Miliband: the re-invention


2:46 pm - January 15th 2009

by Aaron Murin-Heath    


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While I can’t be quite as optimistic as James has been below, I do appreciate the contrarian and positive take he has offered on David Miliband’s latest Op-Ed in The Guardian.

I think you have to also give some credit to David Miliband, for his sheer bloody cheek. He’s spent the last 5+ years toeing the party line over Iraq and the wider war on terror, only to abandon the policy the moment a more sane administration begins measuring the drapes in the Oval Office.

It’s a shame that Labour had to shed so many supporters, commentators and activists in the process.

I mean, was it all really worth it?

Was watching Mr. Blair accept his medal from W, really worth all the blood and treasure? I think probably not.

Indeed this paragraph really got my goat ::

The more we lump terrorist groups together and draw the battle lines as a simple binary struggle between moderates and extremists, or good and evil, the more we play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common. Terrorist groups need to be tackled at root, interdicting flows of weapons and finance, exposing the shallowness of their claims, channelling their followers into democratic politics.

I’m sorry, but isn’t this just what the intelligent people have been saying ever since 9/11? Isn’t this the same line the New Labour cabinet has been rejecting week-in week-out on Question Time?

Does this mean that they’re going to stop grandstanding on terrorism to push through illiberal policies and that they’re about to abort ridiculous projects such as ID cards? Or is Miliband just, as Alisdair Cameron has suggested, merely positioning himself cleverly with a leadership bid in mind?

Or maybe Brown is behind this: is the PM, ever the pathetic weakling, adjusting British foreign policy to continue its conjoined (yet always subservient) relationship with Washington? Something Tim Almond has wisely referred to as “a shocking bit of 51st statism”. No change there then.

Maybe, just maybe, New Labour could have shown a bit of courage and stood up to Bush back when Tony left the stage. As Iain Martin points out in the Telegraph, Miliband’s timing is evidence of colossal cowardliness.

I’ll leave you with Miliband’s most hypocritical paragraph, just to see if you manage to finish it without grinding your teeth into powdery white enamel dust ::

We must respond to terrorism by championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, for it is the cornerstone of the democratic society. We must uphold our commitments to human rights and civil liberties at home and abroad. That is surely the lesson of Guantánamo and it is why we welcome President-elect Obama’s commitment to close it.

Amen (at last).

See also:
Hagley Road to Ladywood – Claude takes both Milipede and James to task.
Orangepan – Miliband moderates his tone

Update: As Leon, suggests, Justin has an excellent piece too.

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About the author
Aaron Murin-Heath is an occasional contributor. He is a writer based in Newark-on-Trent and Tallinn, Estonia. He is both socially and economically liberal. Aaron blogs at tygerland.net.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Labour party ,Middle East ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Well I think Aaron you somewhat agree with me that kicking Bush as he leaves the room is a pretty pathetic spectacle . I do not myself dislike Bush anyway. He lead an interventionist America that took its responsibilities in the world deadly seriously . No more Americans were murdered after 9.11 and that’s job one Obamah looks to be a lot more isolationist which is bad for everyone

Justin has a great piece on this too.

“Obamah looks to be a lot more isolationist”

Only an idiot would describe as Isolationist a man whose main foreign policies are that his country needs to talk to its enemies and work alongside its allies rather than acting unilaterally.

Newmania,

I don’t agree that Obama will be more isolationist – there is nothing in his statements that suggest he will not engage with the rest of the world. In fact, one might say that Bush’s greatest failure is the loss of American influence in the world.

No more Americans were murdered after 9.11

I might argue that 9/11 had such a colossal and successful effect in shaping American foreign policy, that an encore was never necessary. Al Qaeda, for all the neocon hyperbole, has always said that its goals are very much political – not merely geared towards maximum bloodshed.

Not unrelated, I see that OBL has chosen this week to goad Mr. Bush.

“o more Americans were murdered after 9.11 and that’s job one Obamah looks to be a lot more isolationist which is bad for everyone”

What about the anthrax attacks?

