Egypt!!

August 14, 2013

A military led government will apply military solutions to its problems and it should come as no surprise that this morning Egyptian security forces have started to use extreme force to clear supporters of former President Morsi camped at two sites in Cairo.

The obvious and first lesson the West should learn from this whole sorry saga is that elections do not always equate to a satisfactory or friendly democratic government and Western leaders should not get giddy when elections take place and think a western style liberal democracy will be installed the day after the election.

Secondly if the West supports elections (held fairly of course) and democratically elected governments in places where dictators/military ruled then it must be prepared for the outcome that governments which it does not particularly like or agree with will get elected! And even in this scenario the west should support the process by which the government was elected even if not the actual government. Otherwise you end up with the situation in Egypt where an obvious military coup wasn’t described as such and the west now finds itself in limbo between the proverbial rock and a hard place where it didn’t condemn outright military intervention and the ousting of an elected president and now has to look on as civilians are dealt violently by security forces and the country begins its descent into violent civil unrest.

The stance of the west in Egypt will also be viewed by various parties elsewhere in the Middle East who will no doubt conclude that coming to power through the ballot box is no guarantee of acceptance or legitimacy in government by the West and conclude that they should use means other than the ballot box to come to power.

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Campbell at Iraq Inquiry

January 12, 2010

I have to say that I wasn’t impressed at all with the questioning of Alastair Campbell this morning at the Iraq Inquiry. The questioning was far too disjointed, lame and obvious follow up questions were not asked. What’s the point of holding such an inquiry if the panel doesn’t have the expertise to thoroughly examine and cross examine a key player in Government in the run up to the Iraq War. It was frustrating to say the least and embarrassing to watch when the most obvious follow up questions weren’t asked. I doubt Tony Blair or any other senior person involved in the decision to go to war will fear giving evidence based on today’s extremely poor performance by the panel. I would adjourn the whole process and get some decent lawyers in who would justify the extremely high costs to the taxpayer of holding this Inquiry. Pathetic really!!


Obama U-turn

September 17, 2009

President Obama is to scrap the European missile defence shield which is a major break with the Bush administration and a feather in the cap of Russian intransigence diplomacy. The scrapping of the defence shield is a major triumph for the tough stance the Russians adopted and will give them renewed confidence in any future military/NATO dealings. The Czechs and the poles have been left in limbo and will feel that their defence is not the same priority under President Obama as it was under the previous administration. They will also now have to deal more cautiously with a confident and aggressive Russia.

And perhaps the most important factor in this is the impact of this decision on the Iranians. What should we read into this policy reversal as far as the Iranian nuclear issue is concerned? Does this decision indicate that Washington doesn’t think Iran will in the immediate future acquire a nuclear weapon or does it mean that it is inevitable that the Iranians will acquire a nuclear weapon but that it will leave it to others at a regional level such as the Israelis to contain and deal with? If it is the latter then this is a seriously significant shift in US foreign policy.


Another Whitewash?

June 16, 2009

The announcement that the Iraq war inquiry will be held in private is regrettable to say the least. David Cameron has rightly described it as ‘an establishment stitch-up.’ Holding the inquiry in private will mean that its findings will be viewed with the same suspicion as the previous reports/inquiries into the Iraq War and doubts will remain as to whether access to all relevant documents is granted and adequately scrutinised. And to state from the outset that no blame will be apportioned is just ludicrous. How can a serious recommendation be made if a mistake isn’t acknowledged and identified?

This inquiry should be held in public or not at all as this Government’s record on transparency on this issue is non existent. It has previously defeated Conservative proposals to force a public inquiry and vetoed the publication of minutes of cabinet meetings discussing the legality of the war; and the Hutton and Butler inquiries raised more questions than answering them.

But the biggest cop out of all is that the inquiry will only report its finding after the next general election when many of the cabinet/elected members who should be held accountable have been re-elected or have retired or have lost their seats! By delaying the inquiry the Government has ensured that no one will be held responsible or accountable for the deceit in taking this country to war.


The $1 Trillion Deal!

April 3, 2009

Gordon Brown would want us to believe that there has been a cash injection of $1 trillion into the IMF to help the world’s struggling economies. The headlines this morning are full of quotes from the leaders hailing this as a great step forward in the new world economic order. Brown is this morning basking in the glory of putting together a ‘global’ deal and he also has his support from Obama who hailed the outcome as ‘historic.’

But will this ‘deal’ do what it says on the tin and reverse the recession? I doubt it. As I mentioned yesterday, the G20 meeting has come 6 months too late. Most leaders of G20 nations have put measures in place to deal with their economies and will wait to see whether they work before doing anything else regardless of what they have signed up to.

And once the economists and other analysts have had time to look at the astronomical figures talked about at the G20, we will have a presented to us a completely new picture, for example, at least $250bn of the trade finance will come from existing programs of export guarantees in rich countries and isn’t new money. No doubt there’s much of this in this $1 trillion package. Fraser Nelson has written a typically excellent piece over at coffee house which is a must read.


The G20 Talkathon

April 1, 2009

President Obama has strolled into Downing Street and Gordon Brown has been grinning as best he can in the hope that this shot will be splashed all over the papers tomorrow. Gordon Brown is going against all his natural instincts but he’s managed to force the smile out!!

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, right, and US President Barack Obama leaves 10 Downing Street in London

Now that is out of the way, we must hope that an agreement is reached among the G20 that actually leads to affirmative action to deal with the world economy. I am highly sceptical that any deal will be reached that will have a quick and positive impact on the world economy not least for the reason that this meeting has come at least 6 months too late and all the major western nations are gripped by recession. But better late than never and if all the leaders sign up to anti-protectionists measures (such as dismissing British jobs for British workers type nonsense) that will be at least something positive coming out of what appears to be a very expensive international talking shop.


Torture Threatens Security

February 24, 2009

The return of Binyam Mohammed from Guantanamo has highlighted the futility of indefinite detention without trial and engaging in acts of torture to extract information. Here was a man picked up in Pakistan having gone to Afghanistan who did not provide a satisfactory explanation as to why he was there and who thereafter was accused of allegedly meeting and being involved with extremists.

Mr Mohammed’s travels and activities were suspicious but the fact that he was held without trial and tortured have ensured that his actions have become almost irrelevant. He has not been charged on his return as there was no chance of any conviction based on evidence obtained under torture. The US authorities in an almost blasé manner released him and we have a situation now where people are raising questions as to why an alleged extremist is allowed into this country. That question will never be satisfactorily answered as once a person is tortured and detained without trial, he simply cannot be charged and tried as there is no chance of having a fair.

If we assume that this man is dangerous as the US authorities have one for the past seven years, then security of this country has undoubtedly been compromised by the behaviour of US authorities, and if allegations are true by the complicity in torture of some UK intelligence personnel. If Mr Mohammed is innocent which I believe he is – if only on the presumption that everyone is innocent until proven otherwise, then he has been treated in an appallingly shabby and abusive way which does nothing to enhance the democratic cause around the world – if democracies behave like dictatorial regimes when their security is threatened, then one can only imagine how dictators respond when they are threatened. And how can we lecture others on human rights abuses when we have cases like Mr Mohammed’s?

Guantanamo is a black mark on the free world and the sooner its inmates are tried fairly or released the sooner we can claim the moral high ground in the battle against extremism.