, and give the families of the victims just $2000 in compensation. The Marines were unhappy with the Colonel for insulting there competence, and so held their own investigation which cleared them of all wrong doing and said that they acted “appropriately”. No charges were brought, and so killing innocent people including young girls and old men, is apparently perfectly fine. Apparently the deaths of innocent Arabs is less important than the careers of a few trigger happy Marines.

    The U.S didn’t apologise for the dead children, or the innocent people they have mutilated over the past five years, or the disabled people they’d shot for no reason. Instead, they chose to go on the defensive, and do what America does best; blame someone else:

    We strongly condemn the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organisations, which puts the lives of the US and partner service members at risk and threatens our national security

    What this actually means is:

    We strongly condemn anyone who tries to stand in our way of establishing ourselves as the moral authority of the World, regardless of how evil the means are to achieving that end. We blame Castro.

    Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, instead of apologising and begging for forgiveness for the atrocities committed by her pathetic excuse for a Country, simply said:

    I ask the Secretary of Defence to launch a major investigation and bring the individual or individuals responsible for this to account.

    Even in the midst of evidence that their Country is a vile terrorist Nation, the US officials cannot bring themselves around to admitting just how fucking awful they actually are. She is suggesting, indirectly, that leaking important information surrounding cover ups and murders is punishable by criminal charges, yet overseeing, directing and participating in the deaths of hundreds of innocents and the mutilation of hundreds more, is perfectly okay. America never fails to amaze me.

    It isn’t surprising. The details are nothing surprising. It is simply a matter of “we told you so”. Those of us who are a little skeptical of everything the U.S tells us, know that the massacre in Fallujah“in 2003 was not going to be an isolated incident. We know that the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have very little to do with protecting the American or British people, and very much to do with securing oil supplies and enriching Arms Companies and Defence contractors. War is a private business now. We know that. So in that respect, the leak does not show us anything we didn’t already know. What it does do however, is show conclusively that the U.S is not the special force for good it attempts to paint itself as, by highlighting individual cases of abuses. These are important documents. Documents that governments like to cover up and claim that releasing them would be a matter of National Security, rather than the fact that they don’t want to embarrass themselves, and maybe face criminal charges. What it shows is that the U.S and Coalition forces have embarked on another Vietnam; an unwinnable war that threatens to get worse, after almost a decade of destruction. Thousands dead. Thousands more mutilated and without homes. An increase of a threat from extremists who now justifiably hate the U.S and allies beyond recognition. And no date for handover or withdrawal. A complete failure. And as the Guardian’s editorial puts it, the war effort and the U.S showed”:

    A casual disregard for the lives of innocents. A bus that fails to slow for a foot patrol is raked with gunfire, killing four passengers and wounding 11 others. The documents tell how, in going after a foreign fighter, a special forces unit ended up with seven dead children. The infants were not their immediate priority. A report marked ‘Noforn’ (not for foreign elements of the coalition) suggests their main concern was to conceal the mobile rocket system that had just been used.

    Wikileaks is not the enemy in this. Wikileaks has simply done what the Pentagon refuses to do, because it is hugely embarrassing to itself, and its delusions of grandeur. Wikileaks, and whomever leaked the information, should be knighted.

    Hopefully, this will get the peace activists out and applying as much pressure as possible on the U.S and coalition forces, to withdraw as soon as possible. Maybe right winged Americans will accept that spending their taxes on a decent healthcare system is a far more justifiable way of using it, than on a war that has left thousands dead for absolutely no reason. Perhaps paying Lockheed Martin, the weapons manufacturer $65mn a day, every day of the year, from the US Treasury isn’t the right way to go about obtaining peace. Maybe accepting that the U.S military machine, and the private defence contractors that benefit from war, are the root of the problem. Hopefully the term “war crimes” will be used, because I’m pretty certain that if an Afghani man shot a deaf American in the middle of New York City, after scaring him and then yelling stop, before shooting him; he wouldn’t get away so lightly.


