Seymour Hersh, the death of Bin Laden, and the New Orthodoxy

The Zero Dark Thirty narrative rests on a cocktail of troublesome inconsistencies and propagandistic lies. The news, which will surely not come as a suprise to anyone remotely objective, comes from Seymour Hersh. Hersh has been a formidable journalist ever since his exclusive with the junior field officer reasponsible for the Mai Lai massacre, and he has always been known to boast superb CIA contacts. Perhaps these contacts may be getting on a bit now, perhaps they may be slightly biased towards the Agency over other institutions, perhaps, like all human sources, they are never entirely neutral nor 100% accurate. Nevertheless, Hersh is the best old-school spook writer in the business. He warned us, last year, that this story was coming, and this month he delivered.

Seymour Hersh

Seymour Hersh (AP)

It’s an interesting article, although it doesn’t contain any knock-out revelations. It’s more a collection of smaller exposures: President Obama and the White House press machine deliberately lied about the assassination, repeatedly, to the public and Pakistan. For example: the US did not determine Bin Laden’s location through torture, but from a Pakistani walk-in, who was probably acting in accordance with the wishes of Pakistani intelligence. Bin Laden was an unarmed invalid when he was shot. There was no resistance. His death yielded no actionable intelligence. His killing was supposed to be secret, instead it became “political theatre designed to burnish Obama’s military credentials”. And so on, and so on.

An interesting read, but not especially explosive.  I think the reason Hersh sat on the story for so long is because he was hoping to piece more of it together, in particular Bin Laden’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Sadly Hersh doesn’t appear to have nailed this, but what is just as interesting, for those interested in seeing the New Orthodoxy in action, is the reception Hersh is getting from many of his journalistic peers (or people who aspire to be). Inevitably, Hersh’s refusal to support the line unquestioningly pushed by mainstream media has seen him branded a conspiracy theorist. This is despite the fact that Hersh isn’t pushing a theory. He is simply deconstructing a narrative.

In many cases his “debunkers” clearly haven’t read or understood the central claims of his 10,000 word article, or else they are deliberatebly misrepresenting them. This episode reveals the true nature of today’s American press corps, and illimunates what “conspiracy theory” really means.

Hersh split from his previous magazine, the New Yorker, because of the New Orthodoxy. Citing some excellent sources, Hersh wrote that the evidence Assad’s forces has used CW inside Syria was, at best, ambiguous, whereas the rest of the mainstream media, and the entire Western potitical establishment, had claimed it was irrefutable. The New Yorker spiked the piece and Hersh ended up at the LRB, which was when the New Orthodoxy first started to label him a conspiracy theorist. Doubt can no longer be tolerated.

The Economist now supports regime change in Russia

The leader in the latest Economist (the cover of which displays yet another “evil Putin mastermind” image) has made it pretty clear where the magazine stands on Russia.

“…the West should use every available means to help ordinary Russians, including Russian-sympathisers in the Baltics and Ukraine, learn the bloody, venal truth about Mr Putin. It should let them know that Russia, a great nation dragged down a terrible path, will be embraced when it has rulers who treat the world, and their own people, with respect not contempt, however long that takes.”

It’s a ridiculous and contemptible article, filled with faux-concern for hypothetical “good Russians” (those who want Western integration) while full of doom-laden, fear-mongering invective against the figurehead of Putin himself.

Part of the reason the Russian people no longer want Western integration is because magazines like The Economist publish articles like this. They understand what the West really means when it says integration – it means roll over and die, but hand over your markets and mineral resources first.

The vast majority of humanity understand that the world’s greatest military danger is Washington, not Moscow.

I am struggling to understand how this article came to be written.

Russia-bashing on May Day

May Day is significant for a number of reasons. A traditional Spring holiday in many agrarian cultures, it has since the Second International been designated as  International Workers’ Day. In over a hundred countries around the world it is officially recognised as a state holiday to celebrate the debt society owes to its labouring classes. Appropriately enough, it also marks the end of Nazi Europe, because in 1944 the first of May saw the last full day’s fighting between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht in the streets of Berlin. The iconic photograph of a Red Army soldier hoisting the hammer and sickle up the Reichstag roof was taken on May the second.

The day after May Day, Berlin, 1944. Close enough, Ivan.

The day after May Day, Berlin, 1944.

Here is how the BBC celebrated May Day this year. The day marks not socialism, nor the end of the Nazi Regime, nor Soviet and Allied victory, but “the most infamous rape in history”. The Rape Of Berlin, the accompanying documentary, aired on BBC World Service the day after. This was emphatically not a news story. It was a re-tread of material that had been extensively covered by popular historian Antony Beevor in his 2002 book Berlin: The Downfall. It received widespread media coverage at the time, both in the BBC and the national press, even though it wasn’t exactly original research then either. There is nothing but anecdotal evidence to support the idea that Red Army soldiers raped a lot of German women after Berlin fell, but what evidence there is comes from Germans and Russians alike, and appears credible. I would not deny for a moment that it happened, and that it was widespread.

The rape of German woman by Red Army troopers is a perfectly valid historical subject, but it is not news, and this is the anniversary of many other important things too. It heralded the end of World War Two, and the thousands of rapes these soldiers probably committed were only one terrible episode in a series of larger atrocities. The Nazis killed almost twenty seven million Russians in their misbegotten blitzkrieg for lebensraum. The war they began, and the holocaust it accelerated, ended when the Red Army finished fighting its 1700 mile counter-attack from Stalingrad to Berlin. The Soviet Union lost 80,000 men during the Battle of Berlin alone. Why this attempt, at this time, to fix “The Rape of Berlin” in the popular consciousness?

The article and documentary above are the work of Lucy Ash, who happens to be the wife of John Kampfner. She began her radio career as a producer for the BBC’s Moscow bureau in 1990. Since the Euromaidan, Ash has reportedly extensively on developments in the Ukraine, from the usual MSM position that Russia is an aggressive, duplicitous, tyrannical, expansionist enemy to freedom and democracy, two values she inevitably portrays as inalienable Western traits. See, for example, here, here, and here (this last one is particularly interesting for those who believe the LGBT drive against the Winter Olympics constituted hypocritical, propagandist Russia-bashing fed by Washington-funded NGOs).

Lucy Ash, Professional Russophobe.

Lucy Ash, Professional Russophobe.

Ash subscribes to a weltanschauung in which the pro-Russian inhabitants of eastern Ukraine do not exist. They are something between victims and mannequins, behind which hide Putin’s covert commandos. Tweeting an Anne Applebaum article (unsurprisingly, she’s an Applebaum fan) Ash observes the Ukrainian civil war is an artificial construct, and that there is no history of ethnic conflict between the people of the Ukraine. How strange that Ash, with her abiding interest in Russia’s World War Two history, should appear ignorant of Stepan Bandera, and the neo-Nazis who now comprise the mainstay of Kiev’s military forces.

It is this selective and political viewpoint which underpins “The Rape of Berlin”. Ash managed to get her May Day Rape of Berlin story in the Daily Telegraph too, under her own by-line, where it was echoed by the paper’s Moscow correspondent Roland Oliphant. Olpihant reported from Moscow that this year’s May Day parade had a turnout of over 100,000. Events in the Ukraine, he wrote, had given it a certain flavour – many marchers wore the orange and black ribbons of St George, invoking military valour in defence of the Motherland. This was totally predictable, given that Kiev’s US-endorsed coup government is currently busy killing the Russian majority inhabiting its eastern regions. This, however, is not something Oliphant (or Ash) can admit to.

May Day in Russia, Oliphant insists, is merely “the beginning of a week of days off and general skiving that is the highlight of the working calendar”. More egregious still is Oliphant’s further insistence that May Day is only celebrated at all because “the cult of the Second World War” is “the nearest thing Vladimir Putin’s state has to an official ideology.” Plainly Oliphant, who hails from East Sussex, has never once witnessed the chest-beating way his own country, and his own paper, regard Britain’s sacrifices in both world wars.

Neither Oliphant, nor Ash, has reported that since the Kiev coup, May Day is now banned in the Ukraine, where the Communist and Socialist parties are now also banned, as was, briefly, the Russian language itself. But then anti-communism has always been one of the hallmarks of fascism.

After last year’s May Day, in Odessa, Ukrainian neo-nazis burnt forty-two pro-Russian trade unionists to death in their own headquarters while the police looked on and did nothing. Svobada‘s press office have said the party wants to celebrate that day – the 2nd of May, 2014 – as “a day of victory over the Kremlin terrorist groups, the day of purification from the Kremlin infection”. President Petro Poroshenko even told journalists that the Russians had secretly placed “toxic substances” in the Trade Unions House to increase the number of civilian deaths, and that the whole thing was a false flag. No one in the Western press has condemned Poroshenko as a conspiracy theorist, and it appears neither Oliphant nor Ash consider any of this relevant as regards their May Day reportage.

The fire in Odessa. Pic courtesy of the Fort Russ blog.

The fire in Odessa. Pic courtesy of the Fort Russ blog.

Perhaps if Lucy Ash is interested in the sexual crimes of World War Two soldiers, she might also like to investigate the millions of rapes committed by German soldiers during Operation Barbarossa, or the thousands of rapes committed by American GIs in Europe (estimates for this figure varying wildly between 11,ooo and 190,000). If Ash was feeling particularly reflective, she might like to ponder that mass rape has always been how the hegemonic state demonises its enemies, as was seen recently during NATO’s regime change in Libya. But none of that would serve the purposes of the New Orthodoxy.

 

EDIT TO ADD: This May Day, US-led air strikes in northern Syria killed “at least” 52 civilians. Perhaps Ash might also like to consider why the West can support anti-government forces in Syria but Moscow cannot support anti-government forces in Novorussia.

EDIT TO FURTHER ADD: Also this May Day, US-supported air strikes in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is trying to reinstall its unpopular puppet leader, hit a hospital and medical camp, killing at least 58 civilians and injuring at least 67. Again, perhaps Ash or some other proponent of the New Orthodoxy might care to explain how the Saudis can bomb another country in order to return its ousted dictator to power without a word of disagreement from the mainstream media.

Amerithrax, Deep State policing, and conspiracy theory

For four years former FBI Agent Richard L Lambert was nominally in charge of the Amerithrax investigation. Lambert now claims he has been dissmissed from his current job (senior counterintelligence officer at the Energy Department) because of his continued insistence that the Bureau deliberately mishandled the case. He is now suing the FBI, and for those who haven’t been paying attention, his court filings comprise a series of explosive revelations.

Richard Lambert, in his FBI days.

Richard Lambert, in his FBI days.

Those with long memories will recall that one week after 9/11, somebody started using the US postal service to send anthrax to unsuspecting and seemingly random journalists and politicians. As well as anthrax, the envelopes contained letters which identified the acts as Islamist terrorism (“Allah is great”, “death to America”, “death to Israel”, etc). Thus a bridge was established between this Islamist terrorism and WMD. This link became the keystone of the entire war on terror, and ultimately provided the rationale for invading Iraq. As I make clear in my biography of David Kelly, Dark Actors, the claims that Iraq possessed WMD always tended to centre around biological WMD (and specifically anthrax), because bioweapons are the easiest WMD to make, and can be produced with the least infrastructure, thus making them the hardest WMD to detect. Amerithrax, as this news story was called, helped point 9/11 very quickly to Iraq. By October corporate media was blaming Baghdad.

The anthrax accompanying this came from US military labs.

The anthrax accompanying this came from US military labs.

9/11 brought conspiracy theory to the fore. Hundreds of millions of people believed it was an inside job, a false flag operation to enable the next chapter of American foreign policy. Their numbers have doubtlessly dwindled, but the Truth movement, as it tends to call itself, is still going strong. It has been met with something that has not yet been named, but might be described as the New Orthodoxy. Essentially this was an elite and anti-populist tendency to a) brand all those who doubt the corporate media as conspiracy theorists whilst b) classifying conspiracy theory as a dangerous, destablizing, anti-Semitic force. Notable proponents of this New Orthodoxy in the UK are David Aaronovitch (see Voodoo Histories) and Nick Cohen (“Conspiracy theories led to the calamitous movements of communism and nazism.”) In the US, the legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who happens to be the husband of Samantha Power, argued that conspiracy theory is a catalyst for anti-state violence, and that the government should infiltrate conspiracy theory groups (Sunstein classes the 9/11 ‘Truthers’ as domestic extremists). Closer to home, Cambridge University’s Leverholme-funded Conspiracy and Democracy project may provide an institutional example of the New Orthodoxy (“Are conspiracy theories destroying democracy?”), although I hope not.

