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honestlyAbroad
Posts tagged "Iran"

Facing Mirrors: Trans*, Marriage and Honour

Facing Mirrors: Trans*, Marriage and Honour

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by Huma Munshi

Facing Mirrors (2011) is a Farsi film which tells the story of young trans man, Eddie, as he struggles to escape a family who are forcing him into marriage so that they may maintain their family ‘honour’. One of the most poignant films that I’ve seen on honour-based oppression, Facing Mirrors  juxtaposes an oppressive culture with a legal framework that not only allows gender…

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A Mark Fiore political animation. "All painful death options are on the table of flaming hellfire with the fork of vengence for your eye"

News-in-a-Nutshell is back, this time looking into the latest Middle East nuke scare. Find out all about those irrational theocrats who are trying to control a nuclear arsenal. 

Today there are more than 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world (over 5000 of which are deployed, the rest stockpiled). The majority are held by the United States and Russia. Other countries: the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and possibly North Korea, are also nuclear-armed. Many of the nuclear weapons held around the world have hundreds of times more explosive power than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 which completely destroyed the city and killed around 140,000 people.  Nuclear weapons have no legitimate purpose; nor would their use be legal (civilian casualties are unavoidable), they are also genocidal and utterly immoral. When confronted with any of today’s real security threats nuclear weapons are irrelevant: they cannot address climate change, poverty, hunger, overpopulation, non-state armed groups or terrorists, and they are useless against pandemics such as AIDS or avian flu.  Not only do nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately but the radioactive fallout from their detonation means that their effects know no geographical boundaries. Immediate survivors in the vicinity of any nuclear exchange face devastating long-term ill effects or death. Research shows that even a so-called ‘small exchange’ of 50 nuclear weapons could cause ‘the largest climate change in recorded human history’ and potentially could kill more people than were killed in the whole of the Second World War.As long as there are nuclear weapons in the world there is always the danger they will be used, whether by accident or intention.
Nowruz No War (Iran)
Even a cursory glance of the media would seem to show a situation of an ongoing crisis with Iran and impending war. Young gamers are already playing in virtual invasions of Iran and Iranians are commonly shown as brutal savages.  Meanwhile real covert operations are taking place, ordinary Iranians are suffering the consequences of ever more brutal sanctions and politicians talk not so much of whether violence should be used, but rather what kind of violence might be more “useful”: further sanctions, further assassinations, backing local terrorist groups such as MEK and Jundallah, bombing or even full scale invasion.The assertions of a crisis are vague and often based upon hearsay amplified by political leaders and sensationalist journalism. Unless checked they may become a self-fulfilling prophecy as tensions heat up.Sanctions against Iraq took a horrendous toll on the civilian population, during the 12 years between the 1991 Gulf War and were in many ways merely a softening up prior to the Iraq Invasion of 2003.  Already Iranian civil society, and with it the chance for genuine indigenous progress on human rights and democracy is being weakened by sanctions, threats of war and the spectre of covert operations.
IN 1968 Iran signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, in practice signing up to produce/use nuclear materials for domestic purposes only. They are now having tlks internationally about their Nuclear programme lets hope this continues and is not derailed by agitators.
In the minority  The desire for global abolition of nuclear weapons is strong internationally. Many countries have signed treaties to make large areas of the world into nuclear weapons free zones. These cover Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America and Africa; 180 non-nuclear weapon states have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - they don’t possess nuclear weapons and their safety does not depend on owning them. The UK is one of only a handful of states that has nuclear weapons.  Our choice to re-arm, instead of disarming, through the decision to replace our current Trident nuclear weapons system, is a signal to the rest of the world that we believe our security depends on weapons of mass destruction. But the same argument could be used by any country in the world. It is not impossible that the UK should decide to rid itself of nuclear weapons as required by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Four countries — South Africa, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have already done so. In so doing, we would be complying with our obligations to disarm under the NPT, contributing to progress towards multilateral disarmament, and helping to create a climate where states turn away from nuclear weapons altogether.
 
