Category Archives: Hypocrisy

Bernie and AOC = Playing the role of “anti-war”

Above is a screenshot of a self-righteous Bernie Sanders tweet from April 2012.

And here’s what the anti-war [sic] icon said the other day as he voted to send $40 billion of your money to support the war efforts of Neo-Nazis and transhumanists in Ukraine:

“We should always have a debate, but the problem is that Ukraine is in the middle of a very intense war right now. I think every day counts, and I think we have to respond as strongly and vigorously as we can.”

[insert sad trombone here)

AOC, another infamous radical [sic] socialist [sic] firebrand [sic], also voted to fund the war but she didn’t even bother to issue a press release. Above is a tweet of hers from early 2020.

Reminder: The powers that shouldn’t be are relying on YOU to continue supporting the two-party deception.

The post Bernie and AOC = Playing the role of “anti-war” first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Russia-Ukraine war: George Bush’s admission of his crimes in Iraq was no “gaffe”

It was apparently a “gaffe” of the kind we had forgotten since George W Bush stepped down from the US presidency in early 2009. During a speech in Dallas last week, he momentarily confused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s current war of aggression against Ukraine and his own war of aggression against Iraq in 2003.

Bush observed that a lack of checks and balances in Russia had allowed “one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq… I mean, Ukraine. Iraq too. Anyway… I’m 75.”

It sounded like another “Bushism” – a verbal slip-up – for which the 43rd president was famous. Just like the time he boasted that people “misunderestimated” him, or when he warned that America’s enemies “never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people – and neither do we”.

Maybe that explains why his audience laughed. Or maybe not, given how uncomfortable the laughter sounded.

Bush certainly wanted his mistake to be seen as yet another slip-up, which is why he hurriedly blamed it on his age. The senility defence doubtless sounds a lot more plausible at a time when the incumbent president, Joe Biden, regularly loses track of what he is saying and even where he is.

The western media, in so far as it has bothered to report Bush’s speech, has laughed along nervously too. It has milked the incident largely for comic effect: “Look, we can laugh at ourselves – unlike that narcissist Russian monster, Putin.”

The BBC accorded Bush’s comment status as a down-page brief news item. Those that gave it more attention preferred to term it a “gaffe” or an amusing “Freudian slip”.

‘Putin apologists’

But the focus on the humour of the moment is actually part of the media’s continuing war on our understanding of recent history. It is intended to deflect us, the audience, from thinking about the real significance of Bush’s “gaffe”.

The only reason the media is now so belatedly connecting – if very indirectly – “a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion” of Ukraine and what happened in Iraq is because of Bush’s mistake.

Had it not happened, the establishment media would have continued to ignore any such comparison. And those trying to raise it would continue to be dismissed as conspiracy theorists or as apologists for Putin.

The implication of what Bush said – even for those mockingly characterising it in Freudian terms – is that he and his co-conspirator, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are war criminals and that they should be on trial at the Hague for invading and occupying Iraq.

Everything the current US administration is saying against Putin, and every punishment meted out on Russia and ordinary Russians, can be turned around and directed at the United States and Britain.

Should the US not be under severe economic sanctions from the “civilised world” for what it did to Iraq? Should its sportspeople not be banned from international events? Should its billionaires not be hunted down and stripped of their assets? And should the works of its long-dead writers, artists and composers not be shunned by polite society?

And yet, the western establishment media are proposing none of the above. They are not calling for Blair and Bush to be tried for war crimes. Meanwhile, they echo western leaders in labelling what Russia is doing in Ukraine as genocide and labelling Putin as an evil madman.

The western media are as uncomfortable taking Bush’s speech at face value as his audience was. And for good reason.

That is because the media are equally implicated in US and UK crimes in Iraq. They never seriously questioned the ludicrous “weapons of mass destruction” justification for the invasion. They never debated whether the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign of Baghdad was genocidal.

And, of course, they never described either Bush or Blair as madmen and megalomaniacs and never accused them of waging a war of imperialism – or one for oil – in invading Iraq. In fact, both continue to be treated by the media as respected elder statesmen.

During Trump’s presidency, leading journalists waxed nostalgic for the days of Bush, apparently unconcerned that he had used his own presidency to launch a war of aggression – the “supreme international crime”.

And Blair continues to be sought out by the British and US media for his opinions on domestic and world affairs. He is even listened to deferentially when he opines on Ukraine.

Pre-emption excuse

But this is not simply about a failure to acknowledge the recent historical record. Bush’s invasion of Iraq is deeply tied to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. And for that reason, if no other, the western media ought to have been driving home from the outset the parallels between the two – as Bush has now done in error.

That would have provided the geopolitical context for understanding – without necessarily justifying – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s role in provoking it. Which is precisely why the media have worked so hard to ignore those parallels.

In invading Iraq, Bush and Blair created a precedent that powerful states could redefine their attack on another state as “pre-emptive” – as defensive rather than aggressive – and thereby justify the military invasion in violation of the laws of war.

Bush and Blair falsely claimed both that Iraq threatened the West with weapons of mass destruction and that its secular leader, Saddam Hussein, had cultivated ties with the extreme Islamists of al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks on the US. These pretexts ranged from the entirely unsubstantiated to the downright preposterous.

Putin has argued – more plausibly – that Russia had to take pre-emptive action against covert efforts by a US-led Nato to expand its military sphere of influence right up to Russia’s borders. Russia feared that, left unchecked, the US and Nato were preparing to absorb Ukraine by stealth.

But how does that qualify Russia’s invasion as defensive? The Kremlin’s fears were chiefly twofold.

First, it could have paved the way for Nato stationing missiles minutes away from Moscow, eroding any principle of mutual deterrence.

And second, Nato’s incorporation of Ukraine would have drawn the western military alliance directly into Ukraine’s civil war in the eastern Donbass region. That is where Ukrainian forces, including neo-Nazi elements like the Azov Brigade, have been pitted in a bloody fight against ethnic Russian communities.

In this view, absent a Russian invasion, Nato could have become an active participant in propping up Ukrainian ultra-nationalists killing ethnic Russians – as the West is now effectively doing through its arming of Ukraine to the tune of more than $40bn.

Even if one discounts Russia’s concerns, Moscow clearly has a greater strategic interest invested in what its neighbour Ukraine is doing on their shared border than Washington ever had in Iraq, many thousands of miles away.

Proxy wars

Even more relevant, given the West’s failure to acknowledge, let alone address, Bush and Blair’s crimes committed in Iraq, is Russia’s suspicion that US foreign policy is unchanged two decades on. On what basis would Moscow believe that Washington is any less aggressive or power-hungry than it was when it launched its invasion of Iraq?

The western media continue to refer to the US attack on Iraq, and the subsequent bloody years of occupation, as variously a “mistake”, a “misadventure” and a “blunder”. But surely it does not look that way to Moscow, all the more so given that Washington followed its invasion of Iraq with a series of proxy wars against other Middle Eastern and North African states such as Libya, Syria and Yemen.

To Russia, the attack on Iraq looks more like a stepping stone in a continuum of wars the US has waged over decades for “full-spectrum dominance” and to eradicate competitors for control of the planet’s resources.

With that as the context, Moscow might have reasonably imagined that the US and its Nato allies were eager for yet another proxy war, this time using Ukraine as the battlefield. Recent comments from Biden administration officials, such as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, noting that Washington’s tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Kyiv is intended to “weaken Russia”, can only accentuate such fears.

Back in March, Leon Panetta, a former US secretary of defence and the CIA director under Barack Obama, who is in a position to speak more freely than serving officials, observed that Washington was waging “a proxy war with Russia, whether we say so or not”.

He predicted where US policy would head next, noting that the aim would be “to provide as much military aid as necessary”. Diplomacy has been a glaringly low priority for Washington.

Barely concealed from public view is a desire in the US and its allies for another regime change operation – this time in Russia – rather than end the war and the suffering of Ukrainians.

Butcher versus blunderer

Last week, the New York Times very belatedly turned down the war rhetoric a notch and called on the Biden administration to advance negotiations. Even so, its assessment of where the blame lay for Ukraine’s destruction was unambiguous: “Mr Putin will go down in history as a butcher.”

But have Bush or Blair gone down in history as butchers? They most certainly haven’t. And the reason is that the western media have been complicit in rehabilitating their images, presenting them as statesmen who “blundered” – with the implication that good people blunder when they fail to take account of how entrenched the evil of everyone else in the world is.