  • The London Bombings

    July 22, 2010

    I am not one for conspiracy theories. I don’t buy the theories that the 9/11 attacks were inside jobs; I merely think the Bush administration were incredibly weak and moronic and did not bother to read up on the intelligence they were getting. They then needed to appear strong, and made the international terrorism problem 100 times worse, by waging illegal wars on the basis of lies, for which both Bush and Blair should be in prison for right about now.

    I do not want to come across as a sensationalist, when it comes to theories. I should let it be known, that I have no theory of my own on this particular subject, merely that I find certain pieces of the official story to be somewhat contradictory and inaccurate. The Government’s refusal to accept calls for an independent inquiry into this subject, is dubious in itself.

    That being said, i’ve been reading up on the profiles of the men responsible for the London 7/7 bombings, and in particular, the apparent ring leader, Mohammad Sidique Khan, whom exploded the bomb on the Tube train that had just departed Edgeware Road Station, and I can’t quite seem to accept the official line that he was a crazed Muslim extremist hell bent on destroying the West. I know that the video shows him denouncing the West and our atrocities across the World, and that we deserve to be punished. But it still doesn’t seem to add up. Across his community, he was considered a role model, and didn’t seem to care too much about his religion. And yet, the Home Office described him as “serious” about his religion.

    The official line, from the Government inquiry is that the bombers boarded the 7:40am train from Luton to London on 7/7/05. The problem was that the 7:40 was cancelled that day. The Government inquiry clearly didn’t inquire very substantially. After concerns about the timings were raised, the official line changed, and the Government then said the bombers caught the 7:25am train. This caused a new issue, because they had just released the CCTV footage showing the bombers with heavy back packs outside Luton station with the time frame saying 7:22am. This means that for the report to be accurate, the bombers, with heavy back packs, casually strolled through Luton Station unaware that their later train was cancelled, then when they realised it was cancelled, ran to the ticket desk, bought all of their tickets, and got onto the train, all within about two minutes. Having done that same thing at Leicester station, which is considerably smaller than Luton, I can promise, it’s not a plausible scenario. The only other train from Luton to London on that morning, was the 7:30, which arrived in London, according to Luton Station reports, at 8:39 because of massive delays, by which time the Tube trains that were to be bombed, according to the Tube reports, had left the stations. The timings of the train, is one of the most intriguing parts of this entire story. The Home Secretary at the time, John Reid had to admit the official report was wrong in front of the entire House of Commons, and revise its original findings to this new set of just as implausible timings, which sees the bombers enter the station, buy tickets, cross the platforms and board the train, all within two minutes. Either way, it’s all we have, so we have to assume it is correct.

    They then made it into London at 8:23am, and made it through hoards of commuters at Kings Cross from the Thameslink line station within three minutes to arrive at King’s Cross at 8:26am. A group calling for an independent inquiry has noted that on a clear day with very little people, it takes at least seven minutes to get from Thameslink to King’s Cross. No CCTV has been released to prove the Government line is the correct one. We just have to accept it.

    In fact, the only CCTV image of the bombers, is a hazy screenshot, in which the bombers are all wearing baseball caps, you can’t make out it is them, entering Luton Station earlier that morning. Given that London is the most watched city in the World, I would have expected at least one CCTV image or video to have been released showing they were exactly where the inquiry tells us they were. But no, no CCTV footage from London has ever been released, even though it remains one of the most horrendous attacks on British soil. I am not going to give any credit to the suggestion made by conspiracy theorists that the bombers were not on the tube, and that they were tricked and part of a larger conspiracy, and killed later that day; although I still can’t figure out why the bombers all bought return tickets to London, when they didn’t plan on coming home. What I will say is that if such easy mistakes were made by the official Government line, it suggests the inquiry was flawed, and the public deserve a full clear and honest account of the day’s events. Why are the Government refusing to allow an independent inquiry?

    The Luton Station CCTV footage, here, shows the four bombers outside the station. It also shows the bomber with the white cap, apparently with the third bar down, of the railing behind him, cutting through his mid-section.

