Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

A History of Racism in the Islamic Middle East

May 27, 2022

Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East: An Historical Enquiry (Oxford: OUP 1990).

Bernard Lewis is a veteran scholar of Islam, and this book is an examination of the emergence and development of predominantly Muslim Arab racism in the Middle East. The book is a reworking of two previous studies from the 1970s, one of which was first published in French. It started off as part of an academic examination of intolerance, concentrating on religious bigotry. Lewis, however, believed that issue had been solved and so moved on to racial intolerance. Unfortunately, as the past fifty years have unfortunately shown, religious hatred and bigotry has certainly not died out, as shown here in Britain with the sectarian violence in Ulster.

Arab Ethnic Identity Before Colour Prejudice

Islam is viewed as an anti-racist religion, and the Qur’an states categorically that Blacks and Whites are both equal and should be treated as such. This admirable attitude was maintained by its theologians and jurists. However, with the emergence and expansion of the Islamic empires this began to change and prejudice and racism, based initially in ethnic differences and then on skin colour, emerged. The book argues that the pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arabs, like the other nations around them, had a strong sense of their own superiority against those of the surrounding peoples. This was based on ethnicity, not colour. A variety of colours were used to describe the variations in human complexion, and were used in relative rather than absolute terms. Thus the Arabs saw themselves as black compared to the ‘red’ Persians, but white compared to the Black peoples of Africa. As the new Arab ruling class intermarried with the peoples they had conquered, so there developed an attitude which saw Arabs of mixed descent as inferior, leading to dynastic conflicts between those of pure and mixed race. Muslim Arabs also saw themselves as superior to converts to Islam from the indigenous peoples of the Islamic empire, and a set of rules developed to enforce the converts’ inferior social status. At the same time, the Arabs formed various explanations based on the environment for the ethnic differences they observed among different peoples. An Iraqi writer believed that Whites had been undercooked in the womb due to the coldness of the environment they occupied. Blacks, on the other hand, were overcooked. The Iraqi people, however, were brown and mentally and physically superior to the other two races.

Development of Anti-Black Prejudice

As Islam expanded into sub-Saharan Africa anti-Black racism developed. This did not initially exist, not least because Ethiopia had been one of the major superpowers in the Arabian peninsula with a superior culture. Muslims also respected the Abyssinians for giving sanctuary to many of Mohammed’s followers during their persecution by the Meccan pagans. Over time, however, an attitude of contempt and racial superiority emerged towards Blacks. This racism even extended towards highly regarded Black Arabic poets and the governors of provinces, who were reproached and vilified for their colour by their enemies. Here Arab racist views of Blacks is nearly identical to those of White European racists. They were seen as lazy, ugly, stupid and lustful. The prurient view of Black women as boiling with sexual desire mirrors the racist attitude towards Jewish women amongst western anti-Semites. On the other hand, Blacks were also seen as strong, loyal, generous and merry. They also had excellent rhythm. Although both Whites and Blacks were enslaved, White slaves had a higher status and different terms were used to describe them. White slaves were mawlana, literally, ‘owned’. Only Black slaves were described as slaves, abid, a term that is still used to mean Black people in parts of the Arab world today.

The expansion of the European states and empires effectively cut off or severely diminished the supply of White slaves, and as a consequence the value of Black slaves began to rise. Unable to afford White slaves and concubines from Europe and the Caucasus, the peoples of the Middle East turned instead to Abyssinians and the Zanj, Black Africans from further south. Abyssinians in particular were prized for their beauty and other qualities, and its from this period that the Arab taste for the beauty of Black Africans rather than Whites developed. And as anti-Black racism developed, so Muslims scholars and authors wrote pieces defending Blacks from racism, not least because many of Mohammed’s Companions had been Black and the emergence of powerful Muslim kingdoms in Africa.

Islamic Slavery and Slave Armies

Islamic slavery was comparatively milder and more enlightened than western slavery. Although technically slaves could not own property and were disbarred from giving evidence in court, there was limitations on the punishments that could be inflicted on them. Muslims were urged to treat their slaves humanely and manumission was praised as a noble act. It was particularly recommended for the expiation of particular sins. At the same time Islam permitted contracts to be made between master and slave allowing the slave to save enough money to purchase his freedom at an agreed date. There were stories of particular Muslims who freed their slaves even in circumstances where punishment would have been expected. One master freed a female slave after she asked him why he was still alive, as she had been trying to poison him for a year. Slaves could rise to high office. The viziers and other chief dignitaries of the Ottoman empire were slaves. Slaves were used to staff Muslim armies, and there were separate regiments for White and Blacks slaves. Sometimes this resulted in battles between the two, as during the dynastic battles where one side used Black soldiers and the other White. The mamlukes, the Egyptian warriors who ruled Egypt and who expelled the Crusaders and stopped the Mongols conquering the Middle East, were White slaves. They were freed after completing their military training and their leaders preferred to purchase other slaves for training as their successors rather than pass on their position to their own children.

Islam’s acceptance and regulation of slavery, like Judaism, Christianity and other religions, as well as the views of ancient philosophers like Aristotle, also meant that there was opposition to its abolition. Muslim defenders of slavery produced the same arguments as their Christian counterparts, including the argument that Blacks and other infidels were better off enslaved as it introduced them to a superior civilisation. When a 19th century British consul inquired of the king of Morocco what steps he was taking regarding slavery and the slave trade, he was politely informed that all the legislation was based on the Qur’an and sharia and that there was no intention of banning slavery as it was permitted by Islam. Indeed, the Ottoman province of the Hijaz, the area around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, was exempt from the Ottoman ban on slavery and the slave trade after the ulema and nobles declared it to be an attack on Islam, along with legislation allowing women to go in public without the veil. The Turks were declared to be apostates, who could be killed and their children enslaved. Many of the pilgrims to Mecca came with a number of slaves, who acted as living sources of funding. When the pilgrim needed more money, he sold one or two of them.

The Myth of Muslim Non-Racism

In the last two chapters, Lewis discusses the emergence of the view of Islam as completely non-racist and that its slavery was benign. He argues that this was largely the creation of western scholars reacting to the horrors of New World slavery during the American Civil War. Christian missionaries also contributed to this myth. They attempted to explain their failure to make converts by arguing that it was due to Black African revulsion against harsh western slavery. In fact it was due to differences of colour. Islam spread because it was promoted by Black African preachers, rather than White westerners. Particularly influential in the creation of this myth was Edward Blydon, a Black West Indian who was educated in Liberia by the missionaries. He became convinced that Islam was more suited to the needs of Black people, and his books also stressed White guilt, contrasting it with Muslim tolerance. Lewis also believes that the myth is also due to a widespread feeling of guilt among western Whites, which he sees as the modern counterpart to Kipling’s White man’s burden.

Along with the text of the book itself are extensive notes and a documentary appendix containing texts including a Muslim discussion on national character, the rights of slaves and diplomatic correspondence and observations on the 19th century slave trade.

Race and Slavery Compared with Brown’s Slavery & Islam

This book should ideally be read alongside Jonathan A.C. Brown’s Slavery & Islam, as the two present contrasting views of slavery and racism in Islam. Brown is a White, American academic and convert to Islam. While he condemns slavery totally, his book presents a much more positive view of Islamic slavery compared with western servitude and even the conditions endured by 19th century free European workers. He also extensively discusses Islamic abolition and the voices for it, while Lewis lays more stress on Muslim opposition. Brown recognises the existence of racism in the Islamic world, but also emphasises Muslim anti-racist texts like The Excellence of the Negroes. But as Lewis points out, these texts also show the opposite, that there was racism and bigotry in the Muslim world.

Lewis also recognises that Muslim slaves generally enjoyed good conditions and were treated well. However, the real brutality was inflicted on them during the journey from their place of capture to the Islamic heartlands. He also suggests that this relatively benign image may be due to bias in the information available. Most Muslim slaves were domestic servants, unlike the mass of slave labouring on the plantations in America. There were gangs of slaves working cotton plantations and employed in mining and public works, and these laboured in appalling conditions. It may also be that there were more slaves working in agriculture than recognised, because the majority of the information available comes from the towns, and so ignore what may have been the harsher treatment in the countryside.

He also discusses the absence of descendants of the Black slaves, except for a few pockets, in the modern Middle East. David Starkey in an interview for GB News claimed it was because the Muslim slave masters killed any babies born by their slaves. I don’t know where he got this idea. Lewis doesn’t mention such atrocities. He instead suggests that it may have been due to the castration of large numbers of boys to serve as eunuchs in the harems. The other slaves were forbidden to marry and have sex, except for female slaves purchased for that purpose. Slaves were also particularly vulnerable to disease, and so an epidemic lasting five years could carry off an entire generation.

Importance of the Book for an Examination of Contemporary Racial Politics

I was interested in reading this book because of the comparative lack of information on slavery and racism in Islam, despite the existence of books like Islam’s Black Slaves. Lewis in his introduction states that researching the issue may be difficult and dangerous, as it can be interpreted as hostility rather than a genuinely disinterested investigation. I think there needs to be more awareness of the history of Muslim slavery and Islam. For one reason, it explains the emergence of the slave markets in that part of Libya now occupied by the Islamists. It also needs to be more widely known because, I believe, the emphasis on western historic slavery and racism can present a distorted image in which the west is held to be uniquely responsible for these evils.

Mad Right-Wing YouTuber Alex Belfield Banned by YouTube for Two Weeks

February 13, 2022

A day or two ago Alex Jones, the right-wing host of the Voice of Reason channel on YouTube, was handed a temporary ban for two weeks. At first it was thought that he’d been banned for three months, but Andy the Gabby Cabby, another YouTuber sympathetic to Belfield, has cleared that up. He’s been in communication with him, and apparently he’s only been suspended for a fortnight, but it was because he had already had two strikes against him within a three month period before suffering the third complaint resulting in his suspension. The Blackbelt Barrister, a YouTube legal expert, has also weighed in on the case. Citing expert legal opinion on the 2003 Information Act, the Barrister states that, in the opinion of the judicial authorities, the Act should only be used against communications that physically threaten a person’s safety or which stir up racial hatred. They should not be used to chill personal opinion or censor offensive views, even if those views make someone feel uncomfortable.

This is fine, but I don’t think Belfield has actually been charged with anything under the Act. Belfield has been banned from YouTube because it’s a private company, as are the other internet platforms. As private companies they are quite within their rights to set their own terms and conditions and restrict what may be said on them. The right got very upset about all this a few years ago when they started being censored for issues like misogyny, homophobia, racism, transphobia and so on. Left-wingers, however, pointed out that this was simply private industry acting as a private company and not in the public interest. They also pointed out how ironic it was this had happened to the right, who are staunch supporters of private companies against state-owned industries. There were even demands from some that the government should set up a nationalised internet platform to allow a proper exchange of views without censorship. Which would be really ironic considering that the right is worried about government censorship and attacks on free speech rather than that by powerful corporations.

So what brought about Belfield’s ban? Well, it seems from another post by the Gabby Cabby that it was a complaint against Belfield by Carol Vorderman because of his comments about her ‘assets’. The Cabby stated it was unclear whether this was about her property, or something rather more personal. Quite.

Belfield has regularly criticised the former Countdown star along with a number of other celebrities including Katie Price and Philip Schofield. This includes comments on her home or homes as well as more personal remarks about how she has apparently enhanced her bosom to retain the attention of the jaded public. He’s satirised her as a character ‘Carol Vordernorks’ in drag with fake breasts and a thick Brummie accent. I’ve never found this to be funny and it’s really just personal abuse. My sympathies in this instance are very firmly with Vorderman. I don’t know her, but she’s always come across as perfectly genial and polite on TV, and is herself an extremely intelligent woman. Not only does she have a degree in engineering from Oxford, but she’s also a pilot and a patron of the air cadets. She’s also active trying to get more people, especially girls, into science and flight, and has done her bit supporting the RAF. I really don’t know what Belfield has against her, as it doesn’t seem like there’s the same kind of personal feud he apparently has with the BBC and its producers, and the presenter Jeremy Vine, which have seen him involved in a legal battle over the past few years.

Belfield himself has thanked YouTube for paying for his house and giving him a livelihood, and claims his shows about the country are now sold out. He states that he will come back, but is going to launch a ‘secret VOR channel’ on the 28th of this month. This seems to confirm rumours that he’s about to vanish behind a paywall.

Belfield has some very right-wing views, some of which I regard as particularly dangerous. Like his demands that the NHS should be privatised, although in a video he made shortly before he was banned he urged people not to give to the NHS, because this would tell Johnson that we can be charged, ‘and then we’re all f***ed’. I wonder what he thinks will happen if he gets his way and the NHS is privatised. I am well aware that there are members of this blog who heartily despise Belfield. I watch some of his videos because he says openly what the rest of the right doesn’t, but who share his attitudes. And I do share his opposition to the transgender craze, but not trans people, which is causing real suffering to mentally and emotionally vulnerable young people. I firmly believe that some youngster are being misdiagnosed and put on a long course of medical treatment and physical transformation predominantly for ideological reasons and against their best interests. Some of the children now identified as transgender seem to be gay and come from extremely homophobic backgrounds, so it looks like a form of gay conversion therapy. This can be compared to the situation in Iran, where gays are given the choice of transitioning to the opposite sex or execution. I realise that such gender critical views are controversial, but the science behind them, to this layman’s eyes, seems solid. There is considerable censorship of such views, including threats and personal violence. Therefore, on this score, I support Belfield for posting against the transgender craze even if I find some of his other views mistaken, offensive and dangerous.

And rather than seeing anyone banned, I would prefer that people instead showed their opposition by blogging against them and winning arguments. I would rather have this done to make their views unpopular rather than censorship.

Because there are too many attempts already to censor what we can say with the Tories doing their best to outlaw public demonstrations against their monstrous policies.

Book on the Gypsies and Their History

February 9, 2022

Angus Fraser, The Gypsies (Oxford: Blackwell 1992).

