Saturday, 9 May 2009

Doublespeak

Humanity has a lot to be proud of. It's produced what we would justly call wonders: the Pyramids, the sadly-eroded Colossus, the Great Wall. It's also given us Mozart, and Avicenna, and Aristotle and, rather dubiously, Philip Roth and Bob Hope. It has a lot to be ashamed of on a large and a small scale: petty cruelties conflated into colonialism, science exploited and abused to dehumanise other cultures.
We know that things don't change - not really; there is very little new under the sun. The young have to reinvent everything anew; otherwise life would be unbearable. One of the great problems with living in a trash culture is that we're exposed constantly to the feeble thoughts of actresses and singers as if they were original truths; and, of course, the vapid-minded drink from the dregs of this non-knowledge and use it to affirm their existences. Those of us who are impatient with such moronic witterings look more closely at life; we scrutinise its history, its meaning, its purpose, the etymology of the word 'life' itself, and try to work out a way in which we can exist authentically, acknowledging the other without being turned into the Other.
Our task is made all the more difficult by the floods of disinformation and doublespeak that pour like a poison stream from the mouths of our politicians and their ever-churning propaganda machines. It will be a wonder indeed if we will ever be able to look upon life and see truth in it again. And the one responsible, who is now lurking behind his cloak of new-found piety, is being paid millions every year to get away with spewing forth more doublespeak, perpetuating the lies that have led to the deaths of around two million people. That's more than the number murdered in Rwanda, under the Khmer Rouge, in the Korean War, during the Troubles in Northern Island, US casualties in Vietnam, the Twin Towers and under Idi Amin. The man? Tony Blair. The war? Iraq.
Iraq's no longer a country. Even before the UKUSA found a shoddy pretext to go to war, Rumsfeldt and other disaster merchants were batting around ideas for its reconstruction. Blair stood up in Parliament without compunction and, hand on heart, lied. He claimed that everything that was good and pure and just in the world was at stake. He played shamelessly on people's moral convictions. Knowing full well that there was no justification for the claim that Saddam Hussein, once the West's Golden Boy, had WMDs, he added one fiction to another, Ossa atop Pelion, and built a fraudulent case against the dictator. And, having chummed up with the States, chased the UN inspectors out to unleash Operation Firefox and then lying further, claiming that Saddam Hussein had chased those inspectors out, he systematically set out to obliterate Iraq.
There is nothing left there: it was blown to smithereens, razed to the ground, turned to dust. One of the most ancient civilisations on earth is now a stinking cesspit filled with terrified, bewildered citizens and angry fundamentalist aggressors for whom the idea of the best healthcare and education the Middle East had to offer is a distant memory. Hospitals, schools, mosques, museums: gone. The only ones living in any semblance of luxury are those on military bases or occupying the plush Western-style condos that sprang up overnight. The antiquities have been looted or destroyed. The roads are full of holes; electricity is sporadic; AIDS is drastically on the rise, food is scarce, children are homeless. In fact, half of those dead are children. But they're not children to the self-acclaimed Saviour of the Middle East: they're collateral damage. It's 'regrettable'. I think he may have offered his sympathy at some point. Too late: they're dead.
If a child goes missing in this country, it's 24/7 news. The search for little Madeleine McCann goes on. But how many children have gone missing in Iraq? And who cares? What is to happen to this lost generation, the survivors of a grossly unjust and unnecessary war?
Way back when, we marched against the war. We lost. But that does not mean we give up the fight now. We cannot let journalists claim that Blair believed there were WMDs. It's nonsense; a fabrication. And it implies that because a politician believes something, it must be right. That's a very subjective and dangerous fantasy to be playing with. We can't allow our media to report the war through such a distorted lens. Again, playing with the truth and using such highly subjective terms - Iran is 'hostile' and a 'troublemaker' but America is 'committed to democracy' - is very dangerous. Iran is a 'troublemaker', yet America, which has illegally invaded two nations, is 'democratic'? What a leap in logic! Such bias breeds hostility and contention. Years later, many more will die because of the errors of today, of now.
By all rights, Blair should be on trial for war crimes. He is a mass murderer; a class A charlatan with Messianic delusions and a moral compass that points straight to Ego. He is a despicable phoney, a liar and a thief: he has stolen an entire country's history, its future, its resources and its lives. He does not deserve to enjoy freedom; were he tried at Nuremberg he would have been hanged. Instead, he is wafting around and dispensing advice on 'peace'. And he goes unchallenged, save by us. The media may be in a straitjacket of doublespeak, but we are not. If there is to be any honesty, let it be in politics, let us be saying it, and let it be now.

18 comments:

  1. Stan Rosenthal9 May 2009 at 17:57

    Disinformation works both ways. Here's a piece I did for Progressonline, a Labour Party blogging website, exposing the disinformation put out by the anti-war movement. So far there's hasn't been one PLAUSIBLE response to the points made. Since you obviously trying to give the impression that you are someone of massive intellect you should have no difficulty in rebutting the argument - or NOT, as the case may be (no nit-picking points, please). I should add that although the article was written some time ago it's as true today as it ever was.

    "22 REASONS WHY IT WAS RIGHT TO INVADE IRAQ

    Nick Cohen's controversial polemic "What's Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way" has reignited the debate about the rights and the wrongs of the Iraq war. In an earlier post I exposed ten lies about the conflict which have shaped anti-war sentiment. I now go further and set out a more comprehensive point-by point case for the war which to my knowledge is fairly unique amongst all the material that's been produced on this issue. I do so because the self-righteous opponents of the war continue to insist that there can be no good argument for the war. Also I believe that the full weight of the pro-war argument has largely gone by default.

    Such has been the success of the anti-war lobby in claiming the moral high ground for their views that there are now few on the left who are prepared to challenge them over the whole range of their propoganda. Even Nick Cohen provides only a very narrow justification for the war (the desirability of over-throwing an evil dictator and standing by the Iraqi victims of the insurgency), thereby conceding much valuable territory regarding the other equally valid reasons for the war.

    Here then, in chronological order, are no less than 22 reasons why progressives should stand up against the prevailing opinion of the liberal-left on this issue, particularly at a time when their mindset threatens to undermine the chances of Labour winning the next election.

    1. The second Gulf war of 2003 followed the first Gulf war of 1991 which resulted directly from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

    2. Instead of over-throwing Saddam at that time, the allies gave way to liberal sentiment and left him in power on the basis that he would never be in a position to threaten neighbouring countries again.

    3. The terms of the 1991 cease-fire (not a peace settlement, by the way) forbade Iraq from developing WMD.

    4. To that end a UN inspection regime was imposed by resolution 687 and several related resolutions, non-compliance with which would represent a breach of the cease-fire.

    5. Several years passed during which UN inspections were continually being thwarted.

    6. In 1998 Iraq ceased all cooperation with the United Nations and economic sanctions and no-fly zones were imposed.

    7. Then came 9/11 which underlined the world-wide terrorist threat and highlighted how failing anti-West states could be used as sanctuaries and attack bases for jihadists.

    8. 9/11 also pointed up the dangers of UNDER-reacting to intelligence information.

    9 The intelligence was showing that Saddam still possessed WMD and was continuing with his WMD programme, despite the terms of the cease-fire and related UN resolutions.

    10. The UN inspectors, most governments, every intelligence agency in the world, and even Saddam's own generals were convinced that these weapons still existed and represented a threat, either directly through Saddam or indirectly if they were to fall into the hands of Al-qaeda. In a post-war interview with the Iraq Survey Group Saddam admitted that he was trying to give the impression that he had WMD for deterrent purposes.

    11. If there were any doubts about the intelligence the feeling after 9/11 was probably that it was safer not to take any chances and that anyway why should a tyrant like Saddam be given the benefit of that doubt, particularly if it provided a legitimate reason for getting rid of him?

    12. After being given every opportunity to comply with the UN resolutions (over a considerable period) Saddam rejected the final demand under resolution 1441 (passed unanimously in November 2002) which called for "an accurate, full and final disclosure of Iraq's WMD's and of all aspects of its WMD programme", and which encompassed presenting evidence that WMD stocks had been destroyed. Opinions differed amongst eminent international lawyers on whether a second resolution was needed for military action. Such differences are quite common in international law since very little is clear-cut in this fairly new and arcane area of the law.

    14 To argue that the war was DEFINITELY illegal is not therefore defensible whereas the Prime Minister's parliamentary answer (March 17, 2003) putting the legal case for the war IS legally defensible.

    15. The ensuing invasion presented an opportunity for (a) finally dealing with the WMD threat perceived at that time (b) removing a tyrannical dictator (c) neutralising Iraq as a potential base for world-wide terrorism (d) demonstrating that the international community could not be defied on such vital issues (e) allowing US troops to be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia and its holy places (which up to that point was one of AL-qaeda's main recruiting causes) and (f) allowing progress to be made towards a Middle East settlement (Saddam was offering 50,000 dollars for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers!).

    16. Blair's dilemma was, therefore, this. To go into Iraq meant war with all its terrible consequences. But not going into Iraq meant Saddam defying the international community and literally getting away with murder thus setting an example to other dictators and enemies of democracy. It also meant Saddam proceeding with his WMD programme to a point where he might become invulnerable, possibly passing WMD on to the jihadists, continuing his repression of his Muslim population, and continuing to undermine a Middle East peace settlement. Finally the need to keep US troops in Saudi Arabia would continue to give AL-qaeda a cause-celebre regarding the holy places. In other words he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.

    17 In coming down in favour of the war Blair probably saw this as the lesser of the evils and as the chance to act as a restraining influence on Bush in a way that those opposing the war were not able to do.

    18 Far from the invasion being anti-Islamic, the (Islamic) Kurds, anti-Saddam Sunnis and the Shias rejoiced at being liberated from Saddam's tyranny (even now despite the post-war mayhem a recent poll has shown that over 60% of the population believe that overthrowing Saddam was worth the hardship entailed, 75% of the Shias and 81% of the Kurds).

    19. Yes, terrible mistakes were made in the post-war period (as in any war). Amongst these was under-estimating the sheer depravity of an enemy which seems to be prepared to destroy the country and slaughter its people rather than to see it progress under a democratically elected government.

    20 Iraq is NOT under occupation. The occupation was ended in 2004 under UN Security Council Resolution 1546 when the interim Iraqi government took power. Coalition troops have been mandated by the UN to keep the peace. The US government is pledged to comply with a UN resolution requiring them to leave if requested by the Iraqi government.

    21. Millions of Iraqis risked death to elect their government. Their government therefore has a greater legitimacy than almost any other government in the world!

    22. That government wants our troops to stay as long as it takes to do the job. To cut and run now would be one of the most ignoble acts in our history.


    From this perspective then there is no betrayal of what the Labour Party and the liberal-left are supposed to stand for. Quite the opposite. Here we have a courageous Labour leader trying, against all the odds, to uphold the principles of democracy, social justice, humanitarianism, and international solidarity which the Labour Party was founded to promote. To be sure, there is a downside. But those who constantly dwell on these negative aspects without putting them into the above context are simply giving comfort to one of the most despicable enemies we have faced, thereby stiffening their resistance in the belief that western public opinion does not have the stomach for the fight and that one more spate of high-profile suicide bombings will precipitate demands to bring home the troops and thus bring them victory."

    Over to you.

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  2. Megatwat John Rentoul on THe Independent admires Tones reasons for making Iraq look like an Arab version of Laos. How does a tube like Rentoul get tenure at Uni when I'm signing on? Twat!!

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  3. Mr Rosenthal:

    Firstly, I'm not, as you so indelicately and erroneously put it, "obviously trying to give the impression that [I am] someone of massive intellect": this is the way in which I write; peruse my other pieces, if you wish.
    I disagree fundamentally with each and every one of your 22 points. In order to rebut them thoroughly and incontrovertibly I am going to have to take some time formulating my response. Should have it finished by the end of the weekend; I cannot work as quickly as I used to, due to chronic ill-health, so I am afraid that you will have to be patient.

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  4. Have now read Mr Rosenthals emission. Reminds me of when I used to blog on the Torygraph. Still, Iraq relieves the nation of many Surplus Economic Units.

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  5. Well said Mara - couldn't agree more. Stan Rosenthal, your post is utter shite and not worthy of response.

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  6. Stan Rosenthal10 May 2009 at 11:17

    My, my, scunnert, I DO seem to have touched a raw nerve. Hope Mara's response will be more in keeping with the professed high-minded tone of this site and that he will unreservedly condemn this gross act of bad manners (which he lists amongst his dislikes).

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  7. Stan, here's the rules:

    "I hate censorship ... unless you're as boring as hell or dumb as a cupboard. Or both."

    Your 22 points - far from touching a raw nerve - could be considered to contravene the above caveat. But it's Mara's blog so I leave it to her to apply sanctions as she sees fit.

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  8. I've decided that each of these points is far too big - both in scope and levels of sheer 'wrong-ness' to answer all at once, so I'm going to answer them over the next 22 days instead (as long as health permits): one per day. Today: the claim that "Millions of Iraqis risked death to elect their government. Their government therefore has a greater legitimacy than almost any other government in the world!"
    Incidentally, I bitterly resent being referred to as part of the liberal left; I'm a conservative Libertarian. Quite the opposite end of the political spectrum.

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  9. - Scunnert, I agree; but, after all, this is going to be the kind of nonsense floating around and sensationalised by our media around the upcoming Iraq war investigation, so it's best that we debate it fiercely Now.

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  10. -And finally, Stan, 'she'. She. Not 'he'.

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  11. Definitely a she. Pees sitting down. Mostly.

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  12. Stan Rosenthal11 May 2009 at 11:23

    Scunnert, as someone whose been around the blog scene for a number of years I have found that that any kind of coherent response to an argument is invariably met with shrieks of "boring", "dumb", and "shite". It is a clear sign that an argument has been lost and as such I am encouraged when these jibes are thrown at me. Thank you.

    Nevertheless I am puzzled by Mara's support of your mode of expression given what she has said about bad manners in her profile (sorry about the gender conusion by the way: Mara is not a name I'm familiar with. Nice though). I can only assume that her definition of bad manners is limited to not genuflecting to your betters.

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  13. Stan Rosenthal said...

    "Scunnert, as someone whose been around the blog scene for a number of years I have found that that (sic) any kind of coherent response to an argument is invariably met with shrieks of "boring", "dumb", and "shite". It is a clear sign that an argument has been lost and as such I am encouraged when these jibes are thrown at me. Thank you."

    Stan - I've been around as well, and while you're mostly correct re: shrieks there are times when labeling a post "shite" is appropriate. Your post for example. To defend the indefensible may be a blogging sport that you enjoy, but when it's in defense of an illegal war that has brought misery and death to hundreds of thousands of people - well that's just shite.

    I notice you haven't commented on Mara's destruction of your first two points. I'm not surprised.

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  14. Stan Rosenthal13 May 2009 at 17:16

    Scunnert, I'm not a lawyer. I only defend worthy causes like this.

    As regards it being about an illegal war etc I answered this slur in point 12 of my post which you seem to have missed. So I'll give you the amplified version taken from my "Ten lies about the Iraq war" piece also posted at Progressonline.

    "LIE 2: THE WAR WAS ILLEGAL.

    The reality: The legal justification for the war was set out in the Prime Minister's written answer to a Parliamentary question on March 17, 2003. Essentially this argued that non-compliance with UN Resolution 1441 and previous related UN resolutions provided sufficient grounds for military action without a further resolution. Certainly there were differences of opinion on the need for a second resolution. However such differences are quite common in this fairly new area of the law and a challenge to the Attorney- General's advice does not constitute proof of illegality, whether it comes from another lawer or the Secretary-General of the United Nations"

    In other words, whether the war was illegal is not a matter of fact but a matter of opinion. At the very least the war was legally defensible.

    And to say it caused the death and misery of hundreds of thousands is also disingenuous. Those deaths were almost entirely caused by an enemy deliberately targeting innocent civilians and using them as human shields. And the misery by an enemy determined to destroy anything that made the lives of the people better.

    Labelling this post shite is therefore NOT appropriate but just a sign that you've lost the argument, as I've said before. Thanks again for the confirmation.

    As for Mara's destruction of my first two points I'm afraid this has not appeared on my screen. That makes it rather difficult for me to post a comment, as Im sure you'll appreciate.

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  15. Stan Rosenthal14 May 2009 at 12:48

    I've just found where Mara has posted her responses. Sorry but I was expecting these to be on this thread. It would have helped if she had said where she was posting them for those who are not familiar with how this blog works.

    Never mind, I shall be answering MYTH 2 first since this is about my point 1. As I say there I think it would be better to go through my points sequentially since they are timelined and follow on from each other. It would also be less confusing for the reader who already has enough to cope with from what I have seen of Mara's first two replies

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  16. I've just stumbled across this post by sheer chance, but lookee here, if it isn't my un-friend Stan...

    Stan Rosenthal: You are even more of an arsehole than I'd realised previously. Why don't you spare us the "legal" twaddle and see if you can make a moral case for the Iraq war. Perhaps start by writing an open letter to the Iraqi war-dead and their surviving communities, explaining to them why their slaughter will soon be necessary because of a series of arbitrary agreements made by some very wealthy people, representing various foreign states, each with its own military-industrial complex; date-stamp it as "Sept 12th 2001" and pretend it's been stuck in the post since then... I can't wait to see their faces when they realise their mistake; it'll be like an extra-funny episode of Beadle's About; I expect we'll get an apology for the very unsporting resistance our troops were subjected-to as a result of our innocent inability to explain the pressing need for their country, its people, and much of its uniquely significant history, to be all-but obliterated for power and profit.

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  17. Stan Rosenthal2 June 2009 at 12:42

    Gandhi (what a misnomer!), the moral case for the war was made at the beginning of this thread. It boils down to the war being the lesser of the evils, although I doubt that someone, like you, with such a simplistic way of looking at things, will appreciate the nuances of such an argument.

    Thanks for the abuse, btw. As I said to Scunnert, it's a clear sign that a raw nerve has been struck and that you have no coherent answer to the points being made (as was the case in our encounter at that other site).

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  18. Stan: If you think that's a moral case, you've been reading too much Machiavelli.

    If you remember back to BEFORE Bush/Blair decided to go to war for oil, you'll remember the consensus was that SH was being effectively contained by the sanctions regime (I make no judgement thereby, just point-of-fact). Also the weapons inspectors concluded only that they could not utterly "exclude" the possibility that they had weapons, though they'd found none; a report which resulted in a concerted campaign to discredit the inspectors and the UN at large.

    Regardless of the accuracy of any of these things, there was zero case for war, because there is no case for spontaneous aggression and meaningless slaughter.

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Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison