Saturday, June 21, 2014

And this weekend's reads (mostly Iraq, but not just)

Iraq, Syria, etc - It’s quite the contrast: ritual beheadings and jihadist firing squads erupting all across Iraq at the same time that millions of voters in Afghanistan were calmly defying Taliban suicide-bomb threats and queueing for a second-round runoff vote to replace that ill-tempered old nabob, Hamid Karzai.... - I like Twitter; it has helped me avoid wading through the news on what passes for British politics in order to find the interesting stuff—you follow the right people, and the news comes to you. But following last week’s meltdown in Iraq that powerful faction of deranged people who use the platform made themselves felt. Some were antisemitic but there was also all-purpose crackpottedness that included calling for my arrest for supporting terrorism. Among this garbage there was a serious point: the anti-war forces were feeling a moment of vindication. Now that the immediate crisis has passed, and, contrary to some extremely alarming reports a week ago, it does not look as if Baghdad will fall imminently, it seems like a good moment to revisit some of the questions that have dogged us since American-led troops crossed into Iraq in March 2003 to finally take the march into Baghdad they should have taken in 1991.... - As submitted to The Tablet, published 21 June 2014 “Abigail Frymann tries hard to present both sides of the narrative in her feature interview (“The rebels want my head”, 7 June) with Mother Agnes ...

Shared by James Bloodworth - The scale of the tragedy requires a much greater response than the callous and disinterested one shown by the government With the unfolding drama in Iraq climbing to the top of the news agenda, the...

Some articles on ISIS’s Ba’athist allies:

Uneasy Alliance Gives Insurgents an Edge in Iraq –
ISIS’s Secret Allies

Below the fold: Russia, the far right, British politics, the white working class, and more….

Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekend reading

Shared by Hussein Ibish - Chalk up another victory to the mighty Arab ignorance and stupidity brigade. Or should we? Professor Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, who runs the Al-Quds University Department of American Studies and...

Shared by stuartcelliott - Ryan Dawson uses the internet to promote bigotry and Holocaust denial, but on RT, he’s a “geopolitical analyst”, “human rights activist” and “Asian affairs expert.” His attorney defended him in... - When Russian President Vladimir Putin uses military force to menace Ukraine’s democracy and seize chunks of its territory, when he uses authoritarian laws to crack down on homosexuals and minorities... - Apologetics, if not outright support, for the forces of political reaction and oppression have become a hallmark of sections of the socialist left in the two and a half decades following the collapse... - The "New Right" is a lot like the Old Right I recently picked up a copy of New Right versus Old Right by Greg Johnson, the founder and editor of Counter-Currents, an overtly fascist-aligned publish...
The Inconvenient Truth About Jews From Arab Lands: They Were Expelled - (Haaretz) — Nathan Weinstock hadn’t planned to write a book about the Jews of Arab lands. But when he looked for information about the modern history of Moroccan or Iraqi Jewry, he was surprised to... - The row between Michael Gove and Theresa May has - in Westminster, at least - somewhat overshadowed the immeasurably more important news that extremists are operating in our schools. A report out ... - Workers’ Liberty members attended the “Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine” meeting on 4 June, organised by the SOAS Marxist Society (Socialist Appeal). On the panel were Russian ... - Whatever one thinks about the decision in 2003 to finish the war Saddam Hussein started by annexing Kuwait, serious people should be able to agree that the abandonment of the country by American fo... - We might all hope to be vindicated so quickly. I wrote yesterday morning of the way the Iraqi government’s sectarianism and authoritarianism had created the space among Iraqi Sunni Arabs in which... - MOSCOW — Russia’s top diplomat on Wednesday acknowledged for the first time an official relationship with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the same day that one of their top leaders made... - As the spiritual bedrock of Judaism, Jerusalem had been a magnet for millennial longing. For centuries Jews intensely preserved their spiritual attachment to their Jerusalem. At different times,... - “George Galloway Compares Birmingham Ofsted Report to Iraq War” Only if you are a person predisposed to distorting what others have said. I notice the same trait in those pro Israeli supporters who... - The Eurodeputy for the Front National – Rassemblement Bleu Marine (RBM), -Aymeric Chauprade (wikipedia – in English), took part in strange meeting on Saturday the 31st of May in Vienna.  (Austria) ... - A group of three academies, one other academy, and one council-controlled school in Birmingham have been put into “special measures” by Ofsted government inspectors for allegedly acting like “faith... - Staunton, June 12 – As the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea continue to force out Crimean Tatars from positions of responsibility and exclude them from policy discussions, the Muslim Spirit... - Dubai: Most British tourists have no idea that this seemingly modern emirate gives even Western women few rights (credit: Saqib Khan) Dubai, on the Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates, can... - Khaled, who recently fled from Mosul to the Kurdistan Region, is sure of this. Computer records of officials have ended up in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the extremist ... - The capture of Mehdi Nemmouche in France alongside his apparent videoed confession claiming responsibility for a shooting last month at a Jewish museum in Brussels offers the first example of death... - Lately I have been struck by the raw anti-semitism evinced on anti-Israel websites (most egregious example, Mondoweiss). There is nothing novel about it. It’s not “the new... - I do remember when having a baby out of wedlock was a serious stigma for a young woman and her family. This was the 1970s in New Zealand, and often the pregnant woman would have her baby in secret ... - What is one to make of a volume of specialised essays in contemporary philosophy – a compilation including some of today’s most prominent leaders in the field – that wants to be both a highbrow off... - The Kurds like to tell a story about the discussions at the end of the Iraq war. As details of the new republic were being finalised there was a row between the US representatives and the Kurds of ...

M.J. Rosenberg Assails 'Mondoweiss’ for antisemitism - M.J. Rosenberg This recent Tikkun Daily blog post by M.J. Rosenberg, "Mondoweiss & Is Anti-Semitism Dead?," drew a sharp rebuke from Tikkun's editor Michael Lerner. (Please be reminded that views... - The policy of “No Platform for Racists and Fascists,” historically adopted by many student unions, is ideologically appalling. Not only is it an affront to the doctrine of free speech, it has been ... - Fathom: Why did you write Jews and the Left: The Rise and Fall of a Political Alliance? Philip Mendes: Growing up as a working-class child in the overwhelmingly middle-class Jewish community of ... - The Syrian Civil War is now grinding on into its fourth year. Over 150,000 people have died, and tens more are being killed every day in the ongoing fighting. Millions have lost their homes. Many ... - The New York Times headline C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition has been cited literally hundreds of times since it was first published on 21 June 2012 by non-interventionists ... - Polat Can: The stance of political parties in Kobane or their regional organizations in Kobane was brave and deserves appreciation. Many party members joined the resistance although their parties... - Mzwamdile Tshofela is a chair of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) branch at the Mercedes Benz plant in East London, Eastern Cape province. He is also a member of the global.. - Barack Obama: leading from behind? In 1999, the French foreign minister Hubert Védrine complained about American "hyperpower", echoing the New Left's genetic disdain for America's unchallenged role... - Despite multiple debunkings, claims that Ukraine’s pro-Western revolution brought about by the Maidan protests was really a fascist (if not neo-Nazi) coup persist, and not just from the Kremlin pro... - We are notoriously bad at learning foreign languages. Actually, we are lousy at learning our own. We rarely recognise that we are a multi-lingual nation and it only really becomes visible if you go... - Assessing President Havel’s legacy in the fight for human rights in Iran will not be an easy task as long as censorship, fear and oppression obstruct a proper study. But today, as an Iranian human ... - [Ian Bone describes how Class War is being confrontational towards speakers at a CND rally in Hyde Park in October, 1983] Next up is silver-mained EP Thompson, author of The Making of the English ... - Taking my family to Iraqi Kurdistan last year raised the eyebrows of friends who haven’t cottoned on to the fact that it is the safest part of Iraq by a country mile. Getting there has certainly be... - cosmicstargoat, regarding the masses of holy zombies seen by millions of Utterly Reliable Witnesses[TM] and attested to in Matthew 27:51-53 does anyone know what happened to them? Logically, as the... - The Eisenstein Mujahideen: A Film Critique of Syria’s Combat Videos Film critics are notoriously disconnected from the fast changing world of self-made film. One genre they have completely ignored ... - In the summer of 2013, I was living out of a hotel room in the regime loyalist coastal town of Tartous, having fled the fighting in Homs and the subsequent battles in my hometown of Talkalakh. Even...
Shared by Sunny Singh - Kurdish photographer, Kamaran Najm Ibrahim, killed in Kirkuk, June 12, 2014. Photo: Photographer's Facebook page

Shared by Mugwump - It seems like only yesterday that Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, was celebrating as the last American soldiers left Iraq. Now, with an al Qaeda offshoot threatening to take Baghdad, Maliki...

Friday, June 06, 2014

Ukraine: the truth war

[Heavily edited 10:48 7 June]

There is a war of words going on in the West over Ukraine. A shocking number of people have been taken in by the narratives and outright lies circulating from the Kremlin and its propaganda outlets. The Kremlin's totally unreliable Russia Today (, which regularly gives airtime to antisemites, UKIP, Holocaust deniers, 9/11 truth cultists and Bilderberg conspiracy nutcases, is somehow seen as the fount of "truth" about Ukraine.

Among those circulate Russia Today material and Kremlin misinformation are: the left/right convergence fanzine Counterpunch, Germany's Stalinoid Junge Welt, the paleocon Ron Paul Institute, the Healeyite Trotskyists at the World Socialist Website, the right-wing Russia lobbyist John Laughland, the moonbat news site GlobalResearch, various Orthodox Christian websites, and the British neo-Nazis in the BNP.

In Britain, a large section of the left - most notably Counterfire, Stop the War, Comrade Delta of Unite Against Fascism, the Stalinist Communist Party of Britain, the Stalinoid ex-Trotskyists of Socialist Appeal and the deranged Trotskyists of Workers Power - is re-circulating this misinformation, and many well-meaning leftists and liberals lap it up.

It seems to make no difference to these leftists that they are saying the same things as an important section of the British financial elite, or that they are on the same page as Nigel Farage, Peter Hitchens, Nick Griffin, Marine Le Pen, Jobbik and the rest of the Western European far right.

Shiraz Socialist recently published a statement from anti-fascist magazine Searchlight on some of the unsavoury flavours in this toxic mix, focusing on the allies of the creepy LaRouche network in something laughably called “Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine”, which seeks to channel solidarity towards right-wing, ultra-nationalist, paramilitary thugs in the so-called "People's Republics". While I don't see Searchlight as a reliable source, they seem to be spot-on about this network and about the "Borotba" fake socialist party it promotes.

Of course there are fascist forces on the fringes of the Kiev government (most notably the Right Sector, which received 0.7% of the vote in the recent elections in un-occupied Ukraine). The Kiev government - led by neo-liberal, centre-right oligarchs - is not particularly attractive. But it is not in any sense a "Nazi regime" as the Kremlin narrative puts it.

The so-called "People's Republics", in contrast, are staffed by all kinds of far right forces, most of which are not actually from Ukraine but from across the Russian empire. Timothy Snyder is the most authoritative writer on this topic. In a series of articles in the NYRB and TNR, he has tracked the role of the far right in both Russia and Russian-speaking Ukraine. In the Donetsk "People's Republic", we have people like Pavel Gubarov, of fascist group Russian National Unity, and Aleksander Borodai, a veteran Russian irredentist, antisemite and fascist. In Moscow pulling the strings are people like new right ideologue Alexander Dugin, and antisemitic far right veteran and LaRouche associate Sergei Glayzev.

A month ago, I posted some links to alternative sources from the area, from left and anarchist groups. Here are some more recent pieces from these sources. If you are not inclined to trust the reporters of the "mainstream media" in the West, listen to the voices of the real anti-fascists in Ukraine: