Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Classical Toryism of Labour

My old friend Nick Bibby, whose return from Korea I take as a sign that hostilities there are about to be resumed, writes:

Just as they had south of the Border, it was the Tories that kicked off the anti-independence campaign in Scotland.

In both cases Labour’s struggle to decide whether it disliked the Tories or the Nationalists more was short-lived.

As the only truly British party – with serious representation and the prospect of government in Westminster and the devolved parliaments – Labour is in an unenviable position.

The Scottish Tories are a contradiction in terms and, for all of his protestations, David Cameron could live quite comfortably with Scotland leaving the union and taking its voters with it. Power at Westminster destroyed the Lib Dems north of the Border. The nationalists see Westminster as a sinecure but a sideline. The Greens are already separate parties on either side of the Border.

Only, Labour has everything to lose and nothing to say.

Large chunks of the Scottish Labour Party support breaking the Union, which would almost certainly result in a northern nation where Labour was the natural party of government and left of centre values were the mainstay of political debate. Contrary to popular belief, separation would not doom the remainder of the UK to a servile future governed by the home counties; England is not as Tory a country as a London based media tends to assume.

Whatever the reason, two parties that should be natural allies treat each other with a disdain that is unmatched in British politics. Both claim to be ‘left of centre’ parties and do so with roughly the same amount of credibility. Their antagonism represents a schism in Scottish politics but also raises an interesting question of whether there is a coherent leftwing position on Scottish independence, regardless of partisan affiliation.

There is certainly an impressive body of evidence that Scotland – as with Canada, New Zealand and others – is naturally to the left of her more populous and affluent neighbor and should join that community of former colonies.

Alex Salmond is also keen to associate Scotland with a Nordic or Scandinavian political tradition of social democracy. Certainly the historical links between Scotland, Canada, New Zealand and the liberal traditions of northern Europe are both strong and quite distinct from the ‘top table’ imperialism further south.

Certainly Keir Hardie and other Scottish giants of British left wing history stood fully behind Scottish home rule. Nineteen Labour leaders later and the image of Ed Milliband tripping over himself to agree with David Cameron on the issue may be a little unseemly but is hardly conclusive in either direction.

The economics of separation have been almost entirely argued out from a post-Thatcherite perspective and have owed more to political convenience than economic reality. Scotland will neither be plunged impoverished hell nor vaulted into a stratosphere of wealth by independence. The pie will be smaller than that of the UK as a whole but is likely to be cut rather more fairly.

The general principle of locating sovereign power as close to those it effects directly is certainly a left wing one. This view, taken by the Greens but nobody else, seems a more coherent leftwing position than the nationalism of the SNP or the classical Toryism of Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The reasons for this seem to owe more to tribal enmity that political sanity.

The simplest examination of General Election results at least since 1945 gives the lie to the lazy fantasy that an independent England would have had, and therefore might have in the future, a permanent or semi-permanent Conservative Government rather than, as was and would be the case, a Labour Government almost exactly as often as happened within the United Kingdom, including with comfortable or landslide majorities on every occasion when that was the case under the current arrangements.

Those who would counter that that was and would be seats, not votes, are almost always strong supporters of First Past The Post, and must face the fact that England would never return a single-party government under any other electoral system. Great swathes of England scarcely elect Conservative MPs at all. The notion that the Conservative Party has a unique right to speak for England is as fallacious and offensive as the notion that the Conservative Party has a unique right to speak for the countryside.

It would be pointless for the North of England (with a population considerably larger than that of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined) to remain in the United Kingdom if its economically leftish social conservatism serving and served by agriculture, manufacturing and small business, and rooted in Catholicism, Methodism and a High Churchmanship quite different from that in the South, were no longer able to support and to be supported, either by Scotland’s economically leftish social conservatism serving and served by agriculture, manufacturing and small business, and rooted in Catholicism, Presbyterianism and Episcopalianism, or by Wales’s economically leftish social conservatism serving and served by agriculture, manufacturing and small business, and rooted in Catholicism, several varieties of Nonconformity, and the sane High Churchmanship that provides the mood music to the Church in Wales.

The North would be at least as capable of independence as either Scotland or Wales, and would have every reason to pursue that path if they did. But who would then pay for the City to be bailed out next time, and the time after that, and the time after that? And what would the smug South East drink, or wash in?

There used to be two big parties in Scotland, Labour and Conservative. There are now two big parties in Scotland, Labour and SNP. It is obvious from where the support for the SNP has come. Lo and behold, they turn out to be the posh, the wannabe posh, the devotees of shortbread tin Scottishness, the socially conservative in that Church of Scotland way (although heaven alone knows what the Conservative Party ever offered them, any more than their English and Welsh equivalents), the pathological enemies of municipal Labour and of the trade unions, and the white Protestant supremacists.

Bevan ridiculed the first parliamentary Welsh Day on the grounds that “Welsh coal is the same as English coal and Welsh sheep are the same as English sheep”. In the 1970s, Labour MPs successfully opposed Scottish and Welsh devolution not least because of its ruinous effects on the North of England. Labour activists in the Scottish Highlands, Islands and Borders, and in North, Mid and West Wales, accurately predicted that their areas would be balefully neglected under devolution.

Eric Heffer in England, Tam Dalyell and the Buchans (Norman and Janey) in Scotland, and Leo Abse and Neil Kinnock in Wales, were prescient as to the Balkanisation of Britain by means of devolution and the separatism that it was designed to appease, and as to devolution’s weakening of trade union negotiating power. Abse, in particular, was prescient as to the rise of a Welsh-speaking oligarchy based in English-speaking areas, which would use devolution to dominate Welsh affairs against the interests of Welsh workers South and North, industrial and agricultural, English-speaking and Welsh-speaking. Heffer’s political base was in Liverpool, at once very much like the West of Scotland and with close ties to Welsh-speaking North Wales.

There is a strong feeling among English, Scottish and Welsh ethnic minorities and Catholics that we no more want to go down the road of who is or is not “really” English, Scottish or Welsh than Ulster Protestants want to go down the road of who is or is not “really” Irish. The Scotland Office Select Committee is chaired by Ian Davidson, a Co-operative Party stalwart and Janey Buchan protégé who is therefore a hammer both of Scottish separatism and of European federalism. There is no West Lothian Question, since the Parliament of the United Kingdom reserves the right to legislate supremely in any policy area for any part of the country, the devolution legislation presupposes that it will do so as a matter of course, and anyone who does not like that ought to have voted No to devolution.

The Welfare State, workers’ rights, full employment, a strong Parliament, trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies, mutual building societies, and nationalised industries (often with the word “British” in their names) were historically successful in creating communities of interest among the several parts of the United Kingdom, thus safeguarding and strengthening the Union. The public stakes in the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland are such permanent, non-negotiable safeguards of the Union.

The Union can only be defended in these terms and within this tradition, while any failure to defend the Union cannot be described as left-wing in any way, shape or form. Ed Miliband, over to you.

Buy the book here.

Saint George And The Dragon

Admittedly a bit harsh on Melanie McDonagh, who does a lot of good on Coffee House, even if in this case she does mistake Haleh Afshar for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

There could not be more a Christian cause than opposition to the Iraq War, opposition to any war against Syria or Iran, or opposition to Zionism. The Iraq War has devastated Christian Mesopotamia, the Christians have already been expelled from Homs, and if the Syrian rebels won then they would be expelled from the entire country, to which many of them have fled because of what we have already done to them in Iraq.

Iran has reserved parliamentary representation for two ancient Christian communities, the Armenians and the Assyrians, as well as for Zoroastrians and Jews. There would be none of that under any alternative, and the Tombs of Daniel, of Habakkuk, and of Esther and Mordechai would doubtless be destroyed, although since they are not in Israel and the pilgrims to them are just embarrassingly religious distant cousins of the Zionists, who cares?

There is reserved Christian representation in the Jordanian Parliament and on the Palestinian Authority, whereas the ancient indigenous Christians in Israel, including Nazareth, face being stripped their citizenship, along with the ultra-Orthodox Jews, if the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister has his way.

In the Lebanese homeland of Galloway's wife, the Annunciation earlier this week was a public holiday because it unites the Christians and the Muslims, which latter also believe that Jesus was Virgin-born and the Messiah promised by the earlier prophets. But it is certainly not a public holiday in the land where it occurred, founded and run by people who, even on the rare occasions when they believe in God, adhere to the Talmudic view that Our Lady was a prostitute.

Galloway's sainted namesake, about whose Feast such a newfangled fuss will be made next month, is buried in that namesake's native city, which is now in Israel. That it is, is why hardly anyone keeps up the age-old Christian-Muslim unity at and around his shrine, since three quarters of the people who did so were violently expelled in 1948.

It is true that those Christians, whose families have been so ever since the Day of Pentecost, bear little or no resemblance to the Church of Sarah Palin or the United Congregations of Michele Bachmann. So much for the smug Evangelical belief that they are the restoration of the community described in Acts. That community is still there, and it looks nothing like them.

But American Protestant missionary activity has had an important impact. Its universities, untainted by association with British or French colonialism, nurtured generations of Arab nationalist leaders, Muslim as well as Christian. As did those with the most interest in defining the local and putatively national identity as Arab rather than Islamic, namely the ancient indigenous Christians. That was, and very largely still is, Arab nationalism: the fruitful encounter between indigenous Catholicism and Orthodoxy on the one hand, and the educational opportunities opened up by American "mainline" Protestants on the other.

