Colourblind

Britain should not think it’s above the racism seen in the US. 

Robert Winder, in his very Britishly titled book ‘Bloody Foreigners’tells the enthralling story of the rich tapestry of the thousands of foreign people and ideas that have settled and shaped Britain ever since mankind tracked into Europe from Africa. Our medieval architecture was created by the French; our royal family has German blood in their veins; our banks and shops are Jewish; our language a concoction of Germanic and Latin (with a sprinkling of Indian and American). Our food is anything but British, with tea from China and curry from India. A quintessentially English song of royalty was composed by the German George Frideric Handel. The book speaks of how the Empire stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the trenches of the First World War; and alongside us against Hitler. It was they who came here to help us rebuild our charred cities and bombed out buildings. It was Britain which soldiered on alone against Hitler and Nazism. The story of the Second World War is one of an epic struggle of freedom and tolerance against the forces of racism and oppression. Britain couldn’t possibly be a place of racism and intolerance.

Perhaps this is the reason many Brits scoff at the Black Lives Matter UK movement. A Buzzfeed report on the July 2016 Black Lives Matter march in Birmingham pointed to a dismissal of the issue. After all, the UK isn’t like the US. The brutality and social struggles minorities face in the US aren’t like the ones minority groups in the UK face. Britain couldn’t possibly be as barbaric and unwelcoming as that. Continue reading

The Shadow Of Iraq

Chilcot finally sheds some light on the fateful events of March 18th, 2003.

In 1999, the Blair Doctrine was declared in front of a Chicago audience. If intervention could do more good than harm, nations should go to war. That speech was given in the context of the Kosovo conflict, but the ideas also underpinned Blair’s rationalisation for Iraq. As Jason Ralph has argued, Blair sincerely believes that the war, which was presented as an act of collective security, was a continuation of the internationalist doctrine he laid out.

Blair still claims going to war was the right thing to do. At an inquiry in 2010, he said when giving evidence:

It’s a decision. And the decision I had to take was, given Saddam’s history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the over one million people whose deaths he had caused, given 10 years of breaking UN resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons programmes or is that a risk that it would be irresponsible to take? The reason why it is so important … is because, today, we are going to be faced with exactly the same types of decisions.

He declared the same things post Chilcot. Its a view coloured by the post 9/11 world, as Mr Blair argued himself. It’s a view that persists in drone strikes on would be terrorists. The nightmares of children who grow up fearing blue sky in that section of the world is a small price to save lives tomorrow.

Of course, the costs of the Iraq war are much greater. Since Britain marched to war in 2003, with the press on Fleet Street beating the drum, body counts climb. Innocent blood was spilt on the sands of the region, and millions were forced to leave their homes. 179 British military personnel are dead. Iraq has been thrown into the abyss of instability. ISIS rose from the ashes of al-Qaeda in the American prison of Camp Bucca, Iraq. The removal of infrastructure in the Iraqi government, even in the face of sectarian violence, made a vacuum militias were all too happy to fill, in regions left behind. The war stoked the flames of new conflicts that would tear nations apart. When Mr Blair spoke to troops in 2003, he claimed it was a defining moment of our century. He was right about that.

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Clinton’s Clincher

Sanders had a good run. Now it’s time to rally behind Clinton.

California, America’s most populous state, rarely finds itself kingmaker in primaries. Often, the state votes too late to shape the outcome. It must have been quite novel, then, that Golden staters had an important role in shaping the Democratic nomination on June 7th. If Mrs Clinton lost, it would show her weakness to Bernie Sanders. If she won, she’d have the luxury of treating the Sanders insurgency with some triviality.

As voting day passed, Mrs Clinton clinched a solid 56% of the vote, and the latter scenario unfolded. Still, the Sanders campaign proved very irksome for Clinton’s team. The Vermont senator threw himself into the arena and emerged victor in 20 states, scoring an impressive 1877 delegates. This time last year, he was 50 points behind the uncatchable Clinton. Now his speeches pack stadiums. Socialism is no longer the great American electoral taboo it once was. The string of wins Sanders scored in April put his rival on the back foot many a time. Mrs Clinton likely didn’t expect the road to victory to be so rocky. Continue reading