Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Why no demos about the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Iraq?

Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām via Wikimedia Commons

In a week in which we’ve seen many demonstrations over the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza, perhaps we should spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands of Christian victims of the large-scale ethnic cleansing and persecution which is going on throughout the Muslim world: whether that be west Africa, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, or, in this case, Iraq.
Map of the countries/areas in which the persecution of Christians is at its worst. (Note that that the red covers the entire Middle East and the larger Muslim world.)/IMAGE CREDIT: Wiki Commons

The other point that’s worth making here is that whereas the Israelis have gone out of their way to attack Hamas (a group that hides amongst civilians to guarantee civilian causalities – which is precisely what Hamas wants), in the Muslim world Christians are killed and persecuted solely because they are Christian; not because they are firing rockets into civilian areas or plotting terrorist attacks against Muslim civilians.

Yet, of course, there hasn’t been a demonstration recently over the plight of Christians in the Muslim world. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS (In the days before he looked like a pious Muslim cleric.)/PHOTO CREDIT: Wiki Commons

ISIS’s recent persecution and ethnic cleansing of Christians in Iraq is keeping up an old Islamic tradition. Indeed, ISIS has deployed many classic Islamic rationales for persecution and ethnic cleansing.

For example, two great themes of the historical persecution of Christians by Muslims have been forced conversion and dhimmitude.

In the latest flowering of the ancient war of Islam against all that is non-Islamic, ISIS has forced Iraqi Christians to flee from the city of Mosul.

ISIS – at its most stark, though Islamically bone fide - has threatened to kill Christians if they don’t convert to Islam. Either that, or Christians can pay the Islamic “protection tax” (jizya) and thus become a second-class citizens in Islam’s global apartheid regime.

The group is not hiding its ethnic cleansing of Christians, publicly reading the proclamation at all of Mosul’s mosques – giving Mosul’s Christians until midday on Saturday (yesterday) to abide by their Islamic rules or face execution.

All of this, it needs to be said, is in full harmony with both Islam and the Koran.

(I say “ethnic cleaning” because if Christians refuse to convert to Islam or pay the dhimmi tax, ISIS will then ethnically cleanse them from Mosul; and possibly, in the future, from the whole of Iraq and then Syria.)

The ISIS statement read:

We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimmi contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”
Muslims make much of the beneficence of the jizya “protection tax”.

But from whom do Christians and other non-Muslims need protecting?

Yes, that’s right: from Muslims.

This effectively means that many of the Muslims who are offering such protection – thus also earning money from such a “protection racket” – are the very same Muslims who would otherwise be attacking or persecuting the non-Muslims.

This also means that Muslims – the ones who are so graciously offering a dhimmi (apartheid) status to non-Muslims under their control - are effectively saying:

If you pay the jizya we will protect you. But if you don’t, we will either – at worst – kill you, or – at best – persecute and oppress you.”

(Editor’s note: Not only that, if they do accept dhimmitude they only live at the pleasure of their Muslim neighbors. Even the Mafia offers a better protection scheme in return for shaking down its victims.)
Mosul is not the only city to be ethnically cleansed of Christians. ISIS has also applied its Islamic demands – last February – in the Syrian city of Raqqa. In that instance, the required jizya for Syrian Christians was an ounce of pure gold.

In response to the demands in Mosul, an Iraqi Christian cleric by the name of Patriarch Louis Sako, said:

Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Irbil [in Kurdistan]. For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”
The Patriarch also went on to say that 10,000 Christians have fled Mosul since ISIS captured the city at the beginning of June.

Louis Sako also told reporters that ISIS was tagging Christian houses with the letter ‘N’, which stands for Nassarah. This is a term from the Koran which refers to Christians.

Latin Church, Mosul, Iraq (1980s)/PHOTO CREDIT: Wiki Commons

Historically prior to 2003, Iraqi Christians numbered about 1.4 million (5% of the Iraqi population). Now the number is less than 200,000. After the start of the Iraq War of 2003, the number of Christians immediately fell to 800,000 from that previous number of 1.4 million.

However, Iraqi Christians have fared better than Iraqi Jews in this respect.

In 1948 there were roughly 150,000 Jews in Iraq. By 2008, there were 10 (yes, ten). The number of Jews in Iraq today must be almost zero.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Steven Rose & the Anti-Sociobiology Marxists

Sociobiology, as the name suggest, is the scientific application of biological theories and data to (human) social phenomena. Indeed is is deemed to be a branch of both biology and sociology which incorporates - amongst other sub-disciplines - genetics, zoology, evolution, anthropology and ethology.

Sociobiology also integrates the relatively new fields of evolutionary psychology and human behavioural ecology. In terms of the details within these fields, sociobiology investigates such things as pack hunting, territorial fights, mating patterns and the hive activity of social insects.

The term 'sociobiology' itself dates back to the 1940s. However, it didn't become widely used - both within and outside of science - until Edward O. Wilson's book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis was published in 1975.

E.O Wilson himself once described sociobiology as the “extension of population biology and evolutionary theory to social organization”.

Ad Hominems against the Anti-Sociobiology Marxists

The philosopher Philip Kitcher has said that when people mention the Marxist beliefs of anti-sociobiology - or “not in our genes” - scientists it effectively amounts to an ad hominem attack. (Well an analytic philosopher like Philip Kitcher - who's also a critic of sociobiology and a colleague of Richard Lewontin at Columbia University - would say that, wouldn't he....umm?)

In other words, rather than tackling the scientific arguments and evidence of these scientists, people like myself rely on ad hominem arguments/attacks instead.

So, I suppose, the following piece is one large ad hominem.

Nonetheless, why can't we do the ad hominem bit (if that's what it truly is) of mentioning, say, Steven Rose's virulent Marxism; and then get on with the arguments against his scientific positions?

It's not as if I'm going to be saying the following:

Steven Rose, who was part of the 'radical science movement', is a Marxist. Therefore I won't even bother reading what he has to say about genetics and sociobiology.

In addition, when I say that Steven Rose is a Marxist, is that strictly speaking an an argument “against the man” (ad hominem)? After all, Rose classes himself as a Marxist and Richard Lewontin (one of the founders of “against sociobiology” group) has freely admitted that his ideological views have influenced his scientific work.

What Philip Kitcher must also realise is that most people (Left, Right and center) can't deal with the fine detail of genetics, sociobiology or evolutionary psychology because they aren't qualified to do so. (They aren't qualified to speak on the “a priorior other esoteric areas of Kitcher's analytic philosophy either.) Yet surely that doesn't mean that all of us non-professionals should keep our mouths shut on all these issues. Indeed is Steven Rose himself qualified - a neurobiologist, not a political scientist or economist - to pontificate on “capitalism” and the “Tory government”, as he sometimes does?

Nonetheless, if I were a scientist working in the field of genetics, neurobiology or psychology, then perhaps my mentioning the fact that these people are Marxists simply wouldn't be cricket. Similarly, if I were a student or professor at a philosophy departmental seminar (at Philip Kitcher's Columbia University) and I mentioned Steven Rose's prior Marxism, then I know full well that such a thing would certainly be taken to be a sacrilegious act against argument and philosophical debate.

