Dutch socialists against Iraq war re-start

This video from London, England says about itself:

25 September 2014

Anti-war campaigners protest over the air strikes against IS

Anti-war campaigners gathered outside Downing Street to protest over the air strikes against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq and Syria. Members of the Stop the War coalition held placards and chanted slogans while U.S. planes continued to pound Islamic state positions in Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted Britain to join U.S.-led air strikes against the Islamic State militant group after the Iraqi government requested London’s help and he recalled parliament to secure its approval for military action. Britain was quick to join military action in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago. But a war-weary public and parliament’s rejection last year of air strikes on Syrian government targets prompted Cameron to proceed cautiously this time and win cross-party support before acting.

Translated from the site of the Socialist Party (the biggest opposition party) in the Netherlands:

Everyone is eager to bomb ISIS. Why not so the SP?

With air strikes one cannot fight terrorism. The ISIS warriors just mingle among the people who will be the victims of the military campaign which now under the leadership of the United States has begun and about which they say that it will last for many years. In addition, the Sunni population will be driven by the air strikes into the arms of ISIS. …

What lessons can we learn from previous Western military interventions?

The main lesson to be learnt is that these interventions only very rarely ever lead to positive results and that Western military interventions often lead to an increase in violence. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show that. The violence in these countries is at an unprecedented level.

US airstrikes make humanitarian crisis worse, Red Cross says

This video from London, England says about itself:

On Friday 26th September 2014 the UK parliament voted to start bombing Iraq for the 3rd time. On the evening before Stop the War Coalition called an emergency protest outside Downing Street. To show there are other opinions available than to just have yet another Western military intervention.

By Jason Ditz in the USA:

Red Cross: US Strikes Add to Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq, Syria

Strikes Compounding the Humanitarian Conflict

September 26, 2014

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that the US-led airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria have “compounded the humanitarian consequences of the conflicts in both countries.”

Even though the US couched the initial attacks in Iraq as a “humanitarian intervention,” their focus has since expanded to a full scale war to “destroy” ISIS, in which officials have promised to keep civilian casualties to a minimum, but didn’t appear overly concerned about the deaths in the strikes so far.

The Red Cross warns that the situation is continuing to worsen, and warned that all the combatant factions must refrain from harming civilians and must allow humanitarian workers to bring help.

As US strikes have increased, ISIS has moved most of its forces to less conspicuous targets that are less convenient to hit. This has made the US more likely to go after difficult targets, particularly those in populated areas, which means the humanitarian woes of the conflict are likely to grow as the war continues.

Iraq war re-start, satire

This video from Britain says about itself:

16 February 2012

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND uses the CND experience as a framework to discuss politics and protest, effective methods for bringing about change, and the practice and principles necessary for success.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Iraq War III: The Movie

Saturday 27th September 2014

This time it’s even more pointless

ROLL up, roll up! Get your tickets here for the cinematic blockbuster of the year — Iraq War III The Movie: This Time It’s Even More Pointless.

Featuring a cast of thousands (of innocent civilians) Iraq War III will be brought to you in glorious Technicolor, mainly red, with special effects that you simply won’t believe provided by the experts at industrial might and tragic.

Iraq War III The Movie is brought to you by the people behind such previous entertainment extravaganzas as Blame it on the Taliban, Iraq II: The Musical which featured such-show stopping numbers as “Don’t put my daughter in a grave Mr Wolfowitz” and You Only (Bomb) Libya Twice.

“Absolutely brilliant — five stars,” says the Daily Mail. “Needs more explosions,” The Sun. “Hang on a minute!” — the UN.

Yes that’s right, not for the first time this column is in the invidious position of writing for publication when Britain may or may not be at war again.

This time last year David Cameron was handed a spectacularly humiliating lesson in the workings of democracy and the rule of international law when, due to mass public outrage, his plans to bomb Syria were thwarted.

It was tempting to picture him after that narrowly averted debacle in the guise of a Scooby Doo villain — “I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky peaceniks, lawyers, judges, International Criminal Court…”

This time round however it does not require a great gift for prognostication to predict that the bombers will be taking off imminently, what with the newly founded unionist triumvirate of Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg all apparently eager to spill some foreign blood, probably in lieu of actually being able to bomb Scotland.

