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18 April 2007

Comments

joe90

Tony Blair's tendency to follow his American orders (aka 'Britian's special relationship with the US') is in contrast to other governments who have already withdrawn their military support from Occupied Iraq.

Britian is still in Occupied Iraq, with our people in the military being sacrificed, despite all Tony and New Labour's lies and corruption of democracy being shown for what it is.

I think the illegal intervention in Kosovo by NATO and the US was an important precursor. Despite the fact Tony and NATO's intervention made the situation far worse, and despite the fact there was no genocide (and none has ever been found), the massmedia lies about this sordid episode emboldened him to further military adventurism abroad.
http://www.medialens.org/alerts/04/040331_Kosovo_Iraq.html>Media Lens Alert: Kosovo and Iraq - Same Bombs, Different Lies
31 Mar 2004

Tony Blair did intervene in the illegal Israeli racist attack on Lebanon last summer, when he provided Scottish airport facilities for the transport of cluster munitions from the US to Israel, which were used to ethnically cleanse southern Lebanon in the last hours before the ceasefire.

Tony Blair's government also provided diplomatic support at the UN, in order to block attempts to bring about a ceasefire and peace. At the time, Tony and Margaret Beckett, his Foreign Secretary, were accused of doing nothing and 'sitting on their hands' by the British massmedia as the Israeli air assualt continued unrelentingly. Of course Britian was interevening, but on the side of Israel and the US.

Israel needed enough time to carry out its dirty work against a defenceless Lebanon. Any premature cessation of the one-sided Isreali hostilities would have been a disaster for US plans to attack Syria.

I notice the Oxfam report does take note of the fact the UK intervened to block efforts to help in Rwanda. Although the report does conflate Rwanda with Kosovo, but is careful to add a note of caution in footnote 1, to this obvious error. Kososvo and Rwanada are in no way comparable as humanitarian disasters, except to compare and contrast the disasterous effects of UK policy in both instances.

You are right to add a note of caution about the West and its 'humanitaruan interventions' Osama. Even the UN Security Council now, is being used to provide justifications for attacks by the US and its hanger-ons, rather than being used for what it was designed to do, which was bring about peace
ie defuse potentially confrontational incidents througout the world, and provide a forum for peaceful negotiations bewteen beligerents

All the best!

Ted

Under which circumstances would you take action, Osama, and how would that action manifest itself? In Afghanistan? In Rwanda? Why would either have been our responsibility?

The Oxfam report is offensive. It wants to sit in both camps - pro-intervention and anti-intervention - when it suits. Either you think it's the business of the UK to go around the world sorting out problems, bad regimes, etc. or it isn't. I don't see how you can pick and choose.

Unless there's a direct threat to the UK, I see no reason for our involvement anywhere.

joe90

I meant to leave these references regarding the claims of 'genocide' in Bosnia etc and the way 'humanitarian intervention' has been used by western states as an excuse to further their own perceived interests and agendas -

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=8244>The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre
by
Edward S. Herman
07 July 2005

And also -
http://www.zmag.org/liphermdebate.htm>Edward Herman and Roger Lippman Debate
ZMag.org

Or anything by Edward Herman on the ZMag.org website - Edward is the acknowledged expert in this area, and it is his expertise that has revised all these claims and figures about Bosnian genocides and the like.

An excerpt from Tony's 1999 Chicago Speech -
As we address these problems at this weekend's NATO Summit we may be tempted to think back to the clarity and simplicity of the Cold War. But now we have to establish a new framework.

- translated from Orwellian Blairspeak, into plain language, this statement reads something like -

Now that we can't use the laughable excuse of the threat of 'Soviet aggression and communism' to scare the living daylights out of the voters and taxpaying public, we'll have to fish around for some other excuse to pull the wool over their eyes and stop them thinking rationally about themselves, their community, and what their governments are up to with their money.

joe90

Just a few more thoughts Osama, if I may!

It might seem a bit perplexing now, in the light of the disaters that are Iraq and Afghanstan, as to why Tony Blair seemed so determined to blindly follow the US and attack Iraq. However, you have to ask yourself, what if attacking Iraq had actually turned out to be a 'success' (however you want to measure success)?

Just for instance, the US-NATO attack on Bosnia was a complete disaster but is portrayed, and widely seen, as a great humanitarian success story.

When Baghdad fell to US Coalition forces, symbolised in the toppling of a statue of Saddam, western journalists and news massmedia were in absolute raptures. Their joy, at the succesful application of western violence was unbounded (similar to their reactions of the successful application of Israeli violence agianst uppity Arabs in 1967 - the western love affair with Israeli violence continues to this day).

On the night of the statue being toppled,
Tony Blair, was once again 'Teflon' Tony, and here is Andrew Marr, BBC political correspondent -
http://www.medialens.org/alerts/03/030411_Vindication.html>Media Lens Alert: Vindication - A Statue Falls
11 Apr 2003

"Well, I think this does one thing - it draws a line under what, before the war, had been a period of... well, a faint air of pointlessness, almost, was hanging over Downing Street. There were all these slightly tawdry arguments and scandals. That is now history. Mr Blair is well aware that all his critics out there in the party and beyond aren't going to thank him - because they're only human - for being right when they've been wrong. And he knows that there might be trouble ahead, as I said. But I think this is very, very important for him. It gives him a new freedom and a new self-confidence. He confronted many critics.

"I don't think anybody after this is going to be able to say of Tony Blair that he's somebody who is driven by the drift of public opinion, or focus groups, or opinion polls. He took all of those on. He said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right. And it would be entirely ungracious, even for his critics, not to acknowledge that tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result.

(Marr, BBC 1, News At Ten, April 9, 2003)

Unfortunately for Marr and the BBC, some Iraqi people had other ideas about being attacked, invaded, illegally occupied and having their wealth and resources stolen by western oil companies and the like - or being used as an unsinkable aircraft carrier by the US for the rest of eternity, having no say in their own future or in the running of their own country.

All the best!

ps
Just in from -
http://www.wrmea.com/>Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

- an American based campaign -
http://action.atfl.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=6641&track=signclusterbombpetition_18829886>Stop the Carnage, Ban the Cluster Bomb!
- on the home page is a photo of one of my victims, whose plight is the result of Scottish airports being used to help ship weapons to Israel to use to attack Lebanon last summer.

Osama

Ted, of course you have to pick and choose. Problems arise when you think you can help regardless of whether you are actually in a position to make a positive difference or not. The point I've made it you've got to look at the means available to you and whether it's beneficial. The UK is not Superman.

The point about the UK staying out if something doesn't affect it, is a big difference between you and I. I think one has a moral imperative to help if one is able to do so. In our law we have a concept that if you see someone drowning, and you are able to help, you are in no way culpable if you decide to do nothing. Most people though would think that's morally pretty reprehensible. I don't think it's any different on the international scene.

Joe, you're quite right. I remember sitting with some smug members of the Labour Party during the 2003 elections. Their attitude on Iraq was that "Tony gambled and Tony won". Hmmm. Henry Porter in yesterday Observer laid into the Iraqi resistance as paradoxically the only thing keeping he US and UK in Iraq. The problem with that is that if they weren't in Iraq, God knows where else they'd have been by now.

Ted

What would be your criteria for intervention, though, Osama? The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq could be, and were in some quarters, dressed up as humanitarian interventions on the grounds of 'freeing' people from clearly malicious regimes. The UK, or at least Tony Blair, clearly believed something positive could be achieved. Surely even Blair's biggest critic doesn't think he went in there to intentionally create a mess. Essentially, both Afghanistan and Iraq would meet the criteria as you describe it but, as we know, you didn't approve of either invasion.

Part of the problem is that there are parts of the world where there are never-ending crises and we could, as we've discovered in the past, be bogged down in certain regions for decades. Y'know, if your neighbours are arguing, it's fine to get involved and try to help on the first couple of occasions but every time? At what point do you walk away and say there's nothing more you can do?

Another problem is that it's very difficult to go into a country and amicably solve their problems - as we're discovering. It usually involves lifting a gun and either shooting both sides or taking one side in a particular conflict. There's no agreeable 'Oxfam-approved' version of humanitarian intervention. By all means, we can give aid and some diplomatic support but sending our military in? To do what? Drop food parcels? If all we want of our military is a glorified Salvation Army then we should cut their budget accordingly. Intervention, humanitarian or otherwise, has too many variables, too many things to go wrong, and, to take your analogy further, in trying to save someone from drowing you also might end up drowning.

Osama

Sorry Ted, but Blair's motivations were not to help the Iraqi people. And he was warned beforehand that all he would do is create a mess - this was one of the principle strands of antiwar opposition.

The tests are easy:
- are people asking for help?
- will your help (in whatever form) be effective?

If the answer is no to either, then it's a non-starter.

