The barbarism of dying empires

16 Jun

One nation is circling the planet with hundreds of military bases, continually working to destroy any nation who disobeys it, and has spent the 21st century killing people by the millions. It isn’t Russia. It isn’t China. You have to account for this fact.

Caitlin Johnstone


The 1982 movie, Gandhi, had Ben Kingsley in the title role and – up there with such thespian titans as Edward Fox, John Gielgud, Nigel Hawthorne, Michael Horden and John Mills – Martin Sheen as American journalist Vince Walker, a fictitious character loosely based on Webb Miller, whose remarkable career and eventful life are summarised here

Miller – who’d survived a kidnap attempt by a thwarted oligarch, gained international fame for his WW1 reports, covered Ireland’s Easter Rising and won a Pulitzer for his graphic description of the botched public guillotining of Henri Désiré Landru, aka  Bluebeard – went on to befriend the Mahatma as, in the decade preceding WW2, the cause of ousting the British Raj brought an unprecedented unity to the bewilderingly diverse nation state the Raj had itself created.

Gandhi the movie won eleven Academy Awards including Best Actor for Kingsley, Best Picture and Best Director for Richard Attenborough and Best Original Score for Ravi Shankar. One of its most memorable scenes is of the Salt Satyagraha  described in this (abridged) wiki entry:

 Nonviolent civil disobedience: a twenty-four day campaign of tax resistance against the British salt monopoly. The Civil Disobedience Movement needed a strong inauguration that would inspire more people to follow Gandhi’s example. The march spanned 239 miles, from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi (now in the state of Gujarat). Growing numbers of Indians joined them along the way. When Gandhi broke the salt laws at 8:30 am on 6 April 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience by millions of Indians.

Here, lasting three minutes twenty-nine, is the scene. As Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs – men and youths: some wearing turbans, most sporting the Congress cap – march row after unwavering row towards the certainty of skull-cracking lathi blows by awaiting sepoys, Walker/Miller’s filing of his report over a long distance line supplies, in the second half of the clip, the voiceover.

They walked .. with heads held high, without any hope of escape from injury or death. It went on and on, into the night. STOP. Women carried the injured and broken bodies from the road, until they dropped from exhaustion. STOP. But still, it went on and on. STOP. Whatever moral ascendancy the West held was lost here today. India is free …


From the degeneracy of Rome in freefall to sunset on the jewel in the crown, the barbarism of those who claim, in defiance of all evidence, the moral authority to rule the world – and who further claim, also in defiance of the evidence, the power to continue doing so in as close to perpetuity as makes no difference – is a strikingly recurrent theme.


The sand of the desert is sodden red, —
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

Sir Henry Newbolt

Two short Strategic Culture pieces by Declan Hayes came my way this morning. One, brought to my attention by reader and frequent commenter Dave Hansell in the run up to the world cup in Qatar, links the beautiful game (and others made in England) to empire. The second, located via Declan’s profile, takes the death sentences handed down last week by a Donetsk People’s Republic Court on three captured mercenaries, two of them British, as lead-in to a more general piece on empire’s use of contract killers.

The first piece begins:

NATO is hijacking the World Cup in front of us and Canada, currently ranked 38th best in the world is as much an integral part of that process.

Mahammed Bakr, Mohammed Ramz Bakr, Ahed Atif Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr would have enjoyed the 2022 Qatar World Cup had they lived, watching their generation’s Peles, Maradonas, Puskás, Di Stéfanos, Ronaldos, Bests and Messis dribble past players before scoring impossible goals, as only icons like Maradona, who single handedly destroyed the entire English defense, can do.

Kids dream of dribbling, keeping the ball at their feet, sliding and slithering like an eel through defenses before launching a blistering shot worthy of Eusébio, Portugal’s Black Panther, who is not to be confused with Lev Yashin, Russia’s Black Panther, whose name goes first onto any Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) team sheet.

Lev Yashin is universally considered history’s best ever goal keeper, head and shoulders above any other. Not only did Yashin, who served as a child in the Battle of Moscow, save far more penalties and keep far more clean sheets than any other top class goal keeper but Yashin re-invented the role of the goal keeper from passive observer to undisputed King of Defense. When strikers half the age of Messi and Ronaldo pit their wits against their opponents’ keepers, it will be a re-run of Yashin trying to stop the force of nature that was the Brazilian teenager Pele.

Pele, now much older and slower, will probably put in an appearance. But Yashin, even if he was still alive, could not, because Yashin, the Black Spider, who kept a clean net, is Russian. And Russians, like Gazan waifs, no longer fit into FIFA’s business model.

Read in full …

While the second opens:

If Aslin and Pinner must die, they should take their medicine, shut up about it but be thankful that their deaths will serve as a warning to other British knuckle draggers.

British government Ministers are peeved that Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, two of their many mercenaries, have been sentenced to death for their actions in Donbas. Liz Truss, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, having previously displayed her ignorance of the Ukrainian conflict to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, is now declaring that Wild Geese like Aslin and Pinner are protected under the Geneva Convention. They are not. And nor are the other mercenaries the British media encouraged to go to Ukraine, Iraq and Syria. They too are fair game.

