A change of tune

This is William Hague today on Syria, discussing the threat posed by some of the hundreds of people from Britain who have gone to fight in Syria soon returning home, radicalised and trained for terrorism.

The longer it goes on the greater these dangers are. That’s why promoting a political solution there is so important.

But. Since the start of this conflict Mr Hague has been precisely not doing that. He has been actively supporting one side in the military conflict. By demanding (contrary to Geneva 1) that Assad step down he gave diplomatic support which encouraged the opposition to believe in a military victory. By focussing purely on the wrongs of Assad and never on the opposition he continually supported the opposition in its belief that a military victory is the solution. He has supplied the opposition with military equipment. (‘Non-lethal’ is a euphemism. If Britain supplies the flak jackets, Jeeps and night vision goggles acting in concert with Saudi Arabia who supplies machine guns then Britain is arming the opposition for war). Britain is almost certainly providing military training and intelligence to the armed opposition. In other words since the start of this conflict Mr Hague’s policies have been precisely to achieve a military victory for the opposition and a toppling of Assad. His policies have massively prolonged this war. These policies have led to enormous suffering for Syrians. They also seem to have created a new domestic terrorist threat.

What is the root of this ‘policy’? It appears that after their abuse of the UN resolutions and their quick intervention in Libya these leaders of our ‘democracies’ thought that a quick military victory would be possible in Syria too. This isn’t a well thought-out sinister plan for world domination. This looks more like greedy, stupid, bungling. In Libya there was the unpleasant sight of France and the UK competing with each other to support the armed opposition (who was opposing the regime they were supporting and selling weapons to a few weeks before) so as to win contracts from them when they got into power. These military interventions for regime change (Iraq, Libya, the attempt in Syria) all lead to chaos and huge suffering for the people in these countries. It doesn’t work.  Look at Libya now. A mess. Look at Iraq. The project has failed in Afghanistan too. The idea that you can bomb your way to a ‘prosperous democracy’ is foolish. One may wonder why they keep repeating the same mistake. Part of the answer must be that while they don’t get the ‘outcome’ they tell the people they are aiming for, and which no doubt they convince themselves they are aiming for, they and their corporate buddies, are still making a killing out of it all. Even when they fail to achieve the stated objectives all these conflicts are fantastic for the arms industry, for all sorts of firms who contract to the armies, for the aid industry, for the oil businesses. They present endless new opportunities to launder the tax dollars of Western tax-payers to corporate profits. They sustain the unstable and chaotic system of Western capitalism for a while longer.

It leaves people like Mr Hague making silent volte faces. But the Western media by and large won’t so much as raise a murmur. They are completely on-side with the project. For example for a while Reuters included the following text in almost every story they ran on Syria:

It began in March 2011 when the government tried to crush pro-democracy protests and eventually became a full-scale war.

A line which was clearly intended to support the political narrative of ‘nasty Assad crushing a democracy movement’ and thus support Western intervention. They’ve dropped it now. Probably because a military intervention is no longer on the cards.

So. The Western, capitalist, war-machine blunders on. For how much longer?


Stop organising terrorism

In response to the attacks in Volgograd David Cameron has “tweeted” that:

I’m shocked and saddened by the Volgograd attacks. I’ve written to President Putin to say the UK will help Russia in whatever way we can.

Whatever the circumstances they never miss the populist and emotive PR tweet do they?

The main point though is that there are plenty of ways that David Cameron and his allies could help. Here are some ideas:

  • Stop giving diplomatic and military support to one faction in the Syrian civil war. This hasn’t led to a ‘victory’ for the West’s favoured candidates to rule Syria. It has though prolonged the war and the longer it is prolonged the more international jihadist groups flourish there.
  • Stop abusing UN resolutions. Respect international norms. Don’t break any more UN resolutions. As you abused the resolutions on Libya.
  • Don’t collaborate with other parties such as the French who supplied the ‘rebels’ in Libya with weapons

Jail for threatening to be annoying

This is not a joke.

This is Part 1 1) 2) of the Anti-social crime and Policing Bill. It describes the circumstances under which an IPNA (Injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance) can be awarded. IPNAs are the new ASBOs.

The first condition is that the court is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities,
that the respondent has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of
causing nuisance or annoyance to any person (“anti-social behaviour”).

IPNAs can be awarded to young people from the age of 10.

The state of Youth Work.

Tony Taylor (pictured), a leading light in the In Defence of Youth Work campaign has written a piece critical of some recent developments in youth work.

This is an enjoyable romp through the current desperate state of youth work in the UK. Taylor points to some truly chilling developments such as the psychologisation of youth work. A think-tank (the Young Foundation) has produced a psychological tool which is being adopted by some national organisations to inform how youth work should proceed. The work appears to have been sponsored by The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, The National Youth Agency, Social Enterprise UK and the Young Foundation itself.