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The London Blasts


The London Blasts: Media Review

DAY 60: 5 September 2005



Today's Top Realists - Tories Once Again!

Norman Lamont Calls For Withdrawal



The Independent's editorial today is entitled, 'Cracks in the edifice of denial', but it's not about the connection between the 7/7 bombings and Iraq (it's about electoral reform). The cracks in the edifice of denial are being made at the moment by Conservatives, led by Ken Clarke, leadership challenger.

For example, former Tory health secretary Stephen Dorrell has

'warned that the Iraq war had made Britain more vulnerable to terrorist attack. "Of course that is true," he said. "Who do they think they are kidding?" ' (Independent, page 9)

In The Times, Norman Lamont, former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer backs this up, and takes it further:

'When Mr Clarke launched his leadership campaign, he said that he wanted to raise the level of debate that had declined during his lifetime. He certainly did that on Thursday with a heavyweight speech. Typically, he said things that will not be popular in the Conservative Party, which is in a state of complete denial about Iraq. But even Conservative MPs may notice the attention that his views attracted.'

Mr Clarke was right to call the war “a disastrous decision”. It is remarkable that this needs to be said at all.'

'Iraq has been this country’s biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez, has made Britain and the world a more dangerous place, and yet has hardly been criticised at all by the Conservative Party.'

'There has been a detached indifference to the massive loss of life: 2,000 Americans, probably ten times that number of Iraqis killed, and perhaps 100,000 injured or maimed for life — for what purpose? It may be difficult to see how the US can lose in Iraq, but it is also not easy to see how it can win in an acceptable timeframe. There may be civil war, Iraq may split. You would have to be an extreme optimist to believe that Iraq will be a united, stable Western-style democracy in ten years’ time.'

'Many of the points that Mr Clarke made are blindingly obvious but have barely been whispered by Conservatives. “The reasons given to Parliament for joining the invasion were bogus.” He might have added that they also keep changing. The latest reason given by President Bush days before the London bombings is that we are fighting in Iraq so as not to be attacked in our own country. To open today the Government’s White Paper, published before the war, with the Prime Minister’s foreword warning us of “the current and serious threat to the UK” and its maps with concentric circles reaching Europe is a reminder of how Tony Blair at least deceived himself and thus the country.'

'The Government’s arguments about the connection between terrorism and the war also keep changing. At first it said that there was no connection, now it says that Iraq does not justify terrorism. No one ever said that it did. Mr Blair is a master at rejecting points no one has made.'


Norman Lamont takes the case further than Ken Clarke, calling for withdrawal from Iraq, first commending Clarke for 'bluntly pin[ning] the responsibility on US military tactics for alienating many moderate Iraqis':

'It is difficult to see how you can win hearts and minds when military strategy initially made so little attempt to distinguish between combatant and non-combatants.'

Here is Lamont on withdrawal:

'Mr Clarke hit the most sensitive point for the Tories when he said that a true friend of the United States is a candid friend. Here he echoes the criticisms of Mr Blair made by Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser. “US presidents are not always right.” '

'On one point however, Mr Clarke may be wrong, and may find himself outflanked even by the Americans. He believes it would be “immoral to walk away”, and that we should not pull the troops out. Much the same was said about Vietnam. The time has to come when the Iraqis assume responsibility for their own destiny. As Senator Chuck Hagel has said: “Staying the course is not a policy.” Without a stated intention to withdraw, Iraqis may never be ready or willing to take control of their country.'

'This is a profoundly un-Conservative war. It might have appealed to Gladstone, but even he, I suspect, might have had his doubts. Of course it is true that more democracy would make the Middle East more stable. But democracy cannot be rolled out like Astroturf, and imposing it on backward countries carries huge risks.'

'Britain and America would have done well to remember the words of a former US president. “The time has passed when America will make every other nation’s conflict our own, or make other nations’ failure our responsibility, or presume to tell the people of other nations how to manage their own affairs. Just as we respect the right of each nation to determine its own future, we also recognise the responsibility of each nation to secure its own future.” That was Richard Nixon in his second inaugural address. He understood better than President Bush both the world and the limits of American power.'

Nixon was of course being entirely deceitful in this address, but what is interesting is that this sentiment is being voiced so strongly by a leading Conservative (who supported the war until the Hutton Report was published, he tells us).

More on Ken Clarke later.



Another crack in the edifice in this letter in the Telegraph by Christopher Leadbetter, making some points we made here a few days ago. (His letter is followed by an equally relevant warning of the counter-productive nature of Khan's atrocity.)



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This page last updated 5 September 2005





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