Cover of The Long View vol 6, Issue 1The January 2024 issue of the quarterly magazine “The Long View” is dedicated to “Palestine and the Shifting Paradigms of Peace” and includes my article How to Make a Genocide and How to Resist It.

The Long View editorial says:

“In our lead essay, Richard Haley looks not at why there is so much tacit and explicit support for a genocidal project in the west, but how this is able to operate. He contends that three issues have been key to opening the door for this next stage of annihilation being unleashed since October 2023 on the Palestinians. There are three pillars to the procedural and discursive framework that has made this genocide possible: the imputation of anti-semitism to critics of Israel, the invention of an Israeli right to self-defence that goes beyond its rights under the UN Charter, and the criminalisation of armed Palestinian resistance. Haley takes no prisoners in detailing how international law and institutions have been disregarded and undermined, and solidarity movements cowed and or socialised. His conclusion is clear: the language of the oppressors cannot be used to liberate the oppressed.”

Continue reading “How to Make a Genocide and How to Resist It” »

protest against the Iraq war, Glasgow, 15 February 2003

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the huge demonstrations in London and Glasgow against the imminent US-UK invasion of Iraq. A few days later David Aaronovitch published a nasty, condescending article in the Guardian that he must have hoped would help break the momentum of the anti-war movement. It was headlined “Dear marcher, please answer a few questions.” I took him at his word and sent the Guardian an article with answers to his questions. Naturally they ignored it. Here it is, written on 28 February 2003.

Continue reading “Dear David, I’m not going to give war a chance” »

Funeral of Tony Catney
Funeral of Tony Catney

For almost two and a half years the British media have been running stories about a dissident republican fixer and supposed MI5 agent called Dennis McFadden. Some of the stories have more than a whiff of MI5 propaganda about them. Reporting fairly on MI5 is difficult, but the media need to try harder.

McFadden was exposed in August 2020 when he was described in court as a state agent by lawyers representing ten people charged with offences related to alleged New IRA terrorism. Committal proceedings against the ten have been under way since 24 October 2022 to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for a trial.

McFadden was central to the events leading to these people being charged, but he has not been named as a suspect in the case or called as a witness and has apparently disappeared. The circumstances surrounding his involvement make it virtually impossible to doubt that he was working for the British state.

Nine of the people charged were at the time of their arrest members of Saoradh, a political party that the media often describe as the “political wing” of the New IRA. The tenth person was Issam Bassalat, a Palestinian doctor from Edinburgh. His limited connection with Saoradh was solely through McFadden, and his lawyers say that his presence at a meeting that is key to the charges against him was the result of pressure and deception by McFadden. They say that in any case Dr Bassalat spoke only about the situation in Palestine and committed no crime.

MI5 is said by police to have been a “partner” in the operation – codenamed “Arbacia” – that led to the arrests, and to have made the covert recordings on which the prosecution relies. But the spy agency has so far refused to confirm or deny that McFadden was working for them.

Continue reading “Spooks and Spin – What was the role of suspected MI5 agent Dennis McFadden?” »

man holds a poster with the inscription in Russian “no war.”

The war in Ukraine grows more dangerous every day. The US Congress is close to approving a massive new arms and aid package for Ukraine. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says “the war in Ukraine is our war” and “we will keep going further and faster to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine.” US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he wants to see Russia “weakened.”

These statements create the impression that the US and its allies intend to use the war to catalyse the collapse of the Russian state. If Russian leaders believe that to be the case they will think it worth running almost any risk to try to strengthen their position.

Western statements appear to be calculated to squeeze Russia between a rock and a hard place and block any prospect of negotiation. Continue reading “Stopping the War in Ukraine – Five Demands” »

Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair

There are few things that friends of the establishment dislike more than the kind of contextualisation they call “whataboutism”. When Washington says “Ukraine”, we mustn’t say “Iraq.” They are right, in a way. Trying to keep a score card of war crimes and human rights abuses by the world’s great powers would certainly be a futile task if the aim was to pick demons and saviours.

But that isn’t the point. The purpose of context and history is to create a picture of how international law actually works in the hope of understanding what consequences might follow from particular actions. You would be unwise to jump to conclusions about an alleged breach of domestic law without looking not only at the evidence, but also at police actions and case law and perhaps also the sociology of comparable incidents. You would be even more unwise to approach international law in ignorance of its case history. There is no international police force and no single straightforward court system comparable with domestic court systems. The concept of customary international law – the accumulation of unchallenged actions by states – has no real parallel in domestic law. War crimes prosecutions always involve politics in a much more explicit way than domestic prosecutions. You cannot talk about international law without talking about history.

