The Power of Lies 333

The comments on Peter Oborne’s excellent article on Julian Assange in the Guardian last week are a damning indictment of the media’s ability to instil near universal acceptance of “facts” which are easily proven lies.

The Guardian chose as its “Guardian pick” to head the section a comment full of these entirely untrue assertions.

If you look through all the comments, they repeat again and again that Wikileaks published unredacted documents, including names of US agents, which put lives at risk. The entire basis of most of the comments is simply untrue – and none of the readers seems to have any information to contradict them.

Julian Assange has never said that governments should have no secrets. That would be a ridiculous position and clearly some information held by government is rightly confidential. He has said that governments should be very much more open to the public, and that most government secrecy is unjustified.

Nor has Wikileaks ever dumped data unread and unedited on to the internet. The commenter is correct to say that Wikileaks has shared editing responsibilities with organisations including the Guardian and the New York Times. This is precisely because the material needs to be edited to avoid revealing inappropriate material, and to make journalistic decisions on what to write stories about.

The notion that Assange was “lazy” because he did not read all the material and do all the editing himself is self-evidently ridiculous. The US diplomatic cables and Iraq and Afghan war logs alone constituted over 600,000 documents. It was simply impossible for Assange to read it all personally. He was the editor of Wikileaks. This is tantamount to criticising Katherine Viner for not writing every single article in the Guardian personally.

The extradition hearing of Julian Assange heard numerous highly professional and respected journalists testify to the rigorous nature of Wikileaks’ editing process to remove names. Here is one extract from my reporting of the trial:

John Goetz was the first witness this morning. Senior Investigations Editor at NDR since 2011, he was at Der Spiegel from 2007-11. He had published a series of articles on German involvement in the Afghan War, including one on a bombing raid on Kunduz which massacred civilians, for which he had won Germany’s highest journalism award. In June 2010 he went to London to meet with Wikileaks and the Guardian to work on the Afghan War Logs.

In a series of meetings in “the bunker” at the Guardian with the NYT and the other major media partners, the partnership was formed whereby all would pool effort in researching the Afghan War Logs but each party would choose and publish his own stories. This cooperative venture between five major news organisations – normally rivals – was unique at the time.

Goetz had been struck by what seemed to him Julian Assange’s obsession with the security of the material. He insisted everything was encrypted and strict protocols were in place for handling the material. This had been new territory for the journalists. The New York Times was tasked with liaison with the White House, the Department of Defence and State Department on questions of handling the material.

Asked by Mark Summers to characterise the Afghan War Logs, Goetz said that they were fascinating first-hand material giving low level reports on actual operations. This was eye witness material which sometimes lacked the larger view. There was abundant first-hand evidence of war crimes. He had worked with Nick Davies of the Guardian on the Task Force 373 story.

Julian Assange had been most concerned to find the names in the papers. He spent a lot of time working out technical ways to identify names in the tens of thousands of documents. Mark Summers asked f he had been looking for the names for the purpose of redaction, and Goetz confirmed it was for redaction. He had interviewed Assange on the harm minimisation programme of the operation.

On behalf of the group Eric Schmitt of the NYT had been speaking to the White House and he had sent an email identifying 15,000 documents the White House did not want published to prevent harm to individuals or to American interests. It was agreed not to publish these documents and they were not published. Summers asked Goetz if he was aware of any names that slipped through, and he replied not.

Goetz was not so involved for family reasons when the consortium went through the same process with the Iraq war logs. But he knew that when a large number of these were released in the USA under a FOIA request, it was seen that Wikileaks had redacted those they released more heavily than the Department of Defense did. Goetz recalled an email from David Leigh of the Guardian stating that publication of some stories was delayed because of the amount of time Wikileaks were devoting to the redaction process to get rid of the “bad stuff”.

Further very detailed evidence on this point was given by Professor John Sloboda, by Nicky Hager and by Professor Christian Grothoff.

Yet there is no public awareness that this careful editing and redaction process took at all. That is plain from those comments under the Guardian article. This is because people are simply regurgitating the propaganda that the media has given them. My blog was effectively the only source for detailed reporting of the Assange hearings, which were almost ignored by the mainstream media.

This was deliberate choice – the information was freely available to the mainstream media. This is what the Reuters News Agency, to which they all subscribe, produced on Dr Goetz’s evidence, for example:

WikiLeaks’ Assange was careful to protect informants, court hears
By Reuters Staff

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange was careful to ensure that the names of informants in hundreds of thousands of leaked secret U.S. government documents were never published, his London extradition hearing was told on Wednesday.

Australian-born Assange, 49, is fighting against being sent to the United States, where he is charged with conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law over the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.

A lawyer for the United States told the court last week that it was requesting Assange’s extradition over the publication of informants’ names, and not for handling leaked documents.

John Goetz, an investigative reporter who worked for Germany’s Spiegel magazine on the first publication of the documents, said the U.S. State Department had been involved in a conference call suggesting redactions, and WikiLeaks had agreed to hold back about 15,000 documents for publication.

“There was sensitivity and it was one of the things that was talked about all the time,” Goetz told the court. Assange was concerned that the media should take measures “so no one would be harmed”, he said.

Goetz said WikiLeaks was later frustrated when a password that allowed access to the full, unredacted material was published in a book by Guardian reporters in February 2011.

Assange made international headlines in 2010 when WikiLeaks published a U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.

I can find no evidence that any mainstream media used this report from Reuters, or indeed any of Reuters’ daily news feed that covered the major points for the defence. The BBC managed to report prominently the false claim that has entered public consciousness:

But could not find space for any of the witnesses who contradicted this claim.

It is of course a very delicate subject for the Guardian, whose journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding were in fact responsible for the dumping of unredacted material on the net. The court heard evidence of this from numerous witnesses, of whom Professor Christian Grothoff gave the most detail:

Summers then asked Professor Grothoff whether David Leigh released the password. Grothoff replied that yes, Luke Harding and David Leigh had revealed the encryption key in their book on Wikileaks published February 2011. They had used it as a chapter heading, and the text explicitly set out what it was. The copies of the encrypted file on some mirrors were useless until David Leigh posted that key.
Summers So once David Leigh released the encryption key, was it in Wikileaks’ power to take down the mirrors?
Grothoff No.
Summers Could they change the encryption key on those copies?
Grothoff No.
Summers Was there anything they could do?
Grothoff Nothing but distract and delay.

Grothoff continued to explain that on 25 August 2011 the magazine Der Freitag had published the story explaining what had happened. It did not itself give out the password or location of the cache, but it made plain to people that it could be done, particularly to those who had already identified either the key or a copy of the file. The next link in the chain of events was that published a blog article which identified the location of a copy of the encrypted file. With the key being in David Leigh’s book, the material was now effectively out. This resulted within hours in the creation of torrents and then publication of the full archive, unencrypted and unredacted, on

Summers asked whether Cryptome was a minor website. Grothoff replied not at all, it was a long established platform for leaked or confidential material and was especially used by journalists.

It is telling that in the Guardian itself, scores of commenters on Peter Oborne’s article reference the release of unredacted files, but nobody seems to know that it was the Guardian that was actually responsible, or rather, massively irresponsible. The gulf between public perception and the truth is deeply troubling.

In a related matter, the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal has published an article with that attribution, about the “russiagate” hoax around the 2016 election, which is stunning:

“The Russia-Trump narrative that Clinton sanctioned did enormous harm to the country. It disgraced the FBI, humiliated the press, and sent the country on a three year investigation to nowhere. Putin never came close to doing as much disinformation damage.”

The problem is the Wall Street Journal has one thing wrong. The press is not humiliated – like Boris Johnson it is entirely brazen and has no capacity for humiliation. The press has not been found out, because most of the country still believes the lies they were told and have not seen corrected.

Hillary’s 2016 campaign manager has stated “Russiagate” was a lie knowingly planted by Hillary. Mueller could find no firm evidence of Russian hacking, and the CEO of Crowdstrike, the Clinton appointed firm who made the original claim, testified to congress there was “no hard evidence”. The FBI nor Mueller ever even inspected the DNC servers. The Christopher Steele “peegate” dossier has fallen apart and is now a thing of ridicule. Roger Stone was jailed for false evidence to the FBI – which consisted of him inventing a Wikileaks-Trump link for purposes of self-aggrandisement. The Manafort/Assange story was the most egregious press fabrication since the Zinoviev letter.

But the media who pushed all these false narratives have never backed away from them.

My favourite example ever of almost entirely unreported news was the dismissal by New York federal judge John Koeltl of the Democratic National Committee’s lawsuit against Trump and the state of Russia over the 2016 elections. Judge Koeltl rules that nothing whatsoever had been produced which met the bar of evidence.

There is plainly a crisis in western neo-liberal societies. The wealth gap between rich and poor has become so extreme as to be insupportable, and even in the wealthiest countries in the world, people in employment are struggling to achieve decent accommodation, heating and food. The billionaire controlled state and media systems contrived to neuter both Corbyn and Sanders, who sought to restore some social justice.

In consequence, inevitable public discontent has been channelled into populist courses – Brexit, Trump, Johnson – which themselves alarm the establishment, though less than Sanders and Corbyn did. There is a space for comforting fiction to explain the social shock. Therefore the populist wave is explained, not as a result of popular discontent at the extreme economic imbalance of modern neo-liberalism, but by the Deus Ex Machina of hacking or Cambridge Analytica, all of which is then itself sourced back to the designated devil Putin.

Modern society is not really much more rational than the Middle Ages. Myth is still extremely potent; only the means of myth dissemination are more sophisticated.


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333 thoughts on “The Power of Lies

1 2
  • mark golding

    Julian Assange the stalwart of disclosure and exposure of truth is now of course chained to an Establishment, subservient and indeed a slave to US demand. Ironically two slaves entangled, the source of which`wrote the Slavery Act, laws concerning the control of human property, And it is within that control we find the punishment for insubordination; clearly torture by burning with a hot iron and branding the forehead or cheek with the owners initials.

    Most died from despair and distress…

    Perhaps you might tell HRH Queen her Platinum Jubilee should include Julian’s clemency.

  • Simon Sebin

    The Guardian and similar publications diligently moderate any and all dissenting comments and block any and all dissenting commenters – this is when they actually allow comments. It is not that the consensus is as completely idiotic as it appears, it is that The Guardian and similar publications strictly vet any and all comments in order to falsify the impression of a consensus that is in accordance with their ideology. The censorship at such places is as disgusting as it is predictable. This century has seen The Guardian and similar publications slide from being the average or above average broadsheets that existed in the late twentieth century into an abyss of squalid deception and bias.

    • andyoldlabour

      Simon Sebin

      The Guardian and others who forbid comments, are simply rotting in their fetid echo chambers of ignorance. I think it is obvious that there is a higher, controlling factor involved, I am just not sure who it is.

      • Ultraviolet

        Yesterday’s Owen Jones article on Starmer was an interesting demonstration of another feature. His piece said that Starmer’s dishonesty had to be held to account. It was a good column. In the comments, there were plenty of attacks on Jones, hundreds of the usual “you’re Tory enablers” comments, but nobody had the slightest rebuttal to what he actually said. There were also perhaps one in five comments supportive of Jones’s argument.

        The upvotes on the comments agreeing with the piece measured around 20-40. The upvotes on even the most trite Starmer-supporting comment sometimes measured in the hundreds.

        People say the Corbyn’s followers were a cult. But they just wanted the policies he offered. Starmer’s followers have nothing to support but the person, and they attack viciously anyone who even vaguely criticises him. That’s far more cult-like than anything I ever saw with Corbyn.

        • joel

          I would love to know what inspires these supporters of Keir Starmer and his crew. It cannot be because they are leftwingers, for when Starmer does attack the Tories it is invariably from the right. (The latest example his demand that the spending watchdog investigate Sunak’s payments to help households cope with energy costs.) It cannot be because they believe Starmer is a man of integrity, sincerity, principle, decency etc, or because they have fallen for his charisma and personality. It certainly cannot be policy based because even his head of policy could not name any when pressed this week. What is going on with these people?

          • Jon o groats

            I think people and Craig need to understand something. The hundreds of ‘people’ and up votes are from fake accounts run by the security services and their PR and NGO tax payer funded intelligence assets, you see? It makes sense now doesn’t it. The Integrity Initiative, the institute for state craft the OPI, did you realise that over 150 UK PR companies are pushing the Ukraine narrative at the moment, TsiPSO feed the fakes, the.lies, the false videos and statements to the press who print it unchecked or verified. Here is an interesting article that explains how it works, the stuff about Jankowicz isnt the point, its the organisations behind this tidal wave of narrative strangling, lies, fakes etc Putin has nothing on the UK when it comes to disinformation, and it’s all at the tax payers expense. It’s the Guardians very own troll farm.


          • Ultraviolet

            Joel and Jon, between the two of you, you have summarised what I was getting at. If it was just the substantive comments being uprated, I could just about believe it was because of the arguments being made. But as Joel says, there is simply nothing there to support. These “people” are cheering on a vacuum. More than that, they are doing it in such an indiscriminate way that it is just not credible that they are real people who really feel that way, which is why I had come to the same conclusion as Jon.

            The Graun’s fluffers are really have to stretch now, though. There was a piece in there this week on the Wakefield bye-election. It had some vox pops with people who had voted Tory in 2019 and now regretted it.

            Their first respondent said he was “borderline” on voting Labour, The next one is quoted saying, “It’s just not what we expected. It just makes you think: have you done the right thing? Has life been better for you?” But they do not quote her saying she will be voting Labour this time round. The third one says Labour is too often “sniping from the sidelines all the while and making too much of Partygate”, and that “They need to get really back to convincing the people they’ve got some solid manifesto promises and actually deliver.”

            This article is titled, without apparent irony, “Signs of progress for Labour as it aims to win back Wakefield in byelection”.

    • Beast from the Yeast

      I would agree with your assessment. I caught myself thinking the same thoughts when recently my carefully worded comment relevant to the article, referencing a well established historic fact was deleted. When I posted it again, the account was banned altogether.

      It seems that these days Guardian opens comments on select few political pieces only to emphasise its narrative and create a false impression of the consensus in society. It seems that the “brains” behind the operation accepted that not opening comments at all is not as conducive to their disinformational aims than censoring.

      • c

        and the danger in creating a false narrative of the consensus of society is that the real movements and underlying opinions are not understood or discovered until the real people have spoken i.e. Brexit, the ugly truth reared its head and the Guardian should have noticed this well in advance

  • Goose

    The guardian brushed off the Grayzone’s important recent story about the Dearlove cabal’s interference in Brexit & democracy, simply because those accused suggested Russian hackers obtained the email information? We’ve reached a point in the US and UK whereby if those accused of something, claim the Russians are somehow involved in it becoming public, they’re immediately exonerated and the MSM lose interest.

    Russia has in recent days claimed that US has biolabs in Nigerian cities that have been responsible for spread of monkeypox.

    Now I’ve no view on the veracity of these claims about the US being indirectly responsible. But what is true is that monkeypox is endemic in rural Nigeria and the US has, according to reports, funded four DoD linked biolabs conducting research there.
    There were apparently 26 such labs in Ukraine conducting dangerous gain-of-function research on deadly pathogens. and that renowned expert in the field genetic research, Hunter Biden, was some sort of US DoD middle-man involved in the funding. Gain-of-function research can advance natural evolutionary processes and human-to-human transmission affinities that may take hundreds of thousands to millions of years to evolve naturally, if they evolve at all. While technically not bioweapon research per se, this research could certainly have such applications. This distinction is something our lousy legacy media have clung to, to scream that calling it bioweapon research is ‘fake news’ and Russian disinformation. US/UK MSM is putting the humanity in danger as there needs to be debate about all such crazy, dangerous research in places were controls, protocols and standards may not be up to scratch, risking catastrophic leaks.

    • Goose

      The bogus alleged Russian-links have obviously played a huge role in the discrediting of Assange.

      Virtually all these anti-Assange BTL comments in liberal media, stem from the huge media campaign that was mounted against him while he was stuck in the embassy and unable to properly defend himself. Take the bogus stories out of the equation, and his treatment is unfathomably atrocious for the sanctimonious human rights of others decrying west.
      As everyone who has ever known him states repeatedly; the notion someone as brave, opinionated and strong-willed as Assange would knowingly collude or take orders from any country’s elites, is utterly preposterous. That’d be the antithesis of everything he and WikiLeaks stand for.

    • Alyson

      It was Victoria Nuland’s ‘oh no Russia has got control of one of our germ warfare labs; they might use it’ comment, that drew attention to their existence. And then Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive being uploaded at the repairers, and the role of the Ukrainian Israeli billionaire Solnoysky, funding Hunter Biden and Zelensky’s television career, which came to light on the tail of these comments. Victoria Nuland’s ‘fuck Europe’ comment is also hardly reassuring.

  • Crispa

    Thread on Telegram re.
    The Sun reports that according to MI6 Putin is dead and his place is being taken by a double.

    As one comment put it.

    “Does anybody in this world believes anything British says?
    I lived there for few years and I barely heard the truth from anybody lol
    I think they lie by default”

      • Giyane


        Please could you tell BoJo that Brexit has been done, Covid done, Britain has been de-Corbynised , Ukraine destroyed and it now costs only £30 to fly from Glasgow to London so his services are no longer required and can he now please leave us alone.

        It appears that $40 billion of extremely dangerous weaponry has now arrived on the Black market in Europe which will cause Interpol and us 30 years of headaches from armed gangsters and criminal regimes.
        See Voltairenet.
        Quite enough US poodling from one man in one lifetime.

      • Crispa

        The Daily Star (and not The Sun) reports that according to MI6 Putin is dead and his place is being taken by a double.

        As one comment put it.

        “Does anybody in this world believes anything British says?
        I lived there for few years and I barely heard the truth from anybody lol
        I think they lie by default”.

        Same difference.

          • mark golding

            Historical manipulation does not wash or hold weight within the Ukraine struggle. From a number of different perspectives, such as defeating Putin in Ukraine Is vital to the future of democracy, the long standing British plot to create a grinding attrition of Russia by forcing a conflict is in fact an insurgency trap furnished by the US and NATO that is intended to bring down Putin’s regime by his own people, ordinary Russians; a heavy disruption to the Russian elite and a major contraction of living conditions for the Russian middle-class. The ruse is a combination, a mix planned to last long enough (with dollars and weapons) for Russians to rise up to overthrow Putin and install a Yeltsin-like President more sympathetic to the West. The trap has similarities to one the CIA laid for Moscow four decades ago, by arming the mujahideen to fight the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan.

            This Ukraine crisis expresses the clash of two mega forces shaping the world order. One is the baton handed to America by Britain to perpetuate the long-standing assertion of hegemony vis-à-vis all other states esp. China.

            Presidents Putin and Xi (as well as many in the West) talk often and pleasurably of the decline of the US and the fracturing of the West and it’s corrupt institutions, especially since the 2008 North Atlantic financial crisis. Yet what is striking about the US and the West’s response to Russia’s invasion is how forcefully the US has rallied other western states and importantly, western multinational corporations, this to isolate a prominent G20 state and former G8 member.

            To understand US fears of a preeminent China and her friendship with Russia “without limits” – I found it useful to carefully listen to Secretary Antony Blinken on U.S. policy toward China:

          • Bayard

            By “good”, I take it you mean “conforming to the official narrative”. Otherwise it’s just a lot of unsubstantiated assertions.

          • Giyane

            Mark Golding

            Insurgency trap.

            What’s not to like about a train full of goodies passing through your country.
            Israel was a transport link between East and West . They rebuilt their temple on the proceeds, and then got destroyed by the Roman Empire in spite of all their profit.

            The US Empire cannot sustain the hypocrisy of its colonialism except by silencing its critics. European socialism has been put into special measures using Nuland’s neonaZis. The target of this war is Yurp, not Russia.

            But the yanks do want the profit from selling the Chinese goodies after Russia and China have provided the transport infrastructure free of charge.The purpose of thiis war is regime change in Europe to foaming Right wing Conservatism like Gove and Patel.

            US greed should take note of the prophecy in the Gospels that ‘ within this generation not one stone of this temple of Mammon will be standing on another’ .

            Imho Right wing Conservatism that refuses to care about people will be made to care.
            We are humans. They should listen to their Book. It’s all in there.

          • Natasha

            Why does this “Emeritus Professor of Russian History” airbrush out of sight Yanukovych, the 2014 revolution and the resultant Mink Agreements? He offers us this onesided history instead writing :-

            “[…] In the present century [Ukraine’s looser politics] have given rise to presidential electoral contests won by candidates who wanted close ties with the European Union and an open democratic system under the rule of law. Under Volodymyr Zelensky this orientation was consolidated.”

        • Pears Morgaine

          I’m sure most countries* have a strange paper like The Star or the National Enquirer which publish bizarre stories for amusement. It would be a mistake to believe that they represent the majority views or values of the population.

          *Those that have a free press.

          • Jm

            Yeah you’re right.. they’re called the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

          • Tom Welsh

            Ah, a “free press”. What a beautiful dream! A few scraps from the past… (Please note the dates).

