Aletho News


Airstrike kills family of nine in Yemen – residents

RT | April 4, 2015

A family of nine has been killed in an airstrike on a Yemeni village near Sanaa, residents report. Five others have been wounded, while several others remained trapped under rubble, according to Yemeni media.

The strike, which on Friday evening hit the Okash village – just a few miles away from a military base outside the capital – killed two men, a woman, and six children, Reuters reported, citing residents.

The state news agency Saba posted a picture on its website showing three children lying next to each other with pieces of paper with the date April 3, 2015 written on them. However, the authenticity of photo has not yet been verified.

A Saudi-led military coalition began launching airstrikes against Yemen’s Houthi rebels last week. The operation intends to bring ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back into power and prevent the Houthi militants and backers of Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh from gaining full control of the country.

In Aden, a southern port city which has seen the fiercest clashes in the country, medics say that fighting has left at least 185 people dead and more than 1200 wounded since the violence sharply escalated last week. Aden had been one of the loyalists’ few remaining footholds in the country, where Hadi had been holing up after being forced out of the capital by the Houthis in February. Hadi fled the country for Riyadh last week.

The head of Aden’s health department Al-Khader Lassouar told AFP that three-quarters of the casualties were civilians, adding that the actual death toll is likely much higher as the Houthis and their allies do not take their causalities to public hospitals.

Lassouar also called for international aid organizations and Arab States to provide emergency medical supplies to Aden’s hospitals.

“Medicine stocks are exhausted and hospitals can no longer cope with the increasing number of victims,” he said.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representative Sitara Jabeen told RT that the organization is making breakthroughs in negotiations for a 24 hour in order to get aid into the country.

“We are now waiting for a formal greenlights. We hope that by tomorrow we will be able to send our supplies and our personnel to Yemen,” she said Saturday. She emphasized that the organization was talking to all parties in the conflict.

Earlier, the ICRC released a statement calling for an immediate 24-hour humanitarian pause in hostilities.

“All air, land and sea routes must be opened without delay for at least 24 hours to enable help to reach people cut off after more than a week of intense air strikes and fierce ground fighting nationwide,” the ICRC said in a statement on Saturday.

Three shipments of aid and medical staff from the ICRC had been blocked for several days because of both the Saudi-led aerial bombardment as well as intense clashes on the ground between Yemen’s rivaling factions.

Several boats and planes containing over 48 tons of medical supplies are awaiting security clearance to leave for Yemen. A four-person surgical team is also on stand-by in Djibouti waiting to be dispatched to Aden by boat.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Moscow calls for additional weapons withdrawal in E. Ukraine

RT | April 4, 2015

Russia supports the proposed withdrawal of weapons of less than 100-millimeter caliber from the front line in eastern Ukraine, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“The possibility of withdrawing weapons of less than 100-millimeter caliber is under discussion now, and we are supporting it,” Lavrov told a media conference during his visit to Slovakia on Saturday.

“We will try to help the sides to reach an agreement, which would increase mutual confidence,” he added.

Kiev made a similar statement last week, saying arms not covered by the Minsk agreements, such as tanks and 80-millimeter mortars and other weapons of up to 100-millimeter caliber could be pulled back.

The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine brokered the latest Ukraine peace deal, dubbed the Minsk-2 agreement, in the Belarusian capital on February 12. It was agreed the sides in the conflict would pull heavy weapons back from the frontline and establish a security zone separating them. According to the document, the zone separating the warring parties must be at least 50 kilometers wide for artillery over 100-millimeter caliber, 70 kilometers for regular multiple rocket launchers and 100 kilometers for heavier long-range weapons.

A final resolution of the Ukrainian crisis will be possible if the conflicting parties are kept to their commitments under the Minsk-2 deal, Lavrov believes.

“It’s important to keep telling them that, to make sure they comply with the agreements,” he said.

International monitors have said the truce is generally holding, but there are still sporadic incidents of violence.