Alas, the numerical decline of Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism and Methodism in American society has had an impact on, especially, the Republican Party, while the decline of those bodies in doctrinal and moral orthodoxy has cut them off from the wider Anglican, "Calvinist", Lutheran and Methodist worlds.

It was not by coincidence that the Republican Party, especially, was a vehicle of paleoconservative Arabism (and Anglophilia) before it was taken over the Dispensationalist, "Manifest Destiny" lot that had no institutional ties to the Arabs, as well as by the New York Jewish Left. Just as it was no coincidence that the Conservative Party was a vehicle for High Tory Arabism (and hostility towards America in exactly the terms that cause paleocons to wish to locate their country within a broader and deeper British tradition) before it was taken over by the people who accrued to Margaret Thatcher.

So paleocons, take note: the politically electrifying union of popular Catholicism and Orthodoxy with an academic leadership defined by traditional, not fundamentalist, Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism and Methodism in their American expressions has happened before. It was specifically and successfully a bulwark against political Islam, as well as against Marxism. It was called the Arab nationalism of the Near East. And it is still there.

Beginning At Home

Or at least in the House.

On Any Questions, Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons, revived the story of George Galloway's previous suspension from that House because of questions around the funding of the Mariam Appeal.

Well, Liam Fox's Atlantic Bridge has been deregistered as a charity because it was really just a device whereby the Israeli Far Right, its American Amen Corner, and the genocidal government of Sri Lanka, ran an alternative foreign policy out of the office of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Defence.

So, when is Liam Fox going to be suspended from the House of Commons? Or, more appropriately, expelled from it?

After The UUP

Beyond the fact that whichever of it and the DUP happens not to be providing the First Minister at the given time is always that little bit more Agreement-sceptical, there really is no remaining point to it if, as was effectively decided today, it is not going to be "going into Opposition". The root of the problem with the setup in Northern Ireland is that there is no such thing as Opposition with designated benches, time for debates, representation on committees, and so forth. Everyone is supposed to be in Government all the time. In which case, who is asking any questions? Ah, there's the rub.

Even by the standards of these things, the UUP is a loose federation of local franchisees: liberal-Left (or, these days, liberal-Right) intellectuals, industrial-municipal machinists, agricultural-municipal machinists, Monday Clubbers, and so on. By all accounts, the Monday Clubbers, in particular, are regrouping, being no longer necessarily anti-Agreement, but having other concerns these days. Has anyone bothered to check whether Brendan McConville is no longer a member of Sinn Féin? And no party is able, or apparently even willing, to stop Sinn Féin from trial-running its desired banishment of the Catholic Church from the schools throughout Ireland by banishing Northern Ireland's Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist clergy from their role in the schools that, after all, they set up.

For what are the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland to the DUP? As little as mainstream Irish Catholic culture is to Sinn Féin, so is mainstream Ulster Protestant culture to the DUP. The Orange Order's ban on Free Presbyterian ministers as Chaplains may have been lifted, or it may now be widely ignored. Like, lest Paisleyites gloat, the ban on alcohol in Orange Halls, and the ban of attendance at Catholic weddings and funerals because the Mass is celebrated. But it certainly used to be in place and in effect, well into the recent past. Yet the UUP can now produce only two Leadership candidates who can see no difference between Paisleyism and the three historically mainstream Protestant bodies, and would no more wish to preserve their civic role than extend its.

And then there is the fact that the authoritative Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey now shows over half of Catholics to be pro-Union, with only one third in favour of a United Ireland, although that is still a vastly higher proportion than would vote for it in the Republic, where the issue simply no longer exists as a mainstream political concern. Yet who is taking account of these realities? Catholicism, and with it the broadly leftish socio-economic concerns of the Catholic community, is even more objectionable to the UUP's runners and riders than either fundamentalist or traditional Protestantism. Once, they would have been One Nation Tories who duly resisted attempts to drag the United Kingdom into wars of liberal intervention. But no more. Is this the first British party to have only neoliberal neoconservatives in it? Though not the first on the island of Ireland. And where are the Progressive Democrats now?

The carve-up between two lunatic fringes stops bombs from going off in England. Though not in Northern Ireland. But who asked them?

Friday, 30 March 2012

Without A Day's Loss To Strike Action

No fuel strike has even been called. Yet the Government is now effectively obliged to give Unite whatever it wants, not to end such an action, but merely to prevent it, even though it might never have happened, anyway. It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

We are back in the position that we were in for four and half long years between September 1992 and May 1997. Everyone, including the Government, knew that the Government was finished. But everyone was left waiting for it to go away, and it stayed on until the last possible moment.

Yet this is even worse, with a Prime Minister whose party does not so much as command an overall majority, but with the entire parliamentary system newly rigged in order to ensure that he remains in office until May 2015, no matter what.

These are going to be three very, very, very long years indeed.

In Tutela Nostra Limuria

Sir Simon Jenkins told the Question Time audience that no one made or makes the fuss about Diego Garcia that we make about the Falkland Islands. But his point needs to be reversed.

Imagine if we did do something like that to the Falkland Islanders, who were then just told to get on the next boat going anywhere, which would be to Argentina. Argentina could quite reasonably turn round and say, "Well, we sure as hell wouldn't treat you like that."

The Chagossians have no desire to be Mauritian, and are not well-treated in Mauritius, which is even worse for them in practice than being not well-treated, to say the very least, by Britain. They remain proudly British, doubtless a contributing factor when the famous David Miliband lied to Parliament in order to create the world's largest marine reserve where they are properly entitled to live, thereby ensuring that they could never return. Over to his brother.

The British Overseas Territories are British by choice, and those which remain even now always will be. The same is true of the Crown Dependencies. To be British is to be not just any, but at some level all, of English, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Manx, Channel Islander, Mediterranean, North American, Caribbean, Southern African Creole, Indian Ocean Creole, Polynesian, South American in the sense of a product of the British "informal empire" that one dominated South America.

Sort out the problem of the British tax havens. But do so while charging the British people of the Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies only home fees to study at British universities.

Do so while building the airport on Saint Helena, which is essential to the defence of the Falkland Islands, and while holding a proper inquiry into the healthcare situation on Saint Helena.

Do so while giving justice to the Ascension Islanders and to the Chagossians, in both cases regardless of what a foreign power might think.

Do so while restoring the BBC English for the Caribbean Service.

And do so while recanting David Cameron's pre-Election pledge, barely reported by his media creators, to give a share of Falkland Islands oil revenue to Argentina without requiring the slightest movement on the sovereignty question.

Come back to Number 10, Jim Callaghan.

Come into Number 10, Ed Miliband.

Extradition, Expulsion, Election

The Home Affairs Select Committee is absolutely correct to demand that applications for the extradition of British citizens to the United States be tested in court, and that there be a forum bar whereby a British judge would decide in which of the two countries justice would better be served by a trial. However, for David Cameron to do anything about this, then he and his supporters would have to be Tories, while their Liberal Democrat partners would have to believe in liberty and democracy. So, Ed Miliband, over to you.

Certain columnists who have long had trouble distinguishing among Britain, America and Israel have been running a smear campaign against Christopher Tappin. And the American Ambassador has been lobbying our MPs to oppose that restoration of our liberty and sovereignty. I do not know when the expelled Iranian Ambassador ever interfered directly in our parliamentary process. When can we expect the American Ambassador to be expelled? Why has he not already been?

There is no reason to ask what would happen if a British Ambassador in Washington behaved like that. He never would, because he would know that no one on Capitol Hill would pay him the tiniest heed if he tried. That total lack of attention would be entirely correct. What does it say about our lot, that a foreign emissary sees any point in making such approaches to them?

Communalism And The Far Left Front Defeated

In a Bradford constituency where 40 per cent of the electorate is Pakistani Muslim, a Bradfordian Muslim of Pakistani extraction has been massively defeated by a Dundonian Catholic of Irish extraction. If anything, a candidate who, although not himself a Muslim, is far closer to the universalist and egalitarian core of Islam, has defeated the brazen nominee of the baradari system, the means whereby the ancestors of today’s Pakistanis kept the caste system going after they had converted to Islam. What has happened at Bradford West has been a victory, by the choice of Pakistani-descended British Muslims, for inclusive, ideological and interest-based British politics over the baradari-based politics of Pakistan.

In any case, even if every Muslim in Bradford West had voted for George Galloway, then he still could not have won 56 per cent of the vote, and that on an eight-way split and with a 50 per cent turnout, leading to a majority of 10 thousand due to a whopping 36 per cent swing. The extremely mixed University Ward gave him 85 per cent of its vote. People will say that he made much of Kashmir, but what if he did? In certain constituencies in London and Greater Manchester, all the political parties require their respective candidates to support Israel, and that State is presuming to dictate the outcome of the London mayoral election. What was the view of his baradari opponent on Kashmir?

As for the claims that Respect is the first overtly communalist and sectarian party in mainland British politics since the Liverpool Protestant Party or whatever, and that communalism and sectarianism are historically alien to the British Left, I honestly do not know which is funnier, these people’s obvious failure ever to set foot outside secular or occasionally observant Jewish London, or their failure to recognise that as in itself a communal and sectarian interest, whether expressed through the Communist Party of old and the Trotskyist groupuscules, or through the New Labour that those things have gone on to become, at least within that and certain other communal and sectarian milieux. They supported the Islamist dismemberment of Yugoslavia. Galloway opposed it. They supported taking out the bulwark against Islamism in Iraq. Galloway opposed it. They support the Islamist dismemberment of Russia. Galloway opposes it. They support the Islamist dismemberment of China. Galloway opposes it. They support taking out the bulwark against Islamism in Syria. Galloway opposes it.

