The Fifth Estate

Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious

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Russel Brand and a Tony Blair clone

Decided to post Russell Brand interviewing Ed Miliband. The exercise in denial and evasion undertaken by Miliband is to be expected. Oh, and we still need banks and bankers? He really doesn’t get it, does he? Of course, he doesn’t but then he isn’t there to “get it” and rest assured he will not be jailing bankers or tackling Murdoch.

However, so much for my tupence worth, but who does he remind you of? The hands, the body language, the hypocritical hyperbole and pathetic polemic.

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This Changes Everything: A short review

On page 21 of her book, ‘This Changes Everything’, Naomi Klein argues that an economic model which demands “unfettered expansion” is in conflict with our need to drastically limit our use of resources in order to avoid a collapse of our climatic systems. It is difficult to argue with the author’s thesis and it would appear that we are heading for an environmental Armageddon, if we don’t act now. Nevertheless, despite the book offering us an array of solutions it is difficult to share the optimism implied in its title. It is very unlikely that anything will change. Indeed, one of the main reasons for that pessimism here is hinted on by Klein herself when she returns to a point she made in the introduction towards the end of the book. She writes:

“As Andreas Malm writes, “the first commercial steam engine “was appreciated for having no ways or places of its own, no external laws, no residual existence outside that brought forth by its proprietors; it was absolutely, indeed ontologically subservient to those who owned it.” ….. “It is this powerfully seductive illusion of total control that a great many boosters of extractive energy are so reluctant to relinquish (Klein:394)”.

The key word, of course, is “control”, and in order for us to understand the nature of that control, we might want to turn to William Engdahl’s ‘A Centruy of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order’. The thesis is established in the opening paragraph when the author writes:

“No other element has shaped the history of the past 100 years so much as the fight to secure and control the world’s reserves of petroleum. Too little is understood of how political and economic power around the raw material, petroleum, has been shaped by interests principally under the control of wo nations – the United Kingdom and, later, the United States of America.”

The implications of this are obvious and while the manufacturers of consent continue to push the good guy and bad guy theory of everything, the real evil is a crazy elite which continues to condone genocide, mass murder, drought, poverty and starvation on a mass scale. Are they going to change?

Still where there is life there is hope and Klein does offer us hope. “Activists have won fracking bans”, and then there are the successes of indigenous Peoples in Nigeria and South America. She also discusses indigenous land rights, which she calls “real” and “powerful” in North America (Klein: 375). However, does she really expect these rights to be enforced? After all she herself says that although these Peoples “have legitimate legal claims, whether they are able to exercise those rights is another matter” (ibid).

‘This Changes Everything’ is an excellent book. It leaves us in no doubt that our very existences on this planet are endangered and it offers us a path to survival. However, it is difficult to share in an optimism which is based on a belief that humans have changed before and that they can change again. There has been no metamorphoses in the history of mankind of the type required and with droughts in Africa, oil wars worldwide, and refugees dying while trying to enter the rich north, the evidence would appear to suggest that, rather than implementing a plan A to stop the relentless exploitation of the planet, our elites will focus on the “geoengineering plan B” or the “escape to another planet plan C” when the time is ripe. Of course, bearing that in mind, if Naomi Klein’s book doesn’t change everything, it might provide some impetus for us trying to do so.

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Pipelines and Propaganda

A couple of months into the third millennium, a few months before 9/11, and an American wearing a big Stetson, who really did remind me of that notorious misogynist J.R. Ewing, strolled into the room at the engineering consulting company where I was providing language training. The walls of the room were plastered with adhesive, easily removable, plastic sheets and on those sheets tradables and non tradables had been listed. The negotiations were in full swing with the students showing an ability to compromise by moving from the first conditional to the second conditional when tentatively turning a non tradable into a tradable. The Texan was told that the ongoing role-play represented negotiations between the government of Turkmenistan and the engineering company to build a pipeline down to Karachi, but everything was, unfortunately,hampered by the fact that we had Afghanistan in the middle. “Don’t worry”, the J.R. look-alike told me, “we will soon have that problem sorted out”.

