A legacy of death and dying

on a fateful day, in 2007 I quite vividly recall listening to a teacher at my school tell the class of her happiness at the fact that America had chosen, to her mind, the correct president in the person of Barrack Obama and had avoided four more years of the same under a McCain presidency. The four more years of the same she referred to in this was the torturous primacy of George W Bush who in his time did his level best during his time in office to steer his country away from the enlightened vision of its forefathers towards a nation with nothing short of a Stalinist embrace of its citizens and its enemies. I would openly confess that at that point in time I too felt a very similar emotion to my teacher, having always maintained an interest in world affairs I genuinely believed that with Bush gone and Obama in office that what we would see in his presidency would be a refreshingly new approach to politics. How naive I was. Albeit, my country has never been bombed by the US or had US agents destabilise/overthrow my government so it always remained easier for me to accept that the USA could be a force for good than it would be for an Iraqi refugee or Palestinian trapped in the warzones of Gaza, but none the less I was naive in assuming that all it would take to change the destructive imperialist agenda that the USA has followed since the times of Jefferson was one man. This being said, I will openly suggest that I feel that none of us could have predicted how far from the tree this particular apple would fall. Considering the rhetoric of the campaign I feel we have never before seen such a betrayal of principles by any individual who has walked the gilded halls of Washington. In this post I intend to cover the key issues which are often cited for why George Bush’s presidency was maligned by people all over the world and then I aim to compare it to that of Obama and arguably show how little has changed for the better and that actually in many ways things have only gotten worse.

First on the list of George W Bush’s crimes during his time in office would inevitably be his two ill-informed and disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and later Iraq. Two more short-sighted examples of foreign policy I cannot think of unless pushed hard on the topic. To be fair to the planners of these acts, in both cases the invasions in a strictly military sense were a success but then it seems the planning for any eventuality went out the window. Like a football team who scores two early goals in every match they play but then concede fifteen the USA and its allies in both cases found themselves fighting a running battle  against a variety of forces that they were too ill equipped and too ill informed to ever win against. For example in Iraq after the initial invasion had ended and just as the occupation was getting under way, large crowds looted and torched much of the former Baathist government’s ministry buildings and no effort was made to prevent this riotous behaviour. Oh wait, some effort was made – but only to prevent any damage happening to any of the ministry buildings that were related in any way to the production of oil. In allowing this destruction of much of Baghdad’s infrastructure the coalition authorities demonstrated in a quite blatant manner their utter disregard for the safety and livelihood of Iraqi civilians. In coming years who knows how many lives that were lost to a Cholera epidemic in 2007 could have been saved if armed gangs had not been allowed to loot and burn down the health ministries. Ultimately both the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq had far more negative outcomes than positive ones for them to ever be recorded in a entirely positive light and it is largely due to GW Bush and his administration that both of these invasions were such catastrophic failures with each invasion focussing on the minutiae of capturing one figurehead individual while neglecting to ensure that the populations of the countries US forces were riding roughshod over were happy with what was being done in their name.

Next on the list of crimes that were committed with oversight by GW Bush was the massive infringement of civil liberties conducted by US intelligience agencies in the name of the War on Terror. As Glenn Greenwald at the guardian says in an article discussing the civil liberties records of US presidents:

Bush seized on the 9/11 attack to usher in radical new surveillance and detention powers in the PATRIOT ACT, spied for years on the communications of US citizens without the warrants required by law, and claimed the power to indefinitely imprison even US citizens without charges in military brigs.

Such a concerted effort to eradicate civil liberties that the founding fathers strove to define and enshrine in the constitution at the time shocked and horrified many commentators and with good reason really. The programme of extraordinary rendition through which people suspected of terrorism were kidnapped and tortured in nations friendly with the US was one of the most flagrant abuses of international norms and law that I can conceive of. The same can be said about the willingness with which the Bush administration accepted the daily abuses of privacy that were abetted by the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11. Surely the greatest show of strength in the fact of hatred that the US could have demonstrated in the wake of the single worst terrorist attack in history would have been to show that even in possibly the nations lowest moment that the government were still unwilling to violate the principles of personal privacy. But ultimately, the Bush administration danced according to the tune of the terrorists and reacted by demonstrating just how contemptible Western democracies can be in times of crisis putting the lie to their claims of superiority over the theocracies and autocracies of the developing world.

The third charge that would likely also stick were it to be levelled at George W Bush in a court of law would be the use of torture in an attempt to extract confessions and intelligence from those who had already been treated illegally in either being kidnapped and illegally rendered across international borders or as a result of detention on often highly dubious grounds for endless amounts of time. That the victims of torture in Bagram, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib were already victims of crimes committed by US forces does not however remove the later stain on the US of subjecting these individuals to torture. Such behaviour  and the frequency with which it was committed by the supposed “leaders of the free world” demonstrates how hollow such a title is and how much respect it should actually command in hindsight. To kill an innocent in a war is certainly an objective evil, but there is an argument to be heard that suggests torture is worse as the innocent must then live with the harrowing memory of being made to fear for their physical and mental health for the rest of their lives. And I genuinely feel that this argument holds some weight in light of the fact that often torturers simply extract lies from their victims who in sheer desperation will put their name to anything they are told to in an effort to stop their suffering and this is commonly known. It does take a special time of criminal to authorise such behaviour with the full knowledge that the likely outcomes will be of no use, and Bush certainly fits the mould. The exact same point about it taking a special kind of criminal to commit these crimes, can be raised about Bush’s rolling back of personal liberty and his invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan too.

The reality, however, is that in reality the current president of the USA, Barrack Obama is guilty of two of the exact same crimes his predecesor, Bush, and arguably guilty of a worse third crime than Bush which would on the surface suggest that actually the Nobel Peace Prize winner is worse than Bush. Who would have though it ?

The first crime of launching questionable military interventions is certainly one Obama is guilty of, and much like Bush the end result doesn’t look very promising with the paint (metaphorically speaking) likely to run a little further before setting. The intervention which Obama championed was the lending of NATO air support to the Libyan rebels to help oust Muammar Gadaffi from power. Seemingly caught up by public and political sentiment that something should be done to support at least one nation in the “Arab Spring” uprisings and not wanting to overthrow one of his own Middle Eastern pawns considering the amount of money that has been poured into their pockets over the year, Libya was the unlucky nation to suffer the consequences of America’s attention. Much the same as in the case of the Afghanistan invasion , and almost identically to the Iraq invasion, the end result of intervention was demonstrably not thought out. The result being that a once relatively isolated/isolationist African nation is now a lawless war zone in which Islamist militias have monopolized power and control large swathes of the country and perhaps more alarmingly also hold large stockpiles of arms and munitions which if history repeats itself, as it is wont to do, will end up in the hands of whoever we fight in ten to fifteen years time. Of course, things might turn out just fine in Libya but the conflict has been officially over for more than a year and there is no end in sight of the lawlessness which grips much of the country and the parallels between the state of Afghanistan after its civil war and Libya as things stand is notable. So, on the first charge Bush’s crime will rank in the annals of history as the worst being as he went all out and invaded two countries as opposed to Obama’s one although there are the best part of three and half years left yet for Obama to fuck that one up.

