• Books: Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, Endless War: Hidden Functions of the "war on terror" by David Keen, Capital Vol. 1, Tin Drum by Günter Grass, What is Islam? by Shahab Ahmed, Desiring Arabs by Joseph Massad, Spies, Soldiers and Statesmen by Hazem Kandil, La Condition Humaine by André Malraux, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Imagined Community by Benedict Anderson, Culture and Imperialism by Edward Said, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, The Richness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould, Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz, The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, Noli me Tangere by José Rizal, Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm, ذهنية التحريم لصادق جلال العظم, Karl Marx by Francis Wheen, وليمة لأعشاب البحر لحيدر حيدر, Candide by Voltaire, النزعات المادية في الفلسفة العربية الإسلامية لحسين مروة, Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich ..
  • Films: Alexanderplatz by Rainer Fassbinder, Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now, The Battle of Algiers, films by P. P. Passolini, Persepolis, Midnight Express, 1984, Papillion, Gangs of New York, Sophie Scholl, Life of Brian, Ivan the Terrble, Battleship Potemkine ...

Friday, December 22, 2006

'The vision of the East and the heritage of the West'

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
or www.resonancefm.com
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

'The vision of the East and the heritage of the West: the ideological dialectics in the art music of the Jewish community in Palestine and Israel' by professor Jehoash Hirshberg.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Paul Rogers - Lebanon: What is behind the Conflict?

Interview with Paul Rogers , author of A War Too Far: Iraq, Iran and the New American Century (Plutobooks 2006) and A war on Terror Afghanistan and After (Pluto Books 2004).
>>
Listen to the interview

Lebanon - What is behind the Conflict?

This week quote: "Society cannot share a common communication system so long as it is split into warring factions." Bertolt Brecht, German playwright

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Financial War on Terror - Wust EL Balad

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4 or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)


"The Financial War on Terror". Ibrahim Warde, adjunct professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, and journalist for Le Monde Diplomatique, speaks about The Price of Fear: Al Qaeda and the Truth Behind the Financial War on Terror (IB Tauris. 2006).

4th London Kurdish Film Festival. This year's festival will run for one week and will present an extraordinary variety of films made by Kurdish film makers or about Kurdish issues: features, documentaries, shorts and, for the first time, animated films, from all over the world. For more deails visit: www.riocinema.org.uk


Sherif Abdel Samad on the Internet portal Qantara.de wrote about the Egyptian band Wust EL Balad saying there is "a touch of religion, politics, love, and revolution."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Aljazeera - British Empire in the Middle East

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
or resonancefm.com
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

"I can definitively say that what Al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable," Rumsfeld told reporters on 15 April, 2004 after Al-Jazeera showed the bodies of women and children killed by U.S. bombs in Fallujah. "...Al-Jazeera has been ragarded with suspicion by Arab governments who complain that its programs bruise their sensitivities and threaten the stability of their regimes," wrote Mohamed Zayani in Al-Jazeera Phenomenon, Critical Perspectives on New Arab Media (2005) Jon Anderson and Dale Eikelman argue that "Al-Jazeera plays a role, jejune as it may be, in the pacification of Arab public opinion."

The Blood Never Dried: A Peoples' History of the British Empire (Bookmarks 2006). Part of a book launch speech by the author John Newsinger: >> The British Empire in the Middle East

Friday 8 December: "The Financial War on Terror". Ibrahim Warde, adjunct professor at the Fletcher School of law and diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, speaks about The Price of Fear: Al Qaeda and the Truth Behind the Financial War on Terror (IB Tauris).
Friday 22 December: 'The vision of the East and the heritage of the West: the ideological dialectics in the art music of the Jewish community in Palestine and Israel' by professor Jehoash Hirshberg.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Patrick Cockburn - Yakov M Rabkin

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4 or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)


Patrick Cockburn's 'The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq
' (Verso Books 2006). Part from the book launch event that took place at the London Review of Books on 21 of November 2006 in London. Cockburn has been Middle East correspondent since 1979 and writer for the British newspaper 'The Independent'. He considers the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath as 'a catastrophic failure'.

Part from a talk given by Yakov M Rabkin, Professor of History at the University of Montreal, on 'A Threat from Within - A History of Jewish Opposition to Zionism' (Zed Books, 2006), School of Oriental and African Studies, 16 Novemeber 2006. >> Listen here

Friday, November 17, 2006

'Résistances irakiennes' - Gaza

Gaza Burns: "Nineteen inhabitants of Beit Hanun were killed with malice aforethought. There is no other way of describing the circumstances of their killing. Someone who throws burning matches into a forest can't claim he didn't mean to set it on fire, and anyone who bombards residential neighborhoods with artillery can't claim he didn't mean to kill innocent inhabitants.," wrote Gideon Levy in Haaretz, 14 November. "The IDF has been behaving like this for months now," Levy added. Related articles: >> Ali Abuminah's letter (Electronic Intifada) >> 'No One is Guilty in Israel' by Gideon Levy (Haaretz) >> Listen to Rabbi Ahron Cohen >>

'Résistances irakiennes' by Nicolas Dessaux. Dessaux is an archeologist and president of the organization 'Iraq Solidarity', which since 2003 works for and supports women and social struggle in the occupied Iraq. His newly-released book raises the following questions:
What strategies should be adopted to prevent the civil war spreading in the quarters? How to defend women's rights while the Islamists are part of the government and control the streets? What social struggle should be carried out to defend justice and the rights of workers? >> Listen to the interview: Part 1 > Part 2

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The First World War

The First World War
Poppy Day: ‘What did our Boys Fight and Die for’?
Nadim Mahjoub

We are hearing and reading a lot just now about a war for civilization. In some vague, ill-designed manner we are led to believe that the great empires of Europe have suddenly been seized with chivalrous desire to right the wrongs of mankind, and have sallied forth to war, giving their noblest blood and greatest measures to the task of furthering the cause of civilization.
James Connolly, A War for Civilization, 1915



‘The Great War’ saw millions of people join the trenches and be slaughtered, up until that time, in the bloodiest carnage in human history? Poppy Day in Britain is a remembrance day that World War I ended in 11 November 1918. Initially, the war was expected to be short and by Christmas of 1914 it would be over and things return to ‘business as usual’. At the beginning there was a big patriotic enthusiasm of the masses in the streets of Paris, London and Berlin. The patriotic speeches and vilification of the enemy helped make the war popular, for a while. Then the mood became unclear as some called for peace and others vacillated. The stance taken by most of the socialists and socialist groups was to be fatal in determining the course of a historical development.

What was the First World War about? Was it a war for civilisation against barbarity (the philosopher Henri Bergson) or was it a ‘war to end all wars’ and ‘to make the world safe for democracy’ (H.G. Wells)? Was WWI an opportunity for businessmen they had never seen before, as the British Daily Telegraph noted? Or, was the War an inevitable outcome of a combination of internal difficulties and ‘a general situation created by world imperialism’ as the British historian A.L. Morton put it? Last, but not least, did the outcome of WWI lead to WWII?

Germany claimed she was fighting to avoid encirclement and to secure a free hand to become a world power, France claimed she was fighting to expel an invader, Britain claimed she was fighting to rid the world of bullies, Russia claimed she was fighting for the Slavic people. Everybody claimed that the war aim was self-defence.

“War,” wrote Peter Kropotkin, “is the natural condition of Europe.” The First World War was to overshadow all previous wars in its horror and destruction. It is a mistake, however, to think that the root of the war was the assassination of the Archduke of Austria-Hungary. “The First World War,” explains the military historian and lecturer John Keegan, “inaugurated the manufacture of mass death that the Second brought to a pitiless consummation is inexplicable except in terms of the rancour and instabilities left by the earlier conflict.” (My emphasis, N.M.)

Explosions and changes in life always have a cumulative background and a mere accident would be enough to trigger an explosion. An economic collapse or a boom, an earthquake, a cultural renaissance, an uprising or a revolution, a death of a man, a divorce… all need to pass by a process of quantitative accumulation before it transforms to something new, positive or negative.

A War to End all Wars?

In 1860 the colonial possessions of Britain covered about 2,500,000 square miles with 145,000,000 inhabitants. In 1899 the area covered 11, 600,000 square miles with 345,000,000 inhabitants. This expansion was due to the development of British capitalism from an economy based on industrial monopoly (the workshop of the world) to a colonial monopoly in which state power ruled over vast regions of the earth and through which means of production and capital were generated and exported. By 1900 the total amount of British investments abroad was about £2,000,000,000.

Britain at that time held in thrall a sixth of the human race … under penalty of imprisonment and death, wrote James Connolly, and believed that all races are subject to purchase. At home, the pre-war era Britain experienced a series of cyclical crises occurred in 1902-4, 1908-9 and in 1914 before the outbreak of the war. Before the war the level on unemployment was rarely under a million.

Another feature that characterized the British economy of the time was its parasitic form. Unlike Germany and the USA, British industry was experiencing a slow progress. This was due to the accumulation of industrial capital in the hands of a minority of bankers and shareholders, who were happy to sit back and drew dividends.

Germany at that time had neither colonies nor hinterland. Her economy was based on an extreme organisation and control of the home industry and monopoly production. The USA, on its part, had already established an internal monopoly and became a colonial power and also exporter of capital after the Spanish-American War. Once leader in developing the productive forces, British industry became old-fashioned and faced a serious competition from Germany, the USA and France, which developed new technological methods and efficiency.

In terms of colonial expansion, France was Britain’s main rival up until 1900. Now Germany was the main rival. Britain and France had secured rich and large swathes of regions for resources and markets. Germany and Italy, however, could acquire only small portions of the colonial spoils. This uneven division of the world would inevitably create tensions and conflicts between the capitalist imperialist countries.

Thus begun the age of imperialism. Lenin asserted that the worldwide system of imperialism was responsible for the war. “The large banking interests in the various capitalist-imperialist powers had pulled the strings in the various governments and led them into war,” he wrote in 1917. "Imperialism is capitalism in that stage of development in which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital has established itself; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun; in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed."(Lenin, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism)

A.L. Morton gives significant figures underlying the roots of the building up of conflict between Britain and Germany due to Britain loosing trade share to Germany in the Balkans and South America. “Even within the British Empire,” writes Morton, “Germany was gaining ground at the expense of Britain.” (A People’s History of England, 1999, p. 429)

Conflicts over colonies created alliances as well as enemies. Earlier conflicts between the big powers of the time left too much hostility and instability. Because of the unfavourable outcome of the Franco-Prussian war tensions between France and Germany remained high. The Boer war increased the move of each state to seek alliances. A new conflict developed over the control of Morocco since 1904 to end, after Britain had given France a free hand in the country, with France seizing Fez and then the port of Agadir in 1911. Germany, however, was to gain only a small slice of the Congo. Therefore, in parallel and in connection with the economic division of the world, “certain relations grow up between political alliances, between states, on the basis of the territorial division of the world, of the struggle for colonies, of the struggle for spheres of influence.” (Lenin, ibid)

Similarly, after the 1909 Revolution in Persia, Britain and Russia rushed in to partition the country and keep Germany out of the colonial and semi-colonial areas. Germany now was left with a possibility to look at the decaying Ottoman Empire and the Balkans, but she had to confront the ambitions of Russia in the region. The Balkans war of 1912 had to be added to the crises that characterized the pre-war period. After all, it was an event in Serbia that would lead to the direct conflict between the imperialist powers. Here too, the crisis in the Balkans had its roots in previous conflicts that remained unresolved. Remarkably, the murder of the pro-Austrian king Alexander in Serbia a few years earlier did not trigger a world war as the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand would, but only an economic war between Austria and Serbia in 1905. Why? So far, all the ingredients to set off a wider, full-scale war involving the imperialist powers had not amassed yet.

The race to acquire new colonies for raw materials and markets was paralleled by an arms and naval race. Britain made sure that her naval power be stronger than any other major rival, especially Germany. The launch of HMS Dreadnought, for instance, made all existing battleships look like scrap iron. While Britain’s fleet was concentrated in the Red Sea, France’s was concentrated in the Mediterranean. With the growing alliance and collaboration between the two powers, it made it impossible for Britain not to interfere in the event of a conflict between France and Germany.

France and Russia, on the other hand, were increasing their armies as well as the period of military service. This required huge increase in expenditure, which made all countries involved face the risk of bankruptcy.

Thus The First World War had its roots in a pre-war situation that characterized the world economy, and international relations and without examining those roots, one would see the war, and any war for that matter, as a mere accident rather than an combination of both necessity and accident.

“In Britain, in spite of intense war campaign in the jingo press, the great mass of working class and liberal opinion was in favour of peace,” writes Morton. “The government, however, had already made its choice.” (People’s History of England, p. 449) One would argue that any similarities between this behaviour prior 1914 and the war in Iraq and the behaviour of the Blair government, is just a mere coincidence. We tend to differ. With some differences, it is the same capitalist ruling class that wages war against the will of the masses in the pursuit for its own interests. As the American Historian Howard Zinn finely put it “Class interest has always been obscured behind an all-encompassing veil called ‘the national interest’.” (Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, Great Britain, 2003, p.684) Obviously, other reasons had to be produced for the public. With the German invasion of Belgium, the British government portrayed which was in fact an imperialist war as a war for the defence of small sovereign nations. As the historian A.J.P Taylor brilliantly stated, “No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always economic.”

Importantly was the labour and the suffragettes movements and the uprising in Ireland and their relation to the then Liberal Government of Lloyd George. The Prime Minister summarized the situation as the Labour “insurrection” intertwining with the Irish “insurrection”; a situation that “will be the gravest with which any government has had to deal for centuries.” The crisis of British capitalism was accompanied by a revolutionary ferment characterized in particular by the strike movement of the miners in South Wales and the Cambrian Combine and then the national coal strike in 1912, of the dockers and seamen, in particular the great London dock strike, of miners, railwaymen and transport workers in 1914, and of the shop stewards among the engineers.

However, the movement was be interrupted by the outbreak of the war “before it had time to reach its height,” wrote Morton, “but there are indications at least that it was developing towards a conscious struggle for power. It is probable that only the war,” continuous Morton, “prevented a general strike which would have raised directly the question of revolution.” (Ibid, p. 439) One of the results of the struggles was the increase of unions memberships by more than 1.5 million between 1910 and 1914.

Another remarkable movement, which was met by repression, was women’s struggle for franchise. Brutal methods such as breaking demonstrations, arrests, forcible feeding of hunger strikers, torture were used against the suffragettes. This movement too was interrupted by the war.

In Ireland, events were moving towards a heroic uprising. Owing to the cowardice of the bourgeoisie, wrote Lenin, “a number of pre-bourgeois, medieval, landlord institutions and privileges have been preserved. In order to suppress the rebellion of the aristocratic officers, the Liberal Government ought to have appealed to the people, to the masses, to the proletariat, but this is exactly what the ‘enlightened’ Liberal bourgeoisie were more afraid of than anything else in the world.” (quoted by Morton, ibid, p. 443) In Dublin a revolutionary movement was developing under the leadership of James Connolly and Jim Larkin. A strike by the militant Irish Transport Workers’ Union was organised with the support of English trade unionists. The defeat of the strike would lead to the creation of the Citizen Army by the Irish Marxist Connolly.

The worst scenario for the English ruling class of the time would be the possibility of a fusion of two struggles against capital and national oppression: the movement for the liberation of Ireland and a general strike in England. The rise of the national movements in India and Egypt was also adding more trouble for the imperial government. In Germany the Social Democrats were growing fast and gaining more support.

