Posts Tagged ‘Cold War’

Frontiers Magazine on Robot Weapons

October 23, 2016

The popular science magazine, Frontiers, way back in October 1998 ran an article on robots. This included two pages on the ‘Soldiers of Tomorrow’, military robots then under development. This included drones. These are now extremely well-known, if not notorious, for the threat they pose to privacy and freedom. The article notes that they were developed from the unmanned planes used for target practice. They were first used in the 1960s to fly reconnaissance missions in Vietnam after the US air force suffered several losses from surface to air missiles. Drones were also used during the Cold War to spy on the Soviet Union, though instead of beaming the pictures back to their operators, they had to eject them physically. They were further developed by the Israelis, who used them to spy on their Arab neighbours during their many wars. Their next development was during the Gulf War, when they broadcast back to their operators real-time images of the battlefields they were surveying.

Apart from drones, the article also covered a number of other war machines under development. This included remotely operated ground vehicles like SARGE, and the Mobility Module and remotely controlled buggy shown below.

robot-army-cars

SARGE was a scout vehicle adapted from a Yamaha four-wheel drive all-terrain jeep. Like the drones, it was remotely controlled by a human operator. The top photo of the two above showed the Mobility Module mounted aboard another army vehicle, which contained a number of reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition sensors. Below it is a missile launcher fixed to another remote-control buggy. The article also carried a photo of a Rockwell Hellfire missile being launched from another of this type of adapted vehicle.

robot-army-car-missile

Next to this was a photo of the operator in his equipment, who controlled the Tele-Operated Vehicle, or TOV, as the developers were calling such machines.

robot-army-car-operator

Another of the machines described in the article was the Telepresent Rapid Aiming System, a robot gun designed by Graham Hawkes and Precision Remotes of California as a sentry robot. As the article itself notes, it’s similar to the tunnel machine guns used by the Space Marines in the film Aliens. It could either be operated by remote control, or made fully automatic and configured to shoot live ammunition. At the time the article was written it had already been tested by a number of different law enforcement agencies.

The only vaguely humanoid robot was the Robart III, shown below.

robot-solider

This machine was able to track a target automatically using its video vision, and possessed laser guidance to allow it to be operated remotely. In demonstrations it carried a pneumatic dart gun, capable of firing tranquillizer darts at intruders. In combat situations this would be replaced with a machine gun. It was designed to be used as a mechanical security guard.

The article also stated that miniature crawling robots were also under development. These would be used to creep up on enemy positions, sending back to their operators video images of their progress. If such machines were mass-produced, their price could fall to about £10. This would mean that it would be easily affordable to saturate an area with them. (pp. 56-7).

The article describes the state of development of these machines as it was nearly 20 years ago. Drones are now so widespread, that they’ve become a nuisance. I’ve seen them in sale in some of the shops in Cheltenham for anything from £36 to near enough £400. Apart from the military, they’re being used by building surveyors and archaeologists.

And while robots like the above might excite enthusiasts for military hardware, there are very serious issues with them. The Young Turks, Secular Talk and Jimmy Dore have pointed out on their shows that Bush and Obama have violated the American constitution by using drones to assassinate terrorists, even when they are resident in friendly or at least non-hostile countries. Despite all the talk by the American army about ‘surgical strikes’, these weapons in fact are anything but precise instruments that can kill terrorists while sparing civilians. The three programmes cited, along with no doubt many other shows and critics, have stated that most of the victims of drone attacks are civilians and the families of terrorists. The drones may be used to home in on mobile signals, so that the person killed has been someone using their phone, rather than the terrorists themselves. Others have been worried about the way the operation of these weapons through remote control have distanced their human operators, and by extension the wider public, from the bloody reality of warfare.

Way back in the first Gulf War, one of the French radical philosophers in his book, The Gulf War Never Happened, argued that the extensive use of remotely controlled missiles during the war, and the images from them that were used in news coverage at the time, meant that for many people the Gulf War was less than real. It occurred in Virtual Reality, like a simulation in cyberspace. Recent criticism of the military use of drones as killing machines by whistleblowers have borne out these fears. One, who was also an instructor on the drone programme, described the casual indifference to killing, including killing children, of the drone pilots. They referred to their actions as ‘mowing the lawn’, and their child victims as ‘fun-sized terrorists’, justifying their deaths by arguing that as the children of terrorists, they would have grown up to be terrorists themselves. Thus they claimed to have prevented further acts of terrorism through their murder. And they did seem to regard the operation of the drones almost as a video game. The instructor describes how he threw one trainee off the controls after he indulged in more, unnecessary bloodshed, telling him, ‘This is not a computer game!’

And behind this is the threat that such machines will gain their independence to wipe out or enslave humanity. This is the real scenario behind Dr Kevin Warwick’s book, March of the Machines, which predicts that by mid-century robots will have killed the majority of humanity and enslaved the rest. A number of leading scientists have called for a halt on the development of robot soldiers. About 15 or twenty years ago there was a mass outcry from scientists and political activists after one government announced it was going to develop fully autonomous robot soldiers.

I’m a fan of the 2000 AD strip, ‘ABC Warriors’, which is about a group of robot soldiers, who now fight to ‘increase the peace’, using their lethal skills to rid the galaxy of criminals and tyrants and protect the innocent. The robots depicted in the strip are fully conscious, intelligent machines, with individual personalities and their own moral codes. The Frontiers article notes elsewhere that we’re a long way from developing such sophisticated AI, stating that he did not believe he would see it in his lifetime. On the other hand, Pat Mills, the strips’ writer and creator, says in the introduction to one of the collected volumes of the strips on the ‘Volgan War’, that there is a Russian robot, ‘Johnny 5’, that looks very much like Mechquake, the stupid, psychopathic robot bulldozer that appeared in the strip and its predecessor, ‘Robusters’. None of the machines under development therefore have the humanity and moral engagement of Hammerstein, Ro-Jaws, Mongrol, Steelhorn, Happy Shrapnel/ Tubalcain, Deadlok or even Joe Pineapples. The real robotic killing machines now being developed and used by the military represent a real threat to political liberty, the dehumanisation of warfare, and the continuing safety of the human race.

