It's not every day that you get forwarded such a classic piece of spam - the first bit of political spam I've ever set eyes on, originally sent by one Adam Ghaznavi:
Resist USA Nuclear Fascism:
Dump the $ Go 4 Gold
UNTIL the moment the Iran war starts, the USA (petrodollar based, speculative/ credit expansionary) regime has control of the geo political economic agenda because of its operational insanity.
But because (to prop up petrodollar hegemony) USA cannot stop without immediately destroying their legitimising narrative (triggering crash of petrodollar & with it the entire global political economy) they must carry on bombing (presumably including nukes)
The options are stark. Accept global slavery under an ever more rapacious & annihilatory USA nuclear fascist tyranny…
OR bring USA empire crashing down; not just by resistance in states afflicted/ threatened with occupation, but most effectively, by dumping the worthless enslaving dollar & going for gold(especially for oil trading).
The consequent catastrophic geo pol/econ fallout from collapse of apocalyptic credit expansionary system, triggered via re-establishment of gold standard (which is inherently deflationary).
In turn creates both imperatives & potential to re-engineer the entire global political economy through establishment of a (global reserve Bank of Jerusalem &) single global energy based (instead of gold or fiat) currency.
Which entails literally pumping liquidity (oil/gas before the means to pay for them have been developed) into the market to buy time to effect (with a WARTIME will) the global transition to solar power microgeneration.
In exchange for which USA/ Europe etc agree to accept the constraints of a new global security architecture/ constitution.
The price of consolidating the globally pivotal Medina (oil) superstate will be Jewish admin of Mecca (asmuslims do with Christian Sepulchre, to prevent general war among Christian factions) to prevent warring Sunni/Shia factions razing Mecca (again) or entire region, when Israel has woken up to threat of USA Rapture psychology as per `Revelations7:4’.
THEY CAME, THEY SAW, THEY ATE UP HARRY'S BANDWIDTH
Anyone having trouble getting onto Harry's Place this morning? Reckon it might have something to do with Charles at LGF linking to their "I'm not a racist, but..." piece.
As if it were ever needed, more proof the Indie has truly become the Daily Mail for the Left. The LGF comments are quite fun for once (not a pancake in sight). Noone seems to have heard of the site mind you: it make me chuckle to see HP regular j0nz trying to explain that HP are a bunch of mostly Lefties to a bunch of mostly Righties. Although it wouldn't be LGF comments without someone getting irate about the UK and WWII whilst forgetting that *ahem* the US turned up late. Again.
Two that made me smile (especially the description of Fisk as a "liberal"):
A word to Fisk and his liberal brethren:
You are correct. Absolutely correct. THE LOBBY is all-powerful, all-seeing, and in full control.
They are a riddle inside a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
INJEWCON can now announce that it was industrial saboteurs from the International Jewish Conspiracy's Chutzpah Committee who successfully ensured that the new Mini Cooper would be substantially larger than the original in every dimension, giving the Germans, who now manufacture the diminutive automobile, the impression that they are shrinking.
(Update: Although didn't VW run an ad campaign on this gag a while back?)
If you've been living in a cave for the past two weeks (and to all intents and purposes I have) here's the skinny:
We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.
I remember first being approached about this and I was asked if I was a lefty or not. Which I am, in my own way. I think I replied that several causes I considered ought to belong to the true Left had been abandoned or hijacked by opportunists and fakes, from Michael Moore's description of Iraqi insurgents as "minutemen" to the SWP's position on the Iraq War that "by far the lesser evil would be reverses, or defeat, for the US and British forces."
Having just read Oliver Kamm's "Anti-Totalitarianism" I was encouraged that things hadn't always been this way and so "signed up" to see what exactly the original group had in mind.
Despite suffering from the worst flu I've had in years, I was impressed by the broad range of viewpoints present at the meeting, particularly on an issue as divisive as the Iraq War. There were some who were adamantly for it, some who'd always been against it and many whose opinions were somewhere in between. I was also impressed that it didn't seem to be some sort of think-tank for embittered card-carrying Labour Party members, although there is of course a strong Leftist vein running through the whole operation.
And why shouldn't there be? Who better to realign the Left's moral compass?
Daniel Finkelstein takes issue with this. Writing in today's Times he states:
The authors believe they are reclaiming these principles for the Left, principles that originated with Left thinkers and were fought for by Left agitators, principles that commend themselves to any Left thinker on domestic issues but somehow do not when those same people consider foreign policy. And in this, the signatories of the Euston Manifesto have a good point, of course they do.
It is not necessary to go back to the Enlightenment to find the Left defending all this. Since September 11 2001, conservatives have taken much of the heat for their advocacy of intervention and the spread of democracy. Yet some of the most articulate arguments for this position have come from those who see themselves as left-wing — from our own David Aaronovitch and Oliver Kamm, for instance, or from the American intellectual Paul Berman. And no other statesman has matched the courage with which Tony Blair has put this case.
So here’s my position on the Euston manifesto. I admire its authors, I agree with its sentiments, I think it well written and timely. I also think this — the Euston Manifesto is a gigantic waste of time and energy.
And why pray tell?
The principles outlined by the authors of the Euston Manifesto may draw on the great history of the Left, but they are not its present or its future. The group supporting it has impressive quality. But quantity? No. All the hours spent drafting such a clear statement of principles has been wasted on people who do not agree and never will.
The task of persuading the Left is also unnecessary. For if the Euston Manifesto had been published by a group of rightwingers it might attract some right-wing opposition, but support would be overwhelming on the Right. This may not be a very attractive fact for a group of left-liberal authors to come to terms with, but it is the truth nevertheless.
I know how hard this is. I had to come to terms with it myself, after years of thinking myself part of the Left, and it was difficult to do and took me a long time. But it is now more than 15 years since I realised that the Left’s failure to treat all forms of totalitarianism as if they were the same was not going to change.
The Right has its failings, Lord knows that it does. But it is a better ally in the cause that the Euston Manifesto champions. It is as simple as that.
