Monday, 16 February 2015

UK supplies Saxon APCs to Ukraine which promptly sells them

There are times when even Jonathan Swift's sense of satire would be silenced by reality. After a lot of huffing and puffing by the "Arms for Ukraine Now!" neo-cons like General Sir Richard "Helmand" Dannatt over the weekend ridiculing Britain for only supplying Saxon Armoured Vehicles, a Kiev-based company is already offering them for sale! For the specifications:   http://vt-group.com.ua/p28119645-saxon-at105-4x4.html. But remember it is a cash-only transaction (NO Western Union or ProCredit drafts) on the normal terms offered by Kameron, Klegg & Krony (Kyiv) Ltd.


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Saxon AT105 4x4 тактическая полицейская машина

Saxon AT105 4x4 предназначен для проделывания проходов в заграждениях, подъема и перемещения грузов, растаскивания завалов и других операций, необходимых для обеспечения действий Внутренних войск в городских условиях при проведении специальных операций по пресечению массовых беспорядков


Кроме того, Saxon AT 105 оборудован приспособлением для отстрела гранат со спецсредствами, системой жизнеобеспечения экипажа, пожарно-техническим оборудованием, раздвижной лестницей, дополнительным электрооборудованием и электрооборудованием специальных систем (системы внешнего освещения, громкоговорящей установки, радиосвязи и видеонаблюдения) Возможна установка отвала для разрушения брикад.
Выдвижные бронированные с бойницами панели для спецназа. Водяная пушка повышенного давления.

Saxon AT 105 создан на базе известного БТР ΜAMBA сочетает лучшие качества легковых автомобилей и бронетранспортеров. В наследство от армейского прошлого ему достался сварной бронированный кузов несущего типа с V – образным профилем днища для минной стойкости. 

В активе Saxon AT105:

-сварной бронированный кузов с круговой защитой класса B7, том числе и стекол 
-V образный профиль днища для защиты от противопехотных и противотанковых мин
-мощный дизельный 8,2 литровый мотор мощностью 205 л.с. 
-автоматическая коробка передач
-внедорожное шасси 4х4 с блокировками дифференциалов 
-удобный и вместительный салон на 10 человек или 2 тонны груза
-боковые ящики ЗИП создают дополнительную защиту
-все оборудование находиться внутри защищенного отделения
-башенка кругового обзора с возможностью эвакуации 

Силовая конструкция машины несущего типа сварена из листов бронированной стали с рациональными углами наклона для улучшения баллистической защиты. Броневая сталь гетерогенного типа с поверхностной цементацией и вязким основанием. Saxon AT105 4x4 Инкассатор оснащен боковой дверью и задними 2-х створчатыми дверями. 
Развитое V-образное днище с дополнительной защитой успешно противостоит минам и фугасам. Машина оснащена 6 смотровыми приборами из многослойного поликарбоната с уровнем защиты В7. Колеса пулестойкие. Бензобак протектированый взрывозащитный, пулестойкий. Полная защита от любого ручного-автоматического оружия при выстрелах в упор с малого расстояния.

Двигатель с трансмиссией компактны и находиться внутри отделения и соответственно защищены по полному классу. Радиаторы системы охлаждения защищены лабиринтной броней. 
Система полного привода 4х4 с пониженным рядом в раздаточной коробке передач и блокировками межколесных и межосевых дифференциалов. 


В комплектацию входят Saxon AT105:
-покраска в цвет и логотипы заказчика
-кондиционер
-приточная вентиляция фильтрующего типа
-автономный отопитель двигателя и салона
-переговорное устройство салон-улица
-крепление оружия 
-система пожаротушения 


Дополнительное оборудование Saxon AT105:
-Водяная пушка повышенного давления
-система кругового видео обзора с выводом информации на ЖК
-оборудование для ночной езды
-система постановки дымовой завесы
-вентиляция изолированного типа
-обшивка кевларом салона
-дополнительна светотехника
-передний отвал или заградительная решенка повышенной жесткости
-планировку салона по индивидуальному заказу

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Oxford Honours Blair with his own College




Passers-by along Woodstock Road on Saturday, 14th February, 2015, were delighted to see that Oxford University's long love affair with Tony Blair had been consummated on St. Valentine's Day by the re-naming of St. Antony's College in his honour.



Ever since Tony Blair dazzled the assembled scholars with his Romanes Lecture in March, 1999, with  his stimulating and complex argument, "Education, education, education - That's what I'm about" which echoed around Wren's Sheldonian like no ideas before, despite being otherwise preoccupied preparing to bomb Yugoslavia on the basis of "the best intelligence available at the time", Britain's most entrepreneurial prime minister since Walpole has seemed the kind of intellectual colossus to give Oxford the reputation for Shock & Awe that the University's provincial past left it sadly lacking.

But it has taken sixteen long years for slow-witted dons to immortalise their greatest graduate in stone - or to be precise composite, concrete and steel.

Originally founded by an arms dealer, Antonin Besse, who had a strong claim to have facilitated more deaths in the Middle East than any other College benefactor before Tony Blair, ex-St. Antony's makes the natural scholarly forum for Blair studies. The soon-to-be completed Blair Building designed by the exciting and innovative Baath-Likud Partnership will combine elements of the architecture close to the patron's heart. Above ground, a striking glass exterior epitomising Blair's commitment to open government will provide a dramatic sound-proofed covering  for the padded and double-locked underground Enhanced Tutorial Room in which elite students will be able to learn some of Tony Blair's innovations in intelligence gathering and peace-making.

Visitors are welcome to come and see the newest Oxford College as soon as possible before Tony Blair's popularity requires the installation of reinforced concrete bollards, steel security fences, and non-transparent smoked bullet-proof screens around the site.