Lavrov noted such incidents happen on both sides, and that it’s necessary to “enforce monitoring of the situation in Ukraine.”

The monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) discovered military equipment belonging to both warring sides in an area near Shirokyno, according to the mission’s report on Friday. Shirokyno is near the front line, and under the Minsk-2 agreements weapons have to be pulled back from this area.

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) “observed one Ukrainian Armed Forces armored personnel carrier near Shirokyno that is under government control, and 15 DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] main battle tanks in areas around Shirokyno under ‘DPR’ control. In addition, to the north of Zaichenko (DPR-controlled), the SMM observed two destroyed main battle tanks,” the report said.

A Ukrainian military spokesman Andrey Lysenko told reporters on Saturday that three Kiev military men were killed and two more wounded in eastern Ukraine when a bomb exploded near Avdeevka.

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic spokesman, Eduard Basurin, told Interfax on Saturday that the Ukrainian military has violated the ceasefire many times in the past 24 hours, mainly in the Donetsk airport area. He said that from the 27 violations, 12 were monitored at the airport. The Ukrainian military used cannon artillery, tank weapons, 82-millimeter and 120-millimeter caliber mortars, he added.

During his visit to Slovakia on Saturday, Lavrov once again expressed hope that the law, recently passed by Kiev granting the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk special self-rule status, will receive a proper response from the international community.

On March 17, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament), passed a law granting the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk special self-rule status. However, it has postponed the introduction of the new status until the regions hold new elections under Ukrainian laws. Ukrainian MPs said the two republics will be recognized as ‘temporary occupied territories’ and voted this status should remain until the Ukrainian military fully restores control.

The leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics have slammed the decisions as “shameful” and blamed Kiev for not having negotiated the law with them.

The law “contravenes the Minsk agreements,” Lavrov said on Saturday. Moscow hopes “this will not provoke the undermining of these important accords,” he added.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Government watchdog doubts $400 million USAID program for Afghan women is working

RT | April 3, 2015

A $416 million program to empower Afghan women may leave them “without any tangible benefit” instead, a government watchdog warned, urging USAID to provide more data on the controversial project.

The Promoting Gender Equity in National Priority Programs – Promote, for short – was announced last November as part of US reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Its stated intent is to empower some 75,000 Afghan women between the ages of 18 and 30 to become political, business and civil service leaders, and engage girls ages 14 through 18 in “leadership development programs.”

However, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) warned that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has not shown what the program would actually do, provided for adequate safeguards and controls of the contractors involved, or even accounted for half the funding Promote is supposed to receive.

“I am concerned that some very basic programmatic issues remain unresolved and that the Afghan women engaged in the program may be left without any tangible benefit upon completion,” John F. Sopko wrote in a letter to the USAID acting administrator, made public Thursday.

“I do hope that we are not going to fall again into the game of contracting and sub-contracting and the routine of workshops and training sessions generating a lot of certificates on paper and little else,” Sopko said, quoting the words of Afghanistan’s First Lady, Rula Ghani, from a November 2014 conference.

Though his staff was briefed on Promote in late February, Sopko wrote, “USAID could not provide the audit team a list of all the agency’s projects, programs, and initiatives intended to support Afghan women, or how much the agency spent on each effort.”

“USAID was also unable to provide data demonstrating a causal relationship or correlation between the agency’s efforts to support Afghan women and improvements in Afghan women’s lives,” he added.

In October 2014, USAID announced the award of five-year, “indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity” contracts for Promote to three companies: Chemonics International, Development Alternatives and Tetra Tech. According to the agency, USAID would provide $216 million for the program, while another $200 million would come from unspecified foreign donors.

The SIGAR is questioning the basis of this estimate, since USAID failed to produce any supporting documentation, including any memorandum of the understanding between the three contractors and the Afghan government.

