NATO

Dimbleby Resigns as BBC Propagandist on Question Time

Yesterday, Mike put up a piece commenting on the resignation of former Bullingdon boy David Dimbleby as the host of Question Time. The man Private Eye dubbed ‘Dimblebore’ has been presenting the show for 25 years, and now considers it the right moment to leave. Dimbleby is another BBC presenter, who is very biased towards the Conservatives. Mike’s photograph of him accompanying his piece shows him raising two fingers, with the comment that it’s probably to a Socialist. Mike also cautions against feeling too good about Dimblebore’s resignation, as we don’t know what monster’s going to replace. He wonders whether the secret of human cloning has been found, and whether the next biased presenter of the programme will be Josef Goebbels.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/06/17/if-david-dimbleby-is-leaving-the-bbcs-question-time-what-horror-will-replace-him/

Last week Dimblebore was off in Russia, presenting a documentary about the country under Putin ahead of the footie there. He wasn’t the only, or even the first person to go. The comedian Frankie Boyle got there over a week earlier, presenting a two-part show about the country, it’s people and football on Sunday evening. Dimblebore was rather more serious in tone, presenting Russia as a country in the grip of a repressive autocrat, and mired in corruption which was strangling the economy.

Dimbleby first explained that Putin was most popular with young people, the generation that everywhere else is rebelling against autocrats, dictators and tyrants. He puts this down to Russians’ experience of economic collapse under Yeltsin. Yeltsin ended communism and dismembered the economy of the Soviet Union, privatising whatever he could. The result was chaos, and massive employment. At one point it got so bad that some factories were paying their workers in the goods they produced. Putin has restored order and economic stability to the country, and so has the support of the younger generation.

He spoke to a great of young professionals, an advertising branding team who were supporters of Putin, working to promote him through images and slogans. He stated that most of the media was controlled by the Russian president, with a few exceptions. He then went to speak to someone from RT’s Moscow branch. Dimbleby explained that some of the staff were British, and asked one of the Brits there whether he was presenting propaganda. The man denied it, said that there was no one watching over him, telling him what to do, and that his conscience was clear. Dimblebore then gave a knowing smirk into the camera.

He then talked to a female presenter on one of the few dissident broadcasters Putin had allowed to remain open. She said that she had not received any threats, but she knew that she could be killed for what she did. But she was still determined to carry on.

He then talked about how those, who criticised the government were arrested and jailed, interviewing a human rights lawyer, who defended them. When asked what people could be arrested and jailed for, the lawyer explained that it could be criticism of the government, or a non-traditional understanding of the Second World War. The other year Putin passed a law criminalising the view that Stalin was partly responsible for the Nazi invasion of eastern Europe and Russia through the Nazi-Soviet pact. From what I remember, I think you can also be arrested for promoting gay rights.

He then spoke to a woman, who was protesting her treatment by the state. She had already been jailed for criticising Putin, but was determined to do so again. She had not been able to get a permit to organise a protest, and so held her own, one-woman demonstration outside the court. This is permitted under Russian law. If you can’t get a permit for a demonstration, you can still protest, so long as there is only one person involved. As she stood with her placard, she was joined by an increasing number of counter-protesters determined to disrupt her protest, and possibly send her to jail. They moved closer to her, and she moved away, telling them to keep their distance. They kept coming, and their numbers kept increasing. Then the cops turned up, and started filming things as they’d been told foreigners were involved. And someone else from one of the TV companies materialised to film the protest as well. Eventually it all ended, and the police and counter-protesters disappeared.

Dimbleby then did a piece about the police’s brutal suppression of dissent, complete with footage of the cops beating what looked like a feminist protester from Pussy Riot.

He also touched on gender roles. He talked to a hairdresser, while having his haircut, who told him that Russia still had very traditional gender roles, in which women wanted a strong man to provide for them.

Putin has also succeeded in reversing the declining Russian birthrate. Instead of falling, it is now rising, with medals and benefits given to couples who have large families. He showed one woman and her husband, who were being presented a medal by Putin for having ten children.

He also went off to talk to a youth organisation, that was set up to get children, including boys of junior school age, interested in the army. The group’s name translates as ‘Net’, and is run by army officers. The children there wear combat uniforms and learn to shoot using air rifles, which they are also taught how to strip down. They were shown blazing away at targets, and competing with each other over who could reassemble a gun while blindfolded the quickest, with Dimblebore cheering the winner. And it wasn’t all boys. One of the youngster there looked like a girl. Dimblebore asked them if they wanted to join the army, to which they gave a very enthusiastic ‘Yes’.

He then went off to speak to a prelate from the Russian Orthodox Church about its support for Putin, where he described Putin as an autocrat attacking human rights and threatening peace in Europe. The prelate responded by saying that there were those, who did not agree with his view. And that was that.

