A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Agreeing with GWB

This will probably inspire a firestorm of protest in the comments, but I actually agree with Bush's comments likening a premature withdrawal from Iraq to the US pull-out from SE Asia - which he thinks was a bad thing.

Like almost everyone on the left I grew up with the idea that the Vietnam War had been a huge folly and an exercise in neo-imperialism.

That was before I ever met anyone Vietnamese and asked them what they thought about it.

Hackney, where I live, is home to the largest community of Vietnamese refugees and their descendants in Western Europe, with community centres such as An Viet (http://www.anvietuk.org) more well known to many Londoners as the home to a wonderful canteen-style restaurant, and the VLC Centre (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia).

I had the honour of serving as a Labour Councillor with Thanh Vu MBE, the Director of the An Viet Foundation, himself a former victim of the Communist "re-education" camps and a "boat person".

He has this to say on the An Viet website about the experience of the 3 million Vietnamese refugees worldwide:

"More than 30 years ago now, the Government of Vietnam made a grave error.
Instead of reconciling the two sides after more than 30 years of war, the Communists set about ‘re-educating’ million of South Vietnamese soldiers, police and experts.
They confiscated property and forced thousands upon thousands of people into so-called ‘New Economic Zones’.
They even turned on the ethnic Chinese, who had been in Vietnam for countless generations!
They forced them to either flee to China or take their chances in flimsy fishing boats on the high seas. Half those who chose the latter option died en route."

From an immediate postwar Stalinist dictatorship that killed and imprisoned countless people opposed to the regime, Vietnam has morphed into a bizarre Chinese-style amalgam of the worst aspects of both communism and capitalism. When I went there in 2004 I had a fantastic holiday but was deeply disturbed by a country that remained a police state, where Communist Party membership buys you privilege, corruption was rampant, free speech and democracy non-existent, but there was an unfettered free market and virtually no free health care or education provision.

Many Vietnamese in the diaspora and in the south do not believe they were "liberated" from the Americans in 1975. They believe that the Americans abandoned their loyal allies just at the point when the war was militarily winnable - because of domestic political pressure - causing the loss of the civil war against the Communists and untold subsequent misery.

The circumstances in Iraq if the US pulls out - note I'm saying the US as I'm genuinely open-minded about whether the withdrawal of the few thousand Brits in Basra will make any difference militarily - would be infinitely worse than the aftermath of Vietnam in terms of bloodshed, not least because it's a three or four sided, rather than two-sided, conflict.

Is the West ready for the moral responsibility of leaving a power vacuum in Iraq - are we really going to salve our consciences about the original 2003 invasion by pulling out and watching the subsequent bloodbath from afar?

Are we ready to accept millions of Iraqi refugees - equivalents of the Vietnamese Boat People?

Are we ready for - quite aside from the fate of the Iraqis - the security consequences for ourselves and our energy supplies of an Iraq that is either an anarchic warzone of ethnic cleansing or where some strongman comes out on top, or the Iranians run the show?

Pulling out might be the popular way to end an unpopular war like it was in Vietnam. But just as in Vietnam that doesn't make it morally the right thing to do.


Blogger Chris Paul said...

There's a story here Luke to to make you moist. Political party cop donations from gun makers. How was this NOT Labour that organised this coup? You are slipping.

10:36 am, August 23, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Luke, are you saying that the Vietnam war was a GOOD thing? That the US should have invaded in the first place? It's kind of germane to the issue.

No one should defend re-education camps, but if US troops had stayed the fighting and carnage would simply have dragged on and on. As it will in Iraq.

Bush's speech was one of the most staggeringly historically inaccurate things I've read, even from a leader as demonstrably stupid and mendacious as him.

11:27 am, August 23, 2007

Blogger Theo Blackwell's blog said...

On the lesson of Vietnam, with read acrosses to the current Iraq situation, I recommend 'Argument Without End' by Robert S McNamara -especially good on the received wisdom in Washington and how that impact decision-making.

11:35 am, August 23, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


The US never "invaded" Vietnam - JFK at first sent military advisers to train the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam (the south), which was a sovereign nation, when they faced insurgency from the North Vietnamese backed VC - which was seeking to overturn the partition agreed at peace conferences after the French were driven out.

The fighting and carnage wouldn't have needed to start if Hanoi had accepted coexistance with the South but then an attractive, prospering country next door is never tolerable for a communist dictatorship as it kind of undermines their model.

11:46 am, August 23, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


just to clarify whether the Vietnam War was a bad thing.

It was a "bad thing" that a communist dictatorship encouraged armed insurection in the neighbouring state.

It was a morally good thing that the US, Australia and New Zealand supported South Vietnam against communist aggression.

The actual conduct of the war was ghastly on both sides.

The victory was won by the bad guys.

11:48 am, August 23, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


you also say that if US troops had stayed the fighting would have dragged on.

But Vietnamisation and troop withdrawal took 4 years (69-73) followed by the South fighting on alone for 2 years (74-75) so even if the US decided to leave now, if Vietnam is the model there could still be 6 years of warfare - but with a victory for the wrong side.

12:25 pm, August 23, 2007

Blogger susan press said...

I have a rather different view on Bush's inane comments.

12:29 pm, August 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke Akehurst said...

"if Hanoi had accepted coexistance with the South but then an attractive, prospering country next door is never tolerable for a communist dictatorship as it kind of undermines their model."

He also said,

"The victory was won by the bad guys"

That if I might say so is a blatent ignorance of the facts.
The Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed in Saigon by Ngo Dình Diem on October 22, 1955, after the Emperor Bao Dai was deposed through a rigged pro republican referendum.
Under the 1954 Geneva Accords, Vietnam was to undergo elections in 1956 to reunify the country. Diem, noting that South Vietnam was not a party to the convention, canceled these. Criticising the Communists, he justified the electoral cancellation by claiming that the 1956 elections would be "meaningful only on the condition that they are absolutely free"
This despite his numerically impossible tally in the 1955 contest.
Coming under pressure from within the country and the United States, he agreed to hold elections in August 1959 to form a national assembly.
However newspapers were not allowed to publish names of independent candidates or their policies, and political meetings exceeding five people were prohibited. Candidates were disqualified for petty reasons such as acts of vandalism against campaign posters. In the rural areas, candidates who ran were threatened using charges of conspiracy with communist sympathisers, which carried the death penalty. Phan Quang Dan, the government's most prominent critic, was allowed to run. Despite the deployment of 8,000 plainclothes troops into his district to vote, Dan amazingly still won and when the new assembly convened, he was duely was arrested.
Diem's rule was authoritarian and nepotistim was rife. His most trusted official was his brother, Ngo Dình Nhu, leader of the Can Lao political party (pro governemnt), who was an drug addict and Hitler admirer (how does that sit with you?). He modeled the secret police's marching style and torture styles on Nazi designs. Ngo Dình Can, his younger brother, was put in charge of the city of Hue.
Neither Can nor Nhu held any official role in the government. They used to rule their regions of South Vietnam with private militas and secret police.
Another brother, Ngo Dình Luyen, was appointed Ambassador to the Britain and his elder brother, Ngo Dình Thuc, was the archbishop of Hue.
His rule was also riddled with family corruption. Can was widely believed to be involved in illegal smuggling of rice to North Vietnam on the black market and opium throughout Asia via Laos. He built up a massive wealth in foreign banks by monopolising the cinnamon trade. With Nhu, Can competed for U.S. contracts and rice trade. Thuc, the most powerful religious leader in the country, was allowed to seek "voluntary contributions to the Church" from Saigon businessmen, which was likened to "tax notices". Thuc also used his position to acquire farms, businesses, urban real estate, rental property and rubber plantations for the Catholic Church. He also used Army of the Republic of Vietnam personnel to work on his timber and construction projects. The Nhus amassed a fortune by running numbers and lottery rackets, manipulating currency and extorting money from Saigon businesses. Luyen (their man here) became a multimillionaire by speculating on the currency exchange using inside government information.
Madame Nhu,(Diem's sister in law) was South Vietnam's First Lady, and she led the way in Diem's programs to reform Saigon society in accordance with their Catholic values. Brothels and opium dens were closed, divorce and abortion made illegal, and adultery laws were strengthened.
Diem was also passionately anti-Communist. Tortures and killings of "communist suspects" were committed on a daily basis. The death toll was put at around 50,000 with 75,000 imprisonments. However his effort extended beyond communists to anti-communist dissidents and anti-corruption whistleblowers.
Diem banned demonstrations, and ordered his forces to arrest those who engaged in civil disobedience.
On June 3, over 1000 protesters attempted to march towards Tu Dam Pagoda. Six waves of South Vietnamese troops used tear gas and attack dogs to disperse the crowds. Finally brownish-red liquid chemicals were doused on praying protesters, resulting in 67 being hospitalised for chemical injuries. A curfew was subsequently enacted.
The turning point came in June when a Buddhist monk, Thích Quang Duc, infamously set himself on fire in the middle of a busy Saigon intersection in protest of Diem's policies. Photos of this event were disseminated around the world, and for many people these pictures came to represent the failure of Diem's government. During this time, Madame Nhu, inflamed the situation by mockingly applauding the suicide, referring to it as a "barbecue".
Diem was over thown in a coup and was executed on the first of November 1963.
Does that sound to you asa pleasant country to have at your doorstep? You like Animal Farm, do you think the animals would have been better off under Snowball? When it comes to governemnts the Vietnamese would have been buggered by both sides no matter how the war ended. Here is another fact if the US did not bother to stick its nose into other countries affairs maybe vietnam's history (and the world's for that matter) would have been a lot less bloody.

