Thursday, 22 December 2016

Poland Under A Black Light -December 2016 and the Resurrected Spectre of a Martial Law.

'Over the past week, the Polish parliament controlled by the Law and Justice (PiS) party passed legislations dismantling the current primary education system, finalizing its overhaul of the country’s constitutional court, and de facto limiting the freedom of assembly. A chaotic night on Friday has both sides of the political conflict accusing each other of a coup d’etat. 

Since then, opposition lawmakers have been occupying the parliament’s main hall. Meanwhile, on the streets of the country’s cities, people have been protesting tirelessly nearly every day. The desperation is palpable: some protesters have been blocking politicians’ cars with their own bodies, while others are camping out in front of the parliament in the middle of Poland’s frigid December.'
  
Poland is in the Middle of an Existential Struggle over the Shape of its Democracy, Quartz , December 21 2016. 

The EU has yet again failed to act to do anything to prevent the slide of Poland towards something akin to Martial Law and a form of dictatorship. Poland was granted another two month deadline to scrap the politicised appointments to the Constitutional Tribunal that has set Poland back on the way to autocracy.

PiS has already simply ignored the EU and thus explicitly broken membership rules as regards preserving an independent judiciary and the separation of powers. The Foreign Ministry replied, in the manner of the most robotic and functionary styles of communique issued under the one party state of the old People's Republic
 "In connection with the appointment by the President of a new President of the Constitutional Tribunal on 21 December, we consider that the political dispute over the Tribunal has been ended. “In the face of these new facts, we consider the European Commission maintaining that there is a systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland is all the more unwarranted. We hope that our explanations will be understood by the European Commission”
This is the way PiS fanatics always end an argument-by a decree that it is sententiously declared over because, morally, they have actually lost the argument and know it. Unfortunately for them, this has dispute only just started. Unless, hoewever, they intend to 'end it' by iron martial law and by using force.

"Objective dialogue" is the usual refrain of these robotic functionaries and it is pure national-communist and Gierek era newspeak. What it means is that other opinions shall be listened to and the reality, as decreed by the new version of the People's Republic, shall not be altered by internal enemies defying its will.

Effectively, PiS is claiming that the political dispute has been ended by its politicisation of the judiciary, an absurd Kafkesque claim in line with the fundamental illogic that defines regime proclaimations, such as that on 21st December where the political protests were declared 'criminal and illegal'.

Indeed, it seems Poland under PiS has taken Kafka's The Trial as a set text as to how to inhabit a shadowy parallel reality where black is white, up is down and where dismantling the rule of law is legal so long as the Chairman of the Party decrees it as being so and his acolytes agree.

"We appeal to the opposition to return to a situation in which it accepts that law is binding," Kaczynski stated in a televisedpress conference along with his closest political functionaries. "We are facing an acceptance of actions that are of criminal character". This is Orwellian doublethink of the first order.

This, despite the fact that Kaczynski claimed that he was merely only an 'ordinary MP' for PiS. Naturally, Beata Szydlo, the supposedly 'official Prime Minister, was sitting to his side at the press conference. President Duda, a partisan PiSite, despite his official ceremonial role, also claimed he wanted to 'mediate'.

This is the usual PiS mechanism of asserting control. They take two steps forward, back down slightly, claim they are 'reasonable' and the opposition is not, while biding their time for the next attempt to chip away at Poland's constitutional democracy and push forward the same illegal agenda once more.

None of the decisions made by the Constitutional Tribunal in the 2016 were ever ratified. They are ratified only when they are officially published and Szydło, under orders from Kaczyński , the real figure in power, refused sign the order to publish them while claiming this was in harmony with new 'legal' norms. 

Events in Poland could end in blood, despite the commonly held belief that Poles would not kill Poles. Once the sinister language of reducing opponents to enemies has taken hold, a nation can become deeply polarised and fearful. Duda's rhetoric about 'real Poles' and those of a 'lesser sort' is part of it.

Deprived on any real enemies, PiS has had to neurotically conjure them up. The Russian threat has been way overblown by them for many years but in 2016 seems plausible.The German threat is not from nationalism but from its dominance of the EU and forcing imposed 'multi-culti' norms on the Polish nation.

PiS and Atavistic Fears.

The EU insistence on mandatory quotas on Poland, though it amounted to a mere 13,000 displaced refugees, hit a nerve: Poland has remained free from terrorism because it has virtually no immigrant communities from Muslim majority nations and until recently felt relatively free from that threat.

The migrant crisis of 2015 deeply unhinged much popular opinion in Poland, where ultranationalists regard as a bulwark against the twin threats of Russo-Bolshevik barbarism and Muslim terrorist migrant hordes aiming to colonise open spaces, not least in a steadily depopulating Poland, especially villages and provincial towns.

The 500+ zl reward for child bearing and the attempt to ban abortion is part of a nativist panic over low birth rates and a consequence of the mass emigration, another aspect of these disturbingly quick social dislocations the lumbering and technocratic EU never thought about in regard to V4 nations.

'Freedom of movement' in practice in 2004 meant mass emigration out as Poland's economy simply had not had the time to redevelop after the half a century of communist economic mismanagement. The failure of neoliberal policies was bound to create anger and a backlash against political liberalism.

The swing towards PiS in the elections of October 2015 reflected the fear of Merkel's botched and mismanaged 'open door' policy to migrants and refugees. But it also reflects the terror some Poles feel at the prospect of Poles, even 'real Poles', being replaced by others as young Poles continue to migrate West.

While many may have regretted voted PiS, and some PiS MEPs have suggested the inner PiS core elites have gone way too far and abused the trust of the Polish electorate, it could be that many will swallow their distate for his regime and trade off freedom for the sake of being completely secure.

But the fear is out of control. One PiS MP even suggested all alien elements within Poland ought to be forced to sign a document expressly agreeing that they accept 'Polish values', as defined by those such as her and the Party, or else face deportation. This applied not just to foreigners but also to Polish 'atheists'.

The Cultural War Against Enemies Within.

This has dovetailed with longer standing angers, grievances and Kaczynski's paranoid cultural battle. An entire nation is, in part, captive to the neurotic monomanias of Kaczynski, that he is Poland and, therefore, was deliberately sidelined from post-Solidarity politics in the 1990s.

PiS regime functionaries are, in a sense, political zombies, the political undead still incapable of moving on from the dark limited confines of national-communism in the 1970s and 1980s into the new light of freedom since 1990, when the Round Table Agreement between Solidarity and the the communists ended the regime.

So all that has happened since the Round Table Agreement is a betrayal, mistake and part of a continued communist regime in a new form. In habiting this bizarre parallel shadow reality, they are incapable of moving on like traumatized victims wanting to haunt those living now, vampires obsessed with vengeance and blood.

So the Solidarity struggle and its post-communist disappointments have morphed into a betrayal of the blood sacrifice of ' real Poles', one that that was never expiated by the blood of the victimisers and their 'collaborators', who now include everyone suspected of being secret Jews or crypto-communists.

This, of course, includes Solidarity hero Lech Walesa who is baselessly accused of being Agent Bolek in the 1970s, a secret communist police agent, as well as numerous others including the maligned former PO Prime Minister Donald Tusk whose father, a Kashub, is accused of collaborating with the Nazis.

In the primitive mindset of such ultranationalists, guilt is collective, just as reward and virtue depends on bloodlines too. a common charge amongst deranged ultranationalists is that Solidarity activist Adam Michnik was a Jew ( 'Adam Hechter' ) who avoided ZOMO attention in the 1981 struggle by wearing a kippah.

PiS has tappen into this by its history wars too, one where Jews are not 'real Poles', though tolerated at best if they behaved themselves, and so any provision of facts about the wartime NSZ partisan movement murdering Polish Jews is to be ignored through lauding them as 'cursed soldiers'.

