Blog Archives

Iran: Western media misreporting the demos fomented by ‘soft power’

The BBC World Service radio this morning, Radio 4’s Broadcasting House – and other mainstream media – offered distorted reporting:

  • first headlining the “iron fist” threat and repeating this several times, before acknowledging its conditionality ‘if political unrest continues’
  • and failing to focus on the far larger rallies supporting the Iranian government

They stressed that the demonstrations erupted over falling living standards, but Iranian interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli said that those people in the larger demos realised this was due to imposed sanctions – but the BBC website chose only to report his words about the consequences of damage to public property, disrupting order and breaking the law.

The USA’s use of soft power to foment unrest has been effective with many worldwide

The use of soft power was touched on in a linked site in 2015. We quote: “Hard power is exerted by financial inducements, invasion and remote killing by drone aircraft. Soft power sounds quite benign, but as Joseph Nye points out in The Future of Power (2011, left), it can be wielded for good or ill: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all possessed a great deal of soft power. He adds: “It is not necessarily better to twist minds than to twist arms”.

An illusion of a free society (‘liberating minds’) is presented and a consumerist culture cultivated. One actor in this drive is the Human Rights Foundation, whose approving Wikipedia entry emphasises its insistence on ‘economic freedom’. In Central and South America and the Middle East it has paved the way for the overthrow of regimes which would not co-operate.

Has it escalated in Iran after its threat to further ‘eliminate’ use of the dollar?

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said to Putin in November: “we can nullify US sanctions, using methods such as eliminating the dollar and replacing it with national currencies”. Forbes earlier reported that this policy would be implemented. Several countries have not fared well after ‘ditching the dollar’:

  • In 2002 North Korea’s state-run Korean Trade Bank announced a ban on the use of US dollars in daily payment and settlement for its citizens and foreigners.
  • In 2003 Coilin Nunan wondered: “Could one reason for the US wish for ‘regime change’ in Iraq and unprecedented European opposition to such a project be Iraq’s decision two years earlier to accept euros only as payment for its oil, instead of the customary dollars? Could America’s current focus on Iran be similarly explained?”
  • In 2004 Fidel Castro decreed that the dollar would no longer be legal for commercial transactions.

It should be stressed that the soft power illusions of total normality, freedom and prosperity are a confidence trick. The unmentioned features of the USA, a country which young Iranians and others have been led by soft power to admire as ‘an ideal state of freedom’, include pollution, child abuse, violent pornography, inequality of opportunity, youth unemployment, high cost housing and military aggression.

 

 

 

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Would MP Tom Watson work well with Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party deputy leader?

 

tw picA message in support of Tom Watson (also not FT approved) has been received from a Labour Party registered supporter who had been ‘terribly downhearted and disillusioned by the election result but didn’t necessarily believe that anything would change’.

This correspondent signed up to vote in the leadership election because she now thinks it might and is convinced that, whoever we elect as leader, (and she is backing Jeremy Corbyn) choosing Tom Watson as deputy is a crucial part of the change the country needs. Many potential CLP electors agree as the snapshot from his website on the left shows. She points out:

tw 2 supportHe’s also a conviction politician who stood up against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation when nobody else would.

He had his garage broken into, people went through his bins and he was put under covert surveillance. At times he feared for his own and his family’s safety, but he kept going because that’s what he’s like, and he won. Other points:

  • Historic child abuse survivors began to contact him about organised cover-ups at the heart of the Establishment. The world told him to leave it alone. Again, he refused, and now several police inquiries are underway.
  • He set up the All Party Drones Group to campaign against CIA extra-judicial killings. Some Labour politicians said it was bad politics. Tom said it was the right thing to do.
  • He became the first MP to Judicially Review government primary legislation, successfully, over the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act – in a joint action with Liberty and the Open Rights Group.
  • In the last Parliament he opposed the military actions in Libya and Syria.
  • Wide experience: MP since 2001, former full-time trade union official, Government Minister, Government Whip, Deputy Chair of the Party.

But power-hungry? Union bound?

Jim Pickard in the FT quotes an un-named Labour MP: “It mostly seems to be about power with Watson, I would have more sympathy if his manoeuvres were for a bigger cause or purpose. He just sees politics as a game.”

Friends reject that claim, pointing out that he has resigned three times from government or party positions. “Why would he walk away from power if it was so important to him?” says one. Critics answer that Mr Watson’s influence in the party is so great that he can wield power without needing a title.

Mr Watson’s union ties also came under close and damaging scrutiny in Pickard’s article.

But would he, as our correspondent claims, be a unifier? And would Tom Watson wholeheartedly support and co-operate with Jeremy Corbyn if both are elected?

While Huhne fiddles Britain burns: David Hencke sets media priorities in perspective

His blog mentions – amongst other coverage – the Guardian and Channel Four “mea culpa” interviews with Chris Huhne – one given according to the Standard to the journalist best man at his wedding, adding:

“What next? The creation of a Huhne concerto by piano playing Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger to commemorate the event or an Anna Wintour fashion show to raise cash for Vicky Pryce’s convalescence . . .”.

“No matter. My main point is that this is a distraction.

“While all this goes on thousands of people are being forced to move house because of cruel government policies, there is an epidemic of unsolved child abuse cases and the NHS appears to have let patients die unnecessarily on an epic scale.

“Literally While Huhne fiddles Britain burns”.