openDemocracy en ISIS's plan, and the west's trap <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The pattern of conflict since 2001 teaches a lesson that western states refuse to learn.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="USAF F-15E fighters. Flickr/Stuart Rankin. Some rights reserved."><img src="" alt="USAF F-15E fighters. Flickr/Stuart Rankin. Some rights reserved." title="USAF F-15E fighters. Flickr/Stuart Rankin. Some rights reserved." width="460" height="318" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>USAF F-15E fighters. Flickr/Stuart Rankin. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Al-Qaida evolved throughout the 1990s. By the end of the decade it had become a small but potent transnational revolutionary movement rooted in a perverse, unrepresentative version of one of the world’s main monotheistic faiths – Islam, one of the three 'religions of the book' alongside Judaism and Christianity.</p><p>Its ambitious <a href="">aim</a> was to cause the overthrow of the 'near enemy' regimes in the Middle East and southwest Asia, replacing them with 'proper' Islamist regimes; to see Zionism destroyed; and to so damage the 'far enemy' of the United States and its western partners that a new caliphate would grow outwards from the centre of Islam.</p><p>At the heart of its <a href="">doctrine </a>was an eschatological worldview whose timescales were potentially eternal.&nbsp; Even so, one of its key early tactics was quite specific and immediate – violent actions within the 'near' and 'far' enemies that would provoke massive overreactions and then sow dissension and chaos.&nbsp; 9/11 was the most substantial of these. The attack directly aimed at drawing the United States into occupying Afghanistan; instead, the US response was focused on using Northern Alliance paramilitaries as surrogate troops, and it took several <a href="">years</a> before the Taliban could return in strength.</p><p>Many of the violent assaults of the early 2000s – Madrid, London, Casablanca, Bali, Jakarta, Karachi, Istanbul, Sinai, Amman and many others – were undertaken by groups loosely <a href="">connected</a> with al-Qaida yet often willing to act under its banner. By 2006, however, what remained of 'al-Qaida central' had limited power, and over the following six years was superseded by ISIS.</p><h2><strong>The ISIS strategy<br /></strong></h2><p>ISIS's new version kept the long-term aim of <a href="">creating</a> a worldwide caliphate. But from 2011, circumstances in Syria (after the start of the Arab awakening) and Iraq (after the American withdrawal) allowed for the rapid creation of an actual proto-caliphate. ISIS was therefore much more focused on territory, and won considerable <a href="">success</a> in the effort. This eventually resulted in a US-led coalition mounting a strong reaction in the shape of the air-war that started in August 2014: Operation Inherent Resolve.</p><p>The intensity of the war has been scarcely reported. It has <a href="">involved</a> 57,000 sorties and 8,300 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that as of 13 November 2015, hit 16,075 separate <a href="">targets</a>. The overwhelming majority of the sorties were flown by US air force (USAF) and US navy planes. The Pentagon estimates that 20,000 ISIS supporters have been killed. Furthermore, the withdrawal of Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates from airstrikes in Syria means that this is now essentially a western war (see "<a href="">Syria, another 'all-American' war?</a>", 12 November 2015).</p><p>Such a <a href="">concentrated</a> war would create the expectation of ISIS being on its knees. Yet the Pentagon also estimates that the number of active ISIS paramilitaries is unchanged from 2014 at 20,000-30,000, while US intelligence agencies say that 30,000 people from 100 countries have joined ISIS (compared to 15,000 people from 80 countries by mid-2014). The air-war, in short, is not defeating ISIS (see "<a href="">The west vs ISIS: a new stage</a>", 21 November 2015). </p><p>Moreover, a significant change in ISIS tactics has occurred. It now combines holding territory with operating overseas in a manner reminiscent of al-Qaida’s approach of a decade ago. In the past year ISIS has sought to make stronger connections with Islamist paramilitaries in several countries – including Libya, southern Russia, Yemen and Afghanistan – and bring them under its own banner. It is also promoting direct attacks <a href="">elsewhere</a>: among them two attacks in Tunisia (Tunis's Bardo museum and Sousse's beach resort), the <a href="">destruction</a> of a Russian tourist jet over Sinai, and bombings in Beirut and Paris.</p><p>There are almost certain to be more, not least as ISIS is reported to have established an organised wing of the movement with this specific aim (see Eric Schmitt, “<a href="">Paris Attacks and Other Assaults Seen as Evidence of a Shift by ISIS</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 23 November 2015). The plan has three purposes:</p><p>* to demonstrate power and capability, including to supplant what remains of the <a href="">support</a> for al-Qaida</p><p>* to incite as much Islamophobia and community conflict as possible, especially in France and Britain</p><p>* to provoke an even more intense war from the west, ideally involving western ground-troops.</p><p>All this is relevant to the decision by Britain's prime minister David Cameron to <a href="">seek </a>approval for the Royal Air Force (RAF) to join in the bombing of Syria. It is highly likely that this will be supported by the House of Commons within the next week, unless individual members can rise above the understandable desire that 'something must be done'. But it is significant that behind the rhetoric about destroying and defeating ISIS, the government's intention in terms of the direct assault is actually far more modest.</p><p>When parliament's foreign-affairs <a href="">committee</a> asked Cameron what the overall objective of the military campaign was and whether it was intended to be 'war-winning', he <a href="">replied</a>: “The objective of our counter-ISIL campaign is to degrade ISIL’s capabilities so that it no longer presents a significant terrorist threat to the UK or an existential threat to Syria, Iraq or other states.” This falls far short of a military victory and no timetable is given even for this limited aim.</p><h2><strong>Back to the future</strong></h2><p>The decision to expand the war against ISIS is worth putting in historical perspective. By the end of 2001, three months after 9/11, the US coalition appeared to have destroyed the Taliban and massively damaged al-Qaida. This enabled George W Bush to declare success in his state-of-the-union <a href="">address</a> in January 2002. Yet al-Qaida went on to facilitate attacks worldwide, and the war against a resurgent Taliban continues to this day.</p><p>By May 2003, President Bush could declare “mission accomplished” against Saddam Hussein’s regime after just six weeks, but an immensely costly eight-year war ensued. In 2011, President Obama felt Iraq sufficiently secure to withdraw all US combat-troops, but within two years ISIS was rampant. That same year, France and Britain celebrated the end of the Gaddafi regime in Libya only for the country to disintegrate into a violent, <a href="">failing</a> state and weapons to proliferate across the Sahel.</p><p>What is frankly amazing is that the same mistakes are being made, and that western leaders are falling into the same traps. There is no recognition at all that ISIS is intent on provoking an expanded war, that this is what it is going to get, and that its leadership will be well satisfied with its achievements.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href=""><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><span><span><a href="">Oxford Research Group</a><br /></span></span></p><p><a href=""><span><span><em>Long War Journal</em></span></span></a></p><p>Patrick Cockburn, <em><a href="">The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution</a></em> (Verso, 2015)</p><p><a href=""><span><span>Remote Control Project</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href=";" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p>Michael Weiss &amp; Hassan Hassan, <a href=""><em>ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror</em></a> (Simon &amp; Schuster, 2015)</p><p>William McCants, <a href=""><em>The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State</em></a> (St Martin's Press, 2015)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/united-nations-vs-isil-new-phase">The west vs ISIS: a new stage</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-war-and-isis-connection">Iraq war and ISIS: the connection </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/syria-another-all-american-war">Syria, another &#039;all-American&#039; war?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-long-war">Islamic State, the long war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paris-atrocity-and-after">The Paris atrocity, and after</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-britain">Islamic State vs Britain </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> global security Paul Rogers Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:50:04 +0000 Paul Rogers 97968 at Eight steps to achieving forgiveness <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Foregiveness can be incredibly difficult. Here's how to practise it in a meaningful way.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="Forgiveness can be incredibly difficult. Credit: Shutterstock." title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Forgiveness can be incredibly difficult. Credit: Shutterstock.</span></span></span></p><p>When another person hurts us, it can upend our lives.</p><p>Sometimes the hurt is very deep, such as when a spouse or a parent betrays our trust, or when we are victims of crime, or when we’ve been harshly bullied. Anyone who has suffered a grievous hurt knows that when our inner world is badly disrupted, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than our turmoil or pain. When we hold on to hurt, we are emotionally and cognitively hobbled, and our relationships suffer.</p><p>Forgiveness is strong medicine for this. When life hits us hard, there is nothing as effective as forgiveness for healing deep wounds. I would not have spent the last 30 years of my life studying forgiveness if I were not convinced of this.</p><p>Many people have misconceptions about what forgiveness really means – and they may eschew it. Others may want to forgive, but wonder whether or not they truly can. Forgiveness does not necessarily come easily; but it is possible for many of us to achieve, if we have the right tools and are willing to put in the effort.</p><p>Below is an outline of the basic steps involved in following a path of forgiveness. As you read through these steps, think about how you might adapt them to your own life.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong>1. Know what forgiveness is and why it matters</strong></p><p>Forgiveness is about goodness, about extending mercy to those who’ve harmed us, even if they don’t ‘deserve’ it. It is not about finding excuses for the offending person’s behaviour or pretending it didn’t happen. Nor is there a quick formula you can follow. Forgiveness is a process with many steps that often proceeds in a non-linear fashion.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">“Forgiveness can heal us and allow us to move on in life with meaning and purpose. Forgiveness matters, and we will be its primary beneficiary.”</p><p>But it’s well worth the effort. Working on forgiveness can help us increase our self-esteem and give us a sense of inner strength and safety. It can reverse the lies that we often tell ourselves when someone has hurt us deeply—lies such as ‘I am defeated’ or ‘I’m not worthy’. Forgiveness can heal us and allow us to move on in life with meaning and purpose. Forgiveness matters, and we will be its primary beneficiary.</p><p>Studies have shown that forgiving others produces strong psychological benefits for the one who forgives. It has been shown to decrease depression, anxiety, unhealthy anger, and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. But we don’t just forgive to help ourselves. Forgiveness can lead to psychological healing, yes; but, in its essence, it is not something about you or done for you. It is something you extend toward another person, because you recognise, over time, that it is the best response to the situation.</p><p><strong>2. Become ‘forgivingly fit’</strong></p><p>To practice forgiveness, it helps if you have worked on positively changing your inner world by learning to be what I call ‘forgivingly fit’. Just as you would start slowly with a new physical exercise routine, it helps if you build up your forgiving muscles slowly, incorporating regular ‘workouts’ into your everyday life.</p><p>You can start becoming more fit by making a commitment to do no harm – in other words, making a conscious effort not to talk disparagingly about those who’ve hurt you. You don’t have to say good things; but, if you refrain from talking negatively, it will feed the more forgiving side of your mind and heart.</p><p>You can also make a practice of recognising that every person is unique, special, and irreplaceable. You may come to this through religious beliefs or a humanist philosophy or even through your belief in evolution. It’s important to cultivate this mindset of valuing our common humanity, so that it becomes harder to discount someone who has harmed you as unworthy.</p><p>You can show love in small ways in everyday encounters – like smiling at a harried grocery cashier or taking time to listen to a child. Giving love when it’s unnecessary helps to build the love muscle, making it easier to show compassion toward everyone. If you practice small acts of forgiveness and mercy – extending care when someone harms you – in everyday life, this too will help. Perhaps you can refrain from honking when someone cuts you off in traffic, or hold your tongue when your spouse snaps at you and extend a hug instead.</p><p>Sometimes pride and power can weaken your efforts to forgive by making you feel entitled and inflated, so that you hang onto your resentment as a noble cause. Try to catch yourself when you are acting from that place, and choose forgiveness or mercy, instead. If you need inspiration, it can help to seek out stories of mercy in the world, examples of which can be found at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"></a>.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong>3. Address your inner pain</strong></p><p>It’s important to figure out who has hurt you and how. This may seem obvious; but not every action that causes you suffering is unjust. For example, you don’t need to forgive your child or your spouse for being imperfect, even if their imperfections are inconvenient for you.</p><p>To become clearer, you can look carefully at the people in your life – your parents, siblings, peers, spouse, co-workers, children, and even yourself – and rate how much they have hurt you. Perhaps they have exercised power over you or withheld love; or maybe they have physically harmed you. These hurts have contributed to your inner pain and need to be acknowledged. Doing this will give you an idea of who needs forgiveness in your life and provide a place to start.</p><p>There are many forms of emotional pain; but the common forms are anxiety, depression, unhealthy anger, lack of trust, self-loathing or low self-esteem, an overall negative worldview, and a lack of confidence in one’s ability to change. All of these harms can be addressed by forgiveness; so it’s important to identify the kind of pain you are suffering from and to acknowledge it. The more hurt you have incurred, the more important it is to forgive, at least for the purpose of experiencing emotional healing.</p><p>You may be able to do this accounting on your own, or you may need the help of a therapist. However you approach looking at your pain be sure you do it in an environment that feels safe and supportive.</p><p><strong>4. Develop a forgiving mind through empathy</strong></p><p>Scientists have studied what happens in the brain when we think about forgiving and have discovered that, when people successfully imagine forgiving someone (in a hypothetical situation), they show increased activity in the neural circuits responsible for empathy. This tells us that empathy is connected to forgiveness and is an important step in the process.</p><p>If you examine some of the details in the life of the person who harmed you, you can often see more clearly what wounds they carry and start to develop empathy for them. First, try to imagine them as an innocent child, needing love and support. Did they get that from their parents? Research has shown that if an infant does not receive attention and love from primary caregivers, then they will have a weak attachment, which can damage trust. It may prevent them from ever getting close to others and set a trajectory of loneliness and conflict for the rest of his life.</p><p>You may be able to put an entire narrative together for the person who hurt you – from early child through adulthood – or just imagine it from what you know. You may be able to see their physical frailties and psychological suffering, and begin to understand the common humanity that you share. You may recognise them as a vulnerable person who was wounded and wounded you in return. Despite what they may have done to hurt you, you realise that they did not deserve to suffer either.</p><p>Recognising that we all carry wounds in our hearts can help open the door to forgiveness.</p><p><strong>5. Find meaning in your suffering</strong></p><p>When we suffer a great deal, it is important that we find meaning in what we have endured. Without seeing meaning, a person can lose a sense of purpose, which can lead to hopelessness and a despairing conclusion that there is no meaning to life itself. That doesn’t mean we look for suffering in order to grow or try to find goodness in another’s bad actions. Instead, we try to see how our suffering has changed us in a positive way.</p><p>Even as one suffers, it’s possible to develop short-term and sometimes long-range goals in life. Some people begin to think about how they can use their suffering to cope, because they’ve become more resilient or brave. They may also realise that their suffering has altered their perspective regarding what is important in life, changing their long-range goals for themselves.</p><p>To find meaning is not to diminish your pain or to say, ‘I’ll just make the best of it’ or ‘All things happen for a reason’. You must always take care to address the woundedness in yourself and to recognise the injustice of the experience, or forgiveness will be shallow.</p><p>Still, there are many ways to find meaning in our suffering. Some may choose to focus more on the beauty of the world or decide to give service to others in need. Some may find meaning by speaking their truth or by strengthening their inner resolve. If I were to give one answer, it would be that we should use our suffering to become more loving and to pass that love onto others. Finding meaning, in and of itself, is helpful for finding direction in forgiveness.</p><p><strong>6. When forgiveness is hard, call upon other strengths</strong></p><p>Forgiveness is always hard when we are dealing with deep injustices from others. I have known people who refuse to use the word forgiveness because it just makes them so angry. That’s OK – we all have our own timelines for when we can be merciful. But if you want to forgive and are finding it hard, it might help to call upon other resources.</p><p>First remember that if you are struggling with forgiveness, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure at forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process that takes time, patience, and determination. Try not to be harsh on yourself, but be gentle and foster a sense of quiet within, an inner acceptance of yourself. Try to respond to yourself as you would to someone whom you love deeply.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">“Just as you would start slowly with a new physical exercise routine, it helps if you build up your forgiving muscles slowly, incorporating regular ‘workouts’ into your everyday life.”</p><p>Surround yourself with good and wise people who support you and who have the patience to allow you time to heal in your own way. Also, practice humility – not in the sense of putting yourself down, but in realising that we are all capable of imperfection and suffering.</p><p>Try to develop courage and patience in yourself to help you in the journey. Also, if you practice bearing small slights against you without lashing out, you give a gift to everyone – not only to the other person, but to everyone whom that person may harm in the future because of your anger. You can help end the cycle of inflicting pain on others.</p><p>If you are still finding it hard to forgive, you can choose to practice with someone who is easier to forgive –maybe someone who hurt you in a small way, rather than deeply. Alternatively, it can be better to focus on forgiving the person who is at the root of your pain – maybe a parent who was abusive, or a spouse who betrayed you. If this initial hurt impacts other parts of your life and other relationships, it may be necessary to start there.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong>7. Forgive yourself</strong></p><p>Most of us tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others and we struggle to love ourselves. If you are not feeling lovable because of actions you’ve taken, you may need to work on self-forgiveness and offer to yourself what you offer to others who have hurt you: a sense of inherent worth, despite your actions.</p><p>In self-forgiveness, you honour yourself as a person, even if you are imperfect. If you’ve broken your personal standards in a serious way, there is a danger of sliding into self-loathing. When this happens, you may not take good care of yourself – you might overeat or oversleep or start smoking or engage in other forms of ‘self-punishment’. You need to recognise this and move toward self-compassion. Soften your heart toward yourself.</p><p>After you have been able to self-forgive, you will also need to engage in seeking forgiveness from others whom you’ve harmed and right the wrongs as best as you can. It’s important to be prepared for the possibility that the other person may not be ready to forgive you and to practice patience and humility. But, a sincere apology, free of conditions and expectations, will go a long way toward your receiving forgiveness in the end.</p><p><strong>8. Develop a forgiving heart</strong></p><p>When we overcome suffering, we gain a more mature understanding of what it means to be humble, courageous, and loving in the world. We may be moved to create an atmosphere of forgiveness in our homes and workplaces, to help others who’ve been harmed overcome their suffering, or to protect our communities from a cycle of hatred and violence. All of these choices can lighten the heart and bring joy to one’s life.</p><p>Some people may believe that love for another who’s harmed you is not possible. But, I’ve found that many people who forgive eventually find a way to open their hearts. If you shed bitterness and put love in its place, and then repeat this with many, many other people, you become freed to love more widely and deeply. This kind of transformation can create a legacy of love that will live on long after you’re gone.</p><p class="image-caption">This article was originally published by <a href="" target="_blank">Greater Good</a>.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/juliana-breines/three-research-based-ways-to-cultivate-kindness-in-your-life">Three research-based ways to cultivate kindness in your life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/TENP-Compassion">The Exile Nation Project - &quot;Forgiving her son&#039;s killer&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/helen-weng/can-you-train-your-brain-to-be-more-compassionate">Can you train your brain to be more compassionate? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Transformation Transformation Robert Enright Care Love and Spirituality Fri, 27 Nov 2015 10:00:47 +0000 Robert Enright 97973 at Why scrapping nursing bursaries is a disaster - a student nurse speaks <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>George Osborne announced the scrapping of nurse training bursaries in this week's Spending Review. He seems to have forgotten why nursing bursaries were introduced in the first place.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">As a student nurse, I have seen the financial struggles of the NHS and its staff shortages first hand. So I understand why it needs more money if it is to continue being the high standard service it always has been.</p><p class="MsoNormal">What I don’t understand is why this extra money has to come from the pockets of student healthcare professionals. Healthcare students already work 37.5 hours a week on 8-12 week placements without pay, working as hard and often doing the same jobs as others who do get paid. They do so with minimal complaints – and continue to do so for years – because the main reason they are there is to care for others, rather than for the money. </p><p class="MsoNormal">But making healthcare students pay to work – as Osborne’s move effectively does – is just taking advantage.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Instead, we should be supporting them in their studies Long hours mean they can’t take on extra, paid work, like other students.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Instead, Osborne is telling these students that in the future, not only will they have to continue working for free, but will finish with around £50,000 worth of debt, that they will probably be paying off for the rest of their lives. </p><p class="MsoNormal">It’s just too much. Taking money from students to give to the NHS may be a quick fix for the headlines – but it will store up serious problems in the future, including an even greater shortage of nurses. </p><p class="MsoNormal">My fellow students tell me that they would not have been able to study nursing and other healthcare professions if it wasn’t for the NHS bursary. It’s particularly true for mature students, who are prevalent in healthcare subjects. Many of have left full time jobs to pursue healthcare. Some have started out as Health Care Assistants before deciding to progress to be a registered nurse. The bursary is what helped them manage their loss of income. Someone who decides to become a nurse – whether younger or older - needs be supported in their decisions to enter a healthcare profession, rather than being faced with a lifetime of debt that they will probably never be able to pay back.</p><p class="MsoNormal">I’ve also talked to people considering doing healthcare as a second degree, who’ve told me that if there were no bursaries and student finance was all that was on offer, they simply wouldn’t go – many are already still carrying the massive debt from their first degree The thought of adding more debt is just too much. </p><p class="MsoNormal">What seems to have been forgotten is why NHS bursaries were used in the first place. The first Nursing degree at University started in 1970, two years after the NHS Bursary was originally created. Although the NHS bursary was first made as a way to pay unqualified staff a wage, it has since changed into the bursary we know today that supports students studying at University.</p><p class="MsoNormal">When it became compulsory to study Nursing at University, there was concern at the time that the cost of University would deter those from lower income backgrounds from studying Nursing, leading to a shortage. This is why student nurses get the NHS bursary, so that those from lower income backgrounds get the same opportunities as everyone else, in an attempt to deal with the shortage of nurses. Getting rid of the NHS bursary now just creates the same problems now that we were trying to avoid when the degree first became compulsory.</p><p class="MsoNormal">There is also the importance of the placement reimbursement that is offered with the NHS bursary, where students are compensated for travel and accommodation costs if they have to do placements in different cities to the one they are studying in, as part of their course. This allows university to offer a wider range of specialist placements – it’s particularly prevalent in radiotherapy, for example. So if the NHS bursary is cut, and no placement reimbursement is offered, the amount of places people can be sent out to is greatly decreased.</p><p><span>George Osborne tells us that by getting rid of the bursary, we’ll get rid of the cap on the number of students able to study healthcare subjects, so there will be more students. But if students can’t afford to study nursing, or go far for placements, then that will limit the amount of students that can study. And are we sure that if they do take on more students, Universities will be able to provide appropriate staff to maintain a high level of education? We risk swapping quality for quantity – and undermining the crucial goal of training enough nurses, to a high enough standard, to give the care we need.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/mark-boothroyd/government-uturn-on-safe-nursing-levels-branded-betrayal-by-midstaffs-campaign">Government u-turn on safe nursing levels branded a &quot;betrayal&quot; by Mid-Staffs campaigners</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ournhs/mark-boothroyd/why-wont-government-implement-safe-staffing-levels-in-nhs">Why won&#039;t the government implement safe staffing levels in the NHS?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ournhs/benedict-cooper/nhs-agency-staff-market-reaps-as-hunt-sows">NHS agency staff - the market reaps as Hunt sows</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> ourNHS uk ourNHS Louise Richardson Fri, 27 Nov 2015 09:16:49 +0000 Louise Richardson 97971 at Why the BBC’s independence is the best guarantee of its creative freedom <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The BBC should have an effective system of regulation that guarantees its editorial independence and creative freedom, including the freedom to fail.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Credit: BBC/Guy Levy. © BBC."><img src="" alt="Credit: BBC/Guy Levy. © BBC." title="Credit: BBC/Guy Levy. © BBC." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: BBC/Guy Levy. © BBC.</span></span></span></p><p>To understand why independence is so fundamental to the BBC’s creativity, it is first worth looking at how creativity at the BBC works.</p> <p>Because we are funded by the licence payer, we have the privilege of being able to start with what creativity can do if we let it.</p> <p>We want people to come to us to find a home for ideas they can’t find the freedom to develop elsewhere: to work with great creative teams and make programmes that might not otherwise get made.</p> <p>For example, people like Peter Kosminsky, who directed <em>Wolf Hall</em>, and Hugo Blick, who wrote and produced <em>The Honourable Woman</em>.</p> <p>Of course that means taking risks and pushing boundaries – <em>The Honourable Woman</em> was a hugely ambitious and challenging project.</p> <p>Of course, it means being exposed to criticism or potential failure.</p> <p>When <em>Bake Off</em> first hit our screens in 2010, one review said that the cameraman could have been forgiven if he’d decided to “commit hara-kiri in a giant pool of egg and flour”.</p> <p>It suggested that, by half-way through, the narrator would rather be elsewhere, and guessed that the audience already were.</p> <p>Six series later and with over 15 million viewers for this year’s final, the show has now been sold to 20 countries. A <em>Sun</em> editorial recently called it “a national institution,” and said, “No commercial channel would have invested in a show about making cakes in a tent.”</p> <p>It is an extraordinary success story, one that no one could have predicted.</p> <p>And as John Lloyd – the genius behind hits such as <em>Blackadder </em>and <em>QI </em>– tells me, success always catches us by surprise. It can never be measured in advance. The next big thing is always unexpected.</p> <p>Even <em>Blackadder</em> and <em>The Office</em> might never have made it. But both got the backing they needed and the time and space to evolve that the BBC allows.</p> <p>That support is there today with <em>The Detectorists</em> – backing Mackenzie Crook as a first-time writer and director, with total creative freedom to pursue his passion piece.</p> <p>And with <em>Car Share</em> – offering Peter Kay full creative control over his first BBC series, even to the point of opening up iPlayer to premiere the show the way he wished.</p> <p>Because creativity at the BBC should not be afraid of failure. It must recognise that you can’t find the next <em>Blackadder</em> or <em>Bake Off</em> without taking risks.</p> <p>And it is independence that should allow us that creative freedom.</p> <p>Aware of the market, but not led by it. Answerable to parliament, but free from political influence.</p> <p>Not having to navigate 'no-go' areas or define 'good' in advance. But allowing programme-makers to focus on making their programmes, and letting risk of failure be the price of success.</p> <p>It is independence therefore – from the market and from government – that ultimately should allow us to act as a magnet for creative talent, an incubator for creative ideas, and an engine for the UK’s creative growth.</p> <p><strong>Creative freedom and the future of the BBC</strong></p> <p>Why then is so much of the debate around the BBC’s Charter Review not about how to nurture that independence, but how to contain it?</p> <p>Not about what we should be allowed to do, but what we shouldn’t?</p> <p>Now, people want and should have effective regulation of the BBC – I want it myself.</p> <p>I was the first Director-General to propose full external regulation. I want a system that holds our feet firmly to the fire on distinctiveness.</p> <p>That’s why I welcome an external regulator reviewing the delivery of the BBC’s remit. And having the power to impose remedies if we fail to meet our purposes or breach our service licences.</p> <p>But when it comes to regulating creative freedom, there is clearly a careful balance to be struck.</p> <p>I don’t want a system that stifles us - that tells us how to do our job, rather than the job we should be doing - that freezes today’s BBC in aspic so that we can’t respond to tomorrow, or says that our services should be scheduled by our competitors rather than for our audiences.</p> <p>Some think that the BBC should only be able to produce what the market doesn’t - that our creativity should begin only where others fail, always second-guessing and backing away from the most promising ideas.</p> <p>Some want every part of the country to have an exact proportion of the licence fee spent on it, regardless of where the best ideas are found.</p> <p>Or they want to choose how to ring-fence our spending. Or even simply reduce our audience, regardless of whether – as in the last Charter – we got there by becoming more distinctive.</p> <p>Regulation must be effective, but not prescriptive.</p> <p>And it must not become paralysing.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Today we operate under 26 different <a href="">service licences</a>, running to more than 200 pages - with around 160 statutory and non-statutory quotas and separate conditions.</p> <p>But the call is for even more. And while I’m confident we could have an organisation that ticks any number of boxes, I’m not confident that it would deliver anything of genuine creativity and innovation.</p> <p>Because for all the BBC’s social and economic contribution, if we overload it with overlapping objectives, bind it with inflexible regulation, we will smother what makes it special: the inspirational and unexpected.</p> <p>If we had set out to open up a nationwide conversation on diversity, for example, then I’m not sure we would ever have come up with the final of a baking competition in a marquee in Berkshire.</p> <p>If we’d wanted to promote Cornwall as a tourist destination then I don’t think we would have arrived at an Irishman, <a href="">scything with his shirt off</a>.</p> <p><strong>Editorial freedom and the future of the BBC</strong></p> <p>But creative freedom is not the only freedom that our audience depends on us for.</p> <p>There is our editorial freedom too: the freedom to speak truth to power.</p> <p>Nowhere can independence matter more than in the provision of news. And today the BBC remains by far the single most-trusted source of news in the UK.</p> <p>It’s no surprise, then, that nearly nine out of 10 people believe it important that the BBC is impartial, and independent from the government of the day.</p> <p>It is clear that, if the BBC is to fulfil its mission to ‘inform’ – something that the public overwhelmingly supports – then it must continue to be, and be seen to be, independent of any political influence, interference or pressure.</p> <p>When I was working in news and current affairs in the Nineties, the independence of the BBC was protected by a set of quiet customs and traditions. And, though they were informal, they were understood and respected on all sides.</p> <p>Back then it was thanks to Willie Whitelaw that we had the certainty of a 15-year Charter, underpinning our independence by allowing us stability through the political cycle.</p> <p>When I returned to the BBC as Director-General, I was struck by a major change.</p> <p>The foundations of the BBC’s independence had become weaker. The traditions and informal arrangements which protected it had been eroded.</p> <p>Politicians had not done this deliberately – it happened under all parties.</p> <p>First, the licence fee was spent on things other than BBC services. On digital switchover. On rural broadband and local TV. Then twice it was settled without a full process.</p> <p>Now the era of fixed-term parliaments has brought the BBC’s five-year funding reviews firmly into the political cycle.</p> <p>Some have even suggested – though let me stress this, not the current Government – that the Charter Review should follow the same rhythm.</p> <p>The truth is that a five-year Charter would effectively dangle a Sword of Damocles over the BBC’s head – calling our future into question at every election and stopping the Corporation from planning or investing in any long-term, sustainable way.</p> <p><strong>Safeguarding the BBC’s stability and independence</strong></p> <p>Now, I’m not saying that the BBC’s independence is in direct and imminent danger.</p> <p>But it has suffered 20 years of gradual erosion, and there is a risk that this could continue.</p> <p>I believe that we can offer our audiences a better BBC within the budget we’ve been set.</p> <p>But not if we are bound down with tie after tie. Not if the Charter also cuts our creative freedom to reinvent our services, or our commercial freedom to make up the shortfall.</p> <p>Letting this happen would not just have unintended consequences for the BBC, but for the UK’s creative economy as a whole.</p> <p>Some might think, for example, that a call for us to focus only on content sounds reasonable. But 10 years ago, that kind of prescriptive regulation would have prevented the BBC from investing in Freeview or creating BBC iPlayer.</p> <p>And it would have meant none of the ripple effects of that investment, which helped to create a new market for video-on-demand and benefit all players.</p> <p>As Netflix have said, “<a href="">the iPlayer really blazed the trail</a>.” And now the UK has by far the largest on-demand video market in Europe.</p> <p>So how should we respond?</p> <p>I know we have a set of politicians who understand the importance of the independence of the BBC.</p> <p>And this Charter offers us an opportunity to start building back up the safeguards.</p> <p>Already we and the Trust have said that the most important starting point is to take the BBC firmly out of the electoral cycle by moving to an 11-year Charter period.</p> <p>And, as we have already said, we must ensure that, next time, licence-fee payers have a formal role in the process for setting the licence fee, alongside the BBC’s new external regulator – whoever that will be.</p> <p>Now I would like to propose that we debate a ‘dual lock’ for the next Charter. Under this proposal, any fundamental future changes to the BBC, such as non-renewal of the Charter or a new funding mechanism would be subject to:</p> <p>A resolution of each House of Parliament, with two-thirds majority – as is already the case for changes to the new Press Charter.</p> <p>And, building on the public’s extraordinary appetite to engage with us directly in the digital age – the <a href="">Government’s recent consultation</a> brought nearly 200,000 responses – an online vote by the people who ultimately own the BBC: the licence-fee payers.</p> <p><strong>Opening up the BBC to its audiences</strong></p> <p>It is this direct accountability to the public that is vital.</p> <p>Despite being publicly funded, the BBC has always been a public service broadcaster, not a state broadcaster.</p> <p>In the next Charter we want to serve the public better than ever before.</p> <p>In September, I set out my plans for creating an ‘Open BBC’ for the internet age. Open in a way that will allow our audiences to shape our services.</p> <p>And I did this because the single most important question we need to ask in the debate about the BBC’s future is not about our relationship with government or politicians, but with our audience. Our overwhelming responsibility is to ensure that the BBC of the future will serve their best needs and interests.</p> <p>Today, the BBC’s relationship with its audience has never been closer. Since the last Charter, the BBC Trust has made real progress on involving audiences in BBC decision-making.</p> <p>Their voice has been heard in crucial debates from service licence reviews to public value tests to evaluations of impartiality.</p> <p>But in the next Charter we need to go even further.</p> <p>It is not enough to turn to audiences for one-off decisions and opinions.</p> <p>We need to embed a two-way, truly collaborative relationship within the fabric of the BBC itself, so that they can work with us directly on how we run the Corporation and how we shape its services.</p> <p>Not a consultation, but a permanent conversation.</p> <p>And to do it successfully, we need to harness the full power of the internet age.</p> <p>Just this month, I was in Birmingham visiting one of the digital innovation teams that are working on getting younger and more diverse audiences engaged with the BBC, offering them a place to tell their stories and produce their own BBC content.</p> <p>Content like the video one young woman produced for the Asian Network, sharing her experience as part of our <em><a href="">My Ramadan</a></em> season. Last year, she was annoyed that she started to bite her nails again after Eid. This year, she said, she was “determined not to fall off the wagon”.</p> <p>At the start of the month, we launched <em><a href="">Weather Watchers</a></em>, a crowd-sourced weather club for people all over the country to create personal reports and help us tell the story of the nation’s favourite subject. More than 40,000 people signed up in less than two weeks – sped on by storms Abigail and Barney – and posted over 100,000 updates.</p> <p>It’s almost as if the BBC Weather team knew that the storms were coming…</p> <p>All across the BBC, we are inviting audiences in to be part of our services.</p> <p>But our ambition goes much further.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Ideas Service as a pathfinder for the ‘Open BBC’</strong></p> <p>Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be at Jodrell Bank with the <em>Stargazing Live</em> team to witness 40,000 viewer volunteers joining forces with top scientists and astronomical institutions to scan the skies for unidentified celestial objects.</p> <p>What they achieved was astounding. They managed to classify two million heavenly bodies, including five supernovae. And in the process, they managed to offer scientists new insights into the age of the universe.</p> <p>It was the perfect example of what the BBC can do when it opens up fully to its audiences.</p> <p>This is the concept behind the <em>BBC’s Ideas Service</em>, which I announced in September.</p> <p>We want to establish it as the new home of knowledge for our most passionate audiences – ranging across arts, science and culture. An open platform focusing on the biggest questions there are, drawing on content and knowledge from across the whole of the BBC - bringing it together with the expertise of Britain’s best cultural and scientific institutions and the active participation of our audiences.</p> <p>We want the <em>Ideas Service</em> to move beyond the traditional 'broadcast' model to become a new destination in the digital landscape, where audiences can not only consume, but also contribute, share and celebrate ideas and content. And, like <em>Stargazing Live</em>, we want it to benefit from having thousands, maybe even millions, of people involved.</p> <p>That’s why we’re going to make it a pathfinder project for the new, Open BBC. </p> <p>We want our audiences to help create the service, so that they are not just collaborating with us after its launch, but also helping us develop the concept.</p> <p>And we’re going to start in Cardiff in the New Year by bringing together a specially recruited citizen jury to tell us which questions matter, how we can explore them together, and how best they can work with us to create and curate content.</p> <p><strong>Putting the BBC in the hands of its audiences</strong></p> <p>But this Open BBC approach is not limited to the big new ideas.</p> <p>Because, during the course of the next Charter, I want us to become the most accountable public service in Britain.</p> <p>To have a direct relationship with pretty much everyone we serve.</p> <p>By the end of next year, 10 million people will have signed in to our apps and website. By the end of the next Charter, I would not be surprised if practically the whole country had signed in – looking not just for personalised recommendations, but ways of helping to shape their BBC.&nbsp;</p> <p>We know it’s not going to be easy to find the right ways of systematically involving audiences in decisions.</p> <p>That’s why we will be piloting a range of ideas for direct collaboration to discover what works best.</p> <p>Our aim, during the course of the next Charter, is to put the BBC firmly into the hands of its audiences.</p> <p>Within five years, we want to have engaged the public in assessing and shaping every BBC service.</p> <p>And within 10, we want to have built a strong enough relationship with a genuine cross-section of the public to involve them directly in making the biggest decisions about the BBC’s future – its scope, scale and funding.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>My goal is simple.</p> <p>Open up the BBC to its audiences as far as possible as the best way of guaranteeing the independence and accountability they need, to ensure the quality and creativity they trust and rely on.</p> <p>I began by talking about the remarkable economic benefits the BBC confers on the UK - the incredible competitive advantage that our approach to creativity offers this country around the world.</p> <p>I believe that the next Charter can offer the BBC a chance to do even more to secure that growth dividend for Britain in the decade to come – by making our fundamental independence secure.</p> <p>An effective regulatory regime, not a prescriptive one, that moves from informal to formal guarantees of creative and editorial independence, allows us the freedom of movement to build a stronger BBC for the internet age, and establishes a fully collaborative relationship with our audiences all across the nations and regions, putting them right at the heart of our services and our decision-making.</p> <p>That is the vision I am working towards.</p> <p>A truly Open BBC. Approaching its 100th birthday with its best days still to come.</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong><em>This is part of a <a href="">speech by Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC</a>, at the Cardiff Business Club on 23 November 2015.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/richard-tait/if-bbc-s-not-independent-it-is-no-use-to-any-of-us">If the BBC’s not independent, it is no use to any of us </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourbeeb/howard-davies/after-trust-how-can-we-guarantee-independent-bbc">After the Trust, how can we guarantee an independent BBC?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourbeeb/aaron-bastani/bbc-stands-for-what-we-all-have-in-common">&quot;The BBC stands for what we all have in common&quot;.</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> OurBeeb OurBeeb London UK Tony Hall Director-General Tony Hall Fri, 27 Nov 2015 06:30:58 +0000 Tony Hall 97964 at The media and public intellectuals: Fred Halliday vs Noam Chomsky <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If the media lionises one and demonises the other, the favoured man must surely have been right on the big issues of the last 15 years. Right?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'><a href=>Flickr/Ministerio de Cultura de la Nacion</a>, <a href=>CC BY-SA 2.0</a></span></span></span></p><p>Compare and contrast the different responses by the media and academia to two of the most prominent public intellectuals who have focussed on the Middle East – Professor Fred Halliday, who died in 2010, and Professor Noam Chomsky.</p> <p><span class="mag-quote-right">one would assume world events have repeatedly proved Halliday right, and Chomsky to have been consistently off the mark</span>As Al-Akhbar newspaper <a href="">notes</a>, Halliday, a Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science for 20 years, “received wide acclaim in his lifetime, and after his death.” In his obituary in the <em>Guardian</em> his friend Professor Sami Zubaida <a href="">noted</a>: “Fred made an enormous impact in both academia and the media. He always spoke with a sure and lucid voice, backed by extensive knowledge, and knew many languages… Arabic, Persian, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, French, German and Russian.” Writing in the left-leaning <em>Nation</em> magazine, Susie Linfield was even more effusive in her <a href="">praise</a>: “In his scholarship and research, in his outspokenness and courtesy, in the complexity of his thinking, he was the model of a public intellectual. It is Halliday’s writing – not those of Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Alexander Cockburn, Christopher Hitchens or Tariq Ali – that can elucidate the meaning of today’s most virulent conflicts.”</p> <p>In contrast, Chomsky is repeatedly smeared and attacked by the mainstream media, receiving particular ire from liberal journalists and intellectuals. Chomsky, the author of tens of books and speaker at hundreds of sold out public events, is often labelled as “<a href="">controversial</a>”, “<a href="">angry</a>”, “<a href="">raving</a>” and “<a href="">simplistic</a>”. Chomsky is keenly <a href=";view=article&amp;id=229:adjusted-curiosity-professional-servility-and-how-to-overcome-it&amp;catid=16:alerts-2002&amp;Itemid=43">aware</a> of this phenomenon, comparing the reception he receives from the largely conservative MIT faculty with his relationship with the liberal Harvard academic staff: “I get along fine with the MIT faculty, even when we disagree about everything (which is the usual case). If I show up at the Harvard faculty club, you can feel the chill settle; it’s as if Satan himself had entered the room.”</p> <p>So how do Halliday and Chomsky compare in their analysis of events in the Middle East since 2001? If one accepted the media and academic consensus one would assume world events have repeatedly proved Halliday right, and Chomsky to have been consistently off the mark. However, as the American historian Howard Zinn once noted, “The truth is so often the reverse of what has been told us by our culture that we cannot turn our heads far enough around to see it.”</p> <p>According to his obituaries in the <em>Guardian</em> and <em><a href="">Independent</a></em>, Halliday supported the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. These invasions and subsequent occupations are now widely understood to have been complete disasters – for Afghans and Iraqis, for US and British troops, for the threat of terrorism in the west and for the cohesion and stability of the whole Middle East. The 2003 Iraq invasion breached international law, weakened the UN, and led to US and UK troops committing war crimes and torturing the local people. <a href="">Hundreds of thousands</a> of Afghans and Iraqis died because of the invasions, with many more wounded. Over <a href="">four million Iraqis</a> were forced from their home. Afghanistan <a href="">continues</a> to be one of the top countries of origin for refugees today. And, as even Tony Blair recently <a href="">admitted</a>, the invasion and occupation of Iraq played a key role in the creation of Islamic State and the crisis the world is currently dealing with today. </p> <h2><strong>Harmless sanctions? </strong></h2> <p>It gets worse. If we go back before 2001 we find Halliday publicly denied the impact of (US and UK-led) UN sanctions on Iraq from 1991 to 2003. In a review of Geoff Simons’s book on economic sanctions in the <em>Independent</em> in 1999, Halliday <a href="">rubbished</a> “claims that Iraq still lacks the means to provide a basic supply of food”. Compare Halliday’s repetition of the US-UK governments’ line to those of Hans von Sponeck, one of the UN Humanitarian Coordinators for Iraq during the sanctions regime. “At no time during the years of comprehensive economic sanctions were there adequate resources to meet minimum needs for human physical or mental survival either before, or during, the Oil-For-Food Programme”, von Sponeck <a href="">notes</a> in his 2006 book <em>A Different Kind of War</em>. </p> <p><span class="mag-quote-left">Halliday publicly denied the impact of (US and UK-led) UN sanctions on Iraq from 1991 to 2003</span>Denis Halliday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq prior to von Sponeck, resigned in protest in 1998, noting the sanctions were causing the deaths of up to 5,000 children a month: “We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.” Halliday later explained: “I was instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide — a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.” Von Sponeck himself resigned in protest two years later, asking in his resignation letter, “How long should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?” Later he told journalist John Pilger: “I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable.”</p> <p>For a man who professed a deep admiration for the people and cultures of the Middle East, Halliday repeatedly supported US-UK government policies that caused and continue to cause untold misery for the people of the region. In contrast Chomsky was arguably the foremost critic of the US and UK invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to being a key voice in drawing attention to the horrifying effects of UN sanctions on Iraq. So, in summary, the media and intellectual elite continue to fete a man who supported Western policies that decimated the Middle East and killed hundreds of thousands of people, while they have attempted to marginalise arguably the foremost critic of these destructive and criminal actions. </p> <p>What is going on here?</p> <h2><strong>Intellectuals and dissent</strong></h2> <p>Chomsky himself has much to say on the subject, <a href="">telling</a> Pilger in 1992 that “The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power, and if I didn’t betray it I’d be ashamed of myself.” Mark Curtis, a British historian of UK foreign policy and former Research Fellow at Chatham House, broadly agrees, <a href="">noting</a> “British academics are generally responsible for keeping students and the public in ignorance about this country’s real role in the world.” On the topic of sanctions on Iraq, Eric Herring, Professor of World Politics at the University of Bristol, <a href="">notes</a> that the record of British academics has been shameful: “The sanctions on Iraq illustrate the fact that the immiseration of most of a society and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its citizens can get hidden right out in the open (the facts are there for anyone who cares to consult them), with barely a peep from academics as well as journalists”. Just three articles were published in British International Relations journals during the sanctions regime, Herring notes (Herring wrote one of them and commissioned the second). </p> <p><span class="mag-quote-right">The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power</span>What explains the timidity of most intellectuals? A number of factors, of course, including how one progresses through the education system (<a href="">Chomsky</a>: “There’s a filtering system, that starts in kindergarten, and goes all the way through, and it’s not going to work 100 percent but it’s pretty effective. It selects for obedience, and subordination”), and the social class of intellectuals and their attendant social and ideological ties to established power. Those whose work and politics fit within the dominant ideology will usually gain the respect of their peers and may even be courted by the media. And while there is no early morning knock on the door for those independent-minded academics in the west who expose the lies told by those in power, there are still real consequences for stepping out of line. You may be overlooked for promotion, your job may be under threat, publishing work may become more difficult, funding opportunities may dry up, you may receive a lot of flak from the establishment and you may be ostracised by colleagues. </p> <p>Obviously criticism of western foreign policy does take place – is positively encouraged – but this is <a href="">usually</a> “within narrow limits which show ‘exceptions’ to, or ‘mistakes’ in, promoting the rule of basic benevolence." For example, beyond his support for the aggressive US-UK invasion of Iraq, Halliday inadvertently repeated the US-UK government’s framing of the war when he <a href="">argued</a> “the American approach that you can suddenly install a democracy” is “nonsense” at the 2004 Labour Party conference. Chomsky, on the other hand, <a href="">distinguishes</a> between government’s “declarations of benign intent” and the real reasons for the invasion: control of Iraq’s energy resources. Indeed fully 1 percent of Baghdad residents in an October 2003 Gallup poll <a href="">agreed</a> with Halliday that establishing democracy was the main intention of the US invasion, while 43 percent said the invasion’s principal objective was Iraq’s oil reserves. Similarly a 2003 YouGov poll of the British public <a href="">found</a> that just 5 percent of respondents thought the US and UK’s primary motivation was “to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq” (the most popular answer to a question asking why the US and UK wanted to invade Iraq was also “to secure and control oil supplies”). In reality the US and UK “don’t want democracies in the Arab world”, Chomsky <a href="">explains</a>. “If Arab public opinion had any influence on policy, the US and Britain had been tossed out of the Middle East. That’s why they are terrified of democracies in the region.”</p> <p>All this is not to dismiss Halliday’s undoubted expertise and experience on the Middle East and the knowledge he has passed onto thousands of students and readers of his work. But considering just how wrong he was on Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq and Iraqi sanctions surely we need to ask some hard questions of Halliday and our dominant understanding of education, expertise and intellectuals? </p> <p>“There is in orthodox thinking a great dependence on experts”, notes Zinn in his 1990 book <em>Passionate Declarations: Essays On War And Justice</em>, explaining there are two false assumptions often made about experts. “One is that they see more clearly and think more intelligently than ordinary citizens. Sometimes they do, sometimes not. The other assumption is that these experts have the same interests as ordinary citizens, want the same things, hold the same values, and, therefore, can be trusted to make decisions for us all.” Our dependence on “great thinkers” and “experts” is, Zinn argues, “a violation of the spirit of democracy.”</p> <p>Chomsky has repeatedly rejected attempts by others to lionise him. Rather than look to leaders and the intellectuals for wisdom and guidance, to make progressive social change Chomsky argues individuals should educate themselves, undertaking a course of <a href="">intellectual self-defence</a> through popular movements. With the Middle East in flames, the UK government champing at the bit to bomb Syria and the media in “<a href="">full propaganda mode</a>” the need for the general public to be informed and active is as great as it has ever been. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong><span>openDemocracyUK doesn’t have a billionaire proprietor telling us what to write – we rely on donations from readers like you. </span><a href=""><span>Please support us</span></a><span> if you can.</span></strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/ian-sinclair/polly-toynbee-jeremy-corbyn-and-limits-of-acceptable-politics">Polly Toynbee, Jeremy Corbyn and the limits of acceptable politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/fred-halliday-was-right-lse-gaddafi-money-and-what-is-missing-from-woolf">Fred Halliday was right: The LSE, Gaddafi money and what is missing from the Woolf Report</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/justin-schlosberg/media-wars-over-gaza-why-british-broadcasters-are-still-failing-in-thei">Media wars over Gaza: why British broadcasters are still failing in their scrutiny of Israeli officials</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Ian Sinclair Fri, 27 Nov 2015 00:11:11 +0000 Ian Sinclair 97943 at Another ‘Dodgy Dossier’ for war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Undeterred by the disastrous results of ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya, western powers have for four years been determinedly trying to help regime change in Syria along.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="Fallujah, 2007." title="" width="460" height="209" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fallujah, 2007. Flickr/ Arlo Ringsmuth. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The British Prime Minister presented his case in parliament today (26 November, 2015) for launching attacks against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/Islamic State in Syria. Two years ago, a similar request was unexpectedly defeated in the House of Commons and David Cameron has said he will not put it to a vote again unless he is ‘confident of enough votes to win’.</p> <p>The 36-page memorandum which outlines the Prime Minister’s case for war starts by acknowledging that the decision to use force is “not to be taken lightly” and is “one of the most significant decisions that any government takes”. Many pages are then devoted to the threat posed by ISIL and the need to defeat it. Yet nowhere does it explain how dropping more bombs on them will lessen or eliminate this threat. In fact, Cameron himself freely admits in the conclusion of the memorandum that “air strikes alone cannot defeat ISIL”. In purely military terms, the only way to uproot ISIL from its strongholds in Syria is by chasing them out with ground forces, and David Cameron knows that very well.</p> <p>This is where the miraculous 70,000 “fighters who do not belong to extremist groups” comes into the picture. Many Syrian analysts have expressed surprise and even astonishment at this number, since most assume the ‘moderate’ military opposition to Assad is much smaller as well as divided against itself and largely ineffectual except in a few small areas currently under their control. </p> <p>Among the 70,000 are presumably the Kurdish fighters, who are not only fighting Assad and ISIL but also Turkey, one of our allies currently crowding the skies over Syria with their military aircraft. Also within that number are presumably the Turkmen fighters, who are not only fighting Assad and ISIL but also those same Kurdish fighters &nbsp;- and, as we saw just a couple of days ago, the Russians, another of our allies dropping bombs on Syria. <span class="mag-quote-right">In other words, ISIL is not likely to be pushed out of Raqqa or anywhere else in Syria until there is a political settlement in Syria which allows a national Syrian army (comprising Sunni Arabs) to retake control of areas like Raqqa from ISIL.</span></p> <p>Also among this range of armed groups are clearly some who have not only been fighting each other but also selling weapons and/or buying oil from ISIL. It is well known that many of the groups opposing Assad and previously being armed by the US and other outside parties have ended up joining forces with ISIL, adding significantly to ISIL’s growing inventory of US-made weapons. </p> <p>But the most crucial point about defeating ISIL is made right at the end of the dossier itself, even though it is flatly contradicted by Cameron’s opening statement. The dossier ends by asserting that, “only moderate Sunni Arabs can retake traditionally Sunni Arab areas such as Raqqa” and “without transition [to a post-Assad government] it will continue to be difficult to generate a Sunni force able to fight ISIL and hold ground in Eastern Syria”. </p> <p>In other words, ISIL is not likely to be pushed out of Raqqa or anywhere else in Syria until there is a political settlement in Syria which allows a national Syrian army (comprising Sunni Arabs) to retake control of areas like Raqqa from ISIL. That is the conclusion of the dossier itself, and yet at the beginning, Cameron starts out by saying we cannot wait for a political settlement, we must take action now, because “we do not have the luxury of being able to wait until the Syrian conflict is resolved before tackling ISIL”. </p> <p>This is nonsensical. The reality is that we do not have the luxury of rushing into attacking ISIL now when we know it cannot be defeated militarily unless and until there is a political solution to the Syrian conflict.</p> <p>The Prime Minister claims that in addition to bombing, he will put his “full diplomatic weight” behind the Vienna talks aimed at reaching a political solution to the Syrian conflict. But he fails to explain how more bombing will contribute to ensuring that those talks are successful. </p> <p>Indeed, as we have already seen with the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey, the more parties that are engaged in bombing Syria, the more difficult a political solution could become.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left"><em>Either</em> we, as the UK and other parties to the ‘coalition’, can stop arming and funding the Syrian opposition so that Assad can deal with ISIL <em>or</em> we can help hammer out a peace agreement between Assad and the Syrian opposition so that they can deal with ISIL together.</p> <p>Russia is opposed to ISIL but it has also made no secret of the fact that it is flying over Syria at the request of the Assad regime with the aim of strengthening the Assad regime vis-à-vis <em>all</em> the military forces arrayed against it. Since in the northwest that includes Turkmen forces who are directly supported by Turkey, that puts Russia and Turkey on a collision course with each other. Turkey, meanwhile, is fighting its own internal war against the Kurdish fighters and is therefore certainly not assisting those same fighters across the border in Syria. Russia is also undoubtedly attacking other forces in Syria which the Prime Minister is currently counting as being among the 70,000 ‘moderates’ upon whom he is pinning all his hopes.</p> <p>However brutal and repressive Bashar al-Assad may be, he is currently the leader of a sovereign state which is still recognised as legitimate by most other countries in the world. And despite a civil war that has been raging for over four years, the opposition groups supported by a range of other Middle Eastern countries as well as by the USA have singularly failed to dislodge him. While David Cameron calls Assad “one of ISIL’s greatest recruiting sergeants”, the indisputable fact is that ISIL stepped into the vacuum created by the civil war itself. </p> <p>It is an open secret that the USA, mainly through the CIA, has been funding, arming and supporting the Syrian opposition from the outset. Undeterred by the disastrous results of ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya, the US, UK and other western powers have been determined to see regime change in Syria and have been trying for four years to help that along by supporting the Free Syrian Army and other military groups trying to oust Assad. </p> <p>David Cameron insists that, unlike in 2013, British military involvement in Syria now would be solely aimed at ISIL and <em>not</em> at the Assad regime. In fact he says that the aim of British involvement is to “enable a ceasefire to be established between the regime and the opposition”. </p> <p>But herein lies the whole paradox of the Syrian situation. The only military force on the ground capable of beating back ISIL and re-gaining control of Raqqa and other territory lost to ISIL are the armed forces of the government of Syria. <em>Either</em> we, as the UK and other parties to the ‘coalition’, can stop arming and funding the Syrian opposition so that Assad can deal with ISIL <em>or</em> we can help hammer out a peace agreement between Assad and the Syrian opposition so that they can deal with ISIL together. Ironically, adding to the mayhem that is over Syria right now with more bombers targeting ISIL is more likely to result in the military victory of Assad over the more ‘moderate’ opposition forces rather than the reverse.</p> <p>The Prime Minister says several times in his dossier that we must “learn the lessons from previous conflicts”, and yet the only lesson that he mentions is the need to plan better for the aftermath. The real lesson of the Iraq War appears to have been overlooked: bombing, invading and occupying other countries is not a twenty-first century way to win friends and influence people. It is more likely to create more enemies and more recruits for extremist groups like ISIL. </p> <p>The Prime Minister’s dossier claims that Britain’s current military efforts against ISIL in Iraq have “suppressed their ability to conduct external attacks”. If that is the case, then how does he explain the recent murders in Paris and Beirut, not to mention the many other terrorist attacks that he himself lists. </p> <p>Bombing Syria and Iraq has <em>increased</em> terrorist activities around the world and <em>increased</em> the numbers of people joining ISIL rather than the reverse. Why would more of the same be expected to achieve anything different?</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/david-held/vicious-cycle-of-pitiless-violence">The vicious cycle of pitiless violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/david-held-kyle-mcnally/911-wars-reckoning">9/11 wars: a reckoning</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/maged-mandour/why-west-cannot-defeat-isis">Why the west cannot defeat ISIS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arun-kundnani-opendemocracy/violence-comes-home-interview-with-arun-kundnani">Violence comes home: an interview with Arun Kundnani</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Arab Awakening Syria EU UK Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Timmon Wallis Thu, 26 Nov 2015 23:54:15 +0000 Timmon Wallis 97967 at The will of Idomeni <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The individuals stuck in Greece have begun a hunger strike, their determination challenging the arbitrary distinction between refugees and migrants. How long must they sit there?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Paragraph"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>By Tuesday (24 Nov) at least six Iranians stuck in Idomeni, Greece had sewn their lips together to protest the selective closure of the border. Photo by Cameron Thibos.</span></span></span></p><p class="Paragraph">IDOMENI, GREECE - Fully registering that the six men sitting on the steel tracks have willingly sewn their mouths shut causes an unsettling sensation to wash down your spine and flood your stomach, inducing a subtle nausea. The jagged stitching that zig-zags across their lips, the dark punctures that are a shade too purple for comfort—these belong on Frankenstein's monster, not on men in their 20s with 'freedom' and 'Iran' written in red on their chests.</p><div align="right"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="200" height="487" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo by Cameron Thibos.</span></span></span></div><p class="Paragraph">Yet there they sit, calm, eyes pointed straight down the train tracks. This is real. <a href="">Prevented passage through the Balkans because they do not come from Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq</a>, their gaze brushes past the soldiers hindering them in a way their bodies currently cannot. They focus on their goal: the next border, and then the next, until they get to Germany, or the Netherlands, or Sweden, or wherever it is they're going. They say they are going to finish their journeys on their own terms. Europe must grant them entry, kill them, or let them die on the Greek border, but they will not go back.</p> <p class="Paragraph">"We wait until they open the border", says Amir, the unofficial spokesperson of the men on hunger strike. "We don't have any way back. If we come back to Iran, they will hang us. We prefer to die here." A couple people in the crowd mime nooses around their necks. Nobody laughs. "We don't have freedom [in Iran]", he says. "They don't allow us to do our work. If they catch you with your girlfriend, they put you in jail for two months. That is not freedom. We go to Europe because of that."</p> <p><iframe src=";color=00aabb&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" frameborder="no" scrolling="no" height="166" width="100%"></iframe></p> <h2>The strength of the perpetually vulnerable</h2> <p class="Paragraph">The stories are similar across the camp. Be they Iranian, Moroccan, Pakistani, or any other nationality, they left because of violence, state repression, a lack of economic opportunity, and an inability to conduct their lives as they please. The combination of these factors has compelled the men, women and children at Idomeni to leave their countries of birth, blurring the distinctions made between refugees and migrants.</p> <p class="Paragraph">The policy of Balkan countries to limit new entries to people from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan—which came into force last Wednesday (18 Nov) <a href="">ostensibly to crack down on "economic migrants"</a>—relies on different premises. It suggests that anyone not fleeing <em>two specific conflicts</em> can be safely assumed a mere 'job seeker' with no "well-founded fear of being persecuted [in their country of origin] for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion"—the basic definition of a refugee taken from the <a href="">1951 UN Refugee Convention</a>. Even by this extremely narrow definition of what constitutes legitimate cause for flight, however, there are still individuals within the camp that <em>could</em> qualify for asylum in Europe.</p> <p class="Paragraph">Mojtaba, 36, is a proof of concept. I find him standing in the (very long) queue for lunch, which today consists of a small bag of dried fruit, some biscuits, and a bottle of water compliments of Caritas. Like Amir, he left Iran because "there is no life in Iran. There is no freedom. There is no freedom of speech ... You cannot have a drink. You cannot have a girlfriend or boyfriend. There is nothing there". His belief that alcohol and interpersonal relationships are worthwhile pursuits—a demonstrably political opinion in Iran that could lead to persecution if practiced openly—is compounded by his choice to exit the Islamic faith. "I was Muslim, but I prefer not to be", he says, but "if you change your religion in Iran you will be dead". Apostates from Islam are indeed executed in Iran, and both European and American courts have <a href="">found this as acceptable grounds for asylum</a> in the past. Yet, as long as the recent policy change keeps Mojtaba sitting in a field, his specific case will not be reviewed for its merits in accordance with EU law.</p><p class="Paragraph"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="123" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo by Cameron Thibos.</span></span></span></p><p class="Paragraph">As much as it should, current asylum law does not extend protection to those escaping generalised climates of insecurity, fear, oppression, poverty, and economic exploitation. You must be <em>especially</em> targeted for persecution in accordance with the parameters laid out in the definition above. To be caught in a situation where your environment might easily kill you or marginalise you to the point of nullification doesn't make the cut. Quite the contrary. It is precisely the people fleeing contexts of <em>everyday</em> vulnerability and repression who are disparaged and locked out of protection frameworks by the greedy-sounding term 'economic migrant'. But these individuals are seeking security and dignity in Europe, which today necessarily includes employment, far more than streets of gold.</p> <p class="Paragraph">Abdullah, 19, identifies himself as stateless from Kuwait. He says his family was never able to attain Kuwaiti nationality even though he and his father were both born there. Without valid documents, "I cannot study. I can't work", he says. "I came here to find a life. I want a life! And I mean, by a life: bed, work, study. That's all I need. I don't know if I'm asking for a lot, but that's all I need".</p> <p class="Paragraph">While Abdullah's case might qualify him for asylum under existing law, he insists he left for more reasons than 'just' statelessness. It is the combination of his political exclusion, his fear of becoming collateral damage, and the economic and political realities of the Kuwaiti state that has forced him out. "We are not doing well in our countries. No money, no future, no nothing. And it's getting harder", he says. "You know they bombed a mosque. I have two [family members] who died there. ... They say 'Allahu akbar' and [they] bombed it, and you tell me that we are not refugees? Sorry we are. If we weren't, we wouldn't come here".</p> <p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";color=00aabb&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false"></iframe></p> <p class="Paragraph">Zahid is a 21-year-old former college student in Lahore, Pakistan who dropped out of his programme for lack of funds. Like Abdullah, he refuses to accept that poverty and the threat of violence must forever be a part of his life. "Many people sell their lands and houses to come here due to bomb blasting," he says. "There are daily bomb blastings in parks, schools, mosques. Even mosques!" He tells the story of an attack last December, when the <a href="">Pakistani Taliban massacred 132 students and nine staff in a school in Peshawar</a>. The fear of living within such an environment once again has combined with a need for work to drive him to leave. "In Pakistan there are no rules, no regulations, no food, no work, no study, no job, no electricity. Every kind of problem is available here," he says. </p> <p class="Paragraph">While the Iranians at Idomeni fear hanging if they return and the Moroccans fear imprisonment, Zahid says the Pakistani state will not punish them if they go back. But their creditors will. He and his co-nationals estimate it costs €5000 to get to Greece. Without decently paid work at home, they were only able to raise such sums by taking out loans from family, neighbours, and private money lenders. To return to Pakistan without the money for repayment would be to invite punishment. "We can't go back! How can we go back?" he asks in a voice tinged with stress. "We spent money and take borrows (<em>sic:</em> loans), and the peoples that borrowed (<em>sic</em>) money, they beat us!"</p> <h2>Why not Greece?</h2> <p class="Paragraph">The refugee population of Idomeni is intent on getting out of Greece and into western Europe. They have risked too much, endured too many difficulties, and are simply too fed up with their past lives and present circumstances to stop short of their goals now. When I ask why not apply for asylum in Greece, Zahid is adamant. "Any other country, maybe, but not here", he says. "We want to go again. Spain, Paris France, Italy, Germany, where our lives are safe". The experiences of those that have come before him, along with an awareness of Greece's current financial difficulties, have convinced Zahid that he will not find what he is looking for in Greece. The crowd of Pakistanis that surround us is full of stories of someone who had ended up in a Greek detention centre, or who was locked out of the medical system, or who was left waiting indefinitely for papers. Zahid praised the Greek people for their efforts and accommodation so far, but says, again and again, that he cannot remain in Greece.</p> <p class="Paragraph">Back at the tracks, Amir and his Iranian co-nationals continue their protest. "We are not criminals, we are just wanting freedom", he says. "We just want a free life. I'm a singer. They do not allow me to sing there". The drive to sing may not be covered by the UN Refugee Convention, but if Amir is willing to die for it in a Greek field then perhaps Europe should let him onto the stage.</p><p><em><span style="font-style: italic; line-height: 1.5;">If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking </span><em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em><span style="font-style: italic; line-height: 1.5;"> on </span><a href="" style="font-style: italic; line-height: 1.5;">Facebook</a><span style="font-style: italic; line-height: 1.5;"> and following us on Twitter </span><a href="" style="font-style: italic; line-height: 1.5;">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/cameron-thibos/border-games-and-their-pawns">Border games and their pawns</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ian-bancroft/return-of-balkan-solidarity">The return of Balkan solidarity?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/diana-ihring/you-are-border-not-us-greek-macedonia-border">You are the border, not us: Greek – Macedonia border</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? BeyondSlavery Can Europe make it? Greece Cameron Thibos Thu, 26 Nov 2015 18:56:57 +0000 Cameron Thibos 97966 at Belgrade Waterfront - the dark side of 'urban renewal' <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The development project known as the "Belgrade Waterfront" vividly illustrates the mechanisms of dispossession and exclusion in the Serbian 'transition progress'.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A protest against the Belgrade Waterfront. Source: Used with permission of author.</span></span></span><span>If you come to Belgrade by train, it is going to be a long and slow ride. As slow as the Serbian "transition" to whatever it was once supposed to become, leaving along the way a deindustrialized county, a dysfunctional railway and citizens impoverished and betrayed by promises of a better life.</span></p><p class="Standard">Once you do arrive at Belgrade Central Station you will be welcomed by the huge billboard which announces yet "a new era of prosperity for the Serbian capital." But this time it is not a promise to the citizens of Belgrade or Serbia, to those who still use trains or anyone else who might actually see advertisements on the streets of Belgrade. At its essence, the promotional image of Belgrade’s newest development is a cynical reminder of someone else's prosperity and better life, created out of public resources.</p> <p class="Standard">If you come to Belgrade by train, you will arrive directly at "the biggest construction site in Serbia," the plot of land which will in the future hold almost two million square meters of exclusive residential and commercial properties at the very heart of the city. This development, simply entitled Belgrade Waterfront, is supposed to completely displace the main train station further out of the centre and take "urban renewal to new heights." </p><p class="Standard">And while the need for redevelopment of this area on the riverbank of the Sava river is not disputed, its current scope, content and mechanisms are highly controversial. In fact, there have been hundreds of different proposals as to how the new city centre should emerge on both shores of the Sava. So when in 2012, the then mayoral-candidate (and now prime minister of Serbia) Aleksandar Vucic presented his vision, the most surprising part was not a new plan but the presence of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani who came to endorse the idea.</p> <p class="Standard">The first sign of the election campaign plans coming to fruition emerged some year a half later with the presentation of the investor – Mohamed Alabbar, a real estate developer from the United Arab Emirates whose newly-formed company Eagle Hills was introduced as a strategic partner in this “deal of the century.” </p><p class="Standard">The deal foresaw that Serbia will equip and invest the land, while the partner will put 3.5 billion dollars into the construction of luxurious residential units, hotels, the tallest commercial tower and the biggest shopping mall in the region as well as attract clients who will buy all this space. Apart from the share of the profit, the rationale behind giving away the city centre was justified with a renaissance of the economy: re-igniting the spark of the collapsed construction industry, the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and stimulating commerce and tourism.</p> <p class="Standard">Putting aside the lack of need for all these square meters, the capabilities of the Serbian construction industry to actually construct high-rises as well as how touristically viable they could ever be, one is left wondering how could an economic rebirth be achieved through short-term, low-paid construction jobs and an increase in trade of imported goods. </p><p class="Standard">Has political imagination shrunk so much that the best we can produce is a shopping mall in the city centre? The Belgrade Waterfront zealots are not leaving much space for critique. Whoever dares to question any aspect of the plans is forced into a false dialectics between “progress” and not doing anything, between shiny buildings and train and ship wrecks. </p><p class="Standard">In its most ironic manifestation, opponents of the project are compared by the prime minister with those who opposed the construction of the railways in the nineteenth century. What he fails to notice is that this “progress” is in fact removing that very railway from the city, replacing the achievements of modernism with “new cultural jewels [created] from historic buildings”.</p> <p class="Standard">And perhaps jewels are forever, but progress cannot wait. The speed and the arrogance with which everything related to the project is conducted is unprecedented. Belgrade Waterfront received its weekly promo show on the city's TV station before the deal was even made. Urban plans are being changed in advance of the passing of laws which would allow for such changes. Construction works on the riverbank are being done without the necessary permits. </p><p class="Standard">Cafes and food stands are put up without any legal grounds. A “healthy investment climate” is not asking the price! And the most vivid illustration of how cheap Serbian legislation is, came with the adoption of a special law (applicable only to this project) that allows expropriation of the land due to the commercial nature of the project. In a very rare occasion of the prime minister standing up to defend a law in parliament, Vucic proclaimed that anyone who intends to invest 100 million Euros would get a special deal. </p> <p class="Standard">Only after the contract was finally signed (with an even newer company called “Belgrade Waterfront Capital Investment LLC”), we learned how special this deal can be. Amongst other things, Serbia has committed to making all changes in the legislation “which are necessary or desirable, to give full effect to the provisions of this Agreement,” basically surrendering its sovereignty to a single investment programme. And the investment itself turned out to be much smaller:&nbsp;<span>150 million Euros provided by the “strategic partner”, while Serbia is taking out loans (from the same strategic partner) to invest a billion Euros worth of infrastructure (in addition to offering land and the existing buildings). All that, so that the profit from the real estate could be divided into a ratio of 68:32 in favour of the “strategic partner.”</span></p> <p class="Standard">And if that was not enough, the same profit ratio is guaranteed from selling the land to third parties, in case the strategic partner fails to meet deadlines (the first one being in 20 years). This means that there are no real incentives for the investor to even bother to build much, let alone reinvest in the project. And the fact that money for the first building is being raised through the selling of still non-existing apartments suggests that there is actually no investor. Whatever lies beneath and whoever profits in the end, one thing is certain – there is no benefit for the citizens of Serbia who will lose both land and at least a billion Euros worth of debt they cannot afford.</p> <p class="Standard">So, if you come to Belgrade by train, you will arrive at the epicentre of “a new era” in Serbia – one in which only bare natural resources like land and water are left to be privatised. And the only promises of a good life are redirected to those who can already afford them. It is a logical closure to the "transition," at the end of which you will not be able to reach the centre by train but could sail in on a yacht, if you can afford one.</p><p><em>See <a href="">here</a> for more information on the festival, and <a href="">click here</a> for more of openDemocracy's coverage of the event.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/daphne-b%C3%BCllesbach-radomir-lazovi%C4%87/looking-for-european-alternatives-in-belgrade">Looking for European alternatives in Belgrade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/adam-ramsay/homage-to-belgrade-reflections-on-2015-transeuropa-festival">Homage to Belgrade: reflections on the 2015 Transeuropa festival</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Serbia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Serbia Marko Aksentijević Transeuropa Thu, 26 Nov 2015 17:57:17 +0000 Marko Aksentijević 97952 at Playing with people’s emotions <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 21.6667px;">'Every time the western media decides what to air, and who to call a terrorist, they generate a lot of debate in our country.' A leading Pakistani digital rights activists on the politics of counter-terror and surveillance.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href=""><img width="460px" src="" alt="wfd" /></a></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="" alt="Protest against suicide bomb blast at a Karachi mosque." title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest against suicide bomb blast at a Karachi mosque, January 2015. Demotix/ ppiimages. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p><strong>Mary Fitzgerald:</strong> First of all, tell me how you came to be at the <a href="">World Forum for Democracy</a>? What is the work you do and why do you do it? </p> <p><strong>Nighat Dad:</strong> I founded a digital rights foundation in 2012 in Pakistan. But even before founding this organisation I was working on issues like internet freedom, privacy, freedom of expression, access to information, and involved in providing digital security training to journalists and activists, to young women and girls. </p> <p>I felt that it was very important, instead of working on an individual level, to start a foundation which provided a platform for people to talk about these issues, and also to raise awareness amongst the general public about digital freedoms, which I think is <i>very, very</i> important and relevant now because of the increase in internet users in Pakistan. Also, important in the light of the proposed regulations (and existing laws) which aim to control the internet and technologies, in the name of national security.</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Yes, you told me that using encryption is actually illegal in Pakistan? <span class="mag-quote-right">But then there is also a need to discuss the point at which that hateful speech becomes dangerous speech.</span></p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> Yes. There are some regulations that are written in a very vague and ambiguous language. It doesn't explicitly say that encryption is illegal: but it says that if you want to use encryption you have to get permission from the Pakistan telecommunication authority. Which actually spells death for encryption. The whole point of encryption is to be anonymous, right? The ambiguity of the legislation is really problematic and challenging. Nobody has ever been prosecuted under such legislation, but these sleeping provisions can be used against people who are being targeted by the security authorities.</p> <p><strong>Mary: </strong>This kind of vague catch-all legislation that can be used against you in ways that aren't yet quite defined – do you know of any other countries that are doing that?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> I know that the Indian IT Act of 2002 was also very problematic because it was supposed to deal with cyber crimes and the challenges around cyber space, but also contained some problematic provisions around censoring and blocking content while offering very vague terminology about whether something is anti-state or not. In Pakistan we would normally say anti-state is anti-army, obscene, immoral, anti–Islam... It was kind of similar to the provisions in the Indian Act as well. But at the same time it is very encouraging to see how the Supreme court of India actually struck those provisions from that law. Pakistan, however, is now going to propose the same kind of provisions in the Cyber Crime Bill to be discussed in our National Assembly very soon. <span class="mag-quote-left">In order to draw the line between hate speech and when this hate speech becomes violent speech, you need to see the social context as well.</span></p> <p><strong>Mary: </strong>We've heard a lot about protecting freedom of speech online – this is what you campaign for obviously – but what if that speech is hateful, if it's cruel, if it's abusive? Where do you draw the line?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> There is a lot of debate about when freedom of expression or the freedom of speech becomes hateful speech. But then there is also a need to discuss the point at which that hateful speech becomes dangerous speech. Lots of countries are now enacting legislation to control hate speech: but the interpretation of hate speech varies from person to person. </p> <p>I'll give an example from my country: again in the proposed Cyber Crime Bill, they have mentioned hate speech against minorities and vulnerable communities. But the language is so broad. So maybe my freedom of expression is hate speech for you and freedom of expression for someone else – it’s a very subjective term. There is existing legislation that, if governments and authorities wanted to actually implement it, they could use to control hate speech against minorities or hate speech against vulnerable groups. But if the existing legislation has never been implemented, what is the assurance that the new legislation or the proposed policies will actually control crimes like hate speech? That's something that I see in Pakistan, that the new laws are mostly aimed at controlling and regulating the internet. </p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Violence and abuse of women in Pakistan is a huge problem. Should speech that is incredibly hateful towards women, or speech that gets close to inciting that kind of action be included in the hate speech legislation? Where do you draw the line? This isn't a religious minority, this is half the population, and it’s a massive social problem across Pakistan. <span class="mag-quote-right">After that attack we witnessed how the government started making new legislation and changed the narrative around national security, making it more important than liberty.</span></p> <p><strong>Nighat: </strong>It’s a very tricky issue to deal with, but I always say that in order to draw the line between hate speech and when this hate speech becomes violent speech, you need to see the social context as well. I've been working on the issue of online harassment for a very long time in Pakistan, and have started doing educational campaigns. I feel that legislative responses are not always the best in dealing with such issues. Massive educational and awareness campaigns are really, really important, how women internet users can secure their communications and deal with these issues by themselves, instead of looking to prosecute, which is again a very, very challenging process for women in Pakistan. They are not always encouraged to go to police stations and file a report, or follow up with the authorities. And then, again, the agencies that are dealing with these issues are really not that popular. I suspect that if women are facing these kind of issues they would never go to federal investigations agencies (e.g. the cyber crime federal investigation agency) and report the crime there. </p> <p>But in our campaign, we are trying to raise awareness about how to use these spaces securely. </p> <p>I feel that the major reason for harassment and hate speech is because women don't actually know how to make their communications more secure, or how they can deal with harassment, or even how they can report the crime. So in this campaign we tell them how they can make their communications more secure and how they can report these things to the cyber crime agency. We are trying to build trust between the general masses and the security agencies, that: 'yes, actually they are dealing with the issues so you can report it, and if you don't report it, it wont be resolved.'</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> I hear in some of what you say that you can’t just legislate a problem away, and that actually government and civil society would make better use of their time trying to tackle this problem in other ways. Is that how you feel?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> There is lots of legislation around the issue, but what is lacking is the implementation of that legislation. We don’t need more laws around dealing with harassment, whether online or offline. The government and other authorities should put their energies into implementing existing legislation, because the problem with the introduction of new legislation is that they are doing favours for different authorities. </p> <p>In the proposed Cyber Crime Bill, the power goes to agencies, in the Anti-Terrorism Act the power goes to the police, in the Pakistan Protection Act the power goes to the army. And they are all dealing with the same issues. So it just confuses the citizens about where to go, and I think it’s very important that they exhaust their energies in implementing the existing legislation, instead of making new ones which are more and more problematic, and just aim to control the internet. </p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> We're here in France speaking about these issues of surveillance and security at a particularly tense moment. A poll came out just yesterday saying that 84% of French people would now prioritise security over liberty. Do you think that’s the right direction for France; do you think it’s even the right choice?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> I don't think so</p> <p><strong>Mary: </strong>Do you see it as a real choice?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> I actually don't think so. Unfortunately, just recently in Pakistan, in December 2014 there was a massive terrorist attack on a school where more than 100 children were killed. It was a very unfortunate and sad moment for Pakistan, and after that attack we witnessed how the government started making new legislation and changed the narrative around national security, making it more important than liberty. </p> <p>It was very easy to play with people's emotions because at that time the people were very emotional. They were saying that we need to combat terrorism, we need to deal with these terrorists, and we need to do this and that. At the same time, the follow up decisions made by the government were really problematic. They were making new laws and new committees about how to deal with terrorism. Then there was this national plan that was a temporary plan to deal with the security issues in Pakistan, and beneath this plan there was legislation that will be there forever to haunt our generations.</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Give an example of something particularly worrying to you.</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> For instance the Pakistan Protection Act...</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> What does that mean in practise?</p> <p><strong>Nighat: </strong>It means you are giving a lot of power to the military. Just imagine, in a democratic state like ours, if we are again going back to this institution which I totally respect, but we have seen lots of authoritarian regimes in Pakistan and I really don't want to see that again. </p> <p>So why not make decisions where we can see that democracy is there and that it’s prevailing? I'm seeing the same decisions taken by the European nations and by western societies after these terrorist attacks, and I think that they are setting very bad precedents for countries like ours where the argument is very easy for the developing nations: 'why can’t we do it, if the western democracies are already doing it?'. </p> <p>We are more vulnerable because we are developing countries, and secondly because we are the target of terrorists, we ourselves are fighting this war on terror. So the authorities can validate their argument and can easily change the narrative around national security, and can easily change people's minds.</p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> I noticed as well the terror attacks in Pakistan in 2014 provided an excuse to bring back the death penalty. And now there are an extraordinary number of people whose convictions are unsafe and they are being executed for crimes, which I understand is popular in Pakistan, but problematic?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> There was a lot of resistance. But honestly what I feel, Mary, is that the government changed people's minds so much after this terrorist attack on the school, that even people who think that the death penalty was wrong were actually supporting the decision. It’s very difficult for just a few people to challenge a government decision around the death penalty. But I don't know whether executing people can really solve any problem. <span class="mag-quote-left">Every time the western media make decisions on what to air, and who to call a terrorist, they actually generate a lot of debate in our country.</span></p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Why is it that the western media only calls those who abuse the name of Islam terrorists? Why wasn't Dylann Roof called a terrorist, why wasn't Breivik called a terrorist?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> These are the choices that the western media makes. Every time they make decisions on what to air, and who to call a terrorist, they actually generate a lot of debate in our country. I don't know how to respond to that. But can I mention what happened yesterday? </p> <p>My family was terrified that I was coming to France. We have seen that there have been some incidents against Muslims, and yesterday I was on a tram. The tram was full and there was this man sitting down: the seat next to him was empty. I wasn't intending to sit there, but when he saw me he actually put his hand on the seat, so that he didn't have to sit next to me. And I felt so bad. I thought to myself, I cannot even resist that. I actually could sense the hate towards me. But I'm lucky that I'm going back to Pakistan. I could sense that hate, it was very difficult for me, to be on the tram for another 5-10 minutes. I actually could sense the hate towards me. <span class="mag-quote-right">But I'm lucky that I'm going back to Pakistan. I could sense that hate, it was very difficult for me, to be on the tram for another 5-10 minutes.</span> I could imagine the kind of hate that Muslims are now facing in the aftermath of these incidents. </p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> Four people who operated drone attacks came out over the weekend and said that the number of civilian casualties was much higher than as reported by the press and the authorities, and they said it was creating more enemies for America than it was removing. It was very brave, I think of them, that they came out and said that and could be facing all kinds of ramifications for doing that, given their position. You live in Pakistan, which is the focus of so many of these drone attacks. Does their analysis bear out for you?</p> <p><strong>Nighat:</strong> There are different discourses around drone attacks, one part of society believes that it's right, and that that's how we can put a stop to the terrorists. But at the same time there is a huge discourse about whether this violates the sovereignty of the country. And also, how they decide that they are actually killing terrorists? For the operators, it’s like a videogame, where they are killing people without knowing who their targets actually are. And I'm not sure that their target is right every time. </p> <p>There are so many families who have been affected by these drone attacks, there are so many children who are being disabled, and they can’t even go for a legal remedy because when they go to the Supreme Court even, they cannot prevent it happening. Drones are being operated from the outside, but no drone can be operated without the permission of the sovereign authority in Pakistan. The people are just helpless. </p> <p>The numbers of those affected by these drones are in the hundreds. It’s not just the US that is operating a drone programme in Pakistan, but also countries like Germany: giving their own land to operate these attacks. The responsibility goes to all these western nations. I’m so lucky I can come to these international panels to talk about the issues and talk about my people and the challenges that we face. But also I feel that people in Pakistan are being affected, and no one is there to listen to them. </p> <p><strong>Mary:</strong> That's why you're here. Thank you.</p> <div style="background-color: #f9f3ff; width: 460px; padding: 14px; float: right; margin-left: 14px; border-top: solid 3px #DAC2EA;"> <div style="margin-bottom: 8px;"><span style="font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 8px;">This article is published as part of an openDemocracy editorial partnership with the <a href="">World Forum for Democracy</a>. The insights gathered during the annual Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy inform the work of the Council of Europe and its numerous partners in the field of democracy and democratic governance.</span></div></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="wfd" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="">World Forum for Democracy</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Pakistan </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> EU Pakistan Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics World Forum for Democracy Mary Fitzgerald Nighat Dad Thu, 26 Nov 2015 17:26:12 +0000 Mary Fitzgerald and Nighat Dad 97962 at Crimea needs a cure <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img style="float: right;" src="" alt="" width="160" /></p><p>DIY diagnoses, shortages of basic medical supplies, drugs and doctors. This is healthcare in annexation Crimea.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span>2015 has seen an increasing shortage of goods in Crimea and, with the approach of winter, one sector where this is most acutely felt is healthcare: essential medical supplies are in short supply; major hospitals are even running out of bandages.</span></p><p>The range of foodstuffs available in Crimea’s shops has changed completely since March 2014, although products from Ukraine are still getting through (usually by sea across neutral waters). Indeed, suppliers are happy: the mark-up on foodstuffs is higher than on most other goods. No essentials have disappeared, but prices have risen by 30-40% compared to those on mainland Ukraine. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">Food prices in Crimea have risen by 30-40% compared to those in Ukraine </p><p>According to official figures, the number of private firms operating on the peninsula has fallen from 137,000 (January 2014) to just 22,000 (January 2015). </p><p>Business people cite a lack of state support in the transition period and problems with distribution as their main reasons for leaving. Crimeans, however, have been able to set up a ‘shuttle’ system for delivering both food products and other essentials, such as medical supplies, from Ukraine. </p><p>When Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar organisations gathered at the provisional border between Ukraine and Crimea in the mid-September to block lorry traffic, it was clear that prices were going to rise still further. </p><p>‘On the first day of the blockade, there were 620 trucks stuck at the border, but they had all dispersed by the third or fourth day,’ Artyom Skoropadsky, one of the demonstrators tells me. </p><p>‘After that, nobody tried to get through the Chongar border crossing, although they were still attempting to cross at the other two, but by the end of the week the 18-wheelers had given up completely.’</p><h2>Medical supplies </h2><p>Ukrainian medical supply companies say that they were able to deliver their products to Crimean hospitals and pharmacies until summer 2014, despite an unspoken ban on any goods being sold to public bodies in the peninsula. The import of any medical drugs, however, has been impossible since the start of 2015.</p><p>‘I’ve never trusted Ukrainian or Russian drugs, or Indian ones either, so I can’t compare them,’ says Maksim, a supplier of medical products to Crimea, who refuses to allow his real name to be used as his contract forbids him to talk to journalists.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ukrainian medical supply companies say that they were able to deliver their products to Crimean hospitals and pharmacies until summer 2014. eltpics / Flickr. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span><span>‘I always preferred to deal in original or good quality generic European drugs. Russian-produced medication is less effective than imported, but that’s always been the case. Nothing irreplaceable has disappeared, apart from Ukrainian brands, possibly, you can easily find Russian or imported versions. It’s all just a question of price or whether you have a prescription.’</span></p><p>Regardless, there is no question of protest against the Crimean government, no more marches or rallies. The last protest action planned was to be against Sergei Menyailo, governor of Sevastopol, but it was cancelled under the pretext of holding a concert instead. </p><p>There are no campaign groups organising protests or pickets, Many civic activists left Crimea after film-maker and local activist Oleh Sentsov was arrested in May 2014.</p><h2>The hunt for medicines… </h2><p>When Crimea was part of Ukraine, medicines were nominally supplied free at health centres, but due to lack of funding people usually had to buy them at pharmacies, or pay market rates for them in hospital. Private clinics also existed, but their numbers fell after the new Russian authorities nationalised them: their buildings and equipment seized by the Crimean government.</p><p>Since the start of 2015, there have been reports of mass radiography machines no longer working: the Feodosiya and Yevpatoriya regions could no longer afford to repair them, as all replacement parts had to be bought in Ukraine. The main problem remains, however, the lack of essential drugs in pharmacies and getting them to Crimea.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="" alt="" title="" width="452" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sevastopol's central Pirogov hospital. CC WikiMediaCommons.</span></span></span><span>Yekaterina Kovalyova has lived in Sevastopol for 50 years. Her son moved to Kyiv after annexation, so now whenever she visits him she brings medicines back for her friends.</span></p><p>‘I couldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself,’ says Yekaterina. ‘The medicine I needed wasn’t from Denmark, but produced under licence in Russia. I took it for four days, it didn’t help. I went to the pharmacy again, bought the same stuff—this time made in France and three times the price—and that has worked. That wasn’t much of a bother, the main problem is antibiotics: they didn’t check luggage at the border before, but now they check everything, and I have to bring an enormous amount of medication. I have four different diagnoses and no border official is going to get their head round all my prescriptions. </p><p>‘If I didn’t worry about the inspections… The last time I went I had a huge list of medicines that friends wanted me to find for them, and they all wanted ten packs of everything.’ </p><h2>…and lack of doctors</h2><p>Another problem for residents of Crimea has been the transition to the Russian health insurance system, where medicines are free. But doctors, including specialists, are resigning or losing their jobs to cuts. </p><p>To get a referral to a specialist, you need to first get an appointment with an ordinary doctor, and even that’s not easy: ‘There are enormous waiting lists to see doctors,’ Yekaterina tells me. ‘I needed a cardiologist, but when I arrived at the health centre it turned out he’d resigned. There are four doctors to cover 14 neighbourhoods. It was never like this before.’ You can now wait five hours to see a doctor.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="317" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>April 2014: Russian health minister Veronika Skvortsova visits the Central Black Sea Hospital in Simferopol. (c) Taras Litvinenko / VisualRIAN.</span></span></span></p><p class="mag-quote-right">There are four doctors trying to cover 14 neighbourhoods in Sevastopol</p><p>Life isn’t easy for people needing post-operative medication either. I talk to Vladimir, 60, Sevastopol born and bred, on Skype—he recently had an operation to remove part of his thyroid gland. </p><p>‘The operation wasn’t a complete success, and I need to take calcium supplements,’ Vladimir tells me. ‘For some reason, the medication I need has to be ordered from Ukraine. When you take your prescription to the pharmacy, they tell you you’ll have to wait. They have the same supplements in Russia, but the chemists in Sevastopol still order it through Ukraine. I don’t know why, but it makes no difference to me.’ </p><p>Not all stories end happily, however. Vitaly works as a computer programmer in Kyiv. He moved there from Crimea long before annexation, but his pensioner parents stayed on in Sevastopol. Two months ago, Vitaly’s father took ill, but was misdiagnosed. He didn’t receive the right treatment and he died. </p><p>‘It was just horrific,’ Vitaly tells me. ‘When my father had his first attacks, he was rushed to hospital three times. The first time they diagnosed thrombophlebitis, the second, suspected cirrhosis. The third time they just said: ”We’ll prescribe Analgin [a common painkiller], you won’t get anything else in Crimea”. After three days they discharged him and he died four days later.’ </p><h2>No dressings in the dressing room </h2><p>The first thing Crimea demand is free treatment under the state health insurance system. If they don’t get the services they need, they phone the ‘Aksyonov hotline’ (named after Sergei Aksyonov, prime minister of the Crimean government), and complain about the doctors. The doctors get a reprimand, the patients – an answer on a printed form.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>On 22 November, Crimea's power lines to mainland Ukraine were cut, leaving the peninsula in darkness. Max Vetrov / VisualRIAN.</span></span></span><span>Crimea’s Ministry of Health puts the number of medical specialists working on the peninsula at 44,642. But its bureaucrats admit that they lack enough doctors: there are currently 860 unfilled posts, whilst the number of patients using the system has risen by 25% in comparison with last year. The authorities, however, do not admit to medicines being in short supply.</span></p><p class="mag-quote-left">There are 860 unfilled medical posts, whilst the number of patients has risen by 25% in a year</p><p>Doctors working in Crimea say that supplies of Ukrainian medicines began to run out long before the blockade, when suppliers in Ukraine broke their contracts with the peninsula’s pharmacies and hospitals without any explanation. Though hospitals still had some supplies in their stores, officials suddenly started organising ‘raids’ to find and seize them. </p><p>Since 2010, Ukraine had been receiving medical supplies from international NGOs as part of ‘humanitarian aid’, and some of them were stored away in case of emergencies. </p><p>But now Crimea, as part of Russia, no longer receives any aid and all medical supplies must come from Russia, or at least be registered in Russia. </p><p>‘The “raiding parties” consisted of hospital staff, led by the senior nursing officer,’ Dmitry (not his real name), a doctor with 10 years of experience at Sevastopol’s central hospital, tells me.</p><p> ‘They systematically removed all the Ukrainian medication from the stores which had expired, as well as what was left from US and Dutch aid of a decade ago. There were also arguments about their work: they unearthed some second-rate Indian medication and sent it up to some department, where it had to be given to patients even though it did more harm than good.’</p><p>According to Dmitry, the system for delivering medical supplies to Crimea has still not been sorted out. Often a patient will start taking one antibiotic, and then the hospital will run out of it and he or she will be given a different one. </p><p>‘Half of the Russian medical products that we’ve seen are simply not as good as the ones produced in Ukraine,’ he says. ‘Some take you right back to Soviet times: ampoules with no volumes marked on them, pills in paper packets, infusion solutions in glass bottles. Even the little saws to cut the bottles open don’t work, not to mention the quality of the actual medication.’ </p><p>‘People in Crimea don’t always realise how difficult their position is, and that “free healthcare” doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the right medication in hospital,’ says Dmitry. </p><p class="mag-quote-right">‘Shortage’ is an everyday word for doctors in Crimea</p><p>‘You can’t schedule treatment or an operation in advance any more,’ he complains. ‘Your patient needs to arrive in an ambulance, and even then you need permission. It’s unbelievable: it’s an emergency, but you still need to fill in a form in the name of the hospital management.’ </p><p>‘Shortage’ (defitsit) is an everyday word for doctors in Crimea. ‘Even dressings and bandages are in short supply. Deliveries by sea are unreliable. You have bandages, cotton wool gloves and antiseptics for barely a week, and they need to last a month,’ the doctor tells me. </p><p>‘Even when we were in Ukraine and the patients would buy everything in a pharmacy themselves, from a list, there was a minimum supply of essentials in the dressing room. But now the department head has to bring a tube of salve for a patient.’</p><h2>DIY diagnosis?</h2><p>Diagnosis is also complicated by a lack of essential equipment and tests. Testing for and treating allergies, for example, is not done as well as it used to be. Immunolog, a company based in Vinnitsya, central Ukraine, produces diagnostic allergens for use in prick tests and for allergen-specific immunotherapy. Now patients have to get hold of the allergen kits themselves, but it’s an almost impossible task. </p><p>‘You have to transport the bottle in a refrigerated container,’ says Dmitry’s colleague Vladimir. ‘Even before the blockade, the Russian border guards wouldn’t let them through—we tried several times. Now allergy diagnosis takes place in a lab, which is less accurate and slower for both the doctor and the patient.’</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Multiple electric poles that serve the Russian-annexed peninsula have been detonated on the Ukrainian mainland. (c) Sergii Kharchenko / Demotix. </span></span></span><span>Cancer specialist Vitaly works in a state hospital in Crimea’s capital Simferopol, and he is careful about criticising Russian medications. He admits there is a problem, but doesn’t see it as a serious one.</span></p><p>‘Russian products are lower quality,’ he tells me. ‘Our pharmacological industry is relatively new and this can’t help affecting the quality of its products. Taken as a whole, it’s inferior to those of developed European countries. But I can’t tell you any stories about a medicine not working and someone dying, or a Russian product being swapped for an imported one and someone living. There may well have been situations of that type, but you would need a group of specialists to analyse them.’ </p><h2>Life without drug replacement therapy </h2><p>In early 2015, the UN discussed the deaths of seven drug-dependent patients in Crimea. They had been receiving drug replacement therapy in the form of methadone and Buprenorphine since 2005. In Russia, this form of treatment is illegal, and rehabilitation relies on detoxification. </p><p>There were 803 users registered on Crimea’s drug replacement programme, and after annexation they lost access to methadone. Some left Crimea and continued the programme in Ukraine, some went back to using hard drugs, and some died. Now, at the end of 2015, there is no Crimean organisation openly keeping a record of drug users’ deaths. </p><p>‘About 60 people who had been on a drug replacement programme have moved to Ukraine,’ Tatiana Klimenko, an aide to the Russian Minister of Health. ‘And 650 users are under medical observation. One could say that they are in remission.’ </p><p>Crimea’s authorities are refusing, however, to reveal to the press the number of drug users from the discontinued methadone programme who have died this year. </p><p>The peninsula now has the For a Sober Crimea Foundation, an NGO that organises therapeutic camps for drug users, providing them with psychological support during detoxification. The organisation tells me that up to 15 people contact the foundation every month. </p><p>Unfortunately, the treatment the organisation offers isn’t free: many users and their families simply can’t afford it. </p><h2>Life without light</h2><p>There’s been power cuts in Crimea before, but not like this. According to Elena from Sevastopol, she couldn’t take a planned MRI scan due to the power shortages. ‘There’s MRI machines in town, but there’s been power cuts, they haven’t explained why, and now the machine has to be recalibrated. The specialists can’t come out and do this for another month.’</p><p>After <a href="">the peninsula’s main power lines were cut on 22 November</a>, however, when unknown individuals blew up pylons near the Ukrainian border with Crimea, and hospitals are now facing a survival scenario. Some departments are working on back-up generators, and doctors are treating people in the dark according to some patients I’ve spoken to. Diagnostic procedures and operations are now delayed.</p><p>But in Crimea there’s children and adults who depend on ventilation machines to survive: volunteers from Moscow are assisting, though, with the purchase of reserve generators. </p><p>According to information from Crimea’s government, the authorities are planning to fix the problem before the middle of December. Sources involved in building the Russian state’s ‘electricity bridge’ over the Kerch straits believe that the power cuts will continue into summer 2016—even after the bridge comes online.</p><p><em>Standfirst image: Kostyrno psychiatric hospital, Kerch. laura ilyina / flickr. Some rights reserved.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/anton-shekhovtsov/crimean-blockade-how-ukraine-is-losing-crimea-for-third-time">The Crimean blockade: how Ukraine is losing Crimea for the third time</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/dzhemil-insafly/keeping-crimeas-muslims-in-check">Keeping Crimea&#039;s Muslims in check</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Ksenia Babich Ukraine Russia Health Thu, 26 Nov 2015 14:35:53 +0000 Ksenia Babich 97956 at