David ‘Desert Rat’ Cameron

As we watch appalled as the UN decides to declare war with No Fly Zone and more, this is the onward march into the new crusades on the part of David ‘Desert Rat’ Cameron. With his arms-trader interest in weapons sales and colonial intervention as a sideshow, he can secure his ‘legacy’ with the every-leader-must-have-one bespoke middle east war. Its clearly not just daft daft daft, its criminal – and it worked out so well for his twin Thatcherite brother Bliar. Both of a type…

so, as we watch this car crash unfold…

…a reminder to read the Vijay Prashad piece on Ghadafi in The Paper.

Libya’s Lost Promise

Write me for actual paper copies while they last.


STW: 10 Reasons to say no to western intervention in Libya

By Andrew Murray National Chair, Stop the War Coalition 14 March 2011 The political campaign to launch a military intervention in Libya – ostensibly on humanitarian grounds but with patently political ends in sight – is gathering steam among the NATO powers. A “no-fly zone” has now been urged by the Arab League – for the most part a collection of frightened despots desperate to get the US military still more deeply involved in the region.  That would be the start of a journey down slippery slope. 

Here are ten reasons to resist the siren calls for intervention:

  1. Intervention will violate Libya’s sovereignty.  This is not just a legalistic point – although the importance of observing international law should not be discounted if the big powers in the world are not to be given the green light run amok.  As soon as NATO starts to intervene, the Libyan people will start to lose control of their own country and future.
  2. Intervention can only prolong, not end the civil war.  “No-fly zones” will not be able to halt the conflict and will lead to more bloodshed, not less.
  3. Intervention will lead to escalation.  Because the measures being advocated today cannot bring an end to the civil war, the next demand will be for a full-scale armed presence in Libya, as in Iraq – and meeting the same continuing resistance.  That way lies decades of conflict.
  4. This is not Spain in 1936, when non-intervention meant helping the fascist side which, if victorious in the conflict, would only encourage the instigators of a wider war – as it did.  Here, the powers clamouring for military action are the ones already fighting a wider war across the Middle East and looking to preserve their power even as they lose their autocratic allies.  Respecting Libya’s sovereignty is the cause of peace, not is enemy.
  5. It is more like Iraq in the 1990s, after the First Gulf War.  Then, the US, Britain and France imposed no-fly zones which did not lead to peace – the two parties in protected Iraqi Kurdistan fought a bitter civil war under the protection of the no-fly zone – and did prepare the ground for the invasion of 2003.  Intervention may partition Libya and institutionalise conflict for decades.
  6. Or it is more like the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia.  NATO interference has not lead to peace, reconciliation or genuine freedom in the Balkans, just to endless corrupt occupations.
  7. Yes, it is about oil.  Why the talk of intervening in Libya, but not the Congo, for example?  Ask BP.
  8. It is also about pressure on Egyptian revolution – the biggest threat to imperial interests in the region.  A NATO garrison next door would be a base for pressure at least, and intervention at worst, if Egyptian freedom flowers to the point where it challenges western interests in the region.
  9. The hypocrisy gives the game away.  When the people of Bahrain rose against their US-backed monarchy and were cut down in the streets, there was no talk of action, even though the US sixth fleet is based there and could doubtless have imposed a solution in short order.  As top US republican Senator Lindsey Graham observed last month “there are regimes we want to change, and those we don’t”.  NATO will only ever intervene to strangle genuine social revolution, never to support it.
  10. Military aggression in Libya – to give it the righty name – will be used to revive the blood-soaked policy of ‘liberal interventionism’.  That beast cannot be allowed to rise from the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is the Weight of the Moon? 21.3.2011

Screening and discussion Nabil Ahmed: a response to the situation of over 50,000 Bengali students whose colleges are currently under investigation by the UK government to assess their legitimacy.

Monday 21 March RHB Cinema Goldsmiths, 6.30PM


Nabil Ahmed took the title for What is the Weight of the Moon? from The Middleman, a film by Satyajit Rai forming part of a cycle of films that reflects on the political implications of being a student in Calcutta during the 1970s. Ahmed’s project is a response to the situation of over 50,000 Bengali students whose colleges are currently under investigation by the UK government to assess their legitimacy. Through the medium of film, What is the Weight of the Moon? explores the low visibility of the colleges, which are often identified only by ambiguous-looking signboards in the east London area, and the near-invisibility of their students.

Originally conceived as a two-channel video installation consisting of a video essay and a set of edited interviews, Ahmed’s work places student interviewees outside the frame. The viewer is invited to become an active listener by controlling a three-channel audio mixer to hear field recordings and simultaneous translations of the interviews in Bengali and English.


meanwhile, in Cairo…


“Activists are under the threat wherever they go, Dina (17 yrs old) and Israa (19) Abdallah Abo El-Azm, two sisters detained by the army three days ago for distributing flyers are now to be sentenced in front of a military court. In reality they were only walking down the street in Cairo at midday. They were kidnapped by the army and falsely accused. Not just the activists themselves are in danger, anyone who looks like what came to be stereotyped as a Tahrir Square protester, risks detention or beating”.

I do not know more about who has written this, but that the Military mates of Mubarak remain in place was always a concern – though not for the BBC who of course went on to other stories quick smart. Someone on Al-Jezeera did anticipate something like this, but I didn’t note who said it. More than one person for sure. Anyone got more on detentions in particular?

The entire article is here.

When the army hits the fan!

Posted by Leil-Zahra on 3/16/11 •

The Egyptian people have always loved the army, especially that they haven´t seen much of them since 1973 apart from a controversial participation in the Desert Storm war on the side of the United States. The army was always the romantic figure of glorious times under Nasser who stood in the face of Israel and pumped Arab nationalism and pride in Egypt and beyond. Movies, TV series, documentaries, songs, popular tales of heroics and braveries, novels, and school books all glorify the participation of the army up to 1973.

The popular memory froze in time in 1973, maybe because the Egyptian people didn´t have much to celebrate or take pride in under the rulers that came afterwards. Both Sadat and Mubarak destroyed the spirit of the people in every way possible and on every level imaginable (though this doesn´t mean that Nasser was the best thing that happened to this country). It became once again the tale of Pharaohs in the center-stage, the slaves building the Pyramids forgotten and marganilized.

Egypt is the country of romanticism par excellence. For decades while tens of millions of Egyptians were famished for collective self-esteem, reminiscing and nostalgia were the only survival tool available. The Pharaohs and the army were at the core of it all, equally present in the memory of the people and equally ancient history in the tangible reality. It was all memories of glorious days that lived in the reality of the people. Even some of those who found it emotionally hard to oust Mubarak did so because they respected him as a leading military figure from the war of 1973.

Full article continues: here.


Sandline crisis . . . 14 years on

Tim Spicer, where in Iraq are you now? (seek him here seek him there, the bumbling millionaire mercenary with his camo-wear…

this is from the PNG Post Courier today:


Retired and Former Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Major General Jerry Singirok MBE, reflects on the 1997 Sandline Crisis that grabbed the attention of the nation as well as the international community. His professional judgement at the time was critical. His conscience outweighed what was deemed as lawful executive order.

By Major General Jerry Singirok
MBE (Rtd)

It has been fourteen years to this day when under my command as Commander Papua New Guinea Defence Force made a conscious decision, not only to abort the Sandline Contract “Contravene”, but also to expel Sandline mercenaries out of PNG and subsequently ask the then Prime Minister, his deputy and the Minister for Defence to resign.
Historians and many commentators have marked this event as a major crisis in PNG history. However in the main it was a result of series of blunders on the part of the executive arm of the Government and policy advisor who had far ulterior motives other than addressing genuine plea for increased benefits for the landowners and the Bougainville Provincial Government.
The result was a significant shift in the security decision making thus affecting national security within the context of protecting PNG’s national interest, subsequently unleashing the contract by the grieving party which was me as Commander and a handful of military hardliners who supported my opposition and successfully executed Operations “ Rausim Kwik”.
Upon reflection, it is disheartening to say the least that nothing has changed much since March 1997. From influx of illegal immigrants, lack of effective border security, and hegemonic tussles between the economic global giants, PNG continues to be an open and free playing field for investors and opportunists who by cohesion with our decision makers and respective agencies in the name of economic development ignore the plight of landowners and continue to generate uncertainties, frustrations thus creating a certain air of frustration throughout Papua New Guinea today.
Our era (1975-1997) was in the cold war era, where the military had to re-think and re-strategise new roles in Civil Military Affairs whereby the military if it had to justify its existence, must be restructured and re-trained into a military force that should be ready to assist during natural disaster, assist mainly in policing roles and contribution to international peace keeping and law enforcement.
It was therefore incumbent that those in position of command at that time understand the transition of a fighting force to a force for peace-making and the constraints and limitations it had was most daunting task for any military commander. This was the dilemma I had as Commander where the Papua New Guinea Defence Force was not tailored to fight a prolonged civil war against antagonists as it was not prepared, ill-equipped, lacked combat power which drastically affected the morale of the troops and most significantly lacked the political support. I had been a career soldier and attended one of the most prestigious and reputable military colleges where future Generals were bred. I have been privileged to be an exchange officer with the United States Army, British Army and was accorded a two year employment opportunity with the Australian Defence Force as a lecture in Military Arts and Tactics at the Land Warfare Centre. These exposures and professional training I received was an insurance that assisted me to take command of the Defence Force even at a prime age within the bounds of good command, leadership and stewardship based on strict military ethos based on empathy.
I will always mitigate and justify my actions regardless of public opinion and what lawyers and critics say. My professional judgement at the material time was critical where my conscience far outweighed what was deemed as lawful executive order to me were deemed unlawful superior orders because of the serious consequences of a military operations against thousands of innocent civilians.
The consequence of the actual military onslaught according to my professional judgment would result in a carnage that would have been devastating to include serious crimes against humanity and would have drawn global condemnation and possible indictment to the Hague to face War Crimes Tribunal for atrocities against thousands of innocent civilians.
The indictment would have included members of the National Security Council and me as Commander, as we would be deemed to be culpable for conducting surgical military operations. The experiences by Bougainvillians, Panguna landowners, royalty issues, the environmental damages and the lack of negotiation on their behalf by the National Government and the developer, Bougainville Copper Limited were critical issues that were not mitigated well.
The lessons of good governance which lacked wider community and professional consultation are still ambiguous even to this day. Investors with multibillion investments are flocking into PNG to exploit the people and the resources that are now becoming scarce globally regardless of community concerns.
Today foreign and commercial security companies have taken over national security functions it seems, a service reserved for state security forces with little or no government investment has been redirected to revitalise and revamp PNG’s own security forces. As a result of this neglect, the national security agencies have become defunct, disjointed, and operationally ineffective to protect PNG’s interest, sovereignty and security to say the least.
The concerns of lack of comprehension and understanding the issues of protecting national interest and security are appalling. It requires a government that puts the wellbeing of its citizen first before any other agendas. The law and order is escalating, HIV and AIDS is on an endemic rise, use of illegal guns, poverty is widespread, rural infrastructures are deteriorating or have deteriorated and the Government services of basic health and education had not been seen and accorded to many remote parts of PNG. The land border remains porous and the maritime boundaries and air space are not protected. Equally of significant concern is the environmental damages as a result of industrial waste by the multimillion investors are a force of destruction that has and will continue to affect and plague Papua New Guinea.
Really if we continue the trend in the next five years of neglect to our national security then we may as well have an open door policy where exploiters globally can help themselves to our God-given resources forcing the next generation to opt to resort to antagonism as seen globally where established regimes are being literally ousted by the mass.
It is too evident to see the parallels of what is happening in PNG today even after series of government came into power from 1997 onwards, except today there is tactfulness in the way large contracts are handled so as to suppress and distort public opinion. The landowners and the citizens always get the raw end of the deal.
Regrettably the lessons learnt from the engagement of Sandline mercenaries and Bougainville civil war is easily forgotten it seems. While Papua New Guinea continues to go down a path of self destruction based on omissions, self serving and false proclamation of the wealth creation for only a few, the reality is that the next generation of Papua New Guineas may turn out to be a generation of disgruntled, misfits, uneducated, city roamers who may see those in authority as tyrants, self serving and may decide to take up arms to engage in a prolonged armed resurrection against the Government, foreign investors and exploiters.
In any case this security quagmire scenarios anticipated in the coming decade would be very difficult to deal with as lessons in the past have never been learnt. It has always and will be the people’s call first for good governance while upholding our Constitution for the wellbeing of our citizens. It’s time to learn from the lessons learnt from Sandline in 1997 and correct them for the better.





A chit chat tonight with a comrade – now a note to self for later:
Seems some people have had a hard time seeing democratic centralism and meeting procedure as anything like fun. :)
I was a peripheral participant in a thing called Open Polemic long ago. I think that is the way. Unfortunately it was too soon codified by people I like, with a structure I do not want to sign up for – even if I think its fine if other people do. I find myself half way between the CPGB, Mao’s principles, and the anarcho-comms. Is this something that can be distilled?
The CPGB offer rules: Here
but so do the anarchos: If you have seen David Graeber’s book on Direct Action, and the whole wobbly hands meeting procedure thing, plus the soon to be released Occupations Handbook, from AK Press, you’ll soon be well sick of rules. Usually a technique for closing down imagination or delegating/appropriating power to the inner clique of first name basis friends.
Maoist organizing is a long term drawn out learning, criticism and self-criticism. I’ll dig out the texts…
but maybe not tonight. Though it is important…
Lynne Segal, socialist-feminist from Sydney Push, perceptively said: ‘when the excitement of finding a new collective voice begins to ebb, everyday politics becomes a far more discouraging, even tedious affair, a matter of competitive interests and conflicting alliances’ Segal 2000:19 in ‘Only Contradiction on Offer’ in “Women: A Cultural Review” 11:1/2:19-36.
Maybe we need to keep a step ahead of that resigned-to-it tone, but also must recognize the constraints – which are perhaps best dealt with through Joy, and thought-crime.

Bradley Manning

SUNDAY March 20th. 2pm *U.S. Embassy/London- Join Us to Demand they “Stop Torturing Bradley Manning!


To demand the end of the torture pf Bradley Manning in Quantico U.S. Marine Base, Virginia USA. Although 23 year old Bradley Manning is a U.S. Army intelligence officer he is being held without explanation in the largest U.S. Marine Base in the world! Bradley is being held, in effect, in isolation and sensory deprivation, his conditions are tortureous. Techniques finetuned at Abu Ghraib and Guatanamo have been unleashed on what U.S. authoriteis see as a nonviolent dissident within the U.S. war machine.

U.S. anti-war and human rights activists, lawyers, military veterans and the former commander of Quantico are heading down to Quantico this Sunday March 20 to demand justice for Bradley Manning. Others of us around the world will go on Sunday March 20 to U.S. embassies and sites of siginifiance in the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and do like wise. Consider joing us or initiating your own activity for Bradley Manning on Sunday March 20.
Youtube – Previous Jan. 17 demonstration for Bradley at Quantico

Bradley has been accused of leaking, to WikiLeaks, footage of a U.S. helicopter gunship massacre in Iraq of 2 Reuters journalists, 9 Iraqi civilians and wounding the children in a vehicle that detoured from the “school run” to tend to the wounded and the dead. Those who carried out this massacre hve not been brought to account, the U.S. government wished to “shoot the messenger”.

We refuse to accept this. We hope you to do too? Show viisible solidarity with Bradley Manning this Sunday March 20. If not with us at the U.S. embassy at 2pm – in your own community, speak out at church, stand in your city centre demand Justice for Bradley Manning!

TIME? – Sunday March 20th. 2 pm

WHERE? – outside the U.S. Embassy, Gorsvenor Square.
Closest tube: Bond St.

HIgh School Kidz from Brad’s Welsh Village

Bruce Kent – Long time British Peace Activist and Organiser.

Ben Griffin
SAS Iraq Combat Veteran, Reusenik when he refused a 2nd tour deouncing the war, gagged from speaking of his experiences by the M.O.D./ High Court.

and others… more here