PiS follows in the footsteps of partisan wartime movements that fought on after the official government-in exile and the AK forces downed arms after the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 against the Nazis and as the Soviet regime moved in to take over a devastated and traumatised nation.

Yet it has tried to position itself as the only official inheritor of the AK and the NSZ militias, the militia formation that was, as Halik Kochanski pointed out in the Eagle Unbowed, 'rabidly antisemitic' and was prepared to turn over Jews hiding in the forests to the Gestapo.

The NSZ also was responsible for low grade ethnic cleansing through use of terror in the closing days of World War Two in order to finish off the job the Nazis had mostly completed for them in the extermination camps in Poland. Its partisans shot dead Jews escaping from Warschau KL  in their uniforms.

One reason for the lauding of the NSZ is that it fought both the Nazis and the Soviet Communist regime and their partisans. The murderous antisemitism is not only to be denied but its very mention, and that of post-war pogroms, conflated with a conspiracy to smear and slander the nation.

So apart from witch hunts against alleged 'collaborators' with communism and Nazism that are faked for political convenience is the attempt to use a manufactured outrage at the crude and insensitive use of the term 'Polish death camps' into a pretext to close down historical inquiry into Polish antisemitism.

The 'logic' behind this is to affect the belief that PiS and the ultranationalists it is prepared to mobilise on the streets are the 'real victims'. So any attempt to point out Polish misdeeds during World War two is another evil demonic plot to destroy its pride and just as much as criticising PiS policies in 2016 is.

Philosopher John Gray noted precisely the connection between the new 'illiberal' or, better, rise of toxic democracies' leading towards greater authoritarianism when he wrote,  in The Age of Hyper-Terrorism, about the connection between it and the attempt to control history and independent scholarship.
'The new Polish regime has gone further, altering beyond recognition institutions that were put in place in the country after the fall of communism. The political independence of the constitutional court, the judiciary and the civil service has been curtailed and pluralism in the media attacked. Echoes of a dark past can be heard in reports that the government is considering stripping Princeton’s distinguished, Polish-born Holocaust scholar Jan Tomasz Gross of the Order of Merit because he has noted the participation of parts of the Polish population in anti-Semitic mass murders during the years of Nazi occupation'. 
Kaczynski is obsessed with fake history and the idea of establishing the idea that the Smolensk Air crash of 2010 was yet another attempt by Russia to murder Poland's political elite and hand it over to collaborators. Tusk, who is actually an educated and professional historian, was absurdly accused of complicity.

The entire empty and barren life of Kaczynski, this horrible and ghoulish little person, is simply one vindictive hate crusade against everyone and everything that has thwarted his fanatical and narrow minded vision of what Poland was, is and will be under the Poland he should have dominated.

Kaczynski lives in an eerie 1986 time warp, unaware of computers, prices in shops etc. Time stopped for him long ago and that makes him dangerous. He is so obsessed with the idea history did not go his and his followers way that those who oppose him are simply to be removed from public life or downgraded.

At another level, the pathological victim and trauma complex embodied within PiS propaganda is politically useful in mobilising all those 'losers' from the post-communist transition. Those who feel victimised by unemployment, poverty and insecure job contracts blame 'the elites' for the scale of the betrayal.

Such disappointed expectations as to what it would deliver, a Poland as it was essentially but free from communist oppression, has given way to the idea that it was all part of a sinister transnational design to destroy the fibre of Polish nation, yet another means to destroy it through stealthier techniques of neo-colonialism.

This paranoid trope is one that unites PiS with Kukiz 15 and other political formation which all hold the they and 'Poland'-for they are Poland, of course-have been held back by mythical communists in a new guise, demonic 'cultural marxists' who repackaged themselves as liberals and the social-democratic left.

Kukiz, a former rock star, is far-right avant garde political activism for 21st century Polish youth, those  alienated by the bleak prospect of emigration or dead end or low salary jobs. 40% recently declared they had though about leaving. Kukiz referred to emigration as effectively another 'extermination' of the Polish nation.

The Smolensk Conspiracy plays its part here in bolstering this credo: the threat posed by PiS 'social justice' crusaders meant that they had to be taken out by a PO and Kremlin plot to destroy the authentic 'real Poles' from public life by plotting to down Lech's presidential plane in 2010.

State of Emergency: The Spectre of Martial Law Resurrected.

The danger is that every manifestation of protest against the PiS regime, including KOD, is going to be seen as an attempt to 'take them out', one reason the shrill PiS functionary Beata Mazurek hysterically claimed that the December protests in the Sejm were part of a plot to 'murder' them.

This is a frightening form of psychological projection: it amounts to claiming that all security precautions , including use of soldiers and national guards should be used to beat off the 'terrorist threat'. As with Erdogan's Turkey, terror attacks are being mendaciously conflated with domestic opposition.

Hence Szydlo's declaration of a state of emergency in the light of using the death of the Polish truck driver in the Berlin Christmas attacks as a pretext to push through security measures which could be used to target KOD and other street protester regarded as 'alien elements' and 'intruders'.

Szydlo has ordered military police to patrol the streets of Polish cities, until January 15 2017. By that time the watered down media laws and restrictions on public assembly could be rammed through as over Christmas PiS has seized control of the Constitutional Tribunal, after Rzeplinski's term ended.

Soldiers from Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw will have the power to intervene in criminal matters, to demand identification from members of the public, and to use firearms. No doubt, they can be used to push back protesters from the Sejm, at least to scale up the 'Poland in crisis' mood.

PiS are experts at watching events elsewhere and drawing what they consider 'legitimate prallels'. As France extended its state of emergency' in December, the Berlin Christmas attacks have confirmed the PiS line that it is not doing anything other European nations are not, despite the absence of Islamist threats.

Jarosław Zieliński, her deputy minister of internal affairs, has told the Senate "It has to do with what is happening at the moment in Warsaw; what is happening and has happened at the Sejm". This is proof of PiS linking KOD to 'terrorism' and as part of Kaczynski's accusation of 'criminal attacks'.

The potential for this crisis to escalate into another Ukrainian Euromaidan style winter of protest , as in 2013-2014, should not be discounted. Though not as divided as Ukraine, and without the West-East geopolitical tussle that forged a civil war there, a civil conflict is brewing.

A mass occupation of Warsaw could actually frighten PiS into overresponding. It would be unlikely until later in 2017 once the territorial army has been properly indoctrinated and trained by Macierewicz and his Defence Ministry into a force capable of crushing the 'enemy within'.

A Defence Ministry statement in April 2016 made plain the melding of Poland's volunteer battalions into a reserve army force was about combatting the Russian threat, Muslim intruders and what it referred to as 'anti-state activists'. There is no guarantee it would not be a PiS supporting militia force.

Moves have already been made to grant financial rewards to volunteer battalions which are designed, like the 500+zl bonus, to create a new Catholic fundamentalist and authoritarian-corporatist Poland of heroic mothers and fighters that is united under the 'visionary leader' Jaroslaw Kaczynski.


Saturday, 17 December 2016

Poland, December 2016 : The Deepening Crisis.

“Everybody sees that PiS has crossed a certain line and nothing will be the same any more,” Tomasz Siemoniak, deputy leader of the biggest opposition party Civic Platform said. The parliament was surrounded by hundreds of police, some of whom were carrying rubber bullet guns.
The useless EU seems powerless to do much to warn the PiS regime that if it should continue to chip away at destroying the pillars of Poland's democracy that there will be severe consequences. Neither the Venice Commission nor the EU Parliament seem to have much power to deter regime fanatics.

The huge danger for Poland in 2017 will be the continued fragmentation of the EU and the focus of most attention on Brexit, the French elections and the migrant crisis should Turkey open the floodgates once more. Kaczynski is no doubt playing for time and hoping he can exploit the EU crisis to impose regime power further.