It may also be the case that these people have done some good science. However, perhaps any genuinely good science they have done was simply a result of their not seeing seen any direct - or even indirect - political implications of that science. When politics or ideology impinged on their work, on the other hand, then it's very reasonable to assume (according to what they have said themselves) that politics/ideology will have been paramount; whereas science would have simply been its servant. And that may still be the case even if much of their academic - though still politicised - scientific work is chock-a-block with scientific jargon, charts, graphs, innumerable references and footnotes and all the other trademarks of academese (which, I'm suggesting, can sometimes hide or disguise deep ideological/political bias).

Consequently, surely it's conceivable that the prior Marxist theories of these anti-sociobiology scientists are actually extremely relevant to arguments and philosophical debates about sociobiology, genetics and the like!

So despite all those caveats, I would say that if you aren't a scientist (or a professional philosopher of science), then extreme scepticism about the views of these political-activist scientists is very wise indeed.

Biography (or Ad Hominem)

Even Steven Rose's fellow Leftists at the UK newspaper The Guardian have described him as a “polemicist of the left”. Another fellow scientist, Patrick Bateson, said that Rose “may be the last of the Marxist radical scientists”.

By almost anyone's standards, the Socialist Workers Party's Steven Rose is a fanatical ideologue. (The SWP is a self-described “revolutionary anti-capitalist party”.) Indeed Rose could hardly disagree with the fact that he, according to Richard Dawkins, gives “ideology priority over truth”.

That statement shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who understands even a little bit about Marxism.

According to most - or even all – Marxists, it is the case that ideology, politics and power can never be separated from science or indeed from truth itself.

And that fundamental Marxist position, no doubt, explains why Steven Rose sees politics and ideology in the work of so many other non-Marxist scientists: scientists who, on the whole, haven’t - unlike Rose himself - been activists in political groups and movements for most of their lives.

Thus is all this simply an example of one individual (Steven Rose) psychologically “projecting” his own ideological and political obsessions into the minds of other scientists?

Now for a small amount of words on two of the other well-known anti-sociobiology scientists.

Richard Lewontin has also described himself as a “Marxist”. Indeed he has happily admitted that his ideological views have affected his scientific work.

Gould Jay Gould (who died in 2002) said that he was “brought up by a Marxist father”. He described his own politics as “left of center”. Gould also said that Noam Chomsky's books had a great influence on him.

(Interestingly enough, Noam Chomsky once - sort of - came to the defence of sociobiology; though he did so only by committing exactly the sin I'm accusing his fellow Leftists of committing. Chomsky argued that there may, after all, be some room for sociobiological positions; though only because he thought that “it was important for political radicals to postulate a relatively fixed human nature in order to be able to struggle for a better society”.)

Some Science

The Politics of Science

The philosopher Julian Baggini (in his What Philosophers Think) commented on the political misgivings (about sociobiology) of the anti-sociobiology group. He wrote:

“… Steven Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin… noting… that theories that attempted to establish a biological foundation to social behaviour provided an ‘important basis… for the eugenic policies which led to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazi Germany’; and E.O. Wilson himself was drenched in water by protesters at a meeting…” (65)

Of course science can be political; or at least scientific theories can become politicised.

Racial science” is obviously connected to the Nazi movement. However, that doesn’t mean that sociobiology will lead to Nazi policies or gas chambers.

So let's put the boot on the other foot.

What about science as practised and endorsed by left-wingers or Marxists? Should we, for example, keep a firm check on the scientific research of Steven Rose and Richard Lewontin as well? It could, after all, lead to Stalinism; or to a regime or set of policies like that of the Khmer Rouge or Chairman Mao's Red Guard; or even to the filling of a future Gulag with “Islamophobes”, “bigots”, “racists”, “reactionaries”, patriots, nationalists, “xenophobes”... and sociobiologists. (Think here of Soviet science and how nonconformist scientists were treated.)

And what if Steven Rose and Richard Lewontin (or Marxist scientists like them) scientifically show that the best form of society is a socialist one and that we should bring such a society about – by force if necessary? (Marxism itself was deemed a science; until that view became largely unfashionable in the 1960s.)

Now let's get back to “right-wing” sociobiology.

Even if scientists or geneticists do come to certain conclusions about social behaviour, nothing necessarily follows from that unless we, as political cultures and democracies, allow it to. (Marxists such as Steven Rose have never trusted either the people or democratic processes.)

In any case, obviously there is “a biological foundation to social behaviour”; whether or not it provided an “important basis for the eugenics policies which lead to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazis Germany”. Surely Lewontin, Rose and the rest can’t be denying this. So if they aren’t, then they must be saying - or implying - that even if there are biological foundations to social behaviour, we mustn’t say that there are. Thus these Marxists are saying that sociobiology is not a fit subject of scientific research.

And that, surely, is a very radical position to uphold. Indeed it was Stalin's position! (It's like a scientific version of the Left's “no platform” policy: this time for sociobiology rather than for “far right” political groups and individuals.)

In other words, should we allow political activists (who also happen to be scientists) to stop certain – or many! - areas of scientific research? Should scientists like Steven Rose and Richard Lewontin ever be allowed to determine what scientists should and shouldn't do?

Gene for....

Let's see what problems Steven Jay Gould , Steven Rose and Richard Lewontin had with sociobiology:

In the eyes of the critics of reductionism, such a strategy results in the claim that complex behaviours are straightforwardly genetically determined. For example, Steven Rose, Leon Kamin and Richard Lewontin assert in Not in Our Genes that ‘sociobiology is a reductionist, biological determinist explanation of human existence'.”

E.O. Wilson has never talked about – or even hinted at - the “inevitable manifestations of the specific actions of genes”. Indeed there is very little that is necessary or inevitable in the world (outside logic and mathematics).

And who says that sociobiologists, or E.O Wilson in particular, claim that “complex behaviours are straightforwardly genetically determined”? Steven Rose et al say that; though not the majority of – or any – sociobiologists. As scientists, sociobiologists would say that nothing complex is straightforward. If it were straightforward, then they wouldn’t need to study it for years. We’d all know the sociobiological facts.

Nonetheless, even if sociobiologists don't say or claim such things, it's clear that these Marxist scientists think that sociobiology itself is reductionist and determinist.

Here's one sociobiologist, E.O Wilson, speaking for himself on this matter:

... all biologists speak of the interaction between heredity and environment. They do not, except in laboratory shorthand, speak of a gene 'causing' a particular behaviour, and they never mean it literally.”

Behaviours are indeed ‘genetically determined’; though not ‘straightforwardly’ so. Is Steven Rose simply saying that this is false? Or is he saying that it's a politically dangerous idea?

If E.O Wilson didn't emphasis the “interaction between heredity and environment”, he would be laughed out of court by just about every other scientist. Indeed it's hard to even make sense of genes being solely responsible for all social behaviour regardless of the environment. Does that thesis even make sense?

What E.O. Wilson may say, along with philosophers of science such as Helena Cronin, is that this is a false dichotomy in the first place.

It's not a case of genes or environment. It isn't even a case of a 50/50 split between genes and environment. The (human) environment, or society, is itself a product of our genes (at least to some extent). There would be no society without pre-existing genes for social (as well as anti-social) behaviours.

Reductionism& Determinism?

