UK Riots 2011

The recent riots in Britain have taken many Britons by shock. The general reaction of the British people has been adverse, and understandably so. No one wants law and order disrupted, and there is ample evidence that many of those involved in the riots have been engaged essentially in plunder.

However, there were obviously also people who saw rioting as a way of registering a protest. Initially there were strong feelings based on the killing of a man by the police. I have no idea what actually happened in that incident, and I hope the inquiry that has been started will not only find out what happened, but will also do so in a manner that carries conviction. Sadly the history of official British inquiries suggests that their capacity to inspire confidence is minimal.

We all know what happened in the first ‘Bloody Sunday’ inquiry and, even though a second inquiry finally finished after several years, and seemed to many Britons to have moved nearer to the truth, the reaction of Bernadette Devlin suggests that doubts still remain, with the overall responsibility for brutality transferred to individuals, and no proper examination of the policies involved.  

The Hutton Report into the events surrounding David Kelly's death.

Meanwhile a representative of the Liberal Party who came to Sri Lanka to work with our party said quite categorically that David Kelly, the scientist who had blown the whistle on the falsities that the British government had used to promote the attack on Iraq, had been murdered. I had followed the inquiry held on his apparent suicide with interest, because a good friend of mine was involved, and indeed in some sense took the rap because his career in the Civil Service ground to a halt afterwards. I could understand this, given the suspicions that had been engendered and the sense that David Kelly had been badly treated. But the manner in which the inquiry was conducted, to look basically into inadequacies in procedures that might have hounded the man to suicide, now makes me wonder if, with typical British brilliance, the establishment did not manage to divert attention from the more worrying question my Liberal friends advanced.

Certainly the several inquiries held into the Iraq War suggest that, while individuals may be blamed, there is no effort to look into the institutional corruption that can allow individuals to get away with murder. I refer here not only to suspicions with regard to David Kelly, but also the reality of so many Iraqis, not just civilians but the soldiers deemed fair targets because the West wanted regime change in Iraq. That, I was finally told, was the main justification for the war, not the pretexts of association with Al-Qaeda or of weapons of mass destruction that had been so blithely advanced. But the point is, while self-defence is an acceptable reason for war, the desire to change a regime is not.  Sadly, that has now become a way of life with some rulers in the West, and no media outlets of influence will challenge the various excuses put forward to advance self interest, none will explore the inconsistencies and prejudices advanced to justify selective and selfish action.

A recent article by Michel Chossudovsky  however raises a lot of questions about what is happening now in Syria. It claims that ‘the ongoing protest movement is intended to serve as a pretext and a justification to intervene militarily against Syria. The existence of an armed insurrection is denied. The Western media in chorus have described recent events in Syria as a “peaceful protest movement” directed against the government of Bashar Al Assad, when the evidence confirms the existence of an armed insurgency integrated by Islamic paramilitary groups.  

From the outset of the protest movement in Daraa in mid-March, there has been an exchange of fire between the police and armed forces on the one hand and armed gunmen on the other. Acts of arson directed against government buildings have also been committed. In late July in Hama, public buildings including the Court House and the Agricultural Bank were set on fire. Israeli news sources, while dismissing the existence of an armed conflict, nonetheless, acknowledge that “protesters [were] armed with heavy machine guns.” (DEBKAfile August 1, 2001. Report on Hama, emphasis added)’.

Naturally, ‘the White House called, in no uncertain terms, for “regime change” in Syria and the ouster of President Bashar Al Assad….. Covert support has also been channelled to the armed rebel groups’.

If not entirely as a result of the support of the West for what are termed peaceful protests in countries where the West would like regime change, the media presents these protests in a very positive light. The implication is that law and order should be put aside in the service of a good cause. This extended as we know to protests in places where the West did not want a change, but those protests were soon forcibly quelled, and are now referred to only sporadically.

The stage then seemed set for a wholly manipulated presentation of protests, with good protests which the West found attractive and would support to the desired conclusion, and bad protests which had to be suppressed. This was reminiscent of the total cynicism with which the West had developed the concept of good terrorists and bad ones. The former were to be encouraged, so we used to have vivid accounts of the brave heroics of for instance Jonas Savimbi in Angola, the Contras in Nicaragua, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan when its opponents were Russians. There are also suggestions that similar tactics were used in Kosovo, though I should note that the latest article on the subject was published by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, which also published Chossudovsky. His account of what happened in Azerbaijan in 1993 therefore – ‘the mujahedin got to defend Muslims against Russian influence in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, while the Americans got a new president who opened up the oilfields of Baku to western oil companies’ – may need to be examined further.

Unfortunately chickens come home to roost. The utterly cynical use of fundamentalist terrorists to defeat the Soviet Union led to an enormously strengthened organization that was able to perpetrate the monstrosity of 9/11.  Support for Saddam Hussein against Iran led to a well equipped army that invaded Kuwait and was then able to engage in rhetoric that provided a pretext for war. And now the privileging of lawless demonstrations has led to those who see themselves as deprived and discriminated against taking the law into their own hands, and engaging in looting and destruction.

David Cameron "..And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them."

Fascinatingly, given the adulation of the role social media had played in fomenting riots in the Middle East, the British Prime Minister came down hard on what he has now recognized can be abuse. He is now reported to have declared that ‘“Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organised via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality. I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers. Police were facing a new circumstance where rioters were using the BlackBerry Messenger service, a closed network, to organise riots. We’ve got to examine that and work out how to get ahead of them.”’

David Cameron

So much for the free flow of information. But what the British Prime Minister should also examine is the manner in which use and abuse of these new methods of connectivity has been encouraged by training in the West to foment dissension. Such dissension may be seen by Western politicians of a particular mindset as salutary, but they must remember that unscrupulous use of violent dissension is a tool available to all sorts of people, all of whom might be full of self-righteousness in the pursuit of their own interests.

Fortunately those countries that feel threatened by those Western countries that think it is their god-given right to interfere are neither nasty nor powerful enough to engage in destabilization by encouraging forces opposed to governments in those countries to take to the streets. But given the enormous strides in recent years in the use of social media, and the possibility of replicating the training programmes now being conducted for possible recruits to the various networks that are being established, it is only a matter of time before other countries also might start to play similar games.

The result will be chaos. I can only hope then that measures will be taken soon to regulate the methods in which powerful countries interfere with each other. Interactions through economic integration as well as educational exchanges should be encouraged, and this may well help the West to promote the more open and decent of its values. Similarly, the strengthening of international bodies with a balance of power instead of the current domination by a particular mindset will help to resolve difficulties based on the authoritarian or majoritarian approach of particular governments. But the current practice of open season on governments that powerful countries disapprove of must be controlled, because it can only promote instability for everyone.