Posts Tagged ‘‘End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate’’

The Real News Network: CNN Kept Silent over Islamist Slaving Since 2011

November 29, 2017

Over the past few days I’ve put up pieces reporting and commenting on the demonstrations against the slave auctions in Libya in Paris, Rome and London. These auctions are being held by the Islamist savages, who were helped into power as Britain and America’s proxies in the West’s campaign to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi. Gaddafi was a brutal dictator, but under his rule Libya became the most prosperous country on the African continent, its people had free healthcare and education. And, as this report shows, Gaddafi was no racist and made great efforts to benefit the entire African continent.

And the Islamists not only despise him, but are doing their very best to destroy the modern, relatively tolerant nation he created.

And the situation has been made worse by the silence of the mainstream media over the massacres committed against Black Libyans and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and their enslavement. And as this report shows, the media, or at least CNN, has kept silent for a very long time.

In this piece from the Baltimore-based Real News Network, anchor Eddie Conway talks to Glen Ford, one of the editors of the Black Agenda Report. Ford tells how CNN was aware of the atrocities against Blacks in Libya as far back as 2011. The Islamists despised Blacks, and so lynched and massacred them. These atrocities included the destruction of whole towns, such as Tawergha. This was a Black town with a population of 40,000. The Islamists destroyed it, butchered its people, and those, who survived were either enslaved or dispersed elsewhere in Libya. And Ford makes it clear that this was not done in secret. The Islamists put up flyers and notices announcing what they intended to do.

CNN did not report on this, and the other horrors, because it had reporters embedded in the Islamist terror gangs that were responsible for the ethnic cleansing and enslavement. The news got out thanks to that beacon of capitalism, the Wall Street Journal.

Ford also gives the reasons why the Islamists are targeting Blacks. He states that the Islamists hated Gaddafi because he came out of Arab socialism, and like many Arab socialist leaders was influenced by Egypt’s Nasser. They also hated him because he was pro-African, and their attacks on Blacks from further south in the continent is part of their venomous rejection of Gaddafi and his policies.

Conway and Ford also talk about how another African dictator, the ruler of Rwanda, is also exploiting the humanitarian crisis in the Libya. He’s promised to take in refugees, if the UN will pay for them. However, Ford points out that Rwanda’s ruler is responsible for the deaths of 6 million people in one of the largest genocides, and thousands more have been forced to flee into exile. He also says that once the money is paid, the refugees are not allowed to settle in Rwanda, but are then moved somewhere else.

The programme concludes that the ultimate responsibility for this carnage lies with the Western powers, America, Britain and their allies in Libya, who supported the Islamists, and the French in Rwanda, who are supporting the dictator there as part of a policy of recolonization all over the Continent.

I’m not surprised that Gaddafi was part of the tradition of Arab Socialism. It explains how it is that Libya had free healthcare and education. And it also explains part of the sheer animosity towards him by America and the West. True, Gaddafi himself was confrontational, and was certainly not averse to using terror and assassination when it suited him. But American foreign policy has always been against secular, nationalist Arab governments, including socialist administrations, as the next thing to Communism. He was overthrown because his government, simply by its nature, defied American imperialism. Quite apart from the fact that he was planning to reject the petrodollar for the Gold Dinar, and thus undermine America’s economic dominance through control of the main currency used in the oil industry.

As for the use of Islamist rebels, the US has been doing that ever since Ronald Reagan and Thatcher sponsored the Mujahideen in the Afghan War against the Soviets. And the Americans were warned by the Russian ambassador that once the Islamists had finished with the Russians, they would come for America. Thus the Russians knew that America would suffer an attack like 9/11. But Reagan and Thatcher had already decided these monsters were the forces of good and freedom, and so didn’t bother listening. They even heaped praised on Osama bin Laden.

This piece is also important for showing up the lies, omissions and distortions in the western media. These barbarities have been going on for the past six years, but it is only now that a mainstream newspaper has covered them. Conway and Ford state that it was due to the fact that CNN had its reporters embedded with the Islamists. That’s certainly a powerful factor. And it’s not used by the Islamists to control the media. The editors of Counterpunch, in their book End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, have several chapters on the way the American military is manipulating the media to promote its version of events in the Middle East. And this includes embedding journalists within army units. Once inside, the journos share a common bond with the soldiers around them, who are also responsible for their lives. So there’s a bias, as well as a vested interested, in presenting them in a positive light.

This story shows how much we really need alternative news networks, like RT, the Real News, Al-Jazeera, and alternative news shows like The Young Turks, the David Pakman Show, the Jimmy Dore Show and Sam Seder’s Majority Report and Secular Talk. These are the only shows and networks that are reporting and discussing the horror committed by western imperialism abroad, and the poverty and exploitation of working people in the west itself. All to boost those big, big profits.

They’re reporting what you’re not going to see on CNN, Fox, MSNBC or the Beeb over here. And it shows. More people are becoming aware of this, which is why Google and Facebook are trying to close them down, and the republicans and Democrats are screaming ‘Fake news!’ and ‘Russian propaganda!’ at RT.

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American State Censored TV Programme on American Nerve Gas Atrocity in Laos

February 13, 2017

I’ve blogged before about the way the Thames TV documentary, Death On the Rock, about the killing of an IRA terror squad by the SAS in Gibraltar, angered Maggie Thatcher so much that she destroyed Thames. The documentary presented evidence that the British army knew about the group’s movements, and could have picked them up peacefully at any time. They deliberately chose not to. The shootings were therefore a targeted assassination, with the SAS acting as a South American-style death squad.

This was, of course, too much for Maggie. She had Thames’ broadcasting licence removed, and they were replaced by Carlton. This is something to remember the next time John Humphries or anyone else at the Beeb tells you that she never interfered with the state broadcaster, and that this only began under Blair. I’m not arguing that Tory Tony didn’t interfere or throw his weight around with the Beeb. And there’s plenty of evidence that Maggie also had programme censored. She had the documentary, ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’, produced by Panorama, censored because it argued that the Conservatives had been infiltrated by card carrying neo-Nazis, just like the Labour party had been infiltrated by Militant. Perhaps in Humphries’ case, the Conservatives didn’t interfere with the news coverage, because they didn’t need to. It already reflected their own bias.

Such censorship isn’t confined to Britain. It also happened in America. William Blum, a very long time critic of US foreign policy, has a section describing the censorship of a documentary on American television in 1998 in his book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (London: Zed Books 2014). The company aroused the ire of the political, economic and media elite because it dared to tell the truth about a US gas attack in Laos that resulted in the deaths of civilians and American servicemen. He writes

In September 1970, American forces in Laos, acting under “Operation Tailwind”, used aerosolized Sarin nerve agent (referred to also as CBU-15 or GB) to prepare their entry in an attack upon a Laotian village base camp, with the object of killing a number of American military defectors who were reported to be there. The operation succeeded in killing in excess of 100 people, military and civilian, including at least two Americans. How many died before the attack from the gas and how many from the attack itself is not known.

Sarin, which was developed in Germany in the 1930s, can kill within minutes after inhalation of its vapor. A tiny drop of it on the skin will do the same; it may even penetrate ordinary clothing. It works by inhibiting an enzyme needed to control muscle movements. Without the enzyme, the body has no means of stopping the activation of muscles, and any physical horror is possible.

When the invading Americans were making their getaway, they were confronted by a superior force of North Vietnamese and communist Pathet Lao soldiers. The Americans called for help from the air. Very shortly, US planes were overhead dropping canisters of sarin upon the enemy. As the canisters exploded, a wet fog enveloped the enemy soldiers, who dropped to the ground, vomiting and convulsing. Some of the gas spread towards the Americans, not all of whom were adequately protected. Some began vomiting violently. Today, one of them suffers from creeping paralysis, which his doctor diagnoses as nerve-gas damage.

This story was reported on June 7, 1998, on the TV programme “NewsStand: CNN & Time”, and featured the testimony of Admiral Thomas Moorer, who had been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1970,, as well as lesser military personnel, both on and off camera, who corroborated the incidents described above.

Then all hell broke loose. This was a story too much in conflict-painfully so-with American schoolbooks, Readers Digest, the flag, apple pie and mom. It was damage-control time. The big guns were called out-Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Green Beret veterans, the journalistic elite, the Pentagon itself. The story was wrong, absurd, slanderous, they cried. CNN retracted, Moorer retracted, the show’s producers were fired…lawsuits all over the place.

Like the dissidents who became “non-persons” under Stalin, Operation Tailwind is now officially a “non-event”.

Notwithstanding this, the program’s producers, April Oliver and Jack Smith, put together a 78 page document supporting their side of the story, with actual testimony by military personnel confirming the use of the nerve agent. (pp. 139-141).

This is truly Orwellian. Orwell, of course, based 1984 on Stalin’s Russia, and the way party functionaries rewrote history to suit the needs of the party and Stalin. The most famous example of this was the way the regime turned Trotsky from a hero and co-author of the Revolution with Lenin, to its arch-enemy and betrayer.

This incident shows how the American military-industrial complex and its puppets and paid shills in the media are quite prepared to do the same, and vilify and expel anyone who commits the same cardinal crime of exposing state lies and atrocities.

Cockburn and Sinclair in their book, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, describe the way the American military and media have managed news reporting to support the Iraq invasion, up to and including the killing of journalists. Now the situation seems ready to get worse under Fuhrer Trump. But this would have been under Bill Clinton’s presidency. And Blum’s book shows that the corruption goes back further than that, right back to the Second World War.

It really makes you start to wonder how free the American press and media is, or if it ever was.

Jimmy Dore Mocks New York Times Add

February 3, 2017

In this short segment from the Jimmy Dore Show, the American comedian and his team rightly tear into an add for the New York Times. The newspaper has been running an ad campaign with the slogan ‘The truth isn’t cheap’. This provokes mocking laughter from Dore and his team, who comment that the lies come free and are posted above the centre line. He also makes a pointed comment about Judith Miller, one of the Time’s journalists, getting a job with Fox News. He also states that in the case of the NY Times, the truth definitely isn’t free, as if you tell it, it could cost you your job. The segment ends with the comedians attacking various Democrat politicos for not protesting against Trump as much as they should, and stating that they need to ‘drain the swamp’ on their side of the House because of the terrible state the Democrats are in.

Dore is quite right to attack the Times, and its specious claim to truthful journalism. In fact, the newspaper has acted as the conduit for government lies, especially during the run up to the Iraq Invasion. The editors of the American radical magazine, Counterpunch, Patrick Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair, have published a series of articles about the way the Times carried the lies from the Bush administration about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in order to whip up popular support for the invasion. And one of the few journalists on the newspaper, who did try getting the truth out, was summarily sacked.

I’m well aware that Dore is an American, commenting on an American newspaper, but this also has implications over here. Since Donald Trump’s elections we’ve had organisations like the BBC state that they are going to set up special taskforces and departments to critique and refute ‘fake news’. The Beeb, however, has stated that it will confine this to the internet, and not take on the fake news coming out of Fleet Street. While there is a problem with racist fake news on the internet, the most pernicious lies are those retailed by the mainstream media. Like the New York Times and Fox News in America. In the case of the latter, media researcher found that 75 per cent of the news broadcast by Fox was actually false. Watching Fox News actually makes you less informed than if you didn’t watch it. And the same could be said for the right-wing media over here, comprising the Murdoch press and the rags owned by Paul Dacre, Dirty Desmond and the rest of them. And this also includes the Beeb, which has a very definite right-wing bias. The Beeb’s news programmes do not like anyone challenging the idea that austerity is somehow necessary, as shown by Barry and Saville Kushner in their book, Who Needs the Cuts. Researchers at Edinburgh, Cardiff and Glasgow Universities have shown that the Beeb prefers to accept the views and give coverage to Conservatives and business leaders than members of the Labour party and trade unionists. And this is quite apart from the grotesque and flagrant anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn bias of La Kuenssberg.

Never mind the New York Times. The British media also desperately needs a few well-placed sneers at its pretensions to tell the truth. And that means the Beeb and the Times, as well as well-worn targets like the Scum.

Mainstream Journalist Finds Out Own Followers Don’t Believe American Intelligence

January 15, 2017

This is another video from The Jimmy Dore Show about the allegations of Russian hacking and the WikiLeaks material on Hillary Clinton’s massive corruption. I’m posting it up here as it shows how, despite all the accusations made against the Russians by the CIA, the intelligence agencies, and the mainstream media, people still prefer to believe WikiLeaks.

John Horwood, one of the mainstream journos, asked his own followers on Twitter whether they believed WikiLeaks or the CIA. And a vast majority said they believed WikiLeaks.

83 per cent of the people responding said they preferred them, as against the 17 per cent, who said they believed the CIA.

And these are the man’s own Twitter followers.

I think Horwood must be one of the New York Times’ staff, as Dore begins by laying into that respected journal. He states that the New York Times has lied to take America into every war, including Iraq.

This is absolutely true. The editors of Counterpunch published a collection of articles about the way the American media colluded with the government and military in promoting the Iraq invasion, as well as other notorious injustices and malign policies, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate. A couple of chapters of which are devoted to the way the Grey Lady and its proprietor and editors were also responsible for publishing the falsehoods justifying the invasion, and suppressing news of its true horrors when the war broke out.

Horwood’s poll of his followers isn’t scientific, by any means. But it does show why the mainstream media, including the Beeb, is getting very worried about ‘fake news’ on the internet. If this poll is even remotely correct, it means that far more people trust Julian Assange’s organisation than give credibility to US intelligence and the mainstream media and their lies.

Hence Barack Obama’s speech a few months ago stating he wanted an official body to make judgements on whether news items were true, and the Beeb declaring it was going to set up a special team to protect the innocent public from the danger of false reporting on the internet.

This is not about protecting the truth. This is the government and mainstream, corporate media, trying to protect their privileged status as more people see through their lies and take their news from alternative sources.

Canadian Journalist Exposes BBC Lies over Syria

December 18, 2016

It’s not just the BBC of course. It’s the whole corporate media. But the journalist explicitly mentions the Beeb and the New York Times as lying about the situation in the country.

In this video from The Jimmy Dore Show, the comedian and occasional guest on The Young Turks talks about the revelations about the war in Syria from an independent Canadian journalist, Eve Bartlett. Bartlett was speaking at the United Nations, and described how the situation in Syria is precisely the opposite of what we’re being told by the corporate media here in the West. She’s been to Syria, and particularly Aleppo several times. She states that the people of Syria are 100 per cent behind Assad, and want to be rid of the terrorist groups occupying their country. These are the same ‘moderate’ terrorist groups that the West is funding to overthrow Assad, some of which have connections to extremists like ISIS. Dore states that this is nothing to do with democracy. It is simply about overthrowing Assad to force a pipeline through his nation.

Bartlett states that she was personally at the Costello Road humanitarian centre when the Syrians and Russians opened up a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to leave the areas that they’re bombing. They’ve done this eight times before in different parts of the country. Contrary to western propaganda, the Syrians and Russians actually care about not killing civilians. However, the terrorist factions opposing Assad do not want them to leave. They are keeping them hostage. When civilians have tried to leave, several times they’ve been attacked by those same terrorists. There have also been times, when the Syrian army has stepped in to protect them, firing back at their kidnappers. She talks about one old man, who expressed his gratitude to the Syrian army for saving them from the terrorists, who were holding him and others hostage.

She states that the western media concentrates on the damage to buildings in the city. This is not what concerns the Russians and Syrians. They’re actually worried about the people in the city. The terrorists occupy bunkers deep underground – about three stories – and emerge to fire on Russian and Syrian planes before retreating back underground.

She also describes the truth behind the Syrian and Russian bombing of a school. It had been taken over by the terrorists, who were using it to manufacture bombs. She states that she was saw the bomb-making equipment. She also states that several of the terrorist factions, that are supposed not to exist, are still very much around, such as the Free Syrian Army amongst a number of others, evidence for which was shown to her.

Dore and his off-camera team make the point that the western news media is deeply compromised. Our governments do not want the Russian and Syrian side to be heard. He talks about the closure of the Syrian embassy by the Canadian government. He also describes how, when CNN sends journalists to cover these war zones, they’re embedded within army units. This was done when the veteran American newsman, Ted Koppel, went to Iraq. The result was, in Dore’s words, ‘a love letter’ to the US army. This is done deliberately so that the journalist only sees the country from the army’s point of view. Dore ends by repeating his point that the media is deeply corrupt, and that this war is all about big oil. As for MSNBC, the so-called ‘liberal’ US network, all it’s executives are millionaires, making more money in a day than most Americans make in a year. It’s a club to which we’re not invited. And so they’re lying to us, with news slanted to suit their corporate agenda. This is all about western corporate profit and imperialism.

Counterpunch ran an article years ago on the way the US army uses embedded journalists to present their side of international conflicts, specifically of the Iraq War. The article is in the Counterpunch book End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, which is about media bias. This, and other tactics, were formulated following the lessons of the Vietnam War. The US military and political establishment realised that the Vietnamese had very astutely used the American media’s coverage of the war to undermine public support. This was particularly true of the Tet offensive. Although this was beaten off within hours, coverage by the US media showed that the American army had been unprepared for the attack, which took place during the Vietnamese New Year. This persuaded many Americans that their armed forces were incompetent and could not fight their opponents effectively. Americans’ perception of the competence and moral integrity of their own side was also disastrously affected by the footage of continuing dead and maimed soldiers returning home, and war crimes against the Vietnamese people themselves. And so the US political and military authorities devised policies to structure media coverage so that it showed only what they wanted to be shown. Coverage of the repatriation of the dead and mutilated was to be minimised. Journalists were deliberately embedded in army units, so that they became dependent on their comrades in the army, and so presented sympathetic views of their performance. Hence Ted Koppel’s ‘love letter’.

