The Guardian: why the US lost in Afghanistan

This is an extraordinary article in the Guardian. In reality – it is not ‘extraordinary’; it is simply offering the obvious explanation for why the Taliban was able to defeat the Afghan National army with such ease. The explanation is that the Taliban are a faith-based movement and the US funded army was simply a set of people drawing pay checks, with no motivation beyond that. (Some Afghans may have liked the freedom to wear what they liked, listen to pop music etc. but I doubt many really cared about ‘democracy’ as a value worth dying for). Of course this valueless and artificially created army collapsed when put to the test. The extraordinary thing is that this article has appeared in the Guardian. It is, basically, a correct analysis. It stands out in a sea of narrative journalism – the kind where the preferred narrative of the journalist/editor is superimposed on reality. The clue to this rare level of truth may be that the writer is a science writer and she has consulted serious academics for the article.

The academics mentioned in the article are clearly on the right tracks. You cannot export and impose democracy on tribal societies. Western governments continue with their folly because electoral pressures mean they (any one government) may be reluctant to admit that a mistake has been made. Not everyone around the world wants democracy. It is doubtful as to whether democracy is even clearly understood in the West.

The frightening phrase in this article is the one offered by an Oxford academic whose research forms part of the basis for the article: “It’s strange, we keep being invited [to meetings at high levels of government] yet it all seems to go in one ear and out the other”. In one ear and out the other. One explanation may be that they are paralysed by the pressures of the financial and military forces which surround them. They hear – but they can’t stand up and make independent decisions. The paralysis may be accentuated by the problem that politicians are simply self-interested careerists. I can’t speak about the US but I do observe the UK and it seems to me there isn’t a statesman among them. Not one of them is actually interested in policy or affairs of state. They are just not bothered. They receive the reports, (worst case scenarios from the military), and the lobbying from various sources including arms manufacturers and the military. In a ‘democracy’ politicians always have a compulsive need to be seen to be doing something. With this in mind they look at how their decision will play out in tomorrow morning’s papers. What headlines will this course of action generate? And that is as far as their thinking goes. This is why any serious analysis goes in one ear and out the other.

Vaccine madness and the media in the UK

The UK government has authorised a campaign of “jabs” (the populist touch word for a vaccination) for young people aged 12-15. The programme will be ‘delivered’ in schools. Apparently young people can overrule their parent’s wishes and have a vaccination even if their parents are against it. (Same principal as a cult which empowers children over their parents).

One non-peer reviewed US study claims that giving Pfizer to this age group – which is the proposed UK vaccine – will lead, as far as boys are concerned to more hospitalisations than if they don’t. [1] Astra-Zeneca is also more dangerous to young people than the minimal risks for young people from Sars-Cov-2. [2]

Why is the UK government going down this route? One answer offered by England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is that it is to ‘protect the mental health of children’. [3] Apparently the argument is that it will reduce infections which in turn – because of rules about students having to isolate – will reduce disruption to education. Currently contacts of students testing positive do not need to isolate so in fact the disruption would be minimal anyway. The argument appears to be that it is worth risking a teenage boy’s life to prevent him missing out on two weeks compulsory mass schooling.

There are two possible explanations for this criminality. 1) It is a sheer lie – they are looking for an excuse and these days ‘protecting mental health’ is a good catch-all excuse for extending any kind of surveillance and discipline system. 2) They really believe it. In which case it shows the extent of the delusional reification in these people’s minds. They really believe that compulsory mass schooling is something essential to life and that missing out on it is a real harm. This is the delusion propagated by those who are addicted to mass schooling. Of course most of humanity for most of history and even today a large part of humanity get through life quite happily without the benefits of mass compulsory schooling provided by the state.

In either case the need to market surplus vaccines at taxpayer expense is too good an opportunity to pass by one imagines. Also – one suspects that the real ‘medical’ reason is to protect unvaccinated adults from being infected by children. And perhaps to prevent a pool of transmission between young people in which vaccine-defeating variants could emerge. But this means a bridge has been crossed; children are to be ‘offered’ (by teachers, and overriding family rights) a potentially dangerous medical intervention in order to protect not them – but the adults around them. Rather than have the debate about whether this is ethically acceptable the approach has been to invent reasons why it is in children’s interests to be vaccinated. Damage to their mental health is one example. “Long-Covid in children” is another. People who are experienced in watching the mass media will have noticed how once the adult population had been vaccinated and they were ready to move on to children a series of ‘long-Covid in children’ scare stories were placed in the media. The aim was to soften people up for accepting child vaccination. (An analogy would be media scare stories about WMD which were used to soften people up for the murderous and illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Another analogy would be the stories about women’s rights in Afghanistan which were used to justify the invasion of that country and are now being used to undermine the new rulers). This is how the media is used to manage popular opinion in our ‘democracy’. Far from facilitating reasoned and scientifically informed debate the media acts to manipulate public opinion. Rather than have a real debate about the ethics of vaccinating children to protect adults the solution has been to generate a (scientifically dubious if not fraudulent) narrative that this is about protecting children.

