Even kids acquainted with the English alphabet know that the letter C follows B. It seems that in English politics the same is true with Cameron seemingly anxious to follow the gung-ho Blair into the Middle East quagmire that the onetime prime minister opened up with his illegal invasion of Iraq more than 12 years [...]


Meddle, muddle and mess up Middle East


Even kids acquainted with the English alphabet know that the letter C follows B. It seems that in English politics the same is true with Cameron seemingly anxious to follow the gung-ho Blair into the Middle East quagmire that the onetime prime minister opened up with his illegal invasion of Iraq more than 12 years ago.

Blair’s foreign policy faux pas, surely the worst since the failed Suez attack some 60 years ago, has led to vicious sectarian violence unheard of in the days of Saddam Hussein. It is continuing to kill more and more people and tearing at the entrails of that unfortunate land.

Blair acquiesced with Bush junior to lead a modern-day crusade with a misplaced messianic zeal hoping to stamp western supremacy over that oil-rich state and the surrounding lands. But like the Christian crusades of the middle ages they suffered a fate as ignominious as their ancestors.

They indeed toppled Saddam but have they pacified the region and established their authority over it. Hardly, as recent history tells us. What is more the Iraq invasion gave birth to today’s ISIS jihadists as many perceptive commentators have observed.
Now David Cameron not satisfied with bombing Iraq wants to extend British aerial sorties over Syrian territory in an effort to contain ISIS and decimate it as a threat to the region and the western buddies there, never mind their democratic credentials and human rights record.

Two years ago parliament voted against military intervention in Syria. Though Cameron pledged to “respect” that decision he never really abandoned his hope of doing a Blair – though not on the same scale of course – and militarily engaging Britain in another Middle-East adventure.
It seems that the lessons of history are lost on politicians who appear to think that their names must be indelibly etched in the history of their countries, no matter if such adventures serve no national interest or obliterate the high principles they proclaim from rooftops.
Recent disclosures following a Freedom of Information request revealed that despite Cameron’s pledge to respect parliament’s rejection of military intervention in Syria, British military personnel have been engaged in air strikes as part of US operations.
Such evidentiary material proved once again that the British Government had no respect for parliament or the public, something that the Cameron administration seems to have picked up from the Blair experience prior to the Iraqi invasion when again parliament was misled by false or doctored intelligence reports.
Very soon Cameron will once again try to convince parliament to approve of military action in Syria. It is now a little less than a year since the British joined the US-led coalition in bombing ISIS positions in Iraq. Thousands of bombs have fallen over Iraq, billions of dollars spent and some 500 civilians killed. But what has it achieved?
Even after all this, Pentagon officials are saying that ISIS is still as strong as it was one year back. History is perhaps a bad teacher. The US has not learnt from its own tragic experience in Vietnam and Cambodia. In 1969-70 the US in “Operation Menu” dropped bombs equivalent to five Hiroshimas over a hapless Cambodia killing hundreds of thousands of Cambodians. In doing so Washington created the monster called Pol Pot who laid waste to the rest of Cambodia and decimated the educated from which that country has struggled to shed the shackles of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Potism.
By virtually destroying Iraq as a nation Washington and London have given rise to another spectre in the shape of ISIS and if they have anybody to blame for this epic crime it is none but themselves.
Britain is still haunted by the ghosts of Iraq and later Libya, where, though the operation was successful, Britain remains mortified by the failure of the political process.
Yet for all, Cameron rejecting the lessons of history seems determined to intervene against ISIS in Syria which in itself is steeped in irony. The west first started arming and aiding Syrian dissidents and anti-Assad forces in an attempt to oust the Syrian dictator, ignoring the fact that some of the most authoritarian regimes in the region happen to be western allies.
However by a curious twist of circumstance, Assad now represents the major anti-ISIS force in Syria. Now Britain does not mind Assad staying around for some time-as Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond outrageously suggested the other day-as he is an asset in the war against the jihadist ISIS. So, as after as the Cameronian cohorts are concerned one’s enemy’s enemy is one’s friend- at least till the next time round.
But what has raised a new controversy is Prime Minister Cameron’s statement to parliament last Monday that he had authorized a secret drone attack against British-born Reyaad Khan, one of the ISIS fighters in Syria targeted for military action, who was killed along with another.
There is mounting demand not only for the government to reveal the legal advice given by Attorney-General Jeremy Wright, a little known lawyer, who is said to have okayed the strike saying there is a legal basis for the strike and for an independent scrutiny of the secret government hit-list of jihadists to be targeted for drone attacks in Syria.
Downing Street while conceding there is a hit-list refused to divulge the legal advice or the intelligence that formed the basis for the target list. What it did say was that Cameron acted in full accordance with the advice of the Attorney General.
This is not the first time that the AG, like the Sri Lankan AG in recent days, has been at the centre of controversies surrounding military action. It will be recalled that during Blair’s time AG Lord Goldsmith was caught up in the controversy over his advice on the invasion of Iraq without a second UN Security Council resolution authorizing it.
Later testifying before the Chilcot Inquiry Goldsmith said he misled parliament over the legality of the Iraq war.
The legal basis claimed by Cameron is under Art. 51 of the UN Charter which grants a nation the right of self defence. But the Reyaad Khan case is peculiar to say the least. It is claimed that Khan was planning a terrorist strike at the VE Day commemoration at Westminster Abbey on 10 May and Armed Forces Day celebration on 27 June.
Neither of these supposed attacks happened. Khan was executed on 21 August for attacks he is said to have planned but which never occurred. So now Britain can add extra-judicial killings to its record on torture, rendition and occupation of foreign lands to its pharmacopoeia of enlightened British values.
Just a few months ago when Britain celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta David Cameron said “Liberty, justice, democracy, rule of law — we hold these things dear.” Now state-sponsored killing could make the list.
I just wonder what would have been the reaction of western nations if Sri Lanka acted in this fashion. Surely the whole western world along with international activists would have been on our head chiding Sri Lanka for lack of due process and executing an individual for what he had not done but was supposed to have thought of doing. Mens rea is sufficient cause.

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