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War and Remembrance: About Patria, Pageants and Poppies

William Bowles | 21.11.2009 22:46 | Anti-militarism | Globalisation | Other Press | World

Capitalism needs an enemy, real or invented and the demise of communism deprived them of a handy hook onto which they could hang the planet.

All the ‘war on terror’ has done is terrorize everybody and drag us deeper and deeper into the quagmire of the ‘new world order’.

From the former Yugoslavia to Somalia the Anglo-Saxon Empire is busy turning the planet into a graveyard.

Gordon Brown delivers the annual foreign policy speech at Lord Mayor's banquet
Gordon Brown delivers the annual foreign policy speech at Lord Mayor's banquet

“Britain's last surviving World War I veteran shunned Remembrance Day commemorations Wednesday because he was against the glorification of war” — ‘Britain's last WWI veteran shuns Remembrance Day’

After eight years and tens of thousands of Afghan casualties, the occupiers are settling down to a war of unknown duration. And contrary to Brown’s earlier declarations that ‘al-Qu’eda’ was operating out of Afghanistan, Brown, all-dressed up for the Lord Mayor’s banquet told the assorted ‘dignitaries’,

“Mr Brown has acknowledged that al-Qaeda is not operating in Afghanistan but cautioned that it continued to recruit and train.

“Al-Qaeda rely on a permissive environment in the tribal areas of Pakistan and - if they can re-establish one - in Afghanistan," Mr Brown warned.

“He said there were "several hundred" foreign fighters still based in the tribal areas of northern Pakistan, attending training camps to learn bomb-making and weapons skills.”” — ‘Brown plans Afghan handover talks’, BBC News Website, 17 December, 2009

But the real thrust of Brown’s attempt to resuscitate the British Empire is revealed by the following.

“At every point in our history where we have looked outwards, we have become stronger.

“And now, more than ever, there is no future in what was once called ‘splendid isolation’.”

And just in case we don’t get the message, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Robbins is more than willing to do the Empire’s dirty work telling us,

“But the prime minister also made clear that he regards Britain's military presence as vital to protect ordinary people at home from plots hatched in Pakistan by al-Qaeda extremists, who would spread back into Afghanistan if allowed the opportunity to do so.”

And very conveniently, the self-same Mr Robbins adds this final para,

“The prime minister said the security services in Britain were reporting to him that there was now an opportunity to inflict significant and long-lasting damage on al-Qaeda.”

Well, that’s that isn’t it? Slaughtering Afghans is about protecting the ‘homeland’ from “plots” devised by those dastardly ‘al-Qu’eda’ who by his own admission are not even in Afghanistan! But these are desperate times for the Empire as opposition to Brown’s barbarian occupation grows even within his own ranks. These gangsters are so incompetent that they make stuff up as they go along!

Not so the ‘loyal opposition’ with both Tory and Lib-Dem continuing to support the UK’s colonial war of conquest.

Of course the song and dance about ‘our boys over there’ is nothing new especially when from the UK’s perspective, the entire enterprise is going pear-shaped in the public’s mind. I’m also sure that there is a direct correlation between the number of poppies on display and the increasing desperation of our barbarian political elite as they seek to patriotize the illegal and murderous invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

Yes, it is disgusting that working class British boys and girls are sacrificing their lives for the Empire. On the other hand they belong to a professional army, paid to kill and be killed, so as regrettable as it is that some are dying (in minute numbers compared to the slaughter they have rained down on Iraq and continue to do so in Afghanistan), they knew the deal when they signed up. I mean come on, look at all these MoD adverts extolling the virtues of shooting people in far-off places, like this MoD promo advertizing the excitement of being a sniper.

It’s interesting conundrum for the political elite whose ‘peace-keeping’ enterprises always end in horrific bloodshed. Luckily there’s five hundred year’s worth of imperial wars to draw on when it comes to pushing the Patria button. It’s a button that G. Brown has been pushing a lot recently, defending the white cliffs against the heathen hordes, blah-blah, and the media have been only too happy push out the patria to the populace. Yet in spite of the poppy onslaught on the public,

“Only 12 percent of Europeans claim to trust the media, compared to 15 percent of North Americans, 29 percent of Pacific Asians and 48 percent of Africans, the BBC has found.” — ‘Does Biased News Have a 'Time Bomb' Effect?’

And the percentage of those who favour a complete pullout of Afghanistan immediately, is steadily rising with around 75% saying we should get out (sometime soon? who knows with these surveys?). Something else is going on here, some kind of synergy is at work, beset as we are by endless wars, economic collapse and climate catastrophe and all at once. Perhaps it’s a step too far?

