“Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.” JFK
We all know when a child asks a parent for money to buy something, or to get the actual item itself, it naturally has high expectations that the parent will fulfil the wish. At the top of the child’s mind is the object that it wants – a bike, a doll, a game, or whatever it may be – and it keeps on asking ’till it gets an acknowledgement, a confirmation or an assurance that it will happen. Now let’s suppose that the parent does not have the full money at the time of request, but if with sincerity the father or mother says “I can give you this much now, save it, and later I can give you the rest“, the child will be appeased and happy that the parent is responding in a reasonable manner and though the item is not yet obtained, the negotiations have been amicable and the answer is fair. If, however, the parent out-rightly rejected the request of the child without any justification it will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the child and questions of acceptability in his or her mind. Now, a step worse than this would be if the parent rejected the request on grounds of ‘lack of money’, only shortly thereafter to buy something for him/herself! One would wonder “Where is the fairness?” or rather, “Where is the love?” Being rejected without explanation is one thing, but being lied to is simply wrong, for it leaves a dark hole in the heart of the betrayed.
This is precisely how many in the nation of United Kingdom (as well as large parts of the rest of the world including the United States) feel in relation to Tony Blair and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan: a bitter taste has developed because their collective voices were not heard when making earnest requests to not follow the gun-ho attitude of George Bush. Contrary to the confident impressions being made by Mr Blair, the collective sentiments were proven to be correct: there are no wmd’s. So the people’s concerns – just like that of a child in the above example – were, and are, absolutely valid; at the time they felt that the image being presented was distorted, as a result we wanted to be satisfied with proper evidence, a thorough examination of the situation and legal protocols in place primarily with UN-sanctioned military action as the very last resort. Moreover, our initial shock and disbelief over the validity of the claims of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (wmd’s) and the subsequent realisation of the truth were never settled, at the very least through an unconditional apology, and so in the end we’ve all simply being lied to and are to continue coping with ‘a gaping hole in our combined heart’.
The consequences of this deception has been utter devastation of sovereign states, killings of hundreds and thousands of people, reversal of economic growth and trade, impediments to public services including education, health, transport, judicial as well as the others, a rise in unemployment, depression, familial loss, and all sorts of chaos and mayhem.
Wasn’t this the objective anyway some may ask? Well certainly some would say this could have been part of it, as one of the major criticisms was the lack of post-invasion development. And what are the pay-off’s for the metaphorical ‘father-figure’ and his friends? Well, we have come to know about the lucrative developmental, security and other contracts and of course, the access to oil.
This kind of self-interest, biased action is going on all the time, just take a look at NATO’s course of action in Libya despite the same turmoil in Yemen and Syria, but of course Libya has the oil reserves. Similar accounts were leaked regarding Mr Weritty and his arms/defence negotiations in the comfortable surroundings of Dubai with businessman Harvey Boulter, who was led to believe that Mr Werritty was ex-Defence Secretary Dr Fox’s official advisor. Mr Boulter was also paying Mr Werritty’s London lobbying firm Tetra Strategy thousands of pounds a month for help to secure contacts in defence. A company also set-up by the same in 2005, the year Dr Liam Fox became UK’s shadow defence secretary, was called ‘Security Futures’, which boasted that it promoted “a better understanding of asymmetric ‘security’ risks that the UK faces“.
So what exactly is this, securing economic interests over Public interests – I’m a tad confused – for it goes against the British schooling and the home-grown values I’ve had all these years. And how befitting to do it in a Muslim country – isn’t that one of the home-land of those awful, pitiful, treacherous terrorists….? Oh, and supporting the Libyan rebels, well who would have thought?! Good heavens! It’s just like we supported, along with the CIA, Osama bin Laden against the Russians. We know there was a never a link between the twain: OBL and Saddam. Yet they both suffered a humiliating death, and now we can add Gadaffi to the list. All of them one time favourites, indeed allies, finally turned against, pounced upon and annihilated, Halleluiah!
