Feile An Phobail Belfast 4110


The Respectability of Torture


St Mary’s University College, Thurs 1st August, 7.30pm

 

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, was a whistleblower who was removed from his ambassadorial post by Tony Blair for exposing the Tashkent regime‟s use of rape and systematic torture, including the boiling to death of political opponents. He has also spoken out against Central Asia‟s appalling dictatorships, regimes which are allies of the West, involved in torture and rendition, and was accused of threatening MI6‟s relationship with the CIA. Now a human rights activist, author and broadcaster, he outlines the dynamics of torture and the hypocrisy of incriminated Western governments.

 

My first public appearance for a while will be in Belfast on 1 August where I shall be giving a talk.  Long term readers of this blog will recall that, while my focus is largely on international affairs, the domestic political achievements I most hope to see are a united Ireland and an independent Scotland.


4,110 thoughts on “Feile An Phobail Belfast

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  • Flaming June

    10 years on

    News Briefing from the state broadcaster on Radio 4 this morning focussed on the ‘outing’ of Dr Kelly. A recording of the war mongering Menzies Campbell was played. There was no mention of the haste of Lord Falconer (B.Liar’s flatmate when they were pupil barristers) in appointing Hutton three hours after Dr Kelly’s body was found. Hutton’s ‘inquiry’ began 10 years ago today. Vile.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b037ddzs 11 minutes in.

    ~~
    Falconer and Blair

    He became a flatmate of Tony Blair when they were both young barristers in London in the late 1970s in Wandsworth. They had first met as pupils at rival schools in the 1960s. At school, he dated Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, an ex-girlfriend of Blair’s, immediately after that relationship. While Blair went into politics, Falconer concentrated on his legal career. He practised from Fountain Court Chambers in London, and became a Queen’s Counsel in 1991.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Falconer,_Baron_Falconer_of_Thoroton

  • mark golding

    Thanks Sofia for the link to Iraq’s congenital defects. Interestingly a doctor engaged with Fallujah General Hospital provided important casualty information between 2004 – 2005.

    CAUTION DISTURBING – login required

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5qgfUjzbj4

    As a Cryptanalysis I appreciate your info AlcAnon
    31 Jul, 2013 – 4:32 pm thank-you

  • Komodo

    John – I do know where you’re coming from, and I applaud the direction. But…the inability for lower ranks to question orders especially when they are immoral.
    That’s specifically built into the system, not because of any systematic disregard of morality, but simply because democracy doesn’t work when someone’s shooting at your unit.
    War is immoral. Yes. By and large.
    The military wage war. But, other than in countries with military juntas (and it comes to the same thing in the end) it is governments which initiate war. The military then does what it has agreed to be paid for. The moral turpitude is the government’s. Most servicemen I’ve known come across as starched Puritans compared with politicians…
    Man is still a savage: but the weapons at his disposal are more sophisticated.
    Never said a truer word. It’s in our DNA to kill rival tribesmonkeys.

  • Phil

    Komodo 1 Aug, 2013 – 12:30 pm
    “It’s in our DNA to kill rival tribesmonkeys.”

    Now that’s no lesson to be teaching young sophia. Old lizards should not misrepresent their pessimism as fact.

  • Jemand - Censorship Improves History

    Komodo, it reads like you are advocating for the correctness of both the charges and convictions against Manning. 

    Were they?

    A conviction does not confer upon itself correctness as demonstrated by the many successful appeals against convictions.

    Furthermore, contracts between an employer and employee are not automatically compliant with the law. And some laws do not automatically prevail, particularly if they do not conform with predominating laws such as the US Constitution.

    What we see with Manning’s conviction is a flagrant exercise in scapegoating of a young man who was placed in a legal Catch 22 about which others have correctly alluded to the Nuhremberg trials. Manning was supplying intelligence products that combat units were acting upon. He was therefore embedded in the military processes that often result in deadly outcomes and in doing so, was legally obligated to respond to perceived war crimes that he became aware of – and he did.

    If Manning failed to respond in the way that he did, could he have been held culpable of concealing a war crime? What would be his defence? “I was ordered to shut up and mind my own business – just followed orders”.

    Catch 22 – damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • Someone

    “It’s in our DNA to kill rival tribesmonkeys.”

    Evolution is a slow process, we might become intelligent and who knows, perhaps even sane at sometime in the future ?.

  • Flaming June

    Sky are saying that Edward Snowden has been given papers by the Russian government that allowed him to leave Moscow airport. He has apparently left the airport.

  • Phil

    Komodo 1 Aug, 2013 – 12:30 pm
    “But…the inability for lower ranks to question orders especially when they are immoral.
    That’s specifically built into the system, not because of any systematic disregard of morality, but simply because democracy doesn’t work when someone’s shooting at your unit.”

    No it doesn’t work when someones shooting at your unit. But most of a soldiers life is spent not being shot at.

    It is provenly possible to have an army of politically engaged soldiers who are involved in the decision making process and encouraged to take moral positions. The great examples that I know are the anarchist armies in spain and ukraine. Although hotly contested it appears that these armies were also genuinely liberating in a way that most armies are not.

    It is likely these two facts, a democratic decision process within the army and the armys seemingly unique desire to not retain power, are not unrelated.

  • Komodo

    Jemand:
    Catch 22 – damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Precisely. Catch-22 was about the USAF….

    No, seriously. What happened with Manning was that (a) US security was its usual abysmally lackadaisical self. (b) Someone with absolutely no “need to know” the contents of the material he was handling, got to know the contents and (b) distributed them far and wide, (c)severely compromising the organisation for which he worked. (d) A book of rules exists for the purpose, and it was thrown at him. He was found guilty of actual offences which he had actually committed, and sentenced according to existing guidelines. A miscarriage of justice: one or more senior officers in the security chain should have been summarily shot at dawn, but it doesn’t work that way.

    It occurs to me that what keeps an army functional is the near-certainty in the mind of its rank and file that what the army can do to you if you don’t conform is probably worse than what the enemy can do to you when you do.

    Sooo…

    A conviction does not confer upon itself correctness as demonstrated by the many successful appeals against convictions.

    Precisely the reverse is demonstrated by the many unsuccessful appeals…

    If Manning failed to respond in the way that he did, could he have been held culpable of concealing a war crime? What would be his defence? “I was ordered to shut up and mind my own business – just followed orders”.

    I’d guess that 50% minumum of front-line troops in the US and UK armies have knowledge of war crimes under one definition or another. They happen quite a lot in war. Going to lock the lot up?

    Manning took a risk. He must surely have known that the shit would hit the fan. That’s not a secret. I hope he still thinks it was worth it: who knows, it may be.

  • Komodo

    The great examples that I know are the anarchist armies in spain and ukraine.

    Both lost.

  • Phil

    Komodo
    “Both lost.”

    True. But their eventual defeat does not take away that they had some pretty amazing military success whilst encouraging debate and democracy.

    Indoctrination of soldiers is needed by those whose arguments are immoral. It doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Komodo

    Sounds great, doesn’t work in practice, Phil. I’ve agreed with John, above, that war is immoral. Therefore any argument for war is immoral (if you like). Therefore all ‘those’ (define please,) requiring a war are permitted to think that indoctrination is acceptable.

    Counter-example for you: the Viet Cong. Indoctrinated and disciplined up to the hilt. Not only got the hearts and minds (and balls) of the population, but also won. What armies are for.

    Consider also a bunch of random lads off the dole queue in Liverpool. Touchy feely doesn’t work if you want them fighting someone else in three months. It’s sheer practicality, morality is an unaffordable luxury.

  • Phil

    “Sounds great, doesn’t work in practice, Phil.”

    Well you already said that and I gave two examples where it did work. That conflict is ineviatable because competition drives evolution, you know all the dark hobsian stuff, is an ideology.

  • Komodo

    it did work

    You already said that, and you’re wrong. They failed to achieve the objective for which they were formed. Nicely or otherwise. Now if you’d said AQ, I’d have had to listen…but they’re indoctrinated.

    🙂

  • guano

    Glenn_uk
    The bugs come from me, so what am I supposed to do with myself? Working for a boss that doesn’t see fit to pay me in a freezing week in February has sterilised my bugs. Blessings in disguise.

    Harrible

    Whatever blows yer skirt up mate. I’m going back to my Qur’an

  • Komodo

    That conflict is ineviatable because competition drives evolution, you know all the dark hobsian stuff, is an ideology.

    You mean competition doesn’t drive evolution? Oh, boy…Still, you might accept that dwindling resources will continue to drive competition (and conflict), even if evolution has too little time to respond.

  • technicolour

    “Only 15 to 20 percent of the American riflemen in combat during World War II would fire at the enemy. Those who would not fire did not run or hide—in many cases they were willing to risk greater danger to rescue comrades, get ammunition, or run messages. They simply would not fire their weapons at the enemy, even when faced with repeated waves of banzai charges”

    http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/hope_on_the_battlefield

  • Abe Rene

    I recently underwent anti-bribery training at my workplace. UK citizens are forbidden to attempt or benefit from bribery anywhere in the world. Perhaps we could do with a similar law on torture, forbidding UK citizens to participate in it or willingly receive information obtained using it.

  • Phil

    “They failed to achieve the objective for which they were formed.”

    Yes they did. I just dont think that negates them as examples. Their eventual defeat does not mean they were an ineffective fighting force. They most certainly were not. These anarchist armies scored impressive victories and were a real force.

    They are examples of effective armies where debate was encouraged. That is all I am saying. All the examples of armies not like this in the world do not disappear these examples.

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