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The Descent of Britain

by BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

I believe our case on weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq] is very, very clear indeed. It’s perfectly obvious Saddam has them.

— British Prime Minister Blair, February 25, 2003.

North Korea does now have missile technology that is able to reach the whole of the United States and if they’re able to reach the whole of the United States . . .  they can reach us too, so that is a real concern.

— British Prime Minister Cameron, April 2, 2013

There is “limited but growing” evidence that Syrian government troops have used chemical weapons, UK Prime Minister David Cameron says. “It is extremely serious, this is a war crime,” Mr Cameron told the BBC.

— British Broadcasting Corporation, April 26, 2013

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has just been buried, and in her passing we farewelled the last of the great political figures that Britain has produced.  The fact that the Obama Administration insulted her memory by failing to send a janitor from the Congress Building or even the Vice-President to attend her funeral is neither here nor there, for no matter what people think about her almost-fanatical political convictions and indubitably abrasive personality she was the most impressive leader in recent British history. The pygmy who now occupies the post of prime minister, a fellow called David Cameron, would have made a fairly effective Thatcher lackey — a bit like a Vice-President, but not as useful as a janitor — and his predecessor’s name has deservedly passed into nothingness.  The fellow before that was called Blair, the mega-liar about Iraq’s non-existent nuclear and chemical weapons and many other matters.

***

If you are an average American you’re probably not very interested in British politics. And if you’re an average Briton you might be even less spellbound than the average American.  And of course I refer to ‘average’ in both cases as indicating intelligence, and not the sort of person who would name Pierre-Auguste Renoir as the current prime minister of France, as did so many young people in the UK recently.  Don’t laugh, please —  because 13 per cent of those polled said that Renoir is a French footballer and five per cent recollected him (her?) as winner of last year’s Eurovision song contest.  In fact that identification has a curious charm.  It would be fascinating to meet someone so splendidly hazy as to be ignorant of the name Renoir.  Heaven knows what they think about nuclear and chemical weapons — or perhaps they don’t think about them at all.  It’s a strange old world, out there.

But if you are interested in international affairs you may care to consider the stance of the British government on nuclear and chemical weapons.

There are some British politicians who may be able to recognize the name Renoir — but they are all sadly insensitive when it comes to appreciating how much desperate poverty exists in their country, while supporting a nuclear capability that the country doesn’t need and can’t afford.  Their common-sense quotas seem to be suspended, because they can’t tell blight from bomb.  They are presiding complacently over rampant poverty while spending squillions on nuclear delivery systems that are totally useless in terms of deterrence or even revenge. They vote for retention of Britain’s so-called ‘Independent Nuclear Deterrent’ while being totally out of touch with real life as lived by the majority of British citizens. They’re just as airy-fairy as the poor little prats who’ve never heard of Renoir.

During the run-up to the Bush war on Iraq it was fascinating to hear the then prime minister Blair announce that  “No government that owes its position to the will of the people will spend billions of pounds on chemical, and biological and nuclear weapons whilst their people live in poverty.”  Blair was referring to Iraq, which of course wasn’t spending anything at all on any such weapons — not one cent — although the Blair government was squandering billions on nukes while masses of British citizens were being driven steadily into poverty and Blair’s banker buddies were making squillions.

The fact that poor old Britain is now staggering downhill from crisis to catastrophe is not regarded as critical by all those smugly conceited Members of Parliament (MPs) who imagine themselves as superior to the rest of the population.  Most of them are grossly over-promoted little twerps who couldn’t earn a crust outside the pastries of gravy-train politics, and all they are interested in doing is staying in power.

Thirty years ago there were two splendid comedy series about politics on British television : the first, ‘Yes, Minister’, was followed by ‘Yes, Prime Minister.’ Both were outstanding successes because the plots and acting were superb.  In one episode the prime minister explains that  “Being an MP is a vast subsidized ego-trip. It’s a job that needs no qualifications, it has no compulsory hours of work, no performance standards, and provides a warm room, a telephone and subsidized meals to a bunch of self-important windbags and busybodies who suddenly find people taking them seriously because they’ve got the letters ‘MP’ after the their name.”

The same holds for very many Members of Congress (maybe they should be called MCs?) and for almost every other politician on the planet,  but in Britain at the moment it’s an especially sensitive problem, because the country desperately needs straight-backed leadership if it is not to collapse into an economic and moral shambles.  It is vital that it be directed by intelligent and ethically scrupulous people to whom the country matters more than personal nest-feathering and scheming for power.

But there is hardly a person like that at the top of government.  Or, indeed, in the middle or at the bottom.  Four years ago when the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper revealed mass swindling by MPs, involving blatant deception and unashamed dishonor, there was uproar — but most official outrage was directed at the newspaper rather than the smelly little creeps who defrauded the taxpayers of millions.  The swindles and the lying about them were a revelation to British citizens, most of whom had actually trusted their elected representatives.  But enlightenment came — and when polled in February 2013  “Only one in three Britons agree that most MPs have a high personal moral code” and “Just 18 per cent of Britons trust politicians to tell the truth.”

So was Prime Minister Cameron telling the truth when he declared that North Korea’s nuclear weapons  “can reach us too”?

Of course he wasn’t telling the truth.  The distinguished intellectual Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London told ITV News that  “North Korea does not have any missile capabilities that could hit Britain and it is difficult to envision circumstances when North Korea ever would want to attack the UK even if they could,”  but nobody in power paid attention.

In other words, the announcement by Prime Minister Cameron that North Korea has nuclear missiles which “can reach us too” is utter nonsense.  Who told him they could do so?

Admittedly Cameron has no understanding of defense affairs — but he has the resources of an enormous Intelligence gathering establishment at his call.  He receives daily briefings containing amazing detail about other countries’ leaders and their decisions, just like those given to Obama and other heads of government, and much of what he is told is probably accurate.  But what was he told by the Intelligence people about North Korean nukes?   Did his Intelligence brief state precisely that North Korea has nuclear-tipped missiles that “can reach us too”?   And if his brief did not give that exact information, then why did he tell British citizens that they could?

Please reflect on the importance of the fact that this man uttered lying baloney, because all statements by national leaders are important, even if the person concerned is an incompetent little prat.  And now we have Cameron saying there is “limited but growing” evidence that Syrian government troops have used chemical weapons and that  “It is extremely serious, this is a war crime.”

But the UN investigator,  the embarrassingly honest Carla Del Ponte, stated that use of chemical weapons in Syria was probably not by the government.  She reported that  “What appears to our investigation is that it was used by the opponents, by the rebels. We have no indication at all that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.”  So now what, Cameron?

In Britain it seems that the decline in honesty is being led from the top.  There had been hope that the example of the repulsive Blair might have been heeded, but apparently it has not. When government leaders deliberately mislead their citizens, there’s a very slippery slope ahead, and it looks as if Britain is being driven into the sewers. The fact that Just 18 per cent of Britons trust politicians to tell the truth,” might seem amusing, but in fact it’s a horrifying indictment of Britain’s limping democracy.

Nearly all politicians tell lies.  But in Britain it seems that if they were fed nails, most of them would crap corkscrews.

Brian Cloughley’s website is www.beecluff.com

 

 

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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