So what about Afghanistan and Iraq?

Continue reading “What About International Law?” »

Licorne nuclear test, French Polynesia, 1970

From stopping a war to starting one in 7 lines. We are about half-way through line 6  at the moment.

Stop the war in Ukraine.
Stop Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Sanction Russia to stop Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Send arms to stop Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Ukrainians are defending Europe, Europe must defend Ukraine.
Send food, send missiles, send planes, send troops, send tanks.
War! War! Death! Death!

Continue reading “The Road to Armageddon” »

Guernica by Agustin Ibarrola, inspired by  Picasso’s Guernica

Originally written on 24 February 2022, the day Russia launched a full-scale invasion if Ukraine.

War is monstrous. And it creates further monstrosities that are hard to un-make. Those who were previously banging drums that could only lead to war seem to think that the monstrousness is news and somehow vindicates their previous warmongering.

No one who brought the current incarnation of the monster into being can escape responsibility. The circumstances that bred it were largely created by the US, through its commitment to potentially endless NATO expansion and its apparent ambition of holding something much more than the balance of power in the Eurasian landmass. And then the final responsibility for unleashing the dogs of war was Putin’s. There are no excuses for either side.

Continue reading “Monsters” »

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement

An MI5 sting directed at the New IRA is raising some tricky questions. The big questions are “why now?” and “what about Lyra McKee?” And “what has a Palestinian doctor from Edinburgh got to do with all this?”

Ten people were arrested in August in an operation said by police to be directed against the New IRA. Nine of them were members of the revolutionary Irish republican party Saoradh. One of them was a Palestinian doctor from Edinburgh, arrested at Heathrow airport and then taken to Belfast to be charged under terrorism legislation. His name is Issam Hijjawi Bassalat. His arrest triggered a little flurry of media speculation about supposed links between republican terrorism and Middle Eastern terrorism, helped along by the usual nameless security sources.

The operation has a name, as they do in the movies. It’s called Arbacia. Arbacia is a type of sea urchin that looks rather like the spiny-rayed sun that appears in the Saoradh logo. The police evidently want Saoradh to know that they are targeting it. At a press conference on 24 August Chief Constable Barbara Gray said: “This investigation did not start last week and it will not end this week.” She added: “It is a longer term investigation that will look into every aspect of the activities of the New IRA in its entirety.”

In fact there have been no further arrests. Gossip from a “security source” reported in the Guardian on 12 October carries a hint of finality that was absent from earlier reports. So what has been going on? Continue reading “MI5’s Irish Charade” »

Package of covid tests

On 10 March Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Gregor Smith, published a statement setting out the way that contact tracing was being used to counter the spread of coronavirus. He described contact tracing as “a fundamental part of outbreak control, used by public health professionals around the world.”

But at the First Minister’s press conference on 2 April, Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood said: “the thought that the testing in some way slows the virus or is a part of our strategy to prevent transmission is a fallacy.”

What happened between these two statements? I sent the Scottish Government a freedom of information (FOI) request to try to find some of the answers. What I found was shocking. Continue reading “Test, Trace, Obfuscate” »

Sheku Bayoh

On 21 March the Scottish Government announced the terms of reference for the public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Sheku Bayoh. It remains to be seen whether Sheku Bayoh’s family will finally obtain justice.

Bayoh died in Kirkcaldy on 3 May 2015 after being restrained by police using CS spray, pepper spray and batons. The Lord Advocate announced in 2018 that no police officers were to be prosecuted and re-affirmed this decision on 11 November 2019, after the Crown Office had completed a review of its own earlier decision. The following day, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf announced in the Scottish Parliament that a public inquiry would be set up. He announced in January that the inquiry would be headed by retired judge Lord Bracadale.

The public inquiry is being set up under the Inquiries Act 2005. It will cover the matters that would have been covered by a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI), plus some matters that are beyond the remit of an FAI. An FAI is mandatory for all deaths in police custody, but the requirement may be waived if the Lord Advocate considers that the circumstances of death have been sufficiently established by other proceedings, such as criminal proceedings or a public inquiry. Continue reading “Justice at Last?” »