Iran: All about one thing

The last few months (years, let’s face it) have seen a lot of antagonism focused on Iran. That country can’t seem to do anything right, in the eyes of others. Ever since the hostage crisis that ended in 1981, it has been vilified as the cause of so many problems, not only in that region, but the world over. If they couldn’t actually pin anything on the Iranians directly, they complained about the use of ‘Iranian-supplied weapons’, or ‘Iranian-backed troops’.

They didn’t mention all the Western-supplied weapons, or Western-backed troops. Oh no.

Remember the long war Iran fought against Iraq? It was from 1980-1988, to jog your memory. During that war, we all thought the Iraqis should win, and wanted the Ayatollahs in Iran to be defeated. Our governments did, anyway, and told us that was the preferred outcome. So we supported Iraq with weapons, advisers, and probably money too. Anything to see the end of Iran, or the regime that wasn’t on our side, as the former Shah had been. This despite the fact that it was conveniently forgotten that Iraq was the aggressor, as they sought to capture the rich oilfields of Khuzestan. At the end, nobody won, and over 1,000,000 troops and civilians were dead. But we don’t ever think about that, as we fill up our cars with fuel.

So once again, it was about oil. It was about oil then, and it is still about oil now.

What are those naughty Iranians up to now?

The US has withdrawn from a Nuclear deal that everyone else accepts was working, claiming Iran is not keeping its promises.
The US is now laughably blaming Iran for the 9/11 attacks, despite proof-positive that they were backed and organised by Saudi Arabia.
Iran is supplying arms to militant Palestinians in Israel.
Iran is supplying rockets that are being fired into Israel.
Iranian banks are ‘funding world terror’.
Iran has imprisoned a British woman on spurious charges.

There is more, but I cannot be bothered to list all the accusations.
Behind all of it, there is just one thing. Oil
It has always been about one thing, Ayatollahs or not. Oil
The Nuclear deal rejection is a smokescreen for? Oil.

The west wants Iran’s oil, and will stop at nothing to get it. That’s what all of this is about.
If you want to believe all the rest, then that’s up to you.

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The Labour Party, and the Jewish question

Lots of news about antisemitism in the Labour Party lately. From historical comments made when some politicians were young and impulsive, to personal attacks on Twitter. Some of the concerns seem to be very real, but others perhaps inflated in their importance, and their meaning slightly skewed.

I was a member of the Labour Party for a long time. During that time, I never heard one antisemitic statement, or a single word against anyone Jewish, based on their religion. I also didn’t hear anything bad said about or against people who were black or Asian, religious or atheist. In many ways, it was a party where political correctness found an early voice, and women were as active in the party (and as welcome) as men too.

There were people we didn’t like of course. Far Right supporters, old-school Tories, (any Tories in fact) wishy-washy Liberals, and even some of the Labour stalwarts of the day, including Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan. Most of us were opposed to the House of Lords, many of us were in favour of a republic, with no Royal Family, and we didn’t have much time for people like Margaret Thatcher later on, that’s for sure. But I never heard a word mentioned about Jews, or someone even being called ‘Jewish’, in an insulting sense.

Very few of us approved of Israel. That country was dominated by right-wing politicians, interfering in other countries like Lebanon, and being tough on its own Palestinian population. Bullish, belligerent, unacceptable, fascist, Zionist, controlling, uncompromising. I did hear those words used to describe Israel, and I used some of them myself. (And still do) But it was never about the main religion of that country, Judaism. It was about the politics of a small nation, propped up by America, supported by international financiers, and constantly citing The Holocaust as a ‘reasonable excuse’ to behave in a fashion that was unacceptable to many of us on the Left of politics.

Even then, valid criticism of Israel was attacked as antisemitic. It was, and still is, a very easy ‘get out’. If somebody criticises that country, they are immediately labelled as an anti-semite, or a racist, and face censure and disgrace, in some circles. It would appear that Israel is supposed to have a ‘get out of jail free’ card for life, and no matter what they do, or how their armed forces behave, woe betide anyone who protests those actions, for you must also be against their religion, obviously.

