Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
The end of a Nazi
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin showing U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim a map of Israel and the distribution of Jewish settlements in Arab lands
So the old rogue is dead. That is all I could say when I heard yesterday that Kurt Waldheim had reached the end of his days at 88.I spent months, years, investigating his dark past in what we now call Bosnia, when he - let us not be coy about this - was part of the Bosnien-Kampfgruppen of Wehrmacht Army Group E of General Löhr, fighting "terroristen" (yes, indeed, the Nazis called them terrorists, just as they talked about the "RAF Terroristenfliegen") in the Balkans. Waldheim had been secretary general of the UN, had lectured UN officers in Lebanon on the lessons of "terrorism" and, well - as was later to ruminate - he knew about that, didn't he?
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Israel and the west get what they want. Or do they?
Does the west want a 'moderate' Palestinian government and an end to violence, or does it wish to provoke more violence?
For that is what it is about - control - and that is why we hold out, and withdraw, favours from their leaders. Now Gaza belongs to Hamas, what will our own elected leaders do? Will our pontificators in the EU, the UN, Washington and Moscow now have to talk to these wretched, ungrateful people (fear not, for they will not be able to shake hands) or will they have to acknowledge the West Bank version of Palestine (Abbas, the safe pair of hands) while ignoring the elected, militarily successful Hamas in Gaza?
Friday, May 25, 2007
This is what they call 'hard talk'
George Galloway may be a provocative and mischievous s.o.b. ('scuse my french), and one may wish to quibble with his choice to shake Saddam Hussein's hand (I don't think I would want to shake either his hand or Tony Blair's-but then I am not a politician) or his reference to god, but there is nothing in what he says, in this interveiw at least, which I could define as wrong, either morally or politically. The so-called journalist opposite him tried desperately - with the use of petty linguistic attacks, quotes out of context or by repeatedly insisting Galloway abide by a different set of morals from the leaders who led us to war - to provoke Galloway into getting agitated, and in my opinion he failed miserably.
From the oustide at least, Respect does seem to be the only real political opposition, as far as Iraq anyway. Galloway may enjoy the glory of his role, but that doesn't minimise in anyway the truth of what he points out: that Bush and Blair are not only criminals but also murderers; that it would therefore be morally justifiable for a victim or the relative of a victim of these murderers to want to seek revenge, even though no humanist would ever call for murder; that the best thing UK and US soldiers can do is to disobey illegal orders as Nüremberg did in fact state.
Furthermore, I also believe the question of patriotism posed by the interviewer is not only off topic, but is yet another desperate attempt at provocation. I could not agree more with Galloway when he says being of such and such a nationality is an accident of bith. Not merely as voters, but especially as citizens of a democratic country, we are however responsible for the actions of our government.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It is too simple to claim that this is Syria's work. Syria may have an interest is watching this destabilisation, even - through its security networks - assisting these groups with logistics. But other organisations might have found common interest; the Iraqi insurgents, for example, even the Taliban, perhaps equally small groups in the Palestinian occupied territories. That's how these things work in the Middle East, where there is no such thing as responsibility - only a commonality of interests. Perhaps the Americans might have learnt something about this if they had not two years ago insulted the Syrians for allowing fighters into Iraq - at which point, the Syrians halted all military and intelligence co-operation with the US.Some might claim it doesn't matter who is behind Fatah al-Islam. However, if we can't count on the media (there isn't much to expect from politicians) to report the facts rather than shortcuts, then what is the point of the media? To manufacture consent?
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Think outside the box
Well, Mr Siniora claimed it was an attempt to destabilise Lebanon - a good guess, to put it mildly - and Saad Hariri, son of the former prime minister murdered here more than two years ago, called the armed men "evil-doers who had hijacked Islam". This is the same Saad Hariri whom at least one American reporter - I refer to Seymour Hersh - suggested was indirectly helping to funnel Saudi money to these same gunmen in a recent article in The New Yorker. The Shia Muslim Hizbollah are supposed to be the bad guys in this scenario, not a Sunni group. But Tripoli is the most powerful Sunni city in Lebanon - so powerful that not a drop of alcohol wets its restaurant tables - and the men and women running in terror across Tripoli's streets yesterday were also Sunnis. So are the Syrians really concocting an "al-Qaida" in Lebanon? And who are its enemies? The Nato army of the UN force in southern Lebanon, perhaps? But surely not the Lebanese army, the very same army which bravely prevented civil war last January? Yet in 2000, an al-Qaida-type group also ambushed the Lebanese army in northern Lebanon. Was this, too, supposed to be a Syrian invention?
The soldiers are polite, courteous with journalists. This must be one of the few countries in the world where soldiers treat journalists as old friends, where they blithely allow them to broadcast from in front of their positions, borrowing their newspapers, sharing cigarettes, chatting, believing that we have our job to do. But more and more we are wondering if we are not cataloguing the sad disintegration of this country. The Lebanese army is on the streets of Beirut to defend Siniora, on the streets of Sidon to prevent sectarian disturbances, on the roads of southern Lebanon watching the Israeli frontier and now, up here in the far north, besieging the poor and the beaten Palestinians of Nahr el-Bared and the dangerous little groupuscule which may - or may not - be taking its orders from Damascus.
One thing is for sure, if Fatah al Islam is an Al Qaeda group backed by Syria, that would surely be a novelty. It may not be an impossibility, but we should be wary of the language of politics and media which throws wild accusations around.