Terrorism

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Robin Simcox’s Racist and Anti-Semitic Links

Further respect to Zelo Street for adding a few more details about Robin Simcox and his membership of some very nasty right-wing organisations. Simcox is professional smirking slime-bucket Priti Patel’s choice for head of the Commission for Countering Extremism. I put up a piece about him yesterday, based on a piece about him in the latest issue of Private Eye noting that Simcox has some views himself that many might consider extreme. Like he’s a Neocon member of the Heritage Foundation, who backs sending terrorist suspect to countries where they can be tortured and further infringement on the rule of law. But that’s not all. According to Wikipedia, the Heritage Foundation denies the reality of climate change and is funded by the American oil giant, Exxon Mobil. It also promoted the false claims of voter fraud. This was done through Hans von Spakovsky, the head of the Heritage Foundation’s Electoral Law Reform Initiative, who made such fears mainstream in the Republican Party. Von Spakovsky’s work, you won’t be surprised to hear, has been completely discredited according to Wikipedia.

The Heritage Foundation, according to the Byline Times, have on their board Rebekah Mercer and her father, Robert Mercer, who funded Breitbart News, which in turn supported Cambridge Analytica. And it was Cambridge Analytica that introduced Donald Trump to Steve Bannon, who founded Parler. But it was Simcox’s links to the racist extreme right that was more worrying to that authors of the Byline Times’ article. In 2019 Simcox spoke at a meeting of the Centre for Immigration Studies. The CIS has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. The CIS has for ten years circulated anti-Semitic and White nationalist materials, included articles written by supporters of eugenics and Holocaust deniers. According to Wikipedia, the CIS’ reports have been criticised as false or misleading and with poor methodology by experts on immigration. The Byline Times stated that in his work for the Heritage Foundation, Simcox promoted the work of several racist and anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, including a supporter of the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, which has inspired many of the extreme right-wing terror attacks in recent years. He’s also been criticised for falsely equating British Islamic organisations with the Muslim brotherhood.

Simcox therefore has links to people, whose views could be described as genuinely Nazi. But as the Street notes, the self-appointed opponents of anti-Semitism are curiously silent about all this.


So who’s making their feelings known about this appointment? “Lord” Ian Austin? “Lord” John Mann? Wes Streeting? Stephen Pollard? John Woodcock? Margaret Hodge? Daniel Finkelstein? Crickets. If only Simcox had been pals with Jeremy Corbyn.

Zelo Street: Tory Anti-Semitism Link – No Problem! (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Quite. But the above weren’t opponents of anti-Semitism per se. They were simply determined to destroy the Labour left and protect Israel and its persecution of the Palestinians. And as Tony Greenstein has shown ad nauseam, Israel has no problem collaborating with real Nazis if it will serve its interests.

The Quilliam Foundation, Set Up By the Spooks

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/04/2021 - 11:05pm in

Hat tip to Zelo Street for posting about this story. And it’s the type of stuff the conspiracy/ parapolitical magazine Lobster was set up to investigate and publicize: the covert shenanigans and dodgy activities of the British, American and western security services. Earlier this week the Quilliam Foundation, an organisation set up to counter Islamist religious extremism, went under. Its demise, as Zelo Street noted, raised the questions of why it had been wound up, considering all the millions had that been spent on it all these years, why its founder Maajid Nawaz had started deleting all his tweets about it, and what was the role of the security services in all of this. Ian Cobain, a former hack with the Groan knew, and told all.

Quilliam had been set up by the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism. He knew this, as the OSCT had told him. The government initially planned to fund it covertly. It would ostensibly be funded by benefactors from the Middle East, but this would be a cover for its real source of income, MI6. However, the government then decided that it should be openly funded by the government, but that this would not publicised. This is now seen as a mistake. It should have been funded by the security agencies, who do it all the time apparently without anyone finding out.

Solomon Hughes also noted that its links to the security services seemed pretty open when it was founded, as early staff included Special Forces Captain Ed Jagger, and a ‘journalist’, who goes by the pseudonym ‘James Brandon’. Both of these men now work private security/ intelligence companies. This was all exposed six years ago by Nafeez Ahmed in an article in the Middle East Eye, ‘The Circus: How British Intelligence Primed Both Sides of the Terror War”. Ahmed revealed that the Quilliam Foundation was set up by Ed Husain and Nawaz with funding from the British government. And this, according to Ahmed, was why it failed, as neither of its founders were actually jihadis.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Husain’s and Nawaz’s claim to expertise on terrorism was that they were never jihadists. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a non-violent movement for the establishment of a global ‘caliphate’ through social struggle, focusing on the need for political activism in the Muslim world. Whatever the demerits of this rigid political ideology, it had no relationship to the phenomenon of al-Qaeda terrorism”.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir spawned a terrorist-supporting offshoot, al-Muhajiroun, which has also, like HuT, been banned in Britain as terrorist organisation. I think it was al-Muhajiroun, which was openly campaigning for donations to go to al-Qaeda from British Muslims at the time of the 9/11 terror attack. If I recall correctly, a couple of these jokers made the mistake of doing so in the street, and some other, ordinary stout Muslims lads showed them how strongly they disapproved of terrorism and mass murder. I think it was because of his role as a leading supporter and campaigner for al-Muhajiroun that Anjem Chowdhry, who never met an Islamist terrorist he didn’t like, apparently, ended up in the slammer. I thought Chowdry was behind the outfit, but it seems he wasn’t. It was founded instead by Omar Bakri. According to the US army intelligence officer and prosecutor for the US Justice Department, John Loftus, after Bakr left Hizb-ut-Tahrir he was recruited by MI6 facilitate Islamist activities in the Balkans. Ahmed concluded his piece by wishing that they could round up all the activists in the Quilliam Foundation and HuT and their handlers, and then put them in a boat on a journey to nowhere, so that everyone else could get some peace.

Zelo Street: Quilliam And The Spooks (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

It’s been Lobster’s contention since its foundation in the 1980s that the British security services are incompetent, out of control and very frequently working against the well-being of this country’s ordinary people. MI6’s recruitment of Bakri to assist in Islamist radicalisation and activities in the Balkans adds further evidence to this view. Years ago I found a book in the Central Library here in Bristol by a Muslim, which suggested that the 7/7 bombings had also been the result of a plot by the British security services. This was part of a wider scheme to keep western troops in the former Yugoslavia, ostensibly to keep the peace, but in reality to maintain control of yet another oil pipeline. I don’t know whether MI6 is so lawless that it was behind the 7/7 bombings – I sincerely hope not – but the revelation that it recruited Bakri to promote Islamism in that part of Europe suggests that there’s something to the idea that it’s all about oil politics. It was to get control of an oil pipeline that we invaded Afghanistan, not to overthrow al-Qaeda or the Taliban. And the Iraq invasion was to grab their oil industry as well as loot the country of its other, valuable state enterprises for the benefit of western multinationals.

And somehow the Quilliam Foundation fits in with this mess of Islamist surveillance and manipulation.

