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We ARE responsible: in our name the British and American government have destabilised the Middle East

george-osborne-aleppoMP George Osborne opened his Commons speech with the truth: “We are deceiving ourselves in this Parliament if we believe we have no responsibility for what has happened in Syria.”

Saddam Hussein was for many years funded and armed by the US and British governments, as a counterweight to Iran whom they feared. Support from the U.S. for Iraq was frequently discussed in open session of the Senate and House of Representatives. On June 9, 1992, Ted Koppel reported on ABC’s Nightline that the “Reagan/Bush administrations permitted—and frequently encouraged—the flow of money, military intelligence, Special Operations training, agricultural credits, dual-use technology, chemicals, and weapons to Iraq” (refs 1-3 here).

There is evidence that Hussein committed atrocities (as did and do other ‘friendly’ rulers in the region) but also that he had developed an economy in which citizens’ basic needs were met and a greater degree of equality of income and opportunity was achieved than anywhere else in the region.

He was encouraged to fight a proxy war with Iran but then went a step too far and felt that he could invade Kuwait with impunity after discussing the matter with US Ambassador Glaspie, who said, according to the tape and transcript of their meeting on July 25, 2000: “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasise the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”

‘We’ – the British and American governments – are responsible for destabilising the Middle East – a process which some see as dating back to the Sykes-Picot boundaries agreement but which, within living memory, starts with the first Iraq War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991) mounted to expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait. Subsequently America and its allies wrecked Iraq’s water, sewage and electricity systems by imposing sanctions which prevented imports of the parts needed to repair them. Iraq’s army and police force was dismantled and the country has been beset by bloodshed ever since.

All this – as is rarely pointed out – happened well before 9/11 (2001) which preceded the second Iraq war.in 2003, launched on the pretext of removing non-existent weapons of mass destruction from the country.

Osborne said that the tragedy in Aleppo was due in part to the August 2013 vote, when MPs refused to act against the Assad regime; he is very short-sighted – the tragedy started when USA and UK befriended the Iraqi leader. He recommends intervention – but if we had not intervened in Iraq it might well today have continued to be a relatively egalitarian country in which its citizens’ needs were met and other countries in the region might well have continued to be relatively peaceful.

Intervention has been disastrous: continued civil war in Iraq and Libya – following the West’s intervention –  and the US and British deployment of military personnel in the command and control centre responsible for repeated lethal Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen.

 

 

 

Have serving MPs from the Cabinet of 2003 the moral right to represent their constituents following such poor judgement and its consequences?

An article on a Jamaican blog ends: “As we digest the contents and impact of Chilcot’s report, I am reminded of the late Brian Haw (1949-2011) who lived in front of the Houses of Parliament for almost 10 years protesting against the Iraq War”.

 

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The late Brian Haw

African Herbsman writes: “One of the sad aspects of the Chilcot report is that most of its contents was known at the time leading up to the Iraq War in 2003, through Whitehall & various media sources – e.g. Govt leaks, Private Eye magazine and documentaries made by Panorama and Dispatches”. He continues:

“That is why –  with the exception of the late Robin Cook – Tony Blair’s cabinet of 2002-3 must also shoulder blame for their support for the war. Former cabinet ministers such as Jack Straw, Jack Cunningham, David Blunkett, Margaret Beckett, Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Deputy PM John Prescott are as culpable as Tony Blair”.

Now some of those ex-ministers are expressing various forms of denial, but the author is unrelenting: “Today, say they didn’t have all the facts or felt shut out by Tony Blair at the time. Yet these ministers voted to commit young men and women to an illegal war. Unforgivable”.

African Herbsman, who formerly worked in Whitehall continues:

“These cabinet and backbench Labour MPs voted for war only to boost their career prospects within the government. Gordon Brown was told bluntly that if he did not publicly support the war he would not succeed Tony Blair as PM.

“Today, almost 70 of those Labour MPs who voted in 2003 are still in the House of Commons.  Yet most of them have said little about Chilcot’s report or even apologised for their selfish act. The majority of whom are plotting the bring the current leader Jeremy Corbyn down via Angela Eagle – who voted for the war.

“Some Labour MPs did their devious best to block the setting up of the Chilcot Inquiry. Some tried restricting the Inquiry’s terms of reference and even delay the report’s release.

“Do any of those MPs have the moral right to represent their constituents following such poor judgement and its consequences?

“Friday morning 2 May 1997, was one of the happiest days to be in London. The sun was out and Labour had defeated John Major’s Tory government the night before. We couldn’t believe that for some of us we were witnessing a Labour government in our adult lives. But Tony Blair, his cabinet colleagues, his inner circle and pro-war backbench MPs just blew the goodwill they were given to make the UK a proud, honest and prosperous society”.

 

 

Read the article here: https://wingswithme.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/chilcot-report-dont-just-blame-blair/

 

 

 

‘Corbyn’s key political positions are in actual fact supported by a majority of the British public’

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David Edwards of Media Lens responds to a Guardian article by Polly Toynbee in which she suggests that voting for Jeremy Corbyn would amount to a ‘betrayal’ of the electorate by quoting Ian Sinclair’s argument that in fact it is Toynbee, not Corbyn, who is out of touch with public opinion.

