Globalization and terror: the O’Loan report


Nuala O’Loan’s recent report on UK government security forces’ collusion with Loyalist death squads in the north of Ireland points up various historical reminders of relevance now as the Bush regime, supported by its European and Pacific allies, ratchets up conflict with Iran. The distance to travel is not great in terms of either geography or time and the reminders show that imperialism’s ideological rationale and practice hardly change from one century to the next.  The UN forces’ Christmas massacre in Cite Soleil in  Haiti (1), the almost daily murders by Israeli occupation troops in Palestine, the horrific reckless killings and outright mass murder by US and allied forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Somalia too, all follow the same imperialist logic.

O’Loan’s report dealt with a string of up to fifteen murders carried out by Loyalist death squads with the knowledge and collusion of the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s Special Branch . On the one hand, her report confirms in more detail UK government forces’ collusion in terror that had been common knowledge from at least as long ago as the arrest in 1990 of British double-agent Brian Nelson, jailed subsequently in 1992 for his role in conspiring to commit five murders in the 1980s. (2) On the other hand, the report leaves open the extent of the collusion, noting, that “up to six officers at the level of assistant chief constable or detective chief superintendent in the Special Branch refused to cooperate. They either did not reply to requests for interviews or their lawyers sent letters on their behalf refusing to take part.” (3)

 

As Irish opposition leader Enda Kenny said of the RUC, given the “shocking and appalling culture of collusion and illegality…..one could only wonder what other unacceptable practices remain hidden from the public.” (4) Still, Prime Minister Blair’s Irish  proconsul Peter Hain may well be right when he observes in his official statement, “As the Report acknowledges, policing in Northern Ireland has changed radically since the Patten reforms were implemented and new robust systems are in place to ensure that the failures of the past will not and cannot be repeated.”  Hain’s statement offers stone-cold comfort to the families of murdered human rights defenders Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson and the relatives of the numerous other victims of terror promoted by agents of the British government.

 

Old colonial spots – EU unchanged

 

In Ireland and the United Kingdom now, all mainstream political options are New Labour – the logic of corporate consumer capitalism has levelled differences to the point where all the British and Irish political parties strain to offer varieties of corporate capitalism with a human face. Europe‘s political leadership in general pretends that their countries’ prosperity is not sustained at the expense of the world’s poor majority through the gross injustice of current international debt, trade and aid arrangements. In Ireland , Sinn Fein has been co-opted by Europe‘s dominant centrist-social democrat political ideology. The colonial apparatus of repression deployed against them through the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties has long been redundant.

 

The colonialist death squad  machinery of terror, its operatives and managerial staff have shifted to Iraq, Afghanistan and the bogus “war on terror”, dismissed recently as a fiction even by Britain’s Director of Public Prosecutions, a lonely voice of dissent from the official line by a public functionary. (5) Samir Amin is certainly right when he notes (6) that most people in Europe believe, falsely, that their prosperity is based overwhelmingly on the inherent superiority and efficiency of their economic system. They tend to forget their good fortune is principally the unjust inheritance of wealth and advantage resulting from centuries of vicious criminal pillage to which Europe subjected the peoples of its occupied colonial territories.

 

Amin also observes Europe is not “in any shape to end up being an alternative to US hegemony…….they have instead reinforced Atlanticism and alignment with Nato and liberal socialism. There is no other Europe in sight. And in that sense, Europe does not exist : the European project is simply the European face of the North American project.” European Union governments support the criminal US economic blockades against Cuba and now Palestine. They support the colonialist occupation of the Palestinian territories, of Afghanistan and Haiti, of Iraq and collude either actively or by default in helping the Bush regime develop bogus pretexts for conflict with Iran.

 

They do so because they have neither the domestic political support nor the military might to do the heavy lifting dirty work their collusion in corporate globalization’s imperialist project requires. Domestically, they deliver the kinds of social benefits their populations demand. Overseas they follow long-standing double standards exemplified most clearly in Europe by left-wing political parties sieved over decades through the filters of consumer capitalism. Amin recalls the old Socialist Party in Italy. He might  have referred to the even more cynical example of the left wing parties in France, whose dismal record socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal is unlikely to enhance.

