Walter Jones and the Vote to End US War on Yemen

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In a fitting legacy for my friend Walter Jones, Jr. who passed away last week, the US House made history by voting in favor of H.J.Res. 37, a resolution “Directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” As George O’Neill wrote in the American Conservative magazine this week, the historic 248-177 victory for a bill demanding the end of the US participation in the nearly five year Saudi war of aggression “reflects how many hearts and minds were influenced by the late Congressman's tireless efforts.”

Walter Jones did not care who controlled Congress. He was happy to join forces with any Member to end the senseless US global military empire, which sends thousands of young men and women off to patrol foreign borders, overthrow foreign governments, and needlessly put themselves at risk in missions that have nothing to do with the safety and security of the United States.

US participation in the Saudi war on Yemen is a classic example of the abuse of the US military that made Walter Jones most angry. When the Saudis decided in 2015 that they wanted their puppet to be Yemen’s president, they launched a brutal and inhuman war that many call the worst humanitarian disaster of our time. Millions face starvation as Saudi bombs and US sanctions combine to create a hell on earth that is unrelated in any way to US national security.

Why this ongoing support for Saudi death and destruction in Yemen? Washington’s neocons have successfully promoted the lie that the Saudi attack on Yemen is all about preventing Iran from gaining more strength in the Middle East. Ironically it was the neocon-backed US attack on Iraq in 2003 that provided the biggest boost for Iranian influence in the region. Now, after Iraq’s “liberation,” Baghdad’s ties to Tehran are closer than ever.

Meanwhile, who exactly are we supporting in Yemen? Even CNN, normally a big backer of US military actions overseas, has noticed something funny about US participation in the Saudi war on Yemen. As a CNN investigation found this month, “Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have transferred American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen, in violation of their agreements with the United States.” Does that sound like we are on the side of the “good guys” in this battle? We are helping the Saudis arm al-Qaeda? Is this really a smart move?

So we should be encouraged that Walter Jones’ legacy is being honored in the House vote to end the US participation in the Yemen war. While US “humanitarian” aid is being used as a weapon for regime change in Venezuela, the warmongers in Washington have never lifted a finger to help those suffering from a real genocide in Yemen.

If the Yemen War Powers resolution passes the Senate, which is likely, Congress will have provoked the first veto from President Trump. Such a veto should not discourage us. Even the strongest army cannot stop an idea whose time has come. Ending senseless US wars is an idea whose time has come. We can thank Walter Jones for his role in making it so.

IQ, Equal Pay for Equal Work, Population Control, Mao, and Communism

“Prepare for Struggle, Prepare for Famine, Work for the People.”

Jordan Peterson posits IQ tests as indicators of intelligence and predictors of long-term success.1 This is not scientific. Intelligence is definitionally problematic as is designing tests to measure whatever is deemed to denote intelligence. Nowadays, intelligence is considered a multi-faceted concept that cannot be measured comprehensively and accurately by a paper-and-pencil test. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to isolate a multitude of other factors and attribute any result exclusively to intelligence; e.g., parental upbringing, socio-economic levels, health, spiritual beliefs, personal inclinations, etc. Into this mix Peterson adds conscientiousness, with the same problems of how to define and how to measure. So such studies would be subjective, and at best any experimental designs would provide correlational statistics. Even resorting to multivariate analyses would not be without problems.

Multivariate analyses are an aid to, not a substitute for critical thinking in the area of data analysis. Meaningful results can only be produced by these methods if careful consideration is given to questions of sample size, variable type, variable distribution etc., and accusations of subjectivity in interpretation can only be overcome by replication…. Perhaps a major cause of the continuing misuse of statistical methods is the insistence of many journal editors in psychology and related areas, on articles being laced with multivariate analyses, and on encouraging the pedantic use of signifance levels, i.e. the inevitable p less than minus, as if such inclusions lent an air of respectability to their journal which it might not otherwise have had…2

In addition, the argument on IQ tests and the role of conscientiousness in “success” and “happiness” is a mined territory because covertly it recalls the dark side of eugenics. If IQs and conscientiousness are the litmus tests for the rank and suitability of individuals in a given society, then how far are we from doctrines adopted by fascist states vis-à-vis their people? The argument becomes seriously explosive in the context of poverty, depending on how one construes the correlation between IQ and success. For instance, according to many sources, Americans living under the poverty line are over 40 million. A question: would Peterson be poised to say that their poverty is a direct function of their IQ and conscientiousness? Any one who dares to pose the question on IQ or conscientiousness must (1) examine their own shortcoming on both matters, and (2) examine the social, economic, and cultural factors conducive, functionally, to lower IQ and social adaptations. Caveat: examining is not a judgement but a process leading to assumptions that must be further tested for factual or theoretical validity.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Although physicists can unravel the mathematical laws of the universe and rocket engineers can calculate how to launch several probes on missions throughout the solar system, according to Peterson, humans are incapable of determining what is equal. “The introduction of the ‘equal pay for equal work’ argument immediately complicates even salary comparison beyond practicality for one simple reason: who decides what work is equal? It’s not possible. That’s why the marketplace exists.” (loc 5403) And just how fair or effective as a distributive mechanism is the marketplace?

First, since the dawn of time, world societies and their economic systems have varied from Babylonia, Pharaonic civilization, ancient China, Rome, Islamic civilization, aggressive Mongolian expansionism, etc through to modern systems such as capitalism, socialism, communism, Italian fascism, social democracies, etc. Equal pay for all or advocating for equality of pay to all never existed. Roman soldiers took less that centurions, and engineers and artists took more than qualified labor and artisans. Early Islamic social laws, as distinct from religious laws, had legislated that qualified artisans and poets receive special pecuniary treatment, so also that the fighters that took less than their commanders did. Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels, and even Vladimir Lenin never advocated for equal pay because they acknowledged the important role of creativity and expertise in the making of a valid economic model.

Why does Peterson accept decision of payment being left to the marketplace regardless of equality for the work done? Is the marketplace an entity that popped into existence by itself? Or did it have human hands behind its creation? Of course humans brought about the formation of the marketplace. And which humans would be expected to benefit the most from such an entity? Or did he expect his readers to absorb his statement naively and leave it unchallenged? To make the point, is there a design behind Peterson’s many groundless assertions? In the end, it seems to me that Peterson’s phrase — “That’s why the marketplace exists” — is a poor ideological construct in terms of cause and consequence. Most likely, he came up with it to close a complex argument by pointing to the predictive power of personality characteristics, however, it does not develop as a compact sequential argument. And why should having a extroverted versus introverted personality, or an assertive versus relaxed demeanor demand differential pay for equal work? Peterson provides such as explanations for unequal pay for the same work; to be fair, he does not say such should be the case. But by leaving it up to the market to determine, Peterson by default chooses the status quo wealth and income allocation.

Second, Peterson is positing that the markets can better provide for fairness in remuneration. However, the grotesque inequality that exists in the world clearly adduces that Peterson is dead wrong.3 Does Peterson agree with a market that pays a CEO in a day what a company worker makes in a year? Remarkably, a system within which such unfairness and such inequality do exist is well known: it is called capitalism. Recently, a study has revealed that 26 persons own as much as 3.8 billion of the poorest people. How has this happened? What’s Peterson theory on the matter?

Yet Peterson writes, “Don’t blame capitalism, the radical left, or the iniquity of your enemies. Don’t reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience. Have some humility. If you cannot bring peace to your household, how dare you try to rule a city?” (loc 2926)

And what if a person’s experience is unordered because of the mayhem of the state? What if the state is wreaking havoc with households? Did not the American Revolution occur because Great Britain was wreaking havoc with colonial households through unfair taxation? Does poverty not wreak havoc on households? By taking over a city, people may be able to implement a system and policies that bring about equality and peace. By equality, I mean equal opportunity to all people, with remuneration based on effort and sacrifice — although Peterson will throw up his arms and say something like we don’t know how to measure effort and sacrifice. But we will never know how to measure effort and sacrifice to Peterson’s pleasure until we start trying; because to leave things the way they are, to the caprice of the market, is just intellectual cowardice. We can be sure, however, that the marketplace itself does not know how to remunerate workers equitably for work done.

Peterson’s Rule 6 is: “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”

However, there are myriad personality, societal, and worldly factors (greed, sexism, racism, nationalism, war, etc) that work against setting up “perfect” order in one’s house. And what exactly is meant by “perfect” order, and is it even achievable? Perfection is an elusive, and probably unattainable, goal. Therefore, if perfection is unachievable, what Peterson in essence is telling us is tough luck, keep plugging away at trying to reach perfection, and in the meanwhile accept the world the way it is — however imperfect that may be.

If not the marketplace, then who decides what is equal pay for equal work? Of course we decide. We pool our brain power to determine criteria as to what is fair remuneration; afterwards we refine and tweak as is necessary. This is infinitely more sensible than sitting our collective butts and allowing the marketplace of fetid capitalism to lather the masses with inequity and penury.

Peterson opines:

We are not equal in ability or outcome, and never will be. A very small number of people produce much of everything. The winners don’t take all but they take the most, and the bottom is not a good place to be. People get sick there, and remain unknown and unloved. They waste their lives there. (loc 1784)

“We” (a pronoun used often by Peterson) are all different, certainly in many, many ways. We have different predilections, different desires, and different levels of skills. I avoid stating “different abilities” because abilities can be developed to higher levels through proper training and sheer hard work. Not every person is interested or inclined to sharpen their skills in certain endeavors to exhibit a high level of ability.

Granted we are not equal; everyone is superseded by someone else in some facet. Besides, being ranked number one is often subjective and usually ephemeral.

And I disagree emphatically with Peterson; it is the workers that produce most of what the public consumes. Managers and executives supervise and issue orders but produce little by way of physical work — and perhaps much of the intellectual effort comes from workers. In fact, many of the bourgeoisie may be considered leeches on the working class.

Peterson acknowledges the greed of the “winners.” However, I would not construe a group of humans who selfishly grab an inordinate lion’s share for themselves as “winners” while relegating the rest to a sick, unloved ignominy — quite the contrary.

Why does Peterson prioritize production as deciding distribution of wealth by the marketplace? Is production the end-all and be-all of humans? Does it supersede human attributes such as love, empathy, caring, and sharing?

Peterson is advocating dog-eat-dog capitalism. Fuck the market! It all boils down to what kind of world we want. How do we want our societies to look like? Our societies are a mirror unto who we are, unto our our sense of morality. Do we want and accept a society, as Peterson describes, composed of winners and losers? Do we accept joblessness despite the unemployed being desperate for work? Do we accept homelessness, the hungry, shanty towns, hygienic conditions, etc for any among us? Do any of us feel comfortable walking past someone obviously down-and-out?

Do we desire a society free from the ills that define a sick society?

Or do we roll the dice for each person and let the dice (i.e., the market) decide our happenstance?

Because in a sane and morally centered universe, the most meaningful abilities are the ones whereby we can provide warmth, succor, dignity, compassion, and love to our fellow humans.

Dominance is abhorrent. Enlightened thinkers are well aware of that. Hierarchies, excessive self-indulgence, and profligacy are not to be admired. If a permanent hierarchy, then love and altruism must situate at the pinnacle of the human hierarchy. Even primates have evolved altruistic behaviors.

What does it mean have abilities and only use them for self-serving reasons? What purpose, besides self-love and egoism, does it serve to sit on top of some hierarchy (other than a hierarchy dominated by altruism, love, and goodwill)? When Albert Einstein reached the pinnacle of fame as a physicist, did he preen and become self-important? No, Einstein remains a beloved scientist because he loved his fellow humans. Naturally, Einstein was a socialist.

Importantly, the world would be a better place without inequality. A recent book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-being,4 is a British empirical study that hearkens back to Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation that told of an age where equality and cooperation were the norm in society. A review of The Inner Level relates “how more equal societies reduce stress and improve wellbeing” for all of us.

The Monster Mao? China’s “one-child policy” and Cultural Revolution

Mao Zedong in Dandong, China 🄯 Photo by Kim Petersen

Peterson also takes potshots at Chinese communism, especially targeting Mao Zedong for vitriol. He employs wording designed to evoke the ire of the reader: “horrors,” “inferno,” “genocides,” “monster,” “totalitarians.”

“… the bottomless horrors of Hitler, Stain, and Mao.” (loc 2100)

“… the inferno of Stalinist Russia and Mao’s China…” (loc 3911) The wording of this sentence, however, points at the countries that Stalin and Mao live in rather than directly at the personnage.

“… the genocides of Stalin and the even greater monster Mao.” (loc 3947)

Peterson joins chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution with China’s one-child policy: “… the horrors of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and its one-child policy.” (loc 5059)

Peterson is speaking loosely (although Peterson is emphatic about the importance of his words5 ) and inaccurately. First, the one-child policy was implemented in China in 1979. Mao Zedong died on 9 September 1976. During his life Mao was a mixed bag on child birth; initially he encouraged large families, but later he saw family planning as more important. It was in 1979 that the one-child policy was enacted under chairman Deng Xiaoping. Second, the one-child policy is not to be understood as an absolute. It applied particularly to the majority Han and especially in urban centers. Minorities and rural Chinese were not stringently regulated under this policy. Third, China had a rapidly growing population at the time the policy was enacted. China’s population has since reached 1.4 billion people. Some estimates say the policy resulted in 400 million fewer Chinese today. What would the population of China look like today without the one-child policy? And what demands would such a huge population pose for the environment, species extinction, quality of life, employment, and several other factors? Consider to what extent the one-child policy has had on curbing population growth and the fact that China today is the world’s largest economy slated to eliminate poverty in 2020.

As for the “monster Mao” a book review of Was Mao Really a Monster? wrote:

The continued attacks by anti-Communist academics and authors on the reputation and standing of Mao Zedong continue unabated. Indeed, they will last as long as there is a bourgeois class trying to prevent socialist revolution, or having failed to prevent it, trying to undermine it in order to restore capitalism.

Peterson points specifically to “Mao’s murderous Cultural Revolution.” (loc 5434)

Dongping Han, a history and political science teacher at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, wrote a book that presents a different take on China’s Cultural Revolution than that of the western narrative which portrays great tumult across China, targeting intellectuals for re-education, and rampaging hordes committing violence. There were horrible excesses that occurred. Chinese know well of this, and several Chinese films chronicle the mayhem of the Cultural Revolution. But there were also important improvements in Chinese society. Focusing on Jimu, a rural area in Shandong province, Han details improved living conditions, democracy, health and education, infrastructure, and agricultural practices during this time.6

Furthermore, the Cultural Revolution as some westerners allege did not impact negatively China’s economic growth.7

Nonetheless, the Cultural Revolution, as well as the Great Leap Forward, must be seen, in many respects, as colossal blunders — blunders that cost the lives of far too many people and caused much suffering. Mao as the leader is accountable for the mistakes under his leadership. He was misguided; he became a megalomaniac. But Mao’s goals for the Chinese masses were noble, and he still has a great following among Chinese people.

Population Control

Peterson seems to think the more people on the planet, the merrier.

No one in the modern world may without objection express the opinion that existence would be bettered by the absence of Jews, blacks, Muslims, or Englishmen. Why, then, is it virtuous to propose that the planet might be better off, if there were fewer people on it? (loc 5091)

It is a false analogy. Peterson conflates religious identity, skin color, and nationality. Which sane person proposes this?

First, what Peterson’s hypothetical posits is alarming and genocidal, so morally based people do not express such an opinion. What betterment can be had by genocide?

Second, who claims it is “virtuous to propose” having a planet with fewer people? Whether such a proposal is virtuous or not is irrelevant. Relevant is whether managing the number of humans living in a finite ecosystem, such as Earth, would avert future dangers wrought by rampant population growth or even to bring about a betterment of the present human condition and the condition for the other species on the planet.

Third, as Peterson has worded it, what is proposed by others is depopulation, whereas a morally centered proposal would be for a lowering of the number of humans through birth control and not culling specific groups of people. If that is to be achieved through non-coercive means, then objection should be minimal. If through forced compliance, then there must be a logical and moral rationale for such a decision being reached, and it must have been reached through informed and genuine democratic means applied fairly across peoples and not result from a unilateral decision imposed on the entirety of peoples.

Fourth, there are logical and morally based reasons for limiting population growth that can be discussed elsewhere, among them are exacerbating global warming that imperils life on the planet, the scarcity of resources for sharing, extinction of animal life by human incursions into their territories, habitat despoliation by pollution, etc.

China and Communism

Communist China is currently world’s largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity. Many critics deny that China is communist. So what is communism in China? Godfree Roberts lists some important features of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

1. The Party’s Genesis. It was founded by Mao and others because Chinese governance needed a new look after the old one had apparently failed. In fact, it wasn’t that Confucian government had failed: it was because Chinese officials and the Emperor forgot Confucius’ instructions. So Mao called his revolution ‘communist’ even though Confucius’ teaching was much more radical than any written by Marx: The Common Good: Chinese and American Perspectives.

2. Membership qualifications. They must swear to serve the people first and enjoy the fruits of their service last.

3. Membership behavior. Most of the 90,000,000 Party members do, in fact, serve the people first and enjoy the fruits of their service last. That’s a lot of unselfish people and, when they act together, they can influence the whole country.

4. Party power. They use their power democratically and have dismissed several heads of State since 1950. They do not tolerate underperforming leaders as we do.

5. Leadership behavior. You can see that the Party’s leaders and theoreticians are substituting Confucian terminology for Marxist language. China is retiring to the Confucian roots it never left–only this time the Party is interpreting Confucius’ doctrine of compassion radically.

Roberts concludes by quipping, “Marx would be delighted.”

I will quibble with the conclusion of Roberts on point 5. Confucianism still has influence. However, CPC general secretary Xi Jinping stated, “In contemporary China upholding the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics means upholding Marxism in its truest sense.”8 Under Xi’s chairmanship a widespread crackdown on corruption has been ongoing.