He may have been mixing with some of the wrong crowd in recent years, but George Galloway is a pro-life Catholic who was never a member of the Campaign Group or even of the Tribune Group. He is an outspoken opponent of Scottish separatism, and of the only European Union that is ever going to exist. His anti-Blairite Labour views on the great socio-economic issues of the present moment are in line both with public opinion and with the position of the Leader of the Labour Party. His victory over a Blairite candidate, insofar as he held any political opinion rather than being a mere cog in a machine, constitutes a vindication and endorsement of the Labour Leader over his enemies, of this Miliband over the other one.

This is hardly a Labour loss at all. Galloway says that he wants a Labour Government, and he will vote with Ed Miliband’s Labour against the neo-Blairism of the Coalition. The Blairite remnant within the Labour Party is the real loser here: Labour has not lost a by-election to either Coalition party, but it has, insofar as it has, to Galloway and Respect.

This morning, on the Today programme, which never accepted that Oona King was no longer an MP and which persistently treated her as one until she was raised to the peerage, the Blairite Broadcasting Corporation shocked Salma Yaqoob, a hardened political activist, into near-silence by resurrecting the old blood libel against Galloway with regard to attacks on British troops.

The complete collapse of the Liberal Democrats was entirely predictable and universally predicted, but it is no less significant for that. Although a tiny local Far Right faction put up a candidate, it is telling both that he received a derisory vote on such a high turnout by by-election standards, and that he was not a member of the BNP. The BNP’s Strasbourg seat in Yorkshire is clearly doomed, and with it doubtless also the one in the North West, also based heavily in the ex-industrial Pennines. It is necessary to note UKIP’s persistent inability to return anyone to Westminster even now that the Greens have managed it and Respect has managed it twice. That, moreover, is before the UKIP Leadership passes to Neil Hamilton.

However, the biggest story of all here is the catastrophe for the Conservative Party, which, if it is ever again to form a majority government, desperately needs to win seats in Yorkshire (as well as Wales, the North West, and Scotland and the North East on a really good day), and this one was not without its leafy suburbs. But then, it is the Conservative Party that really is the fully functioning British political vehicle of the Far Left, of Islamism, and of South Asian communalism.

The entire Socialist Workers’ Party faction of Respect in Tower Hamlets not long ago defected to the Conservative Party after having fallen out with the Islamists. Johanna Kaschke, a longstanding Respect and Communist Party figure, left the Labour Party in 2007 after having failed to secure its nomination for the parliamentary seat of Bethnal Green and Bow, and ended that year by joining the Conservative Party, in which she has rapidly become a well-connected activist. Around the country, local factions of various Asian and other origins routinely defect from Labour or other things to the Conservatives on frankly communal grounds, and are always welcomed with open arms.

David Cameron’s vehicles toured Ealing Southall blasting out in Asian languages that Hindu, Muslim and Sikh festivals would be made public holidays under his party. His “Quality of Life Commission” (don’t laugh, it’s real) then proposed giving the power to decide these things to “local community leaders”. What else will those figures be given the power to decide in return for filling in every postal voting form in their households in the Bullingdon Boys’ interest, and making sure that all their mates did likewise? To the statelets thus created – little Caliphates, little Hindutvas, little Khalistans, and so on – people minded to live in such places will flock from the ends of the earth, entrenching the situation forever.

With some fanfare, the Conservative Party recently welcomed John Marek, who was fiercely anti-monarchist and anti-hunting while Labour MP for Wrexham, and who went on to become the founder and only ever Leader of Forward Wales, a Welsh separatist, Welsh-speaking supremacist, economically Hard Left, unyieldingly Politically Correct, Tommy Sheridan-endorsed, RMT-funded party which was only dissolved in January 2010, and which continues to be named as Marek’s party, despite his having become an enthusiastic Conservative, on the list of former MPs who continue to hold House of Commons passes.

Will David Cameron also recruit, if he has not already done so, Marek’s fellow founder-members of Forward Wales: Ron Davies, one of the very few former Cabinet Ministers without a seat in either House, and a noted campaigner both against shooting and for the abolition of the monarchy; Graeme Beard, a former Plaid Cymru councillor in Caerphilly; and Klaus Armstrong-Braun, who in his time on Flintshire County Council was the only Green Party member ever elected at county level in Wales?

Cameron has already signed up Mohammad Asghar, a Member of the Welsh Assembly who has moved seamlessly from Plaid Cymru. Rehman Chishti, now a rising star as MP for Gillingham and Rainham, was Francis Maude’s Labour opponent in 2005 while working for Benazir Bhutto, whom he assisted from 1991 until her assassination in 2007 in her leadership of a party the motto of which includes both “Islam is our Faith” and “Socialism is our Economy”; he was still doing that job when he defected to the Conservative Party in 2006 and became an aide to Maude as its Chairman. And so on, and on, and on.

They obviously find the 1980s Radical Right’s company as congenial as they find each other’s, with David Cameron and 80 per cent of his party’s MPs as members of Conservative Friends of Israel, which is not even a front for the thoroughly racist Israeli Government, since that would require some degree of secrecy, or at least of discretion, about the treasonable nature of the relationship. Liam Fox has had to resign as Secretary of State for, of all things, Defence because the Israeli Far Right and its nominally American fellow-travellers had, treasonably, been running a parallel foreign policy out of his office and through its subsidiary fake charity, now deregistered. Blue is the new Red-Brown.

Buy the book here.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

No Kindred Spirits

Same-sex "marriage" so that present civil partners can take their next of kin rights with them when they leave the country?

No chance.

Polygamous unions contracted perfectly legally in many other jurisdictions have no such status here.

Nor would unions of this kind have any abroad unless they were also legally possible in the jurisdiction in question.

And that rules out almost every jurisdiction on earth.

There Is No Liam Byrne Left

Elected mayors, like elected Police Commissioners, are wholly out of keeping with this country's parliamentary, rather than presidential, res publica.

But any Blairite scalp is welcome.

Time to bring in someone who will oppose the Coalition's Tony Blair tax and foreign policies, Alan Milburn health policy, Andrew Adonis education policy, Peter Mandelson marriage policy, Stephen Byers transport policy, and James Purnell welfare and employment policies.

Take Back The Power

This is what happens when we leave our energy policy to private companies and to foreign states. Not that we cannot learn from abroad, of course. China will be using the coal ash from her coal-fired power stations to provide the uranium necessary for her nuclear power stations. There is a reason why some countries last and some don't. China has been China for five thousand years.

This perfectly beautiful programme has been developed in partnership with Canada, source of much of our uranium, which we also obtain largely from Namibia, and from Australia when the government isn't made up of the ecomaniacs who have, alas, taken over the ALP and disenfranchised its natural supporters. Who says that Commonwealth ties don't matter? The ruling faction of the ALP is as anti-monarchist as it is hostile to the proper jobs and the energy security that nuclear power provides.

Apparently, British coal is too high-quality to deliver uranium. Just as well that we have the Commonwealth, then. But the right sort of coal is abundant in Spain, Germany and Poland. Good luck to them. And good luck to the Japanese, who are looking into extracting uranium from seawater. Yes, seawater. Have we any of that? I think we have.

The last Government might have been wrong about everything else, but it was right about nuclear power, even if not about how to do it. And this Government may be wrong about everything else, but it is right about nuclear power, even if not (yet?) about how to do it. Quite apart from the fact that this island stands on vast reserves of coal, nuclear power, properly executed, would arguably be so cheap that it would not need to be metered.

Reverse privatisation. Renounce climate change hysteria. And restore the proper jobs that ground proper communities, the economic basis of paternal authority, the national sovereignty that is energy independence and public ownership, the binding of the Union that is public ownership, the Commonwealth ties on which our uranium supply depends, and the freedom to stay out of wars over other people's oil or gas.

All guaranteed by the State, since that is what it is for.

Yes, all right, I of all people should know that there is no point in hoping for either of the Whig, Gladstonian parties to sign up to this. So, Ed Miliband, over to you.


In 1998, both Coalition parties voted in favour of the Government Bill that banned the creation of any new grammar schools. In any case, no such thing had ever happened during 13 years of Margaret Thatcher, a veteran destroyer of such institutions, and of John Major, who had promised one in every town but who had delivered precisely none. So what has been approved today for Sevenoaks is merely a new "campus". Course it is.

Three cheers for Kent County Council, truly the heirs of Eric Hammond, whom I was once told by a once-frequent but now apparently vanquished critic below the line was "obscure" because he himself had never heard of him. So Google him. If you have to. In which case, though, you know absolutely nothing about this debate, and therefore ought not to pass comment in it.

But if you do know what you are talking about, then you will also know that in this the councillors of Kent are the heirs of Sidney Webb who wrote the old Clause IV, of "Red Ellen" Wilkinson who led the Jarrow Crusade, of George Tomlinson, of R H Tawney, and of all the Labour councillors and activists who resisted Thatcher as Education Secretary when she closed so many grammar schools that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled.

