Doesn’t anyone remember ‘The Power of Nightmares’?


The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, written and produced by Adam Curtis, was a BBC documentary film series broadcast in 2004.

The films compare the rise of the American Neo-Conservative movement and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and noting strong similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is in fact a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed charts the similar processes operating in the current instalment of the so-called ‘War on Terror’ – the threat of ISIS.  His article (16.11.15), posted on openDemocracy, is an extremely important read given the UK Government’s determination to get involved in the bombing.   As Nafeez warns of the intention behind the latest spate of atrocities which culminated in Paris:

The goal, of course, is to inflict trauma, fear, paranoia, suspicion, panic and terror – but there is a particularly twisted logic as part of this continuum of violence, which is to draw the western world into an apocalyptic civilizational Armageddon with ‘Islam.’

Below, I copy and paste Nafeez’ conclusion to ‘ISIS want to destroy the ‘grey zone’.  Here’s how we defend it’, but I recommend that you read the piece in its entirety:

All this calls for a complete re-think of our approach to terrorism. We require, urgently, an international public inquiry into the colossal failure of the strategies deployed in the ‘war on terror.’

How has over $5 trillion succeeded only in permitting an extremist terror-state, to conquer a third of Iraq and Syria, while carrying out a series of assaults on cities across the region and in the heart of Europe?

The re-assessment must accompany concrete measures, now.

First and foremost, our alliances with terror-sponsoring dictatorships across the Muslim world must end. All the talk of making difficult decisions is meaningless if we would rather sacrifice civil liberties instead of sacrificing profit-oriented investments in brutal autocracies like Saudi Arabia, which have exploited western dependence on its oil resources to export Islamist extremism around the world.

Addressing those alliances means taking decisive action to enforce punitive measures in terms of the financing of Islamist militants, the facilitation of black-market ISIS oil sales, and the export of narrow extremist ideologies. Without this, military experts can give as much lip-service to ‘draining the swamp’ as they like – it means nothing if we think draining it means using a few buckets to fling out the mud while our allies pour gallons back in.

Secondly, in Syria, efforts to find a political resolution to the conflict must ramp up. So far, neither the US nor Russia, driven by their own narrow geopolitical concerns, have done very much to destroy ISIS strongholds. The gung-ho entry of Russia into the conflict has only served to unify the most extreme jihadists and vindicate ISIS’s victim-bating claim to be a ‘David’ fighting the ‘Goliath’ of a homogenous “kafir” (infidel) crusader-axis.

Every military escalation has been followed by a further escalation, because ISIS itself was incubated in the militarized nightmare of occupied Iraq and Assad-bombed Syria.

Thirdly, and relatedly, all military support to all actors in the Syria conflict must end. Western powers can pressurise their Gulf and Turkish state allies to end support to rebel groups, which is now so out of control that there is no longer any prospect of preventing such support from being diverted to ISIS; while Russia and Iran can withdraw their aid to Assad’s bankrupt regime. If Russia and France genuinely wish to avoid further blowback against their own citizens, they would throw their weight behind such measures with a view to force regional actors to come to the negotiating table.

Fourthly, it must be recognized that contrary to the exhortations of fanatics like Douglas Murray, talk of ‘solidarity’ is not merely empty sloganeering. The imperative now is for citizens around the world to work together to safeguard what ISIS calls the “grey zone” – the arena of co-existence where people of all faith and none remain unified on the simple principles of our common humanity. Despite the protestations of extremists, the reality is that the vast majority of secular humanists and religious believers accept and embrace this heritage of mutual acceptance.

But safeguarding the “grey zone” means more than bandying about the word ‘solidarity’ – it means enacting citizen-solidarity by firmly rejecting efforts by both ISIS and the far-right to exploit terrorism as a way to transform our societies into militarized police-states where dissent is demonized, the Other is feared, and mutual paranoia is the name of the game. That, in turn, means working together to advance and innovate the institutions, checks and balances, and accountability necessary to maintain and improve the framework of free, open and diverse societies.

It is not just ISIS that would benefit from a dangerous shift to the contrary.

Incumbent political elites keen to avoid accountability for a decade and a half of failure will use heightened public anxiety to push through more of the same. They will seek to avoid hard questions about past failures, while casting suspicion everywhere except the state itself, with a view to continue business-as-usual. And in similar vein, the military-industrial complex, whose profits have come to depend symbiotically on perpetual war, wants to avoid awkward questions about lack of transparency and corrupt relationships with governments. They would much rather keep the trillion-dollar gravy train flowing out of the public purse.

Milan Kundera — ‘The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting’

Let’s not forget that we were swept into the invasion of Iraq on false pretences, with disastrous results for the peoples of the region.  Let’s fight even harder to stop the political elites in their gung-ho desire to bomb.  Let’s argue for the alternatives suggested by Nafeez Ahmed.  Jeremy Corbyn is certainly on board… but it seems that some of the Parliamentary Labour Party, like Mike Gapes and John Woodcock, are minded to vote with David Cameron and the Conservatives.  It is up to the LP membership and all right-minded people to challenge their decision, and so block Cameron’s futile plan to bomb a solution on the Middle East.


Further recommended:

Welcome to the 21st century – The Crisis of Civilisation Nafeez Ahmed’s 2011 “Crisis of civilization” film  (80 minutes)

The Power of Nightmares  Adam Curtice’s three part BBC documentary


Redcar steelworkers pay UK tax. Chinese Steelworkers don’t.


Redcar steelworkers pay UK tax. Chinese Steelworkers don’t.

By Peter Martin Twitter: @petermartin52

An economic and political discussion usually and rather quickly gets around to a discussion on “the deficit”. Of course what everyone means is the Government’s deficit rather than the deficit neo-liberal politicians have created in our spending power in recent years. The other less mentioned deficit is the one the UK runs in its trade and financial dealings with the rest of the world. There are various terms used in connection with this such as current account deficit, balance of payments deficit. Then there is the capital account which includes the sale of gilts. To keep things simple I’ll just use the term external deficit for the net flow of ££ out of the economy. So we can think of this as the Surplus the Rest of the World has in its dealing with the UK in £ terms.

If we consider everything as a surplus we can say:

Government Surplus  + Private Domestic Sector Surplus(or PDS savings) + Rest of the World Surplus = 0

This is the well known sectoral balance equation. The Private Domestic Sector would essentially be the real economy and would include all publicly employed workers, local councils and their workers,  and even some Govt owned companies – though this might just depend on how the accounts are presented. This is just in £ terms. They don’t include any real assets like gold reserves or land holdings.

Going back to deficits this works out as:

Internal Deficit (Govt Budget Deficit) = PDS Savings + External Deficit (Trade)

It is common in discussions for someone to say something like ‘the trade deficit is not the fiscal Deficit.” Which is of course true, butthe two deficits are very closely related. If, as now, we are running a 5% of GDP trade deficit and the  Government is running a 4% deficit there is 1% more spending leaving the economy to pay our net import bill than is replenished by the Govt deficit. That money has to come out of everyone’s savings. So if the external deficit was zero the Government deficit would certainly be reduced substantially and may even be eliminated completely. Another way to look at it would be to say that money paid out for imports can’t be taxed but if it is paid out for local products it can be. Money generated from export sales, or import replacements can be taxed too. Redcar steelworkers pay UK tax. Chinese Steelworkers don’t.

Exporting more, to the value of 2.6% of GDP and importing 2.6% less will close the trade gap completely.  This may require a some initial discomfort to achieve but it will be nowhere near as bad as continually putting up with with tax rises and spending cuts, ignoring the external deficit and running the economy into ever deeper recession.This is a saleable message that our politicians (are you reading this John McDonnell? ) could well explain to a sceptical public.

There are those MMT supporters who will not be at all pleased with the thrust of this argument.They will be thinking that we should not be using MMT to explain how our deficits can be reduced but, rather, we should be explaining how they do not matter. They’ll argue that the deficits are just numbers on a spreadsheet, that ££ are just like runs on a scoreboard, that the government is monetarily sovereign and that it can never run out of pounds, it can never involuntarily default and it can never go broke in any debt denominated in ££. They will further argue that exports are a net real cost to the economy and that imports are a net real benefit. Therefore we should be exporting as little as possible and importing as much as possible. Of course, this is all absolutely true and intellectually incontrovertible. Except, I would just question the morality of deliberately taking more from the world than we are prepared to give in return.

It is also true is that we live in a democracy and we have to assess the chances of the voters ‘buying’ this argument in sufficient numbers for Labour to win in 2020. I am not a politician but I would say there is no chance at all. So, if this is a correct assessment, we have to look for the next best alternative. If we don’t offer that, which is an economy at relatively full employment with low internal and external deficits, stable but modest levels of growth, inflation and interest rates, we will end up with something very much worse.  An economy with high levels of unemployment and underemployment, high numbers of low paid and low productivity jobs, higher internal and external deficits, and with a government which is forever chasing its own tail with a succession of tax rises, spending cuts and the encouragement of excess private credit created asset bubbles.  In fact, just like the one we have now.

People are sick of all that. We just need sensible politicians to explain that there is a much better, if not a perfect, option

Trident? “Yes, Prime Minister” , because it’s the very best, most pointless that you can buy.


Sir Humphrey tries to convince the Prime Minister why he must spend money on the very best nuclear weapons which we won’t use, because …. well because …

Sir Humphrey tries to convince Prime Minister Jim Hacker that he must buy Trident because Britain needs the best nuclear deterrent available because the Soviets can’t certainly know that Hacker probably knows that they probably certainly know…

It’s time to call time on WMDs – and back Jeremy Corbyn.


So Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party has said he would not use nuclear weapons? Phew, what a relief.

 Well that is hardly astounding News, but he is right to point it out nonetheless. It highlights the senselessness of spending resources on Weapons of Mass Destruction which can never, ever be used because it would be a suicidal act. For all those of who believe in humanity, in peace and abhor human suffering, there can be no alternative. Jeremy Corbyn was elected with a huge mandate and has opposed the replacement of Trident. Even former Tory Defence Minister Michael Portillo is opposing Trident’s replacement, claiming it is a waste of money.

I wonder, if Mr Cameron will not say he is also unwilling to use them, how can we trust such a man with the future of the human race, the continued existence of life itself? After all, this was the man who went against parliament’s decision to involve our servicemen in attacks on Syria. Please remember that David Cameron ‘was aware’ British pilots carried out Syrian air strikes despite Commons vote, and chose to disregard the democratic decision.

Why do these weapons exist at all?

Without going blindly into such a replacement wasting our precious resources on such a pointless exercise, it is time to have the debate and look at the facts. It is time to stop, think and call time on weapons of mass destruction. It’s time to educate younger generations about the facts. It’s time to face up to the reality – they offer no deterrent, they cost the earth, no one can use them; they certainly didn’t help the USA on 9/11.

Nuclear Weapons are Horrific, Pointless and Extraordinarily Costly


What else is as unimaginably horrific as nuclear war? The horrors are so awful that the human mind cannot endure to see  images or to contemplate the physical, mental and emotional pain. It is now 70 years since August 6, 1945, when the United States used a massive, atomic weapon against Hiroshima, Japan. This atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. While Japan was still trying to comprehend this devastation three days later, the United States struck again, this time, on Nagasaki. ( 9th August 1945)

It is not good enough to turn away – the images and the facts must be faced up to. We cannot uninvent nuclear missiles, but we can discover why they should not be in existence. I am appalled that there are plans to replace Trident, a nuclear missile which must be never used. No, not my name. It must not happen.

Face up to these images, the ones they don’t want us to see: listen to the stories.

Although the names of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were incised into our memories, there were few pictures to accompany them. Even today, the image in our minds is a mixture of devastated landscapes and shattered buildings. Shocking images of the ruins, but where were the victims?

