14 December 2006

Oliver Kamm: little man with large ego

I have just seen the interview on The Late Edition, and what surprised me most (I don't know why it surprised me really), apart from seeing just what a small man Kamm is (albeit with an enormous superiority complex), was his use of the classic myth of "we are a civilised state, Iran and North Korea are not," argument to justify Trident, and the UK's own breaking of the NPT. Like most of his opinion, this is contradicted by the historical record.

Kamm has either not read Mark Curtis' books Web of Deceit and Unpeople which document what such a 'civilised' state we really are or he just ignores them.

In fact Curtis could be pointing directly at Kamm when he writes "The history of British foreign policy is partly one of complicity in some of the world's worst horrors. If we were honest, we would see Britain's role in the world to a large extent as a story of crimes against humanity. Currently, contrary to the extraordinary rhetoric of New Labour leaders and other elites, policies are continuing on this traditional course, systemmatically making the world more abusive of human rights as well as more unequal and less secure" Mark Curts, Web of Deceit p. 432.

Not surprisingly, Kamm also resorts to inverted logic in his opinions, for example when he states his primary reasons for supporting Trident:

"Because nuclear armories will be around for at least the next 50 years, that is, the life span of the successor to Trident; the likely acquirers will be the worst of states, in the not so distant future Iran and North Korea; the costs of acquiring Trident are known; the costs of renouncing it are incalculable; it is a prudent thing to do"

Kamm apparently can't see, or more probably ignores:

1. That "as Britain, especially with the US, increases military spending, heightens 'power projection' capabilities, develops even more sophisticated weapons and ensures Western conventional miltary dominance", in order to impose on the world a fundamentalist economic ideology that promotes the increasing takeover of the global economy by big business, "these priorities breed increasing insecurity and further encourage others to acquire even more devastating weapons". Mark Curtis, Web of Deceipt

2. That as Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University, openDemocracy’s International Security Editor and a consultant to the Oxford Research Group, explains:
"The determination of Britain's political elite to maintain the country as a nuclear-weapons state is rooted in a half-century of military planning to which the possibility of tactical and first use of nuclear weapons is central."

3. The policy itself sends a "clear signal" to other states who are "serious about pursuing an independent course of development": "if a country does not have these weapons, it may be threatened wth destruction and pulverised, as in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Iraq. Nuclear weapons could be seen as protection against this new phase of Western threats and interventionism masquerading as the 'war against terrorism'." Mark Curtis, Web of Deceit pp.432-433

The simple explanation is that this policy actually encourages the proliferation Kamm talks about.

Finally he states "it is a prudent thing to do".

Prudent? For someone who acclaims his own superior intellect, and calls others 'ignoramus', this is a remarkable word to use.

Prudent: "characterized by, arising from, or showing prudence"

"1 : the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason
2 : sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs
3 : skill and good judgment in the use of resources
4 : caution or circumspection as to danger or risk "

In fact, as is common with Kamm, he uses words which describe the opposite of reality.

Trident is ill-considered, ill-judged, and rash.

Media Lens Message Board

Re: Oliver Kamm: little man with large ego

Posted by The Editors on December 14, 2006, 6:27 pm, in reply to "Oliver Kamm: little man with large ego "User logged in as: Editor

: Trident is ill-considered, ill-judged, and : rash.

Actually, David, I think that's extremely generous. I think Trident is completely, 100%, insane. How else to describe a massively expensive response to a threat that doesn't exist which simultaneously increases the danger from threats that do exist (nuclear terrorism, etc)? It reminds me of the 'debate' in some circles on whether climate change is real - it wouldn't even be happening but for the influence of big money, big interests and big power.

04 December 2006

West helps Lebanon build militia to fight Hezbollah

Sent: domingo, 03 de diciembre de 2006 0:00
To: Paul Reynolds
Subject: Lebanon

Dear Paul,

I was trawling away on the internet this afternoon and came across this intriguing piece from yesterday's Globe & Mail, the Canadian national newspaper:

West helps Lebanon build militia to fight Hezbollah

I was surprised to read this as I had not come across this news in the British media.

"Syria and Iran have long poured money and weapons into Lebanese groups, primarily Hezbollah. But since Mr. Siniora and his allies took office in 2005, the United States, France and several Sunni Arab countries have set about trying to create a counterbalancing force."

