Tuesday 16th of July 2024

the new idiotic britannic lot.....

London’s support for Kiev during the conflict with Moscow will remain at the same level under his leadership, the new Prime Minister of Britain Keir Starmer has told Vladimir Zelensky.

Starmer replaced Rishi Sunak as the head of the UK government on Friday after the Labour Party he leads claimed a landslide victory in a general election, securing at least 412 of the 650 seats in parliament. One of his first phone calls in the new role was with Zelensky.

The Ukrainian leader wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday that during their conversation he congratulated Starmer on becoming prime minister and “wished him success in fulfilling the British people’s expectations of the new government.”

“I am grateful to Prime Minister Starmer for reaffirming the UK’s principled and unwavering support for Ukraine,” he said.

According to Zelensky, he and the British premier had “coordinated positions” ahead of the NATO Summit in Washington on July 9-11 and discussed ways to further strengthen the “partnership” between Kiev and London.

Starmer later shared Zelensky’s post on his page, claiming that “Ukraine’s ongoing fight against Russian aggression matters to all of us.”

“The UK’s support [for Kiev] remains unshakable,” the PM wrote, adding that he is looking forward to meeting Zelensky in person.

Britain has been one of the biggest backers of Ukraine during the conflict with Russia, pledging £12.5 billion (around $16 billion) in support for Kiev, including £7.6 billion (around $9.7 billion) in military aid, since February 2022.

Starmer becomes the UK’s fourth prime minister during this period, after Conservatives Boris Johnson, who resigned in September 2022, Liz Truss, who set a record by stepping down on her 15th day in office, and Sunak, who headed the government until Friday. However, London’s commitment to Kiev remained unchanged despite the changes at the helm.

Earlier this year, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that the role played by Britain during the conflict in Ukraine was “even more aggressive, more elaborate in its provocative assertiveness than of any other participant, including even the US.”

In May, London’s ambassador in Moscow, Nigel Casey, was summoned to the foreign ministry following remarks by the UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron that Ukraine has the “right” to use UK-provided weaponry to strike targets deep inside Russia, if it decides to do so. Casey was warned that “British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond” could be targeted if such attacks do happen.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons and ammunition to Kiev by the US, UK and their allies will not prevent Russia from achieving its military goals, but will merely prolong the fighting and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO. According to Russian officials, the provision of arms, sharing of intelligence, and training of Ukrainian troops effectively means that Western nations have become de-facto parties to the conflict.

https://www.rt.com/news/600556-uk-ukraine-zelensky-starmer/

 

peace means war.....

NATO has effectively made warmongering its raison d’être by jettisoning its original “peaceful” and “defensive” nature, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has claimed. 
Hungary’s leader, a vocal critic of Western involvement in the Ukraine conflict, has repeatedly warned that ever more escalatory steps by the US-led military bloc could eventually lead to a direct military confrontation with Russia, yielding catastrophic consequences.

On Friday, Orban paid a surprise visit to Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Hungarian prime minister’s office clarified that he was on a “peacekeeping mission.” The discussion between the two leaders centered on potential ways to peacefully resolve the Ukraine conflict. Wrapping up the talks, Orban acknowledged that Moscow’s and Kiev’s positions remain very “far apart.” He added, however, that “we’ve already taken the most important step – establishing contact,” and vowed to continue the effort.

Earlier in the week the Hungarian prime minister arrived in Kiev, where he sat down with Vladimir Zelensky. Orban advocated an immediate ceasefire and negotiations during the visit.

On the same day as his trip to Moscow, an op-ed penned by Orban was published in Newsweek which addressed the latest tendencies involving NATO, of which Hungary has been a member since 1999.

In it, he stressed Budapest’s active participation in multiple NATO operations and initiatives over the years, as well as its compliance with the bloc’s 2% defense spending target. Orban noted that the NATO his country joined 25 years ago was a “peace project”and a “military alliance for defense.”

However, “today, instead of peace, the agenda is the pursuit of war; instead of defense, it is offense,”Orban lamented.

The premier said “ever more voices within NATO are making the case for the necessity—or even inevitability—of military confrontation with the world’s other geopolitical power centers.” He warned that this attitude “functions like a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

He noted that several member states have recently entertained the possibility of launching a NATO operation in Ukraine.

In late February, French President Emmanuel Macron said he did not rule out the deployment of French troops to Ukraine. Even though his suggestion quickly drew criticism from Germany and other members, the French head of state has doubled down on the controversial idea on multiple occasions since.

In May, Estonia and neighboring Lithuania signaled their readiness to send troops to Ukraine for logistical and other non-combat missions.

According to Orban’s Friday op-ed, unless NATO changes tack now, “it will be committing suicide.”

 

https://www.rt.com/news/600557-hungarian-pm-orban-nato-warmongering/

 

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red button.....

 

By Richard Norton-Taylor
Declassified UK

 

One of the first tasks confronting a new prime minister, after an audience with the king, is to write a “letter of last resort.” Sir Keir Starmer will be asked to write to an (unnamed) commander of a Trident missile submarine on patrol in the Atlantic.

The letter might tell the commander, now uncontactable after a devastating strike on Britain, that the prime minister wished to retaliate by firing a nuclear weapon at the assumed attacker.

Starmer will be asked to write the letter after being “indoctrinated” by the chief of defence staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, who will explain precisely what damage a Trident missile could cause. 

Each Trident submarine carries eight missiles with a maximum of 40 warheads, containing more firepower than all the bombs dropped in World War II, including those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The missiles onboard a Trident submarine could directly cause more than 10 million civilian casualties, with huge disruption to the climate and global food supplies. 

Starmer has to write the letter in his own hand, giving detailed instructions about what Britain’s response should be in the event of a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the country.

The letter would be opened by the submarine commander, who would have to conclude that the prime minister was no longer in a position personally to take command of the situation. 

The options in the letter are said to include the orders: “Put yourself under the command of the U.S., if it is still there”; “Go to Australia”; “Retaliate”; or “Use your own judgment”.

The procedure is brilliantly exposed in David Grieg’s play, The Letter of Last Resort. It is a conversation between a new prime minister and a senior government official.

The new PM: “Are you saying that in the end it all rests on what I write in this piece of paper now?”

Official: “Yes.”

PM: “To write ‘retaliate’ is monstrous and irrational. To write ‘don’t retaliate’ renders the whole nuclear project valueless”.

Official: “Yes.”

When former Prime Minister Tony Blair was asked to write the letter after his 1997 election victory, he immediately went white. Lord Guthrie, his defence chief, said the briefing made Blair fall “quite quiet”.

Judging by his rhetoric, Starmer would be less anxious. Questioned on June 3  at a campaign hustings in the marginal town of Bury, Starmer said: “Of course I would be prepared to use” nuclear weapons.

Surrounded by candidates who were armed forces veterans, the Labour leader doubled down: “It’s a vital part of our defence. And of course, that means we have to be prepared to use it.” 

This rhetoric reinforces his key message: the Labour Party has “changed.” His predecessor Jeremy Corbyn said he would instruct the Trident commander never to press the nuclear “red button”.

‘A Monster’

Starmer may regret expressing such confidence in Trident. Not long ago, the top civil servant at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Jon Thompson, told MPs that Trident was the project that most kept him awake at night. 

It was “the single biggest future financial risk we face”, he said, adding: “The project is a monster.” He warned that it was an “incredibly complicated area to estimate future costs.”

Trident has been predicted to cost a total of more than £200 billion over a 30-year lifespan. The MoD has not challenged the figure and has never given any of its own estimates in public.

This raises a most serious question: far from enhancing the country’s national security, do nuclear weapons actually undermine it?

Trident’s growing cost threatens to overwhelm the entire British defence budget, diverting spending from cheaper conventional weapons systems, such as drones and air defence batteries.

Britain increased spending on nuclear weapons last year by 17 per cent to £6.5 billion, a greater rise than any other nuclear power except the U.S. Over the past five years, British expenditure rose by a staggering 43 per cent. 

Trident now costs £12,000 every minute. The National Audit Office warns the cost to renew Britain’s arsenal will rise by more than £99 billion over the coming decade. Yet even these figures might be a fraction of the true cost.

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s onetime chief adviser, put it this way in a tweet: 

“All official budget numbers are 100% FAKE cos of the tens of billions in hidden classified budgets from the total shitshow of our nuclear weapons program over 20+ years. Fake budgets, fake debates, fake politics all the way down”.

More recently, Cummings claimed: “Our nuclear weapons infrastructure is dangerously rotting & is tens of billions secretly in the hole, with huge knock-on effects beyond its destructive effects on MoD which has got *even worse* & *even more lying* during the [Ukraine] war.” 

He predicted that the “entire puerile election debate will be based on fake budget numbers that will then be given to Starmer on above-STRAP3 [highly classified] yellow paper, with him given the same nudge to classify, punt and lie. Nobody will report on all this & MPs will continue to ignore it…”

This conspiracy of silence is perhaps perpetuated because those charged with overseeing our nuclear arsenal are able to profit handsomely from it when they leave office. There’s an umbilical cord, or “revolving door,” between top security officials and the arms industry. 

Chief among them is BAE Systems, which constructs the Trident submarines in Barrow-in-Furness. Their board includes Sir Mark Sedwill, who joined the company in 2022 shortly after he resigned as Britain’s most senior civil servant. Campaign Against Arms Trade found the company recruited dozens of former Whitehall staff, diplomats and ministers.

The special indulgence and absence of accountability surrounding nuclear weapons is reinforced by the lack of competition between arms companies like BAE, which effectively has a monopoly.  

‘Towering Achievement’

Yet none of these hidden costs or conflicts of interest appears to trouble the new prime minister. In a Daily Mail article, Starmer described the creation of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme as one of the “towering achievements” of Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government, along with the National Health Service, or NHS, the public health service.  

Attlee spent many millions of pounds developing Britain’s first nuclear bomb in a project he kept secret from most of his cabinet colleagues at a time when the country was technically bankrupt.

Then, as now, Britain could not afford both nuclear weapons and the NHS — yet voters were not offered the choice. “Nurses not nukes” could have been a compelling slogan, if the electorate knew what was going on.

The secrecy imposed by both Labour and Conservative governments about the development of nuclear weapons is exposed by a note Winston Churchill received from his scientific advisor Lord Cherwell in 1951. 

“Concealment was certainly very necessary at the inception of atomic energy work”, Cherwell wrote. 

“And frankly I am agreeably surprised that the Socialist Government [ie Attlee’s] was sufficiently imaginative and patriotic to risk the parliamentary criticism to which this might expose them”.

Without an informed cabinet, let alone electorate, to stop it, the first British atomic bomb was tested over the Monte Bello Islands in the Pacific Ocean in 1952. Five years later, Britain tested its first H-bomb on Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. 

Service personnel charged with watching the explosions were not warned of the dangers of radiation, which can cause cancer, heart problems and birth defects. These veterans are still seeking compensation and their medical records.

In 1957, Aneurin Bevan, the architect of the NHS as health secretary but subsequently the shadow foreign secretary, successfully opposed a host of Labour Party motions calling for the end of Britain’s nuclear weapons project. 

If passed, he said, Britain “would go naked into the conference chamber” — a reference to international meetings on defence and security. It was a striking, albeit misleading, metaphor, and one that has impressed governments ever since.

The Labour leadership’s support for the bomb was the catalyst for anti-war protests leading to annual Easter marches to the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston, Berkshire, and the foundation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

It was also closely followed by the foundation of Britain’s “special relationship” with the U.S. — the signing of the Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) between the two countries in 1958. The MDA, whose full contents remain secret, enshrines Britain’s reliance on the U.S. for essential technology and material without which the Trident system would not function.

The agreement is incorporated in U.S. law, yet despite its fundamental importance to Britain’s relations with its closest ally and its role in the world, it has no legal status in the U.K. 

It has never been the subject of a substantial debate or vote in Parliament. It has to be renewed every decade, and will be again this year, probably in a discreet ceremony in Washington, but almost certainly without any meaningful debate in Britain.

Depopulation

The history of Britain’s nuclear arsenal reveals recurring and interlocking themes: the cost, the absolute reliance on the U.S. — giving a lie to claims that the country’s nuclear “deterrent” is independent — and its credibility as a usable military weapon.

Britain’s dependency on the U.S. has been repeatedly enshrined. President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan negotiated a deal in 1962 for the U.S. to supply Polaris nuclear missiles for British submarines. 

The pact, drawn up in the Bahamas, was further evidence of Britain’s dependence on the U.S. France’s president, Charles de Gaulle, said it was the main reason he vetoed Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community the following year.

The return of a Labour government in 1964 — after 13 years of Conservative rule — posed no threat to the deepening ties between Britain and America over nuclear weapons. Far from it. 

Soon after he became prime minister, Labour’s Harold Wilson secretly agreed to a U.S. request to build a bomber base on Diego Garcia, the largest island of the Chagos archipelago in the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Some 1,500 islanders were forcibly displaced, many to Mauritius and Seychelles. In return, the Labour government secretly obtained a discount, believed to amount to around £200 million in today’s money, on the Polaris nuclear missile system. 

The dispute over the status of the Chagos islands remains unresolved with Britain rejecting U.N. demands to let the islanders return home.

Wilson also secretly agreed to the Chevaline project, a scheme to make Polaris missiles more likely to penetrate Soviet air defences. Many senior Whitehall defence officials viewed this as an expensive and futile move.

They warned the technology was obsolete from the start, before Labour and Conservative governments wasted hundreds of millions of pounds on it. The Commons public accounts committee reported in 1982 that John Nott, Margaret Thatcher’s defence secretary, said Chevaline’s cost had “gone bananas.” 

The project was in the control of unaccountable nuclear scientists, the committee reported. “Our criticism,” it added, “is that the costs were not disclosed, and that there was no requirement that they should be disclosed.”

Nothing has changed.

Thatcher & Blair

Before long, the U.S. developed the Trident nuclear missile system as a successor to Polaris. If Britain wanted to maintain a nuclear arsenal of its own, it had no choice but to follow suit.

In 1980, a year after her election victory, Thatcher agreed to buy Trident missiles for British submarines. She did so without informing her cabinet. 

Documents released in 2011 revealed that two-thirds of the cabinet were opposed and even the chiefs of staff were divided.

Nott told Thatcher that a full debate on nuclear defence was essential in light of these divisions. Trade secretary John Biffen privately warned Thatcher not to underestimate the electoral damage the anti-nuclear movement could inflict. A women’s anti-nuclear camp had just been set up at Greenham Common, where U.S. cruise missiles were due to be based and a CND rally attracted 250,000 people.

Thatcher’s cabinet secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, reassured her that when Macmillan negotiated the deal in the Bahamas with Kennedy to buy Polaris, the cabinet “ratified the decision and the agreement, but played no part in arriving at the original decision or in laying down the negotiating brief.” 

He also reminded her that Wilson did not consult his cabinet in 1974 when he agreed to procure the Chevaline system. Thatcher received further support from her first foreign secretary, Lord Carrington, who told the cabinet: “Failure to acquire Trident would have left the French as the only nuclear power in Europe. This would be intolerable.” 

That is a view still widely held in Westminster and Whitehall.

Blair had to rely on Conservative MPs in 2007 to pass a vote on replacing Britain’s existing Vanguard-class of nuclear-armed submarines. Eighty-eight Labour MPs disobeyed a three-line whip and voted against the government. 

It was the biggest backbench rebellion since the 2003 vote on the invasion of Iraq. At stake was a new fleet of Dreadnought submarines, which would not enter service until the 2030s, and an upgraded version of the Trident missile.

Reflecting on that vote, Blair wrote in his autobiography, A Journey: “The expense is huge and the utility [of Trident is] non-existent in terms of military use.” Although Blair conceded the “common sense and practical argument” against Trident, in the end he thought giving it up would be “too big a downgrading of our status as a nation.”

Breaking International Law?

Retaining nuclear weapons might help Britain justify its place as one of five permanent members in the U.N.’s security council. Yet its reliance on America to maintain a nuclear arsenal should raise questions about its independence and compliance with international law. 

Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which came into force in 1970, signatories are bound to “prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.” This commitment is difficult to square with former U.S. President George W. Bush’s comment in 2005 that the U.S. helps Britain maintain a “credible nuclear force.”

American expertise helped install what was said to be the world’s most powerful laser at the atomic weapons establishment in Aldermaston, part of a multi-billion pound scheme designed to enable production of a new generation of nuclear warheads.

The British American Security Information Council, an independent think-tank, believes  Whitehall has an “open-ended” arrangement with Washington to “disseminate” information, technology and materials “in pursuit of more sophisticated nuclear weaponry”.

Successive British governments have denied that such cooperation with the U.S. breaches its obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They claim that the NPT prevents only “wider” spread of nuclear weapons and turn the logic of the treaty on its head. Britain must continue to modernise its nuclear arsenal, officials argue, because nuclear weapons will inevitably spread. 

The MoD claimed in a 2003 defence white paper that the “continuing risk from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the certainty that a number of other countries will retain substantial nuclear arsenals, mean that our minimum nuclear deterrent capability, currently represented by Trident, is likely to remain a necessary element of our security”.

But two senior lawyers have said there is a strong case that the U.S.-U.K. mutual defence agreement breaches the NPT, as it forbids the transfer of nuclear weapons or devices. Renewal of the MDA, they argued, was intended to “continue and enhance Britain’s nuclear programme”. The lawyers added that the NPT took precedence over U.S.-U.K. agreements under international law.

Blair asked Bush for American help to maintain Britain’s “nuclear delivery system” in 2006. His letter only came to light through a freedom of information request by Peter Burt of Nuclear Information Service nearly a decade later. 

Upon seeing the paperwork, Burt said: “The U.K. and U.S. are setting a dreadful example to the rest of the world by renewing the MDA, and are seriously undermining the credibility of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

He added: 

“If Iran and North Korea had signed a similar agreement for the transfer of nuclear weapons technology, the U.K. and U.S. would be branding them pariah nations and screaming for the toughest of international sanctions to be imposed.”

Burt also found a senior American nuclear official had visited Aldermaston and referred to “enhanced collaboration” on “nuclear explosive package design and certification”, on “maintenance of existing stockpiles”, and the “possible development of safer, more secure, warheads”.

Another document describes the MDA as an agreement that enables Britain and the U.S. “nuclear warhead communities to collaborate on all aspects of nuclear deterrence including nuclear warhead design and manufacture”.

Ministers and defence officials argue that “physical movements” under the MDA do not involve nuclear weapons or devices and therefore the agreement does not contravene the letter of the NPT.

While these movements may not involve actual nuclear material, British military aircraft regularly cross the Atlantic with highly radioactive ingredients supplied by the U.S. These ingredients are absolutely vital to the Trident missile system. 

Blair-era documents from when he renewed the MDA make it clear Whitehall did not want a debate in Parliament about the military pact. Defence officials worried it would give politicians “an opportunity to raise wider questions concerning…our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty”. 

But the MoD need not have worried. No senior MP, not even members of the Commons defence committee, pressed for a full debate.

Obama to Starmer

The latest 10-year agreement under the MDA was signed in 2014 by British and U.S. officials in Washington. Whitehall was silent. Britons had to rely on a statement by President Barack Obama. 

He told Congress the agreement would “permit the transfer between the United States and the United Kingdom of classified information concerning atomic weapons”.

The U.K., Obama added, “intends to continue to maintain viable nuclear forces into the foreseeable future.” It was in America’s interest to continue to help Britain “in maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent”.

There was no word from the Foreign Office, the Whitehall department responsible for updating the U.K.-U.S. treaty. Parliament, a spokesperson said in response to questions, would be informed “at an appropriate time”. That never came. 

Revealing the content of the new agreement could “assist proliferation” of nuclear weapons, the Foreign Office claimed.

Some MPs in an all-party Trident Commission took a dim view. They published a report concluding Britain’s deterrent was “a hostage to American goodwill” and the life expectancy of the U.K.’s nuclear capability could be measured in months.

Their report noted that Britain’s Trident missiles were in a common pool shared with the U.S. and maintained in Kings Bay, Georgia, while its nuclear warheads are designed and maintained at Aldermaston but only with the help of U.S. know-how. 

They added: “The U.K. is dependent on the United States for many component parts of the guidance and re-entry vehicle, and for [the] ballistic missile system itself”.

Yet in 2016 the Commons voted in favour of Trident by a majority of 355 MPs. Labour’s new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, revolted together with 47 of his MPs, while another 41 were absent or abstained. 

Among those to vote no were David Lammy.

He told the Commons then: 

“Today as a matter of conscience I will be voting against Trident renewal. I simply do not accept that there can ever be circumstances in which it would be permissible to deliberately target millions of innocent civilians in this way.”

Lammy, once a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, added: 

“I cannot in all conscience vote in favour of writing a blank cheque for billions of pounds today when so many of my constituents are living in deprivation and when public services are stretched beyond breaking point.”

The New Cold War

Today he no longer holds this view. Lammy is now “100 per cent behind the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent”, explaining that the access to information he had as a member of the Privy Council — who take an oath of secrecy — had “truly shown him the seriousness of the systemic risk that Vladimir Putin poses to our country”.

“Had Ukraine been allowed to retain their nuclear weapons after its independence from the Soviet Union, they would not have faced the invasion that they did from Putin”, Lammy claimed, referring to a stockpile that had been under Moscow’s control.

He went to Washington after his conversion and met a series of think-tanks. One visit, to talk at the Center for American Progress, cost his benefactors more than £8,000

Starmer has described his commitment to Britain’s nuclear weapons as “unshakeable” and “absolute”. To drive home the point as he awaited the election starting gun, he told an audience at BAE shipyards in Barrow-in-Furness, where Trident submarines are built: “The U.K.’s nuclear deterrent is the bedrock of Labour’s plan to keep Britain safe”.

Such claims are made against the background of growing uncertainty surrounding the cost and reliability, even the purpose, of Trident.

When I asked him about Trident, Lord David Richards, a former head of the army and chief of defence staff, told me: “It is more and more difficult to be persuaded we require it.” Some day other choices would have to be made, he suggested. 

Replacing Trident with a new nuclear missile system would no longer be justified if, for example, Britain’s conventional forces were cut so much that the country would become a “Belgium with nukes”.

In 2013, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British ambassador to the U.N. in New York, was asked whether possessing nuclear weapons really meant Britain had more influence in world affairs. Influence in the modern world, Greenstock replied, was composed of many things, notably a strong economy. Nuclear weapons was one of the “least relevant.”

Trident has routinely been described by its supporters as the “ultimatum insurance” in the event of an existential threat to Britain. Yet few suggest the government should build many more hospitals as an insurance against a possible — indeed likely — future pandemic.

A Liability?

Shortly before parliament voted to renew Trident in 2016, one of the missiles veered off course during a test that could have had serious consequences. The Royal Navy did not disclose the incident and it only came to light because of a whistleblower. A subsequent £17 million test earlier this year also failed. The missile, fired by HMS Vanguard, landed in the sea close to the launch site.

The test came shortly after Vanguard had spent seven years out of service undergoing a £500 million refit. The maintenance was only meant to last four years, and the overrun saw HMS Victorious tied up awaiting dry dock space. 

This left only two of the four boats in the Trident fleet, HMS Vigilant and Vengeance, operational. Britain’s nuclear doctrine relies on a Continuous At Sea Deterrence, meaning one of the submarines must always be deployed.

With fewer boats available, their patrols are lasting for longer — sometimes six months instead of the usual three. Spending so much time underwater, away from their families, places immense stress on the crews’ mental health. It is perhaps not surprising that some have turned to drugs. Nine sailors were removed from HMS Vigilant after testing positive for cocaine.

The project to replace the Vanguard fleet with Dreadnought submarines has also been subjected todelays, putting more pressure on the aging boats. Staff at the naval base housing the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent had to be moved after a serious radiation breach, a whistleblower has alleged

This state of affairs led Francis Tusa, an experienced defence analyst, to warn in December: 

“The U.K.’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent is on a knife edge …. so acute that even today, a four boat deterrent — always deemed to be essential to maintain Continuous At Sea Deterrence — has been more of a concept than a reality”. 

But if Cummings’ prediction is correct, Starmer will plough on regardless. He is committed to a “triple lock” on Trident: 24/7 patrols, four new submarines and unlimited upgrades. History shows the true cost of all this to the British public will be far more than any “fully-costed” manifesto makes out.

Richard Norton-Taylor is an editor, journalist, playwright, and the doyen of British national security reporting. He wrote for the Guardian on defence and security matters and was the newspaper’s security editor for three decades.

This article is from Declassified UK.

https://consortiumnews.com/2024/07/06/keir-starmers-red-button/

 

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rediscovering humanism....

no to NATO.....

 

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies
Common Dreams

 

After NATO’s catastrophic, illegal invasions of YugoslaviaLibya, and Afghanistan, on July 9 NATO plans to invade Washington, D.C. The good news is that it only plans to occupy Washington for three days. The British will not burn down the U.S. Capitol as they did in 1814, and the Germans are still meekly pretending that they don’t know who blew up their Nord Stream gas pipelines. So expect smiling photo ops and an overblown orgy of mutual congratulation.

The details of NATO’s agenda for the Washington summit were revealed at a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Prague at the end of May. 

NATO will drag its members into the U.S. Cold War with China by accusing it of supplying dual-use weapons technology to Russia, and it will unveil new NATO initiatives to spend U.S. tax dollars on a mysterious “drone wall” in the Baltics and an expensive-sounding “integrated air defense system” across Europe.

But the main feature of the summit will be a superficial show of unity to try to convince the public that NATO and Ukraine can defeat Russia and that negotiating with Russia would be tantamount to surrender.

On the face of it, that should be a hard sell. The one thing that most Americans agree on about the war in Ukraine is that they support a negotiated peace. When asked in a November 2023 Economist/YouGovpoll “Would you support or oppose Ukraine and Russia agreeing to a cease-fire now?” 68 percent said “support,” and only 8 percent said “oppose,” while 24 percent said they were not sure.

However, while U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO leaders hold endless debates over different ways to escalate the war, they have repeatedly rejected peace negotiations, notably in April 2022November 2022 and January 2024, even as their failed war plans leave Ukraine in an ever worsening negotiating position.

[See: RAY McGOVERN: Will Putin Attack Poland & the Baltics?]

The endgame of this non-strategy is that Ukraine will only be allowed to negotiate with Russia once it is facing total defeat and has nothing left to negotiate with — exactly the surrender NATO says it wants to avoid.

As other countries have pointed out at the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. and NATO’s rejection of negotiation and diplomacy in favor of a long war they hope will eventually “weaken” Russia is a flagrant violation of the “Pacific Settlement of Disputes” that all U.N. members are legally committed to under Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter. As it says in Article 33(1):

“The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”

But NATO’s leaders are not coming to Washington to work out how they can comply with their international obligations and negotiate peace in Ukraine. On the contrary. At a June meeting in preparation for the summit, NATO defense ministers approved a plan to put NATO’s military support to Ukraine “on a firmer footing for years to come.”

The effort will be headquartered at a U.S. military base in Wiesbaden, Germany, and involve almost 700 staff. It has been described as a way to “Trump proof” NATO backing for Ukraine, in case former President Donald Trump wins the election and tries to draw down U.S. support.

At the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wants NATO leaders to commit to providing Ukraine with $43 billion worth of equipment each year, indefinitely. Echoing George Orwell’s doublethink that “war is peace,” Stoltenberg said, “The paradox is that the longer we plan, and the longer we commit [to war], the sooner Ukraine can have peace.”

The summit will also discuss how to bring Ukraine closer to NATO membership, a move that guarantees the war will continue, since Ukrainian neutrality is Russia’s principal war aim.

As Ian Davis of NATO Watch reported, NATO’s rhetoric echoes the same lines he heard throughout 20 years of war in Afghanistan: “The Taliban (now Russia) can’t wait us out.” But this vague hope that the other side will eventually give up is not a strategy.

There is no evidence that Ukraine will be different from Afghanistan. The U.S. and NATO are making the same assumptions, which will lead to the same result. The underlying assumption is that NATO’s greater GDP, extravagant and corrupt military budgets, and fetish for expensive weapons technology must somehow, magically, lead Ukraine to victory over Russia.

When the U.S. and NATO finally admitted defeat in Afghanistan, it was the Afghans who had paid in blood for the West’s folly, while the U.S.-NATO war machine simply moved on to its next “challenge,” learning nothing and making political hay out of abject denial.

Less than three years after the rout in Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently calledNATO “the most powerful and successful alliance in history.” It is a promising sign for the future of Ukraine that most Ukrainians are reluctant to throw away their lives in NATO’s dumpster fire.

In an article titled “The New Theory of Ukrainian Victory Is the Same as the Old,” the Quincy Institute’s Mark Episkopos wrote, “Western planning continues to be strategically backwards. Aiding Kyiv has become an end in itself, divorced from a coherent strategy for bringing the war to a close.”

Episkopos concluded that “the key to wielding [the West’s] influence effectively is to finally abandon a zero-sum framing of victory…”

We would add that this was a trap set by the United States and the United Kingdom, not just for Ukraine, but for their NATO allies too. By refusing to support Ukraine at the negotiating table in April 2022, and instead demanding this “zero-sum framing of victory” as the condition for NATO’s support, the U.S. and U.K. escalated what could have been a very short war into a protracted, potentially nuclear, war between NATO and Russia.

Turkish leaders and diplomats complained at how their American and British allies undermined their peacemaking, while FranceItaly, and Germany squirmed for a month or two but soon surrendered to the war camp.

When NATO leaders meet in Washington, what they should be doing, apart from figuring out how to comply with Article 33(1) of the U.N. Charter, is conducting a clear-eyed review of how this organization that claims to be a force for peace keeps escalating unwinnable wars and leaving countries in ruins.

The fundamental question is whether NATO can ever be a force for peace or whether it can never be anything but a dangerous, subservient extension of the U.S. war machine.

We believe that NATO is an anachronism in today’s multipolar world: an aggressive, expansionist military alliance whose inherent institutional myopia and blinkered, self-serving threat assessments condemn us all to endless war and potential nuclear annihilation.

We suggest that the only way NATO could be a real force for peace would be to declare that, by this time next year, it will take the same steps that its counterpart, the Warsaw Pact, took in 1991, and finally dissolve what Secretary Austin would have been wiser to call “the most dangerous military alliance in history.”

Medea Benjamin is co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace. She is the co-author, with Nicolas J.S. Davies, of War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, available from OR Books in November 2022. Other books include, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2018); Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection (2016).

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist and a researcher with CODEPINK. He is the co-author, with Medea Benjamin, of War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, available from OR Books in November 2022, and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

 

https://consortiumnews.com/2024/07/05/natos-war-summit-in-washington/

 

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starmer the jailer.....

 

Brits just elected as Prime Minister the mastermind of Assange’s persecution.

BY 

 

The newly elected Prime Minister of UK, Keir Starmer, was the mastermind behind the British half (which turned out to be the bigger half) of the U.S./UK Deep State’s joint operation against Julian Assange.

Stefania Maurizi, one of the world’s greatest (and totally independent) investigative journalists, published in 2022 her SECRET POWER: WikiLeaks and Its Enemies, about the U.S.-and-allied Deep State’s illegal decades-long Government-imposed persecution of the brilliant courageous champion of democracy against dictatorship, Julian Assange. Her book documented that Keir Starmer, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) during 2008-2013, masterminded the indictment and imprisonment-without-trial of Assange on false evidence, so as to get him extradited to America for final destruction. (See her Chapter “11. My Trench Warfare to Unearth the Truth” and its 7-page-long Section “How Keir Starmer’s Crown Prosecution Service Helped Create the Quagmire” for the details.) (Her book was originally published 2021 in Italian.)

Maurizi filed Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request after FOIA request and got only a tiny proportion of the evidences that she had asked for, but still got enough from the UK’s dictatorship so that she could document to a certainty that this totally illegal (under U.S., UK, and Swedish, laws) joint operation by the Governments of U.S., UK, and Sweden, was done in order to remove Assange permanently from being able to continue his entirely legal work, and was masterminded especially on its UK side, which is to say, by Starmer himself.

Subsequent to Maurizi’s book, this was yet more strongly proven when Declassified UK’s Matt Kennard headlined on 29 June 2023, “CPS HAS DESTROYED ALL RECORDS OF KEIR STARMER’S FOUR TRIPS TO WASHINGTON: US records show Starmer met with Attorney General Eric Holder and a host of American and British national security officials in Washington in 2011, when he was in charge of Julian Assange’s proposed extradition to Sweden.” So: this was a highly coordinated U.S./UK, that is to say Rhodesist Deep State, operation; and, consequently, its ultimate objective is to prevent whistleblowers and thereby facilitate further expansion of the U.S.-and-‘allied’ (or all-encompassing global colonial) empire. The CIA-edited and written Wikipedia (which blacklists (blocks from linking to) sites that aren’t CIA-approved) says nothing about Starmer — doesn’t even mention his name — in its supposedly comprehensive 30,000-word-long article “Julian Assange”. Likewise, Wikipedia’s 5,000-word article on “Keir Starmer” doesn’t mention even once the name “Assange.” Both of those articles are exactly what one would expect if the UK colony of the U.S. empire had been setting Starmer up to lead his Tory clone ‘Labour’ Party into 10 Downing Street after 14 years straight of by-now notoriously bad Tory rule. On 6 June 2024, YouGov headlined “In most ways, most Britons think the UK is worse now than it was in 2010: Two thirds disapprove of the government’s record over the last 14 years”. 73% of them think that things are worse than when that 14-year Tory stretch started; only 8% think that things are better than when it started. So, for every Brit who thinks things improved, more than 9 think that things deteriorated. And, now, what the Deep State has offered to Brits is the same political product — neoliberalism domestically and neoconservatism internationally — but now again under the ‘opposite’ Party’s brand. The public won’t be satisfied, but the billionaires who control their media and Government will be. And they’ll call that “democracy,” so that the public won’t blame the aristocracy (the super-rich who control the politicians) but instead the “democracy” (that doesn’t exist there).

However, in order to continue this con-game in silence, now that the brand has switched to “Labour,” they had to destroy the evidence — the part of it that they had refused to release to Maurizi. By great good fortune, that would still be enough for a hangman’s noose around Starmer’s neck if UK had an actually democratic Government, but, tragically, they do not. It’s instead the same old aristocracy — profoundly corrupt, like any aristocracy is.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s latest book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.

https://theduran.com/brits-just-elected-as-prime-minister-the-mastermind-of-assanges-persecution/

 

 

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labouring....

The British Labour Party (BLP) won 32% of the vote but with First Past the Post voting it won 62% of the seats. That was the biggest gap on record between votes won and the number of seats.

If the UK had preferential voting as we have, the result would have been much closer.

The BLP increased its vote by only 2% and received a total vote lower than the Jeremy Corbyn-led BLP in 2017 and 2019.

The Starmer-led BLP in 2024 received about 3 million less votes than the Corbyn-led BLP in 2017. Starmer also had a poor result in his own electorate.

Like Albanese, Starmer was wedged on AUKUS and supports this absurdity.

Voters in both the UK and Australia are turning away from the tired old two party system.

One striking feature of the election was the collapse of the Tory vote by 24%. It confirms the old adage that Oppositions seldom win elections. It is Governments that lose them, as happened in Australia at the last election.

UK voters rejected the Conservatives for numerous reasons, but they were lukewarm about Labour.

This voter turn off was also reflected in the low voter turnout which at 59% was the lowest in 20 years and the second lowest since 1885.

Another major feature of the UK election which has lessons for Australia is that there was clear concern about the genocide in Gaza. The indifference of the BLP is similar to the indifference of the ALP.

Many of today’s politicians are disinterested in policy but very interested in political numbers.

The Independent newspaper in the UK described voter concern about Gaza as follows:

The major parties’ stance on Gaza was a divisive topic during this election, with one in five Asian voters saying it would affect how they voted.

In several Labour constituencies, particularly those with a higher Muslim population, independent candidates were running on the promise that they would have a clearer pro-Palestine and ceasefire stance.

In some seats, the independent candidate has ousted a Labour stronghold. In Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn retook his seat, beating Labour by 7,247 votes. Mr Corbyn has been public about his support for Palestine.

Key Labour figures have been hit by shrinking majorities, including British Asian MP Naz Shah who won her seat by just 707 seats, and shadow cabinet ministers Wes Streeting and Shabana Mahmood.

Meanwhile, independent candidates have booted Labour out in four seats, while Adnan Hussain took Labour’s seat in Blackburn by just 132 votes, saying: “This is for Gaza.”

In others, strong Labour majorities have been significantly diminished by voters turning to independents.

How Gaza will affect votes and seats in Australia is yet to play out. Particular Muslim/Palestinian concerns may encourage Asian minorities to lend voter support on Palestine.

The Greens would be expected to poll better in inner city seats. Electorates with large proportions of Muslim voters could turn their back on the ALP if there are strong Independents.

In the 2021 census, Islam made up 31.7% of the voters in Blaxland, 25.1% in Watson and in Calwell 23.8%. In Werriwa, Bruce, McMahon, Scullin, Holt, Parramatta, Wills and Lalor, Muslim voters exceeded 10%.

Most of these seats are safe for Labor but a few could be interesting. If Muslim voters in Wills rebelled against Labor and favoured the Greens that could have a big impact.

There is also a lesson for the ALP in attending to minority groups. The Chinese vote was decisive in several electorates at the last federal election- Chisholm, Tangney, Reid and Bennelong – as a result of the Morrison Government’s hostility to China. Many Asian-Australians who did not have Chinese heritage were also concerned as what they saw as racism.

Concern about Gaza could similarly be reflected in Senate votes. Ken Wyatt has also spoken about an Indigenous Senate ticket in each state and territory. Some Labor supporters may also be reluctant to vote in the House of Representatives to help Dutton but may vote differently in the Senate as a protest over Gaza and AUKUS.

The Senate could be interesting. Independent Senator David Pocock has shown the way with a few clear policies and messages.

The Albanese Government seeks to divert our attention from its indifference to the suffering Palestinians.  Anthony Albanese has given us one excuse after another for his turning away from the genocide – Israel has a right to defend itself even though Israel has for decades stolen Palestinian land and assaulted its people; that criticism of Israel is antisemitic; Muslims are now playing the sectarian card. He gives lip service to a two state solution but does little to advance it.

And once again, this time on Gaza, the Albanese Government meekly falls into line in subservience to the US, a country almost always at war and with one domestic crisis after another.

The genocide in Gaza is not a Muslim, Jewish or Christian issue. It is about our common humanity. It is about justice, not religion.

Or as Desmond Tutu put it,‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor’

And that is what our government has done. It has chosen to ignore the plea of Palestinians for justice. Like the British Labour Party.

The Labor Government will pay a heavy price for its bullying of Senator Fatima Payman. She has  been shabbily dealt with by tone deaf Ministers who have been background briefing the media against her.

And our White Mans Media in the Canberra Press Gallery are again playing the race card as they have been doing for years on China.

 

https://johnmenadue.com/a-win-is-a-win-but-clear-lessons-on-gaza-from-the-uk-election/

 

 

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supporting genocide....

 

Starmer Learnt That the Price of Power Was Support for Genocide    BY 

 

Britain’s new prime minister has shown he is already an arch-exponent of the dark political arts of deceit, hypocrisy and bad faith

By a crushing majority, the 17 judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled more than five months ago that Israel was “plausibly” committing genocide in Gaza.

The highest court in the world put Israel on trial, accused of the ultimate crime against humanity.

Much has happened since that decision – and all of it is even more incriminating against Israel than the evidence considered by the World Court back in January.

Tens of thousands more Palestinian civilians are dead or missing, most likely under rubble. Gaza is now a wasteland, one that will take many decades to rebuild.

Till then, the population has nowhere to live, nor institutions such as hospitalsschools, universities and government offices to care for them, nor infrastructure like functioning electricity and sewage systems to rely on.

In violation of a second ICJ ruling, Israel has invaded and repeatedly bombed Rafah, a small “safe zone” into which Gaza’s population had been herded by Israel, supposedly for their own protection.

And Israel has intensified its blockade of aid, now to the point where there is famine across much of the enclave. Children, the sick and the vulnerable are dying in growing numbers from an entirely man-made catastrophe.

Presented with so much evidence, how is the World Court dealing with Israel’s genocide trial?

The answer: it is moving at a snail’s pace.

Most experts agree that the ICJ is unlikely to issue a definitive ruling for at least a year. Until then, it seems, the western powers will continue giving Israel a licence to shed far more of Gaza’s blood – that is, to continue much further on the trajectory of a plausible genocide.

At this rate, the court will determine conclusively whether Israel is guilty of genocide only when that genocide is all but finished.

Eyes tight shut

Back in the mid-1990s, the world was confronted by another genocide, in Rwanda.

Then, the West vowed that it and the legal institutions supposedly there to uphold international law and protect the weakest should never drag their feet again, permitting a crime of such monstrous proportions to unfold without hindrance.

But 30 years on, the West is not just dragging its feet in addressing the crimes against the people of Gaza. Washington and its closest allies, including Britain, are actively arming Israel’s slaughter, and assisting with its starvation of the population.

In ruling against Israel, the ICJ would, by implication, also be finding the sole global superpower and its allies guilty of complicity in genocide.

In the circumstances, the reasons for caution at the World Court, rather than urgency, are all too obvious.

The ICJ’s sister court, the International Criminal Court (ICC), showed late last month that it too was in no hurry to stop the slaughter and mass starvation in Gaza.

Whereas the World Court judges the behaviour of states, the ICC judges the actions of individuals. It is empowered to identify and put on trial those who carry out crimes on behalf of the state.

In May, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, incensed western capitals by announcing that he was seeking an arrest warrant for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant, along with three Hamas leaders.

All five were accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In Netanyahu and Gallant’s case, that included the crime of exterminating Gaza’s Palestinians, using starvation as a “weapon of war”.

In truth, the ICC swung into action very late indeed – some eight months after Israel began its war crimes spree.

Nonetheless, Khan’s decision offered a brief moment of hope to Gaza’s bereaved, destitute and starving.

While the World Court’s lengthy genocide trial offers the prospect of a remedy potentially years away, arrest warrants from the ICC pose a far more direct and pressing threat to Israel.

Once signed, those warrants would obligate all parties to the Rome Statute, including Britain and other European states, to arrest Netanyahu and Gallant should they step on their soil.

Israeli media have reported on panicked army commanders worried about carrying out orders in Gaza for fear they may be charged next with war crimes.

For a moment, it looked as though Israel might have to weigh whether it could afford to continue the slaughter of Palestinians.

Superpower bullying

But the ICC’s judges agreed to lift the sword from Netanyahu and Gallant’s necks – while leaving Gaza’s women and children, the sick and elderly, exposed once again to the full force of Israel’s bombs and starvation policy.

Rather than approving, as expected, the arrest of Netanyahu and his defence minister for war crimes, the ICC caved into pressure from the United States and Britain.

It revealed that it was willing to revisit the question of whether it had jurisdiction over Gaza – in other words, whether it had the authority to put Netanyahu and Gallant on trial for crimes against humanity.

It was an extraordinary moment – and one that confirmed quite how dishonest the West’s professions of humanitarianism are, and quite how feeble are supposedly independent institutions like the ICC and ICJ when they run up against Washington.

The question of jurisdiction in Gaza and the other occupied Palestinian territories was settled by the ICC long ago. Were that not the case, Khan would never have dared to request the arrest warrants in the first place.

Nonetheless, the ICC’s judges accepted submissions, secretly made by the outgoing British government, that question the legal body’s jurisdiction powers. The UK was undoubtedly waging this campaign of intimidation against the war crimes court in coordination with the US and Israel.

Neither have standing at the ICC because they have refused to ratify the war crimes statute that founded the court.

The UK’s move was a transparent delaying tactic, relying on a piece of standard Israeli sophistry: that the Oslo Accords, from 30 years ago, did not give Palestinians criminal jurisdiction over Israeli nationals, and therefore Palestine cannot delegate that power to the ICC.

The flaw in this argument is glaring. Israel violated the terms of the Oslo Accords decades ago and no longer considers itself bound by them. And yet it now insists – via Britain – that the Palestinians still be shackled by these obsolete documents.

Even more to the point, the Oslo Accords were long ago superseded by a new legal and diplomatic reality. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to recognise Palestine as a state.

Three years later, Palestine was allowed to become a member of the ICC. After a long delay, the court finally ruled in 2021 that it had jurisdiction in Palestine.

Since then, and again at a snail’s pace, the ICC has been investigating Israeli war crimes, including atrocities against Palestinians and the building of armed, exclusively Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory, denying the Palestinians any chance to exercise their right to statehood.

In a properly functioning system of international law, arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Israel’s top brass would have been issued years ago, long before the current plausible genocide in Gaza.

Buying time

The question of jurisdiction is no longer a matter of legal debate. But revisiting it unnecessarily does buy time, time in which Israel can kill more Palestinians, level even more of Gaza, and starve more Palestinian children.

It is just such delays that lie at the heart of the matter. It is the endless deferments of accountability that directly enabled the current genocide in Gaza.

Israel’s cynical evasions in implementing the Oslo Accords of the mid-1990s led to a growing backlash from Palestinians, culminating in the eruption of a violent uprising in 2000.

The endless postponements by western powers, led by Washington, in recognising Palestinian statehood destroyed the credibility of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting.

The obvious futility of the Oslo process drove many Palestinians into the arms of militant rival groups like Hamas that promised to let Palestinians take back control of their fate.

The reluctance in the West to put any kind of pressure on Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories gave Israeli leaders the confidence to tighten their stranglehold: through settlement building and ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and a blockade that led to the isolation and immiseration of Gaza.

Inaction in addressing Gaza’s increasingly dire conditions motivated Hamas to smash apart the status quo, one that was quietly suffocating the Palestinian population there. Hamas did so by carrying out a surprise and bloody attack on Israel on 7 October.

GUSNOTE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9292Jt5CArw

And the West’s refusal to intervene after 7 October opened the door to Israel’s current slaughter in Gaza, an extermination campaign designed to drive the people of Gaza out of the enclave, becoming someone else’s – ideally Egypt’s – problem.

The World Court’s delay in ruling on genocide, and the ICC’s delay in issuing arrest warrants, presage yet more, unpredictable disasters down the road.

One certainty, however, is that, through more bloodletting, Israel will be entirely unable to realise its professed goal of “eliminating” Hamas.

The most Israel can achieve by inflicting mass death and destruction in Gaza is to prove to Palestinians that Hamas is right: that Israel is unwilling to allow any form of Palestinian statehood, and has been since it belligerently occupied the Palestinian territories 57 years ago – long before Hamas even existed.

In killing tens of thousands of Palestinians, Israel has served as Hamas’ biggest recruiting sergeant. More young Palestinian men in Gaza are throwing their lot in with armed resistance, if only to avenge the deaths of their loved ones.

Israel’s approach is obviously self-defeating – but only if the goal is truly to live in peace with their neighbours, and not to be engaged in permanent war with the region.

Abuse to continue

Responding to the ICC’s latest delay, Clive Baldwin, a legal adviser at Human Rights Watch, observed that the UK had to end its “double standards in victims’ access to justice”.

He added: “The next government will need to immediately decide if it supports the ICC’s essential role in bringing accountability and defending the rule of law for all.”

That next government is now led by Sir Keir Starmer, who won last week’s general election with a landslide of seats based on a paltry share of the votes.

Starmer benefited massively from a split in the right-wing vote. But a near-record low turn-out and a fall in votes for Labour compared to his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, hinted at the profound lack of enthusiasm both for Starmer and his evasive platform.

Throughout his election campaign, Starmer was keen to send signals to Washington and the establishment media that – in keeping with the outgoing Conservative government’s stalling tactics – he would buy time for Israel too.

He paid a price for that at the election: he alienated many party workers and lost seats to a handful pro-Palestine candidates running as independents, including Corbyn himself, on huge swings of the vote. Several senior Labour MPs also found themselves within a hair’s breadth of losing their seats.

That may explain why Labour officials lost no time emphasising that Starmer had called Netanyahu to talk tough with him and was distancing himself from the previous government’s efforts to openly run interference for the US and Israel at the ICC.

According to a report this week in the Guardian, Starmer is expected to drop the current move to stall at the ICC over issuing arrest warrants.

Important decisions remain, however. Will Labour quickly restore funding to Unrwa, the UN refugee agency that is best placed to tackle the Israeli-engineered famine in Gaza? And will it halt arms sales?

But most crucial of all, will it recognise Palestine, sending a signal both to the ICJ and ICC and to Israel that a ruling protecting the Palestinians from genocide will be enforced by a major western power and close ally of Washington’s?

No good signs

Back in January, days before the World Court announced it was plausible that Israel was committing a genocide in Gaza, Starmer quietly tore up the Labour Party’s long-standing policy on recognising Palestine as a state.

More than 140 other countries have already recognised Palestine, including recently Spain, Ireland and Norway.

Instead, Starmer declared that Palestine could only come into being once Israel agreed to such recognition. In other words, Israel – the serial abuser – will be the one to decide whether it will ever end its serial abuse of the Palestinian people.

Starmer, let us note, made his name as a human rights lawyer.

Next, in the final stages of the election campaign, Starmer’s aides briefed The Times of London of a further obstacle in the way of recognition of Palestinian statehood.

The paper reported that Starmer would refuse to recognise a Palestinian state until he had received the blessing of the United States, reportedly to avoid the risk of a diplomatic falling out. Israel is Washington’s most favoured client state.

Such a delay would once again reassure Israel that it can do as it pleases to the Palestinians.

And as should be all too clear by now, buying time for Israel means allowing it to carry out a genocide in Gaza and intensify ethnic cleansing policies begun decades ago.

Tissue of lies

Starmer’s own political trajectory suggests an uncomfortable truth about international power politics. The closer western leaders move to power, the more pressure they feel to do Washington’s bidding – and that invariably means casting aside principle.

Devotion to Israel – and a willingness to abandon the Palestinians to the death camp Gaza has become – has been one of the major conditions of entry into the West’s power club.

During the election campaign, Starmer passed that test with flying colours. Which is why he – unlike his predecessor – received an easy ride from the British establishment, including its public relations arm, the corporate media.

Ultra-rich donors, including those with close ties to Israel, have been lining up to throw money at Starmer’s Labour party, at the same time as membership numbers have plummeted.

The reality is that we live in a world where the powerful pay lip service to human rights and international law, a world where they profess to aid the weak even as they assist in their slaughter.

Oppression flourishes, obscured by their empty promises and endless dithering.

For three decades, the West has advertised its benevolence and humanitarianism. It has launched invasions and waged wars supposedly to protect the weak and vulnerable – from Kosovo to Ukraine, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya. Democracy and women’s rights have supposedly been the West’s watchwords.

But in truth, as Gaza demonstrates only too clearly, those claims were a tissue of lies. It was always about treating the world as a giant chessboard, and one where Washington’s right to achieve “full-spectrum dominance” was the driving principle, not protection of the weak.

Talk of humanitarianism was there to obscure a deeper, more savage truth: might still makes right. And no one is stronger than the US and those it favours.

The Palestinians, unlike Israel, have no weight in the international system. They are denied an army, and have no warplanes. They are denied control over their borders and their airspace. They have no real economy or currency – they are entirely reliant on the goodwill of Israeli financial institutions. They have no freedom to move from their slivers of territory, their ghettoes, unless Israel first agrees.

They cannot even stop Israel from bulldozing their homes, or arresting their children in the middle of the night.

No one on the international stage, least of all governments in Washington and London, really needs to take account of Palestinian interests.

Abusing Palestinians comes at minimal political cost. Protecting them would offer few tangible political gains. Which is precisely why their abuse continues day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

We live in a world of deceit, hypocrisy and bad faith. Britain’s new prime minister has shown he is already an arch-exponent of those dark political arts. Listen not to what he says, but watch closely what he actually does.

https://www.unz.com/jcook/starmer-learnt-that-the-price-of-power-was-support-for-genocide/

 

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funding....

 

ISRAEL LOBBY FUNDED HALF OF KEIR STARMER’S CABINET

Exclusive: Labour’s top team has accepted over £600,000 from pro-Israel funders.

JOHN MCEVOY

Pro-Israel lobbyists have donated to 13 out of Labour’s 25 cabinet members since they were first elected to parliament, Declassified can reveal.

The list of recipients includes prime minister Keir Starmer, his deputy Angela Rayner,  chancellor Rachel Reeves, foreign secretary David Lammy and home secretary Yvette Cooper.

Jonathan Reynolds, who will oversee arms exports to Israel as UK trade secretary, is another beneficiary, alongside Labour’s election mastermind Pat McFadden, whose responsibilities now include national security.  

Some of the donations were provided by Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), a lobby group which takes MPs on “fact-finding” missions to the region.

Reeves, McFadden, Reynolds and technology secretary Peter Kyle were recently listed as vice-chairs of LFI.

Other major funders include pro-Israel businessmen Gary Lubner, Trevor Chinn, and Stuart Roden.

The total value of the donations amounts to over £600,000.

https://www.declassifieduk.org/israel-lobby-funded-half-of-keir-starmers-cabinet/

 

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