The Nether-World

December 30, 2006

Saddamicide

Filed under: Iraq — netherworld @ 2:20 pm

So Saddam Hussein has finally been hanged. Few people will mourn the passing of such a brutal dictator but the manner of his removal may have serious repercussions. Saddam was executed for killing Iraqi people (only 148 of them as the authorities were in so much of a hurry to kill Saddam that they didn’t finish trying him for other, greater crimes), something that Bush and Blair have been doing non-stop for the last three years without being held to account so far. Bush says his trial was fair, a trial which was so flawed it took three different judges; the first quit in disgust at government interference, the second one was fired for being an ex-Baathist and the third one was from the town of Halabja seemed to think that there was no need for a trial, only a hanging. Saddam’s “fair trial” severely limited the number of defence witnesses and allowed no scrutiny of America and Britain’s role in making him the monster he was. Blair could not bring himself to make any comment on the execution and so left our Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett to try and balance the hypocrisy of Blair’s supposed objection to the death penalty with his active role in bringing it on the Iraqi President (she’s glad Saddam has been “held to account” which is kind of odd coming from New Labour).

The Americans went out of their way to try and create the illusion that the trial (which they paid for) and required death sentence was entirely an Iraqi affair. I wonder how many will believe such bullshit. Saddam was in American custody up until the moment he mounted the scaffold and it was a court in Washington that finally sealed his fate this morning. By hurriedly dispatching Saddam in this sordid way on a day sacred to Muslims, whatever slim chance there was for some sort of dialogue between Sunnis and Shias has probably gone for good. Of course it can be argued that being taken out and hanged after a show trial in a kangaroo court was better than Saddam deserved and similar to the treatment he meted out when he was in power, but I thought our standards were supposed to be higher than that and that the invasion was meant to put a stop to such abuses of power. So this is the new beginning for Iraq is it?

It’s not a very promising new beginning. Instead of a proper fair trial in an international court we have this travesty of justice and a sentence that is little more than victors justice and revenge. Even Bush realised that the violence will continue without Saddam and sure enough so it has. Now 90 percent of Iraqis say they are worse off than they were under Saddam. December has been the deadliest month in two years for both the occupiers and the occupied. With or without Saddam the different conflicts in Iraq were always going to get worse. This hanging will just exacerbate the problem. Coalition troops will be in even more danger and if they are unlucky enough to be captured by Sunni insurgents…

*UPDATE*

Here a few links well worth visiting to put this news into perpective. First an Iraqi view from the always excellent Riverbend. And also a look at the history of Saddam’s long partnership with the USA… Thanks for the memories. Blairwatch is worth visiting and there is a poignant observation from a Big Stick And A Small Carrot. Obsolete has a couple of posts with some good analysis too.

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December 23, 2006

Aaaaarrrgghh! I’ve been tagged

Filed under: Blogging, Memes, Not Politics — netherworld @ 6:06 am

Yes, it’s happened again, I’ve been tagged (by Rachel) and this time I’m going to respond after having studiously ignored previous memes (well, seeing as it’s Christmas and today is my Birthday). So, the meme is “What are the seven best things you did this past year?”. Hmmm, tricky! I don’t think 2006 will go down as the best year in history. In fact it’s been crap on numerous levels. Anyway giving it some thought, here are seven highlights of the year in no particular order.

  • Getting a cat: Sad but true; I’ve always been a liked cats but after my last cat mysteriously disappeared when I moved back to London, I was reluctant to get another one. Anyway ten years later I did just that and although he’s a destructive, greedy, self-centered, attention-seeking furry little hooligan, he’s also a lot of fun and very cute. He’s a ruthless killer when he finds a mouse, and I discovered when playing with him that he’s a better goalkeeper than Paul Robinson. Also, whenever people come to visit they go all gooey over him…especially girls. Enough cat blogging Ed.

  • Contributing to The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze: This was a fun project organised by Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale. The idea of a book being written by at least 50 different bloggers is something of a first and the subject matter made it something I wanted to be part of. It was the first time anything I had written appeared in print. I was at a party for the contributors the other day and learned that there is going to be a second edition called “THE BIG BOOK OF NEW LABOUR SLEAZE”. I’d better get writing.