Am I speaking rather bluntly? Well yes, as I’ve been asked to, not least because for the past decade the ‘Asian’s / Arab / Muslim-named’ individuals (including white-folks) have all been broad-brushed as terrorists by the media, governing parties, establishments and inter-connected institutions. This is precisely what the images were depicting in the wake of the 7/7 bombings in London, 2005. Television news reports showed images of Muslim women dressed in traditional clothing walking around the streets of British cities and shopping in open-markets. Clever shots of their feet scurrying around were shown as though they could not be trusted – “they’re probably carrying suicidal bombs under their garbs!” was the sinister projection. In my view, juxtaposing such images with terror alerts was a just shoddy journalism; I wouldn’t even call it sensationalism.
Are we forgetting the numerous ways in which these so-called terrorists actually contribute towards the welfare of British and other societies around the globe: think for a moment of the teachers, pharmacists, doctors – whom you entrust your lives to – pilots, technicians, lecturers, police officers, shop-keepers, traders, carers, artists, writers, musicians, developers, engineers, governors, bankers, taxi-drivers, accountants, sports people, and the list goes, everyone, more or less, trying their best to grow in life and raise their families in the best way possible, some paying for it with their lives whilst honourably defending the community at large. It doesn’t mean there aren’t issues and problems, indeed we are all human beings, and issues will be forever here. But to tarnish the good reputation of whole religious, faith-based and ethnic groups with preposterous slurs is not intelligent.
And this is what worries me most about such sub-standard practices; it is the level and quality of intelligence that we process, perceive as true, begin to shape our beliefs around and consequently base our actions upon. I’m now going to give two accounts of this. One on the governmental level, and the other the popular or mass level and help us to see the connection between the two.
Intelligence – or the lack of it
As Remembrance Sunday comes and goes and the debate of wearing the poppy arises, yet again, let us remind ourselves that we are still living the sad legacy of invading Iraq and Afghanistan, actions that could be instantly stopped by a complete withdrawal of British troops from these places as the reasons for presence there have long-evaporated. Plenty of dissenting sentiments have been voiced over this, most notably near the beginning of the propaganda, prior to invasion, as the very seeds of planning in the minds of Blair and Bush as far back as 2002 became clearer to those around them. The ongoing Chilcott Inquiry is due to publish its report in early 2012 which is claimed to criticise the style of ‘sofa-government’ that Mr Blair chose in order to exclude some senior cabinet ministers from critical decisions which were being handled as ‘under-the-table’ deals. It will also show how the invasion was a for-gone conclusion regardless of protocols, intelligence or legitimacy.
I recently visited the library in Cheltenham and came across a number of interesting articles and books. One of them was of the late Mr Robin Cook, Leader of the House of Commons and former Foreign Secretary, who resigned from the Cabinet in objection to the coming war in Iraq; his resignation speech prompted the first standing ovation in the history of the House. In “The Point of Departure” he recounts his personal interactions with then Prime Minister Mr Blair and covers his personal disillusionment with the whole case for war. In short, Mr Cook says ‘Britain has got to be seen on side with Blix. You will never carry British opinion with you if it is we who are seen to be sidelining the work of the inspectors.’ Hans Blix himself, Chief Weapons Inspector, shrewdly sensed what Washington wanted from him: ‘They would say I was too compliant with the Iraqis when in reality they meant I was not compliant enough with what the US wanted.’
Mr Cook further adds, “They had been given plenty of cause to come to doubt their own claims. The scepticism about the September Dossier which has surfaced from within the UK intelligence community is a pale reflection of the raging controversy in the US. There the case against Iraq had been subcontracted to the Office of Special Plans which had been set up by Donald Rumsfeld to find the right kind of intelligence. The official agencies who had been marginalised by this development struck back. The Defense Intelligence Agency reported that there was ‘no reliable information’ that Iraq possessed or was producing chemical weapons. CIA veterans subsequently protested to the President at what they described as “a policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions”.
In his epilogue (pp. 359-60), Mr Cook wrote: “Neither he (Mr Blair) nor Britain will be able to put the war on Iraq into the history books unless we recognise that mistakes were made. This is not simply a matter of putting the record straight. The reason why it is important to face up to mistakes is that only then is it possible to learn lessons from them. In the case of Iraq it is essential we learn the lessons that will prevent Britain ever again committing troops to military action on the basis of faulty intelligence.”
With the huge loss of life, many question the integrity of our leaders, or the soundness of their judgement, when they enter oil-rich countries (now Libya) on any claimed basis: humanitarian, political, alliance-based, democracy-enforcing, and so on. We are all used to the rhetoric. Perhaps it’s high-time to do the sensible thing and put a stop to this kind of madness; I know in some quarters they are asking to call Bush and Blair to a War Crimes Tribunal to prevent similar uni-lateral imperialistic action. In the memories of Mr Cook and Dr David Kelly, in addition to all the level-headed people who resigned because they were facing stubbornness – and not to mention the thousands upon thousands of vulnerable Iraqi and Afghani men women and children, as well as the many brave British and American troops who have paid with their lives, this may not be such a bad thing to do…
Faulty intelligence, or deliberately lying and risking so many lives, is plainly wrong. Continuing to lie, deny, and refuse to admit mistakes puts one further into the wrong: it is tantamount to murder itself. There has to be justice, as best as we can humanly obtain, for the sake of our humanity’s future and as a consequence, the perpetrators of any unjust war must be punished.
Hans Blix was scathing about the useless character of the intelligence fed to him: ‘I thought, “My God, if this is the best intelligence they had and we find nothing, what about the rest?”‘
And one of the key pressing aspects, as Mr Cook sincerely points out, is related to correction: “This is turn leads to the gravest of political questions. The rules of the Commons explicitly require ministers to correct the record as soon as they are aware that they may have misled Parliament. If the government did come to know that the State Department did not trust the claims in the September Dossier and that some of even their own top experts did not believe them, should they not have told Parliament before asking the Commons to vote for war on a false prospectus?”
British and Good Western Values
So here in Cheltenham is where I came nearer to understanding the mechanism of information being fed to ministers and their subsequent policy-formulation. Here is also the historical home of Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) where hundreds of workers are busy monitoring all the airwaves, phone calls, sms text messages, cyber-space, internet links, emails, social media sites, Bank accounts, etc. for information that maybe of concern to national security and potential leads that possibly enhance or undermine it. I’m personally happy to have such a huge and important infrastructure as part of our heritage. The major problem is when messages, signals and movements are mis-interpreted, as demonstrated in the above devastating examples at individual, national or international scales.
Further, it does not help one iota to our society if supplementary British institutions follow suit of similar corruption by adorning an attitude of blanket dis-regard for verification of the truth over false notions; entertaining poor speculative thought or fanciful imaginations; or worse still, pursuing objectives for economic, personal and vested interests.
If attempts can be made by a select, corrupt few to mislead whole nations into believing that there is an imminent threat of some sort on one occasion, then this can happen over, and over again. And it is exactly what is happening in principle across the board in many sectors: private, public, community. Power, earned or conferred, is preventing proper judgement, fair analysis and reasonable action. We like to hail time-distilled British standards and values such as transparency and accountability but find ourselves at the opposite end in practice to what we profess with our mouths, particularly when we have power, influence or resources ready to be exploited at our fingertips.
And when there are people not at such privileged ends of the spectrum making a jab at decency, we witness the collision of class, structure and inequality out-pouring into the streets. Here I’d like to draw upon the recent riots in Britain, which haven’t occurred like that in many a decade – since 1981 to be precise. Much analysis has been given to it and some of it, as presented in the accompanying link to the article by Peter Oborne is pretty much on the mark: “Our politicians – standing sanctimoniously on their hind legs in the Commons yesterday – are just as bad. They have shown themselves prepared to ignore common decency and, in some cases, to break the law. David Cameron is happy to have some of the worst offenders in his Cabinet…. These double standards from Downing Street are symptomatic of widespread double standards at the very top of our society. It should be stressed that most people…continue to believe in honesty, decency, hard work, and putting back into society at least as much as they take out… But there are those who do not. Certainly, the so-called feral youth seem oblivious to decency and morality. But so are the venal rich and powerful – too many of our bankers, footballers, wealthy businessmen and politicians… The culture of greed and impunity we are witnessing on our TV screens stretches right up into corporate boardrooms and the Cabinet. It embraces the police and large parts of our media. It is not just its damaged youth, but Britain itself that needs a moral reformation.”
The point here is absolutely clear as the light of day: the little thieves on the streets as we saw them in the riots – regardless of the so-called assigned class they actually belong to (lower/middle) – cannot be blamed for the moral degradation of our society when the ‘father-figures’, whom they are required to look upon, are acting as big thieves themselves!
These self-styled privileged ones are actually the ones who are really poor. They have all the opportunities surrounding them to make a positive and lasting contribution towards the welfare of our societies but prefer to put personal gain ahead of Public Interest. It is this corruption, I strongly believe, that is decaying the very moral-fibre of our society, not the lesser actions of those who ‘have-not’ – who want to close the gap of the inequality of the capitalistic structure albeit through petty crime and wanton destruction. Though is not an exoneration of their individual responsibility, they do have the role-models to help justify their actions and shape their values of greed, fraud, deception, violence and corruption. The only distinction is that the small thieves had a one-time chance to grab what they could, and some got punished, whereas the big thieves have sustained opportunities to exercise wilful corruption and immorality often with impunity, until that is, it gets ridiculously out of proportion.
So when corruption begins to get both systemic and trans-sector it becomes seriously dangerous. Take the media and police as two key pillars in our society. Both were in collusion in the phone-hacking debacle that led to resignations of key personnel at the very top of these institutes respectively. Whether it was journalists or police officers, each had a moral and public responsibility to do the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. This also goes for the counter-terrorism support these institutions are lending to the government of the day. If we, as a nation, have been giving credence to the police and media for their accounts of the terrorist threats on mainland Britain due to their moral authority well it’s time it needs to stop. And not only because the phone-hacking issues continue to unfold and show how ominous and immoral this systemic corruption and fear-mongering is, but because the voices of dissent, scepticism and questioning of the official versions of events have been going on at least since Lady Diana Spencer’s mysterious death to the 9/11/01 attacks in New York.
Take Tony Benn for example, a man who entered the Commons in 1950 and with Edward Heath held the record for post-war service as an MP; he has held four cabinet posts and has twice contested the leadership of the Labour Party, of which he has also been chairman. He writes his memoirs in one of his publications called Diaries 2001-2007 – More Time for Politics, in which he shows two interesting pictures after page 112: Tony Blair meeting George W. Bush “The Conspirators” and Dr David Kelly “Victims of War” (along with the people of New York).
As I skim Mr Benn’s memoirs, I notice many anecdotes of interest. One that has caught my eye is an entry on Friday 4 November (p. 275) where he inputs “David Shayler, the former MI5 officer, spoke at a Stop the War meeting in Hammersmith this evening. He was the first speaker, and he devoted himself entirely to trying to establish that 9/11 was a fraud – the buildings would never have collapsed, the Pentagon was penetrated probably by a bunker-busting bomb, not by an aeroplane. The trouble about the security services is that they live completely in a conspiratorial atmosphere. I don’t know that it registers much with the public. Probably, in their heart of hearts, most people think the attack was genuine, but I don’t rule anything out.”
