Monthly archives: October 2010

I Decide To Join the Establishment

Somebody posted two parcel bombs. Grave threat to western civilisation. Our basic principles are at stake. They hate our freedoms. Biggest threat since World War 2. Islam incompatible with democracy. Yemen is the new Afghanistan. Eternal vigilance needed. More tanks required at airports. Fighter plane escort for passenger planes is a rational answer to parcel bombs. NATO may need to invade Somalia. Torture in Saudi Arabia vindicated by this tip off. Israel is our stoutest ally.

Will that do? Where do I get the money?

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The Courier Bomb – Curiouser and Curiouser

Hmmm. Not only did the Saudi secret service have the precise details of the bomb packages, the female alleged terrorist in Sanaa gave her phone number to the courier company. As all ultra dangerous highly trained al-Qaidah operatives are obviously taught to do.

Meanwhile David Cameron ups the 9/11 hype by saying the bombs might have been detonated on the plane. Well certainly, they might. Except that, given the parcels changed cargo planes three times, it would be difficult to know when they were on a plane and where. And why then address them to Jewish organisations in Chicago, which might arouse suspicion coming from Sanaa, rather than a fictitious uncle or a mail order curtain company?

I still think this probably was another half-arsed terrorist attempt, like the liquid bomb plot or the man who set fire to his gonads. Super dangerous and deserving all the hype it plainly was not.

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Workaday Terrorism

Let us assume for a moment that the parcel bombs sent to Jewish targets in Chicago were viable devices and this was a real attack by anti-Jewish, and probably Islamic, terrorists. There are other possible explanations, but it is not improbable this was a real attempted attack.

We are looking at low level, workaday terrorism. Parcel bombs were not infrequent in the UK in my youth, and the Unabomber caused extraordinary levels of alarm in the United States. Any loss of life is deplorable, but the scale of this threat appears to have been small.

It is hard to believe that a parcel bomb would have killed more than a couple of people – there have been a large number of parcel bombs used over decades, and they do not cause mass casualties. Now two or three dead or injured people is too many, but the worldwide media coverage is completely disproportionate to the threat – if they covered every two or three actually, not potentially, dead Afghans in this depth, they would never cover anything else.

It is of course possible that the media coverage was the aim rather than two or three unfortunate people in Chicago. The easy and extremely detailed tip off from the Saudi security services is very interesting. If publicity rather than death was the aim, that rather widens the field of people who might have been behind it.

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Lib Dem Ministers Complicit in Torture

Nothing has changed. Under the Lib/Con coalition, MI6 continue to receive intelligence obtained through torture abroad, and Lib Dem ministers will be seeing intelligence obtained from hellish torture chambers in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and numerous other capitals.

That was plain from yesterday’s speech by MI6 head John Sawers – despite the near unanimous complicity of the mainstream media in forwarding the smokescreen of anti-torture spin.

But it is a thin smokescreen indeed. These are Sawers’ key words:

“Suppose we received credible intelligence that might save lives, here or abroad. We have a professional and moral duty to act on it. We will normally want to share it with those who can save those lives.”

Sir John said the UK’s security service had a duty to ensure any partner service would respect human rights but admitted this was “not always straightforward”.

He said: “Yet if we hold back and don’t pass that intelligence, out of concern that a suspect terrorist may be badly treated, innocent lives may be lost that we could have saved.

“These are not abstract questions just for philosophy courses or searching editorials, they are real, constant operational dilemmas. Sometimes there is no clear way forward. The more finely-balanced judgments have to be made by ministers themselves.”

Now parse that very carefully. It says we do receive intelligence from torture, and we know we do. It says this happens all the time – “real constant

operational dilemmas” – and that the decisions to receive intelligence from torture have specifically been approved by ministers. That means Lib Dem ministers are complicit in this policy.

As a former member of the FCO senior management structure I can tell you for certain that Sawers’ speech will have been cleared with William Hague and with Jeremy Browne, the Lib Dem so-called human rights minister, who as I pointed out just yesterday made a speech on foreign policy to the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool devoid of any liberal sentiment and almost devoid of any reference to human rights.

The policy of obtaining – constantly, as John Sawers says – intelligence from torture abroad is precisely the same as that I protested about under New Labour, which protest led to the end of my career. Everything in the documents I have published is precisely consistent with the policy Sawers enumerates now.

The truth about torture is poor Mr Avazov, who was boiied alive (quite literally) in the Jaslyk torture chambers in Uzbekistan.


It is the old man I met who had his children tortured before his eyes until he admitted false family ties with al-Qaida. It is the woman raped with the broken bottle, It is the lady who lived opposite me whose father was blinded as a political prisoner, and who was held down while a truck was run over her legs. All of that and thousands more did not stop the government, despite my profound objections as Ambassador, from accepting intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers via the CIA.

John Sawers relies on the “ticking bomb” fallacy – the idea that torture happens to real terrorists and they give precise timely information to avert an imminent threat. That is a Hollywood scenario. There has never ever been a real life example that meets the ticking bomb cliche.

We encourage torture, we create a market for it, by accepting its fruits. The regimes who pass us this intelligence know we accept it, and they feel supported and reinforced in their abuse of human rights. Why would they take Western rhetoric seriously on human rights when they know we lap up the products of their torture chamber?

Remember the torturers are not altruists but agents of very nasty regimes. The information passed to us by those regimes is not for our good, but for the good of those regimes – and normally to convince us that the opponents of those regimes are all terrorists, whether true or not. In Uzbekistan, every bit of intelligence we could verify from the Embassy, eg on terrorist training camps in named locations in the hills, turned out to be untrue. Yet the intelligence services lapped up the Uzbek information because it greatly exaggerated the strength of al-Qaida in Central Asia, thus providing a spurious justification for our support of Central Asian dictators, whose help we wanted for our Afghan policy and for access to their hydrocarbons.

Torture does not get you the truth. It gets you what the torturer wants to hear. People will say anything, as their arm is held in boiling liquid, to make the pain stop. The regimes who do this do not hold truth as a high priority.

The torture material regularly received by the UK government is from countries where the vast, overwhelming majority of the people tortured are not terrorists at all but merely dissidents from abhorrent regimes. I speak from first hand knowledge.

Sawers sets up a number of Aunt Sallies. We do not torture ourselves or ask for people to be tortured. We do not hand people over to be tortured – but he omits to mention that the CIA, who share all intelligence with MI6, do. His speech is ridden with hypocrisy and should be deplored.

I was most happy to have had the chance to speak in the Lib Dem conference debate on UK complicity in torture. If Jeremy Browne had an honest bone in his pusillanimous body, given the policy he is following in office, he and other Lib Dem Minsters would have opposed the motion. Instead they are pursuing a directly opposite policy hidden behind precisely the same obfuscations used by New Labour.

I accuse Nick Clegg of complicity in torture. I am beginning to wonder whether the man has any connection to liberalism at all.

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Russia and Afghanistan

My major theme recently has been the “Northern Distribution Network” for NATO supply to Afghanistan, and the fact that dependence on this has entailed a conscious decision to support actively the dictatorships of Central Asia, including President Karimov of Uzbekistan.

It also of course requires close cooperation with Russia. A Jonathan Steele points out in the Guardian, the Russian help for NATO in Afghanistan is not exactly news,. In fact, transit of supplies is more valuable than the more eye-catching helicopters for the Polish contingent or Russian training for Afghan troops. Russian denials of the possibility of more direct Russian involvement do not obscure the fact they are already doing a lot.

There is another reason this Russian support is not surprising, apart from the Obama/Putin rapprochement (Medvedev is emphatically not the organ grinder).

The truth is that the NATO occupation of Afghanistan has turned into a near exact reply of the Soviet occupation. I was thinking of my good Uzbek friend in Tashkent, who had been the number two in the KGB in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

The misnamed “Afghan National Army is over 70% Tajik and Uzbek in composition. These were the allies of the Soviets and continued under Nazbullah to fight the Taliban. The Soviet army itself of course used soldiers from the Uzbek and Tajik Soviet Socialist Republics extensively in Afghanistan. NATO is now using the same regime elites for its logistics, and the same tribes and families who supported the Soviets within Afghanistan as allies.

In the wider diplomacy, all of this relates also the NATO’s exit strategy. In effect, they are accepting that undemocratic Soviet styled regimes as in Uzbekistan – and I would argue Russia – are the best way to deal with the fact that the populations of the Caucasus and Central Asia are Muslim. They are hoping for a hardline secular regime backed by its “Northern neighbours”.

