2

So … Donald Trump eh?

I wrote my first ever article about Donald Trump yesterday. It’s hard to know what is actually going on with him and his supporters if you a: don’t live in America and b: tend to only hear very anti-Trump opinions. I attempted to be as objective as you can be with someone like that and read his campaign policies to get an idea of what he wants to do with his time in office. I got the policies from politiplatform.com and some don’t appear on his official website, but they are all based on things he has said. Obviously, people are getting quite hysterical about him and it’s hard to tell what’s actually going to happen, but from the looks of it, things are likely to get worse.

Read my full article here. 

It hasn’t even been a month yet and already the immigration ban, ongoing commitment to the Mexican wall and refusal to fund foreign organisations which even /mention/ the word abortion has got a lot of people quite understandably scared, and judging from some of his policies and statements things are going to get scarier. Is anyone from America? What do you think of Trump? Are you scared? Do you support him? What on earth is goin on?

 

0

The dark side of Australia’s history

Slightly darker reflections on Australia posted on my travel blog.

theflyingvegetarian

I’m staying in a place with a TV! Not wifi mind you, but a TV which has around 20 ever repeating  channels. I hadn’t seen any TV programmes since being here until the day before yesterday, and whilst it’s been nice for the evenings I miss Netflix and the internet like hell. When did TV get so terrible? When they realised no one watches it anymore? Who knows.

Anyway, last night I did see a good programme. It was a televised debate on ‘whether racism is destroying the Australian dream’, and as an English person who doesn’t know a lot about how it is here, it was really interesting. We have similar debates, although with different wording, in the UK.

I’ve always kind of assumed Australia was a pretty racist place. I guess coming from London, which is thankfully quite diverse and mostly cohesive, and the fact that when I’ve…

View original post 811 more words

1

Thoughts on Syria

This has been a pretty intense week. After a ten and a half hour debate in the house of commons on Wednesday the UK government voted in favour of extending air strikes to Syria and contributing to a bombing coalition with the US and France in that country. After the decision was broadcast, a lot of people took to social media to voice their opinions. I have personally seen far more comments against the motion than I have for, but it would be wrong to say that public opinion is unanimously or extremely against the strikes. Public opinion is never unanimous, and not everyone takes to social media to voice their opinions. There are a lot of arguments on both sides, and both are right in parts and wrong in others.
The idea that military action should never be an option is frankly un-realistic, and some people seem to have bought into the hype surrounding this vote and decided that it means the UK will personally start dropping thousands and thousands of bombs on innocent people. This is an overstatement. The UK is contributing a small number of air crafts to an existing operation, and it has basically been admitted that our contribution is unlikely to make a significant difference, they are also meant to be targeting Daesh only and avoiding civilian areas.  They are not trying to target civilians and they claim that the RAF has not killed a single civilian during the already existing operation in Iraq, in reality this is very hard to prove because of the sheer depth of destruction in this region and dubious sources, and we may never know for sure if this is true or not. We also do not know and may never know how many civilians are going to be effected or killed by extending the operations in Syria.
Syria is already being heavily bombed by different, overlapping forces and there doesn’t seem to be much proof that it is helping to end or even significantly hurt Daesh, but if there was a proper ground force and a realistic chance at a peace settlement it would be a helpful to weaken them, scatter them and help cut off their resources. As we do not have these things, I do not feel the bombing campaign is the best course of action, and I have not been convinced by any of the frankly half baked, rushed or non-relevant arguments by the MP’s or those who support this.
Some things came up in the debate, including Cameron’s assertion that bombing Syria will somehow make us safer in the UK and all the hype about Hilary Benn’s speech. There is also a very important issue no one seems to be thinking about, which is very worrying as it is extremely relevant to our security and the future of Syria.
I’m going to attempt to address these, but this is a very complex and multi-faceted issue and I’m not going to pretend to know what the best course of action should be. It does worry me that these points don’t seem to have been acknowledged adequately by parliament.

