Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Libya and the manufacture of consent
By whitewashing the Libyan rebels and demonising the Gaddafi regime did the leading US intellectual Noam Chomsky help facilitate an imperialist invasion? In a wide-ranging interview with Chomsky, Dan Glazebrook asks him
This is a difficult interview for me. It was Noam Chomsky who first opened my eyes to the basic neo-colonial structure of the world, and to the role of the corporate media in both disguising and legitimising this structure. Chomsky has consistently demonstrated how, ever since the end of the Second World War, military regimes have been imposed on the third world by the US and its European allies with an ascribed role to keep wages low (and thus investment opportunities high) by wiping out communists, trade unionists, and anyone else deemed a potential threat to Empire. He has been at the forefront of exposing the lies and real motives behind the aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, and Serbia in recent years, and against Central America and South East Asia before that. But on Libya, in my opinion, he has been terrible.
Don’t get me wrong; now the conquest is nearly over, Chomsky can be quite forthright in his denunciation of it, as he makes clear during the interview: “right now at this moment NATO is bombing a home base of the largest tribe in Libya” he tells me, “It’s not getting reported much, but if you read the Red Cross reports they’re describing a horrifying humanitarian crisis in the city that’s under attack, with hospitals collapsing, no drugs, people dying, people fleeing on foot into the desert to try to get away from it and so on. That’s happening under the NATO mandate of protecting civilians.” What bothers me is that this was precisely the mandate that Chomsky supported.
Wesley Clark, NATO commander during the bombing of Serbia, revealed on US television seven years ago that the Pentagon had drawn up a ‘hitlist’ in 2001 of seven states they wanted to “take out” within five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. Thanks to the Iraqi and Afghan resistance, the plan has been delayed – but clearly not abandoned. We should, therefore, have been fully expecting the invasion of Libya. Given Bush’s cack-handedness over winning global support for the war on Iraq, and Obama’s declared commitment to multilateralism and ‘soft power’, we should have been expecting this invasion to have been meticulously planned in order to give it a veneer of legitimacy. Given the CIA’s growing fondness for instigating ‘colour revolutions’ to cause headaches for governments it dislikes, we should have been expecting something similar as part of the build-up to the invasion in Libya. And given Obama’s close working relationship with the Clintons, we might have expected this invasion to follow the highly successful pattern established by Bill Clinton in Kosovo: cajoling rebel movements on the ground into making violent provocations against the state, and then screaming genocide at the state’s response in order to terrorise world opinion into supporting intervention.
In other words, we should have seen it coming, and prominent and widely respected intellectuals such as Chomsky should have used their platform to publicise Wesley Clark’s revelations, to warn of the coming aggression, and to draw attention to the racist and sectarian nature of the ‘rebel movements’ the US and British governments have traditionally employed to topple non-compliant governments. Chomsky certainly did not need reminding of the unhinged atrocities of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the Nicaraguan Contras, or the Afghan Northern Alliance. Indeed, it was he who helped alert the world to many of them.
But Chomsky did not use his platform to make these points. Instead, in an interview with the BBC one month into the rebellion – and, crucially, just four days before the passing of UN Security Council 1973 and the beginning of the NATO blitzkrieg – he chose to characterise the rebellion as “wonderful”. Elsewhere he referred to Benghazi’s takeover by racist gangs as “liberation” and to the rebellion as “initially non-violent”. In an interview with the BBC, he even claimed that “Libya is the one place [in North Africa] where there was a very violent state reaction repressing the popular uprisings”, a claim so divorced from the truth it is hard to know where to begin; Mubarak is currently being prosecuted for the murder of 850 protesters, whereas, according to Amnesty International, only 110 deaths could be confirmed in Benghazi before NATO operations began – and this included pro-government people killed by rebel militia. What really makes Libya exceptional in the North African ‘Arab Spring’ is that it was the only country in which the rebellion was armed, violent, and openly aimed at facilitating a foreign invasion.
Now that Amnesty have confirmed that rebels have been using violence since the very start, and have been rounding up and executing innocent black Libyans and African migrants in droves ever since, I begin by asking him whether he now regrets at his initial public support for them.
He shrugs: “No. I’m sure what Amnesty International reports is correct - that there were armed elements among them, but notice they didn’t say that the rebellion was an armed rebellion; in fact the large majority were probably people like us [sic], middle class opponents of Gaddafi. It was mostly an unarmed uprising. It turned into a violent uprising and the killings you are describing indeed are going on, but it didn’t start like that. As soon as it became a civil war, that happened.”
