Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Israel Project's Press Kit on Iran


I've just received my 'Geneva Press Kit' from 'The Israel Project', a Zionist lobbying organisation whose aim is to 'inform' journalists about the threats that Israel faces and why it is so imperative for the 'international community' to impose even more draconian sanctions on Iran. I'd like to share it with you.

Economic sanctions helped to end apartheid in South Africa. They also helped change Libya’s nuclear policy. Now they can be used to end the nuclear crisis in Iran.

The Iranian nuclear program must be halted to protect everyone. Only economic sanctions can peacefully require Iran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons.

That’s why the international community must take urgent action now to peacefully stop the threat of a nuclear Iran. Here are nine ways to curb the threat and avoid war.

• Until Iran halts its nuclear program, the international community should stop doing business with companies that supply refined petroleum to Iran. Due to a lack of oil refinery facilities in Iran, it must import 40% of its refined fuel. Halting such imports into Iran will help encourage it to stop its nuclear program and support of terrorism.

• Governments that care about security and peace must ban banks from providing credit, insurance or loan repayment guarantees to foreign oil companies that supply fuel to Iran or help expand the country’s domestic refining capacity.

• The international community should prohibit insurance companies from insuring
tankers going to Iran. The majority of tankers carrying gasoline to Iran are insured by Lloyds of London, a company that should be forbidden from helping the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

• Freeze more Iranian bank assets. In 2007, Bank Melli, Iran’s largest state-owned bank, cashed in its dollar assets for Euros. The Iranian banking strategy depends on the Euro. In June 2008, all of the EU’s 27 member-states agreed to freeze any assets held by Bank Melli in their jurisdictions. Those EU measures, taken in 2008, signaled growing impatience with Iranian foot-dragging in negotiations over halting uranium enrichment. Now that more time has passed with no changes to the Iranian enrichment program more must be done. The French and German governments must divest their large holdings in Bank Melli Iran.

• Issue travel bans. All Iranian government employees and their families should have their foreign assets frozen. They should also be subject to travel bans until Iran is verified to have stopped its nuclear program and support of terrorism.

• Ban arms sales to Iran. In 2006, the United States called on all countries to stop arms exports to Iran but much more must be done to verify that it has occurred.

• Increase targeted broadcasting into Iran through various communications channels including Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, the BBC and especially private broadcasting entities. Support the democracy activists by broadcasting events inside of Iran so that the activists can more easily learn what is occurring in the various cities and towns in Iran.

• Ban Iranian commercial airlines from entering European Union countries for failure to meet international safety standards.

•Work quickly and effectively with the international community to ensure that Iran does not get nuclear weapons.


The Israel Project's Geneva Press Kit very helpfully provides a list of
'Expert Sources on Iran'

And guess who's on the list? Dr. Michael Ledeen, Freedom Scholar, Foundation for Defense of Democracies;
Tel: 202-207-0190, Tel: 301-370-1443 (cell); E-mail: mledeen@defenddemocracy.org

Ledeen is a notorious neo-con propagandist, a fanatical supporter of the illegal invasion of Iraq.
John Laughland has the low-down on Ledeen here.

No further comment is necessary.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Three Stooges on the 'threat' from Iran


Half close one's eyes and we could have been back in Bush-time, amid the ripest hours of the propaganda barrage for the US-led onslaught on Iraq. The familiar backdrop: the UN General Assembly, in this instance migrating to the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. The theme: disclosure of fresh, chilling evidence of the duplicity of a pariah nation and of the threat it poses to the civilised world.
Then it was GW Bush's Secretary of State, Colin Powell, enthusiastically relaying a string of lies and blatant forgeries. Last week it was President Barack Obama, flanked by his Euro-puppets, dispensing an equally mendacious press release that was swallowed without a hiccup by the Western press.


writes Sasha Cockburn in his brilliant First Post piece about the Iranian nuclear 'bombshell' that wasn't.

I don’t know about you, but what Obama, Brown and Sarkozy reminded me of last week when they made their ludicrous statements about Iran was the 1940s comedy trio The Three Stooges.

Three supposedly grown-up men, trying to convince us that Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons programme poses a threat to the peace and security of the world. It would be quite hilarious- if the repercussions of their actions- the imposition of even more draconian sanctions on the Islamic Republic which will adversely affect the lives of millions of ordinary Iranians- were not so serious.

Make no mistake, the Iranian nuclear ‘crisis’ is as contrived as the Kosovo ‘crisis’ of 1999 and the Iraq WMD ‘crisis‘.

As I wrote in 2006:
'Leaders meet to discuss Iran crisis." It all sounds rather familiar. In 1999,"leaders" met to discuss the Kosovo "crisis"; we now know there was no genocide in Kosovo. In 2003, "leaders" met to discuss Iraq's weapons of mass destruction crisis; we now know there were no WMD in Iraq. Now it's Iran nuclear ambitions that represent the "crisis". If past form is anything to go by, we can be fairly sure that once again this is a crisis of the Western powers' making.

UPDATE: Mehdi Hasan has an excellent post on media propaganda on Iran.

As commenter ‘Just Observer’ says:

I can't believe this is turning into a repeat of what happened in Iraq and the world is again accepting it blindly. Why?.

FURTHER UPDATE: If, like me, you are opposed to both sanctions and military intervention against Iran, then please consider lending this excellent campaign your support.

FURTHER UPDATE:
From today's Guardian:

The UN's chief weapons inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei, said today he had seen "no credible evidence" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, rejecting British intelligence allegations that a weapons programme has been going on for at least four years.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Serbia's 'democrats' turn draconian


This article of mine, on anti-democratic developments in Serbia, appears in the New Statesman

Imagine a country where the self-styled democrats threaten press freedom and where “anti-democratic" forces try to defend it. Such an Orwellian state of affairs exists in Serbia, where a draconian new media law from the Democratic Party-led government has been attacked not only by the political opposition, but by national and international human rights groups.

Under the law, media outlets and journalists can be fined for offences including publication of what is deemed to be false or libellous information. Editors face fines of up to €25,000 - fearsome enough were this to be imposed in the UK, but a colossal sum in Serbia, where salaries are about a fifth of the size. The law suspends citizens' right to set up publications and introduces a registration system for media outlets.

The government claims the law will introduce "order into the chaotic media", but opponents say it has been rushed through in order to prevent the press from criticising Serbia's ruling elite.

“The adopted changes abolish all domestic and European standards of the freedom of the media," says Vladimir Vodinelic, a Belgrade professor of law. The head of the OSCE Serbia mission, Hans Ola Urstad, warns that they may lead to "self-censorship and the closure" of news outlets.

The prime movers behind the law are the small but influential party GI7 Plus, which threatened to leave the governing coalition if the law was not passed. G17 was one of the "pro-democracy" organisations supported by the US's National Endowment for Democracy in its push to topple Slobodan Milosevic's regime in the 1990s. That yesterday's "democratic" opposition is now acting like an authoritarian group is an irony not lost on Serbs.

“In the 1990s I wrote many articles attacking Milosevic and the government," says Dragan Milosavljevic, a journalist. “It is much harder to criticise the democratic government today."

When a restrictive media law was introduced in Yugoslavia in 1998, as the country faced the prospect of Nato airstrikes, there was widespread condemnation from western governments. Will the same condemnation be offered again? We shouldn't hold our breath.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ukraine most certainly does have talent



In case you haven't seen it yet, you're in for a real treat. Kseniya Simonova, sand-painter and the winner of Ukraine's national talent show. Simonova's extraordinary paintings tell the story of the Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War- in which almost 30m Soviet citizens died at the hands of the Nazis- a historical fact which neocon propagandists would like us to forget.

Can you imagine such a high quality act appearing on 'Britain's Got Talent'? No, me neither. Which demonstrates that even twenty years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, cultural standards in the former socialist countries of eastern europe are still much higher than in the dumbed-down west.

