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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  • Robert Crawford

    Mark Golding.

    I am always amazed at what our public employees will do to earn their living!

  • Robert Crawford

    Please explain to me what the difference is between dying by terrorist attack, dying by air crash, dying by another country bombing you or dying by sanctions your own country placing restrictions on your ability to feed yourself?

    To me death is death and pain is pain regardless of source!

    How can one form of death and injury be any less than another? Or, even justified?

    If you attack someone, they will try to find a way to get revenge, sooner or later. If they can’t get you they will try to kill or injure your family, and or supporters. Then they will want revenge. This will perpetuated the killing cycle!

    It all has to stop!

  • Mary

    It was good to hear from you John. I wish you well and hope you return. We need your reasoning and insight.

    I completely agree with what you say about the value placed on a white life cf that of a darker hue. This author in America also sees it that way.

    The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
    by Ajamu Baraka / November 18th, 2015

    I received a message from one of my friends in Lebanon who asked with feigned curiosity why the U.S. media only gave a passing reference to the bombing in Beirut before turning to non-stop coverage of the attacks in Paris. Of course, like many of us she already knew the answer – that in the consciousness of the White West there is a premium on the value of White life.


  • JimP

    It’s hard not to conclude that Cameron (& co.) are not just very immature – they just want to kill someone (well, order others to do it – mustn’t get ones hands dirty) to show that they are big boys, and really tough!
    With regard to the killing of innocents, the sad fact is that neither the British government nor daesh really cares about innocents – theirs or ours – except as either a resource (the living) or an excuse (the dead). As you say, terrorist atrocities give our hawks the opportunity to spend more millions increasing security and eroding our rights, while the “collateral damage” from our legal and justified air strikes sends them more recruits seeking a glorious death.
    If the “civilised” world was serious about defeating daesh, they wouldn’t bomb them, they would strangle them. In theory, all surrounding countries are hostile to daesh, so cutting off their supplies should be possible. Stopping their cash flow is key but, as Craig says, this seems to be politically inconvenient – let’s kill someone instead!
    Similarly, if the British government was really interested in saving money rather than political dogma, they wouldn’t be persecuting the poor in the UK while ignoring the vast scale of tax evasion / avoidance by their friends (something that Brown was also guilty of). If you don’t like tax avoidance, don’t whine about it – change the rules to close the loopholes!
    Do you see a pattern here? They talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. I guess they don’t have the big brass balls they like to think they have!

  • Pan

    @Salford Lad

    Re: The Grand Chessboard – high time I read Brzezinski’s oft-mentioned book.

    Thanks for the connection.

  • Pan


    18 Nov, 2015 – 2:06 pm

    “Let all the [people] here who are claiming … that the attacks in Paris were NOT the work of Islamic terrorists tell us what they believe those attacks really were.”

    [me] Perhaps the important question is not “Who are the foot soldiers?” but “Who are the generals and the financiers?”.”

    [Habba] “That sounds a little evasive to me but never mind, tell us who the generals and the financiers are as well.”

    Had you read more carefully in the first place you would realise that I am NOT one of those who said “that the attacks in Paris were NOT the work of Islamic terrorists”. I merely referred to the terrorists as “footsoldiers”.

    [Habba] “Off ye go, laddie!”

    Aye, Aye! After you, sarge!

  • Pan

    John Spencer-Davis
    19 Nov, 2015 – 9:38 am

    “I think government and media have only themselves to blame if people do not believe a word that they say any more.”

    Well said!

  • Robert Crawford


    The public no longer believe the politicians or the media anymore. Hence the sacking of all those Labour scaremongers in Scotland. Also, the election of Jeremy Corbyn in England!

    It gladdens my old heart.

  • Pan

    Robert Crawford
    19 Nov, 2015 – 1:37 pm

    “It gladdens my old heart.”

    It gladdens me when those with a heart are gladdened.

  • Geejay

    I would have been interested in Craig’s views about how to start bringing this to an end. IMHO I think we have to start addressing some of the reasons (grievances) that have created these groups who see armed struggle and terrorism as the only solution. Northern Ireland only made progress when we started talking and tackling some of the causes of the “troubles”.

  • Kempe

    ” I would have been interested in Craig’s views about how to start bringing this to an end. ”

    A good point. Bombing by itself is not going to defeat ISIS neither will sanctions, there’s no way they’re going to be open to negotiations and as for the naive idea that “if we leave them alone they’ll leave us alone” well that worked well in the 1930s and for the Yazidis didn’t it?

