News analysis on a weekly basis

Iraq, why the left was wrong.

Posted in Middle East by Harry on August 21, 2010

First a couple of things:

No. 1: Resolution or no second resolution, Operation Iraqi Freedom (later Operation Iraqi Liberation, O.I.L) was an illegal war and an affront to the democratic processes of all the countries in the coalition of the willing.

No. 2: This war has done more to undermine middle-eastern security and the potential of democratic reforms than any Baathist secular dictatorship or Hashemite oil-soaked theocracy.

Now, on to the real story. We read/heard recently that the US has finally withdrawn its last combat brigade from Iraq. The 4th Stryker brigade, 2nd Infantry Division drove from Baghdad into Kuwait ending phase two of operation “Supreme arse-up of the century”. Behind them, the 4th left 50,000 support troops and “advisers” along with an absolutely horrific death toll of between 97,299-106,182 Iraqis (reported, though many estimates number above 800,000) and 4734 coalition soldiers, victims of a long and protracted occupation and insurgency. It was one of the most shameful actions perpetrated by the west, a war founded on false pretense and lies, dodgy dossiers and suicides. At every casualty, leftist commentators have re-iterated their go-to line of “This is another Vietnam” Kerry said it, the Liberal Democrats said it, and I said it before I actually knew very much. We were wrong, yes, many people died and the leaders of this should be tried for war crimes, but it was not another Vietnam.

The inconvenience for the left on this issue is that O.I.L worked. We got the oil and we toppled Saddam, an US satellite gone of course. Reprehensible aims yes, but they were achieved, despite the horrifying death tolls. This admittedly strange situation causes the anti-war movement a dilemma. While we are legitimately incensed at the illegal travesty of this war, we can’t deny the fact that the neocons and associated goons achieved their stated and unstated aims, on paper at least. As such, we can no longer smugly comment on the absolute failure of O.I.L while fanning ourselves with a copy of the Guardian.

We need to retreat, march back to our moral high ground post-haste and remind the world that there is no justifiable reason to murder 100,000 plus civilians and topple a government with the unwieldy club of US/UK offensive force. Chomsky has argued correctly that if there is an anti-democratic and evil government we should support an internal struggle to bring the bastard down (not exactly his words…)

This leads me to another anti-war tactic. While on the moral high-ground, we must also systematically and logically break down the arguments against us: Oona King spoke of not being pro-war, but being anti-genocide. In this case you point out that we’ve done our fair share of murdering. If the arguments about democracy come up, then remind the individual that the US/UK axis supports such anti-democratic regimes as Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, countless past Latin-American dictators, Morocco…I could go on.

So, to sum up. We predicted the outcome incorrectly, but the weight of our arguments is much stronger than the pro-war side.


Department of Peace?

Posted in Uncategorized by Harry on July 22, 2010

In the post titled “New World Order?” I discussed the changing role of the United states in the world. I argued (I hope successfully) that the USA’s status as global super power is on the wane and a new era of international power is making its appearance. Apparently this notion isn’t as original as I thought…

This piece by The Real News Network involves Denis Kucinich; a left-wing democratic congress man in the US and Johan Galtung; founder and director of Transcend International,  A non-profit network for Mediation and Conflict Resolution by non violent means.

That’s both segments of the interview, they’re both very interesting.

The Thousand Faces of Turkey

Posted in International Relations, Middle East by Harry on June 30, 2010

EU entry candidate, NATO member, Israel’s staunchest Muslim ally, Israel’s most vocal opponent, buying arms from Israel, avowed secularists, vaguely Islamic…Eh? There are paranoid schizophrenics with fewer personas, and I haven’t even remembered them all.

Turkey is a magical mystery country, a chameleon, able to change it’s entire Foreign policy stance at the raid of an aid ship or the small-minded comment by a diminutive Frenchman. The latest change in policy is the arrival in Tel Aviv of a Turkish Military delegation, regarding the purchase of drones:

Just last week, Turkey was on the brink of breaking off all relations with Israel and now they’re continuing weapons procurement from a country that has in all but the formality committed an act of war against them. Part of the reason they became more Pro-Palestinian in the first place was disillusionment with the EU entry debacle, being increasingly frustrated by the Europeans blocking the Turks’ EU entry. Added to this factor, the Turkish government is, quite rightly reacting to the anger of their people and as such has broken the majority of its diplomatic relations with Israel.

