A place of politics, culture (!!) & random subjects from Airstrip One. Noel hopes it will be of interest and/or use to all sorts of voyagers in cyberspace!

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Busman's holiday

I am having an excellent time in Vancouver. The weather is outstandingly good.

The article below I was going to put on my blog before I went, but I had a memory lapse. Neil Clark is a very interesting bloke intellectually wise. he is Very old Labour & doesn't have much time for post-68 generation leftist worldviews. Also he is rather soft on Slobodan Milosevic (I say this as someone who thought the West should have stayed out of the ex-Yugoslavia, full stop). However, this article is top notch. Orwell would be proud of it.

I'm going to the beach after this...

Reformers and hardliners

What do Iran, Venezuela and Belarus have in common?

Neil Clark
Tuesday July 12, 2005
The Guardian

Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is one. So are Belarus's Alexander Lukashenko and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. These men, we are repeatedly told by CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, are "hardliners". But what exactly is a hardliner - and why are some world leaders hardliners and others not?
In a dictionary you will find hardline defined as "definite and unyielding". But if so, why is hardliner used so selectively to describe world leaders?

As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad celebrated his landslide victory, another election was taking place in Bulgaria. For the past four years the prime minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, has presided over a privatisation programme that the Iron Lady herself would have drooled over. His neo-liberal agenda has left half of Bulgaria's 8 million people surviving on less than two euros a day. Yet unlike Ahmadinejad, Lukashenko or Chavez, the Bulgarian premier has not been labelled a hardliner - for his "definite and unyielding" policies - but instead is referred to as a reformer and a moderniser.
It's a similar story across eastern and central Europe. The Hungarian prime minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, whose government is following the most aggressively neoliberal policies in the EU, recently announced plans to privatise healthcare. Hungary has no more money for hospitals - but did find £7.7m to buy air-to-air missiles from the US and £34.5m to "adapt" its armed forces to the demands of Nato and EU membership. To many, a policy of putting guns before health would be considered hardline. But not the western media, who laud Gyurcsany as a "centrist reformer".

Look further and it is clear; if you run your country for the benefit of international capital and orientate your foreign policy towards the US, you will be a "reformer", "moderate" or "moderniser" - regardless of how extreme your polices are. The rule applies even if you served in an SS unit (like the neoconservatives' favourite Islamist, the late Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic) or, like the shah of Iran, had one of the most feared secret police forces in the world.

If, on the other hand, you run your country for the benefit of your people and refuse to pay Danegeld to the most powerful empire the world has seen, you will be called a hardliner. Ahmadinejad is "hardline", not for the social and religious conservatism he shares with the non-"hardline" leaders of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but for his policy of empowering Iranian working class people and defending his country's right to develop nuclear power. Lukashenko is "hardline", not for his authoritarianism, but because he wishes to maintain the last planned, socially owned economy in Europe: an alternative economic agenda that has seen his country climb from 68th to 49th in the UN human development index. And Hugo Chavez is "hardline", not because he once led a failed military coup, but because he wishes to use his nation's vast oil wealth to benefit Venezuela and not US oil corporations.

It is for standing up for the interests of their own people that these three men are labelled "hardliners". For those genuinely concerned with social justice, derailing the US behemoth and creating a world in which people come before profits, the more "hardliners" - and the less "moderates" and "reformers" - that are elected to power, the better.

· Neil Clark is a writer and broadcaster specialising in Eastern European and Middle Eastern affairs


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All statements made are our express opinion only and should be treated as such. We may own,
take position and sell any securities mentioned at any time. Any statements that express or
involve discussions with respect to predictions, goals, expectations, beliefs, plans,
projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are not statements of
historical fact and may be "forward looking statements." Forward looking statements are based
on expectations, estimates and projections at the time the statements are made that involve a
number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results or events to differ materially
from those presently anticipated. This newsletter was paid four thousand dollars from a party
(IR Marketing). Forward looking statements in this action may be identified through the use of
words such as: "projects", "foresee", "expects". in compliance with Section 17(.b), we disclose
the holding of IF LH shares prior to the publication of this report. Be aware of an inherent
conflict of interest resulting from such holdings due to our intent to profit from the liquidation
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regarding the above company. Since we own shares, there is an inherent conflict of interest in
our statements and opinions. Readers of this publication are cautioned not to place undue reliance
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in the forward- looking statements. This is not solicitation to buy or sell stocks, this text is
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