Mar 242012
 

With thanks to Dave Watt.

 

In 1975, as part of a programme to increase the Jewish population in the Galilee (the Judaization of the Gaililee), the Israeli government announced plans to expropriate 20,103 dunams (about 5000 acres) of Palestinian land to make way for twenty new Jewish settlements. In reaction to this, and years of such expropriations, the Palestinian community established a Committee for the Defence of Arab Land.

On March 30th 1976, they called a general strike and mass protest to demonstrate the government’s plans. The excessive force used by Israeli forces against the protests saw 6 Palestinians shot dead and hundreds injured.

Land Day has since come to symbolise Palestinian resistance to Israel’s racist policies and has been commemorated by Palestinians every year since, with thousands of activists taking part in actions around the world to show their solidarity (this year will see the Global March to Jerusalem take place on March 30th).

Aberdeen SPSC invite you to join us on Thursday, March 29th to find out more about Land Day and the land legislation and policies used by the Israeli government to force Palestinians within Israel from their land. A short presentation will be followed by a screening of the film Lemon Tree, which tells the story of a Palestinian woman whose livelihood (her lemon grove) is threatened when the Israeli Defence Minister moves into the house next door.

Lemon Tree Screening and Presentation – 
7.30-9.30pm,
March 29th,
Room 051 MacRobert Building,
Aberdeen University (all welcome)
Feb 232012
 

Aberdeen Against Austerity, a group campaigning against the £140m redevelopment of the historic Union Terrace Gardens, has released the following statement in response to the P&J article headlined, “Police probe attacks on city garden team” of 21 February 2012. The statement is published verbatim as received by Voice with only minor graphical changes made to AAA’s release to comply with Voice’s house style.

These allegations by Mr Smith and as yet unnamed others are strong indeed – e-mail hacking, online bullying and harassment and personal threats are all criminal offences.
We at Aberdeen Against Austerity are not responsible for any of the alleged offences and do not believe any of our fellow Retain Union Terrace Gardens campaigners would stoop so low either.

We are opposed to unlawful tactics being employed by anyone in this important debate over the future of our city, as dirty tricks cheapen both sides’ arguments. However, we worry that the sensational coverage of these criminal allegations in the Press & Journal and Evening Express will serve as a deterrent to ordinary people speaking out, who oppose the City Gardens Development.

The referendum campaign is being fought on a far from level playing field. Six of the seven groups registered against the development are comprised of ordinary citizens (the 7th being the group of Labour City Councillors). By registering as campaign groups we have all been bound by the referendum rules, which allow a maximum spend of £8,524.45, although most groups have no budget at all.

Of the pro-development campaign groups, only three are registered, allowing the vast majority of campaigning to be done outwith the rules, and at huge expense, by PR company The BIG Partnership on behalf of those who propose the City Garden Project. Their Vote for the City Garden campaign has so far included 4-page flyers and newspaper-style brochures to every house in the city, constant radio advertising on all the local stations, a Facebook page manned by full time staff and daily coverage in the local newspapers.

As with any modern debate, much campaigning is being done online and this is where Mr Smith alleges bullying is taking place. Both sides are being equally forthright in their postings on social media, but Aberdeen Against Austerity are certainly not interpreting the strong wording of some of our opponents as bullying or harassment.

We have chosen to rise above any personal slurs and engage in debate based upon facts and we can still have a wee smile at those posts which satirise us and our efforts, because as Aberdonians we retain a sense of humour.

Aberdeen Against Austerity wonders if Sir Ian Wood, who has donated £50m of his own money to the controversial City Gardens Project, will be reporting local comedians Flying Pig Productions to the police for this week’s P&J column The Butter-Fingered Philanthropist.

Dec 092011
 

Students have opted to end their nine day occupation of Aberdeen University offices. With thanks to Aberdeen Defend Education Campaign.

Around 50 students occupied Aberdeen University offices on Regent walk from Monday 28th November in protest against education cuts.
The aim of the protest, organised through Aberdeen Defend Education Campaign, was to demand that university management resist cuts to staff jobs, to decline any bonus offers, and to make a stand against the Government’s economic policies.

Aberdeen Defend Education Campaign issued the following statement:

“We have taken the decision to end our occupation of the University Offices on Regent Walk, and we do so in good spirits and having achieved a lot.

“Over and above the concrete concessions we have been given by management, the occupied space served as a venue for people to genuinely challenge the direction of Higher Education at a much more fundamental level. Through dozens of lectures, talks and workshops we have aimed to foster a culture of debate and critical thought. As well as this, we have also firmly put issues such as pensions, college funding and bonuses on the agenda and the importance of this shouldn’t be understated.

“Management have committed to raising concerns around reforms to the USS pension scheme. They have also committed to breaking down the culture of secrecy and unaccountability around bonuses and senior staff remuneration. Lastly, they have made clear their belief that the state should be and should remain the primary funder of education and that the enormous cuts we have seen to colleges have been unfair.

“We are clear that there is still much to be done, but the concessions we have gained from management and the bridges we have built with staff and trade unions put us in an excellent position to continue this fight in the new term.“

Oct 282011
 

In our final extract from Suzanne Kelly’s interview with former RGU Principal Dr David Kennedy, he describes how the community came together, in the face of serious local business opposition, to help RGIT achieve university status in 1992, how that community spirit inspired him to raise his voice against the Menie development, and how he still gets a buzz from teaching and seeing its benefits.

“At least one good thing came out of Trump”, David Kennedy is convinced, “Community spirit”.

“Twenty years ago the Government had a policy to make polytechnics into universities. Here in Scotland they decided there would be two new universities, not very good ones I may say, one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow. These two institutions, which previously had been local authority colleges, became centrally-funded in 1985, thus enhancing their status.

“Then in 1988, Napier in Edinburgh called itself a polytechnic, followed a couple of years later by Glasgow College who renamed itself Glasgow Polytechnic.

“The older technological institutions in Aberdeen, Dundee and Paisley still retained their old names, that is, they had not called themselves polytechnics, even though they were wholly polytechnic in educational status and character, and were longstanding members of the UK committee of polytechnics. My fellow principals simply assumed that their institutions would be included in the forthcoming legislation.

“Being a suspicious person, I phoned the Scottish Office and asked if it were right that all were going to become universities, or only the titular polytechnics? The Scottish Office spokesman confirmed that only the polytechnics would become universities. I mounted a massive campaign. RGIT, with its long and proud record in higher education, had produced several times more graduates and PhD students than Edinburgh and Glasgow put together.

“Behind the scenes, Ian Wood had played a significant part in the formulation of Government policy.

“Wood was from an old fishing family. When the offshore oil industry started in Aberdeen, there were many opportunities, and several fishing companies decided they would go into the supply vessel and stand-by vessel business. Wood was quite entrepreneurial and in the right place at the right time.

“In 1986 there was a massive drop in the price of oil, and many companies just went belly up. Ian Wood had good financial backing and mopped up a number of firms going into liquidation during that massive downturn. He was the man who persuaded the Government that Aberdeen needed a world-class university and thus didn’t want RGU to become a university.

“The irony is that the current RGU chancellor is Ian Wood, the man who did his utmost to prevent RGU becoming a reality. The people of the North East supported me in my hour of need and I wanted to return the favour and support the people of Menie Estate.”

Dr Kennedy’s strict values have not always been popularly received, however. He describes a time in his own professional life where he had to survive criticism.

“In 1992, the Queen said it was her annus horribilis. The following year was mine. Practically every day the local papers had me as the controversial man. As a result of that I have never read The Press & Journal or Evening Express since. Alan Scott who is just retiring is a good friend, but they had Derek Tucker back then. When I first came to Aberdeen, Peter Watson was the editor and he was a gentleman.

“The standards in the press have gone down, as we’ve seen. I was a victim of it all in 1993. I was eventually vindicated in the courts, but as the old saying goes – ‘if you throw enough mud some will eventually stick’. I was blacklisted by officialdom.

On the subject of his own fulfilment, Dr Kennedy returns to education, his own profession for which a passion still burns 

“As it turns out, I do a lot of voluntary teaching and I am a befriender. I currently have about ten students, adults who missed out at school in English and numeracy. I suppose in a way I am a born teacher and I fulfil myself by teaching others who are in need.

“There is satisfaction in helping other people. We must be hot-wired for it, for a cooperative nature. It is infectious. It is more fulfilling than materialistic fulfilment. When I see people understanding things for the first time, that is a terrific kick for me.”

Voice, and Suzanne in particular, are grateful to Dr Kennedy for giving his time to talk with such passion and conviction about what continues to frustrate him, drive him and sustain his zest for improving the lives of others. We can be sure that this is not the last we have heard of him and wish him success in seeking a publisher for his book. It is certain to be of huge interest to all in the NE who have had their lives touched by his life in education and the community.

Sep 012011
 

By Jonathan Hamilton Russell.

In June of this year I  wrote an article on the situation in Libya called ‘Libya another Brutal Conflict’.
In it I suggested a way forward would have been via negotiations, which would include the expectation for fair elections run by the United Nations, the withdrawal of NATO and the use of UN peacekeepers.

Qaddafi would have been forced to face his opposition but in a non-bloody way. Only if such negotiations failed would military action be considered.

The mantra regarding the war on Iraq was ‘weapons of mass destruction’; this proved to be a lie. The mantra in relation t oLibya has been ‘the defence of innocent civilians’. This, as the conflict has escalated, has proved clearly not to be the real objective. Investigations by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and a UN commission headed by the legal scholar Cheri Bassioni found there was no evidence of the atrocity stories which were given as the reasons for NATO action.

Yet this was not listened to by our politicians and was not widely reported by the media. What has clearly happened is a mission of regime change which went far beyond the UN mandate. Such developments were opposed by the US Congress and never properly debated in our own Parliament.

Rather than protecting civilians, NATO weapons have inevitably killed them.

Their targets increasingly widened from attacking tanks that were moving towards Benghazi, to attacking all Libyan Military installations, to attacking any building that was seen as supporting the Gaddafi administration.

Inevitably there were civilian casualties. On the day of the rebel attack on Tripoli, more bombs were dropped than on any other day in NATO’s history. The rebels were also being supported and trained by troops from NATO countries, and as evidenced by the Sunday Times, some were Libyan exiles living in the UK. This has led to an even more bitter war between the ‘rebels and Kaddafi loyalists with disastrous human consequences.

The hospitals are not coping and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are reporting human rights violations on all sides. Human Rights Watch consider that the evidence suggests that the old governments Khamis Brigade killed 45 detainees. The horrors of what happened to Kaddafi troops and the disappearance of all the medical staff at Abu- Salim hospital is just unfolding as are other atrocities, but these are only the most heavily reported incidents.

We never seem to learn the lesson of the horrors that war can bring.

Richard Seymour in the Guardian reported on Peter Bouckaert from Human Rights Watch findings that he had not identified one mercenary among scores of men being arrested and falsely labelled as such by journalists. Many Libyans are black but have been labelled as black mercenaries from Africa and led to racist incidents.

Qaddafi’s regime became increasingly oppressive over time

On top of this, much of the country’s infra-structure has been destroyed. The Libyan Transitional Council estimate it will take ten years to repair the damage done to the country’s infrastructure.

So what is the future for Libya? It is almost certain that Qaddafi will be eventually defeated, but how long that takes and at what continuing human cost is still to be seen. Worryingly, anyone supporting Qaddafi will not be seen as a civilian but as a supporter of a mad and dangerous dictator. The rebels are not a united force. The National Transitional Council has been recognised by over 40 foreign states; however, has it been recognised by the militias on the ground?

Abul Fatah Younes, the leader of the  Rebel army, was murdered by one of the Islamic militias and this in turn led to the sacking of the whole cabinet by Musta Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Government.

