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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  • amk

    CheebaCow: thanks for the reminder.

    Larry, no-one has accused you of using Megaphone, and Megaphone is run not by the Israeli government but by a bunch of Zionist internet nerds.

  • Poopsoup

    I was distressed by Canada’s reaction

    Mr.Harper is a staunch “knee jerk” supporter of Israel, and as such lost additional respect in the international

    community by refusing to condemn this act while Mr. Netenyahu was visting on Canadian soil when this event hit the wires.

  • super390

    I’d like to ask some questions about the actual prospects of NATO collapsing.

    The reason is simple. Google “Delian League” and “Peloponnesian Wars”.

    If we don’t get the US out of NATO, we will never cut the Pentagon budget enough to start to rebuild our damaged country. In fact, we will get into more and bigger wars that will ruin us beyond the chance to retrench as a normal great-power state and maybe salvage our democracy.

    But until this article I scarcely believed that European officers were willing to contemplate leaving NATO. How can this sentiment be turned into a mass movement?

    And how can that mass movement be prevented from being depicted in US media as a “new Nazism” or “new Communism” or “anti-Semitic conspiracy”?

    I have been greatly disheartened by Americans on the Internet in recent days. Not just the ones who believe all Arabs are animals who must be exterminated, since they’re too sneaky to enslave. What really sickened me was dumbasses celebrating the fall of Japan’s prime minister for the crime of trying to reduce the number of US bases on my birthplace of Okinaway by one. The fact that he was democratically elected, that Japan’s people wanted this? The Japanese people themselves were smeared as monsters for wanting a say in foreign troops on their soil. Worse, many said that America had conquered Japan and could do whatever it wanted, and that the Japanese were lucky that they were allowed to live.

    I don’t know how to convey how this made me feel as the son of an American airman from Jim Crow Texas whose first posting was in Okinawa, who married an Okinawan waitress even though the US Consul tried to talk him out of it. If anything, our bigotry seems more savage today than in 1963, not based so much on skin color but on a near-Hitlerian belief that all other life on Earth exists to serve Americans. We have truly been corrupted by power, and lobotomized by it, and criminalized by it.

    There is no way that you can reason these people into giving up the empire. You will have to trick them into believing they’re doing it to punish you all. You will have to con us like Br’er Rabbit.

  • Craig

    super 390

    I don’t think NATO will collapse for at least a couple of decades. When it’s cold war role ended, I remember all the options for NATO papers flying around Whitehall – dissolving the thing was never mentioned once. Vested interests build up.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Told you a couple of days ago that the Uber-Zionists, even the subcontracted/ ‘volunteer battalions’, would be hard at work in the blogosphere, specifically herein, attempting to divert, insult, provoke, distract, tie-up, dishearten. ‘FUD’ (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), as someone called it – a very evocative term. Busy, busy beavers. They are so amusing. All leave cancelled, no toilet-breaks. Poor guys…

    Btw, thank you, Conrad, your excellent analytical input here, especially coming as it does from the heartlands of the USA, is a sterling counterblast to subservience and a clarion-call for lucidity.

  • Redders


    thanks for the comments about the blog, I started it almost as a diary and just kept adding bits. Never really expected anyone to read it amongst all the blognoise these days.

  • Louis from St Poohie

    “Amir Gissin, head of the Public Affairs Department of the Foreign Ministry of Israel, has expressed support for the tool’s use. “The Foreign Ministry itself is now pushing the idea, urging supporters of Israel everywhere to become cyberspace soldiers in the new battleground for Israel’s image.” it reports. Computing website The Register has described use of the software as “highly organised mass manipulation of technologies which are supposed to be democratising” and claimed Megaphone is “effectively a high-tech exercise in ballot-stuffing”.

    Funnily enough, no one but stupid Americans is convinced that Israel’s image is anything other than an evil racist state, far worse than South Africa ever was.

    Tool or no tool.

