Diplomacia Suja 309


My last post did not signal a return to blogging but rather explained why I need a few days’ break. But I have to share with you my joy at the release of the Brazilian edition of Murder in Samarkand, translated from the US edition and entitled Diplomacia Suja.

This is the first foreign language edition and I am childishly excited to hold it in my hands. I was actually jumping up and down a few minutes ago. There seems something magical about seeing your work in a tongue which is mysterious to you. Many thanks to Companhia Das Letras and especially to the translator, Berilo Vargas, whom I am yet to meet.


Good progress is being made on a Turkish translation.

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309 thoughts on “Diplomacia Suja

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  • Clark

    Abe Rene,

    you’ve raised an important and difficult point.


    the truth or falsity of the incident and the Murdoch Machine’s motivation for reporting that, and not reporting other things, should be regarded as separate points.

    Suhayl Saadi,

    “It is easy to deploy armies but hard to pull them out”. Exactly.


    George Galloway has been criticised for his involvement with Saddam Hussein’s regime. Craig has been criticised for engaging with members of Karimov’s regime. But engagement seems a far superior strategy than war. War should be seen as an admission of failure.

    The big picture is one of long term interference and exploitation of Middle Eastern / ‘Islamic’ regions by Western governments for primarily economic reasons. Divide and exploit. This has deprived the world of a broad, moderate Middle Eastern / ‘Islamic’ collaboration which could provide an appropriate force to intervene in such problems.

    US/NATO forces are immensely hindered by being seen as invaders, and by giving support to factions that are just as bad as the groups they’re fighting.

    There probably isn’t any quick answer. On balance, I’d say get US/NATO out, and let the long, slow healing and moderation process begin. Look at Iran for an example. There was democracy, but it made decisions that didn’t suit the West economically. So the Shah was reinstalled. A revolution occurred, a supreme leader was established, but steps towards democracy soon followed. Iran’s regime gets much criticism, quite rightly, but the long term direction, I think, is positive.

    Societies are like people; they heal, given time. The first steps to aiding their health are to stop injuring them, and engage with them, giving them support.

  • Abe Rene

    Clark: “get US/NATO out, and let the long, slow healing and moderation process begin.” Imagine that you’re the chairman of a tribunal with the power to make this decision, about to announce it. The young woman I referred to (who is still alive this moment in a refuge in Kabul) is in the audience with a group of others, and so are a group of Taleban ad in-laws demanding punishment for them. If you say ‘let the healing begin’ the Taleban will rub their hands in anticipation, believing that you intend to abandon the women to their fate, and indeed they will be seized by force as soon as the last soldier (and yourself) leave town. Your decision will doubtless go into the history books. What do you say?

  • Clark

    Abe Rene,

    me? I don’t know. That’s why I fix computers, and I’m not a diplomat. I suppose I’d ask a spin-doctor. I mean, I couldn’t say, “well, we’re sorry, but we just can’t continue landing missiles and drone attacks upon wedding parties”.

    What I’d *like* to say is “We’re handing matters over to the Middle Eastern peace keeping forces”. Do you have a suggestion?

  • Abe Rene

    Clark: A few ideas. I would want to tackle corruption, because that is one of the reasons that the Taleban have been able to prosper. I would want to establish the rule of law against the Taleban, and that would mean equipping communities to defend themselves, to prevent their return. A network of shelters with provision for asylum for ill-rreated women and minorities. A vigorous move to restore the relatively secular culture of the 1970s before the Taleban including having sectarian provisions such as sharia removed from the Constitution.

    As for the hypothetical problem I gave you: I would give the women either protection or the promise of asylum, and have the inlaws prosecuted, with severe punishment for anyone mistreating brides. That would need a well-trained and equipped police force.

  • Ruth

    The story about the 18-year-old Afghan woman who had had her ears and nose cut off by her husband is most difinitely horrific but I think the motive to give this story such prominence is worse. For surely its purpose is to extend the war in Afganistan – a continuing war in which totally innocent people and children have had and will have bits blown off including noses and ears.