More Military Tension between NATO and Russia; Pat Mills Right in ABC Warriors

October 9, 2016

Mike today put up a very chilling report about the escalation of military tensions between NATO and Russia. Russia has deployed Iskander missiles in its westernmost province of Kaliningrad. Formerly Koenigsberg, this is small Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, was formerly part of Pommerania under the old Reich. The missiles are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and are presumed capable of reaching Berlin, or the various Baltic states.

Russia is believed to be deploying these missiles in response to NATO manoeuvres in eastern Europe, and the stationing of four more NATO battalions in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. These were in response to Russia sending troops into Ukraine.

Mike states that he recalls either Gorbachev or possibly Yeltsin receiving a promise from NATO that it would not expand into the Russian’s back garden. He is correct. That promise was given. And broken. NATO’s borders are now right up to the very frontier with Russia. Mike asks us how we would feel if the roles were reversed?

That question has been asked by others in America. Left-wing and Libertarian critics of American military expansion have posed the rhetorical question how Americans would feel if Canada broke away and joined Russia. This is the parallel in the Anglophone world Ukraine, which has ties going back thousands of years to the very foundation of Russia, joining NATO.

Actually, it’s not hard to see how Americans would react, as there’s one section of the American conspiracist fringe which actually believed it. FOAFtale News, the journal of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, in the 1990s report an urban legend then going round the paranoid American Right, that the Fall of Communism was all a ruse. The Soviets had established secret underground tank bases in Canada and Mexico. When everything had been properly prepared, and they were ready, the order would be given and the Soviet tanks would roll over the border to occupy America. You can bet given the paranoid, extreme-rightwing mindset of the kind of people, who voted for Trump, that if Canada ever had joined Russia in a close alliance, most Americans would believe exactly the same thing.

And Mike reported on Friday that it was feared that rising tensions over Syria could result in a nuclear war with Russia. Mike comments

And on it goes. And we all become a little more nervous every day. And that makes us a little more twitchy, and prone to jump to conclusions, and likely to make mistakes…

Everybody concerned needs to step back.

They all need to have a serious think – and maybe a couple of conversations – about what little they stand to gain by acting on accusations and suppositions.

And how much we all stand to lose.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/10/08/nuclear-missiles-deployed-in-russias-westernmost-area-as-fears-grow-over-syria/

I’ve blogged about this issue previously. In the case of Ukraine, it seems to me that it is actually the Russians, who are this time the injured party. The Orange Revolution which ousted the previous, pro-Russian president was staged with covert funding from the Americans. The new ruling coalition includes real, card-carrying Nazis from the Pravy Sektor – the Right Sector. Their uniforms are those of the auxiliary Ukrainian SS units, who were responsible for pogroms against the Jews, and participated in the Holocaust during the Second World War. During the Orange Revolution, a section of these thugs shot at left-wing protesters on their own side before chasing a group of trade unionists into a building. They were then savagely beaten, and one attempted to escape by jumping from a third-floor window. I’ve also seen footage alleging that the Ukrainian regime is responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east of the country.

The situation is made even more terrifying by the fact that a former NATO general has written a book, predicting that by May next year, 2017, Russia will have invaded Latvia and we will be at war. George Galloway in his speech the other year to the Stop the War Coalition described how he had taken the general to task for this, when he was on a panel with him at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival. Counterpunch has also reported that Obama has stepped up the production of nuclear missiles, and is trying to develop short-range ‘battlefield’ nukes. This seems terrifyingly similar to an idea going round in the 1980s when I was growing up. This was part of the madness of the ‘New Cold War’ under Thatcher and Reagan, when these idiots believed that a limited nuclear war could be fought in Europe.

Looking at this site’s stats, a couple of people have been looking at a piece I wrote about a year or so ago discussing some of the very astute satirical comments Pat Mills had put in the ‘ABC Warriors’ strip in 2000 AD. This followed the adventures of Hammerstein, Blackblood, Mongrol, Deathlok, Zippo and co during the Volgan War, a conflict between America and Russia for possession of the latter’s oil.

This was clearly aimed at the real reasons behind Gulf War II and the invasion of Iraq. One of the chief war aims was to seize the country’s vast oil reserves, which are the largest outside Saudi Arabia.

And I’m very much afraid the same is true here. Russia possesses vast natural resources in Siberia, and exports much of it to Europe. Some of the former provinces of the Soviet Union – the Baltic states – are extremely dependent on it for their power supplies. When one of the Baltic states was accused by the Russians of persecuting their people, the Russians also cut off, or threatened to cut off, the oil supply to their country, which would have resulted in massive power cuts.

American politics is heavily driven by corporate interests, and particularly that of the oil industry, dominated by the Koch brothers. These two are supposedly worth over $300 billion. They donate to the Republican party, and to organisations which deny climate change, in order to keep those barrels pumping out of the ground. Just as the Iraq invasion was to steal that country’s oil, I can see Pat Mills, the creator of ‘ABC Warriors’ strip, being in this case literally correct about the real reason for the current tensions.

It’s disgusting. I can remember the feeling of relief I felt when Communism fell, and the Soviet empire collapsed. Despite the horrors of capitalism and the poverty caused by the mass privatisation of Russian industry, which wiped out the savings and pensions of millions of Russians, nevertheless it seemed the dawn of a better world. The threat of nuclear annihilation had been lifted just a little. People from both sides of the continent could travel to each other’s countries to work and open businesses. It’s why I don’t really have a problem with eastern European workers coming over here. Our peoples meeting in friendship and peace is far better than the fear and hatred that was whipped up when I was young in the 1980s.