Steven Rose and the rest of the anti-sociobiology group often (very often!) use two scare-words in relation to sociobiology: reductionism and determinism (“vague terms of abuse”, according to Steven Pinker).

Are these scientific positions and methodologies plainly false? Or are they, again, simply deemed to be politically dangerous by Marxists?

E.O. Wilson himself puts his position on scientific reductionism it this way:

Major science always deals with reduction and resynthesis of complex systems, across two or three levels of complexity at a step. For example, from quantum physics to the principles of atomic physics, thence reagent chemistry, macromolecular chemistry, molecular biology, and so on – comprising, in general, complexity and reduction, and reduction to resynthesis of complexity, in repeated sweeps.”

This shows the importance of reductions in most or all the sciences: not just between the sciences; but also within them.

But now let's turn the tables on Mr Steven Rose.

It can quite easily be argued that Rose is a reductionist himself, as well as a determinist. Isn't he, in fact, a Marxist determinist who believes that everything is the outcome of (not his words) “class struggle and the “material economic realities” which underpin such “superstructural manifestations as belief-systems, religions and ideologies”? (All belief-systems and ideologies which aren’t Marxist, that is.)

So whereas Steven Rose claims that all sociobiologists are reductionists when it comes to genes; he, as a Marxist, may well be a reductionist when it comes to class and socioeconomic realities. These are seen, by Marxists (even by the sophisticated ones), to underpin all things. Indeed no one has ever been more of a reductionist than Marx himself. Marx saw almost everything in terms of the various historical “class struggles” which grew out of the socioeconomic “material conditions” of each age. And If I am caricaturing Marxism (which I don't think I am), then perhaps Steven Rose has similarly caricatured sociobiology; as well as E.O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker and other scientists.


Some people may be willing to accept that E.O. Wilson and other sociobiologists are right-wing or conservative. (Even that claim can be disputed in E.0. Wilson's case. Wilson is a fan of Obama, a keen warmist and environmentalist and he once described himself as a “liberal”.)

However, it can't have endeared E.O. Wilson to Steven Rose, Richard Lewontin, etc. when in a discussion about communism and socialism he said:

What I like to say is that Karl Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species. Why doesn't it work in humans? Because we have reproductive independence, and we get maximum Darwinian fitness by looking after our own survival and having our own offspring.”

Nonetheless, saying that doesn't make E.O. Wilson a Nazi or a racist. And yet this is precisely the label he was tarred with by these Marxist scientists. Despite that, Steven Rose and other Marxists would no doubt say that it simply doesn't matter if E.0. Wilson is a Nazi or a racist. What matters is that his views and research can still be used and quoted by Nazis and/or racists. And this position precisely mirrors the situation in which other Marxists – and no doubt Steven Rose himself - claim that the words of the non-racist and non-fascist critics of Islam and some Muslims are also dangerous because they too can still be quoted and used by what they call “fascists” and/or “racists”.

And the consequence of this is... what? That both sociobiologists and the critics of Islam should remain silent? Or even that they should be silenced?

All this is very strange when you consider the fact that according to many people the exact left-wing equivalent of Nazism or fascism (especially Nazism) is revolutionary Marxism – and that's precisely what these critics of E.O. Wilson and sociobiology are. Indeed Steven Rose has been an active member of the the UK's Socialist Workers Party (SWP) for decades.

Now are these extreme Marxists the best people to listen to or read if you want to discover the truths and falsehoods of sociobiology?

Friday, 18 July 2014

'Proportionality' in Israel & Gaza?

IMAGE CREDIT: Wiki Commons

Many people may think that the death toll in Israel is low compared to the 200 or so Palestinians who’ve recently been killed in Gaza in the last two weeks. Leftists will no doubt quote the UN’s ratio of civilian-to-military casualties which is said to be 70 percent civilian.

(Where have these percentages come from? From Hamas. So it’s not a surprise that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman, Lt-Col Peter Lerner, has disputed the figures. Indeed where else could the figures come from? Hamas rules Gaza. The BBC has also just been reprimanded for supplying fake pictures from Pallywood… or Gaza as it is also sometimes known.)

There’s a simple reason for that “lack of proportionality” (as academics in the West often put it) which seems to have been overlooked by Manuel Hassassian (a Palestinian Authority envoy in the UK) when he said:
“There are no shelters, no bunkers, no place to go, except their homes.”
Israel has built many air-raid shelters and other means of protection for its citizens . It also employs air-raid warnings in response to Hamas rocket attacks. Hamas, on the other hand, doesn’t provide its people with either of these things. (See this article on Gaza’s lack of bomb shelters.)

The other thing is that Hamas deliberately places its fighters amongst the Gaza civilian population – as is now well-known and well-documented.

What is the reason for Hamas’s suicidal policies?

It’s primarily because this Muslim Brotherhood political party wants some – or even many – of its people to be killed.

So why does Hamas want that?

There are various reasons; though the main one is the Western response to such deaths; such as the 600 mainly Muslim and student-Leftist demonstrators who took over the streets of Bradford (in the north of England) city center this weekend.

In other words, Palestinian deaths do the Hamas cause a lot of good in the West (primarily in the case of Leftist students and their academic leaders). And that’s one of the reasons why Hamas doesn’t provide shelters for its people.

(I mention the radical/Marxist Left in this piece primarily because it sets almost the entire agenda when it comes to Israel and Gaza; whether in terms of the Marxist theories about Israel - which even non-Leftists and National Socialists use - or the frequent demonstrations and movements against Israel: which are almost all led by Trotskyists. Indeed the same Trotskyist/SWP faces – in the UK - keep on popping up, whether that be Stop the War, Respect, the boycott-and-divest-from-Israel movement or whatever.)

The other important point to bear in mind is that, according Hamas theology/ideology, every Palestinian who is killed by Israelis is deemed to be an automatic martyr for Islam. In addition, a Hamas motto is: “We love death more than life.”

Palestinians also say that they have “nowhere to go” when the Israeli air attacks come. Yet that’s not entirely true either because Israel gives advanced warnings before such attacks. For example, Israeli forces dropped leaflets into the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya which warned of future air strikes.

Only Civilians?

PHOTO CREDIT: Wiki Commons

It can’t by any stretch of the imagination be said that Israel is aiming its onslaught against Palestinian civilians. For example, on Monday Israel hit three Hamas training camps in Gaza city. Israel has also targeted weapons stores and destroyed various Hamas security headquarters and police stations. All in all, the IDF has hit some 1,320 Hamas sites in Gaza.

In any case, would Muslims prefer a ground invasion instead? Of course not. What they would prefer is no Israel and no Jews at all in any “Islamic land”. I’m not just talking about Gaza and the West Bank; but also in Syria, Iraq, Algeria and so on. In fact Jews have already been ethnically cleansed from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Jordan and other Arab lands. (Thus fulfilling the demands of the Prophet Muhammad: “I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims” – Sahih Muslim 4366.)

Now since Muslims are even trying to Islamise Western towns and cities as diverse as Bradford, Birmingham, Malmö, Rotterdam, Oslo, Marseilles and Paris, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they take the Islamisation - and therefore the ethnic cleansing of Jews and Christians - of the Arab world even more seriously.