Firstly, the idea that bombing Syria will make us safer does not make sense to me. And the reason for this is simple. Although Daesh currently has its headquarters in Syria, the attacks that happened in Paris were carried out by those in Paris, not in Syria. The people who carried out the attacks may have been to Syria, they were in touch with people in Syria, but they were born in and residents of the EU. So although people who support Daesh and subscribe to their views are likely to be in touch with people in Syria, and as we know hundreds of people from our own country have travelled to, and worryingly back, from Syria, if attacks happen in this country they are very likely to be carried out by people already here, and therefore bombing Syria will not stop their ability to carry out attacks on our countries, and is likely to make ‘revenge attacks’ more likely, as well as potentially so called lone wolf attacks, by people inspired by but not directly connected to Daesh.
There is another reason as well. It is not just extremists who dislike our respective governments and the actions they have carried out in the past and continue to carry out now. There are thousands of people who hate the very notion of religious murder and the whole idea of Daesh who also hate our government and  their previous actions in the Middle East. There are plenty of people who see the war in Iraq as nothing more than a cold, calculated war crime and believe that those who were involved are murderers. And there are also plenty of people who disagree strongly with the decision taken on Wednesday, because they believe it is to do with oil and our governments collective greed. These are non radicalised and often peaceful people who hold these views. These are not limited to extremists. The reason Daesh’s propaganda works is because some of it is based on truth. Not the idea that there is some apocalyptic crusade in which they are fighting, and not the idea that murdering innocent people is going to result in some heavenly reward. But we do have a complicated, long running and often nasty history not just with the middle east but with most places around the world. This is not because people in our countries are abnormally evil, but because human history is full of people doing horrific things to each other all over the world. There is no way to excuse the murders these people have carried out in Europe or abroad. These people have murdered thousands within Syria and continue to stone, torture and execute any dissenters or anyone who even vaguely strays from their vision of Islam and their strict rules on behaviour. They have also filled mass graves with all the people they decided not to rape. And they have and continue to carry out horrific attacks outside of Syria, including our neighbors in France. These actions can never be excused; as human action goes these are among the most evil it could be and I hope everyone reading this is under no delusion that this is the case. But that does not mean that our countries actions over the last twenty years were any less terrible, that innocent people have not died during these ‘liberation’ wars. The ‘west’ are at least partly responsible for the hell that Daesh was born out of. This is by no means the only factor, but it is a factor, and until we stop ignoring our past mistakes we cannot hope to beat  this propaganda. There is also the fact that these people want to be martyred, and they want the west to commit atrocities because it furthers their cause.
This does not mean military action is not an option, but it does mean we have to be more careful when applying it and ensuring that it is part of a comprehensive plan, not just war for the sake of looking like we are doing something.

Secondly, Hilary Benn’s speech was really not all that. In terms of rhetorical devices and the art of public speaking, it wasn’t bad. He had a good use of tone, he applied several effective rhetorical devices and he had good presence. He would have done any debating club proud. But the actual words he said did not offer anything new to the debate, in fact in terms of addressing the issues at hand he failed on several accounts. He played it in such a way that everyone could agree with it without him actually having to say anything of note, and it worked very well for him. His analogy with ‘facism’ was effective because it invoked our feelings about Nazism, but it did not address the issue. This is not the same situation as it was during the second world war not least because warfare has changed a considerable amount. This is not fighting them on the grounds, seas and skies, and fighting a clear army with equal footing, this is dropping a few bombs a week from a great hight and adding slightly to the destruction of a country.
Most of his speech concerned the need to fight Daesh in general. No one was disputing that we needed to take action against them, the issue at hand was whether contributing air strikes, and a small number of air strikes at that, is the right approach to tackle them, not whether we should fight them at all. And he does address that where he says: “Look at how their military capacity and their freedom of movement has been put under pressure. Ask the Kurds about Sinjar and Kobane. Now of course air strikes alone will not defeat Daesh, but they make a difference because they are giving them a hard time and it is making it more difficult for them to expand their territory.”. I find that pretty weak, because whilst it may slow them down, it does not mean they cannot regain the territory fairly quickly without ground forces to stop them and as we have seen in the campaign that is already happening whilst they have been stopped in some areas, they have gained territory in others. Without an effective ground army to keep them from regaining this territory, bombing will at best have very limited success.
His mentioned the ‘ground troops’ that we are relying on to hold the territory being bombed “But I tell you what else we know: it’s whatever the number – 70,000, 40,000, 80,000 – the current size of the opposition forces mean the longer we leave taking action, the longer Daesh will have to decrease that number” is also not a strong statement, in fact it highlights how little we know about these troops we are relying on, especially as they are very likely to have their own agendas. Some of these fighters are fighting for democracy, and some for their right to their own country, and some are doing very well and establishing free societies within that country, but others are not. If we train and equip these people, it is quite likely if we are able to defeat Daesh someone else will easily be able to take their place. The PM has basically admitted that some, who knows how many, are from Al Qaeda, the people we spent the last ten+ years fighting. There are many interests at work here, and I think it is extremely naive to think we can unite them all and control them, especially if they are not sure what we are offering them at the end of all this. And his statement “We are part of a coalition of over 60 countries standing together shoulder to shoulder to oppose their ideology and their brutality.” is something I’m really not convinced about. I’ve tried to find a list of every country involved in this ‘coalition’, and so far I have found around 24 countries with varying levels of involvement, as well as an array of local forces within the region. If anyone has any information on the other 36 countries apparently involved please let me know, otherwise I fail to understand where this figure has come from.
It was not a bad speech, but I do not believe it, or he, deserves the hype.  I do not feel he gave a convincing argument for  whether the UK contributing to air strikes would make a significant positive contribution to this war.  He did attempt address these points, although I do not believe he did so very well, but he spent far more rallying everyone up by making statements that are both easy to agree with and largely empty.

The third and perhaps most pressing point is that this war is far more complex then the MPs made out on Wednesday. It is not a case of a united country being invaded by Daesh that will go back to normal once they are removed. The civil war was not started because of Daesh, Daesh was just able to capitalize on it because of the chaos that was already happening. And the civil war will not stop with their removal. There are many differing and often un-compatible interests in Syria, and it is far more complex than it sounded during the debate. President Assad has most probably killed more Syrians than Daesh have, and many Syrian people have fought for years to remove him. So when and if we can defeat Daesh, there will be a few options, and none of them are ideal. Firstly, we could say that our sole aim was to defeat Daesh and now we will withdraw military action, in which case the chaos is likely to continue and a similar group will sooner or later have the opportunity to emerge, or that Assad will regain power (in which case see point three). We could go against Russia and say that we will continue to fight, and therefore fight Russia to remove Assad, which is likely to anger Iran and Russia and could potentially lead to World War Three. Wars have started for less. Or we could side with Russia and turn the country over to Assad, which is probably the most likely plan, which would be a betrayal of the Syrian people who have spent years in a hellish war. To say all of that was for nothing and that things would be set back to how they were before this all started is almost guaranteed to turn these people against us, and out of all the possible scenario’s the fact will remain that we will have proved to the world we only care about those who directly effect us and are perfectly happy to work with murderous dictators and turn a blind eye to their domestic policies as long as they are friendly to us. Some people are comparing this to Iraq, but it is not the same. It is not a case of us invading a country for no reason and removing a dictator with no end plan, many people in Syria have already risen up against Assad. We are not enforcing this from our comfortable plushy offices overseas, many people in Syria have fought for this for years.

There is no easy answer to this issue, all have the potential to be very messy and unpleasant, and I am not sure anyone really knows how to deal with it  if and when it does come up. What I do know is that by rushing into an air strike on Syria we have thrown ourselves into a much bigger conflict than we would like to think about, and the assertion that it is hardly an issue because the borders are not recognized by Daesh is not the point. The point is that the situation in Syria is not the situation in Iraq, and now we have committed ourselves to something I am not convinced any of the MP’s really understand. I am not saying military action is the wrong approach, and at some point it would probably have been necessary. But I feel they should have spent far longer thinking about the immediate as well as the future consequences and thought up at least the beginnings of a solid plan before engaging these air strikes. The Vienna talks are intended to solve this issue, but I can’t see that happening any time soon, and until they do the situation remains uncertain with or without Daesh. This was not just extending the war. This was much more than that, and to say it is not is to lie to the public.