            “To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted so as to be most useful, I should answer, ‘by restraining it to true facts and sound principles only.’ Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. I will add that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false”.
            — Thomas Jefferson, (in a letter to John Norvell, 14 June 1807)

            “There is no such a thing in America as an independent press, unless it is out in country towns. You are all slaves. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to express an honest opinion. If you expressed it, you would know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150 for keeping honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for doing similar things. If I should allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, I would be like Othello before twenty-four hours: my occupation would be gone. The man who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street hunting for another job. The business of a New York journalist is to distort the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread, or for what is about the same — his salary. You know this, and I know it; and what foolery to be toasting an “Independent Press”! We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks. They pull the string and we dance. Our time, our talents, our lives, our possibilities, are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes”.
            — John Swinton (1829–1901), Scottish-American journalist, newspaper publisher, and orator.

            “Freedom of the press in Britain means freedom to print such of the proprietor’s prejudices as the advertisers don’t object to”.
            — Hannen Swaffer (British journalist) 1928

            “The press today is an army with carefully organized arms and branches, with journalists as officers, and readers as soldiers. But here, as in every army, the soldier obeys blindly, and war-aims and operation-plans change without his knowledge. The reader neither knows, nor is allowed to know, the purposes for which he is used, nor even the role that he is to play. A more appalling caricature of freedom of thought cannot be imagined. Formerly a man did not dare to think freely. Now he dares, but cannot; his will to think is only a willingness to think to order, and this is what he feels as his liberty”.
            — Oswald Spengler, “The Decline of the West” Vol. II, trans. C.F. Atkinson (1928), p. 462

            “…I have given my whole life to newspapers. I am convinced that they have abandoned their functions, and in an abject and ignominious manner, in the present war. Nine-tenths of them, and even more than nine-tenths, print the official blather without any attempt to scrutinize it… It is a disgraceful spectacle, but I do not believe that anything can be done about it. Roosevelt has taken the press into camp as certainly has he has taken the Supreme Court. It has ceased altogether to be independent and has become docilely official”.
            — The diary of H. L. Mencken, June 10, 1944

            “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one”.
            — A.J. Liebling (“Do you belong in journalism?”, The New Yorker, 14 May 1960)

      • Neil

        Pears, let me try to explain. The Daily Star says Freddie Starr ate my hamster. This is patently untrue. The Daily Star is British. Therefore everything that appears in a British newspaper is a lie.

        What is it about the watertight logic of this argument that you don’t understand?

  • mark golding

    On a lateral thought, former President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum, was sentenced in November 2021 to eight years in prison on dodgy corruption charges. Rafael relocated to Belgium (Brazilian wife) and given asylum – helped, as announced recently by Correa’s lawyers, by a denial from Belgium to an extradition request engineered by Washington.

    Further in a bid to stop Colombian left-wing presidential candidate, Gustavo Petro, surfing to victory on the ‘Pink Tide’ of left-wing wins sweeping across South America, off-the-record intelligence suggests CIA handlers have cooked the election audit software and/or Petro is in grave danger.

    “Pink Tide” preview by director of the Andes, Gimena Sanchez

  • Neil

    Just wondering what Mark, Stevie boy, Giyane, Bayard, LaGuerre and all the other usual suspects have to say about the cctv footage of Russians shooting the unarmed civilians at the car dealership near Kyiv? Still fake? CGI? Paid actors? Bucha war crimes still all a lie? Ukraine’s civilians still have nothing to fear from Russia’s army? It was ok because the noble Russian soldiers were only dealing with Nazis the way Nazis deserve to be dealt with?

    “Plyats’s daughter Yulia told CNN that she cannot bring herself to watch the video footage of her father being murdered.

    “I can’t watch it now. I will save it to the cloud and leave it for my grandchildren and children,” she said. “They should know about this crime and always remember who our neighbors are.”

          • Neil


            “I asked a question it wasn’t a statement.”

            I took your comment as being serious. My mistake. I seem to have accidentally stumbled into the sixth form debating society.

        • nevermind

          Well Neil, it is you who is comparing one single incident of murder as proof that all other attrocities that happened in Ukraine must be equally done by Russia.
          Btw. where were you 3 years ago, where you equally aghast when we bombed and instigated fake chem attacks in Syria?

      • Jimmeh

        You mean “deal with” people you don’t care for, by zip-tying their wrists and shooting them in the head? You think that’s an OK way to carry on?

        Even if they were “nazis”, it’s not the place of a conscripted Russian infantryman to make that determination, and then pass and execute a “sentence”.

        • pretzelattack

          i think you have fallen for propaganda, if you think such behavior is typical for Russian forces in Ukraine, and is atypical of the neo nazis in Ukraine.

          • Jimmeh

            I don’t think it’s typical of either. But you spoke of “dealing with” nazis, by which you meant Ukrainians. Nobody has the right to “deal with” someone just because they think they are a nazi.

    • Bayard

      What CCTV footage? All I could see was two stills. In any case, all we can determine from the CCTV footage of some men shooting other men, if that’s what the footage showed, is that some men shot some other men. ALL the other information, we have to take the Daily Telegraph’s word for, that the men doing the shooting were Russians, that the men being shot were unarmed civilians, that it was a car dealership outside Kiev (bicycle shop according to the Telegraph, although it does look more like a car dealership). Unless you can come up with some other evidence than the word of the Daily Telegraph, that beacon of honesty and truth, I am afraid I am going to say that I find this completely unconvincing.

      • john

        Agree completely. I just had to take a look, hoping it wasn’t so, and I was not disappointed.
        Total lack of any evidence, a dramatic piece of crap journalism.
        Do lies have power?? Ultimately no they do not.

      • Dawg

        Yes, the Russian ambassador, Andrei Kelin, gave the same kind of response when Clive Myrie confronted him with the CCTV video in a BBC interview:

        Myrie was insistent that the video was real and that the same Russian soldiers were filmed immediately after the event. Kelin refused to acknowledge any of it. Myrie sounded very confident in the fact it has all been independently verified. By whom, though? He then brought up photos of the Bucha corpses, evoking the same blanket denials from Kelin.

        How do we decide who’s lying? As usual, a lot of things are relevant, including the quality of evidence, independent corroboration, reliability of the source, etc. However it appears from the comments here that underlying political sympathies are almost always the most decisive factor. Which means this isn’t much of a debate: it’s just cheerleading.

        • Neil


          “How do we decide who’s lying?”

          First you have the footage. You could then have a Russian version of Bellingcat exposing somehow that the footage is fake, that the premises shown is not where it purports to be, etc. This hasn’t happened. Then you have the fact that one of the victims has been named. Russian Bellingcat can do some digging to show this person never existed, was never the caretaker of that dealership, or that he indeed exists but is still alive! Aha! Gotcha! Again, this hasn’t happened. You then have friends and family of the victims being interviewed on camera. Russian Bellingcat digs again and finds that these supposed friends are actually actors, or better still, shows photos of them from a Ukrainian secret service military academy file. Ouch!

          Again, none of this exposure has happened, so you could reasonably conclude that the report is true, or you could simply refuse to believe it in the face of strong evidence simply because it contradicts what you wish to believe and you don’t like that uncomfortable feeling of being wrong, you just want to be right all the time because being right gives you a sense of power and boosts your fragile ego.

          • john

            Errr Neil, I almost bust out laughing when I saw the watchman or whatever acting school he belongs to, limping along after being shot at close range with a military round. You mean that footage?

          • Bayard

            “First you have the footage”

            Which shows almost nothing, certainly not what you and the BBC says it shows. You could then have a Russian version of Bellingcat exposing somehow that the footage is fake, that the premises shown is not where it purports to be, etc.

            “This hasn’t happened”

            How do you know? anything like that would, like RT, be banned from our screens. Anyway, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

            “Then you have the fact that one of the victims has been named.”

            And you know that this is true how?

            “Again, this hasn’t happened.”

            See above

            “You then have friends and family of the victims being interviewed on camera. Russian Bellingcat digs again and finds that these supposed friends are actually actors, or better still, shows photos of them from a Ukrainian secret service military academy file.”


            “Again, none of this exposure has happened, so you could reasonably conclude that the report is true,”

            No you couldn’t, to conclude that this footage is true, you would have first, like Neil, to believe it was true.

            “or you could simply refuse to believe it in the face of strong evidence”

            What evidence, the word of the BBC?

            “you don’t like that uncomfortable feeling of being wrong, you just want to be right all the time because being right gives you a sense of power and boosts your fragile ego.”

            Indeed you do.

          • Neil

            John, ah, of course it was fake. No one has ever been hit by a bullet and survived. All it took was your razor sharp deductive skills to open our eyes to this unassailable truth.

            Anyway, glad you found the old man’s death amusing.

          • Neil

            Bayard, thank you. Thank you for your posts. You always (though unwittingly) provide much appreciated support for my arguments. I mean, I’m not the sharpest pencil in the case but you always make me look better than I am when you post comments like that.

          • JohnA

            Considering Zelensky freed from prison all sorts of criminals, murderers, child molesters etc., and then liberally issued all manner of firearms to anyone who wanted them in Kiev and elsewhere in Ukraine, it is quite possible, that these car dealership shootings were some kind of local criminal enterprise by such freed scum, armed to the teeth, courtesy of Zelensky.
            Note I say quite possible. Who can tell in the fog of war and propaganda?

      • Neil

        So, we’ve got 1. the caretaker and his boss were Nazis and deserved to die, and 2. Stick your fingers in your ears and bleat “Fake news!”

        Any more?

        • Bayard

          If you put something up that has no substantiation apart from your own assertion and that of a newspaper, you can hardly be surprised if people decline to believe it. Do you honestly believe that the Daily Telegraph is morally incapable of telling a lie?
          If I were to say that the photographs showed members of the Ukrainian Army shooting an unarmed civilian, would you believe me? If not why not? I have as much evidence as you. Unless you maintain that no UA troops have shot any unarmed civilians, it is just as likely that these soldiers are from the UA as it is that they are Russians, or US or any country, really, with light-skinned inhabitants.

          • Neil

            Ah, and along comes Bayard with “it was in the telegraph therefore if you believe it you must believe everything the telegraph has ever printed”.

            So it’s 1. the caretaker and his boss were Nazis and deserved to die, and 2. Stick your fingers in your ears and bleat “Fake news!” and 3. logical spaghetti.

            Any more?

          • Bayard

            “it was in the telegraph therefore if you believe it you must believe everything the telegraph has ever printed”.

            They didn’t do logic at your school, did they? If the Telegraph is not morally incapable of telling a lie, then it means the Telegraph is capable of telling a lie. From that it follows that you cannot automatically believe anything written in the Telegraph. It does not follow that if you believe one thing, you have to believe everything else, just as it does not follow that if you disbelieve one thing, you have to disbelieve everything else. There is a difference between doubt and disbelief that appears to have escaped you.

          • Neil


            “There is a difference between doubt and disbelief that appears to have escaped you.”

            As the fact that this has nothing to do with the telegraph, having been reported in media all over the world, has entirely escaped you.

