Who does he think he is, Jenny Tonge??

David Ward MP – Bradford East – is in trouble. His crime: the temerity to mention Palestinian suffering in a post on Holocaust Day… Who does he think he is? Jenny Tonge??*

“Holocaust Day” has parallels with the theology of November’s Remembrance Day. Free speech gets suspended… There are things you may not say… How terribly impolite to mention more died than just soldiers… Or Iraq, where British forces helped kill a million people… Or that in WW2, bombers killed 100,000 fire-bombing Dresden and were forbidden to receive medals because of the horror…

The Holocaust was a horror, in its millions… But that’s not why Britain fought… We fought because of our treaty with Poland! Only as the years progressed did we really realise the fate so many Jews had met. Now, most of us are not Jews, while still being horrified at Hitler’s horror. Most of us, these days, are very critical of the wars Britain’s leaders order us to fight.

To see Holocaust Day ONLY as the suffering of Jews, is to sentimentally identify with a nation, race or religion, which, for most of us, is not ours. Therefore it is untrue emotion. They weren’t ‘our’ victims, they were Hitler’s. British forces truly liberated them, in 1945. To celebrate that liberation surely cannot lead to supporting Israel, the state Jews founded, in its apartheid racist persecution of others…

To see Remembrance Day ONLY as a rightful commemoration of the sacrifice of British forces, is to sentimentally indentify with Britain, the armed forces, the wars we are commanded to fight…

It’s far more important what is missed out:

Because there, are the civilians, the women, the children, the elderly – all officially unremembered that day. There, are the rest of the 60 million who died in that war. There, ultimately, is peace, and criticism of the centralised power and nationalism that might prevent the next Hitler launching wars, or the next Bush or Blair from launching his.

And there, too, is a rejection of sentimentalism of the Holocaust, and a rededication to  criticising any centralisation of power, any blinkered propaganda, any demonisation of some chosen so-called enemy… and this, of course, goes for Israel’s current treatment of the Palestinians, undergoing the longest military occupation in modern history.

Martin Deane

*Jenny Tonge was a front bench Lib Dem MP, but removed because of comments around Palestinian suffering. She’s now a Lord, Baroness.

Lib Dems condemn MP’s criticism of Israel ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day:



Don’t pick sides, stop the bloodshed.

This is Prof. Michel Chosudovsky’s comments on the Observers’ Mission Report of the League of Arab States to Syria:

The report acknowledges the existence of  “an armed entity” involved in the killings of civilians and police as well as the conduct of terrorist acts, which in turn have contributed to triggering actions by government forces.

The Report refers to “armed opposition groups” as well as to the “Free Syrian Army”,  both of which, according to the AL Mission, are involved in the deliberate killing of innocent civilians:

“In some zones, this armed entity reacted by attacking Syrian security forces and citizens, causing the Government to respond with further violence. In the end, innocent citizens pay the price for those actions with life and limb. 

In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed. ”

“Such incidents include the bombing of buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil and explosions targeting the police, members of the media and fuel pipelines. Some of those attacks have been carried out by the Free Syrian Army and some by other armed opposition groups.”

The Mission also underscored to role of media distortion in the coverage of events in Syria as well as the campaign to discredit ithe Mission’s findings:

“The Mission noted that many parties falsely reported that explosions or violence had occurred in several locations. When the observers went to those locations, they found that those reports were unfounded.

The Mission also noted that, according to its teams in the field, the media exaggerated the nature of the incidents and the number of persons killed in incidents and protests in certain towns.”

The Report also underscored attempts to discredit the Mission and dismiss its findings:

Arab and foreign audiences of certain media organizations have questioned the Mission’s credibility because those organizations use the media to distort the facts. It will be difficult to overcome this problem unless there is political and media support for the Mission and its mandate. It is only natural that some negative incidents should occur as it conducts its activities because such incidents occur as a matter of course in similar missions.

Also of significace were attempts by officials of AL governments to pressure several of the observers into providing “exaggerated accounts of events”.

