Skip to main content

Boiled Frog

Over the past few months it has become conventional wisdom that Iraq is of diminishing importance in the political world viewed from Westminster. Yet I notice that Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP has been receiving more than usual coverage in his protests.

Since George W. Bush declared on the deck of an Aircraft carrier that as far as the United States was concerned Iraq was "Mission accomplished", we have learned a great deal about Iraq and about the United States.

We have learned that Saddam Hussein had rendered his "weapons of mass destruction" unusable, so that the ostensible case for the war was entirely wrong. We have learned that there was considerable scepticism amongst British and American intelligence experts that Saddam indeed had such weapons at the time that war was launched, but that such doubts were edited out in order to support a political case for military action. In other words that the supporting documentation had in fact been "sexed up". We have learned that American and probably British troops were engaged in illegal torture and ill treatment of prisoners. We have learned that fuel-air weapons have been used with scant regard for innocent victims. We have learned that the United States did not have an effective plan to stabilize the political or security position in post war Iraq. We have learned that in this security vacuum that Al-Qaida affiliates have been able to unleash significant violence against Coalition troops and Iraqi civilians. We have also learned that the Bush administration has little more than platitudes to deploy in its self declared "War on Terror". We have learned that the American people are increasingly unhappy about the deployment of their soldiers in Iraq.

The Neo-Con vision for the United States as an active force to promote American values lies twitching in the dust of Mesopotamia. The First Ally- Mr. Blair- sees his own reputation fading. The price of failure on the Tigris is now so high that it threatens the entire economic security of the capitalist system. The mistakes that have been made have been made step by step. The result is governments have mislead their own people, and indeed taken freedoms away from their own people. They have broken international laws on the inception and conduct of war, they have committed criminal acts such as torture and the use of illegal weapons. With the use of white phosphorus now confirmed, we know that the only people who possessed and used illegal weapons in this conflict were... Us.

The charge sheet is now long, and if it had been read before we started, then the proposing governments would have been out of office immediately. Our sensibilities may be blunted, as those of the frog who would jump from boiling water but not from water that slowly heats to boil famously are. Nevertheless, Sir Menzies is right: a government that will not obey international law can not be trusted to obey constitutional limits on its own power- that way tyranny lies.

Cicero knows that war is a good way to usurp political power- as Julius Caesar did in his time in Ancient Rome. Blair may be no Caesar, but neither is he Cincinnatus who quietly returned to his fields when his time in political life was complete. The spinelessness of the Conservatives over Iraq is a scandal- they raised more heat over hunting that over Iraq. So the noble Phillipic that the Liberal Democrats continue to raise gives Cicero hope in the face of profound anger.

Iraq will not go away as an issue- and the questions that it raises are still fundamental to the morality and constitutionality of our political system.


Popular posts from this blog

Concert and Blues

Tallinn is full tonight... Big concerts on at the Song field The Weeknd and Bonnie Tyler (!). The place is buzzing and some sixty thousand concert goers have booked every bed for thirty miles around Tallinn. It should be a busy high summer, but it isn´t. Tourism is down sharply overall. Only 70 cruise ships calling this season, versus over 300 before Ukraine. Since no one goes to St Pete, demand has fallen, and of course people think that Estonia is not safe. We are tired. The economy is still under big pressure, and the fall of tourism is a significant part of that. The credit rating for Estonia has been downgraded as the government struggles with spending. The summer has been a little gloomy, and soon the long and slow autumn will drift into the dark of the year. Yesterday I met with more refugees: the usual horrible stories, the usual tears. I try to make myself immune, but I can´t. These people are wounded in spirit, carrying their grief in a terrible cradling. I try to project hop

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo

KamiKwasi brings an end to the illusion of Tory economic competence

After a long time, Politics seems to be getting interesting again, so I thought it might be time to restart my blog. With regard to this weeks mini budget, as with all budgets, there are two aspects: the economic and the political. The economic rationale for this package is questionable at best. The problems of the UK economy are structural. Productivity and investment are weak, infrastructure is under-invested and decaying. Small businesses are going to the wall and despite entrepreneurship being relatively strong in Britain, self-employment is increasingly unattractive. Red tape since Brexit has led to a significant fall in exports and the damage has been disproportionately on small businesses. Literally none of these problems are being addressed by this package. Even if the package were to stimulate some kind of short term consumption-led growth boom, this is unlikely to be sustainable, not least because what is being added on the fiscal side will be need to be offset, to a great de