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DSS NEWS QEII Conference Centre in London: The proceedings began much as everyone expected with Lord Chilcot giving Blair direct questions about the legality of the war. Blair put up his usual admiral defence rebutting all of Chilcot’s accusations:

Blair: Look, you know Saddam Hussein was a nasty terrible man. He was a threat to the region. He used WMDs on own people….you know, he…. he was not a pretty straight sort of guy.

Chilcot: But the argument you made at the time Mr Blair was that Saddam’s possession of WMDs was the reason for war not only because he was evil.

Blair: Look, President Bush and I both thought that if we did not take him out now he would be just sitting there making WMDs day in and day out. We could not allow this to happen. I mean after threatening to remove Saddam for having WMDs we could not then just sit there. Now…come on lets be honest, we really gave him the impetuous to have WMDs because, you know, we are not going to go removing Dictators that could actually deploy weapons that can, well, cause mass destruction. I mean that would be stupid.

Both the panel of members of the inquiry and Blair went back and forth on the arguments for and against the war in painstaking detail. Neither side was really showing any progress. The tension of the inquiry was lapsing into boredom. Then after 45 minutes Blair appeared to undergo a sudden change:

Blair: Look mistakes were made. That is clear. I mean I really pushed George to get that second resolution to make it OK. He did’nt want to but it was I that convinced him. We really had a strong moral argument for the war. We were the good guys. … Saddam was a really really evil horrible man. He used WMDs on his own people! I had to get rid of him. His time had come. But then everyone kept on talking about the legality of the war. But we could build a democracy could you imagine a democracy!  I know people told me it was risky. But he who dares wins, right? But then we invaded and it went so wrong. I did’nt listen to those that warned me. They told me how this would be a disaster and now thousands of people have lost their lives. And it was supposed to Saddam that was the mass murderer not me! …[Blair looks up and Chilcot] Oh Chilcot what have I done. Is it possible that I was the evil one? Is it really? Am I the criminal? Forgive me! Forgive me! Iraq Britain the world forgive me and George for what we have done! Please please Lord Chilcot arrest me!

Chilcot: Come come none of that now. Seriously Mr Blair please get back in your chair. [Chilcot clears his throat] Well lucky for you Mr Blair this is not a court room just an inquiry. [Again Chilcot clears his throat] So it does not really matter…urm if [Chilcot looks at Blair who now looks as if he is about to cry]… if you are a criminal or not. Tut tut now, theres a good chap, stop crying. Come come, its OK…. Yes Mr Blair, well. Urrm I think a cup of tea for Mr Blair? Someone? Thank you. Ok now. Now come Mr Blair be a good sport. Yes yes SILENCE everyone. I think we can concluded that…. well…I think it is clear that this inquiry has learnt the way decisions were made and actions taken, we have establish as accurately and reliably as possible what happened, and also identified lessons that can be learnt. So bravo everyone. Well indeed, thank you everyone inquiry closed.

The startling scenes left everyone quite bedaffled at the inquiry. Alistar Campbell who was at the back of the gallery lost complete control when Chilcot brought proceedings to a close. He was heard shouting as he was dragged out by police. “You fucking English bastard, you fucking pussy. I knew you were’nt a real fucking Scot. But we got that evil motherfucker and I proud. You here that you fuckers I am really proud! And Blair you fucking morally grey bastard you better learn what I taught you. You have to pick sides in this world. You are with the fucking good guys or the fucking losers.”

After the hearing, Jack Straw issued a press release saying that he had been duped into the whole thing and it was not his idea to begin with anyway. Lord Goldsmith announced that the war did not after all have any sort of legal grounds and he was forced by Mr Blair to say that a war would be legal. Elizabeth Wimshurst stated that she would be running for parliament under the slogan “I told you so”.

Iraqis in Baghdad were shown pulling down statues of Blair in Baghdad square. In the US Barack Obama refused to comment. George Bush stated that this was a war between good and evil. “If Tony thinks he is evil now, well shucks this is confusing. Because when I was with him he was definitely good guy but now he says he is evil and he did evil things like Saddam? Well shame on him. And shame on Saddam. Because you know two evil guys make a good guy.”

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For those of the social democratic persuasion, like me, it will not come as a shock that neo-liberal fundamentalists such as Bush and Co feed off disaster to spread their ideology.

Klein destroys the theory of Milton Freidman’s free market ideology and that the state should be as minimal as possible. Klein exposes how proponents of free market fundamentalism far from extending freedom as they claim. The proponents of totally free markets use extreme measures of oppression to ensure that their privatization schemes and rolling back of social welfare can be implemented. Klein illustrates her theory in country after country starting from Chile and Argentina in South America, and then to Russia, China, South Africa, Sri Lanka…

In the Middle East Klien focuses on Iraq, Lebanon and Israel.

In Iraq Klein notes that it was the Freidmanite economic policies that the Bush regime was pushing through in Iraq that really got the insurgency going. The reduction of the state that included the now famous “de-Baathification” that left 500,000 Iraqis jobless, angry and ready to fight. Further to this, Klein documents how most of the reconstruction work went not to Iraqis or the Iraqi state but to private contractors from the US again leaving hundreds of thousand of Iraqis frustrated and jobless.

In Israel Klein remarks how since the Oslo accord Israel has never been interested in peace but security. This Klein argues is primarily becuase Israel moved from a country that relied on high tech computer technologies in the global economy to security, especially in the world of 9/11.  While a convincing argument Israel did not suddenly come up with the idea of security as the main goal, as opposed to peace, in 1993. If Klein picked up a copy of the Iron Wall by Avi Shlaim she will find that ‘security’ has been Israel driving ideology since its inception, with Ze’ev Jabotinsky and his Revisionist Zionism that has dominated Zionist thinking since Israels inception.

As for Lebanon Klein does not give the country the time it deserves and in fact misunderstands the very nature of the beast. Klein rightfully praises Hezbollah for the efficient way they were able to deliver Iranian funds to their constituents after the July 06 war. But Klein  does not grasp that Hezbollah are the representatives of the Shia in Lebanon. Thus, stating that the Shia population took Hezbollah’s money because if they did not they would be left to the mercy of privatization and Solidere, while not wrong does not really grasp what was and is happening in Lebanon. “If the residents of Lebanon were grateful for the results, it was also becuase they knew the alternative. The alternative was Solidere.”

It must be said that many residents of Lebanon were not ‘grateful for the results’ (mainly the non-Shia) and that Lebanon was left bitterly divided that led to a crisis that is only just beginning to be solved today. There was not a Kenysian vs. Friedman economic debate/war. Instead it was while Bush was in power a confrontation between the US, Israeli and Saudi axis against the Syrian and Iranian one. In short there was to economics than what was going on in Lebanon during and after this period, even if Klein can strongly argue that Israel went to war with Hezbollah for economic reasons.

Iraqi children speak up in Guardian article:

Mahdi Abdullah, 15, building worker

“Six months ago I found a job in building. I get paid $130 (£89) each month. I left my education early, because I had to. My family has no money.

“My dream is for the stability here to continue and for poor people to find jobs and live their lives with dignity. I am not asking for fortune or treasure. All I want are simple dignities. I feel comfortable now because I have a job. I want to get married and provide for myself and a family.

“Basra floats on oil. It has always had a way of keeping the poor people above water. If it falls into honest hands, we can lift Basra further and move to a new stage of our lives here.”

Kuwaiti TowersArriving in Kuwait I am taken on a ‘visit’ of Kuwait which consists of touring the Scientific Center, with Aquarium. Not to be condescending but on walking into the Science Center, which is a very clean glass and steel contemporary building, I am confronted by a, Jaws style, great white shark smashing its way through a concrete wall. In many ways this view captures my preconceptions of Kuwait. As a desert they should be fascinated by water so it should not really come as a sup rise that the first part of “Kuwait” I am shown is the Aquarium. As for the Jaws style great white shark the colonisation of American culture of the Arabian desert city could not be better articulated. The American style highways, with American cars, are lined with American chains such as McDonalnds and 7Eleven. For a country whose Parliament is dominated by Islamists there can be no doubt where the real power lies. The Islamists have however, been able to make sure that Kuwait is T-total. Thus, foreigners are forced with the indignity of having to hold debauched house parties that Kuwaitis can also attend without the inconvenience of getting caught, as in Saudi and Iran.

I was in Kuwait because Al Wataniya a new Kuwaiti airline flew me to Kwuait City from my home in Beirut to review their new airline for Executive Magazine. The trip was probably the quickest trip I will ever experience in my life; leaving on the Saturday and returning the next day in the afternoon. Thus, what I learned about Kuwait was extremly superficial but interesting nonetheless.

Currently Kuwait is experiencing quite a storm internally; Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah recently dissolved parliament on the basis of national unity and called for new elections for May 17th. The Kuwait political system is interesting, for some background see the estimate (a bit outdated but very informative). Kuwait has the oldest elected legislative body in the Gulf and has a thriving parliamentary system that is  elected but subject to the emir’s quite frequent decisions to dissolve parliament. Recently the urge to dissolve parliament has been particularly strong for the Emir as parliament has been dissolved twice in the past year. Kuwait’s current political dead lock has been becuase of the strong Islamist factions, with some liberal and tribal leaders, pushing for Ministers to be called to account over their practices. However, the Ministers have preferred not to be scrutinised and resigned. This led to the Emir dissolving parliament, in part also becuase of the need to inject $5 billion into the economy as a stimulus in this period of low liquidity.

Kuwait also has a thriving media with 17 daily newspapers, the reason for this being every ‘big man’ in Kuwait wanting his own paper. Those in Lebanon will know all to well the Kuwaiti media with one paper Al-Seyassah being particulalry active on Lebanese politics. Al-Seyasseya articulates the strange regional game that occurs in the Middle East with sometimes Lebanese breaking stories of vital importants appearing in the Kuwaiti paper.

Geographically Kuwait is a small country that site vulnerably between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, on the Persian Gulf. Relations with Iraq have always been tense. The Iraqis have historically laid claim to Kuwait as being a part of the Ottoman province of Basra and unjustly severed from Britain from the main body of Iraq in the 1920s. Britain protected from ‘Kuwait’ from Iraqi claims in the 1960s and  then in the Gulf War but of course the superpower of the day the US really protected Kuwaiti sovereignty. The Gulf War is still very much a raw subject in Kuwait and even in my brief stay I saw pictures in the Kuwaiti towers of the destruction wrought on Kuwait with a sign stating how the barbaric Iraqi invaders destroyed everything. Charles Tripp, in his History of Iraq, details how Saddam invaded Kuwait basically becuase he wanted to extort money from the vastly wealthy Gulf country to help with the vast Iraqi debt that he was pilling up. When Kuwait was not really willing to had over the money he decided to invade on the 2 August 1990 and completed the occuption in 24 hours. The ruler of Kuwait Emir al-Sabah left with 300,000 other Kuwaitis and Saddam announced Kuwait as the 19th province of Iraq. This of course as we all know was not to last and Saddam did not find a “supine Arab world or an acquiescent international community,” as Tripp states he expected. It was the Gulf war that caused the US to station half a million American troops in Saudi and this led to the rise of Bin Laden and Sept. 11. Coming from Lebanon that has such a pivitol role in the history of the region, Kuwait shows how another tiny state has formed the history of the contemporary Middle East and shaped Western-Middle Eastern relations.