Even Dominic Grieve wouldn’t sign off on that one.

But then, what better way to recement the union than get together to blow the hell out of someone else in a haze of jingoistic bloodlust and felonious fraternity.

And what a fraternity it is, the US, Britain and France are in the process of launching airborne death on Iraq aimed at destroying terror group Isis, principally known for flagrant human rights abuses and the brutal execution of prisoners with the active support of… er, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Does anyone else spot the irony there?

But when the Saudis and Egyptians torture people and summarily kill them that’s different obviously because it’s “cultural” and of course there’s the small matter of them buying billions of pounds of weapons from us.

Yes, sadly it would appear that by the time you read this Cameron will be one step closer to surpassing Tony Blair’s record for most pointless slaughters perpetrated by a serving prime minister.

Blair, unsurprisingly, is well up for it. He’d bomb his reflection if he wasn’t so in love with it.

German government sends arms to Iraq and backs US air strikes in Syria: here.

As the United States opened up its bombing campaign in Syria this week, the so-called Khorasan Group was suddenly declared the newest and gravest threat to the United States and its European allies, overshadowing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). According to US intelligence, Khorasan is a group of high-ranking foreign Al Qaeda members based in Syria that is seeking to launch a terrorist attack on US or European airlines. The alleged existence of the Khorasan group was only made public a few days before the US began its campaign in Syria. Prior to last week, no one in the US government had ever publicly uttered the words “Khorasan group.” US President Barack Obama referred to it last Tuesday in his perfunctory statement announcing the new campaign in Syria. Terrorism experts in the United States have stated that Khorasan is an outright invention of US intelligence. What the US government terms the Khorasan Group is in fact a small number of foreign Al Qaeda members fighting with the al Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, against the regime of President Bashar al Assad: here.

Iraq war re-start, false pretexts

This video from Britain is called Lindsey German: The Consequences of War – Confronting War Ten Years On 09.02.13.

By Mary Dejevsky in British daily The Independent:

Thursday 25 September 2014

Isis, we are told, is a ‘clear and dangerous threat to our way of life’. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it

It’s absurd to suggest that we are fighting them ‘over there’ so that we won’t have to fight them ‘over here’

Of all the arguments advanced in favour of British military intervention abroad, the one that has always seemed to me most treacherous and least convincing is the one about “over there” and “over here”. It was much-used by Gordon Brown, when he was trying to persuade a sceptical public of the need for beleaguered UK troops to remain in Afghanistan, though it was current in the United States well before that. Now it is back, in nice time for today’s recall of Parliament.

The battleground is no longer Afghanistan, and the enemy is no longer al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The conflict has moved westwards to northern Syria and Iraq, and the new adversary is the self-styled Islamic State and its rampaging Caliphate. But the argument and the wording are practically identical.

As David Cameron told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, in tones that strongly suggested a rehearsal for today’s unanimity-fest in the Commons, Isis constitutes “a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom”. He had earlier described the behavior of Isis to reporters as “psychopathic, murderous and brutal”.

Our new Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, started preparing the ground last weekend. In an interview in The Spectator he said: “We’ve had attacks on the streets of London, on our transport system, at Glasgow Airport, the murder of Lee Rigby – how much more evidence do you need that this is a very clear and dangerous threat to our way of life and to all the democracies of the West? This is a new Battle of Britain.”

Now you are welcome to accuse me of a lapse in patriotism unworthy of my British passport, but I simply don’t buy this – any of it – even though, right on cue, there was a well-publicised round-up of terror suspects in London yesterday. And I regret, to say the least, that so many of our elected representatives seem to swallow the notion of a direct threat to Britain, the moment a Westerner (over there, mostly, and not over here) meets death by the particularly brutal means of beheading.

In cold, hard, logical terms, the rationale for fighting “there” rather than “here” simply does not stand up to scrutiny. First, all those responsible for the atrocities enumerated by Fallon were either born or educated in Britain. Any trigger for their actions should thus be sought “here” rather than “there”.

Second, they all gave testimony or left statements leaving no doubt as to their motive. Their world-view might embrace the idea of a caliphate, but the London and Glasgow bombers, and those who slaughtered Lee Rigby, had something more immediate in mind: to avenge the killing of Muslims by British troops. In his interview, Michael Fallon rejected “with a wave of the hand” the notion that attacks in Britain might reflect “blow back” from Iraq. But that is essentially what these killers said.

