Friday, February 09, 2007

Time to wake up and back war on terror...this is for real

Cynics quick to rubbish reports of a plot to behead a British Muslim soldier may be interested to hear that five of the men arrested in Birmingham earlier this week appeared in court today charged with terrorism offences.

One of them has been specifically charged with:
engaging in conduct to give effect to his intention to kidnap and kill a member of the British Armed Forces between 1 November 2006 and 31 January 2007.
The five each face two charges brought under the Terrorism Act 2006 and the Terrorism Act 2000 including supplying equipment and funding for a terrorist act between 30 March last year and 31 January.

Meanwhile, I've checked the tape of Ken Clarke's comments on Question Time last night.

He alleged that stories about the plot to behead a British Muslim soldier were 'politically motivated' by the Home Office to support their case to be allowed to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days.

Definitely irresponsible remarks, particularly from a former Home Secretary who I previously had some regard for and someone who should know better than to attempt to score cheap political points from such a serious event.

The media - particularly the BBC - also have some explaining to do. Over the past 24 hours, they have been giving apparently unlimited airtime to crazy claims from one of the arrested men who has been released without charge that the UK is now a police state.

In an intelligence-led investigation, having a few innocents locked up for a day or two and then released is a small price to pay for the freedom of the many.


Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope that Ken Clarke can support his statement. Anyway, I thought the Home Office had decided not to pursue the 90 day detention? I also find it very strange that the Department responsible for security and law and order would deliberately leak information for political purposes. The same department would not want to have community unrest. Like you, I have always been rather fond of Ken Clarke although disappointed in a few media performances over recent years - too much bluster.

I listened and read the claims from one of the arrested men (the one who works in a bookshop) about this country being a police state in terms of Moslem citizens. A totally unbalanced report by the BBC. They failed to challenge this assertion and one wonders about the calibre of reporters on the 24 hour news channels. They are always aggressive when interviewing politicans but treat those from minority communities with "kid gloves". They also failed to disclose other information about the released man. It appears that the bookshop where he worked was known to the security service, the man was studying Islam at the local university etc. Interesting view of a police state when he had a lawyer paid for by the State (a lawyer based in London whose fees will be higher) and of course he was released without charge.

I do accept that one is entitled to feel angry if held in custody and then released without charge. However, there must have been sufficient information to arrest the individual. Further, the police have a most difficult job in dealing with such incidents and have to balance the needs of individual suspects with the wider communities demand to live without fear of terrorist attacks.

Anonymous said...

Er Liz...they didn't drop it, they lost the vote in the Commons. You don't believe the Home Office would ever leak information? Really? Surely this is irony.

Anonymous said...

What is the war on terror, so-called?

A misleading and confusing phrase if ever there was one.

If it means attacking Iraq, I'm against.

If it means attacking Iran, I'm against.

If it means thought-through domestic security measures within the rule of law and constantly debated by an informed public, then I'm strongly in favour.

Anonymous said...

Brynley - could circumstances ever exist where it would be necessary to take pre-emptive military action to defend the nation? Are you morally imposed to it in all cases?

I accept your opposition to the action against Iran is largely based on your misconception that they have no aggressive intent. But even if you accepted they DID, would you support ANY action even then?

Anonymous said...

Invading Iraq, boming Iran.

This makes us less safe.

Imagine. You are a citizen of Iran.
You have just voted in the local elections against your posturing president. Like millions of patriotic Iranians, you harbour no expanionist aims (when was the last time Iran invaded anyone?), but you also mistrust the clerical hardliners in your government.

What would be the effect of bombing Iran?

People will close ranks as they would in any country.

The hardliners will be strengthened.

There is not the remotest possibility of defeating Iran militarily, so what is it you hope to achieve, Michael, for all that human misery?

Anonymous said...

Most people said the same about Iraq and Afghanistan. We had stories about some sort of invincible Republican Guard, and we were treated to stories of how the Afghans thwarted the British in the 19th Century. Both of these regimes were blown away, and our nations triumphed. American military power is irresistable.

I disagree with your reading of Iranian politics. I have no doubt that most ordinary people in Iran, as everywhere, have no interest in High Politics. But the actions of their representatives ARE expansionalist. They have provided no plausible reason for their desire to go nuclear. There are a few options here. Most preferable would be for the Iranian people to remove these leaders. Unlikely I fear. The other is for these same leaders to fully realise the power of America, and how firm they are in their views. Again I doubt this will happen. The third option is the least desired. Military action against Iran. The consequences for the Iranian people would be horrific(every war always has been, and always will be - but wishing it away by inaction will only serve to make suffering worse). But we would win, and win quickly. Though this option is the least desirable of the three, it is infinitely preferable to watching Iran arm itself with weapons and missiles that would threaten our security and allow them to dictate to states in the region. Though I have no doubt of your honorable intentions, this disasterous outcome would be the logical conclusion of the argument you advance. In any case, if America doesn't act, Israel will. The leader of the Iranian state has said he would prefer their destruction. You hardly expect them to sit back and watch him arm himself to the teeth?

Whilst trying to stay constructive, I note you haven't answered my questions above. Would you EVER support pre-emptive force?

Anonymous said...

Michael, you say that we have triumphed in Iraq and also in Afghanistan?

Are you sure about that?

Iraq is a thumping defeat.

Southern Afghanistan looks like a losing battle, but is not altogether lost.

I'm still curious to know what would constitute a 'win' against Iran. The battle would destroy the world economy and further destablise the Middle East and South-West Asia. Is that a 'win'?

I don't think so.

When you get on to Iran, you seem to have got the United States and ourselves rolled into one.

Whatever they get up to, it is most unlikely that we would join in for all kinds of excellent political and practical reasons.

Oh, since you ask, is pre-emption ever right?

I tend to follow international law in this matter.

Anonymous said...

No the military operation in Iraq was a success. The post-operation imposition of democracy has been a failure so far. This is sad, but hardly unexpected. I would not have attempted to impose such a westernised system. My primary desire was to remove Iraq as a threat to our nations. This has been achieved. I would not be too bothered about fighting a different war there. Most suspects are well known. Go into their areas, find them and shoot them. Problem solved. Too much fuss over "human rights" has prevented the military men doing their job.

The thing to be destroyed in a war with Iran would be Iran. Our victory would be crushing and quick. In mineral resources, Iran is a very rich country. I think it would be fair that their people shared the costs of fighting a war to make the world a safer place(considering Iran is the cause of this strife in the first place). I don't think it would destabilise anything. The Middle East without the Iranian leadership, and the ideas they represent, will be a better place. I think it would allow the US to press its objectives more effectively in the region.

I do group Britain with the US in foreign policy. The idea of Britain having an independent foreign policy from the US is not realistic. Alas, Europe shares none of the US's honorable objectives, and Britain is too weak to consider an independent course. So when I say "we", I refer to the US/UK line. Our unity makes me happy. I think you will be disappointed if you expect anything else.

Your answer remains unclear, when "yes" or "no" would suffice. I am unaware of what you mean by "international law"(there is no such thing). What binds any nation to such a thing? I have never voted for "international law", and refuse to be bound by it. Mr Bush and the US feel likewise. The nations of the world will act as they have always done. The strongest will impose an order on the weakest. Your notion of this non-exist law may be at variance with others' notions. Better to answer a simple question.

Now Brynley, I have been patient. I think you understand the question very well. It's important for everyone to know and understand. Does your particular branch of the "anti-war in Iran" brigade oppose this war because of a binding principal, or do you just think Iran is not a threat? Would you EVER support pre-emptive use of military force in ANY circumstances. It's very simple, and yet important: YES or NO?

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether this has occurred to you, Michael, but the reason that the public in this country are rejecting the American leadership currently on offer is because of a widespread suspicion that the views you hold - destroying Iran, and so on - are the ones we are being invited to endorse.

Your daydream about a quick and crushing victory against Iran is not something that is shared by the American military, nor indeed by any serious commentator.

Would it be anything like the quick and crushing victory against the much less powerful Iraq, I wonder?

Your proposed war of agression against Iran seems to lack a clear strategic objective and any sense of what follows. Do you think the Persians would fight back? I would bet on it. They have a very substantial range of interests, allies and options to choose from.

Still, look on the bright side. You believe in Social Darwinism to replace International Law, so you've no need to trouble looking for a pretext for your Dr. Strangelove urgings.

Anonymous said...

