Author Topic: lighting candles, not cursing darkness - Stop The War 10 years on ...  (Read 22459 times)

Phil Talbot

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Stopping 21st Century Catastrophe - lighting candles, not cursing darkness,

by Alan Trotter

It is a sad fact that the hopes and optimism we all had for a peaceful future at the turn of the century were soon ravaged by our elected gangsters.

As we look back to the beginnings of the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war and its consequences what do we see?

We see a terrible catalogue of:
+ illegal invasions
+ destruction
+ lies
+ death
+ use of cluster bombs and other terrible weapons
+ slaughter
+ abuse of human rights at Guantanamo Bay and other torture camps
+ more lies
+ rape
+ murder
+ carnage
+ more torture
+ dodgy dossiers, non-existent ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and other dishonest reasons for war
+ billions of pounds wasted on war during times of financial crisis
+ even more lies ...

And, while all this early 21st century catastrophe has been going on most of the professional media has been backing up the government in justifying illegal invasions and occupations and other outrages.

To those in positions of power and influence, the human cost does not seem to have any importance any more.

If a British soldier is killed it ranks fourth or fifth item on National news and is reported in seconds, it doesn’t seem to matter that this soldier has family and friends who will be grieving.

The individual outrages should not be forgotten.

Who could forget the pitiful enduring image of ‘little Ali’ Abbass who’s horrific injuries shocked the civilized world?

And there was the outrageous killing of John Charles de Menezes, an innocent man on his way to work in London. 

Perhaps the most shameful images were of civilians being abused by soldiers - Lynndie England humiliating a naked detainee and using dogs as part of their torture technique.

When George Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan who would know the dreadful consequences and where his 'war on terror' - AKA 'overseas contingency operation' - will end?

Throughout these fearful years The Stop the war Coalition has worked relentlessly, with their partners in the wider peace movement, to keep the public informed of the truth of what is happening in their name.

What does the future hold for us all?

In these days of unrelenting cutbacks we cannot afford this madness of wholesale slaughter.   

It is difficult to remain constantly optimistic, but there is a saying that 'it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness'.

We must act and think positive:
+ get all our troops back home
+ stop the deliberate targeting of the Muslim community
+ show tolerance and create cultural, social and economic welfare that are in the interests of all
+ create a truly anti-war government and society.

Alan Trotter   

Phil Talbot

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Re: lighting candles, not cursing darkness - Stop The War 10 years on ...
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2011, 05:16:55 PM »
Stop the War - 10 years on, and still going ...

10 Years of 'opposing pro-war governments' in Britain and elsewhere - while instead striving to build movements to end 'Crimes Against Peace' ...

On Tuesday, September 27, 2011, at Trinity House Social Centre, in Laygate, South Shields, a small group of supporters of South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition held a forum between 7.30pm and 9.00pm.

They were a small part of a large wider movement that has developed over last 10 years in Britain and elsewhere to oppose successive wars launched by various governments - starting with the American-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

Following the attack on the Twin Towers and other places in September 2001, U.S. president Bush and British prime minister Blair launched what they called a 'war on terror' - using the attack on key American structures on 11 September 2011 as an excuse to launch their own weapons of mass destruction against populations and cities of Afghanistan, Iraq and other places.

They invaded and occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries - and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (including thousands of troops from Britain and America sent to kill and be killed) in the name of 'preserving our ways of life'.

The occupation of Afghanistan continues after 10 years - one of the longest foreign intervention wars of the 'big powers' in modern times - and, quite obviously a 'failure' (by any definition of that word).

Recently, in Libya, under the leadership of Britain, France, the USA, and other NATO powers, yet another sovereign country has been bombed and plunged into chaos - resulting in the killing of many thousands people in bombing raids (the details of which have been largely unreported in the mainstream western media).

The bombing of Libya - and consequent death and destruction - was a concerted attack on one of the most modern countries in Africa - which, whatever the rights and wrongs of its regime, was a nation whose people had a high standard of living, and which was at the forefront of the (post-European empire) 'African Union' movement.