In fact, it did start like that. The true colours of the rebels were made clear on the second day of the rebellion, February 18th, when they rounded up and executed a group of fifty African migrant workers in Bayda. A week later, a terrified eyewitness told the BBC of another seventy or eighty migrant workers chopped to pieces in front of his eyes by rebel forces. These incidents – and many others like them - had made clear the racist character of the rebel militias well before his BBC interview on March 15th. But Chomsky rejects this: “These things were absolutely not clear, and they weren’t reported, and even afterwards when they are reported, they’re not talking about the uprising, they’re talking about an element within it.”
This may be how Chomsky sees it, but both incidents I mentioned were carried by mainstream media outlets like the BBC, the NPR and the Guardian at the time. Admittedly, they were hidden away behind reams of anti-Gaddafi bile and justified with the usual pretext of the migrants being “suspected mercenaries” - but that’s nothing that someone with Chomsky’s expertise in analysing media could not have seen through. Moreover, the forcing out last month of the entire population of the black Libyan town of Tawarga - by Misrata militias with names like “the brigade for purging black skins” - was recently given the official blessing of NTC President Mahmoud Jibril. To present these widespread racial crimes as some kind of insignificant element seems wilfully disingenuous. But Chomsky continues to stick to his guns:
“You’re talking about what happened after the civil war took place and the NATO intervention. [I’m not]. Two points, which I’ll repeat. First of all, it wasn’t known and secondly it was a very small part of the uprising. The uprising was overwhelmingly middle class nonviolent opposition. We now know there was an armed element and that quickly became prominent after the civil war started. But it didn’t have to, so if that second intervention hadn’t taken place, it might not have turned out that way.”
Chomsky characterises the NATO intervention as having two parts. The initial intervention, authorised by the UN Security Council to prevent a massacre in Benghazi he argues, was legitimate - but the ‘second’ intervention – where the ‘imperial triumvirate’ of US, Britain and France acted as an airforce for the militias of Misrata and Benghazi in their conquest of the rest of the country – was wrong and illegal: “We should remember that there were two interventions, not one, by NATO. One of them lasted about five minutes. That’s the one that was taken under the UNSC resolution 1973, that called for a no fly zone over Benghazi when there was the threat of a serious massacre there, along with a longer term mandate of protecting civilians, and that one lasted almost no time. Almost immediately, not NATO but the three traditional imperial powers, France, Britain and the United States carried out a second intervention which had nothing to do with protecting civilians and certainly wasn’t a no fly zone, but was participation in a rebel uprising, and that’s the one we’ve been witnessing. It’s almost isolated internationally. The African countries are strongly opposed – they called for negotiations and diplomacy from the very beginning. The main independent countries – the BRICS countries – also opposed the second intervention and called for efforts at negotiations and diplomacy. Even within NATO’s limited participation outside of the triumvirate, in the Arab world, there was almost nothing; Qatar sent a couple of planes, and Egypt next door - very heavily armed - didn’t do a thing, Turkey held back for quite a while, and finally participated weakly in the triumvirate operation. So it’s a very isolated operation. They claim that it was under an Arab League request, but that’s mostly fraud. First of all the Arab League request was extremely limited and only a minority participated - just Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. They actually issued a request for two no fly zones – one over Libya, the other over Gaza. We don’t have to talk about what happened to that one.”
On most of this we agree. My argument, however, is that it was painfully clear that UNSC 1973 was intended (by the ‘imperial triumvirate’) as a figleaf for precisely the “second intervention” he decries.
“It wasn’t clear, even for those five minutes that the imperial powers accepted the resolution. It became clear a couple of days later when they immediately started bombing in support of the rebels. And it didn’t have to happen. It could have been that world opinion, most of it – BRICS, Africa, Turkey and so on - could have prevailed.”
It seems bizarrely naïve for a man of Chomsky’s insight to feign surprise when the imperial powers used UNSC 1973 for their own purposes to topple one of the governments on their hitlist. What else would they have used it for? It is somewhat exasperating; if it was anyone else I was talking to, I’d tell them to go and read some Chomsky. He would tell you that the imperial powers don’t act out of humanitarian but totalitarian impulses – to defend and extend their dominance of the world and its resources. He would tell you – I would have thought – not to expect them to implement measures designed to save civilians, because they would only take advantage and do the opposite. But apparently not.
I try again: Does Chomsky accept that his whitewashing of the rebels, and demonising of Gaddafi, in the days and weeks before the invasion was launched, may have helped to facilitate it?
“Of course I didn’t whitewash the rebels, I said almost nothing about them. The interview was before any of this – it was in the period when a decision had to be made about whether even to introduce a UN resolution to call for a no fly zone – and incidentally I said after that was passed that I think a case could be made for it, and I would still say that.”
Even after British, French and US aggression had become abundantly clear, however – on April 5th – Chomsky published another article on Libya. By this time thousands - if not tens of thousands - of Libyans had been killed by NATO bombs. This time his piece did open by criticising the British and American governments – not for their blitzkrieg, however – but for their alleged support for Gaddafi ‘and his crimes’. Does this not all feed into the demonisation that justifies and perpetuates NATO’s aggression?
“First of all, I don’t accept your description – I wouldn’t call it NATO aggression, it’s more complex that that. The initial step – the first intervention, the five minute one – I think was justifiable. There was a chance – a significant chance – of a very serious massacre in Benghazi. Gaddafi had a horrible record of slaughtering people, and that should be known – but at that point, I think the proper reaction should have been to tell the truth about what’s happening.”
I can’t help wondering why the responsibility to “tell the truth about what’s happening” only applies to Libya. Should we not also tell the truth about what is happening in the West? About its unquenchable thirst for diminishing oil and gas reserves, about its fear of an independent Africa, about its long track record of supporting and arming the most brutal gangsters against governments it wants removed – and god knows, Chomsky is familiar enough with the examples – and most importantly, about the crisis and chaos currently enveloping the entire Western economic system and leading its elites increasingly to rely on fascistic warmongering to maintain their crumbling world dominance? Isn’t all this actually a lot more pertinent to the war on Libya than recounting alleged ‘crimes’ of Gaddafi from twenty years ago?
Chomsky had an argument with James Petras in 2003 over Chomsky’s public condemnation of Cuba’s arrest of several dozen paid US agents and execution of three hijackers. Petras argued then that “Intellectuals have a responsibility to distinguish between the defensive measures taken by countries and peoples under imperial attack and the offensive methods of imperial powers bent on conquest. It is the height of cant and hypocrisy to engage in moral equivalences between the violence and repression of imperial countries bent on conquest with that of Third World countries under military and terrorist attacks.” But Chomsky has done worse than this – far from painting moral equivalences, for a long time he simply airbrushed out of the picture ALL crimes of NATO’s Libyan allies, whilst amplifying and distorting the defensive measures taken by Libya’s government in dealing with an armed US-backed rebellion.
I remind Chomsky of his comment some years back that Libya was used as a punchbag by US politicians to deflect public attention away from domestic problems: “Yeah, it was. But that doesn’t mean that it was a nice place.”
It’s a lot less “nice” now.
This article first appeared in Al Ahram Weekly.
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Thanksgiving Day literally is a holiday celebrating the beginnings of the almost total extermination of an entire race of people, commonly called "Indians" and the enslavement, continued oppression and genocide of the Afrikan, by European settlers....
For over 100 years now Black folks in the United States have joined with the descendants of the same European murder[er]s who enslaved them and systematically all but destroyed the Amer-Indian, in feasting and giving thanks to God for the "opportunity" to live in one of the most racist, imperialist, and oppressive countries on earth....
Black People celebrating Thanksgiving Day is like the Americans celebrating the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or the so-called Jews celebrating the rise of the Third Reich, or the Palestinians celebrating the intrusion of the settler colony of Zionist Israel, or moreover the millions of Zulu descendants who are being murdered by the thousands each day, celebrating the establishment of the Union of South Africa..." - Ishakamusa Barashango
Óró 'Sé do bheatha 'bhaile,
Óró 'Sé do bheatha 'bhaile,
Óró 'Sé do bheatha 'bhaile,
Anois ar theacht an tsamhraidh!
Óró 'Sé do bheatha 'bhaile,
Óró 'Sé do bheatha 'bhaile,
Óró 'Sé do bheatha 'bhaile,
Anois ar theacht an tsamhraidh!
'Sé do bheatha a bhean ba léanmhar,
B' é ár gcreach tú bheith i ngéibhinn,
Do dhúiche bhreá i seilibh meirleach...
Is tú díolta leis na Gallaibh!
Tá Gráinne Mhaol ag teacht thar sáile,
Óglaigh armtha léi mar gharda,
Gaeil iad féin is ní Gaill ná Spáinnigh...
Is cuirfidh siad ruaig ar Ghallaibh!
A bhuí le Rí na bhFeart go bhfeiceann,
Muna mbíonn beo ina dhiaidh ach seachtain,
Gráinne Mhaol is míle gaiscíoch...
Ag fógairt fáin ar Ghallaibh!
Óró! You are welcome home!
Óró! You are welcome home!
Óró! You are welcome home!
Now that summer is coming
Welcome Oh Colonel who was so afflicted,
It was our ruin that you were in bondage,
Our fine land in the possession of rats,
And sold to the foreigners
Colonel Gaddafi is coming over the sea,
Armed warriors along with him as guard,
They are Libyans, not French or English,
And they will rout the foreigners
May it please the God of Miracles that we may see,
Although we only live a week after it,
Colonel Gaddafi and a thousand warriors,
Routing out the rats and foreigners
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Leaked UN report reveals torture, lynchings and abuse in post-Gaddafi Libya
Thousands of people, including women and children, are being illegally detained by rebel militias in Libya, according to a report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Many of the prisoners are suffering torture and systematic mistreatment while being held in private jails outside the control of the country's new government.
The document, seen by The Independent, states that while political prisoners being held by the Gaddafi regime have been released, their places have been taken by up to 7,000 new “enemies of the state”, "disappeared" in a dysfunctional system, with no recourse to the law.
The report will come as uncomfortable reading for the Western governments, including Britain, which backed the campaign to oust Gaddafi. A UN resolution was secured in March in order to protect civilians from abuses by the regime, which was at the time mercilessly suppressing the uprising against the Gaddafi regime.
There was evidence, says the report by Ban Ki-moon, due to be presented to the Security Council, that both sides committed acts amounting war crimes in the bitter battle for Colonel Gaddafi's hometown, Sirte. The Secretary-General who recently visited Libya, echoes the concern expressed by many world leaders over the killing of the former dictator by rebel fighters pointing out that Gaddafi was captured alive before being put to death.
The report also stresses that it is a matter of great praise that the country has been liberated after 42 years of totalitarian rule. The victorious opposition - which formed a new interim government this week - fully intends to follow a democratic path and introduce a functioning legal system, he says. The report is due to be circulated among members of the UN Security Council, and discussed next week.
However, Ban Ki-moon also presents a grim scenario of the growing power of the armed militias that control of the streets of many towns, including those of the capital, Tripoli, and the settling of internecine feuds through gun battles resulting in deaths and injuries.
Meanwhile the lawlessness has resulted in the vast majority of the police force not being able to return to work. In the few places where they have been back on duty under experienced officers, such as Tripoli, their role has been restricted largely to directing traffic.
Libya is the only Arab uprising to have attracted direct Western military support, despite the closer links forged with the West in recent years by the Gaddafi regime. The resistance in London, Washington and elsewhere to Nato-led intervention in other Arab countries has centred largely on a lack of coherent opposition. Political backers of the air strikes in Libya had cited the National Transitional Council (NTC) as a credible alternative to the Gaddafi regime.
The scope of escalating strife, inside the country as well as the wider region, is highlighted by the caches of weapons abandoned by the regime and subsequently looted. These include shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, known as Manpads, capable of bringing down commercial airliners.
The Report of the Secretary-General on United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) states that: “Libya had accumulated the largest known stockpile of Manpads, of any non-Manpad-producing country. Although thousands were destroyed during the seven-month Nato operations, there are increasing concerns over the looting and likely proliferation of these portable defence systems, as well as munitions and mines, highlighting the potential risk to local and regional stability.”
But the continuing human rights abuses, says the Secretary-General’s report, are the most pressing concern. The report says that “while political prisoners held by the Gaddafi regime have been released, an estimated 7,000 detainees are currently held in prisons and makeshift detention centres, most of which are under the control of revolutionary brigades, with no access to due process in the absence of a functioning police and judiciary.”
Of particular worry was the fate of women being held for alleged links with the regime, often due to family connections, sometimes with their children locked up alongside them.
“There have also been reports of women held in detention in the absence of female guards and under male supervision, and of children detained alongside adults,” says the report.
A number of black Africans were lynched following the revolution following claims, often false, that they were hired guns for the Gaddafi regime. The city of Tawerga, mainly comprised of residents originally from sub-Saharan countries, was largely destroyed by rebel fighters from neighbouring Misrata. The port city had withstood a prolonged and brutal siege in the hands of the regime forces during which, it is claimed, fighters from Tawerga were particularly aggressive and brutal.
The report says that ”sub-Saharan Africans, in some cases accused or suspected of being mercenaries, constitute a large number of the detainees. Some detainees have reportedly been subjected to torture and ill treatment. Cases have been reported of individuals being targeted because of the colour of their skin.”
The document continues: “Tawergas are reported to have been targeted in revenge killings, or taken by armed men from their homes, checkpoints and hospitals, and some allegedly later abused or executed in detention. Members of the community have fled to various cities across Libya.”
The UN findings chart the vicious abuse carried out by the regime until the final days of the civil war. In a personal note in the document, Ban Ki-Moon said: “I was deeply shocked by my visit to an agricultural warehouse in the Khallital-Ferjan neighbourhood of Tripoli where elements of the Gaddafi regime had detained civilians in inhuman conditions, had subjected some to torture and had massacred as many as they could and burned their bodies.
“The international community must support the efforts to establish the fate of missing persons and to bring to justice perpetrators with the greatest responsibility for such crimes.”
TOP BOY / BULLET BOY / KIDULTHOOD / ADULTHOOD and all that other english patronising racist urban trash can go straight to hell.
WHERE IS OUR VERSION OF LA HAINE WITH ALL ITS AMAZING ACTING, STORYLINE, DIRECTION, FILMING and *POLITICAL SENSITIVITY AND MILITANCY???
Are we that slavish in england that we cant demand that our peoples in english film cant produce this and eat up urban porn trash like its good for us?
Even the riots cant produce something HALF decent? deary me.
Update from Bani Walid
[I have received this information from a third party who is in touch with people in Bani Walid - Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm]
According to a phone call to an eye witness he told me that there was ferocious fighting today (23th 11 2011).
It erupted as nato rebels came to arrest some people in the city, they came with about 20 armed cars. However this provoked the local residents so they resisted as people feel they are being targeted and ethnically cleansed for their stand against the nato intervention in Libya.
The fighting resulted in the martyrdom of 4 civilians and the death of 8 nato rebels . Four cars have been captured and three burnt by local residents.
Please we need help and support for our families who are being slaughtered in Bani Walid and other parts of our beloved Libya under the so called Libyan revolution who terorise anyone who criticises them. The media is not reporting this and is very biased.
BELOW IS A BRIEFING OF SHAKEERS VIDEO, SOME POINTS IN THERE ABOUT CRIMES OF REBELS, TURKEY AND QATAR STANCE ON SYRIA, ABUZAID DORDA
First 30 minutes:
About the thefts which the rebels throughout Libya are carrying out of cars and women's jewellery and even grave robbing according to Hamza and Shakeer.
They warn people that the Zionists want to wipe out all remnants of the Gaddafi regime from Gaddafi to his sons.
They are saying that Saif had ample opportunity to leave the country on numerous occasions but never did. Dr.Shakeer also announces that they consider Saif El Islam the through leader of the resistance and of the future of Libya, he continues in saying that even while he may have had some debates and disagreements with Saif in the past on some issues, he is confident that Saif is a patriotic man who wants what is best for his country.
They start talking about the resistance and how there are 100's of thousands of people from outside countries that have written, called and e-mailed them wanting to fight with the resistance against the Zionist movement in Libya.
Second 30 minutes:
They warn about Islamists wanting a full islamist states for the whole of North Africa, they then go on to talk about Syria and how Turkey is playing a prominent role in its invasion. They go on to insult Amr Moussa and how he conspired against Libya as the head of the Arab League saying that he wouldn’t sacrifice his 17,000 a month wage as he was breastfed from the Americans since the 60's like they breastfed Gorbochov to groom him for the destruction of the Soviet Union.
They talk about the hidden agenda and conspiracy which Qatar and Turkey are behind of backing Islamist extremists to cause heavy long term rifts between sheea and sunni muslims in the Arab world. They are simply American agents. Shakeer makes a point and says have you ever seen these Arab countries and the Arab League speak up and create laws on behalf of Palestine and the Israeli occupation of their land?
They then go on again to speak about the utter power vacuum and chaos in Tripoli, with tribes going head to head against each other, saying that young men are pulling their weapons on unarmed civilians in a threatening manner and that they should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done in Bani Walid, Sirte, Wershefanna and others and that even if they built each house that was destroyed brick by brick, compensate them with two cars for every car stolen and gave them 10 times as much jewellery as they took from their women, these people would still not accept them.
He challenged anyone from the NTC to go out publicly and accept responsibility for the destruction of Bani Walid and Sirte, saying NO ONE will because they know it was an utter crime against humanity.
Shakeer then speaks out about Abuzaid Dorda , saying that he is a true man of honour and principle and moral value who speaks the truth and is punished for the stance he has taken, he calls out to any friends he may have to stand up for him and his release. He proclaims that the accusations of his "attempted suicide" are so clearly false when considering the upstanding integrity of the man.
He is saying don’t take your anger and vengeance out on Libyan traitors, just take your anger out on any FOREIGNER on your soil, any Frenchman, Englishman or American soldier or plain clothed soldier that you may come across.
The rest of the video is muted and I think it was just a re-feed of the previous hour. The above are the main points, a lot of which is repeated throughout the program.
Gaddafi's youngest son still alive: NTC source
BENGHAZI, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Libyan fallen leader Muammar Gaddafi's youngest son Khamis is still alive, Libyan defense ministry source told Xinhua on Monday.
According to the high-ranking official who requested anonymity, Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam told ruling National Transitional Council's (NTC) forces that his little brother Khamis is still alive.
The NTC forces have located Khamis' whereabout in Terhouna, a city 90km southeast of Tripoli, and are expected to capture him in the coming hours, the defense ministry official said.
Gaddafi's second son Saif al-Islam, who had been wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity, was arrested in Sebha in southern Libya on Saturday. His confession has led to the capture of former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, another key figure in Gaddafi's regime.
