Islamism

Jewish Chronicle 30 Jan 2015

The damaging hypocrisy of the foolish Muslim ‘Understanders’
By Denis MacShane
In German, there is a new word for those ready to explain and justify any and all aspects of Russian President Putin’s behavior. They are called the “Putinversteher” – literally, the Putin understanders. These people are not quite apologists or appeasers for the Russian leader and his behaviour. They are nevertheless ready to leap into print or go on television to explain why opposing Putin is dangerous.
Their speciality is to explain why history, geography, the behaviour of his opponents (or whatever) are the real cause of his actions. Putin, in short, is always forced to act in a certain manner because of the actions of others.
In Britain, we now have a similar class of “Islamismversteher” – those instinctively ready to find fault with the democracies under attack and eager to explain why Islamist killers have to do what they do. In the first few days after the butchery at Charlie Hebdo and in a kosher hypermarket, it was hard for journalists to forgive the slaughter of their confrères. But soon enough, our press was full of arguments to help us to a greater understanding of the Islamist position.
Rationalisation No. 1 was that, without the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, none of this would have happened. The Guardian likes this rationalisation in particular.
But what these understanders of Islamism overlook is that Islamist violence predates the arrival of George W. Bush in power.
The 1995 Paris Metro bombing, the 1997 Luxor slaughter of 60 Swiss tourists or indeed the murder of journalists at Algeria’s “Hebdo libéré” in 1994 happened well before the wave of confrontational militarism brought on by American neo-conservatives after 9/11.
Rationalisation No. 2 is to blame “Charlie Hebdo” for its mocking of religion. Britain’s conservative papers like the Daily Mail enjoyed this line of argument with some remarkably vicious denunciation of the Paris weekly. They almost went as far as arguing that Charlie deserved what it got.
An equally unappealing variation of this was Pope Francis’s view, expressed during his Asia trip, that mocking religion deserves a “punch on the nose.” So much for press freedom.
Rationalisation No. 3 is, predictably enough, that Israel is to blame. But, wait a moment. It was just in December that French deputies voted to recognise Palestine, as did British MPs, the Belgian Parliament and the European Parliament. These European actions no doubt reflected deep frustration with the policies pursued by Israel.
Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called Gaza a “prison camp,” in effect repeating standard Islamist propaganda lines.
Never mind that European states, directly or via the EU, provide most of the money that allows the Palestinians to survive.
These actions would seem to make it near inexplicable, even via the mouths of the always eager understanders of Islamism, that, despite rejecting Israel’s position at the UN and putting no pressure on Arab states or the Palestinians, it is the nations and citizens of Europe who seem the target of choice for Islamists.
It is true that the 2,000 people reportedly killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria or school children slaughtered in Pakistan do not receive lasting coverage. Neither do the Jews murdered in Israel by Islamists. They too are quickly forgotten.
But after more than 25 years of Islamist killings in Europe – often aimed at European Jews – surely someone might stop blaming Israel or George W. Bush? One would like to believe the long slumber of Europe about Islamist ideology is about to end. To paraphrase Pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer, when they came for Anwar Sadat, we thought it was an internal Egyptian fight. When they came for Algerian journalists in the 1990s or Tunisian leftists in 2013, we thought it was revenge for authoritarian regimes.
When they came for tourists in Luxor, well, that was Mubarak’s repressive regime and the poverty of Nile delta peasants. When they came again and again for Jews in Israel, that was about the 1948 Nakba. When they came to Madrid in 2004 or London in 2005, that was just insane criminality. And so on.
No one wants to admit that Islamism is an ideology with a deadly world view and it will no more make concessions than Stalin or Hitler did in the 1930s or Mao in China in the 1960s. It is important to understand and study Islamism and its texts which as Jonathan Sacks pointed out date back to at least 1950 and the publication of “Our Struggle Against the Jews” by the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb.
But understanding Islamism is the first step to combatting it effectively not to defend or promote what by any standard is an evil ideology obsessed with hate against democracy, free journalists and Jews.

Swiss France Soars to Cause Euro Problems

Eureporter 22 January 2015

Swiss franc reaches for sky as snow falls on Davos
Denis MacShane | January 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Whew! I got out just in time. Two weeks ago I was in Davos, skiing with former MP colleagues from Britain and Switzerland. For six decades UK and Swiss politicians and ministers, retired or active, have been meeting for a week on the slopes. All pay their way but the chairlift diplomacy that takes places helps forge one of the strongest inter-parliamentary relationships that exists between two of the most enduring democracies in the world.

Now Davos has become a whole lot more expensive. The sudden, unheralded decision by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to unpeg the Swiss franc from the Euro has been one of the biggest upsets on the forex markets in years. Already firms have had to stop trading as they were caught on the wrong side of the suddenly rising Swiss franc.

Just as there were hopes that banks and related financial service firms were leaving the instability of the post-2008 era, the Swiss decision has produced headlines about new currency wars.

2 weeks ago €1 bought CHF 1.20 the rate decided in 2011 as Switzerland was flooded with Euros as people sought a safe haven from the Eurozone crisis. Now the euro is at par with the Swiss franc – a 20 per cent revaluation of the Alpine currency. World Economic Forum participants have already paid for their stay but from the beginning of February Davos, Zermatt and Verbier will be much more expensive.

