First things first: I am sorry I haven't posted recently. I've been rather busy on both work and leisure fronts but also taking some time to digest the McBride scandal and the budget ramifications.
Correct me if I'm wrong but in today's media coverage of the end of the British Army's combat mission in Iraq there seems a distinct lack of analysis into the machinations which took them there in the first place. Of course, I support and admire the soldiers who had to do that horrendous job and they deserve a good showing in the media. But today there was precious little - if anything - about our last Prime Minister, the media and the intelligence services and how they coalesced to shore up a pack of lies and distortions in order to invade Iraq. It was a disgraceful episode in modern British history and the people involved should be held up for opprobrium. The only trouble is that the media - apart from the Guardian, the Daily Mirror and a few pockets at the BBC (remember, that was when the Blair-sycophant Andrew Marr was head of political reporting) - collaborated in deceiving the public by playing up Saddam's 'threat' and minimising important dissenting voices, such as weapons inspectors and reiterating and expanding on Tony Blair's falsehood-packed speeches in the run up to war. Some few journalists have apologised for this; most haven't. Perhaps that explains the strange and deafening silence.
In that odd period leading up to the outbreak of war I was pro-invasion, mainly because I had begun to see that, many honourable exceptions aside, a large section of the organised anti-war brigade was composed of pious and under-informed students; Marxists who, as the far-Left always do, felt no ideological objection to jumping into bed with the new villains on the block, extreme-right-wing Islamic extremists and their pals who formed the third part of the stop the war crowd. Add to them the usual ragbag of conspiracy theorists, hippies, crypto-Jew-haters and tin foil hatters that still constitute the 'alternative scene' today. There were high-profile members of this crowd. Ian McKellen was in the Guardian in Jan 2003, I remember (I have a flashbulb memory of the moment - London was on high-terrorist alert and I was on the Tube going to the opening of a play I'd written), saying that he'd have appeased Adolf Hitler, 'because there's always got to be a better way than a war'.
So I heaped scorn on that lot. However, there was a one problem: the antis were correct on one central point - the case for war was false, a fabrication of Saddam Hussein's WMD capability. But Blair's new Labour had most of the press and tv in its pocket in those days and he got his war, a war most British people didn't want. That pack of lies got a lot of people killed and though I don't want to sound like George Galloway, I believe without doubt that Blair and Alistair Campbell should have ended up in court over the affair.
The insult added to the injury of this episode was that the government that railroaded the Army into the war then set about stabbing it in the back by consistently failing it logistically, a situation that continues to this day and which has caused the death of a lot of British soldiers one way and another (See Brown's decision yesterday to send only half the troops asked for in Afghanistan). An army officer of my acquaintance was very candid to me about Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007: "When it started we were up for it - we were bored. But then they never backed us up properly and now we've had enough. The Ministry of Defence is a disgrace."
Read this Standpoint article by a Min. of Def. mole for a snapshot of that Ministry in action.
It is only the Army that comes out of this with any honour. Blair's now earning 8,000 dollars a minute on the lecture circuit and telling the Pope how to run his organisation.
I'll close with a classic Anthony Charles Lynton Blair quote from around the time of the Gilligan scandal:
"I only know what I believe."
Just the sort of thing you'd expect a criminal to say.