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Eddie Mair | 16:45 UK time, Thursday, 7 December 2006

What do YOU think?


  1. At 04:49 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Matt Whitby wrote:

    Was Saddam Hussein evil? Yes, seemingly so.

    Did we have the right to remove him? Morally I dare say we did.

    Legally? It would appear to be dubious.

    History will no doubt show that it's a better place without him, but Blair's legacy can be nothing more than being seen for the duplicitous man he is.

  2. At 04:56 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Member of the Public wrote:

    Ok Eddie, (From previous thread).

    Three and a half years after the fall of Baghdad, it is clear that the well-intentioned campaign to bring democracy to Iraq and remake the political landscape of the Middle East is hopelessly stalled. Violence, whether committed by anti-Western insurgents or sectarian militia members, has become such a feature of daily life in Iraq - specifically in and around Baghdad - that it would be hard to escape the conclusion that the presence of foreign troops might well be causing more problems than it solves.

    Even those Iraqis who are not directly affected by the violence are forced to live in a country whose Government is unable to provide basic services and infrastructure. Certainly, getting the troops home has been the object of the US campaign from day one. From the start, this was not a war of occupation but of liberation.

    I think today, foreign troops raise rather than lower the political temperature in the country, provoking violence merely by their presence. And in being the main avenue for security in Iraq, they prevent the Iraqi security forces from doing their job - namely, ensuring the safety and sovereignty of the new Iraqi Government.

  3. At 04:56 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Belinda wrote:

    I think that we (i.e. the western world) should never have committed troops in the first place. I think that we did invade for the wrong reasons. I think we went in without being prepared and are now paying the consequences. I think we have let down the Iraqi people badly after promising so much and delivering so little. I am ashamed of seeing or hearing the footage and knowing that I live in a country which contributed to the mess.

    To put something controversial forward: In my view, perhaps the only way to 'win' this war (and I use the term 'win' sarcastically of course) is to commit more troops. There is an old statistic that a winning military side needs a ratio of armed troops of something like 10:1 compared to the enemy in order to be successful, however the US/UK did not commit enough troops or equipment initially to get the 'job' done and, perhaps most crucially, failed to identify the real enemy.

  4. At 05:07 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Peter Wharton wrote:

    The two Bs (Blair & Bush!) are looking at damage limitation. I fear that we will see on the News soon, troops being airlifted out of Iraq. At the same time there will be rockets landing at the airport with the Paras defending the perimeter. A mixture of the fall of Saigon and Dunkirk.
    Perhaps we should look at which businesses have made money out of this fiasco.
    I suspect that there are many companies from both sides of the Pond that see localised wars as a nice little earner. A pity that people have to die and be disabled for the sake pf profits and prophets.

  5. At 05:07 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Big Sister wrote:

    My, that's a huge question, Eddie, at this time of night.

    I'll try a really short answer:

    If the country hadn't been oil-rich, the West would have tutted, but done nothing. This is what the West does in many other situations where human rights are woefully disregarded.

    Saddam was a tyrant and directed a regime of terror. But the country was, apparently, relatively stable up until the invasion by Bush et al.

    In the name of freedom, the oil hungry Western alliance, led by President Bush, chose to intervene in the affairs of Iraq.

    While Saddam was immoral, the West was, in my opinion, as immoral in another way, because its leaders had not adequately thought through the impact of its actions. This lack of foresite and act of foolish recklessness has resulted in the unnecessary loss of life that we now see in Iraq on a daily basis.

    Moreover, as many Iraqis now report, where once there was a regime where the rules, immoral though they were, were 'understood' by the ordinary Iraqi, now there is total anarchy of the worst possible kind, with ongoing genocide, random killing, and absolute terror.

    No. It was wrong. Saddam did need to be replaced, but not in this way.

    Where does it go from here? My guess is that Bush will now use the findings of the Iraq Study Group to withdraw.

    My own thoughts are that it is now well past time (but, perhaps, not too late) to convene a summit of all nations in the area and to try to come to a workable agreement on how to unravel this horrible mess. But any interference by Western powers should be kept to the absolute minimum. And - yes! - involve Israel, but as an equal, not greater, voice.

    This is my abridged view. You asked for it!

  6. At 05:20 PM on 07 Dec 2006, JSF wrote:

    Ann Clywd makes the crass assertion that life in Iraq is better now than under Saddam Hussein. I very much doubt that she would say that so easily and willingly if she had to live there like so many Iraqis with no prospect of escape.

  7. At 05:23 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Mark wrote:

    Never admit you're wrong. Never admit you've made a mistake. The Thatcherite credo which forms the backbone of Blairite policies means we are condemned to repeat past errors.

  8. At 05:24 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Belinda [1], if we need 10:1 "our" military to "the enemy" in Iraq in order to "win", we ought to be seriously worried: probably 10% of the Iraqi population want the invading armies out of their country and might fight to achieve that aim. If we need to send in forces to the same number as the total population of Iraq we are in even worse trouble than we've just been told. It just ain't practical, even if we had that many million trained soldiers available.

  9. At 05:26 PM on 07 Dec 2006, mark shepherd wrote:

    What is Anne on about with her "mass graves nolonger being created" now that Sadam is caught?
    Can she explain what happened to the mass graves created by our troops at the start of our invasion of Iraq in the initial 'push' for control and where we only 'salvaged' our own dead and shoved the Iraqi corpses under the sand?

  10. At 05:29 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Robert Earl wrote:

    I used to regard Ann Clwyd as Blair's pet warmonger and loath her accordingly.

    After listening to her miserably rambling through her usual list of excuses, though, I now feel sorry for her.

    How must it be to live with the knowledge that the keystone of your career has been so murderously misguided ?

    How must it be to know that the blood of so many people is on your hands ?

  11. At 05:35 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Mark Drew wrote:

    Recognise there is no going back we are where we are. What are the options:
    1. A withdrawl would leave a vacuum that would be filled by full blown civil war or intervention by external parties (Turkey, Syria, Iran, Saudia Arabia or others) or a combination of both. This would be a dreadful legacy.
    2. The opposite: full re-inforcement of alliance troops (not just UK and USA) is likely to make things worse in the near term.
    3. The middle ground tactical disengagement looks the probable approach that the USA will adopt forcing the rest of the alliance members along that path. It would seem appropriate to engage and commit neighbouring countries to supporting that approach with their activie support and participation.

    I favour the pragmatic 3rd option.

  12. At 05:39 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Karl Handy wrote:

    What do I think?
    You may be interested Eddie, but do THEY care what we think? No... Not really.
    I have felt so angry about Iraq, and I know there are thousands upon thousands like me. I know however that our opinions will always be ignored whilst politicians play their games, so I've stopped thinking too deeply about it.
    It saddens me that I have come to this.
    I know that what has happened/is happening in Iraq is wrong, but what can I do in the face of presidential/prime ministerial arrogance of such monumental proportions?

  13. At 05:46 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Morally - we only had the right to intervene because of a) human rights atrocities against Saddam's own people, b) the perceived threat to our own nations because of Saddam's interest in acquiring WMD (which were never found).

    The human rights issue could have been dealt with by assassinating Saddam. I don't like this at all but you won't convince me it doesn't happen.

    The WMD was already being investigated by the UN inspectors until they were ordered out. We'll never know now, but my belief is Saddam wanted us all to believe he had them - when he didn't.

    Legally - we had no right at all. The UK and USA belong to the UN, yet when the UN declined to sanction the war we went ahead anyway. Very, very dodgy no matter how you look at it.

    The ongoing presence of (let's call them) occupying forces is aggravating the chaos. I feel so sorry for those servicemen and women ... they are doing their best despite morally and legally suspect orders from On High and a Just-In-Time system of supply that means they may not have the right equipment when they need it.

    A summit is the only answer. And it needs to be chaired by someone who understands the Arab mentality and has the respect of all partis. It's completely different from the Western mindset -- THAT IS WHY IT'S SO HARD!!!!!

  14. At 05:49 PM on 07 Dec 2006, daniel wimberley wrote:

    Ann Clwyd's comments were astounding. They also show the blind alley of a foreign policy which is intimately tied up with a consumerist, growth-oriented attitude to life - the attitude shared by the 3 main parties, I might add.

    Yes Saddam is a bad man and a bad President. So, she says, it is right to remove him. What an extraordinary doctrine!

    What about all the other bad presidents? Do we "go after" them all? Why did we do regime change in Iraq, but not in Rwanda? or Sudan? or Indonesia under the bad guy they had there? Or the Philippines (under Marcos)?

    Of course, it wasn't about regime change, it was about Weapons of Mass Destruction. Ah, but there weren't any, that was a pretext. Oh, so it WAS about oil. I rather thought it was. And establishing a "presence" in the region, etc.

    And why do "we" (i.e. those who claim to represent us) need to have guaranteed access to oil? - because of our galumphing lifestyle.

    If you want the political and moral space for our country, (or any other) to have an ethical foreign policy, and other ethical policies too, then the assumptions behind the policies have to change.

    And the only Party that I know of which has different assumptions about economic growth and how to ensure quality of life sustainably, and who have been working out what that might mean for years, (rather than finding out too late and reacting too little) is the Green Party

  15. At 05:54 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    I would agree with a lot of the above, as well as wanting to add that the days of US intervention really should be over. The Middle East is a mess, to use a technical term, and the Israel/Palestine conflict is key.

  16. At 06:02 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Angela Greenwell wrote:

    As a Scottish woman living in Basrah from 1979-80 - the first year of Saddam Hussein's presidency - I felt free to walk the streets with my young sons. Iraqi woman were dressed in western clothes, held high positions in the workplace and were respected. After three years since the illegal invasion of Iraq, everyone fears for their lives.

    When I was in Iraq, it was not an easy place for a foreign woman, but this was expected in a muslim country. However, Iraqis flourished in business and those that were given the opportunity were highly educated.

    I was against the war and have seen the situation worsening over the last three years. I feel deeply disturbed by the violence and the ruination of the country, leading to a situation where Iraqis are killing each other. How can anyone say that the country is better now than when Saddam Hussein was in power? I feel ashamed to be British.

  17. At 06:23 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Nicola Williamson wrote:

    Re: the item on shooting. I was heartened that you stressed the economic value of shoots, but by implying that shooting and eating pleasant is an activity only for the rich and privileged, you left an opening for the anti-blood sports brigade. I fear that they will use the 'only for the toffs' argument that they used to have fox hunting banned. And, why did no one challenge the old chestnut of birds only bred to be shot? What's wrong with that? Game birds have a fine life until the inevitable happens, compare that with the life of a battery chicken. Where I live in Warwickshire, the shooting season means jobs and very cheap meals! We lunched amply today on a casseroled plump hen pheasant bought for £2.50 from my local butcher who gets his stock from a local shoot.

  18. At 06:33 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Martin Firth wrote:

    Did I hear Anne Clwyd right? I thought I heard her say that the reason for invading Iraq was to remove Saddam Hussein. Perhaps I missed something.

    I, like millions of others, thought it was due to breach of UN Resolution 1441 relating to weapons inspectors' access to alleged WMD (hard when you don't have any!)

    Surely she is not suggesting that, in addition to being misled over the very existence of WMD, we were also misled over the reasons for actually invading? Is she really saying that Blair had made up his mind to go to war anyway and all this 1441 stuff was a smokescreen?

    Heaven forbid!

  19. At 07:02 PM on 07 Dec 2006, admin annie wrote:

    I agree with so much of what has gone before; if we are all so far sighted and humane etc etc why is it that our politicians are not. Why are they poodles for America who will not look beyond the command to jump? are they stupid? or arrogant? or both? I've said it before and I'm saying it again, what is democratic about our system when a million plus people can march against the war and be totally ignored by teh poeple who say they have been elected to represent them.

  20. At 08:29 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Paul Cracknell wrote:

    I think there's something disappointingly inflexible about politics that can not break out of the boxes of black and white into the real world full of shades of gray. I was fortunately distracted by a traffic jam whilst driving home otherwise I'd have been getting irate listening to Anne Clwyd's interview!

    Why do things have to be completely better or worse in Iraq as the only possible scenarios politicians fall back too? Surely it depends on where you assess from. Is it better to have trials before execution - obviously that's better. Is democracy better than an abusive dictator - I think so too.

    But there were some good things under Saddam. Iraq was generally recognised as a tolerant country with relative freedoms at a general level. Is it better to constantly fear for your safety as you go about your daily living, have no water and be on the brink of civil war - obviously not. In this respect things are indisputably worse.

  21. At 08:32 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Belinda wrote:

    Chris Fish (8): Oh, I know that it isn't practical in the slightest, never claimed that it was, but I guess it is no more impractical than what they are actually trying to do, which is fight a war/maintain the current situation while severely under numbered and under-supported.
    If the numbers were not available to fight the war properly (which they were not), then the entire thing should never have happened (and frankly, it should never have happened anyway). Actually, I'm being silly by saying "fighting the war" in the first place, given that they started the damn thing. That phrase implied that they were helping out with a current situation.

    From the benefit of hindsight, you have to ask: Who on earth thought it would be practical and easy for a few thousand troops to enter a country, bomb the country, overthrow the leader and his cronies who were running the country, install a new government and overhaul the political system, initiate a new economy and trade agreements, repair and maintain nation-wide essential services such as water and electricity supplies, train an entire army and simultaneously destroy insurgent terrorism?

    I'll reiterate my opinion from a previous thread: Had the leaders bothered to look in a history book and learned from it, then this would never have happened. But maybe it would have - humanity is just that stupid.

  22. At 09:39 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Graeme Hall wrote:

    Dear Eddie

    Listening to Baker-Hamilton report and what Me Bush and Blair say about it today, I would like to suggest to both leaders and in fact both nations that time has come for the US and UK to withdraw support from the Israeli goverment policies and demonstarte their good faith towards the people of middleeast and Islamic world. By doing so, they will solve numerous problems for many nations involved and make it easier for Mr Bush- and Blair to get access to cheaper source of energy (oil and gas) in a peaceful manner.
    I welcome an open debate on my view amony your listeners and commentators.

  23. At 10:18 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    Is there a pronunciation guide for news readers on the word Iraq? Most of them seem to go with the posh-sounding IraRq, but I’m not sure that fits in with how locals there say it. Hopefully, I’ve concentrated on the least controversial aspect of this story.

  24. At 10:21 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Peter Jones wrote:

    Whatever the rights and wrongs (mostly wrongs) of how we got there, lets not forget that its not the coalition who are murdering Iraqis - its other Iraqis.

  25. At 11:19 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I've said before that it's alarming to find one's self, even after more than six decades of depreciation to still be vastly more clever than Our Great Leaders. I agree with most of what has been said above, and particularly by Graeme.

    The seemingly unquestioning support of the US for the Israeli Rogue Terrorist State, and Blair's collusion as illustrated most recently last Summer is at the root of most of the hatred and resentment we face from the Islamic world. The understandable but tragically misguided Zionist project, a colonial enterprise a century too late to be acceptable was recognised by many wise and prescient Jews as terribly mistaken.

    Would that they had been heeded! There is still time to do the right thing, but it becomes more costly every day.

    You can spot a mealy mouth if you pay attention to the pronouns:

    "It's important that all of us who are engaged in this, but particularly those in the region, live up to THEIR responsibilities in ensuring that Iraq is able to proceed in a democratic and non-sectarian way."

    Houb Salaam

  26. At 11:23 PM on 07 Dec 2006, admin annie wrote:

    while I quite agree that it is more than time that Shrub and Bleaagghh demonstrate some goodwill and good faith towards the world of Islam as sugggested by Graeme @22, could I point out that this does not necessarily mean withdrawing support from Israel as a corollary? The Israelis often do themselves no favours in international matters, but they are not the Bad Guys of the Middle East, or if you want to argue that they are then they are certainly not the only bad boys onhte block.

  27. At 11:24 PM on 07 Dec 2006, Roberto Carlos Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR wrote:

    Hussein without a doubt was evil. But Bush and Company has started a hornets nest that will result in our eventual loss. The only solution [for America] is for the Republicans and Democrats to resign and be replaced by a Multiracial Multiethnic Libertarian/Green Government.