A butcher versus a pair of blunderers.

This false distinction means western leaders and western publics continue to evade responsibility for western crimes in Iraq and elsewhere.

That was why in late February – in reference to Ukraine – a TV journalist could suggest to Condoleezza Rice, who was one of the architects of the illegal war of aggression on Iraq as Bush’s national security adviser: “When you invade a sovereign nation, that is a war crime.” The journalist apparently did not consider for a moment that it was not just Putin who was a war criminal but the very woman she was sitting opposite.

It was also why Rice could nod solemnly and agree with a straight face that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was “against every principle of international law and international order – and that’s why throwing the book at them [Russia] now in terms of economic sanctions and punishments is a part of it”.

But a West that has refused to come to terms with its role in committing the “supreme international crime” of invading Iraq, and has been supporting systematic crimes against the sovereignty of other states such as Yemen, Libya and Syria, cannot sit in judgment on Russia. And further, it should not be trying to take the high ground by meddling in the war in Ukraine.

If we took the implications of Bush’s comment seriously, rather than treating it as a “gaffe” and viewing the Iraq invasion as a “blunder”, we might be in a position to speak with moral authority instead of flaunting – once again – our hypocrisy.

First published in Middle East Eye

The post Russia-Ukraine war: George Bush’s admission of his crimes in Iraq was no “gaffe” first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Can Israel Exist without America: Numbers Speaks of a Changing Reality 

When Russian and Ukrainian delegations meeting in Turkey on March 29 reached an initial understanding regarding a list of countries that could serve as security guarantors for Kyiv should an agreement be struck, Israel appeared on the list. The other countries included the US, the UK, China, Russia, France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy and Poland.

One may explain Israel’s political significance to the Russian-Ukrainian talks based on Tel Aviv’s strong ties with Kyiv, as opposed to Russia’s trust in Israel. This is insufficient to rationalize how Israel has managed to acquire relevance in an international conflict, arguably the most serious since World War II.

Immediately following the start of the war, Israeli officials began to circumnavigate the globe, shuttling between many countries that are directly or even nominally involved in the conflict. Israeli President Isaac Herzog flew to Istanbul to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The outcome of this meeting could usher in “a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel,” Erdogan said.

Though “Israel is proceeding cautiously with Turkey,” Lavan Karkov wrote in the Jerusalem Post, Herzog hopes that “his meeting with .. Erdogan is starting a positive process toward improved relations.” The ‘improved relations’ are not concerned with the fate of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation and siege, but with a gas pipeline connecting Israel’s Leviathan offshore gas field in the eastern Mediterranean, to southern Europe via Turkey.

This project will improve Israel’s geopolitical status in the Middle East and Europe. The political leverage of being a primary gas supplier to Europe would allow Israel even stronger influence over the continent and will certainly tone down any future criticism of Tel Aviv by Ankara.

That was only one of many such Israeli overtures. Tel Aviv’s diplomatic flurry included a top-level meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and a succession of visits by top European, American, Arab and other officials to Israel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel on March 26 and was expected to put some pressure on Israel to join the US-led western sanctions on Russia. Little of that has transpired. The greatest rebuke came from Under-Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, when, on March 11, she called on Israel not to become “the last haven for dirty money that’s fueling Putin’s wars”.

For years, Israel had hoped to free itself from its disproportionate reliance on Washington. This dependency took on many forms: financial and military assistance, political backing, diplomatic cover and more. According to Chuck Freilich, writing in Newsweek, “by the end of the ten-year military-aid package  agreed (between Washington and Tel Aviv) for 2019-28, the total figure (of US aid to Israel) will be nearly $170bn.”

Many Palestinians and others believe that, if the US ceases to support Israel, the latter would simply collapse. However, this might not be the case, at least not in theory. Writing in March 2021 in the New York Times, Max Fisher estimated that US aid to Israel in 1981 “was equivalent to almost 10 percent of Israel’s economy,” while in 2020, the nearly $4 billion of US aid was “closer to 1 percent.”

Still, this 1 percent is vital for Israel, as much of the funds are funneled to the Israeli military which, in turn, converts them to weapons that are routinely used against Palestinians and other Arab countries. Israeli military technology of today is far more developed than it was 40 years ago. Figures by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) place Israel as the world’s eighth-largest military exporter between 2016-2020, with an estimated export value of $8.3 billion in 2020 alone. These numbers continue to grow as Israeli military hardware is increasingly incorporated into many security apparatuses across the world, including the US, the EU and also in the Global South.

Much of this discussion is rooted in a document from 1996, entitled: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. The document was authored by Richard Perle, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense, jointly with top leaders in the neoconservative movement in Washington. The target audience of that research was none other than Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then the newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister.

Aside from the document’s detailed instructions on how Israel can use some of its Arab neighbors, in addition to Turkey, to weaken and ‘roll back’ hostile governments, it also made significant references to future relations Tel Aviv should aspire to develop with Washington.

Perle urged Israel to “make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality – not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes.” This new, ‘self-reliant Israel’ “does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it.” Ultimately, such self-reliance “will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past.”

An example is Israel’s relations with China. In 2013, Washington was outraged when Israel sold secret missile and electro-optic US technology to China. Quickly, Tel Aviv was forced to retreat. The controversy subsided when the head of defense experts at the Israeli Defense Ministry was removed. Eight years on, despite US protests and demands that Israel must not allow China to operate the Israeli Haifa port due to Washington’s security concerns, the port was officially initiated in September 2021.

Israel’s regional and international strategy seems to be advancing in multiple directions, some of them directly opposing those of Washington. Yet, thanks to continued Israeli influence in the US Congress, Washington does little to hold Israel accountable. Meanwhile, now that Israel is fully aware that the US has changed its political attitude in the Middle East and is moving in the direction of the Pacific region and Eastern Europe, Tel Aviv’s ‘clean break’ strategy is moving faster than ever before. However, this comes with risks. Though Israel is stronger now, its neighbors are also getting stronger.

Hence, it is critical that Palestinians understand that Israel’s survival is no longer linked to the US, at least not as intrinsically as in the past. Therefore, the fight against Israeli occupation and apartheid can no longer be disproportionately focused on breaking up the ‘special relationship’ that united Tel Aviv and Washington for over 50 years. Israel’s ‘independence’ from the US entails risks and opportunities that must be considered in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.

The post Can Israel Exist without America: Numbers Speaks of a Changing Reality  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fabricating Putin Quotes and Banning Paraplegic Athletes to Undermine Russia

Mobilizing a population to vilify and hate a targeted enemy is a tactic that leaders have used since before the dawn of human history, and it is being used to demonize Russia and Vladimir Putin in the current conflict. If we want to join the march to war, we can join the hate fest.  But if we want a more objective and honest assessment of events, we must rely upon facts that our government and its cheer-leading mainstream media are not anxious for us to view.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,  all things Russian are being punished. Russian athletes, including paraplegics, are barred from international sports competition. Century old Russian writers and musicians such as Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky are being removed from book shelves and concerts. Even Russian bred cats are not exempt.

If such actions are justified, why was there no such banning of US athletes, musicians or writers after the US invasion of Iraq?  Moreover, why are so few people outraged by the bombing and killing of 370,000 Yemeni people?  Why are so few people outraged as thousands of Afghans starve because the United States is seizing Afghanistan’s national assets which were in western banks?

Why Ukraine?

There has been massive and widespread publicity about Ukraine. It is a simple Hollywood script:  Ukraine is the angel, Russia is the devil, Zelensky is the hero and all good people will wear blue and yellow ribbons.

Maintaining this image requires propaganda to promote it, and censorship to prevent challengers debunking it.

This has required trashing some long held western traditions. By banning all Russian athletes from international competition, the International Olympic Committee and different athletic federations have violated the Olympic Charter which prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality.

Censorship

The West prides itself on free speech yet censorship of alternative viewpoints is now widespread in Europe and North America.  Russia Today and other Russian media outlets are being blocked on the internet as well as cable TV.  Ironically,  numerous programs on RT were hosted by Americans, for example journalist Chris Hedges and comedian Lee Camp.  The US is silencing its own citizens.

