Militarism and anti-militarism in Britain


This 2012 video from the USA is called Network XMilitarism in the Schools: Counter-Recruitment Conference. It says about itself:

Network X – 02/03/00 – Guests – Mario Hardy, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Asif Ullah, War Resisters League, Michaelle Jacobson, Seattle Teacher and Activist.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Timely antidote to pro-war propaganda

Monday 27th April 2015

Spectacle, Reality, Resistance: Confronting a Culture of Militarism by David Gee (Forces Watch, £7)

ARMED Forces Day. Help for Heroes. The government’s Troops to Teachers programme. The media frenzy around the military funeral repatriations in Wootton Bassett. Girl band The Saturdays opening the Poppy Appeal.

It’s clear that we are in the midst of a resurgence of militarism in Britain.

The government presents these pro-military schemes as an attempt to encourage understanding and appreciation for the armed forces. But, with a 2008 Mori poll finding 81 per cent of the British public already view the military favourably, David Gee, co-founder of the activist organisation Forces Watch, is unconvinced.

Rather, he argues these recent policy initiatives are a direct response to the public’s increasing opposition to an aggressive foreign policy, in particular the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2009 the Chief of Defence Staff Jock Stirrup claimed that the Taliban’s roadside bombs were less of a threat to troops’ morale than the “declining will” among the public to support the war.

Tellingly, Stirrup added: “Support for our service men and women is indivisible from support for this mission.”

Unusually for a peace activist, Gee spends time looking at the role of popular culture, quoting cultural theorists like Guy Debord, Levi-Strauss and Slavoj Zizek.

He has a particular interest in Hollywood and how films with “violent romance quests” at their heart encourage audiences to form a positive view of the military and regenerative violence.

But while he notes that research shows war films as a key influence on British infantry recruits’ decision to enlist, he also explains how films like Avatar and The Hunger Games provide dissenting narratives.

Formed in 2011, Veterans for Peace UK is also working to counter pro-war propaganda, sending former soldiers into schools to teach children about the reality of war. “Simply put, we ought to know what war is, at the very least, before deciding whether or not to lend its support,” argues Gee.

While the parliamentary defeat for the government on their proposed attack on Syria was a huge victory for the anti-war movement, Gee is fully aware of the power disparity between the resistance and the Establishment.

“It might have failed to win our support for its recent wars but the government’s power to elicit public compliance and shape social culture through the education system, the media, and legislation is prodigious,” he notes.

Spectacle, Reality, Resistance is a short book but it’s important in inspiring anyone interested in exploring the increasing militarisation of society and learning about those opposing it.

British government loves wars, hates refugees from those wars


This video from London, England says about itself:

Libya: Stop the War Coaliton protest at Downing Street 19.04.11

As Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama escalated the attack on Libya to a regime-change war, Stop the War Coalition joined with CND and War on Want to protest at Downing Street, London, calling on the British government to end its bombing campaign. Video by Anupam Pradhan and Keith Halstead.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Bishop says Britain has a moral duty to accept refugees from its wars

Rt Rev David Walker, bishop of Manchester, says it is ‘unworthy’ for politicians to label displaced migrants as criminals, and country should take in ‘fair share’

Mark Townsend

Saturday 25 April 2015 20.33 BST

One of the country’s most senior bishops has said that Britain has a moral imperative to accept refugees from conflicts in which it has participated.

After a week in which the death toll of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe grew to 1,700 so far this year, the bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said there was a duty to treat the survivors with compassion.

In a piece for the Observer published online, he writes: “They are pushed, not pulled, towards the EU, forced out of their homelands by war, terrorism and the persecution of minorities. A political rhetoric that characterises them as wilful criminals rather than helpless victims is as unworthy as it is untrue.”

The UK’s pivotal role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq prompted a sectarian war that the UN said had forced two million Iraqis to flee the country, an involvement that ran alongside the 13-year Afghanistan war and was followed by the 2011 attacks on Libya, both of which precipitated significant regional instability and migration.

According to the UN Refugee Agency in 2013, one in four refugees was Afghan, although most were in neighbouring countries, while the ongoing instability in Libya was credited with making the north African state a haven for people smugglers.