He then went off to discuss the massive corruption in Russia, and how this was undermining the economy as more and more investors and companies left the country because of it. Russia has 144 million people, but it’s economy is 2/3s that of Britain, or about the size of Italy’s, and is declining.

Now all of this is factually true. John Kampfner, in his book Freedom For Sale discusses Russia as another state, where the population has made a deal with its leader. They have absolute power, in return for which they give their people prosperity. Except that, according to Dimbleby, living standards and wages are declining. Putin has passed laws against the promotion of homosexuality, there are massive human rights violations, including the jailing of the type of people, who would have been called dissidents under Communism. Journalists, who haven’t toed the Archiplut’s line have been beaten and killed.

Other aspects of the Russian state, as revealed by this programme, would have been immediately recognisable to the generation raised by Communism. Like the corruption. It was rife under Communism. The Bulgarian journalist, Arkady Vaksberg, wrote a book about it, The Soviet Mafia. And Gogol took a shot at official corruption under the Tsars back in the 19th century in his play, The Government Inspector. So no change there.

As for the Russian Orthodox Church supporting Putin, it was always the state church under the tsars, to which it gave absolute support. The watchword of the tsarist regime was ‘Autocracy, Orthodoxy and the People’. And its support of autocratic leadership didn’t begin under Putin. After the restrictions on religion were lifted in the 1990s, the BBC journalists interviewed some of its clergy on their shows. And the clergy had the same preference for absolute state power and total obedience from the people. Putin made the relationship between the Church and his government closer by granting them a sizable share of Russia’s oil.

The youth groups designed to get children interested in joining the army are also little different from what already went on under the Soviet system. Secondary schoolchildren did ‘military-patriotic training’ to prepare them for national service as part of the school curriculum. It was led by retired army officers, who were often the butt of schoolboy jokes. They were taught to handle weapons, complete with competitions for throwing grenades the furthest.

And let’s face it, it also isn’t much different from what used to go on over here. I’ve known young people, who were in the army and naval cadets. And the public schools used to have the CCF – the Combined Cadet Force – which the Tories would dearly love to bring back. And boys, and some girls, do like playing at ‘War’, so I’ve no doubt that if something like the Russian group was set up in this country, there would be many lads and girls wanting to join it.

Russia has also too been a very masculine society with very traditional ideas about gender and masculinity, despite the fact that most engineers were women, who also worked as construction workers and many other, traditionally masculine areas. One of the complaints of Russian women was that the men didn’t do their fair share of standing in queues waiting to get whatever groceries were in store.

And the medals and rewards to the women, who gave birth to the largest number of children is just another form of the Heroic Mother Awards under the Soviet Union. Putin’s Russia continues many of the same aspects of the country’s society from the age of the tsars and Communism, although Dimblebore said the country was going backward.

I’ve no doubt it is, but the programme annoyed me.

What irritated me was Dimblebore’s knowing smirk to camera when the guy from RT denied that he broadcast propaganda. Now I’m sure that RT does. There’s videos I’ve seen on YouTube from RTUK, which could fairly be described as pro-Russian propaganda.

But what annoyed me was Dimblebore’s hypocrisy about it.

The Beeb and Dimbleby himself has also broadcast it share of propaganda supporting western foreign policy interests, including imperialism. Newsnight has finally got round, after several years, to covering the Fascists running around the Ukraine under the present government. But the Beeb has emphatically not informed the British public how the pro-western regime which was put in power with the Orange Revolution, was created by the US State Department under Obama, and run by Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland. Far from being a grassroots movement, the revolution was orchestrated by the National Endowment for Democracy, which has been handling the US state’s foreign coups since they were taken away from the CIA, and one of George Soros’ pro-democracy outfits.

Putin is also presented as the villainous aggressor in the current war in the Ukraine, and some have compared his annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine to the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland. But Crimea had been a part of Russia before 1951, when Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, gave it to that state. And Putin is not looking to take over the country either. The population of Russia is 144 million. Ukraine’s is a little over a third of that, at 52 million. If Putin really had wanted to annex it, he would have done so by now. And under international law, as I understand it, nations are allowed to intervene in foreign countries militarily to defend members of their ethnic group that are being persecuted. That was the pretext for the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, and it’s also the reason why Putin’s invaded eastern Ukraine. But it’s legal under international law. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that Russians, and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, were being persecuted by the new, pro-Western government.

In his documentary, Dimbleby met a very angry, patriotic Russian, who told him that the British had tried to invade Russia three times in the past three centuries. Once in the 19th century during the Crimean War; then in 1922 during the Russian Civil War. And now we were preparing to do the same. He angrily told us to ‘get out!’. Dimbleby looked shocked, and said to him that he couldn’t really believe we were ready to invade.

