Category: war

War & terrorism differentiated by the power the state has at its disposal

By Daniel Margrain

The twisted ideology of terrorist Mohammed Emwazi (Jihadi John) is as repugnant as it is depraved and inhumane. It’s to the credit of the family members of those individuals Emwazi killed, such as the widow of David Haines, that they stated publicly the preferable course of action would have been to have ensured the killer was brought to trial. This would of course have been the legal and moral approach to have taken. Moreover, it would have emphasized the divide between the democratic process pertaining to justice on the one hand, and the illegal act of extra judicial killing on the other. It’s this principled divide that separates liberal democracies from that of terrorist barbarism.

It was therefore revealing that David Cameron praised the “quick fix” nature of Emwazi’s political assassination, while Jeremy Corbyn agreed with the family members by expressing grave doubts about the government’s policy of extrajudicial killing. Cameron’s subsequent cynical political grandstanding in front of the world’s media was intended to give the false impression that the West are winning the battle against ISIS while simultaneously depicting Corbyn as weak and unpatriotic.

But the reality is that the “patriotism” implied by Cameron’s stance on Ermwazi’s death resulted in the latter’s martyrdom which the terrorist sought from the beginning. Thus the likelihood is that his killing will be a further recruiting agent for ISIS in Syria that the attacks in Paris are an extension of.

As the words from the terrorist statement claiming responsibility for the slaughter in the French capital make clear, the kinds of sadists who gloat about the massacring of people enjoying their warm Friday evening in the bars and cafes of the city are warped individuals who have no moral or ethical scruples about who they kill or how.

But it’s also worth highlighting that among the religious obscurantist language contained in the statement, there are also references to “Crusader’s” which although on the surface is crude, is nevertheless an expression of something that’s fundamentally political in nature. In that sense, the statement is no different from the majority of Bin Laden’s public statements in that it provides secular, not religious rationales for the attacks.

Nowhere in the statement does it justify terrorism against the West as a means of subordinating Western unbelievers to the true faith, but uses the phrase “crusader nations” when describing Germany and France “attended by the imbecile of France (Francois Hollande).” This is the political underpinning to the dirty and inhumane method of terrorism displayed by the psychopathic killers.

The question is, would the killers have used these kinds of methods if they had at their disposal the high-tech operations and “clean” logistical tactics of their French counterparts that preceded the attacks? This includes Hollande’s 2012 arming of Syrian rebels that are in breach of a UN embargo, the emergence of France as the most prominent backer of Syria’s armed opposition, and its direct funding of rebel groups around Aleppo as part of the push to oust the embattled Assad regime. In addition, there is evidence of further French complicity in aiding opposition groups as well as Hollande’s pro-regime change rhetoric here and here, and fighter jet deals here and here.

The fact that the terrorists are unable to compete with the violence that powerful state actors can dish out means that the damage the latter are able to inflict is much more extensive and devastating than anything a suicide bomber can inflict. It is a mistake to think that all the individuals who fight under the ISIS banner are driven exclusively by ideological Islamist motives or that the terrorists represent an existential threat to our way of life.

It’s important to highlight some context in relation to this latter point. Terrible as these attacks were, they killed 0.01% – that’s one in ten thousand – of the population of Paris. There are over 600 murders a year in France. Many more people die every year in traffic accidents in Paris than were killed in this atrocity.

It’s arguably the case that many who ascribe to the ISIS death cult do so because they have, in part, been radicalized as the result of a deep sense of injustice and oppression which is then expressed by a commitment to a religious outlook and way of behaving. I disagree with the view of many of those on the “left” who argue that Islamist terrorism has nothing at all to do with Islam. It’s my contention that those who commit terrorist acts often self identify as Muslims so for them Islam is the issue.

The fact that tolerant Muslims claim that their radical counterparts are not authentic Muslims seems to me to be a canard because both factions will justify their own actions by recourse to their own specific interpretations and cherry picking of their religious book in order, in the case of the latter, to justify secular political grievances. This was the case of what is known of the background of one of the 9/11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta:

“The grievances he loudly and frequently articulated against the United States and the Muslim autocracies that the United States supports were almost entirely secular. Most of those who knew him before 1996 stress not Atta’s religious piety…but his implacable fury at the plight of the poor and the indifference of the rich… He was bitterly angry at the visible juxtaposition, in Cairo, of extravagant and frivolous luxury with mass squalor and hopelessness. Egypt’s elite, in particular, was hypocritical, he believed. They showed a ‘democratic face’ to the West, while displaying complete indifference to the misery of ordinary people at home. They had sold their country to the West for trinkets.”