I attended the Lib Dem annual conference in Liverpool where one deep disappointment was the speech by Jeremy Browne MP, junior foreign office minister with a specific brief for human rights. There was a single cursory mention of human rights in Jeremy Browne’s speech. Indeed I am not sure there was a single thought expressed in Jeremy Browne’s entire speech which was identifiably liberal. He could have been New Labour or Conservative as he dully expounded the view that protecting this country from the terrorist threat was our number one foregin policy objective, and then hammered on about the need to “win” the war in Afghanistan. It was a speech John Reid or David Blunkett could happily have made. And he went out of his way – in a speech evidently prepared by FCO officials – to note the need to include Afghanistan’s “northern neighbours” in an Afghan settlement.

So frredom and democracy for Central Asia are completely off the agenda. What is on the agenda is an acceptance of the regime propaganda that there are no alternatives but rapacious dictatorships and Islamic fundamentalism. That kind of false dichotomy is sustenance to the armaments and securityindustry interests that dominate our foreign policy and control our politicians.

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Dandelion Salad on the Sam Adams Award

Quite a few internet articles have popped up, although absolutely nothing in the mainstream media. Here is one from Dandelion Salad:

Which leads me to an interesting observation. The Wikileaks press conference was attended by at least 30 TV crews and hundreds of journalists, from all over the world. But I did not see any other high profile bloggers there. Given that Wikileaks is in itself a prime example of the way that new media can get the truth out as mainstream media can’t, that was peculiar. Did Wikileaks not invite any bloggers?

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Sky News Exclusive – Inside the World of the Taliban Sandbank Squads


MOD sources have revealed exclusively to Sky that the Taliban attack on HMS Astute could have been “Bigger Than 9/11”. As Sky correspondent Adam Ramsay was told exclusively by Taliban commander Hilal-al-Wemadeituppy, a crack Taliban team planted the Improvised Sandbank Device that almost destroyed HMS Astute on Friday.


HMS Astute Disabled By Deadly Taliban ISD Attack

Now MOD and security service sources have told Sky security correspondent Oswald Moseley that this attack was potentially “Bigger than 9/11”. This is the 435th such potentially bigger than 9/11 attack since 9/11.

Sky can exclusively reveal that, if the contact with the Improvised Sandbank Device or ISD had caused an explosion in the nuclear reactor on board HMS Astute, it could have wiped out the two hundred million people living on the North West Coast of Scotland.

John Reid, former Home Secretary, told Sky News that this was evidence that the Islamic threat was now potentially more destructive than a full scale nuclear war with China.


Lord Blair, formerly Head of the Metropolitan police, believes that Britian must now strengthen anti-terrorism legislation and re-open investigations into thousands of Muslims who have been searched or arrested and released.

“IIn the past we have concentrated on looking for potential bomb ingredients like sugar or domestos. We now realise that many suspected terrorist houses, where insufficient evidence could be found for a prosecution, in fact contained sand. This was often found in the garden. It was very often cunningly disguised as a playpit. All reasonable people must deplore the use of children as a front for terrorism. We believe that sand may also have been cunningly incorporated into the very fabric of some of these homes.”

Sky News can exclusively reveal that Lord Blair’s remarks have reopened debate on the vexed question of Detention Without Charge. Top security analyst Rupert Mussolini believes that the sandbank threat proves suspects should be detained for much longer periods to give the police time to think up a ludicrous pretext. “If you are going to bang people up without reason for 28 days, why not 196?” he asks.


In the past, it has been revealed exclusively by Sky News that Muslims engaged in any form of sport or outdoor activity, such as skiing or white water rafting, are actually engaged in Al-Qaida team building exercises. Only now do we realise the full extent of such activity in intensive training camps actually here in the UK to give secret training in the preparation of Improvised Sandbank Devices (ISDs).


Deadly Sandbank Training


Military historian Andrew Mengele has explained exclusively to Sky News that Muslims would be incapable of thinking up a tactic like the Impovised Sandbank Device (ISD) for themselves, but were taught it by the British.

Dr Mengele explained “Many military historians like myself beliive that the Improvised Sandbank Device, or ISD as we military historians call it, was intoduced into Islamic culture by that great master tactician of guerilla warfare, Lawrence of Arabia”.