Censorship or shadow banning is widespread on social media. On April 6, one of the best informed military analysts, Scott Ritter @realScottRitter, was suspended from Twitter. Why?  Because he  suggested that the victims of Bucha may have been murdered not by Russians, but rather by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and the US and UK may also be culpable.

The 2015 Netflix documentary titled “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” deals with the Maidan (Kiev central square) uprising of 2013-2014.  It ignores the most essential elements of the events: the management provided by the US  and the muscle provided by ultra-nationalists of the Right Sector and Azov Battalion. The attacks and killing of Ukrainian police are whitewashed away.

By contrast, the 2016 documentary “Ukraine on Fire provides the background and essential elements of the conflict.  It is not available on Netflix and was banned from distribution on YouTube for some time.

Most people in the West are unaware of the US involvement in the 2014 Kiev coup, subsequent US funding and training of ultra-nationalist and Neo Nazi battalions, and the eight year war in eastern Ukraine resulting in fourteen thousand deaths.

Sensational Accusations

Backed by US and UK intelligence agencies, Ukraine knows the importance of the information war. They make sensational accusations that receive uncritical media coverage. When the truth eventually comes out, it is ignored or buried on the back pages. Here are a few examples:

– In 2014,  eleven civilians were killed in eastern Ukraine when an apartment was hit in rebel held territory.  Ukraine tried to blame Russia even though no bombs were coming from Russia and the population is ethnically Russian.

– At the beginning of the current conflict, Ukrainian President Zelensky claimed that soldiers on Snake Island died heroically rather than surrender. Actually, all the soldiers surrendered.

– Ukraine and western media claim a maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed by Russia. Evidence shows the hospital was taken over by Ukrainian military forces on March 7, two days before the bombing on March 9.

– The latest sensational accusations are regarding dead civilians in Bucha,  north of Kiev. Again, there is much contrary evidence. The Russian soldiers left Bucha on March 31, the mayor of Bucha announced the town liberated with no mention of atrocities on March 31, the Azov battalion entered Bucha on April 1,  the Ukrainian Defense Ministry published video of  “Russian” atrocities on April 3.

In most cases, western media does not probe the accusations or use simple logic to ask if they make sense.  However, in the case of Bucha story, the NY Times had to acknowledge they were “unable to independently verify the assertions by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.”

Self Censorship

In addition to actual censorship, there is widespread self-censorship. Instead of reading what the Russians are saying, western political “analysts” engage in outlandish amateur psychology and speculation. With no factual basis, they speculate about what Putin wants and his mental state.

This is convenient if one does not want to deal with the real issues and arguments.

Most western analysts and journalists are afraid or unwilling to read or listen to what the Russian leaders say. That is unfortunate because those speeches are more clear and direct than those from western politicians who rely on public relations, spin and platitudes.

Fabricating quotes

Ignorance of Russian foreign policy is such that Truthout online magazine recently published an article which contains a sensational but completely invented quote from Putin. It says,

Putin here is clear enough: “Ukraine has no national rights that Russians are bound to respect. Prepare for reunification, reabsorption, or some other euphemism for subaltern status with Mother Russia.”

Putin said no such thing and any moderately knowledgeable person would recognize this to be fake.

When I emailed the co-author, Carl Davidson, asking where the quotation came from, he admitted inventing it. This is significant because the statement goes to the core of what the conflict is about. Is Russia trying to absorb all of Ukraine? Do they intend to occupy Ukraine?  Anyone who reads the speeches of Putin and Lavrov, such as here, here and here,  knows they do not. Davidson’s fabricated quote suggests he has not read the speeches himself.

Ukraine in the Global Context

The article with the made-up quote contends that “Putin is part of a global right-wing authoritarian movements that seeks to ‘overthrow’ the 20th Century.” This analysis is close to that of the US Democratic Party, which sees the major global division being between “authoritarianism” vs “democracy”.

It is highly US-centered and partisan, with Putin somehow lumped with Trump. It  is also self-serving, with US Democrats as the embodiment of “democracy”.  It is completely contrary to a class analysis.

This faulty analysis has major contradictions. It is well known that Biden is unpopular. Biden’s latest approval rating is under 42%. It is less well known in the West that Putin is popular in Russia. Since the intervention in Ukraine his approval rating has increased to over 80%.

Also largely unknown in the West, most of the world does NOT support the Western analysis of the Ukraine conflict.  Countries representing 59% of the global population abstained or voted against the condemnation of Russia at the UN General Assembly. These countries tend to see US exceptionalism and economic-military domination as a key problem. They do not think it helpful to demonize Russia and they urge negotiations and quick resolution to the Ukraine war.

Cuba said:

History will hold the United States accountable for the consequences of an increasingly offensive military doctrine beyond NATO’s borders which threatens international peace, security and stability…. Russia has the right to defend itself.

South African President Ramaphosa blamed NATO saying:

The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less, instability in the region.

The Chinese representative said:

The final settlement of the Ukraine crisis requires abandoning the Cold War mentality, abandoning the logic of ensuring one’s own security at the expense of others’ security, and abandoning the approach of seeking regional security by expanding military bloc.

Many western anti-war movements are critical of Russia’s invasion. Others, such as the US Peace Council, see the US and NATO as largely responsible. However, they all see the necessity of pressing to stop the war before it gets worse.

In contrast, the western military-industrial-media complex is fueling the war with propaganda, censorship, banning, demonization and more weapons. It appears they do not want a resolution to the conflict. Just as they supported NATO pushing up against Russia, knowing that it risked provoking Russia to the point of retaliation, they seem to be pushing for a protracted bloody conflict in Ukraine, knowing that it risks global conflagration.  Yet they persist, while crying crocodile tears.

The post Fabricating Putin Quotes and Banning Paraplegic Athletes to Undermine Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Is Europe Really More Civilized? Ukraine Conflict a Platform for Racism and Rewriting History

When a gruesome six-minute video of Ukrainian soldiers shooting and torturing handcuffed and tied up Russian soldiers circulated online, outraged people on social media and elsewhere compared this barbaric behavior to that of Daesh.

In a rare admission of moral responsibility, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian President, quickly reminded Ukrainian fighters of their responsibility under international law. “I would like to remind all our military, civilian and defense forces, once again, that the abuse of prisoners is a war crime that has no amnesty under military law and has no statute of limitations,” he said, asserting that “We are a European army”, as if the latter is synonymous with civilized behavior.

Even that supposed claim of responsibility conveyed subtle racism, as if to suggest that non-westerners, non-Europeans, may carry out such grisly and cowardly violence, but certainly not the more rational, humane and intellectually superior Europeans.

The comment, though less obvious, reminds one of the racist remarks by CBS’ foreign correspondent, Charlie D’Agata, on February 26, when he shamelessly compared Middle Eastern cities with the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, stating that “Unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, (…) this is a relatively civilized, relatively European city”.

The Russia-Ukraine war has been a stage of racist comments and behavior, some explicit and obvious, others implicit and indirect. Far from being implicit, however, Bulgarian Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, did not mince words when, last February, he addressed the issue of Ukrainian refugees. Europe can benefit from Ukrainian refugees, he said, because “these people are Europeans. (…) These people are intelligent, they are educated people. This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists.”

One of many other telling episodes that highlight western racism, but also continued denial of its grim reality, was an interview conducted by the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, with the Ukrainian Azov Battalion Commander, Dmytro Kuharchuck. The latter’s militia is known for its far-right politics, outright racism and horrific acts of violence. Yet, the newspaper described Kuharchuck as “the kind of fighter you don’t expect. He reads Kant and he doesn’t only use his bazooka.” If this is not the very definition of denial, what is?

That said, our proud European friends must be careful before supplanting the word ‘European’ with ‘civilization’ and respect for human rights. They ought not to forget their past or rewrite their history because, after all, racially-based slavery is a European and western brand. The slave trade, as a result of which millions of slaves were shipped from Africa during the course of four centuries, was very much European. According to Encyclopedia Virginia, 1.8 million people “died on the Middle Passage of the transatlantic slave trade”. Other estimations put the number much higher.

Colonialism is another European quality. Starting in the 15th century, and lasting for centuries afterward, colonialism ravaged the entire Global South. Unlike the slave trade, colonialism enslaved entire peoples and divided whole continents, like Africa, among European spheres of influence.