Now our leaders seem to be determined to destroy this golden opportunity to create a truly peaceful co-existence between the West and Russia. And despite whatever nonsense Obama’s and Putin’s generals may be telling them, there is no way to survive a nuclear holocaust. As Sting sang, ‘It’s a lie that we don’t believe any more.’

He’s right. And so’s Mike: instead of preparing to launch attacks, everyone needs to step back a little. As one of 2000 AD’s other creations, Judge Dredd, also said: ‘War is sick. War is evil. War is hell.’

Let’s follow the ABC Warriors instead and ‘Increase the Peace!’

Secular Talk: Clip of Maggie Thatcher Praising Mujahideen in 1981

September 14, 2016

This is another sharp reminder of how much of the present mess the world’s in can be directly traced back to the policies of Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Despite the fact that both are great, molten gods against whom no word must be spoken amongst Conservatives over here and Republicans in the US. Kyle Kulinski begins the segment by showing a clip of Maggie Thatcher praising the mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1981, calling them freedom fighters, stating that they have the support of everyone who believes in freedom back in Britain, and promising another £2 million. In case viewers get confused, and believes that this is part of the kind of conspiracies Alex Jones regularly screams about on Infowars, that it’s all some kind of establishment plot with the Devil and UFO aliens to destroy and enslave the world, Kulinski supplies some context. This was a time when the USSR had invaded Afghanistan, and working on the assumption that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’, America, Britain and the west started funding the militant Islamists to fight a proxy war.

Kulinski uses the clip to make the point that just as that error of judgement had disastrous consequences for decades after, so we’re making the same mistakes now. America and the west are still supporting hardline, intolerant Islam in the form of Saudi Arabia and Erdogan’s Turkey. Saudi Arabia is vehemently intolerant, and is responsible for the spread of the brutal Islamist ideology. And the US and the west are also supporting the Islamists, in the form of the al-Nusrah Front, which is another branch of al-Qaeda, in Syria. Why? Because Assad is allied with Iran, the West’s enemy, and also the Russians, who, despite the Fall of Communism, are still our enemy.

We haven’t learned anything. Kulinski points this out as a rejoinder for those right-wingers, who rant about the ‘regressive left’. No, it’s not the Left, who are making the same mistakes.

He also produces a few more embarrassing photos. One shows Ronald Reagan meeting members of the Mujahideen in the White House. The other is a newspaper article from 1983 praising Osama bin Laden as a religious warrior ‘on the road to peace’.

Kulinski responds to his critics, who have accused him of ignoring Islam as the source of this violence, by stating that he is very much aware that extremist, fundamentalist Islam is part of the problem. However, there are ways to counteract it, without bombing anyone. Like freezing the Islamists’ bank accounts, and not selling them arms. He illustrates this point with a newspaper headline about 90 per cent of people killed by drones being the wrong people.

Everything Kulinski says in this video is absolutely correct. But he could also have gone further. Reagan and the rest of his gang of New Cold War thugs at the time were told what would happen by the Russians. The Russian ambassador actually told one of Reagan’s team responsible for arming and funding the mujahideen that after they’d finished with the Russians, they’d come for the Americans. The Soviet ambassador was exactly right. This is precisely what happened with the attacks on the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and the White House on 9/11. The Reagan’s hagiographers cannot say the old butcher wasn’t told.

And as Kulinski says, nothing’s changed in the meantime. The Tories are still following this murderous, stupid policy. The I newspaper today has reminded everyone that David Cameron is responsible for the current mess in Libya. But he was also one of those backing further airstrikes in Syria, though Private Eye has pointed out that he tended to send the planes in only at times when someone else, usually the Americans, had complained that Britain wasn’t doing enough.

And as Mike has pointed out in his critique of today’s report on Cameron’s legacy in Syria, that’s only one disaster for which he’s responsible. His whole administration was responsible for other persecution and suffering in Britain, amongst the poor, the disabled, the unemployed and the working class, who he has impoverished and exploited with welfare cuts and the imposition of highly exploitative working practices.

Which also follows a long Tory tradition, going all the way back to Maggie Thatcher and beyond.

It’s high time they were thrown out of power, and replaced with an administration genuinely determined to improve the lives of the unemployed, the sick and working people in Britain, and use peaceful means to stamp out the spread of murderous extremism abroad.

Harry Ryder on Why He Also Doesn’t Buy Private Eye

September 6, 2016

On Saturday I put up piece about how I hadn’t bought Private Eye last Friday, because once again it was bashing Corbyn for the Blairites. The Eye has published a lot of excellent pieces attacking the privatisation of the NHS, workfare, benefit sanctions and the work capability test, policies that ultimately have their origins in Thatcherism, and which have been supported, if not actually introduced by Tony Blair and New Labour. But the magazine, like the rest of the media, is determined to attack Corbyn and anyone who supports him. Which suggests that Corbyn might just be a bit too serious about reversing Thatcher’s legacy of misery and impoverishment for the magazine’s corporate backers and the comfort of its editor, Ian Hislop.

The post clearly resonated with a lot of people. Ulysses, one of the regular commenters, remarked that it was part of the reason he hadn’t bought a paper for years, preferring to rely on bloggers like Mike over at Vox Political, Johnny Void and myself. Thanks, Ulysses!

Another commenter, Harry Ryder, also posted this comment about his own dissatisfaction with the magazine.

I just can’t buy Private Eye since their attacks on Corbyn. Before that it was my favourite magazine and I’d really look forward to buying it every other Wednesday. Never thought that would come to an end, or that the Eye would take such a stance on the Establishment’s corrupt attempt to remove Corbyn. I mean sure, I would expect them to take the piss out of him, not expecting it to act as a fan sheet, but they seem to be actually waging a campaign against him. They exhibit exactly the same level of indignation against Corbyn as they did against Blair, which is weird because Blair was a corrupt, dodgy, unscrupulous right winger and Corbyn isn’t. All the stunts being pulled by the PLP and NEC at the moment are exactly the sort of things that the Eye used to expose amongst Local Councils and Local Party Organisations writ on a National Scale. Yet for some reason they’re ignoring it, sometimes even cheerleading it.