Private Eye on Johnson’s Appointment of Neocon as Anti-Extremism Chief

A few weeks ago the Labour left staged an event on Zoom in which a series of Labour MPs and activists, including the head of the Stop the War Coalition, explained why socialists needed to be anti-war. They stated that after going quiet following the debacles of the Iraq invasion, Libya and elsewhere, the Neocons were being rehabilitated. There was therefore a real danger that the ideology behind those wars was returning, and Britain and America would embark on further imperialist, colonialist wars. And now, according to this fortnight’s Private Eye, for 16th – 29th April, 2021, Boris Johnson has appointed Robin Simcox, a Neocon, as head of the government’s Commission on Countering Extremism. Simcox is a member of the extreme right-wing Henry Jackson Society, firmly backing the wars in the Middle East. He also supported the rendition of terrorists to countries, where they would be tortured, as well as drone strikes and detention without trial. And when he was in another right-wing American think tank, the Heritage Foundation, he objected to White supremacist organisations also being included in the American government’s efforts to counter violent extremism.

The Eye’s article about his appointment, ‘Brave Neo World’, on page 14, runs

Robin Simcox, appointed as the new head of the government’s Commission on Countering Extremism (CCE), has neoconservative view that will themselves seem pretty extreme to many observers. He replaces Sara Khan, the first head of the CCE, which Theresa May set up in 2017 as “a statutory body to help fight hatred and extremism”.

Simcox was researcher at the neoconservative think tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), before leaving for the US to become “Margaret Thatcher fellow” at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He was also a regular contributor to Tory website ConservativeHome, writing there in 2011 that David Cameron was wrong to criticise neoconservatives “what has been happening in the Middle East is proving the neocons right” (ie that invasions could build democracies.

In a 2013 study for the HJS, Simcox argued: “Rendition, drones, detention without trial, preventative arrests and deportations are the realities of the ongoing struggle against today’s form of terrorism; they are not going to disappear, because they have proved extremely effective.” Rendition meant the US and UK handing terror suspects over to nations such as Libya or Egypt so they could be tortured for information. He complained that politicians “failed to adequately explain to the public” why these methods were needed and were “failing to explain that the complexities of dealing with modern-day terrorism meant that not all roads lead to a court of law”.

Simcox spent many years looking at Islamist terrorism, but at the Heritage Foundation he argued that making “white supremacy” the subject of a “countering violent extremism policy” was mostly driven by “political correctness” and could be “overreach”, regardless of the terrorist acts by white racists in the UK, US and elsewhere.

Simcox has been appointed interim lead commissioner of the CCE, possibly because bring him in as a temp means his recruitment wasn’t subject to the same competition and inspection as a permanent appointment.

Johnson has therefore appointed as head of the commission an extreme right-winger, who supports unprovoked attacks on countries like Iraq and Libya. The argument that these invasions were intended to liberate these nations from their dictators was a lie. It was purely for western geopolitical purposes, and particularly to remove obstacles to western political hegemony and dominance of the oil industry in the region. In the case of Iraq, what followed was the wholesale looting of the country. Its oil industry was acquired by American-Saudi oil interests, American and western multinationals stole its privatised state industries. The country’s economy was wrecked by the lowering of protectionist trade tariffs and unemployment shot up to 60 per cent. The country was riven with sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia, American mercenaries ran drugs and prostitution rings and shot ordinary Iraqis for kicks. The relatively secular, welfare states in Iraq and Libya, which gave their citizens free education and healthcare vanished. As did a relatively liberal social environment, in which women were to be regarded as equals and were free to pursue careers outside the home. And western intervention in the Middle East created an environment leading to the further, massive growth in Islamist extremism in al-Qaeda and then Daesh. And this has led to the return of slavery. This was Islamist sex-slavery under Daesh in the parts of Iraq under their jackboot, while Black Africans are being enslaved and sold by Islamists in slave markets that have reappeared in Libya.

Domestically, Simcox’s appointment is also ominous. He clearly doesn’t believe in human rights and the protection of the law. Just as he doesn’t believe in tackling White supremacist extremism, even though at one point there were more outrages committed by White racists than Islamists.

His appointment is part of continuing trend towards real Fascism, identified by Mike over at Vox Political, of which the Tories proposed curtailment of the freedom to demonstrate and protest in public is a major part. At the same time, it also appears to bear out the Labour left’s statement that the warmongers responsible for atrocities like Iraq and Libya are coming back. And I fear very much that they will start more wars.

The people warning against this and organising to defend real freedom of speech is the Labour left, whatever the Tories might say about ill-thought out legislation designed to outlaw ‘hate speech’. We need to support left politicos like Richard Burgon, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Diana Abbott and Apsana Begum. The last three ladies, along with former head of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, held another Zoom event as part of the Arise festival of left Labour ideas, Our right to resist – the Tory attacks on our civil liberties & human rights, in March. We need to support the Stop the War Coalition, because I’m afraid the Tories and the Blairite right in the Labour party will start more wars.

Blair lied, people died. And Johnson lies as easily and as often as other people breathe. If not stopped, the Neocons will start more wars and more innocents will be massacred for the profit of big business.

Hitler’s Propagandakompanien and the Media Support for the Iraq War

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/04/2021 - 9:44pm in

Postscript are a mail order company specialising in books. Leafing through their catalogue for December 2020, I found one on the propagandakompanien, the Nazi reporters, photojournalists and film crew, who were placed in the German armed forces to provide positive coverage of the War. The book’s entitled The Propagandakompanien: Preparation, Development, Training and the Beginning of the Conflict, by Nicholas Ferard, published by Histoire & Collections. The entry for it in the catalogue reads

Formed in 1938, the ‘Propagandakompanien’ (Pk) comprised motorized units of reporters, film cameramen and photographers, all with military training and attached to Wehrmacht, Waffen SS or Luftwaffe forces. Reproducing many of the unit’s wartime photographs, this volume gives a full account of the organisation of the Pk and describes their work in print, film and radio during campaigns in Poland, France and the Eastern Front.

This is chillingly relevant to contemporary media manipulation and particularly the methods used by the American military-industrial complex to ensure media support for the Iraq invasion. Because they’re almost exactly the same. In their book End Times – The Death of the Fourth Estate, Alexander Cochburn and Jeffrey St. Clair of the radical American magazine Counterpunch collect a series of articles describing the way the American media censored itself and produced biased, propagandistic reporting in order to whip up public support for the Iraq invasion and George Dubya’s wretched ‘War on Terror’. And this included embedding journos in military units so that they would develop a positive sense of fellowship with them and so produce favourable reports.

One of the documentaries about the Nazis shown on the History Channel years ago had the simple title The Nazis – A Warning from History. It’s a good title, and far more relevant than I think the series’ producers realised. Because more and more aspects of the Nazi and Fascists regimes are being adopted by the current right-wing and ‘centrist’ administrations in America and Britain. A few days ago Mike on his blog listed the number of features of Fascism that were in Johnson’s Conservative party. It was a long list, and showed very convincingly that Johnson and the Tories are definitely Fascistic, although obviously they’re not quite appearing in uniform and holding torchlight rallies. Well, not just yet. One of the left-wing, anti-racist YouTubers said in an interview that he noticed several years ago that the Tories were adopting policies previously advanced by the BNP as British politics moved rightward. This is true. We are heading towards a Fascist dictatorship, especially with the Tories’ wretched Crime and Policing Bill which seeks to ban any kind of public demonstration if someone thinks its a nuisance or offensive.

And they’re using the same techniques the Nazis’ used to manipulate the media. Except that in Tory Britain, the media is a willing partner.