    To me the obvious manipulation of the media by the state to highlight such incidences is sheer hypocrisy. The media is now drawing attention the complicity of the UK government in torture but the media doesn’t touch the mental torture of people such as Roderick Russell or the entirely innocent people imprisoned by the state to hide its role in removing revenue drawn from excise and carousel frauds from the country.

  • Abe Rene

    Correction: The article about the brutalised Afghan woman was in TIME magazine, not the Sunday Times – apologies. I don’t see the story as manipulation by rhe state so much as a human rights abuse news story.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Clark, excellently put. Ruth, great points, as always. Abe, you’ve made a very crucial point and your post of 353pm on 1.8.10 is an excellent one. I don’t think any of us have ‘the answer’. I don’t think there is ‘an answer’ now. It’s too complex for that.

    Here’s an article which focusses on Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan, but which calls for organising the people. This cannot really be done by NATO, though. It can only be done by the people themselves and rational political movements which develop from the grassroots. The Pashtun province of Pakistan – the formerly-named NWFP – voted for a secular Leftist Party at the last election; they voted the Taliban-sympathetic previous party out, by a big majority. The Taliban then started to behead school-teachers, etc.

    However, Afghanistan is so far behind even Pakistan, it’s hard to see where that organising will come from. Iran was a different situation because the literacy rate was much higher, the Revolution was undertaken by a combination of Leftists, liberals and Islamists and because, when the Revolution happened in 1978-9, Iranian society had not been destroyed by 30+ years of war. But perhaps there are enough of such people; I don’t know enough about the interior politics of the country to know. I’m suspicious of NGOs, which too often, willingly or unwittingly and in spite of the best intentions of the people on the ground, end up serving as modules of neocolonialism. But there are 60 female members of Afghanistan’s parliament – at least that might be the start of possibilities for change – one shudders to think what’ll happen to them.

    I don’t think that NATO armies can bring peace or stability, though. Did the USSR bring peace and stability? No. Did the USA? No. I wish the USSR and USA had left the people alone to sort things out – it was a Monarchy then a Republic, the Marxists should never have had a coup and then called in the USSR; it would’ve got there, eventually. Instead of which, it’s been 30+ years of blood.


  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    It is all too easy in my view to focus on ‘the evils’ that occur in a particular society when making the decisions you suggest. For example in making a decision to create a national identity database, should we focus on the extraordinary level of sexual abuse of children in Western society, the elements of which are only recently reaching into our everyday conciousness, propelled by the revelations of such abuse present in our own religious organisations.

    The answer in my opinion is definitely no, we should look deeper into our own culture and the cumulative affects on children and adults alike. In Iran for instance the abuse of children compared to the West is minuscule.

    This method of applying a deeper understanding can also be implemented in our engagement with the Taleban, a Sunni Islamist political movement that governed Afghanistan from 1996 until it was overthrown in late 2001 and slowly regained strength because of our preoccupation with Iraq and her indigenous resources.

    We know the the Sunni Islamist movement seeks cultural differentiation from the West and reconnection with the pre-colonial symbolic universe.

    It has recently seen France, Germany and in fact the bulk of EU as having swung into line with the most unilateralist and least universalist positions of the Israeli?”American axis.

    This of course is the problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “The ‘Jerusalem Plan’, which, after a remarkable joint effort by senior European diplomats was mysteriously declared ‘null and void'”

    (McGreal, 2005).

    “Europe’s credibility in the region was further eroded by the provisions that regulated the withdrawal of European observers from the prison of Jericho (March 2006), which, in breach of international law, provided the Israeli army with access to the precinct. This ultimately led to the cancellation of the speech of Mahmoud Abbas before the EU Parliament. In the eyes of the great majority of Arabs, the most notable ?” and symbolically the most damaging ?” of the Union’s responses has been the withdrawal of budgetary support from the government of the Palestinian Authority.”

    “This is all the more telling as this support was offered in the course of the very election campaign that Brussels and Strasburg supervised and unreservedly approved as the model of democracy in the Arab world.”

