Posts Tagged ‘Cold War’

Private Eye on Sunday Times’ Smear of Michael Foot as KGB Agent

October 3, 2018

The media this week has been full of the news about a book about the KGB defector, Oleg Gordievsky. Gordievsky was a high-ranking KGB officer, whose father was also a KGB officer, and who had been slated to be the next chief of the Soviet spy agency and secret police. When he defected, Gordievsky brought with him whole dossiers of KGB records, which were invaluable for ending the Cold War. However, Gordievsky himself was a self-admitted liar. And one of those lies was that the former leader of the Labour party, Michael Foot, was a KGB agent codenamed ‘Comrade Boot’.

This falsehood was published in 1995 by the Times, and was promptly answered by a libel action by Foot and a cover by Private Eye sending the whole thing up. Foot won the case, and the Eye also published an article taking apart the whole story and exposing the Times’ article for the libel it was.

Now with the publication of the new biography, the Sunday Times has decided to repeat the libel again. And Private Eye has responded again with another article effectively demolishing this sorry piece of gutter journalism. The piece was published in last fortnight’s Eye for the 21 September to 4 October 2018, and entitled ‘Shooting Yourself in the Foot’, and runs

<strong>”MI6 believed Michael Foot was paid Soviet informant,” a Times front-page headline announced last Saturday. “Truth about former Labour leader emerges 23 years after he sued Sunday Times for libel.” The editor of the Times, John Witherow, also published the Sunday Times story about the former Labour leader in 1995 – and is clearly still sore about the embarrassment and ridicule it earned him.

It’s not only the editor, it’s the same story-based entirely on a claim by former double agent Oleg Gordievsky that he once saw a KGB file marked “Agent Boot”, which apparently referred to Michael Foot. The only difference is that the previous version was taken from Gordievsky’s memoirs while the latest one comes from a new biography of the spy.

According to the Times, The book “presents the first corroboration by MI6 officers of the allegations made by the Soviet defector”. No it doesn’t, at least not in the normal meaning of corroboration, ie additional proof or confirmation. In 1995 the Sunday Times reported Gordievsky’s allegation that the KGB regarded Foot as an agent of influence; now the Times says some people in MI6 thought the Russians regarded him as an agent of influence. And why did they think that? Because, er, Gordievsky had told them so. In short, not a smidgin of supporting evidence has “emerged” since Witherow last ran the story.

At the time of the earlier farrago, the Sunday Times claimed that it was “based on interviews with Gordievsky and six other former KGB officers”. But it omitted to add that only Gordievsky believed in “Agent Boot”. Although the paper claimed that the London-based KGB colonel Mikhail Lyubimov had recruited Foot, Lyubimov himself promptly denied it.

So the allegations were not made by “the KGB”, as Witherow told his readers 23 years ago and again last Saturday. They came solely from a single ex-KGB man, Gordievsky – whose unreliability was officially confirmed in May 1995, just three months after the Sunday Times splash, by the then solicitor-general Sir Derek Spencer. Speaking on behalf of the government during an appeal by Michael Smith, who had been convicted of spying for the Russians, Spencer told the Lord Chief Justice that some boasts made by Gordievsky in his memoirs were “not correct”. He described one of Gordievsky’s claims, about identifying undercover KGB agents to his British controllers, as “another exaggeration”. As the judge observed: “He must have lied to everybody at one time or another.”

With just one witness to rely one, it’s no surprise that Witherow and the Sunday Times couldn’t defend a libel action against Foot. More surprising is that the editor is now repeating even the most egregious howlers from his previous debacle. According to the 1995 story, for instance, Foot regarded Moscow as “a beacon of world peace” until 1968, when the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia brought him “down to earth with a bump” and he ceased to be a fellow-traveler. Exactly the same narrative appeared in last Saturday’s Times. From the 1940s to the 1960s, it claimed, Foot was an “agent of influence” who could be “fed pro-Soviet ideas and reproduce them in articles and speeches” – but in 1968 he became “intensely critical of Moscow in the wake of the Prague Spring”. After that, his “enthusiasm for the Soviet Union appears to have waned”.

The claim that Foot was a pro-Soviet mouthpiece until 1968 is easily disproved. As long ago as 1946, a Labour MP wrote to Tribune complaining of the “jaundiced prejudice against Russia” in Foot’s articles. In 1948, soon after becoming Tribune’s editor, he published a leader attacking left-wingers who “are still gulled by the monstrous delusion that the Russians are the friends, not the enemies, of democratic socialism”. During the Soviet blockade of Berlin, he urged the West to “drive a land passage through the Russian zone against Russian resistance and if necessary by force of arms”.

When Ian Mikardo MP resigned from Tribune’s board of directors in protest at the editor’s anti-Soviet stance, Foot was unapologetic. “The Soviet leaders … believe as a matter of theory that the end of establishing Soviet Communism wherever they can justifies any means for its attainment,” he wrote. “They believe also as a matter of theory in secrecy, censorship, dictatorship and the ruthless annihilation of the rights of individuals.” And so it went on. When the Russian tanks crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Foot was quick to condemn this “hideous outrage”.

Odd behavior for a man who, the Times alleges, wa sbeing paid to publicise “pro-Soviet ideas”. Why didn’t they ask for their money back. (p. 10).

