by Sid H Arthur - Middle East 24 Jan 2007 12:51 pm

They want to take over the World, don’t you know

Like clockwork, following the Holocaust Denial Conference in Iran comes the Global Jihad Warning Conference in Israel.

What’s it all about? Iran and Palestine mostly, with lots of academic research thrown in on the Muslim masterplan to “deliver Islam” to the world through “global jihad”. Heading the list of academics will be the world expert on global Muslim anthropology, Dr Bernard Lewis and the spook, James Woolsey.

“Islamic expert and historian Bernard Lewis spoke back-to-back with former CIA director James Woolsey at the Herzliya Conference Monday, sounding the alarm on the global Jihad and dismissing the concept of a Palestinian state.”, write Israel National News.

Woolsey on Iran:

“We should be prepared for the fact that if an attack is necessary, it must take place when we are as certain as we can be that they do not yet have a nuclear weapon.”

Woolsey on Palestine:

Following applause, Woolsey went even further, suggesting that a PA state should not be on the table until the generation of youth raised on Wahabi-funded suicide-bomber ideology has been taught otherwise and the PA can be held to the same standards as an Israel with one million Arab citizens.

Lewis on Muslims in general:

“In the self-perception of the Muslim world, their primary identity is to deliver Islam to the world – to not keep it selflessly to themselves but to give it to mankind”

by Sid H Arthur - Pop Life & Race & Identity 21 Jan 2007 11:07 am

Julie the Obscurantist

Julie Burchill’s short piece on the Jade/Shilpa saga was published in Friday’s Evening Standard. You can find the article online, but I’m going to cut and paste it here.

…why you chav-haters should leave her alone

The predictable chav-baiting, prole-hating scumbags have emerged from their holes in Hampstead to abuse Jade. But I fail to see how social racism is worse than cultural racism. My ex-friend Nirpal Dhaliwal wrote here this week how irritating Shilpa was and that he could only watch her with the sound down. Now he is upholding her as a heroine.

Mr Dhaliwal makes his living from detailing how how irritating many people are to live with - what a shame they cannot extend this understanding to an uneducated but enterprising and essentially good-hearted young woman who, unlike so many current celebrities, achieved everything she has for herself - not because her daddy was famous, or because she married well.

Shame on the media for sadistically monstering this girl in exactly the way they accuse her of doing.

People forget how hard Jade’s life has been - she was a mother to her mother from the age of five, wheras in her thirties this is the first time Shilpa has ever been without hers.

This isn’t a clash of black against white, but of real against fake.

I love the sight of Indians, in a country with a huge class of Untouchables, prancing around burning effigies and telling us not to discriminate!

Shilpa keeps repeating, “Is it my fault I wasn’t raised in a slum, is it my fault I wasn’t born by a roadside” - as Untouchables in her country, millions of them, are.

She is obviouisly scandalised that Jade is allowed to mix with “respectable” people - ie, a bunch of washed-up showbiz nobodies. God forbid we should have social mobility here, back to the scullery with all of them.

Of course, what cultural cry-babies like Jermaine Jackson don’t cotton on to is that if society was playing by the old rules of deference, Jade would be in a scullery - but he’d be shining shoes.

Burchill’s point is this: Jade Goody’s racism/bullying should be excused since she is an underdog who has struggled to get where she is through sheer ability alone. Whereas Shilpa comes from a higher Indian social echelon which makes her hate people like Jade for their lower social status.

No prizes for spotting the self-defeating arguments, the glaring untruths and the hypocrisy in that.

What Burchill won’t say say is that when society played by the ‘old rules of deference’, even greater value was placed upon real talent and real ability than it is today.

So Jermaine Jackson would still be a hugely talented performer (as he effortlessly demonstrated on CBB) who would transcend shoe-shining in no time at all. But Julie Burchill would be scrubbing floors to the end of her days.

Why is it that only middle-class people regard Julie Burchill highly? All the WWC people I know consider her bogus apologia of non-aspirational chavism as hypocritical in the extreme. The racial insult she’s used in this article is entirely in character. For some reason Burchill is still hailed as an enfant-terrible in spite of being a reactionary middle-aged bore by reactionary middle-class bores. It’s like Punk never happened.

by Sid H Arthur - Pop Life 14 Jan 2007 11:12 pm

She Stoops to Conquer

Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother:

It’s taken the CBB show to demonstrate to me that there is a world of difference between beautiful, intelligent, glamorous, generous, genuine stars and no-talent, mean-minded News of the World scrubbers and chav-estate symbols of mediocrity.

