30 November 2006
Time to rethink Britain's foreign policy
Dr. Kendall Myers, an analyst with the American State Department, has begun the process of untangling Britain from the USA. He has gone on record as saying that the special relationship is nothing special as far as the Americans are concerned. He went on to argue that Britain should move closer to the EU on foreign policy matters, but is that an option that would truly be in the UK's interests?
Surely it would make more sense for the UK to coldly appraise the European situation? Russia is clearly the third strongest power on the continent. In second place comes the EU, or rather the Franco-German part of it. The strongest power is still the USA.
Looked at in this light, the possibilities for an independent UK are interesting. The UK could support whichever power bloc was best placed to suit its interests. What such a policy would require is a British government that actually believed in Britain: sadly, and since the time of Churchill, foreign policy has been largely handed over to the Americans.
If the Iraq disaster has any benefits at all, a long overdue reappraisal of Britain's role as America's poodle must surely be one of them.
29 November 2006
America plans to stay in Iraq forever
The Chimp has announced that American forces will stay in Iraq until "the mission is complete," and the country has a stable democracy.
OK, so they will stay there until hell freezes over. That is tough on the Iraqis, but good news for the rest of us.
28 November 2006
Why the Americans refuse to face up to their Iraqi reality
Why won't the Americans admit that Iraqis are fighting a civil war, as well as an anti-imperialist one?
Most wars of national independence are also civil wars. The problem is that few people ever want to admit to that fact. Take the American War of Independence as a case in point, because it could also be called The First American Civil War. About a quarter of the white, male population - some 250,000 men - opposed independence in the 1770s. Some 19,000 of them joined the loyalist regiments that fought to keep the 13 colonies in the empire.
Political scientists have a fairly simple definition of what a civil war is: the conflict must be within one territory, and involve fighting for control of the centre, to seceed from it, or to force the central government to change a major policy. Secondly, at least 1,000 people must have been killed, with at least a 100 on both or all sides. Using that yardstick, Iraq is clearly involved in a civil war that runs in tandem with its war to expell the foreign occupiers.
The American media has just woken up to this fact and has started calling the intra-Iraqi conflict a civil war. So why is the White House denying it?
One possible reason is that "many politicians, especially those who support the war, believe there would be domestic political implications to declaring it a civil war. They fear that an acknowledgment by the White House and its allies would be seen as an admission of a failure of President Bush’s Iraq policy."
Put another way, the chimp will not allow the words "civil war" to cross his lips because to admit to that reality would make his failed Iraqi adventure seem even more of a failure.
Is that about the size of it?
27 November 2006
What is happening in Oaxaca?
What is going on in Oaxaca, the dirt-poor, southern Mexican state? Have you ever read The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes? Well, if you have, you now know what is going on in Oaxaca. Basically, the PRI Leviathan that has governed the state since the 1920s has lost its touch. Once people see that a dictatorship is weak, then everyone piles in to bring it down. Oaxaca is going through that process at the moment.
It started back in May when the state's teachers began their annual strike for more money. Normally the strike is settled in a couple of weeks, but this year the state government couldn't meet the strikers' demands. The reason for that was the federal election; put simply, the government had to divert every centavo it could lay its greasy paws on to pay for pro-PRI propaganda.
Federal elections are now controlled by a reasonably clean electoral commission, so the usual tricks could not be used. The election process was clean, but the Oaxaca state government used state funds to try and buy the votes. So, to be fair, did every other state in the Mexican union, but that is not the point. The point is that only Oaxaca City had a main square that was full of strikers.
In June the state governor sent in the riot squad to clear out the square. The problem was that it was full of women teachers, many of whom had their kids with them. In spite of many a cracked skull, the strikers managed to regroup and launched a counterattack that took control of the square back from the police.
This is where Hobbes' argument comes into play. He said that a dictator had to be in control, and that if he wasn't, then nobody had any duty to obey him. This is what happen in Oaxaca City: the people saw that the PRI was no longer in control, that their riot police had been defeated, and then everyone else began to join in the protests.
A dictatorship maintains control by suppressing dissent: thus social tensions build up until such time as the ruler's control starts to weaken. However, once the boot is removed from the neck, then all hell is set to break loose, as decades of tensions are sorted out. That is what began to happen in Oaxaca.