Bartlett states that what she says about the terrorists holding civilians hostage, and that they have been liberated by the Syrian army instead of massacred and fired upon, has been documented, and that footage exists elsewhere, outside of the Beeb and New York Times. These news organisations, which pride themselves as institutions ‘of record’ are blatantly lying to us. In the case of the Beeb, you may remember the adverts for itself it ran a few years ago, in which various foreign correspondents were heard talking about how people in despotic foreign regimes around the world preferred to listen to the Beeb, as unlike their own state broadcasters, it was telling the truth. This is now a lie. The BBC is pushing corporate, state propaganda as the willing accomplice of western imperialism. But I’ve no doubt that, come the summer and the festival season, BBC spokesmen, broadcasters and journalists will be speaking at literary festivals up and down the country, along with other intellectual events, making speeches about the Corporation is internationally respected and an important British institution. I agree that it is an important institution. And I don’t want it sold off. But I don’t want it to be a state, corporate propaganda mouthpiece.

And so I don’t respect it, its news service nor its executives. They are lying to promote a war, which is destroying a country simply for the enrichment of western big business and Gulf oil despotisms, like the Saudis and Qatar. They are lying when they tell us that murderous jihadis are moderates and freedom fighters.

The Beeb cannot be trusted.

Take your news from other, better, alternative sources.

Vox Political on Chilcot’s Damning Verdict on Blair, and What His Readers Think

July 7, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has reblogged a piece from the Guardian by Owen Jones, laying out how damning the Chilcot report is of Tony Blair and his decision to lead the country into war. Owen Jones is a fine journalist, who clearly and accurately explains the issues. I’ve read and quoted from his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, which is very good, and has rightly received great praise. He also has another book out The Establishment: Who They Are and How They Get Away with it. I’ve been thinking about that one, but have avoided buying it so far on the grounds that it might make me too furious.

Mike also asks what his readers think of the Iraq War. He asks

Do any of you believe the war was justified, as Ann Clwyd still does (apparently)? Have any of you come to believe that? Did you support the war and turn away? Do you think Saddam Hussein had to go, no matter the cost? Do you think the war contributed to the rise of new terrorist groups like Daesh – sometimes called Islamic State – as laid out in the ‘cycle of international stupidity’ (above)? Do you think it didn’t? Do you think Blair wanted a war because they put national politicians on the international stage? Do you think he improved or diminished the UK’s international standing? Do you think the UK has gained from the war, or suffered as a result?

The Issues, Arguments and Demos against the War at its Very Beginning

Okay, at the rest of alienating the many great readers of this blog, I’ll come clean. Back when it first broke out, I did support the war. I can’t be a hypocrite and claim that I didn’t. This was despite many other people around me knowing so much better, and myself having read so much that was against the war. For example, one of the 1.5 million or so people, who marched against the war was my local parish priest. One of my friends was very firmly against the war. I was aware from reading the papers and Lobster that the dodgy dossier was fake, and a piece of propaganda. I also knew from watching Bremner, Bird and Fortune that there was absolutely no connection between Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’ath regime, which was Arab nationalist, and the militant Islamism of Osama bin Laden, and that absolutely no love was lost between the two. And as the war dragged on, I was aware from reading Private Eye how so much of it was driven by corporate greed. The Eye ran a piece reporting on how Bush had passed legislation, which gave American biotech companies the rights to the country’s biodiversity. The Fertile Crescent in the Middle East in Turkey, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and what is now Israel, as well as Arabia and Iran, was the location for the very first western civilisations. Iraq, Syria and Turkey, I believe, were the very first centres where humans settled down and started domesticating wheat. The ancient grains that supported these primitive communities, like emmer and so on, still exist in abundance in these countries, along with other crops and plants that aren’t grown in the west. They represent a potentially lucrative field for the biotech companies. And so the American biotech corporations took out corporate ownership, meaning that your average Iraqi peasant farmer could be prosecuted for infringing their corporate copyright, if he dared to continue growing the crops he and his forefathers and mothers had done, all the way back to Utnapishtim, Noah and the Flood and beyond. More legal chicanery meant that American corporations could seize Iraqi assets and industries for damages, even if these damages were purely speculative or had not actually occurred. It’s grossly unjust, and aptly illustrates how predatory, rapacious and wicked these multinationals are.

And then there were the hundreds of thousands killed by Islamist militants, Iraqi insurgents, and the bodies of our squaddies coming back in coffins, along with a line of the maimed and mentally scarred.

All this should have been a clear demonstration of how wrong the war was. And it is a clear demonstration of its fundamental wrongness.

Hopes for Democratic Iraq Despite Falsity of Pretext

But I initially supported the war due to a number of factors. Partly it was from the recognition that Saddam Hussein was a brutal thug. We had been amply told how brutal he was around Gulf War I, and in the ten years afterwards he had brutally suppressed further rebellions – gassing the Kurds and murdering the Shi’a. In the aftermath of the invasion, UN human rights teams found the remains of his victims in vast, mass graves. The Financial Times also ran a piece on the massive corruption and brutal suppression of internal dissent within his regime. So it seemed that even if the reason for going to war was wrong, nevertheless it was justified because of the sheer brutality of his regime, and the possibility that a better government, freer and more humane, would emerge afterwards.

That hasn’t happened. Quite the reverse. There is democracy, but the country is sharply riven by ethnic and religious conflict. The American army, rather than acting as liberators, has treated the Iraqi people with contempt, and have aided the Shi’a death squads in their murders and assassinations of Sunnis.

Unwillingness to Criticise Blair and Labour

Some of my support for the war was also based in a persistent, uncritical support for Blair and the Labour party. Many of the war’s critics, at least in the West Country, were Tories. The Spectator was a case in point. It was, at least originally, very much against the war. So much so that one of my left-wing friends began buying it. I was highly suspicious of the Tory opposition to the war, as I thought it was opportunist and driven largely by party politics. When in power, the Tories had been fervently in favour of war and military action, from the Falklands, to Gulf War I and beyond. Given their record, I was reluctant – and still am very reluctant – to believe that they really believed that the war was wrong. I thought they were motivate purely from party interests. That still strikes me as pretty much the case, although I will make an allowance for the right-wing Tory journo, Peter Hitchens. Reading Hitchens, it struck me that his opposition to the war was a matter of genuine principle. He has an abiding hatred of Blair, whom he refers to as ‘the Blair creature’ for sending so many courageous men and women to their deaths. He’s also very much a Tory maverick, who has been censured several times by his bosses at the Mail for what he has said about David Cameron. ‘Mr Slippery’ was one such epithet. Now Hitchen’s doesn’t respect him for liberal reasons. He despises him for his liberal attitudes to sexual morality, including gay marriage. But to be fair to the man, he is independent and prepared to rebel and criticise those from his side of the political spectrum, often bitterly.

