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Yuletide in Parliament Square – War and Peace

Paul O'Hanlon | 29.12.2012 06:29 | SOCPA | Afghanistan | Analysis | Iraq | London | World

As we approach the New Year whither the prospects for peace? The honourable members of Parliament are on their Christmas break while long term peace campaigner Mrs Barbara Tucker will spend both Xmas and New Year opposite the great facade of democracy at constant peril of arrest and assault.

Yuletide in Parliament Square – War and Peace

The 12 days of Christmas started on Tuesday 25th 2012 and end at Epiphany. Twelfth Night is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking.”

So there you have the cumbersome definition, which sounds like a convoluted Tony Blair answer when he is in the hot seat at some inquiry. Until Monday January 7th 2013 when the `honourable` members return to the house, peace campaigners can relax and contemplate how to campaign against the next war. Who’s next? Is war inevitable and what can be done to stop it?

Syria is being torn apart by a Western fuelled civil war and Iran is in the crosshairs. Syria, a wonderfully hospitable nation and a cradle of civilisation like Iraq has lost some 45,000 of its people in the conflict so far. Pity all those Iraqi refugees who sought and were given shelter in Syria and who will now likely have to move again.

The season of Yuletide sees the `respectable` Members of Parliament on their Xmas break. One person who will not have a two week break in the sun is long term peace campaigner Barbara Tucker. From the sunnier climes of Melbourne she has lived 24/7 in unaccustomed damp and chill opposite the British Houses of Parliament for 7 years during which time she has been arrested 47 times; usually on a charge of `unauthorised demonstration`. Mrs Tucker (the authorities, police, judges, newspapers never give her married title) has been treated for exposure and has lost the feeling in her fingers and has spent time on an intravenous drip. Nevertheless she continues to campaign and intends to stick to her post as the late Brian Haw would have said “For as long as it takes.”

What is war about? The definition of war may be that it is a failure of diplomacy or as Major General Smedley Darlington Butler of the US Marine Corps put it more bluntly “War is a racket”

Major General Butler said: “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

The so called `war on terror` as defined by the Bush administration and his attendant crazies is an obvious absurdity as you cannot have a war on terror which is an abstract noun. Even Barack Obama’s `Overseas Contingency Operations` which so infamously includes the use of drone attacks on Pakistan and Afghanistan doesn’t explain what war is about or what it is for.

Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray who lost his diplomatic posting through speaking out against the torture practiced by the dictator Islam Karimov (including the boiling to death of dissidents) has argued that war is about control of resources. Former US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts said “As the former UK Ambassador Craig Murray disclosed, the purpose of the war [in Afghanistan] is to protect Unocal's interest in the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.”

From `A Gandhian Concept Towards “Conflict Resolution & Peace"`
Vol. IV, No.1, March-August 2011

`Natural resources of many countries have been exploited by these so called developed nations. An independent panel of experts reported to the UN Security Council in October 2002 of how 85 transnational companies based in Europe, the United States and South Africa (including household names such as Barclays bank, De Beers and Anglo-American) had transgressed ethical guidelines in dealing with criminal networks that have pillaged natural resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Countries like Afghanistan and Iraq have almost been ruined through the prolonged wars that have taken place in these countries.

The philosophy of the countries that are mostly responsible for conflicts prevalent in the world today is that to make our country prosperous it is necessary to poke the nose in the affairs of other countries. Moreover, the mentality is that all the good things such as natural resources of other developing and poor countries should come under our control and the responsibility of feeding the population and developing infrastructure and facilities should be rested on the shoulders of the host country.
Looking at the conflict scenario of the world following causes comes to light which by the have always been the cause of human problems according to the ancient Indian wisdom:

1/Lust for Self-aggrandizement
2/Manifestation of Anger
4/Envy and Jealousy`

Gore Vidal the great essayist and silky wit who so sadly passed on in May this year stated that `In the United States there is one political party with two right wings. ` Appearing on the BBC2 `Late Show` in the 1990’s he informed host Michael Ignatieff: “The US congress has two functions; to deal with finance and to make war.”

In his TV mini-series documentary ` Gore Vidal's American Presidency` in 1996 he lamented how in the 1960’s he would seemingly take on the entire American establishment on the then burning issue of the day the Vietnam War.
His opponents would argue that the Chinese were trying to use Vietnam as a bridge to overrun the whole of Asia. When he pointed out that historically the Chinese and the Vietnamese had been enemies and fought many wars the subject would mysteriously change. Oil had been discovered in the region and `we` needed it. Vidal simply replied that “No one in our government had anything so reasonable as theft in mind.”

Vidal argued that it was a war about imperial vanity, or as Noam Chomsky would put it “The smaller the nation the bigger the threat (to the United States)” as success by the weak could inspire others.

Ramsey Clark was former US Attorney general (March 10, 1967 – January 20, 1969 under the Lyndon Baines Johnson [LBJ] administration). Clark was active in the anti-Vietnam war movement and visited Hanoi in 1972 to protest the U.S. bombings there.
He organised war crimes tribunals for George Bush senior and George Bush junior which he outlined in his book `The Fire this Time`.

He brought charges against then US President George H.W. Bush (i.e. George Bush senior) and also General Norman Schwarzkopf, General Colin Powell, then Secretary of State Dick Cheney and then Vice President Dan Quayle. There were dozens of hearings around the globe with some 25 American cities taking part including New York City, New Orleans, Des Moines, San Francisco, Portland (Oregon) and Seattle. Some of these hearings were held in Britain – in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester. A noted British judge Lord Tony Gifford sat on the commission of inquiry but the hearings and meetings received virtually no media attention.

The commission of inquiry also held hearings in Rome, Italy; Madrid, Spain; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway; Brussels, Belgium; Ankara, Turkey; Montreal, Canada; Cairo, Egypt; Tokyo, Japan; Amman, Jordan; Delhi, India; Lahore, Pakistan; Stockholm, Sweden and Sydney, Australia.

At the end of very extensive inquiries the Clark commission found President Bush guilty of crimes against peace and crimes against humanity
In violation of the charter of the United Nations, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the First Protocol thereto, other International agreements and customary international law.
He helped to found the activist group the International Action Center (IAC) based in New York which has produced many books and videos opposing US foreign policy.

Danny Schechter is a Bronx born journalist and activist who has worked for many years in both the mainstream and alternative media. He has written a number of books including an analysis of the US media ` The More You Watch the Less You Know `. Known as the news dissector he writes a daily blog:

His films and documentaries include `WMD Weapons of Mass Deception`, `Plunder` and `In Debt We Trust`.

In `The More you Watch the Less you Know` he describes how in 1977 at a gala banquet in Boston’s Museum of Science he (nervously) asked a question to the recently departed Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about how he could justify himself to his own children after his policies of saturation bombing in South East Asia had resulted in the deaths of 6 million people.

Dr Kissinger was not amused and after a short amazed hush in the conference hall spat out “Meest-er Schechter, it is easy to challenge people who must make tough decisions. I vill not stand here and be lectured by you or any-vun. I have no apologies to make.”

Plans for a post-dinner VIP reception had to be scratched.
A number of Niemans (trainee journalists and presumably admirers of the great Dr K) confronted Danny with comments of “How could you?” and “How ill-mannered!” and “That was a disgusting question!” and “Didn’t you see his son was there?”

Danny thought his career was over but as word got around about the incident it gave him a certain status, he had given the hated Henry a well-deserved moment of indigestion. Heartburn for the heartless!

John Pilger, veteran Australian journalist and film maker resident in London, has made many documentaries critical of Western, especially US and British, policy overseas. His most recent is `The War You Don’t See` which was shown on British TV in December 2010:

Mark Curtis, formerly a researcher at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, has written many books disparaging of Western foreign policy. He has made the point that states don’t go to war for humanitarian reasons which are irrelevant to them.

Perhaps we should consider pro-war journalists like David Aaronovitch, Richard Littlejohn, Nick Cohen and Ann Leslie.

David Aaronovitch, speaking on Radio 4’s `Any Questions` said just before the second assault on Fallujah in November/December 2004 (Operation Phantom Fury) that it was a `grim necessity` - so that the occupation could hold elections. The `grim necessity` destroyed the so-called city of mosques and the after effects of the attack and resulting birth defects were reported in the Guardian by Ross Caputi in October 2012: ` EVER SINCE TWO MAJOR US-LED ASSAULTS DESTROYED THE IRAQI CITY OF FALLUJAH IN 2004, FALLUJANS HAVE WITNESSED DRAMATIC INCREASES IN RATES OF CANCERS, BIRTH DEFECTS AND INFANT MORTALITY IN THEIR CITY. DR CHRIS BUSBY, THE AUTHOR AND CO-AUTHOR OF TWO STUDIES ON THE FALLUJAH HEATH CRISIS, HAS CALLED THIS "THE HIGHEST RATE OF GENETIC DAMAGE IN ANY POPULATION EVER STUDIED. ` Yes, a grim necessity indeed.

Elections tend to be important to occupying powers – they are called `demonstration elections` to try and impress domestic public opinion that the (illegal) war was worth it after all.

Richard Littlejohn is reputedly the highest paid journalist in Britain and once famously said: “Does anyone really give a monkey’s about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them.”

In December 2010, Littlejohn mocked a 20-year-old man with cerebral palsy who was thrown out of his wheelchair by police at a protest.

Veteran hack Ann Leslie, foreign correspondent of the Daily (Hate) Mail appeared in the early hours of Monday 5th September 2011 on `Dateline London` on the BBC News 24 channel; she enthused that the attack on Libya was an `adventure`. She said that she felt `terrific` about the attack. Cameron had done `frightfully well` and was a `riverboat gambler`. She raved about the Brimstone missile which is so pinpoint it could hit a garage which has `Gaddafi sort of weapons` inside and leave the rest of the buildings intact. Here is the programme (26 minutes):

Nick Cohen, a signatory to the `Euston Manifesto` once sent a series of remarkable e-mails to Internet media watchdog site Media Lens one of which was addressed to `Dear Serviles` and another was signed `Viva Joe Stalin`. He did apologise for his facetious reply later saying “Sorry to have taken the Mick.”
(Media Lens asks polite, well informed questions of journalists but is often rebuffed with hostile replies like “Get Stuffed!” or “Get a life!”)

The Daily Mail does have the occasional good article as this rather sympathetic piece on Brian Haw by Quentin Letts shows:

Sadly Brian Haw departed this life on June 18th 2011 after seeing his brave stand opposite the British Houses of Parliament clock up a whole decade. The campaign continues with Barbara Tucker the awesome mother from Oz at the helm. Her hope is that a million people take a week off from their annual leave and descend upon Parliament and by force of numbers make the politicians listen. How realistic is that? It’s easy to be defeatist but there is need for visionaries and idealists who try to make the world a better place.

Do we really have to endure endless `austerity` - that new catch word while at the same time enduring endless war or ` Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace ` to use the title of a Gore Vidal political pamphlet?

Let us be optimistic for the coming year Anno Domini MMX111

Paul O'Hanlon
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