Archive for the ‘Kosovo’ Category

The “whack-doodles” who want Tony Blair Sacked, Harangued, Hagued, Hanged…

June 27, 2014

27th June, 2014

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It must be almost seven years since I started pointing out to #twitternumptyland‘s misfits that Tony Blair is not and never has been the “Middle East Peace Envoy”. He is the Representative of the Quartet’s Envoys.

UN announcement, 27th June 2007:

To this end, Mr. Blair, who also stepped down as Prime Minister today, has been named Representative, a position in which he will “bring continuity and intensity of focus to the work of the Quartet in support of the Palestinians, within the broader framework of the Quartet’s efforts to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Roadmap.”

His duties will include mobilizing international assistance to the Palestinians and working closely with donors and others, as well as helping to identify and securing support in addressing the Palestinian state’s institutional governance needs.

In his new role, Mr. Blair – who be supported in his efforts by a small expert team based in Jerusalem – will also develop plans to promote Palestinian economic development and will communicate with other countries in support of agreed Quartet objectives.

He will “spend significant time in the region working with the parties and others to help create viable and lasting government institutions representing all Palestinians, a robust economy, and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people,” the Quartet said.

For those who don’t recall or care that was the same day Mr Blair ceased to be Prime Minister. Seven years on much of the British media (and those on twitter who don’t research fully) still refer to him as “the Middle East peace envoy”. I suggest the stickiness of that misnomer has more to do with wishing him to fail and thus being in a position to say such failure was because he was ill-suited to “peace-making” in the first place.

I realise that being the Representative of the Quartet’s Envoys compared with being the Quartet’s envoy is a fine distinction for some. Of the order of comparison that being an accused prisoner is similar to being an accused prisoner’s legal representative. No?

In fact the constant muddling of these roles is central if you are ever tempted to RT or just copy automaton-like a “Sack Blair” or “Blair to the Hague” tweet.

Before I continue to irritate, I have to thank Mark Lott for the “whack-doodles” title. It applies neatly to such as Noam Chomsky, George Galloway, Ken Livingstone, George Monbiot, Clare Short, Tom Watson and Russell Brand.

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Even ‘The Brains’ Have Lost It

“Whack-doodles” also applies to people with quite a few brain cells, such as Stephen Fry, Sir Richard Dalton and former diplomat Oliver Miles.

Oliver Miles, if little else, sets the record straight in his video pour encourager les autres. A pity they didn’t change the title of the video too, as Mr Blair is an ineligible candidate for carting off to The Hague (for reasons kindly expanded on by Miles at the end of the video.)

Worth remembering: On 22 November 2009, Miles published an article in the Independent on Sunday, in which he partly questioned the appointment of two British historians to the Iraq inquiry panel because of their Jewish background and previous support for Israel. Oliver Miles has further form on criticising Blair and British foreign policy (2004 letter)

Of course we all realise that all of this Sack Blair business is going nowhere and is of no consequence. The haters are playing a game. They play like spoilt brats, in denial over anything Tony Blair does, did, didn’t do, might have done, could have done or should have done. Good or bad, they deny him any coherence of thought or integrity of strategic purpose. They suffer from a disease. Like a patient in an asylum they accuse the nurse of having their sickness.

So if Blair is not “bad” (via the unutterably bad George Galloway), he is “mad” (according to the slightly bonkers Boris Johnson); or at least “sad” (according to David Owen, the disappointed never was leader of the Labour party). And to add insult to injury, the former PM is now rich, which is the worst thing EVER for some of the left righteous.

Forget anything Blair ever did that was of any value for mankind. Forget that boys in Kosovo are named after him after he saved Kosovars from ethnic cleansing by Milosevic. Forget Sierra Leoneans love him after he stopped Liberia’s Charles Taylor’s limb-choppers (Taylor was sentenced to 50 years). Forget that Iraqi Kurds look up to him as a hero for removing Saddam. Forget the minimum wage, the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, devolution for Scotland & Wales,  equal rights. Blair did something the whack-doodles disagree with, so he is clearly material for their life-consuming revulsion.

Sacked, Harangued, Hagued and even Hanged

  • The call to “sack Blair” (disregarding the impossibility of sacking anyone from a job they don’t hold) I get.
  • The determination to pursue him to the end of his days I utterly detest, but it is par for the course for such as Monbiot and Galloway. So I get that too.
  • The invocation of an appearance at The Hague is no more than an eye-catching dream for haters. Thus I get that too.
  • But every time I see a violence-hating peace-lover say “hang Blair” I am repulsed. I see that far too often online and I blame those who say “he will never answer for his crimes”. If that’s the case, what to do, hmm? Incitement is a crime and such as Monbiot & Galloway should be up in court for it.  Jonathan Meades – whose “historical novel” would be The Trial and Execution of Tony Blair – normalises the unthinkable.

These recent articles are worth a read if you don’t think Blair should be Sacked, Harangued, Hagued or Hanged

Lord Campbell-Savours – Back-stabbing of Blair is vomit-inducing

“The idea that most of us supported intervention on the single justification of WMD is nonsense. Our concerns went far wider”

Robbie Travers – Intervening in Iraq was still the right thing to do

“Let’s be quite clear for the various Saddam nostalgists, fetishists, apologists and amorists: Saddam was far from just the leader of a totalitarian state, he was a genocidal megalomaniac who threatened to destabilise the security of the entire Middle East and was holding the world to ransom.”

