Friday, November 06, 2009

Afghanistan's Catch-22 Madness

A war weary public on both sides of the Atlantic is braced for the next outrage as the Afghan war takes its deadly toll. Here deluded Brown is sending mixed messages, as the tide turns on his insane war.

The new Vietnam is living down to its name and the fall-out is reaching ugly proportions.

America is bracing itself for a backlash after a US muslim army major's merciless massacre at Fort Hood, Texas. The murder of UK soldiers by an Afghan 'police infiltrator' adds weight to the 'troops out' call.

In the US, where the war wounds of Vietnam linger in the minds of many, the tide is turning. The massacre at a US army base brings home the mess of America's own making. A perverse Heller's Catch-22, with a psychiatrist at the centre of the killings and the insanity of war. What does a sane man do in an insane society?

Army psychiatrist, major Hasan, was heard shouting the Arabic phrase Allahu akbar (God is Great) before killing 13 and wounding 30 at the vast Fort Hood military base. The devout muslim had spoken out against the war and was dreading his posting to Iraq or Afghanistan. The FBI is pouring over internet postings about suicide bombing purporting to come from the shooter.

Did US authorities know if Hasan was in contact with Islamic extremists? No one, it seems had bothered to check or keep tabs on him for fear of accusations of religious persecution. Some are already questioning whether the victims were killed by political correctness.

It can only get worse. Public opinion has turned, with opposition to the war rising sharply. Yesterday's YouGov survey for Channel 4 News showed a massive seventy-three per cent of people wanting troops to be withdrawn.

Today the Telegraph reports the views of families of servicemen killed in the Afghan killing fields. Their message is clear. This is the new Vietnam. We should pull out now.

But as one relative pointed out all too clearly, it takes a politician with guts to order a withdrawal for fear of it being seen as a retreat.

The latest justification for invasion - to train up Afghan police - has been exposed as a myth with the execution of five soldiers by an Afghan 'policeman'.

In Afghanistan money talks, tribal loyalties run deep and corruption is rampant. The 'rogue' policeman fled to the mountains to join his comrades in arms.

The Orange Party has long banged the drum for a complete withdrawal. This was always going to be a bloody, hopeless, unwinnable war.

Yet Brown says "we will not walk away from the Afghan mission". Which of the many mixed "missions" is that? Just who is the "we"?

Not the public. Not relatives of those killed. Not the brave troops who are 'doing a job' because they are professional soldiers. And not politicians who join ex-foreign minister Kim Howells' call to pull out and use some of the cash saved to beef up homeland security. Pragmatic realism chimes with many in the true Labour party.

The "we" is the MoD, the vested interest of a department for international development (DfID) and the Obama administration still stuck in its neocon past.

The stalemate is set to continue while Brown is propped up by a canny Conservative opposition that's keeping its distance and LibDems who cannot decide whether to come off the fence.

Brown's latest throw of the dice came today with a warning to corrupt Karzai to clean up his act. Or else what? A leopard cannot change its spots. None of that cuts any ice with the public. They just want the boys home.

Both Brown and Obama are under pressure from generals to send in more troops. Brown is following Obama's lead. Obama is burying his head in the sand. Both are dithering with crucial elections coming up next year.

A war is being fought which few people have the stomach for or believe there is a cat in hell's chance of winning. The senseless killing of civilians by aerial bombings will continue. As usual it is the innocent who will suffer.

Troops will be picked off by an invisible enemy on over-stretched supply lines and lightly defended forward bases. Civilians will turn on their western masters with suicide attacks. Soldiers will be sent to their deaths to prop up a corrupt regime. Public opinion will harden with nightly images of the boys being brought home in a box.

That was Vietnam - that too is Afghanistan. To pretend otherwise is to betray the brave souls who've paid a high price and given their lives in the Afghan killing fields.

Only a true leader with balls can order a retreat from an insane war without it been seen as defeat.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?

Troughing MPs have got their comeuppance in Kelly's expenses crackdown for greedy MPs. But when the fuss dies down, voters are set to be let down, leaving a stiched-up music hall farce: Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?

The heavily-leaked Kelly review gives the House of Shame a much-needed cleansing of the rotten stench of corruption.

Party leaders have been quick to call for full on support for the Kelly cleanup. But despite the relentless spin, the rotten ball is set to be kicked into touch in the wiggle room, leaving the public none the wiser this side of the election.

The Orange Party had every confidence the recommendations would be welcomed by all and sundry. And every confidence the expenses racket will be buried in a watered down muddle of deceit and self-serving self-interest before anything sees the light of day.

Kelly's 'root and branch' reform would sweep away the gravy train culture only if the package was accepted in full and then voted on in the commons. That would have forced MPs to stand up and be counted. Fat chance.

House leader, 'Big Sis' Harman, has already let MPs off the hook declaring there won't be a vote on the vexed issue. At a stroke, voters are denied a chance to decide who's crooked and who's not. Instead it's down to the unacceptable face of quangoland.

With so many scams it's a wonder Kelly could keep track of them all. Dodgy perks and scandalous homes and tax fiddles put MPs in a class of their own.

Voters have enough dirt to dig out the truth behind the lies and deceit of the self-serving servants of the public.

What is not needed is yet another unelected, unaccountable quango or committee to cherry pick the bits of Kelly that take their fancy.

The 'independent' parliamentary standards authority, IPSA, rushed through in July's parliamentary standards act, shows little sign of living up to its name.

Parliament will play second fiddle to a bunch of faceless bureaucrats and patsies. MPs will be answerable to unelected bureaucrats not the electorate.