Colonial Ties, Not Oppression, Is the Best Reason for Granting Asylum

This has been irritating me for some time now, and so I’m going to try to get it off my chest. A month or so ago I went to a Virtual meeting, organised by the left wing of the Labour party, on why socialists should be anti-war. It was part of the Arise Festival of ideas, and featured a variety of speakers all concerned with the real possibility that the war-mongering of Tony Blair, George W. Bush and so on would return. They made the point that all the interventions in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere were motivated purely by western geopolitical interests. Western nations and their multinationals had initiated them solely to plunder and dominate these nations and their industries and resources. One of the speakers was the Muslim head of the Stop War Coalition, who stated that many people from ethnic minorities had supported the Labour party because historically Labour had backed independence for their countries of origin. And obviously the Labour party was risking their support by betraying them through supporting these wars. After the failure of these wars – the continued occupation of Afghanistan, the chaos in Iraq and Libya – the calls for further military interventions had died down. But now these wars were being rehabilitated, and there is a real danger that the military-industrial complex will start demanding further invasions and occupations.

I absolutely agree totally with these points. Greg Palast’s book Armed Madhouse shows exactly how the Iraq invasion had absolutely nothing to do with liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, but was all about stealing their oil reserves and state industries. The invasion of Afghanistan has precious little to do with combatting al-Qaeda, and far more to do with the construction of an oil pipeline that would benefit western oil interests at the expense of Russia and its allies. And the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy in Libya was also about the removal of an obstacle to western neo-colonial domination. These wars have brought nothing but chaos and death to these countries. The welfare states of Iraq and Libya have been decimated, and the freedoms women enjoyed to pursue careers outside the home have been severely curtailed our removed. Both of these countries were relatively secular, but have since been plunged into sectarian violence.

Despite this, one of the speakers annoyed me. This was the head of the Black Liberation Association or whatever Black Lives Matter now calls itself. She was a young a woman with quite a thick African accent. It wasn’t quite what she said, but the tone in which she said it. This was one of angry, indignant and entitled demand, rather than calm, persuasive argument. She explained that the Black Liberation Association campaigned for the rights and self-government of all nations in the global south and their freedom from neo-colonial economic restrictions and domination. She attacked the ‘fortress Europe’ ideology intended to keep non-White immigrants out, especially the withdrawal of the Italian naval patrols in the Med. This had resulted in more migrant deaths as unseaworthy boats sank without their crews and passengers being rescued. This is all stuff the left has campaigned against for a long time. I remember learning in ‘A’ Level geography in school that Britain and Europe had erected tariff barriers to prevent their former colonies competing with them in the production of manufactured goods. This meant that the economies of the African nations, for example, were restricted to agriculture and mining. As for the withdrawal of the Italian navy and coastguard, and the consequent deaths of migrants, this was very much an issue a few years ago and I do remember signing internet petitions against it. But there was one argument she made regarding the issue of the granting of asylum that was weak and seriously annoyed me. She stated that we had to accept migrants because we had oppressed them under colonialism.

This actually doesn’t work as an argument for two reasons. I’m not disputing that we did oppress at least some of the indigenous peoples of our former colonies. The colour bar in White Rhodesia was notorious, and Black Africans in other countries, like Malawi, were treated as second class citizens quite apart from the horrific, genocidal atrocities committed against the Mao-Mao rebellion. The first problem with the argument from colonial oppression is that it raises the question why any self-respecting person from the Commonwealth would ever want to come to Britain, if we’re so racist and oppressive.

The other problem is that the British Empire is now, for the most part, a thing of the past. Former colonies across the globe formed nationalist movements and achieved their independence. They were supposed to benefit from the end of British rule. In some cases they have. But to return to Africa, since independence the continent has been dominated by a series of brutal dictators, who massacred and looted their people. There is an appalling level of corruption to the point where the FT said that many of them were kleptocracies, which were only called countries by the courtesy of the west. Western colonialism is responsible for many of the Developing World’s problems, but not all. I’ve heard from a couple of Brits, who have lived and worked in former colonies, that they have been asked by local people why we left. These were older people, but it shows that the end of British rule was not as beneficial as the nationalists claimed, and that some indigenous people continued to believe that things had been better under the Empire. But the culpability of the leaders of many developing nations for their brutal dictatorships and the poverty they helped to inflict on their people wasn’t mentioned by this angry young woman. And that’s a problem, because the counterargument to her is that the British Empire has vanished, and with the handover to indigenous rule British responsibility for these nations’ affairs ended. It is up to these countries to solve their problems, and we should be under no obligation to take in people fleeing oppression in these countries.

For me, a far better approach would be to stress old colonial ties and obligations with these nations. Part of the ideology of colonialism was that Britain held these countries in trust, and that these nations would only remain under British rule until they developed the ability to manage themselves. It was hypocritical, and I think there’s a quote from Lord Lugard, one of the architects of British rule in Africa, about how the British had only a few decades to despoil the country. Nevertheless, it was there, as was Kipling’s metaphor of the ‘White Man’s Burden’, in which Britain was to teach these nations proper self-government and civilisation. It’s patronising, because it assumes the superiority of western civilisation, but nevertheless it is one of paternal responsibility and guidance. And some British politicians and imperialists took this ideology very seriously. I was told by a friend of mine that before Enoch Powell became an avowed and implacable opponent of non-White immigration with his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, he sincerely believed that Britain did have an obligation to its subject peoples. He worked for a number of organisations set up to help non-White immigrants to Britain from her colonies.

It therefore seems to me that supporters of non-White migrants and asylum seekers would be far better arguing that they should be granted asylum because of old colonial ties and kinship in the Commonwealth and continuing paternal obligations, rather than allowed in as some kind of reparation for the oppression of the colonial past.

The first argument offers reconciliation and common links. The other only angry division between oppressed and oppressor.

Ecuador, Socialism and the Destruction of Democracy in Latin America

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 9:06pm in

Last night the Arise Festival, a series of events organised by the left-wing of the Labour party, staged a zoom talk about a possible socialist victory in the coming Ecuadorean elections, and the way the neoliberal right across the continent were trying to prevent left-wing parties and movements from forming governments. The speakers included Latin American journalists and activists as well as Brits. I regret that I was able to get no more than ten minutes of it. But what I did see was chilling.

The neolibs are clinging on to power, not through winning elections, but through using the legal system to ban and imprison their opponents on trumped up charges. In one country, the socialist party was banned from standing because the judges ruled they supported terrorism, all without any evidence or indeed any terrorism. The leading left-wing politico in Brazil, Lula, was falsely jailed on corruption charges, but has now been freed after spending 19 months in jail. And the president of one of the Latin American countries, Moreno, actually took power as a socialist but then, on obtaining office, declared that he was really a man of the right and started implementing right-wing policies.

I found this all particularly chilling as it could easily happen over here. The Tories are trying to scrap the protections Brits have under the European convention on human rights. The current wretched police and crime bill seeks to ban any protests or demonstrations they don’t like if they decide it’s going to cause a nuisance. I can see them using the judiciary to try to outlaw left-wing parties and falsely imprison politicians and activists, just as their counterparts are doing in Latin America. And Starmer is very definitely a neoliberal, but is trying to get into power by claiming he supports Corbyn’s left-wing programme.

This is all extremely frightening. So I stand in solidarity with the Latin American democratic left and urge everyone to reject the Tories’ assault on our traditional freedoms over here.

