Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egypt : Four Good Reasons why Obama should be backing El Baradei and the Protesters and dropping Mubarak's dictatorship

Obama is risking making the same mistake Carter did during the Iranian revolution in 1979 by continuing to back Mubarak’s dictatorship in Egypt to keep right wing members of his own party and the Republican opposition happy. This ensured the transition was chaotic, allowing Khomeini and extreme fundamentalists to crush the liberals and socialists among the opponents of the Shah’s dictatorship. To minimise the chances of the same happening in Egypt, Obama should tell Mubarak, his NDP party and the Egyptian military to stand down and allow a National Unity government , as demanded by Egyptian protest leader and former IAEA head Mohamed El Baradei , allowing a peaceful transition to democracy. He should also tell Egypt’s  government and military they won’t get a penny more in military aid  till this happens. As El Baradei says US government “life support to the dictator” must end (1).

El Baradei, the protest leader in Egypt, could not be more different from Ayatollah Khomeini, the senior protest leader in Iran in 1979. He is no Islamic fundamentalist and no potential dictator or theocrat.

There is no guarantee what the new government in Egypt will be, whatever Obama does, because Mubarak’s time is running out just as the Shah’s was in 1979. So Obama would be better dropping him to get some influence with the new government – and help ensure the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t freeze out other opposition groups entirely - than alienating opposition groups who may soon be the new government.

Even if the Muslim Brotherhood come to power through elections – like the AKP Islamic government in Turkey and Hamas in Gaza – these precedents suggest they will not be as extreme as the Taliban, nor are they likely to support Al Qa’ida. They will fight them instead, as Hamas do in order to avoid giving the US any excuse to target them. Zawahiri and most armed jihadists or terrorists hate Islamic political parties like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that seek political power through the ballot box – and are in turn hated by them.

Every expert on jihadist terrorist groups like Al Qa'ida - like Fawaz A. Gerges, has found that torturing dictatorships churn out recruits for them them like factories

Many people are claiming Obama and the US government face a dilemma on Egypt – that if they don’t keep backing Mubarak’s dictatorship the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood could take power and form a government hostile to the US, or even friendly to Al Qa’ida. The same people have tried to re-write history to claim the Shah was overthrown in 1979 due to Carter not backing his dictatorship strongly enough.

The last Shah (king or emperor) of Iran - dictator of Iran from 1953 to 1979 - US President Carter's administration backed him to the last moment against a revolution involving socialists, liberals and Islamic fundamentalists which was hijacked by Ayatollah Khomeini and the fundamentalists

What we know about Egypt today and the similarities with (and differences from) the events of the 1979 Iranian revolution show that Obama faces no such dilemma though – because backing the dictatorship is even more likely to allow a more extreme Muslim Brotherhood government to come to power.

In 1979 Carter continued to support the Shah’s dictatorship and urge him not to step down or go into exile even after the Iranian army and SAVAK secret police had shot hundreds of unarmed protesters dead and dragged thousands away to torture.  Soon the Iranian army couldn’t stomach facing killing thousands of their own people; and as the demonstrations grew bigger and bigger the military refused to fire on the demonstrators and some began to join them. Carter’s adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski favoured moving from a civilian fronted monarchical dictatorship to a military government, but was over-ruled. His plan was irrelevant anyway as the majority of the military weren’t willing to kill for the Shah anymore (Brzezinski has improved with age and experience – now calling for negotiations with Hamas). The Shah fled into exile and in the chaos Khomeini and the Islamic fundamentalists among the revolutionaries were able to eliminate the socialists, liberals and others (2) – (3).

The strategy of backing a dictatorship did not prevent an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy hostile to the US and Israel, but created one. This was due both to decades of US backed torture and killings by the Shah’s dictatorship and due to Carter’s decision to back it to the last rather than help encourage an orderly transition to democracy and support the more democratic elements of the opposition.

There is a situation in Egypt today which is similar in some ways but very different in others.

Demonstrators fill Tahrir Square in Cairo

The pro-democracy demonstrations were begun by (mostly secular or moderate Muslim) students and trade unionists, are backed by liberals like former UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamed El Baradei and according to Amnesty and International ‘‘This was a protest that crossed class, ideology and religion, and that is what scares the government.’(4) The Muslim Brotherhood have since joined the protests, but are not leading them. So while, as in Iran in 1979, the opposition includes Muslim fundamentalists along with socialists and liberals, the balance of power among them is different.

Photo: Demonstrators and Egyptian soldiers smile at one another - from the Sunday Herald

Human Rights Watch’s were reporting as of yesterday at least 83 people killed so far in Egypt, mostly by soldiers and both uniformed and plain clothes police shooting them with live ammunition or rubber bullets.

They “confirmed at least 33 dead in Alexandria and heard plausible reports of at least 50 to 70 dead at a single morgue in Cairo.” (5)

Reuters similarly reports over 100 dead and 2,000 injured, based mostly on Egyptian doctors and hospitals’ reports (6).

Amnesty International reports over a thousand protesters have been beaten and dragged away by police to join the many prisoners the dictatorship had already jailed (7)

According to a 2004 Human Rights Watch report and Amnesty International’s 2010 annual report on Egypt, adults and children arrested in Egypt are often tortured by methods including “beatings with fists…batons… sticks…and electric cables…suspension in…painful positions…electric shocks” and “sexual intimidation and violence” including sexual abuse of children. Many victims of torture are beaten to death (8) – (9). No wonder the Egyptian people won’t tolerate a government that does this to them and their children. How can the US government justify continuing to support it?

There are conflicting reports about whether “looters” and killers are “thieves” and “Muslim brotherhood” or plain clothes (and fancy dress) secret police (10).  Many Egyptians suspect the latter . Police have certainly done nothing to stop the looters – with ordinary Egyptians organising to defend themselves from them - which makes it likely the dictatorship hope allowing chaos will let them dishonestly pose as the only thing preventing chaos (11).

 The Algerian military have a longstanding practice of dressing up as Islamic fundamentalists, complete with fake beards, to carry out massacres of civilians and blame them on Islamic fundamentalist groups in order to allow their dictatorship to pose as defending the people against Islamic fundamentalists. (though some massacres were also carried out by fundamentalist terrorist groups) (12)

The soldiers and police responsible for the killings in Egypt are heavily funded and armed by the US government. The Obama administration has so far provided Mubarak’s dictatorship with $1.3bn a year of military aid (a 25% increase on the amount provided by the Bush administration), plus arms sales  (13) – (14).

The US government initially provided statements of support for the dictatorship even after the shooting had begun. Though some of it’s statements have been more critical since, they have stopped well short of calling for Mubarak and his NDP party to stand down and allow a peaceful transition to democracy.

US Secretary of State (i.e foreign minister) Hillary Clinton on Thursday described Mubarak’s regime asstable” and said that it was attempting to meet the legitimate needs of it’s people – claims met with well deserved scorn by El Baradei (15).

US Vice President  Joe Biden double standard has lead him to claim that Mubarak, as “ a good friend and ally of the United States” is not a dictator, even though he is having his own people shot dead for protesting democracy, has rigged elections, banned opposition parties and jailed the Presidential candidates even of those parties he hasn’t banned – plus jailing thousands of people without fair trial and tortured them (16) – (17).

The marginally tougher line taken from Friday the 28th on rapidly became vague and self-contradictory. This may be due to splits in the Obama administration, or might be an attempt to send mixed messages in the hope of satisfying both supporters and opponents of backing Mubarak in the US.

US officials first said they were “reviewing” (not suspending) military aid to Egypt – and that the future of it would depend on Mubarak “addressing the legitimate needs of the Egyptian people” and on the behaviour of his government and the Egyptian military. Clinton then  reversed this – saying there isno discussion as of this time about cutting off any aid”  to Egypt, adding “we always are looking at and reviewing our aid” (18) – (19).