Clearly the poppy ain’t working the way it should, not even the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall has made much difference, if anything it has had the opposite effect. The promise of a world freed from the grip of the ‘Evil Empire’, a world of peace and plenty blah-blah, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we have gone backwards at an increasing rate of knots, towards the world of ‘(helicopter) gunboat diplomacy’. A world where mind-numbing violence and threats of violence dominate the foreign and domestic policies of the so-called civilized world.

This is a world my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents would be quite familiar with, a world where might is right and the Anglo-Saxon ‘race’ ruled supreme.

The point is, Capitalism needs an enemy, real or invented and the demise of communism deprived them of a handy hook onto which they could hang the planet.
All the ‘war on terror’ has done is terrorize everybody and drag us deeper and deeper into the quagmire of the ‘new world order’.

Many of us may distrust our respective governments, they lie to us, steal from the public purse, spy on us, lock us up for thinking, start wars in our name but the idea that they are insane enough to launch a global conflagration is perhaps a step too far for most of us to swallow. Yet twice in the past century, the capitalists and their servants have started world wars in which hundreds of millions have been slaughtered and with a posse of psychopathic fingers on the trigger right now, it looks like we may be in for the next one.

But surely they can’t be that mad what with the world awash with nuclear weapons? Yet from the former Yugoslavia to Somalia the Anglo-Saxon Empire is busy turning the planet into a graveyard, polluting the air, water and earth as it goes. Mad you say? Just look at what the ‘masters of the universe’ say concerning their objectives and the lengths they will go to preserve their rule.

US Space Command

Dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US national interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict.

‘National interests and investment’ says it all for this is what it’s really all about. The US Space Command’s ‘Vision 20-20’ document goes on to say that,

“Just as land dominance, sea control, and air superiority have become critical elements of current military strategy, space superiority is emerging as an essential element of battlefield success and future warfare.The challenge extends to space.”

It’s this context that makes the UK government’s role in this sordid and murderous enterprise so really depraved and criminal. A government that has become nothing more than a hitman for the Empire and a pretty incompetent one at that. Oh how the mighty have fallen!

William Bowles
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Transcript of British PM Gordon Brown's annual annual speech on foreign policy

21.11.2009 22:54

The Prime Minister has delivered his annual speech on foreign policy at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on Monday 16 November 2009.

PM’s speech on foreign policy

Number 10 website (The official site of the UK Prime Minister's Office), 16 November 2009

My Lord Mayor, my late Lord Mayor, your grace, my Lord Chancellor, your excellencies, my Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Chief Commoner, ladies and gentlemen.

We live in no ordinary times.

* A year into dealing with the greatest economic challenge for generations - the first global financial recession.
* A few weeks before the most important climate change decisions in human history.
* A few months ahead of nuclear negotiations that could for the first time genuinely bind the world to cooperate and not proliferate.
* And we meet just as America and NATO are making vital choices about how to continue and win the fight against global terrorism.

These are the four great issues of our time, and what they have in common is that - global in nature - they require global solutions. None can be answered by one country or one continent in isolation.

What they demand of us is a shared vision, and the creation of new and effective global institutions with the mandate and the authority to make that vision real.

And the great questions of the day call not for hard power or soft power - but the power of people working together. Because none too can be resolved by national politicians pronouncing from on high while failing to listen to the citizens they serve; but only by great social movements which create the conditions for common action around the world.

So tonight I want to talk about the problems we face. But - much more than that - I want to talk about why I am an unremitting optimist, about Britain’s future and the world’s and about why I believe this generation, if we make the right choices, can create an unprecedented century of progress.

Tonight I want to talk about

* How together we can forge and then legislate for the first time a truly global climate change agreement -to save our planet from catastrophic climate change
* How together –by tough and practical multilateralism - we can shape global rules for prosperity - to ensure that never again will a wave of economic crisis sweeping across the world threaten millions with unemployment and poverty
* How together, we can with a new non proliferation treaty, contain and then banish the risk of the development of nuclear weapons
* And how together, we can agree a strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan - as a 43-nation coalition in Afghanistan, together with Pakistan and other countries in the region and elsewhere including a stronger counter-insurgency strategy to deny the terrorists and extremists the space and freedom to threaten the safety and security of the innocents they target in our streets and thousands of miles away.

Some may regard these challenges as beyond the reach of a world which has for so long cast international affairs as competition between national interests rather than the coordination of common interests.

But the events we have witnessed have taught us that there are great causes - causes worth fighting for - even when people say the odds are too great, that the hill is too steep.

Events we have witnessed in just half a generation, events previously only imagined and apparently impossible, yet so swiftly realised:

* The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the cold war;
* The release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid.

All these teach us that we should use the word ‘impossible’ with greater care; and we learn that what was yesterday’s dream and today’s impossibility can become tomorrow’s reality.

And I believe that there is no other country - by its history, values and global reach - better placed to shape a safer and more secure world.

Ours is an open, free trading democratic nation. For centuries internationalist in its instincts and actions; committed to persuasion whenever possible, to force only when necessary; and most of all to a belief in liberty, fairness and responsibility.

And it is these values, these moral imperatives, that equip us for a role that encompasses diplomacy, conciliation, firmness and yes - where necessary - armed intervention.

And in leading the debate and doing so in the light of our ideals Britain brings the influence that comes from being right at the heart of great international institutions and alliances - the EU, NATO, the UN, the Commonwealth, the G8 and G20.

That unique position is an awesome privilege and a great responsibilityand no-one - whether narrow nationalist or instinctive isolationist should consider themselves patriots if they would sacrifice or diminish our influence.

In the Nineteenth century Palmerston talked of a British national interest best served by the strength of those permanent interests - but not by permanent allies.

In a very different century, I see our national interest best served in a new way - by the strength of our permanent values and interests - and by our strong alliances.

Of course there are those who believe that multilateral co-operation and the defence of our national interests are mutually incompatible; and that a strong partnership with Europe weakens our capacity to pursue our national goals.

This view has always been short-sighted. Indeed, in a world where the historic challenges we face are so profoundly global, this view has never been more dangerous and threatening to the security and prosperity of our country.

To equate the national interest with a flight to unilateralism when so many challenges can be met only by collective actions is to condemn our nation to marginalisation, irrelevance and failure.

Can anyone today seriously believe we can tackle the recession better without the European Union and the G20? Does anyone now seriously believe we can protect ourselves from international terrorism

* On our own?
* In a fortress Britain?
* Without America, NATO, the European Union, and our coalition allies?

Does anyone still believe that we can defeat climate change

* Without international action across the European Union?
* Without the nations of our commonwealth from Africa to Australasia?
* Without challenging the United Nations?

Even to advocate a measure of withdrawal from international cooperation immediately weakens our trade, our economy and our influence.

So let me set out how, by leading in global co-operation in the coming months, we can shape the world of the future.

First climate change. In just three weeks time countries will gather at the UN conference in Copenhagen to forge a new international agreement to combat global warming.

And let us be clear what such an agreement must involve. Britain is prepared to lead the way proposing a financial plan to ensure all countries can cut carbon emissions. And this should form part of a comprehensive agreement based on politically binding commitments of all countries, which can be implemented immediately and which can act as the basis for an internationally legally binding treaty as soon as possible.

The agreement must contain the full range of commitments required: on emissions reductions by both developed and developing countries, on finance and on verification.

We need the same degree of international co-operation to return the world economy to a secure prosperity and to address the global plague of poverty. And we have already seen what international co-operation can do -with the restructuring of the banks, and the co-ordination of a fiscal stimulus.

The world has acted together to stop a recession becoming a depression. And I believe that while we are only half way through dealing with the causes of the crisis, we also have reason to be confident, because in the next two decades, the world economy will double in size, creating twice as many opportunities for business, for jobs, for exports. And as this new economy moves forward, I want Britain to be right at its centre-making the most of the unprecedented opportunities.

Were we to retreat now from international co-operation and the commitments each country has made to revive and sustain our economies that would not just put the global recovery at risk but put at risk British jobs, British growth, British prosperity for years and even generations to come. The equation here is clear; trade abroad means jobs at home.

There are no Britain-only, Europe only, or us. Only ways to manage a global financial system. A new contract of trust is needed between banks and the societies they serve across the world. And whether it insurance fees, resolution funds, contingent capital arrangements or a global financial levy measures that can only be implemented at a global level, common sense suggests we must agree internationally how we will mitigate the risks to the economy from financial failure and redress the balance of risk and reward between the public and the financial sector.

And we will never walk away from our global role in the campaign against poverty and injustice. We do not give up hope of a Burma unchained or of a Zimbabwe liberated. And we will continue to work to ensure that every child in the world has schooling and that we reduce the shocking levels of avoidable infant and maternal mortality. The world will not for long endure half prosperous and half poor. Poverty violates conscience even as it invites conflict.

And five months from now we will meet in Washington to confront another source of potential conflict - the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear nations.

Britain must continue to lead the renewal of a grand global bargain between nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states. A fair and balanced deal in which non nuclear weapons states must accept clear responsibilities to end proliferation by renouncing nuclear weapons in return for the right to access civil nuclear power; and in which nuclear armed nations must accept the responsibility to work together on a credible roadmap to nuclear disarmament towards a world without nuclear weapons.

Never again should any nation be able to deceive the international community, and conceal with impunity its pursuit of proliferation. We face critical test cases in Iran and North Korea, with attention focused most recently on Iran. In September the truth about their secret facility at Qom was revealed. And on 1 October we again offered Tehran engagement and negotiation.

Over the last six weeks that offer has been comprehensively rejected. So it is now not only right but necessary for the world to apply concerted pressure to the Iranian regime. President Obama set an end of the year deadline for Iran to react. If Iran does not reconsider, then the United Nations, the EU and individual countries must impose tougher sanctions.

The greatest immediate threat to our national security, the greatest current risk to British lives, is that of international terrorism.

We know that from New York, Bali, Baghdad, Madrid, Mumbai, Peshawar and Rawalpindi to London, men and women - Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, of every faith and none - have been victims of international terrorism.

I will never compromise when it comes to the safety and security of the British people. We have trebled our domestic security budget, doubled our security service staff, and increased by over two thirds the numbers of police dealing day to day with terrorism in the UK, and will always do what is necessary.

And I know from my four visits to Afghanistan in the last 15 months that our armed forces understand our security priority and share that commitment.

Let me say that the courage, skill and professionalism of our forces serving there are truly inspiring. In some of the hardest conditions, they have enhanced their already peerless reputation as the finest in the world. And we pay tribute to each and everyone of them this evening.

Tonight I want

* To explain in more detail the relation between the work of our armed forces in Afghanistan and the domestic terrorist threat;
* To remind people that despite our successes against al Qaeda they and their associates still have active plans to commit terrorist atrocities in the United Kingdom;
* And to make it clear why it is only by standing up to this terrorist threat at its source that we can properly defend our shores.

Tonight I can report that, methodically and patiently, we are disrupting and disabling the existing leadership of al Qaeda.

Since January 2008 seven of the top dozen figures in al Qaeda have been killed, depleting its reserve of experienced leaders and sapping its morale.

More has been planned and enacted with greater success in this one year to disable al Qaeda than in any year since the original invasion in 2001. Today 28,000 Pakistan security forces are inside South Waziristan again narrowing the scope for al Qaeda to operate. And our security services report to me that there is now an opportunity to inflict significant and long-lasting damage to al Qaeda.

We understand the reality of the danger and the nature of the consequences if we do not succeed. We will never forget the fatal al Qaeda led attacks in London on 7 July 2005, the unsuccessful al Qaeda-inspired attacks two weeks later, and the al Qaeda-sanctioned plot to capture and behead a British soldier in the midlands in January 2007.

Some plots remain under investigation and so for obvious reasons I cannot elaborate. On others I can. In 2007, five individuals were found guilty of what we now know was an al Qaeda inspired conspiracy to cause explosions with possible plans to target shopping centres or clubs in London and the south east.

And in total since 2001, nearly 200 persons have been convicted of terrorist or terrorist-related offences almost half of those convicted pleaded guilty.

And day by day we are continuing to track a large number of suspicious individuals and potential plots. Make no mistake, al Qaeda has an extensive recruitment network across Africa the middle east, western Europe and in the UK. And we know that there are still several hundred foreign fighters based in the Fata area of Pakistan and travelling to training camps to learn bomb making and weapons skills.

It is because of the nature of the threat, and because around three quarters of the most serious plots the security services are now tracking in Britain have links to Pakistan, that it does not make sense to confine our defence against terrorism solely to actions inside the UK.

Al Qaeda rely on a permissive environment in the tribal areas of Pakistan and - if they can re-establish one - in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has links to the Afghan and Pakistan Taleban. We must deny terrorists the room to operate which the Taleban regime allowed the 9/11 attackers. So that is why I say the Afghan campaign is being prosecuted not from choice, but out of necessity.

So vigilance in defence of national security will never be sacrificed to expediency. Necessary resolution will never succumb to appeasement. The greater international good will never be subordinated to the mood of the passing moment. That is why 43 governments around the world now understand the importance of defeating al Qaeda and of preventing them ever again being able to flourish in Afghanistan. America with 60,000 and Britain with 9,000 are the largest troop contributors, but the rest of the international coalition has increased its numbers from 16,000 in January 2007 to over 27,000 today and I am confident that they will be prepared to do more.

But this coalition does not intend to become an occupying army: it is building the capacity of Afghanistan to deal themselves with terrorism and violent extremism, what we mean by ‘Afghanisation’.

Today the army has published its new counter-insurgency doctrine. Partnering the Afghan army and police is fraught with danger, as we have seen in recent weeks; and building up local level afghan governance in areas which have not known the rule of law for decades if at all, is daunting. But as I have emphasised in recent weeks, we have not chosen this path of Afghanisation because it is a safer or easier option, but because it is the right strategy.

Following the inauguration this week of President Karzai, I have urged him to set out the contract between the new government and its people, including early action on corruption. And I welcome today’s announcement that the new government in Afghanistan will dedicate the next five years to fighting corruption. I have pledged full UK support in this effort.

The international community will meet to agree plans for the support we will provide to Afghanistan during this next phase. I have offered London as a venue in the New Year. I want that conference to chart a comprehensive political framework within which the military strategy can be accomplished. A strong political framework should embrace internal political reform to ensure representative government that works for all Afghan citizens, at the national level in Kabul and in the provinces and districts. It should identify a process for transferring district by district to full Afghan control and if at all possible set a timetable for transferring districts starting in 2010.

For it is only when the Afghans are themselves able to defend the security of their people and deny the territory of Afghanistan as a base for terrorists that our strategy of Afghanisation will have succeeded and our troops can come home.

So tonight I want to leave you with a clear summary of Britain’s case, and that of the coalition as a whole. We are in Afghanistan because we judge that if the Taleban regained power al Qaeda and other terrorist groups would once more have an environment in which they could operate. We are there because action in Afghanistan is not an alternative to action in Pakistan, but an inseparable support to it. As I have shown, the world has succeeded in closing down much of the space in which al Qaeda can operate, and we must not allow this process to be reversed by retreat or irresolution.

Usually only in retrospect do people see dramatic sets of events as turning points: but I believe that historians will look back on the sheer scope, speed and scale of the global change that perhaps no peacetime generation has ever before experienced and conclude that faced with climate change, world wide economic collapse, terror and the nuclear threat - and surrounded by new means of global communications that allow people to connect across frontiers - we took the first steps towards a truly global society.

In meeting each of the four challenges I have talked about tonight, Britain’s future is a future shared with our international partners.

So we in Britain - who are serious - we have a crucial responsibility to seize this moment.

* I believe that Britain can inspire the world;
* I believe that Britain can challenge the world;
* But most importantly of all I believe that Britain can and must play its full part in changing the world.

And to do so we must have confidence in our distinctive strengths: our global values, global alliances and global actions; because with conviction in our values and confidence in our alliances, Britain can lead in the construction of a new global order.

We must never be less than resolute in fighting for British interestsbecause, as you in this room know better than anyone, Britain has nothing to fear in the world’s marketplace of ideals and ideas; nor from the world’s most destructive ideologies.

At every point in our history where we have looked outwards, we have become stronger. And now, more than ever, there is no future in what was once called ’splendid isolation’.

When Britain is bold, when Britain is engaged, when Britain is confident and outward-looking, we have shown time and again that Britain has a power and an energy that far exceeds the limits of our geography, our population, and our means.

And that is why I say our foreign policy must be hard-headed, patriotic and internationlist: a foreign policy that recognises and exploits Britain’s unique strengths and defends Britain’s national interests strongly not by retreating into isolation, but by advancing in international co-operation.

So we will stand with countries that share our values and vision. We will engage with those who disagree with us but who are ready for dialogue. And we will isolate those who are motivated by the will to destroy the structures and principles on which a just global society must depend.

As a nation we have every reason to be optimistic about our prospects: confident in our alliances, faithful to our values and determined as progressive pioneers to shape the world to come. Britain can be and Great Britain must be in the vanguard of a new progressive force for change, architect of a new world that honours our hopes and defeats our fears - a new world that can become a truly global society.

- Homepage: http://

"Britain can lead in the construction of a new world order"

21.11.2009 23:28

Here's an excerpt from Prime Minister Gordon Brown's annual speech on foreign policy:

"So we in Britain - who are serious - we have a crucial responsibility to seize this moment.

* I believe that Britain can inspire the world;
* I believe that Britain can challenge the world;
* But most importantly of all I believe that Britain can and must play its full part in changing the world.

And to do so we must have confidence in our distinctive strengths: our global values, global alliances and global actions; because with conviction in our values and confidence in our alliances, Britain can lead in the construction of a new global order."

Gordon Brown
- Homepage: http://

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