Thrashing Not Swimming 254

David Cameron relies on the complicity of mainstream media and the gullibility and disinterest of the British public to get away with an extraordinary switch. Two years ago he was strongly urging military action in Syria against the forces of President Assad. Now he urges military action against the enemies of President Assad. That includes against groups and individuals who were initially armed and financed by western intelligence agencies, and are still being financed by our Saudi “allies”.

Indeed one of the many extraordinary features of this fervid political period is that the neo-cons (be they Tory or Blairite) who are so actively beating the drum for war, are the ones who absolutely refuse to acknowledge that the source of the poison is Saudi Arabia. Cameron today told Westminster that the head of the snake is in Raqqa. That is plainly untrue. The head of the snake is in Riyadh. But if your God is Mammon, that is blasphemy.

It is also fascinating that the same people who triumphantly warned Putin he would get blowback from bombing the Islamists in Syria, deny that our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing of Libya have any blowback effect or in any way cause terrorism in the West. The hypocrisy would be hilarious were it not so serious.

The French are pounding the city of Raqqa as I write and the truth is, whatever the propaganda, that they have already killed more entirely innocent civilians in their bombing than were killed in the horrible atrocity in Paris. The killing on both sides is mindless. The majority of those the French are bombing into oblivion in Raqqa are people horrified at being occupied by ISIL, just as the people killed by ISIL in Paris were ordinary people as powerless as the rest of us to affect the way the elite run our foreign policy. Those who believe that the random killing of bombing is the solution to random killing are crazy.

I was terribly, terribly sad for the victims of Paris and their loved ones. But I could not help but note that we did not fly flags at half mast or illuminate buildings in the rather lighter tones of red white and blue that could have marked Russia losing nearly twice as many dead in a related terrorist atrocity just a few weeks before.

For the terrorists themselves, I have no sympathy. To kill entirely innocent people is indefensible in any circumstances. To believe that religious kudos can be gained from killing the innocent is incredibly sick.

I have often argued that it is actually not difficult to commit a terrorist attack. If I wanted to kill people next week, did not care who I killed, and was prepared to die myself, I could most certainly do so successfully. The key point is of course that in reality there are very, very few people deranged enough to carry out such atrocious acts. Any rational analysis shows this is not an existential threat. Terrible as these attacks were, they killed 0.01% – that’s one in ten thousand – of the population of Paris. They increased the tiny chance of being murdered in France by only 20%. There are over 600 murders a year in France. Many more people die every year in traffic accidents in Paris than were killed in this atrocity.

I am not trying to mitigate the evil or atrocity, I am trying to put it in context. The drama of the incident is used vastly to exaggerate its impact and to justify those moves which the Establishment had up their sleeve anyway as the vast and growing disparity between rich and poor calls for more weapons of social control. These include massive surveillance of the population, larger and more intrusive security services, aggressive policing, an institutional system of informers in education, a new crime of “non-violent extremism”, and of course yet more wars in the Middle East –

The sad thing is of course that the terrorists are so stupid as to increase the powers of the very forces in society whose policies they purport to be fighting, while the only people they kill are also those getting the short straw of society’s gross inequality. I suspect the leadership knows this. Of course, if you are a Saudi prince, then right wing, highly authoritarian western governments hostile to economic equality are exactly what you want too. It makes your lifestyle in London, Paris and Monte Carlo so much easier.

Meanwhile David Cameron thrashes about. The only way he can see to look credible is to go and bomb someone, even if it is the opposite side he wanted to bomb last time. It won’t stop terrorism, but it will be good for the arms manufacturers and security industry. It will help stoke the jingoism that is so useful in enabling the wealthy to maintain their firm grip on political power.

Actually stopping terrorism would of course do none of those useful things for the Establishment. I do not claim that the Establishment deliberately employs a Middle Eastern policy that promotes and exacerbates terrorism. But their policy has that effect, and they use its consequence in their own interest in retaining a firm grip on political power. It helps further ensure that political power will not be employed to reorder society upon more egalitarian lines.

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254 thoughts on “Thrashing Not Swimming

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  • Mary

    Strange that my posts on Mark Clarke/Lady Pidding (linked to sources) have been removed overnight. Have there been legal threats?

    The front page of the Daily Mail today:


    Party chiefs are accused of cover-up over allegations against PM’s aide who bullied ‘activist to death’.’


    I understood this to be a political blog.

  • schrodingers cat

    good article Craig
    It annoys me that the media and the politicians continuously refering to bombing “Syria” without differentiating between the various groups in syria. the cynic in me sees this as an attempt to conceal the fact that the UK is switching sides.

    you are 100% correct identifying that the source of the deology is wahhabism from Saudi. Al Nusra, Jaysh Al Islam, ISIS, the Taliban and al Qaida are all wahhabists.

    the first thing that should be done is the borders of Saudi(Kuwait) and Iraq should be sealed off to prevent the flow of recruits, arms, supplies, funding and training to all the jihadists (a Wahhabi ideology) in the region.

