Monday, 28 June 2010

Politics and Football

Well seeing as how England has been kicked out of the world cup after a fairly miserable showing (I personally blame the government) I thought it would be interesting to take a look at a couple of BBC four documentaries about the political role of football and sport in general.

The First is Football and Fascism, it details how the three Fascist regimes of Mussolini, Hitler and Franco built and manipulate football leagues and teams in order to win national prestige, gain physical propaganda for they ideology and manufacture the consent of their populations. If your familiar with the brad and circuses theory of Social control you'll probably recognise a lot of the themes in both these documentaries.

The second one is the sequel or follow up entitled Football and Communism which I sadly can't find video clips of but both are available online* anyway. It follows the same formula as the first except obviously its about three Warsaw Pact nations, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic and of course the Soviet Union. Highlights include anecdotes how even prison guards were guilty of hero worshipping the star players whom they were responsible for. And a very interesting and unorthodox theory as to the origins of the Hungary uprisings in 1956.

Anyway the reason why I feel these documentaries are important to watch is mainly because I feel a lot of people seem to give sport a free pass. When ever question time has a discussing about a sports boycott or something in the same vein I guarantee you there'll be some fellow who say words to the effect of "lets keep politics out of sport" well I'm sorry but you just can't, especially not when its at the national level. Those documentaries are quite clearly at the extreme end of the spectrum of sport manipulation I grant you but the idea of manipulating professional sport to suit ulterior means is far from a unique or an exclusively dictatorial practice.
When cricketers like the Ironically named Geoffrey Boycott broke the cricketing boycott of South Africa it wasn't a statement about keeping the pure simplicity of the game intact (though that may well have been there intention) it was giving legitimacy to a quite brutal regime that was constantly trying to prove it was not globally reviled and isolated.

* cough cough
Photo source

Saturday, 26 June 2010


Just got back from London so I'm a bit tired and lethargic blogging wise. But I thought some of you ot there might enjoy this music video by Aniboom.

The musics pretty sweet (as in the feeling not the qualitative label) and the animation is pretty good. Plus a quick glance at the comments shows that theres a lot of deep themes touched on there that you can think about/bicker over for a bit if you feel like it.

Anyway enjoy it.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Miami Vice

Its been found that the Miami 5 (called the Cuban 5 in America)is the name given to Five Cuban intelligence operatives (spies) who were arrested while on assignment gathering intelligence on Cuban-American (Traitors) Counter Revolutionary groups in Miami Florida where much of the Cuban-American population is located in 98, have yet again been the victims of the unjust and hypocritical US governments attitude where the Caribbean Island nation is concerned.

It has now been proven that the smear campaign against the 5 during there intial trial in Miami which normally necessatates a change of venue to prevent contamination of judgement was partly funded by Uncle Sam as the real news video below shows.

More on this development can be found here.

The arrests and trials take place in the context of still very fragile and hostile relationship between Washington and Havana even after the Cuban missile crisis was resolved decades ago and the end of the Cold War meaning that any military threat to the US the island could pose is now non-existent.

Despite this the US still feels the need to squeeze the Revolutionary Isle till its pips squeak. And since the trade embargo's have yet to yield the desired results the impatient Miami Cubans, the bastard offspring of Batista have often taken it upon themselves (with generous funding and training from the Yankees of course) to try to force the issue on a number of occasions. Many of these groups maintain militia's ala Alpha 66 or have carried out a number terrorist activities in Cuba the king of which has to be Senor Luis Posada Carriles and his bombing of a Cubana airplane in 1976 in Venezuela killing 73. Incidentally Senor Carriles is still wanted in Venezuela after he escaped from prison there in 82 but the US where he currently resides refuses to extradite him citing fears that he "won't receive a fair trial".

What makes the whole situation so gruelling is that Cuba is on the list of "state sponsers of terrorism" when it hasn't supplied and military assistance to anyone in over 20 years. unless there referring to Cuba sending teachers and especially doctors around the Third world. Meanwhile Senor Carriles and his ilk are free to soak up the sun in Florida while they plant more bombs in hotels and on planes. oh well I guess its true what they say "One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter".

Mr Wilkerson a Republican and Chief of Staff under Colin Powell has taken an interest in the case and Cuba in general. Despite his political card I've found him to be a fair and even handed man who makes some very good points. Here is both parts of his interview on Cuba for the Real News.

Photo Source
Petition calling for Carriles arrest.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Hamas speaks

With the world media still closely linked to Israel and its blockade of Gaza and a lot of the Pro-Israeli camps argument centring on the implacability of Hamas as a means of justifying the whole blockade and pretty much every repressive measure the IDF wishes to make, I thought it be interesting to take a look at this interview by the Real News network with an Hamas spokesmen so we can see for ourselves the nature of this beast.