          • Bayard

            Unfortunately although repetition may make something more likely to be believed, it does not make it any more the truth. Thousands of people used to believe the Earth went round the Sun. Unless some of the other news outlets were able to come up with some better evidence than their own unsupported word that this video showed more than some anonymous men dressed as soldiers apparently shooting some other men dressed as civilians next to a building that could be a car dealership, but is unlikely to be a bicycle shop, then any reasonable viewer who is not simply wanting to confirm their own prejudices would be justified in disbelieving it. If some of those news outlets have been able to do that, then why don’t you link to that, rather than the almost completely evidence-free Telegraph article?

          • Ultraviolet

            Things are often reported in multiple media outlets but all originating from the same single source, most usually a press association report. So multiple media covering it does not tell us as much as Neil thinks it does.

            I have no idea what actually happened in the clip under discussion. But the cast iron proof that the official narrative on Syria was completely fabricated means I start from a position of deep scepticism about anyone telling me who I should hate.

    • mark cutts

      Is that the video where a group of soldiers turned up in a white Transit Van with aload of Z’s marked on it ( not very clever for cover is it?)
      being as Ukranian fighters could be anywhere and blow the van to smithereens.

      I have to take all the propaganda in this conflict with a large pinch of salt.

      Clive Myrie (he from the school of Rooftop Reporting from the middle of untouched City Centres, as many MSM outlets do) citing evidence that he knows it’s true because some people heard gunfire – therefore it must be true etc etc,

      Most of the MSM stuff appears to come from ‘sources’ but unnamed ones; but my view is what they mean is the Ukrainian government told them and if so the Russians must always be lying.

      We would all be able to judge for ourselves but unfortunately RT is banned in The Free World which being as the Yanks don’t do irony is ironic.

      You’re free to think for yourself is a democratic mantra.

      No it isn’t and never was.

      • Neil

        “unfortunately RT is banned in The Free World”

        If only we had unfettered access to free media like those lucky Russians.

        • Bayard

          That’s a classic bit of whataboutery. At least the Russians aren’t constantly mouthing off about a “free press”.

          • Neil

            “That’s a classic bit of whataboutery.”

            Thank you. I learned from the masters.

          • Neil


            “You’re sliding the forum into your own level of nonsense Neil.”

            For nonsense I really can’t compete with actors and Nazis and bullets being unfailingly fatal and z on a vehicle proving it can’t be Russian and one of the newspapers being the telegraph proves it can’t be true, etc etc.

          • Pears Morgaine

            ‘Z’s painted on the van to stop it being shot up by their own side. The same reason the Russian aggressors painted ‘Z’s and ‘V’s on their tanks and other vehicles. Not rocket science.

            Russian military ammunition is 5.45mm. You read that right, 0.215″, about the same size as an airgun pellet. Even smaller and less powerful than the 5.56mm NATO round. Designed to wound not to kill, the idea being that once wounded the soldier will stop fighting.

            The useful idiots have to decide if this incident was a fake or if the man was a Nazi and deserved to be shot in the back and left to bleed to death. Please provide evidence.

          • Bayard

            “The useful idiots have to decide if this incident was a fake or if the man was a Nazi and deserved to be shot in the back and left to bleed to death. Please provide evidence.”

            The burden of proof lies with the accuser, i.e. those who say that the video waved in front of the Russian ambassador is of a Russian soldier shooting an unarmed civilian, not those that point out that the video itself only shows two men in military uniform pointing rifles at two others and one of them falling over. Without further evidence, which it is entirely for the accuser to provide, that is all we can take away from this video. So far all we have had is unsubstantiated assertions followed by insults for not accepting them as truth: the “evidence” presented being “I believe this is true, so you should too, otherwise you are a Commie/Putinbot/useful idiot” (delete as appropriate).

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            The size of the bullet doesn’t really matter, Pears – it’s how fast it’s going that counts, as this contributes most to its kinetic energy. There’s a rather large difference between the energy of the compressed air in an airgun and the chemical energy in the cordite or whatever in a firearm round. Nine-mil parabellum pistol ammo can easily kill if it hits a vital organ, and also if it hits a reasonably large artery in say an arm or leg and Quikclot dressings aren’t applied pronto. Ruskie 5.45x39mm ammo is around two-and-a-half times more powerful. It may be slightly less powerful than NATO 5.56x45mm, but that’s like saying that alligators are slightly less powerful than saltwater crocodiles.

            Fun fact: Firearm cartridges were essentially invented in 1809 by a Scots Presbyterian minister and part-time chemist who most people have never heard of called the Rev. Alexander Forsyth, who wanted to shoot snipe without them being spooked when he lit the powder in his flint-lock.

          • Pears Morgaine

            Muzzle energy 7.62mm NATO = 3,470 Joules.

            Muzzle energy 5.54mm Russian = 1,464 Joules.

            Ever since these tiny rounds were introduced the PBI have ben complaining about the lack of hitting power.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Pears. Why did the Soviet high command ask Mr Kalashnikov to design the AK-74 (5.45×39 ammo) to replace the AKM (7.62×39 ammo) as the standard Soviet infantry rifle in the 70’s? Did they suddenly become concerned about not killing enemy combatants? If so, that’s hard to square with them managing to slot around 10% of the entire Afghan population in the 80’s.

            I presume that PBI stands for ‘poor bloody infantry’ which, if so, isn’t surprising because they’ll complain about most things – though I agree that both 5.45×39 and 5.56×45 NATO have poor stopping power against troops wearing modern body armour. NATO 7.62×51 rounds in DMRs are better for this, which in many NATO armies are carried by at least one squad member.

            Anybody claiming that the video must be fake because a bullet from a 5.45×39 round would kill instantly if it hit anywhere on the body either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or is being deliberately misleading – but that doesn’t mean that 5.45×39 & 5.56×45 rounds aren’t serious shit, as the parents of the murdered schoolkids in Uvalde know all too well.

          • Giyane

            Too much information on all sides thank you. Mea culpa, if you want to find war porn, look on the discussions about wars.

            The US has a disease about guns and wars, which allows it to send $40 billion of weapons to a peaceful continent, just to see what happens. You never know, maybe the Europeans are more civilised than the Africans, the South Asians, or the South Americans, where they send weapons of war.

            Actually wherever you flood with booze or drugs creates addiction, and wherever you flood with weapons makes war.

            If the US is so manically obsessive about ‘bullet size envy’, why don’t we send them a macrobore nuke as a catharsis for their strange psychosis about starting macho wars?

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            I’m not sure that detailing the effects that assault rifle rounds can have on the human body can be termed ‘war porn’, Giyane. Is that not glorifying war for people’s titillation? I’m also not sure that we in the UK sending the US a ‘macrobore nuke’ (whatever one of them is) is a good idea, as it would likely soon result in hundreds of 300+ kiloton Trident II warheads heading our way at several times the speed of sound.

          • Neil


            “How quaint that you feel the Western media never lies”

            Speaking of nonsense …

      • Bayard

        “Is that the video where a group of soldiers turned up in a white Transit Van with aload of Z’s marked on it ?”

        No, Dawg has a link to the video in the comments above. There is very little evidence to show that it is what the BBC says it is.

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      “Just wondering what Mark, Stevie boy, Giyane, Bayard, LaGuerre and all the other usual suspects have to say about the cctv footage of Russians shooting the unarmed civilians at the car dealership near Kyiv?”

      I don’t know who did what because I have no reliable sources.

      • Neil

        I have seen video of a man they call Putin, supposedly president of a country called Russia, claimed to be at war with a country called Ukraine. I have no way of knowing any of these people exist. Who can tell if these sources which appear on my phone’s screen are reliable?

        But, oh look, guys, an article in the telegraph about Kissenger saying Ukraine should give up territory. Sooo true!

        • Squeeth

          Running Blind (1979) ex-agent sent off to recover a MacGuffin nabbed by the KGB but it’s all a bluff, the KGB is supposed to escape with it and waste hundreds of scarce scientific man-hours before finding out that it is worthless.

          • Squeeth

            The synopsis of Running Blind is a description of Habbakuk (late of this parish) and his comments. I think it fits other posters too; hardly any original views or information, merely picking flies out of other people’s comments. Things have changed since the 70s, that implicit support of nazis has become respectable. In the civil war-colonial war in US-Ukronazi putschland you are for nazis or against them, everything flow from that.

        • Yuri K

          Probably, not reliable. Because Putin never said Russia is at war with Ukraine. He calls it “Special Operation”.

          • Neil


            “Putin never said Russia is at war with Ukraine. He calls it “Special Operation”.”

            As reported in the telegraph. MSM lies!

          • Neil


            “It would be foolish to trust someone who has already told you they are going to lie to you.”

            Have to say, I’d put more trust in such a person than someone who indignantly denies something, such as they are about to launch an unprovoked attack on a neighbouring country, and then promptly does just that.

          • Bayard

            Ah, the military strategy of telling your enemy exactly what you intend to do. As employed by no successful generals anywhere, at any time.

    • Tom Welsh

      That is a very good hour or so of clear, instructive discussion. I highly recommend it. With all the talk that is on the Web these days, I am very discriminating in what I listen to. But in this case I felt that every minute was well spent.

          • Tom Welsh

            I think she is indeed Vanessa Beeley’s peer. Both are absolutely superb. Worth much more than all the West’s “professional” (insider) foreign correspondents put together.

          • Squeeth

            Oh I don’t know, some of them are experts at standing on a hotel roof hundreds of miles away from danger and blaming the victims.

          • Tom Welsh

            Don’t be ridiculous, Peers. The UK and the USA (not to mention France, Canada, and Australia at least) have FAR more brutal regimes. Mr Assad’s forces have killed thousands of people, most of them murderous, cruel, heart-eating, Christian-crucifying, pilot-burning terrorists. What would you do if you were a head of state that was suddenly invaded by the USA’s ghastly proxy soldiers? Would you really fold your hands, run away, and allow your country’s peaceful, tolerant democracy to be taken over by something very close to Saudi Arabia’s murderous theocracy, and decidedly worse than the Taliban?

            The “West” has deliberately and cold-bloodedly killed many millions of people in foreign countries – the great majority of them civilians. If there are any “brutal regimes” in the world today they are the “Western” nations, most of which belong to (or aspire to belong to) NATO.

            Syria is at least as democratic as any of the Western nations, and has a history of over a thousand years of religious toleration and relative peace – unlike the USA, which has been at war for almost its entire existence, despite never being threatened except by Britain in 1812, or Britain, whose entire history is just war after war after war.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            If the Assad regime had fallen in 2014 or 2015, Tom, Syria would have been unlikely to have become ‘something very close to Saudi Arabia’s murderous theocracy’ because, whilst the Shias in Saudi are oppressed to a significant extent, they are not generally slaughtered en masse, which is what would have likely resulted if ISIS were to have gained control of Syria – having supplanted al-Nusra Front and the ‘moderate’ jihadis in the Syrian National Army by virtue of being more organised, more ruthless and less prone to splintering – and started Camp Speicher-ing all adult male Alawites, other Shias and quite probably Christians as well.


            None of the above means that the Assad regime is equivalent to Western democracies, though (and especially not to France & Canada), it just means that it’s (probably a lot) less bad than the realistic alternative; and it doesn’t mean that Ms Bartlett & Ms Beeley aren’t essentially propagandists, or apologists for war crimes committed by the Assad regime and the Russian forces in Syria.

          • Bayard

            “apologists for war crimes committed by the Assad regime and the Russian forces in Syria.”

            Are we talking about real war crimes here or simply the “war crimes” concocted by the Western press? If it was the latter, Bartlett and Beeley are in a “have you stopped beating your wife?” bind. The wife-beating is taken as a given, just as the presence of the war crimes is.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            The likely fake war crimes aren’t being concocted by the Western press, Bayard – they’re just being reported by them as real as they lack the time and/or the inclination to investigate further, with one or two honourable exceptions:


            All sides in Syria are almost certainly committing war crimes. Some of the White Helmets are likely faking them as well – e.g. by burying cute kids that they’ve covered in ash and fake blood in the rubble and retrieving them a few hours later for the cameras – because they’re propagandists too. Vanessa Beeley has called several times for all White Helmets to be treated as legitimate targets of war – a request with which Russian pilots have been more than happy to fulfil with their ‘double-tap’ strikes. So she’s not only apologising for war crimes – she’s actively encouraging them.

      • Peter

        @ Pears Morgaine

        Self-awareness is not your strong point Pears.

        Commenting on a blog titled ‘The Power of Lies’ and seeking to smear one of the best and bravest journalists out there by quoting the scurrilous C4N is most certainly not a good look.

          • Peter

            @ Pears Morgaine

            “Is that all yuh got George?”

            By its own admission the linked C4N story is made up:

            “We’ve tried to contact Ms Bartlett without success, so it’s not 100 per cent clear what she means by this, but our best guess is … “

            Prior to that sentence I agree with all the quotes attributed to Eva Bartlett.

            I wouldn’t expect C4N to be pleased about journalism that contradicts its MSM propaganda. Likewise yourself Pears, you seem to be a pretty ardent promoter of it.

            Purple ties and pink socks do not a good journalist make.

            Nor do lies:


          • Peter

            For some reason the above Guardian url links to a messed up archived version of the article. If you copy and paste the url it will link to the original Guardian version.

          • Pears Morgaine

            “We’ve tried to contact Ms Bartlett without success”

            What that means is that they’ve offered Barltlett the opportunity to defend herself and she’s declined. Not difficult to see why either. How do you twist that into an admission that C4 made it all up?

          • Bayard

            “What that means is that they’ve offered Barltlett the opportunity to defend herself and she’s declined.”

            No it doesn’t. “We’ve offered Bartlett the opportunity to defend herself and she’s declined.” means that, which is what they would have said, had they done it. What it means is what it says, that they have failed to get in contact, either through communication difficulties, or, more likely, because it was TFD (not a very high bar, these days), or they knew bloody well what Bartlett would say and didn’t want to go there so didn’t try very hard. Why the hell would they say “We’ve tried to contact Ms Bartlett without success” if it was really the case that they’d offered Bartlett the opportunity to defend herself and she’d declined? This from an organisation that is keen to show Ms Bartlett in a bad light, why would they be resorting to euphemisms about her?

      • john

        Poor Channel 4, their journalism got nipped in the bud during the miners’ strike in Thatcher’s time, when they agreed not to broadcast footage of the police attacking and beating up miners at a demonstration, and instead handed over the tapes to the home office. Their street creds are in shreds since that became public years later.

        • DunGroanin

          Krishna Gurumurtthi telling Jess Phillips – the self admitted willing ‘stabber in the front’ of JC – to put on her straight face on, as she was wildly celebrating her party’s defeat quaffing champagne, at the general election and live on tv!
          Need we say anymore about C4 DS apparatchiks? All millionaires now.

  • kashmiri

    “Modern society is not really much more rational than the Middle Ages.”

    Of course it’s not. The intelligence of our species has not significantly changed in the last 20,000 years or so, and that’s a scientific fact.

    Cavemen believed in supranatural beings who were responsible for earthquakes, thunderstorms, diseases, and death. Modern cavemen believe in all-powerful “them”, gods called “Bill Gates”, “George Soros”, “NWO”, who are told to bring plagues and wars. Same level of intellectual development.

    • Tom Welsh

      There is persuasive evidence that human intelligence has declined significantly in the past 40,000 years, possibly due to the relative lack of serious threats to survival and reproduction. This trend accelerated suddenly in the 19th century and thereafter, as improved hygiene, sanitation, diet, and medicine slashed infant death rates and allowed far more people to survive until they, in turn, had children. With humanity as a whole just as with individuals, the more is done for us, the less we are capable of doing for ourselves. See, for example, Edward Dutton’s books “The Genius Famine” (with Bruce Charlton) and “At Our Wits End” (with Michael Woodley of Menie).

      What cave men believed and what modern people believe is a matter of culture and religion rather than intelligence. I am agnostic, but I know of several people far more intelligent than I am who believe in God. It’s not a question that is decidable by thinking alone.

      In any event, as Robert A. Heinlein insightfully remarked, “Man is not a rational animal but a rationalizing animal”. That follows from the basic facts of our biology, and is one reason why no computer system can simulate the workings of the human mind.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        Infant mortality in the 19th century and earlier didn’t select for children with low IQ, Tom – it preferentially culled those with poor or dysfunctional immune systems, often due to malnutrition. How do you know that your friends / acquaintances that believe in God (or at least claim to) are far more intelligent than you? Have you all done the same IQ tests under controlled conditions? Anyway, for balance, it’s good to have an unlapsed agnostic on here.

        • Tom Welsh

          It wasn’t mainly children with lower IQs who were selected out; it was the children of parents (or rather potential parents) with lower IQ. Under much harder conditions, only the rather capable managed to survive to have children and bring them up successfully. Moreover, this mechanism is reinforced by a degree of positive feedback – over time, as the more intelligent survived to have larger families, their offspring became gradually (slightly) more intelligent and capable.

          Now that mechanism has gone into reverse, as one can see just by going for a walk anywhere.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Tom. Most work in the 19th century and before wasn’t much like most work today – it was hard manual labour. The people most capable of doing it, and being able to support their families, were the physically strong and healthy, so these particular traits were selected for. Other factors were selected for as well. For example, sociability: if you were sociable, people were more likely to be willing to help you if you fell on hard times. By contrast, analytical intelligence, which often leads to neurosis and/or depression, wasn’t selected for as much.

            Nowadays things are different. For example, plenty of well-paid jobs these days can be done, and are probably best done, by people who are seriously autistic. That’s a trait which is beginning to become selected for, because one thing that hasn’t changed very much is that being seen to have wealth is a good way of attracting potential mates. Following on from my previous comment, how do you know that the people you encounter on your walks are becoming less intelligent? Have you given them all IQ tests under controlled conditions etc?

          • Pears Morgaine

            Child mortality in the 19th century had nothing to do with intelligence but, as now, is associated with poverty. If you were wealthy enough to afford decent accommodation and a good diet your children stood a much better chance of survival then if you were poor, living in overcrowded sub-standard housing and malnourished.

        • Johnny Conspiranoid

          You have to be stupid to believe in IQ tests. They depend on finding something to test which cannot be improved on with practice and so,they say, must be a measure of ‘basic’ intelligence. Is there such a thing and if there is why would something that can’t be learnt be a measure of anyone’s ability to learn things?

          • Tom Welsh

            That, if you will forgive me for saying so, is a very confused comment indeed.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            IQ tests aren’t flawless measures of analytical intelligence, Johnny – being skewed towards favouring people who’ve received traditional educations – but as measures of the capacity for learning, they’re probably the best thing we have.

      • Bayard

        I can see that there is an argument to be made that, once society becomes settled and peaceful, and intelligence is no longer needed to prevent you dying an early and violent death (killed by predators, both human and other animal species), humanity no longer faced an evolutionary pressure to become more intelligent. However, that process stopped quite some time ago and it is is probably too early for the modern trend of making safety legislation aimed at the dimmest members of our society to have started having an effect.

      • Squeeth

        ” the relative lack of serious threats to survival and reproduction” apart from the US empire you mean ?!?

    • T

      Conspiracy theories like those have spread because there is now so little trust in ruling elites. I do not see abiding trust in them and their media arms as a marker of high intellect.

      • Bayard

        When was the golden age when the people trusted the ruling elites? Certainly it must have been before the advent of records.

  • mark golding

    Increasingly and progressively we tune in to Biden’s Blinken overtones of protecting a fractured and irreparably political International?? rules based order advocated by a small number of countries (5 eyes alliance etc) and intended to preserve peace and forestall chaos. In reality this farcical, novel and vague description of how the world should work contains a broken legal core that renders it ineffective, futile and impotent when set side by side to the International rule of law.

    Why the “rules based order is farcical and absurd is obvious, in fact, glaringly obvious when absorbed from the event horizon that records actions, designs, plots such as the US/UK 2003 Iraq War, for example, that did not attain the approval of the UN Security Council. The Yugoslav Wars were NATO-led missions interfering in the domestic affairs of non-NATO states, again without UN approval. And regime change in Libya was a result of unlawful mission creep.

    The general attitude of those who supported these interventions was that they were “illegal but legitimate.” America, frankly, was allowed to break the rules because it had good reasons to do so…

    This situation in the world caused by these belligerent powers remains increasingly challenging as major conflict potential increases.

    This stubborn reluctance of some Western states led by the United States to admit the reality of the forming multipolar world and their strive to continue imposing their will by using military, economic and propaganda levers can only be resolved by you the intelligent humans of this world, entangled, else, by way of nuclear world war and annihilation.

    • nevermind

      The way the 5 eyes are trying to outsilence each other when it comes to being stumm over a ‘broken legal core’, as Mark Golding so aptly pointed out, at the basis of Julian Assange ever morphing case.
      A case that does not really exist when one observes the many mistakes made from the beginning, Starmer taking the word of a prosecutor as gospel, when the EAW should have been deliberated by a Swedish judge, the fact that all other following actions were based on repressive, secret and unlawful conduct, from the moment he entered the Ecudorian embassy, to when they kidnapped him in a raid on the territory of said state, by means of an armed police mob, is plain to see

      Then there are the many judicial wrigglings by Baraitsers, the changed extradition case and more torturous harrassment to the point that Julian will be changed forever.
      Not a sign of any humanity when we see his wife Stella and his two boys being unable to see, touch or cuddle their dad, held in a max terrorist prison.
      There has never been any humanitarian intervention, it was always ugly unlawful conduct in all those countries the 5 eyes never got sanctioned or prosecuted for. End time is more of a possibility than peace time, a sad reality for all who claim to be intelligent .
      Freedom or clemency for Julian Assange. NOW!

