Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Read Nick Cohen

It's been an unusually topical Tuesday on ToE today. Here's one more for you.

Nick Cohen has this superb piece in the Observer on the wrong-headedness and long-term irrelevance of the latest Iraq inquiry. Nick at his best, this: concise, mostly irrefutable and cutting clear through all the crap.


Gaw said...

Negligence with regard to the war's aftermath is a far more serious accusation than its illegality. I'd like to know more about how Blair felt able to tolerate such a lack of preparation.

Anyone who would like their hair to stand on end about how post-war Iraq was managed should read this.

Sean said...

Good to see nick on the wagon again.

Garth you can prepare all you like, wars have a dynamic of their own. Did we know after the first Gulf war that we would be bombing Irag more or less every day until the second Gulf war in defense of the No fly Zones?

In historical warfare terms Iraq has been pretty cheap in human life, and pretty successful.

Wars are in essence organised chaos. You can always do things better the trick is when you are bad, hope that it does not matter, when you are better, Hope that it is good enough.

The question that really matters is can Western Powers muster the political will to fight these type of intervention wars in the future.

We no longer live in a world where nuclear arms are a technological problem as well as an engineering problem, they are only the later and with a couple of 100 playstations linked together as a supercomputer you can shortcut the engineering problems by about two thirds.

I used to have dealings with a small engineering firm in Joberg who where knocking bits of nuclear weapons out unknowingly for the Libyan nuclear program, its a frighteningly small world.

If this shindig in Whitehall concentrates on exploring some of these dilemmas, problems and threats facing us as letting off a bit of steam with a few rotten tomatoes, then it will be worth it.

malty said...

Watching the inquiry today as Hoon was drawn into to the jolly japes show was akin to eavesdropping a conversation in a nineteen fifties gents club.

Add this to Gaws link comprehensively covers the abuse of power by a group of messianic individuals.

Interesting comment from Shaun regarding his Joberg engineers, I was actively involved, as a major supplier to Matrix Churchill, in the Iraqi weapons programme. Matrix supplied machine tools used to manufacture shells, were then sold by the TI group to the Iraqi equivalent to our ROF, supplied finished machines then knock down kits then helped the Iraqis set up their own machine tool manufacturing plant. For many months I trained Iraqi engineers, by this time all they had left were camel drivers so 'cat in hell's chance' came to mind. A 'security officer' accompanied the engineers, trained assassin more than likely. At about this time things got nasty, acting in a turnkey roll as engineers we began to see drawings not of munitions but rocket size stuff and the material Maraging iron began to appear, this a popular choice for things nuclear, bells had began to ring.

Then the shit hit the fan, Saddy baby invaded Kuwait and went from hero of the west, (I had a photograph of Douglas Hurd on my office wall imploring us, at a Baghdad exhibition, to help our friends in their struggle against the Iranians) to pariah in ten minutes flat.
In short order Matrix folded, the remains picked over by G.Robinson MP, and another hookey type, funny that, how the premises on Fletchamstead highway kinda, slid off the books.

I never really recovered and although it took some years finally went under in 1999, December the nineteenth to be precise.

Cohen gets to the root, as usual, it should be noted that the area is yet another that the weird and wonderfull British Empire cooked up, one more nail that Peter can drive into our coffin.

worm said...

interesting stuff Malty!! (and we own a property on the fletchampstead highway too!)

malty said...

Worm, a Jaguar dealership now stands where Matrix (Coventry Tool and Guage) once stood. The whole area was a hive of, Matrix, Wickmans Auto, Covrad, BL Metrology and of course, the pub itself.

Gaw said...

Shaun, it's not a question of what sort of preparation was done. There was next to none and what was done was hopelessly politicised. Read that book I linked to and if you're not shocked at what shit passed for brains there's summat wrong with you.

BTW getting things as right as you can make them - rather than fucking things up because you're negligent - might be recognised as a good way to maintain the 'political will to fight'.

Brit said...

Great stuff, Malty.

Btw fellas - this is a pre-watershed blog with a very varied readership. Bloodys and craps are ok, nothing worse than that unless strictly necessary please.

Gadjo Dilo said...

As Gaw says, Iraq is hair standing on end territory. Cohen puts it well.

Gaw said...

Just to clear things up for Malty and me: can we assume the word that ends the phrase 'sub-verbal sack of..' isn't welcome? I've always regarded this as a swear word in the venial rather than mortal category (along with crap) especially when embedded in an idiom such as the 'sub-verbal hits the fan' or 'sub-verbal for brains'.

If so: sorry! Verboten from now on. But I do have a problem in refraining from swearing in front of the kids, one of the dangers of which was brought home to me when my 3-year old son described me to his mother as a 'bossy bugger'. She didn't know whether to admonish him or applaud him.

Hey Skipper said...

Negligence with regard to the war's aftermath is a far more serious accusation than its illegality.

The war's aftermath is on the Iraqis.

It is worth remembering that the most recent experience with collapsing totalitarian / authoritarian regimes was essentially benign. The Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ended up on the ash heap of history -- precisely the same place Saddam belonged -- with an astonishing lack of bloodshed.

Therefore, I think it at least excusable that no one put a huge amount of thought into post-Saddam Iraq, because essentially no one thought the Iraqis would rather slaughter each other than have a civil society.

Fortunately, there was a beneficial unintended consequence: nothing could have so thoroughly discredited sectarian Islam than did 2003-2006.