Foot was right: the Soviet Union and the Communists were always hostile to democratic socialism, though Stalin used the existence of democratic socialist parties and other left-wing organisations to provide a spurious democratic justification for his transformation of their countries into Soviet satellites after the end of the Second World War. Stalin would amalgamate the Communist parties of the various countries the USSR had liberated with the largest left-wing party. This was usually the mainstream, democratic socialist under the pretext of reuniting the two forms of Socialism. Before the First World War in Germany and Italy, for example, there was only one socialist party, which included not only democratic socialists – reformists – but also radical Marxist revolutionaries. After the First World War, the radical Marxists split away from the reformist majority parties to form their countries’ Communist parties. In countries where the socialism was weak, Stalin amalgamated the Communists with the largest and most popular left-wing party, such as the various Peasants’ Parties. The new, umbrella Socialist party would then make a statement adopting Marxism-Leninism – the Communism of the Soviet Union – their official ideology, and the democratic socialists would find themselves purged and either executed or sent to the Gulags.

In the West there were some mainstream socialists, who really did believe that Stalin represented Socialism, such as the Fabians. But Foot, to his immense credit, clearly wasn’t one of them.

However, Maggie Thatcher hated socialism, because it came from the same ideological roots as Communism, and the Tory press in the 1980s was very quick to smear any Labour politician or activist as a potential traitor or agent of Moscow. Foot came in for particular abuse because of his support for CND and unilateral nuclear disarmament. It was therefore inevitable that one of the Tory papers would eventually smear him as a KGB agent.

As it stands, the Sunday Times has form on libeling people. As well as smearing Foot, it also libeled Mike as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. Since that article came out, the Sunset Times has repeated the smear and tried to back it up, and the Eye has published yet another tearing it to shreds.

The satirical rag has done an excellent job attacking the lies and falsehoods against Foot. Too bad that it also seems to have swallowed the lies and falsehoods about Jeremy Corbyn.

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‘I’ Newspaper: ‘Have I Got News For You More Trusted than News’

September 22, 2018

Yesterday, Friday 21st September 2018, the I carried a story by Adam Sherwin, which reported that according to its two stars, Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, people see the satirical panel game as more reliable than the news itself. The article said

Have I Got News For You is a more trusted source of news for viewers than official bulletins, the show’s stars have claimed.

Team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton said the long-running satirical series now plays a vital role in challenging “fake news”.

Hislop said: “One of the most cheering things about Have I Got News For You is quite a lot of people get their information from us, which should be terrifying in a properly functioning society.

“I walked in through the door of this hotel today and a man came up and said, ‘I absolutely love Have I Got News For You’ and I said, ‘That’s really nice of you’. He said, ‘I’m from Israel… It’s the only sensible news we get’. And you just think, ‘Oh’.

The Private Eye editor added: “We’ve a very big fan base among immigrants and people from backgrounds where they can’t believe you’re allowed to be this rude, which is a thrill compared to the countries they come from.”

Meron said: “That’s certainly part of the element of its longevity is thatpeople come to it for the news.” (p. 5).

Now I prefer to watch Have I Got News For You rather than the news because I get so irritated with the Beeb and its very strong bias against the Labour party and particularly Jeremy Corbyn. And Hislop’s right that in a properly functioning society it would be alarming that more people are tuning into a comedy show for the news rather than the news itself.

But we don’t live in a properly functioning society. We live in a society dominated by very right-wing politics, almost uniformly promoted by the media. And it’s very much because of this that alternative news sources, particularly on the internet, have been growing at the expense of the mainstream broadcasters and print publishers.

But Private Eye and Have I Got News For You have also not been averse to spreading ‘fake news’. I stopped watching Have I Got News For You and reading the Eye a little while ago because I got sick and tired of their anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn bias and their promotion of the lies justifying current British foreign policy: that Putin is going to take over the whole of Ukraine and is a threat to NATO, and that we should stand solidly behind the rebels in Syria. Even though those same rebels are Islamists, of the same stripe that launched 9/11 and have been campaigning against every secular, nationalist or socialist regimes in the Middle East. And have been aided in this by the West, which saw them as a useful force against Communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And now that they’ve shown themselves to be a real threat to peace in the region, they’re being supported again for simple reasons of global geopolitics and the greed of western multinationals and the oil industry.

But you don’t read about this in Private Eye, or see it on Have I Got News For You.

I’ve gone back to reading the Eye and watching HIGNFY, because they’re funny, interesting and do provide an oppositional voice. But they are still themselves unreliable, and have their own, hidden biases, which need to be guarded against. This goes beyond the simple attitude that HIGNFY is a comedy show, and so shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Both the show and the Eye are still part of the media establishment, and so share some of their assumptions and prejudices.

Refuting Anti-Semitism Smears with the Reasonableness Test: Part Two

May 25, 2018

The claims that some of the comments made by critics of Israel are anti-Semitic because of their imagery and language used also reminds me very strongly of the claims made by some of the paranoid conspiracy theorists themselves. For example, Israel has constructed a wall around itself designed to keep the Palestinians out. This is very controversial, and the great British caricaturist, Gerald Scarfe, drew a cartoon of the Israelis building it using the blood of the Palestinians as mortar. The picture was published either in the Independent, or the I. The Israeli ambassador, an odious creep called Mark Regev, immediately declared that the cartoon was anti-Semitic. The inclusion of blood in the picture was a reference to the Blood Libel, the murderous lie that Jews kill Christians and use their blood in the matzo bread at Passover.