That’s all well and schizophrenic, but how does this affect the rest of the world? Well, for one thing, this tendency to keep a diplomatic stance for 15 minutes means that Turkey will be very unreliable as an ally. This jeopardizes any hope of a tripartite regional bloc in the middle east, and weakens the pro-Palestinian powers world-wide. There is also another issue here. Given that the USA and Russia are back at it with this spy scandal, making Anatolia a crucial strategic area, particularly any access to the Mediterranean.

So, my conclusion? let’s get Turkey on some medication and get some consistency, preferably consistently pro-Palestine…

Meanwhile covering the Home Front…

Posted in politics by Harry on June 11, 2010

A friend of mine, Meg, writes a great blog regarding Britain and British issues, and can be found at so if you’re more Home Office than FCO, give it a read!

New World Order?

Posted in International Relations by Harry on June 10, 2010

No, I don’t mean the Freemason/Illuminati coalition with shape-shifting lizard people. By new world order, I’m referring the shift of the balance of global power which is happening as we speak. This afternoon we heard the news that the UN approved new sanctions against Iran. Obama called them the “toughest ever” and the Iranian establishment fumed. They weren’t however, the only ones not satisfied by this resolution. Of the 15 Security Council members, 12 voted for the proposal, with Brazil and Turkey voting against and Lebanon abstaining. This is the first raft of sanctions against Iran not to have received unequivocal support from the UN body, and the Americans aren’t pleased. So why was there a split in the vote? why didn’t unanimity win through as usual? Because of the most interesting shift in the balance of power since Churchill declared WWII to have been won by 2 and 1/2 powers. America has finally started seeing the effects of its exit global stage left, so to speak.

When in 1991, the USSR dutifully imploded and left America as the dominant world super power, few would have expected such a short period of absolute unquestioned might. With the emergence of Brazil, India, China and the regeneration of Russia as the so-called BRIC bloc, Western dominance of the world economic construct is under threat. This emerging force is seriously undermining A) the dominance of the G8 (Russia and China are members, but they’re working more and more with other G20 countries) and B) the relevance of America as an international power.  Since China holds a massive stake in the US national reserve and provides most of the worlds exports, as well as providing the most useful development support to nations in Africa and Asia, China is well on its way to mounting a real challenge to western dominance. The Onion recently published and article about how China is set to overtake America as worlds biggest asshole country, they’re bang on.

BRIC is only one part of the changing situation however. For the first time ever, Latin America has begun to actually cast off its “Yankee friend” to us Che Guevara’s terminology. With the emergence of the Mercosur economic bloc and the Bolivarian bloc headed by Hugo Chavez, there has been a lurch to the left and wholesale rejection of American regional dominance. This could never have happened if America was still the master of the world. To return to my particular area of expertise, The Middle-East is becoming increasingly relevant. Iran in particular. The Venezuelans under Chavez have increased their trade relations with Tehran and are building an Anti-American counter balance on the global stage, with China giving its tacit under the radar support.

Despite the new sanctions, Iran is in its second ascendency, forming the corner-stone of a new Middle East axis comprising Turkey and Syria. These regional powers stand as I mentioned two posts ago, as the only real possibility to force a solution to the Palestine Israeli crisis. The West is becoming increasingly impotent in the region, and is becoming increasingly uninterested in bringing about a reasonable solution. With the presence of the new SIT axis, the balance of power in the near east is set to change, with Israel no longer being the fortified stronghold of the West, but the isolated outpost in hostile territory, a modern Alamo.

It is a well known fact that the balance of global power shifts every so often, Spain, then France, then notoriously the UK, but this is so much more. This is an all most unprecedented shift in the entire focus of international politics. If it was just America being replaced that would be one thing, but this is a tilt of the entire axis, the whole world is shifting to the east.

Why being pro-Palestinian doesn’t mean being Anti-Semitic

Posted in Israel Palestine, Middle East, musings by Harry on June 6, 2010

The state of Israel has over the last 62 years fallen back on a stock defense when propagating the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. That all critics of the Israeli state are anti-Semites. While any vaguely intelligent person will realise that criticism of genocide and racism includes disgust at the pure evil of the holocaust, the wild accusations keep on coming.  Perhaps most ironically, this accusation is leveled against Jewish critics of Israel. Such eminent thinkers as Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky are branded self-loathing holocaust deniers. As Finkelstein said, it his parents lived through Auschwitz, so to deny the Holocaust would actually make him Insane.

