Still, Bloody Good Party, Chaps, Eh What?

Was there ever a clearer manifestation of the greed controlling this planet, than the so-called “World Trade Talks” bi-annually argued out to no conclusion in Doha*.

Every two years, well paid representatives from the major trading nations meet to discuss, and hopefully reach agreement, on fair and balanced trade relationships, supposedly with emphasis on assisting third world countries to compete in the world marketplace.

They may stuff themselves silly on exotic food and fine wines, no doubt in plentiful supply from their stinking rich Saudi Arabian hosts; they may enjoy the exotic (and, no doubt, erotic) pleasures of the East in their hotel rooms each night, but they are bloody useless at their job and deserve to be stripped of all entitlements, abandoned in a paddy field somewhere very remote, and told to get on with it. Perhaps, after two or three years of a more basic lifestyle, they’d be a little more willing to reach agreement, having sampled the true delights of agricultural life in a third world nation.

Yet again these talks have broken up without any agreement. [1] Each country is blaming the other, though as usual the United States heads the list of nations with the most, willing to give the least.

It’s a fact of life. The more you have, the less you’re prepared to give away.

*NOTE: The latest round of trade talks was, in fact, held in Geneva, not Doha. The Swiss aren’t quite as rich as the Saudis, but undoubtedly managed to lay on a sumptuous spread and suitable ‘evening entertainment’.

[1] “World trade talks end in collapse” BBC, July 29th 2008

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The Battle For America

Will The Democratic Struggle Be Lost Due To A Clash Of Rascist/Gender Ideals?

Punting around American blogs of late, I’ve been dismayed – and not a little alarmed – by the weight of vehemence displayed towards the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Were this antipathy confined to the rantings of red-neck Republican tomes, it would be understandable. Much of the antagonism, however, is vented by Democrats, and a large proportion of them are women.

It’s understandable that those who supported Hillary Clinton as the nominee should feel disappointment. Having a woman finally elevated to the top job in the White House will be an important milestone, when it eventually happens, and Clinton came close to succeeding, at least in achieving the Democratic nomination.

It would appear from the large number of Clinton supporters writing on the internet, that they are resolved not to confine those feelings to mere regret. Many are actively campaigning against Obama, and some are indicating an intention to vote for the Republican nominee, McCain, because they view the act as some form of protest.

What would cause someone to switch sides so blatantly, solely as an expression of selfish retaliation? After all, attending a ball-game to cheer on your favorite quarterback, only to find he’d been replaced at the last minute by a player the coach regarded as superior, might cause a degree of chagrin but would hardly cause you to switch allegiance and cheer on the opposing team, now would it?

Is the backlash to Clinton’s defeat solely a result of the disappointment suffered by millions of American women hoping their champion would assume command, or is there another, perhaps deeper and somewhat more sinister reason behind this apparently illogical antipathy towards the Democratic presidential nominee?

There were two issues unique to this year’s Democratic nomination process. One concerned the subject of race; the other related to gender. Had only one of these factors been in evidence, or had they both been there but separated by party lines, the situation outlined above would not now be in evidence.

If Obama, or Clinton, had been running for nomination on a Republican ticket, gender versus race would have been heavily obscured by party boundaries. As it was, despite the undercurrent of political correctness pervading this nation, and strangling any open debate on crucial race/gender issues, there were two totally separate battles being fought on the playing fields of primaries and caucuses in America between January and June this year.

Concurrent with the standard political skirmishes of Democrat versus Democrat and Republican versus Republican, was another far more acrimonious conflict – that of black man versus white woman.

The struggle for human rights in America has been ongoing for generations. There have been two major forces in play. One, the black population striving for equality with whites; the other, a battle for woman’s rights and equality with men.

In the past, both issues have existed side by side without serious conflict. Black women fought for their right to equality with men alongside white women. It was easy for both issues to become intertwined on the long hard road to social justice.

All this changed in 2008. In a moment, the cosy relationship disintegrated as two mammoth ideals clashed head-to-head, under the political cover of the Democratic nomination. While the white women of America were content to garner the fruits of their unofficial partnership with Black America, so long as it suited, the endemic gene of white supremacy surfaced with a vengeance once both ideals locked horns on the fields of Democratic primary and caucus.