That all seems rather defeatist to me.
Having seen the Democratic Party go to the dogs in the US with many muscular liberals leaving or defecting to the Republicans (see LGF comments circa 2001-2003 and the scorn poured by supposedly "true" Democrats on the likes of Neo-Neocon and KesherTalk), I don't want to see the same happen here. Rather than standing up to the likes of "Screw 'Em" Zuniga and his chums at DailyKos, the Democrats actually turned to them for advice. Suffice to say, the results have been rather better for the candidates they didn't endorse...
I have no intention of allowing the same to happen to the Labour Party when Tony finally puts his feet up and Cherie has to start paying for her haircuts like everybody else. Not when the only opposition is an opportunistic Tory Party that was for the Iraq war before it was against it and a ragtag bunch of eccentrics (and that's being kind) claiming to be Liberal Democrats.
Unlike the US, I don't want to see significant numbers of Leftists and liberals being forced to jump ship: I want to see them make a stand. Daniel Finkelstein may be the exception, but I've yet to meet someone of my age who has jumped into bed with the Right over this. If we can force the Sue Blackwell's of this world into retreat over her proposed AUT boycott of Israel, we can win the rest of the arguments contained within the Euston Manifesto.
But the Euston Manifesto's target audience is not just the UK - it calls for an internationalist stance that will hopefully provoke greater debate amongst Leftists globally. Why the banners equating Israel to Nazi Germany at supposedly Leftist anti-globalisation demonstrations? Why the acceptance of Bush Derangement Syndrome (see here for a particularly fine case)?
I know the regulars here are a pretty disparate bunch and wouldn't expect a number of you to go near this with a bargepole. But we've already shown that whether we're Canadian or Australian Conservatives, British Old or New Lefties, anarchists living the life of von Reilly or just plain old centrists that we share some pretty important core values that transcend our disagreements over issues like the welfare state, levels of taxation or other party political matters. It's these core values that need to be made to count.
By not focussing on economics, free markets and all the other standard Left-Right lines in the sand, but instead cementing our shared core values and encouraging those beyond the Left to join in, the Euston Manifesto has a lot going for it.
Returning to a point Daniel Finkelstein made in his piece:
If the Euston Manifesto had been published by a group of rightwingers it might attract some right-wing opposition, but support would be overwhelming on the Right.
OK. But just because support is not overwhelming from the Left does not mean it should or ought to be forever so. And let's not forget that many on the traditional Right are unashamedly isolationist, a fact that Finkelstein conveniently ignores.
The extent of the debate going on on the Left since its publication shows that the Euston Manifesto could not have come at a better time. Daniel Finkelstein may think this a wasted effort, but if it can encourage some fresh new minds on the Left and a rejection of the muddled thinking that has characterised much of Leftist thought of late, we should all be grateful.
ASIDE: My major criticism of the Euston Manifesto Group is that they choose to meet in such a poor pub. No real ale on tap - now what's that all about?
It's not every Sunday I find an Express in my local coffee shop. And not being a thirty-something in the midst of a Quo-Life Crisis, I've never bought Q magazine either.
To those who have, apologies.
To those who haven't, imagine my delight to spot the Gorgeous One spouting the following:
[On Tony Blair] I think he's a preening tosser.
I mean, he is quite a nice guy when you're sitting having a cup of tea, but if you were sitting with a mass murderer you wouldn't put on one side the fact that he was a mass murderer just because his manners were good.
I've had a pretty rough Easter to be honest, with a couple of people who mean a lot to me playing musical beds at the hospital. Not fun. No web access at home either, but I'm sure you survived.
Anyhow, perhaps I ought to nip off more often. In the space of a week in which I've made exactly zero posts, my site traffic has trebled. Maybe I should take the hint, although I'll put my neck on the line and say it's probably got something to do with this...
Tom Gross has an excellent article in the NRO pointing out FIFA's hypocrisy in condemning Israel's strike on an empty football pitch used by Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade for training exercises, whilst keeping schtum over a Palestinian rocket attack on an Israeli football pitch. The former was performed when the pitch was empty; the latter wasn't and caused at least one casualty.
When even FIFA is vilifying Israel, you know something's rotten in the state of Denmark.
Israel is used to being singled out for unjust criticism and subjected to startling double standards by the United Nations, the European Union, much of the Western media and numerous academic bodies. But now FIFA — the supposedly nonpolitical organization that governs the world's most popular sport, soccer — is getting in on the act as well.
FIFA has condemned Israel for an air strike on an empty soccer field in the Gaza Strip that was used for training exercises by Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. This strike did not cause any injuries. But at the same time FIFA has refused to condemn a Palestinian rocket attack on an Israeli soccer field last week which did cause injuries.
In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Jerome Champagne, FIFA's deputy general secretary, who had personally condemned the attack on the Palestinian soccer pitch, refused to extend a similar condemnation to the attack on the Israeli pitch.
Jerome Champagne? Surely a Mills and Boon character.
But of course, this singling out of Israel isn't antisemitic. How could it be? Get ready...
In response to some of this criticism Champagne — perhaps unaware of the phenomena of some radical Jews being at the forefront of whipping up hate against the Jewish state — wrote to the Jerusalem Post saying he couldn't possibly be biased against Israel because his wife was Jewish.
Well that's all right then.
Gross has done his homework on this one, picking up on a couple of cases where being Israeli prevented several players from joining the rest of their team training abroad:
In February, Tal Ben Haim — the Israeli national soccer team captain, who plays his club soccer for the English Premiership team Bolton Wanderers — was banned from joining his Bolton teammates for their training matches in Dubai. FIFA pointedly ignored this. So did Bolton despite the fact that the team claims to be among the leaders of the campaign to "Kick racism out of football" in the U.K.
Only last week, another English club, West Ham, left their two Israeli players, Yossi Benayoun and Yaniv Katan, at home when they went to Dubai. FIFA naturally had nothing to say. [Ed. But Norm did.]
Whilst Israel is often slandered as an "apartheid state," (despite having several Arabs playing in its national team), Dubai has received no criticism for what appears to be a clear "apartheid" policy.
