In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The European Elections for the Invisible Parliament

The citizens of Europe are facing the joys of a European election in the next fortnight, when we have the opportunity to vote for our Members of the European Parliament (MEP’s). This provides an apposite opportunity to pose a few questions, I am happy to publish any replies:

  • What exactly do our MEP’s do?

  • Can you name one piece of legislation, passed by an MEP, that has had a positive effect on the way of life of the citizens of Europe?

  • Does anyone know the name, or party, of their MEP?

Despite the fact that the EU elections are only a fortnight away, I have not received a single solicitation or piece of information from any of the candidates standing; telling me about themselves, or their policies.

We pay these people a more than generous salary and expense allowance, and they have a far better standard of living than the majority of the citizens whom they represent. Yet they choose to remain invisible.

The staging of the elections for the “invisible parliament” costs the European taxpayer a very large sum of money. Yet we see no return on our “investment”.

I, for one, intend to register my protest at this insult to democracy; I do not intend to vote.

I recommend that every like-minded citizen of Europe follow suit.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Iraq, What Needs to be Done

The situation in Iraq is, to put not too fine a point on it, a real mess.

Despite President Bush proclaiming, “mission accomplished” in 2003, the ongoing bombings and attacks on coalition personnel prove otherwise.

The situation has not been helped by the disclosure of USA troops abusing prisoners. Quite how the military and politicians thought that this was a good way to extract information is beyond me.

It is fair to say that as a result of this, the American brand image is at an all time low.

The USA and coalition are now faced with some tough decisions. The easiest option would be to cut and run. In the short term, this would save coalition lives. However, in the long run it would be disastrous:

  • Iraq would descend into even more chaos, and many thousands more Iraqi civilians would die; as various factions fight it out for control.

  • The temptation for other countries in the region to interfere would be great. Before long, the Middle East would dissolve into chaos and war.

  • The oil supply to the rest of the world, would be threatened; and the world economy would sink into recession.

  • The terrorists would be emboldened by the withdrawal, and step up their attacks elsewhere.

In short, withdrawal is not an option.

Here’s what needs to be done; it is neither palatable, nor easy:

  • Stop abusing prisoners.

  • Punish those responsible for the abuse, and those who gave the orders.

  • Get the power back on in Iraq.

  • Remove the military control of the procurement and funding allocation process in Iraq.

  • Install a civilian administration as soon as possible in Iraq.

  • Leave as soon as all the above have been done.

  • Reduce the West’s reliance on oil.

It’s going to be a long summer!

Friday, May 07, 2004

The Photos of Torture in Iraq

The pictures coming out of Iraq, alleging the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British and US servicemen are a matter of great concern and shame; if they are proven to be true.

The US and British governments are currently investigating the accusations; and have let it be known that should the accusations be proven, the perpetrators will be punished.

The question is how far up the chain of command will the recriminations go?

No doubt the men and women on the field, who are in these photos, will be punished. However, it is extremely unlikely that they were acting without the direct encouragement of more senior personnel and other agencies.

Will these people and agencies be investigated and punished?

There is also a more troubling question; the young men and women in the US and UK armed forces were sent into Iraq on the pretext of stopping the spread of WMD, and reducing the risk of terrorism spreading.

The senior politicians in the US and UK, specifically President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, made it very clear that the mission was one of “Good vs. Evil”. Those sent into Iraq were, in my view, “pump primed” by Bush and Blair to believe that in effect they were fighting for the very existence of the West’s way of life.

Under those circumstances it is quite possible that, many miles from home in an inhospitable country, the young men and women of the armed forces may act with an almost zealous fervour to achieve their mission.

In other words, they were acting out the roles scripted for them by the politicians.

Bush and Blair need to keep this in mind when they next make moralistic pronouncements about events and countries.

Additionally there are a number of uncomfortable questions arising from this disgrace:

  • If the scenes of abuse have come as a total surprise to President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, then the chain of command and control has suffered a catastrophic failure. The responsibility for this failure rests with those at the top of the chain.

  • If the scenes of abuse have not come as a surprise; then it means that either these acts were being perpetrated on the express/implied orders of Bush and Blair, or that they were informed of it some weeks/months ago before the newspapers published the story. In which case Bush and Blair are guilty of suppressing a scandal that should have been placed in the public domain, as soon as it had been discovered.

Either way Bush and Blair need to consider their positions. The credibility of the coalition forces, and the last shred of justification for the invasion of Iraq, have been blown away by this scandal.

Meanwhile the people of Iraq must be wondering if they are, in fact, any better off.