It was unthinkable that a white woman should lose out to a black man. When it happened, the defeated were unable to accept the enormity of the occurrence. Race is still an endemic problem in the United States, even though the carpet under which it is buried is a thick one. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s okay for African-Americans to fight for equality, but when white Americans have an issue to sort amongst themselves, i.e. a gender battle, the black population should retire and allow white issues to be resolved, before returning to their own struggles. When they refuse to do so, and instead have the temerity to take on white female America head-to-head – and win – the resultant howls of protest, from Maine to Mississippi, are loud indeed.

From now till November the struggle fought in America can only be that of Democrat versus Republican. Those still refusing to accept Barak Obama as the Democratic nominee do no service to themselves, their country, or the world.

The 21st century has brought with it a crossroads that threatens the very existence of our species. For the last eight years, America has dragged itself and the world down into an abyss of self-destruction, powered by greed and a lust for power.

George W Bush has been merely the symbol, but not the cause.

Those who hold the reins of power behind Bush are the true culprits, and the same individuals have now switched their allegiance to another, easily-manipulated individual, John McCain. It is their intent to ensure McCain becomes the symbol, for another eight years.

The time for self-centered retribution is not now. Unless the Democratic party coalesces behind its nominee, Barack Obama, and stands prepared to support him, however contrary to any individual’s views and feelings, it will allow the continuance of neo-conservative policies that have wrecked America and other nations, economically and morally, and brought the world to the very brink of disaster.

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God Bless The ‘Special Relationship’

Few in America will have heard the name, Baha Mousa. That’s a pity, because Baha Mousa was living proof the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the United States is as strong and endurable as ever.

Baha Mousa is no longer ‘living proof’. He’s been dead five years: tortured to death by British troops in Basra, following arrest and detention along with a number of others Iraqis, in September 2003.

Mousa was a hotel receptionist whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s a case that hit the headlines in Britain recently, due to a report from the government’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, stating, amongst other things:

“Not all troops had known “conditioning” techniques such as hooding and sleep deprivation were banned.” [1]

Apparently, British troops have now been informed they mustn’t torture their prisoners, as it’s not a nice thing to do and they could get into trouble.

This is yet another example of blaming the monkeys for the crimes of the organgrinder. Everyone knows soldiers take and obey orders, certainly in the British army. They also carry out those orders without question, whether in agreement, or not.

The decision to torture Baha Mousa and his compatriots came, not from some lowly NCO on the ground, but from way up high in the top ranks of officialdom.

The methods used were almost identical to those employed by the US military in Iraq, which leaves one wondering just how high up the ladder of power it’s necessary to climb in order to find the source of such orders?

It’s now considered likely, though not yet proved beyond doubt, that Donald Rumsfeld was responsible for issuing the go-ahead for torture and abuse that led to the scandal of Abu Ghraib.

We can also be sure, particularly in the early years of the invasion, that US leaders and their British counterparts were in constant contact, exchanging information and ideas.

This leads to the inevitable conclusion that a member of the British government was the likely instigator of a decision to relax the rules regarding ‘conditioning techniques’ (as torture is antiseptically referred to in political circles) and points a finger at the then Minister of Defence, Geoff Hoon.[2]

A public inquiry is to take place in Britain soon into the death of Baha Mousa. According to the present Defence Minister, Des Browne:

“We acknowledge that in 2003 some of the conditioning techniques were used on a small number of detainees.

“This should not have happened and we need to know how it came about. That is why I endorse the terms of the inquiry wholeheartedly.”

Will Geoff Hoon be called to give evidence? And, in that unlikely event, can he be relied on to tell the truth?

Sifting the facts, it seems likely both the US and British military were under orders to obtain as much information as they could from their captives, and as quickly as possible, using whatever interrogation methods proved successful. Both the US and UK intelligence services had failed utterly in providing accurate pre-invasion intelligence. As a result, the military of both nations had become bogged down in an insurgency they, for reasons difficult to comprehend, had not anticipated.

Both the British army and US military were expected to fill the ‘intelligence’ gaps, and were given carte blanche from their respective governments to achieve a result.

While the US military amused itself piling naked Iraqis on top of each other in Abu Ghraib prison, and photographed themselves doing it, the British in Basra were conducting their own entertainment, by hooding, beating, and suffocating their Iraqi prisoners.

It’s good to know the ‘special relationship’ is alive and flourishing.

Unfortunately, Baha Mousa isn’t.

[1] “MPs ‘misled’ over interrogation” BBC, July 27th 2008

[2] Wikipedia “Geoffrey William Hoon”

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