 

From Algeria to  “extraordinary rendition”

 

As Youssef Girard recalls in a recent article on the Popular Front government of the 1930s (7) : “Beyond that social policy on behalf of the proletariat and subaltern classes in the hexagon, people almost never refer to the Popular Front policy in regard to France’s colonised peoples in an era when the French empire stretched across four continents. Did that policy show significant advances in the struggle of colonised peoples for emancipation or did it rather define the continuation of the policy of conservative governments?”

 

Girard answers his own question by noting that among the first acts of the Popular Front elected to power in France in 1936 was the banning of the Algerian “Etoile Nord” independence movement in January 1937. That shameful capitulation to French colonialist practice was compounded just twenty years later when the French Communist Party supported the vote granting “special powers” to the French army in Algeria, institutionalizing death squads, terror and torture not just throughout Algeria but implicitly allowing those terror practices to become commonplace in France itself.

 

One should expect little from the political leadership of the European Union or the governments of its member states. When  the European Parliament condemned European governmental collusion in the blatantly illegal Bush regime “extraordinary rendition” programme, it reported that  “EU governments, including the British, knew about the practice known as extraordinary rendition – secret CIA flights transferring detainees to locations where they risked being tortured – but made a concerted attempt to obstruct investigations into it.” (8)

 

A report in the London Times noted, “Giovanni Claudio Fava’s draft report “deplores” the level of co-operation Geoff Hoon, the Europe Minister, gave the MEPs, and condemns the rendition of one British citizen and three British residents, two of whom were said to have been seized on the basis of “partly erroneous information supplied by the UK security service MI5″. (9) So when Peter Hain remarks that things have changed in his jurisdiction it just means that his cynical colleagues are up to the same old tricks elsewhere as their forbears were in Ireland for nearly three decades.

 

Ministers like Geoff Hoon and the rest of Tony Blair’s Cabinet know very well they only have to  procrastinate, block and obfuscate to evade accounting for the crimes in Iraq and in “extraordinary renditions” for torture in which they have all colluded one way or another. Any investigation will happen many years in the future and no one will ever answer for the horror these poltician’s policies have inflicted on millions of people. What is true of Britain is true across Europe. As Diana Johnstone wrote recently in Counterpunch of the International Criminal Court, boycotted by the United States out of sheer necessity, international justice is to be administered in true colonial style, “In short, the ICC is established according to double standards to deal with small fry.” (10)

 

First the League of Nations, now the UN

 

It is impossible not to conclude that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and on a smaller scale the coup in Haiti in 2004, organized between the Bush regime and its accomplices in the Canadian and French governments, spell the effective end of the UN Charter and associated humanitarian and human rights law as a credible normative framework governing international relations. The UN serves now only to mop up the blood and shit, the unconscionable destruction  resulting from imperialist interventions by the US government supported by its European and Pacific allies. Its worthy aid, development and health programmes serve mainly to legitimize a criminally unjust neo-colonial international order. In Haiti, UN forces themselves have undertaken massacres and terror against civilian populations as part of a supposed “peace mission”. There, MINUSTAH promotes “stability” via the cemetery gate.

 

Monopoly capitalism’s (11) imperialist globalization project is on the rocks up against limits provoked by environmental deterioration, US dollar decline, armed resistance to imperialist wars, and the emergence of contrary agendas backed by Russia, China and regional blocs, as in Latin America . That is why  politicians who front for corporate monopoly capitalism like Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown call tritely for “a new world order”. (12) As if people could reasonably have any faith in some new consensus engineered by the self-same criminal politicans who helped wreck the UN as a credible clearing house for negotiating international differences and conflicts.