 

Further reading:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-air-strikes-cartoon-sums-up-the-problem-with-the-international-coalition-against-isis-a6755521.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/us-air-strikes-iraq-isis-minimal-impact-pentagon

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12032102/Awful-though-it-seems-working-with-Assad-may-be-the-only-option-in-Syria.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/12/02/jeremy-corbyn-warns-uk-fa_n_8700172.html

http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2015/12/heres-the-hilary-benn-syria-speech-transcript-in-full/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/russia-and-france-will-co-operate-against-isis-but-vladimir-putin-and-francois-hollande-at-odds-over-a6750781.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/03/syria-assad-question-means-a-common-front-against-isis-is-still-a-long-way-off

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34981848

4

In defense of the Poppy Appeal

The Poppy Appeal has been a bit quieter in London this year. Last year I remember seeing at least one poppy seller in every tube station and in most shops; we even had a little poppy donation box in our office. This year they seem a lot fewer and far between, and due to the fact I only ever seem to see them when I have absolutely no change and/or am running for a train, I only just got mine today. This is only the second year I’ve bought a poppy; I used to be very against any kind of ‘glorification’ of war and treated things like the Poppy Appeal and Help for Hero’s with suspicion and disdain, so I can see where a lot of the negative response comes from, although I no longer agree with it.

I’ve seen a lot of articles, status’s and shares about how bad war is, about how the appeal is being hijacked to create support for unpopular and illegal wars, about how war under any circumstances should be completely avoided. That peace is perfectly possible if people would just stop fighting each other, and that it can start with us on our little Island. And in some respects, I agree with them. War is not pleasant, and the wars we have had so far this millennium have been ridiculous. The war in Iraq was a complete waste of life, money and time. We went into a bad situation, killed a bunch of people and made everything 10x worse for the people who lived there. The war was hasty, it was based on lies and it was utterly hypocritical. America built Saddam Hussein up in the 80’s, supplied him with weapons, and then tried to destroy him all the while dealing with and often funding other tyrannical dictators. Hussein was not a good man, but neither are a lot of the dictators we choose to fund rather than bomb. The Iraq war was terrible, and I see no reason why it is ‘unpatriotic’ not to support every single war the government decides to put us through. You should not support a war without knowing the facts in the same way you should not automatically reject conflict based on over-arching principles that do not take circumstances into account.

It is really important to remember that the army was not responsible for the war in Iraq. The army does not decide of their own accord to invade a country; the government sends them. Soldiers sign up for the army, not for the individual war, and they cannot be blamed for the governments decision. And yes, it is perfectly true that some soldiers are not nice people, that some of them do mistreat prisoners and even civilians. That some do commit cold, brutal murder.  But the army, like any other group of people, is not homogeneous and is going to have good, bad and okay people in it,  just like any other sector. Some people who join the army would be annoyingly patriotic who really believe in fighting for their country, others may have joined for a variety of reasons. The army itself is a pretty good employer; you can do apprenticeships, you get to travel, you would have chance of promotion based on merit and the army appreciates skills that would not be necessary for many office based jobs, such as physical fitness. It is also a route to gain respect and social status for people with limited options, and the army will actually pay for your education and offer you enrichment courses. You also get to be outside a lot, learn a lot of new skills and be challenged in a way you wouldn’t get from many other jobs. A small number of people probably do join the army because they have violent tendencies, but there are many, many other reasons to join.
Even if I believed world peace was possible, I still think the army should remain intact as to lose it would be to lose a major employer, and even in the event of world peace they should remain to deal with things like disaster relief and potential zombie apocalypses. The Poppy Appeal is not just about soldiers, although it does a lot to help those who have been effected by war. It is also there for their partners, their kids and their loved ones. Ex soldiers are often in a very bad position because it may take a while to become re-adjusted to civilian life even without emotional/physical war scars, and I believe they have just as much right to help as any other vulnerable group.  They should not be seen as super human, but they should not be seen as sub-human either. They deserve help if they need it, and that is what the Poppy Appeal does.