    • Bayard

      Mark, is not the “international rules-based order” not simply a modern version of the Pax Britannica, where the Empire made the rules and its armed forces kept order?

      • mark golding

        Bayard – Interestingly the US Monroe Doctrine was enforced by Britain’s Royal Navy who at the time controlled most of the key maritime trade routes and enjoyed unchallenged sea power.

        Perhaps Austria was ironically correct when it declared the doctrine would grant “new strength to the apostles of sedition and reanimate the courage of every conspirator.”

        • mark golding

          Recently Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded to the current comments made by Blinken, who said that China posed “the most serious and long-term challenge” to the international order.

          Zhao responded by saying that Blinken’s policy speech was “full of lies” and that it was, in fact, the US that posed the biggest challenge to the world. He noted that the “rules-based international order” proposed by the US actually meant one based on “American rules,” which serve to uphold Washington’s interests and hegemony.

          • Bayard

            It seems that they are both right. The “order” in the “rules based international order” appears to be the same “order” as the Neues Ordnung of the Third Reich, an order produced by the domination of one society over everyone else. China is a threat to this, as Blinken correctly noted. Why he is correct is pointed out by Zhao.

      • Jams O'Donnell

        The ‘Rules based order’ is not even a thing. It’s just an excuse that the US uses to allow it to do anything it pleases. A fig-leaf, in other words, and one whose Autumn is on the way.

  • pretzelattack

    I saw some comments on that G article pushing the same old bullshit about Rape/Sexual assault, too. they treated Ellsberg with kid gloves in comparison to Assange. Is she supposed to render the decision by the first?

    • Tom Welsh

      It may be worth pointing out that Dr Ellsberg was very much “one of us” – at home in the Pentagon, the White House, and the RAND Corporation – whereas Mr Assange is the quintessential outsider’s outsider. Since what we are seeing “Western” governments indulge in is hatred of the outsider – the scapegoat, the foreigner, the Untermensch, Emmanuel Goldstein – it’s consistent (if horrible) that they have worked themselves up to such a pitch of frothing rage. In accusing Mr Assange of treason, they betray their own inner emotions. By cleaving to truth rather than the Project, he has made himself their unforgivable enemy.

      In olden times such transgressors were burned alive, or hanged, drawn and quartered – and the kind of people who today denounce Mr Assange as too ambitious, too attractive to women, too energetic and principled, or whatever, would have crowded in joyously to witness the spectacle.

    • Laguerre

      I can’t say I’m too sad about the death of a war journalist working for a right-wing TV channel. One of life’s chances if you do what he did.

        • Laguerre

          I don’t see the point. What’s Putin got to do with it? I just don’t wish to be deluged with the right-wing propaganda we get every day, so am not bothered if one of the propagators gets it.

          • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

            I watch BFMTV in an attempt to escape English-language media. France 24 displeased me with its negative coverage of the Catalan referendum. Reading up a bit just now on the origins of BFMTV, I note and concede that the channel has been open to criticism for being to the right (in practice, whether or not in intent). The personal views of the deceased 32-year old Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff are not immediately apparent. As far as I am concerned he was a brave young journalist risking his life to report the actuality of horrific events. — “Actuality”, of course, being neither right nor left.

          • mark golding

            The cold-blooded murder of a Reuter’s photographer and his driver, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh and the serious wounding of two children by 30mm canon fire from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters identified as ‘crazy horse’ in Al-Amin al-Thaniyah, New Baghdad on July 7th 2007 is resonant here.

            Julian Assange via WikiLeaks released a US military video named ‘Collateral Murder’ depicting this indiscriminate slaying.

            Today the US insanely continues its legal efforts to extradite Julian Assange held in Belmarsh high security prison, where he is remanded in seriously failing health, to face espionage allegations. Instructively and indeed enlightening, the detailed, 37-page US indictment against him makes no mention of this ‘Collateral Murder’ occurrence during the illegal Iraq insurgency.

            Collateral Murder: short version and contains distressing scenes.

          • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

            Mark. I am long familiar with this footage. It remains raw, shocking, heart-rending and, far from least, agonisingly dull-witted.

          • mark golding

            Heart-wrenching indeed Fearghas; despite attempts by the US military to paint van driver Saleh Matasher Tomal as subversive, he died and leaves behind his missus and four children including Sayad and Doaha who survived their wounds.

            Exposing this outrageous act this rare interview with Kristinn Hrafnsson (link) about his role in bringing to light the US attack on civilians in Iraq is essential brass tack fact and Syed Hamad Ali shrewdly exposes a compassionate soul within WikiLeaks, a sanctuary that must not fall into exile and ostracism…


          • Laguerre

            Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

            “brave young journalist risking his life to report the actuality of horrific events. — “Actuality”, of course, being neither right nor left.”

            “Actuality” here means your opinion, as the reporting is one-sided. In fact I watch BFMTV frequently too, but I don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s telling me the truth on Ukraine. It’s standard commercial right-wing stuff, much as you get commonly in Britain.

          • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

            Laguerre 09.44 –

            “‘Actuality’ here means your opinion, as the reporting is one-sided.”

            To be fair I am reasonably conversant with the distinction between ontology and epistemology. It all goes back to that painting by Magritte entitled “Ceci n’est pas une pipe!”

          • Laguerre

            Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

            “To be fair I am reasonably conversant with the distinction between ontology and epistemology.”

            Congratulations! You’re well-educated. It’s unfortunate that you are not able to put that education to use.

        • Brice_H

          BFMTV does not have very good reputation in France, very much on the right and defending commercial interests. On the other hand this man was just doing his job, he chose it knew the risks. Many others have died in Ukraine doing the same without their deaths being exploited for propaganda as his is at the moment.

    • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

      Detailed update on circumstances surrounding Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff’s death by shrapnel through humanitarian bus windscreen — given by immediate journalistic colleagues in Ukraine, Maxime Brandstaetter and Oksana Leuta (BFMTV interview, 5 June 2022) (in French) —

  • john

    Yesterday the Ukrainian Parliament fired their Human Rights Ombudsperson on the grounds that she was propagating lewd tales of rape, including minors of both genders, by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, NONE of which could be substantiated. In other words, she was lying.

    So OK that’s one thing, but then surprise surprise the Ukraine office of United Nations Human Rights Commission stood up in her defense on Twitter, chastising the Ukrainian Government in a high-handed fashion:
    “Dismissal of Ombudsperson Denisova is contrary to int standards, undermines independence of important human rights institution in #Ukraine. We call on authorities to take steps to ensure independence of Ombudsperson & abide by int standards in law&practice”

    The Commission’s Facebook page announces their mission: “Ukraine: Monitoring the devastating impact of the war on civilians”

    Their rep in Ukraine explains their MO on the ground: interviews, information from videos, trusted partners, and oh, wait, the Ukrainian Government! They have been there since 2014, but she does not mention the 8 years of carnage in the east of the country, only a recent trip she made around Kiev, where she was documenting possible war crimes by….you guessed it…the Russian armed forces!
    My gast is flabbered.

    • mark golding

      John I believe from military intelligence Lyudmyla Denisova’s dismissal is a British devised risk venture rebound courting public objection to her expulsion especially as her daughter, psychotherapist Oleksandra Kvitko, documents and treats victims of abuse committed by the Russian army.

      With the proviso that It is important to understand that sexual crimes during war are an instrument of genocide, an instrument of waging war without rules, albeit they cannot serve as illustrative material to inflame the emotions of the audience, an appeal has been launched to provide fact based information in a sensitive way on sexual crimes committed by the Russians in Ukraine.

      The media called on Lyudmila Denisova to correct communication about sexual crimes during the war: (link to Russian language)

      [ English translation ]

      • john

        Headline from the English version of the reference article:

        “Media workers called to Lyudmila Denisova to make a communication about the articles of evil in the hour of war”

        Followed by totally unsubstantiated and inchoate stuff about enemy (Russian) sexual assault.
        Not at all credible.

        As to the word salad you begin with. What does it mean, and what is the source please?

      • Bayard

        Both sides accuse each other of the same crimes. Why are we to assume that the Russians are lying, but the Ukranians aren’t?

        • john

          Sure, or others would favour the opposing side.
          But what flabbered my gast was the United Nations clearly taking the Ukrainian side against the Russians.
          Surely they should be objective in an armed conflict, favouring neither one side nor the other?

          • Bayard

            “Surely they should be objective in an armed conflict, favouring neither one side nor the other?”

            As they say in the property world, “location, location, location” and just where is the UN headquartered?

        • Ultraviolet

          Google makes for interesting reading on this subject.

          The BBC tells us,

          “Ukraine’s ombudsman for human rights, Lyudmila Denisova, was also sacked by Ukraine’s parliament. She was criticised for not organising humanitarian corridors and facilitating prisoner exchanges, as well as her handling of alleged rape cases against Russian soldiers, according to local media reports.”

          Which is utterly misleading for what it does NOT say about the reasons for her dismissal.

          Newsweek, however, is rather more informative. It confirms that

          “The move to dismiss Denisova came after outrage about the wording used in public reports about alleged sexual assaults committed by Russians, as well as the alleged dissemination in those reports of unverified information.”

          Moreover, it tells us that

          “Ukrainian media outlets and journalists signed an open letter in which they requested that reports concerning rape and sexual assault be “published with caution,” particularly when involving children… it is important to understand that sexual crimes during war are an instrument of genocide, an instrument of waging war without rules, but they cannot serve as illustrative material to inflame the emotions of the audience.”

          It appears from this that Ukrainian media, despite everything going on in their country at the moment, are being exponentially more responsible than any Western media.

    • ET

      Not just any professor, it’s Professor Tim Hayward who has written numerous pieces “about how we can know what is going on in the world when everything we hear is highly mediated, and when the media transmitting the information are subject to particular kinds of constraint whose purpose is not necessarily to permit a free flow of truth and reasoned argument.” He has written some very enlightening pieces about Syria and is involved in the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media.

      His blog is:
      It would appear that it has been decided it is time to deal with him. His blog is worth reading.

      • Tom Welsh

        An interesting contrast with a century ago, when universities worked properly.

        “Gentlemen, you are now about to embark on a course of studies which will occupy you for two years. Together, they form a noble adventure. But I would like to remind you of an important point. Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this, that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education”.
        — John Alexander Smith, Professor of Moral Philosophy, Oxford University, 1914.

        Today when a professor attempts to show his students an example of “talking rot”, they tell him that he is wrong and try to get him removed. Evidently the sole purpose of education has ceased to exist.

        I am reminded of the American professor of history who was explaining a certain historical event when he was rudely interrupted by a student in the lecture hall, who informed him that “That’s not how it was in the movie”.

    • mark golding

      Unusually Professor Tim Hayward spoke about the Douma chemical attack which is open to doubt and disputable. The professor might have competently relayed the events of March 22 2019 in Baghouz, Syria as reported in the New York Times.

      On that tragic day US warplanes murdered at least 80 unarmed women and children with 500 and 2,000-pound bombs. For three years, however, it was covered up by the US and its NATO allies until a devastating, 4,600-word article appeared based on US officers’ testimony, disclosed in the New York Times report.

      The testimony describes war crime allegations by a US military lawyer, Lt. Colonel Dean Korsak to Gene Tate a former naval officer working as an evaluator in the US Defense Department’s Independent Inspector General’s office.

      This atrocity in Syria again exposes the vindictive prosecution and interests behind the jailing of Julian Assange and the subsequent persecution and banishment of Korsak and Tate.

      Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union America and Britain have been given a military opening to wage war across the Middle East and it is clear Washington and Westminster have laid waste to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and beyond. Millions died in events that were covered up by the mass media but were witnessed by many people who can expose officials who carried out or are complicit in mass murder and war crimes.

      The Baghouz atrocity points to a broad official falsification of death tolls in Syria. From 2014 to 2019, as the US, Britain, France and other countries destroyed the IS enclave in Syria and Iraq, they called down 35,000 airstrikes. “Nearly 1,000 strikes hit targets in Syria and Iraq in 2019, using 4,729 bombs and missiles,” according to the Times report.

      However, “The official military tally of civilian dead in a single year is only 22, and the strikes from March 18th thru 22nd are nowhere on the list.”

      While Washington claimed it was killing only a handful of people in Syria, it was hiding reports on masses of people it had killed. The Pentagon was, the Times writes, “overwhelmed by the volume of civilian casualty claims reported by locals, humanitarian groups and the news media, and a backlog of civilian casualty assessment reports sat unexamined for months.”

    • Lapsed Agnostic

      Thanks for posting that Sarge. It seems that our brightest and best university students are increasingly not being taught how to think, but exactly what to think. I’m not sure that it will end well. Glad I never went down the academic teaching path – content with just being a lab rat until my current (semi)-retirement – because, for one snide throwaway comment, I might well have been, not just summarily fired, but referred to Prevent. Anyway, my favourite bit of the article was this:

      ‘Mariangela said she came away from the lecture thinking it “could be true” that the attack was faked, until she spoke to a Syrian friend’ – who presumably just happened to be in Douma at the time and showed her footage of helicopters with Syrian Arab Air Force markings dropping canisters containing a noxious gas that they’d filmed on their phone.

  • Crispa

    The BBC at present with its attacks on sceptical academics with Tim Hayward singled out is certainly leading the post-truth revolution. Jonathan Pie does not miss an opportunity to call out Johnson’s lying and there is a nice hatchet job in The Saker, which sums it all up really. “Quo Vadis Johnson?”

    But the central issue is how do we get back to “truth”? Not just in the media but in general – what is taught in the name of political education these days?

    • Tom Welsh

      Sorry, Crispa – the central value of truth is something easily lost, almost impossible to regain. Because its value is mainly a social one: if we all tell the truth, we shall be better, on the whole, as a group.

      But the spirit of the age is strictly individualist: everyone for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost. If you are not rich, that’s because you are lazy and stupid (and God has probably condemned you).

      There are several reasons for telling the truth, as much as in you lies. First, of course, religion. God commands us to tell the truth, as that is best for everyone. Second, even if you don’t believe in God, telling the truth is still best for us all. Third, being honest actually feels better. Fourth, in science and technology teams must be truthful, or all their work will be in vain. There are probably many other reasons, but you get the gist.

      Unfortunately, to be a habitual truth-teller by force of habit, it helps to have been brought up that way. The child of modern parents who tend to say whatever they think will be most profitable for them will have difficulty even understanding the possible value of truth.

      Also, in a society where many people lie as a standard tactic, telling the truth puts you at a great disadvantage unless and until you can assemble a group of like-minded truth-tellers. Such a group will inevitably gain by its internal truthfulness, but first it must be established. And at every stage, the individual who chooses to cheat and lie will enjoy a temporary advantage.

      The main reason, I think, for the decline of truthfulness is the spread (from the USA) of a culture that values money and power above all, and has discarded religion and morality in favour of the cult of Me.

      • andyoldlabour

        Tom Welsh

        I think your third and fifth paragraphs, have nicely summed up how and why I have increasingly become a morbidly cynical person the older I get. I no longer know who to trust or what to believe in. So many people simply go with the tidal flow mainstream, unquestioning, almost as if their eyes are shut. Yes, lies and cheating are on the increase, because they often give an advantage which is rarely punished, something which is almost encouraged by corrupt politicians.

        • Tom Welsh

          Yes, Bayard, very good point! In fact, that goes to the heart of the matter. As Sir Walter Scott put it in “Marmion” (1808), “Oh, what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive!” Honesty is by far the best policy – but only for the group. When everyone else is honest, simple game theory suggests that a cheating individual can gain great advantage; and that seems to be the case in reality.

          We evolved to live in small groups, where everyone would know everyone else. The larger our communities get, the easier it becomes for cheats and liars to prosper – a process that has culminated in our present-day political, business, and religious leaders.

          • Bayard

            “When everyone else is honest, simple game theory suggests that a cheating individual can gain great advantage; and that seems to be the case in reality.”

            However, once we have progressed to a society where everyone is a cheat and a liar, then the cheats and liars no longer have an edge. It may be that in such a society, it is the honest person who has an edge, as they become easier to deal with than the majority. When lies are the norm, they lose much of their power. The lie, that Assange put lives at risk by publishing unredacted documents, only works becasue their are still people who think that publications like the Guardian still always tell the truth.

  • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    The notion of “lies” premises a notion of “truth”. The personalistic relativism of our postmodernist society has, for better or worse, further nuanced these notions. Po-mo, as we well know, drags our anchor away from fixed truths – “There is no meta-narrative” (self-refuting statement?). Even the earlier humanist anchorage in “scientific” truth is under strain. This subjectivist drift leads to an increasingly fraught populace. ERICH FROMM’s 1942 book ‘Fear of Freedom’ (as I remember it) saw the collapse of certainties in 1930s Germany as ripening an increasingly bewildered and anguished society for rescue by a Leader who WAS certain. Fromm (1900-1980) looked to Freudianism as interpretative key. HERMAN DOOYEWEERD (who lived through the German occupation of the Netherlands), framed the perplexing issues within an analysis of “historicism” (if no objective norms can transcend passing time, then disoriented people may eventually look to a charismatic subjectivist “genius” for sure-footedness). In his book, ‘Roots of Western Culture: Pagan, Secular, and Christian Options’, Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) summarises as follows:

    « We have witnessed the unspeakably bloody and reactionary regime of nazism, the degenerate spiritual offspring of modern historicism. Totalitarian “racial” [volkse] ideals, inspired by the myth of “blood and soil,” reverted western culture to the dark night of the pagan nature religions. Moreover, these totalitarian ideals were backed by the military power of a mighty modern state. […] Science and art, child rearing and education, industry and technology, labour organizations and philanthropy – all were made subservient. […] Following the example of the mathematical and natural sciences, earlier humanistic theory had always searched for the universally valid laws that control reality. It constructed an “eternal order of natural law” out of the “rational nature of humankind.” This order was totally independent of historical development, and was valid for every nation at all times and in all places. […] But as a result of the polarity of its religious [ie ultimate] ground-motive, humanism veered to the other extreme after the French Revolution. Rationalistic humanism (in its view of mathematics and modern natural science) turned into irrationalistic humanism, which rejected all universally valid laws and order. It elevated individual potential to the status of law. […] When the Historical School attempted to understand the entire culture, language, art, jurisprudence, and the economic and social orders in terms of the historical development of an individual national spirit, it elevated the national character to the status of the origin of all order. […] Historicism robs us of our belief in abiding standards […] If everything is in historical flux and if the stability of principles is a figment of the imagination, then why prefer an ideology of human rights to the ideals of a strong race and its bond to the German soil?’ »

    Totalitarian regimes by definition do not recognize international law (or “truth”). This leads us to the highly relevant State analysis of the prolific contemporary Italian philosopher GIORGIO AGAMBEN (1942-). Agamben publically supports Julian Assange and has visited him in prison. A rich theme in Agamben’s political writing is the notion of the “homo sacer”. The latter denotes a person who the State traps in a legal no-man’s land, ie in a “state of exception”. No proof of guilt is forthcoming, but neither is any exoneration. Consider Guantanamo Bay. Consider Assange. Consider, to some degree, Craig Murray’s experience (and indeed that of Alex Salmond). And of course so many others currently in prison.

    The State retains the (totalitarian) prerogative to impose martial law. In which eventuality all normal law is suspended and civilians can be summarily incarcerated or (at worst) shot. Agamben’s pivotal insight is that the sovereign entity decreeing martial law is thereby by definition *above* the law, indeed *without* law (ex lex). As is also (albeit mockingly and ironically) the sacrificial victim, the desolate “homo sacer”.

    • mark golding

      “Martial law” is in a sense a misnomer. Martial law is not a law in the proper sense of the term. It is the exercise of the will of the military commander, who takes upon himself the responsibility of suspending ordinary law in order to ensure the safety of the state.

      During peacetime Martial Law in Britain is complicated by the Army act and does not invest the step with the force of law. It is in fact a prerogative of the crown and the Army Act states, “No man shall be fore-judged or subjected in time of peace to any kind of punishment within this realm by martial law.” Unless of course the civil courts are overwhelmed and cannot function.

      The military in times of Martial law restrict the secret intelligence services or MI5 who cannot use military personnel as informants, investigators, or interrogators in surveillance or undercover operations.

      Thus in simple terms Britain holds the view Martial law is rather naive nationally and best used on other countries subjected to the will of the crown, rather, the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 Part 2 aligns better with British values and can deal with Habeas Corpus. The CC Act must be compatible with the Human Rights Act and is one of the main reasons this Tory government is committed or mandated to reform the HRA.

      Interestingly Part 2 of the CC Act initiated from Westminster can be used in Scotland set out and embraced by the First Minister.

  • Peter

    Are we starting to see the beginning of the end of this monstrous nonsense in Ukraine?

    Last night’s Newsnight seemed to imply so.

    There has clearly been the first signs of a pivot in the B******t Broadcasting Corporation’s news coverage in recent days, perhaps since Mariupol, away from talk of a Ukrainian victory towards acknowledgement of previously denied Russian advances.

