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Scottish Independence: Yes or No (Great Debate)
Scottish Independence: Yes or No (Great Debate)
by Alan Cochrane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful sets of arguments, yes and no, 20 Jun. 2014
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Journalist George Kerevan puts the case for voting Yes in the 18 September referendum. Alan Cochrane puts the case for voting No.

Kerevan offers us an English parliament, and calls for Welsh and Northern Ireland self-rule. He opposes what he calls a ‘little Britain’ attitude, but taking Scotland out of Britain would clearly result in a little Britain.
He praises immigration because it “makes labour markets more flexible”, the usual employer’s attitude. He assumes that adding numbers of people adds to GDP. He fails to notice that if Scotland had a different immigration policy from England, there would have to be border controls between England and Scotland. And only 2 per cent of Scots want a more liberal immigration policy, as Cochrane notes. Further, Britain is outside the Schengen free travel agreement, but Scotland would have to join it. Again, border controls would result.
Kerevan says that he wants to increase R&D spending, but he makes no mention of the threat to R&D that break-up would bring, as Scotland’s leading scientists recently pointed out.
Kerevan follows Salmond’s gamble that the Conservative, Labour and LiberalDemocrat parties were bluffing when they ruled out a currency union if Scotland voted to secede.
Cochrane observes that break-up would destroy jobs in shipyards, defence-related industries and at the Faslane and Coalport bases.
The Scottish government wants to continue to charge £36,000 fees to students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but, if Scotland became a separate state, this would be illegal under EU law. (For the EU, absurdly, allows governments to discriminate within member states, but not between member states.)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2014 9:55 AM BST

by David van Reybrouck
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine history of Congo, 19 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Congo (Hardcover)
This is an excellent, and very readable, history of the Congo since 1870.

In the Congo Free State, “with profit maximization as the alpha and omega of the entire enterprise, people at all levels of the administration were pressured to collect more taxes, bring in more rubber, tighten the thumbscrews even further.” The estimated ten million deaths were the result of “a perfidious, rapacious policy of exploitation, a living sacrifice on the altar of the pathological pursuit of profit.”

The Belgian state mercilessly crushed strikes in 1941, 1944 and 1945, killing hundreds of workers. When in 1960 the people elected an anti-colonialist president, “U.S. president Eisenhower personally ordered the CIA to liquidate Lumumba.” The US government was allied with the dictator Mobutu from 1960. Britain, France and Belgium backed him too.

In 1976, the IMF imposed its usual programme on Congo, with the usual results. GNP per head fell from $600 in 1980 to $200 in 1985. Teacher numbers fell from 285,000 to 126,000.

In the 1990s, “The old-fangled cynicism that the Clinton administration wanted to do away with made way for a new-fangled cynicism: humanitarian in its intentions, highly naļve in its analyses and therefore disastrous in its consequences. .... The backing for Rwanda and the rebels would unleash years of misery.” But it was humanitarian only in its rhetoric and not naļve at all - how can cynicism be naļve? – and yes, disastrous in its consequences.

The US-backed, US-trained and US-armed Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front helped to overthrow Uganda’s President Obote. The RPF then killed Rwanda’s president, invaded Rwanda, leading to the killing of a million civilians, seized power there and then attacked Congo, starting the Second Congo War (1997-2002), in which 5.4 million people were killed.

A 2002 UN report concluded, “These deaths are a direct result of the occupation by Rwanda and Uganda.” The US, British, French and Dutch governments all backed Kagame: they share the responsibility for the deaths.

The French government protected the perpetrators of genocide. The author writes, “The chronic conflict has now lasted for more than fifteen years. The suffering in the area around the Great Lakes can be traced back to that fateful day in spring 1994 when the French government decided to allow the Hutu regime to escape to eastern Congo, weapons and all.”

Van Reybrouck sums up, “The economic history of Congo is one of improbably lucky breaks. But also of improbably great misery. As a rule, not a drop of the fabulous profits trickled down to the larger part of the population.” Foreign powers have always looted Congo’s wealth, rubber and ivory in the 19th century, copper, cobalt and coltan now. As he points out, “Free trade, as roundly promulgated for decades by the prophets of the international economic institutions, could be a form of plunder as well.”