Thus the world war was a result of the crisis of the imperialist system, but it was also a released valve for the ruling classes, especially in England, Germany and Russia, to abort revolution at home, or just delay any upheaval that could shake their power.

The War and Revolution

“Historically, this war was ordained to thrust forward the cause of the proletariat … It was ordained to drive the German proletariat to the pinnacle of the nation and thereby to organise the international and universal conflict between capital and labour for political power within the state,” wrote Rosa Luxembourg that martyr for the working class cause in The Junius Pamphlet (available on www.marxists.org), written while she was in prison and later illegally distributed in Germany in 1916.

War and revolution are often intrinsically linked. Before the First World War revolutionary situations already existed in countries like Germany, Russia, England and Ireland, and then continued during the war to culminate with two revolutions in Russia alone. However, because of the betrayal of Social Democrats the Revolution in Germany was defeated and saw its leaders – Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht – murdered by the German ruling class. This would have grave consequences on the fate of the Russian revolution in particular and the prospect of the world revolution in general.

Rosa Luxemburg considered the voting of war credits in August 1914 as “a shattering moment in the life of individual socialists and of the socialist movement in Europe.” In the midst of the catastrophe, International Social Democracy capitulated. Initially, the leaders of the Socialist International opposed the war and considered that a world war between the imperialist states had reactionary objective: the re-division of the world. With the outbreak of the war, however, those same leaders rushed to support the ruling classes in ‘their’ countries. The betrayal was a shock to the Bolsheviks. The veteran Marxist Plekhanov, the Russia Anarchist Kropotkin, Karl Kaustky, and others, all backed their rulers.

In Britain though labour leaders like Kier Hardie opposed the war they could do nothing to carry on their opposition after the war machine started rolling. On the contrary, Hardie argued for ‘national unity’ to confront the war. ‘An industrial peace’ and class collaboration policy was adopted by workers’ organisations. Yet, this policy was unable not prevent the labour movement to organise itself independently (through shop stewards committees, for example) and took industrial actions. In the United States the Socialist Party opposed the US taking part in the war and called it ‘a crime against the American people’. With the advent of the war, hundreds of American socialists were imprisoned for opposing the slaughter.

The Easter Uprising of 1916, however, was the first real serious attempt to spread revolution all over Europe and hence bring the war to an end and establish a new society. Unfortunately, the British government drowned the uprising in blood and Connolly himself was executed. It was left to the Russia and German revolutions to put an end to the imperialist barbaric war.

The course of the war itself was neither quick nor smooth, as the imperialists had thought it would be. It lasted for four years. It broke the myth of the unawareness of the soldiers. There were numerous mutinies, scores of divisions refused to return to the front, and as early as Christmas of 1914 British and German soldiers fraternised with each other.

“The outbreak of the Russian Revolution,” wrote Rosa Luxemburg about the February Revolution in Russia, “has broken the stalemate in the historical situation created by the continuation of the world war and the simultaneous failure of the proletarian class struggle.” (The Old Mole, May 1917, www.marxists.org) The German Marxist was aware that only a world working class revolution could guarantee an irreversible victory, but that has to start with a revolution in an advanced capitalist country. “There is only one serious guarantee against these concerns for the future of the Russia Revolution: the awakening of the German proletariat, the attainment of a position of power by the German ‘workers and soldiers’ in their own country, a revolutionary struggle for peace by the German people.” (The Old Mole)

The October Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky aimed at a socialist transformation of society, not only in Russia but in the world. To achieve that the leaders of the revolution appealed to the workers of the countries involved in the war to end the slaughter and carry out a revolutionary struggle against their own ruling classes. The impact of what happened in Russia was tremendous on the British labour movement. It saw the Labour Party adopting a socialist constitution. Notably, Ramsay MacDonald from the Independent Labour Party called for the establishment of Soviets in Britain!

Contrary to the British historian Erik Hobsbawm’s assessment of the events that broke out in Germany in November 1918, the German Revolution was not a minor event, but a revolutionary process that extended till 1923. Only after a week of its eruption did the German Revolution put an end to the war. Workers and soldiers’ councils were set up and assistance to the Russian revolution now became possible. Unfortunately, the right wing within the German Social Democrats did their best to halt the revolution. The Russian revolution remained isolated and besieged by the imperialist states.

But the revolutionary tide in Europe did not slow down. In 1919 a revolution in Hungary broke out. But the Hungarian Communist-Social Democrat government relied on some section of the army and did not carry out a revolutionary programme and failed to make an alliance with peasants. Consequently, the counter-revolution made a comeback and installed a military dictatorship. In Austria, like their counterparts in Germany, the Austrian Social Democrats did not challenge capitalism but they ensured its survival and even allowed the workers councils to be crushed.

In Spain labourers occupied lands in the south, riots took place in Madrid, textile workers went on strike in Barcelona, in Valencia streets were re-named ‘Lenin’, ‘Soviets’, October Revolution’, etc, a workers movement in Catalonia was defeated. In Italy 1919 a three-day general strike was organised in solidarity with the Russia Revolution, later many factories were occupied, but the Socialist Party stood aside and did not lead the workers to seize power.

The end of the First World War was not the end of wars. Rosa Luxemburg’s prophetic words, “Order prevail in Berlin! You foolish lackeys! Your ‘order’ is built on sand,” was a proof that imperialist ‘order’ meant other wars, but on a bigger scale. “Not Lloyd Gorge and Poincare, not Sonnino, Wilson and Ersberger or Scheidemann, must be allowed to make peace. Peace must be concluded under the waving banner of the Socialist World Revolution,” warned Rosa shortly before her death in A Call to the Workers of the World in November 1918.

The imperialist peace and order was indeed built on sand; with the defeat of the labour movement and revolutions the ground was left for the rise of fascism and proved that the First World War appeared to be a mere rehearsal of a more gigantic slaughter, the Second World War, not to speak of the millions who died during the wars of liberation and the US imperialist interventions all over the world. What was particular with the First World War, observed Leon Trotsky, was that it represented first of all “the collapse of the nation-sate as a self-sufficient economic arena. Nationalism,” continued Trotsky, “can continue as a cultural, ideological, psychological factor – the economic basis has been cut from under its feet.”

Remembering those who died in the First World War should not hide the fact that they died for the interest of the bourgeoisies of the countries involved. As in the case of all imperialist wars, ‘our’ boys, and daughters, were used as a cannon fodder “to fight and die for the delights, riches, and superfluities of others.” Today, whether it is in Iraq or Palestine, in the Congo or the Sudan, in Colombia or Afghanistan working class people are sent by the ruling classes to fight their fellow working class fellows and poor peasants, who are, if you unveil the nationalist face, have everything in common to fight their real common enemy, the international capitalist and imperialist class and end all wars.

“Humanity has not always risen along an ascending curve. No, there have existed prolonged periods of stagnation and relapses into barbarism. Societies raise themselves, attain a certain level and cannot maintain. Humanity cannot sustain its position, its equilibrium is unstable; a society which cannot advance falls back, and if there is no class to lead it higher, it ends up by breaking down, opening the way to barbarism.” (Leon Trotsky, from a speech given in Moscow, July 1921, reported in Pravda, 12 July 1921, quoted in Pierre Broué, Trotsky, Paris, 1988, p.349)

London, 11 November 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nizar al-Issa on the Oud - China Mieville on the Middle East and international Law

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4 or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Nizar al-Issa: singer, songwriter and Oud (Arabic lute) player, accompanied on tabla by Kayed Hussien. Nizar's powerful vocals, skillful mastery of the Oud and passionate, original songs create a breathtaking soundscape. 'Authentic voice, masterful performance' – Al Arabia.

