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Showing posts with label Bush. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bush. Show all posts

Friday, 26 March 2010

The poisoned, profitable fruits of war and death

Why did Blair go to war?

 Why did Bush go to war?

Why has war become the operating principle of the modern state again, after the revulsion at the slaughter of the Great War - the war to end all wars - and the exhaustion after what may have been the only just war of the 20th century – World War Two

Because it is hugely profitable to the warmongers - it enhances political reputations and increase the status of politicians and it enriches all sorts of companies and individuals. War is the route to incalculable wealth for some.

And wars are again like the old imperial wars of 19th century Britain - they can be fought away from home, with the native soil and commercial infrastructure virtually untouched. All the people have to bear is their impoverishment, and some must bear the deaths of their children, their fathers, their mothers, their brothers and sisters, their loved ones.

(The horror and profound shock of 9/11 for Americans was that this unspoken principle had been violated, and war had come to the heart of America. Even the long trauma of Vietnam had never touched American soil, despite the magnitude of the slaughter on foreign fields.)

The whole apparatus of modern PR and communications is now used to gain the public’s tacit acceptance of war - their dead loved ones are hailed as heroes, the acceptably injured are paraded for the cameras and the gruesomely maimed and disfigured are hidden away.

And the old men can turn out in their berets and medals for the sad, sad passage of the young dead through the streets, finding a false analogy with the just war they once fought, so long, long ago.

The BBC and the commercial television channels are shamefully complicit in this process, with only the occasional brave documentary revealing the true horror.

The priests, prelates and ministers of religion celebrate the lives and mourn the deaths in their ancient liturgies, yet all too rarely condemn unequivocally this ultimate crime against humanity. Some, in an obscene perversion of beliefs and creeds, actively advocate the crusade or the jihad. Religion and war continue to be the inseparable twins they have been throughout history, carried on the endless river of blood and drawing sustenance from it.

Maggie started the lethal process for Britain with the Falklands war, reaping huge political benefit, and her acolyte and admirer, Blair, catapulted himself on to the world stage through wars, and continues to profit obscenely from the poisoned fruits of the Four Horsemen.

Geoff Hoon and his ilk only scavenge the substantial crumbs from the feast of death – the real criminals are untouchable. In the last few days, some of them advocated turning Iran “into a sheet of glass” through nuclear strikes.

Scotland doesn’t have to be a part of this, and we will very shortly have our chance to demonstrate this at a general election, and later in a referendum. Vote for life – for humanity.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Gordon Brown at the Chilcot enquiry

His colleague, a former Foreign Secretary, a fellow Scot, a man of penetrating intelligence, was prepared to resign from the Cabinet, placing his entire career at risk, yet Gordon Brown has no real recollection of the nature and intensity of Cook's doubts over the Iraq intelligence.

Sir Roderic Lyne, referring to Robin Cook's doubts over the way the intelligence was being interpreted, and his actual challenge to it in Cabinet, asks Gordon Brown if he was aware at the time of his concerns, and had Cook discussed them with him. Brown tries to deflect this by referring to Robin Cook's views on the no-fly zone, but Sir Roderic persists -

SIR RODERIC: He had actually queried the intelligence too. .

BROWN: I - I do not recall a conversation with, eh, wi-wi-with Robin about the intelligence - he may have mentioned that at - at the Cabinet - I cannot recall that.

Brown's style, as revealed repeatedly at PMs Questions in the Commons and in interviews is that he is hesitant and stammers when under pressure or patently avoiding difficult questions, but is confident, articulate and free of hesitation when he is on familiar, highly prepared ground. In poker terms, his stammer is a tell, something that reveals when a person is, at best, bluffing and being economical with the truth, and at worst, lying in their teeth.

The idea that a man of Cook's stature could have challenged the intelligence upon which the decision to go to war rested in Cabinet - a veritable bombshell dropped into the discussion at a critical moment - and that Brown would not have remembered such an intervention is beyond belief.


SIR RODERIC: ... would I be right in understanding that you were briefed on the terms in which Mr. Blair had pledged the UK's support to President Bush in the first half of 2002?

BROWN: Uh-I believed, right up to the last moment, we - Britain - were trying to get a diplomatic solution, so I'm not sure that I accept the premise of you-your-your question.