Many in the West of Europe are largely unaware of the chilling fanaticism of PiS. It is not impossible that opposition protesters could be forcibly banned from freedom of assembly in future. The bill to prohibit this and allow only for public gatherings endorsed by state and church was only watered down at the last moment.

The Defence Minister, Antoni Macierewicz, has coordinated volunteer defence battalions in to a 'territorial army'. A defence ministry communique revealed that this reserve army was intended not only for use against 'the Russian threat' but also against Muslim threats and that posed by 'anti-state activists'.

Deploying an armed militia against protesters clearly would meet the definition of an authoritarian state akin to that of the national-communist regime of Gomulka and Gierek, one where ZOMO was unleashed upon those protested against it and where strikers were shot dead those armed with weapons.

The anti-communist credentials of the PiS regime are largely bogus, hence the systematic and paranoid attempt to smear former Solidarity leaders opposed to Kaczynski as 'collaborators'. The regime only detests the left-wing symbolism and ideology of the People's Republic; a far-right version of the same is preferred.

PiS is not, as the Western media keep casually repeating, a conservative government. It is a far-right radical clerico-authoritarian regime based on the idea it represents 'real Poles', a narrative undepinned by a retarded and infantile narrative of 'heroes' ( such as the dead Lech ) versus sneering 'traitors' such as Lech Walesa.

Central to this is the Orwellian rewriting of history during the communist period and that of Solidarity to emphasise the role of Kaczynskis beyond recognition and to airbrush out those who have opposed them. Sickly ideological fantasies are to be taught at 'fact' in history lessons at school just as under the People's Republic.

Kaczynski cannot call his primitive lunge for complete power as a revolutionary overthrow, though he might see it as a counter-revolution against 'cultural Marxists' and the PO and Nowoczesna, both bizarrely smeared as being 'communist' or 'left wing' contrary to the evident fact both are very far from being either.

The retarded political discourse within Poland's 'populist' right has all those not adhering to ultranationalist positions as being 'communist' as a way of marshalling the anger of those who have not benefitted enough from the post-communist transition. The neoliberal economic model has failed in Poland as elsewhere.

The leading opposition to PiS, other than the enfeebled liberal and liberal-conservative parties, comes from Kukiz 15, one that took the most youth votes in the October 2015 elections. Kukiz predictably blames the continued hardship and poverty on 'communists' and, of course, 'Jewish bankers' like George Soros.

Poland is returning in many ways to the style of politics that emerged in the 1930s, even down to the revival of antisemitism. Kukiz politicians have formed a body explicitly named after Roman Dwowski's Endecja: rather than looking east for the enemy, as PiS does as well as to Germany, it sees Russia as a future hope.

Far from being a new Pilsudski, Kaczynski has more in common with Gomulka. The difference this time is Poland is not even under the threat of foreign domination. Yet PiS continues, through its abject fear of the modern world, to seek the recreation of a Poland free from alien elements and devoted to Catholic fundamentalism.

In the fanatical pursuit of this deranged state, PiS has relentlessly demonised opposition as enemies and has shown it is prepared to be ruthless and aggressive in the process. Uncertainty and fear is hanging over this land and the picture is steadily getting darker by the day in this bleakest December of 2016.

The Fall of East Aleppo 2016 : Posturing and Positioning within Britain.

'While all the focus is now on Aleppo, we need to remember that nearly five million Syrians are living in other besieged and hard-to-access cities, towns and villages. Aid drops are urgently needed. Britain and other states with the capacity must act now.'
Peter Tatchell has not got a clue what he is talking about and is posturing. The crisis in Aleppo has been brewing a long time and only in the closing weeks of this bleak December of 2016 are Britain's MPs stamping their feet and emitting shrill rhetoric about the consequences of having not intervened back in 2013.

The reason is because the British political class has continually supported, in fact and deed, the intervention in Syria that actually has happened, through backing Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia's policy as early as 2012 of using the Sunni uprising to overthrow Assad. It was bound to develop into the brutal proxy war it became.

As the fall of east Aleppo is all but inevitable, aid drops by drone are effectively going to be hopeless. Tatchell's belief that Borisj Johnson is 'making excuses' simply misses the mark; transport aircraft would indeed get shot down. Russia has aerial dominance and has enforced an effective 'no-fly zone' over the city.

The time is not for accusations of war crimes connected to tribunals and punishments in advance of diplomatic talk by all the regional powers concerned. Britain is supporting Saudi Arabia in committing war crimes in Sanaa in Yemen. This atrocity is almost being screened out completely from the news in the West.

This indeed shows the selective humanitarianism of Britain's political class means that it gets little mention. Saudi Arabia has been rightly criticised by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn but it seems hardly likely that many of his own cabinet or party would take any ethical initiative that went against the grain of US policy.

Even so, what Britain could be doing is ceasing all military assistance and all arms deals to Saudi Arabia pending a ceasefire there and its full commitment to diplomacy to resolve what is a regional proxy war between primarily Iran and the Gulf States, one undergirded by sectarian enmities whipped up by both.

None of the major regional powers would sit down to talks on the basis that in advance many of them are going to be later tried for war crimes. If Britain told Riyadh that it needs to make peace so that then its leading statesmen and the leaders of the militias it backed are going to be arrested, they will simply fight on.

Given that the US and Britain are complicit in supporting war crimes in Yemen, the US certainly would not agree and , anyway, President Obama's administration is on its way out and Donald Trump will be in office by late January 2017. There is just no realistic chance of waging a struggle on human rights grounds alone.

Tatchell's idea about sending in UN peacekeepers only could make sense after a peace has been forged, at least a durable ceasefire and commitment by all sides to end the proxy war. It is the backing of vying regional powers for geopolitical dominance-connected to energy routes- that is fuelling the continued carnage.

The idea observers would last more than a few days in war-torn regions of Syria is ludicrous. Either regime forces would prevent them moving around or jihadists would kidnap or murder them. Even independent journalists are not reporting from east Aleppo. It's virtually impossible as they would disappear quickly.

Britain ought to try is to align closer with Iran slightly just as to send the message to Saudi Arabia that its policy in Syria is no longer supported. Nor in Yemen. At least Obama started to move towards that position but neither Tatchell nor many MPs seem to understand how regional geopolitical strategy has actually 'worked'.

If MPs do understand, as Osborne probably does, the rhetoric about 'doing something' or the 'duty to intervene' back in 2013 is all about making Britain and themselves appear to have some moral highground and to absolve themselves from responsibility for the carnage they are responsible for helped having unleashed.

Britain has intervened in Syria by backing Saudi policy and 'Assad must go' instead of pursuing regional diplomacy. Whether the fall of Aleppo spells the end of the war is doubtful but as none of those who once encouraged the Sunni rebels now wants to back them, the gory endgame is the result consequently playing out.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Britain, East Aleppo and the Disintegration of the Liberal Interventionist World Order

'We are beginning to learn the price of not intervening'. George Osborne MP.


One of the most depressing aspects of the disintegration of the EU and the failure of liberal politics is the recourse not to blaming mediocre politicians and their serial incompetence, both at home and abroad, but in latching on to conspiracy theories to rationalise away precisely those failures at a time of undoubted crisis.

Ben Bradshaw, ranting in Parliament, claimed Russia was 'deliberately' bombarding Aleppo in order to worsen the refugee crisis and so to destabilise the EU. George Osborne bizarrely claimed that Britain's failure into 'intervene' had somehow helped create a world order in which both Russia and ISIS were both new twin threats.

Desperate to find any reason other than their own lack of vision and incompetence for the election of Trump and the EU referendum on Brexit, the shrill Bradshaw finds a scapegoat in Russia whose manipulation was “highly probable”. This sort of unproven conspiracy mongering shows a complete denial of reality.