Lawrence of Arabia With Prototype Sandbank


In an interesting twist, Sky’s Northern Ireland correspondent John Knoxkingbilly can exclusively reveal to Sky viewers that the security services in Northern Ireland believe that the ISD provides further evidence of tactical and ideological linkages between al-Qaida and the IRA.


The Riddle of the Sands

There is, apparently, no end to the fanaticism of the Taliban menace, of which the Improvised Sandbank Device is but the latest manifestation of an infinite threat. In the chilling words of Taliban Commander Hilal-al-Wemadeituppy, talking exclusively to our Chief Correspondent Adam Ramsay, “We will fight them with the beaches, Inshallah”.

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My Russia Today Interview on Wikileaks

As usual I did numerous interviews today for international media but was invited to none at all for the British media. Sky News have just farcically had a spokesman for the ultra-right Henry Jackson Foundation and a US army Colonel “debating” the Wikileaks release and both condemning it.

Anyway here is a piece I did for Russia Today. As you can probably tell, my earpiece was giving problems and I didn’t actually hear the first few questions!


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Julian Assange and Those Wikileaks Iraq Documents

I had the great pleasure today to present the Sam Adams Award for Integrity to Julian Assange at the big Wikileaks press conference in London.

I fear I did not do this very well. In fact I was merely trying to pass the award to Dan Ellsberg to present at the end of his talk, when he introduced me to make the presentation. I felt pretty shy at holding up a press conference being seen around the world, so I virtually threw the award candlestick at Julian and got off. The consequence of my lack of composure was that few people realised who I was or what had just been given.

Those who watched the full press conference on Sky or BBC red button will have seen me. Nadira said it just looked like some nutter had got up from the audience to give Julian a present. Oh well.

As for the Wikileaks document, the relentless detail of casual and routine torture and murder is chilling. But what I find most shocking is the fact that the military did in fact keep detailed and careful count of many tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq – some 70,000 are detailed. Yet all the time it was claimed, again and again and again from Blair and Bush down, that there were no official figures on civilian deaths and no estimates could be given.

If there had been a tiny bit of honesty in the official version of events, there might be some reason to consider the British and American government’s claims that British and American troops are put at risk because people know the truth.

This does not put soldiers lives at risk. What it puts at risk is the reputation of lying politicians and bureaucrats who send soldiers to their deaths.

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HMS Astute Tested For Use in Afghanistan

But Navy concludes it works better in water.


Top Taliban commanders tell Sky News sandbank was funded by Al-Qaida contributions from UK mosques.

“We will place sandbanks in every country” says man with face in scarf we paid a tenner.

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British Embassy Tashkent Refuses to Speak to Uzbek Opposition – or to Me!

British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Rupert Joy is vocal and effusive in his praises of the Uzbek regime. But he has gone all coy and refused to answer any questions from leading Uzbek journalist Galima Burkabaeva about his starring appearance at dictator’s daughter Gulnara Karimova’s Tashkent Fashion TV extravaganza.


Galima put the same questions to me as to Rupert Joy. This article is based on my responses, and also notes that Rupert Joy refused to comment.

As the article also states, the Embassy’s Third Secretary, Richard Pike, gave a formal response to Galima stating that the Ambassador’s views had been explained in full at the fashion event – but unfortunately the Embassy could not provide a text or summary of what he had said!

So I emailed Richard Pike and Rupert Joy and asked, very politely indeed, whether they could point me to any public statements by Rupert Joy on human rights in Uzbekistan or on forced and child labour in the cotton industry. I have not received any reply at all.

Now I am a British taxpayer and perfectly entitled to ask a civil question about public statements and expect a reply. I am also the author of a widely read blog and entitled to expect answers from public servants for my readers.

It seems that unless you are a dictator given to imprisoning tens of thousands of prisoners and torturing hundreds to death, the British Embassy in Tashkent is not very interested in you. You may have more look in getting a response than I. Try [email protected] and [email protected].

The root cause of our government’s adoration of Karimov remains the war in Afghanistan. I was trying to avoid comment on Sky’s absurdly theatrical outings with some low level Taliban resistance personnel encouraged into silly bragging. But Iain Dale’s hysterical reaction spurs me into action.