Why Israel?

Pro-Hamas Rally in Damascus, Syria: PHOTO CREDIT: Wiki Commons

As I mentioned earlier, 200 Palestinians have been killed in the latest stage of the Israel-Palestinian war.

Compare that with the 100,000 (or more) who have died in Syria since 2011; and the carnage in Iraq as a result of ISIS’s own attempt at Islamisation in Iraq. And that’s not to forget the recent historical Islamic genocides in Sudan between the 1991 and 2002 in which one-and-a-half million Christians and animists were murdered by the Islamic regime in Khartoum and the jihadists of Jangaweed; as well as the Algerian civil war between 1991 and 2002 (up to 150,000 deaths). On top of all that there are Muslim conflicts, Islamic persecutions and Islamic terrorism in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, southern Thailand, the Philippines, Libya… Basically, wherever there are Muslims living next to non-Muslims, there is conflict. Indeed there is even conflict wherever Muslims live alongside Muslims of a different sect.

So throughout the world today, and in recent history, literally millions have died in the ongoing process of Islamisation and ethnic cleansing (of Christians and Jews) in both the Arab world and in the larger Muslim world. Yet, as ever, Israel’s rational and understandable treatment of Hamas - which deliberately hides itself among civilians - still takes up so much media (even when it’s not pro-Palestinian) airtime.

And that must be because so many Westerners see the Israel-Palestinian conflict to be both unique and far worse than all the other conflicts I’ve just mentioned.

Why is that?

It’s primarily because the Western Left (as well as the more woolly-minded left-liberals who still get much of their ‘theory’ about Israel from the radical Left) is utterly obsessed with both Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. Now much of that monomania is literally a result of political fashion (or just plain fashion). However, that political hipness itself is grounded in the radical Left’s hatred of capitalism; its hatred of nationalism (though not, of course, Palestinian, African and other forms of nationalism); and its deep distrust of what they call “capitalist democracy”: all of which are instantiated in one – and only one – Middle Eastern state: Israel.

Finally, why has Hama upped its rockets attacks against Israel recently?

It will have at least something to do with Hamas attempting to tap into the Sunni-Muslim wars which are currently occurring in Syria and Iraq. In fact rockets attacks into Israel have already been carried out from Syria.

Hamas and ISIS have a lot in common. (It's rumoured that ISIS is already in Gaza and fighting with Hamas.) However, Hamas, being Muslim Brotherhood, has even more in common with the many Muslim Brotherhood “rebels” fighting in Syria. You know, the people Barack Obama is both funding and training.

The Labour Party's New Stance on Immigration?


Edward Miliband and other Labour MPs are keen to tell us that the now old New Labour Party (prior to 2010) “became too disconnected from the concerns of working people". Ed's New New Labour Party, instead, is offering us lots of vague and mushy alternatives to the previous bigoted dismissals of millions of British people.

The Shadow Prime Minister, for example, has said that immigration should now be "properly managed". (Sorry - did old New Labour say that immigration should be improperly managed?) Yvette Cooper has also called for a “sensible” debate on this controversial subject.

There is a problem here for New New Labour.

As soon as individuals or groups (such as UKIP; though many others too) offer the voters concrete – rather than mushy – proposals about immigration, they are still dismissed - by the Labour Party - as being... yes, you guessed.... “close-minded” (Tony Blair's word), “bigots” (Gordon Brown's word) or “racists” (every Leftist's favourite word). So there's no real change there then.

What we have here is the predictable, required and necessary acknowledgement that New Labour had gone way too far with its knee-jerk dismissal of millions of Brits. Indeed New New Labour has even admitted that Gordon Brown's infamously bigoted response to a Labour voter – which nonetheless simply encapsulated the Labour Party's general position – simply wasn't cricket. (Or at least it created too much negative publicity for the Labour Party and for Gordon Brown himself.)

So now the Labour Party is even trying to convince the gullible amongst us that - this time! - things are actually going to be done about immigration. After all, there's an election next year!

The other thing is that the Labour Party has talked tough before; usually just a few minutes before an election. (Not unlike the Conservative Party, then.)

Prior to the 2005 and 2010 elections, for example, the Labour Party gave us some hard talk about controlling the number of asylum seekers. Indeed Gordon Brown even talked about “British jobs for British workers”. (Even this wasn't what it seemed. It wasn't a call to stop immigrants taking British jobs. It was simply about improving the training of British workers.)

And on top of all that, it's still the case that Ed Miliband thinks that the list of “biggest issues” for the next election doesn't happen to include immigration. (It's not even at the bottom of the list.) That list includes, instead, schools, the cost of living and the NHS.

This shopping list for the election, then, appears to be a direct contradiction of the other things Ed Miliband has said on the issue of immigration recently (some of which are noted in this piece). So there's no surprise there then.

Essentially, the Labour Party is in a bind when it comes to immigration.

(The sincere and intricate emptiness of the Fabian Society's own recent pronouncements on immigration – which square very well with what Ed Miliband and co. have recently said on the subject - can be found here.)

Jon Cruddas's Marxist Analysis of Immigration

The Labour Party could go with the Marxist analysis of the immigration situation as offered by Jon Cruddas MP. (No; I'm not saying that Cruddas is a Marxist. I'm simply saying that his analysis is - largely - Marxist.)

To Cruddas (as well as many other Labourites and Leftists), “it's all about jobs, housing and training”. Basically, if everyone had a job, there wouldn't be any critical remarks about immigration.

But what if it isn't “all about jobs”? What if it's also about the behind-the-scenes experiment in mass immigration which the Labour Party carried out between 2000 and 2010, the countless Muslim ghettoes of England, “white flight” from London, Muslim grooming gangs, Roma criminal gangs, parts of England which now look like Karachi or Mogadishu, prejudice or indeed racism towards the white (non-Leftist) working class, the closing down of free speech against Islam and immigration and so on?

If it were all about jobs, then that would mean - on this crude though very common Marxist analysis - that all those who voice concerns about immigration would be unemployed. Yet that is palpably false.

Despite that, it should be stated here that many Leftists say that UKIP, for example, is a “multimillionaires party” (as the SWP-UAF's Sabby Dhalu put it). Of course such Leftists easily get around that small problem with the auxiliary Marxist hypothesis that UKIP - and other such parties - are indeed capitalist or bourgeois (in the old language) in nature: it's just that they manage to hoodwink many unemployed and working class people (all of whom suffer from "false consciousness") into supporting and even voting for them.

Yet that's manifestly untrue too!

Not all the supporters (not leaders) of UKIP are either unemployed or working class. In fact many Leftists - in other contexts and for other political/ideological purposes - have stated that themselves!

Now, if it's not case that all the people who have a problem with immigration are unemployed (or in low-paid work), then that must mean that there are other reasons why so many people are against further immigration. It's precisely those other reasons (as mentioned above) which are rarely – if ever – tackled by the Labour Party. And that's the case either because these reasons don't fit into the Labour Party's socialist/Marxist analysis of racism and immigration; or they are simply deemed to be unacceptable reasons.

John Cruddas further elaborated upon his class analysis of immigration in a 2010 New Statesman article . In that piece he said the Labour Party was “co-opting” the (racist?) “language” of the BNP when it talked tough (though still acted soft) about immigration. At the same time, according to Cruddas, the Labour Party only “pay[s] lip service to the 'white working class'”.

Diane Abbott MP

It's to be expected that an ideological zealot and career anti-racist like Diane Abbot will have none of this new (pretend?) soul-searching from the Labour Party. Predictably, then, this well-documented anti-white racist comes out with sub-Trotskyist stuff which should have died in 1984 (or even well before that).

In the spirit of Gordon Brown (circa 2010), for example, Diane Abbot believes that even to opens one's mouth for one second on the subject of immigration (unless to talk of its supreme and complete beneficence) is to do so from the “gutter”; not from, say, a large house in a leafy London suburb.

What if Dianne Abbot is saying what many Labour MPs believe but don't say? After all, if she were that at odds with Labour Party, she'd have been kicked out a long time ago. (Yes, the Labour Party's a “broad church”; though there's broad and then there's broad.)

You see, because immigration is a non-issue to Ms Abbot, then any talk about it that the Labour Party actually manages to get around to must – it simply must! - be, as she puts it, “in response to the supposed electoral threat from UKIP”.

Diane Abbot also commits this howling non sequitur in a Guardian article.

In response to Ed Miliband acknowledging the blindly-obvious fact that mass immigration is putting various kinds of pressure on many British people, Abbot said that there would be no NHS without immigrants working in it.

And keeping up the Dave Spart logic, Diane Abbot then went on to
(predictably) say the immigration is indeed all about race; just as all criticism of Islam and individual Muslims (according to The Guardian's Seamus Milne) is also... yes, you guessed it... all about race.

So immigration isn't all about jobs after all - it's also about race?... Hold on a minute. Marxism is even more reductionist and essentialist than that. Yes, it's far more neat and tidy.

As I said earlier, according to Marxist theory, people become racists (or, alternatively, become critical of mass immigration) simply because they don't have a job. Thus it's all about race because it's all about jobs.

Tony Blair

Although Tony Blair is no longer at the heart of the Labour Party, he once was. And what he says today faithfully concurs with what many in the leadership (though not its “grass roots”) still believe on issues such immigration and the EU.

And like Cruddas earlier, Tony Blair's analysis sees it all in terms of jobs and the fear - or even the hatred - of the post-structuralist Other.

Only last month, for example, Tony Blair said that it is “dangerous and wrong” for politicians to argue - or even hint at - the idea “that what's holding [British people] back is that someone else is coming in and taking their opportunity”. Apparently, that's “not true". Now is that not true simply by (multicult) definition? Is it never the case that a new immigrant takes the job of a British person?

Thus, as mentioned in the Cruddas case, there must be an assumption here that it's the state's responsibility to provide literally everyone with a job – even the UK's very recent immigrants.

Then Tony Blair outdid Gordon Brown's 2010 Bigotgate racism (it would have been classed as “racism” if the collective subjects of Brown's displeasure weren't white) by saying that Brits need to rid themselves of their “closed-minded, anti-immigrant, anti-EU, 'stop the world I want to get off'” attitudes. Yes, according to Blair, Brits must collectively cleanse themselves of their false consciousness. We must become as “open-minded”, pro-immigrant, pro-EU, wise, inclusive, sophisticated, educated, tolerant... and pious and sanctimonious as, say, all Leftists and Blairites are.

We can only hope and pray.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Iraq's League of the Righteous: Our Friend in Iraq & Enemy in Syria


One of the groups that America, and perhaps also the UK, may be helping (with training and funding) to fight ISIS in Iraq is Asaib Ahl al-Haq -- the League of the Righteous. This group is a Shia militia led by Sheik Qais al-Khazali. It's also funded and trained by both Iran and Lebanon’s Hizb’allah.

Of course, it can be said that any help the American government will be offering will be to the Iraqi army; not to groups like the League of the Righteous. However, there doesn't really seem to be much of an Iraqi army to speak of. It was the troops of the Iraqi army who either gave up -- more or less without fighting -- or deserted in response to the preliminary advances of ISIS. (90,000 Iraqi soldiers, in total, deserted.) So all the Iraqi government -- if not the Iraqis themselves -- really has are its militias.

The League of the Righteous (Asaib Ahl al-Haq)

By 2011, the League of the Righteous had carried out over 6,000 operations against the Americans, the Iraqi army and the Coalition.

At present, the League of the Righteous has around 10,000 men, which, on some counts at least, is less than ISIS.

The League of the Righteous is not only funded and trained by Iran, it's actually controlled by it. Indeed it operates under the jurisdiction of an Iranian general, Qassem Suleimani, who is the head of Iran's Quds Force. (This group was featured in the news a couple of weeks ago when it sent 100 “advisers” to Iraq.)

In terms of Hizb’allah, not only has the League of the Righteous been funded and trained by it: this Lebanese terrorist group has also been active in Iraq in recent years.

The League of the Righteous is a typical Islamic fighting force in that it fulfils three Islamic requirements: it's a political force, a military force, and a religious force. In fact the military, political, and religious are often blended together in Islam; as the “example of the Prophet” graphically shows.

On Monday the BBC's Jeremy Bowen met a military -- rather than religious -- leader of the League of the Righteous. One of the first things he said to Bowen was that he is “a hard man”. It's not surprising, then, that his paramilitary group prides itself on being extreme. It has more or less said that it could happily outdo ISIS when it comes to sectarianism if it needs to. And indeed the League has done so in the past.

To give just one example of how the League of the Righteous replicates the sectarian actions and attitudes of ISIS, take the case when it stormed a Sunni mosque in Baghdad's Al-Amin al-Thaniyah district (in August 2012) and converted it into a Shia mosque. All Baghdad's Sunnis were thenceforth banned from entering their own place of worship.

The League of the Righteous (or Asaib Ahl al-Haq) has also said that ISIS “is terrified” by the thought of going into battle against it.

The lesson to be learned here is that Shia Islam can be as extreme as Sunni Islam; it just depends on the time and the place.

The League of the Righteous in Syria

The important point is that the League of the Righteous has fought in Syria in defense of Bashar al-Assad's regime. That's not a surprise. Assad is a Shia (i.e., Alawite).

It has fought alongside and been funded by Hizb’allah. This Lebanese Islamic group is also Shia.

The League has also been trained and funded by Iran. Yes, Iran is a Shia theocracy.

In terms of Syria itself, it has been reported that there are between 8,000 and 15,000 non-Syrian Shia (mainly Iraqi) fighting against the Sunni rebels in Syria. In fact those non-Syrian Shia will be fighting against many non-Syrian Sunnis (including ISIS and Sunnis from the UK).

So this is the scenario.

The U.S. is training and funding Sunni “radicals” to fight Bashar Assad's regime.

The U.S. may well be also training and funding Shia militias in Iraq to fight ISIS in Iraq.

Now here's the crunch.

Some of the Shia that the U.S. may be training and funding in Iraq will be fighting the Sunni radicals in Syria. That means that the U.S. is both supporting and fighting the same groups. In other words, the American government is supporting Shia in Iraq; though it's fighting them in Syria. And it's supporting Sunnis in Syria; while fighting them in Iraq. Sure, the U.S. isn't fighting and supporting the same groups in Iraq. Nor is it doing that in Syria. Still, it is fighting groups in Syria that it's supporting in Iraq.