Martin Bröckers and Paul Schreyer in their book, “Wir Sind die Guten:Ansichten eines Putinverstehers oder wie uns die Medien manipulieren” (‘We are the Good Guys: a “Putin expert’s  views or how the media manipulate us’) would have known exactly what the visiting cowboy meant when he refered to “sorting out” the problem. In their book they say that whoever thinks the war in Afghanistan is about women’s rights and opening schools for girls, or the war in Iraq was about democracy, or Libya was all about getting rid of a mad dictator, is a sad victim of that propaganda that the “morally superior” West needs to sell its imperialism (Bröckers M., Schreyer P.:15).

The “spreading democracy”, “fighting terrorism”, and “providing humanitarian aid” gobbledygook is given a proper perspective by Michael Klare in his book, ‘Blood and Oil’, when he writes: “….., it is getting harder to distinguish U:S: military operations designed to fight terrorism from those designed to protect energy assets. And the administration’s tendency to conflate the two is obvious in more than just the Gulf and Caspian areas” (Klare: 72). Of course, we might go a step further and argue that these military interventions are only designed to protect energy assets and geopolitical interests. This, of course, is not about terrorism, nasty dictators, and humanitarian intervention. It is all about “full spectrum dominance”, and, those terrorists, nasty dictators, and mass murderers who are willing to participate in it will most certainly have no problems with Washington. In retrospect our J.R. clone was refreshing. At least he couldn’t be accused of being hypocritical and he most certainly did not need some ridiculous pretext like the shortage of girls’ schools in Kandahar to address the problem.

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Alison Weir …. The Link ….. and a case of mistaken identity

My interest in Palestine, coupled with a general aversion vis-a-vis the inaccurate reporting of the main stream media on this topic in particular and, indeed, on many other issues, led me to add Alison Weir’s website to my links. However, before I did so, I ended up at the British Historian  Alison Weir’s homepage. She informed me that her website was not the website for the “American Alison Weir, founder of the organisation ‘If Americans Knew'”.

When I finally got to the “right” Alison Weir’s website I was left in no doubt as to the good sense in the British Historian making a point that she wasn’t that Alison Weir, when I read:

“As I write above, I am not the author of books about British history. That Alison Weir, who is English, tells me that she is receiving harassment and threats because some people mix her up with me. These are causing her extreme concern and forcing her to end her book tours in the U.S. PLEASE, ISRAEL PARTISANS, LEAVE HER ALONE. If you must threaten to kill someone because you wish facts about Israel-Palestine to remain hidden, I’m the one you mean.”. ……Shocking when you think about it!

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A word on Israel’s oxymoronic “Jewish democracy”

The title of Petra Wild’s book, Apartheid und ethnische Säuberung in Palastina (Apartheid and ethnic Cleansing in Palestine) sums up the reality that will continue behind the farcical oxymoronic “Jewish Democracy” and with an eye on the Israeli elections Stephen Lendman pulls no punches when he writes, “Herzog/Livni are as viciously racist as Netanyahu. They deplore democracy. They’re extremists masquerading as moderates.”

It is, therefore, offensive when we are confronted with the garbage spouted out by the mainstream media and in The Guardian’ we can already read, “The exit polls – if confirmed in the final official results – would seem to give Netanyahu the advantage in forming a coalition, even as Israeli president Reuven Rivlin indicated he would seek a national unity government.”

However, the “marvelous, plucky” little “Jewish Democracy” keeps us all in suspense and we are told that Herzog’s Zionist Union have still not given up hope of forming a government without the Likud Party. However, as Lendman says, if that does happen it will be a case of more of the same “wrapped in more friendly rhetoric”.

Now, isn’t that great news for Palestine and we can expect a “please get out off your land” and a “sorry we had to kill your family”, and who knows, a couple of rounds of useless talks during which the illegal building on Palestinian land, continues, before we get the Israelis and their American friends telling all and sundry that Palestinian intransigence has led to a break down in the negotiations, that no peace is possible, and there is no choice but to bomb them again.

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The Israel Lobby, the Neo-Cons and the Road to War

In their book ‘The Israel Lobby And US foreign policy’,Mearsheimer and Walt, when discussing Israel’s influence on Congress, conclude that “…. The bottom line is that AIPAC, which bills itself as “America’s pro-Israel Lobby”, has an almost unchallenged hold on Congress.”  (Mearsheimer and Walt: 162).

