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.

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.

British-US torture scandal in Iraq, Afghanistan


This video about Iraq war torture is the film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Diplomat tells court US links not a bar to hearing torture case

Friday 26th September 2014

CLAIMS by the British government that a case brought by a Pakistani national alleging Britain’s involvement in his rendition and torture would damage US relations have been called into question.

Lawyers for the government had argued that a case brought by Yunus Rahmatullah, who was detained and mistreated by British personnel in Iraq before being handed over to the US for “rendition” to Afghanistan, should not be heard for fear of damaging British-US relations.

But in a statement yesterday presented to the High Court in London a former senior US ambassador and State Department official described the claims as “highly unlikely.”

The statement provided to the court by Thomas R Pickering, a former US under-secretary of state who served for four decades as a diplomat, said that the British government’s claims “misunderstand the value the United States places on the rule of law.”

Mr Pickering stressed that “I firmly believe that adjudicating Mr Rahmatullah’s case in UK courts is highly unlikely to cause damage to the relations or national security cooperation between the US and UK.”

After his 2004 capture Mr Rahmatullah maintains he was subjected to simulated drowning and beatings which rendered him unconscious.

He was later transferred to US custody in Bagdhad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, after which he was extra judicially transferred to Bagram in Afghanistan where he was held for more than years before being released without charge last June.

Mr Rahmatullah is now challenging the British government’s refusal to investigate his allegations of torture and rendition, and is also asking the court to determine that the government’s actions were unlawful.

Reprieve legal director Kat Craig, who is representing Mr Rahmatullah in conjunction with Leigh Day solicitors, said: “The British government knows that it is in the wrong, yet instead of coming clean on its part in Mr Rahmatullah’s rendition and torture, it is doing everything it can to make sure this case never sees the light of day.

“Now a former senior US ambassador with decades of experience at the highest levels of American diplomacy has blown the British government’s case out of the water. It is time they dropped this shameful attempt to deny justice to a victim of brutal torture and years of mistreatment.”

The case is expected to continue today.

New Afghan puppet regime accepts deal to keep 10,000 US troops: here.

CIA-Backed Warlord Behind 2001 Taliban POW Massacre Sworn-In Vice President of Afghanistan: here.

British peace movement against Iraq war re-start


This video from Britain says about itself:

Media ‘doing best to agitate the public’ – Sami Ramadani on UK war prospects against Islamic State

6 September 2014

Sami Ramadani, senior lecturer in Sociology at London Metropolitan University, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the West dealing with the Islamic State. He says that the rise of the Islamic State has given carte blanche to NATO to intervene again in Iraq and Syria. The British media are using the beheadings to agitate the British public in an attempt to stir up support for war. He feels the UK is drifting back to the US line after diverting from it with the vote against war with Syria last year, with the establishment worrying that it could affect British power and prestige on the world stage. And the West may have helped create IS – he says that in 2006 they turned a blind eye to the growth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to IS, deeming them less of a threat than other groups.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

CAMERON BANGS A FAMILIAR WAR DRUM

Friday 26th September 2014

Anti-war MPs and activists mobilise ahead of rushed Commons vote on Isis

BRITISH involvement in the bombing of Islamic State (Isis) militants in Iraq would be “dangerous and counter-productive,” Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn warned yesterday ahead of a crucial Commons vote.

Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled Parliament for today’s crunch decision over whether to commit British forces to the conflict — with warplanes reportedly already poised to launch airstrikes.

He told the United Nations this week that Britain was ready to play its part in confronting “an evil against which the whole world must unite.”

Mr Cameron claimed that Britain must not be so “frozen with fear” of repeating the mistakes of the disastrous 2003-9 Iraq war.

Mr Corbyn however rejected the PM’s aggressive stance. He said: “I think we should think this through very carefully.

“If we start dropping bombs and it doesn’t work, what then? If the Iraqi army can’t stop Isis, what then?

“Where does it end?”

He pointed out that previous interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya had not been successful in the long term and had “created an atmosphere where an awful lot of young people feel that the West is totally against them and they are prepared to take up arms against the West.”

“I suspect this intervention won’t make that a lesser proposition, it will make it a stronger proposition.”

Mr Corbyn’s caution was echoed by hundreds of anti-war campaigners who gathered outside Westminster last night in protest at the planned intervention.

In a statement presented to Downing Street, they said: “While we all reject the politics and methods of Isis, we have to recognise that it is in part a product of the last disastrous intervention, which helped foster sectarianism and regional division.

“It has also been funded and aided by some of the West’s allies, especially Saudi Arabia.”

Mr Cameron said he was “confident” of avoiding an embarrassing repeat of last year’s historic defeat over plans to bomb Syria.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband have both confirmed that they would be backing the PM’s call for military action.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson told the Star: “Once again we’re hearing the deafening drumbeats of war.

“Once again there is no legal basis for UK bombing in the Middle East. Once again the government is making it up as it goes along.”

She pointed out that, while the UN has adopted a binding resolution compelling states to prevent their nationals joining jihadists in Iraq and Syria, it has not authorised military attacks.

“The grim atrocities carried out by Islamic State have rightly shocked and repulsed the world. But heaping further atrocities onto Iraq through the murder of civilians, which will inevitably occur through airstrikes, cannot be our answer,” Ms Hudson said.

“What is needed now is urgent humanitarian assistance, political pressure and working with allies in the region to halt the spread of this murderous group: not an illegal bombing campaign which will kill civilians and inflame the situation.”