Afghan war soldiers’ survivors denounce war


This music video from England is called Jimmy Cliff at Glastonbury 2011 singing We Don’t Want Another Vietnam in Afghanistan.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Families of soldiers who died in Afghanistan say their loved ones lost their lives for nothing

“It’s been a total waste of British lives, Afghan lives, American lives,” said the grandmother of a soldier who died in action

Kashmira Gander

Friday 03 October 2014

As David Cameron visited Afghanistan and declared there was no prospect of UK troops returning to fight there, the families of soldiers killed in the conflict say it has all been for nothing.

Speaking to British troops at Camp Bastion, the Prime Minister thanked soldiers and acknowledged that the armed forces had paid a “very high price” for bringing “stability” to the country over the past 13 years.

But bereaved relatives have said that any improvement seen in the country would “come unglued”, and the lives of 400 British soldiers who died in the war have gone to waste.

Joan Humphreys, an outspoken campaigner against the war, lost her grandson in Afghanistan in 2009. The 69-year-old from Dundee said that British forces had not achieved anything in the Middle Eastern country.

Private Kevin Elliott, 24, of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, died alongside Sergeant Stuart Millar, 40, in an explosion while on foot patrol in southern Helmand on August 31 2009.

“In my opinion we should never have been there in the first place. I don’t think we’ve achieved anything, I don’t think there’s an improvement,” she said, and added that while there appears to be an improvement in Kabul, nothing has changed in other areas.

And although families would always be proud of their loved ones, she said many felt they had “died for nothing”.

“I was very proud of my grandson but never proud of him being a soldier, never proud of his involvement in the military. I supported him, of course I did, but I wasn’t happy with him being there.”

She added that the Taliban remain, and Al Qaida is likely to return to the embattled country.

“It’s been a total waste of British lives, Afghan lives, American lives,” she said, and went on to criticise politicians who initiated the war, claiming they have forgotten that Britain is not the power it once was.

“We should just stay back and if the Americans want to go in, let them go ahead, but don’t put our servicemen in there.”

“We should never have been there and when people say it’s a job well done, it’s just unbelievably crass. There’s no consideration for the families.”

Tony Philippson’s Paratrooper son Captain James Philippson died in a firefight in June 2006, making him one of the first British soldiers to die in the conflict. He echoed Mrs Humphrey’s sentiments, and said that while his son wanted to fight in Afghanistan, he never believed the mission would succeed.

“Though my son wouldn’t have missed going there for the world, he didn’t believe for one minute it was either worth doing or that we would succeed,” said Mr Philippson, 73, from St Albans, Hertfordshire.

“But he wouldn’t miss it. He joined the Marines and then the Paras because that was where the action was.

“He knew it was for nothing but I couldn’t stop him from going because he wanted to do some soldiering. It was his decision, he was the one who was willing to take the risk.”

“He didn’t think it was worth doing, just simply because of the cost, of human life and in dollars and pounds.

“What have they achieved?” he asked. “For the moment they think they have achieved a lot, but they haven’t.“

He predicted that the small improvements made in Afghanistan, such as women being able to go to school, would “all come unglued in the end.”

Additional reporting by AP

In fact, schools were already closing down in Afghanistan in 2012. Even the talk about girls being able to go to school is and was basically not reality, but talk. War propagandists’ talk.

United States singer Ani DiFranco interviewed


This music video is called Ani DiFranco32 Flavors.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Feminism‘s passionate advocate

Thursday 2nd October 2014

Singer ANI DIFRANCO tells Ian Sinclair that she’s as committed as ever to promoting the cause of women

HAVING made her name as an independently minded and politically progressive singer-songwriter, Ani DiFranco’s new album Allergic to Water is something of a departure.

“I had another kid so it comes out of a time of going inwards,” the 44-year-old US feminist icon tells me backstage before her show at the Union Chapel in London.

“Kids draw you into yourself and your house and your family, so it’s much less outward looking for those circumstantial reasons.”

DiFranco says that if there is a theme to the album, her 20th, it is “how everything in life that is essential and sustains you is also painful.” As you get older you learn that “the more important and marvellous something is the harder it is.”

Having set up her own independent record label rather than taking the quick corporate buck when she was 18, DiFranco has certainly paid her artistic dues. Since then she has slowly built up a fiercely loyal audience and garnered heaps of critical praise too.

The personal mood of the new album is especially striking when compared to her previous record — 2012’s impressive Which Side Are You On?

The perfect soundtrack to the Occupy movement, the title track is a barnstorming reworking of the old political broadside, including a banjo intro from her folk singer friend Pete Seeger, who died in January.

