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Showing posts with label Chilcot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chilcot. Show all posts

Monday, 16 June 2014

Labour and Iraq

Extract from my 2013 blog –

Blair, Brown and Mandelson created New Labour and it worked – Labour was elected and re-elected. The results, over 13 years, are now history.

Two wars, one illegal, the deaths of hundreds of thousands, terrorism brought to UK by the Iraq War, the gap between rich and poor widened, corruption of Parliamentary institutions, the prosecution and imprisonment of Labour MPs, the resignation of the Labour Speaker of the House of Commons in disgrace, the corruption of the Press and the Metropolitan Police, the banking and financial collapse, cash for access, etc.

Hardly a success, except in one key aspect – Blair, Mandelson, Brown, Labour defence secretaries, Labour ministers and many Labour MPs got very rich indeed, in the case of Blair and Mandelson, egregiously rich.

The revolving door between government ministers, civil servants and industry – especially the defence industry – spun ever faster and more profitably.

And the military/industrial complex rejoiced and celebrated New Labour’s achievements.

And now, in 2014?

We have the key figures in the Blair Government that led us to war – Gordon Brown, John Reid,  Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy, et al leading the war against Scotland’s independence.

Iraq has exploded into chaos and near-collapse of the Iraq‘democracy’ set up by the United States and the United Kingdom

What of the report of the Chilcot Enquiry? Delay in publication, talk of redaction of major conclusions and fact.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Blair at the Chilcot Enquiry

Blair's evidence to the Chilcot Enquiry - if indeed responding to questions by a group of what George Galloway called "Establishment stooges" on the BBC's  Question Time last Thursday, a gaggle of the great and good who had already had their collective hamstrings cut by the restrictive terms of the Enquiry can be called giving evidence - took place in a fog of moral righteousness by the media, who focused on whether or not he would apologise for the Iraq folly and his pivotal role in it, and the question of his belated admissions that, far from 'not doing God',  he believed he had a hot line to the Almighty throughout.

This, of course, played into Blair's hands, and allowed him to slide away from any  difficulties over facts by expertly playing what he sees as his aces - personal sincerity, total moral conviction, and the belated, but carefully judged regrets over the death and suffering his vaulting ambition and cynical real-politicking have visited on an entire nation, Iraq, and  the brave members of the British Armed forces and other war coalition countries' military personnel who lost their lives or were maimed, physically and psychologically, by loyally doing their duty as defined by a misguided Parliament and nation.

Aided by the inabilty of the Enquiry to take evidence under oath, the denial to  Chilcot by the Cabinet Secretary of the right to use and quote from the key correspondence and transcriptions of the Bush/Blair dialogues, the absence of any legally qualified person to conduct the kind of forensic cross-examination necessary to extract  the truth from a man whose entire political legacy, not to mention his current international - and obscenely lucrative - business interests are threatened by the truth, he was able to duck and weave behind his various baffle walls from the feeble blasts of the Enquiry team.

So what he knew, and when he knew it, the critical commitments made by him to  his US master, and the real nature of the behind-the-scenes dialogue with the Attorney General remain as cloudy as before.

What we are left with is the messianic Blair, a Christian fundamentalist believer, who, like his superior, George W. Bush, was certain that he had God's hand on his shoulder, possessed by a burning belief in his own righteousness, who  did the right  thing  as he saw it at the time - even though his omniscient God seemed to have missed the inconvenient absence of WMDs - and had no regrets about removing the brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, at whatever cost to Britain and Iraq, a calculated decision that immediately catapulted him into international superstardom and richness.

He will never appear before a war crimes tribunal at the Hague, and his position as icon to the American Right and the military/industrial complex is not only secure, but enhanced. Anthony Lynton Blair, peace envoy, is now a greater danger to world peace than he was before the Chilcot Enquiry started.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Iraq was a mistake: it was wrong. Ed Miliband as the new Leader of the Labour Party

At last – they have admitted to the crime of Iraq, and the frozen faces in Ed Miliband’s conference audience of those complicit in it said it all. Brother David, with a rictus smile on his face, is caught by the ever-vigilant BBC camera turning to Harriet Harman and saying “Why are you applauding – you voted for it” The ever-emollient and glib niece of the Countess of Longford smiles, and replied “I supported him …”)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Terrorism increased in UK as a direct result of Iraq War – Former Head of MI5

Well, any thinking person knew this was the case, in spite of the repeated and systematic lies of the Blair/Brown government and their creatures in the Cabinet. This is what Labour did to Britain, Iraq and world peace.

Now we have it from the horse's mouth - Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, Head of MI5 from 2002 to 2007. I normally take with a pinch of salt anything said by a titled Briton with a hyphen, but the formidable Baroness speaks the truth.

All she wants is a room somewhere - far away from the cold night air - with one enormous chair ...

Chilcot rolls on, with less publicity, but perhaps with even greater significance. I await the report eagerly.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Chilcot Enquiry - criticisms

There has been a barrage of criticism directed at the Chilcot Enquiry, ranging from its terms of reference to its composition and its approach and style in interviewing witnesses. The background and objectivity of its members has come under merciless scrutiny, and it has been branded as an establishment stitch up and whitewash before it even started. The lack of someone with a legal and inquisitorial experience and qualifications among its members has repeatedly been advanced as a weakness.

Whatever the secret intent of those in Government who set it up - and we can hardly be surprised at their behaviour - it is what it is, and we must judge its performance against the constraints it operates under. It has no power to compel witnesses to attend, evidence is not given under oath, and there is no remit to place blame, only to "learn lessons", that most abused of phrases by those desperate to avoid accountability.

Within that context, I don't share the view expressed by many that it is doing a bad job, and I think that when the final report is published, Sir John and his team may surprise us all.

Like most commentators, I feel that Sir Roderic Lyne is the most effective member of the team, and no one should be misled by his polite, gentlemanly style into thinking that he has not secured vital admissions from some witnesses, and perhaps more importantly, nakedly exposed the evasions that perhaps said more than the answers given.

We'll just have to wait and see ...

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.