Saigon, Kyiv and the white supremacist basis of US foreign policy

The parallels between the former US-backed Saigon dictatorship of South Vietnam, and the current NATO-supported Kyiv regime in Ukraine, are becoming ever more apparent. Both regimes in their own way are proxy forces of Western imperial objectives. The foreign policy which the US implements is motivated by the concern that white lives are more important.

But wait a minute, I hear you say, the South Vietnamese Saigon loyalists were not white! True, but as I have explained before, they are accomplices to US imperialist policy that selectively privileges white lives over those of the global South. Let’s elaborate this topic.

Margaret Kimberly, writer and editor for Black Agenda Report, noted in March 2022 that US foreign policy is based on the premise that white lives matter more than others. The unmistakable blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag adorn public buildings and Facebook avatars. Ukrainians, being fair-skinned and blue-eyed, constitute ‘good’ refugees, as opposed to Afghanis, Syrians, Palestinians, sub-Saharan Africans and so on.

Sonali Kolhatkar made the same point, writing that while European nations enthusiastically welcomed Ukrainians fleeing the conflict in their country, those same European countries were enforcing militarised borders against refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan. Several European politicians openly stated their preference for Ukrainian refugees, stating that the Middle East and African nations, unlike Ukraine, have been at war for centuries. They omitted to mention that imperialist interventions, both covert and open, are responsible for the duration of those conflicts.

In June 2020, Ukrainian football fans unfurled a banner stating ‘Free Derek Chauvin’, the racist police officer responsible for the asphyxiation death of African American George Floyd. As Margaret Kimberly observed, the latter’s death was a catalyst for the Black Lives movement. In October 2020, Ukrainian neo-Nazi group National Resistance marched with the banner ‘white lives matter’, a declaration of white supremacist solidarity.

October 14 is celebrated in Ukraine in honour of the UPA, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the acronym is from the Ukrainian words). This army was a Nazi collaborationist formation which fought alongside the Germans in WW2, committing atrocities against Jews, Poles, Hungarians and antifascist Ukrainians. It is no secret that Ukraine, since the 2014 US-supported Maidan ultranationalist coup, has become a hub attracting white supremacists from around the world to Kyiv’s cause.

The normally staid, centre-of-the-road Washington Post, in May 2022, was forced to concede that Ukraine has become a proxy of the NATO powers, fighting as cannon fodder for a proxy war with Moscow. Getting others to do the heavy fighting has benefits for the imperial power – less of your own troops are directly deployed, and domestic criticism of overseas adventures is limited.

As the Washington Post writer stated:

The key to the strategy is to find a committed local partner — a proxy willing to do the killing and dying — and then load it up with the arms, money and intelligence needed to inflict shattering blows on a vulnerable rival. That’s just what Washington and its allies are doing to Russia today.

This strategy is not without historical precedent. The disturbing parallels between the current Ukraine conflict and the Vietnam war are not simply the exaggerated meanderings of my own imagination. Over at the Pearls and Irritations public policy blog, activist Rick Sterling notes the similarities, even in rhetoric, between the American war on Vietnam via its Saigon proxy, and the NATO induced war on capitalist Russia via the Ukrainian proxy.

The Saigon dictatorship, whose loyalists were given refuge after the Vietnam war concluded in the 1970s in Australia and the US, received millions in funding and state-of-the-art weaponry from the imperialist powers. This obsessive compulsive desire to send the latest and greatest military technology, prevalent in Washington and London, finds its reflection today in the near-frenzied demands to send tanks eastwards to Kyiv.

Washington was not the only foreign backer of the Saigon regime – London played its part in propping up a repressive dictatorship. Britain, soon after the conclusion of WW2, provided sanctuary to thousands of Ukrainian and Baltic ultranationalist Nazi collaborators, overriding the legitimate concerns that war criminals were escaping justice.

London, throughout the Vietnam war, provided military and ideological support to the Saigon regime. The UK’s Foreign Office, having set up an Information Research Department (IRD), broadcast propaganda for the Saigon dictatorship. This effort was aimed at creating public support for the American war effort, and covering up the massacres of civilians and war crimes committed by American forces.

The atrocities committed by the Saigon loyalist forces were not seen as problematic because of the ethical outrage they would cause, but as damaging to the public relations image of the American war domestically. In June 1965, the then prime minister of South Vietnam, Major General Nyugen Cao Ky stated that he wished to see four or five Hitlers in Vietnam. It was difficult to reconcile the image of the ‘free world’ South Vietnamese regime which was headed by a Hitler-admiring dictator.

The British government set about reconstructing the popular image of the Saigon regime in their media releases and broadcasts to the public. Teams of public relations experts are managing, and even writing press releases for, Zelensky in Kyiv.

As long as US policymakers treat people like cannon fodder, more people will die in Ukraine. We must shine a spotlight on the darkest corners of imperialist foreign policy, for it is in the bright light of exposure that the process of accountability for US crimes can begin.

Why it is important to pronounce foreign names correctly

Australia is increasingly a multicultural nation, with more Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB). This presents a challenge – understanding how to pronounce non-Anglo names. We have people from all over the world – Vietnamese, Maltese, Hungarian, Indian, Pasifika, Arabic-speaking nations – you get the idea. Everyone has their unique name, and at first, it can be difficult to pronounce a person’s name correctly. Each language has its peculiarities.

However, Mr Aussie Larrikin, if you keep on mispronouncing a person’s name because it is ‘too foreign’ or difficult’ for you, then that is not only frustrating, but arrogantly disrespectful. Your intellectual laziness in failing to make an effort is not an excuse.

Ever since I can remember, my name has been the subject of numerous butcherings. It has been dismissed as too ‘difficult’, and I have been assigned nicknames for which I never asked. And that is just my first name.

Christine Afoa is a writer of Pasifika background. She wrote that among the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) competition, about 45% of the players are of Pasifika origin. It is not uncommon to hear names like Hopoate, Taupau, Takairangi, Papalii, Matagi – just to name a few examples. Back in the 1980s, it was not unusual to hear the names Peponis, Raudonikis, and so on.

Returning to Afoa’s story; sitting watching the NRL with her boyfriend and his mates, the football commentators came across the Pasifika name Yee-Huang ‘Young’ Tonumaipea. The commentators chortled, made noises, and subsequently referred to the player as ‘Mr Alphabet’. Her boyfriend and mates laughed and mocked his name throughout the match.

A person’s name is an integral part of their identity. Multiculturalism should be teaching us respect for each other’s cultural backgrounds. It is one thing to have a sense of humour; it is quite another to wilfully mispronounce a person’s foreign name, placing the onus back on the individual for being ‘difficult.’

Am I suggesting that you have a volcanic eruption of anger every time someone mispronounces your name? No, of course not. Does wrongly pronouncing your name automatically make the other person a racist? No, it does not. However, Mr Larrikin who thinks they are being hilariously funny or defying social conventions, mocking a person’s name, and not understanding where they originate from, is infuriating to the extreme.

My name is Armenian in origin, and both my parents are from Egypt. Yes, that’s right, Armenians are not ethnically Arabs. They have spread out across the Middle Eastern nations because of historical persecution, asylum seeking and migration. Yes, Egypt – the place you think of as the land of the pharaohs, Tutankhamen, the curse of the mummy, and Charlton Heston leading Hebrew slaves out of captivity – contains different nationalities.

Understanding foreign names is the first and large step in understanding other nationalities and cultures. When the Vietnamese refugees began arriving in Australia in the late 1970s and 80s, they were actually putting the new policy of multiculturalism to its first important test. Australia had strongly supported, and participated in, the American attack on Vietnam. When the US-supported Saigon regime was on the brink of defeat, policy planners in Canberra correctly predicted an outflow of refugees.

Confronting the negative public sentiment, the Vietnamese made Australia their new home. They did not simply forget their home nation, or abandon their language and culture en masse. They made the effort to settle in, all the while facing the uphill cultural battle to integrate into a predominant Anglo society. While the political beliefs of the Saigon loyalist refugees may be questionable, their presence in our society should never be disputed.

Vietnamese Australians make up 1.1% of the Australian population, and 3.5% of Australia’s overseas-born population. They have shown resilience through tough times, and the least we can do is make the effort to pronounce their names correctly.

The dissolution of the Soviet bloc, and the declaration of independence by various former Soviet republics (such as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan) has increased the pool of nations from which there has been an outflow of refugees and migrants. This has produced a whole new level of foreign names to be assimilated into the Anglophone world.

Ok, even before the Soviet breakup, we had to learn the name of the last foreign minister of the USSR – Eduard Shevardnadze. Yes, a non-Russian rose to one of the highest positions in the Soviet presidium. The first post-communist president of Georgia? Zviad Gamsakhurdia. America’s favourite Georgian politician in the recent past? Mikhail Saakashvili. So the issue of pronouncing foreign names is not going away.

So, for a start, let’s make a conscious effort to learn and pronounce each other’s names correctly. Better understanding leads to improved communication and shared visions for the future.

Canada provided refuge for, and has been cultivating, ultranationalist Ukrainians for decades

Canada, the North American state with a nice-guy reputation, has been incubating and encouraging Ukrainian far right ideology and activities for many years. As much as its more economically powerful neighbour to its south, Ottawa’s intimate alliance with Ukrainian – and Eastern European ultranationalist organisations – is an underreported and yet highly significant factor in understanding the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Canada provided sanctuary for Eastern European Nazi collaborator war criminals; cultivated an Eastern European diaspora that is ultranationalist in its political orientation, hostile to Russia, antisemitic and nonwhite nations generally. Ukrainian, Baltic and East European emigre groups, after 1945, have fascistic roots and constructed cults venerating Nazi collaborators from their home nations. Nationalist credentials cannot disguise the ugly reality of their eugenicist, racist and antisemitic foundational ideology.

After WW2, Britain, United States, Australia and Canada, accepted Ukrainians and Baltic Nazi collaborators as refugees. These militants, it was hoped, would be useful in the new Cold War against the USSR. Turning a blind eye to the millions of displaced persons in Europe – including Holocaust survivors – Ottawa adopted the rationale of London and Washington at this time, turning the former murderers of Jews into useful instruments of Cold War policy.

The Germans, upon invading the USSR in 1941, utilised its long-standing ties with Ukrainian ultranationalists and organised them as auxiliary forces in their war of extermination. The main group tasked with assisting Nazi forces was the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Far from being forcibly conscripted, the OUN were willing accomplices of German, and subsequently US, imperialism.

Committing massacres of Poles, Jews, Hungarians and antifascist Ukrainians, the OUN pursued its goal of creating an ethnically pure Ukrainian state in the territories it controlled. Acting as a proxy for Nazi Germany, similarly to the Croat Ustasha and Italian fascism, the OUN’s military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA is the acronym in Ukrainian) waged a relentless and criminal war of racial extermination.

The Ukrainian diaspora in Canada, backed up by official support from the state, has long agitated for war with Russia. The cult-like worship of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, implemented by Canadian Ukrainian community-centred cultural groups, involves excusing and minimising the horrific complicity of their heroes in the Holocaust – complete with scouting uniforms for the youngsters.

Ukrainian nationalism, along with its East European analogues, contains a homicidal kernel. Ultranationalist OUN partisans not only wanted an expansionist Ukrainian state ethnically cleansed of Russians and Jews, but also cleansed of Poles, Hungarians and all non-Ukrainians. Ukrainian ethnonationalism was the crux, not only of the Ukrainian Canadian organisations and their milieu, but also of the ‘captive nations’ policy pursued by Ottawa and allied Western governments.