This aggressive war (masked as a 'liberation struggle') by the NATO powers seems in reality to have been motivated by their own supposed strategic interests - in short, re-colonising Africa (under European and American influence), with consequent control of oil, financial and other resources.

Mr Bush and Mr Blair launched their wars of conquest - under the 'false flag' banner of the 'war on terror' - mostly in of the Middle East.

Now (the supposedly 'modern liberal cosmopolitan champion') Mr Obama and (the rather more old fashioned Eton-educated British imperialist) Mr Cameron seem intent on extending the Bush-Blair wars into Africa and elsewhere.

The discussion forum of the small town anti-war group South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition was held  to mark the tenth anniversary of the stop the war movement's opposition to Britain’s pro-war governments.

In marking this anniversary, we also looked toward the next 10 years of the anti-war movement - with the aim to further build the movement to end these crimes against peace and to bring about an anti-war government in Britain.

We aim for a government that stands for:
• the peaceful resolution of international conflicts.
• bringing all troops home from foreign soil.
• withdrawing Britain from NATO.

We encourage all people to join the ongoing discussion of these issues ...

Phil Talbot

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Re: lighting candles, not cursing darkness - Stop The War 10 years on ...
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2011, 05:18:35 PM »

20 Septembe 2011

The Golden Rule Of State Violence: Terrorism Is What They Do; Counterterrorism Is What We Do

A defining feature of state power is rhetoric about a ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ role in world affairs. Errors of judgement, blunders and tactical mistakes can, and do, occur. But the motivation underlying state policy is fundamentally benign. Reporters and commentators, trained or selected for professional ‘reliability’, tend to slavishly adopt this prevailing ideology.
Thus, on the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an editorial in the Independent on Sunday gushed about ‘Bush's desire to spread democracy as an end in itself’. It was, the paper said, ‘the germ of a noble idea’. There was  ‘an idealism’ about Blair’s support for Bush. The drawback was that the execution of the righteous vision had been ‘naive, arrogant and morally compromised by torture and the abrogation of the very values for which the US-led coalition claimed to fight’.
But now we have Nato’s ‘successful’ mission in Libya to help wipe the slate clean. The paper writes that ‘the deserts of North Africa ... turned out to be more fertile soil for democracy than could have been imagined.’ Libya is the great cause ‘where the idea of liberal intervention could be rescued and to an extent redeemed from the terrible mistake of Iraq.’
Note that the invasion-occupation of Iraq is described as a ‘mistake’, not the supreme international crime as judged by the standards of the post-WW2 Nuremberg Trials.
The horrendous murder of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi civilian, by British soldiers ‘was a reminder of how much the Iraq war tarnished Britain's reputation abroad.’ The implication is that Britain’s ‘reputation’ is fundamentally decent, only occasionally ‘tarnished’.
The paper concludes:
‘there is a hope that Britain, with a more realistic understanding of its capability, could regain some of the ethical role in the world that it lost after its mistaken response to 9/11.’
In the wake of all that has happened in the past ten years (and more), it takes a committed form of self-deception to cling to the shredded image of Britain’s ‘ethical role in the world’.
In several powerful books, based on careful research of formerly secret UK government documents, historian Mark Curtis has laid bare the motivations and realpolitik of British foreign policy. Ethics and morality are notable in these internal state records by their absence. Curtis observes:
‘a basic principle is that humanitarian concerns do not figure at all in the rationale behind British foreign policy. In the thousands of government files I have looked through for this and other books, I have barely seen any reference to human rights at all. Where such concerns are evoked, they are only for public-relations purposes.’ (Unpeople, Vintage, 2004, p. 3)
But the myth of benevolence must be maintained, even to the extent of active deception of the British public:
 ‘in every case I have ever researched on past British foreign policy, the files show that ministers and officials have systematically misled the public. The culture of lying to and misleading the electorate is deeply embedded in British policy-making.’ (Ibid., p. 3)
In his political work, Noam Chomsky often cites a definition of terrorism from a US army manual as:
‘the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature. This is done through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.’
By this definition, Chomsky points out, the major source of international terrorism is the West, notably the United States.
As for Britain, Curtis says:
‘The idea that Britain is a supporter of terrorism is an oxymoron in the mainstream political culture, as ridiculous as suggesting that Tony Blair should be indicted for war crimes. Yet state-sponsored terrorism is by far the most serious category of terrorism in the world today, responsible for far more deaths in many more countries than the "private" terrorism of groups like Al Qaida. Many of the worst offenders are key British allies. Indeed, by any rational consideration, Britain is one of the leading supporters of terrorism in the world today. But this simple fact is never mentioned in the mainstream political culture.’ (Web of Deceit, Vintage, 2003, p. 94)
In Unpeople, Curtis estimates the number of deaths in the post-WW2 period for which Britain bears significant responsibility, whether directly or indirectly. He tabulates mortality estimates for all the wars and conflicts in which Britain participated or otherwise played a significant role, for example in covert operations or diplomatic support for other governments’ violence. The examples include: war in Malaya (1948-1960), war in Kenya (1952-1960), the Shah’s regime in Iran (1953-1979), Indonesian army slaughters (1965-1966), the Indonesian invasion of East Timor (1975), US aggression in Latin America (1980s), the Falklands War (1982), the bombing of Yugoslavia (1999), the bombing of Afghanistan (2001) and the invasion of Iraq (2003).
As Curtis acknowledges, estimates of deaths in any conflict often vary widely and he does not pretend to be offering a ‘fully scientific analysis’. But erring on the side of caution, he arrives at a figure of around ten million deaths in the post-war period for which Britain bears ‘significant responsibility.’ Of these, Britain has ‘direct responsibility’ for between four and six million deaths. These are shocking figures, and essentially unmentionable in corporate news and debate.

