I've always thought it sad that the UK, a military nation if ever there was one, treats its ordinary military with such disdain. I'm often reminded of the truth of Kipling's poem "Tommy". (I'm sure the top brass get a REALLY good deal.)
Oh, yes, there is such respect for "our brave boys" from the top people on Remembrance Sunday, when politicos and royals dress up in their very best black and stand at the Cenotaph looking inordinately serious. But they show a good deal less sympathy for the guys who come back alive but traumatised, find it hard to fit back into their families and ordinary civilian life, and end up homeless and alone.
Worth noting here the Tory press criticise Mr Corbyn for not bowing sufficiently low at the Cenotaph (forgetting to mention that he stayed behind to speak to the veterans while the rest of them went to the VIP lunch). If you have the time just read the hypocritical crap in that article.
From what little I've heard of Chilcot, the line that Angus mentions (and the title of this post) won't leave my head: "I will be with you whatever."
It would be a ridiculous thing to say at the best of times, but when the lives of millions of people were hanging in the balance, it beyond parody.
I'm tempted to say that my first thought was of a particularity immature teenage lover rather than the prime minister of a war-faring nation.
Seriously, what kind of an idiot would promise unyielding support to another country, no matter what. The man gave away the power of the UK prime minister to the president of another country. "No matter what happens, you call the shots and I'll do what you say".
And not just to any other head of government. To George DubYa Bush for heaven's sake. it would be hard to find a head of government I'd trust less!
And yet, almost undoubtedly, becasue he is who he is, he will walk away with his miserable head held high, to carry on money making giving spin doctor advice to some of the most repugnant regimes on Earth.
Someone joked on Twitter that Blair was asked if he would defend himself at the Hague (he is a barrister). He replied, "what does it pay?"
Hundreds of under-equipped British troops died in this fiasco of a war; hundreds more came home minus limbs or traumatised beyond treatment and often dependant upon charity to help them becasue the British government would not.
In Iraq hundreds of thousands of totally innocent civilians with no connection to Saddam, and no knowledge of the non-existent WMDs that could hit British targets in 45 minutes, according to Blair, died, and people continue to die in the chaos we left behind. How many were maimed we have no idea.
Iraq, a stable, albeit unpleasant, regime, with which Britain was happy to do business when it suited them, was destabilised because no one, not Bush, not Blair, not anyone, had a post war plan in place, not even in their heads (as Angus says, just like they didn't for Afghanistan, Libya or indeed Brexit).
Saddam ran a tight ship which did not allow for terrorist organisations, and no religious extremism was tolerated. The aftermath of the war was infiltration by Islamic terrorists in the form of ISIS and we know where that has led.
Over the next few weeks more of the report will become known to us, as legal experts pour over the intricacies. It took a long time to write. It will take a long time to decipher, but I hope that at the end Blair and his bunch of self serving, money grubbing thugs will be made to pay...as much as I believe it won't happen.
I have a similar ambition.ReplyDelete
I note that the far lower estimates on Iraqi war dead have now become mainstream.
I, for one, think that the Johns Hopkins assessment of numbers of dead has statistical validity and suggests an order of magnitude higher deaths.
This is not trivial. It does not even reflect methodology. It reflects a lack of care for the people we were supposed to be liberating. The USA refused to collate statistics on the subject, perhaps because their electorate would have found it unacceptable. I wonder how the careers of the authors of the Johns Hopkins study have progressed, post publication?
Well, of course Douglas, they can only ever provide estimates, but obviously the smaller they can make these numbers the less bad it looks for them.Delete
Interesting question in the last paragraph.
Kill one person and its murder slaughtering thousands is a patriotic act of war
Well that's what the two leaders wanted ain't turned out like that .
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
Not a sentiment which Tony And George would aspire towards.Not quite so glorious Tony always
Says he understands how the relatives feel no you don't perhaps if we shot one of his children
And mutilated another then he might truly understand.....
No I don't really wish any harm to his children or anybody's in fact but
Pretence seems to be a defining trait on Tony .we can all look sad and
heartbroken if we want doesn't mean it's true .
Yes Niko. I've always said that if it had been obligatory to send Euan off to war with no special conditions, he'd have been a lot less likely to do it.Delete
To me war is the very very last resort, and it absolutely wasn't with these people. The logic of their arguments are lost when compared with the statement made by President Chirac (a man I loathe) on French tv, explaining why, if the question of war came to the UN Security Council at that moment, he would veto it. Maybe not later, but at that moment, when Dr Blix had not completed his study.
But Bush and Blair couldn't wait.
There seems to be something about having a war that British Prime Ministers just can't resist. As you said elsewhere, it makes them feel like Churchill.
This is good if you have the time to read it.
It's in the side bar: Witterings of a Weegiewarbler
The state of Iraq is so bad that some of it's citizens look back on Saddam Hussein's despotic regime with nostalgia. Damning in itself.ReplyDelete
Niko, he's sad for all the lost millions...
...of pounds he's going to lose in future talks and lectures.
I knew a bloke from Iraq years ago. He said that life in Iraq wasn't that bad. There was no more religious "stuff" going on than there was in Scotland. Saddam wasn't really religious. You could have a few beers; women could wear Western clothes, work, run their own businesses, and the economy wasn't bad. It was safe to walk the streets, and there was little crime, possibly becasue the penalties for crime were so severe.Delete
Now women are stuck in the house, wearing tents, faces covered. It is dangerous to be out after dark... and of course, even during the day you can be blown up by bomb planted by ISIS.
It would be nice to think that this would bankrupt him. It's probably the thing that would hurt him most. But given where a lot of his money comes from, I doubt it will.
Sadly, you are both correct and I remember blogging along the same lines a few years ago.
Got a link John?Delete
The West military complex needed a baddy after the Cold War. You can't justify spending billions on arms when there is no baddy to 'defend' yourself from.ReplyDelete
The chaos in the middle east has been manufactured deliberately to ensure there is an 'enemy' to fight, and to ensure no country there is allowed to grow powerful enough to challenge Israel. The oil in the middle east is a bonus.
Good point. Well, they have certainly created one, haven't they?Delete
I mean with the Soviet Union you could always have discussions. There's no discussing with ISIS.
Blair was on radio this morning talking abut how evil Saddam was (possibly forgetting how regime change is forbidden by the UN). He failed at any time to mention how evil the Saudi and Bahraini regimes, for example are.
Why are we not bombing them?
"What kind of an idiot would promise unyielding support to another country, no matter what?"ReplyDelete
In 1914, following the assassination in Sarajevo, Kaiser Wilhelm pledged unconditional support to Austro-Hungary. Independently, the German government did the same. The Austrian government wanted to use the Archduke's assassination as an excuse to attack Serbia, but were afraid that this would cause a war with Russia. The guarantee that Germany would be their ally persuaded them to take the gamble. The result was the First World War, which led on to the rise of the Nazis and the Second World War.
Kaiser Bill and Tony Blair have something in common. At this time, no-one can say just how dire the eventual results of the invasion of Iraq will be.
Good point Les.Delete
And no, none of us can guess what kind repercussions will ensue from the creation of ISIS, created in the vacuum left by the mishandling of the aftermath, and the deeply abiding hatred stirred up becasue of this war.
I wonder what we would do and how we would feel if some random country came along and bomber the hell out of Edinburgh, reducing large parts of it to rubble and killing and maiming the population, all because they thought that Nicola Sturgeon was a threat to the union, as she is.
The killing would be indiscriminate, all sides of the argument would be bombed equally. How would that go down?
I have only seen the headlines but I don't think I learned anything that I didn't already know. The forign policy decisions of the UK, but of the West in general are a disgrace. I tend to think that no matter how unpleasant a regime is we have to let the people in that country deal with it if they can, like you said going to war is a last resort. We also only go to war when we think we can win and change a country to be more like us, would we start one with Russia and China who have, some people say, questionable human rights records or Saudi Arabia. Of course we wouldn't, I also think the fact that oil is in abundance in those countries played a part, I don't know how big a part but it played a part.
I heard a little of what Jeremy Corbyn said and that stupid shouting out by the Labour MP and I agree with Corbyn. The MP, Austin I think, should have the whip removed and be deselected, what a disgrace of a non human being. But then Labout are going to split, just a matter of time, many might go to the Liberals and make the Liberals the main opposition, that might happen but I think Labour as we know it may not survive. Time will tell. I didn't hear Robertson and will listen to it when I have the time. I saw Blair and it was just Blair, not my fault, I didn't know, I acted in the best interests, all shit and we are fed it by most of them all the time. Nothing will happen to him anyway, he will be protected and have a cushy life no matter what.
I also saw stuff on social media raging at the soldiers, but to be honest they are as much victims in this in my opinion. Just another shameful part of of UK history which will sadly be repeated again in the future because we never learn and we continue to allow those people to govern.
The soldiers are very much victims in it, Bruce, in my opinion.Delete
They were sent to a war which, at best, was dubious as it didn't have specific UN backing. They were ill equipped; some had to buy their own boots and use personal mobile phones becasue of poor equipment. They didn't have proper vehicles. They had no choice but to go.
There were some bad apples amongst them, but there always are. Largely they were good people doing a crap job and led by fools.
I don;t know what oil had to do with it, but when the troops moved in the very first thing they secured was the oil facilities! Maybe tells us something.
As long as we have the current constitutional arrangements in England where the Monarch has absolute sovereignty and by extension her elected representatives in Westminster,events such as Iraq will continue to occur.ReplyDelete
The purpose of this structure is to ensure that HM subjects are managed in a way beneficial to the establishment which in turn breeds a culture of entitlement and unaccountability amongst the ruling classes.
We saw this when the decision to go to war in Iraq was taken,clearly against public opinion and recently in the Labour party where MPs have decided that they can ignore the leader elected by their membership and choose to get rid of him because he represents a threat to their entitlement and authority.
Only when England comes into line with Scotland where the people are sovereign in parliament and run by OUR representatives will we see these medieaval practices and culture cease and perhaps start to see something like an "ethical foreign policy" emerging.