I don’t think world peace is possible, at least not at the moment. And whilst some wars are hasty, badly planned and based on invalid reasons, some wars are necessary. That is not to say these wars are not horrible, that people won’t suffer, but that some can, in hindsight, be seen as necessary in the long run and end with a better, or the potential for a better, situation then they started with. The obvious example of this is WWII, and that’s not to say there are not arguments against it. You would be perfectly valid to suggest, for example, that the war pushed the ‘final solution’ forward and that the Nazi’s sped up their death camp plans prematurely in response to the war and the fear that they wouldn’t be able to ‘finish their work’. This can’t be 100% proved, but is likely to be at least partially true. However, the fact is that the Nazi’s were already killing the ‘unfit’, i.e the mentally and physically ill, prior to WWII, and they would have continued this regardless of the war. After failing to find a country that was willing to take all those they found racially abhorrent, it is very likely they would have developed the ‘final solution’ in any case. There is also the fact that eugenics, which includes the belief that those deemed ‘unfit’ based on mental, physical, social or racial basis should not be allowed to breed and therefore further their genes, was not exclusive to Nazi Germany. In fact, it was largely created by Englishman Francis Galton in the early 20th century, and whilst England never tried ‘positive eugenics’ (actively trying to control human breeding), America did. America sterilized thousands of people deemed ‘unfit’ in the 1930s, and whilst there is not much evidence of widespread murder due to eugenics in interwar America, we do know the prominent American eugenicists were in correspondence and agreement with prominent Nazi eugenicists, and we don’t know what would have happened if this had continue for a few more years, let alone another decade. And this American interest in eugenics declined abruptly with WWII and especially with the discovery of the concentration camps. It also obviously put a stop to the Nazi regime.

The cause of WWII was not eugenics, and millions of people were obviously not saved as a result of the war. However, the end of the war also put an end to the eugenics movement in several prominent countries as well as obviously stopping a tyrannical and murderous dictator in Germany. I do believe that if WWII had not happened at the time that it did, it would either have happened at a later date after which even more people may have been killed in Nazi Germany and also potentially in America, or the alternative is that eugenics may have become widely accepted, and the implications of that is chilling. At the very least, many people would have been sterilized and murdered. At the worst, as a result of limiting the human gene pool in the countries that may have implemented a widespread eugenics program, it would have considerably limited the human gene pool in these regions which can give rise to more health issues, which would have fueled more eugenic measures until it is possible we would have changed and inbred the human population in those regions so much you may have ended up with a similar issue that we now have with pedigree dogs, although admittedly that would probably take a hundred years or so to become visibly noticeable.
The point of this little tirade/history lesson is to explain that even though WWII was as horrific as any war, and even though it obviously did not save the 11 million victims of the holocaust, nor  the countless others that died in the conflict, I believe it was both inevitable and necessary for the future of Europe, that it would have either happened at a later date, or that in the long run even more people would have suffered. WWII was horrible, but I believe it was necessary.

In regards to disbanding the army, as some people seem to think is a good idea; it is not. And the most convincing argument against that, in my view, is to stop conscription. If you did disband the army, and then at a later date you suddenly needed to use one, without a functioning and trained army you would probably have to use conscription. And conscription is horrible. Conscription is sending untrained and often unwilling people to their deaths, because they don’t have time to be trained sufficiently and they are often ill equipt and and not physically capable of things the trained army are able to do. After reading ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, it has turned me against the idea in any circumstance. And whilst obviously the book is almost 100 years old and refers to a very different time and situation, I maintain that sending people to war against their will is a very immoral thing to do. Even in times of peace, the army can offer employment opportunities and disaster relief, and if a war does come along, it offers trained and willing fighters who have a better chance of survival.

