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Dystopia 317

Yesterday I scanned the MSM news. The UK openly boasted of running aerial surveillance over Gaza to identify targets for Israel, and it was revealed the USA has provided over 12,000 bombs and 57,000 shells to Israel. Israel killed over 300 more civilians, including over 100 more dead children. At the same time, Kamala Harris had been sobered up long enough to make a speech claiming that the US wished Israel to avoid casualties, in a desperate attempt to mask the blood on the hands of Genocide Joe.

I read that Germany is in budget crisis. I looked thorugh numerous articles, and not a single one mentioned the actual cause of the crisis, the war in Ukraine and in particular the destruction of Nordstream. None of the MSM has ever apologised for their coordinated and unanimous “big lie” that Russia blew up its own pipeline, even though they have all now quietly abandoned this in favour of a fallback lie that it was a heroic “Dad’s Army” attack by a few Ukrainians on a little boat.

I saw the media reporting without criticism, as indeed heroic, a speech by Zelensky in which he claimed as a victory that Ukraine had not actually lost significant territory during its counter-offensive. I found nothing explaining the causes of the war and very little on the inevitable need for a negotiated solution.

I read articles about immigrants drowning while trying to reach Spain, about an EU/Switzerland agreement being stymied over fears of immigration, about immigrants on the Russia/Finland border and about the causes of anti-immigration riots in Ireland. Not one of these articles mentioned that the great wave of immigration to Europe these past twenty years has been directly caused by the destruction of whole societies, economies and national infrastructures by Western invasions and direct or proxy attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

I saw the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court shuttled around Israel and the West Bank in a fleet of armored Toyotas, looking like the most arrogant of VIPs, while refusing to act against Israel and seeking to “bothsides” the genocide unfolding before our eyes.

I realised that Karim Khan KC, brother of an ex Tory MP, himself should by rights be charged with complicity in war crimes.

The evil of the times in which we live has been clear for a very long time. In “developed” countries we have seen a massive growth in disparity of wealth and increasing numbers of people unable to lead a standard of life which makes them a part of society, in consequence of destruction of worker rights and institutional protections. We have seen an increasingly unapologetic tendency of Western neo-imperialism to unleash the devastating power of modern weaponry upon less developed nations, generally of the Islamic faith, with no care for civilian casualties.

We saw it in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and now we see its apotheosis in Gaza.

Here the two strands of dystopian western and domestic policy intertwine, because there is massive popular opposition to the genocide in Gaza, and it is crystal plain that the people of the “democracies” have no actual influence on the war machine. The war machine controls the people, they do not control the war machine. If you want to look for a sign of hope – and we all need hope – it is that a whole new generation of young people has come to understand that.

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The Twitter Hack 163

The hack of my X Twitter account was definitely intended to reduce my reach on Palestine, it took place while the security services have possession of my electronics and access to my account, and it involved either complicity by Twitter or a security service backdoor.

I have now had to involve lawyers and prepare for legal action against X to get my Twitter account back. It took me 15 years to build up 138,000 followers despite continual suppression and shadow banning. Some of my individual tweets on Palestine were gaining over 10,000 likes. Subscriptions to this blog were increasing.

I understand why action has been taken to destroy all that, just as I understand why a laughable “terrorism” investigation against me has been launched to disrupt my work and try to put me back in jail. I must be achieving something, or they wouldn’t take all this trouble. I intend therefore to bash on.

When my account was hacked, the first thing that was done, immediately, was to change the password and then put out a tweet in support of Hitler and the Holocaust in my name. That is how I know that the motivation was related to the current genocide in Palestine.

I know that either Twitter complicity was involved or a security service backdoor into Twitter because the “hacker” was able, within ten minutes, to change the password, email and the very name and identity of the account, from @craigmurray.org to @matthuag. Twitter automatically blocks you from making all those changes at the same time, for obvious reasons. Also the identity of the account was changed while still retaining the blue verified tick, which is also not normally possible.

It is also consistent with Twitter complicity that despite my reporting the hack to X support within five minutes of the password being changed, and reminding them repeatedly ever since, there has been no response other than automated ones from X Support. Furthermore another victim of this crime, the real @matthuang, has also reported to Twitter the appearance of the fake @matthuag account from the renaming of @craigmurrayorg, impersonating him. Matt Huang also, a person of some note, has been unable to obtain any response from Twitter.

It is a matter of simple fact that X or Twitter employs numerous ex members of the US, UK and Israeli security services. The only thing in doubt about that statement is the “ex”.

It seems to me entirely possible that this action was undertaken by, or at the behest of, the police or security services, in order to bolster the “terrorism” accusation against me by the crazy pro-Hitler tweet. At the time of the tweet they held – and still do – my seized mobile phone. They seized my laptop and cloned it before returning it to me. They had direct access to my Twitter account at the time this was done.

Furthermore my solicitors reported the hack, and the pro-Hitler tweet, to Police Scotland at the time it happened. Police Scotland have shown no interest at all. I would remind you that this is the police force that prosecuted a man for training his dog to give a Nazi salute online. But they have no interest in discovering who sent out a tweet supporting Hitler and the Holocaust?

A final thought. After the hack and the pro-Hitler tweet, it is my strong suspicion that the account was offloaded or sold to other people entirely, who made the change to @matthuag for the purpose of perpetrating some kind of identity fraud on Matt Huang. This appears an entirely different kind of crime and motivation. Otherwise the original hackers could have simply done it to hide their tracks and motivation. Whoever now controls the account appears to lack either the ability or the motivation to disconnect the Twitter API which posts notification of new articles here direct to the account.

I have now asked the lawyers to consider action against the police.

I am sorry to say all this continues to come with a large financial cost, which is of course not an accident. The imposition of constant financial drain through legal and other attacks is a fundamental part of the state system of suppressing dissent. Our only defence against that is horizontal solidarity which shares the cost among hundreds of us. I do plead with the 98% of readers of this blog who still do not subscribe to see if you can afford a small amount – it can be less than a cup of coffee a month. But please do not contribute if it causes you any financial hardship at all.

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Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Banned Books 153

At Saturday’s great march in support of Palestine in London, police arrested members of the Communist Party of Great Britain Marxist-Leninist (CPGBML) for having a pamphlet on sale on their stall.

The “illegal” pamphlet is entitled Zionism: A Racist, Anti-Semitic and Reactionary Tool of Imperialism.

Just what is illegal about it, I do not know. The authorship is ascribed to the CPGBML. I have looked through it and it is scrupulous in distinguishing between zionism and judaism. Criticism of Israel and of the zionist movement is not anti-semitic.

I suspect what may have upset the authorities are the passages on collaboration between some leaders of the zionist movement and the Nazis.

This is a difficult subject. My own view, which I have discussed both in several articles on this blog and in person with many friends who take a different view, (including Tony Greenstein who has written an entire book on the subject), is that it serves no useful purpose to keep bringing this up. Aberrations of history at a time of great world convulsion, including the events leading up to the Holocaust and that genocide itself, throw up many horrors it is often not helpful to try to tie in to contemporary events.

I see this in Scotland. It appears true that unfortunately a few Scottish nationalists momentarily considered Nazi Germany a possible ally against a common enemy in London. But efforts are made constantly on social media to use that as a meme to portray modern Scottish nationalists as Nazis, which is utter nonsense. Furthermore bringing the Nazis into political debate, especially in anything relating to the Holocaust, immediately causes all kinds of nutters to come out of the woodwork.

Truth is important and true history should always be acknowledged and faced. But I believe my fellow supporters of Palestine do not help today’s debate or the Palestinian cause by dredging up 90-year-old marginal stories.

This particular truth certainly has a place in the history books, but most of the attempts to insert it into current debate are not, in my view, justified.

That, however, is a very different view to saying that books addressing the subject should be banned and people arrested for possessing them. This is a simply appalling attack on freedom of speech. I condemn it unreservedly.

It is also not in the least plain to me where the offence lies.

Is it an offence simply to possess this pamphlet? Does the offence lie rather in displaying it, or in offering to sell it? Is it only an offence to try to sell it at a demonstration? Would it be an offence to sell it in a bookshop? Would it be an offence if it were in a university library for the study of Marxist-Leninist thought?

The pamphlet was published in 2015. Was that an offence at the time? Did anybody who displayed or sold a copy of the pamphlet over the last eight years commit an offence? Is everybody today in possession of a copy committing an offence, including me who has one for the purposes of journalism?

And what offence is it precisely?

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has put out a very strong statement on the use of the current attacks on Gaza to damage freedom of expression worldwide:

GENEVA (23 November 2023) – UN experts* today expressed alarm at the worldwide wave of attacks, reprisals, criminalisation and sanctions against those who publicly express solidarity with the victims of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

“Calls for an end to the violence and attacks in Gaza, or for a humanitarian ceasefire, or criticism of Israeli government’s policies and actions, have in too many contexts been misleadingly equated with support for terrorism or antisemitism. This stifles free expression, including artistic expression, and creates an atmosphere of fear to participate in public life,” the experts said…

“People have the right to express solidarity with victims of grave human rights violations and demand justice, whether from one side or the other or both,” the experts said.

They noted with deep concern that several artists around the world have been targeted because of their art or political messaging, pressured to change topics of artistic expression, and labelled either as troublemakers or as indifferent to the suffering of one side or the other. “Some artists have been deprogrammed and censored for calling for peace, others have lost their jobs, and some artists have been silenced or side-lined by their own cultural organisations and artistic communities,” they said.

Journalists and media outlets in Israel and Western countries reporting critically about Israeli policies and operations in the occupied territories or expressing pro-Palestinian views have been the target of threats, intimidation, discrimination and retaliation, which have increased the risk of self-censorship, undermining the diversity and plurality of news that is essential for press freedom and the right of the public to be informed. At least one media outlet in Israel has been threatened reportedly with closure for perceived “bias” towards Palestine. They also criticised the disproportionate and wrongful removal of pro-Palestinian content by social media platforms.

The experts raised concerns about suspensions and expulsions of students from universities, dismissal of academics, calls for their deportation, threats to dissolve student unions and associations, and restrictions on campus meetings to express solidarity with the suffering civilians in Gaza and denounce the ongoing Israeli military response. Students have also been blacklisted in some universities as supporters of terrorism, with accompanying threats to their prospects for future employment…

The experts noted a highly disturbing trend to criminalise and label pro-Palestinian protests as “hate protests” and to pre-emptively ban them, often citing risks to national security, including risks related to incitement to hatred, without providing evidence-based justification. “Such actions not only violate the right to protest guaranteed by Article 21 of the ICCPR, but are also detrimental to democracy and any peace-building efforts,” they said.

The experts recalled that any restriction on human rights must meet the conditions of legality, necessity and proportionality. “Furthermore, advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence, hostility or discrimination is prohibited under international law,” they said, calling on individuals in official positions in particular to desist from hate speech and inflammatory statements…

Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of freedom of opinion and expression.

The attack on freedom of speech and association is across the western world. Little incidents like this arrest of CPGBML activists, or my own investigation for “terrorism”, are all signs of a real slide towards fascism. Fascism is being enabled by zionism.

As you know, I am not myself a communist. But society is losing touch with the idea that freedom of speech is not freedom for those who agree either with the government, or with you.

The activists have been released on police bail.

On the surface of it, the first bail condition is ludicrous to impose on avowed Marxists, but this appears to be another manifestation of the desire to criminalise any attempt to refer to Nazi genocide in association with the Gaza genocide. The restriction on distributing leaflets at protests is straight from the handbook of a totalitarian state.

Which is a much scarier handbook than a political pamphlet.

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Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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No Ceasefire in the Propaganda War 221

I have had BBC News on in the background for the last two hours. In that time there have been three lengthy interviews with different relatives of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. There has not been a single interview with a Palestinian relative of a Palestinian prisoner held by Israel.

Today 13 Israeli prisoners and 39 Palestinian prisoners are due to be released. 90% of the BBC mentions of prisoner releases do not include the Palestinians at all. Just finished is a ten minute interview of a Professor in Kent on the psychological effects on Israeli hostages. Earlier there was an expert from Tel Aviv on the psychological impact on Israeli hostages’ families. There has been no report whatsoever of the impact on Palestinian prisoners and their families.

The BBC simply does not treat the Palestinians as human, whereas the emphasis on Israeli personal victimhood is incessant and unrelenting.

Of the 300 Palestinian women and children prisoners on the list possibly to be released during the ceasefire, 252 have never been charged with any crime. 23 were charged with stone throwing.

Since October 8 over 200 Palestinian children have been taken prisoner, none of whom had anything to do with the October 7 attacks. That rather puts the possible release of 33 children and six women today into perspective. But it is not a perspective the BBC would ever give you.

Over 2,000 Palestinians are held by Israel in “administrative detention”, without charge or trial. Some for over twenty years.

Since 1967 Israel has made over 1 million arrests of Palestinians. This “justice” system is an essential part of the imposition of apartheid and the slow genocide, which did not just start this autumn. The BBC won’t tell you that either, and appears to have no problem with permanently showcasing its Israel based correspondents churning out the Israeli propaganda narrative, with no attempt at either perspective or balance.

————————————————

Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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The Supreme Court, Rwanda and Assange 75

The judgment of the Supreme Court on the illegality of deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda was given massive publicity in connection with the sacking of Suella Braverman, but in fact it is a decision of much wider significance. It also has great relevance to the coming High Court hearing on Julian Assange, both in terms of the arguments, some of which are common to both cases, and the stance of the judges, some of whom are also common to both cases.

Let me start with the point on which the Supreme Court decision turned – whether or not the court should independently determine whether Rwanda is a safe country, or whether the Home Secretary is entitled to make that decision without possibility of judicial interference, provided correct procedures are followed.

The original Divisional Court determination, by Justices Swift and Lewis, was that the Home Secretary’s decision was “irrebuttable”: that the Executive was best placed to make the decision and there was no room for interference by the courts. This view was overturned by a majority of the Appeal Court, although there in a minority judgment Lord Chief Justice of England Burnett supported the original decision on rather incoherent grounds that this wasn’t the question at issue.

The Supreme Court has said, unanimously, that judges have a positive duty to determine whether a country is safe for deportation, rather than simply take the word of ministers for it. This is a very strong piece of judicial activism.

The correct test, derived from Soering, requires the
court to decide for itself whether there are substantial grounds for believing that the
removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda would expose them to a real risk of ill treatment,
as a consequence of refoulement to another country. The assessment is one which must
be made by the court. The majority of the Court of Appeal considered that the
Divisional Court had mistakenly dealt with the issue on the basis that the court’s role
was confined to deciding whether the Secretary of State had been entitled to form the
view that there was no such risk…

After reviewing the evidence, the court judged that Rwanda’s general human rights record, its past treatment of refugees and the state of its asylum system make it an unsafe country for deportation. It does not become a safe country either because Pritti Patel and Suella Braverman say so, or – and this is crucial for the Assange case – because its government makes promises about future behaviour.

This is a crucial passage with obvious relevance to the Assange case which I shall go on to explain:

46. The Secretary of State relies on the assurances provided by the Rwandan
government in the MEDP as meeting any concerns arising from the evidence about the
past and present operation of the Rwandan asylum system. In essence, the Secretary of
State submits that, notwithstanding any problems that there may have been in the past or
that may remain at present, the MEDP sets out arrangements for the future which
provide adequate safeguards against refoulement, and the Rwandan government can be
relied on to fulfil its undertaking to process the claims in accordance with those
arrangements…

As authority for its view that it is for the court to decide on the safety of the deportee, they quote with approval the European Court of Human Rights decision in the Othman case:

“There is an obligation to examine whether assurances
provide, in their practical application, a sufficient guarantee
that the applicant will be protected against the risk of ill-
treatment. The weight to be given to assurances from the
receiving state depends, in each case, on the circumstances
prevailing at the material time.”

This is interesting because the decision in the Othman case forms part of the legal arguments for Julian’s appeal.

There is a massive academic literature, right across the world, on the weight to be given (or not) to diplomatic assurances of good treatment by the receiving government, in extradition or deportation cases. The issue has generated countless PhDs and employed the time of numerous officials of governments, international institutions and NGO’s. This is just from the first page of a Google search on the issue:

Governments like the UK which wish to deport people are keen to argue that deportation to assorted dictatorial hellholes is fine, if the torturing dictatorship sends a Diplomatic Note promising not to torture or persecute (or send to torture and persecution). International institutions and judges tend to argue that facts on the ground are worth more than pieces of paper. In practice, the UK’s system of deportations relies heavily on “diplomatic assurances”.

The UK government gets away with this by carefully not monitoring what happens to the deportee at the other end. In the only Uzbek case in which my intervention ever failed to prevent a deportation, the couple concerned simply vanished on arrival back in Tashkent. The position of the FCDO is that, as they were Uzbek nationals, the British government had no responsibility to monitor what happened to them in their home country, after deportation from the UK.

In the present Rwanda case, the Supreme Court notes that the UK government plans to operate the Rwanda policy through the Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) which in practice consists of a Memorandum of Understanding and two diplomatic notes from the government of Rwanda entitled “the asylum process of transferred individuals” and “the reception and accommodation of transferred individuals”.

These are simply “Diplomatic assurances” in their classic form, and the Supreme Court treats them as such.

The Home Secretary’s appeal against the Appeal Court judgment explicitly argued that the court should defer to the executive’s judgment of the value of these assurances, which the Supreme Court summarises as the Home Secretary criticising the Appeal Court for:

giving
insufficient weight to HM Government’s assessment of the likelihood of the
government of Rwanda abiding by its assurances

The Supreme Court rejects the notion that diplomatic assurances provided to the executive outweigh an assessment by the court itself of the true situation. The Supreme Court states:

The government’s assessment of whether there is such a risk is an important
element of that evidence, but the court is bound to consider the question in the light of
the evidence as a whole and to reach its own conclusion.

This is a definitive position, and a very strong one, in the debate about the role of diplomatic assurances in deportation proceedings.

The reason this is so vital to the Assange case, is that the court of first instance decided against Assange’s extradition, due to the combination of his health and the appalling maximum security conditions to which he would be subjected in the United States. On Appeal by the government of the USA, Lord Chief Justice Burnett rejected this argument, primarily on the basis of diplomatic assurances as to Assange’s treatment, received in Diplomatic Notes submitted at the appeal stage.

Because they were not submitted to the original hearing but only at Appeal, Assange’s team had no opportunity to question these diplomatic assurances or cross-examine on their value. Lord Chief Justice Burnett rejected this as having any weight, on the grounds that it was for the executive to decide the value of diplomatic assurances.

Note this: Lord Chief Justice Burnett was also the dissenting judge who found for the government at appeal in the Rwanda case, where again he argued that the diplomatic assurances from the Rwanda government should simply be accepted on the executive’s evaluation. That is the classic executive position in the whole diplomatic assurances debate – and the Supreme Court has just unanimously and fizzingly rejected Burnett’s argument.

If it is for the court and not the executive to investigate and determine the value of diplomatic assurances in the Rwanda case, then it must also be for the court to examine and determine the value of diplomatic assurances in the Assange case. At no point in the Assange process has any court undertaken this duty, or the defence been offered any opportunity to challenge the veracity of the diplomatic assurances.

That must now play a crucial role in consideration of the Assange case going forward.

It is Burnett who granted the US appeal against the refusal to extradite Assange. As detailed in past articles, Burnett  is the best friend and former college flatmate of Tory Minister Alan Duncan, who called Julian “a worm” in parliament and who was in direct charge of the operation to remove Julian from the Ecuadorean Embassy.

The other judge whose arguments were resoundingly rejected by the Supreme Court is Jonathan Swift, who found for the Home Secretary at first instance in the Rwanda case. Swift is also the judge who dismissed Assange’s 150-page appeal in three double-spaced pages and attempted to limit any future hearing to half an hour. Again as previously explained here, Swift is a former barrister for the security services, which he said were his favourite clients.

Swift’s judgments in both the Assange and Rwanda cases smack of the alt-right in their contemptuous dismissal of argument and contrary evidence. The Supreme Court, however, is crushing about Swift’s simple assertion in the Divisional Court that the United Nations Commission for Human Rights is not a body whose views should be given particular weight. The Supreme Court tramples all over Swift’s trite approach, in hobnailed boots, for a significant period of time:

The Divisional Court was dismissive of this evidence, and did not attempt to
engage with it. It stated at para 71 that the evidence of UNHCR “carries no special
weight”…

64. …The Divisional Court’s view that the evidence of UNHCR carried no special
weight was a further error. Of course, the weight to be attached to evidence is always a
matter for the court, and will depend on the circumstances. However, a number of
factors combined in the present case to render the evidence of UNHCR of particular
significance.

65. The first relevant factor is the status and role of UNHCR. It is entrusted by the
United Nations General Assembly with supervision of the interpretation and application
of the Refugee Convention: see the Statute of the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, annexed to UN General Assembly Resolution 428(V), 14
December 1950. Under article 35 of the Refugee Convention, states parties undertake to
co-operate with UNHCR in the exercise of its functions, and to facilitate its duty of
supervising the application of the provisions of the Convention. Reflecting those
circumstances, it is well established that UNHCR’s guidance concerning the
interpretation and application of the Refugee Convention “should be accorded
considerable weight”: Al-Sirri v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012]
UKSC 54; [2013] 1 AC 745, para 36. In IA (Iran) v Secretary of State for the Home
Department [2014] UKSC 6; [2014] 1 WLR 384, para 44, this court stated that “the
accumulated and unrivalled expertise of this organisation, its experience in working
with governments throughout the world, the development, promotion and enforcement
of procedures of high standard and consistent decision-making in the field of refugee
status determinations must invest its decisions with considerable authority”.

66. The second factor, mentioned in that dictum, is UNHCR’s expertise and
experience. That factor was also emphasised by this court in R (EM (Eritrea)) v
Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] UKSC 12; [2014] AC 1321, when
considering the approach which should be adopted to evidence provided by UNHCR in
relation to the risks involved in removing asylum seekers to another country. Lord Kerr
of Tonaghmore, with whose judgment the other members of the court agreed, referred
(para 72) to “the unique and unrivalled expertise of UNHCR in the field of asylum and
refugee law”, and expressed agreement with the observations of Sir Stephen Sedley in
the court below [2013] 1 WLR 576, para 41, which he quoted at para 71:
“It seems to us that there was a reason for [the European
Court in MSS v Belgium and Greece] according the UNHCR a
special status in this context. The finding of facts by a court of
law on the scale involved here is necessarily a problematical
exercise, prone to influence by accidental factors such as the
date of a report, or its sources, or the quality of its authorship,
and conducted in a single intensive session. The High
Commissioner for Refugees, by contrast, is today the holder
of an internationally respected office with an expert staff
(numbering 7,190 in 120 different states, according to its
website), able to assemble and monitor information from year
to year and to apply to it standards of knowledge and
judgment which are ordinarily beyond the reach of a court. In
doing this, and in reaching his conclusions, he has the
authority of the General Assembly of the United Nations, by
whom he is appointed and to whom he reports. It is
intelligible in this situation that a supranational court should
pay special regard both to the facts which the High
Commissioner reports and to the value judgments he arrives at
within his remit.”

67. As was mentioned in that passage, considerable weight is given to the evidence
of UNHCR by the European Court. In MSS v Belgium and Greece, for example, the
court attached “critical importance” (para 349) to UNHCR’s concerns about the
treatment of asylum seekers in Greece. In Ilias v Hungary, UNHCR’s reports were
described as “authoritative” (para 141, quoted at para 45 above). For the reasons we
have explained, it is unsurprising that that should be so; and it is a factor which is
relevant to the approach of domestic courts when considering asylum questions under
the ECHR.

68. UNHCR’s evidence will naturally be of greatest weight when it relates to matters
within its particular remit or where it has special expertise in the subject matter. Its
evidence in the present case concerns matters falling within its remit and about which it
has undoubted expertise. As the Lord Chief Justice observed in the present case,
UNHCR “has unrivalled practical experience of the working of the asylum system in
Rwanda through long years of engagement” (para 467). It has been operating
permanently in Rwanda since 1993, and had 332 staff there at the time of its evidence in
these proceedings. Its role in Rwanda includes assisting asylum seekers and refugees,
funding and training non-governmental organisations working with the Rwandan
asylum system, dealing with officials responsible for asylum decision-making, and
engaging with the relevant department of the Rwandan government over the
management of refugee camps. Although UNHCR has no official role in Rwanda’s
asylum system, the Rwandan authorities have, albeit intermittently, sent it copies of
asylum decisions, and UNHCR receives information from asylum-seekers and NGOs,
and through communications with relevant officials. UNHCR is therefore able to collate
data and gain insight into the practical realities of Rwanda’s asylum system. Its
experience was recognised by Home Office officials. They reported that the Rwandan
government depended heavily on UNHCR and other non-governmental organisations
for delivering its asylum and refugee processes, and that UNHCR had undoubted
expertise and experience of managing part of the refugee process, as well as knowledge
of the Rwandan system more generally.

69. As the Lord Chief Justice noted at para 467, UNHCR can be said to have an
institutional interest in the outcome of these proceedings, since it has adopted the
position (set out in its Guidance Note on bilateral and/or multilateral arrangements of
asylum-seekers) that asylum seekers and refugees should ordinarily be processed in the
territory of the state where they arrive or which otherwise has jurisdiction over them.
The fact that UNHCR has adopted that position is a factor to be taken into account when
assessing its evidence. However, its evidence and submissions were presented with
moderation, and did not appear to reflect a partisan assessment. It has also to be borne in
mind that, as a responsible United Nations agency accountable to the General
Assembly, UNHCR will not lightly make statements critical of any state in which it
operates.

70. Drawing these threads together, it is apparent from the factors which we have
mentioned and the authorities which we have cited that particular importance should
have been attached to the evidence of UNHCR in the present case. That is not to say
that its evidence should necessarily be decisive or pre-eminent. In the circumstances of
the present case, however, its evidence on significant matters of fact is essentially
uncontradicted by any cogent evidence to the contrary, as the Court of Appeal explained
(eg at para 136). It should not have been treated as dismissively as it was by the
Divisional Court.

I think it is fair to say that the Supreme Court’s extensive comments on Swift’s one-sentence dismissal of the evidence of the United Nations, is not incompatible with the view that the Supreme Court has twigged Swift for a glib little wanker. I wonder whether they would take the same view over Swift’s equally glib and dismissive approach to Assange’s entire appeal?

A further hot legal point which has relevance for the Assange case relates to the extent to which the UK is bound by international law.

I have attended a number of meetings at the UN in Geneva this last fortnight, including country reviews of the human rights records of a number of nations. These NGO and expert meetings are held under Chatham House rules, so I am not able to tell you precise details. But I saw developing nations specifically criticised for failures of judicial decisions to take into account the obligations in international law of the state to follow treaties they have ratified.

Extraordinarily, the UK openly takes the view that no international law, including treaties it has signed, is ever legally binding on the UK unless it has been explicitly incorporated in UK domestic legislation. The UK does not consider itself bound by treaties it has ratified.

This is absolutely crucial in the Assange case, where the US/UK Extradition Treaty of 2003, under which the extradition is taking place, specifically forbids political extradition. The courts have accepted the argument that this is irrelevant as the treaty has no legal force, this text not having been incorporated in any UK domestic legislation.

The Supreme Court judgment on Rwanda, however, appears to take the UK’s obligations in international law very seriously. The Supreme Court does not appear to be treating the UK’s international treaty obligations as governing the conduct of the UK Government, only insofar as they are incorporated in domestic law. After talking about the prohibition of refoulement under the Refugee Convention, the Supreme Court states:

As we shall explain, refoulement is also prohibited
under a number of other international conventions which the United Kingdom has
ratified. There are also several Acts of Parliament which protect refugees against
refoulement.

It is very difficult to read that in a way that makes the applicability of the international treaties valid only insofar as they have been incorporated in the Acts of Parliament. The second use of the word “also” is here a specific indicator that the international conventions are sufficient; the Acts of Parliament are reinforcement, not necessary condition.

That perhaps is not immediately apparent. Let me show you without the second “also”:

As we shall explain, refoulement is also prohibited
under a number of other international conventions which the United Kingdom has
ratified. There are several Acts of Parliament which protect refugees against
refoulement.

In that formulation it is possible to argue that the Acts of Parliament are necessary to give effect in law to the international conventions, even though that is not stated. But insert the second “also”:

As we shall explain, refoulement is also prohibited
under a number of other international conventions which the United Kingdom has
ratified. There are also several Acts of Parliament which protect refugees against
refoulement.

The “also” makes it impossible to argue that the international conventions have no weight without the Acts of Parliament. Do you see it now?

The Supreme Court then does go on to discuss the several areas of UK domestic law that do establish the principle of non-refoulement, but I thought the initial approach was very interesting. There is an unresolved tension over the status of international law inside the UK, and the Supreme Court rather leaves it floating. Should the Assange case reach the Supreme Court, it does not appear to me impossible they may take a different view on the applicability of the “no political extradition” clause of the Treaty under which the extradition is taking place.

I am of course delighted about the spoke in the wheel of the appalling Rwanda deportation project. Anyone paying attention to social media is bound to have noticed the correlation between support for the Rwanda proposal and support for Israel’s genocidal actions. I suppose it is all a part of a general racism and Islamophobia.

One further question left hanging by the Supreme Court is the “Flat Earth” question. This is likely to arise fairly soon, if the Tories carry through their promise to specifically legislate for the legality of deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The question is this.

The Supreme Court has ruled it did not have to accept the Patel/Braverman assessment of the safety of Rwanda, but had the duty to make its own determination. But if parliament were to pass a law stating that Rwanda is safe, rather than that the Secretary of State can designate it safe, would the court still have the right to exercise its own judgment in face of what would be a strange but extant statute ?