In fact, the cartoon contained no reference to this vile libel. There were no references to either the Passover, matzo bread or ritual murder. It was purely about the wall, and the Israelis’ butchery of the Palestinians. But the accusation had the intended effect. The I or Independent caved in and made an apology. But blood and its imagery is a very common image used to portray the brutality of oppressive, violent regimes and groups of all types around the world. It is certainly not confined to Jews. Regev was, of course, making the accusation of anti-Semitism to close down a graphic portrayal of the Israeli state’s brutality, as the Israel lobby has been doing to its critics since the 1980s. But his accusation bears less relation to objective fact than to some of the really paranoid theories that have circulated around America about secret cabals of Satanists plotting to destroy American society from within.

One of these, which surfaced c. 1982, concerned Proctor and Gamble and their logo, as shown below.

As you can see, this shows a ‘Man in the Moon’ surrounded by thirteen stars. According to the rumour, which was boosted through its inclusion by several Southern fundamentalist Christian preachers in their sermons, the imagery reveals that the company is run by Satanists. The thirteen stars represent the thirteen members of a witches’ coven, and the ‘Man in the Moon’ is really Satan himself. Especially as the curls of the figures hair is supposed to show the number 666, the number of the Beast, the Antichrist, in the Book of Revelations. See the illustration below, where I’ve circled where I think these ‘Satanic’ curls are.

Now if you applied the rule adopted by the lawyers for the Israel lobby to the imagery here, you could argue that it is fair to accuse Proctor and Gamble of Satanism, because that’s how its logo and its imagery has struck thousands of Americans. But you be ill-advised to do so, because the company vehemently denies any Satanic connections. It’s actually a patriotic symbol, with the thirteen stars representing the thirteen founding colonies of the USA. The company has also redesigned the logo to iron out those curls, so that they no longer appear to show 666, and engaged the services of other right-wing fundamentalist preachers, like Jerry Falwell, to show that the company is not run by Satanists. They also have a very aggressive legal policy, so that if you do claim that they’re a bunch of Satanists, they will sue. And I very much doubt that the court will be impressed by claims that the company must be Satanic, ’cause somebody can think that looking at their logo.

This is real, Alex Jones, tin-foil hat stuff. And stupid rumours of Satanic conspiracies have real consequences for ordinary people, just like the smears of anti-Semitism have been used to damage the lives and reputations of decent people. We have seen people falsely accused of child sacrifices and abuse, based on no more than fake recovered memories, in scenes that could have come out of the Salem witch hunt back in the 17th century. Some of them have even gone to prison. This is why it is absolutely important that people are always considered innocent until proven guilty, and that accusations of Satanic ritual abuse, and anti-Semitism, should always be held to objective, not subjective standards. The rule that such accusations must be believed, because somebody may think that a person is a Satanist or racist, simply on the way a comment subjectively strikes them, only leads to terrible injustice.

The Israel lobby here are showing the same paranoid psychology that permeates the racist, anti-Semitic extreme right. The type of people, who search the newspapers and other texts looking for proofs that the Illuminati really do run the world. Or that the Zionist Occupation Government really has taken over America and the West, and is attempting to destroy the White race through racial intermixing. Or that Communists have burrowed into the American government.

One of the proofs of this last conspiracy theory was the tiny lettering on the Roosevelt dime. Just below FDR’s neck and extremely small, were the letters ‘JS’. According to the rumour, the letters stood for ‘Joe Stalin’. This rumour first appeared in the Cold War, in 1948, when the scare about ‘Reds under the bed’ was just beginning. But it’s completely false. Oh, the letters are there, but they don’t stand for Stalin. They’re the initials of the coin’s designer, John Sinnock. You can claim all you want that the claim is subjectively true, because liberalism and the welfare state = Communism, or some such similar right-wing bilge. But it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law.

And some Christian fundamentalists in America have also seen in the colours used by state roads signs evidence of a conspiracy to put them in concentration camps. Back in the 1990s there was a rumour panic going around about the colours used in spots adorning the highway signs in Pennsylvania. These were supposed to show the location of the concentration camps, in which true Christians would be incarcerated when the Communists or one world Satanic conspiracy came to power. In fact they showed no such thing. The state’s highway department used the dots as a colour code to mark the year the sign was first painted. This was to show how old the sign was, and so indicate when it should be repainted.

Continued in Part Three.

Ken Livingstone Talks about his Resignation from the Labour Party due to Anti-Semitism Smears

May 24, 2018

On Monday, Ken Livingstone resigned from the Labour party. He had been suspended from the party following the smears that he was an anti-Semite and had claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. This was completely untrue. As Red Ken goes on to say in the interview with RT, he never claimed that Hitler was a Zionist, only that he briefly supported Zionism. It is abundantly clear if you read Livingstone’s 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, that a racist of any stripe is the very last thing the former head of the GLC is. He makes it very clear that he is firmly opposed to anti-Semitism as well as anti-Black and anti-Irish racism, and details with the disgust and outrage the way the British state recruited Nazis, including those responsible for pogroms against the Jews and the Holocaust, as agents in the Cold War struggle against Communism. The claim that Livingstone said Hitler was a Zionist is an invention of John Mann, the Blairites and the Israel lobby, and repeated ad nauseam, ad infinitum, by the Conservative press and media in order to smear and discredit him. And they are still doing it. Deborah Orr, one of the wretched columnists in the I newspaper, claimed that he had said the Hitler was a Zionist, which shows how much she, and her editor, care about factual reporting. Mike has also covered on his blog how the Israel lobby continue to point to an interview Red Ken gave on Sky as showing that he was anti-Semitic. Which also shows they haven’t bothered to watch it, as in the interview Ken thoroughly refutes the allegations and shoots down those making them.

In this interview, Livingstone answers the question why it has taken him so long to resign. He replies that his instinct has always been to fight on to the end, whether it was against Thatcher or Tony Blair. But he chose to resign now because the controversy and lies surrounding him were becoming too much of a distraction. He was suspended two years ago in 2016. After a year, there was another three day hearing, which couldn’t refute the charges against him, and so extended the suspension for another year. He wanted to take his accusers to court, but was told by his lawyer that it would take at least two years to get there. He considered that it was too much of a distraction from Labour’s real programme under Corbyn, which he makes very clear has a real chance of winning.

When asked about whether the allegations have damaged Labour’s chances, for example, in Barnet, which has a high Jewish population, Red Ken said that of course people would be shocked when they hear that he said that Hitler was a Zionist, that it’s not anti-Semitic to hate Jews in Israel, or that Jews are Nazis, but he was struck by the number of Jews, who came up to him on the street to tell him that they knew what he said was true. This was that in 1933 Hitler and the Zionists made a deal to send some Jews to Israel. They didn’t like each other, but as a result, 60,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine. If they had stayed in Germany, they would have been murdered in the Holocaust. So it’s the lesser of two evils, according to Livingstone.

When the interviewer asks him if these allegations haven’t put a dent in Labour’s electoral chances, such as in Barnet, Livingstone tells him that half a dozen Jews have asked him on the street why he claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. And he’s told them that he never said that. Unfortunately, Livingstone never completes that reply due to a technical fault.

The interviewer then moves on to ask him if he really believes that Labour has a chance under Corbyn. Livingstone says clearly that everyone said that Labour would be wiped out during the next election. But in fact, Corbyn delivered the greatest increase in the Labour vote since the 1945 election, and they came within two per cent of the Tories. They could have gotten more, if the party had been united and MPs hadn’t been trying to unseat their leader. He states that Corbyn has excellent plans for massive public investment, improved service, creating new jobs and investing in high tech industries. That connected with people, and will connect with people at the next election.

The interview ends with the question of what Livingstone will do now that he’s retired from politics and whether he will return. Livingstone states that he retired from politics after he lost the election to Boris Johnson in 2012. Now he’s an old age pensioner and a house-husband, walking the kids and feeding the dog.

It’s a very, very good interview with Livingstone making it very clear that he definitely did not say what the liars in the Blairites, the Israel lobby and the press have accused him of. As for Jews telling Livingstone that they know he didn’t say those things, I can well believe this. Mike has put up innumerable pieces on his blog showing the support of many Jews and Jewish groups for Corbyn and the victims of the anti-Semitism smears, pointing out that there is absolutely no truth in them. Especially as so many of those libelled as anti-Semites are self-respecting Jews. The alliance between the Nazis and the Zionists is solid historical fact, and included in respected historical studies of the Holocaust, such as that of the Zionist historian, David Cesarani. It was called the Ha’avara agreement, and there’s a page on it on the site of the International Holocaust Museum in Israel. All you have to do is google it to find out that what Livingstone said was the truth.

Mike is disappointed with Ken’s decision to resign, as this also affects the legal chances of those, like him, who have been smeared trying to defend Livingstone. He writes

The shame of it is that certain people will take Mr Livingstone’s decision as an admission of guilt – and that he will not have the opportunity to put the record straight.

That means he is letting down others who have been put in the same situation (like This Writer).

I’m not backing down – and if Labour’s disciplinary panel find against me, I’ll happily sue the party because my good name is not a negotiable commodity.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/21/ken-livingstone-quits-labour-not-due-to-any-guilt-but-because-of-the-row-kicked-up-by-right-whingers/

It goes without saying that I’m backing Mike, and everybody else who has been foully smeared by these contemptible knaves, 100 per cent. While I understand why Livingstone has raised, I am afraid this will just serve to encourage the Blairites and the Israel lobby in their campaign against Corbyn and the true Labour moderates. They will not be placated by just taking down a few, sacrificial supporters, like Livingstone. Now that they’ve seen their campaign is effective, they will keep on and on. The best defence is attack, and the only way to tackle them is to meet them head on, and refute every one of their dam’ lies. They are not as secure as they think they are. The Blairites live in holy terror of the constituency parties deselecting them. The Israel lobby itself is becoming painfully aware that smears of anti-Semitism aren’t having the affect they used to have. And Jonathan Arkush’s own position as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews is looking very rocky after his disgusting comments trying to cast the blame on the victims of the Gaza massacre, rather than the Israelis.