I don’t think the Truth movement has proven that 9/11 was an inside job. But Amerithrax was. It is possible to be incredibly specific about strains of anthrax – because they are bacterial, they have DNA. Additionally, there are the processing treatments the anthrax in these letters recevied, which reduces the number of sources even further. This anthrax was a very finely ground, dry powder, with every granule given an anti-static polyglass coating, and electrocharged to aid aerial dispersal. It was a designer bioweapon. The Bureau found it could only have been produced by the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, or the private sector Batelle Memorial Institute at Ohio.

Faced with this incontrovertible evidence, the guy the FBI evenutally went after was a harmless, community-minded, Roman Catholic juggler and Celtic music afficianado with thirty six years’ service as a biodefence researcher at USAMRIID in Maryland. Military scientists can be a very prickly bunch (I’ve met dozens of them) but Bruce Ivins seems to have been well regarded by almost everyone he worked with. The FBI let him know he was their chief suspect and the Bureau followed him, overtly and covertly, with great scrutiny.

The pressure must have been immense. From released transcripts, which make for tragic reading, its clear that his questioners leant on him hard. His children were bribed to testify against him, even if they could only provide the most circumstantial evidence. They refused. Ivins, who suffered from depression, was also seeing a counsellor, who did not refuse these inducements. Her co-operation with the FBI was not only a fundamental breach of patient confidentiality, it amounted to asking leading and incriminating questions during their therapy sessions, something I suspect Ivins came to realise. Ivins was also, according to some of the agents involved, a closet crossdresser (much like J. Edgar Hoover). Distressed and disturbed, he killed himself with a Tylenol overdose as a consqeuence of FBI harassment on the 29th of July, 2008. More than 200 of his co-workers attended his memorial.

I often thought of Ivins when I was writing the biography of David Kelly. The Oxfordshire scientist may have been mistreated by the state, but it was nothing compared to what the FBI did to Ivins.

Bruce Ivins RIP.

Bruce Ivins RIP.

“They took an innocent man, a distinguished scientist, and smeared his reputation, dishonored him, questioned his children and drove him to take his life,” one anonymous colleague told ABC News. “He just didn’t have the swagger, the ego to pull off that kind of thing, and he didn’t have the lab skills to make the fine powder anthrax that was used in the letters.”

(One might also wonder about the wisdom of letting a dangerous bioterrorist know full well they’re your chief suspect, but then that’s exactly what Agent Lambert did with the previous suspect, Steven Hatfill. Either Lambert’s team never wanted to build a viable case, and/or they believed themselves, from the outset, to be working against a highly organized conspiracy that involved elements of the intelligence community.)

As soon as Ivins committed suicide the FBI and the Department of Justice promptly announced that he was the Amerithrax terrorist and closed the case. Scrabbling for a likely motive, the Feds said Ivins held a patent on an anthrax vaccine he had developed, and hoped to make money from the resulting scare. This was nonsense: Ivins had helped develop it, but the money went to the US Military. In fact the entire case against Ivins was ridiculous and dishonest. The catalogue of lies, distortions, and errors is extensive, and far too long to go into here, but many decent people have made comprehensive rebuttals here, here and here.

Lambert says he is still sitting on a wealth of classified information, but the gist of his filings thus far make clear that he was ordered to make Ivins the chief suspect, and that head office repeatedly denied him staff and support to pursue any other avenues. He says the FBI hid vast amounts of evidence that showed Ivins was innocent, while leaking tangential pointers that Ivins could be guilty as definitive fact.

So, these are explosive revelations, but they will suprise few who have followed the case. After all, the argument for flase flag operations is not hard for certain quarters to morally support. For example: you want to start a war, you have accepted there will be a “blood price”, and you understand there is a risk of failure. Based on those terms, why should you shrink from paying that blood price before the war formally begins? Otherwise you might not get to have your war at all. When we understand what false flags are, when our media can acknowledge their existence, these operations will become far less effective. Perhaps one day we will mature.

In the meantime it is surely self-evident that the rise of conspiracy theory is not destroying democracy, but a symptom of its decline. The lessons of Bruce Ivins and Amerithrax are obvious, but I am not aware of a single MSM personality prepared to acknowledge them.

Where Are You, Steven Hayden?

I’m trying to find one Steven Hayden, a former Chief Petty Officer of the Royal Navy, who once lived in Purbrook in Hampshire. He had/has a family and would be around 47 years of age now.

If you know him, if you knew him, or if you are him, could you please drop me a line? I heard he was at Leydene in the early nineties, was then attached to Naval Intelligence for a spell, did some time in the Adriatic listening to Serbian comms, and was next posted up in Lincolnshire (New Waltham, maybe?). In 1997, if the Rumour Mill is grinding the right way, he was on HMS Beaver when it Crossed The Line. It would be good to hear any of that confirmed by someone real.

At the moment I’m not 100% sure the gentleman ever really existed, despite the fact he was tried in court. Well, to be clear, he pled guilty to (deep breath) “without lawful authority [making] a damaging disclosure of a document relating to security or intelligence which was in [his] possession by virtue of [his] position as a Crown servant”. He told the court he sold a classified warning about Iraqi anthrax to The Sun for £10,000.  If you have long enough memories, this was a ridiculous story about the Iraqi military attacking Britain by smuggling anthrax into the country via duty free bottles of alcohol and perfume.

'Saddam's Anthrax In Our Duty-Frees', 25 March '98. Utter bollocks.

‘Saddam’s Anthrax In Our Duty-Frees’. Utter bollocks.

“Because of the national security implications,” the BBC reported, “the details of the offence cannot be reported and were explained during a closed session.” Right. What could possibly have been sensitive about it? You can’t expect you can protect your source if you splash his (obviously duff) product over every docks and airport in the country. In truth the warning Hayden passed on was itself deliberate misinformation. It was supposed to be leaked to the media. That was why it had been written, and that was why it had been distributed as an all-ports bulletin. With perfect timing it hit the papers a few days before America planned to bomb Iraq in 1998, thereby generating a groundswell of supportive public opinion; a good little bit of psyops from somebody.

“Saddam Hussein is plotting to flood Britain with deadly anthrax disguised as duty-free goods,” blasted The Sun. “Saddam could kill the world. Before long, the boil on the world’s backside must be lanced. Before its poison spreads too far.”

That could practially have been drafted by an intelligence officer (think Colin Wallace). It’s almost too perfect.

The tell here is that the US had planned to bomb Iraq the next week, but within days Scott Ritter, as team leader out in Iraq, decided to pull back from a deliberately provacative UNSCOM inspection, so it was cancelled. This was top secret stuff. Very few people knew about that. Instead the bombs fell in December, six months later.

Some people thought it a little unprofessional of The Sun to publish such a panic-inducing, unfounded story. Guess who didn’t? The following day, in a piece titled “Blair: Well-Done My Sun”, the paper reported how the Prime Minister “last night praised the Sun’s ‘responsible’ reporting of Saddam Hussein’s threat to unleash deadly anthrax on duty-free shoppers. The PM rejected claims that our story yesterday about a secret ‘all-ports alert’ was likely to cause panic.”

The reason it didn’t cause panic was because it was ridiculous. But Blair had already begun his toxic love-in with the worst of the British media. It bode ill for an awful lot of people.

Hayden did a year in jail. Rather unfairly, and entirely inevitably, nobody from The Sun was ever prosecuted. Apparently they’re allowed to bribe intelligence officers with envelopes full of cash (assuming an exchange or offer of money was ever made in the first place. Decades later Rebekah Brooks admitted in court to authorising the payment, but I’m not sure I believe a word she says).

Lancaster and Hayden arrive at court.

Lancaster and Hayden arrive at court.