  • Writing for Blairwatch: Blairwatch is the blog that inspired me to start a blog. From there I discovered many of the other blogs I now read on a daily basis. So I was delighted when I was asked if I wanted to contribute. Team blogging is a lot of fun. There is less pressure to come up with something every day and because it has more readers than this blog, there is plenty of feedback and lively discussion in the comments.


  • Discovering I’m actually a pretty good student: No one was more surprised than me about this. Deciding that I needed more mental stimulation, I chose to do a Humanities degree with the Open University a couple of years ago. I was spectacularly unacademic at school and college and couldn’t wait to leave and get a job. But after 20 years away from studying, I found that I now really enjoy it (I suppose it helps if you study things that actually interest you). The really surprising thing was that I’m actually good at it. I get high scores for my essays (90% on several occasions) and I’ve just passed an exam on Classical Greece and Rome at Grade Two despite having dreadful handwriting and not having been anywhere near an exam hall in decades. So I shall be continuing my studies even if it is rather time consuming.

  • Meeting other bloggers: This is definitely a highlight of 2006. When I started blogging it didn’t occur to me that I’d end up striking friendships with other bloggers so it was a very pleasant surprise to meet some of the people I read regularly. Outside blogland, most of my friends roll their eyes when I discuss politics so it’s refreshing to be able to talk to informed people on current events. Hopefully there will be more of this in the future.

  • Watching Blair’s credibility drop to zero: Anyone who reads this blog and Blairwatch will know what I think of Blair and New Labour. I can’t think of a more sleazy, dishonest, dangerous, unprincipled, and ill-advised Prime Minister. He has betrayed his Party, the country and the wider world. He has eroded our democracy and is removing our civil liberties at an alarming rate. His reckless rush to war with the American neo-cons and his seeming determination to cause even more damage despite the evidence of his policy failures being plain for everyone (except him apparently) to see, fills me with disgust, as does watching his sycophantic fawning over the Bush administration. So to see Blair being the first Prime Minister to be questioned by the police in a corruption enquiry; to watch Labour Party donors distance themselves from him; to see his poll ratings plummet and to learn that he has no influence whatsoever with the White House brings some grim satisfaction. The sooner he’s gone the better. I’d be even more satisfied if he was to be held to account for his crimes.

  • Watching Italy winning the World Cup: I’m not really a football fan or in any way ‘sporty’. The only time I enjoy watching football is when the World Cup tournament is on. And because most of my family are Italian I tend to support Italy when they are playing (we either have family get-togethers where we collectively shout at the TV, or go to Italian bars and collectively shout at the screen…”Eeetalia!”, along with expensive mobile phone calls to relatives and friends back in Italy every time a goal is scored, missed or disallowed) The Italian team is undeniably entertaining to watch when it’s on form and this year was no exception… Oh how we laughed when Zidane was sent off. My only regret was not being in Italy for the celebrations. I was in Italy in 1982 when the team beat West Germany in the final in Madrid and there followed a week of non-stop partying (starting off with most of the village rushing into the sea).

Anyway there you have it. [Just to avoid confusion, I’ve taken out the links to the poor sods I foisted this meme on to since they are linked on the blogstot version]. Sincere apologies to the following (I promise I won’t make a habit out of this): Justin, ., D-Notice, Devil’s Kitchen, Rimone, Andy Ramblings, Bob Morris over at Polizeros. Anyway, happy Christmas, Yule, Winterval, Saturnalia, Chanukah etc. [Delete as appropriate] and a happy New Year.

*UPDATE*

I forgot to wish Muslims a happy Eid, which falls on December 31 this year (thanks Osama for the reminder). That was remiss of me. I actually thought Eid came at a different time, but then there is Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha So I must have got confused. Please excuse my ignorance. Anyway, happy Eid too.