The Blairites and the Israel lobby are bullies. They are in a far weaker position than they wish to appear, and are responding by smears, lies and throwing their weight around. But you can stand up to bullies, and bring them down.

Craig Murray on RT Criticising Government’s Lie and Half-Truths on Skripal Poisoning

April 4, 2018

Craig Murray was our ambassador to Uzbekistan, before he fell foul of the government and establishment for standing up and recommending that we shouldn’t do deals with them because it was an oppressive dictatorship. Murray’s been fiercely criticising the official line that the substance used to poison the Skripals was manufactured in Russia. In this short interview with RT, which is just over five minutes long, he further tears apart the government’s accusations of Russian responsibility.

Murray states that he was told by people in the Foreign Office two weeks ago that they couldn’t say that Russia manufactured the poison. He talks about how there was pressure on Porton Down to say it was Russian, but the latest statement by the government slightly amending their stance is nothing more than information management. The government was aware that the International Chemical Weapons Authority were going to issue a statement that there is no evidence the Russians were responsible, and so modified their own statements about it accordingly. The RT interviewer asks him about the poison, and whether it is so complex and difficult to manufacture that it requires the resources of a state. Murray replies that there are at least half a dozen states that could manufacture the Novichoks nerve agent. As for it being too complicated for anyone, he cites Prof. Collum in New York, a chemist, who said that any of his postgraduate students could have made it.

He also talks about a film that has been broadcast stating the government’s opinion on the poisoning. He observes that the end of the film looks like it has been tacked on. It is as though the film makers were also pressured to add a bit more to their film in order for it to support the government’s line.

The RT interviewer then mentions that Murray was an ambassador to Uzbekistan, and asks if the Uzbeks could have manufactured the poison. Murray repeats that half a dozen states could, and says that there was indeed a chemical weapons plant in Uzbekistan. This was dismantled by the Americans, and he attended the party that was held when they had finished the job. The materials were then taken back to America, so the Americans certainly have the ability to manufacture the poison. The facility, however, was soviet, not Russian, and there were people of many nationalities working in it, including Ukrainians. They have now returned to the Ukraine, so that country now possesses the knowledge and ability to manufacture the poison.

He also tears apart the statement of one other country, which denied that they produced the poison. He notes that they didn’t say that they couldn’t make it, only that it wouldn’t have come from them, because their security was too tight.

Murray states that what is needed in Salisbury poisoning is a proper criminal investigation with all the resources these have. But this has not been done. Instead, the government has leapt in, with little thought or evidence, to accuse the Russians in order to increase the Cold War tensions with Russia and create a confrontation with them.

The Salisbury Poisoning: A Pretext for War with Russia?

March 21, 2018

This alarming idea occurred to me yesterday, when I started wondering just how far the Tories are prepared to push their allegations that Russia is responsible for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. So far, there’s precious little evidence that the Russians are responsible. Skripal had many enemies, and the Novichoks nerve agent used was created by the Russians, but the international chemical weapons authorities confirmed that they destroyed their stocks years ago. The poison wasn’t manufactured in Russia, but in Khazakstan, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union the ability to use and produce it spread to any number of other states. Including America and Israel. The government has so far refused to hand over a sample of the toxin over to the UN authority, so they can independently verify whether it is Novichoks, and Porton Down refused to follow the Tory line that the poison was definitely Russian, insisting instead that it was of a type developed by Russia. This last episode is very much like the way Tony Blair and New Labour ‘sexed up’ the MI6 report about Saddam Hussein and his non-existent weapons of mass destruction, so they could have the pretext they needed for the planned invasion of Iraq. Which makes you wonder how far the Tories are prepared to push this.

National security doesn’t seem to come into it. This seems to me to be just part of the new Cold War, started by Killary and the Democrats in America to take attention away from the fact that Clinton and her corporatist friends are horrible candidates that the American public didn’t like, and largely didn’t want in power. Ramping up tensions with Russia is useful to the Tories on this side of the Pond, as so many people have pointed out, because too many people are sick and tired of them, their cuts and their lies. And so it looks like they’re deliberately manipulating the crisis, so they can present themselves as the true, patriotic defenders of Britain, standing up to evil foreign dictators. Just like Maggie during the Falklands War.

And all the while smearing Corbyn as an evil Commie traitor in league with the Czechs and Russians. Cue the BBC and its carefully altered imagery on Newsnight to show Corbyn looking as sinister as possible.

I’m starting to worry how far the Tories are going to be prepared to push this. A couple of years ago there were NATO generals confidently predicting that by May last year, this country would be at war with Russia. Indeed, one of them even published a book about it with that as the very title. The idea was that the Russians would invade one of the Baltic States – I think it was Latvia. Mercifully, that never happened. But I am worried in case the same people on our side of the geopolitical divide nevertheless still think that a genuine, hot war will be a good idea.

Putin is a thug, and I don’t doubt for a single minute that he was behind the Litvinenko poisoning, and probably the murders of the 14 other Russians, who have died over here in suspicious circumstances. But there are very good reasons for remaining sceptical about their responsibility for the attack in Salisbury. And I don’t think ‘national security’ is the prime reason why they are blaming Russia. I read elsewhere that much of the hostility towards Russia comes from American multinationals. These poured hundreds of millions into Russia under Boris Yeltsin, when he was trying to transform it into a western-style democracy, and privatising anything that wasn’t nailed down. The Americans expected that they would be able to dominate the Russian economy. Putin stopped that, and kept Russia firmly out of America’s economic claws. Hence the massive resentment of the Russian president in American business and political circles.

It looks to me very much like the Tories and transatlantic multinationals are trying to force a confrontation with Putin, but not necessarily a war, simply for their own political and economic advantage. National security, and the poisoning and contamination of Salisbury, is just an excuse, a convenient pretext for this. Quite apart from NATO’s determination to prop up an increasingly blatant Nazi government in Ukraine, all the while keeping its true nature hidden from the rest of us. ‘Cause after all, the vast majority of severely normal Brits, Europeans and Americans very definitely would not want to back a bunch of genuine Nazis, goose-stepping around in the very uniforms their predecessors in the SS wore during World War II when they were murdering Jews and anybody else they decided was ‘subhuman’.

There’s a lot of very squalid politics going on here, and I do wonder how far the Tories and their allies are prepared to push this so they can weaken the Russian president.

Lobster on Real Conspiracies Versus Conspiracy Theories: Part One

March 18, 2018

Florence, one of the great commenters to this blog, alerted me the other day about a decision by YouTube. Apparently they’re planning to link any posts about conspiracies to pages in Wikipedia debunking them. She’s understandably very concerned about this because it is the first step to policing our minds, and telling us all what we should or should not believe.

There are indeed some very pernicious conspiracy theories around, which do need debunking. Like the stupid, murderous ideas that the Jews are conspiring through their control of the banks, media and Communism to destroy the White, ‘Aryan’ races. Or that they have been actively trying to destroy Islam and the Arabs since the days of Mohammed. And then there’s all the nutty ideas about the US government being in cahoots with evil reptoid aliens from Zeta Reticulum. And so on.

But there are also real conspiracies. Lobster as a magazine is dedicated to exposing them. Mostly these real conspiracies are about clandestine groups of activists, ideologues, business leaders, lobbyists and various intelligences agencies conspiring towards distinct short-term goals. Like the implementation of a set of policies, like neoliberalism, and attacking and undermining Communism during the Cold War. Or producing suitable pretexts for more western imperialism, like the Neocons in the US and Britain started faking material to suggest Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

These conspiracies certainly exist. And when Al-Jazeera showed Shai Masot at the Israeli embassy discussing with various Friends of Israel the people he wanted in May’s cabinet, Mike rightly called it a conspiracy. But because he used the term, the Blairites and Zionists in the Labour party have accused him of being anti-Semitic, because ‘conspiracy’ = the bogus, malign conspiracy theories of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other malign lies of that sort.

Lobster had published a number of articles over the years on the difference between real and fake conspiracy theories. One of these was by Jeffrey M. Bale in issue 29, entitled ”Conspiracy Theories’ and Clandestine Politics’, on pages 16-17, 19-22. It’s part of the introductory chapter to his Ph.D. thesis, The ‘Black’ Terrorist International: Neo-Fascist Paramilitary Networks and the ‘Strategy of Tension’ in Italy, 1968-1974, University of California at Berkeley, 1994. He begins by discussing why mainstream academic writers ignore real conspiracies. He writes

Very few notions generate as much intellectual resistance, hostility and derision with academic circles as a belief in the historical importance or efficacy of political conspiracies. Even when this belief is expressed in a very cautious manner, limited to specific and restricted contexts, supported by reliable evidence, and hedged about with all sort of qualifications, it still manages to transcend the boundaries of acceptable discourse and violate unspoken academic taboos. The idea that particular groups of people meet together secretly or in private to plan various courses of action, and that some of these plans actually exert a significant influence on particular historical developments, is typically rejected out of hand and assumed to be the figment of a paranoid imagination. The mere mention of the world ‘conspiracy’ seems to set off an internal alarm bell which causes scholars to close their minds in order to avoid cognitive dissonance and possible unpleasantness, since the popular image of conspiracy both fundamentally challenges the conception most educated, sophisticate people about how the world operates, and reminds them of the horrible persecution that absurd and unfounded conspiracy theories have precipitated or sustained in the past. So strong is this prejudice among academics that even when clear evidence of a plot is inadvertently discovered in the course of their research, they frequently feel compelled, either out of a sense of embarrassment or to defuse anticipated criticism, to preface their account of it by ostentatiously disclaiming a belief in conspiracies. They then often attempt to downplay the significance of the plotting they have uncovered. To do otherwise, that is to make a serious effort to incorporate the documented activities of conspiratorial groups into their general political or historical analyses, would force them to stretch their mental horizons beyond customary bounds and, not inadvertently, delve even further into certain sordid and politically sensitive topics. Most academic researchers clearly prefer to ignore the implications of conspiratorial politics altogether rather than deal directly with such controversial matters.

