Britischer Ex-General auf Eliten-Egotrip

A Brit General's Ego Trip Propaganda von Eliteinteressen: Der britische Ex-General Simon Mayall agitiert für die Kooperation mit den Saudis und die Waffenexporte, Kritik am Jemenkrieg sei "naiv".

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Propaganda of elite interests: British ret. Gen. Simon Mayall propagates cooperation with Saudi Arabia and arms exports. Criticism of the Saudi Yemen war is "naiv".

English text below.

Der britische Generalleutnant a. D. Simon Mayall, ehemaliger Sicherheitsberater des britischen Verteidigungsministeriums, hat in einem Artikel auf der Webseite des Telegraph vom 26. April 2016 in einer Weise zu den britischen Waffenlieferungen an Saudi-Arabien und dem Krieg im Jemen Stellung genommen, die nicht unwidersprochen bleiben kann.

Großbritannien ist nach den USA mit weitem Abstand vor allen anderen Ländern der zweitwichtigste Waffenlieferant für Saudi Arabien. Ein großer Teil der Kampfjets der saudischen Luftwaffe sind BAE Eurofighter Typhoons, und nach dem Beginn des Jemenkriegs hat sich der britische Verkauf von Bomben an Saudi Arabien um 10.000 % erhöht. Auch politisch und logistisch haben die Briten den saudischen Krieg im Jemen stets eifrig unterstützt. Gegen alle Widerstände hat die britische Regierung stets daran festgehalten – bis hin zu einer schon ins Lächerliche abgleitenden Verleugnung aller Fakten , was den saudischen Luftkrieg angeht.

Mayall orientiert sich in diesem Artikel – der sich eng anlehnt an Mayalls Stellungnahme zu einer Anfrage des britischen Unterhauses über die Verwendung britischer Waffen im Jemenkrieg – einzig und allein an dem, was er als „britische Interessen“ definiert. Schon in dieser Definition ist ihm nicht zu folgen – geschweige denn in der dahinter durchscheinenden moralischen Bankrotterklärung.

Diese ausschließliche Orientierung Mayalls an den eigenen Interessen hat den Ausschlag für den Titel gegeben: Es ist in der Tat ein Egotrip – freilich einer, der für westliche Eliten typisch ist –, auf den sich der General a. D. hier begeben hat. Damit ist er nicht nur ein britisches Phänomen und die Auseinandersetzung damit nicht nur für die Briten von Interesse. Hier spricht ein Vetreter unserer Eliten - freilich auf eine sehr direkte, brutale und plumpe Weise. Aber dafür sollte man einem wie ihm direkt dankbar sein. Politiker reden selten so direkt.

Zwei Hauptpunkte meiner Kritik: 1.) Der "War on Terror" ist grandios gescheitert. Er hat den Terrorismus befördert und nicht eingedämmt. 2.) Jemandem ein Messer zwischen die Rippen zu rammen oder Waffen an ein Regime wie die Saudis zu verkaufen - dazwischen besteht nur ein gradueller, kein prinzipieller Unterschied.

Da Mayalls Artikel natürlich auf Englisch erschienen sind, ist die folgende Replik ebenfalls auf Englisch verfasst. Ich bitte das mir nachzusehen.

British retired Lt. General Simon Mayall, former Defence Senior Advisor Middle East at the Ministry of Defence, wrote a statement on the Yemen war and the British arms sales to Saudi Arabia , which cannot stay without comment. It was published April 26 at the website of The Telegraph. Mayall just makes a point of “British interests” – or interests he labels as “British”. That was the reason for choosing the title – That really is a “ego trip” – as a matter of fact a Western elites’ one.

Let us start with excerpts of Mayall’s article. Please read in full at the original site to fully appreciate.

26.4.2016 – The Telegraph (A P)

Our allies in the Gulf feel let down by Britain

The Middle East is facing one of the most turbulent periods in its history.

But we in the West are not helping.

Iran continues to manipulate proxies that sustain discord in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen.

The United Kingdom is playing a leading role in the global fight against terrorism and efforts to bring stability to the region. However, we need friends in this enterprise, and those friends need to know that Britain is a reliable ally. The Prime Minister, on several occasions, has noted that Saudi counter-terrorism intelligence has saved British lives. We need to reciprocate.

The inquiry by the parliamentary committee on arms export control into the sale of UK weapons to Saudi Arabiathat are then used in the ongoing operations in Yemen is so unwelcome and self-defeating. Faced with their multiple security concerns, and now with this inquiry, the Saudis and other regional allies could be forgiven for questioning our commitment to supporting them in their efforts to pursue our shared interest in confronting terrorism. A small coalition of vocal special-interest campaigning groups seems intent on pursuing agendas, which are, at worst, hostile to Britain’s national interests, and at best ill-informed or naive.

In Yemen, already an al-Qaeda base, a minority group, the Houthis, with significant external support and encouragement from Iran, are attempting to undermine and depose the internationally recognised government. In doing so they have created an area of alarming instability on the border of Saudi Arabia and provoked a major humanitarian crisis.