For a start it plays into the hands of those who claim liberal democracy is so weak that it cannot resist the bias of RT or Kremlin subterfuge. The EU referendum vote was free and fair. There is no evidence UKIP has received funds from Moscow, though the West has funded oppositionist groups in ex-Soviet dominated lands.

As a consequence of continued Western meddling from both the EU and US in the affairs of states such as Ukraine and Georgia for example, it is hardly surprising that fervent Atlanticists and liberal interventionists such as Bradshaw project such motives on to the Kremlin as a way of diverting attention from Western failures.

The most obvious examples, apart from the domestic failure of neoliberal economic policies in nations both West but especially in the East-hence the mass exodus West-is in foreign policy. George Osborne laments the failure to intervene in 2013 as somehow 'causing' the consequences of the bombing of Aleppo now.

Yet this airbrushes out from perception the fact that had Assad been removed by air strikes in 2013, jihadists would have taken over most of Syria and caused a far worse bloodbath than the one reaching its gory endgame in east Aleppo. The 'moderate rebels' were a geopolitical fiction even back in 2013 and remain so in 2016.

The only way to have averted he Aleppo tragedy and the hypocritically downplayed and unmentionable one going on in Sanna in Yemen at present, courtesy of UK backed Saudi airstrikes, would have been to stand up to Saudi backing for jihadist forces in Syria and have pushed for diplomatic solutions in 2013.

There was never any realistic chance in the context of a brutal civil war with a strong sectarian element of enmity driving it, one backed by regional players as part of a proxy war for advantage over the other, that any one side could be the outright winner, other than Assad who controlled a 'functioning' state and army.

The botched intervention in Libya in 2011 simply repeated the mistakes of Iraq. The country is even worse than it was when Gaddafi ruled it. Syria would have been dominated by ISIS had Assad been knocked out as part of 'regime change'. Putin prevented that from happening and now seeks to finish off the rebels for good.

Denunciations of Russian attacks on Aleppo as a 'New Guernica' is savvy 'public diplomacy' that advertises 'our values'. Yet US and UK missiles and bombs are killing casualties in Iraq. ISIS is using human shields in Mosul as the Iraqi army strafes and bombs it; and jihadi groups in east Aleppo are dying precisely the same.

The only moral high ground comes from the idea that ISIS is ISIS and there are no 'moderates' among them. Effectively, there are few if any 'moderates' left over from the original FSA in Aleppo. If they cared so much for the civilian population, the time of the ceasefire would have been the best time to compromise.

However, the jihadists in east Aleppo vowed to 'fight to the last drop of blood'. Partly, this is because it is claimed Assad would give no quarter and no mercy. Other reports claim that there are plans to provide an exit route form them outwards towards Idlib along with civilians trapped in the beleaguered city

Alleviating the civilian misery in Aleppo is one thing that could still be achieved through diplomacy. Yet using airpower to drop supplies would cause problems with Russia in those crowded skies : it effectively has a 'no-fly zone' above it and, other than plans for drones to drop aid, using transport aircraft is almost impossible.

Certainly, British MPs could do something to tell the government to stop supporting the massacre of Sanaa.The US has already indicated that it wants to halt the supply of some arms to saudi Arabia, but that would appear yet more 'public diplomacy' designed to make it seem distant from the slaughter it is backing there.

All this posturing in Parliament is choreography. There is no real debate but just point making and positioning. Osborne cannot give any real sense as to how intervention ( i.e RAF bombing ) could have prevented this bombing by Russia now other than by committing Britain to another war such as Libya ( which failed )

Osborne claims east Aleppo is what happens as a consequence of not intervening, hoping all memory of what happened when Britain did could be erased by sententious moral rhetoric. But Britain did intervene. Britain helped cause this catastrophe, though, by intervening in the proxy war by supporting Saudi policy.

It did this from the outset of the uprising then turning into a civil war between Sunnis ranged against Assad because of the continued delusion that removing a secular dictator, not least one close to Russia and Iran, would ingratiate Britain with its Sunni Gulf allies in the region-all autocracies.

The idea that circles could be squared by having undemocratic Sunni Arab states back democracy in other lands, against secular dictators that once had aligned with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, shows the utter lack of ethical realism on behalf of Britain's discredited political class.

Neither Russia nor Iran were going to sit back and watch Assad simply knocked out. Nor were Qatar and Saudi Arabia going to be effective sponsors of democracy in Syria where their geopolitical interests were paramount in what was clearly a proxy war even as early as 2012.


Monday, 28 November 2016

Post-Fidel Cuba: Oily Tributes and Resource Struggles


Trudeau sparked fury and online mockery after he referred to Castro as a “remarkable leader” and expressed his sorrow at the death of “Cuba’s longest-serving president....On Sunday, Trudeau said his statement was simply meant “to recognize the passing of a former head of state” of a country that Canada had longstanding ties with, and not to gloss over unflattering history.
On the death of Fidel Castro, Trudeau was certainly quick to chip in with the creeping eulogies and airbrush out the human rights record. The oleaginous tributes had less to do with his being a liberal-left apologist for dictatorship in any ideological sense. It had more to do with certain large unmentionable economic interests.
As usual pseudo-political debates have opened up because of the phoney outrage of US Republican politicians who are playing to the gallery of the Miami exiles from Cuba who celebrated the death of what Trump called a brutal tyrant. While accurate enough, Cruz hallucinated that Obama had "celebrated" Castro.
In actual fact, Obama had done no such thing. Obama actually said history would “record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,” that there were “countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.” 
There was nothing in Obama's comments that could be construed as "celebrating" Castro's legacy in the way the craven Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Britain did, rationalising the dictatorship as a 'systemic alternative'-to use the sinister Seumas Milne's phrase-which opposed US power and so advanced "international solidarity".
Corbyn was, of course, prepared to mention the appalling human rights record and repression but to euphemise them in an Orwellian manner as "flaws" and "excesses" and called on his believers and doubters to look, appropriately enough at the totality of Castro's achievements beyond the health care and literacy.
Trudeau mentioned the health care and education too but only to position himself as 'progressive' and standing in continuity with his father from the optimistic liberal 1960s when 'another world looked possible'. As usual, it's political choreography designed to conceal the usual grubbier material interests.
Trudeau has been as keen as hopey-changey Obama in courting Raul Castro's Cuba in order to advance Canada's corporations such as Sherritt International, Cuba's largest foreign investor with extensive mining interests and deeply involved in tapping Cuba's copious and recently discovered Caribbean oil reserves.
Trudeau was heavily criticised by domestic opponents for not doing enough to cheerlead for Canada's oil and gas industry while still wanting to appear 'progressive'. Cuba, then, offers an ideal way forward. Engaging with Cuba is believed on way to help it finally come out from the Cold War while advancing corporate interests.
Naturally, very little mention is ever made in the Western media about taboo oil and gas interests. It's considered bad form to let the public know how the world actually works. Cult followers of Corbyn need to believe Cuba is still a bastion of anti-imperialist resistance when the reality is that its aligning more with the US away from Venezuela.
The reason is that the Chavista experiment is collapsing into economic chaos, sharpened political conflict and potential civil war. Corbyn has conveniently airbrushed this out from political consciousness since becoming Labour leader. It't energy lifeline has gone down. Venezuelan oil shipments to the island have declined by 19.5 percent in 2016.
The embargo is already effectively redundant in blocking access to tapping Cuba's oil. In October 2015 when 120 business leaders flocked to the country to discuss offshore oil development. Trump is unlikely, for all his rhetoric, to stand in the way of this deal cutting but he's just as unlikely to bother with promoting human rights either.
In fact, a sleazy military junta and crony capitalist Havana would make Cuba a perfect outpost for investments in the sort of casino and tourist economy controlled by a shady mafioso elite that Trump would find congenial. The demise of Fidel Castro removes the stigma of 'communism' and herald the return to Cuba as before the 1959 Revolution.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

The Death of Fidel Castro and the Future Fate of Cuba

'The thaw in relations was crowned when Obama visted the island earlier this year. Castro did not meet Obama and days later wrote a scathing column condemning the US president’s “honey-coated” words and reminding Cubans of the many American efforts to overthrow and weaken the Communist government'. -Rory Caroll, The Guardian November 26 2016
The death of Fidel Castro has only removed from Cuba and the World a recognisable figurehead who had long been reduced to making rambling speeches or else, as when Obama visited in early 2016, to maintaining this position as Revolutionary Icon and so balancing Raul's embrace of the US with the regime's legitimation myth.

