Wednesday, July 21, 2010

 

Eliza Does for Tony's Reputation

Perhaps the last nail has been hammered into the coffin of Tony Blair's reputation by Baroness Manningham Buller, the former head of MI5 in her evidence to Chilcot yesterday.. I've read loads of accounts of the lead up to the Iraq war in March 2003- most recently Rawnsley's End of the Party, Meyer's DC Confidential, Seldon's two volume biography of Blair, and Mandeslon's recent controversial volume. In all of them Blair comes over as naive, credulous and so dazzled by the power wielded by George Bush that he failed to check him in even the slightest way.

Bush asked Blair more than once if he wanted to pull out as the USA felt able to do it alone if rquired- Blair insisted on each occasion that he-or rather British troops- would be at Bush's shoulder. Several authors who have questioned the leading players judge that Blair's influence was virtually neglibible and that on no occasion did he speak up to check US plans even when he felt strongly or had some genuine leverage. Finally, he was so supine that he even withheld any criticism of Israel's merciless assult on Gaza in 2008-9, for fear of offending the pro Israel Americans. A shameful record which I thought could not really be sullied further.

But the redountable Eliza Manningham Buller, looking couriously like Theresa May in the above picture, has added to the indictment by her evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry yesterday. I cannot do any better than to quote her own crystal clear words:

"We regarded the direct threat from Iraq as low"


"Arguably we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad"


"Substantially" – when asked to what extent the conflict in Iraq exacerbated the overall threat facing Britain's security from international terrorism


"Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people – not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam"


"It is fair to say that we did not foresee the degree to which British citizens would become involved …"


"Very few would argue that the intelligence was substantial enough to make that decision [go to war]"

All this to deter him and yet Blair still was impelled to go ahead. I can only think that he was desperate to utilise the great power of the USA to fulfill his own high minded vision of how the world could be. To protect this strategy he decided not to deviate one jot from a 'prostration strategy' towards George Bush. And its results? A political, military, moral and humnanitarian disaster with which hnis name will be irrevocably linked.

Comments:
What a pity that the redoubtable woman didn't, metaphorically speaking, have the bollocks to give up her cushy job and resign!
 
Bob
I agree with that view too. Elizabeth Wilmhurst, the legal dept lady from the Foreign Office resigned and retained some honour but so many disagreed but stayed in post.
 
What a pity that the redoubtable Bob Piper hasn't got the bollocks to resign from the party that took us to war in the first place.
 
Blair was a showpony, who knew as little about international relations as he did about economics. Throughout his whole time as leader, he just stood around smiling providing cover for other peoples' agendas, G Brown, Campbell, his wife, Bush etc.

That said, I don't think the head of MI5's opinion on the geopolitical ramifications of invading Iraq are more worthwhile than a bloke down the pub. She was an expert on intelligence gathering, not on what to do with it. All wars upset your enemy. That's the whole point of them. They are arguably no more anti-American than they were before; Bin Laden, Armadinnerjacket and Saddam were hardly moderates and threatening to do much worse than 9/11.

The counter argument is that the reality of power outweighs opinions. An Iraq and Saudi Arabia that are now more stable and securely pro-western is a great success for Bush's strategy, loathed as he is.
 
Have you ever thought that maybe Blair didn't criticise Israel's assault on Gaza (in which Israel, far from being "merciless", was in fact more merciful than any force in any battle I have ever heard of, and I have studied a little military history) because there was nothing to criticise? After all Israel's attack was fully justified by any criteria you could name, they fought an enemy that continuously broke the rules and customs of war as laid down in the Geneva Conventions but did so under the most restrictive rules of engagement I have ever heard of, with great care not to break such rules themselves. This put their own soldiers in greater danger but helped save civilian lives, the very lives their enemies (who supposedly represent those civilians) deliberately and illegally tried to endanger.

So why would Blair criticise Israel, just to go along with the ignorant lefties who give the true villains, Hamas, a pass while haranguing the victims for defending themselves?
 
Anon
Seems rich for you to upbraid Bob for lack of courage when you don't have enough to leave your real name.
 
Anon or not, he makes an excellent point.
 
Strange how Micky Oakshott assumes Anon is a man, but there you go. Anon makes a point, but it isn't even good, never mind excellent.

It would be nice to think the resignation of a provincial councillor would have had any influence at all on Blair's decision to follow his US masters in to war, but sadly, it isn't the case. On the other hand, if the Head of MI5 had resigned expressing the view that Saddam presented a minimal threat to Britain, which could be easily containable, it could have had a considerable impact. It may even have swung enough additional Labour MPs to vote against the war (and who knows, perhaps even a few Tories may have abstained) and prevent Blair getting his Commons majority for the invasion.
 
It's not about preventing the war. It is about showing you have principles(or not as the case may be).
 
Richard, Richard
I can't believe you believe what you've written. If the Israelis were so enormously kind on their invasion of Gaza how come 1370 Palestinans were killed to only 13 Israelis?
 
I think the key point here is one of capability. It could have been a lot more. The truth is that only 13 Israelis were killed because that is the greatest number of Israelis who could have died, given Palestinian military limitations. Hamas murdered any Israeli civilian their rather feeble capability could reach. Does anyone seriously believe that, given Israeli military power(thnakfully funded by the US), that they couldn't have killed a whole lot more than 1370 if they had really taken the gloves off?

Kind is the wrong word, but then why would you show kindness to a people who show no desire to live in peace? No reasonable person could really blame Israel if they decided to kick the shit out of Hamas(and whatever people say about Israel, they haven't really done that yet).
 
Michael
I often get the feeling with you that we live on different moral planets. They were relatively restrained? They could have kicked the shit out of Hamas? So the Germans could have put the whole of France and occupied countries to the sword- does that justify or morally miniimize what they actually did?

Israel is surrounded by arab countries and Jewish people have been persecuted appallingly for centuries but when a powerful little country like Israel now is dispossesses citizens of another country- the Palestinians- and forces them out of their homes, this adds up to persecution in its own terms. To me that is what is now what worthy of condemnation. That peo9ple like Tony Blair and ytour good self fail to recognise these thjings is a source of surprise if not amazement to me.
 
The idiot Oakshott wrote: It's not about preventing the war. It is about showing you have principles(or not as the case may be).

Which, of course, is complete nonsense, and written by someone who simply doesn't get it. If I, and every Labour member opposed to the war had stood down "on principle" we would either have seen the election of Labour candidates who supported the war... or the hated 'shock and awe' Tories who, errrm, supported the war.

Please explain what 'principle' would have been advanced one iota?
 
We obviously won't agree. Your comparison with WWII is too laughable for serious debate.

The point Richard makes is one of precision. You claimed Israel's actions in Gaza were "merciless", and that Blair's failure to concur publicly with your opinions indicated weakness in relation to the Americans, rather than a genuinely held belief that Israel might be acting reasonably.

The anti-Israel lobby would serve their cause better if they tried to understand that support for Israel is prompted by rather more than the influence of some "Jewish lobby"(a modern incarnation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion). Some people just rather respect a little state that defends its right to exist in peace, in the face of a collection of countries and terrorist organisations who deny it and seek its destruction. You are both wrong and arrogant for assuming that your opponents disagree with your opinion because of some malign influence or weakness.

As already established, Israel COULD have caused much more damage to the Hamas terrorist band. Only their restraint(a more than generous regard for the lives of Palestinian civilians) prevented this. Thus restraint was shown.

So Israel was restrained and pro-Israel voices are principled(even if you disagree with them).
 
Now Michael
To equate any criticism of Israel with the toxic Tsarist anti-semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as you seem to imply Bob as doing, is too absurd for words.
 
Skipper
If you read my words, you will see that I was careful to say "the anti-Israel lobby", and did not implicate the clueless Bob. Many anti-Israel voices know exactly what they are doing when they imply that the US and the UK do not have independent foreign policies, and are in grip of some Jewish clique that control the media, finance and politics of the west. It is tired old drum that has been beaten for centuries. Hence the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The point I made was that you may disagree with Blair's take on the Middle East(I didn't), but you are wrong to believe that he only took these positions out of weakness or pressure. Many people see Israel's view, and a failure to understand will result in a lack of progress on this issue.

As for Bob. Perhaps you could have resigned, and given your electorate a chance to endorse your view? I think Unionist politicians did it in 1985 with the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It's called making a stand on principle. I wouldn't expect you to get it. I doubt you would ever support Britain in any conflict in any case, and am grateful your sort have never been in government in this country(and never will be). PS Enjoy the cuts(prick).
 
Michael
One of my adult students used to say to me that she voted Tory because they were the 'polite' party. Now I may be a bit old fashioned but calling someone like Bob a 'prick' I regard as out of order and give notice I won't be able to publish any such comment in future.
 
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