  28. At 11:24 PM on 07 Dec 2006, gossipmistress wrote:

    I'm amazed Anne Clywd could speak at all with her head so firmly planted in the sand. Has she actually ASKED any Iraqis whether thy consider life is better now that before we invaded? Would she consider her own life to be acceptable if every day she set off for work wondering whether she would be blown up or kidnapped and shot?

    We have created a huge violent mess. I can't imagine that continuing to meet violence with army tactics will ever produce any sort of peace. At some point Bush & Blair will have to talk to those responsible for the violence, just as eventually happened in Northern Ireland.

  29. At 12:02 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Martin wrote:

    Iraq is America's Suez. It has perfectly demonstrated the limits of her power. What "we" do now is irrelevant to everyone except those who will die as a result. History moves on, and Blair's legacy is even worse than he imagines.

  30. At 12:07 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I'm sorry, but the Israelis were the original terrorists in Palestine (remember the King David Hotel?) and they were the one third of the population (British census of 1946) who violently dispossessed the majority native population and have denied their right of return in abrogation of the conditions under which they were admitted to the UN.

    They have also got more UN resolutions outstanding and totally disregarded than all the rest of the UN put together. They callously destroyed Lebanon's airport and oil storage and much other civilian infrastructure in a dispute the origins of which remain obscure.

    If you (or anyone else) want a good summary history of the origins of the conflict, written by Jews, follow the link, and if you want to see the thoughts of over 300 prominent American Jews from 1919 and to marvel at their prescience and wisdom, try here.

    The Israelis may not be the 'bad guys', but they are the first and worst. The disproportionate casualty figures from the recent adventure in Lebanon tell one story, but the figures from Palestine are far worse.

    Sorry, but this is a running sore, and the arrogance of the Zionist project is at the heart of it. Like the sentiments of shame for our disastrous meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan expressed above, Zionism and its behaviour in Palestine is a disgrace to Judaism, and to Our Great Leaders who have supplied the cluster bombs and turned a blind eye.

    Please read the list of signatories to the 1919 statement.

    Houb Salaam

  31. At 12:17 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Hi folks,

    Here's a handy guide toHow to refresh your understanding of the situation in Iraq.

    Vaya con Gaia

  32. At 05:15 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Rosalind wrote:

    Dear Graeme and Ed I,

    Have you thought through the consequences of leaving Israel without support? I mean really thought through? How would you cope with the wreckage?

    And I do mean that, what suggestions would you have with coping with the results?

  33. At 09:03 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Sorry, folks. Haven't had time to read all contributions yet, but here is an email I sent yesterday. Didn't hear most of the programme.
    Dear PM

    Do I understand this correctly?

    You and your mate invade a country (Iraq) on spurious grounds.

    Three years later, when things are not going well, you decide that the only
    solution to your problem is to put pressure on another country (Israel) to give up even more
    of its territory than it already has. I think Oliver North would call that "A neat idea."

    Yours aye,


  34. At 09:33 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Fifi wrote:


    Not one posting in support of our government's current position on Iraq.

    Not even one.

    What is that telling you, Number Ten?

    (Hello? Is anyone there. . . . ?)

  35. At 10:14 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Mark Intime wrote:

    Like the other froggers above I consider the Iraqi war an illegal disaster and similarly consider the intervention by GWB and TB to be more linked to oil than WMDs. However, I also feel that baby shrub had been told by daddy shrub to sort out the mess he left after the first Gulf war. oh dear. Cynisism, unlike fine wines, does not get better with age, just more obvious.
    And to show the usual unbiased line of the BBC, are there ANY suicide froggers out their who actually agree with Anne Clywd?

  36. At 10:26 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Member of the Public wrote:

    Hello Eddie,

    Tony Blair needs to start taking decisions that are in the best interests of British troops on the ground, and the Iraqi people, rather than kowtowing to the White House as President Bush considers his next move.

    It may mean an immediate withdrawal of our armed forces. It may not. It may mean the US and Britain entering into a diplomatic dialogue with Iraq and Syria. It may not.

    Either way, these are far-reaching issues which should have been properly aired by now on the floor of the House of Commons, given how any response to the Iraq Study Group will, inevitably, underpin Britain's foreign policy for the forseeable future.

  37. At 10:37 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Big Sister wrote:

    Sadly GM (28) the likelihood is that Ms Clwyd will have spoken to 'some' Iraqis just as others in power spoke to 'some' Iraqis prior to the invasion. The problem was that those Iraqis had their own agenda.

    If anyone else watched the State Within will have been struck, as was I, last night when Secretary of Defense Lynn Warner mentioned, en passant, that there needed to be a credible exit strategy in place prior to mounting the invasion being proposed in the series. How those words must ring in the ears of Bush and Blair!

    Looking at the BBC Press Office website for said miniseries, I offer the following quote from the writers, Dan Percival and Lizzie Mickery:

    "Do you believe what your leaders tell you? Behind the doors in the corridors of power a terrifying plot is being forged.

    "Trust no-one. Truth and lies are sacrificed for expediency. "

    How very true!

  38. At 10:46 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Vyle and Rosalind and fellow froggers,

    Apologies yet again for speaking of the pachyderm in the pond.

    1. I am not expecting Israel to give up ANY of 'its territory'. A return to the 'green line' and the abandonment of the illegal settlements would leave the colonists in possession of more than 77% of Palestine, 22% more than was proposed for the 33% of the population in 1948.

    2. I don't think there would be any 'wreckage' if we stopped unconditionally supporting and arming Israel. She has nuclear weapons and is demonstrably unafraid to 'defend' herself. If you want to find wreckage, visit Gaza and the West Bank.