  • Redders

    Sorry folks, completely off topic

    Courtenay Barnett

    I am very well aware of the difference between the Law and the Justice system, hopefully unlike you (I wouldn’t wish it on anyone) I had to think about it whilst regularly rolling about in the dirt with disease riddled, violent drunks. As a Lawyer you have the luxury of time and peace to consider what the implications of a case are, many of the rest of us have to make those decisions in nano seconds. If you are prosecuting the Police Officer in the case you mention I’m sure that simple fact will be foremost in your mind, no amount of training or preparation can prepare one for that moment when one knows a life will be extinguished.

    As for having your life threatened, I am truly sorry to hear you have suffered that but I, and many more of my former profession, run that risk almost daily by weapon wielding thugs who have every intention of carrying out their threat there and then. Hopefully you were not subject to that kind of direct action but if you were, we are perhaps closer than our email ping pong would suggest.

    “The standard question asked of me is if I would defend someone if I knew that he was guilty:-

    i) If he does confirm guilt, then my duty is to advise him to enter a “guilty” plea; or

    ii) If he denies guilt and has a good arguable defence, then my duty is to defend to the best of my ability.”

    So if your client admits guilt to you, and having listened to your advice to plead guilty he ignores it and pleads not guilty, do you then refuse to represent him? In my experience that is not the case. I think there are enough high profile cases hinging on tenuous technicalities that demonstrate the desires of the Lawyers outweighing reasonable and acceptable Justice. And I refuse to accept that there are enough people falsely pleading guilty to justify your acceptance of that as a reason to represent him regardless.

    Furthermore, in my considerable experience with criminal, commercial and divorce lawyers I have found most of them, and I emphasise most, not all of them, blaggards of the first order with no more concern for their clients than what they are financially worth to them.

    A prominent Lawyer, a Knighted one no less, threatened to sue me for the comments made in a letter I wrote on his firms mis handling of my late Fathers estate. It wasn’t a big estate but it was considerably less when the post separation contract (if that makes any sense at all, my father and his second wife had a contract drawn up on property division when they separated which included conditions in the event of his death) which was trampled over and rendered virtually worthless by the woman following his death. My Father had appointed the firm sole executors of his will and estate which seemed to suit this bunch of crooks very well.

    When I was threatened with being sued I spoke to the Lawyer who handled my divorce, the second one, I sacked the incompetent first one in court, who was a friend of our family and whose own family run a respected Law firm in Glasgow. He said he would speak to the head of the other firm as he knew the individual doing the threatening well; I never heard from him again, evidently he was warned off by a senior individual. Whoever heard of a bereaved son being threatened by representatives of his own Father!

    I could go into more tales of derring do when I have crossed swords with a number of your profession but I’m too far off topic here as it is. I have, however, made very good friends with a Lawyer most others find a distasteful nuisance, he’s a self confessed ambulance chaser who won me considerably more money for an injury I sustained in a motorcycle accident than the very well to do London Lawyer who advertised on the back of a hospital card but who found ambulance chasing so distasteful he couldn’t be bothered to do anything but settle so he could claim his fee.

    I would bet my mortgage that most lawyers do pro bono work, whether its to salve their conscience or genuinely contribute to society I couldn’t possibly comment but what I do know is that if I presented almost any Lawyer with the same question I posed you I would receive an almost identical answer.

    And that’s much of the problem, having a country run by legal clones, in nulabours case making a law for every day they were in office, 13 years x 365, but still being unable to keep their own house in order is symptomatic of the arrogance of your profession.

    I am perfectly prepared to believe you are an honourable man, I sincerely hope you are and were your book not written by you I may well take it as a matter of course. Would you believe everything Tony Blair writes about himself or Jack Straw or any of their cronies and I appreciate you have never aspired to high office but writing a book about yourself is as reliable as a CV these days.

    Finally, “………But, I do conscionable things at times.”

    I’m not sure you wanted to put that in quite that way 🙂

    In order that we don’t continue to hijack Craig’s site if you wish to continue this you may want to respond on my blog.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “Told you a couple of days ago that the Uber-Zionists, even the subcontracted/ ‘volunteer battalions’, would be hard at work in the blogosphere, specifically herein, attempting to divert, insult, provoke, distract, tie-up, dishearten.”

    No, Suhayl, you paranoid religious idiot. I’m just one person.

    Again, anyone who disagrees with your position on Israel must be part of the Grand Conspiracy.

  • Mario

    to Lary from St. Luis

    I do not know exactly what a piracy on the high seas is but ;

    if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck – it certainly is a duck.

    I read in Haaretz, not long time ago, that an Izraeli lawyer robbed Holocaust survivors of over 60 million dollars. No wonder that now Israeli need some cargo aid for their poor. There are not enough wheelchairs for their people in need.

    Finkelstein did not have to exaggerate. Read Israeli media.

  • db

    The Mavi Marmara was not sailing under turkish flag. The flag of the vessel was changed to Komor Islands prior the departure! Maybe to avoid strong international consequences like Article 5 of the NATO treaty?

  • rwendland


    It looks like MV Mavi Marmara was reflagged from Turkey to Comoros (an Indian Ocean island state) a few weeks before the attack, probably when IHH bought her. This will probably let NATO off the hook regarding a decent response. lists recent contacts as:

    Ex Names History

    Vessel’s Name Flag Call Sign Last Reported

    MAVI MARMARA Comoros D6FU2 2010-05-31 01:56

    MAVI MARMARA Comoros D6FM6 2010-05-22 05:27

    MAVI MARMARA Turkey TCBY 2010-05-01 00:41

  • Anonymous


    I trust that you are aware that that WSJ smear piece comes out of Zionist Rupert Murdoch’s (Moloch’s) media empire.

  • Tom Welsh

    “Is NATO genuinely a mutual defence organisation, or is it just an instrument to carry out US foreign policy?”

    To ask the question is to answer it.

  • M. Rocknest

    From a previous comment: “What does Israel know that the U.S. would rather the rest of the world doesn’t find out?”

    My guess is that Israel and treasonous factions of the U.S. government colluded in making 9-11 happen and Israel figures there would be more harm to the U.S. than itself if it revealed the truth. But what do I know? I’m from Canada, a country which is led by a government which is generally quite obliging whenever the U.S. deigns to take a brief glance northward and consistently supports Israel’s agenda. I wonder what the U.S. and Israel know about Canada? (Other than it is a pretty obedient little puppy state.)

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Lots of Uber-Zionists are freaking out on the web and in the MSM. They have been laid bare, they have been exposed for what they are. They have been rumbled. Everyone knows what they are. Everyone can see their nakedness. The Big Lie isn’t working any more. So they get hilariously enraged and end-up looking and sounding like Oliver Hardy! I like it!

    How many people know that Lancashire lad, Stan Laurel went to Rutherglen Academy and had his stage debut, at the age of 16, at the Glasgow Panopticon?

  • glenn

    Suhayl Saadi: Indeed it does show us a lot. They’ve even decided to sic the spam-bots on us!

    It won’t make any difference. They’ve lost the moral and intellectual argument… strange, they make a habit of doing that, but it never puts them off having another go.

  • Conrad


    I appreciate the feedback. I’ll take a look at What’s the matter in Kansas. Yea must people know whether or not they admit it we are in deep economic trouble. I agree.

    As for expanding theologically. I rather not because I don’t feel qualified too. I try to keep it simple. You know the greatest commandment and of course the hardest one of all to turn the other cheek and love your enemies. I heard a commentator once say Christianity is the most difficult foreign policy to implement. And for that reason it has never been tried. I concur.

  • jerry sutherland

    While I understand you’re expertise in these matters Re: NATO needs to protect an ally, my question is why they don’t chastise Turkey for allowing these people to fly their flag, was NATO aware of this, was it a rouge event? Everyone seems to want to denounce Israel for doing what is needed to prevent blockade runners from doing what they were attempting to do. Does the media have such power to sway and bend truth? Has clarity and common sense been lost to some impossible vision of that part of the world?

  • Michael Petek

    A few minutes’s search on the Internet will tell you that the Mavi Marmara flies the flag of the Comoro Islands, not Turkey. The Rachel Corrie is flagged to Cambodia, not Ireland.

    So the Turkish government lied through its teeth when it squealed to NATO that one of its ships had been attacked, though its last port of call had been in Northern Cyprus, which has been aggressively occupied by Turkey since 1974.

  • Michael Petek

    Now, why would Turkey try to pass off the Marmara as its flag vessel?

    To manoeuvre NATO into taking the side of itself, with Syria, Hamas, Iran and Hizbollah in a war of aggression to destroy the State of Israel?

    If so, Turkey is already in common plan or conspiracy in aggression.

  • satya

    I see the agitprop boys have arrived.

    Just to clear the miasmic fog:-

    Free Gaza Flotilla Ships and their flags

    Written by Free Gaza Team | 01 June 2010

    1. Mavi Marmara passenger Flagged in Turkey

    2. Sofia cargo ship Flagged in Greece

    3. Gazza 1 cargo ship Flagged in Turkey

    4. Gazza 2 cargo ship Flagged in Turkey

    5. Spendoni passenger Flagged in Greece

    6. Challenger 1 Flagged in U.S.

  • MK

    Dear Craig,

    Perhaps NATA should cruise a few US websites like Veterans Today, Makow, Rense etc.. They would quickly discover that THINKING Americans, who exist in much larger numbers than our media suggests, do not agree with ISRAEL or our corrupt government’s support of them.

    We know that our Congressmen and Senators support Israel to get their regular checks from AIPAC and to ensure themselves a safe bolthole when the country finally tires of their perfidiousness and attemtps to arrest them.

    NATO needs to poll the people who are supposed to be the source of governmental power and stop listening to the Bilderberger puppets currently ensconced in Washington and elsewhere.

  • Seb

    Helo again AMK and Conrad, Ithink Craig associates religion with nutters – personally I would place those with overmuch reliance on shifting human laws in that category, a la Machiavelli. But now the crowd has rushed on he won’t mind if we continue—-

    For Amk have you considered that much of experience is not amenable to rational analysis — the power of music, poetry, love for one particular person. Why?

    Maybe religion is like that, you must feel it, not work it out.

    If you read for example, a reasonable translation of Rumi poems, would you not feel that you were missing out on something?

    The book of Joshua is unknown to me.Long ago I was forced to attend a fairly ordinary British Grammar school. in the days when murderers were hanged, songs and fisticuffs outside the pub every Friday night, homosexuals locked up, and illegitemite births a disgrace. Headmaster with a cane in one hand and a Bible in the other. Every school day began with a religious assembly. It was enough to put one off religion for life.

    But we did meet the stuff, and even then I worked out that there was a fundamental difference between the Old Testament and the New. It seemed to me that the Pharisees, the Jewish leaders, had Jesus klled because his message was totally subversive to theirs, Same as Socrates.

    Now IU am old and start to think on these things again, I see no reason to change that view. The Old Testament is not Christian, it is Judaic. Contains the idea of one God, the Ten Commandments, and the rest a stone age tribal survival manual.

    Very popular with rulers and in fine poetic language in the older English version. But incompatible with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    It seems to me that it would be very difficult to be a true follower of Christ, that most people much prefer the primitve Old Testament, so that the “christian Zionists” are not followers of Christ, but converts to Judaism.

    A million thanks Conrad, it was a question I’d been wanting to ask for a long time, and you have answered beyond any expectationd Khoda hafez.

    For Craig tho’ I don’t expect him to have time to answer, thanks for explaining something of the workings of the country i was born into. The people you know, that level, they are employed. instructed, afraid of losing their jobs — can you tell us more of the tiers above who actually decides for example tha the British army will attack Iraq, or that the BBC will adopt a pro Zionist line?

    Sorry it is a late reply, I’ve been off doing sensible things like catching shrimps and building a new boat.

    Bye for now

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