• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous supporter has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain

Photograph Source: Mайкл Гиммельфарб – Public Domain

As part of then-Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May’s supposed preparations for a no-deal Brexit, the government asked different departments of the UK’s civil service, including those responsible for food, agriculture, medicine, and chemicals, to come up with impact assessments. The worst-case scenarios (not leaked or released at the time of writing) were codenamed Black Swan. Michael Gove, the future Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (basically the deputy PM), dismissed Operation Black Swan as a “film about a ballet dancer” and even denied that it is a government document.

Despite government claims to the contrary; Operation Yellowhammer was not a worst-case scenario but contingency plans for likely outcomes of a no-deal Brexit. May’s Yellowhammer documents were leaked to the Mail on Sunday and warned of Britain’s vulnerability to chemical supplies for water purification.

The updated Yellowhammer documents prepared for the incoming Johnson government were also leaked, in this instance to the Sunday Times. Among other things, the documents note that Britain’s importation of packaged medicaments could be severely disrupted by border queues in the event of a no-deal Brexit, particularly where refrigerated medicines are concerned. It also notes the potential unavailability of foods and food price increases. The documents expose the flaws in the corporate, neoliberal globalized order that robs nations of their self-reliance.

But the very politicians now voting to stop a no-deal Brexit in order to prevent this kind of potentially dangerous disruption are the same who supported the infliction of similar pain on other, more vulnerable countries. The first was Libya in 2011. Parliament’s own inquiry into the bombing (led by the US as part of NATO’s mission) found that Britain’s involvement was based on erroneous intelligence.

LIBYA

The bombing also appeared to be a violation of international law, as it violated UN Security Council Resolution 1973. UNSCR 1973 allowed states to use “all necessary measures … to protect civilians” from Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi. But the British Parliamentary report later acknowledged that civilians were not actually in danger. UNSCR 1973 also invokes Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which does not authorize military intervention in other states, but rather, allows the use of military operations to enforce actions short of invasion; for example, international blockades.

At the time, Dominic Grieve–now one of the politicians trying to stop a no-deal Brexit–was PM David Cameron’s Attorney General. Grieve’s job was to provide legal advice to the Cameron government on the Libya bombing. But the government refused to release Grieve’s advice in full. This suggests that Grieve advised that bombing Libya could constitute a war crime. If so, this could make Grieve himself complicit in war crimes. In addition, Grieve voted for the bombing in March 2011.

Another Parliamentary inquiry into the bombing states: “[we] respect the decision not to publish the advice [by Grieve] in full but are disappointed that the Prime Minister [Cameron] felt unable to share the advice with us on a private and confidential basis as this would have enabled us to scrutinise the operation in Libya more effectively.”

In 2018, with Britons still obsessed with Brexit, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization reminded people of the consequences of NATO’s actions, including the ongoing civil war trigged by the bombing in 2011: “the crisis has exacerbated pre-existing challenges associated with agricultural production in Libya, including water scarcity, animal and plant diseases, desertification and labour shortages.”

This makes the disruption envisaged by Yellowhammer look small by comparison. (Ironically, in December 2018, when the Labour opposition brought a motion to force Theresa May’s Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, to release his legal advice on May’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, Grieve—who is now trying to stop a no-deal and get the Yellowhammer and prorogation communiqués published–told Parliament: “the Law Officers’ advice should not be published because it undermines the ability to provide proper confidential advice to Government.”)

IRAN

Let’s also consider the case of Iran. Under Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is entitled to enrich uranium for civilian energy. The US and EU, including Britain, accuse Iran of wanting to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapons programme. But successive reports of UN International Atomic Energy Agency find no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons programme. In order to force Iran into agreeing to a uranium enrichment limitation deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)), the US and EU imposed sanctions on Iran.

But the sanctions led to the kind of effects on Iran feared by those who now want to stop a no-deal Brexit in the UK. The science journal Nature reported that “A tightening of already draconian international economic sanctions against Iran is causing serious shortages of certain drugs, vaccines and other key medical supplies in the country, medical researchers and public-health officials are warning.”

Britain’s then-Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, told the Iranians that unless their government was compelled by popular pressure to agree to what became the JCPOA, “We can definitely make the pain much greater.” This appears to have been a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit collective punishments.

Under May and as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hammond was aware of the Yellowhammer documents and now, having been sacked by Boris Johnson, is serving Parliament an independent MP trying to stop a no-deal Brexit, fearing that the same “pain” that he helped to inflicted on Iran could happen to Britons in the event of a no-deal departure from the EU.

CONCLUSION

These examples show that the very politicians who now fear the dire impacts of a no-deal Brexit for Britain are the same who were part of the political machinery that inflicted similar misery on poor, vulnerable populations. Nobody in British media even notices. The Yellowhammer documents also remind us that the real enemies of people are their governments; in this case an explicitly reckless one willing to harm its population for the sake of political survival.

 

More articles by:

Dr. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and the forthcoming Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
Richard Moser
The Empire Is Running Out of War Stories. Or is it? Will American Exceptionalism Rise Again?
Roger Harris
Why Trump is Facing Impeachment
Doug Lummis
Everything Going Wrong in Okinawa
Ramzy Baroud
Administrative Torture: Free Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian Citizen in Israeli Prison
Christopher Ketcham
Ode to the Drums of Ginger Baker
W. T. Whitney
Upcoming Elections Represent Testing Time for Bolivia’s Socialist Government
Louis Proyect
Building Soldier Resistance Under the Shadows of Fascism
Mark Ashwill
Reflections on General Giap and the End of an Era in Vietnam
Gabriel Leão
Killing the Messengers: Rising Violence Against Journalists and Indigenous Leaders Defending the Amazon
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: All Talk No Action
Arthur Hoyle
The Meaning of Donald Trump
Dean Baker
Those Quaint Corporate Scandals in Japan
Laura Santina
Take Their Feet Off Our Necks
Julian Vigo
The New Workers’ Revolution is Afoot
Robert Koehler
The Rights of Nature
Dan Bacher
New Report Reveals Oil Waste in CA Aquifers
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail