Thursday, November 17, 2005

Truthfulness and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Amongst the to and fro about the war in Iraq, I read this morning about Dick Cheney's condemnation of those who would complain that the governments of the USA and the UK were deceptive in the way they led us into war. Many excerpts from the Vice President's speech can be found here. By now, the Republican leadership is on the defensive, in a predictably offesive fashion. It's worth noting that everything I read in the transcript of the Vice President's speech is arguably true - but whenever a politician follows a statement with a phrase like "those are the facts", the people should probably be extremely sceptical.

What has happened (Dom's personal expert analysis, don't confuse this with "facts", folks) is that the past two years have seen a shambles in Iraq, more and more reports of deception and twisting of public opinion in the run up to the war, the scandal of Abu Graib, the Katrina disaster, clearer and clearer signs of China's rise (this will be about China's 6th rise - the main thing China can teach the US is the virtue of staying power), as the US spends its way into the honourable club of once-great empires, and the slow but perceptible fading of September 11th 2001 into the perspective of history.

Back in 2001 and 2002, the Republican leadership successfully whipped public opinion into war frenzy, with the traditional goads of indignation and fear - get the people angry and frightened, and war becomes the only patriotic decision. I clearly remember the run up to the Iraq war. As war became more inevitable, the question wasn't "will it happen", but "will you stand with the majority?" At the time, Maryl and I didn't. We, and thousands of other people in America, joined hundreds of protests, stating as firmly as we could that we were being misled, that we were being foolish, that in spite of September 11th 2001, going to war in Iraq was not just wrong, it was stupid. Even from close friends and family, we faced shocked questions like "Surely you're supporting the troops?" To which we always said "Yes, we are. Are you supporting them by sending them off to the wrong war for a made up reason?" Oh, how marginalized we were. Had we been Democrat Senators, our political acumen would doubtless have warned us off such foolish idealism in the face of public opinion.

Now, some of the Democrat Senators are finally coming out and saying "we were wrong to go to war, and the administration was wrong to lead us into war". Thanks for speaking out, guys. Now that Bush's approval rating is about one third of the Amrican people (and lord knows what on a worldwide scale), those brave Democrats are coming out and saying that the whole thing was wrong.

So the Republican leadership was decisive but evil and stupid. The Democrats were either wrong, or if they were right, they were too spineless to say so, and now they're trying to capitalize on the fact that public opinion was swayed. And, I've said it before and I'll say it again ... the do-gooder peacniks, the liberal academics, the soft-hearted fools who took the time to read histories of the middle east and the history of previous "wars on terror" ... well, they were right all along.

No WMD, 2000 US soldiers and uncounted Iraqi civilians dead, no sign of the Al Qaeda leaders, the moral high-ground of Western Democracy in tatters, habeus corpus suspended (so long as the administration promises not to torture people).

What are the finest aspects of Western Civilization? What are we going to do to preserve and enhance them? Who will lead us?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Three Years in Guantanamo for the Crime of International Satire

As ever, when I haven't written a weblog article for months, it's not because there isn't much going on, but because there's so much going on at home and in the world that I really should be making more time to write. Hopefully there will be some catch-up postings soon. However, my immediate reason for scribbling a quick article today is because my cousin Andrew (who is from Trinidad and has lived in Barbados, the UK, and is now in Canada) drew our family's attention to the following article:,0,1261
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The article asserts that two writers from Afghanistan were incarcerated in the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison for three years, because they were handed over to the US military with the accusation that they had publicly encouraged the assassination of President Bill Clinton. If you read the article you'll find that Pat Robertson's incitement to crime against Venezuela were much more serious, but he's American, Christian, white and rich, so of course he got off with a round of mild public rebuke.

Just a couple of days later, the UK Parliament voted down the Blair Government's plans to increase to 90 days the time for which police can hold terrorists without charging them with any crime. Even though this would still have been a mere snip compared with the astonishing "3 years and counting indefinitely" which the United States has chosen over the ancient writ of Habeus Corpus, that is no standard for any self-respecting country that claims to hold freedom dear. I am delighted that our representatives in parliament are standing up for the ancient rights that made our culture worth defending in the first place (and that the MPs for Halifax and Newcastle were among the Labour "rebels" involved in this defence).

Anyway, my main reason for putting this brief posting together was so that my family could hopefully add some of their insights as comments. Some of the discussions over e-mail (from the USA, Canada, the West Indies and the UK) have been very thought provoking, and I hope that some of them will appear here in due course!