The American occupation forces imposed strict censorship on Japan, prohibiting anything “that might, directly or by inference, disturb public tranquility” and used it to prohibit all pictures of the bombed cities. The pictures remained classified ‘top secret’ for many years. Some of the images have been published later by different means, but it’s not usual to see them all together. (see more here )

All the watches found in the ground zero were stopped at 8:15 am, the time of the explosion.


Within a certain distance from the site of explosion, the heat was so intense that practically everything was vaporised. The shadows of the parapets were imprinted on the road surface of the Yorozuyo Bridge, 1/2 of a mile south-southwest of the hypocentre. Besides, in Hiroshima, all that was left of some humans, sitting on stone benches near the centre of explosion, was their outlines.

6th Aug 2

On August 6, 1945, 8.15 am, the uranium atom bomb exploded 580 metres above the city of Hiroshima with a blinding flash, creating a giant fireball and sending surface temperatures to 4,000C. Fierce heat rays and radiation burst out in every direction, unleashing a high pressure shockwave, vaporising tens of thousands of people and animals, melting buildings and streetcars, reducing a 400-year-old city to dust.
Housewives and children were incinerated instantly or paralysed in their daily routines, their internal organs boiled and their bones charred into brittle charcoal.

Beneath the center of the explosion, temperatures were hot enough to melt concrete and steel. Within seconds, 75,000 people had been killed or fatally injured with 65% of the casualties nine years of age and younger.

6th Aug 3
Radiation deaths were still occurring in large numbers in the following days. “For no apparent reason their health began to fail. They lost appetite. Their hair fell out. Bluish spots appeared on their bodies. And then bleeding began from the ears, nose and mouth”.

Doctors “gave their patients Vitamin A injections. The results were horrible. The flesh started rotting from the hole caused by the injection of the needle. And in every case the victim died”.
Hibakusha is the term widely used in Japan referring to victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese word translates literally to “explosion-affected people”.

They and their children were (and still are) victims of severe discrimination due to lack of knowledge about the consequences of radiation sickness, which people believed to be hereditary or even contagious.

Many of them were fired from their jobs. Hibakusha women never got married, as many feared they would give birth to deformed children. Men suffered discrimination too. “Nobody wanted to marry someone who might die in a couple of years”.
Yamahata, the photographer of Nagasaki

On August 10, 1945, the day after the bombing of Nagasaki Yosuke Yamahata, began to photograph the devastation. The city was dead. He walked through the darkened ruins and the dead corpses for hours.

aug6 5

By late afternoon, he had taken his final photographs near a first aid station north of the city. In a single day, he had completed the only extensive photographic record of the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing of either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Aug6 6jpg

“A warm wind began to blow – he wrote later – Here and there in the distance I saw many small fires, like elf-fires, smoldering. Nagasaki had been completely destroyed”

Mr. Yamahata’s photographs are the most complete record of the atomic bombing as seen in the most immediate hours after the bombing. The New York Times has called Mr. Yamahata’s photographs, “some of the most powerful images ever made”.

Mr. Yamahata became violently ill on August 6, 1965, his forty-eighth birthday and the twentieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the duodenum, probably caused by the residual effects of radiation received in Nagasaki in 1945. He died on April 18, 1966, and is buried at Tama Cemetery, Tokyo.

Everyone should see them and understand. Hiding and pretending will not do.

Atomic Bomb survivors never forget, and while they inevitably diminish in number , their resolve to fight to rid the world of nuclear missiles grows ever more determined.


We cannot help but wonder what is the point and sense in developing more and more horrible weapons, which can never, ever be used, and if they were the consequences of modern weapons would be far worse. They can never be used without a suicidal action. In modern times of suicidal terrorism, suicide itself is no deterrent, the existence of nuclear missiles is not only pointless but an incredible waste of money, resources and human effort which could be much better used elsewhere.

Colin Powell:  I became Chairman of the Joint chiefs of staff in 1989 and I had 28,000 nuclear weapons under my supervision. And every morning I looked to see where the Russian submarines were off the coast of Virginia and how far away those missions were from Washington. I kept track where the Russian missiles were in Europe and in the Soviet Union. The one thing that I convinced myself after all these years of exposure to the use of nuclear weapons is that they were useless. 


