The 4.45pm Link 34


Labour Party man Brian Barder on how to salvage his party:

The positive way to signal a radical change of policy on the resort to military force, implying (but not necessarily stating explicitly) a promise never to repeat the Iraq criminal blunder, would be to declare formally that no future Labour government will ever again send British forces into action overseas unless (a) in response to an armed attack on sovereign British territory (as permitted under the UN Charter) or else (b) to participate in peace-keeping or peace-making operations expressly authorised by the United Nations Security Council. Labour would also do well publicly to endorse the present coalition defence secretary’s useful reminder that in any case Britain is not a “global policeman” ?” and should never again try to act as if it were. He who “punches above his weight” tends to end up on the canvas.

http://www.barder.com/2608


34 thoughts on “The 4.45pm Link

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  • Mike Cobley

    I can see the sense in this, and the proposal is framed quite rationally. And yet … isn’t it conceivable that the use of British forces outwith sovereign territory might have a necessity which would conflict with this? Tying one’s own hands may be laudable and altruistic, but other nation states aren’t so bothered by these values.

  • Iain Orr

    I particularly enjoyed the KO that Brian Barder delivered (his final line in the passage quoted)to Douglas Hurd’s favourite tired old FCO cliche.

  • MJ

    Sadly, only Diane Abbott would endorse this position. I’m not suggesting she’s not going to win but…she’s not going to win.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    He could start by not referring to it as a ‘blunder’, or error, mistake, miscalculation or any of the other euphemisms which they deploy to lessen culpability.

  • writerman

    I don’t think there’s a realistic chance in heall of Labour adopting such a policy.

  • kingfelix

    This will go the way of the ‘ethical policy’ re: arms sales.

    What might work better is to ask Britain’s large corporations, such as petrochemical giants, etc, to formalise their use of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and rebrand the UK military, issuing them with new uniforms proudly bearing their sponsors logos.

    These wars are clearly not being engaged in for the benefit of the great majority of the population, so let those who benefit and who want to pursue these policies pay for them. Likewise, nothing would stop war-loving little armchair generals from sending donations to BP etc to help ‘support our, sorry, your boys’.

    And what would the above statement mean in relation to UK military actions in the Niger Delta, which were undertaken solely to protect British companies commercial activities? And is that practice still going on?

  • Abe Rene

    If Labour is to survive it needs to return to its socialist and libertarian principles. That means no more truck with public-private partnerships, and an end to control freakery from the centre. It means being as wise as Harold Wilson in giving moral support only to the Americans in hugely expensive overseas wars (except for limited special operations). That’s just for starters.

  • writerman

    When Thatcher used he famous phrase, ‘There’s no such thing as society’ she wasn’t really describing the world around her, but uttering a prophecy. A prophecy about the kind of country Britain was going to turn into if her crazed plans came to fruition. In this sense, the plan to gradually follow a course leading towards the dismantling of much of the ‘glue’ that held society together, she succeeded masterfully.

    The crucial concept, in a democracy, of citizenship was replaced with the, market label of consumership, or, ‘I purchase therefore I am.’

  • writerman

    Attempting to question; Britain’s important role as a mercenary or auxiliary force, one that can be relied opon to provide vital media, diplomatic, and political ‘cover’ for whatever the US administartion decides to do; to question this ‘special relationship’ of master and servant, would be the kiss of death for any political party in the UK. Without Britain at its side, the United States would look very alone, and arguably many other nations would begin to question their support as well.

    Put simply, the Americans wouldn’t stand for it, and would intervene to make sure that any party pursuing such dangerous policies would increasingly find itself ‘accident prone.’

    Whilst a policy of independence from the US, and a plan to prioritize UK interests, would undoubtedly prove popular with the british public and would probably be a vote winner, the attitude of the pro-American establishment and their mass media would be savagely negative.

    If Labour changed from being a conservative party, and returned to being merely Social Democratic, it would feel the full weight of the establisment’s big hammer and a few blow would soon bring it into line again.

  • mike cobley

    “I purchase therefore I am!” love it. So if cogito ergo sum is I think therefore I am, is the former ’emptor ergo sum’? My latin is non existent, and I think emptor is the wrong conjugation of Buyer. Mebbe someone else is wiser…

  • Anonymous

    It would be a positive step but there are two problems with it.

    First(as other commenters have pointed out) there’s little chance of a Labour leader adopting it as Labour party leaders (as opposed to members and some backbench MPs) have adopted the same “whatever Washington says” policy line as Conservative party leaders. I hope that might change, but i doubt it will.

    Second the UN Security Council approving something is not a guarantee it’s the right thing to do – it only guarantees it won’t start World war Three (which is certainly a good thing to guarantee), but it might just be a shoddy deal among the permanent members that suits all the major powers but has no relationship to morality.

    The criteria Barder cites wouldn’t stop another Falklands war either (which will be a serious risk with the combination of possible oil discoveries and governments keen to distract attention from high unemployment and recession – just as in 1982)

    The criteria for ‘humanitarian interventions’ by military force should be the ones decided by the UN’s ‘Responsibility to Protect’ report.

    These are that there have to be massacres or genocide taking place on a large enough scale that war would lead to less rather than more loss of life – that it wouldn’t lead to a major conflict between major powers (i.e world war three – which certainly would kill more people) – and that there’s a reasonable prospect of success.

    The force used has to be the minimum necessary to end the massacres.

    It’s noteable that in reality the major powers have not intervened when such massacres were taking place (Saddam’s Anfal campaign in the 80s; Rwanda in 1994; Congo today) but have intervened when no such massacres were taking place or imminent (e.g Iraq 2003, Afghanistan 2001)

  • Ed Davies

    I used to follow Brian Barder’s blog until his pro-Israel comments got too far up my nostrils (well, specifically his support for certain Israeli actions against the Palestinians). In this case, though, I very much approve of the general direction he’s going, but:

    1) He’s suggesting that we abandon NATO then? If somebody attacked, say, Denmark then a Labour government would do nothing until the Security Council said so?

    2) Wasn’t there at least the pretence that the Security Council had authorized the invasion of Iraq? Since this was supposedly a reactivation of SCR 678 which was for various things including “restoration of peace in the region”, or words to that effect, then there’d be the perfect excuse to call it a “peace-making” operation. So what would change?

    It seems to me that all this is is a promise to obey the UN Charter which Britain is already signed up to anyway but abandoning existing alliances which would far from in our best interests.

  • Ed Davies

    I see Phil had about the same thought while I was typing. Teach me to be a bit more succinct, I suppose.

  • Larklander

    Why should anyone care what policies Labour may or may not adopt? The party will never again be in government (or within sniffing distance of it once the Coalition have gerrymandered the constituency boundaries); ergo, anything their MPs say is merely an attempt to appropriate unwarranted column inches (or air space) in the media (and should for that reason be ignored).

  • avatar singh

    As some one in this blog already wrote this ere are his his wise words

    “Far too many people see Britain as the junior partner or poodle.In fact in the special relationship the shots are called from London.

    People are not generally aware of this because the London-based system of usury-sorry international finance,which was the real reason behind most of the revolutions and wars of the last century uses a supine media and a set of what Ezra Pound called “court historians” to obscure the facts.

    One writer who was aware of this was the aforementioned Pound.

    Check out web.archive.org for Michael Collins Piper assessment of Pound’s work if you can overcome the Frankfurt syndrome that screens out all reference to the fact that WW2 was primarily all about preserving what Pound referred to as the “usurocracy”.

    Aside from his scathing attacks on the banksters he is also relevant today for his broadsides against the media system that prevented ordinary people knowing what was really going on.

    Pound was no lover of censors and gate-keepers!

    the British army invaded China specifically so that David Sassoon could flood China with opium. They were called the Opium Wars I seem to recall.

    Remmber usa does not need britian but england needs usa badly to run its war agasint the people of the world . the war which the enlgish race fights with help of american wealth and arms. ofocurse british provide the propaganda because itis their-britihs war and no body sles. the sooner the world understand this better it would be and that woudl be the end of pirate english race evil doing.

  • avatar singh

    Most of the mischeif and war being donbe by americans is the war planned in london and done by the british for british benefit and no one. england uses usa to run its agenda. america doesnot need england but england desepretely needs usa to provide army and capital to run english soposored war agasint the people of the world. sooner the world realises this better it would be for hiumanity and that would be end of evil english mischeif.

    Far too many people see Britain as the junior partner or poodle.In fact in the special relationship the shots are called from London.

    People are not generally aware of this because the London-based system of usury-sorry international finance,which was the real reason behind most of the revolutions and wars of the last century uses a supine media and a set of what Ezra Pound called “court historians” to obscure the facts.

    One writer who was aware of this was the aforementioned Pound.

    Check out web.archive.org for Michael Collins Piper assessment of Pound’s work if you can overcome the Frankfurt syndrome that screens out all reference to the fact that WW2 was primarily all about preserving what Pound referred to as the “usurocracy”.

    Aside from his scathing attacks on the banksters he is also relevant today for his broadsides against the media system that prevented ordinary people knowing what was really going on.

    Pound was no lover of censors and gate-keepers!

    the British army invaded China specifically so that David Sassoon could flood China with opium. They were called the Opium Wars I seem to recall.

  • mrjohn

    “He who “punches above his weight” tends to end up on the canvas.”

    An excellent statement

  • Vronsky

    Take a look at the caterwauling mob on the Labour benches at Holyrood sometime. That lot isn’t going to develop moral principles on anything less than geological timescales.

  • Guano

    Barder would seem to be saying that the Labour Party should restate its commitment to the UN Charter. In theory that should present no problem, though in practice I suspect that many of the leadership will be reluctant to give such a clear-cut commitment.

  • Brian Barder

    Guano has got it exactly right. What I suggested is no more than a re-statement of our international law commitments under the UN Charter. Our obligations as a member of NATO don’t and can’t override our Charter obligations, as indeed the North Atlantic Treaty itself recognises. ‘Writerman’ thinks there’s not a chance in hell of adopting a policy of commitment to observe our Charter obligations: I hope he’s unduly pessimistic.

    Iain Orr accurately relates my mention of Britain ‘punching above its weight’ to what’s generally thought to be its origins with Douglas Hurd, but I have been told by Geoffrey Howe that he has chapter and verse for his claim to have been the first to use the expression in relation to British foreign policy.

    Ed Davies, I’m sorry to see that you no longer read my blog because you disagree with my views on one specific issue. I suppose we all like to read blogs (and newspapers) which play back our own views to us, giving us a nice warm self-congratulatory feeling, but isn’t it sometimes quite a useful discipline to read expressions of uncongenial opinions and even to engage in rational discussion about them? Just a thought.

    Basically though I appreciate the generally positive note struck by most of these comments.

    Craig has quoted here an extract from a much longer blog post of mine, in the form of an open letter to Harriet Harman about which way Labour should go now that it’s in opposition. Craig has kindly included the link to this:

    http://www.barder.com/2608

    Brian

    http://www.barder.com/ephems/

  • ingo

    Regardless who is to become next leader of the Labour party, left of their conservative wing or within it, unless their so called socialist heritage does not incorporate sustainable policies then all other becomes inconsequential.

    Unless socialists develop policies that guarantee the same lifestyle, they prefer for themselves today, to their children and theirs ever after, they really cannot call themselves socialists at all, more like opportunists.

    I don’t think that noLabour will die, their allegiances with types like Blair will always drag them back into the same stale circles.

    I hear suggestions of abandoning NATO from many these days, its long overdue and thanks to Robert, I’m the CIA Gates, who refuses to act on NATO doctrine and protect a fellow NATO member, we are already way down this road.

    NATO has been busted open by Gates Muppet Italy and Netherlands.

    In August we will see the Dutch walk out of Afghanistan followed by the Spanish.

    Who knows what Germany will do after the next election, when more rightwing forces might shape a clompletely new coalition, they did not like the greek bailout one little bit, will they stay in Afghanistan?

    Europe needs its own peace and defence forces, something that should have been fostered with speed after the wall fell in 1989, but everyone relied too heavily on NATO to do the ‘defending’ for them.

    The attack on Turkeys sovereign rights at sea has split NATO, Italy, the Netherlands and the US have refused to condemn the attack, a f… off to Turkey which will now re evaluate its NATO duties and support.

    Who knows what will happen about the use of Incirlik airport by USAF, or for NATO’s advanced forward radar stations still in use.

    I can live with Dianne Abott, but she has a strek of absolutism run through her like that of an African Queen, something I have to grapple with.

    What is important that she cuts out election cheats, torturing b……s like Jack Straw, he should not smarm himself into any job at all, nor become a minister, he needs axing, literally.

  • Brian Barder

    I’m interested to see Avatar Singh invoking Ezra Pound with approval here. Orwell’s comments on Pound, quoted in Pound’s Wikipedia entry, are interesting and apposite:

    “English journalist, novelist and essayist George Orwell, a close observer of the events of the time, wrote, “Pound was an ardent follower of Mussolini as far back as the nineteen-twenties and never concealed it.[…] I should say that his enthusiasm was essentially for the Italian form of Fascism. He did not seem to be very strongly pro-Nazi or anti-Russian, his real underlying motive being hatred of Britain, America and ‘the Jews’.[…] I remember at least one [broadcast] in which he approved the massacre of the East European Jews and ‘warned’ the American Jews that their turn was coming presently.[…]”

    Brian

    http://www.barder.com/ephems/

  • sandcrab

    “I’m interested to see Avatar Singh invoking Ezra Pound with approval here.”

    That is an interesting quote from Orwell. But how was Pound ‘approved’ here?

  • Vronsky

    Fascism was fashionable in literary circles in Pound’s time. It looks like an attempt to associate literature with the elitism of the musical movement in fin de siecle Vienna – Schoenberg, Berg, Webern – that lot. Pound failed miserably because he was a poor poet – as someone said of Wagner, he has his moments, but he has his quarters of an hour. Pound is nowadays nearly forgotten. T S Eliot isn’t, although he had much the same views – quite simply, he was a much better poet – a Schoenberg of words.

    Interesting to see Pound quoted with approval? Equally interesting to see Orwell quoted with scriptural gravity. Orwell was often confused – he denounced nationalism but wrote Homage to Catalonia, forgetting that the Catalan troops he so admired were at least as much nationalist as they were socialist. So did he really know what he thought? And then didn’t he denounce a lot of people on his death bed? Everybody is ambivalent – you can’t pit one splintered saint against another.

  • writerman

    Ezra Pound, wasn’t exactly politically sophisticated, now was he? He used to enjoy walking out on moonlit nights gazing longingly into the darkest shadows and imagined they contained all sorts of truths and powers that were normally concealed and hidden in the unforgiving light of day.

  • Abe Rene

    A wiki article indicates that Ezra Pound was considered by the American authorities to be incurably insane, but harmless, and this would account for his being released to Italy. He greeted his adopted country with a fascist salute and said that he had never been released, since the whole of America was an asylum. His idea that America’s entry into WWII was instigated by bankers sounds to me like a typical conspiracy theory.

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