Not in my life time!
I don't expect that ever to happen.Delete
I'm sure not all of them think it, but there is a mentality that seems to say, they are our betters. We should do what they want.
It beats me why they would think that, but ...
Tris, I agree totally with the condemnation of Blair (and Bush), but let's be clear, Hussein was a brutal dictator who killed many thousands of his own countrymen to stay in power and control. He didn't just 'run a tight ship'. Let's not rewrite history.ReplyDelete
And...why is Blair getting all this TV airtime? And McTernan and other Blair apologists. And...I note that Blair is attempting to pass the blame to the intelligence itself, and that "perhaps it should have been further challenged than it was", yet even the Butler Review in 2004 said: 'the government's language left the impression that there was "fuller and firmer intelligence" than was the case.' In other words it was not the flawed intelligence to blame but the government's distortion of the facts. Sickening to see Blair giving Oscar winning performances on TV...I take full responsibility...what the hell does that mean?
And as a brutal dictator let us remember he received full support in his fight against Iran. Where he used chemical weapons against the Iranians.Delete
He went off message. That was his mistake. The west is happy to support dictators as long as they are brutally murdering the west's opponents. Its when they go off message we remember how important human rights are.
Yes, Brain, I'm sure that he was. He gassed the Kurds. He wasn't a nice man. But we didn't turn a hair while he was fighting a proxy war for the West against the Ayatollahs.Delete
My friend was pointing out that, in Iran you could behave like you were in Paris... you could do things that would have you whipped or stoned in Saudi or Iran.
All he said was that if you kept your nose clean it was possible to live a life free of harassment. They couldnt criticise D+Saddam or the government like we can... and the penalties for that were severe.
You can't now criticise the religious authorities!
Saddam was horrible, but there are many who are even more horrible in that region and in others and I didn't notice Blair plotting to get rid of them (as I understand it, illegal under UN rules). And now he works as an image consultant for some of them!
What a joke the man is.
Absolutely SA. We should remember that the West set up Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.Delete
When he won and the Soviets were called back to USSR, Bin Laden was dropped like a stone. And we know what happened to him.
Brian, it is not rewriting history. I have not seen any comment which denies that he was indeed a brutal dictator who killed many thousands of his own countrymen but is killing many thousands more really the most effective way to stop further killing? Clearly it is not. Tris's comments earlier about the differences in Iraq prior to and following the invasion are factually correct and speak for themselves.ReplyDelete
Thanks John - I have no argument now or then with your points.Delete
It seems to me that the question not addressed by the inquiry is who profited as a result of this invasion but one thing we do know is that it certainly was not the unfortunate Iraqi citizens, the citizens of adjoining Middle Eastern countries and, inevitably, history has shown, the citizens of the wider world. Tragically, this ill-advised and ill-conceived invasion has already borne bitter fruit and will continue to do so. The perpetrators of this folly, protected by the establishment, will emerge unscathed.ReplyDelete
I'm not going to add much to that John, because I know that you are a good deal more knowledgeable than I am on the subject.Delete
I'd just ask if you'd agree with some that, had it not been for the disaster that was the Iraq war, ISIS and the crisis in Syria, and the horrific deaths and destruction there would have been unlikely to have occurred.
We need to remember the horror of what has happened in neighbouring countries...Jordan, Lebanon, even Turkey.
I'm inclined to agree that even with the best efforts of politicians like Jeremy Corbyn and Alex Salmond, and heroic fighters like Rose Gentle, people like Straw and Blair will walk away from this.
I can't imagine what kind of people they must be to be able to live with this.
another referendum anyone? question should britian have a written constitution? yes or no?ReplyDelete
I wonder if people aren't getting referendum fatigue, Anon.Delete
No one elsewhere can ever believe that there is no written constitution here and that, actually, they make it all up as they go along, citing the opinion of experts... all of whom are self-appointed experts.
But of course, if you actually HAVE a written constitution the so called experts argue about the interpretation of it...
And you have arguments like the famous one in the USA about the meaning of people being allowed to bear arms... and how it should be interpreted today. After all there is a difference between a musket to save yourself from native Americans trying to take their land back...and an automatic to kill your school mates when they don't invite you to a party!
For my money, though, I'd say, yes to a constitution that is kept up to date in a very swiftly changing world by amendments passed in parliament...
I always thought it strange that the response to being told that a country could bomb us within an hour was to bomb them! Wouldn't that provoke them into unleashing their WMD's? Did anyone raise this in Parliament at the time?ReplyDelete
I always think back to when the reptile was applauded as he left the Commons, I trust tge SNP members (and Corbyn) didn't join in.
Blair perhaps did more than Alex Salmond to turn me from Labour to the SNP.
Yes... the daft thing was that we even warned them in advance that they were going to do it.Delete
And all the time they could have hit the UK in 45 minutes with WMDs...
Anyone who truly believed that would never have given them warning.
Same for me... I thought Tony Blair was going to make Britain liveable after years of the Tories. I thought he was a bit of a hero.