On the second charge of restricting right and civil liberties within the USA itself, Obama, for a candidate who preached at length about open transparent government in his early campaigns and ultimately was carried to the white house on the back of the successes of the Civil Rights movement has a lot to answer for. While the getting involved in military interventions in another countries civil war struck me as a betrayal of all the Obama claimed to stand for during his election campaign, it is his attack on the rights that most people consider inalienable that must surprise most of all. The first demonstrable way in which Obama has betrayed those who voted for him is his failure to close Guantanamo Bay and end the abuses of human rights that have taken place daily there since its inception under Bush. Amongst the crimes that Guantanamo represents are torture and detention without anything like sufficient proof of guilt and often not even credible suspicion. The legacy of that site was one of the biggest blots on the Bush administration legacy and Obama’s inability or unwillingness to close down the facility there will certainly form one of the biggest blots on his presidential story. A further violation of the campaign rhetoric of open government would be the unfolding drama of the NSA’s massive spying operation in which seemingly almost every american has been spied upon and monitored without specific warrants which I won’t comment on much more than this as the depth of this crime is still only partly apparent as things stand. Needless to say that a crime of such scale really is Stalinist in its style and

The third and final charge which I think really is the deal breaker in demonstrating how Obama is measurably worse than Bush is his use of drone warfare both as means of repression both against american citizens in the wrong place at the wrong time and against poor brown people seemingly wherever he can find them. The move away from “boots on the ground” was something that Obama promised and so on that front, if literally no other, credit is due. However at no point in his run up to election did he ever make it clear that his intention was to remove one deadly force only to replace it with another equally deadly force which if possible is even less indiscriminate in its killing of non-combatants. The usage of drones which while not as directly comparable as the infringement of civil liberties and invasions of other countries was worth my raising as an issue for one reason. namely, that since taking office, Obama has already had more people extra-judicially executed with these weapons than were ever tortured under Bush’s orders during his entire presidency. This fact in itself is frightening when you take into account the tremendously positive light in which Obama is portrayed by comparison to the presentation of Bush jr throughout his presidency. However when you consider that Obama is not a full year into his second term yet, then the cogs should really start to whirr with the thought of how many more will likely die in later years. It must also be taken into account that many of the grievances that are often cited by the self same “islamic” terrorists that drones are supposedly utilised against involve grievances with the US army and its practices in the Middle East. While there are many reasons for grievances to be raised against the US armed forces, there are on balance probably several redeeming features which members of the armed forces have, Drones however can surely never have a redeeming feature as they simply kill and so the question must be asked as to simply how long it will be before this chicken comes home to roost and whenever that does happen we can already establish a chain of causation that leads directly to Obama’s trigger finger.

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When they’re good they’re really good and when they’re bad they’re really bad

This week I intend to illuminate one of the Western political world’s most blatant double standards when it comes to geo-political issues. The issue in question is the relationships that Western nations have with theocratic governments around the world. When I say Theocracy of course, I assume that many readers who happen to live in “Western” nations, through ceaseless discussion in the media and in political spheres, have come to understand Iran as an encapsulating the notion of a theocracy, but how we view several other Middle Eastern nations with almost identical governments is a little more questionable. In the process of discussing how the current state of affairs came to be I will inevitably dip into the history of how theocracy in its current form came to be a popular movement in the world and will doubtless come to speculate on the dangers posed by all theocracies in the near future.

The history of theocracy as we understand it, certainly in the middle east, began during the earliest phases of the Cold War in Iran. The year was 1951 and the starting gun that sounded which began theocratic movements was the policy of the then Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, to nationalise Iranian oil production, in the process depriving British oil companies of funds they felt they were entitled to.

After Mossadegh’s movement towards nationalising the countries oil resources was initially ratified in the Hague as a legal action, a clandestine movement began to overthrow Mossadegh and re-instate the Shah (the traditional leader of the country) in a supreme position of power. The clandestine movement to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran was, you’ve guessed it, initiated by an organisation who’s raison d’être was seemingly the planning of hair-brained coups, the CIA. In a bizarre twist however to the usual story of CIA ineptitude, the coup was actually a success and in place of Mossadegh now sat the dictatorial Shah Reza Pahlavi. What followed was a prolonged attempt by a western backed secular dictator to modernise Iran along Western lines which proved highly unpopular with many aspects of Iranian society. Whether the reason for the unpopularity of the modernisation programme was the break neck pace at which the Shah’s reforms were due to take place or whether it was the repressive way in which the Shah dealt with any who dissented against his rule, from both left and right of the political spectrum, we will never know exactly and will simply have to remain content to know that generally speaking the regimes movements were highly unpopular. After 25 years on the throne, the damn finally burst and a massive wave of protest, headed to some degree by religious movements as one of the most repressed social group under the Shah’s secular rule, deposed the Shah and seized control of Iran. After the revolution had successfully disposed of the former government, a vote was held and Iran officially became an Islamic republic and the worlds first theocracy as we currently understand the term. It is important that I point out here that the action which started this whole chain of events was not some innate love on the part of Iranians or by further extension, Muslims for governments based on their religion of choice, it was the imperialistic actions of dying empire trying to ensure that it could first of all, continue to plunder mineral wealth from the developing world and secondly, to prevent a government that had its own peoples interests at heart “going over” to communism. It was these two rationales that informed the British and American decision to re-impose an unpopular leader on the Iranian people who eventually coalesced around religion in defiance of the Shah. Politicians here can offer endless platitudes about the “evil” that the Iranian clerics and Hezbollah represent all they want, but they must never be allowed to forget that it was the West’s meddling hands that directly created the environments in which such movements and peoples developed.

The story however did not end there. After the Iranian revolution had successfully purged itself of the last vestiges of the Shah’s regime, genuine fears were expressed throughout the west that much like the French revolution before it that the revolution would spread and overthrow more Western allies in the process. Adding to these concerns, in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of the Shah a crisis of sorts developed between the USA and Iran as armed groups stormed the American embassy in Tehran in search of documents which proved that the CIA had been directly involved in the overthrow of Mossadegh in the 1953 coup. It as this point in time that the seeds of mutual distrust and discord were sowed in both the USA and Iran and goes some way towards explaining how relationships between the two nations have remained so poor over the years. Further adding to the strained relationship between the West and Iran was a period, where during a protracted mutual antagonism between Iran and Iraq, many Western nations flooded neighbouring Iraq with weapons to prevent the spread of an Iranian style theocracy to another critical nation in the chain of oil supply.  This flow of weapons and support for Saddam Hussein likely lengthened the conflict much past the initial battles, to the point where in the end the war between Iran and Iraq lasted 8 long years with thousands butchered mindlessly for no major gain to either country. Alongside arming the neighbouring dictator, the Western world also engaged in a more subtle form of conflict with Iran in the form of economic blockades in an attempt to get Iran to play along with Western economic interests, economic blockades which have pretty much been a constant reality of life in Iran ever since with sanctions taking the place of the blockade in recent years. While the West intended through both of the above measures to subject Iran and principally the Iranian clerics to a position of economic and political inferiority, arguably both measures helped to cement the religio-nationalist movement in its position of power which it continues to hold unto this day.

During the same time period, events were afoot in neighbouring Afghanistan which eventually lead to the foundation of a theocratic government there. At this time, Afghanistan had recently undergone a revolution of its own, which unlike the Iranian one moved away from religion and towards a far more socialist approach to government. As the Saur revolution swept to power it became closely linked with the Soviet Union, who of course were happy to have another state on their Christmas card list, which only extended really to nations who cited Marx as a basis for their constitutions. Anyway, from the moment that a socialism-inclined government came to power and developed ties with Moscow, the loving care bear peace president of the United States Jimmy Carter signed directives to begin covert support for anti-government movements in Kabul. Eventually things came to a head when American and Pakistani backed Islamist militants, who were angry with government attempts to secularize the country, attempted to overthrow the Afghan government, which precipitated a greater period of instability throughout the country. Eventually the Soviet Union intervened in the conflict in an attempt to prop up the socialist government against a broad insurgency which among other elements had a strong religious backing. Anyone with a basic grounding in history knows what happened next now that the Soviet Union had become involved in the conflict, in the usual petty tit for tat that both superpowers waged throughout the Cold War, the USA started giving masses of military and financial aid to a plethora of insurgent groups which did eventually push the Soviet Union out of the country but in the process massively destabilised the country setting the stage for a hard-line religious government to capitalise on the anarchy that was widespread across the whole country at this point in time .

At this point in time I would take care to point out that in both the cases of Iran and Afghanistan prior to the coming to power of theocratic governments, what we can see is western political ideologies creating a vacuum which in both cases a reactionary religious movement has filled. In the case of Iran, to ensure the continuing supply of oil for the Western consumer markets, such market minded capitalism lead to a staged coup which ousted a democratically elected leader and replaced him with a widely hated monarch who however was willing to continue to perpetuate Iran’s economic subservience to Western nations. In Afghanistan we saw a European style socialist government attempt to modernise and secularize the country along the same lines as had been done by the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc nations which led to much popular resentment of the government among the people of the country and later, when the USA and USSR we saw later day imperialism ruin the country and create a lawless state where the rule of the strong would be the only thing capable of maintaining order. These facts demonstrate a clear line of causation between the actions of the West, that is both schools of Western thought – capitalism and communism, and the type of governments that later formed there. The racist rhetoric of the media who assume that somehow that there is an innate love of religious government amongst Muslims is nonsensical and we would do well to begin viewing the situation as it really is with religious governments simply being just one possible option that people who find themselves in desperate situations can turn towards to lead them.

While these two rather well known cases of theocracies were developing however, other nations in the world were also steadily moving towards a theocratic government of sorts under the radar and continue to do so. The countries in question are Israel and the Gulf Arab nations, with the main example being Saudi Arabia. It is true that neither of the two nations I have just named are true theocracies in the dictionary sense of the word defining a theocracy as a “system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god.” The above being true though, does not change the fact that both of the nations I mentioned above are nations were God is taken as the ultimate source of the constitution and the laws by which citizens live their lives. Saudi Arabia’s monarchy rule over a nation which is a theocracy in all but name and has been since the day it was first formed from the remnant states left after the Ottoman retreat in the First World War 1. The kingdom is not only a theocracy, but it is a theocracy of the type that gives atheists and secularists nightmares, with many of its laws based upon the most literal translation of thousands of year old texts which advocate many things which of course upset modern sensibilities. The problem with this as a practice, in my opinion at least, is that the laws were never defined by a wide political consensus but based upon the interpretations of holy texts by Religious and Political elites who naturally are inclined towards only creating laws that maintain their elite positions within society. I’m sure for example a majority of Saudi’s would likely feel less offended by adultery or women driving, than the clerics who enforce such laws which have been used to effectively terrorise the people into a miserable state of submission to the state. Of course were the truth of the matter that a wide array of Saudi’s had agreed upon the inclusion of such laws in their constitution then while it would admittedly still gall me then at least democracy had been practised but the theocratic practices of the Saudi monarchy are enforced from the top down with religion not only being a means of finding spiritual peace, as intended, but also a means for the elite to utilise in controlling the people, surely never the intention of any prophet.

In the case of Israel , we have a state which on the surface is even less of a theocracy than any of the three nations I have mentioned above and yet there are many unresolved issues with the country, several of which revolve around the place of religion in society. Central amongst the issues for both religious Zionists and for Palestinian Muslims and Christians that live within the borders of Israel proper is that Israel does not have a written constitution. The problem with a presumptive constitution is that it will inevitably lead to calls for the drafting and creation of a written constitution in the name of simplicity, and it is this drive by many for a written constitution to codify the laws that would govern the state of Israel that is the problem as the question is pondered as to whether the state of Israel is the state of all those within its borders or whether it is Jewish state exclusively for it’s Jewish citizens. This perhaps seems less repugnant to many in the West for example by comparison to the mandatory wearing of a headscarf but when we really get down to pondering the implications of the Israeli state defining itself as a Jewish state then they are just as horrifying. Dying with cancer and in urgent need of treatment to prevent death ? Wait your a Palestinian of the Shia branch of Islam, Sorry no space for you. Nearest school for you children to attend is just a mile down the road ? Sorry, if your a Palestinian Christian then the nearest school for your kids is ten miles away in a run down area of town. Want to keep your business open all day Saturday ? Sorry, Saturday is a holy day that all must observe whether they are religious or not. All of the above scenarios might seem a little far fetched but Israel already has a pitiably poor record when it comes to minority rights and it is entirely possible that, if the state of Israel was officially codified in writing as a Jewish state for its Jewish citizens, it would take this definition of itself to its logical conclusion by depriving anyone not of Jewish ancestry of valuable services and facilities.

When we look at countries where religion does play such a fundamental part as the basis of the laws by which society lives it is notable that the West has a very chequered record on this issue with certain theocracies being bad yet others being critical allies. On reflection, I feel Iran was simply unlucky when it became the first true theocracy in the current era in that it came to represent a powerful new political idea that to some degree helped a faltering nation in regaining much pride in itself by standing up to those who would have seen it subjected to their own political and economic interests and priorities. The success and totality with which the Iranian revolution overturned the existing natural order in one of the Middle East’s largest and arguably at the time most powerful nations undoubtedly scared many in the West whose economic and industrial and even cultural strengths to some degree were based almost entirely on access to cheap oil by which to export their goods to world markets and import the raw materials. Oil that is, that primarily came from other Middle Eastern countries  were now the West was worried similar revolutions might sweep to power and give rise to more nations that were willing to stand up to the neo-imperialist economic subjugation of their countries.

And this, as almost no ever says, is were it all went wrong. In true Western style, the nations of the West fed on a diet of poor quality intelligence and their own racist paranoia decided to embrace several other countries who were equally theocratic in nature and turn a blind eye to their barbarity which certainly in the cases of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan was as bad if not worse that of Iran. In signing this compact with devil the West demonstrated its blatant double standards on moral issues when profits are concerned and must have further reduced its own standing as an entity in the eyes of those that found themselves in countries were their rights were now being abused by corrupt elites in the name of a fundamentalist interpretation of their religion.

If the reader was left unsure by arguments offered above then I simply would ask them to consider the case of Syria, were the West is openly engaged currently in verbally antagonising a secular regime, which has always strived to negate sectarian conflict in its ethnically diverse territotry, and materially supporting some seriously unsavoury characters in their war with the Syrian Army. The reason for this you ask ? Well, the Syrian government is supported by the main bad theocracy, Iran, which we want to replace with a group of extremists who will likely replicate the hell hole that was southern Afghanistan under the Taliban, and the reason we support these groups ? Simply because they represent the interests of and are supported by the good theocracies as exampled by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The line of succession

I will begin with a a warning that this post might not be as topical as the usual material I put out and a little more speculative but I feel the need to stake my claim on this topic. The topic I intend to discuss below are the candidates I feel might make the cut as the next potential president of the United States. In discussing those candidates who I feel might have any chance of claiming the crown for themselves I will inevitably touch on some of the keystone topics that will define the electoral battleground within the USA and outside of it. I’m not quite willing to place a bet as to who the actual president will be just quite yet and for good reason, if the GOP nomination/candidates is/are anywhere near as farcical as last time round then my suggestions for that parties candidate might all be blown out of the water so I’m holding off on that one for now. Without further ado, read on to find my pick of those who I feel might make the team and why.

