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Not Adding Up: Australia, Iran and the Release of Kylie Moore-Gilbert

Australia’s ambassadorial offices and political leaders have a consistent record of ignoring their citizens in tight situations. David Hicks, Mamdouh Habib and Julian Assange are but a few names that come to mind in this inglorious record of indifference. In such cases, Australian public figures and officials have tacitly approved the use of abduction, torture and neglect, usually outsourced and employed by allies such as the United States.

Australian diplomacy, to that end, is nastily cheap. It comes at heavily discounted prices, when it comes at all. To then see the extent of interest and effort in seeking the release of Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert from Iranian captivity, is as interesting as it is perplexing. A work ethic in Canberra has come into being. Nothing was spared securing the release of Moore-Gilbert, where she had been imprisoned for espionage charges and spent 804 days in detention. Fears for her wellbeing spiked with her transfer to Qarchak women’s prison, not known for its salubrious facilities. She had previously spent time at Tehran’s Evin prison.

Efforts were made by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who raised Moore-Gilbert’s detention in four meetings with her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. As she confirmed, the release “was achieved through diplomatic engagement with the Iranian government.”

Iranian authorities put it to the Australians that they wanted three of their covert operatives – Saeid Moradi, Mohammad Kharzei and Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh – released. The three men in question had been held in Thailand for planting explosive devices in Bangkok in an effort to assassinate Israeli diplomats in 2012. Whatever the skills of these operatives, bomb making was evidently low on the list. An accidental explosion holed their rented Bangkok villa. Moradi was sentenced to life for his attempt to kill a police officer. The police officer survived; Moradi’s legs did not, lost when a grenade he tossed bounced back and detonated. Kharzei received 15 years for possessing explosives.

With the list handy, the Australian government approached Thai contacts. Moore-Gilbert’s release had, Payne claimed, become a matter of “absolute priority”. Israeli government officials were also engaged. A secret agreement was reached, involving what was effectively a prisoner exchange.

Whatever else is said of her case, the issue of the effort and labour put in is significant. Throw in the cliché of being an academic with Middle Eastern expertise working in foreign climes, and you have a recipe rather richer than is advertised.

The heavily scripted nature of the affair is screamingly evident. Media coverage of Moore-Gilbert’s release, and the circumstances of her detention, has avoided much in the way of analysis. The tone is very much that of the official press release. What we get, instead, are the anodyne statements from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, supposedly “thrilled and relieved” by the outcome. “The tone of her voice was very uplifting, particularly given what she has been through.” We also get notes of worry. Amber Schultz of Crikey expressed concern about the prolonged “ordeal” that would continue to face Moore-Gilbert upon her return to Australia.

That Moore-Gilbert’s release was, in fact, brokered as part of a broader prisoner release is not laboured over. The prime minister is cryptic in his statement. “If other people have been released in other places, they are the decisions of the sovereign governments. There are no people who have been held in Australia who have been released.” Skirted over, as well, is Moore-Gilbert’s relationship with an Israeli, which, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, led to “baseless claims that she was a spy for Israel.”

Iran’s Young Journalist Club has its own serve on the subject, making mention of the release. Moore-Gilbert “was swapped for an Iranian businessman and two other nationals incarcerated abroad on delusional accusations, Iranian news agencies reported.” It notes a report by the IRNA news agency claiming that the academic “had passed a two-year special training course for her spying mission.” She attained fluency in Persian “and was prepared to perform espionage activities in Iran.” What interested the IRNA was her second visit, when “she entered Iran on the recommendation of the Zionist regime [Israel] on the lunar calendar month of Muharram.” Details are sketchy on what Moore-Gilbert supposedly did. She “travelled to different cities as part of her mission and gathered information.”

For her part, Moore-Gilbert, in letters smuggled out of Evin prison, denies ever being a spy. “I am not a spy. I have never been a spy, and I have no interest to work for a spying organisation in any country.”

The standard concern by some in the media stable is that such exchanges are common instruments in Tehran’s foreign policy arsenal. The Australian director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, suggested “a clear pattern by Iran’s government to arbitrarily detain foreign and dual nationals and use them as bargaining chips in negotiations with other states.” The executive director of the Australian Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Colin Rubenstein saw the practice of using hostages in exchanges “for terrorists is typical of the tyrannical Iranian regime.” Karim Sadjadpour, senior fellow with the Middle Eastern program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, notes “hostage-taking as a tool of statecraft for four decades now. The Revolutionary Guards are blatant about it and believe it delivers results.”

Such concerns are legitimate and consistent, though the circumstances for each situation varies. Attention should be paid to the quarry being traded. The Iranian Republic has a striking appetite for detaining academics and researchers. French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali, have all been the subject of Tehran’s ire. Djalali, also accused of spying for Israel, faces execution.

The question not being asked is why Moore-Gilbert was that valuable so as to warrant the release of three Iranian agents. Afshon Ostovar, an academic based at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Department of National Security Affairs, sees little in the incongruence; Iran negotiation strategy, he more than implies, lacks proportion. “It seems rather puzzling that Iran’s imprisonment of an innocent foreign grad student [sic] should lead to the release of three of its covert agents jailed for failed explosive attacks in Thailand but that’s how the Islamic Republic does business.”

One person not exactly cheering the prisoner swap is Israel’s former ambassador to Thailand, Itzhak Shoham. On Israel’s Channel 12, he vented. “I don’t know anything about this deal beyond what was published. Of course it saddens me to see the pictures as [the Iranians] celebrate instead of rotting in prison, if they haven’t already been executed.” Rather abstractedly, Shoham had one consolation: that the former chief of Iran’s Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, was killed in January in a US drone strike.

This prisoner exchange is also odd in another respect. Such instances are usually occasions of much fanfare for Tehran. Iranian television anchors tend to be at hand, noting the names of the released figures and their return to families. “The reason for Iran’s refusal to name those freed remains unclear,” states the cautious Times of Israel. “However, Tehran has long denied being behind the bomb plot and likely hopes to leverage the incoming administration of US President-Joe Biden to ease American sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump.

The nagging question remains: Why did the Australian government regard Moore-Gilbert’s case as exceptional?

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  1. John Hanna

    Mirrors my own sceptical thoughts.

  2. DrakeN

    We remain, as always, “mushrooms”.

    If anyone should imagine that we, the citizens of the mediocre world of the hoi polloi will ever become privy to the machinations of those who use us for their own benefits and evil purposes, then he/she/it needs intense psychiatric interventions.

  3. Karen Kyle

    Yeah….FARS puts some meat on the bones, but given it is an Iranian contolled publication I would take it with a large pinch of salt. The story is too far fetched to be credible.

  4. mark delmege

    Karen – would you prefer to believe the Australian govt or an Australian Govt state media outlet like the ABC or the SBS … and if so why?

  5. Karen Kyle

    I have no idea why this woman was released. Nor do I care particularly. The ABC reported on the case. The fact that she had been released which is obvious from the television pictures, and that she had been held for spying, which is what the Iranians said. What else can the media say?
    If she travelled to Iranian religious and tourist sites one wonders what intelligence she gleaned from that. Probably none. Hardly the source of nuclear secrets. And, as a rogue toalitarian state we can confidently expect Iran to lie it’s head off. And she seems to have got a doctorate, changed her religion to Judaism and learned to speak Farsi in a very short time. These accomplishments usually take years. Give me a break.

  6. RomeoChatlie29

    This is tricky. As Bono’s points out the Australian efforts on Kylie’s behalf hint at deeper issues. The FARS report contains a lot of detail that goes far beyond a simple smear sheet. If Kylie is important to Israel one wonders why they would acquiesce to a swap of terrorists who targeted their nationals, though given their apparent ability to assassinate with impunity on Iranian soil one would not expect those released to have long lives. In any case an intriguing story.

  7. Terence Mills

    By distancing himself, Morrison adds to the mystery of the Australian flagged aircraft that flew between Australia, Bangkok, Teheran and back.

    Morrison says “If other people have been released in other places, they are the decisions of the sovereign governments. There are no people who have been held in Australia who have been released.” So was this all down to the Thais ?

    Best come clean Scomo otherwise a humanitarian act is immersed in unsavoury dealings with a rogue regime.

    Having said that, can we ask who Boris wants to swap for Assange !

  8. Karen Kyle

    Interesting article in the Guardian today listing the number of innocents Iran has snatched and imprisoned on trumped up charges. Apparently they do it often. At one time there were thirty imprisoned. No evidence has been presented to suggest she was spying for anyone including Israel.

    And Binoy’s article is opinion. Not fact. And very odd opinion at that.

    At least the Guardian’s reporting is based on fact.

  9. Roswell

    Perhaps you could come up with something better, Karen.

    Feel free to submit it to The AIMN.

  10. Michael Taylor

    And Binoy’s article is opinion. Not fact. And very odd opinion at that.

    That sounds like 99.99% of your comments.

  11. mark delmege

    Calling Iran a a rogue totalitarian state is a little disingenuous.
    Suggesting it would just rip someone off the streets and imprison them for years for no better reason that years down the track using them for prisoner swaps is just silly.

  12. wam

    She got gaol for doing a berejiklian (where does a male sexist country fit with the cries of men against the nsw premier???)
    She got freed, why?????
    Something’s crook in tallarook!!!!
    ps my search skill cannot find her place of birth??? is she an Australian or a pom???
    Where is boris????

  13. Roswell

    ” Calling Iran a a rogue totalitarian state is a little disingenuous.”

    I can’t believe this, mark, but I agree with you.

  14. Andrew J. Smith

    Having some knowledge of Iran, one is surprised that any high level academic would risk visiting Iran let alone attending a conference and doing interview research too (different from tourism and/or personal).

    Unless closely affiliated with a local university, they would immediately be viewed as a risk (she was apparently highlighted by an Iranian academic she had interviewed) e.g. independent, expertise in Islamic Studies, links with Israel (lived one year studying Hebrew) etc. would be enough to inspire paranoia, and also useful as a potential bargaining chip?

    Unclear exactly on what basis she was given a visa (apart from conference) if she had a clear connection with Israel, but anyone academic or otherwise doing research can produce very paranoid reactions in Iran, Turkey and the region, even amongst educated middle class academics, and deemed to be working for e.g. ‘the CIA’.

    Further, academics are often only slightly better treated than journalists; bit like the parts of the western world nowadays with paranoia from govt. and authorities on universities, education, journalists and security.

  15. Karen Kyle

    Mark D
    The whole world knows that Iran is a rouge totalitarian state, except you apparently. Snatching people off the street and imprisoning them is standard practise for North Korea, China, and Iran. remember the two Michaels, and the Australian journalist. They do it to punish and itimidate as well as provide
    leverage for barganing. Punishment would be for the sanctions imposed on Iran and general grievances. Remember the US is the Great Satan and remember Iran is a theocracy.

    Sorry I forgot. If you despise the West of course you would line up with Iran.

    Sounds like there has been a lot of disinformation on Facebook, as usual.
    Facebook is a great place for hard line Lefties to pile on screeching that black is white. It is a purely automatic knee jerk reaction and it is immediate.

    She is married to an Israeli, but according to the Guardian article no evidence has been presented to suggest she is anything other than an innocent academic. And academics are a favourite target for Iran for some reason. Probably because academics are the only people with legitimate reasons to travel to Iran. She was invited to attend a conference.

    Hostage diplomacy isn’t new. It has been standard practise for Islamic terrorists who have used it to raise money among other things.

    And she was treated as an Australian citizen because she was using her Australian passport. That makes sense. Because she is employed in Australia at Melbourne Uni she is an Australian academic and the invitation came to her in Australia.

    But if you want to believe something deeply sinister is going on go right ahead.

  16. jim

    They lied about Iraq
    They lied about Afghanistan
    They lied about Libya
    They lied about Syria…etc, etc..building 7.etc etc..
    But now they are telling the truth, ok.

  17. calculus witherspoon.

    Given the way Iran has been mangled the last century, little wonder it is not even nastier than what it is.

    “Oh, to see ourselves as others see us”

  18. mark delmege

    Karen – Perhaps you have never met anyone who has recently travelled to Iran or know Iranians. Maybe if you did you might lose the attitude. I hope you dont believe everything written in the Guardian cos it can be pretty dodgy at times and too often follows British Govt policy and has often been said to be too close to British Intelligence.
    Iran is somewhat paranoid – but with reason. MEK is a western funded terrorist organisation operating within and around Iran – they are pretty handy with guns and bombs and probably or possibly ran the hit on the Iranian scientist this week for Israel with full US approval.
    Can you imagine how paranoid an Australian Government would be knowing that foreign powers were funding these sorts of outfits within Australia. Seriously.
    BTW Iran China Russia and North Korea are not your enemy.

  19. calculus witherspoon.

    Yet another assassination of an Iranian scientist figure on Iranian soil has received very little coverage in MSM concerning threats of “terrorism”, with the Guardian fretting about retaliation from Tehran toward the usual suspect. An alternative headline from that journal could have read,

    “What mysterious terrorist organisation has been responsible for the violent and provocative deaths of several high ranking Iranians over the last decade and who is sponsoring terrorism in West Asia?”

    Are the Americans involved in any of these goings-on, or the Brits, to do with some sort of detente?

    Is it just Israel again, scared that the Iranians may end up being able to hit back at Israel in the same way it hits out at those who incur its displeasure?

    Once again, after years of poverty-inflicting sanctions on a notorious and hypocritical double standard concerning defence issues and the state terrorism implicit in the Yemen genocide for example, I fail to see what exactly it is about the oil filching, geopolitics obsessed West and its allies that should particularly enamour them to Iran and other nations in that region, although I suppose the blockading of China and Russia is probably all part of this centuries “Grand Game” involving ruthless and amoral big powers.

  20. Steve Davis

    Calculus, I agree entirely.

    The sanctions and embargoes that the US imposes on perceived enemies (most of whom are not actually enemies, eg Cuba) are simply acts of war and terrorism minus the sounds of explosions and gunfire.
    Yet this is accepted as normal by our journalists and government.

  21. Terence Mills

    In 2015, after many years of quiet negotiation, the Obama administration headed up the The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) designed to bring Iran back into the global community and reduce its nuclear ambitions. The signatories to this historic agreement included Iran plus the P5 + 1 – (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, the European Union, United States—plus Germany).

    By any standards of global cooperation it was a major achievement and had the potential to eliminate the threat of nuclear war in the Middle East.

    Under JCPOA, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges and for a period of 15 years Iran agreed to limit uranium enrichment. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were to monitor progress and have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities.

    Subject to Iran abiding by the agreement and its objectives, Iran was to receive some relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related sanctions.

    So far so good : Iran would be held to it’s obligations and any deviation would bring down the wrath of the global community so whilst it was considered only as a road-map it certainly seemed to be heading the the right direction.

    But then in 2016 along came Trump, who was being heavily influenced by Bibi Netanyahu and hated everything that Obama had achieved while in office, and so the USA unilaterally backed out of the agreement and intensified sanctions against Iran and its people : even to the extent that we now see political assassinations becoming the order of the day.

    I for one, hope that the Biden administration have the courage to resurrect this agreement and push on with diplomacy in the Middle East : assassinations of your political opponents is no way forward.

    That’s my view !

  22. mark delmege

    All true. Trump has certainly been one of the most pro Israel Presidents ever. Mind you the war against Syria (by Obama) was very much a favour to Israel. Israel also did what it could to assist al qaeda types to take down Assad. And its worth noting that – PM Olmert of Israel ran the Operation Cast Lead aka the Gaza Massacre in the transmission months 2008-09 leading up to the inauguration of Obama ie between the outgoing Bush and incoming Obama much like Netanyahu has just run an assassination operation in Iran between the outgoing Trump and incoming Biden. Why you might ask…because they can!
    I heard those clowns on the ABC this morning, I’m sure high school students could have done better but then the ABC is a major fail when it come to foreign reporting and as perception managers they are just shit.

  23. Michael Taylor

    I might be trying to connect some very wide dots here; but Pompeo meets with Netanyahu and within a couple of days there’s a political assassin in Iran.

    Someone please tell me I’m dreamin’.

  24. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, mark. I was indeed grasping at straws.

  25. Steve Davis

    I’m not so sure that you’re off the mark Michael.

    It could have been pre-planned, just needing a final nod of approval.

  26. Karen Kyle

    Terence Mills

    I agree with you entirely.
    Bravo for explaining it well.

  27. Karen Kyle

    Mark D
    the MEK seems to be an entirely home grown i.e. Iranian organisation against the Mullahs.

    It has been made use of by Saddaam and now the Trump administration as well as right wing Brits. It has degenerated into a cult.

    It has a lot of money. Suspicions are that it is financed by the Saudis who are anxious to see the regime of the Mullahs fall.

    The recent killing of yet another Iranian Nuclear scientist has all the hallmarks of a small terrorst organisation i.e. the use of a truck loaded with explosives.

    When Isreal kills Iranian Nuclear scientists these killings have the hallmarks of a “state actor” i.e. the full use of state intelligence, elaborate planning, military equipment like boats,, submarines, especially trained forces etc. When Israel kills Iran nuclear scientists they say so eventually, and even make documentary films about it. Just as they made documentary films about Opration Orchard and Operation Opera.