They could not be used. If you can have deterrence with an even lower number of weapons, well then why stop there, why not continue on, why not get rid of them altogether…This is the moment when we have to move forward and all of us come together to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and eliminate them from the face of the earth. “Nuclear Weapons Are Useless”   

The pointlessness of it all is clear – the danger of nuclear weapons is such that they should not even exist. That there are stockpiles of radioactive uranium and plutonium around the world is alarming – should these ever get into the hands of maniacs it would surely be an end. The expansion of nuclear power holds the same dangers,  and at a time when there are effective renewable sources for energy, why is it even being considered?

Who can we trust? Why is David Cameron in favour of supporting a replacement to Trident?  Parliament voted against British forces being used in Syria in 2013. Recently, it has transpired that David Cameron lied, and that was against Parliament’s explicit  instructions, British Forces were involved in an air campaign. David Cameron was fully aware of the action.  We must consider what are the reasons for Cameron’s support for a Trident replacement. Is it financial? Whatever is his reason, it is clearly very, very silly.

In January 2015, A Commons motion against renewal of Trident was crushed by 364 votes to 35 after Tory and Labour front benches joined forces to back the weapons of mass destruction. A number of Labour MPs abstained.
The motion was moved by the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Mr Blunt, the only Tory supporting the motion, said he was wearing the regimental tie of the Light Dragoons.
He told MPs that when he worked as a special adviser at the Ministry of Defence, he found it impossible to find a scenario in which Britain would decide to use nuclear weapons.

Labour MPs voting against Trident renewal were:
Diane Abbott, Ronnie Campbell, Katy Clark, Michael Connarty, Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Davidson, Paul Flynn, Roger Godsiff, Kelvin Hopkins, David Lammy, Mark Lazarowicz, John McDonnell, Grahame Morris, Fiona O’Donnell, Sandra Osborne, Dennis Skinner, Andrew Smith, Graham Stringer and Joan Walley. (From Morning Star)

The SNP’s manifesto for the 2015 General Election opposed Trident’s renewal. and their landslide on May 7th, winning all but three seats in Scotland demonstrates that there is a huge opposition to this policy.

In 2016, there is to be another vote in Parliament on the replacement of Trident. Jeremy Corbyn, and several other MPs  will oppose  Trident replacement. Even if renewal is rejected, after the Syria vote was totally disregarded, I cannot help but wonder, whether Mr Cameron is taking much notice of parliament at all. What power does he hold over the use of nuclear weapons. It is truly terrifying.


If the cost to the planet of nuclear war is obliteration, it seems trivial to even consider the economic implications.The government is in favour of replacing Trident at a cost of around £100 billion. This money would be enough to fully fund A&E services for 40 years, employ 150,000 new nurses, build 1.5 million affordable homes, build 30,000 new primary schools, or cover tuition fees for 4 million students. It is astounding, and extraordinarily costly. So much good  could come of savings from the cost of the maintenance and replacement of Trident’s replacement, and the related  nuclear energy industry. The nuclear industry is massively subsidised by the British public. Sizewell B, the UK’s most recent power station cost the taxpayer around £3.7billion just to install Decommissioning and cleaning up all of our current nuclear sites is costing more than £70 billion.

Many people are employed in the nuclear industry – there is no logic in retaining it on the grounds of employment. Diplomatic solutions to conflict need personnel equipped  with necessary skills. We should be developing education, communication and understanding, of issues of other societies, not dividing the world further. We are one people. Jobs could be provided for scientists and experts developing our green energy policy.


 People must protest against this renewal and demand an end to these weapons. Our politicians must stand alongside us. On this our opposition must oppose. Abstention will not do. There are protests (AWE) demanding disarmament all around the world including in the UK where 4 Day Fast Protest against Trident is planned  in London. (August 6th-9th).

CND have been campaigning since 1958. There is a host of information on their website.CND.jpeg