Swiss exporters are furious as overnight the cost of a Swatch, Swiss chocolate or pharmaceuticals went up by 20 per cent. Swiss tourism will see a drop in customers especially as Russians who have been a major mainstay of the Swiss tourist business in recent years are already staying away as a result of the weak rouble.

There is panic in East Europe where mortgages in Swiss francs at low interest rates are common but overnight the monthly repayments have got more costly. Croatian banks have rejected a suggestion by the government in Zagreb to fix a rate between the franc and the Croatian kuna. The Polish government has ordered an inquiry into the zloty-franc rate as angry mortgage holders may vote out the Civic Platform government as their monthly payments rise sharply.

The SNB promised to buy euro to maintain the peg and even charged banks a fee – a negative interest rate – to deposit money with the national bank. With today’s quantative easing announcement by the European Central Bank likely to lead to a lower euro the hunt for safe currency havens was growing stronger and it became impossible for the SNB to keep buying up euros.

In a country that is home to the Mont Pélerin Society created to honour the teaching of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, it sounded odd to so crudely buck the market by deciding a value of the currency independently of those who wanted to buy it.

That said this is a massive decoupling of Switzerland from all its Euro using neighbours. Berne has just signed a tax disclosure deal with Rome and along with similar agreements with other major European countries and with Washington, the days when Swiss banking secrecy was the main reason in addition to conservative banking traditions that attracted massive post-war inflows are well and truly over.

This time last year Switzerland voted to impose a cap on the number of EU citizens who could come and work or live in Switzerland. 34 per cent of the Swiss population are first or second generation immigrants from elsewhere in Europe.

On the whole the Swiss have handled the problem of outsiders coming into the country firmly but fairly.

This is changing. If in Britain or France the EU immigrant is seen as a poorly paid worker in Switzerland it was rather the massive influx of German-speaking professionals and German money buying houses and apartments that provoked resentment.

Now Switzerland has to find a way of solving its repudiation of the core EU principle of free moment of people. Brussels and the 28 member states have made clear Switzerland cannot unilaterally dictate the terms of its relationship with the EU. If Swiss banks and firms want full market open access to the EU then the Swiss have to accept EU access to Switzerland.

Until last week, the Swiss immigrant cap decision was the subject of professional bi-lateral discussion with neither Bern nor Brussels looking for a show-down.

Now that the SNB has ended the link to the euro the temptation for many Germans and citizens of northern Europe with memories of relatively hard currencies that maintained their value may be to hedge by shifting into Swiss francs. Switzerland’s relationship with the EU will need careful handling after the SNB’s decision.
Switzerland exports half its GDP and imports 40%. Swiss exporters have become used to the €1-CHF1.20 link and will now scramble over what prices to charge for goods and services. Ten per cent of Swiss GDP is based on commodity trading and with the slump in prices of metals, oil, and other globally traded goods it is not clear how de-pegging the franc will effect this sector which has grown to be worth more to Switzerland than tourism in recent years.

Will Greeks, Portuguese, Italians and Spaniards be now temped to move their euros into Swiss francs as an insurance against more eurozone difficulties?

The abrupt way the SNB announced its decision was a throw-back to days when government decided changes in national currencies during the pre-ERM and euro era. The Swiss franc going up sharply may swell Alpine chests with pride but the move does not add stability to Europe’s financial arrangements as a Greek election and a major ECB move on monetary easing begin 2015 with headaches for the European and wider banking community.

Chilcott Inquiry

Huffington Post 20 January 2015

Why the Chilcot Inquiry Won’t Satisfy Us
Denis MacShane
Will 2015 finally see the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war? Certainly not this side of the election it now seems. Why is it taking so long? 100,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed or wounded in the disastrous Dardanelles campaign in 1915 compared to 179 in Iraq. In 1916, a committee of inquiry was set up and reported after three years.

The Chilcot Inquiry was set up six years ago and has still not reported. It has been dogged by controversy. A retired ambassador, Oliver Miles, said the two Jewish members of the inquiry, the academics, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman, should not sit on it. Mr Miles is a paid up member of what in the Foreign Office is called the “Camel Corps”, the British trained specialists in Arab affairs who ever since Britain added various Arab regions, nations and peoples to its portfolio of imperial and economic interests, have been tasked with managing British interests in the Arab world.

If America has an Israel lobby, Britain has an Arab lobby. Compared to the non-stop criticism of Israel over human rights, the far worse assaults on human dignity, on women, on freedom of expression in Arab nations passes largely uncommented in London so effective is the Arab lobby and the FCO “Camel Corps” in protecting its clients and what are seen as core British financial interests.
The unpleasant remarks about Jews on the commission of inquiry by the Camel Corps representative was just one of many problems faced by Chilcot. The main one is that unlike the Dardanelles, which was a grotesque mistake by Winston Churchill for which he was never sanctioned but which fitted into a pattern of terrible loss of life in order to defeat German militarism and free France and the low countries from a hegemonic invader and occupier, there is no-one who can claim that Iraq was “won.”