But that accusation could not be further from the truth. No different to someone being critical of Irish or Italian politics, with no mention of the main religion of Catholicism in those countries. If I write or say something against Saudi Arabia, does that mean I am an anti-Muslim racist? Of course not. Jewish people really do have to get over this idea of equating attacks against Israel with antisemitism. It just isn’t true, and it doesn’t convince anyone. (Anyone sensible, anyway)

For clarity, I should add that it is a long time since I was in the Labour Party, and hold no brief for that party, or any of its politicians or party members.

Syria: The countdown begins

After another apparent ‘chemical attack’ by the Syrian government, it might seem that the world is on the brink of the worst international crisis since the Cuban missile affair in 1962. The US President is threatening to use cruise missiles to attack Syrian military bases, and the British Prime Minister has also expressed a desire for this country to tag along on the American coat-tails. Despite claiming to have ‘proof’ that chemicals were used against civilians in Syria, the French President is adopting a ‘wait and see’ stance on whether or not France will also join in.

Meanwhile, the Russians, currently allied with President Assad in Syria, have stated that they will intercept any missiles fired at Syrian bases by the US, UK, or France. In response, Mr Trump has been bullish in the extreme, telling the Russians and Syrians that they can expect to be attacked very soon.
As far as the UK is concerned, our Prime Minister has decided that the people do not need to be consulted about military intervention that could lead to direct conflict with Russia. She is having a series of meetings with colleagues, to explain the reasons why she feels it necessary to embark on what is basically an undeclared war.

Those of us blessed with a reasonable memory will recall Tony Blair telling us that we had to attack Iraq, because they had chemical weapons that had been used against civilians, as well as the much-quoted ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that were never actually found there.

I think it is time to ask some hard questions.
Do we actually want the Syrian rebels to win?
Will the world be a safer or better place if Assad is removed?
Will any intervention not just stir up the hornet’s nest of anti-western feeling that already exists almost everywhere?
Is NATO actually capable of defeating Russia in a conventional conflict, albeit one fought by proxy in another country?

My own answers to these are No, No, Yes, and No.

Syria is a sovereign country, engaged in a civil war against various groups, including some of the same Muslim fundamentalist organisations that we have supposedly tried so hard to eradicate elsewhere. Their war is not our business, other than for the fact that western leaders would like to see Assad removed from power. If they succeed in doing this, the chances are that they will be back fighting whoever takes over from him, as they will surely be no friend of NATO and its allies.

So what is the point of this escalation, something that might drag us into a global conflict? As always, follow the money. More arms, more money for arms companies, more money for the companies that supply the logistical needs of armies, and more money for the companies that supposedly ‘re-build’ after the conflict has stopped. Add to that some school playground-style chest-thumping from inexperienced ‘world leaders’, and we are in danger of seeing a powder keg ignited, becoming a war that will surely not stop at the Syrian border.

Senseless, in my opinion.

Tony Blair. Just go away

Tony Blair was arguably the worst thing that happened to the Labour Party in Britain. Admittedly, we had Neil Kinnock and Michel Foot, and they were never going to win anything. But victory at any cost has never been something I supported, and the arrival of the smarmy Blair in 1997 was the kiss of death to moderate left-wing politics in this country.

Little more than a closet Tory, sucking up to the Royal Family and America, he even changed the whole idea of the party, going so far as to change the name to New Labour, whilst disassociating himself from the trade unions and working classes who created and supported it. At the earliest opportunity, he plunged the country into pointless and deceitful wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, so that he could have ‘his war’, just as Thatcher had The Falklands.

Facing criticism and possible investigation, he resigned as Prime Minister and as a Labour M.P. in 2007. That should have been the end of him as a political figure. But no. He was immediately appointed as Special Envoy to the Middle East (Who by? I don’t know either) on a huge salary, and began the usual round of incredibly profitable public speaking, and selling his memoirs. This a man shamed for lying to his own government, and the British Public, to take them into a war he knew to be based on falsehoods and big business corruption.

He now runs this outfit, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Supposedly a non-profit organisation (whenever I see non-profit, I always know there’s a lot of profit there somewhere) that was funded to the tune of almost $10 million. I have no idea who put up this money, but I have my suspicions. The first thing that Blair did with this new institute was to become active in the Remain campaign, urging people to vote to stay in the EU. He was interviewed as if he was some kind of revered expert, and allowed to offer his opinions unchallenged. Once the vote went against his ideas, he returned to agitate for a second referendum, and keeps popping up with his ‘I told you so’ soundbites and comments.

Then yesterday, he appeared again, this time pontificating on the nerve agent issue in Salisbury. Warning us about Russia, Putin, and a new Cold War, as if he was the only one to be counted on to have drawn the right conclusions. This man has personal wealth in excess of £60 million. He is completely out of touch with any ordinary person in Great Britain, and owns no less than ten houses and some 25 apartments around the world. And his family is just one wife, and three children, so they have plenty of space to spread out in. And in case you think this is a personal attack, here is part of a newspaper report, from The Guardian.

“How much money will it take to make Tony Blair happy? Given the opportunity, most people would surely rest after a decade of running the country. Blair, on the contrary, appears to have spent every waking hour focused on amassing as much wealth as possible, seemingly intent on increasing his worth to match that of a small country. It should come as no surprise that the Blairs have thrown themselves into the property market, since no dollar is too dirty for them. Blair did, after all, give paid public relations advice to a Kazakh dictator after the police shot 15 protestors dead.
Tony and Cherie Blair’s property empire worth estimated £27m
So of course the Blairs have jumped on the property gravy train, snapping up more than two dozen flats in Manchester through a company Cherie and one of their sons, Euan, own; passing on properties from Cherie to her children as gifts, thus avoiding stamp duty, and ultimately amassing £27m worth of property, much of which is let out and has all already risen in value.”

This was a man who supposedly represented the working classes of this country and was the head of the only socialist party left in Britain. A man with no shame. A profiteer. A man who used his position and influence for personal gain, and family fortune. Why is anybody interested in what he says?

He needs to go away. he really does.

Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica

During last week, the world was supposedly ‘shocked’ by revelations that the details of Facebook users were being used by a research company, Cambridge Analytica, for sales or marketing purposes, and also to possibly influence voting patterns in the 2016 election in America. It was also ‘revealed’ that they targeted voters in the UK, during the EU referendum.

Facebook has 215 million users in the United States alone, and 35 million users in the UK by current available figures. Worldwide, users of that one social media platform are believed to be well in excess of 2.2 BILLION, with at least half that number active on a daily basis. People in most countries around the planet, people of all races and creeds, young and old. They happily share a photo of their latest meal, new sexy outfit, playing with their pets, or just plain old-fashioned keeping in touch with family and friends.

As well as that, many express their political preferences, attack people with different views and opinions, or bully vulnerable people whilst online. They tag people in photos, often without asking, and mention the people they have been socialising with, as well as family members and children. All this information is eagerly harvested by Facebook, from their headquarters. It is then sold on to advertisers, marketplace sellers, opinion poll companies, consumer research organisations, and statistical number crunching outfits like Cambridge Analytica.. Facebook is now estimated to be worth over $500 BILLION, without including the personal worth of its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

So, why the surprise? What is all the furore and chest-beating about? Did you really think that Facebook was just the invention of an amiable geek who wanted to allow everyone to connect with their old school-friends? Really?
Just like how Amazon only wants everyone in the world to be able to buy reasonably-priced goods, delivered to their door.
Or Google provides a totally free search engine, for the altruistic benefit of mankind.

Salisbury: A false flag?

I have been patiently waiting for more details to emerge about the nerve agent attack in Salisbury that left two Russian nationals and an English policeman seriously ill in hospital. In a country with more CCTV surveillance than almost anywhere else on Earth, no doubt footage would emerge of suspects, and the security services would be able to name those concerned. The authorities would then tell us how the attack was engineered, and how it happened to be carried out in broad daylight, in a chain restaurant situated in the heart of a small English city.

I have seen countless news reports of specialists in protective clothing removing cars, and erecting covers around the still closed restaurant. Police tape closed off some public spaces nearby, (that tape presumably effective against unknown nerve agents) and various uniformed figures appeared on TV to issue grim statements about the despicable nature of the attack. But still no real information has been disclosed, and the great British public are none the wiser. The target has been identified as a former spy, and possible double agent for Russia. His daughter was with him at the time, and seems to have been ‘collateral damage’. So too the policeman called to investigate in the first instance. The local hospital where the victims were taken was closed for a while, but otherwise, life in Salisbury continued as normal.

There are around 50,000 people resident in that ancient city, yet only three are reported to have been affected by the release of a ‘deadly’ nerve agent. None of the staff in the restaurant were harmed, nor were any of the other customers eating in there at the time. Despite closing the hospital, sealing up the restaurant, and removing cars and ambulances, no further cases of contamination have been reported. Instead, the government and news media here have been quick to accuse the Russians of ordering and carrying out the attack, using a nerve agent that only they have access to. Our bumbling Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, went so far as to accuse Vladimir Putin directly, and compared Russia to Nazi Germany too.
So much for international diplomacy, and waiting for evidence.

Even before the international ‘experts’ arrived to test the substance, Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats, amid a torrent of accusations and unfounded charges, all based on assumption and rumour.

So what if we say it probably was Russia? The targets definitely appear to be Russians, living openly in the UK, despite their background in spying. Not many countries have access to biological warfare weapons, so Russia has to be high on the list of ‘possibles’. And Russia has been accused of colluding to influence the US Elections, supported the Assad regime in Syria, and is also reasonably friendly with Iran. It is the ‘go-to’ bad guy for almost anything that happens these days, at least since North Korea started to ‘play nice’.

But I think something is very wrong with all this.

Not far from Salisbury, just 6 kilometres in fact, is one of the largest and most sophisticated chemical and biological warfare installations in the world. Porton Down was built in 1917, and became the UK Armed Forces’ primary facility for the development of gas warfare, chemical warfare, and biological warfare too. The scientists there are world leaders in the field, and have worked alongside other countries to develop and supply all manner of toxic substances for use in modern warfare.

Coincidence?

The ‘former’ Russian spy was eating not far from this place, and presumably either lived in the area, or was visiting from somewhere else.

Coincidence?

This happened just before the recent Russian elections.

Coincidence?

Very little information has been forthcoming, and some questions will never be answered, in ‘The Interests Of National Security.’ That again.

I prefer proof to coincidences and unfounded allegations. That’s what got us into a war with Iraq, and led to wars in other countries too. Can it be possible that this whole thing was constructed to discredit Russia just before the elections, and their hosting of the Football World Cup? To add more fuel to the American allegations, and inspire the international community to put pressure on Putin?
Anything’s possible. But they should all remember one important fact.
Russia is not Iraq.

Nothing happening?

Politics tends to be quiet, at this time of year. But look between the headlines, and you may well discover that it is all still ‘happening’.

North Korea is making overtures. They say that they will negotiate the removal of their nuclear weapons, in return for talks on lessening sanctions, and a better relationship with the south. That might be a great thing to discover, if the DPRK actually had a viable nuclear weapons option, which they patently do not. Nice bluffing from Kim. Will that bluff be called?

The Brexit negotiations are apparently ‘bogged down’ over arrangements about a hard border, in Northern Ireland. That, and the argument over free trade, after we leave the EU. Anyone but the blind, and hermits, will realise that this is all just ‘Brexit stalling’, arranged by the pro-remain politicians who are laughably in charge of settling our withdrawal from the EU. Despite clarion calls to the contrary, it is looking more and more as if a ‘second referendum’ is likely, urging the British people to vote to stay in the EU, in all but name.

As the old saying goes, “Don’t piss in my face, then tell me it is raining”.

Mr Trump continues to play ‘silly buggers’, over in America. His latest wheeze is to threaten to impose trade tariffs, strangling imports of cars, steel, and other goods from countries outside the influence of the US. I don’t think he is mad, as many others assert that he is, but he is getting increasingly silly, that’s for sure.

People are still dying in Syria, every day. Assad is the leader of that country, like it or not. Most of his opponents are from fundamentalist Muslim groups, the kind of groups we are constantly fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet for some reason, in Syria, they are ‘good groups’, and Assad is the devil. Regime change is a slippery slope, as we have discovered in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries. Best avoided? Not in Syria, apparently.

So, as Mrs May hangs on for dear life to her job, Mr Trump continues to befuddle and confound, Assad seems to be winning in Syria, and Kim finally plays his ace in the DPRK; the EU try to cling on to British membership for fear of a collapse, and the Saudis remain unrestrained in their support of the terrorists, rest assured that everything is still very much ‘going on’.

Unfortunately.