Thursday, July 06, 2017

Chilcot, Blair, Dictators, War,emotional truth - and a non-violent alternative

Sir John Chilcot today describes Tony Blair's testimony to the Iraq Inquiry as “emotionally true”. What the hell does that mean? Is it like “economy with the truth” and “economy with the actualitė”, just fancy words for lying? Is anyone seriously taken in with these euphemisms? (Answer : yes).

While Chilcot minces his words, Mosul is in the final stages of being minced by the war process that Blair and Bush started 13 long years ago.

Have we learned anything from Blair's disastrous war? Not really, because psychopaths never learn, and we are ruled by a psychopathic nexus of corporations, media and politicians.

What we should have learned is that it is not a good idea to remove dictators by force. Dictators are often holding down internal tensions in the area that they rule over, and sudden removal often leads to civil war, as we see in Iraq and Libya. Even the natural death of a dictator can lead to disintegration, as we saw in ex-Yugoslavia when Tito died.

This is not to say that the world should take a tolerant, laissez-faire attitude to dictators. Dictatorships nearly always end up malign, repressive and inhumane. They take away human rights, imprison political opponents, use torture and death squads. In the end they will always succumb to revolution, and that tends to start the cycle of repression all over again.

So what can we do instead? The Green Party, and the Global Greens, have adopted the idea of a Global Human Rights Index, where once a year the UN publishes a league table of every country in the world, placed in order of their observance (or non-observance) of human rights. There are more than one methods that measure the human rights actions of governments, and they are sufficiently accurate to create a league table, where all Governments are ranged in order, with decent regimes like the Scandinavians at the top, and the Saudis, Syria, Zimbabwe and Burma at the bottom. 

The beauty of it is that if a regime objects because they reckon they have been measured harshly, the UN can send in rapporteurs to re-assess that state. What will the state do? Release political prisoners and clean up its act before the rapporteurs arrive. Perfect.

The Global Human Rights Index will act as a continuous, universal uplift to human rights performance of all states. All states mind. Not just the ones that UK and US Governments find inconvenient this week.

What about the worst performers, the really oppressive ones who are sliding towards open fascism and genocide? Here the UN can bring in a sliding scale of targeted sanctions, adding (or removing) a sanction each time a state takes another step down (or up) the slope towards total inhumanity. This is the application of basic psychology, well known to be effective if applied consistently.

For the criminal regimes, the International Criminal Court can try the leadership, in absentia if necessary. If found guilty, a prison sentence may be imposed, albeit also in absentia, since the ruler is ensconced in his (and it usually is a him) palace. This is where it gets subtle. At the same time as he is looking at a prison sentence if he loses his grip on power, diplomats may also convey to the dictator that a nice mansion awaits him and his family in some neutral country. This is carrot and stick psychology, an appeal to basic self-interest. Sure, it is not perfectly just to the victims of the regime and their families, but in global politics, perfection is not an option. It is definitely better than the status quo.


So we do not have to choose between going to war or simply tolerating dictators. There is an effective non-violent way of persuading them to leave office, and produce a general global uplift in human rights performance.

This brief introduction to a revolutionary idea will raise many questions, some of which are answered in the longer paper on the Green Party of England and Wales website. In the end though, this idea is better than blasting a country into small pieces of quivering red jelly, then holding a six-year, 13 volume Inquiry that concludes that the perpetrator was being “emotionally true”.

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