CCTV and drone surveillance are for your own security and the tranquillity of the scholars working in the bunkers beneath St. Tony's College.  Photography not allowed - except by College security (provided by Mukhabarat & Mossad plc as quid pro bono service).

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Turks won’t do the West’s dirty work & Beware our allies in MidEast as much as IS enemy

From The Daily Telegraph (9th October, 2014)

Turkish military intervention against Isil in northern Syria looks like a neat solution to the West’s dilemma in dealing with the threat from jihadi terrorists. In London, Washington and European capitals we want to destroy Isil – but without getting our feet dirty. Boots on the ground are taboo for President Barack Obama and David Cameron, so all eyes are turning to our old ally in Ankara to solve the problem. As a neighbour to both Iraq and Syria, our leaders ask themselves, hasn’t Turkey got a direct national interest in stability across its borders?
What’s more, with Nato’s second largest army, Turkey could easily strike a deadly blow against Isil in what is no-go terrain for her Western partners. But for days the serried ranks of Turkish tanks have been marshalled a few hundred yards from the bitter fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani, like Stalin’s Red Army outside Warsaw in 1944. Despite repeated pleas for action from John Kerry, Ankara’s troops remain spectators to the crisis.
Kobani is a Kurdish town. That’s the nub of the matter. Kurds, both in Turkey and across Europe, have been demanding action: the Dutch Parliament has been besieged by Kurdish-led protests (which were promptly followed by the Dutch Air Force joining Nato attacks on Isil in Iraq); meanwhile, as many as 14 Kurds have been killed in confrontations with the Turkish police. But still Ankara watches and waits.
The reasons are clear. For Turkey’s Nato allies, Isil is the problem and arming the Kurds part of the solution. For Turkey, however, Kurdish ambitions for a state are a mortal threat. Nor do Sunni adversaries of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria want to see a Kurdish state carved out of their country. And the reality is that, although a long-term Nato ally, Turkey has been diverging in key respects from its Western allies since 2002.

For 12 years, Turkey has been ruled by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has its roots in an Islamic reaction to the tide of secularism that swept the country after Ataturk abolished the Ottoman caliphate 90 years ago. Ironically, since being elected president in August, AKP leader Recep Tayip Erdogan has achieved a political dominance unparalleled since Ataturk’s death in 1938. But Erdogan is the antithesis of modern Turkey’s father-figure.
Ataturk wanted to distance the new Turkey from the Ottoman Empire’s involvement with Arabs and Muslims. Europe is the future, forget the past was his motto. Yet neo-Ottomanism is the grand name of Erdogan’s foreign policy today. Although AKP leaders have publicly remained loyal to Turkey’s application to join the EU, the lure of religious solidarity with Sunni Arab movements from Hamas in Gaza to the Muslim Brothers of both Egypt and Syria has had a stronger emotional pull.
Since 2011, when the civil war began in Syria, Erdogan has called for the fall of Assad, an Alawite ally of Shia Muslims, and backed Sunnis in Syria who are no friends of the local Kurds. For those Kurds, the Turkish president’s demand that they subordinate themselves to his Sunni allies in Syria if they want the Turkish Army to advance south has been an unacceptable ultimatum. They are well aware that Sunni fundamentalist violence against Kurds in Syria predates 2011. Isil’s actions today have simply exaggerated it.
All of which is further complicated by the fact that the sectarian splits brutally on display in Syria and Iraq, are festering below the surface in Turkey, too. Roughly a quarter of Turks are Alevi Muslims, with the majority Sunnis. Although scholars remind us that Turkey’s Alevis should not be confused with Syria’s ruling Alawites, the AKP has routinely dismissed Erdogan’s critics as sectarian Assad-lovers, so that poisonous confusion does exist. Turks of Alevi background, including in the army, find intervention in Syria against Isil fundamentalists one thing; but pushing on to Damascus against Assad’s Alawite regime quite another.
That might be one reason that Erdogan has been slow to act in Syria. But given his almost messianic sense of mission, which has overcome every obstacle on his way to the pinnacle of power, it is more likely that he’s pursuing another strategy – bargaining with the West.
What will he be demanding in return for a decisive Turkish strike at Isil? He is sure to insist that Kurds remain not only stateless but also defenceless. Meanwhile, will European members of Nato swallow their opposition to Turkish entry into the EU? Even so, without being allowed to replace Assad with a Sunni regime not in the least friendly to Kurds, Erdogan still may not act.
His is a tempting offer, though. Turkish military intervention would solve the West’s immediate problem while avoiding discontent over casualties in Britain and the US. But any Turkish action would, in effect, be unilateral. Ankara – not Washington or London – will dictate the outcome of this diplomatic dance. For though the Isil problem might well disappear under the weight of Turkish firepower, the Middle East’s snake-pit of conflicting rivalries will remain. Will Israel, for instance, be happy to see allies of Hamas brought to power in Damascus by Turkish troops?
We must be clear about this deal. Leaping at the possibility of crushing Isil, and quickly, via Ankara, will seem cause for celebration today. After the party is over, however, we will wake up with a new Middle Eastern headache.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11148908/The-Turks-wont-do-the-Wests-dirty-work.html
                -------------------------------------------- 
On 27th September, 2014, The Mail on Sunday  published:
How can we win this war when our allies despise everything we stand for?: recent experience of building democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq is not encouraging."

No government could refuse the challenge after the bloody provocations of Islamic State. But having decided by a huge majority to embark  on what David Cameron warned would be a long campaign, the House of Commons vote on Friday did not make clear what the endgame would be.

Without knowing what victory will look like, have we embarked on a war we cannot win?

Our model of victory is what happened at the end of the Second World War when the West successfully established democracy in defeated Germany and Japan.