    Please follow the links provided. Most of them lead to concerned Jewish folk who are as embarrassed and concerned that the activities of the Zionist state are not being done in their name as we are that the activities of Bush and Blair are not in my name.

    If you doubt my sources, please try others. The history is clear to those who are prepared to dig a little. I commend Mideastweb, a coexistence-baised gropu based in Israel, who have archived many original historic documentation and good, balanced material.

    In sadness and hope of eventual peace for all the peoples of the world


    P.S. This may also be of interest.

  39. At 11:16 AM on 08 Dec 2006, ian wrote:

    Iraq, therefore I am?

  40. At 11:25 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Vyle Hernia wrote:


    You obviously have a great deal of information and opinion at your fingertips. However, if:

    the Welsh were lobbing rockets into England, or sending in suicide bombers because they didn't think England had a right to exist etc., I would support the English building a massive defence; the fact that no building is allowed within (50?) metres of the wall is unfortunate but necessary.

    None of the wars in which Israel was involved since 1948 were started by Israel. Apart from the tragedy in Lebanon, they all resulted in Israel acquiring more of the land as detailed in the Old Testament. Those who wish to attack Israel militarily would do well to ponder this "Coincidence".

  41. At 11:42 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Belinda wrote:

    I think everyone is between Iraq and a hard place.


  42. At 11:53 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    1. Israel started the 1967 war. Check it out.
    2. Israel started terrorism in Palestine. Check it out
    3. Timeline for 1948. Who started it?
    4. Check the population figures. Who were the minority colonists?
    5. Why are the native Palestinians expected to bear the cost of European guilt for the Holocaust, with which they had nothing to do?
    6. Origins and evolution of the problem (UN documents)
    7. Check the disproportionate killing of children, women, and civilians.
    8. Check out the wall and here.
    9. Check out Zionist Racism.
    10. Read the Road Map and the Israeli 'reservations', and see the nature of the 'state' on offer to the Palestinians - no control of their own borders, airspace, sea access, and no ability to makje alliances, maintain defence force3s, etc. Some 'state'!
    11. Read this, and tell me Israel seeks a just peace.

    You're right. I have a mass of information and (informed, I hope) opinion.


  43. At 11:59 AM on 08 Dec 2006, pinkle wrote:

    Bit late on this but here goes:

    I have no idea what to think. I don't really understand any of it. I know bits and pieces but it's hard to know what's real and what's not. I have a vague sense that I should be feeling guilty for some reason. I wish people didn't have to suffer.

    There, bit simplistic, even immature I guess but it's my honest thoughts. And if you can't be honest with Eddie Mair... well. He might ask you the question again with a hint of incredulity, thus forcing you to be honest. :D

  44. At 12:37 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    At 11:25 AM on 08 Dec 2006, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    "they all resulted in Israel acquiring more of the land as detailed in the Old Testament."

    Resolution 242 (part) 1967:
    Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

    Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

    Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

    Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

    Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

    Here is a list of UN resolutions with which Israel has not complied.

    Houb Salaam

  45. At 01:39 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    As the actual 'topic' is Iraq, I'll take the liberty of re-posting this:
    Nearly as Many Contractors as Soldiers in Iraq

    There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the US military force there, according to the military's first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield.

    So it seems the plan is to get rid of the problem by privatising it. Like most privatisations, this will, no doubt, cost more and enrich corporations even more than the present methods, but what else is government for but to ensure The Economy (corporate hegemony)?

    Cynically yours,

  46. At 02:37 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Ed (44)

    I have the effrontery to suggest that perhaps

    the Old Testament has more authority than the UN.

    BTW, they didn't really write "Belligerency" did they?

  47. At 03:09 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I prefer the UN, and, according to Yale University's Law web, they did write belligerency.

    Dubya went to Yale.

    Houb Salaam

  48. At 04:29 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Israel destroying homes of Palestinian Bedouins

    12/6/2006 11:00:00 PM GMT

    The Israeli Interior Ministry ordered the demolition of more than 42,000 homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev desert.


  49. At 04:43 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A picture is worth a thousand words

  50. At 04:49 PM on 08 Dec 2006, gossipmistress wrote:

    Big Sis (38) Sorry - I was a doing a bit of a rant after listening to Anne C on 'listen Again' - what I should have said was:

    Has she actually ASKED any representative Iraqis, rather than a few carefully picked people who presumably tell her what she wants to hear.

    I disagree with MOP (2) about the campaign to bring democracy to Iraq being well-intentioned, at least on the part of Bush. It
    always seemed to me that it was just somewhere easy for him to vent his spleen after 9/11, to finish what his father started and flex american muscle.

  51. At 04:57 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Suzi Sue wrote:

    Ed Iglehart, you are the man.

    And Peter Wharton:
    "Perhaps we should look at which businesses have made money out of this fiasco." What a master of understatement!

    A lot of the rest of the froggers come across like Sun readers. Where did PM go wrong?

  52. At 05:11 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Suzi Sue wrote:

    Ed Iglehart, you are the man.

    And Peter Wharton:
    "Perhaps we should look at which businesses have made money out of this fiasco." What a master of understatement!

    A lot of the rest of the froggers come across like Sun readers. Where did PM go wrong?

  53. At 05:56 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Big Sister wrote:

    gossipmistress - I think we agree on this one. And well done for the airing just now on the prog.

  54. At 06:02 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Speakin' as a fish, I'd be very pleased if the Old Testament were accepted as the ultimate authority on who lives where a few thousand years after it was written: I have this memory that in at least some of it, everything was underwater and only Noah and his family survived the inundation, so presumably us fish get the entire world apart from the top of a mountain somewhere...

    Belinda, I was agreeing with you when I suggested we just don't have the manpower to "win" the Iraq invasion going by the suggestion you made. Is there any convention for froggers that makes it easy to indicate a slightly frivolous comment that ought to be read with a wry grin?

  55. At 06:15 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Rosalind wrote:

    Ed I: I couldn't agree more that there are many Israelis who are deeply unhappy about what is done in their name. That is part of democracy I suppose. It happens here too! I also know of many Jews in this country who are against what is going on in Israel's name.

    But just as repression by Israel makes martyrs elsewhere, so too constant threats, by which I mean rocket attacks and refusal to allow Israel's existence, leads to more hard line attitudes in Israel. It works both ways.

    But how many people are you in contact with in , say, Iraq, or iran or anywhere else in that area, who are free to oppose their governments and are able to think the whole thing through in public?

    I still think that you have not thought through the results of withdrawing support for Israel. Your attitude seemed to me that Israel has a nuclear arsenal so that is OK, they can defend themselves. But what happens if just once they lose, and don't choose to use nuclear weapons?

    They are doomed if they lose just once,It is asy for us here, w don't have such horrendous don't forget. Or do you assume that the population will be OK if they do lose?

    It is relatively easy for us here, we can be judgemental from afar. It is not so easy when you are living there, as the Iraqis or the Palestinians or the Israelis know only too well. This is let alone those who live in all those countries in what we used to call the Middle East, who seem to be living partly in a horrible world left behind by European anti-Semitism!

  56. At 06:18 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    gossip mistress, your were read out, as I am sure you know. Oh how I wish I could hear Eddie's dulcet tones enunciate Helen Sparkles!

    Re all the above regarding Israel, I declare an interest because my family are Jewish, but that just means I know the theology, politics, and history of the region. The disapora tend to be quite vocal in their unrelenting support of the Holy Land, but many Israelis were a great deal more liberal prior to the suicide bombers. Without condoning any behaviour, I completely understand why anyone would resort to such measures when their voices are otherwise going unheard, and the Israelis should have been listening sooner.

    A two state solution is crucial,as is some acknowledgemetn of all the UN rulings Israel has ignored with the support from the USA. No American politician wants to lose the Jewish vote, just as they didn't want to lose the Irish vote when the IRA were in the midst of their bombing campaign, and their treasure troves were very much swelled by the Irish-American purse.

    One person's freedom fighter is another's terrorist, but peace is imperative.

  57. At 06:18 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Rosalind wrote:

    So sorry there are plenty of errors in what I wrote just now, I thought I was pressing the preview button!

  58. At 06:20 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Chris Ghoti (54) a grin usually does the trick if comment is frivolous; (-: don't know how you'd make it look wry though!

  59. At 06:25 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Suzie Sue, as you know, it was your browser playing up, but you would be the woman to re-design the blog if Lissa could call on your services.

  60. At 07:08 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Jews want a homeland, they still fear the holocaust could be repeated & that isn't too wild a though when Rwanda can occur in the 20th century, but it remains a complete anathema to me that a persecuted people can persecute others. The Palestinians are persecuted & the West has not acted fast enough. We do have some responsiblity for the Israel/Palestine conflict, if only in the history of land division. Israel occupies a notoriously unstable piece of land & we need to own our responsibility and assist a peaceful way to progress.

  61. At 07:09 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Belinda wrote:

    Chris Fish (54), Oh I know you were agreeing with me ultimately. How could you not? I am right after all (Just kidding). I guess a wry grin would be ;-) or something like that. But whether we want to descend into that filthy symbolism is down to the majority. If we're not careful, we may be misconstrued as Sun readers...oh oops, too late.

  62. At 07:33 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Big Sister wrote:

    Belinda/Chris: Wry grin? :-]

  63. At 07:40 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Sometimes we have to Click talk to terrorists

    I wonder if that will publish as a link; it hasn't worked for me yet, even though I do fine on my own blog! Otherwise this is what it should read;www.royalcourttheatre.com/productions_play_detail_past.asp?PlayID=395

  64. At 07:58 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Vyle Hernia (46) "I have the effrontery to suggest that perhaps the Old Testament has more authority than the UN.

    Should one believe in God, one would be aware that human beings are falliable, and possibly getting our interpretation of the Bible wrong in either Testament. The number of secular Jews is anyway growing faster than those who believe, even in Israel. Should you be of a religious persuasion, try theselyricson for size; because God knows so often we get it wrong.

    I suspect the value system of the UN is not so far away from Christianity, not as far away as Israel’s treatment of Palestine.

    *if trying to create a link doesn't work, this is the web address of the lyrics: http://danbern.redacorn.net/lyrics/godsaidno.html

  65. At 07:58 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Rosalind wrote:

    To Helen Sparkles,
    I looked at your site and found nowhere to contact you.

    I assume it is because i am blind!

    I get the feeling that we have issues in common.

  66. At 08:01 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Oh flipping eck, I am getting so fed up with my linking not working :-( & the blogmeisters just tried to prevent me posting so soon after the last in an effort to prevent malicious submissions, as if!

  67. At 09:00 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "They are doomed if they lose just once,"

    Like the native Palestinians, eh?

    Helen, my sister,

    "Israel occupies a notoriously unstable piece of land"

    Strangely, it wasn't unstable until the Zionists came with the idea of setting up an ethno-religious state in a land already occupied.

    Please look into the links I have provided, especially this one

    Houb Salaam

  68. At 11:19 PM on 08 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Helen, my sister,

    I like the lyrics. And here's another word from the Diety: God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule


  69. At 11:20 PM on 08 Dec 2006, gossipmistress wrote:

    Ooo err...I feel like a real grown-up now, albeit one with a dodgey name. Unusually for me I heard it as I was in the car at the time (rather than still at work). My driving was a bit erratic (?erotic) for 30seconds or so.....

    Thank you Big Sis & Helen Sparkles for above. Sparkly Helen don't despair about your links - Ed I taught me how to do them down on the beach - I just cut and pasted his (very clear) instructions and it worked fine. I think it's on wednesday!

  70. At 11:33 PM on 08 Dec 2006, gossipmistress wrote:

    Ooo err...I feel like a real grown-up now, albeit one with a dodgy name. Unusually for me I heard it as I was in the car at the time. My driving was a bit erratic (?erotic) for 30seconds or so.....

    Thank you Big Sis & Helen Sparkles for above. Sparkly Helen don't despair about your links - Ed I taught me how to do them down on the beach - I just cut and pasted his (very clear) instructions and it worked fine. I think it's on wednesday's comments. Go on, give it another try.......

  71. At 12:12 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Thanks for pointing me to the Royal Court, where I found Talking to Terrorists, and Rachel Corrie, of whom I have also read this.

    The bad link from an earlier message should have been this, which I recommend.

    I'm awfully sorry this subject is such a sore point, but it is my considered opinion after some decades of watching and studying and reading the history that until "the West" finally recognises the error of trying to ease our guilt for the Holocaust by supporting the colonisation of Palestine and the violent displacement/dispossession of the native population, there will be no peace, and the Islamic world will never trust us.

    British Map of Palestine in 1946 (Huge file 4Mb- suitable only for broadband) Signed by Moshe Dayan in upper Left
    Palestine showing villages destroyed 1946-...
    And a Gazeteer entry from the 1940s

  72. At 12:29 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Gazeteer entry from the 1940s
    (blush - see, even I can't make the damned things work every time!)

  73. At 12:30 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Ed (67) I was thinking of the Ottaman Empire, and the unstable tract of land which was not then called Israel. Everyone wanted to encroach on the territory because it was the route to everywhere, & historically unstable a bit like the Balkans.

    I clicked your link, very good indeed. I'm still going to have to work on my linking skills, but have a look at this in the meantime; http://www.banksy.co.uk/outdoors/palestine/index.html

    Shabbat Shalom

  74. At 12:34 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    All my posts appeared at once, I feel a little greedy.

    gossip mistress (70) isn't it fabulous having a comment read out in a nom-de-frog! I have cut and pasted the directions for constructing a link from the PM Xtra site, but shall try again.

    In the meantime, Rosalind, I don't have any idea how you would contact me on my blog! I just tried to look it up, but the help file wasn't very helpful. If it helps I have posted 3 times on the Middle East crisis, and if you leave a comment on one of those, I will be notified and can respond there.

    You could leave your email address if you would like to, but it is open to the world.

  75. At 12:41 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    My siblings,

    From B'Tsalem, the Israeli Human Rights Organisation, a summary of the illegal Settlements in the Occupied Territories.

    How can we turn a blind eye?
    In sadness,
    Houb Salaam

  76. At 12:44 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Ed (71) I missed the Royal Court play about Rachel Corrie, but think there might be a film around at the moment. I am clicking your links honest, & thanks for the good stuff. I did see talking to terrorists when it toured in my neck of the woods, & it was excellent.

    I suspect we have done a lot of the same thinking & reading over the years & I hope the West is finally waking up to the Middle East, to behave otherwise is simply dangerous.

    It is a sore point because it is a sore on the sole of humanity, don't apologise.

  77. At 12:57 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    We've found another way to The Beach! With thanks to Helen and Banksie.


  78. At 01:21 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    You are truly my sister! Thanks for the blog links.

    "maybe it also has to do with a really simplistic view of not understanding how a persecuted people can persecute."

    I and the public know
    What all schoolchildren learn,
    Those to whom evil is done
    Do Evil in return.

    -- W.H. AUDEN, "September 1, 1939"

    I have often said that the Jews, of all people, should know better, and many do.

    "It's the Zionists, stupid!" And not even all of them.

    Goodnight and God(s) bless us all (please)

  79. At 05:02 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Jerry Cornelius wrote:

    We invaded Iraq because Harold Wilson wouldn't support the USA in Vietnam.

    Let me explain. That nice Mr Blair was so impressed that his mentor, J Smith, managed to ditch clause 4 that he, Mandie, Gordo, Al (Milburn) and a couple of others decided to go the whole hog.

    Going the whole hog meant adopting completely the opposite policies to old labour so that the Great British Electorate would have confidence that they weren't going to push tax rates back up to 98p in the pound, or whatever they were under Wilson.

    Unfortunately, they didn't know where to stop. The expenditure limits that Brown introduced early on were far tighter than anything Ken Clarke had in mind. They are now to the right of the tories: at least the version of toryism that the also nice Dave Cameron is pushing at present.

    Even more unfortunately they surrounded themselves with people who wouldn't challenge them: political advisers, consultants and technocrats of various kinds whose living depends on fee income or short term contracts. Blair and co. despised the old style mandarins, who they see as simply as barriers to the implementation of 'the project'.

    Thatcher, on the other hand liked them a lot. She loved being surround by very clever, double-first Oxbridge classics men; Robin Butler – twice her private secretary and later head of the home civil service - being a good example. Ok, she ditched quite a few over the years but she did, contrary to popular opinion, take advice from them. Her ‘one of us’ thing is overstated, at least so far as the civil service is concerned.

    My guess - and it is a guess - is that she would have listened to the mandarins, and the top men in the military, if they'd said 'don't do this' and she’d been in Blair’s place when Bush had asked for support for his crusade/vengeance mission against Saddam.

    Instead, we had the big swinging dicks (as I'm sure they'd refer to themselves) around Number 10 - Campbell chief amongst them - saying 'What would old labour have done?'. Well, old labour - in the shape of Harold Wilson - refused to get involved in Vietnam, in spite of considerable pressure from the US to do so.

    So, it was obvious what had to be done. Ignore the advice (not that much advice to the contrary was coming from the now crippled or long since retired mandarins), fabricate some evidence and get in there. Very much the big swinging dick thing to do, very new labour and, of course, very disastrous.

    The raison d’etre of the old mandarins was to help ministers not to embarrass themselves. I guess if you were to ask Blair whether he was at all embarrassed by his decision on Iraq he’d say no: after all, as he’s told us, he was being guided by a higher power. (Come to think of it, I need to extend my list: Blair takes his advice from political advisers, consultants, George Bush and God, although not necessarily in that order.)

    I have no way of knowing whether I'm right on all this, of course, but I think it's at least a plausible hypothesis.

    So far as my feelings are concerned, it's virtually impossible to say how I feel for the people of Iraq who must have hoped for so much from their 'liberation'. Tragedy is, for once, exactly the right word. I also feel deeply for our armed forces: I have worked with many of them, respect them enormously, and am incandescent at the way these decent, always thoughtful and often very intelligent pubic servants have been abused by Blair.

    Their culture is one where they’ll always accept the mission, even though they might advise against it. Not to do so would amount to a military coup. In this case, the mission Blair gave them is totally undoable and for that alone – for putting our forces in harm’s way without providing them with a crystal clear and achievable mission - he should be cast into the outer darkness never to return.

    Unfortunately, what will actually happen is that he and his missus end up making millions on the US lecture circuit. Somehow, life just isn't fair is it Eddie?

    PS – Robin Butler, Lord Butler of that ilk, was very impressive until he became head of the civil service when, for some reason, he seemed to become very weak. Perhaps he’d reached his incompetence level. His famous inquiry was deeply unimpressive – it’s as if he hadn’t even written it himself. Odd.

  80. At 10:47 AM on 09 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Very well put, Mr Cornelius! Every word.
    Houb Salaam

  81. At 01:18 PM on 09 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    My friends,

    Iraq also has economic implications, and thus I commend an article from this weekend's Barron's Magazine, which I have archived temporarily here, and the graphics relating to it
    can be found here.

    Enjoy one of the best acerbic wits on Wall Street.


  82. At 03:51 PM on 09 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Ed (various!) Thanks for all the links, they are brilliant, & I always like to read more. I would just like to be better informed on the whole issue, but I do think that the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin diverted the peace process, do you think? I know you do, I mean what!

  83. At 11:30 AM on 10 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Rabin was the best chance there has been, thus had to be done away with. Even the best imaginable outcome (two viable states, based upon the 'green line' - e.g. the Gush Shalom position) involves a great loss to the native Palestinians.

    My totally unlikely ideal would be a single, secular state, covering the whole of Mandatory Palestine as suggested by those wise Jews in 1919:


    Shalom Haver

  84. At 02:59 PM on 11 Dec 2006, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Mr. Cornelius (79) I agree with Ed I; very well put. I am sure your analysis of Mr. Blair's motivation is correct, having thought that myself without even reading the Sun. In fact, now that I come to think of it, I have never read the Sun. How come I am so naive?

    Funny how there has been so much on here about Israel, though. My only purpose in mentioning it originally was to point out how the Iraq Study Group has brought the Israeli/Palestinian problem into a situation with which it has no connection whatever.

    If Saddam was still running Iraq, the only connection would be the direction of his finger on all those statues.

  85. At 03:25 PM on 11 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    The other connection is that Iraq was a threat only to Israel. The PNAC is dominated by American Zionists, not all of whom are Jewish, and it is they who put Iraq on the agenda. I didn't know who had moved the topic from Iraq, where we had remarkably near unanimity, to Israel, but I find it impossible not to respond on that topic, which has been the subject of exhaustive study ever since I realised my unconscious Zionism, based upon a reading long ago of Uris' Exodus, was just a wee bit naive.

    Thus the flood of links.

    Houb Salaam

  86. At 04:23 PM on 11 Dec 2006, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Ed, at the risk of boring the listeners, Iraq was supposed to be a threat to Cyprus, and by extension UK interests there.

    Most Arab states are a threat to Israel, including the fragmented state of "Palestine". IRIN's president is making noises about erasing Israel, and also having a conference to determine whether Mohammed existed (or something like that). I wrote to him (President, that is) referring to Chernobyl as a warning against expecting radiation to be selective, but he hasn't replied to date.

  87. At 12:13 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Vyle, (3rd attempt)

    Setting the agenda in 2002 (brief papers) Iraq:
    and Iran:

    This is the tail which is wagging the big dog which is humping al Poodle (sorry, make that "rubbing shoulders").

    Houb Salaam
    Iran has not attacked ANYBODY in over a century.
    Most of the Persians I know (not very many) want the regime changed, but from within. Their greatest fear is intervention from our lot.

    Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.
    --Kenneth Boulding

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