Israeli Murders, NATO and Afghanistan 242


I was in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for over 20 years and a member of its senior management structure for six years, I served in five countries and took part in 13 formal international negotiations, including the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea and a whole series of maritime boundary treaties. I headed the FCO section of a multidepartmental organisation monitoring the arms embargo on Iraq.

I am an instinctively friendly, open but unassuming person who always found it easy to get on with people, I think because I make fun of myself a lot. I have in consequence a great many friends among ex-colleagues in both British and foregin diplomatic services, security services and militaries.

I lost very few friends when I left the FCO over torture and rendition. In fact I seemed to gain several degrees of warmth with a great many acquantances still on the inside. And I have become known as a reliable outlet for grumbles, who as an ex-insider knows how to handle a discreet and unintercepted conversation.

What I was being told last night was very interesting indeed. NATO HQ in Brussels is today a very unhappy place. There is a strong understanding among the various national militaries that an attack by Israel on a NATO member flagged ship in international waters is an event to which NATO is obliged – legally obliged, as a matter of treaty – to react.

I must be plain – nobody wants or expects military action against Israel. But there is an uneasy recognition that in theory that ought to be on the table, and that NATO is obliged to do something robust to defend Turkey.

Mutual military support of each other is the entire raison d’etre of NATO. You must also remember that to the NATO military the freedom of the high seas guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is a vital alliance interest which officers have been conditioned to uphold their whole career.

That is why Turkey was extremely shrewd in reacting immediately to the Israeli attack by calling an emergency NATO meeting. It is why, after the appalling US reaction to the attack with its refusal to name Israel, President Obama has now made a point of phoning President Erdogan to condole.

But the unhappiness in NATO HQ runs much deeper than that, I spoke separately to two friends there, from two different nations. One of them said NATO HQ was “a very unhappy place”. The other described the situation as “Tense – much more strained than at the invasion of Iraq”.

Why? There is a tendency of outsiders to regard the senior workings of governments and international organisations as monolithic. In fact there are plenty of highly intelligent – and competitive – people and diverse interests involved.

There are already deep misgivings, especially amongst the military, over the Afghan mission. There is no sign of a diminution in Afghan resistance attacks and no evidence of a clear gameplan. The military are not stupid and they can see that the Karzai government is deeply corrupt and the Afghan “national” army comprised almost exclusively of tribal enemies of the Pashtuns.

You might be surprised by just how high in Nato scepticism runs at the line that in some way occupying Afghanistan helps protect the west, as opposed to stoking dangerous Islamic anger worldwide.

So this is what is causing frost and stress inside NATO. The organisation is tied up in a massive, expensive and ill-defined mission in Afghanistan that many whisper is counter-productive in terms of the alliance aim of mutual defence. Every European military is facing financial problems as a public deficit financing crisis sweeps the continent. The only glue holding the Afghan mission together is loyalty to and support for the United States.

But what kind of mutual support organisation is NATO when members must make decades long commitments, at huge expense and some loss of life, to support the Unted States, but cannot make even a gesture to support Turkey when Turkey is attacked by a non-member?

Even the Eastern Europeans have not been backing the US line on the Israeli attack. The atmosphere in NATO on the issue has been very much the US against the rest, with the US attitude inside NATO described to me by a senior NATO officer as “amazingly arrogant – they don’t seem to think it matters what anybody else thinks”.

Therefore what is troubling the hearts and souls of non-Americans in NATO HQ is this fundamental question. Is NATO genuinely a mutual defence organisation, or is it just an instrument to carry out US foreign policy? With its unthinking defence of Israel and military occupation of Afghanistan, is US foreign policy really defending Europe, or is it making the World less safe by causing Islamic militancy?

I leave the last word to one of the senior NATO officers – who incidentally is not British:

“Nobody but the Americans doubts the US position on the Gaza attack is wrong and insensitve. But everyone already quietly thought the same about wider American policy. This incident has allowed people to start saying that now privately to each other.”

Craig Murray is a former British Ambassador. He is also a former Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He negotiated the UK’s current maritime boundaries with Ireland, Denmark (Faeroes), Belgium and France, and boundaries of the Channel Islands, Turks and Caicos and British Virgin Islands. He was alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the UN Preparatory Commission on the Law of the Sea. He was Head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, enforcing sanctions on Iraq, and directly responsible for clearance of Royal Navy boarding operations in the Persian Gulf.

Reviews of Craig Murray’s War on Terror Memoir, “Murder in Samarkand” – published in the US as “Dirty Diplomacy”:

“It really is a magnificent achievement” – Noam Chomsky

“A fearless book by a fearless man. Craig Murray tells the truth whether the “authorities” like it or not. I salute a man of integrity” – Harold Pinter

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242 thoughts on “Israeli Murders, NATO and Afghanistan

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  • Clark

    Monty, seems not to do coverage south of about 40 degrees north. I don’t know why though. Zoom out until you see their coverage cells.