I always had a strong personal identification with this magazine and so feel kind of personally betrayed by their stance on Corbyn. And yes I am guessing I am far from unique in this so hopefully The Eye will start to feel some pain in their back pocket because of this.

It’s not that I have stopped buying it as a protest. It’s just that I don’t identify with its values any more.

Very many people are feeling the same. I don’t know why the Eye should be so biased against Corbyn, but I can make a few guesses. Firstly, the magazine’s founders were all very establishment. Peter Cook, Willie Rushton, Richard Ingrams and Auberon Waugh were all very middle class and privately educated. So’s Ian Hislop. Waugh had extensive connections to MI5, which may play a part in it as Corbyn was sceptical of British policy in Northern Ireland, and doesn’t share the raging eagerness of the establishment to start a war with Russia, as predicted by a former NATO general in book about how by May next year Putin will have invaded Latvia and we’ll be at war. Having lived through the fear of nuclear Armageddon in the ‘new cold war’ begun in the 1980s by Thatcher and Reagan, I can say categorically that this is an insanely stupid idea. The apparent eagerness of the establishment to start a war can be gauged from the way one of the journos deliberately misreported Corbyn’s comments about the possibility. He stated that Corbyn had said that he wouldn’t defend a NATO ally if it were attacked by Russia. He said no such thing. He made it plain he would defend a fellow NATO country, but would do everything he could to stop it coming to armed conflict first. But clearly, that wasn’t good enough for the journo, who had to lie to give the story the anti-Corbyn spin his corporate masters and editors clearly wanted.

I also suspect that part of this desperation to smear Corbyn is motivated by the need to find advertising revenue. The Observer, which is nominally a left-wing paper, actually has a very wealthy readership, and this was one of the reasons it was so hostile to the Labour Party under Michael Foot in the 1980s. My guess is that the Eye’s readership is similarly better educated and rather more affluent than other groups. All the newspapers are taking hits from the internet and the rise of alternative news sources online, and I think the same might be happening to the Eye. In which case, they’re going to be under the same pressure as other newspapers and magazines to maintain their appeal to advertisers. Following the Second World War, many of the left-wing or radical British papers folded, or became more right-wing, as the cost of running a paper increased, coupled with the difficulty they faced finding advertising. With a few notable exceptions, advertisers didn’t want to appeal to the working class, preferring the social classes with higher disposable income. I think the same process is going on here, including with Private Eye.

The result is that the Eye, which should be treating Corbyn no better or worse than other politicos, has firmly joined the rest of the press in attacking him. And so it’s effectively turn to defending Thatcherism against the politician most determined to overturn it.

Vox Political: Daily Mail Calls Corbynites Nazis. Oh the Irony!

August 15, 2016

Yesterday evening, Mike put up a piece critiquing an article published in the Daily Mail by a Jewish Labour donor, Michael Foster attacking Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in Momentum. Foster described them as the Sturm Abteilung, the radical, paramilitary branch of the Nazi party that was all wiped out by the SS in the Night of the Long Knives. He then further compared them to the Nazis by stating that they were all blindly following Corbyn with cult-like devotion. The Corbynistas had no policies of their own, and were just divisive. If you disagreed with them, you were excluded and briefed against. He also moaned that if you were a Jewish donor like him and made complaints about anti-Semitism, you were accused of conspiring to make false allegations in order to damage the Left.

Mike drily observes that all this makes a change from the usual ‘rebel Trot’ nonsense. He also makes the very good point that it is highly ironic for the Heil to start denouncing others as Nazis, considering that Lord Rothermere published the infamous article ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’, and praised Hitler for his policies against the Jews. He was also very firmly against Jewish immigration to Britain, running articles about how we needed to be protected from criminal eastern European Jewish immigrants flooding into Britain. Which is pretty much what the Heil is saying today, only it’s dropped the anti-Semitism, and eastern Europeans are only the latest of the immigrant groups to exercise the Heil’s intolerance. Mostly it rants about Blacks and Asians. One of its regular contributors, Melanie ‘Mad Mel’ Philips, is particularly vehement about the Islamic threat. And then of course, there’s its reactionary views on sexuality and gender – its bitterly homophobic, and very definitely sees a woman’s place as being in the home, rather than at work. So it’s actually in no position to accuse anyone of racism.

Mike in his article makes a point for point rebuttal. He points out that the Corbynites have very well-defined policies. As for isolating and briefing against dissidents, that’s what Blair and his coterie did to those MPs they deemed were ‘off message’. Or looked like they were going to upstage the Dear Leader in the nation’s affections. One of those, who got it, if memory serves me correctly, was Mo Mowlam.

Mike also makes the point that the anti-Semitism allegations were weapons against Corbyn, but asks rhetorically if anyone had personally accused Foster. Obviously, they haven’t, as Foster puts his statement about anti-Semitism in the conditional ‘If, like me, you are a Jewish donor’ – suggesting that no-one has.

