Tag Archives: iraq

10 Things WikiLeaks Should Tell Us About

I’ve not written anything about WikiLeaks recently because I’ve found the whole circus surrounding Julian Assange rather dizzying. Reading the commentariat on Guardian Cif has hardly helped my feverish state of mind over the last few days and I must admit that I found myself beginning to loathe my fellow man for a moment. That moment has passed, I’m glad to say.

Suffice to say, I do think that Julian Assange should probably answer these charges in Sweden, but I also have the feeling that this is indeed part of an obvious and concerted campaign to ‘get him’. None of this dizziness, however, takes away from the fact that WikiLeaks has been serving up some interesting, if hardly surprising, morsels in the diplomatic cables episode [this blog referenced WikiLeaks a couple of years back regarding the leaked BNP membership list – much more exciting]. Hearing that China isn’t a monolithically stupid country convinced that the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea is a bastion of like-minded souls against the world didn’t take my breath away. Nor did the revelation that Putin’s as corrupt as the Church, or that pressure was brought to bear on Spain regarding the Jose Couso case. Sadly, these are slightly depressing truths that we all kind of knew already, just confirmed in dull, bureaucratic language.

To cheer myself up, I’ve been thinking of some things WikiLeaks could reveal in the future. Here are mine. You can share yours in the comments…

  1. Memos that prove me right about there being little or no evidence of WMDs in Iraq prior to the war, and that Blair misled parliament.
  2. Stuff about the banks and how they’re all bastards. Ideally some memos proving that they laugh at the rest of us for funding their rescue. Because I’m sure they do.
  3. Something about alien life. I’m not a conspiracy nut, but after the important-but-nowhere-near-as-exciting-as-it-might-have-been NASA announcement last week, it would be great to read.
  4. Categorical confirmation that Aznar and the PP intentionally misled the country over 11M.
  5. Anything that makes Dick Cheney look even madder than he already does (like, he picked out crowns for himself and Bush or something).
  6. Clear evidence of corruption in FIFA, UEFA and European leagues.
  7. Anything they have on Dr. David Kelly. I more or less accept the suicide story but the whole case stinks.
  8. Proof that 9/11 ‘truthers’ are led by a 7-foot lizard.
  9. Material covering the huge increase in opium crop since the beginning of the Afghanistan war, which companies are profiting and by how much.
  10. Anything at all to do with Catalan politics. Just so we can see how special they feel.

How about you? What would you like to see revealed by WikiLeaks?

Israel ‘considering’ Gaza invasion?

I’ve been pretty much completely without Internet access for about 12 days and checked the Guardian today to see that Harold Pinter had died and Israel has killed hundreds more civilians in Gaza. The Guardian reports that they may be about to invade the Palestinian territory.

I can’t write much now but I will note that Israel seems to have learned from the US invasion of Iraq:  starve your enemy to death for months or years, all the while attacking them with air strikes and then you get the ground troops in. So much easier that way.

Let’s hope that the hundreds of Palestinians killed in the last 48 hours will go some way to repaying the FIFTEEN dead EVER from the Qassam rocket attacks they are supposed to be preventing.

Oh and don’t forget that the political wing of Hamas is not a proscribed terrorist group in the UK… just a political party.

My dream about George W. Bush

I’m not someone who regularly remembers dreams. On the whole, my only dream memories seem to be packed with Freudian friction and incredibly odd symbolism. Like last night, I dreamt that I pissed on a bush* and then this guy took us to Berry Pomeroy castle (near where I grew up) and they’d built a huge car park in front of it (it was being dismantled)… but the dream didn’t really go anywhere.

A few months back, I had another dream that I woke remembering. I was strolling around a pleasant Mediterranean town (it looked both Catalan and French) when I happened upon a bar with a couple of tables outside. Sat at one of them was George Bush Jr., nursing one of those Spanish brandy glasses with a pitiful measure of rubbish brandy. There were no Secret Service guys around, so I stepped up and immediately recommended Cardinal de Mendoza as a good Spanish brandy.

He was grateful and bought me a glass too, so I sat down and had a chat with him. My main memory of this chat is that Bush was a charming guy, occasionally clipped but mainly talkative. As I smoked a Ducado, I chatted with Bush about Iraq (he admitted he was wrong but that it had happened so there was nothing much to do).

But when we moved on to crime, we disagreed. I said that I thought that America hadn’t dealt with poverty sufficiently under his presidency. He argued that the sort of people I was talking about were mostly criminals. Shortly afterwards, we went our separate ways; I crossed a bridge and saw Bush’s bodyguards come out of the woodwork.

After I woke, I had the dream of Bush, the good ol’ boy, the bon viveur, the OK guy on my mind… and the taste of Cardenal de Mendoza brandy in my mouth. I liked him.

=

* Yeah, I know

Updated: Iraq war killed more than Saddam

A depressing article at The Guardian discusses the death-toll of the Iraq war, in which between 700,000 and 1.5 million people have died. All studies into the human impact of the war except the Iraq Body Count now estimate a death-toll greater than the total killed by Saddam Hussein in 30 years of dictatorship.

There’s your moral intervention.

UPDATE: Bush has given a highly upbeat speech about how it was all worth it, despite “a high cost in lives and treasure” – whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. I mean seriously, fuck. Treasure? What the hell is the man on about?

Will Nick Cohen, who flip-flopped on the war before settling in favour of indiscriminate suffering and death (tough decision so he must have been right… right?) – will Cohen also give a speech to say “Non, je ne regrette rien”…? No doubt it’ll be rammed with ‘thought experiments’ and other nonsense, though hopefully not references to ‘treasure’.

Rajoy – Una grande y libre

Mariano Rajoy rounded-up his vision of Spain at the end of today’s debate by harking back to the days of ‘España – una, grande y libre’ – the catchphrase of the fascist Movimiento Nacional. Coming at the end of a debate marked by several major mistakes on Rajoy’s part as well as continued interruption from Zapatero, the closing comments were particularly interesting. Zapatero spoke of ‘convivancia’ and correcting the mistakes of the past (he also named at least 3 times as many concrete proposals for the next legislature), and he once again finished up with ‘Good night and good luck’. Rajoy also chose to make mention of ‘la niña’, the hypothetical little girl who’s ‘inside [his] head’ – a device he was roundly mocked for using the first time around.

Rajoy said various things which make it difficult for me to call this another draw. His claim that Zapatero ‘Lies constantly and never tells the truth’, along with his accusation that the PSOE had ‘done nothing’ over the last four years were pretty foolish. He also tacitly admitted that public spening would be cut if the PP came to power, and roundly failed to win any points when he economy, Iraq and ETA were mentioned.

Zapatero appeared much more combative and self assured than last time, though he still had trouble filling all the time allotted to him (and continued to interrupt Rajoy constantly). He was right, I feel, to defend his stewardship of the economy, which is doing pretty well.

Though no-one can be certain of the outcome of the forthcoming election, I suspect that Mariano Rajoy’s political career is close to collapse. I’d be very surprised if he survived what is now a likely electoral defeat. More on uncle Mariano this week.

Scratching a bad rash

I’m getting a bit sick of the design and layout arond here. Thinking about a change. Also, the content: more righteous indignation, less paranoid speculation. Or was it the other way around?

Actually, I’ve been reading Nick Cohen’s interesting criticism of the left in today’s Observer. He makes a number of salient points in his dissection of everything that is wrong today with liberal-left politics and its general failure to adapt to the 21st century. I don’t agree with him on everything. But he does remind me why I decided some time ago never to align myself with any political group or party because there are simply none who seem to have the right approach to things. Spain is a classic example: I’m not a Catalan nationalist but I’m sympathetic with those who would like more autonomy for Catalonia. At the same time, I couldn’t support any of the parties who push for greater autonomy here because their memberships and leaders seem to be conniving, divisive pricks to a man. Besides, if greater autonomy means more laws banning me from drinking calimotxo or Xibeca and smoking weed at the beach with my mates, then perhaps it’s not such a hot tip?

The Iraq debacle is another good example (and this is what Nick Cohen is focused on): I’m naturally a Labour man but how can I vote for that party when Tony Blair still insists that it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t. Saddam was an awful, murderous bastard but the hell which has been unleashed on ordinary Iraqis does not justify his removal. Nick Cohen’s main argument seems to be that the left has lost its way because in its opposition to illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, curtailed human rights at home, rendition and Guantanamo, it has failed to condemn the evil which so called ‘neo-conservatives’ are determined to defeat. There’s a lot of ammunition for this argument and those employing it get a very real thrill from expounding the claim that the left wing is stuck in a bygone age when it could rely on being morally superior and nothing more. And it is true that numerous anti-American and anti-Semite worms have crawled out of the woodwork just in time to make us all look bad.

But the problem with Cohen’s position is that all he’s doing is claiming the moral high ground for the neocons. Basically, he seems happy to tell the left that they don’t recognise that the world has changed and things aren’t as clear cut as they once were, while at the same time he’s stating quite firmly that this is a simple case of moral imperative: we had to remove Saddam at any cost. Clearly, he wants to have his cake and eat it.

He continues by drawing attention to the millions of left wingers who demonstrated against ‘the overthrow of a fascist government’. To emphasise his point, he makes trite references to Rome, Madrid and Berlin – as if the residents of cities which had once lived under the shadow of a dictator should somehow ‘know better’. The problem is that opposing the war was never the same as appeasing Saddam. Who cares if he was happy about the protests? The point of the demos was to let our governments know that we weren’t going to be hoodwinked into an illegal war which would end up killing tens of thousands of civilians. And we were absolutley right.

The problem for those who were (and, carazily, still are) in favour of the war is that they really did think they were going to get things over and done with pretty quickly. They didn’t realise that they were going to visit on Iraq a state of murderous destruction not seen since the dark days of Saddam’s purges. Or if they did, they didn’t care.

The point of all this is, I suppose, to say that in the case of Iraq, there is no moral high ground. We on the left had nothing to suggest in the way of alternatives to getting rid of Saddam. We need the oil, the Iraqis need democracy and the world is a better place without that awful man. At the same time, supporters of the war must accept that they have made a colossal mistake in Iraq, causing the deaths of many tens of thousands of civilians, enraging an already volatile muslim community, establishing the dangerous precedent of pre-emptive attack and handing vast strategic power to a much more dangerous country: Iran.

In the end, Nick Cohen’s article is more or less spot on, insofar as it discusses the facts of the dispersal of the left-wing in Britain… (I only wish he’d write another about modern conservatism). While there are aspects of his argument which I find I can’t agree with, he’s correct about two important things: the left wing has lost its way horribly and we have failed to display any reasonable degree of solidarity with the Iraqis: the true victims of all this mess. Think on.

The legality of the war never mattered.

Recent leaks and admissions over exactly what Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General said in his two bits of advice to the PM about war in Iraq has been generated by the Labour party to cloud our memories of why it is we opposed the war.

Legality was never the factor that bothered us. It was the only argument that could have been used to physically prevent our troops going into battle; but the argument against the war was always a moral one. And we were right. Today, Iraq still barely has a government, is under foreign occupation and suffers continual attacks from foreign insurgents. It seems trite to mention all this again, but there were no terrorists in Iraq until the US and the UK let them in. 21,000 civilians have died because of our greed. Half a million children died because of the hopelessly corrupt and inept UN Oil-for-Food programme and the allied air-strikes which went on for 10 years.

So now, Tony Blair says that he is happy to fight the election on trust, but at the same time, he makes the insupportable claim that if 10% of Labour voters stay at home, the Tories will get in “by the back door”.

We can trust Blair on some points: he’s committed to curtailing human rights in the UK; he’s willing to support the phoney wars started by the US; he will intentionally mislead the government and the electorate to pursue policies he believes are right; he cannot be trusted.

Of course, Michael Howard is no better.

So it makes sense to vote for smaller parties. England would benefit from an increase in the number of parties asking for support in the election. The Lib Dems might well still be interested in introducing proportional representation as a replacement for our current system.

Give Labour a bloody nose, but don’t let the Tories back in! Is what I think.