In many ways this is a philosophical discussion as it just doesn't apply in any sense to Tony Blair. All I'm saying is in principle we should not be averse to intervening abroad when it is appropriate.

Ted

Osama, how are 'the people' meant to ask us? I'm sorry but this seems naive, imo. I remember reading British journalists in late 2002 who assured us that Iraqis were coming up to them in the street begging the UK to intervene. So who do we believe?

The only 'neutral' epistemological conduit in such a scenario would be aid agencies who could report from on the ground. But the very fact they would be reporting with the view to political and possibily military intervention would surely affect their supposed neutrality and 'non-governmental' status.

There's just too many things that can go wrong and too many instances where unfortunately there's nothing you can do. The UN couldn't help in Rwanda, for example, so what could we have done? The principle might be sound but then, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I think a period of 'reflection' in the UK would do us good, tbh.

joe90

Thanks for that Osama!

I can just imagine these machaevellians of New Labour gloating away - as long as it bring success for us, then its ok.

Henry Porter in yesterday Observer laid into the Iraqi resistance as paradoxically the only thing keeping he US and UK in Iraq
- do you notice any resemblence between this awful excuse for the illegal occupation of Iraq, and the excuses used to justify the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel?

They're exactly the same!

ie the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine will continue until Palestinians stop resisting the illegal Israeli occupation!


Unlike Ted, I don't believe in appeasement - I don't believe in sitting on my hands just because Hitler isn't attacking me, just yet.

How does one ignore what happened to Jewish folk in WWII, for instance, just because they didn't have a bona fide organisation to represent their interests and ask for outside help Ted?

Occupied Palestinians are quite clear about what they want, and western governments do nothing to help them achieve justice. All that needs to be done for justice to prevail is for all western countries, but especially the US, to withdraw their support for the current corrupt racist Israeli regime. That's it.

In many cases, it is because western governments deliberately interfere in the affairs of other countries that is the real problem in the world - not a lack of 'intervention', but quite the opposite and for purely selfish western interests and motives, which governments and the massmedia keep well hidden from their populations (by whatever means, for whatever reasons).

In Rwanda, the UK deliberately intervened and blocked attempts by the UN itself, to intervene, and France intervened to sell weapons to Rwandan genocidists.

The only real thing that's missing in the world is an organisation that can and will hold western governments accountable for their appalling record of war crimes and the like. Unlike at the moment, when they can act in the same way as Hitler and get away with it.

Here is the US record of 'interventions' in Latin America alone, up to 2004 -
http://www2.truman.edu/~marc/resources/interventions.html>History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America
(I just happened to be reading something at the moment and there was this link)

all the best!


joe90

At the bottom of the list of US interventions in Latin America, you will will find -

A more expansive list of US attacks and interference in other peoples buisness worldwide -
http://www.neravt.com/left/invade.htm>Let the Bloody Truth Be Told: A Chronology of U.S. Imperialism

And also a good PDF file called -
http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RL30172.pdf>Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2001

Humanitarian interventions aside, of course Iraqis, Afghanis and Palestinians want freedom - freedom from western interference!

Ted

"I don't believe in sitting on my hands just because Hitler isn't attacking me, just yet."

Well, Adolf Hitler died over 60 years ago so I don't think he'll be threatening us anytime soon.

We can't go back, not even for one second, so what happened in WWII is irrelevant to us now. I can only repeat my criteria - unless there's a direct threat to British citizens then it's not our problem.

Joe, how do you balance humanitarian intervention with Western interference and who decides which is which?

joe90

Come on Ted,
this is getting embarrassing.

A country doesn't decide its foreign policy based on personalities, such as Hitlers - it is an amoral agent which bases its decisions and actions on where it considers its own interests to lie.

Also,
experience is everything. Its what divides animals from humans - humans have a memory, and also a conscience which uses thoses memories and experiences to decide on 'correct' behaviour.

To say stuff in the past doesn't matter is infantile and at the level of animal intelligence, which is my point really - this is a definitive characteristic of totalitarian regimes who efface the past for their own interests, and its populations never learn any lessons. We in the UK are becoming like a Hitlerite totalitarian regime with each passing day. Your arguments are proof of that.

However, we are a democracy - we remember, we learn, we grow and we mature.

Hence, based on memory and experiences, the past can be used to predict the future and government policies adjusted accordingly. Indeed, there is no other way.

Based on your criteria Ted, I've absolutely no idea how someone like yourself, caught up and trapped in the transient world of appearances and passing sense impressions, can possibly decide what is real and what is false, what is true and what isn't. How do you recognise a threat, if you've no experience of what a threat is, especially in the complexity of international relations?


Joe, how do you balance humanitarian intervention with Western interference and who decides which is which?

- well the most immediate answer is for the British government not to follow US orders but to act independently. For instance, is the UK going to stay behind in Iraq if the US pulls out, as the US Congress is now insisting?

These matters are easy to decide because the UN and the Fourth Geneva Conventions were all set up and agreed upon after the experiences of Hitler and WWII. That's what they're there for.

Who spoke for Hitler's victims in WWII Ted? - but I forgot, that's unimportant history to the likes of you Ted, you don't care a fig for Hitler's victims much like these assorted holocaust deniers, unlike some of us.

Ted

Joe, you're correct that simply dismissing the past is infantile and we can learn much from it. However, it can only go so far and, frankly, the ghost of Hitler has been used to terrify the British people for the last 60 years and I've grown tired of it. This isn't 1939 and Hitler isn't on the horizon so our reading of the past only takes us so far before we need to think for ourselves in the present.

As a hobby, I like to collect old British political magazines and it's interesting how many of the arguments of 40 or 50 years ago - immigrants in London, trouble with Israel - are still alive today. One such magazine I recently purchased was published in 1958 and had a commentator writing that Nasser was 'like Hitler'. He wasn't. But should we have went in to remove him? This commentator thought so and, who knows, perhaps he genuinely believed it. But there has been no let-up in the procession of Hitlers so it's a redundant analogy, as far as I'm concerned, as we're no longer fighting the same wars. It's mentally unhealthy to imagine that we're constantly on the verge of another world war - a healthy by-product of reading old politics is that so many of the doom-laden predictions of yore have failed to come to pass.

A direct threat to British citizens is not as difficult as you make it appear. The Argentine invasion of the Falklands is a good example of a justified use of military force against a hostile invader. As far as I'm concerned, the only alternative to waiting for your enemies to make their move is to try and pre-empt them but, as history will tell you, that usually ends up with horrible consequences. It's not for me, thanks.

joe90

As far as I'm concerned, the only alternative to waiting for your enemies to make their move is to try and pre-empt them ...
- so what is it Ted, you are either for or against intervention abroad?

How will you know if the British government is breaking international law, if it is telling lies to British voters and British taxpayers?

How will you know if Blair is committing the same crimes as Hitler, if Blair is deliberately comparing the likes of Saddam to Hitler in order to brainwash the British public into supporting 'unprovoked aggression' and murdering 1 million Iraqis (to date) abroad and calling it 'pre-emptive' intervention?

How do you isolate British interests from the rest of the outside world given that 95% of stuff in British shops is foreign and imported?

How do you stop the British government supporting juntas and dictatorships, such as the Argentine Generals and also Saddam Hussein, who then turned round and attack British interests?

How do you stop the British government making the world a more dangerous place for British people to live in (and others), when it carries out attacks on the likes of Iraq knowing full well that British citizens are going to be targeted in retaliation ?

What about Tony Blair's atrocities against Lebanese, Palestinian, Afghani and Iraqi People - in whose interests are these (non-)interventions?

Demonsing foreigners by comparing them to Hitler isn't my point at all Ted - my point is about history, how we got here and why, and not about your collecting habits.

Again,
you are using your usual 'ostrich with its head in the sand' tactic - perhaps if you can make history go away, or just dismiss it out of hand then it won't matter.

If you don't understand the consequences of WWII on world history, then the contemporary world won't mean much to you Ted.

The UN was born out of exeperiences of WWII - so were the 4th Geneva Conventions
- so was NATO
- so was US imperial hegemony
- Britian and France lost their empires to the US, Britian was made a very lesser US puppet with the French losing everything
- so was French unilateralism, which cropped in the UN recently in the illegal US-UK invasion of Iraq
- so was the 'Cold War'
- so was the Warsaw Pact
- so was the 'Israeli-Palestinian' crisis
etc etc

Western 'isolationsim' doesn't exist and never has - western powers have always intervened in other peoples countries and other peoples affairs, whether invited or not.

For instance,
the UK is on the UN Security Council - if it doesn't want to be there then I'm sure there are others states who wouldn't mind filling its empty seat.

Only when things start to go wrong abraod do British nationalist jingoists like you ted want nothing to do with foreigners. The clamour before the invasion of Iraq, and the the demolition of some obscure statue in Baghdad had you 'Tommy Atkin' types swooning in raptures.

Ted

"Only when things start to go wrong abraod do British nationalist jingoists like you ted want nothing to do with foreigners. The clamour before the invasion of Iraq, and the the demolition of some obscure statue in Baghdad had you 'Tommy Atkin' types swooning in raptures."

You've never met me so don't claim to know what I think or when I decided to think it.

It's perfectly possible to trade with other countries without involving yourself in their internal affairs. One is not the inevitable consequence of the other. Other countries seem to manage it. And what went on in the past *is irrelevant* if I'm saying that the UK policy should be one of non-intervention unless subject to a direct military threat *now*. I fail to see how it can be made any clearer.

You clearly support military and political intervention by the UK in other countries. I do not. We agree to disagree.

joe90

And what went on in the past *is irrelevant* if I'm saying that the UK policy should be one of non-intervention unless subject to a direct military threat *now*.
- yes, this is called appeasement Ted, as I said before.

Britian supplied the Argentine Junta and the Hitler on the Euphrates with weapons which they subsequently used against British interests Ted - so that still leaves your appeasement policy with a big question mark, which foreign governments to support and which not?

Also,
how do you know when a threat is real - Tony Blair could just be making it all up, as he did recently with Iraqi WMD ?

It's perfectly possible to trade with other countries without involving yourself in their internal affairs
- so why does HMG support so many corrupt regimes around the world and prevent people from having a say in their own internal affairs (ie Occupied Palestine, nearly every Arab dictatorship you can shake a stick at etc), surely this is about material benefits to British interests, rather than about altruism and morality which is what HMG always claim they are doing abroad, and is interference?

joe90

Here are the recommendations of the Oxfam report which Ted finds 'offensive' -

Oxfam suggests five such principles:

1. actively working to protect civilians – implementing the UK’s ‘responsibility to protect’ – as a cornerstone of British foreign policy;

2. consistently challenging abuses of humanitarian law and human rights;

3. delivering, through a coherent cross-government approach, a range of other policies that could help to protect civilians — pressing on until good ideas, like the Arms Trade Treaty, actually result in fewer people being killed;

4. to make all of this effective: meeting the challenges of the changing world: facing new threats and finding new approaches to influence the world’s emerging powers to help protect civilians; and

5. strengthening multilateral institutions to protect civilians, in particular reducing the UN’s polarisation, and increasing its effectiveness to take appropriate action.

The only other person I can think of who would find these recommendations 'offensive' would be Hitler
ie
- abide by the international laws and treaties that already exist
- settle any disputes via international arbitration and peaceful diplomacy, not unilateral 'unprovoked aggression' and resorting to military means on flimsy pretexts

Indeed, if these are Oxfam's recommended guiding principles the UK government should use to help it form a decent foreign policy - then it actually amounts to a criticims that the UK has been acting like Hitler. These are principles which the UK should be using already without deviation and means that HMG hasn't learnt the lessons of history regarding 'appeasement'. In this case, it is Britian who is in the role of Hitler, unfortunately.

As Osama has already pointed out, there are frightening parallels between Britian today and how things were in inter-war Europe.


Also Ted criticises Oxfam's report thus -
It wants to sit in both camps - pro-intervention and anti-intervention - when it suits.

Well, this isn't an actual criticism - it is merely an observation, true but trivial. This is what a foreign policy is supposed to address - when it is and isn't appropriate for HMG to intervene abroad. Even Ted's own preferred policy of 'appeasement' can be criticised for this supposed failing.


Regarding Ted's own favoured UK foreign policy alternative,
that the UK should only intervene when attacked, or on the eve of being attacked (although Ted doesn't make any distinction here). This policy (for want of a better description) allows any potential hostile forces to act with complete freedom, building up its potential for destruction against the UK, until such times as it would be able to overwhelm anything Britian (whose foreign policy would blithely take no acount of the international situation) could use in its own defence.
This is just one weakness in Ted's prefered foreign policy - there are many more. It is a ludicrous idea when you consider its implications in reality in an international context.


Because Britian has to rely overwhelming on imports,
this is often cited as a reason for the need for such a large military, as the UK has, and for the British military's current configuration, which is built for rapid response to 'crisis' and interventions abroad - sorry I don't have any sources to hand to cite this argumnent, such as you'd find in -
The Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World
by Mark Curtis (2003)

The British military is way to big for carrying out the simple self-defence duties of protecting Britian's land mass and territorial waters.

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