Its in three parts:

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Trolls under the cyber bridge

Anyone whose been on the internet for more then an hour and deigned to communicate with another human being will know the sentiments of the song quite well I'll bet. I discovered this song a couple of days ago and its been stuck in my head ever since, if that ain't a good sign I don't know what is.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Cuito Cuanavale and the triumph of third world solidarity

My last post reminded me of the importance of the Cuban victory against South African forces in Angola in the late 80's in and around the town of Cuito Cuanavale. Its a shame that when the issues of the Cold war in Africa or colonialism or even Apartheid itself are brought up that this event is overlooked. To me its a bit like discussing the Cuban Revolution while overlooking the role of the city of Santiago de Cuba you know the one were Fidel declared the victory of the Cuban revolution after Batista fled.

So perhaps a brief bit of background is in order. Angola a former Portuguese Colony had been suffering under a three way civil war (which officially ended in 2002) between the Communist Popular Movement For the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) which was the governing faction that controlled much of the country and had amongst its allies the the USSR, Mozambique and most importantly Cuba who had been invited into the country in 1975 to guard against previous South African vrntures into the countries southern territory. And there main enemies the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) Who were backed by the US and Apartheid South Africa, yeah a black African organisation that purports to be about the liberation of Africa took money and arms from the last white colonial remnant. On a personal note I once met a man who had spent time in Angola during the civil war running a charity school. He left after UNITA troops burned it to the ground along with all other education centres in the area. There was a third faction the National Liberation Front of Angola who were backed by the Peoples Republic of China(this was from the period were the Maoists lead by China and the Marxist-Leninists lead by the Soviet Union spent as much time fighting each other as the Imperialists lead by the US)but they don't really factor in to the battle of Cuito Cuanavale so I was just naming them for the sake of completion.

Anyway the MPLA was the beneficiary of a Soviet and Cuban solidarity mission both economic and military. However UNITA was based primarily in the South of Angola near the Namibian border where they were getting much of there support from South Africa, the South Africans had been illegally occupying Namibia since 1966. The MPLA as often happens in civil wars had been mounting several attempts to reclaim the South and defeat UNITA once and for all. One of these pushes happened in 87, however South Africa was becoming increasingly worried about the Angolan situation as the resistance groups in Namibia had been mounting a guerilla campaign that was becoming increasingly problematic for South Africa. It was hoped that by intervening directly in Angola they could put UNITA in power there by cutting off support for the Namibian and South African groups and confirm their belief in white superiority by showing a military victory against another African nation and bringing peace and stability to it something the native population had failed to do.

So the South African Defence Force (SADF) mounted an invasion in September 87 that broke most of the MPLA forces in and around the Lomba river where they had been attempting to crush the UNITA, the battles for the Lomba river proved to be early successes for SADF as the severe losses not only forced the MPLA to withdraw back to there main base in south the town of Cuito Cuanavale and convinced the Soviet Union to withdraw its military advisers from Angola effectively abandoning it. Remember that fact, the Soviets left.

Anyway SADF began besieging the town and it looked like once it fell SADF and UNITA would be free to continue there advance. For Angola this was a very serious threat. Castro decided that Cuba instead of following the Soviets into flight would honour its commitments to Angola and began deploying its armed forces to counter SADF, Cuban troop levels in Angola as a whole exceeded 50,000, and in the area around Cuito Cuanavale a reaction force was formed the lift the siege.

"The first thing we did was to send to Angola the most experinced pilots in our Air force, to begin aerial actions from the base at Menongue against the South African forces besieging Cuito Cuanavale. Meanwhile we selected and began sending from Cuba the combat units and necessary weapons to meet the situation and foil the enemy plans. The Air force had a certain effect, but it wasn't enough. We had to fly in a group of advisers, officers and Cadres to Cuito Cuanavale, plus artillerymen, tank crews, and operators of arms and equipment. About 200 in All were sent in to provide support for the Angolans, chiefly technical and advisory support. But that Wasn't enough, and by land we had to send tank, artillery, and armoured infantry units 200 kilometres away. We had to safe Cuito Cuanavale and prevent the enemy from wiping out Angolan forces and capturing the town, which was becoming a symbol of resistence and of the success or failure of South Africa". Fidel Castro, Speech As long as the Empire exists we will never lower are guard on December 5th 1988 Havana, Taken from In Defense of Socialism by pathfinder Press

The Cuban forces were able to successfully repel SADF with minimal loses (both South Africa and Cuba lost around 30 men) on their side driving them back across the border continually scaling back there operations until there only units still engaged were there long range artillery batteries operating on the other side of the Namibian border, and forcing them to sign the Tripartite Accords granting Namibian independence and denying them a base to easily intervene in Angola and setting Apartheid firmly on its course to dissolution as it effectively demonstrated that the Apartheid regime was not militarily unstoppable and showed the white superiority myth the backbone of the regime to be rather hollow.

What I feel makes the Cuban commitment to Angola so worthy of admiration is the international circumstances that they occurred. At the time the Soviet Union and America were in the process of signing a number of conciliation gestures that the conflict in Angola would threaten. They also occurred when the US was keen to fund and support Right wing movements in Latin America such as the Contra's in Nicaragua
and the Salvadoran military Junta. They also had to fill the void of the Soviet Union as well as supply there previous commitments to prevent a flanking manoeuvre this was quite a tall order for a small Caribbean nation.

Spanish language report of the battle.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The aftermath

It may be al ittle late to be posting a follow up to this, but despite the usual breakneck speed of international politics it is still in most cases better to let the dust settle a bit before comment after all the dust might not settle for a long time especially in the middle east.

Anyway despite being the biggest Publicity fuck up by an Apartheid regime since South Africas humiliating military defeat in the town Cuito Cuanavale in Angola in 87/88 by filthy inferior black skinned Angolans, and there filthy degenerate commie allies the Cubans.

Despite this there were still many in the media both here in the UK and more importantly in the US.

Some frankly baffling attempts to justify the raid.

This one is a classic example of why I really hate about American politicians,the whole "democracy is good, but woe betide thee who votes against are interests", thing is probably the root of the problem of why the US has such a terrible reputation around the world it makes them seem highly hypocritical and overtly self serving.

Anyway what of the responses by Turkey and Israel? well according to the Morning Star Israels Netanyahu despite his strong militarist rhetoric has been forced into a bit of a climbdown and has allowed some humanitarian aid mostly food including crisps and get this confectionery "Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh, who co-ordinates the flow of goods into Gaza with Israel, said that fizzy drinks, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, crisps, biscuits and confectionery were now permitted". So they can't rebuild there shattered homes and treat there wounded but they can eat cake? this is the definition of bad comedy.

Thankfully Turkey unlike the impotent governments of the US and UK hasn't let its economic and military links with Israel get in the way of defending its citzens and has continued pressuring Israel and the world community "Head of the foreign relations committee in the Turkish parliament Murat Mercan said that Israel's gesture was insufficient...."To live like humans, these people need food, medicine, construction material. The children need pens and notebooks."Even if they lift the blockade on all food items, it would still not be satisfactory in any way," he said.

The Turkish PM also gave out his opinion for fun compare this statement to any western pm or president or rather don't in case of the onset of depression.""Are we going to remain silent over the murder of nine people? We can't turn a blind eye to this banditry in international waters," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told delegates.

Still as tragic as those nine deaths and dozens of injuries were it has at least shown the lie of the Zionist lobby in the west and maybe just maybe will have brought this destructive blockade and the abominable treatment of the Palestinians a little closer to its end.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

It hurts...

Sorry that its been a bit quiet here these past couple of days; I was busy moving to a new house, so you should probably count yourselves lucky this place was dead for just nine days Kit from the Polemical reports hasn't finished moving his stuff yet and he started it months ago.

And I haven't really done much of consequence besides lift boxes, nor as anything in the news really irked me to the point of ranting. I did have time to watch a movie though and as I'm sure you can tell by that image of the films poster and that poor attempt at a joke in the title which film it was.

Unfortunately overall I was quite underwhelmed by this movie and so was very surprised to learn that it practically mopped the floor with the competition critically I mean damn 98% and six BAFTA's? etc.

Anyway I should probably clear something up straight away before I get into the actual film, I'm not going to be looking at this film from a Socialist perspective or any political perspective, nor am I going to comment on Imperialism or the actual Iraq Invasion all that much and its for a very good reason; that being that this film has absolutely nothing to say politically or even topically if it weren't for the desert motive and the Baghdad captions this could have been any conflict zone imaginable. Though it does at least touch on the psychological aspects of conflict and the tension that lie beneath the surface of any unit or team faced with extreme pressure so credit is due there I guess.

Anyway the film starts of with a literal bang as an Mobile phone detonated IED takes out are veteran bomb disposal team leader to both establish tension and set the scene for new boy and main character sergeant James to take over. And thats about it for the main plot, I actually like this part as I found quite refreshing, I was getting pretty sick of the fish out of water takes down the General Blood of the Evilanian a week out of basic training. However it does mean the film meanders a bit for the two hour run time. Thats really the main problem I have with this film and why I don't outright hate or like this film, because to me it didn't seem like the film actually knew were it was going or what type of war movie it was going to be, early on it looked like a very good demonstration of the 90% boredom 10% frightening excitement that is fairly close to the experiences of actual soldiers, a good example of this being the scene were they meet Liam Neeson and co out in the desert with the flat tire.