Walker writes: “The moral cost of our continual overseas interventions has to include accepting a fair share of the victims of the wars to which we have contributed as legitimate refugees in our own land.

“I want my country to be governed by those who are prepared to look at the faces of the desperate, be it the desperation of the asylum seeker or of the food bank client, and to look at them with compassion.”

He also criticised the language of mainstream parties on issues such as immigration and suggested that politics needed a new moral compass in the context of the growing number of deaths in the Mediterranean. “I want my political representatives to show they have values beyond expediency and appeal to the muddled middle. Only such politicians will I trust with the wellbeing of my family, my community and my nation.”

Despite the huge numbers of migrants heading north, only 5,000 resettlement places across Europe have been offered to refugees under an emergency summit crisis package agreed by EU leaders, with the rest sent back as irregular migrants under a new rapid-return programme coordinated by the EU’s border agency, Frontex.

“Welcome though it was that European leaders sat down to talk about the situation this week, their conclusions seem more directed at making the symptoms less visible than at tackling the disease,” said Walker.

EU ‘humanitarian’ response to hundreds of migrants drowning – a war on migrants: here.

From Europe, to Asia, to the Americas, the world is witnessing growing numbers of refugees and a corresponding wave of state repression and violence directed at denying them their fundamental democratic rights: here.

Racism in United States Army causes soldier’s suicide


This video from the USA about the Rupert Murdoch media says about itself:

Bob Beckel Earns His Pay As Fox News‘ Clown ‘Liberal’ Racist

11 July 2014

Fox News‘ token liberal host Bob Beckel used a racial slur Thursday on “The Five” to refer to Chinese hackers.

“The Chinese are the single biggest threat to the national security of the U.S.,” Beckel said. “They have been, they will be and they can wait, they’re very patient. You know what they just did? As usual, we bring them over here and we teach a bunch of Chinamen — uh, Chinese people — how to do computers. They go back to China and they hack into us, right?”

Beckel then made a vulgar arm gesture to drive his point home.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

US army platoon investigated for ‘Racial Thursdays’ tradition of soldiers yelling racist insults at one another

Reports claim commanding officer supported tradition as he believed it helped camaraderie

Andrew Buncombe

Friday 20 March 2015

The US army is investigating claims that a platoon where a soldier of Chinese origin took his own life after allegedly receiving racist taunts, has been holding “racial Thursdays” where soldiers hurl epithets at one another without any reprimand.

Reports said officials had launched an investigation into the “tradition”, after receiving complaints from a black sergeant who said a superior officer had supported the practice as he believed it helped build camaraderie.

The Army Times said the platoon being investigated – the Alaska-based 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division – is the group that Pvt Danny Chen belonged to.

Mr Chen, who was of Chinese ethnic background, is said to have killed himself in October 2011 in Afghanistan after what prosecutors alleged was physical and emotional abuse from his fellow soldiers. Eight soldiers were charged following Mr Chen’s suicide.

“It’s degrading to the soldiers,” a staff sergeant who was not identified, told the newspaper. “We’ve had soldiers almost fight over the crap that’s going on here.”

He added: “When I first got to my unit, someone said we should do Racial Thursdays because it’s been a tradition. It’s something they made up where you can say any racist remark you want without any consequences. The platoon sergeant said no, but the shit is still going on.”

The army did not immediately respond to The Independent’s inquiries on Friday. However, Lt Col Alan Brown, a spokesman for the  army’s Alaska command, confirmed to the Army Times that an inquiry was underway.

Thomas Jefferson, Louis Agassiz, Donald Rumsfeld and racism in the USA: here.

United States politician’s suicide because of Republican colleague’s anti-Semitism


This video from the USA says about itself:

Was Tom Schweich Assassinated by GOP?

27 February 2015

Tom Schweich, Missouri Auditor And Gubernatorial Candidate, Dead At Age 54

Schweich attended Yale University and then Harvard Law School, made his political debut in 2009. He had initially considered running for the seat being vacated in 2010 by Republican U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, and he had the encouragement of his mentor, former U.S. Sen. John Danforth. But Schweich defered to Rep. Roy Blunt to avoid a divisive GOP Senate primary and instead challenged and defeated Democratic State Auditor Susan Montee in the 2010 election.

Schweich spent last weekend wooing fellow Republicans during the state GOP’s annual conference in Kansas City. He spoke energetically, frequently touting his work rooting out government waste and corruption as auditor.

But he also emphasized charity, citing his Christian beliefs as a source of compassion and promising to cut back on government spending and misuse without hurting the poor.

“Part of being a Christian is you gotta help people,” Schweich said while speaking to about a dozen members of the Missouri Republican Assembly on Saturday, his wife watching from the back of a small conference room in the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.

Later that day he scooped dollops of ice cream for supporters until his hands hurt.

Schweich was Danforth’s chief of staff for the 1999 federal investigation into the deadly government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and followed Danforth to the United Nations, where he was chief of staff for the U.S. delegation.

President George W. Bush appointed Schweich to the State Department in 2005 as an international law enforcement official. Two years later, Bush picked Schweich to coordinate the anti-drug and justice reform efforts in Afghanistan.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Missouri Republican candidate, apparent target of anti-Semitic comments, commits suicide

28 February 2015

Missouri’s state auditor Tom Schweich died Thursday from a single gunshot to the head in what police are ruling an “apparent suicide.” According to a spokesperson for Schweich, he had been preparing to go public with allegations of anti-Semitism against state Republican Party Chairman, John Hancock.

Schweich, a practicing Episcopalian with a Jewish grandfather, had announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor of Missouri in the 2016 elections. Hancock, who is alleged to have made disparaging remarks about Schweich’s faith and ethnicity in private discussions, had worked as a consultant for rival Republican gubernatorial candidate, Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway.

“The campaign had been difficult, as all campaigns are,” said Schweich’s spokesman Spence Jackson. “There were a lot of things that were on his mind.” Attempts to identify Schweich as Jewish were seen as potentially damaging to his chances of appealing to the Christian fundamentalists who play an enormous role in Republican primary elections.

Hancock denied the claims, stating that, “I don’t have a specific recollection of having said that,” while adding that it was “plausible that I would have told somebody that Tom was Jewish, because I thought he was, but I wouldn’t have said it in a derogatory or demeaning fashion.”

According to Tony Messenger, the editorial page editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Schweich had contacted him personally the morning of his death, requesting reporters be sent to his residence for a videotaped interview on the matter. Messenger said in a public letter that Schweich had been experiencing “significant angst” in the days prior to the suicide, and that “he had heard from campaign donors that while political consultant John Hancock was doing work for gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway, he would mention in passing that Mr. Schweich was Jewish.” Messenger stated that Schweich had said he had a number of donors who would go on record to support the allegations.

A series of phone calls on the day of his death suggest that Schweich was undergoing some sort of crisis or breakdown. He called first the AP, then the Post-Dispatch, setting up appointments for interviews on the charge of anti-Semitism, but shot himself a few minutes later.

Whatever the circumstances that precipitated the fatal events, Schweich had held a series of responsible, high-stress positions in the federal government, beginning with a 1999 appointment as chief of staff for former US Senator John Danforth, who headed the federal probe into the FBI’s actions at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

He worked as chief of staff to the US ambassador to the United Nations for three years, serving three successive ambassadors—Danforth, then Anne Patteron, then John Bolton. He was also principal deputy secretary of state in the administration of President George W. Bush, responsible for international law enforcement, with a particular focus on illegal drug trafficking in Afghanistan under the US occupation.

That such an individual could be driven to suicide—if indeed that is what happened—speaks volumes about the toxic political environment in the American political establishment, and particularly in the fever swamps of the Republican Party’s right-wing.

See also here.

Paris murders, blowback of NATO wars


This video says about itself:

Afghanistan’s Endless Jihad: The Mujahideen Vs The Soviets

Afghan Jihad (2007): A look back at the mujahiddin who fought the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan with US support, and who then fought against the NATO forces who invaded in 2001.

