The human face of war

harry patch quote

kenji gotoA Japanese journalist, Kenji Goto, captured and executed in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Isis,  is rightly remembered, but – in general – the killing of 2000 Palestinians (July-August 2014) is referred to only by that impersonal number.

Is this a cynical media selection of the messages they know their political and corporate masters wish to convey to their voters ?

Gaza health official, Dr Ashraf al-Qedra, gives recognition and respect by naming many of the dead and his list may be read here.

In 2003, pictures of 42 British soldiers who had died in Iraq to date were cut, pasted and filed (scanned below). As the Independent on Sunday headed it “Forty-two reasons why we should be told the truth about the conflict”.

killed in iraq 03killed in iraq bottom rows2 03

Truthful media headlines and photographs would bear out the words of WW1 veteran Harry Patch: “War is organised murder, and nothing else.

Professor Robert Wade: the key to peace in the Ukraine

Robert Wade, Professor of Political Economy and Development at the LSE’s Development Studies Institute (DESTIN), worked at the World Bank, 1984–1988 and the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex from 1972–1995, undertaking fieldwork in a range of countries including Italy, India, Korea, Taiwan and Pitcairn Island.

prof robert wadeAt a  recent engagement at the University of Oslo to discuss the present and future of global financial governance

Professor Wade has responded to a FT editorial, following the recent visit of John Kerry, US secretary of state, to President Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort of Sochi, which asserted that deeper engagement with Russia is worth pursuing. It could integrate the US into the western diplomatic effort on Ukraine, involving Angela Merkel, and François Hollande. He writes:

“You are right that “America’s outreach to Moscow is justified but your longstanding view that the Ukraine crisis is an interstate war between (united) Ukraine and Russia is, at best, questionable. It leads you to place almost all the responsibility for securing peace on Vladimir Putin, as though the president is largely in control of the military fighting the Ukrainian army.

“The German weekly Der Spiegel published a report (March 7), based on sources in German chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and the Federal Intelligence Service, describing the US and Nato claims about Russia’s controlling role as a gross exaggeration. At the end of August 2014 eight retired US intelligence officers wrote to Ms Merkel saying much the same.

The conflict is more accurately understood as an internationalised civil war. Foreign states are engaged on both sides. But the primary dynamic is the resistance of the large Russian-speaking (by no means pro-Russia) minority, roughly 40% of Ukraine’s population, against forces in the Ukrainian-speaking majority seeking permanently to subordinate them.

The key to peace is that both the Kiev government and its western backers must remove the grounds for Russian speakers to fear that the Kiev government is using the civil war to get the west to underwrite the ascendancy of Ukrainian speakers.

Professor Robert Wade

London School of Economics

London WC2, UK


Animated Japanese mascots in campaign against restarting nuclear reactors and for the peace constitution

The 2014 elections in Japan were the first in which online campaigning was permitted, and the Wall Street Journal reports that Japan’s Communist Party was widely seen as having made best use of it. 

JCP has its own kawaii (cute) characters now, animated mascots – the Proliferation Bureau . The cast of eight mascots include Otento-sun, a sun who is fighting nuclear power, a purse called Gamagucchan who looks after tax reduction for ordinary households, Shiisa, an Okinawan lion dog (shisa) in charge of the issue of US bases in Okinawa, and Kakusan (“proliferation”), the leader. See them in action here.

This year, armed with a bigger budget, they want to stop Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from letting the sales tax rise again, from restarting nuclear reactors and from revising the nation’s constitution.

kawaii characters

In local elections this year, as the Economist reports, the JCP emerged as the country’s largest opposition at the local level. 


The International State Crime Initiative (UCL) hosting film: non-violent resistance in West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements


isci headerThe International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) is very excited to announce it will hosting a screening of 5 Broken Cameras and a Question and Answer Session with Emad Burnat (Director, ‘5 Broken Cameras’) on Tuesday 2nd June 2015 at 18.00, Arts 2 Building, Arts 2 Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

isdi film headerDocumentary overview: The documentary is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. Shot by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel, the film was co-directed by Burnat and Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker.

Structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras, the filmmakers’ collaboration follows one family’s evolution over five years of village upheaval.

As the years pass in front of the camera, we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify and lives are lost in this cinematic diary and unparalleled record of life in the West Bank.

Tickets to this event are limited. To register, please sign-up by clicking here.

Fatima Kanji | Research and Policy Manager

International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) | Follow ISCI @statecrime | Like ISCI on Facebook

School of Law

Queen Mary University of London

Mile End Road

London | E1 4NS​

0207 882 6414

Is soft power undermining Iran after force failed?

Mission accomplished? After an unsuccessful eight year proxy war , money and commodities poured from the United States into the Middle East and, in the name of normality and freedom, all but the strongest young people are being remade in the image of the Western consumer.

iran younger gen

Hard power is exerted by financial inducements, invasion and remote killing by drone aircraft. Soft power sounds quite benign, but as Joseph Nye points out in The Future of Power (2011), it can be wielded for good or ill: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all possessed a great deal of soft power.

He adds: “It is not necessarily better to twist minds than to twist arms”.

Leading where?

roula khalafRecent ‘advances’ in Iran are being celebrated and underpinned by the FT’s Roula Khalaf (left), who was invited to speak in April’s economic summit for female executives akaGlobal Female Leaders‘. She records that the boys and girls of the Islamic Republic watch western television and Iranian expatriate channels beamed from Los Angeles, Washington and London. “The youth are different from 10 years ago,” says Hamid-Reza Jalaipour, a professor of sociology at Tehran University, “Individualism is high . . . they do what they want”.

Soft power ‘achievements’ of satellite channels, social media and clothes designers noted:

  • Instilling a sense of inferiority: “Iranians aren’t known in the world. We’re not a reference for progress. The US is. Europe is”.
  • The rate of divorce has been steadily rising, up more than 5% in the past Iranian year that ended in March.
  • One young man stopped praying and lost faith that the goals of the 1979 Islamic revolution could be achieved. “They were good for 1979 — slogans like oil for free, free housing, equality”.
  • The hijab comes in all colours and patterns. Some don’t even bother tying it around the neck. The jackets that are supposed to conceal their bodies are tighter and the hems are rising up.
  • They spend their lives on social media — Viber is the latest craze, and a forum for jokes about their leaders. According to the ministry of communications’ April figures, 20 million Iranians have smartphones.

Encouraged by the Daily Mail

iran younsters d mail

  • “In downtown Tehran” Ms Khalaf is told, “the kids, aged 16 to 25, call themselves Sholex. They are like a street gang. They come from poor families, and live on the streets, drinking, smoking (tobacco and hashish) and wasting time . . . an outcast society, separated from the rest, living in a world they made up themselves.

In short, exhibiting the downside of Western societies

Surely with some justice, Islamic leaders ‘regularly blame the west for corrupting [the under 40s]. Ms Khalaf continues: “In a recent statement, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader and highest authority, hinted at his frustration. “They [the youth] are intellectually exposed to dangerous threats — the ways of corrupting them are many, there are communications media that can . . . spread a wrong thought or comment”. He continues: “Today the country is not involved in the military war but it is involved in political, economic and security wars — and, above all, the cultural wars.”

Nazanin is a 28-year-old graphic designer, who describes herself as an outcast. “When foreigners look at TV they don’t see the real Iran. We have the surface society and we have the underground society. We have our parties, we get drunk, nothing is legal. We live like in the west.” The police? “You can get around them, especially if you have money and you can pay bribes.”

Some common sense survives – no ‘Arab Spring’ pawns:

Ms Khalaf asked Afra (who works for a research company) and her friends how they envision Iran changing. Step-by-step reform, they say, not upheaval. One revolution for Iran is enough. “The Islamic revolution made us less developed and we’re afraid another one will take us even further backwards,” says Hamid, a 25-year-old finishing graduate studies in engineering. “Look at the Arab revolutions,” he continues, referring to Syria, Egypt, Libya”.

These illusions of normality, freedom and prosperity are confidence trick. The unmentioned features of the USA, a country which young Iranians and others have been led, by soft power, to admire as ‘an ideal state of freedom’, are military aggression, pollution, child abuse, violent pornography, youth unemployment, high cost of housing and energy and inequality.

Israeli-Palestinian security: the surest guarantee

In June last year, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Pope Francis at the Vatican to pray for peace. Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers were said in the Vatican gardens and an olive tree was planted.

pope israeli palestinian presidents

Reports in the New York Times and the Financial Times summarised:              

The Vatican said on Wednesday that it had concluded a treaty to recognize Palestinian statehood, before a visit by Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, to the Vatican on Saturday. It is concerned about the situation of Christians living in the region and Christian holy sites in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories,

There has been increasing international acceptance of Palestine as a state since the United Nations upgraded the Palestinian delegation’s status in 2012 to that of a non-member observer state, after a vote in the General Assembly.

Pope Francis has long expressed a wish for a Palestinian state and of late the Vatican Year Book has referred to the Palestinian envoy to the Holy See as representing the “State of Palestine”. The pope also used the words “state of Palestine” on the visit to the Holy Land in 2014, when he prayed at the Israeli wall, three storeys high, that runs through Bethlehem.

the wall

An Israeli diplomatic source is reported to have said: “We are disappointed by the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’. It does nothing to advance the cause of peace. In fact the opposite — it further distances the Palestinians from returning to negotiations.

Some 138 countries now recognise Palestine as a state, and governments in Britain, Ireland, France and Spain held ‘symbolic’ [non-binding] votes calling on their leaders to follow the example of Sweden. The European Parliament has voted to recognise the state of Palestine “in principle”, describing it as key to the advancement of peace talks in the region.

palestinian recognised mapSource:

This treaty is the latest sign of Pope Francis’ constructive foreign policy, following an earlier encyclical on climate change and human ecology and his recent meeting with Cuban president Raúl Castro; according to President Obama, this helped to broker the easing of diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington.

Not swords but ploughshares:

“Israel should have nothing to fear. The surest guarantee of its security is peaceful coexistence with a Palestinian state”: Philip Stephens, associate editor of the Financial Times (16.9.14).

As Girish Kotwal from Louisville, Kentucky commented [New York Times], we hope this will serve as “a catalyst for permanent peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and an end to all violence, rockets and bombardment. Shalom and Salaam”.

Sources include:

Inspired by Martin Niemöller

First a bomb irradiated Hiroshima, and we did not speak out – because we were not living in Japan;.

hiroshima bomb

  • then people in Guantanamo were imprisoned and tortured, and we did not speak out – because our sons were safe;
  • then drones bombed civilians in Pakistan, and we did not speak out – because we were far away in Britain;
  • then Britain’s Tornado and Reaper drones dropped over 200 bombs or other missiles on Iraqi targets, and we did not speak out – because it was kept secret;
  • then our allies bombed and blockaded Yemen, and we did not speak out – because we were not threatened;.

yemen search 4 survivorsPeople search for survivors.

Then they came for us – and there was no one left to help us