Will this Government be able to rule or will fighting continue between the various factions, in particular those aligned to a more Islamic agenda and those not? These groupings are now highly armed and as our policies did in Afghanistan, they could easily come back to bite western interests. Atiyha Abdl al Rahman, the deputy leader of Al-Qaida who was killed by US drones in Pakistan, was Libyan.

Qaddafi’s regime became increasingly oppressive over time. In his early years as a revolutionary leader, he was involved in pulling down prisons.  Being active himself over the years led to the atrocities that more recently took place of Islamists in Libyan prisons. Hopefully human rights will improve, but that has yet to be seen, and Libya was far from being the only country which has tortured and killed the more extreme Islamists.

Any new government will still have to find ways of dealing with Islamic groups and could end up being equally oppressive.

The Qaddafi regime was oppressive to its enemies, they did however have the highest social indicators in the Third World with better housing, health care and standards of living than in other Middle East and third world countries. As with Iraq these social strengths and the resulting effects on the countries well-being are sure to decline particularly if conflict continues.

Libya was not a country in debt, but it is now, and like us it will have to become beholden to the banks for money borrowed to rebuild the country. Who will own the huge reserves held in foreign banks which were there in part to deal with Libya’s future when the oil stocks have gone?

This has caused considerable indignation on the African continent.

Libya has historically produced 1.5 to 2 million barrels of oil a day. Qaddafi was hated by the west for nationalising Libyan oil and though he has more recently been co-operating with Western firms he has still been directing considerable investment into the economy and saving for its future.

Any new government will, unless clearly Islamic, be beholden to the West, and as such oil is almost certain to be obtained by the West more cheaply; the cost of oil on the markets has already gone down. Libya will also likely have military NATO bases for any future developments in the Middle East.

The poorer Libyans will, I suspect, be those who will be the most badly affected but others will gain and disparities in wealth will increase to the overall detriment of the country. Hopefully human rights will improve, but that has yet to be seen. Qaddafi was supportive of women’s involvement in society and was one of the reasons that he opposed so strongly the more extreme tenants of Islam and its supporters in Libya.

The future for women could go either way, but is certain to cause tension in the new Libya.

Qaddafi was instrumental in setting up the African Union and financially supported African infrastructure projects. The West, unless replaced by Chinese interests, will now have greater control over the African continent. However despite for instance South Africa supporting Resolution 1973 which led to intervention in Libya, their and other African countries attempts through the African Union to set up peace talks were knocked back. This has caused considerable indignation on the African continent.

overall spending on wars leads to fewer resources to be spent on other areas

Due to the way that NATO overstepped the UN resolution, there is now reluctance by many countries to do anything in Syria or the other Middle East countries. Damage has been done to International relations and the workings of the United Nations due to NATO’s actions.

Why have we, and why are we continuing to arm dictatorships in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, etc.  which are oppressive to their people? In fact, why are we arming any country? All armaments have the potential for use both between warring countries and on countries own citizens. Yet selling more arms is a key target of the present UK Government.

The selling of arms does lead to profit and work for those involved and money for Government. However overall spending on wars leads to fewer resources to be spent on other areas and in the United Kingdom, France and the United States it will lead to increased cuts in public services which will affect us all, but in particular the more vulnerable people in our society.

The United Nations was set up to try and stop wars between countries. Libya had not invaded another country.

The intervention was, however, based around the doctrine of  ‘the responsibility to protect’ following The Rwandan genocide. The way NATO has acted by clearly taking sides in Libya has brought this doctrine into disrespect. The press in the UK have in the main been heralding the success of the Libyan intervention, but if you dig deeper this can only be questioned.

The United Nations needs itself to have increased power to stop the manipulation that has clearly taken place around the Libyan conflict.

So what can we do?

