Friday, July 28, 2006

Don't be rude about Belarus, Boris!

In yesterday's Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson claims that when it comes to 'governments changing their laws to suit the need of foreign billionaires', Britain is no better than 'Belize or Belarus'.
Well I don't claim to be an expert on Belize, but I do not something about Belarus- and if Mr Johnson can provide one example of a law changed there 'to suit the need of foreign billionaires' , then I'd quite happily send the MP for Henley a packet of his favourite Javanese cigars.
Belarus has been demonised in the West precisely because it does not change its laws 'to suit the need of foreign billionaires'. Instead, President Lukashenko- horror of horrors- puts the needs of the Belarus people first- which is why he recorded such an overwhelming election success in March.

Israel attacks the U.S.

You've just got to read this!
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article14224.htm

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Correlli Barnett on Israel's terrorist past

In response to a request from reader Julia, who has left a comment in the section on a recent post, here is an online version of the article historian Correlli Barnett wrote for the Daily Mail (as reprinted in the Melbourne Sun) at the weekend on Israel's terrorist past. Worth remembering the next time you read a neo-con claiming, as Douglas Murray did in a recent book, that Israel 'is as much at the front line of the war on terror now as it has always been'.

Shock and awe a savage reply (title in Melbourne's Herald Sun)
By Correlli Barnett.
(Originally published in London's The Daily Mail.)

Several of my good friends are American, but this does not inhibit me from criticising George W. Bush's catastrophically misguided invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Similarly, I have good friends who are Jewish, but this will not inhibit me from criticising the current "total war" being waged on Lebanon by the Israeli state.
The fact that some of my Jewish friends will read this article only makes me the more sad that I have to say, as a military historian, that this war is grotesquely out of proportion to the level of casualties and damage previously inflicted on Israel by Hezbollah.
It is likewise grotesquely out of proportion to the taking hostage of two Israeli soldiers. As are the ferocious Israeli attacks inside the Gaza Strip in response to the taking hostage of just one soldier. Certainly, Israel has the right to defend herself today, as she has done successfully in the past.
But surely her response to Hamas and Hezbollah should have been limited and precisely targeted rather than a version of the "shock-and-awe" bombing that opened the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Israeli Government should have learned that "shock and awe" may only be a prelude to a protracted guerrilla war.
During the long and bitter struggle against the IRA in Northern Ireland, it never occurred to any British government that IRA bases and arms dumps within the Irish Republic should be bombed by the Royal Air Force.
Let alone that whole districts of Irish cities known to harbour IRA terrorists should be destroyed.
Equally, it has never occurred to a Spanish government that it would be right and proper to respond to the lethal, indiscriminate attacks by ETA (the Basque terrorist organization) by savagely bombing and rocketing San Sebastian and other Basque cities.
Why should Israel regard herself as a privileged exception?
Why should "the West" in general, and Bush and Blair, in particular regard her as entitled to conduct a total war in response to Hezbollah attacks no worse than those of the IRA and ETA?
These questions are the more pertinent because Israel was born out of a terrorist struggle in 1945-48 against Britain, which then ruled Palestine under a United Nations mandate.
The so-called Stern Gang (after its founder, Abraham Stern) specialised in assassination; its most famous victim being Lord Moyne, the Colonial Secretary, shot in Cairo in 1944.
But by far the most dangerous Jewish terrorist group was the Irgun Zvei Leumi (National Military Organisation) led by Menachem Begin who, after the creation of the state of Israel, founded the Likud political party, and even finished up as prime minister.
The group's propaganda stated its political aims with brutal clarity.
First, what it called "the Nazo-British occupation forces" must be driven out of Palestine. Then a Jewish state would be established embracing Palestine and Transjordan (as Jordan was then known). Too bad about the native population of Arabs, of course.
The group's logo, displayed on the fly-posters which I saw as a soldier in Palestine in 1946-47, showed a crude map of Palestine and Transjordan with an arm holding a rifle splayed across it.
The Irgun's successful attacks included the demolition in August 1946 of the wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem housing the secretariat of the British mandatory government and the HQ of British troops in Palestine: at a cost of 91 lives; Jewish, Arab and British, most of them civilians.
Another "success" was the blowing up of the Officer's Club in Jerusalem in March 1947.
In combat with a terrorist group perhaps 3000 strong, a maximum of 100,000 British troops were deployed in a country the size of Wales.
There was a lesson here for George W. Bush and Tony Blair before their invasion of Iraq, but of course a lesson unheeded by men with no interest in history.
In July 1947, the Irgun Zvei Leumi kidnapped two British Intelligence Corps sergeants as hostages to trade against the lives of three Irgun terrorists under sentence of death for an attack on Acre jail.
Here is an exact parallel to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.
But, unlike the savage reaction of Ehud Olmert's Government today, the British government in 1947 did not seek to apply pressure to the kidnappers by ordering the RAF to destroy large parts of Tel Aviv.
In the event, the three Jewish terrorists were hanged and the Irgun in turn strung up the two British sergeants from a tree in an orange grove and booby-trapped their bodies.
All attempts to negotiate a future for Palestine, which balanced Jewish interests against those of the majority Arab population, came to nothing. A project for a single state with Jewish and Arab cantons was rejected by the Arabs.
An Arab proposal for a single state based on the existing Arab majority and a limit on future Jewish immigration was rejected by Jewish leaders. A two-state solution proposed by a UN commission and favoured by Washington was in turn rejected by the Labour Government, which rightly feared that it would be British troops who would have to impose the settlement on one side or the other, or perhaps on both.
So Britain handed the mandate back to the UN and announced that British rule in Palestine would end in May, 1948.
By the time the last British force had left, this violence had degenerated into anarchic civil war between Jew and Arab. It was just the prelude to the full-scale war between the new state of Israel and neighbouring Arab regimes wanting to extinguish it.
The war ended in the successful conquest by Israel of the larger part of Palestine, and a tidal wave of Arab refugees into Lebanon and Jordan.
Here is the origin of today's bitter Arab resentment of Israeli hegemony, a resentment that powers both Hamas and Hezbollah as they follow the path of terrorism first mapped out by the Stern Gang and the Irgun Zvei Leumi in the 1940s.

Why Malta was right

Here's my piece from today's First Post on why Malta was right to deny landing rights to a vessel containing 51 illegal immigrants. If only Britain showed the same determination to properly police its borders.
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=638

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israelis against the war

Here is a letter, published in today's Guardian, from a group of Israeli citizens resident in the UK, who oppose their government's aggression in Lebanon. Bravo to them for standing up against an action which apart from being immoral and illegal-is also deeply damaging to Israel's long term interests and security.

We, Israeli citizens resident in the UK, write to make public our dissent from the acts of aggression committed by the Israeli army in Lebanon and Gaza. The Israeli government claims this is necessary aggression in the interests of Israeli national security. We say: "Not in our name."
We do not share the sense of victimisation so immediately assumed by many Israelis. In casting themselves as the sole victims, they obscure the suffering of others, as well as their own role in inflicting that suffering. The destruction of a neighbouring country and the devastation of its civil society cannot contribute to the growth of a partner for peace. Likewise, the long-lasting occupation of millions of Palestinians cannot inspire good will among Israel's Arab neighbours.
The persistent policy of abducting of Lebanese and Palestinian citizens and their detention in Israel without trial cannot further the process of constructive political dialogue. The ongoing Israeli boycott of the democratically elected government of the Palestinian authority has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. This is now aggravated by the Israeli bombardments of densely populated civilian areas, meant to bring them into submission and to assert the Israeli control of Gaza, despite Israel's withdrawal.
Israel's unilateral politics cannot generate just solutions to constant Israeli aggression in Lebanon and to 40 years of occupation over the Palestinian people. We call upon the Israeli government to immediately withdraw all forces from Lebanon and to stop its attacks on Lebanese and Palestinian civilian populations. We call upon the British government and on the international community to actively intervene to end the Israeli aggression in Lebanon.
Ilana Bakal, Daphna Baram, Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, Ron Cohen, Talya Ezrahi, Naama Farjoun, Yael Friedman, Gali Gold, Anat Pick, Meir Shabat, Ehud Sivush, Tirza Waisel