The Corrosive Effect of Endemic Political Corruption

My opposition to the war was also dulled by the sheer corruption that had been revealed over the last few decades. John Major’s long administration was notorious for its ‘sleaze’, as ministers and senior civil servants did dirty deals with business and media tycoons. Those mandarins and government officials in charge of privatising Britain’s industries, then promptly left government only to take up positions on the boards of those now private companies. Corporations with a minister or two in their back pocket won massive government contracts, no matter how incompetent they were. And Capita was so often in Private Eye, that the Eye even then was referring to it as ‘Crapita’. Eventually my moral sense was just worn down by it all. The corporate plunder of Iraq just seemed like another case of ‘business as usual’. And if the Tories are just as culpable as Blair and his allies, then there’s no reason to criticise Blair.

The Books and Film that Changed my Attitude to the War

What changed my attitude to the Iraq War was finally seeing Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 on Channel 4, and reading Greg Palast’s Armed Madhouse, and the Counterpunch book End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, as well as Bushwhacked, a book which exposes the lies and sheer right-wing corruption of George W. Bush’s administration. Palast’s book is particularly devastating, as it shows how the war was solely motivated by corporate greed and the desire of the Neocons to toy with the Iraqi economy in the hope of creating the low tax, free trade utopia they believe in, with precious little thought for the rights and dignity of the Iraqi people themselves. End Times is a series of article cataloguing the mendacity of the American media in selling the war, US politicians for promoting it, and the US army for the possible murder of critical journalists. Other books worth reading on the immorality and stupidity of the Iraq War include Confronting the New Conservativism. This is a series of articles attacking George W. Bush and the Neocons. Much of them come from a broadly left-wing perspective, but there are one or two from traditional Conservatives, such as female colonel in the Pentagon, who notes that Shrub and his coterie knew nothing about the Middle East, and despised the army staff, who did. They had no idea what they were doing, and sacked any commander, who dared to contradict their stupid and asinine ideology.

And so my attitude to war has changed. And I think there are some vital lessons that need to be applied to the broader political culture, if we are to stop others making the same mistakes as I did when I supported the war.

Lessons Learned

Firstly, when it comes to issues like the invasion of Iraq, it’s not a matter of ‘my party, right or wrong’. The Tories might be opposing the war out of opportunism, but that doesn’t mean that supporters of the Labour party are traitors or somehow betraying the party by recognising that it was immoral, and that some of the Tories, who denounced it did have a point.

Secondly, the cynical attitude that all parties are corrupt, so it doesn’t matter if you turn a blind eye to Labour’s corruption, is also wrong and misplaced. Corruption has to be fought, no matter where it occurs. You almost expect it in the Tory party, which has always had a very cosy attitude towards business. It has much less place on the Left, which should be about defending human rights and those of the weak.

Blair: Liar and War Criminal

And so I fully support the Chilcot report, and Jeremy Corbyn’s denunciations of Blair. He was a war criminal, and surely should have known better never to have become embroiled in the Iraq invasion. I’ve heard the excuse that he joined the war only reluctantly and was a restraining force on George Dubya. It’s a lie. He was eager to join the invasion and get whatever he thought Britain could from the spoils. And the result has been 13 years of war, the destruction and occupation of an entire nation, and the spread of further chaos and bloodshed throughout the Middle East.

Alexander Cockburn and the Row Over the Israel Lobby

May 4, 2016

As I said in a previous piece I put up this evening, Mike has reported the suspension of two more Labour MPs for supposed anti-Semitism. They’re the Newport Councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, and Terry Kelly, a councillor for Renfrewshire. Mr Kelly is supposed to have discussed the ‘Jewish lobby’ in the US, claiming that it influenced foreign policy and rigged the Oscars. See the article: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/04/anti-semitism-row-labour-suspends-two-more/

In fact, as I’ve posted several pieces about the subject, it’s perfectly reasonable to talk about the Israel lobby and its very strong influence on American foreign policy without necessarily being either an anti-Semite or even anti-Israel. One of those, who does so is the veteran radical academic and scholar of linguistics, Noam Chomsky. Chomsky has said in an interview that one of the right-wing organisations in the America tried to uncover something with which they could smear him a decade or so ago. They were disappointed. After digging around, they found that personally, Chomsky was actually very boring, living in bourgeois American domesticity with his family, and mowing his lawn on Sundays. They therefore had to content themselves with making a sneering remark about his linguistic theories, like he hadn’t properly understood the role of such and such in his transformational grammar. Or some such asinine remark.

Ten years ago there was massive controversy over in the US when Mearsheimer and Walt published their study, The Israel Lobby, in 2006. Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard professor whom the radical journo Alexander Cockburn described as America’s most manic Zionist, went off on a rant and compared it to the anti-Semitic conspiracy text, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He was joined by Eliot Cohen in the Washington Post. Cockburn discusses the furore in the chapter ‘The Row Over the Israel Lobby’, in his and Jeffrey St Clair’s End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate. He points out that the book and its conclusions are entirely unremarkable and not remotely anti-Semitic. He begins the chapter thus:

This spring of 2006 a sometimes-comic debate has simmering [sic] in the American press, focused on the question of whether there is an Israeli Lobby, and if so, just how powerful is it?

I would have thought that to ask whether there’s an Israeli Lobby here is a bit like asking whether there’s a Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour and a White House located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. For the past sixty years, the Lobby has been as fixed a part of the American scene as either of the other two monuments, and not infrequently exercising as much if not more influence on the onward march of history.