Now all this could be played down by the American government simply by saying that the League of the Righteous hasn't got an important or relevant role in Syria. However, the Shia militia does have a fighting force, the Haidar al-Karar Brigades, in Syria which has already fought in southern Damascus and West Aleppo against the Sunni “rebels”.

In any case, even if Iraq's Shia militias weren't fighting in Syria (which they are), the Iraqi government itself wants still the Assad regime to survive and the Sunni rebels to be defeated. Thus, if we forget the League of the Righteous for one moment, we can still say that the American government is supporting a regime (the Iraqi government) which supports another regime (Assad's government) which it is also fighting against.


Notes on American Thinker Comments

1) It can be said, by critics, that the American government is making clear and sophisticated distinctions between different kinds of Sunni and Shia group. However, that doesn't work in this League of the Righteous case.

Sure, Muslim Brotherhood (or CAIR) members wear suits and ties and even trim their beards for dinner parties in Washington. So, yes, they aren't like ISIS. Similarly, Shia multimillionaire exiles in America weren't really like the League of the Righteous (which dates back to, I think, 2006 or before) and other Shia militia in Iraq.

Despite those distinctions, it's still the case that groups the US government supports in Syria will be fighting the League of the Righteous in Syria. That has already happened.

Similarly many Sunni "rebels" (what does that word mean?) in Syria not only sympathise with ISIS in Iraq, it has been reported that many have joined ISIS. In other cases, various Sunni groups in Syria have actually given control of the wars (in Syria and Iraq) to ISIS.

Another way of putting all this is to say that many members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria will be both fighting Iraq's (Shia) League of the Righteous as well as joining - or at least allying with - ISIS.

2) ".... as the recently deceased Fouad Ajami asserted, those are the lands of 'I against my brother; my brother and I against our cousin; and my cousin, my brother, and I against the stranger'."

Yes, that's right. There are indeed many examples of Sunni and Shia coordinating or allying together.... but only when it helps the war against kuffar.

For example, Shia Iran has funded Sunni Hamas in Gaza. And you often get much all-Muslims-unite talk when it's aimed, again, against kuffar. Thus some Muslim Brotherhood, for example, have said that all the divisions in the Islamic world are because of Western "divide and rule" strategies. Yet, in Egypt, Pakistan, etc. that very same Muslim Brotherhood has come out with anti-Shia propaganda which would make ISIS blush.

Similarly with the Shia media-Muslim Mehdi Hasan in the UK. He's always downplaying the Shia-Sunni divide when it comes to fighting "Western capitalism"; yet he's on video slagging off Sunnis, Sunni Pakistan, Sunni Saudi Arabia, etc. These criticism had nothing to do with Sunnis (such as the Saudis and Pakistanis) being in cahoots with the West. His criticisms were purely theological.

3) "It's a complex situation---and it's one that really at its root was instigated by Vladimir Putin...turning who would normally be allies of the West into mortal enemies."

Are you referring to Putin's (or Russia's) support of Shia states and Shia forces? That is, if the US had supported Iran and Assad's Syria, then Putin wouldn't have stepped into the fold?

So I'm not sure what the argument is. That the US gov. should have supported Iran and Assad instead of the Sunni "rebels"?

Despite that, the US gov is supporting Shia in Iraq. Yes, it may come to pass that if it doesn't do what the Iraqi regime wants it to do ( that is, fund Shia militias and even bomb ISIS), then Russia will take its place instead. But why should that make a difference to Americans? I would prefer that Putin funded Shia militias and bombed ISIS than Americans. He can do the job for us if he wants. Still, will there be a Russian hegemony in Iraq after the possible destruction of ISIS? I've no idea really.

If the situation is "complex", as you say, then I don't think that too much emphasis can be placed on what Putin has or hasn't done. Yes, there are big powers involved; though there are also millions of Muslims involved who have their own take on things. No amount of money, oil and power (whether America's or Russia's) will change that.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Why Syria? Why Gaza?

It's just been made public that various leaders in the UK drew up plans to equip and train a force of up to 100,000 “rebels” to fight against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.

It was primarily General Sir David Richards' idea and it was first suggested in 2012. The plan even included a “shock and awe” operation similar to the one against the Iraqi army in 2003.

It has also been reported that the military plan was even considered by Prime Minister David Cameron and the National Security Council. “Officials” in Washington were also in on the plan. However, all these institutions and individuals deemed it to be too “radical” (or too “risky”).

Interestingly enough, though, only a week or so ago Barack Obama was demanding $500 million to train and fund the Free Syrian Army and other groups.

Unintended Consequences

Military interventions often make things worse (as can be said about the intervention in Iraq in 2003).

As Professor Michael Clarke, of the Royal United Services Institute, put it:

"There are no good options over Syria. It is a slow-motion road accident."

In other words, there's no way of predicting all the “unintended consequences” of military intervention simply because there are just so many variables involved. However, there are some unintended consequences which are predicted: it's just that they aren't intended. In other words, these predicted - though unintended - consequences are simply deemed to be the unfortunate by-products of military intervention; though they are still viewed as being politically acceptable.

In addition, when you make the losers the winners (such as the Sunnis in Syria or, previously, the Shia in Iraq), then at the same time you'll be making the winners the losers (such as the Shia/Alawites in Syria, or, previously, the Sunnis in Iraq).

Despite all that, the people directly involved in conflicts are desperate for help; and understandably so. Indeed some peoples - or at least their leaders - who otherwise hated the West (or America) have sometimes come to beg for its help.

Monzer Akbik, a spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition, is directly involved in the conflict in Syria. He said:

"The international community did not intervene to prevent those crimes... [which]could have saved also a huge humanitarian catastrophe."

Has Monzer Akbik (as well as people like him) been active in campaigns for intervention in, say, Nigeria or the Congo? I doubt it. More relevantly, would Mr Akbik be in favour of action against an equally repressive Sunni regime or even against the (Sunni) jihadists of ISIS operating in Iraq and Syria itself? And historically, were the majority of Syrian Sunnis in favour of the intervention in Iraq to get rid of a Sunni leader – Saddam Hussein - who was far worse than Bashar Assad?

Why Syria and Not Nigeria or the Sudan?

So why Syria?

There have been very many equally bad - sometimes worse - conflicts in which Britain and America haven't - even for one moment - contemplated the possibility of military intervention.

Take the genocidal Islamic campaign in the Sudan between, roughly, 1991 and 2005 in which over one and a half million Christians and animists were killed by the regime in Khartoum and the jihadists of Janjaweed. Over two million people also died due to the resultant starvation caused by the conflict; and over four million people were displaced. In addition, Sudanese Muslims captured over 200,000 southern Sudanese and Nuba to use as slaves.

What about the 35,000 deaths as a result of Islamic terrorism in Pakistan between 2001 and 2011? (That 15,000 more deaths than those who have died as a result of “civil strife” in West Bank/Gaza between 1948 and 2014.) Should we also intervene in Pakistan – even if its President, Mamnoon Hussain, asked us to?

And finally: what about what's happening with Boko Haram in Nigeria or al-Shabab in Kenya at the moment?