(This echoes the US administration’s and the EU’s dissembling on the 2009 military coup in Honduras  , which they responded to by allowing it (despite having US troops and bases in the country)  and by recognising sham elections taking place under conditions of opponents of the coup makers being tortured and killed  and a boycott by the elected government’s supporters.)

British Foreign Minister William Hague has parroted Clinton almost word for word on Egypt, with the same lack of any call on the dictator to stand down and the same call on the dictatorship and the people to both avoid violence – as though the unarmed pro-democracy protesters fighting back against armed police with armoured cars are equally to blame for it (20) – (21).

Israel’s government, as usual hypocritically condemning dictatorship in Arab countries while simultaneously allying with the dictators, has made statements supportive of Mubarak, saying it’s confident his government will weather the storm (22).

Calls from the US  and UK governments to address the “legitimate needs of the Egyptian people” are too vague – and calls to avoidviolence or provocations that could cause violence” are fence-sitting between the dictatorship and the people. The vast majority of violence by the protesters has been by the dictator’s police firing on or dragging away unarmed demonstrators (23).

Photo: Mohamed El Baradei makes a speech to protesters in Tahrir Square

The main protest leader Mohamed El Baradei couldn’t be more different from the 1979 Iranian revolution’s main spokesman Ayatollah Khomeini. He is no Islamic fundamentalist, nor a potential dictator or theocrat. El Baradei is a well educated Egyptian and Nobel peace prize winner who lost his position as UN IAEA nuclear watchdog head after the Obama administration succeeded where Bush had failed in having him replaced because of his refusal to do US governments’ bidding in hyping Iraq’s non-existent nuclear programme in 2002-2003, or in exaggerating Iran’s nuclear programme (24) – (28) . This will not have won him many friends at the top levels of either main party in the US – whose government under Bush tapped his phone to try to get ammunition against him (29). His criticism of the Iraq war and of  the Bush and Obama administration’s for backing dictatorships like Mubarak’s won’t have won him many either (30). (Baradei’s successor as IAEA head has assured US officials he’ll do as the US government tells him (31) – (33) However Baradei publicly praised Obama’s change of policy on Iran compared to Bush – and the neo-cons of the Bush administration are no friends of Obama, so he personally and politically may not be entirely hostile to Baradei (34). His high international profile makes it more difficult for Mubarak to jail or kill Baradei and boosts the protesters’ media profile. He’s also a very eloquent spokesman.

As Baradei has saidThe American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years would be the one to implement democracy. This is a farce.” (35)

Bush spent 8 years telling us Mubarak was implementing reforms and moving towards democracy. It never happened (36). It won’t happen under Mubarak or his cronies now either.

Fence sitting by the Obama administration on Egypt is due to the right of the Republican and Democratic parties (along with the ever present Israel lobby) criticising them for supposedlytaking the side of the demonstrators” and risking a US and Israeli allied government  being replaced by a neutral or hostile Muslim Brotherhood one (37).

A peaceful, orderly transition would give the best chance for a multi-party democracy, which would be a much better result for everyone than an Islamic revolution – but that peaceful transition is unlikely unless Mubarak is persuaded to stand down and go into exile.

Islamic Parties in government (and in opposition) are enemies of Al Qa’ida and other Jihadist terrorists, not their friends –including the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

In Turkey the AKP Islamic party (‘Justice and Peace’ party) led by Prime Minister Tacip Erdogan has been much more moderate than the extreme nationalist military dictators who preceded it. It has not meekly deferred to the US or stayed allied with Israel on foreign policy – refusing to allow US troops to invade Iraq from it’s territory in 2003 and clashing with Israel over the Israeli military attack on the civilian Gaza aid flotilla, but neither has it been actively hostile to either – and only placed restrictions on trade with Israel after the attack on it’s citizens in the Gaza flotilla. The AKP has certainly not had any links to Al Qa’ida or similar groups – instead jailing Al Qa’ida members for bombings of the British consulate and banks in Turkey (38).

According to experts, such as Fawaz A. Gerges and  Loretta Napoleoni, Islamic parties in the Middle East are frequently targeted by armed jihadist groups as “collaborators” for taking part in elections and hate one another. In fact Gerges found that Zawahiri (Bin Laden’s Egyptian deputy in Al Qai’da) hates and despises the Muslim Brotherhood for trying to get power through peaceful political campaigns (39) – (40). Hamas in Gaza, far from allying with Al Qa’ida or other international Jihadist groups have fought and killed Al Qa’ida linked groups and anyone allied to them in order to ensure the Israeli government cannot tar them with the Al Qa’ida brush (41).

So it’s quite possible that even if the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Egypt through elections (As opposed to taking power by force) that it would be considerably more moderate than the Taliban and no ally of Al Qa’ida.

Allowing them to take part in elections is likely to make them more moderate by strengthening the hand of those who prefer the peaceful political route and weakening that of those who say force is the only thing that can succeed. Banning them from participating in elections will increase recruitment to armed jihadist and terrorist groups.

There is no way to know what the results of democratic elections would be – but that is the whole point of democracy - to let the people of a country decide their own government. The Muslim Brotherhood would certainly get a significant number of votes and seats, but whether they would be the sole governing party, part of a coalition government, or the main opposition party can’t be known. While we can hope the Muslim Brotherhood don’t win elections, no-one has any right to tell the Egyptian people who they can or can’t vote for.

Once again, backing the dictatorship will not guarantee the Muslim Brotherhood will be excluded from power either. It makes it more likely that when the regime does fall it will do so in chaos that could allow the Brotherhood to seize power by force rather than a National Unity government allowing a transition  to democracy, as proposed by El Baradei.

This is not about getting Mubarak or else an Egyptian Taliban

We should also be sceptical of our governments using the excuse that they have to back dictatorships for fear of Islamic fundamentalists, given that they arm and support the Saudi dictatorship, who, even according to Clinton’s private admissions, provide the largest haven for funders of terrorism in the world; whose religious police force schoolgirls back into burning buildings to die rather than allow others to see them “improperly dressed”; and whose government backed the Taliban (42) – (44). The US government also continues to arm and fund Pakistan’s military, who have always funded and trained jihadist terrorist groups in India, Kashmir, Afghanistan – and in Pakistan itself, to intimidate the military’s secular civilian and moderate Muslim rivals for control of Pakistan’s government, public funds and foreign aid (45).

As El Baradei has saidThis is what the regime ... sold to the West and to the U.S.: 'It's either us, repression or al Qaeda-type Islamists.” (46). The reality is that is not the only choice – and even if it was, it would be the choice of Egyptians. No-one else has the right to deny them the same democratic rights and freedoms they enjoy, to tell them they and their children must accept a corrupt government that tortures, kills and even rapes them and their children.

Time for the US government to stand for the freedom and democracy it claims to support

As El Baradei saysWhen you see today almost over 100,000 young people getting desperate, going to the streets, asking for their basic freedom, I expected to hear from secretary Clinton stuff like 'democracy, human rights, basic freedom' – all the stuff the US is standing for” (47)



(1) = Reuters 30 Jan 2011 ‘ElBaradei urges U.S. to abandon Mubarak’,

(2) = Lawrence Freedman (2008) ‘A Choice of Enemies’, Weidenfield & Nicolson, London, 2008, Chapter 4, especially pages 64 - 72

(3) = Kenneth M. Pollack ‘The Persian Puzzle’, Random House, New York, 2005, chapters 4 – 6

(4) = Amnesty USA 27 Jan 2011 ‘Egyptian Protests Day 3: Next Steps’,

(5) = Human Rights Watch 29 Jan 2011 ‘Egypt: End Use of Live Fire at Peaceful Protests’,

(6) = Reuters 29 Jan 2011 ‘Death toll in Egypt's protests tops 100: sources’,

(7) = Amnesty International 28 Jan 2011 ‘Egyptian authorities urged to rein in security forces’,

(8) = Human Rights Watch 25 Feb 2004 ‘Egypt’s Torture Epidemic’,

(9) = Amnesty International World Report 2010 – Country Report – Egypt, and

(10) = See (3) above

(11) = Al Jazeera 29 Jan 2011 ‘Looting spreads in Egyptian cities’,

(12) = Justice Commission for Algeria Nov 2004 ‘The Massacres in Algeria 1992-2004’,