This was another continuation of the Soviet paranoia and hostility towards the West dating from the Communist period and before. Russia has always felt itself encircled by its enemies since the tsars. But the man has a point. We did invade Russia in 1922 in an effort to overthrow the Communist regime. Pat Mills has talked about this in his presentation on comics he gave to the SWP a few years ago. He tried to get a story about it in Charlie’s War, the anti-war strip he wrote for Battle. This is another piece of history that we aren’t told about.

And when Gorbachev made the treaty with Clinton pledging the withdrawal of Soviet troops from eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism, Clinton in turn agreed that these state would not become members of NATO. He broke his promise. They now all are, and NATO’s borders now extend to Russia. At the same time, western generals and NATO leaders have been predicting a war between Russia and NATO. One even wrote a book about it, 2017: War with Russia. Thankfully, 2017 has been and gone and there has, so far, been no war. But with this in view, I can’t say I blame any Russian, who is afraid that the West might invade at any moment, because it does look to me like a possibility.

And there are other matters that the Beeb and the rest of the lamestream news aren’t telling us about. They’re still repeating the lie that the invasion of Iraq was done for humanitarian reasons, whereas the reality was that western corporations and the neocons wanted to get their hands on Iraqi state industries and privatise the economy. And the American and Saudi oil industry wanted to get their mitts on the country’s oil reserves.

The civil war in Syria is also presented in simplistic terms: Assad as evil tyrant, who must be overthrown, and Putin as his bloodthirsty foreign ally. Assad is a tyrant, and one of the causes of the civil war was his oppression of the Sunni majority. But we are constantly being told that the rebels are ‘moderates’, while the fact is that they still have links to Islamists like the al-Nusra Front, the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Nor have I seen the Beeb tell anyone how the Syrian rebels have also staged false flag chemical weapons attacks against civilians in order to draw the west into the war.

And objective reporting on Israel is hindered by the pro-Israel lobby. Any news item or documentary, which shows Israel’s horrific crimes against Palestinian civilians is immediately greeted with accusations of anti-Semitism from the Israeli state and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. I’ll be fair to the Beeb. Some of their presenters have tried to give an objective reporting of events, like Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin. But they’ve been accused of anti-Semitism, as was Dimblebore himself when he tried to defend them. In this instance, the bias isn’t just the fault of the Beeb. But it is there, and newsroom staff have said that they were under pressure from senior management to present a pro-Israel slant.

Domestically, the Beeb is very biased. I’ve discussed before how Nick Robinson in his report on a speech by Alex Salmond about Scots devolution carefully edited the SNP’s answer, so it falsely appeared that he had been evasive. In fact, Salmond had given a full, straight answer. Salmond’s reply was whittled down further as the day went on, until finally Robinson claimed on the evening news that he hadn’t answered the question.

And numerous left-wing bloggers and commenters, including myself, have complained about the horrendous bias against the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn in the Beeb’s reporting. Dimblebore himself has shown he has a very right-wing bias on Question Time, allowing right-wing guests and audience members to speak, while silencing those on the left. Not that he’s alone here. Andrew Marr has done exactly the same on his programme on Sundays.

Dimblebore is, quite simply, another right-wing propagandist, with the Beeb backing current western imperialism. His smirk at the RT journalist’s denials of doing the same is just gross hypocrisy.

George Galloway: Torygraph Publishes Piece Speculating on Coup to Overthrow Corbyn

This is an excerpt from George Galloway’s Talk Radio Show, which I found on YouTube. He begins with talking about a conversation he had with James Whale, a fellow presenter, about the dangerous situation in the Middle East, where Israel is now facing an Arab, Russian and Iranian enemy. He pours scorn, however, on the juvenile scribblers, as Galloway sees it, who claimed that the missiles shot at the Golan Heights had entered Israel. Galloway states that the Golan Heights were illegally seized by Israel from Syria, and so are not part of Israel, no matter what the hacks say.

He then goes on to talk about Theresa May’s volte face, which has meant that victims of the Grenfell Tower fire will now be allowed onto the board investigating it. After that, he moves on to talking about how the Brexit negotiations are an appalling mess, and the whole affair something which all of us will have difficulty getting out of.