In stark contradistinction with neoliberalism, Xi emphasizes public ownership dominance.9 The success of socialism with Chinese characteristics will be determined by measuring the benefits accrued to the Chinese people10 — such as rights to education, employment, health care and care for senior citizens.11 Moreover, the benefits are envisioned as for all the world’s people.12

Xi states China is anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, and anti-war. The rising dragon has a socialist market economy that strives for peace and universal security. This started with Mao Zedong leading his comrades to overthrow the despised Guomindang and establish communist governance in China.

Conclusion

Most of Peterson’s 12 rules are quite sensible. The rules, per se, are trite, cute, and sprinkled with home-cooked wisdom. My focus was Peterson’s digressions, many of which point to a self-assured intellect whose assertions and arguments often fall short. Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life became more than just rules. A self-help book became an anti-communist polemic. Capitalism, atrocities wrought and abetted by capitalism, as well as capitalist gulags eluded criticism. Peterson digressed into political economy, history, wealth distribution, dominance hierarchies, gender differences, religion, free speech and censorship, and more. Peterson’s 12 Rules left this reader feeling unsatisfied and underwhelmed. The author needs to explain the deep themes that guide his elaboration and scope of work. Was his intention to grace readers with 12 idyllic rules of life, or was his undisclosed intent to warn us about the “evils of communism” over and above contemplating his rules?

Throughout 12 Rules, Peterson writes about the hardship of living: “Life is suffering. That’s clear. There is no more basic, irrefutable truth.”13 A misleading statement because life must not be viewed through such a parochial prism. Life is ecstasy, rapture, sorrow, pain, anger, jealousy, hate, love, and much more. This all points to Peterson, on certain matters, being a polemicist. He chooses one end of the pole and pronounces; the other pole, or points along the continuum are often, if not outright denied, just marginalized or ignored.

It is often said that money cannot buy happiness, but unmentioned by Peterson is that money can avoid many of the hardships and suffering that life throws at you. Yet, Peterson is too intelligent not to be aware of this. He skips this because his thinking is not about finding solutions but rather to describe the world as he sees it. Nonetheless, the ability to pay rent, put nutritious food on the table, put clothes on one’s back, and afford necessary transportation go a long way to easing hardships in life.

There are examples of communist governments that have eased the hardships of life and brought great improvements to their people. Cuban communism must be singled out for the great strides it has made during and since the Cuban Revolution — despite US sanctions.14 It is only fair to point out the achievements made by the communist government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — despite US sanctions. Another, of course, is the communist government in China.

As Xi often states, China is only in the earliest stages of socialism,15 and communism is to be attained farther down the road.16 The CPC’s goal of ending poverty in China by 2020 is a massive step in the right direction. To the extent that Chinese socialism is successful, especially compared to the status of western capitalist countries, it poses a challenge to the capitalist classes in these countries. Why would the working class accept being relegated to the lower rungs of a society when they see Chinese in the future thriving in a classless China? China may become the template for an economic and social revolution that brings about a fairer distribution of income (something still lacking in China currently) elsewhere. China is an economic colossus whose success should throw light back on Cuba, North Korea, and also the great achievements made by the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

Despite the bombast of Jordan Peterson and Donald Trump, socialism remains a viable force for change in the world.

  1. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.17
  1. Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos, (Penguin Random House UK, 2018: loc 5372.
  2. BS Everett, Abstract to Multivariate analysis: the need for data, and other problems, British Journal of Psychiatry. March 1975, 126: 237-40.
  3. See Part 5.
  4. Allen Lane, London 2018.
  5. Peterson’s Rule 10 is: “Be precise in your speech.” Ergo, the words in 12 Rules must be seen as an accurate reflection of Peterson’s thinking: “I’m very, very, very careful with my words”
  6. See Dongping Han, The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village (Routledge, 2001).
  7. See Gwydion Madawc Williams, “Was the Cultural Revolution a success?” Quora, 11 February 2018.
  8. Xi Jinping, On the Governance of China, (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014): loc 230.
  9. Xi, loc 1275.
  10. Xi, loc 554.
  11. Xi, loc 707.
  12. Xi, loc 947, 4010.
  13. Jordan Peterson, loc 2947. See also locations 191, 335, 1787, 2768, 2909, 2959, 3780, 4048, 4765, and 5737.
  14. See Isaac Saney, Cuba: A Revolution in Motion, (Fernwood Publishing, 2004) and Arnold August, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion, (Zed Books, 2013). Review.
  15. Xi, loc 352, 1566.
  16. It is anarchism that will bring about communal individuality and reduce inequality. See Alan Ritter, Anarchism: A Theoretical Analysis, (Cambridge University Press, 1980): 76-83. pdf.
  17. Apologies for the delay in getting out part 6, but I was in East Africa without laptop.

In Countries Destroyed by the West, People Should Stop Admiring the U.S. and Europe

It may sound incredible, but it is true: in countries that have been damaged, even totally robbed and destroyed by the West, many people are still enamored with Europe and North America.

For years, I have been observing this ‘phenomena’, even in the most plundered, devastated war zones and slums. Often I was shocked, other times thoroughly desperate. I did not know how to respond, how to react, how to describe what I have been observing.

Then, a few days ago, in Syria, right next to the Idlib battlefield, close to the deadly positions of Al-Nusra Front, in a country where the West and its allies have murdered hundreds of thousands of people, one of my interpreters exclaimed in a ‘patriotic’ outburst: “Look how beautiful this land is! It is almost as beautiful as Europe!”

And at night, another guide of mine began nostalgically recalling his glorious days in Europe, when he could still go there; before the Syrian war began.

An interpreter did not know who Fidel Castro was (I had his portrait, lighting up cigar, as my phone screensaver), but both of them — my local companions at the battle ground — were fluent in Western slang and the worldview. They knew, however, near zero about China. They were patriotic and they fully supported their country, but at the same time they admired the West and Western journalists from the mainstream media – those very same propagandists who helped to bring their beautiful and unique Syria to the state in which it is now.

It all felt schizophrenic, but definitely not new.

I could not take it, anymore. I decided to write this story, despite the fact that it is an intellectual ‘minefield’. I decided to write it, because it is how it is. Because I have to tell it; someone has to. And above all, because it is absolutely essential to combat the crooked selfie image with which the West has been infecting almost all nations of the world, including all those that it has been plundering and raping.

*****

Are we dealing with the so-called “Stockholm Syndrome” here? Most likely, yes. The victim falls in love with her or his tormentor.

For long centuries, the West has been colonizing, usurping, literally terrorizing the entire planet. Hundreds of millions have died as a result of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and imperialism. Wealth, cultural and educational institutions, hospitals, transportation, parks – all that Europe and North America possess to date and boast about, was constructed on mountains of bones, on genocide and unbridled plunder.

That cannot be disputed, can it?

Slavery, mass murder, genocidal expansions; the West robbed the world, and then consolidated its power, promoting its exceptionalism through relentless brainwashing (called ‘education’), propaganda (called ‘information’), and twisted entertainment for the masses that inhabit poor countries (called ‘culture’ and ‘the arts’).

Shockingly and absurdly, Europe and North America are still loved and admired by many, even (or especially) in such places where Western governments and companies plagued everything like locusts, leaving to the locals only burned land, poison and miserable slums.

*****

How is it possible?

For years, I have been working in Africa, a continent which was entirely subjugated by the U.K., France, Germany, Belgium and other European expansionist nations. Africa from where millions of men, women and children were brought in chains to the “New World”, as slaves. Where millions died during the ‘hunt’, where millions died in ‘transit centers’, and then, on the open seas. That’s tens of millions of ruined lives. The complete plunder of the resources, the unimaginable humiliation of the people, broken cultures, genocides and holocaust against local individuals from what is now Namibia, to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Great African heroes like Lumumba assassinated by the Western rulers.

And yet, many Africans see the West as some great ‘example’, as a ‘guiding light’, as a severe but respectable ‘daddy’, who uses the belt when it is necessary, but who also rewards justly those of his ‘children’ who ‘behave properly’.

It is repulsive, but undeniable.

The greatest African writers are now teaching at U.S. and U.K. universities. They have been ‘neutralized’ and ‘pacified’, many of them outrightly bought. In many countries, African judges wear comical white wigs, doing their best to look like their British counterparts. The children of corrupt elites are collecting diplomas from the U.K. and French universities, imitating upper-class European accents.

To behave, to look and sound like the colonizers, is something that brings respect.

The same on the Sub-Continent, of course.

The mannerism among the upper classes in India and Pakistan are those of the U.K. (and lately, of the U.S.). Elites there go out of their way to be more British than the Brits; more Californian than the inhabitants of the U.S. West Coast. Countless private Indian universities call themselves ‘American’ or ‘British’, with ‘Oxford’ or ‘Cambridge’ frequently ‘decorating’ their names.

‘To be accepted’ in Europe or North America is the highest honor, in almost all former colonies, therefore, in almost the entire world.

‘Well groomed’, well-educated and modern Asians, Latin Americans, Africans and the Middle Easterners are expected to ape Westerners; to dress like Westerners, eat (and drink) like the Westerners and to ‘defend the same values’ as them.

In fact, they are expected to be much more Western than the Westerners.

But ‘expected’ by whom? Yes, you guess correctly: very often by their own people!

*****

Ask and many in the ‘South’ will tell you: everything that comes from the West is beautiful, progressive and dandy.

“Every bule is beautiful,” I was informed, recently, by a young indigenous professional lady in the totally environmentally plundered island of Borneo/Kalimantan. Bule is a vulgar, derogatory Indonesian word for the ‘whites’, and literally means ‘albino’. However, the lady was not joking, it was a compliment: she was brought up believing that every bule is actually superior and fine-looking.

In the indigenous Mexican state of Yucatan, right after the elections that brought to power the left-wing President Obrador, I overheard the conversation of a dozen or so upper-class housewives in a Western chain café. Their references were fully European and North American: From vacations in Italy and Spain, to the films they were watching, books they were reading. Europe was their ‘mother-continent’, while Miami, their only true comparison. Before Obrador came to power, indigenous people were increasingly living in misery, their roofs broken, jobs disappearing. But the elites were, as always, in a European state of mind. The real Mexico was not on their radar. It did not matter, or didn’t even exist.

Even some of the poor in the ‘conquered world’ who are actually ‘concerned’ about Western imperialism, see it as an abstract problem.They see it as a strictly political, military or economic issue. The fact that Western imperialism has ‘culturally’ immobilized entire nations and continents is hardly addressed.

Even in those proud countries that are determinedly struggling against Western imperialism – China, Russia, Iran, or Venezuela – the Western narrative of exceptionalism has already managed to cause tremendous damage.

In China, for instance, almost everything ‘Western’ had been, until recently, associated with modernity. Being ‘against the West’ was considered boring, gray and outdated, somehow connected to the ‘Communist propaganda’ of the past (the fact that the ‘Communist propaganda’ was often correct, mattered nothing). This attitude allowed the great infiltration of Chinese universities by Western academia, as well as the injection of Western nihilism into Chinese arts, culture, even way of life. Only recently, has this dangerous trend been reversed, but not after it had already caused great damage.

The admiration of everything Western destroyed the greatest progressive experiment of modern history – The Soviet Union and the so-called “Eastern Bloc”.

The power of negative Western propaganda packaged together with the promotion of extreme individualism, selfishness and consumerism, literally wiped out all internationalist zeal, humanism and higher principles, from the minds of tens of millions of young Czechs, Poles, East Germans, Bulgarians, and even Soviets.

The once proud Communist Eastern Bloc, after liberating dozens of countries from colonialism, after fighting for an egalitarian world, showing solidarity with all oppressed nations, was then gradually defeated by such shallow bullshit as blue jeans labels, the nonsensical lyrics of rock and pop songs (a favorite weapon of the West), greed, religions (another Western weapon), and slogans like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ (the Western world which has been denying freedom and democracy to almost all countries on our planet, cynically turned the truth upside down, and fooled East Europeans, by skillfully applying centuries long propaganda methods).

In the end, confused and increasingly cynical, what many East Europeans demanded was not ‘freedom’, but more money, more labels, and the ability to join the bloc of the countries that have been plundering the world.

*****

So, what makes the West so successful, when it comes to brainwashing people all around the world? How is it possible after all that banditry, terror and ruthlessness, that most of the oppressed and conquered countries are still showing plenty of respect to the masters that reside in New York, London or Paris?

I believe that if we find the answers to this question, we will be able to save the world, and reverse this deadly trend.

First of all, after interacting with thousands of people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Oceania and Latin America, I am coming to the conclusion that the West (and Japan) is often admired for the ‘high standards of living’.

In such miserable and collapsed countries like Indonesia, I often hear nonsense like: “European countries are more ‘Muslim’ than we are. They treat people much better than we do.”

Middle and upper class Southeast Asian families are travelling to Netherlands or Germany, and then exclaim after returning home: “Look at their parks, hospitals, bicycle lanes, trams, museums… We have to learn from them! They do so much for improving our world.”

That’s precisely what Africans admire about Europe. That’s how many ‘educated’ Indians or Southeast Asians feel. That’s what Peruvians, Hondurans or Paraguayans love about their Miami.

Are they wrong? Isn’t there, after all, plenty that poor countries could learn from the West?

Yes; definitely they are wrong. Totally wrong!

Let’s see ‘why’?

The West ‘arranged’ the entire world in accordance with its own feudal system of the past centuries. It brought the system of shameless oppressive regime to the global level.

To admire this monstrous and regressive global system would be like admiring the arrangement of European societies some three hundred years ago. It would be essentially like saying: “Look, the aristocracy of France or England was actually quite fine, egalitarian, educated and healthy, and we should learn from how they lived, and copy their examples!”

Of course, the aristocracy, the royalty and the church of Europe has always lived well, even 300 years ago. They had good schools for their children, they had decent medical care, palaces, summer villas, sanatoriums with mineral waters, theatres, lavish parks, and tons of servants.

The only ‘tiny’ problem was that some 95% of the population had to work for the luxury they enjoyed, subsisting in total misery. Plus, of course, those tens of millions of un-people in the colonies were being exterminated like animals.

The same is happening now. The entire Europe (with the exception of the poor people there) has moved to the bracket of new aristocracy, at least comparatively. And the rest of the world is laboring, dying, being raped and plundered, in order to maintain this ‘wonderful-looking’ social-state project of the West. Even the U.S. and its relatively brutal turbo-capitalist model is still ‘socialist’ (for the U.S. citizens), compared to such countries as Indonesia, India, Peru or Nigeria.

Western standards of living cannot be replicated elsewhere. To believe that the West would allow Africans or Southeast Asians to build a social state is naïve, almost intellectually insulting. Singapore, South Korea and Japan are rare exceptions, where the West closed both eyes, for strictly strategic reasons.

In order for the West to prosper, maintaining a super high standard of living, with all the benefits for its citizens, billions of the ‘serfs’ all over the world have to suffer, sacrifice themselves, and work for close to nothing; the more of them that live in hell, the better.

Nature has to be plundered in places like Borneo and Papua, DR Congo and soon in Brazil.

People have to be ruled by pro-Western corrupt oligarchs, and by the military and religious leaders. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and now Brazil, are perfect countries for the West: they happily and willingly sacrifice their own people, guaranteeing Western prosperity.

You did not know? Nonsense! You did not want to know. All those people who matter are very happy with this arrangement: The Western rulers, citizens of Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, as well as the rulers/elites in the poor countries. The only ones who are truly suffering are those billions of the poor, worldwide, but they matter nothing, and they are not told anything anyway, because the media is in the hands of the West and their lackeys, and so is ‘education’.

And as they are not told anything, they – the wretched of the Earth – are admiring the West, too. They eat Western junk food if they can save few dollars a month, they drink Nescafe instead of their traditional coffee, listen to the shittiest music, watch pirated Hollywood blockbuster movies, wear fake sneakers and jeans, and masturbate to Western porn (if they have internet). They also dutifully follow religions, which were injected and upheld by the West, into their countries.

The poorer the country, the greater appear to be the green hills and pastures of the Western paradise.

And so, it goes on and on.

In India, Indonesia, Uganda, Jordan, Fiji, Honduras, I hear the same crap, from semi-educated, or West-educated local citizens: “People in the West are actually very good people, but their governments are bad.” Are they sure about that? I wonder.

*****

Frankly and honestly, I am tired of this status quo. And I don’t find this amusing at all: hearing admiring statements about European and other Western countries in the middle of the monstrous war zones, famine-stricken areas, brutal mines, on the banks of poisoned rivers and inside the slums.

I am an ‘old-fashioned’ revolutionary. Slaves have to rise and fight, if necessary die for freedom; not to admire their masters and tormentors.

The crimes of the colonialists have to be exposed. The insane arrangement of the world has to be defined and then smashed into pieces.

The cute trams, bicycle lanes, parks, museums, operas, cafes, universities and hospitals in Europe are built on rivers of blood and the bones of ‘The Others’. I said it three years ago on the floor of the Italian Parliament, and I will repeat it again and again, wherever I go.

There is no other topic that matters, right now, on our planet.

Everything is connected to this, including the fear and hate that the West feels and spreads about countries like Venezuela, Russia, China, Iran, South Africa, Syria or Cuba.

They hate us; they hate those who resist, who are standing tall. And they should and will get back the same in return, hopefully, if the truth is pronounced often enough!

In Hebron, Israel removes the Last Restraint on its Settlers’ Reign of Terror

You might imagine that a report by a multinational observer force documenting a 20-year reign of terror by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers against Palestinians, in a city under occupation, would provoke condemnation from European and US politicians.

But you would be wrong. The leaking in December of the report on conditions in the city of Hebron, home to 200,000 Palestinians, barely caused a ripple.