So why exactly does Israel offer this ridiculous response to criticism leveled by Jews? I personally think there’s two possible reasons. The first of these is that the Jewish critics are perhaps the most scathing. FInkelstein called Israel a “lunatic state” in a recent interview with RT news, and his book “the Holocaust Industry” remains one of the most brilliant deconstruction of what one might call Israel’s and the Anti-Defamation League’s constant use of “the Holocaust card” to justify Israel’s most outrageous actions. One of the best arguments I’ve heard against the recent Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara aid vessel, was offered by a good friend of mine, and a Jewish Pro-Palestinian activist, Alice Coy: (this argument was made against a pro-Israeli person)” you believe that Israel has the right to defend its citizens from attacks, yet don’t believe Palestinians have the right to defend themselves?

More people were killed on the flotilla on Monday then have ever been killed by a rocket from Gaza!

Also, what did the Israeli commandos expect when they abseiled onto a ship before dawn after … See moreshooting tear gas cannisters and stun grenades onto it? Especially with the record the IDF has of killing and injuring demonstrators already. Would you have had the tea and biscuits ready to welcome them onboard? Of course not. The very fact that none of the commandos were killed, despite the provocation and the fact that they came down one by one shows that none of the passengers were fighters.

The way that the Israeli government set up the commandos I think shows how much Netanyahu et al want evocative photos of wounded/dead Israelis to defend what they are doing. Every time there is a period of peace the IDF provokes attacks – otherwise more and more Israelis start asking awkward questions. An aggressive, nationalist leadership best maintains the support of the people when it can convince them that they are under threat, and that they are being defensive.

Very few people can look themselves in the mirror, thinking that they are responsible for murder, and Israeli conscription policy means Israelis are very young brought into the occupation apparatus. To then can critisise it they have to take personal ownership of the acts they themselves may have carried out as teenagers.

Also – I am Jewish, with Israeli family and friends, spent much time in Israel as well as the West Bank and Gaza so yes I do understand whats going on.”

The other reason, while linked to this, is separate. Historically, the main support base for the Israeli state has been the international Jewish community. Criticism coming from Jewish communities is therefore A) a golden bullet for Pro-Palestinian Activists and B) a kick in the teeth for the self-appointed defenders of Judaism. It is therefore logical for the Zionists to attack these people.

The other big reason that being Pro-Palestinian doesn’t mean being Anti-Semitic, is because most of us are against Zionism, not Judaism. Zionism is the notion that Israel is a land that the Jewish people deserve absolutely and without exception, regardless of who’s in the way. Though originally devised by Theodore Hertzl in response to anti-Semitic sentiment and pogroms in Europe, and summarised in the slogan “A land without people for a people without land” It has become one of the most destructive and hypocritical ideologies post-1945. We Pro-Palestinians don’t have a problem with Judaism, we take issue with the idea that people should be allowed to kick other people off their land and take it over in order to build a state of their own.

Yet another attack on international Law by Israel

Posted in International Relations, Middle East by Harry on June 2, 2010

wish I could say I was surprised at the latest cold-blooded murder of 19 peace activists by Isreali marines. I really do. But when I heard the news I just added this to the 100’s of other war crimes and violations of international law that the Isreali State has committed over the past 62 years. Not only was this tantamount to a declaration of war against Turkey (most of the victims were Turkish) This attack by the Isreali navy occurred in international waters against neutral vessels, thus making it an act of piracy or, given that they were sanctioned by the Government, an act of privateering.

This action hasn’t gone as the Isrealis wanted however. They’re disregard for international law has led to an angry backlash from a number of countries, including notably, Turkey, Brazil and Sweden, who have all imposed some form of diplomatic sanctions, ranging from recalling their staff, to summoning the Isreali Ambassadors to explain their actions. Many other nations have openly deplored the actions of the Isreali Privateers and Even the traditional guilt-ridden allies of Israel, Germany, have called for a full enquiry. Egypt, the junior partner in the blockade, has gone so far as to open the Rafah crossing in response to internal pressure.

Despite this backlash, will Israel flinch? No. Israel will not do anything in any way just, they’ll deport the illegally detained prisoners, they will intercept the MV Rachael Corrie, despite stern warnings from Ireland and will no doubt, continue to treat the Palestinian people like filth, keeping them starved of supplies, (they only allow 15,000 tonnes into Gaza, less than1/4 of what the UN said is required.) and will filter what was captured from the Flotilla in to Gaza as part of this (despite all the medicine and toys and wheelchairs being weapons, allegedly.)

