ANZACS- for King and Country

Every  year in this fair little country of New Zealand, we “celebrate” Anzac Day on 25th  April. We remember our “glorious dead” who  fought in  all  those wars for king and country;  beginning way  back  then  with  the  Second Boer War of 1899 in South Africa, supporting our British  countrymen  in  the British  Empire’s  fight against  the “evil” Boers, to  ensure  South  Africa could become a safe place for English  speaking white men to  colonise and rule over the black man.

Since then we have had the First  World War where 100, 000 New Zealand  men  (and some women) were shipped overseas, out of a total  population of just over 1 million people. 18,500 New Zealanders  were killed in  that  ‘war to  end all  wars’ and  more than 40,000 wounded. Anzac Day  “celebrates” the day  New Zealand and Australian  troops along with  troops from other parts of the Empire,  India, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland,  India, and Newfoundland  as well  as French  forces invaded Turkey   (a German ally) at Gallipoli. IfYeBreakFaith_VictorybondsposterThe “Great War”, as it was once known, was initially at  least, a European  war  to divide up  the spoils of empire, with  each  countries’  soldiers  the cannon fodder for money  and power.

‘Only’ 2799  New Zealand soldiers died at  Gallipoli attempting to  break  the Turkish  defences in  the harsh  hills above the beaches, where 87,000  Turks died defending their homeland. Nothing in comparison to the many thousands killed and wounded  in  the trenches  in Flanders and other parts of France;  machine gunned, shelled and gassed by  the “Hun” -the Germans.

Yet  New Zealand collectively now  glorifies  Gallipoli;  it was apparently (according to later  New Zealand historians who  should know)  our “nation-buildng”  exercise.  Yet after that  first  world war to end all  wars,  every  cenotaph

The Unknown Soldier
The Unknown Soldier

in  every  little town  and city across New Zealand which  named their dead, inscribed  the lines “Lest We Forget”.  In my imagination perhaps , it is ‘lest we forget”  those  who  died for nothing,  the horror,  the stupidity , the inhumanity to man of soldiers at  war;  not “lest we forget” our glorious war dead. Let us not forget  also, those brave conscientious objectors who  also chose to  suffer because of their fundamental  objection to  war.  Let us not forget  either, the many thousands of women and children  who  suffered at  the hands of those damaged men returning from the wars;  the family  and community violence caused  by  the trauma of war  and death.

 

            The Send-off: a Poem  by  Wilfred Owen: -English  soldier poet, 1918

And then  we have the “good war”;  the war  against the Nazis and the Japanese between  1939 and 1945,  where 140,000  New Zealand men and women were conscripted to  fight overseas.  Kiwi soldiers, while comparatively  small  in  numbers, played a significant role in  the European war  against  Germany  and later   against  the Japanese in  the Pacific. Could  that war have been  avoided  without appeasement of Nazi  and Japanese supremacism?  There are many  historians who  say , that  had the terms of  the  Versailles Treaty  not been so  punitive against  Germany , German nationalistic fervour would   never have produced  such  a cancer as the national  socialists. Similarly there are those who  argue that  had the Japanese also been able to  obtain  their  Imperial   “place in  the sun” , Pearl Harbour would never have happened.   Hindsight is a wonderful  thing.

New Zealand’s obligations for self-defence against  the Japanese is  inarguable;  The Japanese were planning to invade New Zealand as part of their Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere,  along with Australia.  The evil  of the Nazis  is also  inarguable and the horrors committed by  them; New Zealand soldiers helped to bring  those horrors to an end.  Ultimately 11,900  New Zealand soldiers lost their lives  in the second world war. However New Zealand is implicated  in the war crimes resulting  from  the bombing missions undertaken  by  the Allies against  German dams   and the firebombing of Dresden.  And, we might  ask, why  weren’t we opposing the Japanese in their 1937-1945 horrific  occupation of China prior to  Pearl Harbour in December 1941?

New Zealand’s role in wars since the second world war has (aside from  several  small  UN peace-keeping missions) been less than exemplary.  4,700 New Zealand soldiers fought  in Korea  between 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953, with 49  men  killed in  action. New Zealand  (under U.N. auspices but without Russian attendance at  that  security council  meeting ) was a party to  the genocide committed largely by  the Americans carpet bombing  every North Korean  town and city over that period.

Fighting as part of ANZUS, New Zealand enthusiastically  supported the American  pretext  for invading Vietnam from  1963 to  1975   ( supposedly to halt the insidious spread of Communism  across Asia), while the New Zealand national  government  supported the  bombing by  the U.S. of  cities and towns across Vietnam  Laos and Cambodia, causing more than  a million deaths.  37 New Zealand  soldiers were killed in that  war and many more  afflicted by  the  impacts of “Agent Orange”, the chemical warfare “defoliant” sprayed by   U.S.  planes  over the jungles and hamlets of  South  Vietnam.

