Monthly archives: January 2011

Israeli Hubris

Israel’s unbelievably smug and callous “report” on the murderous attack on the Gaza aid convoy, showed again the State of Israel’s fundamentally racist view of which human beings are expendable. It also showed how little Israel is concerned about completing the alienation of the regional power, Turkey.

The Al Jazeera revelations of how desperately the Palestinian negotiators were trying to secure peace at almost any price, again showed the incredible hubris of the Israelis in turning it all down flat. If gaining all that they officially desire was not acceptable to the Israelis, then the true Israeli goal is indeed the genocide of the Palestinians.

But all that arrogance was predicated on the sense of security of having the American puppet Mubarak securing their back. Suddenly this morning the Israelis don’t look quite so clever, do they?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all those US taxpayer paid Abrams tanks deployed on the streets of Cairo, end up defending the Palestinians.

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Hard Times for the US

It is hard not to feel happy at the discomfiture of US hubris.

Not only is the most important US/Israeli client dictator in danger of overthrow in Egypt, the last remaining rationale of their Afghan policy is collapsing, with Russia moving in on the trans Afghan gas pipeline.

Interesting times.

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The EU – Less Ethical than Tesco or Wal-Mart!

Today the European Union hosts Karimov in Brussels, which will be used to promote Karimov in his dictatorship, while western journalists will be given no access to the visit in Brussels.

Here is a short piece I have written for the Independent. I was allowed only 400 words, so kept it simple on Afghanistan rather than also tried to explain regional hydrocarbon politics:

Today the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, will host an official visit by the Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov.

This may seem a peculiar thing for the European Union to do. Karimov is infamous for the massacre of over 700 demonstrators at Andijan in 2005, for the boiling alive of dissident Muzaffar Avazov in 2002, for some 10,000 political prisoners held in ex-Soviet gulags, for banning all Western media organisations and reporters, for the imprisonment in lunatic asylums of dissident journalists including his own nephew, for the jailing of HIV campaigners for corrupting public morals…

But I do have to add the vast wealth of the Karimov family compared to a deeply impoverished population, most of whom are forced into labour on state cotton plantations. More than a million children are removed from education every year, for periods varying from one week to three months, and forced to pick cotton by hand in dreadful and sometimes fatal conditions. This scandal of the cotton fields is so bad that retailers, including Tesco, Walmart and Marks & Spencer, have entirely voluntarily removed all Uzbek cotton content from their products sold, and put resources into audit provisions to make sure this sticks.

Yet the European Commission maintains there is insufficient evidence of forced child labour in Uzbekistan for EU trade sanctions ?” a straightforward lie, as anybody can discover in five minutes on the internet.

So why is the EU less moral than Tesco or Walmart? The answer is a single word ?” Afghanistan. Twenty per cent of supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan now transit Uzbekistan, and the figure has steadily been increasing as supplies through Pakistan are increasingly tenuous. Germany also has an airbase in Uzbekistan. What is in it for Karimov? Political backing for his dictatorship, and juicy Pentagon supply contracts routed through his daughter.

It is a prime example of the way our disastrous Afghan policy is not just failing in Afghanistan, but poisoning an entire nexus of foreign policy issues. The effect of that corrosion will be seen vividly in Brussels today. Uniquely, no journalists are allowed to accredit for today’s official visit. Only the official Commission and Uzbek government media will be allowed to take pictures, to be relayed to Uzbekistan’s endarkened population as more evidence that their infallible President bestrides the world stage.

The EU are making sure that it feels just like home for Karimov.

My position as British ambassador in Tashkent was highly uncomfortable. I cared about the human rights of ordinary Uzbeks, and I assure you that the British government didn’t.

I am sorry comments are still not open here yet while the site undergoes a complete rebuild on a new platform. But you can comment over at the indie.

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A Better Service Will Be Resumed

Very sorry that we can’t discuss and there have been so few posts of late. You will be glad to know that work is underway and finally we are moving to a new and better blog platform in a few days!

[ADMIN NOTE – Comments may be closed, even on recent entries, during this move.]

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Bliar and the Patsies

The Chilcot Inquiry was summed up for me ten minutes ago, when Tony Blair quoted an extraordinary passage – I believe from George Bush, but didn’t catch his attribution. The quote said that WMD were not things that had a physical existence, but rather existed in the minds of scientists who could create them, other than nuclear weapons, at very short notice.

This absurd expedition into metaphysical justification was greeted by Sir Roderic Lyne’s much vaunted forensic brain. Lyne commented:

“I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.”




It is absurd. Given that Blair had been issuing prophetic warnings against the Islamic menace which wants to kill hundreds of thousands, then the disconnect between the alleged lack of physical barriers to the creation of WMD, and the failure of terrorists to produce one in the decade of the “War on Terror”, is startling. Not to mention the need for delivery systems, which are hard to whip up in the kitchen.

What a farce. Another platform for Blair to spout his neo-con certainties of hate and bang the drum for war on Iran. In the first 90 seconds Blair had conflated Saddam Hussein and 9/11 and called for action – plainly meaning military action – against Iran. Meanwhile the establishment patsies look concerned and dance around small points, to give an air of spurious credibility to their pre-determined exoneration.

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The Laws of Physics Disproven

The passing of wood through glass is a remarkable feat. There are those who believe that royalty can perform miracles – there is a well developed cult around the vain and vicious Charles I, for example. It now appears that the presence of the future Charles III also has the ability to suspend the laws of physics.

The police have now issued extensive CCTV footage of the attack on the vehicle of Charles and Camilla on the fringes of the anti-tuition fee demonstrations, and the media have been replete with more nonsense about Camilla being poked with a stick. Yet of all the CCTV footage and numerous photographs, there is no evidence at all of this attack and all the images show the car windows to be closed – as they would be. One gets cracked but not holed.

There is in fact no evidence at all of any intent to harm the persons of the expensive royal layabouts, as opposed to discomfiting them and damaging their vehicle. It is fascinating that the media continually repeats the “Camilla attacked with a stick” line when it is so blatantly untrue. There appears to be a closing of ranks by the whole Establishment to perpetuate the myth – both the Home Office and St James Palace have deliberately fostered the myth by refusing to confirm or deny.

Personally I would not touch Camilla with a bargepole. I dislike violence at demonstrations. Demonstrations, good, riots, bad is my basic mantra. Attacks on people in a civil demonstration are always wrong, including attacks on the police unless in self defence. I did not join in the outrage at the prosecutions of violent demonstrators after the big Lebanon demonstration in London, because I personally witnessed the group hurling dangerous missiles at police who were neither attacking, threatening nor kettling them. That is absolutely unacceptable.

But a policy as appalling as the withdrawal of state funding from university teaching, carried out by Nick Clegg by one of the most blatant political breaches of fatih with the public in history, , is bound to provoke huge anger. The government reaps what it sows. Demonstrators should not set out to hurt people. But all the evidence shows they had no intention of hurting Charles and Camilla.

I have personally worked closely with the royal family’s close protection officers in organising two state visits abroad, and plainly they too could see there was no intent to injure – that is why weapons were not drawn. They deserve commendation rather than the crap spouted out by Sky News, who seem to think they should have gunned down the odd student.

All of which serves to take the focus off vicious police attacks on students and the use of kettling to detain people who were seeking peacefully to express their views. Kettling people in extreme cold and with no access to toilet facilities raises questions on illegal detention which genuine liberals in government would wish to address. What is it? Is it a form of arrest? What is the status of the fenced pens into which people are herded? Should they not be formalised as places of police detention, and individuals booked in and given access to lawyers? If that is not possible, this detention – which can be for many hours – is not lawful.

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Gazan Youth Breaks Out

I expect you need to be on Facebook to go to this link:!/pages/Gaza-Youth-Breaks-Out-GYBO/118914244840679

The Guardian published their manifesto yesterday. It may be superfluous but I nonetheless think it should be repeated as widely as possible:

GAZA YOUTH’S MANIFESTO FOR CHANGE: “We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream…” – read more below!

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Pls consider supporting us by taking one or more of the following actions:

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3) Translating the manifesto to your language and sending it to us (we have it in Arabic, Hebrew, French, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Greek, Chinese, Russian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish)

4) Sending the manifesto to journalists in your country

5) Making organizations in your countries that are concerned with the Palestinian issue and/or youth rights know about our existence

6) Posting links about violation of youth’s rights in Gaza on our wall

7) Suggesting us ideas for reaching out to a greater number of people


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