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Hitch 22: Review, The Loss of Faith.

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Hitch-22. A Memoir. Christopher Hitchens. Atlantic Books. 2010.

Review: Hitchens and the Loss of Faith.

Christopher Hitchens is one of the most talented polemicists of the last decades. The former International Socialist, left-wing journalist “as someone who had spent much of his life writing for The Nation and the New Statesman” he became an enthusiast for Humanitarian Interventions, and assembled “an informal international for the overthrow of fascism in Iraq”. After calling for war on Saddam Hussein, he “stopped calling himself a socialist in 2002”. To most people of the left, Hitchens has been thereafter associated with Neo-Conservatism.

There are others who still appreciate him, and are saddened at his present cancer, even while opposing liberal internationalism by force. For all how his “loss of faith” remains a striking, and in many ways unresolved, issue. In god Is Not Great (2007) he said his belief in Marxism could not survive the “onslaught of reality”. That its “intellectual and philosophical and ethical glories” “were in the past.” That it was “no longer any guide to the future” and, as a “total solution” had led to “the most appalling human sacrifices”. (Page 153) But is this all there is to say? In the New Statesman he has been cited as saying that he has remained in some sense a Marxist “but not Socialist”.  Hitch 22 concludes “Karl Marx was rightest all when he commended continual doubt and self criticism” (Page 424).

Hitch 22 is more, then, than the memories of a conventional journalist. His defence of a range of public causes, books on Orwell, Tom Paine, and atheism, to cite a few, show a powerful voice in defence of dissent, and, a “violent sense of repulsion” at the anti-War left. If we disagree with that there is no longer any “authentic socialist movement” (Page 411)that does not mean we reject everything he has ever said, en bloc.  With the deep emotions expressed Hitchens deserves more than clamour at a ‘turncoat’. Critical respect, above all criticism, for this Life and Opinions is called for.

Some have begun this. He has been described as “political romantic’ by David Runciman, and as a “man of faith” subjected to tender scorn by Ian Buruma.

From the left, of the relatively benign, Tom Rainer from the AWL  has some understanding for his hostility to indulgence towards Islamism. Nevertheless Hitch 22 is not written by one of “us”. James Bloodworth admires his “engaged” position, and ability to keep “belligerently arguing a point”. Guy Rundle in Spiked On-Line gets nearer to our objective by asking how and when Hitchens began to drift away from the left – in the mid-1980s. They too have never explained clearly how the Revolutionary Communist Party became the libertarian rightist, Institute of Ideas.

How Hitchens had a faith, lost it, and whether he has truly found a new one, is probably, for the left, both a mystery and of major interest to those who look into Hitch 22.

Very Near and Very Recent.

A leftist reader begins Hitch 22 with all this in mind. There is plenty to disarm the most hardened cadre. A man, who wept at Peter de Vries Blood of the Lamb, a fine secular parable of the slow death of a beloved child, and considers Jeeves a hero, demonstrates feeling and taste. The eulogy to the victims of 9/11 is restrained and moving. Hitchens remarks about the “moral imbecility” of the left faced with this catastrophe. This, he observes, was not confined to the ‘conspiratist’ left that has become part of the 9/11 ‘Truth’ movement. More serious figures claimed that the denial of ‘justice’ to ‘Moslems’ spurred Al-Qaeda into action- as if they had no wills and ideology of their own.

But many of us were deeply affected by this inferno of death. Even those who are no longer ‘anti’ but simply non–American were profoundly troubled. I lived in a daze of sadness for days. In my guts brewed the utmost bitterness at those from the ‘left’ who announced that the US “had it coming.”

But did this mean approving a ‘blow back’? Nothing could be less sure. Realist and ethical thinking on the call to overthrow Saddam, from its justification in claims about his ‘weapons of mass destruction’ to the principle of parachuting in a new government in Iraq, indicated that the US-led Coalition’s plans looked shaky.

But for Hitchens the time had come to join the bandwagon that would eventually roll into Iraq. He would take American citizenship and become “keener on the foreign policy response of the Administration than on its crude and hasty domestic measures.” (Page 250) Paul Breman’s summarised such a stand. That there was now a clear “clash of ideologies. It was the war between liberalism and apocalyptic and phantasmagoric movements that have risen up against liberal civilisation ever since the calamities of the First World War” (Page 183. Terror and Liberalism. 2003).

To abandon, as Hitchens did, his previous “loyalties” to the left for this cause, implies an account of how these ties were built and what they were. It was at The Leys Public School in Cambridge that he read widely, and was attracted to radical ideas. He began “writing grittily polemical and socially conscious essays and fiercely anti-militarist poems.” (Page 72) A 17-year-old Hitchens attended a CND Aldermaston March. It was the opening of the ‘Sixties’.

He became part of that minority (small) that was attracted to radical politics, in Britain largely socialist (though anarchism had a presence), that played an important part in the “youth revolt” of the end of the decade. To “have been there” and “felt it for yourself”(Page 81) was important. Many readers will consider that in the account of his adolescence Hitchens showed robust signs of ‘thinking for himself’ early on, and wonder at his later claims to have begun to do so only late in life.

Then there is Oxford. This was the University of Hitchens-the-life, and Hitchens-the-politics. In the former department he was only the “Second most famous person in Oxford (it’s the first time I had heard of Mike Rosen, a real gap in my education…). Immersed in the place’s “headiness” Christopher acquired enough names to drop to fill out a rival to the elongated ennui of A Dance to the Music of Time (a book he apparently knows backwards). The Warden of All Souls, John Sparrow took a shine to him. Invited to Luncheon Hitchens was “overwhelmed by the variety and deliciousness of the food and wine, and splendour of the silver and glass..”

The “silvered and saturnine features” of his Host and other “gilded and witty reactionaries” played as big a part in Hutchins’s latter political existence was defined by activism with the (as then) International Socialists (IS) and student protests. His experience of the “polymorphous perverse” and “restaurants which featured tasselled menus and wine lists” feature them alongside tales of his forays outside car plants, startling abilities as a leftist orator, and dramatic arrests at demonstrations. Hitchens no doubt overshadowed all, including Tariq Ali, who does, however get mentioned as a “then-friend”.

Living a double-life and keeping these “two sets of books” are less than appealing traits.

If this sounds like jealousy and class hatred, that is because it is.

The Left.

Hitchens had been introduced to the organised Left by Peter Sedgwick, a significant and respected figure in the IS of the time. He was a “hardened sceptic about the worst of the Left as well as an advocate for the best of it” (Page 89) Sedgwick, and the revolutionary he most admired, the anti-Stalinist and exile from the Soviet Union, Victor Serge, refused to admit that all “moral capital” of the Socialist Revolution was exhausted. Hitchens visited Havana, and was unimpressed with Cuba’s adoption of Soviet political and cultural norms. He fiercely opposed the invasion of Czechoslovakia. One false note: the claim, noticed by, amongst others, Buruma, that the IS were the “only ones to see 1968 coming..” suggests a gift for accurate prophecy unnoticed on the rest of the European left (Page 87).

Hitchens, at the time and subsequently, esteems the Black Marxist C.L.R. James, an unequivocal admirer of the ‘Jacobin’ Toussaint l’Ouverture and the Haitian slave revolt, a study that “had a lasting effect on me”.

Does this mean that all hope of the “mercurial element” of the treasured revolution had left socialism soon after? Is the choice between Moscow, Paris and Washington so definitive? Or, could it be inwardly resolved? How can one steer clear of the Stalinist legacy? It is not a good sign that he esteems the over-rated Kolakowski, whose three-volume work on Marxism has been compared unfavourably to a Telephone Directory. To reply one does not have to go far into issues of motive – though as we shall see these can play a part in Hitchen’s public stance – but one of fact.

Even in the microcosm of the 1960s and 70s British far left some of the important divisions between those shaped by the authoritarian side of Leninism’s legacy and democracy were being played out. This was not just a matter of recognising the “cultism” and “mental and sexual exploitation of the young and credulous” by the Workers Revolutionary Party. (Page 88)

For all of his tribute to Sedgwick Hitchens fails to mention that his mentor was opposed to the IS becoming the Socialist Workers Party (Here). Sedgwick argued that it was being built on the suppression of internal democracy. Hitchens took a few more decades to become publicly concerned about this incipient ‘totalitarianism’, or, more modestly that particular fly in the leftist ointment.

After University in the 1970s Hitchens had another “double life”. He was a journalist covering, with courage and perception, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, while writing for the New Statesman, and acting as features Editor of Socialist Worker. If “There were some giants on the Left in those days.” (Page 149) this did not persist after his move away from the IS – as it became the Socialist Workers Party.

Hitchens seems to have noticed the British left’s anti-democratic penchant not through any experience of the left or the SWP’s internal workings. It was during the same 1970s when the rise of the National Front gave some urgency to the fight against the far-right. Tyndall’s boot-boys were apparently a “considerable nuisance”. It was a duty to turn out to oppose them. Nonetheless Hitchens gives no account of the anti-racist and anti-Nazi movement that grew as a result, of dramatic episodes in this fight, such as the Red Lion Square clash, or Southwall – both of which resulted in a protestor’s death, or the Anti-Nazi League – all vanished beyond his ken as he moved to the US.

Instead what remains is a moment when Hitchens was struck to see in a US newspaper that American liberals had supported the right of the American Nazi Party to parade in a heavily Jewish suburb of Chicago. Socialist Worker, which he still read though he was no longer involved, sneered at the “empty sham” of American liberalism. They failed to realise that their own country’s legal structure was itself flawed. It is a land, where “the law governing free speech and free assembly was whatever the nearest policeman happened to say it was”. (Page 223)

The American liberals clearly had the upper hand in his mind on this one, anyone “repulsively unpopular” has the right to free speech. Hitchens apparently never heard of the respectable liberal argument used. At the time in favour of free speech but against the ‘right’ of someone to stand outside immigrants’ houses or areas insulting them and calling for the person to be banished from the land – incitement in brief.

Perhaps the key to Hitchens’s changing attitude to the British left lies elsewhere. Invited to speak on Cyprus in Haringey – date mid-70s – to a “rather dingy and poorly lit union hall”. The Labour Party, Union not to mention Cypriot audience (his own comrades get no mention) also appeared rather dingy and run-down. “These people who shun the gaudy display of supermarkets and spend their hard-earned wages at the Co-Op” make endless “preliminaries” to his speech: appeals for strike funds, for resolutions to the Labour Party, and, so it goes.

At the time the “movement”, This Great Movement of Ours, The Movement as a Whole, was everything for Hitchens. It has the “hope of a better future where a thinking working class can acquire the faculties of a serious party of government” (Page 139) It was bound to the international heroes of socialism. But… the actually existing Labour Party is “very boring and comprised” and the unions in the print are “the most hidebound and conservative force of all.” In short, Hitchens loved the Movement but had nothing but disdain for the organisations and people who made it up.

The Other Side of Life.

Nobody can complain if a Memoir is examined through its account of what lies behind a person’s actions. It may be that these can be seen when Hitchens appears most at home – certainly in contrast with his experience in dingy North London union Halls.

These moments of intimacy are not the easiest of reads. James Fenton is undoubtedly a wonderful poet (The Memory of War) and wrote brilliantly for the New Statesman. One rejoices at their friendship. But one rapidly wearies of adulatory references to Martin Amis, and can only feel embarrassment that Hitchens is obliged to offer some defence of the dire Kobra the Dread. Then there are their 1970s “Friday lunches”, a new “Bloomsbury legend.” Recollections of feeding-time word-games are certainly of a kind. The over-fed poetaster Clive James’s happy coinages, on the template of a “Shropshire cunt” look slightly less sparkling in print.

The point however lies elsewhere. This is where Hitchens found a new political background emerging. This was a time when the “post war consensus” was expiring, apparently “increasingly dependent on tax-funded statism” and “run by the union-based, old-line right wing of the Labour party machine.” (Page 175) Views that, to say the least, would not have annoyed too strongly admirers of the rising Tory leader, Margaret Thatcher.

Clearly a consensus against these ‘right-wing’ unions and ‘statism’ underlined these “heterodox” gatherings. It’s as if these pages of Hitch-22 are written to show to his friends that Hitchens was never really one of the picket-line bully-boys of the 1970s. One has the impression that what had initially detached Hitchens away from the left is not a great sentiment of moral outrage at its harping on about the faults of liberal democracy. It is a long-standing fear of being caught out and laughed at in such company.

There is nothing more calculated to push anyone into conformity than being thought a pompous spoil-sport. Hitchens’s relations with Martin’s father, Kingsley, are of this stamp. To observe that the “old boy’s imitation of an angry dog barking the words fuck off’ was note-perfect” is a recommendation for the healing powers of alcohol but little else. (Page 162)

Faith and Reason.

The noted Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity (1949 – 2002), “The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other.”(Page 139) All hinges on “the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”(P 140)

Hitchens describes growing cold on a cause, the Left, to “feel it falling away from me”. The break-up of Yugoslavia and the war in Bosnia profoundly affected him. Much of the (organised) left was hostile to external military intervention, while he clamoured for it, apparently finding only Serbian nationalism the only fascist threat, to a process of by “thinking for oneself”. The first months of the occupation of Iraq was “something more like a social and political revolution than a military occupation.” (Love, Poverty and War. 2004) If he is definitely engaged it has been in the sense of “on s’engage, puis on voit” – you commit yourself, then you’ll see. Apparently he is still contemplating a favourable response to the question, “what if it works?”

Though those with sensitive stomachs will not find it easy to swallow an affirmative, however qualified, transported through the mouth of a young soldier killed in Mosul, Mark Daily, and “deeply influenced” by Hitchens (Pages 320 – 9). The intention, without much doubt, is to choke off a hostile reader’s reply by letting emotion rule over reason. .

Hitchens has played a part in a wider political trend. That is the shift of a part of the left away from Marxism and democratic socialism to a belated ‘anti-totalitarianism’. This reached a brief high-point in the UK with the Euston Manifesto (though it had long-standing European counterparts in journals such as the French ‘anti-totalitarian’ intellectuals and the reviews le Débat and Esprit). This makes universal moral claims against absolutist political regimes.

Despite its supporters’ claims to defend reason it has let emotion overwhelm them. Without a Soviet enemy to fight, it focuses on a variety of targets, from Islamism, the remnants of Stalinism, and parts of the socialist left. These are attacked in lurid terms, as if one can raise the genuine menace of Islamism in various Moslem majority countries to a global threat, and tie to it a vast range of left-wing views, from relativism, post-modernism, and the political activities of small Trotskyist parties and leftish campaigns against War. Hitchens and his allies have attempted to define the political landscape in terms of a division of the world, between liberal ‘civilisation’ and ‘barbarism’.

Hitchens has won many friends, and ferocious opponents, by thinking for himself As New Atheist, Hitchens has brilliantly fought one type of complete belief, the “death cult” of religion, and called for a renewed Enlightenment (god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything 2007). Calling the wilder types of Islamism, in power or not, “Fascism with an Islamic face” had the merit of raising debate, if not ending it, or even beginning to resolve it.

But as often Hitchens has been a funnel through which various ideas have passed, rather than the author of new ones. One recurrent refrain is the most problematic. A fellow traveller of the American Polity, he believes that the historical American “Revolution” is the only one with “any verve left in it”. That is in contrast with Bolshevism and (less explicitly) the French Revolution, as his books on Paine and Jefferson make plain.

One can sympathise with sallies against the “insult and calumny” peddled by the coarser kind of anti-Americanism. But in what sense could the Federalist Papers serve as a new Communist Manifesto for the world’s oppressed? Surely the First Republic’s Declaration of the Rights of Man has some more universal energy left in it? Perhaps Hitchens agrees with Hannah Arendt that it was the ‘social’ element in that Revolution that, by swamping politics by class interests, doomed it to tyranny. Has Hitchens therefore also rejected Marx’s belief that a classless society is a desirable aim? And the call for a social order in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all? If so, he has not defended his claims.

This century’s coalition between anti-totalitarianism, armed-internationalism, and anti-illiberal views was never very secure. The failures of Middle Eastern policy, the desolation reigning in Iraq, the mire that is Afghanistan, weigh heavily.

The ‘anti-totalitarian’ international began to disintegrate in Continental Europe some time back. In France, the division of the troops over the relationship between republicanism and liberalism erupted over a decade ago.

Today it’s a realisation that the domestic right is the main illiberal threat dominates politics in many countries. Italy and France present some of the best-known examples of how attacks on liberty – social and political freedoms – from that quarter are more pressing than the prospect that a totalitarian left or Islamist Caliphate will come to power.

In the circles closer to Hitchens awareness that social democracy – which they claim to support – has an enemy in the market state, has pushed some back to the left. Their reaction to the Liberal-Conservative Coalition impels many to also look again at the kind of passionate egalitarianism that Tony Judt argued for. How is Hitchens reacting? Hitch 22 shows few signs of seeing this. He is in danger of becoming an embarrassing reminder of long-past enthusiasm for the invasion of Iraq.

In his adopted homeland they say that being called history is not a compliment.

Hitchens 22

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

326 Responses

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  1. “show a powerful voice in defence of dissent”

    The one time Hitchen’s had a real opportunity to practice dissent, he failed the test miserable as the price was to high and he feared what might flow from it; and as is the way with such folk, he dressed up his craven surrender in hogwash.

    I remember reading his work years ago in copies of International Socialism, which I used to lift from a shop on Charring Cross Rd which shall remain nameless. I felt he was a windbag back then and little changed down the years.

    Like many of his kind, he had less understanding of working class people than an average tory councillor, we were there to be marshalled by great minds, such as himself, and when in the 1970s he woke up to the fact we had opinions of our own, and an ability to organize ourselves, he could not hack it, and gradually repositioned himself.

    He became a man who rarely stepped beyond his own comfort zone, that is fine if that is how you wish to spend your life, but he was a drunken, opinionated, lout, admittedly with a smooth pen, who demanded the right to tell people how to live their lives. The reason he rejected Marx’s belief that a classless society is a desirable aim, was because he realised if this came about, he would no longer gain a place near the top table, as it would be firewood.

    It was not so much he supported GW Bush over Iraq, what became unforgivable was the way he condemned those who opposed the criminal and illegal occupation of Iraq. There is no way this reprehensible creature can crawl back from that.

    Mick Hall

    August 9, 2010 at 12:41 pm

  2. I take it you don’t like him Mick!

    I have tried to be a bit less direct in criticising him.

    My comments on his visit to Haringey (my part of London, and very much my kind of people that he describes so patronisingly) were originally a lot more robust.

    Andrew Coates

    August 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm

  3. No, I never took to him, by the way I should have said in the above, I enjoyed your review, good stuff.

    Mick Hall

    August 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm

  4. I rather enjoyed Hitch 22. Personally, I think the key section is on pages 393-4 in the chapter on Edward Said where Hitchens ends by arguing that Noam Chomsky and Edward Said “believed that if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.”

    It is the knee jerk anti-Americanism of many on the left that annoys Hitchens, and quite frankly annoys me too.

    In so far as the war in Iraq, Hitchens’ support for the war, like Paul Berman’s (not Breman’s) support was not for the reasons provided by George Bush. He viewed Iraq under Saddam Hussein to be like Kanan Makiya viewed it: a “Republic of Fear.” It was a state that murdered its own people as it had done with the Kurds, a state that so terrorised the population that the population were too scared to speak out.

    Because the left should oppose fascism, the left should have opposed Saddam Hussein. But no, this was not to be the case; the left, or sections of the left, may have opposed Saddam Hussein, but there was something more important for them: Saddam Hussein was opposed to America. This is why the Socialist Worker Party backed, Stop the War Coalition (StWC) could make the following statement in 2004:

    The StWC reaffirms its call for an end to the occupation, the return of all British troops in Iraq to this country and recognises once more the legitimacy of the struggle of Iraqis, by whatever means they find necessary, to secure such ends.[Emphasis added]

    I have emphasised the words “by whatever means they find necessary” for a reason: the StWC viewed the suicide bombings carried out by the some Iraqis against British and American troops to be legitimate. This is not a message of a body that was anti-war, this is the message of a body that was pro-war, it wanted the Americans and their coalition of forces to lose.

    So opposed are certain sections on the left to liberal interventionism that they would go so far as to deny that a genocide was occurring (as some such as LM magazine – formerly Living Marxism – had done)rather than support intervention by the West. Hitchens comments (p.394), Edward Said would not lend public support to Bill Clinton for his intervention in the Balkans. This is the shame of those sections of the left and this is what Hitchens,Nick Cohen and others have pointed out. The far-left hate them for it, but it is the far-left that should be ashamed of their stance, not Hitchens or Cohen.

    Michael Ezra

    August 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm

  5. Of historical interest — You can see a clip of Toussaint’s last moments in prison from the award-winning new short film “The Last Days of Toussaint L’Ouverture” at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2468184/


    August 9, 2010 at 5:38 pm

  6. “but it is the far-left that should be ashamed of their stance, not Hitchens or Cohen.”

    So I should be ashamed for opposing a war and occupation that left 500,000 plus Iraqis dead since 2003 and years of total chaos, economic collapse, and the creation of a mockney democracy which is unable to even decide who was the victor in the last general election months after polling day. I think not!

    Much if not all of this tragedy was totally predictable, now if I understood this fact, before a single US army boot hit Iraqi soil, what does that tell us about people like Mr Hitchen.

    No ism told me to oppose this wretched war, like most on the left I did so because it was plain wrong. The problem with Hitchen and your good self you seem unable to step beyond a cold war mentality, If the US government acts in a foolish or despicable way I will oppose them, if by some miracle they do the decent thing, I would stand four square with them and cheer. Myself I would prefer the latter, but unfortunately in my lifetime this has rarely occurred.

    Still one lives in hope.

    Mick Hall

    August 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm

  7. Mick Hall,

    I never knew you were a military and intelligence expert who could predict things that others did not predict. One wonders if you were also one of those leftists who predicted that losses in the 1991 Gulf War (Desert Storm) would also run into millions including countless Allied losses, that the war would drag on for years, and that the draft would be reinstated. It did not matter that that war was fought to free Kuwait, brave leftists could march on Trafalgar Square singing, “Bush and Major, you are w*nkers, we won’t fight to fill your tankers.”

    The amount of people who have died in the current war in Iraq is a matter of debate, but it is not necessary for me to go down that route as the loss of even one innocent life is a tragedy. What you do not mention of course is how many of those lives you claim have been lost have been killed as a result of US actions and how many have been killed by sectarian violence in Iraq, suicide bombers to those Muslims of a different sect to themselves in the Sunni/Shi’ite divide.

    What of course you also do not consider are the possible counterfactuals, for example had Saddam remained in power whether he would have gassed thousands more Kurds, he did it previously, he could do it again. Or perhaps, for an anti-Imperialist leftist, you could not care less how many people Saddam killed or how many he tortured or even if he, under another counterfactual, started a new war with Iran causing the death of over a million, because after all, Saddam is anti-Imperialist, isn’t he? But having said that, you might change your tune if there had been this war between Iraq and Iran, because like in the previous war throughout much of the 1980s between these two states, you may have looked at the countries, weighed up who was more anti-Imperialist and decided to cheer on the Iranians and denounce the murderous Iraqis.

    It is quite easy being a radical leftist isn’t it Mick? All you need to do is decide who is the most anti-American and cheer them on.

    But you claim that this is not you,because you claim that if the US government does “the decent thing,” (something you do not define) that you would “stand four square with them and cheer.” You hasten to add that “unfortunately” in your lifetime “this has rarely occurred.” Sadly, you do not say how old you are or what these rare occasions were when you were backing the US government. I am still trying to find someone from the Trotskyist left who will support any act of US intervention from the Russian Revolution onwards. Take World War II, a classic case. Here most people in the real world, saw it quite simply, the Allies, Britain, America and Russia being on the right side and the Axis powers- Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan being the bad guys. It is not too difficult to make that assessment, unless you are on the Trotskyist left. Here you would would have opposed US and UK entering the war. Great Britain and France were on a moral equivalent level to Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy:

    But isn’t the working class obliged in the present conditions to aid the democracies in their struggle against German fascism?” … We reject this policy with indignation. Naturally there exists a difference between the political regimes in bourgeois society just as there is a difference in comfort between various cars in a railway train. But when the whole train is plunging into an abyss, the distinction between decaying democracy and murderous fascism disappears in the face of the collapse of the entire capitalist system… The victory of the imperialists of Great Britain and France would be not less frightful for the ultimate fate of mankind than that of Hitler and Mussolini. Bourgeois democracy cannot be saved.

    But leftists do not even have to be that neutral that they are bad as each other (as if Churchill was somehow the moral equivalent of Hitler!), because Trotsky argued that the chances for the revolution will be better if democracies collapse and the Nazis conquer Europe:

    From the standpoint of a revolution in one’s own country the defeat of one’s own imperialist government is undoubtedly a “lesser evil.” Pseudo-internationalists, however, refuse to apply this principle in relation to the defeated democratic countries. In return, they interpret Hitler’s victory not as a relative but as an absolute obstacle in the way of a revolution in Germany. They lie in both instances.

    … Even in the event of a complete victory over England, Germany in order to maintain her conquests would be compelled in the next few years to assume such economic sacrifices as would far outweigh those advantages which it might draw directly from her victories… Hitler will have too many worries in Berlin to be able successfully to fulfill the role of executioner in Paris, Brussels or London. [Emphasis added]

    If Trotskyists could not support a war against Hitler, it is hardly likely that they would support intervention in the Balkans or anywhere else. Who cares what genocidal lunatic gets to power somewhere in the world, the Trotskyists would still oppose any intervention by Britain or America. And it is for this reason that the anti-Imperialist leftists should be ashamed.

    Michael Ezra

    August 10, 2010 at 12:52 am

    • We can go on debating counterfactual conditonals for ever.

      However Michael your original point was that Hitchens and co-thinkers supported, you say rightly, a list of Western interventions form Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan to Iraq, correctly because these were, in the firstc ase , to opoose Genocide, and in the last case, to fight Saddam’s fascism. The other two examples I suppsoe could be taken under a wider category, something like, Only External Internvention could resolve the problems they faced (I hope you are not going to claim that Kosovo was a potential site of genoicde because that is simply nto ture0.

      Bosnia is a hard-case. But I will focus on it.

      My own position was that I opposed the break-up of the Yugoslav Federation. I have never bought into the Serbs-gagging-to-be- genociders-fascist led view. I found it impossible to choose sides for very good reasons. In the conditions of the growing civil war, nationalist forces sometimes took a quasi-fascist form (Chetnick Serbs, Croat Ustache), highly dubious armed groups (Kosovo), became nationalist self-defence groups (Bosnians and similar self-defence groups amongst all nationalities). There was also the remnants of the Communist federal army, that fought to preserve what they could of their own status. To repeat, since I was against the first premis of this civil war – that the Federation should be broken up – I cannot see why I, or any leftist who backs the principle of federating countries (eg the EU) rather than supporting nationalists should have backed one group against the others.

      That is why, if some kind of UN brokered-agreement could have been reached (counterfactual) it would have got support from the kind of left I’m from. In that case we would not have had the seige of Saravejo in the first place (counterfactual).

      One point though: the word ‘gencoide’ is not accurate. There was a sustained use of terror (largely but very far from exclusively Serb forces led) during a civil war.

      Since Western Europe early on became an active player in the disintegration, as the US eventually did as well, the armed intervention that eventually took place was not run by honest brokers.

      Was NATO and the West’s strategy in the region as success?

      The new Balkan micro-states, some at daggers-drawn, others (Slovinia) edging to the EU,mostly have massive economic and social difficulties. They look pretty long-term.

      This case shows that Humanitarian Intervention fuelled by emotion, and decided during Flash-points, can create long-term problems. Taking responsbility way from political actors makes them irresponsible.

      Andrew Coates

      August 10, 2010 at 11:38 am

  8. Michael
    Firstly one does not have to be a expert in military or intel affairs to have foreseen the conflagration which erupted after US forces occupied Iraq, All one needed was basic knowledge of Iraq, the wider middle east, and an understanding of how many military boots on the street it took for the USA to carry out the only large scale military occupations it has ever successfully participated in. (The southern states at the end of the US civil war and the post WW2 occupation of Japan and Germany)

    I find it very revealing you mention Desert Storm, because that war was led by individuals, some of whom had participated in WW2 or served with people who had, were well aware of the aforementioned point and refused to move beyond the original remit. In other words they understood the rush of blood to the head which can come when organizing or after a successful campaign, and the impact it can have in derailing the whole enterprise.

    As to you comments about leftist crying wankers etc, I have no knowledge of that, these days, thankfully I am only answerable for my own behaviour. So do try and act in a civilised way and restrain your cold war warrior outbursts, please, otherwise I see little point in debating.

    You are correct in that many of the 500K plus Iraqi deaths came about due to sectarian infighting, but as I wrote above, this should not have come as any surprise to the US and UK governments, one only had to analyse the ethnic make up of Iraq and shia oppression, to understand once Iraq’s central government crashed, there would be a backwash of sectarian violence.

    Thus the USA’s attempt to occupy this nation with less than 200,000 military personal was in my view yet another war crime, as it made it an impossibility for them to carry out the legal requirements of an occupying authority, and so it has proven. (At one time during the hieght of the occupation, there was less than 100 thousand US troop on or near the Iraqi street.)

    I am quiet happy to debate the consequences of Saddam staying in power if another thread offers the chance but, not here as it will simply divert what we are debating, which is the war and occupation of Iraq. All I will say is I always opposed Saddam in what minor ways I could, and supported the no fly zones over the Kurdish north of Iraq, which undoubtedly improved the lives of Iraqi Kurds immensely. Having said this, I felt uncomfortable with the sanctions, as due to the nature of the regime, and corrupt western business elements, it would always circumvent them to feed its greedy elite.

    I find you accusation that I am a Trotskyite amusing, as too would many Trotskyites i’m sure. Whilst I like, and admire the dedication of the more independent minded Trotskyist like Andrew, I am not a follower of Mr Trotsky, as I am ‘absolutely’ opposed to their organisation methodology which centres around democratic centralism, a system which leads to stagnation and unaccountable leadership cliques. This has led to the followers of the great man, to not only view the world through the prism of the early Soviet Union, it has also far to often, made them relate to the world as the wish it were, not as it is. (As a writer, ‘and’ revolutionary, I regard Trotsky in the front rank, as human being I find him less attractive)

    On a more personal level I feel they view working class people as a homogeneous block, whom they have a right to lead/mould at will, in this they remind me of Clegg and Cameron, although these two charlatans would prefer to bully, threaten and order us. Hence just as we rejected the leadership of the Trots, we will reject the class prejudiced nonsense the coalition is offering up.

    As to WW2, I will leave it to a knowledgeable Trotskyist to deal with your quote, all I will say is, like millions of workers then and since, I understand if Hitler had occupied the UK, there would not be enough passports to go around to carry us workers out of harms way, hence they only way to defeat fascism was a merciless war against Nazi Germany.

    As to how old I am, as you ask such an insulting question I would guess I am a dam sight older than you, not least because I have not been infected with neo-conservative nonsense, wise up, you cannot export democracy on the end of bayonets. (nor socialism come to that)

    Peoples have to create their own little piece of paradise.

    Mick Hall

    August 10, 2010 at 11:58 am

  9. Andrew,

    Thank you for your response. I shall note you down as a Bosnian genocide denier.

    On a different note, Mick Hall claims that you are a Trotskyist. Assuming this is accurate, just for my own curiosity, has there been any military intervention by Britain or America anywhere in the world since the Russian Revolution that you, as a Trotskyist, supported? On the assumption that there is not, can you tell me under what circumstances you would support military intervention by an imperialist power?

    In my first contribution to this thread, I quoted Christopher Hitchens on Edward Said as follows:

    if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.

    I am wondering if this view by Hitchens of Said could also be applied to yourself?

    You may feel that this is a harsh assessment, but I do not think so. I have long wondered whether it is at all possible to see on the front page of a Trotskyist newspaper a headline that says something like, “Support American Troops in XXXX.” I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible, at least not while the United States remains a capitalist society which I believe to be safe in my guess that it will be for the foreseeable future.

    Michael Ezra

    August 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    • And I shall note that you cite as evidence the Voice of the Henry Jackson Society, Attila Hoare,


      Jackson was often criticized for his support for the Vietnam War and his close ties to the defense industries of his state. His proposal of Fort Lawton as a site for an anti-ballistic missile system was strongly opposed by local residents, and Jackson was forced to modify his position on the location of the site several times, though he continued to support ABM development. American Indian rights activists then protested Jackson’s plan to give Fort Lawton to Seattle instead of returning it to local tribes, staging a sit-in. In the eventual compromise, most of Fort Lawton became Discovery Park, with 20 acres (81,000 m2) leased to United Indians of All Tribes, who opened the Daybreak Star Cultural Center there in 1977.

      Opponents derided him as “the Senator from Boeing”[11] and a “whore for Boeing”[12] because of his consistent support for additional military spending on weapons systems and accusations of wrongful contributions from the company; in 1965, eighty percent of Boeing’s contracts were military.[1][10] Jackson and Magnuson’s campaigning for an expensive government supersonic transport plane project eventually failed.

      After his death, critics pointed to Jackson’s support for Japanese American internment camps during World War II as a reason to protest the placement of his bust at the University of Washington.[13] Jackson was both an enthusiastic defender of the evacuation and a staunch proponent of the campaign to keep the Japanese from returning to the Pacific Coast after the war.[14]”

      You seem to think that calling something terror rather than genocide is some kind of denial (of what, of killing? then what is terror?).

      I agree that Srebrenica was (as the International War Crimes called it) was an act of genocide . That is it was an attempt to annihilate, ” in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group..”

      I do not
      agree that a genocide (that is, large-scale killing aimed to annihilate an entire people) took place.

      From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_Genocide

      “in line with a majority of legal scholars, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have ruled that, in order for actions to be deemed genocide, there must be physical or biological destruction of a protected group and a specific intent to commit such destruction. To date, only the Srebrenica massacre has been found to be a genocide by the ICTY, a finding upheld by the ICJ.[4]”

      No doubt you and Attila Hoare (who doesn’t seem to like you lot these days: http://greatersurbiton.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/harrys-place-at-the-crossroads-anti-elitism-and-the-white-working-class/) would disagree with any judgement of the International Court that doesn’t fit into your claims.

      Andrew Coates

      August 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm

  10. Mick,

    I must say that I am very impressed that you know more about troop requirements for operations than the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Perhaps you can send them some of your detailed musings on terrain, population size, equipment and many other matters.

    I apologise for implying that you were on the Trotskyist left if that is not the case. In any event, I have glanced through some pages your own blog,”Organized Rage” that you link to. It seems to me that you are against British troops in Afghanistan and want to see there “immediate withdrawal.” This assumes your views are in line with the questionnaire that you sent to parliamentary candidates in your constituency.

    I do not suppose you care too much about the story in The Times today about a pregnant widow, who had allegedly committed a “crime” of adultery, and was sentenced by the Taleban to more than 200 lashes before being shot in the head three times and her body simply dumped. Perhaps I am harsh, perhaps you do care, but you do not care enough to have British troops fighting against those who install such a disgraceful criminal system. You might even perversely blame the actions of the Taleban on the British troops.

    Also on your blog, it seems that you support gun toting IRA criminals such as Bobby Sands, the legalisation of heroin,and the boycott of the State of Israel. What a model citizen you are.

    Finally, I do not know why you said I asked how old you were, as I did not. What I did was point out that you never said how old you were. This would not normally be relevant, but was relevant in this instance as you referred to US actions in your “lifetime.” Without knowing the period of your lifetime, one cannot know what US actions would or would not be included by your reference. I hardly think that was an insulting observation.

    Michael Ezra

    August 10, 2010 at 2:05 pm

  11. “I must say that I am very impressed that you know more about troop requirements for operations than the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Perhaps you can send them some of your detailed musings on terrain, population size, equipment and many other matters.”


    Your to kind, no need to worry about passing them on to the NSA, GCHQ does that type of thing automatically through the mechanism of the UK-USA Security Agreement.

    ‘A model citizen,’ Mmmm, and there was me thinking you are against authoritarian regimes. It seems not, in your neat little world, it seems you wish us all to march to the same tune.

    Still, unlike you I will be tolerant, none of the issues you raise and lay at my door are especially radical; close colleagues of Bobby Sand’s now sit in a regional government within the UK and are regular guest’s of the British PM. A recent UN document suggested legalisation of illicit drugs like heroin should be considered, as prohibition has been a total failure. As to a boycott of Israel, if you can suggest any other way which will ensure the state of Israel abide by all UN resolutions, cease building illegal settlements, and returns to the negotiating table and acts with good faith, I am willing to listen.

    As to your comment about the treatment of women in Afghanistan, I will treat it with the contempt it deserves. Not least because you refuse to deal with my suggestion it is impossible to export democracy and liberal cultural values on the end of a grenadiers bayonet, let alone via a USAAF drone ‘smartbomb.’

    By the way I find it almost surreal you cry crocodile tears about a single death, as inhumane as it was, but have little to say about 500 thousand plus dead. Weird.

    Mick Hall

    August 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm

  12. Mick ,

    But you also gave the impression you knew more than GCHQ about how many troops were satisfactory to deal with Iraq. This is especially so as you claim to be aware of the UKUSA Agreement. Perhaps you can let the signers to that agreement know of your expertise in determining troop requirements for various conflicts.

    Of course it is not “radical” to have supported the IRA. Perhaps you would have cheered on had that bomb in Brighton killed Mrs Thatcher. Nor is it “radical” to support the legalisation of drugs such as cocaine and heroin. I can imagine the every day scene at the cash till in Sainsbury’s after selecting the weekly groceries to ask the cashier for twenty Marlboro cigarettes and a couple of grams of Bolivia’s finest marching powder. And in so far as boycotting Israel, why not? The Nazis boycotted the Jews, so can you. (Oh sorry, you are not boycotting Jews, only Zionists!) It is funny how despite your view that the war in Iraq is a “war crime”, that you are not boycotting the UK or the USA, but you choose to boycott the small state of Israel instead. The Jews have been the standard scapegoat for 2,000 years, I do not see why it should change now. There I go again, mentioning Jews, I really must stick to the word Zionist, it is so much more fashionable. Perhaps you can boycott all “Rootless Cosmopolitans.”

    Finally, of course, woman who commit adultery and subsequently get lashed more than 200 times before being shot deserve to be treatment with contempt.

    Michael Ezra

    August 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm

  13. Andrew,

    I wonder why you did not even begin to consider answering the main point of my last post to you on this thread about whether a Trotskyist has ever, or would ever, support any act of foreign intervention in any circumstances by the USA. I actually think I know the answer, it is a clear “No.” And that brings be back to the main point I have been making: it does not matter how evil a dictator is somewhere in the world, there are those on the left who simply will not support the USA doing something about it. This is what I have referred to as the shame of the left.

    I do find it amusing that you take from the Wikipedia entry on Henry Jackson, only the criticism of him. However, I did not set out to use the Henry Jackson Society as a source, but Marko Attilla Hoare, a published academic who specialises in the region. The reason I selected that particular article was because it was quite comprehensive in dealing with another genocide denier: Noam Chomsky. Earlier on in this thread you state that “the word ‘gencoide’[sic] is not accurate.” I am not sure if the misspelling of the word “genocide” was deliberate or not, but I will take it as a simple typing error. But now, to try and back up your claim you actually link to a Wikipedia web site entitled, “Bosnian Genocide”!!!! Moreover, you quote a section of that page that states, “the Srebrenica massacre has been found to be a genocide by the ICTY, a finding upheld by the ICJ.” If you accept this (it was you who quoted it!) then you must accept that for the massacre that occurred in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, at least, the term “genocide” is appropriate.

    Personally, I have never had any problem with Marko Atilla Hoare, and the link to his blog that you copy does not mention that he has a problem with me either.

    Michael Ezra

    August 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    • You know very well that I was referring to the claim that “the war in Bosnia can thus be considered both a genocide against Bosnia’s Muslim” (Genocide watch).

      Whether you can Srebrenica an act of mass murder, genocide or terror this does not prove the claim that the ‘war’ – that is Serbia’s war, was a war of genocide against the Bosnian Muslims.

      The effect (if it is not the intention) of this claim is to overwhelm the claims of other victims of terror and mass murder in the former Yugoslavia.

      You are therefore in danger of limiting the focus of the defence of the universal human rights.

      As for Hoare, again you know very well what I meant: his attacks on Harry’s Place.

      I find it odd that someone so interested in the dodgy pasts and links of the left should ignore Hoare’s distasteful Henry Jackson Society. Being a top European figure in a group dedicated to upholding the values of a warmongering prejudice-ridden tout shows something wrong about this person – at the very least. Such an organisation could not embody many people’s idea of liberal democracy – let alone left-wing values.

      Finally, I am not particularly interested in debating an imaginary ‘evil dictator’ that the US is set to overthrow.

      Give an example – the point I made about Hitchens and iraq.

      Andrew Coates

      August 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm

  14. Michael

    Your ranting all over the place, bit of advice once you start crashing the ! key, you have lost control of not only yourself, but the debate. It happens to all of us at times, but it makes any hope of serious debate impossible, cliché after cliché what next the internet version of the kitchen sink.

    I will leave you with a Chinese saying someone just sent me in the hope it might help you look beyond the spin and hype of the political elites and in the hope you will gain a little equilibrium in your arguments.

    “He who would rule the world should first fix own house and family”

    Mick Hall

    August 10, 2010 at 6:22 pm

  15. Mick,

    I am pleased that you can determine a set of rules, ex post facto, and determine that if I use an exclamation mark, that I lose the debate. I notice that this rule does not apply to yourself since you used an exclamation mark in your post of August 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm, prior to my own use of one in my post of August 10, 2010 at 12:52 am. Based on your logic, I might as well say “Mornington Crescent” and declare myself the winner.

    Michael Ezra

    August 10, 2010 at 11:14 pm

  16. “declare myself the winner.”

    If you say so Michael it must be so; but then in your world the occupation of Iraq has been a great success, Afghanistan is a country of peace and harmony thanks to NATO forces, and the Palestinian’s, like the Irish before them, deserve all they get due to having had the temerity to oppose the yoke of oppression.

    Mick Hall

    August 11, 2010 at 8:39 am

  17. Mick,

    I cherish the freedom that we have in the UK and USA where you can stand at Speakers’ Corner, or an equivalent, and denounce David Cameron or Barack Obama without fear of arrest. I do not admire terrorists such as the IRA or Hamas who, especially in the latter case, go out of their way to kill innocent civilians and have a genocidal and racist Charter.

    I look at countries such as Afghanistan in 2001 under the Taleban who harboured Al Queda, an organisation that took it upon itself to murder thousands of innocent civilians and would have murdered more given the chance. The same organisation that did take that chance in 2005 on London’s tubes and buses and in many other places. I also look at Iraq prior to 2003 and see a country where the population is petrified of their dictator, a man who did not hesitate to use gas to kill thousands of Kurds or start a war with Iran that ended with over a million deaths. I also consider the IRA and the bombs that they set off in the mainland and the murders that they committed – and I think to myself – No thank you.

    Democracy – A wonderful thing.

    Michael Ezra

    August 11, 2010 at 8:59 am

  18. Andrew,

    I now realise you have a long history of this sort of thing. The very same Marko Attila Hoare brings to my attention the following:

    During the war in Bosnia, Coates was outspoken in his praise of the ‘apologists for nationalist murder’ and the ‘anti-imperialists’. In August 1992,Living Marxism magazine published a letter by Coates, in which he said:

    ‘Three cheers for Living Marxism‘s courageous stand on Serbia. At last some proletarian internationalism has seen its way into print.’

    He went on to complain that in the Western ‘official media’, a ‘totally distorted picture of the Yugoslavian conflict has been presented’.

    For those who are not aware, Living Marxism‘s stand on the subject has become <a href = "http://www.david-campbell.org/photography/atrocity-and-memory/infamous.

    Given that Marko is a friend of mine, he has informed me of the following additional information:

    It’s true that nobody has yet been convicted of genocide at the ICTY, except with regard to Srebrenica. However, there are still cases outstanding for genocide outside of Srebrenica at the ICTY; Radovan Karadzic is on trial for it there at present. The ICJ’s verdict is different – it categorically says there was no genocide except at Srebrenica. On the other hand, in 1997, a German court convicted Nikola Jorgic, a Bosnian Serb, for genocide in the north Bosnian region of Doboj in 1992. Jorgić challenged his conviction, and brought his case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which upheld the conviction. So the international courts are divided on the matter of whether there was genocide outside of Srebrenica.

    I can also inform you that Marko does not have a problem with many of the writers of Harry’s Place, his problem is with one or two of the main posters. I know this as I have discussed it with him. He also has a problem with some of the people who post below the line. For what it is worth, I also have problems with many people who post below the line at Harry’s Place, but you are fully aware that Harry’s Place takes a very laissez-faire attitude to below the line commentators.

    Finally, you mention that you do not want to discuss some “imaginary ‘evil dictator'” but what you want is an example. As such I will revert to my earlier point as a question. Has there been a single act of foreign intervention by the US government since the Russian Revolution that you, as a Trotskyist, support?

    Michael Ezra

    August 11, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    • The citation you make comes from 1992. If you call a few sentences, “outspoken” “praise” that is your problem.

      My position was against Western intervention in the Balkans – from the start. At the time LM confined itself to this. I also had some letters published elsewhere, in the Guardian and the London Review of Books. They concentrated on this point, and were opposed to blaming one side for the crisis in the Balkans. These opinions on the break up of Yugoslavia at the time were expanded and published in a lot more detail in Labour Left Briefing and in the Revolutionary Communist Group’s paper, Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism (and as you know little of the left I will have to inform you that the RCG were the enemies of the RCP/Living Marxism).

      The Living Marxism claim about the ‘fake photo’ was based on material published in January/February 1997 .

      Now you can criticise, as people did, a ‘hands off’ position on the Balkan wars, but it a total fabrication to suggest that I was a Living Marxism supporter, or that I endorsed this material -written some years later than the letter.

      I had nothing to do with this, whatsoever. I, to underline, have never been to a Living Marxism event and have have most tenuous contact with the group. Specifically I had absolutely nothing to do this whole affair of the photos etc which led to the ITN libel trial.

      But it hardly surprises me that anyone who admires Henry Jackon, racist enemy of American-Japanese and supporter of nepalming the Vietnamese back into the stone-age, would wish to prove that an opponent of his views is somehow connected with Living Marxism and the ‘faked photos’.

      Hey, bingo, and with a lot of twisting and lying, and you’ve got a negationist!

      To return to this strange organisation:

      The Henry Jackson Society Statement of Principles says,

      “The pursuit of a robust foreign policy was one of Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson’s most central concerns. This was to be based on clear universal principles such as the global promotion of the rule of law, liberal democracy, civil rights, environmental responsibility and the market economy. The western policies of strength and human rights, which later hastened the collapse of the Soviet dictatorship, owed much to Jackson’s example” (mY BOLD ADDED).

      So, advocating the internment of people on racial grounds during the 2nd World War (human rights), bombing North Vietnam (more human rights) and building up the US arms industry (yet more of the same, plus boosting enviromental resposibility) were the “clear universal principles” that the led to the “collapse of the Soviet dictatorship” and are the template for the future growth of liberal democracy.

      Frankly, if you lot think that you are as deluded as you can get.

      Eye-popping deluded.

      Or as Mick Hall says, “you have lost control of not only yourself, but the debate.”

      Oh, and I am not exactly a Trotskyist.

      You can call me a Marxist though – Henry Jackson would find ways of dealing with that…

      Hoare’s parents were Marxists once….a long time ago.

      Andrew Coates

      August 11, 2010 at 4:18 pm

  19. Andrew,

    I forgot to comment on the Henry Jackson Society. I have been fortunate to attend a number of their events. You argue that “Such an organisation could not embody many people’s idea of liberal democracy – let alone left-wing values.”

    In relation to the first part of the sentence:

    The first of their Statements of Principles reads:

    [The Henry Jackson Society] Believes that modern liberal democracies set an example to which the rest of the world should aspire.

    In relation to the second part of your sentence:

    It can be seen on the list of signatories to their Statement of Principles that there are some Labour Party MPs. There have been Labour MPs host some of the HJS meetings that I have attended.

    Michael Ezra

    August 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm

  20. Andrew,

    It seems to me that for someone to go to the lengths of getting a letter published that states, “Three cheers for Living Marxism‘s courageous stand on Serbia,” is “outspoken praise.” If you wish to deny that it is, that is up to you. At least you do not seem to me to denying that you did have the letter published in Living Marxism.

    You have of many occasions stated that I “know little of the left” to imply that you know a lot more. As you do not know me, I find this a startling claim to make. As it happens, I do know something about the RCG and the RCT which ultimately split and became the RCP. To show how radically different the RCP was from the RCG, the newer RCP called its front organisation the “Irish Freedom Movement” as compared to the “Irish Solidarity Movement” of the older RCG. I am also aware that RCG types always denied that are Trotskyist and this may explain your own denial. Personally, I think Denver Walker hit the nail on the head when he said (Quite Right Mr. Trotsky![Harney and Jones, 1985], p.43) that “The RCG is Trotskyism’s answer to the Shining Light Temple of the Guru of Maharaj Ji.”

    I see you still avoid answering the question as to whether there has been a single case where you would have supported US intervention since the time of the Russian Revolution.

    Regarding Henry Jackson, one does not necessarily need to agree with every single one of his views to support the Henry Jackson Society. In fact, all that matters is support for the Statement of Principles.

    Michael Ezra

    August 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    • “I am also aware that RCG types always denied that are Trotskyist and this may explain your own denial.”

      I am not an Illuminati either.


      Found out there.

      Andrew Coates

      August 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

  21. How apt (or ironic) that Hitchens is pictured puffing on a ciggie- a habit that will, sadly, lead to his demise at some point in the future. Tragic. :o(

    John Whitley

    August 12, 2010 at 8:39 am

  22. but you are probably paid by the illuminati … but who pays them? 😉


    August 12, 2010 at 12:40 pm

  23. Das Ziel des Illuminatenordens war es, durch Aufklärung und sittliche Verbesserung die Herrschaft von Menschen über Menschen überflüssig zu machen.

    Sounds good to me…

    Andrew Coates

    August 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm

  24. that’s why they were/are hated


    August 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm

  25. Michael Ezra seems to imply that Mick can’t have foreseen Iraq’s descent into chaotic violence and ethnic strife. What’s so hard to believe? For years the nation had been unified by a vicious, domineering tyrant. Knock out the central authority; leave a fractured people; anger them with careless violence…Do you have to be a military planner to think that goodwill may not flourish?


    August 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm

  26. bensix,

    The point I have tried to make is that with the benefit of hindsight we know that that those who thought it would be a quick and simple war were wrong, and that those who claimed it would be a disaster were – to a certain extent – right. That does not mean to say that they were completely right, but for this purpose, let us accept that argument.

    Many on the anti-war left also predicted that the Gulf War that commenced in 1991 would also be a long drawn out war and some even argued that the US would reinstate the draft for that war. Similarly, there were those on the anti-war left who argued that the Royal Navy were no match for the Argentinians in the Falklands War, that Britain could not possibly win that war etc etc etc. These examples should suffice. We now know, in these other examples, that the anti-war leftists who made such arguments were wrong.

    What does this prove – I would suggest no more than the fact than a stopped manual wind watch is accurate with the time twice a day.

    An assessment of the amount of troops needed for an operation is something that requires military skill, expertise and, ideally, substantially military intelligence including knowledge of the terrain, enemy weapons, capabilities and the list goes on. I doubt Mick Hall has that expertise. This is why I ridiculed Mick’s ex post facto claim that 200,000 troops were insufficient. I would guess that he has no better idea of how many troops would be required for such an operation than the man on the Clapham omnibus. And before I receive any sarcastic responses back, I also say that the US Joint Chief of Staffs had a much better idea than the man on the Clapham omnibus because the Joint Chiefs of Staff had access to substantial expertise.

    Michael Ezra

    August 14, 2010 at 12:31 am

  27. The problem with people like Michael, they refuse to deal with the issues one raises, preferring to howl insults in the best cold war warrior tradition, in the hope the mud will stick. As to his rather silly claim that military strategist always know best, perhaps instead of spending his time on the WWW trawling for Trots, real and imagined, he should pick up the odd history book. The Iraq occupation alone should tell any rational person, as far as military skill and expertise are concerned, the senior ranks of the US military and their British counterparts, were found to be wanting. Not least in their ability to say no to senior politicians with blood in their eyes. One of, if not the most important roles in a democracy, of a military chief of staff.

    I clearly pointed out to Michael the US military has been involved in three successful major occupations, this information did not fall out of the sky or from my own imagination, but is on the public record and is taught at the elite US military colleges.

    There is a ratio of solders per population laid down as a benchmark for occupying armies which was totally ignored when it came to occupying Iraq. It seems the plans for the occupation of Iraq were drawn up on the back of GW Bush’s cigaret pack; and were based on the nonsensical notion the Iraqis would welcome the US army with open arms. This amounted to wilful neglect, as by the time of the Iraq war/occupation, ‘almost’ every Iraqi male under 50 had served in the military, making the whole nation ripe for insurrection once central power evaporated; and so it proved.

    If we look closer to home, at the height of the Provo insurrection; under “Operation Banner” the British military had 21,000 plus soldiers in the north, and police, civil and army intel, and local militia’s like UDR, even by 1992 they had 17,750 on the street plus police, etc. Yet, they were unable to defeat militarily a small organisation like Óglaigh na hÉireann, the best they achieved was to contain it in a war of attrition until fatigue and war weariness set in within Republican ranks and their core support base, and the UK came up with an alternative political based strategy.

    Now if you compare the populations of the six counties, 1,685,000 in 2010 (you will need to google what it was throughout the years of ‘banner’ 1969-2004) and Iraq, 30,711,152 in 2008, you get an idea of just what a hopeless task Bush set the US military when he told them to occupy Iraq. That the senior ranks of the US/UK officer corp refused to talk the truth to power on this, is an indictment of those institution, which has still not been corrected

    Incidentally back in 2003, on the night the vote for war was being taken in parliament, my MP, a friend rang me and all the aforementioned was discussed, plus much else, he was clearly in a state of despair, and eventually ended the call by saying he felt he had no choice but to vote for war, because the leader of his party and PM of his nation had told him Saddam had WMD etc which threatened the nation. He came to bitterly regret his decision and has since retired a half broken man.

    Myself, whilst the aforementioned played a role in me opposing the war, my main reason was after hearing the weapons inspectors like millions of others, I never thought for a second Saddam had WMD’s which threatened the UK or Cyprus and without a UN vote I new the war was not only illegal, but plain wrong.

    In this, unlike Michael, my views coincided with millions of my fellow commuters on the clapham omnibus, looking back I much prefer their company to his, as he is still unable to admit he made a dreadful mistake which cost him nothing, but hundreds of thousands of Iraqis their lives and livelihoods.

    For me, as PM, Tony Blair’s greatest crime was to send young men and women to war on a wicked lie, something it seems Michael believes is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Is it any wonder, on being interviewed, British squadies say they are not fighting to defend the nation, but are fighting for each other. Unlike Michael, they seem to have a more realistic idea about the dreadful predicament they have been placed in.

    Apologies for going into some detail here, but given Michael’s boastful attempt to use lies and ridicule as a weapon, I felt I had no choice but to set out my stall on this. His aim is not to debate openly in the hope we all might lean something. His purpose is simply to smear and hector in the hope of leaving some sort on internet footprint, however distorted; and of course proclaiming what a bright fellow he is, for me the quote of his I repost below sums him up.

    “I declare myself the winner.”

    Mick Hall

    August 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  28. It is certainly true that there were those that thought that the Iraqis would welcome the Americans with open arms. One prominent Iraqi dissident, Kanan Makiya, who Christopher Hitchens writes about in his memoirs, famously told President Bush that the Iraqis would welcome the US soldiers with “sweets and flowers.”

    But of course, as well as knowing a lot better than the military leaders in the UK and USA about war requirements, Mick Hall also knew more than Makiya. But Hall’s military and intelligence expertise goes even further. He now makes the claim that he “never thought for a second Saddam had WMD’s.” This is despite the fact that the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2002 which was made of fifteen different United States intelligence gathering agencies, stated with “High Confidence,” that:

    Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding, its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.

    We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs.

    Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles.

    Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons-grad fissile material.

    We can then consider the intelligence agencies around the world that agreed with this assessment:


    The French intelligence agency believing that Iraq had WMDs is particularly important as the French government opposed the war in Iraq.

    And here is what Hans Blix said in November 2002 (emphasis added):

    The discovery of a number of 122 mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions.

    The investigation of these rockets is still proceeding. Iraq states that they were overlooked from 1991 from a batch of some 2,000 that were stored there during the Gulf War. This could be the case. They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.

    I could go on with this but there is no need because Mick Hall and his “fellow commuters on the clapham [sic] omnibus” knew more than all these intelligence agencies and other experts – or at least, so he claims.

    And so the fairy story with Mick Hall continues that if only Tony Blair had listened to him and the Clapham omnibus travellers and ignored what his own intelligence agency and other major intelligence agencies around the world were saying, all would have been well. Perhaps next time there is a major global conflict, Mick Hall would prefer for the Prime Minister to ignore his cabinet, ignore his military chiefs, and ignore what MI6 are saying but get down to Clapham, jump on the bus and follow the opinion of Mrs Jones who boards the bus most days at around 4.00pm on the way to the bingo hall.

    Michael Ezra

    August 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm

  29. “Perhaps next time there is a major global conflict, Mick Hall would prefer for the Prime Minister to ignore his cabinet, ignore his military chiefs, and ignore what MI6 are saying.”


    You cannot be serious with the above, far from consulting his cabinet and accepting the so called experts advice, Blair ignored all advice which contradicted GW Bush’s take. As far as the security services were concerned, from what has entered the public arena so far, instead of asking them for detailed advice, Blair instead sent them away and told them only to return with a dossier on Iraq which confirmed his own, or rather George W. Bush’s wretched prejudices; and he sent his bagman Campbell with them to help them draft it.

    Blair displayed a similar contempt towards sections of the military, especially in the lead in to the war, the senior officer who was tasked with thinking strategically about any future occupation, was sidelined and apparently was only allowed in to see Blair on one occasion.

    As to WMD’s, OK, as you have such contempt for those of us who travel on the Clapham omnibus, perhaps you prefer the line of the UK military, so lets turn to General Mike Jackson who wrote in his autobiography

    “We all knew that it was impossible for Iraq to threaten the UK mainland,”

    Or maybe Manningham-Buller, the former head of Mi5 who told the Chilcot inquiry what she thought about the crass stupidity of the invasion and occupation of Iraq,

    “Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people – not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam.’

    Apparently the former security service chief also said, “The toppling of Saddam Hussein had allowed Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to move in.”

    “Arguably, we gave Osama Bin Laden his Iraqi jihad,”

    “What Iraq did was produce a fresh impetus to people prepared to engage in terrorism.”

    (In 2005, two years after Britain invaded Iraq, and four years after Afghanistan was invaded, 52 commuters were murdered in the July 7 terror attacks in London.

    The four suicide bombers who carried out the atrocity claimed they were taking part in jihad – holy war – against the UK because of its involvement in the conflicts.

    Two weeks later, an identical plot to blow up four Tube trains failed when the devices did not detonate.)

    Blaming the Iraq conflict for the attacks, Baroness Manningham-Buller said the war featured in

    “the video wills that we retrieved on various occasions after various plots where terrorists who had expected to be dead explained why they had done what they did.”

    Still, the above will mean nothing to Michael, as he still supports this illegal war; and the massive loss of human life which flowed directly from it is nothing more than collateral damage which could not be avoided, and to calm his conscience he spends his time trawling the internet attacking those of us who did what little we could to oppose it. How pathetic is that?

    That’s it for me as far as this debate is concerned, as I have no wish to fall into the same trap as Michael and start repeating myself.

    Michael, have a nice life and do try and move beyond the cold war mentality of the last century.

    Mick Hall

    August 14, 2010 at 8:55 pm

  30. Michael –

    Lots of people, I’ve no doubt, sincerely believed Iraq had Ws of M D. Nor was this an evidently ludicrous position. I don’t feel, however, that the U.S./U.K. governments were quite so innocently wrong. Their case was embellished; rendered far more urgent than intelligence advice would grant. If they’d been so confident I’m not sure they’d have had to use such rank disingenuousness.


    August 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm

  31. Mick Hall and bensix,

    Thank you for your responses. You are both not taking into consideration the fact that even the French intelligence services believed Iraq to WMDs. Now, given that the French government was opposed to the war, this seems to create a gaping hole in your theory.

    I can add that it was not just George Bush as a view that Iraq had WMDs trailed back the Clinton administration. Here is Bill Clinton in 1998:

    If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.

    In the Congressional Record of November 8, 2005, a number of other quotes from the Clinton era administration and also from other leading Democrats from 2002 were noted:

    Clinton’s National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, said of Hussein:

    He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he had ten times since 1993.

    Even after he left office, Al Gore stated:

    we know that[Hussein] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout the country.

    Madeline Albright said:

    The risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.


    There is unmistakeable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years… We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.



    When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein [it is] because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and dangerous threat to our security.


    In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members… It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.

    Senator CARL LEVIN, Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, September 2002:

    We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.

    There are a number of further examples.

    Incidentally, despite the fact that weapons of mass destruction have not been located in Iraq, it does not man to say that there were not any or that they are still not there. Looking for WMDs in Iraq, especially if Saddam tried to hide them and on purpose not keep documentary evidence of the hidden stockpile, is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The US forces were expending a lot of resources trying to locate these weapons and it was felt that the resources could be better used dealing with the opposition insurgency and terrorist forces. Consequently, they stopped looking for WMDS. But as I have said, stopping looking for something is not the same as saying that there are not any. They could well still exist.

    Mick has quoted the former head of MI5 to suggest that the Iraq War has radicalised a number of people and contributed the making the 7/7 bombers in London more radical. What he does not mention is what the costs are of not acting. What if Saddam did have WMDs and used them against Iran? Given that Iran seems to be determined to obtain its own nuclear capability, its neighbour who it had a long war with would not have been easy about this development and may have acted themselves.

    Let us consider some of the terrorist actions in recent times for which there has been no reprisal:

    1. Between 1970 and 1975 there a number of American diplomats murdered in Sudan and others kidnapped by a faction of the PLO. – There were no military reprisals by the USA.

    2. In Israel, many American citizens were killed by the PLO. There were no military reprisals by the USA.

    3. In 1979 – 52 American hostages were seized by the Iranians at the American Embassy. They were held hostage for over a year during which time there were no military reprisals by the USA. (Incidentally, they were released within hours of Ronald Reagan being inaugurated in January 1981. It is thought by many that they were released because the Iranians thought that unlike Carter, Reagan would act.)

    4. In April 1983, Hezbollah in Lebanon used a suicide bomber at the American Embassy in Lebanon. This caused 63 deaths and a further 120 people were wounded. There were no military reprisals by the USA.

    5. In October 1983 a further Hezbollah suicide bomber detonated his bomb at the American barracks in Beirut airport. 241 US Marines were killed and another 81 were wounded. There were no military reprisals by the USA.

    6. In December 1983, the American Embassy in Kuwait was bombed. There was no military reprisal by the USA.

    7. A number of American hostages had been kidnapped in Beirut, including William Buckley who was murdered. There was no military reprisals by the USA. In fact, the opposite, in a strange deal, the Americans ended up selling arms to the Iranians to get its hostages back.

    8. In December 1984, a Kuwaiti airline was hijacked by the Iranians and 2 American passengers were murdered. There was no military reprisal by the USA.

    9. In June 1985, American airline TWA flight 847 was hijacked by Hezbollah and an American Naval Officer was shot and his body simply thrown on the tarmac. There was no military reprisal from the USA.

    10. In October 1985, the PLO hijacked an Italian cruise ship: the Achille Lauro. An old American, in his wheelchair was thrown overboard. The only US military reprisal was US Naval Fighters were sent to intercept and force down the plane that the hijackers attempted to escape in.

    11. During the presidency of George Bush (the elder), Americans were targeted Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon by Islamic terrorist organisations. There was no American military response to any of these.

    12. In February 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed and as a result 6 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured. Bill Clinton, the then President did not act against Al Qaeda, then based in Sudan.

    13. In April 1993, there was an attempt at assassination on former President Bush (the senior)by Iraqi agents. The only American military response was a few cruise missiles sent into Iraq that landed on empty buildings.

    14. In March 1995, two American diplomats in Pakistan were murdered and a third was injured by a gunman attacking their vehicle. There was no American military response.

    15. In November 1995, five Americans were killed by a car bomb in Saudi Arabia. There was no American military response.

    16. In June 1996, The Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia was attacked by a truck bomb. 19 American airmen were killed and a further 240 Americans wounded. There was no American military response.

    17. In June 1998, grenades were targeted at the US Embassy in Beirut; fortunately this attack was not successful. There was no American military response.

    18. On August 7, 1998, the American Embassies in both Kenya and Tanzania were attacked by car bombs. 240 people were killed. The operation was by Al Qaeda. In response, the US did launch some missiles directed at an Al Qaeda training camp – but bin Laden was not hurt.

    19. In October 2000, Al Queda murdered 17 American sailors and wounded a further 39 when they attacked the USS Cole in Yemen.

    An argument can be made that what led to the 9/11 attacks in America was that action had not been taken earlier. So in contrast to the comments from Manningham-Buller it could be that the lack of action by the U.S. led to 9/11.

    Of course, the Stop the War Coalition were in uproar about a possible attack on Afghanistan by the USA within weeks of the 9/11 bombing. As I have said earlier, and repeated, for some on the left, it does not matter what happens in the world or what terror is inflicted on the United States, there are those who will simply never justify a military response by the USA. This is the shame of the left.

    Michael Ezra

    August 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm

  32. Whether or not there was cause to believe in weapons of mass destruction, Michael, doesn’t change the fact that their case was substantially embellished. However sincerely they believed that Saddam posed a threat, they weren’t so confident as to express it honestly.


    August 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm

  33. In response, the US did launch some missiles directed at an Al Qaeda training camp – but bin Laden was not hurt.

    Of course, the U.S. did loose off a fusillade against the Al-Shifa medical plant. That may not be relevant to 9/11 but, then, I’m bewildered as to how many of your examples do. Awful as they are, a lot of them aren’t even vaguely related.


    August 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm

  34. I seem to remember a couple of million people on the street thinking that the invasion of Iraq would lead to horror and chaos. Unfortunately the government and people like Michael Ezra thought they knew better. Secondly I would like to ask Michael Ezra whether he supported the Vietnamese overthrow of Pol Pot. Or whether in fact, no matter what the extent of genocide he would never ever support an opponent of the US in putting an end to it.


    August 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm

  35. In relation to bensix,

    It might well be the case that the dossier on WMDs was “sexed up.” But I supported the Iraq War irrelevant of whether or not there were or were not WMDs. I supported it as a matter of humanitarian liberal intervention and because I oppose fascistic regimes. Indeed, my own view is much in line with that expressed by Paul Berman in his book, Terror and Liberalism.

    Incidentally, there is a further reason that I supported the war in Iraq, it is a personal reason and not my key reason, but I should admit to being of Iraqi descent myself. Indeed, I am now entitled to live in Iraq, to an Iraqi passport and to vote in Iraqi elections. I even qualify for eligibility to vote in Iraqi elections by postal vote. Now, I am a British citizen and proud to be one and as such I have no desire to go and live in Baghdad, the birthplace of my father, but also the city that he had to flee from due to the persecution received. But noting that it gives me an immense amount of personal satisfaction that since 2003 there have been elections in Iraq. I am aware of a number of other people of Iraqi origin living in the UK who, like me, are delighted that the American and British government overthrew that wicked and murderous dictator Saddam Hussein. Perhaps one day, and hopefully not to soon, Iraq will be safe enough for me to feel comfortable taking a holiday there and drinking mint tea in a cafe in Baghdad. Now it is a least a prospect, with Saddam in power there was no chance.

    The point I was making with my previous examples of terror was that terrorists can note that the US did not react. If there is no reaction then terrorists can become more and more active without fear of reprisal. After 9/11, President Bush decided he had enough and reacted.

    In relation to johng,

    Given the population of the country, the amount that demonstrated against the war was tiny. It is true that the would have been many more people opposed to the war who stayed at home, but you fail to take into consideration the millions of people who supported the government’s position.

    Moreover, it seems that there has been no subsequent demonstration even approaching the size of the one on February 15, 2003.

    The biggest referendum of public opinion where people had a right to vote against Bush or Blair, they did not do so. In the November 2004 Presidential election, George Bush won and in the 2005 general election in the UK, Tony Blair’s Labour party won. It was hardly a case of a mass revolt against the government.

    While johng is looking at at the amount of people who went out on the streets to campaign against the war, he is forgetting a key fact, the millions and millions of people who support the government and do not need to demonstrate in favour of the government. We are simply not the sort of country (like Iran) where the population are instructed to demonstrate in support of the government.

    johng also asks about Vietnamese overthrow of Pol Pot and despite his implication that I would not support the overthrow, I certainly did support it. That does not mean to say that I viewed the incoming Vietnamese Quisling government as legitimate, but I would have supported just about anybody overthrowing one of the most genocidal regimes in the 20th century.

    Now, as johng is a self declared Trotskyist, and as Andrew Coates has informed me that he is not one, I wonder if johng will answer the question that I have repeatedly posed in this thread:

    In his memoirs that Andrew Coates has reviewed, Christopher Hitchens, when commenting on Edward Said. stated the following:

    if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.

    I am wondering if Hitchens’ remark on this point could also be applied to johng? Specifically, I am interested to know is has there been, since the Russian Revolution, any act of intervention by the United States that johng supported? I am also interested to know, if there was ever a circumstance where there was a brutal dictator massacring his own population or a neighbouring population, if johng would support a US military intervention?

    Michael Ezra

    August 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm

  36. Thank you for your responses. You are both not taking into consideration the fact that even the French intelligence services believed Iraq to WMDs.

    So what. Israel has WMD’s and is guilty of all sorts of human rights abuses and aggressive wars. Also, what gives a real rogue state–the USA–the moral authority to invade any other country, after having used the CIA and open military aggression dozens of times around the planet. It is like having asked Al Capone to clean up crime in Chicago.


    August 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm

  37. “Given the population of the country, the amount that demonstrated against the war was tiny”

    Given that this was the largest demonstration in Britain’s entire history this is a pleasantly potty argument. And aside from the comic desperation of this argument at the time (I certainly remember it) it also has faintly sinister implications. Presumably unless the majority of the population takes to the streets all at once there is no reason for any government to listen to their concerns (of course if such an occassion was ever to arise it would probably mean that all existing institutional arrangements would be about to be sprung anyway). If this view had prevailed throughout Britain’s history its doubtful we would inhabit any kind of democracy at all.

    I’m afraid I’m not satisfied with your fudging on the Cambodian genocide. Do you or do you not recognize the legitimacy of the Vietnamese government bringing to an end the Cambodian genocide? Or are you, like many who post on Harry’s Place a defender of the Khmer Rouge if they are opponents of the enemies of the US? Lets have a little moral clarity here please.


    August 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

  38. louisproyect has clearly failed to comprehend why I made a comment about French intelligence believing Iraq to have WMDs. The reason for that comment was that given France was opposed to the war in Iraq, the implication could not be made against the French intelligence services that they had “sexed up” a report for their own government.

    louisproyect is clearly another one of those who seemed to be opposed to anything that the USA or the State of Israel does. The mere fact of the State of Israel existing probably causes him palpitations. The fact that the State of Israel is a staunch and reliable ally of America probably makes it worse.

    The USA, as far as louisproyect is concerned is “a real rogue state.” I guess fake rogue states, possibly idyllic paradises, include North Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and what was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

    I wonder if louisproyect sits at home and burns flags of the USA, the UK, and Israel. For him, this is the true axis of evil.

    Michael Ezra

    August 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm

  39. A classic Harry’s Place non-rejoinder. Its amazing how self proclaimed defenders of enlightenment, human rights and all good things, make them all sound so deeply unattractive. This is perhaps not very surprising given that this seemed to be American and British foreign policy.


    August 16, 2010 at 4:44 pm

  40. It can be noted that there has not been a single person on this thread answer my simple question as to whether there has ever been, since the Russian revolution, any act of US military intervention that they have supported or if there is any possibly way that they might support US military intervention in the future to stop, for example, a genocidal dictator in a third world country, from committing murder. (On the assumption that the USA remains a capitalist state). Come on johng, you can do it! Answer the questions!

    I appreciate that in so far as the demonstrations against the war, that there were many people who stayed at home who also opposed the war. What johnhg has failed to take into consideration was that in 2005 there was a general election and the population re-elected Tony Blair’s Labour Party.

    Incidentally, I also remember the February 2003 demonstration against the war, this was during the heyday of johng’s own tiny political party, the Socialist Workers Party getting in bed with Islamist organisations.

    I have not fudged on Cambodia at all. I have made it clear, I would have supported virtually anyone overthrowing Pol Pot’s genocidal regime. This includes that I supported the overthrow of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese. This answer might not fit in with the answer that johng thought I might give, but that is my answer – which I shall repeat again – yes, I supported the overthrow of Pol Pot by the Vietnamese.

    Now will johng answer the questions that I have asked him in my contribution to this thread at 3.50pm today and have repeated in this comment?

    Michael Ezra

    August 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  41. So you are presumably prepared to condemn thatcher and Reagan for getting into bed with the Khmer Rouge subsequent to the Khmer Rouges overthrow?


    August 16, 2010 at 5:35 pm

  42. I wonder if louisproyect sits at home and burns flags of the USA, the UK, and Israel.

    You forgot to tell me that if I hate America so much why don’t I go live somewhere else. Can’t the rightwing come up with more intelligent spokesmen?


    August 16, 2010 at 5:49 pm

  43. It can be noted that there has not been a single person on this thread answer my simple question as to whether there has ever been, since the Russian revolution…

    Why since the Russian revolution? US military interventions before and after have had a colonialist and imperialist purpose, except for the internal intervention against the slavocracy of course.


    August 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm

  44. johng,

    Can all you do is ask questions and never answer them?

    Reagan and Thatcher did not get into bed with the Khmer Rouge, this is a myth. What they did was support the CGDK, a coalition that comprised of groups including the Khmer Rouge for the UN seat. Most importantly, this coalition included Sihanouk’s Funcinpec party. It can be noted that this support was for a UN seat which could not be left vacant.

    In relation to the specific accusation that Reagan supported the Khmer Rouge, I draw to your attention a Briefing Memorandum prepared by Paul Wolfowitz for a high level meeting between the US Secretary of State and the Chinese foreign minister, Wu Xueqian due to be held on February 3, 1983. This Briefing Memorandum is now declassified and available via the DDRS database. It stated categorically:

    — We remain strongly opposed to any settlement that would install government not freely chosen by all Khmer. We recognize that crucial element of international support for ASEAN position and for coalition is the belief that Khmer Rouge will not be returned in any free election.

    — (If asked) We will not deal directly with the Khmer Rouge or provide them assistance of any kind. US strongly opposes the return to power of Khmer Rouge.

    I will repeat that last bit and emphasise it as you seem to be over reliant on those such as Pilger who notoriously get their facts wrong:

    We will not deal directly with the Khmer Rouge or provide them assistance of any kind. US strongly opposes the return to power of Khmer Rouge.

    Now will you answer the questions that I have posed to you earlier?

    Michael Ezra

    August 16, 2010 at 6:22 pm

  45. louisproyect accuses me of being “rightwing.” I guess it is all relative. Compared to Kim Jong-il or Fidel Castro, I suppose I am to the right. I guess louis proyect has never supported any act of US foreign intervention and nor would he support the US military intervening to stop a genocidal dictator overseas massacring his whole population. Is that right louisproyect?

    Michael Ezra

    August 16, 2010 at 6:32 pm

  46. What they did was support the CGDK, a coalition that comprised of groups including the Khmer Rouge for the UN seat.

    Of course. This coalition was at war with the government of Cambodia that had gotten rid of the Khmer Rouge. By aiding this coalition, it undermined democracy and human rights.

    NY Times July 3, 1990
    More Than One Way to Aid Khmer Rouge

    To the Editor:

    Representative Stephen J. Solarz (letter, June 12) takes issue with Anthony Lewis’s assertion that Mr. Solarz supports a United States policy toward Cambodia that ”benefits the murderous Khmer Rouge.” Though I have no doubt that Representative Solarz does not want to see a return of the Khmer Rouge (he has spoken forcefully and eloquently on this in the last decade), the policies he advocates toward Cambodia have the effect of strengthening the Khmer Rouge.

    Since at least 1983, Mr. Solarz has strongly supported sending American military assistance to the Khmer Rouge’s non-Communist allies. Although his efforts have not been successful, overt nonlethal aid has been authorized since 1985, and considerably more covert assistance has probably reached the resistance groups. Even if Mr. Solarz is correct that no American aid intended for these forces has reached the Khmer Rouge (and there have been persistent reports to the contrary), such aid indirectly helps the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge’s non-Communist allies use American assistance to combat the government in Phnom Penh. As far as they succeed in weakening the Phnom Penh Government, the Khmer Rouge – the strongest of the resistance factions – benefits.

    Mr. Solarz has also favored diplomatic support to the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, which represents Cambodia at the United Nations, though it controls very little territory. In fact, Khmer Rouge officials represent Cambodia at the United Nations.

    These actions have the effect of undermining the Hun Sen Government in Phnom Penh. Although that government has its shortcomings, it is infinitely preferable to the Khmer Rouge regime that it replaced in 1979 and is strongly opposed to the return of the murderers. Weakening it – by supplying groups that are engaged in combat against it or by denying it diplomatic status – benefits the Khmer Rouge.

    Professor of History, U. of Texas
    El Paso, June 20, 1990


    August 16, 2010 at 6:50 pm

  47. Until Micheal Ezra clarifies the question of his support for a coalition intended to undermine the none Khmer administration in Cambodia it is impossible to take seriously his ‘support’ for the liberation of the Cambodian people from the clutches of the Khmer Rouge. Or whether his opposition to the Khmer Rouge is sincere.


    August 16, 2010 at 8:04 pm

  48. This is becoming farcical: johng simply refuses to answer any question and even when I have made clear that I supported the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge, continues to bombard with questions!

    My position on this is as follows:


    Bold and capitals. Is that now clear?

    One wonders why johng does not think I am sincere!

    After the Khmer Rouge were defeated, there were two choices of who to support for the UN Seat

    1. The CGDK – the coalition that included the Khmer Rouge
    2. The PRK – A Quisling government that included many ex members of the Khmer Rouge.

    It is hardly a wonderful choice, but a choice had to be made because the UN seat could not be left vacant. The Chinese were pushing for the CGDK and the US and the UK went along with it. It seems johng just likes the fact that the US had to make a choice between two bad options. Whichever one the US picked, johng could be critical.

    At least johng seems to have stopped making his earlier claim that Reagan was “getting into bed” with the Khmer Rouge.

    Louis Proyect has dug up a letter published in 1990 by the New York Times about Stephen J. Solarz, the then Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs. Even in this letter, Professor Clymer admits that Solarz “does not want to see a return of the Khmer Rouge. Indeed, Clymer admits that Solarz “has spoken forcefully and eloquently on this” during the 1980s.

    In fact, as Solarz had stated in a letter that the very same New York Times published on June 12, 1990:

    There is no question that the Khmer Rouge present a danger to the people of Cambodia. Preventing Pol Pot from returning to power should be the top priority of our policy. yet the best way of dealing with the reality of the Khmer Rouge is to get a comprehensive settlement that would end the fighting, restore Cambodia’s national independence and permit an election free of Khmer Rouge intimidation. That is the type of settlement that the United States is attempting to secure.

    This seems to me reasonable – and certainly better than supporting the Qusisling PRK, who would not have let Cambodia be nationally independent or had a free election.

    Now, will johng answer the questions that I have posed earlier or will go for more “whataboutery”?

    Michael Ezra

    August 17, 2010 at 12:22 am

  49. “if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action”

    This remark, that is obviously held by this particular Hitchens’ fan, to be a deep witty insight, is in reality is just a meaningless & vacuous accusation, intended to slur anybody who opposes or dares to criticise anything the US does, in exactly the same way that defenders of Israel use the accusation of “anti-Semitism” to slur anybody who dares to criticise anything that Israel does. Yes just like there are some irrational people who are indeed anti-Semitic, there must also be some other irrational people who detest all that the US represents, but to cynically use it to both tar critics and/or to avoid addressing points of issues, is as low as you can expect from people who are ready to cast such reckless generalised, and always unsubstantial, slanders.

    Yet, not only does this transparent, cheap & vulgar ploy vault completely over Mr Ezra’s head, he actually tries to use it as a measure to cast some sort of perverse moral judgement on people (!).

    Just like he keeps using the words “military and intelligence experts” with a presumable straight face, we must take it as sincere his belief that the 1991 attack on Iraq was to restore “freedom” to that well known bastion of democratic freedom that is Kuwait; more like those singing about w@nkers & tankers were right on the money.

    As to his favourite “counterfactual” regarding Saddam imagined continued reign, he do well to reflect that despite the lurid accounts of “mass killing”, “shredding machines”, “ rape rooms,” death by torture”, “slaughtering the children of political enemies”, the documented reality as reported by various Human Rights Organisations show that in the latter years, Saddam worst excesses were long over, and the murders that did take place, figure in the dozens yearly not the acclaimed thousands, and were of mostly political opponents, typically accused of being traitors/foreign agents. A blood soaked record indeed, but not one that singles it out as the worst compared with some of the other repressive regimes

    Amusing that I was drawn to this page by Michael Ezra’s call for support from his fellow HP posters;



    August 17, 2010 at 12:29 am

  50. Ah. Michael Ezra still defends the Khmer Rouge with weasel words. Is there any intervention of the US that you would condemn Mr Ezra? As I have seen you supporting the illegal bombing of Cambodia, and now, the US supporting the Khmer Rouge because they didn’t like it up ’em in Vietnam. Lets have just one intervention by the US that you wholeheartedly condemn (don’t try Vietnam: I’ve seen you defending war crimes in Vietnam on the thread on the Cambodian genocide: tasteful I thought).


    August 17, 2010 at 5:17 am

  51. johng is standing on the thinnest ice with his weasel references to Cambodia. In fact johng isnt standing on ice he is drowning in his own BS.

    johng clearly knows nothing of what transpired in Cambodia between 1970 and 1992.

    Its not for Michael Ezra or Western governments to distance themselves from support to the Khmer Rouge but for the Socialist Vietnamese and their one eyed Marxist backers like johng or Noam Chomsky or John Pilger who to this day try and hide/assuage their own blatant guilt for blindly supporting the genocidal Pol Pot regime.

    Throughout the 60s the Khmer Rouge were a politically inconsequential Marxist grouping of intellectuals. What marginal influence they had was a result of Sihanouk’s patronage.

    It was only with the invasion of Cambodian territory by the North Vietnamese Army and the the Viet Cong from 1970 which pushed Cambodia into full Civil War and the funding,training, and arming of the Khmer Rouge by the Communist Vietnamese and Maoist Chinese that they gained a position of prominence. That and the credibility that Sihanouk lent them by joining them from exile after the Coup against him in 1970.

    In 1970 the Khmer Rouge had less than 3,000 supporters/fighters in all of Cambodia. By 1973 after receiving massive support from the North Vietnamses and the Chinese they had a trained army of 30,000+ fighters.

    In the intervening 3 years it was the that did all the fighting for the Khmer Rouge in their Civil War against the US backed Khmer Republic.

    The Khmer Rouge were the rabid dog trained and raised by the Vietnamese who in time turned on their Vietnamese/Chinese sponsors.

    These are the facts and all the obfuscation by johng and Marxist propagandists like Chomsky about the Western opposition to a UN seat for the corrupt Quisling government of Heng Samrin/Hun Sen doesn’t change the extent to which the Vietnamese were complicit in the events that led to the Khmer Rouge coming into power and the Maoist Chinese for tolerating a genocide in Cambodia.

    Rostam Farrokhzadeh

    August 17, 2010 at 11:03 am

    • The Marxists never defended the Khmer Rouge.

      I defy you Rostam, to find a single word from the TMR, or indeed the SWP, in support of them.

      Andrew Coates

      August 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

  52. Mac claims that the following accusation by Hitchens of Chomsky and Said is both “meaningless & vacuous.”

    if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.

    There is nothing meaningless about it. And moreover, Mac, like others on this thread who I have repeatedly asked if the accusation could also apply to them, has not answered if it could apply to him. Instead he brings up a classic straw-man argument, “defenders of Israel use the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ to slur anybody who dares to criticise anything that Israel does.” Mac does not give any examples of this from any credible pro-Israel organisation, he just invents the charge. It is certainly true that many Zionists are concerned about antisemitism and recognise it when they see it. Consider this website from Iran. In my opinion, it is antisemitic, but Mac may feel that it is only criticising Israel. But then again, Mac thinks that Saddam Hussein was all warm and cuddly as in his later years because even though he had a “blood soaked” record, he was only killing “dozens” a year.

    johng clearly has a problem with reading comprehension. It does not matter how many times I state that I oppose the Khmer Rouge, what genocidal lunatics these Marxists were or how many articles I write critical of the Khmer Rouge and those that gave them support, he claims, and possibly expects people to believe him, that “Michael Ezra still defends the Khmer Rouge.” This type of action by johng would have made Lavrentiy Beria proud.

    johng then asks me for US foreign interventions where I am critical. I could answer this, but before I do, I would like johng to answer the questions that I have repeatedly asked of him and he has so far refused to answer. I shall repeat them:

    In his memoirs that Andrew Coates has reviewed, Christopher Hitchens, when commenting on Edward Said and Noam Chomsky accused them of believing the following:

    if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.

    I am wondering if Hitchens’ remark on this point could also be applied to johng? Specifically, I am interested to know is has there been, since the Russian Revolution, any act of intervention by the United States that johng supported? I am also interested to know, if there was ever a circumstance where there was a brutal dictator massacring his own population or a neighbouring population, if johng would support a US military intervention?

    I think it is perfectly reasonable for me to expect johng to answer these simple questions before I answer his questions on my own views on US interventions. I have asked him a number of times.

    Michael Ezra

    August 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm

  53. Andrew Coates claims that “Marxists never defended the Khmer Rouge.” Contrary to this bizarre statement, the Khmer Rouge were Marxist! The Khmer Rouge was also known as the Communist Party of Kampuchea!

    And Marxists did provide the Khmer Rouge support. I suggest Andrew looks up the attendees of the Kampuchea Conference held in Stockholm on November 17-18, 1979 as well as those that signed the “Paris Appeal” supporting “an international conference in solidarity with the Kampuchean people’s struggle.” He may also wish to look up News From Kapuchea, published in Australia by the “Committee of Patriotic Kampucheans” from April 1977. This excludes the output of Malcolm Caldwell, a Marxist at SOAS, who I have written about previously.

    Michael Ezra

    August 17, 2010 at 12:21 pm

  54. I forgot to add Rostam, ‘transpired’ does not mean ‘happened’.

    Look it up im a Bleeding Dico.

    I realise English is not your habitual langauage but if youse gonna vex us lot should have got your word right.

    PS the part participle of the verb get, is got. It goes: get got, got).

    Andrew Coates

    August 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm

  55. Malcolm Caldwell was killed by them.

    And your point is?

    Andrew Coates

    August 17, 2010 at 12:34 pm

  56. My point is that Marxists did defend the Khmer Rouge.

    Whether Socialist Worker ever published anything in support of the Khmer Rouge is something I have not checked, but I may well do so. I suspect that they published nothing critical of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1978 when the Khmer Rouge was carrying out its genocidal policies and the newspaper possibly even published articles denying the truth of reports that said that the Khmer Rouge were committing genocide. This is exactly what the Marxist Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) did in their newspaper. I copy below an extract of something that I have obtained from the vaults and not yet extracted for Harry’s Place:

    Lie campaign against Cambodia stepped up
    By a special correspondent

    The News Line, January 25, 1977, p.12.

    ….No story is too absurd to claim [John] Barron’s attention. He claims to have met one man who passed 5,000 corpses on the way to the border. No details are given how these corpses were counted…

    The campaign to discredit the revolutionary government in Cambodia has been rumbling ever since the American puppet Lon Nol and his US advisors were forced to flee Phnom Penh in April 1975.

    The defeat drew howls of anguish from the capitalist media. Having sown physical devastation and suffering on a scale unparalleled in history the CIA and its apologists set about concocting the foulest lies they could dream up about the Khmer Rouge government….

    And so that article continues.

    Michael Ezra

    August 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    • If the best you can find is that scum from the WRP said this kind of thing……

      Michael your whole effort seems to be that anti-Stalinist Marxists, such as Johng and myself, not to mention Lois, were to blame for Stalinism.

      Et Rostam, je m’en balance de ce que tu dise.

      Andrew Coates

      August 18, 2010 at 10:15 am

  57. Michael Ezra makes the mistake of putting in time and effort here “debating”.

    There is no debate going on here just a few reaffirming self satisfied priggish knobs personified by the boorish Coatesy.

    Well Coastesy e koss kesh less see how well you can speak Farsi koondeh.

    Rostam Farrokhzadeh

    August 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

  58. Well Coastesy e koss kesh less see how well you can speak Farsi koondeh.

    Looks like the Iranian royalists have shown up here. Look what the dog dragged in.


    August 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm

  59. Why are you calling Iranians Dogs?! Your racist veil are slipping.

    Rostam Farrokhzadeh

    August 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm

  60. You misunderstood. Michael Ezra is the dog. You are what was dragged in.


    August 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

  61. My point is that Marxists did defend the Khmer Rouge.

    So big deal. The USA defended Pinochet, Somoza, Trujillo, Duvalier, Suharto, Mobutu, Roberto D’Aubisson, Rios Montt, both Vorster and Botha, Franco, Salazar, and countless other murderers.


    August 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm

  62. Why are you calling Iraqis Dogs?! Your racist hijabs are slipping.

    Rostam Farrokhzadeh

    August 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm

  63. … and countless other murderers

    pity they didn’t support murders who could have stopped the Communist Party of Kampuchea from carrying out their Marxist auto-genocide in Cambodia and Maoists from carrying out their extermination campaigns in China? How many millions died in the Anti-Rightist Campaigns, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution?!

    10 million? 20 million? 30 million?

    How many have already been exterminated in North Korea?

    No one post on this blog cares.

    Rostam Farrokhzadeh

    August 17, 2010 at 2:59 pm

  64. I am not calling all Iraqis dogs, only Michael Ezra (and Kanan Makiya as well, of course.)

    And how many Africans died being transported to the New World? And how many indigenous peoples were exterminated by the white settlers? One might understand Ezra and Farrokhzadeh’s flag-waving for the USA if they were unaware of this history. But since they are aware, their craven support for American imperialism is all the more shameless. It is like advocating that Mussolini invade Ethiopia because its peoples were being oppressed by Haile Selassie.


    August 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm

  65. It is like advocating that Mussolini invade Ethiopia because its peoples were being oppressed by Haile Selassie.

    Let all bow before your wisdom louisproyect so Saddam Hussien was Haile Selassie all along?

    And what of Sar Saloth – I guess you will in time reveal that he was ToTo from the Wizard of Oz.

    You are such a fcukwit louis.

    And not much of a wit at that.

    Rostam Farrokhzadeh

    August 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm

  66. Let all bow before your wisdom louisproyect so Saddam Hussien was Haile Selassie all along?

    No, rather George W. Bush was Benito Mussolini.


    August 17, 2010 at 7:36 pm

  67. ” And how many Africans died being transported to the New World? And how many indigenous peoples were exterminated by the white settlers? ”

    In 60 generations of Arabization, how many Africans died being transported into the Oriental slave trade territories (incl. Iraq), 17 million? How many indigenous peoples were exterminated by the Arab settlers who arabized Africa, Middle East and re-arabized the European colonies with their fake Arab League related independence?
    How many descendants of slaves were killed and tortured by Hussein’s Arab socialist Baath Party government that continued this legacy of ethnic and religious discrimination? How many of these were Bedoons, de-nationalized citizens, killed and displaced by the Arab socialists?

    Walter Hilliger

    August 18, 2010 at 1:12 am

  68. Whats odd is the new tendency of disappointed liberal interventionists to go into deep nostalgia for cold war rhetoric about the entire left (on HP of course this has now extended to liberals themselves in the kind of auto-cannibalism normally seen in trite representations of the French revolution). Surely their fire would be better aimed at those who have so badly disappointed them. Otherwise it just looks like they are angry because events proved the left right and them wrong. A kind of pro-longed and somewhat demented hissy fit. That way lies tea-parties.


    August 18, 2010 at 11:36 am

  69. Andrew,

    The problem for me here is that Marxists from different groups, all hate each other. Consequently, when I used the WRP as an example then you, as a Marxist, can refer to them as “that scum” as they are Marxists with a different view of Marxism to yourself, even though they, like you, would consider themselves anti-Stalinist Marxists. Similarly, when I picked an academic Marxist, Malcolm Caldwell, you seemed to want to dismiss him on the grounds that he was murdered by the Khmer Rouge. The fact that the Khmer Rouge murdered many of its own members is not something that stopped you making such a claim. Even more bizarre was your claim that “Marxists never defended the Khmer Rouge.” By making this claim, you simply ignore the fact that the Khmer Rouge were Marxist!

    If you believe that anti-Stalin Marxists, and you have specifically mentioned the SWP, were so against the Khmer Rouge, then presumably you can source an article or two from Socialist Worker during the period 1975-1977 where the SWP were denouncing the Khmer Rouge for the genocide that they were committing. I suspect that you will not locate one. I believe johng, who has contributed to this thread, is a member of the SWP and no doubt he could make a phone call or two and check this point.

    My effort is due to the fact that I support liberal democracies and I oppose totalitarianism of all stripes. Leninists, Stalinist or otherwise, subscribe to the idea of the vanguard party and are not democratic. The idea of democratic centralism is a farce and does not wash with me. Leon Trotsky was totalitarian in nature and so are Trotskyist parties such as the SWP. Hannah Arendt, in the book that made her internationally famous, The Origins of Totalitarianism, explained very eloquently why totalitarian governments end up killing many in their own population. When members of the Militant Tendency (do you refer to Militant as “that scum” as well?) used to sing, “Hang the Tories from the lampposts, when the Red Revolution comes,” they were not joking. It is such a murderous political outlook that I am thoroughly opposed to.

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 11:47 am

  70. louisproyect,

    Just dogs? Why not “running dogs of imperialism”?

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

  71. johng comments:

    “events proved the left right and them wrong.”

    One wonders what events? Would that be the millions murdered by Stalin, the even more millions murdered by Mao, or those murdered by other Communist dictators?

    Contrary to the comment from johng, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR did not really do much to prove the left right.

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

  72. No what proved the left right was the disaster and chaos created by the war over the last ten years. Which is why those like yourself who, instead of reflecting on your own mistaken position on that question, have raced so far to the right that its not really possible to have a serious discussion with you (rehearsing old cold war myths like a born again non-smoker or something).

    Origins of Totalitarianism happens to be one of my favorite books by the way. It was not however a great favorite with more conventional analysis of Totalitarianism. This was because Arendt a) treated the Nazi’s as a paradigm case and whilst exploring analogies with Stalinism maintained various distinctions between the two phenomenon and b) differentiated sharply between the writings of Marx and the phenomenon of totalitarianism in toto (without for that reason becoming a Marxist). Its one reason why the books more subtle arguments are normally presented as incoherent. I’ve never had a chance to really study the book (as opposed to read it for enjoyment and fascinating insights) but I’ve long suspected that the alleged incoherence was really alleged because she didn’t have the ‘right’ kind of coherence. I would of course never claim that I shared much with Arendt politically. But it is a fascinating book.

    Many of my comrades disagree, but then, contrary to your own stereotypes, this doesn’t seem to matter much, and I have yet to be liquidated.


    August 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

  73. Socialist Worker published an article on March 22, 2003 stating that if the war occurred that “defeat, for the US and British forces” was the preferable outcome. Given that Saddam Hussein was fascistic in nature, I am not sure what kind of “left” johng thinks he is on and what kind of “right” he thinks I am on if I was the one opposing Saddam Hussein winning and he was the one supporting him.

    I have just published a post on Harry’s Place about Seph Brown, who has been an aide to Ed Miliband. Ina discussion with Nick Cohen, Brown would not criticise Hamas despite the fact that Cohen highlighted to him the fact of Hamas’s antisemitism, sexism, homophobia and support for the murder of “apostates.”

    Hamas is of course part of the international Muslim Brotherhood and it is pretty much accepted that the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) is also part of the same Muslim Brotherhood. (Even if this can not be proved, no one has spotted an iota of difference between the views of the Muslim Brotherhood and the views of the MAB.

    It was MAB that the Socialist Worker got into bed with and organised anti-war demonstrations with. What kind of “left” partners with racist, sexist homophobes? To use the term that Christopher Hitchens, whose memoirs this blog post is ostensibly about, coined, the SWP have aligned themselves with Islamofascists.

    When johng accuses me of me of moving to the right, he should look at his own party. It is aligned with one of the most fascistic organisations in the world today. He should be ashamed.

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

  74. Socialist Worker published an article on March 22, 2003 stating that if the war occurred that “defeat, for the US and British forces” was the preferable outcome. Given that Saddam Hussein was fascistic in nature, I am not sure what kind of “left” johng thinks he is on and what kind of “right” he thinks I am on if I was the one opposing Saddam Hussein winning and he was the one supporting him.

    I have just published a post on Harry’s Place about Seph Brown, who has been an aide to Ed Miliband. Ina discussion with Nick Cohen, Brown would not criticise Hamas despite the fact that Cohen highlighted to him the fact of Hamas’s antisemitism, sexism, homophobia and support for the murder of “apostates.”

    Hamas is of course part of the international Muslim Brotherhood and it is pretty much accepted that the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) is also part of the same Muslim Brotherhood. (Even if this can not be proved, no one has spotted an iota of difference between the views of the Muslim Brotherhood and the views of the MAB.

    It was MAB that the Socialist Worker got into bed with and organised anti-war demonstrations with. What kind of “left” partners with racist, sexist homophobes? To use the term that Christopher Hitchens, whose memoirs this blog post is ostensibly about, coined, the SWP have aligned themselves with Islamofascists.

    When johng accuses me of me of moving to the right, he should look at his own party. It is aligned with one of the most fascistic organisations in the world today. He should be ashamed.

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm

  75. Sorry but all this is simply confirmation of what I said. It is simply impossible to have sensible discussions with people so full of bitter hatred for the left. One of the things thats interesting is this attempt to argue that the left is really right wing (and presumably the right are really left wing). Its in a constant kind of tension with the view that it is ‘the left’ which has failed (after all if the left is really right wing then it is not the left that has failed at all). This argument is simply designed to prevent discussion. All those who opposed the war are enemies, fascists or dupes of fascists etc. Its about as far away from the atmosphere of Arendt’s book as it is possible to imagine. Did you really read it Michael? Perhaps you should read it again. Its your methods of arguments which much more recall the degrading of politics she saw as the backdrop to the rise of totalitarianism then anything associated with the left today.


    August 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm

  76. johng,

    You never answer the point put to you. Do you care to explain how you can claim to be on “the left” and at the same to openly align yourself with Islamofascists?

    It is a simple question but somehow I suspect that you will avoid answering it. This is to be expected from you as you avoided answering my earlier questions including the one as to whether you could conceivably support US intervention even against a genocidal dictator who was massacring his own population.

    I have indeed read The Origins of Totalitarianism and I have also read much more on Arendt and by Arendt than that book.

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 3:35 pm

  77. […] author, Carl, also has a piece on Christopher Hitchens and prayer and Andrew Coates has a long and very good review of Christopher Hitchens’ Hitch 22. This provokes quite a long comment thread, involving our comrades Mick Hall and Mike Ezra, […]

  78. Its rather hard to align with ‘islamofascists’ (I’m unaware of such entities). Of course the REAL reason that I can’t answer you is because I am intimidated by your staggering erudition. You’ve read more then one book by Hannah Arendt?

    Must be an hintellectual of some sort.

    (do you honestly think anyone on the left takes what you say seriously?).


    August 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  79. In 60 generations of Arabization, how many Africans died being transported into the Oriental slave trade territories (incl. Iraq), 17 million?

    Actually, the local slave trade in Africa was totally different than chattel slavery. A slave could become a powerful figure. Even in the Ottoman Empire, the enslaved Janissaries commanded armies. This bullshit about Arabs, btw, is a favorite talking point of the Rush Limbaughs of the world, another piece of filth dragged in by the Harry’s Place dog.


    August 18, 2010 at 4:14 pm

  80. As I thought, johng would not answer the question. Let me pose it a different way, I suspect that he will still not answer it, but one can live in hope.


    Do you think it is reasonable for a left wing party to align itself with the Muslim Association of Britain?

    This is an organisation that would like to see Shari’a (Muslim law) as the law in the UK. If they had their way, homosexuals would be thrown off roof tops, apostates would be murdered, “woman would only hold the kind of posts that would preserve their virtue,” non-Muslims would have to pay a special tax to the Muslim rulers and the educational focus in schools, (at least for younger children) would be on learning the Koran.

    (More information on the Muslim Association of Britain, the Muslim Brotherhood, their ideology and background etc can be seen in following recently published book:
    Barry Rubin (Ed), The Muslim Brotherhood:The Organisation and Policies of a Global Islamist Movement, [Palgrave Macmillan, 2010]).

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm

  81. Well thats one of the odd things about HPers. Racist junk like that fills the comments boxes to overload and they rarely say a thing about it. They’re too busy with their imaginary villains and can’t see the real thing right in front of them.


    August 18, 2010 at 4:30 pm

  82. As I said, johng would not answer the question. The reason I knew he would not answer it, is that he has no good answer for it. He simply cannot justify the alignment between the SWP and MAB and rather than admit this, he just does not answer. How utterly predictable. johng should be ashamed of himself.

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm

  83. Do you think it is reasonable for a left wing party to align itself with the Muslim Association of Britain?

    Well, people like Hitchens allied themselves with Paul Wolfowitz who is a war criminal, a liar, and sucks on his comb (see Michael Moore’s “Farenheit 9/11”).


    August 18, 2010 at 6:26 pm

  84. More information on the Muslim Association of Britain, the Muslim Brotherhood, their ideology and background etc can be seen in following recently published book:
    Barry Rubin (Ed), The Muslim Brotherhood:The Organisation and Policies of a Global Islamist Movement, [Palgrave Macmillan, 2010]).

    I would also recommend Robert Dreyfuss’s “Devil’s Game” that details how Britain supported the Muslim Brotherhood for decades.


    Today it’s convenient to speak about a Clash of Civilizations. But in Devil’s Game I show that in the decades before 9/11, hard-core activists and organizations among Muslim fundamentalists on the far right were often viewed as allies for two reasons, because they were seen a fierce anti-communists and because the opposed secular nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iran’s Mohammed Mossadegh.

    In the 1950s, the United States had an opportunity to side with the nationalists, and indeed many U.S. policymakers did suggest exactly that, as my book explains. But in the end, nationalists in the Third World were seen as wild cards who couldn’t be counted on to join the global alliance against the USSR. Instead, by the end of the 1950s, rather than allying itself with the secular forces of progress in the Middle East and the Arab world, the United States found itself in league with Saudi Arabia’s Islamist legions. Choosing Saudi Arabia over Nasser’s Egypt was probably the single biggest mistake the United States has ever made in the Middle East.

    A second big mistake that emerges in Devil’s Game occurred in the 1970s, when, at the height of the Cold War and the struggle for control of the Middle East, the United States either supported or acquiesced in the rapid growth of Islamic right in countries from Egypt to Afghanistan. In Egypt, Anwar Sadat brought the Muslim Brotherhood back to Egypt. In Syria, the United States, Israel, and Jordan supported the Muslim Brotherhood in a civil war against Syria. And, as described in a groundbreaking chapter in Devil’s Game, Israel quietly backed Ahmed Yassin and the Muslim Brotherhood in the West Bank and Gaza, leading to the establishment of Hamas.


    August 18, 2010 at 8:05 pm

  85. Is Louis arguing that it’s okay for leftists to ally with religious fundamentalists because imperialist yankees allied with them first? Curious logic.

    Kellie Strøm

    August 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm

  86. Or is it that leftists who ally with religious fundamentalists are the true heirs of yankee imperialists?

    Kellie Strøm

    August 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm

  87. @LP, I have to confess that I’m taking indecent amusement at your mockery of the “Decent Left” !

    @ME, I lay money on the fact that you are too far gone to even realise, nevermind regret, that your desperate call for aid at HP, has comically backfired considering the “calibre” of those who have responded so far, (generously assuming that they not just your alter-egos that is).


    August 18, 2010 at 8:48 pm

  88. @louisproyect,

    Following your extract from marketing material for Dreyuss’s book, if Muslim fundamentalists are on the “far right” and are also “fierce anti-communists,” why is the SWP aligning itself with them?


    There was no “desperate call for aid at HP.” What I did make people at HP aware of this thread, one which I believe to be interesting. Had I wanted “aid,” I would have up put my post up on HP many days earlier than I did. To be honest, I am not used to threads lasting so long. Typically on HP, most threads are finished within a day or two of going up, sometimes even quicker. I waited around six days from my first contribution to this thread before I posted the thread on HP. It was certainly not done to get supporters, more because I am hoping that some of them took the trouble to read this thread.

    From my point of view, I am discussing many of the subjects that I am interested in on this thread and I thank Andrew Coates for the opportunity this thread has given me to do so.

    Michael Ezra

    August 18, 2010 at 10:34 pm

  89. Look Michael I’m deeply uninterested in those who sponsor contemporary contemporary versions of the protocols of the elder of Zion, even if I’m charitable enough to realize that they’re unaware they’re doing so. Anyone who believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is a global conspiracy with a single organizing center is doing precisely that. The MB is a loose collection of affiliated bodies which have very different national histories depending on which part of the world they happen to be located in. So in places like Pakistan affiliated bodies come out of the sponsorship of the state and their role reflects that (General Zia is an important figure here). In places like Eygpt they are a pretty craven conservative organization which actually preached passivity in the face of the US invasion of Iraq. Interestingly this led to splits in the organization. In places like Israel, an affiliated organization became a focal point of armed resistance to a military occupation. Large numbers of these people would have difficulty sitting in the same room together much less orchestrating a monolithic strategy for global domination. Now I’m quite happy to have occasionally intemperate rows with comrades like our kind host Andrew Coates about the precise tactics that ought to have been pursued by the anti-war movement. There is however no reason for me to debate with someone who justifies collaboration with Khmer Rouge and just about every crime ever committed by the west in the name of defending civilization against a largely imaginary foe. Your mad. And the last few weeks have revealed the full fruit of that madness. Go away and think about how your going to put together an apology to Lee Jasper and at the same time keep the far right on board in order to ensure your blogs continued existence. Byeeee.


    August 18, 2010 at 10:38 pm

  90. “Actually, the local slave trade in Africa was totally different than chattel slavery. A slave could become a powerful figure.”

    Of course, a black slave who served the Arabization of Africa could become a powerful figure by enslaving other blacks who rejected Islamization.
    Anyway, the leftists didn’t get the Slave Emancipation Act done, the act was possible thanks to Moses Montefiore’s fund that received a 20 million pounds loan granted by Baron Nathan de Rothschild.

    Remember that the landless left-wing always supported the invasion of private property led by authoritarian homogenizing socialist criminals (Hitler, Mussolini, Vichy, Nasser etc.) confronted by the wealthy landowners who resisted the invasion of our lands.

    Walter Hilliger

    August 18, 2010 at 11:15 pm

  91. Yet again, johng refuses to answer why his party, the Socialist Workers Party, aligned itself with the Islamist organisation the Muslim Association of Britain.

    However, he goes further. He implies that those around the Muslim Brotherhood are idiots. He argues that he believes that they do not even know what they are doing when they promote ideas from The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Some might view that this assumption that the members of such an organisation, who are Muslims, do not know about the history of The Protocols and are ignorant is a racist assumption.

    Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, state in their covenant:

    The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.

    Now, this is from an old religious text, but of all the phrases from Muslim religious texts that they could choose to use, why would they chose that one? Perhaps johng thinks that those that drafted it did not know what the word “kill” meant or perhaps he will argue that that they have not translated it themselves correctly, or perhaps he will makes some perverse argument that when they say Jew, they mean Zionist.

    It is certainly true that the Muslim Brotherhood is a loose collection of organisations, but what johng has ignored is that MAB in the UK do not distance themselves from Hamas. In fact, they view themselves as the same. Mohammed Sawalha, a leading MAB activist, was a Hamas activist both before he came to England and while he was in England. Tamimi, another leader of MAB famously said when interviewed in 2004 in a programme for BBC One:

    If I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I would do it…. It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity.

    But did the SWP say that they wanted nothing to do with such a man? Of course they did not. They did the opposite and promoted him. The SWP and the Stop the War Coalition were heavily involved in promoting a rally in London where Tamini was on the stage, and George Galloway was standing next to him. Tamimi whipped up the crowd in his speech from the stage by repeating at least three times: “We are all Hamas”.

    johng refuses to provide an explanation for any of this. He claims that he will not debate with me as he argues that I justify collaboration with the Khmer Rouge! This is an astonishing claim to make as I have repeatedly said in this thread and in one case I used bold and capitals to highlight the fact that I am thoroughly opposed to the Khmer Rouge.

    But let us get back to the point. johng refuses to explain or attempt to justify the relationship between his own party and MAB. The reason for this is no doubt that he cannot do it. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 9:38 am

  92. wealthy landlords of the world unite! Apparently for Walter even land reforms are a deep communist/islamist/(banking? conspiracy? You are aware walter that all this sounds like fascism?


    August 19, 2010 at 9:38 am

    • I notice Johng that you referred to Arendt: I too have been deeply influenced by her ideas.

      To me her phrase “for love of the world” sums up what we as a left are all about.

      I was also deeply influenced by the reaction to Les maîtres penseurs by André Glucksmann.

      That was not inspired by love.

      Michael seems to me to want to fight the whole war over la nouvelle philosophie again.

      Andrew Coates

      August 19, 2010 at 9:43 am

  93. Oh michael go away. it now turns out that you want to argue that the conflict between Palestinians and israeli’s is motivated by anti-semitism. i’m just not interested in this nakedly ideological drivel Michael. It seems your unhealthy obsession with muslims and islam stems from your reading of the israel/palestine conflict, which seems to be a deeply bigoted and demented one. I’m really not interested.


    August 19, 2010 at 9:43 am

  94. johng now claims that I am arguing “the conflict between Palestinians and israeli’s is motivated by anti-semitism.” Of course, I have never said anything of the sort. What I am prepared to say, and what I think is unarguable, as anyone reading their Covenant should be able to agree, is that Hamas is an antisemitic organisation.

    Yet these increasingly hysterical accusations from johng are just a way for him to try and make an excuse for not answering the questions put to him about the relationship between his organisation and MAB. I simply do not think johng is capable of answering these questions.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 9:53 am

  95. Andrew,

    I do quite enjoy a debate about Arendt. I doubt this is the thread for it, but possibly a new thread? If you have not read it, I found Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s 1982 biography, Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World to be most enjoyable. Young-Bruehl does view Arendt through rose-tinted glasses but nevertheless, I learned a lot about Arendt that I did not know from that book. Perhaps, you could review it for this blog?

    If you have not read it and you like controversial subjects then I do suggest you read Arendt’s essay, Reflections on Little Rock, that discussed racial segregation and was published in the January 1959 issue of Dissent. I also suggest the various responses and letters in both that issue and subsequent issues. I actually have this full debate in various PDFs that I can email you if interested.

    There are some quite long winded explanations elsewhere, and by an exchange between Sidney Hook and Arendt published in the April 1959 issue of Dissent as to why Commentary did not publish this essay: Commentary delayed publishing it and then Arendt withdrew it, but the essay was even a bit much for Dissent. The editors published a caveat above the first page of Arendt’s article that included the words:

    We publish it not because we agree with it—quite the contrary!—but because we believe in freedom of expression even for views that seem to us entirely mistaken.

    This is all very much off topic!

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 10:48 am

    • Of course I have read it!

      I read it pre-Blog days but I would have done a review if I had got one at the time.

      I donl’t know if you’ve got the point of this Blog Michael: it is primarily about French politics plus whatever takes my fancy.

      Some of the material is in published form – after having it tested her.

      I recommend the latest issue of New Interventions for my views on Stalinism, or the letters in the ol’ (and much loved) Weekly Worker and the long article reply by comrade Peter Manson for a serious polemic on the Burqa.

      The whole purpose of Blogs is ‘attention give it to me’.

      But since you are referring to the notorious article where Arendt opposed racial desegregation moves in the US you are treading on dangerous grounds.

      And in point of fact she was wrong, completely wrong.

      Not that I am exactly au fait with American politics.

      But you have stepped into an elephant trap of your own making with this one.

      Andrew Coates

      August 19, 2010 at 10:58 am

  96. Andrew,

    I did not mention Arendt’s Little Rock essay because I agree with it either! I just like controversies and arguments. This also explains why I wrote an article about the debate on Eichmann in Jerusalem as opposed to an article on Eichmann in Jerusalem itself. It also explains why I have enjoyed contributing to this thread!

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 11:04 am

    • Tu débloques Michael.

      I hate to be rude to you but your arguments amount to the point I made earlier: you blame anti-Stalinist Marxists for Stalinism.

      Now if I could be arsed I would refer you the whole thing about Cambodia as it erupted on the French Left in the 70s.

      Some of us followed this pretty closely.

      But since you are, I say it politely. ‘linguistically challenged’, I suppose you have not read the pages of the French left journals of the time.

      Andrew Coates

      August 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

  97. The whole method which Michael pursues demonstrates the inappropriateness of his attempt to garland himself with the mantle of Arendt. Note how first of all he presents MAB as a sinister organization by virtue of its connection to the MB alleging that by virtue of that association one can read off its agenda.

    He then responds by conceding, after argument, that you cannot in fact read off the policies of any organization by virtue of it being affiliated to the MB (given the very broad affiliations and the very real differences between different national organizations).

    Not to be put off though, he then points to the ‘refusal’ of MAB to disassociate itself from Hamas (also affiliated to the MB). So if leftists could have a debate about the appropriateness of united fronts with religious associations, it turns out that the main issue for Michael is the refusal of different organizations to ‘condemn’ Hamas.

    Beneath all this of course are differences about the attitude to take to various Palestinian organizations which have emerged under Israeli military occupation, and the problem for the left caused by the fact that for a variety of reasons, the main resistance to that occupation now comes from an organisation whose politics we do not share.

    A debate about this is fine. But Michael wants to isolate and attack anyone who supports the Palestinians. He is also a supporter, presumably, of the blockade of Gaza and the refusal to recognize the electoral outcome of the last real democratic exercise in the occupied territories. This is why on his site there is a ferocious campaign demonising any and all who wish to oppose this blockade and justifying almost anything the Israeli state does to them.

    The idea that muslims in or out of MB affiliated organizations should be forced to ‘condemn’ Hamas is as ridiculous (and dangerous) as suggesting that Jews should be forced to condemn Israel. Reading people like Michael one can only conclude that he is employed as a recruiting officer for Islamists in the Israel-Palestine conflict.


    August 19, 2010 at 11:42 am

  98. Andrew,

    It is not true that I blame anti-Stalinist Marxists for Stalinism, but I do feel that many anti-Stalinist Marxists have excused Stalinism, especially in more recent years. I also feel, in line with the view obtained from reading Robert Service’s recent biography of Trotsky, that had Trotsky got into power as opposed to Stalin, he would have been just as totalitarian as Stalin.

    It is true that I have not read the French left journals from the 1970s, but I have read quite a bit of information about the Cambodian genocide published in the English language including
    some translated from French such as the translation of François Ponchaud’s book, Cambodge, année zero, one of the first books about the genocide that was occurring. I am also aware of the disgraceful arguments contained in Jerome and Joycelin Steinbach’s 1976, Phnom Penh Libere: Cambodge de l’Autre Sourire, a book that treated the Khmer Rouge very favourably indeed.

    Earlier on this thread, I stated that I had not checked, but I would be very surprised if in the years 1975-1977 Socialist Worker published anything critical of the Khmer Rouge and their genocidal behaviour. I gave johng an ideal opportunity to prove me wrong. No doubt it would have only taken him a phone call or two to track down someone in his party who would be aware of what they published on the subject. I note he has not done so. The disgrace is that leftists such as Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman Gareth Porter, George Hildebrand, Laura Summers, and others romanticized the Khmer Rouge.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 11:46 am

    • Well I certainly did not romanticise the Khmer Rouge

      Pre-Internet days we relied on our information on reliable international papers such as Le Monde.

      In the 1970s I have not acquired fluent French but used to read le Monde in the libraries because frankly our languages are so close that I could understand it.

      My German is just up to scanning the press, and El Pais (which I also rely on for serious news) didn’t exist at the time

      That covered the whole issue – as it eruputed.

      A few weeks ago Le Monde admitted that it should have got wind of what was happening earlier.

      Dio you seriously think that anyone would have relied on Socialist Worker’s reporst for information on this?

      Andrew Coates

      August 19, 2010 at 12:09 pm

  99. And yes the Little Rock affair is interesting. I remember having a fierce debate with a friend about whether or not Arendt could be described as a conservative. I tended to argue that she was (with a very small ‘c’) whilst my friend argued (on the basis of origins) that she was too sympathetic to Marxism for this to be true. My position was and is that there are such things as clever and insightful conservatives whose response to the crisis of liberal institutions is worth reading (interestingly in a different kind of historical context this was also Marx’s response to Balzac). This was not just based on her subsequent political evolution. But in any case whether I’m right or I am wrong (and I may well be wrong and am more then open to correction) one can safely conclude that if there are such things as clever conservatives with a small ‘c’ whose insights one can profit from, Michael is certainly not one of them.


    August 19, 2010 at 11:50 am

    • Balzac was one of the most beautiful writers you can imagine Johng:

      Read La Messe d’athée.

      A short story which rests in my mind as one of the top-ten nouvellas of all time (up there with Flaubert’s Un Coeur simple).

      It’s the story of a revolutionary atheist (fought in the 1830 Revolution) who is discovered paying the rites for a peasant Catholic who died, basically sacrificing his life in order to pay for the man’s education as a Doctor.

      The point Balzac was making was that human goodness was something more important than religion.

      Andrew Coates

      August 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

  100. Yes I have been reading some Balzac recently. My main question though is whether or not he his prepared to condemn (without equivocation) the failure of MAB to condemn (without equivocation) Hamas.

    Oh damn. This stuff is catching.


    August 19, 2010 at 12:03 pm

  101. It is nice to see this debate has dragged itself out of the gutter, leaving behind the type of petty spite which was beginning to distort it. Long may it be so.

    Mick Hall

    August 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

  102. johng evades the issue of what the MAB and the Muslim Association of Britain are about. In the first instance I suggest he reads David Rich’s chapter, “The Very Model of a British Muslim Brotherhood” in Barry Rubin’s book that I mentioned earlier. But as that is not (to my knowledge) on line, I carried out Google search for MAB Muslim Brotherhood.

    Interestingly, the first link is to an article by Sacha Ismail on the Marxist Workers’ Liberty web site:

    The MAB is a political organisation with a very specific political agenda: a reactionary one which we should be doing everything in our power to oppose.
    In MAB’s Inspire newspaper, produced for the 28 September 2002 anti-war demonstration, an article on the MAB’s “Historical Roots and Background” links it explicitly to the Islamist tradition of the Muslim Brotherhood.
    The Society of Muslim Brothers is a political current founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. Today it claims more than 70 international affiliations, with branches in Sudan (where it remains linked to the brutal military regime), Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc.
    Its aim has always been for Shari’a law, rather than any democratic consensus or accountability, to regulate society.

    I suggest the whole of Sacha’s article is read, including this sentence:

    By allying with the MAB — to the extent of allowing one of the organisation’s leaders to head a supposedly left-wing electoral list — the SWP is effectively saying that it is more interested in conservative and Islamist Muslims than left-wing and secular Muslims or ex-Muslims.

    What is Marxist about allying with reactionaries? What a Marxist body should be doing is opposing MAB not supporting it!

    It is not simply that MAB will not condemn Hamas. Much of what MAB stand for including homosexuals and apostates being put to death that should be an anathema to those that consider themselves Marxist.

    johng goes on to state: “Michael wants to isolate and attack anyone who supports the Palestinians.” This is simply ridiculous as I support the Palestinians myself. He then makes assumptions about my views on Israel. In fact, my views on Israel do not matter apart from the fact that I recognise Israel’s right to exist. The relevance of this is as follows: because johng’s party, the SWP, do not support Israel’s right to exist, it does not matter what Israel’s right to exist, whatever it does cannot be right apart from dissolving the state. Consequently, if Israel does lift the blockade on Gaza, the SWP will find something else to criticise Israel over. All of these criticisms are simply tactical positions because they want the state to disappear.

    The question I have repeatedly asked that johng has refused to answer is whether he would ever support any foreign military intervention by the USA, and that would include stopping a genocidal dictator massacring his own population. The reason he refuses to answer this question is because he would not support the US intervening to stop a genocide occurring. The same can be said if I asked johng the following question: Has Socialist Worker ever published an editorial praising the state of Israel and would it ever do so if the State of Israel did something apart from dissolve itself? The answer to that question that he must give if he is honest is “No.”

    I will not be in the slightest surprised if johng responds to this comment with further ad hominem attacks on myself. That is what he has reduced himself to. He should be ashamed.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm

  103. Ezra fails to mention that Barry Rubin is a far-right nutjob
    who claimed that the civilians murdered by the IDF on the Mavi Maramara were ‘terrorists’ who ‘On at least four occasions and perhaps six … shot at Israeli soldiers’.

    It’s clear that Ezra has no shame.


    August 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

  104. Andrew Coates states:

    Pre-Internet days we relied on our information on reliable international papers such as Le Monde.

    Le Monde is, of course, the same newspaper that was given the code name VESTNIK (“messenger”) by the KGB, and where Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin say that “two senior journalists and several contributors.. were used… to disseminate KGB disinformation.” They state specifically:

    Le Monde…[exhibited] reluctance to engage in serious, detailed criticism of Soviet abuses of human rights. Solzhenitsyn, whose Gulag Archipelago provided the best-documented evidence of these abuses, received particularly unfair treatment. In July 1975 Le Monde used a distorted account of a speech by Solzhenitsyn in the United States to smear him as a Nazi sympathiser….

    In 1976 a former member of Le Monde‘s editorial staff, Michael Legris, published detailed analysis of what he claimed was equally biased reporting in favour of the Portguese Communists, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge and the Palestinian PLO.[Emphasis in bold has been added]

    Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West (Penguin Books, 2000), pp.612-613.

    I thought Andrew Coates claimed to be an anti-Stalinist Marxist?

    Andrew Coates adds a further question:

    Dio [sic] you seriously think that anyone would have relied on Socialist Worker’s reporst[sic] for information on this?

    The reason I mentioned what Socialist Worker may or may not have published was because Andrew had put out this challenge to another contributor to this thread (as can be seen above):

    The Marxists never defended the Khmer Rouge.

    I defy you Rostam, to find a single word from the TMR, or indeed the SWP, in support of them.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm

  105. Corrigendum:

    In my previous post, It should be “Michel Legris” not “Michael Legris.” It should also sate that he “published a detailed analysis” not “published detailed analysis.”

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm

  106. resistor is another one for launching ad hominem attacks. I assume in his case because he cannot do much else. In this case his attack is on Barry Rubin whose book I have suggested. resistor criticises Rubin for comments that he made about what occurred on the Mavi Maramara. resistor offers no evidence to suggest that Rubin was wrong here. The most recent thing that I have seen on the Mavi Marama incident is this week’s Panorama documentary, Death in the Med, which as I write is still available for viewing on the BBC iPlayer. The transcript has also been made available by Just Journalism. I suggest resistor also watches this programme before he launches any more ad hominem attacks.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm

  107. So because Andrew Coates refers to Le Monde as an important source for the left in France which according to an ex-KGB agent was used to disseminate smears about Solzhenitsyn and another analyst claims that its articles were biased in favor of Portuguese Communists, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge and the PLO this makes Andrew, in some sense a Stalinist. Missing here is the fact that an anti-Stalinist like Coates was probably in any case likely to have a critique of Stalinism and discount such biases in any case. Operating here is the same attempt to construct a composite of the left much like Michael’s composite of Muslim’s. Its so wierd.


    August 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    • Johng,

      tu peux me tutoyer.

      As we are leftists.

      Michael Ezra is rapidly descending into the same kind of twilight world inhabited by Troofers.

      Pre-Internet days we relied on our information on reliable international papers such as Le Monde.

      “Le Monde is, of course, the same newspaper that was given the code name VESTNIK (“messenger”) by the KGB, and where Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin say that “two senior journalists and several contributors.. were used… to disseminate KGB disinformation.”

      Que on le dise mon pote!

      Et que Tendance Coatesy soit un conduit des Cocos!

      Andrew Coates

      August 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm

  108. I did not say that Andrew Coates was a Stalinist, what I did imply was that his source, far from being “reliable” on subjects such as the Khmer Rouge as he claimed was publishing actually publishing biased information in favour of the Khmer Rouge.

    Andrew also mentions that Le Monde have recently admitted “that it should have got wind of what was happening [in Cambodia] earlier.”

    And this is my point about the left and the Khmer Rouge. Unlike the right who were publishing what was occurring in Cambodia, the left, or parts of the left, either stayed silent about the genocide, or rubbished the claims of the genocide. This is why I openly challenge johng to provide a reference of a single article in Socialist Worker during 1975-1977 that criticised the Khmer Rouge for the genocide that they were committing. Without even checking, I very much doubt one exists.

    Against what johng has said, I have not attempted and to “construct a composite.. of Muslim’s [sic].”

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    • The left published the horrors Michael,

      How do you think I had got wind of this?

      Andrew Coates

      August 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

  109. Andrew,

    It is now 2010! I suspect by now many people have got wind of what happened between 1975 and 1979 in Cambodia.

    Parts of the left changed their tune on Cambodia in 1978 when Vietnam was at war with the country and they took the side of Vietnam. (Before johng claims to the contrary, as I stated above, I supported the Vietnamese getting rid of Pol Pot and his clique.) Consequently, there were left papers who had either been silent on the genocide or been sympathetic to the Khmer Rouge who now turned against them.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm

  110. John Pilger played an important role in bringing the horrific genocide in Cambodia into public consciousness. His expose of the collaboration of Reagen and Thatcher with the ousted remnants of the Khmer Rouge still makes Michael Ezra froth at the mouth. For the record the International Socialists were notorious on the left for talking about the problems of North Vietnamese Stalinism and its very doubtful that they would have romanticised the Khmer Rouge. Importantly I’m not seeking to pick a fight with those on the left here who always disagreed with that position just pointing out quite how ludicrous Michael Ezra’s assumptions are. We can assume that most of his other outpourings are as disconnected from reality (the IS as a tendency was actually founded on the basis of refusing to take sides in the Korean war on the basis that it was really a confrontation between Russian and US imperialism). It is not actually possible for me to ‘pick up the phone’ and check exactly what was in SW in the late 1970s (even if I was minded to which I’m not particularly) because I am not in Britain at the moment. Well you didn’t construct a very good composite because you had to admit you were wrong about the MB and it all fell apart. You then tried to construct another one on the basis of a refusal to condemn Hamas. When I pointed out that this was ludicrous as well as dangerous you just changed the subject.

    For those interested in Arendt this is an interesting little snippet from International Socialism first series on her book On Revolution. I share Sedgewick’s view of her essential conservatism as stated above:



    August 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

  111. John Pilger is exactly the kind of journalist I had in mind when I referred to those who stayed silent on the Khmer Rouge genocide but then suddenly became anti-Khmer Rouge when Vietnam were fighting them.

    johng keeps referring to the Reagan and his “collaboration” with the Khmer Rouge despite the fact that I provided (see my comment to this thread on August 16, 2010 at 6:22 pm) an extract from documentary evidence to show that Reagan wanted nothing to do with the Khmer Rouge. Pilger is simply not reliable in this area.

    johng’s excuse for not providing a reference to an article from Socialist Worker is that he is not in Britain and cannot pick up the phone. He clearly has access to the computer and surely he could send an email or two. He might pretend he cannot be bothered to do so, or does not see why he should, or provide some other lame excuse. I suspect the real reason is that he knows that my suspicion is accurate: that Socialist Worker between 1975 and 1977 never published even a single article condemning the Khmer Rouge for the genocide that they were committing.

    At no stage in this thread have I admitted that I am wrong on the Muslim Brotherhood. I have no idea why johng makes up such rubbish, especially as it is easy for anyone to check.

    I await johng to tell me if he would ever support US military intervention in the event that the US were intervening in a country to stop a genocidal dictator massacring his population.

    I am not holding my breath expecting any response. His silence on this question arguably speaks for itself.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm

  112. Walter Hilliger: Remember that the landless left-wing always supported the invasion of private property led by authoritarian homogenizing socialist criminals (Hitler, Mussolini, Vichy, Nasser etc.) confronted by the wealthy landowners who resisted the invasion of our lands.

    I wasn’t aware that Hitler and Mussolini were socialists. I guess that they now join Obama, another “socialist” so described by the tea party, or Eisenhower, so described by the John Birch Society. Interesting to see all the imbeciles that the dog dragged in–to be continued…


    August 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm

  113. Is Louis arguing that it’s okay for leftists to ally with religious fundamentalists because imperialist yankees allied with them first? Curious logic.

    My main interest is to show that the “decent left” has a double standard. The British and American governments have a long history allying with jihadists, so people like Hitchens who wrap themselves in the Stars-and-Stripes and the Union Jack are nothing but third-rate propagandists when they try to score cheap points against the left. With respect to the Muslim Brotherhood, I would certainly work in a coalition with them to defend the people of Gaza. I will allow the Hurry Up Harry’s of the world to coalesce with the war criminals of the IDF.


    August 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm

  114. I should correct myself in my previous comment. I cannot say for certain that Pilger was silent on the Khmer Rouge genocide in 1975-1977. It is possible that he did publish some articles in that period critical of the Khmer Rouge even though I am not aware of them.

    My main point stands, and that is that a number on the left were relatively silent about documenting the crimes of the Khmer Rouge until Vietnam went to war with Cambodia. Some on the left such as Chomsky and Herman did their best to try and deny what was occurring in Cambodia.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  115. Michael, it is indeed easy to check. You did admit that I was right about the MB not being a monolithic organization but then promptly introduced the question of whether or not MAB condemn Hamas, as if it was the same kind of question. You might not have the self consciousness necessary to understand how bizarre your twisting and turning looks to anyone who doesn’t share your ideology but that is of no concern to me (or indeed most other people). There is no reason to answer your wierd and imaginary hypothesis about US foreign policy being driven by a desire to rescue innocent people from massacre. If this should ever be the case I would of course re-consider. But since they do not at all apply to current interventions in Iraq or Afghanistan its unclear what point you are trying to make, other then the easy one that the only reason that anyone would oppose these wonderful operations is because of ‘anti-Americanism’. If you actually believe that its no wonder that most of your posts are so unreadable and bizarre. Interesting to see that, as with MAB, you make allegations and then go on to say that you have no idea if they are true or not (see your comical remarks about Pilger). It defines your method of ‘argument’.


    August 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  116. johng, I did admit that you were accurate that the MB were not monolithic, but I had never stated anything to the contrary myself!

    I did not then introduce a question as to whether or not MAB would condemn Hamas what I did, as anyone can check via my contribution at 9:38 am this morning, was to say that MAB do not distance themselves from Hamas and in fact view themselves as the same. I then provided example of a leading founder of MAB who was a Hamas activist both before and during his time in the UK. And that another leader, Tamimi, likes getting on stages at rallies supported by the SWP whipping up a crowd when he chants, “We are all Hamas.”

    That is not the same as not criticising Hamas, that is thoroughly supporting them!

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm

  117. I should add that I am not surprised in the slightest, as I suggested, that johng continues to refuse to answer the question as to whether he would ever support US military intervention in the event of a genocidal dictator massacring its own or another population. The best he can do is use weasel words to suggest that he would consider it at the time. Given that Trotsky or the Fourth Internationalists did not support the US or Britain intervening and going to war with Nazi Germany, one wonders what it would take for johng to support US military intervention to stop a dictator massacring his population.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 5:12 pm

  118. Sorry what is weasly about suggesting that I would support the US if it intervened to protect a helpless population against a brutal dictator? Perhaps its because the US has no record of doing such things?


    August 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

  119. johng

    So you admit that there past US intervention that you have supported?

    In the previous comment to your latest, you did not say that you “would support the US if it intervened to protect a helpless population against a brutal dictator” but what you did say is that you “would … re-consider.” Reconsidering not supporting and supporting are not the same thing, that is why I suggested you used weasel words.

    But at last we have a view, one that surprises me, but johng is prepared to admit that there are circumstances when he might support the US.

    The fact that Trotskysists dis not support the US intervening to assist the Jews in WWII and I am not aware of any that supported the US intervening to assist the Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s is a different matter entirely. At least johng says that it is possible that he would support the US. We have got somewhere.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm

  120. Well given the fact that there were something like 320 foreign interventions by the US in the post-war period, almost all of which had a grim outcome for those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of them, you’ll forgive me for being somewhat cautious.

    But I must admit I am surprised by your second paragraph as well. The notion that the US intervened in the second world war to assist the Jews facing extermination by the Nazis is entirely new to me. Have you any evidence to back up this astonishing, and it should be said, heartening point of view? I’ve read quite a lot on the reasons for US intervention and I have never once come across this claim, but it would be nice to know more.

    I’m also unaware that the US intervened in Bosnia in order to assist the Bosnian Muslims although at least in that case there was a bit of windy rhetoric about the matter. So far as I know the Nazi persecution of the Jews had nothing to do with the US intervention in the Second World War. Perhaps you could enlighten me further on the matter.


    August 19, 2010 at 6:44 pm

  121. Annie Zirin

    How the West Stood By …
    While Six Million Died

    From International Socialist Review, Issue 7, Spring 1999.

    As the Kosovo crisis unfolds, the Clinton Administration and many in the mainstream press have issued stern warnings about the need to “draw the lessons” of the Second World War. As Clinton put it in his March 25 televised address, “In both [world] wars, Europe was slow to recognize the dangers, and the United States waited even longer to enter the conflicts. Just imagine if leaders back then had acted wisely and early enough, how many lives could have been saved …” An editorial in the April 4 Washington Post expanded on the theme: “At the Holocaust museum two weeks ago, the survivors of Nazi atrocities spoke of feeling utterly invisible to the Western world. Today, pretending not to know is not even an option. If there is to be any meaning in our Holocaust memorials – then this is a fight NATO can’t afford to lose.”

    Since the Holocaust is being presented as a justification for war, it is important to explore the real historical record. It is often stated that the Western governments failed to learn about the Holocaust until it was too late, or acted “too slowly” once they knew. The appalling reality is that the Roosevelt Administration showed calculated indifference towards the Jews, thwarted rescue efforts and closed the borders to Hitler’s victims. There are indeed lessons to be learned from how the Allies handled the Nazi genocide, but they are not the ones Clinton has in mind.

    By 1942 Hitler’s hill plan to exterminate all the Jews was known throughout the world. U.S. newspapers published eyewitness reports from Warsaw, Poland that 700,000 Polish Jews had been massacred. That same year the Vichy Government in France deponed 64,000 Jews back to Germany. On August 1, 1942, Dr. Gerhart Riegner, a Jewish leader in Switzerland, received a secret communication from Germany that documented the Nazis’ barbaric “Final Solution,” including Hitler’s method – Zyklon B gas. The State Department suppressed the report for months. R. Borden Reams, the State Department Specialist on Jewish Issues, said at the time that if the reports kept getting out, “the way will then be open for further pressure from interested groups for action that might affect the war effort. [1] Six months later, the State Department went so far as to cut off all reports “of that sort” from Switzerland. [2]

    News of the Nazi atrocities sparked a tide of protest in the U.S. Tens of thousands attended rallies that called on FDR to take action. However, in late 1942, FDR released a statement that there would be no Allied reprisals for Nazi war crimes. Over the next year, FDR refused to meet with Jewish leaders and never once mentioned the Jews in his weekly press conferences. [3]

    The Assistant Secretary of State in the Roosevelt Administration was an open anti-Semite named Breckinridge Long. In his previous post as ambassador to Italy, Long had been an effusive admirer of Mussolini. In a letter to FDR in 1933, he called the fascists “the most interesting experiment in government to come above the horizon since the formulation of our constitution 150 years ago. Many men are in uniform. The Fascisti in their black shirts are apparent in every community They are dapper and well dressed and stand up straight and lend an atmosphere of individuality and importance to their surroundings.” [4] Throughout his career, Long believed that he was under persistent attack from, in his own words, “the Communists, extreme radicals, Jewish professional agitators, refugee enthusiasts, Jewish radical circles, they all hate me.” [5] And yet everything connected with the relief of Jews in Europe – from visas, to distribution of food and medicine – fell under this man’s supervision! Long helped craft one of the most deadly U.S. policies during the war – the refusal to open the border to fleeing refugees. During the three and a half years that the U.S. was at war with Germany, a mere 21,000 refugees were admitted into the country just 10 percent of the numbers that could have emigrated under the quota. [6] Refugees applying for visas were put through a maze of forms and regulations, and recalled being asked such questions as, “Are you Jewish by race and faith? Would you call yourself a socialist? Did the Social Democratic Party want to change the government?” [7]

    The sick reality was that for the Allied powers the frightening scenario was not the extermination of European Jews but the prospect of taking responsibility for thousands of Jewish refugees. Shockingly open about this, a State Department official named Robert C. Alexander criticized rescue proposals that would “take the burden and the curse off Hitler.” [8] In a similar vein, the British Foreign Office issued a memorandum stating that the real “complicating factor” in considering the rescue of refugees is that “Germany or their satellites may change over from a policy of extermination to one of extrusion [expulsion of the Jews].” [9]

    The voyage of a ship called the St. Louis became one of the most notorious symbols of Roosevelt’s criminal indifference. On May 13, 1939, the St. Louis arrived in Havana with 936 passengers fleeing Nazi oppression. The U.S.-backed Cuban government decided not to admit them and handed the matter over to the U.S. State Department. The refugees docked for weeks just a few miles from the ports of Miami, waiting to hear FDR’s ruling on their fate. FDR denied them entry and sent them back to Europe, where most of the people ended up in concentration camps. In another incident, a Romanian ship called the Sturma picked up 769 Jewish refugees from the Romanian port of Constanza. Overloaded, it began to sink near Turkey. Turkey refused to admit the refugees unless Britain issued them all certificates. Britain refused, and the Sturma sank six miles off the shores of Turkey As they sank, passengers held up a banner that read “Save us.” [10]

    The Roosevelt Administration justified its indifference towards the Jews by claiming there was nothing the U.S. could do to stop the massacres except to carry on with the war. But public outrage at the Nazi massacres produced dozens of proposals for the rescue of Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe. At every turn the U.S. or the British government blocked rescue efforts and turned away Jews to their death. In 1939, Senator Wagner proposed a bill in Congress that would admit 20,000 Jewish children into the U.S. from Germany. The children would be adopted by American families and the whole enterprise would be funded by private organizations. Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles killed the bill, defending the administration’s position that, “It would be inadvisable to raise the question of increasing quotas or radical changes in our immigration laws.” [11] As one historian explained, “Roosevelt feared the antagonism of Congress, for at that very moment he was seeking half a billion dollars from an isolationist Congress to expand the Air Corps and to construct Naval bases. The President’s priority clearly went to defense.” [12]

    Eleanor Roosevelt later reflected on the fate of the Wagner-Rogers Bill: “Franklin frequently refrained from supporting causes in which he believed, because of political realities.” [13] In May 1943, Sweden presented the Allies with a plan where it would arrange for the safe transfer of 20,000 Jewish children from Germany Sweden offered to provide housing for the children for the duration of the war. It only asked that Britain and the U.S. share the cost of food and medicine and permit supplies to go through the naval blockade. After five months of silence, the U.S. responded that they did not want to antagonize the Germans by limiting the rescue to Jewish children, arid the plans were scrapped. [14]

    The Allied Forces’ criminal indifference to the Nazi genocide was symbolized for many people by the Bermuda Conference of 1943. The British government called the conference to offset heightening public criticism that they were doing nothing to help the Jews. But Bermuda was a sham from the beginning. The conference was initially scheduled to take place in Washington, and was then moved at FDR’s request to a more remote location. No Jewish organizations were invited or represented. The State Department instructed American delegations to the conference “not to raise questions of religious faith or race; not to make a commitment regarding shipping space for refugees; not to expect naval escorts or safe-conducts for refugees; not to pledge funds; and not to expect any changes in U.S. immigration laws.” [15]

    In the opening speeches, politicians reiterated that victory in the war was the only solution and that the Jews “should not be betrayed … into a belief that aid is coming to them when, in fact, we are unable to give them immediate succor.” [16] Still, Breckinridge Long found fault with the toothless message, writing in his diary, “One danger in it all is that their activities may lend color to the charges of Hitler that we are fighting this war on account of and at the instigation and direction of our Jewish citizens.” [17]

    Coincidentally, on the first day of Bermuda, the Warsaw Ghetto erupted in fiery rebellion against the Nazis. The Polish fighters transmitted a message by radio that the media broadcast across the world: “Save Us.” But no mention was made of those Ghetto fighters at the Bermuda Conference.

    Top of the page

    The Refusal to Bomb Auschwitz

    If the Jews were beginning to believe that the U.S. did not have their interests at heart, there was no greater confirmation than the Allied Forces’ refusal to bomb the railroad tracks to Hitler’s death camps. In 1944, two Slovak Jews escaped from Auschwitz and provided the Allies with detailed information about the location and function of the gas chambers. By April of that year, the U.S. had also obtained aerial photographs of Auschwitz and Birkenau. [18] The pleas poured into the Roosevelt Administration from around the world: Bomb the gas chambers! Bomb the railroad!

    But the War Department ruled that such an action “could only be executed by diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations.” [19] Or as Colonel Thomas Davis put it more bluntly, “We are over there to win the war and not to take care of the refugee problem.” [20] Yet in June 1944, Air Force bombers actually flew over the railroad tracks in question several times on their way to bomb other targets. And on August 20, 1944, U.S. planes bombed targets less than five miles east of Auschwitz. Had they destroyed the death camp on that day, they might have saved the 150,000 Jews who would die there before the end of the war. The only bombing that ever occurred at Auschwitz was undertaken by the prisoners themselves in February 1944 when a Jewish worker in a munitions factory managed to smuggle in an explosive and blow up one of the crematoriums.

    Why didn’t the U.S. government take action? It is true that there was anti-Semitism at the highest levels of the U.S. government. FDR once spoke in Casablanca about the need to limit the number of Jewish professionals allowed to relocate to North Africa, referring to the “understandable complaints which Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany, namely that while they represent a small part of the population, they are over 50 percent of lawyers and doctors.” (In fact, Jews occupied only 2.3 percent of professional positions before the Holocaust.) [21]

    But the roots of the Allies’ indifference go much deeper. The reality is that U.S. imperialism did not have an interest in rescuing the Jews.

    If anything, Allied leaders saw the rescue plans as a hindrance to the war effort – not an aim of the war. As Breckenridge Long said to FDR after Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, “I expect I am a good deal of a cynic. Whether I am or not, I am unable to see any moral element in this whole war. To me it is not a holy war.” [22] The U.S. and Britain did not go to war to fight a “holy war” against fascism. The Second World War was a continuation of the war between the imperialist powers to redivide the spoils of the world. German expansion under Hitler threatened Britain’s control in Europe. Eventually the U.S. also saw Germany as a threat to its control on the world stage. For the U.S., the stakes of winning were about establishing itself as the dominant military and economic power on the globe.

    As the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote at the time,

    U.S. capitalism is up against the same problems that pushed Germany in 1914 on the path of war The world is divided? It must be redivided. For Germany it was a question of “organizing Europe.” The United States must “organize” the world. History is bringing humanity Face to Face with the volcanic eruption of American imperialism. [23]

    For the people in charge, this was neither a war for democracy nor a war to save the Jews. Instead of democracy; it brought the Cold War division of the world. Instead of stopping genocide, the Allies, in their indifference, became cold accomplices to the Nazi genocide. Once again we are facing the volcanic eruption of U.S. imperialism, and again its leaders are cloaking themselves in the moral authority of the Holocaust. We can’t let them get away with it.

    Top of the page


    1. David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-45 (Pantheon Books, New York, 1984), p.179.

    2. Wyman, p.179.

    3. Wyman, p.29.

    4. Arthur D. Morse, While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy (The Overlook Press, New York, 1998), p.40.

    5. Wyman, p.191.

    6. Wyman, p.xiv.

    7. Wyman, p.129.

    8. Wyman, p.99.

    9. Wyman, p.105.

    10. Morse, p.308.

    11. Morse, p.255.

    12. Morse, p.255.

    13. Morse, p.255.

    14. Morse, p.65.

    15. Morse, p.52.

    16. Morse, p.53.

    17. Morse, p.54.

    18. Wyman, p.300.

    19. Wyman, p.291.

    20. Wyman, p.293.

    21. Wyman, p.311.

    22. Morse, p.40.

    23. Chris Bambery, Was the Second World War a War for Democracy?, International Socialism Journal 67, p.51.


    August 19, 2010 at 7:08 pm

  122. The view of the Allies was that the best way to assist the Jews was to win the war and defeat Nazi Germany. Assisting the Jews was not the reason for America entering the war but some of their actions such as setting up the War Refugee Board assisted the Jews. What can be said is that if the Allies had not fought Nazi Germany and stayed at home, then for all the shouting of the Trotskyists as to the evils of Nazism, a lot more Jews would have been killed than had been.

    Regarding intervention in the Balkans, louisproyects long cut and paste above (why couldn’t he have just put a link?) the top lines quote Clinton for giving humanitarian reasons for intervening.

    I note a key source for the article that louisproyect links to is David S. Wyman’s book, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust. It is an aside that this book credits the Bergson Group, made up of right-wing revisionist Zionists (followers of Jabotinsky’s ideas) for the reason why the US created the War refugee Board in the first place. On p. 285 of the 2007 edition of that book published by the New Press, Wyman states that “the WRB … played a crucial role in saving approximately 200,000 Jews.” Those that argue that during the Holocaust the Zionists were not acting in the interests of Jews should bear that in mind.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 7:25 pm

  123. Ah. So Michael Ezra retreats from his previous statement that the US became involved in the war to assist Jews facing extermination, a claim necessarily made without any evidence at all (its simply untrue) replaces it with another claim, namely that the allies took the view that the ‘best way to help the Jews facing extermination’ was to defeat Hitler, a claim which suggests that the US was implicitly concerned to help Jews facing extermination, once again without any evidence and contradicted by much of the evidence presented in Louis’ post. He then concludes by attempting to bring in an argument about Zionism. Outside of your fan club at HP you don’t cut such an imposing figure Michael. Perhaps you should stay there.


    August 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm

  124. – You are aware walter that all this sounds like fascism?

    john, what you are saying is something else. It was always in the best interest of landlords to protect their property from invasions supported by landless leftists who wanted to grab land in the name of ethnic Nazionalsozialismus, Vichy’s national-socialisme, Nasser’s Arab socialism etc.

    – I wasn’t aware that Hitler and Mussolini were socialists. I guess that they now join Obama, another “socialist” so described by the tea party…

    Don’t put Obama in my words. You would be surprised how Mussolini’s fascism or Hitler’s Nazionalsozialismus share the same AUTHORITARIAN pattern with the actual socialist Saudization or Emiratization, based on people’s ethnicity for economic rewards.

    Walter Hilliger

    August 19, 2010 at 8:07 pm

  125. Walter Hilliger: might I ask where you get these ideas from? They are very odd indeed and it would be nice to know.


    August 19, 2010 at 8:12 pm

  126. …and can I just put Obama in your words? O-bama. O-bama-rama-bama. Obama. Obama-rama-rama. O-BAMA. Pretty soon he’s going to be taking your property and instituting SOCIALISM. Just like Nasser. O-BAMA. O-bama-rama-bama. Taking your land away. Undermining feudalism. Instituting Fascism. O-Bama. O-BAMA. O-bama-rama-rama. Oh Michael you must bring more of your readers here. They are such FUN.


    August 19, 2010 at 8:15 pm

  127. john, intelligence.

    Have you been to the Deutsche Demokratische Republik before? Have you been to Saudi or UAE?

    Saudization or Emiratization is a form of AUTHORITARIAN arab national socialism based on LOCAL citizen’s ethnicity for economic rewards (gifts of land, money for weds, jobs etc.)

    Also proposed by Hitler’s nazionalsozialismus, Mussolini’s authoritarian socialism, Nasser’s Arab socialism.

    Walter Hilliger

    August 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm

  128. Hmmmmm. Interesting. Did you know that Barack Obama’s middle name was Hussain? THINK ABOUT IT!!


    August 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

  129. I have just re-read Andrew Coates review of Hitchen’s properly again. What a shame I wasted time debating with Michael. Really interesting, balanced and perceptive.


    August 19, 2010 at 9:18 pm

  130. Superb piece of writing Andrew, and as johng says elsewhere, that’s despite past differences.
    Blogging has been your liberation methinks.
    All the best.

    Eddie Truman

    August 19, 2010 at 9:53 pm

  131. “What a shame I wasted time debating with Michael.”


    Mick Hall

    August 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm

  132. I never said that “the US became involved in the war to assist Jews facing extermination.” What I said was that Totskyists would not have supported the US becoming involved for those reasons and I made the same claim about Trotskyists would not have supported US intervention in Bosnia for humanitarian reasons.

    Incidentally, my own support for the war in Iraq, like Christopher Hitchens’, like Paul Berman’s and like Kanan Makiya’s was also for humanitarian reasons. My support for the war in Iraq did not require there to be any WMDs. Anyone who read and took on board life in Iraq as described so well by Makiya in his book, Republic of Fear would realise the extent of the terror and brutality by Saddam and his clique in that regime. For the sake of the Iraqi people, I supported military intervention to remove Saddam from power.

    I certainly did state: “The view of the Allies was that the best way to assist the Jews was to win the war and defeat Nazi Germany.” johng complains that I have presented no evidence for this. I direct him to read Anthony Eden’s speech to the House of Commons on July 5, 1944. An extract can be seen in the following reference: Martin Gilbert, Churchill and the Jews (Simon and Schuster, 2007), p.213. Eden stated when referring to what the Nazi crimes against Jews: “The principal hope of terminating this tragic state of affairs must remain the speedy victory of the Allied nations.” Regarding the situation in America, my source is the same one as the source (but a more recent edition – 2007 edition) of louisproyect’s source: Wyman’s The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945. Wyman cites (p.346.) Lucy Dawidowicz for Roosevelt’s view that “the only way to rescue the European Jews was to win the war against Hitler as fast as possible.”

    johng has a substantial problem since on the one hand he uncritically accepts the information in louisproyect’s post copying an article by Annie Zirin and on the other hand he criticises me for mentioning something to do with Zionism. (I actually mentioned something to with Zionists, but never mind). The problem is that I mentioned it because it is a major component of Wyman’s book, a key source for Zirin -(it is responsible for over 50% of the footnotes!) is that the people that did the most to highlight the plight of European Jews during the Holocaust in America was a small right-wing revisionist Zionist group, known as the Bergson group.

    As well as reading Andrew’s review, perhaps johng should also read Hitch 22. Hitchens left the International Socialists and ultimately ended up with a sensible political outlook, particularly his view on Iraq. Chance will be a fine thing that johng will see the light and do similar.

    Michael Ezra

    August 19, 2010 at 11:39 pm

  133. Michael Ezra, is it some kind of coincidence that both you and Oliver Kamm are liberal warmongers and bond peddlers?


    August 20, 2010 at 12:18 am

  134. For the sake of the Iraqi people, I supported military intervention to remove Saddam from power.



    August 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

  135. louisproyect, given I am Iraqi, I think I have more of a moral claim to say what I believe is better for them than you do.

    Regarding bonds, someone such as yourself would never have worked for an investment bank would they?

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 12:28 am

  136. I had more in common with the people slinging hash in the cafeteria than big swinging dicks like Michael Milken, you, and Kamm.


    August 20, 2010 at 12:48 am

  137. I never said that “the US became involved in the war to assist Jews facing extermination.”

    You said:

    “The fact that Trotskysists dis not support the US intervening to assist the Jews in WWII?

    Amounts to the same thing actually…


    August 20, 2010 at 12:54 am

  138. As louisproyect is no doubt aware, the term “big swinging dick” was popularised by Michael Lewis in Liar’s Poker, his classic book, about his life and other people’s lives at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s. In that book, Lewis explains how being referred to as a “big swinging dick” was one of the highest levels of praise that could be given. I am not sure that louisproyect’s use of the term was designed to be complimentary.

    louisproyect would also do well to study some logic.

    The following two statements are not the same:

    1. The US became involved in the war to assist Jews facing extermination.

    2. Trotskysists did not support the US intervening to assist the Jews in WWII.

    In the first case, it is an explicit statement for the reason why the US became involved in the war. The second statement is what the Trotskyists did not support. i.e. there was never any call from the Trotskyists for the US to get involved in the war to support the Jews. What was the case is that the Trotskyists wanted America to stay out of the war.

    As I have stated earlier in this thread, the Trotskyists thought that Great Britain and France were on a moral equivalent level to Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy:

    But isn’t the working class obliged in the present conditions to aid the democracies in their struggle against German fascism?” … We reject this policy with indignation. Naturally there exists a difference between the political regimes in bourgeois society just as there is a difference in comfort between various cars in a railway train. But when the whole train is plunging into an abyss, the distinction between decaying democracy and murderous fascism disappears in the face of the collapse of the entire capitalist system… The victory of the imperialists of Great Britain and France would be not less frightful for the ultimate fate of mankind than that of Hitler and Mussolini. Bourgeois democracy cannot be saved.

    It can be seen that Trotskyists thought Britain and France winning the war would be just as bad as Hitler and Mussolini winning.

    I wonder if today’s Trotskyists are proud of this decision by the Fourth International. I suspect they are.

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 1:08 am

  139. Louis, I suppose using Islamist involvement in the CIA coup against Mossadegh as a debating point against the ‘decent left’ would make sense if that coup were something the ‘decent left’ supported. Do you know of any ‘decents’ who say it was a good thing?

    Kellie Strøm

    August 20, 2010 at 1:32 am

  140. On the argument about US motives in WW2, and the general preference by some to argue motive rather than effect, I liked this post at Stumbling and Mumbling on Afghanistan. An excerpt:

    “What we have, then, is an old question in moral philosophy: should we judge actions by motives or by consequences? If we are to judge them by motives, it is indeed irrelevant to invoke the condition of Afghan women. If we are to judge them by consequences, it is essential to invoke it.”

    Kellie Strøm

    August 20, 2010 at 2:04 am

  141. Michael I have no problem with the idea that a small group of right wing revisionists did the most to raise the plight of the Jews with the US authorities (who largely ignored them). Why would I have a problem with this? Its one reason why the divide between the right and the left in Israeli political culture often took the shape of arguments about what different sections of the Zionist movement did or didn’t do in relationship to the Holocaust.

    My personal view of all that is that the reality was that Zionism as a political movement was largely irrelevant in the face of the Nazis. But the point is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the argument we are having. Which is what makes your argumentative style so ridiculous. It seems to largely consist in making absurd statements, then tub thumping on the basis of no evidence, and then expecting everyone to be shocked and scandalised at the very existence of a left. It just won’t work on this blog I’m afraid.

    Well Kellie, If you check the esteemed blog of Michael, Harry’s Place, you will see an attempt to defend the coup (I can’t remember when it was posted). You will also note a tendency to revise liberal assessments of US foreign policy more globally. Defences of the illegal bombing of Cambodia, etc, etc. Its why I think Andrew Coates is right when he observes that the era of the ‘decent left’ is over. They’re not left wing in any recognisable sense of the word.

    This from Michael Ezra I saw last night for the first time:

    ‘forgot to comment on the Henry Jackson Society. I have been fortunate to attend a number of their events’

    WTF? as the more vulgar amongst us are prone to exclaim every now and again. Left? no. I strongly suspect that the affiliations of others who post at HP are similarly, increasingly right wing.


    August 20, 2010 at 7:31 am

  142. The trouble with the article you quoted is that it assumes that it is possible to make judgements about benefits for women in Afghanistan without looking at anything to do with what is actually happening to them, and what the consequences of the continuing war actually are for them. This section of articles posted on Pickled politics provide interesting perspectives if you are interested in the views of those closer to the ground:



    August 20, 2010 at 7:40 am

    • Actually Johng if you want to get to the roots of Michael Ezra’s position, this is the clue (as originally indicated by Enty):

      Aufgrund teilweise verschiedener ideologischer Ausprägungen des antideutschen Spektrums kann laut Verfassungsschutzbericht 2006 nicht von „den Antideutschen“ als einem in sich geschlossenen Block gesprochen werden. Der Bericht geht davon aus, dass als Hauptbestandteil antideutschen Denkens und Minimalkonsens aller Gruppen „die bedingungslose Solidarität mit der Politik Israels und dem jüdischen Volk“ angesehen werden kann. Dies schließe die „Befürwortung aller Maßnahmen ein, die geeignet erscheinen, den Bestand des Staates Israel als einzigen Schutzraum der Holocaustüberlebenden zu sichern. Da die USA (2006) als einziger ‚ehrlicher’ Verbündeter Israels gesehen werden, wenden sich Teile der Antideutschen gegen jede Form des Antiamerikanismus“.[3]

      I suppose these people started from real anti-racist and anti the fash positions but they ended up in something really odd.

      The point is that they are breaking up.

      As is the French ‘antii-totalitarian’ Front.

      Keine Zwiefel:

      Andrew Coates

      August 20, 2010 at 9:51 am

  143. I find it amazing that johng accuses me of providing no evidence for what I say. I have used a number of references in this thread. In his contribution of August 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm he accused me of not backing up something I said, so in my retort at 11:39 pm I promptly provided two references.

    I do not think that johng is really fit to comment upon Zionism given the dirty hands of his party, via its student arm, the Socialist Workers Student Society (SWSS), were all over attempts to ban Jewish societies. (For what it is worth, it is not just David Osler who,at City of London Poly, and at the time a member of SWSS and the SWP who spoke in favour of banning a Jewish Society. I have spoken to Dave Rich of the CST about his not yet published results, and he informed me that in a number of campuses where the banning of a Jewish society was discussed, there was SWSS involvement.)

    johng also comments that what has became known as the decent left is no longer “left wing in any recognisable sense of the word.” What is on the left wing and what is on the right wing is of course relevant to where your starting base is. As I mentioned earlier in this thread in response to louisproyect, “I guess it is all relative. Compared to Kim Jong-il or Fidel Castro, I suppose I am to the right.”

    I mentioned to Andrew Coates earlier in this thread that on the Henry Jackson Society’s list of signatories to their Statement of Principles that there are some Labour Party MPs. I also mentioned that there have been Labour MPs who have hosted some of the HJS meetings that I have attended. In the real world, the Labour Party is seen on the left of the political spectrum.

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 10:19 am

  144. I find it amazing that Michael thinks these kinds of sub-macarthyite smears (they are almost all simply lies) bear any relationship to the matters under discussion. His inability to discuss normally are either a product of ignorence or on the other hand part of his campaign to ensure that there should be no dialogue with the left. His attempt to argue that the Henry Jackson society is left wing because a few pro-war Labour Party members are involved, are particularly comical. Some of us think that there was an ideological shift along with ‘In the Thick of it Comedy’ amongst Labour MPs around the time of the invasion of Iraq and after. That some people got pulled into right wing circles is therefore hardly a surprise. Notice as well his attempt to impute to me a silly reductionist position on Zionism, and when this fails, attempting to suggest I can’t comment anyway due to entirely fictitious allegations about the SWP supporting the banning of Jewish societies. There was an incident in Sunderland where SWSS members were’nt sure which way to vote when the Palestinian society put foward a motion. It was in the aftermath of the massacres of Sabra and Shatila. The SWP argued that this campaign was wrong. Thats the sum total of all this. As stated, a systematic campaign to other anyone who is involved in solidarity campaigns with Palestinians. But notice how he has succeded in changing the subject. Andrew unfortunately I do not have German.


    August 20, 2010 at 10:31 am

    • Denis MacShane is not going to thank me for this but he is a prominent Labour Party signatory to which Michael has referred to.

      Denis MacShane was dismissed from his position as Europe Minister. Some kind of polite explanation was given.

      But the real reason was that because he called opponents of the French Vote Oui on the Euro Constitional Treaty ‘les cons’ (a ‘very amusing’, er not, play on the words in French for ‘contre’ and the word ‘con’ which means well, the word begins with c in English as well.)

      The French press and the Parti Socialiste picked this up and there were serious complaints about Denis la Menace.

      He is now generally referred to in the French media (he prides himself on his heavily accented Swiss French,) as someone who says “tout et son contraire”.

      If he is of the trempe of the HJ society woe betide you.

      And I say this with some affection for Denis.

      Andrew Coates

      August 20, 2010 at 1:20 pm

  145. johng now dismisses what I have said as “lies.” Re the banning of Jewish Societies, we already have David Osler’s statement that at the City of London Poly, the local SWSS branch was totally in favour of a banning. Dave Rich has not just spoken to David Osler, he has spoken to a number of people. johng is going to have to call a lot of people liars if he wishes to completely disassociate SWSS from this campaign.

    I have not said that the Henry Jackson Society was left-wing. I do not believe it claims to be on a wing. It is cross-party. There are both left-wing and right-wing MPs and other supporters of that society.

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 10:57 am

  146. I commented on David’s argument at the time,and on the discussion that followed it. There was an incident at Sunderland and possibly a few other places because the Palestinian society were putting these motions foward, utilizing the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism. The SWP argued against this campaign, but there was some confusion on the ground. The SWP refused though to join in campaigns demanding that SU’s which passed this motion should be dissaffiliated from the SU. For much the same reason that they opposed banning Jewish societies. You can ignore the context all you like and try and use it as some sort of indication of the deep dark racism that neccessarily motivates all those who have solidarity with the Palestinian national movement, but it is frankly poppycock. I was on the SWSS student commitee at the time and I can remember personally the long arguments about why it was wrong to ban the Jewish Society. I also remember the aftermath of the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon and the consequences for Palestinian women and children, and the atmostphere this created on campuses in which many of those whose families had been murdered were based.


    August 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm

  147. I’d also suggest that if there is going to be an enquiry into the Sunderland affair it should include an enquiry into the material being put out by the UJS at the time. I well remember a poster which was headed ‘Palestine before Israel’ and was left simply blank. There is no question in my mind that this was a racist poster. However I and SWSS argued at the time that despite this racism (obviously highly offensive in the historical context) it was neccessary to remember that Jewish students in Britain could not be blamed for what the Israeli state was doing and nor could they be blamed personally for the situation that their society was dominated by political activists who would defend such things. Therefore it was wrong to call for the banning of the Jewish Societies even if, if any other society had put out material like that, they probably would have been banned. I understood the anger of many Palestinian societies about this at the time (they felt it was a double standard) but I still think it was the right decision.


    August 20, 2010 at 1:27 pm

  148. johng puts the promotion of support for banning of Jewish societies by SWP members or its student group members to “confusion on the ground.” He does not deny that SWSS supporters were involved in the banning of the Jewish society but they were only involved because they were confused. One wonders how far this confusion extended. David Osler and the City of London Poly SWSS society was one and there were others. johng admits that this was the case as there was, according to him, “confusion on the ground” about the party’s line on the matter at “a few other places.” What is the truth is that in places where there were serious attempts to ban Jewish societies members of SWSS or its predecessor organisations were inevitably involved. Sadly for johng, too many fingerprints have been left for any sane jury to accept his plea of “not guilty.”

    To provide but one example, I understand johng is associated with SOAS. If that is the case then he does not have to go far, he can look at who was behind the attempt at SOAS to ban the Jewish society there in 1977. If he does, he will see the dirty hand of the predecessor organisation to SWSS. Perhaps johng will also put that down to “confusion on the ground.”

    I am not surprised that the SWP has a lot of “confused” members. In my mind, many of them would benefit from psychiatric treatment.


    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 1:38 pm

  149. johng, is this the Harry’s Place post you mean, re. the coup against Mosaddeq? It’s not at all clear to me that it defends the coup, but as Michael wrote it, he can answer for himself.


    Thanks for the Pickled Politics link on Afghanistan, though I’d already left a number of responses to it. I find those who only listen to RAWA and ignore all other Afghan women rather unconvincing.

    Kellie Strøm

    August 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

  150. Denis MacShane certainly is a Labour MP and a signatory to the Henry Jackson Society’s Statement of Principles. I have a lot of respect for MacShane. For anyone actually interested, he wrote a very interesting foreword to Caroline Fourest’s book, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, (Encounter Books, 2008). As he is the subject of this thread, or at least h possibly should have been, Christopher Hitchens gave this book some very positive praise.

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 2:21 pm

  151. Kellie, I certainly did write that piece about Mohammad Mosaddeq. It was not written to defend the coup, but, as the title suggests, to dispel some common myths surrounding the coup. These myths come from a number of areas, from those pro Mosaddeq to those against him and pro the Shah.

    The key myth I wanted to set straight was something I have heard from a number of Iranians (and also by some Communists,even by Iranian Communists!)and that is that the reason that America became involved in carrying out the coup was to get its hands on Iranian oil. It is of course balderdash and I felt the need to correct this error.

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 2:31 pm

  152. This is really tiresome Michael. There is nothing at all strange about left wing activists in a union meeting responding to demands for solidarity from Palestinian activists. Its as it should be. However the SWP argued strongly against banning Jewish societies for the reasons I outlined. Any other statement or implication is quite simply a lie. Again it would be nice to hear what you have to say about the poster I discussed (along with similar material) and what you think should have been done about it. . Kelly I don’t think there is any argument that one should only listen to women in RAWA. There is an argument that their point of view (and that of many others) should not be ignored. That is to say if one wants one’s concern about women’s oppression to be treated as serious.


    August 20, 2010 at 3:21 pm

  153. I’ve just had the misfortune to read through Michael Ezra’s absurd article on the coup on Iran. Its a straight down the line defence of US foreign policy at the time and offers little in the way of evidence. His evidence that the US was not concerned by Oil nationalisation (given the numbers of countries in the region in which the US had oil interests this would be an obvious conclusion) is dismissed with references to Communist street thugs and a few references to the fact that Mossedeq was less then perfect as a liberal democrat. We then have the suggestion that it is absurd to link the Iranian revolution to this event as it happened so many years before. Missing here is the fact that in the intervening period there was the Shah’s autocratic rule. Which most would agree had something to do with the Iranian revolution. Why the constant need to rewrite and revise history in this way?


    August 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm

  154. Its almost Orwellian.


    August 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm

  155. Ezra is rather shameless, isn’t he? Patrick Clawson, whose book on Iran he mines for anti-Mossadegh propaganda, is a long-time neoconservative. Citing him is like someone writing an article on Hugo Chavez that relies exclusively on the likes of Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal. I guess he is not interested in being taken seriously. To be a good propagandist, you have to at least give the impression of being objective. The Atlantic Monthly stable of hack writers are pretty good at this, whatever their other faults. I guess that Mr. Ezra is too busy figuring out bond rate futures to devote more time to boning up on his propaganda skills.


    August 20, 2010 at 3:47 pm

  156. I was always baffled by who he was trying to impress. But this thread has been informative in terms of the connections with right wing think tanks. In that world I guess Ezra’s loonier distortions are the equivilant of those on the lefts known as hacks. Who generally say things not to convince who they are arguing with but to prove their loyalty to the party line. It has been illuminating.


    August 20, 2010 at 3:50 pm

  157. What is Orwellian is johng’s repeated attempts to deny what is known to be the case and that is the involvement of members of the SWP, its student wing or both, in debates about banning Jewish societies. johng may as well argue that Oceania has never been at war with Eurasia, or that 2+2=5. In the case of the banning of the Jewish societies, there is simply too much evidence for johng’s claim to hold any water. That evidence, for what it is worth, not only includes a number of testimonies and witnesses, including the one that johng is aware, that of David Osler, of SWP/its student society involvement, but also contemporaneously written and published news reports. I am aware of some of this, but as it is Dave Rich’s research and it has not yet been published, it would be wrong of me to use that information now.

    The only way johng can get out of this is if he tries weaseling his way out of it; by saying something such as that members of his organisation did not support the banning of cultural Jewish societies but might have supported the ban of any Jewish society that was Zionist. His other weasel method could be to say that members of SWSS and its predecessor organisation did not support “banning” but they did support withholding any union facilities including the ability to book rooms or any union cash. Finally, he can admit to how confused many members of his organisation were and possibly try and put some spin as to why they were confused.

    But this is all weaseling, and johng has not even attempted this method yet. Perhaps, when Dave Rich publishes his research, that will be when johng goes into weasel overdrive. In order to pre-empt this, I have just saved a screen shot of this web page as it currently stands.

    Dave Rich has already made public part of his conclusion. He makes absolutely clear that it was certainly policy of the SWP in the 1970s that “to deny Jewish societies student union funding and facilities on the grounds of their Zionism.”

    It can also be noted that Dave Rich offered to meet johng but johng did not take up the offer. Not that this overly matters, but if johng had met Dave Rich, perhaps he would not be attempting to deny what there is substantial evidence of: involvement of members of the student wing of the SWP in banning Jewish societies.

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm

  158. Ezra this is absurd. And if Dave Rich really is arguing this then he is simply discrediting himself. But in any case you are clearly concerned simply to discredit anyone who has any sympathy with the Palestinian national movement. Its interesting how any discussion with you automatically turns into a witch hunt. Its all your agenda is. Those interested in political discussion should look elsewhere.


    August 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

  159. Given that my memories of the period are long arguments which I took part in personally that the idea of banning Jewish societies was wrong, why should I ‘admit’ to something which I know to be patently untrue?


    August 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

  160. johng,

    There is evidence for what I have said. You might be surprised at the sources of some of this evidence. You might also be surprised as to who was quoted in contemporaneous news reports and where they were quoted.

    What I can say is this: the more you deny the connection between the SWP and banning of Jewish societies, particularly in the 1970s, the sillier that you will look when Dave Rich compiles the evidence and publishes his findings. I have just taken another screen shot of this page to include your latest denials and your ridiculous attempt to suggest that what this is about is discrediting “anyone who has any sympathy with the Palestinian national movement.”

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 4:56 pm

  161. The best Louis Proyect can do to try and discredit my article on myths surrounding Mohammad Mosaddeq is attempt to discredit one of my sources: Patrick Clawson. The way he does this is not to find any factual errors that Clawson has made, but simply to say that he is a “long-time neoconservative.” In Louis Proyect’s world, someone who is a neoconservative cannot possibly be a truthful historian. Madness.

    johng claims, in relation to my article on Mosaddeq, that I have revised history. He presents no reliable source to say where I have rewritten history, he just makes the claim. It is unbelievable.

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 5:17 pm

  162. johng, I’m afraid I missed the part where the Pickled Politics post argued for listening to many other voices beside RAWA. The author of the post, Earwicga, links to four items, one by Nazish Broshi which cites RAWA and only RAWA, one by Ann Jones which cites unnamed women legislators, one by Negah Rahmani which argues AGAINST listening to women from Kabul, and one by John Gorenfeld which argues against the Time journalist Aryn Baker because she’s married to an Afghan American who does business in Afghanistan!

    In the comments, Earwicga links to one more piece, by Laurie Penny in the New Statesman. In that piece, Laurie Penny’s only Afghan voice is Malalai Joya of RAWA.

    In one of my own comments there, I pointed to a piece by Lauryn Oates, written an extensive response to the Ann Jones piece cited in the post.

    An excerpt:

    “…there is little evidence (besides the melodramatic speeches at anti-war rallies in the West of Malalai Joya) that Afghan women want to see the departure of NATO forces from Afghanistan.

    Progressive female MPs like Sabrina Saqeb, Fauzia Koofi and Shinkai Karokhail are adamant that a premature withdrawal would be disastrous. So are many other outspoken activists like Wazhma Frogh. In fact, these days not a day goes by that an Afghan woman is not quoted in a western news article expressing her anxiety over a premature withdrawal from the US and/or NATO in Afghanistan.”


    Kellie Strøm

    August 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm

  163. Well I can tell you Michael that when I was an active member in SWSS we specifically argued against the idea. This is all through the 1980s and ever since. That is my experience of the question. If you have any evidence ot the contrary please let me know about it. The fact that you are taking ‘screen shots’ (for what possible purpose? yet another tiresome smear campaign of the kind that makes up the stuff of your politics?).

    Kelly I’m afraid you demonstrate that its possible for two people to read the same thing and come to directly opposite conclusions about the evidence that they contain.


    August 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm

  164. johng,

    So you now absolve yourself of what your party might have done in the 1970s? And when you say ” we specifically argued against the idea” should you not caveat that with something like, “apart from all of those SWSS members, in various campuses, who were confused and argued in favour”?

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm

  165. Well obviously Michael it stands to reason that I can absolve myself of things I had no involvement in (and I still await any evidence for what you claim about the 1970s). And no there is no caveat about members who voted the wrong way in a few union meetings. Partly because we were involved in arguing with Palestinian societies and their supporters about why it was the wrong thing to do.


    August 20, 2010 at 7:41 pm

  166. The evidence re the 1970s is with Dave Rich. As I stated, it would be unfair for me to publish his research here. But there is no question and no doubt that in the 1970s that the SWP was supporting preventing any “Zionist” society from the use of any student union facilities or money. You have the opportunity to meet Dave Rich, why don’t you arrange to do so? As he has made you aware, David Osler did so and came out alive. Perhaps, you have some documentary evidence for him that he might not have seen.

    If there is is “no caveat about members who voted the wrong way” can you please explain why, as he has admitted, (and this is just one case) that David Osler, who was a member of both SWSS and the SWP not only voted in favour of banning along with his branch, but also spoke out in favour of banning? DO you wish to put that down to the City of London Poly SWSS members being confused?

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 7:52 pm

  167. Well yes I do really. As we very publicly and openly opposed such actions at the time (as I have explained to you over and over again). I was there. I remember the arguments. As to meeting with Dave Rich, I’m sure he’d be lovely to have a drink with, but the truth is the normal procedure is to provide some evidence of an accusation before people respond to it. Over and over again on this thread alone you have repeated baseless evidence free diatribes expecting people to ring their friends, check their emails, etc, etc to refute your allegations. If anyone disagrees with any allegation you make you suggest that this is probably because they are liars (I’ve seen you do this on HP to other people as well and it reached its nadir when you effectively accused someone who was, we now know, being racially harassed of being untrustworthy and a liar when he complained about it, and complained about giving the person harassing him a platform to continue his diatribes (in this particular case it is not hyperbole to suggest that you should be ashamed of yourself).

    With me you seem to find it outrageous that I did not meet up for a drink with Dave Rich on the basis of blog exchange. As I said I have nothing against Dave Rich, but I am under no obligation to meet with people for drinks to discuss allegations which I have not been supplied with any evidence for. And this conversation has I think become like camelot. Far too silly to carry on with. Next you’ll be accusing my mother of smelling of elderberries.


    August 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

  168. The best Louis Proyect can do to try and discredit my article on myths surrounding Mohammad Mosaddeq is attempt to discredit one of my sources: Patrick Clawson.

    That’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is the incredible assertion that the CIA was not interested in controlling oil. That is almost as incredible as saying the war in Iraq was about upholding democracy rather than controlling oil.


    August 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm

  169. johng,

    Your fantasies are going so far, that you are making things up. You have accused me of accusing someone who was “being racially harassed of being untrustworthy and a liar.” Name the person, this is simply a fantasy on your part.

    I do not think it is outrageous that you did not meet Dave Rich, it is your choice. What I have said is that had you met him you would not deny what there is clear evidence for, and that is that it was SWP policy, at least in the 1970s, to support the banning (no platforming) of Jewish societies on the grounds that they were Zionist. As you did not meet him, and as you have not properly researched the subject, you are not aware of the evidence. Consequently, you are ill informed. However, because you (incorrectly) assumed you are correct, you resorted to accusing me of “sub-macarthyite smears” which you claimed were “almost all simply lies.” You kept up this façade even when I informed you that there was a substantial amount of evidence. It is only after my repeated posts, including giving you a specific example of SOAS in the 1970s that you seem to have backtracked and suggested that you can only speak for the 1980s.

    But even in this period, even if it was not SWP policy, (my understanding that they moved the policy to not being wrong per se, but of being tactically wrong), there were SWP or SWSS people on campuses, including at Sunderland Polytechnic and City Poly, to provide but two examples, who supported the banning. There were also campuses where SWSS people were speaking out in union motions in support of Sunderland Polytechnic’s decision to ban the Jewish society, a decision that they are argued was “principled.”

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 10:39 pm

  170. Louis Proyect,

    The reason why the American’s got involved in the coup against Mosaddeq was not for oil, but for fear of Iran falling to Communist influence. This was in 1953.The Presidential election in 1952 was fought with Communism being a key area for discussion, (China had fallen to Communism and the Korean War was on people’s minds.) This was what the concern was of the Americans, it was not oil, that they had access to from Saudi Arabia and from the world markets.

    One of the best articles on this subject is the following: Mark J. Gasiorowski, “The 1953 Coup D’etat in Iran,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 19, Number 3, August 1987, pp261-86.

    A copy of this article has been made available free on line. It can be seen that Gasiorowski deals specifically with this issue:

    It is often argued that the main motive behind the coup was the desire of U.S. policy makers to help U.S. oil companies gain a share in Iranian oil production.(68) On the face of it, this argument has considerable merit. The Eisenhower administration was certainly favorable to U.S. business interests, and the Dulles brothers’ law firm had often represented U.S. oil companies in legal matters. Moreover, the final agreement worked out in 1954 with the Zahedi government gave U.S. companies a 40 Iranian oil production, which had previously been controlled by the British.

    While this view cannot entirely be refuted, it seems more plausible to argue that U.S. policymakers were motivated mainly by fears of a communist takeover in Iran, and that the involvement of U.S. companies was sought mainly to prevent this from occurring. The Cold War was at its height in the early 1950s, and the Soviet Union was viewed as an expansionist power seeking world domination. Eisenhower had made the Soviet threat a key issue in the 1952 elections, accusing the Democrats of being soft on communism and of having “lost China.” Once in power, the new administration quickly sought to put its views into practice: the State Department was purged of homosexuals and suspected communists, steps were taken to strengthen the Western alliance, and initiatives were begun to bolster the Western position in Latin America, the Middle East, and East Asia. Viewed in this context, and coming as it did only two weeks after Eisenhower’s inauguration, the decision to overthrow Mosaddeq appears merely as one more step in the global effort of the Eisenhower administration to block Soviet expansionism. (69)

    Moreover, the major U.S. oil companies were not interested in Iran at this time. A glut existed in the world oil market. The U.S. majors had increased their production in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in 1951 in order to make up for the loss of Iranian production; operating in Iran would force them to cut back production in these countries which would create tensions with Saudi and Kuwaiti leaders. Furthermore, if nationalist sentiments remained high in Iran, production there would be risky. U.S. oil companies had shown no interest in Iran in 1951 and 1952. By late 1952, the Truman administration had come to believe that participation by U.S. companies in the production of Iranian oil was essential to maintain stability in Iran and keep Iran out of Soviet hands. In order to gain the participation of the major U.S. oil companies, Truman offered to scale back a large anti-trust case then being brought against them. The Eisenhower administration shared Truman’s views on the participation of U.S. companies in Iran and also agreed to scale back the anti-trust case. Thus, not only did U.S. majors not want to participate in Iran at this time, it took a major effort by U.S. policymakers to persuade them to become involved. (70)

    The Eisenhower administration therefore seems to have been motivated mainly by fears of a communist takeover in Iran rather than by a desire to promote U.S. commercial interest.[Emphasis added]

    Michael Ezra

    August 20, 2010 at 10:53 pm

  171. Johng, Louis, etc, there is plainly no good reason to engage in discussion with Michael Ezra. (A brief insult is more productive.)

    For instance:


    “So you now absolve yourself of what your party might have done in the 1970s?”

    Ezra does not understand what nonsense that is (but knows it is good coin for Harry’s Place). It’s best to leave it to Ezra to play the role of Harry’s Place ‘expert’ on ‘Communism and related matters’. It gives him something to do, and gives HP commentators the illusion of being well-informed.

    Meanwhile grown-ups will learn about the World, and perhaps discuss it, elsewhere.

    Lobby Ludd

    August 20, 2010 at 11:14 pm

  172. I know that Rich said in a single post that the SWP opposed the motions for tactical not principled reasons. That’s his belief and he’s perfectly entitled to hold it. I disagree with him about this (I’ve already described to you how I remember it, and the reason why we were opposed to a ban was clearly not simply tactical). The tactics are to do with confronting the revolting propaganda which was being put out at the time which I’ve already described, the principle was not to confuse Jewish students whatever their beliefs with those putting out that propaganda. Given political disagreements I would probably have with both Dave and yourself about the politics of the conflict in the middle east I don’t necessarily demand that Dave (or indeed you) see these matters in precisely the same way. That would be silly.

    I did not backtrack on the 1970s at all. I said that I’d await to see this evidence, and presumably, if there was anything substantial to it, it would not be necessary to meet someone privately to confirm it. Importantly Dave Rich does not claim that SWP policy in the ’70s involved banning (ie no platforming) Jewish societies in his short note on Dave’s Part. I get the distinct impression (I might be wrong on this) that Rich thought there was more to this then he eventually found, and for that reason didn’t bother pursuing the matter.

    Finally, once again, the Palestinian society at the time were arguing that the propaganda of the UJS was racist against Palestinians (and some of it at the time certainly struck me and others as racist) and were therefore demanding that action be taken against UJS backing this up with arguments derived from UN motions claiming that Zionism was a form of racism. Given the very recent horrors of the invasion of Lebanon and its aftermath its no surprise either that Palestinian societies should have wanted to do something or that many activists were unsure of how to respond to their demands.

    However, once again, it was the SWP policy to argue against the ban. The attempt to suggest that secretly the SWP was in favour of it, instigating it privately whilst publicly denying it is SIMPLY UNTRUE. I know. I was there. I was involved in the arguments about it. Contrary to your rather hysterical beliefs about far left organizations it is not at all unusual for members on the ground to be unsure of what to do in situations like that. And not at all unusual for big arguments to occur as a result, about why this was wrong. It would be very strange indeed if this was not true. That’s just the kind of thing that happens all the time whatever your paranoid fantasies about actually existing democratic centralism etc, etc.

    On the issue of calling someone untrustworthy who was making allegations about racial harrassment I do indeed have to apologise. That is what your co-posters did here:

    You seem to have been smart enough to avoid doing this to someone who might be able to defend themselves in the public sphere like Lee Jaspers. You did however play exactly this game when you offered a right of reply to Seph Brown (http://hurryupharry.org/2010/08/19/don%E2%80%99t-go-for-a-drink-with-nick-cohen/) and indirectly implied that he should not be trusted when he tried to defend himself.

    In any case given that you seem not to have persuaded your co-posters to offer a proper apology to Lee Jasper’s it seems to me that you have the choice of either disassociating yourself from Harry’s Place or allowing yourself to be associated with them. Its really up to you.


    August 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm

  173. Oh sorry your co-writers are not members of the Shiv Sena, even if many would probably be members if they happened to live in that part of the world. What your co-writers did is here:

    Click to access lee-jasper-visits-harrys-pla1.pdf


    August 20, 2010 at 11:21 pm

  174. “while this view cannot entirely be refuted, it seems more plausible to argue that U.S. policymakers were motivated mainly by fears of a communist takeover in Iran, and that the involvement of U.S. companies was sought mainly to prevent this from occurring.”

    Pretty open and shut there. what can one do but ‘laugh out loud’ as they say.

    Lobby. Of course your right.Trouble is we were trying to discuss this odd brand of politics and one of these strange people turned up in person.


    August 20, 2010 at 11:38 pm

  175. The reason why the American’s got involved in the coup against Mosaddeq was not for oil, but for fear of Iran falling to Communist influence.

    Right, that’s the reason the CIA chief (Kermit Roosevelt) became vice president of Gulf Oil in 1960. In fact, you are confusing the excuse for the real reason. You are basing your analysis on the speeches of the ruling class politicians when their real motives can only be gleaned by examining the underlying economic motives–like oil in the Middle East or copper in Chile. What do you expect a ruling class politician to say, that they make war or subvert because of the need to defend corporate interests? Except for this one memorable instance where Eisenhower refers to the “riches” of Indochina, including tungsten, for the need to make war:

    President Eisenhower’s Remarks at Governors’ Conference, August 4, 1953, Public Papers of the Presidents, 1953, p. 540:

    * * *

    “I could go on enumerating every kind of problem that comes before us daily. Let us take, though, for example, one simple problem in the foreign field. You have seen the war in Indochina described variously as an outgrowth of French colonialism and its French refusal to treat indigenous populations decently. You find it again described as a war between the communists and the other elements in southeast Asia. But you have a confused idea of where it is located–Laos, or Cambodia, or Siam, or any of the other countries that are involved. You don’t know, really, why we are so concerned with the far-off southeast corner of Asia.

    “Why is it? Now, first of all, the last great population remaining in Asia that has not become dominated by the Kremlin, of course, is the sub-continent of India, including the Pakistan government. Here are 350 million people still free. Now let us assume that we lose Indochina. If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malayan peninsula, the last little bit of the end hanging on down there, would be scarcely defensible–and tin and tungsten that we so greatly value from that area would cease coming. But all India would be outflanked. Burma would certainly, in its weakened condition, be no defense. Now, India is surrounded on that side by the Communist empire. Iran on its left is in a weakened condition. I believe I read in the paper this morning that Mossadegh’s move toward getting rid of his parliament has been supported and of course he was in that move supported by the Tudeh, which is the Communist Party of Iran. All of that weakening position around there is very ominous for the United States, because finally if we lost all that, how would the free world hold the rich empire of Indonesia? So you see, somewhere along the line, this must be blocked. It must be blocked now. That is what the French are doing.

    “So, when the United States votes $400 million to help that war, we are not voting for a giveaway program. We are voting for the cheapest way that we can to prevent the occurrence of something that would be of the most terrible significance for the United States of America–our security, our power and ability to get certain things we need from the riches of the Indonesian territory, and from southeast Asia.”


    August 21, 2010 at 12:21 am

  176. All well and good, Louis, but the main point here is that Ezra is lead-lined prick. Nothing goes in, nothing comes out.

    Lobby Ludd

    August 21, 2010 at 12:42 am

  177. Lobby, I quite agree with you. In time I will grow bored with debating this Colonel Blimp Junior. Probably sooner than later. If only he was 1/10th as bright as his hero Hitchens who at least had understood what imperialism was when he was young–understanding full well that he would come to be its mouthpiece.


    August 21, 2010 at 1:04 am

  178. Well lets debate amongst ourselves.

    That’s an interesting quote from Eisenhower. Of course US grand strategy (the dealing in ‘straight power concepts’ that Kennan predicted at the end of the second world war) combined geo-politics with the drive to capture economic resources. I quite like the formulation first outlined by David Harvey and developed by Callinicos about Marxist theories of imperialism having to deal with how that tension is articulated at any particular point in capitalism’s development.

    One difficulty with supposed refutations of imperial grand strategy on the basis that, for instance, the US was not after oil for *itself* is that it neglects the global nature of US strategy at the time. This was an argument which also came up more recently in relationship to Iraq. The US might not need the oil for *itself* but global capitalism certainly does. And the US has an interest in keeping its hands on the pump in order to preserve its own importance within global capitalism and the hierarchy of competing nation-states we call Imperialism.

    I was going to raise questions about whether the whole of that grand strategy was really to do with raw materials in Indonesia but I have to admit I’m struck dumb at present by the sheer grandeur of US ambition at the time of that pronouncement.


    August 21, 2010 at 1:22 am

  179. Initially I was concerned that the speech might have been a rather desperate attempt to get a vote passed for a military budget from rather more short sighted representatives of American capital on the hill.


    August 21, 2010 at 1:28 am

  180. johng continues on his very unwise mission to try and deny the SWPs involvement in the banning (no platforming) of Jewish Societies in UK campuses in the 1970s-1980s.

    It can be seen that johng states the following in his contribution of August 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm:

    Importantly Dave Rich does not claim that SWP policy in the ’70s involved banning (ie no platforming) Jewish societies in his short note on Dave’s Part.

    Contrary to what johng stated, this is what Dave Rich did say in his contribution to the relevant discussion on March 8th, 2010 at 08:18:

    in the 1970s the SWP did pursue a national campaign to deny Jewish societies student union funding and facilities on the grounds of their Zionism. This was a very clear and openly stated policy at the time.

    In his follow up post two minutes later that can be seen on the same thread, Dave Rich corrected himself slightly and stated:

    Maybe “pursue a national campaign”… overstates it a little. It was definitely the SWP’s policy though.

    I think Dave Rich has been very clear on this and as I am aware of some of the evidence, I can assure anyone reading this that he has not exaggerated.

    I have not said that the SWP was in favour of banning Jewish societies in the 1980s at any point in this thread. johng seems to want to attribute positions to me that I do not hold. What I have said, (see my post of August 20, 2010 at 10:19 am and more recent contributions) was:

    the dirty hands of his party, via its student arm, the Socialist Workers Student Society (SWSS), were all over attempts to ban Jewish societies. (For what it is worth, it is not just David Osler who,at City of London Poly, and at the time a member of SWSS and the SWP who spoke in favour of banning a Jewish Society. I have spoken to Dave Rich of the CST about his not yet published results, and he informed me that in a number of campuses where the banning of a Jewish society was discussed, there was SWSS involvement.)

    That does not mean to say that I have said that it was SWP policy in the 1980s. I have simply said that members of SWSS were involved in discussions on the bannings in a number of campuses, with City Poly being one of them, but that there were others. Each instance of this I guess (via reading his contribution at August 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm) johng puts down to “confusion on the ground.” I did not put a time line on my contribution but what I should have done to make myself clearer was not simply refer to SWSS, but to SWSS and its predecessor organisations. I did this in follow up posts – see for example my contribution of August 20, 2010 at 1:38 pm, where I stated

    in places where there were serious attempts to ban Jewish societies members of SWSS or its predecessor organisations were inevitably involved.

    (There should have been a comma between the words “societies” and “members” but I think that in context, my phrase was relatively clear even though I left out this punctuation mark.)

    I appreciate that johng has apologised to me for his false accusation that I had accused someone who was “being racially harassed of being untrustworthy and a liar.” However, johng now states that on this post that I “indirectly implied that he [Seph Brown] should not be trusted when he tried to defend himself.” The relevant comment that johng must be referring to is the following one that I made on the thread. I copy it below because Harry’s Place’s policy is to hide all comments from public view after a few days:

    face and others,

    How can you be so sure that Nick’s account is not accurate and Seph’s account is?

    In the above quote, it should be clear that “Nick” referred to Nick Cohen and “Seph” to “Joseph ‘Seph’ Brown.” This is not a suggestion, direct or indirect, that Seph should not be trusted. It was a direct question that I put to some commentators to the post. There was a genuine reason for this. In his post at Standpoint,Nick Cohen had stated a version of an encounter he had with Seph Brown. In his post at Harry’s Place, Brown suggests that Cohen had not “written anything vaguely close to what we had talked about.” There were two different accounts of what transpired in the discussion at the drink between Cohen and Brown. The commentators at Harry’s Place had not suggested that they were also present, so my question is reasonable: how could they possibly know which of the two accounts were accurate?

    My only other comment on that thread which johng could vaguely link is the following: “I think very highly of Nick Cohen’s journalism and it has been my pleasure to go out for a drink with him on a number of occasions. I always find that he has something interesting to say.” That is simply a true statement on my behalf and not an accusation against Seph Brown. If anything it can be considered a character reference in favour of Cohen. I do not know Brown and nor have I ever gone for a drink with him and I therefore cannot make such a statement.

    johng also mentions the business surrounding Lee Jaspers. It is true that certain blogs (notably Socialist Unity) have been attacking Harry’s Place over this matter. I am simply not in a position to comment – It was not something I was personally involved with (on the PDF that johng links to in his contribution of August 20, 2010 at 11:21 pm, there is not a single comment from me) and I have not followed all the arguments – but I believe that the decision of the editor of Harry’s Place is to not comment until after the court case with Terry Fitzgerald. Apparently, there is some legal reason for this. I am not qualified to comment upon the law in this situation either. I am just staying out of it. I would rather discuss Mosaddeq – and that brings me on to my next post….

    Michael Ezra

    August 21, 2010 at 9:19 am

    • I have a question for Michael Ezra.

      Around two years ago the BNP started standing candidates in Ipswich.

      The local ‘cadre’ of the SWP – a very fine woman organised opposition with, the local full-time Labour Party agent.

      Surprised that the local Labour people should work with the ‘trots’.

      Hey beby it doesn’t stop there.

      We leafleted the local Housing Estates. We had centre of the town stalls against Racism and against the BNP.

      Perhaps you forget but racism is a problem in this land.

      ”We’ being the left, Socialist Workers Party, Labour members, young anarchists, members of the Socialist Party (ex-Millies) trade unionists (that is the entire active members of UNITE branches), Postal Workers, Fire Brigades people, British Telecom people, Green Party members, independent socialists, and even a couple of members of the British Communist Party (CPB).

      We were there during the last election.

      Just a bunch of manipulated idiots.

      Andrew Coates

      August 21, 2010 at 9:39 am

  181. Louis Proyect extracts from a speech by Eisenhower on August 4, 1953 as support for his argument, made in a sarcastic manner, that the US got involved in the Mosaddeq coup for commercial reasons.

    The Eisenhower speech can be seen in full as it was published on page 10 of the New York Times the day after it was made. It is laughable to suggest that speech provides evidence to support an argument that the coup against Mosaddeq were for “‘riches’ of Indochina, including tungsten.” Before we even begin, Mosaddeq was in power in Indochina, he was the Prime Minister of Iran and the last time I looked at a map, Iran was not particularly close to Indochina. There is a reference to Iran and Mosaddeq in the speech and that is that his parliament was being supported by the Tudeh pary, a Communist party that aligned itself with Russia. But when one reads this speech, a wide ranging speech, the parts on foreign matters are a justification of the $400mm foreign aid programme that had recently been passed by Congress and a discussion of the consequences of Indochina falling to Communism. Eisenhower mentions that Burma would fall, India could fall, and that Iran could also fall. In many ways, this argument is what later became known as Eisenhower’s “falling domino” theory after he used that specific phrase the following year.

    However, this is ridiculous since I am not aware of any reasonable scholarly study that does not say that the coup was due to fear of Iran falling to Communism and argues that it was for commercial reasons. I have already mentioned Gasiorowski’s 1987 article. There are numerous other references that I provided on my post to Harry’s Place and none of them claim that it was for oil, in fact if anyone reads the post, particularly “Myth 2” then they will see that I provide evidence the other way: that the reason for the coup was due to fear of Communism.

    I notice that Louis Proyect tries to suggest that Pinochet’s military coup against Allende in Chile was backed by the USA. This is of course another claim for which there is no evidence .

    Michael Ezra

    August 21, 2010 at 10:23 am

  182. Andrew Coates says he has a question for me, and to be honest, I am not sure what his question is apart from whether I have forgotten that “racism is a problem in this land.” My answer is that I have not forgotten.

    I will make an observation though. It is not just “the left” that campaigns against the BNP. I am aware of numerous conservatives who also campaign against the BNP. I think There is Nothing British About the BNP did some excellent work in this area.

    Michael Ezra

    August 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

  183. Hello everyone

    I’ve just seen this thread and as my name and work features in it I thought I should clear a few things up (or try to, at least).

    I have spent several months researching the campaigns for and against the bannings of Jewish Societies on the grounds that their support for Zionism contravened the No Platform policy. The reasons why I have not yet published anything are, firstly, because the work is in part for a chapter in a book which will be out later this year or early next year; and secondly, because I have not yet completed my full research into the subject. One reason why it is not yet complete is because I have not managed to find anyone from the SWP or its predecessor, the IS (or their student wings, SWSO/SWSS and NOISS), who will agree to give me an interview about it (not for want of trying). If there is anyone reading this who was involved in these debates in NOISS or SWSO/SWSS from 1975 to 1986 then I would be very happy to meet you to talk about it. I promise to be fair and not stitch anyone up – hopefully Dave Osler will confirm that, if you ask him.

    As for the meat of the issue, in 1977 a trend of No Platforming societies which promoted Zionism (which in practical terms meant Jewish Societies) began to spread on UK campuses. At first, NOISS supported the motions. Then they introduced a nuance to their line, so that they supported cutting off student union funds and facilities to societies that supported Zionism, but not actually denying them a platform in student unions. I have plenty of IS and NOISS articles and even an NOISS booklet on the subject which states this very clearly. Also I have interviewed several people involved on both sides of these debates at the time (although as I have said, none from NOISS) who all say that NOISS/SWSS were, in the 1970s, the ones who were pushing this the most.

    By the 1980s, as johng says, the SWP/SWSS line had changed. They no longer promoted No Platforming Zionism or denying SU facilities to societies that promoted Zionism. However, they opposed any moves by NUS against those SUs who did No Platform Zionism. Clearly, as happened at City Poly, some SWSS activists in their enthusiasm decided to propose banning Zionism from their own SU. Even without this, the main SWSS line effectively obstructed efforts by the JSoc at Sunderland to be reinstated as a society, and efforts by UJS and NUS to enforce a national line that it was wrong to No Platform Jewish Societies on the grounds that they promoted Zionism. This was very clear at NUS conference in March 1985 during the debates over Sunderland (where, incidentally, I have been told by two UJS activists of antisemitic abuse they received in the SWSS fringe meeting).

    I think the 1985 SWP line was a case of wanting to have their cake and eat it. They didn’t support banning JSocs but couldn’t bring themselves to do or say anything that might be interpreted as supporting the position of UJS, even if this involved something as basic as the right of Jewish students to have a Jewish Society where they get to decide what they discuss each week in their meetings. Maybe johng thinks I have got this wrong, and as I have said, I would be only too glad to meet you and hear about the arguments that you say went on inside SWSS at the time. I’ll even pay for coffee ;-).

    Dave Rich

    August 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm

  184. Dave Rich I have no doubt this issue is of world-staggering importance to someone.

    But please remind me of whom?

    Okay, me.

    In the late 1970s the SWP tried to write the No Platform Policy (No Platform for Fascists was originally a IMG policy btw) into the Warwick Students’ Union Constitution.

    This was period of real hard-left strength in Warwick.

    I stood up (the meeting was nearly 2,000 strong) and strongly argued against this.

    The motion was defeated – and there are at least some who read this Blog who will confirm this.

    One point I made was relevant: I said the defintion of ‘fascists’ was elastic.

    Turning to the Tories in the front row I said that on some definitions that they were fascists.

    In case you think me guilty of liberalism my main argument was ‘we know who the fascists are and we will confront them anyhow’.

    Andrew Coates

    August 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm

  185. I should like to thank Dave Rich for contributing. I did feel somewhat bad discussing a subject when I was aware of the results of some unpublished research. But to reiterate what Dave has said, it was in SWSS predecessor publications that there it states quite clearly that that they were supporting not providing union funds or facilities to Jewish societies. This is why I said to johng in my post yesterday of 4:56pm:

    There is evidence for what I have said. You might be surprised at the sources of some of this evidence. You might also be surprised as to who was quoted in contemporaneous news reports and where they were quoted.

    It was not for me to say that this evidence included what was published clearly in SWSS’s predecessor publications, but fortunately Dave Rich has done so. Because I am aware of which publications (from previous correspondence with Dave Rich who informed me) I could have simply extracted from the articles and published a quick “from the vaults” post to prove my point, but it is his research, I am aware of the information because he has told me, and I have integrity in this regard, so I would not do it.

    It was also because of my knowledge of where some of this evidence was published that I found johng’s repeated denials, accusations of lies being told, or that I was speaking “poppycock” amusing. That is why I also kept screen shots of this page.

    Michael Ezra

    August 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm

  186. I notice that Louis Proyect tries to suggest that Pinochet’s military coup against Allende in Chile was backed by the USA. This is of course another claim for which there is no evidence.

    When you sit down to write such things do you put greasepaint, a yellow wig and a red rubber nose on first?


    August 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm

  187. Andrew

    People are either fascinated or totally disinterested. Of course the latter far outnumber the former, but that’s what blogs are for.

    I know the IMG supported no platform but they opposed no platform for Zionists. They gave two reasons: firstly, because that is clearly not who the policy was intended for; and secondly, because the Zionists controlled so much of the bourgeois press anyway that the odd student no platforming would make no difference.

    Warwick did have a no platform for Zionism policy in the mid-70s, but it lapsed. Were you there at the same time as Richard Burden?

    Dave Rich

    August 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    • I know of no-one of that name.

      Warwick had a No-Platform position for ‘Zionists’ in the ’70s?

      This gobshite about the IMG policy being “because the Zionists controlled so much of the bourgeois press anyway that the odd student no platforming would make no difference.”

      Me little blister and me posted IMG posters all around Bounds Green when were teenagers against the National Front.

      We stood for anti-racism.

      In particular we hated Tyndall for his anti-Semitism.

      Oh, did I mention that the posters mentioned that.

      The idea that we would ever condone the kind of politics you claim mon pote,

      Over my dead-body!

      Andrew Coates

      August 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

  188. Before we even begin, Mosaddeq was in power in Indochina, he was the Prime Minister of Iran and the last time I looked at a map, Iran was not particularly close to Indochina.

    Are you really this stupid? Eisenhower was talking about an American Empire that spread from Central Asia to Indochina. Godalmighty, I thought that the Harry’s Place regulars had taken a class in Marxism at some point in their life. Mr. Ezra’s education appears to be limited exclusively to State Department apologia and Finance 101.


    August 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm

  189. Sorry – I just rechecked my notes. At Warwick there was a policy equating Zionism with racism from 1974 to 1977, when it was overturned. But if (as you say) there was no policy of No Platform for racists, then that would not equate to a ban on Zionism.

    Dave Rich

    August 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm

  190. Louis Proyect attempts to rubbish my claim that there is no evidence for American involvement in Pinochet’s coup against Allende, yet he offers no evidence himself.

    In relation to Eisenhower’s 1953 speech which he had extracted from earlier, Proyect claim that Eisenhower was “talking about an American Empire that spread from Central Asia to Indochina.” This is, of course, nonsense. Eisenhower was referring to the free world as opposed to those countries which had fallen to Communism. Proyect might also be interested to know that, if anything, it was Britain as opposed to America that had been in a strong position to influence Iran, not least due to its holding in the Ango-Iranian Oil Company.

    Michael Ezra

    August 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

  191. Andrew Coates informs us that he “strongly argued against” the No Platform Policy but that he is not “guilty” of liberalism.

    In response, I can say that I also strongly argued against the No Platform Policy but that is partly because I am “guilty” of liberalism. My other concern was similar to Andrew’s; one of definition. I was specifically concerned with the question who decides who is or who is not a racist or fascist? I recalled the British comedian Ben Elton referring to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a “fascist.” I also recalled members of the SWP (or, I should add, its predecessor organisation) attempting to define the Jewish Society as racist. I realised then that such definitions were perverse. I have not changed my view.

    Michael Ezra

    August 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm

  192. Louis Proyect attempts to rubbish my claim that there is no evidence for American involvement in Pinochet’s coup against Allende, yet he offers no evidence himself.

    It would make as much sense for me to present evidence that the earth was round or that babies are created after sperm fertilizes an egg. You are the political equivalent of a flat-earther.


    August 21, 2010 at 10:41 pm

  193. Ezra:

    “I recalled the British comedian Ben Elton referring to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a “fascist.”

    Well done Ezra, good on memory, perhaps, shit on understanding. Please remember, Ezra, this is an insult, not an invitation to discussion, you twat.

    Lobby Ludd

    August 21, 2010 at 11:54 pm

  194. Louis Proyect has still not provided any evidence to his implied assertion that Pinochet’s 1973 coup in Chile was backed by the USA. Given he has not got any evidence, this is not surprising. I am also not surprised that rather than accept this and move on, he results to insults.

    Lobby Ludd has made three contributions to this thread; none of them of any use whatsoever.

    I note that johng seems to have done a disappearing act after his self-embarrassing comments surrounding his own organisation and the banning of Jewish Societies.

    Michael Ezra

    August 22, 2010 at 10:54 am

  195. *That should be “resorts to insults” not “results to insults.”

    Michael Ezra

    August 22, 2010 at 10:55 am

  196. I think Andrew that the reason why SWP members have not been forthcoming is precisely because Dave Rich, whilst undoubtedly a much nicer person then Michael Ezra, has such entirely different politics that any conversation will almost inevitably end up in misunderstanding. I’m absolutely sure that he would not stitch me up, but given his politics I’m pretty sure that the result would make me burst a blood vessel in the same way you did. I think mature people understand that in politics this often happens when people are very far apart ideologically, and there is not necessarily any need to impute dishonest motives. But I think it is one reason why the tendency to conflate discussions of antisemitism with discussions of the unresolved national question in Israel/Palestine are freighted with perils which I sometimes feel Dave Rich does not take seriously enough. Importantly this is not intended as a personal attack of any kind its just a reflection on several years of this kind of discussion. And thats my two pennies worth.


    August 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

  197. The thing is that this is not a discussion about the Israel/Palestine conflict. It is a discussion as to what was the policy of Jewish societies on campus by the SWP and its predecessor organisation, International Socialists/IS in the 1970s and 1980s. Were IS/SWP in favour of banning Jewish societies that were Zionist; in favour of allowing them but against providing union facilities and money to them; not in favour of banning of them but in full support of places such as Sunderland Poly that would not allow a Jewish Society to be ratified that was Zionist in nature; against banning them but the position was so confusing that members on “the ground” did not understand it and thought that the position was the opposite; opposed to banning them and argued against organisations such as GUPS (General Union of Palestinian Students) who were in favour of banning them but kept these debates low key; opposed to banning them and were shouting from the roof tops that they were opposed to banning them; organising demonstrations in defence of Zionist Jewish societies and denouncing those opposed to them.

    What the position was at any given point in time, when it changed and why it changed are the matters of interest. It does not need any discussion as to what occurred in the Middle East in 1948. However, to avoid this discussion, johng mentions “the unresolved national question in Israel/Palestine.” This is a classic piece of “whatabouterry” and irrelevant side-tracking. The sort of thing for which johng is well known.

    Michael Ezra

    August 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm

  198. I think Michael demonstrates very well the kind of discussion that is a complete waste of time for all concerned. Of course its about the Israel-Palestine conflict. What else could you possibly think it was about?


    August 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm

  199. johng continues with his sidetracking. The question at hand is what was IS/SWP policy on the banning/no platforming of Jewish Societies in the 1970s through 1980s, when did it change and why it changed? It is not a question as to who did what in 1948. It is also not a question as to who did what in Lebanon in 1982.

    The following example of a Q and A session exposes the ridiculousness of johng’s statements:

    Q. What was IS policy on the banning of Jewish Societies in 1976?

    A. Israel is a colonial settler state backed by Imperialism.

    Q. What was the SWP policy on the banning of Jewish societies in 1985?

    A. Israel’s behaviour in Lebanon is disgusting.

    Anyone can tell that the above answers do not answer the question. johng knows that this is the case but he continues evading questions and trying to side track the discussion.

    Michael Ezra

    August 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm

  200. Michael can’t you find a kangaroo court to preside over somewhere? You really are a most tedious person.


    August 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm

  201. johng

    It is not a question of being tedious, it is a question of not allowing you to get away with evasive answers to points put to you.

    Michael Ezra

    August 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm

  202. Michael can’t you find a kangaroo court to preside over somewhere? You really are a most tedious person.


    I don’t mind arguing with rightwingers from time to time, but usually after 2 days the law of diminishing returns kicks in. With Ezra, that law kicked in after two hours.


    August 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

  203. Two hours? REVISIONIST!!


    August 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm

  204. Andrew

    I’m afraid it is not gobshite. It is taken from an undated IMG pamphlet (but probably from the late 1970s), called “Zionism – What It Is And How To Fight It”, by Nigel Ward. The final chapter, on “Zionism In Britain”, addresses the NUS bannings and includes this section:

    “Recently we have witnessed in the debate that opened up in the National Union of Students (NUS) a good example of Zionist tactics in a situation that has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. The attempts of some student union branches to either ban Zionist speakers from a platform in the NUS, or – a milder version – deny Jewish student societies that adopt Zionist policies access to union facilities, have been futile. Not only do the Zionists have a significant proportion of the bourgeois publishing world more or less at their disposal, but also the puny resources of individual student unions are incomparable to the sort of resources that the Zionist movement is capable of mobilizing in Britain. From a purely material point of view therefore, bans in student unions will have no influence on Zionist activity.” (my emphasis).

    I know that the IMG contributed a great deal to the effort against the NF in the 1970s, and I’m sure that many IMG activists like you (although I didn’t know before this thread that you were in the IMG) wouldn’t agree with this particular line. But it is there, in an official IMG pamphlet.

    As for johng: it saddens me that the SWP seem only able to relate to Jews through the framework of the Israel/Palestinian conflict (and only relate to antisemitism through the framework of anti-fascism). This is a story about attitudes to the I/P conflict (although not about the conflict itself, a subtle but important distinction). However it is also a story about sectarian far left politics; about free speech; about Student Union autonomy; about the right of a democratic community to define its own boundaries; about the right of minorities within that community to organise themselves, on their own terms; about the difference between trying to win a political argument, and trying to remove your opponent from that argument entirely; and yes, about antisemitism, both conscious and unintended. And about lots more besides.

    Dave Rich

    August 23, 2010 at 10:03 am

  205. ferocious, and brilliant.

    Dave Rich

    August 23, 2010 at 10:14 am

  206. Dave your curious allegation that I (or indeed the SWP) can only relate to Jews through the framework of the Israel-Palestine conflict, or that I (or indeed the SWP) can only understand antisemitism in relationship to fascism, cannot possibly be based on anything I’ve said here. Its because of comments like this that I think debate is pretty futile. And wittingly or not usually results in appalling slander of socialists.


    August 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

  207. johng,

    I know your question was direct at Dave Rich, but can you explain why, when I commented upon SWSS involvement in relation to banning Jewish Societies, that you immediately started talking about the Israel/Palestine conflict? Why couldn’t you simply comment on the banning of Jewish societies in isolation?

    It is because of this, and it is not the only example, that I concur with Dave Rich’s observation that “the SWP seem only able to relate to Jews through the framework of the Israel/Palestinian conflict (and only relate to antisemitism through the framework of anti-fascism).”

    Here is a question for you. Let us see if you can give a straight answer. Andrew Coates above has linked to the online version of Steve Cohen’s book, That’s Funny You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic, do you accept that Steve Cohen had a good point and many arguments that have been used by some on the left against “Zionists” are rehashed antisemitic arguments in anti-Zionist drag. A case in point, and I am not sure whether Steve Cohen used this specific example, is the quotation that Dave Rich has provided from an IMG publication that talks about Zionists controlling a large chunk of the bourgeois press. To put it in context, when first informed on this thread that that was the IMG view, Andrew thought it “gobshite.”

    Michael Ezra

    August 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

  208. Its impossible (and ridiculous) to talk about the arguments between the left and the then Jewish societies in the 1970s without discussing the argument about the Israel/Palestine conflict. There would not have been any arguments between the left and the Jewish societies if there was not an Israel/Palestine conflict and it was not the case that the Jewish societies made propaganda for Israel and against Palestine (when the left was pro-Palestinian). And no I don’t think that ‘many of the arguments’ (ie these arguments) are rehashed anti-semetic arguments and disagree with this perspective (as I disagree with the perspective on this issue outlined in the pamphlet by Steve Cohen). I think that in Palestine Zionism was a straight colonial project, but Zionism in Europe was one kind of reaction to antisemitism, a reaction obviously immensely strengthened by the twin disasters of Stalinism and the Holocaust. This means relating to arguments in Europe about Israel/Palestine were never going to be identical to the arguments one had about similar states established under the auspices of colonialism elsewhere. In other words the complexity of this intersection of European and non-European history meant it was not a straightforward issue. If inside Russia the Stalinists did indeed use arguments which simply dress up older forms of anti-semitism in a new anti-Zionist garb, I don’t think this was very often true of the new left ofthe 1960s struggling to relate in a principled way to a national liberation movement. Where mistakes were made I don’t think that was their source. I think that the gobshite quoted (I agree that it is) is largely the result of not understanding the complexities above. I don’t think it is a ‘rehash’ of anti-Semitic arguments.


    August 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm

  209. I would make one exception in terms of Steve Cohen. The WRP. Except with them it was largely a re-cycling of stalinist politics (and utter bonkers-dom) in the name of a pseudo-trotskyism.


    August 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm

  210. Although despite these disagreements with the late Steve Cohen one does wonder what the response of Michael Ezra would be to his anti-Zionist Zionism. Or to this quote from his commentary in 2005:

    “I cannot see how Zionism in its triumphant form (the Israeli state) is anything except essentially racist. It was founded on the dispossession of the Palestinians. And it continues on the super exploitation and humiliation of the Palestinians as the “other”. To deny this strikes me as fundamentally immoral. I also happen to think that two states, one of which by definition has to be exclusively Jewish is similarly immoral. I think majoritarianism (the legitimisation of an entity through numbers) is immoral wherever it presents itself—it leads at the very least to forced population movement and at its most extreme to ethnic cleansing and all that implies. I’ll leave open to discussion and personal judgement the point on this continuum that Israel may already guilty and at which a divided state would become guilty.”


    August 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm

  211. johng,

    As Dave Rich has said, you “seem only able to relate to Jews through the framework of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.” Your post at 12:45 is an example of this:

    :Its impossible (and ridiculous) to talk about the arguments between the left and the then Jewish societies in the 1970s without discussing the argument about the Israel/Palestine conflict.

    Res ipsa loquitur.

    For what it is worth, it is not just the WRP that recycled Stalinist politics. The SWP have positively supported work based on Lenni Brenner’s book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. Indeed, this book has also been footnoted and used as a reference in SWP publications. Lenni Brenner used the work of Soviet propagandists when writing that book.

    Michael Ezra

    August 23, 2010 at 1:07 pm

  212. Ezra writes, ‘resistor criticises Rubin for comments that he made about what occurred on the Mavi Maramara. resistor offers no evidence to suggest that Rubin was wrong here’

    I don’t need to. The victims of the IDF attack were not terrorists. Ezra, Rubin and the IDF are liars and smear merchants. As for the idiotic Jane Corbin, her Panorama piece is is mirror of her previous effort which proved that Iraq had WMDs.

    There is a link here.


    Corbin is employed by the BBC as a sop to the Tories (she is married to John Maples). I wouldn’t trust her to post a letter.


    August 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  213. On the IMG. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Marxist_Group

    The IMG in the 1970s was made of factions and Tendancies.

    I was a member of Tendancy ‘A’.

    Tendancy A’s leaders were members of the New Left Review Editorial Board. Like me old mucker Blackburn. Tendancy B was led by the man, John Ross who, well has his faults but is highly literate and I believe an Oxford graduate. Tendancy C was a temporary faction. The American SWP (not to be confused with its British namesmake) had its own group in the IMG.

    The idea that they could have written some gobshite like this, “Not only do the Zionists have a significant proportion of the bourgeois publishing world more or less at their disposal, but also the puny resources of individual student unions are incomparable to the sort of resources that the Zionist movement is capable of Not only do the Zionists have a significant proportion of the bourgeois publishing world more or less at their disposal, but also the puny resources of individual student unions are incomparable to the sort of resources that the Zionist movement is capable of mobilizing in Britain. From a purely material point of view therefore, bans in student unions will have no influence on Zionist activity. in Britain. From a purely material point of view therefore, bans in student unions will have no influence on Zionist activity.” defies belief.

    Give date and publication detail.

    Oh and the American usage and spelling “mobilizing”.

    Hey who was this type?

    Andrew Coates

    August 23, 2010 at 2:13 pm

  214. “Its impossible (and ridiculous) to talk about the arguments between the left and the then Jewish societies in the 1970s without discussing the argument about the Israel/Palestine conflict.”

    The arguments between the Jewish societies and the left in the 1970s were about the Israel-Palestine conflict (and nothing else). To twist this into the suggestion that the left can only relate to Jews through the Israel-Palestine conflict is utterly ridiculous and an example of the kind of malicious smearing that makes communication impossible (not with Jews I hasten to add, but with you).

    Similarly the SWP in its publications criticizes Lenni Brenner’s theses, and one of the key people who does so is John Rose. Those criticisms relate to the problems alluded to above. Quoting books is not the same as agreeing with their entire content.

    Again its an indication of how debate is increasingly pointless (not with Jews but with you).


    August 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm

  215. Andrew Coates,

    I believe you can check the publication with the British Library who have a copy. They provide details as follows:

    Author – personal Ward, Nigel.
    Title Zionism– : what it is and how to fight it / Nigel Ward.
    Publisher/year London : Relgocrest Ltd., [ca. 1977]
    Physical descr. 23 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
    Series ( IMG pamphlets)
    General note Title from cover.
    “International Marxist Group IMG.”
    Bibliography etc. Includes bibliographical references.
    Subject Zionism — History.
    Added name International Marxist Group.
    Series ( IMG pamphlets)
    Holdings (All) Details
    Shelfmark YD.2007.b.2196 Request
    ISBN 0856120219

    Michael Ezra

    August 23, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    • Well I accept this.

      But a Coates’ curse be for ever on the Ward!

      Andrew Coates

      August 23, 2010 at 2:48 pm

  216. I am happy to email you a scan if you like. The cover price is 25p but I am prepared to waive the cost in the interests of open debate 😉


    First, you warn against “the tendency to conflate discussions of antisemitism with discussions of the unresolved national question in Israel/Palestine”. Then, you write: “Of course its about the Israel-Palestine conflict. What else could you possibly think it was about?” – exactly the kind of conflation you are complaining about!

    As I wrote above, I agree that arguments over the I/P conflict were the basis of the disputes between Jewish students and parts of the left in the 1970s – but they are far from the whole story. It was also about wider principles and issues, some of which I outlined in my comment at 10.03. You reduce it down to just arguments over I/P, which is not right. For example, many on the student far left at that time were anti-Zionist and of the view that Zionism was racist etc, but did not think it was right to apply No Platform to Jewish Societies. They could see how a false political logic had, in pursuit of anti-racism, led to a racist position. So while disputes over the I/P conflict were the starting point, in the end it was not simply about whether people agreed or disagreed on Israel/Palestine.

    My view – not so much from what you have written on this thread, but from what the SWP and their activists have said, done and written in many places over many years – is that the SWP’s position on the I/P conflict colours all of their interactions with and positions on Jews and Jewish issues, including – perhaps especially – antisemitism. Your attempt to explain away the IMG’s publication of a pretty basic Jews-control-the-media conspiracy theory as some kind of understandable (if regrettable) “confusion” is a good example.

    Dave Rich

    August 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm

  217. johng states:

    The arguments between the Jewish societies and the left in the 1970s were about the Israel-Palestine conflict (and nothing else).

    errr, no. There was much discussion about the antisemitic implications of such a course.The fact that he wishes to deny this says more about him than anything else.

    John Rose’s criticism of Lenni Brenner’s work is published on p.212n5 of his travesty, The Myths of Zionism (Pluto Books, 2004). His criticisms were limited to criticising the subtitle of a different book by Brenner. The book that I mentioned above by Brenner was positively referred to by John Rose as a “genuine innovation” and he did not criticise Brenner’s source material. Elsewhere, John Rose acknowledges the help he received from Lenni Brenner. While on the subject of John Rose, he also acknowledged the help of Nathan Weinstock and sourced his book, Zionism – False Messiah. Rose mentions in Myths of Zionism (p210n6) that this book by Weinstock is “unfortunately out of print.” He does not explain why it is out of print.

    The (English translation of the)reason provided by Weinstock for the book being out of print is as follows:

    I have prohibited my publisher from reissuing Zionism – False Messiah. Let me add that, while I naively believed – an error of youth – that this book could fuel a constructive discussion leading to Israeli-Palestinian coexistence, I came to realise that this had been unforgivable naivety on my part: the book served only to salve the conscience of avowed and unconscious anti-Semites.

    Weinstock stated this in 2002. It did not stop John Rose using the relevant book as a source for his own book published in 2004.

    Michael Ezra

    August 23, 2010 at 3:16 pm

  218. Andrew,

    It is a credit to Britain as to how good some of our libraries are. I am quite pleased that I can track down most British published leftist material I am after, however obscure, to one library or another. (There are some gaps in some places, but overall it is excellent.) Sadly, the same cannot be said from the organisation from the right that I was looking for. Not only could I not track some material published by the Federation of Conservative Students to the British Library, I could not obtain it in the Conservative Party archives.

    Michael Ezra

    August 23, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    • Michael I think you’ll find that the Harvard archives are also pretty good.

      I recall posting material from the offices of the Socialist Society to them.

      Andrew Coates

      August 24, 2010 at 10:22 am

  219. First of all I did not attempt to ‘explain away’ what I described as a rubbish position. I simply did not agree that its roots were the same as that of the Stalinists. Secondly I do not see at all how my statement (identical to your own) that the arguments between the left and the Jewish societies at the time revolved around the Israel/Palestine conflict, can be equated with the claim that I reduce all relations to Jewish people, or the question of antisemitism to the question of the Israel/Palestine conflict. The former claim is one you just made yourself in this very communication (presumably you would agree that attempting abstract from these differences in any account of why there were arguments is absurd), whilst the latter claim appears to presume that these arguments were anti-Semitic. Am I misunderstanding something here?


    August 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm

  220. Could Ezra explain why John Rose shouldn’t have referred to Weinstock’s book? I simply can’t work out why he thinks this. For the rest of it, if I believed in such things I think the best place to have these arguments would be in court. But I don’t believe in resolving arguments that way, aside from insolvency, so I think I’ll leave this thread. But be careful Michael that you do not make allegations against all and sundry of this kind. Some people have money and some people might not have the same scruples.


    August 23, 2010 at 3:44 pm

  221. There are two different issues here. Firstly, my opinion of the SWP and Jews. This is what I wrote: “the SWP seem only able to relate to Jews through the framework of the Israel/Palestinian conflict (and only relate to antisemitism through the framework of anti-fascism).” Perhaps “only able” is a bit harsh as I’m sure there will be one or two exceptions, but as a general rule I stand by this assessment. Note it is not a personal judgement on you or on what you have written on this thread, but my opinion of the SWP.

    Secondly, on the issue of JSoc bannings etc, you wrote: “Of course its about the Israel-Palestine conflict. What else could you possibly think it was about?” It is about a lot else besides the Israel-Palestine conflict, as I listed above: “it is also a story about sectarian far left politics; about free speech; about Student Union autonomy; about the right of a democratic community to define its own boundaries; about the right of minorities within that community to organise themselves, on their own terms; about the difference between trying to win a political argument, and trying to remove your opponent from that argument entirely; and yes, about antisemitism, both conscious and unintended. And about lots more besides.” These issues, all of which came up during these campus battles, existed independently of positions on Israel/Palestine. Which one of these issues was the most important one varied according to people’s positions at the time. So in the end I disagree with you that it was just about arguments over Israel-Palestine.

    Also, I don’t think I’ve said anywhere in this thread that I think anything discussed here is antisemitic, apart from the IMG quote.

    Dave Rich

    August 23, 2010 at 3:49 pm

  222. Are you attempting to suggest that there would even have been a (wrong) argument about banning J-Soc if it was not for the Israel-Palestine conflict? If you are then I think you are wholly mistaken. That was the fundamental reason why there was argument on campus and I believe it is hardly likely to illuminate any of the arguments you refer to if this does not lie at the core of your account.


    August 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm

  223. No, of course I’m not suggesting that! I have already said that arguments over I/P were the basis for the whole thing. However the specific arguments over Israel/Palestine were quickly overwhelmed by a whole host of other arguments and issues as the row escalated. Frankly, if it was never anything more than Jews, Palestinians and Trots shouting at each other about 1948, nobody else would have been interested. It only became a big deal once some Student Unions banned their Jewish Societies, at which point the specific issue on which they had been banned became secondary for many people.

    Dave Rich

    August 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm

  224. There is no reason for John Rose not to refer to Weinstock’s book, but I would have thought that he would have been embarrassed to do so given that Weinstock felt that “the book served only to salve the conscience of avowed and unconscious anti-Semites.”

    But then again, given John Rose did not seem to know who was President of America in 1967, what hope is there for him? (See video section 5:10-5:20).

    Michael Ezra

    August 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm

  225. Well I personally heard about one example (sunderland). And I understand the SU at Sunderland was then disaffiliated from the NUS (or at least thats my memory of it, or there was a campaign for it to be disaffiliated). As I recall the SWP position was against the banning of Jewish societies and against the disaffiliation, the argument being that that rather then a ban a rescinding of the policy ought to be sufficiant. This is indeed unreliable as whilst the devil is often in the detail here the detail escapes me. There were also calls (as I recall) to ban Palestinian societies. This was also a period when the battles at NUS conferences over Israel/Palestine were at their height. I can also recall members of the UJS shouting at Palestinians telling them that they knew their names and would prevent them from going home etc, etc (there was a peculiarly unpleasent chap with an umbrella). Often the role of SWSS members at these conferences involved attempting to hold the two groups apart (its always important to remember the historical context of that particular time). At the same time of course the slogan of self hating Jew was cat-called at our comrades (particularly at Manchester). It was all pretty raucous and unpleasant.Very little of it felt abstracted from the Israel/Palestine conflict. But certainly our own arguments against the banning did. I remember one of our own Jewish comrades stating that most Jewish students joined J-soc in much the same way as someone interested in geography would join the geography society, and hence it was very mistaken. This chimed with the argument about the need to win arguments on the question. I then recall a rather over-enthusiastic UJS member bringing some rather doubtful comrades of his to an SWP meeting where Cliff was speaking. A rather stupid attempt was made to accuse him of anti-semitism. Cliff made a yiddish joke. Half the UJS lot laughed the other lot told them to shut up. There were also some amusing tales of Jewish socialists setting up local J-socs to test out what would happen. There would be some political battle over it raising rather interesting questions about who had the right to set up a J-soc. There was also a constant awareness of the dangers of some of these arguments at a time when the far right where pretty prominent. I recall an argument with some Palestinian friends about the dangers involved in dividing the victims of racism in this way and the necessity to keep the issues separate. Some thought this was true others thought it a double standard. The latter position I thought mistaken but not anti-Semitic. But the issue of banning was very rarely raised at least in my day. When it was everyone would have an allergic reaction as is the way with young schooled up activists. No, no and again no etc.


    August 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm

  226. Ah the famous video. A typically telling and serious point Michael. Funnily enough I think the constant ribbing and denigration of Jewish socialists who are not Zionists often comes pretty close to re-cycling anti-Semitic tropes. As to Nathan Weinstock. I think his book is excellent and useful. I also think his later judgements are mistaken. As I’m sure does John Rose. Its not at all unusual to find books which many still read but whose authors have since changed their minds. You seem to be operating with some temporally confused version of the generic fallacy.


    August 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm

  227. One of the reasons that I rib John Rose is that his book, The Myths of Zionism is ridiculous. I once made the following comment to a thread elsewhere on the Internet when his work came up for discussion. (I cannot find the original link, but I kept what I posted):

    John Rose’s book “The Myths of Zionism” is simply preposterous. No one takes it seriously and that is why it does not really seem to have been reviewed in any scholarly journals. It is a polemical attack on Zionism devoid of understanding of the history of Zionism and it uses highly selective quotations to paint an image of Zionism that is not borne out by the historical reality. Flicking through the book we see “If we leave aside the conditions that allowed Hitler and the National Socialist Party to come to power in Germany” (p. 139) Of course he wants to leave it aside or he would he would have to explain the role the communists played in allowing Hitler coming to power. On page 151 we see the following startling claim “Palestinian lives have been sacrificed to create space for Jewish lives.” I am not surprised there is no footnote for this ludicrous claim. He just made it up.

    Rose refers to Chomsky’s “The Fateful Triangle, The United States, Israel and the Palestinians” as “arguably the most important book written about Israel in the latter half of the twentieth century” (p. 154). Arguably amongst whom I am wondering? As a result of how impressed he is with Chomsky’s tract, Rose “unashamedly” based a whole chapter on it (p. 154) . As Paul Bogdanor points out, that book by Chomsky is “hysterical,” contains “libel,” “scurrilous” information, a “bizarre contention,” a “list of absurdities.” One account he gives is “deceitful” and another piece of information is a “factual blunder.” Chomsky “redefined” terms, and because he “will not allow facts to get in the way of the his totalitarian allegiances” he makes statements which are “the exact opposite of the truth” For a piece of information he doesn’t like, he dealt with it by “ignoring” it. Elsewhere he “selectively quotes” information. Not only did he attribute a quote by one person to someone else, he still misquoted it! His “tactic involves reiterating statements that were reported in the media and then exposed as misquotations.” His “misrepresentations of opponents border on the comical.” He “makes his case by inflating and distorting statistics.” For the book, Chomsky descended into a “vortex of fantasy” and by venturing into Zionist politics, “Chomsky embarrasses himself.” (Paul Bogdanor “The Devil State: Chomsky’s War Against Israel” in Ed. Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor “The Jewish Divide over Israel” New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers 2006 pp.77-114) But none of this stops John Rose basing a whole chapter on the book of course.

    According to Rose, “Israel killed tens of thousands if Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion” of Lebanon in 1982 and that in regard to the massacre at Sabra and Sgattila carried out by the Lebanese Christian Phalange that the Israeli minister Sharon, was “exposed ” as “especially…complicit in the massacre.” (p. 160) The facts are somewhat different to the way Rose portrays them. When a similar claim was made elsewhere according to the New York Times and American court deemed it “false and defamatory” (New York Times January 25, 1985)

    Rose first discusses that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was antisemitic (p. 165) but then goes about trying to prove that it was true!! Thus:

    Rose comments that there is “a view that, far from the US directing Israeli policy, the relationship was reversed and Israel began to direct US policy on the Middle East.”(p. 165) Whether there was a “Zionist conspiracy” as Rose calls in relation to the US Government’s war on terror is “a legitimate question.” (p. 166) After his analysis Rose makes the following statement “Thus it seemed that the Zionist conspiracy theorists had a case. Indeed at times it has looked as though Ariel Sharon is personally directing White House policy.” (p. 168) Rose’s implications and conclusions are preposterous. US policy is determined by Americans and Israeli policy by Israeli’s – this is how it is done in democracies. The fact that John Rose seems to prefer terrorist organizations and totalitarian regimes to democracies is rather telling.

    After discussing Israel controlling America, Rose uses language typical of the antisemitic tract that he referred to and hence we have the Israeli government “scheming” (p.171) and of course it is not long before he talks about money referring to “well-endowed” Zionist think tanks. And let us not forget another classic antisemitic line – These “Zionists” had “the domination of the opinion columns in the Wall Street Journal.” (p. 171). Domination of the press is not enough for these “scheming” Zionists as according to Rose “they had embedded themselves, in a much more menacing area of US politics.” (p. 172). One does wonder after reading all this whether Rose is guilty of plagiarizing The Protocols of tHe Elders of Zion that he earlier referred to antisemitic.

    One could go on listing his preposterous presumptions, his outright falsehoods and the ridiculous and discredited sources he used to make his point, but it would take a whole book to do so. –

    Forget about “The Myths of Zionism” someone should write “The Myths of John Rose.”

    Of course you think Nathan Weinstock’s book is useful, and of course you think that Weinstock is mistaken when he claims that his book, “served only to salve the conscience of avowed and unconscious anti-Semites.” I would not expect anything different from you.

    Michael Ezra

    August 23, 2010 at 4:46 pm

  228. No of course you would not expect anything different from me. But its not a crime to have different politics to you Michael even if you probably have fantasies about making it so. In terms of John Rose’s book a number of points. The first is that it is a socialist book aimed largely at activists. Its not intended for review in scholarly journals. Its a book which aims to introduce some material which is scholarly to a lay audience. And I think does its job very well.

    As to the idea that John Rose (a trotskyist) would have the least problems talking about the mistakes of the Communists in allowing Hitler to come to power or want to excuse the subject, well, its just funny Michael. For someone who claims to be some kind of resident expert on the left you really don’t know much about it do you. Trotsky actually founded the fourth international on the basis of the failures of the communist movement in Germany. I recommend the collection of Trotsky’s writing on Germany for your further elucidation.

    You have a remarkable way of quoting people out of context (although this does not always mean you avoid making a fool of yourself as the above example testifies). But one can think of a number of sentences which would have the phrase ‘Palestinian lives have been sacrificed for Jewish lives’ which would not require footnotes but simply a reference to a well known military operation.

    I think the fateful triangle is an excellent book and nothing that you have quoted suggests anything different. You have simply quoted people on the other side of the political spectrum. Not everyone is right wing Michael. Not being right wing does not mean that all your arguments are false (again one suspects you would like to introduce legislation on this matter but it hasn’t happened yet).

    You refer to an article in the New York Times and a court judgement which apparently invalidates the claim that tens of thousands of lives were lost during the invasion of Lebanon by the IDF and apparently over-turns the verdict of the Israeli inquiry on the blame which rightly attached itself (in the Israeli public mind aside from anything else) to Sharon for at least a decade. I’m fascinated by this. In any case though not every thing is decided by legal proceedings. It is quite possible to think that a report or a court case is a white wash, and usually people refer to the facts of the matter in doing so. I remember the invasion of Lebanon. I have Lebanese friends who were there. I remember the reports in the newspapers. Its also true that this was the first time that western journalists had been on the wrong end of the Israeli war machine. It changed public perceptions forever and current debates in many ways can be traced back to that era. Whatever the New York Times says about a court case.

    Your attempt to argue that John Rose defends the protocols of the elders of zion (remember many of us know John Rose personally) are so ludicrous that they should not be dignified with a response. Your method of deliberately selective and distorted quotation far more resembles the protocols then anything in John Roses book (which resembles it not at all of course). Cheap and nasty.


    August 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm

  229. johng,

    If John Rose’s book is for a “lay audience”, then why was he reluctant to discuss, “the conditions that allowed Hitler and the National Socialist Party to come to power in Germany.”

    Regarding Trotsky’s writings on Germany, I have read quite a bit of them. One wonders if you can even begin to justify the following from Trotsky himself:

    From the standpoint of a revolution in one’s own country the defeat of one’s own imperialist government is undoubtedly a “lesser evil.” Pseudo-internationalists, however, refuse to apply this principle in relation to the defeated democratic countries. In return, they interpret Hitler’s victory not as a relative but as an absolute obstacle in the way of a revolution in Germany. They lie in both instances.

    … Even in the event of a complete victory over England, Germany in order to maintain her conquests would be compelled in the next few years to assume such economic sacrifices as would far outweigh those advantages which it might draw directly from her victories… Hitler will have too many worries in Berlin to be able successfully to fulfill the role of executioner in Paris, Brussels or London. [Emphasis added]

    In other words, What Trotsky was arguing was that the chances for the revolution will be better if democracies collapse and the Nazis conquer Europe!

    If, as you say, John Rose’s book is scholarly, then he should not be using rhetoric such as “Palestinian lives have been sacrificed to create space for Jewish lives” and not substantiating it without evidence.

    You claim that Chomsky’s Fateful Triangle is “is an excellent book.” That book is simply full of errors as Paul Bogdanor has demonstrated. I am not discussing here whether someone is right-wing or left-wing, but whether someone can get their facts right. It has been shown time and time again by a number of people including Oliver Kamm and others that Chomsky cannot be trusted with the facts.

    On John Rose’s outlandish claims regarding the 1982 Lebanon War, I suggest that you read something scholarly. Try something such as Willian V. O’Brien’s book, Law and Morality in Israel’s War With the PLO,” (Routledge, 1991). The book denotes whole sections to this war. You might actually learn something if you read it.

    I stand by the arguments I have used against John Rose’s book and if I spent more time, I could no doubt find a lot more errors.

    Michael Ezra

    August 24, 2010 at 12:13 am

  230. You haven’t found a single ‘error’ yet Michael. Just a bunch of nasty and unpleasant innuendo (which one day I suspect really will land you in court when you try it on with the wrong person). I did think your belief that Kamm had proved things ‘again and again’ was a wonderful gem though. Reading through your pompous right wing prose is occasionally good for a laugh. It does strike me is how deeply ignorant you are about most things. There is something poignant about the combination of mock erudition and deep stupidity.


    August 24, 2010 at 4:50 am

  231. Frankly Michael Ezra’s citation from Trotksy is so mad, and out of context, that it would take me more time on this clavier to reply to than I have.

    As for the rest.


    I would just like to say: this is my Blog, My Gaff, my rules.

    Johng is a comrade, the SWP are comrades, and that all your attempts to cover him and the SWP with odure Michael are bootless.

    Andrew Coates

    August 24, 2010 at 11:18 am

  232. johng claims that I have not found a single “error” in John Rose’s book, The Myths of Zionism (Pluto Press, 2004).

    I do find this tiresome but below is a paragraph that I copy from page 160 of that book:

    Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion. Not only had Israel been armed by the US, Prime Minister Begin boasted that Israel was testing secret weapons made in Israel, on behalf of the US. Such a weapon, he told an audience in America, had enabled Israeli jet aircraft to knock out Russian made Sam-6 and Sam-8 missile batteries in Syria without losing a single aircraft (Washington Post, 6 August 1982).

    There is only one reference: Washington Post August 6, 1982. Now, I am fortunate to have access to the on line archive of that newspaper, so I thought I would try and check the original source. I carried out various searches: “Israel”, “Menachem Begin” and so on for that date in the newspaper and the following are the articles that I located that potentially could be the one or more than one that John Rose was using as reference

    “Details Enmesh Talks On PLO’s Departure,” p.A21
    “Fahd Reported Satisfied With Reagan’s Reaction,”p.A25.
    Edward Walsh, “Israel Rejects U.N. Observers”, p.A1
    “Sen. Percy Denies Remark on Israel,” p.A22
    William Clairborne, “Some in Cabinet Want to Restrain Sharon’s Actions,” p.A1
    “Soviets Seek Tough Condemnation Of Israel For Rejecting U.N. Bid,” p.A23.
    Jonathan C. Randal, “Thousands Flee From West Beirut,” p.A1.
    John M. Goshko and Don Oberdorfer, “Time Is Sought For Negotiation,” p.A1.
    Philip Geyelin, “Why Israel Keeps Shooting,” p.A17

    What I was trying to do was just find anything that justified Rose using the first sentence in that paragraph: “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion.” I never managed to do so. I did not believe the claim in the first place and I would have been surprised if the Washington Post had made that claim, but I could not find it in that newspaper for my search of that day.

    But this is not all. I realised that not only could I not locate anything that justified Rose writing the first sentence, and this is to my surprise I must admit, but I could not find anything justifying the rest of the paragraph either!

    I strongly suspect that John Rose has made up at least some of the information in that paragraph. I do however accept that there may be a flaw with the on line edition of the newspaper that I have access to, or, I might have missed something, but unless someone comes to me with a categoric reference including article name and (if appropriate) author, as well as a page reference, I will favour my hunch that not only does John Rose make fictitious claims but also his sources do not necessarily back up what he has written.

    I think the onus is on johng, defender of John Rose, to provide a full reference. I am specifically interested in the reference backing up the first sentence.

    Michael Ezra

    August 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm

  233. Andrew, I have not used the Harvard Archives. I have used NYPL and some other libraries and archives in the US, but not Harvard. I have no doubt that you are accurate. I suspect that it is simply superb.

    I also appreciate that it is your blog and you can make the rules. Thus I am appreciative of the fact that you have allowed this debate to occur. I have been kept quite entertained!

    I am glad that you think that johng and the SWP are “comrades” as it was not that long ago that you informed your readers that SWP cadres threatened you.

    Michael Ezra

    August 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm

  234. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Is Michael Ezra engaging in some wierd attempt to argue that this didn’t happen because his favourite newspapers didn’t report it or is he just such an obsessive that he does’nt realise how sick his stance looks?


    August 24, 2010 at 5:54 pm

  235. johng,

    You have not answered the question. You have evaded it. Let us recap. I have said that I believe John Rose’s book, Myths of Zionism contain errors and distortions. You said that I have not even found one. I believed that a sentence that John Rose wrote was inaccurate. I checked his footnote reference and found nothing substantiating his claim.

    If you are standing by your implication that John Rose’s book is free of errors, then presumably you can find something in the Washington Post of August 6, 1982 that justifies the following sentence: “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion.” If, on the other hand, there is nothing in the Washington Post on that day to justify that sentence, do you accept that John Rose, has at least made a referencing error?

    If you believe that John Rose’s sentence “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion,” is accurate, then presumably you can locate one scholarly reference elsewhere, if not in the Washington Post of August 6, 1982 to justify this claim. Please provide a reference for me.

    Michael Ezra

    August 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm

  236. Actually, the Washington Post reported on Sept. 3, 1982 that “War Casualties Put at 48,000 in Lebanon” in an article by Jay Ross and specifically mentioned the deaths of thousands of civilians. Of course, Israel denied all this as would their shyster attorney and bond peddler Mr. Ezra.


    August 24, 2010 at 7:20 pm

  237. Louis Proyect,

    If you actually read the article by Jay Ross, which I just have, you would know that the article discusses a report in an Arab newspaper that said that there were 17,825 people killed and 30,203 wounded. It does not say that all the deaths and those wounded are attributable to Israel. Jay Ross specifically notes that this Arab newspaper provided “the highest [amount of casualties] yet estimated.” Ross notes the figures had been disputed as too high and noted that there are other estimates, some as low as 2,000 casualties. There was also the problem of double counting the injured who had been moved from one hospital to another.

    In any event, this is a different matter entirely. Not even this article justifies Rose’s claim that “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion.” What certainly does not seem to justify the claim by Rose – and in fact – the whole paragraph by Rose with all the other information – is the Washington Post of August 6, 1982; John Rose’s reference.

    Michael Ezra

    August 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm

  238. And?

    Michael Ezra

    August 25, 2010 at 9:54 am

  239. I prefer this post. Do you honestly feel that Marxists have an understanding about economic matters? The Labour Theory of Value is completely discredited. Communist leaders send their economy into a tailspin when they get into power. One can consider the disaster of Allende in Chile. In countries such as Cuba, some people have preferred being hotel porters than engineers or doctors because they could earn more money in tips from foreign guests than they could as a doctor. Hence, the hotel porter had a higher standard of living. One can also consider the ever unreliable Trabant that people drove around in in East Germany compared to the BMWs, VWs and Mercedes’ that driven in West Germany. The list goes on and on. If a Marxist ever became a Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, our country would be cap in hand to the IMF in no time.

    Michael Ezra

    August 25, 2010 at 10:27 am

  240. the disaster of Allende in Chile

    so this justifies Pinochet in your opinion


    August 25, 2010 at 10:44 am

  241. entdinglichung,

    No. Why should it be the case that because I thought Allende was a disaster that a brutal military dictatorship is justified?

    Michael Ezra

    August 25, 2010 at 10:53 am

    • Michael,

      I suspect you know fuck-all of Allende and the whole matter.

      But that remains only a suspicion.

      Btw have you noticed that Pensioners are already deciding to withdraw their cash from your Hedge-Fund?

      Andrew Coates

      August 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm

  242. You can suspect what you want. I am always happy to have a discussion about Allende. Fortunately, following a discussion I had on Harry’s Place it does seem that the ridiculous claim on Wikpedia has been changed. One wonders how long before one of the ignorant anti-American types decide that it is a fact (it isn’t) that Pinochet’s coup was US backed and attempts to change it back.

    Michael Ezra

    August 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm

  243. I do not know why I bother commenting, but there were never any “Pensioners” invested in Duration Asset Management’s funds, so they could hardly withdraw their cash. You clearly do not really know anything about hedge fund asset raising. But that is OK, I did not come to this blog to discuss inverse floating, interest only, collateralized mortgage backed securities, those I discuss elsewhere. I came here to talk about Christopher Hitchens’ book originally, one I immensely enjoyed. The conversation soon moved on to discussing various matters where I have disagreements with Marxists. That is fine by me.

    Michael Ezra

    August 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm

  244. My own oblique reflections on this debate here http://brockley.blogspot.com/2010/08/triangulating-bobism-1-harryism-and.html taking in the Yugoslavia issue which the comment thread started off with, the IMG and Lee Jasper, among other things. I started writing it when there were a mere 150 comments or so on this thread.

    To return to a topic that came and went earlier in the thread, I think Michael E is wrong about this:

    1. The CGDK – the coalition that included the Khmer Rouge
    2. The PRK – A Quisling government that included many ex members of the Khmer Rouge.

    I agree, not an easy choice, but I think you make teh wrong one.

    I don’t think it is logically possible to say that the Vietnamese liberation was right but that the PRK was a Quisling government. You’re using a similar logic here to those of your enemies who called the Karzai, Allawi or Talabani governments quisling regimes because they were imposed by occupying/liberating forces. True, the PRK was not a democratic government, but then nor are most of the UN’s members.

    The West and China’s recognition of the CGDK as the legitimate government was incredibly unusual in that the UN recognises almost no other governments in exile. I can’t think of any other examples in the post-war period – e.g. Western Sahara is not recognised. I don’t think much of the principle of national sovereignty, but it is the founding principle of the UN, so making an exception for Kampuchea stands out, and demonstrates the cynicism of the American position.


    August 25, 2010 at 4:17 pm

  245. Hi Bob and thank you for your contribution as well as your considered blog post. I look forward to reading the next two instalments, but here I shall just comment upon Cambodia which you highlight.

    My position is as follows: I supported the overthrow of Pol Pot and tyrannical regime by just about anyone. From the time they got in power in April 1975 through to the time that the Vietnamese ousted the Khmer Rouge in January 1979, approximately 30% of the population had been wiped out. I dread to think how bad it would have gotten had the regime been allowed to continue. In this instance, it was the Vietnamese who got rid of the Khmer Rouge.

    The choice then came down as to who to support for the UN seat. There were two options that I stated earlier and you repeated:

    1. The CGDK – the coalition that included the Khmer Rouge
    2. The PRK – A Quisling government that included many ex members of the Khmer Rouge.

    I am glad you see that it was not an easy choice.

    In practice, what I suspect occurred was that the Chinese wanted the CGDK for the UN seat and America and Britain went along with but would not deal with the Khmer Rouge. This was still Cold War times, the Russians would have wanted the PRK and it was not that many years from the ping-pong diplomacy that the USA had with China.

    But it as not as simple as that and a number of other factors should be considered.

    Historically, there was a lot of racism by many Cambodians directed against the Vietnamese. The Khmer Rouge exploited this and made it substantially greater. This can be seen by the slogans that the Khmer Rouge used. So, along with slogans in praise of the regime such as “Long live the revolutionary Angkar, utterly wise and clear-sighted and ever glorious,” as Henry Locard points out in his Pol Pot’s Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar” [(Silkworm Books, 2004),pp.176-181],there were a number of slogans directed against the Vietnamese. Examples include: “Let us violently attack and scatter the Vietnamese vermin!”; “Beware the enemy from Vietnam who takes Khmer heads as trophies and ingredients for the giant pot in which he boils water for his master’s tea”; “Vietnamese head, Cambodian body”; “Cambodian bodies with Vietnamese brains”, and so on and so forth. While it may be due to racism, given historical views in Cambodia about Cambodians who married someone from Vietnam, it is unlikely that the Cambodians would have wanted to be ruled by the Vietnamese.

    The President of the CGDK was Prince Norodom Sihanouk and he was the Cambodian leader that the population respected. (Why he got into bed with the Khmer Rouge in the first place – a body that repaid him by keeping him as a house prisoner while they ruled and murdered a substantial amount of members of his family – is another matter entirely.)

    The PRK was not such a wonderful government. I recommend Craig Etcheson’s book, After the Killing Fields: Lessons from the Cambodian Genocide, (Texas Tech University Press, 2005). It was a desperate time, but as Etcheson explains (pp.24-27), the K-5 plan to defend the new government against the Khmer Rouge required the use of a substantial amount of forced labour in horrific conditions. 380,000 were drafted in to fortify the Cambodian/Thai border and “According to several estimates, 80% of these workers contracted malaria, and of those, up to 5% succumbed to the disease.” Even when the threat of hunger was great in Cambodia, the government prioritised K-5. Stories of people who worked on K-5 were horrific:

    “when we arrived,” said Touch Saroeun (a participant), “thousands of workers had preceded us. We were maybe ten thousand coming from several provinces. There was no shelter at all. It was useless to seek to build a cabin, because we were moved every day. Some of us had hammocks, others had nothing. They slept on the ground, on bits of plastic sheets or even on the soil”….

    “We were told that there would be everything on the spot,” said a villager from Takeo. “But once there, there was nearly nothing to eat.”…

    Thory, a young woman from Battambang, said that in her group, “several people died of starvation. It was like under the Pol Pot regime.”….

    Sunnara, from Prey Vang, was obliged to guard the “volunteers.” “We did not have any choice, the Vietnamese were after us. The rare person who tried to tried to escape were recaptured and savagely beaten and then taken to jail. Some have even been executed.” Sareth from Pursat was demining: “Often those who were blown on [sic] the mines were accused of wanting to flee. In fact, these were accidents because we did not know at all where the mines were.”

    One Ministry of Defence official who defected to Thailand claimed, “in March 1986 that 30,000 people died since the beginning of the labor.”

    It is no surprise that on a visit to Cambodia in 1994, when people asked Etcheson was doing in Cambodia and he informed them that it was his job to put Pol Pot in jail, he regularly received a response something like, “Well, don’t stop there, the government is full of criminals, from top to bottom.” (p.40)

    To consider many of the government members involvement in the Khmer Rouge, one can realise why it has taken until 2010 to have a proper trial of a Khmer Rouge leader. The problem has been, as Etcheson notes, (p.141) that the reason why the political elite dragged their heels in allowing prosecution of the Khmer Rouge leadership was “in part because nobody is completely ‘clean.'”

    My dispute (in this thread) with the Marxists on the Khmer Rouge can be summed up as follows:

    1.Between 1975 and 1977 many Marxists either supported the KR, romanticized the KR, dismissed evidence of the KR’s genocidal practices as anti-Communist propaganda, or simply did not bother writing about what was occurring in Cambodia. If this changed at all, it was because when Vietnam were at war with Cambodia, some took the side of Vietnam.

    2. The claim that the West supported the KR after the fall of the regime. I have explained the point that America did not support the KR but the CGDK which was a coalition government. I also highlighted an explicit memo prepared by Paul Wolfowitz for a 1983 high level meeting between the US and China to emphasize this point:

    We will not deal directly with the Khmer Rouge or provide them assistance of any kind. US strongly opposes the return to power of Khmer Rouge.

    Michael Ezra

    August 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm

  246. If there is one thing worse then stupid anti-americanism its stupid pro-americanism. I think Ezra’s convoluted nonsense in response to bob from brockley above basically boils down to the fact that its ok to support the khmer rouge if there is a cold war on. I can’t see what else its supposed to mean. the ludicrous historical revisionism on everything from the coup in Iran, through to the civilian toll in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and back again to Allende’s Chile display a black and white vision which strains credulity far more then the shallowest kind of left wing agit prop.


    August 26, 2010 at 11:12 am

  247. johng clearly lacks comprehension skills. At no point have I said it was “ok to support the Khmer rouge.” Had johng actually paid attention to what I have repeated in this thread on a number of occasions to him, I do not and never have supported the Khmer Rouge. he would also understand that the words I have copied from Paul Wolfowitz in 1983 three times previously in this thread including one occasion where I emphasised his words in bold. Perhaps, with my fourth attempt below, it might sink in. Somehow, I doubt it but I hope to be pleasantly surprised. It seems to me johng has a mental block on this matter:

    We will not deal directly with the Khmer Rouge or provide them assistance of any kind. US strongly opposes the return to power of Khmer Rouge.

    johng also accuses me of ” ludicrous historical revisionism” yet I have provided sources that can be easily checked for the information I have provided. This can be compared to John Rose of the SWP who, as I have demonstrated, appears to make up footnotes. Rose can get away with this because as johng commented in his contribution to this thread of August 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm, Rose’s book is “not intended for review in scholarly journals.” If scholars do not review the book, then fabrications might not get spotted. Unfortunately for johng, the one footnote that I did check of John Rose’s happens to be a fabrication. (For what it is worth, a reader who also has access to the Washington Post archive, concurs with my view that there is nothing in the newspaper on that date that justifies anything that Rose has claimed in the relevant paragraph in his book.)

    This has been johng’s method throughout this thread. It can be seen by anyone who reads through it all that he denied that his party, SWP, had ever supported the banning/not allowing of union funds to Jewish societies. He went quiet on that point after Dave Rich explained to him that it can be clearly seen in publications by the forerunner to SWSS, the student body associated with the party.

    Another example is johng’s accusation that I am guilty of “ludicrous historical revisionism” in relation to Allende’s Chile. I have made only two comments in this thread on Allende. Firstly, that he was responsible for an economic disaster; surely johng does not want to claim that he was an economic success? Secondly, that there is no evidence that the US backed Pinochet’s coup against Allende. I wonder if johng is going to waste his time looking for some?

    And so it goes on. But what should we expect from a supporter of a party, one where a leading ideologue, John Molyneux stated around the time of Desert Storm, “We are for the defeat of America and the victory of Iraq.” On the subject of stupid anti-Americanism, that sentence speaks volumes.

    Michael Ezra

    August 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

  248. You may take the weasel words of Paul the Wolf seriously but don’t expect anyone sensible to do so. You justify support for the Khmer Rouge. End of. More then this you attempt large scale historical revisionism using methods which resemble those used by Holocaust Revisionists (ie insisting on ‘proof’ for things which are well known and in the public domain). I’m afraid thats bound to happen to you if you’ve so lost the plot that you think the American right are ‘fair and balenced’.


    August 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm

  249. johng’s contributions to this thread are becoming increasingly desperate. Every time I have offered an opinion, I have stated that I was opposed to the Khmer Rouge. In my last contribution I reiterated this and said that I thought johng lacks comprehension skills. In his subsequent post, his own last contribution, johng said to me, “You justify support for the Khmer Rouge.” I do not think I was using hyperbole in view of johng.

    In so far as Paul Wolfofwitz, johng has conveniently forgotten that Wolfowitz’s words are taken from a private memorandum that he sent to the US Secretary of State for us with the latter’s meeting with senior Chinese officials.

    johng now has compared me to Holocaust Revisionists. This is somewhat sick, but he does so because I have insisted on “proof” for things. I am not actually insisting on proof. What I would like to see is a statement in any reliable book (the sort that does get reviewed in scholarly journals) backing up some of the ludicrous claims.

    For example, John Rose stated in his book,The Myths of Zionism, “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion.” I do not believe this to be true. I assume this is an example of something that johng thinks is “well known and in the public domain.” If it is well known and in the public domain then presumably johng can point me to a reliable source that justifies Rose’s sentence. For this I will accept any UK broad sheet news report; any major US newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post or the Chicago Tribune; any peer reviewed journal article; or any book published by an academic publishing house and that has been reviewed in an academic journal.

    This is not the same as Holocaust Revisionists; they would not accept any of the sources that I am prepared to accept. It is more akin to me saying to someone that claimed aliens from Mars landed on earth in 1982, had lunch with Ronald Reagan and the White House staff before flying back on their spaceship, to provide me with a news paper report of this story.

    Michael Ezra

    August 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

  250. I very much enjoy this debating style. What you do is to attribute things to people in order to imply they are in some sense losing the argument. Do you really imagine that I feel ‘desperate’ (aside from the sense of losing the will to live) reading through your wierd obsessive attempts to justify the unjustifiable. I am not willing to argue with someone who does not accept that there were tens of thousands of people killed in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. And what is akin to the style of debate is your attempt to suggest that its necessary to ‘prove’ what is well known, and well attested. What difference it makes whether Paul the Wolf said it publicly or privately I do not understand. Supporting recognition DID lend support to the Khmer Rouge whether or not the US preferred to keep its hands publicly clean.


    August 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    • Johng, the general opinion is that Michael Ezra is thick..

      He’s like that mate of yours who when someone points this out (I could cite an actual case when Class War from London made this comment, ‘here is yor mate thick?) you still keep thinking: no he can’t possibly be that dense.

      Andrew Coates

      August 26, 2010 at 4:40 pm

  251. johng now has compared me to Holocaust Revisionists.

    So do I. You have the same intellectual make-up as David Irving.


    August 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm

  252. I think its probably true that he’s not the sharpest of individuals. With David T you always got the sense that whilst he was ideologically pretty vicious he had a reasonable, albeit crude, sense of what was actually going on in an argument. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Michael. However its also true that its not simply about being a bit dense. The apparently robotic style of denunciation is part of a political trend associated with a section of Blairites who went weak at the knees in the face of US power (it reminds me very much of Orwell’s comments on intellectuals and power-worship, although intellectual is probably a bit of a big word).

    This involved imitation of shock jock style politics associated with American talk radio and the peculiarly aggressive style of right wing polemic on the American right. Whether these people are properly described as conservatives is an interesting question, given the almost Leninist style interventionist tactics (up to and including monotonous ‘talking points’ endlessly recycled and the preference of denunciation over debate). I guess its true though that this is a style, its a style one guesses Michael could not do much about. In some ways it must be a relief not to have to engage in argument.

    This is somewhat different to your original topic here Cbristopher Hitchens. Michael might have chosen to debate the points you raised about him. Instead of course he wanted to talk about who should and who should not be ‘ashamed’.


    August 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm

  253. johng continues on his silly campaign. I had best to take another screen shot of this page after this post. The previous time I took a screen shot was because johng was continually denying that SWPs involvement in Jewish Society bannings/withholding of union funds from. This was despite the fact that I reiterated that I had seen evidence for the fact that the SWP were involved. johng suddenly went quiet on the point after Dave Rich informed him that the evidence was in publications of the SWP’s student body.

    This time I intend to take a screen shot because of johng’s repeated attempts to justify John Rose’s use of the following sentence: “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion.” I have informed johng that John Rose’s own source does not back up this sentence. Despite this, johng continues to attempt to ridicule me when I state that I do not believe John Rose’s claim. I have suggested – and I do not think unreasonably so – that the amount of deaths caused by the Israel in the 1982 war in Lebanon would be published somewhere relatively reputable. I have given a lot of leeway or where I am happy to see a reference – various newspapers, any peer reviewed academic journal, a book by a university publishing house and there are probably a number of web sites that I would also accept if they can be deemed to be reliable. (Wikipedia, as an example, is not a reliable source.) But johng has not come up with a single reliable reference for me.

    Given he hasn’t come up with a reference justifying John Rose’s sentence, but (along with Louis Proyect) is accusing me using methods akin to Holocaust Revisionists, I thought I would provide some references of my own:

    1. Robert Fisk, “How guerillas humbled an invincible army,” The Times May 28, 1985, p.4.

    In this article Robert Fisk states that “By the end of September, 1982, around 17,500 men, woman and children had died in Lebanon.” Fisk does not break down who killed those people. It can be noted however, that in an article on page 6 of The Times the next day (May 29, 1985) entitled “Reaping a bitter harvest from the long, weary ‘war of deceit,'”, Christopher Walker makes clear that the killings at Sabra and Chatila were not done by the Israelis, but by the Lebanese Phalangists.

    2.William Haddad, “Lebanon in Despair,”Current History, January 1983, pp.15ff

    Haddad just gives one estimate, and that is the one provided by the Lebanese government and published by Al Nahar on September 2, 1982 of over 17,000 deaths. Haddad does not give a breakdown of who did the killing.

    3. Jay Ross, “War Casualties Put at 48,000 in Lebanon,” Washington Post, September 3, 1982,

    This is the same article that Louis Proyect mentioned in his contribution to this thread of August 24, 2010 at 7:20 pm.

    This article also highlights the Al Nahar, figure, supported by the Lebanese government of 17,825 deaths, but no breakdown is provided of who did the killings. (The figure of 48,000 in the article title included 30,203 wounded.)

    4. “Beirut government puts massacre toll at 2,000,” Christian Science Monitor, October 14, 1982.

    This article states that the Palestine Red Cross puts the total (including the refugee camp massacre) of those killed and wounded combined at 27,000 throughout the war. If the ratio of those wounded to those who were killed are kept constant with the Lebanese government view then this would imply approximately 10,000 deaths throughout the whole war. Again, this article does not state who did the killing. The article also notes that the Lebanese government disputes this figure and the Al Nahar figures are cited.

    I could continue, but there is little need as it is quite clear that neither the Lebanese government nor the Palestine Red Cross provide figures that support John Rose’s contention that “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion.”

    As I stated earlier, it appears that John Rose has both made up this statement and fabricated a source.

    Regarding johng’s comments about the Khmer Rouge and who he believe supported them, I will put his errors down to a mental block. I cannot think of any other explanation.

    Given that my opponents on this thread are being embarrassed by the facts that I have presented and they cannot counter, they now seem to have resorted to a series of ad hominem attacks on myself. SO w have Louis Proyect saying that I have “the same intellectual make-up as David Irving,” Andrew Coates saying that “the general opinion is that Michael Ezra is thick” and johng saying of me “I think its probably true that he’s not the sharpest of individuals.” It is a shame that my opponents have descended into the gutter with such claims, I thought that they might be able to attempt a decent defence of their positions. Sadly, because it is less enjoyable for me, they do not seem to be able to mount a credible defence. I came for the argument, not for abuse.

    Michael Ezra

    August 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  254. sorry to disappoint but I’m not conducting any campaign. I’m not the one taking ‘screenshots’ like some demented wannabe McCarthy. I would suggest you check the figures for the 1982 conflict with the International Red Cross who estimate something like 17,000 civilian dead. Its a loose estimate though as bodies kept turning up. But in any case its utterly futile to carry on a conversation with someone who refuses to engage in even minimal standards of rational argument. And you are someone who continues to seek to justify recognising forces allied with the Khmer Rouge largely because its the ‘west’. And I see you continue to deny the responsibility of Israeli forces failing to prevent the massacre of innocent women and children by their allies the phalangists who they let into the camp whilst standing guard outside, some of the same militias they also operated alongside during the long occupation in southern Lebanon, and the various torture camps they ran there with the same militias. This was the atmosphere in which Hezbollah could come to be perceived by almost everyone in southern Lebanon as a nationalist resistance force. And of course this is the reason why the conflict continues to simmer. You on the other hand can do no better then demand that people supply figures from your favourite newspapers which in general don’t like to talk about all this very much.


    August 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm

  255. And incidently Michael Lebanese people were not the only civilians in Lebanon. The IDF got a little confused about that at points as did the phalangist militias. Pause before you answer by the way. One of the really disgraceful things about your tone here is that you are utterly unconcerned whether any of these things happened or not. You are only concerned with whether those you support emerge with credit.


    August 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm

  256. As Michael Ezra shames himself by mocking the dead in Lebanon with his grotesque campaign, what can one do but smile and shrug ones shoulders when he talks about people descending into the gutter. ‘not particularly sharp’. Sorry Michael but you really don’t seem to be. And for a denizen of Harry’s Place to make such an accusation…I’ve just seen a rather grotesque post gracing HP which complains about Palestinian refugees’ getting all the ‘limelight’ and then goes on to repeat traditional right wing arguments suggesting that equations should be made between Israeli citizens wrongfully expelled from Arab lands but now citizens of the state of Israel and Palestinians living in refugee camps or under military occupation who are citizens of nowhere. This is a traditionally right wing argument which most liberal Zionists always opposed. Its quite a slide from what HP used to claim to be.


    August 26, 2010 at 10:17 pm

  257. All the references to casualties available on-line report the casualty figures as between 17 and 19,000 (and John Rose states tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians).


    August 26, 2010 at 10:25 pm

  258. Sorry to go back again to the Cambodia issue, but I am doing some (very superficial) research for a post I am trying to write about this.

    John Pilger last year made the following claims:

    “In 1983, the Thatcher government sent the SAS to train the “coalition” [i.e. the CGDK, which included the KR] in landmine technology – in a country more seeded with mines than anywhere except Afghanistan. “I confirm,” Thatcher wrote to opposition leader Neil Kinnock, “that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them.” The lie was breathtaking. In 1991, the Major government was forced to admit to parliament that the SAS had been secretly training the “coalition”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/21/cambodia-human-rights-john-pilger

    “Only Oxfam defied the Foreign Office in London, which had lied that the Vietnamese were obstructing aid. In September 1979, a DC-8 jet took off from Luxembourg, filled with enough penicillin, vitamins and milk to restore some 70,000 children –all of it paid for by Daily Mirror readers who had responded to my reports and Eric Piper’s pictures.http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2009/10/26/beyond-the-imagination-of-mankind-115875-21773935/

    Can anyone give me another source confirming (or indeed contradicting) these claims?


    August 26, 2010 at 11:09 pm

  259. On those Lebanese casualty statistics.Its worth emphasizing that after the war itself the occupation continued…and so did the casualties. There are figures of upwards of 30,000 dead if the time line is moved forward to 1987. I have not seen the figures if the time line is moved forward to the withdrawal from southern Lebanon. It is of course true that I should not respond to Michael’s absurd provocations. But these are years of devastation for a whole society and there is something bitterly obscene about these games and this cheap revisionism. Its not as if John Rose can’t take care of himself. The dead however have no one to speak for them.


    August 26, 2010 at 11:25 pm

  260. I actually remember the Daily Mirror campaign. So I’m pretty sure that’s true. No reason to dispute the first story but I can’t remember it.


    August 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm

  261. johng states the following:

    I would suggest you check the figures for the 1982 conflict with the International Red Cross who estimate something like 17,000 civilian dead. Its a loose estimate though as bodies kept turning up.

    He does not give a source for this claim. One wonders why. Is it possible that it is another fictitious claim or from a non reliable source?

    johng adds in a later contribution:

    All the references to casualties available on-line report the casualty figures as between 17 and 19,000 (and John Rose states tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians).

    Again, johng has not bothered providing some links. One suspects that his links are not from particularly reliable sources and he knows it.

    I suspect that what johng is referring to is the figure of 17,825 deaths that was published in Al Nahar and data from a number of places including the International Committee for the Red Cross was used to obtain this estimate. Utilising the relatively decent article in the Washington Post (September 3, 1982) about this estimate, the deaths were not solely civilians but included military deaths. Nor were the deaths solely of Lebanese people as it also included, for example, deaths of PLO troops. It is an aside that the The Library of Congress report available on line gets it wrong as it uses the same report but states that the 17,825 deaths are solely Lebanese. The Al Nahar survey itself makes it clear that the deaths include Syrian and Palestinian deaths. (See both the Washington Post report of September 3, 1982 and William V. O’Brien, Law and Morality in Israel’s War With the PLO, [Routledge, 1991] p.185.)

    Incidentally, O’Brien, in my previous reference notes that Richard A.Gabriel carried out extensive enquiries as to the amount of civilian deaths. He published his conclusions in his book Operation Peace for Galilee (Hill & Wang, 1984). O’Brien (p.185) states: “When Gabriel proposed the figure of 10,000-12,000 civilian casualties in the siege, the consensus of those whom he consulted – a wide range from many perspectives – was that it was too high, that 4,000-5,000 civilian fatalities was more likely accurate.”

    In any event this still does not justify John Rose’s claim that “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion.”

    As to johng’s argument about the “time line” this is simply a red herring. John Rose was specifically referring to the 1982 Lebanon war as anyone reading page 160 of his book could tell. (Not that I am advising anyone to bother reading such an unreliable book.)

    johng also claims that I “continue to deny the responsibility of Israeli forces failing to prevent the massacre of innocent women and children by their allies the phalangists…”

    This is of course fiction by johng. What I have done is demonstrate that it was not just Israel who killed peopled in Lebanon in 1982 but the Phalangists also killed people. The reason for this is that John Rose explicitly stated, “Israel killed….” He did not say “Israel and Israel’s phalangist allies killed… ” or who might have been killed by the PLO etc. I am quite familiar with the Kahan Commission Report and what it states. There is no reason for me to deny this.

    It is also a myth by johng that I am “utterly unconcerned whether any of these things happened or not” and that I am only concerned with whether those that he claims I support emerge with credit. What I am concerned with is the truth and proper reporting. Similarly johng is wrong when he claims that I am “mocking the dead in Lebanon.” This is not something that I would do. I do not see why johng feels the need to exaggerate the deaths apart from to attempt to justify John Rose’s sentence for which I have already shown it seem that he fabricated a footnote.

    But here is the key point that johng has totally evaded. johng is totally opposed to the idea of the State of Israel existing, he thinks it should never have been created and wants to see it wiped off the map. (He might say that he wants to see a democratic secular state of Palestine or some other euphemism, but in practice, he means that he wants Israel wiped off the map.) Because of this stance, it actually does not matter what Israel does do or does not do short of dissolving itself as johng is opposed to the State existing and as such can only criticise Israel.

    johng claims to be a supporter of the Palestinians but this is a myth. johng is simply a supporter of the Palestinians only to the extent that the Palestinians agree with the political stance taken by his own party. For example, the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 by Yassir Arafat, on behalf of the PLO and Yitzhak Rabin on behalf of the State of Israel. Did the SWP ever support this? This is what the PLO, the self-declared “sole and legitimate representatives of the Palestinians” had agreed to. Of course the SWP did not support this. As I said, support for the Palestinians by the SWP only extends as far as the Palestinians agreeing with the SWP. The SWP are an unprincipled and hypocritical party.

    Michael Ezra

    August 26, 2010 at 11:34 pm

  262. First of all Michael John Rose did not mention civilians. He talked about Lebanese AND Palestinian people. Those who fight Israeli aggression are people to. Michael once again gives no reason for his belief that the Washington Post article is ‘relatively decent’. Does he perhaps mean the Washington Post shared his perspective on the conflict? (I’m reminded of Wittgenstein’s philosophical remark about the kind of person who checks if stories are true by reading different copies of the same newspaper). I did not supply the link because I was looking for the original Red Cross Report. Obviously it was compiled before the age of the internet which does not mean it does not exist, anymore then the Israeli invasion of Lebanon for that reason did not happen. In any case it matters not as Michael has revealed himself to be a first class twit by supplying figures which reveal he is wrong without realizing that they do so. Mainly apparently because he does not regard Palestinians as people and did not notice that John Rose referred to people and not to civilians. Given that the IDF is notorious for its rather elastic beliefs about the distinction in any case (and particularly in that conflict) the article which does guesstimates (based on what?) about the proportion of civilian to military casualties doesn’t sound that decent by any objective criteria. Michaels idiocy in pretending that I don’t know the Phalangist’s killed people proceeds from a campaign which began after Sharon returned to political respectability again. There had to be a softer nicer version of the Kahan report (which at that time most thought exiled him from active politics forever. It was of course a disgrace that the ghastly old murderer wasn’t prosecuted). The IDF shared responsibility for those murders as anyone who looks in detail at both the Kahan report and anyone who knows anything about the very close operational links between the Phalangists (and other militias like Major Haddad’s) going back to the beginnings of Lebanons civil war would know. And once again there is no evidence that I have exaggerated the casualty figures and no evidence that John Rose has. They are in line with all the statistics available on the net and some of the ones that Michael himself has quoted. As to my position on Israel its very hard to know what it has to do with this discussion. Michael have you considered that your wierd ideas about what those who support solidarity movements with the Palestinians are warping your perspectives on the world a little? It may be that uppermost in your mind was proving what you fondly imagine I #really think# takes over from any discussion of what people actually think, say or do, and probably takes over from any objective assessment of more important things: like exactly what Britain and the US did in Cambodia and exactly what the casualty rates were in Lebanon. Your very strange obsession with what the SWP is or isn’t in the context of this discussion reveal only that you are a complete and utter political crackpot. We were discussing rather more important things.


    August 26, 2010 at 11:52 pm

  263. Sorry, not the Daily Mail bit (definitely true), but the Foreign Office lying to claim Vietnamese interference in aid delivery.

    Just watching Pilger’s harrowing Year Zero documentary on YouTube. Was rather disappointed to see him uncritically quoting Norodom Sihanouk blaming Nixon and Kissinger being the cause of the Khmer Rouge – rather smacks of self-justification on the Prince’s part, given the completely compromised role he had. Weakens rather than strengthens Pilger’s case.


    August 26, 2010 at 11:56 pm

  264. I dunno Bob to be honest. Although it doesn’t sound that implausible. Its the grubby way of shamefacedly going along with whatever the Americans are doing which was a specialty of the Foreign Office during that period. Of course these days things are more transparent.


    August 27, 2010 at 2:46 am

  265. Incidently Michael is it true that your a hedge fund manager? Could you lend us a few quid?


    August 27, 2010 at 2:56 am

  266. All that stuff about the left and how hateful they are seems rather explicable now. Do you think you should declare an interest? I mean your extraordinary enthusiasm for a system which allows you to make enormous amounts of money whilst doing nothing socially useful is surely now much easier to understand.


    August 27, 2010 at 2:58 am

  267. Bob from Brockley,

    You should be very careful what Pilger writes on this subject. “Very substantial” libel damages were paid when he made a similar claim:

    Pilger sued over Pol Pot claims

    Robin Young

    The Times, July 4, 1991

    THE journalist John Pilger was sued for libel damages in the High Court yesterday over a television documentary accusing the British of giving military assistance to Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge guerrillas in Cambodia.

    Mr Pilger and Central Independent Television are contesting the action brought by two men who claim the programme, Cambodia: The Betrayal, broadcast last October, accused them of being members of the SAS who trained Khmer Rouge rebels in mine-laying.
    Their counsel, Geoffrey Shaw, QC, said that this meant Christopher Geidt and Anthony De Normann ”were as guilty of the murder and maiming of innocent civilians as is the Khmer Rouge itself”. The programme was seen by 2.2 million people.
    The hearing continues today.

    Pilger TV libel case settled

    Robin Young

    The Times, July 6, 1991

    TWO men who claimed that a television documentary accused them of being SAS members who trained Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge to lay mines, accepted ”very substantial” libel damages in the High Court yesterday.
    Christopher Geidt and Anthony De Normann settled their action against the journalist John Pilger and Central Television on the third day of the hearing.
    Their counsel, Geoffrey Shaw, QC, said the terms provided substantial damages with all costs.
    Desmond Browne, QC, for Mr Pilger and Central Television, said his clients had not intended to allege the two men trained the Khmer Rouge to lay mines, but they accepted that was how the programme had been understood.
    A second libel action, brought by the two men against Ann Clwyd, shadow minister for overseas development, was also settled. They accepted a public apology from Ms Clwyd who had written to the prime minister last October after the programme calling for a public enquiry. Ms Clwyd referred to meeting two men in Cambodia whom she understood to be former SAS members, and released her letter to the press.
    Her counsel, James Price, said she had also agreed to meet all their legal costs in the action taken against her.

    Oliver Kamm has also commented upon this.

    Contrary to the words from Pilger, the government trained the KPNLF and the Sihanoukists and were not lying.

    On Aid

    From the time that the Khmer Rouge took control in Cambodia 1975 until late August/September 1979, international aid agencies had been shut out of the country.

    Contrary to the claims of Pilger, the government were not lying when they said that the Vietnamese were obstructing aid. The issue was that the Vietnamese Quisling government wanted to obstruct any distribution of aid to Cambodians living near the Thai border in the Khmer Rouge controlled region. They refused to allow aid where they were not controlling the distribution. And as such the new government refused aid from both Red Cross and UNICEF. Oxfam agreed to the conditions.

    On November 5, 1979, Kurt Waldheim, the then UN Secretary General specifically noted that there were substantial problems of getting aid into Cambodia.

    Rather than placing all the blame on Britain and the US as Pilger, a pro-Vietnamese Partisan, has attempted to do, one should look at the politics that the new Cambodian government and the Vietnamese were playing. Flora McDonald, the Canadian Foreign Minister, had a point when she told the UN special conference that was discussing aid in New York on November 5, 1979, that “The Vietnamese government … must stop playing politics with the very lives of millions of people.”

    (See Wilfed Burchett, “Cambodia Gets Aid,” Guardian, August 25, 1979; Nick Davies,”Oxfam to send aid to Cambodia,” Guardian, September 12, 1979; Stephen Cook, “Renewed Call for Aid to Cambodia,” Guardian, September 28, 1979;David Beresford, “Appeal for urgent aid to Cambodia,” Guardian, October 16, 1979; “Cambodia opens Mekong to Western aid shipments,” Guardian November 6, 1979.)

    I would not advise anyone to rely upon the work of John Pilger in this area.

    Michael Ezra

    August 27, 2010 at 10:40 am

  268. So they trained the rebel government allied to the Khmer Rouge? And the Vietnamese government becomes a ‘quisling’ government: quisling was a Norwegian collaborator with the Nazis: it seems a very strange word to use about a government which had just ousted the Khmer Rouge regime and faced the remnants of that movement allied to the movement recognized as the government by Britain, the US and China etc (a poke in the nose to the Russians allied to the Vietnamese?). And the vietnamese would not allow aid into the area controlled by this government allied to the Khmer Rouge and this was the pretext for not allowing aid to go to the rest of Cambodia which had been liberated from the Khmer Rouge? Sounds like a bit of a rum do to me. But I’d be a bit careful dealing with governments capable of this kind of behavior so your probably right to warn Bob to be cautious.


    August 27, 2010 at 11:02 am

  269. johng is more slippery than a snake with the way he evades points and brings up straw men.

    Consider the following. In his contribution of August 26, 2010 at 11:52 pm johng states, “John Rose did not mention civilians. He talked about Lebanese AND Palestinian people.” But the reason I mentioned civilian deaths in my earlier contribution of August 26, 2010 at 11:34 pm was not because of what John Rose had said but because of what johng had said. It was he who had mentioned civilians! See his contribution of August 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm: “Lebanese people were not the only civilians in Lebanon.”

    johng is also attacking me for using the Washington Post of September 3, 1982 and saying that it was a “relatively decent” article. What he is ignoring is the main figure discussed by that article was the Al Nahar figure that was a Lebanese source of the amount of deaths! johng is also ignoring the fact that it was not me who first mentioned that specific article on this thread, but Louis Proyect in contribution to this thread of August 24, 2010 at 7:20 pm. It is even more ridiculous for johng to criticise me for using the Washington Post given that the reason I started using that newspaper to look up this information was because it was precisely th Washington Post that John Rose had used as a reference for a paragraph where I could find nothing in the newspaper for the date provided by Rose justifying anything he said in that paragraph.

    It is simply astonishing that johng can state: “there is no evidence that I have exaggerated the casualty figures and no evidence that John Rose has.” Let us recall that the high figure given for deaths and johng has found no other source that he can claim to be reliable with a higher figure is the Al Nahar figure of 17,825. This figure includes deaths of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian people. The reports that I have read about this statistic do not give a breakdown of who did the killings. Under no circumstances does this justify John Rose’s exaggerated claim that “Israel killed tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians during its invasion.” Moreover, as I have shown, the only reference that John Rose provides for the paragraph where he makes that claim does not provide support for that claim.

    I do have to admit that I did find it amusing that johng, a supporter of SWP, a party that backed Iraq in the Gulf War of 1991 has called me “a complete and utter political crackpot.” Perhaps johng should look in the mirror to see where a political crackpot can really be found.

    Michael Ezra

    August 27, 2010 at 11:32 am

  270. Britain was involved in training the KPNLF which was anti-Communist. It was also a Cambodian organisation as opposed to puppets for the Vietnamese. A number of organisations got together to form the CGDK including the KPNLF, the Khmer Rouge and FUNCIPEC (Sihanoukists). This was in opposition to the Vietnamese. While they were both in the CGDK, the KPNLF were opposed to the Khmer Rouge.

    The Vietnamese wanted to control which people got the aid. They did not want Cambodian population,many of whom were starving, in the area close to the the Thai border, to receive such aid and as such blocked aid that was designed for everyone in Cambodia from both UNICEF and the Red Cross. The Vietnamese government was playing silly politics and should not have done so.

    Meanwhile, one must not forget that the KR was a Marxist party. They were responsible for the deaths of approximately 30% of the population. And all this was because they sought to get to a higher level of Communism. Both the SWP and the KR use same texts from Marx to base their ideology. Not just in Cambodia,but also in Mao’s China and in Lenin and Stalin’s Russia, where a Communist system has attempted to put in place, millions of people have been killed.

    One should be grateful that the SWP are insignificant and are in no place to be a vanguard that will lead the working class (actually themselves – mainly middle class) to power. For if they got in power one wonders how many people that they would kill.

    Michael Ezra

    August 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    • Is this most asinine comment ever?

      Re SWP: “For if they got in power one wonders how many people that they would kill.”

      One wonders if Michael Ezra ever passed his CSE (grade D) in Advanced Trotskyist Studies (with special Woodwork option) in vain.

      Andrew Coates

      August 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

  271. What is silly about it Andrew. The SWP hardly care about human life do they?

    Was it not Trotsky who said the following?

    As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the ‘sacredness of human life.’

    Perhaps you wish to dispute the authenticity of this quotation as well? Before you do, you might wish to check Trotsky’s Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky (New Park Publications, 1975), p. 82

    Michael Ezra

    August 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm

  272. […] His has been the intellectual rock-star trajectory, as typical of its time as practising chords for those with musical ability and then heading up from the dirty clubs to the stadiums.  It’s the Byronic swagger of our day, and you would have to be a leftist saint not to envy it. At Oxford, Hitchens was getting the political gigs and his first proper shag was with a groupie who had pinned photos of him on his wall.  For a full analysis of his place in the left political scene, I would read Andrew Coates’s piece here. […]

  273. Which is why Michael you should read this, a European democratic Marxist (in Trotskyist terms a ‘centrist’) critique, both positive and negative, of Trotsky.


    Andrew Coates

    August 31, 2010 at 11:37 am

  274. johng

    August 31, 2010 at 7:46 pm

  275. Back to who they might kill. An SWP supporter, Richard “Lenin” Seymour, has written a blog post entitled, “Tony Blair must die.” I assume they would also kill everyone associated with New Labour along with him, and perhaps all New Labour supporters. But why stop there, “Lenin” says of Tony Blair in his post, “Few British leaders apart from Margaret Thatcher have been so completely loathed.” I assume therefore that Margaret Thatcher and the whole Tory right could be up for execution. I wonder if SWP members go to rifle ranges to train for the day when they can put their plan in action.

    Michael Ezra

    September 2, 2010 at 6:23 pm

  276. No. Its not us who are responsible for illegal invasions and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. I think Tony Blair should be given a fair trial.


    September 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm

  277. Tony Blair must die.” Is that what you call “a fair trial”? If you have a similar idea to what is a fair trial to that of Andrey Vyshinsky, you might well.

    Michael Ezra

    September 2, 2010 at 7:04 pm

  278. Actually Vyshinsky could have learnt a few techniques from you Michael. HP. The blog whose ‘facts’ will land you up in court if you are foolish enough to rely on it for information.


    September 2, 2010 at 10:06 pm

  279. Oh yes. Revolutionary socialist, before they overthrow bourgeois democracy and start killing people en masse, like to utilise the bourgeois courts to silence their opposition. How disgusting.

    Michael Ezra

    September 2, 2010 at 10:38 pm

  280. Er no. The people you malign and mount hysterical campaigns of hatred against are mainly not socialists but Muslims. The spectator made the mistake of treating the politics of hatred represented by Harry’s Place as a serious source. Hence they ended up in court. Your recent attempt to extend this campaign of hatred and witch hunting to socialists and even liberals excites only amusement.


    September 3, 2010 at 6:58 am

  281. I don’t “malign and mount hysterical campaigns of hatred” against anyone,but on that subject, I have noticed that since I have started commenting on this thread that Andrew Coates has ran three posts attacking me personally. The posts I write for Harry’s Place, in case you had not noticed, do not tend to be against “socialists” but against “revolutionary socialists” and I rarely write,or even comment, about Muslims. This is another lie that you have told.

    This can be compared to the SWP,who according to the Spartacist League had members that assaulted other revolutionary socialists. Moreover, only recently, Andrew Coates, who runs this blog, alleged that SWP members had threatened him. Quite disgraceful and shame on the SWP. Shame, shame, shame.

    Michael Ezra

    September 3, 2010 at 7:48 am

    • Since you accused us on the left of being in league with Gulag supporters Michael it is hardly surprising that you get attacked.

      I happen to have agreed with the initial premis of Harry’s Place, which was to provide a space for those prepared to criticise Islamism and defend universal human rights.

      We are anti-Stalinist Marxists and if you get into the claim that we are responsible for Stalinism, well.

      “Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l’attaque, il se defend”

      As for some local SWP tiff, with one person, well, I could tell you I’ve been threatened by a lot worse.

      I for one am the subject of interest for Red Watch.

      Andrew Coates

      September 3, 2010 at 10:32 am

  282. Andrew,

    If you support Lenin and his record, then you would support the Gulag since the Gulag was started was started under Lenin’s watch. This is made absolutely clear in Anne Applebaum’s Pulitzer Prize winning account, Gulag: A History.

    Michael Ezra

    September 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

    • I am not a Leninist.


      Coatesy’s Hall of Leftist Fame (and Honour).

      Rosa Luxemberg. Three things stand out. Her utterly uncompromising defence of democratic freedom – against all comers. Her activism on behalf of the power and ability of ordinary people to organise and decide for themselves. And Rosa’s brilliant contribution to Marxist theory. Murdered by Fascist Freikörps backed by German Social Democrats. Our greatest Martyr.
      Jean Jaurès. A founding democratic socialist Jaurès combined ethical idealism, French republicanism, internationalism, and undogmatic Marxism. In 1914 shot by a nationalist. Paid for his anti-war campaigning with his life.
      Andreu Nin – Andrés Nin. Leading figure in the Spanish POUM. Independent Marxist and anti-Fascist fighter, defender of the Republican cause. Tortured to death under the supervision of Stalin’s NKVD.
      Antonio Gramsci. Leader of young Italian Communist Party. Imprisoned by Mussolini until his death. Active supporter of workers’ councils, and theorist of hegemony.
      Emma Goldman. For her love of life, her free spirit, and her contribution to the cause of liberation. Loathed by bullies: from the USA’s plutocrats to the bureaucrats of Soviet Russia.
      Now for some more recent people.

      Michalis N. Raptis (‘Pablo’). Innovative Marxist who developed out of Trotskyism into a backer of self-management. participated actively in the Algerian Revolution, and backed Third World Causes before this became fashionable.
      Alain Krivine. The living embodiment of the best in European Marxist activism.
      Evo Morales. A real Latin American leftist leader. From his work in the Indian communities of Bolivia to the mines and urban centres, Morales is a democrat and a socialist who’s got his feet on the ground. Not his head wrapped in self-promotion and glorious deeds.
      Aimé Césaire. Poets are the ‘unacknowledged legislatures of the world’. One of the greatest, he helped bring ”Third-world’ culture to the World at large.
      Any ideas for a tenth?

      Andrew Coates

      September 3, 2010 at 10:42 am

  283. hhmm.. Perhaps you are not, but the SWP are.

    Regarding Harry’s Place, my main interest were the alignment of the left, or at least sections of the left such as the SWP, with Islamists. Nick Cohen expressed many of my own views far more eloquently than I could myself in his wonderful 2007 book, What’s Left?

    Michael Ezra

    September 3, 2010 at 10:56 am

  284. My own Hall of Fame would include Irving Howe, Sidney Hook and Lionel Trilling. In his latter years, Max Shachtman was also quite interesting.

    Michael Ezra

    September 3, 2010 at 11:11 am

    • Trilling’s The Middle of the Journey is callow.

      In case you hadn’t noticed Michael this site is European.

      This Blog is called Tendance Coatesy – a play on the French words for tendency and trendy.

      I am deeply part of European leftism.

      I first heard of the beloved Rosa when I was a teenager, from my parents, who like their parents, were European socialists.

      That is to say they were truly British (and partly Irish), and therefore European.

      I heard the name of Jaurès at about the same time.

      And so it goes.

      I was not even aware of the existence of Shachtman until about ten years ago.

      I can assure you that the European left couldn’t give a toss about the people you cite.

      Andrew Coates

      September 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

  285. Andrew, its worthless trying to have a rational argument with him. He is only interested in vindicating his ideological views and pre-suppositions.


    September 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    • Ah, but we’ve vexed him….

      Andrew Coates

      September 3, 2010 at 1:37 pm

  286. Andrew,

    I find it interesting how you dismiss American intellectual so readily. Strictly speaking, Shachtman, who you are proud you had not heard of, was European as he as born in Poland. But if you insist on those with lengthier roots in Europe, then try Leszek Kolakowski, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and George Orwell. For someone more recent, try the works of the French historian, Stéphane Courtois.

    Michael Ezra

    September 3, 2010 at 12:53 pm

  287. Have you ever noticed any different kinds of responses to your writing?


    September 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

  288. “He only does it to annoy because he knows it teases.”

    I write on French politics which is a subject I know well. I also am aware for certain that the views I convey are taken seriously.

    They are not intended to vex but to build support for a European left political strategy.

    Which might not be yours Johng.

    Andrew Coates

    September 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm

  289. oh sorry. for some terrible reason I thought it was michael ezra I was responding to. fulsome apologies.


    September 3, 2010 at 3:25 pm

  290. Hilarious!

    Michael Ezra

    September 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm

  291. the one thing you have to admire is ezra’s razor sharp wit…


    September 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm

  292. Oh what great fun I had hear. They don’t make blog post arguments like they used to…

    Michael Ezra


    March 29, 2022 at 4:43 pm

  293. oops – here!


    March 29, 2022 at 4:44 pm

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