  • We can protest. Stop the War and CND are holding an anti-war rally on October 8th to mark 10  years of  military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya. The demonstrations against the Iraq war may not have stopped the war but they did shake the establishment and led in part to the downfall of Tony Blair
  • We can support the United Nations associations to help make this a stronger organisation that gets back to its original basis for existing
  • We can protest against our pension funds being invested in the arms trade as is in the case of Aberdeen City Councils pension fund.
  • Campaign Against the Arms Trade ( CAAT  ) will be holding their yearly demonstration on September 13th in London. ‘ Cut the Arms Trade not public services’. Please see:  Stop the War  or CAAT website.
Jul 222011
 

Paul McDonald reports from the Fox Watch demonstration on Saturday 16th July at Peterculter Golf Club in protest regarding the club’s decision not to ban convicted fox batterer Donald Forbes.

We arrived at approximately 12:30pm and were greeted by a ‘representative’ of the golf club who turned out to be a lawyer.

We were on private land – the whole of the road in the surrounding area apparently belongs to the golf club right up to a fairly distant bridge. At first he had no issues with our presence, although he did request us moving into the car park to stage the protest.

As a compromise, we moved to the car park when press arrived as I assured  him we would continue our protest there, but only after the Press had taken pictures of the protesters next to the Peterculter Golf Club sign.

Conversation with the ‘representative’ – aka the club’s lawyer

In terms of the conversation about what we wanted – I informed him that we wanted:

a) the golf club to ban Donald Forbes and

b) to stop culling foxes (a fact which I was informed of by a source who wishes to remain anonymous). After the rep outright denied there was a fox cull policy in place, he told that me it was the decision of a committee to decide whether or not Forbes would be banned.

I asked to speak to a committee member and was told “nobody from it is present” and that he was ‘just a messenger’ who had nothing to do with decisions. He then asked if I had a petition to hand over.  I replied that I wanted to do it in view of the press. He agreed, and went back inside.

The cavalry turns up

As cars drove into the car park, leaflets detailing the incident involving Donald Forbes clubbing a tame fox to death for taking his biscuit, and the refusal of Peterculter Golf Club to ban him were distributed, with the vast majority of customers being supportive to our campaign. Soon afterwards, a convoy of activists turned up, boosting our number considerably.

Protesters were handed high-vis vests and asked to hold banners with slogans including:

‘Don’t Cull the Cubs’,

‘No Shame in Golf Clubs, Every Shame in Fox Culls’,

‘Killed for Stealing a Biscuit’,

‘Play Golf all Day Long but Killing Foxes is Wrong’.

– Two activists were brave enough to don fox costumes!

 Press and Journal and Evening Express  photographers and reporters arrived. The club’s rep was became uncomfortable and asked we’d go to the car park as people were about to tee off. He reluctantly agreed to allow a few minutes to have photographs taken!

The lack of a true representative

The press wanted a picture of the petition being handed over to the club’s rep, and set up a shot with all of the placard  holding  activists present.  I asked to be photographed handing him a packet of biscuits. The rep refused claiming I was ‘being silly’.

I explained that I was merely proving a point. This fox was killed for no more than a biscuit, and if he found it silly to be handed a packet of biscuits, then surely he also found it equally silly that a fox could be killed over something as trivial as a biscuit.

He did tell me he sympathised with us, but that it was not his decision. I find this hard to believe considering his behaviour and inability to answer as to why Donald Forbes has not been banned. I cannot accept that the committee were not available to discuss the issue. They have avoided my emails, letters and phone calls, and now a personal visit all the way from Liverpool.

They clearly know they are wrong.  They sent out a lawyer to speak to protesters as they can’t deal with the issue themselves. I can safely assume it would be a different story if I was a wealthy customer seeking to become a member.

The petition

Thanks to the valued support of compassionate people, we achieved a total of 297 signatures for the petition ( in less than 3 days!). Handing the petition over was a visibly uncomfortable moment for the club’s rep, who was forced to hold one part of the petition whilst I held the other as the photographs were being taken.

The highlight was undoubtedly when we were asked to look at each other for a photo whilst holding the petition.

The rep simply couldn’t look at me. He let out a nervous laugh when asked but continued looking elsewhere.

The culling issue

When asked by the press, I stated that I wanted to have Donald Forbes banned. How is it that a member can commit an act of animal cruelty on the course, be convicted, and still be welcomed as a member? What message does that send to other members of the club?

