Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

YouTube of the day

The future of music, now:

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Iraq’s civil war and the American response

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

The war in Iraq is a debacle and no amount of semantic fudging can change that reality. While it is encouraging that a number of US media outlets have finally acknowledged that civil war is raging in the occupied nation, the Iraqi people have known this fact for years. It’s a shame so few Westerners were listening.

The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn wrote this week that George W. Bush and Tony Blair (and by extension, John Howard) simply refuse to accept that foreign occupation is the main reason for the insurgency:

An Iraqi government will only have real legitimacy and freedom to operate when US and British troops have withdrawn. Washington and London have to accept that if Iraq is to survive at all it will be as a loose federation run by a Shia-Kurdish alliance because together they are 80 per cent of the population. But, thanks to the miscalculations of Mr Bush and Mr Blair, the future of Iraq will be settled not by negotiations but on the battlefield.

Behind the headlines of James Baker’s Iraq Study Group, however, lies alternative US plans that much of the mainstream media has ignored.

Former US state senator Tom Hayden has written a series of explosive articles for the Huffington Post that detail “America’s diplomatic exit strategy from Iraq”.

He alleges that James Baker has told one of Saddam’s lawyers that Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s former deputy prime minister, will be released by year’s end to negotiate with the US on behalf of the Baath Party leadership.

The Bush administration has continued to negotiate with insurgent groups (except al-Qaeda), and hopes to instigate a coup against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The Americans are desperate for a cease-fire, so the implication is clear; military means have failed.

Hayden told Democracy Now this week that the Americans are hoping that a ceasefire would allow them to “go after” Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Key American planners are also determined to restrict Iranian influence in Iraq, conveniently forgetting that the “democratic” governments elected by the people on a number of occasions are directly aligned to the Islamic state.

There has been a noticeable shift in war rhetoric in the last weeks. Iraqis are being blamed for the country’s troubles, not the countries occupying the nation.

Scott Burchill, lecturer in international relations at Deakin University, writes that Australia’s role in Iraq will continue without policy options of our own:

Despite overwhelming opposition from the Iraqi people, US and Australian troops will stay until a reliable Vichy-style dependent client willing to protect Washington’s regional interests is securely in place. Canberra seems committed to this goal out of loyalty to its alliance partner, if not Australia’s national interests. Stability is still some way off. Much blood is still to be shed.

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Ask questions, expect truthful answers

Much of the civilised word views former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a war criminal. Some, of course, are more, er, forgiving:

According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Benedict XVI has invited the 83-year-old former adviser to Richard Nixon to be a political consultant, and Kissinger has accepted.

Quoting an “authoritative” diplomatic source at the Holy See, the paper reported Nov. 4 that the Nobel laureate was asked at a recent private audience with the Holy Father to form part of a papal “advisory board” on foreign and political affairs. 

Although many in the Western media still worship at the feet of Kissinger (Murdoch’s Australian regularly features his rantings), at least one journalist clearly took a stand:

Four years ago, Barbara Walters, who calls Kissinger “the most loyal friend,” was entertaining Kissinger and his wife at a dinner party for a D.C. politician when ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who died last year, suddenly piped up, “How does it feel to be a war criminal, Henry?” 

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Human rights in jeopardy

Norman Finkelstein, November 29:

How has Human Rights Watch responded to the [Gaza] challenge?

It criticized Israel for destroying Gaza’s only electrical plant, and also called on Israel to “investigate” why its forces were targeting Palestinian medical personnel in Gaza and to “investigate” the Beit Hanoun massacre.

On the other hand, it accused Palestinians of committing a “war crime” after they captured an Israeli soldier and offered to exchange him for Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails. (Israel was holding 10,000 Palestinians prisoner.) It demanded that Palestinians “bring an immediate end to the lawlessness and vigilante violence” in Gaza. (Compare Amira Hass’s words.) It issued a 101-page report chastising the Palestinian Authority for failing to protect women and girls. It called on the Palestinian Authority to take “immediate steps to halt” Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.

Were this record not shameful enough, HRW crossed a new threshold at the end of November.