About 40,000 separate cases of abuse had been quietly recorded since 1997 by dozens of monitors from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey. Some incidents constituted war crimes.

Exposure of the confidential report has now provided the pretext for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expel the international observers. He shuttered their mission in Hebron this month, in apparent violation of Israel’s obligations under the 25-year-old Oslo peace accords.

Israel hopes once again to draw a veil over its violent colonisation of the heart of the West Bank’s largest Palestinian city. The process of clearing tens of thousands of inhabitants from central Hebron is already well advanced.

Any chance of rousing the international community into even minimal protest was stamped out by the US last week. It blocked a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council expressing “regret” at Israel’s decision, and on Friday added that ending the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was an “internal matter” for Israel.

The TIPH was established in 1997 after a diplomatic protocol split the city into two zones, controlled separately by Israel and a Palestinian Authority created by the Oslo accords.

The “temporary” in its name was a reference to the expected five-year duration of the Oslo process. The need for TIPH, most assumed, would vanish when Israel ended the occupation and a Palestinian state was built in its place.

While Oslo put the PA formally in charge of densely populated regions of the occupied territories, Israel was effectively given a free hand in Hebron to entrench its belligerent hold on Palestinian life.

Several hundred extremist Jewish settlers have gradually expanded their illegal enclave in the city centre, backed by more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers. Many Palestinian residents have been forced out while the rest are all but imprisoned in their homes.

TIPH faced an impossible task from the outset: to “maintain normal life” for Hebron’s Palestinians in the face of Israel’s structural violence.

Until the report was leaked, its documentation of Israel’s takeover of Hebron and the settlers’ violent attacks had remained private, shared only among the states participating in the task force.

However, the presence of observers did curb the settlers’ worst excesses, helping Palestinian children get to school unharmed and allowing their parents to venture out to work and shop. That assistance is now at an end.

Hebron has been a magnet for extremist settlers because it includes a site revered in Judaism: the reputed burial plot of Abraham, father to the three main monotheistic religions.

But to the settlers’ disgruntlement, Hebron became central to Muslim worship centuries ago, with the Ibrahimi mosque established at the site.

Israel’s policy has been gradually to prise away the Palestinians’ hold on the mosque, as well the urban space around it. Half of the building has been restricted to Jewish prayer, but in practice the entire site is under Israeli military control.

As the TIPH report notes, Palestinian Muslims must now pass through several checkpoints to reach the mosque and are subjected to invasive body searches. The muezzin’s call to prayer is regularly silenced to avoid disturbing Jews.

Faced with these pressures, according to TIPH, the number of Palestinians praying there has dropped by half over the past 15 years.

In Hebron, as at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a Muslim holy site is treated solely as an obstacle – one that must be removed so that Israel can assert exclusive sovereignty over all of the Palestinians’ former homeland.

A forerunner of TIPH was set up in 1994, shortly after Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli army doctor, entered the Ibrahimi mosque and shot more than 150 Muslims at prayer, killing 29. Israeli soldiers aided Goldstein, inadvertently or otherwise, by barring the worshippers’ escape while they were being sprayed with bullets.

The massacre should have provided the opportunity for Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s prime minister of the time, to banish Hebron’s settlers and ensure the Oslo process remained on track. Instead he put the Palestinian population under prolonged curfew.

That curfew never really ended. It became the basis of an apartheid policy that has endlessly indulged Jewish settlers as they harass and abuse their Palestinian neighbours.

Israel’s hope is that most will get the message and leave.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power for a decade, more settlers are moving in, driving out Palestinians. Today Hebron’s old market, once the commercial hub of the southern West Bank, is a ghost town, and Palestinians are too terrified to enter large sections of their own city.

TIPH’s report concluded that, far from guaranteeing “normal life”, Israel had made Hebron more divided and dangerous for Palestinians than ever before.

In 2016 another army medic, Elor Azaria, used his rifle to shoot in the head a prone and badly wounded Palestinian youth. Unlike Goldstein’s massacre, the incident was caught on video.

Israelis barely cared until Azaria was arrested. Then large sections of the public, joined by politicians, rallied to his cause, hailing him a hero.

Despite doing very little publicly, TIPH’s presence in Hebron had served as some kind of restraint on the settlers and soldiers. Now the fear is that there will be more Azarias.

Palestinians rightly suspect that the expulsion of the observer force is the latest move in efforts by Israel and the US to weaken mechanisms for protecting Palestinian human rights.

Mr Netanyahu has incited against local and international human rights organisations constantly, accusing them of being foreign agents and making it ever harder for them to operate effectively.

And last year US President Donald Trump cut all aid to UNRWA, the United Nations’ refugee agency, which plays a vital role in caring for Palestinians and upholding their right to return to their former lands.

Not only are the institutions Palestinians rely on for support being dismembered but so now are the organisations that record the crimes Israel has been committing.

That, Israel hopes, will ensure that an international observer post which has long had no teeth will soon will soon lose its sight too as Israel begins a process of annexing the most prized areas of the West Bank – with Hebron top of the list.

• A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi

The Venezuelan Coup: a Media Success?

The focus is now on Venezuela, but the US is really the key actor in this long-running drama. In reality, Venezuela is simply another repeat victim in the US centuries-long imperial campaign that began with the genocide of America’s Original People. Ever since then, and particularly since WWII, the US has pursued an expansive and aggressive foreign policy.

William Blum, a former State Department official, addressed US foreign policy in his series of books and articles. His 2004 book, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, documented US interference in political affairs in over 50 nations between 1945 and 1994, and US interventions have not stopped. For example, earlier this century we saw false claims from politicians and non-governmental organizations that the mainstream media spread widely about Iraq and Libya. These bogus claims were used to ‘justify’ criminal attacks that devastated these nations and caused almost inconceivable suffering and loss of life throughout the now destabilized Middle East.

The mainstream media is certainly a key element in convincing the public of the alleged good intentions of the US in all these interferences in the political affairs of other nations. The media echoes and expands the reach of US politicians who offer some positive-sounding excuse to the public as to why the US must either oust a leader or to attack another nation. Among all its many interventions, the US has been particularly active in Central and South America.

For example, in 1933 US Marine Corps legend, Major General Smedley Butler, discussed the reality when he described his early 20th-century experiences.

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. …

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. … And during that period … I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

In 1966 General David M. Shoup, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, echoed Butler. Shoup said:

I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own … at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don’t want and above all don’t want crammed down their throats by America.

Three of these US supported coups are of particular interest. The first was the savage coup against President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 that led to the brutal Pinochet military dictatorship. Showing the US leaders’ disdain for democracy, after Allende’s election in 1970 Henry Kissinger commented: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

In 2002 the US supported the coup, claimed done in the name of democracy, against Hugo Chávez, the democratically elected Venezuelan leader. According to William Blum, Monty Python legend Terry Jones described the coup as: Chávez was ousted in “a free and fair democratic coup, only to be returned to office two days later on what seems to have been little more than the whim of the people.”

In 2009 the US went against international opinion, including that of the Organization of American States, and recognized the result of the coup in Honduras against Manual Zeyala, the democratically-elected President. In 2013, Juan Orlando Hernández became the Honduran President in an election marred by claims of large numbers of voting irregularities and fraud. Hernández was and is a close ally of the US. In 2017, the US again went against international opinion and recognized Hernández as the winner of the election over Salvador Nasralla. This declaration flew in the face of an overwhelming early advantage for Nasralla and even the US-dominated OAS challenged the result and called for a new election. However, the US recognition of this highly doubtful outcome settled the matter. These events reinforce the idea that democracy is not a key concern of the US.

In 1999 former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali provided his take on the US.

It would be some time before I fully realized that the United States sees little need for diplomacy; power is enough. Only the weak rely on diplomacy. This is why the weak are so deeply concerned with the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states, as a means of providing some small measure of equality for that which is not equal in fact.

This takes us to Venezuela, the latest target for US intervention. There is indeed a split in the Venezuelan population that the US is again trying to use to its advantage. The primarily white oligarchs and wealthy who received most of the benefits from the natural resources want a return to that former state that preceded the election of Chávez. However, the large majority of the population is primarily poor and non-white. They have tremendously benefited from the Chávez and Maduro administrations allocating a greater amount of the Venezuelan wealth than previously to social programs that have made a huge positive difference in their lives.

The US again falsely claims it’s supporting democracy as it tries to foist a person, essentially unknown to most of the Venezuelan public until last month, upon it as its president. An excellent article by Cohen and Blumenthal demonstrated the role of the US in transforming the image of a violent opposition activist into being a respectable choice to lead Venezuela. In an attempt to justify this criminal imposition, the US media continually refer to Nicolas Maduro, the legitimately elected President as being illegitimate and a dictator. These claims about Maduro have no basis in fact and are reminiscent of the ‘big lie’ approach. In addition, President Maduro, despite his failings and relatively low popularity, has earned overwhelming support among the people for his defense of Venezuelan democracy and sovereignty.

We are now expected to believe that the US has suddenly changed under the current administration and supports democracy in Venezuela. It’s especially hard to believe that a nation whose cruel and illegal sanctions have played a major role in the devastation of the Venezuelan economy and creation of shortages of food and medicine has no ulterior motive in its offer of humanitarian aid. However, given the incredibly biased US mainstream media coverage, most of the public knows little about the reality of what is happening in Venezuela.

Instead of accepting or supporting this illegal coup attempt, let’s defend Venezuelan democracy and sovereignty. Let’s campaign for an end to the illegal and incredibly harsh economic war the US is conducting against Venezuela. In addition, let’s push for negotiations led by the Vatican, Mexico and Uruguay in an attempt to prevent a bloody and costly civil war or a military intervention by the US or its client states.

Laughter for All (Financial) Times

In these times, when the United States pursues an unprecedented military build-up, promotes coups and trade wars, breaks weapons agreements, organizes the illegal seizure of overseas financial accounts, building barriers and walls along the southern border, Washington can count on the mass media to provide a variety of propaganda messages, ranging from the predictable ‘yellow ’ to the sophisticated ‘serious press’ .

While the political class dismisses the sensational press, they are avid readers of the ‘prize winning’ propaganda newspapers and their columnists

Among the perceptive readers who follow the serious press one can hear periodical outburst of laughter or observe cynical smiles.

The ‘serious’ newspapers which draw the greatest attention include the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Though they vary in the style and quality of their writers, they all follow the same political line, especially on issues pertaining to US imperial power.

For our purposes – and because I have been a long-time subscriber of the Financial Times (FT) –, this essay will concentrate on its journalists and their articles.

Armchair Militarists and “Western Values”

Gideon Rachman is a senior columnist for the FT who travels around the world and has a unique ability to preach ‘western values’ … selectively. Commentating on contemporary US and EU politics, Rachman attributes to them ‘western values’– representative democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, overlooking two decades of imperial invasions, several hundred US bases around the world and countless violations of international law.

According to Rachman’s notion of ‘western values’ there is a historical legacy, a long tradition of constitutional government, – overlooking the conquest of five continents.

Moreover, while Rachman has consistently condemned Syria for human rights violations, he systematically avoids Israel’s weekly murder and wounding of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Most knowledgeable writers wink and grin as they read his selective labeling of western values.

John Paul ‘Ratface’ Rathbone is one of FT leading contributors on Latin America who specializes in celebrating murderous regimes and promoting US policies which overthrow freely elected democracies. During the first decade of the 21st century, “Ratface” (as some of his loyal readers refer to him), wrote eulogies about Colombia’s murderous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) as he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of insurgents and activists.

While Uribe’s death squads rain amok driving millions of peasants from their villages, Ratface frolicked in downtown night clubs and high-end bordellos enjoyed by oligarchs and tourists.

Consistent with the Ratface’s version of Colombia’s death squad democracy he condemned ‘the populist’ popularly elected democracies of Brazil and Venezuela.

Having distant ties to Cuba, Rathbone reminisces about the good times in pre-revolutionary Havana, its stately mansions and the fun city, as he ignores the common police practice of pulling fingernails of political dissidents.

Rathbone evokes occasional cynical smiles from columnists who are embarrassed by his toadying to Washington’s intelligence operatives.

Columnist Philip Stephens in the perennial bleeding-heart liberal who sheds tears for all of his pro-western martyrs, except those Downing Street designates as pro-Russian terrorists. Stephens wears his ‘liberal democratic’ credentials on his backside – from which he emits his gaseous defense of UK imperialist wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Stephen’s uncovers ‘undemocratic values’ in Putin’s poisonous operations even in provincial English villages.

Russian journalists are not excited by Philip’s journalistic ejaculations. He is the occasional butt of after work banter and laughter.

The Dean of the Times economic reportage is Martin “Marty” Wolf, who is well-known throughout the craft as the thoughtful advocate of welfare plutocracy. Martin advocates equality, justice — free markets for everybody but only the rich can meet his criteria. Marty finds and condemns populists of every hue. He engages in serious debate with leftists and rightists. But Marty like Gideon has yet to condemn Israel’s settler ‘populists’ who practice ethnic cleansing.

Despite his statistical tables, Marty never links his facts with the western imperial pillage of Africa, Asia and Latin America. His concerns and moral indignation is very selective and flourishes when he finds colonized people who call into question his western values.

Marty’s hostility to China is more than a broken financial love affair (that never was). It is part of the FT propaganda war to downgrade Beijing’s economic advances in the world economy. In the January 14, 2019 issue the entire editorial board went on a rampage, ranting about China’s technological theft, its ‘slow down’ and pending crises … always reaching gloomy conclusions.

The FT expert observers note ‘big facts’ — that China is declining, all of one tenth of one percent over the previous year. Most China observers chuckle over the FT’s China ‘crises’ and wonder how the EU is ‘robust’ when it touches two percent and the US a shade higher?

China’s so-called economic crises is, in the eyes of the FT, a product of its bloated state sector even as it promotes science and high-tech growth — but they are part of a total war.

Jamil Anderlini tags China as a ‘colonial power’ with its single base in Djibouti and for financing hundreds of billions in infrastructure, while the colonialism label is not applied to the US with several hundred military bases in five continents. China’s crackdown of US funded Uighur terrorists, who have murdered hundreds of Chinese citizens, is described as genocide, a term more apt for the US intervention in Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.

The FT has a stable of journalist hacks who specialize in ignoring US economic warfare against China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela etc.

All the economic ‘slowdowns’ among US adversaries are attributed to internal mismanagement never US intervention.

The one-sided propaganda pieces written by the FT leading hackers — Hornby, Feng, Politi, Kynge, Mallet, Anderlini, Bozorgmehr etc — are notoriously repetitive: China’s economy is on the verge of crises — which prediction never occurs and smart investors ignore while smirking all the way to their bank accounts.

The FT would offer its subscribers plenty to laugh about over late afternoon beers, if it were not for the war crimes it endorses. Their apologies of bloody western imperial invasions in the Middle East are not laughing matters.

The FT joins the Anglo-American chorus accusing Russia of political assassinations on British soil, without evidence or witnesses.

The FT has yet to chastise their US and British paymasters for their prolonged economic war against the elected governments in Venezuela.

The upwardly mobile FT scribes ,scrambling for senior posts, ignore the laughter at their pious claims of ‘democratic values’ because their columns reek of lies and denials of China’s advances, Russia’s economic recovery from the catastrophic decline which the Times celebrated alongside the oligarchs’ plunder during the lost decade of the nineties.

Conclusion

The difference between the articles in the FT and the handouts from the war ministry is a matter of source not substance.

As the US engages in a total war on China’s cutting-edge industries, particularly, the world’s most advanced telecom company Huawei, the FT parrots US threats and warnings without the least effort to sort out facts from propaganda.

The fact is, the Times is part and parcel of the imperial revival which attempts to block China from establishing its pre-eminence in the world. The FT echoes President Trump’s lies about economic theft as the basis for China’s Huawei’s global leadership in telecom technology.

The FT gloss over its overt political role, evokes smirks among knowledgeable insiders as they scoff their beer.

Anti-Trump rhetoric fails to obscure the fact that the FT fronts for most of his policies – from financial deregulations, pro-Israel apologetics and Middle East wars.

There is one caveat; the FT is more warlike than the President! The FT is for remaining in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and any other independent country! While the FT publishes upscale articles on wine tasting, the arts, literature, travel and jewel collecting, its ‘serious’ news promotes bloody imperial wars. There is nary a western war that the Times fails to support.

In truth, the FT are the print-police and gatekeepers overseeing the defense of ‘democratic values’ by any means necessary (including wars of untold destruction)!

The larger issue confronting the US public concern the link between the ‘serious press’, the educated reading public and Washington’s perpetual war strategy.

The ‘serious press’ like the FT is no stranger to propagandizing in favor of imperial wars, since its founding. Its lack of objectivity is a fact of life and is predictable. What is new and dangerous is that journalist-critics are few and far between, particularly as the US empire is challenged at home and abroad.

The turn to militarism and the decline in imperial economic dominance puts a premium on media propaganda; its job is convincing and activating the young, politically educated class, which does not have a commitment to the serious press.

Financial elites continue to subscribe but many laugh at the one-sided advocacy of US denigration of China – since most investors have made money on China’s robust growth.

Most investors are bored by the Times fables about ending wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It may come to pass someday that ridicule, loud and repeated laughter, will bankrupt the serious press, that its readers will be confined to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Even today, readers are disgusted by the FT grotesque front page features. Madeleine Albright appears on the House and Home section which mentions her ‘hospitality’ omitting to include her murderous bombing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi homes and her claim that the murder of a half-million Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ to win the war!

Laughter for All (Financial) Times

In these times, when the United States pursues an unprecedented military build-up, promotes coups and trade wars, breaks weapons agreements, organizes the illegal seizure of overseas financial accounts, building barriers and walls along the southern border, Washington can count on the mass media to provide a variety of propaganda messages, ranging from the predictable ‘yellow ’ to the sophisticated ‘serious press’ .

While the political class dismisses the sensational press, they are avid readers of the ‘prize winning’ propaganda newspapers and their columnists

Among the perceptive readers who follow the serious press one can hear periodical outburst of laughter or observe cynical smiles.

The ‘serious’ newspapers which draw the greatest attention include the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Though they vary in the style and quality of their writers, they all follow the same political line, especially on issues pertaining to US imperial power.

For our purposes – and because I have been a long-time subscriber of the Financial Times (FT) –, this essay will concentrate on its journalists and their articles.

Armchair Militarists and “Western Values”

Gideon Rachman is a senior columnist for the FT who travels around the world and has a unique ability to preach ‘western values’ … selectively. Commentating on contemporary US and EU politics, Rachman attributes to them ‘western values’– representative democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, overlooking two decades of imperial invasions, several hundred US bases around the world and countless violations of international law.

According to Rachman’s notion of ‘western values’ there is a historical legacy, a long tradition of constitutional government, – overlooking the conquest of five continents.

Moreover, while Rachman has consistently condemned Syria for human rights violations, he systematically avoids Israel’s weekly murder and wounding of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Most knowledgeable writers wink and grin as they read his selective labeling of western values.

John Paul ‘Ratface’ Rathbone is one of FT leading contributors on Latin America who specializes in celebrating murderous regimes and promoting US policies which overthrow freely elected democracies. During the first decade of the 21st century, “Ratface” (as some of his loyal readers refer to him), wrote eulogies about Colombia’s murderous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) as he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of insurgents and activists.

While Uribe’s death squads rain amok driving millions of peasants from their villages, Ratface frolicked in downtown night clubs and high-end bordellos enjoyed by oligarchs and tourists.

Consistent with the Ratface’s version of Colombia’s death squad democracy he condemned ‘the populist’ popularly elected democracies of Brazil and Venezuela.

Having distant ties to Cuba, Rathbone reminisces about the good times in pre-revolutionary Havana, its stately mansions and the fun city, as he ignores the common police practice of pulling fingernails of political dissidents.

Rathbone evokes occasional cynical smiles from columnists who are embarrassed by his toadying to Washington’s intelligence operatives.

Columnist Philip Stephens in the perennial bleeding-heart liberal who sheds tears for all of his pro-western martyrs, except those Downing Street designates as pro-Russian terrorists. Stephens wears his ‘liberal democratic’ credentials on his backside – from which he emits his gaseous defense of UK imperialist wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Stephen’s uncovers ‘undemocratic values’ in Putin’s poisonous operations even in provincial English villages.

Russian journalists are not excited by Philip’s journalistic ejaculations. He is the occasional butt of after work banter and laughter.

The Dean of the Times economic reportage is Martin “Marty” Wolf, who is well-known throughout the craft as the thoughtful advocate of welfare plutocracy. Martin advocates equality, justice — free markets for everybody but only the rich can meet his criteria. Marty finds and condemns populists of every hue. He engages in serious debate with leftists and rightists. But Marty like Gideon has yet to condemn Israel’s settler ‘populists’ who practice ethnic cleansing.

Despite his statistical tables, Marty never links his facts with the western imperial pillage of Africa, Asia and Latin America. His concerns and moral indignation is very selective and flourishes when he finds colonized people who call into question his western values.

Marty’s hostility to China is more than a broken financial love affair (that never was). It is part of the FT propaganda war to downgrade Beijing’s economic advances in the world economy. In the January 14, 2019 issue the entire editorial board went on a rampage, ranting about China’s technological theft, its ‘slow down’ and pending crises … always reaching gloomy conclusions.

The FT expert observers note ‘big facts’ — that China is declining, all of one tenth of one percent over the previous year. Most China observers chuckle over the FT’s China ‘crises’ and wonder how the EU is ‘robust’ when it touches two percent and the US a shade higher?

China’s so-called economic crises is, in the eyes of the FT, a product of its bloated state sector even as it promotes science and high-tech growth — but they are part of a total war.

Jamil Anderlini tags China as a ‘colonial power’ with its single base in Djibouti and for financing hundreds of billions in infrastructure, while the colonialism label is not applied to the US with several hundred military bases in five continents. China’s crackdown of US funded Uighur terrorists, who have murdered hundreds of Chinese citizens, is described as genocide, a term more apt for the US intervention in Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.

The FT has a stable of journalist hacks who specialize in ignoring US economic warfare against China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela etc.

All the economic ‘slowdowns’ among US adversaries are attributed to internal mismanagement never US intervention.

The one-sided propaganda pieces written by the FT leading hackers — Hornby, Feng, Politi, Kynge, Mallet, Anderlini, Bozorgmehr etc — are notoriously repetitive: China’s economy is on the verge of crises — which prediction never occurs and smart investors ignore while smirking all the way to their bank accounts.

The FT would offer its subscribers plenty to laugh about over late afternoon beers, if it were not for the war crimes it endorses. Their apologies of bloody western imperial invasions in the Middle East are not laughing matters.

The FT joins the Anglo-American chorus accusing Russia of political assassinations on British soil, without evidence or witnesses.

The FT has yet to chastise their US and British paymasters for their prolonged economic war against the elected governments in Venezuela.

The upwardly mobile FT scribes ,scrambling for senior posts, ignore the laughter at their pious claims of ‘democratic values’ because their columns reek of lies and denials of China’s advances, Russia’s economic recovery from the catastrophic decline which the Times celebrated alongside the oligarchs’ plunder during the lost decade of the nineties.

Conclusion

The difference between the articles in the FT and the handouts from the war ministry is a matter of source not substance.

As the US engages in a total war on China’s cutting-edge industries, particularly, the world’s most advanced telecom company Huawei, the FT parrots US threats and warnings without the least effort to sort out facts from propaganda.

The fact is, the Times is part and parcel of the imperial revival which attempts to block China from establishing its pre-eminence in the world. The FT echoes President Trump’s lies about economic theft as the basis for China’s Huawei’s global leadership in telecom technology.

The FT gloss over its overt political role, evokes smirks among knowledgeable insiders as they scoff their beer.

Anti-Trump rhetoric fails to obscure the fact that the FT fronts for most of his policies – from financial deregulations, pro-Israel apologetics and Middle East wars.

There is one caveat; the FT is more warlike than the President! The FT is for remaining in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and any other independent country! While the FT publishes upscale articles on wine tasting, the arts, literature, travel and jewel collecting, its ‘serious’ news promotes bloody imperial wars. There is nary a western war that the Times fails to support.

In truth, the FT are the print-police and gatekeepers overseeing the defense of ‘democratic values’ by any means necessary (including wars of untold destruction)!

The larger issue confronting the US public concern the link between the ‘serious press’, the educated reading public and Washington’s perpetual war strategy.

The ‘serious press’ like the FT is no stranger to propagandizing in favor of imperial wars, since its founding. Its lack of objectivity is a fact of life and is predictable. What is new and dangerous is that journalist-critics are few and far between, particularly as the US empire is challenged at home and abroad.

The turn to militarism and the decline in imperial economic dominance puts a premium on media propaganda; its job is convincing and activating the young, politically educated class, which does not have a commitment to the serious press.

Financial elites continue to subscribe but many laugh at the one-sided advocacy of US denigration of China – since most investors have made money on China’s robust growth.

Most investors are bored by the Times fables about ending wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It may come to pass someday that ridicule, loud and repeated laughter, will bankrupt the serious press, that its readers will be confined to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Even today, readers are disgusted by the FT grotesque front page features. Madeleine Albright appears on the House and Home section which mentions her ‘hospitality’ omitting to include her murderous bombing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi homes and her claim that the murder of a half-million Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ to win the war!

China’s response to British Threats

The government of the People's Republic of China has cancelled a meeting that had been scheduled between Vice Prime Minister ‎Hu Chunhua (see photo) and the Finance Minister, Philip Hammond.‎ In an address made at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the UK Minister of Defence, Gavin Williamson, recently threatened to send an aircraft carrier to the China Sea to make Peking “pay dearly” for “its aggressive conduct” . ‎ The cancellation of the meeting with the Finance Minister deprives the (...)

Enough Western Meddling and Interventions: Let the Venezuelan People Decide

American politicians from the two main parties have finally found something to agree upon: more intervention in Venezuela.

“Now, despite (President Nicolas) Maduro, there is hope (in Venezuela)”, wrote Democratic Senator, Dick Durbin, in USA Today. “These events (meaning the current political instability in the country) are a welcome development of Latin American nations defending democracy.”

“He’s picked a battle he can’t win,” Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, said, referring to Maduro in an interview, quoted in the New York Times. “It’s just a matter of time. The only thing we don’t know is how long it will take – and whether it will be peaceful or bloody.”

This unprecedented unity between Democrats and Republicans reflects an American legacy that precedes the current Donald Trump Administration by nearly two centuries. In fact, it goes much further and deeper than the US hegemonic approach to South America, to encompass the entire Western political hemisphere, with the exception of Italy, Norway and Greece.

The West’s love-affair with intervention has little to do with restoring democracy, either in Venezuela, or anywhere else. ‘Democracy’ has been used throughout the 20th century as a tool that provided legal and moral rationalization for US and Western meddling. It matters little to Western leaders that Maduro was elected in presidential elections deemed ‘transparent‘ by international observers in May 2018.

Notwithstanding Maduro’s own shortcomings in uniting his people in the face of a most pressing economic crisis, what gives Trump, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron the right to cast a deciding vote on who rules over Venezuela?

Sadly, Venezuela is neither the precedent, nor the exception. South America – as are the Middle East and Africa – has for long been perceived as if a Western protectorate going back many years. They are all rich with oil and other essential raw materials, but are also strategically significant in terms of global hegemony. Colonialism might have ended in its traditional form (with Palestine being the main exception) but it lives on in other ways.

While the US and its Western allies are strongly challenged by rising economic and military powers in Asia, the fate of South America, the Middle East and Africa is yet to be decided. The US, in particular, has always viewed South America as its own turf, and has either directly or indirectly contributed to coups, political and economic instability throughout the region.

US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, has garnered a terrible reputation due to his role in the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent destabilization of the Middle East. Although discredited for his thoughtless and often militant approach to politics, he was resurrected by the Trump administration and is now travelling the world sowing the seeds of political and military discord.

While speaking about Washington’s need to “protect democracy” in Venezuela, Bolton admitted that a coup in Venezuela is an opportunity to exploit the country’s vast oil and natural resources.

Bolton explained the economic logic of US intervention in an interview with Fox News, soon after Venezuelan opposition leader and a main ally of the US, Juan Guaidó, declared himself an ‘interim president’ on January 23.

A regime change in Venezuela “will make a big difference to the United States economically, if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” Bolton said.

But how is that to be achieved?

During a press conference at the White House a few days after the coup, Bolton “appeared to disclose confidential notes written on a yellow pad that included a plan to send US troops to Colombia,” in preparation for a military intervention in Venezuela.

Hasn’t Iraq quelled Bolton’s appetite for intervention, considering that the entire Middle East region now subsists in political uncertainty and unrelenting wars? And if Bolton is yet to get a hint that the world is rapidly changing, and that it behooves his country to reconsider its destructive interventionist foreign policy, why are Democrats joining in, along with the ‘liberal’ and ‘socialist’ European powers?

“Old habits die hard,” as the saying goes, and it seems that Western politicians refuse to abandon the old interventionist maxim and colonialist mentality through which they ruled the world for far too long.

This view is not meant to undermine the horrific economic conditions in Venezuela or overlook the endemic corruption in that country, which need to be understood and, if needed, criticized. But while the Venezuelan people have every right to protest their government, demanding greater accountability and economic solutions to the crushing poverty facing the country, no one has the right to meddle in the affairs of Venezuela or any other sovereign country, anywhere.

Moreover, it must be clear that neither the US nor its allies are interested in helping Venezuela to overcome its economic woes. In fact, they seem to be doing everything in their power to exacerbate the problem.

Hyperinflation and the crumbling of Venezuela’s oil industries led to a dramatic economic downturn in recent years, with about ten percent of the population fleeing the country. Poor policy choices also led to the significant weakening of local production and increasing devaluation of the country’s currency.

Venezuela has been a target on the American radar for many years. The deterioration of its economy, however, was the perfect opportunity for the US to trigger its Venezuelan allies into action, this leading to the current coup and political stalemate.

But those counting on the US to stabilize Venezuela in the long run are ignorant of history. The US government has hardly ever been a source of stability in South America, certainly not since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. Since then, the US has done more than mere meddling, but engaged in outright political and military interventions.

The situation in Venezuela is dire, with children reportedly dying as a result of the lack of medicine and food. The country is also gearing up for a US military intervention and possible civil war.

Considering that all of these tragic predictions have already been witnessed in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, South American leaders, and the few sensible voices around the world must move to block any further US meddling, and allow the people of Venezuela, through democracy, to determine their own future.

Sickness and Paranoia: The Morrison Government’s Refugee Problem

The passage of amendments to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) by the Australian House of Representatives and the Senate this week was less a case of celebration than necessitous deliverance.  The mental wellbeing of asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, or lack thereof, has been documented extensively from Australian legal representatives to members of Médecins Sans Frontières.

The Medevac Bill is scripted in clunky fashion typical of Australian drafting, but it does what other items of legislation have not: privilege, to some extent at least, medical opinion on the desperate situation of those kept in indefinite detention.  Australia’s own crude experiment of what might be termed “biopolitical” control has had predictably disastrous consequences on health and well-being.

The legislation supplies the lawful basis for refugees and asylum seekers to be transferred to Australia for “medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment”.  “Aside from being a circuit breaker to current arrangements,” claim Nicholas Proctor and Mary Anne Kenny, “the bill is a new opportunity to establish agreed governance arrangements and a clinical pathway for recognising and responding to medical need without political interference.”

Previously, Australian governments have fought any transfer arrangements of refugees and asylum seekers from Canberra’s tropical gulag with rabid ferocity.  Be it men, women or children, any show of compassion has been given the cold sneer.

The assessment of each patient is to be conducted by two doctors, either in person or remotely, keeping in mind psychiatric and treatment needs. Crucial here is the consideration about whether those supposedly five star facilities in Nauru or Manus Island supply any adequate basis for treating psychiatric and medical disorders.

It would be foolish to presume that the new provisions somehow alleviate the prospects of political interference.  The 72-hour window limit for the Minister for Home Affairs merely imposes a note of urgency; he otherwise retains power of approval or refusal over the recommendations regarding transferrals.  A firestop of sorts restraining the minister has been put in place, one involving an Independent Health Advice Panel, but this is hardly the end of the matter.  Traditional grounds for refusal are also available: a person having a “substantial criminal record” or facing an adverse security assessment might be refused leave to be treated in Australia.

The Coalition was hoping to catch out the opposition on grounds of constitutionality.  (All about inappropriate expenditure, you see.)  That was swiftly remedied by another amendment by the Labor party deeming all members sitting on the medical panel pro bono officials.

Stung and out manoeuvred in parliament, the Morrison government turned savage; facing electoral defeat (the latest poll figures show that a farm slaughter awaits), the signal to abandon reason was there.  Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann, Attorney-General Christian Porter and a host of worthies from the government side have been drumming the same note of feral abandon: opposition politicians are weak on protecting Australia’s sacred borders; refugees should be tarred and feathered as criminals of various sorts.

Labor, tweeted Morrison, “have learned nothing from their past failures and cannot be trusted to keep our borders and Australia strong.”  The Coalition’s border protection policy, he reiterated with confidence trickster’s gumption, “stopped the boats, stopped the deaths at sea, closed the detention centres, removed all children from detention and from Nauru.”

Former Prime Minister and backbencher Tony Abbott has been doing his bit as spear thrower, arguing that, “If you lose control of the border, you lose control of the country.” (Is this code for bowel and body?)

Porter’s reasoning is imaginatively skewed: the bill as passed permits individuals to be transferred to Australia who are either charged and not convicted; or convicted yet not sentenced. “At the very last moment, Labor put an amendment in that would give some discretion to the minister to stop people who are criminals, in effect, from coming to Australia.” Such a measure would fail, given that sentencing was “a very long tunnel”, and that ministerial discretion could not be exercised to keep the rotters out.

Fancifully, Porter’s nasty bout of demonization ignores the effects the detention regime have had on the individuals in question.  Prisons are schools for crime; detention centres are sites for mental ruination.  In some cases, these have resulted in sexual predation and desperation, hardly a cause of justification, but perfectly understandable in Canberra’s desire to degrade a certain class of refugee. If you treat people like animals, expect certain results.

A broader principle is also ignored: those either charged or convicted are not entitled to decent medical care.  They are, whatever their legal status, to suffer.  Yet again, Australia’s inherent penal mentality manifests.

Rounding the list of terrors involved, government representatives have been focusing on that permanently rich gift that keeps giving: the morally depraved and corrupt people smuggler, a phantom menace who has done wonders to keep members of parliament elected and secure.  Such a being, it would seem, is always there, awaiting to do the terrible thing and exploit an asylum seeker’s right to, well, seek asylum.  People smugglers, claims Abbott, “will be saying to their potential customers ‘look what Labor has been able to do in opposition, think how better they’ll be for you when they’re in government.”

In an effort to shore up its failings on the vote, the Morrison government has sought to use Christmas Island as a replacement option.  In Morrison’s resigned words, “We have approved putting in place the re-opening of the Christmas Island detention facilities, both to deal with the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of transfers.”

Local officials on Christmas Island were none too amused; if the facilities were not adequate on Manus or Nauru, they are hardly going to reach par on Christmas Island.  But refugee politics in Australia, at least since the late 1990s, has not been about the sensible and the generous, but about the punitive and the preventative.