President Vicente Fox sent in the federal police in October, but all that did was make a bad situation worse. Fox will go out of office next month and has about him the air of a man who doesn't really give a stuff.
Also last month the Congress asked the governor of Oaxaca State to resign - and he told them to get lost. The Congress changes its membership next month, so why should he care what the lame ducks say?
Nothing will get settled until the new president and Congress are sworn in and get comfortable in their new roles. Expect more trouble until then.
23 November 2006
Why Neil Clark launched his libel action - and why he needs our support
Back in March of this year this blog took a strong line against libel actions between bloggers. Neil Clark had threatened to sue one of the more risible of the NuLab wankbloggers and we argued that such tactics only serve to allow the wankist's little friends to crawl out of the woodwork and start a smear campaign. Neil's action has been dismissed by the court, and that is exactly what is happening.
Neil has posted an essay which outlines his reasons for taking the action:
I went to the courts not to silence Kamm's right to make fair comments on articles with which he disagreed, but to prevent Kamm and his neo-con, pro-war associates from silencing me. Their aim was - and still is- to get editors, like Robbie Millen and Daniel Finkelstein of The Times, Tom Switzer of the Australian, Seumas Milne of the Guardian, and Sam Leith of the Books section of the Daily Telegraph to stop publishing my work.
Neil goes on to present an e-mail that was sent to one such editor, so obviously something is going on: put bluntly there does seem to be a campaign to prevent Neil Clark from earning a living.
Frankly, this is something that should worry all of us. For free speech to flourish, people have to be sure that their livelihoods will not be threatened. If that does not happen, then many people will be intimidated out of blogging.
This could be what the wankblogs actually want. Theirs is the NuLab world where people like Neil Clark have to be silenced because what they say runs against the nice, middle class line thatwe are all middle class, now, and only the market can solve our country's ills.
Or it could be that because they have nice, well cushioned positions, it amuses them to cause grief to a man whose only income - an income that he uses to support his family with - is from his writing.
Either way, they are scum, and because they are scum and because Neil's only crime is to write what they want suppressed, we owe him our support. Agree with him or not, if you read a blog you must support the blogger's right to publish without worrying that his employer will persecute him for his offerings.
20 November 2006
A stinking cold & lousy weather
I have a rotten cold and expect that it will get worse tomorrow. The next posting will be when I feel better.
The weather is lousy in Mexico City; raining, windy and very, very cold. The city of Toluca is about a 100 miles north of here and is covered in a light dusting of snow.
Normally Mexico City suffers cold snaps in January, but this year January has arrived rather early.
16 November 2006
America may increase her troop numbers in Iraq
Over the last few days we have speculated on how America will cut and run from Iraq. The Guardian reports today that they will take the lunatic option which is to increase troop numbers by about 20,000, and then make a final push to take control of Baghdad.
This is the lunatic option for two reasons:
1. Another 20,000 men may be able to take Baghdad, but they will not be able to hold it. The guerrillas may take a holiday, or they may go off and fight in other areas - areas that have been stripped of troops for the great, Baghdad push. Either way, they will filter back into Baghdad and start doing their thing just as soon as the Americans reduce their troop levels or lower their guard.
2. The Americans are weary of the war. It does not take a guerrilla genius to realise that all they have to do is take the hit and then counter-attack in their own good time. The Iraqis have time on their side: the Americans do not.
Is this option being seriously discussed? Yes, if you believe the reports that are coming out. Why are senior American generals in favour? Probably because they cannot get away from the idea of one big battle that will decide the war. Their reasoning seems to be that if they put enough troops into an area, then the guerrillas will rise to the bait and pile all their forces into that area.
However, nothing in the almost four years of conflict leads us to conclude that the Iraqis are that daft. That the Americans are even thinking of putting this strategy into effect suggests that they are condemned to learn nothing from the past.
15 November 2006
Why not lower the school leaving age to 14?
What to do with young people who don't want to go to school? Let them go to work, says one former headmaster, in an article that will arouse teachers' wrath.
Actually, the fellow has a point. Why should 14 and 15 year olds be compelled to attend an institution that they loath? They take out their anger on those around them, which means that nobody learns anything.
Surely it would make more sense for these people to drop out of school, if they have found work?
It won't happen, of course, because far too many middle class types have their snouts in the educational trough. Thjey have to justify their positions by claiming that it is all for the good of the kids. Actually, it is all for the good of the teachers and penpushers.
14 November 2006
America likely to run later, says one commentator
|In out last posting we argued that the USA faced two options in Iraq: walk out now or get thrown out later. William S. Lind has just argued that the latter option is the one the Americans will take:|
What, then, will keep us in Iraq? While both parties want to get out, neither has nor will be able to create a consensus on how to get out. Not only will they be unable to generate a consensus between the parties, or between the executive branch and the Congress, they will not be able to find consensus within either party on how the withdrawal is to be managed. The result will be paralysis and a continuation of the war.He goes on to write that neither political party wants to be tarred with the "you lost Iraq" label, but believes that the main reason for indecision is that the invaders really have "no good option" left. If they stay they will continue to be shagged by the resistence; if they leave, civil war may make Iraq an ungovernable wasteland. The best option would be for a Sunni strongman to emerge out of the chaos, says Lind, but he concludes that this is not very likely.
This is tough on Iraq, but good news for the rest of the planet. The fear has to be that the Americans will bite the bullet and call it a day over there. Then they will learn the wrong lessons from the defeat: instead of realising that imperialism's day is done, they will come to believe that the weapons and tactics used were all wrong. Thus, having assimilated all the wrong ideas, they could go off and attack yet another third world country.
The only way to avoid this is if the USA stays the course in Iraq until their army is so comprehensively broken that they can stay no more.
13 November 2006
America options in Iraq: run later or walk now
As the Americans plans their cut and run from Iraq, one question has not been addressed by any of the media on either side of the Atlantic: If you were an Iraqi who watched the news, what would you do now?
It is possible that you might decide that now is the time to start supporting the American sponsored regime. On the other hand you might decide that its chances of survival once the Americans leave are about nil: yours too if you are a known supporter of that regime. Thus, you may conclude, it is time to wander down the street and have a chat with your local guerrilla contact and see if he will sign you up. Even if 90% of the new recruits don't actually do very much, that still leaves a potentially vast number of new recruits to the guerrilla army who will.
Even if you don't actually carry a rifle or plant a bomb, you are still a part of the vast army of sympathisers without whom any guerrilla force is doomed. When you see a guerrilla patrol pass your house you will wave to it and hope to God that the commander remembers your gesture after the war is over. Anything to avoid getting strung up like the collaborators. What you will not do is report the guerrillas presence to the Americans. Under no circumstances will you do that.
Given this likely scenario, what are the chances of the Americans managing to mount an orderly withdrawal from Iraq? The Democrats are talking about a phased withdrawal in the middle of next year. However, the ordinary Iraqi now has to prove that he did not collaborate; thus guerrilla attacks can be expected to mount. As that happens, pressure will grow within the USA to get the troops out sooner. As that happens, more guerrilla attacks will take place.
The end game is near.
10 November 2006
Heroic Falujah still fights on.
|The Iraqi city of Fallujah was pretty much destroyed by the Americans two years ago in their futile attempt to smash Iraq's resistance. Not being stupid, the Fallujah based guerrillas moved into the nearby city of Ramadi. Then the Americans attacked Ramadi, and now the resistance is back in Fallujah.|
Are the warmongers getting with the picture at last? It is not about controlling territory, it is about building support and keeping the war going.
09 November 2006
Juba, the Baghdad sniper, has his own blog and website
The Exile's Man of the Year for 2005 now has his own blog and website. That's right: Juba the Baghdad sniper is now online Well, they may be run by his supporters, since the man himself is usually rather busy sending Iraq's enemies home in body bags, but it's the thought that counts. The really amusing thing about these sites is that they are hosted in the USA, a fact which this warmongerette notes with disaproval.
It's been quite a week for Juba publicity, as The Independent has an article about him in today's issue. The article also argues that American snipers have a nasty habit of murdering anyone they see who uses a mobile telephone near an occupation force position. That's the way to win hearts and minds, eh lads?
Sniping is not new, but as this article makes clear, what is new about the Juba phenomenon is the way in which the web and video disks are used to bolster his image and hearten his supporters. Lenin once remarked that the capitalists would sell the ropes that would be used to hang them with; the same seems to apply to renting space on internet servers.
So why not visit the Juba sites and download a copy of the latest epic? It is even available as a .dat file, all ready to burn to a VCD and watched on the TV via the DVD player. A fine Christmas present for the warmonger of your choice, the Exile believes.