Hat tip: The First Post.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Leftists who didn't sell out


This article of mine appears in the Morning Star.


Last month, I listed 10 supposedly left-wing figures who ended up betraying their cause and siding with capital against the interests of ordinary working people once they had achieved power.

And what a sorry bunch they were too - among them the millionaire warmonger Blair, the turncoat Ramsay Macdonald, the hawkish pro-NATO Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski.

Thankfully, there are also examples of leftist leaders who did not betray the people and who, despite enormous pressure from international capital and their political emissaries, stayed on the progressive path.

In doing so, nearly all faced smears, vicious personal attacks and demonisation. Some, such as Salvador Allende and Slobodan Milosevic, ended up losing their lives on account of not sacrificing their principles, while the 1986 murder of Sweden's Olof Palme remains unsolved.

In the list below of 10 leftists who didn't sell out I have confined myself to political figures who became leaders of their countries. There have been lots of fine, principled socialists who have led political parties, such as the 1930s Labour Party leader George Lansbury, but unfortunately did not get the opportunity to lead their countries.

Let's hope the examples of the leaders below will be followed by other brave and principled figures in the years ahead.

HUGO CHAVEZ

The inspirational leader of Venezuela provides a handy litmus test to differentiate the "faux left" from genuine socialists.
The former label Chavez a "demagogue" and sometimes even a "dictator" despite his regular election victories, his frequent use of referendums and his belief in devolving power to local communities.
But for genuine socialists, Chavez is a hero for the way he governs his country in the interests of the majority and for his outspoken opposition to the neoconservative war agenda.
Earlier this year Chavez declared: "Every factory must be a school to educate, like Che Guevara said, to produce not only briquettes, steel, and aluminium but also above all the new man and woman, the new society, the socialist society."

CLEMENT ATTLEE

Despite the straitened financial circumstances after World War II, Attlee's post-war Labour governments carried out an impressive programme of social and economic reforms.
In addition to introducing the modern welfare state, providing British citizens for the first time with security from the cradle to the grave, they carried out the most extensive nationalisation programme in British history, bringing the railways, road transport, major industries and the Bank of England into public ownership.
Their greatest and most enduring achievement was establishing the National Health Service, enabling citizens, regardless of income, to receive the best quality health care available.

BRUNO KREISKY

Charismatic socialist chancellor of Austria who led his country for 13 years, from 1970 to 1983. During his period in office, Kreisky pursued unashamedly egalitarian policies, expanding public ownership and the welfare state.
Kreisky always put the interests of ordinary Austrians first - he famously said in the 1979 election campaign that he'd rather the government run up a budget deficit than people lose their jobs.
A Jewish anti-zionist, Kreisky was one of the leading international champions of the rights of the Palestinian people, inviting Yasser Arafat to Vienna.

SALVADOR ALLENDE

The first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a state in the Americas in 1970, Allende carried out a widespread programme of nationalisation and introduced a state system of health care and other radical measures to help the poor.
But foreign capital wasn't happy and Allende was toppled by a military coup in which he lost his life in 1973 and which brought the fascist dictator and friend of Margaret Thatcher, General Augusto Pinochet to power.
In his last address to the people, Allende declared: "Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail.
"Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society. Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!"

OLOF PALME

Outspoken Swedish socialist who was a fierce opponent of US foreign policy, apartheid South Africa and Pinochet's fascist regime in Chile.
Domestically, Palme's redistributionist economic policies helped make Sweden one of the most egalitarian societies on Earth.
In a message of condolence after Palme's assassination in 1986, ANC president Oliver Tambo wrote: "From Vietnam to Nicaragua, from El Salvador to Palestine, from Sahara to South Africa, across the face of the globe, the flags hang limp and half-mast in loving memory of this giant of justice who had become a citizen of the world, a brother and a comrade to all who are downtrodden."

JULIUS NYERERE

Tanzanian leader and "Baba wa Taifa," or father of the nation, who pioneered his own unique brand of African socialism, outlined in his famous Arusha Declaration of 1967.
Under the programme, all important enterprises were nationalised, foreign loans and investments were kept to a minimum and farming was collectivised under the "Ujaama" concept, under which families in each village were encouraged to pool their resources.
The results of Nyerere's socialist policies were impressive. By 1986, 3.7 million children were in primary school, the literacy rate was up to 85 per cent and infant mortality was down to 137 per thousand. But many of Nyerere's achievements have subsequently been undone by harsh neoliberal policies imposed by the IMF.

JANOS KADAR

The architect of "goulash communism," a liberal brand of communism which led Hungary to be labelled the "happiest barracks in the camp" during the socialist era in eastern Europe.
A modest man who lived simply and who eschewed material gain, Kadar believed that socialism meant doing the right thing by the majority of the population and during his period in power, living standards of the majority grew.
Not surprisingly given the harsh economic climate and rising levels of unemployment, nostalgia for the Kadar era is growing in today's Hungary - even the conservative opposition leader has conceded that for most Hungarians life was easier 30 years ago than it is today.

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC

The problem with Milosevic from the West's point of view was not that he was a Serb nationalist bent on destroying Yugoslavia but that he was a pro-Yugoslavia socialist who tried to hold his country together and who, even after the fall of the Berlin wall, operated an economy in which social ownership predominated.
For getting in the way of the West's plans for economic and military hegemony in the Balkans, Milosevic paid a heavy personal price - dying at The Hague where he was on trial for trumped-up charges of war crimes - charges bought by the very same Western countries that led the illegal bombing of his country in 1999.

PIERRE TRUDEAU

Colourful Canadian politician who led his country for all but nine months in the period 1968-84, Trudeau studied under the influential socialist professor Harold Laski at the London School of Economics.
A strong supporter of universal health care, the welfare state and workers' rights, he once wrote that socialists, "rather than water down ... their socialism, must constantly seek ways of adapting it to a bicultural society governed under a federal constitution."
Trudeau was a great advocate of detente during the cold war, leading John Lennon to remark that "if all politicians were like Pierre Trudeau, there would be world peace."

DANIEL ORTEGA

The Sandinista leader played a key role in toppling the brutal US-backed dictator Somoza in 1979 and defied US attempts to topple his radical leftist government in the 1980s.
In 1990 Ortega was defeated at the polls, but after a decade and a half of harsh neoliberal policies which saw many of the Sandinistas' progressive achievements undone, he returned as Nicaragua's president in November 2006.
At a rally to mark the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of Somoza earlier this year, Ortega warned that the US still had imperialistic designs on his country.
"They are going to try and invade Nicaragua. Come and try to invade Nicaragua! Come and try and defeat this people! But we will never be defeated."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oskar Lafontaine and Die Linke show the way


Last December, in my article 'Socialism's Comeback' in the New Statesman, I highlighted how across Europe, socialist parties-proper socialist parties- were making ground on the pro-globalist faux leftist parties that have dominated the scene for far too long.

One of the parties I discussed was Die Linke, the German party co-chaired by Oskar Lafontaine.

Die Linke's unapologetically socialist policies, which include the renation alisation of electricity and gas, the banning of hedge funds and the introduction of a maximum wage, chime with a population concerned at the dismantling of Germany's mixed economic model and the adoption of Anglo-Saxon capitalism - a shift that occurred while the SPD was in government.

Last month, Die Linke made spectacular gains in state elections in Germany, which you can read about here, while in today’s Guardian there‘s a very interesting report about the growing popularity of the party.

Die Linke is striking a chord with an increasingly disenfranchised electorate, espousing causes – such as inequality, reunification issues and, crucially, the war in Afghanistan – that are finding a receptive audience in both east and west.

While Die Linke's rivals have mercilessly attacked it for its radical wealth redistribution plans and its links to the defunct communist regime, its message is clearly getting through.

"Generally there are only a few themes that particularly distinguish most of the parties," according to Renate Köcher, joint head of the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy. "It's only really Die Linke that stands out, in particular for their critical position regarding the German economy and societal order."


The faux-left globalists favourite line of attack against Die Linke is to label them ‘populist‘, and Oskar Lafontaine a ‘populist demagogue’

And that tells you one thing: Lafontaine and Die Linke are on the right track. For when a globalist labels someone a ‘populist’ it means he/she is frightened that the person in question’s ideas - and policies -are far more popular than theirs. (Hugo Chavez is routinely labelled a ‘populist’ by the same people too.

It's because of the fact that his ideas and policies are popular- and that he is such an effective communicator- that Lafontaine is so despised by the globalists- and so feared.

I wish Die Linke all the very best in forthcoming German elections.

Politics in Germany has suddenly become very, very interesting.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kosovo and Gaza- Spot the difference


The UN reports:

"serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity."


Will 'liberal interventionists' and neocons be calling for the arrest and prosecution of Israel's leaders for war crimes, as they called for the arrest and prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic and other leading Yugoslav figures in the 1990s?

Don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: A propos of the UN report, the website Aaronovitch Watch provides us with a timely reminder of the 'Euston Manifesto', bible of the pro-war faux-left.

We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context.

They forgot to add 'except if these rights are violated by Israel'.

Monday, September 14, 2009

70% want railway renationalisation- but our neoliberal political elite say no


So there you have it. A new poll, commissioned by the RMT union, shows that 70% of the British public would like to see the railways renationalised.

"This poll... shows that the Government are miles out of step with the voters when it comes to the crucial issue of who owns and runs our transport services", says RMT leader Bob Crow.

But it's not just the Government, Bob. It's HM Opposition and the Liberal Democrats too, neither of whom support bringing the railways back into public ownership.

Earlier this summer, our friend and regular commenter Olching commented on the depressingly uniform response to the question of renationalisation of the railways on an edition of the BBC’s Question Time.

The fact that none of our leading three parties supports a measure backed by 70% of the people shows what sort of ’democracy’ operates in Britain. A ‘democracy’ where all three of those parties represent the interests of capital and not the interests of ordinary members of the public.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Serena Williams: A disgrace to tennis


Earlier this summer I remarked on the unsporting behaviour of Serena Williams after she had won the womens' title at Wimbledon. But if Williams is arrogant in victory, when facing defeat she is totally obnoxious, as she showed in the semi-final of the US Open last night. I can't remember more appalling behaviour on a tennis court, and Williams' post-match attempts to try to gloss over what she had done only showed her in an even worse light.

By contrast, Belgium's Kim Clijsters is one of the nicest, and most sporting tennis players of recent years. It's great to see come back so successfully from retirement-and great to see her beat Williams in the semi-final.

Friday, September 11, 2009

World War Two: The Just War


To initiate a war of aggression....is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.


Robert H. Jackson, Chief US Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal.

As we mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two, we should ponder very carefully Robert Jackson's words.

I hate war, but I am not a pacifist. I would defend World War Two, and the military action taken against the Third Reich and its allies for the very same reasons that I opposed the Iraq war and the NATO attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Hitler had to be stopped not because he was a dictator, but because of the way he arrogantly over-rode the sovereignty of other European countries and his contempt for international law. But in 1999 it was the NATO powers who were the illegal aggressors against Yugoslavia, and in 2003 it was the US-led coalition which attacked Iraq.

Attacking and invading other countries is wrong. Period. In international affairs the true heirs of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis are the neocons who share the little man's arrogant disregard for national sovereignty and his utter contempt for international law. And in the same way that the Nazis were brought to book at Nuremburg for committing the 'supreme international crime', of launching a war of aggression, let's hope that one day the neocon warmongers- (who at this very moment are doing all they can to propagandise for yet more aggression- this time against Iran), are also held to account for their crimes.