Archive for the ‘MScGG research’ Category

In the Tony Palmer film Bird On A Wire, 1972, Leonard Cohen reads from a poem in his book “The Energy of Slaves”.

Poem #92 (simplified lineation):

The killers that run
the other countries
are trying to get us
to overthrow the killers
that run our own
I for one
prefer the rule
of our native killers
I am convinced
the foreign killer
will kill more of us
than the old familiar killer does

Frankly I don’t believe
anyone out there
really wants us to solve
our social problems
I base this all on how I feel
about the man next door
I just hope he doesn’t
get any uglier

Therefore I am a patriot
I don’t like to see
a burning flag
because it excites
the killers on either side
to unfortunate excess
which goes on gaily
quite unchecked
until everyone is dead.

Leonard Cohen (in poem #92) resolutely refuses to take sides.
Today it would be more accurate to invert the poem’s neutrality.
Today, the killers that run our countries, U.S. / NATO, are more eagerly trying to overthrow the killers that run the other countries (Assad, Putin, etc, etc…) than they are trying to overthrow ours.
I suppose that was actually true also 1972, but it was too novel an idea to be useful in a poem and we are blinkered or cognitively dissonant to what our Military is doing in “our” name, or more accurately the goals of the Corporate masters.


 

“The sense of something lacking or failing arises from the realization that we inhabit a violently unjust world, a world defined by the horror of war, a world where, as Dostoevsky says; blood is being spilt in the merriest way, as if it were champagne.

Such an experience of disappointment is acutely tangible at the present time, with the corrosion of established political structures and an unending war on terror where the moods of Western populations are controlled through a politics of fear managed by the constant threat of external attack. This situation is far from novel and might be said to be definitional of politics from antiquity to early and considerably later modernity. My point is that if the present time is defined by a state of war, then this experience of political disappointment provokes the question of justice: what might justice be in a violently unjust world? It is this question that provokes the need for an ethics or what others might call normative principles that might enable us to face and face down the present political situation. Our main task is to respond to that need by offering a theory of ethical experience and subjectivity that will lead to an infinitely demanding ethics of commitment and politics of resistance.”

— Simon Critchley, Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance(Verso, 2007) https://slought.org/resources/democracy_and_disappointment


“In disoriented times, we cannot accept the return of the old, deadly figure of religious sacrifice; but neither can we accept the complete lack of any figure, and the complete disappearance of any idea of heroism. In both cases, the consequences will be the end of any dialectical relationship between humanity and its element of inhumanity, in a creative mode. So the result will be the sad success of what Nietzsche named ‘the last man.’ ‘The last man’ is the exhausted figure of a man devoid of any figure. It is the nihilistic image of the fixed nature of the human animal, devoid of all creative possibility. Our task is: How can we find a new heroic figure, which is neither the return of the old figure of religious or national sacrifice, nor the nihilistic figure of the last man? Is there a place, in a disoriented world, for a new style of heroism?”

— Alain Badiou, The Contemporary Figure of the Soldier in Politics and Poetry (UCLA, 2007)

We Are Without Excuse.

Ghosts Of The Future | A film (by my comrade) Kelvin Mason.

Trump shocked many but for his own supporters today as his racist, xenophobic, authoritarian, climate-science-denying, misogynistic, “grab-them-by-the-pussy” candidacy somehow carried him to victory, President Elect Of The United States Of America, Donald Trump. How does that sound?

Larger than expected turnout among rural and working-class, white, voters led Trump to outperform polling expectations in almost every battleground state winning; Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which put him over the required 270 electoral votes by early Wednesday morning.

Trump and the “birther movement” accusations were not true in 2011, when he mischievously began to question President Obama’s birthplace aloud in television interviews. “I’m starting to think that he was not born here,” he said at the time.
It was not true in 2012, when he took to Twitter to declare that “an ‘extremely credible source’” had called his office to inform him that Obama’s birth certificate was “a fraud.”
It was not true in 2014, when Trump invited hackers to “please hack Obama’s college records (destroyed?) and check ‘place of birth.’”
It was never true, any of it.
Obama’s citizenship was never in question.
No credible evidence ever suggested otherwise.