Basically, my point is that whilst some wars were completely unnecessary, you cannot then say that this applies to every single war and conflict. You cannot say that,  without question, war should never happen without thinking about the individual war and its lasting implications. This should apply to past and future wars, and you should base your views of these wars on the circumstances itself, not on the philosophy that everyone should be nice and peaceful. Because that is not our reality, and I can’t see it being a reality in our time.
You should not judge the army based on the actions of a few publicized cases, just as you should not do that to any other group. And whilst you are totally within your right to protest and disagree with any individual war, use your voice to protest to the government, and if the government sends our country into a bad war, blame them. The army does not have a say in where they go, the individual soldier does not have much of a say in where they are sent,  and as I do not believe the army or joining the army in  itself is a bad thing; in fact I believe it is essential both in terms of employment and possible scenarios, I don’t feel it is right to blame them as a whole for this or another countries actions.
You are totally within your right not to wear a poppy, and you are within your right to disagree with the Iraq war, the Vietnam war and all the other pointless and stupid wars that have happened over the years. And you are within your right not to think soldiers are hero’s. Fighting in a war doesn’t make you a hero, but it also doesn’t necessarily make you a monster. You cannot say that all war is unnecessary on principle without thinking of all the scenarios in which that would apply. The fact is that however much we wish it, not everyone is nice and peaceful, and conflict does continue to exist. And yes, we could be the first country to disband the army and give peace a chance. But do you really want to risk that? The world can be a very horrible place, and you need to have the means to defend yourself even whilst being careful of how you use it. We should not sign up for hasty wars, or wars that are based on dubious information. The government under Tony Blair should have to answer and be accountable for the war in Iraq, and the whole ‘war against terror’ seems to have created a lot more terror than it was meant to fight. We should be a lot more careful about going into war, we should not just follow America blindly and war should be one of the final options, not the first one. The last few wars we have entered into have been appalling, and we have every right to protest them. But this does not mean every war in in the past or in the future can or should be avoided.  We  need to assess a war by what it aims to achieve, and what it will be fighting, and whether on the basis it can be seen as ‘worth it’. And a lot of wars will not pass that test, but some of them will.

So my point is as follows: Blame the government for their decisions, don’t make sweeping statements and whilst you are by no means obliged to wear a poppy, don’t feel like you shouldn’t wear one either. Most soldiers are neither hero’s nor villains, they are people and they should be treated as such.

If anyone is interested in the history of eugenics in America, check out The war against the weak by Edwin Black.

5

Blaire’s ‘apology’ for the Iraq war and the rise of ISIS

The newspapers are very excited today with news that former prime minister Tony Blair has finally ‘apologized’ for the 2003 war in Iraq, despite the fact he still doesn’t regret the war and simply conceded that they made some ‘mistakes’ regarding the Weapons of Mass Destruction which, at the time, they claimed could attack the USA in as little as 45 minutes and which was quite soon after proven to be, quite frankly, utter bollocks.
The supposed WMD’s and alleged (and disproved) links to Al Qaeda were the main justifications for the war and were used as its main selling point; now we know beyond a doubt (although anyone with half a brain could see it at the time) that these were at best an error in judgement based on dodgy evidence and at worse a calculated and planned lie that was used to promote a war that the USA  had long decided to pursue (which is backed up by the fact that Tony Blair had agreed to go to war a year prior to its taking place, when at the time he was still publicly pushing for a diplomatic solution), and the tensions that existed from the 1990s with George Bush Senior. I read in one of the articles (See below) that the source that they used as evidence that Iraq could attack the USA using WMD’s in 45 minutes had been taken some years previously from a random taxi driver who could potentially have been joking, and was unlikely to have any real knowledge on the subject.
Blair is still trying to justify himself by saying that although all the reasons they gave at the time to promote the war turned out to be wrong, they still got rid of an evil dictator and gave the Iraqi people a shot at freedom, which would be okay if it was not undermined by the rise of ISIS and horrific conditions that Iraq has been in ever since. I do not deny that Saddam Hussein was a bad man who abused and sometimes killed his people, he was. He was a dictator, and conditions in Iraq prior to 2003 were unlikely to be great, and if there had been a strong Iraqi resistance who had enough support and strength to take over it would not have been a bad thing that he was ejected with western help, although I feel the roots would have to have lain in Iraq, not imposed from outside.
However, even if we overlook the fact that the USA actively backed Hussein in the 1980s (coincidentally one of his most brutal periods in power), the US actually helped him into power and only started to turn on him in the 90s, and (if my sources can be believed) Iraq was actually an okay place to live before the US helped Hussein to power. Even if we ignore the US’s direct role in creating the regime they then tried to dismantle, Saddam Hussein was not the only dictator in the world, nor was he the worst. We actively fund dictators all over the world through foreign aid, and the US has had close links to Saudi Arabia, which has a  (putting it mildly) questionable regime of it own, for years. The US and UK cannot abet and assist some dictators and then condemn and attack others and still pretend to be upholding human rights and morality, it just doesn’t make sense. Blair cannot pretend that we did a good thing in Iraq by getting rid of one bad regime and allowing an even worse one into power, and act like that somehow makes it all okay. If we are going to condemn ruthless dictators on principle, we cannot pick and choose the ones we like and don’t like based on our own interests unless that dictator threatens us directly, because even though conditions were probably not good prior to the war, the destruction and civilian casualties that happened both during the war and continue to happen just weren’t worth it. Even if this had been the justification for the war (which it was not) it was not, to my mind, justification enough whilst we still have friendly ties to some of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.