Democratic Party

Democratic Party

  1. Hillary Clinton – I’ll begin by saying that if I am a little dubious as to whether Clinton will stand at all with her having declined to pursue another term as Secretary of State. However there are factors on the other side of the weighing scale that lead me to believe that if she were to run that she would almost certainly gain the nomination of her party having come so close last time around and would certainly be a plausible candidate for President. Having left the State Department with high approval ratings and (moderately) successfully guided her department through a period of intense change on the world stage with regards the Arab Spring, Clinton has certainly demonstrated her competency in high office and her work while she was the First Lady with charitable initiatives would seem to suggest a keen awareness of political issues within the US itself. I also feel that a critical element that would aid Clinton if she did decide to run is that as well as being tremendously popular herself, she is also a part of a remarkably popular political family with a great deal of experience in running very smooth campaigns. All of the above being true there are a few issues that might hamper a Clinton campaign. Chief amongst the issues that harm Clinton’s potential candidacy is her involvement in some very shady financial dealings that have previously tarnished the family image almost as much as the activities of the philanderer in chief. While Clinton was never charged of wrongdoing over Whitewater or Cattle Futures, even the merest hint or allegation of corruption has previously proved enough to scupper a candidacy. Besides these issues though, I feel Clinton stands a good chance if she does come out of her semi-retirement and on reflection I am lead to wonder if perhaps the decision to not serve a second term as Secretary of State was a shrewd move to avoid any flack for poor decisions damaging an otherwise credible candidacy.

    perhaps one day she really will ...

    perhaps one day she really will …

  2. Joe Biden – Another member of Obama’s cabinet with a decent shot at the presidency if he were to run.  Biden has demonstrated a consistent support for his president and has arguably been a big help to Obama’s policy initiatives with for example, Obama leaving Biden in charge of drafting  a bill to go before congress in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, perhaps in doing so, acknowledging that in the increasingly partisan political atmosphere of US politics, Biden is seen as less toxic than had the suggestions come straight from Obama. Biden also played a critical part in ensuring that to some degree financial meltdown was avoided (albeit narrowly) in the 2011 debt ceiling debacle and the 2012 fiscal cliff fuck up through his good relationships with significant figures within the Republican Party. Biden has also been a strong supporter of the current administrations policy on equal rights and gay marriage which might make him the stand out candidate for LGBT voters in an age where said demographic is increasingly important and politicised. There are, like with Clinton, an issue that might prove to derail a potential Biden candidacy which is simply – his age. While he has demonstrated his ability and determination in repeatedly hitting the road in support of Obama, I do wonder whether 8 years of doing so will have seriously tired the man out, more so when we consider that if he were to run he would be 73 by the time the election season began.
Having attempted to run for the presidency twice already, I wonder if for Biden the third time might just hit the mark.

Having attempted to run for the presidency twice already, I wonder if for Biden the third time might just hit the mark.

3. Rahm Emanuel – A little bit of wildcard here admittedly but based on the continuing outlook of the Middle East as things stand, with Syria sinking further into out and out chaos, Turkey looking like its heading straight for a change of government if Erdogan doesn’t start to learn the lessons of the Arab Spring fast and Jordan and some of the gulf monarchies looking ready to crumble, I feel a potential president with a strong grounding in foreign policy as a result of his affiliation with Israel might be a strong bet. Whether the US is ready for a Jewish president is open to debate, but then so was the question of whether America was ready for a black president in 2008. And ultimately unlike other minority communities who hav to some degree been marginalized in political debate throughout the country as a group, Jews in the US do represent an effective pressure group and arguably exert a disproportionate amount of influence considering the size of the community. Who knows, maybe if the world political climate is right then Rahm Emanuel might just get the top job.

220px-Rahm_Emanuel,_official_photo_portrait_color

Maybe Chicago’s first Jewish mayor will become the countries first Jewish president.

Republican Party.

Republican Party.

  1. Marco Rubio – We have here the shoe-in GOP candidate for 2016 I fancy with the Republicans perhaps finally learning the lessons of the past that just aiming at attracting the votes of  Christian, white, middle America isn’t going to cut it any more and that if they are to ever claim the highest office for themselves again that they need to widen their appeal. Arguably the most critical group which both parties will focus on in the years to come is Latino voters who have had something of a demographic explosion in recent years. With these facts borne in mind then it is perhaps easy to see why Rubio might just be the man for the job in some peoples eyes. His approval ratings are high and he’s tremendously popular in his home state, and on perhaps the cherry on top of this all is that he is seen as something of a crown prince of the Tea Party movement and any candidate that can hold appeal to such a disparate bunch of lunatics is certainly doing something right. Rubio is also young enough that it might be plausible for me to suggest that he would appeal to younger voters outside of the traditional GOP strongholds who have been faced in the last two elections with a candidate that looks like they might have been born in the last ice age. There are some issues that might hamstring Rubio’s candidacy if he does stand and these basically revolve around republican supporters. Rubio has previously supported (relatively) liberal policies on the topic of immigration and citizenship which might stick in the craw of some of the more simian republican voters, despite the increasing likelihood that the type of policies Rubio has supported previously will soon become law in some form or another.

    Perhaps 2016 will see another racial barrier in the US broken down with the election of a Latino president.

    Perhaps 2016 will see another racial barrier in the US broken down with the election of a Latino president.

  2. Chris Christie – My personal favourite for the GOP candidacy if nothing else is New Jersey’s governor. There are many reasons why I believe Chris Christie is a credible candidate for the presidency, certainly when we take into account some of the pituary morons that GOP wheeled out last time around. First of all, Christie has demonstrated a clear distaste for the partisan political wrangling that slows up much needed iniatives passing through DC. When I say that Christie has demonstrated a clear distaste for the partisan politics of national government I am perhaps lowballing the situation a little, when Christie went on record in front of the media in quite vigorously denouncing the house majority and speaker John Boehner for failing to pass legislation that would have helped victims of Hurricane Sandy. Such words demonstrate that if Christie were to make it to the White House that we might expect a far more pro-active government with far less time spent arguing over minor details in the houses of gvoernment, something we have unfortunately seen far too much of since Obama reached high office. Christie has a relatively moderate approach to many issues, and when this is taken into account alongside his carefully cultivated attempt to appear post-partisan then we are perhaps looking at a future president who realises that for GOP success lies in attracting wavering Democrats to cross the floor as opposed to pandering to the more right wing fanatics within his own party.  Therein lies the main problem with Christie’s candidacy, if he cannot attract voters from across the spectrum then his previous stances on certain issues will likely lead republican voters to ignore him as a ‘Republican In Name Only’.

    Or will it be the first fat president ?

    Or will it be the first fat president ? And if by some trick of nature, the photo for Christie is bigger than any of the other photos.

  3. Rand Paul – in the potential candidate of Rand Paul we have a republican who took a principled stand against the current administrations drone policy by leading a 13 hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as the head of the CIA. In doing so, Paul marked himself out as a candidate with strong opinions on civil liberties within the US and foreign policy outside of it. I will admit that a Paul candidacy is perhaps the most unlikely of my selections, barring Emanuel, but given further opportunities to take apart the iniquities of the current administration Paul could easily ride the wave of public approval, at least to the point where he is considered a plausible candidate. As mentioned above, with the current world political climate looking at is, it doesn’t take too great a leap of the imagination to think of a situation where congress might be forced to hold a few more committees on foreign policy issues that Paul might sit on, his star rising commensurately with his number of appearances in the public eye. A Paul candidacy would also perhaps benefit a great deal from his father’s supporters amongst whom are many activists and donors that would help any campaign get off to a flying start. Whether some of Paul’s more libertarian policies might harm his chances remains to be seen as the great unknown when it comes to GOP is how far to the fringes it will pander or whether it will remain focussed on the centre. If GOP is leaning towards the  fringe elements then Paul’s libertarian philosophies might just carry the day but if it remains focussed on the mainstream elements of the party then he might just have to rely on those committees if he is to stand a chance.

    The father failed but might the son get the job ?

    The father failed but might the son get the job ?

To the victor, the hubris of success

In a little over one years time, the majority of Europe, and to a lesser degree the rest of the world, will mark the anniversary of an event that like a few other moments in human history is seen as the founding moment of the era that follows it. Examples of such epoch defining moments would be the Greek victory over the Persians at the battle of Salamis which ushered in the Greco-Roman dominance of the classical world and the (re)discovery of the Americas by Columbus and all the implications of that moment. The event that I make reference to here is  of course the First World War. Pursuant with a casual browsing of history or the detailed study of the very same topics, I am sure that both amateur readers and academics would agree  with me that in a  long history of pointless, wasteful, mindless and utterly barbaric violence unleashed by mankind, the First World War must rank as the pre-eminent example of just how stupid mankind really can be. The reason I draw the readers attention to this impending anniversary is that already quiet rumblings are being heard and seen in the media about how the anniversary itself should be marked, for example with Britain’s leading toilet paper poopooing the nasty liberal left  for not wanting to blame the war on any one nation. The form that the commemoration of such an event takes is critical as it will ultimately define for many their relation to the historical crisis which swept Europe more clearly than the a long lost relative ever could, they may have missed out on experiencing trench foot or the horrors of Gallipoli first hand, but people can still be manipulated by the emotions that a ‘fight for freedom’ evokes.

That the events should be commemorated is a certainty in my mind. I know of course, pacifists with an extreme bent in that direction may say point out the horrors of war and such and argue that due to these reasons that war is never something to be remembered or celebrated. Of course, you will note that in my sentence above I used the term commemorated rather than celebrated, as I believe the notion that certain right wing pundits are spouting that the anniversary of the First World War should be celebrated to be morally reprehensible. It is a firm belief of my own, that those whose lives were wasted by high command on the fields of Europe should be remembered for their role in ‘protecting’ the country. However I feel the need to highlight what I believe is a troubling political climate in which the anniversary will begin as I fear that the misuse of history will be highly likely when the moment comes for it. It is a notable lesson of history that political elites are happy to evoke moments or characters from history in an attempt to garner support for their own ends that otherwise would likely not achieve any great deal of support from the average member of the public. examples of such appropriations of history would include the Napoleonic adoption of Roman iconography in an attempt to link the two great empires, the title that the early Ottoman sultans took of “Sultan of Rum” which demonstrates their desire also to identify themselves as the logical progression of the legacy of Rome or certain Nazi’s identification with the Teutonic order of knights as paragons of Germanic Christianity. Such appropriations are very widespread throughout history and that this is so should come as no surprise as it is an easy task to adopt the stories of history, certainly an easier task than both creating mythologies for people to identify with and have them become widespread whilst still alive.

Whilst the practice of appropriating moments from history is widespread, this is not to say that doing so comes without its problems. Central among the issues such a practice churns up in its wake is that more often than not, the individuals doing the appropriation are the wealthy, powerful and educated elites who as a class of humans are not noted for the general inclination towards extreme philanthropy. Indeed, often the appropriation of history is done out of extreme self interest in making those without power, without money and without the full knowledge of the ugly realities of history do not what they want to do and believe to be in their best interests but to do things which otherwise might seem abhorrent to them. I would also highlight for the reader that the appropriation can also be very non-specific in nature with those doing the manipulating of history evoking nothing more than a general theme, an example of which being politicians in Britain arguing that austerity is nought but a trifle compared to the dark hours of the Blitz which our parents and grandparents experienced.

Now that I have highlighted the way in which history has previously been appropriated I will now explain my specific concerns about how I fear the history of the First World War might be misappropriated as the anniversary approaches on two different fronts. My first concern is that the government will turn the commemoration of the event into a celebration. There is a distinct possibility that the current UK government, a beleaguered and endangered animal if there ever was one, will be keen to turn the anniversary into some form of jingoistic lovefest where all sense of proportion and dignity will be abandoned in a shameless attempt to curry favour in the lead up to a general election. The reason for my concern about the government appropriating the legacy of the First World War is basically centred around my belief that the war itself was an unmitigated disaster that claimed at the lowest estimates 15,000,000 lives and lead directly to an even worse war which claimed, again at minimum, 40,000,000 lives. If the government can find cause to celebrate in amongst all those corpses then it would simply further my belief in the current governments absolute moral bankruptcy. However the problem does not end there I fear, my own squeamishness about celebrating large scale death aside, I believe we are on a slippery slope when governments believe that death and wars are something to celebrate. When you think about it, there is a logical line of progression between celebrating past deaths for a ‘good cause’ and a willingness to directly cause deaths for a good cause. I assure the reader that however positive their impressions of the human race are, the philosophical distances between celebrating a war as having achieved a purpose and a willingness to start wars and end life on massive scale aren’t that far apart. All of this might be hot air on my part were it not for the fact that large areas of the world are already on a knife edge and its difficult to tell how little a government need rock the boat before the whole thing capsizes.

My second concern, and if I am to be entirely honest, a much greater concern at that is that the misappropriation will not be committed by the traditional elite who are usually responsible for such actions. No, my concern is that the misappropriation here will come from ‘street level’ and that if this to be the case that the general public might be all the more susceptible to it. The concern specifically is that a certain movement (read EDL), that is already paramilitary in style, will attempt to align itself with the hordes of British ‘tommies’ that were slaughtered in the defence of ‘freedom’ and gain a lot more credence in the public eye for its shameless and inaccurate appropriation of history. I mean the reality that Muslims, amongst all of the composite religions that were practised throughout the Empire, fought as bravely for a lesser share of the reward would surely fry circuitry among Britain’s leading street thug group were it widely known. By aligning themselves with the ‘tommies’ who fought for freedom against the barbaric German Hun, that the EDL will gain a certain amount of credibility in the eyes of the person who buys into the myth of the Great War and nationalism as a whole. The thought of the EDL gaining anything resembling credibility should worry the reader as it does me. The extremely violent xenophobia it preaches is a curse on all our houses and threat such lunacy poses will only grow with such a movement co-opting the legacy of the First World War. You have been warned …

The power of money

In the wake of yet another political scandal rearing its ugly head in the British press, this time over the recurring issue of “cash for questions”, certain questions are bound to be asked in the coming weeks. I fear however that one question which will be noticeable in its very absence is whether those who vote and form the backbone of democracies enjoy enough access to their elected representatives. In the course of pondering this question I will somewhat inevitably come to look at the issue of lobbying and the problems such means of access to elected officials tends to cause.

In an ideal case scenario, the people in a democratic country, once achieving suffrage, utilise this bounty and elect politicians to some form of representative body which then goes on to pass laws and engage in debate as to the political path that the country will follow. Alongside electing representatives for a given geographical area, most elections in democratic countries also allow for the election of a leader of the government and some of the country, with these figures then going on to in principle inform the legislative direction the government will take. To a large extent this remains to this day an accurate description of how the election part of a democracy  continues to work. However with the passage of history it seems that peoples contact with the governing figures has diminished greatly and that to a large extent once people attain positions of power, certainly here in the UK, that the public do not really have access to them other than when the politician is wheeled out for meet and greets where no discussion of any importance is had. It is perhaps not too great an exaggeration to say that when people in the UK do meet politicians once they have gained office, that those politicians are not to be viewed in any sort of professional capacity, that they are there more as someone famous “off the telly”.

A practice which can spectacularly backfire.

A practice which can spectacularly backfire.

What I’ve described above, politicians spending time meeting and discussing issues with the people who elected them, is of course an ideal case scenario. This being said, it appears to be the case that there are other ways in which you can get politicians to listen to you. It’s to offer them money in return for them listening to your ideas and then letting them sell those ideas in parliament or a like for like public space and pass them off as ideas of their own. That in a roundabout way, is what we call lobbying. The practice of lobbying, is a problematic aspect of politics in most countries and the UK is no different. The reason that lobbying as part of the political process is so problematic is that it can be seen to have both positive and negative effects. Take for example a situation where government is set to vote on legislature that can be construed as “friendly” to a company whose record on environmental issues isn’t squeaky clean, then in this situation it is entirely plausible that another body who represents environmentalists or farmers, as just two of many possible examples, could lobby the government to prevent the initial legislature being voted on. In that scenario, lobbying has been used in positive way to prevent presumably the company from harming the environment. Of course, what my dreamy scenario about environmentalists actually winning the day misses out is that both the environmentalist group and the company with a poor record on green issues have a inordinate amount of social and economic power which has allowed them to gain access to politicians to support their respective causes, while the people who the politicians serve have a complete deficiency of the same types of power meaning their voices are rarely heard. To utilise a round and about analogy to explain the problem, a way in which we can view lobbying is as a parent struggling to separate two teenagers who are yelling, bawling and flailing around in an piss poor attempt to injure each other, meanwhile drown out by all the racket of the other two children, their baby sibling goes hungry as it cannot make a noise equal too or louder than its elder siblings that would alert the mother to its more pressing needs. The only problem with this analogy is that it perhaps over simplifies the situation when in reality there are very rarely only two competing voices struggling to be heard by politicians but dozens if not hundreds throughout the course of the parliamentary year and yet despite the much greater number of constituents that a politician is meant to serve the money and the power speak a lot louder than any heartfelt concern it seems.