A number of complex cultural and historical factors contribute to this reflexive and unwarranted reaction, but it is perhaps most often the direct result of a simple failure to distinguish between ‘conspiracy theories’ in the strict sense of the term, which are essentially elaborate fables even though they may well be based upon a kernel of truth, and the activities of actual clandestine and covert political groups, which are a common feature of modern politics. For this and other reasons, serious research into genuine conspiratorial networks has at worst been suppressed, as a rule been discouraged, and at best looked upon with condescension by the academic community. An entire dimension of political history and contemporary politics has thus been consistently neglected. (P. 16).

The article goes on to discuss some of the classic, bogus conspiracy theories, like those around the Bavarian Illuminati, or Prince Clemens von Metternich’s claim in the 1880s that there was a central committee in Paris directing all the radicals in Europe in their campaigns to overthrow their governments; and the murderous Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He distinguishes the common elements amongst these malign conspiracies. These theories state that the members of the conspiratorial group are evil incarnate. They are monolithic and unerring when pursuing their goals. They are omnipresent and virtually omnipotent, and are the motive force of all history.

He contrasts this with real conspiracies, whose members are recognisable human, and very definitely not monolithic. These conspiracies are in competition with many other similar groups trying to pursue their goals. They are also restricted in time and space. He states

There is probably not a single secret organisation anywhere which has existed continuously from antiquity to the present, and only a small number could have had a continuous existence for more than a century. And, with the possible exception of those which are created and sponsored by the governments of major nations and the world’s most powerful business and religious institutions, the range of activity of specific clandestine groups is invariably limited to particular geographic or sectoral arenas. (Pp. 20-1).

Continued in Part Two.

The Death Toll of the American Empire

March 14, 2018

I was reading one of the book reviews in issue 59 of Lobster yesterday, when I was struck by this little piece of information. The article included an estimate of the number of people, who have been killed worldwide, thanks to the Americans propping up a series of extreme right-wing and Fascist dictators as part of their global war on Communism. The number of people these butchers may have murdered is somewhere from eight to thirty million.

One of the very strong arguments against Communism, at least in its Leninist/Stalinist/Maoist variety is the number of people it’s killed around the world. And the strongest argument against Fascism is also the number of people those regimes have murdered, for no reason other than their ethnicity, political convictions or that they were simply disabled and so ‘unworthy of life’. The death toll inflicted by American imperialism, however, puts the US well into the league of murderous global states.

But this imperialism is still being promoted as giving the world freedom and democracy, despite the fact that it manifestly doesn’t. It gives instead its victims nothing but slavery, torture and death, all for multinational corporate interests.

Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ Documentary from 2009: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby – Part Three

March 11, 2018

Honest Reporting claims to have 175,000 subscribers, and organises letter writing campaigns against the Beeb. The BBC Trust censured Jeremy Bowen for comments he made about the history of the conflict. His piece was withdrawn. But Bowen had published an article the week before in the Jewish Chronicle, using the same phrases that Honest Reporting found so objectionable, and which was still up at that rag’s website. CAMERA and the other parts of the Israel lobby complained, forcing the Beeb to investigate Bowen. This had a chilling effect on the other staff in the newsroom, who felt that they too were under attack. Jonathan Dimbleby thought the BBC had caved in under pressure from them. Which meant that he too came under investigation for anti-Semitism for making the above comments. The BBC Trust went to Oxford to interview Avi Shlaim about Bowen. Shlaim said that he couldn’t fault Bowen’s comments, concludes that some people in the Jewish community are too quick to criticise reporting. As for Honest Reporting, their office is not in Britain but Jerusalem. Their managing Director Simon Flosker is British, but worked for BICOM and the Israeli Army Press Office. Flosker declined to be interviewed, but issued a statement claiming that the BBC and the Guardian were biased against Israel, more so than other countries such as America.

And then there is the noxious incident, where these scum stopped the BBC raising an appeal for the victims of the Gaza invasion. The BBC has a long history of raising appeals for the victims of disasters. During Israel’s invasion 1,000 civilians in Gaza were killed. There was a move for the BBC to broadcast an appeal, but this was turned down by the Beeb’s Director-General, Mark Thompson. Ben Bradshaw, the Labour Minister for Media, was outraged. He stated that the Israel lobby was showing all the qualities of a bully. A BBC spokeswoman then explains to Oborne that the issue was too much trouble, and that it would cause people to lose confidence in the Corporation’s impartiality. She claims that the corporation took the advice of an independent committee. But Niam Alam, who was a member of the Committee, resigned over it. He said that the Committee never met to discuss the issue, and was never consulted. The appeal was eventually broadcast on Channel 4, where there were absolutely no complaints about its impartiality. Oborne’s documentary includes the appeal to show that it is, indeed, apolitical and impartial. The other members of the Committee refused to speak in public. When he tried to get them, and other charities and aid agencies, to talk about general humanitarian issues, they too declined. They included Oxfam, Christian Aid, Catholic Aid, and Cathod.