Our competitors see great opportunities to fill the security and economic vacuums that would be left by Britain’s actions.

When considering the best ways of helping stabilise the region, improving our own security, and protecting the lives of our own citizens, we should be looking to coordinate and cooperate with friends and allies in the Gulf on the basis of understanding and mutual interest.

Most informed observers would contend that the last thing we need in the region now is another “Arab Spring”. The UK, the Government and MPs must make up their minds: do they want to contribute to security or insecurity?

I labeled this a typical western elite’s ego trip – because only own interests matter. And even worse, own interests in the meaning of a small elite’s interests, labeled as national interests. The interests of others, even the most basic ones as staying alive or not having one’s livelihood bombed to rubble, are of no importance at all.

Mayall is writing that the inquiry by the parliamentary committee on arms export control into the sale of UK weapons to Saudi Arabia that are then used in the ongoing operations in Yemen is so unwelcome and self-defeating. He blames the parliament for this inquiry – just because it would discomfort the Saudis. Be conscious: A possible discomfort of a (foreign) autocratic monarchy for Mayall is reason enough to demand the British parliament not to do it’s work (well, even a 16. century British would have shivered at this impertinence).

But for Mayall, that is just the way Parliament should act as Britain would be in need of the Saudis to pursue “our” own interests. Thus, everything discomforting the Saudis according to Mayall has to be avoided – what definitely not has to be avoided is killing scores and bombing half a country into rubble.

Thus, in the best case, the whole Saudi aerial war on Yemen with its scores of killed, wounded, displaced people and turning half a country into rubble, to Mayall just is a kind of [necessary and unavoidable] “collateral damage” of pursuing one’s own interests.

To make this sound a little better, Mayall just does not mention the Saudi aerial war by any word – not even by denying it’s civilian impact – , playing the card of counterterrorism instead. Anyway, the Saudi war against the Houthis in Yemen does not have anything to do with fighting against any terrorism which would really threaten the West.

In this context, Mayall also repeats the common Saudi propaganda against the Houthis – a propaganda which puts upside down.

This really is a strange view of the world. Certainly it is very close to the view of the British government, anyway. Well, everyone chooses the friends he deserves. If these are head choppers, suppressors of women, spreaders of terrorist ideologies, financiers of terrorists, those who destroy a country and kill thousands, it’s Mayall’s choice telling a lot about himself. Look: he even is not just speaking of useful cooperation with the Saudis, but of friendship. And for him it is totally necessary to keep up with that what he defines as British interests – and that includes to implement them by something like the Saudi aerial war.

What does this really mean: Does it mean imperialism at the level of Lothar von Trotha’s Herero war (as a German I take an example from German history) even without having an empire? Does it mean to act as a junior partner of the US and to feel like a participant in the US 21. century style empire? Well, this might be an explanation.

Mayall is blaming humanitarian organizations for their campaigns against the alliance with the Saudis and against Saudi warfare in Yemen: “A small coalition of vocal special-interest campaigning groups seems intent on pursuing agendas, which are, at worst, hostile to Britain’s national interests, and at best ill-informed or naive.” Well, looking at the bulks of evidence these organisations and people have collected, calling them ill-informed is rather odd. Calling them “naive” is telling a lot about the author himself. Take it as it is: In his opinion, it is just “naiv” to care for people killed and countries destructed outside the western hemisphere. At least, when these killings and destructions are “collateral damages” of pursuing “our” own interests.

What are the real interests Mayall calls “British”? One main of these interests certainly is continuing business and making money. And one great business to make a lot of money off course is the arms business. Selling weapons which are used to bring death, destruction and despair. What should we care for that in case our profit is growing?

It is growing by a steady armament and a steady increase of security industry and services, private and public. It is growing due to a permanent increase of terrorism and a permanent propaganda of menace and fear. And by this, as a (certainly appreciated) side effect all this furthermore is giving the pretense for steadily dismantling democracy and freedom in the own country, thus more and more fixing a certain elite’s rule. But who’s real interest is that? Is it really “British interest”?

The author stresses these special “British interests”. I doubt whether any typical British bus driver, nurse, professor in medieval history, medical doctor or who ever of the 99 % does have any interest in the Middle East having anything to do with what Mayall claims to be “British interests”.

His “British interests” are just the interests of a very small elite, and he declares these special elite interests as “British” to give them more weight, pretending they were the interests of all, what just not is the case.

The British majority might have the interest that there still will be enough oil available for them. But therefore you will not need any head chopping and bombing autocrats – not as business partners, not to mention as friends: Any “Arab Democratic Republic” or even “Arab Socialist Republic” will sell its oil as they will need the revenue.

Mr. and Mrs. Every British off course also want to live in safety without the menace of being attacked by terrorists. Mayall stresses that for that reason the Saudi friendship and Saudi counterterrorism politics would be necessary for Britain (as for the whole Western world as well).

He does not tell us that just the Saudis have fueled terrorism for decades by spreading their Wahabi ideology and by arming and funding various terrorist groups – by “petrodollars” the “West” itself had paid for Saudi oil.

He does not tell us that the great majority of the victims of terrorism are people in the Middle East. For Europeans, the probability to die in a terrorist attack is very low. In Western Europe, from 2001 to 2014, all together 420 people had died in terrorist attacks; in 2001, in the EU 54.900 died in traffic accidents, in 2014 still 25.900 people, that would be an average of ca. 40.000 a year, 560.000 between 2001 and 2014. And if that does not convince you, also read this here.

He does not tell us that the counterterrorism policy he praises has caused lots of innocent civilian victims in various countries in the Middle East, as well as did “terrorism”. For those who are affected, there is hardly any difference between “terrorism” and “counterterrorism”.

He does not tell us that this politics of “counterterrorism” has totally failed. When the US /UK /Bush / Blair) “War on Terror” started in 2001, there were six terrorists in Yemen US officials were worrying about. Today, 14 ½ years of “War on Terror” later, there are thousands of Al Qaida fighters only in Yemen, and hundreds of the IS. That really is a great success of this “counterterrorism”!

It is well known that for every killed terrorist a much larger number of innocent civilians – family members, neighbours, bystanders, all these “collateral damages” – are killed. And thus, for every terrorist who has been successfully killed there might arise ten others full of hatred and just seeking revenge for their killed wife, children, parents…

How long we should allow this crazy “War on Terror” to be continued, killing scores abroad, leading to more deadly attacks against Westerners, pushing up the number of terrorists to the ten thousands in Yemen alone? It’s time to stop. It’s time for a new approach.

That would be a reasonable conclusion, but one more point has to be looked at somewhat more.

Mayall’s article is relying on his submission for the inquiry by the parliamentary committee on the use of UK manufactured arms in Yemen (

In this statement, he broadly repeats the well-known Saudi propaganda relating to the Yemen war, and (both largely coinciding) the point of view of the British government – which Mayall himself had influenced during his active time as senior adviser. All this is nothing new, it has been reported, has been criticised and pulled to pieces a lot of times.

I do not want to repeat this again. Just one point which is not mentioned in the Telegraph article, but is an important matter in Mayall’s inquiry submission, that’s the UK defence and security industry

Mayall states: Countries in the Gulf, principally Saudi Arabia, but all the other GCC countries, play a hugely important role for the UK defence exports industry. In pursuing our own security concerns, while contributing to the stability of this crucial region, we also advance our prosperity agenda. The Committee will have fuller detail, but the UK defence sector sustains, directly and indirectly, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and much of our national position as a global leader in manufacturing and technology. ‘Defence exports’ extend not only to the sale of traditional platforms and munitions, but also to related industries and activities, like strategic, operational and tactical military training, border protection, security programmes and the like.”

That’s certainly true. That’s why the government, Prime Minister Cameron in the most prominent place, by any means wants to keep up the arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies. There has been expressed a lot of critics against the government because of this.

Emphasising on the “hundreds of thousands of jobs” again is an attempt to make the interests of the arms industry appear as the interests of Mr. Every British – the successful trick of obscuring the 1 % elite’s interests.

Well, the problem easily can be reduced to a simple moral question: Is it alright for oneself to benefit (or to live from) producing something that actually hurts, kills and destroys anywhere in the world? There might be a difference if these arms just are sold to the own nation or to other democracies claiming to use them just for self defense – what often means that they are stored for the case of need, used for exercises and are scrapped when out of age. But what goes to happen if these arms had been sold to quite dubious autocratic guys hardly caring for any human rights and extensively using them?

Or do we just not care because all this is happening far enough away? Or because it is happening to non-whites? ”Bad luck, Yemeni friend, that’s life” [or death, in your case, really a pity, but what shall I do, folks].

Mayall, the British government, the 1 % elite benefiting most from all these arms deals, clearly have answered this question for themselves. Nobody must accept such an answer for himself. It’s time to acknowledge the truth that arms trade means killing. It’s time to acknowledge that there is just a gradual, not a general difference between sliding a knife between anyone other's ribs and selling arms to a regime like Saudi Arabia.

Simon Mayall off course is not standing alone. His statements might be the most brutal and direct pronouncement of this Western elite’s ego trip relating to the Yemen war and Saudi Arabia. Politicians rarely speak this frankly. We even can be grateful to Mayall for having shown us this in su ch a clear way.

And thus, Mayall and his statements are not only of interest for the British, but for all of us.

Dieser Beitrag gibt die Meinung des Autors wieder, nicht notwendigerweise die der Redaktion des Freitag.
Geschrieben von

Dietrich Klose

Vielfältig interessiert am aktuellen Geschehen, zur Zeit besonders: Ukraine, Russland, Jemen, Rolle der USA, Neoliberalismus, Ausbeutung der 3. Welt

Dietrich Klose