Sunday, April 06, 2003

Geoff Hoon, the UK defence secretary, appeared on the BBC's "Breakfast with Frost" program this morning. Sir David Frost, the program's presenter, asked him two very telling questions. Well rather the answers given were telling if not the questions, for Frost's Sunday morning style is not known to tax his guests.

Frost asked, and here I'm paraphrasing, if there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, how much difficulty would the UK government find itself in? Hoon answered that signs of WMD had already been found, blah, blah, ..chemical suits..., blah, blah, ...history of use..., blah, blah. In other words he singularly failed to answer the question. Frost then went on to ask if the UK, as a major partner in the coalition, would play an equally prominent role in the interim government of Iraq, or would it all be left to the US to run. Again Hoon failed magnificently to answer the question waffling on about humanitarian relief in Basra.

Now we're all used to politicians dodging the questions posed to them by T.V. interviewers, it's one of the things that's turned the UK population off of politics in such a big way. The politicians seem to think that by not answering the questions that they've "pulled a fast one", some how gotten away with something. This is far from the case. The sophisticated electorate realise that the politician simply has no answer, or worse, that we would not like the answer given.

This brings me back to the interview in question. Hoon, by pointedly refusing to answer the question, has shown us that the truthful answer, were he ever to give it, is simply not palatable to the electorate namely, in the this case, that the government would be in deep trouble if they'd sent our troops to die in the Gulf to rid the world of the threat of WMD when there were none to begin with. This would lead more of the population to come round to the conclusion that this author has that the war is being fought purely for commercial reasons.

On the second point, Hoon refuses to answer again, because the answer is not palatable. The UK will not share in the running of Iraq as that was never part of the game plan. The US went into Iraq to secure supply of the world's second largest resource of oil. Note, I said supply of, not revenue from. All the US's talk of holding the revenue in trust for the people of Iraq is a smoke screen. The US doesn't need the money it's rich already. What it does need is a puppet regime that will guarantee oil supply to the US, who is quite willing to pay for it. The UK does not feature in this plan and so will play no real part in the running of Iraq.

Finally, the big question to be posed in the post Sadaam era is, when the US puts in it's puppet regime, and that regime guarantees oil supply to the US, if that regime continues to conduct human rights abuses, will the world be so keen to overthrow it?

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

The Tory foreign affairs spokesman, Lord Howell, said that just as the government has promised a referendum on the euro, ministers should agree to a poll on the EU constitution. This EU constitiution is a pretty scary thing as you can see from these excerpts. The draft consitution talks of things like: strengthening of the internal market, and of economic and monetary union; who represents the Union in international relations; it would define the role and future rank of the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. It's all couched in fuzzy terms designed to plicate those who fear a more federal Europe, but the realities are there for all to see.

One who does see the dangers is Lord Howell, stating,
"It was a Franco-German attempt to create a centralised greater France"
Although he believes the diplomatic spats over Iraq may force the French and Germans to back down over the constitution and present an opportunity for the UK and other EU countries to shape the plans.

Whatever way you dice it, the whole idea of a common European foreign policy is laughable, you only need to look at the pig's ear the French made of the Iraq situation to see that. I mean can you really see British Armed Forces going to war on the say so of the master French criminal Chirac, a man who had to get re-elected to avoid going to prison? No, me neither.

I'm not in favour of following Bush and the US to into a commercially inspired war - you may have noticed - but given a choice between Bush and Chirac then I'd take Bush any day, and what'll scupper all this nonsence about a United States of Europe is so would the majority of us Brits. Blair be warned, we may be willing to let you lead us to war - but to lead us to a greater France? No way!

Thursday, March 27, 2003

I've been saying for weeks now that the war in Iraq has more to do with grubby commercial reasons than any great moral crusade to liberate the people of Iraq from an evil dictator or, for that matter, freeing the world from the tyranny of weapons of mass destruction. Well now we're starting to see the proof of that. Halliburton have just been awarded a contract to put out the oil fires in Iraq.[You should read the transcript of the Whitehouse announcement. The press corps could smell a rat and Ari Fleischer did not want to be questioned on it.]

The public could well perceive a conflict of interest here, after all Halliburton is the old company of VP Dick Cheney, one of the most hawkish of the Bush administration. Could it be that his hawkishness had more to do with contracts that he knew would arise to re-build Iraq after any war, and less to do with the wish to free the Iraq people? So, what steps did the administration take to alleviate the suspicions of the public? After all, the military knew for months that there was the likelihood that there'd be fires to put out, so did the administration put the contract out for tender? Did they Dick! They just awarded it to the VP's old company, how cosy. Mind you its not the first time that Cheney's been helped in his commercial interests by good old Uncle Sam, more examples can be found here. Nor is it the first time Cheney's done business in Iraq, he's profited both from deals with the regime he's now trying to remove and he's profited from the sanctions imposed at the end of the first Gulf War. Seems like he doesn't know when to stop feeding at the Iraqi trough.

Do you remember all those pledges that the US were not interested in Iraq merely to secure oil supply, that their purpose was a moral one? Do you remember they said that the UN would be running Iraq after the war? Well you can forget all that - when the fighting's over, it's going to be good 'ol Uncle Sam calling shots. Can anyone really say they're surprised?

There's one last thing on my mind today and that's weapons of mass destruction. The UN inspectors failed to find the "smoking gun" with regard to WMD, but the UK and US governments maintained all along that they knew where they were but couldn't tell the inspectors for fear of giving away vital intelligence assets. Well the war's a week old now, and you'd think that securing the sites of these WMD would be a day one priority for coalition special forces - to prevent them being used against the invading troops. But so far we've heard nothing, not a thing, and I'm wondering when the war's over and the dust's settled and we've found not a single trace of WMD, will anyone remember why it was we were told we were fighting this war and sending our troops to die?

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

It seems Geoffrey Robinson is to escape the long arm of the law for his alledged drug offences. Apparently, there's no case to answer as the drugs found in the van shortly after Mr Robinson had been in it cannot be linked to him. Fair enough, the balance of probability is that the drugs are his, but it's right and proper that if no proof can be found, that he get off with it. The thing is he tends to make rather a habit of it.

In 2000 he escaped charges over government grants received by his company Transfer Technology. Again in 2001 he escaped prosecution for wrong doing at his company Transtec. Although he doesn't get it all his own way. The law might not be able to nail him but there's one person who can.

Elizabeth Filkin, the Parliamentary sleaze-buster nailed him for taking money off of Robert Maxwell the disgraced tycoon. Mind you, like most people who get a bite out of this government, Filkin got her comeuppance for doing her job. She was hounded out after a whispering campaign against her.

Monday, March 24, 2003

This weekend a US Patriot missile battery shot down an RAF Tornado GR4 near the Iraqi/Kuwaiti border [More…].

Now it would be easy for me to go off on some rant regarding gung ho, trigger happy yanks – after all in the first Gulf War more UK troops were killed by their American allies than by the Iraqis. But we all know it’s just not that simple. There’s so many things that go in to making up an integrated air defence system, that we won’t know who’s to blame until the investigation is completed. Many questions have still to be answered, for example, was the Tornado in the correct air space? Was the Tornado’s IFF transponder operating properly? Were the correct transponder codes passed to the missile battery? All of these things have to be looked at.

What this situation amply demonstrates however, is that the burning question for the 21st centaury battlefield is not how precise can I make my weapons, or how totally can I destroy this target. No, when two men look at each other across the battlefield, the burning question is, “who goes there?”

Friday, March 21, 2003

Prescott attempts to put out the fire strike once and for all. In a cynical ploy the deputy prime minister is using the pretence of war to force a favourable settlement in a domestic pay dispute. As you may have read elsewhere in these pages, the fire service in the UK have been on strike for sometime in support of their wage claim.

Until now the Government's line has been that no one in the public sector is worth the 30% pay rise demanded by the fire service, (accept the prime minister who got 40%). They also say that no pay settlement in the public sector can come without performance enhancements to offset the cost, (again accept for the government who have not had to make any sacrifices to get their pay award and in fact have seen their benefits increased). So, the government offered 16% over a number of years, but the firemen had to agree to job cuts and station closures.

Now the fire service is not like other public sector organisations, when the railways loose jobs and investment the service quality reduces and the trains run late. Well it's a pain but the bottom line is it's no big deal. But when the quality of the fire service is reduced then people die, pure and simple. That's why the firemen are right to oppose the changes brought forward by the government.

However, Prescott is now using the cover of war with Iraq, which is unnecessary in its own right, to force through a settlement. In my opinion it is totally immoral for the government to force through a favourable settlement to a domestic dispute on the backs of the service personnel who are putting their lives on the line so that Blair can suck up to Bush in the hope that Bush will throw him some crumbs from the big table.

The government talk big about removing weapons of mass destruction, but there's one WMD that they can't do anything about, and it might just see the end of them. I'm talking about the electorate, who should sweep away this embarrassment of a government at the earliest opportunity.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Well now the truth's finally out. The reasons for why we have to invade Iraq have been many but now, at last, we may be getting to the truth. First we had, the war is necessary because of Iraq's links with terrorism reason. Then, when no one could turn up any hard evidence of this link, the reason changed to we must rid Sadaam of his weapons of mass destruction. Then when Sadaam showed sign of, an all be it limited, disarmament, the reason changed again to it's a moral crusade. Now, however, we may be getting to the bottom of it, Bush has told Sadaam to leave the country within 48 hours or else - in other words "get out and let me have your oil".

All along the arguments of the politicians that this war was not about oil have sounded hollow, I mean you only have to look at the factions that formed at the U.N. Those who had oil contracts with the current regime, (France and Russia), threatening to veto any resolution that would see Sadaam removed from power. Whilst those who will likely gain oil contracts from the new leaders of Iraq, (U.S. and U.K.), pushing for regime change.

Take the above along with the Bush administration's connections with the oil industry and it looks very much like we'll be sending UK troops to die in Iraq for grubby commercial reasons and not to right some dreadful wrong.