Turning to the current White House incumbent, she confesses that she was “overly excited” when Obama was elected in 2008. Six years later, she says his presidency has been “frustrating and disappointing,” though perhaps not for the reasons some might expect.

She still believes that he is a “very good man, a very brilliant man” but “he has been surrounded by brick walls and hatred the whole time,” she asserts.

Rather than focusing on the president as an individual, she believes it’s important to focus on the core of the problem — “the extreme Republican right-wing apparatus, the completely corporate-controlled, lobbyist-controlled government in which Obama didn’t stand a chance of effecting any real change.”

She concedes that Obama made an essential error “right out of the gate” in choosing to retain several key members of President Bush’s team: “You can’t change things with the same guys. So when he retained the finance dude and the war dudes it was like: ‘Well, what kind of change are they going to make?’ Obviously very little.”

How does she feel about Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee in 2016? “I would be thrilled if she was elected at this point,” she replies. “Female in the White House. Good Thing. Period.”

Comparing Clinton to Obama, she says that the former’s definitely more “in with the in-crowd in DC, so maybe she can get more done against that brick wall.”

A surprising view — when I interviewed DiFranco for this newspaper in 2007, Clinton was the favourite to be the Democratic presidential candidate and the singer was in London to promote her brilliant 2-disc career retrospective Canon.

Her view on Clinton has changed considerably — “I’m not into Hillary at all, except as a door opener,” she told me seven years ago. She hoped then that Clinton would pave the way for “truly progressive women.”

“She’s very much a politician,” she argued in 2007. “The best I could hope for out of her is not too much damage is done.”

No-one’s politics are static, of course, but this seems a significant change nonetheless.

Fans will be happy to know DiFranco’s passion for feminism is as strong as ever. She is excited to hear that people are talking about the “fourth wave” of feminism in Britain.

“If feminism can lead us out of the ‘me’ generation and the conception of ourselves as consumers back into citizens with purpose that would be awesome,” she declares.

She isn’t aware of a similar feminist resurgence in the US, though admits she isn’t as in touch as she used to be. “I feel very often like the Last of the Mohicans,” she admits. “I hope that there are many other young women out there engaging with the concept and generating momentum but I don’t know. I just feel like I’m the only one in the room talking about patriarchy.”

As she prepares to finish the set list for the night’s show, I ask how she stays hopeful in a world full of war and threatened by climate change.

“It’s a pessimistic time and it’s funny to be out and about this season with a very personal record in such a highly charged and urgent political climate,” she tells me. “But here I am, this is the turn my life has taken,” she adds philosophically.

Allergic to Water is released on October 14 by Righteous Babe Records.

British Muslim women against ISIS


This music video is about a song by a young Syrian Kurdish singer.

By Louise Raw in Britain:

The British Muslim women making a stand against Isis

Tuesday 30th September 2014

As the US-led coalition launches air strikes, LOUISE RAW talks to Muslim women who reject ‘Islamist’ extremism and misogyny

LOOKING at a huge, rather beautiful poster of a young Muslim woman wearing a vivid Union Jack hijab, I know I’m not in standard leftie territory — and that’s before Theresa May pops in to press the flesh.

Not many media launches are both timed to coincide with the school run and surrounded by heavy security either. But Sara Khan is used to doing things differently.

Khan is the driving force behind new anti-extremism group Making a Stand, launched last week in Whitehall.

She is also the Director of Inspire, a group which I note is described by the Guardian as a “women’s human rights organisation.”

I don’t particularly want to give Alan Rusbridger a heart attack, but women technically are human beings. There, I’ve said it.

And while an increasing number of men accept that “women’s issues” are everyone’s issues, there’s still a tendency to see anything particularly affecting the female population as niche.

If it affects Muslim women, it’s usually even more a case of Nothing to Do With Us.

Khan is not letting Britain off the hook that easily, however, and is trenchant on the wrong-headedness of using supposed “cultural sensitivities” as an excuse not to oppose extremism and gender inequality wherever they’re found.

On this basis I’d asked her to speak at this July’s Matchwomen’s Festival, and she did so passionately, happily answering some “Everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-Islam-but-were-afraid-to-ask” questions from guests afterwards.

However, she was criticised for Islamophobia by two delegates over her condemnation of the murder of Lee Rigby.

The line on such atrocities from some on the British left is that the West has only itself to blame for “retaliations” to its foreign policy.

She replied that she was a practising Muslim who rejected such violence as outside her faith. The same went for the radical preachers who encouraged it.

As for the Islamic “women question,” Khan says that those in favour of gender inequality “don’t know [their] own faith. The prophet’s wives weren’t submissive women.”