After Palestinians spontaneously responded to that “unknown voice on a cell phone” by putting their own bare bodies in harm’s way, HRW rushed to issue a press release warning that Palestinians might be committing a “war crime” and might be guilty of “human shielding.” (“Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks”)

In what must surely be the most shocking statement ever issued by a human rights organization, HRW indicted Palestinian leaders for supporting this nonviolent civil disobedience:

“Prime Minister Haniyeh and other Palestinian leaders should be renouncing, not embracing, the tactic of encouraging civilians to place themselves at risk.”

The international community has for decades implored Palestinian leaders to forsake armed struggle in favour of nonviolent civil disobedience. Why is a human rights organization now attacking them for adopting this tactic?

Is it a war crime to protect one’s home from collective punishment?

Is it human shielding if a desperate and forsaken populace chooses to put itself at deadly risk in order to preserve the last shred of its existence?

Indeed, although Israeli soldiers have frequently used Palestinians as human shields in life-threatening situations, and although HRW has itself documented this egregious Israeli practice, HRW has never once called it a war crime.

It took weeks before HRW finally issued a report condemning Israeli war crimes in Lebanon. Although many reliable journalists were daily documenting these crimes, HRW said it first had to conduct an independent investigation of its own.

But HRW hastened to deplore the nonviolent protests in Gaza based on anonymous press reports which apparently got crucial facts wrong.

Why this headlong rush to judgment? 

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More research needed

The Australian’s media diarist has clearly done her research:

A level of respect

Melbourne writer Antony Loewenstein let fly after being described as an “anti-Zionist blogger” in an article by Rebecca Weisser in The Australian’s Higher Education Supplement that questioned his appointment to the board of Macquarie University’s Centre for Middle East and North African Studies. “Have these people no respect for a best-selling author?” Loewenstein wrote in an angry blog entry attacking Weisser and other “Zionist clowns”. Possibly, but Loewenstein’s only published work, My Israel Question, has so far sold 5987 copies, according to Bookscan.

A few points for the intrepid Murdoch journalist. I’m based in Sydney (though published by Melbourne University Publishing.) A subtle geographic difference for some, but one worth noting. My tongue-in-cheek comment regarding respect of a best-selling author was obviously lost in translation. Clearly understanding sarcasm isn’t the writer’s strong-suit.

Finally, my book has sold far more than 5987 copies since its August release, but again, let me guess the Australian simply relied on the notoriously unreliable Bookscan figures? Making a call to my publisher was too much to ask.

I look forward to journalist Amanda Meade’s best-seller book on office reporting.

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YouTube of the day

Al Franken on Rush Limbaugh:

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The journalist, the spy and Vladimir Putin

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

The recent London murder of former KGB and FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko has once again focused world attention on the increasingly authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin.

Russian authorities are determined to deny any responsibility for the targeting of a key Putin critic, but evidence already points to Kremlin involvement (though this being modern Russia, any number of theories are plausible.)

It was announced overnight that traces of polonium 210 had been found at the London offices of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky (a supposed friend of Litvinenko.)

Yesterday’s Crikey featured Guy Rundle’s concise summary of the likely reasons behind Litvinenko’s death, but there are many other angles to this story that require examination.

Just before he was hospitalised with radiation poisoning, Litvinenko spoke at London’s Frontline Club about the October assassination of leading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

He didn’t mince his words and directly blamed Putin for her death. While he didn’t provide direct evidence at a public forum, it was clear that he believed Putin must be held responsible for his country’s decline. Litvinenko was known to have been investigating Politkovskaya’s death, so was he targeted because he knew too much about her killers?

Last Friday the BBC screened a previously unseen interview with Politkovskaya. She alleged that Putin deliberately provoked terrorism, including the 2002 Dubrovka theatre siege and 2004 Beslan school massacre.

“The birth of democracy was hard. But it was born, and he is killing it,” Politkovskaya said. “His years in the Kremlin have meant that the next generation will have to do a great deal, take a giant leap, to get out of the problems.”

She went on to accuse Putin of creating a new generation of terrorists, partly due to his inflaming of the war in Chechnya and leaving “a Soviet country with a downtrodden media and with strong fascist undercurrents.”

Two journalists at Politkovskaya’s paper have now received death threats, one for investigating the figures behind her killing. It is unsurprising that so little independent media exists in Russia in these circumstances.