Mike states that Foster sounds like a sad, embittered Blairite, and concludes that if he’s reading his article, the best thing Mr Foster can bring to the discussion next time is silence.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/14/when-did-the-mail-start-using-nazi-as-a-term-of-abuse/

Foster’s article is a reassertion of the old smear that Momentum is anti-Semitic, and Foster describes himself as a ‘Jewish donor’. But what comes across is that the real reason for Foster’s anger is once again the threat Corbyn poses to the massive support Blair gave the Zionist lobby and their ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

I’ve pointed out time and again that very many of the people accused of anti-Semitism by the Blairites – let’s call them what they are – were no such thing. Very frequently they were Jews or people of Jewish heritage with a proud history of anti-racist, anti-Fascist campaigning behind them. Men and women like Jackie Walker, whose mother was a Black civil rights activist, and father was a Russian Jew. A woman of colour whose partner was also Jewish. Red Ken in his book, Livingstone’s Labour, bitterly criticised racism of all stripes, including anti-Semitism, and the Labour party’s policy of recruiting Nazis guilty of the most appalling crimes during the Holocaust as part of the Cold War against Communism. Last week or so I blogged about a piece by Tony Greenstein, another Jewish Labour party member, who had also been suspended on charges of anti-Semitism. This was despite the fact that he was a member of the Jewish Socialist group in the Labour party. His crime was like the others: he dared to criticise Israel.

Tony Blair was very close to the Labour Friends of Israel group, and the Zionist lobby, through Lord Levy. Blair met Levy through the offices of one of the pro-Israel groups, and Levy was instrumental in getting the Israel lobby to fund Blair. This gave him the financial independence he needed to attack the unions and the Labour grassroots. Lobster’s done a series of articles describing this. And the Israel lobby is very defensive at the moment, because the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign, which includes many Jews, is having an effect on forcing Israeli businesses to leave the occupied West Bank, if they want anyone to buy their goods. The response of the Zionist lobby has been to label them anti-Semites, and make the usual hysterical accusations comparing them to the Nazis. I’ve put up pieces here, including videos by Ilan Pappe and Norman Finkelstein, both bitter critics of the Israeli state’s persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. These scholars have stated that the Israel lobby smears anyone who dares criticise Israel of being an anti-Semite. Mr Foster’s rant in the Heil is another of these.

Saturday evening I put up a video by Catherine Love, in which she explained that Corbyn had been criticised and closed down by the Conservatives, as he had dared to go to Palestine to try to arrange peace talks with the Palestinians, and this was interfering with theirs. This sounds like the Tories were upset, as the Palestinians a decade or so ago did offer a peace deal, which would recognise Israel if it retreated back to its 1967 boundaries. Both nations would share Jerusalem. This was rejected out of hand by the Israelis.

And we’re also backing Israel, as are the Americans. So does the Heil, despite it’s historic anti-Semitism pre-WW II. A few years ago it ran an article describing the foundation of Israel, including extracts from the diary or letters of a Jewish girl from London, who was one of the new settlers after the War. She was excited at the Jews finally having their own country. Except that it wasn’t. It was the Palestinians. The Jews, who came to settle it were Europeans and Americans, and they had absolute contempt for the Mizrahim, the Arab Jews already in the Middle East. In the 1960s Israel expelled about 60,000 indigenous Palestinian Jews because they were culturally indistinguishable from Arabs. And this was only part of the long history of the Israeli state’s policy of ethnic cleansing towards the indigenous population.

This is what looks to me as the real political reason behind the article. It’s an attempt to smear as racist and anti-Semitic decent people, who are campaigning against Israel because it, not they, is racist and colonialist.

Tony Greenstein on Zionist Lies and Smears in New Statesman

August 9, 2016

The other day I put up a long piece attacking the outrageous bias against Jeremy Corbyn in Private Eye. This clearly chimed in with what very many of my readers have observed, and feel strongly about, and I got comments about it from Florence and Jeffrey, amongst others. Michelle also sent in this comment, remarking on the way the supposedly left-wing New Statesman, was also biased against Corbyn, and linking to a piece on it by Tony Greenstein, another blogger. She wrote:

Hi Beastie, it seems to be a generic problem for the ‘intellectual’ press, in similar vein here’s a piece on the NewStatesman with similar tactics by Tony Greenstein:
http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/the-lies-deceit-of-new-statesman_8.html?m=1

Mr Greenstein’s article is well worth reading. The article is about his disgust with the increasingly right-ward bias of the Staggers. He was particularly angered by its printing of an article claiming that anti-Semitism is rife in the Labour party by Simon Johnson. Johnson’s a senior member of a pro-Zionist Jewish organisation. Greenstein states that Johnson’s group is unelected and unrepresentative. Greenstein was so annoyed by the article, and its uncritical repetition of these false allegations, that he wrote a letter of complaint to the Staggers, the text of which he includes in that blog post. He decided to put it up himself, as he felt sure that the Statesman’s editors weren’t going to print it.

Like many of the others accused of anti-Semitism by the Zionists, Mr Greenstein is Jewish. He’s a member of the Jewish Labour party organisation, and is also active against racism and Fascism. But he’s been suspended because of supposed anti-Semitism. This is because he’s a fierce critic of Israeli racism and its persecution and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians. Greenstein describes just how nasty this racism is in his piece. He also remarks on how ridiculous it is that, under the Israeli law of return, he has the right to return to a country that he has never visited, while Palestinians, who were born in Israel, but who fled or were driven abroad by the Israelis, are banned from settling in the country of their birth.

This clearly is monstrous, just as it is monstrous that accusations of anti-Semitism should be levelled at Mr Greenstein, simply for speaking for speaking the truth. As for the allegations of anti-Semitism, he’s in good company. Other victims of that accusation include Jackie Walker, who is half-Jewish on her father’s side, and whose partner is Jewish. Ms Walker is also a woman of colour. Her mother was a Black woman, who was thrown out of America for activism in the Civil Rights movement. And Ms Walker has similarly been active against racism and Fascism in this country. In America, the head of Bernie Sanders’ Jewish Outreach department in his campaign to win the Democratic presidential nomination, was also forced to resign because of allegations of anti-Semitism. She was also Jewish, and very active in her community. And Sanders is himself Jewish.

