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It perhaps seems a bit inappropriate, but I could not help but laugh aloud as I watched the ridiculous scenes of elaborate public mourning being beamed on our TV screens from North Korea. There is something deeply unsettling about seeing crowds of otherwise sensible adults crawling along the ground weeping at the death of their “Dear Leader”. The demise of Kim Jung Il has been greeted across the world with mixture of joy and unease. Joy at the death of one of the planet’s most vicious, anti-human dictators, and unease at who will take his place.In my last blog, I spoke of the Orwellian tendencies of the West’s leaders, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. Now that people’s minds are very much focused on events in North Korea, the world’s last bastion of Stalinism, my assertion might seem exaggerated. However, I stand by what I wrote and believe it is a fair assessment of the West’s attitude to rapacious wars and colonialism.

North Korea is an exaggeration in itself. It’s an exaggeration of George Orwell’s classic book 1984. Almost everything Orwell wrote has been brought to life in this nightmarish, other-worldly state. Speaking after his visit to the country, the late Christopher Hitchens said:

“One tries to avoid cliché, and I did my best on a visit to this terrifying country in the year 2000, but George Orwell’s 1984 was published at about the time that Kim Il Sung set up his system, and it really is as if he got hold of an early copy of the novel and used it as a blueprint. Actually, North Korea is rather worse than Orwell’s dystopia. There would be no way, in the capital city of Pyongyang, to wander off and get lost in the slums, let alone to rent an off-the-record love nest in a room over a shop. Everybody in the city has to be at home and in bed by curfew time, when all the lights go off (if they haven’t already failed).”Kim Jung-Il’s ideology was based on his father’s “Juche” idea, a philosophy which promotes “self-reliance”. Stemming from this was his “military first” policy, which led to widespread hardship in the country. In the 1990s, more than 2 million people starved to death during an entirely avoidable famine.

It’s hard to believe that anyone outside North Korea would support this inhuman dynasty. However, a range of strangely named groups across the ultra-left have voiced their grief at the death of the dictator, regurgitating the propaganda of the state broadcaster who outlandishly claimed that Kim Jung Il died as a result of “working too hard for the Korean people”. For instance, the uber-Stalinists of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) sang his praises earlier this week. (And yes, that is their real name). On their website, Proletarian Online, it said: “It is with feelings of deep and profound grief that we have learned the shocking news of the sudden passing away of one of the world’s most respected and beloved anti-imperialist leaders, Comrade Kim Jong Il.” They aren’t the only ones. Chris Coleman, of the fantastically named Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), expressed his “deepest sadness at the untimely passing of the great leader”.  Andy Brooks, the general secretary of the New Communist Party of Britain, described Kim Jung Il as devoting “his entire life to serving the Korean people”.

One wonders what forces these fundamentalist micro-groups to take these insane positions. What’s revolutionary about supporting a backward Stalinist monarchy? How does the Kim dynasty promote socialism in any way? Do they really believe this is a dialectical approach to world politics?
To finish off, I will leave you a selection of the freakishly Orwellian titles that were bestowed upon Kim Jung Il during his horrific reign, which I, with my strange sense of humour, found mildly amusing:

Sun of the Communist Future
Guarantee of the Fatherland’s Unification
Beloved and Respected General
The Great Sun of Life
Great Sun of The Nation
World Leader of The 21st Century
Peerless Leader
Bright Sun of the 21st Century
Amazing politician
Glorious General, Who Descended From Heaven
Invincible and Ever-triumphant General
Guiding Star of the 21st Century
Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love
Dear Leader, who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have

Scary stuff.

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”

George Orwell, Ninteen-Eighty Four.

The term “Orwellian” has almost become overused in recent times when describing the words and deeds of the West’s leaders. Almost.

At the time of writing, the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama is in the process of gearing up for a war with Iran. So too is Middle East Peace Envoy Tony Blair. In September, during the run-up to the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, he called for “regime change in Tehran”. “If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons capability it would destabilise the region very, very badly,” he said. “They continue to support groups that are engaged with terrorism and the forces of reaction.” Sound familiar? With his criminal lies so thoroughly debunked over the illegal invasion of Iraq, it’s increasingly hard to understand why anyone takes what the warmonger Blair says seriously.

Despite promising “hope” and “change” upon his election as US president in 2008, Barack Obama has continued the old imperialist tradition long promoted by the American establishment. Since 1945, more than 50 governments, many of them democratic, have been overthrown by the United States. In Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, this custom shows no signs of relenting. Indeed, neither does the hypocrisy. In October, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned Iran, with a straight face, that they should not “meddle in the affairs of Iraq”.

Legendary journalist John Pilger recently described Obama as the president of “permanent war”. Obama’s record confirms this assertion. This year, Obama approved an enormous military spending budget of $708 billion. Despite his pre-election promises, the inhumane Guantanamo Bay remains open, with more than 150 people still incarcerated there. US-led wars continue to rage in the Middle East, while the rights of working class Americans are increasingly restricted. Nowhere else can this be seen so clearly than in the brutal crackdowns against the peaceful Occupy movement.

Foreign policy, carrying on from the Bush era, remains unchanged. In May 2009, just five months before Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize, American B-52 bombers flattened the village of Granai, in the Farah Province of Afghanistan, killing 140 civilians. 93 of the murder victims were children. In June this year, a NATO air strike in the Helmand Province resulted in the deaths of 14 civilians, 12 of them children. More than 2,000 civilians have been murdered by unmanned US drones since 2004, most of them under Obama’s watch. This is his contribution to “peace”. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength,” said George Orwell. His words ring true today.

Just like in the lead up to the criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003, a wave of half-truths and outright lies has flooded the media’s reporting of Iran. Of course, there have been honourable exceptions, including the New Statesman’s Medhi Hassan and the Guardian’s Seumas Milne. As in 2002 and 2003, the majority of the media are content to parrot the falsifications of the ruling class.

The big issue for the Western bourgeoise is Tehran’s “nuclear ability”. The fact that NATO and its allies hold a virtual monopoly over the world’s nuclear weapons apparently does not matter. That the US and Israel are the only states to have invaded countries in the Middle East in the past decade is also a non-issue. Iran has not invaded any other nation in living memory. Indeed, it has itself been the victim of foreign interference in the past.

In 1953, the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh was over thrown in a coup orchestrated by the CIA and MI5. His crime? He had the temerity to place Iran’s oil under the ownership of the Iranian people. Since 1913, the country’s oil had been owned by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now known as BP. Mossaddegh changed this. For his trouble, he was replaced by the Shah, an absolute monarch with no regard for human rights. The US-backed Shah was eventually overthrown during the Islamic Revolution of 1979, an act of independence that has never been forgiven by the West.

The threat of war in Iran is a very real one. Indeed, as Seumas Milne reported in this Wednesday’s Guardian, it has already begun. A covert terrorist campaign carried out by the US and Israel is under way. The danger of this escalating and creating another bloodbath in the Middle East is merely an afterthought for Obama and his ilk. The people of Iran are expendable. Oil is all that matters.

Clearly, the lessons of Iraq have not been learnt.