Monday, 25 October 2010

On J-soc's invitation of Colonel Richard Kemp

by Adam O'Connell

University of Birmingham's JSoc are apparently "delighted" to present colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan (in 2003), to give a talk on the following (quoting their poster for the event) on Wednesday 24th November:

- Are the Geneva conventions still relevant?
- What role does international law play in today's military warfare?
- What are the similarities between Britain's mission in Afghanistan and Israel's incursion in Gaza?

Before addressing these questions one must understand why this particular colonel, described by J-soc as "a phenomenal speaker, and a true friend of Israel" has been chosen.

Richard Kemp is one of the Britain's most valued imperial strategists. In 1994 he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for his work as a second lieutenant in Northern Ireland, and in 2006 was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his work in Afghanistan.

After his work in Afghanistan was over, he was sent regularly as a military advisor to Israel. During the Gaza massacre he went on the BBC to pontificate about the morality of the Israeli Occupation Forces. Not only that, but he even took the initiative of going to the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Goldstone Report to defend Israel's savage attack.

Indeed, Kemp's open, loud and proud colonial solidarity with the Zionist state is uncharacteristic of the British army, who like to give an impression of professionalism. This impression was of course definitively smashed for those in doubt by the Afghanistan war logs. It's a testament to the bubble-like mentality of Zionist activists that they assume people still think of Afghanistan as "the good war", but we do not share their colonial prejudices.

Kemp's argument rested on a number of myths, the most ingrained of those obviously being that Israel is a legitimate state under attack from "terrorists". Israel is a state of colonial settlers, serving as the West's attack dog in the Arab world. It faces resistance from the Palestinian people whose land it has stolen and continues to steal on a daily basis.

His entire argument is ignorant of the civilian death toll and of course the hundreds of specific incidents of war crimes, many outlined in the Goldstone Report. The only crime an Israeli soldier was charged and punished for was for stealing a Palestinian's bank card, everything else was naturally whitewashed.

Are the Geneva conventions still relevant? What role does international law play in modern warfare?

Zionists are ever eager to discredit international law which actually recognises resistance to occupation as legitimate, and considers Israel's occupation and colonial settlement as illegal. Similarly, the Geneva conventions are to be discredited as Israel is again quite a regular offender (as is the United States and the UK).

The point I figure that J-soc will be expecting Kemp to make will be that "war is chaos", "mistakes happen". Essentially that the targetting of civilians while fighting resistance is justified when it means that the UK or Israel can make gains in their imperialist campaign dubbed "the war on terror". But this is terrorism, carried out by fighter jets, apaches and tanks. The aim is to try and force the Palestinians in Gaza to give up their legitimate struggle.

The Geneva conventions have always been discarded by the West and Israel whenever it has been militarily necessary to fulfill their imperialist and expansionist objectives. So their relevance is merely symbolic - allowing us to point out the hypocricy of moaning about Hamas rocket strikes. If you declare that "war is chaos", and then go about killing innocent people as a shortcut to your objectives, then expect that some resistance will be "chaotic".

What are the similarities between Britain's mission in Afghanistan and Israel's incursion in Gaza?

There are similarities, but not those which J-soc are thinking of. They probably see in both conflicts a 'righteous' battle against... well I wonder.

Both are colonial occcupations which are being defeated by the resistance. Arguably in Afghanistan the resistance has already won. Britain, having once again been laid to waste in the graveyard of empires, is now officially incapable of taking part in invasions on the scale of Iraq and Afghanistan (according to Cameron, as he explained the defence cuts in Parliament), and Israel constantly fails to crush resistance in Lebanon and Gaza.

Israel did not withdraw from either southern Lebanon or Gaza out of kindness but because of defeat. The military occupation of Gaza in support of illegal settlement was too costly. Most Gazan families are refugees from pre-1948 Palestine, and will not give up their struggle until they are able to return to their land which is now within 'Israel'.

Nevertheless, Israel is blockading Gaza by air, land and sea - not even allowing in building materials, meaning that Gaza still lies in a war-torn state. When collective punishment becomes a policy, it is because the power cannot stay on top without targetting the civilian population. Much of the ejecting Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank is done on the initiative of the racist and increasingly militant settlers. Similarly, Israel's attempts to divide Lebanon are getting more desperate. This is a sign of weakness.

So both the US-British occupation of Afghanistan and Israel's military failures and increasing extremities lay bare the decline of Western power in the world. And it is this decline of world powers that, when colonial racism is at play, allows for "collateral damage" of the type we saw in Gaza at the end of 2008. We don't buy it.

(EDIT - 22/11/10 - Jsoc had planned this event for the 25th October, but the war criminal couldn't make it, so now he's coming on the 24th November: The same day we had planned ages ago to have Finkelstein to come and speak, and the same day of national anti-fees/anti-cuts actions by students and staff. What are they trying?!)

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