    (Milton-Edwards, 2007, p. 308).

    Tarja Halounen, EU President in 2006 expressed this deep resentment rather succinctly:

    “You only help Israel! All the European officials who have visited the region have evoked the release of the three prisoners held by Hezbollah or Hamas. But not one has evoked [.] the five hundred women and children incarcerated in Israeli prisons. Up till now, not one single European has demanded their liberation, neither theirs, nor that of any of the other prisoners. Is the European Union then concerned only with the Israelis?”

    So the scales are swung down heavily on the Western side. While we are busy murdering civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel continues to bomb Gaza out of existence and refuses to stop building on Palestinian land.

    The inexorable push to obliterate Iran continues with the recent passage of a vote signalled by Vice President Joe Biden that the United States would not intervene to stop Iran from launching a “pre-emptive” attack on Israel as reported yesterday by the New York Times.

    This continued aggression and loss of innocent lives, will, without doubt, create a world for our youngsters of tribal warfare, terrorism, police states, communication black-outs, interrogations and imprisonment on a massive scale and riots and demonstrations as ordinary folk realise that a controlling machine has manifested itself in a conglomerate of killer drone infested security mechanisms, state control of travel and curfews with a tank or machine gun post on every British and American street corner.

    That is the reality if we continue on this path of destruction without the courage to settle the Middle-East dispute once and forever.

  • Clark


    I don’t see this as straight forward manipulation of the news media by the state. There are also plenty of examples of manipulation of the state by the news media. I agree with Noam Chomsky’s ‘Propaganda Model’ of the media; the media consists of big corporations, with their own agenda, which sometimes coincides with the agendas of states, and sometimes not.

    The ‘Propaganda Model’ is that the media are corporations selling a product to a market. The product is audiences, and the market are advertisers, because media make more from advertising than from sales to readers or viewers.

    You can see how war fits in here; it gives the media news, to attract audiences.

    You’ve been researching excise and carousel fraud for some time now; if you post some links I’d be interested to take a look.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    And to contrast with the likes of Nadeem Paracha, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, etc., here is an example of someone who, allegedly, has been described as essentially a puppet journalist. In his case, the puppeteer is the SIS. Ah, he has blog too! He’s a pal of Dr Liam Fox, yes that figures. Almost every ‘headline’ on his blog seems almost embarrassingly to represent what one senses very strongly is simply current thinking in the SIS:


  • Roderick Russell

    Clark and Ruth – On Press Censorship

    I thought that Noam Chomsky’s explanation was that the media will follow the establishment line wherever the establishment has a broad consensus ?” and that a small highly placed group of elites in the establishment is such a consensus on its own, if there is no opposition. Former Sunday Times Editor Harold Evans further explains this apparent censorship in his book “the paper chase” saying that, when it comes to the establishment, the UK Press, that he describes as being only “half-free”, has a history of “Reservatio mentalis” (closing ones mind to unpleasant truths) “to make obedience easier”.

    But it’s not just the establishment on their own who censor our press. The real dab hands at censoring the press are the intelligence services. In British Journalism Review Vol. 11, No. 2, 2000, Mr. David Leigh of the Guardian wrote – “journalists are being manipulated by the secret intelligence agencies, and I think we ought to try and put a stop to it.” Indeed the example of the persecution of Mr. Denis Lahane by the intelligence services that we previously referred to suggests to me just quite how strong this censorship and control by MI5 / MI6 is. After all, Mr. Lahane was an award winning journalist; yet it seems that the press couldn’t even protect one of their own.

    Just sticking with The Guardian. . In 2002, they reported on famous publicist Max Clifford, under the headline: “Journalism is bloody horrible”, quoting him saying — “I censor things as well,”… . “For every story I break, I stop a dozen” … “I’m good at covering up anything I don’t want people to know”.