Sinclair noted that Corbyn supports a publicly run NHS, a position supported by 84 per cent of the public, according to a November 2013 YouGov poll.  In addition:

  • ‘He supports the nationalisation of the railways, a position backed by 66 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.
  • ‘He supports the nationalisation of the energy companies, a position supported by 68 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.
  • ‘He believes the Royal Mail should be publicly owned, a position supported by 67 percent of the public, according to the same poll.
  • ‘He supports rent controls, a position supported by 60% of the public, including 42% of Conservatives, according to an April 2015 YouGov poll.
  • ‘He opposes the retention of Trident nuclear weapons, a position John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, notes is supported by a “smallish plurality” in “the majority of polls”.
  • ‘He strongly opposed the 2003 Iraq War, which was also opposed by the more than one million people who marched through London on 15 February 2003.
  • ‘He has long pushed for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, a position favoured by 82 per cent of the public, according to a May 2014 YouGov poll.’

Thus: ‘Corbyn’s key political positions are in actual fact supported by a majority of the British public.’

Edwards ends: “Like Blair and the rest of the establishment, the Guardian and other corporate media claim their motivation is to preserve Labour’s electability, rather than to attack any and all politics that stray off the ‘centrist’, ‘modernising’ path.

“In reality, it could hardly be more obvious that this collection of profit-seeking, corporate enterprises – grandly and laughably proclaiming themselves ‘the free press’ – is opposing a threat to their private and class interests”.

 

FT on the rise of populism in politics: Janan Ganesh doesn’t go to the heart of the matter

A promising start:

tony blairGanesh, “A spirit of anti-politics began permeating the country around the turn of the millennium when Tony Blair, the last politician the British allowed themselves to love, broke their hearts by turning out to be a prime minister and not a miracle worker.

“The disillusion intensified after the Iraq war, a work of naive over-ambition forever remembered as an act of heinous deceit. Then came the crash, the expenses scandal and much more immigration than voters were told to expect.

“Cynicism verging on nihilism is the closest thing modern Britain has to a national ideology. It has become common sense to assume the worst of anyone in public authority”.

Causal trends noted:

  • fragmentation of class loyalty,
  • wage stagnation and structural unemployment,
  • UKIP relies on older voters, of whom there are more and more.

Damage limitation?

Ganesh advises: “Mainstream politicians should remind populists that they do the hard work of politics: representing constituents, reconciling competing claims and taking an interest in dry corners of legislation that affect people’s lives. Most politics is necessary drudgery”.

The public has become aware of the truth

revolving door largerMany more people are now aware that political decisions are being made in the interests of wealthy corporates, not the electorate. This leads to the damaging decisions made in the economic, social, environmental and military sectors. The Political Concern website was set up to raise awareness of the ‘revolving door’, rewards for failure, widespread behind-the-scene lobbying and party funding which corruption the decision-making process here and abroad.

The latest example of the revolving door:

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Until leading politicians really care for the ‘ordinary’ people, who elect and pay them to work for the common good, the spirit of anti-politics” will continue to “permeate” the country.

We need to build an anti-corruption movement – one did well in Delhi elections.

Is the ‘free press’ structurally hard-wired not to obstruct US and UK regimes bent on war ?

 

David EdwardsDavid Edwards concludes a detailed and searing analysis of the way in which Blair’s 2003 “obvious web of deceit” was greeted, not even with whispers of dissent, but “with thunderous applause and praise by the political-media ‘club’ ”, by writing:

“For any rational viewer or reader, the cynicism, and the silence about that cynicism, was jaw-dropping. . .

“Much has been made of different newspapers being ‘for’ and ‘against’ the war in Iraq. But in fact all newspapers and broadcasters failed to raise even the most obvious objections to the case for believing the war was necessary, legal or moral. In March 2003, the way journalists feign fierce dissent while tossing feeble challenges for political executives, fellow ‘club’ members, to swat away, had never been more obvious.

“The Iraq war showed how the ‘free press’ is structurally hard-wired not to obstruct US and UK regimes bent on war. The corporate media – entrenched in the irrational and dangerous assumption that it should accept frameworks of debate laid down by ‘mainstream’ political parties – took key illusions seriously. As a result, the fraudulent discussion about Iraqi WMD raged on and on with the real world left far behind.

“And this was no passive media ‘failure’; it was an active, resilient determination to promote ‘the view from Downing Street’ and Washington. In 2002 and 2003, hundreds of Media Lens readers and other media activists – including journalists, academics, lawyers and authors – sent many hundreds of rational, referenced emails to newspapers and TV stations. Time and again, their crucial evidence and sources were simply ignored. The idea that coverage of the Iraq war represented a terrible ‘failure’ for the corporate media is an exact reversal of the truth. Iraq was a good example of how these media consistently excel in their structural role as defenders of powerful interests.

“The real ‘failure’ was the emergence of undeniable evidence that the media had all along been boosting Bush-Blair lies. But even this would have mattered little in the absence of Iraqi resistance and the vast death toll generated by the US determination to divide and conquer that resistance. If Iraqis had quietly accepted the conquest, the talk would not have been of ‘media failure’ but of ‘humanitarian success’, with all criticism dismissed as ‘carping’. This was indicated very clearly by the BBC’s then political editor Andrew Marr in April 2003, when he commented that the quick ‘fall’ of Baghdad, with Iraqis ‘celebrating’, had put an end to all ‘these slightly tawdry arguments and scandals. That is now history’. (Marr, BBC 1 News at Ten, April 9, 2003)

It is a bitter, even surreal, irony that the media ‘failure’ on Iraq is being lamented by journalists who have since repeated the same performance on Libya, Syria, Israel-Palestine, Iran, Venezuela, WikiLeaks, climate change, and much else besides.”

Read the article here: http://www.medialens.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=725:blair-speech&catid=51:alerts-2013&Itemid=202