Monday, May 23, 2005

Conspiracy Theory
Apart from being a second-rate film staring Mel Gibson, conspiracy theory is the term applied to any thinking about manipulation outside the normal bounds of discourse. Now some theories are worthy of the derision this label provokes - such a David Ikes ratings or L Ron Hubbard's BS about aliens in Dianetics. In any case here is a top post on that details one such theory:
Astute observers of history are aware that for every notable event there will usually be at least one ,often several wild conspiracy theories which spring up around it. "The CIA killed Hendrix" " The Pope had John Lennon murdered ", "Hitler was half Werewolf", "Space aliens replaced Nixon with a clone" etc,etc. The bigger the event, the more ridiculous and more numerous are the fanciful rantings which circulate in relation to it.

So its hardly surprising that the events of Sept 11 2001 have spawned their fair share of these ludicrous fairy tales. And as always, there is - sadly - a small but gullible percentage of the population eager to lap up these tall tales, regardless of facts or rational analysis.

One of the wilder stories circulating about Sept 11, and one that has attracted something of a cult following amongst conspiracy buffs is that it was carried out by 19 fanatical Arab hijackers, masterminded by an evil genius named Osama bin Laden, with no apparent motivation other than that they "hate our freedoms...."

Friday, May 20, 2005

Allied Torture
More of the allied torture reports keep comming out; The US Army’s report into prisoner ‘abuse’ in Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan makes very stomach-churning reading....In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.....In some instances, testimony shows, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards. Sometimes, the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both....Yet the Bagram file includes ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity.

This is sooooooooooooo fuck up. This is not democracy in any form. Its imperialism writ small. Good on Galloway for standing up to this bullshit.

Monday, May 16, 2005

SNAFU: War on Drugs
When we finally come to look at the The War on Terror (TM) through the rear-view mirror, it will look similar to the War on Drugs. By this I mean an unwinable battle for control with little relation to its grand aims stated by the spin. For this we can look at the failure of Plan Colombia, the failed US plan to halt cocoa growing in Colombia, and on the way aid the extraction of oil and kill left-wing fighters, human-rights activists etc. Check this: "Washington’s 'war on drugs' in Colombia is collapsing in chaos and corruption, and the drug producers are winning." Funny, huh? It gets funnier...."On 1 January 2004 US satellite pictures showed that 281,323 acres in Colombia were under coca. The target was to reduce that area by half, so nearly 340,000 acres were sprayed with poison. But in vain. In January, the acreage of coca bushes had increased slightly to 281,694 acres..." And as if that was not enough, "...Drug profits have also corrupted US troops stationed in Colombia. This month a US Green Beret lieutenant-colonel and a sergeant were caught selling 32,900 rounds of ammunition to the right-wing death squads who are flush with drug profits..In March, five US soldiers – supposedly training local troops in anti-guerrilla and anti-narcotics techniques – were arrested after 16 kilos of cocaine were found in the aircraft taking them from a military base in southern Colombia back to the US."

(Guess who the company is who makes this toxic spray? Monsanto! The same people who brought you Agent Orange and GM crops. Yay!)

The War on Drugs is the classic global-2-local issue. The cocaine from over there will end up being sold on the streets here. Its a war whose battle-lines extend from the FARC to BSDS. It is worth noting that Bristol has a strong and active Colombia solidarity effort, they do lots of good work and deserve support for their efforts.

The drug war is one war we are all involved in fighting, its just that the state is not interested in winning it, just in escalation for its own reasons.

PS. SNAFU means 'Situation Normal: All Fucked Up'

Monday, May 09, 2005

More on Torture
This stuff just keeps comming! This from Observer/GNN : An American soldier has revealed shocking new details of abuse and sexual torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay in the first high-profile whistleblowing account to emerge from inside the top-secret base....In an exclusive interview, Saar told The Observer that prisoners were physically assaulted by 'snatch squads' and subjected to sexual interrogation techniques and that the Geneva Conventions were deliberately ignored by the US military."

The article is INSANE! Check this bit: "Saar also describes the 'snatch teams', known as the Initial Reaction Force (IRF), who remove uncooperative prisoners from their cells....In a training session for an IRF team, one US soldier posing as a prisoner was beaten so badly that he suffered brain damage. It is believed the IRF team had not been told the 'detainee' was a soldier."

FFS! If you voted Neo-Labour - You voted for this!
Post-Election Notes
I did not get round to writing something about the elections before the event. I did vote, holding my nose while I did so, tactically to punish Labour and in the ward I live in it seems to have worked with Lib Dems ousting Labour. I was also heartened by Galloway's massive win in London. Given the undemocratic system we have, this was a massive win for a very anti-establishment figure who has been hammered relentlessly by the press and smeared left-right-and-center. Sure, he sat down with Saddam, and that sucks, but he did so trying to do something – anything - about the estimated HALF A MILLION Iraq children who were murdered by the sanctions regime. The powers-that-be may think that was a price worth paying, but I don’t and I guess he did not too. I don’t agree with him on everything, far from it, but in these dark days, I guess we have to take the good news where we can find it.

Plus in the Ashley ward the Greens got 22% of the vote. All this occludes the fact that the representative democracy we have is far from democratic. The average is one MP per 144,000 people. How can 1 person represent the views of 144,000 people? Just not possible. It’s a system designed by those in power to perpetuate power in the hands of the few. What do I think about western democracy? To paraphrase Gandi, it would be a good idea.

During the election I got in a row with a gaggle of Labour canvassers in my street and the war, obviously, came up as a topic. Their point was that Labour made good of a bad situation. My point is that we are standing shoulder-to-shoulder (and paying through the nose) for an illegal occupation as part of a geo-strategic policy of resource control that is corrupting us all by association. I have written before about the lack of any morality in the venture:

Seymour Hersh: "I can tell you it was much worse. There are worse photos, worse events....some of the worse things that happened you don't know about.....The women were passing messages out saying 'please come and kill me' because of what's happened, basically what happened is those women who were arrested with young boys, children, the boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, the worse above all of them is the sound track of the boys shrieking. That your government has...."

Empire Notes: "...other soldier said in January 2004 that troops poured water and smeared mud on the detained 17-year-old son of an Iraqi general and "broke" the general by letting him watch his son shiver in the cold."

And now Robert Fisk adds his voice to all this: "Two years after Mission Accomplished, whatever moral stature the United States could claim at the end of its invasion of Iraq has long ago been squandered in the torture and abuse and deaths at Abu Ghraib. That the symbol of Saddam Hussein's brutality should have been turned by his own enemies into the symbol of their own brutality is a singularly ironic epitaph for the whole Iraq adventure."

Shoulder-to-shoulder to with rapists, child torturers and killers. Nice. The Fisk article in the independent goes on to conclude with a chilling reminder that there exist several detention centers in Iraq where even the Red Cross are not allowed, if such brutality and violence exists where we do know, what the fuck is going on where nobody can see?

That was not the only point that came up in my discussion with the Neo-Labour people. Privatization also came up. Their point was that PFI/PPP and all that were Labors way of investing in social provision without the City getting funny about them increasing borrowing. They were saying this little bit of clever financial jiggery-pokery was their way of doing socialism under the nose of the bankers. What?!! Even if you ignore the fact that this policy fits with the GATS agenda from the World Trade organization, endorsed by Neo-Labour. They were asking me to believe that Tony and his cronies had pulled the wool over the eyes of people like Murdoch, while a lowly foot-solider of the party could be in-on the plan. Cmon people! Murdoch may be many things, but when it comes to money – he knows the score. I asked about the example of Packers Field – the transfer of public land to private hands – how did this fit the hidden social agenda. They said they did not know anything about that example. Funny, that.