SIR RODERIC: Well, I'm referring to the evidence we've been given by a number of people - Mr. Blair himself - Alistair Campbell, and so on - encapsulating, you said you didn't see the correspondence between Mr.Blair and President Bush - but what I'm trying to understand is whether you, as a senior member of the Cabinet understood the gist of what he was saying to President Bush?

BROWN: I think all of us knew what the stakes were - er, that we had to make the diplomatic process work - er, or, eh, there was a danger that we would be at war with-with Iraq. But our efforts - right until the last minute - eh, the efforts of the whole government, in my view, were to try to make a diplomatic solution work. And even in that last weekend, where I talked in detail to Tony Blair, and was working very closely with him, we were trying to see if we could get some of the countries who had indicated that they would support no action under any circumstances to change their position, Eh, so, em, I would say that the decision was made only after the diplomatic eh course was fully exhausted.

But as we've heard from a number of witnesses, we had told the White House privately, in the first half of 2002, that if we couldn't - couldn't make the diplomatic - which was obviously the preferred route for both us and them - couldn't get a peaceful resolution of this of this issue, that we would stand with them in - ah - taking firmer action.

BROWN: Well, we had to prepare for war, as I said, because of, eh, from June, we were in - the Treasury and I was, eh, looking at options that were available to us - but I still insist to you that at every point in that eh, year our first priority was to get a diplomatic solution.

Sir Roderic politely dismisses this fog of obfuscation and evasion of the question, and gently and courteously persists.

SIR RODERIC: No, I think that's completely clear - the question I'm asking is whether the Prime Minister of the day had told you, effectively, eh, what he had told President Bush?

BROWN: We knew that the options available to us included, eh, going to - to war. We knew also, however, eh, that the best chance of peace and the international community working to best effect, was the diplomatic route, and I still hold to the position that eh, (forced grin) I think you're trying to move me from ... that, eh, the final decision ...

SIR RODERIC: No, no - I'm just asking merely for a sort of yes or no answer as to whether he told you what he told President Bush?

Sir Roderic was quite evidently trying to contain his impatience at the evasions by this time, but it was in vain.

I know what my conclusion was from this sad little exchange. He knew, of course he knew - of course he was told - but his political instinct, the remains of his wildly wavering moral compass and dim memories of his childhood in the manse deterred him from lying outright.

Brown, like all the survivors of that values-free Cabinet, is caught between the need to defend the war and his part in it, and his desperate desire to distance himself from his former colleague and leader, the disgraced Blair.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when once we practise to deceive ...

And so it goes on, on the containment paper, on the key question of whether Iraq was a threat in March 2003. I don't want the Tories or Cameron's millionaires, but we cannot have the country led by this man and his partners in the crime of Iraq any longer.

Thank God, Scotland has a real choice. We must free ourselves of these people.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Chilcot and Afghanistan

The evidence given to the Chilcot enquiry has shed new light on the twin follies of Afghanistan and Iraq,in spite of the lack of intensity and rigour in the questioning of the witnesses.

I reprint below my piece on Afghanistan from Novemebr 2009 in the hope that it has new relevance in the light of the subsequent witness testimony.

Saturday, 7 November 2009
Corruption in Afghanistan - and Brown's folly

Gordon Brown spoke for half an hour yesterday (6 Novemebr 2009) about his government's commitment to the futile Afghanistan conflict. He mustered as much passion and rhetoric as an innately dull man can in a bad cause. There was nothing in it that spoke of the man himself, because only a leaden mass now exists where that man once was, a man whose true destiny was to be the minister in an undemanding rural kirk, or an accountant in an old-fashioned company, or a worthy lecturer in a redbrick university.

He existed for ten years in the reflected glow of Tony Blair, longing for the day when he could radiate alone, unaware that he was a dead satellite, with no inner furnace to generate the his own light. Now he is polluted ground, contaminated by the nuclear waste of Blair's deadly polluted policies. He has only a half life, his power ebbing away at exponential speed. But he continues to play the old Blair and Bush tunes as his motor runs down and the tune becomes more distorted and the lyric incomprehensible.

And those who dance to that tune stumble and twist in confusion, trying to follow a music without rhythm and words without meaning.

His entire case for remaining in Afghanistan rests on a lie - that we are there to prevent terrorism threatening Britain.

