26 July 2007

Euston Manifesto is a busted flush - pathetic right-wingers dressed in left-wing clothes.

Oliver Kamm is a tiresome read, so too Nick Cohen and others like Norman Geras when they are on their pro-war propaganda missions (I am sure they all secretly vote Tory). But read them I must to counter the nonsense that they come out with. Nonsense that is unfortunately taken seriously by some (even if they are falling by the wayside in diminishing numbers). I really try hard to get past their pretentious, high and mighty 'we have read more books than you' arguments - but it is a painful process (it is not how much you have read, but whether you can understand the issues and sort the wheat from the chaff)...

Anyway, they are all in a fuss about Johann Hari's latest attack on their simple mindedness. It really isn't that difficult to work out what the Iraq war was about - dress it up in pretty language if you like and start with ad-hominen pedantic attacks on a writer's use of grammar to deflect attention from the real issues, but at the end of the day this is pretty simple.

Those who defend US neocons and the invasion of Iraq say it was nothing to do with oil (or if it was to do with oil it was just to prevent a dictator using the revenues to oppress his people).

The neocons they argue, are a decent lot who value democracy and just want to spread its liberating force to places like Iraq. In fact they argue, we have a duty to invade countries to do this.

To keep a straight face and argue this is some accomplishment because I do believe that Nick, Oliver and others are a bit cleverer than that. Which is worse I do not know, those who take this argument seriously or charlatans like Kamm? It is a tough choice.

I do wish they were right about the intentions of Bush et al, but there are obvious problems. Firstly the history of the neocons/ US administration quite pointedly shows that democracy is far from their agenda both internally and definitely in their foreign policy. Democracies have been overthrowed throughout the world (including Iraq and Iran) in the name of shoring up the economic and business prospects of the US led West. In fact looking at their actions you couldn't help but deduce anything other than that they PREFER dictatorships.

To the Eustonites this is mere historical detail and all in the past - the neocons have learned their lesson and are now all sugar and spice. All very plausible I am sure..

But why Iraq and not also Zimbabwe, Sudan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia - all these countries are severely lacking in democracy with brutal regimes oppressing their citizens.

They answer to this, that you have to start somewhere and Iraq seemed a good place to start - it was nothing to do with Iraq's vast reserves of oil being priced in Euros, it was about weapons of mass destruction. Ummm..All very plausible I am sure..
(It didn't take a genius to deduce that the US invasion was planned in a hurry to forestall any imminent weapons inspector's categorical findings on WMD. Also it was plainly obvious that no skud missile could reach anywhere near the West - so 45 mins stuff was pathetic).

Finally they say, the people of Iraq will reap the benefits of democracy with better living standards than under Saddam. Nobody would argue that is currently the situation and I wonder how far off this improvement in standards is when most of the oil profits have just been signed over to Western companies by the Iraqi parliament (against the people's obvious best interests).

I think when it comes to choosing the motives of Bush (the most corrupt US administration since President Harding (no not me!) in the 1920s). Oil or Democracy? - it is pretty clear which was the priority. As it is with all wars - economics lies somewhere in the root cause.

18 comments:

  1. Hang on, didn't that nice Mr Blair tell us all it was a good idea to join in with Mr Bush's war?

    Surely if Mr Blair says it was OK, it can't have been wrong can it? After all, our current PM supported it too.

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  2. He did, but he didn't mean it. He was lying after all. But it was a white lie to protect our national interest. Suez showed what the US can do to our economy when we piss them off.

    Also Blair reckoned 'what difference would it make' if we joined in. Absolutely none is the answer - with or without Blair's decision, the war was gonna happen - and like I have argued before - it gave Blair leverage in other areas like climate change and Africa and also maybe saved a few Iraqi lives from even more trigger happy US troops and saved Al Jazeera from being bombed and possibly reigned Bush in from nuclear wepaons - who knows. History will show Blair right when the truth is known.

    Also the Labour party has a history of sucking US c***, but not quite as hard as the Tories do when they are in office.

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  3. So it made no difference, out or in. Except British troops wouldn't have had to die there. Except he wouldn't have had to lie to us and the house. Except we could have saved the huge amount of cash it cost and has cost. I don't believe we gained any influence - after all, as you say, the US were going to do it anyway, and many Americans I've spoken to don't care if we are invloved or not. We have made ourselves even more unpopular in parts of the Arab world and beyond of course.

    As for the "we are stinking scum with no morals but the Tories are even worse" argument, that's wearing a bit thin with me now. I know the Tories did some despciable things when in power; being only slightly better just ain't good enough - we were promised better than all that I foolishly fell for it.

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  4. I think saving 1000s of Iraqi civilians lives are worth more than 150 British soldiers lives who volunteered willingly knowing they would have to go to war. If you don't agree I think that is racist.

    As for the cost of the war, as I have intimated - the cost of not going to war would have been more. The US people think Blair is the bees knees and we would have suffered economically with the loss of US trade and US goodwill and maybe a run on our currency. It has happened before.

    The difference between Labour and Tory has been significant - how important is the minimum wage, the smoking ban, gay equality, reduced pensioner poverty, etc. etc. It is easy to sneer at all this if you are not affected or not intelligent enough, but it most certainly was worth electing a Labour government for the vast majority of people in this country. I am sorry if that is a boring argument - but it is still an important argument.

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  5. Ha ha - using your line of argument, I'm a thick racist - that's a good one.

    As usual, no answers to the substantive points, but not to worry, I'd probably be too thick to grasp your immensely intellectual reply if you ever did answer a point that was made.

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  6. I agree with you that the Iraq war was wrong.

    I agree that we have made ourselves more of a terrorist target by being involved but..remember there have been attacks in countries who did reject the war.

    The threat of terrorism, loss of a few hundred volunteer British soldiers and financial cost of the war has to be weighed against the loss of billions of pounds of oil contracts, secured oil supplies, removing Saddam, US goodwill and trade/economic benefits and future leverage over US policy.

    These are difficult choices. Blair probably had a lot more information than we might know for a long time. I wouldn't be surprised if in the future his decision is vindicated.

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  7. I wouldn't be surprised if in the future his decision is vindicated.
    I would be very surprised.

    He won't be vindicated by me - not least for lying. I know they all do, but he really had me convinced he was different - more fool me.

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  8. Neil, I don't agree with everything you said in the post but I think your first comment here pretty much nails the reason why Britain went to war.

    John Simpson said pretty much the same in his book.

    Think about what would have happened if Blair hadn't supported the invasion, given that Britain's military and especially its intelligence services are bound up with those of the USA.

    But how much influence Blair was able to have over the other areas you mention, we will probably never know.

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  9. "the history of the neocons/ US administration quite pointedly shows that democracy is far from their agenda both internally and definitely in their foreign policy. Democracies have been overthrowed throughout the world (including Iraq and Iran) in"

    How does the overthrow of the Iranian democratic government in the 1950s, ie predating the existence of the neo-conservative movement, demonstrate anything about the motives of the dreaded neo-cons? By dishonestly bracketing the "neocons / US administration", despite the fact that no neo-con influence existed in any administrations except Reagan and the second Bush you are creating a preposterous strawman.

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  10. "Oliver Kamm is a tiresome read, so too Nick Cohen and others like Norman Geras when they are on their pro-war propaganda missions (I am sure they all secretly vote Tory)"

    Well they have got something in common. I wonder what it could be?

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  11. Have you ever read what the tiresome Oliver Kamm, Nick Cohen and Norman Geras have written on Zimbabwe, Sudan, North Korea and Saudi Arabia?

    I didn't think so.

    In fact have you actually read and understood anything written by the tiresome trio above or the other busted flush Eustonians?

    I didn't think so.

    You should read them. You might discover that knowledge can be a powerful tool in the armoury of political discourse.

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  12. ...and anonymous, you might discover that prejudice and racism never is.

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  13. Steve M: I suggest you read what I put.

    I qualified the tiresome remark with 'when they are on their pro-war propaganda missions'.

    Some of the stuff they write is perfectly good - I just suspect an underlining agenda. I mean even Tories (even the BNP?) claim to be non-racist egalitarians now. Like I don't believe Cameron when he talks of social justice, I don't believe Kamm et al - they lack conviction somehow especially when they link such views to neoconservatism - it all smells rather fishy.

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  14. 'underlying' I meant to put.

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  15. [Also Blair reckoned 'what difference would it make' if we joined in. Absolutely none is the answer - with or without Blair's decision, the war was gonna happen]

    The UK's involvement in the war was critical for Bush, not because the US needed our military power, but because our involvement gave Bush much greater credibility with American voters. He was able to portray the war as an international response and not just a US war. A critical message to give Americans, who are always wary of foreign entanglements. Of course we can't be sure that the war would not have happened had Blair refused to get involved but he certainly made it a damn sight easier for Bush to sell the war internally in the US.

    [Blair leverage in other areas like climate change and Africa and also maybe saved a few Iraqi lives from even more trigger happy US troops and saved Al Jazeera from being bombed and possibly reigned Bush in from nuclear wepaons - who knows]

    Yes, who knows, or cares, when when we already know that Blair is complicit is the deaths of 600,000 Iraqis lost in this war. All the same excuses could have been trotted out to support UK involvement in Vietnam. Fortunately Hardold Wilson was made of sterner stuff than Blair. And let's remember, Wilson made that decision whilst the Cold war going on, when we faced a much greater threat than we do now from islamic terrorism.

