Friday, April 04, 2003

It had to happen sooner or later. The Socialist Workers Party - the leading force in the British anti-war movement, have been pretty quiet about whether or not they do actually support Saddam. Most of us suspected that when the war started they would internally adopt the position of 'victory to Saddam', but in public they would stick to more general 'Stop the War' slogans. Now though the truth has sneaked out. In an article entitled: Bury the Bush project in the sands of Iraq, the SWP say that: "In Iraq the only way is to resist the "coalition" troops."

Editor Chris Harman makes it even clearer: "Together we have opposed the war. And together we should rejoice if Bush, Rumsfeld and Blair meet their Vietnam in the deserts of Iraq." Of course none of those politicians are actually fighting in the sands of Iraq. Instead it is thousands of largely working class men and women from the US and Britain - whose deaths the SWP scum hope to rejoice at.

posted by BA on 7:15 AM link
Certainly, this mass movement in the country feels cheated and betrayed by parliament and they are right to feel so. Developments in the House of Commons are clearly a by-product of what we do on the streets. We mustn’t foster illusions in the parliament … or in the Labour Party, frankly.” says George Galloway in an interview with an ultra-left, pro-Saddam rag .

posted by BA on 7:02 AM link
Defence Minister Geoff Hoon's criticism of Robert Fisk's report that it was a US bomb that blew up Baghdad market has enraged the Indie and not surprisingly Fisk himself.

Fisk recalls how there were attempts to silence his reports of Saddam's atrocities during the Iran-Iraq war as the Tory government and the FO didn't want Saddam to get a bad press in his battle with Tehran, he adds: "And now I'm not supposed to report the slaughter of the innocent by American or RAF pilots because the British Government has changed sides.It's a tactic worthy of only one man I can think of, a master of playing victim when he is in the act of killing, a man who thinks nothing of smearing the innocent to propagate his own version of history. I'm talking about Saddam Hussein. Geoff Hoon has learnt a lot from him. "

Like many bloggers I've never had much time for Fisk since his silly comments about "understanding" Afghan's who attacked western journalists and I share little of his world view on recent conflicts- but I have to say his version of the market story (as seen from the streets of Baghdad where he has provided some outstanding reports) does sound much more credibe than Hoon's suggestion that the Iraqis bombed themselves. It is not that such an action would be beyond the Saddam regime (it wouldn't be) just that it seems highly unlikely and Fisk does rather seem to have found the smoking gun.

posted by BA on 6:03 AM link
A much more lucid piece on the pro-invasion left from Johann Hari in the Independent today.
Nobody – nobody, not the anti-war movement nor Jacques Chirac nor George Galloway – was able to adopt a position towards Iraq that wouldn't result directly in the deaths of innocent people. If we had taken the route preferred by the anti-war camp, people would have carried on dying at Saddam's hands for weeks, months, years – and then died under his deranged son, Uday, and so on and on, corpse upon corpse.

posted by BA on 5:43 AM link

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Peter Cuthbertson has objected to my use of the term 'murder' to describe the actions of an Israeli army bulldozer trampling an American protestor to death in a predictably hysterical post entitled - "Were the 9/11 hijackers murdered too?"In terms of the semantics, I suppose legally it may be more wise to describe her killers as guilty of manslaughter and, of course, there is a bitter dispute over what really happened. But I really don't buy his idea that this naive 23 year old girl committed suicide as Peter claims. It reminds me of those Italian leftists who kept falling out of windows during police investigations in the 1970's - the same stink, the same sense of a deluded attempt at a cover-up.

Do I think people like Rachel Corrie get used by dodgy characters in the Palestinian 'solidarity movement'? Of course I do. But should they be trampled to death by bulldozers due to their youthful misjudgements?

On the question of Middle East peace, Peter shows again how far out of touch he is with mainstream British conservative opinion which, as far as I am aware, is supportive of the road map pushed by Tony Blair and accepted by George Bush. Rather Peter sadly appears to take his cue from the pro-Sharon fanatics on the neo-con hard right in the USA, who are as firmly opposed to a peaceful settlement in the Middle East as Hamas or Osama Bin Laden. As for Peter's pathetic and insulting 9/11 comparison, well I suspect he is really just trying to impress some of his nutball ultra-right weblogging pals. I hope it won him some links.

posted by BA on 5:11 AM link
Bad news for the US neo-con hawks. If you want to take on Iran and Syria you will have to do so without British support. It is worrying that this even needs pointing out by Jack Straw but I for one am very glad that he has made such a clear statement.

posted by BA on 2:51 AM link
George Galloway MP's appalling interview on Abu Dhabi television calling on British soilders not to obey orders and urging Arab regimes to support Iraq should lead to his expulsion from the Labour Party. Let him launch his own party to compete with Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party, Peter Taafe's Socialist Party and Paul Foot's Socialist Alliance - the political wilderness is where he belongs. Meanwhile The Sun has launched treason proceedings.

British Spin gives many of the reasons why Labour should boot Galloway and enjoy doing so "the Government should be doing everything they can to make George Galloway the poster boy of the Anti-War movement. "

posted by BA on 2:48 AM link
Let's be honest, it isn't very easy to be a left-wing supporter of invasion of Iraq when you start seeing pictures of women and children killed by American soilders you have described as liberators or listen to the pathetic, sickening spin suggesting the Iraqis may have bombed their own market places. David Aaronovitch might not make too much sense in his piece in the Guardian but there will be quite a few of us who know where he is coming from.

All week my pacific alter ego has been sitting on my shoulder and whispering a harsh question in my ear. "Your war. How long does it have to go on, how expensive does it have to be, how many have to die, before you admit it's a mad failure?"
By the weekend I could scarcely bring myself to look at the news bulletins. A much-loved friend emailed me from 12,000 miles away and (more or less) told me I was a lunatic. Others have informed me that I am a cunt.

posted by BA on 2:02 AM link

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

PolitX takes a look at the controversy surrounding the reaction of some of the more hot-headed warbloggers gloating over the murder of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie. Lot of good sense written.

posted by BA on 8:19 AM link
Remember how Iraqi exiles were being trained by the US at a base in Hungary to play a role in the liberation of their country? Well the programme has been ended with reports that only 50 people ever passed fully through the course. No explanation of why this has been ended but given the complaints of the Iraqi opposition about lack of involvement it looks like another sign that they are being bypassed. Unless anyone can find another explanation for this.

posted by BA on 5:54 AM link
Every day another item stated as fact turns out to be based on foundations of sand. The Independent reports today on how the much-vaunted backing of the new democracies of central and eastern Europe doesn't in fact exist at all. Added to their list of non-supporting nations of that region I would add Hungary, whose Prime Minister signed up to the Euro Eight letter of support but later backed down saying he did so in a personal capacity not as PM. Polls in Hungary and across the region show a majority of the public opposed to the war.

After Donald Rumsfeld labelled the east Europeans as 'new Europe' there were more than a few right-wing commentators who waxed at length about how the experience of real oppression during 40 years of communist rule made the 'new Europeans' more aware of the need to defeat Saddam - it was an oversimplistic argument and one that, like so many we have heard in the past month or so, has not stood the test of events.

posted by BA on 5:36 AM link

Monday, March 31, 2003

Nick Denton has a novel if unlikely solution to the problem of how to take Baghdad - don't bother. Repeat after me, "we will respect the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, Bosnia will be a multiethnic unitary state". If there is the slightest chance of Denton's advice being followed (and I very much doubt it) watch people suddenly remembering that the borders of Iraq were a "mistaken and arbitary legacy of British colonialism".

posted by BA on 8:00 AM link
Interesting post from Nick Barlow on the possible role of what psychologists call 'group think' in the ill-thought out planning of this war. Of particular interest is the article from Slate on how the pre-battle wargames were interfered with after the 'enemy' planner adopted the kind of canny, underhand, unethical approach we have seen from the Iraqis. Seems they wanted opponents who play fair. Nick gives some good examples of possible group think mentality in quotes from US officials but I am not sure the statements of David Blunkett and Clare Short really tell us much -- they were hardly key players in the planning.

If there was groupthink on the UK side then perhaps it was the naive belief that the US military had somehow become reliable and competent.

posted by BA on 7:35 AM link
There are some who say that blogs lack gravitas, that there is no quality writing, that the analyses are hurried and ill-considered. But let us not forget that there are some real journalists who also produce weblogs, people who write for broadsheet newspapers, quality news weeklies and also Time magazine. One of those is Andrew Sullivan who stands as an example of what blogs could become if they were allied with the crafted and considered writing of a professional journalist. So our second thought for the day comes from Andrew's blog where he deals with the difficulties of covering a war in the mass media:

"What has struck me forcibly so far is not so much the "Simpsons"-like backseat-driving of the media ("Are we there yet?" "No." "Are we there yet?" "No." "Are we there yet?" "No." "Are we there yet?" "No." "Are we there yet?" "No." "Are we there yet?" "No." "Are we there yet?" "No.") than the absolute refusal of the military brass or the administration to concede even an inch. Like you, I don't know what's really going on. The press could be being babyish; the military could be putting on a brave face. One day, we'll know. But if I had to believe someone, it would probably not be the BBC."

posted by BA on 1:42 AM link
If you thought that the Hitchens brothers might finally agree on something now that left-wing Christopher is delivering 'private lectures' in the White House on the morality of removing Saddam, then read this piece in the Spectator from his right-wing brother Peter. Not to be outdone in the contrarian stakes he outlines a conservative case against war. Not surprisingly he manages to take a potshot at his brother across the pond:

The idea that naked force can create human freedom is itself a left-wing idea. Even more socialist are the war faction’s contempt for the sovereignty of nations and their unashamed belief that ends justify means. No wonder that the war’s hottest-eyed supporters on both sides of the Atlantic are ex-Marxists who have lost their faith but have yet to lose their Leninist tendency to worship worldly power. Yet ranged alongside them are Tories who are supposed to stand for the gentler and more modest cause of faith and nation, Church and King.


posted by BA on 12:51 AM link

British Spin
Tom Watson
Stephen Pollard
Nick Barlow
Paul Anderson
Matthew Turner
Jeff Jarvis

Vox Politics
Conservative Commentary
Slugger O'Toole
Public Interest
Emily Jones
Edge of England's Sword
Au Currant
Natalie Solent
Brendan O'Neill
Look Back in Anger
Cinderella Bloggerfeller
Matt Welch