The so-called ‘captive nations’ was a policy implemented by Ottawa (and the associated Anglophone nations) regarding the Eastern bloc nations as captives of Soviet Communism. That did not stop western business interests from cooperating with these allegedly captive nations. Be that as it may, Canada cultivated East European emigré communities, incubating ultranationalist and fascistic ideologies in these ethnic minorities.

Not only did the Canadian Ukrainians become loyal supporters of Ottawa’s anti socialist foreign policies, they also became a solid domestic bulwark against leftist and socialist groups in their adopted nation. Stepan Bandera, the wartime leader of the OUN and Ukrainian Nazi collaborator, is not only regarded as a hero in today’s post-Communist Ukraine, but a figure of cultish veneration by the Canadian Ukrainian community.

Roman Shukhevych, Ukrainian wartime Nazi collaborator and responsible for the massacre of 100 000 Poles in the Galicia-Volhynia region, is memorialised with a statue by the Canadian Ukrainian community in Edmonton. In 2007, the Ukrainian government declared Shukhevych a national hero. The convergence of Ukrainian ultranationalist agendas between the Ukrainian diaspora and Kyiv is in plain view.

Ottawa has steadfastly supported the NATO war drive in Kyiv against Russia, solidly backing those Ukrainian political forces whose ideological continuities with the ultranationalism of the OUN is apparent. This military and diplomatic support is hardly motivated by humanitarian considerations, but rather by the policy of Canadian imperialism to integrate Ukraine more fully into the western economic orbit.

Both sides of Canadian politics, liberal and conservative, have deliberately cultivated political links with Ukrainian far right activists. Former Canadian prime minister gave his heavyweight support to the network of Ukrainian neofascist networks, agitating for a war with Russia and teaching an ultraconservative interpretation of Ukraine’s twentieth century history.

During the Cold War, the Ukrainian ultranationalist diaspora agitated for a hot confrontation with Soviet Russia, recycling the fascistic falsehood that Bolshevism originated with, and is advocated by, the Jews. The Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy, a favourite theme among the Nazi party, gets a renewed platform from the ultrarightist Ukrainian community.

Russia has certainly changed since 1991 – it is a capitalist oligarchy, advancing its own interests. However, the contempt with which the Canadian Ukrainian community regards Russia has not changed, with Vladimir Putin taking on the role of a ‘neo-Bolshevik’ villainous Dr Evil stereotype. While Moscow has behaved aggressively in Ukraine since the February 2022 invasion, it is not the sole aggressor.

The influence of the OUN’s neo-Nazi ideology, deliberately cultivated by Ottawa among other powers, has found its place in the Ukrainian parliament. The Ukrainian diasporan condition of ultrarightist vitriol has spread its tentacles to mainstream Ukrainian society. Maintaining the pretence that Moscow’s invasion of eastern Ukraine was unprovoked is getting impossible to sustain.

Having nationalist credentials, such as those of Stepan Bandera, cannot cover the fact that state-sponsored glorification of Nazi war criminals leads to an increase in racial hostility.

Britain’s royal infighting, the Harry and Meghan soap opera, and the delusions we cultivate in ourselves

The TV screens of Australian audiences have been taken up by the ongoing internecine fighting between branches of the English royals – the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-renamed Windsor family. The interminably boring, collectively narcissistic preoccupations and tribulations – the latter overinflated by an obsequious corporate media – are intended to occupy our attention spans as we consume what is proffered as news.

The history of English royalism has never experienced different and rival branches of aristocratic entitlement fighting each other over the Crown and its wealth – no, that has never happened in the history of the British Isles. Surely, the English royals would never be involved in the crimes of empire, not in modern times?

As the multiple news stories, Netflix specials and triviality-based outpourings continue in this Australian version of societal Stockholm Syndrome, one particular episode is worth discussing. Actually, I have written about the Harry and Meghan soap opera before, years ago. However, moving with the times, another opportunity presents itself to discuss the nature of the British state and its role in the world – and something that Harry wrote let the cat out of the bag.

Harry, writing in his memoirs, revealed that during his military service in Afghanistan, he killed 25 Taliban fighters. Regarding his military role, he stated that it is easier to kill the enemy if you don’t think of them as human; they were, he opined, chess pieces on a board. He went on to explain that his training enabled him to view the enemy as the ‘Other’. I suppose that is a distinct nod to official wokeness, a quality that increases one’s credentials as a ‘social media influencer’.

The official response from the English media and high-ranking military officers was one of criticism; that attitude is not ‘who we are’ opined one expert. However, in one way, Harry inadvertently let the mask slip – the British military, and ruling political establishment, do not regard nonwhite people as humans, but as inconvenient obstacles to be removed in the pursuance of imperial projections.

The Taliban, via a spokesperson, were quick to respond to Harry’s boast, stating that the people he killed were not chess pieces, but human beings with families. Anas Haqqani, the aforementioned spokesperson, made a barbed jibe at Harry and the British military, writing that not all British officers have the courage and decency to admit their war crimes and killings.

No, we do not agree with the Taliban, but Haqqani is correct on one point – British military forces have committed war crimes, involving the killing of civilians, in Afghanistan. The Special Air Service (SAS) in particular, deified in Britain as the elite of the élite military units, killed numerous civilians in night raids in Afghanistan. I doubt whether these revelations of war crimes will result in any diminution of the cult of the SAS.

The choreographed grovelling towards Harry and Meghan on the part of the corporate media will continue, and the recycled soap opera of English royals tearing strips off each other will continue to preoccupy the minds of Australian and British audiences. However, let us turn our attention to a news story which is important in revealing the nature of Britain’s imperial delusions.

In India, the crown jewel of the British empire, at least 50 million excess deaths from famine were caused by British government policies over a forty year period 1880 – 1920. Academics writing in the journal World Development have calculated that policy-induced mortality, ie famine, accounts for the conservative estimate of 50 million deaths in India. British colonial policy involved deindustrialising India, which in the 1820s was on the cusp of an industrial takeoff, and transferring wealth and resources to Britain.