    [Also the Labour party has a history of sucking US c***, but not quite as hard as the Tories do when they are in office]

    I often wonder how people who purport to be lefties can remain members of the Labour party after the crime of Iraq. But your remark shows that it's about tribalism, isn't it, not what you think is right and what is wrong. You attack the Tories because they aren't in your gang.

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  16. stephen: "our involvement gave Bush much greater credibility with American voters."

    Maybe it did, but this is the 2004 election you are talking about. The early 2003 US date for the Iraqi invasion had already been set with or without UK involvement.

    "Blair is complicit is the deaths of 600,000 Iraqis lost in this war."

    I believe these lives were going to be lost whatever Blair's decision.

    "it's about tribalism, isn't it, not what you think is right and what is wrong. You attack the Tories because they aren't in your gang."

    No. I am only in the Labour party because it is the 'closest' to what I believe. 'Closest' is the crucial word, I do not agree with many of Labour's policies.

    So what choice does that leave us with, when the choice is only between Labour and Tories in government? For some people (usually the worst people) in the Labour party, it is about tribalism, but not for me.

    This tribalism leads them to oppose proportional representation despite the fact it will mean more social justice, environmental protection, economic growth etc etc. It is these policies which I desire, the party is merely a vehicle to achieve these things, which is why I support PR and I campaign within the Labour party for this aim and failing that to improve their present policies (within the current biased electoral constraints). So no for me, it is not about tribalism at all. It is about making the best choice available. This does not mean it restricts any other single issue campaigning that needs to be done outside of party activity. I would rather people join any major party (and try and change it from within) than join no party at all.

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  17. [Maybe it did, but this is the 2004 election you are talking about]

    I am not talking about any election. In any democratic country it is necessary to have public support when fighting a war. Blair's involvement allowed Bush to build bi-partisan support for the war, as the Americans say.

    [The early 2003 US date for the Iraqi invasion had already been set with or without UK involvement]

    Maybe so but without sufficient domestic support it would not have been possible for Bush to implement those plans.

    [I believe these lives were going to be lost whatever Blair's decision]

    The jury is out on that one. 6 million Jews would still have died in concentration camps and by einstazgruppen had Eichmann declined the role of coordinator of the Final solution. Does that absolve him of guilt?

    [So what choice does that leave us with, when the choice is only between Labour and Tories in government? For some people (usually the worst people) in the Labour party, it is about tribalism, but not for me]

    We have little choice. As an instinctive leftie, I believe that the most effective way I can influence politics is by single issue campaigns and extra-parliamentary action. We now have two parties - Labour and Tory - which appear as two wings of a single monolithic party, that believes in mostly the same things but simply differ on how they should be implemented. Liberal economic policy, job insecurity, gun boat diplomacy and 'tough' law and order rhetoric are now shibboleths of both Labour and Tory parties. Doesn't leave anywhere for the rest of us to go. No wonder voting figures are in freefall. When I turned up at the poll station in 2005 I truly wished I hadn't bothered. What I laughingly call the choices were: Tory, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP. In the end I held my nose and voted Lib Dem as they have a slightly better record with respect to civil rights. What solution do we get from the politicians> Geoff Hoon proposes that not voting be made a criminal offence, like that is going to fix widespread disaffection with the political process. Rather ironic that is should Hoon of all people blaming the British public, for it was he who was behind the 'dodgy dossier' and has done so much to diminsh the public's trust for politicians and the democratic process.

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  18. I agree the Iraq war was wrong but to compare Blair's decision (to support Bush) with Eichman's motivations in supporting the final solution is to go too far. Nazi crimes were so abhorrent that to invoke them in any argument is usually to devalue the discussion. Much as you dislike Blair - I doubt you really think he shared the inhumnity of the Nazis.

    The US public had been persuaded enough by media lies about Saddam's links to 9/11 to back Bush in 2003. In fact Blair persuading Bush to go through the UN was an irritation to Bush's invasion team rather than a help. The troops were already deployed, the opinion polls favourable, and all this was achieved with barely a mention of Tony Blair in the US media of the time. Bush's re-election in 2004 may however have garnered a few extra percentage points from mentioning Tony Blair's support - but this was AFTER the invasion - it wouldn't have prevented it.

    I'm glad you turn up to vote - you do this because;

    a) it doesn't in any way hinder your extra-parliamnetary activities and single issue campaigning - both of which you are correct in assuming are very important.

    b) because you recognise as I do, that there are differences between the parties that affect how we are governed - you think the Lib Dems are best - I think Labour.

    I, like you, think compulsory voting an insult to the electorate. I also think it would not bring about an improvement in our political engagement. Most people are alienated from the voting process rather than just apathetic towards it. I also think that fining people for not voting would result in less people registering to vote (defeating the object) and would also be vindictive to the most alienated, poorer and more vulnerable members of our society. I would prefer incentive voting (paying expenses or discounts on council tax) and proportional representation to improve turnout.

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