The nation of Congo was literally owned by one person, Belgian King Leopold II. India was effectively controlled and colonized by the British East India Company and, later, by the British government. The fate of South America was largely determined by the US-imposed Monroe Doctrines of 1823. For nearly 200 years, this continent has paid – and continues to pay – an extremely heavy price of US colonialism and neocolonialism. No numbers or figures can possibly express the destruction and death toll inflicted by Western-European colonialism on the rest of the world, simply because the victims are still being counted. But for the sake of illustration, according to American historian, Adam Hochschild, ten million people have died in Congo alone from 1885 to 1908.

And how can we forget that World War I and II are also entirely European, leaving behind around 40 million and 75 million dead, respectively. (Other estimations are significantly higher). The gruesomeness of these European wars can only be compared to the atrocities committed, also by Europeans, throughout the South, for hundreds of years prior.

Mere months after The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949, the eager western partners were quick to flex their muscles in Korea in 1950, instigating a war that lasted for three years, resulting in the death of nearly 5 million people. The Korean war, like many other NATO-instigated conflicts, remains an unhealed wound to this day.

The list goes on and on, from the disgraceful Opium Wars on China, starting in 1839, to the nuclear bombings of Japan in 1945, to the destruction of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, in 1954, 1959 and 1970 respectively, to the political meddling, military interventions and regime change in numerous countries around the world. They are all the work of the West, of the US and its ever-willing ‘European partners’, all done in the name of spreading democracy, freedom and human rights.

If it were not for the Europeans, Palestine would have gained its independence decades ago, and its people, this writer included, would have not been made refugees, suffering under the yoke of Zionist Israel. If it were not for the US and the Europeans, Iraq would have remained a sovereign country and millions of lives would have been spared in one of the world’s oldest civilizations; and Afghanistan would have not endured this untold hardship. Even when the US and its European friends finally relented and left Afghanistan last year, they continue to hold the country hostage, by blocking the release of its funds, leading to actual starvation among the people of that war-torn country.

So before bragging about the virtues of Europe, and the demeaning of everyone else, the likes of Arestovych, D’Agata, and Petkov should take a look at themselves in the mirror and reconsider their unsubstantiated ethnocentric view of the world and of history. In fact, if anyone deserves bragging rights it is those colonized nations that resisted colonialism, the slaves that fought for their freedom, and the oppressed nations that resisted their European oppressors, despite the pain and suffering that such struggles entailed.

Sadly, for Europe, however, instead of using the Russia-Ukraine war as an opportunity to reflect on the future of the European project, whatever that is, it is being used as an opportunity to score cheap points against the very victims of Europe everywhere. Once more, valuable lessons remain unlearned.

The post Is Europe Really More Civilized? Ukraine Conflict a Platform for Racism and Rewriting History first appeared on Dissident Voice.

From Korea to Libya: On the Future of Ukraine and NATO’s Neverending Wars

Much has been said and written about media bias and double standards in the West’s response to the Russia-Ukraine war, when compared with other wars and military conflicts across the world, especially in the Middle East and the Global South. Less obvious is how such hypocrisy is a reflection of a much larger phenomenon which governs the West’s relationship to war and conflict zones.

On March 19, Iraq commemorated the 19th anniversary of the US invasion which killed, according to modest estimates, over a million Iraqis. The consequences of that war were equally devastating as it destabilized the entire Middle East region, leading to various civil and proxy wars. The Arab world is reeling under that horrific experience to this day.

Also, on March 19, the eleventh anniversary of the NATO war on Libya was commemorated and followed, five days later, by the 23rd anniversary of the NATO war on Yugoslavia. Like every NATO-led war since the inception of the alliance in 1949, these wars resulted in widespread devastation and tragic death tolls.

None of these wars, starting with the NATO intervention in the Korean Peninsula in 1950, have stabilized any of the warring regions. Iraq is still as vulnerable to terrorism and outside military interventions and, in many ways, remains an occupied country. Libya is divided among various warring camps, and a return to civil war remains a real possibility.

Yet, enthusiasm for war remains high, as if over seventy years of failed military interventions have not taught us any meaningful lessons. Daily, news headlines tell us that the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Spain or some other western power have decided to ship a new kind of ‘lethal weapons’ to Ukraine. Billions of dollars have already been allocated by Western countries to contribute to the war in Ukraine.

In contrast, very little has been done to offer platforms for diplomatic, non-violent solutions. A handful of countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have offered mediation or insisted on a diplomatic solution to the war, arguing, as China’s foreign ministry reiterated on March 18, that “all sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace”.

Though the violation of the sovereignty of any country is illegal under international law, and is a stark violation of the United Nations Charter, this does not mean that the only solution to violence is counter-violence. This cannot be truer in the case of Russia and Ukraine, as a state of civil war has existed in Eastern Ukraine for eight years, harvesting thousands of lives and depriving whole communities from any sense of peace or security. NATO’s weapons cannot possibly address the root causes of this communal struggle. On the contrary, they can only fuel it further.

If more weapons were the answer, the conflict would have been resolved years ago. According to the BBC, the US has already allocated $2.7bn to Ukraine over the last eight years, long before the current war. This massive arsenal included “anti-tank and anti-armor weapons … US-made sniper (rifles), ammunition and accessories”.

The speed with which additional military aid has poured into Ukraine following the Russian military operations on February 24 is unprecedented in modern history. This raises not only political or legal questions, but moral questions as well – the eagerness to fund war and the lack of enthusiasm to help countries rebuild.

After 21 years of US war and invasion of Afghanistan, resulting in a humanitarian and refugee crisis, Kabul is now largely left on its own. Last September, the UN refugee agency warned that “a major humanitarian crisis is looming in Afghanistan”, yet nothing has been done to address this ‘looming’ crisis, which has greatly worsened since then.

Afghani refugees are rarely welcomed in Europe. The same is true for refugees coming from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Mali and other conflicts that directly or indirectly involved NATO. This hypocrisy is accentuated when we consider international initiatives that aim to support war refugees, or rebuild the economies of war-torn nations.

Compare the lack of enthusiasm in supporting war-torn nations with the West’s unparalleled euphoria in providing weapons to Ukraine. Sadly, it will not be long before the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have left their country in recent weeks become a burden on Europe, thus subjected to the same kind of mainstream criticism and far-right attacks.

While it is true that the West’s attitude towards Ukraine is different from its attitude towards victims of western interventions, one has to be careful before supposing that the ‘privileged’ Ukrainains will ultimately be better off than the victims of war throughout the Middle East. As the war drags on, Ukraine will continue to suffer, either the direct impact of the war or the collective trauma that will surely follow. The amassing of NATO weapons in Ukraine, as was the case of Libya, will likely backfire. In Libya, NATO’s weapons fueled the country’s  decade long civil war.

Ukraine needs peace and security, not perpetual war that is designed to serve the strategic interests of certain countries or military alliances. Though military invasions must be wholly rejected, whether in Iraq or Ukraine, turning Ukraine into another convenient zone of perpetual geopolitical struggle between NATO and Russia is not the answer.

The post From Korea to Libya: On the Future of Ukraine and NATO’s Neverending Wars first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestine is a Loud Echo of Britain’s Colonial Past and a Warning of the Future

[This is the transcript of a talk I gave to Bath Friends of Palestine on 25 February 2022.]

Since I arrived with my family in the UK last summer, I have been repeatedly asked: “Why choose Bristol as your new home?”

Well, it certainly wasn’t for the weather. Now more than ever I miss Nazareth’s warmth and sunshine.

It wasn’t for the food either.

My family do have a minor connection to Bristol. My great-grandparents on my mother’s side (one from Cornwall, the other from South Wales) apparently met in Bristol – a coincidental stopping point on their separate journeys to London. They married and started a family whose line led to me.

But that distant link wasn’t the reason for coming to Bristol either.

In fact, it was only in Nazareth that Bristol began occupying a more prominent place in my family’s life.

When I was not doing journalism, I spent many years leading political tours of the Galilee, while my wife, Sally, hosted and fed many of the participants in her cultural café in Nazareth, called Liwan.

It was soon clear that a disproportionate number of our guests hailed from Bristol and the south-west. Some of you here tonight may have been among them.

But my world – like everyone else’s – started to shrink as the pandemic took hold in early 2020. As we lost visitors and the chance to directly engage with them about Palestine, Bristol began to reach out to me.

Toppled statue

It did so just as Sally and I were beginning discussions about whether it was time to leave Nazareth – 20 years after I had arrived – and head to the UK.

Even from thousands of miles away, a momentous event – the sound of Edward Colston’s statue being toppled – reverberated loudly with me.

Ordinary people had decided they were no longer willing to be forced to venerate a slave trader, one of the most conspicious criminals of Britain’s colonial past. Even if briefly, the people of Bristol took back control of their city’s public space for themselves, and for humanity.

In doing so, they firmly thrust Britain’s sordid past – the unexamined background to most of our lives – into the light of day. It is because of their defiance that buildings and institutions that for centuries bore Colston’s name as a badge of honour are finally being forced to confront that past and make amends.

Bath, of course, was built no less on the profits of the slave trade. When visitors come to Bath simply to admire its grand Georgian architecture, its Royal Crescent, we assent – if only through ignorance – to the crimes that paid for all that splendour.

Weeks after the Colston statue was toppled, Bristol made headlines again. Crowds protested efforts to transfer yet more powers to the police to curb our already savagely diminished right to protest – the most fundamental of all democratic rights. Bristol made more noise against that bill than possibly anywhere else in the UK.

I ended up writing about both events from Nazareth.

Blind to history

Since my arrival, old and new friends alike have started to educate me about Bristol. Early on I attended a slavery tour in the city centre – one that connected those historic crimes with the current troubles faced by asylum seekers in Bristol, even as Bristol lays claim to the title of “city of sanctuary”.

For once I was being guided rather than the guide, the pupil rather than the teacher – so long my role on those tours in and around Nazareth. And I could not but help notice, as we wandered through Bristol’s streets, echoes of my own tours.

Over the years I have taken many hundreds of groups around the ruins of Saffuriya, one of the largest of the Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel in its ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948, the Nakba or Catastrophe.

What disturbed me most in Saffuriya was how blind its new inhabitants were to the very recent history of the place they call home.

New Jewish immigrants were moved on to the lands of Saffuriya weeks after the Israeli army destroyed the village and chased out the native Palestinian population at gunpoint. A new community built in its place was given a similar Hebrew name, Tzipori. These events were repeated across historic Palestine. Hundreds of villages were razed, and 80 per cent of the Palestinian population were expelled from what became the new state of Israel.

Troubling clues

Even today, evidence of the crimes committed in the name of these newcomers is visible everywhere. The hillsides are littered with the rubble of the hundreds of Palestinian homes that were levelled by the new Israeli army to stop their residents from returning. And there are neglected grave-stones all around – pointers to the community that was disappeared.

And yet almost no one in Jewish Tzipori asks questions about the remnants of Palestinian Saffuriya, about these clues to a troubling past. Brainwashed by reassuring state narratives, they have averted their gaze for fear of what might become visible if they looked any closer.

Tzipori’s residents never ask why there are only Jews like themselves allowed in their community, when half of the population in the surrounding area of the Galilee are Palestinian by heritage.

Instead, the people of Tzipori misleadingly refer to their Palestinian neighbours – forced to live apart from them as second and third-class citizens of a self-declared Jewish state – as “Israeli Arabs”. The purpose is to obscure, both to themselves and the outside world, the connection of these so-called Arabs to the Palestinian people.

To acknowledge the crimes Tzipori has inflicted on Saffuriya would also be to acknowledge a bigger story: of the crimes inflicted by Israel on the Palestinian people as a whole.

Shroud of silence

Most of us in Britain do something very similar.

In young Israel, Jews still venerate the criminals of their recent past because they and their loved ones are so intimately and freshly implicated in the crimes.

In Britain, with its much longer colonial past, the same result is often achieved not, as in Israel, through open cheerleading and glorification – though there is some of that too – but chiefly through a complicit silence. Colston surveyed his city from up on his plinth. He stood above us, superior, paternal, authoritative. His crimes did not need denying because they had been effectively shrouded in silence.

Until Colston was toppled, slavery for most Britons was entirely absent from the narrative of Britain’s past – it was something to do with racist plantation owners in the United States’ Deep South more than a century ago. It was an issue we thought about only when Hollywood raised it.

After the Colston statue came down, he became an exhibit – flat on his back – in Bristol’s harbourside museum, the M Shed. His black robes had been smeared with red paint, and scuffed and grazed from being dragged through the streets. He became a relic of the past, and one denied his grandeur. We were able to observe him variously with curiousity, contempt or amusement.

Those are far better responses than reverence or silence. But they are not enough. Because Colston isn’t just a relic. He is a living, breathing reminder that we are still complicit in colonial crimes, even if now they are invariably better disguised.

Nowadays, we usually interfere in the name of fiscal responsibility or humanitarianism, rather than the white man’s burden.

We return to the countries we formerly colonised and asset-stripped, and drive them back into permanent debt slavery through western-controlled monetary agencies like the IMF.

Or in the case of those that refuse to submit, we more often than not invade or subvert them – countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Iran – tearing apart the colonial fabric we imposed on them, wrecking their societies in ways that invariably lead to mass death and the dispersion of the population.

We have supplied the bombs and planes to Saudi Arabia that are killing untold numbers of civilians in Yemen. We funded and trained the Islamic extremists who terrorise and behead civilians in Syria. The list is too long for me to recount here.

Right now, we see the consequences of the west’s neo-colonialism – and a predictable countervailing reaction, in the resurgence of a Russian nationalism that President Putin has harnessed to his own ends – in NATO’s relentless, decades-long expansion towards Russia’s borders.

And of course, we are still deeply invested in the settler colonial project of Israel, and the crimes it systematically inflicts on the Palestinian people.

Divine plan

Through the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Britain gave licence for the creation of a militarised ethnic, Jewish state in the Middle East. Later, we helped supply it with atomic material in the full knowledge that Israel would build nuclear bombs. We gave Israel diplomatic cover so that it could evade its obligations under the international treaty to stop nuclear proliferation and become the only nuclear power in the region. We have had Israel’s back through more than five decades of occupation and illegal settlement building.

And significantly, we have endlessly indulged Zionism as it has evolved from its sordid origins nearly two centuries ago, as an antisemitic movement among fundamentalist Christians. Those Christian Zonists – who at the time served as the power brokers in European governments like Britain’s – viewed Jews as mere instruments in a divine plan.

According to this plan, Jews were to be denied the chance to properly integrate into the countries to which they assumed they belonged.

Instead the Christian Zionists wanted to herd Jews into an imagined ancient, Biblical land of Israel, to speed up the arrival of the end times, when mankind would be judged and only good Christians would rise up to be with God.

Until Hitler took this western antisemitism to another level, few Jews subscribed to the idea that they were doomed forever to be a people apart, that their fate was inextricably tied to a small piece of territory in a far-off region they had never visited, and that their political allies should be millenarian racists.

But after the Holocaust, things changed. Christian Zionists looked like much kinder antisemites than the exterminationist Nazis. Christian Zionism won by default and was reborn as Jewish Zionism, claiming to be a national liberation movement rather than the dregs of a white European nationalism Hitler had intensified.

Today, we are presented with polls showing that most British Jews subscribe to the ugly ideas of Zionism – ideas their great-great-grandparents abhorred. Jews who dissent, who believe that we are all the same, that we all share a common fate as humans not as tribes, are ignored or dismissed as self-haters. In an inversion of reality these humanist Jews, rather than Jewish Zionists, are seen as the pawns of the antisemites.

Perverse ideology

Zionism as a political movement is so pampered, so embedded within European and American political establishments that those Jews who rally behind this ethnic nationalism no longer consider their beliefs to be abnormal or abhorrent – as their views would have been judged by most Jews only a few generations ago.

No, today Jewish Zionists think of their views as so self-evident, so vitally important to Jewish self-preservation that anyone who opposes them must be either a self-hating Jew or an antisemite.

And because non-Jews so little understand their own culpability in fomenting this perverse ideology of Jewish Zionism, we join in the ritual defaming of those brave Jews who point out how far we have stepped through the looking glass.

As a result, we unthinkingly give our backing to the Zionists as they weaponise antisemitism against those – Jews and non-Jews alike – who stand in solidarity with the native Palestinian people so long oppressed by western colonialism.

Thoughtlessly, too many of us have drifted once again into a sympathy for the oppressor – this time, Zonism’s barely veiled anti-Palestinian racism.

