Blog Archives

British politicians: stop shouting adjectives, banging drums and dropping bombs (Jenkins) and exert unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement (Corbyn)

Paul Ingram, executive director of BASIC*, commented on Simon Jenkins’ statement quoted in today’s article on another website:

“It is a war crime to disable, maim or poison a victim by chemical or biological means, yet it is permissible to blow them to bits. Dropping chlorine evokes howls of horror. Dropping bunker busters does not. Cluster munitions, the most horrible of delayed action weapons, remain in the arsenals of NATO armies”.

Paul (left) wrote: “Fair enough, and of course I agree that the war mongering these last two days, particularly by the BBC, is shocking indeed. But to equate CW with other munitions is to miss the point that they are expressly illegal, and we have to be building up stronger humanitarian law piece by piece and defending strongly those pieces already in place”.

The editor replied: “Yes, I think Jenkins could have made a valid point just by referring to conventional bombs”. After checking on the illegality of cluster bombs she asked Paul, “Did US ever sign this?”

He replied, “No, I don’t think the US is a signatory. It certainly hasn’t ratified” and continued:

“I was on Russia Today yesterday saying that the best response for the Russians now would be to strengthen their call for a UN Security Council meeting and present all the evidence they have that the chemical weapons attack was not a Syrian air force one … or to come up with further evidence for their current explanation.

“The worst aspect of the cruise missile attack was the way it by-passed the UN Security Council and was illegal and is a major step in the direction of unilateralism and flagrant use of force.

“There are plenty of conspiracy theories going around, but the consequences are that Russia will no longer tolerate US aircraft over Syria and will strengthen the S300-400 systems that appear to have shot a majority of the 59 cruise missiles out of the sky.

“… and I see that Russia is sending its own missile destroyer into the Med today”.



Will parliament stand firm again?

*The British American Security Information Council (BASIC) works to address security challenges by building confidence in a shared, sustainable security agenda. We work in both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states, with a specific expert focus on the UK, US, Europe and the Middle East.




The Global Minotaur, a monster born in the ‘70s, became the ‘engine’ pulling the world economy from the early ‘80s to 2008

News of Zed Books’ free e-book from the new finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, has been received.

Yanis Varoufakis 2The Troika – a group of auditors representing the Commission, the European Central Bank and IMF – has been shaken this week by Syriza’s election victory in Greece.

Promising a backlash against EU fiscal policy, Alexis Tspiras’ young leftist party intends to address the austerity regime punishing Europe.

At the centre of the political storm is Yanis Varoufakis, a former economics professor, appointed as finance minister of the new Greek coalition government. Varoufakis has already described austerity as a form of “fiscal waterboarding”, and promised that Syriza will “destroy the Greek oligarchy system”. He has outlined what he sees as the cause of the financial crisis – and his plans for pulling Greece out of it – in his book The Global Minotaur.

global minotaur coverIn recognition of this sea-change in European politics, Zed Books have released a special free e-book containing key extracts from The Global Minotaur, America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy (a modified sub-title). Europe After the Minotaur outlines Varoufakis’ economic and political thinking and his belief that Europe can move beyond cuts and austerity.

Varoufakis shows how today’s crisis in Europe is one inevitable symptom of a global ‘system’ which is now as unsustainable as it is unbalanced. With clarity and conviction, he lays out the options available for reintroducing reason into a highly irrational global economic order. 


To download your free copy of Europe After the Minotaur, follow this link.

For the common good: economists advocate a moral vision to rescue our manipulated, extractive and highly unequal economy

mark mazowerMark Mazower, a British professor of history based at Columbia University, writes in the FT that the moral reasoning that lay behind the Greek election result began from a simple insight: that the economic trauma of the severity Greece has suffered is destroying society:

“With youth unemployment above 50%, an entire generation is being consigned to the scrap heap. At the same time, the notion of the common good is being sacrificed through forced sell-offs of state-owned lands as well as businesses, with the prospect of ecological destruction as a result.

“What is the moral vision the creditor nations propose?

“Frugality is not a policy. And if finance is to serve Europe rather than run it, a notion of the common good needs to be restored. The alternative is an increasingly fractious continent”.

Urban Britain also has a disturbing level of youth unemployment and has sold its state-run utilities for a pittance to foreign companies

michael wilkesTo replace our “desiccated, manipulated, disloyal, extractive and highly unequal economy that has been allowed, and – by some administrations – encouraged”, Birmingham-based economist Emeritus Professor Michael Wilkes advocates a new discipline, socionomics, 

A citizenry of good intent

He acknowledges that the social and moral education needed to produce a citizenry of good intent that will make the socioeconomic system work properly and sustain it for future generations, and that winding back globalisation will take longer and will involve more people and organisations and other countries.

Wilkes advocates certain steps that could be taken immediately:

  • the restoration of equitable and redistributive taxation,
  • the introduction of living wages,
  • the plugging of many loopholes for tax avoidance,
  • the undertaking of thorough corporate reform
  • and the recreation of an active, interventionist and self confident public sector.

He concludes: “These measures would represent leadership in its finest form. This, and the promotion of the concept of stewardship in place of the present self serving forms of ‘leadership’ ”.

NATO Missile Defence: full spectrum protection for Europe – or Boondoggle?

Protracted government/corporate projects involving large numbers of people and heavy expenditure

missile defenceBoondoggle? A project considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet often continued due to extraneous policy motivations. The term “boondoggle” may also be used to refer to protracted government or corporate projects involving large numbers of people and usually heavy expenditure, where at some point, the key operators, having realized that the project will never work, are still reluctant to bring this to the attention of their superiors.

NATO Watch comment by Nigel Chamberlain and Ian Davis:

Missile defence is an incredibly complicated subject in its planning, funding and implementation – if not in its rationale, which seems to be questionable and contentious. The breakdown of what is ostensibly a US, NATO or national asset is opaque and, as a consequence, so is a clear understanding of relative and assigned costs.

What is clear is that costs, both fiscal and geopolitical, are going to be substantial and on-going for some time. That alone should be of concern to national treasuries, parliamentary oversight bodies and citizens in NATO Member States. There is a sense of inevitable and growing momentum behind this endeavour with a good deal of industrial commitment already entrenched and with the prospect of lucrative contracts on the horizon.

Is this drive for missile defence systems in Europe prompted by indicators that coincide with Pentagon and NATO HQ thinking?

Most worryingly, however, is the seemingly negative impact this highly controversial military procurement programme is having on NATO-Russia relations and the absence of any ‘circuit breakers’ to reflect changes in geopolitics (such as the emerging détente with Iran).

Generally, we are led to believe that NATO is seeking to channel European defence spending towards essential military programmes which enhance collective security within the Alliance. Based on this ‘smart defence’ criteria, it is hard not to conclude that the inextricable drive for missile defence systems in Europe is heading in the opposite direction and ignoring all indicators that do not coincide with established thinking inside the Pentagon and NATO HQ.

Their analysis summarised:

  • The assumed problem – increasing threat from missile attack from North Korea, Iran or any other rogue state or non-state actors.
  • The proposed solution build a web of connected radar and communication centres so that various missiles can be launched to intercept them.
  • The cost (financial) – €1.25 billion to 2020, and rising, to European taxpayers collectively, plus large contributions to the development of national systems.
  • The cost (geo-political) – further degradation of relations with Russia which feels threatened by missile deployment encroachment that it views as an extension of NATO enlargement.

Next: Britain’s supportive endeavours.