The late Steve Smith, brother-in-law of Teddy Kennedy and a powerful figure in the Democratic Party for several decades, liked to tell the story of how a group of four Jewish businessmen got together two million dollars in cash and gave it to Harry Truman when he was in desperate need of money amidst his presidential campaign in 1948. Truman went on to become president and to express his gratitude to his Zionist backers.

Since those days the Democratic Party has long been hospitable to and supported by rich Zionists. In 2002, for example, Haim Saban, the Israel-American who funds the Saban Center at the Brooking Institute and is a big contributor to AIPAC, gave $12.3 million to the Democratic Party. In 2001, the magazine Mother Jones listed on its website the 400 leading contributors to the 2000 national elections. Seven of the first 10 were Jewish, as were 12 of the top 20 and 125 of the top 250. Given this, all prudent candidates have gone to amazing lengths to satisfy their demands. There have been famous disputes, as between President Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin, and famous vendettas, as when the Lobby destroyed the political careers of Representative Paul Findley and of Senator Charles Percy because they were deemed to be anti-Israel.

None of this history is particularly controversial, and there have been plenty of well-documented accounts of the activities of the Israel Lobby down the years, from Alfred Lilienthal’s 1978 study, The Zionist Connection, to former U.S. Rep. Paul Findley’s 1985 book They Dare To Speak Out to Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S. Israeli Covert relationship, written by my brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, and published in 1991. (pp.319-20)

Looking at Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s book, Cockburn stated that it’s actually unremarkable and really rather boring.

In fact, the paper by Mearsheimer and Walt is extremely dull. The long version runs to 81 pages, no less than 40 pages of which are footnotes. I settled down to read it with eager anticipation but soon found myself looking hopefully for the end. There’s nothing in the paper that any moderately well-read student of the topic wouldn’t have known long ago, but the paper has the merit of stating rather blandly some home truths which are somehow still regarded as too dangerous to state publicly in respectable circles in the United States. (P. 322.)

Of the denunciations of the book as anti-Semitic, Cockburn states that they’re actually funny, as the Lobby does exist, the authors weren’t ant-Semites, and even the Washington Post and New York Times have pointed out that the book had a point.

This method of assault at least has the advantage of being funny, because there obviously is a Lobby – as noted above and because Mearsheimer and Walt aren’t anti-Semites any more than 99.9 per cent of others identifying the Lobby and criticizing its role. Partly as a reaction to Dershowitz and Cohen, the Washington Post and New York Times have now run a few pieces politely pointing out that the Israel Lobby has indeed exercised a chilling effect on the rational discussion of U.S. foreign policy. The tide it turning slightly. (P. 323).

Except in 21st century Britain, apparently. It looks very much like another case where someone has confused the Israel Lobby with ‘Jews’. In the case of the accusations against the Oscars, unfortunately there have always been stupid conspiracies about the Jewish influence in show business. Jews have been very prominent in American cinema, as has been pointed out by historians of the American film industry. They’ve stated, however, that this isn’t due to some dodgy conspiracy, but the simple fact that there much less prejudice against them in the entertainment and film industries than there were elsewhere. At times, there have been anti-Semitic accusations levelled because of this, as during the 1930s when Father Coughlin accused the Jewish film moguls of trying to destroy American culture. At other times, the situation has been much more complicated. Private Eye a few years ago ran a story about how the career of US entertainment journalist had been torpedoed after they ran an article, which described the large number of Jews in the film industry as a ‘Jewish mafia’. However, a Jewish author in a later article also used the same words to describe the strong Jewish presence in American cinema, with no complaints.

I very much doubt that there is any kind of Jewish conspiracy to rig the Oscars. But that shouldn’t stop any reasonable discussion of the possible influence of Jewish organisations, or organisations claiming to represent Jews, in such areas. This should be for the same reason that talking about the role of Evangelical Christians in promoting the Satanism scare a few years ago, or describing how, horrifically, many Christians in the Fascist countries during the War were all too willing to collaborate with the Nazis should necessarily make you anti-Christian.

These are very emotive, very controversial topics. Let’s show a bit of common sense and calm rationality before throwing accusations like anti-Semitism around, shall we?

What You Won’t Read in the Mainstream Press

May 4, 2016

Mike has also posted over at Vox Political a couple of articles commenting on the lack of coverage of certain issues by the mainstream press. He writes in this article below about the way, with the exception of Channel 4 news, none of the other channels are reporting about a meeting today between the police and the Election Commission to discuss massive Tory electoral fraud.

Election Commission meets police over Tory election fraud evidence

He also has this piece about how Jeremy Corbyn has told Labour members and supporters that people are turning to social media because of the censorship by the mainstream media of positive news about the party.

If political debate has a new home, it is in the social media – and Jeremy Corbyn knows it

Corbyn’s exactly right, and the mainstream media are terrified. Social media has already had an effect on American politics. Reginald D. Hunter, the Black American comedian, who has appeared on British TV in, amongst other things, Have I Got News For You, credited Obama’s election eight years ago to social media. Ordinary people got on Twitter, Facebook and so on to support him, thus circumventing establishment candidates like Shrillary. I gather that Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour party was also in large part due to activists coming together on social media. And I got a feeling that something similar is happening in the Land of the Free for Bernie Sanders. Unlike Shrillary, Cruz and the other presidential hopefuls, Bernie’s campaign is being funded not by corporations, but by ordinary people. He’s the genuinely popular candidate against corporate, establishment stooges. And like Corbyn’s Labour party, he’s also been largely frozen out by the mainstream media. They aren’t reporting him. In fact, there was even a mass demonstration against CNN for their refusal to give him airtime. Donald Trump, by contrast, has been given billions’ of dollars worth of free airtime by the news networks. Possibly because The Donald is a raving Fascist, and, whatever he says to the contrary, the walking embodiment of corporate power.

And there’s been a lot of very ugly censorship in the American media. Israel is a case in point. The American establishment press is uniformly pro-Zionist, and very largely will not run articles critical of Israel. Their stance is more extreme than that of the domestic Israeli press, which will cover stories of harassment, discrimination and brutality by their country’s government and the armed forces. To this day the American press has not published the UN resolution condemning the killing of civilians by the IDF in a particular massacre.