It's often said that “we can't intervene everywhere” so we may as well intervene in the case of X or Y. Yes it's true that we can't intervene everywhere. Yet that statement only raises exactly the same question: Why Syria?

It can also be said that there are aspects of the conflict in Syria which weren't the case in the Sudan and which aren't the case in Nigeria. Then again, we can say that there are aspects of the case in Nigeria/Congo/Sudan/etc. that aren't the case in Syria. In other words, do those differences really make a difference? For example, it can be said that many Syrians are calling for intervention. Yes; though many Syrians – e.g., Shia, Christians, etc. - aren't.

The many calls for intervention in Syria are partly a consequence of the fact that Sunni Muslims in the West, as well as Syrian exiles, are very good lobbyists. They are better than, say, Sudanese/Nigerian Christians or the Thai Buddhist victims of the jihadists.

Another relevant factor is that there are between three and five million Muslims in the UK: 90% of whom are Sunnis. And, of course, it is the Sunnis of Syria who are the victims of the Bashar Assad's Shia (Alawite) regime.

More Bad News in Gaza

Think also of the obsessive attention to detail we find in the case of almost every Israeli action against the Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza. There are far worse conflicts throughout the world.

As I said about intervention in Syria, it's often said – mainly by Western Leftists - that “we can't focus on all conflicts” so we may as well focus on Israel and the West Bank/Gaza. It's true that we can't focus on all conflicts. Yet that statement only raises the exact same question again: Why focus on what's happening in Gaza and the West Bank and not on, say, Pakistan or southern Thailand?

Here again it's not the intensity of the conflict or the scale of the suffering that's the primary reason for the obsessional scrutiny of - or the monomania about – the West Bank and Gaza.

The Israel-Palestinian conflict has been one of the least bloodthirsty of all 20th and 21st century conflicts with a maximum of 15,000 deaths (1948-2009) due to “civil strife”; which, importantly, also includes much Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence. Yet the fact is that more people have died (up to 120,000!) in what are called the Mexican Drug Wars than in the entire Israel-Palestinian conflict: and in far fewer years. (These Mexican drug wars are largely ignored by much of the European media; unlike what's happening in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.)

All this is also because there are far more American and European journalists in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza than in any other country outside Europe and America. (Though this too is partly a result of ideological/political bias.) On the other hand, other journalists (the non-Leftist ones) have called the Muslim and Arab world – outside Gaza and the West Bank! - “the arc of silence”.

So now let's put the cards on the table.

National Socialists (Nazis) show their very deep, sincere and profound sympathy for (brown) Palestinians because they are being "oppressed" (in their eyes) by evil Jews and also by a "capitalist pseudo-democracy" (Israel). 

International Socialists (Leftists/"progressives") show their eternal and monomaniacal sympathy for the Palestinians because they are being "oppressed", in their eyes, by... well, evil Jews and also by a "capitalist pseudo-democracy".


So it's frequently the case that the decision to intervene in a foreign conflict isn't determined by the number of deaths or the severity of the conflict.

Similarly, it's often political and/or ideological bias that determines which political events become big news stories and which ones are largely ignored.

This isn't to say that political bias is necessarily wrong or even that it's something that can be overcome. How can it be? My writing on this very subject displays my own political bias. Indeed when someone says that Journalist X or Politician Y is “politically biased” that doesn't automatically mean that what this politician or journalist says is false or wrong. 

All that's being said here is that political and ideological bias exists and it is that bias which largely accounts for where we militarily intervene. Similarly, political and ideological bias also largely – or sometimes only partly - explains why certain political events become major news stories whereas other equally – or more - serious political events do not. 


Notes on American Thinker Comments

1) "Close to 130,000 have died in Syria in just a few years, the slaughter of Christians continues in Islamic African nations and the ethnic-cleansing of Christians in Middle East countries has finally been noticed by Prince Charles and Tony Blair. Still Gaza is the big news item and only when Israel retaliates. (The dozens to rockets launched this year prior to Israel's actions were never reported.)"

Virtually all the major - and even the minor - conflicts in the world in the late 20th and 21st centuries had a higher body count that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians: Algeria, the Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, west Africa, etc.

So you can only assume that the fixation is political/ideological (as well as racial) and not something to do with the severity of the conflict. And indeed it is.

Israel commits three sins: it's capitalist, it's a democracy and it's a state for Jews. Thus, even if only three Palestinians had died in the entire period, Leftists and Nazis would still obsess about Israel's "oppressive treatment of the Palestinians".

2) "Now that Egypt is fighting the Muslim Brotherhood, so should Israel in Gaza. I read today that Egypt is planning to import natural gas from Israel."

The leaders of Egypt have always had an ambivalent relationship to Israel. Even the nationalists, such as Nasser, felt the need to come out with much crude stuff about Israel and the Jews. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, just like Hamas, has never had an ambivalent attitude to Israel - it must be destroyed. Not only destroyed as a state: every Jew must also be ethnically cleansed from this "Islamic land"; as every Jew has almost been ethnically cleansed from the entire Middle East (save 10,000 in Iran).

That's why the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Egypt's Anwar Sadat - because of his overtures to Israel.

To put it in the words of Azzam Pasha of the Arab League:

"This will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre..."

3) "The author is undoubtedly correct, but his explanation is incomplete - for it does not factor in deeper motives for intervention, not only in Syria but in the Ukraine, namely the competing western and eastern energy blocs vying for control of the enormously lucrative and strategically-important oil and natural gas trade in the region."

That's why I said it was "partly" a response to Syrian lobbyists (or however I phrased it).

What you say about oil is interesting.

The Left says "it's all about oil" (or global warming, etc.). In other words, it's all about Western capitalism.

But it's never all about X or Y.

Nonetheless, although Leftists provide a Marxist analysis of all conflicts in terms of, well, capitalism and it overseas adjuncts, I would never say that it's not about oil at all.

The Left's default position is to blame Boko Haram, Syria, Iraq... everything on Western capitalism. Without that fixation on evil Western capitalism and its adjuncts in the Arab and Third World, Leftists wouldn't know what to say. Their analyses of all these conflicts are reductionist and essentialist.

Still, it has something to do with oil - just not everything.

"The western bloc consists of the U.S., European Union/NATO, Israel, and the Sunni Muslim gulf oil states of the Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, etc.). The eastern or Russian-led alliance, on the other hand, consists principally of Russia, China, and the Shi'ite states of the Middle East such as Iran, Syria (and possibly Iraq)."

Yes, I can buy that... up to a point. Despite saying that, ideology, Islam, individuals, societies, etc. still run free from the power of these various oil lobbies - no matter how much money and power they have. Money and oil can't lead people along blindly. (Leftists are never led along, are they?)

Leftists, for example, said that the intervention in Afghanistan was all about an oil pipeline being built, I think, from Turkey to somewhere in one of the Muslim republics (or the other way around). The US and UK intervened in 2001. After 13 years, as far as I know, that pipeline still hasn't been built. In fact, because of the Taliban, the mountains, the tribal wars, etc., it was always a long shot that it would ever be built. Still, it gave Leftists the opportunity to construct a reductionist (Marxist) analysis of the conflict in Afghanistan.

