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The Cowboy Capitalist
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I dont see how the American political landscape prevents us from identifying threats to our own national security and our long term goals. In any case, the GOP alienated its voter base over the likes of Harriet Miers and the immigration debate. i) No-one has wiretapped the nation ii) There was no Iraqi Army to disband. iii) Blanco was at fault for not implementing the Lousiana Hurricane Evacuation plan and for delaying the transfer of power to the Fed. government. iv) Fox News?
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Graeme - I think some form of emotional sensitivity can be positive when dealing with topics such as these. From my own experience, my heart has helped to keep my thoughts in check and posed questions that prevented a narrowing of mind. I often question whether my pro-war stance is aided somewhat by the luxury of postulating from an armchair, and thus whether or not it is all to easy to advocate war when I personally am unlikely to pay any real price. Yet, I haven't persude that possibility simply because I end up coming back to the same question: What if we had just done nothing? I believe that we face a growing threat from the sort of totalitarian hatred and terror that the political and social situation in the Middle East has spawned. I believe something has to be done to change that for the sake of our own long term interest. I think developing democracy and liberty in the region is our best long term hope of marginalising terror and hatred against the West. Based on those three convictions, Im also willing to accept that occasionally we must act to promote liberty if the situation demands it. Of course, everyone has differing opinions as to which situations they would be and what policy is most effective in addressing in them. To return slightly to the topic of the thread, I believe we need to articulate a long term vision and belief around which we can base some sort of Conservative foreign policy. I want to hear our politicians talk up the power of freedom and democracy and make it clear that we should be willing to make sacrifices in order to advance these ideas in favour of our national interest. I believe Iraq was a just sacrifice in that conflict of ideas and I think, if we want to act in favour our ideals, popularity in the latest opinion poll must also be shunned in favour of these much larger principles. It concerns me that the likes of Matthew Parris believe that, firstly, our best hope of resolving the threat is by not upsetting the Arab street, and secondly that he is willing to ditch a conviction if it means bad press. Saying nothing on Iraq and Iran is to say nothing on our own belief in the virtues of freedom and self-government. Such a disservice could have devastating effects on our own security.
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Forgive me if, when reaching a conclusion, I turn to the statements of the government and the PM rather than use the tabloid newspapers as my source material. I've examined what Blair said, both in press conferences and in the September dossier, and there is nothing to suggest he had suppressed the original JIC statement, "Intelligence also indicates that from forward-deployed storage sites, chemical and biological munitions could be with military units and ready for firing within 45 minutes." Bearing in mind the onus is on yourself to demonstrate a deliberate fabrication, I'm quite surprised that you would dismiss a judicial inquiry on the issue in favour of editorial misinterpretation. If the British public, like you, put their faith in tabloid journalism, then more fool them.
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malcolm - I'd be grateful to see any evidence to support your claim that this piece of evidence was spun, because to my knowledge it was mentioned in only one of Blair's speeches and was inserted into the dossier at the recommendation of the JIC. The difference between the final claim and that produced by the JIC does not differ significantly. In neither case was there any implication that the claim referred to an "intercontinental" capacity. Whatsmore, Blair himself was unaware of the precise nature of the intelligence at the time, unsurprising since one would expect him to trust the judgement of the JIC. The only cause for concern was the rewording of the phrase eventually employed, on which the Hutton enquiry was conclusive. In any case, if we agree in hindsight that the intelligence was not credible enough, or that it was open to misinterpretation, we are still far from concluding that the claim was a fabricated lie.
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"Hear hear Graeme, you put it better than I ever could. Cowboy Capitalist-What about the 45 minute claim?Complete and utter bollocks as Blair well knows.For that alone he should have been forced to resign in disgrace but that is just one lie amongst so,so many." Well let me start by saying that whatever dislike for Blair I may have, I dont think it stretches quite so far as to suggest he was complicit in the death David Kelly. With the greatest respect to Graeme, I'd like to think we can keep any opposition to Blair's policies on a rational footing. We havent invaded China because China isnt situated in the heart of the Middle East, neither does China support and finance Islamic terrorism. The relevance of this distinction will be, I imagine, proportional to your own belief in how the Middle East affects our own long term security. I happen to believe its crucial. As for the 45-minute claim, clearly there was concern about the fact that this came from a single source, but the intelligence agencies found such a source to be credible and thus I dont see why there is particular objection to what subsequently appears in the dossier: "Intelligence indicates that the Iraqi military are able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so". Releasing such information into the public was of great risk, especially since it was likely to misinterpreted, as the JIC articulated during the Hutton inquiry. What you haven't demonstrated is that Blair knew this claim to be false, or fabricated, when the dossier was published.
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"Um, actually we was telling the truth. So, Saddam answered his legal obligation under res 1441, and Blair decided to reject it. Don't pretend that Saddam didn't cave in at the end, because he did. Everyone seems to conveniently forget that document that answered the demands of 1441." While we did not find WMD material to the extent the pre-war intelligence had suggested, to claim the Saddam was telling the truth all along would clearly be in contradiction of the facts. Saddam was found in material breach of UNSCR 1441 as demonstrated by evidence of, for example, undeclared weapons programs, biological material unaccounted for and illegal missile engines. UNMOVIC also suggest the possibility, supported by Iraqis, that large quantities of material were transported out of the country in the months prior to the invasion. Add to this evidence of terrorist activity and training under Saddam and it becomes clear that Saddam was deceiving and undermining the UN right up until the invasion. Its also worth remembering that any concessions or cooperation we did receive over 12 years of continued material breach, were thanks to deadly UN sanctions and a continual allied presence on his doorstep.
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"Its about time we had a British foreign policy decided on British interests not a foreign policy where we are nothing more than the Americans lap dogs." Neither should we be concerned about being labelled lap-dogs by opponents if we believe that acting jointly or in support of the US is the right thing to do.
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<< William @ 13.18. "clearly Blair lied to us about WMD"; there appears to be little argument about that >> I hate to defend the man, but I don't know of any case where it has been proven that Blair deliberately and knowingly presented false information. Of course, I'm willing to be corrected.
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G.A: "Matthew Parris is a great Conservative. To call him 'appeasing "scum" ' because he doesn't think we should tie up our policy into an absurdly pro-Bush stance, now, years before the election, is stupid." I dont think that's quite the point he is being criticised for. He says, "For the Conservative leadership, opportunities to say nothing about foreign wars should be seized with both hands. From the Principal Opposition the sound we should hear is the sound of silence.The electorate do not like these wars." Mr.Parris believes we should duck the big questions on arguably the greatest issues of the day, that have a direct impact on our own interests and security, not because he takes issue with the policy or the means in which we address them, but because we want to maintain good poll figures. That's spineless, Conservative or not. G.A.: "We have achieved precisely nothing in terms of making Iraqi lives better" So the fact that Iraqis voted for a constitutionally elected government and can now enjoy a free media is a negligible benefit that we should avoid offering our support, at least in rhetoric, to? G.A.: "but how any supposedly Burkean Conservative (Reflections on the revolution in France, remember?) can look at the the state that we are in, the lies which took us there, and still believe in a neocon theory of ever-increasing warfare in order to deliver some utopian outcome" Sorry, what on earth is "Burkean" about containing a violent thug and his tyrannical bloodthirst to avoid unpopularity? All the same I think the Conservatives can find a principled policy on Middle Eastern issues without sounding like a rant from the pages of Socialist Worker. G.A: "I do not want our party tied into any foreign policy commitments that will kill more of our soldiers on disproven hypotheses." How do we prove the hypothesis on Iran? Wait until they wipe Israel off the map? Sounds like a Lib Dem approach to me.
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Andy: "Britain's foreign policy needs to be driven far more by our national interest, and far less by nebulous notions of "spreading democracy"." And if spreading democracy is believed to be in our national interest? Take the American position. I certainly dont think anyone believes the "neocons" want/wanted to bring democracy to the Middle East because they all happened to be on a mission from god. They believe a democratic Middle East will marginalise terror and secure oil resources, thus securing long term American national interest.
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Jon Gale: "The basic belief of Conservatism is that radical change and revolutions shold be avoided at all costs as they inevitablity result in a breakdown of society, bloodshed, reign of terror, and dicatorship. The current mess in Iraq reinforces that Burkean view." I would argue that Conservatism seeks "controlled change" as opposed to change "at any cost", in view of the valued status quo. You're quite right to question whether regime change should be considered "radical" or not and oppose or support a policy in relation to its impact on British national interest, but I would ask two questions: i) Can support for democratic societies, which we must surely find to be virtuous, be opposed in favour of a status quo such as that existed in Iraq? The Burkean view does not oppose radical change for the sake of maintaining a status quo, but simply because it believes free society, and the rights it offers, to be the product of history and evolution. Such liberty and social order are the result of tried-and-tested institutions and inherited beliefs. I cannot find this to be a reasonable objection against intervention in Iraq. In any case, post-intervention, it should be clear that our support needs to be with the forces of liberty against those of tyranny and terror. ii) What status quo existed in Iraq other than "a breakdown of society, bloodshed, reign of terror, and dicatorship"?
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malcolm: "Listening to the Bush and Blair press conference you realise how tired and beaten these guys are" I'd say tired and staying the course. Its hard to see how theyve been 'beaten' on Iraq, in light of events earlier in the week. Standing by ones convictions, irrespective of ones policy, shows greater character than adopting strategy according to the 6 o'clock news. Wouldnt that be a sign of greater duplicity? Is that a strategy in which "we can have confidence"? Irrespective of how regime change came about, we should work actively in favour of Iraqi democracy and the Iraqi government, just as we must support democratic reform elsewhere in the region. I can't find any decent reason why a conservative should feel compelled to look the other way on such black-and-white matters as these. Incidentally, why do you think we went into Iraq? The WMD?!
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Its quite a concern that Mr.Parris believes playing popularity politics is the way to go on such issues as Iran and Iraq. Assuming he believes Iran poses a threat to regional peace and British interests in the region, and assuming that he actually finds democracy in the Middle East preferable to tyranny and terror, are we sincerely expected to put the polls before principles on major foreign policy issues? Sadly, he seems to be all too ready, again, for Britain to turn a blind eye, lest that YouGov poll start trending downwards. I personally dont want my party to bury it's head in the sand over such issues particularly when we are safe in the knowledge that a British role is likely to be restricted to rhetoric and ideological support at best. By all means take issue with party policy, but it says a great deal about the moral and political backbone of some commentators, who label 2 years of multi-lateral negotiations and incentives as "war-mongering". If all else fails, "it was the neo-cons what done it!" It certainly wont be thanks to conservatives like Mr.Parris. "In February 2003 Matthew wrote that he would be against a war in Iraq even if there was WMD, even if it was authorised by the UN, even if a liberated Iraq was then stable, and concluded: “I’m against war because it will antagonise moderate Arab opinion.” And the Iraqi people? To be massacred, shredded, gassed, beheaded, suppressed, starved, immiserated, terrorised and tortured because all of that would be less bad than antagonising moderate Arab opinion. An Iraqi democrat stands in front of an armchair anti- interventionist, and is invisible." A disgrace.
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O.H.:"William, I was stressing that the US has created a precedent for declaring war based on pre-emption, which any Country can now use." But you know aswell as I do that it isnt available to every nation, simply because most other nations are and would be restrained by a set of vastly different consequences and factors were they to take some form of unilateral military action themselves. Saddam didnt need a precedent to defy the international community for 12 years and I very much doubt we would accept 'pre-emption' as an Iranian justification to wipe Israel off the map. O.H.:"Legally, it is unclear if these developments will require a re-writing of international law or the existing agreements are still valid, in which case the US will need to be successfully challenged to avoid these agreements becoming fatally weakened. I believe that this will not happen, therefore they have already been critically undermined, and that as a result the world is a much more dangerous place." The world is a more dangerous place because international law and decrepit, corrupt talking shops such as the UN have been allowed to continue unquestioned for so long. The Bush administration merely exposed all this as the farcical and dangerous theatre it is and was. I can't help but conclude that you're blaming them because these redundant institutions have been shown to be valueless in the 21st century and you'd rather we went back to pretending otherwise.
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Good lord. I sincerely hope this piece is not indicative of Conservative discussion on climate change. One can find enough short-sighted scaremongering on the pages of the Independent without the so-called defenders of small government sleep walking to the same environmentalist dogma. It is particularly concerning to see Conservative policy advisors and Cameron himself turning to state intervention as the only means to address the issue of emissions, but worse still, we cant expect to have an objective debate while those who believe in the free mind and the the free market are arrogantly dismissed as being indifferent to global warming altogether. Very disappointing.
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Shouldnt we question the threat before spending time establishing a policy to tackle it? If every gas-guzzling American SUV remained off the road for an entire year, the global emissions total would reduce by a whopping 0.2403% of its current total. We can assume that the impact made by taxing big car users in the UK would be even less significant. Do we have a policy on Chinese power plants?
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There is no legitimate excuse for terrorism, and I don't think that's what Peter was suggesting. However I do agree that evidence of Islamic imperial ambition pre-dates the existence of Israel significantly. The 'Israeli question' serves merely as a means to garner Muslim and leftist support in favour of more fanatical ambitions. Does anyone honestly believe the likes of Bin Laden would pack up and go home once land was "returned" to the Palestinians? We should always be careful not to conflate Arab nationalism with Islamic fanaticism. From my observation, it is the latter which appears to be the common denominator among the threats currently facing Israel and our own national interests. On that basis, I'm willing to put faith in the success of Arab democracy to rid the Middle East of this "problem" with Islam.
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