Third. Given the nature of the UK’s recent wars and its high international profile – such attacks remain very, very rare. Neither the UK, still less Western civilisation, is realistically threatened with serious destabilisation, still less extinction, by an extremist brand of Islam, raping, pillaging and beheading as it sweeps in from the east.

And fourth, if the threat is indeed to the relatively small area that is within our shores, why are we not concentrating our security efforts here, rather than sending troops and firepower to inflict tiny pinpricks on a vast swathe of territory that is not ours to defend? If the purpose is to show we are loyal allies to the United States, we should say so, not hide behind an exaggerated, even trumped-up, threat to the British way of life.

Now, it can and will be said that the relatively small number of attacks here is a result of assiduous work by our security services. And to the extent this is true, three cheers for them, and gongs all round. In defence of our politicians, it is also fair to say that you only need one malefactor to get through and you could be looking at destruction on the scale of 9/11. No Prime Minister wants Parliament – or, indeed, the Grand Hotel in Brighton – to be blown up on his watch. The security of the realm is a prime responsibility of any government.

But it is worth bearing in mind that there has been no repeat of 9/11; that lax airport security and intelligence overload were as much to blame as the lethal ingenuity of a small band of zealots, and that so-called asymmetric warfare is the natural product of a world in which vastly different levels of development exist almost side by side, and are visible to each other as never before.

One of the UK’s great assets is the resilience of its population. That, plus a modern level of security, is as much as can reasonably be done. Talk of fighting over there in order not to fight over here gets things precisely the wrong way round. Each of our recent interventions has unleashed forces of chaos, and alienated a small section of our own Muslim population.

It is too late to do much about the first. In Iraq, for instance, our disbanding of the Baathist power structures had the effect, 10 years on, of driving Western-trained soldiers into the ranks of Isis. But we can do something about the second: by not inflating the threat from militant Islam and not fuelling talk of a clash of civilisations. The malign forces “over there” should be left to play themselves out.

German viewers criticise warmongering TV coverage on Ukraine

This video says about itself:

Ukrainians are burning their military draft cards [English subtitles]

27 July 2014

Ukrainians are burning their military writs, refusing to leave their sons to the Ministry of Defense.

By Sybille Fuchs in Germany:

German committee criticises television news coverage of Ukraine

26 September 2014

The supervisory committee of Germany’s ARD public television station has criticised the station’s coverage of developments in Ukraine. The station’s coverage had “given the impression of bias” and appeared to be directed against “Russia and Russian standpoints”, the committee declares in the minutes of its meeting of June 24, which has been published in the online magazine Telepolis.

The purpose of the nine-member committee is to represent the interests of viewers, and it has an advisory function. It is elected by the broadcasting councils of German states and consists of representatives from various associations, political parties, churches and other groups. Its current chairman is the lawyer and banker Dr. Paul Siebertz from Bavarian Radio. Also on the committee are the Catholic priest and journalist Stefan Wahl, a teacher, a natural health practitioner, a pastoral consultant and a representative of the federation of public officials.

Prior to meeting, the committee had analyzed several ARD reports on the crisis in Ukraine—a step that is regarded as unusual. The measure was taken following complaints from viewers about biased reporting. The members of the panel unanimously agreed that such criticisms were entirely justified.

The Advisory Council lists 10 points in which the reporting of the ARD was inadequate.

It criticises the absence of any fundamental analysis of the negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Ukraine on the Association Agreement. It criticises the fact that “NATO’s political and strategic intentions” with regard to its policy of eastern enlargement were not raised. Nor was any critical analysis made of the legitimacy of the “so-called Maidan council”. The same applies to the “role of the radical nationalist forces, particularly Svoboda” and their activities during the failure “of the agreement to resolve the crisis in Ukraine of 21 February”.

The “constitutional and democratic issues” involved in the removal of President Yanukovych and the role of right-wing forces in his overthrow were also not adequately investigated by the ARD. In addition, there was no critical analysis of the role of politicians such as Julia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko.

The council also challenged the station’s coverage of the secession of Crimea from Ukraine. There was no proper investigation made of the procedure and legality of the Crimean referendum, its international legal status, the significance of popular participation in the vote, and the role of historical issues and the ethnic groups in Crimea in the secession process.

The criticisms raised by the committee are devastating, and confirm the assessment of the World Socialist Web Site, which wrote that news reportage on German public television had “degenerated into nightly propaganda spots”. Rather than informing the public, the reports promoted the policy of the government, which has played a leading role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Whatever does not fit into the framework of official propaganda is eliminated: the content of the Association Agreement; the subordination of Ukraine to the dictates of the EU and the International Monetary Fund; the role of fascists in the Maidan protests; the toppling of Yanukovych in a right-wing coup; and the massive rejection of the new rulers in Kiev by the Russian-speaking population in the east of the country.

The council cautiously refers to a “more or less subliminal transfer of opinion by moderators and reporters” and the selective choice of reports, “which even in the synopsis of all ten Ukraine hotspots fail to give a fairly comprehensive picture of the crisis itself.” In plain English, this means manipulation and censorship.

Television director Tom Buhrow is reported to have reacted in an “extremely agitated and in part irreverent” manner to the criticism raised by the Advisory Board. From ARD sources Telepolis learned that both Buhrow and television director Jörg Schönborn aggressively insisted on an editorial line to “defend Western standpoints”. In other words, the one-sided reporting was ordered from the highest levels. From 2002 to 2006, Buhrow was head of the ARD studios in Washington.

Nothing is likely to change after the report. The station’s deputy programme director, Thomas Baumann, vigourously rejected the council’s charge of biased reporting and praised the work of the station’s “local correspondents”.

The reporting of the country’s second main public station, the ZDF, is no better than that of the ARD. Web sites have compiled the numerous complaints from viewers detailing inaccurate and false reporting, including deliberate omissions of important information, selective cuts to interviews and conflicting standpoints in the same programme. Viewers have also criticised the lack of any comment on pictures of pro-Ukrainian forces sporting Nazi symbols such as swastikas, as well as and the trivialisation of the fascist Azov battalion, which is fighting on behalf of the Kiev government.

These reports make clear Germany’s public broadcasters are being deliberately used to bombard the population with misinformation and deception about a war it overwhelmingly rejects.

Death penalty for British World War I child soldier

This music video from Britain says about itself:

A song entitled “Deserter” by Mike Blackburn which tells the story of one soldier who had been affected by all that he had done, heard and seen in the trenches during WW1 and who no longer had the will to be there.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Shot at dawn – not forgotten

Friday 26th September 2014

PETER FROST mourns Thomas Highgate who was shot for desertion a century ago this month

Young Tom Highgate was terrified. Nothing had prepared the boy from a farm village in Kent for the horrors of the battle of the Marne early in the first world war.

Certainly not the recruiting sergeant who had signed him up aged just 17. He had told him about the fine uniform and the comradeship, how the girls all love a soldier, but hadn’t mentioned the actual fighting.

He had even hinted that Highgate might earn a place in British military history. Sadly he was only too right.

Nothing had steeled young Highgate for the heavy artillery bombardment from the German guns. Nor the fact that the German infantry appeared to far outnumber British troops.

Highgate, along with his comrades, had done his best. Hand-loading their Lee-Enfield rifles 15 times a minute, he and his fellow heroes stemmed the German advance.

But then the French had retreated leaving the British flanks exposed.

All around him his young friends were lying in the mud, blown to bloody pieces in the huge shell craters.

Then came the ultimate humiliation. The British forces were ordered to retreat. All the fright, the blood, the gore, the death, the suffering were for naught.

The terrified young soldier tripped over the edge. Today we would call it post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A hundred years ago they had harsher, crueller names — shell shock, cowardice and desertion.

Private Thomas James Highgate was about to earn his place in British military history. He would become the first British soldier shot for desertion in World War I.

Highgate was discovered and arrested by a gamekeeper in a barn on the estate of Baron de Rothschild.

He told the gamekeeper: “I have had enough of it. I want to get out of it and this is how I am going to do it.”

He had abandoned his uniform and weapon. They were found hidden beside the barn.

The army moved fast. He was court-martialled and convicted of desertion and the death sentence was confirmed on a single day in September 1914. The war had been on for only a month.

Highgate had no-one to defend him. Indeed all of his comrades had been killed, injured or taken prisoner. He called no witnesses in his defence.

His account was that he was a straggler trying to find his way back to rejoin his regiment having got separated from his comrades. No-one believed him.

Highgate’s death was almost as hasty as his trial. Senior officers insisted that he be executed at once. They wanted it to be as public as possible.

The next day Highgate was told of his fate at 6.22am on that September morning, in the presence of a Church of England clergyman. An officer then ordered a burial party and firing squad to prepare, and the 17-year-old lad from Kent was shot at 7.07am.

News of his fate was published in Army Routine Orders and distributed to the remainder of the British Expeditionary Force. The example had been made.

Highgate was the first of over 300 Tommies shot for desertion. By contrast most shell-shocked officers were shipped home and treated in officer-only hospitals.

Shell shock, also called war neurosis or combat stress and today recognised as PTSD, was deliberately misdiagnosed by the officer class.

Victims were picked out and convicted as a lesson to others.

Charges included desertion, cowardice or insubordination. Often the symptoms were just walking around dazed and confused.

Most of those shot were young, defenceless and vulnerable teenagers who had volunteered for duty like Highgate.

General Haig — or Butcher Haig as he was known — when questioned declared that all men accused of cowardice and desertion were examined by a medical officer and that no soldier was sentenced to death if there was any suspicion of him suffering shell shock.

As so often, he lied.

Haig not only signed all the death warrants but when questioned later on this issue lied repeatedly.

The general’s stubborn and ignorant belief was that anyone suffering shell shock was malingering. In fact in Butcher Haig’s mind, shell shock and malingering were one and the same thing.

Highgate has no known grave. As recently as 2000, the caring folk on Shoreham Parish Council voted not to include his name on its recently restored war memorial. His only marker is on the British memorial to the missing at Seine-et-Marne.

The Armed Forces Act 2006 allowed the mass pardon of 306 British empire soldiers executed for certain offences during the first world war.

One of them was Highgate.

Today between 9,000 and 10,000 British soldiers who served in various foreign wars are homeless and numbered among our rough sleepers. Many have PTSD.

Many have medals, commendations and other awards, but that doesn’t stop the likes of supermarket giant Tesco putting down spikes to stop them sleeping in some kind of shelter.

Shockingly, ex-service personnel account for one in 10 rough sleepers across Britain, according to homeless charity Crisis.

Simon Weston OBE, who suffered serious burns in the Falklands war, has accused the government of betraying veterans after learning of the disturbing numbers without a home.

“A huge amount of rhetoric comes from politicians, but they never actually do anything,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s a betrayal.”

In so many cases it has led to a cycle of family break-up, addictions to drugs or alcohol and homelessness.

In a particularly crass case last year Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith used his notorious bedroom tax to take away the room in his mother’s home of a soldier serving in Afghanistan. His mother was told she could not keep his room.

“He had a bed in a barracks in Germany,” declared the government.

Defence cuts have reduced the number of soldiers by over 10,000 in recent years.

A total of 20,000 are due to be axed by 2017. The RAF and Royal Navy are each shedding 5,000.

In themselves these reductions are good news but unless adequate resources are put in place a flood of redundant ex-service personnel will end up on the streets.

Jim Jukes, founder of charity Homes 4 Heroes told us there were an estimated 9,000 homeless ex-servicemen in Britain, including rough sleepers and those in hostels and B&Bs.

He said: “With the redundancies coming up and more with PTSD, this is only going to get worse. It’s a ticking time bomb.”

His charity helps ex-service personnel in London, Brighton, Birmingham and Northampton, giving them sleeping bags, blankets and food.

In 2011, when body bags were being paraded in the streets of our garrison towns, David Cameron and Nick Clegg tried to claw back some popularity with the much-heralded Armed Forces Covenant. Not so much hopping on the bandwagon as hopping on the hearse.

It was, like most Con-Dem initiatives, a hollow promise. Numbers of homeless, unemployed, traumatised and distressed service personnel have soared since then.

In reality the Cameron and Clegg coalition has enforced further austerity measures that have reduced help to ex-soldiers and indeed increased the time handling compensation claims to up to two years.

In their own way, they are just as cynical and unfeeling as Butcher Haig and the officers who shot young Thomas Highgate a century ago.