Just as Emile Henry, the French bomber of the café at the Gare St Lazare more than a century ago, saw bourgeois women and children as “guilty” by association, so there are people suffering from imperialism across the world (and not just Muslims) who see the ordinary inhabitants of the oppressor nation as equally “guilty” by association with what “their” nation is doing. This is a terrible inversion of the argument that says that because Hollande, Cameron and Obama were elected, their actions in unleashing war are legitimate. The terrorist logic is that the population cannot be “innocent” because they voted for these politician’s. This is the politics of despair.

The only “strategy” the West seems to have against the ISIS terrorists which extends beyond the “sticking plaster” approach implied by extrajudicial killing, appears to be to continue to drop more indiscriminate bombs from a great height on the people of Syria creating the kind of collateral damage that the sadists who created the carnage in Paris could only dream of. This is because the West is not fighting a traditional standing army of a recognized state that’s easily identifiable, but a set of well armed, financed and organised collection of individuals who are highly mobile.

Leading Western politicians’ seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that what is supposed to separate our democracies from the tyranny of the terrorists is the concept of the rule of law. Our leaders’ promotion of a policy of bombing Syria “even harder” towards democracy makes us no different in essence from the tactics used by the terrorists we condemn, thus making the concepts of war and terrorism distinguishable from one another only in as much as the former is indicative of state power.

Putin calls Obama’s bluff

By Daniel Margrain

On the October 7 edition of Channel 4 News, anchor Jon Snow said of Russia’s firing of 26 cruise missiles on eleven targets in Syria from ships in the Caspian sea, as “a significant escalation in the Syrian crisis”. The reporter Jonathan Rugman belittled Putin’s attempt at cooperating with the American’s despite the fact that it was president Obama who denied the former the coordinates with which to target ISIS. Instead, Russia has reportedly attacked CIA backed rebels with the apparent aim of scuppering their hopes of toppling the Assad regime.

The context in which Russia has entered the conflict comes on the back of 3,731 coalition air strikes on Syria since August 2014, the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people in the four and a half years of the “civil war” and, as the Washington Post quoting US officials reported in June, the CIA have trained and equipped nearly 10,000 “rebel” terrorist fighters. According to Patrick Cockburn, half of the 22 million Syrians have been either displaced inside the country or are external refugees. Syria represents one of the last bastions of resistance to US power and its gateway to Iran.

The illegal US-led invasion and overthrow of the Saddam regime was the catalyst for the current wave of chaos from which Al-Qaeda and then ISIS emerged which, according to a recently declassified US intelligence report, written in August 2012, was a development the United States government welcomed.

The report also indicates that the US effectively welcomed the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an Al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies Al-Qaida in Iraq and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” – and states that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria. Raising the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”,

The Pentagon report continues, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)”. This is consistent with the charge that the initial violence in March 2011 (on the back of the Arab Spring) in the border city of Dara’a involved covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence in which radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel) played a part. Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement. Jeremy Salt, associate professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics at Bilkent University, Ankara,wrote:

“The armed groups are well armed and well organised. Large shipments of weapons have been smuggled into Syria from Lebanon and Turkey. They include pump action shotguns, machine guns, Kalashnikovs, RPG launchers, Israeli-made hand grenades and numerous other explosives. It is not clear who is providing these weapons but someone is, and someone is paying for them.”

This is not to say the US created Al-Qaeda- ISIS, but it has certainly exploited its existence against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western hegemony. Moreover, the Gulf states are backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. These are the groups Russia is reportedly requesting coordinates for, but which the US is refusing. The US also supports Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen which over the last few days have killed hundreds of civilians.

Obama’s policy is as weak and muddled as Putin’s is strong and clear. Syrian’s understand that ISIS and it’s affiliates won’t be defeated by the same powers that brought them to Iraq which is why they want Russia to intervene to help regain some kind of control over a situation that long ago spun out of control. They understand that prior to Iraq there was relative stability in the region and therefore prefer Assad remaining in power than the chaos the west has brought.

Peace cannot return to Syria and Iraq until ISIS is defeated which, for it’s own narrow geopolitical and strategic interests, America has no intention of letting happen. Regardless, Putin seems intent on forcing the hand of his imperialist adversary.

