That lovely young Owen Jones

The CIA might try and LOL away its record, but given the world is still dealing with the consequences of its many disastrous postwar interventions, it shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. “Terrorism” is normally used when referring to acts of violence committed by non-white people hostile to the west. But if we’re understanding the term to mean acts of terror committed for political ends, then the CIA is surely the greatest terrorist organisation on earth.

I dunno really. I would have expected at least some mention of the KGB, StB, Stasi and all the rest. But no. Only the Americans had a spy service that launched coups, murdered people, fought the Great Game with other peoples’ lives.

47 comments on “That lovely young Owen Jones

  1. Never mind the Europeans: if “Terrorism” is normally used when referring to acts of violence committed by non-white people hostile to the west, what were the IRA doing all those years?

  2. The pressures of being progressive and having to meet deadlines means that your blinkered stupidity and partiality come to the fore.

    Unfortunately, this is what passes for political acumen and deep analysis.

    America is the target of choice, the rest aren’t even on the radar. As a world view it’s cool.

  3. Interesting that Owen Jones complains when people make reference to his youth because to anyone of my generation (mid 40s) the word terrorism tends to bring up thoughts of the (very white) IRA, Bader Meinhoff gang, Basque Separatists and all the other 70s terrorist groups we grew up hearing about on the news.

  4. Pellinor,

    I’d guess that in Owen’s mind they were/are freedom fighters.

    O/T I worked for a bunch of MK guys in 1999 bidding for a mobile license in South Africa. A couple of them had been to some joint training camps and they thought the IRA (and ETA) were jokes.

  5. @Pellinor. Freedom Fighting. Owens is also too young to have heard of Bader-Meinhof and the Weathermen.

  6. He also makes the claim that the CIA supported the coup which overthrew Allende and installed Chile. This has become an article of faith amongst the left, but there is no evidence for it whatsoever. The CIA meddled before, and assisted afterwards, but on the available evidence were seemingly unaware of the coup until it happened. If you take a lefty to task on this, the argument ends up with “It’s what the CIA definitely wanted, so it is obvious they were involved even if there is no evidence.”

  7. Also, regardless of what else the CIA did or didn’t do, what they did not litter the developing world with cheap automatic weapons and land mines so simple that children could use them. How the left can go on about the horrors of Africa without mentioning the role of their Soviet and Chinese heroes in flooding the place with weapons is bordering on mentally deranged.

  8. BWAB if they thought the RA were a joke, they were sorely mistaken. The prods, yes, and the OIRA weren’t much, but the Provos were pretty good at what they did, all things considered.

    The MK got their arses kicked every time they took on the Zim or SA forces and most of the people they killed were black farmers who stepped in the wrong place or incorrectly aligned blacks who were necklaced.

  9. Sigh,

    Not this unhelpful rubbish again. Surprised OJ thinks that rehashing lame arguments from 2001-2006 would be coming back in fashion.

    The telling part of the extract is saying ‘non-white’, anyone with a cursory knowledge of the history and waves of terrorism (Nihilists 1800s? Anarachists 1880s-1930s?) would know that is not true and is talking rubbish or is too stupid enough to talk about the relative shift into fourth wave Islamist terrorism, which is delicate on technical grounds so anyone knowing anything about this wouldnt write such false and simplistic nonsense.

  10. Having lived through the worst period of ETA terrorism with friends with bodyguards, a business colleague machine-gunned to death and over 800 murdered, I have to say I didn’t notice a non-white amongst them.

    Incidentally, the only reason they are not killing now is because they have been beaten on their battlefield by concerted action by France and Spain by police and not the army. Despite what they say we have never been at war.

    Now we are apparently divisive cvnts for not giving them everything they wanted, and still want, thereby jeopardising the ‘peace process’. The French have documents indicating that they have no intention of disarming. They are piss-takers of the first order.

    Fotunately, the ‘freedom fighters’ are finding it more difficult to convince anybody that killing is good and I have the hope that a comfortable seat on a local council or a job with regular income, the chance to go for a few drinks openly and sport on a regular basis will convince them that things are not so bad.

    I think Owen should swim to Venezuela and sort out the revolution there. They need his vision.

