Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

Remember how we were told that Saddam Hussain had been supplied with weapons by the US and UK when it served our purpose to keep him in power, only later to discover that nearly all of the arms recovered after the war were from Russia and France? Well another myth has been exposed.

Call it the 'war for oil' fallacy.

According to Reuters the US oil majors were largely absent from an Iraqi auction of oil deals snapped up instead by Russian, Chinese and other firms.

The Oil Ministry on Saturday ended its second bidding round after awarding seven of the oilfields offered for development, adding to deals from a first auction in June that could together take Iraq up to a capacity to pump 12 million barrels per day.

[...]Russia's Lukoil on Saturday clinched a deal to develop Iraq's supergiant West Qurna Phase Two oilfield after having failed to convince Iraq to bypass the auction and revive an old Saddam Hussein-era deal for the field.

[...]Only one U.S. firm bid in the second round, and of the four fields bid on by U.S. firms in the first round, only Exxon Mobil won a major prize, leading a group to clinch a deal for the supergiant West Qurna Phase One field.

U.S.-based Occidental came away with a quarter stake in a consortium that won a contract for the giant Zubair field.

By contrast, Chinese state oil firms were involved in every first round bid and made a strong showing in the second.

[...]"We haven't really seen U.S. companies, and that is because of intense competition ... The issue is financial and technical and not at all political. This confirms Iraq can manage its oil policy and activities without politicization," said Thamir Ghadhban, a prime ministerial advisor and former oil minister.

As Robin Simcox reflects: "So while the US barely figured, Russia and China - both of who(m) voted against the war - are now both (as they have every right) making finanical gains from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. However such facts rarely do much to puncture the depressingly prevalent idea that Saddam was overthrown by the US and UK due to an insatiable thirst for oil and financial gain. This blatant misreading of the facts seem to be increasingly accepted wisdom, and it is hard to see what Blair can say at the inquiry to change this."

Is war possible?

According to Professor Philip Allott writing in today's Times:

Wars should be preceded and accompanied by intense public debate about all aspects - strategic, moral, political, social, economic, legal.

Has there ever been such a war? Could there ever be?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Big Questions

 At the end of Chapter 1 of Celia Green's book The Human Evasion are some fiercely searching questions I seem never seriously to have asked before:

"The questions which remain are these. Are people, in fact, matters of ultimate concern to other people? And still more, can they be sources of "ultimate solution" to them? If they are not, what psychological force is at work to ensure that these questions are so seldom asked? Why, if you ask a question about man and the universe, are you given an answer about "man in society"?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Iraq War Inquiry Derangement Syndrome

That's what Melanie Phillips calls it.

She concludes:

"we all know beyond a shadow of a doubt, Blair secretly committed Britain to an illegal war on which he lied to the British public – and unless the inquiry concludes as such, its members will be consigned along with him to the first circle of hell.

"Verdict first, evidence nowhere."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The patron saint of making sad, lonely, ugly people feel like crap.

(My last quote "Chequered" was, I think, original i.e. I made it up. This one I definitely heard somewhere.)


The best thing I can say about my chequered past is that it exactly matches my chequered present.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sounds unfamiliar

Labour MP David Anderson speaking in the debate on the Queen's Speech:

"I hope that John Chilcot asks people such as Bayan Rahman to give evidence. I hope that he asks Hangar Khan, from the regional trade union movement, and Abdullah Muhsin, who was exiled in the 1980s and became the international representative of the trade union movement, to give evidence too. They will say clearly what Bayan has said to me: "Some people seem to have forgotten the brutal reality of his long years of repression. Saddam conducted a campaign of genocide against the Kurds. His forces used chemical weapons to kill men, women and children including 5,000 people who were killed in an attack on the city of Halabja in 1988. They murdered innocent people including thousands of boys and men from the Barzan area who disappeared in 1983," never to be seen again, "and whose mass graves are being found today."

"Saddam's forces also "razed 4,500 villages to the ground, destroying" the agricultural heartland of Iraq. The suffering in other parts of Iraq was the same. The key question that people ask me when I am over there is not "Why did you come here in 2003?" but "Why didn't you come here in 1983? We might have had a very different way of life."