But recent experience building new democracies from faction-ridden Afghanistan to disintegrating Iraq is not encouraging.The US Army thought it had kept George W. Bush’s promise to bring democracy to Iraq. But ‘winner takes all’ at the polls in countries riven by bitter religious rivalries means democracy has a sour taste for losers.

Things went wrong in Iraq despite the presence of so many US and British troops and billions of dollars in aid, training and equipment.

Now David Cameron tells us to ‘forget’ the last Iraq war. This time things will be different. No ground forces. Just air power to back up local and regional allies who share our hostility to IS.

That all seems straightforward enough. The enemy is obvious, almost a caricature of evil. But though knowing your enemy is vital in war, knowing what your allies’ real aims are is equally important. 

It is our allies who frighten me almost as much as IS.

On the ground, the West has friends who have daggers drawn with each other. And they have contempt for our values.
Even leaving aside the oil-rich Arab despots who have signed  up for the anti-IS campaign for their own reasons, inside Nato, its key regional member, Turkey, is not fully on board.
Turkey borders both Iraq and Syria and has Nato’s  second-largest armed forces after America.

But precisely because Turkey is right in the thick of the Middle East, its government has a very different take on the crisis.
In London and Washington, the Kurds of the region seem natural allies against the common IS enemy. Arming the Kurds to fight the jihadis seems a neat way to get local boots to do the fighting on the ground in Northern Iraq and Syria.

But to Turkey, Kurds are not natural allies.

With so many Kurdish people living in Turkey itself, Ankara fears arming Kurds to fight IS today will provide them  with the weapons to fight for independence from Turkey tomorrow.
Given how much expensive American weaponry fell into IS hands earlier this year as the Iraqi Army disintegrated, is Turkey unreasonable to harbour suspicions that defeat of IS by the Kurdish Peshmerga guerrillas could be the signal  for a well-armed war for independence by its Kurds?

But the Islamic-led Turkish government has been drifting away from the West in any case. President Tayyip Erdogan has been a vocal critic of Israel and his open border policy to Syria has let foreign fighters, including hundreds from Britain, flow into the ranks of the jihadi forces fighting the Assad regime, but also taking Western aid workers hostages.

Syria’s civil war is key to the crisis. But there, too, Western values and the West’s allies are  in conflict.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours say they support the American-led alliance but they don’t want the victory of Western democracy in the Middle East. What we see as the best way to guarantee a future for peace and freedom, our Arab allies see as a mortal threat.

The Sunni fundamentalist monarchs tolerated their rich subjects funding IS-style  jihadis to fight Assad and other allies of Shia Iran, which they hate and fear.

But when upstart jihadis like the self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, began to get too big for their boots, the ruling sheikhs were happy to join in cutting him down to size.

But promoting democracy, human rights, respect for women and religious minorities are not their war aims.

Chaos breeds enemies like IS. It is not the solution.

If anarchy is the problem, and democracy doesn’t take root easily, is dictatorship the answer?
Given how unsavoury and unreliable some of our allies in the Middle East are, it is remarkable how reluctant Western leaders have been to  join up with the regimes of Syria or Iran, who have very good reasons of their own for hating and fearing IS.
David Cameron, like Barack Obama, has pronounced Assad beyond the pale. So it looks like the West is undertaking a three-sided war in the Middle East, fighting Assad and his allies as well as his enemies.

This may be consistent, but is it wise?

If the West isn’t prepared to cooperate with the forces fighting IS in its main strongholds in Syria, then mission creep by our troops seems inevitable.
A case exists for special forces operations against specific targets, like ‘high value’ IS targets or safe houses where hostages are held.

But large-scale deployment of Western soldiers on the ground would be an admission of failure.

This is a war which we cannot win for the locals. Maybe they can’t win it for themselves. Barring a lucky strike which knocks out the IS leadership and demoralises their supporters, air power is not going to produce rapid results.

Nobody should anticipate a Victory in the Middle East Day 1945-style.

The crimes of IS give us the right to fight it, but the war cannot be won by the West without local support.

Tragically for us, the enemy and our dubious allies will decide the terms of victory or defeat.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Arab governments alarmed by crackdown on British Summertime protests

AliBababa News Agency (10.30 am Mekka/ 10am GMT) –

“Londonistan in Flames – People overpower Bourgeois Police State.”

Londonistan – The bourgeois minority regime of Cameron, Clegg and Crony has been shaken by widespread People Power demonstrations across Britain for a third night running. Summertime protests have sent a chill wind of hope through Britain's long repressed people. "Fear of the police has gone," dissident youth leaders claim. "It's a free for all society now or never."

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has broken his silence by warning the regime not permit rioting to reach Saudi sovereign territory in the Mayfair district of the British capital and to introduce reforms at once. Other world leaders have joined the chorus of condemnation of the increasingly isolated Cameron clique. The Syrian foreign minister, Walid Haged, has welcomed the joint condemnation of Cameron's regime by the Arab League and African Union and suggested the UN Security Council should authorise all necessary means to stop repression by regime thugs of the street protests. Analysts expect the ban on heroin exports to Britain announced jointly by Afghanistan and Burma could add to the pressure-cooker atmosphere in Britain which is 100% dependent on narcotics imports.

The regime has pinned its hopes for international legitimacy on next year's Londonistan Olympic Games which were controversially awarded to bourgeois Britain despite signs that its economy was overheating and popular anger against the regime rising. Threats of a boycott by the highly-regarded Omani-burka clad beach volley ball team could be a humiliation too far for Cameron's clique.

Reports of foreign interference in the British crisis have been rejected by expert analysts. Instead domestic tensions are seen as the only cause .The Yemeni professor of protestology, Bahce Kewi, explains "The ruling Consumerist Party finds that thirty years of its strict ideological dominance has not bred a docile youth. Young people are aware of a cyber-world beyond Britain where values like free access to the internet are normal. They can't wait to join the cashless society and get their hands on stuff for nothing."

Rejecting the empty slogans “You Can’t Buck the Market” and “There is No Alternative,” indignant youth across Britain have stormed the ruling regime’s local headquarters setting fire to symbols of Consumerist dominance and removing telecommunications and internet monitoring equipment from branches of the feared Curry’s organization in towns across the country.

With unverifiable but plausible reports of more than a thousand deaths in the Arsenal district of north Londonistan where a crowd estimated at a million strong overwhelmed the hated Met riot squads to occupy the Consumer Electronic Outlets Center, its seems likely that the popular protests could spread from the simmering suburbs even to previously loyal uptown areas like Kensington and Cholsey where many regime supporters have their luxurious barricaded villas.

Recognising the growing unrest, the secular Consumerist regime has tried to ban the traditional hoodie and mask outfit worn by the nation’s discontented youth as a rejection of the tie-less suit-wearing “official” style. This has only inflamed the mood of desperation in the capital’s teeming suburbs like Cronydon, where uncollected garbage is piled up for two weeks at a time.

AliBaba’s reporters are not allowed into Britain but using social networking sights and videophone images uploaded via MagiKarpit internet portal, our team of experienced journalists supported by expert analysts have put together a clear picture of the crisis in Britain.

Analysts report that the British regime’s claim to democratic legitimacy masks the reality that it is drawn from the minority bourgeois tribe, and especially from the Etonian clan with its headquarters west of London overlooking the country’s main airport at Heathrow.

Dissidents inside Britain as well as reform-advocates outside the country at the Damascus-based British Underground Liberty League have provided international media with 24/7 updates via Foxglove and the Gaggle-website Rumors with an exhilarating insight into a popular uprising by brave young people in their millions who have exposed the hollowness of the Consumerist ideology.

The regime’s own media like the Bourgeois Broadcasting Corporation try to portray the popular protests as outbursts of criminality and refer to the occupations of Consumerist branches as looting, AliBaba’s satellite channel has been able to contact one Twitteringham resident via Blackberry outside a “liberated” shopping center. To protect his identity, Alibaba is calling him “The Finger.” Using a brand-new handset to outwit secret police surveillance, The Finger told Alibaba that “We ain’t dun nuffin wrong. The doors was open and we are protecting the property in our own way.”

This kind of spontaneous organisation at grass-roots level has baffled the previously all-powerful Consumerist regime. Unable to rely on the Army for crowd control because of the large Oik majority in the ranks, the bourgeois regime is floundering as its levers of power no longer react to commands.

Desperate measures are being used in some areas according to reliable tweets. The sinister silence of veteran bloggers like the Mosside community organiser, The Spliff, shows the extremism of the hardliners according to human rights observers who are increasingly concerned that Manchester's failure to rise in revolt alongside nearby Liverpool suggests that the regime's widely-reported use of chemical weapons there is true.

Expert analysts suggest that deep-seated socio-economic resentments are at the root of the protest movement as a tiny elite is suspected is ripping off state revenues to fund lavish lifestyles at the expense of the People. Corrupt bourgeois-run banks have been bailed out with billions taken from the country’s oil revenues while queues of the unemployed waiting for famine relief outside hospitals wait for months on an end for the chance of a drip-feed.

Fears of a sectarian split in Britain have also been voiced by some foreign academic observers. They point out that shops owned by the widely-hated bourgeois minority were attacked across the country and fear that if the Cameron regime fell, then isolated bourgeois communities could face copy-cat revenge attacks for their decades of profiteering at the expense of the long-suffering people.

Signs of internal dissent within the Consumerists have been detected. Defections from the regime have been reported. The finance vizier, George Osborne, has been sighted in California where Alibaba’s internet sources suggest he has stashed the regime’s gold reserves. Meanwhile Defence Minister, Liam Fox, is in Spain, though the regime insists that he remains loyal and “is directing operations from his hotel.” However, the fact that the Prime Minister’s own wife, Samantha and children have been flown to safety in Italy suggests that David Cameron himself is not confident of the regime’s survival.

Increasingly isolated, Cameron and his fellow Etonian clan member, Boris Johnson, who runs the City, have turned to the snakeheads of the regime, the so-called COBRA group. [COBRA = Coordinating Bourgeois Reaction Army – AliBaba editorial] Along with the Specials, a bourgeois militia who form the regime’s Reactionary Guards, COBRA are threatening to flood the streets of Britain’s cities with merciless politically-correctional “volunteers.”

With the stock-market in free fall and international sanctions in the offing, the economic basis of the Consumerists’ ability to buy off protest and pay off loyalist thugs masquerading as policemen and Specials is waning fast.

Banning popular sports like soccer threatens to put more youth onto the streets while formerly regime-backing footballers like David Beckham have gone into exile in Los Angeles rather than play the beautiful game in a Wembley stadium converted into a make-shift prison.

If Consumerism falls in Britain how long can it last in its hardline center, the United States, is a question being asked by analysts. Despite its clandestine nuclear weapons programme and mercenary militias called Contractors, even Washington’s hold over its own long-suffering people looks shaky. With flash mobs reported in Philadelphia and Newark, the ayatollahs of Wall Street are having to devote all their security resources to protecting the bourgeois heartland.

This leaves Cameron's dictatorship desperately exposed. The British regime’s only hope to keep the masses off the streets for a fourth night of protests is the weather forecast. Loyalists are praying for a rain of terror to come in from the Atlantic coast and keep the people power movement indoors. God-willing the cloud of Consumerism will be lifted from the long-suffering Britons before the end of Ramadan.

AliBaba Breaking News - Britain's puppet-parliament recalled for emergency session. After decades of docility rumors of a Westminster Palace putsch are spreading as are reports of a new tough state security law. Cameron says Olympic Games to go ahead over dead bodies.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

NATO helps Gaddafi look Libyans in the eye

After Buckingham Palace was bombed by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz, the present Queen’s mother is supposed to have said, “Now we can look the East End in the eye.” In a war any sense that the rulers are immune to the risks and privations affecting ordinary folks is damaging to their leadership. Britain's royal family was grateful to Hitler for targeting their palace. Colonel Gaddafi must be feeling the same after NATO killed his youngest son and three grandchildren late on Saturday night.

His spokesman emphasised that the “Brother Leader” now shared the sacrifices made for forty days and forty nights by other Libyan families. By missing the Colonel and killing the kids, NATO has given the Colonel a huge boost just as trouble was growing on the Tunisian front as well as carrying on in Misrata and in the east beyond Brega. The man who outlived Reagan’s onslaught in 1986 has done it again.

Only the perverted predatory mentality of NATO’s target-selectors could locate a harmless son of Gaddafi as well as his children, and then think it was a smart move to kill them. It would be bad enough if this blunder was simply what some Nevada-based geek-in-uniform assumed would make a neat kill, but it is obvious that frustration with the failure of Gaddafi to fall after a few cruise missile strikes six weeks ago has led the NATO leaders to think that de-capitation is the way out of the war which they launched with gay abandon.

Until 30th April, the logic of NATO’s air campaign was to concentrate its fire on Gaddafi’s foot soldiers while endlessly repeating the demand that the Colonel and his sons leave Libya. This seemed a crude ploy to get ordinary Libyans to ask why their boys were dying while the Gaddafi clan were unharmed. Splitting your enemy is a time-honoured tactic in warfare. Instead of wearing down Libyan morale and undermining the regime’s legitimacy by leaving the Gaddafi clan free to chat to Western channels, while ordinary soldiers died, NATO has given Gaddafi’s clan a blood bond with its supporters.

Generals are often accused of fighting the last war. The humanitarian bombers are repeating the propaganda from their Kosovo intervention in 1999. Mass murder, government organised rape camps with mercenaries fired up on Viagra, and so on are the staples of Washington’s increasingly hysterical denunciations of Gaddafi as it turns out that his family has more support than the glib proponents of hellfire missiles as humanity’s preferred way to protect civilians would have had us believe.

The UN Security Council resolution 1973 made not distinction between the obligation to protect unarmed civilians in Libya. But NATO's interpretation is that Gaddafi’s civilian supporters are collateral damage under the guise of “command and control centres” in short trousers.

No strategist in their right mind would do what the witches sabbath of Hilary Clinton, Susannah Rice and Samantha Powers has cooked up for fighting Gaddafi. But the male chorus in this tragedy is no more worthy of respect. Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron are the new Bill Clintons as promiscuous in their use of high-tech weapons as he was, only not yet caught in flagrante with an intern. Attributing rational military motives to these posturing humanitarian warmongers in Washington, London and Paris is obviously a mistake. They clearly live on another planet from the humanity whom they claim to protect.

Maybe they hope to draw the Gaddafi family out for Saif al-Arab’s funeral. Remember the Western elite is devoted to The Godfather. It is the template of their style – look at the hoods who surround them for security and the black-windowed armoured limousines in which they travel – as well as their international policy-making. As Francis Ford Coppola demonstrated on celluloid funerals make a good place to eradicate rival clans. Their advisers will have told them that Arab culture requires a public burial with father and brothers in attendance. Vultures used to haunt desert graves, now predators hover above them.

Just as George W. Bush deliberately sought to exterminate the male members of Saddam Hussein’s family in Iraq, killing not only his odious sons but other junior members of the clan as well as executing the former dictator, so now the same logic is at work in the Obama-Cameron-Sarkozy mindset. Of course, the mirror-image of that familicidal mentality would be for a Libyan to target Queen Elizabeth and her sons, grandsons and other male relatives, all in uniform for the wedding of Flight-Lieutenant Wales on 29th April. Michelle Obama and the kids live in America’s command-and-control HQ and mobile missile-launching communications accompany her husband even when he is spending quality-time with his daughters so they are collateral damage in-waiting by Dad’s definition. As for Carla Bruni…

The Duke of Wellington rounded on an officer at Waterloo for suggesting that Bonaparte was within range: “Generals of armies have more important things to do than shoot at each other.” But since then Obama-Cameron-Sarkozy axis has rewritten the rules of war: family members are now fair game. When it comes to decapitating a regime, the kids are included too.

No normal person would wish the families of Western leaders to face the kind of brutal evaporation which their fathers and power-moms direct at humanity’s enemies, but the West itself is no longer ruled by people with normal humane values. The rhetoric of humanitarian war blinds them to any common humanity with anyone on the enemy side of whatever age or infirmity. Who can doubt that a colour-blind and morally-blind person would see no reason to spare the Cameron kids if firing on Downing Street anymore than Cameron baulks at sacrificing Gaddafi’s grandchildren?

Little wonder, the royal newly-weds’ honeymoon was suddenly cancelled on Saturday. So much of William and Kate’s nuptials was choreographed around their parents’ and grandparents’ weddings that it was a fair guess that like Princess Elizabeth and Philip they were going to fly to Malta to start their honeymoon before going on to Kenya where three generations of Windsors have enjoyed cementing their relations. Malta is too close to Libya for comfort and Kenya’s Muslim minority might not be too friendly to a serving NATO officer.

William Wales has been put in the firing line not only by his uniform but by his prime minister. David Cameron could defend himself by saying that he has willingly put Sam Cam and their “kids” at risk for the humanitarian cause but instead tried to weasel out of his responsibility by denying that NATO was targeting Gaddafi and sons. It is peculiarly distasteful that our humanitarian warriors want to claim the credit for their high-sounding motives but never to carry the can for the blood shed in pursuit of them. Their inability to take responsibility is the worm gnawing away at any remaining naïve public faith in their sincerity.

Ironically, Gaddafi would have been regarded as the embodiment of bombastic mendacity without rival until Sarkozy, Cameron and the Nobel Prize-winning predator Barak Obama opened their mouths to explain their actions. Suddenly the Colonel has serious rivals for the status of least credible statesman of the age. Is there any indictment of these gentlemen’s humanitarian bloodletting than that a Libyan government spokesman’s account of the death of three children is more credible than their sleazy denials, obfuscations and shifting of responsibility? The proponents of humanitarian intervention constantly insist that they want an end to political leaders using force with impunity. Doesn’t making rulers responsible for civilian casualties begin at home?

Of course, Tony Blair’s Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, explained after Kosovo, there is no question of Western leaders going to Hague for any innocents killed by their order. Command responsibility did not apply to them. The “end of impunity” is for weak wogs, not nuclear-armed fops like Cameron, Sarkozy or Obama. But that reality of power can only fuel the rage of people belonging to lesser races subject to international law. Terrorism not freedom is the likely outcome of NATO’s stupid determination to make a martyr of Gaddafi. Sadly, with their armoured cars, blast-proof walled homes and swarms of security hoods, any anti-Western terrorism will not hurt the Western elite. Only little people will pay the price of our rulers’ folly. From Pakistan to the shores of the Mediterranean the predator has become the promoter of terrorism not its nemesis.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Libya - 100 Years of Bombing, or Is Fascism the Forgotten Root of Humanitarian Intervention?

The celebrations of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Italian unification in March, 2011, were overshadowed by the crisis in Libya. Coinciding with Italy’s birthday, Silvio Berlusconi’s government decided to make seven air bases available to NATO allies for the bombing of Colonel Gaddafi’s forces.

By coincidence, this was one hundred years since the Italians invented aerial bombardment and initiated its practice precisely over Libya. A century later, the bomber returns to the scene of its bloody birth. Clio seems to take a perverse enjoyment in ensuring that history repeats itself, first acting as imperialism then as humanitarian intervention, without even needing to change the stage-set.

On 1st November, 1911, Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti dropped the first bomb from an aeroplane. According to the Ottoman authorities it hit the military hospital in Ayn Zara in the Libyan desert. The Italians strongly denied targeting an installation protected by the Geneva Convention. Modern aerial warfare and the propaganda battle which has accompanied it ever since was underway from the start.

Lt. Gavotti’s four bombs were modified hand grenades, but soon the Italians had learned how to drop incendiary bomb and shrapnel bombs – what we would now call cluster munitions.

The initial impact of aircraft overhead was alarming and disorientating to the forces below. Panic spread as an airplane engine was heard approaching. But soon enough the Turks and Arabs below learned the limitations of aerial bombardment and their terror subsided. The Italians decided that they had to increase the terrorising effect of their bombing and strafing to keep the enemy on the run. The Italian pilots also realised that fixed targets like villages or oases were easier to find and strike than mobile guerrillas.

The British Arabist, G.F. Abbott who was with the mixed Turkish-Arab forces resisting the invasion noted that they soon recovered from their fear partly because bombs which fell into the sand tended to explode harmlessly. But he added, “The women and children in the villages are practically the only victims, and this fact excited the anger of the Arabs.”

Antagonising the civilian population was an unfortunate side-effect of the bombing which became a major factor in turning the Italian invasion into a protracted counter-insurgency.

When the idea of occupying Libya as a fiftieth birthday present to themselves was turned into practice in September, 1911, Italians were assured of a quick victory there. They were told that the Ottoman Turkish regime was thoroughly hated by the Arabs living there and that a warm welcome could be expected for the soldiers bringing civilization and liberation from the Sultan’s tyranny. To use modern parlance, Italians were encouraged to expect a cakewalk. The media assured the soldiers, “Arab hostility is nothing but a Turkish fable.”

Gavotti’s dropping of the first bombs in history barely a month into the campaign was evidence of how quickly the Italians realised that things were not going to plan. Resistance in the main cities like Tripoli was quickly crushed but in the great expanses of territory even the 100,000 troops deployed by Italy were not enough to regulate a thousand-mile-wide country stretching deep into the Sahara. The newly-invented airplane offered a way of displaying Italian power across vast swathes of land which were in effect controlled by local Arabs who preferred the Muslim Turks to the Christian Italians – not least when the Italians preached civilization via shrapnel bombs dropped from a few thousand feet.

The alleged cruelty of local Arabs and Turks towards captured Italian soldiers was one of the justifications for the widening use of reprisals from the air and on the ground in Libya. In a fight against uncivilized folk like them the rules of war could be suspended. But the Libyans proved harder to terrify into submission than Rome anticipated.

Nevertheless, on 9th November, 1911, the Italian government declared victory, even though the war was only just beginning. With the mission far from accomplished, the war was vastly more costly than Italians had expected. Characteristically, the prime minister, Giovanni Giolitti, lied to Parliament in Rome saying the war had cost 512 million lire. That was a huge figure given that the War Ministry’s last annual peacetime budget was only 399 million lire. But in reality off-balance sheet accounting hid another billion lire in costs of the war against the Ottoman Empire over Libya. As for the human cost, 8,000 Italians were killed or wounded. No-one counted the Arab dead.

Although the Italian elite had economic aims in occupying Libya wrapped up in nationalist and civilizational rhetoric, oil was not the Italian motive. Only at the end of the Fascist period was any serious exploration undertaken which indicated that oil lay beneath the desert. Libya’s first major oil strike was outside Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte in 1959. At the end of thirty years of Italian rule, salt was still Libya’s main export. Italians were fed the idea that Libya would return to being the bread basket of the Mediterranean as it had been under the Roman Empire. Few in 1911 seem to have realised that the desert had spread over the Roman fields and cities long ago.

As the war dragged on enthusiasm in Italy waned but the newspapers and instant books of the day record how united the opinion-makers were in support of the war at its opening shots. Above all, there was admiration for the airmen dealing death from the sky. The cult of the pilot soaring across the sky while clinically disposing of a dot-like savage foe below was born.

The greatest living Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzion immediately sought to immortalize Lt. Gavotti’s act in his Canzone della Diana. (A few laters in the First World War, D’Annunzio would take to the skies over Vienna and drop leaflets threatening bombs to come.)Giovanni Pascole sentimentalised the feats of Italian pilots as the Libyan war passed it first Christmas in La Notte di Natale. The Futurist, Filippo Marinetti, took the air over Libya itself to urge Italian soldiers below to fix bayonets and charge.

Everybody seemed to support the invasion at the beginning. The great philosopher and future anti-Fascist, Benedetto Croce declared –apparently without irony - that occupying Libya was a worthy birthday gift to Italy on the fiftieth anniversary of its unification. The 1907 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, E.T. Moneta, became the first – though by no means the last recipient of the dynamite fortune’s largesse – to anticipate Barak Obama's faith in aerial bombardment as a tool of progress for humanity and therefore declared it was not against his pacifist principles. The Catholic hierarchy had been hostile to the secular not to say Masonic Italian political elite but it endorsed Giolitti’s crusade in Libya with as much enthusiasm as its predecessors had backed the original version over eight hundred years earlier. The meeting of the poetry scholars of the Dante Aligheri Society on 20thSeptember, 1911, broke up with cries of “To Tripoli!”

It was not only Italian proto-Fascist intellectuals like D'Annunzio and Marinetti who swooned at the thought of a pilot soaring high over the desert dealing death to savages below. Sweden's Gustaf Janson described the intoxicating sense of unbridled power and of the pilot's impunity in action against primitives below whose air defence was incapable of revenging their casualties: "The empty earth beneath him, the empty sky above him and he, the solitary man, sailing between them! A feeling of power seizes him. He was flying through space to assert the indisputable superiority of the white race. Within his reach he had the proof, seven high- explosive bombs. To be able to sling them from the heavens themselves - that was convincing and irrefutable."

A few Italians protested the naked aggression. It was left to the extremist Socialist newspaper editor, Benito Mussolini, to make the most unconditional rejection of the war. He was arrested after dismissing the national flag as a “rag to stick on a dunghill” in a speech denouncing the war in Forlì.

This was a stark contrast with the attitude of the ex-Marxist in power as Duce of Fascism after 1922. The airplane and the destructive power it could project enthralled Mussolini the Fascist as it had repelled Mussolini the Marxist. He declared that the airplane was “the first Fascist.” He became a born-again bomber.

Mussolini’s rejection of Marxism and his embrace of the thrill of ultra-modern war was simultaneous. Almost as soon as he came to power, Mussolini was taken up for his first flight by the war ace, Mario Stoppiani, who described the Duce’s “enthusiastic delirium” with the experience. Then he learned to fly (and to the alarm of his more pedestrian ally, Hitler, would take charge of the controls of planes with the timid Fuehrer on board.) Until George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin has there been a political leader who piloted himself so publicly?

The airplane was also used to suppress his opponents: Mafia bosses and Libyan tribal chiefs would be taken for a one-way flight out over the Mediterranean and pushed to their deaths in the sea below.

Mussolini developed the use of air power to repress rebels in Libya and eventually broke their resistance after almost twenty-five years occupation. In Ethiopia he took his war for civilization to new depths. Fascist Italy announced it would abolish slavery there but first it had to conquer the natives. The exiled Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, described to the League of Nations how the Italians used crop-spraying techniques designed to kill insects to poison his people. Mussolini’s regime made no bones about its methods and did not hide behind cant about having “no reports of civilian casualties.”

Flying Fascists became the order of the day as Mussolini became expansionist in the mid-1930s. His eldest son, Vittorio and his son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano, took part as pilots in bombing Ethiopia.Mussolini’s son, Bruno, wrote a lyrical description of what it was like to watch Ethiopians explode like petals when he dropped his bombs among them.

Bertrand Russell saw Bruno Mussolini's evocation of air power's immaculate ability to destroy puny humans as embodying the reality of the modern totalitarian regimes, but worse still of a future world controlled from the air. Russell asked, "If one could imagine a government that governed from an aeroplane... wouldn't such a government get a completely different view of its opposition?" Russell feared that a regime of air power would "exterminate" any resistance or dissent. He thought the bomber rendered mass conscript armies redundant and highly-skilled mercenaries would replace them willing to do the bidding of their masters rather being part of the people: "“We seem now, through the aeroplane, to be returning to the need for forces composed of comparatively few highly trained men. It is to be expected, therefore, that the form of government, in every country exposed to serious war, will be such as airmen will like, which is not likely to be democracy.”

But the Italian Fascists were to discover that air power was a two-way street. Libyans and Ethiopians could not declare “no fly zones” over Rome or bombard Florence, but after 1940, the British then the Americans could.

Italian pioneering efforts at air warfare were widely admired and imitated. Fiorello La Guardia was trained to fly by Italian instructors after the United States entered the First World War in 1917. The American pioneer of bombing, Billy Mitchell, recognised Italy’s role as an air power pioneer and became an admirer of the Fascist regime, calling it in 1927 “one of the greatest constructive powers for good government that exists in the world today.” Like Mussolini’s air chiefs, Mitchell was a moderniser who got left behind by the pace of change: he agreed with the Fascist airmen that aircraft carriers had no future.

In Britain, too, there were close links between Fascism and flying. Lady Houston, who funded Supermarine’s embryo Spitfire to compete in the Remy Schneider Flying Trophy also offered £200,000 to the British Union of Fascists led by flying enthusiast Oswald Mosley – so her contribution to defeating Fascism was greater than the effect of backing the British Union of Fascists – aspects of the patriotic myth which are omitted the Leslie Howard film First of the Few (1942).

Even today there is the odd, even erotic, irony that Mosley’s step-granddaughter, the glamorous model Daphne Guinness is amorously linked to Bernard-Henri Levi, the chief French exponent of bombing as the path to freedom in Libya – a strange misalliance between the Repubblica Salo and the République Sarkozyste, or a reconciliation of a false dichotomy?

But whatever the role of other countries in pioneering air flight or even Fascism, Italy can fairly claim to have got both off the ground. It put the warplane in the sky soon enough with a Fascist at the joy-stick. Giulio Douhet was the first serious strategist of bombing. Although he backed Mussolini, Douhet’s career as a practitioner of airpower was stymied in Fascist Italy by rivals with better party credentials.

One of the few dissenting voices in 1911 belonged to a schoolboy in Ferrara who would become the second most famous Fascist after Mussolini not least for his flying exploits. Then the fifteen year old Italo Balbo broke with the nationalist atmosphere and published an article denouncing the invasion of the territory which he would come to rule after 1933 as Mussolini’s viceroy. But in the meantime Balbo became Italy’s own Charles Lindbergh – a celebrity pioneer aviator who criss-crossed much of the globe to demonstrate the new Fascist regime’s commitment to the most modern manifestation of power – the airplane.

Back in 1911 like Mussolini, Balbo was an odd man out. Of course not every future Fascist opposed the war. Sergio Panunzio, for instance, remonstrated with the young Balbo for publishing an article against the pro-war consensus: “Why? To go against the grain, against reality, against the government.” Panunzio anticipated the classic Fascist argument that right was made by the might of media opinion and the might of state power.

Italians were to be proud of pioneering military aviation in the cause of civilization. In 1911, Italians achieved a series of aerial firsts: the first night flight, the first aerial photograph, the first aerial bombing – and the first plane to be shot down. Some pedants pointed out that if balloon-launched explosives were included then it was Italian territory which was the first target of bombing as far back as 1849. Then the Austrians besieging rebel Venice sent balloons filled with explosives drifting across la Serenissima which crashed onto the Austrian troops on the other side causing the first casualties of aerial friendly-fire. The governor of Libya, Balbo himself, fell victim to friendly fire when his three-engined plane was shot down by his own anti-aircraft forces at Tobruk on 28th June, 1940. In 1941, Bruno Mussolini was also killed testing a new plane. The airplane was beginning to eat the Fascists and the nation which gave birth to its military role.

Rejecting any romantic nostalgia for the days of one-on-one fighter-pilot duels in the First World War, Balbo was the proponent of launching “hundreds and hundreds” of planes into the sky in future wars. Mass attacks were to be the Fascist approach to aerial warfare – but Mussolini’s regime was stronger on intimidating bombast than putting resources into such a vast expensive programme. It was the democracies who built and deployed the first fleets of heavy bombers.

As the Second World War progressed, northern Italy was especially badly hit by bombing as the Allies advanced to drive out the Germans and destroy Mussolini’s Salo regime. Leaving aside the human cost, the cultural losses were enormous. Buildings like La Scala in Milan or the Bramante church housing Leonardo’s Last Supper in its miraculously unscathed refectory could be rebuilt but the works of art in them like the Mantegna fresco of the Life of St. James in the Ovetari Chapel in Padua were lost when shattered by Allied bombs.

The impact of the Second World War left Italians deeply suspicious of getting involved in warfare, let alone bombing former colonial territory. In 1999, Italy broke the tabu. Led by ex-Marxists, the Italian government accepted the use of their country as the main launching ground for airstrikes on Serbia over Kosovo briefly part of Mussolini’s inglorious new Roman Empire (1941-43). Fishermen in the Adriatic still moan about the risks of falling victim to NATO ordinance dumped in the sea. But now a regime with “post-Fascist” participation competes with the post-Marxists to justify Italy’s renewal of war over Libya just in time for the centenary of a Italy as the mid-wife of aerial warfare.

On this morbid anniversary, the crusade for civilization then has become a crusade for human rights today. The machinery of the contemporary crusaders may be faster than the bi-planes of 1911 and the bombs are certainly vastly more explosive, but the unanimity of the politicians and media across the West are a strange echo of Italy’s echo-chamber of mutually reinforcing propaganda from the men in power and men of the press. But today there isn’t even a Mussolini in parliament or the media to oppose air power as a force for progress!

Sources

Italians have written extensively about the war for Libya in 1911 and the invention of aerial bombardment by their fellow countrymen. Useful English sources include:

Richard Bosworth, Italy and the Approach of the First World War(Macmillan: London, 1983), Azar Gat, A History of Military Thought from the Enlightenment to the Cold War (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2011), Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction. Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War(Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2007), Sven Lindqvist, A History of Bombing translated by Haverty Rugg (Granta: London, 2001), Bertrand Russell, Power with an introduction by Kirk Willis (Unwin, 1938, reprinted by Routledge: London, 1995), Dan Segre, Italo Balbo: A Fascist Life (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1987), David Stevenson, Armaments and the Coming of War. Europe, 1904-1914 paperback edition (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2000), and John Wright, The Emergence of Libya: Historical Essays(Society for Libyan Studies: London, 2008).