"... George Soros and his kind (including Barack Obama) aren't interested in Syria or the Ukraine because they care about the plight of ordinary people in either place; they are there because they see a chance to make a great deal of money and expand their power. In the end, it always comes down to money and power. Cui bono - who benefits?"

No, it's never only about money and power. Not even with George Soros.
Your analysis completely goes against Obama's affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood and his possible Islamic beliefs. To you, it's all about money and power. Perhaps money and power are the means to bring about Obama's - and even Soros's - ideological dreams and fantasies.

That phrase, Cui bono, is something I read a lot in The Guardian or on Nazi websites. It's too conspiratorial for me. Sure, it has the advantage of simplifying things. Power, money and oil are indeed big players; though boiling the entire Obama phenomenon down to his love of power and money goes against what most people who post on here say about the President. To me it sounds like a Marxist analysis which completely discounts factors that aren't to do with economics and power (money).

As I said to FeralCat (below), I didn't say you are a Marxist. I said you offered a Marxist analysis of a very specific subject.

I can't see how my saying that you are offering a Marxist analysis (even if I'm wrong) is an ad hominem; especially since I explained my view. If I had accused you of being a Marxist (full stop), that would be an ad hominem.
You even quote what I said: "Marxist analysis which completely discounts factors that aren't to do with economics and power..." That is not an ad hominem. And I included other points in my initial comment. Now I may be wrong; but it wasn't an ad hominem.

"... Barack Obama... interested in Syria or the Ukraine because they care about the plight of ordinary people in either place; they are there because they see a chance to make a great deal of money and expand their power. In the end, it always comes down to money and power. Cui bono - who benefits?"

I can't fit all that together with your new comments about Obama being Muslim Brotherhood and being "driven ideologically".

How about a compromise? -

Mr X can be driven by power/money and by ideology/religion.

Indeed, as I said, sometimes power and money are but a means to further an ideology; or, in Obama's case, Sunni Islam (or the Muslim Brotherhood).

Think here of Maurice Strong, the warmist and self-described socialist who's also a multimillionaire businessman who has used his money and clout to further UN "globalism". He even helped found the UN's warmist apparatchiks the IPCC. In that respect, he's very much like George Soros.

Money/power and ideology (world socialism) go together in Maurice Strong's case.

Again, I didn't say he is a Marxist. I said he offered a Marxist analysis. There's a difference.

People on the Right are often spotting other conservatives/right-wingers offering Marxist analyses without thereby classing them as "Marxists". You can use specific Marxist analyses without being an outright Marxist.

The problem is, if you boil everything down to economics (or oil), and discount the independence of ideology, consciousness and, in some cases, religion, you can't get much more Marxist than that. It's called materialist reductionism.

Even some people in various Christian churches use Marxist analyses about, say, poverty, Israel and the Palestinians, why Hitler came to power (because of capitalism and with the "help of capitalists", etc.) and so on.

Taking in economics or (oil) etc. is fine, as long as people don't say "it's all about oil" or all about Western capitalism's global warming (e.g. Boko Haram), etc. When you reduce everything to capitalism, the greed of capitalists and various conspiracies between capitalists and political leaders, then you're offering a Marxist analysis.

There are conspiracies, sure, and there is capitalism, it's just that the Marxist picture is simplistic and quite deliberately so. Only simple (reductionist) pictures will fire "the people" up to embrace the revolution... or so Marxist activists have it.

4) When I said "without that fixation on evil capitalism and its evil adjuncts in the Arab and Third World", I wasn't telling people what I thought, I was saying that this is what many most Leftists think.

There is no Western imperialism and certainly no colonialism - in the 19th century senses - in the Arab world or anywhere else today.

Most of the Left base what they think about this on a book written by Lenin in 1917. That Leninist vision might have been updated a bit; though it's still at the heart of the Left's anachronous views about "Western imperialism" or "Western colonialism".

For example, the Israel-obsessives of the Left say that the Jews were "colonialists" in Palestine (before the state of Israel was created) even though they never exploited the Palestinians (in factories, farms or anywhere else), they improved the lives of Palestinians (by harnessing the land through irrigation, etc.), they often employed them as equals; and they worked the land themselves. In fact the lives of Palestinians improved dramatically from the 1920s - or before - onwards as a result of Jewish know-how. (The Arab population grew dramatically too, and Palestinians began to live longer as a result of "Jewish colonialism".)

As usual, Leftists/Marxists are fixated on theories (about "imperialism" and "colonialism") and they make damn sure that reality, or the facts, fit their theories rather than the other way around.

5) "The UK military Chief was most likely told to put a contingency plan together as to how many men this 'rebel' army would need to have , in order to depose Assad. He himself might not agree with it .We can't presume he did/ would have .It is his job to obey The PM & Cabinet."

Actually, I think it was the other way around. It was almost exclusively - from what I've read - the General's idea and Cameron and co. rejected it.

All I can say that General Sir David Richards may be brilliant at his job - military strategy; though I bet he has almost no idea about Sunni-Shia history or the fact that the Sunni "rebels" are overwhelmingly led by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, I bet he knows next to nothing about the war between the Syrian Baathist regime and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood proceeded the "civil war" (which began in 2011) by some 60 years. In other words, in a sense the civil war didn't begin in 2011 - it began in the 1940s or even before.

Added to that it can be said that the overall Sunni-Shia civil war began in 656AD.

However, I wouldn't say that I know that the General has little knowledge about these things. It's just a bet.

When I read and hear military men talking about these conflicts; they rarely mention the ideologies or beliefs of the people involved. That's not what they are trained to study.

And even if the General were an expert on Shia-Sunni history, that knowledge wouldn't be paid attention to by UK's political leaders. In other words, it wouldn't go down well in the Foreign Office, or wherever, if he stressed the Islamic and historical nature of the conflict in Syria. Then again, I don't know what he knows. But I'm pretty sure about what he can and can't say to David Cameron and other leaders.

This is not to say that our military leaders are uninformed. It's just to say that our military leaders are military leaders.

Our political leaders, instead, think - or pretend to think - in terms of goodies and baddies when all the while they may be thinking about "energy imports" and oil.

Then again, if it's all about oil, perhaps we should invade Saudi Arabia and take it over... seriously. Of course the backlash would be massive. But the backlash to the intervention in Iraq was massive too.

If we took over Saudi Arabia, so many problems would be solved... and many other problems created. However, the problems solved would far surpass the problems created.

6) "The author first asks: why Syria and not Sudan or Nigeria?"

That's a question I would ask the US and UK governments. I know that all of us have our own ideas as to why Syria was chosen and, say, Nigeria, etc. have been ignored.

The point is that talk about oil, etc. is not the reason our leaders give, of course. They talk about "humanitarian catastrophes" and the like. Yet on that reasoning we should be intervening all over the place; which we don't. (Think of various conflicts in Congo, in which literally millions have died.)

However, I don't think it's all about oil either. How could it be when there are so many players involved?

For example, how can we square the common view (on American Thinker) that Obama is intent in destroying the US economy, and even the US itself, with the idea that he's prepared to fight wars, or arm Sunni Islamists, in order to secure oil... for an America which he hates?

Unless it's all about Obama simply gaining more power and money. And I don't entirely accept that either.