Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The war is still with us

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  • Russell Brown,

    PS: I’ve copy-pasted the quoted passages straight out of the original posts, hyperlinks and all, and many of those links are now dead. I guess there’s a lesson there about the nature of internet permanence. Everything is somewhere, but it might not be where you left it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • izogi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The WayBack machine helps though, for anyone keen on chasing the links.

    eg. The NYSE banning Al Jazeera.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,

    And you're surprised that the thinking, progressive people that form the members and supporters of the UK Labour party don't want to elect another Blairite leader?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    And you're surprised that the thinking, progressive people that form the members and supporters of the UK Labour party don't want to elect another Blairite leader?

    To think I had respect for Tony Blair once. But now, the Chilcot Inquiry has reinforced him as a man of his times. And it seems the inquiry is also the knockout blow for UK Labour's Blairite holdouts trying to back-stab Corbyn...


    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I'm interested in Blair's motivation though; was it:

    - a genuine belief that islamist terrorism was a serious threat to the integrity of British society and the only way to deal with that was to forcibly impose a friendly, liberal government in all muslim-majority states?

    - belligerent liberalism: a belief that western states had the right and duty to impose 'good government' on 'lesser breeds without the law'?

    - a belief that Britain's interests were inextricably entwined with the US and could only be served by following in lockstep with whatever the US decided?

    - a desire for economic gain from imposing governments that would trade with the US/UK on favourable terms?

    - or that he was just a CIA agent doing his job (or his wife was)?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • bob daktari, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    or a look at me I'm important and powerful and how cool is that, war rocks!
    coupled with now in hindsight... I'm bloody rich

    the predictions of the anti war "mob" were and continue to be the most accurate of all the soothsayers - why have intelligence agencies at all?

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report

  • Nick Russell,

    I reckon the Chilcot report is to the UK Labour Party as the EU referendum was to the Tories - a bone thrown to the base by the leadership (Gordon Brown in Chilcot's case) to keep them happy. Both have been remarkably effective at making sure that arguments are polarised, positions entrenched and prejudices or suspicions reinforced.

    I'm sure this must be good for someone, somewhere, but I don't know who.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 129 posts Report

  • Bevan Shortridge,

    Robin Cook’s speech in Parliament upon his resignation from cabinet in 2003 over the war is online, and worth watching:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 122 posts Report

  • Ianmac,

    Two or three years ago John Campbell interviewed Blair who was here on a short visit. Blair's genial grin faded when he was faced with John's direct questions re Iraq. Blair was indignant I think, that some silly colonial should ask him to justify his position.

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report

  • Ianmac, in reply to Ianmac,

    "John Campbell interviews British Prime Minister Tony Blair during his visit to New Zealand. Discusses his unrepentant desire to complete what he sees as his obligations in Iraq and his relationship with USA President George Bush. "
    Found it but no footage???

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,


    I do like the Daily Rupert …

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Nick Russell,

    Both have been remarkably effective at making sure that arguments are polarised, positions entrenched and prejudices or suspicions reinforced.

    You're going to have to explain to me how Chilcott has caused "positions [to be] entrenched and prejudices or suspicions reinforced" on the pro-war side.

    I've seen and heard a lot from the warmongers in the last day or two, desperately squiming and spouting the same old, same old. But now these tinpot emperors can't even pretend to have clothes, and their trenches have been thoroughly over-run.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report

  • Marc C,

    "Much of what Chilcot said last night was, to a greater or lesser extent, already known. A good deal of it was known before the invasion even took place."

    Yes, that is what I thought, following the news on Al Jazeera last night, and hearing more about it today, some via New Zealand news and analysis.

    In my view this good report comes not only 7 years too late, it comes rather something like 10 years too late. Those that followed events before and after 2003 will know what happened, how intense the debate was, and how the US government actually pushed many of its allies and friends into joining the campaign to invade Iraq.

    I followed most of it when based in Europe, and so did not read all that Russell presents here, as I was somewhat disconnected with Aotearoa for a while. Bush and Blair were not much "loved" in much of Continental Europe, that was for sure.

    I followed developments over the years, watched the execution of Saddam Hussein, and felt numbed by the following years of terror, of almost daily reports of bomb and sniper attacks, killing endless civilians. It was numbing - the horror, as after a while it seemed one had to compare attacks by counting the casualties, to assess the severity and significance of them. Shia turned against Sunni and vice versa, Kurds played a separate role, and achieved autonomy of sorts.

    Now we have the Mid East in total chaos, almost at least, and who knows where all this shit will end. Thanks to Tony Blair, that sell out character, I remember him being so cosy and loyal with Bush, it was almost embarrassing.

    Bush that "born again Christian" went on a crusade, he had made his mind up before all efforts to try and deal with Saddam with peaceful and non war ways were even tried:
    "George W. Bush credits his wife for bringing his life in order. Prior to marriage, he had several embarrassing episodes with alcohol. Soon after marrying Laura, he joined the United Methodist Church and became a born-again Christian."

    I read this with disbelief in that same "bio":
    "Bush declared that Iraq hadn’t complied with inspections, and on March 20, 2003, the United States launched a successful invasion of Iraq, quickly defeating the Iraqi military. Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, fell on April 9, 2003, and Bush personally declared an end to major combat operations on May 1, 2003. With a power vacuum in place, Iraq soon fell into a sectarian civil war."

    That is the US government of then version of events, I remember that idiot and war monger ("wannabe Christian") Bush stand on the aircraft carrier announcing "victory" of sorts?!

    More on that man here:

    After 9/11 the US and Bush soon went from shock and upheaval into "crusader" mode, and that is what has brought us the reaction of the other extreme that there is in Iraq and Syria, in the most vicious way. First they dealt to Afghanistan (still fighting the Taleban), then Iraq (still in turmoil), remember the "axis of evil" and all such slogans?

    But now we live in the "post truth era", our own government has shown us, how the truth that was presented on all this yesterday, will not be all that relevant to the people that are young today, as they consume stuff that is "well presented" (i.e. censored), by commercial interests and governments. "Dirty politics" did not change the vote, nor will Chilcot influence many. Does anyone still talk about the "Panama papers", for instance?

    Chilcot matters to us older ones, most younger ones are inundated with superficial info, they will never read the details about all this, they want quick, soft and easy "news", and decide what is of use to them, what not. Prepare for a less informed, less analysing, less scrutinising future democracy, where also the UN may be rather irrelevant.

    Presentation and appearance matter, not contents, it seems.

    Chilcot's report seems to get somewhat less attention in the US, where it should actually be obligatory reading for people.

    For those that care, here is the hard news stuff:

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    My view is Blair became increasingly messianic over time. Wikipedia’s entry on Blair contains a useful entry on this, and I think the timelines of his growing sense of his religious mission are significant. IMHO, the entire current PLP Blairite movement displays behaviour that can only be best described in terms of having a messianic self-belief. But if that is the why, what about the how?

    I recently finally finished reading Christopher Clark’s “The Sleepwalkers.” Reading in Chilcot of the systemic failures of numerous key officials to understand – let alone their reluctance to take responsibility for and act upon – their roles in the checks and balances of democratic government is depressingly resonant of 1914. Just as then, we see a parade of officials and politicians at various levels testing a system whose workings are seemingly beyond their comprehension. The machinery of the British ruling class is exposed – as in 1914 – as little more than a shambolic collection of amateur and mediocre actors with no single logic or master narrative to help them understand their purpose. In such a vacuum of purpose it was easy for the one man who was sure of his mission to over-ride the vaunted “checks and balances” of Westminster democracy.

    The consistent failure of the British governing class to do it’s proper constitutional job in times of crisis has much wider implications than just Iraq. Britain is a leading member of NATO and an independent nuclear power. Reading Chilcot, who can have any faith in the British ruling class being able to cope with a crisis in the east with Russia?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Britain is a leading member of NATO and an independent nuclear power.

    Of all the "independent" nuclear powers, Britain would seem to be the only one whose ability to use its nuclear weapons is dependent on technology supplied by a foreign power, namely Trident. Both its army and air force have long reverted to being strictly conventional forces.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    I’ve been watching this on BBC/Skynews from Prague. Fascinating.
    I recall Blair praying a lot over whether he should go to war. God spoke to him apparently.

    No mention of God in the report it seems…..

    I suspect it is now the god afflicted guilt that is seeing him ‘travel to the Middle East 3 or 4 times a month’.

    Lies, deceit, utter bullshit about WMDs seem words that fail to describe what Rumsfeld, Bush(s), Rice and those truly nasty bastards Wolfowitz and Chaney got up to. What is thankful is that Clark had the gumption and the guts to say stuff you to the USA.

    Oh…and lets not forget what happened to the poor bastard who spilled the beans on the Dodgy Dossier. David Kelly.

    No wonder a little tipping of the scales was needed – or, as Blair also put it in his book, “politicians are obliged from time to time to conceal the full truth, to bend it and even distort it, where the interests of the bigger strategic goal demand that it be done”.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I do like the Daily Rupert …

    Rupert the First is easily the latter-day William Randolph Hearst.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Rob S,

    The Iraq war was primarily an American imposition on the Middle East.
    Blair was led into it by the fool Bush.
    I suggest that the Project for the New American Century was the philosophical background and impetus for the war.
    Bush the Younger, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, et al signed up for a clever wheeze that came out of a strand of right wing American exceptionalism that was enjoying It's high tide mark with the downfall of European communism.
    With no brake on America as the world hyperpower anything seemed possible which included imposing democracy on the middle east at the point of a gun.
    The fall of the twin towers in New York was the opportunity seized on by these chickenhawks to instigate a war that would be used to shape the middle east into a democratic, capitalistic wet dream that would display American power to all.
    Blair got played and was a fool.
    He should have been able to discern that he was being sold utter bullshit as was obvious to anyone who could parse the gung ho tripe coming from the U.S. intelligence services that had been suborned to the PNAC cause with dissenting views sidelined. Freedom fries anyone?
    Where is the American version of the Chilcot enquiry?
    If you think Vietnam was a clusterfuck what terms would you use for Iraq?
    These people have walked away from one of the most idiotically mendacious and downright criminal actions of my lifetime.
    History is already judging them and they're lucky that they aren't in the Hague arguing their case.
    Others are paying in blood for this war, real blood, real pain, a lot of others.
    Whilst these scum walk away with only a shit reputation, such is the way of things Blair is rolling in money post disgrace and has had the gall to put himself up as a peace broker in the middle east.
    As I write this I just get angrier and angrier.
    It won't be the establishment cleaning the mess up, as they've been shown up as the bloodless shits you've always suspected they were.
    There are a lot of institutions that don't seem to be fit for purpose.
    Who is cleaning them up?

    -apologies for venting.

    Since Apr 2010 • 136 posts Report

  • tussock,

    The largest protests the western world had ever seen were on the streets of their major cities on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. There is almost no mainstream record of that. Millions of people marched, and it was ignored.

    The politicians, the press, they wanted a war. Anything said they shouldn't have a war was ignored, everything said maybe it was possible there was a reason to have one was seized on and played up endlessly, without any checking at all.

    The documents presented to the UN about WMDs were a from a decade old university thesis, everything else was thrown out because it didn't say what they wanted to hear. Carl Rove summed them up nicely, as described by a reporter. "The aide" is Carl Rove.

    The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works any more." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

    They don't actually believe in empiricism. Evidence, that's not how the world works any more. They know what it is and reject it. You just invade Iraq and make it work and then that's the new evidence, just because. When John Key talks about getting another scientist if you don't like the science, about how climate change isn't a problem because science will solve it (despite all of science pointing out what a colossal problem it is, and already having given them the solutions, which they ignore just because they're going to do that other thing and then you can study that instead), that's the same deal.

    They went to war in Iraq because it was going to be easy, and work really well, and be hugely profitable and help the people of Iraq too, because everyone saying otherwise just hasn't seen it happen yet. Just like that.

    Blair was the same, the war was going to go gloriously and promote Britain to being a new world leader and authority on all that is right and good, just because that's what they were going to do. When evidence means nothing, that's all there is left.

    Since Nov 2006 • 611 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Everything is somewhere, but it might not be where you left it.

    Continental drift plays havoc with geo-political borders, as well...
    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to tussock,

    The largest protests the western world had ever seen were on the streets of their major cities on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. There is almost no mainstream record of that. Millions of people marched, and it was ignored.

    There were reportedly 750K of us in San Francisco when the bombing started in Iraq, so many that BART (the regional rapid transit system, which had put on extra trains) was so backed up that people were still leaving the station at the beginning of the march at the same time that people were entering the station at the end of the march to go home

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • ubernaut, in reply to Rob S,

    Amen Rob.
    And though you wisely avoid going further to touch the third rail, it seems I have a death-wish.
    PNAC was/is explicit - that their actions were intended first and foremost to advance the interests of Israel by breaking up the middle east into small warring statelets that could never pose a future threat or challenge to Israel.
    PNAC and the neocons have been media-savvy and have dropped out of the public conversation, despite the fact they still hold extensive power in Washington.
    Robert Kagan (an original PNAC founder), his wife Victoria Nuland, and a slew of others still call many of the shots in Washington.
    I'm amazed Russell has conspicuously avoided joining these dots in his more recent columns. Victoria Nuland had a conspicuous role in the Ukraine coup - it was clearly a neocon project in it's own right, and yet the PA conversation around Ukraine was slewed towards discussion of "democratic protest".
    Overthrow of Assad and breakup of Syria is literally part of the publically released PNAC documents from the 2002 era and clearly part of the same project and intent, yet Russell's more recent columns and the PA conversation in general has omitted this almost completely.
    It's looked to me as though the PA discussion has been hijacked over time by responding and commenting on the mainstream narrative - talking about talking for the sake of the conversation rather than setting the conversation. Maybe I've just misunderstood what the purpose of the blog was.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2012 • 2 posts Report

  • Nick Russell, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Because while the Chilcot report is utterly damning it falls frustratingly short on most of the Stop The War Coalition bumper stickers. Does it actually say for example that the war was illegal, or that "Blair lied"?

    Blair is touting those lines for all he is worth.

    What surprises me now is that Blair has been (quite rightly) damned by one and all but that Bush and co in the US seem to be getting a free pass. Maybe it's because we expected better of Blair.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 129 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Does it actually say for example that the war was illegal,

    It wasn't "illegal" (as a whole) under British law simply because Britain (and most other states including NZ) don't subordinate their domestic laws to the UN charter. The only sanctions under that can be applied by the UN and (usually) to states (and require the authority of the Security Council, which would obviously not be granted when a member of that body is at fault).

    That doesn't make it justifiable as good policy, but it isn't going to get Blair jailed unless he can be proved to have engaged in a narrowly illegal act, such as authorising kidnap or torture.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

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