Nonetheless, our attitudes towards modern Israel, given British history, can be complex. On the one hand, there are good reasons to avert our gaze. Israel’s crimes today are an echo and reminder of our own crimes yesterday. Western governments subsidise Israel’s crimes through trade agreements, they provide the weapons for Israel to commit those crimes, and they profit from the new arms and cyber-weapons Israel has developed by testing them out on Palestinians. Like the now-defunct apartheid South Africa, Israel is a central ally in the west’s neo-colonialism.

So, yes, Israel is tied to us by an umbilical cord. We are its parent. But at the same time it is also not exactly like us either – more a bastard progeny. And that difference, that distance can help us gain a little perspective on ourselves. It can make Israel a teaching aid. An eye-opener. A place that can bring clarity, elucidate not only what Israel is doing but what countries like Britain have done and are still doing to this day.

Trade in bodies

The difference between Britain and Israel is to be found in the distinction between a colonial and a settler-colonial state.

Britain is a classic example of the former. It sent the entitled sons of its elite private schools, men like Colston, to parts of the globe rich in resources in order to steal those resources and bring the wealth back to the motherland to further enrich the establishment. That was the purpose of the tea and sugar plantations.

But it was not just a trade in inanimate objects. Britain also traded in bodies – mostly black bodies. Labour and muscle were a resource as vital to the British empire as silk and saffron.

The trafficking in goods and people lasted more than four centuries until liberation movements among the native populations began to throw off – at least partially – the yoke of British and European colonialism. The story since the Second World War has been one of Europe and the United States’ efforts to reinvent colonialism, conducting their rape and pillage at a distance, through the hands of others.

This is the dissembling, modern brand of colonialism: a “humanitarian” neocolonialism we should by now be familiar with. Global corporations, monetary
agencies like the IMF and the military alliance of NATO have each played a key role in the reinvention of colonialism – as has Israel.

Elimination strategies

Israel inherited Britain’s colonial tradition, and permanently adopted many of its emergency orders for use against the Palestinians. Like traditional colonialism, settler colonialism is determined to appropriate the resources of the natives. But it does so in an even more conspicuous, uncompromising way. It does not just exploit the natives. It seeks to replace or eliminate them. That way, they can never be in a position to liberate themselves and their homeland.

There is nothing new about this approach. It was adopted by European colonists across much of the globe: in North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as belatedly in the Middle East.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the settler colonial strategy, as Israel illustrates only too clearly. In their struggle to replace the natives, Israel’s settlers had to craft a narrative – a rationalisation – that they were the victims rather than the victimisers. They were, of course, fleeing persecution in Europe, but only to become persecutors themselves outside Europe. They were supposedly in a battle for survival against those they came to replace, the Palestinians. The natives were cast as irredeemably, and irrationally, hostile. God was invoked, more or less explicitly.

In the Zionist story, the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians – the Nakba – becomes a War of Independence, celebrated to this day. The Zionist colonisers thereby transformed themselves into another national liberation movement, like the ones in Africa that were fighting after the Second World War for independence. Israel claimed to be fighting oppressive British rule, as Africans were, rather than inheriting the colonisers’ mantle.

But there is a disadvantage for settler colonial projects too, especially in an era of better communications. In a time of more democratic media, as we are currently enjoying – even if briefly – the colonisers’ elimination strategies are much harder to veil or airbrush. The ugliness is on show. The reality of the oppression is more visceral, more obviously offensive.

Apartheid named

The settlers’ elimination strategies are limited in number, and difficult to conceal whichever is adopted. In the United States, elimination took the form of genocide – the simplest and neatest of settler-colonialism’s solutions.

In the post-war era of human rights, however, Israel was denied that route. It adopted settler colonialism’s fall-back position: mass expulsion, or ethnic cleansing. Some 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and outside the new borders of Israel in 1948.

But genocide and ethnic cleansing are invariably projects that cannot be completed. Some 90 per cent of Native Americans died from the violence and diseases brought by European incomers, but a small proportion survived. In South Africa, the white immigrants lacked the numbers and capacity either to eradicate the native population or to exploit such a vast territory.

Israel managed to expel only 80 per cent of the Palestinians living inside its new borders before the international community called time. And then Israel sabotaged its initial success in 1948 by seizing yet more Palestinian territory – and more Palestinians – in 1967.

When settler populations cannot eradicate the native population completely, they must impose harsh, visible segregation policies against those that remain.

Resources and rights are differentiated on the basis of race or ethnicity. Such regimes institute apartheid – or as Israel calls its version “hafrada” – to maintain the privileges of their own, superior or chosen population.

Colonial mentality

Many decades on, human rights groups have finally named Israel’s apartheid. Amnesty International got round to it only this month – 74 years after the Nakba and 55 years after the occupation began.

It has taken so long because even our understanding of human rights continues to be shaped by a European colonial mentality. Human rights groups have documented Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians – the “what” of their oppression – but refused to understand the “why” of that oppression. These watchdogs did not truly listen to Palestinians. They listened to, they excused, Israel even as they were criticising it. They indulged its endless security rationales for its crimes against Palestinians.

The reluctance to name Israeli apartheid derives in large part from a reluctance to face our part in its creation. To identify Israel’s apartheid is to recognise both our role in sustaining it, and Israel’s crucial place in the west’s reinvented neocolonialism.

Being ‘offensive’

The difficulty of facing up to what Israel is and what it represents is, of course, particularly stark for many Jews – not only in Israel but in countries like Britain. Through no choice of their own, Jews are more deeply implicated in Israel’s crimes because those crimes are carried out in the name of all Jews. As a result, for Zionist Jews, protecting the settler colonial project of Israel is identical to protecting their own sense of virtue.

In the zero-sum imaginings of the Zionist movement, the stakes are too high to doubt or to equivocate. As Zionists, their duty is to support, dissemble and propagandise on Israel’s behalf at all costs.

Nowadays Zionism has become such a normalised part of our western culture that those who call themselves Zionists are appalled at the idea anyone could dare to point out that their ideology is rooted in an ugly ethnic nationalism and in apartheid. Those who make them feel uncomfortable by highlighting the reality of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – and their blindness to it – are accused of being “offensive”.

That supposed offensiveness is now conflated with antisemitism, as the treatment of Ken Loach, the respected film-maker of this parish, attests. Disgust at Israel’s racism towards Palestinians is malevolently confused with racism towards Jews. The truth is inverted.

This confusion has also become the basis for a new definition of antisemitism – one aggressively advanced by Israel and its apologists – designed to mislead casual onlookers. The more we, as anti-racists and opponents of colonialism, try to focus attention and opprobrium on Israel’s crimes, the more we are accused of covertly attacking Jews.

Into the fire

Arriving in the UK from Nazareth at this very moment is like stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Here the battle over Zionism – defining it, understanding it, confronting it, refusing to be silenced by it – is in full flood. The Labour party, under Jeremy Corbyn, was politically eviscerated by a redefined antisemitism. Now the party’s ranks are being purged by his successor, Sir Keir Starmer, on the same phony grounds.

Professors are being threatened and losing their jobs, as happened to David Miller at Bristol university, with the goal of intensifying pressure on the academy to keep silent about Israel and its lobbyists. Exhibitions are taken down, speakers cancelled.

And all the while, the current western obsession with redefining antisemitism – the latest cover story for apartheid Israel – moves us ever further from sensitivity to real racism, whether it be genuine prejudice against Jews or rampant Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism.

The fight for justice for Palestinians resonates with so many of us precisely because it is not simply a struggle to help Palestinians. It is a fight to end colonialism in all its forms, to end our inhumanity towards those we live alongside, to remember that we are all equally human and all equally entitled to respect and dignity.

The story of Palestine is a loud echo from our past. Maybe the loudest. If we cannot hear it, then we cannot learn – and we cannot take the first steps on the path towards real change.

The post Palestine is a Loud Echo of Britain’s Colonial Past and a Warning of the Future first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ukraine, Russia and the Sporting McCarthyites

The cultural vandals and iconoclasts have been busy of late, removing Russians from the stables at short notice and demanding what might be called a necessary affirmation of disloyalty.  It’s all good to talk about world peace and the resolution of disputes, but that will hardly do for the flag bearing choirs who have discovered their object of evil.  Do you hate Vladimir Putin?  If so, good.  Do you love freedom?  Well, of course, as everyone does with squeaking enthusiasm, even if they cannot define it.

The main interest is never in the second answer, but the first.  Putin must be condemned and banished from your conscience, your mind and history.  Ignore the fact that he is the elected leader of a country – he remains a tyrant to be condemned to liberal democratic execration.  Best go about punishing people innocent of this fact.

Such a cringeworthy approach has seduced and trapped some able minds over the years.  During the Cold War, the division of camps and ideologies demanded unthinking loyalty, not so much to truth but a version of it long lost in political drag and the hypocrisy of appearances.  On September 22, 1947, delegates from Communist parties across the European spectrum heard the infantile ravings of the main Soviet delegate Andrei Zhdanov, who suggested with nether clenching tediousness that the world was divided between the “imperialist and democratic camp”.  The US, allied with Great Britain and France, made up the former.  “The anti-fascist forces comprise the second camp”, rooted in the USSR and its various, anomalously named “new democracies.”

In the United States, divisions were also being marked by the mind ravaging nature of ideological conformism.  Executive Order 9835, issued by President Harry Truman, focused on whether “reasonable grounds exist for belief that the person involved is disloyal” with any organisation designated by the Attorney General to be “totalitarian, Fascist, Communist, or subversive”, or advocating or approving the forceful denial of constitutional rights to other persons or seeking “to alter the form of Government of the United States by unconstitutional means.”

The President’s Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty (TCEL), packed with representatives from six government departments overseen by Special Assistant to the Attorney General A. Devitt Vanech, dealt with assessing federal loyalty standards and developing procedures to expunge or disqualify “any disloyal of subversive person” from federal service.

In this atmosphere, the vulgar and coarse Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy operated, at least for a time, with pugnacious impunity, claiming in his infamous Wheeling, West Virginia speech that 57 communists had found their way into the US State Department. The House Un-American Activities Committee also worked aggressively to advance the spirit of demonisation, ruining careers and blackening reputations.  The stupid tend to linger in political accusation.

The Ukraine War is now making Russian citizens, at the behest of various quarters, undertake acts of purification in various foreign theatres.  They are being told to engage in crude demonstrations of loyalty (or, in some cases, disloyalty).  Admit you hate Putin, and you can attend a tournament to earn your crust.

UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has taken a keen interest in this daft effort, hoping to encourage the organisers of Wimbledon, the All England Law Tennis Club (AELTC) to take a more severe approach to players from “pariah states” as long as they do not include such angelic wonders as Saudi Arabia.  Before a select parliamentary committee, Huddleston noted that, “Many countries have agreed that they will not allow representatives from Russia to compete.  There are also visa issues as well.  When it comes to individuals, that is more complex.”

Complexity and Huddleston do not get along.  “We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try to get some assurances along those lines.”

Tennis player Daniil Medvedev and his colleagues are facing the prospect that not engaging in public denouncement of the Kremlin will be insufficient to enable them to compete.  They are already not permitted to compete under the Russian flag, and they are being told that a Russian winning Wimbledon would be unpardonable for the glorious British tournament.  Their country has already been banned from competing in team events such as the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King tournaments.

Across the sporting world, players from Russia now see their country barred by the International Ski Federation, Formula One, hosting the European Champions League Final, the indefensibly boring European curling championships and the International Biathlon Union.

Such expectations are so extreme as to remind one of Cold War parallels.  An occasional voice of reason can be found, even if they come from an individual who has no reason to fear repercussions himself.  Australian tennis commentator and former player Todd Woodbridge told Nine’s Sports Sunday that this line of reasoning placed one on “slippery and dangerous ground.”  Everyone knew “they have families back in whatever part of Russia they are from, and you do not want to be on the wrong side of that, because your family will pay the price.”

Woodbridge is a reliably unworldly sort, but these are sensible, humane words lost in the feverish hysteria that will cake and cloak discussion in this field for months.  From culture to sporting fixtures, the smug, Putin hating establishment, under direction from their various advisors, are being told that denigrating and cancelling the representatives of Barbarian Rus is the way to go.  Individuals will be crucified.

The post Ukraine, Russia and the Sporting McCarthyites first appeared on Dissident Voice.

War Crimes, Mental Molestation and Language Rape

The incredible market for human slaughter called war existed thousands of years ago but it was a corner grocery store compared to the multi-trillion dollar moral sewer that represents modern mass murder. Part of what enables imperial and even lesser powers to slaughter at will is a rule book drawn up long ago when there might have been a possibility to just have military personnel chopping one another to bits while leaving the general populace out of the bloodletting. That certainly ended before the 20th century but what has transpired since then and up to the present is, to cite a couple of over-used therefore recognizable labels, a genocidal holocaust that has burned, bombed, shot, stabbed, smothered and shattered bodies, reducing humans to unrecognizable bloody pulp by the hundreds of millions.

The hideous reality of war and its public relations and adverting departments that allegedly inform us about it has people accepting its horror as some sort of natural occurrence like sunset, tides, weather, rather than seeing it as caused by ruling powers battling over their wealth struggles which reduce humanity to commit mass murder under the pretense of it being the natural order of things. Further, rules have been drawn by upper class educated folks with doctoral degrees legalizing mass murder who teach us just what is the proper way to bash in skulls, burn people to death and rape and murder in a supposedly civilized way.

The alleged morality of humans accepting one form of insanely hysterical murder as long as it adheres to a guidebook on the proper form of slaughter should make us all grateful there is no judgmental, vindictive old testament deity or we’d all have been destroyed after the second world war let alone after our profitable feasts of death since then when we’ve murdered even more.

This closely guarded secret that humanity suffers in wars but only when rationalizations of bloody filth called “war crimes” are committed is currently being used and abused in a form of language, thought and moral degeneracy that may finally end when human consciousness, especially American, rejects the degenerate advertising and public relations blitz posing as reporting to blame Russians for what is called by language perverts their “war crime” against the Ukrainian government. Said government is a product of a U.S. financed insurrection that dumped an elected president who favored Russia for a western political pimp favoring market forces, which include some modern Nazis.

While he has become a celebrity among morals free political employees of ruling power by informing everyone to send him weapons so that there can be more bloodshed of the loving, violence free western kind, the western world has increased military spending to record breaking figures. Our rulers, media employee shepherds, see to it that our population is reduced to sheep as much of the world is angrier than ever at the machinations of the warfare business though you’d never know it if all you had was the western media called a free press. They create mentally brutalized souls into paying hundreds of dollars for taco-pizza-burgers and calling it free food.

While Ukrainians have been dying by the thousands for the past eight years, subject to a US/NATO financed and controlled assault, Americans and the west have known absolutely nothing of what was going on and not until Russian retaliation have we heard repeated use of words like brutal, savage, slaughter and worse, to condemn what under normal American circumstances would be called a form of legal police action to purify the world and see to it that peace, love and tranquility would prevail as we slaughtered. Maybe after everyone was dead?

A nation that leads all others in conducting wars against weaker countries and murdering hundreds of thousands, at the least, and millions, at the worst, is not only bellowing murderous nonsense but manipulating good, well meaning people into swallowing editorial garbage that has some decent folks almost ready to pawn their pets to send money to suffering Ukrainians. Even worse, some perverted by venomous outpourings of what would be called vicious hate speech if conducted by anyone else, are ready to accept the potential of nuclear war in order to stop the horrible slaughter which mostly exists between the ears and comes out of the mouths of our thought police working overtime for our ruling powers.

A recent story headlined a murderous, bloody, brutal assault by Russians, which had killed two people at the time the story was filed. Sadly but horrendously over-stated in a nation which kills 4-5 Americans every hour in our private transport system of undeclared road wars to get us to work, shop, school, and conduct other freedom loving democratic economic action. This while the sanctions against Russia are causing serious economic pain the world over, including to Americans, while military spending and the mass murder business that is the backbone of our incredibly gross national product is growing faster and more dangerously and fossil fuel interests profit more than ever as environmental destruction proceeds at a more menacing pace.

This assault on reason, combined with the rape of language and the reduction of public consciousness to the level of a nation of insects, is really only an update of what has been going on for more than 100 years concerning Russia. The assault on that nation began in 1917 when the Russian revolution threatened capitalism, its global center then as now in the United States. America immediately invaded along with a group of its future lapdogs which eventually became NATO after the Second World War. The idea of a return to humanity’s roots by building a society based on communal cooperation rather than competitive actions which created wonderful benefits for some but only by reducing others to dreadful lives was too much for fanatics of the fundamentalist church of capital.

Our primitive communistic survival in the days before we destroyed hunter-gatherer people meant that when the hunt was successful, everyone ate meat and when it wasn’t, everyone ate what was gathered. This was thousands of years before vegan diets and anti-meat worship among good people who comfortably house 136 million pets in a nation where more than 500,000 humans are without shelter. The pet business was good for more than 104 billion in 2020, a mass of economic clout but still chump change compared to the 778 billion for war, which involves 750 American bases in 80 foreign countries for something calling itself “defense”. This protected folks like George Floyd from the brutal, savage, bloodthirsty fiend Putin, but was totally helpless to defend him from a few Americans with badges.

A communist ideal which held that a thousand people and a thousand loaves of bread should mean a loaf of bread for everyone sickened rich capitalists who insisted that some should get ten loaves each and the rest be damned, which is the gross foundation dressed in economic jargon that would make a house of prostitution a citadel of love. Capital said that just as sex workers made a decent living by using their private parts to make private profits for their pimps, workers of all kinds could live comfortably if they just did their jobs and didn’t ask any questions. Their media saw to it that unquestioners became everyday people.

The social seeds planted by people like Marx and Engels in the 19th century came to fruition early in the 20th in Russia, and the vicious assault on that nation began, then as now, from its headquarters in America. After 70 years of continuous physical and mental assault finally helped cause a breakdown of the Soviet Union and a return to capitalism, that was still not enough and the U.S. and its imperial lackeys kept up the war and its present experience which threatens the worst outcome for humanity. This will hopefully not only bring China and Russia closer but the people of the USA and global humanity together to transcend the danger by helping to end the degeneracy of warfare and create peace via the end of an imperial crusade to further enrich billionaires and their upper class servants while increasing mass poverty and the environmental threat to us all.

With daily by the minute assaults on consciousness reducing other wise good people to hateful idiocy demanding death for the savage Putin and evil Russians, there is glee among the perverted political economic leadership of the war business. They number a tiny group with power supposedly democratic while they brainwash people into believing autocracy – a term most hardly understand – is in charge everywhere but where it exists; in what we have been taught to believe is the free world. Benign (?) America billionaires become malevolently evil (ominous background music) Russian oligarchs, according to our mind shapers who neglect to point out they keep their wealth in the same banks – mostly American or at least using American dollars – to perform as charming space travelers or deranged killers, depending on national origin.

This perverse market freedom continues to mean imperial abuse by one nation, ours, while taxpayers absorb a debt of 30 trillion dollars paying for the empire which is bringing us all closer to a point at which we will have little time left as a human race. We need to begin acting like one very soon. That means far more than waving a Ukrainian flag and sending paychecks to the pimps of war, but no longer accepting their crimes against nature and beginning to act like what we are: a human race badly in need of global democracy to stop all wars, not just those we are told are the wrong way to butcher humans, and begin life. That calls for the end of the post World War II domination of the American empire and this present horror is hopefully a sign that it will be so. We need to turn off the anti-social media that insure further private profit and ultimate public loss and turn on humanity’s original instinct for cooperation. And hurry.

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A Peculiar European “Peace”

Building Europe to have peace. Such is the just and fine ambition that one must pursue relentlessly. Nevertheless, it is necessary to define ‘Europe’ and to specify the conditions for the peace that is desirable on our continent.

For Europe is a continent. Only de Gaulle had envisaged Europe as a geopolitical ensemble composed of all the states participating in balance. François Mitterrand took up the idea in the form of a European confederation, but he too quickly abandoned it.

Since 1945, what is presented as ‘Europe’, in the West of the continent, is only a subset of countries incapable by themselves of ensuring peace. One regularly hides its powerlessness behind proud slogans. Such is the case with that which affirms ‘Europe means Peace’. As a historical reality and as promise it is false.

During the Cold War, it is not the organs of the Common Market, of the European Economic Community then of the European Union which have assured peace in Europe. It is well known that the equilibrium between the great powers has been maintained by nuclear dissuasion and, more precisely, by the potential for massive destruction possessed by the US, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and France.

NATO forces under American command offered Western Europe a fragile umbrella, since the US would not have put their very existence in jeopardy to prevent a very improbable land-based offensive by the Soviet Army. Ready for all possibilities but not prepared to pay the price of a classic confrontation, France, having left the integrated command of NATO in 1966, considered the territory of West Germany as a buffer zone for its Pluton nuclear-armed missiles.

The collapse of the Soviet Union has pushed into the background the debates on nuclear dissuasion, but it is still not possible to glorify a ‘Europe’ pacific and peace-making. For thirty years we have seen the «peace of cemeteries» established on our periphery, and under the responsibility of certain members states of the European Union.

The principal states of the EU carry an overwhelming responsibility in the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia. Germany, supported by the Vatican, unilaterally recognises Slovenia and Croatia on 23 December 1991, which pushes the then “Twelve” to follow this lethal route. France could have opposed this decision. It gives up this option because, on 15 December in Council, François Mitterrand reaffirms his conviction: it is more important to preserve the promises of Maastricht than to attempt to impose the French position on Yugoslavia. In other words, Yugoslavia has been deliberately sacrificed on the altar of “Franco-German friendship“, when one could already see that Berlin lied, manoeuvred and imposed its will. The German ambition was to support Croatia, including by the delivery of arms, in a war that would be pursued with a comparable cruelty by all the camps.

The recognition of Slovenia and Croatia embroiled Bosnia-Herzegovina and provoked the extension of the conflict, then its internationalisation. Tears would be shed for Sarajevo while forgetting Mostar. Some Parisian intellectuals would demand, in the name of ‘Europe’, an attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, then comprising Serbia, Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro. Their wish was granted in 1999 when NATO, under American commandment, bombed Yugoslav territory for 78 days, killing thousands of civilians. France, Germany, Italy, Belgium … participated in this military operation, in contempt of the UN Charter and of NATO statutes, an alliance theoretically defensive …

Let no one pretend that the principal member states of the EU were waging humanitarian wars and wanted to assure economic development and democracy. ‘Europe’ has protested against ethnic cleansing by Serbs but has left the Croats to force out 200,000 Serbs from Krajina. ‘Europe’ waxes indignant about massacres in Kosovo but it has supported extremist ethnic Albanians of the Kosovo Liberation Army who have committed multiple atrocities before and after their arrival to power in Pristina.

These Balkan wars occurred in the previous Century, but it is not ancient history. The countries devastated by war suffer henceforth the indifference of the powerful. In Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, one lives poorly, very poorly, if one is not involved in illegal business networks. Then one seeks work elsewhere, preferably in Germany, if one is not too old.

After having mistreated, pillaged then abandoned its peripheries, ‘peaceful’ Europe then goes to serve as an auxiliary force in American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is true that Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron were in the forefront in the bombardment of Libya, but the outcome is as disastrous as in the Middle East and Central Asia – graveyards, chaos, the hate of the West and, at Kabul, the return of the Taliban.

This brief review of the deadly inconsistencies of European pacificism cannot ignore Ukraine. The European Commission itself has encouraged the Ukrainian government in its quest for integration in the EU, before proposing a simple accord of association. The Ukrainian government, having declined to sign this accord, the pro-European groups allied to the ultranationalists have descended into the street in November 2013 with the support of Germany, Poland and the US. The Maidan movement, the eviction of President Yanukovych and the war of the Donbass have led, after the Minsk accords and a stalemate in the conflict to the situation that we have before our eyes in early January – the US and Russia discuss directly the Ukrainian crisis without the ‘Europe of peace’ being admitted to the negotiating table. The EU has totally subjugated itself to NATO and does not envisage leaving it.

It is therefore possible to note, once again, the vacuity of the discourse on the ‘European power’ and on ‘European sovereignty’. Thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we should acknowledge all the opportunities lost. After the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, France could have demanded the withdrawal of American forces installed in Europe and proposed a collective security treaty for the entirety of the continent, while pursuing its project for a European Confederation. From Right to Left, our governments have preferred to cultivate the myth of the “Franco-German friendship”, leave the US to pursue its agenda after the upheaval of 2003, and then return to the integrated command of NATO.

They offer us not peace but submission to war-making forces that they have given up trying to control.

*****

• Translated by Evan Jones (a francophile and retired political economist at University of Sydney) and is published here with permission from author.

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