Cassus belli ad Syriae

Jack Straw, Tony Blair's roving secretary of bullshit, speaking on the Syrian government's alleged involvement in the assassination of Rafik Hariri:

"... they have to get the message that you cannot have a government, if I may say so, at any level going into assassinations."

What Straw, of course, was really saying is that "you" (whoever that is) cannot have a government that the US and Britain don't like going into assassinations. His little maxim surely does not apply to Britain's senior partner in aggression, the US, for example. Nor would Straw be in favor of sending a real "message" to the Israeli government, despite his occasional noises in this direction (emphases added):

Bridget Kendall [BBC interviewer]:
You mentioned the Middle East. We've had an e-mail from Mark Messenger in Brighton who says: What's your opinion of the letter written by 52 former UK diplomats? Do you feel they had a valid concern about this government's relentless following of a right wing American administration that seems to support political assassinations in Palestine and illegal settlements in the West Bank?

Jack Straw:
Well they were entitled to their opinions, is what I say, and at least it shows that contrary to the parody that Foreign Office diplomats are not sort of clones.

Bridget Kendall:
But did they raise a valid point?

Jack Straw:
Well of course they raised points which were valid to them. Were they justified? No I don't happen to think that they were. And we are against assassinations or killings, let's be clear about this, by the Israelis, no one, in a sense, has been more vocal than have I - making it clear that we regard the so-called assassination policy as unjustified, unlawful and counterproductive. ... We also however, need to take account of the terror which has been perpetrated against the Israelis. And that too has to be put into the balance.

In condensed form, what Straw is saying is that these 52 diplomats' aim is wildly off the mark, since Israel doesn't actually use "assassinations", but even if it does, there are extenuating circumstances that make it alright.

And the US and the UK will always be the ones who can define what these extenuating circumstances are.


Sunday reading

Ghost in a directory: A man considers his and his family's history in Palestine/Israel.

Reviews of several books looking at the effects of WWII on the German population. Two excerpts:

Payback is infinitely darker. The title itself (Vergeltung in German) is a grotesque reminder to the Germans that Hitler had promised to "pay back" the English with his "V," or Vergeltung, rockets; instead, the English paid back the Germans, and Ledig's implication is that they got what was coming to them. Even more disturbing is how the Germans behave in the midst of catastrophe... An American pilot is shot down and lynched by an angry, sadistic mob; the most fanatic of the bunch are a pimply boy who stares at the helpless victim with "the indifferent face of a child torturing an animal" and a medical doctor who beats the pilot with a poker while in a state of sexual arousal. Through it all, the narrator remains scathingly ironic about Germany and the possibility of religious consolation. "God on our side," he writes at the novel's end, mimicking a popular Nazi slogan. "But he was on the others' side as well." This was not the kind of memory that Germans wanted to cultivate in the 1950s.


Here we can see the reason this topic [the mass rape of German women by occupying Soviet soldiers] remained off-limits for so many years: not so much because the women were ashamed as because the men were doubly humiliated, first for having lost the war on the front, and then for having been unable to protect their wives and daughters at home. Some of the most devastating remarks in this diary concern the emasculation of German men--the "miserable and powerless" civilians who grub for food and stand idly by as the Russians claim their sexual booty; but also the returning soldiers with their "stubbly chins and sunken cheeks" who inspire only pity, "no hope or expectation." "The Nazi world--ruled by men, glorifying the strong man--is beginning to crumble," she remarks; the end of the war marks the "defeat of the male sex."

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