But you knew that.

by Sid H Arthur - Bangladesh 14 Jan 2007 02:02 pm

Bangladesh: The Price of Power Games

Prior to the emergency declared last week, many doubts have been raised about the idea of democratic viability in Bangladesh. Knowing the deterioration of the political situation in Bangladesh since 1993, these doubts are valid:

There is the extreme and insurmountable polarisation between the ruling centre-right Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the opposition, centre-left Awami League (AWL).

The endemic corruption within the ruling party which has benefited Tareq Zia (35), the son of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, to the tune of billions of (US) dollars that he has siphoned out of the country. Tareq happens to be an unelected party offiicial but wields more power than any other person in Bangladesh. He has single-handedly turned a democracy into a kleptocracy, whilst laughing all the way to the bank (which, at any rate, he controls).

The slow and steady growth of the Islamist political parties under the umbrella of Jamaat e Islami using the channels of democratic norms. Islamist political parties are playing by every rule in the democratic book and they are winning. They are well-organised, well funded and, thanks to their Islamic charity projects, have the most loyal vote banks. The AWL has recently made overtures to these parties despite its traditionally secular doctrine which was enshrined by Sheikh Mujib in the constitution in 1971. Fears that Bangladesh will turn into the ‘next Afghanistan‘ have never been far away. Last month, the leader of the AWL announced that it had made a partnership with a minor Islamist party, the Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish (BKM). This was a cynical and shoddy move to curry favour with extremists, the very group that had been the anathema for secular supporters of the AWL. This is Kuldip Nayar’s comment on this unnatural alliance:

I feel the real tragic figure is his daughter, Shaikh Hasina. All her life she fights fundamentalism and keeps distance from anti-liberation forces. But for the sake of votes, she shakes hands with Bangladesh Khilafat Majlish, a fundamentalist and counter-revolutionary organisation.

Hasina is correct when she says that the caretaker government has failed to create “free and fair” environment for election. But she is wrong when she signs a pact with the Majlish to recognise the principles of fatwa and promises to bar any enactment which goes against the Quranic values. There is nothing wrong in upholding Quranic values. But she does not realise she mixes religion with the state. This is not what the liberation forces had in mind when they seceded from West Pakistan. Nor would have Shaikh Mujib imagined his daughter might one day shatter his dream of pluralistic country.

Another question that should be asked on microphones, amplified from every rooftop, in every village and town is - do we want democracy to be bludgeoned to death by these inept politicians only to let the Islamists in through the back door? If Bangladeshis have one collective, national characteristic it is this: wilfull self destruction to prevent the other to get what they think they want. If democracy means the installation of the Islamists into the Dhaka Parliament, wouldn’t it be better to freeze the democratic project for Bangladesh entirely? File under “failed” for long enough at least to flush out the divisive gangrene of the BNP and the AWL?

This article by Delwar Hussain in openDemocracy explains succinctly how the score card of BNP-AWL politics will be a win-win result for the Islamists.

The long-term damage done to the secular project over the years is evident in the fact that its self-declared champion is doing nothing to uphold it. As power is transferred - from Zia to Ershad to Khaleda to Hasina - the Islamist project gets stronger and stronger. The logic is that the next election - whenever it is held - will bring the Islamists to power, regardless of who becomes prime minister. The Islamists were once seen as being against Bangladesh itself, anti-national; then as important power-brokers in the country’s politics; today, they are on the point of being crowned kings.

In the three general elections that have been held since 1993, voter turnout has been 75+%. So is it democracy that has failed in Bangladesh or is it the politicians who have failed Bangladesh’s democracy? After all, it is they who have subverted voter franchise and due process and scuppered any chance for Bangladesh to be a secular, pluralist democratic country.

by Sid H Arthur - Politics & Terrorism 13 Jan 2007 08:26 pm

Lies, Damned Lies and Rhetorical Tricks

In an interesting article, Adrian Hamilton tells us of Blair’s skillful use of “four rhetorical tricks”:

  • The problems faced by the Government are new and more terrible than anything that has gone on before. But then you have to use anything you can to justify ‘extraordinary rendition’ [Abduction & Torture ], don’t you.
  • Defining a choices in terms of emotive artificial opposites. This is the “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” or “Those who oppose the privatisation of the health service want patients to die” kind of thing.
  • Propose that the nation needs to have a full public debate. But then do and say everything to prevent that debate.
  • Claim that decisions are made immeasurebly more difficult by the media, 24-hour on-demand news and global communication methods. This is rich coming from a government synonymous with spin. And lets not forget that the media and the public were behind Bush and Blair’s Afghanistan campaign. Its the Iraq war and the manner in which it gets conflated with terrorism, that has been the Neocon bamboozle of choice and one that Blair makes habitually.

