Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

Avi Shlaim: The perils and pitfalls of patriotic history

February 8, 2014

War is said to be too serious a business to be left to the soldiers. By the same token, military history is too serious to be left to the politicians. When politicians pontificate about the past it is rarely in the disinterested pursuit of a complex truth.

Michael Gove’s perspective on the First World War is a classic example of a narrow, nationalistic, blinkered version of history. In an article in the Daily Mail, on 2 January 2014, the education secretary used the centenary of the Great War to declare war on “left-wing academics” whom he accused of peddling unpatriotic myths about Britain’s role in the conflict.

For Gove this was a plainly just war, a patriotic war in defence of the homeland and freedom, a war forced on Britain by imperial Germany’s “aggressively expansionist war aims”. British soldiers, according to Gove, went to war in 1914 to defend “the western liberal order”. Gove also argued that dramas such as Oh What a Lovely War and satires such as Blackadder enable left-wing myths to take hold, leading some people to denigrate the “patriotism, honour and courage” of those who fought and died for their country. Gove’s article provoked a barrage of angry responses, including one from Baldrick, Blackadder’s wily sidekick.

One of the fiercest counter-attacks on the education secretary came from the left-wing journalist Seamus Milne in an article entitled “An imperial bloodbath that’s a warning, not a noble cause” (The Guardian, 9 January). Milne dismissed Gove’s claims about the war and its critics as “preposterous nonsense”. For Milne the 1914-18 bloodbath was not just a war: “It was a savage industrial slaughter perpetrated by a gang of predatory imperial powers, locked in a deadly struggle to capture and carve up territories, markets and resources”.

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Joe Glenton sent to prison but war criminals walk free

March 6, 2010

Morning Star Online, March 5,  2010

by Lizzie Cocker
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton has been  sentenced to nine months in prison

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton has been sentenced to nine months in prison

A hero of the anti-war movement has been jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan – while his boss boasted of writing a blank cheque for the illegal Iraq invasion.

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton was sentenced to nine months in prison and had his rank reduced after admitting going absent without leave (awol) from the army.

But even as he was being handed his jail time an unrepentant Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Chilcott inquiry that the war in Iraq “was the right decision and for the right reasons.”

A Stop the War Coalition spokesman hit out at the sentence saying: “Joe Glenton is not the person who should be facing a jail sentence – it should be the politicians who have led us into disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The fact that they are not brings shame to justice in this country.”

L/Cpl Glenton was detained in November after he led a Stop the War demonstration in London where he went against orders and publicly denounced the war.

He originally believed that the troops would bring democracy to Afghanistan and improve women’s rights.

But after serving there his views changed quickly. His lawyer Nick Wrack said: “He began to see that the conflict in Afghanistan was wrong. He spoke out about it, perhaps in a bold fashion.”

Serving in Afghanistan in 2006, L/Cpl Glenton had begun to voice concerns to his superiors about the devastation being caused by Nato forces.

Back in England, he was soon ordered back to the war zone for nine months – despite guidelines saying soldiers should not be redeployed within 18 months.

The court heard that his reluctance to return led to him being bullied by his commanding officer.

L/Cpl Glenton fled for Australia and Asia and did not return until July 2009 when he was accused of desertion – a charge reduced following immense pressure from the anti-war movement.

In Australia he met his wife Clare, who cried yesterday as Mr Wrack read aloud her letter begging the court not to jail her husband.

She was comforted by L/Cpl Glenton’s mother Sue, who said later: “The court barely paid lip service to justice.

“The judge clearly didn’t listen to the arguments or if she did she ignored them. The lawyers are considering an appeal. The Ministry of Defence will be hearing a lot more from me.”

Mr Wrack told the court: “Instead of being dealt with in a sensible way it resulted in the sergeant at the time bullying and intimidating Lance Corporal Glenton.”

