Z Nightly Commentaries
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Recent Z Nightly Commentaries
Oct 29, 2008
In 1992, Mark Higson, the Foreign Office official responsible for Iraq, appeared before the Scott inquiry into the scandal of arms sold illegally to Saddam Hussein. He described a "culture of lying" at the heart of British foreign policymaking. I asked him how frequently ministers and officials lied to parliament.
Pilger: Sporting Star
Oct 14, 2008
The great American athlete John Carlos once described "those people of grace who raise sport to something more than a game". Carlos and Tommie Smith had stood with their black-gloved fists held high on the winners' podium at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, damning racism and poverty. They were men of grace. Sep was very different, but he had the grace.
Pilger: South Africa
Oct 06, 2008
John Pilger describes the 'social and economic catastrophe' that replaced the African National Congress's 'unbreakable' promise' to end the poverty of the majority.
Prashad: Cartoon Che
Sep 29, 2008
Che was fated to the mythic. Even his birthday attached him to a long tradition of popular struggle: he was born on Bastille Day, the commemoration of the opening of the French Revolution. [Some doubt that this was his actual birthday; his parents might have picked it to disguise a pregnancy that began before their marriage]. In life, he was larger than life. Handsome and brave, an intellectual with a gun and machete who was at the same time able to talk easily about love for humanity: all this enhanced his appeal. He becomes iconic with the 1961 picture by Alberto Korda. It went from the pages of Revolución (April 16) to posters across the planet. Three decades after its first appearance, I bought a hand-printed poster from a left-wing bookstall in Caracas' Central University. The students who sold it had an air of the guerrillero heroico among them as well. The same year as Korda's picture flew around the world, Jean-Paul Sartre published a brief book on Cuba. He marveled at the Revolution's youth. "These young people form a discrete cult of energy, so much loved by Stendhal. But don't think that they talk about it, that they theorize it. They live energy, they exercise it, they invent it, perhaps. They prove it with its effects, but they don't breathe a word about it. Their energy manifests itself." Che embodied energy, and it is this that was seized upon by young people who made him an icon, and it is what sustains his special attachment in the hearts of the young. Youth sees in this forever youthful revolutionary the spark that sustains them in unsettled times.
Pilger: New World War
Sep 25, 2008
Britain's political conference season of 2008 will be remembered as The Great Silence. Politicians have come and gone and their mouths have moved in front of large images of themselves, and they often wave at someone. There has been lots of news about each other. Adam Boulton, the political editor of Sky News, and billed as "the husband of Blair aide Anji Hunter", has published a book of gossip derived from his "unrivalled access to No 10". His revelation is that Tony Blair's mouthpiece told lies. The war criminal himself has been absent, but the former mouthpiece has been signing his own book of gossip, and waving. The club is celebrating itself, including all those, Labour and Tory, who gave the war criminal a standing ovation on his last day in parliament and who have yet to vote on, let alone condemn, Britain's part in the wanton human, social and physical destruction of an entire nation. Instead, there are happy debates such as, "Can hope win?" and, my favourite, "Can foreign policy be a Labour strength?" As Harold Pinter said of unmentionable crimes: "Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."
Prashad: Invisible Army
Sep 18, 2008
Hidden in the bowels of the University of Iowa library are the papers of Lement Harris (1904-2002). Harris came from money (his father co-founded Texaco) and he took his degree from Harvard. When he graduated in 1926 he decided to avoid the careers associated with his class and went to work on a Pennsylvania farm. During this three-year sojourn, Lem, as he was called, read the agrarian pacifism of Tolstoy and Gandhi, and met a worker who had been to the Soviet Union. Lem contacted Harold Ware, an old IWW hand and communist, who ran a farm south of Moscow in Verblud (camel). Ware, the son of “Mother” Bloor, transplanted American technology to Soviet farms (particularly the tractor) and did so with a team of radical American farmers (including six from North Dakota’s Non-Partisan League). Lem arrived at Verblud in June 1929 (there is some terrific material in the J. B. Davidson papers, also at Iowa, including the pictures that you can see in Deborah Fitzgerald’s useful book, Every Farm a Factory). Lem’s experience on Ware’s farm changed him, and he became a lifelong communist.
Pilger: Murderous Theatre
Sep 12, 2008
Try to laugh, please. The news is now officially parody and a game for all the family to play.
Prashad: Clemente Interview
Sep 05, 2008
Rosa Clemente, 35, is the vice presidential candidate for the Green Party of the United States. Clemente, who is Puerto Rican, was born in the South Bronx, New York, and educated at the University of Albany and at Cornell University. A vibrant community organizer and feisty journalist, Clemente co-founded the National Hip Hop Political Convention. The Green Party's presidential candidate is Cynthia McKinney, former two-term Congresswoman from Georgia. In May 2007, McKinney left the Democratic Party at an anti-war rally in front of the Pentagon. "As an American of conscience," she said, "I hereby declare my independence from every bomb dropped, every civil liberties rollback, every child killed, every veteran maimed, every man tortured. And I sadly declare my independence from the leaders who let it happen."
Pilger: Don't Forget Yugoslavia
Aug 16, 2008
The secrets of the crushing of Yugoslavia are emerging, telling us more about how the modern world is policed. The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, this year published her memoir The Hunt: Me and War Criminals. Largely ignored in Britain, the book reveals unpalatable truths about the west's intervention in Kosovo, which has echoes in the Caucasus.
Pilger: Lies Of Hiroshima
Aug 07, 2008
In an article for the Guardian on the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, John Pilger describes the 'progression of lies' from the dust of that detonated city, to the wars of today - and the threatened attack on Iran.
Podur: Empires Rivals
Aug 03, 2008
In the background of the Indo-US nuclear deal now going into "overdrive", as well as the increasing economic co-operation and (most importantly) the joint military excercises and interoperability efforts and acquisitions made by India, there is a geopolitical notion: that the US is building India's military capacity in order to counter potential rivals China and Russia in the region. Indeed, proponents of the nuclear deal smeared its opponents by suggesting their opposition was "pro-China". As the deal goes forward, with India potentially trading the chance for peace with its nuclear-armed neighbours for the chance to make US companies very rich buying tens of billions worth of technology the West isn't using, acquires the latest US weapons, and makes its military interoperable with the US, a major historical lesson has perhaps been forgotten.
Jul 24, 2008
On 12 July, the London Times devoted two pages to Afghanistan. It was mostly a complaint about the heat. The reporter, Magnus Linklater, described in detail his discomfort and how he had needed to be sprayed with iced water. He also described the "high drama" and "meticulously practised routine" of evacuating another overheated journalist. For her US Marine rescuers, wrote Linklater, "saving a life took precedence over [their] security". Alongside this was a report whose final paragraph offered the only mention that "47 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed when a US aircraft bombed a wedding party in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday".
Jul 17, 2008
I am currently sitting in my very reasonable apartment in the Iqbal International Institute for Research and Dialogue guest house, typing at a laptop that is sitting on a dresser and using a wireless connection set up for me by my host, Junaid Ahmad, who borrowed an unused router from an office here at the Islamic University and set it up in the apartment next door. I'm trying to type quickly because the "load-shedding" is going to happen soon and I'll lose my internet connection in the blackout (there are several of these each day, and it is far better here in Islamabad than most other places). These guest houses are fairly new. Situated next to the "old campus" of the International Islamic University-Islamabad (IIU-I), which is itself attached to the Faisal Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in the country and one of Islamabad's tourist attractions, the guest houses are equipped with air conditioners, fans, indoor plumbing, a mini-kitchen with a gas stove, and a separate dining room. There are patches of grass in front and behind and gondolas where one could sit and do work if the weather were cool enough. People don't, because it's been so hot, which is why people also seem to keep much later hours here than I'm used to, getting up late and going to bed late. Overall the idea of these guest houses is for people to be able to contemplate. There is a gate between these apartments (lined up in a row, like townhouses, and all ground-floor) and the road to the mosque. The gate is always attended by a uniformed security guard, usually the same friendly middle-aged fellow. Most of the staff of the guest house that I've seen are men of similar age - they actually bring us guests our meals. I've actually spent most of my time here, at the computer, with Ahmed Rashid's or David Macdonald's book or local newspapers or magazines. Or, if not here, in the campus buildings.