Demolishing India’s manufacturing base, and establishing a system of legalised robbery extracting natural resources from India, set the conditions for widespread famine. We all know of the famines, and associated mortality, which occurred in 1930s Soviet Russia, Maoist China, North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and Mengistu’s Ethiopia. Combining all the victims of those famines would still not equal the total famine deaths caused by the policies of Imperial Britain.

Britain’s decision makers were well aware of the consequences of the policies they drafted and enacted. The wealth of Britain’s élite continued to increase in this period – they watched the impact of famine in India and did nothing to help. The past cannot be changed, but exploitive practices can and should be. Speaking of famines, the sanctions which the US imposed on Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover are pushing millions of Afghanis into a condition of starvation.

Let’s examine and change the destructive course of Anglo-American policies on the world’s poorest people, and devote our energies into improving the living conditions of our fellow human beings. Being enraptured by the squabbling circus of mutually narcissistic vipers combating each other in an obsolete institution – which should be abolished – is a drain on our energy which we could do without.

Netanyahu’s new government, the shadow of Meir Kahane, and openly racist coalition partners

An underreported news development from November/December last year is the election of the new Netanyahu government in Israel. After a brief stint in opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu has re-emerged as Israeli prime minister. Fresh elections were held, and while no single party won a clear majority, Netanyahu’s Likud party has been able to cobble together support from the ultranationalist Right. His new government is a coalition of racist and fascistic minded political partners.

The writers at Electronic Intifada have analysed the composition of the new Israeli government. Netanyahu, having won another general election – the fifth one in four years – has assembled the most extremist cabinet of racists and fascists. The coalition government includes the Religious Zionist party, ultranationalist and religiously fanatical parties. For instance, the Religious Zionist party includes militants from the group Jewish Power, an organisation that can accurately be described as an Israeli KKK.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Jewish Power group, is a far right adherent of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. The latter was the founder of an ideological and political trend now known as Kahanism, a form of Judeo-supremacy. Kahane advocated the expulsion of all Palestinians from the occupied territories, the building of settlements, and the creation of a Jewish-supremacist state. Ben-Gvir is the new minister of national security.

Ben-Gvir’s appointment as national security minister is akin, in the words of the America’s Union for Reform Judaism, to appointing David Duke, former KKK chief, to the position of attorney general. Ben-Gvir is known to idolise the late Baruch Goldstein, a Kahanist Israeli-American who murdered 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, in February 1994.

There is criticism of the new Israeli government from its traditional supporters. Even the Biden administration has expressed its reservations about the appointment of racists and extremists to top positions. However, most of this criticism takes the form of handwringing about the rise of extremism, and how Zionism has allegedly ‘lost its purpose’. The rise of Kahanism is not an aberration or a deviation from the norm. Just as Trumpist conservatives arose from the ranks of American white supremacy, Ben-Gvir, Smotrich and his fellow fanatics arise from the logic of Zionism itself.

From the foundation of the Israeli state, Zionism’s supporters portrayed Israel as a socialist project, the showpiece of which was the kibbutz. David Ben Gurion, the senior statesman of Labour Zionism, marketed the new state as one where the Jewish worker would be handsomely rewarded for their labouring efforts.

The kibbutzim, hailed as a ‘socialist’ project, are actually a key part of the colonisation process. They helped to isolate the Palestinians, all the while encouraging foreign volunteers to associate these mini-Davids battling an ostensible Arab Goliath. The David versus Goliath biblical metaphor, pitting an allegedly minuscule and besieged Israel against a supposed Arab Goliath, is not my invention, but a crucial propaganda tactic of Israel’s supporters.

This collectivist tinge of the kibbutzes encouraged a false portrayal of Zionism as a labour-friendly project. Ali Abunimah points out that numerous European and American volunteers, some with a leftist outlook, worked on kibbutzes during the 1960s and 70s. Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the former EU ambassador to Tel Aviv, wrote glowingly about his time on a ‘socialist’ kibbutz in the 1970s, recycling the myth of an Israeli ‘David’ confronting an Arab ‘Goliath’.

Murray Bookchin, the late American social theorist and anarchist, went a long way towards supporting the Zionist state, regurgitating stereotypes of Arabs as backward, prone to violence and motivated by unhinged antisemitism. He helped to cultivate support for the allegedly collectivist project of Zionism.

The David versus Goliath metaphor deployed by Zionist activists is not only a deliberate manipulation of biblical stories to support modern-day political objectives. It also misrepresents the unequal balance of forces between the Tel Aviv government and its Palestinian and Arab opponents. Not only does Israel possess one of the world’s most militarily and technologically advanced armies in the world, it exports its military technology and training to other sympathetic regimes.

The Palestinians are fighting at the most rudimentary level. This is not to suggest that the Israeli military is invincible, but to arrive at an accurate portrayal of the Israel-Palestine conflict. We have all seen the stereotype of the Arab terrorist hijacking civilian airplanes, but how many of us realise that the Israeli military has been bombing Arab civilian airports for decades?

It is highly ironic that myths of racial supremacy, highlighting the purported superiority of a ‘pure white European race’ used to isolate and murder the Jewish people, are currently being deployed by the Israeli ruling circles to isolate and dispossess the Palestinian population. Professor Joseph Massad writes that Zionist advocates, such as Theodor Herzl, fixated on the notion of Jewish people as a distinct race, and thus, requiring the construction of a separate state under the guise of self-determination.

Netanyahu and his political allies have invoked ‘self-determination’ in order to disguise the settler-colonial origins of the Zionist project. Claiming Jewish supremacy over the entire land of biblical Israel, racial myths are currently being used to construct a modernised version of a Davidic kingdom.