    And here is a zoomed in version.
    Now whilst I’m clearly suggesting the picture could have been tampered with, I don’t necessarily believe that to be the case. I accept that that pictures like this, go through a lot of compression and processing before they are released. The image may have been touched up to help identify the suspects. I accept that. My main issue, is that this is the only CCTV picture of the bombers on that day. Given that anyone can be tracked throughout their day in London, from the shop, to their front door, it strikes me as amazing that this is the only image of the bombers, and that it isn’t even in London. Their is a slight curiosity to that, which I’d like to have cleared up.

    One theory I quite like, but have no proof for, is intriguing whilst pretty far fetched. A year before the attacks, almost a year to the day in fact, the BBC showed a documentary about what would happen if London were attacked, and bombs exploded on the Tube and on an above ground vehicle. They used Muslims who were well known in their communities, to advise them on how they’d cope with the aftermath within Muslim communities. The documentary showed a post-bombed London, and the panic on the streets. A year later, it came true. Almost identically. The theory says that the four bombers were told another documentary was to be made, and they were to be enlisted as helpers and advisors for the day. The credit behind this theory, is that Peter Power, the former Scotland Yard detective, said that there were plans being made for a mock terrorist attack on London………. on that very day, 7/7/05. What are the chances of that? Power himself is a little bemused by the situation, stating:

    ‘At half-past nine this morning we were running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.’

    The theory then continues. The anti-Western video that Khan was on, so the theory goes, was made for the documentary they were told about, to make it seem real. The BBC had just shown a similar documentary about the day George Bush was assassinated. It included very realistic videos. The theory states that all of this, was done so that the bombers thought they were part of a documentary. Hence the return tickets. In fact, it wasn’t a drill or a documentary, it was the real thing. The problem is, the theory doesn’t suggest who then might have been behind the attacks if it wasn’t the Khan clan. There is no evidence, except the very circumstantial. And so whilst I like the theory, and whilst it is filled with holes; so is the Government’s line. I take neither seriously.

    The apparent ring leader, Mohammed Siddique Khan is a very intriguing man. On the day of 7/7/05, Khan’s wife stated that he did not seem any different from any other day. He didn’t bid her and their daughter a fond farewell, he didn’t wish them well, he didn’t cry or do anything out of the ordinary. He said he was just going out with his friends for the day. For all intents and purposes, he acted like he would be home later. He then bought a train ticket, to be home later that day.

    According to documents released recently, Khan was on an MI5 watch list, as early as 2003. American intelligence apparently thought he was planning to blow up Synagogues on US soil, and FBI banned him from entering America because they were worried he actually might carry out his threat. Not only that, but they suspected he had traveled to Israel and planned attacks there too. That is the media line, and that’s the story were all know. Sidique Khan in this version of his life, was a maniac, that America thought too dangerous to let enter the USA, yet the UK just kind of ignored. Surely if he was that great a threat, the UK would have monitored him a little?

    However, that wasn’t Mohammad Sidique Khan. All of that intelligence, all of that worry and paranoia, all of that scare tactics actually turned out to be against a man named Mohammad Ajmal Khan; a British born Muslim involved with a Jihad movement in the USA, and whom is currently in prison in the UK. There was suggestion that Sidique Khan’s movements and correspondents had been traced to a Jihad movement in the USA. Again, it turned out to be Ajmal Khan, who admitted that he provided funding and weapons to a group called Lashkar-i-Toiba, whom were fighting against India in Kashmir.

    There is absolutely no evidence, that links Sidique Khan to any Muslim extremist organisation. He was not banned from America. He was not on an MI5 watch list, and he had not planned attacks in Israel.

    On Radio 4, a few months after the attacks on London, Khan’s friends were interviewed. Both of them were White Brits and considered good friends of Khan. They told Radio 4 that Khan was a half-arsed Muslim, who didn’t really frequent his Mosque, and was obsessed with all things American; music, film, TV, dress etc. They told Radio 4 that Khan actually liked to be called by a Western name; Sid. His friend Ian Barret said:

    “The other Pakistani lads would have to go mosque because their families would say ‘You’re going to mosque.’ But Sid didn’t go,” says Ian. “He didn’t seem interested in Islam and I don’t ever remember him mentioning religion.””

    Another friend, Rob Cardiss said:

    “He was very English. Some of the other Pakistani guys used to talk about Muslim suffering around the world but with Sidique you’d never really know what religion he was from.”

    It doesn’t sound like a man who suddenly decided, out of the blue, that he was going to blow up 53 people and injure hundreds more in a senseless act of extreme violence. Khan worked for Youth programs, helping young people with problems get back on the right track. His job application for a Youth program was published by the Independent regarding a potentially dangerous situation, it read:

    “I have an excellent rapport with the youth community so … I targeted the ringleaders and spoke to them, calming them down and offering sympathy as well as empathy. We then approached the teachers and as a large group casually walked together up Beeston Hill which defused the situation.”

    According to The Times, the head teacher at a school at which Khan volunteered as a mentor, said:

    “He was great with the children and they loved him. He did so much for them, helping and supporting them and running extra clubs and activities.”

    Whilst at that school, Khan produced a leaflet on the dangers of drug use. According to a few friends who helped with the project, Khan had insisted that, and they quote: “The British flag must be part of it. I was born here and I am proud to be British.

    When Khan and his wife moved house, they became friends with their local MP. This happened, because Khan started working at a new school, and the head teacher was married to the local MP. They were invited around the Houses of Parliament as a guest of the MP John Trickett. Whilst living here, Khan made a positive impact. The Guardian states:

    “Few men were more popular on the streets of Beeston than the 30-year-old family man. Recognised by his sensible sweaters and neat, coiffeured hairstyle, Khan’s respectability peaked nine months ago when he visited Parliament as the guest of a local MP. There he was praised for his teaching work. Even now, those who hang about Cross Flatt’s Park describe him as their mentor. He remains the man who coaxed them back into the education system; the bloke who took them on canoeing and camping trips to the nearby Yorkshire Dales; the man who bought them ‘loads of extra bullets’ when he took them paint-balling. Hussain and Tanweer were among those who idolised Khan from his days as a youth worker in Beeston when he had nurtured their love of cricket and football.”

    After the attacks the Home Office reported that Khan had worked at the school, but had not been reliable in the slightest. They say:

    “More problematic was his increasingly poor attendance record. ”

    Yet, the head teacher of the school, after the 7/7 attacks said of Khan:

    “Sidique was a real asset to the school and always showed 100% commitment.”

    A Freedom of Information request recently showed that between early 2001 and mid 2003, Khan’s attendance was perfect. He later resigned because he had taken an unauthorised absence in December 2004, but between mid September 2004 and November 2004, he took sick leave and provided adequate documents as to why. He seems to have resigned, because he didn’t know when he’d be able to be back 100%.

    Khan handed in his resignation, in writing, to the school, on December 7th 2004. That is what the headteacher, and the school have reported. Yet, the Home Office, in paragraph 43 of its report stated that Khan left the country on November 19th, returning to the UK on February 8th 2005. So, whilst Khan was apparently in Pakistan receiving crazed Jihad training, and also being monitored by US intelligence agents who were in fact actually monitoring a totally different Khan, he was also in the UK penning his resignation letter. What is clear, is that the week following his resignation, Khan traveled to Pakistan, citing family reasons. The Home Office report has absolutely no proof, and offers absolutely no evidence to suggest he was receiving militant training. The report simply states that they “assume” and “we have no firm evidence” before suggesting reasons why Khan was in Pakistan. The report does admit that trips to Pakistan among British Muslims, to where extended family live, is very very common. Khan had family in Pakistan.

    The BBC then reported, after a lenghty investigation apparently, that Khan had traveled to Malaysia and the Philipines, and had met with high ranking Muslim terrorists responsible for the Bali bombings, and received training along the way. They suggest that his work as a care assistant was merely a “strong cover” for his extreme activities elsewhere. The problem is, the Home Office report stated that:

    “There were media reports soon after the attacks that Khan had visited Malaysia and the Philippines to meet Al Qaida operatives. These stories were investigated and found to have no basis.”