In fact there were two genuine nuggets in the coverage which Sky News failed to pick up on at all in their fervour to promote the war agenda. An elder stated in terms that it was difficult to persuade people to lay down arms when civilian relatives were killed by coalition forces. It was also stated that young children were attracted to the Taliban when they saw coalition forces come into their villages. It was further repeatedly stated as a greivance that the Kabul government was corrupt.

Sky journalists simply ignored this vital information about the causes of resistance, and instead directed us towards funding from the UK of the “Taliban”, and theatrics about hiding an IED in a culvert, which was hardly news – we had not been under the impression they were suspended from hot air balloons. Sky allowed the talentless thug Liam Fox to witter endless nonsense about imposing the writ of the”democratic” government of President Karzai, without any journalist mentioning election fraud or pointing out to Fox that we had just seen repeated evidence that a primary grievance of the villagers was the corruption of the Karzai government.

The point is not about treason in the UK. It is about our occupying a country where the population do not want us.


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New Kid on the Blog

No apologies for this 9 day old link. A new blog by somebody who has been one of my closest friends for the last 33 years – and an excellent article on tuition fees. As he says, the rebels are the Lib Dem ministers going against party policy. I see he hasn’t blogged since, so please give him some comments to welcome him to the blogging world!

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The Left’s Irrational Addiction to High Public Spending

There is no correlation between high public spending and social and economic equality.

I favour much greater redistribution of both income and capital than allowed by the current political consensus in the UK. But I also favour much greater cuts in public spending – perhaps four times greater, over a decade – than Osborne just delivered. The two are not incompatible.

Under New Labour there was a massive step change in levels of public spending and in the percentage of GDP comprised of state activity. Did social equality improve? No. The wealth gap between the wealthiest and the poorest yawned wider and wider. Even in the public sector itself, the gap between richest and poorest grew until it is now seriously proposed, with a straight face, that the situation be redressed so that the highest paid executive in a public organisation should only (!) be paid twenty times more than the lowest paid employee.

Blairism should have shattered forever the notion that very high levels of public spending are the answer to social inequality. But it is a notion to which the left is addicted.

I favour redistribution because Sir Fred Goodwin, Wayne Rooney and Tony Blair area perfect reductio ad absurdumof the notion that a system that rewards the ability to grab money in a laissez faire manner has desirable results. The Duke of Westminster does the same for accumulated capital. I also truly hate the pvoerty in which so many good people are trapped. But the notion that Britain’s vastly over-inflated bureaucracies address this problem is tenuous, to say the least.

I also believe that it is not coincidental that New Labour’s huge physical increase in the state coincided with a massive erosion of civil liberty.

So I view those protesting against cuts in public spending as well-motivated but trapped in a historical accumulation of palliative devices which each attracted a massive superstructire of self-interested providers and administrators.

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Not So Radical Spending Cuts

The Comprehansive Spending Review announced today is designed to bring public spending back to the same level in real terms that it was in 2006/2007.

I am going to write that again.

The Comprehansive Spending Review announced today is designed to bring public spending back to the same level in real terms that it was in 2006/2007.

It is not radical. It is not nearly radical enough. The state sector is much.much too large in this country. We could have a much smaller public sector which at the same time was much more effective at wealth redistribution. 500,000 public sector job cuts hardly scratches the surface of needed reductions in our ludicrous bureaucracies. The Pivate Finance Initiative, Internal Market mechanisms, feee nd academy schools and their hordes of accountatns and administrators should all go and be replaced bysimple direct provision of necessary services. Local incometax should fun over half of public spending, decided upon and provided close to the point of delivery. Andthe UK should be broken up anyway.

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Rooney’s Gold

Not merely just a bit thick, Wayne Rooney is actually a really nasty piece of work, and his personal milieu is one of gangsters in the literal, criminal sense of the word. It is five years since my friend John Sweeney told me this,and he this year published the well researched Rooney’s Gold. Even after vetting by libel lawyers it is a horribly seedy tale.

Much kudos to Iain Dale for publishing it, after libel lawyers scared off big publishers. I don’t think any Manchester United fans will have bought it – they should now, and be happy the ugly shit is going.

I was very proud at the passion and guts Scotland showed in their 2-3 defeat by Spain – a feeling of pride in the team’s spirit English fans have not known for years. Read Rooney’s Gold and you will see why top flight English foorball will never be linked to noble endeavour again.

