I'm confused, can anyone help me? Part 6

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
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There are some strange happenings in the world of late and I'm confused. Very confused. Can anyone help me?

The first thing I’m confused about is the claim made this week by Supreme Allied NATO Commander General Strangelove, sorry, Breedlove, that Putin (along with Assad) are deliberately 'weaponizing’ the migration/refugee crisis to ‘overwhelm European structures and break European resolve'.

According to Breedlove, Russia and the Syrian government are deliberately bombing people in Syria to get them to leave the country and cause major problems for Europe. How absolutely deplorable! What utter swines they must be!
But hang on a minute.

I could have sworn that there was quite a significant refugee crisis before Russian intervention in Syria began last autumn and before the Syrian government launched new offensives. If the crisis began long before the Russian bombing how can Russia be responsible for it? Here’s an article from the BBC website from September 2014, a full year before Russia’s intervention in Syria-on the big increase in the number of refugees/migrants coming from Libya after 2011.

Libya was a country which was bombed and regime changed by the US and its allies in 2011- so surely it’s more accurate to accuse them of ‘weaponising’ the migration crisis? Many refugees are coming from Afghanistan and Iraq, again countries where the US and its allies invaded. Can we blame Putin and Assad for this?

As to Syrian President Bashar Assad wanting to drive people out of his country in order to cause trouble for Europe, he has stated on more than one occasion that he would like to see the refugees return. "Of course they can come back without any action being taken against them by the government. We want people to come back to Syria," he said in February.

Also in February, Assad urged European leaders to help refugees return to Syria.

"I would like to ask every person who left Syria to come back," he said, as reported by Telesur. And this is the man who - along with Putin- we are told is deliberately ‘weaponising’ migration by the NATO commander? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

I’m also confused - very confused in fact- by the portrayal of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton as a 'progressive' who in a US Presidential election contest with Donald Trump would be 'the lesser of two evils'.

Now, from what I‘ve read about her, Clinton seems to be a serial warmonger and ‘regime changer' whose actions in government caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (including women and black people) and have undoubtedly made the world a more dangerous place.

Gary Leupp documented Mrs Clinton’s foreign policy record in this 2015 article. Among Hillary’s boasts are that she ‘urged’ her husband to bomb the Federal Republic Yugoslavia. The innocent civilians killed in the illegal 'humanitarian’ bombing of Yugoslavia of 1999 which Clinton ‘urged’ included passengers on a train, staff at Serbian television and 73 Kosovan Albanians in a convoy - an attack that NATO had attempted to blame on Yugoslav forces.

Four years later, Hillary sided with hard-right Republican Party hawks and supported the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Libya had the highest standard of living in Africa. But in 2011 Clinton, now Secretary of State, helped destroy all that and turn Libya into a failed state and a base for IS. You don’t have to a cheerleader for Muammar Gaddafi to condemn the brutal way he was murdered, but Clinton thought it was all rather funny. "We came. We saw. He died!"

Last week on George Galloway’s Sputnik show on RT, the Green Party’s Dr Jill Stein told us ‘Hillary Clinton never found a war she didn’t support’.

How does Clinton’s record make her 'progressive'? Or has the word ‘progressive’ today been redefined to mean ‘an enthusiastic for war whose campaign is bankrolled by Wall Street
and the hedge-fund billionaire George Soros.

I’m confused. Can anyone help me?.

The EU referendum. Now there are some good arguments for the UK staying in the EU and some very good ones for leaving too.

But I’m confused about some of the claims as to what would happen if Britons voted for ‘Brexit’ in June’s Referendum.

We're told that the economy would collapse,
investment would leave, jobs would be lost, that we need to be in the EU for ’national security’ and in order to deal with ‘Russian aggression’.

We’re told a ‘Brexit’ would ‘shock’ the world economy. And the UK itself would break up.
But hang on, until 1973, Britain wasn't in the EEC/EU. And our economy far from being in a state of collapse was doing rather well. In 1969/70, just three years before the UK joined the EEC, the country enjoyed a record balance of payments surplus of £550m.

As I wrote in the New Statesman in 2010 about this period: ‘The public finances were also in rude health - a borrowing requirement of £1.96bn in 1967/68 had been transformed into a surplus of £600m by the end of 1969. And, fuelled by the export boom, GNP grew by over 6 per cent between the middle of 1967 and the end of 1969.’

Not only did living standards rise considerably in this pre-EEC accession era, but the UK wasn’t subject to a Soviet invasion either, or at least I don’t remember us being under Red Army occupation when I was growing up in the early 70s (although we did have lots of excellent children‘s programmes from eastern European communist countries on the tv). So our national security clearly didn’t have anything to do with membership of the EEC/EU.

Of course that was over 40 years ago and its true that it’s a different world today. But Norway and Switzerland aren't in the EU and didn’t seem to be doing too badly the last time I visited. Nor did they appear to be under a Russian military occupation.

The thing is that the dramatic claims made about what will happen if UK voters do vote for Brexit are being made by some very distinguished people. Leading bankers. City people, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, top business leaders. Tony Blair. They can’t be trying to pull the wool over our eyes, can they? They surely wouldn’t be trying to scare us to vote in a certain way? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

I’m confused- still confused- about the ongoing investigation into the MH-17 plane disaster. After the tragedy, in which 298 people were killed, we were told that the US possessed satellite imagery and raw radar data which was strong ‘evidence’ that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air- missile.

“We know because we observed it by imagery that at the moment of the shoot-down, we detected a launch, from that area (rebel controlled), and our trajectory shows that it went through the aircraft," said US Secretary of State John Kerry in a CNN interview in July 2014.

But we now learn that investigators into the crash have no satellite imagery or raw radar data. Now surely if the US did have such evidence, they’d have shared it with the investigators? At a press conference this week, State Department spokesman John Kirby refused to answer questions
about what data the US had shared with the investigators. Now if it was so clear cut that ‘rebels’ supported by Russia did shoot the plane down and the US had evidence to prove this, surely we would have seen it by now?

After all the plane disaster took place in July 2014, over 18 months ago. I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

I’m also confused about what we’ve been told by western political figures about Russia’s intervention in Syria. When Russia began its air campaign in late September 2015, we were told that it wasn’t really fighting IS but targeting civilians and 'moderate Syria opposition forces’.

"You have a strong propaganda message that says you’re doing one thing while in fact you are doing something completely different and when challenged you just flatly deny it,” UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond aggressively stated at the Tory Party conference in October.

But a couple of weeks later, when the Russian Metrojet passenger plane came down in the Sinai, with the loss of all 224 people on board, Hammond was quick to say IS was responsible and said that the downing of the airliner had been a ‘warning shot’ for Russia.

But if Russia hadn’t really been hitting IS, as Hammond had claimed, why on earth would IS wish to take down a Russian passenger plane?
Since then, we've seen renewed allegations that Russia isn’t hitting IS. But some western media has been caught using footage of Russian attacks on IS and actually passing them off as the work of the US and its allies!

We know that since Russia’s intervention, the IS advance has not only been checked, but the group has suffered significant reversals. ‘Russian air support for the Syrian army means that it is now far more difficult for Isis to win easy victories such as its capture of Palmyra in May, wrote veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn in the Independent in January: "It had been conceivable, if not likely, that Assad’s rule would crumble under pressure and IS would be the beneficiary. This is no longer the case."

How could any of these things have happened if Russia was actually IS’s ‘air force'. Surely IS would be advancing if Russia’s campaign was really aiding the group?

I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

Finally I’m confused about Turkey and British support for ‘democratic values’. British Prime Minister David Cameron wants Turkey in the EU and said in December 2014 that getting Turkey in the EU was a ‘long-standing goal for Britain.

His views on Turkey are shared by most neocons. When Turkey shot down a Russian plane in November, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond praised Turkey as an "important ally".

Yesterday in Turkey, police raided the offices of Zaman, an opposition newspaper. A Turkish court has ruled to sack the entire editorial team of the newspaper, which is critical of President Erdogan, and for them to be replaced by a three member board appointed by the court.

"By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” says Andrew Gardner of Amnesty International.

Of events in the last year in Turkey, Amnesty said: "The media faced unprecedented pressure from the government; free expression online and offline suffered significantly. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly continued to be violated... Impunity for human rights abuses persisted. The independence of the judiciary was further eroded."

Now, neocons always tell us that they’re implacably opposed to repressive political systems and are strong supporters of freedom and democracy- so much so that they believe in going to war to fight for these worthy causes. So why has there been no condemnation of Turkey by David Cameron and Philip Hammond?

Instead of condemning Turkey’s undemocratic crackdowns, Hammond tweets about extending sanctions on Russia.

The accession criteria for membership of the EU includes: "stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities."

Why are neocons so keen on Turkey joining the EU when its clear that these conditions are not met?
I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

You can read the previous 'I’m Confused, can anyone help me' segment here.

To avoid further confusion, follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.