But the main subject of his ire is a piece published by Paul Carter in the Torygraph the day before, which may be 10th May 2018. The Torygraph had speculated on the possibility of a military coup against Corbyn. Galloway describes the article as chilling, and states that its author, Paul Carter, has no footprint in social media. The article claims that this coup would occur if the labour leader was elected to power and proceeded to enact to enact three particular policies. These were conducting a referendum to abolish the monarchy, taking us out of NATO, and taking us out of the western foreign policy consensus. Galloway himself wishes Corbyn would do all these, but the Labour leader will certainly not do any of them. The proximate cause of the Torygraph article is that it is 50 years since Mountbatten and the editor of the Mirror met to plan a coup against the Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson. Galloway states that Wilson was a political giant, who dominated the sixties and much of the seventies. He was right-wing Labour, a social democrat. But he had his house burgled and his mail intercepted because it was suspected that he was a Russian secret agent. If the coup had gone ahead, the country would probably be led by Mountbatten from the Despatch Box, probably from the House of Lords, unless he resigned and fought a bye-election. Not that such constitutional niceties would bother people, who had just overthrown their democratically elected leader.

He also makes the point that there were plans to intern 4,000 other leftists, including journalists, on the Shetland Islands. Galloway himself was too young at the time, but if they did launch a coup against Corbyn, this would be the last you’d hear of him for a long time, unless he managed to get onto Radio Free Shetland. He notes one expert, who has said that it would be much harder to launch a coup now that people have mobile phones and social media. It was easier fifty years ago when it was the editors of the newspapers to overthrow the government. But Corbyn would be wise to keep his mobile phone handy. If they did launch a coup, then millions would pour onto the streets to defended their elected leader? Or would they? Galloway leaves this as a matter of discussion for later in the programme. He says that eventually the plans for the coup were abandoned, because the conspirators thought better, including the government’s scientific advisor, Solly Zuckerman. But Galloway thinks this is false, and that they simply got cold feet.

Galloway then closes the segment with a piece about how popular the woman presenting the weather reports is becoming.

This is worrying, as it looks like a combination of smear piece and speculation by the Torygraph. Corbyn hasn’t any intention of trying to abolish the monarchy, taking us out of NATO or acting against the current foreign policy consensus, so it’s a smear to suggest that he might. The absence of any social media footprint for Paul Carter suggests that this is a pseudonym. And this in turn invites speculation that it’s someone from MI5 or another branch of the security services.

This wouldn’t be the first time MI5’s been acting against the government, if this is the case. The agency was convinced Wilson really was a KGB spy, and Stephen Dorril and Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, have suggested that it was behind the smears circulating then about the Labour leader.

As for the coup they’re discussing, the plotting occurred later than the article claims. Mountbatten and the editor of the Mirror were making their plans in the mid-70s. And the Times was also looking forward to Wilson being toppled, though replaced by a civilian government of trusted members of the Labour party, like Shirley Williams, as well the Tories. These plots are discussed in Francis Wheen’s book, Strange Days Indeed: Paranoia in the 1970s, and by Ken Livinstone in his book Livingstone’s Labour. The date’s out, but otherwise everything that Galloway’s said about the proposed coup is correct. One of the reasons it failed is because one of the plotters approached Sandhurst, to ask if the old colonels there would help. They said they wouldn’t, and sent him away. Hurrah for Sandhurst!

Galloway says at the beginning of his discussion of the article that no-one else was talking about it. Which suggests that this is purely speculation and wishful thinking by the Weirdo Barclay Brothers and the paper’s managing director, Murdoch McLellan, and whoever is now the editor of this wretched rag. The paper’s been running articles attacking Corbyn, claiming that he’s an anti-Semite and so on, along with the Daily Mail. But this shows more than a hint of real desperation. For all the Tory and media talk about ‘peak Corbyn’, it seems they really afraid he’ll win the election. In which case, they want the troops to overthrow him. Not because they’re afraid he’ll do all the things they claim he will, but because his very mild socialist programme will cause the end of the Thatcherite consensus. The corporate rich could no longer look forward to a privatised NHS and railways, and parts of the electricity grid would also be renationalised, would which would also upset corporate profits. Not to mention that they could no longer rely on having a cowed, cheap workforce of the desperate on poverty wages, on zero hours contracts and kept in line by the threat of benefit sanctions and starvation.

This is all too much for the Torygraph and its scribblers. So they’ve started fantasising about the possibility of a coup. Just like the British stock exchange cheered the Fascists when they revolted against the Republican government at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

The Torygraph has just about gone full Fascist with this article. And its publication is more than a bit hypocritical for the Tories. Not after they went berserk and accused Hilary Mantel of encouraging terrorism when she published her short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. But this shows just how far Corbyn has rattled the Tories, and shown how some of them, at least as for the Torygraph itself, have started hankering after a coup to stop him.

Book Review: Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus by Gerard Toal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/05/2018 - 12:02am in

Tags 

georgia, NATO, Russia, USA

In Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest over Ukraine and the CaucasusGerard Toal offers a detailed geopolitical account of the Russian conflicts with Georgia and Ukraine in 2008 and 2014 respectively. While questioning some aspects of the book’s analysis, April Curtis welcomes this as a highly nuanced work that will enable readers to have a deeper awareness of how Russia views its role in relation to its ‘near abroad’ and in the global world order.

Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus. Gerard Toal. Oxford University Press. 2017.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Gerard Toal’s Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus compares and contrasts in deep detail the Russian invasions of Georgia and Ukraine. The book makes a unique contribution to the conversation on this subject due to the fact that it clearly outlines the Kremlin’s thinking with regards to Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 without undercutting Russian claims. In this regard, Toal rightly argues that understanding the conflict from the Russian point of view is not the same as justifying their actions.

The perspective of the book is also rare due to the fact that Toal does not use a standard political lens when analysing the conflicts. Instead, the book is a critical geopolitical analysis that uses the idea of: 1) a geopolitical field: the sociospatial context of statecraft and the actors, rules and spatial dynamics; 2) geopolitical cultures: how states see the world, and; 3) the geopolitical condition: how technologies, both military and communications/media (such as images from a conflict), change how society experiences geopolitics. Throughout the book, Toal also emphasises the role of geography and history in both Georgia and Ukraine. He argues that even though Western politicians see the Russian aggression in black-and-white terms — i.e. an innocent independent state invaded by a bigger neighbour — the unique geographical and historical dynamics of Ukraine and Georgia make such a Western interpretation shallow and insufficient.

Toal accuses the US of suffering from ‘thin geopolitics’. He defines this as thinking in terms of universal abstractions with little understanding of the complicated regional and geographical issues, and as being usually expressed in the form of moral dichotomies, i.e. good versus bad. However, this moral and legalistic approach to international problems is not necessarily as naive as Toal argues. Indeed, he fails to dig deeply enough into why exactly the US would think in this manner. After World War Two, international politics was supposed to have evolved from a system of land-grabbing empires into that of peaceful democracies. No one claimed that the way borders were arranged was agreeable to all parties, however: Europe as a whole had to accept the standing borders or another war would be inevitable. Russia’s blatant disregard for this principle concerns the US, not only because it violates its own ideals, but also because the US sees peace in Europe as fragile.

Image Credit: Tserovani IDP settlement, Georgia (International Crisis Group CC BY SA 2.0)

The basis of Toal’s understanding of the Georgian and Ukrainian conflicts is that the legal doctrine of uti possidetis (‘as you possess’), which formed the legal borders of independent countries after the fall of the Soviet Union, did not address the complexity of dividing an ethnically diverse country with 70 years of interlinking infrastructure into separate sovereign countries. In this sense, Toal is correct. Uti possidetis in the post-Soviet space did not result in easy nation-building, and few, if any, in the West would argue that it was flawless. Yet, the issue with Toal’s criticism of this concept arises when he implies that this complicated heterogeneity of post-Soviet nations partly excuses the Russian invasion of Georgia and Ukraine. In the end, while the idea of uti possidetis did not automatically make strong countries, the fact that Russia does not respect internationally recognised borders is more detrimental to the stability of the region than the process which determined how post-Soviet states were created after 1991.

Another problem with Toal’s geographical argument is that he frequently states that NATO’s expansion and the promises made to Ukraine and Georgia in 2008 at the Bucharest Summit triggered Russia’s actions. He claims that NATO ignored the issue of geography and the complexity of the region following the fall of the Soviet Union by expanding eastwards.  On the contrary, NATO expanded specifically because of geography. Firstly, the former Warsaw Pact countries and Soviet Republics felt uncertain of their security precisely due to their proximity to Moscow. Their geographic location and experiences of being politically controlled by Moscow for the past seven decades incentivised them to apply for membership in NATO. In addition, Toal fails to give NATO’s new members any agency, and skims over the fact that these states made a conscious decision to apply to become part of the Alliance. Secondly, NATO allies accepted new countries because more stable neighbours make for a more secure Alliance. NATO membership required aspirant countries to reform in ways that made Europe in general, and NATO’s original allies specifically, more secure.  Thirdly, independent countries are free to choose their military alliances, and therefore no amount of complex history gives a third party any veto with regards to Ukraine or Georgia joining the Alliance.

Nonetheless, a positive aspect of the book is Toal’s refreshing inclusion of feminist thought. Toal argues that Vladimir Putin believed Russia required remasculinisation following the fall of the Soviet Union; if one is to look at the type of image Putin has created for himself, it seems clear that Toal is correct. As Toal argues, however, the US’s desire to act as the protector of small nations also carries masculine connotations.