If Parliament passed a law stating that the Earth is flat, would that mean that in UK law the Earth is flat, or could judges make their own assessment? How do you square the answer to that question with the ruling doctrine of the sovereignty of the King in Parliament?

We may be going to find out, if the Tories are determined to push ahead with legislation on the safety of Rwanda, as they propose. We find ourselves asking ludicrous questions with a straight face, but that is where crazed Tory rule has taken us.

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Palestine Can Reunite and Reinvigorate Scottish Independence 183

The UK government is actively complicit in genocide in Gaza – indeed with its supply of weapons to Israel, provision of communications intelligence and aerial surveillance and participation of UK special services, I would argue it is more than complicit. The UK government is a part of committing genocide in Gaza. This is vile to many people in the UK, but it is especially anathema to a large majority of people in Scotland.

This YouGov survey of November 2 shows that a strong majority of people in Scotland say that their sympathies lie on the Palestinian side, whereas both in England and in Wales majority support is on the Israeli side by a small margin.

Furthermore this survey attempts to measure strength of feeling, and Scottish support for Palestine is the most strongly held opinion in any constituent part of the UK and on any side of the question, by a wide margin, with 43% of Palestinian sympathising Scots holding that view “a great deal”.

Earlier YouGov surveys gave the same result, with Scotland being the only UK nation with majority Palestinian support. This one is for 24 October.

Across the UK as whole, there is a massive difference in age group, with support for Palestine very high among young people, who sympathise with Palestine by 46% to just 9% for Israel. Support for Israel is highest amongst over 65s, by 30% to 10%. I suspect it is related both to closeness of birth to the Second World War, and to propensity to use mainstream media for news.

I would stress that none of this is new: polls have always shown much higher support for Palestine in Scotland than in England. The same is also true of Ireland, and I have no doubt that in both Scotland and Ireland this instinctive support for the Palestinians is in part related to folk memory of dispossession from the land and colonial occupation.

14/10/2023. Pic sof a pro-Palestine / anti-Israel demonstration at the steps on Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

It is important to remember that the extraordinary rise of the SNP and support for Scottish Independence in the first decades of this century was, in part, fuelled by revulsion at the heavy UK involvement at the attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Those imperialist wars resulted in millions of dead and maimed and tens of millions of displaced, and the complete destruction of infrastructure in those countries.

The urge to be free from a state that continually engaged in aggressive war motivated a great many Scots to support Independence. It can do so again now over UK support for Gaza. Blair’s rampant neo-imperialism also did much to break Scotland’s support for the Labour Party. We might now realistically hope for a similar reaction to Starmer’s Zionism.

That revulsion is now felt again. Every citizen of the UK is tainted by the support of the British state for genocide. We all bear a drop of responsibility for each drop of child’s blood spilt in Gaza. Because like it or not, the UK government represents us. The military support it gives to Israel is paid for with our taxes. None of us did enough to prevent being ruled by callous enablers of murder. There are degrees of complicity, but everybody is tainted.

All three major England-based parties – the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats – openly support Israel and oppose efforts to halt the genocide.

I hear a number of the wonderful people who marched through London for peace last weekend, and in many other English cities, groaning at me. Of course there is a strong movement for Palestine in England, and a great many of my friends are in it. But here in Scotland we are operating in a fundamentally different political culture, that values community and horizontal solidarity.

We Scots deserve the right to allow that culture to flourish away from the imposition of an alien political culture by a much larger neighbouring nation.

Suella Braverman’s far-right bully boys were only the tip of the iceberg of racism which has been enabled in Europe by the support of conservative political elites for the genocidal attack on Gaza. The morass of online Islamophobic and anti-immigrant abuse which accompanies the pro-Israeli rhetoric is frightening. This “war of civilisations” undercurrent is there right across Europe. Where there have been pro-Israeli demonstrations, they have been remarkably white.

Here in Scotland I have been impressed by Humza Yousaf, the Scottish First Minister, for his calm and serious reaction to the Gaza genocide and his unequivocal call for a ceasefire. Yousaf has subsequently been treated to an insane barrage of racist and Islamophobic abuse online. This should be a rallying point for all decent Scottish people to defend their First Minister from racism, whatever smaller disagreements they may have.

This points the way to a reinvigoration of the Independence movement. I can find no statistics on it, but it is evident from social media that there is a very strong correlation between unionism and support for Israel, and between Independence support and support for Palestine.

For Independence to be achieved in the short term, Independence supporters need to rally round a cause, and Palestine is it. There is clear blue water between Scottish and English opinion, and there is clear blue water between Scottish and London political parties. There is also clear blue water within Scotland between nationalist and unionist opinion.

The Palestinian cause is popular in Scotland and in fighting it, we also fight racism. This is the moment to focus on working together on Palestine and putting any divisive issues less acute than genocide (and all issues are less acute than genocide) firmly on the back burner, or perhaps in the fridge.

SNP and Alba party MPs walked together through the Westminster lobby to support a ceasefire in Gaza, while the leadership of Tory, Labour and Liberal parties all voted for more killing. Let us build on that.

Nothing is more fundamental than genocide, nothing is more urgent to prevent than genocide. Let us work together to prevent it.

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Activating the Genocide Convention 335

There are 149 states party to the Genocide Convention. Every one of them has the right to call out the genocide in progress in Gaza and report it to the United Nations. In the event that another state party disputes the claim of genocide – and Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom are all states party – then the International Court of Justice is required to adjudicate on “the responsibility of a State for genocide”.

These are the relevant articles of the genocide convention:

Article VIII
Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III.
 
Article IX
Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide or for any of the other acts enumerated in article III, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to the dispute.

Note that here “parties to the dispute” means the states disputing the facts of genocide, not the parties to the genocide/conflict. Any single state party is able to invoke the Convention.

There is no doubt that Israel’s actions amount to genocide. Numerous international law experts have said so and genocidal intent has been directly expressed by numerous Israeli ministers, generals and public officials.

This is the definition of genocide in international law, from the Genocide Convention:

Article II
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

I can see no room to doubt whatsoever that Israel’s current campaign of bombing of civilians and of the deprivation of food, water and other necessities of life to Palestinians amounts to genocide under articles II a), b) and c).

It is also worth considering Articles III and IV:

Article III
The following acts shall be punishable:
(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.
 
Article IV
Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

There is, at the very least, a strong prima facie case that the actions of the United States and United Kingdom and others, in openly providing direct military support to be used in genocide, are complicity in genocide. The point of Article IV is that individuals are responsible, not just states. So Netanyahu, Biden and Sunak bear individual responsibility. So, indeed, do all those who have been calling for the destruction of the Palestinians.

It is very definitely worth activating the Genocide Convention. A judgement of the International Court of Justice that Israel is guilty of genocide would have an extraordinary diplomatic effect and would cause domestic difficulties in the UK and even in the US in continuing to subsidise and arm Israel. The International Court of Justice is the most respected of international institutions; while the United States has repudiated its compulsory jurisdiction, the United Kingdom has not and the EU positively accepts it.

If the International Court of Justice makes a determination of genocide, then the International Criminal Court does not have to determine that genocide has happened. This is important because unlike the august and independent ICJ, the ICC is very much a western government puppet institution which will wiggle out of action if it can. But a determination of the ICJ of genocide and of complicity in genocide would reduce the ICC’s task to determining which individuals bear the responsibility. That is a prospect which can indeed alter the calculations of politicians.

It is also the fact that a reference for genocide would force the western media to address the issue and use the term, rather than just pump out propaganda about Hamas fighting bases in hospitals. Furthermore a judgement from the ICJ would automatically trigger a reference to the United Nations General Assembly – crucially not to the western-vetoed Security Council.

All this begs the question of why no state has yet invoked the Genocide Convention. This is especially remarkable as Palestine is one of the 149 states party to the Genocide Convention, and for this purpose would have standing before both the UN and the ICJ.

I am afraid the question of why Palestine has not invoked the Genocide Convention takes us somewhere very dark. Anyone who, like George Galloway and myself, cut their political teeth in left-wing politics of Dundee of the 1970s has (long story) their experience and contacts with Fatah, and my sympathies have always very much lain with Fatah rather than Hamas. They still do, with the aspiration for a democratic, secular Palestine. It is Fatah who occupy the Palestinian seat at the United Nations, and the decision for Palestine to call into play the Genocide Convention lies with Mahmoud Abbas.

It is more and more difficult daily to support Abbas. He seems extraordinarily passive, and the suspicion that he is more concerned with refighting the Palestinian civil war than with resisting the genocide is impossible to shake. By invoking the Genocide Convention he could put himself and Fatah back at the centre of the narrative. But he does nothing. I do not want to believe that corruption and a Blinken promise of inheriting Gaza are Mahmoud’s motivators. But at the moment, I cannot grab on to any other explanation to believe in.

Any one of the 139 states party could invoke the Genocide Convention against Israel and its co-conspirators. Those states include Iran, Russia, Libya, Malaysia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Afghanistan, Cuba, Ireland, Iceland, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey and Qatar. But not one of these states has called out the genocide. Why?

It is not because the Genocide Convention is a dead letter. It is not. It was invoked against Serbia by Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ICJ ruled against Serbia with regard to the massacre at Srebrenica. This fed directly through to ICC prosecutions.

Some states may simply not have thought of it. For Arab states in particular, the fact that Palestine itself has not invoked the Genocide Convention may provide an excuse. EU states can hide behind bloc unanimity.

But I am afraid that the truth is that no state cares sufficiently about the thousands of Palestinian children already killed and thousands more who will shortly be killed, to introduce another factor of hostility in their relationship with the United States. Just as at this weekend’s summit in Saudi Arabia, where Islamic countries could not agree an oil and gas boycott of Israel, the truth is that those in power really do not care about a genocide in Gaza. They care about their own interests.

It just needs one state to invoke the Genocide Convention and change the narrative and the international dynamic. That will only happen through the power of the people in pressing the idea on their governments. This is where everybody can do a little something to add to the pressure. Please do what you can.