Still no answer? Forget it. Your unwillingness to answer tells its own tale. I think most people realise that the whole anti-war war brigade would oppose pre-emptive force in ALL circumstances. Even if this meant watching a nation assemble the weapons to destroy us, you lot would stand by and watch, with self-righteous smugness before your destruction. Fine. But such stupidity deserves to be and will be ignored by decision makers.

fairdealphil said...

Brynley asks what is war on terror - and provokes Michael to ask can a pre-emptive strike ever be justified...?

hopefully, war on terror is to find ways to a more peaceful world by stopping the extremists
launching another 9/11, another 7/7 or another 21/7.

Whether or not we believe - as some undoubtedly do - that the reported plot to behead a British Muslim soldier is New Labour spin - let's not forget that democracy is under constant attack.

I do believe that war can be justified in some circumstances.

Soviet doctrine defined war as diplomacy by another means, which may be an over-aggresive starting point, but I do believe so called "pre-emptive" strikes can be justified as an alternative to appeasement where there is a threat to peace and where conventional diplomacy fails.

Anonymous said...

Pre-emptive force? Clearly, to be lawful, you would have to demonstrate that you were in grave peril and acted purely in self-defence.

The Iranians might be in this position first according to Michael's scenario.

As warmongers go, Michael is not perhaps too convincing, but he does succeed in making the U.S. Democrats look exceedingly attractive, moreso than they probably deserve on their merits.

Anonymous said...

Lawful? Whose law is this pray tell Brynley? Where is this court, and who is the judge? And who gave this person the right to be the judge?

Your position is very clear and indeed principled. But hopelessly naive.

Anonymous said...

Read your latest post. A radicalised religious extremist would not need to amend a single word. It's their speech.

If I understand you correctly, you plan to bring the blessings visited upon Iraq to Iran as well, but without any ground troops, just by raining terror from the skies.

This would produce a regional catastrophe at a minimum, a destabilising worldwide surge of hatred towards America and an oil crisis not seen since the 1970s.

To what end?

For what purpose?

Anonymous said...

For me, prtecting Israel is very important. I also believe Iran to be a threat to our existence. I disagree with you about the difficulty of the war. The same people made the same arguments about Afghanistan and Iraq. We won those wars in less than a month.

Now I always answer your questions. Why do you need to be asked three times to answer mine. As above. Whose law?(etc)

You should be a politician Brynley, and that isn't a compliment.

Anonymous said...

"i believe Iran to be a threat to our existence"

You are going to abolish Iran? Or make it a colony? Or what?

Planet Earth beckons should you ever wish to rejoin us.

Anonymous said...

It's called regime change.

I think my opinions very much reflect the opinion of the US Government. And few other opinions actually matter.

Iran will either obey the US or be taught a lesson. And it won't matter a bit what your imaginary international law says it about it.

Anonymous said...

Michael, forgive me if I have got this wrong, but I thought that the people were sovereign in the United States of America. The revolution against the crown, the founding fathers, the superb Declaration of Independence, the written constitution, the checks and balances against despotism, the rule of law, the rights of the individual. Not much there about enslaving other nations. Believe me, we in Britain have tried Empire and with mixed outcomes. We're pleased to have put that behind us.

Your project is morally wrong, politically counterproductive, of course, but do not let that distract you from how impractical it is.

You have no plan for Iran after the bombing.

So like Iraq.

Only bigger.

The Persians can fight back.

Anonymous said...

The President will continue to represent the US people as he has been (twice) elected to do. I am very pleased with the job he has done.

And no doubt the Persians will have your support. But they WILL lose. Like Saddam, and like the Taliban. What are you going to do then?

Go on, give us a laugh Brynley, tell us about "international law"...

Anonymous said...

I see.

Triumph of the will, and all that.

fairdealphil said...

michael says:

'The President will continue to represent the US people as he has been (twice) elected to do.'

Even that's at least debatable.

Anonymous said...

Well ANYTHING is debatable Phil(Bush got 49%, Bliar got 36%). But the Supreme Court had their say(and the American people had their chance to decide again in 2004). Real law that, Brynley. Or do the left only accept court judgements in their favour?

fairdealphil said...


that's rich indeed, coming from the guy who refuses to accept the judgement of the Lord Chief Justice who acquited Fiona Jones.

Anonymous said...

Phil - you must realise that British judges have a long and distinguished history of being completely and utterly barking mad. Our court system is a joke. Their's isn't.

Anonymous said...

You're not a British judge by any chance, Michael?