“Of this $416 million, how much will be spent in Afghanistan on Afghan women, and how much will be spent on security and overhead costs for the three contractors and program implementers?” the SIGAR asked. Sopko also raised the issue of USAID’s “sustainability plan,” asking whether any steps were taken to ensure the program survived past the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Read more: Expensive chaos: Billions of dollars meant for Afghanistan development wasted

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s time for liberal Jews to admit that liberal Zionism is bankrupt

By Nasim Ahmed | MEMO | April 4, 2015

To be a freier is anathema to Israelis. The Yiddish word is translated loosely as “sucker”, which doesn’t really do justice to its broader and more significant connotations. “Don’t be a freier” is practically the 11th commandment in Israel and the fear of actually being one plays into every aspect of life. This includes politics, where such an accusation could damage a politician’s public image badly.

Benjamin Netanyahu beat the Labour Party’s Shimon Peres in the 1996 election largely because Peres was seen as a freier; a pushover, someone who cedes ground, plays by the rules and allows others to get the better of him. Netanyahu’s latest victory was also very much down to his own uncompromising image as a bit of a political brawler; someone who will never concede from a position of strength; someone who in the eyes of Israeli voters is not a sucker.

“Liberal Zionists” are freiers in the eyes of many Israelis because they want to end Israel’s occupation, an end to settlements and the emergence of a free and sovereign Palestinian state. Liberal Zionists are also “suckers” in another way; they have been deceived into thinking that Zionism and liberalism can be reconciled.

Their dream has been dashed. The extremely illiberal manner in which Netanyahu secured his latest election victory – which included calling on right-wing Israelis to get out and vote because Arab voters were coming out in droves – has prompted much soul-searching amongst liberal Jews.

Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian‘s executive editor and an ardent liberal Zionist, is disturbed that “Netanyahu sank into the moral gutter and there will be consequences“. J Street, an American liberal Jewish advocacy group, held a plenary session during its annual conference on the future of liberal Zionism. A visibly irritated prominent liberal Zionist, Peter Beinart, author of the “Crises of Zionism”, bleated over Netanyahu’s victory and declared his support for “any campaign” against Israel’s occupation that was “non-violent” but which must “recognise Israel’s right to exist”.

What unites liberal Zionists is the belief – or at least the hope – that Israel can reconcile and balance being a Jewish and a democratic state, serving both as the realisation of Jewish national self-determination and as a modern liberal state that guarantees equality to all citizens regardless of their religion or ethnic heritage. This liberal Zionist dream looks more like a fantasy than a realistic political aspiration for a number of reasons.

For a start, in what is supposed to be land earmarked for a Palestinian state, Israel presides over an apartheid system that has been the cause of much embarrassment to liberal Zionists like Beinart and Freedland. Within Israel itself there are more than 50 laws that discriminate against non-Jews in all areas of life, including their rights to political participation and access to land, education, state services and resources, and the criminal justice system.

Being a liberal Zionist was always going to be a tough act to pull off; now it has become near enough impossible. The intrinsic contradiction between wanting social justice and equity whilst simultaneously supporting a militaristic and apartheid state of Israel (and a “Jewish State” at that) produces what psychologists call cognitive dissonance; the discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values at the same time.

It was in many ways an odd synthesis to start off with purely because liberalism at its core is about inclusion and universal rights and principals. Zionism, on the other hand, has always been about exclusion and Jewish exceptionalism.

Nevertheless, it was in many ways a necessary synthesis no matter how oxymoronic it seems. For Diaspora Jews, the majority of whom are liberal and support Israel, it was an ideological construct that functioned as a bridging concept between two irreconcilable ideologies: Zionism and liberalism.

As such, it has enabled liberal Jews to operate as pillars of support for the state of Israel and as apologists for its inherent illiberalism. Their loyalty is in the name of an idealistic Israel; a mythical Israel; an Israel that never really existed; a Jewish democratic country that can balance its dual identities. It’s a position that has contributed to the kind of arrogance and chutzpah that makes Israeli politicians believe that they can get away with anything.

In persisting with their arguments that they support what is in the “best interests of Israel”, while also policing the boundaries of “legitimate” and “illegitimate” criticisms of their mythical Israel, liberal Zionists have placed themselves in an unsustainable contradictory position. Therein they are forced to compromise on the central principals of liberalism, such as human rights, the rule of law and justice.

To avoid having to confront this reality liberal Zionists cling to some central illusions. They have constructed an artificial dichotomy between the State of Israel and the illegal Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory; they pretend that the state and the settlements – which undermine their narrative of a democratic Israel – are somehow disconnected, or can be. Zionists like Peter Beinart typify this when they suggest renaming the West Bank “undemocratic Israel” to distinguish it from the territory occupied in 1948, which is “democratic” Israel.

In reality, one cannot, in any serious way, separate Israel from its settlement enterprise, simply because the colonial outposts are central to Israeli state policy and not some breach of international law orchestrated by feral Jewish settlers.

Liberal Zionists have also called the bluff of Israeli politicians who have been paying lip service to a two-state solution. Their faith in a future post-occupation, post-settlements and post-apartheid democratic Israel is nought but a utopian dream.

They talk about an always just around the corner, yet really non-existent, two-state solution, which has provided Israel with infinite flexibility to expand and, above all, given it an alibi for its core colonial policy to occupy as much Palestinian land as possible. If liberal Zionists fear the spectre of a future apartheid Israeli state if the two-state solution is killed off – which would explain their shrilling response to Netanyahu’s electoral promise not to permit the creation of a Palestinian state – they ought to challenge Israel for what it is now and not make apologies for it based on an illusory Utopian future.

It has become obvious that liberal Zionists shy away from talking about Israel’s original sin, when the founders of the state started an act of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population which is ongoing to this day. Almost 750,000 Palestinians were killed or driven from their homes to make way for the foundation of the state of Israel which had to have a majority Jewish population. While over five million Palestinians are still refugees and stateless, liberal Zionists would rather close this embarrassing chapter of Israel’s bloody history and not face the difficult questions about the human rights being denied to Palestinians, including the refugees’ right to return to their land, which is guaranteed under international law.

Some liberal Zionists do admit that Israel’s past sins create a tolerable tension, but this does not reduce their support for the state, or call its existence into question. What concerns them most is Israel’s survival as a “Jewish democracy” no matter what the circumstances were around the state’s foundation.

In reconciling Israel’s past with their liberal principals they’ve resorted to all kinds of sophistry, including devising verbal crutches to prevent their liberal principals being overwhelmed by illiberal ethnic loyalty. For example, a vague notion of conflicting rights has been used to undermine Palestinian human rights, such as the legitimate right of Israel to be a Jewish state and the legitimate right of Palestinians to return and be compensated for their forceful expulsion.

Liberals who are normally devoted to the rule of law and human rights are quick to compromise this key tenet of liberalism when they put on a Zionist hat and make a spurious trade-off between the legitimate rights of Palestinian refugees and the desire of Israel to be a Jewish state. They forget, despite their liberalism, that Jewish self-determination cannot trump Palestinian human rights.

The “liberal” prefix for Zionism has been used to dilute the true essence of the latter as an ethno-religious colonial project. According to the French Jewish historian Maxime Rodinson, the Zionist project began as, “A Colonial-Settler State, wanting to create a purely Jewish or predominantly Jewish state in Arab Palestine in the 20th century.” Born out of illiberal values and principals it could not “help but lead to a colonial-type situation and the development of a racist state of mind, and in the final analysis, to a military confrontation.” Liberal Zionism is, therefore, politically and morally bankrupt.

With no end in sight to Israel’s decades-long occupation, liberal Zionists need to consider the fact that it is – along with on-going land theft and ethnic cleansing – at odds with liberal principles as well as the essence of Zionism; occupation is not some reactionary by-product of a state under siege.