Pilger: Britain Wages War
Jul 13, 2008
Five photographs together break a silence. The first is of a former Gurkha regimental sergeant major, Tul Bahadur Pun, aged 87. He sits in a wheelchair outside 10 Downing Street. He holds a board full of medals, including the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery, which he won serving in the British army. He has been refused entry to Britain and treatment for a serious heart ailment by the National Health Service: outrages rescinded only after a public campaign. On 25 June, he came to Down ing Street to hand his Victoria Cross back to the Prime Minister, but Gordon Brown refused to see him.
Podur: Betancourt Released
Jul 04, 2008
Colombia's most high-profile hostage of the FARC guerrilla group, French-Colombian former Presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt was just freed (July 2/08) in a military operation by the Colombian armed forces.
Pilger: Obama Is A Hawk
Jun 15, 2008
In 1941, the editor Edward Dowling wrote: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.” What has changed? The terror of the rich is greater than ever, and the poor have passed on their delusion to those who believe that when George W Bush finally steps down next January, his numerous threats to the rest of humanity will diminish.
Prashad: Roof the World
Jun 14, 2008
After a brief fourteen-minute speech on June 12, Nepal's last King of the 239 year Shah dynasty, Gyanendra, departed from the side entrance of the Narayanhiti Palace to live out his days in the former summer home of his ancestors. "I have done all I can to cooperate with the government's directives," he said as the reporters and onlookers scuffled with each other to get a good shot of his momentous occasion. "The monarchy in Nepal has always been with the people of Nepal in good times and bad times." At least in his departure the universally despised Gyanendra offered some humility, although the monarchy was generally the architect of the bad times while its members and their A-Class Rana bureaucrats enjoyed the good times.
Jun 05, 2008
When I phoned Aung San Suu Kyi's home in Rangoon yesterday, I imagined the path to her door that looks down on Inya Lake. Through ragged palms, a trip-wire is visible, a reminder that this is the prison of a woman whose party was elected by a landslide in 1990, a democratic act extinguished by men in ludicrous uniforms. Her phone rang and rang; I doubt if it is connected now. Once, in response to my "How are you?" she laughed about her piano's need of tuning. She also spoke about lying awake, breathless, listening to the thumping of her heart.
Pilger: Kennedy To Obama
Jun 01, 2008
In this season of 1968 nostalgia, one anniversary illuminates today. It is the rise and fall of Robert Kennedy, who would have been elected president of the United States had he not been assassinated in June 1968. Having travelled with Kennedy up to the moment of his shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on 5 June, I heard The Speech many times. He would "return government to the people" and bestow "dignity and justice" on the oppressed. "As Bernard Shaw once said," he would say, "'Most men look at things as they are and wonder why. I dream of things that never were and ask: Why not?'" That was the signal to run back to the bus. It was fun until a hail of bullets passed over our shoulders.
Prashad: Bill Clinton
May 22, 2008
When Bill Clinton ran for the White House in 1992, I was deeply annoyed. He represented so much that we, on the left, despised: the reaction within the ranks of the Democratic Party's elite that wanted to "save" the party from what it saw as the excesses of a combination of the New Left, the already declining trade unions, and, most importantly, the Rainbow cultivated and mobilized by Jesse Jackson's two runs for the presidency (1984 and 1988).