KryssTal opinions sent by e-mail to various organsiations and responses (if any)
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9 June 2004: to the Independent over a discussion about the benefits of UK membership of Europe:
I would prefer to be an equal partner in Europe rather than a lapdog to the USA.
8 June 2004: to the Independent on the eve of the UN passing a resolution about Iraq:
So that's it then.
The UN has finally been destroyed as a credible international force. By agreeing to legitimise the US invasion of Iraq, the organisation has lost what little credibility it had. Nobody in Iraq or in other Middle Eastern countries will now accept the UN as an "honest broker" in any conflict.
Our media help the legitimisation by talking of the "new Iraqi government", forgetting that it was essentially appointed by the US and the previous US-appointed body. As predicted, it has already requested the US to run Iraq's "security".
Again, the USA gets what it wants while the rest of the world stands by.
Shame on you all.
Note: This letter was published on 10 June (except for the final line).
6 June 2004: to the Independent on the death of USA ex-president Ronald Reagan about the media coverage:
I was interested to hear about Ronald Reagan's legacy as US president between January 1981 and the end of 1988. Most commentators have concentrated on positives like the end of the Cold War. Reagan's administration was also responsible for many atrocities and violations during his period in office. The examples below are only a sample.
In El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the US trained and armed death squads which murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians. The US spent millions financing the Contras to destabilise Nicaragua. The country's ports were illegally mined and a World Court ruling in favour of Nicaragua was ignored. Thousands died and the country was battered into submission until a government agreeable to the US was elected. Grenada was invaded for the installation of a pro-US government; hundreds died.
The US supported apartheid South Africa while it attacked and destabilised neighbouring states. Uncounted numbers were killed including 100,000 who died in Mozambique alone between 1982 and 1983.
Lebanon was invaded by Israel with at least 17,500 deaths while the US stood by. Palestinian leaders had to leave Beirut following promises by US envoy, Philip Habib, of protection for their families - nearly 2000 died in the Sabra and Chatilla massacres that followed. Israel continued to occupy the south of Lebanon for 20 years while continuing to be supported and armed by the US.
Iraq was armed and encouraged to invade Iran. A million people died, including thousands of Kurds gassed with US supplied chemicals. Reagan's representative in Iraq at the time was a certain Donald Rumsfeld. Both Libya and Iran were attacked several times during the 1980s, including the shooting down of an Iranian passenger airliner. Turkey oppressed its Kurdish minority who live in the eastern part of the country where the US has bases; no criticism was made while thousands were killed.
Finally, the US under Ronald Reagan began the policy of financing Islamic fighters in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet invasion. These groups would eventually evolve into Al-Qaida.
Now, that's a legacy to remember.
22 May 2004: to the BBC after a national IQ test:
Answer to a question: "Night, Mourn, and Berry are associated with Black"
This is a culturally discriminating question. In some Asian cultures, the colour of mourning is white.
21 May 2004: to Channel 4 TV after a report by Lindsay Hilsum on house demolitions in Gaza was shown at prime time:
Your report on the house demolitions in Rafah was excellent. It is about time these crimes against humanity were filmed and shown in the West during prime time. The Israeli military's initial denials changing to a grudging admission were very instructive.
Obviously life is so difficult in Gaza that people are leaving in droves.
One question strikes me. Is this not ethnic cleansing?
20 May 2004: to the BBC after a report on the "handover of power" in Iraq:
"We have no idea who is going to run the country after the handover! - Mat Freii, taking about Iraq.
I know the answer to the that one: The Americans will continue to run the country.
Why are you not covering Order 39 and the New Constitution? That tells us all we need to know.
8 May 2004: to the Independent after the photographs of prisoner abuse in Iraq were published:
Sir / madam,
In your Saturday editorial (Abuse, apologies and America's struggle to recover its lost authority) you say "..none of this will restore the good name of the United States.."
What good name?
The USA is the country that killed 3 million people with blanket bombing in Indo-China during the 1960s and 1970s? It is the country that has been behind violent and detrimental regime changes in dozens of countries since World War II, including Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Panama, Granada, and most recently, Haiti. It is the country that has armed, financed, trained and supported some of the world's worst regimes in recent times (Suharto's Indonesia, Papa Doc's Haiti, 1980s El Salvador, undemocratic Saudi Arabia, violent Colombia and most recently authoritarian Uzbekistan). It is the country that has bombed dozens of countries from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Cambodia to Sudan. It is the country that turned a blind eye while Kurds were being killed in Turkey and Palestinians were being dispossessed.
All that has happened with the publication of these photographs is that the people of the USA and of its allies in Europe have seen a side of the USA that most of the rest of the world has had to live with for years.
Note: This letter was published on 11 May.
16 April 2004: to the Independent after Al-Qaida offred Europe a truce:
Since 1915 no Middle East country has done any of the following to any European country:
Invaded by land or sea
Placed a pro-Arab monarch on a European throne
Removed a democratically elected government
Bombed from the air
Dispossessed thousands of people
Occupied and confiscated land
Annexed land belonging to Europeans
Europe, on the other hand, has done all of these things (and more) to the mainly Arab lands of the Middle East beginning with the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 that divided Arab land between France and the UK after T E Lawrence had promised the Arabs independence.
Our many massacres have occurred in:
Syria (thousands by France)
Lebanon (over 30,000 by supporting several Israeli and USA invasions)
Palestine (mainly UK but also for not speaking out against Israeli policies)
Egypt (tens of thousands by UK and France)
Iraq (invasion in 1917 and legitimising USA invasion of 2003 - possibly half a million and counting)
Libya (thousands by Italy)
Algeria (a million by France)
Yemen (thousands by UK when it was called Aden)
If we add the removal of the democratic government in Iran (non-Arab but close to the Arab world) by UK (with the USA) in 1953, the military, financial and political support for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran in the 1980s (a million killed) and European activities in Afghanistan (beginning with the Russian invasion of 1979 - close to half a million killed including the recent invasion by USA backed by Europe), the support and arming of totalitarian monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and the betrayal of the Kurds (over 50,000), the list of crimes against this region is horrendous. And it's not just Muslims that have been victims. European countries have mainly refused to treat the deaths of a million (Christian) Armenians in eastern Turkey (1915) as genocide because it would upset NATO ally, Turkey.
Arabs have been fighting back for the last 20 years. The offer of a truce is a generous one. What they are saying is "don't colonise and abuse us and we won't bomb you".
I think that is very fair.
14 December 2003: to the Independent after the capture of former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein:
Saddam Hussein has been captured. He should, of course, be tried in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity: genocide, gassings of civilians, invading Iran and Kuwait, etc. The problem is that the USA is one of the few countries not to have signed up to this court. Any other trial would look like a lynch mob.
The USA is taking all the credit for his capture. None of the news reports have mentioned the fact that the USA and UK armed and supported him politically throughout the 1980s and are partially responsible for many of his crimes including the use of gas against Iranians and Kurds.
21 November 2003: to the BBC after a news story praising Turkish democracy:
While you are praising Turkey's democracy as a model for the Middle East, you fail to take into account their oppressive and genocidal policies towards their large Kurdish minority, their use of torture against dissidents and their illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus in violation of several UN resolutions.
10 November 2003: to the BBC after a TV program by Jeremy Bowen about Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat:
I watched your program about Yasser Arafat.
Before I continue let me remind you that:
Israel is occupying Palestine. That is a basic asymmetry in this conflict. Western reporting tends to obscure this fact. Israel is confiscating land and removing their occupants (called "ethnic cleansing" elsewhere). This is not considered as a cause of the violence in the region. Israel is never asked about this in the Western media. Israel continues to blow up homes at a moment's notice. The BBC and the rest of the Western world mainly ignore this. Israel continues to violate the Geneva Conventions in the West Bank with collective punishments. USA's friends can do that with impunity.
This is, therefore, an uneven conflict. While the Israelis use the latest aircraft (with parts from the UK), helicopter gunships, tanks, siege tactics (called "closures") to attack and kill thousands of Palestinian civilians, the Palestinians use their own bodies to kill (hundreds of) Israeli civilians. If the Palestinians had weapons like Israel they probably wouldn't use suicide bombing tactics. As Cherie Blair tried to say before being muzzled, the Palestinians must be desperate!
Yasser Arafat has been defending his people for 40 years. Of course he is no saint. But what about Ariel Sharon's past. Remember Sabra and Chatilla?
The little money that Palestinians get from whatever sources is covered by your programme but no mention of the enormous amounts received by Israel from the USA. You failed to compare and contrast.
Until the Palestinians have a just peace this conflict will not end. Europe, the United Nations and the rest of the world must stand up to the USA and become involved. There must be UN monitors on the ground.
All the UN resolutions vetoed by the USA must be publicised. They were not even mentioned. The map of Israeli settlements ( the key to the whole conflict) is very rarely shown on mainstream TV or the newspapers. Why not? When I show it to people, their understanding of the conflict increases.
The Palestinians are being blamed for being the occupied. Hamas, Al Aksa and the other groups are a resistance to this occupation. As you mentioned, they are supported by many Palestinians. We, no doubt, would be willing to sacrifice ourselves for our country if we were being occupied. Where is the empathy for these people? If Churchill can say "we will fight them on the beaches" and "we will never surrender" why cannot Arafat say the same.
Yasser Arafat's job is not to police his own people for the Israelis. It is to gain for them the 22% of historical Palestine as a contiguous and viable state. Something that Israel and the USA are resisting with any excuse they can find. Much of the reporting of this conflict helps this agenda.
I look forward to your program on Ariel Sharon and his activities on prime time.
10 October 2003: to Channel 4 News after a long news item about whales:
Dear Channel 4 News,
On Wednesday, 8 October, your 7 o'clock news carried a wonderfully moving story about distressed whales. Evidently, when these whales come close to a UK naval base which uses underwater sonar, it distresses them so much that they beach themselves. Several dozen have died recently and your report warned viewers that some of the scenes may be distressing.
The story was interesting and very moving. And it went on for 10 minutes.
This means that you were unable to cover other stories of the day.
One such story was the fact that the Israeli air force flew jets over Lebanon. The jets flew as far north as the capital, Beirut, where they broke the sound barrier as they manoeuvred menacingly over the city. One wonders how distressed the Lebanese population of the city were.
If a whale in UK waters attacks a UK naval base, we will know the reasons. If a Lebanese citizen attacks Israel we will not have the background to understand why. We can then accuse the Arabs of being terrorists. This will, no doubt, please the Americans who see the world and its people in black and white terms.
12 September 2003: to all the UK terrestrial television stations:
A few months ago (after a documentary by David Aaranovich called "Blaming the Jews") I wrote to many of you about the way that some human tragedies (for example, the terrorist attacks on the USA and the killing of Jews in Europe) are covered regularly in films and prime time TV documentaries. On the other hand, other tragedies (for example, the plight of the Palestinians or the genocide in East Timor) are hardly covered at all. And when they are, the program is transmitted at a late hour when nobody (except me) is watching.
This was admirably proved on 11 September 2003.
This was the 30th anniversary of the military coup in Chile that ended 150 years of democracy.
Just to remind you: the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was violently removed by General Agusto Pinochet. His 17 year long brutal regime that followed the coup killed several thousand people. Others were tortured and many were exiled. The one USA movie made about the period ("Missing" with Jack Lemon and Sissy Spacek) was (typically) about an American student who was killed and his father's attempts to recover the body.
In Chile it is a pivotal moments in their 170 year history. Yesterday there were memorials and debates on the issue both in Chile itself and in many other places.
The UK has 5 terrestrial TV channels and none of them could even spare a half hour to go over the events of 11 September 1973 and to discuss the implications, even at a silly hour. No mention was made of the role played by USA president Richard Nixon and his advisor Henry Kissinger. Their active involvement is now very well documented since the declassification of many key government and CIA documents. An ex Prime Minster of the UK (we know who she is) called the leader of the coup the "saviour of Chilean democracy" and "a friend to Britain".
But instead there was nothing - silence. We go from over-covering some selected tragedies to completely ignoring others. No wonder, our knowledge of the world is so limited.
10 September 2003: to The Independent and Guardian letters pages for publication on 11 September 2003:
On this fateful day, the enemies of freedom struck a blow against democracy. Thousands were killed as terror reigned over the land. Sons, daughters, husbands and wives disappeared never to be seen again. Even now, the scars still remain embedded in the hearts of the people.
Yes, on this fateful day, exactly 30 years ago, 150 years of democracy ended in Chile. The elected government of Salvador Allende was toppled by a military coup that put General Agusto Pinochet in power. He would rule the land for the next 17 years as a brutal dictator. People were rounded up off the streets, tortured and killed; many simply vanished. The most famous victim was the folk singer, Victor Jara, who was shot and dumped in the street by the army.
As we mourn all victims of terror, let us remember that this coup (like many before and since) was planned, financed and supported by the USA.
6 September 2003: Mary Dejevsky, journalist for The Independent:
Your piece in Saturday's Independent was excellent.
You articulated something I have been feeling for several months now. Our (that is, UK) influence has diminished as other nations know that the real power is in the USA and we appear unable to act without USA approval. I agree that France and Germany are now in a better position than the UK to influence the USA's policies in Iraq. Even after poodling to the Americans, all the reconstruction contracts are going to USA companies and our citizens still languish in the legal limbo of Guantanamo Bay.
One thing I must disagree with is your use of the emotive word "terrorist". If civilian targets are attacked then, yes, these are terrorist acts. However, attacks on (occupying) military targets and on economic targets like pipelines are not terrorist acts but acts of resistance by an occupied people. Especially as the reasons given for the invasion are being shown to be fabrications.
Further, since our government did lie to the British people and to the UK Parliament in order to further the interests of a foreign power (the USA in its invasion of Iraq), can treason charges be brought to bear?
5 September 2003: to The Independent letters page:
It is now becoming clear how much Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Geoff Hoon lied to Parliament and to the British people about the threat Iraq posed to this country. This was done to further the needs and policies of the United States. Since the USA is a foreign power, will treason charges be brought to bear?
29 August 2003: To John Rentoul, journalist for The Independent:
In your article you say that Tony Blair was sitting pretty "after a successful war which deposed of a ghastly dictator with fewer casualties than feared".
The best figures I have found is for about 10,000 dead.
Either you are incredibly callous if you think that the deaths of ten thousand people is a small number or else you are ignoring the Iraqi casualties which is quite a racist thing to write.
Thank you for your email. I value contributions from readers.
On this occasion I think you may have misinterpreted what I wrote. I did not say 10,000 deaths was a small number. I do not know how many people were killed in the Iraq war, although it is unlikely to have been more than 10,000. As you rightly quote my article, it said there were "fewer casualties than feared". I was thinking of the well publicised estimate before the war that a US-led invasion of Iraq would result in 100,000 civilian casualties. Sad as any deaths are, the death toll in the war was considerably lower than that. I was, in any case, summarising what I thought Tony Blair's attitude was.
I hope this helps.
Second email (29 August 2003):
Thank you for your prompt reply.
Too many media outlets only deem Western casualties important but I accept that was not your intention.
Keep up the analyses.
27 August 2003: To the BBC after the screening of a documentary, "The Trial of Henry Kissinger":
I thought it might be interesting and revealing by its late time slot.
24 August 2003: To several UK news broadcasters:
With the summer season (Northern Hemisphere) up and running in the UK, the media and government is doing their best to keep our minds occupied on trivia. To help our journalists and politicians focus a little, I have taken the trouble to prepare a list of questions that I, personally, would like to see asked and then (hopefully) answered.
