More by Tariq Ali – Excerpts and Links

28 Jun

The real grievance of the eu and us against Hamas is that it refused to accept the capitulation of the Oslo Accords, and has rejected every subsequent effort, from Taba to Geneva, to pass off their calamities on the Palestinians. The West’s priority now is to break this resistance. Cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority is an obvious weapon with which to bludgeon Hamas into submission. Boosting the presidential powers of Abbas—as publicly picked for his post by Washington as was Bremer in Baghdad—at the expense of the Legislative Council is another.

– Excerpts from Mid-point in the Middle East, an editorial from the New Left Review by Tariq Ali

Chávez’s military studies taught him that the enemy must never be reduced to desperation, since this only makes them stronger. His strategy is to offer escape routes. He and his supporters are not vindictive, and the Western media chorus portraying his regime as authoritarian is wide of the mark. It was in full voice when I was in Caracas. The cause this time was a privately owned TV station (RCTV) whose 20-year licence the government had refused to renew. RCTV, in common with most of the Venezuelan media, was involved in the 2002 coup against Chávez’s (democratically elected) government. RCTV mobilised support for the coup, falsified footage to suggest that Chávez supporters were killing people, and when the coup failed didn’t show any images of Chávez’s triumphant return. A year later they made lengthy appeals to the citizens to topple the government during an opposition-engineered oil strike. Again, they were not alone, but their appeals actively encouraged violence.

Asked by a Guardian reporter whether I supported the decision, I said I did. He was shocked: ‘But now the opposition is without its TV channel.’ I asked whether the opposition in Britain or anywhere else in Europe or America had ‘its TV’? Which Western government would tolerate any of this? Thatcher refused to renew Thames TV’s franchise, and it had merely shown one critical documentary. Blair sacked Greg Dyke and neutered the BBC. Bush has the luxury of uncritical news channels, and Fox TV as a propaganda network.

– Excerpts from LRB Diary: Caracas/Cochabamba, 21 June 2007

The decision triggered off a remarkable social movement. Initially confined to the country’s 80,000 lawyers and several dozen judges, it soon began to spread. This in itself came as a surprise to a country whose people have become increasingly alienated from elite rule whose roots are rotten. Also worth noting is that this civil society opposition to a crude decision had nothing to do with religion. It was a defence of judicial independence (however nominal) against the executive. The lawyers who marched on the streets did so to insist on a separation of constitutional powers. There is something delightfully outmoded and old-fashioned about this struggle. It involved neither money nor religion, but principle. As respect for the movement grew, bandwagon careerists from the opposition (some of whom had organised their own thuggish assaults on the supreme court when in power) made the cause their own.

– Excerpts from Pakistan: The General And The Judge, May 16, 2007

If this judgment seems unduly harsh, let me quote Rodric Braithwaite, a former senior adviser to Blair, writing in the Financial Times on August 2 2006: “A spectre is stalking British television, a frayed and waxy zombie straight from Madame Tussaud’s. This one, unusually, seems to live and breathe. Perhaps it comes from the CIA’s box of technical tricks, programmed to spout the language of the White House in an artificial English accent … Mr Blair has done more damage to British interests in the Middle East than Anthony Eden, who led the UK to disaster in Suez 50 years ago. In the past 100 years we have bombed and occupied Egypt and Iraq, put down an Arab uprising in Palestine and overthrown governments in Iran, Iraq and the Gulf. We can no longer do these things on our own, so we do them with the Americans. Mr Blair’s total identification with the White House has destroyed his influence in Washington, Europe and the Middle East itself: who bothers with the monkey if he can go straight to the organ-grinder?”

– Excerpts from Famed as a favourite attack dog in the imperial kennel, May 11, 2007

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