    Last night’s Newsnight report began by highlighting divisions in the EU and German reluctance to overcommit. Mark Urban went on to say that “France, Germany, and even the US would appear to prefer a negotiated outcome” before pointing out that Biden has just written a newspaper article “setting the scene for diplomacy”.

    The report ended with an interview with a General Philip Breedlove (presumably the long-lost offspring of Doctor Strangelove) who stated that the west should support Zelensky, and if a negotiated settlement is what he wants (read ‘what the US tells him to want’) then ‘we’ should support him in that.

    Has someone in the US administration suddenly developed a conscience? Has the failure of the exercise become too undeniable? Has the opposition to this in Ukraine become too great? Has the cost to western societies of this criminal insanity become too much?

    Is this really the beginning of the end of the war?

    Or is what we’re seeing and hearing just strategic propaganda?

    Time will tell.

    Newsnight (report begins at 13:05 and above quote is at 16:55):

    Watch this space.

    • mark golding

      I remind General Breedlove on the anniversary of the Allied victory in 1945, a Ukrainian activist threw red paint over Russian Ambassador Sergey Andreev as he tried to lay flowers at the Soviet Union military cemetery in the Polish capital.

      Washington’s insane decision to give the UK a green light to supply multiple launch rocket systems on the M270 MLRS tracked base and facilitate US HIMARS rocket pods and anti-ship missiles via Poland describes a psychosis for war and an intrinsic shortcoming in brain-power to consider the ramifications.

      Military intelligence tells us in clear terms these Brimstone weapons (in the hands of untrained Ukrainians) will attempt to be used against Russian ships patrolling the waters between Crimea and Snake Island, as displayed on HR Western satellite imagery made available to Ukraine commanders. HIMARS M142 & M270 MLRS will be transported on trucks to the Black sea coast and Russia should be aware that multiple HIMARS rockets will reach Snake island in an attempt to take out air- and missile-defense systems placed there by Russia in an effort to hold this strategic position.

    • Bayard

      The problem that Ukraine is up against is that they started with a much smaller number of trained soldiers than Russia. No matter how many arms the West throws at them, they are no good if they don’t have anyone who can use them. As has been known for over a thousand years, untrained or barely trained armed civilians, especially when pressed, are pretty useless when pitted against trained troops.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        In terms of frontline infantry, in 2021 the Russian Army wasn’t that much bigger than the Ukrainian one, Bayard. Also, if untrained or barely trained armed civilians are pretty useless against trained troops, then how did the Soviet Union manage to win World War II, including (effectively) the Winter War against Finland?

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply, Bayard. In my last comment, I did say ‘frontline infantry’ rather than military personnel. Your figure of a million refers to total Russian military – the Russian Army itself will be less than that, maybe around 700,000, many of whom are conscripts. Less than a quarter of the British Army is made up of infantry – in the Russian Army, it will be proportionately less, as it’s more bureaucratic and more dependent on artillery. So we’re looking at around 100,000 to 150,000 Russian frontline infantry, most of whom are either fighting in Ukraine or injured. The Ukrainian Army constitutes a higher fraction of its armed forces, as it has a much smaller air force and its navy barely exists. It will also have much higher proportion of infantry, as its armoured and artillery divisions are much smaller, so there’s likely around 80,000 to 120,000 Ukrainian infantry. These are augmented by units which are not part of the army, e.g. Azov etc. Russia may have millions of reservists it could call up, but by now they won’t be much better trained than the millions of Ukrainian men aged 18-60 that are available to fight if necessary. Sorry I don’t have time to research further into this.

            At the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, nearly four million soldiers from the Wehrmacht and allied armies – most of whom had been in the forces for years – lined up along the border facing around two-and-a-half million Soviet troops. Four months later they had sustained around a million casualties, compared to five million for the Soviets. If we realistically assume that three-quarters of the casualties on both sides were either deaths / missing in action, prisoners of war or serious injuries, then that’s 3.75 million Soviet troops that wouldn’t have made a quick return to the battlefield – so the vast majority of their army from 1942 onwards must have consisted of troops that weren’t part of it in June 1941, compared to at least three million long-standing soldiers (plus troops from elsewhere) still available for the Axis.


          • Bayard

            “”Russia may have millions of reservists it could call up, but by now they won’t be much better trained than the millions of Ukrainian men aged 18-60 that are available to fight if necessary. “

            Are you seriously trying to claim that a civilian with absolutely no military experience is comparable with a reservist? Perhaps you should go and talk to some reservists.

            “”so the vast majority of their army from 1942 onwards must have consisted of troops that weren’t part of it in June 1941, “

            That’s still plenty of time to turn civilians into soldiers. Ukraine has had just over three months to replace the losses at the start of the war and correspondingly less time to replace more recent losses.

    • DunGroanin

      Peter I believe it is the prelude to ‘mission accomplished’ statement.

      America leading the Collective West has had the same MO in every invasion they have conducted regularly even through the Cold War as they did with extra impunity since ‘winning’ that Cold War.
      Invade for whatever reason.
      Have a foe who has been pushed into a war or create one to pretend to fight.
      Dispossess the local population of their land and resources killing as many as required to steal from them.
      Use up a lot of MIC product as possible so it all has to be replaced for guaranteed public funds for years.

      It does not matter that there isn’t some ideological victory. Just plenty of booty. It doesn’t matter from Korea to Iraq, Libya and Syria.

      They didn’t get their plans in Iran and have been foiled in EurAsia.

      Ukraine is their latest and hopefully last invasion.

      The Collective Waste is doing there exactly what they have done everywhere else.

      The massacre of Ukrainians- especially these who are forcefully enrolled and fed into the mincer is exactly to achieve the same ends as usual. And the Ukrainians, like the proxy Koreans , South Vietnamese etc are fooled into their own self destruction.

      • ET

        Sustainable war as an economic model. That phrase features in a (not great) “Ghost in the Shell” netflix follow-on series I watched in the last few days. The more I contemplate that concept the more it seems to hit the mark. What will be done when the west runs out of adversaries?

  • Goose

    On the quest for truth…

    An example of the perils for academics and others in discussing events emerging from the war in Ukraine. McCarthyite accusations flow if someone doesn’t simply unquestioningly accept Ukraine’s statements at face value. A call for caution and further evidence, pounced upon by those desperate to claim subversives are lurking everywhere. No wonder so many appear strangely silent and incurious given simply urging caution is presented by the state broadcaster, the BBC, as a possible Russian disinformation op. Response thread link below.

    • Pears Morgaine

      ” Asked by the BBC what he thought happened in Bucha, Dr Schlosberg said: “I have no idea. My only understanding is that I think no-one else really knows what happened. I think there is a very strong likelihood that there were very serious atrocities, almost certainly the vast majority of which were committed by Russia.” “

      • Bayard

        “I think there is a very strong likelihood that there were very serious atrocities, almost certainly the vast majority of which were committed by Russia.”

        This from a man who, only a few seconds ago, has said, about Bucha, “I have no idea. My only understanding is that I think no-one else really knows what happened.” So he has no information, but that isn’t going to stop him trotting out the West’s official narrative. Dunning-Kruger or what?

        • Crispa

          Yes, three sentences from the Dr. The last totally contradicts the first two, no doubt to appease the BBC.

          It seems that the power of lies will always overcome the power of truth by a large degree as with Julian Assange and everything else.

      • Goose

        Pears Morgaine

        The point is, we don’t need ‘wrongthink’ Finder Generals in the west, pointing their finger of suspicion at academics and others who dare to question narratives that these pompous journalists wouldn’t dare to question themselves. With the MSM so very captured and so many incurious journalists, if anything, more academics willing to investigate are needed. You’ve got a few underresourced outlets and individuals, who do question official narratives; Aaron Maté, and his colleagues the Grayzone and they’ve already had success in debunking various stories.

        Paul Mason was a guest on the same programme, a supposed Marxist, who has carved out a niche for himself pushing hawkish Cheney-esque Neocon positions, albeit, by skilfully wrapping them in leftist arguments. Mason constantly talks about the dangers of fascism, and yet readily supports strict limitations on free speech and reactionary censorship measures, to combat what he alleges is a tidal wave of online Russian disinformation sweeping the west – little evidence provided in support of his theory of course.
        He wrote a piece decrying the resignation of the disinformation czar, Nina Jankowicz, who was all set to head up the new US Ministry of Truth. Mason cited misogyny she faced as being partly responsible for her quitting. But the prospective disinfo czar, as it emerged, had herself previously pushed false information; promoting the idea pushed by various public officials that the Hunter Biden laptop story was false, and that it was probably a Russian disinformation operation. She also supported the Russiagate ‘collusion’ conspiracy theory.

        • Brian c

          “”Mason constantly talks about the dangers of fascism, and yet readily supports….”

          … Nazis who revere the Jew murderer Stepan Bandera.

  • Brian c

    Unfortunately a great many lies are cemented as conventional wisdom in this country and anyone challenging the conventional wisdom is demonized as a wild and ridiculous extremist. Intolerance of unconventional views is especially characteristic of Guardian readers, who think of themselves as the country’s educated elite. Why? Because the lies are promoted by every well-spoken liberal in politics, media and entertainment.

  • John Giles

    All those comments are by spook trolls. They’ve been polluting CiF for years.
    It is blatant concern trolling.

  • Laguerre

    I see there was a Radio 4 programme this afternoon in the File on 4 series, entitled “Ukraine: The Disinformation War”, in which they made out any commentator who gave even a slightly pro-Russian interpretation, mainly university staff as sorts of traitors to Britain and trying to shut them down. You are not allowed to take an independent view, and certainly not in the universities. Very McCarthyite. There’ll be sackings soon if research doesn’t follow the prescribed path. It’s available on replay.

  • Steve

    Presumably Craig you have seen nils melzers book about the charade? Sorry if I missed any comment from yourself. Dorset Eye has a very good article summarising much of the book… Steve

  • Australia voice

    Craig and interested commentators I hope you can pay attention to 15minute audio interview with Wikileaks human rights lawyer Renata Avilia. Linked at the bottom of comment. She discusses Laura Poitras and the film Risk. Basically Laura broke every single private agreement made with Wikileaks in order to make her film, and in doing so, made a stack of decisions that directly threatened the safety, security and freedom of Wikileaks members and those involved in its work. Avilia also discusses the editorial decisions made in the film Risk .
    One thing that amazed me in that film was, all that was required was for a comment to be included (by Assange, by Laura, by anyone) that the news of the sexual assault investigation was not “surprising news” like it’s presented. Because, the matter was first presented when Assange was in Sweden to begin with. Most importantly, he had approached the authorities in Sweden and offered to assist them, and they said everything’s fine and gave him permission to leave the country.
    By wilfully redacting that important fact, from the documentary a radically alternate interpretation of the facts is presented.

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