Letters

An inevitable war

ImageWith reference to ‘Choosing War' (PN 2570-2571): the problem with liberalism’ . It may be that there were choices that individuals could have made that would have altered events, but wasn’t the whole imperial, colonial set-up in Europe waiting for conflict?

The First World War was a continuation of the colonial project, an end game, of a conflict that had been unfolding across the globe since the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’, just with added industrial production techniques.

Churchill, when he had moved the royal navy from coal to oil, had said that fuel shift required nothing less than mastery of the world. From then on, the driving force of the royal navy wasn’t the coal mines of Wales but the Persian oil fields. To maintain the empire the oil fields had to be under British control; protecting British Interests.

The Berlin-Baghdad railway line was in 1914 a few years from completion (in theory). Once finished this would have given the Central Powers access to those oil fields. (Railways were key to the initial German mobilisation in Europe. A rail connection to Baghdad would have made this likely.) Britain would have gone to war to control the Middle East because the royal navy needed oil. Whether the elites in charge went to war in 1914 or 1916 is almost irrelevant; they would have gone to war to protect their interests at some point, and the industrial age of railway timetables made it inevitable.

No Justice, No Peace

Suspect data

ImageIn the issue of PN for October 2013, Gabriel Carlyle had an article about the Iraq ministry of health report entitled ‘Summary of reported Congenital Birth Defects in 18 Selected Districts of Iraq’.

This had come to the surprising conclusion that ‘the rates of spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and congenital birth defects were “consistent with or even lower than international estimates” and found “no clear evidence to suggest an unusually high rate of congenital birth defects” in the period 1998-2012’.

The results of the survey were so counter-intuitive, that anti-war campaigners and academics believe that the survey had been manipulated to serve the interests of the US. The results completely contradicted previous findings by individual scientists and by the Iraq ministry of health. Ah! But this was a controlled scientific survey in which the world health organisation was involved!

Gabriel maintained that there was no evidence of manipulation and was prepared to accept the objectivity of the survey, pro tem. Indeed he criticised Chomsky in his review of Chomsky and Vitchek’s On Western Terrorism for not taking account of it.

I smell a rat and that there is no evidence of manipulation does not give me any confidence in the objectivity of the report particularly when the conclusion so obviously serves special interests.

There is a long history of cover-ups, in which scientists have colluded, going right back to the days of nuclear tests when it was maintained that there was a ‘safe’ level of radioactivity below which there were no adverse effects whatsoever. Governments always want to convince us they were ‘only dropping peppermints and daisy chains’.

All international bodies from the UN to the international criminal court and the world health organisation, whatever good they do at lower levels, ultimately serve the interests of power.

I refuse to believe that the use of toxic materials – depleted uranium and white phosphorus, for example – has had no effect whatsoever in Iraq, and that if they had not been used the rate of abortions and congenital birth defects would still be the same.

Similarly, if a scientific report came out to the effect that the Clean Air Act had had no effect on the health of Londoners and they were just as healthy in the days of smog and pea-soupers, and this conclusion was mighty convenient to the powers that be, I would not believe it even though I could not prove it had been manipulated.

Think tobacco and lung cancer.