Sunday, 29 November 2015

Cameron - the heir to Blair

After weeks of terrorist atrocities that peaked, in most people's perceptions with the attacks in Paris, it would be uplifting to report that the British government appeared to be taking decisions on the basis of long-term strategic interests and working to secure support and understanding of its position.  Instead, we have the ugly spectacle of an arrogant Prime Minister calculating about how he can dish the Opposition while at the same time placating his neoconservative mates.

The parallels with the immediate aftermath of September 2001 are chilling.  In that case, it is reasonable to assume that the decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq had been taken and then the strategy back-solved.  Bush and his amoral poodle spent eighteen months building straw men, culminating in the ultimate lies of imminent threat from Iraq and there being an outcome that promoted stability and peace.  Thinking people didn't believe it then, and they shouldn't believe it now.

Where Cameron and his minions score is in their combination of fear and pseudo-patriotism.  Nobody wants there to be an escalation in violence or for innocent people to be attacked - but by ratcheting up the perceived rather than real risks he is playing to a particular narrative.  There is no real rebuttal to the assertion that increased bellicosity abroad will increase the risk from both external and domestic terrorism, but this is portrayed as a price worth paying - almost, subliminally, as a contribution to our "heroes" forced into political game-playing.

A strategy for Syria and Iraq, if it were ever to emerge, would need to address demography, geography and politics.  It is bound up with the wider Middle East, including the continued impasse that Blair has done nothing to address around Israel's security and behaviours, and the shift in balance of the world economy away from carbon-based energy.  Therefore it is complicated, and not best addressed through gesture attacks which can be portrayed as of equivalent intent to the vile murders of civilians elsewhere in the world.

Cameron and Philip Hammond, whose vacuity and arrogance grow with the years, do not appear to care about the consequences.  If they did, they would have worked much more closely with the United Nation to bring in Russia and other neighbouring countries into an effective ground-based force to flush out the outlaws.  They have fallen into the messianic trap that laid waste to Blair's credibility and British prestige - albeit demonstrating that the great white elephant of Trident replacement will erode our ability to support such actions.

Jeremy Corbyn's position has been consistent.  It is perfectly possible, despite the barrage of criticism directed at him, to understand that his analysis is sincere and based around the experience of the damage that Blair's Republican agenda inflicted not just on his party but on the country.  It may not be perfect, but it is as worthy of respect as any others - it is not a matter where party politics provides a reliable or relevant guide.  Putting forward views based on experience and historical evidence is not a crime.

Yet from the dribbling you would have thought that the issue being discussed is not that of how to eliminate a rogue insurgency outwit international law, but how to create civil war within the Labour Party.  Since Corbyn's election, there has been an unsubtle suggestion that the will of members is in some way a "mistake", to be corrected by a Blairite coup within the Parliamentary Party.  As many of those advancing it are contemptuous of any democratic activity this is not surprising, but it is a prime example of distraction tactics.

Cameron, when he was in starry-eyed mode back in 2006, claimed to want to the Blair's successor.  He is achieving that on every level.  It remains to be hoped that both of them are called to account for their gambling with other people's lives and their hubris that assumes that they alone have the knowledge and wisdom that subverts international law and which does absolutely nothing to increase either citizen safety or national prestige.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Home Secretary and inappropriate sex with goats

As a liberal with libertarian instincts, the first question around any legislation is whether it further impedes the rights of the citizen.  If the answer is that it does, then only then can a secondary question be asked, as to whether its introduction will improve the safety, security and rights of others.  If there is a reasonable case that it does, then the final key determinant of the quality of legislation is whether it is sufficiently tightly-defined, incapable of perversion and open to challenge and scrutiny not merely during its enactment but during its period of life.

This is why the current proposals on the British state's increased ability to intrude into its citizens' private activities are so suspect.  There are already wide-ranging and illiberal powers, nodded through on Blair's watch, that allow virtually unlimited access for the self-appointed guardians of morality, in the guise of preventing criminal acts.  There is already an assumption that private data will be harvested for commercial and controlling ends, and that the porosity of security systems, as evidenced by the recent TalkTalk fiasco, will be exploited.

Nobody is denying the possibility of crime or the ability of legal agencies to act to intervene to prevent it.  Indeed, from a libertarian perspective that meets the utilitarian test, and it would be a strange breed of irresponsible anarchist who denied the need for at least some power to protect the life and liberty of others.  However, what Theresa May and her client groups within the police and secret state want to secure is the ability to intrude in a real-time, but also archived, framework, into both the public and private realm - undermining the very liberties that they claim to be protecting.

As the current administration appears to be both stupid and confused in its attitude to human rights (hardly surprising given the warped definition of a democratic mandate currently in use) there is no check and balance mechanism in place that should provide assurance to the citizen that he or she is able to fight back if victimised by the state.  In this climate, opposing the extension of state power becomes axiomatic, not out of any anti-patriotic bias but out of a desire to protect the civil realm from encroachment.

Whenever one hears the representatives of the state claiming that those who obey the law have nothing to fear, then you have to wonder what dark motivations lie beneath.  The law is mutable, liberty is not.  The same approach is used by totalitarians of all hues and depths of evil, enforcing conformity at pain of ejection from the community and the protection of the polity.  Given the cretinism of most tabloid cheerleaders, the savage irony of promoting "British freedom" while systematically undermining the liberty of the citizen is likely to be overlooked more often than not.

I do not hold a brief for zoophilia, nor do I hold the view that every Tory is necessarily interested in non-mainstream sexualities - but it would be my liberty to use internet search facilities to prove or disprove my hypothesis.  In May's brave new world, this would probably excite the attention (at least) of the security agencies.  This is where syllogism and false reasoning make bad laws - and the Tories, far from defending the freedom of the individual from the state are both being disingenuous and paving the way for more encroachment in the years to come.  This is why libertarians should join with liberals in being angry and active in fighting back.