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Etiquette lessons offered to Israel

From smaller bombs to more targeted murders, Britain and the US are offering what amounts to advice on the ‘correct manners to massacre’ for their Middle East ally, reports SOLOMON HUGHES

ISRAELI Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is threatening the Israeli Defence Forces will “continue operating with full military power” in Gaza after the “short pause” of the ceasefire.
 
Let’s hope Gallant is wrong, and the current ceasefire holds long enough to break the momentum of war.
 
But if Gallant’s soldiers do go back into battle, we can be sure they will be getting lots of advice. The Western powers want to tell the IDF how to do war, but nicer. Are their top military tips really any good?
 
British newspapers claim the SAS are on hand to offer counter-insurgency advice. But given that British forces essentially lost to the Taliban, and the  SAS are currently subject to an independent inquiry into whether their “night raids” during the Afghan conflict descended into murders which built Taliban support, this advice might not be useful.
 
More seriously, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Netanyahu about “concrete steps that can and should be taken” to minimise civilian deaths. US officials would not reveal these secret methods, but officials briefed the New York Post on two techniques.

The first: keep on bombing — but use smaller bombs. The US sent Israel more, but smaller, bombs in an attempt to persuade the IDF to reduce their use of 2,000-pound devices.

But there is less enthusiasm in Israel than in the US for sizing down, and if you send a nation munitions, it is hard to specify how they use them. If you don’t want a country to drop bombs, don’t give them bombs.

The second suggestion was reportedly for the IDF to “model their ground campaign against Hamas leaders on an approach that was employed by Stanley McChrystal when he commanded US Special Operations forces” in 2006-8 for “a targeted-killing campaign against al-Qaida in Iraq.”

The US argues that using small teams of commandos and drone strikes to assassinate leaders could be more effective with less “collateral damage” than a fuller invasion.
 
But the Iraq example contains its own warning. The US did manage to assassinate Iraq al-Qaida bosses like al-Zarqawi, but this did not bring peace. Instead, new leaders emerged from the bloodshed, transforming al-Qaeda into the even more monstrous Isis. A “clever” war is still a war. If it is an unjust war, it will always sew bitter seeds that can grow into something worse.
 
The US tried to show they were serious about using their “counter-terror” experience by saying they sent Lieutenant General James Glynn, who had commanded the US Marine Corps Special Operations Command, to advise the Israelis on Gaza.

US officials briefed the press that Glyn had “served in Fallujah” in the Iraq war in 2004 to show he knew what he was doing. It’s not a great record.

The US had to fight two “Battles of Fallujah” in 2004 in an attempt to suppress Iraqi insurgents. The second was particularly grim, with US forces using cluster bombs and white phosphorus to kill Iraqi rebels.

This experience does not shout “restraint” to the IDF. The temporary suppression of insurgents in Fallujah was followed by years of more instability in Iraq.
 
The truth is that without a just political settlement, no military operation can be relied on to bring peace by itself. No amount of “fight war, but more nicely” advice will make the difference a political settlement can.

As long as there is injustice, theft of land, and oppression of the Palestinian people, there will be some form of rebellion, whether a mass uprising like the “great march of return,” or a bloody raid like October 7.

Rachel Reeves: investing in infrastructure?

Rachel Reeves convened a new British Infrastructure Council at the end of November, promising it would help Labour create a “once in a generation set of reforms to accelerate the building of our country’s critical infrastructure and to build housing too.”
 
This is how Reeves intends to “kick start growth.” But look closely at the company representatives on Reeves’s British Infrastructure Council and something stands out.
 
Reportedly, the businesses on the British Infrastructure Council are Lloyds — a British bank; HSBC, a British bank; Santander, a Spanish bank; Fidelity Investments, a US investment manager; Blackrock, a US Investment manager; M&G, a British investment manager; CPP Investments, a Canadian pensions investor; CDPQ, another Canadian pensions investor; Border to Coast, a British pensions investor and Phoenix Group, a British insurance and investment firm.
 
None of these firms build infrastructure. They are money managers. They don’t know how to dig a ditch or erect steel or lay cable. Instead, they know how to own firms that dig ditches, erect steel or lay cables: the infrastructure council is there to advise how a Labour government can work with private investors.
 
As Reeves says, this “infrastructure council” is about working with “key investors” — not key infrastructure builders or managers.
 
Reeves says that “through Labour’s new National Wealth Fund, we will work alongside the private sector to back the growth of British industry.” She wants these private investment advisers to tell her how to invest public wealth from her National Wealth Fund.
 
Reeves says this is a win-win, as public investment will stimulate private investment. According to Reeves “for every pound of public investment, we will leverage in three times as much private investment, while also getting a return for the taxpayer.”
 
But will the taxpayer do well? CPP for example, own 32 per cent of Anglian Water — the privatised firm fined millions of pounds for pumping filth into our rivers, while paying tens of millions to their shareholders, including CPP.

Blackrock is a — somewhat smaller — investor in Severn Trent, a water firm also known for simultaneously pumping dividends to shareholders and filth into rivers. HSBC and Lloyds history of investing in public sector infrastructure is a grim one — they were both major players in the PFI, a rip-off.

Lloyds representatives are currently suing London’s Whittington Hospital, demanding £56 million from the NHS. NHS bosses don’t want to pay for the PFI because the contractors wouldn’t agree to safety repairs after a fire in the hospital basement.

The big danger is that the financial firms on the “infrastructure council” will argue for publicly supported investment that, like PFI, leaves them with the profits and the public sector with the bill.

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