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A Defence Review

The defence review is admitting the bleeding obvious – that there is no real danger of armed invasion of the UK, and that terrorism does not pose an “existential threat” to the UK and our way of life. That is a real advance, because Blair, Reid and Blunkett were determined to convince us that it was an existential threat, “on the scale of the Second World War” as Reid once ludicrously opined of a menace that killed under 70 people inthe UK. What did become a threat to our way of life was New Labour’s hyping of that threat to impose unprecedented authoritarianism.

By contrast the current review is almost rational. Everyone seems very pleased at the highlighting of cyber attack, though I tend to think this too is ramped up a la swine flu. But at least nobody is suggesting drone attacks on weddings to take out laptops – at least yet. I like the whole Dr Who sound of “Cyber attack”. We should prioritise Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in defence spending (sorry, that will mean nothing to anyone under 50. I was 52 on Sunday).

But do not expect any further rationality. Trident missiles are no use against any actual threat, but we will be told we still need them, in reality because they make British politicians feel they are more powerful and important than German and Japanese ones.

The aircraft carriers are important to our ability to support US invasions abroad.They have no other purpose. The big question so far ducked is whether we have abandoned the disastrous “Blair doctrine” of liberal interventionism. or bombing foreigners to make them better people. The unspoken presumption isthat we are still maintaining this option.

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The Poison From Afghanistan

Foreign policy is a nexus of issues and relationships.. Once you get an important issue seriously wrong, it has ramifications across the whole. A seriously misguided enterprise like the occupation of Afghanistan spreads its poison across whole areas of foreign policy.

Only one such consequence, but a very bad one, is British support for the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian dictatorships. This is based on our “need” for Uzbekistan as a transit route for supplies to Afghanistan.

I had already noted the extraordinary enthusiasm of the current British Ambassador for promoting the Uzbek regime and apologising for past “misunderstandings” over Uzbekistan’s political system.

Now Joy is actively promoting Gulnara Karimova’s activities in the world of Fashion TV. That Chopard and Prado are shallow enough to be gulled by Gulnara’s billions is par for the course. For the British Ambassador to flank her at a press conference for her fashion show is unforgivable.

Note that the headline “British Diplomats Toadying to Uzbek Dictator’s Daughter” was written by Uzbeks, not by me.

The policy of backing dictators is in my view wrong in principle. But even in terms of realpolitik, it depends on a judgement of whether you believe extreme repression in Uzbekistan stops or increases the prospect of Islamic extremist violence. I think extreme regimes spawn violence and instability. The British government now has its money firmly on the dictator.

The real motivation is short term support for military occupation of Afghanistan. The Northern supply route, or “Northern Distribution Network” as the Pentagon calls it, is all important. I highly commend to you this extremely revealing report for the Center for Security and International Studies in the US.

Now the CSIS are bought and paid for cheerleaders for the Karimov regime and unquestioning supporters of the war in Afghanistan. They are extremely well connected in Washington and have excellent sources. This paper is a fairly definitive guide to the State Department view of Central Asia – and nowadays the FCO view of Central Asia is what the State Department tells them it is.

The CSIS position is reflected, for example, in the characterisation of the Andijan massacre as an “uprising”. Human rights and democracy are never mentioned as factors in the discussion of US relations with Uzbekistan. But nonetheless the paper does make some highly revealing statements:

The NDN was designed to provide redundancy to this critical Pakistan supply line and to help handle the surge of supplies associated with an increase of 21,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2009 and, with the recent announcement by the Obama administration, an additional 30,000 troops in 2010. This obvious need and vulnerability has placed the United States’ Afghanistan war resupply squarely in the hands of other nations….

The first misunderstanding concerned priorities and expectations. In the authoritarian regimes of Central Asia, the elite’s top national priority?”its overriding policy consideration?”is to maintain its hold on power. Additional considerations can and do exist, but they are necessarily secondary in the absence of democratic mechanisms for the orderly transfer of power. An attendant expectation is that international cooperation should strengthen the regime’s hold on power. At the very least, it cannot under any circumstances weaken it….

Crony capitalism and the enmeshment of ruling dynasties in moneymaking schemes mean that commercial shippers servicing the NDN are almost certain to be woven into the dense nexus of personal and state interests that characterize post-Soviet business.

This last is a very interesting admission. I have reported previously that Gulnara Karimova is making hundreds of millions of dollars from Pentagon supply contracts. Here you see it admitted, with a slight cover of academic coyness.

The core funding for the CSIS project is from Carnegie, and one of the authors, Andrew Kuchins, is a former director of the Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The CEIP this summer published a paper on much the same subject “written” by a certain “Professor” Gulnara Islamovna Karimova. Strangely Carnegie did not mention that she was the dictator’s daughter. The article in Gulnara’s name discusses supply to Afghanistan without mentioning her personal commercial interest in it. Yet again an example of the respectability the Washington establishment is trying to confer upon the Karimovs.

I gather that a visit by Hillary to visit Karimov is planned before the end of the year.

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Death of Linda Norgrove

There is no cause to doubt that the US killed Linda Norgrove accidentally. My sorrow for her and her family is the same as that I feel for the thousands of entirely innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilians killed in US airstrikes.

Nor do I diminsih the responsibility of her captors. But nonetheless, the most worrying point of thw whole incident is the lie propagated by NATO that she was killed by a suicide vest wearing captor.

The suicide vest is of course a potent symbol of Islamic fundamentalist violence, and by invoking it NATO were not only lying about who killed Norgrove, they were reinforcing the image of her captors as religious fanatics, as opposed to local tribesmen.

Most of the Afghan resistance consists of locals motivated by ethnic and cultural factors defending their own soil. The characterisation of them all as Taliban is a bit of propaganda bought wholesale by the media. These may have been local partisans, or just ransom seekers. They may have been hiding a motivation behind a religious facade. There is no evidence I am aware of that the hostage takers wished to die themselves. That is why the “Linda Norgrove killed by suicide vest” lie is key.

So it is very important that an inquiry establishes not just the truth about who killed Linda Norgrove, but whether there was a suicide vest at all anywhere in the incident. Fabric is seldom destroyed by explosion, rather shredded and partially burnt. If the suicide vest is a complete invention, that would be an outrageous lie by NATO.

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Sickening Lib Dem Weasel Words

I am not at the moment resigning from the LibDems over the tuition fees issue. But I have seldom in politics seens anything as nauseatingly insincere as this statement from the Liberal Democrats Federal Policy Committee.

Tonight, Wednesday October 13, the Federal Policy Committee of the Liberal Democrats held their regular meeting.

During the meeting they held a special session to discuss the latest announcements following the Browne Review.

In a statement following the meeting, the committee spokesperson said: “FPC confirms the Liberal Democrat party policy remains to phase out tuition fees.

“We are now in a coalition government and we will continue during the period of discussion and consultation to work with our coalition partners towards achieving a policy that meets our key concerns and is progressive

I am not going to deconstruct it because it makes me want to vomit. Over to you.

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NATO – What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing.

Hillary Clinton is concerned that defence cuts in the UK will jeopardise our ability to carry out our NATO obligations.

Now NATO was founded to defend the North Atlantic region against advances by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. The danger of armed invasion by Russia is now minimal, and it is all of 14 years since I had the pleasure of organising a deliciously extravagant, indeed decadent, British Embassy ball in the grand military building in Warsaw where the Pact was signed – an episode I have just been writing up for my next volume of memoirs, Romance Without Chopin.

If Russia wished to take over Europe now, they would just need to turn off the gas supply in winter. But the Russian elite have discovered much easier ways to lead a fantasy lifestyle.

So, with no threat to the North Atlantic, NATO is occupying Afghanistan and making contingency plans to invade Somalia and Yemen. If you take the view that organisations acquire self-interest and behave to maximise it, this makes sense as NATO will provoke more Islamic militancy by occupying Muslim lands, and NATO needs to posit an enemy to continue to exist.

The Secretary General of NATO is the really horrible Anders Fogh Rasmussen. As PM of Denmark he did a Tony Blair and knowingly lied to parliament over the content of intelligence reports on Iraqi WMD. He actively pursued the jailing of Major Frank Grevil for leaking that he had lied.

The fact that a reptile like Rasmussen is the Secretary General is itself a sign that something is rotten about NATO.

The government claims we cannot even afford any substantial public funding for the university tuition of our young people. For Hillary Clinton to opine that we need to spend still more on obscene weapons of destruction to support US invasions abroad – and the inextricably linked UK and US arms manufacturers – is pretty sick. Fascinating as well to see New Labour join in and attack the government from the right again.

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