Raul's Cuban regime is more openly just a repressive military junta running the show and Obama's decision to bring the embargo to an end represents a more realistic strategy of engagement.The embargo was,after all,used to justify the political repression because the US Imperialist was intent on throttling the Revolution.

The reality is that ever since Fidel Castro gravitated towards the Soviet Union in the early 1960s after seizing power and needing an ally; Cuba was a theatre for posturing and propaganda struggles during the Cold War and one that has long outlived any purpose it might once have served both for the US and for Cuba.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 pulled the plug on the economic trade and aid lifeline that had kept Cuba afloat in the Caribbean and it only just about managed to survive the economic collapse of the 1990s by reinventing itself as an ally of a new wave of leftist-populist nationalism in the 2000s.

George W Bush's crude attempts to reassert US power in Venezuela through backing opposition candidates and a coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002 gave a new lease of life to 'anti-imperialist' resistance based on cheap oil, the resource Washington wanted control over in the era before domestic shale oil exploitation.

Cuba was buoyed by huge oil subsidies and handouts from Venezuela but the death of Chavez, the collapse of global oil prices caused by a US-Saudi determination to drive down prices and the disintegration of  '21st Century Socialism' in its protector led Raul to move towards the US in order to ensure its survival.

After all, Obama was not only interested in exploiting the historic opportunity to detach Cuba from Venezuela: Cuba itself had made recent discoveries in 2008 of huge oil reserves off the Caribbean coast. As foreign firms muscled in, the US would neither want to miss out on these opportunities or the chance to detach Havana from Caracas.

As the social experiment in Venezuela collapses, Raul would want to gain foreign investment in Cuban oil, though the current glut of global oil and low prices make tapping it unattractive for corporations at present. Even so, profits, control over oil supplies and uncertainty in the Middle East make it attractive still.

The problem for Cuba is whether Trump in the White House is going to ignore any attempts to link further trade ties and future oil infrastructure development to opening not just the economy but also the political system towards democracy and away from dictatorship. Trump made it clear striking deals with regimes is his business.

After all, even under Obama there was not that much interest in the mysterious death of genuine and principled dissidents such as Oscar Paya; he opposed both Raul's regime and the prospect of renewed US dominance over Cuba's economy and increased poverty through the sort of neoliberal shock therapy that follows 'democracy promotion'.

On the contrary, Washington was more favourable to the usual designer dissidents such as Yoani Sánchez who were more useful in playing a role in advancing US interests because blogging and use of the internet. It is unclear as to whether many are indeed funded by Washington ( as Havana suggests ) or genuinely independent.

Either way, with Trump as President, ironically it could well be that 'democracy promotion' is simply not regarded as important any longer. The Castro regime may have a renewed lease of life, not least when neoliberal free market capitalism has created so many dysfunctional political and economic consequences in the Free World.

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Fate of East Aleppo and Failed American Intervention

If insanity is repeating the same failed actions again and again while always expecting a different result, the root of this disorder could partly be said to lie within the deranged thought-patterns spawned by fervent wish-thinking and the inability to accept that certain situations are beyond the control of citizens in the West.

In the face of a 24/7 media culture, instant relaying of images from conflict zones  full of civilian casualties and carnage unleashed by deadly air strikes, the immediate impulse from 'liberal interventionists' is that 'something must be done' and that the world's last superpower-the US-is best positioned to 'stop evil'.

East Aleppo has become the new focus of voices demanding action, as though it was as symbolic in the Syrian Civil War as Guernica was in the Spanish Civil War, which started exactly seventy years ago this year, an epochal conflict between heroic doomed rebels fighting against a fascist dictator who had access to superior weapons and air power.

The fact Western liberal democracies-the US, France and Britain-did very little at the time between 1936 and 1939 to prevent Franco's massacres for geopolitical reasons and because of 'appeasement' has been transferred onto the approach between 2011 and 2016 to the Syrian Conflict. It is, however, a bogus historical analogy.

Scott Lucas, a Professor of International Relations and American Studies at Birmingham University has claimed that President Obama's failure to 'act' in Syria would 'tarnish his legacy' when compared tohis constructive approach to China and Latin America ( the rapprochement with Cuba is singled out for praise in particular ).

Lucas claims there was a failure to do anything when Assad's regime reacted with warplanes from the outset when destroying the insurgency in Homs in early 2012. As he puts it, 'the tenor of this scorched earth policy had been set' while Obama dithered with mere economic sanctions. Of course, in 2011 he was dealing with the Libyan crisis too

What Lucas fails to outline in his condemnation of President Obama's 'inaction' is that key US allies in the Middle East were very far from being 'inactive'. This presupposes a simplistic-and somewhat ignorant-perspective as regards the actual facts and the realities behind brutal conflict, one in which the US has not been 'inactive'

By early 2012, even before Iran and its Shia ally Hezbollah got involved, the Gulf States and Turkey, supported by France ,Britain and the US as 'Friends of Syria', were pledged to co-opting the uprising against Assad that had started in 2011 into a geopolitical struggle to overthrow the Syrian leader-'Assad Must Go'

This was made plain in Clinton and Hague's repetitive soundbite ' Assad Must Go'. As usual, stern and sententious liberal internationalist moralism prevailed and was contradicted by the obvious fact that their allies in the struggle were autocracies such as Saudi Arabia which crushed the movement towards democracy in Bahrain in 2012.

The reason the US and Britain tacitly accepted these brutal actions in Bahrain was to uphold the geopolitical order and maintain energy security and the integrity of the oil rich kingdom against the destabilising effects of a Shia uprising from spreading across the border into Shia areas of Saudi Arabia itself

Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, especially Qatar, pumped finance into the coffers of militant Sunni jihadists who had no intention of creating the sort of benign secular democracy Lucas and other liberal interventionists hallucinate would have come out of this civil war if only the US would have used military power to take out Assad's regime.

If the US had done so in 2013, the anarchy would have led to ISIS having a much greater grip over Syria. By then, the Free Syria Army had fragmented into a myriad of competing jihadist militias with fanatical Wahhabi-Salafist ideas. A breakaway faction formed into ISIS in the course of that year and then stormed into Iraq in 2014

Yet the Sunni militias were also fighting the Kurds in 2013 as well as Assad. This is one reason why President Erdogan of Turkey turned a blind eye towards the increasing fanaticism of the Sunni jihadists Lucas regards blandly as all just 'rebels'. If military intervention to remove Assad was justified, then it would also to protect the Kurds.

After all, had Assad been removed in 2013, it is quite likely that sectarian and ethnic cleansing would have increased. Without full scale Western military intervention and troops to occupy Syria, there would likely have been even worse chaos and bloodshed than Libya, another country where 'action' created a worse situation than 'inaction'.

It was only the diversion of the Sunni militias south towards the struggle with Assad in Damascus that gave enough opportunity for the Kurdish YPG militias to withstand the jihadists and also ISIS. In fact, Erdogan claimed back then that Assad and the YPG were aligned against his strategy for promoting democracy in Syria.

Lucas does not even outline what 'doing something' or abandoning 'inaction' would have meant in practice. Syria was not the USA's problem alone to 'solve' by the question of to intervene or not to intervene. It was clear back in 2013 and ever since that only regional and global diplomacy to end a proxy war could hope to end the war.