As the Chilcot report should (hopefully) be released fairly soon, Blaire’s ‘apology’ can be seen as an attempt to save face by apologizing before he is forced to when the report finally comes out. If you have read my earlier posts, you will know that whilst I am not anti war in principle, I believe the war in Iraq was a cold-blooded and utterly pointless catastrophe, that the US used the tragedy of 9/11 to justify it, and that Blair and Bush should be tried for war crimes. I was ten years old during the build up to the war, I remember going on frequent anti war demonstrations and it seemed very obvious at the time that the war was not justified, that they were grasping at straws and that they were basically set on war no matter what, that they would spin anything to their advantage and make up evidence to justify the war. I hope when (and if) the Chilcot report does come out, George Bush and Tony Blair will have to answer to their crimes. Realistically, they won’t go to trial, and it will be up to the history books to condemn them for their actions, but at the very least we should acknowledge (if they won’t) that the war was not just a mistake, the evidence wasn’t just incorrect, but it was manipulated and spun into a massive lie intended to hoodwink the public into supporting an illegal and unjust war. We cannot keep taking this approach where dictators are our friends until we decide to attack them, and thinking that completely turning a country on its head and then leaving it

Reading
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/25/tony-blair-sorry-iraq-war-mistakes-admits-conflict-role-in-rise-of-isis

http://www.cato.org/commentary/foreign-aid-simply-wont-reform-dictators

http://time.com/23075/william-easterly-stop-sending-aid-to-dictators/

http://www.businessinsider.com/foreign-aid-dilemma-dictators-on-our-dole-2011-3?IR=T

https://www.quora.com/Living-in-Iraq/Is-Iraq-a-better-place-or-worse-to-live-since-the-fall-of-Saddam-Hussein

http://www.businessinsider.com/foreign-aid-dilemma-dictators-on-our-dole-2011-3?IR=T

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/16290-iraq-is-worse-than-ever-before-so-what-was-the-invasion-and-war-all-for

https://www.globalpolicy.org/political-issues-in-iraq/justifications-for-war-wmds-and-other-issues.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3287982/I-m-sorry-Blair-takes-blame-Iraq-War-admits-conflict-caused-rise-ISIS-astonishing-apology-TV-show.html

https://news.vice.com/article/the-cia-just-declassified-the-document-that-supposedly-justified-the-iraq-invasion

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34630380

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationale_for_the_Iraq_War

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/tony-blair-apologises-for-mistakes-over-iraq-war-and-admits-elements-of-truth-to-view-that-invasion-a6707776.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-26116868

http://www.politico.eu/article/blair-says-sorry-for-iraq-us-cnn-saddam/

http://www.thenational.scot/news/blairs-iraq-war-tv-apology-rejected-as-spin-before-chilcot.9205