(13) = Washington Post 09 May 2009 ‘Obama Picks Egypt as Speech Venue’,

(14) = Christian Science Monitor ‘$50 billion later, taking stock of US aid to Egypt’, = 27 Jan 2011 ‘Egypt braces itself for biggest day of protests yet’,

(16) = Christian Science Monitor ‘Joe Biden says Egypt's Mubarak no dictator, he shouldn't step down...’,

(17) = Go to the web page linked below and see sources (28) to (34) on it,

(18) = Guardian 29 Jan 2011 ‘White House warns $1.5bn aid to Egypt could be withdrawn’,

(19) = BBC News 30 Jan 2011 ‘Egypt protests: Hillary Clinton urges 'orderly transition’,

(20) = BBC News 27 Jan 2011 ‘Hague: Egyptian protests 'legitimate'’,

(21) = BBC News 29 Jan 2011 ‘Foreign Office warns against travel to parts of Egypt’,

(22) = Time 28 Jan 2011 ‘Israel Has Faith Mubarak Will Prevail’,,8599,2044929,00.html

(23) = See (19) above

(24) = 07 Oct 2005 ‘UN nuclear watchdog wins Nobel peace prize’,

(25) = Guardian 15 Sep 2006 ‘IAEA says Congress report on Iran's nuclear capacity is erroneous and misleading’,

(26) = Reuters 19 Sep 2007 ‘Rice swipes at IAEA, urges bold action on Iran’,

(27) = 30 sep 2009 'No credible evidence' of Iranian nuclear weapons, says UN inspector’,

(28) = 31 Mar 2010 ‘Cautious reports on Tehran nuclear programme 'were framed to avoid war',

(29) = Washington Post 12 Dec 2004 ‘IAEA Leader's Phone Tapped - U.S. Pores Over Transcripts to Try to Oust Nuclear Chief’,

(30) = 31 Mar 2010 ‘Mohamed ElBaradei hits out at west's support for repressive regimes’,

(31) = 30 Nov 2010 ‘Julian Borger : Nuclear Wikileaks: Cables show cosy US relationship with IAEA chief’,

(32) = 02 Dec 2010 ‘US embassy cables: New nuclear chief a 'once-a-decade' chance to shake up UN bureacracy’,

(33) = 02 Dec 2010 ‘US embassy cables: UN nuclear chief promises to take a low-profile role on Iran’,

(34) = Washington Post 01 Feb 2009 ‘A Conversation with Mohamed ElBaradei’

(35) = Reuters 30 Jan 2011 ‘ElBaradei urges U.S. to abandon Mubarak’,

(36) = See the page linked below under Sub- heading ‘Mubarak and Son – a Family Dictatorship’ and sources 28 – 42 on it,

(37) = The Daily Beast ‘Obama's Risky Path in Egypt’,

(38) = Guardian 17 Jan 2007 ‘Turkey jails al-Qaida cell for consulate bomb’,

(39) = Fawaz A Gerges (2005) ‘The Far Enemy – Why Jihad Went Global’, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2005, pages 9 -10 (on torture and dictatorship radicalising people into terrorists and jihadists), pages 110- 116 – on Jihadist/terrorist groups and Islamic fundamentalist political parties hating and despising one another (and Bin Laden’s deputy Zawahiri hating the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood); pages 93 -4 on torture of Zawahiri by Egyptian dictatorship leading him to join Al Qa’ida to build organisation to take revenge

(40) = Loretta Napoleoni (2005) ‘Insurgent Iraq’ Constable & Robinson, London, 2005, Chapter 3 (pages 61 – 62 of paperback edition)

(41) = Observer 16 Aug 2009 ‘Hamas destroys al-Qaida group in violent Gaza battle’,

(42) = 05 Dec 2010 ‘WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists’,

(43) = BBC News 15 Mar 2002 ‘Saudi police 'stopped' fire rescue’,

(44) = Rashid , Ahmed(2001) Taliban Tauris, London ,2001

(45) = See post linked below and sources for it,

(46) = Reuters 30 Jan 2011 ‘ElBaradei urges U.S. to abandon Mubarak’,

(47) = 27 Jan 2011 ‘Egypt braces itself for biggest day of protests yet’,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Time for the US and European governments to stop backing dictators and occupations in the Arab world and start supporting democracy

The media coverage of the leaked ‘Palestinian papers’ – messages sent between the Israeli government and the Fatah government in the West Bank under President Abbas – and of the demonstrations across dictatorships across the Arab world from Tunisia to Egypt and Yemen, is missing the context and the key facts. The context is that the US and European governments continue their shameful support for dictatorships and appointed governments and undermine democracy across the Arab world from the West Bank and Gaza to Egypt, Saudi, Tunisia, Jordan and Libya. The fear mongering about Islamists is just a cover story – Islamic political parties are not Al Qa’ida and are often, as in Turkey, more moderate than some extreme secular nationalists. It’s time to tell our governments to back the people of the Arab world, not the dictators.

One of the big myths on Israel and the Palestinians is that Abbas and his Fatah party (the largest in the PLO) are the legitimate, elected Palestinian government, while Hamas seized power by force in Gaza.

The reality is that after EU and other election observers found Hamas won free and fair parliamentary elections in 2006, the US, Israeli and Egyptian governments refused to recognise or negotiate with them and imposing sanctions on the whole of the Palestinian Authority - pushing Hamas and Fatah into civil war - and when Hamas ended this by offering to share power with Fatah despite Fatah having lost the elections, still refusing to lift sanctions on the whole of the PA.

above - Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, elected Palestinian President in 2005

This led to renewed civil war as the US, Egyptian and Israeli governments backed a military coup attempt by Fatah's armed wing, which failed in Gaza, but succeeded in the West Bank.

Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah (elected President in 2005) then went far beyond his constitutional powers to appoint his own (completely unconstitutional and unelected) Prime Minister (Salaam Fayyad) and Cabinet, ignoring the elected PM Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

While Gaza is under blockade new elections there would be irrelevant - especially while Israel and the US and EU continue to refuse to recognise the results of past elections, which means if new elections don't go the way they want they'll ignore those too.

Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas - elected Palestinian Prime Minister in 2006

There will be no peace until the results of democratic Palestinian elections are respected and Hamas are included in negotiations.

Israelis have elected a string of war criminals - the worst being Ariel Sharon - but no-one places sanctions on Israel and demands they reverse the results of elections as a result.

The constant claims that Hamas aims to destroy Israel are as untrue as they are ludicrous given the respective military strengths of the former and the latter (Hamas has no nuclear weapons, nor US supplied advanced artillery, tanks, jet fighter bombers or

The claims that Hamas has refused to negotiate with Israel or to consider recognising it’s existence are also lies – they have offered to do so repeatedly – and many Israelis, from former heads of Shin Bet military intelligence and Mossad to former foreign ministers have said for years that negotiations should begin without any preconditions.

Abbas and Fatah know they will lose any elections in any case, due to their corruption and their decision to collaborate with the Israeli government against their own people. Leaked documents show they had asked Israel to make military attacks on Hamas in Gaza, asked the Israeli and Egyptian governments to tighten the blockade on Gaza (punishing not just Hamas but the whole population of Gaza); helped stall a UN report on Israeli war crimes in the Gaza war at the request of the US government;  and asked Israel to assassinate members of Fatah’s own armed wing. This just adds to Fatah’s long history of torturing and jailing it’s own people in alliance with the Israelis.

Children search for food in a rubbish dump in Gaza

No wonder Fatah sent some hirelings to attack Al Jazeera’s offices in the West Bank for publishing the leaked documents.

Far from supporting democracy for Palestinians, President Obama’s administration threatened to end US aid to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank if anyone but Abbas is elected President - leading Abbas to cancel elections in the West Bank despite his term having ended in January 2009. New legislative elections should have been held in 2010, but are just as unlikely as long as the blockade of Gaza continues.