Khamis' death was announced several times since Libya's conflict erupted. The NTC fighters claimed Khamis' death in the southeast of Tripoli on Aug. 29, an allegation later "confirmed" by a pro-Gaddafi Syrian television station.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Hes actually being treated exceptionally well here brother Sukant. The zintan brigades leader, the short guy says we need to get him some medicine and ordered someone to make a run out to the hospital for supplie, Saif then asks "is this taping", the guy replies in a very polite way , I think we have the right to videotape you and Saif said nothing. Some of the rebels keep asking him if hes ok and he replies "good thank God" and then they say "we have water or juice" "which would you like" and they also said we are preparing dinner for you.... but I think Saif refuses the offer of dinner. Then at the very end he is telling them some of his story.
It is VERY VERY interesting because they sincerely seem to be treating him well. As I was telling ********, the Zintan brigade have been painted in a very bad light recently, being accused of robbery, killings, rapes etc. over the past 2 months in Tripoli... so it may be a tactic to clean up their image by over NICENESS or there could be something else going on. Honestly, I have no idea.
Sons of Malcolm's close Brother James Stuart comments...
From one side of Clinton's mouth.."We are not trying to curb China or anyone else,"
...and from he other side of her mouth, but in the very same breath...
"What were trying to do is, number one, to make it absolutely clear, if there were any doubt, that the United States is a Pacific power, and that we have historically been one.
"We will be for this century as well, and that means were going to be active economically, diplomatically, politically, in every way you can imagine."
A clearer threat there could not be. The "Project for a New American Century" has just been revised slightly in light of the rash, and nearly fatal over-reach of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld years. The Obama/Clinton revision as being demonstrated with the "Arab Spring" and most acutely against Libya, is in essence a reboot of the KLA/Yugolsav campaign of 1999.
The new phase of NATO military containment of China now begins in earnest. Can we expect the Islamists, now back in alliance with their old paymaster after the removal of OBL, to step up their campaign in China, esp in Xinjiang, with new attempts at a "jasmine revolution" in cosmopolitan China and perhaps the promoting of "free" unions to stir up economic unrest and destabilise the economy? And of course the liberal cause celebre of Tibet is always ready to be stirred up.
QUESTION: James Stuart, do you think they are planning to attack China? Presumably they will need to get their missile shield in place before they risk it. But is that possible? Or is the whole missile shield project all bluff?
QUESTION: James Stuart, do you think they are planning to attack China? Presumably they will need to get their missile shield in place before they risk it. But is that possible? Or is the whole missile shield project all bluff?
ANSWER: While I dont think you can rule anything out, I dont think they would launch a full on war, it would be insane. However if they were going to then really the window of opportunity they have to do so and to be sure of military victory is shortening by the year, so it is a case of now or never. Leave it ten years and China will be a fair match for the US.
I think it is more likely they will either try and drag China into a regional conflict with one of their local allies and wage a proxy war to tie China down and degrade it militarily and financially. Ive often said that the US will fight China right down to the last Indian. But recently China has managed a degree of raproachment with India which has tempered the increasing hostility we were seeing just a couple of years back. Nevertheless an India-China war is a strong medium-to-long term prospect.
Rather than a direct military onslaught, I would expect to see greater econimic pressure on China, a stepping up of the "human rights" facade, the promotion of regional seperatism and an attempt to trap China into an arms race, probably by greater sales of weapons to regional rivals (which of course boosts the US economy), perhaps leading to some regional conflicts. Alongside this we will see more attempts at stirring up the "jasmine revolution" in China, and probably with greater success, in the DPRK. The Korean peninsular will remain the main flashpoint focus, alongside Taiwan.
If the western powers do go to war with Iran, and manage a swift military resolution, then I would say the chances of a direct conflict with China would rise dramatically.
However, I am not yet convinced direct military conflict with Iran is inevitable. We have been here several times over the last decade with Iran. Again, I would suggest regional conflict is more in the western powers interest, Turkey, Israel and possibly "free" Syria being obvious candidates.
Israel is sitting very pretty at the moment. I think the best evidence that the "Arab Spring" was never a genuine movement is that Israel did not move during the Egypt events. If there was a genuinely revolutionary takeover in Egypt, does anyone think Israel would allow it? Never, not ever, will Israel allow themselves to be put into that position again re Egypt. Israel would have gone all out to back Mubarak. But they sat back and kept very quiet.
The "Arab Spring" has also very effectively pacified Hamas and Hezbullah, bringing them onside in Egypt and Libya and effectively splitting them over Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood is shown toothless and compromised in Egypt. The Palestine issue looks to finally be on the verge of being settled, for now anyway, and on Israel's terms and with PLO/Fatah AND increasingly Hamas on message.
The only problem Israel really has now is Iran. Now it is wrong to overplay Iran's military capabilities. t is at least 3 generations behind Israel, let alone the US in tech. It is barely better off militarily than Iraq was in 1990, and the US is a generation futher on from then.