For anyone who sympathizes with those who are effectively the victims of an ongoing ethnic cleansing that in itself would be depressing enough. However, it is when the authors continue by contending that not only is there an absence of open debate on US policy toward Israel, but that this policy “has important consequences for the entire world” (ibid)  that we should worry on a very real and very personal level.

What that means is made clear earlier in the book, when the authors argue that not only was a drift to the right in the Israel lobby accompanied by the rise of the neoconservatives, but that the lobby and the neoconservatives are in fact synonymous (ibid: 128, 129, 130). When we consider that the neo-cons were virtually responsible for the ill-fated invasion of Iraq in March 2003, that contention becomes particularly ominous.

Furthermore, it is something that we should bear that in mind when we consider Benjamin Netanyahu’s antics on Capitol Hill on the March 2nd and the subsequent open letter on the 9th of the month addressed to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” . The letter, which was signed by 47 Republican senators, basically told Teheran that any agreement on its nuclear programme would not be kept.

It might be worth pointing out that the letter was not only immoral, but that it was also illegal in that it contravenes the Logan Act of 1799, which “forbids any U.S. citizen — acting without official U.S. authority — from influencing “disputes or controversies” involving the U.S. and a foreign government”. However, we might be certain that neither the neoconservatives, nor the Israel lobby, nor Israel itself is going to be held accountable by any law and that is what should worry us.

The illegal occupation of Palestine continues and the ethnic cleansing continues apace, the invasion of Iraq has culminated in hundreds of thousands dead and ongoing sectarian strife. Syria’s sovereignty is being violated on a daily basis, and now we are being told that any agreement with Iran will be torn up. …. and then?

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Humanitarian interventions, the war against ISIS, and “Realpolitik”

A couple of months ago I watched the documentary Schattenkrieg in der Sahara” on the French/German channel ARTE. Unfortunately, it seems that it is only available in German and French. Therefore, it might be appropriate to begin this post with a brief summary of the film and to do that I will give a loose translation of the first paragraph of the text that can be accessed by clicking on the above link.

In 2013 France became involved in its biggest military intervention in North Africa since its days as a colonial power leading to what in all probability will be a turbulent decade for the Sahara region. The documentary researched the real reasons for the conflict and unveiled the interests behind the destabilization of the region, while asking if a new era of wars for resources is about to take place in the Sahel?

A couple  of salient points were made. Firstly, the French were  not acting on their own, but rather in collusion with the United States. Secondly, if the question at the end of the last paragraph is answered in the affirmative, then it might follow that what was supposedly an intervention on humanitarian grounds and against islamic extremism was in fact a pretext. Nevertheless, while those points might be unsettling enough, it is the conclusions we might draw from the further point made at the end of the film that should worry us most, because it is a point that demonstrates all too clearly that it is not only the wars for resources in North Africa that we should be concerned with.

The documentary concluded by pointing out that the French airforce didn’t prevent the Islamists from escaping north to Algeria using the only road available, even if they could quite easily have bombed that road and prevented that escape. Therefore, the  logical conclusion would be that they wanted them to escape. After all if there are no extremists and there is no humanitarian crisis, it is a bit difficult to justify military intervention which means that there is a very real Machiavellian, “Realpolitik” at play when dozens of militants escape and head “into the lawless desert of southern Libya, where they quickly melted into the dusty terrain.” 

Of course, we can only speculate as to whether any of them were involved in the massacre of the Egyptian Coptic Christians, which in turn led to the Egyptian Air Force bombing Eastern Libya. However, there is no need to speculate as to the real  raison d’être behind these humanitarian interventions and the war against ISIS. Instead, we might begin as Professor Michel Chossudovsky suggests in his article, “Obama’s “Fake War” against the Islamic State (ISIS)”, by trying to answer the question; “Why has the US Air Force not been able to wipe out the Islamic State which at the outset was largely equipped with conventional small arms not to mention state of the art Toyota pickup trucks?” Or maybe the Americans are just as incompetent as the French?


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