David Hare on the Flinching Milliband 8

David Hare made an a thought provoking speech at the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression awards. Worth reading, and not just because I get a mention:

But hypocrisy and double standards on the left now seem over-shadowed, dwarfed, obliterated by endemic, instituional hypocrisy on the right or, to put it another way, in government. Better, I think, to be a champagne socialist than a suppository-wielding, water-boarding capitalist.

In Howard Brenton’s play Weapons of Happiness, one character looks puzzeled at another and declares: ‘You really are something of a perpetual absence, old man.’ I’m afraid this line of dialogue always pops into my mind when I catch a glimpse of our present Foreign Secretary David Milliband, a kind of flinching, nocturnal badger of human rights. Again, it’s difficult to recall that the Brown government arrived covertly flagging discontinuity. It was, we were told, full of people who in an epic act of loyalty had been willing to hide their misgivings about the supine antics of the Blair period. While nobody was going as far as to offer what Robin Cook was moved from office for suggesting ?”?” an ethical foreign policy ?”?” nevertheless there was, again, the feeling that a renewed defence of democracy might involve some public restating of absolutes. Do I need to observe no such restatement has followed? More accurately, nothing has followed, except reversion to tribal diplomatic loyalties, the old half-truths and half-lies rolled out on behalf of dodgy allies. In the last two editions of the New York Review of Books you may read Mark Danner’s authoritative accounts of systematic use of torture by the CIA. Humiliation, beatings by use of a collar, sleep deprivation, suffocation by water, kickings, confinement in a box, shackles, prolonged nudity. Strange: we await the appropriate moral outrage from Whitehall.


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8 thoughts on “David Hare on the Flinching Milliband

  • anticant

    You’ve doubtless noticed that Charlatan-Chameleon Blair has just reiterated his support for ‘interventionism’ as a plausible foreign policy on human rights grounds.

    This man is so preposterous he has become a caricature of himself – quite an achievement.

  • xsdogskin

    ‘Foreign Secretary David Milliband, a kind of flinching, nocturnal badger of human rights.’

    Yes, indeed an apt description. President Bush has barely left office when he makes a speech denouncing the war on terror, (Guardian):

    ‘Highlighting US President-elect Barack Obama’s commitment to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, Mr Miliband said it was time to ensure human rights and civil liberties were upheld.’

    I take it the ‘time’ Mr Miliband refers to is the end of the Bush/Cheney era.

    What we have in the UK is politicians who bend in the prevailing breeze, either to the bankers or the US. They do not represent democracy.

    While America is attempting to wipe the slate clean, albiet by allowing the Neuremburg defence. Our leaders who allowed the use of such intelligence are still in power.

  • NomadUK

    –While America is attempting to wipe the slate clean, albiet by allowing the Neuremburg defence.–

    Albeit? Albeit? The Nuremberg Defence is supposed to be an acceptable whitewash?

    The US administration is no better than the UK’s, and arguably worse: Obama’s mystique lends him credibility, and the rest of the world give him far more leeway than he merits. At least everyone knows not to believe Gordon Brown or the Blairites.

  • xsdogskin

    NomadUK, I was referring to the fact that Obama is not going after individual CIA operatives. I didn’t say that I thought that this was right.

  • David McKelvie

    The age-old defence of the *soldier* (not the bureaucrat or psychopath) that “I was obeying the orders of my superior officer” was ruled inadmissible by the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunals.

    This was enshrined in the various Armed Forces Acts, including the Army Act 1955 – still in force until October this year – and in the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 (which is considered a superior piece of legislation in that *all* Acts of Parliament are deemed to incorporate it).

    A serviceman or woman *must* refuse to obey an unlawful command (it was supposed to be an absolute defence that he/she believed it to be unlawful at the time of refusal), or face prosecution under the criminal law.

    This was the basis of Fl Lt Dr Kendall-Smith RAF’s defence, which under political pressure the ‘court’ (?) refused to allow him to plead and sent him to prison.

    So, apart from trying to destroy the Constitution, NeoLabour overrides or subverts those Acts of Parliament it doesn’t like.

    There is no Nuremberg Defence available.

  • Polo

    We’re not just talking about the Nuremberg defence here, we are talking about pardoning/absolving those who gave the orders.

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