So, what will come of this? Is there any hope of a resolution to the crisis? Well, There are three paths, two are impossibly stunted, one seems to be a bit too hopeful. The first two are, a strong US response, such as a cut in funds and exports with a possible arms embargo, and a clear UN condemnation of events, followed by an imposition of sanctions and the convening of a war crimes tribunal. Both, are subject to the Obama Administration actually doing something proactive. This is unlikely, as Obama is hamstrung by a christian right/Zionist lobby (few jews have stayed loyal to israel, it’s primarily Bush Doctrine Adherents.) This will obivously cause the US to veto anything more than a UN declaration of mild irritation on deep regret at an action, hardly an effective response to one of the most despicably attacks on humanitarian workers.
The Third option would be an eastern Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern axis comprising Turkey, Egypt and possibly Syria, who maintain a strong military and diplomatic presence in the region. if this tripartite alliance were to be formed and work as a team then perhaps, Israel would be more reluctant to abuse every international regulation in the book.

Israel, Palestine and all the seasonal cheer

Posted in Uncategorized by Harry on December 26, 2009

This Morning I woke up to the news that 6 Palestinians of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (Fatah’s armed wing) were murdered in their homes in front of their families in their own homes. What makes the story most irritating is the fact that at least 3 of these men had disarmed and received partial or full pardons from the Isreali Government and were promised that they would not be targeted by the Isrealis.
This to me at least represents a major problem with any agreement between Israel and Palestine. If Israel keeps going back on deals or at least circumventing them, (i.e. releasing 500 prisoners and then arresting 500 others) then the Palestinian Authority and Hamas will not be able to trust any agreements made with regards to the Peace process.
Not only does this reinforce our mistrust in Israel but it also undermines Al Fatah. Al Fatah has long since stopped representing progressive Palestine and has instead come to be a Quisling government, taking it’s security forces off the streets ot give Isreali patrols free reign.
All in all this news story serves as the most depressing piece of news since well the last piece of news regarding Palestine and Israel. Merry Crhistmas.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, new dawn for NATO? (No)

Posted in International Relations, politics, Uncategorized by Harry on November 30, 2009

On the 17th of November, I had the good fortune of attending a lecture given by Anders Fogh Rasmussen at Edinburgh University.
The topic of the lecture was “The Future of Peace Support Operations” which despite my hatred of using Orwellian references in normal conversation/writing, has to be my favourite example of “newspeak” ever.
Ongoing Peace Support Operations (PSO’s) include Afghanistan and to an extent the offshore patrols by NATO forces off the coast of Somalia. Last I checked there is nothing peaceful about what is currently going on in Afghanistan and there is definitely nothing peaceful about drone attacks on Pakistani wedding parties.
According to Mr Rasmussen, we as members of NATO must fight wars of national defence in foreign lands, i.e. Afghanistan, this is an absurdity, Afghanistan is a lot of things, and a war of national defence is not one of them. We’ve gone over there in order to fight terror but when we’re in reach of the master mind of the most well-known terrorist network we let the man slip past. We fight this war to keep our streets safe, but are they? We’ve seen an increase of terrorist attacks since we went in to the “Grand Central Station of Terror” as Mr Rasmussen put it.
After this pro-American diatribe, Mr Rasmussen went on to discuss how soldiers involved in NATO must also interact with UN/NGO groupings on the ground, i.e. the soldiers providing security for the “civvies” he argued that soldiers cannot possibly win by just methodically maiming and killing their way through a country, they need the NGO’s to present a friendlier face to the military occupation. He effectively suggested that NATO act as the strong men of the UN whine the Men from Manhattan take the lead.
Despite all this, the most worrying thing I heard during that lecture was “Afghanistan is NOT the last nation building project” This is because terrorism stems mostly from failed states, as such we the condescending west should step in and bomb out the nasties in order to build an American brand democracy. A nation building project is another great example of new speak. It sounds like what one does in Age of Empires or other such video games, it does NOT in my view have such innocent connotations; to me it suggests a horrific bombing campaign with masses of civilian casualties followed by a long drawn out guerrilla insurgency, it does not fill me with hope that it is nation building that forms the new NATO approach.

further developments on the Goldstone report

Posted in Uncategorized by Harry on October 22, 2009