I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Me in 2004: “But that’s what he deserves: to fall from grace, spectacularly, hugely, humiliatingly, with all his self-delusions laid bare.”

We knew all this years ago of course. Again, me in 2004:

how come no-one has pointed out the most damning fact to come to light in the whole Hutton inquiry, namely this: Downing Street sought to make the dossier as strong as possible in order to garner support for the war. The only conclusion one can reach from this is that they had already decided to go to war on grounds other than WMDs. If they already had enough evidence of WMDs to go to war, they would not have needed to strengthen the dossier.

My rage against Tony Blair burns white-hot as always and the Chilcot report gives me hope: not that he will answer to his crimes (oh how I wish) but that the way the world talks about Blair will finally change. Because despite everything, he has been treated with something like reverence by media and political elites ever since he stepped away from the role of PM.

Maybe this is what it takes, then, to convince the powerful and mighty and wise that they were obviously foolish all along: seven years of careful work producing millions of considered words. How long, one wonders, would the report need to be for the courtiers to accept the Emperor really did have no clothes?

Me, right after the Glasgow march against the war in February 2003:

The ball, I feel, is in Tony Blair’s court – and there is every sign he is unmoved by the display of doubt in the drive to war. This will have immense political consequences, and soon.


World Avoidance

Having a baby in the house is endlessly involving, and it’s a convenient excuse not to think about (and blog about) all the nonsense out there.

Like the NZ government announcing it’s gonna sell off big chunks of state assets that make reliable income for the state, simultaneously throwing away future money for a mere handful now, and pushing national infrastructure towards an unprotected environment.

Like the UK discovering that Clegg’s choice (of the shark’s eyes monster) has proved more destructive to the nation than anyone could have dreamed, as he and the Lib Dems enable an eager dismantling of the public infrastructure.

Like the US descent into broken politics continuing at rapid pace as the response to horrific politically-rationalised violence has been even more incitement to violence by political voices.

Like the fact that increased environmental disruptions are costing the world huge sums, and global warming predicted this and predicts even more to come, but climate change response is off the agenda completely after the embarrassment that was Copenhagen.

So I’m not going to think about any of that stuff. I choose to live in a bubble a little bit longer. I’ll play The Game with myself, and hopefully I won’t lose too often. My tiny little girl giving smiles? That’s all the reality I want to think about right now.

Wikileaks: No thoughts

Jon wondered why I hadn’t commented on the new Wikileaks “cablegate” affair. A fair question, especially given the last Wikileaks thing turned this blog into a genuine internet sensation (for about 3 seconds) (and not due to any editorial effort on my part, I literally just cut and pasted from their twitter feed, go figure).

Answer is: I don’t know what to make of it. This is clearly a more complex action than previous Wikileaks releases. My instinctive feeling is that this is a good thing as a one-off targeted at a country that rationalises itself as a global policeman, but in general this is a dangerous precedent. Diplomacy needs to function out of public view, and losing that assurance of discretion is certain to have a limiting effect on positive as well as negative efforts.

But I find it hard to feel bad about this if it puts the UK govt’s handling of Iraq in the pooh. My fury over that whole affair remains undimmed, seven years on.

So ultimately – I don’t know what to say. I’ll wait to see how things shake out. Assange is clearly a tosser, and yes he may be a sex criminal too but that doesn’t mean he’s not doing good work.

Jon’s own post on the matter is well worth a read – a good summary I think.

Making Light do some good coverage of the issues, particularly the response of the US media.

Glenn Greenwald has been getting a lot of attention for this firebreathing attack on the US media coverage of Wikileaks and what it says about the state of the fourth estate in the USA.

But the most interesting thing I’ve read yet is this article that looks at Assange/Wikileaks’ motives. Short version: Assange’s stated view is that authoritarianism must inevitably rely on a conspiratorial approach. The contradictions between authoritarianism and conspiracy provide a vulnerability that can be exploited by wikileaks. So the point of the cablegate affair is not the cables themselves, but the response they force in the US government.

All these articles give me some interesting starting points but I don’t feel I’m anywhere near understanding the depth of what this affair means. Too complex, too soon, too something. I dunno. Opinions & interpretations welcome.

Bloody Sunday

Back in ’04 we went to Derry. (That’s my photo above.) Met with far-uncle Hugh, who lives there still and sent a lovely gift for our wedding. Hugh’s father (my great-grandmother’s brother) was in the Easter Rising; I’d known this, but talking with Hugh, and wandering around Derry, gave it some more context; getting a better sense of the hard road Ireland has been down this last century.

We visited the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre, and stopped in at an information centre, a spartan and simple hall with lots of material crammed inside. They obviously didn’t have much money. What they wanted was justice; what that would imply varied depending on whoever you spoke to, but what everyone agreed on was an acknowledgement by Westminster of the wrongs that were committed, and an apology for them. The Saville Inquiry was long underway (and indeed we wandered through the Guildhall where it was held) but there was little confidence that it would deliver what was hoped. They carried on nonetheless, hoping for a peaceful future for Derry. (I can’t recall for sure, but my memory tells me that the centre had volunteers from both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide, people who want to move beyond the divisions of Republican and Unionist.)

Yesterday the Saville Inquiry’s report was released, and Westminster – in the person of British PM David Cameron acknowledged the wrongs that were committed, and issued an apology. It was an unequivocal acceptance of horrific wrongdoing and unwarranted state violence against innocent people.

My friend natural20 is my lightning rod for Irish politics – he always has something useful to say about what’s happening there. Over on his journal, he and his commenters express amazement and approval. Says one: “Never thought I’d see the day.”

It’s a great day. Ireland’s Troubles were brutal and real and founded in layers of historical injustice, exacerbated by contemporary violence and confounded by self-interested politics. Ireland has slowly been unwinding the barbed wire of history from around itself, moving cautiously towards peace. This is a major symbolic advance. This is a milestone in a wider and longer process, and while we haven’t heard the last of Bloody Sunday, the conversation around it will now have changed irrevocably, and for the better.

It’s a great day because of what it demonstrates. The Troubles in Ireland echo the problems in many other parts of the world. What we’re seeing, grindingly slowly but genuinely, is proof that these problems can be resolved. Perhaps the grinding slowness is inevitable; perhaps every day of atrocity requires a decade’s hard work to unpick; but the fact remains that Saville’s report, Cameron’s words, and the new mood in Ireland show change can happen.

It’s the best news I’ve heard all year.

(The Bloody Sunday information centre has, if I’ve followed the information trail correctly, developed into the Museum of Free Derry.)

Clegg’s Choice as Fighting Fantasy

House of Hell cover

Finally! After so many battles you have reached the final chamber. Here, your quest will end. Wiping off the last of the Bloodbeast’s ichor from your tunic, you climb the stairs and open the door.

Inside there are two foul monsters. They are both grossly obese, and stand glaring at each other. Between them is a comfortable settee, and they clearly both wish to sit down in it, but they are too large to share.

“Ah!” cry the monsters in unison. “You are here, puny human. Now, you must choose. Which of us will you join on the settee?”

The first monster, stinking and covered with scuttling vermin, grins to show unbrushed teeth. “If you choose me, I’ll roll all over you until you’re good and filthy, and then I’ll gnaw on you a bit, and then I’ll crush you underneath me until you almost drown in my juices.”

“But I’ll also order that a new settee be made, and once it is ready, you’ll have your own place to sit ever after.”

The second monster, with lifeless shark’s eyes and rows of thin teeth, spread its arms. “If you choose me, I’ll shuffle over to give you as much room on the settee as possible. Not only that, I’ll let you use the remote control at least once a day.”

“Of course, next week I’ll bite your head off and swallow it whole.”

Your entire adventure comes down to this fateful choice! What will you do?

If you attack the stinking monster, turn to 275
If you attack the shark’s eyes monster, turn to 360