Daily Archives: March 28, 2011


At 16.00 Today I was…

in a really difficult situation having a testy conversation with a nice Ghanaian who was also in a difficult position.

Now we have completed the gas pipeline we are desperate to get the turbines switched from diesel fo gas. The fuel saving to the Ghana government amounts to US $3,000 an hour. We need the Siemens commissioning engineers to do this, and the Rotring engineers commissioning the gas treatment plant are already here, but stymied now until Siemens arrive. But the Siemens engineers I was expecting last night have been delayed because their passports are still in the Ghana High Commission, who seem to be much slower in issuing the visas than usual.

The Ghanaian government engineers are under a lot of stress and understandably fed up. So are we. It seems the best that can be done is for the High Commission to issue the visas tomorrow, but then the Siemens engineers won’t be able to travel until Wednesday and won’t start work until Thursday. Meanwhile the Rotring engineers have to leave on Wednesday night.

Did my efforts manage to solve or mitigate this? No. I did manage to calm people down and cheer them up a bit. I fear though I shall be doing the same thing at 16.00 tomorrow.

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Capitalism and the Big State

There is a very interesting post here from Stumbling and Mumbling about the mutual dependence of big capital and the big state, and by and large he is right. I think he understates the interlocking of big capital and the big state, and the extent to which the modern state is simpky a tool of large corporate interests. He also does not really consider the whole nexus of Eisenhower’s military-industrial-Congressional complex.

In fact, major coroporate interests are now above the nation state. They can effectively be exempt from the criminal law, like BAE Systems. Or avoid the jurisdiction of a nation state almost completely, like Vodafone.

A large state, like large concentrations of capital, produces an excessive concentration of power; to put that another way, both reduce the freedom of individuals. That is why I am not with the corporatist interests who were marching at the weekend, It is also why I am not with the Tories. I retain a quaint belief that the best economic model is one where the workers own the company, at the enterprise level rather than the state level, while natural monopolies and social services are provided directly and simply by the state.

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Illegal War

The attack on Libya is now illegal, a criminal war of aggression. While I always opposed the action as a matter of policy, I explained it was not illegal within the confines clearly established in UNSCR 1973.

It is now plain that NATO forces have wilfully breached those confines and are now guilty of a criminal war of aggression. They are bombing what are now the defenders as a deliberate act of aerial support to pave the way for the rebel forces’ ground assault. I suspended my judgement on calling this an illegal war because it is a huge accusation, and I take these matters very seriously. Two days ago I posted this:

Whether taking a side in the civil war can be justified in terms of UNSCR 1973 as “protecting civilians” seems to me a very dubous prospect indeed. It is certainly unwise, but the legality of current actions is arguable as it may not yet be definitely established that taking sides is what we are doing.

There is no longer any doubt. In bombing defensive emplacements ahead of the rebel assault on Gadaffi’s hometown of Sirte, a line has been definitively crossed. Attacking Sirte cannot possibly be justified as “Protection of civilians”. There was no threat to the civilians of Gadaffi’s hometown from Gadaffi’s forces. Indeed it is arguable that the citizenry of Sirte may be more in danger from the tribal antagonists we are assisting to conquer them.

The government has refused to release the full advice of the Attorney General on the legailty of the attack on Libya. What they have released is:

The Attorney General has been consulted and Her Majesty’s Government is satisfied that this Chapter VII authorisation to use all necessary measures provides a clear and unequivocal legal basis for deployment of UK forces and military assets to achieve the resolution’s objectives

My italics. Now I strongly suspect that the Attorney General’s unpublished advice discusses the objectives and the consequential scope of military action. The British Government is now plainly involved in military action that goes well beyond “the resolution’s objectives”. We need to discover what the Attorney General thinks of that.

A lesson not learned from the Iraq debacle is that we need to move beyond the position where legal advice on the legality of war is given by a politician and controlled, and withheld, by the executive, with no access for the opposition or the general public.

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