08 November 2006
Democrats take U.S. House
In the American elections the Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives and may even get the Senate as well.
This is a mixed blessing for anti-imperialists. On the one hand we could start to see Congressional Committees investigating the war's origins, but on the other, the chimp could argue that the war has been lost because of betrayal at home. Obviously that would be a face-saver, but it is exactly that kind of face-saver that imperialism must not have. It needs to be seen to be defeated so thoroughly that it will be at least another generation before the American shadow darkens our lives again.
There would be more chance of that coming to pass had the chimp retained a Republican controlled Congress.
07 November 2006
That's President Ortega to you, warmongers!
It looks as if Daniel Ortega will be returned to the Nicaraguan President's office in spite of American howls of protest. The last time he was in office the USA sponsored a terrorist campaign against his Sandanista government that led to the deaths of roughly 50,000 Nicaraguans. Now all the Americans can do is howl.
Their army is busy providing target practice for the Iraqi insurgents: that's when it's not back home, tired, shagged out and being refitted.
Now do the warmongers get the idea? One reason why we support the Iraqis is because a defeat for imperialism allows space for countries like Nicaragua to elect traditional leftists like Daniel Ortega.
Each country must find its own path. The common enemy that we have is globalised capitalism in its neo-imperialist mode. If the Iraqis can defeat that, then they will have done the people of this planet a great service.
06 November 2006
Cakewalking around Iraq
The Iraqi guerrillas aren't only capable of sending Americans home in boxes, they are pretty nifty photographers as well.
Cheers: Hitchens' Watch
Saddam Hussein's death sentence
The death sentence handed down by the American sponsored "court" in Iraq against the country's former president will have far - reaching consequences.
Saddam Hussein may very well have been a not very nice man, but Iraq's Sunni population can be expected to forget that and concentrate on the fact that one of theirs is going to die courtesy of a foreign occupation and the system that the occupation established.
In the rest of Arabia, Saddam is already a hero: his death will raise his stature to mythic proportions. We can expect a flood of Arabian volunteers into Iraq, all determined to help push the invaders out.
As for the man himself, the best he can do is go to his death bravely and set an example to those who already admire him. He seems to have started this process off by his contemptuous behaviour towards the so-called court that sentenced him.
05 November 2006
|This is a good laugh. Revenge, I suppose, is sweet as far as the writer is concerned. Even if he did have to wait 25 years to get it.|
03 November 2006
Wanker for war keeps on tugging
'Lenin' is neither Lenin nor 'Lenin'. As for Ken the Exile - well - he/it is a disgusting piece of shit and sewage. The national socialist scumbag should be shot with shit and following that, shot with real bullets. In the head.
It really is hard to know what to make of the above comment that was left on Dave Ostler's blog. Quite what Dave did to deserve it, other than host a comment by me, is unclear.
I don't think that I have ever come across Little Willie before, but he is a part of the Wankers For War blog that I regularly use as an electronic arse-wipe. That said, my target of choice is young Eric over there, so why Little Willie decided to join in is anyone's guess. The two of them may be just good friends. . .
Two things, I suspect, annoy Little Willie and his so very close chum. The first is that I fail to see how waging a war against a Third World country helps the average British working man recover the standard of living that he enjoyed a generation ago: still less proceed to something better. Iraq is a distraction from the matter at hand; the nationalisation of the British economy and revenge against those middle class types who have taken the scraps from the bosses' table.
To say otherwise is to continue believing that New Labour offers us anything other than further degradation as voting fodder for the types who run the party. The working class no longer view New Labour as their party, which is why turnout is in freefall in Labour districts. I agree with my own people's view of that party, and despair that it can ever be recovered for Labourist values - never mind socialist ones.
Secondly, I do not share these clowns' views that Israel is somehow important to the destruction of capitalism in Britain. Whether that place lives or dies does not alter that fact by one jot. Furthermore, by calling themselves socialists, and then banging on about Israel, all young Eric and Little Willie do is convince working people that socialism is not relevant to their daily lives. If these two tossers did not exist then capitalism would have to invent them.
Little Willie's "national socialist" jibe is amusing, but interesting at the same time. Karl Marx once told "working men of all countries" to "unite". Well, the buggers haven't have they? So why stick with a failed policy? What Marx wanted was the end of capitalism, and his appeal was a tactic to that end. The tactic has failed, so it is time to try something new.
