The cruel farce of ‘humanitarian intervention’

April 8, 2017

Simon Jenkins: “It is a war crime to disable, maim or poison a victim by chemical or biological means, yet it is permissible to blow them to bits. Dropping chlorine evokes howls of horror. Dropping bunker busters does not. Cluster munitions, the most horrible of delayed action weapons, remain in the arsenals of NATO armies.

Many of us are now applauding this ‘aid to Syria’

Jenkins reflects that not a week passes without some new horror emanating from the vortex of the Middle East: “So called ‘wars among the peoples’ are, like all civil wars, distinctively terrible. Cities deaden the impact of an infantry advance. Reckless bombing takes over and accidents happen. Saudi Arabia bombs a funeral party in Sanaa. Russia bombs an aid convoy and a hospital in Aleppo. Western planes bomb friendly troops outside Mosul. There is no appetite for British troops on the ground. All talk is of bombing, intervention lite”.

Britain has already contributed too much to Syria’s hell:

  • It helped America create a power vacuum in neighbouring Iraq where Isis could form and flourish.
  • It then encouraged and gave material support to the rebels against Assad in 2012, ensuring that he would need support from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.
  • American and RAF aircraft killed 80 Syrian soldiers protecting the town of Deir Ezzor from Isis.
  • British ‘intelligence’ has given America information, enabling them to kill many civilians alongside their stated targets.

Syria and the cruel farce of ‘humanitarian intervention: “Affecting to save people by bombing them from a great height is not just ineffective but immoral”

 Walking through Aleppo now

Jenkins gave many examples of this immorality and ineffectiveness – just four follow: ”Some 12,000 coalition bombing sorties have been directed at Isis in northern Iraq in the past two years. Tens of thousands of civilians have died in the ‘collateral’ carnage. In Syria, the human rights network estimates that Russian bombs have killed more Syrian civilians than Isis. Last year the Americans bombed an MSF hospital in Afghanistan. Bombs are unreliable. Stuff happens”.

He explains the appeal of airborne weapons to politicians down the ages

“For rich aggressors against poorly armed foes, they have glamour and immunity to counterattack, and have found new life in so called precision targeting and unmanned drones. In reality they have proved almost useless against fanatical soldiers with mortars and AK 47s. But they look good on television back home. They are ‘something being done’ “.

Jenkins describes the disintegration of the Middle East as a tragedy for Islam, but not the West’s business. Here we disagree, seeing it as a result of Anglo-Saxon West intervention, using soft and hard power.

The Scotsman reports that Alex Salmond, the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman, joined Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who is calling for greater effort to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict: “The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.”

Corbyn: “Reconvene the Geneva peace talks and exert unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement”

The Labour leader said: “Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account. But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.

“What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and exert unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.”

Jenkins: Nations and peoples do have a humanitarian obligation to aid those afflicted by war, to relieve suffering, not add to it, to aid those trying to comfort war’s victims and offer sanctuary to its refugees, not to take sides, guns blazing, in other people’s civil wars:

“British politicians would do better to spend their time organising relief than shouting adjectives, banging drums and dropping bombs”.

 

 

 

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Conceding the EU’s shortcomings, as individuals and as a nation we have much to gain from continued membership

June 16, 2016

A clear and persuasive article in the Friend, 17 June 2016

 

Over the years my wife and I have been to Vienna, Strasbourg, Prague, Amsterdam and Florence and walked across a Rhine footbridge into Germany into the small German town of Kehl. In all these places we were genuinely welcomed and felt a real sense of being Europeans.

While conceding that the EU has its shortcomings, we believe that as individuals and as a nation we have much to learn and to gain from continued membership. This view is shared by many financial, medical, cultural, trade and human rights organisations with a much greater insight than we can claim.

We would be deeply concerned if, in event of Brexit, the UK became even more dependent on the expansionist foreign and military policy of the United States, which, I believe, has a long record of ousting elected democracies by force.

The US accounts for almost half of all global spending on weapons; it sells to the UK the missiles needed for our Trident weapons of mass destruction, and it provides huge military support to Saudi Arabia and Israel, two countries that, arguably, have fomented instability in the Middle East.

We believe it would be much harder to solve problems diplomatically if the UK were to leave the EU, and that such an exit would itself trigger serious political/financial instability within Europe, to the great cost of ordinary people.

The EU can do much to improve employment conditions and human rights, which could be greatly furthered by further international research and development collaboration, projects in transport, education and climate change prevention.

Ken and Kay Veitch

Cheshire East Area Meeting


David Edwards of Media Lens asks disturbing ‘basic questions’

March 21, 2014

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media lens header.

      • Who actually shapes foreign policy?
      • What are their goals?
      • How much influence does the public really have?

He adds: “In our society, as we have noted, defence issues are barely mentioned at election time, while foreign policy options among the major parties are limited to pro-war choices”.

Turning for help to the official record – released government documents – he quotes a passage revealing the thinking behind the mid-twentieth century wars in Vietnam and Korea, Southeast Asia: 

“The UK, the US and France agreed that it was ‘important for the economy of Western Europe that Western Europe trading and business interests in Southeast Asia should be maintained’, since it was ‘rich in natural resources and certain countries in the area at present produce surplus foodstuffs’. (Quoted, Ibid, p.20).”