Last summer I heard a very senior US Republican foreign affairs representative tell a seminar that George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq was the “biggest US foreign policy error since the decision to withdraw from Europe in 1919.” The historical reference was fascinating (and correct) but this man was a top George W Bush official who had held high office in the US administration of the time. (The seminar was held under Chatham House rules so he cannot be named.)

He was right and the British decision to invade will be judged by history to have been a mistake. I am guilty along with 416 MPs in 2003 who voted to topple Saddam. We voted as we did for different reasons. I believed Robin Cook when he asserted that Saddam had played fast and loose with UN inspections and therefore probably did have weapons of mass destruction. It is impossible to prove a negative and the UN inspector, Hans Blix, could not say en clair that Saddam had no such weapons.

I believed that after the shame of non-intervention by Britain in Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda we could remove Saddam as we had stopped Slobodan Milosevic’s genocidal and Katyn-style massacres and destroyed the Sierra Leone thugs who specialised in lopping off children’s arms.

I was wrong. The last three decades of northern invasions of majority Muslim nations in the Arab world and Afghanistan have been disastrously counter-productive. Invading Iraq did not produce jihadism. Reagan-Thatcher foreign policy in supporting Islamist jihadis against Russia in Afghanistan in the 1980s set a pattern. The Cameron-Sarkozy intervention in Libya and murder of Gaddafi has turned Libya into a Jihad central and encouraged mass emigration from Africa via Libya to Italy and Malta.

Britain had been at war with Iraq since 1998 when the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook, told the House of Commons that Saddam had hidden stockpiles of weapons on mass destruction. The UK ramped up UN sanctions which cost of the lives of scores of thousands on children. The RAF dropped 318 bombs by the end of 2002. At the time William Hague told the Commons that Saddam had 400 hidden locations where weapons of mass destruction were stored. Sir Menzies Campbell for the Liberal Democrats insisted that force to sustain UN sanctions had to be applied.

So when the vote came in March 2003, there were enough MPs of all parties to vote for war. The idea they were all dupes of dodgy dossiers and fell under some spell cast by Tony Blair is childish drivel. No-one knew how the vote would go and Jack Straw was prepared to resign if the vote had gone the other way.

That is entirely to his credit and honour. But what is discreditable and barely honourable is the position of all the retired diplomats who now shake their grey locks and say the decision was a terrible thing and Saddam should have been left in peace with a few more year’s useless UN inspection visits to deal with.

Other than a junior FCO lawyer no ambassador, diplomat or Whitehall official resigned or made any public protest. I do not recall any FCO official inside the building objecting to the invasion. After all the Camel Corps had been pretty keen on other invasions or toppling of Arab or Iranian leaders in past years when it conformed to their beliefs.

Now everyone has the wisdom of hindsight. I asked the senior American official if Mr Bush could ever come to admit that Iraq was in Talleyrand’s words “worse then a crime, an error”?

“No”, was the reply, “I don’t think that President Bush can look the 4,500 families who lost a son or husband in Iraq in the face and tell them the sacrifice was wasted.”

David Cameron has the same problem with the 450 British soldiers who have been killed pointlessly in Afghanistan since 2010. But there is no pressure on the Prime Minister to explain why he was unable to change strategy and stop British soldiers being used by generals as target practice for the Taliban.

But everyone want’s Tony Blair’s scalp over Iraq. The other 416 MPs who voted for war are apparently not responsible, only Blair. The Whitehall experts and Camel Corps FCO officials who raised no objections, did not resign in protest, are all blameless as only Tony Blair can be held to account.

That is Chilcott’s dilemma. Of course he must worry about publishing confidential conversations between a British Prime Minister and a US president. No-one will ever trust a British leader in the future if the new norm is that all private talks might be published. And to allege and accuse without right of reply is not very British.

Sadly there is no single truth, no burning dossier, no transcript that will allow closure on the Iraq war. 417 men and women voted to invade Iraq and topple a monster of torture, murder and terror. Islamist jihadi terrorism has different roots and Whitehall and the FCO has refused over three decades to call Islamist ideology by its name because so much as Islamist terror is funded by our allies cosseted by the Camel Corps in Arab countries.

One can only wish Chilcott and his committee all the best as they struggle to produce a report that will satisfy anyone let alone everyone. There is one absolute certainty about the publication of their report. It will bring no closure and satisfy no-one.
Denis MacShane, the former MP for Rotherham, was a PPS and Minister of State at the FCO 1997-2005

Huffington Post 20 January 2015

Why the Chilcot Inquiry Won’t Satisfy Us
Denis MacShane
Will 2015 finally see the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war? Certainly not this side of the election it now seems. Why is it taking so long? 100,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed or wounded in the disastrous Dardanelles campaign in 1915 compared to 179 in Iraq. In 1916, a committee of inquiry was set up and reported after three years.