1:50 pm, August 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The strange thing for me is I worked with several Cambodians, and I asked them if Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia was good in that it ended Pol-Pot's reign. I asked them to draw a Saddam-Iraq parallel, to see if maybe I was misreading Iraqi sentiment about our invasion. What they said was no. Invading a country never good. I said, what about the killing fields, etc. Said it just made things worse. Take from that what you will, blogger. Gueess you can always find somebody...

3:23 pm, August 23, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

My question for Ravi would be how come 3 million people fled AFTER the communists took over but nor before i.e. during the conflict and southern regime?

3:28 pm, August 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doing what you believe to be the "moral" thing to do, doesn't necessarily make it the right thing to do.

If we intervened everywhere there was pain and suffering we'd have perpetual war. I don't know about you, but the idea of centralising power to perpetually fight these "good fights" is hardly endearing.

Good intentions don't always lead to good results.

3:33 pm, August 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke Akehurst said...

My question for Ravi would be how come 3 million people fled AFTER the communists took over but nor before i.e. during the conflict and southern regime?

A fair point, but I thank God we will never know what murderous intent the south would have exacted if they had won the war.
I really believe the same end result would have occured (ie mass migration etc)
I am not defending the communist regime (or any despotic government)but surely even you can see the interference of foreign powers in a sovereign nation's affairs (not only America, but countries such as Russia and China)just causes resentment and anger. That applies not only to Vietnam but elsewhere. Ho Chi Minh used the close ties the south had with the US to his advantage.
Anonomyus made a sterling point (you should leave your name though, a lot more friendly).
All this bloodshed keeps the arms industry in profit.
If I were Bush I would be very carefull before mentioning the "V word" given his (and Clinton's) involvment in the conflict. Why is it that men who are prepared to send other people's sons to die in a pointless war are the biggest cowards of them all?
The best way to stop evil people coming to power or political prominance is to stop the nurturing of nutjobs (Ho Chi Minh- given US training and logisitical support during WW2, Usma Bin Laden-well documented in Afganistan, the iranian monarchy after 1921- a UK back coup toppling a left wing government- which lead to the despotic rule of the Shah and the islamic revolution,Idi Amin the list could go on).

4:43 pm, August 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, normally I agree with you, but I think this is ridiculous. The Americans pulled out of Vietnam because they had lost. If they had pulled out in 1969 the outcome would have been no different but the lives of tens of thousand americans and potentially hundreds of thousands of vietnamese would have been saved.

Similarly, we are gradually withdrawing from Iraq because we have lost. I can't see the timing of the withdrawal having much bearing on the eventual outcome - it's just a case of how many die futile deaths in the meantime.

5:59 pm, August 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next week on Luke's blog:

"The Great Leap Forward - was it such a bad idea?"


"Dr Shipman, the kind and understanding family doctor I knew"

8:30 pm, August 23, 2007

Blogger Owen said...

I've responded to your post here:


8:39 pm, August 23, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

Problem is, there is no 'morally right thing to do' with Iraq. Whether we stay or leave, the outcome will be the same - continued civil war and eventual partition.

Such are the products of ill-advised, poorly thought out interventionism.

Reform is most successful when it emanates from within. As much as I may like to do so, one cannot impose democracy from outside. That is why iraq does not and is unlikely to have democracy, and the likely outcome of the invasion will be three states, with at least one in alliance with iran, and another causing great destabilisation to turkey.

Its easy to offer cheap 'morality' as does Bush. But it means little in reality.

Anyway, Gordon is preparing for our withdrawal, and about time too. Maybe then I'll rejoin the Labour Party (and just to clarify, I'm certainly not on the left of the party)

1:54 am, August 24, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I'm always surprised by the assertion that "one cannot impose democracy from outside" as this clearly was done with outstanding sucess in the cases of Japan, Italy and Germany.

I don't disagree that all the possible scenarios look messy, but I am concerned that withdrawal would mean more bloodshed and misery, not less.

Would any of the advocates of withdrawal like to describe how they think Iraq would look over the next few years, likely form of government, likely levels of violence, living conditions of the populace, if for instance the US withdrew by the end of this year?

Re. our own UK decision as I said in the post, I'm open minded about whether it is militarily useful to have such a small number of troops in the country - once the level gets much smaller all they can do is protect their own bases and supply lines. Clearly we can't send more as we are over-committed in Afghanistan.

7:54 am, August 24, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

it doesn't make it the wrong thing to do either luke - illogical captain

are the Iraqi's proposing a glorious party "makro card"?

are the two wars all that alike, apart from in being US willy waving?

i don't think i've read such an illogical post for ages luke ...

and what's this in from george lucas:

gwb: i am your imperial father luke

luke: fan-tast-ic, i knew i wasn't like these other guys

9:46 am, August 24, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

sheesh, i've just seen the comparator with japan, germany and italy ...

earth to luke ... do we need WW III now to bring mcdonalds to muslims?

9:48 am, August 24, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke Akehurst said...
I'm always surprised by the assertion that "one cannot impose democracy from outside" as this clearly was done with outstanding sucess in the cases of Japan, Italy and Germany"

Sounds like gunboat diplomacy to me.
With regards to Germany, Italy and Japan.
Germany and Italy were both democracies. Hilter and Mussolini were both elected to the legislature and eventually took power. Japan also had experience of democracy till the rise of the Ultra right.
The major political powers had allowed a blood thirsty maniac come to power in Iraq, you can forgive them for being a little sceptical of our intentions.

11:28 am, August 24, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

Luke, in each of those cases, there was some recent tradition of democracy. The same simply can't be said about Iraq, and you of all people must recognise that the presence of islam (which isn't 'democratic' in the Western sense) makes a huge difference.

Japan is hardly a model western democracy either!

I'm simply not convinced by neo-con intervbentionalism, and frankly, I think the Labour party made a mistake in following that path. I don't expect Gordon to be as enthusiastic, particularly if the Democrats, who he is very close to, win the White House.
I think that whether the US stay in or not, the outcome is likely to be the same. But I do think that only the iraqis can come to a settlement in the end. And I think that will be partition.