Psychiatrist Lars Davidsson told the military court that L/Cpl Glenton may have gone awol because he had post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He told me of how he supplied coffins for the dead servicemen. He had dreams of coffins being lined up.

“He was drinking heavily and having sleeping problems. Sometimes he would have bad dreams and wake up screaming,” Dr Davidsson said.

The MoD refused to comment.

This tide of anti-Muslim hatred is a threat to us all

February 25, 2010

The attempt to drive Islamists and young Asian activists out of the political mainstream is a dangerous folly

Seumas Milne, The Guardian/UK, Feb 25, 2010

If young British Muslims had any doubts that they are singled out for special treatment in the land of their birth, the punishments being meted out to those who took part in last year’s London demonstrations against Israel’s war on Gaza will have dispelled them. The protests near the Israeli ­embassy at the height of the onslaught were angry: bottles and stones were thrown, a ­Starbucks was trashed and the police employed unusually violent tactics, even by the standards of other recent confrontations, such as the G20 protests.

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Did Britain know about Mossad hit? Israeli agent claims MI6 was tipped off

February 19, 2010

By Mail Foreign Service, Daily Mail/UK, Feb 19, 2010

  • Agent claims MI5 and Foreign Office were tipped off
  • David Miliband vows to ‘get to the bottom’ of affair
  • Gordon Brown promises an inquiry into identity theft
  • Dubai police chief calls for arrest of Mossad head
  • Hamas promises retaliation against Israel

MI6 was tipped off that Israeli agents were going to carry out an ‘overseas operation’ using fake British passports, it was claimed last night.

A member of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, said the Foreign Office was also told hours before a Hamas terrorist chief was assassinated in Dubai.

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Torture is a crime, not a state secret

February 14, 2010

It’s a convenient argument for both governments, but the Binyam Mohamed ruling will not harm UK-US intelligence co-operation

The UK court ruling in the case of Binyam Mohamed demonstrates once more that judges on both sides of the Atlantic have had enough of governments hiding behind national security “secrets” to shield themselves from their many trespasses in the “war on terror”.

The court’s decision to publish a seven-paragraph summary of intelligence given to MI5 by the CIA has been met by the convenient, and wholly unbelievable, argument from British and American officials that the release could damage intelligence co-operation and sharing between the two allies.

The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, has argued that keeping the summary secret was vital to ensuring that the US continues to share vital intelligence with the British security services. The White House only played up this threat after the decision was handed down.

“We’re deeply disappointed with the court’s judgment because we shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “As we warned, the court’s judgment will complicate the confidentiality of our intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK, and it will have to factor into our decision-making going forward.”

There are two important things to remember when analysing Miliband and the White House’s arguments concerning the “intelligence” released on the treatment of Ethiopian-born British resident Binyam Mohamed while he was in US custody.

First, the seven-paragraph summary details that the interrogation practices endured by Mohamed while in American custody during 2002 constituted “at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. It reveals nothing besides the fact the US and its proxies resorted to barbarous methods to extract information from captives they believed were al-Qaida terrorists.

Second, far more damning information on Mohamed’s torture was published last year by a US court. In November 2009, US District Judge Gladys Kessler granted the habeus corpus petition of Gitmo detainee Farhi Saeed Bin Mohammed – another indicator of the cross-Atlantic return of the rule of law. The prisoner had been held indefinitely without charge at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, based partly on Mohamed’s confessions to US interrogators. There was one problem, however: US interrogators coerced Mohamed’s allegations against Mohammed through torture. “The government does not challenge Petitioner’s evidence of Binyam Mohamed’s abuse,” Kessler wrote in her decision. It’s important to note that the “abuse” Mohamed says he endured during his detention included having his genitals slashed by a razor.

In short order, the information the British court ordered released yesterday was neither intelligence nor secret. What it did show, however, was what we already knew. The US had systematically tortured detainees it deemed terrorists without due process, and British intelligence was complicit.

Therefore the probability the United States would jeopardise its intelligence-sharing relationship with the United Kingdom over the Mohamed release is remote. It would demonstrate that the United States values protecting its lawless practices overseas more than the national security of its greatest ally. Imagine the public relations disaster if the British public learned the United States did not share intelligence of an imminent terrorist attack because of this judicial decision. Fortunately, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the head of the US intelligence community, has already played down any break in the cross-Atlantic alliance. “This court decision creates additional challenges, but our two countries will remain united in our efforts to fight against violent extremist groups,” yesterday’s statement read.

So when the Milibands and White House apparatchiks of this world claim that exposing state crimes jeopardises the government’s ability to protect its citizens from terrorist atrocities, it’s important to remember the words of the radical political philosopher Michael Bakunin:

“There is no horror, no cruelty, sacrilege, or perjury, no imposture, no infamous transaction, no cynical robbery, no bold plunder or shabby betrayal that has not been or is not daily being perpetrated by the representatives of the states, under no other pretext than those elastic words, so convenient and yet so terrible: ‘for reasons of state’.”

Torture is a crime; it is not a state secret.

An Illegal War is State-Terrorism

January 29, 2010

By Yamin Zakaria, Information Clearing House, January 29, 2010

“We were convinced that all the fissile material that could be used for any weapons purposes had been taken out of Iraq, and we knew that we had eliminated and destroyed the whole infrastructure that Iraq had built up for the enrichment of uranium.”

  • Hans Blix, in a BBC Interview, Jan 2003

As the toothless Chilcot Inquiry collates the evidences from the various individuals, not many are asking some basic questions regarding the Iraq War. As a layperson, the following questions come to my mind:

  • What aggression did Iraq commit against the US and the UK that could have justified the war? How did the people of Iraq ever cause any harm to the people in the UK or the US?
  • Where are the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which was the primary pretext for waging aggression on Iraq?
  • Why was the UN Inspectors not given further time to finish their job, given that they had unimpeded access to inspect any place in Iraq and that they failed to find any evidence contrary to Iraq’s earlier declaration to the UN?
  • In the absence of such weapons, why is the UN not taking the criminals to task at the international war crimes tribunal and order the belligerent nations to pay war reparations to Iraq?

I see the above questions are at the heart of the issue regarding Iraq war. The only answer I can conclude is – the new world order is governed by the brute force of the Wild West; far from some noble principle that is applicable equally to all nations. I do not want to “move on” like Blair, I want to see justice. I want to see criminals like Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Jeremy Greenstock face the gallows for the slaughter of innocent Iraqis, yet these armed robbers are parading themselves as ambassadors of peace. It is disgusting!

The evidence given by the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, at the Chilcot Inquiry revealed that he had conveniently changed his mind after meeting the American Lawyers, and added pressure from Jack Straw and possibly few others, just weeks before the actual invasion is launched. Note, whilst he is mulling over this, the British troops are already there, poised to attack a nation that has been systematically disarmed for a decade. Therefore, the British government still would have gone into war with the Americans, even if Goldsmith managed to standby by his conviction. Nevertheless, if he did remain firm, it would have helped, even if it could not halt the war.

It should have taken a “smoking gun” to change someone’s mind on a serious issue of this nature, which Hans Blix and his team of inspectors with unrestricted access could not find in Iraq. Given the circumstances under which the sudden change of mind occurred, it shows that Lord Goldsmith is a feeble man; all he needed was a little ‘push’ to rubberstamp the war that was already on the verge of being launched. Unlike some of the other principled individuals, he could not standby his conviction, and if needed resign from the post. Perhaps, the folks from Spooks whispered in his ear about the fate of Dr. Kelly! So, his ears only consulted those who were bent on going to war. Indeed, it was a one-sided conversation.

Why did he not consult other lawyers with an opposing view concurrently? Why did he not consider that other major powers in the UN Security council were of the view that UN resolution of 1441 did not authorise war? Why did Britain go back to the UN Security Council to seek a second resolution if the first was adequate? Being a democracy, it is imperative to discuss such matters with the Cabinet, but Jack Straw denied Lord Goldsmith that opportunity, obviously, Jack did not want to be late for the war party.

People say lawyers are shark, but Goldsmith proved to be a spineless cod! His ‘fatwa’ is like the ‘fatwa’ given to the Saudis during the First Gulf War at the last minute by some cleric, to permit the US Forces to setup base inside Saudi Arabia. By the time the Fatwa was given, the US armed forces had already arrived at the shores of Saudi Arabia, as if the fatwa was necessary. Again, the basic question, what did the Iraqis do to the Saudis?

There is no doubt the majority opinion amongst the prominent legal experts is that the UN resolution of 1441 did not authorise war, and more pertinently, this was view held by the majority of the nations inside the UN Security Council, including France and Russia with Veto powers. Therefore, the war had no mandate from the UN Security Council; it was a unilateral and barbaric act of aggression by the Anglo-US regime. Without a legal backing – the invasion was state terrorism dispensed to the innocent civilians of Iraq.

Some argue the war was necessary, as Saddam posed a threat to the region, but the region was not calling for war, with the exception of Israel. Maybe that was enough, serving Israel is enough to prove that the West are no longer anti-Semitic and they can redeem their past sins by the punishing some innocent third party, once again. Israel is a nation that routinely engages in killing innocent civilians, and is busy in the process of ethnic cleansing to make the land pure for the chosen race of God, add to that ‘accolade’, they are harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians in the true spirit of the shylocks!

Yamin Zakaria ( yamin@radicalviews.org )

A decade of aggression

January 11, 2010
Morning Star Online, Sunday 10 January 2010

Symon Hill

For British politics, the defining moment of the last decade was not an election result or a policy announcement. It was February 15 2003, when over a million people marched through London to oppose the invasion of Iraq.

It was the biggest demonstration in British history, but both Labour government and Tory opposition went ahead and launched a war without public support.

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Pilger: Normalising the Crime of the Century

December 10, 2009

By John Pilger, Information Clearing House, Dec 9, 2009

I tried to contact Mark Higson the other day only to learn he had died nine years ago. He was just 40, an honourable man. We met soon after he had resigned from the Foreign Office in 1991 and I asked him if the government knew that Hawk fighter-bombers sold to Indonesia were being used against civilians in East Timor.

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Britain knew CIA tortured detainee

November 23, 2009

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor, The Independent/UK, Nov 20, 2009

The judgement revealed Binyam Mohamad was treated the same way as an al-Qa'ida suspect tortured by the CIA
AFP/GettyThe judgement revealed Binyam Mohamad was treated the same way as an al-Qa’ida suspect tortured by the CIA

Britain knew that American agents were using barbaric torture techniques on terror suspects, including British resident Binyam Mohamed, it emerged yesterday. Secret reports sent between MI5 and the CIA in 2002 reveal that the American security services were using torture practices which included waterboarding, facial slaps and stress positions.

 

Zionist Control of Britain’s Government: 1940-2009

November 20, 2009

By William A. Cook, uruknet.info, November 19, 2009

“After so many years of setting the tone, bribing UK politicians and controlling the BBC they (Zionists) are used to being untouchable.” (Gilad Atzmon, “Britain Must de-Zionist Itself Immediately,” Nov. 17, 2009, MWC News).

This week the British people listened to the Daily Mail’s Peter Oborne present, on Channel 4, his devastating account of the Jewish lobby’s control of their government. Now we know that virtually all the principal politicians in the UK of both parties, like their brothers across the lake in our House and Senate, take “contributions” from the Israeli lobby machine ensuring that the Anglo-American mid-east policies follow the dictates of the Israeli government. Gilad Atzmon responded to this report in his article “Britain must de-Zionise itself immediately,” noting that this control has been in place for so many years the lobby feels “untouchable.”

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