They are standing with the public that, as soon as the Wall came down, successfully demanded the restoration of Gymnasien in what is still the very left-wing former East Germany, and which more recently saved them in the Social Democratic heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Telegraph: Plan A Has Failed

With my emphasis added, Daniel Knowles writes:

That's the news from the OECD, anyway. They've published their estimate of how much the British economy grew by in the first quarter of this year, and, well, it didn't grow at all. It shrank. If their estimates are confirmed when the Office for National Statistics publishes its own first estimate next month, then we will officially have entered a double-dip recession. And to think that, just a few weeks ago, there were whispers about "green shoots".

This is bad news for George Osborne's reelection strategy. The Coalition's plan called for austerity now, and the nation was fully prepared for two or three years of falling incomes. But this will make it clear what we were told in the Autumn statement: we face perhaps another four or five years of pain. In the entire time since the Chancellor came to No 10 in the spring of 2010, the economy has grown by a total of about 0.6 per cent of GDP. That's less than it grew in the last quarter of Alistair Darling's time in No 11.

Of course, it's debatable how much this is George Osborne's fault. His tax rises and austerity have certainly lowered the rate of growth, but not by nearly as much as it has fallen. Rather, the cold wind has come from abroad. Our main export market is the eurozone, where mass, German-enforced austerity is sucking demand out of the system. Despite a 30 per cent devaluation of our currency, our balance of trade with Europe has barely changed in two years – mostly thanks to the EU's downturn.

But as the Conservatives demonstrated so effectively when Gordon Brown was in power, that excuse won't necessarily work. And when the newspapers and broadcasters are screaming "double-dip recession", voters may be less forgiving of the Chancellor's failure to meet his targets.

Putin's Philosophy

Paul Robinson writes:

Imagine that you were to pick up a textbook on American history and find no mention of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson. This is pretty much the situation for anyone in the West trying to understand modern Russia. The standard textbooks have almost nothing to say about the conservative ideas currently dominating the political scene. The Soviet Union vigorously suppressed the key thinkers of the right for most of the last century, of course, but even now that it is no longer a crime for Russians to read their books the West has continued to ignore them.

There is a reason for this. Historians tend to have a teleological focus. They have in mind a defining endpoint—the telos—and wish to explain how we got there. Information that does not contribute to this explanation is ignored. In the case of Russia, the telos was, for many decades, communism. Everyone wanted to understand what it was and why it had succeeded in taking power. Studies of Russian intellectual history therefore quite understandably concentrated on the development of liberal and socialist thought. Russian conservatism, by contrast, was considered a historical dead end and unworthy of study.

As a result, Western commentators nowadays, lacking any knowledge of Russia’s conservative heritage, are unable to place contemporary Russian government within the correct intellectual context.

Analyses of Putin tend to emphasize his KGB past and portray him as bent on suppressing democratic freedoms. As the murdered journalist Anna Politovksaya put it, Putin “has failed to transcend his origin and stop behaving like a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet KGB. He is still busy sorting out his freedom-loving fellow countrymen; he persists in crushing liberty just as he did earlier in his career.” For many in the West, that’s the end of story.

In fact, contrary to this view, Putin fits into a long-standing Russian tradition of “liberal-conservatism.” Modern Russian author A.V. Vasilenko summed up this school of thought, writing that “A strong state is needed not instead of liberal reform, but for reform. Without a strong state liberal reforms are impossible.” This is the basis of what British academic Richard Sakwa calls “a unique synthesis of liberalism and conservatism” embodied in Putin’s rule.

Boris Chicherin (1828-1904) is perhaps the ideology’s founding father. According to historian Richard Pipes, he “espoused Manchester liberalism and civil rights, and, at the same time, supported autocracy.” “The Russian liberal,” Chicherin wrote, “travels on a few high-sounding words: freedom, openness, public opinion … which he interprets as having no limits. … Hence he regards as products of outrageous despotism the most elementary concepts, such as obedience to law or the need for a police and bureaucracy.” “The extreme development of liberty, inherent in democracy,” he said, “inevitably leads to the breakdown of the state organism. To counter this, it is necessary to have strong authority.”

Another major figure was the philosopher Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900). Solovyov believed that Christian love, embodied in the Church, was the supreme political value, expressed through political and economic arrangements which respected the dignity and rights of individuals. Thus, while supporting a close connection between church and state, Solovyov opposed the death penalty and railed against official anti-Semitism. He was what can only be described as a “liberal theocrat.”

Yet another central character in the annals of Russian liberal-conservatism was Pyotr Struve (1870-1944). Originally a Marxist, Struve authored the first manifesto of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (the forerunner of the Communist Party), but he eventually foreswore Marxism and in exile in the 1920s became a prominent supporter of the senior surviving member of the Russian royal family. He managed this remarkable transformation while never altering his core liberal beliefs.

Perhaps the most important work in the liberal-conservative canon is a 1909 volume entitled Vekhi (Landmarks), which an official in the Russian presidential administration in 2009 called “our book.” It consists of a series of sharp denunciations of Russia’s intelligentsia by prominent liberals such as Pyotr Struve, Nikolai Berdyaev, and Sergei Bulgakov, who had been appalled by the anarchy of the 1905 revolution. Vekhi alleged that the intelligentsia had cut itself off from the Russian people by slavishly copying Western ideas and ignoring Russian ones and that it had no respect for the law. The authors concluded that the foundation of government must be a strong legal system.

Putin himself most seems to admire two contemporaries of the Vekhi authors, Pyotr Stolypin (1862-1911), prime minister of Russia from 1906 to 1911, and the philosopher Ivan Ilyin (1883-1954).

Stolypin took over as prime minister in the midst of revolution and did not flinch from using extreme violence to suppress it. So many radicals were hanged that the noose became known as “Stolypin’s necktie.” But at the same time he pursued liberal reforms in the social and economic spheres, most famously enacting changes to give peasants ownership of their land, with the aim of creating a society based on private property.

Putin chairs a committee organizing the creation of a monument to Stolypin in Moscow. He has called Stolypin “a true patriot and a wise politician” who “saw that both all kinds of radical sentiment and procrastination, a refusal to launch the necessary reform, were dangerous to the country, and that only a strong and effective government relying on business and the civil initiative of millions could ensure progressive development.” As one commentator has noted, “Putin could have been talking about himself.”

As for Ilyin, he began his intellectual career as a student of Hegel. Expelled from the Soviet Union by Lenin in 1922, he moved to Berlin. A decade and a half later, forced out of his job for refusing to teach in accordance with Nazi diktats, he then fled from Germany as well and lived the rest of his life in Switzerland.

Putin regularly quotes Ilyin in his writings and speeches. In 2005 he played a role in the return of Ilyin’s body to Russia and its reburial in Moscow with great pomp and circumstance. Later he personally paid for a new headstone for Ilyin’s grave.

Like Stolypin and the Vekhi contributors, Ilyin believed that the source of Russia’s problems was an insufficiently developed “legal consciousness” (pravosoznanie). Given this, democracy was not a suitable form of government. He wrote that “at the head of the state there must be a single will.” Russia needed a “united and strong state power, dictatorial in the scope of its powers.” At the same time, there must be clear limits to these powers. The ruler must have popular support; organs of the state must be responsible and accountable; the principle of legality must be preserved and all persons must be equal under the law. Freedom of conscience, speech, and assembly must be guaranteed. Private property should be sacrosanct. Ilyin believed that the state should be supreme in those areas in which it had competence, but should stay entirely out of those areas in which it did not, such as private life and religion. Totalitarianism, he said, was “godless.”

The reality of Putin’s Russia fits this liberal-conservative model fairly closely. For instance, Putin, like Stolypin, has made major efforts to entrench property rights, as well as to liberalize the economy. In January, Putin wrote that “the engine of growth must be and will be the people’s initiative. We are sure to lose if we rely solely on the decisions of officials and a limited number of large investors and state-owned corporations. … Russia’s growth over the next few years equals the extension of freedoms for each and every one of us.” Putin and Dmitry Medvedev have employed a series of liberal-minded finance ministers who have worked to reduce the burden of regulation on small businesses. Progress has been patchy but real, as reflected in Russia’s recent admission into the World Trade Organization. Western observers tend to miss this and focus instead on the negative, such as steps taken to bring key actors in the energy sector back under state control.

Like the liberal-conservatives, Putin has emphasized what he calls “the dictatorship of law.” Western commentators have denounced the undoubted continuing abuses of legal process. Yet as William Partlett of the Brookings Institution notes, “Putin has paid far more attention to legal reform than his predecessor … making considerable progress toward updating the contradictory Russian legal system. … Furthermore, he has been surprisingly open to implementing human rights norms from the European Convention on Human Rights in the Russian courts.”

Under the Putin doctrine of “sovereign democracy” the state is limited; it does not seek to control every aspect of life. Indeed, it regards freedom as essential for social and economic progress. But where the state does operate it should be sovereign—powerful, unified, and free from the influence of foreign powers. In the eyes of Western critics, Putin’s first-term move to rein in the powers of regional leaders was a straightforward assault on democracy. But to Putin, this was an essential step to eliminate the practice of regions disobeying federal law and to restore “legal unity” in the nation.

Liberal-conservatism also underpins Putin’s attitude towards civil society. James Richter of Bates College comments that “the Putin administration was a much more consistent advocate of civil society than the Kremlin under Yeltsin, although it tried to bend the concept to its own purposes.” Since 2004, the Russian government has set up “public chambers” at all levels of government, designed to serve as a forum through which popular organizations and state bodies can work together. Participants have received generous public funding. At the same time, however, because the expectation is that the chambers will help civil society to cooperate with the state and not challenge it, some in the West doubt their value.

Russian liberal-conservatives were never democrats as understood in the West, and it is not surprising that many here reject their ideology. Richard Pipes considers that Chicherin’s philosophy “was an abstract and unrealistic doctrine.” The idea that the powerful state “could respect civil rights was plainly quixotic.” Similarly, Ilyin’s vision of a limited, law-based, and accountable dictatorship seems naïvely impractical.

But the point here is not whether liberal-conservatism is the right choice for Russia. Rather, the issue is that we in the West fail to recognize this ideology for what it is. Putin has a clear vision of a strong, centralized, law-based government with defined and limited competences, consistent with native Russian schools of thought. Our relations with Russia would be greatly improved if we were to acknowledge and engage with this reality instead of tilting at irrelevant caricatures of a police state.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Taking The Pledge

1. Stop the Government’s raid on pensioners and block its £40,000 tax cut to 14,000 millionaires
2. End rail rip-offs by capping fares increases on every route
3. Force the energy firms to cut gas and electricity bills for 4 million over-75s
4. Stop excessive fees charged by banks and low cost airlines
5. Defend working families from the raid on their tax credits by reversing the Government’s pension tax break for those earning over £150,000.

Pensioners rather than people on more than £150,000. Commuters and other passengers rather than rip-off rail companies, often foreign-owned. Householders and the members of their households rather than rip-off utility companies, often foreign-owned. Customers rather than rip-off banks (often publicly owned, but determined and permitted to pretend that they are not) and airlines, often foreign-owned. And then back to the start again, only this time fighting for those in work rather than for those who have retired from it.

Am I being xenophobic by making some of those points? Not at all. I am defending something called national sovereignty. The disappearance of economic patriotism is the starkest of all the indications that the Conservative Party is defined entirely by its successive influxes of Liberals, and has not a Tory bone in its body.

It is quite extraordinary that our utilities, railways, and if Cameron has his way roads, broken up postal services and broken up health services as well, are owned by foreign companies which in some cases are actually foreign states. State ownership of these things is fine, apparently. Just so long as the state in question is not ours.

There has not been a party which said this for over a generation. It looks as if, by 2015, there will be. It is also on course for a majority government. If everyone who cherishes the majority culture, which that party is defining itself by defending, holds their nerve and votes Labour at the next General Election. It looks more than a little like more than enough of them, of us, will.

On this, on national pay agreements, on Sunday trading, on Post Office privatisation, on the price of postage even before that, on road privatisation, on rural planning, on the NHS, and in the probable form of a free vote on the redefinition of marriage, Labour in the run-up to 2015 is where the Conservatives at least presented themselves as being in 1992: the last line of defence, against an alien and hostile elite, of everything by which the majority culture defines itself.

Considering that the polling done on Sunday gave Labour a 17-point lead, the only people, apart from embittered Blairite journalists, who still have a problem with Labour are those who were never going to vote for it no matter what it said. There are always going to be people like that. But there seem to be very, very, very few of them now.

The shiny Heir to Blair couldn't even win an overall majority, and only his fixed-term fix will keep this Government in existence to the end of this year, never mind for another two and a half after that. Ed Miliband's key to Number 10 is in the bag. If everyone who cherishes that majority culture holds their nerve and votes Labour at the next General Election.

Is Ed Miliband A Jew?

It is a Yes-No question. We all know the answer to it. And we all know for whom he is campaigning in the London mayoral election. Ken Livingstone has undeniable faults. But so much for his alleged anti-Semitism.

In making himself the line of defence of mainstream culture on regional incomes, on Sunday trading, on Post Office privatisation, on the price of postage even before that, on road privatisation, on rural planning, and in the probable form of a free vote on the redefinition of marriage, Ed Miliband might lose upper-middle-class metropolitan liberals, many of whom, it is true, are secular Jewish or occasionally observant. But how much electoral difference is that going to make? And anyway, where would they go now?

The consistently overall majority-delivering poll lead speaks for itself. The people who do not want the supermarkets open all day on Sundays, or family and local community business thus devastated, or the Royal Mail flogged off and thousands of Post Offices closed, or stamps priced out of their reach even under public ownership, or to be charged by oil-rich states to drive on British roads, or the countryside concreted over, or their own marriages redefined over their heads while MPs were whipped to vote for it, or their incomes slashed because they live too far from London to be deemed to deserve to be paid properly, also do not care much for the whining of upper-middle-class, metropolitan liberals who yearn to do as their New York counterparts have done and ban Christmas trees from shopping centres the length and breadth of the country every December.

What is more, that mainstream majority has a Leader who is himself an upper-middle-class atheist Jew from London, and who is equally indifferent towards the whiners. Get out of that one. I bet you can't.

High Time

Although I tend to think that this sort of thing should be passed by Parliament rather than imposed by executive (or judicial) fiat, I am delighted that methoxetamine has been outlawed, and I fail to see why that ban should be for only 12 months in the first instance.

Apparently, this substance is "used as an alternative to ketamine". An alternative to what end? The tranquillisation of horses?

We need a single class of illegal drug, with a crackdown on the possession of drugs, including a mandatory sentence of three months for a second offence, six months for a third offence, one year for a fourth offence, and so on. Within a context in which each offence carries a minimum sentence of one third of its maximum sentence, or of 15 years for life.

But you can't have any anti-drugs laws in a "free" market. That is why we must not have one. Enacting and enforcing laws against drugs, prostitution and pornography, and regulating alcohol, tobacco and gambling, are clear examples of State intervention in and regulation of the economy. Thank God.

Getting The EU Right

Over on Daniel Hannan's Telegraph blog, I am glad to see that I have touched such a raw nerve by pointing out that the Eurofederalist project has always been a platform for the Far Right, including the Conservative Party's internal Far Right, which was at the heart of government under Margaret "Single European Act" Thatcher, which was still hanging around under her chosen successor, and which, in the person on the Monday Clubbing Geoffrey Rippon, had been directly responsible for taking us in under Heath.

The Far Left and the Far Right have both made a show of opposing the EU, and the Far Left probably means it. But, perhaps especially in Britain, it won't for much longer; in fact, those who followed academic Marxism down the cultural rather than the economic road, creating New Labour and then also taking over the Conservative machine under Cameron, have always identified the shift over Europe as one of their definitive changes of mind. The Far Right never really did oppose the EU in principle, and, again perhaps especially in Britain, it no longer even has any reason to pretend to do so in practice.

The opposition now needs to come from the people who have always been most consistent: the pro-Commonwealth Keynesian Tories who have opposed first the European Communities Bill, then Thatcherism, then Maastricht, then neoconservatism; the like-minded, historically normative, never expunged tendency within the Labour Party, now quietly on the rise again; and those who really do believe in the Liberal values of democracy, subsidiarity, transparency, anti-extremism, and anti-protectionism (unlike me, but then I do not see the CAP and the CFP as protecting anything, but the very reverse).

As ever, the Thatcherite and Blairite media will ignore us all completely, just as they did when three times as many Labour MPs as Tories voted against Maastricht and by no means all of the Tory rebels were Thatcherites, several of them having been very hostile to her, as she had been to them.

The Misanthropy of Assisted Suicide

Brendan O'Neill is a libertarian and an atheist with very strong views on both counts. I expect, with a name like his, that he is also a self-defining ex-Catholic. He writes:

It says a lot about the opinion-forming classes that pretty much the only right they get excited about these days is the "right to die". They treat the right to free speech as a negotiable commodity which may be snatched away from un-PC people. They have given the nod to the watering down of other essential rights, such as the right to trial by jury and the right to silence. But the "right to die"? They cleave to that like crazy. It is the one right which, if you will forgive the pun, they would die for.

Today, MPs are debating new guidelines proposed by the Director of Public Prosecutions on who should and should not be prosecuted for assisting a suicide. There is a palpable desire in influential circles for assisted suicide to become a legally recognised, legitimate thing, in order to move on from the current situation where desperately ill people must travel to Switzerland in order to receive a fatal injection. Commentators argue that a humane society should never force a very sick or disabled person who wants out to carry on living.

There is an element of truth in this. But there is a big problem with elevating what is in fact an age-old practice – helping extremely sick people to end their lives – into a "right" which we should all enjoy. Which is that it would treat individual and tragic acts of death-assistance as some sort of social good; it would turn the discreet and humane "final push", which has been taking place in hospitals and homes for centuries, into a socially decreed, positive act. It would, in effect, give a green light to defeatism, to suicidal thoughts, and that is not something society should ever do.

It is one thing for families and their doctors discreetly to assist a loved one who is on death's door. We all know that such things occur. And by and large, society turns a blind eye to such acts of kindness. But it is another thing entirely to elevate such acts into a right – the "right to die" – which society should actively sanction. That would put pessimism on a pedestal, turning the torturous final decisions that some unfortunate people make into a kind of "liberty" which we should all have the right to avail ourselves of.

The rebranding of voluntary euthanasia as the "right to die" speaks to today's profoundly misanthropic outlook. What is really happening here is that influential commentators and campaigners are dolling up their own, highly individuated fears for the future as a libertarian issue, turning their hypochondriacal panic about ending up as helpless into a liberal cause, as if fighting for the "right to die" were on a par with earlier generations' struggle for the right to free speech or protest. They plunder the libertarian language of the past in an attempt to prettify an agenda which is fact depressing and miserable, all about the end of autonomy rather than the meaningful exercise of it.

And the campaign for the "right to die" also seems to be implicitly bound up with today's broader inability to value and celebrate human life. Ours is an era in which newborn babies are referred to as "carbon footprints" and elderly people are looked upon as "bed blockers". We now tend to view human beings as a burden, whether of the environmental or economic variety. It is surely no coincidence that the "right to die" should have become such a celebrated cause at precisely a time when human life came to viewed as a bit of a curse, certainly not an unalloyed good. Indeed, it is striking that some commentators couch their support for the "right to die" in economic terms, reminding us, for example, that each patient with dementia costs the economy "eight times as much as someone with heart disease". In a heartfelt column in today's Times, Melanie Reid, the columnist who was paralysed in an accident, says it is "ridiculous that an educated society, facing an unaffordable explosion in dementia and age-related illness, is prevaricating over [assisted suicide]".

So assisted suicide is about resolving problems such as dementia and old age, is it? It is about cutting costs, because having lots of confused elderly people is simply "unaffordable"? Here, we can see a very clear link between the old, discredited campaigns for euthanasia and the new, seemingly PC push for the "right to die" – in both cases, it is human life itself which is being devalued, as society is urged to "do something" about sick and disabled people whom we can apparently no longer afford to care for.

Israel Encircles Iran

Philip Giraldi writes:

Israel is tightening the noose around Iran. The Israeli government has signed a secret agreement with the government of Azerbaijan to lease two former Soviet military airfields located close to the Iranian border. One of the facilities is being used as an intelligence collection site, with advanced Sigint capabilities and preparations underway for drone operations. The other base is being designated a search-and-rescue facility. It will eventually have helicopters that will presumably be dispatched to aid downed Israeli fliers if there is a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The base will also have limited refueling and recovery capabilities for planes too damaged to make the long flight back to Israel over Iraqi or Saudi airspace. The Azerbaijani bases are much closer to the prime Iranian nuclear targets at Natanz and Fordow than are airfields in Israel itself. Recent Iranian government and media complaints about threatening Azerbaijani activities reflect official concern on the part of Tehran over the new developments.

Tel Aviv is also increasing its presence in neighboring Georgia, which is serving as the conduit for equipment going to Azerbaijan, which is shipped through the Black Sea port of Poti. The Israelis control an airfield in Georgia that is being used for intelligence gathering and logistical support for the large Israeli private-contractor and military-adviser presence in the country. Israeli advisers are training the Georgian army in the use of largely U.S.-supplied military equipment and are effectively partners in the country’s intelligence and security agencies. Drones operating over northwest Iran have been flying out of the Georgian base. John McCain’s 2008 claim when the country went to war with Russia that “we are all Georgians now” becomes a lot more comprehensible when one realizes that the drive to aid the country was largely about supporting Israel.

Israeli intelligence officers and military personnel in mufti are active in Iraqi Kurdistan as well, where they have been recruiting agents to collect information and carry out operations inside Iran. Many of the recruits are affiliated with Pajak, a U.S. State Department-listed terrorist organization. There are concerns within the U.S. intelligence community that the Israelis are playing fast and loose with their affiliation in what are known as false-flag operations, frequently representing themselves as Americans in actions similar to those relating to Mossad’s efforts to recruit Jundallah militants in Western Europe. Israel also reportedly attempted to hide behind a false flag in January when one of its drones that had been operating over Syria went down in Turkey. The Israeli Foreign Ministry initially denied any knowledge, suggesting that the device was American. But the Turks, who have U.S. drones flying from airbases in their own country, recognized that the drone was not of American manufacture, and the Israeli Embassy was forced to recant and eventually apologize. No apology was forthcoming to the United States. Back at home, the FBI is investigating persistent reports that Israeli intelligence officers operating in the U.S. are again pretending to be FBI or CIA to obtain the cooperation of Arab-Americans.

But, as Scott McConnell writes:

The Crisis of Zionism opens with Peter Beinart watching a video on his computer sent by an Israeli friend. It depicts an incident on the occupied West Bank: Israeli military police arrest a Palestinian man for trying to siphon water from the pipes that feed an Israeli settlement, after he had made repeated efforts to secure permission. As he is taken away his five-year-old son, Khaled, cries plaintively after him, “Baba, Baba.” For those familiar with the occupation, the context is clear. The settlers, with the legal rights of citizens of Israel, have privileged access to the aquifers in this arid land and use water at five times the rate of the Palestinians. This inequality is secured by Israeli military law, which governs the stateless inhabitants of this occupied territory. Beinart describes the emotions the video set off in him:

As soon I began watching … I wished I had never turned it on. For most of my life, my reaction to accounts of Palestinian suffering has been rationalization, a search for reasons why the accounts are exaggerated or the suffering self-inflicted. … But in recent years, for reasons I can’t fully explain, I had been lowering my defenses, and Khaled’s cries left me staring in mute horror at my computer screen.

It is a powerful passage in a book filled with them, one that encapsulates and personalizes the inequity of the occupation, the apartheid-like legal distinctions between Jewish settlers and Palestinians, and the grotesque disparity between two people’s access to natural resources and civil and political rights. It captures with precision the rationalizing process of many American Jews, most of whom would decry such injustice were it to occur in America or elsewhere in the Western world. Finally it touches on the ineffable mystery of how sophisticated people change their minds—“I had been lowering my defenses”—a puzzle even for those at the top rungs of opinion journalism.

Peter Beinart is a young (early-40s) and precocious former editor of The New Republic and “liberal hawk” who had once been a prominent voice promoting the Iraq War. For several years now he has been recasting his views, first on American foreign policy and now on the questions of Israel and the Palestinians. He remains a liberal Zionist, committed to a Jewish state that practices the democratic values proclaimed at its founding: “complete equality of social and political rights for all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion.” He is aware that the plausible window for creating such an Israel—with a viable Palestinian state alongside it—is closing rapidly and may be already shut.

The Crisis of Zionism is in part a meditation on the present “golden age of Jewish power,” a critique of the American Jewish establishment, and a less than optimistic view of the increasingly Orthodox religious attitudes that will replace it; in part a history and analysis of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tactical success in undermining the Oslo accords and his shocking humbling of President Obama. While most of Beinart’s arguments are not novel, they are presented with unerring precision. His book is full of keen insights into the contradictions and self-deceptions of his former side. It would not surprise me if this book became a lodestar for American Jews and non-Jews alike who are finding Israel’s policies increasingly difficult to defend.

Beinart throughout blends themes of Judaism and Zionism: Israel and the attitudes of American Jews toward it are each the product of Jewish ideas, often contradictory ones. While this is in many ways obvious, it violates a quite useful, usually unspoken liberal taboo: the idea that Israel is a foreign state, it does not speak for American Jews. One can see the utility of this formulation for almost everyone. When radical anti-Zionists like the ex-Israeli Gilad Atzmon emphasize the inseparability of Israel from Jewishness, they make a lot of people uncomfortable. Beinart is neither anti-Zionist nor radical, but he is playing on the same field: for him the debate about Israel is not simply between competing political choices but about competing moral attitudes within Judaism.

While Jews have experienced an astonishing ascent in America in the past 70 or so years, this rise has not, he argues, changed attitudes at the top of major Jewish organizations. There Jews are still eternal victims, the targets of primordial anti-Semitism. Jewish strength might be reveled in privately, but it is never publicly acknowledged, much less discussed. Soul-searching over how power can be used responsibly is more or less non-existent. The leading organizations are beholden to a relatively small number of rich elderly donors, Palm Beach retirees who write checks based on appeals about “Iran, anti-Semitism, and something bad someone said about Israel.” Anyone who criticizes Israel can be smeared as an anti-Semite. Interestingly, Beinart points out that many Jews know such charges are more often than not ridiculous but rationalize them anyway. “Jews assume that gentiles, because they are powerful, can take it, and that Jews, because of our history of persecution, can play fast and loose in the Israeli government’s defense.”

The Palm Beach retirees will pass on. But Orthodox Jews will increasingly move to the forefront of Jewish organizational life, and Beinart provides ample grounds for pessimism here: modern Orthodoxy is diverse and many-layered, but leading Orthodox institutions promote attitudes that are insular or simply racist—“the soul of the Jew and the non-Jew are made of different material,” says Yeshiva University’s Hershel Schecter, an influential Orthodox rabbi. So there is every possibility that Jewish organizational life in America will move in lockstep with an increasingly right-wing Israel. Beinart notes with alarm that Israeli high-school students are far more intolerant than their elders. Occupation—the practice of it, the justification of it—breeds racism.

The principal political beneficiary of such trends is Netanyahu, Israel’s most powerful figure. Netanyahu grew up in the shadow of Vladimir Jabotinsky; his father Benzion was a close associate of the charismatic founder of Revisionist (right-wing) Zionism. Jabotinsky believed that Zionism must purge Jews of their “childish humanism” and the justice-seeking Judaism of the prophets and toughen them for struggle against the Arabs. Compromise with the Palestinians was unthinkable. As late as 2009, Netanyahu’s father told an interviewer that the Arabs ought to be encouraged to flee their land by denying them food, electricity, and access to education. His son’s primary political goal has been the prevention of a Palestinian state. While some right-wing Israelis pine openly for ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, Netanyahu’s more limited vision is to sequester the remaining Palestinians in four disconnected cantons bisected by Israeli roads and checkpoints and deprived of any agricultural areas, a bantustan plan for 40 percent of the territory. The settlers would keep the rest. When he first came to office in 1996 he exploited a loophole for military bases in the Oslo Accords and declared the entire Jordan River Valley a “military zone.”