Far from being Utopian, Israel’s reality is that it is a state that treats international laws and conventions with contempt, whilst using Judaism and Jewish history for its own colonial objectives. Liberal Zionists need to decide which is more valuable, liberal democracy or a Jewish majority state. They can’t have both.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

GOP Senator Tom Cotton vows to block final Iran agreement

Press TV – April 4, 2015

US Republican Senator Tom Cotton, known for his close links to a neoconservative group, says he will leave no stone unturned in order to sabotage a final nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran.

The P5+1 group – the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – reached an outline of a potentially historic agreement with Iran this week over Tehran’s civilian nuclear work that would lift all international sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic in exchange for certain steps Tehran will take with regard to its nuclear program.

“I’m going to do everything I can to stop these terms from becoming a final deal,” Cotton told CNN on Friday, criticizing President Barack Obama for pursuing a diplomatic agreement with Iran.

According to reports, Cotton received one million dollars from the Emergency Committee for Israel, a neoconservative group associated with Israel lobby, just before the last US election. The group was founded in mid-2010 by William [Bill] Kristol, a US neoconservative political analyst.

He said the Republican-dominated Congress could frustrate the Obama administration’s efforts to strike a comprehensive agreement with Iran by June 30 by preventing the removal of Congress-mandated sanctions, imposing new sanctions and pushing for legislation allowing lawmakers to review any nuclear accord reached with the Islamic Republic.

At the end of eight days of intense nuclear negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Thursday, Iran and the P5+1 states issued a joint statement, saying that no Iranian nuclear facility will be shut down and that Iran will continue with its nuclear activities in all its nuclear facilities including Natanz, Fordow, Isfahan and Arak.

“It was not a framework [understanding], it was just a detailed list of American concessions that is going to put Iran on the path to a nuclear weapon, whether they followed the terms… or they violate the terms,” Cotton said.

“Iran may not accept them in the first place because Iran has continued to string along our negotiators,” added the freshman senator from Arkansas.

Cotton suggested that instead of making a deal with Iran, the United States should take military action against the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear activities.

“The alternative to this deal is a better deal with continued pressure through the credible threat of military force and more sanctions, and, if necessary, having to take military action,” he said.

“There are grave reservations about the path the president is taking us down, on both sides of the aisle.”

In a bizarre move last month, a group of 47 Republican senators sent an open letter to Iran’s leaders, warning that whatever agreement reached with the Obama administration would be a “mere executive agreement” and that Congress could ultimately walk away from any deal with Tehran upon review.

The White House has denounced the GOP letter as an “unprecedented” and “calculated” attempt to interfere with the Iran nuclear talks.

Tom Cotton claimed that he had drafted the letter. However, independent analysts say the letter was actually written by William Kristol, his financier.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s NSA Refused to Release 4-Second Snippet of Secret Nixon Tape on Vietnam Talks

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | April 4, 2015

The National Security Agency (NSA) has refused to release four seconds of a recording made in the Richard Nixon White House more than 40 years ago, claiming the disclosure would expose a reference to Vietnam War peace talks and American government spying capabilities of the time.

The four-second segment, recorded on January 12, 1973 by Nixon chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, has been sought by researcher Ken Hughes of the University of Virginia, who has studied the Nixon-era tapes. It contains information related to negotiations between the U.S. government and the government of South Vietnam connected to the war.

But the NSA rejected Hughes’ request, claiming the brief recording “would reveal information that would impair U.S. cryptologic systems or activities,” NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told Bloomberg in an email.

Bloomberg was also told by the National Archives that the segment must be kept a secret because it could reveal “the identity of a confidential human source, a human intelligence source” or a “relationship with an intelligence or security agency of a foreign government or international organization.”

Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reported: “Historians say the redacted segment probably refers to a threat by former President Lyndon Johnson to expose an illegal attempt by Nixon’s presidential campaign to derail the 1968 Paris peace talks on ending the Vietnam War.”

To Learn More:

Classified: Why Is Obama Keeping Secret Four Seconds of a Nixon-Era Tape? (by Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg )

Nixon White House Tapes (Wikipedia)

New Technology Takes Aim at Notorious Watergate Tape Gap (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov )

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Man Beaten by Michigan Police Officers Fights Charges, Takes Lie Detector Test

By Christian Medina Beltz | PNAC | April 3, 2015

Floyd Dent, the 57-year old black man savagely beaten by Michigan Police Officers from Inkster PD, recently took and passed a lie detector test to clear his name.

Dent, a Ford Motor Company employee for the past 37 years, was charged with assault and battery, resisting arrest, fleeing or eluding police and possession of cocaine, which he claims was planted by police officers.

A judge dismissed all charges stemming from the physical altercation after a dashboard camera video directly refuted statements made by the arresting officers.

Dent, who passed a blood test for narcotics after the arrest, was avid about his about taking a polygraph.

“I want to take one just to let everybody know, the public and everything, that I’m honest and telling the truth,” Dent, said.

During the lie detector test, Dent was asked whether he verbally threatened the officers; whether the officers are correct that he threatened to kill them; if the police are correct that he had crack cocaine in his vehicle; and if Dent was lying about the drugs.

He answered “No,” to each question, and passed the test, NBC affiliate WDIV reported.

The video from the Jan. 28 arrest shows officers dragging Dent from his car and placing him in a chokehold. He was then kicked, shocked with a Taser and punched in the head 16 times by police officers.

Arresting officer William Melendez claimed  Dent threatened to kill him and bit him repeatedly after wrestling him to the ground.

It should be noted he made no effort to file an official report about any sustained injuries.

The official report is required protocol for even the most minor scratches. This should come as no surprise, as Melendez has a long rap sheet of police abuse offenses.

The Inkster officer was indicted on charges of planting drugs and falsifying reports while working as a Detroit police officer, earning him the nickname “Robocop.”

Conveniently enough, audio from the dash cam was turned off during the initial interaction with Dent that led to his bloody fate. However, evidence and Melendez’s shady past may play out in Dent’s favor.

The Wayne County prosecutor has asked for two weeks to reevaluate a drug possession charge, to which Dent plead not guilty.

This has become a classic case of he-said he-said, but only one of these men has a criminal past.

Dent’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 15.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

British Values: Real and Imagined

By Dan Glazebrook | RT | April 2, 2015

David Cameron’s attempts to style himself as the latest incarnation of a long tradition of ‘British values’ of tolerance, democracy and the rule of law is belied by both British history and his own policies. It also plays right into the hands of ISIS.

David Cameron has been at it again. Following the brutal attacks on visitors to the Bardo museum in Tunisia last month, Cameron took the opportunity to repeat one of the most common and pernicious falsehoods of his premiership – that he is a staunch defender of a set of moral absolutes he calls ‘British values’. “In the end” he said, “our values – freedom of speech, democracy, the rule of law – … will win through”. That the Tunis attacks were a direct result of his own fateful decision in 2011 to turn Libya over to a hotchpotch of ultra-sectarian and racist death squads, who then trained the Bardo attackers, was of course conveniently glossed over. But this theme – of Cameron’s dogged pursuance of his British values in the face of an Islamist onslaught – has been trotted out every time any European joins the tens of thousands of Libyan, Nigerian, Malian, Syrian, Algerian, and Iraqi victims of his policy of recruiting sectarian militants as tools of regime change. Thus when Lee Rigby was killed in London by a man (Michael Adebolajo) who had been offered a job by MI5 just weeks earlier, Cameron opined that “the terrorists will never win because they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech, in our British values, Western values”. And when Mohammed Emwazi was granted instant celebrity status by the British media following his youtube beheadings of journalists and aid workers, Cameron said that Emwazi’s actions were “the very opposite of everything this country stands for”, despite the fact that his own intelligence services headhunted Emwazi to work for them, just as they had facilitated the passage to Syria of the man who most probably trained him.

Cameron’s crucial role in creating and sustaining the death squads he claims to oppose, however, is well known to anyone paying attention to events in the Middle East, and has been written about extensively elsewhere by myself and others. What I want to critique here is Cameron’s claim that democracy, the rule of law and free speech and tolerance are indeed ‘British values’ in any meaningful sense. In fact, these values neither originated in Britain nor have ever been sincerely practiced by British governments.

Take democracy, for example. Even the mainstream textbooks don’t claim that it originated in Britain; Athens is generally supposed to be its birthplace (although there is increasing evidence that the Athenians based it on systems already in place in Africa). Cameron does have an answer for this, of course. In his article for the Daily Mail following the uproar over the mythical ‘Trojan Horse plot’, he writes that “People will say that these values are vital to other people in other countries… But what sets Britain apart are the traditions and history that anchors them and allows them to continue to flourish and develop. Our freedom doesn’t come from thin air. It is rooted in our parliamentary democracy”. What he doesn’t mention is that this particular version of democracy is based on a profound distrust of the people, and was consciously and openly designed to keep them out of decision making as far as possible. Also noteworthy is that the British government has only ever allowed a tiny privileged section of those subject to its power to vote for it – and still does. Only when non-aristocratic owners of business had become fabulously wealthy were they given the vote (in 1832), and when the franchise was extended to workers 35 years later, it was limited to those with the highest wages and living standards. When the universal male franchise was achieved in Britain in 1918, it was of course denied to the tens of millions of colonial subjects (including many Northern Irish Catholics) whose labour and resources were by then creating relatively privileged conditions for those in the ‘motherland’. Even today, British power extends far beyond Britain’s territorial borders, and yet the Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Somalis and others who are subject to its greatest abuses have no say in who forms the government. If democracy means that those who are the subjects of power have some influence over who wields it, Britain is still sorely lacking in this regard.

And what of the rule of law? Once again, despite the 800 year existence of the Magna Carta constantly trumpeted by Cameron, when it comes to international affairs, he has treated this apparently sacrosanct British principle with absolute contempt. From his support for Blair’s destruction of Iraq in 2003, to his own blitzkrieg against Libya in 2011, he has been a proud defender of the unprovoked war of aggression – defined by the Nuremberg tribunal, lest we forget, as “not only an international crime; [but] the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”. Even on the domestic front, he has been more than happy to violate the rule of law when it suits him. Thus at the slightest hint of civil unrest in 2011, Cameron’s government instructed magistrates to ignore their own sentencing guidelines and imprison everyone ‘involved’ in the youth insurrection, no matter how slight their offence, throwing judicial independence to the wind in the process. Worse still, every passing week produces more evidence of the apparent collusion between the intelligence services, police, and government ministers in facilitating and covering-up institutional child sex abuse on a horrific scale – and yet Cameron’s government appears to have done everything possible to delay an inquiry into the issue and limit its powers. The rule of law may well be valued in Britain – but it certainly isn’t applied to the higher echelons Cameron represents.

On tolerance and freedom of speech, Britain may seem to fare a little better. But this is only true if we ignore history, foreign policy and Cameron’s own ‘anti-terror’ legislation. Historically, Britain has hardly been a model of toleration. We needn’t go back to King Edward I’s expulsion of the Jews (many of whom sought refuge in the historically much more tolerant Islamic empires) or the anti-Catholic laws (in place until 1829 and only repealed in response to the threat of civil war in Ireland) to find institutionalised discrimination: racialised stop-and-searches have actually increased since the 1999 MacPherson Inquiry’s conclusion that the British police were “institutionally racist”. This is perhaps not surprising, however, given that the British Empire itself was built on intolerance and discrimination, stripping native peoples of political rights and often reducing them to a legal status little different from animals or property. In this regard, the 2012 laws passed by the NATO-installed Libyan government – laws which threaten life imprisonment for supporters of the previous government, and  impunity for anyone who kills them – is fully in line with actual historical British practice abroad – but not with some mythical commitment to ‘tolerance’ and free speech. Back at home, Cameron’s redefinition of extremism to include ‘non-violent’ varieties, combined with draconian new proposals to ensure that all educational institutions rid themselves of all hints of such extremism, are the very antithesis of ‘freedom of speech’, as commentators of all political stripes have noted.

Perhaps most insidious of all, however, is Cameron’s claim that “The Western model of combining vibrant democracy with free enterprise has delivered great progress and prosperity”. In reality, the ‘Western model’ has not been based on ‘vibrant democracy’, but precisely on its opposite – on the dispossession of the vast majority of those subject to its power, from the native Americans and African slaves of yesteryear, to the countless millions subject to IMF structural adjustment or NATO bombardment today. But neither has it been based on ‘free enterprise’. As scholars such as Ha-Joon Chang have shown in detail, the truth is that every Western nation used massive protectionism during their rise to prosperity. Even today, the strongest industries in the West – from US agribusiness and pharmaceuticals to British finance – are completely dependent on massive government subsidies, demonstrated most clearly in the $15 trillion global bankers bailout following the financial crash of 2007-8. Protectionism and colonialism/ neo-colonialism, then, are the real foundation, and continuing basis, of Western prosperity. To ascribe this prosperity to a set of ‘values’ which have never been taken seriously by Britain’s governing elites is not only a falsification of history, but a slander on those whose own dispossession and impoverishment was the flipside of this prosperity. Only by being honest about the role of Britain’s African, Asian and American colonies in creating Britain’s prosperity – and Britain’s role in creating and perpetuating their poverty – can we hope to genuinely build an inclusive society based on mutual respect and understanding for all those who find themselves here ‘because we were there’.

Britain’s governing elites, then, have consistently undermined the values they claim to espouse – and none more than their greatest advocate, Mr Cameron himself. But this does not make his narrative meaningless. In a sense, this article, by taking his sacred principles at face value and questioning whether the British government lives up to them, is completely missing the point. For the real purpose of the narrative is not, and has never been, to establish a standard which we should aspire to reach. Far from it. The purpose is solely to provide a stick with which to beat Islam. It is not that ‘we’, as Brits, are actually supposed to practice these ‘British values’ ourselves – the point is rather to provide solid grounds for hating the Islamic societies that are always presented as the greatest transgressors of these values. Don’t get me wrong – Cameron is constantly at pains to point out that ‘the vast majority of law abiding British Muslims’ share these values. But his very language leads us to believe that those Muslims who do share such values do so because of their Britishness, and despite their Islam. The danger of this narrative is multiple. Not only does it reinforce ignorant prejudices about Islam’s ‘aversion’ to democracy, the rule of law and tolerance – but it also justifies the rejection of such values by groups such as ISIS. For ISIS are the prime believers in Cameron’s message that such values are ‘British’ and ‘western’. And as people who hate Britain and the west and all it has done to the world, they feel duty bound to reject the values it espouses. Yet they forget that Islamic culture has a proud – and much longer – history of practicing them than does the ‘west’ itself. And why do they forget this? Because they believe the distortions of their own history perpetrated by Cameron and his ilk. The more, therefore, that Cameron claims democracy, tolerance and the rule of law to be distinctly British phenomenon – insinuating all the while that they are not indigenous to Islam – the more that angry young Muslims, who have seen their homelands torn apart by Britain, are drawn into the orbit of those militant groups who reject these values. But then, for Cameron, this is all fine. More Muslims joining ISIS means more fighters in his proxy war against Assad – and all without a single soldier returning home in a body bag. This, at least, gets us a little closer to understanding what Cameron really values.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Islamophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment