God, I Didn’t Know 98


Feeling much better now. Many thanks for the many kind – and often very wise – comments. I know why I can’t sleep, why can’t you lot?

I hate being away from Nadira for lengthy periods and am not well equipped to pass the small hours alone. Still feeling an immense frustration that truly evil men like Blair prosper, but that has been part of the human condition forever. Oh well – really must try and get some sleep now, it’s 5am here,.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a manic depressive and sometimes feel almost suicidal, Don’t worry, I have three wonderful children and I am not going to leave them. But I feel so weak this evening. compared to the strength of the forces of evil, if you describe evil as illegal war and the massive profits to be made from waging it, and the sunsequent looting of resources.

I hope that those who saw Sir Michael Wood’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry today, and who have also read Murder in Samarkand, feel that I painted an accurate pen-portrait of my once friend.

I felt that Michael had stabbed me in the back by refusing to back me in saying unequivocally that intelligence from torture was illegal.

I did not know that, exactly at that time, he was engaged in a heroic struggle to try to stop the war in Iraq on legal grounds, and that he had drawn the full fury of Blair and Straw. He could not afford to open a second front on extraordinary rendition.

I have been struggling ever since to come to terms with what I saw as his going along with torture. I misjudged him.

But the way that the evil people like Blair and Straw manage to split decent people like Michael and me, is the lesson to avoid in future. Why is it that people like Michael, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Bill Patey and I never managed to get together? (Bill Patey was the head of the FCO geographical department which included Iraq, and he, like very many others in the system, never believed the “Evidence” on Iraqi WMD.)

I am feeling so sad because different ways of trying to resist took us down different paths, and perhaps I am sad because I was harsher on some than they deserved.

But I am most sad because hundreds of thousands died so Blair and Straw could earn their lucrative standing in the USA. I feel nothing but despair.

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98 thoughts on “God, I Didn’t Know

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  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    This is y o u r moment. Look, my young wife Tina (Fuzzy) was suicidal when I met her because she was beaten by a violent partner. But I showed her how beautiful life can be. We live with evil staring us in the face, but you must be strong for your beautiful wife and children and you must be strong for those who believe in you.


  • tony_opmoc


    It’s natural at times to feel despair, because evil really does exist in this world.

    If you didn’t feel this way sometimes, then you would not have the fearless courage to stand up against such evil in the way that you have consistently done.

    Many highly intelligent people have such mood swings, but for some reason they always manage to be at the top of their game when it really matters.

    What I fail to understand, is not the people like yourself who care passionately, but the large number of people in Senior Positions who appear not to care at all. This is not trivial, but about the gross evil they are either directly responsible for, or went along with, and didn’t for example resign when they were in a position of significant influence.

    How the hell does anyone who is not a psychopath live with the death and mutilation of millions of innocent people on their conscience?

    Isn’t it complete and utter mental torture? How do they sleep at night? Don’t they see the hell, the death and the destruction and the pain of the helpless child?


  • Clark


    do not dispair. Evil always divides. Goodness unites. You may not have achieved all the good you have attempted, but that you have achieved some, and attempted more; this I find inspiring.

    For my part, there is little I can do, but I’ll be going into London on the 29th.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq



    ‘How do they sleep at night? some have their own god – as Technicolour said once, ‘may your god go with you’ – some I guess block out their conscious – and as you say some are psychopaths with no conscious.

    Some ask to be forgiven and it is those that have transgressed and redeemed who are given the sweet taste of a new path that can only end in the ecstasy of salvation.

  • Exile

    Cheer up – the truth is coming out slowly but surely. The evidence given yesterday said nothing new, but people perked up and listened. It ties in with the sleaze allegations and the world of spin and deceit that Nu-Labour lives by.

    In your own small way you helped stick the knife into Nu-Labour. Soon it will all be over and then people like you are going to be needed to help rebuild the people’s party once again.

    Just over three months to go!

  • Leo

    Look on the bright side, you’ve discovered that Michael was the good man you thought he was afterall.

    Shame you couldn’t know back then, but good that you know now instead of continuing to feel betrayed by and not know the truth about a good person.

    Of course, there’s no getting away from the darkness of the war itself, and scum like Blair and Straw who ruin the world for others, but what can ya do? You do far more than most so you should feel proud.

  • Jaded.

    I wish you strength Craig. I hope I haven’t annoyed you by attacking some of the trolls here, which I am ‘sure’ are trolls. If I have, then tell me so. If you ‘want’ me to stop, not ordering me to, just say so. I will oblige and you won’t be dictating.

  • MJ

    Now is not the time for despair. Now is the time for being strong. There is movement. This inquiry, though obviously intended as a whitewash, is nevertheless bringing lots of uncomfortable stuff to the surface. Blair has still to appear. Goldsmith too and, perhaps most intriguingly, Brown.

    In three weeks or so Murder In Samarkand will be a high profile radio play with a stellar writer and cast. Your profile will rise and Straw will hate that. A good time for organising and perhaps some bridge-building. It might not be too late for you, Michael, Elizabeth Wilmshurst and Bill Patey to get together.

  • logos

    It looks like things are getting better, and if you see that as cause to bemoan what has gone before then your mood is in the driving seat, and you ought to look elsewhere for the cause. To be honest, I think you’re sad becos you’re stuck out in Africa far away from your adorable family. When you’re back with them I think the world will look a little less dark.

    “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”. (Stoic wisdom, paraphrased by Hamlet.)

  • Anonymous

    I’m signing off for the evening, leaving the Wilmshurst video downloading so I can watch it at leisure. I am rather looking forward to savouring the public applause that is rumoured to appear at the end of her evidence.

    Before I go though, Craig, let me say that many of us here – one or two troublemakers aside! – are extremely grateful for the efforts you have made, over an entire career no less, to choose honesty over plain sailing. I discussed on another thread how people in the main go along with consensus decisions, and in relation to both the war and rendition, the blank-eyed nodding has been amoral and, as the evidence shows, disastrous.

    Even after after your FCO career, you kept going. I try to make a difference too, in my much smaller way, and I spend more time worrying about whether my contribution will make a difference than doing the things that might. I worry too whether there is any point in turning up on Friday, since the more we try, the more desperate we can each become to see hard and satisfying evidence of the glacial change we think we might have contributed to. For the activist, this is a vicious circle.

    But it +is+ worthwhile, if only because we have to try. It is better many years hence, for the fabled child that might sit on one’s knee and say, “What did you do to stop the war?”, or “What did you do to help prosecute Blair”, one can list the things one tried. So your resisting the violence of neoliberalism was worth it, perhaps because without any resistance, we wouldn’t have an enquiry (even a dodgy one). Without people intending to turn up on Friday, we wouldn’t have the police/govt trying to move us on and looking bloody shifty in the process. Without an anti-war movement we’d have no public discourse about the legality of the war.

    So, the roundabout point I’m making is – look at the positivity of your contributions, rather than what might have been. And look at the fact that, despite your having a many-headed hydra for an enemy, you’re still fighting it. Oh yes, and you’re still alive too, despite it all. That’s also worth being positive about :o)

  • Ruth

    Everybody does what they think is right at the time. The forces you’re fighting are much greater than you imagine. You’re doing an absolutely brilliant job raising and publicising these issues. Writers get revolutions going.

  • Peter

    Look. No one quite knew the criminal regime that Blair was ensconcing in power. In many ways he may not even have known himself.

    There are darker actors than him involved, primarily Mandelson, who knows precisely what he’s about.

    Evil has a way of creeping up on you. You don’t quite notice it at first. You just see something odd. And you’re always giving the benefit of the doubt. You’re a decent warm human being. You don’t assume the worst in the other person. You firstly assume a mistake, an error, something out of character.

    You excuse it more because your mind can’t handle the alternative. You go on at this so long you become complicit in the evil, and then there’s no escape. You’ll perpetuate even more evil of your own volition to protect the group, of which now you’re one.

    That’s how it works, and why we need checks and balances in modern democracy, something we sadly don’t have in Britain.

    It’s not enough, I’m afraid, just to trust men to do good. With power, they don’t.

    The best thing for the future of Britian now is that these evil men and women be put to trial, that no one ever again abuses the power we lend to them.

    There’s much to do to dismantle the authoritarian Blair state.

  • Jon

    Oh yes, and MJ reminds us of something else that should keep you smiling. How many people can say that, when their life becomes a play, they get DOCTOR WHO to play them?

    :o) :o) :o)

  • kate

    The new labour clique was shameless and evil in its desire for total power to do as it willed (war crimes on a massive scale for who knows what reason) and resembled the Mafia. Why don’t you start a new political party as the alternatives to new labour are almost as disturbing?

  • Barbara

    I’m not picking a quarrel because I have come to believe that you are right on the Iraq war, always believed you were right on torture, but the one thing that puzzles me is your phrase “illegal war and the massive profits to be made from waging it, and the su(b)sequent looting of resources.”

    Did Britain gain “massive profits” from the Iraq war? Is Britain party to “subsequent looting of resources”? It seems Iraq forged more contracts with China than with the West – so what was in it for Britain?

    In other words, WHY?

  • Madam Miaow

    Dear Craig,

    Without you people like me would be that much further in the dark. You’re an important component in piecing together what happened and you help us make sense of it. You also give us hope that not everyone is self-interested, callous, ruthless and monstrous. Can you imagine a view of the world where these ugly players are the norm? So don’t despair. You are making a difference and it’s a significant one.

  • Jaded.

    That’s some logic. Making an assertion that China got ‘more’ contracts means Britain got nothing worthwhile out of it? You then ask ‘why’ as if the latter part of my previous sentence is proven. Come on. There may have been other reasons, geo-political strategy say, but there was a lot of dough flying around.

  • Subrosa

    Most caring and sensitive people would feel a sense of despair if they’d judged a friend too harshly Craig. Many of us have done so I’m sure.

    The fact that you can publicly apologise shows your depth of character and for that no person can fault you.

    In another eight hours or so Tony’s pal will be in the black chair doing his utmost to cover his back after the revelations today.

    Nearly as exciting as waiting for your play! Do remember to put a ‘reminder’ on here for those who suffer ‘senior moments’.

  • glenn

    Craig – you didn’t design the system, and you certainly didn’t facilitate what it did, when it did evil. It’s horrifying to discover that something you believed in and worked for could produce such a result.

    We want to believe in the country and the system we live for, and that the system will correct itself. This is particularly painful for you because you are part of that system. The rest of us rabble can console ourselves with the notion that the system’s operators are all “insiders”, not really any part of us.

    I very much regret concluding the system itself is utterly rotten. It’s not a few bad apples, the wood of the barrel itself is totally infested and its only worth is in the fireplace.

    We collectively re-elected Blair, Straw and so on to such total power because of our rotten electoral system, and the lack of alternative, and because of our corrupted media and dissuaded electorate. The System (it should be a noun) would not have it any other way.

    Britain, America. First-past-the-post elections in both, so we are assured domination by one or other corrupted party. Governments that always facilitate or drive a US corporate hegemonic agenda. And by God, nothing is going to upset that very important partnership. After all, the US needs its prop, and the UK needs a coat-tail to hang onto.

    How is one person, even a rising star, an ambassador, going to shake up such a structure? Would the System allow it, even if it breaks every rule it had supposedly imposed on itself?

  • Barbara

    Jaded, I don’t get what all the fuss about Common Purpose is.

    At this link http://www.commonpurpose.org.uk/about/governance/trustee-statement

    they explain “Over the past few years, Common Purpose and its founder and CEO Julia Middleton, have been the subject of conspiracy theories and negative commentary regarding their integrity. They have been accused of everything from running Britain and Europe – and more recently the US – to being a secret brainwashing society. They have also been portrayed as criminals, child abusers, embezzlers of government funds and being spies.

    We have refrained from taking legal action to date because Common Purpose staff, course participants, customers and supporters have tolerated these assertions in the spirit of freedom of speech and it not being the best use of charity funds. But freedom of speech does not bring with it a license to distribute complete untruths on the internet without challenge. Our lawyers have written to the authors of these remarks to make it clear that we will no longer allow such allegations to go unchallenged.

    Common Purpose is an independent, well respected, not for profit organisation that has been registered with the Charity Commission since 1993. The Commission, which regularly reviews the charities which it regulates, has never raised any concerns about our work or about our charitable status. I am proud to chair the Common Purpose Board of Trustees and very proud of what Julia has achieved, and of what we do.

    As our website makes clear Julia has been committed for nearly 20 years to a very simple proposition: that communities will work better if the leaders of them – in the private sector, the public sector and the not for profit sector – work together to identify opportunities to improve things for the public good. Our courses are outlined on our website for all to see. The testimonials we have received from clients from all walks of life demonstrate the value and success of our leadership courses. This is what Common Purpose is all about and it’s what we continue to do – as we have done for the last 20 years.”

    So not qute as secretive as that, then!

  • Barbara

    Thanks for your reply pointing me to some reading, George Dutton, in contrast to the lack of content from the rude Jaded.

    I’ll have a look.

  • Jaded.

    So what’s that got to with hooking up and talking to Brian Gerrish about ‘lawful rebellion’? Forget those ‘Common Purpose’ little sprats Barbara, there are bigger fish to fry. I take it you are fully supportive of ‘lawful rebellion’ of course? Get your name on the list.

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