I would contact the lawyer who defended Hayden, former Lieutenant Commander David Lancaster, but he’s not exactly high profile these days either. Lancaster was an equity partner in Hampshire law firm Warner, Goodman and Street, and had a lot of RN personnel on his case book, Wrens in particular. In this sense Lancaster was a logical choice for Hayden to make: by all accounts the lawyer did a good job for his RN clients, which made him fairly popular amongst the rank-and-file. He stood up for their employment rights, and rebuffed lazy prosecutions from the service’s Regulating Branch, which was often profoundly unethical.  He succeeded against the Ministry of Police too. David Kelly could have done with someone like Lancaster in his corner.

They got him in the end, though. An undercover reporter from the regional BBC programme Inside Out pretended he’d been charged with possession of a Class A drug, and approached Lancaster for help. He then used a hidden camera to film Lancaster offering him some rather too handy advice. As a result Lancaster was struck off and sentenced to three years, over what was an imaginary fifty quid wrap of cocaine, for a case that didn’t exist. Hardly cutting-edge journalism. I have a pretty strong suspicion it was the Ministry of Defence police who stuck the BBC team onto Lancaster in the first place.

Oddly enough the reporter chiefly responsible for Lancaster’s retreat-from-view has also gone-to-ground: he hid out in mid-Wales for a couple of years then re-emerged as an author. His past does not appear in his author bio.

Puzzling business all round, no?

 

(I can’t suppose this might be anything other incidental, but one of Lancaster’s wins against the Minstry of Defence police was presided over by a Judge Andrew Chubb, yet another ex-Navy officer, whose charred body was found in the ashes of his garage a few days later. His garage had exploded. The widow Chubb might know something more about it but she moved to Australia and refused to leave for a second inquest. People have always speculated on Chubb’s death, because his life included not only a mysterious explosion but a divorce, a big house, and a possibly crazy mistress, but there are plenty of other reasons why people might be murderously angry with judges. The Daily Mail is the sort of paper where you can read your fill on this: here.)

 

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.

 

 

Why Are We Still Reading The Guardian? OR Is Assad really murdering children by sabotaging UN measles vaccines?

Britain’s most liberal newspaper is no less inclined to yellow journalism than any of its (marginally) more right-wing rivals. That modern liberalism has reduced itself to a self-willing adjunct of neoconservatism is a tendency that has been outlined at length elsewhere. I am still shocked, however, when the Guardian presents me with obvious examples of this tendency in practice.

Look at this story, filed by correspondents in Cairo and South East Turkey, which reports that 34 children have been killed in northern Syria because the measles vaccine admistered to them by some undisclosed anti-Assad activist group had been (according to some floating mouthpiece of an entity referred to as “the rebel government”) sabotaged by government forces.

“Primary investigations point to a limited security breach by vandals likely connected to the regime, which has been attempting to target the medical sector in Free Syria in order to spread chaos,” claimed a man identified as “the rebel health minister”. The rebs have sent samples have been sent to Turkey for testing.

Really? Could this story possibly be true? It already shows all the hallmarks of anti-Assad propaganda: dead children and lethal chemicals. It was posted on The Guardian website without a comments section.

The truth was buried elsewhere in the Guardian website later that same day. The rebel medics had tragically mixed up a batch of measles vaccines with a batch of muscle relaxants, with fatal consqeuences.

The earlier story, a work of unabashed disinformation, cloaks the real questions which foreign correspondents should be asking; namely, how the “humanitarian narrative” is used to futher the interests of Western powers at the expense of Arabic soverignty and Arabic lives. This has been the case in the Middle East since the days of T E Lawrence and before. The refugee camps around Syria are teeming with intelligence officers and rebel recruiters of various stripes. Nobody reports on that. Why are illiterates, who cannot even read the packaging on the vaccine box, administering intravenous drugs to children? One suspects they were appointed to the task because of their political allegience, not their medical capability. How did this come about?

It is also worth pointing out how the first story reflects the fact that the rebels (the “side” our government supports) are less trustworthy than the Damascus government. They lie reflexively as a matter or course, a characterestic which is also frequently exhibited by the new government in Kiev, another bunch of usurpers Western governments are keen to prop up. This is why stories from Syria and Ukraine always come with the implicit editorial instruction to believe one side over the other: because the side shovelling us the stories are the prime fabricators in both cases.

The names of the two journalists who filed the first story are Patrick Kingsley and Mowaffaq Safadi.