She is adamant that we will see more and more young British women joining Isis, and about where part of the blame lies.

“We need to educate women better to improve this marginalisation problem in Muslim communities. For far too long mosques have marginalised Muslim women and their participation.”

However she’s also keenly aware that the perception of Islam as the ultimate oppressor of women is manipulated by the far-right, which publicly condemns the religion on this pretext even as supporters attack Muslim women on the street.

Some women won’t speak out against gender-based discrimination even though they loathe it, precisely because to do so may fuel anti-Muslim attacks, of which they could end up the victims.

So they can be caught between a rock and a hard place, suffering both fascist violence and gender discrimination from within their own communities. The resultant trauma and alienation is a risk in itself.

Khan says: “We know Muslim women who wear the headscarf are more likely to experience attacks. Will that make them feel they don’t belong? Are they [joining Isis] because all they’ve come across in this country in Muslim communities is a narrow view of women?”

This is the sort of difficult, and potentially dangerous, political terrain Khan has to constantly navigate.

It goes without saying then that “making a stand” will have required considerable courage for at least some of the women present at the launch last Wednesday. This was underlined by a total advance publicity embargo launch for security reasons.

But Khan made it clear on the day that silence was no longer an option when young British Muslims were being drawn to Isis — and there have been reports of British female recruits joining the al-Khanssaa brigade, an all-women militia set up by Isis which punishes women for “unislamic” behaviour.

“They have bought into a pack of lies,” says Khan.

“They think they’re following Islam, but actually it’s a patriarchal ideology that seeks to treat women as second-class citizens.”

Making A Stand has practical proposals for British Muslim communities — they ask mosques to start treating women more equally, communities to take more responsibility for women and women and young people to speak out on social media using the hashtag #MakingAStand, to directly challenge Isis sympathisers.

Later, over lunch, I spoke to some of the women present about the causes of radicalisation.

Sufiya Ahmed, Tamina Mir and immigration lawyer Piya Mayenim identified multiple factors that they saw as contributing.

High unemployment and institutionalised racism which limited Muslim young people’s futures made them feel they didn’t belong in Britain.

The three women saw Isis as something of a trend, though no less dangerous for that.

A generation with generally more liberal parents could only rebel by becoming more extreme, and Mayenim was aware of instances of teenagers criticising their parents for being “too Western.”

The black-clad, macabre chic of Isis could seem an appealing alternative to Western decadence and consumerism.

We talked about the government’s response to date. The Prevent initiative was launched in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11 2001 to counter radicalisation at community level, and continues to do so, but with significantly less funding under the coalition.

It hit another major roadblock in 2010 when it emerged that CCTV cameras placed in Muslim areas of Birmingham, 72 of them covertly, were partly funded by Prevent cash.

The resultant loss of confidence and trust was enormously damaging.

The women had also seen secular youth clubs close due to cutbacks, to be replaced with self-organised single-race or religious groups, decreasing cultural cross-pollenation.

Although May had come to praise the launch, there were no new commitments that day either — while promising the government would support Making A Stand “if you can do this” (ie counter and monitor extremism) we were left not knowing if this would mean an occasional fist-bump or anything more concrete.

I spoke also to Mehmoo Dah, an older Muslim woman living in sheltered accommodation who had travelled from Leicester for the launch.

She was visibly distressed as she spoke about the racism she says she personally experiences after every Isis incident, with locals saying: “You’re all terrorists.”

Khan has her work cut out for her, but is deeply committed to her mission.

“Extremist views from both sides blight the lives of British women and weaken our country,” she says.

“As a country that stands for equality, justice and women’s rights, we cannot allow extremists of any kind to deny British women their rights.”

Louise Raw is author of Striking A Light: The History of the Bryant and May Matchwomen’s Strike (Continuum). She will be chairing and speaking at the Freedom For Sussex 2014 Conference: Children and Young People on Thursday October 16 at the Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 3PX, 10.15am-4.30pm (registration opens at 9.45am). For more information visit http://www.safeinsussex.org.

As US and allied warplanes continued to strike targets inside Syria, the Obama administration is marshalling support for a war that is more and more explicitly aimed against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rather than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): here.

This week, to bestow legitimacy on the US war on Syria, the US media suddenly discovered the coalition “leader”, Hadi Al-Bahrah, and highlighted his calls for US bombing of his country. But none of the US media mentioned the revolt against him and the call by his own Military Council to oust him: here.

Le Monde is serving as a mouthpiece of the French state’s war propaganda, trying to browbeat the public into accepting a massive, long-term escalation of war in the Middle East and Africa with mendacious claims that Paris and its imperialist allies are waging a “war on terror”: here.