On Wednesday 9 November, 2005 (p. 278) Mr Benn states: “Heard Blair on the radio saying, ‘I don’t understand how Labour MPs could have voted against the ninety days’, and of course it’s true, he didn’t understand. He doesn’t understand anything – he doesn’t listen to anybody!”
A year earlier on Thursday 11th November 2004 he wrote “Yasser Arafat had died, the Palestinian leader, and his body was flown back with full military honours from Paris to Cairo for the funeral….Of course Arafat was hated by Sharon, and distrusted and disliked by Bush. The coverage of his death, you know, made him out as a terrorist, whereas Sharon is a prime minister – it’s so disgusting!”
I won’t give a detailed account of Mr Benn’s statements and views, but will finish his contributions with snippets of a rather interesting interaction he has with the former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. On the afternoon of Sunday 2 February (p. 91) shortly after 4.30pm, a filmed interview commenced between Mr Benn and Saddam Hussein:-
TB: Mr President, may I ask you some questions. The first is: does Iraq have any weapons of mass destruction?
SH: Most Iraqi officials have been in power for over thirty-four years and have experience of dealing with the outside world. Every fair-minded person knows that when Iraqi officials say something, they are trust-worthy. A few minutes ago when you asked me if I wanted to look at the questions beforehand, I told you I didn’t feel the need so that we don’t waste time, and I gave you the freedom to ask me any question directly so that my reply would be direct. This is an opportunity to reach the British people and the forces of peace in the world. There is only one truth and therefore I tell you, as I have said on many occasions before, that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction whatsoever. We challenge anyone who claims that we have to bring forward any evidence and present it to public opinion.
TB: I have another which has been raised: do you have any links with al-Qaeda?
SH: If we had a relationship with al-Qaeda and we believed in that relationship, we wouldn’t be ashamed to admit it. Therefore, I would like to tell you directly, and also through you to anyone who is interested to know, that we have no relationship with al-Qaeda.
TB: May I broaden the question out, Mr President, to the relations between Iraq and the UN, and the prospects for peace more broadly, and I wonder whether, with all its weaknesses and all the difficulties, whether you see a way in which the UN can reach that objective for the benefit of humanity?
SH: The point you raised can be found in the United Nations Charter. As you know, Iraq is one of the founders and first signatories of the Charter. If we look at the representatives of two superpowers – America and Britain – and look at their conduct and their language, we would notice that they are more motivated by war than by their responsibility for peace.
I can understand the protection of certain personal, corporate and state interests when done in a dignified and satisfactory manner. However, it’s when one picture is presented to suit personal prejudices – whilst the reality is completely something else – that I have a natural difficulty swallowing such version of events whilst at the same being made to accept it as morally authoritative.
I fully respect the tasks which some of our leading establishment workers have to do; the information they need to sift through, and accordingly make sense of, is often complex. One such person was George Tenet, who, at the most controversial and challenging times in recent history, had the lead role in the “most important intelligence organization in the world”. As Director of Central Intelligence appointed in 1997, he had the onerous task of dealing with high turbulence across Arabia and Asia with imminent threats back towards the coastline of both sides of the Atlantic. In his account, “At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA”, he recounts the difficulty of assessing the ‘truth’ and provides dramatic insight and background on the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and the true context of Tenet’s own now-famous “slam dunk” comment regarding Saddam’s WMD program; as well as the CIA’s critical role in an administration predisposed to take the country to war. Through it all, Tenet paints an unflinching self-portrait of a man caught between the warring forces of the administration’s decision-making process, the reams of frightening intelligence pouring in from around the world, and his own conscience.”
Everyone appreciates a person who does his or her level best to deliver trustworthy, honourable and reliable work. We all want to give, and be given, credit for upholding such principles and standards. It is not the difficulty of the job pertaining to the ‘man in the arena’ to borrow Theodore Roosevelt’s term given in his speech at the Sorbonne, “Citizenship in a Republic” (April 23, 1910). Rather, it is the deliberate attempts to jar the public perception from the true picture by distorting reality to suit political and personal bias.