  11. “… if “Terrorism” is normally used when referring to acts of violence committed by non-white people hostile to the west, what were the IRA doing all those years?”

    Garnering support from the Guardian?

  12. “Terrorism” is normally used when referring to acts of violence committed by non-white people hostile to the west”

    Not on the BBC it isn’t. ‘Militants’, ‘separatists’, ‘insurgents’ and even notoriously ‘activists’ have been used. ‘Terrorism’ is expressly forbidden where Islam is concerned. Haram, if you will.

  13. In terms of international interventions I think the CIA have to take the gold. Probably more because of US wealth and power than any nastier intent than the KGB, but there it is.

  14. It’s got nearly everything a Guardian reader could want as he ingests his fairtrade skinny latte:

    * Sob story about Chile. Chile has now entered the realm of myth and legend like the Spanish Civil War did for older Proggies. If only those lovely, sensitive, poetry-writing Marxists had won, everything would have turned out just wonderfully! It’s a Garden of Eden fantasy with AK-47’s.

    * Pasty faced white boy insinuating that tougher white men than him are racists.

    * Margaret Thatcher. Boooo!

    * Someone younger than some of the children in the Harry Potter films presuming to lecture us on history.

    I give it a B-

    If he’d mentioned South Africa, Cuba, and the environment I’d have given him an A.

  15. Rob – they’re also sometimes “gunmen”. So you get the impression it might have nothing to do with Islam and could be the NRA’s fault.

  16. “f we’re understanding the term to mean acts of terror committed for political ends,” I vote for the CCP then. Or, like the Krays, does it not count if you only ever kill your own?

  17. Steve,

    “Someone younger than some of the children in the Harry Potter films presuming to lecture us on history.”

    I don’t think so. Owen Jones is actually 30. He’s like the Michael J Fox of politics – a man of some years playing a teenager 😉

  18. Can Owen explain the presence of AK47s in the Palace with Allende, the great communist leader of Chile?

  19. Tim N,

    > The CIA meddled before, and assisted afterwards, but on the available evidence were seemingly unaware of the coup until it happened.

    Well, quite. One of the most baffling things about the Leftie hatred of the CIA is that it involves the utmost faith in their competence. Where 9/11 should have demonstrated to them all that the CIA can’t predict shit, instead their faith convinced them that the uberpowerful omniscient CIA must have known all about it and let it happen for their own nefarious ends, or maybe even masterminded the whole thing.

  20. The Stigler – Great Scott!

    I would enjoy seeing a film where Owen travels back to 1985 in a Toyota Prius time machine and tries to warn people about Maggie Thatcher. In the last act his melodramatic whingeing turns out to be the inspiration for The Smiths.

    Some of the Potter kids are in their 30’s too now though. He’s younger than the guy who played the captain of Harry’s quiddich team.

    Owen’s probably still upset that the Sorting Hat stuck him in with the div kids at Hufflepuff.

  21. Bloke with a Boat – “O/T I worked for a bunch of MK guys in 1999 bidding for a mobile license in South Africa. A couple of them had been to some joint training camps and they thought the IRA (and ETA) were jokes.”

    The PIRA and ETA got some serious training from someone. Presumably in the Soviet bloc. The people who invented the airline bomb – the Czechs did actually. And taught the Palestinians. So did MK but they were crap. They were more likely to blow themselves up than anyone else. Burning 12 year olds to death was about the limit of their competence.

    Richard – “Pellinor, some of the Left regard the Irish as honorary blacks.”

    Well we know that race is a social construct, right? That is why the Afro-Latino George Zimmerman became White. As has the Eurasian UCSB shooter.

    Interested – “The MK got their arses kicked every time they took on the Zim or SA forces and most of the people they killed were black farmers who stepped in the wrong place or incorrectly aligned blacks who were necklaced.”

    Actually most of the people they killed were their own members. Apart from the necklacing. Vastly more MK members were tortured to death because their comrades thought they might be BOSS spies than were killed by the security forces.

    TheJollyGreenMan – “Can Owen explain the presence of AK47s in the Palace with Allende, the great communist leader of Chile?”

    Or the fact that Allende’s daughter married one of his Cuban security “advisors”?

  22. Neil Craig – “In terms of international interventions I think the CIA have to take the gold. Probably more because of US wealth and power than any nastier intent than the KGB, but there it is.”

    The US has a nastier intent than the KGB? The people who murdered 10 million mildly wealthy farmers?

    What is the appropriate response to this? F*ck off seems a little mild.

    The US may have had more wealth than the KGB, but the Soviets were willing to spend vastly more. Which is why every proper Communist Party on the planet outside the USSR was run by the KGB. That is why they funded and armed Communist groups in every country in the world. That is why they armed and trained virtually every terrorist group on the planet. That is why the level of violence internationally fell dramatically when the KGB was dissolved.

  23. robably more because of US wealth and power than any nastier intent than the KGB, but there it is.”

    The US has a nastier intent than the KGB?

    Nah, I read that the other way round. I think he’s saying that the KGB had nastier intent, but the CIA have been more effective at international intervention. And if we;re saying ‘who’s been better at playing the Great Game over the years?’, then they are probably coming out close to the top, as long as our time line begins c.1942.

  24. The problem is that ultimately, the CIA gave us a better world.

    It’s easy to look back on helping out the Afghanis or Saddam Hussein, who were fucking bastards and say “look, the CIA helped some fucking bastards”.

    Unlike Owen Jones, I was out of short trousers at the time of the Islamic Revolution and the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR and remember a very different perspective of things, and if you’d asked almost anyone at the time (including most socialists) if we should be arming the Afghanis, the answer would have almost certainly been that we should. Saddam Hussein was almost unknown but as Iran had recently had a revolution and taken 66 Americans hostage in an Embassy, we weren’t exactly hostile to someone who was kicking the shit out of them.

  25. Unlike Owen Jones, I was around when Allende was elected as a “moderate Communist” and the Pinochet (?counter-)coup and the story going around at the time was that ITT had asked the CIA to overthrow Allende (I think he had expropriated, under the guise of “nationalisation”, some of their assets) and the CIA had refused.
    My generation not only remembers the “peaceful” having the presidential palace filled with weapons for a Communist but also ITT being too extreme for the CIA.

  26. @ The Stigler
    Saddam Takriti Hussein was not *that* unknown – one of my then colleagues briefed me that his pre-coup career had been as an assassin. Sadly the Americans assumed that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” so supported him against the reactionary mullahs in Iran, which latter actually had more in common with the USA than the the mudering totalitarian socialists of the Iraqi Ba’athists.

  27. The left loathe Pinochet’s Chile for two reasons:

    1) A popular right wing coup installs Pinochet and he doesn’t fuck about – 30,000 loony lefties go up against the wall.

    Result 30+ years of peace.

    2) A popular right wing coup installs Pinochet and he doesn’t fuck about – he carries out one of the most radical Milton Freidman agendas on the economy.

    Result 30+ years of peace in the most prosperous country in S. America.

    Food for though methinks…

  28. JohnnyD,

    You presume thought amongst leftists. The majority of the left loath Pinochet’s Chile simply “because”.

    If they know anything else about the entire country, it is likely to be which of the cheaper Chilean wines can normally be found reduced at Sainsbury.

  29. Owen Jone’s “Chavs” is good in parts, then he goes and spoils it lots with leftie-ness. He rightly identifies a feeling of disenfranchisement among those we might call “chavs” and even correctly points fingers at his own bourgeois lefties and correctly also at others, but the book is so dripping with the usual lefty themes and hatreds that ultimately he loses any reader who is not of his own.

    Allende chose a warriors death, difficult to asses his economic record, in our terms he’s wreaked the economy but he might have wanted to be measured by how well the poor were fed and educated etc, and AFAIK nobody knows.

    He’d have been a fool not to have had weapons at the palace.

    SMFS, methinks u misread NC.

  30. @ Johnnydub
    It was far from “the most prosperous country in S. America” before Pinochet. That was Argentina, followed by Venezuela: i can’t remember the full sequence but i think Chile was probably sixth.

  31. Johnnydub,

    if murdering 30000 people counts as an era of peace, I’d hate to be around when you think the going’s a little rough.

  32. sam – “Nah, I read that the other way round. I think he’s saying that the KGB had nastier intent, but the CIA have been more effective at international intervention.”

    OK in that case I apologise unreservedly.

    The Stigler – “The problem is that ultimately, the CIA gave us a better world.”

    That’s a problem?

    john77 – “Saddam Takriti Hussein was not *that* unknown – one of my then colleagues briefed me that his pre-coup career had been as an assassin.”

    So par for the course as far as the Middle East is concerned?

    “Sadly the Americans assumed that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” so supported him against the reactionary mullahs in Iran, which latter actually had more in common with the USA than the the mudering totalitarian socialists of the Iraqi Ba’athists.”

    How do or did the Mullahs of Iran have anything in common with the Americans? They were not that reactionary either. The US did not exactly support either side. As Kissinger once said, the only bad thing about the Iran-Iraq War is that both couldn’t lose.

    Johnnydub – “1) A popular right wing coup installs Pinochet and he doesn’t fuck about – 30,000 loony lefties go up against the wall.”

    Actually the Chilean peace and reconciliation process has named about 3,500 people killed or tortured under Pinochet. Argentina killed about 30,000. But no one cares about them. Allende was a Communist. So the Left cares. The Argentinian junta threw out a Peronist government and so they don’t. I bet no one here can name the coup leaders.

    Surreptitious Evil – “You presume thought amongst leftists. The majority of the left loath Pinochet’s Chile simply “because”.”

    Allende had the benefit of the KGB. It looks to me like they simply organised the comrades and so the Left has had years and years of propaganda about Allende. Even though Pinochet was one of the less violent Latin American dictatorships. Everyone knows his name. Because the Soviets were good at what they did.

    johnny bonk – “Allende chose a warriors death, difficult to asses his economic record, in our terms he’s wreaked the economy but he might have wanted to be measured by how well the poor were fed and educated etc, and AFAIK nobody knows.”

    I am sure that Stalin and Pol Pot wanted to be measured by how the poor were fed. And I am sure they thought they were. That is the point isn’t it? People don’t go out wanting to turn Jews into bars of soap because they like bars of soap. They do it because their noble, higher feelings call them to do it.

    And Allende chose a warrior’s death? Trapped in the Presidential Palace he, or his bodyguard, puts a bullet through his brain?

    “He’d have been a fool not to have had weapons at the palace.”

    He was a fool to ask the East Germans and Cubans to give him security advice.

    Hugh – “if murdering 30000 people counts as an era of peace, I’d hate to be around when you think the going’s a little rough.”

    How else is peace maintained but through violence against those that would disrupt it?

  33. Just in passing, I have heard Rik Mayall has died. Not sure if he was a lovely man – although vastly better than Owen Jones. However he did seem fairly genuine and a good father. Not minor virtues in modern British actors.

    Although he was only funny with the right writer, he really did entertain in many of his roles. What a shame.

  34. @ SMFS
    Not par for the course – he was the *only* Arab leader in the 20th century who was a professional assassin. Nasser and Hafez al-Assad were pretty nasty but not *that* bad.
    Compare the mullahs’ social views with those of the Americans.

  35. john77 – “Not par for the course – he was the *only* Arab leader in the 20th century who was a professional assassin. Nasser and Hafez al-Assad were pretty nasty but not *that* bad.”

    An amateur assassin surely? He just killed people for his cousin. Virtually every President of Algeria has been a veteran of the War against France. So basically professional assassins. As with the South Yemeni leaders. Nasser and Sadat come to that.

    Still, Begin might not have been an Arab, but he was a murderer.

    “Compare the mullahs’ social views with those of the Americans.”

    So stoning rape victims makes them natural US allies? The Iranians are very intellectually sophisticated. They are not stuck in the Stone Age like so many Sunni Islamists. They are certainly not knee jerk reactionaries.

  36. john77 – “Not par for the course – he was the *only* Arab leader in the 20th century who was a professional assassin. Nasser and Hafez al-Assad were pretty nasty but not *that* bad.”