There is nothing wrong with adopting a nationalist posture, so long as it is clearly understood that it is a tactic that forms a part of the strategy of shagging capitalism. National Socialism, by way of contrast, was just a name: it advocated the maintenance of the already existing socio-economic status quo in Germany.
If we are serious about socialism, then the capitalist class has to be destroyed. For that to happen the middle class that supports capitalism must also vanish. This is not going to happen unless enough working class people start to see the middle class as an undifferentiated mass that stands in the way of their progress. Quite what the issue will be that will rally our tribe to battle is anyone's guess. Nevertheless, I put forward the idea as a discussion point.
Perhaps, finally, this is the one big issue that divides the likes of me from these jokers. They want to play at socialism, to mouth trendy slogans at the latest polytechnic-organised rally.
I am too old to play.
02 November 2006
How did the Iraqi resistance begin?
Boris Johnson, the Tory MP for Henley, has an interesting article in Today's Daily Telegraph. He first of all takes a swipe at those warmongers who take the line that the aggression was ruined by poor, post-attack planning:
It is now commonplace for people like me, who supported the war, to say that we "did the right thing" but that it had mysteriously "turned out wrong". This is intellectually vacuous. It is like saying British strategy for July 1, 1916 was perfect, but let down by faulty execution. The thing was a disaster from the moment we invaded, and it wasn't poor old Rumsfeld's fault for failing to send in enough troops, or failing to do more "planning" for the post-war. No quantity of troops could have prevented this catastrophe; and the dreadful thing is that I think Saddam knew it.He then goes on to write the key paragraph to his article, one that argues that the Iraqis were following a pre-war resistance plan:
A couple of years ago I had a chilling conversation with a very senior British general who was then intimately involved in our efforts in Iraq.
The trouble was, he said, that Saddam had thought it all through. He knew he hadn't a hope against the Pentagon, so he had a three-stage strategy. First he instructed his army not to put up much resistance to the Patton-like thrusts of the US army. Then, when Baghdad had fallen, he encouraged his soldiers to melt away to their homes and keep their weapons. The third stage, said this British general, was the one we had been embroiled in ever since: a guerrilla war, spiced with sectarian violence, to become gradually more intense until it became no longer possible for the allies to remain in Iraq.How accurate is Boris' source, the Exile wonders?
The problem is the first bit. Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, the British press was full of stories concerning how the Americans had managed to buy off some senior Iraqi generals. That was the reason why Baghdad fell with such alacrity. The Iraqi plan was to defend Baghdad to the hilt, to turn it into another Stalingrad, and then melt away to start the guerrilla war.
This version of events strikes me as being the more credible. The reason was outlined in length in this 2004 article of mine, which argued that had the Baathists remained in charge, then the Iraqi Resistance would have set up a front organisation to channel international support to the guerrilla movement. Secondly, the guerilla resistance began in cities such as Fallujah and Hit in the aftermath of American atrocities. Basically, the young men of those areas wanted revenge, and American over-reaction allowed the war to spread in a classical guerrilla pattern.
Time will tell which version is the correct one. What matters now is that the final sentences of my 2004 article are as pertinent today as when they were first written:
However, in the final analysis, it really does not matter how the Iraqis choose to wage their war of liberation. What matters is that they have joined a select and heroic pantheon of nations who have refused to go quietly into imperialism’s long night. If for no other reason than that we owe them our support. They already have our admiration.
01 November 2006
The Lost Cause
|Sonic, over at his Hitchens' Watch site has pretty much done the business on this latest load of old wank from the man himself, but reading the Hitchen's piece, one is inclined to wonder if this latest, sad article doesn't just sum up the nature of the Iraq defeat? Especially these closing lines:|
If this cause is now to be considered defeated, by the sheer staggering persistence in murder and sabotage of the clerico-fascist forces and the sectarian militias, then it will always count as a noble one.Ah - the lost cause - how noble was the struggle. Is that the line, lads? The Exile's advice to the lost causers is that they should take a tip from the late A.L. Jonas of the army of the Confederate States of America. In March of 1865, he took a Confederate banknote and composed this ode to his Lost Cause:
Representing nothing on God's earth now,
Of course, the South still lost, but the poem brought many a tear to many an eye in the years that followed.
So get writing, lads. While you are doing that the rest of us will sit back and enjoy your defeat.