Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The dying days of neo-conservatism

Serbia and Milosevic cleared of genocide. Condoleeza Rice announcing her intention to talk to Iran and Syria. And a record number of Americans in opposition to the Iraq war. These are bleak days indeed for the last few inhabitants of Planet Neo-Con and their 'liberal' imperialist allies.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A bad day for Bosnia's neo-con backers

"Serbia has not committed genocide, through its organs or persons whose acts engage its responsiblity under customary international law. Serbia has not conspired to commit genocide, nor incited the commission of genocide, nor incited the commission of genocide. Serbia has not been complicit in genocide, in violation of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment if the Crime of Genocide."

Ruling of the World Court yesterday.


Let's hope that neo-con/NWO apologists who feel obliged to write of 'Serbia's/Milosevic's genocidal aggression' whenever discussing the Balkans now have the good grace to desist from the practice.
UPDATE: Here's an excellent piece by John Laughland from today's Guardian, on how the World Court's ruling punctures the false claim that underpins the doctrine of illegal interventions.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2023025,00.html

Natural born killers

In the Mail on Sunday, the pro-war journalist Bruce Anderson, whose enthusiasm for illegal wars is matched only by his enthusiasm for slaughtering Britain's wildlife, reveals that Dave Cameron is a man of similar passions. Anderson, who once claimed that it was "important that a horse should be killed most years and a jockey every ten years or so" in the Grand National, tells us that Dave is "very good with a gun" and can bring down two stags with one shot. If Dave's shooting skills are really that good, why on earth doesn't he and his fellow butcher Bruce, volunteer to go to Iraq?
Come on chaps: doing your bit for the 'war on terror' should surely take priority over your war against Britain's stags.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Pioneers' spirit

Here's a piece from my wife Zsuzsanna in today's Guardian on what it was like to be a Pioneer in Hungary in the 1970s and 80s.


Politicians who want to improve life for young people should look to the Hungarian example

Zsuzsanna Clark
Monday February 26, 2007
The Guardian


Twenty million Scouts around the world last week marked Founder's Day, and with it the 100th anniversary of the Scout movement. Their celebrations offer a powerful reminder of the ability of youth movements to bring young people together in a spirit of friendship and solidarity - qualities that have become all too rare in modern Britain. "Isn't there more we can do to enable young people to come together and give service to their country?" asks David Cameron. Well yes, David, there is, and we did it in "backward" socialist Hungary more than 30 years ago.

Unlike those brought up in Margaret Thatcher's devil-take-the-hindmost Britain, I was fortunate to be raised in a society where solidarity and togetherness were officially encouraged from an early age. The Pioneer movement, of which I was a member, was not about indoctrinating young people with the tenets of Marxist-Leninism, as many believe, but engendering a sense of community among the nation's youth.

Many of the Pioneers' activities were similar to the Scouts', but the values were more collective and they involved all children and teenagers in the country, not just a minority. Pioneer membership was an integral part of school life, not just in Hungary, but throughout the socialist bloc.

Our motto as Pioneers was Together for Each Other. It was not an empty slogan: it was how we were encouraged to think. Being a Pioneer meant taking special care of the weak and vulnerable. We helped the elderly with their shopping and cleaning; we chopped up firewood for them and carried their coal in and out from the cellar. There were competitions, too: for collecting waste paper and waste metal, for sports activities and for other acts of good citizenship. But, reflecting the collective ethos of the movement, the prizes were nearly always for groups, not for individuals.

Each class had different duties which were rotated week by week. When we were on cleaning duty we had to go to school half an hour earlier and sweep the pavement outside the school. But no one ever seemed to mind: we carried out our tasks willingly.

The highlight of our year as Pioneers was our annual excursion. Every class went to the country for two or three days. When I was 13 I spent two weeks at Csilleberc, a camp near Budapest, with other Pioneers from all over Hungary. We travelled there on the famous Pioneer railway in Budapest. Opened in 1948, the railway was, with the exception of the drivers, staffed entirely by children and connected the previously inaccessible Buda Hills. The children worked the signals, changed the points and sold tickets. At Pioneer camp, we shared both tents and duties - just as it was at home, except we didn't know each other as well. But by working and socialising together we soon made friends. Rabid anti-communists and adherents of the view that "there is no such thing as society" will no doubt sneer at what I have just described, but the Pioneer movement did create a real feeling of togetherness. Hungarians of my generation almost all look back at their Pioneer days with great affection, regardless of their views on other aspects of the socialist system.

"If we are unable to ensure young people the opportunities for positive, creative deeds, then in some cases a gang will serve this purpose instead." So warned Gyorgy Aczel, Hungary's minister of culture in the 1970s. When I compare my childhood to the atomised lives of so many young people in Britain today, one in which violent and antisocial gang culture seems ever more to predominate, I believe Aczel's words to be as relevant as ever.

Zsuzsanna Clark is writing a book on her experiences of growing up under communism in Hungary

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chris Eubank speaks for Britain

He always was my favourite boxer.
http://news.uk.msn.com/Article.aspx?cp-documentid=3317185

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wanted: An Erich Fromm Party

This piece of mine appears on The Guardian's Comment is Free website.

"A healthy economy is only possible at the expense of unhealthy human beings".

I wonder what the social philosopher and psychoanalyst Dr Erich Fromm, the man who wrote those words over 30 years ago, would make of Britain today.