The Doublespeak Of Terror/Counterterror
One of the golden rules propping up the required self-deception of the West’s fundamental goodness is that whenever violence is inflicted by the state it is only in retaliation for violence perpetrated by our enemies. This is straight out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Edward Herman explains:
‘[An] important doublespeak device for rationalizing one’s own and friendly terrorism is to describe it as “retaliation” and “counter-terror.” The trick here is arbitrary word assignment: that is, any violence engaged in by ourselves or our friends is ipso facto retaliation and counter-terrorism; whatever the enemy does is terrorism, irrespective of facts.’ (Beyond Hypocrisy: Decoding the News in an Age of Propaganda, South End Press, 1992, p. 44)
The notion is so pervasive in news reporting that it is virtually invisible, like the oxygen breathed by the journalist; it is simply taken for granted. Even raising the topic for discussion in mainstream circles is beyond the pale.
Consider a recent report on the BBC News at Ten. On September 7, 2011, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner reported from outside the Houses of Parliament:
‘When these anti-terrorist crash barriers went up outside Parliament back in 2003, a lot of people were shocked at the time. But we’ve got used to them. They’re a part of the world we live in.’
Gardner continued:
‘There is no clear answer as to whether we’re safer now in Britain from terrorism than we were ten years ago. We know more about the threat we’re facing but those threats have multiplied and diversified.
‘The mass hostage-taking and murder in Mumbai three years ago has led to joint police-SAS training and a major boost in police firepower.’
Gardner granted that ‘counterterrorism is also about foreign policy’, pointing out the obvious fact that ‘Britain’s part in the Iraq invasion helped recruit countless young men to al-Qaeda’s cause, increasing the danger to Britain.’ Indeed, this was a known risk before the invasion: Blair was warned by the Joint Intelligence Committee that al-Qaeda and associated groups were 'by far the greatest terrorist threat' to this country and that the risk would be 'heightened by military action against Iraq'. Gardner's report neglected to mention this.
His news item, and an accompanying article the next day at BBC News online, was framed in the necessary traditional convention: that terrorism is what they do, while ‘we’ undertake counterterrorism.
On September 8, 2011, we wrote to the BBC’s security correspondent:
Dear Frank Gardner,
I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for your report on last night’s BBC News at Ten. You rightly referred to the attacks on Bali, Madrid, London, Mumbai and Oslo as examples of terrorism. But you neglected to mention any examples involving US killings of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Here is but one example from 2006 in the Iraqi town of Ishaqi. At least ten civilians – including four women and five children - were bound and executed with shots to the head:
Nor did you mention the Israeli offensive against Gaza in Operation Cast Lead, with the deaths of around 1,400 civilians (including 300 children), or the attack on a peaceful convoy led by the Mavi Marmara.
Why do you follow a script that says that violence conducted by officially-decreed enemies is ‘terrorism’, while violence inflicted by Western states or our allies is ‘counter-terrorism’?
I hope to hear from you, please.
David Cromwell
Not hearing anything back, we nudged Frank Gardner gently on September 12 via email and again two days later.  We then received an email from someone at the BBC called Paul Rasmussen:
Hello David
I understand you have been in touch about some BBC News reporting.  If you wish to make a complaint - you will need use the BBC complaints procedure - if you are not familiar with how to do this please let me know.  Yours,  Paul Rasmussen
(Email, September 14, 2011)
We responded the same day:
Hello Paul,
Many thanks for your email. Has Frank Gardner been in touch with you?
I asked Mr Gardner to respond to a perfectly fair challenge about a report he made on last Wednesday's BBC News at Ten, and I hope he'll feel able to do so.
Best wishes,
We received no reply. The following day, still not having heard from Gardner, we emailed the BBC correspondent again:
Dear Frank Gardner,
I know how busy you must be. But it’s now one week on, and it’s disappointing that you are seemingly reluctant to reply to a serious, polite and reasonable email from a member of the public. I’m not seeking to make an official BBC complaint about your report; I’m simply asking you to respond to a straightforward query.
If you would rather remain silent, it lends credence to the point that your reporting does have an ideological stance: namely, that the UK state and its allies cannot be charged with terrorism, only counter-terrorism.
I’d be grateful if you would at least try to respond to this charge directly, rather than meet it with silence or any attempt to divert it into the BBC complaints system [see here and here].
David Cromwell (Email, September 15, 2011)
This was clearly too much for any self-respecting journalist to resist. A reply duly arrived that day from ‘Frank Gardner OBE’:
Dear Mr Cromwell
You rightly guess that I am too busy to answer the many people who write in with interesting and often excellent questions. The online version of my 9/11 report is attached [i.e. linked below]. I believe it is fair, accurate and balanced but if you disagree then do please feel free to file a complaint to the BBC, backing it up with evidence. Im afraid that as with other members of the public I am not in a position to enter into a correspondence.
Yours sincerely
Frank Gardner OBE
BBC Security Correspondent
Gardner’s dismissive response, seemingly squeezed out of him, is poor fare indeed. There is no meaningful attempt to debate the serious point we put before him. If we were to respond in the same offhand way to polite challengers, and tried to shepherd them towards a Media Lens complaints department, we would be justly ridiculed.
Recall that the BBC - which is state-funded, managed by state-approved appointees, and overseen by a cosy club of establishment worthies - is always declaring itself to be scrupulously ‘impartial’. Fundamental criticism of the state is protected by this shield of  ‘impartiality’. How?  By taking for granted that ‘we’ in the West are, by definition, the ‘good guys’.
As we said at the start of this alert, the prevailing ideology holds that the West may be guilty of occasional ‘lapses’, but that it endeavours with a good heart to export democracy, uphold human rights and keep the global peace. This false and poisonous propaganda image - carefully cultivated and assiduously pushed by powerful interests - can never be seriously challenged by the state broadcaster and the corporate media generally. And certainly not when the state broadcaster’s ‘security correspondent’ has had an honour bestowed upon him by the same state.
If this was the old Soviet Union, or perhaps present-day Iran, there would be howls of mirth and outrage from respectable commentators in Britain. That it is happening right here, in this ‘beacon of democracy and free speech’, is apparently no cause for concern or even comment in ‘mainstream’ circles.