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December 21, 2006

Mass Lone Demonstration and Carol Service

Filed under: Civil Liberties, Democracy, Protest — netherworld @ 8:42 am

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The last Mass Lone Demonstration of 2006 was as much fun as the others I’ve attended only much, much colder. It really was freezing but that didn’t stop a bunch of die-hard democracy fans assembling in Parliament Square once again to make a mockery of the idiotic SOCPA law which forbids protest in the vicinity of the Prime Minister’s office without written permission from the police which has to be obtained a week beforehand. There was the usual amusing array of diverse protests; from “Fair Pay For Elves” to my own “Stop the Surveillance Society”.

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After protesting for an hour, we gathered under the statue of Winston Churchill to break the law by singing Christmas carols, an event organised by Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads. Veteran peace protester Brian Haw was presented with a new and more powerful loudspeaker and then the singing commenced in candle light, and very tuneful it was too. Pausing only briefly for some mince pies, we sang:

  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Away In A Manger
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Deck The Halls
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • The First Noel
  • Joy To The World
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • Jingle Bells
  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Santa Clause Is Coming To Town
  • Amazing Grace
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Silent Night

Christmas carols aren’t usually my sort of thing but this was really quite charming and it again highlighted the utter stupidity of a repressive law. A collection was made for sick children in Iraq and we also had a minute’s silent reflection. The police were nowhere to be seen. Obviously they decided to keep an even lower profile than they did last year.

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By eight o clock it was all over and we took our frozen bodies down to the Red Lion to thaw out before moving on to another pub to continue the festivities. Among the revellers were Rachel, Gareth from D-Notice, the Disillusioned Kid and of course Tim. As soon as they post something on the Mass Lone Protest, I’ll link to it. You can see higher resolution versions of these photos here and Gareth has some more over here. I expect Indymedia will have some more pictures soon.

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*UPDATE*

Here are the links to the reports from some of the other bloggers who attended:

If I find any more I’ll update this post again. Oh, and we managed to raise £85.93 (and 70 euro-cents) for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

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Blair Ratchets Up The Hate on Iran

Filed under: Bliar, Bush, Iran — netherworld @ 4:40 am

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve worried about a possible attack on Iran over this last year. There have been plenty warning signs but my predictions as to when the attack might come have so far been wrong, thankfully. That doesn’t mean however, that there is no danger of an attack, all the signs are still there and I still fear that Bush and Blair are actually stupid enough to do such a thing. I’ll get to the latest developments shortly, but first let’s look at some of the events that cause this speculation.

We have Jack Straw being fired from his post by the Bush administration for suggesting that an attack on Iran would be “inconceivable” and “completely nuts“. Then we have a continuing media-driven hate campaign against Iran perpetrated in some cases by neo-conservative stooges. We have Condoleezza Rice saying that security assurances for Iran are not on the table in any talks with the Iranian leadership. And Blair himself had a speech re-written by the White House in which any references to British doubts about attacking Iran were removed. The recent war in Lebanon increased the pressure being put on Iran and further demonised that country leading to the USA conducting provocative military exercises in the Persian Gulf. Iran, predictably, responded with some military exercises of its own.

This week we have heard that Iran is exchanging the Dollar for the Euro in all transactions and assets held abroad, obviously worrying to the Americans. Within hours of that news, we hear of further military maneuvers in the Gulf and some more sabre rattling from America, not from the Bush administration this time but from Democrat Senator and possible Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Blair of course, doesn’t want to be left out when it comes to spewing out extremist bile against Iran. Unsurprisingly, he’s singing from the same hymn sheet as the Bush administration (and Democrats too apparently). He is stating that all the problems in the region have nothing to do at all with the Anglo-American destruction of Iraq and the punitive, Israeli led policies on the Palestinian people. No, it’s all Iran’s fault.

“Iran is deliberately causing maximum problems for moderate governments and for ourselves in the region – in Palestine, in Lebanon and in Iraq.”

He goes on:

“There is no point in hiding the fact that Iran poses a major strategic threat to the cohesion of the entire region,”

Not only that but Iran is such a problem apparently that it overshadows the “major, major problems” of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. He tops these asinine statements with an incredibly bellicose piece of rhetoric:

“They seek to pin us back in Lebanon, in Iraq and in Palestine. Our response should be to expose what they are doing, build the alliances to prevent it and pin them back across the whole of the region,”
Source

Let’s get something straight here, the Iranian regime is not very savoury. It oppresses its people and has a bad human rights record. According to Amnesty International, it has the second highest number of executions after China (America has the fourth) and it can be antagonistic to its neighbours and the West. Its President seems to be as religiously driven as Bush and Blair. Iran may or may not be producing nuclear weapons (the CIA has found no proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme). But it is not Iran that is invading Middle East countries or bombing civilians on a daily basis. The chaos and misery in Palestine is caused by Israel with the help of Bush and Blair. In other words Iran is not the “major threat” to the region Blair says it is. If anyone is a threat to the region it is America, Britain and Israel. The last time Iran was a threat to Europe was in 479 BC (the Persian Wars) and the threat was dealt with successfully. The current demonising of Iran is reminiscent of the demonising that occurred during and after that ancient conflict. What Blair is doing here is accusing his enemy of the crimes he himself is committing. Blair is just as much of an extremist (if not more so) as Ahmadinejad.

Attacking Iran will not improve matters any more than the invasion of Iraq improved things in that country. An attack would have catastrophic consequences for the region and beyond and would probably hand Ahmadinejad even more support. It seems incredible that Blair is speaking of an “alliance of moderation” to combat Iran when his actions have done the complete opposite, something recognised by just about everyone except himself and George Bush. The recent Chatham House report is a testament to this.

Hopefully the tensions will ease, or Bush and Blair will be out of office before their terrifying plans can develop any further. There is serious doubt as to whether the British armed forces can undertake another campaign, especially one as massive as an attack on Iran would be. The army is already overstretched to breaking point. But sanity seems to be in short supply in Downing Street and the White House.

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December 18, 2006

More Oil Shenanigans

Filed under: Iran, Iraq, US Politics — netherworld @ 9:38 pm

I hadn’t seen this Robert Newman video before. I came across it via a comment from The Morning Star over at Blairwatch in a response to the news that Iran is exchanging the Dollar for the Euro in all transactions and assets held abroad. This news in itself is an interesting and disturbing development, especially if, as implied, this also applies to oil transactions. The last leader to do that was of course, Saddam Hussein and we’ve seen the consequences. Iran has been threatening to do this for over a year now as has Venezuela. If enough countries followed suit it might have serious repercussions for the American economy and maybe ours too although others think this may be a red herring. As I’m not an economist I can’t say for sure what the full implications are (perhaps an economist can shed more light on this). Anyway the video is great… informative and funny.

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December 17, 2006

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller’s resignation and the July 7 Bombings

Filed under: 7/7, Terrorism — netherworld @ 11:46 pm

With the plethora of news stories released last Thursday, you’d be forgiven for missing the interesting revelation that the head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller is stepping down. So, perhaps not as newsworthy as Blair being questioned by the police or the news that Saudi Arabia can tell the SFO what they can and can’t investigate via an ever compliant (and increasingly corrupt) Tony Blair, but now that we have digested those unpalatable tit-bits, the reasons for Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller’s surprise resignation are starting to look interesting. Two newspapers are now suggesting that she wanted to quit before new details of the July 7 London Bombings come to light in the New year, details which may have led to her being sacked. Here are a couple of snippets, First the Mail:

The head of MI5 has resigned weeks before full details of the role of her agents in a surveillance operation involving two of the July 7 bombers are due to be revealed.

And also The Sunday Times:

Sources said she had decided to quit in anticipation that she might be asked to resign over blunders concerning last year’s July 7 bombings.

However, Dame Eliza is maintaining that she agreed her resignation with former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who was removed from his post back in May. This is the same Charles Clarke, of course, who trumpeted that the attacks came “out of the blue“, a statement which has already been shown to be completely untrue. So it will be interesting to find out just what these new revelations might be seeing as we’ve already heard about Operation Crevice and that Mohammed Sidique Khan and others had been under observation by the security services and that those security services had allegedly been warned by their American and French counterparts.

Obviously there was an intelligence failure, and it seems that the media know far more than has already been revealed but are prevented from releasing what they know.

The sources said that the agency was bracing itself for detailed disclosures about its intelligence on Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shezhad Tanweer, the two leading bombers who killed 52 people. The Sunday Times and other media are prevented by court orders from making this evidence public.

New information about the attacks trickles out from time to time, but the best way to get to the bottom of all this is to have a full public inquiry, something many of us have been asking for since the bombings but which the Government is still resisting despite an on-going campaign. When the Downing Street Website announced that it would be hosting a petition service last month, I suspended my usual cynicism and created a petition to hold a full public inquiry into 7/7. I still don’t know how close to an inquiry we are or if a petition will help but the petition is still on-line and this might be a good time to add to the pressure for an inquiry.

If you think we should have an inquiry into July 7, please sign the petition.

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A Little Vignette of 21st Century Britain

Filed under: Protest — netherworld @ 8:42 pm

Regular readers will know that I attend the Mass Lone Demonstrations in Parliament Square as often as I can. Not only are they a terrific way to highlight how stupid and pointless the SOCPA laws (.pdf) are, they’re also a lot of fun. The next one is on December 20th and will be followed by a carol-singing session (how subversive can we get eh?).

Anyway, in order to be able to protest legally these days, it’s necessary to get police permission which for me usually means trotting down to Charing Cross police station and handing in forms a week before the protest. At Charing Cross the police are used to us now and are good-natured and fairly efficient despite large numbers of people turning up and various pranks being played. It is also possible to go to your local police station to get permission but this seems to invite a somewhat different experience as this post clearly shows (via Rachel who was also there).

I’m not going to include any of the post here as I think it’s so good you should go and read the whole thing (it’s basically a time-line of an interminable wait in a London police station). For me it seemed like a snapshot of life in 21st Century Britain as inefficient bureaucracy meets a determination to stop people exercising their right to protest, but the other details paint a vivid tragicomic picture.

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December 15, 2006

A Shameful Day For Blair And Britain

Filed under: Bliar, Cash for Honours, Nu Labour, UK Politics — netherworld @ 2:34 am

There was no shortage of interesting news stories in Britain today, from the on-going horror of the Ipswich murders to the official release of Lord Stevens inquiry into the death of Princess Diana (“tragic accident“), to the news that the Government intends to close 2,500 post offices. So this would be the perfect day to slip out two other stories that the Government would rather not draw too much attention to. It didn’t work; the stories are so big that they were obviously going to top the headlines.

Both these stories demonstrate the depths to which this government (and also the country) has sunk to. Firstly we have Tony Blair being the first sitting Prime Minister to be questioned by the police in connection with a criminal investigation. This is of course the cash for honours scandal in which we knew that the Prime Minister would eventually be questioned. What is surprising is that he was not questioned under caution, which implies that he is being treated as a witness rather than a suspect. This is very odd; the buck stops with the Prime Minister and Blair himself said as much when the story first broke early this year. One can only speculate that our honourable leader is leaving his friends to take the rap for him. Right in the frame is Blair’s fundraiser in chief and Middle East envoy, Lord Levy who has already been arrested, bailed and questioned under caution. I suppose it’s not so surprising that ‘Teflon Tony’ once again escapes the consequences of his actions, however his reputation is now further tarnished with sleaze. No doubt there will be further revelations as the investigation nears its conclusion. We’ve already heard that Gordon Brown, despite previous denials of having anything to to with the scandal, is in fact deeply involved. Iain Dale has some more on Blair’s defence and like Iain, I’m not convinced.

Worse than this piece of common sleaze however, is an even more disgraceful revelation which came out today, and this is the one that turned my usual disgust with New Labour into a fit of anger.

The Serious Fraud Office has ended its corruption inquiry into a £6bn fighter planes deal with Saudi Arabia.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said the SFO was “discontinuing” its investigation into Britain’s biggest defence company, BAE Systems.

The probe had related to the Al Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia. BAE has denied any wrongdoing.

Lord Goldsmith told the Lords he thought that a prosecution “could not be brought”.

He said the decision had been made in the wider public interest, which had to be balanced against the rule of law.

Lord Goldsmith also told peers that Prime Minister Tony Blair had agreed that the continuation of the investigation would cause “serious damage” to relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia.
Source

This is appalling! The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, under pressure from the Saudi government BAE Systems and, of course, Tony Blair, decides that a small matter like the law shouldn’t get in the way of huge British arms deals with Saudi Arabia and relations between the two countries. What does that say about the rule of law and British justice? Maybe I was being naive but I didn’t think that even New Labour would stoop so low as to halt an on-going corruption investigation by the Serious Fraud Office because of threats from a foreign government and fear of losing lucrative contracts. This is not so much sleaze as pure corruption. Just as galling are the reasons given for this extraordinary decision; “national security” and nothing at all to do with commercial considerations… Bullshit!
Newsnight has good analysis of the story which you can see here (for a short while).

The decision to abandon the investigation makes a mockery of Labour’s own anti-corruption legislation which is part of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001

108 Bribery and corruption: foreign officers etc.

(1) For the purposes of any common law offence of bribery it is immaterial if the functions of the person who receives or is offered a reward have no connection with the United Kingdom and are carried out in a country or territory outside the United Kingdom.

(2) In section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 (c. 34) (corrupt transactions with agents) insert this subsection after subsection (3)-

“(4) For the purposes of this Act it is immaterial if-

(a) the principal’s affairs or business have no connection with the United Kingdom and are conducted in a country or territory outside the United Kingdom;

(b) the agent’s functions have no connection with the United Kingdom and are carried out in a country or territory outside the United Kingdom.”

Once again I find myself agreeing with Iain Dale on this matter. Some of the comments on the hurried post I wrote on Blairwatch when the story broke are also worth reading. Also, check out Chicken Yoghurt and A Big Stick And A Small Carrot to get an idea of the sense of outrage over this.

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December 8, 2006

Bush and Blair on Iraq: More of the same

Filed under: Bliar, Bush, Iraq — netherworld @ 9:47 am

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Bush and Blair were handed an opportunity to partially extricate themselves from the horror which is Iraq by the Iraq Study Group (ISG). Instead, they pretty much dismissed the report (.pdf) and went back to the same tired old rhetoric and still talked of “victory” in Iraq, thus guaranteeing that the carnage will continue. To be fair, the carnage is likely to continue whatever Bush and Blair decide, but now it will probably continue with British and American troops remaining and without Iranian and Syrian help to end it.

Tony Blair’s trip to Washington was heralded as an attempt by him to exert his considerable influence on George Bush and persuade him to accept the main recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (a phased withdrawal of troops and talking to Iran and Syria) and to win support for ending the Palestinian crisis. Predictably, nothing of the sort occurred. The patronising way in which these two leaders praised the ISG and then announced how they intend to cherry pick the bits they like from what is meant to be a comprehensive package is depressing for all those concerned about the situation in the Middle East. That this was going to happen was obvious to anyone who watched the unenthusiastic way Bush greeted the release of the stinging findings of the ISG report. And it is no surprise that the ISG report would be a damning indictment of Bush’s Iraq policy. James Baker gave very clear reasons for not invading Iraq after the first Gulf war, and they are the same reasons why the 2003 invasion was doomed to fail.

For years, the question I was most often asked about Desert Storm is why we did not remove Saddam Hussein from power. [The answer is that] A coalition war to liberate Kuwait could then have been portrayed as a US war of conquest. Furthermore, even if Saddam were captured and his regime toppled, American forces would still have been confronted with the spectre of a military occupation of indefinite duration to pacify a country and sustain a new government in power. The ensuing urban warfare would surely have resulted in more casualties to American GIs than the war itself, thus creating a political firestorm at home.

And as much as Saddam’s neighbours wanted to see him gone, they feared Iraq would fragment in unpredictable ways that would play into the hands of the mullahs in Iran, who could export their brand of Islamic fundamentalism with the help of Iraq’s Shias and quickly transform themselves into a dominant regional power.

Finally, the Security Council resolution under which we were operating authorised us to use force only to kick Iraq out of Kuwait, nothing more. As events have amply demonstrated, these concerns were valid. I am no longer asked why we did not remove Saddam in 1991!
Source

Blair’s support for talks with Iran and Syria were undermined by Bush’s refusal to contemplate such action. Blair has however been given permission to return to the Middle East to try again to achieve a peace deal without having anything to offer. American support is luke warm though, and Israel’s support is, of course, non existent. So we can see the beginnings of a split between London and Washington on how to deal with the Iraq crisis. Unfortunately it seems that Blair will go along with whatever Bush decides as usual despite his own feelings. So much for influence.

One amusing moment from the joint press conference is reported by the Daily Mirror. Bush was visibly annoyed by the very good questions put to him and the Prime Minister by the BBC’s Nick Robinson.

One explanation for Mr Bush’s ill-humour is a perceived lack of courtesy from British journalists at the press conference.

He looked disgusted when the Brits failed to follow the US press corps by standing as the two leaders entered the room.

He later accused the UK contingent of being disrespectful to Mr Blair, when one tried to ask him a supplementary question.

Turning to the PM, he shouted out: “This is a total violation, the press corps are calling you down, man.

“It’s the Prime Minister!”

I put it down to the President being insane. After all, it’s not the first time he’s lost his rag at a press conference.

Tony Blair is already back in Britain and has moved to stifle any possible debate in Parliament on the findings of the ISG report. If we needed any further evidence as to how morally and politically bankrupt Blair is, this refusal to discuss the report is it.

Further Analysis

Obsolete
A Big Stick And A Small Carrot
Blairwatch

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December 4, 2006

Has Bush Completely Lost The Plot?

Filed under: Bush, Iraq, US Politics — netherworld @ 3:58 pm

Well, I guess many of us would argue that Bush never really had it to lose. But with his refusal to face the glaringly obvious, one has to wonder whether Paul Craig Roberts doesn’t have a point when he said:

Millions of other Americans want Bush turned over to the war crimes tribunal at the Hague. The true fate that awaits Bush is psychiatric incarceration.

This wasn’t the only article this weekend that questioned the President’s sanity. Frank Rich of the New York Times (via Truthout) made similar observations.

As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is.

The most startling example was his insistence that Al Qaeda is primarily responsible for the country’s spiraling violence. Only a week before Mr. Bush said this, the American military spokesman on the scene, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, called Al Qaeda “extremely disorganized” in Iraq, adding that “I would question at this point how effective they are at all at the state level.” Military intelligence estimates that Al Qaeda makes up only 2 percent to 3 percent of the enemy forces in Iraq, according to Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News. The bottom line: America has a commander in chief who can’t even identify some 97 percent to 98 percent of the combatants in a war that has gone on longer than our involvement in World War II.

Bush’s continuing delusion that US troops can still finish the mission of creating a stable, democratic Iraq which will be the cause of the democratisation of the whole Middle East coupled with the semantic games being played on whether Iraq is in a state of civil war or not when outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has just said that it is “much worse” than civil war and Iraqis are worse off than under Saddam, should concern us all. Commissioning James Baker to come up with new ideas for dealing with the Iraq mess and then going out of his way to sabotage the anticipated recommendation (talking with Syria and Iran) is also insane.

Bush’s problems with alcohol and drugs have been well documented. Less publicised (by the MSM at least) is his alleged erratic behavior, mood-swings, depression and paranoia which is said to be being treated with powerful anti-depressant drugs which impair his remaining mental faculties and his ability to respond to a crisis. This is worrying for everyone. In Britain, Blair won’t make a move until he has clear directions from Washington. We’ve already exploded the myth of Blair’s influence on Bush. In the absence of instructions all Blair can do is obfuscate about what British troops will do in Iraq, announcing a withdrawal but admitting that troops will remain in the country.

On a brighter note John Bolton the US ambassador to the UN has quit, realising he was not going to get the necessary Senate support. It looks like the “thumping” received by the Republicans in the recent midterm elections are starting to bear fruit. First Donald Rumsfeld and now Bolton. Reality has this nasty way of intruding on delusions.

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