The Chilcot Inquiry was set up six years ago and has still not reported. It has been dogged by controversy. A retired ambassador, Oliver Miles, said the two Jewish members of the inquiry, the academics, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman, should not sit on it. Mr Miles is a paid up member of what in the Foreign Office is called the “Camel Corps”, the British trained specialists in Arab affairs who ever since Britain added various Arab regions, nations and peoples to its portfolio of imperial and economic interests, have been tasked with managing British interests in the Arab world.

If America has an Israel lobby, Britain has an Arab lobby. Compared to the non-stop criticism of Israel over human rights, the far worse assaults on human dignity, on women, on freedom of expression in Arab nations passes largely uncommented in London so effective is the Arab lobby and the FCO “Camel Corps” in protecting its clients and what are seen as core British financial interests.
The unpleasant remarks about Jews on the commission of inquiry by the Camel Corps representative was just one of many problems faced by Chilcot. The main one is that unlike the Dardanelles, which was a grotesque mistake by Winston Churchill for which he was never sanctioned but which fitted into a pattern of terrible loss of life in order to defeat German militarism and free France and the low countries from a hegemonic invader and occupier, there is no-one who can claim that Iraq was “won.”

Last summer I heard a very senior US Republican foreign affairs representative tell a seminar that George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq was the “biggest US foreign policy error since the decision to withdraw from Europe in 1919.” The historical reference was fascinating (and correct) but this man was a top George W Bush official who had held high office in the US administration of the time. (The seminar was held under Chatham House rules so he cannot be named.)

He was right and the British decision to invade will be judged by history to have been a mistake. I am guilty along with 416 MPs in 2003 who voted to topple Saddam. We voted as we did for different reasons. I believed Robin Cook when he asserted that Saddam had played fast and loose with UN inspections and therefore probably did have weapons of mass destruction. It is impossible to prove a negative and the UN inspector, Hans Blix, could not say en clair that Saddam had no such weapons.

I believed that after the shame of non-intervention by Britain in Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda we could remove Saddam as we had stopped Slobodan Milosevic’s genocidal and Katyn-style massacres and destroyed the Sierra Leone thugs who specialised in lopping off children’s arms.

I was wrong. The last three decades of northern invasions of majority Muslim nations in the Arab world and Afghanistan have been disastrously counter-productive. Invading Iraq did not produce jihadism. Reagan-Thatcher foreign policy in supporting Islamist jihadis against Russia in Afghanistan in the 1980s set a pattern. The Cameron-Sarkozy intervention in Libya and murder of Gaddafi has turned Libya into a Jihad central and encouraged mass emigration from Africa via Libya to Italy and Malta.

Britain had been at war with Iraq since 1998 when the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook, told the House of Commons that Saddam had hidden stockpiles of weapons on mass destruction. The UK ramped up UN sanctions which cost of the lives of scores of thousands on children. The RAF dropped 318 bombs by the end of 2002. At the time William Hague told the Commons that Saddam had 400 hidden locations where weapons of mass destruction were stored. Sir Menzies Campbell for the Liberal Democrats insisted that force to sustain UN sanctions had to be applied.

So when the vote came in March 2003, there were enough MPs of all parties to vote for war. The idea they were all dupes of dodgy dossiers and fell under some spell cast by Tony Blair is childish drivel. No-one knew how the vote would go and Jack Straw was prepared to resign if the vote had gone the other way.

That is entirely to his credit and honour. But what is discreditable and barely honourable is the position of all the retired diplomats who now shake their grey locks and say the decision was a terrible thing and Saddam should have been left in peace with a few more year’s useless UN inspection visits to deal with.

Other than a junior FCO lawyer no ambassador, diplomat or Whitehall official resigned or made any public protest. I do not recall any FCO official inside the building objecting to the invasion. After all the Camel Corps had been pretty keen on other invasions or toppling of Arab or Iranian leaders in past years when it conformed to their beliefs.

Now everyone has the wisdom of hindsight. I asked the senior American official if Mr Bush could ever come to admit that Iraq was in Talleyrand’s words “worse then a crime, an error”?

“No”, was the reply, “I don’t think that President Bush can look the 4,500 families who lost a son or husband in Iraq in the face and tell them the sacrifice was wasted.”

David Cameron has the same problem with the 450 British soldiers who have been killed pointlessly in Afghanistan since 2010. But there is no pressure on the Prime Minister to explain why he was unable to change strategy and stop British soldiers being used by generals as target practice for the Taliban.

But everyone want’s Tony Blair’s scalp over Iraq. The other 416 MPs who voted for war are apparently not responsible, only Blair. The Whitehall experts and Camel Corps FCO officials who raised no objections, did not resign in protest, are all blameless as only Tony Blair can be held to account.

That is Chilcott’s dilemma. Of course he must worry about publishing confidential conversations between a British Prime Minister and a US president. No-one will ever trust a British leader in the future if the new norm is that all private talks might be published. And to allege and accuse without right of reply is not very British.

Sadly there is no single truth, no burning dossier, no transcript that will allow closure on the Iraq war. 417 men and women voted to invade Iraq and topple a monster of torture, murder and terror. Islamist jihadi terrorism has different roots and Whitehall and the FCO has refused over three decades to call Islamist ideology by its name because so much as Islamist terror is funded by our allies cosseted by the Camel Corps in Arab countries.

