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After being brainwashed by the media, will the British people be invited – this autumn – to go to war again in the Middle East?

A message from Rye alerts readers to a momentous debate in parliament which will be held this autumn, according to comments trailed by David Cameron, the prime minister and Michael Fallon, secretary of state for defence. (Early in July, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was quoted as saying that ministers were considering ordering bombing raids against ISIS strongholds in Syria as early as September). It continues:

We have been quietly involved in bombing targets in Iraq for months, with all the ‘collateral damage’ that entails for innocent civilians.

The military hawks now wish to extend operations into Syria. This will take the battle into ISIL’s stronghold, they say, and retaliate for the outrages on the beaches of Tunisia and elsewhere.

After last year’s surprise parliamentary defeat, we are again being prepared for this adventure in quasiconsultation mode, with the media carrying horrific images of terrorist acts in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Images are repeatedly presented to the British public that appeal to our sense of indignation and/or sentimental affront.

Claims are increasingly strident, along the lines of: ‘Only military action can halt the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, before it gets too strong’ and ‘we owe a duty to help protect the populations of Iraq and Syria from the atrocities of war’ or ‘we must deny them the resources of oil and weapons’.

The humanitarian argument is an appeal to conscience, but it flies in the face of history – our history. Past interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have not succeeded in stabilising those areas, any more than the United States military failure in Korea in the last century.

Such interventions are unlawful under the Charter of the United Nations (Articles 2.4 and 41).

Without the sanction of the UN Security Council or a specific UN Resolution the initiation of armed aggression is illegal. The United Nations Act 1946, which enables the government to authorize UK military forces to operate overseas, does so only under the authority of Article 41 and it specifically mentions the phrase ‘not involving the use of armed force’.

It is arguable, and should indeed be argued, that any use of armed force by HM Forces overseas is not only a breach of the UN Charter but also breaches the United Nations Act 1946. It is, therefore, illegal. We want no more fudges like those that took us into the Iraq war.

There is a powerful stirring of national and cultural identity that rejects the imperialism of the western powers and demands new state boundaries, and new governments for the Arab and African peoples. These demands are couched in the name of resurgent Islam, similar to the religious justification practised throughout our own history in the west, from the time of the crusades onwards.

It is no truism that war is evil. The results of war are unconfined. They extend through generations, breed resentments and burden ordinary people with terrible loss and suffering. There is a clear connection between homegrown jihadism in Europe and our government’s participation in armed aggression against Islamic states in Libya, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Who can wonder that the Islamists seek to bring retribution to our heartland?

Who can doubt that the international arms trade is largely responsible for the dislocation and migration of vast numbers of people dispossessed of their homes and fleeing to Europe?

We, ourselves, are building this flood of refugees. How do we hold our elected representatives to account and get them to recognise the folly of war?

‘Not in our name’ is our mandate for peace. Let’s have the debate now, before ‘consultation’ becomes ‘fait accompli’.

Source: the Friend, 7 August 2015

We can’t have Corbyn as leader: gung ho military adventures and arms sales would be spiked!

kiran staceyKiran Stacey (FT) – impressive on video – reports that ministers are attempting to build a cross-party consensus to extend the RAF’s air campaign to include strikes against Isis targets in Syria.

He thinks it likely that ministers will wait for a new Labour leader to be elected before bringing a motion before the Commons, “conscious that a second defeat on the issue would be a humiliation”. That defeat two years ago is described as “a running sore for the government”.

Noting that the RAF has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since September, Helen Waddell (FT) notes that in Syria drones have been limited to a surveillance role. Following the Tunisian attack, however, David Cameron announced that Isis members in Iraq and Syria were plotting “terrible attacks” on British soil.

michael fallonEarlier this month Bloomberg News reported that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon had urged British lawmakers to consider allowing attacks on Islamic State targets in Syria.

In the House of Commons on Thursday he said that the British strategy of attacking Islamic State in Iraq but not in Syria made little sense, adding: “We would return to this house for approval before conducting air strikes in Syria,” he said. “It is for all members to consider how best to tackle ISIL.”

The International Business Times reports that Fallon is expected to state that there is no legal barrier to British military attacks, noting that both the Canadian and Jordanian air forces have already attacked Syrian targets.

Cuts for Britain’s poorest in the budget were expected but not the escalating ‘gung ho’ military proposals.

Arms corporates, the MoD, procurement and privatisation

The MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation (DE & S formerly DESO), employs 16,000 full-time staff and more than 3,400 contractors to handle the three armed services’ £14bn annual spending on new equipment and on maintenance. It oversees Britain’s £163bn 10-year defence budget and most of the government’s largest expenditure projects.

But today, the Times and the FT confidently predict that defence secretary Michael Fallon, speaking at an Institute of Directors dinner in Durham, will reveal many shortcomings, including fraudulent charges that arms companies have levied on the taxpayer for:

  • croquet lessons,
  • horseracing trips,
  • speeding tickets
  • and magicians.

And today, the National Audit Office has released a report saying that during attempts by the DE & S to privatise the running of procurement, which were abandoned in December 2013 after a collapse of the bidding process, MoD civil servants had ‘squandered’ £33m on consultancy fees and preparatory work.

Mr Fallon’s proposal:

A Whitehall defence watchdog will be set up, with the power to fine defence companies up to £1m if it discovers abuse of the contracting process. The defence secretary will tell the audience that the MoD will demand “100% transparency”.

FT: “Mr Fallon’s remarks are likely to be greeted coolly by a defence industry that has so far been broadly critical of government reform efforts”.

And sadly, the ‘fat cat’ mentality survives unscathed . . . The FT reported (14.4.14) that the MoD had asked the Treasury for permission to give top staff in the new watchdog inflation-busting pay rises or bonuses when they leave.

More information: 2015 2014