A small footnote; why does the liberal media allow state bureaucrats and ministers to endlessly repeat the not true statement “the vaccine is safe”. The various vaccines (not ‘the vaccine’) have different risk profiles and benefits. The risks are statistically speaking quite low but not negligible. Surely it is precisely this obvious lying which gives rise to the foolishness of ‘anti-vaxxers’. These people often have a very rudimentary grasp of the science – but they can tell when they are being given a straight lie. It is these lies, “the vaccine is safe”, which give rise to the folk response of the anti-vaxxers. Why don’t the authorities just tell the scientific truth: the vaccines in use in the UK have good efficacy (especially Pfizer) but (in varying degrees and for different groups) do carry a very small risk of serious side-effects? I think that people can process this. Why do the authorities compulsively lie on this point? I think the answer is probably that to achieve the greatest possible mass take-up of the vaccine the most effective approach is to tell this lie, to rely on the fact that most people will do what the authorities tell them to do without reasoning about it independently – especially if you can scare them about something. The folk kick-back from the anti-vaxxers is an acceptable price to pay. Again though – this is not a democracy of independent thinkers but a kind of unscientific quasi-fascist mass state controlled though the media.

Maybe ‘democracy’ and mass society don’t go together? Democracy, in the sense of individuals thinking matters through and then agreeing with others after debate (by consensus or by voting) on the best course of action is simply not something for the masses? A key question; is this because a) the mass of people can’t do this; society is always composed of a few strong trees – but most people are little saplings whose instinct is just to find the nearest strong tree to gather around, and don’t in fact want to think about anything or b) mass democracy is possible but has been subverted by the rich and powerful? An absolutely key question. All I can say at this point is that it is observable that in the ‘liberal democracies’ of the West there is a gap between the self-description of the society (“we are based on reason, science and democracy”) and the reality (quasi-fascism, non-science and mass-manipulation).



Someone has to pay

Most of the media comment on this website is critical of the Western media – mostly UK liberal media.

It should give me pleasure to do a post which extols the Western media. Obviously, given the subject matter it doesn’t. Nonetheless this is an example of good journalism and the role that real journalism can play in a ‘free society’.

It would appear very likely that the last act of the US occupation of Afghanistan was to massacre an entire family on the mistaken assumption that they were ISIS. There is a pattern to this. If terrorists hit the US the US responds basically on the basis that “someone has to die”. It doesn’t really seem to matter who. Indeed this episode is a kind of microcosm of the whole “war on terror” – a process in which hundreds of thousands of mostly entirely innocent people have died to avenge the strikes on the US in 2001.

Weekly media roundup 7-9-21

Narrative problems

The narrative in the Guardian about Russia and democracy is that there isn’t any. Putin fixes the elections and it is in effect a ‘regime’ or even dictatorship.

So the journalist writing this story about election sabotage in St. Petersburg has a problem. The story is that in a bid to sabotage a liberal party (‘Apple’) candidate in municipal elections two rival candidates have registered with the same name.

The Guardian writes: “‘Double’ candidates regularly pop up during Russia’s election cycles, which can be surprisingly cut-throat despite the expectation that the ruling United Russia party will maintain a majority in the Duma”

Here the journalist is fighting against his own narrative. On the one hand if the elections are always rigged in favour of United Russia so that they are a foregone conclusion why would it be necessary to resort to such tricks and foul-play? He tries to balance the two narratives: ” surprisingly cut-throat”. His problem of course is that if they are “cut-throat” then the results can’t be a foregone conclusion. (A small point; the elections in question are municipal elections – not State Duma elections; maybe these former are more ‘cut-throat’).

On this particular story as is usual in stories about Russia written by their staff based in Moscow the journalist has not attempted to ‘balance’ the story by obtaining a quote from the authorities – something which they almost invariably do on stories critical of the UK government. Had he obtained that quote he could have noted that the Central Election Commission in Russia has said that after the elections they will try to get legislation passed to prevent this happening again. [1] One can of course take this statement with a pinch of salt. On the other hand UK officials will often make promises in the heat of the media moment which are subsequently quietly dropped. There is no real journalistic reason to not include the ‘balancing’ quote from the relevant authorities. I don’t know why Guardian journalists suspend their normal rules on how to construct articles when it comes to Russia. Possibly because they know that their job is to write regime change propaganda.