Posts Tagged ‘Peace Process’

Nigel Farage Interviews Iraq War Army Officer about Blair’s War Crimes

January 8, 2022

Oh Heaven help me! I’ve just agreed with something arch-Brexiteer, former Kipperfuhrer and founder of the Brexit party, Nigel Farage, has said on right-wing satellite/cable broadcaster GB News. The Fuhrage was criticising the recent award of a knighthood to Tony Blair. Blair has not been forgiven by very many ordinary Brits, both on the right and left, for taking this country into an illegal war and occupation of Iraq. Three quarters of a million people, according to Farage, have now signed a petition against the honour. Farage points out that every prime minister automatically becomes a member of the Order of the Garter with which comes either a knighthood or an earldom. In this video from his show on GB News, posted on the 5th of January, not only does Farage himself criticise its award to Blair, asking if he is a fit and proper person to receive it, but he talks over the phone to one of the veterans who served in the war. This is Colonel Tim Collins, OBE, who led the Royal Irish Regiment.

Farage begins with the news that one of Blair’s former cabinet ministers, Jeff Hoon, is writing a book that claims that Blair’s chief of staff, Tony Powell, burnt a document of legal advice concerning legality of gong to war provided by the Attorney General Lord Geoffrey Goldsmith. The newspapers report that the story came out in 2015, but Farage states that he has never, ever seen it before to his recollection. He states that Blair had the backing of parliament to go to war, and asks Col. Collins if there are really legitimate reasons for refusing him the Order of the Garter. Collins replies by going even further, contradicting the story that it was Blair who was responsible for the peace settlement in Northern Ireland. Not so. According to Collins, it was largely the work of John Major and the Irish government. Blair took over the process, but added celebrity spin, which had the effect of watering the agreement down, hence producing the conditions for the mess Ulster is in now. The colonel then goes on to remind the viewers that Blair took us into the war on the dodgy dossier. We acted as bit-part players, not pulling our weight and giving the coalition good advice. He recalls that the crucial piece of advice he saw when he was a member of Special Forces at their HQ before he joined the RIR was that we needed to retain the Iraqi army to hold Iraq together until a democratic replacement for Saddam Hussein could be found. The disbandment of the Iraqi army unleashed a form of terror that cost many lives, both Iraqi and British. Farage responds by stating that down the centuries British prime ministers in crisis have made both good and bad decisions. This decision was very bad, but should it disqualify Blair from getting the accolade all other prime minsters have received? Collins response to this question is to point out that it’s ironic that the honour is in the gift of the monarch, whom Blair did so much to undermine. He describes how she was used as a prop for Blair, Cherie and New Labour at the millennium celebrations. He now has to come cap in hand to Her Maj and say ‘You are right.’ And Farage fully agrees.

Farage goes on to ask the colonel, as a veteran of the Iraq war, whether he and his colleagues feel bitter about being sold that war on a falsehood. Collins replies that he feels sorry for the people of Iraq, who have been pushed into their unfriendly neighbours, Iran. He believes they will rise again, but it will take a long time. There are thousands of people dead, who didn’t need to die, including our own people. Farage then asks him if he’s saying that Tony Blair shouldn’t get the knighthood. Collins replies that he should got to the Queen and tell her that he cannot accept it, because he is not a fit and proper person to receive it from the monarchy he has done so much to demean.

I think the colonel is rather more concerned about Blair’s undermining of the monarchy as much as, if not more, than British troops being sent into Iraq to fight and lose life and limb, and destroy an entire country on the basis of a lie. Blair did indeed appear to use to Queen as a prop for his own self-promotion during his tenure of 10 Downing Street. He was widely criticised by the right-wing press for his ‘presidential’ party political election film. He’s not the only one, however. Thatcher seemed to being her best on many occasions to upstage Her Maj while at the same time trying to bathe in the monarchy’s reflected glory.

The colonel’s statement about the Northern Ireland peace process being largely the work of Major and the Irish government is subject to doubt, but I can well believe it. Thatcher had begun secret talks with Sinn Fein and the IRA years before, while at the same time showing her massive hypocrisy by loudly denouncing the Labour party as traitors and supporters of terrorism for openly saying that it was precisely what we should do. Going further back to the beginning of the Troubles in the ’70s, Ted Heath had also opened talks with them, only to have them collapse because of the intransigence of the Loyalists.

The colonel also has a good point when he states that they shouldn’t have disbanded the Iraqi army. Bush and Blair had no real idea what to do after they’d won. Bush was taken in by the lies of Ahmed Chalabi, a fantasist who claimed to be the massively popular hero of resistance movement. He would take over the government of the country, and the coalition forces would be met as liberators by a grateful Iraqi people. None of which was true. What is also true is that Iranian influence has expanded into Iraq despite the hostilities of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Iran is a Shia country, and there is a sizable Shia minority in Iraq for whom Iran is, no doubt, a liberator and protector.

What the Colonel and Farage don’t mention is the real, geopolitical and economic reasons we invaded Iraq. The American-Saudi oil companies wanted to get their hands on Iraq’s state oil industry and its reserves, American multinationals wanted to acquire the country’s other state enterprises. And the Neo-Cons had the fantasy of turning the country into some kind of free trade, free market utopia, with disastrous consequences for the country’s economy.

Native Iraqi firms couldn’t compete with the goods dumped on them by foreign countries. Businesses went bankrupt, unemployment soared to 60 per cent. The country’s relatively progressive, secular government and welfare state collapsed. Sectarian violence erupted between Sunni and Shia, complete with death squads under the command of senior coalition officers. Women lost their ability to find careers outside the home. And the mercenaries hired to keep the peace ran prostitution rings, sold drugs and shot ordinary Iraqis for sport.

This is what you’re not being told on the mainstream news. The people reporting it are journalists like former Guardian hack Greg Palast in his book Armed Madhouse and alternative media outlets like Democracy Now! and The Empire Files on TeleSur. And there is plenty of evidence that Blair is a war criminal because of the war.

I’m well aware that some of the great commenters on this blog will object to my giving a platform to Farage and GB News. But I do feel that Farage is actually performing a valid service here questioning a senior army officer and veteran of the war about the issue of Blair’s knighthood. Even if his criticisms come from him as a man of the right.

There has been controversy about the New Years Honours system for a long time because so many have been awarded to very questionable people. Especially as the Tories have used it as a way of rewarding their donors.

But the destruction of an entire nation and the killing and displacement of millions of citizens for a lie made on behalf of further enriching the multinational elite is surely excellent reason for denying any honour to Blair.

Book on Austerity as State Violence

December 21, 2019

The Violence of Austerity, Vickie Cooper and David Whyte, eds. (London: Pluto Press 2017).

Okay, I realise that this isn’t the kind of book most of us would choose to read at Christmas. We’d rather have something a bit more full of seasonal good cheer. I also realise that as it published nearly three years ago in 2017, it’s somewhat dated. But it, and books like it, are needed and still extremely topical now than 14 million people have been duped into electing Old Etonian Tory Boris Johnson.

I found the book in one of the many excellent secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham. I was particularly drawn to it because of its title, and the titles of the chapters it contains. It’s a collection of papers describing the Tories’ attack on the poor, the disabled, the marginalised, the unemployed, homeless and BAME communities, and particularly women of colour, as forms of violence. This isn’t mere hyperbole. The book discusses real instances of violence by the state and its officials, as well as landlords and private corporations and individuals. Mike in his articles on the Tories’ wretched benefits sanctions has argued time and again that this is a form of state violence against the disabled, and that it constitutes genocide through the sheer scale of the deaths it has caused: 130,000 at a conservative estimate. It’s therefore extremely interesting that others attacking and campaigning against austerity share the same view. The blurb for the book runs

Austerity, the government’s response to the aftermath of the financial crisis, continues to devastate contemporary Britain. Thius books brings together campaigners and writers including Danny Dorling, Mary O’Hara and Rizwaan Sabir to show that austerity is a form of systematic violence.

Covering notorious cases of institutional violence, including workfare, fracking and mental health scandals, the book argues that police attacks on the homeless, violent evictions in the rented sector, community violence and cuts to the regulation of the social protection are all being driven by reductions in public sector funding. The result is a shocking exposes of the ways in which austerity policies harm people in Britain.

One of the editors, Vickie Cooper, is a lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology at the Open University, while the other, David Whyte, is professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Liverpool. He is also the editor of How Corrupt Is Britain, another scathing look at the UK under the Tories.

The book’s introduction by the editors is on the violence of austerity. After that it is divided into four sections, each on different aspects of austerity and its maltreatment of the poor.

Part 1, ‘Deadly Welfare’, contains the following chapters

  1. Mental Health and Suicide, by Mary O’Hara
  2. Austerity and Mortality, by Danny Dorling
  3. Welfare Reforms and the Attack on Disabled People, by John Pring
  4. The Violence of Workfare by Jon Burnett and David Whyte
  5. The Multiple Forms of Violence in the Asylum System by Victoria Canning
  6. The Degradation and Humiliation of Young People, by Emma Bond and Simon Hallsworth.

Part II, ‘Poverty Amplification’, has these

7. Child Maltreatment and Child Mortality, by Joanna Mack
8. Hunger and Food Poverty, by Rebecca O’Connell and Laura Hamilton
9. The Deadly Impact of Fuel Poverty, by Ruth London
10. The Violence of the Debtfare State, by David Ellis
11. Women of Colour’s Anti-Austerity Activism, by Akwugo Emejulu and Leah Bassel
12. Dismantling the Irish Peace Process, by Daniel Holder

Part III, ‘State Regulation’, includes

13. Undoing State Protection, by Steve Tombs
14. Health and Safety at the Frontline of Austerity, by Hilda Palmer and David Whyte
15. Environmental Degradation, by Charlotte Burns and Paul Tobin
16. Fracking and State Violence, by Will Jackson, Helen Monk and Joanna Gilmore
17. Domicide, Eviction and Repossession, by Kirsteen Paton and Vickie Cooper
18. Austerity’s Impact on Rough Sleeping and Violence, by Daniel McCulloch.

Part IV, ‘State Control’, has these chapters

19. Legalising the Violence of Austerity, by Robert Knox
20. The Failure to Protect Women in the Criminal Justice System, by Maureen Mansfield and Vickie Cooper
21. Austerity, Violence and Prisons, by Joe Sim
22. Evicting Manchester’s Street Homeless, by Steven Speed
23. Policing Anti-Austerity through the ‘War on Terror’ by Rizwaan Sabir
24. Austerity and the Production of Hate, by Jon Burnett.

These are all subjects that left-wing blogs like Vox Political, Another Angry Voice, Pride’s Purge have all covered and discussed. The last chapter, ‘Austerity and the Production of Hate’, is on a subject that Mike’s discussed several times in Vox Political: the way the Tory press and media justifies the savage attacks on the poor and disabled through stirring up hatred against them. Mike has published several articles on the way Tory propaganda has resulted in vicious attacks on the poor, particularly the homeless.

This violence and campaign of hatred isn’t going to stop after Boris’ victory, and his appeal for healing after the election is just rhetoric. He doesn’t want healing, he wants compliance and complacency. He doesn’t deserve them, and should not be given any, because from now on he and his party will only step up the attacks.

Don’t be taken in by establishment lies. Keep working to get him out!

Farage: NI Peace Process ‘Loathsome’, ‘Surrender to the Wrong ‘Uns’

February 16, 2015

There’s a piece in today’s Guardian on a video that has emerged, dating from c. 2007, in which the Kipperfuhrer gives his opinion on the Northern Ireland peace agreement. He is extremely scathing about it, stating

“That is not what I call a peace process. That is what I call surrender to the wrong ’uns. You know both from the Protestant and the Catholic side and so I am sickened by the whole thing. I am very surprised that Paisley has been prepared to go into government with Sinn Féin, IRA. I really am very surprised by that.”

He especially objected to the release of hundreds of terrorists, pointing out that some had only served 18 months in prison for their crimes.

The report also contains a quote rebutting Farage’s views from the Tory MP, Conor Burns. Burns says that the peace process entailed some compromises that were extremely difficult to stomach, but that they were needed to create the much more peaceful and secure situation that Ulster now enjoys. Burns said:

“But the reality is that a child in today’s Northern Ireland grows up in a place incomparably better than the dark, violent and divided society I was born into. For someone who leads a party aspiring to be a truly national party, not to acknowledge that is bewildering.”