Over the past decade we have witnessed an unprecedented period of uninterrupted economic growth. Yet our collective mental health has declined sharply. More than two million Britons are on antidepressants, a million on Class A drugs. Binge drinking, and what Fromm called "acts of destruction" - violence, self-abuse and vandalism - have reached record levels. The Samaritans report that five million people are "extremely stressed". Oliver James' new book, Affluenza, and last week's Unicef report, which listed Britain's children as the unhappiest in Europe, are powerful indictments of the society we have become.

For solutions to our predicament, don't look to neo-liberal politicians such as Ed Vaizey, and other members of the political parties bankrolled by big business. And don't look either to short-term fixes like the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) advocated by Richard Layard.
Instead, turn to the work of Erich Fromm, one of the 20th century's most prescient - yet sadly neglected - thinkers.

In The Sane Society (1955), Fromm argued that a society, in which "consumption has become the de facto goal", was itself sick. He advanced his theory of social character: that "every society produces the character it needs". Early Calvinistic capitalism produced the "hoarding character", who hoards both possessions and feelings: the classic Victorian man of property.
Post-war capitalism, Fromm argued, produced another, equally neurotic type: "the marketing character", who "adapts to the market economy by becoming detached from authentic emotions, truth and conviction". For the marketing character "everything is transformed into a commodity, not only things, but the person himself, his physical energy, his skills, his knowledge, his opinions, his feelings, even his smiles". (For a perfect example of a "marketing character", just think of the current inhabitant of No 10 Downing Street).
Modern global capitalism requires marketing characters in abundance and makes sure it gets them. Meanwhile, Fromm's ideal character type, the mature "productive character", the person without a mask, who loves and creates, and for whom being is more important than having, is discouraged.
Fromm was also deeply concerned with the way that love, "the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence" was undermined by an economic system which rewards greed and selfishness.
In The Art of Loving (1956), Fromm identified five types of love, all of which were endangered. Brotherly love, the most important, "the one which underlies all others", was undermined by the reduction of human beings to commodities. Motherly love was threatened by narcissism and possessiveness. Self-love, without which we cannot love others, was destroyed by selfishness. The love of God was regressing "to an idolatric concept of God". Finally, erotic love was debased by its separation from brotherly love and the absence of tenderness.

In the turbo-capitalist Britain of 2007, the war against love which Erich Fromm warned of, has gone into overdrive. Glossy magazines encourage anti-love sexual permissiveness and the cultivation of selfish and materialistic lifestyles. Multimillion dollar industries promoting the cult of narcissism have grown up, in which reality television is the latest and crudest manifestation. We are encouraged to view all human contacts as expendable, to be "traded-in" whenever we can get a better deal. Hire and fire rules not just in the business world, but in our personal lives too. And we wonder why we are so unhappy.

Erich Fromm shows us how we can fight back. The good doctor didn't just diagnose the disease, he put forward the remedies. There could be no improvement in our collective health unless society changed from the "having" to the "being" mode of existence.
The brainwashing methods used in modern advertising, described by Fromm as the "poison of mass suggestion" must be prohibited. The gap between rich and poor must be closed. A new, participatory form of democracy, "in which the well-being of the community becomes each citizen's private concern", must be introduced. There should be maximum decentralisation throughout industry and politics. And most importantly of all, ''the right of stockholders and management of big enterprises to determine their production solely on the basis of profit and expansion" must be drastically curbed. Fromm was unequivocal: the needs of people must come before the needs of capital.

The measures that Fromm put forward will no doubt be dismissed by some as unworkable or too left-wing, (as indeed similar, sensible measures put forward by Oliver James have been). And as Fromm himself, warned big business would use all its "tremendous power" to fight such changes. But if we are serious about constructing a society in which solidarity and brotherly love come to the fore, nothing less than a complete overhaul of our economic system will do.
A healthy economy or healthy human beings? I vote for the latter.
How about you?

Sheridan Morley R.I.P.

There's a wonderful obituary of Sheridan Morley, the writer, broadcaster and theatre critic who has sadly died at the age of 65, in the Daily Telegraph.
Morley was a kind man but could be scathing in print.

"If you can bring yourself to imagine Liberace as King Lear," he wrote after an evening at Cliff Richard's musical Heathcliff, "you will perhaps have some concept of what takes place in what is indubitably the worst musical since Mel Brooks's Springtime For Hitler."

He also had a wonderful store of anecdotes involving some of Britian's theatrical legends.

Morley recalled an occasion in the 1980s when, walking along Piccadilly with John Gielgud, they spotted Margaret Thatcher, then at the height of her powers, coming towards them. As they both knew her slightly, they stopped. Gielgud asked where she was now living. "No 10, Downing Street," replied the Prime Minister with some surprise. "Oh, you women!" exclaimed Gielgud, full of admiration. "Always so clever at buying the right kind of property!

Once, when Morley was crossing Leicester Square with Noel Coward, they saw a poster for an adventure movie starring Michael Redgrave and Dirk Bogarde entitled The Sea Shall Not Have Them.
"I fail to see why not," Coward remarked. "Everybody else has."

A neo-liberal writes

Who wrote the following, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph today?:

"I consider the openness of the British economy to foreign companies to be one of its strongest assets."

(a) Dr Eamonn Butler, Director of The Adam Smith Institiute
(b) John Redwood.
(c) Baroness Thatcher.
(d) 'Red' Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London.

Yup, the answer is (d).

What next, Ken? A glowing biography of Milton Friedman?
A directorship at Goldman Sachs?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Is there any way back for Robert Winston?

Here's my piece on the banned jockey from today's Guardian.