And some of the gentiles, who have been accused of anti-Semitism, are also obviously anything but. Ken Livingstone’s GLC, as I’ve said before, was notorious for being ‘right-on’. It was anti-racist, anti-sexist, and very pro-gay rights, to the fury of Maggie Thatcher. In his book, Livingstone’s Labour, ‘Red’ Ken states that he was opposed to all forms of racism, whether anti-Semitism, or against Blacks and the Irish. He also devotes sizable sections of two chapters describing and attacking the recruitment of Nazis responsible for the persecution of the Jews during the Third Reich, by us to serve in British intelligence against the threat of Communism in the Cold War.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but in my experience, avowed Jew-haters tend not to go on anti-Fascist marches and demos, risking personal violence by some extremely nasty characters with long histories of racist attacks. I don’t think many people, who despise their ethnic or religious heritage, actively join groups for the people of that community, or readily identify themselves as belonging to that group. Rather, they do the opposite, and try to deny that they belong to it. At the most extreme of this, is some of the self-hating Jews, who deny their heritage completely and join Neo-Nazi organisations. There was a case a while ago in America of the leader of a group of Nazis over there, who committed suicide after it got out to his fellow stormtroopers that he was Jewish.

I admit that’s an extreme case, but none of the people accused of anti-Semitism are remotely like it. Quite the opposite. And considering how serious the charge of anti-Semitism is, after the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis and similar genocidal organisations, it should be used sparingly against those who really are. Otherwise, it’s a very gross slander.

And Mr Greenstein also points out that by using the accusation to slander those who aren’t, there is the danger of the boy, who cried ‘wolf’. If you abuse the term so frequently, then it loses its seriousness, and clears the way for the genuine anti-Semites and Nazis to make their claims without fear of opposition, because the term has been so abused so as to become meaningless.

Radical 80s Anti-War Pop: Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes

August 6, 2016

A week or so ago I put I blogged about Sting’s great anti-war song, Russians. Based on a tune by Prokofiev, and with the haunting refrain, ‘Do the Russians love their children too?’, this was Sting’s protest against the new Cold War between America and Russia in which both sides were condemned for their militarism. The video I used here was of a performance the great songster made a few years ago on Russian TV, which shows how far the world has come since I was a schoolboy in the 1980s. Then, Russia and the rest of the former eastern bloc were very much closed off to the West, although as the political climate thawed, the BBC did launch a fascinating series of films on the Soviet Union. This included an edition of antenna on Soviet TV. I was moved to put up the video as a reminder of great pop challenging the horrific spectre of nuclear war by the arms build up in the West and increasing tension between NATO and Russia. There’s been a series of manoeuvres in Estonia, Poland, Romania and the other Baltic states against the possibility of a Russian invasion, despite the fact that the Russians have said that they have no intention of doing any such thing. This follows a book by a NATO general predicting that by May next year, Russia will have invaded Latvia, and our nations will be at war. This should terrify everyone, who grew up in the 1980s and remembers the real threat of nuclear Armageddon then, along with the horrific spoutings of some generals about fighting a ‘limited nuclear war’ in Europe.

Unfortunately, that possibility has just come a step nearer after the statement on Morning Joe, an American news programme hosted by Joe Scarborough, that he had been told by a foreign policy expert that in discussing the subject with Donald Trump, the coiffured clown asked him three times why America hadn’t used nuclear weapons. As I said in my last post, this is a very good argument for keeping the pratt out of the White House, if not the society of decent humans. If you only needed one argument for not wanting to see Trump as president, regardless of the endorsement of violence, the misogyny, the racism and Islamophobia, this would be it. Trump shouldn’t be president, because he’s a threat to all life on Earth.

Sting wasn’t the only pop musician to release a piece in the 1980s against the militaristic posturing between East and West. So too did Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Frankie … were a band that managed to shock the British public with the release of their single, Relax, and the homoerotic imagery of both the song and the accompanying video. It was so shocking, that the Beeb was supposed to have banned. This, of course, had the usual effect of making it massively popular, and it shot to Number 1 in the charts. The band’s frontman, Holly Johnson was gay, as was I think, one of the other band members, but most of them were straight. Bands like Frankie…, and other gay pop stars like Marc Almond, Jimmy Summerville and Boy George helped to challenge the popular prejudice and real hatred there was for gays there still was then, over a decade after gay sex in private between consenting adults had been legalised.

Two Tribes continued their trend of edgy music by presenting the confrontation between East and West as a bare knuckle boxing match between someone, who looked very much like Ronald Reagan, and an opponent, who was clearly based on one of the Russian presidents of the time. I can’t work out quite who the Russia is based on, as he looks a bit like Brezhnev, but not quite, and I can’t remember who Andropov and Chernenko, the last two Soviet presidents before Mikhail Gorbachev, looked like. To my mind, he looks more like Boris Yeltsin, the former mayor of Moscow, who succeeded Gorby as president of Russia. Unlike Gorby, Yeltsin wasn’t a Communist, but a capitalist-in-waiting, who sold off just about everything that wasn’t nailed down. The result was that Russian economy went into meltdown, millions across the former USSR were thrown out of work without any of the welfare safety nets in place in Europe or America, while rampant inflation wiped out people’s savings. Despite his generally pro-Western, pro-capitalist stance, he could also be belligerent. Sometime in his presidency, a Norwegian sounding rocket went off course, and landed somewhere in Russia. Yeltsin appeared on TV pounding his desk and declaring that he had been quite prepared to respond with nukes, if such an event seemed to be an attack on Russia. He was also, like many of the Russia politicos, including Brezhnev, massively corrupt. A lot of the state enterprises he privatised mysteriously ended up in the hands of his cronies, and people, who were prepared to fork over a lot of roubles. He was also a figure of western media amusement, as he appeared to be permanently smashed, unlike his predecessor, who appeared far more temperate and had launched a strong anti-drink campaign. The mass privatisation of the Soviet Economy had a devastating effect on its citizens’ health, which Basu and Stuckler discuss in their book, the Body Economic, on how economic austerity harms people’s physical health. Putin, with his promise of economic stability and national pride, is very much a response to the chaos of the Yeltsin regime. I’ve got a feeling Yeltsin might be dead now, but if anyone needed a good drubbing, it was him, though by the Russian people, who had a better reason to hate him than Ronald Reagan.