This is nothing unusual. The US and various EU governments are hostile to democratically elected governments across the Arab world, because, from the empires established by the French and British between World War One and World War Two on, dictators have always served the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful in the “developed” world. Palestinian American historian Rashid Khalidi’s book ‘Resurrecting Empire’ is very informative on the continuation of these policies from 19th century European empires to the present US led ‘war on terror’. ( To read more about the truth about the war on terror from Iraq and Iran to Somalia go here).

 While democracies want annoying things, like a decent standard of living and enough food for all their people, dictatorships will happily sell their people out for a share of the spoils.

That’s why the Obama administration continues to give massive military aid, training for police and militaries and political support for the corrupt, torturing, murdering, dictatorships across the Arab world from Saudi and Egypt to Libya, the same way the Bush administration did before them. As long as that continues Obama’s much hyped Cairo speech is so much hypocritical hot air.

Protests against the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt

It’s why, as Egyptians are currently being shot dead by Egyptian police and soldiers for demonstrating and demanding Mubarak’s dictatorship is ended, the US government has funded the arming and training of the people killing them – and President Obama – who condemned this kind of “brutal repression” when the Iranian government was responsible, has vaguely pontificated about how both Mubarak and his people should avoid “violence” as “violence in not the answer”.

It's why US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, rather than backing the protesters for democracy, has claimed the Mubarak regime is "stable" (stability being the usual codeword for a client dictatorship "doing what the US government tells it to do) and that it shooting several people dead and jailing a thousand counts, for her government, as “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”.

Egyptian and former head of the IAEA, Mohammed El Baradei, responded “"I was stunned to hear secretary Clinton saying the Egyptian government is stable. And I ask myself at what price is stability? Is it on the basis of 29 years of martial law? Is it on the basis of 30 years of [an] ossified regime? Is it on the basis of rigged elections? That's not stability, that's living on borrowed time,” said ElBaradei.

"When you see today almost over 100,000 young people getting desperate, going to the streets, asking for their basic freedom, I expected to hear from secretary Clinton stuff like 'democracy, human rights, basic freedom' – all the stuff the US is standing for," he said.

Photo: Mohamed El Baradei

Clinton's claim that Mubarak's regime is “stable” will look very stupid soon - just like Carter's similar claim about the Shah's regime a few months before it was overthrown in the 1979 revolution – “Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world.”

It’s also why the initial response of the French government to demonstrations against Ben Ali’s dictatorship in Tunisia was to say it would send Ben Ali’s regime some French police to help keep the demonstrators from getting out of control – before pretending, like Obama and the rest, that it had always been for democracy once Ben Ali was overthrown (while the hypocrites continue their arms sales, financial aid and political support to other dictators across the region).

Many are trying to present the demonstrations in Egypt as a choice between Mubarak or Islamic extremists. That’s very far from the truth, as Amnesty International report

‘This was a protest that crossed class, ideology and religion, and that is what scares the government, so long used to successfully playing divide and conquer among the opposition groups. “The psychological barrier of fear has been broken,”  Shadi Hamid, director of research for the Brookings Doha Center told the Washington Post, a comment repeated by several others. “Eighty million Egyptians saw [Tuesday's protests]. They saw that it’s okay to come out and that there is safety in numbers.”’

An Egyptian woman protester and riot police

The idea that Muslim equals extremist or terrorist is also ludicrous scaremongering. The ruling party in Turkey is Islamic, but considerably more democratic than the extreme nationalist secular military governments that preceded it – and have plotted failed coups against it since. Turkey’s government is no more extreme than Italian or German Christian Democrats have been in government. So assuming any dictatorship is better than allowing Muslim parties to form a government is fear mongering.

Democratically elected governments like Hamas in the Palestinian Authority and the coalition including Hezbollah in Lebanon are out of favour and the US is happy to let Israel (which pretends to be “the only democracy in the Middle East”) bomb and invade the only other two.

Abbas and Fatah are as corrupt and oppressive as most of the unpopular collaborators the US and European governments prop up

This does not make Hamas paragons of virtue – they have murdered Fatah supporting Palestinian civilians and Israeli civilians (just as Fatah have murdered Hamas supporters and Israelis and Israeli forces routinely murder Palestinian civilians) and are trying to enforce ludicrous and oppressive Islamic fundamentalism on Gazans, but the fact remains that until the US and European governments stop funding  and arming the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the blockade on Gaza; and stop funding, arming and supporting dictatorships across the Arab world, their claims to support democracy should be met with vocal contempt by everyone; the fact remains that our allies like Fatah and our own governments have no better record on human rights or democracy in the Arab world than Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhoods in Egypt or Jordan do; and the fact remains that we should recognise the results of free and fair elections.

Supporting dictatorships is supposedly excused by the need to keep Islamic groups out of power. What right does anyone have to tell another country what government they should elect? How likely is supporting dictatorships that murder and torture people in other countries to make their populations less extreme and more friendly towards us? Read, for instance ‘The Far Enemy’, a book by Fawaz Gerges, an expert on Jihadist groups, and you’ll find that the entire existence of Al Qa’ida and it’s decision to target the US and it’s allies are the result of our governments’ support for these dictatorships. The “near enemy” is the Jihadists’ term for the dictatorships in their own countries – the “far enemy” being the governments abroad supporting those dictatorships.

The obvious way to reduce the threat from terrorism is to stop aiding torturers and dictators – and recognise democratically elected governments, including Hamas as part of the Palestinian Authority’s government. This will weaken the armed Jihadist groups as their main recruiting points will be gone.

Sun editor's admission that she paid police for stories may show why police are covering up for the News of the World - and determined to get Sheridan

Police took money from the Murdoch press for information – which may be why they’re covering up phone hacking - and so determined to get Sheridan, whose phone they knew had been hacked, convicted of perjury

It turns out that in 2003 Rebekah Wade, then editor of the Sun, admitted to a parliamentary select committee that the Sun had paid police officers for information on people for newspaper stories (1). If that happens at the Sun, what are the chances of it not happening at the News of the World – another brand in the Murdoch cupboard of scratchy toilet paper? What are the chances that it didn’t continue until at least the current phone hacking scandal?

This puts a new light on the police’s unwillingness to investigate phone hacking at the News of the World much;  and their refusal to tell people they and their numbers were listed in the notebook of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire ( a convicted phone hacker, paid by the News of the World). If police officers have taken money for information from the Murdoch press, they won’t shop them for fear of losing their own jobs, possibly being convicted themselves – and at the least losing their additional income from feeding the tabloids in future (2).

It also put’s a new light on their determination to convict Tommy Sheridan, one of the victims of News of the World phone hacking.

Time magazine reports that in 2003 she (Rebekah) told the parliamentary media and culture committee that “We have paid the police for information in the past.”  (3) Rebekah (now Brooks) is now Chief Executive of News International, a subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corporation. News International owns both the Sun and the News of the World.

MPs apparently backed off from demanding Wade (now Brooks after a divorce) be called before a parliamentary select committee again more recently, for fear the Murdoch press would target their own personal lives (4).

Since Wade’s earlier admission shows the police are hiding corruption in their own ranks and collusion with illegal acts by tabloid newspapers, it’s time MPs got some balls and stopped caving in to Murdoch.

The Guardian also reported in 2010 that 'the officer in charge of the inquiry [into phone hacking], assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, subsequently left the police to work for News International as a columnist.' , which could very easily be the paper rewarding him for being so lax in his investigation of it.(5)

(1) = Guardian 12 Mar 2001 ‘Sun editor admits paying police officers for stories’,

(2) = See sources linked for this previous post,

(3) = Time magazine 27 Jan 2011 ‘Did Police Ignore Evidence in Britain's Phone-Hacking Scandal?’,,8599,2044608-2,00.html

(4) = 10 sep 2010 ‘MPs backed down from calling Rebekah Brooks to Commons’,

(5) 04 Apr 2010 'Police 'ignored News of the World phone hacking evidence',

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The glaring contrast between police investigations of Sheridan for perjury and the Murdoch press for phone hacking

The three year jail sentence given to Tommy Sheridan for perjury is considerably longer than many offenders get for serious violent assaults. Irrespective of whether you believe Sheridan is guilty or not, this underlines the fact that this trial has a large political element, with the establishment parties, the police and the Murdoch media empire closing ranks to punish those who resist them.