The United States has been developing an extremely expensive weapons system over several decades now generally termed ‘Missile Defense’. Previously this system – coming to prominence under President Reagan in the 1980s - was commonly referred to as ‘Star Wars’ because of its plan to use satellites and missiles which travel through space. In its latest version, the US is now involving Europe in this system via the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and claims it will protect the US and its allies from attack by missiles.
 
An Offensive system which encourages an arms race
Contrary to US claims, this system (consisting of missile bases and radar stations across the world and including sea-based components) will allow the US to attack other countries in a first strike capacity without fear that they will be able to effectively attack back because such a retaliation would be neutralised by the system. In other words, the US Missile Defence system is offensive. Having such a weapons system inevitably leads to an arms race as other countries feel pushed to level the balance of power and threat by developing their own competitive missile defence systems or weapons systems that might overcome the US system.
US Missile Defence helps the US achieve a strategy of global military dominance, that is control of land, sea, air, space and information. In 2002 the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, signed with Russia, in order to further develop the system.
UK on the front line
The UK allows bases at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in Yorkshire, which operate outside British law and parliamentary scrutiny, to be crucial components of the system. In doing so our country becomes complicit in the US military agenda and Britain is put on the front line in any future US war.
A potential aggressor could seek to destroy US Missile Defence facilities in Europe in the context of an imminent war with the US. During Bush’s presidency the plans sparked controversy and increased tension with Russia. Continuing development of the system remains a bone of contention between the two countries and does nothing to help efforts towards reduction of the enormous numbers of nuclear weapons each country still has.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance of 28 countries from North America (Canada and the US) and Europe (26 states, including the UK).  The alliance was formed in 1949, with member states Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States. In the 1950s Greece, Turkey and West Germany joined. Spain joined in 1982. Two waves of NATO expansion happened after the Cold War with Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joining in 1999, and Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia joining in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined in 2009. Read our briefing on NATO expansion and the destabilisation it is causing. Although ostensibly set up as a defensive organisation, in 1999, its mission statement was rewritten to allow for offensive action across the Eurasian landmass. Part of the NATO military strategy is a dependence on nuclear weapons.
 
Hundreds of US NATO nuclear weapons sited in Europe  As part of NATO’s armaments, between 150 and 240 US nuclear weapons are sited in five European countries - Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Turkey. The weapons are B61 gravity bombs, which will be carried to their destination by aircraft. B61s are described as tactical nuclear weapons - they are widely defined as being more usable in the battlefield and have a variable explosive power between 0.3 and 170 kilotons (the Hiroshima atomic bomb had an explosive power of around 15 kilotons). The use of just one would cause enormous and indiscriminate loss of life, massive destruction and poisonous radioactive fallout.
Breaching the NPT  NATO’s nuclear policies conflict with the legal obligations of the NPT signatories. Although Articles 1 and 2 of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) forbid the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon states, NATO’s nuclear weapons in Europe are located in non-nuclear weapons states. Most of the US nuclear weapons in Europe would also be flown to their targets by the host countries’ own air forces. The US argues that the treaty will no longer apply in wartime, but maintaining nuclear weapons means that all NATO states (except France) are involved in preparation for their use in peacetime. First use  NATO has rejected a policy of ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons. This means that the alliance would be prepared to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. The UK’s own rejection of a no first use policy is also linked to NATO’s policy – as former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon stated in 2005, “A policy of no first use of nuclear weapons would be incompatible with our and NATO’s doctrine of deterrence, nor would it further disarmament objectives.”
 