I’ve been meaning to blog about this book, off and on, for a little while now. This is largely in response to the right-wing, Tory and Blairite Labour racists, who screamed blue murder at any chance they could get to smear Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite, but who had absolutely no qualms about whipping up hatred against Roma, Sinti and other Travellers for their own political benefit. Anti-Gypsy hatred has become topical once again thanks to Jimmy Carr’s wretched joke about their genocide in the Nazi Holocaust somehow being a ‘positive’. Mike’s written extensively about that tasteless joke, as have very many others. He’s pointed out that it came just when Boris Johnson was passing legislation very similar to that of the Nazis, which would allow the cops to close down Gypsy encampments, move them on and impound their vehicles simply for suspecting they might be about to do something illegal. And when you get to eastern Europe, the prejudice against them is even more extreme and really does approach the genocidal hatred of the Nazis. A decade or so ago doctors in Czechoslovakia were caught operating a programme of involuntary sterilisation of Gypsy women very much like the Nazis’ eugenics programme against those of mixed race and the biologically unfit. Czech politicians were also very keen to have the Gypsies emigrate to Canada after a documentary was shown on television about a Czech Gypsy family finding a welcome in the land of the maple leaf and beaver. This was, like anti-Semitic and Nazi plans to force the Jews to move to Palestine, simply a way of forcing the Gypsies out of Czechoslovakia. One female Czech MP made this very clear when she screamed ‘They will go to Canada or the gas chambers!’ Such naked, genocidal bigotry means that Carr’s joke really, really isn’t funny. Respect, then, to the Auschwitz museum for taking the moment to offer him some of its courses on the murder of 27,000 Gypsies so that he could learn about the horrific reality.

The book’s blurb runs

‘Since their unexplained appearance in Europe over nine centuries ago, the Gypsies have refused to fall in with conventional settled life. They remain a people whose culture and customs are beset with misunderstandings, and who cling to their distinct identity in the teeth of persistent rejection and pressure to conform. The book describes their history.

The book opens with an investigation of Gypsy origins in India. The author then traces the Gypsy migration from the early Middle Ages to the present, through the Middle East, Europe and the world. Through their known history they have been recognised for their music, metal working, fortune telling, healing and horse-dealing, but from the outset they outraged the prejudices of the populations they encountered; they were enslaved, harassed, outlawed and hunted. Yet against all the odds the Gypsies have survived, preserving a distinctive heritage and culture that transcends national boundaries. How they did so is the compelling them of this book.

This new paperback edition has been revised to take account of recent research and of the political changes in Eastern Europe, which have sadly been followed by a resurgence of Gypsy persecution in a number of countries.’

The book has chapters on their origins, then subsequently traces their migration through Persia and Armenia, Greece and the Byzantine Empire, Serbia, Bulgaria, Wallachia and Moldavia, the provinces that are now part of modern Romania; Germany, Austria and Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal, the Low Countries, Italy, Hungary and Transylvania, now also part of Romania, Scotland and England and Scandinavia. It also discusses images and stereotypes, the pressures placed on them to assimilate, and persecution, including expulsion, transportation and extermination, both in Europe and the Ottoman Empire, as well as their survival. It also discusses changes in Gypsy society and culture, including their music, and their genocide under the Nazis – ‘The Forgotten Holocaust’. The final section discusses modern Gypsy society and culture.

It should be clear from this that the Gypsy Holocaust is, like that of the Jews, absolutely no joke. Carr has been defended by various members of the media set, including Victoria Coren. They’ve defended him as being good and kind. I don’t doubt he is. The problem is that there are some subjects that are too terrible to be the subject of jokes, as well as moral consistency. Carr clearly balked at telling jokes about the Jewish Holocaust, as he should. But if the Jewish Holocaust is unfit as a subject of humour, so should the Nazi murder of other racial groups, especially those still experiencing persecution.

The Lotus Eaters have run to Carrs defence, posting up a video of him as a ‘free speech berserker’. Now I don’t believe that Carr should be prosecuted for his joke. It was outrageous, but, in my opinion, not hateful. He wasn’t intending to stir up racial hatred, although I don’t doubt that some others, who would tell the joke would have definite malign intentions. In my view it’s really a case of a moral problem discussed by John Stuart Mill in his classic book On Liberty: just because something’s legal doesn’t mean that it’s moral. He put it in the following terms: just because there’s no law against chasing a Jew up an alley waving a piece of pork doesn’t mean that you should do it. I don’t believe that Carr has broken any law or should be prosecuted. He just shouldn’t have told the joke. The best thing now is for him to apologise and Netflix to cut the joke. Then perhaps we should move on to combatting some real Nazis.

Labour Party Asks Muslims for their Input

January 22, 2022

I don’t know why I got the email, as I’m not a Muslim. A few days ago the Labour party sent out a general email to its Muslim Labour members requesting them for their views and opinions on how the party could help them. This was on behalf of a Muslim Labour party organisation. My guess is that it was a general mail-out, because I have some views on institutional Islam in the UK which definitely do not fit with elements of current anti-racist orthodoxy.

My views on elements of Islam in the UK have been strongly influenced by the Satanic Verses affair and the Islamists goose-stepping around in the first decade of this century proclaiming that Islam would conquer the west and demanding death for blasphemers, including the previous pope. I also found a lot of anti-Christian, frankly racist Muslim polemic when I was studying Islam at college, and a number of texts from British Islamic presses openly demanded the creation of self-governing Muslim ghettoes ruled by shariah law.

There was international outrage in the Muslim community worldwide at the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. In fact the book isn’t blasphemous. It is, however, immensely tedious. It was labelled as such by the Ayatollah Khomeini as part of an attempt by his regime in Iran to gain the moral leadership of the international Islamic community. This is the real reason he seized on the book and placed a fatwa on Rushdie’s head. In Britain the protests were led by Mohammed Akhthar and Kalim Saddiqui, both of whom were hard-liners with bitterly intolerant views. Saddiqui appeared on a Beeb programme, The Trouble with Islam, telling the congregation of his mosque that ‘British society is a monstrous killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them’. This is pure racism, and if it came from a White, non-Muslim preacher would result in immediate legal action. When asked about his comments by the interviewer, Saddiqui waffled about the Satanic Verses.

Way back in 2007 Channel 4 broadcast a highly controversial issues of Dispatches, entitled ‘Undercover Mosque’. They sent their reporters in disguise to a hundred mosques, and filmed the imams preaching violent hatred against Jews, Christians and homosexuals. This was immediately denounced as racist and islamophobic, but I got the distinct impression that it was a fair picture of much Islamic preaching in Britain today. Way back in the 19th century the British government protested against the demonisation of Christians by Muslim preachers in the Balkans. I think much of this hate comes from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. When I was studying Islam at College in the 1980s we were told that there were some terribly anti-Christian polemical literature published in Pakistan. We were told this not by Islamophobes but by people with a sincere appreciation of the religion. I even remember one of them saying that the Qur’an was his favourite religious text after the Gospel of Luke, and going over to a window to chant it while we were working on some task set for us.

As for the British Muslim establishment, Birmingham Central Mosque, the British Council of Mosques, British Islamic Council or whatever, I am deeply distrustful of them. A few years ago they were caught out giving platforms to the preachers of hate, and every time they excused themselves by saying something like it had been out of their hands and was the responsibility of another organisation to whom they had delegated the function of booking preachers. And there has similarly been considerable deceit by official Islam in the condemnation of Islamism, at least if Ed Hussein’s The Islamist can be believed. Hussein was a member of the militant Islamist organisation, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which would like to set up a caliphate in Pakistan, before seeing reason and getting out. He’s associated with the Quilliam Foundation, I believe, which is another right-wing think tank. Hence to many people on the left, he’s poison. In The Islamist he describes the various leaders of the Muslim community traipsing into 10 Downing Street to reassure Tony Blair that they were solidly against Islamism and backed his campaign to stamp it out. And all of them were hypocrites as they all secretly supported it. I’ve heard from others that some of the Muslim groups they attempted to establish a Christian-Muslim dialogue with were also Islamists.

This is not the kind of thing the left in particular wants to hear, but it is part of the problem. As is the growing Islamophobia within the Labour party itself. Now I’m sure that the majority of Muslims in the UK don’t want to take over the place, and only five percent of them want sharia law despite all the alarmist fear-mongering by rags like the Heil. As for the preachers of hate, I honestly don’t know how seriously their congregations take them. I can see many of them simply getting bored, listening politely while wondering what their having for lunch and tea, or how the local football team is doing. They’ve also been condemned by liberal Muslims, who have organised marches against them. But these marches are rarely covered, and their organisers have said that they haven’t received the support they need from anti-racist organisations and the wider community. This is a pity, because I think it could change opinions of Islam radically. White allies supporting their Muslims friends marching against such hatred and intolerance under the banner of ‘Black and White, Unite and Fight’ would demonstrate graphically that by no means all Muslims are terrorists and jihadi wannabes, and that Muslims genuinely wanted pluralism and tolerance. This also means bringing up and supporting home-grown imams, imbued with proper British values. There have been complaints that the shortage of imams in this country has led to the importation of preachers from Pakistan, who are viciously intolerant and grossly unsuitable to lead a congregation in a genuinely democratic, tolerant society.

But apart from these issues in the wider British society, the Labour party can do much for its Muslim members by cleaning up the real Islamophobia and bullying in its ranks. One third of Muslim members have reported Islamophobic incidents, and there was the bullying of BAME activists and politicos last year by Labour apparatchiks. This went unpunished, undoubtedly because the same people were supporters of Keef Stalin. Now Stalin’s in the shtuck, he’s looking for their support. If he genuinely wishes, he can start by purging the genuine Islamophobes and punishing the apparatchiks responsible.

But I doubt that he will. Starmer’s an inveterate liar, and this looks like more window-dressing and sham.

Starmer and Reeves Walk Up And Down on the Earth Making Promises – But Can You Trust Them?

January 21, 2022

Since the furore broke over Johnson and his flagrant disregard for the rules everyone else has to abide by with his scummy parties, the politicos have on TV to promote themselves. I think the Conservatives were on earlier in the week to try and present themselves as caring, efficient and concerned about the British public, rather than the gang of liars, profiteers and entitled scumbags. Then it was Labour’s turn the other night. I caught it, but fortunately it didn’t last long, and thanks to finding some great stuff on YouTube, I was soon over it. In the Book of Job in the Bible, Satan is described as walking up and down on the Earth, looking for people to torment and tempt. He wasn’t present in the film, at least not physically. Instead we had Rachel Reeves and Stalin walking about Britain, meeting and greeting ordinary people. Yes, those two. It shows what a state the Labour party is now in: Labour’s Thatcherite hard right. They were promising to raise people out of poverty and introduce reforms that would end VAT on electricity bills and so cut it by £200, and there would be help for people unable to pay.

It sounds good, but it’s far less than what Corbyn was offering. He wanted to have the electricity companies nationalised, or part of the industry nationalised, along with water and the railways. Because this is what these utilities need, and the majority of the British public want. It represents a chance to get real investment into them – privatisation hasn’t worked. And it would have allowed the government to cut people’s bills. But that, and Corbyn’s promises to restore the welfare state, union power, give the proles real rights at work and renationalise and properly fund the NHS upset the Blairites. So they went and joined the Israel lobby in smearing this profoundly anti-racist man of principle as an anti-Semite. Just as they did to his supporters, also very largely and vocally anti-racist themselves. And as I keep pointing out again and again, many of them were proud, secular and Torah observant Jews, who had suffered real anti-Semitic abuse and assault.

All Starmer has offered during his leadership of the Labour party is just one lie after another. He promised to keep Labour’s election policies, then ditched them as soon as he could. When the subject of nationalisation came up again, with a kind of endorsement from Ed Miliband, he declared that Labour wouldn’t. And every pledge he made to reform the welfare system so that the disabled, the long-term sick and the unemployed has either been scrapped, watered down or else he’s hummed and hahhed and told everyone they’d review. He has said that he will do anything to get his bum in No. 10. In my opinion, he has no morals, no principles except a powerful sense of his own entitlement. Psychologically, he’s kindred to Johnson and the former orange clown running the US down to the ground, Donald Trump.

In the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, the principle of evil, opposed to the benevolent God Ahura Mazda, is Ahriman. One of Ahriman’s demons is Druj, which means ‘Lie’, In the Persian medieval classic, the Shah Nameh, the world’s corruption begins when Druj, disguising himself, begins to corrupt one of the first Persian emperors, worming his way into his confidence as an advisor. This culminates in him kissing the emperor on his shoulders. Two serpents spring up where he kissed him, which then demand to be fed on human brains. Nothing so dramatic has happened to Boris or Keef, but I see no reason to trust anything whatsoever either Keef or Rachel Reeves say. Like Johnson, he lies through his teeth. This country will only ever have a real future for ordinary people when we get rid of him and the Tories.

And unfortunately, after the purges, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Lobster Reviews Book on Six British Fascists

January 14, 2022

It’s a new year, and a new issue of the online magazine on parapolitics and genuine conspiracies, Lobster. In issue 83 they have a fascinating review by John Newsinger, professor emeritus of history at Bath University, of Graham Macklin’s Failed Fuhrers: A History of Britain’s Extreme Right, published by Routledge at £24.99. The book’s actually a collection of biographies of six infamous British Fascists, Arnold Leese, Oswald Mosley, A.K. Chesterton, Colin Jordan, John Tyndall and Nick Griffin. Newsinger states that it is a book to read and keep for reference for the information it provides. He will never forget that Colin Jordan, of NF infamy, was arrested in the ’70s for stealing women’s underwear from Tesco’s. The Scum mocked him as a panty-thief, which must be one of the few times when the vile rag actually did something anti-racist. Jordan himself, as with all the grotty sawdust Caesars examined in the book, was a massive anti-Semite. He claimed he was innocent and it was all part of a Jewish conspiracy. Right. So he thought that the same people he believes have absolute secret control of media, politics and the economy, would feel the need to frame him for such a squalid petty crime. It shows both how paranoid the real Nazis are, and how ridiculous and absurd their stupid ideas about a secret Jewish global conspiracy get. Newsinger’s review summarises the careers of these real anti-Semites and Nazis.

Arnold Leese

was, the book claims, a pivotal figure in the development of British race nationalism. He was a poisonous anti-Semite who believed the Jews were the enemies of the White race secretly conspiring about Britain. They were to be first segregated and then exterminated. He founded the Imperial Fascist League. He was briefly interned during the War. After which he founded the racist magazine, Gothic Ripples, with its vile column, ‘Nigger Notes’. After a period of disillusionment with Hitler, he returned to praising him as one of the greatest statement produced by Europe. He blamed the war on the Jews. You hardly need to add that he was also a holocaust denier. His statement about it in Gothic Ripples sums up the whole mentality behind Holocaust denial: the people who do deny do so out of embarrassment, but would have absolutely no objection to it at all. Leese claimed that it didn’t happen, but if it had, his only objection would have been that too few Jews were murdered. Provided it was all done humanely. There is no way you can commit mass murder humanely. Leese also Lord Haw-Haw as a hero, and was jailed in 1947 for trying to help two Dutch SS officer escape to Argentina. Leese, unfortunately, wasn’t just influential in Britain, but also Europe and America.