"Since the Syrian army's departure from Lebanon in early 2005, the United States and France have been providing money and training to the Internal Security Forces, as the light-blue-uniformed police force is known. With the political situation souring further in recent weeks, the United Arab Emirates stepped in to provide the unit with an emergency "gift" of thousands of rifles and dozens of police vehicles."

"The United States, which sees Mr. Siniora's government as a flagship for its "new Middle East," gave $1.5-million (U.S.) in "rushed" military assistance to the ISF just before the outbreak of the summer war between Israel and Hezbollah, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has provided training. Washington promised millions more, but it's unclear whether it was ever delivered.

The ISF has also set up a separate $30-million intelligence-gathering apparatus -- in a country that already had three other such services -- because the other forces were seen as dominated by Christians and Shiites and infiltrated by Syria. Observers say the ISF's intelligence unit is widely reviled by suspicious Christians and Shiites.

"There is no trust of the police here. The police are seen as a Sunni-dominated sectarian force," said Timur Goksel, a professor of public administration at the American University in Beirut.

According to Amin Hteit, a military analyst and retired Lebanese army general, the ISF was a secondary force of about 12,000 men, compared with 63,000 in the regular army, before the Syrian withdrawal. Reflecting the generally accepted population breakdown, a third of its members were Shiites.

The ISF has since doubled in number, with Sunnis and Christians making up most of the new troops. According to Gen. Hteit, just 1,000 of the 12,000 additions are Shiites."

This is extremely important news. I can't understand why it isn't on every newscast or bulletin. Or on the front page of every newspaper. Or is it it that because its 'us' lighting the fuse of the next civil war, we can just ignore it as if it isn't really happening? Or is the aim really to transform the Middle East into a series of small easily controllable states as suggested by Maj. Peters, formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (US), where he was responsible for future warfare, in an article in the US Armed Forces Journal in early August 2006.

"International borders are never completely just. But the degree of injustice they inflict upon those whom frontiers force together or separate makes an enormous difference — often the difference between freedom and oppression, tolerance and atrocity, the rule of law and terrorism, or even peace and war.

The most arbitrary and distorted borders in the world are in Africa and the Middle East. Drawn by self-interested Europeans (who have had sufficient trouble defining their own frontiers), Africa's borders continue to provoke the deaths of millions of local inhabitants. But the unjust borders in the Middle East — to borrow from Churchill — generate more trouble than can be consumed locally."

"As for those who refuse to "think the unthinkable," declaring that boundaries must not change and that's that, it pays to remember that boundaries have never stopped changing through the centuries. Borders have never been static, and many frontiers, from Congo through Kosovo to the Caucasus, are changing even now (as ambassadors and special representatives avert their eyes to study the shine on their wingtips).

Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works."

"Correcting borders to reflect the will of the people may be impossible. For now. But given time — and the inevitable attendant bloodshed — new and natural borders will emerge. Babylon has fallen more than once.

Meanwhile, our men and women in uniform will continue to fight for security from terrorism, for the prospect of democracy and for access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself."

The article comes accompanied by a before and after map of the area.

When the Lebanon descends into a similar hellish chaos as Iraq, don't say you were never warned.

Best wishes

Update 04 December 2006:

After writing this letter yesterday, I see from reports in today's press that it has already started. In today's Haaretz we see the headline "Lebanon beefs up Beirut forces after Hezbollah man shot dead".

"In the most serious incident, gunmen fired from assault rifles at a group of protesters in the Sunni Qasqas neighbourhood, a stronghold for the anti-Syrian majority coalition, killing a man later identified as a Hezbollah guerrilla." Mind you we don't know who identified him as a a "guerrilla"...

UPDATE: 14 December 2006:

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Reynolds-INTERNET
Sent: martes, 05 de diciembre de 2006 14:52
To: David Sketchley
Subject: RE: Lebanon

I have passed this on to the Middle East desk

-----Original Message-----
From: David Sketchley
Sent: 05 December 2006 13:42
To: Paul Reynolds-INTERNET
Subject: FW: Lebanon

I'm sorry you a) couldn't find the time or b) couldn't be bothered to reply or even to cover this aspect on the BBC website.

For your information another article backing this up has been published in the LA Times:

"The Lebanese government has nearly doubled the size of its security forces in recent months by adding about 11,000 mostly Sunni Muslim and Christian troops, and has armed them with weapons and vehicles donated by the United Arab Emirates, a Sunni state."

"The quiet, speedy buildup indicates that Lebanon's anti-Syria ruling majority, led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, has been bracing for armed sectarian conflict since the withdrawal of Syrian forces in the spring of 2005"

Another aspect of the Lebanon problem that you have failed to address is that there is a class aspect to this struggle as well. The fact is that the Shiites are mostly poor and underrepresented by the outdated Taif Agreement.

Megan Stack in another LA Times article:

"Some of the poorest and most marginalized people in the country, Shiite Muslims, have abandoned their homes in suburban slums to camp out on the nation's priciest bit of real estate...Shiites have languished for generations in the impoverished east and south of the country. Even when they poured into the capital to escape poverty and war, they ended up squatting on the fringes of the city. Neglect of their plight provided the fertile ground in which
Hezbollah took root, not only as a band of fighters that stood up to Israel, but also as an efficient welfare network. The group built schools, founded clinics and helped squatters win the right to stay in their homes..."This part of town is for the French, for the Americans, for the rich," said Ali Hamdan, 30, a member of the Shiite Amal party. "It's not for us anymore. It's not really Lebanon. This is only on a map."


03 December 2006

How Israel demolishes ceasefires

Gideon Levy, whose reporting from the 'territories', Noam Chomsky describes as "difficult to match in quality anywhere" (Failed States p.192), has laid open the Israel Occupation Forces (IOF) strategy against the Palestinians in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Levy describes the process:

"In a few days, there will be a targeted killing operation. The military correspondents will recite: "He was one of the senior operatives of Hamas (or Islamic Jihad), and was responsible for producing and smuggling large amounts of armaments." In response, a barrage of Qassams will fall on Sderot. One of the residents might be injured. In the process of the targeted killing operation, some passersby might also be killed; the correspondents will then recite: "They were armed." Several days later, there might be a terror attack. The leaders of the right-wing parties and the Labor Party will be interviewed on television and will recite: "Abu Mazen has once again demonstrated that he is incapable and unwilling to fight terror. There is no one to talk to." Public Security Minister Avi Dichter will propose turning Beit Hanun into a ghost town. Eli Yishai will suggest bombing from the air. The next day, Qassams will fall again, and the IDF will enter the northern Gaza Strip. The cease-fire will go up in flames. This is not a bold wager. This is almost the exact series of events that occurred in previous cease-fires. What was is what will be. There are plenty of examples. "

Levy proceeds to provide us with at least 9 examples of the same Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) strategy since January 2002.

Another important point is that:

"The current cease-fire was achieved thanks to the U.S. president's visit in Jordan. Israel responded to the Palestinian initiative *- again it is a Palestinian initiative, there has never been an Israeli initiative - after the military operations were bitter failures. After "Summer Rains" and "Autumn Clouds," after 80 were killed in one week in Beit Hanun, the firing of Qassams did not stop.

The IDF hurried to respond with a typical sour countenance: Senior officers in the Southern Command expressed strong opposition in off-the-record conversations, the chief of staff was quick to declare that "the IDF was only a partially a partner in the decision" and the defense minister expressed reservations about expanding the cease-fire to the West Bank. The IDF is not interested in the cease-fire. One can assume that neither is the Shin Bet. Reports on how the cease-fire is already being exploited for redeployment on the other side are flooding the media. And the end is known in advance.

Instead of Israel promoting the cease-fire, it is acting to undermine it. A cease-fire is bad for the IDF, especially when it stems from its failures as in Lebanon and Gaza. How intolerably easy it is for the IDF to undermine the relative quiet that has been achieved. One assassination is enough."

* The NYT on 26 November 2006 reported "The deal started with a phone call from the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, to Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, according to both sides. "

However, the real importance of the article, and something you will never see exposed in European or N. American MSM is that "It is now not only a matter of the danger of renewed hostile activity, but a much more fateful question: Who rules in Israel and who is really dictating its path?"

The politicians or the IOF?