  • mrjohn

    “It is true during a war. What war?”

    One in which the opposition aren’t allowed to shoot back.

  • Clark


    Israel wish to provoke Turkey into a response, with a view to discrediting them, due to the Iran / Turkey Uranium deal.

    Israels attack was not so much arrogance as desperation.

  • Zizzi

    There seems to be a bit of an “Israel losing its marbles” theme developing.

    Norman G. Finkelstein is at it too:

    “Israel Is Now a Lunatic State”

    The US needs to bring these very dangerous people under control immediately, if such a thing is now even possible.

    I just hope they don’t have nuclear weapons.

  • amk

    It’s seemed fairly obvious to me that a European defence identity, unreliant on the whims of the US, is in the interests of Europeans even disregarding this issue. The UK’s defence needs have far more in common with the French than the US simply by virtue of being in the same place (thus the same neighbours, trade routes, immigrants) and being around the same size.

    Europe certainly shouldn’t need the US as protectors: the US aside, the combined military expenditure of the EU is about the same as that of the rest of the world combined, and technologically eclipses all but those who use NATO weapons anyway.

  • BGD

    Perhaps it is time for those in suitable positions of responsibility in the European Union, NATO etc to admit to themselves and to others that international law itself is a cover for the US (or rather power brokers within the US) and its allies to punish others and protect itself and its friends.

    If international law and regional organisations are to have the consent and trust of the populations they are supposed to serve then both the EU and NATO need to be seen to draw a line in the sand and speak up.

    How many years has Israel been allowed to continue to defy ‘international law’ and use a weaker enemy as an excuse to continue to take to its bosom more territory and more aid (US, Germany etc) while its protectors rationalise the lack of any meaningful response by reference to confidence building measures?

    If Europe is really an emerging power (and not just a way of slowly removing power from national electorates and placing it further away) then it needs to re-evaluate Israel’s golden position as a non-member trading partner, it is the only leverage it has.

    Unfortunately the only democratic portion of the EU – MEPs have little power in and by themselves.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “Norman G. Finkelstein is at it too:”

    Of course he is. He’s a Russia Today / Press TV favorite.

  • Bert

    ^ Well said Redders @ 1:23 PM.

    With regard to state media, read this article by Professor Richard Keeble, on how ‘Newspapers are the playthings of MI5’. Read further on about the (sshh, don’t mention it; blandly titled) UK IRD (Information Research Department) & the CIA ‘Operation Mockingbird’ operation to influence domestic and foreign media.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Bert, that’s a link to a conspiracy nutcase website with an article without any substantiation. To state the obvious – what bullshit.

  • Conrad

    I am from the United States and live in the Deep South. I have read several people inquiring about the public sentiment in the States. I like my fellow citizens grew up beleiving Israeli could do no wrong especially here in Christian Zionist country(the deep south). I guareentee you the county I live in with a population of 50,000 there are 2 people(me and my mom) that understand Israeli has veered off into delusional land dragging its puppet the U.S.A with it. It has taken me 5 years to convince my best friend who is intelligent and university educated 5 years to get him to start questioning the propaganda he has been feed his whole life concerning Israeli . He was so thougherly brainwashed by his Christian Zionist church. And he is one of the smarter ones, for the rest of my neighboors forget about it. I feel like I’m living in an open air cult. The Christian Zionists(the whole southeastern part of the United States, Confederacy) support Israeli because their scoffield preachers have convinced them Israeli can do no wrong and basically WWIII must happen to bring the Prince of Peace back. Truly psychotic and sickening. They know nothing of the King of Kings. Well, it’s hopeless for at least 70,000,000 million proclaimed christian zionists here in the states aka the Republican Party. Unfortunately the Democratic politicians are no better and we know why. As for our media forget about it. Nothing but propaganda. Is there any hope. Yes, finally the progressives of this country are starting to awaken the ones who voted in Obama no change puppet. At least we know who runs our foreign policy now. The awakening is also happening in the progressive blogospehere, with the most heartening thing to see is many young Jewish American writers are getting it and starting to make their voice heard. Where is our hope, the democratic base a.k.a. the Western part of my country and many mid atlantic and Northern states. Watch the deemocratic primary next Tuesday in California between Jane Israeli lobby Harmon and Winograd an American Jew calling Israeli out on its abhorrent policies. It is going to be a good measuring stick here in the states for the democratic party on the assumption it is a tamper free election.

  • Mr M

    Echoes of fascism:

    Barak: In the Middle East, there is no mercy for the weak

  • mike cobley

    For interested observers, the link that Louis from St Larry refers to is at the July 7th Peoples Independent Inquiry Forum, and a post quoting from an article at the Medialens website. The article is entitled ‘Hacks And Spooks’ and is by Richard Keeble, professor of journalism at the University of Lincoln. I refrain from including html links since good ol’ Larr will undoubtedly open a can of conspiraloon on my ass.

  • Art Hawkes

    Talk of anti-Semitism overlooks that Arabs are also Semites so Israel’s apartheid policy against Gaza is anti-Semitic. At the time of Moses, the Egyptian upper class considered themselves the Chosen People. You will recall that the OT talks of the death of the first born during the plagues in Egypt. The Hebrew words for chosen and first-born are very similar. Finally, just as Bliar was the poodle of Bush, so the United States is the poodle of Israel. What does Israel know that the U.S. would rather the rest of the world doesn’t find out?

  • Redders

    Conrad, as scary as your post is, thank you for that. I really imagined that the US population would be better informed. And I thought the good ole United of Kingdom was bad for propaganda, at least the BBC gives us a hint sometimes.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Notice the stats from – good article – extract:

    The BBC failed to mention that during the 2006 war Lebanon was subjected to 12,000 Israeli bombing raids, 2,500 navy shells, 100,000 army shells and 4.6 million cluster bombs. (Jane’s Defence Weekly, ‘The war in numbers,’ August 23, 2006 and

    Even prior to the December 27, 2008 Operation Cast Lead offensive – when Israel attacked Gaza with hundreds of bombing raids and drone attacks, and thousands of artillery and tank shells – 14 Israelis had been killed by mostly home-made rockets fired from Gaza over the previous seven years as against 5,000 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Some 1,400 Palestinians were massacred in the Cast Lead assault.

  • amk

    The original link to Keeble’s essay.

    I think it’s quite uncontroversial that the security service used to try to influence the British media. It’s not hard to do: offer “exclusive” “insider info” to journalists that say what you want and gives the journo a good story. Then if the journo starts doing things you don’t like, threaten to cut off the “exclusive” tit bits.

    The controversial thing is whether this still happens. I don’t see why it would have happened in the Cold War but doesn’t happen know though. American media supposedly now have a code not to allow anonymity for sources unless there is clearly good reason for that anonymity precisely to make propaganda harder. This was adopted post Iraq War media bullshit.

    The most notorious case perhaps was ABC’s anonymously sourced allegations that the post-9/11 anthrax attacks were linked to Saddam.

  • amk

    Oh, people like Melanie Philips I’m confident aren’t MI5 plants. They’re just bigots.

  • Billy G.

    One of the Canadians that was attacked by the Israeli hi-jackers gave an interview today on what he saw, and had said that everything the israeli government is saying about the attack is nothing but a pack of lies.

    Israel is good at forcing it’s hand, usually with the help of it’s collective media spin dryer, to make it’s word more important than the rest.

    Israel’s intentions were all too clear.

    The only problem was they didn’t have a chance to kill-off most of humanitarian’s and kidnap the other’s without being identified.

  • CheebaCow

    Arghh I wish I could disengage from net debates, but I can’t. It’s probably the main reason why I don’t allow myself to engage with trolls such as larry.


    The ‘In the News’ section does not use single words, only combinations of 2 or more words. If it did count single words it would simply list words like ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and’ etc. Or if these words disallowed it would be ‘economy’, ‘violence’ or ‘crime’. You see it is virtually impossible to make a useful algorithm for the news based on single words. That is why Gaza, Israel etc are not listed. It ain’t a grand conspiracy as far as I can tell. Also it doesn’t explain why their ‘censorship’ would place the story they are censoring in the most prominent position but delete it from a less visible place.


    The wiki link you posted has no reference to Israel, let alone to Sergey Brin attending celebrations for the founding of Israel. Regardless, it is a long bow to draw to say that because one man attended the celebrations, the entire company is censoring this story.

    I don’t think google is some magically pure company, when I use google search I always do so with google’s scripts and cookies blocked. However in terms of openness and freedom of information google ranks much higher than virtually any other tech company. Much more dangerous than any ‘censorship’ google takes part in, is the potential for massive data-mining.

  • derek

    Best of luck to Marci Winograd in the California Democratic primary, but I will not be holding my breath. I gather it is almost impossible to get elected to anything in the US unless endorsed by AIPAC. The Zionist lobby likes to own *all* the candidates.

    Here in the UK it is a bit more subtle but essentially the same. Any candidate who is a “Friend of Israel” will magically get lots of campaign contributions from strangers.

  • Jon

    Regarding Richard Keeble, I haven’t read that link but he is likely to be the same person who wrote a guest alert for Media Lens some while back. I remember it being so good – drawing from a number of current activist sources – that I wrote a note to the editors to pat them on the back. I’ve included the link here if anyone wishes to read.

    He doesn’t sound like a conspiracy theorist to me.

  • Jon

    PS, I’ve reposted this post over at Indymedia UK – I think it is well worth spreading widely.

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