 

The US government and it allies have consistently, deliberately and cynically sabotaged the United Nations system through abuse of the powers of the Security Council. Corporate globalization and the bogus “war on terror” are more clearly than ever twin strands of a ruthless rearguard campaign by the global corporate ancien regime to hang on to their privileges and power. To do so they have destroyed the post World War Two settlement based around the principle of self-determination of peoples and the humanitarian and human rights norms that consensus generated. 

 

So the US government and its allies support Alvaro Uribe’s narco-terror regime in Colombia but conspire against Cuba and Venezuela. They accepted Felipe Calderon’s fraudulent electoral win in Mexico but condemned alleged electoral fraud in the Ukraine. They permit Israel to kidnap ten thousand political prisoners but condemn Hezbollah for capturing  two Israeli soldiers. They accept Israel’s threats of nuclear terrorism against Iran but deny Iran’s legitimate right to develop peaceful nuclear technology.

 

Faced with the latest US preparations for war with Iran, the EU’s foreign affairs chief Javier Solano said, “No path is envisaged by the EU other than the UN path,” and  “The priority for all of us is that Iran complies with UN security council resolutions.” (13) His script is exactly the same as the one used prior to the criminal war of aggression against Iraq. For Solana and his US counterparts, the UN serves merely to rubber stamp decisions already taken by the imperialist mobsters in the White House. The facts have already been invented and spun. Solana’s good cop humbug is part of the formal diplomatic deniability game necessary to conceal their self-evidently cynical concoction.

 

The terrifying circumstances endured by the peoples of Haiti, Palestine and Iraq all signal what the US government and its hypocritical allies are prepared to do to anyone who resists their will. The mirror-image of the State terror they employ against vulnerable peoples overseas can be seen in the attack on habeas corpus and other fundamental legal norms in the US and elsewhere. Nuala O’Loan’s report on official British collusion with Loyalist terrorist paramilitaries is a useful reminder that the US government’s European allies are fully prepared to countenance terror and abuse of legal norms against legitimate opposition in their own countries. It might easily be read as a simile of sinister European government collusion with the failed state terror regime of George Bush.

 

 

Notes
1. Haiti Justice http://blog.ijdh.org/haiti_justiceblog/2006/12/haiti_another_u.html
2. “Nelson’s shadowy past”, BBC News,13 April, 2003  – “Panorama missed the real story of collusion in Ulster”,  Ed Moloney, Daily Telegraph  June 25th 2002   - 
‘An Appalling Vista’  Collusion : British Military Intelligence And Brian Nelson,  A Case for an Independent Public Inquiry, Submitted to British Government 21 December 1997 by Sinn Féin
3. “Northern Ireland police shielded loyalist killers”, Guardian, January 22, 2007
4. “O’Loan report confirms collusion”, RTE News , 22 January 2007
5. ” ‘There is no war on terror’ Outspoken DPP takes on Blair and Reid over fear-driven legal response to threat”,  Clare Dyer, Guardian, January 24, 2007
6.  Interview with Samir Amin by Giuliano Battiston, translated in ZNet, January 27th 2007 – http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=10&ItemID=11968
7. “Il y a soixante-dix ans le « Front Populaire » prononçait la dissolution de l’Etoile Nord Africaine”, Youssef Girard, www.oumma.org, January 29th 2007
8. “MEPs condemn Britain‘s role in ‘torture flights’,  · EU states knew about rendition, says report”,  Richard Norton-Taylor &  Nicholas Watt, Guardian,  November 29, 2006
9. “Britain accused on secret CIA flights”, David Charter, The Times  November 29, 2006
10. “Do we really need an International Criminal Court”, Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch January 27th 2007 – http://www.counterpunch.org/johnstone01272007.html
11. “2006 and the Plutocracy”, Silvia Ribeiro – http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11937
12. “Brown wants a ‘new world order’”, BBC News,  Friday, 19 January 2007
13. “Europeans fear US attack on Iran as nuclear row intensifies”,  Ian Traynor & Jonathan Steele, Guardian, January 31, 2007
 

 

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