Boris Says There’s No Money to Pay Nurses, But Has Millions to Spend on Atomic Weapons

Mike’s put up an excellent and disturbing article today, which shows very clearly where Boris Johnson’s priority’s really are. He’s planning to reverse the proposed reduction of Britain’s nuclear arsenal to 180 warheads and increase it instead to 260. As the peeps on Twitter have pointed out, this is a 45 per cent increase. It’s supposed to be in preparation for a possible terrorist attack using chemical or nuclear weapons by 2030. ‘Russ’, one of the critics of this insane proposal, has asked what Boris intends to do in the event of an attack like 9/11, when the terrorists came from four different countries. Would he launch those missiles at four different capitals? He states ‘Not a chance. Idiotic, dangerous, flashy bullshit.’

The question about 9/11 is a very good one. The vast majority of the plotters came from Saudi Arabia, and there is very, very strong evidence that responsibility for the attack goes all the way to the very top, to country’s present king or his head of intelligence. But George Dubya and Blair didn’t order reprisals against Saudi Arabia. Instead, we invaded Afghanistan. The country was indeed hosting Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the organisation responsible for it. But I’ve also heard that the Afghans denied all knowledge of the plot and offered to surrender bin Laden to the Americans, but were ignored. The American military were planning the possibility of invading Afghanistan several years before in order to control a planned oil pipeline passing through it.

Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was also accused of complicity with 9/11, and Blair was scaremongering about Hussein having weapons of mass destruction that could be launched within three quarters of an hour. This was also a lie. The real reason for the invasion was, once again, oil. The American and Saudi oil companies wanted Iraq’s reserves and its oil industry, while American multinationals also wanted to get their grubby mitts on the country’s state industries. The actual cost to the Iraqi people has been horrendous. The country’s tariff barriers were lowered as part of a plan to create the low tax, free market state the Neo-Cons dreamed about, with a result that every nation dumped their excess goods there, undermining its domestic businesses. The result was soaring bankruptcy and unemployment. The country’s welfare state was destroyed, as was the ability of women to pursue a career in safety outside the home. The country was riven by sectarian violence, and the mercenaries used as part of the invasion force ran amok, running drugs and prostitution rings. They also shot ordinary Iraqis for sport. The Allied forces also used depleted uranium and other highly toxic materials in their armaments, with the result that the country also has a horrendously high rate of birth defects.

And now Boris wants more nukes. Does he intend to use them on further victims of western imperialism, countries deliberately and wrongfully blamed for terrorist attacks just to further western geopolitical and commercial goals? Mike also suggests that it seems to him that Boris is planning to start some kind of war with a country on or near the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and would like to set off a few nukes to show how tough he is.

This is all too possible. The American radical magazine, Counterpunch, published an article a few years ago arguing that the American military was set on a policy of ‘full spectrum dominance’. This meant that it was to remain the world’s only superpower with the ability to destroy or conquer any other country that could threaten it. And it looked very, very much that Hillary Clinton, who claimed to be terribly offended by the treatment of Meghan Markle, was preparing for a war with China. Lobster has also published a very detailed article arguing that, despite the rhetoric and posturing about the Chinese threatening western security interests in the South China Sea, the Chinese actually aren’t any danger at all. But they do threaten the global American commercial power both in practice and at an ideological level. The Americans believe in deregulation and free trade, while in China capitalism is regulated and state-directed. The global struggle between America and China is partly about which model of capitalism should be dominant.

And then there’s the issue of whether you could ever use a nuclear bomb in the event of a terrorist attack. From the 1970s to historic Good Friday peace agreement in the ’90s, Northern Ireland and Britain suffered terrorist violence and bombings. In Ulster this was by Irish Nationalist and Loyalist paramilitaries, while in Britain the bombings were carried out by the IRA. Following 9/11, one of the critics of the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq asked whether Britain would have used the same tactics of mass bombing and air strikes on Northern Ireland in response to the IRA’s terrorism. Of course we wouldn’t, although we did send troops there to suppress it. There’s a real possibility that, thanks to Brexit, the Good Friday Agreement could break down and Ulster could once again fall into violence and bloodshed. Which also raises the spectre of further terrorist bombings in Britain. Would Boris nuke Derry or Belfast in response? I doubt it. At the same time, many of the Islamist terrorists responsible for atrocities in Britain seem to be homegrown, Muslim Brits who come from ordinary, peaceful families, but who have been radicalised by Islamist propaganda on the Net or from some firebrand preacher in a British mosque. Obviously, Boris isn’t going to use it in Britain itself.

There’s also the danger that if Boris every uses them against a foreign enemy, it’ll pitch the world into a nuclear war that will end very quickly with the destruction of the planet. I can remember the late, great Irish comedian Dave Allen commenting on this in one of his shows on the Beeb during Reagan and Thatcher’s New Cold War of the 1980s. ‘Do you know,’ he said in his tobacco and whisky cured voice, ‘that there are enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world three times. Three times! Once is enough for me!’ It was a profound relief for millions around the world when Reagan and Gorbachev signed their arms limitation agreement in Iceland. That, and the collapse of Communism, promised the beginning of a better world, where we wouldn’t have to fear nuclear annihilation. Well, it was until India and Pakistan looked set to nuke each other later in the ’90s.

But now those dreams of a better, more peaceful world are fading as Boris once again wishes to send us all back to the days of Thatcher and the Cold War. Thatcher was vehemently in favour of keeping Britain’s nuclear deterrent. So much so that she falsified the results of an experiment to estimate the results of a nuclear war on Britain. The experiment showed that it would end with the country’s major cities reduced to nuclear cinders. This was too much for the leaderene, who had the parameters of the projection altered to give the results she wanted. But this still would have resulted in millions dead, and so she had the parameters altered again to show that Britain would have survived with minimal damage. By which time the whole exercise had to be scrapped as it was completely unreliable.

Michael Foot, the leader of the Labour party at the time, favoured unilateral nuclear disarmament. He was right, but the Tories and their puppet press viciously attacked him as some kind of fool or traitor, who would give in to the evil Commies. The complaint of many Tories was that he would give our nuclear weapons away. Unlike Maggie, the bargain basement Boadicea, as I think Roy Hattersley once called her.

It looks very much like Boris is playing the same game. He’s wrecking the economy, destroying the health service and welfare state, but he’ll have the right-leaning part of the British public praising him for standing up to those evil foreigners and protecting the country with nukes.

And all the while he’s claiming that there’s no money to give the nurses and other hardworking, front-line professionals anything more than what is in reality a derisory cut in wages. Which is clearly a lie. But it does remind me of what Goering once said:

‘Guns will make us powerful. Butter will make us fat.’

He’s following the Nazis in deliberately starving people while splashing the cash on arms.

For further information, see: Nuclear bomb announcement sends clear message: warmonger Johnson has cash to KILL, not heal | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

No, It Is Not Anti-Semitic To Question Whether Jews Are An Ethnic Minority

Ever keen to bash the Beep, the Torygraph printed another story yesterday accusing the Corporation of anti-Semitism. Benjamin Cohen, the CEO of Pink News, had been invited on to Politics Live to debate whether Jews should be included as an ethnic minority in the national census. Coming out of the show, Cohen tweeted how offended he was by the question, and that he was the only Jewish person facing a panel of four gentiles. He was absolutely sure that Jews should be treated as an ethnic minority, and asked rhetorically if the Beeb would have asked that question of a Black or Asian guests.