Blair is a genius at presenting lies as if they were points of honour, patriotism or enlightenmnet (with a small e) and in that regard he’s pathological in his ability to believe his own porkies. Pathological liars are capable of selling their bullshit to intelligent people who should have known better.

No one is arguing that fundamentalism isn’t a problem. But it is deliberately misleading to declare that therefore everything is part of the same pattern or that all is new. It is also dishonest to pretend you want a public debate when everything you say and do closes down just such a thing. If Blair really wants open discussion why doesn’t he have a Commons vote on whether we support or oppose President Bush’s new policy in Iraq? It might test out just how independent our foreign policy is these days. No, open discussion and accountability is the last thing the Prime Minister, or his colleagues, want. They, and parliament, prefer to turn their heads away as the premier continues this mendacious posturing.

by Sid H Arthur - Iraq 13 Jan 2007 07:38 pm

When In Doubt, Surge

The beauty of being a pro-war supporter is never feeling the need to admit failure in regard to the invasion of Iraq. And the prototype for their credulity is George Bush himself. The New Way Forward that he revealed to a war-weary public involves 21,500 extra troops and a $1 billion aid package for Iraq.

Under the new plan, the US will increase the number of troops in Iraq, which currently stands at 132,000, by 21,500. The majority of the new force will be stationed in Baghdad and embedded with Iraqi units while some 4,000 marines will be sent to western Anbar province to fight Sunni insurgents.

The plan is the third attempt to stabilise the Baghdad area, the scene of 80% of sectarian violence in Iraq. Mr Bush said the new strategy would work where other plans had failed because of the increased force levels. “This time, we will have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared,” he said.

The new troops and aid money is Bush’s last-last-last ditch attempt to save American éclat from certain defeat. This is no more than an expensive round of play-acting to ensure Bush looks ascendant whilst he plays out the rest of his presidential tenure. The stabilisation of the ‘Baghdad area’ mentioned above most definitely means tackling Moqtada al-Sadr and his 100,000 strong al-Mahdi army. And an attack on the Shia militia of Baghdad could be the last nail in the coffin of the US prosecution of Iraq.

Here is Patrick Cockburn on Moqtada:

If the US Army, along with Kurdish brigades of the Iraqi army, do assault Sadr City, they are unlikely to win a clean victory. The rest of Shia Iraq is likely to explode. A confrontation will convince many Shia that the US never intends to let them rule Iraq despite their success in the elections. The US is already at war with the five million-strong Sunni community and is now fast alienating the Shia. For the first time this year, polls showed that a majority of Shia approve of armed attacks on US-led forces.

An offensive against Sadr’s Mehdi Army will be portrayed as an attempt to eliminate militias. But it is, in reality, an attack on one particular militia, because it is anti-American. The Kurdish brigades in the Iraqi army take their orders from the Kurdish leaders and not from Maliki. The US also has good relations with the other Shia militia, the Badr Organisation, which is the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

But even the Shi’i majority Baghdad government, headed by the quisling Nuri Kamal al-Maliki can’t bring itself to affect support for the wreckage of the US occupation any more.

The Shiites rose to power for the first time in Iraq’s history on the back of the American invasion, and they were amenable to American strategies in the early years. But as the vicious attacks by Sunni militants increased, the government became impatient with what it called Washington’s cautious military action and its increased scrutiny of Shiite militias.

“You can’t solve the problem by adding more troops,” said Redha Jawad Tahi, a Shiite member of Parliament. “The security should be in the hands of the Iraqis. The U.S. should be in a supporting role.”

Does the Bush administration actually eat it’s own dogfood? Do they believe that taking on the al-Sadr militia is going to turn Shi’a-majority Iraq their way? What will the effect be on the delicate Shi’a-Kurd alliance that was so important at the start of the invasion? And how will making a martyr of Moqtada possibly strengthen Bush’s position when Shi’a liturgy is based on the sanctity of martydom?

These questions and more will bubble up in the coming months but by then neither Mr Bush nor Mr Blair will be in a position to care. Because by that time, they’ll be enjoying highly paid executive posts in Bechtel and wowing the crowds (for large sums of money) in the American university lecture circuit.

by Sid H Arthur - Bangladesh 11 Jan 2007 11:38 pm

State of Emergency

A state of emergency in Bangladesh, officially declared by interim President Iajuddin Ahmed in his resignation speech yesterday, ends months of political brinksmanship and a near-collapse of democracy the country has faced off since October 2006. What began as a dispute over the validity of the interim government, involved taking the entire country hostage in the process with national strikes and rampant street violence, has (possibly) reached endgame. Yes, the army has been deployed to end the instability caused by the abject failure of party political compromise.

The emergency means that press freedom and the vibrant private media has been gagged and a curfew has been declared.

The International election observation missions, namely the EU and the UN, have both pulled their representatives from the process, declaring “The political crisis in Bangladesh has severly jeopardised the legitimacy of the electoral process”.

The expulsion of Iajuddin, who remained single-mindely partisan (pro-BNP) despite his remit to be neutral and impartial, could mean, paradoxically enough, that the worst is over. This could signify the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel after the uncertainty and instability 145 millions Bangladeshis have had to suffer for months.

Good analysis here from Sabir Mustafa on the beeb:

Since 1996, Bangladesh’s constitution has required the elected government to hand over power to a neutral, non-partisan interim administration on the completion of its five-year term. This was an extraordinary admission by politicians that they could not be trusted to hold free and fair polls.

The system worked. Government headed by retired chief justices in 1996 and 2001 produced two of the cleanest elections in the country’s history. Turnout exceeding 75% showed the faith voters had in the fairness of polls held under caretaker governments.

But the crisis which erupted in October 2006 showed that politicians could be trusted to subvert even a successful system of their own design.

Naeem sums up the showdown of the last few months on Drishtipat, the blog which has remained my only source of news and analysis during this appalling segment of Bangladesh’s short history as one of the world’s few majority Muslim democracies.

The controversy around Jan 22 elections center around few things:

- CTG (Caretaker Government): This was a system instituted after the 1996 vote-fraud marred elections, whereby, 3 months before each election the gov’t steps down, and a CTG takes over to conduct “fair”elections. This worked in 1996 and 2001, but by 2006, surprise surprise, the CTG itself has become super-controversial. The AL alleges it is now full of BNP partisans. After a long campaign to remove a partisan candidate, the chess move was placed by Iajuddin who took over as head of CTG bypassing the normal process.. Iajuddin is definitely a partisan and since taking power has proven to be a horrorshow autocrat as well. He repeatedly bypassed and ignored his advisors in taking decisions about voter list, election date and army deployment. A month ago, 4 of his advisors quit in protest.

- EC (Election Commission): Equally controversial, riddled with what AL alleges are BNP partisans

- Voter List: Subject of raging court battles for last 2 years. Basically BNP defied a court order to update existing voter list (created by AL in 2000), and instead created a brand new voter list. The new list has thousands of missing names, and yet a mathematically impossible increase in total # of voters (see Asif Saleh’s analysis based on population increase). Minority voters (esp, Hindu+CHT Pahari voters) are of course wholesale missing from this list.

by Sid H Arthur - Pop Life 01 Jan 2007 09:51 pm

Happy Sane New Year

If you’re tired of impotent chest-beating and mawkish sabre-rattling, tired of the confidence trickery of NeoConservatism and the morality swindlers of New Labour and the pro-war Left, tired of anti-Muslim racism masquerading as anti-Islamist liberalism, tired of not willing to tell the difference between fighting terrorism and the invasion and occupation of Iraq then its time to shake off the demons of the last five years and look forward to a bullshit-free 2007.

by Sid H Arthur - Iraq & Politics 30 Dec 2006 02:40 pm

Saddam Snuffed

Woke up this morning to the news, flooding the news channels, that Saddam Hussein has been hanged in Iraq. There’s even an accompanying snuff movie of the execution (linked off the BBC page above) for all you who get off on a bit of gallows pornography.

So that’s Augusto Pinochet and Saddam Hussein down in the same month.

Who do you think deserves to feel the rope next?

Top of the list is, of course, sexy Henry Kissinger, who deserves an ICC hearing at the very least.

by Sid H Arthur - Pop Life 29 Dec 2006 05:02 pm

Anthony Gonzalves 2007

Make Anthony Gonzalves your pan-Hindu-Muslim-Christian cake dancing, fit Parsee girl loving, wondrous lyric spouting ideal in 2007:

You see the whole country of the system is juxtaposed in the haemoglobin of the atmosphere because you are a sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of your own verbosity!

Peace out

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