Tuesday, November 3, 2020
The West has, over decades, used its technological capabilities to spy on a host of other countries and organisations. Spy hardware was built into communications systems by Crypto AG. Crypto was a Swiss firm founded in 1952 and secretly bought by the CIA and the West German spy service. In all, 120 countries were sold apparatus which enabled their communications to be decrypted by the US National Security Agency (NSA). The information gathered was actively used by the West to intervene for example, in the Egyptian/Israeli negotiations at Camp David in 1978, and to aid the British during the Falklands war. Crypto continued in use until 2018 its capabilities having been superseded by the use of software. We are now all spied on through our use of search engines and social media and the NSA has a huge capacity to process all that data fed in from Google, Facebook etc.
Monday, November 2, 2020
The right wing and liberal media are united in their attacks on so-called Russian interference in western elections. This has been so hyped that it is almost taken for granted, yet the evidence does not stack up. The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report failed to substantiate allegations of Russian interference. It blamed the lack of evidence on spooks not having looked hard enough. Yet the ISC used this non-evidence as a basis for arguing that Britain should boost its offensive cyber warfare capabilities, calling for more resources for the National Offensive Cyber Programme set up by GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence. This year a National Cyber Force was also established and Britain hosts the NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre at RAF Molesworth.
Sunday, November 1, 2020
The second part of this obituary of Denis Goldberg deals with the period of his life following his release from prison when he was in exile and then his return to South Africa where he continued to fight for the ideals of freedom and equality for all. The personal and political challenges remained huge but Denis continued the struggle, inspiring many others with his message. In his words, “Understanding the world is not enough. As human beings in society, we are called upon by our humanity to change the world, to make it a place of greater equality…”
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Why has the United States has reacted with such ferocity in ramping up sanctions and bans on Chinese companies? Whilst China’s economy has grown and it has developed its political, economic and military power globally, it is still nowhere near being able to challenge the US’s superpower status. But what it is doing very effectively is developing world-leading digital companies like Huawei and Ant. As well as China’s cutting-edge companies, its success with state intervention in the economy is a direct challenge to free market neo-liberalism.
Friday, October 30, 2020
In the negotiations with the EU the Tories have come under fire for their confrontational approach on state aid rules, taking back powers from devolved governments and the threat of breaking international law. However the left needs to be principled in its critique of the Tories and not allow them to seize the ideological ground as defenders of sovereignty. Meanwhile their disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic continues as they aim to implement a herd immunity strategy which they wanted from the start.
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Though defeated in a referendum in 2011, proportional representation (PR) is again being mooted as a way of engaging voters and making the electoral system more democratic. In fact PR would actually produce less of what the electorate wants with more horse-trading of policies. Most importantly it would dilute a clear class divide making radical change harder.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
We are now only too used to a world of war, including in Europe in the Balkans and the continuing conflict in Ukraine. The cold war is portrayed as a time of great world tensions, yet there was far less armed conflict and more attempts to achieve peaceful relations between states. The Helsinki Accords were an attempt to create a binding framework for security and cooperation in Europe, but did not fulfill their potential due to the West's lack of commitment.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
How should we understand our subjective sense of nationality? Is patriotism a useful concept?