Burns is absolutely right. The compromises that had to be made in the 6 counties to break the cycle of violence were and are highly controversial, and included measures that many would consider to be deeply immoral. But they were needed, if any kind of peace was to be established. However objectionable and unpalatable these decisions were, ultimately the led to the creation of much better, more peaceful and hopefully far more optimistic conditions on that side of the Irish Sea.

Now Farage’s views in the video aren’t that different from many Tories, and are arguably less sectarian. You could and can read almost the same views in the Daily Mail, with the exception that they see the ‘surrender’ less to the men of violence in general, regardless of whether they were Roman Catholic and Protestant, and more explicitly in terms of a capitulation to the IRA. Farage’s views are better than that, but not by very much.

Any truly British political has to find support throughout the UK, which means developing a sensitive approach to the intricacies of the situation in Ulster. Farage claims he has branches across the UK, but his comments about the situation there in 2007 show that he has a dangerously inflexible attitude to Ulster and its problems, that could upset decades of delicate negotiations and plunge Northern Ireland, and the rest of the UK, back into violence and sectarian civil war.

The Guardian’s piece is called Nigel Farage called Northern Ireland peace process ‘utterly loathsome’, and it’s at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/16/nigel-farage-called-northern-ireland-peace-process-utterly-loathsome. It also contains the video. Go and read it and judge for yourself.

Mark Pack: Liam Fox Wants to Stop Indians and Pakistanis from Voting

January 8, 2015

The Lib Dem blogger, Mark Pack, has commented on an article in the Times that the Tories’ Liam Fox wants to pass emergency legislation to remove half a million Indians and Pakistanis from the electoral register. Under current legislation, Irish and Commonwealth citizens, including Indian and Pakstanis, have the right to vote in British elections. The Times’ article states:

Some Conservatives believe that the number of voters from ethnic minorities included in the list will provide a boost to Labour. The previous election showed that Labour was far more successful in winning the votes of those from ethnic minorities…

Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, said: “It is ridiculous that the government of a country like ours could be decided by those who are not British citizens. It is high time we brought this law up to date.”
According to the Times, the move is motivated by Tory fears that the ethnic vote will determine the outcome of one of the closest fought elections in recent years. Pack in his article gives the numbers of Irish, Indian, Australian, Pakistani, and Zimbabweans, who will thus be prevented from voting. The article’s entitled Liam Fox wants to kick half a million Indians and Pakistanis off the electoral register and is at
http://www.markpack.org.uk/113663/liam-fox-wants-kick-half-million-indians-pakistanis-off-electoral-register/.

This is another piece of gerrymandering by the Tories, like the recent changes to the law that will require voters to make a positive effort to get on the electoral register. It also shows what the Tories really think about ethnic minorities, despite Cameron’s much publicised efforts to kick out racism from the party, and end its connection to the Monday Club.

You can find pretty much the same contempt for ethnic minorities and the Irish in newspapers like the Daily Mail and the Express, quite apart from the long list of times when the Sun was prosecuted for publishing racist material. I can remember an article in the Mail years ago, where one of the columnists lamented that we had to let in non-White immigrants into Britain on an equal basis with Whites from the White majority commonwealth countries like Canada and Oz. And under Thatcher, long before the beginning of the peace process in Northern Ireland, they also complained about Irish people in Britain having the same right as Brits to claim unemployment benefits. Now I have to say that I think that a long term foreign resident in a country should have the right to vote in its elections. I also suspect that the current right to vote of the Irish and commonwealth citizens comes from the old imperial belief that everyone born in the British Empire was equally a British citizen, a belief that Churchill in particular held. The Conservatives clearly what to sacrifice that tradition, in order to do their best to cling on to power.

And after they’ve disenfranchised the foreign nationals, I’ve no doubt they’ll try rolling back nearly a century of democracy in Britain. The Financial Times back in the 1990s reviewed one book written by a Tory, that attacked the abandonment of the property qualification for jury service, on the grounds that it had allowed people with no stake in society to sit on juries, who thus were soft on criminals. The same logic could be used to argue for the introduction of the same property requirements for voting in elections. There are doubtless some Tories that would support it. Way back in the 1987 election one of the senior Tories – I think it was Jim Prior – stated that he thought the owners of businesses should have two votes, one for themselves and one where they represented their staff. The Tories have always wanted to give far more electoral power and rights to the rich and powerful, and deny it to the working class and non-Whites.