The Constitutional Threat Posed By The Intelligence World

According to America's Director of National Intelligence, this man is a Russian agent.

According to America’s Director of National Intelligence, this man is a Russian agent.

The Iraq war saw British and American intelligence agencies fabricate and misrepresent evidence to justify an invasion in a process in which British and American governments were complicit. It worked perfectly well. Politicians and spooks reached into the magic hat called “intelligence” and pulled out whatever claims they needed. No one else was allowed to see into the hat, and those few people who had seen inside it would go to prison if they told you what was really in there.

None of that is honestly disputed by serious and sensible people. It has been the subject of much concern. However, most of this concern has been outward facing. That is to say, it has focused on the war’s disastrous and criminal effects upon the Middle East. Focused internally, this concern never developed much beyond a hatred of neoconservatives and corporate media. People never examined the constitutional impact of this “magic hat”, perhaps because it was felt the episode was a one-off. Sadly, as manifestly egregious as this process was, it was not a singular event. It is a built-in feature of the Western world. It’s an intrinsic capacity which cannot be removed without fundamentally altering the country we live in. Given what is currently happening in the US, it is absolutely vital that the constitutional impact of this system is considered as soon as possible.

The Hillary Clinton camp spent much of her doomed campaign blaming Vladimir Putin for Trump’s electoral successes, a deception which intensified once the election was decided. This dishonest Russia-bashing reflects terribly on the sort of President Hillary would have been, and in truth I am glad that she lost.But the important point is this: the intended effect of claiming Russia somehow rigged the election is not to vilify Putin. It is to de-legitimize a domestic democratic election. And like Blair and Bush, Hillary has been able to count on spooks in high places to back up fanciful claims.

The Director Of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper issued an official statement this Friday that Russia somehow hacked the US election result. Here is the statement.  Clapper was the same DNI who lied to the US Congress in order to conceal America’s mass surveillance programme (it was Clapper’s false testimony which prompted Edward Snowden to leak the truth). Like all politically helpful spooks in high places, Clapper has gone entirely without punishment for his crime, because that is simply what happens.

The system, or mechanism, which facilitated the Iraq War is not just alive and well. Its resources and powers have grown phenomenally. It is to Britain’s credit that the same thing has not happened here – yet. But it will. The political class tried to de-legitimize  the last two leadership elections of the Labour Party in a way that is broadly similar to the way the political class in America are trying to defeat the President Elect. Those hundreds of thousands of incoming Labour members who voted for Jeremy Corbyn were hailed as anti-Semitic Trotskyist infiltrators, and while I am relieved that our own intelligence agencies were not a driving force in this, they did leave a footprint or two.

Any political party that wants to earn the trust of the electorate needs to make the politicisation of the intelligence services an urgent matter of reform. Western intelligence services have been influencing elections abroad for generations. It is only a matter of time until the chickens come home to roost.

 

 

 

 

 

Parliament’s failure to investigate Tony Blair

Montesquieu: as naive as any other anglophile.

Montesquieu: as naive as any other anglophile.

Every single mainstream media outlet has today reported that a Parliamentary motion to investigate Tony Blair for misleading Parliament in order to win support for the invasion of Iraq has been defeated by 439 votes to 70.

In reality the motion put forward by the SNP was, contrary to all media reports, modest in the extreme. You may read all 145 words of it here: it is fourth on the prayers list. It amounts to little more than an appeal for the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which is currently examining the “lessons learned” from the Chilcot Inquiry, to pay particular attention to the misleading information Tony Blair gave to Parliament. That is all.

Some commentators have argued the thumping defeat of this motion by both Labour and the Conservatives reflects nothing more than the animosity both share towards the SNP. That argument could be true, which I very much doubt, and it would still reflect appallingly on the British Parliament. Probably it is no more then the reflexive apologia emitted by the mainstream media whenever a story demands they condemn the establishment.

Every single qualifying law degree in the UK has a public law module, and as far as I am aware, every single one of these public law modules teaches the importance of the separation of powers in maintaining any constitutional system. The executive, the legislature, and the judiciary must be independent. Indeed, their independence has been accepted since the days of Montesquieu. Well, it is about time this error was corrected.

Our legislature does not hold our executive to account. This mechanism, it it ever worked at all, has by now comprehensively failed. One may argue about the precise importance and validity of the reasons why it has failed, but its failure is incontestable. One could talk about party politics, and the payroll vote, and so on. Much has been said about these matters by commentators far more expert than I. But since the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour has possessed the biggest membership of any political party in Europe, and I am sure this membership is, for the largest part, adamant that Blair receives the fullest possible condemnation for his singular role in the invasion of Iraq. Despite this, they cannot convince their parliamentary members, including Corbyn himself, to vote accordingly.

It is about time the textbooks were rewritten, otherwise law will become an academic subject as untrustworthy as economics. Parliament does not hold the government to account. Far from it. Parliament is a kind of public theatre where parties compete to appear equally credible to a corporate media. Peter Oborne was correct to write that there is now a political class. For those of us outside this class, our chief task lies in removing it, and the system that upholds it. Whatever we may individually believe, whether we are left-wing or right-wing, Brexit or remain, Sanders or Trump: we have to rescue our representative democracies from the fatal grip of the political class.

 

Corbyn, Len McCluskey, conspiracy theory, and Omar Wahid

Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite, raised eyebrows this week when he speculated that MI5 might be conspiring to tarnish the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. This was news to me. Admittedly, I don’t bother with Twitter, but as far as I could see, these slurs were entirely the work the Parliamentary Labour Party and their supporters. Anything that has been construed as vaguely threatening was instantly reported as death threat, and blamed on Corbyn, such is the authoritarian crybullying of Labour’s professional political class. The hand of the deep state, as far as I could see, was neither needed nor apparent… until this Sunday.

Firstly it must be said, because McCluskey’s comments have roused scorn in certain quarters, that anybody with the least knowledge of the trade union movement (or the intelligence services, for that matter) will know there is absolutely no question that during the Cold War it was infiltrated by police and the security service, working either as informants, agents, undercover officers, and agent provocateurs. This infiltration occurred over many, many years and sometimes at the highest levels. For example: Brian Nicholson, the former president of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and a close ally of Neil Kinnock, was an MI5 informant. And Roger Windsor, the NUM’s chief executive during the miner’s strike, was regularly seeing a young woman called Stella Rimington. Len McCluskey spoke from institutional experience.

On the other hand, the PLP, in their effort to force Corbyn out, have really revealed their true colours. Accounts of death threats, hostility, aggression, violence, anti-Semitism, and Islamism have been fabricated in order to accuse the rank and file of their own party. Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire, who, when tweeted by a Bristol University student to “get in the sea”, reported it as a death threat – because “this person has just told me to drown and I believe that is a threat to kill”. Angela Eagle’s stalking-horse leadership bid had its launch meeting cancelled by the venue when the hotel she booked discovered who she was: her team blamed the change of venue on death threats from Corbyn supporters. She claimed Corbyn supporters bricked her office window: one window in the block her office occupied was broken in the middle of the night. It opened onto a communal stairway. Naturally, as New Labour do to everything, they turned it into a photo op.

"No, use the Vote Remain poster, it sends a better message."

“Use the Vote Remain poster, it sends a better message.”

Many politicians do this sort of thing nowadays, of course, it’s not just confined to Labour. After the vote on bombing Syria, the Tory MP for Telford, Lucy Allen, personally altered a Facebook message she’d received so she could tell everyone she’d been sent a death threat too. They’re all at it. Really we should be very worried that in an age of mass surveillance, detention without trial, and restricted speech our political class have decided that their biggest enemy is the electorate, but I digress. Can the deep state smear the Labour membership more malevolently than Labour MPs are? And why would they want to?

The alarmism of Labour MPs, no matter how dishonest and self-serving it is, forces the Security Service to do something. A few of these MPs are privy councillors. The defence of the realm comes into play. I realised the line had been crossed when I discovered that Omar Wahid had been pulled from his jihadi beat at the Mail on Sunday.

Wahid has filed nineteen pieces for the Mail since July 2015, although he has clearly written them for the MOD, SIS and MI5, who provide almost all of his sources and material. His output until now has been the usual propaganda about the dangers of Islamic extremism and how we’re defeating it both at home and in Middle East. Well not any more. Today the Mail printed two articles by Omar Wahid about Jeremy Corbyn supporters, whom Wahid described as another form of domestic extremism. You can read them here and here. The latter claims that Momentum is “described as Corbyn’s Praetorian Guard” (it doesn’t say by who); that it is “a hardline left-wing group” which has “secret links” with extremist Islamist organisations to “promote anti-Semitism” and “boost his support among Muslims.” It describes Momentum as a “cult-like cadre” having an “armed police” division and “a militant wing”. I have been to the odd Momentum meeting. Any Corbyn supporter – and there are a lot of them – knows that these articles are a disgrace. Yes, the Mail is a terrible right-wing paper, but what you must bear in mind is that Wahid is a client journalist of the intelligence community. This story comes from the same place as all his other stuff.

I don’t know how effective or widespread their efforts will be, but as regards the battle to take-down Corbyn, it’s clear the spooks now have some skin in the game.

*          *          *

On a similar note, I see that our state broadcaster has been rather selective of the footage it chose to use when reporting Corbyn’s leadership rally in Salford today. They used a shot which portrayed his audience at about twentieth of its actual size. Come to think of it they did the same thing when he spoke at Cardiff last year. I was reminded of what they did to the footage of the Battle of Orgreave. Labour’s problems today are far different to those it faced in the early eighties, contrary to what people might try and tell you, but the deep state has grown exponentially since then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Danczuk

“I’m a great admirer of The Sun, over the years it has carried out the kind of investigations into corruption in politics, business and sport which have shown British journalism at its finest. That is the reason it is the best read newspaper in the country.

For a long time it has been popular in Labour circles to criticise the tabloid press and in particular The Sun newspaper. There are those who look down on the red tops as “low-brow” and “sensationalist” and refuse to co-operate with their journalists. But I’m not one of them.

I believe The Sun at its best is not only a great newspaper but a national treasure and provides MPs like me with the opportunity to get our messages across to a wide audience.” Simon Danczuk, 25 November 2015.

danczuksun

He who sups with the devil needs a long spoon.

Why Hilary’s Deleted Emails Are More Dangerous Than Any Leak

“Beware he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.” Pravin Lal, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Firaxis Games.

 

Every foreign policy catastrophe has, at its root, secret diplomacy. Examples abound, yet we refuse to learn from them, and the same mistakes are repeated again and again, to terrible, illegal, counter-productive, and sometimes genocidal effect. The most important thing we could demand of our politicians is transparency, but recent events show that if anything, we are moving further away from it, and into an era of secrecy, elitism, and obfuscation.

Secret diplomacy is generally considered to be one of the fundamental causes of the First World War. As it drew to its murderous close, US President Woodrow Wilson drew up fourteen points as a blueprint for a permanent world peace, first among which was a ban on private diplomacy. The world needed “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view”. The principle became a founding covenant of the League of Nations.

It was too late for Wilson to undo the damage caused by that secret diplomacy which had occurred during the war itself. The worst of this affected a region which is still reeling from the trauma: the Middle East. The Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration were both drawn up behind closed doors. Inevitably, the Great War also saw a great amount of propaganda too. Propaganda and secret diplomacy are co-dependent, because covert rationales can never be publicly exposed, and so additional motives must be manufactured. In this regard too, the Great War foreshadowed the future.

In my own lifetime, secret diplomacy was rife, and continues to shape events like never before. The countless assassinations and coups and proxy wars of the Cold War were all the product of secret diplomacy. None bode well. But since the War on Terror, secret diplomacy has exploded. In fact, the harbinger event of our current age, 9/11, has a foreign policy component which continues to be deliberately concealed at the highest level: the role of Saudi Arabia.