Hat tip to the indefatigable Sam Husseini who has been pressing the Genocide Convention on the White House.

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Fighting Back Against the State 102

It may seem hopeless, but we have to continue to hold back the tide of fascism with all our might. This letter is self-explanatory, and I think its staid legal argument brings out the absurdity of deeming me a terrorist danger to the UK.

I honestly believe that I am fighting not for myself – my life is turned upside down – but for important principles. For freedom of speech and the right of the public to information, as exemplified in the case of Julian Assange. For universal human rights, as exemplified by the struggle of the Palestinians. For the right of citizen journalists to write without persecution, as exemplified by my own case and others. I am afraid this all costs money. I am grateful for the unfailing generosity of people in what is a continuing struggle.

But I do very much need contributions to the defence fund:




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The Curious Hacking of @craigmurrayorg 108

This post may generate a tweet on @matthuag (which the hacked @craigmurrayorg has been renamed) because the autoposting programme interacts differently with Twitter (called a Twitter API).

When my account was hacked yesterday the hacker changed the password, email address, telephone number and username. They quickly tweeted out a post in praise of Hitler in my original username before changing it, which indicates that the primary motivation was defamation. They then subsequently changed the user id to @MattHuag, apparently to create an account stealing the identity of @MattHuang, which seems like a ruse to disguise the motivation.

But here is the rub. Twitter does not let you change the password, email address, phone number and username of an account all at once, for obvious reasons. The email I received from Twitter that alerted me to the hack makes plain that once you change the password, your ability to make some other changes is suspended.

Three people have now tried to replicate making all these changes on a Twitter account and nobody has succeeded (see for example comments below). So it appears that whoever did this hack was within Twitter or has a backdoor into Twitter to overcome these safeguards. That obviously points towards a security service rather than a random hacker. My twitter following had grown to over 136,000 and some individual tweets on Gaza were gaining 10,000 likes.

It is of course the case that all my electronics were confiscated by the state less than a month ago, and while they cloned and returned my laptop, they still have my phone. I was always confident there is nothing criminal on them, so I wonder whether this is just an attempt to bolster some kind of case with an outrageous tweet.

Subject to an “anti-terrorism investigation”, I do not view it as safe currently to return to the UK. Whether the investigation relates to my support for Wikileaks or to my support for Palestine, or to both, I do not know, as the police have not said why I am being investigated.

I honestly believe I am not fighting for me, but against encroaching fascism in Western societies. It is for freedom from an ever-encroaching police state and from a political class trying to enforce a monopoly of information to the public. The fight can only happen at all with financial support from the amazing readers of this blog. You have seen me through so much, and I am very grateful.




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The Right of Self-Defence 244

Israel does have the right of self-defence, but only in precisely the same way other countries do. In fact, the only unique factor about Israel here is that it is the only country to have been found by the International Court of Justice specifically to have abused and exceeded the concept of right of self-defence, in its treatment of the Palestinians.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice, in an advisory Opinion to the UN General Assembly, ruled illegal Israel’s construction of its great Wall, which is a fundamental part of the Israeli Apartheid system. The court considered Israel’s argument of self-defence and ruled that this did not justify the numerous breaches of international law represented by the Wall:

While Israel has the right, and indeed the duty to respond to the numerous and
deadly acts of violence directed against its civilian population, in order to protect the life of its
citizens, the measures taken are bound to remain in conformity with applicable international law.
Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the
wrongfulness of the construction of the wall. The Court accordingly finds that the construction of
the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law.

It flows from this that Israel cannot use “self-defence” as a trump card to tear up international law in the current situation in Palestine. The use of collective punishment against a civilian population—including via starvation, thirst and deprivation of medicine, the carpet bombing, the use of white phosphorus, the attacks on medical facilities, the attacks on medical staff, the execution of prisoners, the clearly genocidal attempt—none of these war crimes is excusable as “self-defence”.

The military cooperation of the US, UK and Australian governments—in an attack which they know is engaged in committing egregious war crimes—also opens those responsible to war crimes charges for their active complicity and indeed conspiracy.

Furthermore, there is in fact a positive legal duty on states to be acting against Israel in view of Israel’s refusal to dismantle the Wall and the Apartheid system in the occupied territories—including the widespread criminal settling and stealing of land which that system embodies. This is the International Court of Justice judgment on the obligations of other states:

Given the character and the importance of the rights and obligations involved, the Court is of the view that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. They are also under an obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction. It is also for all States, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to see to it that any impediment, resulting from the construction of the wall, to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination is brought to an end. In addition, all the States parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 are under an obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.

Read that paragraph very carefully. Israel has not undertaken any of the actions specified by the ICJ and has indeed built more settlements and imposed more restrictions. It is absolutely plain that the UK, US and European Union are not only not fulfilling their duty in international law as set out by the International Court of Justice,—

The US, UK and EU are acting directly opposite to their obligation in international law under the ICJ ruling.

The BDS movement is acting precisely in line with the obligations set out by the International Court of Justice, while the states attempting to ban the BDS movement are acting precisely against the obligations imposed on them by the International Court of Justice.

Finally, the ruling must imply the Palestinians do indeed have the right of self-defence. Because you cannot have the “right of self-determination”, which the court acknowledges, without the right of self-defence. Because it is impossible to exercise self-determination if somebody else can remove your bodily integrity at whim. That right of self-defence must perforce be exercised by whoever has de facto control of Palestinian territory at the time.

I am indebted to a number of staff and national delegates at the United Nations in Geneva for pointing out to me the importance of the 2004 ICJ ruling in the current context. I hope it helps you understand why the lies of Biden, von der Leyen, Sunak, Starmer, Macron etc. are indeed lies.

Subject to an “anti-terrorism investigation”, I do not view it as safe currently to return to the UK. Whether the investigation relates to my support for Wikileaks or to my support for Palestine, or to both, I do not know, as the police have not said why I am being investigated.

I honestly believe I am not fighting for me, but against encroaching fascism in Western societies. It is for freedom from an ever-encroaching police state and from a political class trying to enforce a monopoly of information to the public. The fight can only happen at all with financial support from the amazing readers of this blog. You have seen me through so much, and I am very grateful.




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“A Textbook Case of Genocide”. 421

The resignation letter of Craig Mokhiber, Director of the New York Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has gone viral on social media but most posts only show page one. Here is the full four page letter.

This needs no gloss from me. Craig is one of the world’s leading international lawyers.

I am writing this in Geneva where I am tomorrow meeting UN officials to pursue my own case: both my unprecedented in modern times jailing for contempt of court, and the current surreal persecution under the terrorism act. I shall also be raising the case of other journalists subjected to persecution under the terrorism act, including Kit Klarenberg, Vanessa Beeley and Johanna Ross.

This account from John Laughland is interesting in how precisely it accords with my own experience, particularly in being held for exactly an hour with no right to remain silent and no right to a lawyer.

By one of those astonishing coincidences in life, tomorrow is the United Nations International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

I am not making it up, that really is a thing.

And the major theme of the keynote meeting is

“to bring visibility to a new Study on the impact of counter-terrorism and other criminal laws on media freedom and safety of journalists. Panellists will explore legal challenges faced by journalists and the increasing practice of resorting to restrictive legal frameworks to unduly interfere with the work of journalists.”

So I could hardly have walked in at a more auspicious moment.

Subject to an “anti-terrorism investigation”, I do not view it as safe currently to return to the UK. Whether the investigation relates to my support for Wikileaks or to my support for Palestine, or to both, I do not know as the police have not said why I am being investigated.

I honestly believe I am not fighting for me, but against encroaching fascism in western societies. It is for freedom from an ever encroaching police state and from a political class trying to enforce a monopoly of information to the public. The fight can only happen at all with financial support from the amazing readers of this blog. You have seen me through so much, and I am very grateful.




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Zionism Is Bullshit 271

In 2009 I spoke to a demonstration of 300,000 in London against another Israeli massacre in Gaza, which coincidentally killed just over 1400 people, the same number claimed killed during the recent Hamas attacks. Strangely Western politicians did not shout out about Palestine’s right to self-defence. A lesson for those who think history began on 7 October 2023.

I am rather proud of this speech. Sadly, every word applicable today.

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Cold Blooded Killers and their Cheerleaders 385

The Guardian’s main headline today is the Israeli propaganda framing of last night’s huge massacre.

The Zionist grip on the political and media class is stark. Ordinary citizens are left with feelings ranging from rage to deep sorrow, but with a feeling of helplessness at having no power and no genuine voice in the country where they live. The bought-and-paid-for politicians intone “Israel’s right to self-defence” as justifying the slaughter of any number of Palestinian children.

They pretend they do not see the obvious genocide which is happening before their eyes. The Guardian’s framing of the death of hundreds, probably thousands, of young children last night, as destruction of Hamas tunnels, ought to be astonishing. Sadly it is entirely unsurprising.

Here is a reminder of how it works. Joan Ryan MP secretly filmed talking to Shai Masot of the Israeli Embassy in London.

Last night, well after the latest extreme massacre phase had started, the BBC 10 o’clock evening news presented a single volley of Hamas no-warhead popgun missiles – which as usual killed nobody – as equivalent to the massive Israeli high explosive bombardment. They then featured a lengthy interview with a “heroic” clean-cut Israeli soldier who fought a Hamas attack on a military base on 7 October despite being wounded, and who explained that the attacks on Gaza are justified as they will free Israel from terrorism.

All this while the massive massacre was in progress in Gaza. The strange thing is, the BBC and the Guardian, and nearly the entire rest of the MSM, pump out their propaganda as though we have no other access to information or understanding of what is happening.

More than that, there seems to be a presumption that the general population harbour the same Zionist assumptions which the journalists are paid to promote. Well, we don’t. It feels like something has snapped, not only in Palestine but in the UK and much of Europe, where the process of alienation between the governed and the ruling classes has been accelerated.