Oswald Mosley

was the notorious leader of the BUF and the subject of an earlier biography by Macklin, which charted his career after the War. Mosley was an anti-Semite, although he constantly denied it despite all the plentiful evidence to the contrary. It’s therefore ironic, then, that Leese hated him because he thought that, as a member of aristocracy, Mosley’s own racial purity had also been compromised through intermixture with the Jews. ‘Cause Britain’s wannabe great dictator had a Jewish uncle on his mother’s side. In 1963 three members of his Union Movement, the post-war successor to the BUF, were jailed for bombing the offices of the Daily Worker. He managed to rehabilitate himself after the War, appearing on TV shows despite having condemned the Nuremberg trials and blaming the Jews for the Second World. War. I didn’t know about the bombing, and it explains why the authorities appear to be more afraid of White right-wing terrorism than Islamist.

A.K. Chesterton

was a relative of novelist and Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton. He was a member of Mosley’s BUF and editor of its magazine, The Blackshirt. He later broke away from the BUF, but continued as an extreme right-wing activist. Another grotty anti-Semite, he told the Nordic League that Jews should be hanged from lamp posts. He briefly served as a British officer in Kenya and Somaliland. But he’s also interesting for the way he and his followers also crossed over into the Tory party. He wrote for the Conservative magazine, Truth, which published his anti-Semitic screeds. He was even planning to run an article on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He also contributed articles to the magazine of the Royal United Services Institute, as well as the Daily and Sunday Express and the Evening Standard. He also ghost wrote Beaverbrook’s biography, before launching his own rag, Candour and founding the League of Empire Loyalists. He hated the Common Market and regarded those who supported it as traitors. Many grassroots Tories were also member of the LEL. When a Conservative MP accused League members of following a Fascist, it was pointed out to him that the chair of the meeting, the MP Jocelyn Lucas, was a former member of the BUF. The League firmly supported White rule in Africa. He also wrote the anti-Semitic book, The New Unhappy Lords, which claimed that the Jews were conspiring to enslave the west and incorporate it into a one-world superstate. Now we know the origin of that particular conspiracy theory and all those rantings about ‘globalists’. The National Front was former from a merger of the League with the Race Preservation Society, and served as the new organisation’s president until his death.

Colin Jordan

was another Nazi and member or founder of the National Socialist Movement. However, like Mosley he turned to anti-Black racism after the way, loudly supporting the ‘Keep Britain White’ movement. He also exploited the Notting Hill riots to promote racial hatred. He staged a series of tasteless racist stunt to stop the Labour candidate, Gordon Walker, getting elected. These involved his followers appearing in blackface and monkey costumes. After a Jewish cabby refused to accept his wife, Francoise Dior, the poor fellow was forced to flee to Israel after his home was firebombed. The NSM’s magazine hailed it as ‘the Second Expulsion of the Jews’. Two groups of NSM members firebombed ten synagogues and more in London. Jordan denied knowing about it beforehand, but had no qualms about posing with the accused outside the courthouse. He also hoped to get funding from the United Arab Republic and had schemes for a racist, offshore pirate radio station. I doubt it would have been a success. Not against Radio Caroline. He was also obsessed with Rudolf Hess, and wanted him awarded the Nobel Peace. It’s grotesque, but when you consider that they later awarded it to Henry Kissinger it starts to seem all too reasonable. However, the rest of the Far Right thought he was an embarrassment because he was too open about the Nazism they all held.

John Tyndall

was secretary of Jordan’s grotty NSM, praising the SS and the Holocaust in the pages of its magazine and calling for the creation of an SS state. He broke with Jordan to join the NF, taking over as leader. He was another anti-Semite who turned from attacking the Jews to racism against Blacks and immigrants. He also had connections to the American Far Right, helping them to resist the extradition James Earl Ray, suspected of the assassination Martin Luther King, from London. He was also a friend of William Pierce, author of the Turner Diaries, helping to sell his wretched Vanguard newspaper in London. The NF’s membership was boosted by Idi Amin’s expulsion of the Ugandan Asians, even though Amin was another anti-Semite and fan of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Well, Black and White, unite and fight – against racists and anti-Semites whatever their colour. After the NF’s electoral failure in 1979, Tyndall went back to Nazism before founding the fifth incarnation of the BNP. As leader of the NF, he was in some kind of power struggle with Martin Webster, who called it a gay organisation. I think that’s because Tyndall was gay, and had gay toleration written into its constitution.

Nick Griffin

claimed to have read Mein Kampf when he was just thirteen, and joined the NF when he was 15. The NF viewed some of the Middle Eastern countries as allies in the struggle against the Jews. He welcomed Iran’s reprinting of the Protocols and ardently supported Gaddafi’s Libya. After 9/11 he exploited Islamophobia,, but when debating Abu Hamza he found that his and the terrorist supporter’s views converged, with Abu Hamza telling the audience to support the BNP. And what a surprise, hem-hem, I do not think, as Nigel Molesworth would sa, he was yet another Holocaust denier. He then started playing down the anti-Semitism so that the BNP even had a Jewish councillor elected in Epping. Well, one of left-wing Jewish bloggers I follow – I can’t remember if it was David Rosenberg or Tony Greenstein, noted that the Jewish Conservative MP for somewhere around Islington or Tower Hamlets used to hobnob with the local Nazis at elections, complaining that the division between the BNP/NF and the Conservatives also meant the nationalist vote was divided. And the very respected Jewish historian Geoffrey Alderman got into a bit of hot water with the Board of Deputies of British Jews when his history of the British Jewish community stated that two per cent of British Jews voted for the NF because of anti-Black racism. The BNP’s peak came with the election of over 50 councillors and two MEP, of whom Griffin was one. He also liked Vladimir Putin, hailing him as an enemy of European liberalism and saviour of Christianity. He also supported Assad’s regime in Syria, even appearing on Russia Today to do so.

British Fascism’s Influence on Front National

Newsinger also notes that the book also claims that the NF also influenced the French Front National, now National Reveille. He wonders how this could be so, considering that British Fascism’s history is one of failure. My guess would be that Marine Le Pen looked at what they were doing, and then did the opposite. Her tactics are more like that of the founder of Italy’s post-Fascist party, Fini and his Alleanza Nazionale. Fini wound up the explicitly neo-Fascist MSI, and positioned the new party as centre-right. Le Pen has done something similar with the former Front National. Not that there isn’t a precedent in French Fascist history. The Croix de Feu were a ’30s French Fascist organisation, combing far right politics with their enthusiasm for cars. They also originally had a Fascist uniform, but their greatest electoral victories came when the dumped it and started trying to sound more like ordinary Conservatives.