The Pew Research Journalism Project found last September that ‘the No.1 message’ on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera, was ‘that the U.S. should get involved in the conflict’ in Syria.

war damage

The ruinous consequences of military action

Edwards comments: “The surprise failure to achieve that war has been a festering wound in the psyches of cruise missile liberals everywhere ever since”. One such, Michael Ignatieff, is said to portray himself as a man of peace reluctantly forced to endorse war as a last resort. In March 2003, he wrote in the Guardian:

“Bush is right when he says Iraq would be better off if Saddam were disarmed and, if necessary, replaced by force . . . The problem is not that overthrowing Saddam by force is “morally unjustified”. Who seriously believes that 25 million Iraqis would not be better off if Saddam were overthrown?” Edwards disagrees: “No rational person can doubt (that 25 million Iraqis are not better off) after one million post-invasion deaths”.

Another journalist, Paul Mason, in his Channel 4 News blog last month, ‘How the west slipped into powerlessness,’ wrote: ‘When the USA decided, last summer, it could not sell military intervention in Syria – either to its parliaments, its people or its military – it sent a signal to every dictator, torturer and autocrat in the world . . . “. Media Lens challenged Mason who failed to reply. Points made included:

      • It is simply wrong to claim that the US is not intervening in Syria.
      • What right the US has to act as world policeman?

The US case for waging war without UN approval was clear: the alleged Syrian government use of chemical weapons. Given that this claim has been seriously challenged, Media Lens asked Mason what other basis he had in mind for waging war.

Finally, they asked him if the utterly horrific death toll resulting from the US-UK wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya caused him to question his view that the obstruction of a US attack was a ‘disaster’ for Syria.

They quoted epidemiologist Les Roberts, co-author of the 2004 and 2006 Lancet studies on the Iraq death toll: ‘There are a series of surveys now implying 1/2 million deaths is a low side estimate… I think the 650,000 estimate in the second Lancet study was low…Thus, I think there is little doubt 1/2 million died violently. I suspect the direct and indirect deaths exceeded 1,000,000…’ (Email to Media Lens, Les Roberts, January 11, 2014)

Western and regional governments share responsibility for Libya imploding into chaos and violence –  and so should the media

Patrick Cockburn notes in the Independent: “’Western and regional governments share responsibility for much that has happened in Libya, but so too should the media. The Libyan uprising was reported as a simple-minded clash between good and evil”. But Edwards describes the assault on Libya as “a major war crime, a blatant abuse of UN resolution 1973 in pursuit of regime change – illegal under international law”.

Media Lens puts these issues into perspective: “Spare a thought for people struggling to survive in Afghanistan. Or people dying under drone attack in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Or people dying under the tyrannies ‘we’ arm and support in Egypt, Israel, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and so on.

Read the article here: http://medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=758:killing-trend-the-cruise-missile-liberals&catid=52:alerts-2014&Itemid=245



Defensive defence? “America needs a new foreign policy rooted in today’s reality, not in yesterday’s cold war or in tomorrow’s dream of global democracy”

August 3, 2012

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Political commentator and journalist Pat Buchanan, who stood twice for a US presidential nomination, has consistently called for an end to US military intervention where no vital interest was imperilled.

Before hackles rise, let me add that the writer’s agreement is confined to this policy and to his views on out-sourcing.

Last week in the Financial Times he described presidential campaigns in which his team advocated a foreign policy of peaceful commerce with all nations but entangling alliances with none.

The US cannot afford any more neo-imperial nonsense

This phrase has been widely quoted and often accompanied by Buchanan’s  explanation:

“We cannot afford any more neo-imperial nonsense. With trillion-dollar deficits, a soaring national debt, and 10,000 baby boomers reaching eligibility for Social Security and Medicare every day, the US is beginning to break under the strain of its commitments . . .

“A biblical hubris took hold of our republic. By pushing Nato into Russia’s front yard, planting bases in central Asia, dispatching democracy crusaders to subvert regimes in Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia, we undid the good work of Reagan and drove Moscow back into alliance with Beijing.

“US influence in the Middle East is at a nadir. Our alliances with Turkey and Saudi Arabia are frayed. Pakistan bristles. Israel impatiently dismisses our pathetic pleas for it to stop building settlements. And as the Muslim Brotherhood rose when Hosni Mubarak fell in Cairo, so it looks likely to rise again when Bashar al-Assad falls in Damascus.

His policies 

He asks what US soldiers are still doing in the Korean demilitarised zone and advocates:

  • ending the war in Afghanistan,
  • closing US bases in central Asia,
  • telling Ukraine and Georgia that Nato membership is closed,
  • telling Putin that if he stays out of our yard, we will stay out of his,
  • a foreign policy of peaceful commerce with all nations.

With regard to conflict in China, India, Japan and Russia, he advises: “Let the neighbours do the containment.”

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Paul Craig Roberts is an American economist  who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He now writes for the successful independent Creators Syndicate, making a similar analysis here – with the grim cartoon above.

However he offers no positive recommendations there so we end by echoing Buchanan:

Let us cease our interventions and call a halt to our endless hectoring. How other nations rule themselves is not really the US’s business. If there is nation-building to be done, let it begin here.