» Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Guantanamo Bay

Asked if we were any nearer a resolution on the four remaining British detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the PMOS said that we had never put a timescale on this process. Everybody accepted that these were difficult and complex issues and that the individual cases were all different. The fact that five British detainees had now returned to the UK showed the level of engagement between ourselves and the US Administration.

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  1. "difficult and complex issues". Now you will have to excuse me if I have over simplified this but I am a simple fellow and it seems to me that there are only two ways of viewing the people imprisoned in Cuba.

    If they have committed a crime against international law, or American law, then they should be tried in a court with evidence and judges and juries and all the normal proceedings.

    If they have no right to these legal proceedings because somehow they are not covered by international or American law then what law have they broken that requires them to be kept as prisoners? They should all be set free immediately as innocent men.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 10 Mar 2004 on 8:45 pm | Link
  2. What if there isn’t a conspiracy or secret new world order and the world is just run by a bunch of incompetent people who haven\x92t got a clue how to solve any of the problems?

    Now that\x92s something really worth being worried about.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 10 Mar 2004 on 10:34 pm | Link
  3. Given that they’re not incompetent – at least not outwardly, visibly so – it’s hard to think of the choices that have been made as anything other than a conscious decision.

    This isn’t about mistakes, or forgiving the mistakes of others – particularly the mistakes of those in government. It’s about a belief, held by many, that the decision-making process we’re all supposed to put our trust and faith in has gone horribly wrong; accountability, that ever-crackling word, has been lost.

    Only it hasn’t been lost – we’re just not in a position to exercise that power yet. Worse yet, because elections aren’t happening right now, people are feeling pretty disempowered with what little influence they <i>do</i> have.

    That isn’t to say that next election, should these issues still be dogging, will result in a similar Labor landslide – an awful lot of people are going to feel awfully aggrieved about not being able to influence decisions, before the war, and may decide to send a message.

    But that assumes we’re all going to put our faith into the electoral system; and I have about as little faith in the process of government, at the moment, as I do in my fellow man’s willingness to get <b>up off the couch</b> and vote.

    Then again, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprise. Until then, it would appear, the only action any of us can take is to sit quietly in our homes and pretend to one another that we’re Claire Short and Robin Cook, and wait until the government wakes up to find that it needs our support. If the only time they ever want to listen to what we have to say is during election time, then it’s our choice as to whether or not our acceptance of previous decisions is predicated on their removal of office.

    You know how it goes. "This is not my beautiful house; this is not my beautiful wife", and all that. Tony Blair, juxtaposed with David Byrne, letting the days go by.

    Comment by Gregory Lightyear — 10 Mar 2004 on 11:51 pm | Link
  4. I’m actually sad to say I agree with most of what HH said above – although I do admit he/she gets a little too conceptual for me to fully understand the gist of what he/she is saying towards the end.

    Anyway, expanding on the theme (I’m on nights and bored, so forgive my ramble), I can thoroughly recommend "Rogue State – A Guide To The Worlds Only Superpower" by William Blum. He presents a fairly shocking (shockingly cynical, some may say, but then they would…) viewpoint of the world over the past 50 years or so; from the not-unrealistic suggestion that the whole of the Cold War was welcomed (if not engineered) by the hugely muscular Department of Defence and it’s associates, to the suggestion as made by HH above that 9/11 could easily have been averted but for the vested interests of the Powers That Be (Gods in their own tiny minds, I’m sure) whose whims and back-scratching direct all our lives; and everything in between. All very well qualified; a lot of very convincing arguments in favour of his theories, and much prevarication and evasion in response from the establishment to what was, I gather, a controversial release. One has to have an open mind to appreciate the implications of what he is saying, but then, looking at some of our own Governments recent disingenious behaviour it isn’t hard to imagine the depths of perniciousness some would plumb if the stakes were high enough. Would it be cynical of me to suggest that personal fame, fortune and fun in the sun constitute stakes high enough for many as it is? If so, what price a huge and irrevocable fall from grace; for example, from being the hypothetical leader of a country, honoured around the globe (by certain types of people, of course), to a disgraced charlatan whose occasional flashes of humanity served only to highlight the murderous indifference of a privileged man with no concept of discomfort and who has, with suitably downcast demeanour and hand on heart, on more than one occasion had to make the heart-rending decision to condemn thousands to death in the name of humanitarian concern? I’d say them’s pretty high stakes, especially if ones burning ambition were a rosy write-up in the history books.

    But I digest…

    Guantanamo Bay is but a tool in the whole warehouse-full that the Powers That Be-In-General have at their disposal. As was the career of Dr. David Kelly (sad that he felt the need to take his own life, but strangely I don’t blame the government for that) and the careers of many at the BBC, and many others. (Incidentally, isn’t it strange that the Boss doesn’t insist on the same code of ethical and professional conduct in his own staff as he does in others, like the BBC?) Diversions, nothing more, for when people start to get too close to the truth and start asking the right questions (depending on your perspective, of course!) too loudly. Although I doubt the actual intellect of many in government, I don’t doubt their self-preservation skills, well-developed sense of unconvincing self-righteousness and their ability to shrug off the contempt and scorn, if not outright hostility, of the whole country (Beverly Hughes and Margaret Beckett spring to mind here).They are all on display almost every day as they each evade one issue or another. Issues conspiracy theorists used to dream of. Except these AREN’T conspiracy theories. They are coming thick and fast these days, and it amazes me that more people are not asking the very same questions, because it seems so blatant. I can only guess we have become so immune to government abuse of power that we don’t even see it any more. We see the government twist and turn like a twisty turny thing on a daily basis – they seem to get themselves into a rut of deceit over so many inter-related issues that the continued lies and deception mean they are continually having to defend the indefensible, and the potential personal cost for some of them means that they can’t back down; they can only continue the bluster and hope another nice big fat wriggly diversion comes along. Immigration, for instance, or GM crops. Possibly even Guantanamo Bay, dare one venture?

    And it isn’t even particularly cleverly done, either. Most of us KNOW we are constantly being lied to, manipulated, robbed blind and kicked in the conkers by the Powers; to a large extent we have come to expect it and there are I guess certain unwritten rules. But there are limits, and to me and hopefully lots of others those limits were reached a long time ago. Enough is enough; enough of the pleading for trust – trust is earned, not taken; enough of the pleading for patience – we’ve been above and beyond the call of duty in the patience stakes; enough of the lies and deceit – twisty turny things get so annoying after a while.

    It gives me no great pride now to admit I served in Army during the first Gulf "conflict", among others. Not that I regret the service; more that it now chastens me to reflect on what were the REAL reasons I and many others had to endure some properly heart-rending experiences, experiences which more of our leaders should be exposed to before they consider interfering in other countries affairs and committing acts of international aggression which kill our own families and friends, not to mention the so far uncounted faceless nobodies on the putative "enemy" sides. They should try having to tearfully say goodbye to their wives and babies 2 days before Christmas as they are sent off to war, not knowing what lies in store, not knowing if they are ever going to see their loved ones again. And to forestall any cries of "but you volunteered"; yes, I and the rest of our forces did volunteer; but we volunteered on the understanding that we were volunteering to defend our country and it’s interests in the name of HM the Queen. Our Armed Forces do not volunteer to die in order to enforce the unshakeable conviction of the Prime Minister ("I’m not for turning" – oh PLEASE! do us a lemon!), whether they be wrong or right, and sadly the true motives behind most of our recent "conflicts" could only be interpreted as defensive if you are somehow related to Lord Hutton… I am, however, pleased to say I can now see quite clearly how I allowed myself to be lied to, manipulated, robbed blind and volleyed about the penalty area, while misguidedly believing the oath I had given meant something.

    And astonishingly enough, even now in the 21st century our government still insists on risking the lives of our volunteers in such a cynical fashion; who can remember the first Gulf War, and the words of our leaders at the time – "there will never again be another large-scale land war"? As it transpired, nothing more than a cash-quick enterprise for the government at the time. They obviously forgot the "until the next time we need to clear up our own mess again". And so we let them do it again and again. Maybe it’s our TV culture, but it seems too many people are taken in by the acting and posturing; too many fall for the holier-than-thou saintliness which Tony Blair (well let’s face it, he IS the chief decision-maker) uses to get his way when all else fails, and because people don’t want to be labelled as conspiracy theorists and therefore DIFFERENT (God forbid!!) they force themselves to give him the one more chance he pleads for, forgetting exactly how many last chances we’re up to. I just sincerely hope that soon enough people will start to feel strongly enough to achieve HH’s "critical mass".

    Anyway, it’s a good book………

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 11 Mar 2004 on 2:10 am | Link
  5. Modern politicians DO outwardly appear to be incompetent. On Newsnight and Dimbleby, time and time again Labour MP’s seem unable to debate and form coherent arguments in response to criticism.

    The new approach is to pretend to take personal insult and the PM’s blatant refusal to listen to or respond to criticism is extremely worrying. He appears to be annoyed that the little people are questioning him.

    We are being ‘led’ by pretentious non-entities who seem wrapped up in their own ideology and this really grates on intelligent people who see the ACTUAL results and not some chart that is designed to show the government in a good light; not neccessarily the truth.

    If things continue like this our ‘system’ will collapse and I suspect that relying on computer models too much also takes away the impact of results of actions from these politicians.

    Comment by Max Richards — 11 Mar 2004 on 4:01 pm | Link
  6. The world as led by Bush and Blair (or any such leader of the US and UK probably) is a very bad thing (I won’t resort to such childish words as "Evil" as they would). Given the time and requisite effort, I’d attempt to try and explain, but do you ever get the feeling the only people who bother to listen already know anyway?

    Comment by Lodjer — 11 Mar 2004 on 4:17 pm | Link

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