Actually, it’s a very good question whether Jews are an ethnic minority, and colour is a part of the issue. Before the rise of biological racism, Jews were largely persecuted in Christian Europe because of their religion. The persecution generally ceased if they converted. Before the outbreak of Nazism and the horrors of the Third Reich, the majority of Jews in Europe did not wish to be seen as a separate people from those the countries in which they lived. The British Jewish establishment opposed the Balfour Declaration because they believed that Jews were ‘Englishmen of the Jewish religion’. The British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, they feared, would lead to Jews being viewed as foreigners, whose ultimately loyalty was to the new state, rather than loyal British citizens.

Even now there is a healthy debate within Judaism about whether it is a ethnic group, a religion or a descent group. Not all Jews are happy with being considered an ethnic minority. The comedian, opera director and broadcaster, Dr Jonathan Miller, is one of them. One of the team of satirists in Beyond the Fringe, along with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett, Miller was once introduced as a Jew on a programme covering the jolly funsters. Miller responded by stating that he was a ‘Jewish’. He had not interest in being an ethnic minority.

Jews also differ from the other groups regarded as ethnic minorities in terms of race, and socio-economic status. Traditional, indigenous European Jews are White, as the founder of modern scientific racial classification, Ludwig Blumenbach, maintained. Some of them, like Tracy-Anne Oberman, are more ‘Aryan’ in appearance than the Nazi scumbags, who abuse them. Which shows how wrong scientifically Nazism is, as well as evil. Where there has been anti-Semitic abuse and violence, it has been generally directed against Orthodox Jews, no doubt because of their characteristic dress and appearance.

The British Jewish community is also largely more prosperous than other ethnic groups. The mighty Tony Greenstein has cited sociological studies that have shown that 60 per cent of British Jews are upper middle class. Furthermore, while there is still anti-Semitic persecution and hostility, Jews don’t suffer from the same level of prejudice as Blacks and Asians. Tony again has quoted statistics showing that 77 per cent of Brits have positive views of Jews. Those that don’t generally regard them as no better or worse than anyone else. The number of people with negative views of Jews has risen from 5 to 7 per cent, but they’re far outweighed by the mass of the Brits who don’t share their opinions. This is no doubt one of the reasons the NF decided to stop goose stepping about in Nazi uniforms in the 1970s. When National Action turned up in Liverpool a couple of years ago screaming their hatred, the good peeps of that fair city, including socialists and trade unionists, chased them out of town. Literally. They had to retreat to the train station to await the next train out of there.

While the persecution of the Jews has been particularly vicious, it’s reasonable to compare it to the persecution of dissident Christian groups in Europe. Such as the Manichaean heretics in the Middle Ages, and Protestants in Roman Catholic countries. In Britain before Roman Catholic emancipation and the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, Catholicism was banned. It had to go underground in Ireland, and worship was carried out at secret locations in the countryside. British Protestant nonconformists, such as Quakers, Baptists and Methodists, were barred from serving on juries or in local and national government. By law their chapels had to be built five miles away from towns. You can also compare the British Jewish community’s current prosperity with the Quakers. The actual membership of the Society of Friends was small, but they became influential and prosperous businessmen because of their exacting standards of commercial conduct. You could trust them. A book I read a few years ago on the history of the Jewish people, written by an Anglican clergyman, made the same claim about them. The Jewish laws governing food purity meant that, if you bought a wheaten loaf from a Jew, that’s exactly what you got. Instead of being full of cheats determined to defraud gentiles, Jewish businessmen could be trusted. As for the traditional Jewish prohibition against marrying outside the religion, there are also Christian sects, such as the Exclusive Brethren and Particular Baptists, who also reject marriage with those outside the sect.

In short, Jews are integrated and accepted into British society to a far greater extent than Blacks and Asians, who are obviously different because of their colouring, dress and religion. Muslims are particularly subject to suspicion and abuse following 9/11, and are, with Blacks, generally poorer and more marginalised than the rest of British society.

I suspect the issue here isn’t so much about the question of whether Jews constitute an ethnic group in themselves, but over the benefits membership of an ethnic minority confers. Ethnic minorities are specifically protected by law against persecution, and in the case of Blacks and Asians may be assisted by affirmative action programmes. Even though Jews don’t suffer the level of violence and prejudice that Blacks and Asians do, they are still regarded as particularly vulnerable. As a result, they enjoy a degree of protection far greater than other ethnic minorities. For example, there’s the Community Security Trust, a paramilitary vigilante set up to protect Jews, synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other Jewish sites and monuments from attack. The group is supposedly trained in self-defence by members of the Israeli security services. This is, as far as I know, unique. I am not aware of any other ethnic group or religion being permitted their own private police force. Far from it. When the Islamofascists in London launched their Muslim Patrols harassing non-Muslims outside their mosques, they were rightly pounced upon by the authorities and arrested. But the CST is allowed to continue, stewarding Zionist and pro-Israel rallies despite reacting violently to counterdemonstrators. At several of these rallies, Muslim and Jews marching together in protest against Israel were forcibly separated and beaten. The victims included elderly Jewish women and rabbis.

The Zionist Jewish establishment were also able to exploit the general high regard and acceptance of Jews in British society by mobilising it to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his followers as anti-Semites. This is part of the general ultra-Zionist campaign to suppress criticism of Israel and its monstrous persecution of the Palestinians. Mass rallies and protests were arranged, and the lies and mendacious denunciations repeated in the national news and press.

Other ethnic groups have not nearly received such sympathy and support. For example, while the Labour party actively complied in the witch-hunt against suspected anti-Semites in the party, it has been extremely reluctant to investigate and punish those responsible for the racist bullying of Black and Asian MPs and activists. Probably because the racist bullies were the Blairite plotters and saboteurs, who collaborated with the anti-Semitism smear campaign as part of their own attempts to oust Corbyn. The affirmative action programme designed to assist Blacks and Asians achieve the same level of prosperity and acceptance as Whites are still extremely controversial. And rather than support allegations of racism by members of those ethnic groups, the reaction of the right-wing press has largely been to denounce them.

It therefore seems to me to be a good question whether Jews should be treated as an ethnic group, rather than simply a religion practised or not by some Brits, not so very different from various traditional Christian sects, which were also persecuted by which are now accepted as integral parts of British culture. I think that the determination by Jews like Cohen to retain their demarcation as an ethnic minority is doubtless partly motivated by a quite understandable fear of the return of the biological racism which led to the monstrous horrors of the Holocaust.

But I also wonder how much also comes from Zionist ideology. The IHRA definition of Zionism claims that it is anti-Semitic to deny Jews their national aspirations. Jews are a nation, and so it is supposedly anti-Semitic to deny them the right to their own state, Israel. But these national aspirations become highly questionable if Jews are not seen as a nation or ethnic group, but as a religion. Zionism becomes spiritual, not political. Jerusalem and Israel become the spiritual centres of the Jewish faith, just as Christians regard them as the spiritual centres of their religion. But this does not necessarily translate to a desire to return to the Promised Land. Some Jewish denominations removed the traditional Passover toast, ‘Next year in Jerusalem’. Many other Jews simply repeated it as part of the revered ritual celebrating their deliverance from Pharaoh’s persecution in Egypt without actually meaning it.

All this makes me wonder whether the Torygraph’s article isn’t really about whether British Jews really constitute a separate ethnic group or not, but whether it’s was just a way of exploiting the anti-Semitism witch hunt to attack the Beeb, a favourite Tory target, on the one hand, while subtly trying to reinforce support for Israel on the other.

