Netstorms is an evolving set of ideas, conversations and projects that are personal, political or professional.
Theresa May tries to present a ‘prime ministerial’ front after the Manchester bombing. She accuses Jeremy Corbyn of saying that terror attacks in Britain are ‘our own fault’. He didn’t say this of course, in fact Corbyn gave a speech that was rather wonderful and all about bringing the nation together. It was the speech of a national leader and is well worth listening to here,
and listening to and reading on the Mirror website.
In his speech Corbyn promises:
There will be more police on the streets under a Labour Government. And if the security services need more resources to keep track of those who wish to murder and maim, then they should get them.
We will also change what we do abroad. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.
That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions.
But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels terrorism.
Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.
Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone. Over the past fifteen years or so, a sub-culture of often suicidal violence has developed amongst a tiny minority of, mainly young, men, falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs and often nurtured in a prison system in urgent need of resources and reform.
And no rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre.
But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.
That’s why I set out Labour’s approach to foreign policy earlier this month. It is focused on strengthening our national security in an increasingly dangerous world.
We must support our Armed Services, Foreign Office and International Development professionals, engaging with the world in a way that reduces conflict and builds peace and security.
Seeing the army on our own streets today is a stark reminder that the current approach has failed.
So, I would like to take a moment to speak to our soldiers on the streets of Britain. You are doing your duty as you have done so many times before.
I want to assure you that, under my leadership, you will only be deployed abroad when there is a clear need and only when there is a plan and you have the resources to do your job to secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace.
That is my commitment to our armed services.
This is my commitment to our country. I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people.
I think this was a defining speech. It defines Jeremy Corbyn as a leader and it defines a better and more honest vision for Britain. Much of the mainstream media however reacded with a kind of knee-jerk condemnation along the lines of Thresa May, pretending that they believed that Corbyn was an apologist for terrorism or at least arguing that although he might be partially right it was not the right thing to say as it was giving comfort to the enemy.
An assumption that people seemed to be making whether they were supportive of or against Corbyn’s speech is that he was saying that because we bombed Iraq and Libya and are bombing in Syria. Corbyn does not if fact say this at that is not the reality. The reality is that the strain of Islam with political and jihadist aspirations that Isis represents, (Wahabbism/Salafism), has been around for a long time and secular governments like those of Sadaam and Gaddafi were keeping them in check because they were seen to be opposed to secular states. When we bombed Iraq and acted as an airforce for Islamists in Libya we destroyed the infrastructure of those countries and set free the jihadist. We are currently supporting anti-Assad forces in Syria and so doing the same to that country as we did to Libya and Iraq. It is not the people who we bombed who are bombing us, it is the jihadists we set free to destroy their countries that are bombing us.
The West has been supporting jihadists since at least the early 1980’s when the US backed jihadists against the Soviet sponsored secular goverenment of Afghanistan.
As a result of this support Afghanistan eventually fell into the hands of the medievalist Taliban. From 2001 the US and their allies have imposed more suffering on the Afghan people in a supposed war against the terrorist group allegedly responsible for the attacks of 9/11.
In 2003 the US and its allies went to war with the Iraqi government of Sadaam Hussain after alleging that he had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and was a threat to his neighbours. No such weapons were found but Iraq’s political and social infrastructure was destroyed and the country was occupied and exploited by western corporations. In place of a stable, if brutal, secular government keeping a lid on the political aspirations of religionists the Western occupiers turned governance over to a Shia dominated government at odds and at war with a Sunni resistance that came to be dominated by the fanatics that became known as Isis or Isil or Daesh.
In 2011 the US, the UK and France used a pretext of humanitarian concern to get UN authorisation to protect rebels in Libya from Gaddafi against whom they were waging a civil war. The mandate was to protect civilians from Gaddafi but the US, UK and France started bombing Gaddafi forces and effectively acting as an air force for the rebels. After the death of Gaddafi the Western powers handed over control to a government that was not strong enough to keep the country together as different groups vied for power. Salafist elements seem to have flourished in the chaos. The Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was a British born member of a Libyan Salafist family, he and they had connections to the Salafists and to Daesh in Libya.
2011 also marked the beginning of the Syrian conflict, a brutal war in which regional powers, notably Saudia Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have supported an armed and predominently Salafist opposition to the government od Bashar al Assad. This armed opposition also got support from the West and without the intervention of Russia would have overrun the government forces and very likely thrown Syria into the kind of chaos we see in Libya.
Why the West supports Salafist terrorism against secular states is best left to another ramble but there is clear evidence that it does. Why then, if we have been enabling them, do Salafist terrorists attack targets in the UK and Europe? It’s because that’s what they do. They carry within them the virus of hate and intolerance, intolerance not only for the secular states in the Middle East that we have armed them to destroy, but for any secular state.
Boris Johnson is so transparently dishonest that it is incredible that anyone who is not completely uninformed believes a word he says. To purport to believe this man, to fail to be reviled at his dishonesty is surely a sign of one’s own dishonesty.
Johnson’s attack on Corbyn for opposing what is clearly a gratuitous ratcheting up of tensions with Russia make clear the distinction of a Tory leadership bent on creating conflict and a Labour leader serious about seeking resolutions to conflict.
This is as good a time as any to remind people about Johnson’s well deserved savaging by the skilled pen of former Tory MP Matthew Parris:
“But there’s a pattern to Boris’s life, and it isn’t the lust for office, or for applause, or for susceptible women, that mark out this pattern in red warning ink. It’s the casual dishonesty, the cruelty, the betrayal; and, beneath the betrayal, the emptiness of real ambition: the ambition to do anything useful with office once it is attained.”
For goodness sake, literally for goddness sake, Boris Johnson and the rest of this dishonest government must be called out for what they are and put out of office.
Even former Tory Prime Minister John Major felt compelled to warn against Johnson:
“Michael Gove wanted to privatise it, Boris wanted to charge people for using it and Iain Duncan Smith wanted a social insurance system,” he said.
“The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.”
Why is this man, so undeserving of public trust, still holding public office?
Graphs in national newspapers based on surveys purporting to come from reputable institutions look impressive but when I clicked on a link that looked at though it was to the ‘Berlin Social Science Centre’ I landed on a google doc which informed me that:
1 “The survey was conceived, implemented and evaluated with the assistance of Heiko Giebler, social scientist at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), department for Democracy and Democratization email@example.com +49 30 25491 513 https://www.wzb.eu/en/about-the-wzb”
(To be explicit the data was not from the BSSC but from ‘a group of organisations’ that was somehow helped by an individual employed there.)
2. “The group of organisations supporting the survey are Planet Syria www.planetsyria.org, Adopt a Revolution www.adoptarevolution.org and The Syria Campaign www.thesyriacampaign.org”
3. Of the 889 respondents 78% were in the 16 – 35 age group, 88% were male and 61% had no children. This does not represent a normal population distribution and any conclusions drawn from the survey must be considered invalid.
It is shameful that a national newspaper uses such data unquestioningly but it should not be entirely surprising. There is a disinformation campaign being conducted against Assad. A January 2014 Guardian article refers to the ‘Caesar photographs’ that claim to provide ‘clear evidence’ of systematic killing of 11,000 detainees. This ‘evidence’ is challenged and the allegations pretty thoroughly refuted in a Counterpunch article. An Amnesty International article published in February of this year makes similar claims of widespread torture but this has been debunked in articles like this from the Land Destroyer blog. I have no idea of how much Assad and his government are really guilty of but unsubstantiated allegations like the Caesar and Saydnaya allegations become part of the mythos demonising Assad. Mud sticks, as it is intended to.
I have been accused of ‘supporting a dictator’. I want to make the following clear:
I don’t support Assad but I don’t support people from outside of Syria demanding that ‘Assad must go’.
I don’t accept that every accusation against Assad and the Syrian government is true just because western mainstream media and politicians (or anyone else left or right) authoritatively say that it is. I reserve the right to challenge assertions and check the facts presented to support those assertions.
I support the right of the Syrian people to choose their own leader and destiny without anyone telling them that they can’t have that one.
I support free and fair elections and the democratic choice of the Syrian people.
In the end I have no first hand knowledge of the situation, the best I can do is listen to what others who have greater access to knowledge are saying and make some assessment based on the consistency and credibility of what they present and what I already understand about the context. I am always willing to be challenged and corrected on anything that I claim.