Is there any way back for Robert Winston? Having been warned off the track for one year, the future certainly looks bleak for the man who a decade ago looked to have the racing world at his feet.
In his darkest hour, Winston can however take heart from the fact that disgraced jockeys have resurrected their careers before.
John Egan, suspended from riding in Hong Kong after being found guilty of corruption (and currently awaiting trial in Britain for firearms offences), enjoyed a vintage 2006 in winning two Group Ones, the Chester Cup and the Ebor. And over the jumps Dean Gallagher made a successful return to the saddle after serving an 18-month ban imposed by the Jockey Club for failing a drugs test.
Winston says he is "determined to become champion jockey some day, with God's help". For that to happen, his first priority will be to regain the confidence of both trainers and owners.
Trainer Mark Brisbourne, for whom Winston has ridden winners, thinks it can be done. "I don't think many doors will be closed to him. He's young, fit and hasn't got any ailments. He has certainly got a future in racing."
Maintaining race fitness during his year away from the track will be a problem but at least Winston will still be able to work in a yard and ride out.
Perhaps the biggest challenge Winston faces during his enforced absence is a personal one. The son of an alcoholic, Winston had reached the age of 18 having drunk just one glass of cider. But a fateful double vodka, urged on him by fellow apprentices one day after racing, sparked off a gradual descent into alcoholism.
Things hit rock-bottom during a long lay-off with injury in 2005. Drinking every day from 1pm until the early hours of the morning, Winston's ordeal only ended when he checked himself in to rehab. A regular at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Winston admitted in the past that he was depressed when sober. But remaining sober is what he will have to do if he ever is to return to the sport and go anywhere near the heights he once reached.
After announcing his arrival in the sport in audacious fashion in 1996 by beating the 11-times champion Pat Eddery in a photo-finish when still an apprentice at Nottingham, Winston's talent and conscientiousness looked set to propel him right to the very top.
But while it is tempting to see as a turning point his horrific fall at Ayr in August 2005, which put him out of action for four months with a broken jaw and scuppered his chances of a first jockeys' title, we now know that the seeds of his decline had been sown some time before.
Sport is full of nearly men, highly gifted individuals who have come agonisingly close to glory but due to bad luck, mental weakness or sometimes both, have failed to get their hands on the main prize.
Robert Winston is going to find it very tough not to become the latest addition to their number.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Democracy is rising

For citizens of the USA, this is an important day in the battle to derail the neo-con war juggernaut.
Over to Carol Kramer:

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD TODAY!

This week the U.S. House of Representatives debated President Bush’s plan to
send 21,000 more troops into the war in Iraq. Today they vote on the resolution
opposing the increase of troops.

Please call your Representative TODAY. This is a critical time in our movement
to end the war. More is needed to make the U.S. secure in the world.

Ask your Representative to take these three steps:

1. Vote YES on the non-binding resolution to oppose escalation of the war in
Iraq – but don’t stop there.

2. Take a real step forward for peace: Vote NO on the war supplemental
appropriations bill and stop funding the war in Iraq.

3. DO NOT escalate the war into Iran.


Here’s how to do it.

-- Call the Capitol switchboard (202)224-3121 and ask to be connected to your
Representative's office, or go to http://capwiz.com/fconl/directory/congdir.tt
to find the direct phone number of your Representative.

-- Ask to speak to your Representative’s aide responsible for Iraq War issues.

-- Identify yourself and ask your Representative to take the three steps listed
above.

-- Ask the office to send you a transcript of the Representative’s floor speech
on Iraq (all members have been given 5 minutes to make a statement on Iraq this
week).


Today's vote on the escalation of the war is a step forward, but it’s just the
first step. Non-binding resolutions aren’t enough. Congress must use its power
to end the war and bring the troops home now!


-------------
Carol Kramer
Democracy Rising
www.DemocracyRising.US
301-891-7700

The Democracy Rising peace project seeks to bring the troops home and end the
occupation of Iraq.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Democracy Rising
DemocracyRising.US
P.O. Box 18485
Washington, DC 20036
USA

John Howard should know his place

This piece of mine appears in today's Australian.

The PM should know his place in international affairs
All world leaders, not just John Howard, should stay silent about other nations' democratic elections and candidates


LET'S take a trip down memory lane, back to January 1995. Following Alexander Downer's resignation, John Howard is standing for the Liberal Party leadership for the second time. On announcing his candidature, he is astonished to hear US president Bill Clinton launch a fierce verbal attack against him, warning that a Liberal Party success in the next Australian election would be a victory for the "enemies of the free world".

If you're having trouble remembering the hiatus caused by Clinton's intervention, don't worry. It never happened. But if it had, how kindly would Howard have taken it?

The fact that no US president passed comment on his candidature in 1995 has not deterred Howard from poking his oar into the US presidential race for 2008. According to Howard, al-Qa'ida will be "praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Barack Obama but also for the Democrats".

Howard's intervention in the American political arena has been defended by Downer on the grounds that "it's a free world and we are entitled to a point of view".
Of course, Howard and Downer - like every citizen of Australia or any other country in the world - are entitled to a point of view regarding next year's US presidential election and which candidate al-Qa'ida would most like to win. (My view is that Osama bin Laden is praying right now for George W. Bush to pass a constitutional amendment and run for a third term.) But there are some solid reasons why the Australian Prime Minister and his ever-loyal Foreign Minister should have kept their views strictly to themselves.

For a start, interventions from politicians and government officials from country A in the election campaigns of country B are usually counterproductive.
Earlier this year a letter from Tony Blair was published in Serbian newspapers: although it didn't name any particular politicians or parties, it made it quite clear that the British Prime Minister wanted the Serbs to vote for a "European future". The British ambassador chimed in, calling for the locals to "support the parties whose leaders share the European vision, who can be Europe's partners. Don't leave the choice to others."
The result: less than 30 per cent of Serbs voted for pro-European Union parties, with the Euro-sceptic and anti-Western Radical Party winning the largest share of the vote. Is it any great surprise that the Serbs didn't take too kindly to being offered advice on how to vote by the country that played such a prominent role in the NATO bombardment of Serbia just eight years earlier?
Last summer the US ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli, labelled presidential hopeful Daniel Ortega a tiger who hadn't changed his stripes.
The result: a decisive victory for Ortega in November's elections.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski openly championed the Opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich in the 2006 presidential election in neighbouring Belarus. The result: Milinkevich polled 6 per cent.
And on it goes.
Call it pride, bloody-mindedness or simple nationalism. The point here is that no one likes to hear a foreign politician pass comment on their country's elections: the natural human reaction on being told by an outsider that candidate X or Y is no good, or will threaten the peace of the world, is to make the domestic voter more likely to vote for them.

Then there is the sticky problem of what to do if the candidate who has been attacked gets elected. Former British prime minister John Major's special relationship with the US was never really that special after it came to light that Major's Tory government had looked into Clinton's student passport records on behalf of president George H.W. Bush during the 1992 election campaign.
Who could have blamed Clinton for not wishing to offer a cigar to a man who did his level best to ensure he would not be elected?
And Howard's damning verdict on Obama could easily come back to haunt him if the up-and-coming senator from Illinois does make it to the White House and Howard goes on to a fifth election victory. After what has been said, can anyone imagine a constructive working relationship being forged between Howard and Obama, or indeed any Democrat?
The truth is that Australia needs to have such a relationship with whichever candidate the American public elects, be it the ultra-hawkish John McCain or the anti-war leftist Dennis Kucinich. Howard's remarks may have blown it.

Those defending Howard point out that in an increasingly interconnected, globalised world, the election results in one country are of great importance to others, particularly when the elections are taking place in the world's most powerful nation. And that alone gives leaders such as Howard the right to make their preferences known. But although it is true that next year's presidential election result will affect the lives of millions around the world, the fact remains that it's up to Americans - and Americans alone - to choose their president.

The essence of democracy is that elections are the exclusive concern of the citizens of the sovereign nations involved, and that means no outside interference, either by means of other countries bankrolling particular parties or groupings (as the US has done on several occasions), or through partisan interventions such as Howard's.
It's perfectly acceptable for McCain or any of the other presidential hopefuls to claim that al-Qa'ida will be praying for an Obama victory. In the interests of democracy, it's completely unacceptable for an Australian prime minister, or any other foreign leader, to do likewise.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Monument to Dubya

Dear Friends :

I have the distinguished honor of being on the committee to raise $5,000,000 for a monument of George W. Bush.

We originally wanted to put him on Mt. Rushmore until we discovered there was not enough room for two more faces.

We then decided to erect a statue of George in the Washington, D.C. Hall Of Fame. We were in a quandary as to where the statue should be placed.

It was not proper to place it beside the statue of George Washington, who never told a lie, or beside Richard Nixon, who never told the truth, since George could never tell the difference.

We finally decided to place it beside Christopher Columbus, the greatest neo-conservative of them all. He left not knowing where he was going, and when he got there he did not know where he was. He returned not knowing where he had been, decimated the well-being of the majority of the population while he was there, and did it all on someone else's money.

Thank you.

George W. Bush Monument Committee

P.S. The Committee has raised $1.35 so far. (many thanks to Mr Oliver Kamm)

pps(and thanks too to reader Bob Taylor for sending in the above)

Stephen fails to pay his bills

The Exile writes in to say:
I hope that you are amused to learn that Stephen Pollard's website has been pulled because the account has not been paid.
That's what the error message says, anyway.


It certainly does.
So what's the problem Stephen? Had a bad run on the gee gees?
Or are you doing a runner having failed to produce any evidence to back up your claim, made yesterday in Britain's newspaper of record, that Milosevic was a 'genocidal butcher'?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A unipolar world is an undemocratic one

In case you missed it, here's Vladimir Putin's brilliant speech on international affairs, published in today's Guardian.

Here are a couple of extracts worth particular consideration:

What then is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it describes a scenario in which there is one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making. It is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And this is pernicious, not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within. And this, certainly, has nothing in common with democracy. Because democracy is the power of the majority in the light of the interests and opinions of the minority.

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. One country, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations.

Yesterday The Daily Telegraph asked its readers which country posed the greater threat to the peace of the world: Russia or the USA?

An easy way to answer that is to get a piece of paper and write down the number of countries which Russia has attacked, or threatened to attack, in the last fifteen years.

Then do the same with the USA.

It's pretty one-sided isn't it?

A Serious Matter

The Times, the oldest newspaper in the country, has long been regarded as a paper of record. Lies and misinformation in other newspapers should of course be rigorously challenged, but in the Times when a writer puts forward information which he or she either knows is false, or has no evidence to back up the assertion, it is arguably even more serious, given the paper's historical reputation.

Stephen Pollard has done that today.

In his bitter tirade against members of the British Jewish community who don't share his opinions, he twice referred to the late Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as a 'genocidal butcher'.

Pollard has been asked to provide evidence to back up this claim on several occasions before and has failed to do so.
He needs to be held to account.

If like me, you feel strongly about this matter you can contact The Times editor, Robert Thomson either by email at editor@thetimes.co.uk, or at 1, Pennington Street, London E88 ITT.
The Times comment editor, Daniel Finkelstein can also be contacted at that address and by email at daniel.finkelstein@thetimes.co.uk
You can also send a letter to letters@thetimes.co.uk.
(If you'd like to contact Pollard directly to ask him about his sources, then his email address is stephen.pollard@cne.org)

Pollard must either produce evidence to show that Milosevic was a 'genocidal butcher',(Milosevic's four-year trial at The Hague certainly didn't come up with any)or else desist from making the claim in a public arena.

And unless Pollard can back up his allegation, The Times should print a retraction to say that their writer's claim was without foundation.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A sense of priorities

Neo-cons egging on a military confrontation with Iran which is likely to lead to World War Three.
Iraq going from bad to worse.
A record trade deficit.
And what's the main story in the 'quality' papers?
That Dave may have smoked a joint twenty years ago.
Thank goodness we've got Peter Wilby and Sam Leith to restore some sanity.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Oliver Kamm redefines hypocrisy

Regular readers will know all about the dispute I have had with the pro-war writer and blogger Oliver Kamm, which started when the Daily Telegraph published my critical review of Kamm’s book ‘Anti-Totalitarianism’ in 2005.

A resume of this tawdry affair can be found here.

Faced with what I think most objective observers would agree was a clear and malicious attempt by Kamm to jeopardise my journalistic career, I had no option but to initiate legal proceedings for defamation. I did so in the County Court, not having the financial wherewithal to launch an action in the High Court. For procedural reasons (an action for defamation can only be heard in the County Court if the defendant agrees, and Kamm didn’t) the case did not come to court.

In November, Kamm resumed hostilities with this post on his blog. Kamm endeavoured to portray himself as the victim, the champion of free speech who had been threatened by a litigious journalist who wanted to silence the right of bloggers to express an opinion. Kamm’s version of events was repeated by other websites supportive of his pro-war views, such as Harry’s Place and of course the web-blog of his friend and collaborator Stephen Pollard.

Let’s remind ourselves of the very words Kamm used in his posting of November:

“I consider it wrong in principle and self-defeating for a writer to threaten legal action against a blogger, and cannot imagine realistic circumstances in which I would do so”.

Ever thinking of the common good, Kamm informed his readers:

“I defended the case, and have voluntarily borne costs that are not trivial, because an action that would have had the effect of restricting free comment would otherwise have succeeded by default. Blogging would be a less free medium than it is, and than I hope it will continue to be, if I had acceded to Mr Clark’s demand”.

Harry’s Place chimed in: “ The rest of us owe Oliver Kamm thanks for his decision to use his own money to help preserve the right to express opinions without fear of vexatious litigation”.

Yet, I can reveal that by the time he had written the above sentences, Kamm had already threatened legal action against a blogger named ‘Sonic‘ who writes a blog named ‘Hitchens Watch’, for comments Sonic had left on another website. Details of the exchange can be found here:

And this week, there’s even more damning evidence of Kamm’s hypocrisy. On Wednesday Kamm threatened to launch legal proceedings, within 24 hours, against the pro-Israel Canadian website Israpundit if the site failed to remove comments made by readers regarding Kamm’s defence of the extremist Bosnian Islamist and former Nazi recruiter Alija Izetbegovic.

Here are copies of all the relevant emails, including Kamm‘s emails to the Israpundit in which he delivers his ultimatum.

Original Message -----
From: "Oliver Kamm" <oliver.kamm@tiscali.co.uk>
To: <israpundit@sympatico.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 5:44 AM
Subject: From Oliver Kamm

Dear Mr Belman,

My attention has been drawn to comments left on your site, "IsraPundit",in the last few days by what appear to be regular contributors. The comments are attached to a piece by the British journalist Melanie Phillips, who mentionsme in passing. The context of the comments (irrelevantly to Melanie's article) is the Balkan wars of the 1990s, in which I was a supporter of Western militaryintervention against the aggression of Slobodan Milosevic.
Your contributors, instead of stating factually my position on this issue,call me an "Islamist wolf" who "pretends to be pro-Israel" but is an "enemyof the Jewish people". Beyond these characteristics - which according toyour contributors I share with the Canadian Liberal politician and writeron human rights Michael Ignatieff, so I am at least in distinguished company- I am supposedly a supporter of "Nazi mass murderers of Jews and Serbs inBosnia and Kosovo" and defend "genocide and ethnic cleansing".

There are numerous ludicrous and abusive accusations against me in obscurecorners on the Internet, and my unvarying practice is to ignore them evenin cases of obvious defamation. But these vile remarks on your site, whichyour contributors will be completely unable to substantiate with reference to anything I have said or written, go far beyond anything I am prepared to let pass without protest. I do not believe in censorship of your contributors'political opinions, but I certainly request that you make it clear on yoursite that you deprecate such libels, and that there will be no repetitionof them. This should be done in your own words and not by reproducing thisemail, otherwise it will not be the statement of editorial position thatit needs to be.The article and comments are here: http://www.israpundit.com/2006/?p=3845
Sincerely.
Oliver Kamm

Original Message -----
From: Ted
To: oliver.kamm@tiscali.co.uk
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 11:14 PM
Subject: Re: From Oliver Kamm

Allow me to clarify some facts first. I myself know very little regarding the Balkans.
Their comments allege,
"Beware of the Islamist wolf, Oliver Kamm. Anyone who can support the Bosnian Islamofascist mass murderer, Alija Izetbegovic, is no real friend of the Jews or Israel despite the abundant layers of sheeps clothing.
Kamm, as a supposed friend of the Jews, even has the brazen audacity to defend Izetbegovic’s genocide against the Christian Serbs during the 90’s and even denies Izetbegovic’s WW2 SS Nazi Muslim “Handzar” division background as an SS auxiliary member of this notorious division, via his recruiting activities in the Islamist Nazi Bosnian “Young Muslims” organization, in early 1943!
Izetbegovic acted as an SS auxiliary by volunteering as a prime recruiter for the 20,000 plus strong Himmler-created Waffen SS “Handzar” division during WW2 in Bosnia.Kamm denies this irrefutable fact of history.
50 years later, in early 1993, Izetbegovic even named his 6,000 plus strong personal praetorian body guards the “Handzar” division in honor of the WW2 Handzar Muslim SS division which was notorious for its heinous atrocities against Serbs, Jews and Roma!!
Kamm of course either denies or tries to whitewash all of this by giving it his own personal “spin” on history.
If Kamm can support Islamofascism in Bosnia over a period of 15 years, he cannot be trusted not to support it in the Middle East, despite outward appearances."
Are you taking the position that Izetbegovic isn't an islamofascist or that when you supported him that you didn't know about him.
Did you in fact defend Izetbegovic as alleged in the second paragraph ?
Or are you saying that though you supported Izetbegovic who you knew to be an Islamofascist that doesn't make you an "enemy of the Jews"
Do you deny his background as alleged. If so was it because you didn't know? If so do you accept it now and have you acknowleged it?
It is also alleged that you deny that there is a Jihad against the Serbs? Do you?
It is further alleged that
"both Kamm & Ignatieff have defended the Ceku/Haradinaj/Thaci KLA Islamofascists in Kosovo and the Izetbegovic SDA Islamofascists in Bosnia in their genocide and ethnic cleansing of 350,000 people -
including the brutal expulsion of the entire Jewish community in Pristina - since EU/NATO troops & UN officials took over the province of Kosovo in June ‘99).
Is this allegation false? If so, on what basis? Is it because you didn't do it or because they are not Islamofascists?
In any event, I will ask them "to substantiate with reference to anything I have said or written, "
Please answer my questions while they attempt to substantiate the case against you if they can.
Depending on what they substantiate and what you articulate with respect to my questions I will be happy to set the record straight.
Ted Belman.

From: Oliver Kamm
To: Ted
Cc: m.hoare@kingston.ac.uk
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 9:45 PM
Subject: Re: From Oliver Kamm

Having read your commendation of the work of the "Srebrenica Research Group" on the victims of the Srebrenica massacre, I agree that you know next to nothing about the Balkans.

When you make or publish grave accusations against someone - and there could be no more grave charge against a political commentator than that he supports "Nazi mass murderers" and defends genocide and ethnic cleansing - then the onus is on you to demonstrate your case rather than engage in the casuistry of demanding from the victim of those libels that he prove a negative. To make your task easier, I am providing you with the sole comment I have ever put in the public domain on the subject of the late Alia Izetbegovic. It is to report the judgement - which I solicited directly - of the Cambridge historian Marko Attila Hoare, a specialist in Balkan history, on the allegation concerning Izetbegovic's war record: "Marko could find no direct source [substantiating the claim]. The closest he could get to it was a claim that the Serbian historian Milan Bulajic - a genuine if not entirely objective authority on the Croatian Ustashe - wrote to the journalist David Binder, claiming he had found a transcript of Izetbegovic's 1946 trial, in which the prosecution alleged that Izetbegovic had recruited for the SS during WW2, and Izetbegovic made no attempt to deny it, but merely excused himself on the grounds of his extreme youth. Marko is careful not to rule out the possibility that this is true, and Bulajic is a credible source, but as things stand, this is merely third-hand hearsay."
I would ask that you now either substantiate your contributors' allegations against me or publish a proper retraction within 24 hours. I am taking the liberty of forwarding this exchange to Dr Hoare. If I have heard nothing from you by this time tomorrow, I shall in addition forward it to my legal representatives, Charles Russell LLP of London.
Oliver Kamm


Original Message -----
From: Ted
To: Oliver Kamm
Cc: m.hoare@kingston.ac.uk
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 9:22 PM
Subject: Re: From Oliver Kamm
Let me say at the outside that the persons making the claims of which you complain do so out of knowledge and research rather than surmize and conjecture.
They argue
- that Izetbegovic was an Islamofascist, mass murderer and ethnic cleanser.
- you supported him as did much of the western world.
- ergo, you support Islamofascists.
- and finally anyone who supports Islamofascists is an enemy of Israel and the Jews.
Oliver Kamm refuses to deny that Alija Izetbegovic was an Islamist Nazi PUBLICLY dedicated to Genocide of Non-Muslims (Serbs)
Is this correct.? You certainly considered Milosovic the "aggressor".
So the only question is, does this amount to a support of "Nazi mass murderers" or to a defense of genocide and ethnic cleansing?
Please see
Played like Fiddle and the links included the first of which goes to the issue of Izetbegovics past. Someof the comments are also instructive.
I am sure you are aware of this article.
Oliver Kamm, Marko Attila Hoare, and the Importance of Being Able to Read
I have also attached an email I received from Nathan Pearlstein one of the author of one of the comments you complain about.
In North America where I reside the onus is on you to prove the libel. I know it is different in the UK.
I have no problem publishing a statement that sets out Israpundit's position. But first, I must understand the facts and the law. If the people making the comments of which you complain honestly believe the accusation, are they guilty of libel. Or does everything depend on whether the people you support i.e. the Kosovo Albanians are in fact Nazi mass murderers and ethnic cleansers.
Do I err in thinking that since you supported the Nato intervention against the "aggressor "Milosovic, that equates to support of Izetbegovic and the Kosovo Albanians?
I any event these comments may well be too aggressive and far reaching. I am working on it.
Ted Belman
-----


Kamm, the man who felt at liberty to defame me on his own blog, just over a year ago, and who was happy for his untrue allegations to be published across the internet, is it seems, rather less relaxed over allegations made on the Internet about himself.

“There could be no more grave charge against a political commentator than that he supports "Nazi mass murderers" and defends genocide and ethnic cleansing” he protests.

Really? Yet for the past thirteen months that’s how Kamm and his close allies Stephen Pollard, ‘David T’ of Harry’s Place and MarkoAttila-Hoare have routinely referred to me, sometimes substituting the ‘Nazi’ for ‘fascist’/Stalinist and often adding the word ‘dictator’ too.

“The onus is on you to demonstrate your case rather than engage in the casuistry of demanding from the victim of those libels that he prove a negative”, claims Kamm, yet when he and his allies label me, (and others who don’t share their anti-Yugoslavia perspective on Balkan affairs), an ‘apologist for genocide’, or a ‘hero-worshipper of a mass murderer’, they feel under no such obligation to ‘demonstrate’ their case. (I have emailed Kamm and Pollard on more than one occasion asking them to produce evidence that Slobodan Milosevic was guilty of genocide/ mass murder/starting wars of aggression and my emails have either been ignored or replied to in an offhand, dismissive manner).

After receiving his threatening email, ‘Sonic’ accused Kamm of being a ‘fraud, an intellectually bully and a pompous ass’.

Whether or not Kamm is a ‘fraud’, I make no comment, except to say that a man who defends someone who wrote that “the first and most important conclusion” from the Koran was “the impossibility of any connection between Islamic and non-Islamic systems” and who then promotes himself as an enemy of Islamic extremism, is guilty of inconsistency at the very least.

But even those who share his enthusiasm for military interventions now must concede that in addition to being an intellectually bully and a pompous ass, Oliver Kamm has also been exposed as a glaring hypocrite.


UPDATE:
Kamm obviously hasn't heard of the old adage 'if you're in a hole stop digging'. Clearly rattled by his exposure as a glaring hypocrite he has been posting furiously in the last 24 hours on his blog. He's now come up with this classic line: "I have never remotely considered threatening - let alone actually threatened - legal action against a blogger".
That'll certainly be news to Sonic and Ted Belman of Israpundit!

LATEST: Kamm has now posted 10 times on his blog since his hypocrisy was exposed 48 hours ago! This from a man who rarely posts at weekends!
Here's some excellent commentary from The Exile.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow is falling all over England

Snow, proper snow, is falling all over England. Over all of the living and all of the dead, as James Joyce might say. Isn't it fantastic! If you can't get into work and are short of ideas of what to do today, have a click on the x for a suggestion!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Britain's privatised railway nightmare

The Evening Standard (article not available online) reports that there will be no more carriages on Britain's overcrowded trains for 'at least three years'. The problem is that the railway companies don't own the rolling stock, which are leased to them by companies owned by banks.
Whoever could have thought up such a crazy system? The answer is these people. For the ideological fanatics at the Adam Smith Institute, railway privatisation has been a 'success'. 'Fares have been capped and are falling in real terms'. Have any members of the ASI ever travelled by train in Britain?
Perhaps one of the ASI's great brains could explain why a next day peak-time ticket 200 mile return journey costs £202 in the country which followed their advice, but just £23.83 in Belgium, a country which didn't? And why people who pay thousands of pounds for a season ticket are not even guaranteed a seat and often have to stand in toilets?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Time for an honest debate on Israel's policies

The setting up of a new group 'Independent Jewish Voices' to challenge the sometimes uncritically pro-Israel stance of official Jewish organisations, like The Board of Deputies, is a welcome step.
Many Jews around the world were sickened by Israel's bombardment of Lebanon last year (but not, incidentally, Stephen Pollard, who opposed the ceasefire) and by the country's continued ill-treatment of the Palestinians and were horrified that organisations which claim to speak for them refused to condemn the atrocities.

But any frank and honest discussion of Israeli policies should not be confined to the issues of Lebanon and Palestine, but should also cover the role leading political figures in Israel played in egging on the war with Iraq, and the part the country and its more fanatical supporters are playing in the current propaganda offensive against Iran. Make no mistake, a US/Israeli strike on Iran, which neo-conservatives such as Douglas Murray have called for, will lead to thousands of casualties and have grave repercussions for the peace and security, not just of the Middle East, but the whole world.

For the good of Jews, Arabs, Iranians, Americans and all the world's peoples, we must not allow it to happen.

UPDATE:
On the subject of the propaganda war against Iran, and the hysterical reaction to President Chirac's rare moment of honesty on the Iranian 'threat', here's a great piece from Diana Johnstone in Counterpunch.
http://www.counterpunch.org/

Let the neo-cons foot the bill

Today's Guardian reports how George Bush is to slash medical care for the poor and elderly to meet the soaring cost of the Iraq war. Bush proposes $66bn dollars of cuts to Medicare, the healthcare scheme for the elderly, and $12bn from the Medicaid healthcare scheme for the poor.

I've got a better idea of how the money should be raised. Let those responsible, ie the neo-cons and their liberal imperialist allies, foot the bill.

Messrs Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, Frum, Krauthammer, Kristol, Hitchens C and the Warmongering Wurmsers were itching to attack Iraq for years. They're all wealthy people, so what possible objection can they have to paying a special 'War Tax' levied on those who planned and propagandised for the illegal invasion?

In Britain, the same principal should also apply.

For a long time I was in two minds over the benefits of hypothecated taxes. But the events of the past few years, in which a group of very wealthy individuals have deliberately provoked illegal wars which they expect the poorest sections of society to pay for, (not just with their lives, but also their money), has convinced me of their necessity. How about you?

Friday, February 02, 2007

A 'debate' with a neo-con

Earlier today, I sent the following email to Stephen Pollard:

-----Original Message-----From: Neil Clark 02 February 2007 10:52To: mail@stephenpollard.net
Cc: neilclark6@hotmail.com
Subject: Iran and 'genocidal butchers'

Dear Stephen,
Perhaps you can explain why a nuclear-armed Iran would decide to attack Israel, knowing that, in President Chirac's words: ? "It (the nuclear missile) would not have gone 200 metres into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed."?

The 'peace' I would like to see in the Middle East does not include an Iranian attack on Israel, as you mischieviously infer, but peace for all the countries of the region, Israel included.

Also, kindly drop the silly jibe that I hero worship a 'genocidal butcher' .Milosevic did not commit genocide. If you like I can send you transcipts of the trial at The Hague, in any case they're all available on line.
Don't you think if Milosevic had been a 'genocidal butcher' some evidence would have come to light after four years?

Can I also point your attention to Tony Daniels' review of Dr John Laughland's book on the trial of Milosevic, which appears in the new editionof The Spectator. If you're consistent, you should also be labelling Daniels an apologist for 'mass murder/genocide'. I wonder if you will?

Yours, Neil Clark

Here's Pollard's reply. Isn't it wonderful how those who are so keen to spread 'free speech' around the globe are so keen to restrict the parameters of debate back home?

Dear Mr Clark,

I do not propose to get in to a debate with you about the fact of Milosevic's genocide. It is however a simple matter of fact that anyone who admires Milosevic admires a genocidal butcher.
I will repeat that formulation whenever I choose.

With regard to Iran, I assume by 'infer' you mean 'imply'. But that lack of sense simply mirrors your lack of sense in claiming to believe that an Iranin possession of a nuclear weapon would further the cause of peace. Should you choose to reply to this, rest assured that your reply will not be read but simply placed in my trash folder, where it will well deserve to sit.
Stephen Pollard

A moment of honesty from a western leader

Jacques Chirac's 'mental sharpness' has been called into question for saying that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be "very dangerous". "Where would it drop it, this bomb? On Israel? It would not have gone 200 metres in to the atmosphere before Tehran would be raised".

Faced with calls for official clarification' from 'foreign governments'- (we can all guess which ones those were), Chirac was forced into making a humiliating climbdown.

He should have held his ground. Because what the French President originally said was correct. A nuclear-armed Iran would not be very dangerous. In fact a nuclear-armed Iran- and the acquisition of nuclear weapons by other countries threatened by the insatiable neo-conservative war machine, such as Syria, would be the best guarantor of peace in the Middle East. The only way to stand up to bullies is to make them fear you as much as you fear them. And in the sphere of international relations that means nuclear deterrence.

The President of Iran has of course denied that his country has any plans to build a nuclear bomb and that his only interest is to develop nuclear energy. In the interests of peace, I do hope he's lying.

UPDATE: Stephen Pollard clearly doesn't understand the principle of nuclear deterrence (funny that, seeing that he supported it during the Cold War) . And Stephen ,while we're at it, if you had evidence that Milosevic was a 'genocidal butcher', why on earth didn't you send it to The Hague?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Truth about Slobo

An excellent review by Anthony Daniels of ''Travesty', Dr John Laughland's new book on the show-trial of Slobodan Milosevic, appears in the new edition of The Spectator.

"No evidence worthy of the name was ever produced against Milosevic, despite huge expenditure and despite the arbitrary extensions of time the prosecution was granted in the hope that something really damning would turn up to prove its case. Nothing ever did. Does anyone doubt that, had there been knock-down evidence against Milosevic, it would not have been trumpeted around the world? In the event, many of the prosecution’s star witnesses gave evidence that exculpated Milosevic entirely."

Yet despite all of this, pro-war writers continue to talk of Milosevic's 'genocidal aggression'. (Oliver Kamm, a man who will need no introduction to readers of this blog, makes the claim regularly, while Nick Cohen, in his recently published pamphlet 'What's Left', berates sections of the left for siding with Milosevic's democratically elected Yugoslavian government instead of championing the cause of radical Islamic separatists linked to bin Laden.

It is time all those who continue to make unsubtantiated claims regarding Milosevic's 'crimes' either shut up or produce evidence . As Anthony Daniels says, after four years at The Hague, no evidence of any note was produced against Milosevic. If Messrs Kamm and Cohen do possess proof of Slobo's 'genocidal aggression', or his ordering of war crimes, then the very least they can do is to make it public.

UPDATE: On the subject of Cohen, here's an extract from a sales-pitch for his new book he made yesterday on the Guardian's Comment is Free website:

Journalists wondered whether the Americans were puffing up Zarqawi's role in the violence - as a foreigner he was a convenient enemy - but they couldn't deny the ferocity of the terror. Like Stalin, Pol Pot and Slobodan Milosevic, they went for the professors and technicians who could make a democratic Iraq work.

If like me, you are curious as to which 'professors and technicians' Slobodan Milosevic 'went for', Cohen can be contacted at nick@nickcohen.net.

France becomes America

France without tobacco smoke? C'est ne pas France. C'est L'Etats-Unis. Quelle dommage!
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=2&subID=1393