This censorship even extends to attacks on American shipping and service personnel by the Israelis. In 1967 Israeli warplanes attacked a US naval vessel, killing 127 American matelots. But the Israel lobby made sure that the story was spiked and didn’t appear in the press.

And it’s not just Israeli war crimes that the American press refuses to give space to. The New York Times also spike several stories about the atrocities committed by the Fascist death squads Reagan was backing in Central America back in the 1980s. A journo for the Times, Bonner, tried to run a story about the massacre of 1,000 men, women and children by the government death squads in the town of Monote in El Salvador. The story was spiked. Bonner went down there to make certain the story was true. It was. It still didn’t appear. The New York Time’s owner, Abraham Rosenthal, was one of Ronald Reagan’s mates. As a Reagan considered death squads like the Contras in Nicaragua ‘the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers’, Bonner’s report was spiked and his career ruined.

If you read Libertarian blogs, you can easily get the impression that the New York Times must be some towering bastion of liberal journalism. Mind you, the people, who write these blogs are frequently so insanely right-wing that they think the Daily Mail is left-wing. In fact, the paper’s so full of establishment lies and falsehoods that the radical journos, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair published an article about why dumping on the New York Times was useless in their book, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate. They made the point that the newspaper was so corrupt, you should adopt the complete opposite attitude to reading it. Instead of being saddened that there was precious little that was true or accurate in it, you should instead be glad, and only be downhearted if it actually said something close to the truth.

The end result is that people are abandoning the mainstream news media. The Young Turks and Secular Talk have reported how young people in particular are getting their news from the internet. Even the talk radio stations that carry such right-wing media pundits in America like Rush Limbaugh have a very low audience. If you believe Rushbo, he’s got one of the highest rated radio shows in America. The truth is, his audience is lower than some College campus radio stations, which only have the ability to broadcast a couple of miles at most. As for Fox News, which one pundit in the Radio Times tried to present as a model for future news reportage in the Beeb, its audience has an average age of 68. It’s been described as a television ‘retirement community’. It’s basically a group of reactionary senior citizens ranting about what them thar kids are gettin’ up to.

This is why there has been moaning in the Radio Times and the lamestream media about how irrelevant they’re becoming, and their declining influence. People are getting their news from elsewhere, news that may well be unattributed and sheer rubbish. And, worse, it’s breaking down the social consensus on issues that prevailed when everyone read pretty much the same newspapers, and watched the same TV news.

Too bad. Yes, there is a lot of rubbish on the internet. Bogus stories about dodgy bigfoot sightings, and aliens in the White House. But it’s also been genuinely empowering, and challenging the power of the corporate media. And that’s no bad thing indeed.

CounterPunch’s Alexander Cockburn on Censorship and Abuse for Covering Palestine

May 3, 2016

Alexander Cockburn, one of the writers and publishers of the radical US journal, CounterPunch, described his experience of abuse and censorship in a piece on the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians in the chapter ‘Palestine Down the Decades’ in his and Jeffrey St Clair’s End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate (Petrolia: CounterPunch/Edinburgh: AK Press 2007) 327-333. He writes

The first time I ever wrote about Palestinians was around 1973, when I was just starting a press column for a New York weekly called the Village Voice. It concerned a story in the New York Times about a “retaliatory” raid by the Israeli air force, after a couple of Al Fatah guerrillas had fired on an IDF unit. I’m not sure whether there were any fatalities. The Israeli planes flew north and dumped high explosive on a refugee camp in Lebanon, killing a dozen or so men, women, and children.

I wrote a little commentary, noting the usual lack of moral disquiet in the Times’ story about this lethal retaliation inflicted on innocent refugees. Dan Wolf, the Voice’s editor, called me in and suggested I might want to reconsider. I think, that first time, the item got dropped. But Dan’s unwonted act of censorship riled me, and I started writing a fair amount about the lot of the Palestinians.

These were the days when Palestinians carried far less news value for editors than Furbish’s lousewort, and no politician ever held that this beleaguered plant didn’t actually exist as a species, which is what Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister said of Palestinians.

Back then you had to dig a little harder to excavate what Jewish Israelis were actually doing to Palestinians. Lay out the facts about institutionalized racism, land confiscation, torture and a hail of abuse would pour through the mailbox, as when I published a long interview in the Voice in 1980 with the late Israel Shahak, the intrepid professor from Hebrew University. (p. 327).

He then goes on to say that there were plenty of testimony about the Israeli oppression, but very little of it ever got into print. And any suggestion that there was a long term plan to displace the Palestinians was bitterly attacked.

It wasn’t hard to get vivid descriptions of the increasingly intolerable conditions of life for Palestinians: the torture of prisoners, the barriers to the simplest trip, the harassment of farmers and school children, the house demolitions. Plenty of people came back from Israel and the occupied territories with harrowing accounts, though few of them ever made the journey into a major newspaper or onto national TV.

And even in the testimonies that did get published here, what was missing was any
acknowledgement of the long-term plan to wipe the record clean of all troublesome U.N. resolutions, crush Palestinian national aspirations, steal their land and water, cram them into ever smaller enclaves, ultimately balkanize them with the Wall, which was on the drawing board many years ago. Indeed, to write about any sort of master plan was to incur further torrents of abuse for one’s supposedly “paranoid” fantasies about Israel’s bad faith, which much pious invocation of the “peace process”.

But successive Israeli governments did have a long-term plan. No matter who was in power, the roads got built, the water stolen, the olive and fruit trees cut down (a million), the houses knocked over (12,000), the settlements imposed (300), the shameless protestations of good faith issued to the U.S. press (beyond computation).(Pp. 328-9).

We’ve seen a little of how the Israel lobby seeks to silence the country’s critics with the vicious accusations of anti-Semitism levelled at Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone. But they certainly haven’t been alone, as this article shows.