Ali Ismail Abbas is the young Iraqi boy who had his arms blown off and has been treated in Kuwait and the UK in the full glare of the media. How many other Iraqi children are in a similar situation away from the media's view? Why was the UK not criticised for using cluster bombs and why was the USA not criticised for using napalm in a country whose population is around 50% children? How many Iraqis have died from unexploded ordinance since the end of the invasion?
Is it true that between 15 and 25 Iraqis are being killed by the Anglo-American forces every day in Iraq? How many Iraqi soldiers and civilians were killed during the invasion?
If the USA and UK are taking credit for "liberating" Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime why are they not taking the blame for having armed and supported the same regime between 1980 and 1989? This includes the period when the regime gassed its Kurdish population.
Why is the USA being allowed to give contracts for Iraq's reconstruction to USA companies without the agreement of Iraqis? Why is the UK criticism of the USA centred around the fact the UK companies are "not getting their share" rather than on whether the USA has the right to award Iraq's contracts unilaterally?
Where are Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction"? Why did the UK defy the international community and its own population to follow the USA invasion of Iraq?
Israel / Palestine
Palestinian leaders are always being asked when they are going to stop their violence. When will Israeli leaders be asked when are they going to stop assassinations, house demolitions, settler activity, land confiscation, sieges of towns and cities, expropriation of water resources and, indeed, the 35 year long occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights?
Why are Palestinians being asked to disarm when Israel is the largest recipient of USA arms aid and has the largest arsenal of weapons (including nuclear) in the region? Why is the UK supplying military components to Israel that are used against Palestinian civilians.
Israelis say that they are building a wall between their state and the Palestinians in order to improve their security. Why does nobody ask why this wall is being built on Palestinian land and not on Israeli land?
Why is a UN peace keeping force or UN human rights monitors not being allowed into the Palestinian territories after 35 years of Israeli occupation?
UK / USA
Why are UK politicians acting as diplomats and mediators between the USA and the rest of the world instead of looking after UK interests?
Why is the USA being allowed to ignore international law, treaties and the Geneva Convention without criticism?
Why is the USA not labelled as a Rogue State after its use of the UN veto over 50 times since 1945?
What gives the USA the right to change governments unilaterally? When the USA talks about regime change why is this assumption never challenged?
Why is the USA's use of chemical weapons (Agent Orange, napalm) in several conflicts since 1945 allowed to go unpunished? Why has no fuss been made of the use by both the USA and the UK of Depleted Uranium in recent conflicts?
Why is the USA allowed to unilaterally impose economic sanctions on countries, in some cases for over 40 years. In addition, why can the USA threaten countries that refuse to follow or obey its sanctions.
Why are UK (and other) citizens being detained illegally, in what are essentially concentration camps, by the USA with the UK government ignoring its responsibilities to its citizens? Why has the USA been allowed to move people between states without extradition proceedings?
In March 2003, an extradition treaty was signed between the USA and the UK. This treaty (which became law at the end of June 2003) allows UK suspects to be extradited to the USA without a court hearing. On the other hand, USA citizens cannot be extradited to the UK unless evidence is presented in a court. Why was this unequal treaty story not given coverage in the UK media? Why have no politicians (especially ones that complain about the loss of UK sovereignty to Europe) mentioned it? If such a treaty had been signed between the UK and the EU would the media have kept silent?
What is the political or economic hold that the USA has over the UK that makes it impossible for the UK to have a foreign policy that is truly independent of the USA?
Any answers to the questions would be appreciated. Pass this email on to anyone who may find it interesting.
17 August 2003: To several television news broadcasters:
Hello journalist people,
With the recent death of Idi Amin, it might be time to mention one fact about that brutal dictator not generally covered by our wonderful media.
The UK set up concentration camps in Kenya during the 1950s. Supporters of Kenya's armed independence movement (including women and children) were interred there. The officer in charge of these camps was Idi Amin who earned the nickname of "The Strangler" because of his cruelty.