If we didn’t know it before, the upsurge in global protest in the past couple of years has driven home the lesson that mass demonstrations can have entirely different social and political meanings. Just because they wear bandannas and build barricades – and have genuine grievances – doesn’t automatically mean protesters are fighting for democracy or social justice.
From Ukraine to Thailand and Egypt to Venezuela, large-scale protests have aimed at, or succeeded in, ousting elected governments in the past year. In some countries, mass protests have been led by working class organisations, targeting austerity and corporate power. In others, predominantly middle class unrest has been the lever to restore ousted elites.… Seguir leyendo »
It was an “isolated incident”, US officials insisted. The murder of 16 Afghan civilians as they slept, Hillary Clinton declared, was the “inexplicable act” of one soldier. And as Barack Obama and David Cameron prepared to put a public gloss on an earlier end to Nato’s “lead combat” mission in Afghanistan, the US secretary of state pledged to continue “protecting the Afghan people”.
After a decade of ever more degraded Nato occupation, who could conceivably wish for such protection? The slaughter of innocents in Panjwai, nine of them children, follows the eruption of killings and protests after US troops burned copies of the Qur’an last month.… Seguir leyendo »
If Honduras were in another part of the world – or if it were, say, Iran or Burma – the global reaction to its current plight would be very different. Right now, in the heart of what the United States traditionally regarded as its backyard, thousands of pro-democracy activists are risking their lives to reverse the coup that ousted the country’s elected president. Six weeks after the left-leaning Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped at dawn from the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa and expelled over the border, strikes are closing schools and grounding flights as farmers and trade unionists march in defiance of masked soldiers and military roadblocks.… Seguir leyendo »
Barely six months into Barack Obama’s presidency and public tensions between the US and Israel, unthinkable for most of the past two decades, have already spilled over into open recriminations. Israel will not take orders or accept “edicts” from Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has declared, while reportedly branding two of Obama’s most senior aides – Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod – as “self-hating Jews”.
A posse of Obama emissaries has now been dispatched to Jerusalem to smooth Israeli feathers with talk of a “discussion among friends”. In the face of intense Israeli resistance, Obama’s demand for a “complete freeze” on Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is now expected to become a fudge about 2,500 more homes currently under construction.… Seguir leyendo »
‘They have elected a Labour government,” a Savoy diner famously declared on the night of Britain’s election landslide in 1945. “The country will never stand for it.” From the evidence so far coming out of Iran, something similar seems to be happening on the streets of Tehran – and in the western capitals just as desperate to see the back of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Of course the movement behind opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi spreads far beyond the capital’s elite, as did the supporters of Winston Churchill against Clement Attlee. In Iran, it includes large sections of the middle class, students and the secular.… Seguir leyendo »
What do the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy and Israel have in common? They are all either European or European-settler states. And they all decided to boycott this week’s UN conference against racism in Geneva – even before Monday’s incendiary speech by the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which triggered a further white-flight walkout by representatives of another 23 European states.
In international forums, it’s almost unprecedented to have such an undiluted racial divide of whites-versus-the-rest. And for that to happen in a global meeting called to combat racial hatred doesn’t exactly augur well for future international understanding at a time when the worst economic crisis since the war is ramping up racism and xenophobia across the world.… Seguir leyendo »
The British government’s brand new counter-terrorism strategy is already in disarray – and ministers have only themselves to blame. The souped-up plan to fight al-Qaida, confound dirty bombers, halt suicide attacks and confront “extremism” in the country’s Muslim community was unveiled by the prime minister with much fanfare on Tuesday. But even before the 175-page “Contest 2” document had been launched, the credibility of its promise to engage with the Muslim mainstream had been thrown into question by the decision of Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, to cut all links with the Muslim Council of Britain.
Blears had been gunning for the MCB, the country’s main Muslim umbrella body, which has shown increasing independence in recent years, particularly in relation to British foreign policy.… Seguir leyendo »
The armed assault on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Lahore has been a brutal demonstration, if any more were needed, that the war on terror is devouring itself and the states that have been sucked into its slipstream. Pakistan is both victim and protagonist of the conflict in Afghanistan, its western and northern fringes devastated by a US-driven counter-insurgency campaign, its heartlands wracked by growing violence and deepening poverty. The country now shows every sign of slipping out of the control of its dysfunctional civilian government – and even the military that has held it together for 60 years.
Presumably, that was part of the intended message of the group that carried out Tuesday’s terror spectacle.… Seguir leyendo »
By Seumas Milne (THE GUARDIAN, 19/02/09):
I never imagined I would say this, but Stella Rimington is right. The former head of MI5 who made her career running the security service’s dirtiest operations in the 1980s, against the miners’ union and the IRA, has warned that the government has given terrorists the chance to find “greater justification” by making people feel they “live in fear and under a police state”. Naturally, ministers described her remarks as nonsense and accused her of playing “into the hands of our enemies”.
But the damage is done. To have the woman once hailed as Britain’s Queen of Spies accusing the government of recklessly counter-productive authoritarianism carries a special weight – and incidentally turns the traditional relationship between Labour and the secret state on its head.… Seguir leyendo »