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tension breeds political success

Here's my comment piece from today's The Australian on why the recent hostility between Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello may not be as harmful to the government as some have claimed.
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19884958-7583,00.html

Where were you in March, Stephen?

In today's Times, Stephen Pollard attacks the BBC for what he believes was its unbalanced coverage of the Israel-Lebanon conflict on yesterday's Andrew Marr programme.
"Of the four guests invited, not one had anything but bile to pour over Israel. It is entirely proper for the BBC to give a platform to such views. But it is entirely improper that that not one second should be allowed on what the BBC's website calls its "flagship programme" for the views of anyone who thinks there might be some justification for the Israeli action", opines today's Thunderer.
I never watched the programme in question, so don't really want to pass comment on it, but what I did watch-(and listen to) extensively, was the BBC's coverage of the death of Slobodan Milosevic on the weekend of 11th-12th March. Throughout the whole weekend, there was not a single person invited on to a BBC programme who deviated from the official "Slobo was an ethnic cleansing war criminal who started six wars and whose death robbed Kosovan Albanians of justice" line. Neither I, nor John Laughland, Mark Almond, Ian Johnson or any other critic of the Hague show trial was invited on to the BBC to put an alternative view of the career of a man the BBC had already decided was guilty as charged. It was an absolute disgrace, but the funny thing is- I don't recall Stephen Pollard, writing about the lack of BBC balance then. Come on Stephen, do you want proper balance on the BBC or don't you? Or do you only call for both sides to be given the microphone when its Israel's actions that are under discussion?
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2282705,00.html

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Airport security- common sense, not pc is needed

According to the website Islamaphoiba.watch.com, Muslims in Scotland are threatening to boycott Glasgow airport over 'intrusive' security action taken against them. While I think all decent people will condemn rudeness and belligerent behaviour by security forces if/when they occur- we must get one thing straight.
If there are going to be further terrorist attacks in Britain, the most likely perpetrators will be young Muslims.
It therefore makes sense for police and airport security to check young Muslims more closely than say, members of the Icelandic women's ice hockey team. Especially those young Muslims arriving or going to places like Pakistan where al-Qa'eda cells and training camps are in operation. This isn't being racist or Islamophobic-it's just using common sense in order to protect British citizens of all faiths and creeds.
http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/

Friday, July 21, 2006

Emergency Demonstrations

Here's details of tomorrow's emergency demonstrations in the UK against the barbaric Israeli aggression against Lebanon. Please try and go along to one if you can. Of course, you may think that dropping 100lbs bombs on blocks of flats, killing little children at play, destroying water and electric supplies and forcing half a million people to flee their homes is a good, moral thing to do. In which case, you can attend the pro-Israel rally at Kenton a day later.
http://www.stopwar.org.uk/new/events/index.htm

Ten eyes for one eye

There are two superb articles on the Israeli aggression aganst Lebanon in today's British papers.
I enclose a link to Mary Ann Seighart's piece in The Times
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2279230,00.html
while in The Daily Mail, the historian Corelli Barnett contributes a timely piece on how the state of Israel was itself forged through terrorism, assassination and kidnapping enemy soldiers (the British). As Barnett points out, even after the Irgun terrorist group strung up two British sergeants from a tree in an orange grove and booby-trapped their bodies- it did not occur to the British authorities to impose the kind of savage collective punishment that Olmert's government is now visiting on the Arabs of Gaza and Lebanon.

And Stateside, there's a great piece by Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com. http://antiwar.com/justin/
Here's his view of what Israel's strategy is:

Step 1 – Seize a pretext, any pretext, to invade Lebanon.
Step 2 – Simultaneously denounce Syrian influence and a hidden "spy network" supposedly still remaining in Lebanon – this in spite of the recent bust-up of a Mossad cell by Lebanese intelligence, which had been responsible for several assassinations.
Step 3 – Restart the Lebanese civil war – and drag Syria into it.
Step 4 – Engage the enemy on two fronts:
A. Diplomatically, in the United Nations, by imposing sanctions on Iran and demanding inspections of its nuclear facilities. This long drawn-out ritual is meant largely for American and European consumption – to convince world opinion that every possible avenue for a peaceful settlement has been explored, before the second front is opened up.
B. Militarily, in Lebanon, and beyond. Bashar al-Assad is a pincer movement away from being deposed. A right hook from U.S.-occupied Iraq and a left from the Israelis would knock out the last remaining Ba'athists and open up a veritable Pandora's box of ethnic and religious conflicts long masked by the dictatorship of the Assads.
Step 5 – On to Tehran!
The hijacking of American foreign policy by a small but influential cadre of neoconservatives is no secret, nor is it a deep mystery that they have the president's ear. Whether the sound of their whispered advice will drown out the plaintive cries of ordinary Americans, who are hardly in the mood for yet another "cakewalk," is not yet known. In the case of George W. Bush, however, it is always best to count on him living up to one's worst expectations.

Finally, here are the views of the anti-war Republican politician Patrick Buchanan, who quite rightly points out that this is not America's war.
http://www.antiwar.com/pat/?articleid=9375

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Non-Intervention Interventionists

I've been trawling the websites of the 'muscular' liberal interventionists and it seems none of them are calling for US/British intervention to stop Israel's annihilation of Lebanon- a military attack which has left over 400 people killed and 500,000 displaced.
How can this be so? Is 'non-interference' now the official line of the enthusiastic interventionists?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Right to Self Defence- but not for Yugoslavia

Spot the Difference:

Country A has its citizens kidnapped and killed by an Islamic terrorist group supported and funded by Country B.

Country A reacts by taking action to free the hostages and defeat the terrorists which Country B then denounces as 'disproportionate' and uses its influence to gain international support for 78 days of air strikes on Country A.

Country C has its citizens kidnapped and killed by an Islamic terrorist group supported and funded by Countries D and E. But this time, County B supports the measures Country C takes in response- even though, unlike in the first example, they involve attacking another sovereign state.


The very same government officials from Country B who condemned Country A's anti-terrorist action appear on television supporting Country C's 'right to self-defence'.

The double standards Country B (the USA) showed towards Yugoslavia (Country A) in 1998/9 and its battle with the KLA and Israel (Country C) today- could not be more glaring.

Especially when one remembers that the 1998/9 hostilities began with the KLA kidnapping Yugoslav postmen and reporters. No one on Sky News thought fit to ask James Rubin, the ubiquitous former Press Officer to Madeline Albright- the man who drooled over the thuggish KLA leader Hashim Thaqi at the Rambouillet stitch-up, why Yugoslavia had no right to carry out any anti-terrorist action on its own soil- but Israel has the right to carry out its anti-terrorist action on another's soil.

As estimated four hundred Lebanese civilians have died in the Israeli offensive- including 11 children playing near a pool today. And half a million Lebanese have become refugees in their own country. The death and destruction reined on Lebanon makes the measured and carefully targeted action Yugoslav forces took against Kosovan Albanian terrorists in 1998/9 pale into insignifance.
But don't hold your breath for Mr Olmert to be indicted for war crimes or be sent on an RAF plane to stand a trial at The Hague.

Knights in Shining Armour

Those of you who haven't booked your summer holidays yet could do a lot worse than than consider Malta. My wife and I are just back from a lovely week there (hence the lack of posts ) - and once again this wonderful island did not disappoint. Here's a piece on the charms of the Mediterranean island which I wrote for The Spectator last year, reproduced on the maltavista website.
http://www.maltavista.net/en/library/art/293.html

Monday, July 10, 2006

This Is News: Stephen Pollard is Right!

I never thought I would write this sentence in my life- but here goes.
Stephen Pollard has written a brilliant piece in today's Times.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3284-2262960,00.html
No, I'm not drunk or under the influence of illegal substances, he really has.
Apart from the line about the U.S. having an 'unparalleled record for defending freedom around the globe' (don't tell that to an El Salvadorian, Iranian or Chilean, Stephen)- he has written a great piece on the fuss surrounding the extradition of 'The Nat West Three' to stand trial in America. As Pollard points out, the post-Enron US is now far tougher on white-collar crime than we are in Britain. Instead of sneering at the U.S. for whatever it does, we ought to acknowledge that Uncle Sam does get some things right.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ellery Queen is back!

I'd love to think it was because of a piece I wrote for the Media Guardian back in May. But whatever the reason, the BBC is tomorrow (Sunday 9th July) doing something it hasn't done since 1978: screening an episode of the NBC detective series Ellery Queen, starring Jim Hutton.
Put simply, Ellery Queen was the greatest detective series ever made. Tomorrow's episode 'The Adventure of Auld Lang Syne" is the very first in the series and will be shown at 11.20 am on BBC2. Don't miss it whatever you do!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Seeds of the July 7 bombings

Here's my piece on the historical background to the terrorist atrocities of a year ago, from today's Morning Star.
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index2.php/ex/examples/features

Direct responsibility for last year’s terrorist attacks in London lies with those who detonated the bombs.
But the seeds of July 7th were planted over half a century ago -by the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S.Truman.

‘I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own ways’, declared President Truman in March 1947, when announcing his famous doctrine of intervention.

When one translates ‘armed minorities’ and ‘outside pressures’ for ‘communists’ one has a clear statement of the guiding aims which have governed U.S foreign policy for the last 59 years.
Since Truman promulgated his doctrine, US policy has to been to fight communist and leftist regimes wherever they have occurred. Communism had to be fought not because evidence existed that it posed a threat to world peace, but simply because it was bad for business. ‘The business of America is business’ remarked Calvin Coolidge- a predecessor of Truman’s -and as communist countries were bad for business, they must necessarily be bad for the U.S.

Since the Truman Doctrine was first put into operation in 1947, the U.S. has supported ‘free people resisting subjugation’ in every corner of the globe- from the Balkans to the Far East- bombing over 20 different countries in the process.

Using the logic of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’, the U.S. has spent over half a century financing, arming and training a disparate collection of ’freedom fighters’ and ‘supporters of freedom’, ranging from Osama bin Laden, to the Generals Suharto and Pinochet who, whatever their differences, all had one thing in common. All were fighting communism and all were therefore worthy of U.S. support.

Never mind that communists had often come to power peacefully through the ballot box, as in Chile or Nicaragua. Never mind too that Afghanistan, under the regimes of Babrak Karmal and Najibullah made more social progress in ten years than it had in the previous five hundred: these regimes were both communist and had to go-with all available resources being made available to those ‘liberators’, like bin Laden who fought against them. Richard Murphy, former Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East may now admit ‘we did spawn a monster in Afghanistan’ , but those who said so at the time were dismissed as ‘Reds’ or apologists for the ‘Evil Empire’.

In one sense of course, the Truman Doctrine paid off. Sixteen years ago, the Berlin Wall came down and the ‘Evil Empire’ of the Soviet Union disintegrated. Time to pop the champagne corks and drop the anti-commie crusade? Not a bit of it.

Despite the increasing violence of a resurgent Islamic fundamentalism which they had helped foster, U.S. policy makers still persisted in making the global search for ‘Reds’ as their number one priority. How are we to explain such a decision? The answer can be given in one word. Greed.

By 1990 we were living in the age of ‘turbo-capitalism’, where giant multi-nationals, joined by the burgeoning financial services sector, were going into overdrive in their frantic scramble to increase shareholder value. Whatever the risk, whatever the dangers, new markets had to be found. With most of the ‘free world’ already privatised, the search intensified to find those remaining ‘unreformed’ markets that could still be colonised for international capital.

In Europe, that meant targeting the rump Yugoslavia, a country where 70% of the economy was in social ownership and where the main football teams were still named ’Red Star’ and ‘Partisan’. It mattered little to the U.S. that in attempting to destabilise Slobodan Milosevic’s left-wing administration in Belgrade, they were joining forces with a terrorist group with associations with al-Qaida. The gun-runners and heroin traffickers of the Kosovan Liberation Army were fighting ‘Reds’ (now conveniently labelled as 'Fascists’) and following the logic of the Truman Doctrine had to be supported.

Four years after the illegal attack on Yugoslavia, came the equally unlawful invasion of Iraq. Once again, the U.S. and its British ally had chosen deliberately to attack a country, which if not communist, at least operated a large state-owned sector and which was not open to foreign capital. And once again, as in Yugoslavia- their war policy has only strengthened- and not weakened the cause of those believed responsible for inspiring the carnage we saw exactly one year ago this week in London.

If we are to see an end to this depressing cycle of bloodshed, the US and Britain must move out of their 1940s mindset and consign Harry Truman’s ill-conceived doctrine to the dustbin of history once and for all. That means lifting the sanctions on Cuba and Belarus and ending the attempts to topple Hugo Chavez and other sovereign governments in Latin America. Just as importantly it means reining in the forces of ‘turbo-capitalism’, whose reckless drive for maximising profits has bought much danger upon the citizens of the world.

The business of America may well be business, but the price- as we have seen in New York, Bali, Baghdad, Casablanca, Madrid and London- is far too high to pay.

Germany are the World Cup winners

Well, how has it been for you?
I had the feeling that as soon I wrote the lines: 'The World Cup has been sensational" after the fantastic Croatia v Australia group match, the tournament might bomb in the knockout stages and so it proved.
The only classic match I've seen in the second half of the tournament has been Tuesday's wonderful semi-final between Germany and Italy: the rest of the knockout games have ranged from good (Argentina v Mexico),reasonable (Italy v Ukraine) to absolutely dire (Switzerland v Ukraine, England v Ecuador, France v Portugal). But whoever gets their hands on the Jules Rimet Trophy on Sunday, the team which has 'won' this World Cup for me is Germany.
From the word go, Jurgen Klinsmann's team showed a refreshing commitment to attack- in a competiton when dull Portugalesque 4-5-1 formations have become far too common. Klinsmann's attitude has been a breath of fresh air at a time when far too many coaches (a certain bespectacled Swede springs readily to mind) have been terrified to take chances. Let's hope Klinsmann continues as Germany's coach and that more and more teams start to copy his country's exhilirating style of play. If they do, then the next World Cup really will be sensational- from start to finish.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day

Over two-hundred years on from their last great battle for independence, the American people are faced with another great struggle: how to liberate themselves from the gang of war-mongers and profiteers who currently govern them. All lovers of peace and goodwill between nations wish them well in that endeavour.

If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

I wonder if England's £5m a year manager- or any of his very well-paid backroom staff thought of this? Somehow I doubt it.
http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2002390000-2006300411,00.html

Sunday, July 02, 2006

England would have got to the semis....

1. If we'd sacked Sven Goran-Eriksson before the start of the tournament and appointed a more attack-minded manager.
2. If we'd taken more strikers.
3. If we'd taken some fit strikers- instead of two unfit ones and Theo Walcott.
4. If we'd dropped Frank Lampard and David Beckham.
5. If we'd played 4-3-3 with Aaron Lennon in the starting line-up.
6. If Steven Gerrard knew how to keep possession.
7 If we'd more players who were half- German like Owen Hargreaves. (then we would have scored all five penalties!).......

What do you think?