Hmmm. So is the AUT's Sue Blackwell working for FIFA these days then? What a grim state of affairs.
There's one ray of light at the end of the article:
Not all is rotten in world soccer. Some individuals still seem to know right from wrong. Last week, Ronaldinho, the Brazilian superstar widely regarded as the best current player in the world, donated signed footballs and shirts to Israeli child suicide bomb survivors, saying he hoped his gifts would "warm the hearts of the children who have suffered so much."
Not just a pretty face then, eh?
EXTRA: I'm sure he's deadly serious, but Bart's comments from the JPost link (#17) made me chuckle:
17. Israelis Should Play Real Sports Bart - USA 04/07/2006 15:04
Soccer isn't a sport for real men, only for effeminate Euros and Third Worlders, who can't afford sports equipment. Israelis should try American sports like baseball and football, perhaps mixed martial arts as well and leave soccer to lesser evolved humans.
He might normally write absolute cobblers about football, but Martin Samuel almost earnt himself an understudy role at Harry's Place with this little number, ripping into Ken over his "Poll Tax riots = Tiananmen Square" moral equivalence moment:
On February 23, 2006, Yu Dongyue, deputy editor of the Liuyang Daily, was released after imprisonment for “counter-revolutionary sabotage and incitement”. His crime was to throw paint at the Tiananmen Square portrait of Mao Zedong. Amnesty International considered him a prisoner of conscience. His first two years were spent alone and on his release it became apparent that Mr Yu had been driven insane. He had scars on his head, physical evidence of extensive abuse, did not recognise lifelong friends and repeated certain words and phrases continually. Others, such as Liu Zhihua, are not due to be released until 2011 for taking part in a demonstration at a factory in Hunan.
So, Ken, not much like the poll tax riots, then. And while Peterloo is ancient history, here are men and women in our lifetime, imprisoned by a regime your mute presence can only endorse. Mr Livingstone, like all mealy-mouthed politicians rendered morally speechless by China’s mammon, insisted he would make his views known to his hosts in private.
Let’s see how this works, shall we?
In 1999, Jiang Zemin. the Chinese Prime Minister, visited Britain. At a private reception, he seized a microphone and belted out a song from a 1944 film, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay.
Pressured to reply in kind, John Prescott led the company in a chorus of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. In 2001, Mr Jiang spent in excess of £350 million building labour camps for dissidents. Still, you do what you can.
I'd not come across that tale before. If it's true, nice.
While it would be nice to think that when the doors close Mr Livingstone will begin laying into the Chinese Government with the venom he traditionally reserves for his former employers at Associated Newspapers, don’t hold your breath. He will follow the money, just like Mr Prescott, just like Tony Blair, just like grasping politicians who see not brutality and corruption in modern China, but cash and contracts.
Speaking at a function hosted by David Brewer, the Lord Mayor of London, on January 12 this year, Mr Livingstone said: “If China sees London as its base in the West, then this city’s future will be secure.”
Go on, Ken. Tell it like it is, mate. That is why we love him, you know. He’s such a maverick.
Oh, and given that Google Image Search doesn't do the trick, here's the closest I can get to a picture of Mr Samuel.
[I]f everyone knows that Mr Bush is Count Dracula, then everyone also knows that the British PM is his fly-nibbling Renfield. “There is a wild card in this,” added Hersh, “and this is what I’m hearing here in Washington, and that’s one Tony Blair. One does not know what Tony Blair, despite his political troubles of today, would do if directly pushed by the President on this issue.” So Mr Blair could be about to commit Britain to supporting a US nuclear strike on Iran.
[The BBC's John Humphries, yesterday morning]JH: “And finally to Jeremy Bowen, our Middle East editor, what do you make of all this, Jeremy?” “Well, John, Seymour Hersh’s sources are very good. Now the question is are they telling him the truth or is this some kind of disinformation operation?”
How Bowen knows whether Hersh’s sources for this are good or not is anyone’s guess. As well as the unnecessarily reticent House member, there are in the article, as described by Hersh, the following: a former senior intelligence official, a government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon, one former defence official, one military planner, one high-ranking diplomat, a senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror, a discouraged former International Atomic Energy Agency official, a former high-level Defence Department official, one recently retired high-level Bush Administration official, one former senior UN official, a senior Israeli intelligence official, a European intelligence official, another diplomat in Vienna and a Western ambassador there. Some offer the most sensational information, and others just give punchy quotes of great narrative usefulness.
The problem here is that we simply have to take Hersh and his judgment on trust. This is awkward, because he’s done a lot of good stuff in his career, and some pretty bad stuff. And there’s no way at all of knowing which this is. It just seems a pity that with so much at stake, not even his “formers” are prepared to speak on the record.
Which is pretty much the way I felt about the article.
He also echoes my thoughts from a previous thread when he writes:
My own uninformed guess is that there’s a lot of contingency planning going on about Iran, just as we plan for the unlikely eventuality of an avian flu pandemic, and that you can drive yourself crazy with the implications of ever having to use military action against such a complex and important country, just as you can with speculating on how we will bury 500,000 flu fatalities. Someone in a room somewhere needs a plan for every possibility — the rest of us need to deal with the likely world. Hersh reminds us that “there is a Cold War precedent for targeting deep underground bunkers with nuclear weapons”. My point is that we didn’t use it.
Doughnut Boy Andy in the comments pointed out that Iran needs to know the US is serious. If the Iranian regime had any lingering doubts about the measures the US is prepared to take to prevent Iran developing nukes, in a round-about way Hersh has helped by letting them know, albeit via several anonymous sources. However, I can't believe the Iranian regime hadn't already considered the prospect of a US strike with tactical nukes.
So for all the lunacy of Mr. Ahmadinejad, it is time for him to sober up and do some cool reckoning. He thinks appearing unhinged offers advantages in nuclear poker. And he preens that unpredictability is the private domain of the fanatical believer, who talks into empty wells and uses his powers of hypnosis to ensure his listeners cannot blink.
Iran, of course, is still an underdeveloped country. It seems to profess that it is willing to lose even its poverty in order to take out one wealthy Western city in the exchange. But emotion works both ways, and the Iranians must now be careful. Mr. Bush is capable of anger and impatience as well. Of all recent American presidents, he seems the least likely to make decisions about risky foreign initiatives on the basis of unfavorable polls.
Israel is not free from its passions either — for there will be no second Holocaust. It is time for the Iranian leaders to snap out of their pseudo-trances and hocus-pocus, and accept that some Western countries are not merely far more powerful than Iran, but in certain situations and under particular circumstances, can be just as driven by memory, history, and, yes, a certain craziness as well.
Ever since September 11, the subtext of this war could be summed up as something like, “Suburban Jason, with his iPod, godlessness, and earring, loves to live too much to die, while Ali, raised as the 11th son of an impoverished but devout street-sweeper in Damascus, loves death too much to live.” The Iranians, like bin Laden, promulgate this mythical antithesis, which, like all caricatures, has elements of truth in it. But what the Iranians, like the al Qaedists, do not fully fathom, is that Jason, upon concluding that he would lose not only his iPod and earring, but his entire family and suburb as well, is capable of conjuring up things far more frightening than anything in the 8th-century brain of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately, the barbarity of the nightmares at Antietam, Verdun, Dresden, and Hiroshima prove that well enough.
So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable. And military history shows that the irrational 10 percent of the Western mind is a lot scarier than anything Islamic fanaticism has to offer.
So, please, Mr. Ahmadinejad, cool the rhetoric fast — before you needlessly push once reasonable people against the wall, and thus talk your way into a sky full of very angry and righteous jets.
For all the bluster (if you dare us, we can and shall be madder than you), there's some very valid points in it. Worth a look.
Firstly, hats of to those filthy Drink-soaked Trots for spotting this Chomsky Bot (via ModernityBlog). Go ahead, ask him anything. I asked him if he'd taken crack with Ward Churchill and received a quite illuminating answer. I'm sure he'll be as frank with you too.
It reminded me of an old site we once used to great effect in the postmodernism-afflicted Law Department of Birkbeck College. Each time you visit this site it generates a novel postmodern discourse for your dialectical pleasure.
Imagine the humour of seeing several academics, who should have known better, quite avidly discussing the merits of one of the generated pieces. This, for example:
1. Neodialectic deconstructivist theory and precultural feminism
The main theme of the works of Fellini is a self-justifying whole. But Marx uses the term ‘precultural feminism’ to denote not deconstruction, but subdeconstruction. The subject is contextualised into a Marxist socialism that includes language as a totality.
However, the example of Batailleist `powerful communication’ intrinsic to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is also evident in Amarcord. Debord uses the term ‘conceptual discourse’ to denote the fatal flaw, and subsequent absurdity, of dialectic sexual identity.
Therefore, the subject is interpolated into a precultural feminism that includes narrativity as a reality. The primary theme of Bailey’s analysis of Marxist socialism is not discourse per se, but prediscourse.
In a sense, any number of theories concerning the difference between society and class exist. Lacan uses the term ‘conceptual discourse’ to denote a mythopoetical paradox.
If we conceive of the book strictly in terms of an Eros-Thanatos dialectic, pleasure versus parabola, then we may miss another important structural correlative: the codex object itself.
Considering only pleasure versus parabola? A schoolboy error if ever I saw one.
Here's someone who seems to be churning out her Comment is Free posts using a simplified version of the Postmodern Generator.
Although I think she's been getting some assistance from the Straw Man Generator as well. Firstly she states:
Consider this: "The European Enlightenment was a unique event in human history in which all the founding principles of western secular democracies were forged. All our scientific developments, the importance of reason, religious tolerance, the rule of law, rationality, a secular state, progress in human rights and our atheism can be traced back to this momentous period of intellectual history. This is the legacy we must hold fast to, and assert unapologetically against the challenges it faces from Islamism."
Agree with all that? If so, you're on very shaky historical ground but you've got plenty of company.
Really? Which defender of the Enlightenment seriously believes that all our scientific achievements can be traced back to this period in history? If you believe that, you may well have plenty of company, but it will only be the voices in your head.
MB: One of the most common misconceptions, is that the Enlightenment was about atheism, and drove an irreversible wedge between science and reason on one hand and religion on the other.
No, no and thrice no.
No serious historian has ever said that the Enlightenment was "about" atheism because it damn well wasn't.
Secularism on the other hand is the separation of religious and state power, or at least the weakening of the former in the public sphere. Even Maddy might agree that the idea of secularism received a huge boost during the Enlightment.
Before the Eighteenth Century most European countries incorporated the power of the church within that of the state: after the Enlightenment there was a long withdrawing roar as the church and state parted company.
You don't have to be an atheist to see the benefit of such an arrangement, or to see it as a step forward in human development and I won't rehearse the argument here save to say that even the most devout Christians today would find it hard to argue that theocracy is preferable to democracy as a way of running a country.
Either one thinks this separation of state and religious power is a good thing or a bad thing. It really is that easy. Sadly, despite the enormous amount of flak she throws at imaginary interlocutors it's still not clear which side of the fence Our Maddy of the Sorrows prefers.
Penultimate word to Maddy:
After more than 300 posts I've learned a lot, but I've also attracted more contempt than in my whole career as a journalist.
I wonder why.
Right, that's enough Bunting for now. I see Norm's not touched her latest article; probably had to head straight for the bottle...
On Sunday, all the talk was of Seymour Hersh's article in the New Yorker on whether Bush would go to war to prevent Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, with a nice round-up in yesterday's Sunday Times.
Today, it's all change. Well kind of. Jack Straw has talked down the prospects of a tactical nuclear strike against Iran by describing it as "completely nuts":
Jack Straw sought yesterday to silence renewed sabre-rattling from hardliners within the US Administration who are pressing for military action — even the use of tactical nuclear weapons — against Iran.
The Foreign Secretary described the idea that the White House wanted a nuclear strike as “completely nuts”. He insisted that Britain would not support pre-emptive military action, adding: “I’m as certain as I can be sitting here that neither would the United States.”
It all seems like a lot of bluster over a (predictably) poorly sourced Seymour Hersh article. To back up his claims that the White House is considering the nuclear option against Tehran, he has not one named source and has to rely on anonymous leaks instead. Interesting.
The main evidence he puts forward is that William Schneider Jr., chairman of the Defense Science Board served on an "ad-hoc panel on nuclear forces" which:
recommended treating tactical nuclear weapons as an essential part of the U.S. arsenal and noted their suitability “for those occasions when the certain and prompt destruction of high priority targets is essential and beyond the promise of conventional weapons.”
Isn't that quite a sensible thing to recommend? That in certain military situations where conventional weapons don't appear likely to do the trick, there may be no other choice than to use a tactical nuke? I'm not sure anyone other than CND would disagree with that. Hersh continues:
Several signers of the report are now prominent members of the Bush Administration, including Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and Robert Joseph, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
So what? Is he suggesting things would be different under the Democrats? I doubt it.
If his insolence continues, Chavez has promised to give him the boot. How very understanding.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has threatened to expel the US ambassador to the country after accusing him of "provoking" a recent demonstration.
Last week ambassador William Brownfield's convoy was pelted with eggs, onions and tomatoes and chased by supporters of the president.
The US accused officials in the capital Caracas of condoning the attack, but the mayor's office has denied this.
Mr Chavez told Mr Brownfield to "start packing" before he "kicks him out".
"I'm going to throw you out of Venezuela if you continue provoking the Venezuelan people," Mr Chavez said in a nationally televised speech.
President Chavez said Mr Brownfield was partially responsible for the incident because he failed to advise the local authorities or the foreign ministry of his travel plans.
Mr Brownfield was visiting a low-income neighbourhood in Caracas to donate baseball equipment to underprivileged children.
I understand it's wise for parents to be wary of their children accepting gifts from strange men in posh cars but from the footage I've seen, the American Ambassador wasn't wearing a dodgy mac, didn't ask anyone to get into his motor and (as far as I know) hasn't got a musical background in glam rock, so I'm not entirely sure how he "provoked" this reaction.
Whether or not he "advise[d] the local authorities or the foreign ministry of his travel plans" has very little bearing on what happened next.
Once outside the confines of his car and in the business of giving out his baseball bats and gloves to the kids, he was also pelted with eggs and fruit, a phenomenon the L.A. Times sees fit to describe as "heckling."
heck·le (hkl) tr.v.heck·led, heck·ling, heck·les 1. To try to embarrass and annoy (someone speaking or performing in public) by questions, gibes, or objections; badger. 2. To comb (flax or hemp) with a hatchel.
Oh, Ambassador - with these baseball bats you are really spoiling us! Such provocation can only be met by us combing you over with our hatchels...
A few bits of light relief from today's triple suicide bombing at the Buratha mosque in Baghdad which has left 51 dead and 158 injured. Nice. And 216 virgins on the other side hoping their number doesn't come up.
AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE, STANDING UP FOR DEMOCRACY AND A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED FISKING
A couple of good things have appeared on Cif in the past few days. Firstly, David T of Harry's Place makes his Cif debut highlighting the alliances between the far Left and the Islamist right:
The Socialists Workers' party is currently in a semi-formal alliance with the Muslim Association of Britain and with other extreme rightwing Islamist groupings. The Muslim Association of Britain is closely aligned with the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood: a gradualist political movement which seeks to establish a state governed by religious law. The Muslim Association of Britain has published an article by its spokesman - and my fellow blogger - Azzam Tamimi, setting the basis, in religious law, for punishing apostasy. One of its other spokesmen, Osama Saeed, has recently had an article published in the Guardian, supporting the revival of the Caliphate.
I won't consider the nature of this religious-political movement at length in this post, as my primary focus is the nature of the alliance which the Socialist Workers' party has made with Islamist politics. However, we can say this for sure about the Muslim Association of Britain's politics: they are not progressives by any stretch of the imagination.
The Socialist Workers' party, although the largest Trotskyite faction in the United Kingdom, certainly does not represent the whole of "the Left", which as Brian points out is a broad church. It does, however, punch above its weight: in part because of its ability to put itself at the heart of any campaign with which it is involved. It is the driving force behind both the Stop the War Coalition and the Respect Coalition, the two most visible manifestations of leftwing politics of the last few years. In both these organisations, the Socialist Workers' party has formed a close alliance with rightwing and reactionary Islamist politics.
There are three things which worry me about the Socialist Workers' party's approach: and indeed the position of those parts of the left which seek to pursue a similar strategy. The first is that parts of the left have been forced into an absurd and overblown defence of the Islamist politics which they should be criticising, and to which they should be providing an alternative. The second is that the alliance with Islamist politics has resulted in the acceptance of the essentialist religious categories that both racists and Islamists seek to force upon Muslims. As Amartya Sen points out:
To focus just on the grand religious classification is not only to miss other significant concerns and ideas that move people. It also has the effect of generally magnifying the voice of religious authority.
Thirdly, and most importantly, the romance between the left and Islamist politics is bound to come to an end, sooner or later. When it does, how quickly will love turn to hate?
The "unholy alliance" between the SWP and extreme Islamists has been well documented on the pages of Harry's Place and other blogs. Hopefully this article will raise awareness of the issue to those less blog-savvy folk who rely on media outlets such as the Guardian, a paper that frequently sees fit not to mention the hardline Islamist connections of it's commentators.
Of course, there are some who are less keen that these connections be highlighted and I see David T has already been accused of Islamophobia. That didn't take long.