    Israel is an independent state and they do their own thing. They don’t apply to the US for permission, although they usually let the US know after the fact.

    And the MEK is another symptom of the unholy mess that is ME politics.

    A change of regime in Iran would not change anything. They are used to dictators. And Russia and China would be pleased to help them continue with Authoritarian Rule.

    You may not consider Iran Russia China North Korea as enemies. Neither do I. It is their rotten corrupt brutal regimes I hate with a passion. Their propensity to slaughter millions of their own is beyond bad. It is pure evil.

  28. mark delmege

    you were doing well until the last two paras.

  29. Michael Taylor

    Karen Kyle, to suggest that mark delmege supports the killing of millions of people is a deplorable accusation. I would expect a retraction.

    If none is forthcoming I will be deleting the accusation.

  30. calculus witherspoon.

    You don’t get it do you, Karen Kyle. The double standard is the fuel that has that has burned grief and anger into the hearts of those who have been its victims, with an entire region kept in servitude as a component of someone else’s empire.

    The $30 billion squander on US arms to puppet Saudi Arabia is just the latest example of many of the system and the ordained wastage that produces another Syria, Iraq, Yemen (several more, besides) while a few oligarchs and local allied kleptocrats consolidate a feudalist global system founded on poverty and repression.

    In short, Palestine is the micro for the whole evil shabang!.

  31. Karen Kyle

    Mark D


    As for the Trump administration support for Israel, that happened
    because Trump needs the right wing Christian vote. He lets them pray over him and they elevate him to messiah status. He loves it.

    The Israelis regard Christian fundamentalists as absurd, but they certainly make use of them.

    Operation Good Neighbour was a massive Israeli program to feed and supply medical treatment for thousands of sick and wounded Syrians who, in an atempt to flee the war had massed along the Israeli border.

    Sick and injured Syrians including those wounded males of military age were treated in clinics just outside the border of taken to hospitals in Israel, often for months. No questions asked of anyone.

    This was an act of generosity all too rare during war, but it was horrendously expensive.

    So….the Israelis got the Christian right who could raise millions in the US to pay for it.

    The last election shows that Trump’s support among right wing christians is no longer as strong. That is agood thing.

  32. Michael Taylor

    Karen Kyle, your vile accusations against mark delmege have been deleted.

  33. Karen Kyle

    Calculus…….never read a better knee jerk response to a complex problem. Pure Marxist propaganda. The far right exists in a bubble, and so does the Left.

    Karl Marx railed against his followers because they would not read history. They continue to not read history. They read only what fellow travellers have written of filmed, thus constantly reinforcing their own bias. And they will recommend these authors and media people to all and sundry as the only truth in media just as the right wing does.

    And they have a formulaic knee jerk response to just about any circumstance. They ignore reality. Reality demonstrates their doubtful relationship to the facts and the truth.

    And where do you think the right wing lunatics got all this disinformation, misinformation and conspiracy theories from? Why they took it out of the Left Wing playbook. The Soviet Union and these days Russia have been doing it for years. Spreading all sorts of crap and lies to wage war on the West. And you help them and are aghast at the lies told by right wing nut jobs.

    Not only will Marxists not read history, because they are athiests they negate all religion as a motivating part of history, just as the Soviet Union did. Only now Russia has embraced orthodox christianity providing they can keep it firmly under control.

    All the bloody lies, all the twisted out of shape history, all the upending of reality which Russia is really getting into at the moment has been seized with glee and enthusiam by the right.

    Hopefully we can come out of the cesspool with democracy and our sanity intact.

    Maybe there will be another war. The situation is not good. Another war is too horrendous to contemplate. A devastating war, because of years of strategic and sysematic lies???????????

  34. Karen Kyle

    Michael……there is never a word from any of you about the atrocities committed by Russia China North Korea etc.

    It has been claimed the one hundred million people have died under communist regimes. Not a word about any of that…..not the deliberately induced starvation, not the arrests, the imprisonments, the exile of millions and the lying, oh, the lying. And you talk about double standards. Youcannot defend communist regimes.They are indefensible. You cannot give a free pass to ME authoritarian regimes, or any authoritarian regimes. We might have to live with them, we might have to do business with them. We don’t have to like or support them.

  35. Michael Taylor

    Karen, if you search to comments on this site or indeed the posts, you will find that we have been very critical of those regimes.

    And why not a word about it here? Simple. Because most of us like to stick to the topic of the post.

  36. mark delmege

    Karen Many of my jewish friends (some are even zionists) have more sense than to defend modern day Israel – but then I have jewish family who dont like me either so your criticism doesn’t bother me at all. Actually I always feel I’ve had a win when people abuse me and even more so from a zionist – so go right ahead.

  37. Karen Kyle

    Negative comments about Communist regimes or Russia today are rare on this site. As are relevant articles. In fact there seems to be an avoidance of articles re China or Russia today never mind North Korea or Ukraine or India.

    No articles on China, Russia the Ukraine, Belarus, India Japan, the South China Sea.

    There seems to be deiberate avoidance.

    Although Binoy Kampmark has appeard several times on state controlled Russian Television. He is introduced as a Foreign Policy and Security expert. As far as I know he has had no experiece in diplomacy, government or even the military.

  38. Steve Davis

    Every time I read of the 100 million that died under communism my frustration level goes up a few notches.

    Yes, Stalin was brutal, but as Chomsky has noted, it’s a feature of Western policy that we brutalise our perceived enemies, most of whom bear us no ill will at all, then use their inevitably brutal responses as justification for escalating the violence.

    The West attempted to strangle the Soviet Union at birth, invading on two fronts as soon as WW1 was over. But we condemn the Russians as being paranoid and aggressive.

    Gorbachev dismantled the Soviet Union on the basis of a guarantee that NATO would not expand towards Russia. A promise that was immediately broken, with Russia now facing military bases within striking distance. But they are just paranoid and aggressive, and what’s more, not to be trusted.

    As for the 100 million deaths, the independent and politically neutral economist Amartya Sen did a detailed study of the response by India and China to the East Asian famine of the mid-1900s, and concluded that the free market-based response to the crisis caused more deaths in a few years than the total attributed to communism.

    As for the “exile of millions” under communism that was mentioned above, have we forgotten the clearances of the Scottish Highlands to make way for sheep, and the starvation that forced the Irish to flee to North America while Ireland was exporting food?

    As Terry Eagleton noted in Why Marx Was Right, capitalism was also forged in blood and unimaginable suffering, but as it was not in living memory, we have forgotten. But we will live to regret that capitalist interventions that are ongoing and just as brutal, are not being forgotten and are preventing people today from constructing the future they wish for. It’s no coincidence that all the regimes we toppled in the Middle East were all socialist states of varying persuasions.

  39. Michael Taylor

    Negative comments about Communist regimes or Russia today are rare on this site. As are relevant articles.

    Good. You don’t like us. It might be a good time then to go away.

    You’ve picked a very bad day to piss me off, Karen. A very bad day.

    Might I suggest that you take a break for a while, as I’m getting very close to placing your comments in moderation.

  40. Michael Taylor

    Steve, the clearances of the Scottish Highlands stands as the first example of ethnic cleansing in modern history.

    PS: I’m certain that in a previous incarnation I fought at Culloden. 😉 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

  41. Karen Kyle

    There is a website…..Chomski’s Top two hundred lies.

    And I heard him say on a clip that until the Civil Rights Movement in the US there was no Freedom of Speech. Not in the Constitution, not in the Bill of Rights. Big Fat Lie.

  42. DrakeN

    Michael Taylor, I am all in favour of people expressing their own opinions, but not of inventing their own facts.
    That you have permitted this purveyor of ‘fake news’ and distorted ‘truth’ to continue thus far is evidence of a generosity of patience on your part.
    I would not have been so forebearing.

  43. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, Drake.

    I do find it odd that a person we give the freedom to comment here spends almost every visit as an opportunity to demean us. It’s like barging in to a friends house, demand they cook you roast lamb, and then spend the rest of the evening complaining about their cooking.

    And I can assure you that my patience is nearing its end.

  44. Steve Davis

    “I fought at Culloden”

    Nah Michael, I had you pictured from an earlier period, nicely painted in woad! : )

  45. Michael Taylor

    Was definitely at Culloden, Steve, but it didn’t end too well for me as I was only a young bloke when I took up arms in the American War of Independence. And I’m fairly sure I marched with the Irish at Castle Hill and later stood firm at the Eureka Stockade, before hurtling forward 70 years to do my bit in the Irish Rebellion. And I most likely fought the Romans in the Black Forest, too. 😀😀

  46. Matters Not

    Yep – let’s turn this site into an echo chamber. All howling the same tune. As for ‘facts’ being somehow above question (and not contestable) is just laughable. The there’s the meaning given to same. Next we’ll be in praise of John Howard and his view of history.

  47. Michael Taylor

    Don’t go there, MN. Not today.

    If you failed to grasp that I’ve had enough, then I’ll repeat it now: I’ve had enough.

    Please be kind to me and drop it.

  48. calculus witherspoon.

    Karen still trying to peddle the old equivalencing, Chomsky, Michael Taylor= Jo Stalin?

    Karen, why smear folk because they can refute your McCarthyite nonsenses.

    Come out of your psychotic cloud and breath the air, it is two thousand and twenty, not nineteen fifty.

    Fascism and Stalinism, not a binary opposition.. These two oppose enlightenment and democracy…facts and logic, not paranoia, please.

  49. Matters Not

    KK re

    until the Civil Rights Movement in the US there was no Freedom of Speech.

    That’s a contestable claim. Worth talking about. But, as always, it needs to be interpreted in a particular context. In the original US Constitution there was no freedom of speech until subsequent Amendments. Further, the US Constitution continues to evolve. The meanings given to particular aspects (including Amendments) is still a work in progress even if some want to end that. It’s a living, evolving document. And, I suspect, the emergence of Trump will cause further change.

    See what is happening with Supreme Court appointments. An attempt to hold back the tide of history?

  50. calculus witherspoon.

    Michael, you did better at Tewkesbury, but Marston Moor was a wipe out.

  51. Karen Kyle

    IMN…….What happened during the Civil Rights Movement was the opposition political forces KKK Republicans I presume etc would not allow The Civil Rights people to print and distribute leaflets, posters etc.

    The Civil Rights Movement took the matter to court citing Freedom of Speech and won the case, thus demonstrating that they always had Freedom of Speech and it was just a pity they had to go to Court to prove it.

    It Matters Not
    The situation developed during the Civil Rights Movement that Black Americans were not permitted by their white opposition to print and distribute leaflets, flyers posters etc. The Civil Rights Movement took the matter to court and won the case. Thus they proved that they did have Freedom of Speech and iit was a pity they had to go to court to prove it.

  52. Matters Not

    calculus witherspoon – yes Saudi Arabia’s global export of Wahhabism is a problem but not a recent one. It’s fueled by very rich oil barons. Remember talking to some Islamic scholars in Turkey, many moons ago, who couldn’t believe that Western Nations, including Australia, were aiding and abetting the spreading of Wahhabism – albeit by omission. This of course was pre-Erdogan when such scholars were quite liberal in orientation.

    As I understand it, many of those scholars are now in prison. The level of local ignorance continues to astound.

  53. Matters Not

    KK. after the Civil War, and at a superficial level, Blacks and Whites were legally the same. The reality was very different then as it is to-day. Presumably you’ve heard of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. One could write a tome on how legal discrimination in the US today is theoretically no more but it would be a misrepresentation (superficial nonsense) even though it would be underpinned by a mountain of facts – including reference to legal decisions.

    Discrimination in schooling in the US supposedly ended with Brown versus the Board of Education and the overturning of separate but equal doctrine. But it didn’t! Here in Australia Aboriginal children get the same opportunities as white kids – with the same same curriculum, same teachers, same … what ever. But no-one believes that. Do they?

    Back to the US. One needs to dig well below the surface (but sometimes no digging is required because it’s there for all to see) to witness the discrimination that occurs. Take the recent election as an example. Trump scared to crap out of white voters by claiming that the (white) suburbs would be invaded by blacks. And that’s just one example.

    Simply, facts, while necessary, don’t make a good history. It’s much more complicated than that.

  54. Karen Kyle

    IMN….I heard that the Saudis have given up spreading Wahhabism.
    Don’t know if it is true, I hope so.

  55. wafflems

    andrew j smith.
    spot on it shows that academics can still be stupid and arrogant.
    She was reported as a risk? Take a guess that she mouthed off about israel QED.
    cheers wam but wafflems is a better fit

  56. Karen Kyle

    IMN…..yeah I know. All is neat, tidy and legal on the surface and rotten underneath. A couple of big high schools in Upstate New York are still segregated with black kids in tar paper building and white kids in the best of buildings with all the bells and whistles.

  57. Matters Not

    KK, I’m not up with recent developments but I would be very, very surprised. As I understood it, there was a settlement of sorts. The religious would stay out of politics (including the internal machinations of the royal family) in return for a free hand to convert the world assisted by generous financial support.

    Worth reading a bit about Salafism as well as Wahhabism if you want to explore Islam more generally. Me I’m an atheist who is very interested in religion because of its historical (and current) importance.

    KK – much funding for education in the US comes from local government taxes. Poor areas translate to poor schools – including teachers wages etc. Guess where the blacks live?

  58. Harry Lime

    Fuck ,I’m enthralled with the repartee,and I didn’t even pay to get in,they say you never stop learning,and I am very grateful, keep it up.Long may you run.

  59. calculus witherspoon.

    Much to gain from a look including KK doing Devils Advocate to draw out more a dialectic.

  60. mark delmege

    Karen made some interesting comments on Russia and others regarding historical crimes. I guess at least Russia has undergone a revolution or two since the time of Stalin and has recognised its crimes and moved forward somewhat (not that my Stalinist friends find any joy in that). Unlike Israel who was born with terrorism and ethnic cleansing and hasn’t stopped one day since. Apartheid Israel will prove to be a temporary historical juncture but its anyones guess how that will end.
    How Iranian nuclear scientist was murdered

    Assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist ‘involved 62 operatives

    This is one account of how the assassination may have been conducted

  61. Karen Kyle

    Good for Israel.

    They said after the Holocaust they would never be helpless again.

    Now the have their own government.

    Now theyhave their own military.

    Now they have their own Intelligence organisation

    Now they have their own Diplomats.

    And best of all….they have their own country….the Promised Land.

  62. Kronomex


    Might I suggest you read “The Arabs: A History” by Eugene Rogan to at least give you a different perspective than that of your rather somewhat blinkered view of Israel. I am, however, not holding my breath that you will.

  63. Karen Kyle


    Thanks for the book recommendation. I have a friend who has a copy which is in storage at the moment, but she will get it out soon when she has to retrieve something else which is important. She says within a month or two.

    My friend has read the book on a flick through and read bits basis which is the way academics cope with huge reading requirements. She says it is a contested history and she can’t remember much about it.

    What struck me is that it is modern history, which is fine as far as it goes, but it usually doesn’t go far enough. It is like coming into a room in the middle of a conversation and getting it all wrong because you missed the beginning.
    Historians need to go back a bit further than that even if they are writing modern history.

    Anyway I will look forward to reading the book and thanks again.

  64. Joe Carli

    KK…: ” And best of all….they have their own country….the Promised Land.”….

    .From fiction to fantastical in one sentence….YOU, Karen should be the one writing stories…oh..wait!…

  65. Roswell

    Joe, I was tempted to mention that the Palestinians deserve their own land but hesitated, hoping to avoid 20,000 characters of keyboard vitriol from KK.

    Ah, what the heck. I’ve said it now.

  66. Joe Carli

    Ah…she has good intentions, Roswell…but she gets that head of steam up till the old boiler hits the red-line and off go all the bells and whistles!

  67. Karen Kyle

    Roswell……..I agree, the Palestinians should have their own land. And they should have had it by now… fact they should have had it in nineteen forty eight. But they just keep saying no. They had a good start with Jordan which was supposed to be given to Israel. So the Palestinian Arabs which make up a big part of Jordan’s population had a good head start. But they are not interested. They want all of the miserable little spit of land called Israel, despie the fact that they have all of the ME and North Africa.

  68. Roswell

    Dat’s true, Joe. I don’t think she’s a bad person. Just says bad things at times.

    By the way, you used to be ‘Joseph’. What happened? Were you demoted or something?

  69. Joe Carli

    Roswell…I’m going incognito…

  70. Lambchop Simnel

    She is a fantasist, fundamentalist Stepford Wife who has had her capacities for critical reasoning some how damaged during her upbringing, my guess.

    Daddy issues?

    A troll conditioned against consideration of any viewpoint no matter how rational and evidence based not coinciding with her narrow conditioned outlook.

  71. Karen Kyle

    Lambchop Simnel…..who won’t use his own name.

    Whataroadofclap. LOL.

  72. Michael Taylor

    I know Lambchop. He is a good man. He is quite entitled – for privacy concerns – to go by the name you object to him using.

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