John O’Sullivan – No, Tony Blair and the West Aren’t To Blame For Violence in the Muslim World

“But Blair is such a polarizing figure that whatever he says, half of the country will assert the opposite. In addition there is in Britain, as in much of the Western world, a masochistic appetite for self-blame and self-condemnation. For these two reasons it strikes many people as outrageous for Blair to claim that he is not responsible for Boko Haram’s kidnapping of schoolgirls or the murders of prisoners committed by ISIS.”

Tony Blair Launches Two Major Programmes In Kosovo

June 18, 2012

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19th June 2012

Blair: “It means a lot to me for my Foundation to have this partnership with the American University of Kosovo and the University of Pristina. But it means more to me on a personal level; I saw first-hand what happened here and I did what I could with others to make things better.”

Remember what Tony Blair did in Kosovo? Related links at foot of this post, if you don’t.

Tony Blair launches two major programmes in Kosovo

Rt Hon. Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister and Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation today launched two major new programmes as part of his Faith Foundation’s work.

He celebrated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Kosovo and his Foundation which will implement the Foundation’s global schools programme Face to Faith in Kosovan schools and be incorporated into the development of the national curriculum.  The programme will provide a transformative experience for Kosovan students to be affiliated globally, without overlooking their national aspirations, and help Kosovan students and teachers to develop deeper dialogue and negotiation skills.

Tony Blair also inaugurated the partnership between the his Foundation’s global network of leading universities, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative (FGI) and two of Kosovo’s prominent universities, the University of Pristina and the American University of Kosovo. The partnership will help current policy makers and future leaders understand the role religion plays in areas where there are, or have been, both political and religious tensions. In Kosovo, and the wider region, the impact of the globalisation is affecting the country and its faith communities at an ever faster pace – and it is crucial to understand it.

Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation said:

Kosovo is a country with challenges but it is going places. You are open to the future and open to new ideas. It is an honour and privilege to be here today. It means a lot to me for my Foundation to have this partnership with the American University of Kosovo and the University of Pristina. But it means more to me on a personal level; I saw first-hand what happened here and I did what I could with others to make things better. What this country has to learn is significant but what others can learn from you is more significant. I believe there is a way to have intense pride in your nation whilst at the same time having an open mind to the rest of the world.

In this era of globalisation, societies are changing, Europe is changing.  Don’t be frightened of change instead see it as an opportunity. This coming together of different religions and cultures can enrich a country and be a source of strength. But the forces it can also lead to conflict and fear which we have witnessed in the past. If people have problems in dialogue then we need to learn how to resolve this. This is what my Faith Foundation’s universities network, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative aims to achieve in this region: examine the role of faith in more depth. In Kosovo, and the wider region, the impact of the globalisation is affecting the country and its faith communities in transformative ways– and it is vital to understand and hear those perspectives.  The University of Pristina and the American University of Kosovo will provide those valuable insights.

Most of the conflicts in the world today have a religious dimension. The purpose of interfaith is not to diminish specific faiths but to gain understanding. The more you understand someone the more likely you are to live in harmony with them. People of a faith need to take responsibility for religion; preventing it from being misused as a weapon of destruction. Harmony between faiths works better than conflict.

The Kosovan Government’s commitment to incorporate our schools’ programme Face to Faith in the development of the national curriculum, shows how seriously they take the advancement of the next generation – and I am excited about its future.”

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RELATED

Blair: Balkans – work in progress…

Excerpt: Kosovo is going in good direction, said today in Pristina the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Pristina: “Kosovo over the last decade has seen significant progress. Yes it is clear. But there is also a lot to do”, stressed at today’s press conference held in Pristina former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

EARLIER RELATED POSTS AT THIS BLOG

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Nick Cohen – Do get out of the right side of the bed tomorrow

May 27, 2012

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27th May 2012

To paraphrase:

“His [Cohen’s] love of money his own opinion has brought down the worst fate that could have befallen him. He now has the manners and morals of his opponents”

With a flourish of moral rectitude that would do Polly Toynbee or Richard Norton-Taylor proud, the inestimable Nick Cohen announced to a Leveson-awaiting world that  “Tony Blair’s moral decline and fall is now complete”

“now complete”? Whereas before now it was incomplete? Semi-complete? Half-way there? Why hasn’t Mr Cohen mentioned this decline and fall state of lack of grace before? Why now? Straw that broke the camel’s back? Though the story broke weeks ago?

You might say that comment is unremarkable. True, if it had come from any one of a number of Guardian/Observer journalists. But from Nick Cohen!? Cohen who invariably defends Blair’s foreign policy stances? Cohen, who like Blair recognises there is a serious and long-term threat from fundamentalist Islamism? Cohen, who seems to rail against Old Labour-leftism as much as the average Blairite?

The very same Nick Cohen.

FINISHED AS A FORCE FOR GOOD IN POLITICAL JOURNALISM?

Until today I had a lot of time for Nick Cohen. He had slipped into the garb of the late, much-lamented Christopher Hitchens almost imperceptibly.  Now he seems to have decided the skin of the other brother fits him to a “t”.

