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On Owen Jones and the Stop The War Coalition

Interventions Watch | November 16, 2013

On Saturday the 30th November, the Stop The War Coalition will host a conference to discuss the most effective ways to resist the drive to war against Syria – stalled for now, but not necessarily indefinitely. Due to speak (at the time of writing) are Diane Abbott MP, Seamus Milne, Tariq Ali and Lindsey German, among many others.

To cut a long story short, the Stop the War website is also advertising that Mother Agnes Mariam is due to speak at the conference. Agnes is a christian Nun who is suspected by some observers of the war in Syria of being little more than a mouthpiece for the Assad regime. Let’s just accept for arguments sake that this is true, and that inviting her was a bad idea (I will confess here to not being totally au fait with her views).

The presence of Mother Agnes has lead to Jeremy Scahill, the excellent American investigative journalist, and Owen Jones, a columnist with The Independent newspaper, pulling out of the conference, on the grounds that they don’t want to share a platform with an apologist for war criminals.

But I just want to share a few thoughts on why I think Jones’ position is confused at best.

Jones is a member and supporter of the Labour party, and thinks other lefties should be as well. As is hardly a secret, Labour is a party that plays host to plenty of major war criminals and apologists for those war criminals, but that apparently isn’t enough for him to want to part ways with them.

Indeed, he has in the past quite happily appeared on platforms with John Prescott, who was deputy Prime Minister at the time of the aggression against Iraq – not just an apologist for war crimes then, but an active participant in them.

Jones’ argument for staying a member of Labour is that while he doesn’t agree with these people on various issues, he thinks it’s worth trying to win the argument against them to change the party for the better, from within. It’s not a totally unreasonable position, and I think he’s certainly sincere in arguing it.

Why couldn’t he apply that same logic to the Stop The War Conference though? Say that while he obviously doesn’t agree with the opinions of all the speakers there, he thinks it’s still worth going and making his argument as to what the best anti-war position is or should be? He could even outline why he doesn’t agree with people like Mother Agnes in his talk, and maybe change a few minds.

But no, unlike his continuing embrace of the blood soaked Labour party, he’s just going to shun the conference altogether, thus giving plenty of ammunition to those who are trying to smear Stop The War, and anti-war people in general, as pro-Assad. ‘Even Owen Jones wants nothing to do with them, see!’.

My hunch is that he’s scared of being tarred with a pro-Assad brush, because that would be damaging to his reputation (certainly in the eyes of a state-corporate media Establishment that has embraced him) in a way that being seen as broadly pro-Labour – despite their horrific track record and the massive trail of corpses they left behind them last time they were in power – isn’t, given that Labour are part of that Establishment themselves.

Nuns who’ve made some dodgy comments in defense of the Assad regime? He’ll have no part of it.

A political party who instigated some of the worst and most murderous war crimes of the modern era, and whose leader continues to act as an apologist for the perpetrators, as well as the brutal wars in Afghanistan and Libya? Count him in.

For me, it shows how even some lefties have a moral vision that is badly skewed by power, and the need for Establishment approval, when it comes to assessing and reacting to Their crimes (or even alleged supporters of Their crimes), and Ours

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Goodbye Miliband; Don’t Come Back

By Stuart Littlewood | Palestine Chronicle | March 28, 2013

The tears shed by assorted media at the news of David Miliband’s departure from British politics for a new life in New York had me reaching once again for the sick-bag.

“British politics will be a poorer place without David,” said brother Ed, leader of the Labour Party.

Will it? I’m pleased to see Peter Oborne’s straight-talking piece in The Telegraph putting Miliband D in his place.

“We are, after all, talking about someone who was at best a minor politician, no towering colossus,” writes Oborne. “After Labour’s 1997 election victory he was the poster boy of a new ruling elite which seized control of the commanding heights of British politics. Anti-democratic, financially greedy and morally corrupt, this new political class has done the most enormous damage. Since David Miliband was its standard-bearer, his political career explains a great deal about what has gone wrong with British public life, about why politicians are no longer liked or trusted, and about how political parties have come to be viewed with contempt.”

Oborne makes the point that Miliband set the pattern so many others, including his brother Ed, have followed. “Obsessed by politics at university, he has never had even the faintest connection with the real world. From life in think tanks he became a Labour Party researcher and special adviser, before being parachuted into the north-eastern constituency of South Shields as an MP.”

Miliband wrote Labour’s vacuous 1997 and 2001 election manifestos and was at the heart of the Labour machine when it generated the now notorious falsehoods over Iraq. Oborne also notes the irony of Miliband’s new job heading a humanitarian organisation “when the government of which he was such a loyal member created so many of the world’s disasters”.

We are reminded that Miliband was inexperienced and had no idea how the world worked, so was out of his depth when promoted to the Foreign Office. “During his short, undistinguished career, Mr Miliband has done grave damage to British politics. He is part of the new governing élite which is sucking the heart out of our representative democracy while enriching itself in the process… David Miliband has belittled our politics and he will not be missed.”

And having gone, many will be praying the Miliband brat won’t be back.

He will be forever remembered as the British foreign secretary who shamelessly apologized to Israel’s gangsters for the risk they ran of being arrested if they set foot in London. Back in 2009 Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and retired general Doron Almog, cancelled engagements in London for fear of ‘having their collar felt’. Israel complained bitterly and Miliband promised Lieberman that UK laws relating to ‘universal jurisdiction’ would be changed. He asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Justice Minister Jack Straw for urgent action.

When the general election ousted him from the Foreign Office, Miliband’s groveling promise was eagerly taken up by his replacement, William Hague, another fanatical ‘friend of Israel’, who declared that a situation where politicians like Mrs Livni could be threatened with arrest in the UK was “completely unacceptable… We have agreed in the coalition about putting it right, we will put it right through legislation… and I phoned Mrs Livni amongst others to tell her about that and received a very warm welcome for our proposals.”

Never mind that the arrest warrants were issued to answer well-founded criminal charges. Never mind that under ‘universal jurisdiction’ all states that are party to the Geneva Conventions are under a binding obligation to seek out those suspected of having committed grave breaches of the Conventions and bring them, regardless of nationality, to justice. And never mind that there should be no hiding place for those suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Human rights activists resorted to private arrest warrants because the government was in the habit of shirking its duty under the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention and dragged its feet until the birds had flown.

Bringing a private prosecution for a criminal offence is an ancient right in common law and, in the words of Lord Wilberforce, “a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of the authority.” Lord Diplock, another respected Lord of Appeal, called it “a useful safeguard against capricious, corrupt or biased failure or refusal of those authorities to prosecute offenders against the criminal law”.

And the beauty of the private warrant was that it could be issued speedily.

The servile Miliband’s action disgusted those who will never forget that Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister, was largely responsible for the terror that brought death and destruction to Gaza’s civilians during the blitzkrieg known as Operation Cast Lead. Showing no remorse, and with the blood of 1,400 dead Gazans (including 320 children and 109 women) on her hands and thousands more horribly maimed, Livni’s office issued a statement saying she was proud of it. Speaking later at a conference at Tel Aviv’s Institute for Security Studies, she said: “I would today take the same decisions.”

Any British government minister who brings this degree of obsequiousness to his job and is prepared to undermine our justice system in order to make the UK a safe haven for the likes of her, deserves to be judged harshly.

Miliband is also remembered for not having the guts to visit Gaza, or even Iran, while in office. Yet he managed to reach Gaza in 2011 with Save the Children. “I had not been able to visit while in government for security reasons,” he said in an article in The Guardian. What nonsense. The only danger would have been from an air-strike by his psychopathic friends in Tel Aviv or a Mossad assassin. Those risks go with the job. You can’t be an effective foreign secretary wrapped in cotton wool.

He said the purpose of his eventual trip to Gaza was “to get a sense of life… to get a glimpse, albeit brief, of life for the people”. A pity he didn’t do that earlier instead of wielding his ministerial power in ignorance

While David Miliband headed up foreign policy it was frankly embarrassing to be British. What magical transformation has this pipsqueak recently undergone to make him the ideal candidate to run an organization like the International Rescue Committee? With the likes of Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, and Henry Kissinger on board, you might wonder about the IRC’s presence in vulnerable countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

No-one is about to forget Albright’s infamous remark about the human misery caused by the intervention and mayhem in Iraq, that “the price is worth it”.

Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, can now be read on the internet by visiting http://www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk.

March 29, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brits to pay $3 bln to be spied upon on web, emails, texts

RT | 03 April, 2012

UK taxpayers will have to pay billions of dollars to have their web surfing, email exchange, text messaging, and even Skype calls, monitored. In addition to the hefty price-tag, innocent Brits risk being misidentified as terrorists.

The shocking data comes ahead of the plan announcement in the Queen’s speech, which is scheduled for May. Meanwhile, the Home Office, Britain’s interior ministry, said ministers were preparing to legislate “as soon as parliamentary time allows”.

More than $3 billion over the first decade alone is the extraordinary sum the British taxpayer will have to pay to be legally spied upon, reports the Daily Mail. In addition, annual running costs of roughly $320 million – $610 a minute – to store the data gathered from private communication.

Moreover, the above figures are based on 2009 estimates, which means the actual price, if it were estimated now, would be higher still.

British security agencies are pushing for a law, which would allow police to gain access to who you call, what sites you surf and how you play video games.

The government wants details about text messages, phone calls, email, visited websites, Facebook and Twitter exchanges and even online game chats.

The bill is aimed at finding potential terrorists and criminals in the name of protecting British citizens. However, Brits themselves might need protection from the side-effects caused by the new policy. According to the Information Commissioner’s Office – an independent watchdog upholding information rights in the public interest – once implemented, the bill may lead to innocents being wrongly identified as criminals. Or worse still – terrorists.

According to ICO internal documents uncovered by Tory MP Dominic Raab, this misidentification may lead to regular people being barred from flying along with terrorist suspects and criminals alike.

“Individuals may be wrongly identified, subject to identity fraud or there may just be a mistake. How do they put this right? Intelligence can be used to put people on no-fly lists, limit incomes or asset grabs by government agencies,” the documents read.

Rights activists fear potential abuse of the surveillance, as well as hacker threats to the database storing the personal details collected. It will be a responsibility of providers to store the data for two years. ICO documents cover this sensitive subject too, warning of the potential for abuse by service providers.

These revelations have caused an upheaval among British politicians, with both Tories and Liberal Democrats standing their ground as opponents of the policy, which was first suggested by the Labour government back in 2006. Six years on, MPs are raising their brows at the estimated cost of the project, in the wake of financial hardships that push UK government to make cuts elsewhere.

The plan is said to have been prepared by the Home Office in collaboration with home security service MI5, the foreign intelligence service MI6 and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the body responsible for signals intelligence and information assurance for UK’s government and armed forces.

The plan is expected to be announced in May in the Queen’s Speech. It is a rewrite of a similar plan, which was developed by the Labour Party, but had been shelved in November 2009 due to lack of public support. Then in opposition the Conservatives criticized Labour’s “reckless” record on privacy.

April 3, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on Brits to pay $3 bln to be spied upon on web, emails, texts