This issue of those who already command a tremendous deal of power, to some degree co-opting the democratic process has been a thorn in the side of the British political system for quite some time and this latest fiasco proves that nothing useful has been done despite the assurances of many party leaders throughout the years. The current scandal, like all the good ones, is a cross party one with people involved from all sides of our lovely and bland political spectrum proving that the claims of superior morality by any party carry as much weight as a bag of hot air.

I doubt you do, but in case anyone needed reminding  of the last cross-party scandal that took place here in the UK.

I  really doubt you do, but in case anyone needed reminding of the last cross-party scandal that took place here in the UK.

The fact that every side of the government of the UK is somewhat beset by lobbyists looking for support for their own ends, nefarious and benign, cannot be doubted and yet despite issues around this matter repeatedly surfacing in the British press and on parliamentary motions little has been done to curb the power that lobbyists have over political agendas here , or elsewhere for that matter. Using my example above of an environmental group and a group with a little bit of a dodgy record when it comes to environmental issues , the reader might be tempted to wonder what all the fuss about lobbying is over, but in my drive to explain clearly the issue at hand I have perhaps made lobbyists seem a little more benign than the reality of the situation. Undoubtedly there are lobbyists for all sorts of praiseworthy causes but there are also a lot who make an extremely immoral living off getting governments to support causes that I’m sure their constituents disagree with vehemently. Example of the big players in the corporate lobbyist industry would include the Arms industry,  the Alcohol industry, the Tobacco Industry and the Gambling industry to name but a few. All of these industries, while providing valuable contributions to the economy, are hardly moral causes and it surely should raise the hackles of politicians that representatives of these industries are so keen to buy legislative support considering the PROVEN ill effects that the products of the last three industries at least have on people within their constituencies. And if the fact that some lobbyists try to get politicians to support measures that will directly harm their own constituents, even kill some perhaps, does not bother politicians, then perhaps the even greater ill effect that governmental support for arms conglomerates and dictatorial regimes will have on the wider world might cause them to think twice. Or perhaps as many fear, the money and power of the lobbyist industry has completely subverted democracy and the voice of the man on the street is no longer worth caring about, even if he in all his wisdom elected the politician selling him out.

A particularly poignant remark made by Guardian writer Andrew Rawnsley in a piece discussing lobbying mused on the ill effect this practice has likely had on how people view governments.

“The pungent smell given off by the whole business also feeds public cynicism about how government works that swells voter alienation, anger and disengagement.”

His observation certainly strikes me as being very close to my own feelings, and I would hazard to guess the feelings of many other Britons. Whatever happens as a result of this scandal, I’m sure we will hear a lot about how the government and the opposition both feel this issue can be dealt with. But it remains to be seen whether those reporting on this scandal will discuss that lack of access the public enjoys to their representatives in government. The lobbying scandal will surely continue to surface at the most inopportune moments unless government pledges its own divorce from corporations and vows to re-engage with the electorate. This idea is not a guaranteed solution by any means, but its certainly a worthwhile suggestion that needs to be heard in the wake of another scandal proving that politicians are as interested if not more so in the needs of the rich and powerful wherever they may be than their own electorate who they are sworn to serve.

Let us not forget

In my efforts last week, I returned to a time honoured subject upon which I have often waxed lyrical as it is a subject close to my heart- the occupation of Palestine and the subsequent illegality of many actions committed by the Zionist entity which monopolized power in the state of Israel since its founding in 1948. In last weeks post I focussed in particular on how Zionism as a movement has been particularly effective in monopolizing support for itself in the media primarily through omission and distortion of facts and heavy-handed bully-boy tactics that might make even this man quiver…

The sole reason that anyone in the UK should willingly pay a licence fee.

The sole reason that anyone in the UK should willingly pay a licence fee.

After much deliberation this week I have decided to continue casting an inquisitive spotlight over the actions and beliefs of Zionism in an effort to make clear, for any readers who have not already made their mind up, the moral repugnance of Zionism as a philosophy. In particular this post will focus on the main means through which practitioners of this peculiarly vile philosophy have demonstrated their bankruptcy in terms of morals – the distortion of the history of the Holocaust. That anyone would distort a tragedy of such size as the holocaust to secure for themselves benefits of any kind speaks a great deal already, but when you take into account how Zionism as a movement has continually served to distort the holocaust to serve its own ends at the expense of many of the other victims of the Nazi’s exterminatory policies then I vehemently believe you really have come face to face with evil.

I hope that as I progress through this post, the problems this image poses will become increasingly clear

I hope that as I progress through this post, the problems this image poses will become increasingly clear

I recognise in proceeding along this road the likelihood that I may upset some people,  and it is perhaps with something of a heavy heart that I do proceed knowing that but to defend my decision I will bring the readers attention once more to a quote which I have utilised many times by Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu which more articulately describes the situation than I could ever hope to – “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Further to this I would like to make clear that my aim is not to diminish the suffering of the Jews who were killed during the holocaust but to illuminate the vast scale of slaughter that was equally committed against other minorities who today do not remain free of the common prejudices of many people across the world. With these caveats out of the way please feel free to read on at your own discretion to find the body of my argument.

The first problem in arguing for recognition of the other victims of the Holocaust is that the very definition itself is tied up in the political wrangling that surrounds how we record this event. Eminent historians, who have officially recognised that many groups alongside Jews were targeted, presumably due to the immense political pressures placed on anyone who specialises in the Holocaust academically have resorted to offering almost Orwellian definitions of the nature of the Holocaust. It pains me to repeat these capitulations (in my view) or whitewashes in one case by historians who otherwise command the utmost respect but below are a sample of statements on how leading historians define the events of the Holocaust:

  • Timothy Snyder states that “The term Holocaust is sometimes used in two other ways: to mean all German killing policies during the war, or to mean all oppression of Jews by the Nazi regime.”
  • Donald Niewyk and Francis Nicosia offer the opinion in The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust that the term is commonly defined as the mass murder of more than five million European Jews. But alongside their definition presented there, they offer the platitude that “Not everyone finds this a fully satisfactory definition”.
  • Martin Gilbert in stating the number of victims of the Nazi Holocaust only cites the figure for Jewish deaths.

This might sound like semantics to those not particularly interested but the way we define the holocaust is of critical importance. It is demonstrably clear that in two out of three of the cases I have listed above that the author, while acknowledging the facts that there were other victims of Nazi exterminatory policy, is towing the official line in only recognising Jewish victims as the ‘official’ ones. There is no logical reason why the ‘other’ victims of the Holocaust are defined separately and so it logically follows that they should be recognised as victims of the holocaust and not victims of some separate yet less hideous atrocity. In defining the Holocaust for myself, I lean very closely to the first term described by Timothy Snyder above when he says that the Holocaust is taken ” to mean all German killing policies during the war”. In choosing this as the definition I believe to be the clearest representation of historical fact, I conducted an analysis of my own as to the intentions of Nazi extermination policies firstly, towards the Jews of Europe and the secondly, towards all other persecuted groups. In studying the intentions of Nazi policy in attempting to wipe out these groups it is eminently clear that the Nazi intentions were the same in both cases,  the intentions being namely:

  • To clear land otherwise occupied by undesirable groups to make way for its settlement by ethnic German populations and also in liquidating undesirables freeing up their property, homes, financial resources etc for use by German population. 
  • To maintain the fabled blood purity of the ‘Aryan’ race by destroying all potential ‘pollutants’ which could potentially pollute the blood of the vaunted German race.
  • To maintain the ideological purity of the Nazi vision for its empire by destroying all potential ‘pollutants’ who might challenge the ideologies valued in the public sphere of the vaunted German race.