For many years, the IMF demanded that Congo repay the $13 billion debt to the IMF and World Bank, run up by Mobutu. In 2007, China and Congo agreed a joint venture – China would invest $9 billion in Congo’s railways, hospitals, housing and universities, and Congo would excavate ten million metric tons of copper and 600,000 metric tons of cobalt. Then in 2009 the IMF agreed to demand ‘only’ $4 billion, if Congo revised its contract with China. Subsequently, China cut its investment by $3 billion.

German Idealism and the Jew: The Inner Anti-Semitism Of Philosophy And German Jewish Responses
German Idealism and the Jew: The Inner Anti-Semitism Of Philosophy And German Jewish Responses
by Michael Mack
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional study of the reality behind Germany's idealist philosophy, 18 Jun. 2014
In this remarkable book, Michael Mack argues that German idealist philosophy was innately anti-Semitic. This had a huge social and political impact, because idealism is always all too widespread among the educators and the highly educated. “To be part of the educated German society meant to be idealistic.”

For Immanuel Kant, reason transcends practical interests; freedom meant being above mere empirical conditions. Kant’s ethics were, as he wrote, ‘completely purged of anything empirical’.

Mack sums up, “Kant and Hegel set the tone for the German prioritization of idealism over realism when they characterized rationality (and thereby progress or modernization) as freedom from empirical necessities. In this context Adorno has dubbed ‘Kant’s ethics … an ethics of conviction’ and has contrasted the latter with ‘an ethics of responsibility in which empirical conditions have to be taken into account.’ This Kantian ethics of conviction does not pay any attention to ‘the effects of my actions’. Herein consists its ‘purity’. Kant in fact saw in the Jews the opposite of reason’s purity: they embodied the impurity of empirical reality, of ‘matter’. If we take our own bodiliness into account, this binary opposition between those who are pure (rational by virtue of having gained independence from the empirical) and those who are impure (that is, dependent on the empirical) seems to represent unreason rather than reason.”

Kant said, “Every coward is a liar; Jews, for example, not only in business, but also in common life.” The idealist Johann Fichte wrote of the Jews, “I see absolutely no way of giving them civic rights, except perhaps if one chops off all their heads and replaces them with new ones, in which there would not be one single Jewish idea.”

The idealists always fight the materialists. They claimed that materialism was embodied in Jews, women, and the masses. Idealism was embodied in the German ‘race’ and its state. The state and the law were reason; economic and social issues were mere impure matter, the realm of unreason. Kant idealised and mystified the state: “The origin of supreme violence must not be inquired into by the people who are dominated by it.”

Changing Face of Empire, The : Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare
Changing Face of Empire, The : Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare
by Nick Turse
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful study of the USA's current mode of warfare, 18 Jun. 2014
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Journalist and author Nick Turse explores the six elements of the USA’s current way of warfare: special operations, drones, spies, proxy fighters, secret bases and cyber-warfare. “Garrisoning the planet is just part of it. The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence services are also running covert special forces and spy operations, launching drone attacks, building bases and secret prisons, training, arming, and funding local security forces, and engaging in a host of other militarized activities right up to full-scale war.”

He writes of the US cyber-warfare against Iran, “As with other facets of the new way of war, these efforts were begun under the Bush administration but significantly accelerated under President Obama, who became the first American commander-in-chief to order sustained cyberattacks designed to cripple another country’s infrastructure.”

US Special Operations Forces are active in more than 75 countries. There are 60,000 troops in the Joint Special Operations Command, who track and kill suspected terrorists. Turse calls them the ‘the chief executive’s private assassination squad’. 85 per cent of them are deployed in the greater Middle East: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The USA has 60 drone bases across the world, mostly in Africa and the Middle East. It has 450 military bases in Afghanistan. It has 8,000 military personnel in Africa, in bases in Djibouti, Uganda, Kenya, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, the Seychelles islands off Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bush used to talk of the ‘arc of instability’, which covered all the countries in the area from North Africa to the border with China, also known as the Greater Middle East, but sometimes was said to stretch from Latin America to Southeast Asia.

Turse concludes, “In addition to waging more wars in ‘arc’ nations, Obama has overseen the deployment of greater numbers of special operations forces to the region, has transferred or brokered the sale of substantial quantities of weapons there, while continuing to build and expand military bases at a torrid rate, as well as training and supplying large numbers of indigenous forces. Pentagon documents and open source information indicate that there is not a single country in that arc in which U.S. military and intelligence agencies are not now active. This raises questions about just how crucial the American role has been in the region’s increasing volatility and destabilization.”

When we see the wreckage left by the US wars against Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, we can see that the USA certainly does not do nation-building, but nation-busting. The USA provides not stability and security for the world, but destruction.

Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism in Vietnam
Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism in Vietnam
by Mark Moyar
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugly attempt to whitewash mass murder, 18 Jun. 2014
This book is an attempt to whitewash the US state’s Phoenix programme during its war against Vietnam, which was a terrorist operation, targeting civilians. Moyar is an associate professor at the US Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia.

Moyar tries to discredit witnesses like Elton Manzione. Moyar quotes Douglas Valentine, author of the outstanding account of the Phoenix programme: “His military records show that he [Manzione] was never in Vietnam.” But Mayor chooses to ignore Valentine’s explanation for this.

The US Army had falsified Valentine’s father’s military record during World War Two. Valentine also cited the director of veteran services in New Hampshire, who stated that the Army had also falsified the military record of another Phoenix veteran, which appeared to show that he had been a cook.

The Army, it would appear, falsified records “to conceal its misdeeds under a cloak of secrecy, threats, and fraud.”

Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians
Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians
Price: £8.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed record of war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq, 3 Jun. 2014
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In this book, journalist and author Chris Hedges uses eye-witness accounts by US soldiers to give a picture of ‘the vast enterprise of industrial slaughter unleashed in Iraq’.

In horrifying detail, he presents accounts of torture, murders, detentions, home raids, and killings at checkpoints, and on convoys and patrols.

As he sums up, “the invasion and the occupation have been a catastrophe.”

The Scots and the Union: Then and Now
The Scots and the Union: Then and Now
by Christopher A. Whatley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual study of the making of the Union, 3 Jun. 2014
In this remarkable, deeply-researched book, Christopher Whatley, Professor of Scottish History at the University of Dundee, explores the reasons why most members of the Scottish Parliament voted for the Union in 1706-7.

The first edition won the Saltire Society’s Scottish History Book of the Year prize. This new edition incorporates new material and updates the book to take account of the forthcoming referendum.

A database on each member of the Parliament from 1689 to 1707 was constructed. “This identified a remarkable and hitherto unnoticed degree of consistency of behaviour. Also uncovered was a degree of persistence in search of a union that would serve to secure certain political principles articulated during the years – sometimes spent in exile – that culminated in the Revolution.”

The economic arguments for union were strong. As he writes, “the English commissioners conceded the Scots’ request that in return for agreeing to the Hanoverian succession, incorporation and a single British Parliament, they should have ‘full freedom and intercourse of Trade and Navigation within the … United Kingdom and Plantations thereunto belonging’. This was the ‘secret’ of the union …”

Before the union, manufacturing was weak, agriculture backward and trade scanty, all stifled by mercantilism. By insisting that the union should work to Scotland’s advantage, the Scottish Parliament provided Scots with opportunities for personal and national achievement.

There were other good reasons for union. In Scotland, as in England, political liberties were at stake. Britain was at war with France from 1701 to 1713. Many lay Presbyterians in Scotland urged their countrymen to support the union to unite Britain against the allied absolutist monarchies of Catholic France and the deposed Stuarts.

As an English MP warned that without union, “You will always find a Popish Pretender intriguing amongst you … Embarrassing your Affairs … Jumbling you into Confusion [to] open a door to his own designes upon you.” In 1706, King Louis XIV of France sent funds to Scotland “to brib our Parliament … as to hinder the two nations from being united.”

Pope Innocent XII prayed for a Stuart restoration. After the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, the pretender James Stuart secretly agreed with Philip V of Spain to restore the Catholic Church in Britain. Through the Union, English and Scots united against ‘Popish Bigotry and French Tyranny’.

Whatley’s book refutes the simplistic and insulting view that “the Scots were bought and sold for English gold.” The Union was not the product of English bullying and Scottish venality.

Kill Anything That Moves
Kill Anything That Moves
by Nick Turse
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing account of the USA's genocidal war against Vietnam, 2 Jun. 2014
This extraordinary book is based on ten years’ work on US military records kept at the United States National Archives, in particular on the files of the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group, a secret Pentagon body, and interviews with more than a hundred veterans.

This book is published by Metropolitan Books’ American Empire Project. The author, Nicholas Turse, is a fellow at the Nation Institute, the managing editor for and author of The Complex: how the military invades our everyday lives, and The changing face of empire: special ops, drones, spies, proxy fighters, and cyber-warfare. He has also edited The case for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

This book records the appalling crimes committed by US forces in Vietnam. It is almost unbearable to read, an album of horrors – murders, torture, rapes, assaults, mutilations and massacres. US forces used 388,091 tons of napalm. The US military used phosphorus bombs, and bought 322 million cluster bombs.

An army report admitted that torture by US troops was ‘standard practice’. Turse notes, “Lieutenant Francis Reitemeyer recalled that, while at the Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, he was taught to use ‘the most extreme forms of torture’.”

The commander of US forces in Vietnam, General William Westmoreland (generally known, for good reason, as Wastemoreland), said, “As the philosophy of the Orient expresses it, life is not important.” This meant, Oriental lives are not important. The soldiers’ common talk was ‘if it’s dead and Vietnamese, it’s Viet Cong’, ‘get the body count’, ‘search-and-destroy’ operations, ‘free-fire zones’, ‘kill, kill, kill’, ‘kill everything that moves’, dinks, gooks, slopes and slants.

Turse sums up, “The most sophisticated analysis yet of wartime mortality in Vietnam, a 2008 study by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, suggested that a reasonable estimate might be 3.8 million violent war deaths, combatant and civilian.”

These 3.8 million war deaths included two million civilians. In addition, 5.3 million civilians were injured, a quarter of them children under 13 years old. This, of a South Vietnamese population of 20 million.

Arthur Westing observed, “Despite a year of frontline combat experience in Korea, and despite three previous trips to Indochina to study the war zones of Cambodia and South Vietnam, I was unprepared for the utter devastation that confronted us wherever we turned. Our tour took us through much of the lowland region and some of the central hilly region. Never were we out of sight of an endless panorama of crater fields. As far as we could determine not a single permanent building, urban or rural, remained intact: no private dwellings, no schools, no libraries, no churches or pagodas and no hospitals. Moreover, every last bridge and even culvert had been bombed to bits. The one rail line through the province was also obliterated.”

In 1969, General Wastemoreland appointed Lieutenant General William Peers to head an inquiry into the My Lai massacre of 500 civilians. But the inquiry’s findings were hidden and lied about, because as Turse comments, “The Pentagon was especially dismayed that Peers had chronicled not only the slaughter at My Lai by Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, but also the killings carried out on the same day in the nearby village of My Khe by the men of Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry. The whole Pentagon strategy centered on portraying My Lai as a one-off aberration, rather than part of a consistent pattern of criminality resulting from policies set at the top. Having two different massacres carried out within hours of each other by two entirely different army units in two separate villages was hardly compatible with that message.”

Turse notes the huge, systematic cover-up of all these war crimes, by Presidents and others, including Colin Powell, the future secretary of state.

Turse points out, “Indeed, an astonishing number of marine court-martial records of the era have apparently been destroyed or gone missing. Most air force and navy criminal investigation files that may have existed seem to have met the same fate. Even before this, the formal investigation records were an incomplete sample at best; as one veteran of the secret Pentagon task force told me, knowledge of most cases never left the battlefield. Still, the War Crimes Working Group files alone demonstrated that atrocities were committed by members of every infantry, cavalry, and airborne division, and every separate brigade that deployed without the rest of its division – that is, every major army unit in Vietnam.”

The US war against Vietnam was itself a crime, the crime of aggression, and every single unit of the US armed forces was guilty of war crimes.

When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914-1921
When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq, 1914-1921
by Professor Charles Townshend
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine account of a horrible war, 2 Jun. 2014
The British occupation of Iraq during the First World War reveals all too clearly the crimes entailed by Empire.

Professor Townshend describes “the extreme violence of punitive measures used by the army.” For example, he cites Private William Bird of the Dorset battalion, who wrote of dawn raid-and-search operations in Arab villages: several companies of infantry “fix bayonets & rush the houses, any house that refused to open when we first knock, we immediately break down the door, & make prisoners of all the male occupants, we then search everything & everywhere for arms. … Those who attempt to run away are caught by our ring of men outside the village. They are treated as combatants & meet their end on the scaffold. And of course those who shoot at us are either shot or captured & hung in the market square.”

Again, Tom Craig of the Manchester Regiment wrote of the Army’s ‘punitive columns’, “The Modus Opperandi is as follows – the artillery ‘strafes’ the nearest village where most probably the marauders came from. Sometimes they get the wrong village which matters little! And after an hour or two’s bombardment a ‘strafing’ party of infantry, the exact numbers depends on the size of the village, go and proceed to ‘wipe out’ all who are foolish enough to wait for us. Gurkhas, in particular, like these jobs and can be relied on to scientifically ‘despatch’ all inhabitants mostly per the ‘kukri’ methods, bury them and burn down the village and have everything tidied up before we arrive.”

The government had nearly 900,000 troops there trying to hold down the Iraqi people. But in the end, it had to withdraw the troops, mission uncompleted.

Slaughter and Deception at Batang Kali
Slaughter and Deception at Batang Kali
by Ian Ward
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Exposes an atrocity, 23 May 2014
Malaya was the Empire’s biggest asset: between 1949 and 1953, it sent £204 million in profits, interest and dividends to shareholders in Britain. From 1948 to 1960, the British state fought a colonial war against Malaya’s national liberation. Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer, who was both High Commissioner and Director of Operations, admitted that the people opposed the British intervention when he said, “If only I had the support of the Malayan people I could bring this war to a speedy ending.” The British state, then and now, slandered the national liberation movement’s members and supporters as CTs, Communist Terrorists.

The British army pioneered many of the brutal methods that US forces used later in Vietnam and elsewhere. The government called the war ‘the emergency’ because, as the Colonial Secretary admitted, “if we called this war we should presumably have to deal with our prisoners under international Conventions, which would not allow us to be as ruthless as we are now.”

A British officer, Robert Thompson, who later advised the US forces in Vietnam, launched the ‘strategic hamlets’ scheme. The army forcibly resettled more than a million people. It also resettled 25,000 forest people, the Orang Asli, 7,000 of whom died in the camps. The deputy commissioner of police admitted that the condition of the internment camps was ‘worse than that experienced by internees under the Jap regime’.

The RAF carried out large-scale bombing, using 1,000-pound bombs. British forces carried out collective punishments, reprisals, and high levels of casual violence against innocent civilians. An estimated 4,000 civilians were killed. Templer said he used “special squads of jungle fighters . . . they will really be ‘killer squads’ (though I promise you I won’t call them that, with a view to the questions in the House.)”

On 12 December 1948, G Company, 2nd battalion Scots Guards massacred 24 unarmed workers. The British and colonial authorities at once claimed that they were ‘shot while attempting to escape’. The General Officer Commanding Malaya, Major General Sir Charles Boucher, and the Colonial Chief Secretary Sir Alec Newboult started the cover-up, which the British state has continued ever since. On 26 January 1949 the Labour government’s Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones lied that there had been a ‘full investigation’. The Malayan Attorney-General’s report on the massacre mysteriously vanished and all relevant records were destroyed.

The only paper in Britain that reported the story was the Daily Worker, which wrote, truthfully, of 24 “unarmed workers shot down in cold blood.” (4 January 1949.) But Ward and Miraflor choose to denigrate the paper rather than praise its unique honesty. They write of its ‘heavy pro-communist bias’, ‘staunchly pro-communist viewpoint’, ‘strong pro-communist bias’ and its ‘unabashed ideological bias’, but make no effort to show that this alleged bias impaired the integrity of its analysis.

22 years later, The People, on 1 February 1970, revealed some of the truth about the massacre. Labour’s Defence Secretary Denis Healey lied to the House of Commons, on 4 February 1970, about The People’s approach to the Ministry of Defence. Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe said that the authorities should consider prosecuting the editor of The People for criminal libel. Four of the guardsmen admitted that they had killed the villagers in cold blood, but the government refused to accept their evidence and called off the inquiry.

The authors sneer at the Daily Worker’s successor: “Predictably the communist Morning Star devoted much of its front page [of 2 February 1970] to the Batang Kali story that Monday.” And, “the Morning Star characteristically referred to the colonial government’s handling of Batang Kali as ‘that hoariest of hoary cover-up stories’.”

On 9 July 1970, the Conservative Attorney-General Sir Peter Rawlinson repeated in the House of Commons the old lie that there had been a ‘full investigation’.

The authors have repeatedly requested permission to view Detective Chief Superintendent Frank Williams’ July 1970 report on Scotland Yard’s investigation, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. This has always been refused, although on 19 July 2007, the Information Commissioner’s Office did admit ‘the Batang Kali massacre’.

The Communists, and they alone, told the truth about the massacre right from the start. The British state lied about it, from that day to this.

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