Then came the invasion of Iraq, an act of secret diplomacy writ large. The truth behind it remains impenetrable, we can only be certain it was never enacted for the reasons proposed to the public. Naturally, as with all secret diplomacy, the key decisions were all made in a very tight circle, whose members refuse to reveal their true deliberations. All of this is now notorious. A quick (British) sketch would include the “sofa cabinet” of Tony Blair, which refused to take minutes; the use of ministerial veto by Jack Straw to prevent publication of what minutes were taken; the refusal by the Cabinet Office to release the minutes of conversations between Blair and Bush in the build-up to war; the concealment of exhaustive intelligence that disproved Blair’s assertion that Saddam Hussein was developing WMD. In America the situation was even graver.

This terrible secrecy became entrenched to the extent that those who breached it, or even alleged it existed, either lost their jobs or were prosecuted as criminals. David Kelly, of course, is an example which is close to my heart, but there are many others. Civil servant David Keogh and MP’s researcher Leo O’Connor were both jailed simply for passing minutes of a 2004 Bush-Blair meeting to O’Connor’s MP (who, to his undying shame, dobbed them in to Downing Street and Special Branch). The content of the memo they passed on has never been made public, but it is believed to relate to future planned war crimes, such as bombing the media offices of a respected broadcaster in a neutral country. It is, at the time I write this, still illegal in the UK to suggest that the secret trial of Keogh and O’Connor proved that Bush and Blair supported bombing Al Jazeera’s branch in Qatar.

One decision from this episode I find particularly curious is Coalition Provisional Authority Order Two, which disbanded the Iraqi military. Nobody has owned up to this. It was the first thing Paul Bremer did when Bush appointed him Presidential Envoy. Bremer has said only that he worked it out with the Pentagon, and considering Bremer’s only line manager was superhawk neocon Donald Rumsfeld, it seems likely that that Rummy was instrumental. But Rumsfeld isn’t talking, and George Bush has even said he can’t remember why they did it. What is tantalising about this disastrous decision is the light it shines, namely that the ultimate geopolitical aim of Operation Iraqi Freedom was to destroy Iraq as a sovereign nation. This is exactly what Saddam and most Iraqis believed the West always intended, and history has borne them out.

Although it remains intrinsically self-defeating, secret diplomacy has only accelerated since the fall of Baghdad. On one side we have a wall of silence and lies, on the other we have empirical reality and the odd leak. A case in point would be what Seymour Hersh reported as “the redirection”, whereby America presaged its withdrawal from Iraq by covertly fomenting Sunni sectarianism not just in Iraq (where it also boosted the Kurds) but also in Syria and Lebanon, thereby ensuring the impossibility of a stable, democratic Iraq. This began with an informal meeting of inner-circle Bush-era neocons, presided over by Elliott Abrams, architect of some earlier eighties secret diplomacy known as Iran-Contra. Faced with the stark truth that secret diplomacy hadn’t worked, they concluded this was simply because it hadn’t been secret enough, and “the redirection” was confined almost entirely to the Vice President’s office. Even the spooks were frozen out.

Fast forward to Hilary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, during which she used a private server, which allowed her, when State Department officials asked for copies of her emails, to delete about 30,000 of them. Hilary’s private server was a deliberate and very blatant circumvention of American law. Those emails are gone. They will never be subpoenaed by Congress. They will never be collected by the National Archives and Records Administration. I suspect that like the Nixon with his tapes, Hilary cannot bring herself to bin them entirely, but for the purposes of everyone else in the world, they are no more. This sets a disastrous precedent. It is the precise opposite of what Woodrow Wilson advised in the aftermath of the world’s worst ever war.

Consider where we have come to. There is something called the truth. There is something called democracy. At home or abroad, effective government policy has to rest on both those points. Yet whenever anyone (often through enormous sacrifice) drags some element of the foreign policy sphere towards either, they are branded traitors, and/or mentally ill. As with that terrible Assange biopic, they are accused of “stealing” secrets. But they haven’t stolen them, they have only given them to us, to history and the world. The information is still there, in its classified silo. They are accused of endangering lives, or worse, but every time these accusations are made they are swiftly rebutted by fact.