Yet it took Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender to reality finally, in September 2016, after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president.

In fact, it took Trump much longer than that: Obama released his short-form birth certificate from the Hawaii Department of Health in 2008. Most of the world moved on. But not Trump.

He nurtured the conspiracy like a poisonous flower, watering and feeding it with an ardor that still embarrasses many around him. Trump called up like-minded sowers of the same corrosive rumour, asking them for advice on how to take a falsehood and make it mainstream in 2011, as he weighed up his own run for the White House.

What could he do — what he did do — was talk about it, uninhibitedly, on social media, where dark rumours flourish in 140 characters and, inevitably, find a home with those who have no need for facts and whose suspicions can never be allayed. Trumped mused about it on TV at any opportunity, where bright lights and sparse editing ensure that tens of millions can hear unchallenged falsehoods.

“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” Mr. Trump asked on ABC’s “The View.” “I want to see his birth certificate,” he told Fox News’ “On the Record.”

And so it went.

Much has been made of Trump’s casual elasticity with the truth; he has exhausted an army of fact-checkers with his mischaracterisations, exaggerations and fabrications. But this lie was different from the start, an insidious, calculated calumny that sought to undo the embrace of an African-American president by the 69 million voters who elected him in 2008.

Trump, the one-time leader of this racist “birther” movement entered the race calling Mexicans “rapists” and repeatedly refusing to condemn white supremacists

Trump refused to condemn a KKK endorsement or say he didn’t want the support of white supremacists — four times.”I don’t know anything about David Duke. I don’t know what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacist. I don’t know. I don’t know, did he endorse me, or what’s going on?” he said.

and issued policy proposals that seemed unbound by the limits of executive power or basic human decency.

  • Trump promised to;
  • “bomb the shit” out of Middle Eastern countries,
  • kill terrorist’s innocent families,
  • do “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,”
  • and suggested that dipping bullets in pigs’ blood may be sound counterterrorism policy.

Donald Trump repeated his debunked story about General John Pershing shooting Muslims with pig’s blood at a large California rally in April.  The rally preceded violence in Orange County. According to Trump, around the time of the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902, Pershing killed 49 Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs blood, and “the fiftieth person, they said, ‘Take this bullet and bring to back to all of the people causing the problem,’” said Trump in Costa Mesa, CA. “And for 42 years they didn’t have a problem.”

The Real Story Behind Donald Trump’s Pig’s Blood Slander – IT IS NOT TRUE!

Trump has a long history of misogyny and belittling women, but after a decade-old tape surfaced of Trump saying he could; “grab [women] by the pussy,” and “if you’re a star, they let you do it,” many were horrified, and numerous women came forward with stories of being victimised by Trump. (http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/10/trump-tape-“grab-them-pussy-you-can-do-anything”)

Trump discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman, whose full name is not given in the video.

“I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. It was unclear when the events he was describing took place….“I did try and fuck her. She was married,” Trump says….“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. At that point in the audio, Trump and Bush appear to notice Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into the soap opera set. “Your girl’s hot as shit, in the purple,” says Bush, who’s now a co-host of NBC’s “Today” show….“I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says….“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says….“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
Trump’s excuse is that he’s heard Bill Clinton say a lot worse. Or something… http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/10/trump-tape-%E2%80%9Cgrab-them-pussy-you-can-do-anything%E2%80%9D

Trump’s election is a particular nightmare-come-alive for American Muslims, his campaign already having incited hundreds of anti-Muslim hate crimes and started a new wave of anti-Muslim bullying in schools.

Trump’s promises to spy on mosques and ban Muslims from entering the country have electrified his base, and served as consistent applause lines throughout his campaign.  Trump’s circle of advisors, surrogates, and political allies include people who brag about spying on mosques and call for “sharia tests” of all American Muslims, under penalty of deportation.

General Michael Flynn, a top national security adviser to Donald Trump and possible Defense Secretary, has tweeted that; “fear of muslims is rational.”

Wide open questions remain as to how Trump would staff his administration, or govern? Trump has flip flopped on hundreds of policy positions, and despite his promise to break the control of Washington by political insiders, his transition team is full of corporate lobbyists and Republican power brokers.
Two places he’s been consistent:

  • His convictions to build a wall on the southern border,
  • and to stand by police when they kill unarmed black men.
America has 5% of the world’s population but has incarcerates 25% of the world’s prisoners. That’s 1 in every 4 prisoners in the World is locked up in an American prison.
This statistic was delivered by Obama at the start of the Award winning documentary 13th (a 2016 multi-award winning documentary by director Ava DuVernay about the American Constitution 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery except as a form of punishment for crime – The full Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.).
They had declined sharply after Obama’s Justice Department announced it would stop using private prisons. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/11/private-prison-stocks-are-soaring

Political scientists, pollsters and pundits will likely debate for many years how media elites could have been so wrong in predicting an overwhelming Clinton victory.
Political punditry and polls are officially dead.
But in the short term, many communities and minorities groups, from undocumented immigrants to Muslims, suddenly face grave concerns for their rights, safety and security.


Sources:

https://theintercept.com/2016/11/09/the-nightmare-president/

The Real Story Behind Donald Trump’s Pig’s Blood Slander

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/10/trump-tape-“grab-them-pussy-you-can-do-anything”

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/11/private-prison-stocks-are-soaring


 

Jeremy Corbyn · 12 hrs ·

Many in Britain and elsewhere will be understandably shocked by Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, the rhetoric around it and what the election result means for the rest of the world, as well as America.

Trump’s election is an unmistakable rejection of a political establishment and an economic system that simply isn’t working for most people. It is one that has delivered escalating inequality and stagnating or falling living standards for the majority, both in the US and Britain

This is a rejection of a failed economic consensus and a governing elite that has been seen not to have listened. And the public anger that has propelled Donald Trump to office has been reflected in political upheavals across the world.

But some of Trump’s answers to the big questions facing America, and the divisive rhetoric around them, are clearly wrong.

I have no doubt, however, that the decency and common sense of the American people will prevail, and we send our solidarity to a nation of migrants, innovators and democrats.

After this latest global wake up call, the need for a real alternative to a failed economic and political system could not be clearer.

That alternative must be based on working together, social justice and economic renewal, rather than sowing fear and division. And the solutions we offer have to improve the lives of everyone, not pit one group of people against another.

Americans have made their choice. The urgent necessity is now for us all to work across continents to tackle our common global challenges: to secure peace, take action on climate change and deliver economic prosperity and justice.

Author| John Perkins wrote Confession of an Economic Hitman. Here he covers the history of Globalisation from WWII to present day.

It’s a very familiar story. But a question it answers is; Does it really matter who America elected as their President when the country is an Empire to Corporatocracy?

Keep in mind that although the next president will be important symbolically, it’s essential to recognise that this is just a charade as the President is beholding to the Corporatocracy.


Does The Next President Matter?

As I travel around the country discussing my new book The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man  and meeting with people from all walks of life, I hear a great deal of discouragement over the U.S. presidential election. So I try to encourage people to look at the positive side and see what wecan affect. Here are a couple of key points:

1) The extreme divergence between the left and the right indicates that a huge segment of our population is very dissatisfied with the current system. I call this the Death Economy, one based on wars, fear, debt and the destruction of our Earth’s resources. This unsustainable economy is failing us on a global level.

2) Although the next president will be important symbolically, it’s essential to recognize that his or her powers are very limited. For example, we used to think that one of the most influential things the president could do was to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices. Even that is in serious question now as many Republicans say they will not even consider an Obama nominee.

All of us must understand that we the people have the real power. Governmental systems, including most of our elected officials, are controlled by the global corporations who finance their campaigns and offer them lucrative consulting jobs if they lose or decide not to run for office. However, these global corporations are dependent on us, you and me, to buy their goods and services, invest in them, and support them through our tax dollars and government policies. So, during this election year, please commit to taking action, regardless of who is elected.

For more on our government systems and specific ideas on how you can act now, read my recent blog posts “Vote and Then Act in Favor of Democracy”and “Take Action in the New Year.

What you and I do every single day counts. There is a perceived reality that this Death Economy is the only reality. The truth is that revolutions have always occurred when people alter their perceived reality. In the 1770s, there was a perceived reality that the British army was invincible. When people changed that reality and understood that the British could be defeated by American farmers and hunters who stood behind trees and fired at the ridged lines of British troops, everything changed.

We are at one of those moments today. We are faced with a serious crisis as the rhetoric gets worse and political parties seem irrelevant. You and I need to understand the power that we have—each of us as individuals and as a community. So yes, vote in this next election but also realize that no matter who is elected, we must do our part every single day. We must convince the corporations that depend on us to move from a Death Economy based on fear, doubt, and the destruction of resources to a Life Economy based on regenerating destroyed environments, cleaning up pollution, and alleviating the causes of desperation and terrorism.

It isn’t so much about who next sits in the Oval Office or even changing the mechanics of economics. It is about changing the ideas, the dogmas that currently drive politics and economics: debt and fear, insufficiency, divide and conquer. It is about moving from ideas about merely being sustainable to ones that include regenerating areas devastated by agriculture, mining, and other destructive activities. It is about We the People taking control. It is about a revolution in consciousness and actions. It is about making the transition from a Death Economy to a Life Economy.

A turning point in the American revolution occurred when Thomas Paine helped change the perceived reality by writing, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day that my child may have peace.”

This is another time of crisis, a time to follow Paine’s advice. It is a time to own up to our power and not expect the president or any other politician to change the world for us. It is a time for us to act in ways that will assure peace for our children.

About John Perkins

John is a founder and board member of Dream Change & The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit & the author of the NY Times bestseller, Confessions Of An Economic Hitman.

 

Link: https://vimeo.com/149970851

Jarecki/ Why We Fight from Lawrence Christopher Skufca on Vimeo.

Synopsis:

Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki’s in-depth look at how the United States has built the largest peace time military/corporate/industrial complex in the history of the World.

The film received the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and raises important moral and ethical questions about the revolving door between our government and the defence contractor industry and the underlying economic decisions which influence U.S. policymakers to lead the nation into war.

Fair Use.
This video contains copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only in an effort to advance the understanding of human rights and social justice issues and is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law.

The manufacture of consent… is a revolution in the practice of democracy – Walter Lippman, “Public Opinion”, 1921.

Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent argues about mass media in America and their relation to culture, society and the existing power structure.

[Background]: Hegemony refers to predominance or the preponderant influence of one state over another. A ruling or elite class dominates at the level of ideas, thus undermining any consciousness of change.According to Antonio Gramsci;
hegemony accounts for why people are willing to find a niche in existing society rather than rebel in the manner predicted by Karl Marx.In America, these constraints are inherited in the following:

  1. from social structure, and
  2. in governmental organisation

— and together they discourage alternative strategies of action. In effect, people participate in their own domination. Media provide the information.]The video shows Chomsky’s guiding belief to be that a decent society should maximize human need for creative work — not treat people as cogs in a machine so that the power elite can maintain control, continue private ownership of public resources and increase profits — all the while managing media content (while preserving the myth of a free press).This deprives a community of what Walter Lippmann called;

“the means to detect lies.”

(Recall Postman’s quote in “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” Chapter 7).Real democracy, he believes, would be one in which people participate in the political decision-making and in related economic decisions.

Chomsky asserts that America has a system of indoctrination (including a system of propaganda imposed largely by media).

He believes that the hope lies with ordinary people and in the understanding that all changes in history have come because people build a foundation for change at the grassroots level.

Ordinary people are very capable of understanding the world, yet must work TOGETHER to get beyond the imposed information and strive to act in accordance with their own decent interests and develop independent minds. (Omnia Sunt Communia?)

Concision — Noam Chomsky’s concept describing how mainstream media content is structured so that it forces those with dissenting voices to limit scope of answers to brief thoughts and soundbites that fit easily between two TV ads

Regarding Thought Control in a Democratic Society

Chomsky makes these points:

  1. Propaganda is to democracy, what violence is to a dictatorship.
  2. Ordinary people have remarkable creativity.
  3. People have a fundamental need for creative work, which is not being met in systems where people are like cogs in a machine or, machine coding of a microprocessor.
  4. What would make more sense as a way to govern is a form of rationalist-libertarian socialism — not one that increasingly functions without public input. Chomsky advocates a system where a community and its members run things in a democratic fashion and whose people do not function as some sort of wage slaves.
  5. People need to be able to detect forms of authority and coercion and challenge those that are not legitimate.
  6. The major form of authority that needs challenging is the system of private control over public resources.
  7. The First Amendment means that democracy requires free access to ideas and opinions.
  8. Democracy in America is not functioning in an ideal sense but more in the sense that Lippmann noted in Public Opinion (where a specialised class of about 20 percent of the people — but who are also a target of propaganda — manages democratic functioning) and, in effect, are under control of a power elite, who more or less own the institutions. The masses of people (80 percent) are marginalised, diverted and controlled by what he calls Necessary Illusions.
  9. “Manufacturing consent” is related to the understanding that indoctrination is the essence of propaganda.
    In a “democratic” society indoctrination occurs when the techniques of control of a propaganda model are imposed — which means imposing “Necessary Illusions“.

    Chomsky’s “Propaganda Model” says;
    American media have “filters” — ownership, advertising, news makers, news shapers — which together emphasise institutional memory, limited debate and media content emphasising the interests of those in control.

Chomsky used a CASE STUDY of how American media covered two foreign atrocities, Cambodia and East Timor, to illustrate the propaganda model at work — mainstream media (New York Times was the example used) showed bias in favour of the status quo and power elites and did not covered both atrocities in the same manner, by paying extensive attention to the one (Cambodia 1975-79) and ignoring the other (East Timor 1975-79).

If media were not an instrument of propaganda, they would have covered each equally.When media news coverage of issues is biased in favour of the status quo, these are the results:

  1. ownership of media is held by major corporations with interests and goals similar to power elite elements of society
  2. people with different views, “dissenting voices,” are not heard much
  3. the breadth of debate is limited
  4. the official stance and institutional memory prevail and become history
  5. people’s interest and attention are often diverted away from issues about which they could become concerned

These attributes come to limit a society in part because mainstream mass media play their part by imposing what Chomsky calls Necessary Illusions, which make certain the masses of the populace won’t become curious and involved in the political process and will continue submitting to the “civil rule” of the power elite (maintaining the status quo) — thus,
the masses (80%) are marginalised and diverted while the political class (20% who vote and participate in democracy) are indoctrinated into the status quo.
This system is not a conspiracy but is a HEGEMONIC system of sorts, working with propaganda, wherein people do not get all the important information that may arouse that curiosity and prompt them to get involved and create changes.

Chomsky’s concept of NECESSARY ILLUSIONS is linked to power elites dominating how life happens, with part of the population — about 20% who make up the political class and are expected to participate as cultural managers in a limited fashion — are indoctrinated, and most people — the other 80% of the population — are marginalized, diverted from political awareness and participation in self-governing, and reduced to apathy so they don’t vote or take charge. Media are a tool of society’s power elites and owned and controlled by them and are used to impose those iIllusions that are Necessary to keep people diverted from the political process.
[David Hume asserted hundreds of years ago that the power always rests with the people but that they don’t act because they are oppressed or manipulated]

Thus, indoctrination of the political class and diversion of the masses make up the essence of the democracy practiced in the U.S. (Chomsky notes also that there is no correlation between the internal freedoms in a society and violent external behavior — and that all governments are ruthless to the extent that they are powerful.)

Major media (New York Times, Washington Post, TV networks, AP) shape our perception of the world by serving as Agenda Setters, Chomsky says.

Media allow some dissenting voices but marginalize them via constraints such as CONCISION, Chomsky’s concept saying in mainstream media content, ideas must be stated briefly so it can fill up the TV content between commercials or fit in the print media newshole). Thus, dissenting views are mostly disallowed because they take longer to explain and need more complete evidence.

Chomsky asserts that in order to break free, citizens must take two actions:

  1. They must seek out information from ALTERNATIVE MEDIA (media outside the mainstream and usually having a particular point of view)

  2. they must move toward change by becoming engaged in community action — because people can use their ordinary intelligence to make changes in their lives and communities. Grassroots movements begin there.

People can organize to begin grass roots momentum to bring about wider change — but Chomsky says people must realize soon that the world is not an infinite resource and an infinite garbage can. In these ways, people can fight society’s tendency to isolate them from collective action and activism.

Chomsky says it is “profoundly contemptuous of democracy” when the American political system has stage-managed elections and uses manipulation such as testing phrases to determine their likely effect on audiences.

Chomsky argues that people need to work to develop independent minds — maybe in part by forming COMMUNITY action groups with others with parallel interests and values, not in isolation, which is where the present system tends to keep people.

Chomsky says the present conventional MYTH is that individual material gain is praiseworthy. Instead, people must concern themselves with COMMUNITY INTERESTS [which now suggests the global community] — and that may mean a spiritual transformation to help people to conceive of themselves differently.

Chomsky argues that America and the world are in deep trouble and that
2 POSSIBILITIES EXIST regarding America’s future and the future for a global community held hostage:
1. The general population will take control of its own destiny
2. Or — there will be no destiny to control.

_______________

In Chomsky’s words concluding “Manufacturing Consent”:
“The question, in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided [as they have been until now]. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are … essential to survival.””The driving force of modern industrialized civilization has been individual material gain. It has long been understood that a society based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it is possible to pretend that the destructive forces humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, [and] is an infinite garbage can.

“At this stage of history, one of two things is possible: Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others, or alternativ ely there will be no destiny to control.

“As long as some specialized class is in position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interest it serves. But, the conditions of survival and justice require rational, special planning in the interest of the community of the whole (and by now that means the global community).

“The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely to impose NECESSARY ILLUSIONS to manipulate and deceive [whom THEY believe are] the stupid majority and remove them from the public arena. “The question, in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured; they may be essential to survival.”


So, Chomsky says, all states are violent to the extent they are powerful and that there is little correlation between internal “freedoms” in a society and violent external behaviour.The modern American industrial civilisation and the media system (which suggests a propaganda model) work because people don’t have the time to work and carry out the research to get the information necessary to create change.
But, the information is present.Chomsky says, he does not have the answers but we should consider moving toward some sort of libertarian-socialist democracy in which our economic institutions would be run by the people. He suggests this as an anarcho-syndicalist model. In this way, we would end private control over public resources – which are finite.To achieve change AND OVERCOME THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PROPAGANDA MODEL, Chomsky says, we need to rely in part on activism and alternative media.We must develop means of intellectual self-defense.
We must develop independent minds.
We need to review a wide range of press (or do so in conjunction with others), including alternative media — and work at the community level in organisations that may have different focuses but that have similar values.
We must become human participants in our social and political system and work to make a difference.Given full information, ordinary people acting on their best impulse can govern themselves.


Note: Chomsky’s ideas that touch on solutions such as alternative media sources, collective action, media literacy, and use of the intellect have similarity to solutions offered by Media Education Foundation videos.

Please share widely, people need to know what is being done by U.K military in your name.

Britain’s Seven Covert Wars

Published in the Huffington Post, 18 October 2016 by Mark Curtis

Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars. To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.

Syria

Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mounting hit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.

British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015.

These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.

UK pilots embedded with coalition allies’ forces have been conducting air strikes over Syria against the Islamic State group, it has emerged.
This is despite UK MPs voting in 2013 against military action in Syria.
About 20 personnel, including three pilots, have been embedded with other coalition nations’ forces, including the US and Canada

Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.

Iraq

Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.

British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.

Libya

SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedly fighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata.

But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar.

In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.

Yemen

The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’.

In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.

Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’.

One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.

The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.

A secret ‘memorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters.

The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.

In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.

Pakistan and Somalia

Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providing ‘locational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.

The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders.

This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.

Drones

The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.

The Gulf

Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.

Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf.

These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.

The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.

Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.

Kenya and Turkey

Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East.

Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.

The web of deceit

When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is;

‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’.

This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.

Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon toldMPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.

There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.

British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public.

This is the very definition of dictatorship.

Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region.

Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.


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