In 1979 the mujahiddin of Afghanistan rebelled against a Soviet-backed central government. The US threw its financial and technological resources behind the rebel movement, offering support in any way it could. We travel into the remote Kumar Valley and find that back in 1979 the US was arming the likes Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his organisation Hizb-e-Islamia – the very group now waging a vicious counter insurgency against Allied forces.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Western support for extremists will lead to more terrorist attacks

Wednesday 28th January 2015

IS IT safe to come out yet? Can we begin the rational, reasoned debate about the Paris terrorist attacks that is so desperately needed?

The media coverage and discussion over the recent shocking events in France has been predictably hysterical and evidence-free.

For Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow the attack was a “brutal clash of civilisations. Europe’s belief in freedom of expression v those for whom death is a weapon in defending their beliefs.”

The normally sensible Will Self labelled the perpetrators “evil.”

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen tweeted: “I am shaking with rage at the attack on Charlie Hebdo. It’s an attack on the free world.”

His frightening solution?

“The entire free world should respond, ruthlessly.”

Missing from the endless mainstream media coverage is any mention of the awkward fact that, as Noam Chomsky has stated, “traditionally the United States and Britain have by and large strongly supported radical Islamic fundamentalism.”

The historian Mark Curtis details the link in his 2010 book Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam.

Citing British support for the “crazies” in Afghanistan in the 1980s and their BFF, the ruthless Saudi regime, Curtis notes: “British governments, both Labour and Conservative, have, in pursuing the so-called ‘national interest’ abroad, colluded for decades with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organisations.”

It’s important to remember all this is not ancient history. Just as the Western-backed jihad in Afghanistan gave birth to al-Qaida, by supporting those who wish to violently overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the West has helped to create the jihadi blowback of which Paris may well be only the beginning.

You don’t believe me? Let me explain. The West has been helping to arm the rebels in Syria since before May 2012. With its involvement initially covert and limited, the US gave a wink and a nod to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to support the rebels.

This use of proxies has continued despite it being clear since at least October 2012 that arms provided by Qatar and Saudi Arabia were going to hardline Islamist jihadists.

How clear, you ask? Well, as clear as a New York Times headline stating “Rebel arms flow is said to benefit jihadists in Syria.”

The US, Britain and, yes, France, have continued to provide arms and training to the rebels, despite experts repeatedly warning of the danger of such a strategy.

In September 2012 the head of the UN monitoring mission in Syria said Western support for the opposition risked prolonging the conflict.

Writing in the New York Times in June 2013, two former Nato secretary-generals noted: “Western military engagement in Syria is likely to provoke further escalation on all sides, deepening the civil war and strengthening the forces of extremism, sectarianism and criminality gaining strength across the country.”

Experts from Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute and the European Council on Foreign Relations all warned that weapons sent into Syria would likely end up in the hands of jihadists.

William Hague, of course, said there was no risk of arms falling into the wrong hands.

Who do you think has been proved right? Unsurprisingly, CIA-supplied weapons have been spotted being used by Isis to target armoured vehicles the US had supplied to the US-backed Iraqi government.

You don’t need to be a counter-terrorism expert to realise an increasingly militarised conflict, awash with weapons and populated by a burgeoning number of extremists, with no peaceful end in sight, is exactly the kind of conditions that encourage violent jihadists to travel to Syria.

Terrorism analyst Aaron Zelin’s February 2013 warning that “the Syrian conflict is going to be as big, if not bigger, than Afghanistan was in the 1980s in terms of mobilising jihadi fighters” seems prescient today.

However, it is veteran correspondent Patrick Cockburn who makes the key point about Western responsibility: “The West backed the uprising against President Assad, and still does, and this enabled Isis to develop, gain military experience and then use it back in Iraq.”

All of this information about our own responsibility for engendering radical, sometimes violent, Islamists is on the public record, having been published in widely read, highly respected newspapers over the last few years.

And yet it has effectively been excluded from the ongoing debate surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the terrorist threat to the West.

No overt censorship or terrorist intimidation was needed — just professional, career-minded journalists and well-educated commentators arguing feverishly within the narrow bounds of acceptable debate.