As a young man Barack Obama had been influenced by several of Chicago’s leading liberal Zionists, but as a presidential candidate he began to defer to the Jewish establishment. Even so, he retained his commitment to a two-state solution. (As Beinart relates, after Obama’s election a worried Netanyahu tried to open a secret channel to White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, an effort that was rebuffed.) But Obama found he could not prod Tel Aviv into serious negotiations without facing massive political retaliation from the Israel lobby. In 2010 he asked Israel to stop building settlements on territory that would become part of a Palestinian state, if there were to be such a state, but he was forced to retreat.

A year later, when Obama stated that the 1967 borders should be the starting point for renewed two-state negotiations—an American position for more than a generation—Netanyahu delivered what Beinart describes as “one of the most extraordinary humiliations of a president by a foreign leader in American history.” Fresh from speaking at AIPAC’s annual conference, Netanyahu replied that there was no chance of Israel withdrawing to “indefensible lines.” Then Netanyahu went before a joint session of Congress. Each member of Congress had a single gallery pass to give out, and most gave theirs to their largest AIPAC donor. With the hall packed with supporters, Netanyahu received one thundering ovation after another. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who as head of the Democratic National Committee plays a key role in party fundraising, used arm motions to signal to her colleagues when to stand and applaud, and they rose and clapped at Netanyahu’s most controversial statements.

Concluding from this that America was unlikely to help, the Palestinian Authority tried to secure United Nations backing for a state within the 1967 borders. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas claimed before the General Assembly that he wanted not to delegitimize Israel but to coexist with it. Though this vision of a two-state settlement was more or less identical to his own, Obama ordered the State Department into a full-court press to thwart the Palestinian initiative. One State Department official, after lobbying 150 foreign diplomats against the Palestinian effort, told Beinart, “sometimes I feel I work for the Israeli government.” The liberal Zionist American president had been brought to heel.

Beinart’s detailed history of these episodes is the best reported and most incisive one in print. It should put to rest any notion that Israel’s current government has the slightest interest in allowing the Palestinians a state or that Obama can be counted on to move Israel towards fruitful negotiations. The author probably has sufficient establishment ties to ensure his book a fair hearing. For months now Likud-camp Zionists have worried that Beinart has aimed a Walt and Mearsheimer-sized bombshell in their direction. In contrast to the two professors, Beinart, who is Jewish, may avoid having his arguments falsely represented and being smeared as having authored an anti-Semitic book.

Formidable as it is, however, The Crisis of Zionism is not without flaws. It may not be clear exactly at what point the relentless settlement project that all Israeli governments have encouraged will render the two-state solution a political impossibility. But if that point has already been reached, or is about to be, a plea for a democratic Jewish state, no matter how persuasive, is simply no longer relevant. One can understand Beinart’s reluctance to address this question, which could only complicate his argument, while nonetheless wishing he had tried.

The Crisis of Zionism also has a problem of agency. Though few writers are more clear-eyed about the hurdles American Jews face in changing the way their community relates to Israel, Beinart nonetheless writes as if they are the sole audience that matters for a serious argument about Zionism. Perhaps that is simply realism: it can seem that, apart from the Christian Zionists shepherded to support Netanyahu’s agenda, the Mideast opinions of American gentiles simply do not count.

But can such a circumstance endure? America’s engagement with the Middle East once centered on the construction of schools and universities, an outgrowth of the Protestant missionary presence in the region. The first generation of Western-educated Arabs often studied in such schools, so the American presence in the region was associated with science, the education of girls and women, a modernity untainted by colonialism—in short, a genuine program of liberation. A century later, the centerpiece is Israel, and America is best known in the region through such events as its anti-Palestinian vetoes in the Security Council, the fracturing of Iraq by war, and an entire Congress standing to applaud oppressive Israeli policies. One can trace this transformation to many sources, perhaps none more decisive than the slow, silent abdication of the Protestant establishment from its positions of power and responsibility.

Yet this landscape too is beginning to shift, and it has the potential to change more rapidly than Beinart acknowledges. Just as “the question of Palestine” resonates far beyond the borders of the Palestine Mandate, so in American politics its significance has begun to be felt beyond the confines of American Jewish opinion. If American Jews are to help forge a democratic and non-racist Israel, they are unlikely to succeed without allies. It would not be without irony were such allies to be found, among other venues, among the politically active Muslim students in the American universities and those mainline Protestants who are now, finally, finding their voice to say “Enough!” to America’s unconditional support for Israel.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Cameron Lost In The Post

And now the Royal Mail is to be permitted to charge whatever it likes for stamps.

This Government has a death wish. It needs to be put out of our misery.

Forget about the party that is being taken over by Neil Hamilton; the fact that it can be says all that needs to be said about it.

Only one party can defeat the present lot.

In 2015, vote for that party, and if possible campaign for it.

Disseminating American Ideals

Leon Hadar writes:

Americans are once again surprised to learn that the rest of humanity doesn’t always share their hopes and dreams — or even their basic set of values. Hence, in the aftermath of the massacre in Afghanistan of 16 people in the hands of an American soldier, some pundits have been trying to resolve what they consider to be a paradox of sorts.

While the accidental burning of Qurans by U.S. government employees in Afghanistan last month triggered violent protests outside NATO that took at least 29 lives, the intentional mass murder of Afghan civilians, including nine children in Kandahar on March 11, have led to a few mostly peaceful anti-American demonstrations.

That most Afghans seemed to have supported the February 2006 decision by a judge to execute an Afghan aid worker for converting to Christianity or that many Pakistanis refused to condemn the assassination of leading politician Salman Taseer by his own security guard who disagreed with Mr Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, are two other examples of incidents that have dramatised the wide gap between what we tend to regard as the American secular tradition and the continuing powerful role that religion tends to play in the lives of Afghans, Pakistanis and other people who, on paper at least, are considered to be America’s allies in the war against terrorism.

Indeed, it is difficult for Americans to understand that the so-called Enlightenment Project of the 18th Century — with its rejection of the received truth of religion and faith, of church and traditional authorities and its emphasis on individual rights and the liberating power of reason — which sparked a major philosophical and political revolution in the West and provided the ideological foundations for the establishment of the United States — has never become a unified and universal undertaking.

In fact, the growing power of the theocratic political right in the Republican Party, represented by presidential candidate Rick Santorum and his supporters among Christian Evangelists, conservative Catholics, and ultra-Orthodox Jews — who have expressed strong opposition to abortion, homosexual relations and even contraception — is a sign that even in the American Republic that enshrined the separation of religion and state in its Constitution, religious faith and traditions continue to play a major role in public life.

At best, even in the U.S., in the Anglosphere and in much of Europe, the Enlightenment Project and the philosophical traditions, political movements and social and economic systems it sparked (secularism, liberalism, democracy, capitalism, socialism) has been a work in progress, adapted in different ways by different national and cultural traditions.

Hence, advancing women’s rights, religious freedom, racial equality, political rights, and free markets has certainly not been uniform process in the West. For example, Catholic nations like Italy and Ireland had banned abortion and divorce and blacks suffered discrimination in the United States until the 1960s.

And the American version of democracy and capitalism have not been cloned in the rest of the West, including in Canada which, with its government-controlled health care program and European-like parliamentary system, is probably regarded as “socialist” by the leading Republican presidential candidates; while Canadians and west Europeans believe that the continuing American practice of executing convicts is not very, well, enlightened.

At the same tine, non-Western nations such as Japan, China or India have embraced some elements of the Enlightenment Project that seem to respond to their history and traditions as well as their current needs — while rejecting others. Call it Enlightenment a la carte.

Yet since the end of the Cold War, members of the American political and intellectual elites have been operating under the illusion that the rest of the world should and wants to be like them.

Promoting the free-market economic model aka Washington Consensus in the emerging markets; celebrating the so-called Color Revolutions in Ukraine and other parts of the former Soviet empire; and pressing the Freedom Agenda based on liberal-democratic values in Afghanistan, Iraq and the entire Middle East were all part of an American-led ideological crusade that seemed to recall in its ferocity — including through the use of military power — the global revolutionary campaigns launched by the Soviet Union not so long ago.

But the fact is that many non-Western societies are either not ready or are not interested — or both — in being “like us.” The notion that Afghanistan — a society where the family, the tribe, and religion dominate the lives of most individuals, recalling Europe on the eve of modern age — was going to transform itself into a Western nation thanks to American assistance and guidance helped create the high expectations that were never going to be fulfilled.

Moreover, Americans have deluded themselves into thinking that if non-Western nations adopt some of the instruments that were employed in the West as part of the process of democratisation and liberalisation — for example, free elections in Iraq and free markets in China — they are signalling their intentions to embrace the Enlightenment Project and become, indeed, exactly like us. But democracy and free elections in Iraq was seen by Iraqis as a means to empower the majority religious sect (Shi’ite) and dispossess the ruling minority group (Sunnis), a process that would be mirror imaged in Syria if and when free elections there would allow the majority Sunnis to come into power and repress the minority Alawaites who run the country now.

And, if anything, much of the celebrated Arab Spring in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East is strengthening political Islamist groups whose commitment to respect the rights of women and religious minorities is questionable.

Similarly, pursuing the capitalist road to creating wealth and strengthening the economic base of the country is not a reflection of the commitment on the part of political elites in East Asia and elsewhere to the ideals of Adam Smith. It is, in many cases, part of a national economic strategy that helps China and other countries to compete more effectively with the US.

It is true that free markets and free elections can help create the foundations of a middle class whose members challenge the old ruling elites. But as events in Russia demonstrate, that process can be slow and uneven, or like in the case of Turkey, it could even set back secularisation and other forms of Western-style liberalization.

Americans are free to celebrate, cherish and preserve their values of democracy and liberalism that have helped attract millions of immigrants to their country and make their nation economically prosperous and politically stable.

But they should recognize that the most effective way to spread their ideals worldwide is not by forcing them on other nations, but by perfecting their own political and economic model and making it more attractive to other nations.

Planning For 2015

It is perfectly monstrous that these changes will have effect automatically, rather than having to have passed through both Houses of Parliament.

There must be a tax on the productive value of land per acre, other than that occupied by the homes of the less well off, perhaps making possible the abolition of stamp duty, and in any event establishing and enforcing the principle that no one should own land other than in order to make use of it; this was proposed by Andy Burnham when he was a candidate for Leader of the Labour Party. There must also be a statutory requirement of planning permission for change of use if it is proposed to turn a primary dwelling into a secondary dwelling, a working family home into a weekend or holiday home.

We need to repeal the provision for planning decisions to be delegated from councillors to officers, a repeal which needs to be set within the restoration in full of the proper powers of local government, with no tendering out of services in Conservative areas to the people who fund the local Conservative Party (in Labour areas, the Labour-funding unions rightly make sure that things are kept in house), no ultra vires principle, no surcharging, no capping, much proclamation of the fact that local government is significantly less profligate than central government, and none of the things that would not be tolerated in any other comparable country, not least including the frequent redrawing of boundaries, abolition of whole tiers, and such like.

We need to bring back the old committee system, which gave individual councillors real clout, and so made it worthwhile to buttonhole them in the street, in the pub, or wherever, or indeed to write to, telephone or email them; Eric Pickles has made a good start in allowing a return to that system, but he needs to require it. We need a system whereby each of us votes for one candidate and the requisite number, never fewer than two, is elected at the end. And we need a fair, efficient, comprehensible and accountable system of funding, of which, another time.

Three cheers for my excellent MP, Pat Glass, for taking on the Government’s failure to create the promised Supermarkets Ombudsman. Beyond that, we need to make the supermarkets fund investment in agriculture and small business, determined in close consultation with the National Farmers’ Union and the Federation of Small Businesses, by means of a windfall tax, to be followed if necessary by a permanently higher flat rate of corporation tax, and in either case accompanied by strict regulation to ensure that the costs were not passed on to suppliers, workers, consumers, communities or the environment.

There is the most pressing need to revive the movement of those who have resisted enclosure, clearances, exorbitant rents, absentee landlordism, and a whole host of other abuses of the rural population down to the present day. Those who obtained, and who continue to defend, rural amenities such as schools, medical facilities, Post Offices, and so on. Those who opposed the destruction of the national rail and bus networks, and who continue to demand that those services be reinstated.

Those who have fought, and who continue to fight, for affordable housing in the countryside, and for planning laws and procedures that take proper account of rural needs. Those who object in principle to government without the clear electoral mandate of rural as well as of urban and suburban areas. Those who have been and who are concerned that any electoral reform be sensitive to the need for effective rural representation. Distributism and the related tendencies. And those who are conservationist rather than environmentalist.

Farm labourers, smallholders, crofters and others organised in order to secure radical reforms. County divisions predominated among safe Labour seats when such first became identifiable in the 1920s, while the Labour Party and the urban working class remained profoundly wary of each other throughout the period that both could realistically be said to exist at all, with several cities proving far less receptive to Labour than much of the nearby countryside. Working farmers sat as Labour MPs between the Wars and subsequently. The Attlee Government created the Green Belt and the National Parks.

Real agriculture is the mainstay of strong communities, environmental responsibility and animal welfare (leading to safe, healthy and inexpensive food) as against “factory farming”, and it is a clear example of the importance of central and local government action in safeguarding and delivering social, cultural, political and environmental goods against the ravages of the “free” market.

The President of the Countryside Alliance is a Labour peer, Baroness Mallalieu, and its Chairman is a Labour MP, Kate Hoey. For at least three consecutive General Elections until 2010, few or no Conservative MPs were returned by the hunting heartlands of Wales, Yorkshire, the Midlands, Devon and Cornwall.

The present Coalition means, either that Labour is now the only electoral option for the age-old rural Radicalism of the West Country and Hampshire, and for the combination of that with Unionism (or, at least, with a strong suspicion of rule from the Scottish Central Belt or from South Wales) in the North and South of Scotland and in Mid Wales, or else that the Labour Party now demands to be replaced with something that can indeed meet this profoundly pressing and electorally opportune need.

Buy the book here.

"Russia Is No Longer Our Enemy"

So said George W Bush in 2001. (Russia, strictly speaking, never was America’s enemy, and she has a natural alliance with Britain identified by Enoch Powell.)

So Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of Eisenhower’s ending of the Korean War, his even-handed approach to Israel and the Palestinians, his non-intervention in Indochina, his denunciation of the military-industrial complex, and his still-inspiring advocacy of nuclear power as “atoms for peace” 10 years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings: civil nuclear power as the ultimate beating of swords in ploughshares.

In 1960, John F Kennedy branded Eisenhower and Nixon as soft on the Soviets. But then, in 1954, Eisenhower had written to his brother, Edgar N Eisenhower, that, “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H L Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of Nixon’s suspension of the draft, his détente with China and with the USSR, and the ending of the Vietnam War by him and by Ford, an old stalwart of the America First Committee who went on to sign the Helsinki Accords.

Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of Nixon’s belief in wage and price control as surely as in the Clean Air Act and in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, as surely as in the War on Cancer and in the War on Drugs, as surely as in Title IX (banning sex discrimination in federally funded education) and in the desegregation of schools in the Deep South, and as surely as that the United States should launch no war over the Soviet Union’s treatment of its Zionist dissidents, who have turned out to have been just as unpleasant in their own way as were many other categories of those who happened to dissent from the Soviet regime, and who now constitute a significant obstacle to peace in the Middle East, where they are busily engaged in denaturalising both the indigenous Christians and the ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Nixon was forced out over something that no one really found shocking then any more than we would find it shocking now, although I suppose that we ought to mourn the passing of a world in which they felt obliged to pretend that they were shocked by it. He was forced out by the motley crew that had sought to replace Johnson with Bobby Kennedy as the Democratic nominee in 1968: the not always mutually exclusive categories of Friedmanites and Trotskyites, Israel Firsters and white supremacists; in the California primary, Kennedy had denounced Eugene McCarthy’s support for public housing as a “catastrophic” proposal to move black people into Orange County.

Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of the Nixon and Ford Administrations’ stark contrast to the pioneering monetarism and the Cold War sabre-rattling of the Carter Administration, which was particularly bad for abusing the noble cause of anti-Communism by emphasising Soviet human rights abuses while ignoring Chinese and Romanian ones.

Carter, who was not above electorally opportunistic race-baiting, even happily allowed the Chinese-backed Pol Pot to retain control of the Cambodian seat at the UN after Phnom Penh had fallen to the rival forces backed by Vietnam and therefore by the Soviet Union. But Carter, for all his unsung prophetic calls against materialism in general and oil dependence in particular, had had the nerve to brand Ford as soft on Communism for his entirely factual statement that Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland were “not dominated” by the Soviet Union.

Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of Reagan’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 1983, and his initiation of nuclear arms reduction in Europe, for all the heavy Trotskyist influence over his foreign policy. Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of the condemnation of the Israeli bombing of Iraq in 1981 by Reagan and by almost all members of both Houses of Congress, including many of the most hardline Evangelical conservatives, Cold War hawks or both ever to sit on Capitol Hill.

Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of James Baker’s call to “lay aside, once and for all, the unrealistic vision of a Greater Israel” in order to “foreswear annexation, stop settlement activity”, and of Baker’s negotiation of the voluntary disposal of all nuclear weapons by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of Republican opposition to the global trigger-happiness of the Clinton Administration. And Obama is, at least potentially, the true heir of Bush’s removal of American troops from Saudi Arabia after 11th September 2011, thus ensuring that there has been no further attack on American soil, despite his foreign policy’s having been subject to an even heavier Trotskyist influence than Reagan’s had been, as well as to a far heavier, very closely related ultra-Zionist influence.

With or without Obama himself, that which in 2008 was the Obama Coalition is, at least potentially, another movement in the tradition of the American Anti-Imperialist League that endorsed William Jennings Bryan, and of the America First Committee of Norman Thomas (Presbyterian minister and anti-Communist campaigner to build a Farmer-Labor party, denounced by Trotsky), Sargent Shriver (Peace Corps and Special Olympics founder, McGovern running mate, and pro-life Catholic), and Shriver’s future brother-in-law, John F Kennedy.

Buy the book here.