Democracy has been failing in the West for a while – to take the UK as an example, the idea that a “choice” between Sunak and Starmer offers any kind of democratic alternative is risible. There are key moments in societal breakdown, and this is one.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Fighting the British Police State – Somebody Has To 99

I didn’t really volunteer to fight the British police state, it came after me. But here we are, and here I am, in Switzerland, seeking the protection of the United Nations. I still don’t actually know whether the terrorism investigation into me is focused on Palestine or on Wikileaks. It seems to be both and anything else they can get. My legal team is now active in Scotland seeking some kind of clarification and explanation, which will probably require a judicial review.

My experience of British airports being discouraging recently, I went by public transport from Edinburgh to Belfast. Arriving very late in Belfast due to the storm, I missed the last train to Dublin. Not wanting to stay in Belfast, I flagged down a taxi in the street and asked the driver to take me to Dublin. He did not wish to, so late at night. Then we realised we had worked in the same bar in Aviemore 45 years ago! I have always believed life is governed by forces we do not know.

We have sent a formal complaint to the UN about this bogus terrorism persecution, to add to the complaint about my imprisonment which is already under review.

Two quick points to add.

This is the third time since my imprisonment on an outrageous contempt of court finding, that I have been harassed and interviewed by the police. The first was over the leaking of Peter Murrell’s WhatsApp message to Sue Ruddick instructing her to put pressure on the police to act against Alex Salmond. The second was over Stewart MacDonald’s leaked emails. In neither of these incidents was I charged with any crime, nor could the police even tell me what offence they were investigating. And now this “terrorism” utter nonsense.

The second point is that the abuse of special anti-terrorism powers at ports in order to seize all papers and communications of journalists is becoming commonplace. Three other journalists I know personally – Vanessa Beeley, Kit Klarenberg and Johanna Ross – have suffered this. There are many other examples, most notably David Miranda. This really is police state stuff, yet there is an extraordinary lack of outrage from human rights organisations and the mainstream media.

So I now have this new fight. Or I should say we now have this new fight, because the fight can only happen at all with financial support from the amazing readers of this blog. You have seen me through so much, and I am very grateful.

But I honestly do believe that the fight is not for me, it is for freedom from an ever encroaching police state and from a political class trying to enforce a monopoly of information to the public.




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Incredibly, I Face Investigation for Terrorism – Defence Funds Appeal 355

My phone is not being returned to me by police as, astonishingly, I am now formally under investigation for terrorism. Whether this relates to support for Palestine or for Wikileaks has currently not been made clear.

What follows is, unspun and unvarnished, my account of my interview under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act as given to my lawyers:

I arrived from Keflavik airport, Iceland to Glasgow airport at about 10am on Monday 16 October. After passport control I was stopped by three police officers, two male and one female, who asked me to accompany them to a detention room.

They seated me in the room and told me:

I was detained under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act

I was not arrested but detained, and therefore had no right to a lawyer.

I had no right to remain silent. I had to give full and accurate information in response to questions. It was a criminal offence to withhold any relevant information.

I had to give up any passwords to my devices. It was a criminal offence not to do this.

They searched my baggage and my coat, going through my documents and taking my phone and laptop. They did not look at one document from Julian Assange’s lawyers that I told them was privileged.

They asked me about boarding cards for Brussels and Dublin they found and what I had been doing there. I replied I was at a debate at Trinity College in Dublin, while in Brussels I had attended a human rights meeting focused on the case of Julian Assange.

They asked me to identify the individuals from some visiting cards I had from the Brussels meeting (one was a German MP).

They asked me the purpose of my visit to Iceland. I told them that I was attending a coordinating meeting of the campaign to free Julian Assange. I said I had also attended a pro-Palestinian rally outside the Icelandic parliament, but that had not been a prior intention.

They asked how I earnt my living. I said from two sources: voluntary subscriptions to my blog, and my civil service pension.

They asked what organisations I am a member of. I said the Alba party. I said I worked with Wikileaks and the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign, but was not formally a “member” of either. I was a life member of the FDA union. No other organisations.

They asked if I received any money from Wikileaks, from Don’t Extradite Assange or from the Assange family (separate questions). I replied no, except occasional travel expenses from Don’t Extradite Assange. In December I had done a tour of Germany and received a fee from the Wau Holland Foundation, a German free speech charity.

They asked what other campaigns I had been involved in. I said many, from the Anti-Nazi League and Anti-Apartheid movement on. I had campaigned for Guantanamo inmates alongside Caged Prisoners.

They asked why I had attended the pro-Palestine demo in Iceland. I said one of the speakers had invited me, Ögmundur Jónasson. He was a former Icelandic Interior Minister. I said I did not know what the speeches said as they were all in Icelandic.

They asked whether I intended to attend any pro-Palestinian rallies in the UK. I said I had no plans but probably would.

They asked how I judged whether to speak alongside others on the same platform. I replied I depended on organisers I trusted, like the Palestine Solidarity Committee or Stop the War. It was impossible to know who everyone was at a big rally.

They asked if anyone else posted to my twitter or blog. I replied no, it was all me.

They asked how considered my tweets were. I replied that those which were links to my blog posts were my considered writing. Others were more ephemeral, and like everyone else I sometimes made mistakes and sometimes apologised. They asked if I deleted tweets and I said very seldom.

I volunteered that I thought I understood the tweet that worried them and agreed it could have been more nuanced. This was the limitation of twitter. It was intended to refer only to the current situation within Gaza and the Palestinian people’s right of self-defence from genocide.

That was more or less it. The interview was kept to exactly an hour and at one point one said to another “18 minutes left”. They did not tell me why. At one point they did mention protected journalistic material on my laptop but I was too dazed to take advantage of this and specify anything.

They took my bank account details and copies of all my bank cards.

ENDS

This is an enormous abuse of human rights. The abuse of process in refusing both a lawyer and the right to remain silent, the inquiry into perfectly legal campaigning which is in no way terrorism-associated, the political questioning, the financial snooping and the seizure of material related to my private life, were all based on an utterly fake claim that I am associated with terrorism.

I have to date not been arrested and not charged. Contempt of court is therefore not in play and you are free to comment on the case (although in the current atmosphere any kind of free thought is liable to vicious state action). I am safe and currently in Dublin. I intend next to travel to Switzerland to take this up with the United Nations.

My legal team have already made a submission against this outrage to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and are looking at the possibility of judicial review in the UK. We also have to prepare the defence against possible terrorism charges, ludicrous as that sounds.

I am afraid this all costs money. I am grateful for the unfailing generosity of people in what seems a continual history of persecution.




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Genocide Unfolding 243

Tonight has been the most violent bombardment of Gaza so far, notably concentrated on precisely the areas into which Israel ordered the population to evacuate. I find it almost impossible to believe that this genocide is under way with the active support of almost all western governments.

 

I want to look at two questions – what will happen internationally, and what is happening in western societies.

Israel plainly is on the course of further escalation and intends to kill many thousands more Palestinians. More than 2,000 Palestinian children alone have now been killed by Israeli aerial attack in the last fortnight.

Gaza has no defence from bombs and missiles, and there is no military reason why Israel cannot keep this up for months and simply rely upon aerial massacre. We are perhaps within a week of thirst, starvation and disease killing even more people per day than bombardment.

The population of Gaza are simply defenceless. Only international intervention can stop Israel from doing whatever it wishes, and those countries which have influence with Israel are actively abetting and encouraging the genocide.

The question is, what is Israel’s aim? Do they intend to reduce the Gaza Strip still further, annexing half or more of it? Will starvation and horror enable the international community to force Egypt to accept the expulsion of the population of Gaza into the Sinai Desert as a “humanitarian” move?

That appears to be the end game: expulsion of population and territorial expansion into Gaza. That would require a ground invasion, but probably not until after even more intense aerial bombardment to eliminate all resistance. This territorial ambition of course accords with the violent expansion of illegal settlement in the West Bank which is currently under way, with the world paying almost no attention.  It is very hard indeed to comprehend the passivity of Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas at the moment.

Netanyahu’s political stock within Israel is so low, that the only way he can recover is by making a major step towards the complete genocide of the Palestinian people and the achievement of Greater Israel.  Netanyahu now knows that there is no violence against Palestinians so extreme that the western political elite will not support it under the mantra of “Israel’s right to self-defence”.

I do not see any salvation for Gaza coming from Hezbollah. If Hezbollah were to employ their vaunted missile strike capabilities, the moment to do it would be now when the Israeli armour is drawn up in massive parks outside Gaza, a perfect target even for longer range missiles of limited accuracy. Once dispersed into Gaza the armour would be far harder for Hezbollah to hit at range.

Hezbollah is even better equipped now to fight a defensive war in Lebanon than it was when it defeated the Israeli advance in 2006. But it is not configured or equipped to fight an aggressive ground war into Israel, which would be a disaster. It also has to worry about hostile militias in its rear. If Hezbollah can provoke an Israeli incursion into Southern Lebanon, that would enable it to inflict substantial casualties, but Israel is not going to do that in a way that detracts from its capabilities in Gaza.

Iran has greatly improved its diplomatic position in the last year. The Chinese-brokered lessening of hostility with Saudi Arabia has potential to revolutionise Middle Eastern politics, and the benefits of this will not lightly be laid aside by Tehran. Iran had also made real progress with the Biden administration in overcoming the blind hostility of the Trump years.

Iran has no desire to throw away these gains.  That is why it seems to me extremely improbable that Iran had endorsed the 7 October attacks by Hamas. Iran is now restraining Hezbollah. But there are limits to the patience of Iran. The extraordinary truth is that Iran is probably the only state under discussion here with a genuine humanitarian concern for the lives of Palestinians. If the genocide unfolds as horribly as I anticipate, Iran can be pushed too far.

That said, I offer just a cautionary footnote that Saudi Arabia is not, under MBS, quite the reliable US/Israeli puppet it has historically been. I do not have much time for MBS, as you know, but his high opinion of the importance of the Al Saud and their leadership role among arabs, makes him a different proposition to his predecessor.

Saudi Arabia has leverage. The Biden administration has gone all in on regional domination, sending two aircraft carrier groups into a situation which should it escalate, could send oil prices to highest-ever levels, with Russia blocked from the market. Biden is risking a huge gas price hike in an election year.

Biden’s calculation, or that of his security services, is that nobody can or will intervene to save the Palestinians. They judge the genocide as containable. That is an extraordinary gamble.

There has been an extraordinary amount of vitriol aimed at Qatar by pro-Israel commentators, for hosting the Hamas office and leadership. This is extraordinarily ignorant.

Qatar hosts Hamas, just as Qatar hosted the Taliban Information Office, at the direct request of the United States. It provides a means of dialogue between the United States and Hamas (exactly as it did with the Taliban) both at deniable level, and through third parties, including of course the government of Qatar. Thus when Blinken arrived in Qatar one day and the Iranian foreign minister the next, these were in fact “proximity talks” involving Hamas.

How do I know? Well, at Julian’s request, I visited Qatar about five years ago to discuss whether Julian, and Wikileaks, might potentially relocate to Qatar, which Julian had described as “the new Switzerland” in terms of being a neutral diplomatic venue.

It was explained to me by the Qataris, at a very senior level, that Qatar hosted the Taliban Information Office and Hamas because the United States government had asked them to do so. Qatar hosted a major US military base and depended on US support against a Saudi takeover. If I could generate a request from then President Trump for Qatar to host Wikileaks, then they would do so. Otherwise, no.

So I know what I am talking about.

One tiny but good result of this brokering in Qatar was the release of two American national hostages. British diplomats have told me that discussions in Qatar have so far held back the Israeli ground offensive, but I am not convinced that Israel really wished to do this yet. They are having sadistic fun shooting children in a barrel.

Qatar has also been the origin of deals allowing in a tiny amount of aid to Gaza, but this is so small as to be almost irrelevant. It is performative humanitarianism by the West.

I have frequently praised China for the fact that their economic dominance has been unaccompanied by any aggressive desire for world hegemony, but this also has its downside. China sees no benefit in assisting the Palestinians in practice. Hopeful reports of China sending warships refer simply to pre-planned exercises, largely in the Gulf. That China is carrying out such joint exercises with Gulf states is indeed part of a long term increasing of influence, but is not relevant to the immediate reality.

Russia of course has its hands full in Ukraine. It is allowing its Syrian bases to be used as a conduit following increased Israeli bombing of Syrian airports, but there is not a great deal more that it can do. Erdoğan is genuinely furious at what is happening in Gaza, but Turkey is struggling to find any way to apply pressure, barring linkage to Ukraine shipping issues (which Erdoğan is considering).

That is a very rough and ready tour d’horizon, but the net effect is that I see no current hope for averting the atrocity which is unfolding before our horrified eyes.

Most of our eyes are indeed horrified. The gap between the western political and media elites and their people on this issue is simply enormous. Western leaders have not only failed to restrain Israel, they have almost unanimously egged Netanyahu on, with the continued repetition of the phrase “Israel’s right to self-defence” as justification for the mass bombing, removal and starvation of an entire civilian population.

The western leadership glee in vetoing every attempt at a ceasefire resolution at the UN is astonishing.

Massive demonstrations have been taking place across Europe against this unspeakable massacre, and the knee-jerk reaction of politicians at their isolation from public opinion has been to try to make such shows of dissent illegal. In the UK people have been arrested for displaying Palestinian flags. In Germany pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been entirely banned. Something similar has been attempted in France, with predictable failure.

I have myself attended pro-Palestinian demonstrations in three different countries, and the most striking thing on each occasion was the strong support of passers-by, and the number of people spontaneously coming out to join the demo as it passed.

A wave of racism has been unleashed in the UK and elsewhere. I am astonished by the Islamophobia and racial hatred released online, with no apparent comeback. UK Ministers claim to be alarmed at the “terrorist sympathies” of pro-Palestinian demonstrators, yet it is perfectly legal to call for Palestinians to be exterminated, to compare them to different types of animal and vermin, and suggest they should be driven into the sea. That does not horrify ministers at all.

I am personally now subject to a police investigation for “terrorism” merely for suggesting that the Palestinians too have a right to self-defence and may offer armed resistance to genocide – a right they enjoy beyond doubt in international law. Remember, Israel has formally declared war. Is it the position in British law that the only belief it is legal to hold and express, is that in this war the Palestinians must simply line up quietly to be killed?

The step change in western authoritarianism is likely to be met by blowback.

After 20 years, we had finally come through the vicious cycle of the “War on Terror”, where terrorism, repression and institutionalised Islamophobia all boosted each other across the western world. Outrage at the appalling genocide in Gaza is very likely to result in isolated incidences of, also appalling, Islamist-inspired violence in Western countries, including the UK, particularly because of the UK’s military support of Israel.

That consequential terrorism in itself will be cited by the political elite as justifying their stance. And so the vicious cycle will restart. This will of course be welcome to the agents of the security state, whose power, budgets and prestige will be boosted. Once again we have to be on the lookout for radicalisation and real terrorism, but also for agent-provocateur-led terrorism and for false flag terrorism.

If we descend back into that nightmare again, the direct cause will be elite support for the genocide of the Palestinian people and the Islamophobic narrative. The major cause of terrorism here is Israel, the terrorist apartheid state.

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Fascism in the West to Enable Genocide in Palestine 1249

The UK and the US are both sending military assistance to Israel to commit a calculated and deliberate act of genocide, which is already underway.

Over 500 children have been killed in Gaza in the last week and over 2,000 maimed, many with life changing injuries. Nobody can claim they do not know what is already happening or what is about to unfold. The cutting off of food and water to Gaza is a major international crime, which the western proponents of the “rules based order” universally refuse to condemn.

In both the UK and the US there can be no more stark illustration of the lack of any kind of meaningful democracy, than the fact that there is no major political party that opposes the genocide – despite massive public opposition.

The bought and paid for media and political class in the west are extremely nervous, throughout the western world. Now they have come to the final genocide for which zionism has always aimed, they face a good deal of popular resistance.

Throughout Europe there is a massive gap between the zionist unanimity of the politicians and the much greater understanding of the Palestinian situation among the general public. Tellingly the response by the zionist political class has been a wave of outright fascist suppression.

In France, Macron has made all pro-Palestinian demonstrations illegal, but as so often the French people are not standing for that kind of authoritarianism.

In the UK, the police have adopted the cowardly tactic of arresting a couple of individuals, one in Brighton and one in Manchester, for pro-Palestinian demonstration. Under Tony Blair’s notorious draconian “anti-terror” legislation, they could face up to 14 years in prison.

The young man in Manchester was arrested on the precise site of the famous “Peterloo massacre”, which generations of British people were taught at school was a terrible crime in breach of the rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Let the irony of that set in.

You can go out in the streets of the UK with an Israeli flag and yell that you want every Palestinian to be cleansed from Gaza. That is not illegal. If you say the Palestinians have a right to resist their genocide, that is illegal.

That appears to be a genuine analysis of the law in the UK, France and many other western countries.

That is intended to terrify all of us. It will not work.

The European Commission has been ferociously zionist and gung-ho for this Palestinian genocide. It displayed the Israeli flag on its Berlaymont headquarters. It has taken a side in the most ferocious way.

It is therefore deeply sinister that the European Commission is actively working to shut down pro-Palestinian information and comment on social media. The European Commission has written to all major social media organisations and is able to threaten them with massive fines if they do not remove information of which the European Union disapproves.

The notion is plainly nonsense that through the fog of war the European Commission – which is 100% parti pris – is qualified to say what information is true and what information is false, and what comment is legitimate.

Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner in charge of this operation, is a former chief executive of electronic companies – and defence contractors – Atos and Thomson. He has no genuine interest in freedom of speech, and is engaged in a process of silencing dissent for military aims, which is quite simply fascist.

We are witnessing almost all western governments deliberately facilitating massacre, ethnic cleansing and genocide. We are witnessing almost all western governments turning on their own people to crush dissent at that complicity in genocide.

This feels not so much like the week that western democracy died, as the week it was impossible any longer to deny that western democracy died some time ago.

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Now We Have Your Attention 739

There have been decades of photos of dead Palestinian women and children, and kids being beaten, humilated and imprisoned by Israeli soldiers. The historic killing rate in this “conflict” has been fairly consistent at about 40:1.

None of this ever caused more than a raised eyebrow and a mild tut-tut from the western “liberal” Establishment. I can’t recall camera crews ever pursuing any zionist politicians down the street demanding that they use the word “condemn” of the latest Israeli atrocity.

The paroxysm of hatred in the political and media class, unleashed by a single day of the boot being on the other foot is instructive. It is particularly instructive in their near complete unanimity – what percentage of the discussion on broadcast TV or radio have you heard this last 48 hours given over to Palestinian or pro-Palestinian voices?

Yet it is very plain from social media that the public is by no means as unanimous in their support of Israel as are the political and media class.

But then the public are not bought and paid for.

Asymmetric warfare tends to be vile. Oppressed and colonised peoples don’t have the luxury of lining up soldiers in neatly pressed uniforms and polished boots, to face off against the opposing army in an equality of arms.

A colonised and oppressed people tends, given the chance, to mirror the atrocities perpetrated on them by their oppressor.

This of course feeds in, always, to the propaganda of the Imperialist. A paroxysm of resistance by the oppressed always ends up portrayed by the Imperialist as evidence of the bestiality of the colonised people and in itself justifying the “civilising mission” of the coloniser.

Thus the “Indian Mutiny” became a Victorian tale of rape and murder of British women and of the Black Hole of Calcutta. Thus the Mau Mau were evil butchers, and the IRA were terrorists, which is the modern term of art for those resisting evil and foreign rule.

The Israeli Ambassador to the UN yesterday described the Hamas fighters as “animal like”. This of course is not true. They are people, but people who have been crazed by unbearable levels of injustice and oppression.

I am extremely sorry for all those who die, as in all wars. I am sorry even for the deaths of individual Israeli soldiers, and more so for all the innocents who died and are now dying.

But I will not condemn Hamas.

For this I do not even need to delve into the backstory of Hamas’ initial sponsoring by Israel to split Fatah. They have grown well past that. I do not condemn Hamas because the resistance of the Palestinian people is a reflex response to their slow genocide.

Yes it is an inchoate and violent response. Of course I wish it did not have innocent victims.

The people I do condemn are the political class internationally who, with one voice, put out statements supporting “Israel’s right to self-defence”. A right they grant to the oppressor but deny to the oppressed.

Those are the people who need to be condemned.

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Death Wish 2023 261

There can be few safer indicators of the views of the globalist “liberal” Establishment than reports of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which prefers to be known as Chatham House.

Chatham House’s principal funding comes from the UK, US, Canadian, German, Swiss, Japanese, Swedish and Norwegian governments, the World Bank and the EU, and from corporate “philanthropists” including IKEA, Bill Gates, George Soros, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, BP, Chevron, Shell, and ExxonMobil. I could go on.

In other words, Chatham House is absolutely rolling in the dosh controlled by states and the super wealthy. It is headquartered in the palatial residence of the imperial expansionist Prime Minister William Pitt, and has expanded out over time into two great adjoining mansions.

(In 2022 it also, despite all the petroleum bungs, received its largest grant from the MAVA Foundation, a Swiss environmental charity, which was that year closing down and disbursing all its funds).

So Chatham House is a pretty infallible guide as to what those who control western “democracies” are thinking. And when it comes to Ukraine, what they are thinking is terrifying.

Chatham House has released a report which “makes the case for dramatically increased Western military assistance to Ukraine, and argues against concessions to Russia”.

The report is organised as a list of nine “fallacies” which the authors are concerned that Russian propagandists have successfully insinuated into Western thinking, and sets out to refute each of them.

This is rather a high risk approach as, taken together, the nine “fallacies” on the face of it make a cogent and convincing argument against the escalation of the war.

But, convinced of the protection of their amulets of invincible self-righteousness, the authors plunge right in to their refutations.

I do not intend to go through them all. I merely seek to illustrate the intellectual paucity of this lavishly funded enterprise.

The task of debunking the first “fallacy”, that all wars end in negotiation, is given to James Sherr OBE, an American careerist Russophobe who is currently Head of Vilification at the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute (I definitely got the Institute right but I may have mistranslated his title a bit).

Estonia has of course much in common with Ukraine. It gained its national freedom on the collapse of the Soviet Union and it has subsequently put state resources into honouring Nazi Holocaust participants.

Two of the three Estonian Waffen SS officers in this photo have had official plaques to them unveiled in modern Estonia, reported with approval and no sense of controversy in the state media.

I thought I might mention this in case anyone thinks it unfair that Ukrainian Nazis were spotlighted by another Waffen SS member being given a standing ovation by the Canadian parliament. It is only fair to point out that a lot of Ukraine’s closest supporters are riddled with Nazi sympathy also.

Anyway, what does Estonian state employee and US citizen Dr James Sherr, Officer of the Order of the British Empire, former Fellow of the UK Defence Academy, have to tell us about the “fallacy” that all wars end in negotiation?

The first problem is that they don’t. It is true that the majority of wars do not end in absolute victory. Ceasefire, armistice and stalemate terminate most conflicts, even if the ‘peace’ is infirm or short-lived. But where the stakes are absolute, as they were in the Napoleonic wars, the US Civil War and the Second World War, armed conflict usually ends in the victory of one side and the defeat of the other. Negotiation, compromise and reconciliation are undertaken with new regimes only after old regimes are defeated and removed. The Franco-German reconciliation invoked by Emmanuel Macron would have been inconceivable had the Nazis remained in power.

Sherr goes on to argue that the stakes in this war are absolute. It is an existential war for Ukraine because Russia seeks to destroy it entirely, and it is an existential war for Russia because, he argues, Putin believes that Kiev is the cradle of the Russian soul.

Having defined it as an existential war, he says that it follows that it must be escalated up to total war and total victory.

It is very plainly an argument to escalate the war to achieve regime change in Russia:

Negotiation, compromise and reconciliation are undertaken with new regimes only after old regimes are defeated and removed.

Sherr is perfectly happy to contemplate millions of deaths. Look at his comparisons; the Napoleonic Wars entailed 3 million combat deaths, the US civil war about 700,000 combat deaths and the Second World War about 15 million. In each case you can probably more than double that for total civilian deaths caused by those wars.

Let me be absolutely plain: Sherr is saying this is the kind of total war he wants against Russia, rather than a more limited one.

Strangely enough Sherr does not reference those more recent great western wars for regime change, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, which also resulted in the deaths of millions. Possibly even he realises the end results have not been entirely desirable.

But is this war really existential for either Ukraine or Russia? The truth is that ever since Ukraine became independent in 1991 it has been unstable, deeply divided over whether to look west to the EU or look east to Russia. The political and linguistic division broadly at the Dnieper runs deep into history.

Truce of Andrusovo 1667.PNG

Modern Ukraine is a failed state that collapsed into civil war in 2014 after twenty years of political tension between openly pro-Western and pro-Russian political forces which were remarkably evenly balanced.

Up to and including 2014, both the Western powers and Russia engaged in all forms of political interference, espionage and chicanery to try to win Ukraine. Back in 1996 when I was First Secretary in the British Embassy in Warsaw, I helped author a paper for the Cabinet Office which said that Poland was now secured to the West, but the hinge of history would be the Ukraine. I discussed it with George Soros in person (he bought me a pizza).

I cannot share the outrage of many on the left at the “colour revolution” of 2014. Both Russia and the West had been playing a dirty game. Yanukovych was more or less kidnapped by Moscow to disavow the EU Association agreement. The ensuing 2014 coup was just the US being more adept at winning the dirty game, of which I as a former player well know the rules, or lack of them.

The subsequent annexation of Crimea and reinforcement of the Donbass was the Russian counter-move. That ended the hope that a united Ukraine would ever be pro-Russian. The civil war rumbled on ever since until the larger Russian invasion. The extreme discriminatory measures against the Russian speaking population post-2014 ended the hope that a united Ukraine would ever be possible.

Chatham House itself illustrates that Ukraine was nothing but this East/West conflict playground. In 2023 the “Chatham House Prize” for international relations was awarded to Ukrainian President Zelensky. In 2005 the inaugural “Chatham House Prize” had been awarded to President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine, openly for turning Ukraine from a pro-Russian to a pro-EU foreign policy.

A country where it is a prize-winning achievement to win a narrow majority for pro-western policies, against the wishes of the other half of the country which wants a pro-Russian foreign policy, is not a viable long term political entity.

At no stage in this post-Soviet story did Ukraine ever become a viable state. It was a poor, undeveloped and undeveloping, east-west power game venue.  Both sides were rigging elections and the oligarchs and their pet politicians oversaw massive corruption, on a mind boggling scale.

Which corruption has no way lessened, and has battened on vast flows of “assistance” from the west.

There has never been a Ukraine under the rule of law and proper democratic government, to which to now return. What does Sherr think will be the attitude of the Russian speaking half of the Ukrainian population if his massive, blood-drenched, total war does bring about the total defeat of Russia?

Ukraine has now banned Russian as an official language, banned all Russian speaking newspapers, banned the pro-Russian political parties, banned teaching in Russian in schools, banned Russian books in libraries and banned the Russian Orthodox Church. Yet Russian is the first language of about 40% of the population.

Is the plan that the total war will result in such genocide that Russian speakers in Ukraine will be no more? Will they all be ethnically cleansed? Or after so much death and destruction, will they just quietly live as second class citizens, and abandon resistance? Is that the plan?

In truth, the best opportunity for a functioning and more efficient Ukrainian state is, now we are in this hot war, for it to lose the Russia-leaning areas and become a more homogeneous and unified entity, with a much greater chance of being at peace with itself and of sorting out its colossal governance problems.

A smaller, better, Ukraine that quickly finds its way into the EU would benefit the great majority of pro-Ukrainians and provide a more stable future for Eastern Europe. In time, it would come to be seen as a blessing.

A negotiated land-for-peace deal, with genuinely free referenda conducted under UN supervision to determine borders, has always been possible and is now essential.

That is what diplomacy is. Yes, mankind can conduct its affairs through total war, inflicting death, maiming, rape, hunger, disease and long term poverty on a massive scale. Or compromise can be reached. That there are those who argue for the former over Eastern Ukraine is sickening to me.

The other problem with a total war is of course that it might be your side which loses. If Sherr wants total war and no negotiation, he is of course accepting the possibility that Russia will conquer all of Ukraine – and would have no right at all to complain of that outcome.

In which case what would become of the Ukrainians? One thing is for certain, a massive wave of refugees would be launched right across Europe.

The practical problem with Sherr’s call for total war is that Ukraine really does not have the population numbers to sustain to victory a total war against Russia. It is just going to run out of people, as indeed the much trumpeted counteroffensive appears to have done.

The extreme escalation of western weaponry which Chatham House proposes, might indeed get round the population problem and tip the balance by inflicting simply massive casualties on Russia, but it is an incredible gamble to believe that so much hurt could be inflicted on Russia without risking nuclear annihilation.

It is improbable that China will permit these lunatic western warhawks to risk the entire future of humankind. Sherr is not of course alone – each section of the report has a different author, and some of them are even more unhinged. Please feel free to discuss further in the comments.

A diplomatic settlement to the Ukraine war terrifies western power structures because it will underline the decline of western hegemony and the increasing influence of BRICS and other non-western voices.

The actual destruction of Russia as an independent power has become essential to the apostles of empire, as a means of maintaining a psychological ascendancy for a few more years. They really do not care how many die for that. Do we really want to follow Dr Sherrangelove and his fellow Chatham House ideologues down this path?

Remember that list above of who pays for Chatham House and who wants all this death. I can see how it benefits them. But, dear reader, how does it benefit you?

An independent Ukraine, shorn of the Eastern provinces that have never wished to look westward, is in the long term much more feasible and viable than some kind of military Valhalla created by an epic war of conquest.

A negotiated and equitable end to this conflict is perfectly viable. It always has been so. The people of Europe have to reject the military industrial complex, the war profiteers and the blazing-eyed ideologues – and look for a fair peace.

————————————————

Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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