However, a war with Iran would be messy and hugely destabilising. Whilst it is no doubt tempting, the current US administration is wary of being trapped in the overstretch and quagmire that crippled the Bush regime. So, again we can expect to see more of what we are seeing now, increased terrorism and assassinations within Iran, international political and economic isolation, external military pressure (short of all out war but possibly including some limited strikes, possibly from Israel and/or Turkey or even NATO under pretext of UN or some other contrived cover) and a stirring up of another wave of the colour revolutions, this time marketed as the ultimate culmination of the "Arab Spring".
As regards the missile shield, whilst it is being based around Russia, and it is Russia that is, quite rightly, being most vocal in its consternation, it is actually pretty ineffective against an all out missile attack from Russia. There is no way that any missile interceptor system could reliably take out thousands of warheads. Just one nuke getting through would be enough to end it for any US or European administration.
Which is why the Obama administration is so keen on restarting the START programme, to massively reduce both US and Russian warhead stockpiles, particularly concerning ICBM megaton city killers. Whilst this might sound like a good thing, it is actually increasing the chance of nuclear way. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) wasnt so crazy after all. The US wants to have a free hand to use "small" kiloton and sub-kiloton range tactical nuclear weapons. It cannot do so if it faces any prospect of being on the receiving end of retaliatory strikes. Waging war without the prospect of any civilian casualties on home turf is essential to the western powers. Any nation that can inflict even a several thousand casualties on a western power will not be attacked.
The US needs to disarm Russia - but primarily the missile shield would only offer protection against a possible Iranian bomb, and of course China, which has a small nuclear deterrent, not enough to financially cripple it (as with the USSR) but enough to wipe out enough US cities and regional military bases to make an attack political and economic suicide. The missile shield is of course being built in the Pacific also, so the real target is once again clear.
Which brings us back to why it is so important that no independent country be either threatened or soft talked into giving up its ability to defend itself outwith its borders.
Having said all of the above, we are living through a very unstable period, where really all bets are off. If the western economic collapse deepens, as it looks almost certain to do, then we are back in 1930s territory. And we all know where that ended...
COMMENT TO James: Your point that war against China would have to be now/ very soon or never is a thought that I have been having often recently. Combined with your other point that all bets are off - and the fact that the West seems to be hurriedly eliminating all possible suppliers and allies of China - it seems like a possibilty they are certainly considering
ANSWER: Yes they do, but how seriously? Certainly no european power would fancy getting involved, it would be economic and military suicide, but the US most likely still fancies its chances. The US could clearly beat China in a war - on the US's terms.
This... "I think it is more likely they will either try and drag China into a regional conflict with one of their local allies and wage a proxy war to tie China down and degrade it militarily and financially." was meant to be an" either/or".I forgot to give the "or...".
The" or..." option was that the US may risk a direct military fight with China as long as it could keep the fight off the Chinese mainland - so that is where Korea and Taiwan come in. All out war including the Chinese mainland would be WWIII. But a direct conflict, kept regional based on Taiwan or Korea is fightable, and the US have strong reason to beleive winnable for them - and without risking civilian casualties on the US (obviously mass civilian casualties in Korea or Taiwan are a perfectly acceptable price to pay for "freedom.)
However, China is now in a position to seriously damage any US fleet in the region and the US will not risk losing any major naval vessels. If the US lost an aircraft carrier - a real prospect with current PLA hardware - then that would be politically and militarily untenable and would either lead to political crisis in the US - or all out war. If the US is prepared to take serious losses it can still potentially win a regional war with China. But there is no sign yet that the US is politically prepared to do so.
English-speaking pupils are a minority in inner-city London primary schools
Children who speak English as their first language are now a minority in inner-city London primary schools, official figures showed yesterday.
Youngsters with a different mother tongue form a majority in primaries in 13 out of 33 London boroughs and in nearby Slough.
In inner London, 54 per cent of primary pupils and 48.5 per cent in secondary institutions do not speak English as their first language. This amounts to an astonishing 159,340 children.
Across the country, English is a foreign language to more than one in seven primary youngsters - almost half a million.
The figures from the Department for Children, Schools and Families point to the major demographic changes over the past few decades. Around a fifth of pupils are from ethnic minorities - up from 11 per cent in 1997.
There are concerns that school finances are under strain as growing numbers of youngsters require help with English.
Heads' leaders have urged the Government to fund schools adequately and give fair treatment during inspections to those with large concentrations of non-English speakers.
The figures show there are 14 council areas in which primary children with English as their second language are in the majority - 13 London boroughs and Slough.
In Tower Hamlets almost four out of five youngsters do not have English as their mother tongue. In other areas, including Leicester, Luton and Bradford the proportion is approaching 50 per cent.