12:44 pm, August 24, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't believe that Islam does make the difference. Turkey is a Muslim country and also a secular democracy. Muslims living in the UK play an enthusiastic role in democratic politics. The Kurdish bit of Iraq (though not every Kurd is a Muslim) is largely peaceful and moving down a democratic path. 100 million Muslims in India participate in a democracy.

Democracy isn't a Christian or Western concept - it's a human one.

I'm not against partition but it requires managing - and that requires the presence of a a large and capable military force - if it is not to be accompanied by ethnic cleansing. Also how will the Turks react to a Kurdish state? Would Iranian influence in the south grow even more?

I'm open to solutions that involve Muslim countries or the UN taking on the security tasks the US and UK have, but the militarily capable countries are unwilling and most countries don't have the forces to contribute meaningfully.

1:06 pm, August 24, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, your wee homilies about the experiences of Vietnamese individuals amount to the same cant as 'we were right to do what we did in Iraq becaue Saddam was a bad guy who did bad things to people' (this was of course a retrospective excuse and ignored our culpability in arming him when it suited us).

The mess in Iraq is something we (the USA and UK) created despite all the warnings and protestations (not least from their own professional dimplomatic corps). Now we are be told that 'we' must not pull out because 'we' are part of the solution by staying.

That's self-serving hubris. Yes there is a case that we should not pull out abruptly, but under what circumstances should we stay? We should not, repeat not, do so on the basis that the GWB and the freaks in his USA Adminstration should remain in charge.

Why not simply start undoing the immorality of what GWB (and Blair) did by returning to the fold of International Law through the UN and placing USA and UK forces in Iraq under an negotiated and agreed international leadership?

Of course that is not going to happen - and that reveals much about the continued mindset and intentions of the Bush Administration.

Incidentally Luke, alongside your homilies about the Vietnamese and the West's 'moral responsibility... I have never once hear anything amounting to an apology or acknowledgement from the USA for the appaling, untold deaths and destruction it wreaked upon the Vietnamese poeple through its inudtrial/military machine.

What was it that USA General said? Something like 'that Vietnamese village over there, we just liberated it, yes the one when wejust destroyed'.?

1:10 pm, August 24, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


further up the comments I said about Vietnam "The actual conduct of the war was ghastly on both sides."

US and UK forces already have a UN mandate to be in Iraq - The Multi-National Force (Iraq) remains at the formal request of the Iraqi Government, under a mandate from the United Nations, set out in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723.

2:46 pm, August 24, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

So, Luke, why have political cleavages in Iraq immediately been based on religious and tribal divide, rather than ideology.

The outcome will be obvious.

You simply need to admit that whilst some may have thought that the invasion was just and their intentions were good, the outcome will be far from a peaceful, democratic Iraq. Because a naive assumption that the Iraqi population would embrace Western democracy was assumed.

And, no, I'm afraid that evidence does not point to democratic systems being successful without Enlightenment reform in advance. I am thoroughly in favour of western democracy, but I'm not naive enough to think it can be imposed into premodern situations.

There was no plan for what would happen were the tribal allegiances of sectarianism to predominate. If you were honest, you would admit that this is exactly what has happened, and thet the secular parties have become an irrelevance.

6:05 pm, August 24, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Sorry Luke, WW III is to bring McDonalds to all those currently struggling with US primary, secondary or tertiary imperialism and occupation. Assuming the Chinese are left alone - taking the tertiary model - the rest needing sorting out would be catholics in central and south america and er, muslims.

Holy war for GWB. Make no mistake.

8:19 pm, August 24, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke - in your desparation to remain staunchly supportive of our efforts in Iraq you are now willing to swallow the lies of the US hard-right: namely that Vietnam would have been won only if the US had kept going a bit longer.

The idea that only a few more million bombs needed to be dropped, or that only a few more 100,000 Vietnamese needed to die, for the conflict to have reached some sort of satisfactory conclusion is ridiculous.