Media Completely Ignore American Secret Agent’s Trial for Terrorism in Venezuela

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/02/2021 - 4:30am in

CARACAS — Unless you read the local Venezuelan press, you are unlikely to know that an American secret agent is currently standing trial in Venezuela on charges of terrorism and weapons trafficking.

Matthew John Heath was arrested in September outside Amuay and Cardon oil refineries in possession of a submachine gun, a grenade launcher, C4 explosives, a satellite phone and bricks of $20 bills. The Venezuelan government also alleges that he was found carrying a small coin or badge that CIA employees use to prove their identity to one another without raising suspicions. On Wednesday, Heath pled not guilty to all charges.

Situated in Falcon state in the west of the country, the Amuay and Cardon facilities are the largest refineries in the oil-rich nation, considered an enemy of the United States since it elected socialist president Hugo Chavez in 1998. The facilities have been the site of controversy before: in 2012, a fire at the plants killed 55 people; after conducting hundreds of interviews with experts and witnesses and carrying out over 200 inspections and technical tests, the Venezuelan government claimed that the evidence of sabotage was “overwhelming.”

 

A spy falls

A former marine, Heath is also widely reported to have been a CIA agent, serving the agency as a communications operator between 2006 and 2016, at which time he took a job at security firm MVM (for obvious reasons, the CIA does not confirm or deny the identity of its staff). Although MVM is technically a private company, it was founded by three former Secret Service agents and continues to work closely with Washington. According to business directory Dun & Bradstreet, the firm “provides security staffing and consulting services, primarily to U.S. government entities.” Indeed, the only clients listed on its website are American government agencies. “Need a secret agent?” begins its description of the company.

There is not a hint of this, however, on MVM’s public-facing website, which describes the organization as merely “providing extensive domain expertise in the areas of counter-narcotics, criminal and civil investigations, public safety, and national security.” MVM’s 800 employees, it states, are here to offer “professional and administrative services, … informational technology services, … and mission solutions.”

This follows a broader trend of the U.S. government outsourcing clandestine operations to private contractors — a process that ensures there is less accountability and public scrutiny, as well as one that keeps its more controversial actions at arm’s length. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” said Allen Weinstein, cofounder of the National Endowment for Democracy, an organization that funds pro-American groups worldwide.

 

Radio silence

One might think that a supposedly innocent American citizen on trial for terrorism inside a hostile enemy country, facing decades behind bars in Venezuela’s notorious prisons, would spark a nationwide media furor — especially as Heath claims that he was tortured while incarcerated. But far from it. In fact, there has been zero mention of the case in national U.S. media this week, including nothing in The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, The Washington Post, Fox News, or USA Today. This is striking, as the news was published on the largest newswire service, Reuters, meaning that virtually every outlet in the West must have seen it and could freely republish it themselves or use its material for a story.

Virtually the only Western media outlets touching the story were local news stations in Tennessee, Heath’s home state. Yet none of those outlets mentioned Heath’s alleged background as a secret agent, nor the incriminating items in possession of which he was arrested, rather presenting him as a completely innocent victim of an authoritarian regime. Few even offered an explanation as to why, amid a raging pandemic, he would leave the U.S. and go to Venezuela of all places. NBC affiliate WBIR Channel 10 was the only exception, claiming he had traveled there to gain “more boating experience,” a defense that is unlikely to convince many Venezuelan prosecutors.

The State Department, which rarely misses an opportunity to denounce Venezuela’s Maduro government for human rights transgressions, has also been largely silent over the case. Its entire comment on the situation amounts to one tweet from spokesman Ned Price, in which he tepidly asks Venezuela for a “fair trial.”

 

Limited hangout

The deafening silence from Washington and from corporate media suggests that Heath was indeed in Venezuela on official business and that the government has made a conscious decision to cut ties to him, leaving him to his fate so as to not draw more attention to its own actions. Kicking up a storm of protest would entail inviting far more scrutiny upon itself and potentially losing any plausible deniability that it is not engaged in a campaign of international terrorism against the South American nation.

The United States has been carrying out a decades-long push for regime change against the Venezuelan government, supporting coup attempts, funding and training political movements, and propping up self-declared president Juan Guaidó as the country’s rightful ruler. In January, the U.S. lost its most powerful ally in the cause, as the European Union chose to stop recognizing Guaidó after he lost his seat in the Venezuelan National Assembly in recent elections.

Earlier in the year, the U.S. was similarly caught with its hand in the cookie jar, after two former Green Berets led an amphibious invasion on Venezuela with the goal of shooting their way to the presidential palace and installing Guaidó as dictator. The attempt failed spectacularly, and few of the heavily armed fighters managed to even make it to land, the event quickly being dubbed Donald Trump’s “Bay of Piglets.” Trying to defend themselves, the American mercenaries implicated a number of key figures, including Trump himself, as well as former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince. The coup plotters even claim they met at the Trump Doral resort in Miami. Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put out a half-hearted denial, claiming only that “there was no U.S. government direct involvement” in the botched coup attempt.

Heath’s case is the latest in a series of U.S. cloak and dagger moves against the Caribbean nation. Whether he is found guilty or not, it appears that he will be receiving no help from the U.S. government. When things go wrong in espionage, you are apparently on your own.

Feature photo | Items found on Heath at the time of his arrest according to Venezuelan authorities. Photo | Venezuelan Foreign Ministry

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Media Completely Ignore American Secret Agent’s Trial for Terrorism in Venezuela appeared first on MintPress News.

‘Except by Chance’: The Christchurch Inquiry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/02/2021 - 9:25am in

Extending and recapitulating the War on Terror

In December last year, a New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) presented in an extensive report the findings of its investigation into the ‘March 15th terrorist attacks’ on two Christchurch mosques. Led by a Supreme Court judge and a former New Zealand diplomat and ambassador, the inquiry had been originally tasked with determining the conditions and causes of the attacks, and examining the events and activities leading up to them—those that revolved around the life of the perpetrator, as well as those that concerned the actions (or inaction) of ‘relevant Public sector agencies’. Costing $17 million, spanning almost two years, and drawing on a broad range of material—from the investigation of the various agencies, to the engagement of international experts, to consultation with Muslim communities and organisations—the report is the state’s final say on the matter of the attacks. It is as if, in seeking to produce a conclusive account of the event, the inquiry aspired to bring it to closure.

Shaped by a tortuous and halting process, and marred by various complications as well as several extensions to its deadline, the final report has met with uncertainty. While New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern expressed immediate and enthusiastic support for the inquiry’s findings and officially agreed, in principle, to all of its recommendations, others quickly pointed to its limitations and failures. In particular, the inquiry has been criticised for its exceptional lack of transparency and its eschewing of any open consultation procedures, including in the framing of its terms of reference, in the compiling of evidence and submissions, and in the release of its findings. This has resulted in a very limited mandate, which from the outset foreclosed any possibility of prosecution or even determination of liability. In addition, hearings and interviews with state agencies and actors were, notably, conducted in private, and precluded any contestation of evidence from the individuals or groups engaged by these bodies. Most egregious, however, is the issuing of suppression orders on information gathered in the process, which will only become available to the public after thirty years. This includes over 70,000 pages of evidence and submissions, detailing interviews with hundreds of Crown, government and public-sector agencies. 

For many in Muslim and left communities, the ineffectiveness of the inquiry was a foregone conclusion well before the release of the report. Given the limitations set by the terms of reference in particular, it was clear early on that the question of ‘accountability’ was one unlikely to be resolved. However, this call for accountability resonated to begin with, and continues to do so, with good reason, even as it continues to meet with disappointment. As the relationship between the state and organised white supremacy in Western plutocracies becomes increasingly characterised by outright and unapologetic collaboration, more recently spectacularised at Capitol Hill, accounting for violence and loss of life becomes a site of cruel optimism: an insistent if precarious appeal to justice with little hope of its attainment. Thus it is worth considering not so much what the inquiry failed to do per se but what it achieved in its failure, as well as what it revealed in its lack of disclosure. To cite Sara Ahmed’s well-known description for things that work because they fail to deliver what they promise: what is the ‘nonperformative’ of the inquiry and its report? 

At the very least, we might consider how, with unerring though likely unwitting proficiency, the report essentially acts as an endorsement of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). Over perhaps the last decade, CVE has emerged as the most significant and widely circulating development in counterterrorism policy, its tenets easily proliferating across the globe and readily adopted by governments and policymakers as well as a variety of ‘stakeholders’. This last term carries the kind of ambiguity appropriate to the mandate and work of CVE. As a program that ostensibly strives for a ‘holistic’ approach to counterterrorism, it incorporates and mixes various discourses, techniques and technologies from public and private as well as civil sectors. From outreach and engagement, to capacity building and education, to public relations and development aid, to joint surveillance partnerships between policing and non-policing institutions, the expansive range of strategies used in the CVE framework reflected a novel development in the techno-politics of the War on Terror, the result of which has been a form of counterterrorism that appears less like a set of government policies and more like an industry. 

Here in Aotearoa, CVE first made its appearance in academia in recent years, where it brought together a range of institutions including the university, psychology, police, corrections, the Human Rights Commission and Muslim community organisations in a fledgling attempt to establish a foothold. Given its stated aim as a ‘preventative’ rather than ‘reactionary’ measure, the lack of anything resembling organised or historical forms of ‘extremism’ does little to diminish CVE’s entitlement to institutional presence. Organised around an anticipatory and future-oriented logic, the program’s legitimacy is mandated retroactively, the projected possibility of future violence having always already been established. Now, with this possibility having been realised, the presence of CVE has not only been ideologically vindicated but also acquired quasi-formal approval by the RCI’s final report. 

A glossary reading of the report’s recommendations is enough to appreciate the robust nature of this mandate. From a list of forty-four recommendations, almost half centre on counterterrorism and the expansion of its existing apparatus, while the remaining set is unevenly distributed between sections on ‘firearms licensing’ and ‘social cohesion and diversity’—with only a meagre three dedicated to the needs and well-being of survivors and affected families. Alongside establishing a new national intelligence and security agency that is ‘well-resourced’, the report explicitly recommends ‘developing a counter-terrorism strategy which includes countering violent extremism’. Part of this would be a significantly expanded framework for ‘information sharing’ between various agencies and the provision of ‘horizon scanning supported by deep expertise’, as well as establishing a new advisory group on counterterrorism, alongside an elaborate funding program for research on violent extremism and terrorism. 

In the executive summary of the report, the authors insist that ‘full implementation of our recommendations will result in a better organised counterterrorism effort with enhanced capacity and capability and a less restrictive legislative framework’. The ominous naivete of such an expression of intent is carried further when they continue: ‘we wish to see discussion about counter-terrorism normalised’. As they elaborate, the full scope as well as duplicity of what has recently been described in critical scholarship as ‘CVE mania’ is placed on display: 

Since 2015, successive governments have been reluctant to proceed with a public-facing counter-terrorism strategy. One reason for this was to avoid stigmatising Muslim communities further. But, had such a strategy been shared with the public and also incorporated a ‘see something, say something’ policy, it is possible that aspects of the individual’s planning and preparation may have been reported to counter-terrorism agencies. With the benefit of hindsight, such reporting would have provided the best chance of disrupting the terrorist attack.

A remarkable passage, which through an astounding turn of historical amnesia posits an entirely fictional concern with ‘stigmatising Muslim communities’ as evidence of the need for an even more expansive regime of surveillance—a regime that in all likelihood would result in the stigmatisation and policing of vulnerable and racialised communities, Muslims included. 

Here the implications of a post-9/11 governmentality that yokes together securitisation and a ‘post-racial’ common sense are palpable enough, and it is taken to its logical conclusion in a set of recommendations that repeats the call to ‘normalise’ counterterrorism discourse and, more astonishingly, makes an explicit appeal to enlist the general population for the purposes and prerogatives of CVE. For instance, one of the report’s recommendations enjoins the government to create opportunities for ongoing public discussions of counterterrorism, and to do so in part by ‘supporting the public to understand how to respond when they recognise the concerning behaviours and incidents that may demonstrate a person’s potential for engaging in violent extremism and terrorism’. The generalisation and socialisation of policing and surveillance is thus sanctioned as a pedagogical exercise and a mark of the state’s benevolence and responsibility towards the public. 

Put simply, this is a report that condenses and recapitulates the full gamut of martial presuppositions bequeathed by the last two decades, extending the War on Terror’s ideological license at precisely the historical moment when its expiry might have been expedited. As noted by advocates and scholars critical of CVE, the recent discursive shifts whereby counterterrorism seems no longer exclusively focused on the threat of ‘Islamic’ extremism, and whereby such policies also encompass in their framing an ascendant far Right and organised white supremacy, do not necessarily entail a diminution of the apparatus of racial policing and surveillance, or a curtailment of the state’s capacity and orientation in this regard. The RCI’s report is a testament to this observation and, indeed, through its racial variegation of distinct categories of extremism, it furnishes grounds for this apparatus’s virtual inviolability as well as its expansion.

It has been noted by some on the Left that the inquiry essentially ‘whitewashes’ security and intelligence by failing to hold the agencies to account. For all intents and purposes, this is true. But if we are to get a sense of the internal logic of the RCI and what its conclusions can tell us about the regime it legitimises, it is worth giving a little more attention to its findings. The terms of reference required the RCI to determine whether the relevant public-sector agencies received information that could have alerted them in the lead-up to the attack; to determine whether there was a failure in information sharing between the agencies; whether there was a failure to meet any relevant standards or criteria of operation; and whether there was a failure to anticipate the planned attack because of an ‘inappropriate concentration of resources or priorities on other terrorism threats’. The report absolves the Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) on all counts, but it is the last one that seems to have been instrumental in the making of this decision. 

Next to the investigation of the ‘individual’ perpetrator, the examination of the SIS is perhaps the most elaborate, and in the findings there is a lengthy explanation of the SIS, its capacities, its prerogatives and its recent history. It is noted that the question of a maldistribution of resources and attention was the ‘most pointed’ for the inquiry, and what follows is a thoroughly considered set of exonerations, including the notes that the SIS had ‘comparatively little social licence’ and ‘limited capability and capacity’, and that until recently the institution had been in ‘a fragile state’. The authors then explain that during the operational period that came under their assessment, there indeed was a ‘primary, but not exclusive, focus of the counter-terrorism resources on what was seen as the presenting threat of Islamist extremist terrorism’, but that the ‘inappropriate concentration of resources’ was not ‘why the individual’s planning and preparation for his terrorist attack was not detected’. Of course, the report does not go on to elaborate an alternative causality, since it is not required to do so. Instead, it simply insists on delinking and bracketing the failures of the SIS as a potential cause, and it does so precisely by reiterating the agency’s lack of capacity and capability—limitations no doubt due to the very ‘inappropriate concentration of resources’ explicitly stated in its account. 

To give a clearer picture of this tortured logic, it is worth briefly recounting some of the steps through which it unfolds. First, it is noted that the main period of assessment, between 2016 and 2019, finds a focus of resources on Islamist extremism. It is then noted that in 2016 the SIS sought to establish a baseline picture of other emerging threats but would do so when it had capacity. The contradiction is already apparent, but the explanation continues undeterred. The reason for concentrating resources on one category of terrorism was, according to the report, due to a lack of a ‘comparative risk analysis’, as well as a lack of an ‘informed system-wide decision’ that could have been made ‘with the knowledge that there were other potential threats of terrorism that were not well understood’. This eventually leads to the conclusion that ‘given the operational security that the individual maintained, the legislative authorising environment in which the counter-terrorism effort operates and the limited capability and capacity of the counter-terrorism agencies, there was no plausible way he could have been detected except by chance’. Through an inversion worthy of the crudest formulations of ideology, it is concluded that an institution entrusted with the detection and prevention of terrorism was not failed by its own miscalculations but by the vagaries of chance itself. 

Of course, in such a determination it is the very categorisation of particular ‘types’ of terrorism that enable this logic. Highlighting the ‘presenting threat of Islamist extremism’ as the primary cause of error leads the investigation along a peculiar and tortuous rationale that arrives at an interesting proposition: that what counts most is not the incontrovertible fact of an institution’s failure to prevent an act of violence or the clearly systemic aspects of this failure but the fact that the act of violence, in retrospect, did not appear in the form in which it was anticipated by the institution. In this way, the SIS is not held to account by the terms of the real world in which things happen, or indeed by the terms of the mandate by which it was established as an institution responsible for guaranteeing ‘national security’ and the public’s safety. Instead, it is held to account by the terms it, as an institution, had set itself. Accordingly, its operational basis is redeemed, even as its failures are recorded: in a sense, the report’s archiving of the agency’s failure is a way of absolving it, and in an additionally strange twist, the consistency of the institution’s practice with a racial logic comes to vindicate it in the context of the racial violence that is its lethal consequence. 

This is an astonishing set of findings, to be sure, but one that is consistent with the track record of the RCI as a Crown-mandated practice. Historians and legal scholars have noted, in various capacities and contexts, the extent to which inquiries and inquests have historically functioned to protect the Crown and the state, and to render these entities and their institutions immune to criminal proceedings and liability. These accounts have also amply documented the extent to which such investigations have in the process been conditioned by the structural relations of class, gender and race. More importantly, and in the context of settler-colonial societies where they have had a markedly long history, inquiries and inquests have faithfully acted as part of the political management of marginalised and, in particular, Indigenous groups. In this regard, and more tellingly, these processes have shown themselves to be informed by a logic orienting them, beyond their specific contexts and terms of reference, towards the determination of what Sherene Razack called the ‘timeliness of death’. If some bodies are, structurally speaking, considered as always already dead, or as more dead than others, then can any individual or institution be held accountable? Can there be negligence or failure where particular forms of life are seen as dispensable or perishable anyway?

Such questions acquire greater salience as the possibility of an official coronial inquest looms on the horizon. But they are questions that also become pressing in the wider national and global politics of viral catastrophe. As many have variously noted since the early days of its onset, the pandemic has appeared as a crise révélatrice: an apocalyptic moment of revelation whereby the convergence of various crises becomes illuminated in a flash of history. Characterising a year that began with devastating infernos on one side of the globe and ended with a white-supremacist ‘insurrection’ on the other, COVID-19 has become for many a metonymic lens telescoping the bigger picture in which we see the deeper transformations of a planet on the verge of mass extinction. As well as the outright and devastating loss of life wrought by it, and its instrumentalisation by political and economic elites to expand the infrastructures of extraction, exploitation, incarceration, deportation and militarisation, the pandemic seems to have galvanised those who now personify the Capitalocene, and who are well aware of the unprecedented transformations for which they are disproportionately responsible. It has also consolidated the calculus through which their reign, and its planetary toll, is exacted. 

This calculus, as Dionne Brand recently put it, is one of life and death, the narrative means by which their distribution and organisation find sanction, and the discursive means by which their various futurities may be anticipated and regulated through market-like logics of speculation. As we have just seen, these logics acquire an increasingly hegemonic hold, presiding as they do over the minutest determinations and measurements of life, life’s loss, and quantifiable forms of death. An inquiry charged with identifying ‘changes that could prevent such terrorist attacks in the future’ can only do so with the presupposition of further and imminent violence, which, moreover, can be categorised and in the process of such categorisation anticipated on the basis of ‘its having already happened’. To this extent, ‘horizon scanning’ is geared not so much to instantiating unknowns or unknowables but to securing against them, mapping out the future on the basis of what is already known and recognisable—which is nothing more than cynical resignation to the systematicity of institutional failure, the unavoidability of violence and the value-coding of aggregate forms of life, in accordance with the dictates of race, class or speciesism. Of course, the eventuation of violence, crisis and catastrophe acts as surety of the speculative logic, retroactively vindicating its anticipation of disaster, and furnishing grounds for its expansion as an information-, data- and knowledge-harvesting algorithm. Formed by an imaginary that replicates that of finance, this is a calculus that turns future or potential losses into sites of present accumulation. 

What has become more evident than ever in the age of COVID-19 is what has been active for some time prior: the work of differential valuations of life and the calculability of aggregate forms of death at the core of (post)-neoliberal regimes. If it is difficult to understand the peculiar findings of the RCI outside of this logic, it is equally difficult to imagine a political climate more conducive to its technocratic normalisation than that of New Zealand’s. Under Ardern’s leadership, the Labour-led government has stayed a steady course directly down the centre, helming a ship that has remained afloat due to a kind of post-political disaster populism. From the mosque attacks, to the Whakaari/White Island eruption, to the pandemic, Ardern’s government has presided over successive crises, all of which have been deftly navigated in part through the prime minister’s personal popularity combined with a political strategy outwardly branded as ‘kindness’ and ‘consensus building’. Yet this configuration is hardly reducible to the contingencies of crisis, and at its centre is a more fundamental political reality. At every significant juncture during its term, from the passing of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019, where it needlessly pursued bipartisan consensus, to the contested site at Ihumātao, where its inaction necessitated the intercession of Māori king Tūheitia, Ardern’s government has consistently eschewed any direct or meaningful political stance. At best, it has consigned itself to the role of a brutally competent manager of crises, whose tenure is dependent on the only certainty afforded by today’s calculus of power: what Lauren Berlant described as ‘crisis ordinariness’. 

In the October election, after having proven itself in the face of another crisis, and both it and the population under its care having emerged relatively unscathed, the Labour Party campaign slogan read ‘Let’s keep moving’. As one political commentator pithily noted, this slogan roughly translates as ‘Well, we’re still alive, aren’t we?’. Ardern’s brand, aptly so called, of politics is often juxtaposed to that which seems to have the rest of the Western world in a firm grip: an ascendant fascism. However, what it shares with these is a populism that turns on the reduction of politics to bare life—to the distribution of life chances and the calculated management thereof in a time of mass extinction. If it has anything to say about this situation, the RCI’s report begs the question of chance. Namely, it leaves us with this question: as aggregate forms of life and death are submitted to an ever-expanding and increasingly autonomous regime of codes and algorithms, what, and who, is left up to chance?

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