Some observers reneged on their duties and broke the oath they had taken. They made contact with officials from their countries and gave them exaggerated accounts of events. Those officials consequently developed a bleak and unfounded picture of the situation.

Also of significance is the fact that the Mission acknowledged that peaceful protests by unarmed civilians against the government were not the object of government crackdowns:

group team leaders [of the Observation mission] witnessed peaceful demonstrations by both Government supporters and the opposition in several places. None of those demonstrations were disrupted, except for some minor clashes with the Mission and between loyalists and opposition. These have not resulted in fatalities since the last presentation before the Arab Ministerial Committee on the Situation in Syria at its meeting of 8 January 2012.

While the Mission does not identify the foreign powers behind “the armed entity”, the report dispels the mainstream media lies and fabrications. It largely confirms independent media reports including Global Research’s coverage of the armed insurrection since April 2011.

The West Wing – a spectrum of acceptable opinion.

The West Wing series is great, a fine example of intelligent, politically focused scripts which cover any number of political issues, at the same time drawing you in to often feel sympathetic towards the main characters. You don’t have to be a fan of Martin Sheen, US politics and the White House, to enjoy it, although a similar treatment of the Kremlin might possibly lack in appeal! And, we can’t say we’re not used to the genre!

I’m not a devotee, but in series 7, there’s an entire episode spent purely on a US presidential debate between the two candidates, Democrat and Republican. Surely this was ground-breaking for a series, outside of actual real debates themselves, although Alan Alda was always going to make it more palatable!?

A lot of truth on the American situation is spoken – one reason why it is so popular among a great many people, especially those interested in politics, aware of how it is fought over, and controlled, and also how important it is in covering health, education, war, welfare, and so on.

In series 7 a nuclear accident happens on the Californian coast. It gets lots of coverage and influences the fictional electoral outcome. That was a few years ago but in it, it previsioned Fukushima 2011, a nuclear accident (on a much greater scale) and which arguably affects Americans more than the fictional events affected the fictional population (who fled the area en masse).

Despite covering important themes in different ways, at all times it continues the myth of noble America:

  • The myth of the world’s remaining superpower, with US peacekeepers keeping a fragile peace in Israel-Palestine – instead of an America which arms Israel to the teeth occasionally selling Palestinians a dodgy roadmap.
  • Yet another full-scale invasion is portrayed as an intervention to prevent a Russian and Chinese standoff  instead of the reality of unjustifiable invasions like Iraq, killing 1.5 million people, or Vietnam killing 3-4 million locals (or 58,000 GIs if you were educated in the US), or any of 100 interventions, invasions, coups and destabilisations since World War II, all favouring power – but not people.
  • The myth of an honourable US military is challenged by the revelation of a secret military space shuttle, flagging up the militarisation of space, an important issue (undoubtedly much further advanced than we have ever been told to date) but not that it has been America leading the arms race for decades, and with such an immoral level of defence spending as if it’s designed to take on the rest of the world (which it is).
  • The myth of Democrats being for socialisation and Republicans about tax-cuts is well-played, but unaddressed is the real power of big business and finance which pays both their elections bills, expected to be over $1 billion each this year!

Some home myths are challenged strongly, that government healthcare, MediCare, is hugely expensive – is outed as having only 2% administration costs, that education should have a better-rewarded professional teaching workforce.

The series covers huge amounts of ground, as American politics does, wherever money is involved, in fact. But what it provides is the spectrum of acceptable opinion.

Which series will it be that challenges America’s subversive role in the world, or its major inequality at home while outing the roles of big business, which can get protective laws changed resulting in wrecking the global economy, resulting in new, patented, forms of life, improperly tested and with effects for generations to come, not just the current generation of small farmers lives and livelihoods being wrecked, which can make a killing out of a global flu scare which turns out to be hype, which can fabricate a war for oil?

For some things, it will take more than just a change of administration.

What if it had happened in Burma?