Wherever you stand on Assange and Snowden and Manning et all, you must concede this: the whistleblower who hands you a memo is a far lesser worry than the warmonger who burns it behind closed doors. There isn’t a single plaintiff whose life has been endangered by the revelations of Wikileaks and Snowden, but there are bodies falling in Libya and Syria and Yemen and the Ukraine every day, and I do not know if our true role in these crises will ever be officially disclosed. History is set to become a very challenging discipline if chunks of it can now be routinely deleted.

 

 

 

Ending “the easy ride” for the “workshy”: Britain in 2015

I blogged some weeks ago about what the general election told us about English communitarianism. The prevailing social attitude, at least as reflected in political announcements, corporate media, and election results, is that we are all suffering economically because Britain has too many lazy poor people, who are sponging too much money. “Lazy” and “poor” are of course synonymous adjectives, because poverty is seen to reflect moral weakness, an attitude that has prevailed in this country ever since the Protestant Reformation (and I would further argue that Proddie predeterminism is more inhumane than the Catholic concept of original sin). In any case, here’s one of the Labour leadership candidates, proving my point:

“Labour warning by Andy Burnham – You will not win if you give the workshy an easy ride.”

Burnham is the favourite to win, and his rivals are no different. So that’s that. Politics in England is going to be about “punching down”, or blaming poor people, for the foreseeable future. And it will take a seminal, monumentous event to change that – an earthquake that comes from outside the Westminster consensus, possibly from beyond the borders of Britain itself. Either that or complete political meltdown.

However much of society as we know it – the NHS, and the civic spirit of 1945 in general – will be left standing when the next political cycle begins is anybody’s guess. But Britain has met its biggest enemy: ourselves.

“The people.”

We’re doing far better at destroying the country than any Islamist terrorist. Those guys lack vision.

More on English Communitarianism

Once you perceive communitarianism to be the dominant ethos in English political culture, you start seeing it everywhere. As has been extensively reported, the new Tory government is rushing to pass even more draconian anti-terror legislation.

“For too long,” Cameron announced, “we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.’”

The people of Britain will lose even more freedom of expression, and even more of their privacy, all to target “extremism”. Really any sane person could write at length about the myriad dangers and multiple stupidities this legislation presents, but the question remains, exactly what is extremism? Radio 4’s Today programme asked the Home Secretary, Theresa May, the very same question. May could not answer.

“People who seek to divide us” was one of her attempts. “People who seek to undermine British values” was another. “We are together as one society, as One Nation,” she added.

That is, plainly, the language and atittude of communitarianism. Question, division, doubt: these things can not be tolerated. Ironically, the real impetus for all this truly awful legislation is probably our subservience to America, but that’s another matter. The government’s justifications show how Britain and British politics works.

Communities (whether real or imagined) are justified and defined by the external threats (whether real or imagined) they resist. Labour’s campaign error was to see threats which were internal. The Tories are, cunningly, effectively creating one which sits outside the electorate. There will be arrests, of course. Many, many arrests. But actual danger? There has been less and less of that since 7/7, and nothing to justify laws like this.

“We just wanna be togevva,” as that bloke used to say, in the advert for that building society. Remember building societies? We have lost what made us truly communitarian. Now we are just a tangle of fears and desires, drifting on a sea of lies.

 

EDIT TO ADD: See also Charles Moore’s post-election editorial in The Telegraph. “Over the past five years, in Britain as a whole, we have learnt how a country that forgets to defend itself properly starts to lose a sense of its identity. In the next five years, that sense must be restored.” Italics mine.

The 2015 General Election: English Communitarianism at work

I have finally reached an understanding about the election result. England is not socialist, obviously. So what is it? England is essentially communitarian. Despite how the word sounds, there is a fierce difference between socialism and communitarianism. The values of communitarianism, and the values of England, which are both far older than either socialism or the industrial revolution, are roughly to do with conformism and shared identity. You are who you are because of your standing and relationships within an acknowledged group. In today’s Britain the community is largely imaginary, but the principles and dynamics of communitarianism still stand. Everyone must know their place. Everyone must pull their weight. Everyone must take their due, and no more: communitarianism holds there is a common treasury, a ‘pot’ to which all members are entitled a share (which is reflective of communitarianism’s agrarian origins). Some people get a bigger share than others, of course, but that’s because they are perceived to hold important roles in the (mutually imagined) community.

I am now convinced, on reflection and further reading, that the election result principally reflected the communitarian notion that certain people had been taking more than they were due, and the majority voted to stop it. It is the first election in my lifetime to have been influenced by such an ethos, but I am convinced that this is what swung it. Benefit scroungers; immigrants; whining lefties; champagne socialists; the professional political class (being predominantly upper class affords the Tories the illusion that they are uninfluenced by the material gain inherent in folding power); the nagging, nanny state non-job holders of New Labour; the whole gamut of types and stereotypes which dot our social landscape, this is what England gave the heave-ho on the 7th of May. This is what accounts for the majority Tory government, and UKIP’s 3.8 million too.

This analysis explains why the Lib Dems lost ground to the Tories: because they revealed themselves to be pointless parasites. The Tories, on the other hand, offer a kind of patriotic nobless oblige which the communitarian has Brit has always respected.  It was probably little different in Anglo-Saxon times. Everyone from Labour leftwards would only have continued to hand out more money to the people and phantoms listed above, who are perceived as taking more than their due.

Yes, the economy is struggling. But England did not want to go after the bankers, the rich, or the powerful. They have always been there, in their towers and castles and mansions. Every community, real or imagined, has always had its inequalities. Instead, England went after a demographic which was comparatively new: that element of society which Atlee and Bevan’s 1945 welfare state was created to protect. England went after the people it thought weren’t pulling their weight. Read the language used in the comments sections of the major news websites, it’s saturated with this sort of language.

When the right-wing Englander talks about the economy and the budget and “living within our means”, he is complaining about people who he thinks are working less (or less usefully) than him, but somehow get to be happier. He has no bugbear with the City. They work long hours in the City, after all. It’s hard to get a job there. It’s socially elite.

Communitarian England rejects the food bank, for example, as a fraud perpetrated against the gullible by the greedy and the lazy. It does not occur to the English communitarian that the rich can be greedy and lazy too. Rich people wear suits fifty or sixty hours a week. They get up early in the morning and strut around the place talking knowledgeably about business and capital and the future. They are the ones who pay you, and you need their pay. It doesn’t matter that they risk nothing and contribute less. Those issues are impossible to discuss or accept, because simply asking such questions requires perspective that you cannot obtain from within the community – and the one thing the communitarian can never question is the community itself.

Which is why anybody who has read Marx will never be at home in England.

 

FOOTNOTE: The observation that England is communitarian was first made, to my knowledge, by the popular philosopher Julian Baggini in his book Welcome To Everytown: A Journey Into The English Mind (Granta, 2007). The book rests on an interesting concept: Baggini worked out, statistically, which was the most average part of England, and then went and lived there for a year. And thus Baggini, an upper-middle-class sort from Clifton in Bristol, ended up in Rotherham. This was before we all found out about the Rotherham grooming scandal, and actually I cannot remember if the book addresses immigration and ethnicity at all. Suffice to say, if Rotherham is indeed England’s Everytown, it’s not surprising that the English are deeply concerned about immigration – or more precisely, integration. Integration is a vital part of communitarianism, after all.

Miliband and Syria: No UN resolution needed

I was suprised to hear Ed Miliband, during the five leaders debate, claim that he represented a break from Blairist Atlanticism because he had privately told Cameron that he would refuse to bomb Syria without a UN resolution. Has Labour finally learnt the lessons of the past? Labour apologists like Owen Jones think so, describing Milliband as “a dramatic rupture with the bomb-happy leadership of Tony Blair.”

The truth, sadly, suggests otherwise, as Gabriel Carlyle’s letter in the Guardian makes clear:

“[Virtually all] of Labour’s list of requirements for supporting military action in 2013 ‘appear[ed] in the government’s own motion’ (Malcolm Rifkind), and Miliband himself explained that he was prepared to back military action without a UN resolution. As Jonathan Steele observed, ‘Cameron and Miliband used dubious legal grounds to try to justify bypassing a veto in the UN security council by saying western military strikes were needed to protect Syrians’.”

Quite. When, during the same debate, Miliband went on to outline the importance of resisting Russian military aggression (or some such formulation), I realised that Labour’s US-flavoured militarism – and dishonesty – is still firmly in place.

 

2015: A Year of Blow-back Beckons

If the Charlie Hebdo shootings signify anything, it’s that the year ahead will be one of blow-back for Western foreign policy. Despite the bold assertions of Obama’s State of the Union address, the high tide mark of Western influence has been reached. Ponder what is currently happening at home and abroad, and consider the context.

The so-called “Arab Spring” delivered the opposite of what our pundits and politicos promised. After a Western-sponsored coup d’etat Egypt is now a military dictatorship busily jailing and executing the elected Muslim Brotherhood it displaced. Meanwhile, GCC sponsorship and a NATO bombing campaign has turned Libya into a violent Islamist basket-case. In Yemen, despite widespread popular unrest, Saudi-puppet President Saleh hung on to power, ruling from Riyadh. Eventually his vice-president succeeded him, a man of almost identical political leanings, with what is claimed to be 99.8% of the vote (he was the only candidate in the election).

In Bahrain the government simply blamed the Shia for the uprisings and sprayed the protestors with bullets, torturing more than a few and cracking down on any sort of free speech and political assembly, a process which continues to this day. The Bahraini King did establish an Independent Commission of Inquiry to look into it all, which did confirm that yes, widespread human rights abuses from torture up to murder had taken place. It then suggested “recommendations” which would “improve accountability and bring government practice into line with international standards”. A tyrannical massacre was thus reduced to a matter of management, practices and standards. Bahrain’s Commission was such a staggering example of cynical state arrogance that I am sure it could only have been suggested by the mandarins of the British civil service.

In Tunisia alone things worked out reasonably well but the worst of the Arab Spring took place, of course, in Syria, where a brutal dictatorship had a long history of meeting popular uprisings with bloody suppression. The leaders there stood their ground, and what happened next revealed the true dynamics behind this so-called Arab Spring: the demonstrators turned out to be foreign-paid or foreign-born Islamist guerrillas with no central agenda, manifesto, or negotiating platform. Western media repeatedly and consistently misreported this fact, spreading instead all-too-familiar disinformation about WMD and human rights, and clinging to the manufactured Manichean narrative of good-democratic-Western-minded freedom fighters versus evil Arab dictator.

The reality is that Syria’s foreign-sponsored civil war made the incumbent government truly popular amongst the people who actually had to live in the country. Assad went from being a dictator to an elected president, one who had voluntarily disarmed his country of WMD under international supervision, and who was tabling substantial domestic reform. In contrast his opponents, those we pay and support, were silent, squabbling killers posting crazy YouTube videos. We know them now as the Islamic State. The idea that we could ever productively support a credible “moderate resistance” in Syria was either a fig-leaf to cloak our anti-democratic alliance with the Emiratis, or utter stupidity.

For those who could see all this, Kiev’s Euromaidan was simply the opening of a new front. Moscow had been one of Assad’s key supporters; Putin had been clear that Russia would veto any UN proposal for Western air strikes against the country. Russia had by then learnt the lessons of Libya: apparently we hadn’t. Thus the States, Israel, and the Emiratis lent their unconditional support to whoever promised they could shift the Ukraine out of its Russian orbit, a task almost as impossible and destructive as forcefully dislodging Gaddafi or Assad or Saddam. They were driven by the same “levitating self-confidence” (as John Le Carre put it) which saw them invade Iraq. Now, as will generally happen when you decide to challenge observable reality, everything is unravelling. Can we really insist it is perfectly legitimate to fund guerrillas in Syria, against an elected President, and at the same time isolate Russia on the grounds (for which we provide no evidence) that it is funding resistance fighters on its own doorstep? Fighters, one might add, who are resisting an unconstitutional government, and who are acting in pursuit of regional self-determination? It’s utter nonsense. Obama has no right to speak of advancing democracy in the Ukraine. Territorial integrity, perhaps, but no more.

The underlying point is that the West and its proxies have failed. Inevitably. Assad is staying, at least until his third seven year term expires in 2021. If social media is anything to go by, the chatter I’ve picked up suggests that Syrians are now more concerned with Lebanon and Iran than with the dwindling proponents of the Civil War, which is now in endgame, something that may be reflected in Israel’s airstrike against Iranian brigadier general Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi. Terrorist bombings will continue, but recede to what the Royal Ulster Constabulary used to call “a tolerable degree of violence”.  Meanwhile IS will hold on to Iraq’s Sunni Triangle, which will become a dwindling pocket of heavily bombed jihadis. The House of Saud’s proposed security wall is a trick borrowed from Israel, and reveals not just a similar siege mentality, but the unspoken alliance which now exists between the Arab monarchies and the Zionist project. That alliance is one aspect of an over-arching change, further seen in the news that Saudia Arabia is re-opening its Embassy in Baghdad after a period of twenty-five years (that it didn’t open one during the American occupation is telling).

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how high the Saudis build their wall. Acceptance of Assad is inevitable, as is rapprochement with Iran. As rapprochement nears, the propaganda against it will grow ever more ridiculous (see for example this piece of abject fantasy in Der Speigel). But it will happen. Then, in a process which has already started, a few hundred active, armed Islamist jihadis will return to their native Europe. Until now the West has either covertly facilitated or deliberately ignored their activities, because they were aligned to foreign policy goals. When the GCC realise Iran isn’t a threat, and the Emiratis reach an accomodation with Tehran,the only purchase anyone will have on these people will be their government handlers – assuming they had any.

Officially, the War on Terror has gone on for fourteen years, but these networks present something new. Until now, those Muslims arrested by British police for UK terrorism offences have generally been entrapped halfwits guilty of little more than saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, or downloading a dodgy PDF. The calibre of Islamist now returning from the Middle East is quite different. Consequently we will see an even greater reduction in our human rights and civil liberties: witness John Sawers’ witless appeal for The End Of The Internet As We Know It. While some of this blather is probably retrospective justification for collection techniques already underway, if there is anything more they can grab, the intelligence community will take it. Secrecy will become the new privacy, and not everyone will be able to afford it.

Much has been written about the increasing militarisation of US police departments, particularly in the US, where social division and material inequality only worsened during the country’s first black Presidency. The tear gas and Pentagon-supplied armoured vehicles of Ferguson are a symptom of this. Remember, this was a country that responded to the flooding of New Orleans by building impromptu prison camps. The American state is terrified of large public protest; as terrified as the Gulf monarchies, probably. The UK government isn’t that much different. From 2005 to 2010 they banned protest anywhere within half a mile of Westminster.

The reason the American government is so senstive about this is because they have spent the last two decades paying for “colour revolutions” in countries of interest, not just covertly but overtly, through the National Endowment for Democracy. Similarly, the Emiratis have been paying for the boots-on-the-ground in Libya and Syria and parts of Iraq, and look what they’ve achieved. There is a general strategy here.

Supposedly, we have spent the years since 9/11 making the Middle East safe for democracy. We have failed. Instead, we have become much more like the Gulf monarchies we prop up. Our democracies have grown brittle and autocratic. Our governments are unrepresentative. Our media is supine and craven. Our institutions are hollowed out. Our societies are divided by caste. This is the blow back of our long War on Terror: we have finally created an environment conducive to real terrorism.