Gordon Brown’s British chauvinism and the Iraq war

This video from Britain is called Ben Griffin: Former SAS, Banned speech to Anti-War Rally.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Patriot games

(Friday 07 March 2008)

IF patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel [as Samuel Johnson said in the eighteenth century], then Prime Minister Gordon Brown must be one step away from growing a pencil moustache and donning a smoking jacket.

Since he came to power, he has fallen over himself to shove his flag-waving patriotic credentials in our collective face.

With his obnoxious pronouncements about “British jobs for British workers”, his knee-jerk defence of the Proms against mild criticisms made by one of his own ministers and Friday’s demand that all Britons voice their “gratitude” for the sterling work carried out in foreign climes by our brave servicemen, you could almost believe that he’s the reincarnation of Winston Churchill.

“I encourage the local police to back up our armed forces so that not only can our armed forces wear their uniforms in public but they should have the gratitude of the British public for the work they do,” he thundered at a Downing Street press conference.

Brown was responding to reports that disgruntled members of the public in Peterborough had been giving uniformed personnel from the nearby RAF Wittering base a hard time over their supposed involvement in the Afghan and Iraq wars.

One RAF source declared that the abuse had come from “yobs,” although, if this is the case, they are unusually articulate yobs.

One unnamed Peterborough resident told reporters that, “if the armed forces really did ‘a great deal for this nation,’ they would be respected more in public.

“Working as the instrument of a lying government and doing its filthy, oil-inspired murderous deeds for it is hardly worthy of pride.”

This doesn’t sound like the beer talking. It sounds like a considered critique of the armed forces’ role in carrying out the imperialist dreams of Mr Brown and George Bush and is entirely understandable.

However, while stopping short of sharing Peterborough Tory MP Stewart Jackson’s claim that, “if an airman in uniform was to walk through the streets of Peterborough today, I think people would stop and clap and cheer,” the Morning Star does not endorse individual incidents of abuse.

The Stop the War Coalition has rightly pointed out that “anger should be directed at politicians and the government who took us into these disastrous wars” and has also made the point that many service personnel are strongly opposed to the wars – which put them at far more risk than Mr Brown – but are prevented from speaking out by military discipline.

Those that leave the services to avoid this will not escape however.

Former SAS soldier Ben Griffin, who put his career on the line to reveal Britain’s complicity in rendition and torture, has been slapped with a Ministry of Defence gagging order, which was extended on Friday until April.

His offence was to call for Mr Brown, Tony Blair and other senior ministers to face charges of violating international law.

Mr Griffin is right and so is Stop the War. The best way to voice public disgust at what has been done in our name is not to call individual airmen names, but to mobilise en masse on March 15 and let this warmongering government know that it will be held to account for its crimes.

The expected cost of British military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq this year has almost doubled to more than £3bn, MPs warned today: here. See also here.

Scotland and the Iraq war: here.

CND to rally at Aldermaston: here.

USA: Winter Soldier hearings about Iraq war: here.

4 thoughts on “Gordon Brown’s British chauvinism and the Iraq war

  1. Exhaustive review finds no link between Saddam, al Qaida

    By Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers Mon Mar 10, 7:08 PM ET

    WASHINGTON — An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida terrorist network.

    The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam’s regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East , U.S. officials told McClatchy . However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

    The new study of the Iraqi regime’s archives found no documents indicating a “direct operational link” between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report.

    He and others spoke to McClatchy on condition of anonymity because the study isn’t due to be shared with Congress and released before Wednesday.

    President Bush and his aides used Saddam’s alleged relationship with al Qaida, along with Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, as arguments for invading Iraq after the September 11, 2001 , terrorist attacks.

    Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld claimed in September 2002 that the United States had “bulletproof” evidence of cooperation between the radical Islamist terror group and Saddam’s secular dictatorship.

    Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell cited multiple linkages between Saddam and al Qaida in a watershed February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council to build international support for the invasion. Almost every one of the examples Powell cited turned out to be based on bogus or misinterpreted intelligence.

    As recently as last July, Bush tried to tie al Qaida to the ongoing violence in Iraq . “The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children, many of whom are Muslims,” he said.

    The new study, entitled “Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents”, was essentially completed last year and has been undergoing what one U.S. intelligence official described as a “painful” declassification review.

    It was produced by a federally-funded think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses , under contract to the Norfolk, Va .-based U.S. Joint Forces Command.

    Spokesmen for the Joint Forces Command declined to comment until the report is released. One of the report’s authors, Kevin Woods , also declined to comment.

    The issue of al Qaida in Iraq already has played a role in the 2008 presidential campaign.

    Sen. John McCain , the presumptive GOP nominee, mocked Sen. Barack Obama , D-Ill, recently for saying that he’d keep some U.S. troops in Iraq if al Qaida established a base there.

    “I have some news. Al Qaida is in Iraq ,” McCain told supporters. Obama retorted that, “There was no such thing as al Qaida in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade.” (In fact, al Qaida in Iraq didn’t emerge until 2004, a year after the invasion.)

    The new study appears destined to be used by both critics and supporters of Bush’s decision to invade Iraq to advance their own familiar arguments.

    While the documents reveal no Saddam-al Qaida links, they do show that Saddam and his underlings were willing to use terrorism against enemies of the regime and had ties to regional and global terrorist groups, the officials said.

    However, the U.S. intelligence official, who’s read the full report, played down the prospect of any major new revelations, saying, “I don’t think there’s any surprises there.”

    Saddam, whose regime was relentlessly secular, was wary of Islamic extremist groups such as al Qaida, although like many other Arab leaders, he gave some financial support to Palestinian groups that sponsored terrorism against Israel .

    According to the State Department’s annual report on global terrorism for 2002— the last before the Iraq invasion— Saddam supported the militant Islamic group Hamas in Gaza , Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command , a radical, Syrian-based terrorist group.

    Saddam also hosted Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal , although the Abu Nidal Organization was more active when he lived in Libya and he was murdered in Baghdad in August 2002 , possibly on Saddam’s orders.

    An earlier study based on the captured Iraqi documents, released by the Joint Forces Command in March 2006 , found that a militia Saddam formed after the 1991 Persian Gulf war, the Fedayeen Saddam, planned assassinations and bombings against his enemies. Those included Iraqi exiles and opponents in Iraq’s Kurdish and Shiite communities.

    Other documents indicate that the Fedayeen Saddam opened paramilitary training camps that, starting in 1998, hosted “Arab volunteers” from outside of Iraq . What happened to the non-Iraqi volunteers is unknown, however, according to the earlier study.

    The new Pentagon study isn’t the first to refute earlier administration contentions about Saddam and al Qaida.

    A September 2006 report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Saddam was “distrustful of al Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al Qaida to provide material or operational support.”

    The Senate report, citing an FBI debriefing of a senior Iraqi spy, Faruq Hijazi , said that Saddam turned down a request for assistance by bin Laden which he made at a 1995 meeting in Sudan with an Iraqi operative.


    Earlier report from the Iraqi Perspectives Project:

    Click to access ipp.pdf


    Filipino women lead LA march to end Iraq war
    By PASCKIE PASCUA, Philippine News
    03/14/2008 | 03:35 PM

    LOS ANGELES — Frontlined by Filipino women, local activists here brought back fiery political militancy to International Women’s Day celebration last weekend with a protest march-rally along historic downtown calling for an end to Iraq invasion and the continued “victimization of women in war-stricken countries.”

    Close to 400 protestors and supporters, mostly from the state’s Filipino and Hispanic communities and dressed in traditional costumes, marched from Olympic Street in downtown’s main Broadway thoroughfare – passing through historic structures, including the Orpheum, Bradbury Building and the former Million Dollar Theater. A rally ensued at Pershing Square on 5th Avenue and Hill Street.

    The protest action, which coincided with similar rallies in New York and San Francisco, also blasted the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for its alleged soft stance in regards “prosecution of military rapists, sex abusers and traffickers.”

    “What better day to have this show of protest and to build up for the anniversary of the war next week,” Annalisa Enrile, national chair of the co-organizing Gabriela Network (GABNet), told Philippine News.

    “For too long the liberation of women has been used to legitimize the war. We stand together to declare that no more will our just causes be used for such unjust actions.”

    “A majority of those killed (in the war) have been women and children,” says a GABNet statement. “Ironically, the Bush administration used women’s rights as one of its justifications for invading Afghanistan and Iraq, yet it is clear that women’s rights are being systematically eroded in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

    “Thirty to 45 percent of servicewomen have been sexually harassed and/or attacked by US servicemen,” adds GABNet, whose members from different parts of the city, Irvine, San Diego, and Santa Barbara attended the march.

    “Women have been the backbone of the anti-war movement since the war broke out, yet they are rarely mentioned in the media. It’s time to change the invisibility of women in the anti-war movement!”

    “Women from all walks of life are marching to let their voices be heard,” says Jollene Levid, a Filipino member of the women’s advocacy group, Mariposa Alliance. “We are coming together to make sure there is no mistaking that women are tired of the impact of militarization on women and our families.”

    “We wanted this day to be an expression of women’s militance and also of women’s creativity and imagination,” says Maureen Ivy Quicho, one of the event’s Filipino organizers.

    Hispanic rap and hip hop artists Guerrilla Queenz and Mystic, among others, provided musical performances.

    “Women of Philippine ancestry are taking the lead on this (that) makes our community and organizations proud,” adds Enrile. “As Filipino-Americans, we are taking our rightful place in the political discourse of the United States, on issues that impact our lives on a daily basis.”

    “We march for Nicole, for the woman who was recently raped in Japan, and we march especially for the Southern Philippines that has experienced continuous militarism,” Enrile said before the crowd.

    “Nicole” is Suzette Nicolas, alleged victim of a 2005 rape by an American serviceman inside a moving van in Subic, a former US naval base.

    On February 18 this year, another Filipino woman told police in Okinawa that she was raped by a US serviceman. The rallyists enjoyed the support of the City Council of West Hollywood and its Mayor John L. Duran.

    In Manila, President Arroyo launched two community entrepreneurship programs for women, called Hataw (Harnessing Appropriate Technology to Assist Women) and Power (Projects for Women Entrepreneurs), to observe the Women’s Month Celebration on Women’s Rights.

    “It is an essential marker of human rights that all men and women be free and equal not just before God, but before the law and the judgment of society,” she said.

    Hataw seeks technology-based solutions to community-based problems, in general, and lack of women’s economic opportunities, in particular. It will mesh local knowledge system with modern technology to create value added products and services out of available and abundant resources in the area.

    The Power program serves women entrepreneurs who need additional capital infusion as well as bridge financing. – Philippine News


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