    According to a man named Martin Gilbertson, who worked with Khan, and had also worked with Muslims who are very radicalised, in the area he lives, Khan was:

    ……..the one who had to be ‘re-converted’ or ‘reverted’ – as they say – back to Islam first….. he wasn’t the ranting type; what he seemed to want was kudos within the group, and among people on the street outside. Khan’s way was to be a ‘cool dude’; it was all about kudos in the Muslim community”

    In another interview, with the Guardian, Gilbertson appears to reveal new information, and totally ignores the suggestion, that Khan was actually a well respected man in his community, by saying that he first met Khan in 2001, at a “at a party in Beeston to celebrate the September 11 attacks.” Gilbertson then claims he was forced to make anti-Western literature and videos for extremists including Khan, when they all worked at a book store together. Not only that, but Gilbertson claims that a 16 year old boy named Tyrone Clarke was stabbed to death because he insulted islam, by one of the bookstore associates and fellow 7/7 bomber Shehzad Tanweer who was then questioned by police in 2004 over the killing. However, Tanweer’s father absolutely denies 100% that his son was questioned, and sources within the police force told the Yorkshire post, that neither Tanweer or Khan were questioned nor even suspected of the killing. Out of nowhere, and totally contradictory to everything his friends had said about him, and totally contradictory to his mannerisms and his actions over the years preceding 7/7, Khan is now being painted as very religious, very anti-western, and a Jihadist. It just doesn’t add up. It seems like a bit of a smear campaign, backed up by absolutely no evidence.

    It is amazing, that this man, who apparently traveled to Pakistan for sinister reasons, was partying to celebrate 9/11, and was hanging around with known crazed anti-Western Muslims, was not so much as glanced at by the security services. In fact, the Yorkshire Post discovered in June 2006, that whilst security services were trying to convince us that Khan was actually known to them, Khan’s car had been bugged by security services…..after 7/7. Khan’s family, according to the Telegraph wanted a second post mortem on his body, by an independent pathologist. The request was turned down, on the basis that tests have already been done to establish how he died, and what kind of explosives he used, and no new information could possibly be found now. Yet, the Home Office is still, to this day, five years later, clueless as to what explosives the bombers used, still believing them to be cheap homemade explosives.

    The two conclusions I’m lead to come to, are either:
    1) Khan and the others were part of something far larger, and given that they brought return tickets that day, and given that Khan especially seemed a very Westernised man; thought they were all going to come home again that day. They did not give their families one last goodbye, and they all bought return tickets from Luton. They were easy targets, because they were Muslim.
    2) Khan was a very very clever terrorist agent. He had a brilliant cover working for disadvantaged youths. He used his money to fund this attack, which would have had to have been planned years in advance, given the expense needed for the training and the equipment. He deceived his closest friends and family. He adopted Western mannerisms, and acted as if he loved our culture, whilst all the time plotting an horrendous and grotesque attack against Britain. If that were the case though, why did he use shit home made devices? And why not a bigger target? If you have spent years planning, traveling between continents training, spending every last penny you have, and you’re a muslim extremist who wishes to cause as much damage and casualty and panic as possible, surely you would aim higher than less than 100 deaths? You would aim for a 9/11 of your own, or even bigger, surely?

    What I would like to see, is an independent inquiry that focuses on the exact movement of the bombers, that interviews people they knew, family, friends and associates, that tracks their movements on CCTV, that unearths incompetencies within the security services and the mistakes made by the government inquiry. Only that way will the public be satisfied, and only that way can steps be made to tighten security around those who are suspected of terrorist involvement. The inconsistencies and the unanswered questions should have been a priority to answer. They weren’t, and that is overwhelmingly shaming for the previous government.