    Just in passing, let me quote Wikipedia about the late, unlamented, People’s Democratic Republic of South Yemen:

    On January 13, 1986, bodyguards of Ali Nasir Muhammad opened fire on members of the Yemeni Socialist Party politburo as the body was due to meet. Most of the politburo members were armed and had their own bodyguards, so gunfire broke out. Ali Nasir´s supporters were not in the meeting room at the time. Vice-president Ali Ahmad Nasir Antar, Defense minister Saleh Muslih Qassem and the YSP disciplinary chief, Ali Shayi Hadi were killed in the shootout.

    Although they only name bodyguards, usually the story goes that members of the Politburo pulled out their own guns and blazed away. But this is perhaps a little forgivable. Not cold blooded assassination anyway.

    Besides, if only every politburo meeting ended this way.

  37. Johnnydub

    “The left loathe Pinochet’s Chile for two reasons:”

    Agree. It’s the fact that Chile is such a success that triggers the real loathing. If Castro had got Cuba even a fraction of the living standard of Chile you would never hear the end of it.

    The butchers bill in both cases looks about the same.and while not for a second excusing Pinochet, Chile does seem to be a wealthier, freer, and better place at the end, as apposed to Cuba being a significantly poorer, less free country.

  38. ohn77
    “Saddam Takriti Hussein was not *that* unknown – one of my then colleagues briefed me that his pre-coup career had been as an assassin. Sadly the Americans assumed that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” so supported him against the reactionary mullahs in Iran, which latter actually had more in common with the USA than the the mudering totalitarian socialists of the Iraqi Ba’athists.”

    Saddam is one of those rare occasions where the Americans got it roughly right. They did not support his war against Iran to any great degree, didn’t sell him weapons etc. They did provide a little bit of intelligence, but no more than what they provided Iran with in terms of F-14 spares etc.

    France and Russia were Iraq’s main supporters, with quite a bit coming from Germany as well.

  39. David Moore – “The butchers bill in both cases looks about the same.and while not for a second excusing Pinochet, Chile does seem to be a wealthier, freer, and better place at the end, as apposed to Cuba being a significantly poorer, less free country.”

    Excuse Pinochet, why not? The butcher’s bill does not look the same. The Cuban exiles estimate Castro has killed about 100,000. A more sane estimate might be a tenth of that or so. Pinochet is said to have killed *or* tortured 3,000.

    And Castro was not facing a totalitarian terrorist movement.

  40. SMFS,

    And somehow we’ve been able to maintain the peace in this country without the state murdering 30000 citizens. Go figure…

  41. Hugh – “And somehow we’ve been able to maintain the peace in this country without the state murdering 30000 citizens. Go figure…”

    True. But the British are a peaceable lot. Notice that Thatcher did let the SAS off the lead and they did start executing British subjects in Northern Ireland.

    We are doing a p!ss poor job of it with the Islamists and no doubt we will get around to executing some of them too. One way or the other.

  42. Possibly the only writer more purblind, blinkered and stupid than Richard J Murphy, although Tim keeps coming up with new candidates whose ignorance knows no bounds…. As the Stigler points out, at the age of 30 you’d expect the guy to start growing up a bit, but the endless supply of money from the public sector via the Trade Unions and adverts for non- jobs ensures perpetual adolescence…..

  43. Hugh,

    > And somehow we’ve been able to maintain the peace in this country without the state murdering 30000 citizens.

    Really?

    Figures for casualties during this period are unreliable, but some attempt has been made to provide rough estimates. In England, a conservative estimate is that roughly 100,000 people died from war-related disease during the three civil wars. Historical records count 84,830 dead from the wars themselves. Counting in accidents and the two Bishops’ wars, an estimate of 190,000 dead is achieved, out of a total population of about five million.

  44. The Cuban exiles estimate Castro has killed about 100,000. A more sane estimate might be a tenth of that or so. Pinochet is said to have killed *or* tortured 3,000.

    I don’t want to get involved in an argument about which evil murderer is more evil, but that’s no reason to make stuff up.

    In reality, a Chilean human rights commission has found that Pinochet killed or “disappeared” over 3000 political opponents, and tortured or abused tens of thousands. There’s been no equivalent commission in Cuba, but counts by exile groups of roughly equivalent killings come to about 5,000.

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