A lot of people are upset at the mass shooting in Connecticut. Partly that’s because they empathise and approach events in a personal way. And it’s an important, first, human response. But it only scrapes the surface. If you approach it in a political or historical or sociological way, you actually end up saying things like: well, what do you expect? Newton is just just one symptom of a psychotic America

The fact is America is a very violent society. Like Britain. Already we lock up more per head than anyone else in Europe. America has a formidable full 1% of its population in the prison system – another world leader… Only a few years ago we were measured by the UN to be the worst place to bring up children, presumable beating America. These measures reflect the amount of stress in a society. One very important measure is how unfair a society is, how wealth is distributed. Under 13 years of Labour, Britain became more and more unfair year after year, the rich getting richer at a far more rapid rate than everyone else. Something far surpassed by America which is unmatched for taking wealth from around the planet to itself.

But can you imagine if we in Britain had the same prevalence of gun ownership here – and the right to bear arms? Despite our general drop in crime statistics in would be a recipe for sure disaster and we could expect our Newton’s and Columbine’s and Aurora’s to take place.

America, like us, suffers from a whole variety of negative social factors – inequality of ownership, inequality of access to healthcare, large and growing homelessness – and of course has social injustice at far higher levels than we do.

Those that have visited America may not see this and may argue what a wonderful, welcoming place it is – great if that’s your experience. But that’s NOT the point I’m making. That’s the sort of personal point of view that I began with. The OTHER things that happen in society, policies, politics, where the money goes, how power asserts and protects itself, sets the background for how healthy a society really is.

This includes levels of mental illness in society and has something to say about those who snap and go on a killing spree. There is no doubt gun control would reduce this, as it did in Australia. A very simple short-term solution.

But America, as a larger organism, is quite psychotic. Maybe Britain was like this in its Empire times – ruling half the globe, and built on the simple racist idea that the Englishman was superior to everyone else (no doubt a factor that made many of the wealthy rather sympathetic to Hitler).

The almost 50-50 polls, even after mass killings like this one, show that America isn’t ready for change either, even in this simple direction.  Of course, the role the gun lobby and its resources play should not be neglected.

But, historically, this is a global issue too. The strength of the gun industry depends on gun ownership, just as the arms industry depends on America’s unparalleled violence across the world: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Central America in the 1980s, the wrecking of other countries like Iran in 1953, bringing the Ba’ath party to power in Iraq in the 1960s, and on and on.

The fact that the American population seem to back most of this international violence chimes with their 50-50 vote to keep guns even after mass killings like Newton’s. Much of this is a tribute to its one party politics (with two faces) and a highly controlled media, very concentrated in terms of ownership and all saying the same sort of corporation-friendly things – while still coming across as very human.

Obama is as compromised too. Squeeze out the odd tear he may on national TV, but he has had no compunction about sending the 170 children his drones have killed to there fiery deaths. Collateral damage, distance, people of no account.

Over here the sheer amount of US media that many of us watch colours our take on its society, the fun of the sit-coms, the brilliance of Hollywood, the apparent concer of its leading politicians. But if someone had walked into a classroom, say in Burma, and gunned down 20 children, people might tut and say what a terrible shame, but they would tend to know less about it and write it off as a violent country. America gets a pass. It shouldn’t. It’s one of the most violent countries in the world. And we’re not far behind…

Any meaningful commitment to peace in society there should ban guns. Maybe then there would be the chance the people could actually reject America’s violence across the world.

They’re not heroes. They’re victims.

Whenever we idolise or demonise there’s a problem.

We demonise Hitler and so we perpetuate a deadly enemy. When we want a new deadly enemy we resurrect the image of Hitler, and use it for Saddam or Gaddafi or, currently, Assad. These modern enemies (ours, though not others) aren’t in Hitler’s league, but it makes it much more easy to attack them and justify it to mass populations (and ignore whoever else suffers or dies).

But demonising Hitler, too, does injustice to the truth, to the history of what happened. We must understand how Hitler came to power in Germany, the poverty, the unemployment, the international debt oppression, the idolising of the state, the Aryan people, the nationalism, the racism and hate encouraged against various groups. Or it will happen again. It could happen here. It could happen elsewhere, even with our nation’s help.

Others we put on a pedestal. One of the easiest ways to justify war is to idolise the warriors, the fighters, the soldiers, those who kill and die, suffer and cause suffering.

The soldiers will say the same! Yes, there may be some who definitely carried out some heroic action (on whichever side!), but they don’t regard themselves as heroes either. Almost universally. Rather they know the reality of war: murder, suffering and death, like Harry Patch below.

This is important.

Especially after Iraq.

They’re not heroes. They’re victims. They die, they get wounded, disabled. Worse – they do that to others. The vast majority of victims of war today are civilians, 0ver 80%. But the soldiers are victims in other ways too:  the things they do stay with them, maybe consciously, always subconsciously, always lifelong. That’s why, of just the soldiers, more of them kill themselves after whichever war, during ‘peace’, than died during the conflict. Certainly true of Vietnam, and the Falklands, and on its way to becoming true of Iraq and Afghanistan, as the suicides continue.

Kissinger called military men “dumb, stupid animals”. There just to do his bidding, the orders of the powerful, the elite, the Bushes, the Blairs, the Obamas and Camerons. Einstein said, Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.

Our hierarchical societies are pyramids of sacrifice. We sacrifice our blood, and the blood of enemies, in order to what? ‘Make the world a better place?’ We so easily trot out some self-justifying description. Or we ask any critic, Well what would you do then, let the enemy win?  But we studiously ignore the lives wrecked, or the advantages gained by the rich and powerful, in territory, resources, advantage over other countries. Oil. And we fall for what the same rich and powerful tell us  through prowar propaganda from the media.

Kissinger’s right while any soldier thinks his only calling is to follow orders.

Because the soldier’s foremost duty is peace. It has to be. It’s the only way it can be ultimately justified. But this means we have to train them in the ways of peace, not just to kill! International law, Kellogg-Briand, Nuremberg, the Geneva Conventions, the treatment of prisoners, the rejection of torture. And, ultimately, the refusal to start a war. No matter how much the Blair’s of this world lie to us, to them.

Harry Patch, war is murder

Harry Patch, war is murder

Why I wear the White Poppy, not the Red Poppy

Repost from Richard Jackson –


I would wear a red poppy if it was a symbol of remembrance for all the victims of war, and not just the ones who did the killing. By excluding the non-military victims of war from remembrance, the red poppy upholds a moral hierarchy of worthy and unworthy victims: the heroic soldier who is worthy of respect and official commemoration, and the unworthy, unnamed civilians killed or maimed by the heroic soldier who remains unacknowledged and unremembered. This validation of those who wage war and the moral hierarchy of victims is a central part of the cultural architecture which upholds the continuing institution of war in our society. It is a central part of what makes war possible. When the red poppy comes to be associated with an honest public acknowledgement of all the people killed by our soldiers, enemy soldiers and civilians alike; when it symbolizes our sorrow and regret for all the victims of war, not just a chosen few; then I would consider wearing a red poppy.

I would wear a red poppy if it did not function to hide the truth and obscure reality – if it wasn’t a way of enforcing a particular kind of collective memory which is actually designed to forget uncomfortable realities; if it wasn’t intimately tied up with a whole series of myths and untruths about heroic sacrifice and necessary violence in war. The truth is that war is cruel, bloody, and inglorious, and that the soldiers we remember are there to kill and maim fellow human beings, and to die screaming for their mothers. The truth is that when we send soldiers to kill others, we consign those who survive to mental and moral injury; a huge proportion of them will attempt suicide in one way or another after they return home. The truth is that many of our wars are nothing to do with freedom, liberty, or democracy; they are often illegal, pointless, or predatory. When the red poppy is associated with an honest debate on the reality and morality of our wars; when it acknowledges the truth about the horror of war and its often pointless slaughter of our best and brightest; then I would consider wearing a red poppy.