This book’s important, because apart from the light it sheds on the history of British Fascism, it also shows where the vast majority of anti-Semitism really comes. And no, the real anti-Semites aren’t Corbyn and his supporters, let alone with sincere anti-racist peeps, especially Jewish, whom the British establishment has libelled and smeared. The real, poisonous anti-Semitism nearly always comes from the Far Right. And they are a real terrorist menace. I didn’t know British Nazis had bombed the Daily Worker and ten synagogues in the 60s, though I knew about the street fights between them and anti-Fascists. In the ’80s the NF were successfully prosecuted for holding paramilitary ‘self-defence’ training out on a farm somewhere. Part of the evidence they were planning to commit a terrorist outrage was that a can of weedkiller in a garden shed had the word ‘weed’ crossed out and replaced with Jew. Then there was the lone Nazi in the 90s who nail-bombed three pubs, including a gay bar. And this is quite apart from the assassination of Jo Cox and genuine Nazi outfits like the banned National Action. Simon Webb over at History Debunked has questioned the jailing of White Nazis as terrorists, when they have done nothing but look at Nazi material on YouTube, unlike the Islamists, who have committed real terrorist atrocities. I think the answer is that the authorities fear that they will start committing genuine acts of terrorism like those in the ’60s, as well as exploiting racism and the immigration crisis.

The six men profiled by the book are failures, but they continue to exert a malign influence and there is always a danger that their ideas will inspire real terrorism while persecuting and murdering innocents ’cause they’re the wrong religion or race.

For further information, see: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster83/lob83-failed-fuhrers.pdf

Iran Releases Mock Video of Drone Strike Against Donald Trump

January 14, 2022

This video comes from WION, which I think is an Indian news network. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has released a mock video on his website of Donald Trump being assassinated by a drone while playing golf. The video was produced as part of a competition to mark the American drone assassination of General Soleimani, and the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi has pledged to avenge his death. The Americans have responded with a statement that Iran will face dire reprisals for any attack on an American national.

This comes a few days after Iran issued a demand for Trump to be prosecuted and killed, while over the Christmas period the regime’s armed forces simulated an attack on an Israeli nuclear installation.

Readers of my blog will know what I think of Iran’s government: I despise them as ruthless, theocratic dictators. But I can’t condemn them for producing the video or calling for Trump’s prosecution. Trump was responsible for the killing of Soleimani by drone, and while I don’t think Soleimani was in any way an angel, the Americans don’t really have a counterargument if other countries use the same methods against them. As Kant said, ‘When you legislate for one, you legislate for all’. Which is why we have international law.

As for the simulated attack on an Israeli nuclear plant, again it’s immensely hypocritical for America or the Israelis to condemn it. Israeli has nuclear weapons, which is against international law but no-one seems to condemn them for it. They have launched attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities, though I think they’ve so far been with viruses rather than drones. Even so one of these attacks left a number of Iranian nuclear scientists dead. Benjamin Netanyahu and the rest have been trying to tell the world that Iran’s trying to develop nuclear weapons and we should all be very worried. The Iranians have said that, on the contrary, they’re developing it for their power industry. This is actually quite likely. Iran’s economy depends on its oil exports, and if they want to increase that then one way to do it is cut down on domestic oil consumption. Nuclear power would be a way of doing so, with the oil saved sold for export.

But I also wouldn’t blame the Iranians for developing nuclear weapons either. They’re on the list of the seven countries, whose regimes the Neo-Cons want overthrown. The same people behind the Iraq invasion and their theft of its oil and state industries are no doubt also keen to do the same to Iran. The reason America had Mossadeq, the last democratically elected prime minister of Iran overthrown in a CIA sponsored coup, was because he had nationalised the Iranian oil industry. Previously it had been owned and controlled by foreigners, principally Britain. And there is a very good reason why Iran would want to acquire nuclear capability simply for domestic safety. Bush and Blair both claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but only invaded when Saddam Hussein assured them he didn’t have nuclear weapons. This teaches any country at the receiving end of western imperialism that the only way they can protect themselves is through acquiring nuclear weapons. The Iraq invasion has encouraged nuclear proliferation, not discouraged it, and has made the world less safe.

I don’t want Trump killed in a drone strike, nor do I want him executed, although I do accept that there is a case for prosecuting him for the drone strike that killed Soleimani. Not that I don’t think that Soleimani wasn’t a butcher himself. I also don’t believe that Iran has the capability to launch any kind of drone attack against anyone in America. If they had, they wouldn’t bother putting up fake videos about it.

My guess is that Trump is perfectly safe from Iranian drone strikes. I don’t want one to happen, but I don’t blame the Iranians for dreaming about it either.

Nigel Farage Interviews Iraq War Army Officer about Blair’s War Crimes

January 8, 2022

Oh Heaven help me! I’ve just agreed with something arch-Brexiteer, former Kipperfuhrer and founder of the Brexit party, Nigel Farage, has said on right-wing satellite/cable broadcaster GB News. The Fuhrage was criticising the recent award of a knighthood to Tony Blair. Blair has not been forgiven by very many ordinary Brits, both on the right and left, for taking this country into an illegal war and occupation of Iraq. Three quarters of a million people, according to Farage, have now signed a petition against the honour. Farage points out that every prime minister automatically becomes a member of the Order of the Garter with which comes either a knighthood or an earldom. In this video from his show on GB News, posted on the 5th of January, not only does Farage himself criticise its award to Blair, asking if he is a fit and proper person to receive it, but he talks over the phone to one of the veterans who served in the war. This is Colonel Tim Collins, OBE, who led the Royal Irish Regiment.

Farage begins with the news that one of Blair’s former cabinet ministers, Jeff Hoon, is writing a book that claims that Blair’s chief of staff, Tony Powell, burnt a document of legal advice concerning legality of gong to war provided by the Attorney General Lord Geoffrey Goldsmith. The newspapers report that the story came out in 2015, but Farage states that he has never, ever seen it before to his recollection. He states that Blair had the backing of parliament to go to war, and asks Col. Collins if there are really legitimate reasons for refusing him the Order of the Garter. Collins replies by going even further, contradicting the story that it was Blair who was responsible for the peace settlement in Northern Ireland. Not so. According to Collins, it was largely the work of John Major and the Irish government. Blair took over the process, but added celebrity spin, which had the effect of watering the agreement down, hence producing the conditions for the mess Ulster is in now. The colonel then goes on to remind the viewers that Blair took us into the war on the dodgy dossier. We acted as bit-part players, not pulling our weight and giving the coalition good advice. He recalls that the crucial piece of advice he saw when he was a member of Special Forces at their HQ before he joined the RIR was that we needed to retain the Iraqi army to hold Iraq together until a democratic replacement for Saddam Hussein could be found. The disbandment of the Iraqi army unleashed a form of terror that cost many lives, both Iraqi and British. Farage responds by stating that down the centuries British prime ministers in crisis have made both good and bad decisions. This decision was very bad, but should it disqualify Blair from getting the accolade all other prime minsters have received? Collins response to this question is to point out that it’s ironic that the honour is in the gift of the monarch, whom Blair did so much to undermine. He describes how she was used as a prop for Blair, Cherie and New Labour at the millennium celebrations. He now has to come cap in hand to Her Maj and say ‘You are right.’ And Farage fully agrees.

Farage goes on to ask the colonel, as a veteran of the Iraq war, whether he and his colleagues feel bitter about being sold that war on a falsehood. Collins replies that he feels sorry for the people of Iraq, who have been pushed into their unfriendly neighbours, Iran. He believes they will rise again, but it will take a long time. There are thousands of people dead, who didn’t need to die, including our own people. Farage then asks him if he’s saying that Tony Blair shouldn’t get the knighthood. Collins replies that he should got to the Queen and tell her that he cannot accept it, because he is not a fit and proper person to receive it from the monarchy he has done so much to demean.

I think the colonel is rather more concerned about Blair’s undermining of the monarchy as much as, if not more, than British troops being sent into Iraq to fight and lose life and limb, and destroy an entire country on the basis of a lie. Blair did indeed appear to use to Queen as a prop for his own self-promotion during his tenure of 10 Downing Street. He was widely criticised by the right-wing press for his ‘presidential’ party political election film. He’s not the only one, however. Thatcher seemed to being her best on many occasions to upstage Her Maj while at the same time trying to bathe in the monarchy’s reflected glory.

The colonel’s statement about the Northern Ireland peace process being largely the work of Major and the Irish government is subject to doubt, but I can well believe it. Thatcher had begun secret talks with Sinn Fein and the IRA years before, while at the same time showing her massive hypocrisy by loudly denouncing the Labour party as traitors and supporters of terrorism for openly saying that it was precisely what we should do. Going further back to the beginning of the Troubles in the ’70s, Ted Heath had also opened talks with them, only to have them collapse because of the intransigence of the Loyalists.

The colonel also has a good point when he states that they shouldn’t have disbanded the Iraqi army. Bush and Blair had no real idea what to do after they’d won. Bush was taken in by the lies of Ahmed Chalabi, a fantasist who claimed to be the massively popular hero of resistance movement. He would take over the government of the country, and the coalition forces would be met as liberators by a grateful Iraqi people. None of which was true. What is also true is that Iranian influence has expanded into Iraq despite the hostilities of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Iran is a Shia country, and there is a sizable Shia minority in Iraq for whom Iran is, no doubt, a liberator and protector.

What the Colonel and Farage don’t mention is the real, geopolitical and economic reasons we invaded Iraq. The American-Saudi oil companies wanted to get their hands on Iraq’s state oil industry and its reserves, American multinationals wanted to acquire the country’s other state enterprises. And the Neo-Cons had the fantasy of turning the country into some kind of free trade, free market utopia, with disastrous consequences for the country’s economy.

Native Iraqi firms couldn’t compete with the goods dumped on them by foreign countries. Businesses went bankrupt, unemployment soared to 60 per cent. The country’s relatively progressive, secular government and welfare state collapsed. Sectarian violence erupted between Sunni and Shia, complete with death squads under the command of senior coalition officers. Women lost their ability to find careers outside the home. And the mercenaries hired to keep the peace ran prostitution rings, sold drugs and shot ordinary Iraqis for sport.

This is what you’re not being told on the mainstream news. The people reporting it are journalists like former Guardian hack Greg Palast in his book Armed Madhouse and alternative media outlets like Democracy Now! and The Empire Files on TeleSur. And there is plenty of evidence that Blair is a war criminal because of the war.

I’m well aware that some of the great commenters on this blog will object to my giving a platform to Farage and GB News. But I do feel that Farage is actually performing a valid service here questioning a senior army officer and veteran of the war about the issue of Blair’s knighthood. Even if his criticisms come from him as a man of the right.

There has been controversy about the New Years Honours system for a long time because so many have been awarded to very questionable people. Especially as the Tories have used it as a way of rewarding their donors.

But the destruction of an entire nation and the killing and displacement of millions of citizens for a lie made on behalf of further enriching the multinational elite is surely excellent reason for denying any honour to Blair.

Indian Newsreader Ponders the Coming Collapse of American Democracy

January 6, 2022

I found this grimly fascinating video on the YouTube channel for Gravitas, which I think is the news programme of the Indian WION – World Is One – network. The anchor woman considers the prediction by a Canadian academic that American democracy is in crisis and that the country will have a right-wing dictator by 2030. This will follow a period of civil disturbances in 2025. America is becoming more polarised. 64 per cent of Americans believe democracy is in crisis, according to polls, and 66 per cent of Republicans that the last election was rigged. 70 per cent of Americans also believe that democracy is failing. And 66 per cent believe that violence against the government is justified. These views explains the attack on Congress by Trump’s supporters last year, and there’s a prediction that the Orange Buffoon will return in 2024. At the same time, White nationalism is on the rise. She states that democracies dies through a deeply polarised society and distrust of government. She also claims that White supremacy is rising in the US army, aided by legislation that does not forbid squaddies from joining Fascist organisations like the Klan. She is careful to say, however, that she is not claiming soldiers are joining these organisations.

She also notes that last year America was put on a list of different nations as a ‘backsliding democracy’. If the attempted invasion of congress that occurred precisely a year ago, on 6th January 2021, had happened in west Asia (the Middle East) or Latin America, the US would, she claims, have sent in the CIA and a couple of thousand marines ‘to restore democracy’. She goes on to say that for decades, democracy has been whatever America says it is. There are many examples of this American arrogance. One report says that the US tried to topple Latin American regimes 41 times in the 20th century. The US funded juntas and plotted assassinations,. Another example is the CIA-funded overthrow of the last democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadeq, in 1953, backing the Shah. No-one asked them to do it, certainly not the Iranian people, ‘but that’s what America is for you’. America interferes because it can. It overthrew the Taliban in 2001, which was great, but their next step was to impose their presidential system on a country with more than a hundred ethnicities taking no account of tribal loyalties. The problem is the attitude that the American system suits all peoples ‘but democracy doesn’t work that way’. She concludes ‘So this prophecy of American collapse is karma, plain and simple.’

It’s a blistering attack on post-Trump division and the emerging far right in America, as well as American imperialism from the perspective of the Developing World. And she is absolutely correct. The late, long-term critic of American imperialism, William Blum, lists all the countries, whose governments the US has overthrown and in whose elections they have interfered in his books. The list and its brief descriptions of American meddling, take up two whole chapters each. America, and also Britain, did overthrow Iran’s prime minister, Mossedeq in the 1953 because he nationalised the oil industry. This was then owned and controlled by foreign companies, like BP, which employed Iranian workers on much lower wages and with poorer conditions than westerners. As for Afghanistan, the country, like others in the region, is a mosaic of different tribal and ethnic groups. It has no tradition of western-style democracy, and the president the Americans and the west back, Hamid Karzai, was massively corrupt. And the corruption reached all the way down through his regime and the new state to exploit and alienate ordinary Afghans. The result was the rapid collapse of Karzai’s government and the seizure of power by the Taliban almost as soon as American troops departed. In Iraq too George W. Bush and the other Neo-Cons had absolutely no idea about the society they had invaded and were trying to remodel. They believed the lies of Ahmed Chalabi, that he led a massive resistance movement against Hussein and that he and the American troops would be welcomed with flowers as liberators. Worse, the Neo-Cons actively resented and removed officials and senior military leaders, who attempted to tell them they were wrong. General Zilli, the head of the Middle East section of the Pentagon, was given the boot because he dared to do so.

As for the type of democracy the Americans wanted to introduce into Iraq, this was a very narrow version governed by Neo-Con doctrine. The government was to be democratic, but it was to be constitutionally prevented from interfering in business or private industry. It was democracy, but only as far as big business and American corporate interests allowed it.

As for the assertion that the collapse of American democracy and the emergence of a right-wing dictator is karma, I think left-wing political commenters like Noam Chomsky and the peeps at the radical magazine and website, Counterpunch, have said that America is suffering from imperial blowback. The tactics it has used to destabilise foreign regimes are now coming back to be used against America’s own citizens. And because of the powerful corporate influence on American politics, Harvard University several years ago described America, not as a democracy, but as an oligarchy.

There are deep divisions in current American politics between Trump’s supporters on the right, who include White supremacists, and the radical left, as shown in the rise of Black Lives Matter. Some of the BLM protests and demonstrations have degenerated into destruction and rioting, and in the most extreme example an anarchist community rejecting the American state emerged, only to collapse into violent anarchy in the pejorative sense and be retaken by local law enforcement. This has created a sense of crisis on the American right, while the invasion of congress looks very much like an attempted coup, comparable to Mussolini’s March on Rome. I am not surprised that many Americans feel their democracy is failing.

I don’t want American democracy to collapse. I believe that Fascism and dictatorship has to be fought everywhere in the world, and an America dominated by a dictator would be horrific, not just for the country but also for the rest of the world. American democracy needs to be supported.

It just shouldn’t impose dictatorships or its very contrived version of democracy on everyone else.

Petition to Strip Blair of His Knighthood Gets Over Half A Million Signatures

January 5, 2022

You can say one thing for Tony Blair and his inclusion on this New Year’s Honours list, it’s united the British people in a way that’s rarely been done. Right across the political spectrum, from Corbynist left to Tory right, people despise him as a warmonger. The petition on Change.org to have him stripped of his knighthood has reached 650,000 signatures. Which I think means that it has to be debated in parliament. Unfortunately, as the mad right-wing internet broadcaster Alex Belfield has said in one his videos, there’s little chance of the politicos taking notice of it or doing what nearly three-quarters of a million people want.

Mike has pointed out that the people want him denied the honour because he took the country into an illegal war with the Iraq. The charitable interpretation of this is that Blair believed the fake information that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But rather than wait for a UN resolution authorising military action, Blair put pressure on his advisers to state that he could launch an invasion,, and then went ahead and acted according to the advice he’d decided he should be given. Nearly a million people have died as a result of the war that followed.

Less charitable individuals might follow instead the information in Greg Palast’s book, Armed Madhouse, which showed that the real reason behind the invasion was economic. The Neo-Cons wanted Hussein out the way because he occasionally sent aid and support to the Palestinians. The American and Saudi oil industry wanted to loot Iraq’s state oil industry and oil reserves, which are the largest outside Saudi Arabia. Western multinationals also wanted to get their mitts on the country’s state enterprises. And the Neo-Cons also had a plan to turn Iraq into the kind of free trade state with precious few tariff barriers against imports they wanted for America. The result was that Iraq’s oil is now in the hands of foreign countries, a situation authorised by the new constitution written for the country. Many Iraqi businesses went bust as a result of the lowering of tariff barriers, as the world dumped their surplus goods on the country at cheap prices. The country’s own businesses couldn’t compete and went out of business. The unemployment rate skyrocketed to 60 per cent.

The country had been relatively secular with a welfare state and, I believe, free healthcare for its citizens. This has vanished. Women were also safe on the streets and could follow a career outside the home. That vanished too. One of his Hillary Clinton’s female officials tried telling a crowd that things were actually better for Iraqi women during a diplomatic tour of Turkey. She was very definitely told the contrary by a group of annoyed Iraqi ladies. And domestically the country collapsed into bloody chaos. In Baghdad, peace walls had to be erected between Sunni and Shia Muslim areas. Sectarian death squads roamed the country looking for the wrong kind of Muslims to kill, with the cooperation of the American military authorities. The mercenary companies also employed as peacekeepers were also out of control. They ran drugs and prostitution rings, and their soldiers shot ordinary Iraqis for sport. One American diplomat to Iraq was so shocked that he came back to the Land of the Free to the tell the media all about it, including the Nazi regalia sported by some US squaddies.

Over 2 million severely normal Brits marched against the Iraq invasion. One of the priests at my local church was one of them. They were ignored. Just as Blair’s successor, Keef Stalin, is also keen that the government or Her Maj not rescind Blair’s knighthood. Apparently he gave some kind of speech listing all the good things that Blair had done, like winning three elections. Blair’s administration was responsible for some good policies. He would have liked to have privatised the health service, but under him it was still properly funded and he had some success in tackling poverty. But he was also responsible for the Work Capability Tests that have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of disabled people wrongly judged fit to to work, and thrown off the state support they desperately need. All too many have died of starvation and neglect as a result.

And that still doesn’t remove the fact that Blair launched an illegal war and on that account is viewed as a war criminal by many. I bought a book a while ago, written by a lawyer, which made that very case. It went through the relevant international legislation and showed through repeated examples how Blair and Bush had violated it. There were even attempts by Canadian and Greek human rights activists to have the two arrested and tried for their crimes against humanity. This failed as it was successfully blocked by politicians and other officials.

The war also further destabilised the Middle East, setting up the conditions for the expansion of Iranian power into the Iraq, while at the same time radicalising parts of the country so they were taken over by Daesh. Who then went on to smash the monuments and sacred buildings of Christians, Shia and other religions they didn’t tolerate, and destroy priceless antiquities going back to ancient Babylon. This, along with the civil war in Syria, has also fuelled the refugee crisis. I’ve no doubt many of the channel migrants, or ‘dinghy divers’ as they’ve been dubbed by anti-immigrant right-wingers like Belfield, are people fleeing the chaos in Iraq. I am definitely no fan of Barbara Barnaby, the head of the British branch of Black Lives Matter. But she made a good point at a Corbynite Labour meeting last year when she said that Britain should admit these refugees because of our responsibility for the wars that forced them to leave their homes.

I’ve also heard the other side of the argument, that Blair should have got the knighthood after leaving office, as was customary for all prime ministers. He wasn’t. This has also caused a further problem, in that apparently they have to be granted to prime ministers in order. This has meant that Cameron hasn’t got one either and Tweezer hasn’t been made a dame or given some equivalent honour. The insult, on this view, is that it already has taken so long to grant Blair his honour.

Well, I still don’t think he deserves one. Just as I don’t think Cameron and Tweezer deserve honours either. Cameron held the vote on Brexit thinking it would fail and he’d defeat the Eurosceptics in the Tories. It didn’t. It narrowly won. However, it divided Britain. England largely supported it, while the Welsh, Scots and northern Irish rejected it. It’s breaking up the union and has particularly betrayed the people of Ulster. Both Loyalists and Nationalists wanted the border with Eire to remain open. The loyalists, as you might expect, also didn’t want a tariff barrier separating the Six Counties and the rest of the UK. An open border with Eire was one of the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the war in Northern Ireland. With Britain leaving the EU and the imposition of a hard border, instability and sectarian violence have returned. Speaking on the BBC comedy show, Room 101, Jeremy Paxman nominated Cameron to be sent into the room containing all the most horrible stuff in the world. Cameron was, declared the former bane of politicians on Newsnight, the worst prime minister we’d had since Lord North. He was the PM who lost us the American colonies.

My guess is that Blair will still get his knighthood. But millions of severely normal Brits will still hate him as a warmonger, the man who lied to us to get the illegal war he wanted, and sent Britain’s courageous young servicemen and -women to fight and die in decades of pointless war. I think Blair will still get the honour, but millions will still remember him as war criminal, and further resent the honours system that has rewarded him.

Bush and Blair were subjects of satire and ridicule when they started the war. Someone on the Net cut footage of various speeches and press gatherings by the duo to show them singing Electric Six’s ‘Gay Bar’. Which has the fitting lines ‘Let’s start a war. I want to start a nuclear war’. Let’s hope Blair and the world’s other politicians never do.