Tag Archives: Middle East

Corbyn wants us out of the ‘cycle of hate’; Cameron wants to extend it

In talking about the “cycle of violence and hate”, Jeremy Corbyn has been expanding on a theme – that we must cut off the supply of money and weapons to extremists.

In This Writer’s opinion, Corbyn is referring to this cycle:

cycle of hate

It seems clear that the appropriate starting point is at the bottom, where it says: “Allied based manufacturers supply weapons to the extremists.” This is one of the events Mr Corbyn wants to stop.

By contrast, David Cameron wants Parliament to support air strikes in Syria. See the segment that says “Allies respond to extremism by bombing Middle Eastern targets”?

This is only to be expected from a man who has led at least one trade delegation to the Middle East in order to sell weapons.

Clearly, Cameron is part of the problem and Corbyn is offering the solution.

Jeremy Corbyn has said that Britain must not be “drawn into responses that feed a cycle of violence and hate” following the terror attacks in Paris.

The Labour leader told a regional party conference in Bristol on Saturday that governments “must not keep making the same mistakes” following atrocities such as the series of attacks in the French capital that left 130 people dead.

However, Corbyn said Labour would back every necessary measure to ensure Britons were safe. “The dreadful Paris attacks make the case for a far more urgent effort to reach a negotiated settlement of the civil war in Syria and the end to the threat from Isis,” he said.

“It is the conflict in Syria and the consequences of the Iraq war which have created the conditions for Isis to thrive and spread its murderous rule,” he added. “For the past 14 years, Britain has been at the centre of a succession of disastrous wars that have brought devastation to large parts of the wider Middle East. They have increased, not diminished, the threats to our own national security in the process.”

Corbyn had been due to give his speech last weekend but cancelled it in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Source: Jeremy Corbyn: Paris attacks must not draw us into cycle of hate | Politics | The Guardian

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Terrorism, Islam, and the need to keep the Western world in fear

Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].

IS militants, doing exactly what the western powers want them to do, in order to maintain fear of terrorism among (for example) British citizens. [Image: AFP/Getty].

Does anybody else think the reaction to the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo – along with that against ISIS (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days), Al-Qaeda and, for that matter, Russia – has been, at the very least, off-colour?

Terrorists attack the staff of a magazine, claiming to be doing so in the name of Islam (we have no proof that this was their purpose and may never have it), so there’s a huge backlash against Muslims and the same magazine’s next issue – with a cover featuring a poor (yet still offensive) attempt at caricaturing Muhammad himself – sells five million copies; its normal circulation is 60,000.

Here in the UK, David Cameron does his best to use the attack as an excuse for even greater government intrusion into citizens’ privacy, on top of the incursions already enacted by his government.

Is it really about keeping us safe, or is it about keeping us down?

Some have argued that the western military-industrial complex has a vested interest in providing the public with a state-sponsored bogeyman to fear. During the Cold War it was the USSR. Immediately after Soviet Communism (which must not be confused with socialism) collapsed, the west went to war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – a regime formerly supported by the USA. Since then we’ve had 911, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 7/7, Libya, Syria and Islamic State. While this has been going on, the western media seem to be stirring up fear of Putin’s Russia.

Isn’t that only to be expected from a coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs*?

There is no doubt that the British people are kept safe by the efforts of our security services – it is important that this should not be misunderstood. Many of the threats mentioned a couple of paragraphs above have been real.

But they aren’t anywhere near as serious as certain extremely rich people and organisations want us to think they are. Look at Iraq – Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction at all! He was found in a hole, living on ‘fun-size’ Mars bars (if certain writers are to be believed**).

It seems clear that there is a system of control being exercised upon us here. You can see it for yourself, evidenced by the fact that we never seem to find ourselves clear of any threats; there’s always another one on the horizon and it’s always important for us to give up more of our civil liberties in order to fight it – and of course, we pay for all the weapons and ammunition used, with our taxes.

So, looking at this objectively, we should be asking ourselves: Who is the greater threat?

As far as the Islamic extremists are concerned, if we lived in a rational world there would be a strong argument for someone to go and speak to them (under a white flag or whatever it took to be heard) and point out a few important facts: The western military has enough firepower to turn the Middle East into a scorched crater if it wants to do so. The reason it doesn’t is it needs you to be the equivalent of a pantomime villain, to be defeated at regular intervals on the evening news. The West will never defeat you completely, because you’re too useful for making a profit for the arms dealers and for keeping western citizens under control. You are, therefore, nothing but toys. The only way to defeat this strategy is to disengage completely; stop the violence against the west that will never, ever succeed and find better solutions to your problems.

If we lived in a rational world, they would agree.

Wouldn’t you like to live in that world, instead of this?

*As described in Revolution, by Russell Brand. Cheers for looking it up, Russell.

**Cheers again, Russell.

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How appropriate that a man who perverted justice is urging Cameron to war

140818huhne

Less than a day after this blog said David Cameron was waiting for media coverage to make war in the Middle East palatable to the people again, an article appears urging him to make war in the Middle East – by Chris Huhne.

That’s right, Chris Huhne – a former Liberal Democrat politician who had to resign his position as Energy Secretary in Cameron’s Coalition cabinet after being convicted of perverting the course of justice by trying to pretend his former wife had been speeding, not himself.

Huhne had maintained his innocence right up to the beginning of the trial, when he changed his plea to admit guilt. Apparently the public is supposed to accept the advice of this weaselly creature, writing in The Guardian.

That’s right, The Guardian – if ever a newspaper should know better than to publish warmongering propaganda, it’s The Guardian, which tries to be the voice of reason in an ever-feverish British press. Admittedly, this is an opinion piece in the paper’s ‘Comment is free’ column. Nevertheless, it is ill-advised and editor Alan Rusbridger should have thought twice before playing into David Cameron’s hands in this way.

The article itself reads like a response to yesterday’s Vox Political piece, which stated that Cameron, stung by his defeat over Syria, was waiting for public opinion to be turned back on-side by media support for British military intervention in Iraq.

And what’s the title of the Huhne piece? ‘David Cameron must get over his Syria humiliation and act on Iraq’. How swiftly the prophecies of Yr Obdt Srvt fulfil themselves these days… No crystal ball required, either.

Huhne, whose Parliamentary voting record shows he strongly supported an investigation into the last Iraq war, seems to have undergone a complete reversal of opinion since Cameron lost that famous vote on Syria, almost a year ago. Perhaps he’s had a “Road to Damascus” moment, to use a Biblical reference.

“Britain has so far done little except tip food parcels out of military transport; the last week has been notable for dither and delay,” he writes. “There have been no British air strikes… Such is the shadow of the government’s parliamentary defeat on the Syrian intervention.”

He argues that Cameron must try to represent “both strands” that identify Tories: “the Whig imperialists who believe in muscular intervention in good international causes; and the Tory nationalists who want nothing if it does not serve narrowly defined British interests.

“It is a debate that has raged throughout Tory history, most famously pitting Winston Churchill against Neville Chamberlain on appeasement.”

Hold on that thought; so now Huhne is comparing IS, still a relatively low concern to anybody outside its own backyard, with the German Nazis of the 1930s and the huge threat to lives and freedom that they posed?

That’s a step too far, too quickly. Huhne should have thought about what he was saying. Trying to connect IS with the greatest enemy this country has ever faced is a ridiculous step too far, utterly disproportionate and clearly manipulative. And nobody has any interest in appeasing Islamic State.

He is calling on us to make an emotional decision based on a grossly misjudged comparison.

The irony is that he didn’t need to do it. The arguments speak for themselves. His claim that “regional powers joining to meet their responsibilities” could solve the IS question is reasonable. This blog stated yesterday that an international alliance could surround IS and choke it to death, ending its threat forever.

But, ultimately, that is not what Huhne is demanding. He wants Cameron to rush in, do another quick-fix, and set up the pieces for another conflict – possibly bloodier – further down the line. This is odd, because there are no military suppliers among Huhne’s business interests.

The bottom line is that nobody should support military action on the basis of what is written here.

It would be a crime for British troops to go back to Iraq on such a pretext – especially when urged to do so by this petty criminal.

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Cameron’s ‘incoherent’ response to IS hides a plan for another war

Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].

Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].

David Cameron has no strategy to protect Christians who are threatened by violent religious groups like IS, and his policy is determined by the “loudest media voice”, according to the Church of England.

There’s no arguing with it. A letter from the Bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, endorsed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, points out that Cameron’s UK has turned its back on the suffering of tens of thousands of Christians fleeing IS jihadists in Mosul, Iraq’s second city, while the government responded promptly to reports of Yazidis trapped on Mt Sinjar.

The letter also condemns Cameron’s failure to offer sanctuary to Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes, when the French and Germans have already done so. Parliamentary questions tabled last month to find out whether the UK intends to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians have lain unanswered. Perhaps this is a political decision as Cameron thinks more foreigners coming here will push up support for UKIP; if so, that would support the Church’s view that he is reacting to the media, rather than following his own policy.

In fact, Cameron’s approach is becoming clearer. He wants to involve us in another war.

But, burned by his defeat in Parliament last year over Syria, he is taking a ‘softly, softly’ approach.

Having sent humanitarian aid to Iraq, he wrote in today’s Sunday Telegraph that this was not enough.

“He warns that Britain will have to use its ‘military prowess’ to help defeat ‘this exceptionally dangerous’ movement, or else terrorists with ‘murderous intent’ will target people in Britain,” the Telegraph report states.

Didn’t Tony Blair also use the possibility of a threat to the UK to cajole Britain into supporting the last round of wars in the Middle East? The antagonist may change but it seems the script does not.

In fact it is true that something must be done about IS. A lawless gang of murderers is setting up a lawless state in parts of Iraq and Syria that have been weakened by wars we either fought or did nothing to prevent – and fears that they could radicalise gullible Brits and send them home to carry out terrorist acts on our soil are real.

What is needed is a co-ordinated response from all law-abiding powers – not just in the west but Middle-Eastern countries and others. IS is the political equivalent of a rabid animal; its members don’t care who they attack, as long as they cause maximum harm, and every country in the world should be aware of this.

Cameron potters around the edges instead, following the same plan the UK always uses.

We could have sorted out these problems before withdrawing from Iraq a few years ago. We could have done it in the 1990s, after the first Gulf War. We could have sorted them out at any time before then – and with greater ease, but that does not suit a western industrial complex that is geared towards perpetuating warfare.

Cameron’s attitude is media-driven. His defeat over Syria has led him to revise his strategy, waiting for public opinion to be swayed by media reports of the bloodshed taking place abroad, stoked by fears that it could happen here in Blighty. When the public is supportive again, he can announce action – but only just enough action to keep the Middle Eastern countries at odds with each other, making further military conflicts inevitable.

Today, it seems he has decided he can act, if comments like “we need a firm security response, whether that is military action to go after the terrorists, international co-operation on intelligence and counter-terrorism or uncompromising action against terrorists at home” are to be believed.

Cameron also wrote that this is a “struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology, which I believe we will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime.”

His political lifetime will end in May 2015, so he’s right about that.

It seems his evil strategy for the Middle East will continue to affect the region long after the end of his physical lifetime, too.

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Are they having a laugh? Mail suggests people are confusing Gaza for ‘Gazza’

This is a genuine tweet.

This is a genuine tweet.

Another Mail hoax – or does this one have the ring of truth? You decide:

“Fans of former England footballer Paul Gascoigne, popularly known as ‘Gazza’, were left confused and fearing for his future as a Free Gaza campaign took off online,” according to Mail on Sunday reporter Stephanie Linning.

“Tweets with the hashtag #freegaza have been trending on Twitter in response to the violence in the Middle East, with users using their posts to urge Israeli forces to stop their assault on the Gaza Strip.

“But followers of the troubled player, who has become known for his battles with alcohol and drugs, mistakenly thought that he had been arrested and that the campaign was in support of his freedom.”

Readers who are familiar with the Mail – both Daily and on Sunday – will be aware of its apparent determination to become the nation’s purveyor of bizarre fictional ‘news’, in the wake of the Sunday Sport. Amazingly this story seems to have a basis in reality, as it featured images of tweets sent by real people.

“Confused fans took to Twitter to write messages that used the hashtag #freegaza, while others changed the hashtag to read #freegazza,” the story continued.

“One loyal fan posted on the social network: ‘Didn’t know the great man had been locked up, but I am jumping on the bandwagon #FreeGazza’.

“Others turned to the social network for answers. One user wrote: ‘What has Paul Gascoigne done now has he been arrested #freegaza’.”

Meanwhile, on another social network (Facebook) an altogether better-considered commenter, sharing the story, lamented the fact that “these people have the vote”.

Perhaps that’s why the Tories get elected, and why the Green Party doesn’t…

These people see “Conservative” on the ballot paper and think it says “Conservationist”.

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Syria: The right decision for the wrong reason?

A statesman emerges: Ed Miliband's decisions on Syria have revealed courage and determination to do what is right. They show he has the potential to be a great British statesman.

A statesman emerges: Ed Miliband’s decisions on Syria have revealed courage and determination to do what is right. They show he has the potential to be a great British statesman.

It looked as though we were all heading for another pointless adventure in the Middle East, but a day in politics really is a long time, isn’t it?

On Tuesday evening, there seemed to be consensus. The leaders of the main UK political parties had met to discuss the situation in Syria – in particular the evidence that an attack involving chemical weapons had taken place – and had parted in broad agreement that military action was warranted in order to discourage the use of such devices.

But then Labour’s Ed Miliband changed his mind. It seems likely he held a meeting with members of his own party who helped him devise an alternative plan.

In his blog on Tuesday, Michael Meacher laid down several reasons for delaying any new military adventure:

  • The UN weapons inspectors currently working in Syria have not had enough time to find conclusive proof of chemical weapon use. Attacking on the basis of the evidence we currently hold would be reminiscent of the attack on Iraq, where we were assured Saddam Hussein held weapons of mass destruction. We later discovered – to our shame – that he did not;
  • Where 100,000 citizens have already been killed by conventional means, it seems extremely odd to use the deaths of 1,000 by other means as an excuse to wade into the fray; and
  • What about international law? How would Russia and China react if the UN Security Council, on which they both sit, rejected military action but the UK – along with the USA and others – went ahead with it anyway? And wouldn’t this light a powder keg in the Middle East, kicking off a larger, regional conflict – the outcome of which cannot be predicted?

Mr Miliband concluded that it would be far better to wait for stronger evidence and he notified David Cameron that he would be tabling an amendment on Syria when Parliament is recalled today (Thursday). This would insist that a vote should be taken only after the weapons inspectors have delivered their report. He said Parliament should only agree criteria for action – not write a blank cheque (for those who want war).

This writer was delighted – the decision was almost exactly what I had suggested when I responded to a poll on the LabourList blog site, although I had added in my comment that the only decision open to Parliament was to offer humanitarian aid to non-combatants affected by the fighting between the different Syrian factions.

The decision indicated not only that Labour had learned its lesson from the Blair-era decisions to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, but that Mr Miliband had also paid attention to the will of the British people; those opposing another war outnumber those supporting it by around two to one.

Mr Cameron was now in a very difficult position as, without Labour’s support and with only limited backing from his own party, it was entirely possible that he would be defeated if he suggested military action in the Commons today.

Defeat in a major vote is, of course, something that no government voluntarily provokes. He had no choice but to change his mind, and now Parliament is being recalled to approve humanitarian aid and agree to the course of action put forward by Mr Miliband.

So now all my wishes appear likely to be granted.

It is the correct decision. But it was not the decision Cameron wanted. He wanted war.

It is also a decision that has been clearly dictated by the actions of the Opposition leader. Let’s make no bones about it, Ed Miliband called this tune and David Cameron danced to it.

Let’s look at what Michael Meacher had to say about this. It is illuminating because it comes from a backbencher who has been outspoken in criticism of Mr Miliband in the past. He wrote in his blog: “It singles out Ed Miliband as a man of inner strength and integrity who can take the gritty decisions when they are most needed, and this is undoubtedly one of those times… The hardest thing for a Leader of the Opposition to do, bereft of any executive authority, is to challenge the prevailing structure of power and change it or even overturn it. No other Opposition Leader has succeeded in this as well as Ed Miliband.

“We have already seen him take on Murdoch over BSkyB and stop the biggest concentration of media power in UK history in its tracks, and then almost single-handedly block the press counter-attack against Leveson which would have left newspapers as unaccountable as ever.”

So it seems we will see the right decision taken, albeit for the wrong reasons – thanks to the courage, leadership and statesmanship of Mr Miliband.

There’s just one further question: If the big decision is being taken after the weapons inspectors report back, and they are unlikely to do so until Monday (we’re told)… That’s after MPs were scheduled to return to Parliament. The emergency recall is therefore an unnecessary extravagance.

I wonder how much MPs will be allowed to claim for it on expenses?

(Note: This has been written while events continue to develop. All information was accurate at the time of writing.)

Life and death issues – Labour’s living wage v another Tory weapons junket

We’re all about the money: David Cameron is in the Middle East, hawking our jet fighters to foreign powers.

It’s a matter of priorities.

On the left hand, we have the Labour Party, campaigning strongly for the so-called “living wage” – an earnings level for British workers that will provide enough for them to look after their families, heat their homes, feed their kids, care for their elderly relatives and plan for the future (as Ed Miliband was set to say at a speech today).

On the right hand, we have Conservative leader (and comedy Prime Minister) David Cameron, off on a junket to the Middle East in a bid to sell Typhoon fighter jets to Arab nations.

… Because that always works well for us, doesn’t it? (/sarcasm)

Conservatives have been selling weapons to foreign countries for decades. We know that 16 British firms were listed as having supplied arms to Iraq (the information is in a 12,000-page dossier the Iraqis kindly supplied to the UN in 2003). It has been alleged that one of the arms dealers involved in those sales was Mark Thatcher, son of the former Conservative Prime Minister. It’s a certainty that these companies were making their sales while the Conservatives were in power during the 1980s and 1990s, and probably benefited from Conservative government trade missions.

Perceptive readers will, at this point, assert that Labour governments have also sold to foreign powers, and this is true. I have been able to find evidence of sales to India and to Israel during Tony Blair’s controversial premiership.

It’s a very murky subject and nobody in British politics can say their hands are clean.

The best I can suggest is that Labour didn’t sell arms to anyone who was likely to use them on British citizens. The Conservatives were indiscriminate (and we know – or at least have good reason to believe – that arms sold to Iraq were indeed used against British soldiers).

Cameron himself has already earned adverse media coverage for selling arms to countries with questionable human rights records – in other words, those that might use those weapons on their own citizens. He has tried to talk these claims down –

– but it is telling that he has made damn sure there will be minimal media coverage of this trip. Downing Street has spent two years trying to restrict media access to the PM’s overseas visits, making him the only G7 leader who is not accompanied abroad by a full press corps. The preferred total is just one broadcaster (presumably, one who has been specially selected by Downing Street and who is, therefore “one of us”).

The deals Cameron hopes to make are said to be worth more than £6 billion to the UK. However, considering this government’s miserable record in tackling tax evasion and avoidance, one wonders how much of that will make it into the Treasury.

Contrast this secrecy with the full-on publicity campaign for the living wage, under way courtesy of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, here in Blighty. The living wage is £7.45 per hour (outside London; £8.30 within the capital) – only a little more than £1 above the minimum wage, but it could make a big difference to workers across the country.

For every £1 spent in the private sector on getting workers up to the living wage, around 50 pence of that would come back to the government in savings on tax credits and benefits, and in higher tax revenue. In other words, it would help pay off the national deficit and debt.

“The living wage isn’t an idea that came from politicians,” says Mr Miliband in his speech today. “Or from academics in thinktanks.

“It came from working people themselves. People who recognised that they were giving their all for organisations that could afford to pay just a little bit more to give dignity to them, but who weren’t doing so. People who recognised that their firms might be more likely to succeed if they did.

“Our economy is not working for working people but just for a few at the top – a few taking ever-more of a share of the national cake, while other people struggle more and more to make ends meet.

Mr Cameron’s arms junket is living proof of the truth of those words.

Postscript: In his speech, Mr Miliband lists Labour councils that have introduced the living wage. I’m happy to add that Powys County Council, although independently-run, has pledged to research the possibility of introducing the living wage at the earliest opportunity.