When police suspected Sheridan of perjury in a case against the News of the World they made a surpise raid on his house with thirty officers, interrogated his wife and accused her of theft of airline miniature drinks (her employer British Airways later exonerating here) and of using “terrorist techniques” when she said her lawyer had advised her not to answer their questions (1) – (2).

When the News of the World is suspected of illegally hacking thousands of peoples’ phones, including Tommy Sheridan’s, the police write the newspaper polite letters asking them if they have any evidence they would like to provide them with, hide evidence of whose phones were hacked from victims and from the Crown Prosecution Service; and say they’ve no legal obligation to investigate or charge all those involved (3) – (10).

They politely interview Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor (and until recently chief spin doctor to Prime Minister David Cameron) – and decide he has no charges to answer, despite former News of the World journalists saying he must have been aware of the systematic phone hacking carried out routinely by the paper’s journalists (3) – (10).

The News of the World says it has “impounded” the computer of one of their staff who is being investigated by police in order supposedly as part of an “internal inquiry” to look for any evidence he was breaking the law – in fact giving them the opportunity to delete emails and other evidence if they want to (11). Would Tommy Sheridan have been allowed to investigate his own computer, rather than the police doing it? Why is the News of the World trusted to investigate itself? The obvious answer is that it has political friends in high places - and the votes of those stupid or gullible enough to read and believe it for sale.

Rupert Murdoch’s papers have helped the winning parties into power in every election since 1979. It was Sky News and the Sun newspaper who set up Gordon Brown in the Mrs Duffy affair for example – though Duffy turned down the Sun’s attempt to bribe her to say she would vote Conservative. Sky and the Sun, like the News of the World, are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s companies (12) – (13).

This episode tells you all you need to know about how impartial the UK’s police and legal system are; little justice here – and lots of protecting those with power and influence.

(1) = Herald 22 Mar 2008 ‘'No charges' for Gail Sheridan over drink miniatures’,

(2) = Herald 03 Dec 2010 ‘Crown drops more Sheridan perjury charges’, ; (scroll down to sub-heading near bottom of article)

(3) = 7 Jan 2011 ‘Met asks News of the World for new phone hacking evidence’,

(4) = Independent 13 Jan 2011 ‘Scotland Yard fights to keep phone-hacking targets a secret’,

(5) = 6 Jan 2011 ‘Tommy Sheridan to sue NoW and Met over phone hacking’,

(6) = 07 Sep 2010 ‘John Prescott to sue Met over phone hacking details’,

(7) = 02 Sep 2010 ‘MP demands judicial inquiry into News of the World phone-hacking claims’, ; ‘According the New York Times: "The officials didn't discuss certain evidence with senior prosecutors, including the notes suggesting the involvement of other reporters, according to a senior prosecutor on the case. The prosecutor was stunned to discover later that the police had not shared everything. 'I would have said we need to see how far this goes' and 'whether we have a serious problem of criminality on this news desk,' said the former prosecutor."....Referring to this allegation in his letter to No 10, Watson wrote: "The testimony given to the NYT is that the police did not share all the relevant information with the CPS. And that if they had done, the CPS would have reached different conclusions. These are clear grounds for a judicial inquiry. Please can you confirm your intention to recommend one."

(8) = 05 Sep 2011 ‘MPs seek fresh investigation into News of the World phone hacking’,

A note of a case conference between police and the CPS records that detectives recommended that "the appropriate strategy is to ringfence the case to minimise the risk of extraneous matters being included".

In a briefing note for ministers produced earlier this year, Dean Haydon, Yates's staff officer acknowledged: "Minimal work was done on the vast personal data where no criminal offences were apparent."…

The specific allegation that No 10 communications director Andy Coulson had known about phone hacking when he was editor of the News of the World were "recycled", a senior cabinet minister, Michael Gove, said.

He said the police decided "there was no case to answer" over claims public figures had their phones tapped while Coulson was editor.’

(9)  = New York Times 01 Sep 2010 ‘Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond’,

The litigation is beginning to expose just how far the hacking went, something that Scotland Yard did not do. In fact, an examination based on police records, court documents and interviews with investigators and reporters shows that Britain’s revered police agency failed to pursue leads suggesting that one of the country’s most powerful newspapers was routinely listening in on its citizens.

The police had seized files from Mulcaire’s home in 2006 that contained several thousand mobile phone numbers of potential hacking victims and 91 mobile phone PIN codes. Scotland Yard even had a recording of Mulcaire walking one journalist — who may have worked at yet another tabloid — step by step through the hacking of a soccer official’s voice mail, according to a copy of the tape. But Scotland Yard focused almost exclusively on the royals case, which culminated with the imprisonment of Mulcaire and Goodman. When police officials presented evidence to prosecutors, they didn’t discuss crucial clues that the two men may not have been alone in hacking the voice mail messages of story targets.

“There was simply no enthusiasm among Scotland Yard to go beyond the cases involving Mulcaire and Goodman,” said John Whittingdale, the chairman of a parliamentary committee that has twice investigated the phone hacking. “To start exposing widespread tawdry practices in that newsroom was a heavy stone that they didn’t want to try to lift.” Several investigators said in interviews that Scotland Yard was reluctant to conduct a wider inquiry in part because of its close relationship with News of the World.’

(10) = 01 Sep 2010 ‘Andy Coulson discussed phone hacking at News of the World, report claims’,

(11) = 03 jan 2011 ‘Internal inquiry launched into News of the World phone hacking’,

(12) = BBC News 28 Apr 2010 ‘Gordon Brown 'bigoted woman' comment caught on tape’,

(13) = Independent 30 Apr 2010 ‘How Mrs Duffy refused to dance to anti-Brown tune played by ‘The Sun’’,

Monday, January 24, 2011

The petition by 31,000 scientists on climate change is an Exxon funded fraud ; Solar activity can't account for climate change

Antarctic ice is still melting rapidly in the West far more than it's growing in the East; cold winters or cooling of climate in some parts of the earth do not disprove overall global warming; and Peirs Corbyn is wildly wrong as often as he's right

Some people still seem to believe there’s a petition signed by “31,000 scientists” saying global warming is not man-made and not a problem ( it’s making the earth “lush” according to the petition). This is in fact the fraudulent Oregon Petition, first produced and disseminated by the dubious ‘Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’ and the George C. Marshall Institute, which is funded by Exxon-Mobil oil, in the late 90s (when it only had 17,000 dodgy signatories)  and then re-released every 5 years or so. The authors of the attached mock up of a research paper are members of the ‘Oregon Institute’ who don’t include any climate scientists at all. They’re variously vets or  physicians or chemists or electrical engineers – though given all the other things they’ve made up they might not even have those qualifications. They falsely claim that the ‘Research Paper’ was published in the journal of the US National Academy of Science, who disowned it and say they have nothing to do with it. Many of the supposed signatories, who include the unlikely ‘Dr. Michael J. Fox’ and ‘Dr. Geri Halliwell’, are not scientists at all; almost none are climate scientists (1) – (6).

Fredrick Seitz, founder of the George C. Marshall Institute - funded by Exxon oil

The man who established the George C Marshall Institute and began the petition was Fredrick Seitz, who was not a climate scientist but a physicist. Before he began producing propaganda against man-made climate change, funded by oil firm Exxon, he did lots of dodgy ‘research’ on how smoking cigarettes was supposedly harmless, funded by tobacco company P JReynolds.

Exxon is among the oil companies which continue to fund groups disseminating climate change denial propaganda (7) – (8). It has offered scientists $10,000 for each research paper they produce contradicting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that average annual global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented rate and that this is more than 90% probability that most of this change is due to human activity (9) – (14). The IPCC, unlike the Oregon outfit, is composed of thousands of actual climate scientists doing peer reviewed research (15) - (16). An independent review of 928 scientific research papers found 75% of climate scientists agree with the IPCC’s assessment and none strongly disagree with it (not surprising as the IPCC mostly analyses and produces a summary of research at intervals of 5 to 10 years) (17).

NASA and others are also often quoted a supposed source that ice is growing in Antarctica. In fact every article on NASA’s website says the opposite, including that such claims are “misleading” and that “the ice sheet is not only losing mass, but it is losing mass at an accelerating rate.” They say sea ice in Eastern Antarctica is growing, but land ice in Western Antarctica is melting on a massively greater scale. (18) – (21).

The theory that solar activity or sunspots account for the majority of climate change is held by a tiny minority of scientists. It’s possible the tiny minority could be right and the vast majority wrong, but it’s not likely. Galileo may have been almost alone in saying the earth rotated around the sun, but at that point there were almost no scientists and it was mostly very religious non-scientists rubbishing his claims.

While there are non-human causes for part of climate change – and the earth did cyclically cool and heat long before the industrial revolution, the vast majority of research by solar scientists has found that solar activity and sun spots can account for at most a quarter of the amount of climate change we’ve seen since 1850, with the majority being man made (22) – (23).

Piers Corbyn has been wildly wrong as often as right in his weather forecasts

Weather Forecaster and physicist Piers Corbyn is much quoted for getting his predictions on the cold winters this and last year right, but his long term weather forecasting, based on solar activity, has been wrong as often as it’s been right. He’s predicted an extremely cold winter almost every year for the past decade and only got it right for two of those. His prediction of hurricane strength winds in the UK in the October and November 2007 was also completely wrong as were his predictions of very cold winters for most years of the last decade, including in 2008 . His overall record suggests that he's right that solar activity accounts for some weather and climate change, but that he's wrong in claiming it accounts for all of, or a majority of it. (24).

Nor are short term weather events evidence against overall climate change Nor is a colder climate in some countries and areas inconsistent with scientists’ predictions on overall global warming. For instance global warming could reduce the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles, slowing or even stopping the current ‘Gulf stream’ warm water convection current which keeps the UK warmer than Alaska. If the Gulf stream stops, then the UK ‘s climate could become as cold as Alaska even though the average annual temperature for the world as a whole has increased.

There is a lot of politics, misinformation and oil company money involved in climate change denial.

(1) = Guardian 19 Sep 2006 ‘The denial industry’,

(2) = The Royal Society March 2005 ‘A guide to facts and fiction about climate change’, and (see especially under subheading 2 from half-way down third page)

(3) = Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine,  - home page states ‘Several members of the Institute's staff are also well known for their work on the Petition Project, an undertaking that has obtained the signatures of more than 31,000 American scientists opposed, on scientific grounds, to the hypothesis of "human-caused global warming" and to concomitant proposals for world-wide energy taxation and rationing.’ Even if you believe their claims about their qualifications, not one even claims to be a climate scientist (saying they are vets, physicians, chemists, electrical engineers, etc).


(5) = Exxon-Mobil 2007 Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments (company document published on  and at $115,000 of donations to the George C. Marshall Institute in 2007 alone

(6) = Seattle Times 01 May 1998 ‘Jokers Add Fake Names To Warming Petition’,

(7) = 01 jul 2009 ‘ExxonMobil continuing to fund climate sceptic groups, records show’,

(8) = 10 Mar 2010 ‘US oil company donated millions to climate sceptic groups, says Greenpeace ; Report identifies Koch Industries giving $73m to climate sceptic groups 'spreading inaccurate and misleading information'’,

(9) = Guardian 02 Feb 2007 ‘Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study’,

(10) = CNN 05 Feb 2007 ‘Exxon linked to climate change pay out’,

(11) = IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007 : synthesis report , summary for policymakers ; ‘1. Observed changes in climate and their effects’,

(12) = As above ‘Causes of Change’

(13) = Glossary of Terms used in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report / Glossary of Synthesis Report, Likelihood, page 83, (‘very likely’ defined as greater than 90% probability).

(14) = CNN 29 Apr 2007 ‘Scientists: Humans 'very likely' cause global warming’,

(15) = IPCC flyer 2007

(16) = See (2)

(17) = Science3 December 2004: Vol. 306 no. 5702 p. 1686 ; Beyond the Ivory Tower : The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change’,

(18) = NASA 12 Jan 2010 ‘Is Antarctica Melting?’,

(19) = NASA 15 Dec 2010 ‘Unstable Antarctica: What's Driving Ice Loss?’,

(20) = 23 Jan 2008 ‘Antarctic Ice Loss Speeds Up, Nearly Matches Greenland Loss’,

(21) = Search results on NASA website for ‘Antarctica ice’,

(22) = 11 jul 2007 ‘New analysis counters claims that solar activity is linked to global warming’,

(23) = Consequences Vol 2 No 1 1996 ‘The Sun and Climate’, ; by Dr Judith Lean and David Rind

(24) =

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq, Blair ; and Guardian editor Michael White’s lazy, contemptuous failure to research the facts on Iraq or Iran

Guardian editor Michael White's coverage of the Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq is unbelievably lazy. His fact free, condescending and contemptuous piece makes the ludicrous claim that Blair is partly right on Iran as Iran is “scary”. White couldn't even be bothered finding out the second name of the mother who had lost her son to Blair's war - she's just "a middle aged woman called Deirdre" to him

According to White on Tony Blair’s latest appearance before another shoddy ‘ Iraq Inquiry’, “Yet again Sir John Chilcot's panel had hardly laid a glove on the former prime minister” (1)

What a surprise that such trenchant critics of Blair as the Chilcot Inquiry didn’t put him on the spot.

There’s Baroness Prashar, made a Baroness and member of the Lords by one Tony Blair MP in 1999 – and also appointed by him to various other jobs (2) – (3).

There’s historian (read propagandist in this case) Sir Martin Gilbert, who is an expert on and hero worshipper of Winston Churchill (4) – (5). He whitewashes Churchill’s urging of the use of “poison gas” on such “uncivilised tribes” as the Iraqi Kurds – and later on German civilians in World War Two. Churchill claimed that targeting civilians and using chemical weapons on them were matters of “fashion” not of “morality” (a German historian has brought attention to this) (6) – (8). Luckily no-one at the time listened to Churchill’s plan for an early version of Saddam’s Anfal genocide of the Kurds by gassing them – though the RAF and British army deliberately massacred thousands of Kurdish villagers and other Iraqi rebels and civilians with conventional weapons in the 1920s and 1930s, one RAF officer recounting tactics used against Kurdish villages as follows “the attack with bombs and machine guns must be..unrelenting…continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle” An RAF manual noted that by using such methods “within 45 minutes a full sized village can be wiped out”.  (This is not a quote from Gilbert’s histories but Arab American historian Rashid Khalidi) (9).  Boer and black African civilians in the Boer War were starved to death in huge numbers in the first concentration camps, a British invention which provided neither enough food nor any shelter. Sadly for Churchill he didn’t get to use poisoned gas on the detainees, but he fought in and enthusiastically backed the war and the methods used in it (10). Churchill’s actions could only look enlightened by comparison with Hitler’s – and then only because other members of the British government and military refused to carry out Churchill’s full plans.

Gilbert also hero worships and whitewashes the records of Bush and Blair, which are even worse, just as much.  In 2004 he compared Bush and Blair to Roosevelt and Churchill and the "war on terror" against some terrorist groups to World War Two against the most powerful state and military in the world – as if bombing, invading and occupying entire countries with whole armies and air-forces could ever stop terrorism rather than create new enemies with dead allies and civilians to avenge) – and as if in the present the attacked  and invaded weaker countries, not the attackers, were the aggressors. If he’d compared the war on terror to the British and French Empires’ invasions and occupations in the Middle East between the First and Second World Wars he’d have been closer to the truth. (11) – (12).

Gilbert’s modern day heroes continued the British Empire’s methods in Iraq with constant air strikes by the USAF and RAF on Iraqi civilians from the 1991 war on through the ‘No Fly Zone’ period from 1991 to March 2003 - and massively increased during ‘Operation Desert Fox’ and from 2000 to 2003. Between 10,000 and 20,000 civilians were killed directly by US and Coalition bombing in the 1991 war alone and an estimated 250,000 died due to damage to clean water supplies, sewage systems and hospitals as an indirect result of that bombing. During the war from 2003 to 2010, in which (as in 1991) bombing, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, napalm and similar substances and white phosphorus were used on Iraqi cities, massive civilian casualties were the result again. Many more would die due to sanctions. They continue to be killed by terrorism, Iraqi government (US trained) death squads and torture; and hunger and illness due to corruption and lack of reconstruction at a rate exceeding that under Saddam and sanctions. Millions of civilians have died as a result from 1991 to present; at least as many as were killed by Saddam in the 80s (when he was armed and funded by the US and British governments among others even after Halabja) and in 1991 (when the US government ordered it’s troops to prevent Shia rebels getting to arms caches and let Saddam’s forces wipe them out to minimise Iranian influence in Iraq) (13) – (22).

Then there’s Gilbert’s colleague on the Chilcot Inquiry, another (only a bit less biased) historian  Lawrence Freedman, who has written an entire book on US involvement in the Middle East since 1976 (‘A Choice of Enemies’) which makes almost no mention of the vast number of civilians killed in indiscriminate attacks by US forces or their allies – and absolutely none of the deliberate targeting of civilians and ambulances in Coalition assaults on Fallujah and other cities like Samarra ; nor of the systematic and brutal torture by Coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq reported by US and British troops to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as to British courts. The word “torture” appears on just a few paragraphs on 4 of 509 pages of Freedman’s book and is glossed over without any discussion of the scale of it or the methods used. Unlike in soldier’s reports to human rights groups, Freedman mentions “beatings” once – without mention of the fact they often go on for days and nights on end by shifts of troops, with some victims dying. Breaking bones with baseball bats is never mentioned by Freedman, nor does battering head off doors or concrete floors, nor electrocution. His only other descriptions are “humiliation” and “attack with dogs”, in the same sentence as “beatings” – and he gives the false impression these happened only at Abu Ghraib and only by the soldiers named in the Taguba report. (23) – (24).

Then there are a two thoroughly establishment former civil servants, one being Inquiry Chairman sir John Chilcot, who approved the previous Butler Inquiry whitewash (25).

In short the entire inquiry is a joke Michael. It is not dealing with any of the core facts or evidence, just playing around the edges for show. Pretending otherwise is a sad joke, but feel free to pretend this is a rigorous trial which has found Blair guilty of nothing more than “mistakes”.

White goes on to say that

a middle-aged woman called Deidre, smartly dressed and articulate, emerged from the hearing on BBC TV to sum up the familiar case for the prosecution….Deidre acknowledged "tears in his voice, but it was all rehearsed. I don't believe a word of it"…And that's it really: "We wuz robbed." Whatever the man says doesn't matter to his hardcore critics…It will not stop the Iraq specialists poring over Blair's testimony and the accompanying release of documents looking for flaws and inconsistencies, as they so often have done before – and emerge as "frustrated" as Deidre because they still can't find that final proof…. ……..

….It's disappointing for the pack that always gathers where Blair goes, not least because the Get Blair crowd are looking for something that isn't there – the smoking gun that proves Blair's villainy. Instead they get mistakes, his misplaced optimism in the WMD (weapons of mass destruction) intelligence about WMD, the efficacy of invading such a snake pit as quasi-Stalinist Iraq or the Pentagon's reckless occupation strategy.

You really think we would ever expect to get evidence of Blair's guilt coming from his own mouth in an inquiry set up with a panel of Iraq war supporters who are banned from even referring to parts of his communications with President Bush during questioning in the inquiry or in the final report, when, even if they’re released, large sections of these conversations have also been deleted from Whitehall records ?  (26) – (27) How naive. How ludicrous.

Should we judge everyone's guilt or innocence of crimes on these standards? We could allow the accused to appoint his friends and associates as judges, not bother with a jury - and decide what evidence the "court" is allowed to bring up and what it can't; and what questions they can and can't ask. Then everyone will be found to have just made some mistakes, even if they got large numbers of people killed by premeditated lies, because i mean if they didn't admit their guilt you haven't laid a glove on them. Isn't that right Michael? The prisons can be emptied tommorrow that way. Everyone's a winner.

Still, it makes you feel smug to pretend that if Blair doesn’t admit guilt he must be innocent of anything but some “mistakes”, despite the wealth of evidence ; and clearly you can look down on some “middle aged woman” who’s only one of millions to have lost people they loved as a result of Blair’s lies.

Her name by the way Mr White is Deirdre Glover and her son's name was Kristian Glover. He was 30 when he was killed in Iraq.

Forget researching the facts, Iran is “scary” so Blair and his critics are supposedly equally wrong

White continues

I think Blair was naive and careless, but so were many of his critics – as they demonstrate today on the scary subject of Iran, though I share their distaste for Blair's bellicosity, on evidence again today. But we're not learning more than nuances of the Iraq policy any more, we're mostly spinning in well-trodden mud.

Wow another brilliant fact and argument free "analysis". Iran is "scary". Blair just made mistakes and all his critics are supposedly as wrong as he is and just as much to blame for being “careless”, based on not one fact, because he hasn’t admitted guilt.

Fact: Iran's government had the opportunity for glorious national martyrdom in 1988 when the US Vincennes shot down an Iranian Airbus. They believed this signalled the US was about to join the Iran-Iraq war on the Iraqi side, as opposed to arming him and providing him with chemical and biological weapons (as it had been for years). They - including Rafsanjani and Khameini and Revolutionary Guard officers like Ahmadinejad - chose to persuade Khomeini to make peace instead. This fact is available from many histories of Iran, including the Persian Puzzle by former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack (28).

Iran's 'Supreme Leader' Ayatollah Khameini (above) has control of Iran's military - not President Ahmadinejad while the pragmatic Ayatollah Rafsanjani (below) is influential in Iranian politics. Both helped persuade Khomeini to choose peace over national martyrdom in 1988.

So, as Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld and US General John Abizaid have both said, the world can live with a nuclear Iran, as Iran's government is not going to commit mass suicide by starting a nuclear war, however much they might urge individual martyrdom on others (29) – (30).

Former US General John Abizadi (above) and Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld (below) both say we can live with a nuclear Iran

Fact: This is basically the same scenario as with the whole Iraq charade. During the 1991 war Saddam did have WMDs and some delivery systems for them - highly inaccurate Scud missiles with chemical warheads. He did not use one of them (You can find this fact in a book written by Joseph S .Nye (a former member of the Clinton administration) and Robert Keohane called 'After the Storm' though they pretend it's a "mystery" that he didn't use them, despite the blindingly obvious - that as Condoleezza Rice acknowledged in 2000 "rogue regimes" could not use WMDs even if they developed them without being destroyed by a nuclear counter strike from Israel, the US or it's allies and so "classical deterrence" would render their WMDs ineffective for anything except deterring others from attacking them (31) – (32).

Chilcot Inquiry member and historian Lawrence Freedman also acknowledges the scud chemical warheads existed but weren’t used by Saddam in the 1991 war in his book ‘A Choice of Enemies’, adding that “Iraqis..Indicated that they were influenced by the prospect of nuclear retaliation, though as much from Israel as the United States.”, but, as far as I can find out, has never brought this up during the Inquiry. His book goes on to make up some illogical and vague claim about the Iraqis maybe having made this claim about their motives for reasons of “prestige”. (33)

A Scud missile - in 1991 Saddam had chemical warheads for his scud missiles, but only fired conventional ones for fear of nuclear retaliation from Israel or the US. So the supposed Iraqi "threat" never existed and whether Saddam had WMD or not was irrelevant.

North Korea has nuclear weapons already and it’s government is no less “unstable” or “irrational” than Iran’s – if anything more so. So why is the prospect that Iran might get it’s own nuclear deterrent “scary” to you Mr. White, but you don’t worry about North Korea?

The conspiracy theory that the Iraqi or Iranian governments would commit national and personal suicide by proxy by handing WMDs to terrorist groups is ludicrous - which is why, a decade into the "war on terror", it's never happened - despite the chaos in Iraq after the invasion letting Al Qa'ida get it's hands on the few remnants of Saddam's WMDs from the 1980s. Even Al Qa’ida do not want to risk nuclear retaliation.

Fact : Saddam could only use WMDs on his own people - and on Iranians- while the nuclear powers - including the US, France, theUK, Russia and China - were allied to him during the Iran-Iraq war. Fact :  At the time of Halabja none of these governments gave a toss about it - and Blair refused to sign parliamentary motions condeming the gassing and genocide and demanding US and British aid be ended (which it never was till shortly before the 1991 war as the Scott Report and US members of congress revealed) (34)

Saddam could only use chemical weapons on his own people and the Iranians when all the nuclear powers were supporting him, funding and arming him during the Iran-Iraq war - which they continued to do for 2 years after Halabja. After 1991, with the US hostile to him, he couldn't risk it. So there was no threat of him using WMD on his own people again either

As for Blair having made “mistakes” on WMD don’t make me laugh (or should that be cry that not one national newspaper editor seems to know or care about the basic facts). Read UNMOVIC head Hans Blix’s last two briefings of the UN Security Council on the progress being made in destroying Saddam’s last reserves of WMDs from the 80s and on the destruction of his longest ranged missiles and of manufacturing facilities for them (35) – (37).

Also note the trick of misdirection used on the mythical “threats” posed by Iraq or Iran getting WMD –  i.e both had and have proven they wouldn’t use them if they had them for fear of a nuclear counterstrike.

As for your theory that his critics should “move on”, that will only be possible when Blair, the Israeli government and half the politicians in the US at least stop calling for another war on Iran that would get hundreds of thousands more killed – and editors and journalists like yourself stop parroting them on the non-existent “threat” from “scary” Iran. (Hoping that they might admit the horrendous lies they told and crimes they committed in Iraq and deal with the reality that neither Iraq nor Iran can possibly pose a threat to nuclear armed nations and their allies who also have immensely stronger militaries than them would doubtless be too much.)

Iraqis will not be able to move on for decades, because they’re still being killed by the same US trained death squads and the same terrorists that the US let into the country by invading and creating chaos, with no concern for anything but their own profits.

You, Mr. White, like Blair, are certainly “careless” of the truth and “spinning in well-trodden mud” on Iran as on Iraq before it though. You never let facts get in the way of some smug opinion that Blair is half right and his critics are all just as wrong as he is - some tawdry, fact and logic free, fence sitting.

But forget facts, eh Michael? Iran is "scary" so Blair must be half right. Pathetic. Anyone paying to buy a newspaper with one of your columns in it is certainly being robbed if they expected any of the central facts from reliable sources, or any coherent argument.

Have you spent so much time being flattered and fed lies by government press officers and Ministers that you actually believe they’re giving you the facts and not spoon feeding you garbage? Do you actually check any reliable, neutral (as opposed to political, government) sources on anything? ; Clearly not often.

The above includes plenty of reliable sources with solid facts (listed below and in some cases on the links below). I wish you’d recognise some of them. I don’t think it’s likely you ever will though. Much easier to pretend the truth is half way between what Blair says and what his critics say than risk losing readers or having to do any work by researching and publishing the unpleasant facts.

(1) = Guardian Politics Blog 21 Jan 2011, 17.38 GMT, ‘Chilcot inquiry: we wuz robbed again’,

(2) = Baroness Prashar,

(3) = The Iraq Inquiry – People - Baroness Usha Prashar of Runnymede,

(4) = The Iraq Inquiry – People – Sir Martin Gilbert,

(5) = Sir Martin Gilbert Online,

(6) = Telegraph 31 Jan 2007 ‘Churchill wanted to use gas on enemies’,

(7) = Guardian 28 Nov 2002 ‘The Churchill you didn't know’,

(8) = Guenther W. Gellermann, "Der Krieg, der nicht stattfand", Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1986, pp. 249-251,

(9) = Rashid Khalidi (2005) ‘Resurrecting Empire’, Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusets, 2005, page 26 - 27

(10) = Thomas Pakenham (1999) ‘ The Boer War’, The Folio Society, London, 1999,
p613-615, 626-634 (chapters 38 & 39)

(11) = Observer 26 Sep 2004 ‘Statesmen for these times’,,,1379819,00.html

(12) = See (9) above, entire book

(13) = Bennis , Phyllis & Moushabeck  , Michael (Editors) (1992)  ‘Beyond the Storm’  ; Canongate Press , London , 1992, p326 – 355

(14) = Lee , Ian (1991) ‘Continuing Health Costs of the Gulf War’, Medical Educational Trust , London , 1991

(15) = Clark , Ramsey (1992) ‘War Crimes: a Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq’ Maissoneuve Press , 1992 – and at

(16) = Observer 20 Dec 1998 ‘Refineries in the bombsights in plan to undermine regime’

(17) = New York Times 18 Aug 1999 ‘With Little Notice, U.S. Planes Have Been Striking Iraq All Year’,

(18) = New Statesman 17 Aug 2000 ‘Labour claims its actions are lawful while it bombs Iraq, starves its people and sells arms to corrupt states’,

(19) = Guardian 19 Feb 2001 ‘Raid shows Bush-Blair bond on Iraq’,

(20) = Counterpunch 04 Dec 2002 ‘No-Fly Zones Over Iraq : Washington's Undeclared War on "Saddam's Victiims"’,

(21) = See blog post on following link and the sources listed for it,

(22) = See blog post on following link and the sources listed for it,

(23) = Lawrence Freedman (2008) ‘A Choice of Enemies’, Weidenfield & Nicolson, London, 2008

(24) = See the website page on the following link and the sources listed for it,

(25) =

(26) = BBC News 18 Jan 2011 ‘Iraq inquiry 'disappointed' by Bush-Blair note secrecy’,

(27) = Independent 20 Jan 2011 ‘Details from Blair's Iraq calls were deleted’,

(28) = Pollack, Kenneth M.(20054), ‘The Persian Puzzle, Random House, New York, 2005 paperback edition - pages 249-374 ; Also see the link below and the sources for it, which include Pollack’s book with chapter and page numbers,

(29) = Forward – The Jewish Daily – 24 Sep 2007 ‘The World Can Live With a Nuclear Iran ’,

(30) = CNN 18 Sep 2007 ‘Retired general: U.S. can live with a nuclear Iran’,

(31) = Nye , Joseph S. & Smith , Robert K. (1992), ‘After the Storm, Madison Books , London , 1992 , - pages 211-216

(32) = Rice, Condoleeza (2000) in Foreign Affairs January/February 2000‘ - 'Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest' - cited in Chomsky, Noam (2003) 'Hegemony or Survival' , Penguin Books , London & NY 2004, pages 34 & 260 citing Mearsheimer, John & Walt, Stephen (2003) in Foreign Policy Jan/Feb 2003

(33) = Lawrence Freedman (2008) ‘A Choice of Enemies’, Weidenfield & Nicolson, London, 2008, Chapter 12, p245

(34) = See the blog post link below and sources 5 to 11 at the bottom of it,

(35) = Briefing of the Security Council, 14 February 2003: An update on inspections, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr. Hans Blix,

(36) = Briefing of the Security Council, 7 March 2003: Oral introduction of the 12th quarterly report of UNMOVIC, Executive Chairman Dr. Hans Blix,

(37) = Also see the blog post link below and sources for it,