Friday, October 14, 2011

The real Adam Werritty and Liam Fox scandal is the British government promoting arms sales to a government that ordered the massacre of civilians

Most media coverage and political debate over the Adam Werritty scandal is surreal and bizarre in treating Werrity’s status as the serious issue while not even mentioning that Werritty, Defence Minister Liam Fox and the British government are promoting arms sales to a Sri Lankan President who ordered war crimes including shelling civilians and hospitals with artillery after telling them they should move to what the Sri Lankan military and government had told civilians and aid agencies would be  “safe zones”, followed by massacres of Tamil Prisoners of War and of civilians, including children and aid workers. At least 7,000 civilians have been killed so far. (This is all recorded in multiple investigations by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN, as well as by soldiers in the Sri Lankan military who were eye witnesses and heard the orders given.)

Channel 4 News in the UK is the only exception I’ve found so far – they have covered the war crimes issue.

British MPs found that the previous Labour government in Britain also approved arms sales to Sri Lanka during ceasefires in the war. In fact  that wasn’t the whole truth – the British government sold £13.6 million of arms including armoured cars, machinegun components and semi-automatic pistols to the Sri Lankan government at the height of the civil war. So British arms were almost certainly used to commit the massacres and more sold to them now may be used for future massacres and continuing disappearances. The bodies of the disappeared are being discovered constantly.

The almost total silence on it in most media reports and opinion columns is despite the video footage and photos of Adam Werrity, standing alongside Liam Fox, shaking hands with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa which have been taken to be important because they show Werrity had taken part in official meetings with members of other governments.

In December 2010 Channel 4 News reported that

‘The Defence Secretary made five trips to Sri Lanka in the past three years, all while in opposition. Each trip was paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

On 2nd December, the Defence Secretary held a private meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in London's Dorchester Hotel, while he was on a private visit to Britain. The visit was aborted when a Tamil pressure group sought the arrest of one his entourage on war crimes charges.

The meeting was portrayed by the Sri Lankan government as a diplomatic coup on its official websites, which displayed prominent pictures of the President and Dr Fox warmly shaking hands.

Among matters reportedly discussed between the two were investment opportunities in the north of the island, where many of the alleged atrocities took place.’

More recently they reported that :

Highly-placed souces in Sri Lanka have told Channel 4 News that Liam Fox and Adam Werritty have both visited Sri Lanka every year now for a decade. And every time Dr Fox has gone there, Mr Werritty’s been with him – even while on holiday….

….Three highly placed sources in Sri Lanka independently allege that Adam Werritty’s frequent visits to the island were to do with arms deals – and that he stayed there, it’s alleged, at Sri Lankan government expense….. The sources have claimed that Mr Werritty acted as an interlocutor for a senior figure in the regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This senior figure reportedly discussed with Mr Werritty whether he could lobby the British government over the supply of arms, security equipment and aviation parts.’

Rajapaksa arrested the General who headed the campaign, not for war crimes, but for standing against him in the subsequent Presidential elections and for revealing that the orders for the massacres came from Rajapaska’s Defence Minister.

Yet Fox and the British government are both promoting the sale of British arms to Rajapaska’s government and giving him political support by going on state visits to Sri Lanka.

Compared to all this I really couldn’t give a toss whether Werritty had security clearance ; and care even less about innuendo about whether he and Fox might be gay lovers or not.

On this issue much of the media and many politicians seem to have no moral compass, no sense of proportion and an amazing ability to fixate endlessly on trivia while ignoring the British government arming and supporting war criminals who ordered the deliberate killing of thousands of civilians and aid workers.

Labour Party MPs, many of whom were silent or stayed in cabinet as Ministers while the government armed Sri Lankan forces at the height of the massacres, make no mention of them when criticising Fox, Werritty and Cameron.

The new Labour Defence Spokesman, Jim Murphy MP, a typical Blairite and party hack, never mentions them because he knows he was part of a government that did the same. In his letter to Cameron he only mentions conflicts of interest and risks to ‘national security’ – not a word about arming war criminals with arms used to massacre civilians. It seems we can’t expect much improvement from the Labour party leadership under Milliband.


Channel 4 News 11 Oct 2011 ‘Liam Fox friend Adam Werritty accused over Sri Lanka arms deal’,

Channel 4 News 15 Jun 2011 ‘Killing fields video evidence ‘builds case for war crimes’’,

Channel 4 News 27 Jul 2011 ‘Sri Lanka ‘war crimes’ soldiers ordered to ‘finish the job’,

Channel 4 News 04 Oct 2011 ‘Liam Fox quizzed about friend’s access to MoD’,

HRW / The Guardian 21 Jan 2010 ‘Uncovering Sri Lanka's war crimes’, and

Guardian 30 March 2010 ‘MPs call for review of arms exports after Israeli assault on Gaza’, (also covers sales to Sri Lanka)

Times 02 Jun 2009 ‘Britain sold weapons to help Sri Lankan army defeat Tamil Tigers ’,

HRW 08 May 2009 ‘Sri Lanka: Repeated Shelling of Hospitals Evidence of War Crimes’,

HRW 03 Aug 2011 ‘Sri Lanka : No Justice in massacre of aid workers’,

HRW 23 May 2011 ‘Sri Lanka: Military Conference to Whitewash War Crimes’,

Human Rights Annual Report 2010 – Country Report – Sri Lanka,

Amnesty International 26 Apr 2011 ‘UN must act now on Sri Lanka war crimes report’, 09 Oct 2011 ‘Liam Fox allegations: Letter from Jim Murphy to David Cameron’,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Iranian government did not plot a terrorist bombing in the US that would have ensured their own overthrow by US forces

The supposed Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador along with 150 Americans by a terrorist bombing of a restaurant on US soil is ludicrously paper thin war propaganda (1) – (2).

Why would senior members of the Iranian government or military plot an attack which, if it succeeded, would ensure their overthrow by the US military after September 11th style anger in the US ; and likely lead to many Ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard officers being either killed or jailed? (3).

The US, Israeli and Saudi governments by contrast have everything to gain from making this scenario up ; control  of the second largest oil reserves in the world ;  eliminating a rival for influence in the Middle East; and a distraction from domestic economic problems.

Obama’s poll rating fell to 41% a few months ago and hasn’t moved since due to the stalled US economy and high unemployment, which he can’t do much about it as long as the Republicans control congress (4). There’s a Presidential election next year. President Bush senior in 1990, faced with similar problems, made war on Iraq to try to restore his poll ratings. He still lost the next election.

The US charges call plastic explosives “weapons of mass destruction”, a propaganda phrase also used to whip up support for war on Iraq, despite the fact that it has previously referred solely to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons (5).

The US going to the UN for a resolution against Iran as a fig leaf for having tried diplomacy is also de ja vu all over again (6).

The whole thing reeks of Iraq war style propaganda and similar US government made conspiracy theories like the mythical alliance between Saddam and Al Qa’ida.

If the plot existed at all it was likely the idea of FBI agents, who have started to make a habit of posing as Al Qa’ida operatives and offering poor and unemployed Americans vast amounts of money to carry out terrorist attacks, then arresting them and having them jailed when they do. There’s a word for that – it’s called entrapment and as one American woman said they haven’t identified a terrorist cell in these cases they’ve created one just to boost their own careers (7).

(1) = Independent 12 Oct 2011 ‘US accuses Iran of bomb plot to kill Saudi ambassador in Washington’,

(2) = Bloomberg 12 Oct 2011 ‘U.S. Accuses Iran of Sponsoring Plot to Kill Saudi Official’, ; ‘When the informant expressed concern that 100 to 150 people could be injured in a bombing of the restaurant, including “senators who dine there,” Arbabsiar said “no big deal,” the U.S. said in the complaint.’

(3) = Bloomberg 12 Oct 2011 ‘U.S. Accuses Iran of Sponsoring Plot to Kill Saudi Official’, ; ‘The alleged plot was “directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday. “High-up officials in those agencies, which is an integral part of the Iranian government, were responsible.”’

(4) = Gallup 07 Oct 2011 ‘Obama's September Approval Rating Remains at Term-Low 41%’,

(5) = Bloomberg 12 Oct 2011 ‘U.S. Accuses Iran of Sponsoring Plot to Kill Saudi Official’, ; ‘Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, and Gholam Shakuri were charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, in this case C-4 plastic explosives, to murder Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir and attack Saudi installations in the U.S. in a plan hatched earlier this year. Targets included “foreign government facilities associated with Saudi Arabia and with another country,” the U.S. said in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

The plotters, one of whom is in U.S. custody, also targeted Israel’s embassy in Washington, as well as the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia in Argentina, according to a federal law enforcement official familiar with the matter.

(6) = AFP 12 Oct 2011 ‘US seeks Security Council support for Iran action’, ‘The United States on Wednesday sought UN Security Council support for action to hold Iran "accountable" for an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, diplomats said.

France and Britain have already given strong backing to the US government. But the US administration will also be sending delegations to Beijing and Moscow to give details of the investigation, diplomats said.’

(7) = Newsnight BBC2 08 Sep 2011 ‘Have US anti-terror tactics strayed into entrapment?’,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Any third round of quantitative easing money should by-pass the banks and go straight to businesses and people to restore employment and growth

then we have to deal with our energy and waste crises

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee have said there may be a third round of Quantitative Easing, after the first two failing to provide any benefit except increasing the banks’ reserves (1).

They failed because the banks are not passing the money on in loans at an interest rate that businesses can afford, partly because they’re afraid of not having big enough reserves to meet another crisis; and partly because their top managers have decided they can get off with that because politicians aren’t willing to risk any bank going under in case it sets off others like a string of dominoes and they take the rest of the economy with them.

Quantitative easing has been much derided because it’s a euphemism for printing money, but printing money is not always a bad idea – it depends on the circumstances and who the money is going to.

Printing money when inflation is low, deflation is a serious risk and the economy is on the edge of another recession and banks are refusing to loan is not unreasonable. Since banks across Europe are private creditors of the Greek government, which may be forced to default on it’s debts unless it’s creditors forgive the majority of them (with either option involving losses for the banks), quantitative easing is also seen as a way of ‘recapitalising’ the banks (i.e boosting their reserves) to avoid runs on them in the event of a default.

However if we’re going to print more money it should go in loans directly from the government to small and medium sized businesses at reasonable interest rates to boost employment; and in payments to the unemployed, the disabled and people on low and middle incomes. That way it can keep viable existing businesses going, start new ones and increase demand in the economy, rather than just padding out banks’ reserves. It would also involve a modest redistribution of some of the wealth spent on bank bail-outs back to the majority.

This could restore growth and employment levels in the short term, but we also need to re-regulate the banks, undoing decades of de-regulation from the 1980s on, or else another financial crisis could happen at any time.

That could restore at least some of the economic stability of the early post-1945 period. However we also face problems now that we didn’t face then.

Avoiding an Energy Crisis

There is the coming crisis of energy as remaining oil reserves becoming increasingly costly in money and energy to extract, along with increasing demand from China and Asia. To meet this we need increased taxes on oil and energy use to reduce waste of energy. We also need government subsidies and tax breaks for research and development of new energy sources.

Basically, long before oil reserves run out, we will hit ‘Peak Energy’ running short of energy due to the increasing energy costs of extracting oil. In the 1930s when we were extracting mostly the easiest to get at and easiest to refine oil reserves there was a return of 100 barrels of oil for every barrel of oil used to extract it (in fuel for vehicles, drilling, setting up pipelines, oil tankers etc). Today that has fallen to about 11 to 18 barrels for every 1 barrel used. (For more on ‘Peak Energy’ and ‘Net Energy’ see Mandy Meikle’s blog post here and Chris Martenson’s here, as well as this one).

That’s before you even take into account the climate change and other pollution caused.

If you think petrol prices are already high you’re right. However we can’t afford to reduce them if we want to make alternatives to oil based transport and electricity economically viable to develop soon enough to avoid a Peak Energy crisis – and if we don’t do that we’re going to be looking at rationing electricity and being unable to get anywhere by car, train or bus at all except at insane prices at best - and societal collapse into some kind of former Yugoslavia or Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome at worst. Either will make expensive petrol look like a picnic.

Having said that, far more of the taxes on petrol should be going to improving public transport and reducing thecost of using it. It’s no use telling people to use public transport more while making it more and more unaffordable and over-crowded and without more railway stations opened and more trains running.

The Rubbish and pollution Crises

On top of this there is a waste management crisis as we run out of space for landfill of rubbish (which in any case can pollute groundwater and release methane and other gases harmful to people living nearby). Government responses so far have focused on either shipping waste to developing countries which don't have the same regulations, causing illnesses and deaths there, or else incinerators as the cheapest option in the short term and a quick fix, ignoring the waste of energy and resources (especially oil based plastics)  involved and the toxic emissions. These emmisions are likely to increase the incidence of cancers, especially among children and may pollute farmland and so food and water supplies.

Instead we should have a recycling tax on all companies in Scotland or the UK, with companies producing the least waste and the most easily recyclable products and packaging paying a lower rate – plus an import tax on foreign imports that don’t meet the same standards. Recyclable or re-useable products can then be given back to firms for re-use at no further charge, their recycling and delivery funded by the tax.

Taxing the businesses that produce products and packaging which can't be cheaply and safely recycled is the only way to impose a financial cost linked to the cost in terms of peoples' health, lives and environment which will force the worst companies to change their behaviour and allow the better ones, who were already making an effort, to avoid being put out of business by firms who only look at their own costs and profit

We have to act to prevent all the crises - we can't pick and choose which to deal with as if the others don't matter

To get a political climate in which we can deal with the energy and waste crises we first have to avert a second longer and deeper recession in which hunger, poverty and mass unemployment would lead to lots of suffering themselves and could lead to 1930s style politics with the extreme right and/or extreme left gaining support. People who are left scared about whether they can feed themselves and their children and avoid losing their homes will ignore everything else to get those and will be vulnerable to propaganda.

Providing them with some security in the short term has to be the number one priority, but as soon as that’s done we have to start dealing with the energy and waste crises before they lead to disasters just as bad.

(1) = 09 Oct 2011 ‘Third round of quantitative easing possible, says MPC member’,