IPSA members and commissioner will be approved by a 'speaker’s committee' where ultimately squeaker Bercow calls the shots. Vast power will be handed over to a bunch of political elitists who are not accountable to the electorate. MPs have no role in the selection.

The commons 'speaker's committee' of MPs, made up of the usual suspects, has already picked a quango boss and handed him a whopping £100k a year, to gasps from MPs.

An unelected quango to oversee MPs' expenses tears parliamentary democracy to shreds. How will these guardians be selected? How can voters be sure they will stay corruption-free? Who's to say those with a vested interest won't again turn a blind eye to the scandalous abuse.

Trust in parliament and MPs is at an all-time low. The House of Shame is riddled with expenses cheats who elected a tax-dodger and house flipper as speaker. Setting up another quango in Kelly's wake is not the way to build trust.

In a democracy, the electorate is the best regulator. Voters can see through the lies and deceit and boot out the crooks and spivs if only they were given the chance.

Without an election, parliament and democracy is being reduced to a sinister farce. The sovereignty of parliament is subjugated to an unelected quango. The rotten carcass of MPs' expenses will continue to fester away.

If in doubt, spin it out. Fast forward a few months and taxpayers will be left wondering: Has anybody here seen Kelly? K. E. double L. Y.

Mid picture: Private Eye cover. Music: The late, great Florrie Forde (1875-1940)


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Borrowing Brown's Bottom Of League

Borrowing Brown and Dozy Darling have sunk to the bottom of the charts, with the worst government deficit in the developed world. Another day older and deeper in debt. A damning indictment of a decade of economic failure.

A picture can paint a thousand words but so too a table. The excellent Burning Our Money has dug out an eye-watering chart published by the OECD, showing an estimate of the fiscal deficit members will rack up this year (as a percentage of GDP).

Sure as eggs is eggs, the UK is bottom of the league when it comes to government debt.

The next time Brown's BBC or a deluded prime minister tries it on with the discredited spin that the country is just a helpless victim of a "global downturn", "best placed to weather the economic storm", refer all inquiries to the OECD.

As BOM points out: "The reality is that we are worse placed than anyone else - and that includes basket cases like Ireland and Iceland."

Why is Norway top of the charts? Probably something to do with squirrelling away spare cash for a rainy day in a sovereign wealth fund instead of selling off gold reserves for a pittance.

Eye-watering public debt and a dire economy disappearing down a black hole. The Deluded One is taking the country down the road to rack and ruin. As the Orange Party has wearily said before it's enough to bring tears to your eye - and make your blood boil.

Top picture: jkingone


Monday, November 02, 2009

Carry On Up The Karzai

Corrupt Karzai has 'won' joke Afghan 'elections'. What a carry on. Brave souls have paid a high price to prop up a crooked government, sent to die in Afghan killing fields. What a waste of life.

Bold as brass, deluded Brown had the bare-faced cheek to "congratulate" corrupt Karzai on his re-election "victory". The public must be scratching their heads in disbelief.

The Downing Street spin machine talked up the discredited sham of Afghan 'elections' to dupe voters in an unwinnable war. Embedded reporters were dispatched to prop up the mess. Today it all fell apart.

The first round of the 'vote' was marred by the sickening spectacle of mass electoral fraud. Now election chiefs in the president's pocket have ruled there is no need for a run off, after the other guy pulled out because it wasn't "fair and free."

That leaves Karzai on his lonesome, with the might of the US and UK administrations for comfort and a 'statesman' accolade from Obama's poodle Brown.

But where does that leave Brown's October 20 statement during talk of a second ballot: "It is vital that the new Afghan government has legitimacy in the eyes of its people."

Moves to bring western style democracy to Afghanistan was doomed from start to finish. Outside the tight enclave of central Kabul, the country runs on tribal loyalties, not a US-backed centralised outfit.

The Karzai "victory" however does let a few off the hook, not least dithering Brown and Obama, still pondering over a new troop surge, while the echoes of a new Vietnam ring louder on Capitol Hill.

With unopposed and unelected Karzai top dog, the 'do nothing' option becomes that much more appealing. Both the US and UK could not have planned it better if they tried. It will be all over by Christmas. Fat chance.

'Do nothing' still means the senseless killing of civilians devastated by drone attacks. 'Do nothing' still means troops sent to their deaths to prop up a corrupt regime. 'Do nothing' still means fighting a war which few real people have the stomach for or believe there is a cat in hell's chance of winning.

A war which the Orange Party suspects is being fought here between a weakened, sceptical foreign office on the one hand and an MoD and the powerful ever-growing empire of the department for international development (DFID) on the other.

Once again our troops and voters are left out in the cold and out of the loop.

Pulling out now before it's too late has long been the Orange Party's stand on this hopeless war. Use some cash saved to beef up homeland security.

Couple that with Ashdown's idea of decentralised federalist Afghanistan, based on those deeply entrenched tribal loyalties and a solution to long term stability may just be possible.

But then isn't that why corrupt Karzai blocked the former LibDem leader's move as UN envoy in the first place.

Karzai was declared the "elected president of Afghanistan" by poll officials, reports the BBC, after they scrapped the planned second round of the vote a day after Karzai's sole challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, pulled out of the race.

But the whole point of holding a deciding vote was to try to restore some legitimacy to the mess of an election after the discredited first round. The Karzai carry on throws up once again the legitimacy of his "presidency" and confirms his "government" is nothing more than a corrupt puppet regime.

Meanwhile the public has to suffer daily reports of deaths by numbers, shameful embedded reports from the "front line" and a discredited government relentlessly exposed for penny pinching with every coroners' inquest and official inquiry.

Mid picture: Private Eye cover