James Harkin argued in a column last Saturday that many of the (unnamed) "western commentators" who had been "curiously dewy-eyed" about Ukraine's orange revolution in 2004 are "lost for words" now that the party of the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich "has triumphed" in the recent parliamentary elections. Well, certainly not me. Why on earth should I, who rejoiced with the people in Kiev's independence square, be lost for words now? The orange revolution was not about giving power to any particular party. It was about using "people power" to give people the chance to choose their own government in a free and fair election. That's what Ukraine has just done. One British election monitor from the European parliament said he thought the voting procedures used by the Ukrainians this time round were superior to those in Britain.
Roughly one in three Ukrainian voters, mainly in the more Russian-oriented east of the country, chose Yanukovich. That's about 10% less than he probably got in the rigged presidential election of 2004 that sparked the orange revolution. The so-called orange vote was split between the now feuding leaders of the orange revolution, Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko, but their combined vote exceeded that for Yanukovich. Voters, except in the pro-western western end of the country, punished Yushchenko for disappointed hopes, economic mess, continued widespread corruption, dealing badly with the Russian gas squeeze at the beginning of the year, and falling out with Yulia. Fair on some counts, less so on others. But the essential point remains: the people could choose in a free and fair election. They can bring an old rogue back, if they want; then they can chuck him out again. It's democracy, stupid.
Quite right. But I can't help feeling that James Harkin was using a straw-man argument as I've yet to meet someone who was passionate about the Orange Revolution but is now tounge-tied.
He then makes a good point about the farcical Belarussian election, an issue that seems to have been allowed to slip by the wayside.
All I propose today is that the Belarussians should be able to answer that question themselves, without fear, in a free and fair election. If they then freely choose to bring an old rogue back, as one in three Ukrainian voters have just done, that's their choice and their perfect right. But if you think that's what has just happened in Belarus - where the BBC reports that more than 150 opposition supporters have been thrown into prison - you really do need your head examined.
It's fair and vital for people on the left to criticise western double standards, the human consequences of neoliberal shock therapy, social inequality and current US foreign policy, but that should not lead anyone into weaselly apologetics for the authoritarian dregs of Soviet socialism. Surely the first concern of anyone on the democratic left today should be for those peaceful protesters now banged up in Lukashenko's jails. Wanting the people to have the chance to choose their own government is not a rightwing thing. It's simply the right thing.
I can't believe that he's having to spell this out. But there we are.
In what looks like a bid to enter the crowded but rewarding grievance sector, Guardian fashion columnist Hannah Pool takes to the pages of today's G2 to discuss something of much greater import than whether "groomed eyebrows are back". We are, it seems, seeing the renewal of an insidious combination of racism and sexism that profoundly affects Ms. Pool's sisters-in-colour, regardless of their eyebrows' state.
"It's open season on black women", the headline warns - indeed, the situation is now so bad that, today, "it is doubly hard to be a black woman". Rosa Parks would undoubtedly sympathise with Ms. Pool's difficulties.
For Ms. Pool, the gravity of the current crisis is illustrated by the "tone" of recent press coverage surrounding four specific individuals who've been victimised by this new racexist climate. They are:
A Big Brother star
An "educational entrepreneur" given a BBC television programme
A fabulously wealthy supermodel
The US Secretary of State
A closer look at these cases reveals the true extent of the bigotry that lies at the heart of the white-dominated media of Britain, whose treatment of each "smacks of ignorance and inequality".
Zimbabwean ex-nurse and current asylum-seeker Makosi Musambasi, indebted to the tune of £55,000, told a sympathetic Sunday tabloid that she's had to resort to prostitution, and of "feeling suicidal since" (Ms. Pool reports, poignantly, that "the story was written by one Alice Walker, which just made it seem even more troubling, to me at least").
For Ms. Pool, the problem lies not with Ms. Musambasi's behaviour, but with the press treatment since this revelation, as "commentators have queued up" to make the racially offensive suggestion that, rather than blaming Big Brother for ruining her life, she should herself accept some of the responsibility for her situation.
The particularly disgusting case that Ms. Pool emphasises is from the Mirror'sSue Carroll, who leads the queue with a 123-word item - one tenth of her March 29 gossip column. Ms. Pool is righteously incensed by 6 of those words, which reflect a clearly racist response to Ms. Musambasi's troubles. Answering the claim of the latter that "[Big Brother] totally ruined my life" Ms. Carroll replies, unforgivably:
No, Makosi, you did that yourself.
Ms. Carroll's heartless response completely ignores the fact that Ms. Musambasi was compelled by evil slavers to participate, and to reap the publicity and financial rewards which followed.
As for the shameful queue of commentators, a search of Google news reveals the extent to which British bigots have lined up to castigate the helpless former nurse. The tawdry efforts of these vultures consist of ... 3 sentences in the influential Hackney Gazette and 5 sentences in the Sun.
Whether the 5 full articles from Zimbabwean outlets count as equally "smacking of ignorance and inequality"; is a question left to the reader.
Worth a read and you'll find a couple of other great articles from the past few weeks on his blog too.
With the US and Iran scheduling talks for this Saturday on the future of Iraq, Turkey and a number of other Arab countries have met in secret (Oh really? Ed.) to discuss how best to reduce Iran's unhealthy influence over a country teetering on the edge of civil war.
CAIRO, Egypt - Top intelligence officers from several Arab countries and Turkey have been meeting secretly to coordinate their governments' strategies in case civil war erupts in Iraq and in an attempt to block Iran's interference in the war-torn nation, Arab diplomats said Tuesday.
The meetings came after several Arab leaders voiced concerns about possible Shiite domination of Iraq and their alliance with Iran.
The four diplomats said intelligence chiefs from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and non-Arab Turkey held a series of meetings over the last few weeks to assess the situation in Iraq and work out plans to avoid any regional backlash that may result from sectarian conflict in Iraq.
The diplomats in several Middle Eastern capitals, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Iran and Syria have been excluded from the talks.
One diplomat whose country is involved in the talks said the officials are focusing on the proposed U.S.-Iranian dialogue on Iraq and the implications on Arabs and Turkey of any "American-Iranian deal."
Interesting that Syria should be barred from the talks. I wonder why that might be?
This may sound like a bad joke but it is coming out of the mouths of some serious folks inside the Iranian leadership.
An Iranian hardliner party which controls both the Islamic parliament and the government, named Abadgaran, has suggested that Iran should conduct a military exercise with Cuba, Venezuela and other anti-America countries in that region of the world to send a message to the United States of America. Aftab News, the mouthpiece of the Abadgaran party (also here) writes about this on its web site in Persian language.
It reads (It's in Persian & I'll translate):
The head of the Abadgaran political party "Hasan Bayadi" (He is the Vice President of the city council of Tehran) has suggested to the Iranian Ministry of defense to conduct war games near the borders of the America to show the strength of the Iranian military.
Every year the US military conducts wargames near countries such as North Korea, Syria or Iran that are not friendly to the USA to show them how mighty the US military is and the Americans have also invaded our air space and interior waters -they say it is not intentional- under the pretext of occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan to send us a message and the message these invasions of our airspace have is that "We can attack you and you are never safe from our military threat and the shadow of fear will always cover your countries"...
Therefore, we, recommend to the new Iranian defense minister to take the initiative and prepare a military exercise with the countries of the western hemisphere such as Cuba and Venezuela.
The article adds:
It is, for sure, a very hard thing to do and the costs of such action is too high but it sends a clear message (it has a positive outcome) to the master of politics around the world.
He also mentions the example done by the prophet of Islam during the battle of Tabouk in which the Muhammad's army was preparing for a battle exercise with the Roman emperor.
He ends his suggestion by adding this war game with our allies in that region, near the US borders, will pave the way for military cooperations with the regional governments and it will also be a stage for Iran's military to show to world, especially the Imperialists, how strong it is and finally it is also a chance and a great advantage for the Iranian armed services to test their capablities with our allied countries overseas.
Nice spot Winston. I've not seen this article translated elsewhere.
A top commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Hossein Kargar, said Monday that the current maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea aim to prepare the troops in case of attack by the U.S. "Regarding the threats by the global arrogance, defensive preparation is a task of the armed forces," Kargar was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as saying.
Iran on Tuesday successfully tested a "super-modern flying boat", state television said, giving another vague description of military hardware Iranian forces are testing in Gulf wargames.
The Defense Ministry was not immediately able to give a clear description of the new vessel but told Reuters it was not a form of hovercraft.
Iran's navy used to have one of the world's largest hovercraft fleets before the 1979 Islamic revolution. Military experts say only about 10 decrepit vessels remain in service.
State television did not show the "flying boat".
"A super-modern flying boat was successfully tested in the 'Great Prophet' wargame in Persian Gulf waters," state television said.
"Because of its hull's advanced design, no radar at sea or in the air can locate it. It can lift out of the water. It is wholly domestically built and can launch missiles with precise targeting while moving," it added.
Something's stirring all right. Nothing to do with the forthcoming Iran-US talks over Iraq, I'm sure.
That said, when you read of a "super-modern flying boat" being tested in the "Great Prophet" wargame, you start thinking the likes of Iowahawk have been up to some mischief...
I received the following email entitled quite categorically "Future Number 1" from my mate in Berlin who blogs at IAmADoughnut:
Sorry for the spam but mates of mine have made this tune, turning a rather pro-England war cliche song into an antifascist anthem. I reckon this could be number 1. Am offline for a few days so little e.mail contact. Enjoy the song and send me your thoughts. Am back on Monday for record contract negotiations if you have any.
It was all too predictable that when this paper came under heavy criticism, the supporters of this type of conspiracy theorising would try to present Mearsheimer and Walt as courageous victims of the same "lobby", now allegedly acting to close down academic freedom with a malicious cry of "anti-semitism".
Saturday's leader (subscription needed) in the Financial Times makes exactly this case. I want to nail one particular element of the FT argument, although this does not mean that I accept the rest. I will focus here on a claim that is made again and again: people are morally blackmailed into silence, claims the FT, by "the fear that any criticism of Israeli policy and US support for it will lead to charges of anti-semitism".
Only a person that has never thought seriously about the relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism could possibly be silenced by this fear.
Think about it. Have you ever heard anybody claim that "any criticism of Israeli policy..." is anti-semitic? Sure, you've often heard it said that "the Zionists" make this claim, but have you ever heard a "Zionist" actually do it?
Now think about it again. It would be transparently ridiculous for anybody to claim that criticism of Israeli policy is anti-semitic. Wouldn't it?
This FT editorial appeared on April Fools Day. The best April Fools jokes are the ones that seem plausible - but when you discover that you've been had, you realise that you ought to have been able to work out for yourself that this was a hoax. You didn't need to know that it was a hoax because if you had been thinking clearly, you'd have guessed. This one, however, is no joke. The claim, that critics of Israeli policy are silenced by the malicious cry of "anti-semitism" appears routinely. It is propagated by people who have thought about it carefully. It is propagated by people who say they want a license to criticise Israeli policy for various reasons: either because they want to demonise, to sew hatred, to push "Zionist" conspiracy theories, or to single out Israel for a unique pariah status.
Has anyone watched the comedy 'Little Britain'? One of the characters is a gay man called Daffyd living in a Welsh village. Now Daffyd is very concerned about homophobia and sees it everywhere. However, the inhabitants of the village are actually very tolerant (to the extent that old women buy dildoes for their gay grandchildren in village fetes). Still, Daffyd inists on seeing homophobia where it doesn't exist and most jokes and comic scenes are based on this.
This is the same thing with those who see anti-Semitism everywhere. Like Daffyd in the show, they use more and more contorted arguments to 'prove' it exists where it doesn't, and make the rest of us laugh out loud.
It's worth reading some of the arguments that unfold in the comments - people do seem to have a difficulty accepting that certain views are inherently antisemitic and should be called such. Likewise, those that call others on those views have not been shown to describe all criticism of Israel as antisemitic. Indeed, the person to whom the comment above was probably directed went as far as to say:
Still, Israel did not help matters by starting settlements on the West Bank and especially Gaza. The sooner it evacuates the settlements the better it will be for all concerned.
which strikes me as a form of criticism of Israel in itself.
The issue here is not that Israel is innocent of all accusations thrown against her. It's the fact that she is frequently singled out and receives more attention from certain critics than other countries in which far greater crimes have been or are still being committed.
The popularity (or infamy, depending on your outlook) of David Hirsh's column on Comment is Free compared to other contributors' is partly down to his knack of knowing how to kick off a debate, but also due to the fascination that many have with Israel above all other nations.
There's nothing wrong with being interested in a country halfway round the world. It's when that interest turns to criticism singling out that particular country, whilst turning a blind eye to similar offences occurring elsewhere, that we have a problem.
Not that some can see that. From the comments to Hirsh's original piece:
I boycott Israeli products for the same reason I boycotted South-African products during the Apartheid regime and if I had lived in the 1930's I would have boycotted German products too.
If you talk about "SINGLING OUT Israel for special treatment"... it is precisely what all western goverments are doing. Despite Israel consequently ignoring UN resolutions they keep receiving billions of dollars in aid. Compare the international pressure on Iran for wanting to develop nuclear technology and the so called reason for invading Iraq, whereas no one cares a hoot that Israel has nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Talk about special treatment!
All after Belsizepark (I'm sure I recognise that commenter's style from somewhere...) had just made my point so well:
Oh how dull a lot of this gets. People should realise that there is a difference between criticising Israel and SINGLING OUT Israel for special treatment.
If someone is arguing for boycotts of hundreds of countries that they thnk are oppressive to minorities so be it. However those arguing for a boycott of Israel are not arguing for a boycott of other countries.
What needs to be determined is why is the only country they are singling out for sepecial traeatment the Jewish State?
If we look at all the Muslim states in the world.. The treatment of minorities is far worse. Even under the new Afghanistan regime there has been a story in the press this week of a Christian carrying a bible and for that horrendous sin the punishment seems to be death.
Hang on a second..There are lots of Muslims living in Israel and they all get a vote. There are Arab political parties and the list goes on.
There is a Hamas charter that states the following -
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. "
There is an Iranian President who denies the Holocaust occurred and argued that Israel should be wiped off the map and at the same time wants nuclear weapons.
With all of this going onin the world, why is it that the only country that some in the Church of England have tried to boycott is the State of Israel?
"Well you would say that, you accuse anyone who criticises Israel of antisemitism" is cowardly and untrue.
Hats off to David Hirsh for exposing this straw man.
It was brought to my attention that a joke remark I left in a comments thread of the now defunct Harry's Place Watch might have been taken at face value. It just goes to show how rabid certain sections of the Left have become when the following can pass as genuine comment:
Vinnie, oh Vinnie!
For someone watching Harry's Place you slipped up by missing the revelation that yes, there ARE "powerful forces at work there" - just check out this shot of the guys that run the place - I had to crawl on my belly for 3 hours to get close enough to their Islington HQ to grab this shot. No mean feat, I assure you.
I'm begging you man, just lay off, you'll only end up with a forked tongue and Lord only knows what else if you keep hassling them.
They're serious business!!!
And no, you're not paranoid. Just another intrepid sleuth like myself about to blow the big banana on these fascistoleftist frauds and their anti-Gallowaynian hegemony...
Now, like you said, let's get to ridiculing them!
PS We have The Independent and The Guardian on our side - we cannot lose!
I can't really argue with Shuggy's analysis:
Suffice to say anyone capable of penning the phrase "anti-Gallowaynian hegemony" has quite clearly and irrevocably done gone and lost their damn minds. You disagree? That's because you're insane.
I knew I should have left the "< sarcasm >" tags in...
On the subject of people taking things far too literally, Charles at LGF stung several of his regular commenters (including the mighty Zombie) with this letter, purporting to be from the CEO of Borders. A work of genius, especially this line:
Is it really the case that your guys expect me, after months of watching this global governmental cowardice in the face of Islamic intimidation go down, to pin a big "Kick Me" sign on the backs of every one of my employees? Dudes, I worked in the grocery business for most of my career and if I am the last line of defense here, log off and head for the mountain redoubt with a box lunch because the terrorists have won.
Full credit to Harry's Place and Pickled Politics too, for redesigning their sites for April 1st as spoof versions of The Grauniad and Hizb ut Tahrir's portal respectively. Nice work!
How could I forget MediaMediaWatch who were responsible for this classic?
Ridley Scott to make Mohammad biopic.
According to the IMDB, veteran British film-maker Ridley Scott has announced that his next project is to be an epic biography of the prophet Mohammad.
The director of Heaven and Earth, Gladiator and Bladerunner is apparently unconcerned about the controversial nature of his project.
The taboo on depictions of the prophet Mohammed was originally about discouraging idolatry. There is no chance of anyone accusing this film of being idolatrous.
Scott, who co-wrote the screenplay (working title: Mohammad!) says it will be a “warts-and-all” portrait of the prophet which sticks closely to historical Islamic source texts.
There is a lot of disinformation and misunderstanding about Mohammad and Islam in the world today, and I believe this film will act as a corrective. Yes, there will be objections from some quarters, but I am convinced that the time is right for a movie on this subject.
When asked about some of the more problematic events in the life of Mohammad, such as his alleged marriage to the 9-year-old Aisha, Scott was remarkably frank.
There were some questions raised about whether or not to depict this particular episode, but we decided to tackle the issue head on. It’s there in the source texts, and as serious film-makers we felt obliged to record it without attempting to gloss it over in any way. In fact, Aisha is the one part that we have already cast. Sharon Stone is very excited about it.
Iqbal Sacranie of the MCB was reportedly furious when he first heard about the project. However, when he was offered the role of head consultant on Islamic matters, he had a change of heart:
I am proud to be part of this important project which will increase understanding of Islam and build bridges between faith communities.
A spokesman for the recently-formed MAC (Muslims Against Comedy) was less enthusiastic, branding the film “the height of bad manners” and muttering darkly about “consequences”.