Patrick Cockburn

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Patrick Cockburn (/ˈkoʊbɜːrn/ KOH-burn; born 5 March 1950) is an award-winning, Irish, foreign affairs journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times since 1979 and, from 1990, The Independent. He has also worked as a correspondent in Moscow and Washington and is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books.

Patrick Cockburn, Gothenburg Book Fair 2016

Quotes[edit]

  • The real purpose of state secrecy is to enable governments to establish their own self-interested and often mendacious version of the truth by the careful selection of “facts” to be passed on to the public. They feel enraged by any revelation of what they really know, or by any alternative source of information. Such threats to their control of the news agenda must be suppressed where possible and, where not, those responsible must be pursued and punished.
    Revealing important information about the Yemen war – in which at least 70,000 people have been killed – is the reason why the US government is persecuting both Assange and Zikry.
  • I was in Kabul a decade ago when WikiLeaks released a massive tranche of US government documents about the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. On the day of the release, I was arranging by phone to meet an American official... He was intensely interested and asked me what was known about the degree of classification of the files. When I told him, he said in a relieved tone: “No real secrets, then.” ...I asked him why he was so dismissive of the revelations that were causing such uproar in the world. He explained that the US government was not so naive that it did not realise that making these documents available to such a wide range of civilian and military officials meant that they were likely to leak. Any information really damaging to US security had been weeded out... he said: “We are not going to learn the biggest secrets from WikiLeaks because these have already been leaked by the White House, Pentagon or State Department.” ...However, it was the friendly US official and I who were being naive, forgetting that the real purpose of state secrecy is to enable governments to establish their own self-interested and often mendacious version of the truth by the careful selection of “facts” to be passed on to the public. They feel enraged by any revelation of what they really know, or by any alternative source of information. Such threats to their control of the news agenda must be suppressed where possible and, where not, those responsible must be pursued and punished.
  • It is unlikely that Iran is involved – but the unpredictability of US and Saudi foreign policy has exacerbated the danger of military action... Saudi Arabia’s claim that two of its oil tankers have been sabotaged off the coast of the UAE is vague in detail – but could create a crisis that spins out of control and into military action... Although the US is militarily superior to Iran by a wide margin, the Iranians as a last resort could fire rockets or otherwise attack Saudi and UAE oil facilities. Such apocalyptic events are unlikely – but powerful figures in Washington, such as the national security adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo, appear prepared to take the risk of a war breaking out... Bolton and Pompeo are reported to have used some mortar rounds landing near the US embassy in Baghdad in February as an excuse to get a reluctant Pentagon to prepare a list of military options against Iran... the US and Saudi Arabia have been talking up war against Iran just as economic sanctions are seriously biting. Iranian oil exports have dropped from 2.8 to 1.3 million barrels a day... Promises by the EU, UK, France and Germany to enable the Islamic republic to avoid sanctions on its oil trade and banking have not been fulfilled. Commercial enterprises are too frightened of being targeted by the US treasury to risk breaching sanctions.
  • He has been accused of shifting the agenda from the two-state solution to promising the annexation of Israeli settlements on the West Bank during the present election campaign. But the so-called two-state solution was always something of a charade enabling foreign diplomats to pretend that there was a “peace process” that was dead and buried. Likewise, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and the US recognition of the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights do not really change a balance of power that is wholly in Israel’s favour... On the other hand, the Palestinians will still be there in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank; Israel never achieves a final victory. Netanyahu has done nothing to change this – but then neither did previous Israeli leaders, whatever they claimed they were doing.
  • It’s horrific...famines are pretty uncommon... famine like this, as big as this, this is very uncommon... it’s entirely man made... the news of it isn’t being reported... The economy’s being destroyed... food that is available is too expensive for much of the population. ...bombing started in the spring of 2015... led by Saudi Arabia, and particularly was the initiative of the Crown Prince, but at that stage he was defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman, who has become so notorious since because of the Khashoggi murder... Originally... apparently they thought it would take a few weeks. By the end of 2016... they appear to have become more and more frustrated. So they had started [attacking] infrastructure, food production, food storage... 220 fishing boats on the Red Sea... destroyed. The fish catch is down by 50 percent... means a lot for people who are already on the age of starvation. And the attack on the economic infrastructure... All the evidence is that there is a very deliberate economic war going on, directed at the Yemenis... So all these things are coming together with this intensifying of the military war, and heavy civilian casualties, and the worsening famine in all parts of the country.

External links[edit]

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