With the British Home Secretary John Reid issuing a statement in the Commons regarding Litvinenko’s death – though he places no blame at Putin’s feet – a diplomatic row between Russia and the UK is looking likely.

The deaths of both Litvinenko and Politkovskaya display a worrying tendency to eliminate a government’s opponents. International pressure may be muted, however, by the pulling power of Russia’s immense natural resources.


Anti-Semitism, the reality

We are told that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Australia (even the Israeli press links to the same article.) The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) claim that attacks on Jews and “anti-Semitic incidents” were at a near-record high in the past year. The report’s author, Jeremy Jones, explains:

“The most important thing is that when people think they can get away with it [antisemitic incidents], that’s when they commit them. The atmosphere [during the war in Lebanon] was right for attacking Jews and getting away with it. It’s not what happens in the Middle East, it’s how the media covers it [that incites antisemitism].”

Is that clear? It’s the media’s fault, and not Israeli actions, that anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise. And who especially?

This is particularly the case when antisemitic views are broadcast on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission), as in the minds of racists this signifies that bigotry has received government imprimatur.

The report provides no evidence for such an allegation yet the tone clearly implies that even interviewing, say, Hamas spokesmen or dissenting Jewish voices, is tantamount to inciting anti-Jewish hatred.

The full report can be read here. It’s a long-winded and dishonest report. This is unsurprising considering the authors, but a few points need clarification. The report claims that the “Left” is infused with anti-Semitism. Some commentators are accused of daring to suggest that Israeli policies in the occupied territories are akin to apartheid. Others have argued, myself included, that being anti-Zionist is a legitimate political position. Of course, in the report’s eyes, this is contributing to anti-Semitism. In such circumstances, critical voices are, almost by definition, inciting Jew-hatred.

It is worth remembering the words of US historian Norman Finkelstein. He told Democracy Now in February:

In the United States among those people who call themselves supporters of Israel, we enter the area of unreason. We enter a twilight zone. American Jewish organizations, they’re not only not up to speed yet with Steven Spielberg, they’re still in the Leon Uris exodus version of history: the “this land is mine, God gave this land to me,” and anybody who dissents from this, you can call it, lunatic version of history is then immediately branded an anti-Semite, and whenever Israel comes under international pressure to settle the conflict diplomatically, or when it is subjected to a public relations debacle, such as it was with the Second Intifada, a campaign is launched claiming there is a new anti-Semitism afoot in the world.

There is no evidence of a new anti-Semitism. If you go through all the literature, as I have, the evidence is actually in Europe, which is Dr. Ben-Ami’s half-home ground, Spain, but throughout Europe, the evidence is, if you look at like the Pew Charitable Trust surveys, anti-Semitism has actually declined since the last time they did the surveys. They did it in 1991 and 2002. They said the evidence is that it’s declined. And the same thing in the United States. What’s called the “new anti-Semitism” is anyone who criticizes any official Israeli policies. In fact, my guess is had people not known who wrote Scars of War, Wounds of Peace, that book would immediately be put on the A.D.L.’s list of verboten books, an example of anti-Semitism, because he says things like the Zionists wanted to transfer the Arabs out. That’s anti-Semitism. It has nothing to do with the real world. It’s a public relations extravaganza production to deflect attention from the facts, from the realities…

His words could apply equally to Australia. Violent attacks on Jews do occur, and real anti-Semitism does exist. Such outrages should be condemned and prosecuted, but the ECAJ report is so politicised as to make its contribution negligible at best. Any criticism of Israel is deemed unacceptable. Damning Israeli actions in Lebanon is inappropriate. It is unsurprising, therefore, how few individuals speak out against such dishonest practices.

Half-way through the report appears these paragraphs:

The shallowness and intellectual dishonesty in some of the debate on the Middle East in Australia was evident in the reception accorded a book written on Israel and Australia’s Jewish Community by an individual with no particular expertise, experience or skills but who identified himself as a Jewish critic of Australian Jewry and of Zionism. While the book was riddled with factual inaccuracies and sloppiness, it was speedily given iconic value by a range of critics of Israel, including overt antisemites.