  • David

    I don’t get it, how many times do western powers have to act in a way that increases the likelihood of terrorist blowback, before we can say that is the desired result?

  • Mark Golding

    November 5th – Prime Minister David Cameron told Vladimir Putin that Britain “shared the pain and grief” of the Russian people after the plane crash in Egypt which killed 224 people including 25 children. He also said this was “an evolving threat’ after evaluating intelligence gathered from monitoring ‘chatter’ or SIGNIT that indicated a terrorist bomb was planted in luggage to destroy the aircraft.

    Action taken:

    A No 10 spokeswoman said it was a matter of “individual choice” about whether people wanted to return home early and advised any worried holidaymakers to talk to their airline or tour operator.

    The government is not looking at this stage at bringing passengers home on RAF planes, although British military experts are working with UK officials and the airlines to work out the best way of getting them back.

    The spokeswoman said security concerns were centred only around Sharm el-Sheikh airport, and there was no specific threat that meant British passengers were more at risk than any other nationals.

    Paris shooting:

    David Cameron standing on a dais or rostrum complete with the Royal Coat of Arms issue a statement:

    My message to the French people is simple: Nous sommes solidaires avec vous. Nous sommes tous ensemble. We stand with you. United.

    While the full picture of what happened is still emerging, we know that there were multiple terror incidents across Paris and over 120 people are feared dead with many more injured.

    We must be prepared for a number of British casualties, and we are doing all we can to help those caught up in the attack.

    These were innocent victims enjoying a Friday night out with friends and family, no doubt at the end of a hard week. They were not seeking to harm anyone. They were simply going about their way of life – our way of life.

    And they were killed and injured by brutal, callous murderers who want to destroy everything our two countries stand for. Peace. Tolerance. Liberty.

    But we will not let them. We will redouble our efforts to wipe out this poisonous extremist ideology and, together with the French and our allies around the world, stand up for all we believe in.

    I have just chaired a meeting of COBR to review the security situation here in the UK. The threat level is already at severe, which means an attack is highly likely, and will remain so. Our police and intelligence agencies work round the clock to do all they can to keep us safe.

    Ever since the co-ordinated firearms attacks in Mumbai in 2008, we have all been working together to ensure we could respond to such an attack. This summer police and other emergency services carried out a major exercise to test our response for multiple firearms attacks. And in light of last night’s attacks, we will of course review our plans and make sure we learn any appropriate lessons.

    It is clear that the threat from ISIL is evolving. Last night’s attack suggests a new degree of planning and co-ordination and a greater ambition for mass casualty attacks. And we must recognise that however strong we are, however much we prepare, we in the UK face the same threat.

    That’s why we continue to encourage the public to remain vigilant.

    And we will do all we can to support our police and intelligence agencies with the resources and the capabilities they need.

    The terrorist aim is clear. It is to divide us and to destroy our way of life.

    So more than ever we must come together and stand united. And carry on with the way of life that we love, and that we know, and that will never be moved off.

    I hope to speak to President Hollande later today and I’ll make clear that we will do whatever we can to help. Your values are our values. Your pain is our pain. Your fight is our fight. And together, we will defeat these terrorists.

    Thank you.

    The British Queen also sent her condolences to the French president.

    She said: “Prince Philip and I have been deeply shocked and saddened by the terrible loss of life in Paris. We send our most sincere condolences to you, the families of those who have died and the French people.”

    Interesting – my intelligence suggest (1) the aircraft bomb was planted to place a millstone of Russian public opinion intended to hinder President Putin’s attack on Daesh in Syria (2) the Paris attack was intended to promote French and British intricacy in Syria by crowding the airspace, wrenching control of the political narrative of Syria from President Putin and re-amplify UN diplomacy and Syrian National Coalition legitimacy.

    Behind the scenes Britain and France are planning to introduce a resolution outlining the responsibilities of all outside actors militarily engaged in Syria to minimise civilian casualties, and prevail on the Syrian parties to do likewise, fingering Assad’s “appalling use of barrel bombs.” This in the context of a restatement of international humanitarian law. The resolution will also call on states engaged in Syria to report on their military actions there at regular intervals to the UN, and request that Ban Ki-moon appoint a military envoy (Swiss?) to monitor civilian protection.

    Clearly then a British and French ruse to accuss Russia of gross civilian casualties can be brought into focus.

  • Pan

    19 Nov, 2015 – 1:46 pm

    “Does ISIS Exist? Some Say No”

    Is the Earth round? Some say no. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

    I followed your link and listened to dear old, avuncular Pon Paul – definitely not one of the ‘bad guys’, but not too good with words sometimes (e.g. “I think ISIS exists because it exists in our minds”).

    Unfortunately, he did raise the tired, ridiculous notion that refugees are somehow suspect when they are “healthy, good-looking” and “sipping coffee in [European] cafés”, as if they can’t be genuine because they don’t look haggard and starved like mistreated POWs.

    But I guess we can’t blame people for not knowing that Syria was an advanced, modern country where people ate well and went around nicely groomed, before their land got blasted to hell, now can we? (!!)

  • Pooey Dove

    “I do not claim that the Establishment deliberately employs a Middle Eastern policy that promotes and exacerbates terrorism. But their policy has that effect,”

    Except that it does. It is known as Al Yamamah. British Aerospace has the biggest defence contract in the world there.

    While I lived there a bloke Simon King was arrested selling coke to Saudis. His network was said to be worth 14 million pounds. Anyone know more?

  • Fredi


    Ron Paul is getting old, and a little less coherent these days however I still think he would of made the best president one could ever hope for. Alas it was not to be, however he has inspired millions of people around the globe, myself included.

    We shall see his idea continually resurface for decades to come, of that I’m very sure.

    Well done on homing into the worst he said in the four videos I posted from the liberty report. No point mentioning the 99% that was good.

    I think his baldly expressed thoughts were still valid, these I believe were something along the lines of

    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 policies.

  • Alcyone


    “Thank you very much for your kind comments. I am deeply touched by these (far too generous, I think) assessments. I’m a bit taken aback that my contributions have been so well thought of. Much appreciated.

    I am still reading and my health is much better. I saw a consultant yesterday who is sending me for X-ray but thinks the stone that has been causing the trouble is probably gone. (Not sure myself. I think I can still feel it sometimes.)

    I got out of the habit of commenting when I was unwell and have been pursuing other pressing matters. I have been unsure if it is a good idea to come back, as most people who have had a pause will probably recognise.”
    John, I’m not sure why, or on what basis, you feel that “most people who have had a pause will probably recognise.”?

    My observation of your commenting was that it was obsessive, and that you were almost trying to avoid and escape “pursuing” real life and its content. For example, when you appealed obsessively to the Moderator to delete me/Villager because Villager was banned, it was on a Sunday evening. And I thought to myself, does this guy really have nothing better to do on a Sunday evening? After all, he has a family; a wife who is a hard-working tax consultant and daughters, I believe, children at any rate. And all he is worried about was to assert a ban on Villager? And then what sort of liberal-minded person would want to see someone banned unless it were for a very grave reason?

    I also recall your utter lack of objectivity when you termed Krishnamurti’s work as ‘psychobabble’, perhaps considering yourself as some kind of psycho-expert. Even though you’re a Johnny-come-lately, I considered that observation more suited The Old Trolls, but I realise you’re a man with a closed mind.

    Anyway, stay well and keep your ahead under the parapet. I have a sense in the very unlikely event iof meeting you, I would probably talk you under the table on either of your subjects of accounting and psychology. And that would not be very good for your self-esteem!

  • Alcyone

    John S Warren
    19 Nov, 2015 – 7:57 pm

    “Well said John Spencer-Davis. Health is everything.”
    I question that Sir. Do you actually mean it or are you just happy to use a well-worn cliche?

    I should say a *holistic* life is everything. That is *not* meant in any New Age sense as will be interpreted by the limited minds of The Old Trolls. But more in the sense of a sane healthy individual, living a creative life rationally in total awareness and in a state of Joy.

    But, I get your drift, even if I expected better of you, butnow wonder why?. 😉

    The words ‘individual’ and ‘indivisible’ have the same roots/etymology. Check it out. All one!11

  • Alcyone

    Oh we know that already; getting well-worn.

    You may choose not too answer and that’s alright too. Your having read my remarks is enough.

    Thank you

  • Ray Vison

    The only way to get rid of ISIS in Syria and Iraq is by troops on the ground and even then guerrilla/terrorist acts would carry on until there was a political settlement – ha ha – which would mean Israel leaving the W Bank and US/UK leaving Afghanistan. Bombing is pointless and cruel on civilians. The reason Israel is often brought in on these discussions is because it is the root cause of ME conflict, causing revenge, which causes more conflict, and off we go.

  • Alcyone

    ” The reason Israel is often brought in on these discussions is because it is the root cause of ME conflict, causing revenge, which causes more conflict, and off we go. ”

    Ray, that is not very convincing. When was the last time you saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and sundry emirates put pressure on Israel on behalf of there Palestinian brothers?

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