15 April 2006

The Euston Manifesto.

Opposing the Iraq War and opposing Blair's support for the Iraq War are not the same thing -

As Harold Wilson found out, there are economic consequences for disobeying the US. It would have been braver of Blair to stick two fingers up to the US, but probably not in the UK's economic interest and probably therefore not in Labour's electoral interest either.

I never believed Saddam had serious WMD capability. I don't think any politician believed it either (much as they now claim it). The big threat Saddam posed was in PetroDollars. Watch out Iran, N. Korea, Venezuela or anyone else who prices their oil in Euros.

I also never believed that this war was about democracy. The history of US and UK foreign policy doesn't bare this democracy theory out, no matter how much the Euston Manifesto-ers squeal that this is anti-American prejudice. Remember it was the US that overthrew a democratically elected secular government in Iraq and replaced it with Saddam. It is possible to be pro-US people, oppose the Iraq war, support Blair's decision to back Bush and yet still oppose Bush's foreign policy.

Of course the fact that the Iraq war was carried out for nothing more than stealing their oil, doesn't necessarily mean it will be bad for the Iraqi people in the long term. The omens aren't good though, as civil war takes hold. Perhaps the US will be bothered enough to try and buy the 26m Iraqis off with a decent standard of living, quite affordable with the amount of oil profits available (but then again perhaps they won't be bothered now they have got their 23 permanent military bases in Iraq).

My one get out clause for Blair is that his decision gave him leverage in curtailing Bush's worst excesses. British troops initially handled the situation better than US troops and were certainly less tigger happy and the leaked report on how Blair stopped Bush bombing Al-Jazeera is interesting. Perhaps we will never find out the full truth.

18 comments:

  1. Neil...

    Iran and North Korea have something else in common apart from pricing their oil in Euros!

    BTW, I don't see what you've said as being anti-American in the sense that it is meant in the manifesto, just a bit cynical.

    I do think you've latched onto one aspect - it's not all about Iraq. True, there aren't specific domestic policies, but I would have thought the basic principles would appeal.

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  2. Oh cummon Neil, the US knew that Saddam had WMD because, duuhh...they had the receipts from when they sold them to him!!!

    Its old news now of course, but they are still there, buried someplace. My unit could not find them when we went in to inspect, but we knew they were there somewhere! With luck, Saddam's sons lost the key to the vault or took the combination to the grave with them.

    If you didn't know that, then you are being willfully blind or woefully out of the loop.

    If you assume for a moment that Saddam and his psychotic sons didn't have wmd, how long do you think it would have been before they got 'em? Oil revenue coming in, being turned into....food? Clothing? Housing? Weapons? Gee, I dunno...what is his history? Lets ask those Kurds. Oh, we can't, they are all dead. Well, then lets ask the Sunni's. Darn, they are all dead too! Gosh...there must be SOME witnesses left to tell the story of how pleasant and wonderful life was with Odai in charge!

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  3. B4L; There are basic principles in the Euston manifesto that of course no-one should disagree with. You are right, for instance, to highlight the billion people living on less than $1 a day and that the main aim of the left should be to remedy this and to instil the universal declaration of human rights.

    And I do get your main point - that there are people on the left who will defend the lack of democracy in places like Cuba, just because it fits in with their ideology. I was never one of them. I both criticise the US embargo of Cuba and the fact that it is run by a dictatorship (however benign).

    But in criticising the old left's inconsistency you seem to be blind to your own.

    Yes, the US democracy is better than a lot of countries, but can we really say democracy is healthy when turnout is one of the lowest in the world, when in 2000 they refused to finish counting the vote, when in 2004 there was documented intimidation of voters and deliberate disincentives to vote (5 hour queues) or disincentives and disqualification from registering that a brutal dictatorship would be proud of?

    Where the media is overwhelmingly biased and trivialises every issue so that the US public are one of the most ignorant in the world?

    Where political corruption is rife (far worse than the UK), where there is deliberate (and accepted) gerrymandering of boundaries, and finally where invading countries and other interference in a country's democratic processes just to further the US's economic interests has occurred throughout their history?

    Are we just supposed to ignore all this?

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  4. As Harold Wilson found out, there are economic consequences for disobeying the US. It would have been braver of Blair to stick two fingers up to the US, but probably not in the UK's economic interest and probably therefore not in Labour's electoral interest either.

    You appear to be arguing that Wilson should have signed the UK up for the Vietnam war.

    Personally, I will remain eternally thankfull that he didn't and wish Blair had one fraction of Wilson's integrity.

    Wilson didn't have a lot of integrity, but far, far more than Blair ever possessed

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  5. Yes, the US democracy is better than a lot of countries, but can we really say democracy is healthy when turnout is one of the lowest in the world...

    Well, of course I'm not going to defend that. There's democracy as in fairly free, timely elections, and there's democracy as in people not being victimised for their (non-) religious views, sexual orientation, etc. and in not being powerless at the hands of the state/business. So, democracy as an ideal ought to be just what LP-supporters want. The USA and indeed the UK are democracies, but with flaws (gerrymandering, FPP even); Afghanistan/Iraq 'paper' democracies, and yet in each of these cases spreading democracy is what people/parties are able to do - it's the business of politics. There's only so much 'understanding' one can do when one looks at Iran/N. Korea.

    I mean, if the EMG was all about saying that the USA was perfect then we might as well be signed up as Republicans. Problem is that, for the other side, they're not merely imperfect, or incompetent, misguided, or right-wing, they're terrorists: the deliberate use of terror.

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  6. stag: Saddam's chemical capability was severely damaged in the first gulf war. Plus the no fly zone in the south and the constant (unreported) bombings of installations that continued between each war, acting on both Israeli and US intelligence kept any advance at bay.

    We know his capabilities were woeful, why else did he not use them in the war? In terms of missiles, he had a few limited range skuds, but nothing that could threaten the West.

    Like I say, the war was about oil, why else is the US leaving N. Korea well alone (who have nuclear capabilities) and targeting Iran (who are still developing them)?

    Why are Israel, Pakistan and India exempt from serious consequences for their development of nuclear weapons?

    Saying all this, just because the motive was economic doesn't mean that in the long term removing Saddam and (hopefully) restoring democracy to Iraq wasn't a good thing, it might well still prove to be, but let's not pretend the motive was anything other than oil, because it wasn't.

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  7. quaran: "You appear to be arguing that Wilson should have signed the UK up for the Vietnam war."

    Wilson was right not to get involved in Vietnam. But Iraq is not Vietnam (not quite).

    My point was that Wilson's bravery did have negative economic consequences and even Wilson had to publicly back the US over Vietnam (but refused to send troops or personnel). Maybe this was a compromise position Blair could have took.

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  8. B4L: "Problem is that, for the other side, they're not merely imperfect, or incompetent, misguided, or right-wing, they're terrorists: the deliberate use of terror."

    Why is it that when the US state kills people to further its economic aims it is not counted by you as terrorism?

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  9. Even if we accept the economic argument (which I don't), I can see a moral difference between an army fighting another army, during which case civilians are killed through accident or incompetence - and the actions of people who deliberately seek to terrorise civilian populations and injure/kill indiscriminately. Just as I can see the difference between G't'mo and the Gulag system.

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  10. There is a difference, maybe US terrorism is not as bad as the IRA or Al Qaidi but it is still wrong. Both are wrong and we should condemn ALL terrorism.

    How moral is bombing Iraqis for oil? Are you seriously telling me that oil has nothing to do with this war? Why has the US not invaded N.Korea? It is certainly a bigger threat to world peace.

    We all know that 'precision bombing' involves a lot of indiscriminate killing. We should condemn ALL terrorism, even that committed by the US.

    While recognising that the Iraq war 'might' have some good side effects for democracy in the region, we need to be honest that it involved killing a lot of people indiscriminately.

    Think of the technology of the US army against the ragtag Iraqi army, hardly an equal fight. If the estimates of 250,000 Iraqi civilians dying (accident or not), it is not very good is it?

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  11. hi neil, thanks for clarifying that for me.

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  12. Neil, how does that differ with what the manifesto says?

    That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people...

    We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just...

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  13. "Like I say, the war was about oil, why else is the US leaving N. Korea well alone (who have nuclear capabilities)"

    Are you just pretending to be stupid?

    You half answer your own question: North Korea has nukes. It's capable of incinerating ten million innocent people in Seoul (and now Osaka or Tokyo, probably) within minutes of the commencement of hostilities; it also has very serious conventional firepower deployed against the DMZ. It also has powerful friends next door in the PRC (though it's not clear the PRC would fight the US to defend Pyongyang again).

    I can't see why the UK would join in a war if it were for oil. Oil spurts out of the ground in Iraq much more cheaply than it can be pumped out from under the North Sea. Brits wouldn't want any more cheap Iraqi crude going on the market.

    I was going to continue this post but discussing stuff with you really is a waste of time because you're either pretending to be stupid, or are stupid, or are ignorant, or don't give a damn about the feelings of the people you're arguing, or can't be bothered to put any effort into thinking or checking facts or providing references, or are otherwise intellectually lazy, or are monumentally intellectually dishonest, or you're engaged in some weird practical joke, or some combination of the above.

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  14. Anon: you are the one who never provides references and insults other commenters, not me.

    North Korea has maybe 2 or 3 nukes, but they didn't have any 5 years ago. Why didn't the US act then, like they have with Iraq?

    "Brits wouldn't want any more cheap Iraqi crude going on the market."

    They would if they were getting a cut. The UK is no longer self-sufficient in oil and our high grade oil is fine for aircraft but wasteful for automobiles.

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  15. B4L: "Neil, how does that differ with what the manifesto says?"

    It doesn't, but the whole precis of the manifesto is to shut down criticism (whether genuine or not) of US and Israeli policies . And I don't think is consistent with your statement of supporting historical truth and freedom of speech.

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  16. you don't know how to use the word "precis", do you? Pathetic

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  17. Enlighten me. What is wrong with the way I have used it?

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