If Adolf Eichmann were alive today, he would have been very proud of the new Israeli government.

Britain’s imperial role, Oman, the current Yemen war and the durability of empire-building delusions

Five years ago, I wrote about Britain’s secret war against a nationalist pan-Arab uprising in the 1960s and 70s in Oman. The latter is a British-backed monarchy, a former colony of the British empire. Knowledge of Britain’s secretive role in suppressing that uprising helps us to understand the continuing durability of imperial delusions in the English ruling class, even though the old Empire is dead.

Well, it is great to have your analysis confirmed. Jacobin magazine has published an extensive article this month explaining Britain’s counterrevolutionary role in suppressing pan-Arab uprisings and revolutionary movements in the Arabian peninsula. Britain’s imperial aspirations can be seen in the ongoing role that the UK plays in supporting the western-aligned petro-monarchies in the Middle East.

While Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and all the gulf petro-monarchies are known for their role as pro-imperialist stalwarts, what is not known is the strong emergence and political influence of revolutionary pan-Arab nationalist and socialist movements. These revolutionary upsurges were suppressed with the crucial counterrevolutionary support of the British military. It is no exaggeration to say that these Gulf monarchies constitute AngloArabia, given how vital the UK’s role was – and is – as an economic and political buttress.

The Sultanate of Oman, a British colony since the 1800s, had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, and the majority of Omani people lived in abject poverty. Inspired by socialist ideas, and the example of the Soviet socialist style republic of South Yemen to its west, a guerrilla nationalist insurgency erupted in the 1960s against the British-backed Sultan. Oman became, in many ways, Britain’s Vietnam.

The Dhofar rebellion, as it is known, lasted through to the 1970s. The Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG) fought valiantly against an Omani state equipped and trained by the British. The tactics the British army and Air Force used included mass aerial bombardment, free-fire zones where any person resident was considered a legitimate target, the use of strategic hamlets (ie detention camps), and the torture of suspects. British army officers occupied key positions in the Omani military.

In 1970, as the uprising showed no signs of abating, the British authorities engineered a palace coup against the reigning Omani Sultan, and replaced him with his son, Qaboos bin Said. A British soldier, Qaboos remained in power, feted as a moderniser, until his death in 2020. While some political reforms were enacted, the Omani state remained an autocracy, firmly within the British orbit. By the mid-70s, the Arab nationalist rebellion had run out of steam.

While the Dhofar uprising was defeated, Arab nationalism remained a potent ideological force. Britain continued its financial and military backing for the Gulf petro-monarchies; a particular British royal, who now happens to be King, visited Oman back in 2016.

It is quite hypocritical of the corporate media to denounce the supposedly culturally regressive practices of the Gulf monarchies. Those authoritarian regimes, like Qatar, are propped up by British imperialism, the latter then using the ‘backward Arab’ stereotype to condemn the Arabian peninsula for culturally regressive social mores.

Yemen – the target of multiple UK interventions and intrigues

Another nation on the Arabian peninsula that has been – and still is – the subject of UK intervention is Yemen. A former British colony, Yemen occupies a strategic location where the Gulf of Aden leads into the Red Sea. Until today, the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are vital for global maritime traffic. The Bab al Mandeb, the strait linking the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, separates Yemen on the Arabian peninsula, and Eritrea/Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa.

In 1962, Arab nationalist officers launched a revolution against the British-supported monarchy. The UK, along with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other pro-western governments, started a royalist insurgency to restore the Yemeni monarchy. Britain began its covert military intervention at this time.

The UK government at the time – under Labour Prime Minister Harold Macmillan – knew full well that the royalist rebellion would not win. However, they kept the counterrevolutionary insurgency going in order to sabotage any post-civil war settlement. As Dan Glazebrook wrote:

Yemen is the sole country on the Arab peninsula with the potential power to challenge the colonial stitch-up reached between Britain and the Gulf monarchies it placed in power in the 19th century

Since 2015, the Saudi invasion of Yemen, intended to install a pro-western government in Yemen, has been fully supported by the United States and the UK. Britain not only supplies the bombs for the Saudi military, but provides training for Saudi Air Force pilots. Intelligence gathering and logistical support – Britain makes the ongoing Saudi attack on Yemen possible and enduring.

Yemen and its victims have been relegated to media oblivion. The Ukraine war, with its white Christian victims of Moscow’s aggression, receive saturation coverage and sympathies. The criminal actions of the UK and its allies, and the humanitarian crisis for which we are responsible, are airbrushed from history. Yet, with all of the financial and military muscle of Saudi Arabia and its solid alliance with London and Washington, the Yemeni resistance Ansar Allah movement – popularly known as the Houthis – are winning.

Indeed, the US government has entered into a truce with the Houthis in Yemen; Washington belatedly recognising that its seven year war waged by Saudi proxies is facing certain defeat. The prospect of a Houthi victory in Yemen will hopefully compel a change of strategy in London as well. In many ways, the US/UK intervention in Yemen has become the Vietnam of our times.

The ADL, civil rights, Palestine and interethnic solidarity

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) claims to be a civil rights organisation, standing against antisemitism and for the rights and liberties of the Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. However, a closer examination of this organisation’s activities reveals a different story; a group that actively sabotages interethnic and multicultural solidarity.

Founded in 1913, ostensibly in response to antisemitic attacks, the ADL began its life as a branch of the Jewish service organisation, the B’nai B’rith. It split away from the B’nai B’rith later on, and became an independent nonprofit organisation. Its mission statement says that the ADL fights to stop the defamation of Jewish people, and secure the rights of all American citizens.

However, the ADL spent its considerable resources in attacking African American, migrant and antiracist groups, cooperating with law enforcement agencies in spying operations African American, Arab, and antiracist communities.

Listen to the words of Benjamin Epstein, national director of the ADL in 1961. He wrote:

T]he Anti-Defamation League for many years has maintained a very important, confidential investigative coverage of Arab activities and propaganda….Our information, in addition to being essential for our own operations, has been of great value and service to both the United States State Department and the Israeli government. All data have been made available to both countries with full knowledge to each that we were the source.

The ADL has an extensive website, filled with interesting and relevant information regarding racism in the United States, profiles of extremist groups, and news releases informing the public about current controversies pertaining to civil rights. At first glance, the ADL appears to be an ally of antiracist and progressive organisations. However, its self-description as a civil rights group conceals its long-standing hostility to antiracist movements.

In the 1970s and 80s, as the international community placed sanctions on apartheid South Africa, one of the nations which ignored those sanctions was Israel. Military and intelligence sharing activities continued between Tel Aviv and Pretoria. The ADL, for its part as a supporter of Zionism, used its resources to actively spy on anti-apartheid and antiracist activists in the United States. They collected information on those activists, and shared that information with US law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI.

One of the groups which the ADL collected information about was the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). The west coast chapter of the ADC was headed by a Palestinian Christian, Alex Odeh. The ADL, in cooperation with the FBI, paid a spy to infiltrate the group, and gather intelligence on its members and activities. In 1985, Odeh was assassinated by a bomb planted in his office. The murderers, two Judeo-supremacist militants, had access to the floor plans and map of the ADC offices. You can draw your own conclusions.

Not only are Arab Americans, and Palestine solidarity activists, targeted by the activities of the ADL – routinely smeared as antisemites – so are anti-Zionist and leftist Jews. The group Jewish Currents has elaborated how the ADL’s purported commitment to racial justice and social causes is undermined by its strident advocacy of Zionism. While the ADL has monitored white supremacist and neo-Nazi organisations, it has consistently deployed the accusation of antisemitism against Palestinian, Arab and African American groups in their efforts to criminalise Palestine solidarity campaigns.

In the 1950s, the ADL assisted the anticommunist campaigns of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the US government by cooperating with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), monitoring and informing on Jewish socialist and leftist groups. While there were Jews who condemned the surveillance and intelligence activities of the ADL, their voices were drowned out.

African American organisations, such as Black Lives Matter and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which have taken an anti-Zionist and anti colonialist position, have incurred the wrath of the ADL. The latter, taking up the cudgels in support of the Zionist state, denounced the SNCC as a ‘Negro extremist’ group. At the height of the civil rights movement, the ADL did its utmost to undermine the traditional solidarity between the black and Jewish communities.

While the ADL has spent countless hours and gallons of ink attacking African American groups as antisemitic, it has routinely sanitised the record of actual antisemitic and white supremacist groups, when those groups align with the interests of US foreign policy. In a recent statement, the ADL announced that the white supremacist Azov battalion in Ukraine, which is based on a racist and antisemitic ideology, is no longer a far right institution.

The Azov battalion, along with its ideological brethren in Kyiv, trace their philosophy back to the Nazi-collaborating Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The latter intended to create an ethnically pure, white Ukraine, cleansed of Jews, Poles, Russians and other non-Ukrainian nationalities. This historical context is important, because it helps us to understand the gyrations of the ADL, in its support for US policies.

The ADL downplayed the Ukrainian nationalist collaboration with Nazi Germany, deeming it purely tactical and opportunistic. The flags of the OUN, and the statues of its wartime white supremacist leader Stepan Bandera, are explained away as just Ukrainians ‘honouring their heritage’, in much the same way that Confederate flags in the US are sanitised as mere expressions of historical curiosity.

The ultranationalist features of the Ukrainian right wing movements somehow provide a shield for covering up their antisemitic crimes and ideology. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, stated that neo-Nazi collaborators cannot keep deflecting attention from their documented massacres by constantly resorting to their nationalist credentials. “Holocaust perpetrators are the last people on Earth who deserve to be glorified”, stated Zuroff.

We must take the advice of Omar Zahzah, the education and advocacy coordinator of Eyewitness Palestine, and drop the ADL, because it is not an ally of antiracist organisations.

Joseph Roth, assimilation, territorial nationalism and finding a sense of belonging

We are all familiar with the novelists F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell – you get the idea. Another novelist who should be better known and deserves worldwide recognition is Joseph Roth (1894 – 1939). A Galician Jew by birth, but Austrian by nationality, his story is one of a restless and constant search for homeland and belonging.

Roth was a perceptive observer, gaining a feel for the streets of 1920s Europe. He was not a professor or scholar, he never submitted papers for academic journals. He was however, a literary journalist, and he accurately portrayed the reflections, people and events that transpired in the rising tide of nationalist sentiment. As Paul Scraton wrote in the New Statesman, Roth captured the mood of ascendant nationalism, and foresaw the looming contours of the Second World War.

Roth denounced nationalism, and political ideologies generally, because he remained loyal to the defunct Austro-Hungarian empire, a theoretically multicultural entity which absorbed numerous ethnic groups. Defeated at the end of World War One, Roth was traumatised by the experience. The empire’s territories were mostly divided up among the victorious powers, creating numerous independent states in Eastern and Central Europe.

While he was a pacifist before WW1, and sympathetic to socialism, he nevertheless joined the Austro-Hungarian army in 1916. Fighting for the Hapsburg monarchy, the subsequent defeat of that political and multicultural empire was disorienting for Roth.

He lost a sense of belonging, and lead a peripatetic existence for the rest of his life. He also became an alcoholic, and that condition would eventually result in his premature death at the age of 44. His birthplace, the province of Galicia, reflected the changing dynamics of Eastern European nationalism in the twenties and thirties.

Eastern Galicia, (the town of Brody, where Roth was born in 1894), was located in the most easterly territories of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It was also home to a lively centre of Jewish culture and community. The shtetls, Jewish communities and settlements, bustled with activity across Eastern Europe in the Austro-Hungarian and Tsarist Russian empires. But that all changed with the defeat of both those empires in WW1.