One can only wish Chilcott and his committee all the best as they struggle to produce a report that will satisfy anyone let alone everyone. There is one absolute certainty about the publication of their report. It will bring no closure and satisfy no-one.
Denis MacShane, the former MP for Rotherham, was a PPS and Minister of State at the FCO 1997-2005

Huffington Post 20 January 2015

Why the Chilcot Inquiry Won’t Satisfy Us
Denis MacShane
Will 2015 finally see the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war? Certainly not this side of the election it now seems. Why is it taking so long? 100,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed or wounded in the disastrous Dardanelles campaign in 1915 compared to 179 in Iraq. In 1916, a committee of inquiry was set up and reported after three years.

The Chilcot Inquiry was set up six years ago and has still not reported. It has been dogged by controversy. A retired ambassador, Oliver Miles, said the two Jewish members of the inquiry, the academics, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman, should not sit on it. Mr Miles is a paid up member of what in the Foreign Office is called the “Camel Corps”, the British trained specialists in Arab affairs who ever since Britain added various Arab regions, nations and peoples to its portfolio of imperial and economic interests, have been tasked with managing British interests in the Arab world.

If America has an Israel lobby, Britain has an Arab lobby. Compared to the non-stop criticism of Israel over human rights, the far worse assaults on human dignity, on women, on freedom of expression in Arab nations passes largely uncommented in London so effective is the Arab lobby and the FCO “Camel Corps” in protecting its clients and what are seen as core British financial interests.
The unpleasant remarks about Jews on the commission of inquiry by the Camel Corps representative was just one of many problems faced by Chilcot. The main one is that unlike the Dardanelles, which was a grotesque mistake by Winston Churchill for which he was never sanctioned but which fitted into a pattern of terrible loss of life in order to defeat German militarism and free France and the low countries from a hegemonic invader and occupier, there is no-one who can claim that Iraq was “won.”

Last summer I heard a very senior US Republican foreign affairs representative tell a seminar that George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq was the “biggest US foreign policy error since the decision to withdraw from Europe in 1919.” The historical reference was fascinating (and correct) but this man was a top George W Bush official who had held high office in the US administration of the time. (The seminar was held under Chatham House rules so he cannot be named.)

He was right and the British decision to invade will be judged by history to have been a mistake. I am guilty along with 416 MPs in 2003 who voted to topple Saddam. We voted as we did for different reasons. I believed Robin Cook when he asserted that Saddam had played fast and loose with UN inspections and therefore probably did have weapons of mass destruction. It is impossible to prove a negative and the UN inspector, Hans Blix, could not say en clair that Saddam had no such weapons.

I believed that after the shame of non-intervention by Britain in Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda we could remove Saddam as we had stopped Slobodan Milosevic’s genocidal and Katyn-style massacres and destroyed the Sierra Leone thugs who specialised in lopping off children’s arms.

I was wrong. The last three decades of northern invasions of majority Muslim nations in the Arab world and Afghanistan have been disastrously counter-productive. Invading Iraq did not produce jihadism. Reagan-Thatcher foreign policy in supporting Islamist jihadis against Russia in Afghanistan in the 1980s set a pattern. The Cameron-Sarkozy intervention in Libya and murder of Gaddafi has turned Libya into a Jihad central and encouraged mass emigration from Africa via Libya to Italy and Malta.

Britain had been at war with Iraq since 1998 when the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook, told the House of Commons that Saddam had hidden stockpiles of weapons on mass destruction. The UK ramped up UN sanctions which cost of the lives of scores of thousands on children. The RAF dropped 318 bombs by the end of 2002. At the time William Hague told the Commons that Saddam had 400 hidden locations where weapons of mass destruction were stored. Sir Menzies Campbell for the Liberal Democrats insisted that force to sustain UN sanctions had to be applied.

So when the vote came in March 2003, there were enough MPs of all parties to vote for war. The idea they were all dupes of dodgy dossiers and fell under some spell cast by Tony Blair is childish drivel. No-one knew how the vote would go and Jack Straw was prepared to resign if the vote had gone the other way.

That is entirely to his credit and honour. But what is discreditable and barely honourable is the position of all the retired diplomats who now shake their grey locks and say the decision was a terrible thing and Saddam should have been left in peace with a few more year’s useless UN inspection visits to deal with.

Other than a junior FCO lawyer no ambassador, diplomat or Whitehall official resigned or made any public protest. I do not recall any FCO official inside the building objecting to the invasion. After all the Camel Corps had been pretty keen on other invasions or toppling of Arab or Iranian leaders in past years when it conformed to their beliefs.

Now everyone has the wisdom of hindsight. I asked the senior American official if Mr Bush could ever come to admit that Iraq was in Talleyrand’s words “worse then a crime, an error”?

“No”, was the reply, “I don’t think that President Bush can look the 4,500 families who lost a son or husband in Iraq in the face and tell them the sacrifice was wasted.”

David Cameron has the same problem with the 450 British soldiers who have been killed pointlessly in Afghanistan since 2010. But there is no pressure on the Prime Minister to explain why he was unable to change strategy and stop British soldiers being used by generals as target practice for the Taliban.