Voter Registration and the Campaign of Disenfranchisement and Intimidation against Working Class and Black Voters in Florida

February 1, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has written another excellent piece on how the Tories’ changes to the system of electoral registration has left many Labour supporters unable to vote. Which is precisely why they were introduced in the first place. Nevertheless, there is still enough time to register until three weeks before the elections.http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/01/electoral-registration-change-delivers-advantage-to-conservatives-lets-level-the-odds/ Hope Not Hate have also been running a campaign, in concert with the trade unions, to encourage everyone disenfranchised by the voting reforms to register: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/vrdrive/

Don’t be fooled. This was one done deliberately so that the young, the working class and ethnic minorities – the groups least likely to vote Tory, wouldn’t get the vote. The reforms are similarly to those introduced by the Republicans in America to exclude those groups. Again, the pretext was to stop voting fraud. But some of the Republicans were so blasé about the real reasons for the reforms, that they brazenly admitted it. One Republican congressman from the American Deep South actually stated, on American news, that they did it to attack the Democrats, the party in America that traditionally attracts these voters. The Young Turks did a piece on this about half a year ago, which I put up on this blog.

And when all else fails, the Republicans will go back to more traditional methods of crookedly securing an election win: abuse and intimidation of the voters at the election booths. They did this way back in Florida, in the election that narrowly secured Dubya his first term in the White House. Everyone remembers the presidential election in that state for the controversy over the way the voting machines worked, and how the various marks punched into the ballot papers were interpreted. All the fuss about ‘pregnant’ and ‘hanging’ chads. What wasn’t reported was the way working class, and particularly Black voters, were wrongfully harassed and thrown out of the voting booths after being told, again wrongly, that they had no right to vote. Jeffrey Sinclair wrote an entire chapter on the scandal, What You Didn’t Read About the Black Vote in Florida’, in the book he and Alexander Cockburn wrote about the current dire state of politics and political journalism in America, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate.

Among the incidents they uncovered was a case where a man, who was taking his family to vote in his car, was stopped by the cops and told that he couldn’t take that many people down to the voting booth without a chauffeur’s licence. he was forced to go home. By the time he got to vote, it was too late.

Another man was refused entry to polling station on the grounds that he ineligible to vote, as he was a convict. Again, another lie.

And there was a massive campaign against Black and Hispanic voters, where tens of thousands were turned away before they could exercise their democratic rights at the polls. Details of this vile debacle were gather by the NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in a five hour hearing. Election workers demanded to see the IDs of Blacks coming to vote, but made no such demands of Whites. Haitians coming to vote were told that they need to forms of identification. Police roadblocks were set up around the Black neighbourhoods in Tallahassee. The cops also sought to intimidate Blacks coming to vote by asking them if they were criminals. Some polls were moved without notice from their official positions, and the polls closed early in Black neighbourhoods. A number of Black college students were sent away after being told that they couldn’t vote, even though they had registered in the summer. Many others were also given the excuse that they couldn’t vote, because they weren’t on the rolls. They later found out that they were. Stacey Powers, the news director of a local radio station in Tampa Bay, and a former policewoman, said that while visiting a number of local polling stations on the day she saw Blacks being refused entrance to the polls on the grounds that their names weren’t on the lists. When she informed them that they had the right to vote, as long as they signed an affidavit, she herself was thrown out. Charles Weaver, the publisher of a local newspaper in Fort Myers, the Community Voice, said he saw poll watchers threatening voters by saying that they knew where they worked, and were going to get them fired. In one of area, Duval County, which has a functional illiteracy rate of 47 per cent, those asking for help with their ballots were insulted by the election workers as ‘dumb’ and ‘retarded’. About 2,000 recent Haitian immigrants were prevented from voting because of the complexity of ballot papers and the fact that there no interpreters made available, who spoke their native Creole French. In other areas, which did have translators and interpreters, these were told not to talk to speak to them. If they did, they were thrown out. Other Haitians were threatened with deportation.

And when these stunts didn’t work, there was always deliberately obstructive bureaucracy. One woman and her husband, who had moved to Florida from NYC, did not receive their elections cards, despite having registered in time and making repeated enquiries. After being repeated stonewalled, the woman left the offices of the registration authorities, unable to vote.

Across Florida, more than 187,000 votes were declared invalid. Over half of these were from Blacks. 12,000 people were denied the right to vote, on the ground they were former criminals. Nearly all of them were Black, and nearly all of them were no such thing. 8,000 of these maligned people did manage to re-register, but 4,000 didn’t bother. The list of supposed ex-cons was compiled Database Technologies, a subsidiary of ChoicePoint. This company has also been under investigation for misusing information taken from state computers. Its CEO, Rick Bozar, made a donation of $100,000 to the Republican National Convention.

Adding insult to injury for all this was the complete indifference of the election authorities and the Democrats, who would have benefited from the disqualified votes. The Justice Department did not do anything to investigate the charges, despite the fact that the Attorney General is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act. And Jesse Jackson was told by his bosses in the party to stop mentioning the issue after he’d complained about it for two days.

St. Clair compares the whole charade to the demonstration election held in the South and Central American US client states, when they were under the control of US-backed Fascist dictators. These used to hold ‘demonstration elections’ to show that they were democracies. Just before the elections took place, the death squads swooped to arrest or kill any potential troublemakers. After the opposition and the poor were duly cowed, the election took place, the ruling Nazis re-elected, and western observers went back to report how everything was normal, peaceful and democratic there under the benign rule of El Colonel or whoever. It wasn’t quite that bad in Florida, but nevertheless, the Republicans and their official collaborators used fraud and intimidation to get back in.

It’d be tempting, but wrong, to see this as simply something that could only happen in America. The problem is the Tories have taken so much of their policies and campaign strategies from America, that I’m afraid there’s a real danger that they’ll start importing their dirty tricks as well. They have, after all, taken on their campaign to disenfranchise British Blacks, other ethnic minorities and the poor through copying the Republican registration reforms. I would not like to put it past any of them not to try something like this. Remember Stalin’s line: It’s not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.

Make sure you’re registered to vote, and be very careful to make sure there are no dirty tricks in your area. And if there are, inform the proper authorities and every available civil rights and, if you’re Black or Asian, anti-racist organisations. They may not try a stunt like this at the election, but they should be ruthlessly exposed if they do. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.