The Middle East and international law by China Mieville. His last book 'Between Equal Rights' (2006) delves into the nature of law. Mieville joins the show to explore how the international law is applied to the Middle East context. "Miéville argues that "law is structurally indeterminate as applied to particular cases, and so the interpretation which becomes official is always a matter of force; the stronger of the contesting parties in each legal dispute will ultimately obtain the sanction of law. International law, therefore, is not only genuine law despite the lack of an overarching sovereign, but is a more basic type than domestic law, with states taking the role of individuals, with "property rights" in their territory." Listen to the interview >> Part 1 >> Part 2 Related articles: >> International Law and America Power Politics >> Saddam's Trial

Friday, November 03, 2006

Kamil Mahdi on Iraq and the Middle East - Khatami's visit to Britain

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4 or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)
  • Kamil Mahdi, an Iraqi political exile and lecturer in the economics of the Middle East at Exeter university, England, director of MA Arab Gulf Studies, ME Studies and ME Policy Studies, argues that in Iraq 'The British army is just another militia' and that while "daily the media tells us about clashes between "insurgents" and Western troops in Iraq, we hear less about the unarmed resistance which is fighting the occupation with strikes and workplace walkouts. The General Union of Oil Employees in Basra (GUOE), or Basra Oil Union as it is commonly referred to, is in many respects leading in that struggle - continuously opposing international corporations that want to take over the national oil industry."
  • By Friday 03 November Mohammad Khatami, Iran's 'President' from 1997 to 2005, would have visited to Britain and received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws in Scotland and delivered a speech at Chatham House in London. Also a picket and a protest to the visit would have taken place. Listen to the coverage. Listen here>> Part 1 >> Part 2 (Murad Shirin) >> Part 3 (Maryam Namazi)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Ilan Pappe - Jo Wilding

“I support compulsory transfer. I do not see in it anything immoral . . . The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.” David Ben-Gurion writing to his son, 1937. The 1948 Palestine-Israel War is known to Israelis as 'The War of Independence', but for Palestinians it will forever be the Nakba, the 'catastrophe'. Around a million people were expelled from their own country at gunpoint, civilians were massacred and hundreds of Palestinian villages were deliberately destroyed. Denied for almost six decades, had it happened today it could only have been called "ethnic cleansing." Ilan Pappe is an Israeli Jew, a world-renowned expert and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006) joins Middle East Panorama for an exclusive interview. 

Don't Shoot the Clowns - Taking a circus to the children of Iraq. But what was a bunch of clowns doing in Iraq in the first place? What possible use could they be to a country suffering war and occupation, where families are torn apart by grief and children are shocked and terrified? Jo Wilding had moments when she doubted her own plans, until she saw the transforming effect that laughter has. >> Jo Wilding >> Montage by Amanda

Friday, October 20, 2006

Daniel Dor - Lina Khatib

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4 or www.resonancefm.com
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)
Featured in The Independent, 'Critic's Choice', 20 October 2006
Interview with Daniel Dor, author of The Suppression of Guilt. A former journalist, Daniel Dor teaches at the Department of Communication,Tel Aviv University, and is a graduate of Stanford University. A revised translation of an earlier book, Intifada Hits the Headlines, was published by Indiana University Press in 2003. He has worked as a senior news editor in two of Israel's leading newspapers. "Dor's book," commented Amira Hass, journalist for the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, "gives ample evidence of how the Israeli free press easily turned into an instrument of propaganda. ... Personally, the book helped me get over the frustration of seeing the reality I described totally marginalised in print." >> Listen here
Also joining the show Lina Khatib to speak about
P
olitics in the Cinemas of Hollywood and the Arab World. Today the world's media have a pressing need to understand and interpret the modern Middle East. In her book (released by I B Tauris on 27 September 2006) Khatib examines how contemporary American cinema and the cinemas of the Arab world contribute to this global preoccupation in their representations of Middle Eastern politics. The writer, a lecturer in world cinema, also uncovers the challenges presented by Arab cinemas to Hollywood's ways of representing Middle East politics. >> Listen here

Friday, October 06, 2006

Muhammad's Sword - Pakistan - An Iranian Refugee

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104 or http://www.resonancefm.com/ Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)

  • Uri Avnery argues,"True, Muhammad called for the use of the sword in his war against opposing tribes - Christian, Jewish and others - in Arabia, when he was building his state. But that was a political act, not a religious one; basically a fight for territory, not for the spreading of the faith... When the Catholics re-conquered Spain from the Muslims, they instituted a reign of religious terror. The Jews and the Muslims were presented with a cruel choice: to become Christians, to be massacred or to leave. Not for the first time in history, a religious robe is spread to cover the nakedness of economic interests; not for the first time, a robbers' expedition becomes a Crusade. Interview with Uri Avnery in Israel. >> Listen to the interview
  • Interview with a representative from Pakistan Trade Union Campaign in Pakistan about the ban of the Sindh Teachers' Union, the protests against the ban and the Musharef regime. Lal Khan will also be speaking about his new book. "The latest attack on Lebanon by America through Israel could be one of the last hiccups of the system. This attack could also be considered a successful suicide attempt," says Munno Bhai, commenting on a recently published book on current the Lebanon/Israel war by Lal Khan. The book was published by The Struggle Publications in Lahore. The book also looks at the history of wars and revolutions in the whole region and the changing role of Iran in the region and the spectre of an imperialist attack. >> Listen here
  • He is "an Iranian refugee, independent political activist in variety of issues such as anti-war, refugees' rights, Iranian people support committee and anti-capitalism. Hassan Zendeh was involved in Iranian anti-monarchy revolution in 1979 and has had a lot of experience through that period and lessons that could be useful today."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Lawrence Pintak - 'Don't Attack Iran'

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104 or http://www.resonancefm.com/ Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)

  • Interview with Lawrence Pintak, author of Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens - America, Islam and the War of Ideas (Pluto Books, January 2006). Journalist-scholar Lawrence Pintak, a former CBS News Middle East correspondent, argues that the Arab media revolution and the rise of 'patriot-journalists' in the US marginalized voices of moderation, distorting perceptions on both sides of the divide with potentially disastrous results. >> Listen
  • From Don't Attack Iran, a joint public meeting of Action Iran and CASMII UK in London, University London Union, September 19, 2006. As the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck provoked anger in Washington and London by calling for an end to UN sanctions on Iraq, imposed for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. He finally resigned from his position in protest against the continuation of UN sanctions against Iraq in February 2000. Other speakers of the meeting were: John Rees (Stop the War Coalition) Paul Ingram (BASIC) Kamin Mohammadi (Writer and Journalist) Mehri Honarbin-Holliday (Action Iran) Abbas Edalat (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hisham Matar - Alan Woods

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104
or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)
Featured in The Independent's 'Critics Choice', 22 September 2006
Hisham Matar, a Libyan living in the UK, speaks about his experience as a writer and his first novel In the Country of Men (Viking, July 2006). "I would have liked to write a book that had nothing to do with politics," he says. "I think ultimately I am a sensualist and an aesthete. I'm not really interested in politics, but politics was part of the canvas. I had to say something about it, otherwise all the different forces that are shaping these characters would be abstract," said Matar. >> Listen here
Interview with Alan Woods, a leading founder of the International Marxist Tendency and editor of In Defence of Marxism website. Alan will be speaking about the Middle East (from Israel-Palestine to Pakistan and Afghanistan). “The situation in the Middle East is spiralling out of control," “This ‘war on terrorism’ has had results that are diametrically opposed to what was intended," “The US invasion of Afghanistan has solved nothing," argues Alan Woods. >> Listen to the interview

Friday, September 15, 2006

Yoel Cohen - 9/11 and 'the War on Terror'

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104
or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)
  • Interview with Yoel Cohen, a British-born academic currently living in Jerusalem, where he is Senior Lecturer at the School of Communications, Netanya Academic College; and The Holon Academic Institute of Technology and at Holon Institute of Technology, Israel. He has written several books and articles concerning the news media and the Middle East, including The Whistleblower of Dimona: Israel, Vanunu and the Bomb (Holmes and Meier, 2003) and Nuclear Ambiguity (Sinclair Stevenson, 1992), Whistleblowers and the Bomb: Vanunu, Israel and Nuclear Secrecy (Pluto Books, new edition, 2005). >> Listen here
  • 9/11 - 'The War on Terror'. We asked some people to comment on the following statement: “Capitalism and the ‘war on terror’ not only help to sustain one another but they have this in common: they worship success but are nourished by failure.” (David Keen, Endless War?, 2006) >> Listen here

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11 and the Functions of the ‘War on Terror’




Note: Much of the information in this article, including research, citations, and source material is based on information found in Endless War, by David Keen.

"I shall give a propagandist reason for starting the war, no matter whether it is plausible or not. The victor will not be asked afterwards whether he told the truth or not. When starting and waging a war it is not right that matters, but victory." Adolf Hitler, speech to Wehrmacht commanders-in-chief, 22 August 1939
It has been said that September 11th portends something new; that the terrorist attacks carried out on September 11, 2001 against the USA have changed the world. "It stands to reason that 19 men cannot change history. But they did." (The Economist, 31 August 2006) The so-called ‘war on terror', a continuum of the 1980s Reagan's war, has been designed to end ‘terror'. To achieve this it will require years of ‘counter-terrorism', a war that would not be "over in a month or a year or even five years." (Donald Rumsfeld, September 2001) In fact, the ‘war on terror' goes back to the Russian Revolution and to what the imperialists called the ‘red terror'. This brief analysis, however, does not delve into that period nor does it deal with the real perpetrators of the attacks, but with the hidden functions of the current ‘war on terrorism'.
One of the techniques used to sell a war is to advertise it, to say it often enough so people will believe it. Adolf Hitler had already taken this insight into the political sphere, ‘The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous ... [Propaganda] must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.'" (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter 6) Hitler, in fact, made the connection with commercial advertising explicit, "All advertising, whether in the field of business or politics, achieves success through the continuity and sustained uniformity of its application." (Mein Kampf, chapter 6)
Another technique is ‘good versus evil', the ‘Us' against ‘them' rhetoric. Because of its allegiance to freedom and democracy the US is good. Therefore, ‘because the US is good it deserves to be powerful and, by nature, cannot use its power for evil ends.' Once the ruling classes monopolise violence, they ‘legitimise' their use of violence, and terror, and de-legitimise the violence of rebels as ‘terrorism'; we fight for freedom, they fight against freedoms; "If they do it, it's terrorism, if we do it, it's fighting for freedom." (Anthony Quainton, US Ambassador to Nicaragua, 1984).
‘Terrorism' has been used as ‘communism' was used before. The threat of an ‘evil empire' that wanted to export its ‘communism' has been replaced by the threat of ‘Islamic terrorism' (and ‘Islamic fascism') that does not like ‘our way of life and values' and wants to ‘destroy our democracy'. A militarised economy required scaring the hell out of the American people during the ‘Soviet threat' period.
Today, international terrorism is the drive and the excuse for the spending spree on armaments. Whether the enemy has been ‘communism', ‘rogue states', ‘Islamic fundamentalism', ‘drugs', or ‘terror', the ‘war on terror', wrote David Keen, "represents a new application of an old doctrine: the doctrine of endless war." (David Keen, Endless War, p.68) The objective, as Orwell put it, is ‘to keep the real structure of society intact' through creating a new enemy and diverting the masses from the class nature of conflicts.
Peter Singer's research, published in 2004, found that Bush used the term ‘evil' in 319 different speeches, in most cases as an adjective to describe an act (Singer, The President of Good and Evil, p.2). Similar to the function of witch-hunts in Britain, Germany and the New World (brilliantly depicted in Arthur Miller's The Crucible), the aim is not only to eliminate ‘evil', it is also to establish the ‘legitimate' ground for such activity. And similar to the mechanism of the witch-hunt, in the name of hunting down ‘evil', today's Orwellian prophesy ‘could have you punished for what you thought or intended or presumed to have intended, rather than what you have actually done'.
The ‘war on terror' has given licence to domestic repression in countries supporting this war. A few days ago an architect of Iraqi descent was forced to take off his T-shirt that bore the words ‘we will not be silenced' before boarding a flight at John F Kennedy airport. It is repeated again and again that the terrorists are against our democracy and freedoms, but couldn't we also argue that because of this hypocritical talk about these freedoms and values by ‘our leaders' while at the same time they wage one war after another, killing hundreds of thousands of people, intimidating and humiliating whole nations that has made these young people resentful and murderers.
Walter Wolfgang who heckled Jack Straw, the then British foreign secretary, over the war in Iraq was dragged out of the Labour Party conference (September 2005) under the powers of the anti-terrorist laws. Spanish former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar banned the Basque separatist party Batasuna though there was no proof that the latter was linked to the Madrid bombing.
In Israel, China, the USA, Britain, the Philippines, Pakistan, Columbia, Uzbekistan, Russia, not to speak of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, the ‘war on terror' has been an opportunity to crack down on dissidents, labelling activists as al-Qaeda sympathisers or just ‘terrorists' and pass new draconian laws that allow rounding up people without charge, discriminating against minorities, and attacking gains that the labour movement and human rights groups fought for decades ago.
"Attack from the air on September eleven
Kindled once more sweet vengeance's flame:
Never forgotten or ever forgiven,
Those uninvolved must carry the blame
Like prisoners of conscience, raised to new heights,
Few are made present by merit alone.
Confined to a cage, deprived any rights,
Laws are rewritten and oppression condoned."
Those are verses by Moazzam Begg, from ‘The Dagger's Hilt' composed in January 2004 in Guantánamo Bay. Begg, a British Muslim and former Guantánamo prisoner, observed that one of the quotes he heard people tell the guards a lot is "that they weren't terrorists before they came in, but they certainly will be when they leave." Indeed it is possible for an innocent person who has suffered torture to become more radicalised and look for vengeance, or even join a political or a religious group. Syyid Qutb, a known leader in the political Islam movement who later radicalised thousands of Muslims, had been himself radicalised because of the torture inflicted on him while he was in an Egyptian prison. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden's second in command, also suffered torture.
The defenders of the imperialist policies can be amazingly honest. Take Alan Dershowitz and Robert Cooper, for example. The Havard law professor Dershowitz believes that "we could easily wipe out international terrorism if we were not constrained by legal, moral, and humanitarian considerations." (Why Terrorism Works, 2002, p. 3) As for Cooper, Tony Blair's adviser, the reality that we should live with is that "the post-modern world [?] has to start to get used to double standards ... Among ourselves we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle." (Why we still need empiresThe Observer, 7 April 2002)
Let's suppose it is right for a country to attack another country if it fears it is about to be attacked. Is it not right, then, for Iraq [under Saddam], Iran and North Korea to attack the United States to pre-empt being attacked? Let's not forget that the argument given by Bush and Co. is that any country which harbours terrorists is itself terrorist and must be dealt with. It is known that Cuban exiles living in Miami operate freely and use terrorist attacks aiming at killing people in Cuba or overthrowing the Cuban regime. Has Cuba the right, then, to attack the US because the latter harbours terrorists, including a notorious one: Luis Posada Carriles?
How could one explain that while the flattening of Fallujah in Iraq and the killing of civilians by the occupying forces is not terrorism but the killing of passengers on the trains in Madrid and London are acts of terrorism?

Bin Laden's Allah vs Bush's God

"In great contests, each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for and against at the same time." Abraham Lincoln
It was Bin Laden who argued that Islam was everywhere under attack by the infidels and that every Muslim has a duty to embark on jihad in its defence. Opinion polls show that millions of Muslims now think America's real aim in Iraq was to grab its oil and help Israel or just wage a war on Islam. It was in 1996 when Bin Laden consistently made his case for attacking the US: the US military occupation of Saudi Arabia (the holy land), her support for the Israeli state in killing the Palestinians and the invasion of Iraq in 1991 and the bombing and the starving of its people through sanctions. "Our nation has been tasting this shame and degradation" for 80 years now, said Bin Laden.
9/11 saw thousands of innocent people killed in cold blood by an act of terrorism. Yet the impulse to retaliate has already shown us why a ‘war on terror' cannot be won. "Why would other people," asks David Kean, "not feel similar emotions and impulses when they are attacked, when their innocent people are bombed or shot in the name of somebody else's ‘justice'?"
In the words of Shylock, in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice,
"He hath disgraced me ... laughed at my losses ... scorned my nation, and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? ... If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" (The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1)
Bin Laden expressed this humiliation and disgrace clearly when he said: "Under what grace are your victims innocent and ours dust, and under which doctrine is your blood blood and our blood water?" (Guardian, 17 April 2004) It is the hypocrisy of the very same western rulers who preach human rights and violate their own preaching by torturing prisoners and putting them on the leash like dogs, by imprisoning people for 3 or 4 years in a Gulag-like prison (Amnesty International, 2006) without trial or charge or access to lawyers and, by bombing and maiming tens of thousands of people and freeing them from their bodies, by supporting the barbaric bombing of Lebanon by the Israeli state, by destroying what is left in a shattered Palestinian society and blockading and arresting democratically elected members of government...
Is it a war on Islam then, as many Muslims, and some non-Muslims, see it? William Dalrymple wrote in the New York Review of Books (December 2003): "While al-Qaeda has dominated the news since September 11, 2001 there are dozens of similar groups made up of freelance Islamic radicals trained since the 1980s in camps on the Afghan border. Many of these were run by the ISI [Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence] and funded initially by the CIA (one reliable estimate puts the US contribution at 7 billion dollars), and later, after the Soviet withdrawal, by Saudi intelligence."
The fact that the US sponsored and worked with the mujahidin prior and after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the fact that Saudi Arabia has been spared from any US retaliation when it has been found that most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi-born Muslims along with befriending the sheiks of the other Gulf states, the regime in Pakistan, etc., the fact that both the American and the British government have been working with what they call the ‘moderate' Muslims, the fact that since 1948 the US, through bombing and/or invading many countries has killed millions of people, which amount to a small percentage of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq if compared with the Vietnam war alone, and the fact that staunch foes of America in the Middle East were secular leaders, among them Sukarno, Nasser and Saddam Hussein, to name a few, proves that what the US and Britain really oppose are some old Muslim friends who could not serve their interests anymore.
The monopoly of religion to serve real hidden objectives is also used by the rulers. Religion is useful because ‘it breeds deterrence to the ruling class', says Leo Strauss. If Bush and Blair strongly believe that God are with them, and that he even talked to one of them, in their mission then why should terrorists not have faith that their particular version of Islam is right? Some American fundamentalists, the Jerry Falwells and the Pat Robertsons, saw September 11 as God's displeasure, ‘a punishment of the pagans', but they had to retract later to allow retaliation against the ‘evil enemy'. The USA is a country where Christian fundamentalism is strong and this is used to get many Americans to believe that their country - in reality their government - is on a divinely-inspired mission to save the world. What is common in the two types of fundamentalisms, the Christian-capitalist fundamentalism in the USA and the Islamic fundamentalism of the jihadis, and al-Qaeda militants in particular, is that both can make you believe absurdities and can make you commit atrocities.
It is obvious for any socialist or progressive person that the perpetrators of September 11th as well as many Islamic fundamentalists adhere to a reactionary doctrine that claims to embody the Truth, the Absolute Truth, and preaches and acts for the establishment of an obscurantist society governed by 1400 year-old laws. But to analyse the background and the nature of this movement isolated from the crisis of world capitalism is to misunderstand the real conflict of the two fundamentalisms and the confluent factors behind terrorism.
Michael Mann suggested that, "Jihadis ... alienate most people through extreme violence, as they did in the early 1990s in Algeria and Egypt. Islamism and jihadis were declining from the mid 1990s. But then the US actions began to revive them." (Michael Mann, Incoherent Empire, p. 116)
Osman Hussain, one of the suspects in the 21 July failed bombings is said to have been a notorious womaniser in his earlier days. Hussain told his Italian interrogators that he and his friends had watched hours of footage on the war on Iraq, "of women and children killed or wiped out by British and US soldiers, of weeping widows, mothers and children". Siddique Khan's video from the grave, reiterated nearly the same message, "Until you stop the bombing, gassing, and imprisonment," he declared "... we will not stop the fight."
In his study which included the biographies of 400 al-Qaeda members Marc Sageman, who helped run the Afghan war for the CIA, directly contradicted ‘the misconception ... that the typical al-Qaeda person is somebody who comes from a poor background, broken family, he's ignorant, immature young man, no skill, no family, job or responsibility, or weak mind that's vulnerable to brain washing.' In fact, Sageman found that three-fourths of the 400 "are from upper and middle-class background. The vast majority come from a caring, intact family. Sixty per cent have a college education. The average age at joining the organisation is 26. Three-fourths are professional or semi-professional. Three-fourths are married. The majority have children." (quoted in Lawrence Pintak, Reflections in a Bloodshed Lens - America, Islam & the War of Ideas, 2006, pp. 113-114)
Sageman's study found that 75 per cent of jihadis of al-Qaeda recruits "had joined outside the borders of their native land, most while studying abroad, while another 10 per cent had been born in the West of immigrant parents, like the London bombers." Sageman speaks of a group of people who had been alienated and had their hopes dashed.
This phenomenon of middle class young people forming or joining terrorist groups is not alien to the Western world. Social laws tell us that similar conditions produce similar phenomena. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Patriotic Council in the US, Baader Meinhof in West Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy, Timothy Mc Veigh (of the Oklahoma City bombing where some 160 people perished), and others were born in the West and used terrorist acts. “The system has made us kaput, we shall destroy the system,” was a slogan of the second generation of Baader (West Germany). Left wing groups, which engaged in terrorist activities, harmed the cause they were fighting for as well as alienating the working class. 
Trotsky wrote that terrorism, even if successful, would cause confusion among the ruling classes only for a short time. The capitalist system does not rest on a Prime Minister or a President and would not disappear with the elimination of one. "Methods of compulsion and terrorization," he wrote in 1920, "have up to now benefited and continue to benefit in an infinitely higher degree the cause of reaction ... than that of historical progress..." And to equal resistance movements struggling for independence or against occupiers, as the case with the Algerian resistance against the French, the Iraqi's against the American and British armies or Hizbu'llah's against Israel's occupation of Lebanon to individual terrorism that is unconnected to the mass movement of the people, is to play in the hands of the state.
The argument that the current conflict should be framed in a ‘clash of civilisation' has also been prevalent. In fact this is not a new argument. Long before Samuel Huntington, the ‘motto' ‘East is East, West is West and they will never meet' reflected, and still does, the imperialist vision of ‘them' and ‘Us'. As in society, the tactic of divide et impera is used in the world arena as well. In this respect, we don't think that the question is religious at all. "It is entirely wrong to pose the question in terms of Islam versus the West," explained Alan Woods. "This only divides and weakens the anti-war movement when what is necessary is to unite all the anti-imperialist forces in the world to fight this criminal occupation [of Iraq]." (Alan Woods, Editor of Marxist.com interviewed on Pakistan TV)
In Blair's view, the invasion of Iraq was about supporting Islam's moderates against its reactionaries and bolstering ‘democracy' against dictatorship. "Such argument," admits The Economist magazine, "no longer sell in the West, let alone in the Muslim world. If it was all about dictatorship, what about the dictatorship the West continues to embrace in Saudi Arabia, and the quasi-dictatorship in Pakistan?... By what right do you invade someone else's country in order to impose a pattern of government." (The Economist, 31 August 2006, my emphasis, N.M.) 
The reader is advised to take a look at the magazine's archive to find out the sheer hypocrisy in this rhetoric. The Economist staunchly supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq and hailed the elections there as a great step towards ‘democracy'. "Mr Bush has got the big foreign-policy decisions right ... on the evidence that presented itself at the time, he rightly decided to invade Iraq," stated The Economist in August 2004. If this is not imposing a pattern of government, we don't know what it is.
In practice the US strategy in the Middle East still follows the same pattern; it relies entirely on the ability of the pro-American dictatorships, in particular those in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to control the anger of their population. The so-called ‘moderate Muslim leaders', out of fear and greed, publicly wring their hands but collude with the US and offer their territory for bases (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, Kuwait and (some Muslim leaders in Britain) pay lip-service to Blair and Bush. Notably, no Muslim country has called for an oil embargo or a serious boycott of American and British companies. Some of them, with fundamentalist groups, did call for a boycott of Danish products against the publication of Muhammad cartoons, but not when ‘their lands' are occupied and their fellow Muslims killed by the thousands!

What has been achieved?

On the ground, the ‘war on terror' is endlessly supplying the terrorist groups, as well as the non-terrorist groups, with ‘new' recruits and new operations. "After the known terrorist leaders were arrested, time passed, and new, unknown terrorists emerged," as Richard Clark, a top US expert on terrorism, referring to The Battle of Algiers, noted. Meanwhile, the ruling classes exploit every new terrorist attack, and alleged plot, to prepare public opinion for more counter-attacks ‘to fight evil'. Thus one feeds the other and the circle of terror carries on ad infinitum. Studies have proved that state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism in Guatemala in the 1980s, in Colombia and Chechnya, to name a few, have actually strengthened the guerrillas, the FARC and the Islamic militants respectively. Bloody Sunday in Ireland drove hundreds of men and women to take up arms.
According to figures compiled by the U.S. military and published by The New York Times, 17 August 2006, and contrary to the reiterated lie that the everyday killings in Iraq are almost entirely sectarian where Muslims are killing their fellow Muslims, 70 per cent of the 1, 666 bombs exploded by the ‘insurgents' in July, for example, were directed against the American forces and 20 per cent against the puppet police force. Civilian casualties amounted to 2 per cent. The ‘insurgents' are using increasingly sophisticated weapons. In other words, unlike the killing perpetrated by the US army, such as the killing of several thousand people in Fallujah, the resistance is fighting basically a military war. The truth, as John Pilger commented, is suppressed, as it was in Vietnam.
The ‘war on terror' in Iraq has achieved nothing but ‘mass murder' on an ‘unimaginable scale'. American soldiers massacring an entire family in Haditha are, like those who carried out the torture in Abu Ghraib, described as ‘bad apples' working under ‘intense pressure', but Muslims involved in terrorism in the West are just a misguided generation, or ‘Muslim fascists'. No one, however, should dare explain the real roots of terrorism.
In Afghanistan suicide bomb attacks have become common. The British soldiers are facing a fierce Taliban resistance. British casualties are higher than ever since the invasion in late 2001. A British commander in Afghanistan spoke about "the most intense combat since Korea [!]." (BBC1, 10 O'clock News, 06 September 2006)
In an article entitled, "US has emerged as a loser in the Middle East" the Financial Times (20 August 2006) admits that "America's stance on the Lebanon war has had a wide range of negative consequences for America. It has driven Sunni and and Shia Arabs together in an anti-US front, at a time when potential US allies among Sunni Muslims were themselves worrying about the rise of Hizbollah and Iran. It has provoked and empowered the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, just as Washington is deploying more troops to Baghdad to try to quell the violence there.
"It has distracted attention from the Iranian nuclear issue, just as the United Nations Security Council was coming together to threaten sanctions on Tehran. It has destroyed whatever remaining hope there was for the US to be perceived as an honest broker between Israelis and Arabs in the search for peace in the Middle East. It has undermined US allies and democratic reformers in Arab states. It has also created a new crisis of confidence with America's European allies just when transatlantic relations were starting to improve."
As David Keen put it, "the context is of a long historical experience of colonialism and in institutionalised humiliation in Arab and Muslim countries. The colonial experience has shaped perceptions not just in the Middle East but also, for example, in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines." (David Keen, Endless War, 2006, p. 32) Furthermore, the imperialist encroachment with unresolved long sufferings of the Palestinians, the support of the dictatorships in the Arab and Muslim world along with Israel, the dislocation and social frustration caused by capitalism in those societies have fuelled anger, resentment and despair.
The ‘war on terror' has tended to deepen the double anger of most of the Muslim people in the world, "not only by increasing grievances at Western foreign policy but also by reinforcing domestic oppression in many countries around the world and by boosting discrimination". The Muslims in Britain now are the ‘enemy within' (Sunday Times, 13 August 2006, article available on Timesonline.co.uk), the miners were the ‘enemy within' under Thatcher!
The ‘war on terror' has not only been counter-productive on a big scale, it has also shifted the already meagre resources for social needs to tackle ‘terrorism'. The defence budget of the USA amounts to $500 billion a year. This drain of resources is deepening the deficit and exposing the depth of class division in the supposedly richest country on earth more than ever (the New Orleans disaster, for instance). Today the richest 1 per cent in the USA own more than 38 per cent of the national wealth. In 2001, 9 million people in the country were classified by the department of agriculture as experiencing ‘real hunger'. As summed up by Michael Moore, "Perhaps the biggest success in the War on Terror has been its ability to distract the nation from the Corporate War on Us." (Fahrenheit 9/11, 2004) 
Who has been paying the bill to finance this war? Extensive further increases in federal spending, tax cuts, but not for the rich, squeezing more surplus from the American working class, and assistance from countries like Saudi Arabia and the hope to stabilise Iraq, which is unlikely to materialise in the near future. The massive fiscal deficit has also made the United Sates dependent on continued flows of capital and cheap commodities from East Asia in particular (mainly China). This current situation will continue to determine, to a great extent, the US's foreign policy for the coming years.
The more the ruling class feels its economic power threatened, the society unstable, and that power might slip from its hands, the more it resorts to violence. And since foreign policy is the continuation of domestic policy by other means, whether it is Bush's and Blair's or others', will not make a difference in pursuing a policy of war of terror, plunder, and subjugation. Creating an atmosphere of fear serves this greed of this ferocious class. As depicted by Aleksei Tolstoi, ‘death rays' are used to destroy the moon, among other targets, not because the moon is thought to be of great strategic importance but its destruction would occasion a great panic from which capitalist speculators would benefit.
The US today is like ‘a baby with a bomb', observed Neil Young, the Canadian singer. Her might is at the same time her weakness as has been demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Capitalism and the ‘war on terror' not only help to sustain one another but they have this in common: they worship success but are nourished by failure." (Keen, p.199)
The myth that the 9/11 attacks have changed history is like Fukuyama's myth that history has ended because ‘democracy' is the ultimate end for the whole world. In fact history, though it knows all kinds of transformations as Lenin said, carries on, but with a vengeance. The 9/11 atrocity, incomparable with the imperialist atrocities in the last 50 years alone, has only added a new volume in the bloody history of the ruling classes of the so-called civilised world; it has turned more people than ever before against another kind of terrorism: the terrorism of the ‘free market' that starves millions of people and keeps half of the world on the brink of starvation.
In the midst of this anarchy that has made the world less safe, it seems that the right wing media (notably that quoted above, the Financial Times and The Economist) have taken a different stance towards the way things should have been done. In fact, what the defenders of the system want is to save their class from going too far in its madness; to dupe the masses by putting the blame on this or that head of state; to make people believe that there have been mistakes made, but now we have to move on and not to repeat them.
In the midst of this anarchy, the five years that followed September 11th also experienced the biggest anti-war movement, a shift to the left in Latin America, a beginning of a surge in the labour movement in Europe, which has started to have its contagious effects in the US itself. From the womb of such a movement, the alternative to capitalism, terrorism and imperialism is emerging.

Friday, September 01, 2006

PTUDC - Lebanon Conf. - September 11

Interview with a representative from Pakistan Trade Union Campaign in Pakistan about the ban of the Sindh Teachers' Union, the protests against the ban and the Musharef regime.

Coverage of a Conference on Lebanon organised by The British Muslim Initiative (BMI) and the Lebanese Muslim League (LML), School of Oriental and African Studies, London. The confernce covers the humanitarian, environmental and health crisis and the Media and politics of the current situation in Lebanon. >> Terry Waite (former hostage in Lebanon) >>

September 11 terrorist attacks, the "Hidden Functions of the 'War on Terror'".

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hamas - Eyewitness Lebanese journalist

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104
or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)

  • "The U.S. views Hamas as a terrorist organisation. Yet, to the great surprise of many, Hamas swept to victory in the 2006 Palestinian Authority elections. Hamas is now a democractically elected political party." Khaled Hroub is a Palestinian, born into a refugee camp in Bethlehem, and now part of the diaspora of educated intellectuals. Joins Middle East Panorama to give A Beginner's Guide to Hamas. Hroub is currently director of the Arab Media Project at Cambridge University, hosts a weekly book review programme for Al-Jazeera TV, and has written three previous books. The show was featured in the Independent newspaper (UK), 25 August 2006 ("Another of Nadim Mahjoub's takes on life in the Middle East. Here, he interviews Khaled Hrub about his new book, 'Hamas - A Beginner's Guide'.) >> Listen here
  • Lebanon: Omar Nachabe, senior journalist of Beirut newspaper Al-Akhbar and eyewitness to Israeli attack in southern Lebanon. A public meeting at Friends Meeting House, London.
  • "As Israelis and Arabs continue their debate over who won and lost in Lebanon, one outcome already seems clear: America lost. Washington’s decision to back Israel’s military campaign unconditionally and refusal actively to seek an early ceasefire may have had some marginal benefits for the US, such as the destruction of some of Hizbollah’s military capability. But in the broader scheme of things, Washington’s support of this war and tolerance for the way it was fought have been a disaster.
    America’s stance on the Lebanon war has had a wide range of negative consequences for America. It has driven Sunni and and Shia Arabs together in an anti-US front, at a time when potential US allies among Sunni Muslims were themselves worrying about the rise of Hizbollah and Iran. It has provoked and empowered the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, just as Washington is deploying more troops to Baghdad to try to quell the violence there. It has distracted attention from the Iranian nuclear issue, just as the United Nations Security Council was coming together to threaten sanctions on Tehran. It has destroyed whatever remaining hope there was for the US to be perceived as an honest broker between Israelis and Arabs in the search for peace in the Middle East. It has undermined US allies and democratic reformers in Arab states. It has also created a new crisis of confidence with America’s European allies just when transatlantic relations were starting to improve." (Financial Times, 20 August 2006)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mai Ghoussoub - Bahrain - Writers on Tour

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104
or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)
  • Mai Ghoussoub on "music as a healing element, as a universal language in time of war." Mai is from Freemuse - the World Forum on Music and Censorship. Mai is a Lebanese artist living in the UK and she is the founder of London's Alsaqi Books. >> Listen here
  • Bahrain: This small island in the Persian Gulf in unknown to many people. Rauf, a Bahraini, from Bahrain Freedom Movement joins MIddle East Panorama to reveal a hidden side of the Kingdom. The officla spokesman for the National Committee for Martyrs and Victims of Torture and the General Secretary of the Movement of Liberties and Democracy in Bahrain join Middle East Panorama to reveal a hidden side Bahrain. >> Listen here
  • From the heart of the Arab world four young writers on tour. Through performance-readings and live discussions, poets Joumana Haddad from Lebanon and Abed Ismael from Syria together with fiction writers Ala Hlehel from Palestine and Mansoura Ez-Eldin from Egypt, will be offering an entirely fresh perspective on daily life in the Arab world on the Banipal Live August tour through the UK. The publisher and editor of Banipal magazine speaks about the event.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ishmahil Blagrove

  • "Whether the Western world wishes to acknowledge them or not, Hezbollah and Hamas are resistance movements, no different to that of the French resistance," says Ishmahil Blagrove. While the American historian Howard Zinn argues that "Terrorism' is used the way 'communism' was used all through the Cold War," Ishmahil Blagrove argues that "The so-called 'Red Scare', or threat of Communism, has conveniently been replaced by the irrational fear of Islam. Muslims have now become enemy No.1." >> Listen

Friday, July 28, 2006

Roni Ben Efrat - Arthur Neslen

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104 or http://www.resonancefm.com/ Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)

  • Interview with Zeina Abou Al-Hosn, a Lebanese living in London. Zeina works at a production company called Out There News and trying to make some radio/video stories from Lebanon and the area to make up for the lack of coverage in the news.
  • Interview with Roni Ben Efrat from the Organisation for Democratic Action, Tel Aviv, Israel. Ben Efrat argues that "When Israel seeks to effect political changes, it relies on military might. The logic of force has always been the central factor in determining its policy." Ben Efrat speaks of two hidden strategic goals of two Israeli withdrawals: south Lebanon in May 2000 and Gaza in August 2005. >> Listen
  • Sounds from the 22 July demo in London.
  • Interview with two evacuees who arrived in the UK from Beirut, via Cyprus, on 20 July 2006. Middle East Panorama met them in a Lebanese restaurant in London.
  • Arthur Neslen, author of 'Occupied Minds - A Journey through the Israeli Psyche' (Pluto Books, March 2006) talks about his newly published book. Neslen was until recently the London correspondent for Aljazeera.net and the website's only Jewish journalist. For five years he was Red Pepper Magazine's international editor and between 2001 and 2004, he worked as a broadcast journalist at the BBC. He has also written for publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, the New Statesman and Private Eye. >> Listen to the interview here

Friday, July 21, 2006

Starry Night - Yossi Schwartz - Eurabia

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104
or http://www.resonancefm.com/
Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)

  • Starry Night by Mazen Kerbaj, a musican, a comic and blogger from Beirut.
  • Israel-Gaza- Lebanon and beyond: The ReaL Aim. Interview with Yossi Schwartz from Haifa. Listen here
  • Eurabian Nightmare by Matt Carr, journalist and author of the forthcoming Unknown Soldiers: How Terrorism Transformed the Modern World. Matt Carr is one of the first thinkers to explore and explode the myths underpinning the dangerous concept of Eurabia - being popularised by a range of authors including Melanie Phillips (in Britain) and Oriana Fallaci (in Italy). The speech derives from an article on Eurabia in the current issue of Race & Class (vol. 48, issue 1, July 2006). To order click here >> Listen to the speech

Friday, July 14, 2006

Endless War? Iraq Freedom Congress

Middle East Panorama radio show on Resonance FM 104 or http://www.resonancefm.com/ Every Friday 14.00 - 15.00 London time (GMT)

  • "Endless War? Hidden Functions of the 'War on Terror'" (Pluto Books 2006) by David Keen. A Live interview. David Keen explores how winning war is rarely an end in itself; rather, war tends to be part of a wider political and economic game that is consistent with strengthening the enemy. Keen devises a radical framework for analysing an unending war project, where the "war on terror" is an extension of the Cold War. >> Listen
  • “There is a different and progressive voice and a promising alternative to both the US occupation and political Islam in Iraq” says Samir Adil a co-founder and the president of The Iraq Freedom Congress - IFC. >> Listen
  • Iraqi Tradional Music Revisited in a War Era.

Beijing was particularly alarmed by an “indigenisation” law effectively seizing majority control of foreign-owned businesses and companies,...