In “On War” (first published in 1832), Carl von Clausewitz observes: “The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently – like the effect of a fog or moonshine – gives to things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance.”
Despite the ‘fog or moonshine’ there are people who are reasonable and true-to-principles who come around to seeing the reality, and at times it can happen once they are out of the ‘arena’. Such is the case with former MI5 chief Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller who believes dialogue with terror groups, including al-Qaida, requires courage but ‘is necessary’. There is a question she said at the time she was head of MI5, “whether the UK supped with a sufficiently long spoon”. She made it clear in an earlier Reith lecture that, in her view, the activities of MI6 were wrong. Subsequently, and interestingly, the current terror threat level in the UK has been decreased from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’ based on criteria of intent, capability and time-scale.
Whether they make a statement whilst they are in the arena or out of it is not the point. But crucially, the point is for rationally-minded people who are concerned about the veracity of truth over political expediency to voice their views with confidence, in the best manner available, at the most appropriate time. This, I believe, is how the systemic corruption in our institutions will begin to gradually fade out. And as tough as might be to stay within the system whilst taking such a position, people like Clare Short, ex-Secretary of State for International Development, would serve British interests better, in the longer term, whilst helping to steer, amongst other aspects, the Foreign Policy towards just causes. This is what she wrote about in her book, “An Honourable Deception?” in an attempt to change the way British politicians and politics is conducted. Incidentally, in February 2004 she was also remarkably involved with whistle-blowing the fact that GCHQ workers had allegedly tapped into ex UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s phone calls and felt strongly that he needn’t be spied on.
Such authentic leadership, as with Clare Short, lends itself better, in my view, to containing the various ills and harms that spring in, around and on our society. Dignified anti-war voices of millions shouting “Not in our name!” ought to be listened to respectfully with direct impact on policy and governmental action. After all, this is the democracy we want others around the Middle East and elsewhere to adopt isn’t it? As stated earlier, it is not too late. British troops can still be withdrawn peacefully today. The imperialistic, ‘forward-presence’ strategies of the G. W. Bush and allying neo-cons need not be sustained. Why are they? I am still wondering about this!?
I feel that the imbalance in our society will not be re-dressed until proper, un-corrupted leadership is in place in every corner of our society. There is absolutely no fairness in bailing-out private banks to the tunes of billions of pounds and then saying there is no money for healthcare, or unfairly increasing student tuition fees under the guise of equality. This simply reeks of impropriety, incredulousness and insults the common intelligence. No wonder people have once again taken to the street and are saying “enough is enough” as witnessed in the world-wide Occupy (Wall Street) Movement aimed at “Reclaiming the Economy and Recreating Our Democracy”. On both sides of the Atlantic, and indeed across the world, people are taking a stance to the economic and social inequalities.
It does not surprise me that the spirit of the Arab Spring is spilling over to Europe. Though the student fees issue has less to do with direct Foreign Policy as it does internal state affairs, people are making quick and valid assessments to the flow-through liability. On the States side, one sociology graduate student Jonathan Gomez has said “This is one of the few times where corporations are sitting on the most money they have ever sat on in the history of this country; we pay more than we ever have and we get less.” Here in the UK another one called Glynn told BBC News he had come to protest against a “corrupt government” which was fuelled by “corrupt money and bankers”.
I sense that the people at the top, who love to dish-out punishments to the lesser privileged and blame them for the inadequate behaviours they demonstrate from time-time, are not really paying attention to their own code of conduct.
Why, for instance, has it taken so long for the likes of Rupert Murdoch, who has been allowed to crash public opinion in his own favour for several years, without being challenged for his views on local or global issues, only now being called somewhat to account? It is clear that he has amassed billions in personal wealth during the process of public manipulation, collusion with corrupt establishment members, and throughout he probably had a significant part to play in recent global military wars!