The sub-heading to his article is that ‘Tony Blair’s willingness to prop up the brutal Kazakhstan regime shames the one-time champion of democracy’

“…shames the one-time champion…” indeed? These few words raise two questions:

1. Why “shames”? Because there may well be some financial reward in it?  I am forever reminded that democracy and the freedom to express opinions in a democracy do not come free. Yet we moan when we are asked to pay 50p per year for it. I am also frequently reminded that we underestimate the value of our democracies. Yet most non-democracies REALLY know how to keep their people in fear and poverty. And I am now reminded, thanks to Cohen, that unless democracy is seen as always free and forever free, democracy itself is seen to have no intrinsic value. In fact if money is attached in ANY way it is evidently valueless. Tell that to American presidential candidates. Each and every multi-millionaire of them.

2. Why “the one-time champion”? Tony Blair is working with several nascent democracies in African countries towards greater, better governance.  And he is bringing together peoples of different religious faith in the high ambition of better understanding and developing more open (democratic) principles to how they live their religious lives and how they view and treat others.

Despite the mentions of the good stuff, Cohen’s traducement is clear and single-minded. As an experienced journalist he should know that –

TEN GOOD THOUGHTS DO NOT OUTWEIGH ONE BAD ONE

Although his article does remind us of the good that Tony Blair did in many lands the reader is left with only ONE impression: whatever good Blair ever did he is now only in the business of making dosh, and lots of it, from wherever and from whomsoever it is offered.  Perhaps, some might say and some might even be right, it was always thus. Moral values, judgement and principles come poor also-rans in Blair’s priorities, we are led to believe. Heard this before? Yes, all the time from the extremes of left and right who have no time for Mr Blair and will do all in their power to castigate him.

Cohen has scribed nothing less than a total repudiation of all that one might describe as his previous admiration or even respect for the former prime minister. And he ends with another wordy flourish. Tony Blair’s –

“love of money has brought down the worst fate that could have befallen him. He now has the manners and morals of his opponents. He has become a George Galloway with a Learjet at his disposal.”

THE LEARJET-FLYING ‘GEORGE GALLOWAY’ RESPONDS

Tony Blair’s Office felt the need to respond to this outburst of Toynbeeism. To be fair to Mr Cohen I think the TB Office response grappled with the wrong end of the stick. They said –

“However, the analogy which the column makes between Kazakhstan and Iraq under Saddam or Serbia under Milosevic is totally unfair.”

I did not read Mr Cohen’s column as comparing Iraq or Serbia to Kazakhstan in any way which underrated Blair’s earlier actions.  Nick Cohen’s point at that juncture in the article was not as criticism for comparison but simply that once upon a time (in his opinion) Blair behaved well and for good reasons, even if his critics did not think so:

“Historians trying to capture the hypocrisy of Britain in the first decade of the 21st century may note, as we [Blairites] did, that Blair’s opponents turned on him not for allowing the banks to run riot but for insisting that Britain should play its part in stopping the civil war in Sierra Leone, in ensuring that Slobodan Milosevic could not ethnically cleanse Kosovo, in helping throw the Taliban out of Kabul and in saying that after 24 years of occasionally genocidal rule, Saddam Hussein must be removed from power.”

Blair & Cohen do not disagree on the need to remove Milosevic or Saddam. The main issue of concern as far as Cohen is concerned is the financial reward that Tony Blair seems to attract wherever he goes and whatever he does. An easy target in these times of austerity for the rest of us.

Mr Cohen tweeted me earlier that I should go out and enjoy the sunset as I has already tweeted him on this issue “about 30 times”.

The sun also rises and tomorrow is a big day for Tony Blair at the Leveson Inquiry. Mr Cohen’s remarks have not gone unnoticed in Twitterchitterchatterland. In fact I may make a little list of those inspired by his over-important article. Well over 30, I’d guess. But I warn Nick Cohen, they will NOT make pleasant bed-mates for him as he leaps presumably already flea-bitten from the arms of his erstwhile Blairite chums.

Perhaps tomorrow, as he rises to watch Mr Blair at the Leveson Inquiry with the rest of the twitterchatterati, he will get out of the right side of his bed.

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Statement from The Office of Tony Blair on Nick Cohen’s column on Kazakhstan in this week’s Observer

Sunday, May 27, 2012 in Office of Tony Blair

On 27th May 2012, The Observer ran a column by Nick Cohen under the headline, Tony Blair’s moral decline and fall is now complete. The Office of Tony Blair issued the following statement in response:

“As Tony Blair made clear in his speech in Astana this week, there are real issues to do with political, judicial and human rights reform.

“However, the analogy which the column makes between Kazakhstan and Iraq under Saddam or Serbia under Milosevic is totally unfair. Saddam took a country that in the late 60s was on a par with South Korea and made it an economic basket case despite oil, with a child mortality rate the same as the Congo; started two major wars with over 1m casualties; used chemical weapons to wipe out thousands of his own people in a single day. Milosevic was engaged in systematic ethnic cleansing against the Muslim population of Kosovo.

“Under President Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has increased the income per head of its people 10 times or more; he renounced nuclear weapons and dismantled them, something for which he was recently praised by President Obama. Despite being sandwiched between the giants of Russia and China he has remained a good ally of the West, vital to the effort in Afghanistan.

“Therefore, the work we are doing is precisely to boost the reform programme which is already underway and is consistent with the demands made of President Nazarbayev by the international community.”

Earlier this week, Tony Blair delivered a speech to university students in Astana where he spoke about the challenge of political reform for Kazakhstan. Read it here.

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Related

Watch Tony Blair at the Leveson Inquiry from 10:00am – 4:30pm tomorrow, Monday 28th May.

I must admit this post by Nick Cohen on Thursday was one I did not feel the need to retweet ‘Don’t Trust the West

Enough said.

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Pt 2 – ICC trials. Britain stopped murderous “war criminals” in Balkans & Sierra Leone

May 22, 2012

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23rd May 2012

This post follows on from here – ICC trials. Britain stopped “war crimes” in Balkans & Sierra Leone. Why no press mention of OUR role?

MEANWHILE AT THE HAGUE

Ratko Mladic

On 16th May at the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, former Bosnian Serb army chief Mladic

The Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is on trial in The Hague 20 years after the start of the conflict. He is charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

Charles Taylor

Again at The Hague Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has already been found guilty at the Special Court for Sierra Leone of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and conscripting child soldiers.  After a trial of several years which started in Sierra Leone and was moved for Taylor’s security reasons to The Hague, judges at the U.N.-backed court said his aid was essential in helping rebels across the border in Sierra Leone continue their bloody rampage during the West African nation’s decade-long civil war, which ended in 2002 with more than 50,000 dead.

That would be this Sierra Leone.

And yet some braincell-challenged twerps tweeps still see Tony Blair as being just as culpable of chargeable war crimes as Taylor and (the as yet unconvicted) Mladic, the forerunner of this kind of Kosovo ethnic cleansing. After Srebrenica we can’t say we hadn’t been forewarned.

BOSNIA FAILURE

It is true, and some might suggest it is shameful, that John Major’s Conservative government was not moved to intervene as Mladic killed tens of thousands on Europe’s doorstep. Not that John Major was the only European or international leader to ignore Bosnia.  They all did. Once in office Tony Blair made it clear he was no John Major. He even persuaded President Bill Clinton how best to deal with Yugoslavian President Slobodan Miloševic and his cronies over Kosovo atrocities.

Clearly my responsibilities and moral rectitude compass is out of kilter with the norm. What we SHOULD be doing is applauding John Major for er… doing nothing.

COLLECTIVE EMBARRASSMENT

The excuse by some for seldom if ever praising Blair is that Iraq was the wrong decision for the wrong reasons, perhaps even lies. Therefore it follows, goes this ‘thinking’, that Blair was always wrong and always a liar. Even when he was right and clearly not lying. That utterly wrong-headed excuse has no traction as to whether we should thank Tony Blair for what he and his government did in a European country and in an African country at the turn of the century.

The only things that should embarrass us about our approach to Blair’s foreign policy is our own lack of common sense, our short political memory, our lack of support for oppressed peoples and with regard to Blair himself – our sense of fairness, even courtesy.

LOVED BY THE POLITICIANS (mostly), HATED BY THE BIASED

In fact real practising politicians do not hate Tony Blair as do many so-called columnists and their little commenters at such as the Daily Mail, Guardian and  Independent. The Conservatives were more gung-ho for the Iraq invasion than were some in Labour and it was only through their support that he had parliamentary permission to go to war. To the present Tory part of the frontbench he is still “The Master”. The Chancellor, George Osborne is said to enjoy listening to Blair recite his audio version of his memoirs “A Journey”.  And we all know where David Cameron gets his hand gestures from.

What of the other half of the coalition? The Liberal Democrats have long been against the Iraq war. That position is the reason I am never likely to vote for them again. But they are not all so lacking in international political nous.  Alex Carlile worked under Blair & then Brown from 2005 to 2011 as the independent reviewer of British anti-terrorist laws. And former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown was recommended by Blair as High Representative for Bosnia & Herzegovina, a position he took up in May 2002.  Ashdown had been a long-time advocate of international intervention in that region.

On 14 March 2002 former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown testified as a witness for the prosecution at the trial of Slobodan Miloševic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Milosevic was found dead in his prison cell at the Hague in March 2006. He had faced charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged central role in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo during the 1990s.  He’d also faced genocide charges over the 1992-95 Bosnia war, in which 100,000 people died.

See Ratko Mladic trial postponed, and Charles Taylor trial background.

OBDURATE MEDIA

Our media is being deliberately obdurate in its determination to elevate its Blair hatred to impenetrable heights, or rather to depressing depths.

It is already guilty of failing to notice that Tony Blair was right on our Responsibility to Protect as mentioned here.

The apparent side-stepping even deliberate ignoring of actions of which we as Brits should be immensely proud is only the next step on its “Let’s Get the Real Criminal” game.

Meanwhile, recently, Tony Blair spoke to Stanford Graduate Business Students regarding Africa governance issues and was applauded loudly, stigmata marks or not.

(See African Governance Initiative and for full video see here )

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ICC trials. Britain stopped “war crimes” in Balkans & Sierra Leone. Why no press mention of OUR role?

May 19, 2012

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20th May 2012

The simple and  depressing answer to the question posed in my headline…

… because Tony Blair was involved in the stopping of such “war crimes”

Stigmata may not be visible, nor a mark of the way Mr Blair would wish to emulate Jesus.  But he has been stigmatised.

STIGMA

Despite, arguably, somewhat slanted American-made portrayals of heroes & anti-heroes as in Blood Diamond our own dear British media and certainly our spin-loving entertainment industry has a blind spot when it comes to thanking Tony Blair for anything. Even – perhaps especially – when he inarguably deserves our unbounded praise.

I am sure this state of affairs would be a worthy topic for psychoanalysis of the mind & mindset of the mass media. Here I am not so ambitious. I only wish to make the disconcerting observation.

Someone tweeted me the other day that there seems to be a (media) stigma attached to our former prime minister. True, some do seem to have ‘crucified’ him while washing their hands and bemoaning “I am innocent of this man’s blood”

One day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, historians will look back on this period of press-inspired Blair hatred and wonder how on earth seemingly balanced people were so comprehensively taken in by the Fourth Estate and its agenda.

MEANWHILE AT THE HAGUE –

Ratko Mladic & Charles Taylor

(to be continued in next post…)

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Responsibility to Protect (RtoP)? As in UN Charter since 2005. Syria anyone?

May 16, 2012

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16th May 2012

I mentioned the Responsibility to Protect a few days ago but got distracted. Next morning we heard that twin suicide car-bomb attacks had killed at least 55 people and wounded 372 in Damascus.

But we live in interesting times. Since then twitterwonderland has lol-ed into Leveson hysteria at David Cameron’s hitherto mis-comprehension of the meaning of “LOL” according to the now charged with criminality Rebekah Brooks. France has a new left-wing President who brought with his instant visit to Merkel’s Germany some bad news and inclement weather. Greece is still on its in/out EU game and Ed Miliband is  talking to Tony Blair & even Peter Mandelson who is talking to Ed Balls. Elsewhere, Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is on trial in The Hague 20 years after the start of the conflict, charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.  And Charles Taylor at his own Hague trial says he sympathises with victims of the civil war in Sierra Leone he helped foment. That would be THIS Sierra Leone. and yet some braincell-challenged little tweeps still see Tony Blair as just as evil as Taylor, yes and even Mladic. Mladic of THIS kind of Kosovo ethnic cleansing.

WOW! Isn’t life grand?

So where was I?

Oh yes, Syria and the Right/Responsibility to Protect.

As Kofi Annan’s UN monitors come under attack and the rest of the world looks away at all its other problems why do we not care a little more about the ongoing carnage in Syria? After all, don’t we have a right, even a responsibility to protect?

SYRIA

DOES THE WORLD HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY, EVEN A RIGHT TO PROTECT?

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, UN report January 2009. That was more than 3 years ago. (See pdf file)

Syrian opposition activists’ handout picture of Juret al-Shayah district in Homs, were regime forces have reportedly shelled rebel-held neighbourhoods since the truce took effect. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

“When a State nevertheless was “manifestly failing” to protect its population from the four specified crimes and violations, they confirmed that the international community was prepared to take collective action in a “timely and decisive manner” through the Security Council and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” Source

In the light, or rather darkness of the unfolding situation in Syria, some may wonder  –

WHY does the UN fail to ACT decisively in Syria?

Surely the R2P (RtoP) gives the UN the right AND responsibility to act in defence of the Syrian people being massacred? Sadly, yes and no, though not necessarily in that order. A little like so-called International Law, it depends.

The responsibility to protect (RtoP or R2P) is a United Nations initiative established in 2005. It consists of an emerging norm or set of principles, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege, but a responsibility. RtoP focuses on preventing and halting four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, which it places under the generic umbrella term of Mass Atrocity Crimes.

The Responsibility to Protect has three “pillars”.

  1. A state has a responsibility to protect its population from mass atrocities.
  2. The international community has a responsibility to assist the state if it is unable to protect its population on its own.
  3. If the state fails to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures have failed, the international community has the responsibility to intervene through coercive measures such as economic sanctions. Military intervention is considered the last resort.

So, did you get that? If pillar 1 is missing, as in Syria, pillar 2 and then 3 are written into the UN Charter including the “last resort”. But –

In the international community RtoP is a norm, not a law. RtoP provides a framework for using tools that already exist, i.e. mediation, early warning mechanisms, economic sanctioning, and chapter VII powers, to prevent mass atrocities. Civil society organizations, States, regional organizations, and international institutions all have a role to play in the R2P process. The authority to employ the last resort and intervene militarily rests solely with United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

KOFI ANNAN and “History”

The world watches and waits in despair as Kofi Annan struggles to balance the fact that the UN does NOT practise what it preaches. It is like the drunkard who says in moments of sober lucidity “I’ll never touch the stuff again”, until the next time. The UN, which is meant to DO good, as well as sound good, is limited by its own shortcomings as well as by many of its membership.

History

Following the genocide in Rwanda and the international community’s failure to intervene, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asked the question – “when does the international community intervene for the sake of protecting populations?” In 2000, the UN explicitly declared its reaction to Rwanda a “failure”. Then Kofi Annan said of the event – “The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret.”.

The Canadian government established the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in September 2000. In February 2001, at the third round table meeting of the ICISS in London, Gareth Evans, Mohamed Sahnoun and Michael Ignatieff suggested the phrase “responsibility to protect” as a way to avoid the “right to intervene” or “obligation to intervene” doctrines and yet keep a degree of duty to act to resolve humanitarian crises.

In December 2001, the ICISS released its report, The Responsibility to Protect. The report presented the idea that sovereignty is a responsibility and that the international community had the responsibility to prevent mass atrocities. Economic, political, and social measures were to be used along with diplomatic engagement. Military intervention, as mentioned before, was presented as a last resort. R2P included efforts to rebuild by bringing security and justice to the victim population and by finding the root cause of the mass atrocities.

The African Union pioneered the concept that the international community has a responsibility to intervene in crisis situations if the State is failing to protect its population. In the founding charter in 2005 African nations declared that the “protection of human and peoples rights” would be a principal objective of the AU and that the Union had the right “to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.” The AU also adopted the Ezulwini Consensus in 2005, which welcomed RtoP as a tool for the prevention of mass atrocities.

Forgive me if I am sceptical here, but it seems to me that mention might have been made of Tony Blair’s Doctrine of the International Community (1999) and of the Iraq intervention. In the latter case the roles such as George Bush and Tony Blair and others played in incidentally embarrassing the UN over its colossal failure to intervene in Iraq for 12 years. If an earlier intervention had been made it might have cut short Saddam’s 30 years slaughter of his own people.

The United Nations mandate

At the 2005 World Summit Member States included RtoP in the Outcome Document agreeing to Paragraphs 138 and 139. These paragraphs gave final language to the scope of RtoP. It applies to the four mass atrocities crimes only. It also identifies to whom the R2P protocol applies, i.e. nations first, regional and international communities second.

Paragraphs 138 and 139 state:

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

2005 World Summit Outcome Document.

In April 2006, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reaffirmed the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 in resolution (S/RES/1674). This formalized their support for the Responsibility to Protect. The next major advancement in RtoP came in January 2009, when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a report called Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. His report led to a debate in the General Assembly in July 2009 and the first time since 2005 that the General Assembly had come together to discuss the responsibility to protect. Ninety-four member states spoke. Most supported the R2P principle although some important concerns were voiced. They discussed how to implement RtoP in crisis situations around the world. The debate highlighted the need for regional organizations like the African Union to play a strong role in implementing RtoP; the need for stronger early warning mechanisms in the United Nations; and the need to clarify the roles UN bodies would play in implementing RtoP.

One outcome of the debate was the first RtoP resolution adopted by the General Assembly. The Resolution (A/RES/63/308) showed that the international community had not forgotten about the importance of the responsibility to protect and it committed to further address the issues involved.

In Practice

Threshold for military interventions

According to the International Commission for Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) Report in 2001 (which was not adopted by national governments), any form of a military intervention initiated under the premise of responsibility to protect must fulfill the following six criteria in order to be justified as an extraordinary measure of intervention:

  1. Just Cause
  2. Right Intention
  3. Final Resort
  4. Legitimate Authority
  5. Proportional Means
  6. Reasonable Prospect

Instances

Events that have involved mass atrocities since the Cold war:

Criticism

RtoP and National Sovereignty

One of the main concerns surrounding RtoP is that it infringes upon national sovereignty. This concern is rebutted by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the report Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. According to the first pillar of RtoP, the state has the responsibility to protect its populations from mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing, and according to the second pillar the international community has the responsibility to help States fulfill their responsibility. Advocates of RtoP claim that only occasions where the international community will intervene on a State without its consent is when the state is either allowing mass atrocities to occur, or is committing them, in which case the State is no longer upholding its responsibilities as a sovereign. In this sense RtoP can be understood as reinforcing sovereignty. However it is not clear who makes this decision on behalf of ‘international community’. Because of this in practical terms, RtoP is perceived as a tool of western countries to justify violations of sovereignty of other countries especially in developing world, using international institutions The West controls.

Libya, 2011

On March 19, 2011, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approved resolution 1973 which reiterated the responsibility of the Libyan authorities to protect the Libyan population. The UNSC resolution reaffirmed “that parties to armed conflicts bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians…” It demanded “an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute ‘crimes against humanity’… It imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace, a no-fly zone, and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.” The resolution passed with 10 in favor, 0 against and 5 abstains. Two of the five permanent members of the council abstained, China and Russia. The subsequent military action by NATO resulted in mixed opinions. Detractors of the intervention believe that problems in Libya are best resolved amongst Libyans.

RtoP Scope

The scope of RtoP is often questioned. The concern is whether RtoP should apply to more than the four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. For example, should RtoP be used to protect civilians in peril following natural disasters? In general, the consensus is that the scope of RtoP should remain narrow and well-defined. At the General Assembly debate on RtoP in July 2009, several Member States reaffirmed the original scope of RtoP and said that broadening the applicability of RtoP could diminish its effectiveness.

In other words it was agreed to fail to agree.

Use of Military Intervention

The question of military intervention under the third pillar of RtoP remains controversial. Several states have argued that RtoP should not allow the international community to intervene militarily on States, because to do so is an infringement upon sovereignty. Others argue that this a necessary facet of RtoP, and is necessary as a last resort to stop mass atrocities. A related argument surrounds the question as to whether more specific criteria should be developed to determine when the Security Council should authorize military intervention.

Selectivity in the Security Council

Another concern surrounding RtoP is that the Security Council in the UN, when deciding to which crises RtoP applies, have been selective and biased. A veto from one of the five permanent members brings bias to the process. As an example, the UNSC did not vote to intervene in Chechnya because Russia opposed such action. This has been acknowledged as an issue of major concern, and has hindered the implementation of RtoP. Some of those involved advocate that the UNSC permanent members agree not to use their veto when proven mass atrocities are taking place.

Tony Blair’s 1999  “Doctrine of The International Community” was a valiant attempt, if ahead of its time, to put into words why the international community must learn to work and act together.

WHERE ARE WE?

Because the “international community” (a misnomer if ever there was one) has not yet learned how to work and act together in the face of such refuseniks as Russia and China, we are where we are today. Frankly nowhere. This is not helped when international law as it is written and as it is adhered to and practised are not always the same thing.

I am on record as not supporting intervention in Syria. This is not because I wish to leave Syrians to be massacred by their own president – Assad.  It is simply that until the international community (including the Arab world, Russia & China) gets itself organised as an entity I am not up to the lifetime job of arguing the reasons that western interventionists are right and are NOT “war criminals” for trying to stop such atrocities.

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Kosovo celebrates – STOP. The Forgotten War – STOP. Press asleep – STOP.

February 18, 2012

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Or –

18th February 2012

(Forgive the old telegram-style title.  If that doesn’t work I’ll try Morse Code)

I was about to write just ONE post on Kosovo. But in view of the press’s forgetfulness, and since it is easier to consume information in chunk-sized bites, I’ve decided to make it a few more.

PART 1

THE WAR THE WEST FORGOT TO REMEMBER

In case you missed it Kosovo marked the fourth anniversary of its declaration of independence yesterday, Friday.

Google “Kosovo anniversary 2012”.  Go on, I dare you.

I did. On page one of the links there is NO British media mention of this FOURTH anniversary of Kosovo’s independence.  Nor on page two. Not until the end of page three, that’s thirty links in,  Sky News mentions… oh hang on…  that’s SkyNews AUSTRALIA – Australia having a particularly neighbourly interest in Kosovo!

On the first ten search pages there is one mention from Canada, one from Norway, several from EU websites and even one from Russia’s RT. On NONE of those first ten Google search pages is there mention of ANY coverage on Kosovo Independence from a UK or USA website. Finally, on page eleven there is a BBC link … oh, hang on again … that’s from 2009!

And yet who are the political heroes of Kosovo?

One Tony Blair and one Bill Clinton. The former has had Kosovan children named after him; the latter a boulevard and a statue in his honour. I am not suggesting that Mr Clinton does not deserve both his honours, but we Brits would do well to recall it was Tony Blair who pushed President Clinton to take ground forces into Kosovo AND to win that war and defeat Milosevic without a United Nations Security Council resolution authorising it.

“Illegal” – I suppose some might suggest. As they might also suggest in Iraq.

SHAMEFUL SINS OF OMISSION

If ever we needed proof that today the west and its press has a particular dislike of heroes – I mean REAL heroes, not your average every day terrorist or even freedom-fighter sort – the lack of press coverage on Kosovo is it.  The media not only peddles in misinformation/disinformation gilded as ‘truth’ it also sins by omission, thus doing down our country, our democratically elected leaders and our commitment to freedom and humanitarian protection for all.  In other words we allow them to do ourselves down.

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Wikipedia – Kosovo War – Note how “negative is the tone here. Hardly surprising. Almost every Wikipedia entry on ANY war is written at Wikipedia with a ‘yes but, no but’ approach.

No-one pretends that all is hunky-dory in Kosovo or in Serbia but it is a darned sight better than it was.

More on the legality/illegality issues in next post – ‘Kosovo: The “Illegal War” The Press & Anti-Warriors Prefer To Forget’

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Comment samples follow from the Ban Blair-Baiting petition

1. I completely agree with everything that has been said on this website. As Prime Minister, Tony Blair worked tirelessly and selflessly in the interests of the people, and continues to do so today. He is primarily a humanitarian, and doesn’t deserve any of the vitriol that has been levelled at him. He was a great Prime Minister, is a thoroughly decent man; and should in my opinion, be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding work. – David Miliband (New Labour’s heir) for the next PM!

2. Best politician in Britain by a long way.

3. Fully support the petition. The criticism of Mr Blair has gone way beyond anything acceptable and seems to be carried out mainly by those who are looking to wash their hands of any involvement in supporting the Iraq war at the time. It is very easy to be ‘wise after the event’ and to make assumptions about how much Mr Blair knew or did not know before the war. In these people’s eyes, the former PM is guilty whatever the evidence.

4. An excellent petition this for a very undervalued PM. A PM who is not only the best in my lifetime but my parents lifetime too!

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How Twitter is SAVING not destroying the mainstream press

June 12, 2011

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13th June 2011

Is Twitter Killing Journalism?

In 140 characters or less –

NO, NO, NO! Quite the opposite –  #journalism, @johnrentoul

FLY AWAY PETER – FLY AWAY PAUL

If you’re a politics watcher there is an end-times story to which you may subscribe – that social media is killing the mainstream press and journalism as a profession. After all, goes the thinking, we are all journalists now.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  My draft box – in which sit umpteen unfinished tales of political derring-do and other “opinion”, some even based on fact –  is testament to that. As  a Tweeter my attention, my time, if not in a sinister way my mind has been taken over by the Great Twit Tweet in the Ether.  I am no longer a sort of writer-cum-blogger, but have been transmogrified into something far more useless useful and above all something much more transient, if  a little better informed; some of the time. And to add to my growing impotence as a blogger on a narrative around Tony Blair (the original and ongoing point of this blog) my blog post output has fallen in inverse proportion to my tweeting. That may be partly because I do go on a bit when blogging. Or it may be because I DO have another  life. Perhaps David Cameron had it right.

A BRAKE ON HOME JOURNALISM – DEFTLY DOES IT

For the political home-based anorak Twitter and Facebook are actually brakes on home-journalism.  Reading Tweet links is the killer.  Apart from slowing down one’s computer as multiple windows open (to be used later!) there is the simple fact that no-one, not even the ubiquitous and unstoppable Tony Blair, has yet managed to work out how to pack more than 24 hours into a day. Thus the unpaid home journalist runs out of time to do much more than link to those paid for their offerings.

If my computer worked as quickly as my brain – oh no it doesn’t ! – I could develop quite a few news items I find through Twitter. For instance:

The appeasers of Ratko Mladic – Surely in the light of Mladic’s trial at The Hague Douglas Hurd and General Rose, both of whom failed to stop the genocide in Srebrenica and both of whom criticised Tony Blair over his intervention in Iraq even as Cameron intervenes in Libya deserve their tails tweaking? Especially today as Cameron intervenes in Libya as Blair did in Kosovo and yet he seems unwilling to follow through on Syria. A deft kick up the backside? For Hurd, Rose and perhaps even Cameron? Unfortunately I haven’t time for “deft”, nor does deft do hypocrisy justice.

But Twitter does do deft – and it does it well, in a headliney, sound-bitey sort of limited way.

There are several leading journalist who DO do deft, twitter-like and mainstream. Among the leading lights is John Rentoul (recent post here pulls no punches on plots).  If a journalist doesn’t use Twitter he/she is losing out. But no journalist, as far as I know, ONLY does Twitter.  Rentoul, like the rest of the pros, uses his Twitter account to point to his own writings and to those of others – some with whom he agrees, some disagrees. In that way journalists add to their list of followers and readers of their main (paid) source of income. No-one pays anyone for tweeting their own material or links.

Those of us online who do not earn a living through journalism but have a worrying addiction to politics have no wish to re-invent the wheel.  So we “retweet” or “mention” such as John Rentoul, or the Spectator‘s Fraser Nelson.

A BLOOD SPORT

And of course Twitter gives journalists and politicos a chance to have a go at one another in public, such as here –  twitter@campbellclaret –  in Twitterbanter challenging Piers Morgan on Jonathan Rees and phone hacking.

If two journalists are company three quickly becomes a crowd at a spectator sport –

JohnRentoulJohn Rentoul
Piers Morgan tries to change the subject. Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) won’t let him http://bit.ly/kt0Azm

After a while, usually about two minutes, they all join in, wallowing in the blood sport. Talking about blood sports I’m not going to mention the brothers Miliband. Much. Especially when other Tweeters have already done it so well.

This by Harry Cole at the Commentator opines that the Miliband tendency is destroying the Labour party. Of course we mustn’t be naive about this. Many bloggers, especially but not only those who write as well as Mr Cole, have a political axe to grind and usually political affiliations. In this case Mr Cole is the political editor of the Guido Fawkes blog, so that might indicate something.

Still, Harry Cole seems to be consistent in his tweets in his regard for Tony Blair, a perspective measure that Twitter does  provide over time spent reading tweets.  His is a blood-soaked post, but worth a read if only to remind us of the damage caused by “fratricidal” conflict.

Excerpt

“... the Telegraph did what they do best – a slow, painful and deep political assassination. Everyone knew Miliband, and his current Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, conspired for years to oust Tony Blair, while loyal yes-men to Gordon Brown.

Finally here was a still warm cache of written documents that showed just how vicious and calculating the two men, who are now at the top of the Labour Party, were when they were on their way up. Miliband, to be fair, played a much tamer role than the bullying and thuggish bruiser Ed Balls. But the blood of their most electorally successful leader ever is on both their hands.

How can Miliband and Balls call for loyalty, with a straight face, when evidence has emerged that while Blair and his team were dealing with the fall-out from the 2005 London bombings, in the office next door Brown and the two Eds were in a meeting to discuss knifing the PM?”

So, although I could write several dozen posts instead of reading others’ ideas of newsworthiness, I have the humility to concede that not all of my thoughts are solely my own. They are yours, as well as mine.  But mainly – let’s be blunt about it – yours.

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

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The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
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Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.