It was promoted and sold by extreme right wing political organisations, available at a bookstand which otherwise exclusively sold fundamentalist Islamic texts at a Muslim fair and the author was promoted by a variety of far-left groups existentially opposed to Israel.

The author’s personal moderated internet discussion forum published a series of items making offensive comments about individuals opposed to Holocaust denial and others accusing critics of the author of using “every weapon in the Jewish armoury of self-victimisation” , while the author himself used offensive anti-Jewish language, but the utility to anti-Israel groups and individuals of having a self-identified Jewish person who was eager to criticise Israel and Australian Jewry seemingly over-rode any concern with factual accuracy or concern with racism.

The report’s authors are too gutless to actually mention my book by name, My Israel Question, or my name itself (they’ll be happy to know that there will be many more surprises on these matters in 2007.)

Despite the best efforts of Zionist agitators everywhere (including this report’s author, Jeremy Jones, who penned a review for the Australian Jewish News that reached new heights of hilarity), my book has become a best-seller and is now well into its 3rd reprint. Of course, Zionists may comfort themselves with the thought that my book appeals to a very narrow section of society, but in fact the amount of mail I’ve received from across the country and overseas – young and old, Jewish and non-Jewish, left and right – proves that My Israel Question has in fact spoken to many, sick of the tired, old militant Zionism that has failed time and time again.

Zionist “logic” works like this. Police the political and media arena for any comments that may be “suspect.” Attack mercilessly, accusing the individual of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, racism and a lack of patriotism. Watch the media take up the story. Sit back and enjoy the feeding frenzy. Of course, such tactics may have worked for many decades, but not anymore. Even leading Zionist Isi Leibler – who wants a Jewish TV channel to rival al-Jazeera – understands the current situation:

There is no disputing that at every level we are losing the global war of ideas. Despite clear evidence that fanatical Islamic fundamentalism threatens the basic fabric of Western civilization, Israel, and by extension the Jewish people, are now generally perceived as pariahs.

In contrast to the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel was universally acclaimed for having valiantly defended itself as a David vs Goliath against the combined might of Arab armies bent on her annihilation, today the image of the Jewish state has been reversed. Now it is the Palestinians who are the noble underdogs. Despite every conceivable effort to reach an accommodation, including disastrous unilateral withdrawals and spurned offers to retreat to the virtually indefensible 1967 borders, much of the world perceives us as conquerors who routinely kill innocent civilians and deny human rights to oppressed neighbours.

Israel and Jews are “losing the global war of ideas” because the Jewish state’s actions can no longer be spun to hide its brutality. World public opinion has noticed. It will take more than better PR (and a Jewish TV channel, could there be anything more parochial?) to reverse the tide. Better behaviour is rewarded. Just look at the US. Its international reputation has never been lower. We all know why (hint: Iraq and torture aren’t a good mix.)

If the Jewish community establishment wants to be taken seriously, it will have to do better than accusing me of inciting anti-Semitism or the “Left” of contributing to Jew-hatred. These mothers-of-all-distractions are about as effective as US foreign policy. The convenient conflation of Israeli criticism with anti-Semitism is a ploy that is both dishonest and counter-productive. I fear that these ghetto-minded Jews will only understand the failures of their tactics when international isolation forces them to either change (like the white minority in apartheid South Africa) or simply be forgotten as a racist relic.

Indeed, the tactics of the peace movement are working. Israel’s support is ever-more marginalised. The occupation is rightly seen as a blight on the Jewish state. Militant Zionism is now openly challenged in the public arena. There is much work to be done, of course, but the current ECAJ report on anti-Semitism simply contributes to the public’s perception that Jews are incapable of tolerating dissent.


Iraq: the disintegration

US President George W. Bush still believes in democracy in Iraq and dismisses “pessimistic” readings of the country. One wonders what his advisers are telling him and how insulated from reality he has become.

Patrick Cockburn is the Independent’s Middle East correspondent and author of the recently released, The Occupation. His newspaper published his special report yesterday that painted a devastating picture of present-day Iraq. Some “highlights” follow:

Iraq may be getting close to what Americans call ‘the Saigon moment’, the time when it becomes evident to all that the government is expiring. “They say that the killings and kidnappings are being carried our by men in police uniforms and with police vehicles,” said the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari with a despairing laugh to me earlier this summer. “But everybody in Baghdad knows that the killers and kidnappers are real policemen.”