I agree that there is much to relate Iraq to Vietnam. Too much faith in the potential of overwhelming fire power. Too little planning into how to win hearts and minds. Tragic deaths of young Western soldiers in an unpopular war with little obvious point. Horrendous civilian casualties under-reported in the Western media.

Your dogmatic and seemingly uncritical support of the war in Iraq does our party no favours. I'm sad to say that the pragmatic thing to do would seem to be to organise a withdrawl of troops ASAP.

10:22 pm, August 24, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I notice that no one yet has responded to my suggestion that they describe what Iraq might look like after a US/UK withdrawal?

What system of government will it have?

What level of security?

What level of violence?

Any answers? Any particular arguments why Iranian or Turkish influence would be preferable to US influence?

Unlike in Vietnam the US isn't dropping millions of bombs or killing 100,000s of civilians. The only bombings going off and 99% of the killing of civilians are the responsibility of the opponents of the US. If they stopped the violence the US could withdraw tomorrow.

9:28 am, August 25, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

As others have said, the scenario in Iraq will be a nightmare whether or not troops stay.

The comparisons with Italy, Germany, Japan are a bit daft really. All were relatively industrialised and developed countries when we "intervened" in them - and these interventions were defensive too, unlike any of GWB or Blair's ill-advised adventures.

And is it too obvious to say that "our values" of democracy and enlightenment cease to be so when they're imposed from the outside theough considerable violence. There are few things less democratic and enlightened than that.

11:03 am, August 25, 2007

Blogger Owen said...

"Unlike in Vietnam the US isn't dropping millions of bombs or killing 100,000s of civilians. The only bombings going off and 99% of the killing of civilians are the responsibility of the opponents of the US. If they stopped the violence the US could withdraw tomorrow."

Luke, I entirely support your right to formulate arguments in favour of the occupation of Iraq - but you simply cannot be allowed to get away with such ludicrous, utterly fantastical claims that have absolutely no basis whatsoever in the real world we (or the rest of us, in any case) actually inhabit.

According to the peer-reviewed study for the Lancet medical journal published in 2006, there have been over 650,000 "excess deaths" since the invasion in March 2003. Of these deaths, 31% (or over 200,000) could be directly attributed to coalition forces or airstrikes. Car bombs were held responsible for less than half the number deaths directly attributable to occupation forces - i.e. 14% (or just over 90,000 deaths). The biggest single cause of death was found to be gunshot wounds (of unspecified origin) - i.e. 56% (or 366,780).

Your claim that it is opponents of the US who are responsible 99% of the killing is a figure you've just plucked out of thin air which has no factual basis of any kind. In reality, Western forces have *directly* slaughtered over 200,000 people - whether that be through the hundreds of air strikes the US has carried out in civilian areas or shootings of innocent civilians (whether that be at checkpoints or Haditha-style massacres or whatever). With this sort of unrestrained violence, there can be little surprise that repeated surveys in Iraq have demonstrated majority support for armed resistance against occupying troops.

Furthermore, the vast majority of the rest of the violence is occurring because of the presence of Western troops. The lifeblood of the jihadist movement in Iraq is the presence of US troops.

As for violent resistance movements - it is fairly obvious why they attract mass support. Take Fallujah: following the invasion of Iraq, there was a large demonstration against the US presence. The US army then opened fire against unarmed demonstrators, killing over a dozen; there was then a subsequent demonstration against this Bloody Sunday-style massacre - which was itself massacred; and following further US abuses, support for jihadist groups grew until they held sway over the whole city - which was then reduced to a pile of ruins by the US army.

You may argue that there is a moral difference between the US troops and al-Qaeda bombers because the latter aim to kill civilians while the former don't. In my opinion, this distinction is meaningless. While the US don't go out of their way to kill civilians (except in the case of massacres such as Haditha), they drop bombs and shoot bullets in areas and situations where they know, inevitably, large numbers of civilians will die. Because they have much greater firepower than, well, anyone else on earth, in practice this means they end up slaughtering far more than anyone else.

Once again, you are completely within your rights to argue in favour of continued Western occupation - but you hardly serve your cause by simply making things up.

12:43 pm, August 26, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely your position Luke here - a fairly reasonable one - means you've been hanging around with your local AWL possee again?

7:56 pm, August 27, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke I don't think that you are getting the point with regard to 'what would Iraq look like if USA/UK withdraws'.

Firstly, we have lost any moral right to detemine, or even substantially influence, the post-invasion scenario. We do not even have basic grounds of competency on which to base any right to influence the outcome: the USA went into Iraq on the basis of a lie and inept intellegence and got the entire adventure wrong on every account; current evidence indicates that it continues to do so.

Secondly, I repeat my recommendation that the USA/UK make their forces and/or military resources available for policing duties under a UN negotiated and agreed international leadership. This would offer some sort of credible prospect of a gradual creation of some sort of stability that, hopefully, would pave the way for a series of more permanent settlements; but it will take a long time.

This stability-then-settlements scenario will never be possible whilst the USA, UK assisted, post-invasion occupation continues in its present form.

10:57 am, August 28, 2007

Blogger Bob Piper said...

The one valid comparison with the Vietnam scenario that luke doesn't mention is the doomsday theory which the US used to maintain both wars. If Vietnam fell to the communists then the whole of Indochina and eventually the world, will fall to communism in a domino effect, said Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon.

If the US pull out of Iraq the whole Middle East and the world will be under threat from Islamic fundamentalism, said Luke's mate Dubya yesterday.

Thank you Ravi for spoiling Luke's populist vague generalisations by resorting to the dirty underhand trick of relying on the facts. Very enjoyable.

10:08 pm, August 28, 2007

Blogger Shamik Das said...

Oh dear. The Saddam Hussein fan club appear not to have learnt any lessons from the Iraq conflict. None whatsoever.

Bush's speech to which Luke refers was superb, as were his latest pronouncements, in which he laid down the law to Iran - quite a contrast from the cowardly retreat espoused by Menzies Campbell. I know who I'd trust to defend our freedom, democracy and liberty.

How long before a "we love Ahmadinejad" pro-Tehran march?

1:10 am, August 29, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Sham, simple question: do you advocate military action (ie war) against Iran?

12:43 pm, August 29, 2007

Blogger Shamik Das said...

Unless the madman steps back from the brink, the answer is yes.

The real question is, which side will you and your anti-war allies be on?

The thought of Ahmedinejad in possession of nukes, primed to unleash them on Israel, is a sickening prospect to all who believe in freedom.

1:14 pm, August 29, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shamik said
"The thought of Ahmedinejad in possession of nukes, primed to unleash them on Israel, is a sickening prospect to all who believe in freedom. "

Well it is good to see you are back, have'nt heard you ranting for a while, and I was...well worried.
Now to the subject at hand. People like you and Luke assert the need for us to maintain our nuclear deterrent. If you were iranian and were in full knowledge Israel has thousands of nuclear weapons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordechai_Vanunu) pointing at you I might think differently.
The fact is democracy is something that cannot be imposed from upon high, especially if the cost of such "diliverance" can be measured by how many body bags return home.
Do me a favour, stop being such an moron.

2:51 pm, August 29, 2007

Blogger Shamik Das said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:08 pm, August 29, 2007

Blogger Shamik Das said...

A great Right-wing argument from Ravi there! Screw the Iraqis, it's all about how many of "our boys" come home alive.

Now, if I was Iranian, I'd be quite supportive of outside help in overthrowing a regime which sentences 14-year-old girls to death by hanging from cranes in public squares.

Where is the outcry from the sisters?

3:12 pm, August 29, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Well Shami, if you can provide reliable imperical evidence that there's majority support within Iran for their own country to be militarily attacked by the US and Britain, then I'll defer to you.

In the meantime, I'll carry on supporting Iranian trade unionists and other civil society progressives in the country currently being squeezed on all sides, and whose cause is not remotely helped by your moronic and bloodthirsty sabre-rattling.

5:17 pm, August 29, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shami, perhaps the lesson of Iraq is that the best way to encourage the formation of a democratic society is not always through crude military means. By an extension of your argument we need to invade China as that is the only way to liberate those people from a tyrannical authoritarian regime. Whether the Chinese people want to be liberated in such a way, or whether such methods would work, seem to be irrelevant to you. Anyone who disagrees with your apparently uncritically pro-war position is labelled loony left or uncaring right. I look forward to the day when you volunteer to serve in the army and fight these wars yourself rather than relying on other men and women to do the work for you. If you believe in these causes so strongly you could easily put your money where your mouth is and demonstrate your willingness to test your ideas in reality. Otherwise you just come across as a slightly ridiculous figure.

9:34 pm, August 29, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shamik when you rant out that:

"Oh dear. The Saddam Hussein fan club appear not to have learnt any lessons from the Iraq conflict. None whatsoever."

Yopu really should reflect on how that says far more about you and what you say than it does about any so-called 'Saddam Hussein fan club'.
Those of us who opposed the war have no fears about such silly an peurile name-calling from the likes of you who tend to forget that the UK and USA were Saddam's biggest enablers when he was building up his tyranny. - whO is it that has learned nothing Shami, pleae think on a bit about that.

11:17 am, August 30, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for Bush’s ‘superb’ speeches… see these extracts from Adrian Hamilton’s incisive article in todays Independent on Bush’s frightening and counter-productive ineptitude. The ending is a sober thought for the UK:

“Bush's increasingly tenuous hold on reality:

Besieged by events, cast down by the opinion polls, isolated by the loss of his closest advisers, it would not be surprising if this particular US President was now losing it…

The more likely explanation for Bush's increasingly apocalyptic tone, however, is in some ways more worrying. It is that all eyes in Washington are now exclusively directed to the domestic audience with the added sting that the White House is under the control of a president who does not need to seek re-election and has the will to go down like a western hero, all guns blazing…

The more America makes Iran the special object of its fear and loathing, the more opinion in the Muslim street, Arab as well as Iranian, makes a hero of it. No wonder President Ahmadinejad – a sort of Hugo Chavez of the Middle East – laps it all up, countering every accusation from Bush with deliberately provocative speeches proclaiming US failures in Iraq and Iranian successes in developing nuclear technology.
Given the state of the country's finances and Ahmadinejad's desperate firings and contortions in the economic sphere, the Persian populist would be in deep trouble at home if it were not for the outside pressure. Like Bush, he needs a foreign threat to keep his head above domestic water.
Which leaves Britain stuck right in the middle, twisting and turning much as the Democrats in Washington are. London wants out of Iraq but doesn't want responsibility for the carnage that might ensue. Brown and his colleagues would dearly wish a Democrat in the White House but still have to cope with this Republican with nearly a year and a half to go. Worse, as they read Bush's latest outpourings, is the knowledge that this is a President who is becoming more divorced from reality and more confrontational with each week.”

12:49 pm, August 30, 2007

Blogger Shamik Das said...

Squirm all you like. The facts speak fo themselves. Saddam is dead, in spite of your objections.

Instead of calling on all those who disagree with you to join the army, since you're fundamentally opposed to removing vile, dictatorial regimes, why don't you go and try living in Tehran, Harare or Havana; try organising protest marches and criticising the governments over there. Go on, I dare you ...

3:21 pm, August 31, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

More bollocks from Sham,

"Instead of calling on all those who disagree with you to join the army, since you're fundamentally opposed to removing vile, dictatorial regimes"

The armed forces role is to defend the homeland against acts of aggresssion upon us, not to export "democracy" to other countries.
I should have known a coward like you would want keep fighting this war to the end by the spilling of other people's blood. You make me sick.

12:44 pm, September 03, 2007


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