    So whether it’s through a publicist, the intelligence services, or just elites within the establishment – our press is all too easily censored by those who have the power or influence. One cannot blame those whose job it to censor the media because they are good at what they do; rather one should ask whether or not our media serves the public interest in being so easily manipulated. Whatever happened to investigative journalism?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Apparently, there is a Pakistani ISI fan-page (!!) on Facebook, entitled ‘Hijazi’ or ‘Mr Hijazi’, or ‘Mr H’. I searched for this, but was unable to find it. The ISI allegedly post propagandistic items through this page. How very odd. Can anyone find it? Can you imagine…?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Here’s the wikipedia page on the ISI: an intriguing history, as one might expect.

    One notes that the current Chief of Staff, General Kayani was previously Chief of the ISI. It works very efficiently, unlike, for example, the supply of electricity and water (the latter, in Karachi, allegedly is controlled by organised criminal interests linked to various political parties) to the major cities.

    One notes the comments on NGOs and multinationals as being ideal cover for ISI postings. There is no reason to expect that similar dynamics would not also apply to the CIA and also to our very own beloved acronym’d ‘service’, the SIS.


  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    ‘one senses very strongly is simply current thinking in the SIS’

    Yes, Coughlin was supplied info by MI6 who were entwined with an assassination attempt on Gaddafi until they realised he might be useful to frame – his latest book, ‘Khomeini’s Ghost’ is full of facts taken out of context, something that he is particularly good at!

    His pathetic effort at blaming British judges for applying the rule of law to tortured so called ‘terrorists’ such as Binyam Mohamed makes me sick.


    Con Coughlin was responsible for the story that China Helps Iran to Make Nerve Gas,” The London Daily Telegraph, May 24, 1998 – absolute bollocks and another SIS strand to condemn Iran. Phosphorus pentasulfide is an unregulated pesticide and not a CWC controlled substance.

    I believe Coughlin is paid to produce propaganda against Iran as a prelude to invasion which of course needs a modicum of public approval.

  • somebody

    Hillary: ‘Hi is that you Ted? I need your help. We’re losing it bigtime in that pit Afghanistan and now that weirdo Assange is butting in. We need something good and make it big. Find a pretty woman that the Taliban have mutilated and get it on the front of Time or somewhere where it will get noticed. Thanks Ted. We owe you. Bill and I really look forward to having you at Chelsea’s big day on the 31st. See you then.’

    Clinton (State Dept) talking to Ted Turner (Time Warner)


  • Courtenay Barnett

    And Craig’s Uzbekistan is last but not least from this blog:-

    “How many murderous dictatorships has the US installed or supported?

    Let’s count.

    Country Dictator Dates Statistics

    Chile Gen. Augusto Pinochet 1973-1990 3000 murdered. 400,000 tortured.

    Argentina Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla 1976-1981 30,000 murdered. more

    Indonesia Suharto 1965 coup against left-leaning Sukarno,

    1975 support of East Timor genocide

    500,000 dead after 1965 coup; 100,000-230,000 dead in East Timor; more, more, more.

    Guatemala Armas, Fuentes, Montt 1954-

    Iran The Shah of Iran

    Ayatollah Khomeini was on the CIA payroll in the 1970s in Paris

    Egypt Sadat, Mubarak 1978-today

    Iraq Saddam Hussein

    Nicaragua Anastasio Somoza & sons 1937-1979

    Paraguay Stroessner. US supported throughout (state.gov says US has supported Paraguayan development since 1942) ($142M between 1962 and 1975) 1954-1989

    Bolivia Col. Hugo Banzer overthrew elected leftist president Juan Jose Torres 1970-

    Angola Jonas Savimbi/UNITA (didn’t actually win his revolution, but killed or displaced millions) 1975-1989

    Zaire Mobutu

    Saudi Arabia Saud family

    Kuwait a monarchy





    Panama Noriega was US-supported for years

    Haiti Papa Doc, Baby Doc

    Dominican Republic Trujillo, a military dictator for 32 years with US support for most of that time; Belaguer, Trujillo’s protege, installed after US Marines intervened to put down an attempt to restore the democratically elected government of Juan Bosch 1930-61, 1965-78


    El Salvador 1980s

    Nepal monarchy since 1948

    Cuba Fulgencio Batista pre-Castro

    Brazil Gen. Branco overthrew elected president Goulart with US support 1965-67

    Uzbekistan Kamirov “The Boiler”, $150M from the Bush administration for an air base. ”

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    I despair Courtenay – Yes, my bleak predictions may be construed as ‘a bit far-fetched, but are we in Britain also controlled by America? Are we compelled to replace Trident with more American hardware or go ‘shoulder to shoulder’ in the predicted strike on Iran?

    The end-game in Central Asia as Suhayl quite rightly ponders was described to me by Robin Cook as a continuation of the 19th century ‘Great Game’ with the stakes now including oil, strategic metals, pipelines, transit routes and access to markets. The stakes are obviously significantly higher and have led to Central Asia assuming military, geo-political, geo-economic and geo-strategic significance for two major blocs?”one led by the United States (NATO) and the other by China (Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as I have mentioned here a while back. USA and China want influence in the region with completely dissimilar interests.

    Western powers are obsessed they are not monopolized by Moscow or Beijing and will use military might, while, in parallel, trying to appease Russia and tempt her to draw away from Chinese influence and trade with Iran knowing she wants to control the distribution of energy including the vast hydro-power network in u will join me and fight to the end against such hegemony for it is certain that many others will rise against the superior powers in a massive world-wide surge of asymmetric warfare.

  • Clark

    Mark Golding,

    I’d like a T-shirt, if you get enough people to have a batch made. But I’d like “Wikileaks” printed on it too, in big typewriter script!

  • ingo

    Thanks, I shall decline the Wiki T shirt/mug/or personalised toothbrush in favour of any activities that go beyond chatting on centrally controlled electronic path.

    Have been to the most georgeous fair last week ‘Doune the rabbit hole’. Stunning scenery, almost no midgies, exceptional music and likemided people.

    Would have loved to have seen some of you there, eager to engage, without those who like to know everything.

    We knew who was attending the fair, including those two gentlemen who booked themselves into the red Lion pub for the weekend.

    With some luck this will happen again next year, see how much salt has been dragged of our sandwiches by then, lifestyles cramped enough by increasing fascist controll freakery to make some of you feel wanting.

    Take care

  • Clark


    I’m so disappointed that I couldn’t make it to Doune the Rabbit Hole. I was looking forward to meeting you, and engaging in that festival spirit which I haven’t experienced for years. Unfortunately, practical matters (money, time) got in the way. Do use my link to send me an e-mail; perhaps we can meet up some other time. I’m glad it was good and that you enjoyed it.

    Roderick Russell,

    you draw a distinction between the intelligence services and the state; I think that is right; there are multiple influences. But the interests of money and power tend to converge – against openness and, to an extent, honesty.

    I say “to an extent”, because it is in their interests that the news media is broadly trusted, so there tends to be omission, distortion, manipulation of emphasis, and ‘spin’ rather than outright lies.

    Mark Golding,

    if there’s a piece of instrumentation I’d like, it would be a ‘Fake vs. Genuine Attack-Upon-Iran Discriminator’! For so many years an attack upon Iran has seemed imminent; the US/Israeli military movements around Iran seem to continue constantly. Any suggestions?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    No instrumentation exists except word of mouth here:

    [email protected]

    Write to Mohammad Khoshnevisan and he will advise you of any intelligence that exists that may suggest a move to attack Iran. The latest move is an attempt to provoke aggression from Iran towards the US/Israeli build-up in the Persian Gulf. An Israeli submarine could easily strike an ’empty’ US ship – I would not rule out a deceptive false-flag attempt to ignite war – BE WARNED!

  • ingo

    Thanks Mark for that little snippet, the noises seem set to wratched up this futile attempt to destroy our childrens future.

    No worries Clark, there’s always another time, shall send you an email report on how nice it was…

  • glenn


    – Compound alert –


    Kim Sengupta, reporting from Afghanistan, uses the term no less than three times in today’s Independent. ‘Compound’ is used in place of any alternative term to describe a dwelling throughout.

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