We are there, as Obama is there, as the 43 countries of the coalition are there, because of a profoundly mistaken instinct by a right-wing group of American Republicans and their puppet, George W. Bush, to lash out at something after the tragedy of 9/11 and the appalling loss of life and blow to American prestige. We are there because enormous profits are yielded to armaments manufacturers, and to contractors of services to the military, and because a shadowy enemy, a perpetual threat, and inducing paranoia in the population have always been a prime recourse of failing regimes.

Britain is there, and the coalition is there because Europe does not yet have the cohesion to stand up to a flawed American foreign policy on the Middle East and the Israel/Palestine question. We are there because Pakistan worries us deeply, because it is an unstable ally with a nuclear capacity, with a religion and a culture the West has never begun to understand, and it, together with Israel, forces us to recognise the weaknesses of the West's self-serving nuclear policy - committed to retaining its own weapons of mass destruction while engaged in a vain attempt to stop others from following the same route.

The vacuum at the heart of Brown's position yesterday was starkly exposed by the threat to pull out if the Karzai regime did not root out corruption. Leaving aside the inconvenient fact that a significant proportion of the corruption is induced by the activities of foreign contractors, something made clear in an aside by a commentator from the region last night, what this says in effect is this -

"We are are here to prevent Afghanistan from being a seed bed for attacks on Britain, but if you - the 'democratic' puppet government that we have put in place - don't behave, we will abandon the whole misconceived enterprise and let the region revert to where it was before, thereby allowing the threat to Britain re-establish its potency."

Brown - and Britain's - behaviour over Afghanistan reminds me of the behaviour of directors and senior managers in a private company or large public enterprise who have mistakenly committed themselves to a project or policy that is manifestly going to fail. A marked distaste for re-examining the fundamental premises of the enterprise emerges, and a growing hostility to critics however rational.

The old accountant's motto, that sunk costs are irrelevant in reviewing a flawed project, is speedily abandoned, and the accrued costs to date are used as a justification for continuing.

It's like the gambler's fallacy at roulette - that if you keep doubling your bets, you must win eventually, a fallacy that ignores the sum of what has already been lost, ignores the possibility to long runs of bad luck, and and ignores the exponential growth in losses of doubling up.

Those opposed to the lunatic project are increasingly characterised as enemies, not as loyal employees trying to pull their company back from disaster.

When the Emperor has no clothes, who will speak out, except the naive child?

I am also reminded of a fable recounted by an American academic (I have forgotten his name) to illustrate this dilemma.

The Chairman of a giant company calls in his favourite guru, a management consultant, and tells him of a problem he is facing.

"Gerry," he says to the consultant "I've got a big problem in the Minnesota plant, the one now devoted to developing a process to make high-octane jet fuel out of peanut oil ..."

"Fascinating! Can that really be done?" asks the consultant, Gerry.

"Hell, no! It's impossible - initially we thought it might have a chance, but it's been evident for years now that it can't. We're sinking millions of dollars into it, and it's doomed."

"Why not pull the plug on it, Glenn?"

Glenn the CEO, looks uncomfortable. "Well, you see, Gerry, it's like this - the plant director in Minnesota, Charlie, has committed his whole reputation to this project, and I just can't bring myself to pull the plug on it, because I'd be pulling the plug on his whole career. I just tell him to hang in there - that he can do it. Get down there, Gerry - see if you can talk some sense into him..."

Gerry arrives at the Minnesota plant, and is greeted by Charlie, the plant director.

"I guess I know why you're here, Gerry. It's about the big project - the peanut oil project."

Gerry nods. "I understand you're working on a process to make high-octane jet fuel from peanut oil, Charlie. Can than really be done?"

"Hell, no, " says Charlie ruefully, "but I can't pull the plug on it for two reasons. One, the CEO, Glenn, is totally committed to it, and when he comes down here he says 'Hang in there, Charlie - you can do it.' And my research director, Joe, has committed his whole reputation to this godammed project, and I just can't bring myself to destroy his career. Have a word with him, Gerry - maybe he'll take it from an outsider."

So Gerry meets Joe, and the pattern repeats itself. Joe knows the project is doomed, but it's the CEO's baby, it mustn't be questioned, and Charlie, his boss keeps telling him he can do and to hang in there.

The pattern repeats all the way down the management pyramid, except in the lower echelons, there is a growing contempt for those above them for their pursuit of a manifestly impossible objective.

This consultant's fable is playing out as a nightmare in our world, except the price is not only being paid in money - it is being paid in lives - in blood.

Call a halt, now.