Regarding the the cull policy, I was not able to confirm anything with the club beforehand as they refused to comment.

But what conclusion can be drawn when they refuse to answer? What are they hiding?

Interestingly, I was then told that they would only cull foxes if they posed a significant threat to humans. I told the rep I could not think of a situation whereby a fox could actually pose a significant threat to a human.

I have reason to believe they either cull foxes on their land, or allow people on their land freely to shoot foxes, officially or not, and I will be seeking evidence of this from my unnamed source. I told the rep to state in writing that that the club do not endorse a fox cull policy and have provided him with an email address.

The outcome

Before leaving, I told the rep to inform the committee that unless Donald Forbes was banned, there would be more protests. The press asked for Donald Forbes address before leaving in order to obtain a statement from him. Regardless of whether he was approached for a statement, he will certainly know the demo took place.

So far I’ve heard nothing from the club about banning Forbes or about the fox cull policy.

However, I’ll be sure to update here.

This is by no means over – Fox Watch will keep up the pressure to ensure Forbes is rightfully banned from this club.

Image credits:
Fox © Mikhail Blajenov | Dreamstime.com
Little Fox © Nicolaas Weber | Dreamstime.com

Jun 102011
 

By  Jonathan Hamilton Russell.

The situation in Libya is complex and an understanding requires a historical perspective and the realisation that Libya is a tribal society which has many tribal and political interests. Gaddafi when he took power in Libya in 1969, in a bloodless coup, nationalised the oil and took it away from Western Control.

He used the money gained to invest in the social structure, i.e. health, education and social housing in Libya.

Gaddafi became involved in supporting’ Liberation’ wars in Africa and Ireland  and this along with the Lockerbie tragedy led to sanctions and to initial bombings by the US in 1986. Sanctions led to a decline in the wealth of Libya and In the late 90’s Gaddafi changed his policy to the West due to the effects of  these sanctions  and  to his even greater dislike of fundamentalist Islam in the form of Al Qaida and the Taliban. Libya was returned into the international fold and welcomed warmly by our own Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair.

Gaddafi admits that he has carried out human rights violations and torture on his opposition in particular to those linked to Al Qaida, to whom he is strongly opposed and for this he should, like any other abuser of human rights, be prosecuted. Al Qaida has had a strong following in Libya and Libyans were the largest grouping of fighters within Al Qaida in Iraq.

Gaddafi says he got his lead on the use of torture from the United States and if he is to be tried for human rights and war crimes so should lots of other national leaders and all those affiliated to NATO.

Gaddafi was instrumental in setting up the African Union and has helped in the development of infrastructure projects in Africa. According to the United Nations, Libya until the present conflict had the best social indicators in the Third World.  Gaddafi has promoted the equality of women and is opposed to the backward attitude of most of the Arab world in relation to their attitudes towards women. Gaddafi did instigate his own form of democracy very similar to Soviet Style Workers committees and had no formal position as head of state. In reality he has been at the head of the country and has increasingly been concerned about hanging on to power.

Gaddafi is a complex man who has done both good and bad but the media portrayal of an evil dictator is to say the least over simplistic This does not mean that his desire to hold onto power has not led to an over controlling and oppressive state but it does mean that our response to him should be more balanced particularly when you compare Libya to other regimes in the Middle East which are equally repressive but also have greater disparities in wealth. There have been reports of Gaddafi’s troops having been involved with rape in Misrata a common occurrence in war which is barbaric and unacceptable.

The United Nations staff, on the ground in Libya say there is no hard evidence of this. However a spokesperson from the International Court on war crimes say they have evidence that systematic rape is being used by the Gaddaffi regime. This clearly needs further investigation before any firm conclusion can be reached.

Libya is a tribal society and the West of the country has benefited more than the East.

The bombings were aimed at stopping a humanitarian disaster yet where has the outcry been about those supporters of Gaddafi tortured and killed

Gaddafi clearly has his opponents but these are a mixture of Western sympathisers including those who want more democracy and those who follow Al Qaida. The majority of leadership of the Rebels in Banghazi is presently made up of ex Libyan Government ministers who previously had no interest in Western Democracy but are defecting as they see the imminent collapse of the regime.

A significant number of the more experienced of those fighting for the revolution gained their military skills fighting for Al Qaida in Iraq and are to be feared by many of those who support Gaddafi. Getting rid of Gaddafi is not likely to lead to a peaceful democratic Libya but is much more likely to lead to greater internal division and continued violence.

The oil is to be found in the East of the country.

The eastern leaders have already agreed to give oil contracts to the West. The bombings were aimed at stopping a humanitarian disaster yet where has the outcry been about those supporters of Gaddafi tortured and killed, the killings and general plight of African Workers and to the casualties of NATO bombings? Why has Libya been selected for this type of intervention when the evidence is that equally bad oppression is taking place in other Middle Eastern countries.

Libya compared with most countries had only a small army and arms sales to Saudi Arabia  – an equally oppressive state – are far greater. From 2008 until the last quarter of 2010 arms sales to Saudi Arabia from the UK were three times  less than those to Libya.

War is always brutal and people always suffer on all sides, yet it appears to have become the norm to intervene in this way rather than to find ways forward via negotiation. This policy of military intervention has been used to disastrous effect in Iraq, Afghanistan Pakistan and Palestine.

The only beneficiaries of these conflicts are the arms companies burgeoning profits. Ordinary people on the ground pay for war by the murder or mutilation of their loved ones. Why were the attempts by the African Union and Venezuela to act as an intermediary for negotiations in the Libyan conflict so easily turned down?  Nor any other attempts to broker negotiations put in place? Surely all forms of negotiation should have tried before the policy of protecting civilians turned into a  military intervention aimed at regime change at any cost.

The cost of this action and the resulting likely cries for more military spending will lead to even greater cuts in our own social spending

NATO  has moved from a position of ‘protecting civilians’ to regime change and is in effect putting many civilian lives in jeopardy.

This policy has never been sanctioned by our own Parliament and does not fit with the United Nations own charter as Libya has not invaded another country.

Our own Prime Minister, who was caught promoting the sale of arms to Middle East dictators at the beginning of the Middle East uprisings, has with his ally President Sarkozy of France been the main instigators of this military Intervention in Libya and have in many ways replaced Bush and Blair as the main instigators  of military intervention in other states. President Obama initially hesitated but – as has sadly become his style – eventually taken a hawkish position in Foreign policy.

The results of these actions have lead to more civilian casualties and to the destruction of buildings and infrastructure and to the loss  of social gains.  The cost of this action and the resulting likely cries for more military spending will lead to even greater cuts in our own social spending. The United States spent over £750 million on the conflict in its first few weeks. In the UK the corresponding figure currently stands at around £300 million and it is forecasted that this will rise to one billion by September.

One factor that has got lost is that when Libya’s Foreign Secretary  Moussa Koussa was interviewed by the Scottish police in relation to the Lockerbie bombings,  yet we have heard nothing of these interviews.

Surely if he had  evidence of Libya’s involvement this would have been given huge publicity and given as a justification for military action. Dr Jim Swire has warned against any evidence from defectors being taken seriously as they have interests of self-preservation. There is still significant concern about the correctness of the present verdict regarding the Lockerbie bombing

We appear to have become numb to the use of brutal military action by our own Government and have fallen for the media’s over-simplistic justification of getting rid of a mad and brutal dictator. NATO has extended it’s timescale for operations and calls from South Africa are going unheeded. Al Jazeera has shown footage of Western troops West of Misrata yet one of the main points of the UN Security Council was to exclude foreign involvement on the ground.

I  believe that a negotiated settlement should be sought with the clear aim of setting up elections. It would then be up to all the Libyan people to decide on their future. All bombings by NATO should stop while negotiations take place. One of the main demands of the UN Security council resolution was for a cease fire. Given any ceasefire it should be United Nations Peacekeeping forces that should be put on the ground not NATO troops that are on the ground.

All those responsible for war crimes and torture should be tried at the International War Crimes court.