I would wear a red poppy if its fund-raising and symbolism had the true interests of the military personnel it purports to support at heart. The fact is that the best interests of every military person would be to never have to kill or face death or mutilation ever again, and certainly not for the squalid purposes most often dreamed up by our venal and vainglorious politicians. The funds raised by the red poppy should be used to work for the end of all war, not to make up for the short-coming in state support for military personnel or to prepare the nation for the further slaughter of our fellow citizens in future wars.

I would wear a red poppy if it wasn’t a way for the state to offset the costs of war so that it can engage in ever more military adventures. In truth, the state sends the nation’s young people to war and then refuses to spend the necessary money on supporting them when they return home. Buying a red poppy is in effect a second tax for funding war, as it allows the state to spend the money it should have spent on rehabilitation on buying new weapons and training new soldiers. Instead of buying a red poppy, we should demand that the state pay the full support and rehabilitation of all soldiers who need it out of the taxes we have already paid to the military. If this means that there is not enough money for the next military adventure because we are taking care of the last war’s victims, then this is how it should be. It should not be easy for governments to take the decision to go to war; they must pay the full cost. If the red poppy came to symbolize a challenge to government to properly care for service personnel; if it was a means to really question the decision to go to war, instead of implicitly supporting every war regardless of its morality; I would consider wearing a red poppy.

I would wear a red poppy if it wasn’t used socially to enforce an unthinking patriotism, and to punish and discipline those who would question the morality of war or the values of militarism. Those who fervently promote the red poppy often assert that the soldiers we remember fought for our freedom, but this does not include the freedom to question military values or public displays of violent patriotism. Anyone should be allowed to refuse to wear a red poppy in public on the basis of conscience without being questioned or looked down upon, or even to wear a different coloured poppy.

I would wear a red poppy if it wasn’t part of a broader militarism in our society which makes war more likely, rather than less; if it wasn’t bound up with national narratives of heroism and the legitimacy and rightness of military force; and if it wasn’t implicitly supportive of military values. If the red poppy came to symbolize opposition to war and support for peaceful values; I would consider wearing it.

I wear the White Poppy because it is an unambiguous commitment to peace, the end of all war and opposition to militarism. The Red Poppy may have once been part of a commemorative culture shortly after the First World War that was aimed at working towards ensuring that no one ever had to experience the horrors of war again; but this meaning has long since vanished, replaced instead by an insidious military patriotism. The White Poppy is now the main symbol of a commitment to remember all the victims of war, to tell the truth about war, to work to ensure that no soldier ever has to suffer its horrors again, and to make peace the central value of our culture, instead of militarism.

(You can order a white poppy to wear from: http://www.ppu.org.uk/whitepoppy/index.html)

Craig Murray on Julian Assange

America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally

by craig on Aug 16th in Uncategorized



I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.

This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.

The provisions of the Vienna Convention on the status of diplomatic premises are expressed in deliberately absolute terms. There is no modification or qualification elsewhere in the treaty.

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission. 2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity. 3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Not even the Chinese government tried to enter the US Embassy to arrest the Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen. Even during the decades of the Cold War, defectors or dissidents were never seized from each other’s embassies. Murder in Samarkand relates in detail my attempts in the British Embassy to help Uzbek dissidents. This terrible breach of international law will result in British Embassies being subject to raids and harassment worldwide.

The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.

The British Government bases its argument on domestic British legislation. But the domestic legislation of a country cannot counter its obligations in international law, unless it chooses to withdraw from them. If the government does not wish to follow the obligations imposed on it by the Vienna Convention, it has the right to resile from it – which would leave British diplomats with no protection worldwide.

I hope to have more information soon on the threats used by the US administration. William Hague had been supporting the move against the concerted advice of his own officials; Ken Clarke has been opposing the move against the advice of his. I gather the decision to act has been taken in Number 10.

There appears to have been no input of any kind from the Liberal Democrats. That opens a wider question – there appears to be no “liberal” impact now in any question of coalition policy. It is amazing how government salaries and privileges and ministerial limousines are worth far more than any belief to these people. I cannot now conceive how I was a member of that party for over thirty years, deluded into a genuine belief that they had principles.