UK nuclear weapons assigned to NATO  The UK is required, under the terms of the NPT, to take steps to achieve nuclear disarmament. Instead, the UK’s nuclear weapons system has been assigned to NATO since the 1960s; a replacement for Trident is also likely to be NATO assigned. Ultimately, this means that the UK’s nuclear weapons could be used against a country attacking (or threatening to attack) one of the NATO member states since an attack on one NATO member state is seen as being an attack on all member states. Potentially, since the 1999 rewrite of NATO’s mission, they could also be used outside the NATO area in a first strike capacity. 
Withdrawal of nuclear weaponsMap of UK nuclear facilities and sites with nuclear waste in storage (courtesy of CoRWM)
 In June 2008, a nuclear weapons expert reported that around 100 US nuclear weapons previously stored at the United States Air Force base at Lakenheath in Suffolk had been secretly removed. In accordance with NATO policy the UK government neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such weapons or their removal. But it is widely accepted that US nuclear weapons had been stationed in the UK since 1954. At Lakenheath they were ready and available for rapid deployment on US F-15 ‘Strike Eagle’ aircraft. The UK had no control over their use.  This welcome reduction in the numbers of US nuclear weapons in Europe comes after the previous withdrawal of weapons from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany in 2005 and from Greece in 2001. CND believes that a vital step towards global nuclear disarmament would be achieved with the removal of all US nuclear weapons from European bases. Britain should also withdraw from NATO, and all foreign military bases on British soil should be closed. NATO should not be expanded but should be disbanded and the influence, resources and funding of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) extended towards a nuclear free, less militarised and therefore more secure Europe.
 
CND opposes all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction: their development, manufacture, testing, deployment and use or threatened use by any country. 
The external strategic objectives, as decided by delegates to our annual conference, are: 
Elimination of British nuclear weapons and global abolition of nuclear weapons 
Cancellation of Trident by the British government. And policy not to replace or enhance Trident nor develop, purchase or deploy other nuclear weapons or allow the deployment of any foreign nuclear weapons on British soil or in British waters. 
An all encompassing Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty is agreed. 
Implementation of an arms conversion policy by the British government 
Immediate negotiations leading swiftly to the rapid, timetabled abolition of nuclear forces worldwide and the conclusion of a Nuclear Weapons Convention 
Prevention and cessation of wars in which the nuclear weapons of Britain or other countries might be used 
Abolition of other threats of mass destruction or indiscriminate effect 
Full international compliance with agreed Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) 
A strengthened Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) agreed 
Global abandonment of space weapons and missile defence programmes. An international agreement on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space 
Implementation of a ban on the manufacture, testing and use of Depleted Uranium weapons 
Nuclear-free, less militarised and more secure Europe 
Extension of the influence, resources and funding of the Organisation for Security and Co- Operation on Europe (OSCE) 
No military nuclearisation of the European Union 
Withdrawal of all US military bases and nuclear weapons from Europe and no nuclear or other expansion of NATO 
Formal Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones in Europe established. 
Britain withdrawn from NATO and all foreign military bases on British soil closed. 
The closure of the nuclear power industry 
Prevention of new build nuclear power stations and replacement of nuclear by universally acceptable sustainable energy technologies 
Establishment of safe policies on nuclear waste storage and on re- use of contaminated land transport of plutonium and depleted uranium 
Independent control and verification of plutonium, uranium and depleted uranium stocks.
They aim to…
Change Government policies to bring about the elimination of British nuclear weapons as a major contribution to global abolition. 
Stimulate wide public debate on the need for alternatives both to the nuclear cycle and to military attempts to resolve conflict. 
Empower people to engage actively in the political process and to work for a nuclear-free and peaceful future. 
Co-operate with other groups in the UK and internationally to ensure the development of greater mutual security 
Text from 'Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament'
Daniel Miller and @honestlyAbroad
 
 

Today there are more than 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world (over 5000 of which are deployed, the rest stockpiled). The majority are held by the United States and Russia. Other countries: the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and possibly North Korea, are also nuclear-armed. Many of the nuclear weapons held around the world have hundreds of times more explosive power than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 which completely destroyed the city and killed around 140,000 people.

Nuclear weapons have no legitimate purpose; nor would their use be legal (civilian casualties are unavoidable), they are also genocidal and utterly immoral. When confronted with any of today’s real security threats nuclear weapons are irrelevant: they cannot address climate change, poverty, hunger, overpopulation, non-state armed groups or terrorists, and they are useless against pandemics such as AIDS or avian flu.

Not only do nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately but the radioactive fallout from their detonation means that their effects know no geographical boundaries. Immediate survivors in the vicinity of any nuclear exchange face devastating long-term ill effects or death. Research shows that even a so-called ‘small exchange’ of 50 nuclear weapons could cause ‘the largest climate change in recorded human history’ and potentially could kill more people than were killed in the whole of the Second World War.

As long as there are nuclear weapons in the world there is always the danger they will be used, whether by accident or intention.

Nowruz No War (Iran)

Even a cursory glance of the media would seem to show a situation of an ongoing crisis with Iran and impending war. Young gamers are already playing in virtual invasions of Iran and Iranians are commonly shown as brutal savages.  Meanwhile real covert operations are taking place, ordinary Iranians are suffering the consequences of ever more brutal sanctions and politicians talk not so much of whether violence should be used, but rather what kind of violence might be more “useful”: further sanctions, further assassinations, backing local terrorist groups such as MEK and Jundallah, bombing or even full scale invasion.
The assertions of a crisis are vague and often based upon hearsay amplified by political leaders and sensationalist journalism. Unless checked they may become a self-fulfilling prophecy as tensions heat up.
Sanctions against Iraq took a horrendous toll on the civilian population, during the 12 years between the 1991 Gulf War and were in many ways merely a softening up prior to the Iraq Invasion of 2003.  Already Iranian civil society, and with it the chance for genuine indigenous progress on human rights and democracy is being weakened by sanctions, threats of war and the spectre of covert operations.

IN 1968 Iran signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, in practice signing up to produce/use nuclear materials for domestic purposes only. They are now having tlks internationally about their Nuclear programme lets hope this continues and is not derailed by agitators.

In the minority

The desire for global abolition of nuclear weapons is strong internationally. Many countries have signed treaties to make large areas of the world into nuclear weapons free zones. These cover Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America and Africa; 180 non-nuclear weapon states have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - they don’t possess nuclear weapons and their safety does not depend on owning them. The UK is one of only a handful of states that has nuclear weapons.

Our choice to re-arm, instead of disarming, through the decision to replace our current Trident nuclear weapons system, is a signal to the rest of the world that we believe our security depends on weapons of mass destruction. But the same argument could be used by any country in the world. It is not impossible that the UK should decide to rid itself of nuclear weapons as required by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Four countries — South Africa, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have already done so. In so doing, we would be complying with our obligations to disarm under the NPT, contributing to progress towards multilateral disarmament, and helping to create a climate where states turn away from nuclear weapons altogether.

 

The United States has been developing an extremely expensive weapons system over several decades now generally termed ‘Missile Defense’. Previously this system – coming to prominence under President Reagan in the 1980s - was commonly referred to as ‘Star Wars’ because of its plan to use satellites and missiles which travel through space. In its latest version, the US is now involving Europe in this system via the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and claims it will protect the US and its allies from attack by missiles.

 

An Offensive system which encourages an arms race

Contrary to US claims, this system (consisting of missile bases and radar stations across the world and including sea-based components) will allow the US to attack other countries in a first strike capacity without fear that they will be able to effectively attack back because such a retaliation would be neutralised by the system. In other words, the US Missile Defence system is offensive. Having such a weapons system inevitably leads to an arms race as other countries feel pushed to level the balance of power and threat by developing their own competitive missile defence systems or weapons systems that might overcome the US system.

US Missile Defence helps the US achieve a strategy of global military dominance, that is control of land, sea, air, space and information. In 2002 the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, signed with Russia, in order to further develop the system.

UK on the front line

The UK allows bases at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in Yorkshire, which operate outside British law and parliamentary scrutiny, to be crucial components of the system. In doing so our country becomes complicit in the US military agenda and Britain is put on the front line in any future US war.

A potential aggressor could seek to destroy US Missile Defence facilities in Europe in the context of an imminent war with the US. During Bush’s presidency the plans sparked controversy and increased tension with Russia. Continuing development of the system remains a bone of contention between the two countries and does nothing to help efforts towards reduction of the enormous numbers of nuclear weapons each country still has.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance of 28 countries from North America (Canada and the US) and Europe (26 states, including the UK).

The alliance was formed in 1949, with member states Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States. In the 1950s Greece, Turkey and West Germany joined. Spain joined in 1982. Two waves of NATO expansion happened after the Cold War with Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joining in 1999, and Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia joining in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined in 2009. Read our briefing on NATO expansion and the destabilisation it is causing.

Although ostensibly set up as a defensive organisation, in 1999, its mission statement was rewritten to allow for offensive action across the Eurasian landmass. Part of the NATO military strategy is a dependence on nuclear weapons.

 

Hundreds of US NATO nuclear weapons sited in Europe

As part of NATO’s armaments, between 150 and 240 US nuclear weapons are sited in five European countries - Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Turkey. The weapons are B61 gravity bombs, which will be carried to their destination by aircraft. B61s are described as tactical nuclear weapons - they are widely defined as being more usable in the battlefield and have a variable explosive power between 0.3 and 170 kilotons (the Hiroshima atomic bomb had an explosive power of around 15 kilotons). The use of just one would cause enormous and indiscriminate loss of life, massive destruction and poisonous radioactive fallout.

Breaching the NPT

NATO’s nuclear policies conflict with the legal obligations of the NPT signatories. Although Articles 1 and 2 of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) forbid the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon states, NATO’s nuclear weapons in Europe are located in non-nuclear weapons states. Most of the US nuclear weapons in Europe would also be flown to their targets by the host countries’ own air forces. The US argues that the treaty will no longer apply in wartime, but maintaining nuclear weapons means that all NATO states (except France) are involved in preparation for their use in peacetime.

First use

NATO has rejected a policy of ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons. This means that the alliance would be prepared to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. The UK’s own rejection of a no first use policy is also linked to NATO’s policy – as former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon stated in 2005, “A policy of no first use of nuclear weapons would be incompatible with our and NATO’s doctrine of deterrence, nor would it further disarmament objectives.”

 

UK nuclear weapons assigned to NATO

The UK is required, under the terms of the NPT, to take steps to achieve nuclear disarmament. Instead, the UK’s nuclear weapons system has been assigned to NATO since the 1960s; a replacement for Trident is also likely to be NATO assigned. Ultimately, this means that the UK’s nuclear weapons could be used against a country attacking (or threatening to attack) one of the NATO member states since an attack on one NATO member state is seen as being an attack on all member states. Potentially, since the 1999 rewrite of NATO’s mission, they could also be used outside the NATO area in a first strike capacity.


Withdrawal of nuclear weapons
Map of UK nuclear facilities and sites with nuclear waste in storage (courtesy of CoRWM)


In June 2008, a nuclear weapons expert reported that around 100 US nuclear weapons previously stored at the United States Air Force base at Lakenheath in Suffolk had been secretly removed. In accordance with NATO policy the UK government neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such weapons or their removal. But it is widely accepted that US nuclear weapons had been stationed in the UK since 1954. At Lakenheath they were ready and available for rapid deployment on US F-15 ‘Strike Eagle’ aircraft. The UK had no control over their use.

This welcome reduction in the numbers of US nuclear weapons in Europe comes after the previous withdrawal of weapons from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany in 2005 and from Greece in 2001.

CND believes that a vital step towards global nuclear disarmament would be achieved with the removal of all US nuclear weapons from European bases. Britain should also withdraw from NATO, and all foreign military bases on British soil should be closed. NATO should not be expanded but should be disbanded and the influence, resources and funding of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) extended towards a nuclear free, less militarised and therefore more secure Europe.

 

CND opposes all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction: their development, manufacture, testing, deployment and use or threatened use by any country.

The external strategic objectives, as decided by delegates to our annual conference, are:

  • Elimination of British nuclear weapons and global abolition of nuclear weapons
  • Cancellation of Trident by the British government. And policy not to replace or enhance Trident nor develop, purchase or deploy other nuclear weapons or allow the deployment of any foreign nuclear weapons on British soil or in British waters.
  • An all encompassing Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty is agreed.
  • Implementation of an arms conversion policy by the British government
  • Immediate negotiations leading swiftly to the rapid, timetabled abolition of nuclear forces worldwide and the conclusion of a Nuclear Weapons Convention
  • Prevention and cessation of wars in which the nuclear weapons of Britain or other countries might be used
  • Abolition of other threats of mass destruction or indiscriminate effect
  • Full international compliance with agreed Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
  • A strengthened Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) agreed
  • Global abandonment of space weapons and missile defence programmes. An international agreement on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space
  • Implementation of a ban on the manufacture, testing and use of Depleted Uranium weapons
  • Nuclear-free, less militarised and more secure Europe
  • Extension of the influence, resources and funding of the Organisation for Security and Co- Operation on Europe (OSCE)
  • No military nuclearisation of the European Union
  • Withdrawal of all US military bases and nuclear weapons from Europe and no nuclear or other expansion of NATO
  • Formal Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones in Europe established.
  • Britain withdrawn from NATO and all foreign military bases on British soil closed.
  • The closure of the nuclear power industry
  • Prevention of new build nuclear power stations and replacement of nuclear by universally acceptable sustainable energy technologies
  • Establishment of safe policies on nuclear waste storage and on re- use of contaminated land transport of plutonium and depleted uranium
  • Independent control and verification of plutonium, uranium and depleted uranium stocks.

They aim to…

  • Change Government policies to bring about the elimination of British nuclear weapons as a major contribution to global abolition.
  • Stimulate wide public debate on the need for alternatives both to the nuclear cycle and to military attempts to resolve conflict.
  • Empower people to engage actively in the political process and to work for a nuclear-free and peaceful future.
  • Co-operate with other groups in the UK and internationally to ensure the development of greater mutual security

Text from 'Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament'

Daniel Miller and @honestlyAbroad

 

 

Propaganda & Politics: George Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’

'All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.' George Orwell

'When the doors of our perception are cleansed, we will see things as they are as opposed to the way they are not.' Aldous Huxley


There is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation — that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, against something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.

By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

 

Obsession. As nearly as possible, no nationalist ever thinks, talks, or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit. It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance. The smallest slur upon his own unit, or any implied praise of a rival organization, fills him with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort. If the chosen unit is an actual country, such as Ireland or India, he will generally claim superiority for it not only in military power and political virtue, but in art, literature, sport, structure of the language, the physical beauty of the inhabitants, and perhaps even in climate, scenery and cooking.

Instability. The intensity with which they are held does not prevent nationalist loyalties from being transferable. To begin with, as I have pointed out already, they can be and often are fastened up on some foreign country. One quite commonly finds that great national leaders, or the founders of nationalist movements, do not even belong to the country they have glorified. Sometimes they are outright foreigners, or more often they come from peripheral areas where nationality is doubtful. Examples are Stalin, Hitler, Napoleon, de Valera, Disraeli, Poincare, Beaverbrook. The Pan-German movement was in part the creation of an Englishman, Houston Chamberlain.

Indifference to Reality. All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.  The Liberal News Chronicle published, as an example of shocking barbarity, photographs of Russians hanged by the Germans, and then a year or two later published with warm approval almost exactly similar photographs of Germans hanged by the Russians.

It is the same with historical events. History is thought of largely in nationalist terms, and such things as the Inquisition, the tortures of the Star Chamber, the exploits of the English buccaneers

Sir Francis Drake

(Sir Francis Drake, for instance, who was given to sinking Spanish prisoners alive), the Reign of Terror, the heroes of the Mutiny blowing hundreds of Indians from the guns, or Cromwell’s soldiers slashing Irishwomen’s faces with razors, become morally neutral or even meritorious when it is felt that they were done in the ‘right’ cause. If one looks back over the past quarter of a century, one finds that there was hardly a single year when atrocity stories were not being reported from some part of the world; and yet in not one single case were these atrocities — in Spain, Russia, China, Hungary, Mexico, Amritsar, Smyrna — believed in and disapproved of by the English intelligentsia as a whole. Whether such deeds were reprehensible, or even whether they happened, was always decided according to political predilection.

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness. In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one’s own mind.


Much of the propagandist writing of our time amounts to plain forgery. Material facts are suppressed, dates altered, quotations removed from their context and doctored so as to change their meaning.  Events which it is felt ought not to have happened are left unmentioned and ultimately denied.

In 1927 Chiang Kai Shek boiled hundreds of Communists alive, and yet within ten years he had become one of the heroes of the Left. The re-alignment of world politics had brought him into the anti-Fascist camp, and so it was felt that the boiling of the Communists ‘didn’t count’, or perhaps had not happened.

The primary aim of propaganda is, of course, to influence contemporary opinion, but those who rewrite history do probably believe with part of their minds that they are actually thrusting facts into the past. When one considers the elaborate forgeries that have been committed in order to show that Trotsky did not play a valuable part in the Russian civil war, it is difficult to feel that the people responsible are merely lying. More probably they feel that their own version was what happened in the sight of God, and that one is justified in rearranging the records accordingly.



Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be a genuine doubt about the most enormous events. For example, it is impossible to calculate within millions, perhaps even tens of millions, the number of deaths caused by the present war. The calamities that are constantly being reported — battles, massacres, famines, revolutions — tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. What were the rights and wrongs of the Warsaw rising of August 1944? Is it true about the German gas ovens in Poland? 

Who was really to blame for the Bengal famine? Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in almost any newspaper that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or failing to form an opinion. The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied. Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to feel that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory.

Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.

I list below five types of nationalist, and against each I append a fact which it is impossible for that type of nationalist to accept, even in his secret thoughts:

BRITISH TORY: Britain will come out of this war with reduced power and prestige.

COMMUNIST: If she had not been aided by Britain and America, Russia would have been defeated by Germany.

IRISH NATIONALIST: Eire can only remain independent because of British protection.

TROTSKYIST: The Stalin regime is accepted by the Russian masses.

PACIFIST: Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.

 

Read George Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’ here

'I hear drums'
by Afshin Shemirani

I hear drums
They be banging non-stop getting louder
They be playing that song every hour
Sound waves resonate: Murder! Murder!
I hear drums
All I hear is drums getting louder
It ain’t tribal; tribes are getting wiped out
War drums in your mind till your conscience is blocked out
I hear drums
Why they always getting louder?!
Drums of death they be banging every hour
I hear drums
War drums getting louder
I ain’t deluded; although that fact may have eluded, your attention
So please pay attention
When I mention:
THERE’S NOTHING HUMANITARIAN ABOUT YOUR INTERVENTION!
They’re aversions
From the crimes you’ve perpetrated
All the havoc on this earth you’ve created
War to war — Imperialist agenda
Send the troops in; but you never let the truth out
Those that do: you pay till they sell out
Then bombs fly out
Multiplying
They’ll blow out your head if you ain’t complying
I hear drums
The war drums are getting louder
They be banging it in your head every hour
I hear drums
It’s the fucking war drums!



Photographs in Iran by Parisa Nasri

In aid of Nowruz No War

Sign the petition to keep the U.S OUT of a war with Iran: http://wh.gov/84h

The Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has stated twice already this year that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon. So why are so many voices clamoring for war?

If you’re like us, you feel an eerie parallel between the lies about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction and the warmongering taking place in Washington and the media around Iran. As President Bush once reminded us, we can’t get fooled again.

We’ve put together a simple White House petition calling on President Obama to keep us out of a war with Iran. Please sign it: http://wh.gov/84h


≈
Landscape pictures of Iran
Time to visit Iran right? And lets not allow the warmonger aggressors namely #US & #Israel bomb it or its people. The biggest abuse of Human Rights is the indiscriminate bombing of Men, Women & Children lest you forget.
See the whole set

Landscape pictures of Iran

Time to visit Iran right? And lets not allow the warmonger aggressors namely #US & #Israel bomb it or its people. The biggest abuse of Human Rights is the indiscriminate bombing of Men, Women & Children lest you forget.

See the whole set

Samantha Asumadu

Documentary filmmaker, campaigner and founder of Media Diversified

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