Once again  supporting the U.S., New Zealand  inserted a small  number of troops into  southern  Iraq  near Basra during the second Iraq War.  While for most of its service there, NZ troops were confined to base, it is highly likely that  NZ troops were  well aware of  the  wide-spread  torture and murder of Iraqi  civilians in  that  area by  British troops . New Zealand  is,  by  its support of that  war,  also implicated in  the deaths of  the  hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who  died as a result of a war  based on  the pretext of Saddam’s  non-existent  “weapons of mass destruction.”

New Zealand continues its commitment to “freedom  and democracy” by  supporting the Americans in Afghanistan.  Initially promoted to the public as an incursion  to eliminate Al Qaeda as a threat   after the 9/11  bombing of the New York  towers,  the war has dragged on since its inception in  2001 and morphed into  the elimination of the Taleban  (an Afghan  Pashtun  tribal  entity with  previous links to Al Qaeda). New Zealand troops have likely been  involved in capturing Taleban  fighters and sending them  to  the US Bagram air base in Kabul  for torture. A rather dubious analysis suggest that  up  to  20,000  civilian  casualties alone have been  killed in  Afghanistan  since 2001- the mortality  figures for direct  war impacts are likely to be  in  the many many thousands. ( the U.S. doesnt “do  headcounts” anymore.)

New Zealand continues to  be a key  member of the U.S. run  western  intelligence community “Five Eyes”, which   attempts to  maintain the U.S state’s power and control  over most of the world, and while NZ has  publicly been  cast  in  the shadows of ANZUS because of its nuclear-free stance, it in  reality maintains an  extremely  active role.

However , even with  the huge  amount of information provided  by  internet   and phone tapping  provided to  “Five Eyes”  intelligence ‘experts”, it is clear  that  those security operatives have over the years since the second world war, acquired a farcical  level  of incompetence and  lack  of intelligence and judgment. Their wild misinterpretation of other  states’  and non-state entities’ intent and motives has resulted in  massive  suffering to  millions of  human beings. It is highly likely that  incompetence is not going to be changing any time soon.

In summary,  ANZAC Day;  that  tribute of poppies and wreaths and guns , celebrates not  our glorious dead, but  the utter farcical  futility of war and the greed of the powerful.

At  the time of writing,  the jingoistic   drumbeats of war  are sounding to  fight once more   the Russian  threat  against  “poor little”  Ukraine.

As the late and great  Pete Seeger sang: When  will  we ever learn?

 

The Whimper…

T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Hollow Men, ends with the following lines…

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

A recent study,  led by   applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and using   new statistical modelling methods, predicts that this  current civilization will likely collapse in  another twenty to  fifty years. The study   draws analogies with past human  civilizations;  the Assyrian, Roman, Mayan, Minoan,  the various  Chinese empires…. We can assume that  like us;  the populations of those civilizations had every reason to believe their civilization was unique and would last  forever. While civilisational  collapse is quite rare, characterised by  entire ways of life, systems of thought, cultural values and worldviews disappearing,  political  collapse occurs frequently ( eg empires and kingdoms disintegrating).  What  appears likely to  happen in our modern context,  given  the confluence of a number of catastrophic events, is civilisational  collapse.

While this particular study  has been  sharply critiqued by  journalists and  scientists  alike for its simplicity and generalisations ; the  broad conclusion that,  as Paul Simon aptly put it ,”everything put together falls apart” , is  a healthy  reminder of human hubris.

The single most important  story   unfolding in  not-so-slow-motion  on this planet  is the  ongoing  destruction of the natural  world  in  the name of “progress”  and “growth” (ie  consuming ever more “stuff”) by  humans;  ,  which  will  in the near  future,  significantly negatively impact  on this species. Despite our insistence to the contrary, humans are entirely reliant on other species for our survival.  It is a  given that is blindly ignored by  politicians, businesspeople and businesses  and all  those with  a current stake in  the way  our “civilization’  currently works ( ie all of us).

As key  resources become more expensive to  extract,  the world economy (which is apparently now the full extent of this ‘civilization’) begins to contract  and distort .  And as the gap  between rich and poor widens,  the “have-nots” increasingly demand in  more and more violent ways,  their right to  a slice of the pie. As the oceans and  atmospheric temperatures rise,  so  do the pressures on  our artificial nation-states. As we progressively and rapidly eliminate species after species to produce more things,  to make “progress”;  our chances of long term survival  as a species are being rapidly reduced.   Our civilization demands that  we assume that  we have an infinite volume  of resources to  consume for  the infinite future in  a closed planetary  system –  a small  contradiction in  terms!   We are indeed heading for the perfect  storm.

Study  after academic  study shows that the more we  gain from  a civilization’s  prosperity,  the more we are blind to its failings and contradictions and its  inevitable fall. This  tunnel vision says , that ‘if I am  doing well out of this catastrophe then it cant be a catastrophe at all!’

Homo  sapiens  pride themselves on their remarkable intelligence; their capacity to manipulate their environment for their own ends. They appear unable to grasp  that  that  self-definition process of  appropriating everything  good, intelligent and wonderful  to  human attributes,  is simply  the result of their blinded vision.  If by  definition, species that manipulate their environment  are determined to be superior to all other species;  then lo-and-behold!- homo sapiens are superior beings! Because homo sapiens are above all other traits,  social  beings,  all of us have an intensely strong need to  “fit in”,  to belong to the group. Agreeing with other people in ‘our’ group’s   thought processes and paradigms is an essential part of this togetherness. However, agreement does not  it make it truth.

Thus, it does not matter that the capacity to manipulate the environment for the benefit of our species and at  the expense of all other species on  this planet might not be quite so an intelligent thing to do, given that  the environmental devastation and species  destruction is largely for homo sapiens’ short term  pleasures, power  and baubles.

Were we to  say  that  a species that can  sustain itself  easily and efficiently without damaging its environment in  the process, were  more ‘worthy’ beings than other species ;  then homo sapiens would not be registering on  the short-list!

Over the millenia, homo sapiens have  been able to convince themselves  that  people of other cultures, or colour,  or background are inferior to one’s own culture because of this self-defining process.  Using the same intellectual process,  the more different another species is from ourselves, the  less worthy , less  intelligent, more expendable and worthy of our  exploitation and destruction that species becomes.   The more differentiated from our species the “other” is,  the easier it is to  dismiss its inherent traits and qualities and its right to life. However on our ever smaller blue planet,  we no  longer have the luxury to differentiate between  “them’  and ‘us”.

How much easier then is it  to dismiss the equality of other species with ourselves when their characteristics, strengths and skills are so different from homo sapiens, and when it  is so  much to our benefit to be able to kill  and exploit other species without moral qualms.

The capacity for self-delusion in our  species is immense. Witness the largely American  driven  anti- climate -change camp. Of course we cannot be  destroying our planet with C02 through  industrialization, because capitalism and owning the means of production   is the reason  for our being!  – after all, aren’t we, the US consumer, the greatest people on  earth because our nation is   the epitome of capitalism?

As another example of  collective self-deception, Seth Klarman, the manager of the $27billion hedge fund, the Baupost Group, recently  remarked on the similarities of the world’s banking system to the ‘Truman Show’, the late nineties Hollywood film, where the lead character  “lives a seemingly charmed world, snuggled comfortably into an American suburbia of white picket fences and crisply cut lawns. But gradually Truman starts to notice something is not quite right. He is actually trapped inside a film set controlled by hidden directors, and discovers to his horror that he is the unknowing star of the world’s most popular reality TV show.”  In one of the more blatant  nuances of reality shifting homo  sapiens have acquiesced to,  our  financial  system  is in  essence simply one of “smoke and mirrors” -the manipulation of facts and figures designed  to  obscure reason and reality;  a fragile house of cards.

The dreaded "black swan"!
                                  The dreaded “black swan”!

One key point of difference with previous human civilizations  around the world  is that  our current  civilization is a global one; each  of the parts are inextricably connected.  Apart from  a few small tribes in   isolated areas, every one of us has bought in to  this unique  method of environmental  destruction. Thus  when this civilization collapses -(and it is a “when” and not an “if” ), that collapse will be both  more  rapid and more global; there will not be another model of homo sapien civilization around for the  survivors to pin their hopes on. The other significant difference with other previous human civilizations is this current one’s geographical  reach.  Vast  areas of the planet have now  been laid waste in  the name of human progress.

So, while the modelling conducted by  Safa Motesharrei  may be flawed, it does provide an opportunity for  serious debate about the direction this global  civilisation of ours is taking us..

 

Links

Did Nasa fund ‘civilisation collapse’ study, or not?

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Plotting the Downfall  of Society-Peter Turchin Book Review

A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation

Crisis of Civilisation 

So, after the IPCC report, which bit of the world are you prepared to lose? | GeorgeMonbiot

svoboda

The Ukrainian Situation-an analysis

The current  unstable and dangerous situation in  the Ukraine where  large elements of the Russian  speaking part of the Ukrainian  population in  in Eastern  and Southern Ukraine are apparently pushing  for  Russian  annexation can  be largely  attributed to Ukraine’s  turbulent and violent history.

Kiev,  the capital  city of Ukraine is considered by  many Russians to be the birthplace of Russia, or “Kievan Rus” in  the thirteenth  century. While no  longer a predominantly Russian  speaking  country, its principal connection has been  with its more powerful  northern neighbour over the last 800 years.

Ukraine ,or “the Ukraine” as it is often known, literally means “borderlands”, an indication of its status as a standalone state entity over the last  1000 years.

After the Partitions of Poland (1772–1795) (around the time of the US War of Independence), Ukraine was divided between Russia and Austria, with the largest part of Ukraine being  integrated into the Russian Empire, and  the rest under Austrian (known as the  Austro-Hungarian Empire  since 1849) control.

Gaining its independence briefly  from the Russian Empire in the chaos following the Russian Bolsehvik  Revolution of 1917 , Ukraine was forcibly incorporated under   Soviet   control in 1921 and remained a semi-autonomous republic of the Soviet  Union until  the collapse of the USSR in 1991, when it  once again  became independent.

During the rule of Stalin in the USSR in the 1930s, agrarian collectivisation policies were brutally enforced across  the  entire Soviet Union, but particularly in  what  has been referred to  as the bread-basket of Russia;  the Ukraine. Known as Holodomor, the communist collectivist   policies resulted in at least 7.5 million deaths with mass starvation occurring amongst  the peasantry  of western Ukraine particularly. Ukraine has defined the process as genocide, and the  brutal  process of starvation and loss of lands was instrumental in  the rise  of right-wing groups in  Western Ukraine, (whose populations   tend to be more Eurocentred than  the South-East),  who  supported the principles of both Mussolini’s  fascist party in   Italy and Nazi policies in Germany. The views were largely centred by  1943 in  the actions of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army led by  Stepan Bandera, in ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews  as well  fighting with the Nazis against  the Russians . Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) was strongly supported by  Western intelligence agencies and particularly the CIA   after the second world  war .

In  addition to  those horrors,  in 1944 approximately 200,000   Crimean Tatars were forcibly  deported to other parts of the USSR because of their presumed alliance with the Nazis, where a large percentage subsequently died of starvation.  Those Tatars who  have since returned   to the Crimea remain  fiercely hostile to  the Russians and some  have been implicated in  anti-Russian warfare in  other countries and also  within Crimea and wider  Ukraine.

 

Jews and Russians were seen to be the cause of the death, destruction and dispossession which occurred in the Holodomor. In retaliation,  Ukrainian fascist and Nazi  groups were formed which both fought alongside the Nazis against  the Russians and also aided in  the Nazi’s Jewish  progroms in Western Ukraine. The Svoboda party and its activist group, the Pravyi Sekor (Right Sector), are the  current manifestations of those nationalist  movements. Members of these two  groups have  also fought alongside Chechnyan  separatists and jihadists  in Russia  in  the past few years. In addition the right -wing Ukrainian  nationalist  private army and political party,  the Ukrainian  National  Assembly – Ukrainian National Self  Defence (UNA-UNSO) ,  a violent and extreme right-wing and anti-Russian organisation, has been  implicated in  the  sniper shootings of both  police and demonstrators in  Maidan Square in Kiev.

In 1954,  Nikita Khrushchev, the  Soviet President of the day,  transferred the Crimea , to the Southeast  of Ukraine and previously part of Russia itself , to the Ukraine republic .

svoboda
The Wolfsangel, Svoboda’s first party logo (1991–2003) and now widely used as a uniform emblem by the Right Sector, is both a truncated swastika and the acronym “HH”- for “Heil Hitler”

The most defining reason  for the recent demonstrations in Maidan Square in Kiev, against the corrupt but democratically elected president Viktor Yanu­kovych, was  Yanu­kovych’s decision to  switch  from  supporting alignment and eventual   Ukrainian integration with the European Union (after IMF “re-alignment” of the economy), to alignment with Russia  and its $15 billion  no-strings loan. It is likely that many of those early demonstrators in Maidan Square  saw their chance to  escape  a Ukraine of poverty, for the wealth  and opportunity of Europe, slipping away. However the muscle on  the ground at Maidan Square and  even since the new government in Kiev was installed, has been  the Svoboda Party  (whose insignia up  until  2003 was the Wolfsangel, both a  symbol for the swastika and  the acronym  for “Heil Hitler”)  and  its hand-maiden, the ‘Right Sector’.

Alexander Muzychko (Sasha Biliy of the “Right Sector” ) “speaking”  to a state prosecutor 27th  Feb

While Svoboda  has  partially dissociated  itself from  its neo-Nazi past; its offspring, the Rights Sector or “Pravyi Sektor” regards “de-Russification” of Ukraine as its core ideology, along with  ensuring the ethnic  purity of the Ukrainian population including the exodus of Jewish populations, and good moral  values.

Global Research notes that ” Canvas, formerly Otpor, received significant money from the US State Department in 2000 to stage the first successful Color Revolution against Slobodan Milosovic in then-Yugoslavia. Since then they have been transformed into a full-time “revolution consultancy” for the US, posing as a Serbian grass-root group backing “democracy.”  While Poland under President Tusk, and Sweden have been pushing for Ukraine’s integration into the EU since the initial  “colour revolution”, with  the strong backing of the US State Department and CIA, they have perhaps inadvertently been also  supporting and subsidizing  the far right Ukrainian agenda, who have no interest in EU integration. Ostensibly EU/US support has been for the “technocrats” (ie those who  support IMF financial “reforms” ) like ex-boxer Klitschko and the newly appointed acting president Oleksander Turchinov. (of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland’s  “fuck EU” fame”)

However one of the first  steps of the new government was to  rescind the previous government’s  recent legislation to legitimize Russian  as an official  language of the Ukraine. It is likely that  that rescindment,  more than any  other factor,  was  the key reason  for  South-Eastern Ukrainians of Russian descent, many of whom  solely speak  Russian, to  fear for their future in  a ‘Ukraine for Ukrainians’.

The other major  factor is undoubtedly the fear  by  Russia that the new Ukrainian government will  also  rescind the  lease recently extended out to  2042 for Russia’s only warm water naval  base. As the US is well  aware, the Sevastopol base allows the Russians to  re-supply  its ally  President Bashad in Syria against  US, Turkish  and Saudi funded extremists in  the Syrian  civil  war. Loss of the warm water naval  base in in the Crimea would have significant negative strategic  impacts for the Russians, as the  British and French  are also  only too  aware of, after their  battles, in alliance with  the Turks to  re-capture the Crimea  and Sevastopol from the Russians in the Crimean War in 1853.

It should be noted also  that  the  industrial base of Ukraine is predominantly in the South-Eastern parts of the country, where there are significant populations of Ukrainian ethnic Russians, and where it’s  heavy  industry  was a key  part of the Soviet economy. As with many ex-Soviet states, the factories are by  Western standards, unproductive and out of date, and hence would require massive injections of IMF capital  and machinery, along with  massive layoffs of superfluous workers;  a prospect for which   Western industrialists have been rubbing their hands in  glee  since the Ukrainian Orange  Revolution in  2004.

The complex interactions of internal  Ukrainian  and international  players, create the opportunity for war. The Russian decision to  send in  more troops into  the Crimea  certainly escalates the situation. Additionally, other South-Eastern Ukrainian  cities with varying proportions  of Russian speaking populations, are now also   rising up  against  the new Kiev anti-Russian government and establishing self-protection militias against the  Right  Sector and other far-right Ukrainian groups. How much  support  those Russophiles   will  get in  the cities of Donetsk, Kharkov, Simferapol, Odessa Lugansk and Kerch, is currently unknown. Russia currently insists that  its forces have not left their Crimean bases (25,000 Russian troops  are permitted in  the Crimea as part of the Ukraine /Russia lease  agreement)  and that  all  pro-Russian forces on  the ground in  Ukraine are pro-Russian Ukrainians – a statement disputed by  the EU and the U.S.

Given the tragic history  outlined above, it would appear the only  rational  solution to  the problems exacerbated by  foreign  state  actors, is negotiation.  In the 1990s the 55-state member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the OSCE) was created  to deal with détente in Europe and emerging post-cold war problems . The OSCE offers a unique and relatively non-partisan   pathway  to  a negotiated settlement of the complex issues facing Ukraine.  The alternative, despite the huff and puff from  NATO and the US,  may  well be  the secession of some part of what  is now Ukraine to form  a Russian  speaking autonomous or semi-autonomous state, unless the  power and hostility of  the far right groups opposed to ethnic Russians in Ukraine can be controlled.

References:

Ukraine after Yanukovych: 50 shades of brown – Autonomous Workers Union

Russia Debates: The Crimea Crisis

Meet the (real) new authorities in the Ukraine, example #1 

Are Ukraine’s Jews Screwed?

Russia, Crimea and the Consequences of  NATO Policy: Ukrainian Hangovers

Trotsky on Ukraine (1939)

Russian Sponsored Territories

Ukraine Through Putin’s Eyes-McClatchy

Between Revolution and Tyranny; a fluid and highly permeable line

 In the cat-bird seat

Propaganda, lies and the New York Times: Everything you really need to know about Ukraine

Revolution, lecturing and life in western Ukraine

Roman Shukhevych: Wikipedia

Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

Ukraine agrees to  50% gas price hike amid IMF Talks

Seven  Decades of Nazi Collaboration- America’s Dirty Little Secret

How Vladimir Putin Became Evil

The New World Order-Richard Falk

Tour of Ukraine -Russia Border Finds No  Sign of a Military Buildup- 31st March 2014

We Cannot Still Ignore the Perils of Intervention-Patrick  Cockburn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living by the Sword….

“Those who  live by  the sword,  die by  the sword”

Through its abrogation of key  elements of the Geneva Convention by  using torture, genocide and illegal  incarceration of people it thinks could  do  things to US interests that  the state might not  like, the US has  progressively negated key  aspects of the constitutional  protections for its own  citizens.  In addition, professional  bodies such  as the American Pyschological  Association and the American Medical  Association, in  tacitly    legitimizing torture and murder ( drones or otherwise)  and  random  indefinite imprisonment of people the state thinks might be a risk  to the US, have  destroyed their legal   and moral authority .

The Orwellian  legal  and  state  double-speak ( what is evil  is good,  what  is war is peace) by  US political  and legal figures,  is now accepted as truth by  the vast  majority of US citizens and many in the Western world. Many US citizens are consequently  no  longer able to differentiate between right and wrong/truth  and lies.

The US has been fighting wars to  protect  its “interests” (read  companies) for most of its existence, beginning with the genocide of the North American  Indians who  populated much of North America at  the time of European settlement and leading to the wars with Spain in  the Carribbean  and the Philippines in  order to  develop  an empire to exploit , as with  other Western powers of the time.

But it is really only in the years after the end of Second World War in 1945, that the power of the corporations in the US has finally overturned all  semblance of  human rights,  decency  and fairness  in the US . These wars, and particularly the  genocides committed  in North KoreaVietnam, Cambodia and Iraq, have  lead to  no  negative national consequences for the US ,   and have thus  resulted in those in power in the US believing  that they are immune to the  impact of the death  and destruction they inflict on others.

Moreover, over those intervening 65 years of constant war, the US has  steadily become a “war machine”- its raison  d’etre being to fight and kill others for what they have. Each marine that returns home brutalised  and scarred by  the reality of war;  each  soldier who  returns to  his home town finally knowing the truth of what  “the greatest nation in  the world ” really stands for, is a time bomb of death  and destruction to  that community. A culture of violence as the solution to  anything  has now  totally permeated every  aspect  of American  society.   To  quote another of those biblical  aphorisms -”what ye sow, so  shall  ye reap”

And with each  war, the targets of American state violence  become ever more  aware of the complete and viciously laughable  hypocrisy of the United States; it’s  Presidents mouthing  ghastly platitudes of the US being the ” shining city on  the hill” , the exemplar to  the world of peace and democracy,  while raining terror and death on the helpless. For the families and communities of the  millions killed by  the US military since the second world war, there remains no  justice – no resting place.

What is now desperately  needed is an international  legal body  that is truly impartial-no longer  controlled by those  rich  and powerful states who commit the the vast majority of the  terror and death  they so  loudly condemn in others.  An international  body  that  seeks justice, not vengeance,  that  ascribes appropriate  compensation to those whom  the powerful have done injustice to.

When every war-mongering state, not just as is currently ,  its head of state,  knows that, regardless of the colour of the skin of those in power, the  warring state will be punished with heavy financial reparations for the evil  it has done- only then  will the incentive for war   rapidly recede and justice prevail.

The American Psychological Association and Torture

The Guardian, in  an  article of 22nd January, notes that  the The American Psychological Association (APA) has declined to  rebuke one of its members,  Dr John Leso for his known  complicity in  the torture of  the US kidnapped suspect  Mohammed al-Qahtani, who  was ” charged” by  the Pentagon  in  2008 for his suspected  involvement in 9/11.
The Guardian notes that  “the APA did not deny Leso took part in the brutal interrogation of the suspected 20th 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed al-Qahtani, whose treatment the Pentagon official overseeing his military commission ultimately called “torture”.
The American Psychological Association describes itself as ” the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA is the world’s largest association of psychologists, with more than 134,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members. Our mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.”

APA’s communications chief, Rhea Farberman has stated that a seven-year ethics investigation could not meet the burden of finding “direct unethical conduct” by Leso, and said it was “utterly unfounded” to fear the organization has condoned professional impunity.

The evidence of John Leso’s complicity in  torture is incontrovertible in creating an  inhumane environment for Mohammed al-Qahtani to  be tortured by  his “interrogators”. Dr John Leso   therefore both  unequivocally  breached the APAs code of conduct  and the universal  medical  ethic of “do no  harm” .

No  labyrinthine legal  argument can  allow the APA to  escape its responsibilities to ensure its members behave in  ethical  and humane ways to their  patients.

The APA has clearly now abrogated that  responsibility and most certainly undermined the rights of human beings to  the right to be treated humanely by  state apparatus, and has consequently eliminated any professional  credibility it may have had in  the eyes of the  global  public  and clinical  professionals around the world.

It would therefore  be  expeditious for the APA to re-consider its astounding   decision to  condone torture by  its members and to immediately and permanently  dis-bar John Leso  from its membership. However,  this is unlikely to happen.

Since the beginning of the “War on Terror” in  the United States,  and the various Western  countries who  have been complicit in  the  fictional  “war on terror”, we have seen  increasing use by  the state of  statements by  their “legal experts” to  justify  war  crimes,  torture and   murder on  an ever-expanding scale.
The APA’s excuse that the evidence about Dr Leso’s complicity in  torture did not meet the burden of finding “direct unethical conduct” is clearly at odds with the facts. It does however reflect  the fear by  a  supposedly ethical  and professional  body,  of the power of the state to inflict  harm on  even such  a prestigious professional  body  as the APA .
 Weasel  words and legal  sleight of hand  must  instead   be used by  the APA’s legal  advisors to  justify  this cowardice. However when such  a  professional body, which  in their words, exists to   “benefit society and improve people’s lives”, abrogates it’s right to instill  justice, ethics and fair play out of fear of state retribution , there  appears little hope for the foreseeable future of  a fair and just   society in the United States.

 

A Letter to the Editor-Palestine

On November 26 2013, the UN General  Assembly   voted to proclaim 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was requested to organize relevant activities in cooperation with governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, and significantly, civil society.  The seven countries who  opposed the proclamation were Israel,  United States, Canada, Australia,Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. The vote was 110-7, with 56 abstentions.

I would ask  that  readers take some time to read the accounts of what has happened to Palestine and the Palestinian people since “ The Catastrophe”,  the” Nakba, when in 1948 Israeli  troops and gangs  brutally forced out hundreds of thousands of Palestinians  from the lands and houses they  had lived  in  for centuries, killing many in  the process .

This dispossession,  65 years later,  is ongoing;  each  day  more Palestinians are  uprooted from their homes, their houses and   orchards bulldozed and new “settlements  for Israeli Jews only built over the rubble. The brutality, intensity and magnitude of the occupation is for some reason, a matter for silence by Western governments. Perhaps sharing in the guilt of the Nazis in the Jewish genocide in  Europe, they turn  a blind eye to  the ghettoization of the Palestinian people.  The victim of violence has indeed become the perpetrator. In the West  Bank, the Israeli government  have walled the population in ,  has carefully calculated the minimal  calorific intake to  keep each  Palestinian alive, and has  over many years reduced West  Bank Palestinians lives to  subsistence level, reliant on  “illegal” tunnels supplying food from  Egypt, while health , water and sewage systems crumble. This systematic policy is designed to force Palestinians to abandon their homeland to allow more Israeli settlement. What is urgently needed is for our New Zealand government to finally stand up to Israel and their US supporters and say “enough is enough” and permit international law to prevail.  A separate Palestinian state is now no longer viable after 65 years. What is required therefore is, in the spirit of peace and reconciliation, a process of restoration of justice.  Modelled on the Treaty of Waitangi  process and the South African  Peace and Reconciliation process,  a  unity government of all  religions and politics across Israel  and  the rump  of Palestine  needs to be set  up. This government would oversee the return of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who  have been  dispossessed  over the past 65 years , the release from jail  of the many thousands of  Palestinian  political prisoners (men  women and children) , and the full  compensation or return of lands lost since the occcupation.

Nelson Mandelas’ vision of reconciliation and hope for the future can result in an   Israel/Palestine state that brings a message of hope to the Middle East. The alternative is not worth imagining..

 

References:

2014: International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: Richard Falk

The Lonely Primate

In the 2008 book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection  by John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick, the  case is made that loneliness is an essential  and life-preserving  trait of being human. To  feel the fear of being unintentionally alone is what  keeps us safe; making us run  back to the safety of the clan. And  not just  a psychological  reflective process,  but an in-built physiological response to  the need to be part of the collective of ‘our” group.

trial2Could it be that the need to be  together drives every  one  of our “modern-day” activities: that  avoiding loneliness is the reason  why  we live in  towns and cities, why  we play sports, why we work  together, why  we fight together in  armies, why  we destroy the natural  environment around ourselves to  group together in bigger and bigger clans – that all  these activities are simply  excuses for us to  connect with our fellow primates? – that these activities are essentially meaningless except to  remove our fear of being alone.

The Social  Role Valorization  philosophy ,  developed by  Wolf Wolfensburger in  the 1970s,  offered   a model  and methodology  of inclusion for people with disabilities into  society.  Wolfensburger argued that   for people with disabilities  to have  equal status with the non disabled in  society, they  must have valued roles in  society.  The theory presupposes that   any person, to  be fully human, must   feel  and be included in  the human group  /society they  are geo-spacially part of -in other words, they  must feel themselves part of the clan and be welcomed as part of   the clan.   Wolfensburger argued that it was ‘meaningful’  activity that provided that  acceptance and value.

However, given  that  many,  if not most,  human  activities are intrinsically value-less and meaningless taken in isolation ( eg sports and war),  it would instead appear that the  core of being valued is  simply  the capacity to maintain   contact  with other humans in  a  manner that allows  reciprocal  communication and hence provides reciprocal protection and safety.

Could it be that  this “market-driven” world of consumerism  and destruction has been  elaborately constructed simply to  assuage this vulnerable soft little primate, who  cannot even see in  the dark, from  his  fear of being alone?

 

“The Government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security”- from truth

In the latest  absurdity upon  absurdity in this  fictitious “war  on  terror”, the UK Police have defended their actions in holding and interrogating for 9 hours  Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda on the grounds that Miranda was suspected of terrorism  because  he may  have been relaying truthful  information about  a wide range of Western governments’  illegal   spying on   its citizens.

As the headline above notes; the UK Police’s rationale for the infringement of Miranda’s rights,  was that they  “had a duty to  protect the public and our national  security ” (from  such unwarranted journalism).  With  both  the UK and US police forces being increasingly accused of both corrupt  and violent behaviour, it is little wonder the public  in  those countries feel  a sense of betrayal by  the state.  Who are their police and armed forces in  fact  protecting?

Certainly the deliberately manufactured farce of  muslim  terrorism ( funded with enthusiasm  by  the CIA, and various other “intelligence” western  agencies around the globe- not to mention our “allies”-  the Saudis), is providing an ever more thinly stretched excuse for heavy handed enforcement behaviours,  surveillance and the  erosion of civil  rights.

Who and what  is  it all for?

DublinBaysmallIt would appear that much of this deterioration in  rights and freedoms is simply to  improve the profits of those international  corporates ,  whether media, arms manufacturers ,  energy  companies telecommunications or security companies that  are able to buy the required  influence in  western  “democracies”.

As it becomes increasingly clear  that  we  are nearing the end of the free capitalistic lunch-with  the remainder of  the world’s  natural  resources  being rapidly frittered away for a few quick  bucks  – the corporate billionaires are rushing for the exits, and trampling us “little people” in  the stampede.

 

How our Fellow Animals make Primates of us all

Over the last 20 years there has been increasing scientific evidence of the reality that “animals” vary little from homo sapiens in terms of their capacity to feel, to have cognition and to be aware of their circumstances. That very ‘useful’  set of historical assumptions  of the lack of true ‘awareness’ of other species compared to  homo  sapiens, which has enabled those of us who  wish to kill  or hurt other species on  the grounds of their implicit inferiority to  humans, has now been fully discredited.

Tilly1
Tilly

It is therefore inevitable that, over the next few decades, a global ethical and moral shift to the full valuing of other sentient life on our little planet will occur. This will in turn translate into a massive reduction in meat eating by homo sapiens and the need for environments where other species are respected and protected. While this world-wide ethical  and moral  shift  and its translation  into  alternative action to  value other species as we would our own, may currently appear absurd to my dear readers, it is worthwhile to  consider how rapid the global moral  and ethical  shifts against issues such  as slavery or the rights of women have occurred in  the last  200 years.

It is therefore vital that  both  states and individuals  start to  explore both the implications of that shift in  attitude towards   species other than our own, and to  assist  in  driving that  change towards a better world for all of us who  inhabit this little blue world.

While the challenges to the economic environment  of those state entities whose economies are predominantly reliant  on the export of meat  are  undoubtedly immense if we are to  shift  to a  no-kill  economy;  the opportunities as a world leader in environmental  and species ethics  and practice are also  enormous.

The evidence for the greater efficiency and sustainability of a non-meat based agrarian economy is out there now; we can start to plan for this inevitable change or be sidelined by other more ethical and forward looking economies.  No-kill agricultural produce that is produced in a fully environmentally sustainable way, will be in huge and ever-increasing demand as the ethical  and moral  framework of our  species shifts its awareness in  the decades to come.

Given the indisputable evidence that other animals than homo sapiens have the same value and senses as ourselves, it is imperative that all laws regarding the management of animals ensure that no cruelty or suffering is permitted under government regulation.

In just one of many examples of research into  animal  behaviour that  explores the real  capacities of  other species,  the recent  Guardian article on the work  of Tetsuro Matsuzawa at  the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University exposes how chimpanzees on  a number of cognitive fronts are superior to  homo sapiens .

It is important to  note that  all  research  by homo sapiens is naturally slanted to  place positive  attributes on  those skills that  are traditionally deemed “human”,  and to either ignore , minimise,  ridicule or even simply not observe those skills and attributes  of other species that  are less familiar to us or deemed by  humans to be not important or irrelevant. In addition,   our sensory range  as humans limits our capacity to  even understand at  a basic level ,  th edepth of  awareness of many other species.

One revealing comment by  Prof. Matsuzawa in  the Guardian article is his statement that “As humans evolved and acquired new skills – notably the ability to use language to communicate and collaborate – they lost others they once shared with their common simian ancestors. “Our ancestors may have also had photographic memories, but we lost that during evolution so that we could acquire new skills,” he says. “To get something, we had to lose something.”  As the supremely arrogant and species-centric organisms that humans are;  we have  glorified our  skills, while ignoring our sensory  and cognitive deficits in  comparison  to other species on the planet.

Perhaps our most unique  skill, is our capacity to   manipulate our environment  to  suit our own ends. It is likely to also be our, and the rest of the species on this planet’s , undoing.

Postscript

A recent article in  The Guardian entitled “The American lawyer seeking human rights for chimpanzees” examines with  some incredulity and implied mirth at  the idea-that  a US lawyer is campaigning for chimpanzees  to have the same legal rights as human beings.  The article references the NonHumanRights Project ;  one of the first  of many  human organisations devoted to  rights and equality for all sentient beings on this planet.

George Galloway and the “Killing of Tony Blair”

The obscene, machiavellian  and calculating Tony Blair may  finally get  his come-upance.

George Galloway,  UK   MP, has launched a crowd-funding project  via    Kickstarter   entitled “The Killing of Tony Blair”, to raise £100,000   so  that George Galloway  can   produce a  film  about Tony Blair and his life of exploitation and mass murder for profit.

Blair@ Karimov
Karimov, (L) the brutal Uzbekistan dictator, and the smiling Tony Blair (R) (courtesy of Craig Murray’s blog)

If this film  can really make a mark  with the public, there is a real chance that Blair and other war  criminals like him ,  will be making  their excuses  before the International  War Crimes Tribunal in  short order .

As of 28th  September,  the project had raised  £87,141  towards its £100,000 goal.

Make your donation now and make a real  difference for the future- lets stop  the killers!