But then towards the end it seemed to veer of into the dumb macho-man direct to DVD action film territory as we not only have a child being murdered but also wired up to explode. In a film that has something to say about well anything a scene like this might have served as a strong condemning scene on the depths of human brutality or some other intellectual message.

But here its more like the launching pad for James descent into stupidity. James literally runs off the base to hunt down the child killer (the child in question happened to be a sort of friend to James)in a hoodie breaks in to random mans house only to be chased out by his wife and them nearly get shot when he returns to base. It then gets alot worse after being called out to the site of a potential suicide bombing involving a oil tanker decides on nothing more then a hunch that the attack was remote detonated (he has absolutley no evidence of this) decides to take the two men under his command off on a "haji hunt" despite the fact that on the scene are three platoons plus support units how do I know this? one of the men (Sanborn, hes sceptical about James abilities, follows the rules and Black) actually points this out to Sergeant James and is promptly overruled, hell they don't even bother to radio in that there leaving the scene so if trouble does occur which seems likely given the fact that their the main characters help will be several minutes away which could prove fatal.

I'm going to have a brief aside here to talk about the actual Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. You know what the main reason why Western deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are so low compared to their enemies? well it isn't that we have better training or equipment (they certainly help but there not the main reason) its because western armies have almost perfected the ability to respond to and support units in the field once they come under fire. This is why very brief hit and run tactics even wghen insurgent forces seem strong enough to overwhelm the initial force and IED's are so popular, they pretty negate the Wests main strength.

As previoulsy stated the film was fairly good on the realism aspect (as far as a film can be anyway , there'll never be a truly realistic war movie as that would be incredibly boring to watch) so to see it go from that to that scene from Star wars a new hope were Han Solo and Chewie chase those storm troopers around the death star in under ten minutes was a bit of a shock. I mean yes they did show Sergeant James rack up a few infractions before hand (removing his headset, deploying smoke for no reason) and while real military those would have been punished severely for the sake of establishing character traits (that of the balls of steel maverick) I was willing to let it go after all what real American hero plays by the rules? but even by action movie standards this is insane and stupid. They get to an area where there is three potential exits down three seperate very tight alleyways and theres only three of them of dear so of course they decide to still not inform command of what there doing and instead split up and each take a dark narrow ally on there own.

Of course realism kicks back in for a few minutes as one of the guys (that other guy Eldridge, whose going through some emotional issues and gives the film the most of the little substance it has)gets jumped and in the rescue actually gets crippled by Sergeant James in a friendly fire incident. And since this whole mad mission was done by Sergeant James over the objections of Sanborn and was not only a dereliction of his units operational orders but also the mission they were originally assigned potentially endangering those three platoons, but also got one of his men hospitalised from a friendly fire incident no less, couple this with his going AWOL to harass the local population and its no surprise that no punitive actions are taken by the Company CO or any Officer or disciplinary body. Still at least we get Eldridge calling James out on his bullshit as he gets airlifted out of there, I was actually afraid he would forgive the Sergeant for his criminal stupidity.

Its time for another little aside I think, this time about action and war movies in general, its a common theme to have the heroes violate there orders or go rogue in order to defeat the villains and say the day. usually we'll get one of those fake out scenes at the end were the hero gets chewed out by their superiors only for them to then give them a medal and drop all charges. Many films do this I've lost count of the times this happened in Star Trek In reality this couldn't be further from the truth, violating orders is and will often be punished regardless of the results of your actions, this is because heroic or not ALL armies are built on the chain of command or they cannot function, this why groups like Castro's July 26th movement was successful despite there material short comings, and any example of this not being the case regardless of the results is a direct threat to the chain of command and thus the whole structure of the armed forces. Now a successful violation of orders that ends up saving the day in real life may... may cause them to tone down there punishment but sometimes not even then as many a British sqauddie found out in World War One.

What really makes this really stupid is that Sergeant James wasn't successful it was a complete cock up and yet there was no real consequence to his actions. Anyway the film wraps up shortly after they meet a suicide bomber, okay a remorseful suicide bomber who wants the bomb to be disarmed so James marches out to save him not to redeem himself in the eyes of the men apparently they didn't mind either, its just to remind us hes a good guy. He fails miserably and then goes home the next day.The End.

So there we go another mediocre film that somehow raked in the trophies. I know I seem quite critical about this film but I don't really hate it in fact I thought the first half was very good it was full of subtlety, as realistic as Hollywood will probably ever get and a somewhat interesting psychological subplot with Eldridge. Its really the second half and its ludicrous set pieces and stupidity that drags it down for me.

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