  • Ken2

    It’s still about Oil and economic control., lack of Democracy in the Middle East and psychopathic, lying, greedy leaders. Fance has been illegally bombing the Middle East forever. France, UK/US carved up the Middle East and have illegally stolen all their assets and Oil revenues since 1913. Over 100 years.

    The West have been illegally bombing the Middle East for years, causing mayhem and death. They are illegally supporting an Apartheid State of Israel and despot absolute Monarchies of a kind that would not be tolerated in the West. Without US funding Apartheid Israel would never exist. The Palestinians are in Camps which are an affront to civilised society.

    Chikdren are now growing up in a world that knows nothing but war. People are anxious, can’t sleep or eat and are suffering from mental health issues which causes great unhappiness.

    Putin tried to get the West to talk with Assad/Syria to find a diiplomatic solution. The West refused. Putin is now bombing innocent people to bits. France, UK/US have caused the worst migration crisis in Europe since 11WW. The US are supplying Iran with Nuclear for Oil. Iran has enough Oil and sun for energy. They are dumping nuclear waste in Africa. They will cause a nuclear 111WW and blow the world to piece. They should trade and give Aid but do not invade. They are causing poverty, deprivation and death to the most vulnerable, worldwide.

  • Ken2

    In the US, 26K people kill each other with guns a year. 6K kill each other with other methods. More die from suicide and overdoses of unrestricted drugs. US citizens arm themselves against their own Gov who they don’t trust. Gov misinformation and paranoia creates fear, in order to control. Creating unhappiness and mental health issues among the citizens. Depression and use of uncontrolled substances affectiing the general health of the population.

    Terror. To people deprived of everything, revenge gives them a cause and a reason to exist.

    Cameron awards himself a £10Million Jet on the never, never, expenses sheet. In England the junior doctors are going on strike. The NHS in England is being deprived of essential funds – cut backs – and is going bankrupt.

  • Pan

    19 Nov, 2015 – 9:49 pm

    (assault on John S-D)

    It really takes guts to kick a man when he’s down. NOT!

  • Alcyone

    Pan I didn’t realise you live in a world of cliches rather like the Old Trolls, but apparently….

    We see each other through the mirror of relationships. I wish JSD well. Staring into the face of reality can help healing issues at their roots.

    Have a good day!

  • Pan

    19 Nov, 2015 – 6:47 pm

    (emphasis via CAPS, mine)

    “1 Most of the HORDE seen streaming across Europe were not Syrian

    2 Most have some money, they are not destitute, PEOPLE SMUGGLERS must be paid after all.

    3 Many (MOST) are ECONOMIC MIGRANTS taking advantage of stupid [unspecified] policies.”

    Gee, you sound just like Rupert Murdoch.

  • Pan


    re clichés: yes, they can be dull and hackneyed, but they can also be true, even axiomatic.

    “I wish JSD well.” – that’s not the impression you gave.

    “Staring into the face of reality can help healing issues at their roots.”

    Now you want to be his shrink?

  • Fredi

    That’s unfortunate Pan as I truly despise the that man (Murdoch)

    So lets take the opposite view for a moment.

    1 It doesn’t matter where any migrant in the world comes from, all very welcome in Europe, get here and it’s all yours.

    2 Doesn’t matter if you have money or not for your new life in Europe you are entitled to welfare from the instant you arrive upon European shores.

    3 You are entitled to go to any European country you choose.

    4 Anyone disagreeing is obviously a fascist, bigoted, racist scumbag.

    So let’s be clear is that kind of your position on the subject?

  • Alcyone

    ““Staring into the face of reality can help healing issues at their roots.”

    Pan, is that what shrinks do? Why are they called shrinks? What is a shrink to you?

    Now, sadly, I have to turn my attention to a particularly exciting creative project. Hope you’ll find something interesting to do. But if its alright I’ll take your leave. You’re very welcome to the last word! 🙂

    Ciao ciao!

  • Pan

    Alcyone –

    “What is a shrink to you?”

    A psychotherapist, of course.

    Please don’t pretend to be an ingénue.

    “Now, sadly, I have to turn my attention to a particularly exciting creative project.”

    Can’t be that exciting if you’re feeling sad about it.

    ¡Hasta luego!

  • Pan

    Fredi –

    I’m just finishing my third cup of coffee, then it’s action (outdoors) time for me, so just a quick response…

    Things are rarely ‘black or white’ as you seem to want to make out.

    There are countless shades of grey in-between.

    The more the complexity, the more numerous the nuances.

    (Alcyone, the above “black, white, shades of grey” thing is an example of an axiomatic cliché)

    Good day!


    McTaggart is on the ISC committee and is a PC ffs. Posh and rich. Should have joined the Tories.

    Intelligence and Security Committee

    Gisela Stuart Lab is also on it. She is also a member of the HJS political council.

    Their home page opens with an image of the Israel flag.


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