Taking the above facts as truth, we can see that the policy of extermination of various groups all served the same ends and therefore it makes complete sense that the the attempts to exterminate undesirable groups should be classed together as a singular event in history. The current approach is incorrect in my opinion as it breaks up the attacks by the Nazis against the different undesirable groups into distinct atrocities as if separate and distinct motives informed the crimes when as I have demonstrated above the reality is that the exact same purposes were at work in every case. 

When wondering how to define the holocaust in a much more non-specific way then my definition would be that it is amongst a group of events in human history that are uniquely troubling in their vileness and also provide the perfect retort to every drivelling idiot who sees something that warms the heart and says something like this “faith in humanity restored.” I mean how can you ever hold any faith in humanity when members of the human race, albeit deranged fanatical fascist ones, enacted a deliberate policy to systematically slaughter whole parts of the human race, how dense does it make you that someone giving up their seat on the bus or the train makes you think humans aren’t irreversibly damaged on a philosophical level?  The critical reason that we must recognise the multitude of groups who were targeted alongside Jews is that if we fail to do so, we commit an act almost as hideously vile in denying the recognition to victims of such an atrocity. In the words of one notable holocaust survivor, when speaking about the victims of an altogether separate genocide, to deny the victims the recognition they deserve is to kill them a second time. By failing to acknowledge properly the ‘other victims’ of the Holocaust we effectively say that their suffering is less significant than that of the Europe’s Jews. This is an issue of critical important as ultimately since the Holocaust if only one positive end has been reached, it is that popular prejudice against Jews is no longer a commonly held value whereas those victims who have not received the proper recognition for their suffering still face much discrimination to this day which is justified in many of the same ways as the hatred of Jews was justified in Nazi Europe.

Now that I have made clear my opinion on how the Holocaust should, and hopefully one day will, be defined, and also made perfectly clear the reasons recognition of the other victims of the Holocaust is vitally important, I will begin to demonstrate the scale in which other minority groups were targeted by the Nazis, which should leave the reader in no doubt that we must recognise the fact that the Holocaust was much wider reaching in its scope than current definitions recognise.

  • The first group that I believe need to be included in the total cost of life’s that the Holocaust reaped as opposed to being listed as victims of some other arbitrary atrocity is the Poles. The decisions that carried the Nazi armies onto Polish soil in 1939 were exactly the same as those which informed the change of policy towards Europe’s Jews. The decisions that informed the ethnic cleansing of both groups from conquered territory revolved around clearing ‘Lebensraum’ for Germans and so it makes sense that the the killing of both groups falls under the same category of crime.
    The same practices that we instantly recongise as associated with the specifically "Jewish Holocaust" were used to equally ill effect to identify and massacre Poles throughout the Second World War.

    The same practices that we instantly recognise as associated with the specifically “Jewish Holocaust” were used to equally ill effect to identify and massacre Poles throughout the Second World War.

    It is true that the Poles as a general rule were persecuted as vigorously from the outset of the war meaning that they were less victims of the gas chambers and more victims of the gun but this does not diminish in any way the scale of the casualties suffered by Poland with approximately 14% of the polish population (5 million including Jews) lost at the hands of the German forces. It is also worthy taking into account that of the roughly 6 million Jews that were killed in the Holocaust as we currently recognise it that approximately half would have been Polish Jews so there is a definite argument to be heard in the notion that if we are to subdivide the Holocaust into separate atrocities that instead of subdividing it by group targeted that we should instead group the targeted populations and divide by theatre of the the holocaust. Instead then of dividing the Holocaust up into the genocide committed against Jews and that committed against Slavs, we should perhaps split the Holocaust up into the Holocaust as waged in Poland, that waged in the Ukraine, that waged in Belgium etc. Such an approach would arguably be preferable as it takes into account that within a country there was no real hierarchy of murder and that each group was targeted on an equal basis and it also would help to make clear that the Holocaust was waged very differently throughout Europe with Jews originating in France receiving much less brutal treatment than those from the Eastern Bloc and Soviet countries.

  • Another group which has arguably been white-washed  even further from the officially recognised victims of the Holocaust are Soviet POW’s. Unlike the Jews and Poles who formed a potential physical corruption of German blood in the mind of the Nazis, the Soviet POW’s who ended up in Nazi hands were persecuted and exterminated on account of the perceived ideological danger that they created for Germany as Communists had formed one of the many groups that the Nazis were persistently opposed to in Germany and this carried on into their occupation of Europe. Alongside the purposeful targeting of Soviets for ethnic cleansing along Ideological lines it is also true that the treatment of Soviet POW’s was also informed by one of the chief aims of the Holocaust which was to reduce the burden on limited resources and free these up for the German population – fair treatment of the multitudes of Soviet POW’s that were captured in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa would have entailed a massive logistical effort for the Germans which would have been extremely difficult to maintain in a war environment. This disregard for human life combined with the ideological hatred of Soviet prisoners ultimately saw between 2 and 3 million die in the early stages of the war. That the savagery unleashed was intentional and not purely an accident in the fog of war was probably to some extent proven by the fury that was unleashed against the Germans after the Soviets halted the German offensive and returned one of their own onto German Soil. Further proof that the treatment of Soviet POW’s was a genocidal behaviour on the part of the Nazis is provided by the disparity between the number of Western prisoners from Great Britain and the US who were killed after capture and the number of Soviets who were killed. From a total of 231,000 British and American prisoners captured 8300 died whereas in the case of the Soviets around half of the roughly 5 million prisoners died in German captivity.
Vast swathes of captured Soviets would have been an all too common sight on the Eastern Front.

Vast swathes of captured Soviets would have been an all too common sight on the Eastern Front.

  • Another group that I believe should be included and is often recognised but as I have already mentioned, only recognised in the context of their own separate ‘Holocaust’ called the Porajmos, is the Romani and Sinti people. In more common parlance (and racist for that matter) we know the Romani and Sinti as Gypsies. That they were targeted by the Nazis was not something that was well recognised before the 1980s but since then the record has begun to recognise that atrocities were committed against these people as they too were defined much in the same way as other groups who were targeted as ‘undesirable’ and ‘dirty’. One problem that complicates the recognition that these people deserve is that genocidal policy regarding them differed from country to country (in my opinion adding further weight to the need to subdivide the Holocaust not by groups targeted but by country. That the policy differed from country to country does not however change the fact that there was a reasonably large population of Romani in Europe at the time and where they were targeted they were exterminated on a large scale .
    A map of countries showing the number of Romani prior to WW2.

    A map of countries showing the number of Romani prior to WW2.

    In the debates that have raged since the end of the Second World War, the number of Romani/ Sinti victims of the Holocaust has been placed as low as 130,000 by Niewyk and Nicosia and on the other hand by a specialist in Roma studies, Ian Hancock the number has been placed as high as half a million possibly even one and half million. Hancock argues that whatever the figure that proportionately as many if not more Roma and Sinti were killed in the Holocaust than even the Jews and so it is markedly noticeable that their suffering receives so little attention in most accounts of the Holocaust.

  • One last group that I will identify as having suffered tremendously as a result of the Holocaust for the exact same reasons as all other groups, therefore qualifying them as victims of the Holocaust, is Homosexuals. Targeted from a very early period in Nazi history, a large number of Homosexuals were at some pointed targeted by discrimination by the Nazi authorities, although the proportion is difficult to ascertain as it is obviously easier to hide manifestations of sexuality than it is to hide race or membership of communities. Records show that around 50,000 homosexual men were targeted and of those around 15,000 ended up in concentration camps were they were subjected to an unusual level of torture and suffering relative to most other groups which speaks volumes about the level of hatred being just the same if not worse in some ways than that shown to other groups. A leading Scholar Rüdiger Lautmann believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60% and that would certainly on a surface level appear to sound correct when the camp guards ‘interests’ are taken into account. The recording of Homosexuals who were targeted was ultimately complicated by the fact that Homosexuality remained criminalised in post war Germany and so the the reality is we will probably never know the true extent to which the Holocaust exterminated Homosexuals.