The part of Galicia where Roth was born changed hands several times between the short-lived West Ukrainian People’s Republic, emerging as a breakaway from the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918. That was quickly contested by the ultranationalist Polish republic, who incorporated territory in 1919. Both sides, in the shifting territorial dynamics, committed massacres of Jews as well as their rival ethnic groups. Roth witnessed such developments with increasing alarm, as the shtetl life was being shattered.

Monocultural nationalism and fascism

Roth’s writings, whether his journalistic pieces or his novels, contained the recurring themes of monocultural nationalism as a menace, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and the homicidal kernel of rising European nationalisms. For instance, his novel The Radetzky March, chronicles the rise and fall of the Trotta family, an Austro-Hungarian family. The action occurs through the mid-nineteenth century to the 1930s.

The title of the novel refers to an Austro-Hungarian field marshal who led his armies against the empire’s enemies. Radetzky was celebrated in music by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss, who composed a celebratory piece in honour of his hero. Roth is longing for such a similarly triumphant return of the Hapsburg empire.

Roth, while born Jewish, was raised Catholic. While he never advocated the Hebraic tradition, he maintained a basic identification with Eastern European Jewry. There were times however, when he expressed hostility to Jewish people; during one of his frequent disputes with his publishers, he expressed contempt for ‘piggish Jews’ who had allegedly failed to pay him. In one of his novels, a spy character is referred to as a ‘duplicitous Jew’.

He wrote a nonfiction book, The Wandering Jews, dedicated to the long suffered and dispossessed Jews of Eastern Europe. Opposing the increasingly materialistic, selfish bourgeoisie of Western European nations, he demonstrated his compassion for the poor and displaced refugees of Eastern Europe. He objected to the creeping colonisation of Palestine by the incipient Zionist movement. Roth stated that the halutz – the Jewish emigrant settler in the Middle East, while Jewish, takes the values of the European to that part of the world.

Shortly before his death, he expressed his opposition to Zionism, equating that movement with German Nazism – he was not wrong on that score. Does that make Roth an antisemite? No, it makes him a fallible, flawed, brilliant yet troubled human being. He was not an easy person to get on with. He was quarrelsome, broke off friendships, had extramarital affairs. His longing for Austrian patriotism gave him a permanent sense of transience, never truly settling in one location.

His unswerving loyalty to the restoration of the Hapsburg monarchy was quixotic. He spent his days and nights in the cafes of Paris and Berlin, drinking and trading exchanges with other exiles. He has no fixed political outlook. However, his warnings against the rising tide of ultranationalism in 1920s and 30s Europe was not only eerily prophetic, but contains lessons for our current times.

The partisans of Eastern European nationalism like to portray their patriotism as a simple and justifiable reaction in confronting the colossus of Russia to the east, and Germany to the west. This partial truth, while important, has served to obscure the crimes and massacres committed by ultranationalist East European forces over the shifting course of the twentieth century. Roth was a direct witness to the ardent ultranationalism of his time and circumstances.

As for the new biography of Roth, called Endless Flight by Keiron Pim – I am looking forward to reading it.

Hey – multiethnic gatherings do not make Australia ‘look like the United Nations’

Everyone has their pet peeves, a list of seemingly minor irritations that can serve as major annoyances. We can all think of things that belong on this list – crying babies on a airplane, loud talkers on the phone, attention hogs, rude drivers, leaving chewing gum on a seat, a customer who continues talking on their mobile while ordering at the counter….you get the idea.

Well, in that spirit of unburdening, I wish to tell you my pet peeve, the one that irritates me to heights of homicidal rage. The offending behaviour is purportedly a joke. When seeing a group of migrants, random strangers walking on the street, who come from various ethnic backgrounds, one very clever Anglo Australian will make the comment – ‘looks like the United Nations around here!’

Do you get it…see? A multiethnic or multicultural environment, with people from Asian, Arabic, African or other ethnic backgrounds, it reminds us Aussies of the United Nations? Isn’t that clever? Wonderful comedy. This highly intelligent joke, a shallow statement hiding an ignorant ugly sentiment underneath, has all the wit and charm of a putrefying corpse.

I have heard this alleged observation a million times, and it still grinds my gears. While the person who said it grins with smug self-satisfaction, I manage a half-smile, projecting an air of mild amusement at their oh-so-clever witticism. All the while, I am contemplating the most effective way to put my fist through their face. This ‘joke’ ranks in the same category of irritations as footpath hogging, chewing food loudly, and asking questions during a movie.

Immigration, multiculturalism, the United Nations, and ethnic minorities are entirely separate entities. Yes, of course the United Nations deals with, among other things, disputes between nation states, and with the movement of refugees across and within nation states. The only time that Australian audiences hear about the UN is in news reports about wars and conflicts overseas. However, the UN and its branches perform more work than we are aware of.

Unesco, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation is dedicated to the preservation of world historic sites. These places have scientific, cultural and educational value of inestimable quality, and are listed as protected under the UNESCO charter. One of those protected sites is in Sydney – Cockatoo Island. Australian authorities, as signatories to the UN, are compelled to maintain the historical significance of this site. The convict heritage of Sydney as a former British penal colony is being preserved under the auspices of UNESCO.

There is no socialist conspiracy to deprive Australians of their individual liberties; there is no Beijing-inspired Communist plot to impose totalitarian rules over the world. No, Australians are not being lectured to by ‘UN bureaucrats’. There is a shared commitment by the nations of the world, through the mechanism of UNESCO, to maintain sites of cultural and scientific importance.

To be sure, there is no shortage of leftist criticisms of the UN – with which I agree – that it is a thieves’ kitchen. Subject to the balance of forces among the imperialist nations, the UN flag has been deployed as a fig leaf to provide a legitimate cover for imperialist interests. The 1991 Gulf War, more appropriately called the first attack on Iraq, had the imprimatur of the UN.