Frankie’s Two Tribes shows the violence in the ring escalating, until the audience of other international dignitaries begin fighting amongst themselves, to the consternation of the ringside commentator. The video ends with the Earth itself being blown up, a graphic comment on the real danger of the conflict. The song’s title, Two Tribes, also gives a very cynical take on the conflict. This isn’t about politics, human rights or the effectiveness and justice of economic systems. This is just pure tribalism, the primitive, nationalistic aggression that has haunted humanity since the Stone Age. I can’t say I was ever a fan of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and just about everyone I know is repulsed and disturbed by the Relax video. But Two Tribes is a classic piece of ’80s pop with a very relevant political message, and one that deserves to be given another hearing. Before Trump gets anywhere near the White house, and starts ranting and threatening like Reagan.

Counterpunch on Udo Ulfkotte’s ‘Bought Journalists’

August 2, 2016

Today Counterpunch published a very interesting article by Thomas Harrington, ‘Europe’s “Bought Journalists”‘, on the promotion of pro-American, pro-Israel neoliberal imperialist policies in the European press, even in traditionally left-wing papers like the Groaniad, El Pais, the Suddeutsche Zeitung, Le Monde and La Reppublica, heavy weight papers with a record of supporting progressive politics. Harrington states that future historians will be amazed how a continent, with a sophisticated and critical intellectual culture, came to be dominated by American elite interests. He notes that America has always been keen to ‘manage the perceptions’ of its various allied countries as part of its Cold War campaign against Communism and the Soviet Union. It is an intrinsic part of what Donald Rumsfeld described as ‘full spectrum dominance’. This has now got to the point where American neoliberal interests now override those of Europe’s own peoples in the minds of their journalists. He compares this absolute belief in American, neoliberal cultural hegemony with religion in that this is uncritical accepted in absolute faith. He also states that when explanations are sought how this situation came about, the standard explanation is that the European population has got older, and so more conservative. But this can’t explain how Moises Naim, who was previously a member of one of South America’s corrupt governments, an arch-Zionist, former director of the World Bank, and also a former editor of Foreign Policy, which Harrington describes as the ‘in-house Bible of American imperialism’, came to be the weekend foreign policy ‘guru’ for Spain’s El Pais, a newspaper which is pro-welfare and anti-interventionist, while Spain is also generally pro-Palestinian. He suggests that it is due to the co-option of European journalists by the American secret state, and urges his readers to watch a linked interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine’s Udo Ulfkotte. The Frankfurter Allgemeine is Germany’s foremost newspaper, with a centre-right bias, rather like the Times over here. Ulfkotte in the interview describes Germany as an American colony and a ‘banana republic’ because of the way its journalists have been deeply compromised through their collaboration with the CIA and the German intelligence agency. Ulfkotte has written a book, Gekaufte Journalisten – ‘Bought Journalists’ – about this corruption. It’s a bestseller over the North Sea in the Bundesrepublik, but for some strange reason an English translation keeps being put off.

The article’s at http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/02/europes-bought-journalists/

I’m not surprised at Ulfkotte’s allegations, which seem only too plausible. Lobster has published several pieces over the years about the way the press has been used and manipulated to push the Atlantic alliance against the Soviet Union, and the role of particular journos in publishing disinformation and propaganda on behalf of the British intelligence agencies. Ulfkotte doesn’t mention it in his interview, but leading British journalists were also included in the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, a Reaganite project to train up pro-American future politicians, such as Tony Blair. But you won’t read much about it, because when one journo on one of the papers did – I think it was in the Times – he found the article spiked by the editor because he was another of BAP’s alumni.

As for the problem of getting a translation of Ulfkotte’s book into English, it struck me that what might be needed here is a version of the old ‘samizdat’ underground publication system for the nominally ‘free world’. Samizdat was the underground publishing system in the former Soviet Union, in which literature that had been suppressed by the Communist authorities was illegally copied and circulated. Among the works published and distributed in this way was Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago. The people, who read samizdat literature described how they did so in utter secrecy. A book was often read in a single night, because it was too dangerous to keep hold of such books for very long. If a system like this is what is needed to publish book’s like Ulfkotte’s in Britain – or at least, England, if Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland go their own way after Brexit, then it will show very clearly that Jeremy Corbyn is right, and that David Cameron has created a ‘zombie democracy’. Though the credit mustn’t go just to the Tories. Tony Blair also did much to create the surveillance state and the system of secret courts that Cameron expanded, and which May will probably preserve and extend even more.

Vox Political on the Skwawkbox Interview with the Man behind the anti-Blairite T-Shirt

July 28, 2016

The Skwawkbox blog, which was partly set up to campaign against the privatisation of the NHS, has managed to track down and interview ‘Ged’, the elderly gentleman wearing the notorious anti-Blairite T-shirt. Ged was photographed wearing the shirt, bearing the slogan ‘Eradicate Blairite Scum’, flanked by two of the very people the shirt condemns: Lewis Parker of Portland, and Anna Philips of Progress. In the past few weeks there have been numerous stories about that shirt. It was said that Ged was tricked into wearing it by the two jokers as part of a smear campaign against the Corbynites. I was taken in by this story, and repeated it on my blog. However, Ged states that the T-shirt is genuine. Ged states that he’s a genuine follower of Corbyn, and, like millions of others, was inspired by his opposition to Thatcherism. He said he had the shirt made after the May Day rally. He also states that most people realised that the shirt was talking about political eradication.

This has changed after he was photographed with Phillips and Parker. Neither of the two told him, who they were. And so the rumour has grown up that he was part of their campaign to smear the Corbynites. This has reached the extreme of a story that he is part of an underground group inspired by the murder of Jo Cox. Ged strenuously denies this, calling it ‘absolute filthy rubbish’. Ged states that he was not part of any such campaign to smear Corbyn, nor did he intend to incite anyone to violence, especially as he is a union health and safety officer.

Ged’s own health is not good. He has been treated for mouth cancer, this added additional worry about his physical safety. Nobody assaulted him, but he did become paranoid because people gave him a wide berth and stared at him.

Mike states that Ged has been so clearly misrepresented by the two Blairites, that he has an excellent case for bringing a libel action. He says

It seems ‘Ged’ may have a very secure case for libel against the other people in the photograph. Clearly it would not have been used in the way it has if they had not taken it, and then spread lies about it.

Would any lawyer care to take on the case? It seems easy money, to This Writer!

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/27/vermin-t-shirt-wearer-tracked-down-its-not-what-weve-been-told-the-skwawkbox-blog/

and following the links to the original interview.

I think losing a libel action brought on behalf of ‘Ged’, and the wider community supporting Jeremy Corbyn, would have a very salutary action on the Blairites. Their whole campaign has been one long stream of abuse and misrepresentation after another. Eagle claimed she was abused at a Labour party meeting because of her sexuality, when no such thing occurred. The mother of another woman, who had married her female partner, testified to that. Eagle also lied about a brick being thrown through her office window. That also never occurred. And then there were the accusations of anti-Semitism brought against Red Ken, Naz Shah, Jackie Walker and others. Leninspart is many things, but he is demonstrably not an anti-Semite. You only have to look at his speeches and writing condemning all forms of racism, including against the Irish and anti-Semitism. Indeed, he devotes pages in his book, Livingstone’s Labour, to attacking the Labour party because it gave sanctuary after the War to Nazis, convicted of the most horrendous crimes against humanity, including active participation in pogroms against the Jews and the Holocaust. These monsters were given safety in Britain, because it was believed they could assist British intelligence in the Cold War against Communism. Jackie Walker is of mixed Black and Jewish heritage. Her Black British mother was thrown out of America for participating in the Civil Rights agitation. Her father is a Russian Jew, and therefore probably knows more than most about anti-Semitism. Walker is also an ardent campaigner against racism and prejudice, including anti-Semitism, and her partner is also Jewish. As for Naz Shah, she was on good terms with her local synagogue. This should say for itself that she isn’t anti-Semitic.

I’d say that these people have an excellent case for libel against the Blairites accusing them of anti-Semitism, particularly Jackie Walker. She said in an interview that her partner’s family had broken off contact with her. Clearly, this should constitute proof that the accusation has cause demonstrable distress and harm to her interests.

I’m not sure whether such libel actions would succeed, however, as in Britain you’re guilty unless proven rich. And New Labour had some very rich donors. Nevertheless, in my eyes and opinion New Labour has committed libel, and any attempt to claim otherwise in a court of law is flagrant perjury.

May, Smith, Trident and the Continuing Relevance of 80s Pop

July 23, 2016

In the debate over Trident the other day, both Theresa May and Owen Smith showed their utter willingness to incinerate hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in a nuclear war. Michelle, one of the great commenters on this blog, was particularly chilled by their readiness to do so without any apparent qualms or pangs of conscience. She wrote

It would seem there’s something dangerous in the water at Westminster! I couldn’t sleep after seeing the clip when May said “yes” without hesitation to the question of whether she would be willing to kill 100,000’s of INNOCENT men women and children! If anyone hasn’t seen this: https://youtu.be/zK4Z5ZF3jsshttps://youtu.be/zK4Z5ZF3jss

Then there is Owen willing to do so even if the count is in the millions and with a small smile on his face: https://youtu.be/o86kjk15j4E?t=22shttps://youtu.be/o86kjk15j4E?t=22s

It would seem the cackle of madness is drumming out most rational thought in the power house.

Absolutely. After he and Kennedy nearly destroyed the world in the Cuban missile crisis, the Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev was very serious about the threat posed by nuclear Armageddon. On his goodwill visit to the West afterwards, someone made a joke about it. They were told by Khrushchev that the destruction of humanity was ‘no laughing matter’. The Soviet president also didn’t get on with Chairman Mao. Some of this was due to differences over geopolitical strategies, and attitudes to Communist doctrine. But Khrushchev was also appalled by Mao’s attitude to the nuclear stand-off. Mao really couldn’t understand why Khrushchev had pulled back, and felt that he should have nuked America when he had the chance. It’s an attitude to the extermination of the human race, or at least a sizable part of it, which shows what a genocidal maniac Mao was.

May’s and Smith’s comments are particularly frightening in the present climate, when prominent NATO generals are claiming that by May next year, Putin will have invaded Latvia and the Atlantic Alliance and Russia will be at war. I can remember the threat of nuclear incineration in the New Cold War of the early ’80s. That was terrifying, but it also called forth some of the greatest and most beautiful pop songs of that period, as our musicians added their voices to the call for peace and sanity.

One of them was Sting, and his piece ‘Russians’. Based on a piece by the great Russian composer Prokofiev, it has the lines ‘Do the Russians love their children too?’ and is a condemnation of the militaristic posturing by both America and the Soviet Union, and an eloquent plea for peace. The Soviet Union has passed, but unfortunately the song and its message still remain very relevant. I found this piece on YouTube of the great man singing it on Russian TV. The fact that the Fall of Communism has led to a thaw between the West and the former Soviet bloc is, to my mind, one of the greatest and most optimistic events of the post-War era. The fact that British bands were able to travel to Russia and perform, beginning with groups like the Clash and UB40, shows that military confrontation, sabre-rattling and posturing is far from the only foreign policy option. East and West can and do still meet in peace and friendship. Let’s hope our leaders don’t waste this situation, and annihilate humanity for the sake of military status. Here’s the video.