At his news conference on Friday, Obama said, “in my discussions with President Putin, I was very clear that the only way to solve the problem in Syria is to have a political transition that is inclusive — that keeps the state intact, that keeps the military intact, that maintains cohesion, but that is inclusive — and the only way to accomplish that is for Mr. Assad to transition [out], because you cannot rehabilitate him in the eyes of Syrians. This is not a judgment I’m making; it is a judgment that the overwhelming majority of Syrians make.”

But Obama did not explain how he knew what “the overwhelming majority of Syrians” want. Many Syrians – especially the Christians, Alawites, Shiites and secular Sunnis – appear to see Assad and his military as their protectors, the last bulwark against the horror of a victory by the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which is a major player in the so-called “Army of Conquest,” as both groups make major gains across Syria.

Obama’s inaction against the terrorists he effectively supports as part of what is now widely accepted as a policy of regime change in Syria, has been exposed by Putin for what it is. Obama adopted a similar approach toward Libya which is now a failed state. Putin’s decisive intervention in Syria is the third time he has wrong-footed Obama – the first when he called him out over the veto with regards to UN resolution 1973 in relation to Libya, and the second was his overstepping of Obama’s ‘red line’ in respect to the unproven Assad-chemical weapons allegations.

True Lies

By Daniel Margrain

In a media age in which information is filtered and people can be bought and sold like any other commodity, it can appear to be abnormal not to be suspicious of people who have a tendency to express too much truthfulness in their rhetoric. It takes time to adjust to trusting people who speak the truth – especially to power. One wise man once said that we hear so many lies until the truth sounds weird to us.

The Corbyn phenomena is an example of this. Many of us know deep down that he speaks with an authentic voice, but so brainwashed have many of us become, often all that it takes to offset this is a repeated demonizing phrase in the media. If a lie is repeated enough times the deceit will eventually be regarded as a universal truth and so reversing it, as Orwell alluded to, becomes a subversive act. This doesn’t merely apply to what could be described as formal dictatorships but is relevant to liberal democracies too.

In these dark and surreal times, the propaganda of deceit and illusion, legitimized by a compliant corporate media machine, touches all our lives in the way advertising does. The aim of mainstream news is the consumption of infotainment – an instant gratification fix akin to consuming fast food. Edward Bernays, who invented the term, “public relations” as a euphemism for “propaganda”, predicted this more than 80 years ago.

Bernays foresaw that advertising and public relations would become an unseen power that would come to dominate the political sphere and shape the minds, tastes and ideas of the population. The aim of this “invisible government” is the conquest of us: of our political consciousness, our sense of the world, our ability to think independently, to separate truth from lies.

The latter which is promoted both consciously and subconsciously to the detriment of the former, as Chomsky and Herman acknowledged in their Propaganda Model, is systemic. Conversely, underneath the lies and spin exists a political reality implicit in truth-telling – a marginal process that has to be searched out rather like an investigator looking for the clues of a crime.

Yesterday morning on BBC television I heard Prime Minister David Cameron accusing Russia of indiscriminate attacks in Syria, as if it’s actually possible to discriminate between one set of terrorists (many supported by the CIA) from a multiplicity of others when bombing from a great height. Predictably, Cameron’s comment went unchallenged by journalists but it did make for a good soundbite. That was, of course, the point.

Later in the day, I checked out the BBC web page which ran with the headline “Cameron condemn’s Russia’s strikes in Syria”. Needless to say, there was no subsequent headline that read “UK accuses US over Afghan strikes” So how can this discrepancy not be in breach of the BBC Charter that prides itself on its supposed impartiality? The answer might have something to do with the fact that the head of the “objective” BBC News is James Harding, Murdoch’s former editor at The Times.

The implication of the BBC report is that the strikes by Russia are indicative of it being the first time a major power has bombed Syria. This is nonsense. In fact, the US-led coalition has conducted 2,579 (2,442 by the US) strikes compared to the eight undertaken by Russia two days ago. Moreover, there is also the assumption that it’s only bombs dropped by the official enemies’ of the Western powers – in this case Russia – that kill human beings and are uniquely destructive.

US and UK bombs have devastated the Middle East for over a decade, killing hundreds of thousands of people, including many thousands of children. But only after Russia started bombing Syria did the media suddenly notice that bombs kill an awful lot of civilians. But only Russian bombs, of course. British bombs are cheerful, happy and their shrapnel and blast are brilliantly engineered only to go in the direction of bad guys. The truth is, no journalist gave a toss about civilian casualties in Syria until two days ago. Neither did they give a toss about the thousands of civilian casualties caused by NATO’s bombing of Sirte in Libya which was approximately 500 times more devastating than the Russian bombings.

It’s also worth mentioning that.Russia is at least the 10th foreign government to launch airstrikes in Syria this year. Other countries other than the United States that have been involved include Britain, Canada, France, Australia, Turkey, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. According to VDC figures, the realities of using force to protect civilians in Syria has thus far resulted in the deaths of 200,000 people, hardly any of them by Russia. This is the context which is missing from all media reports.

That’s not to say that Russia has not been ruthless in its suppression of, for example, the legitimate desire for national independence of the Chechen people, as part of it’s imperial objectives. On the contrary, Russia is an imperialist power who, like the US, is motivated by geopolitical and economic strategic considerations not the protection of civilians. Nevertheless, the historical record shows it’s the American’s more than anybody who have used bombs in an attempt to solve complex political questions as part of their “exceptionalist” world view.

From the initial outbreaks of Syrian violence in March 2011, it was clear that this was not ostensibly a civil war but more of a proxy war that has escalated to become part of the complex conflict that principally involves Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United States, Turkey, Britain and France on one side, and Syria, Russia and Iran on the other. The fact that Syria is a proxy war for multiple external powers -.including the US and Russia –  has not been mentioned by Polly Toynbee or any of the other “experts” when discussing Syria.

The destruction by US bombs several times over the course of a thirty-minute period of the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that killed at least 16 people, among them three children, also comes as a stinging corrective to the media pretense that Russian bombs are somehow uniquely evil and destructive.

“UK accuses US over Afghan strikes” or “US air strike kills Afghan medical staff’ are headlines that don’t appear anywhere on the BBC. Instead they went with “Air Strike kills Afghan medical staff.” When the “other” kill civilians, it’s a sickening, despicable outrage. When “we” kill them, it’s a terrible tragedy; how must the pilots feel? For the last month for which there is data available (August), there were 143 Coalition airstrikes in Afghanistan, the most in ten months.

What’s the media strategy that underpins all this carnage and death? – more carnage and death. The Express headlined with a part crazed propaganda piece and part press release from the arms industry: “UK must prepare for WAR with Russia” Milan Kundera’s phrase “The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting” is more relevant than ever..

 

The hawks edge closer to regime change in Syria.

By Daniel Margrain

At 15.42 UK time today in a speech to the U.N General Assembly in New York, President Obama said this:

“[W]e must recognize that there cannot be – after so much bloodshed, so much carnage – a return to the pre-war status quo [in Syria]. Let’s remember how this started. Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing, and in turn created the environment for the current strife [This is a misrepresentation of the facts]

And so Assad and his allies can’t simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing [there is no evidence that Assad used chemical weapons, and indiscriminate bombing has been undertaken by all sides including Britain]. Realism… requires a managed transition away from Assad towards a new leader.”

Here Obama alluded to the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine as the justification for Assad’s overthrow and, in the name of democracy, the bombing of the Syrian people to death. Earlier today at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, the neocon fanatic, Hilary Benn, was more explicit by actually citing the R2P doctrine by name.

Formulated at the 2005 UN World Summit, the version of R2P currently in vogue and proposed by the [Gareth] Evans Commission, authorises “regional or sub-regional organisations” such as NATO to determine their “area of jurisdiction” and to act in cases where “the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time”.

Often described as an “emerging norm” in international affairs, but in reality has “been considered a norm as far back as we want to go”, R2P has – with the accompaniment of lofty rhetoric about the solemn responsibility to protect suffering populations – been used to illegally overthrow a series of sovereign states, most recently in Libya. On March 18, 2011, the day before NATO launched its assault on that country, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“On the 23rd February the UN Secretary General cited the reported nature and scale of attacks on civilians as “egregious violations of international and human rights law” and called on the government of Libya to “meet its responsibility to protect its people.”‘

In a Guardian piece, Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London, commented:

“International law does not require the world to stand by and do nothing as civilians are massacred on the orders of Colonel Gaddafi…”

They added:

“It would be tragic for the Libyan people if the shadow of Iraq were to limit an emerging “responsibility to protect”, the principle that in some circumstances the use of force may be justified to prevent the massive and systematic violation of fundamental human rights.”

The Guardian was not alone in tirelessly promoting R2P as a basis for a Western war in Libya. Also in March 2011, human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson asked in the Independent:

“Will the world stand idly by once Colonel Gaddafi, a man utterly without mercy, starts to deliver on his threat to “fight to the last man and woman” – and, inferentially, to the last child?”

Robertson also discussed the origins and development of R2P, concluding:

“The duty to stop the mass murder of innocents, as best we can, has crystallised to make the use of force by NATO not merely “legitimate” but lawful.”

Why then, were there no calls for the West to intervene in the aftermath of the July 3, 2013 coup in Egypt that overthrew the democratically-elected government predicated on the R2P doctrine? And why hasn’t the doctrine been used to justify intervening in the brutal dictatorial states’ of the Arab Gulf Peninsula? Could it be the case that R2P is merely a euphemism for regime change in countries that are the Wests official enemies?

Craig Murray said as much today on his blog:

“R2P is the Blairite code for supporting United States military and especially bombing missions abroad. The thesis that Western bombing improves and stabilises countries appears tested well beyond destruction, but the neo-cons stick with it because of the corporate interests it does so much to boost.” 

R2P was simply not an issue for the US-UK alliance in Egypt and neither is it an issue for the dictatorships in the Gulf where the said alliance profits from the sale of weapons that are used against protesters who are fighting for the kinds of democracy it claims to be in favour of. Although the majority of leading politicians’ haven’t yet explicitly invoked the R2P rhetoric as a justification to drive the country into another disastrous war in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron has already gone one step further.

Earlier this month, Cameron cynically exploited the picture of the little drowned boy who fled the city of Kobani which Britain was partly responsible for bombing to pieces. He also responded to the wider humanitarian crisis of mass displacement with a call for a “hard military force” to overthrow Assad and combat ISIS in Syria. The prime minister is working to gain parliamentary support for a potential vote on escalated military action. Earlier today, Cameron argued that there “needs to be a transition from Assad to something else”.

In an open letter released last Saturday actor Mark Rylance, Brian Eno, John Williams, Charlotte Church and other signatories stated:

“Already we have seen the killing of civilians and the exacerbation of a refugee crisis which is largely the product of wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan…Cameron is cynically using the refugee crisis to urge more war….He should not be allowed to.” 

Cameron’s propaganda offensives come in the wake of the governments’ failure to get parliamentary approval to launch air strikes against the Assad regime in August 2013 and more recently, the country’s extrajudicial drone assassination of two of its own citizens supposedly in ‘self-defence’, This was despite the fact that Article 51 of the UN charter states that an “armed attack” must take place against a UN member state before any such response.

From the Iraq debacle onward, there has been an attempt by the Western powers to circumvent the consensus view of what constitutes illegality among the world’s leading international lawyers. The individual who has been instrumental in the interpretative reconfiguration of international law for the benefit of Western interests is the international lawyer, Daniel Bethlehem.

Bethlehem had represented Israel before the Mitchell Inquiry into violence against the people of Gaza, arguing that it was all legitimate self-defence. He had also supplied the Government of Israel with a Legal Opinion that the vast Wall they were building in illegally occupied land, surrounding and isolating all the major Palestinian communities and turning them into large prisons, was also legal. Daniel Bethlehem is an extreme Zionist militarist of the most aggressive kind, and close to Mark Regev, Israel’s new Ambassador to the UK.

In contrast to the consensus view of the world’s leading international lawyers, Daniel Bethlehem’s marginal and extremist position is outlined in a memorandum where he ‘develops’ the Caroline Principle. It is this legal conceptual re-evaluation of international law that has come to dominate Western political discourse. A key part of the memorandum states, “It must be right that states are able to act in self-defence in circumstances where there is evidence of further imminent attacks by terrorist groups, even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.

“It is this minority extremist legal “opinion” that formed the basis for the Iraq invasion. Similarly, it’s almost certainly the case that the same doctrine was used as the justification to murder UK citizens by drone in Syria. The notion that men travelling in a car thousands of miles away were imminently able to wreak havoc in the UK thereby necessitating the need for them to be executed on the spot without trial is obviously ludicrous. Nevertheless, it will almost certainly be Daniel Benjamin, in conjunction with the R2P, that the Western powers will turn to in order to justify the war on the Syrian people.

Fallony

By Daniel Margrain

It’s credit to the Daily Mail for leading with their report about the leaked dossier concerning Alexander Blackman, the Royal Marine serving life for murder. The dossier contains crucial evidence withheld from Alexander Blackman’s court martial into the killing of a mortally wounded Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan.

Military chiefs solely blamed the seargent for the killing. However, the report into the incident says that Blackman’s over-stretched unit was being pushed to be too aggressive, his senior officer was not prepared for the demands of the war zone and that there were signs that Blackman’s unit was cracking up. All these things, the leaked report says, were missed by commander’s.

If not for the investigative work of the Daily Mail who unearthed these details, none of the MOD’s censoring of the admission of command failings in Helmand province would have come to light. What the Mail revealed, in other words, is the fact that the MOD conducted a report into their own actions and put a black line through anything that didn’t make them look good.

It’s report said that the supervision of the commanding officer where Blackman and his men were based was insufficient to identify a number of warning signs that could have indicated that they were showing evidence of moral regression, psychological strain and fatigue. I think you and I would show evidence of moral regression if somebody was shooting at us while we were at work.

The Mail says that this shows that officers were partly responsible for the extreme state that Blackman was in when he pulled the trigger. The report is now going to form a major plank of his battle for justice which was debated in Parliament two days ago. The Mail’s discovery of the full executive summary of the report was followed by minsters’ caving in to demands from Blackman’s lawyers to have confidential access to all its 50 pages. Who is the MOD protecting?

It’s not for the benefit of the country that this report was blacked out. It’s surely for the benefit of pen-pushers in the MOD. “Blackman and his troops were at breaking point”, says the Mail after a “tour from hell in Hellmand province that had seen comrades tortured and killed.” But the Mail investigation discovered that Blackman’s court martial was blocked from hearing the truth about these mitigating circumstances. Had this not been the case, he might of faced a manslaughter charge instead of murder.

The executive summary of the Navy’s report into the shooting that was leaked to the Mail is marked “official-sensitive”. It lays bare how commanders were blind to the psychological strain and fatigue endured by Blackman and his men. The fact that the damning conclusion is blotted out with censors’ black ink illustrates how the UK government refuse to acknowledge that there are any systemic problems within the corridors of power. On the contrary, they have shifted criticism towards how the leak got into the hands of the media in the first place.

Meanwhile, in response to a question from Green Party MP Caroline Lucas about the number of airstrikes undertaken ostensibly against ISIL by the British over the past year. Fallon said the estimated number of ISIL fighters killed as a result of UK strikes from September 2014 to 31 August 2015 is around 330. “This figure is highly approximate, ”he said, not least given the absence of UK ground troops in a position to observe the effects of strike activity.” He added that he believed that no civilians had been injured or killed by such strikes. 

This announcement follows the extrajudicial murder of two British citizens in Syria justified on the highly implausible grounds that the alleged terrorists presented an imminent threat to the population in Britain thousands of miles away. It’s hence an absurdity that the government acted in self-defense. What Fallon’s announcement and the conviction of Blackman for murder highlight is a major contradiction.

Michael Fallon effectively admits that the British government doesn’t have the faintest idea how many people have been killed by British airstrikes in the year up to 31 August 2015. If he doesn’t know how many have been killed, it follows that he doesn’t know who has been killed and in what circumstances. Therefore he is unable to conclude, as he did, that it’s his belief that “no civilians had been injured or killed by such strikes”.

Logically, it’s only possible to claim you are under imminent threat from terrorists if you are able to identify the nature of the said threat and the only way to do that is to be able to identify those who are allegedly threatening you. How then, can the government claim self defense under such vague circumstances? Dropping bombs from a great height in order to supposedly ‘target’ terrorists can never be precise despite the propaganda claims to the contrary. Killing in this way is necessarily indiscriminate.

How can it be justified that officers’ who were partly responsible for the extreme state of mind of one of their underlings and a foreign secretary who oversees them all, get a free pass for murder (in terms of the latter, mass murder), while the guy at the bottom who pulled the trigger as a result of the actions of the said officers that led to his conviction, gets life imprisonment?

It’s reasonable to assume that there are certain circumstances in which somebody on the battlefield who is showing evidence of moral regression, psychological strain and fatigue and whose life would almost always be under imminent threat could be justified in killing an enemy combatant. But it’s impossible to envisage the mitigating circumstances by which it could be justified for others higher up the chain of command who oversee or give orders to somebody else to press a button on a computer screen in order to release bombs from a great height that would, by their very nature, kill large amounts of innocent people indiscriminately within the vicinity of the intended “target”.

Cameron defended the imprisonment of Blackman prior to an intended visit to see the Afghan president, So it would appear that Blackman is the political fall guy in this sorry saga whilst his friend, Fallon, gets off the hook. Blackman was prosecuted so why not Fallon?

Liberal Democratic Drone Assassins