    Islam and Christianity

    March 17, 2010

    I have wanted to write this blog for a while, but didn’t particularly know how to start it. A lot of this writing comes from the knowledge I gained reading Henry Chadwick, Karen Armstrong, and Voltaire. But I still didn’t have a beginning. Today provided me with that beginning.

    Today is St Patrick’s day. As I was wandering through Leicester city centre, through swarms of happy people with tall green hats and pints of Guinness, I happened across an Irish pub. Outside the pub were six or seven people dancing to Irish music. Pleasingly, dancing side by side, arm in arm, were two men; An old grey haired Irish man with a huge smile across his face as he swayed, dancing quite comically with a young Muslim man also with a huge smile across his bearded (a bit of a failed attempt at beard growth actually) face whilst his friend filmed the entire scenario on his mobile phone. I was struck by the apparent lack of culture barrier between the two. They were just two men, enjoying themselves.

    Meanwhile, in Sheffield, the “English Defence League” plan a march, against Islam. I wondered if this seemingly polarised contrast of values has always existed between the west and Islam? I’d argue that it has. I’d argue that the irrational fear that the contemporary western World seems to have of anything Islamic has been a linear progression since around 900ad.

    During the 10th Century, in Al Andalus (Muslim controlled Spain), Islam was becoming amazingly ahead of it’s time. Cordova especially. Under Muslim control, Christians, Jews and Muslims were allowed to live side by side in peace, as long as respect was shown for each other. The Christians and Muslims shared poetry, literature, and philosophy. It was a golden age for the history of Spain. Typical Christian States at this time, were not allowing such integration to exist, because Jews and Muslims were considered heretics, who should be killed rather than accepted.

    A Spanish Christian outside of Cordova, whom would undoubtedly be a member of the EDL today, once spoke out against this arrangement, arguing that Cordovan Christians had become corrupted by Islam. Paul Alvaro stated:

    The Christians love to read the poems and the romances of the Arabs. Not to refute them, but to form an elegant Arabic. Alas! All young Christians read and study with enthusiasm the Arab books”

    This was an attack on the Christians of Cordova. Christian layman reacted viciously, and started to burn Islamic books and writings in the centre of Cordova. One man in particular, named Perfectus, began to denounce Muhammad publicly. As this began, the Muslim supreme judge known as the Qadi did not pass the death sentence (to insult Christianity, in Christian lands, would have almost certainly resulted in a rather nasty death penalty) because he considered the Christian to have been provoked by both the writings of people like Alvaro, and angry Muslims, so he released Perfectus. But, Perfectus continued attacking the name of Mohammad. And so, without any other option, given the social and historical context of the time, Perfectus was executed by the order of the Qadi under the control of Abd ar-Rahman II. This martyrdom started a fresh wave of anti-Islamic sentiment. Known as the “Cordova Martyrs“, they began to publicly condemn Muslims for being heretics, and did not cease until they were executed. The Muslim court was reluctant to execute people for two reasons. Firstly, they believed it to be wrong to execute people for believing something different. Heresy did not exist for Islam. Disrespect for the Prophet did exist. But heresy, was not a concept Islam understood. Islam expanded at a time of religious plurality in the near East, and so they were used to different beliefs, and did not execute people on that basis. Secondly, they did not want to create a cult surrounding these martyrs. The martyrs were quickly being recognised as soldiers of Christianity. Islam did not provoke nor want a religious war. Christian bishops in Cordova, did not want a religious war. In fact, many Christian bishops and scholars denounced the martyrs as simply out to cause trouble where it was not needed. Slowly, successive Popes started to ban anything slightly Islamic. Koran’s were banned. As was recitation from memory of verses. In contrast, Islamic nations allowed Christian bibles, and Christian debates and discussions, even propaganda from Christians, providing it did not insult Muhammad. Islam, was generations ahead of Christianity both morally and spiritually.

    We can then follow that insecurity, and irrational attacking of Islam or anything that was slightly different, almost directly to Pope Urban II and his attacks on Jerusalem. Perhaps this wasn’t necessarily an all out attack against Islam, but more Papal imperialism. Spreading the power of the West. Using Muhammad and the “heretics” as a predicate for war. As if Urban II was protecting Christianity rather than extending his own power, dominance and wealth. The Jews across the Rhine Valley were victims of Pope Urban attempting to kill off any non-Christians across the known World. Islam and Judaism have a lot more in common then they have differences.

    For the next couple of centuries, false legends were propogated across Europe surrounding Islam and their Prophet. He was the anti-christ, a child molester (which is rich, coming from Catholicism), out to destroy Christianity, Satan himself.

    As the reformation swept through Europe in the 15th and 16th Centuries, it became apparent that Christian ignorance would not go away. Catholics attacked Islam by linking it to Protestantism. They were a breakaway sect of Christianity that denied the Pope’s authority. Similarly, Protestants began attacking Islam by linking it to Catholicism. They worshiped false idols and didn’t believe in faith alone. Even Luther, the hero of the reformation wrote how he considered Europe at risk from being engulfed by Islam; and so the continued irrational fear spread miserably for another century. By 16th Century, the modern historian Norman Daniel points out that Islam was now used as a dirty word. The illiterate European population had no idea what Islam was; had never read the Koran; had never even spoken to a Muslim, but they had all decided through relentless Catholic and Protestant propaganda that Islam was never to be tolerated, purely because Islam held that Jesus was not the chosen Prophet of God.

    In fact, it was not until Voltaire wrote his account of Muhammad, as being a great philosopher and Islam as being far more progressive than Christianity, that anything positive from the West was being written about Islam. Francois Rene de Chateaubriand, the French imperialist writer stated that:

    Christianity is the most favourable to freedom.”

    And that Islamic nations were:

    A Family without a father

    The Western imperialist powers, were apparently that “father“.
    And then rose the British Empire.
    The “us VS them” mentality continued. The Empire marched into Muslim lands and proclaimed that those who lived their, were barbarians who needed the British Empire to improve their lives. Algiers, Aden, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya; all came under imperialist power, and we were horrendously evil in our dealings with our new colonies.

    The writer Boaudricourt of France at the time, wrote what he had known of the British and French expeditions to Africa and our treatment of Islam:

    “About 18,000 trees had been burnt; Women, children and old men had been killed. The unfortunate women particularly excited cupidity by wearing silver ear rings, leg rings, and arm rings. These rings have no catch like French bracelets. To get them off, our soldiers used to cut off their limbs and leave them alive in a mutilated condition”

    And we had the nerve to refer to Islam as barbaric?

    The fear and violence continues right up until today. George Bush in 2004, run his re-election campaigned claiming to have been sent by God, and that America shouldn’t change commander-in-chief during a war. Christian and Western arrogance propagating fear all over again.
    After 9/11, Muslims were viewed with unprecedented fear. As if they were all terrorists who simply “hated our freedom”. The same propaganda that was being used 1000 years ago, was being used again. Screening young muslim men at airports, always telling us that our terrorist threat level was at critical. And yet, the majority of terrorist attacks on U.S soil over the past twenty-years, has been by Christian fanatics. Burnt and bombed abortion clinics, the KKK, the murders of abortion doctors, the Olympic bombing in 1996; all Christian extremists. Why aren’t Christians given the same, if not more level of suspicion given their rather disgraceful past?

    It was inevitably that eventually a generation of disenfranchised Islamic lunatics with delusions of hatred and an irrational bloodlust for Americans and the West was going to arise. When one mad man kills a few people, that’s a psychological issue. When a hundreds of men become radicalised, there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. You cannot simply blame Islam for “hating our freedom”. It simply isn’t true. It’s an ignorant, racist concoction used to feed our arrogance because the West, and Christianity, has always had this delusional sense of superiority.

    Not today. Today, the Irish man and the Muslim man proved that multiculturalism and tolerance work. The linear progression from the Cordova Martyrs, to the English Defence League and the War on Terror, has not prevailed. It is clear that the anti-Islamic prejudice is slowly dying out, on a scale never before seen. This is a fantastic thing.