The age of unilateral interventionism by 'the West' was already over by 2013. There would have been no way either Iran or Russia would have simply allowed the Gulf States to install a Sunni dominated regime that would have conceded a geostrategically vital land to regional rivals with plans also to pump Gulf gas via Turkey towards the EU.

Nor would Qatar have necessarily wanted a democracy, though it claimed it did in Egypt and Libya too, and certainly a despotic Saudi Arabia would have feared that as a 'bad example'. The Syrian conflict was never simply the sort of one that 'decisive intervention' by the US would have been able to end.

On the contrary, a US military intervention could have triggered a greater regional and even global conflagration. Hizbollah was already in Syria. The nuclear deal with Iran had not been struck nor had Iran been drawn back into the fold of diplomacy with the US as regards the fate of the region. Russia had a major naval base at Tarsous.

So the World War Three scenario used by Trump to discredit Hillary Clinton is not the less inaccurate just because Trump is the one saying it. Historians and journalists far more knowledgeable about the Syria conflict than Lucas such as Michael Burleigh, Anatol Lieven and Patrick Cockburn also warned about the dangers.

East Aleppo and Sanaa

During the Presidential election of 2016, Clinton's reckless statement about the need for a 'No-Fly Zone' over Syria ignored the reality that Russia had already since the middle of 2016 implemented one over parts of Syria,most obviously East Aleppo which continues to be bombarded by Russian and Syrian jets.

Apart from the prospect of direct confrontation between Russia and the USA this could well have caused-if she really meant it-, Clinton's foreign policy depended still on the myth,one propagated by Lucas, that there is some predominant 'moderate rebel' force ready to assume power, what he glibly calls 'the opposition',

There is simply no evidence of any such Third Force between Assad and ISIS that could be backed in order to bring a non-sectarian democracy to Syria. In East Aleppo, the Salafi-Jihadists prevail, though this does not justify the crude and indiscriminate ferocity of the air attacks which have led to high levels of civilian casualties.

Despite that, it is hard to see how politicians in the US or 'the West' has much of a moral high ground or any coherent position towards the Middle East. While East Aleppo is focused on, the Saudi bombardment of Sanaa and Houthi areas of Yemen by Saudi aircraft and with Western assistance shows how civilians are sacrificed to geopolitics.

In fact, tacit support of the Gulf State bombings in Yemen is apiece with Syria. Whereas Obama has engaged with Iran to draw it in to a regional diplomacy that aims at diminishing the proxy war in Syria and expressing disapproval of Saudi Arabian policy, it needs to sacrifice Sanaa in order to keep Riyadh onside and secure its interests.

These interests, of course, are not just continued regional hegemony against the rival encroachments of Russia and even China but also control over global energy flows and the multi-billion dollar arms deals that help boost US arms manufacturer's profits and so fund further research and development and maintain its cutting edge position globally.

Yemen in truth is another theatre in a regional proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, just as it is in Syria. But the fate of Sanaa and of Yemen has not received as much attention as East Aleppo because it is not politically convenient to draw parallels and because Russia and Iran are thwarting Western geopolitical ambitions in Syria.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Trump's Victory and the Failure of the Neoliberal Global Order

If we accept the annexation of Crimea we will have given up on the rule-based order and it would have consequences elsewhere in the world”-Ex-NATO leaders Rasmussen and Scheffer
Superpower relations were seldom based on a 'rule-based order' during the Cold War and,in practice, it became increasingly apparent this applied in the post 9/11 2001 approach to global power politics pursued by Bush and Blair-'the rules of the game have changed' That led to the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq in 2003.
Putin's annexation of the Crimea in 2014 was an over-exaggerated and illegal response to the reality that Western-led global institutions from the EU and NATO converged, partly through the actions of aggressive neoconservative diplomats, to ratchet up tensions and fears within Russia about NATO expansionism.
Anatol Lieven made the point well , when he argued that US media and leaders and opinion formers have all focused obsessively on Putin as some sort of 'neo-Soviet' threat, a 'brutal dictator' who is actually an authoritarian nationalist whose foreign policy represent large sections of Russian policy elites and society.
The fact is that a great many American do not realistically think Putin is a threat to them when compared with ISIS and Islamist jihadi warriors and their potential supporters in the West. National security elites in the US and in Europe have built up a rather paranoid 'neo-Cold War' approach to Russia that is unnecessary.
However, the failure of post-Cold War elites in the US to build or work for an enduring security architecture within which Russia could be welcomed and respected instead of treated as a vanquished foe, apart from the disastrous impact of Western imposed IMF shock therapy, led Russia to take a more combative stance.
The Iraq War detonated a geopolitical earthquake within the Middle East and destabilised Syria. Time and time again, Western elites have shown utter arrogance in believing force could be used to reshape the world and impose 'values' through knocking out dictators. 
The NATO spearheaded military intervention in Libya was a further catastrophe, as was policy in Syria after 2011. As John Gray accurately puts it with regards to the serial incompetence of liberal elites in foreign policy in the Near East,
'The move to rights-based liberalism has had damaging effects in many areas of policy. A militant ideology of human rights played a part in some of the worst foreign policy disasters of recent times. The ruinous military adventures of the Blair-Cameron era did not fail because there was not enough post-invasion planning. They failed, first, because in overthrowing the despotisms of Saddam Hussein and Muammar al-Gaddafi they destroyed the state in both Iraq and Libya, leaving zones of anarchy in which jihadist forces could operate freely. More fundamentally, they failed because human rights cannot be imposed on societies that have never known them and where most people may not want them.'
Despite three disasters, two of which were directly connected to Hillary Clinton, she learned nothing and maintained, in foreign policy, the basic premises of the neoconservative vision asset out by ideologues such as Wolfowitz both as Secretary of State and in her equally disastrous Presidential election campaign.
While NATO is not involved in Syria, both Ukraine and Syria are interconnected on the global chessboard. Crimea was strategically important to the Russian fleet as is the port at Tarsous in Syria for Russia to play a role in regional geopolitics and control over the flow of oil and gas resources. The US plays the same Great Game.
NATO was originally conceived as a defensive alliance in the Cold War. Steadily in the course of the early 21st century it became more concerned with expansionism towards what Halford MacKinder called 'the Eurasian Heartland' ,the better to ensure Western global hegemony and control over oil and gas flows.
Despite crude propaganda of the sort pumped out by Edward Lucas, Putin did not initiate a 'New Cold War' through using oil and gas as a geopolitical tool. It was implicit even before Putin came to power in the strategies of Bill Clinton's administration and through the influence of geostrategists such as Brzezinski in his The Grand Chessboard ( 1997 ).
The attempt to expand NATO into the post-Soviet sphere was bound to be interpreted as an attempt to encroach into its sphere of influence and to encircle Russia by turning regional elites against it in ways that took no cognisance of Russian interests. Western triumphalism was in the air and 'the End of History'
The counter-response was to to propagate 'an image of Russian expansionism and revisionism' when Putin started to reassert Russian power and react to the aggression of the governments of smaller states such as Saakashvili's Georgia when, emboldened by the idea of NATO protection, he attacked Russia.
For all the rhetoric about 'democracy promotion', the US and NATO elites were prepared to turn a blind eye to illiberal,incompetent, corrupt and authoritarian governments in post-Soviet nations-e.g Ukraine and Georgia-so long as they were pro-NATO enlargement. Double standards did not go unnoticed.
The world is no longer where it was in the 1990s. The US and NATO leaders need to become more realist,seek to avoid trying to propagate 'our values' through force and proselytization in order to avert the real prospect of conflict either with Russia or with China. 
In this sense alone, Trump could well be better than Clinton as President. Clinton was prepared to enforce a 'no-fly zone' over Syria in response to the Russian bombardment of East Aleppo. Yet Russia had already muscled in to the conflict in order to assert its own,meaning the prospect of war with Russia was possible.
Dealing with Russia on a more realist footing would be far better than the pretense that the sphere of Western liberal democratic influence is inexorably expanding the world over and that the global political environment is there for the US-and Britain,France and the EU-to determine. 

Notes on Donald Trump from 2015 and How He Rose to the Top

Some observations on Donald Trump made back in 2015 that seem quite accurate now he is President Elect 

Having stoked up the threat and fear level after 9/11, so as to help advance the national security state and wars from Afghanistan to Iraq and Libya and Syria, politicians such as Hillary Clinton now see what happens when a figure like Trump exploits it for his own agenda by taking the fear to extreme conclusions
Unlike others, Trump did not apparently support the Iraq War which has, in turn, had a major role in destabilising the ME and causing blowback. He seems less keen on military intervention that other Republicans who speak of the need for more war and more aggression in Muslim majority lands. So does 'Hawk Hillary'.
That foreign policy is far more responsible in having created IS and the threat of global jihadism that Trump's more parochial minded demagogy about security measures to be aimed at Muslims. As bad as Trump appears, the others are far more subtly fanatical and as dangerous to world order and security.
........................

In preempting the outrage and 'hurt' that would greet Trump's call for closing borders to Muslims, so as to get to know who is coming in, he claimed 'I. Don't. Care'. The reason is that he appeals to those tired with the excesses of 'political correctness' in Western life and who have no reason to care whether they are liked or not.
After all, a section of progressive left ideologues have since the 1960s labelled those who disagree with them 'bigots', so there is no reason to feel that word means much anymore. Maybe 'bigots' have the right to self identify as a victim group also, unjustly maligned not for what they have done but for who they are.
What Trump has stolen from the radical left is the tactic of of trying to goad the 'system' into a disproportional backlash so as to provoke the unbalanced reaction against them is evidence of the proof that they are right. Given the chorus of kneejerk media reaction to his comments on Muslims, he is succeeding.
The Pentagon has now called Trump a 'threat' to US security and he's been accused of 'playing into the hands of ISIS'. This demagogue is met with a chorus of dimwit politicians who, in turn, play into his hands and those of his fan base who see conspiracies to remove him because he is a threat to a system that threatens them.
When institutions and politicians of 'the establishment' start calling him a 'threat', they make Trump more credible as a 'real alternative', the man who 'speaks his mind' and is persecuted by those who can't stand truth. Their outrage is proof of this as otherwise they would not be so upset.
Trump is clever and knows that the more reaction he provokes then the more he and his growing band of followers can feel they are all martyrs in the struggle against oppressive political correctness. The best strategy would be to ignore him or just point out flatly why he is factually wrong.
Saying he is 'playing into the hands of ISIS' he is just as much a 'real threat' as ISIS,  something that will sound ludicrous given the fear level in the US that successive governments have stoked up and manipulated ever since 9/11, including using the San Bernardino shootings as a 'terrorist' incident.
If the bombings of IS in Syria and Iraq have failed to stop Islamist plotting to murder Americans, then either it is not working, because too restrained, or else these attacks in the US by supposed IS operatives are because 'radical Islam' is a real threat apart from US foreign policy ( in which case migration is a problem ).
If 'radical Islam' is a threat apart from Western foreign policy, then it stands to reason that Trump's attacks on the lack of secure borders would appear to have more logic and no amount of rhetoric from him could make the threat worse ( since 'they' hate us for 'what we are', not 'what we do' in any case, sothe argument runs).
Consequently, when politicians from Hillary Clinton to Obama blame Trump for 'playing into the hands of ISIS' and being divisive, Trump could argue that if some 'Muslims' were not so full of hate anyway, they would hardly be convinced to bomb America just because of his position which calls for secure borders and no more migration.

Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Oil.

“I’ve predicted a lot of things, you have to say, including, ‘Get the oil, take the oil, keep the oil.’ Right? I’ve been saying that for three years, and everybody said, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. I mean, this is a sovereign country. There is no country! They’ve created Isis. Hillary Clinton created Isis with Obama".
As with anything Trump utters, the meaning within the ostensible truths, wrapped up within layers of untruth, require understanding. Trump means that if the US is going to militarily intervene in the Middle East, it should do so purely in order to get the oil because that is what US foreign policy is really about anyhow.
At one level, Trump is indicating that grabbing the oil that ISIS holds is worth 'bombing them to shit' as well as to secure US energy interests. However, Trump does so while hinting at the idea Hilary Clinton and Obama created ISIS, a line that appeals to those who believe in conspiracy theories about the US creating ISIS.
The obvious fact is that it was George Bush's government in 2003 that created the failed and fractured state of Iraq that then created a Shi'ite ascendency and the driving out of Sunnis from positions of power and influence. The oil wealth of Iraq has primarily fallen into the hands of the Shi'ites and Kurds where most of the oil lies.
But what Trump has long indicated is that the oil basis for US foreign policy is purely about 'what we get from it' and not pointless designs to bring civilisation or democracy to people who are either not capable of it or do not respect it. Any war for oil, and Iraq was clearly one, should only be fought if control of the oil is secured.
This is part of Trump's 'no bullshit' stance. If 'the left' or critics of the Iraq War and US presence in the Middle East are going to criticise the US for basing its foreign policy on energy security and control over global oil reserves, then it makes no sense not to be candid about it and get the best deal for the US.
On Libya, Trump made plain,
'Qadaffi is dead and gone. So what? We have spent more than $1 billion on the Libya operation. And what are we getting in return? A huge bill, that's what. It's incredible how foolish the Obama administration is. Libya has enormous oil reserves. When the so-called "rebels" came to NATO (which is really the U.S.) and asked for help to defeat Qadaffi, we should have said, "Sure, we don't like the guy either. We will help you take out Qadaffi. But in exchange, you give us 50 percent of your oil for the next twenty-five years to pay for our military support and to say thank you for the United States doing what you could never have done on your own." The "rebels" would have jumped at the offer and said yes. 
 Imagine the amount of oil we could have secured for America. Our policy should be: no oil, no military support.'
The open ruthlessness of Trump's foreign policy would appear to tap into the feeling among US taxpayers that they deserve real returns on their dollars. It also dovetails with the idea that it is pointless to avoid a more aggressive pursuit of US oil interests because Muslims are not going to like the US whatever it does.
Trump clearly has his potential uses to the US oil lobby and advocates unfettered drilling no matter where. With shale oil onstream, Trump's logic is that OPEC's power should be broken and the US should get more going in order to be able to dictate the oil price. Iran, as a potential oil competitor not under US control, is the main threat.
Despite what is said, Trump is within the same tradition of pyschopathological US nationalism as George Bush but without the 'bullshit' about democracy and human rights which get in the way. Returning to a more mercenary approach to grabbing resources, backing dictators or waging wars openly for oil is considered better.
It is hard to see how Trump's policy has much diplomatic gravitas to it but, then again, this is a Republican presidential race and he would have time later to alter his stance to be less open about what US foreign policy should be 'really' about. But he is leading the way in showing how being 'candid' about 'our interests' can win support.

Written June 2016

Sunday, 13 November 2016

US Elections 2016 : Donald Trump's Victory

 'I can act differently for different people'.-President Elect Donald Trump.

'He’s a petulant, ignorant child, strangely promoted above the grownups'-Writer Ian McEwan

In November 2016 Donald Trump is President Elect. The fact McEwan do not like him is irrelevant. I don't like him either but he simply isn't stupid as his whole folksy posture is one big act. He never had that accent or used words like 'yuge' or 'bigly' in the past. Not even when he acted the role of ruthless businessman in The Apprentice.

One reason for Trump's victory is that he communicated in very easy conversational and the sort of bar room language that seemed very different from Obama's intelligent and far more thoughtful use of language. Part of that was to show the US had an intelligent leader after George W Bush and his 'catastrophic diplomacy' ( Brzezinski ).

Of course, Trump himself is not 'dumb'. Early interviews going back to the 1980s reveal him as well and softly spoken, using plain language without the raucous New York accent and intonation he adopted when he became a reality TV star or when advertising 'Trump Steaks'. President Trump is a fictional creation made real-by Trump.

In fact, Trump has a sort of cunning and ability to act that shows a sinister clown-like form of intelligence, if not of a higher sort ( certainly nothing in the way of wisdom or moral intelligence ). In truth, he's a pyschopathological type, even though Clinton too was also a liar and a sociopath with mediocre abilities.

But Trump pitched his 'personality' in the market perfectly and knew his audience and shaped himself to represent their unconscious fears,anger and alienation from 'the mainstream'. He was folksy enough to make himself one of the people but appeared clever enough as a businessman to be the 'man to get things done'.

After eight years of Obama and his laboured and pained explanations in foreign policy and seeming failures and humiliations in foreign policy, Trump pitted himself as the 'no bullshit' candidate who was 'telling it like it is' without 'political correctness'. A sharp businessman to get America working again.

As is said in the US 'any solution is better than no solution'. The world in 2016 is incredibly complex, but many electors would seem to have had enough of leaders like Obama over-complicating things in lawyer style speeches or else by calling Islamic State supposedly 'politically correct' names like Daesh instead of 'Radical Islamic Terrorism'

Trump has built on the culture of fear that has grown up in the US since 9/11 in this regard. Both Al Qaida and ISIS have been bigged up as 'civilisational struggles' and 'existential conflicts' by politicians such as Bush, Cheney and Clinton-who also supported the torture of 'terrorist suspects'. McEwan has put this context down the memory hole.

Trump's position is that this is all true but that previous administrations and politicians have simply been too cowardly and weak- or else greedy and self-interested- to put American's interests first. They cause havoc in the Middle East, then they let just anybody in from that region, endangering Americans.

One interesting thing about Trump is that he was prepared to break the oil taboo and state that he only cared about 'grabbing the oil' through striking deals or, if necessary, wars which dispensed with pointless and futile efforts to install democracies or promote human rights in lands where there is no history of them.

In practice, this means, as the future looks certain to be one of pyschopathological wars to take resources, that Trump is looking forward to a more 'realist' and brutal policy in which half-measures are hypocritical and only the use of total force when and where necessary would be both successful and win over 'the people'.

In that sense, Trump is a crude devotee of Machiavelli. His admiration for Putin lies not in wanting somehow to collude with the Russians, as Clinton insinuated, as though a 'traitor' but in standing firm for US interests alone and not for more destructive and self-defeating attempts to 'change the world' for its own good.

This 'no-nonsense' approach was part of his appeal. It is not that his fan base and other electors have foreign policy at the forefront of their minds but that the obsession with meddling, hectoring and lecturing everybody both at home and abroad with human rights nostrums became tiresome and abroad led to pointless conflicts.

Against Hillary Clinton, Trump was effective in exploiting the revulsion a great number of Americans had against the Hypocrite, the one who prates about human rights, the 'need to intervene' against Assad while having 'created' ISIS, the one who advocates 'Love trumps Hate' while being fond of war.

The old tricks of triangulation pursued by Clinton, posing as the US nationalist while advocating US led globalisation for all, advocating tolerance and 'diversity', while being prepared to use force to impose US and so global 'values' failed, as Trump was astute enough to 'cut through the crap' and put America first.

Overall, there are many reasons why Trump has become President. Certainly fielding Hillary Clinton as his rival was the biggest mistake, as was the desire to laugh at him as a buffoon, something which Trump may well have encouraged so as to consolidate his outsider status and one of the real people made good and so sneered at.

US Election 2016 : Slavoj Zizek and Trump as a Force for Change.

Trump's election as next President for 2017 does not mean that progress is history but is part of the cunning of History in it is necessary to destroy the destroyers such as Clinton and the establishment Democrats , the better to blow apart the integument of the existing two party Republican and Democratic system.

Globally famous thinker and left-wing guru, Slavoj Zizek believed in a Trump victory which would force the two existing parties to change and that this would be better than the fake progressive Clinton. She only represents 'inertia'. He seems to think a Trump victory would throw a spanner in the works an create new political realities.

Zizek appears to think it will intensify the contradictions within capitalism and bring about a truly confrontational scenario both with the US and abroad and so new authentic revolutionary possibilities. Out of the wreckage of the old systems will come something new and more vital instead of the continuation of the old moribund system.

On the other hand, maybe Zizek is just a rasping lunatic who keeps rubbing his nose and has been snorting something. After all, out of the wreckage of the old system can come just more wreckage. But that would return history to a base point from which there could only be progress again and where people would be less bored.

US Election 2016 Trump and Farage Do Doublethink

'It’s hard to find much humour, either, in the picture of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage grinning as they meet at Trump Tower, the interim Ukip leader having secured a meeting with the president-elect ahead of any British politician. ( Guardian UK )
George Orwell laughed at the absurdity and aggressive stupidity of totalitarianism during its darkest epoch in the 1940s. That was in the shadow of World War Two which had just killed millions of European and with another world war seeming imminent. Even so, 1984 is a satire that is very funny in places, though it's gallows humour.

The picture of Farage and Trump in a gold lift in New York is still grimly amusing when it's understood that Farage flew to New York after the man who rejected the EU gave a speech on TalkRadio from Spain. There he claimed he was 'the catalyst' for the downfall of the existing order, part of the wider global nationalist revolution he has spearheaded.

Farage modestly claims credit for helping Trump win the 2016 US Election and so ensuring his role in toppling,
“the Blairites, the Clintonites, the Bushites and all these dreadful people who work hand in glove with Goldman Sachs and everybody else, have made themselves rich and ruined our countries”.
That's a curious position to take while grinning in a photo shoot with a billionaire property mogul and tax evader whose transition team for the 2017 Presidency contains three Trump family members and five millionaires including Steven Mnuchin, a Trump fundraiser who worked on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs and left with over $40 million.

Orwell satirised such politics as doublethink, 'the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.' Farage and Trump are both of the elites against the elites they are against and chose to be in the name of 'the people' who are to be mobilised as part of this oligarchical power game.

True, the global consequences of a Trump Presidency could be terrifying if he is not contained. Those thinking he might be less aggressive than Clinton, just because he hinted he was against the Iraq War, fail to see that Trump is obsessed-reality TV star that he is-with doing anything to retain popularity and his ratings.

In foreign policy, Trump's administration could mean carpet bombing swathes of Iraq to destroy ISIS. It looked likely to mean torpedoing the nuclear agreement with Iran, so creating greater tensions between it and Saudi Arabia and consequently escalating the potential for all out proxy conflict across the Middle East.

Trump is criticism of previous US governments was not that they were too aggressive but that they were 'losers' and lacked the ruthlessness to be effective, either by supporting dictators who could be useful or by simply going in and 'grabbing the oil' rather than promoting such niceties as democracy to savages..

Trump also has to have an aggressive posture against China as it is blamed for eclipsing the US as a Global Power, for its trade prowess and products for decimating the US industrial base. His slogan is 'Make America Great Again' means he has to deliver that by whatever means possible if he wants to get re-elected.

And he has shown he will do or say anything to get power. The question remains whether he is really just the ultimate flip-flopping populist who will not want to really disturb the status quo that much or whether he really he is a total sociopath who is prepared to do anything to advance the profit and prestige of his cronies.

The US could well become a a toxic 'managed democracy', authoritarian and populist, with power concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The ultimate irony would be if the US was less interested in a post-Brexit Britain or indeed the EU as it fragments further and Farage is considered expendable. Of what use would he then be to Trump ?