The Beeb’s decision not to broadcast the appeal is unusual, and breaks with the Corporation’s long tradition of making such broadcasts. In 1982 the Corporation broadcast an appeal for the victims of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, during which Palestinian men were butchered in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by the Christian Phalange, who were Israel’s allies during the invasion. Oborne states that the BBC is in danger of losing its reputation for impartiality around the world. The Israel Lobby has good access to politicos, and their loyalty is not to Britain, but to a mixture of interests, which may include Britain, but also the interests of another country. Oborne states that in making the documentary they have found nothing like a conspiracy, but a lack of transparency and the influence of the Israel lobby continues to be felt.

Of course, Oborne was accused of anti-Semitism for this piece, which he was successfully able to defend himself against. Looking at his denial of finding a conspiracy, you can see how he is attempting to fend off one of the accusations that has been levelled at Mike. He was accused of promoting Nazi-style conspiracy theories because he called the meeting between Shai Masot and the Tory Israel Lobby about arranging, who they wanted in the cabinet a conspiracy. This is what it is. It had nothing to do with stupid theories about international bankers financing communism to destroy the White race. it was a real conspiracy, just as there have always been real conspiracies of secretive groups meeting to pursue distinct political goals. Like the various CIA and British Secret Service intelligence operations run against Communism during the Cold War, and the various other lobbying groups now infesting parliament.

The picture that emerges of the Israel lobby is that it is a collection of very wealthy, very well-funded groups determined to suppress even mild criticism of Israel through ruthless bullying and intimidation. And it seems clear to me that Mike, and the others libelled as anti-Semites by the Sunday Times, the Mail, Express, Scum and Jerusalem Post, were the subjects of an organised campaign by the Tory Friends of Israel, possibly with the collusion of the Israeli embassy.

It also raises profound questions about Mike’s suspension from the Labour party. He was given no formal charges, and the identity of his accuser was never disclosed. How convenient. So who were they? Jonathan Mendelsohn, perhaps? One of the other high-ranking Blairites, scared that Mike was giving their former beloved leader a dam’ good, and very well deserved bashing? And behind them is their another pro-Israel donor, someone like Lord Levy, who will get into a ‘fearful bate’, as Molesworth would sa, and take his money elsewhere if the Labour party didn’t dance to his tune.

These groups are vicious, nasty, bullies, who libel and smear with impunity. It’s high time they were stopped in their tracks. Too many decent people, including self-respecting Jews, have been smeared as anti-Semites by these scoundrels. But from the comments of one of the Israel lobby’s leaders, Schanzer, it appears that they may be overreaching themselves. The claims of anti-Semitism have been overused. They’re not having the same effect. Well, soon I hope these accusations in this context will have no effect at all. And the time can’t come soon enough when that will happen, and when those who make those smears will have to face justice for their lies.

Here’s the video:

There’s a full transcript of it at Open Democracy Net.

Lobster: Torygraph Running MI5 ‘Red Scare’ Stories against Labour Again.

March 7, 2018

Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, has some very interesting comments about the recent libels in the Torygraph about Jeremy Corbyn meeting a Czech spy, going under cover as a diplomat, in his ‘The View from the Bridge’ column in the latest issue, no. 75.. Or rather, not about that story so much – he considers most of it invention, especially the part about money changing hands – but about another story in the same issue of the Torygraph about Rob Hayward. Hayward was the General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1972 to 1982. According to the Torygraph article, he had secret meetings with KGB officials at the Russian Embassy, where he talked about circumventing the power of the parliamentary Labour party, which would allow him to come out with the same agenda alongside the Communists. The article was written by one Giles Udy, who is described in his publisher’s blurb as a member of the council of the Keston Institute.

The Keston Institute specialises in the study of religion in the Soviet Union and the Communist states. It was set up by the Reverend Michael Bourdeaux, Sir John Lawrence, Leonard Schapiro and Peter Reddaway. Ramsay writes of it and its founders

Schapiro wrote books for, and Reddaway was a member of, the Information Research Department (IRD) the Foreign Office’s anti-subversion, anti-Soviet organisation about which a great deal has been written, not least in these columns. Schapiro was also a member, and briefly chair of, Brian Crozier’s Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC). 6 In other words, the Keston Institute is a product of the Anglo-American anti-Soviet and anti-communist apparatus created during the Cold War. This explains why Mr Udy was given access to surveillance tapes of the Soviet embassy in London. If it isn’t funded by them, Keston liaises with the British security and intelligence services. With the arrival of Jeremy Corby and a left-leaning Labour Party membership, the dust is being blown off a lot of old files all over Whitehall . . . .

The Cold Warriors are back. All the bug-eyed paranoiacs, who were convinced that Harold Wilson was a KGB spy, whose number included James Jesus Angleton, the head of the CIA, and Margaret Thatcher, are now back at it running red scare stories against Jeremy Corbyn. ‘Cos he threatens the course of western capitalism by wanting to renationalise the health service, parts of the national grid and the railways. And this is clearly enough to panic the secret state’s guardians of neoliberalism, the same kind of people who used to rant about ‘union subversion’ and thought up schemes to have left wingers, including journos, interned somewhere in the Hebrides or Shetland after a right-wing coup had overthrown the Labour government.

Lobster is at https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/. Go to number 75 on the side column, click on it, and open ‘The View From the Bridge’. This piece about the Torygraph is entitled ‘Just Like Old Times’, because, obviously, it is just like old times when the British Secret State was doing its level best to bring down Labour.