For primaries overall, 15.2 per cent are non-native English speakers - up from 14.4 per cent last year.
The figures indicate that many recent migrants have settled in London. The lowest populations of youngsters with English as a second language are in the South West and North East.
Sir Andrew Green, of the Migrationwatch think-tank, said: 'These figures confirm the huge impact immigration is having on our society.
When Government funds are as tight as they are, this is bound to have a negative impact as children with English as an additional language will need extra tuition.'
He added: 'In inner London it's hard to know who immigrant children are supposed to integrate with since they heavily outnumber local children.'
The figures reflect a five-fold increase in immigration since Labour came to power. Net immigration has increased from 48,000 in 1997 to 237,000 in 2007.
A DCSF spokesman stressed that the figures 'only indicate the language to which the child was initially exposed at home, irrespective of whether they speak English fluently later on. It is only a relatively few recent arrivals for whom communication problems are acute.'
'We are increasing funding in the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant to £206million by 2010, to bring students weak in English up to speed. We also equip schools to offer effective English as an Additional Language teaching for new arrivals.'
Yesterday's figures also showed that the recession has brought the first rise in four years in the number of children qualifying for free school meals.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
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Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Libya: revolutionaries turn on each other as fears grow for law and order
Hundreds of revolutionaries fought each other at a hospital in Tripoli early on Monday, in the biggest armed clash between allies since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
The fighting fuelled growing fears that nobody is in control of thousands of swaggering armed men who are still based in Tripoli and that the country's interim government will struggle to impose law and order.
Two people died from bullet wounds and at least seven fighters were injured during a battle that started when militia from the town of Zintan were stopped by guards from the Tripoli Brigade from entering the city's Central Hospital to kill a patient.
The hospital front door and entrance hall were afterwards left pocked with bullets, doctors and patients had to flee the building and two elderly patients died of heart attacks during the shooting, which lasted from about 1am until dawn. Heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft guns were used by both factions, supposed allies who in reality nurse a dangerous rivalry.
The shoot-out started when a group of gunmen arrived at the hospital in search of a man they had shot earlier in the night. Witnesses said the gunmen were drunk, and had come to finish the man off after learning that he had survived and been taken for medical treatment.
Doctors asked them to leave, at which point one of them pulled out a pistol and began shooting.
"He was overpowered, but then hundreds of Zintan men arrived outside the hospital with heavy weapons and shooting started," said Mohamad Hamza, a Tripoli Brigade fighter in charge of security. "We had to call for backup, and our boys came from all over Tripoli.
"We couldn't believe that they were shooting at us. I had to say to them, you are shooting at a hospital, not at Muammar Gaddafi's 32nd Brigade. Eventually, after several hours, a Shaikh came from the mosque and persuaded them to stop and they handed over three of them who started it to Tripoli's military council."
He said one Zintan fighter and a passer-by were killed in shooting, and seven Tripoli Brigade men were injured, two seriously. He said he believed Zintan injured were taken to other hospitals.
The incident will raise pressure on the fragile National Transitional Council to disarm the former rebel fighters who are still at large in Libya's capital, even though they were asked to leave weeks ago and have been ordered to give up their heavy weapons.
The Zintan brigades were some of the most ferocious fighters against Gaddafi's forces and helped lead the attack on Tripoli, but have outstayed their welcome, earning a reputation for mayhem and looting.
Thousands of them have ignored pleas to go, staying put instead of returning to their town in the mountains three hours drive to the south.
The battle came on the day Human Rights Watch warned in a report that the entire population of 30,000 people from the town of Tawargha, near Misurata, has been driven out by former rebels for siding with Gaddafi. There have been reports that some of its men, who are predominantly black-skinned, may have been shot or beaten.
Tripoli's residents fear that there will be more clashes in their city, which is desperate to get back to normality. Mr Hamza, in charge of security at the hospital, said he expected more trouble. "I think it will happen again," he said. "They will be back for revenge."
Peter Cole, Libya analyst with the International Crisis Group, said: “Rivalry between brigades from different cities has not been resolved and it does now pose a threat to Libya’s security.
“This suggests that the National Transitional Council needs to work harder with the militia groups to bring unity among them.”
The fighting came on the day that Nato formally ended operations in Libya.
The military action, unprecedented in setting out from the beginning to win a war while guaranteeing not to use troops to do so, was declared a success by Nato’s chief. “At midnight tonight, a successful chapter in Nato’s history is coming to an end,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary-general and a former Danish prime minister, said at a press conference with the interim Libyan president, Mustafa Abdul Jalil.
Libya’s interim leadership meanwhile elected an academic from Tripoli as the country’s new interim prime minister.
Abdel-Rahim al-Keeb was chosen by the National Transitional Council and will appoint a new Cabinet in coming days. The new government is to run Libya in the coming months and to pave the way for general elections.