It is getting worse. The Iraqi army and police are not loyal to the state. If the US army decides to confront the Shia militias it could well find Shia military units from the Iraqi army cutting the main American supply route between Kuwait and Baghdad. One convoy was stopped at a supposedly fake police checkpoint near the Kuwait border earlier this month and four American security men and an Austrian taken away.

The US and British position in Iraq is far more of a house built on sand than is realized in Washington or London despite the disasters of the last three-and-a-half years. President Bush and Tony Blair show a unique inability to learn from their mistakes, largely because they do not want to admit having committed any errors in the first place…

Everything in Iraq is dominated by what in Belfast we used to call “the politics of the last atrocity”. All three Iraqi communities – Shia, Sunni and Kurdish – see themselves as victims and seldom sympathize with the tragedies of others. Every day brings its gruesome discoveries. Earlier this month I visited Mosul, the capital of northern Iraq that has a population of 1.7 million people of whom about two thirds are Sunni Arabs and one third Kurds. It not the most dangerous city in Iraq but it is still a place drenched in violence. A local tribal leader called Sayid Tewfiq from the nearby city of Tal Afar told me of a man from there who went to recover the tortured body of his 16-year old son. The corpse was wired to explosives that blew up killing the father so their two bodies were buried together…

An expert on the politics of Iraq and Lebanon recently said to me: “The most dangerous error in the Middle East today is to believe that the Shia communities in Iraq and Lebanon are pawns of Iran.”

But this is exactly what the prime minister does believe. The fact that the largest Shia militia in Iraq – the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al- Sadr – is anti-Iranian and Iraqi nationalist is conveniently ignored. These misconceptions are important in terms of practical policy because they give support to the dangerous myth that if the US and Britain could only frighten or square the Iranians and Syrians then all would come right as their Shia cats-paws in Iraq and Lebanon would inevitably fall into line. In a very British way [and American too, of course. Editors] opponents of the war in Iraq have focused not on current events but on the past sins of the government in getting us into the war. No doubt it was all very wrong for Downing Street to pretend that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction and was a threat to the world when they knew he was not. But this emphasis on the origins of the war in Iraq has diverted attention from the fact that, going by official statements, the British government knows no more about what was going on in Iraq in 2006 than it did in 2003. The picture Blair paints of Iraq seldom touches reality at any point. For instance he says Iraqis ‘voted or an explicitly non-sectarian government,’ but every Iraqi knows that the vote in two parliamentary elections in 2005 went wholly along sectarian and ethnic lines. The polls were the starting pistol for the start of the civil war.

Blair [and Howard and Bush] steadfastly refuses to accept the fact that opposition to the American and British occupation of Iraq has been the main cause of the insurgency. 

Read the whole thing.

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YouTube of the day

A small section (slightly edited) of the famed debate between Norman Finkelstein and Alan Dershowitz:

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We know nothing


(Thanks to Daily Flute)

For more on one of Australia’s greatest scandals, see here, here and here.

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Begging bowl

Following the recent revelations of former SAS officer Peter Tinley over the immorality of the Iraq war, he added more on last night’s ABC TV’s Lateline:

TONY JONES: The PM is as you’ve heard quite emphatic about the consequences of pulling out. He says it would be a coalition defeat, it would be a victory for the terrorists, it would cause immense instability in the Middle East. What do you say to those arguments?

MAJOR PETER TINLEY: I was always taught that if you make a mistake, you make amends. The reasons for going to war were wrong. It was morally bankrupt, the whole notion of us being there, so the pretext is wrong. If that’s the case, then we need to take good, hard, courageous decisions now to get out and get out whilst we can. This war will drag us in further and further. It’s a civil war and the power vacuum that was created as a result of this invasion is clearly at the feet of this Government.

The Australian government’s Iraq policy is completely dependent on Washington (and now Britain says it may keep troops in the country until 2016, hopefully at a time when Tony Blair has already faced charges of war crimes.)

There is little sweeter than watching the slowing disintegrating Bush administration virtually begging for Iranian and Syrian assistance to handle the “new phase” in Iraq.

Marvel at the lessening of US influence in the Middle East.

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