Unlike most other analyses, Toal furthermore focuses on the role played by emotions in the decision-making surrounding the two conflicts. These are important aspects to note because political decisions are not always taken because they will result in the greatest good for the nation. Figures such as Putin, Mikheil Saakashvili and Viktor Yanukovych are humans and therefore experience anger, happiness and the desire for revenge. When analysts divorce such important actors from their human characteristics, myths are created around the abilities and actions of the politicians, which can also prohibit a deeper understanding of the conflicts. Toal’s work is notable in the way that it analyses the human, not just the politician.

Overall, Toal offers highly nuanced and developed arguments about the crises in Georgia and Ukraine throughout his book: indeed, it has only been possible to address Toal’s overarching claims in the limited space of this book review. Whether the reader agrees with his perspective or not, the book is worth reading in order to better grasp the complexity of the situation in Ukraine and Georgia. Toal’s book addresses the reasons behind Russia’s actions, rather than whether the Kremlin’s activities were wrong or right. This type of study leads to a deeper understanding of the events, which results in a more complete awareness of how Russia views its role in its neighbourhood and in the global world order.

April Curtis received an MSc in History of International Relations from the LSE. She is currently working at NATO Headquarters focusing on the Alliance’s relations with Russia and Ukraine. April is writing in a personal capacity and the review does not represent the views of NATO as an organisation. Read more by April Curtis.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


The Corporate, Geopolitical Reasons Dragging Us to War in Syria

Now May and the other western leaders are clamouring for air strikes against Assad in Syria following a chemical weapons attack in Douma, which has been blamed on the Syrian president. The dangers of such strikes are immense. Russia has said it will shoot down any American missiles launched against its military. There’s a very real danger that this could flare up into a full-scale confrontation with Russia.

Which may be what our leaders want. After all, various NATO generals were predicting that by May last year, we’d be at war with Russia. One even wrote a book about it with that as the title.

I’m not even sure Assad was responsible for the poison gas attack. I don’t doubt he’s capable of it – he is a thug, and ruthless dictator. But I’ve written several times about false flag attacks involving chemical weapons, which have been staged by the Syrian rebels in order to bring America into the war on their side. And let’s not forget who the Syrian rebels are: the al-Nusra Front, which is the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and ISIS. They aren’t democrats, or people who have any respect for western notions like ‘human rights’. They’re Islamists, of the type responsible for 9/11 and who have, with western armed forces, turned Iraq into a bloodbath.

And whatever humanitarian reasons are being piously spouted by May, Boris, Trump and the others, the real motives are very definitely coldly economic and geopolitical. The Neocons and Israelis have wanted Assad’s overthrow since the beginning of this century. They put together a list of the countries they wanted to invade, which included Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Iran. The Israelis hate Syria because they see it as a threat to their national security, while the Neocons want to do the same to the country as they did to Iraq – seize its oilfields and loot its state industries for the benefit of American multinationals.

And then there’s the Arabs. There’s a coalition of Arab states, led by Qatar, who want to build a gas pipeline up from the Arabian peninsula, through Syria and into Turkey. But Assad’s an ally of Russia, and this would hurt their oil pipeline coming from the east. And so Assad has blocked it. Hence the Arab states have demanded Assad’s overthrow. They even offered to pay the Americans the expenses of going in.

This is a confrontation purely for corporate profit. It has nothing to do with humanitarianism, especially as the rebels have shown themselves more than capable of butchering civilians themselves.

And it is already becoming a real threat to domestic democracy. Theresa May has declared that she wants to declare war unilaterally, without consulting parliament. Mike and the Tweeters, whose opinions he reblogs, have already discussed this and made the obvious point. Kanjin Tor has made a graphic, reblogged by Mike, stating that if May succeeds, then it will be the end of British democracy. We will then become an authoritarian dictatorship exactly like every other.

And I have no illusion that some in the British military will be highly delighted. Going through the history and politics shelves in the Cheltenham branch of Waterstone’s a year or so ago, I found a book by another British general arguing that we needed to give our prime ministers the authority to launch an immediate military response without being burdened with the need for parliamentary debate and scrutiny. Because, you know, national security, and the need for swift action to protect Britain. And so on.

Which, in these circumstances, starts to sound like the kind of things the Nazis said following the Reichstag Fire and Hitler’s declaration of a state of emergency.

Which also raises the awkward question: if she does unilaterally declare war, does that mean that, like the Nazis, she’s going to round up and have protesters interned, as a threat to ‘national security?’

This is all about corporate profit, and in May’s case, trying to turn her into a great warleader like Thatcher and the Falklands. She’s risking a global nuclear holocaust purely for her own electoral advantage and the profits of the multinationals. She’s also a menace to British democracy.

Stop the war, before May and the corporatists kill us all.

Aftermath of the alleged gas attack on Douma, an evolving narrative: Part 1

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/04/2018 - 10:45pm in

It seems almost certain now that the attack on the Syrian airbase near Homs last night was by the Israeli airforce, though we can assume this was with the approval of the USA. While Syria has attacked that airbase before in recent months, the coincidence of timing, less than a day after the alleged “chemical attack” at Douma, obviously raises a lot of questions about what agenda was being served.

The Empire Strikes Backwards

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/04/2018 - 12:19am in

Tags 

NATO, Russia, UK, USA

by John Helmer, Moscow, April 5, 2018 Empires are just like everything else going down the toilet. Bits always stick on the porcelain which require more flushing.  Embarrassing bits. Now in its fifth week since the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on March 4, the bits that cannot be flushed away are producing an odour whose obviousness is embarrassing for  Salisbury Hospital and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The hospital is treating the Skripals for their medical welfare and is required by hospital policy and  UK law to be accountable to their next of kin. Their rights of access to and from the hospital are also required by  European Human Rights Convention.  The evidence now accumulating is that the hospital is detaining and isolating the Skripals against their will, preventing contact with their family. Requested to explain this and identify her legal authority, the response of the hospital’s chief executive, Cara Charles-Barks, is to stonewall. The OPCW, comprising 192 states which have signed, ratified and enacted the Chemical …

Skripal Poisoning – The UK’s Case for Russian Involvement

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/03/2018 - 10:00am in

Earlier this week, over 130 Russian diplomats were expelled from over 20 separate countries. It was billed as a “massive show of unity”, and claimed as further evidence of Russian guilt. The familiar chorus repeated, that there is “no plausible alternative explanation”. So what was the strong evidence that the UK government shared with their allies? It must have been compelling in order to move the EU, US et al. to make moves of solidarity. It’s a slide show. Now, that might not sound like much. But a slide show can be very persuasive. It could have witness testimony, scientific test results, photographic evidence. It could explain motive, provide alibis for other suspects. It could be hundreds of pages of hard evidence laying out a perfect, bulletproof case. It could be all of those things…but in this case it’s not. We have it here, in PDF form. And here is another version. It’s five slides. That’s all, just five. Slide 1: Timeline An incredibly rough timeline of all the important events, skipping over the crime …

Will Killary and the Generals Get Their War with Russia?

The news yesterday that a number of EU countries had followed Britain’s lead and expelled Russian diplomats is alarming. This is ratcheting up the tension with Russia to Cold War levels. Despite the lack of definitive evidence that the Russians were behind the poisoning of the Skripals, May and nearly the rest of the countries in the EU have decided that Putin is responsible. And I’m afraid that the tensions they’re fomenting will ultimately lead to war.

Killary began all this nonsense about Russia interfering in western elections as a way of diverting blame from herself for his massive failure to convince Americans to vote her. She’s a horrible candidate – a massively privileged, neoliberal corporatist, who has absolutely no sympathy for the working class, and whose policies on drugs with her husband actively damaged the Black community. She took working class votes for granted and didn’t even bother to campaign in many traditional Democrat states. Instead, she did what Blair did over here and went chasing the upper and upper-middle classes. As a result, she alienated many voters, who would otherwise have voted Democrat. She did get a million or so votes more than Trump, but lost through the machinations of the Electoral College, a very undemocratic institution that was originally set up to allow slave-holding states to count their slaves as less than human so they would have voting equality with free states. She could have blamed the electoral and demanded its abolition. Many others have. But she didn’t. Obviously, she’s quite happy with that very undemocratic part of the American electoral system.

Unable to accept her responsibility for losing the election, and a strong supporter of the status quo, she turned to blaming Russia. In doing so, she joined a number of far right organisations, including eugenicist groups founded by former Nazis, who believed that the poor and Blacks are biologically unfit and so should be denied state welfare. And even before she lost the election, she showed a very strong hostility to Russia.

From reading articles in Counterpunch, it appears that the current policy in the White House and the Pentagon is for ‘full spectrum dominance’. That means that America should be the world’s only superpower, with an unchallenged military dominance of the rest of the world. What America, and its elite leader, including Hillary Clinton, fear is the rise of the multipolar world. They cannot tolerate the emergence of political and economic rivals, such as Russia, or China, or India, for that matter. Hence the massive increase in military spending. Under Obama’s administration, Hillary’s foreign policy towards Russia and China was militantly hostile and she seemed keen to ramp hostility to both these nations to dangerous levels.

And on this side of the Pond, various NATO generals also forecast war with Russia. One of them, a deputy-head of NATO, actually had a book published a couple of years ago entitled 2017: War with Russia, in which he predicted last year that Russia would invade Latvia, and this would spark a war between Russia and NATO. He predicted it would all happen last May. Fortunately, the month came and went and Russia didn’t. But NATO troops were massing on Russia’s borders, which would serve as a provocation to the Russians. Russia is encircled by NATO bases, and has sent military advisers to the Fascist regime in Ukraine.

As I’ve blogged many times before, much of this renewed American hostility to Russia has nothing to do with concerns about democracy and human rights. It’s purely economic. The American multinationals that poured millions into backing Yeltsin at the end of the Cold War did so in the expectation that the ensuing massive privatisation of Russian state assets would allow them to dominate the Russian economy. But Putin has stopped that. Thus the massive corporate anger against Putin’s Russia. Putin is a thug, who has his critics and opponents beaten and killed, but that’s not the reason the American political elite and their counterparts over here hate him.

I’m very much afraid that this latest round of expulsions will end by creating more tension, in a cycle that will end in a war with Russia, perhaps using a manufactured incident as a pretext for invading them. The pressure the government placed on Porton Down to state that the chemical used to poison the Skripals was definitely Russian is very, very similar to the pressure Blair and his cronies put on MI6 to ‘sex up’ the dodgy dossier and claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that he could launch within 45 minutes. He didn’t. The British and American publics were lied to, and despite massive opposition the west invaded Iraq. And the result has been nearly two decades of chaos and carnage.

And I’m afraid the same process is going on here to create another war for the benefit of the American military-industrial complex and big corporations desperate to get their hands on Russian resources and industries.

It needs to be stopped. Now. Before war really does break out, a war that could see millions die, and our beautiful planet turned into an irradiated cinder.

American “Regime Change War” Was Born in Belgrade 19 Years Ago Today

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 25/03/2018 - 1:43am in

Tags 

NATO, USA, Yugoslavia, Syria

by Adam Garrie, March 24, 2018, Eurasia Future Throughout the 20th century, the US had been in the business of overthrowing governments that it did not like, almost always because such governments did not create conditions unilaterally favourable to US business interests. From overthrowing multiple Latin American governments, most famously the leftist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, to the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in 1953, to the installation of the Pakistani Dictator General Zia who executed the democratically elected Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the US has been ‘changing regimes’ long before the post-Cold War era. However, in the 21st century, the idea of ‘regime change’ went from an unspoken reality to a stated goal among increasingly war-hungry US leaders. A “new world order” – a regime change order After the Cold War, when George H.W. Bush declared a “new world order”, the US and its European allies began backing radical far-right nationalist and Takfiri insurgencies throughout Yugoslavia, beginning in 1991. This resulted in the secession of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and the anti-western and therefore unrecognised Republika …

Craig Murray: Boris Lied When Claimed Porton Down Identified Salisbury Poison as Russian

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/03/2018 - 10:30pm in

My thanks to Michelle, one of the great commenters on this blog, for pointing this out.

Craig Murray, formerly our man in Uzbekistan, before he was thrown out and smeared for having a conscience about dealing with dictators, has an important post up at his blog. And it contradicts what Boris Johnson is trying to tell us all that the Russians are definitely responsible for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Porton Down have submitted their evidence at the court case, which was to decide if they could be permitted to take further blood samples from the Skripals for testing. Their evidence states

The Evidence
16. The evidence in support of the application is contained within the applications themselves (in particular the Forms COP 3) and the witness statements.
17. I consider the following to be the relevant parts of the evidence. I shall identify the witnesses only by their role and shall summarise the essential elements of their evidence.
i) CC: Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst
Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the
findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples
tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent OR CLOSELY RELATED AGENT.

The emphasis is Murray’s. He points out that this means that Porton Down have not positively identified the toxin used as a Novichok, as it could be a closely related agent. And even if it were a Novichok, this would still not mean that it was necessarily manufactured in Russia. The poison could have been produced by any number of states or terrorist/ criminal organisations. This contradicts what Johnson has been telling the rest of the world, including the journos at the German magazine, Deutsche Welle, where he told them that the poison was very definitely Russian.

He concludes

This constitutes irrefutable evidence that the government have been straight out lying – to Parliament, to the EU, to NATO, to the United Nations, and above all to the people – about their degree of certainty of the origin of the attack. It might well be an attack originating in Russia, but there are indeed other possibilities and investigation is needed. As the government has sought to whip up jingoistic hysteria in advance of forthcoming local elections, the scale of the lie has daily increased.

On a sombre note, I am very much afraid the High Court evidence seems to indicate there is very little chance the Skripals will ever recover; one of the reasons the judge gave for his decision is that samples taken now will be better for analysis than samples taken post mortem.

Murray also states that for the last few days he’s come under a Denial Of Service cyberattack, as well as some form of ‘ghostbanning’ for his posts on Facebook and Twitter. He therefore asks people to reblog and repost his article, for which he waives all copyright.

Go to his blog at https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/03/boris-johnson-a-categorical-liar/ for more information.

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