But everyone want’s Tony Blair’s scalp over Iraq. The other 416 MPs who voted for war are apparently not responsible, only Blair. The Whitehall experts and Camel Corps FCO officials who raised no objections, did not resign in protest, are all blameless as only Tony Blair can be held to account.

That is Chilcott’s dilemma. Of course he must worry about publishing confidential conversations between a British Prime Minister and a US president. No-one will ever trust a British leader in the future if the new norm is that all private talks might be published. And to allege and accuse without right of reply is not very British.

Sadly there is no single truth, no burning dossier, no transcript that will allow closure on the Iraq war. 417 men and women voted to invade Iraq and topple a monster of torture, murder and terror. Islamist jihadi terrorism has different roots and Whitehall and the FCO has refused over three decades to call Islamist ideology by its name because so much as Islamist terror is funded by our allies cosseted by the Camel Corps in Arab countries.

One can only wish Chilcott and his committee all the best as they struggle to produce a report that will satisfy anyone let alone everyone. There is one absolute certainty about the publication of their report. It will bring no closure and satisfy no-one.
Denis MacShane, the former MP for Rotherham, was a PPS and Minister of State at the FCO 1997-2005

Huffington Post 20 January 2015

Why the Chilcot Inquiry Won’t Satisfy Us
Denis MacShane
Will 2015 finally see the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war? Certainly not this side of the election it now seems. Why is it taking so long? 100,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed or wounded in the disastrous Dardanelles campaign in 1915 compared to 179 in Iraq. In 1916, a committee of inquiry was set up and reported after three years.

The Chilcot Inquiry was set up six years ago and has still not reported. It has been dogged by controversy. A retired ambassador, Oliver Miles, said the two Jewish members of the inquiry, the academics, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman, should not sit on it. Mr Miles is a paid up member of what in the Foreign Office is called the “Camel Corps”, the British trained specialists in Arab affairs who ever since Britain added various Arab regions, nations and peoples to its portfolio of imperial and economic interests, have been tasked with managing British interests in the Arab world.

If America has an Israel lobby, Britain has an Arab lobby. Compared to the non-stop criticism of Israel over human rights, the far worse assaults on human dignity, on women, on freedom of expression in Arab nations passes largely uncommented in London so effective is the Arab lobby and the FCO “Camel Corps” in protecting its clients and what are seen as core British financial interests.
The unpleasant remarks about Jews on the commission of inquiry by the Camel Corps representative was just one of many problems faced by Chilcot. The main one is that unlike the Dardanelles, which was a grotesque mistake by Winston Churchill for which he was never sanctioned but which fitted into a pattern of terrible loss of life in order to defeat German militarism and free France and the low countries from a hegemonic invader and occupier, there is no-one who can claim that Iraq was “won.”

Last summer I heard a very senior US Republican foreign affairs representative tell a seminar that George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq was the “biggest US foreign policy error since the decision to withdraw from Europe in 1919.” The historical reference was fascinating (and correct) but this man was a top George W Bush official who had held high office in the US administration of the time. (The seminar was held under Chatham House rules so he cannot be named.)

He was right and the British decision to invade will be judged by history to have been a mistake. I am guilty along with 416 MPs in 2003 who voted to topple Saddam. We voted as we did for different reasons. I believed Robin Cook when he asserted that Saddam had played fast and loose with UN inspections and therefore probably did have weapons of mass destruction. It is impossible to prove a negative and the UN inspector, Hans Blix, could not say en clair that Saddam had no such weapons.

I believed that after the shame of non-intervention by Britain in Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda we could remove Saddam as we had stopped Slobodan Milosevic’s genocidal and Katyn-style massacres and destroyed the Sierra Leone thugs who specialised in lopping off children’s arms.

I was wrong. The last three decades of northern invasions of majority Muslim nations in the Arab world and Afghanistan have been disastrously counter-productive. Invading Iraq did not produce jihadism. Reagan-Thatcher foreign policy in supporting Islamist jihadis against Russia in Afghanistan in the 1980s set a pattern. The Cameron-Sarkozy intervention in Libya and murder of Gaddafi has turned Libya into a Jihad central and encouraged mass emigration from Africa via Libya to Italy and Malta.

Britain had been at war with Iraq since 1998 when the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook, told the House of Commons that Saddam had hidden stockpiles of weapons on mass destruction. The UK ramped up UN sanctions which cost of the lives of scores of thousands on children. The RAF dropped 318 bombs by the end of 2002. At the time William Hague told the Commons that Saddam had 400 hidden locations where weapons of mass destruction were stored. Sir Menzies Campbell for the Liberal Democrats insisted that force to sustain UN sanctions had to be applied.

So when the vote came in March 2003, there were enough MPs of all parties to vote for war. The idea they were all dupes of dodgy dossiers and fell under some spell cast by Tony Blair is childish drivel. No-one knew how the vote would go and Jack Straw was prepared to resign if the vote had gone the other way.