Just how and why do we come to trust these sources and people who purport false reports? Why should people who have names such as Donald (Rumsfeld), Dick (Cheney), Paul, (Wolfowitz), George (Bush), Tony (Blair), Ian (Blair), Paul (Stephenson), John (Yates), Andy (Coulson), James (Murdoch), etc. be trusted? Solely because their names are corresponding to your own, or they dress in a similar style or drive the same car, is that it? Or that they might drink in the ‘local’ near you, or their children may study at the same school/college or university as yours? This simply is not good enough; such types of people have repeatedly broken Public trust by either squandering Public wealth, embarking on slur campaigns, manipulation of evidence, fear-mongering or, as in some cases, directly responsible for the deaths of innocent lives.
The best of British and Western values are being eroded, as we have seen in the recent riots, which may be put down to ‘years of liberal dogma‘, but more-over, in my view, it’s due to the lack of authentic, versatile and proper leadership at the helm of our public and private institutes. Even the hasty Hutton Inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death was left totally questionable with one person, who has thirty years’ experience on the legal bench, commenting on the in-complete investigation: “As it has been left, the whole scandalous affair is a complete travesty”.
Unfortunately, once again, the political and inter-connected legal meandering is continuing to upstage common sense with the parliamentarians again undoing their own commitment to fair democratic processes as in the Babar Ahmed debacle. Held for more than seven years without trial, the man is not being given a hearing in the UK despite over 140,000 signatories on the government e-petition, which is a record for the little amount of time – a matter of a few weeks – which it was given to amass the required total of 100,000 signatures for his matter to be debated in the main chamber in the House of Commons, just as it is required. One of the worst and most dangerous precedence we’ll set for our legal system, and the future of our democracy, is to allow the extradition of this man to the US to take place based purely on allegations related to thought-crime without evidence provided for the British Publics’ scrutiny.
The People’s Demands
As a British-born, Western-developed individual, I am accustomed to many of our inherently good traditional values we espouse: suspend judgment whilst establishing the truth, seek compromise, punish the unlawful, amend mistakes, make apologies, forgive and forget the past, be honest and upright, honour the guests, compete fairly, be confident, and so on. Indeed, one of the adages we often hear quoted is “What goes round comes round”.
So what is clear to me is that people, around the world in both the East and West, are venting their anxieties through a number of means – protests, petitions, vigils, occupy camps, strikes and various types of campaigns – about the deliberate cover-up’s, falsification of reports, victim harassment, fear-mongering, shoddy journalism (and at times immoral and unwarranted sensationalism), the uncanny manipulations, the corruption, greed, the squandering of Public wealth, the vast number of deaths and unnecessary destruction, all which must be limited as much as possible through appropriate ministerial, legal, commercial, industrial and public checks and balances.
Intelligence, both raw and refined, must be valid. It must be coherent, accurate and thorough. Where inconsistencies and gaps in information may exist, there is a requirement for a rational, balanced and longer-term, nuanced view on matters so that situations arising are read in the best and fairest light possible. Whatever the colour of any presiding government – be it Blue, Red, Yellow, Green or any combination of them, it is important to weigh information objectively, and to present it in terms of the values listed above.
Policies must be dependable, fair and equitable. Actions, military or other, must be justified, consistent and legitimate.
Journalists must have freedom of press. But the symbolism, language and tonality must not attempt to smear any group, particularly without a shred of real evidence available. Inflammatory remarks aimed at jabbing, mocking or teasing whole groups must be curtailed. Further, they must be held accountable to industrial regulations.
People must be listened to. A truly open arena must welcome public debate; this is enlightened democracy. Those working in the interests of national security at every level should come out from behind the silos and join the Public debate, airing views in an amicable manner, thereby adding real value back to the genuine discussion.
The brief accounts given earlier of Mr Cook, Mr Benn, Mr Tenet and Ms Short, amongst others, though written a few years before, just go to accentuate the very difficult tasks on the agenda of our Western governments, and their related agencies, in dealing with the ‘war on terror’. I know that we are living in troubled and ‘interesting’ times. But the situation is not helped by moral corruption in our own institutes. It is not helped by the 99% of the population having their concerns ignored.
Such corruption is precisely what has caused a stir in the Middle East region for the unprecedented Arab uprising, which clearly demonstrates to us here, that there is a new way of dealing with people’s expectations whilst maintaining obligations towards the Crown or country, as well as coordinating strategies for peace and security, both nationally and internationally.
As most people are, I too am personally dedicated to realising the real potential of world peace by mitigating the risk of terror-type threats through the best and most productive means available. In my view, this must be based on solid values such as trust, veracity, accountability, credibility and legitimacy. Political expediency alone must not sacrifice these values, or the hard work done to establish good relations and trust will be wounded, or worse, undone, as witnessed by the now widely-regarded infamous neo-con policies post 9-11 (2001).
Work must be conducted with a real yearning to serve the Public’s interest and must be credited as much as possible when done so. Yet we have seen above how many an expert – Mr Blix, Mr El-Baradei, Mr Tenet, Mr Cook and Dr Kelly, and others of similar kind, have been overseen despite their years of insightful experience, honesty, objectivity and patriotic loyalty. The business of ‘sexying-up’ dossiers, or falsifying the truth to fit with particular bias should be the stuff of crime and espionage novels. We know that people at the very top of our governments have got it plainly wrong on many occasions, most notably in Iraq.
Of course there are a multitude of people serving the greater good, God and country and are either risking or dedicating their lives for such purposes. It, however, does no favours if the actions of our governments are far removed from solid intelligence and sincere motives. This leaves a foul atmosphere, a bitter taste in the mouth and an awkward feeling in the pit of the stomach.
The general Public – including sincere cabinet ministers – sense clearly if they are being misled. The awful and outrageous action to invade Iraq / Afghanistan in absence of UN Security Resolutions is a recipe for disaster, as we have clearly witnessed through the immense death tolls through-out that region. This can have further grave repercussions on our shores which we want to minimise anyway!
So whether it is Remembrance Sunday (Armistice) or not, we must always remember that unless there are justifiable and legitimate grounds for military action, troops should not be risking their lives, families should not be losing their loved ones, and innocent civilians need not die. One always questions why those who send the youngsters and their captains off to the battle fields – the politicians – are not there themselves? And if money is short in the treasury, with the economy having such a bad time at present, with more Public cuts imminent, why not pull the troops out and save the money – and precious lives??
The deaths of Robin Cook, Dr David Kelly, John F Kennedy et al. ought not to be in vain. Moral leadership must be aware of public perception and sensitive to their concerns. We must thereby do our utmost to live by Golden Principles: Truth, Validity, Legitimacy, Consistency and Justice.
Both policy and public policing need to be real, justified and fair. Legitimate security concerns should be approached with consistency in mind, principles in the heart and equality in action. Media and Police – key institutes of our society – ought to be working to impede real criminal targets and threats, not engendering baseless fear. Bankers and other’s in the top so-called ’1%’ need to get closer to the ground and really feel the needs of others.
In such way, I feel, we can have responsible leadership who don’t “steal the truth“ but rather offer it freely for they are principled and prepared to stand by it. In this manner, the ‘children’ need not feel any guilt towards what the ‘parents’ are doing for rather than having ‘a gaping hole in our combined heart’, it is filled with trust, love and honesty, as beautifully and practically shown by a genuine father-figure such as Nelson Mandela. A befitting tribute to his legacy is the life-like statue placed in the capital with the words of then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone summing up Mr Mandela’s exemplary life in these words:
“Long after we are forgotten, you will be remembered for having taught the world one amazing truth, that you can achieve justice without vengeance. I honour you and London honours you.”
For Truth, Justice, Success and Contentment,
Asad R Khan