I have decided for the sake of brevity to end my identification of other groups who should equally be recognised as victims of the Nazi Holocaust there. Given more time and space I would also identify Slavs, Peoples with disabilities (both mental and physical),  Religious minorities such as Jehovahs Witnesses, Non Europeans and enemy nationals as other groups equally worthy of identification as having been targeted for extermination in the Holocaust. The reason I plumped for three of the four groups was I discussed above  was quite purposeful on my part. The reason was to demonstrate that while as a result of the recognition of their suffering during the Holocaust, Jews have been able to put an end to popular prejudices against themselves as a race, in the case of Poles, Romani and Homosexuals who are not really recognised as a victims of the Holocaust despite the historical facts, common prejudices against them remain relatively widespread throughout Europe. There are two other reasons also why I believe it is critical that we acknowledge and recognise  the other victims of the Nazi Holocaust that I will now briefly explain. Firstly, by only acknowledging the Jewish suffering  that took place in the Holocaust, we have allowed Zionist elements within Judaism to claim the status as the sole victims of the worst atrocity in history which they have used as a smokescreen to commit ethnic cleansing of their own, and continuing to this day that status as sole victims is being used to avoid all criticism in all forums. By acknowledging that actually there were many other victims of the Holocaust we remove that status of sole victim, which has been used too often as an excuse by Israeli elites to commit morally reprehensible acts, whilst still recognising the massive suffering of the Jewish people that came about as a result of the Holocaust. The second reason that I believe it is important that we recognise the other victims of the Holocaust is that to not do so is to diminish the scale of the atrocity committed, especially when we take into account that when the other groups are counted amongst the victims the death toll of the Holocaust doubles, and therefore to prevent its proper recording in History which serves no-one.

Through continual manipulation of the historical facts, Zionists as a movement have exploited a tragedy which their people endured, and exploited it past all interpretations of good taste or even just plain taste. In doing so they have escaped culpability for many crimes against humanity and international law whilst diminishing the suffering of others who were equally persecuted in the darkest days of humanity. By reclaiming the Holocaust as an event which crossed ethnic divisions we remove this excuse. In removing this excuse we live in hope that by removing the Holocaust from the sole ownership of the Zionists who cradle it for all of its political worth that we remove its use as a political tool and instead allow it to become a solemn moment in history from which we learn a lot of lessons about why our common prejudices are and have always been wrong.

First they ignore you, then they silence you

Last week I read a highly interesting and thought-provoking essay on Al-Jazeera, albeit not the most interesting of stories I have ever shared with readers. I will elaborate a little further to make clear why my reading last week should be of interest to anyone on earth other than because, well I said so.  The article in question was a piece written by Joseph Massad for the Al Jazeera English service and was titled “The Last of the Semites”, in his article Massad discussed the racist nature of Zionism and demonstrated how as an ideology it is based on many of the  very same racist presumptions made by the most virulent anti-Semitists. This however, while explaining my own interesting in the article, is still not why this story is of interest to the reader. The reason I have discussed this story is that not long after the article was posted it was also pulled in a bizarre move by the senior editors to seemingly sate Israel’s baying hounds despite AJE’s reputation as being one of the few media sources which can be relied upon for a balanced discussion of Israel compared to many of the other leading sources of news outside of the region.

As one commentator, Ali Abunimah at Electronic Intifada highlighted in the wake of this event the decision seems even more bizarre considering that of the channels few red lines as far as the owner, the Emir of Qatar, is concerned – Massad has crossed all of these previously by previously publishing articles critical of both Qatari Foreign policy and the the Emir without once being censured. That the straw that broke the camels back in this case was pressure from Israel will come as no great surprise to anyone who has seen figureheads of world opinion operate against other dissenting voices on the countries policies in the past. Take for example Ali Abunimah, one of the editors in chief if not THE editor in chief at Electronic Intifada who is regularly slandered with every term that forms the varied spectrum of insults that Israel’s defenders will use to try through a policy of attrition to make something stick in the hope of rendering the victims opinions null and void. This policy is so school yard it is at times hard to believe that a country with perhaps the worlds most effective PR team (our of necessity rather than skill) is its chief user. If for example – I became engaged in an argument as to whether apples are better than oranges with my arch enemy and instead of offering evidence I simply shouted swear words at my enemy at the top of my voice until people in the audience began to agree with my shouted opinion – have I really won the argument ? or simply stopped myself from losing by being unable to present any relevant facts that backup my opinions. Much as this has been in the policy used against Abunimah and various other voices in the past, it was also the policy used by the attack dogs against Massad in the wake of this articles publication on the AJE website. Here are two choice examples in tweet form from just two of Israel’s most prominent public defenders:

“Congratulations, al Jazeera: You’ve just posted one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory”

and

“Congratulations, donors to Columbia University, for paying this monstrous fuckhead’s salary!”

what we can see here is fairly typical of this approach in that there is no balance attempted (granted its twitter and characters are limited but the point stands as balance on twitter can appear in tweets that follow an original) and there’s an appeal to a third party rather than directly to Massad himself asking him to clarify what his post meant which I presume aims at raising hackles over criticism in the press in an attempt to get third parties to self censor so to speak.

Since writing these paragraphs AJE have made a rather humiliating about face on the Massad article and restored it to its rightful place on the website. While this makes some of the statements above mildly irrelevant the overall theme of this post has remained unchanged and so I will continue without drastically altering the piece itself.

However unique this story is in many ways, it is also fairly atypical of the media’s relations with Israel as a whole which is problematic only in the sense that the representations that the lions share of the media present of Israel are utterly false in their one-sidedness. Take for example the discussion of any forces that are involved in the conflict as a clear demonstration of the media’s cognitive and seemingly inherent bias in Israel’s favour. It is true as the media should report that there is armed conflict between the Israeli army and Palestinians. Notice what words didn’t follow Palestinians then, here are a few that spring to mind as notable for their lack of an appearance “Army, Units, Regiments, Squads, Forces”. The media chooses, seemingly through omission, to neglect to inform the audience of the massive disparity in the forces involved in the conflict with “battles often consisting of whole armed brigades of the IDF on one side facing off against one or two Palestinians who may or may not be militants. When the Media chooses to neglect these details in its reportage of conflict between the two parties it presumably does so for two reasons:

  1. To actually reveal troop numbers to audiences around the world might finally put the final nail in the coffin of the deluded fantasy that the Israeli Defence Force is anything of the sort.
  2. Again, to reveal troop numbers to audiences around the world might also put paid to the Zionist myths that Israel is surrounded by hordes of rabid enemies, just waiting to pounce on the innocent jews, that has helped them to achieve so much support and recognition in the wider world.

What we can see in these justifications above are just two possible examples that the Western media might have for self-censoring their content in favour of Israel, although I am not saying that these are the concrete reasons behind every bizarre editorial decision that is made that seems to support Israel. No, I won’t suggest that as I know there is an equally pressing force which defines a worrying amount of what is and isn’t reported in the worlds media and that is… money.

The whole money aspect was something I was going to touch on anyway as it does define a lot of what is covered or not covered in the case of Israel but, after the Massad article was reposted on AJE, as if to prove my point Electronic Intifada did some digging and found financial reasons to be behind the original censorship of the article. According to research conducted by EI, the manager of the new US branch of Al Jazeera was concerned about the impact that such an article would have in US markets which are extremely sensitive to criticisms of the Zionist state. While these concerns perhaps warrant some thought they certainly do not in any way validate the decision to remove the article as to do simply demonstrates that the US market for information (amongst many others) is dictated by Zionists and that truly no source is free of the immense stifling effect Israeli power has on free speech. As a parting thought I would simply ask the reader to think about the veracity of any information they have ever received from the mass media about Israel when it has proven powerful enough to censor the one network that has prided itself in the past on providing a counter argument to the usual points made in the countries defence.