The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.
Please write to:
John Mullin, editor of the Independent on Sunday
Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent
James Stephenson, BBC News at Ten editor
Please blind-copy us in on any exchanges or forward them to us later at:

Phil Talbot

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Re: lighting candles, not cursing darkness - Stop The War 10 years on ...
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2011, 05:21:31 PM »
The Stop The War movement was set up 10 years ago specifically to oppose the so-called 'war on terror' - a concept that was  nonsensical contradiction in terms from the start

The 'war on terror' might be well defined as
+ a profitable racket for the arms and 'security' (sic) corporations
+ a violent excerise in paranoid fantasy
+ a costly episode of out-moded cultural and economic imperialism
+ a terrible distraction from financial crises and corruption in high places
+ a horrible waste of lives, time, money and human potential

Phil Talbot

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Re: lighting candles, not cursing darkness - Stop The War 10 years on ...
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2011, 05:26:05 PM »
Stopping Yesterday's Wars Today and Tomorrow

Though in Britain we have elections only occasionally, in a truly free and democratic country, every day is a kind of "election day".

Through our collected individual choices, our collected individual belief systems, and our collected individual actions, we collectively drive our nation into the future.

Recognizing that we are ultimately responsible for the actions of our country, anti-war groups such as Stop The War continue to promote foreign and domestic policies that places a priority on internationally-recognized principles.

Acknowledging the dangerous shortcomings of narrow, militaristic responses to terrorism, we continue to encourage a collaborative effort to bring those responsible for breaches of internatinal law to justice.

We call attention to threats to civil liberties, human rights, and other freedoms at home and abroad as a consequence of war and our government's responses to terrorism - recognizing that it is our duty to defend those principles in our own lives and in our own communities.

We continue to promote dialogue with the public on issues of war and peace, including alternatives to war and the underlying causes of violence, including terrorism - recognizing the necessity for honest debate and the power of good faith human communication.

We support movments of people around the world who are seeking non-violent responses to all forms of terrorism - by states and individuals within them - recognizing that mutual success will benefit us and future generations everywhere.

Most of all, we continue to acknowledge our fellowship with all people affected by violence and war.

We recognizing all fellow human beings as brothers and sisters in a human struggle that transcends politics, nationality or religious affiliation and is central to our continued co-existence.

In a free society, we are all responsible for the actions taken by the people we call our 'leaders'.

In a truly democratic society, we lead our so-called 'leaders' - not them us.

Today, and every day, we acknowledge our individual responsibility to lead our leaders toward creating a society in which we want to live -  a society that lives up to the possibilities of human potentional, and means no one has to live in states of terror, fear, violence and unnecessary death.

Phil Talbot

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Re: lighting candles, not cursing darkness - Stop The War 10 years on ...
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2011, 05:45:08 PM »
Ongoing Costs of 'War on Terror'

·   COSTS IN LIVES LOST - The number of lost human lives is not actually known to any degree of certainty - because [to cover up the scale of their own violent acts] the American and British governments 'don't do body counts' - but it is fact that hundreds of thousands have died, most of them unarmed civilians, many by invading and occupying powers.

·   COSTS IN INJURIES AND OTHER TRAUMAS - Again there are no precise figures available, but they must be in the hundreds of thousands, even perhaps millions.

·   EMOTIONAL COSTS - Including people traumatized and brutalized by the violence and including the grief of victims' families.

·   MORAL COSTS - Including a general brutalization and blunting of moral sensibility - in a world in which murder, violence, arbitrary arrest, and torture are being done on a huge scale in the travestied name of 'protecting freedom and democracy'.

·   COSTS IN TERMS OF REDUCED CIVIL LIBERTY - The 'war on terror' is increasing rather than reducing the 'terror problem', and the big government responses - essentially: increasing state power and reducing civil liberties - further 'terrorizes' many sections of the population.

·   COSTS OF THE 'SLOW POISONING' OF PUBLIC DISCOURSE - By, for example, the demonization of entire ethnic, religious and political groups - and the type-casting 'them' as 'the enemy' who 'threaten our way of life'.

·   COSTS IN TERMS OF PUBLIC TRUST - We were lied to about the reasons for war.  We have been lied to about the details of the war.  More and more people just don't believe a word they are told about anything anymore - and while 'scepticism' might be healthy, the present extreme levels of 'cynicism' seem unhealthy.

·   COSTS IN TERMS OF WORSENING 'GLOBAL INSECURITY' - The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the wider 'war on terror' have worsened the 'terror problem' and opened up a violent 'can of worms'.  It is a fact of life that 'those to whom violence is done tend to do violence in return'.

·   COSTS OF THE WRECKING OF INTERNATIONAL LAW - America and Britain have set terrible examples to the rest of the world.  Via the Iraq war, America - aided and abetted by Britain - has torn up established conventions of modern international law ... and returned the world to a dark age of rule by force, imprisonment without trial, and torture chambers ... and all in the travestied names of 'freedom' and 'democracy'.

·   ECONOMIC COSTS - These are huge, but almost incalculable. A few people have clearly benefited - most obviously those personally gaining from profits made by oil, military, security corporations - but for most people the war has been a loss-making affair. In so far as estimates of monetary costs have been made, it is generally in terms of the direct cost to U.S. and U.K. tax-payers.  Such estimates produce big numbers ... billions ... tens of billions ... even trillions ... of dollars ... numbers so big as to be more or less incomprehensible to most people.  But these big number tax costs are in fact small proportions of the wider economic costs - which include: the effects of disruptions to trade due to global instability; the effects of fuel price volatility; the effects of diversion of investment resources; etc. Meanwhile, far from being 'reconstructed', the economies of occupied nations have effectively been destroyed.

·   COSTS IN TERMS OF LOST OPPORTUNITIES - War should be a relic of the past, as should violent imperialism.  But with the attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, we have lost the opportunity to start a new century with fresh, more civilized, modes of international behaviour. The best way to reduce the 'terror problem' is not to behave in a terrorist manner ourselves.

Phil Talbot

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Re: lighting candles, not cursing darkness - Stop The War 10 years on ...
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2011, 06:19:54 PM »
'for the people, by the people'

By Doreen Henderson

In 1945 I punched the air - a Labour Party had been elected with a large majority: 'socialism here we come!'

But disappointment soon followed - they supposedly nationalised the pits, but compensated the owners for the years they had bled the pitmen.

Then I thought:  'Don't jump to conclusions, give them time -  see if they compensate anyone when they nationalise the banks and the land' - as you would have expected them to do, but they didn't.

A golden opportunity was lost forever - the people were ready for socialism then and would have backed the government 100 per cent.

If that had happened, I am sure we would not be in the situation we are today

I cannot see a solution to this present world wide financially mess, as it needs a moral solution and morals don't fit into the capitalist bankers' equation.

Capitalism has finally shot itself in the foot as was bound to happen.

It has out-stripped viability with greed, and will not solve the problem.

When greed is still its only motive they cannot function.

And unless we the working class refuse to  help them we cannot win

Governments are now another form of big business and are motivated by greed - and act as any big business does, only they have greater power over the mass of the population.

And it is the mass of the population who have to pay every time with wage cuts, job losses, education cuts, etc.

We will go on paying until we realize we have the power to charge the people who made the mess to start repaying monies they took wrongly.

This government which is run by overgrown school boys work on the principle of trial and error - and error prevails!

I do not know what the solution is under the present system - as the Labour Party is so close to the Tories in hit and miss politics.

Until we get back to the principles of government 'for the people, by the people' I see no rescue.