The protests of their more jingoistic British compatriots apart, the much more important stories are the continued and systematic involvement of sociopathic British mercenaries in wars that are none of their concern and the arrogant and unequivocal support the British government extends to these Land of Hope and Glory Charles Mansons.

Greek-Cypriot Costas Georgiou, aka Colonel Callan, was one such British psychopath. As the best marksman in the British Army’s notorious 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment, Georgiou was centrally involved in the wholesale massacre of peaceful Irish Catholics on Bloody Sunday in Derry City on 30 January, 1972, only a few months after he played a pivotal role in the massacre of Irish Catholics in Belfast. These two war crimes were both signed off by the British Cabinet and were a central part in their successful policy of smothering the Catholic demand for civil rights with sectarian slaughter by Frank Kitson’s counter gangs.

Though Georgiou’s unit was repeatedly decorated by Queen Elizabeth, he was dishonorably discharged after he and his fellow Para thugs robbed a bank, a much more serious charge than wasting unarmed Irish or Angolan Catholics. Foot loose and fancy free, he made his way to Angola, where he commanded one of the most psychopathic band of mercenaries of recent times, where he personally murdered more than 170 unarmed Angolans and scores of his own men.

When the Angolan government forces captured Georgiou and his command staff, Queen Elizabeth and Henry Kissinger both appealed for clemency for them. The Angolan government were having none of it …

Read in full …

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4 Replies to “The barbarism of dying empires

  1. Walker/Miller: “Whatever moral ascendancy the West held was lost here today. India is free …”

    I don’t know who wrote the script which included these words but they are terribly skewed and obviously written by someone FROM the west.

    The west never had any moral ascendancy, it still doesn’t. This is the imaginary view of the west of itself and in no way does it compare to the reality we are so far removed from. Western moral turpitude is abundantly obvious in so many formats and cognitive dissonance is not an explanation, merely an excuse for our total lack of understanding, empathy or even consideration for the humanity of others not in our “image”.

    The west, was and is far more savage and contemptuous than those we so readily condemn(when it suits us)and lacks any basis for comparable analysis, precisely because we have no ability to comprehend any view but our own.

    It should, therefore, come as no surprise that British ministers apply very different standards than they apply to themselves. Nothing about Britain’s supposed “Democratic Rule” surprises me any more, it’s just one obscenely vacuous utterance after another.

    Good article Phil,

    Thanks, Susan 🙂

    • What interested me about that line was its use of the term, “the West”, as opposed to “Britain” or “the British Empire”.

      I’d like to have been a fly on the wall during discussions of that formulation. I take your point, of course, that no such “moral ascendancy” ever existed. (See my account of the Amritsar Massacre ordered by General Dyer in 1922, set out in my review of the Mike Leigh film on Peterloo.) But America was not only within a decade or two of global rule through the indirect hegemony of modern imperialism. It was already a colonial power to boot.

      Not that Walker/Miller is answerable for the crimes of his country’s ruling class. I stress this because I still get complaints, from those whose grasp of what I’m saying on this blog is tenuous, that I’m “anti-American”.

  2. Hi Phil,

    “…Not that Walker/Miller is answerable for the crimes of his country’s ruling class….”

    Noted, although I don’t entirely agree with the sentiment.

    I feel responsible for what our ruling classes are doing in this century and loathe the crimes the western regimes are guilty of previously.(I learned yesterday that Britain is to extradite Assange courtesy of that witch Patel, even though the US has admitted that it has not met it’s burden of proof and to know Baraitser was in charge of a Kangaroo Court not even fit for Third World “shit” Country as Trumpty intoned sagely)

    I have little tolerance for people who cannot be arsed to learn.

    I am not well educated, I have spent fifty years trying to enlighten myself on so many matters and still I have a mountain to climb. If people choose to remain ignorant, and their is no excuse with information so easily available, then it is their choice to do so. It is preposterous to claim otherwise.

    So I tell people that I am Irish mix. The reason is because I am anti-British, Anti-US, anti colonialism, anti Imperialism, anti corporatism, anti Zionism.

    I’m not going to apologise for the ignorant masses who are too bone idle to question that which has demonstrably shown itself to be questionable on too numerous occasions to mention.

    The British, fundamentally, are intolerant, bordering, or have crossed the line at breakneck speed, bigots. Too many are self absorbed, self motivated, have an undeserved notion of entitlement and even less deserving attitude of superiority.

    I live among such numb nuts and I don’t often meet anyone who gives the remotest hint that they think beyond their own needs and desires. I won’t watch the News or read a newspaper because I find their tawdry gossip and disgraceful propaganda passing for news, insulting.

    Unlike yourself, I have no desire to try and reason with those whose whole premise of knowledge and therefore intelligence quotient, is based entirely upon tripe spewed from bought and paid for MSM.

    You have patience and a desire to better inform those you know will not engage in an honest way, but give of your time and energy regardless of whether they are a lost cause, which is why you are the teacher and I the student.

    Sadly, not all of your lessons will penetrate my skull, but don’t give up on me, I’m still amenable to learning what you and others like you can teach me.

    Very best,


    (You’re a better man than me Gunga Din)

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