That is entirely to his credit and honour. But what is discreditable and barely honourable is the position of all the retired diplomats who now shake their grey locks and say the decision was a terrible thing and Saddam should have been left in peace with a few more year’s useless UN inspection visits to deal with.

Other than a junior FCO lawyer no ambassador, diplomat or Whitehall official resigned or made any public protest. I do not recall any FCO official inside the building objecting to the invasion. After all the Camel Corps had been pretty keen on other invasions or toppling of Arab or Iranian leaders in past years when it conformed to their beliefs.

Now everyone has the wisdom of hindsight. I asked the senior American official if Mr Bush could ever come to admit that Iraq was in Talleyrand’s words “worse then a crime, an error”?

“No”, was the reply, “I don’t think that President Bush can look the 4,500 families who lost a son or husband in Iraq in the face and tell them the sacrifice was wasted.”

David Cameron has the same problem with the 450 British soldiers who have been killed pointlessly in Afghanistan since 2010. But there is no pressure on the Prime Minister to explain why he was unable to change strategy and stop British soldiers being used by generals as target practice for the Taliban.

But everyone want’s Tony Blair’s scalp over Iraq. The other 416 MPs who voted for war are apparently not responsible, only Blair. The Whitehall experts and Camel Corps FCO officials who raised no objections, did not resign in protest, are all blameless as only Tony Blair can be held to account.

That is Chilcott’s dilemma. Of course he must worry about publishing confidential conversations between a British Prime Minister and a US president. No-one will ever trust a British leader in the future if the new norm is that all private talks might be published. And to allege and accuse without right of reply is not very British.

Sadly there is no single truth, no burning dossier, no transcript that will allow closure on the Iraq war. 417 men and women voted to invade Iraq and topple a monster of torture, murder and terror. Islamist jihadi terrorism has different roots and Whitehall and the FCO has refused over three decades to call Islamist ideology by its name because so much as Islamist terror is funded by our allies cosseted by the Camel Corps in Arab countries.

One can only wish Chilcott and his committee all the best as they struggle to produce a report that will satisfy anyone let alone everyone. There is one absolute certainty about the publication of their report. It will bring no closure and satisfy no-one.
Denis MacShane, the former MP for Rotherham, was a PPS and Minister of State at the FCO 1997-2005

France and Its Jews

France and Its Jews
France must act quickly to stop a new wave of anti-Semitism.

One of the cartoonists murdered at Charlie Hebdo was 80-year old Georges Wolinski. He and the other magazine’s star cartoonists had made their name (and money) by being in mainstream papers and journals.
Wolinski, for his part, was the chronicler of sexual needs and frustrations, which he detailed over decades in gentle albums which mocked the hopes and letdowns of all relations between men and women. His parents had gone to French Tunisia in the 1930s to escape the anti-Semitism of Poland.
Still witty with his drawing, he was butchered in his ninth decade by two men groomed to hate the mocking of those who set themselves in authority over us – above all those who claim to dictate behavior in the name of god.
Wolinski’s killers, the Kouachi brothers may not have known he was Jewish. But when their co-conspirator headed for a kosher store for the final shoot-out, there was no question that this was about Jews.
After writing in the condolence book for the murdered journalists in rue Nicole Appert (years ago I was president of the UK Union of Journalists before going into politics), I walked a few hundred meters to eat Europe’s best falafel in the rue de Rosiers. It is located in the heart of Paris’s Jewish quarter.
In 1982, it was here that six were killed and 20 wounded when grenades were thrown into the street’s busiest Jewish delicatessen restaurant.
Two years earlier, in 1980, six Jews were killed at a synagogue in Paris. The then-prime minister, Raymond Barre, deplored the fact that “innocent French citizens had been killed as well as Jews.” He made it sound as if the latter were not really French.
These days, in the rue de Rosiers, there are once again tough if polite security once-overs at the door. Still, the atmosphere was noisy, chatty and really rather normal.
I talked to four young Jewish women, all students at the Paris Conservatory. They had 1940s hairstyles and dresses and had been singing at a commemoration of the 1945 liberation of France at the Museum of Paris just down the street. Two of them shrugged their shoulders when I asked if they were fearful about anti-Semitism and for their future, or if they were thinking of leaving France for Israel.
“No, it’s bad on both sides. Islamaphobia is as bad as anti-Semitism,” said one.
“I don’t like it. I do worry in the street. But no, I don’t think going to Israel is the answer,” said the quiet one.
These women are France’s future and the future of Jews in Europe. If they [Jews] give up on France, then Islamist communitarianism has won.
The point was made in the French parliament, the National Assembly. On January 13, 2015, Prime Minister Manuel Valls delivered the most forthright denunciation of anti-Semitism ever heard from a European head of government since 1945.
“Can we accept that French citizens are killed because they are Jews? There is a new anti-Semitism based on a hatred of the state of Israel, which promotes hatred of the Jew, of all Jews.”
“We must find words to combat this unacceptable anti-Semitism. Let us tell the world. Without the Jews of France, France would no longer be France. Let us say that clearly — and strongly. We have not in the past. We have not been angry enough.”
The prime minister went on to say: “How can we accept that in some schools and colleges, it is impossible to teach the Shoah? How do we accept that when a child of seven or eight is asked by his teacher, ‘Who is your enemy?’ The child replies, ‘The Jew?’ When they attack the Jews of France, they attack France and they attack the conscience of the world.”
In those few, clear sentences, Valls made atonement for the words of Charles de Gaulle after the 1967 six-day war when the then-French President had sneered at Jews “as an elite people, arrogant and domineering.”
Earlier in his speech, Manuel Valls listed the sources of Islamist violence as Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Mali and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. He failed to mention Hamas, even though the Palestinian Islamist movement explicitly calls on its followers to “kill Jews” in its Charter and says Israel must disappear.
France has tried to maintain political and commercial friendships with anti-Israel Arab states. After the most recent acts of atrocity, Paris is now army-patrolled, especially in Jewish quarters.
The attack on the very idea of freedom of expression, of the Voltaire Enlightenment and of the rights of man pronounced in the French Revolution may finally wake up France to the danger the world faces from the Israel and Jew-haters now killing at will.

Islamism Understanders

Europe’s Eager Islamism Understanders

After more than 25 years of Islamist killings in Europe, isn’t it time to stop blaming Israel or George W. Bush?

By Denis MacShane, January 18, 2015

Time stands still in la rue Nicole Appert, an unfashionable part of Paris. This is the place where they came to kill the cartoonists, writers, an economist and a shrink – a Jewish woman, of course – because. Stop there.

Because why? Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly, was at best a gadfly on the fringe of French media.
In the German language, there is a new term for those ready to explain and justify any and all aspects of Russian President Putin’s behavior. They are called the “Putinversteher” – literally, the Putin understanders.
These people are not quite apologists or appeasers for the Russian leader and his behavior. They are nevertheless ready to leap into print or go on television to explain why opposing Putin is dangerous.
More tantalizing yet, they manage to explain why history, geography, the behavior of his opponents (or whatever) are the real cause of his actions. Putin, in short, is always forced to act in a certain manner because of the actions of others.
In Europe, we now have a similar class of “Islamismusversteher” – those instinctively ready to find fault with the democracies under attack and eager to explain why Islamist killers have to do what they do.
In the first few days, it was kind of hard for journalists across Europe to forgive the slaughter of their confrères. But soon enough, the European press was full of arguments to help us to a greater understanding of the Islamist position.
No war, no problem
Rationalization No. 1 was that, without the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, none of this would have happened. Britain’s The Guardian newspaper likes this rationalization in particular.
But what these understanders of Islamism overlook is that Islamist violence predates the arrival of George W. Bush in power.
The 1995 Paris Metro bombing, the 1997 Luxor slaughter of 60 Swiss tourists or indeed the murder of journalists at Algeria’s “Hebdo libéré” in 1994 happened well before the wave of confrontational militarism brought on by American neo-conservatives after 9/11.
Rationalization No. 2 is to blame “Charlie Hebdo” for its mocking of religion. Britain’s conservative papers like the Daily Mail enjoyed this line of argument with some remarkably vicious denunciation of the Paris weekly. They almost went as far as arguing that Charlie deserved what it got.
An equally unappealing variation of this was Pope Francis’s view, expressed during his Asia trip, that mocking religion deserves a “punch on the nose.” So much for press freedom.
Rationalization No. 3 is, predictably enough, that Israel is to blame. Again, it is reasonable to criticize the current Israeli government’s refusal to make bigger efforts to pursue a two-state solution.
But, wait a moment. It was just in December that French deputies voted to recognize Palestine, as did British MPs, the Belgian Parliament and the European Parliament. These European actions no doubt reflected deep frustration with the policies pursued by Israel.
Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called Gaza a “prison camp,” in effect repeating standard Islamist propaganda lines.
Never mind that European states, directly or via the EU, provide most of the money that allows the Palestinians to survive.
These actions would seem to make it near inexplicable, even via the mouths of the always eager understanders of Islamism, that, despite rejecting Israel’s position at the UN and putting no pressure on Arab states or the Palestinians, it is the nations and citizens of Europe who seem the target of choice for Islamists.
It is true that the 2,000 people reportedly killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria or school children slaughtered in Pakistan do not receive lasting coverage. Neither do the Jews murdered in Israel by Islamists. They too are quickly forgotten.
But after more than 25 years of Islamist killings in Europe – often aimed at European Jews – surely someone might stop blaming Israel or George W. Bush?
One would like to believe the long slumber of Europe about Islamist ideology is about to end. To paraphrase Pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer, when they came for Anwar Sadat, we thought it was an internal Egyptian fight. When they came for Algerian journalists in the 1990s or Tunisian leftists in 2013, we thought it was revenge for authoritarian regimes.
When they came for tourists in Luxor, well, that was Mubarak’s repressive regime and the poverty of Nile delta peasants. When they came again and again for Jews in Israel, that was about the 1948 Nakba. When they came to Madrid in 2004 or London in 2005, that was just insane criminality. And so on.
No one wants to admit that Islamism is an ideology with a deadly world view and it will no more make concessions than Stalin or Hitler did in the 1930s or Mao in China in the 1960s.