It was still a criminal, predatory war designed to implement the economic and geopolitical interests of the United States. The latter, which had long criticised the UN for its supposed bias towards poorer nations, began singing praises for the UN in the lead up to the 1991 attack.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of a UN resolution which still has consequences until today. The UN resolution on the partition of Palestine was a momentous decision, the implications of which still reverberate today. The British Mandate authorities left behind a divided state, and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by Zionist forces proceeded apace. The Palestinians have been denied the pledge of an independent state ever since.

This resolution was a diplomatic victory for Zionism and its imperialist supporters. The UN’s role as an instrument for imperialist diplomacy was exposed by this episode. The wrong conclusion to draw, which sometimes the left does, is complete indifference or hostility to the UN. The solution is to democratise the UN, so that it becomes truly representative of the will of the world’s majority population.

Perhaps I am taking this ‘joke’ too seriously. Well, if that is the case, and I should just ‘lighten up’, here is my suggested storage location for that advice. Actually, the Australian government does take the UN seriously. The Australian authorities denied permission to a UN delegation investigating torture access to prisons, immigration detention centres, and youth detention compounds.

Human rights groups have raised concerns about the use of torture in Australian detention facilities. It appears the authorities are a bit sensitive about the UN poking around, potentially uncovering all sorts of breaches of UN protocols.

Let’s understand the nature and role of the UN in the modern world, and leave the juvenile jokes in the dustbin.

Hindutva ideology is turning diaspora Indians into ultranationalist bigots

Indians living in Leicester, England – like their counterparts in the US – come from diverse religious backgrounds, and have lived in harmony for decades. However, clashes between Hindu and Muslim Indians earlier this year in Leicester city have cast a dark shadow over community relations.

Since the election of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, Hindu nationalism has made creeping and aggressive inroads into diasporan Indian communities. The ideological underpinning of the BJP is Hindutva, an aggressive Hindu nationalism that views India’s Muslim minority as a dangerous element. Intending to construct a Hindu-only state, Hindutva philosophy possesses striking similarities with white nationalism and Zionism.

Let’s be clear that Hinduism, the religion, is completely different from Hindutva, a political ideology. The latter, Sanskrit for the essence of being Hindu, is an ultranationalist philosophy which advocates Hindu communalist supremacy inside India. Hostile to the Muslim minority, this extremist ideology has found recruits and supporters among expatriate Indian communities. It is the followers of this divisive and ethnonationalist ideology who have waged violent attacks against Muslim Indians, such as in Leicester city earlier this year.

Leicester city has long been a beacon of successful multicultural integration. Ugandan Asians, refugees from Idi Amin’s regime, settled in that city back in the 1970s. Ugandan Asians were actually Indians, mostly from Gujarat, but also from other parts of India. As greater numbers of Indians arrived in Leicester – Hindu and Muslim – the Indian community confronted racism together, started and ran businesses, intermarried and socialised together.

When the Indian migrants arrived in the UK, they – along with other nonwhite immigrants – faced the racism of Anglo majority society. This was the era of Enoch Powell ‘rivers of blood’ speech, warning that rising numbers of immigrants would lead to racial conflicts in the streets. The racist National Front types were organising street actions, and clashes between skinheads and migrant youth took place.

Not only is Leicester home to thousands of Ugandan Asians and other Indian migrants, it has a mosques, Diwali celebrations, as well as Sikh and Buddhist temples of worship. So the clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester is especially jarring and disturbing. One point though – clashes implies a kind of ‘equality’ in the perpetration of violence. That is not strictly correct.

Faisal Hanif, writing about the Leicester riots for Middle East Eye, states that the language of ‘communal violence’ may be factual, but incomplete. There were Hindus chanting ‘Death to Pakistan’ during the cricket match, and Muslim youths retaliated. However, these incidents are just skimming the surface. This is not just another ‘India vs Pakistan’ rivalry at which we can simply shrug our shoulders. Hindutva ideology has made inroads into the Indian diaspora community.

Hindu nationalist youths have organised at street level, attacking mosques and Muslim-owned businesses. Chants of Jai Shri Ram, appropriated as a war cry by Hindu nationalists and BJP fanatics in India, has been recycled by BJP supporters in the expatriate Indian communities.

It is not just in the UK where India’s ethnonationalist polarisation has erupted. The BJP has supporters among India’s expatriate communities in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. In the latter nation, Professor Mohan Dutta, who is researching the rise of ultrarightist sentiment among the Indian community in Aotearoa/NZ, has received death threats and been called a ‘brown servant’ by the partisans of Hindu nationalism.

The BJP has its ideological origins in the fascistic politics of the parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The latter, a Hindu extremist and ultranationalist organisation, was founded in the 1925 by Hindu ideologues sympathetic to the politics of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. Officially named the National Volunteer Organisation, the goal of the RSS is to create an ethnically pure Hindu nation.

In the United States, adherents of Hindutva were deliriously happy during the visit of Indian PM Narendra Modi to that country. Modi, touring the US in 2019, expressed his warm admiration for then-US President Donald Trump. Sections of the US Republican Party allied themselves with the network of Hindu nationalist supporters among the Indian expatriate community. White nationalism and Hindutva bigotry find common ground across national borders.

In anticipation of some highly intelligent troll stating the obvious – not all expatriate Indians are bigots – let me make it clear. Of course not every Hindu Indian in the diaspora is an advocate of prejudice. There are many Indians bravely speaking out against the hateful politics of the BJP. None of this changes the fact that Hindutva nationalism is gaining ground in the expatriate communities.

Not every Ukrainian living in Canada is a vicious Nazi. This factually correct observation is wonderful – but this has not stopped the Ukrainian expatriate community in Canada from erecting monuments to Nazi war criminals and fascistic-minded Ukrainian racists. It is incumbent on all of us to unite and defeat the politics of bigotry wherever it emerges.