The Great Communicator…

…revealed even he makes a slip when questioned about his interview with Fern Britton (click here to listen) at the Chilcot enquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war. Make your mind up about Tony Blair’s appearance… professional and polished, or slippery and evasive? But he did pose a very good question… what would the world be like in 2010 if he had not taken action?

History has demonstrated that appeasement doesn’t work with tyrants. The most infamous example was when Hitler demanded that a large part of Czechoslovakia be handed over to Germany, prompting Neville Chamberlain to press Britain’s ally to cede territory to their hostile neighbour. Chamberlain returned from negotiations claiming ‘Peace for our time’… having just agreed with France, Italy and Germany that there would be no intervention if Hitler invaded the Sudetenland. Of course it would have been inconvenient had Czechoslovakia been present at those discussions… they may have objected to an agreement they should give up their own land! Even on the eve of war Chamberlain tried to persuade Poland to give up part of their territory to Germany.

So it is a very good question… if no action had been taken in 2003 would the world be a worse place now? Personally I don’t think so… the monster that was Saddam Hussein was created with the support of the Arab states, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Europe… they financed and supported his war with Iran in the early 1980s resulting in half a million deaths. Iraq made extensive use of mustard gas with the knowledge of the United States, who gave additional support such as intelligence and equipment. Small wonder Iran today does not appreciate being lectured about nuclear weapons by the United States.

The subsequent invasion of Kuwait was driven amongst other things by Iraq’s £20billion debt to that country. Saddam Hussein would no doubt have gone on subjugating his people, no different from many other examples where the world takes no action, but he was created as an invader rather than having the aspirations.

What’s certain is the process to agree that the UK should go to war was seriously flawed. Taking the advice of special advisors, who’s independence has to be questioned when they were appointed by Blair, and neutering the Cabinet (who it could equally be argued had a vested interest in keeping their jobs), it seems the true and traditional independents of the Civil Service were ignored. It does appear Parliament was misled, when it had a right to believe due process had been followed and facts it based its judgements on were robust.

A good example of the paucity of backbone within the Cabinet was shown when Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary at the time, admitted that, with unequivocal advice ringing in his ears from his legal experts that the war was illegal and with grave doubts about going to war, he recognised that if he did not give support the war would not go ahead… but didn’t say a thing. Oh, and he never considered resigning!

All of which makes the weekly battle at Allotment Heaven pale into insignificance. But fight on I will! Been making very slow progress with the digging due to heavy frost. On the bright side there were three eggs waiting for me on Monday… the feathered fiends are responding to longer daylight and occasional milder weather.

The severe cold in January seems to have brought a number of birds not commonly seen hereabouts… redwing, fieldfare and  tufted duck, along with close up views of more common residents of the Ouse such as cormorant, crested grebe and jay.

Got all excited about starting seeds on the study window ledge in covered trays… imagined getting a really early start for my tomatoes. But reality soon set in. Yes, tomatoes can be started in January, but they need plenty of light to stop them getting leggy. So I’ve decided there’s no desperate rush for a week or so.

Made a good start on the February squash competition with a 3-1 win against son David. Need to win this month since, having narrowly lost January, if this month goes down the tubes I’ll have lost the quarter… I know, it sounds complicated but running the year’s competition on quarters is the only way I can make sure I’m still in with a chance right up to October. Pool and darts have gone in David’s favour with a 10, 7, 7 win against me and John, with John having won January. Avoided making quite so many brain numbing mistakes at pool for a change. Can’t wait for the wether to improve and pitch and putt to start.

Daughter Beth has made a good start at the Call Centre. Seems to be enjoying the job, and luckily the kids love the occasional visit to the kids club after school. Beth has a reputation within the family for sending things flying. Curtain rails have been known to fly off the wall, sliding doors to jump off their runners whenever Beth is in the vicinity. She doesn’t do things by half. So when a cup of coffee went flying off a desk at work I didn’t need to turn round to find out who the culprit was.


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