Jenkins from the Guardian wrote:
"Amid the past
week's political sound and fury, one subject slid unnoticed under
the platform. Britain is at war. Its soldiers are fighting and dying
in two distant lands. Foreign policy, once the stuff of national
debate, is consigned to cliché and platitude.
casualties mounting in Iraq and Afghanistan, politicians dare not
mention it, let alone disagree. The prime minister declared to his
party conference in Bournemouth that 'the message should go out
to anyone facing persecution anywhere from Burma to Zimbabwe...
we will not rest'. Britain will defend the oppressed anywhere in
the world. Unfortunately Britain is doing nothing in Burma or Zimbabwe,
while the message from Iraq and Afghanistan is that Britain chooses
bad wars at America's behest in which it gets beaten.
airbrushing in the world will not remove the greatest legacy that
Tony Blair left his successors, that of 'liberal interventionism'.
Never articulated except in a confused speech in Chicago in 1999,
it asserted Britain's right to meddle in any country to which it
took offence, under the rubric of 'humanitarian just war'."
Now Simon Jenkins
isn't a crazy leftist firebrand - I'm not even sure what part of
the political spectrum he occupies, but it probably isn't the same
as mine. However, I trust his intellectual honesty in a way that
I can no longer trust the honesty of most of our government.
down protest moved by police.
There are, however, a few clear-sighted people in Parliament. I'd
like now to read something that Ming Campbell recently wrote - which
as far as I know went virtually unreported outside of the Yorkshire
Post, where it was published:
right wing press, politicians and commentators have an unshakeable
habit of working themselves into a fury about power-sharing in Europe.
They see themselves as the great defenders of British sovereignty,
against the political ambitions of our continental partners.
same people remain largely silent over the transfer of British sovereignty
in crucial areas of national security to The United States.
have been conned into an illegal invasion by shameless propaganda
and media manipulation. We have a foreign policy in place
that is hugely unpopular, but which continues nonetheless.
We have risen to third place in the rankings of arms-exporting
countries. And here we are today at a demonstration that has
been declared illegal.
a three-paragraph written statement slipped out in July, just one
day before Parliament rose - and almost completely unnoticed by
the press - the Defence Secretary announced that the Government
is permitting the US administration to install additional equipment
at Menwith Hill, in Yorkshire, to support its unproven missile defence
has been no public debate in Britain about the desirability or workability
of missile defence, let alone about the strategic assumptions that
will to persevere with it has been driven as much by industrial
as military priorities. Its original justification was to defend
against China: now it is said that it will protect against Iran,
depicted in Washington as an implacable, long-term enemy."
What this says
to me is that the current American government - and ours, for as
long as we follow them - thrives on a state of war. They need it
because it allows them to carry on with business as usual whilst
at the same time suppressing dissent "for security reasons".
It allows them to sidestep the democratic process by maintaining
a continuous state of emergency.
For the sake of our country, and Iraq - as well as for the sake
of all those who in the future are going to be cast as "our
enemies", we must get off this war-mongering treadmill. Our
government talks about our "special relationship" with
America, but we should be asking how special that really is. And
I think we should be looking at another relationship we have that
seems to me much more special: that with Europe.
If we'd followed the European line rather than the American, it's
likely not only that we wouldn't have been part of this stupid invasion,
but that it wouldn't have happened at all. Our cooperation was what
gave the Americans the figleaf to cover the dirty little secret
that this was an invasion carried out for their benefit alone. Our
complicity made it look acceptably international.
In the last
couple of weeks several people at the BBC have resigned because
someone called a cat Socks instead of Cookie, and because the Queen
was wrongly depicted as being in a huff. At the same time we are
waging and losing a pointless war that has killed perhaps as many
as one million people. Will there ever be any resignations over
We have a serious
problem on our hands. We have a government that was elected by 22
per cent of the eligible voters, but somehow gained 55 per cent
of the seats in Parliament. We have been conned into an illegal
invasion by shameless propaganda and media manipulation. We have
a foreign policy in place that is hugely unpopular, but which continues
nonetheless. We have risen to third place in the rankings of arms-exporting
countries. And here we are today at a demonstration that has been
Is this what
we mean by democracy when we so proudly export it - in missile form
- to other countries?
Brian Eno is a musician. Visit Stopwar.org.uk.
Ban Won't Stop Us
following commentary ran on the Guardian website on October
6, 2007 where musician Brian Eno urged everyone to take
part in a march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square
on October 8 to protest against the war in Iraq and to call
for the immediate withdrawal of troops. Eno wrote: "Using
an archaic law (the 1839 Metropolitan Police Act), that
demonstration has now been banned."
Our leaders would undoubtedly be happy if we "moved on"
from Iraq. They don't want to talk about it any more: it
was a dreadful blunder, and reflects little credit on any
of them. Presumably this is why the question has hardly
been debated in parliament. Although the majority of the
public were always against the war, this was not reflected
by their elected representatives. The government behaved
in a way that was transparently undemocratic but the Conservatives
won't call them on it, for without their almost unanimous
support the whole project couldn't have happened.
to conveniently forget Iraq now is to forfeit the only possible
benefit the war might have: the chance to rethink the dysfunctional
political system that got us into this hole. If we don't,
we risk digging a series of ever deeper holes. The Iraq
adventure was justified as the planting of a beacon of democracy
in the Middle East.
Not only did it utterly fail at that, it also undermined
our democracy. Appealing to our paranoia more than our vision,
George Bush and Tony Blair obtained restrictions on freedoms
that had taken centuries to evolve. They said these were
necessary to ensure our security - a device used by authoritarian
leaders since time immemorial.
liberties never seem important until you need them. But
by definition, that is the very time you won't be able to
get them, so they have to be in place in advance, like an
insurance policy. In his book Defying Hitler, the historian
Sebastian Hafner describes how Germany slid into nazism.
At first people laughed at Hitler and played along with
what seemed trivial changes in the law. For most Germans
it was all rather abstract, and they were expecting things
to return to normal when Hitler faded back into obscurity.
Only he didn't, and civil liberties were so compromised
there was no way to stop him.
we don't stand up about Iraq then we tacitly sanction the
next steps in this deadly experiment of democratic evangelism.
Those will likely include an attack on Iran, a permanent
force of occupation in Iraq (probably always the intention),
the complete militarisation of the Middle East, and a revived
the War Coalition planned a march from Trafalgar Square
to Parliament Square on Monday (October 8, 2007) - the day
parliament resumes - to draw attention to the fact that
a lot of us are still thinking about Iraq and to call for
the immediate withdrawal of troops.
Using an archaic law (the 1839 Metropolitan Police Act),
that demonstration has now been banned. Now why would that
be? Stop the War Coalition has organised dozens of such
demonstrations and, as far as I know, not one person has
been hurt. So it can't be public safety that's at stake.
it's the elephant in the room. This government wants to
show itself as clean and new, and doesn't want attention
drawn to the elephant and the mess it has left on the carpet.
So it invokes an old law, to shave a little more off the
arrangements by which citizens communicate their feelings
to government (a process, by the way, called democracy).
would take courage for Gordon Brown to say: "This war was
a catastrophe." It would take even greater courage to admit
that the seeds of the catastrophe were in its conception:
it wasn't a good idea badly done (the neocons' last refuge
- "Blame it all on Rumsfeld"), but a bad idea badly done.
And it would take perhaps superhuman courage to say: "And
now we should withdraw and pay reparations to this poor
don't see it happening. But the demonstration will, legal
or not: on Monday Tony Benn will lead us as we exercise
our right to remind our representatives that, even if Iraq
has slipped off their agenda, it's still on ours. Please