Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Blinded by the Cold War

Here's my piece from today's Guardian on how the propaganda which marked the Cold War is still very much with us.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1860261,00.html
UPDATE Many thanks for all the emails I have been sent regarding the piece. I've been overwhelmed by the positive reaction from readers.
Meanwhile, the British tabloid press' vendetta against Bulgaria continues. If you didn't think it could get any worse, just have a look at what the News of the World has been up to.
http://standartnews.com/en/article.php?d=2006-08-31&article=445

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The return of Ellery Queen

I'd love to think it was because of a piece I wrote for Media Guardian back in May, but whatever the reason, the BBC has decided to re-run the superb 1975 NBC series 'Ellery Queen' on Sunday mornings on BBC2.
Ellery Queen is simply the best tv mystery series of all time, which you'll be able to see for yourself if you tune in tomorrow at 11.10 a.m.

PS A quick quiz for any film buffs out there. What is the link between the Ellery Queen tv series and the 1963 film 'The Great Escape'.?

The friends of the pro-war left

Many thanks to Ian Johnson for sending this one in.

When the Yugoslav forces were trying to hold the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia together during the 1990s they faced Izetbegovic's Islamic fundamentalists in Bosnia, the gangsters and heroin smugglers of the KLA in Kosovo and the resurgent fascists in Croatia, all three backed by the Western powers and cheer-led by sections of the 'pro-war' Left here in Britain. Below is an insight into who they cheered for.



http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20157307-23215,00.html
THE AUSTRALIAN Croatia fans mar win
From correspondents in Livorno, ItalyAugust 17, 2006
*********************************************
The Australian
Letter to the editor(s)
17 August 2006
There is more to the story of 17 August titled, "Croatia fans mar win " stating, Croatia's victory was overshadowed by unsavory scenes at the beginning of the match, when its fans formed a human swastika in the stand."
Consider the following:
In 1997, NEWSWEEK reported Croatians greeting NATO German "peacekeepers," with the infamous Sieg Heil without any condemnation from the media nor from politicians, yet when Serbian troops held up the three fingers representing the Holy Trinity, they were accused by the media of having given the fascist salute.
Â
This is the same Croatia about which columnist A. M. Rosenthal, in the New York Times of April 15, wrote: "In World War II, Hitler had no executioners more willing, no ally more passionate, than the fascists of Croatia. They are returning, 50 years later, from what should have been their eternal grave, the defeat of Nazi Germany. The Western Allies who dug that grave with the bodies of their servicemen have the power to stop them, but do not." This is the same Croatia about which The Washington Times reported ("Pro-Nazi extremism lingers in Croatia, June 15, 1997): "A German tank rolls through a small village, and the peasants rush out, lining the road with their right arms raised in a Nazi salute as they chant "Heil Hitler." Mobs chase minorities from their homes, kicking them and pelting them with eggs as they flee into the woods. Europe in the 1940s? No. Croatia in the 1990s."
In the '90s, over 650,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Croatia, 250,000 alone from their ancestral land in the Krajina by Croatian forces during Operation Storm. During Serbian exodus, Croatian jets strafed fleeing refugees, again without any condemnation from an unsympathetic world.
Hatred of the Serbian people became obvious when The Guardian (UK) on 1 September 1995, and The Washington Times on 5 September gave similar reports that Croatian soldiers were given shots of heroine or cocaine in order to "To attack villages, to cut throats and to kill in cold blood," in order to carry out their gruesome task.
In World War II, over a million Serbs, Jews and Gypsies were exterminated so brutally in Croatia's death camps that even the German Gestapo was appalled.
Today, Croatia has its pure Croatian state that Hitler could only promise.
Stella L. Jatras
USA
(The article was also reported by other news sources. This is just another one of them below. Stella)

Region
Croatian football fans form swastika using their bodies
Zagreb, 17.08.2006 12:11
A 200 strong group of Croatian fans formed a swastika symbol by using their bodies at the friendly soccer match between Italy and Croatia that took place in Livorno on Wednesday, Croatia media reported.The provocation of the Croatian fans was interrupted after a while by intervention of the Italian police officers.Livorno has a reputation of a leftist-oriented city. The fans of the local football team are accustomed to displaying pictures of Che Guevara, Tito, Mae Zedong, as well as flags of the former SFRY while attending matches.A flag of Tito's Yugoslavia was displayed at a stadium's stand at yesterday's game, which prompted Croatians to form a swastika, aimed at provoking the Italian supporters.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

More Good News from America

Hot on the heels of the de-selection of the pro-war Senator Joe Lierberman in Connecticut, comes news of another encouraging development in the USA. Jack Carter, son of the most pacific US President since the war, has won the Democratic primary in Nevada, polling a massive 76% against his pro-war rival's 9%.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/08/17/wcarter17.xml
The move by anti-war Democrats to reclaim their party from the clutches of Bush-loving, KLA terrorist supporting extremists like Lieberman is clearly gathering apace.
On this side of the pond, it's time the decent factions of the Labour Party followed suit. Any Labour MP associated with pro-war groups such as The Henry Jackson Society or the Euston Manifesto should be targeted for deselection. If the likes of Gisela Stuart and Dennis McShane want to stand as independents on a pro-war platform, that's up to them.
But they should not be allowed to do so under a 'Labour Party' banner.

Loony 'Liberals'

'Pathetic' really is too mild a term to describe Newcastle City Council. Don't you agree?
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2316396,00.html

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What the Papers Say (or don't)

It’s a pretty impressive feat to write an 800 or so word article without actually saying anything, but Bruce Anderson has managed it in today’s Daily Telegraph.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/08/16/do1601.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2006/08/16/ixopinion
Still, I suppose we should be happy that Anderson hasn’t expressed an opinion, because when he does it’s normally an obnoxious, bloodthirsty one- like his enthusiasm for bombing whoever the USAF has in its sights at the time or his hopes for death (equine and human) in the Grand National:
“it is important that a horse should be killed most years and a jockey every ten years or so. The rest of us should not deplore the loss. We should salute the bravery“.

Meanwhile in the Times, our old friend Stephen Pollard castigates leftists for their hero-worship of Fidel Castro: ‘one of the longest-standing abusers of human rights on the planet'. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2314816,00.html
Let’s leave aside the hero-worship of Stephen’s favourite post-war Prime Minister for that charming, human-rights respecting democrat Auguste Pinochet, and instead raise a glass to the fact that throughout the whole of his article Stephen failed to mention the name ‘Slobodan Milosevic’ once. Could it be that he has finally acknowledged that a man who won three democratic elections in a multi-party system cannot be called a ‘dictator’. And that in the total absence of any credible evidence, he can’t be called a ‘butcher’ or ‘mass murderer’ either. If so, it’s welcome news.

Finally, I couldn’t help but smile at the Independent’s front page today, which seeks to castigate the government for ‘3023 new offences’ introduced since 1997. One of those new offences (and in my view, the least defensible) is the fascistic ban on smoking in public places which will come into effect in England one year from now. And it’s a law change which the ‘liberal’ Independent, enthusiastically supported. I bet they supported some of the others too.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Banned in the name of 'democracy'

Here's my piece from today's First Post on worrying anti-democratic developments in 'New' Europe. Don't hold your breath for denouncements from the EU or the US State Department.
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=677

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hard-line neo-cons don't want a ceasefire

Here's an excellent piece from anti-war.com by Jim Lobe on how hard-line neo-conservatives are opposing the UN brokered ceasefire in the Israel/Lebanon war. The question I have asked many times before and will continue to ask is why, if these people love military conflict so much, don't they ever enlist? I'm sure either the US Army or the IDF would be very happy to have them.
http://www.antiwar.com/lobe/?articleid=9530
ps I've just been informed that our good friend Stephen Pollard points out on his webblog that Charles Krauthammer, one of the people Lobe mentions in his piece, is in a wheelchair. Fair enough, we can excuse him from military service. But what about the rest of them? And come to think of it, what about you Stephen?
A bit of active military service in Iraq would do wonders for your waistline.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Shown to Size

Here's an excellent piece from Sam Leith in today's Daily Telegraph on how overreacting to terrorist attacks - or possible terrorist attacks- is not the answer. Do we really want to live in a country where you aren't allowed to carry a paperback book and a pack of playing cards on to an aeroplane?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/08/12/do1206.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2006/08/12/ixopinion



Thursday, August 10, 2006

Arc of extremism

Here's my column from today's Morning Star. http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index2.php/ex/examples

Spot the difference. Country A has its citizens kidnapped and killed by a ‘terrorist’ group supported by Country B. Country A reacts by taking action to free the hostages and defeat the terrorists which Country B denounces as 'disproportionate' and uses its influence to gain support from other countries for 78 days of air strikes on Country A. Country C also has its citizens kidnapped and killed by a ‘terrorist’ group. 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 and killing hundreds of innocent civilians.The double standards Country B (the USA) showed towards (Country A) Yugoslavia in 1998/9 during its battle with the Kosovan Liberation Army and (Country C) Israel today could not be more glaring, particularly, when one considers that the trigger for the renewal of hostilities between the KLA and Yugoslav forces in October 1998 was the kidnapping by the KLA of two Yugoslav journalists.

No one on the Sky News bulletin I recently watched thought fit to ask James Rubin, the ubiquitous former Press Officer to Secretary of State Madeline Albright, why Yugoslavia had no right to carry out ‘anti-terrorist’ action on its own soil in 1998/9, but Israel has the right to carry out its ‘anti-terrorist’ action on another’s soil.An estimated 900 Lebanese civilians have been killed in the Israeli offensive- a third of them children under the age of 12. A million Lebanese have become refugees in their own country. Don’t, however, hold your breath for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to be indicted for war crimes or be sent, with his hands tied behind his back, on an RAF plane to stand trial at The Hague, the fate which befell Slobodan Milosevic. Olmert knows he can literally get away with murder, because he is supported by the most powerful and malevolent political grouping on this planet, Washington’s neo-conservatives. The very same people who championed the cause of radical Islamists in the Balkans in order to destroy Yugoslavia, now defend the killing of innocent Muslims and Christians in Gaza and Lebanon as a necessary part of ’the war on terror’.

It is revealing to compare the way the Western media has portrayed both conflicts.
Back in 1998/9, the KLA were depicted as a bunch of heroic ‘freedom fighters’-battling to free their people from Serb oppression. ‘The United States and the KLA stand for the same human values and principles’ declared the U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman: little mention was made of the group’s links to organised crime and drug smuggling, and the fact that in the lead up to war, the KLA had killed more ethnic Albanians in Kosovo than Yugoslav forces. The KLA’s links with hard-line fundamentalist groups, including al Qaeda, were also glossed over. Yugoslavia, by contrast, was portrayed as a genocidal nazi-style dictatorship- even though its leader was a committed socialist and lifelong anti-racist who had won three successive elections held in a multi-party system.

All rather different to the way Israel is depicted today. Although there has been criticism of Israel‘s actions, the country still benefits from a favourable press coverage, especially in the United States and Britain. Israel, we are repeatedly informed, is a modern, forward-looking democracy, under constant attack from backward, fanatical neighbours hell-bent on its destruction. ‘Israel is an integral part of the West and an example for its virtues’ declares the journalist and Tory MP Michael Gove, while fellow Tory Boris Johnson claims that Israel has moral superiority over its opponents on the grounds that ‘when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit’.

Nowhere in this dominant version of events is mention made of Israel’s huge military arsenal and the fact that it is the only country in the region to possess nuclear weapons or that the jails of the Middle East‘s ‘model democracy’ contain over 4,000 Palestinians held without trial.
Despite’s Israel’s blatant aggression against Lebanon and their denial of rights to the Palestinians, it is the governments of Iran and to a lesser extent, Syria who are denounced as the instigators of the latest Middle East conflict. Yet Iran and Syria have far more reason to fear the U.S. and Israel than vice versa. Prominent neo-conservatives close to the Bush administration have made no secret of their desire to achieve ‘regime change’ in both Damascus and Tehran. To openly call for a nuclear first strike on Iran- as leading neo-conservative Richard Perle has done, is considered perfectly acceptable, yet, when the Iranian president makes a speech condemning Western policy towards his country, there is a huge outcry.

In reality, the ‘underdog’ in the present conflict is not Israel, a country bankrolled and armed by the most powerful nation on earth, but the Lebanese and Palestinian people fighting for their right to self-determination. And in 1998/9 the ‘underdogs‘ in the Kosovan conflict, were not the ’freedom fighters’ of the KLA- equipped with the very latest western weaponry, but the beleaguered Yugoslav government. Unfortunately for Slobodan Milosevic and the citizens of Yugoslavia, international resistance to US-led imperialism was weak and uncoordinated in 1999 and Yugoslavia’s attempt to defend its territorial integrity was defeated.

Seven years on though, things are different. As Israel’s bombs were pounding Lebanon, President Chavez of Venezuela was completing a tour of sovereign states that still retain their independence. Closer co-operation, not just in trade matters, but on defence and military issues too, is essential for these countries if they are to avoid the fate of others who refused to pay Danegeld. The pattern is clear. In 1999 Yugoslavia. In 2003, Iraq.In 2006 Lebanon.

If we don’t want to see Damascus and Tehran go the way of Belgrade, Baghdad and Beirut, it’s time all humane, decent people come together to stop the real ‘arc of extremism’- the one which stretches from Washington across to London and Tel Aviv.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Handy-Dandy Guide to US Foreign Policy

Be confoosed no longer! Many thanks to reader Bob Taylor for sending in this gem.
http://www.newyorkobserver.com/
20060814/20060814_Nicholas_von_Hoffman_opinions_vonhoffman.asp

Defeat for the terrorists' friend

Great news from the U.S. where Senator Joe Lieberman, supporter of the terrorist Kosovan Liberation Army, has been defeated in the Democratic Party primary in Connecticut. Here's a reminder of what Mr Lieberman said about the KLA back in 1999.

"[The] United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles ... Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values." (as quoted in the 'Washington Post,' April 28, 1999)

At long last, the Democrats of Connecticut have decided that heroin smuggling, gun running and killing innocent civilians are not their idea of American values.

Shock! Horror! Politician listens to the people!

The Kaczynski twins- in common with 70% of Poles, want the death penalty brought back. How silly of them. Don't they know that 'democracy' in the EU means doing the exact opposite to what the people want?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/08/09/do0904.xml&sSheet=
/opinion/2006/08/09/ixopinion.html

ps don't you just love the 'dragging Poland back in time' headline to this piece? Democracy is clearly very old-fashioned indeed. Note too, the description of the democratically elected Belarus President Alexsander Lukashenko as a 'dictator'.

When in Rome..don't ask for help

Anne Widdecombe has an interesting piece in today's Daily Express on what she calls the rudest place she has ever visited- Rome.
I can fully understand how she feels. My wife and I have visited cities and countries atround the world, but never came across such consistent rudeness and unhelpfulness as in the Italian capital. A shrug of the shoulders is the standard response to a polite request for help or information and to say people don't go out of their way to be of assistance is the understatement of the century. Where I don't agree with Widdecombe is holding London up as an example of a helpful, friendly city. Has she never been to New York?
New York was voted the most polite city in the world in a recent survey- and having visited the Apple for the first time in April, I can fully understand why. Everyone we asked for directions or information was extremely helpful, even to the extent of walking along with us to make sure we got on the right trains. En route to JFK airport, I left my wife for a couple of minutes at the foot of some stairs in order to buy a couple of sandwiches and on my return she told me that no fewer than three people had offered to carry our cases up the stairs!
And I am told by American friends that New York is the least friendly of all major American cities!!
American foreign policy leaves a lot to be desired- but many of its people are 14 carat gold.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Freedom of speech in 'New' Europe

What do you think of someone who carries a banner of the Israeli flag on which the Star of David is replaced by a Nazi swastika? Many people (myself included) will think it's going over the top- that in spite of Israel's blatant aggression against Lebanon and the inhabitants of Gaza, it' s inaccurate to compare the country to Nazi Germany. Some on the other hand may think that the analogy is at least partly justified. They will point out to the way prominent Zionists were quick to label Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia 'fascist' - even though it was multi-party democracy with a thriving privately owned media. And the self-same Zionists- like US Defense Secretary Wiliam Cohen accused Belgrade of embarking on a World War Two style 'genocide' against Kosovan Albanians- even though no credible evidence existed to back up the charge.
But regardless of our opinions on the Israel/Nazi Germany analogy-should those making it be arrested?
In Britain, posters comparing George Bush and Ariel Sharon to Hitler are a common sight on anti-war marches. And Zionists themselves regularly refer to Hezbollah as 'Fascists' and denounce the Iranian President as 'The New Hitler'. Yet ,when two members of a Communist Youth organisation carried a banner of an Israeli flag on which the Star of David was replaced by a Nazi swastika at an anti-war rally in Budapest at the weekend they were promptly arrested.
Had protesters been arrested at a rally in Belarus, Bolivia or Venezuela for carrying banners the authorities disapproved of- you can be sure the Harry's Placers, Samizdatas and Eustonistas would have been up all night posting on such an appalling infringement of free speech. But three days after the arrests in Hungary, a country in which a party called the ' Free Democrats' (SZDSZ) participate in the government, there is not a word from our crusaders for freedom and democracy. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
http://www.budapestsun.com/full_story.asp?ArticleId={DCA0293C7D1041728330CD87FFC50ECD}&From=News

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Boycott the Hegemon

Here's a terrific piece from Virgina Tilley on what all good, decent people can do to hit back at the warmongers.
http://www.counterpunch.org/tilley08052006.html

Friday, August 04, 2006

The 'values' of Tony Blair

Here's a superb piece by Peter Wilby from today's Guardian on what Tony Blair really means when he talks about his 'values'. As I have consistently argued, all the talk of wishing to spread 'democracy' and the 'rule of law' by the likes of Blair, Bush, the Henry Jackson Society and co is a sham- all they really care about is prising open new markets for western multinationals.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1837059,00.html