I see no one’s mentioning IEDs.

But yeah…

Well I think Aaron you somewhat agree with me that kicking Bush as he leaves the room is a pretty pathetic spectacle .

Yeah, I’d agree with that. From the Milipede at least. I’ll certainly be sticking the knife in soon…

Only an idiot would describe as

There’s your answer planeshift.

Anyway, to be honest my view is – better late than never. This govt has been real crap at foreign policy since 9/11, but I think with Gordon Brown did this shift. Not with big headlines, but with incremental steps – pulling out of Iraq (slowly), criticising Gitmo, and now this. Sure, the fact that bush is a lame-duck Prez helps because it has little impact on foreign policy and aligns us with what Obama has been saying.

But let’s not pretend that we can ignore what America says and does and carry on regardless. The big question is, would Miliband have said the same if McCain the warmonger had been elected? I hope he would have… I’ve been fairly ok with Miliband’s foreign policy pronouncements since Blair left.

Sunny,

I agree that it’s a positive move. It just grates that some of us have been arguing with New Labour types about this for years – and suddenly Miliband is lecturing us on the best way forward.

That said, anything that takes UK foreign policy is a more Cookish direction is welcome.

10. oi, sunny, do these threads ever close?

But let’s not pretend that we can ignore what America says and does and carry on regardless. The big question is, would Miliband have said the same if McCain the warmonger had been elected?

The fact that Miliband waited until the fight – sorry, election – was over pretty much gives you the answer. The rest is merely hypothetical.

Leon,
pipped at the post I was.
Great piece by Chickyog indeed.
Hope Sunny and Hooper do read it… ahem… 🙂

Aaaron said -might argue that 9/11 had such a colossal and successful effect in shaping American foreign policy, that an encore was never necessary.

Such an argument would have to ignore the 2005 airline conspiracy which could very easily have killed another 3000. I`d say it was not overwhelmingly convincing as arguments go
We will have to wait and see what Obamah does but I read a willingness to create multilateral approaches as a hint that others will have to take stop freeloading at the very least. As we well we know the choice may well be to act unilaterally , to a degree ,or not at all. Lets assume then that ,Obamah is not the vacuous hum-bug I suspect he is .If so he will be greatly indebted to the determination and courage of George Bush .
Until 9.11 violent jihadists enjoyed support across the word , Morocco and Indonesia appeased militants at home and encouraged them abroad . Saudi and UAE funded militant preachers . The Saudis financed extremist schools in many countries . UAE leaders are reported to have handed over sack loads if cash to Osama when they met at Kandahar airport . UAE and Saudi recognised the Taliban , with Pakistan . Sudan Syria and Yemen offered safe havens. In fact apart from Algeria nd Egypt ever Muslim state was on a spectrum of sympathy with al Quaeda and local outfits loosely associated with it . Pakistan went a good deal further , the ISI funded trained and armed the Taliban in Afghanistan and thousands of jihdists dedicated to killing Indians , in Kashmir and beyond.

This was the world that George Bush looked at as he counted the slaughter of innocent Americans British and many more . What you have all perhaps forgotten was that 9.11 was applauded by young Muslims all over the world as a call to arms . There was a very real danger of things getting far far worse . ( Have you forgotten the pictures of sophisticated wine drinking Tunisians celebrating with tears in their eyes ?).In fact active Islamisists suffered a catastrophic loss of status as the war machine wound up and it was stopped in its tracks .
Bush understood the imperative for decisive action clear choices . You were either with him or you were an enemy . He did not think that the world was good and evil you have misunderstood totally he knew it was not that’s the point .With so many shades of opinion the evil had to be isolated as much as possible . ( Plane shift note )After and initial period of denial the Saudi began to admit their responsibility for spreading Islamic insanity . The Saudi king convened an interfaith conference between Muslims Christians and Jews . They began to actively hunt down terrorists over 1000 of whom have been arrested . Indonesia stood with Bush and The changes in Pakistan have been perhaps more dramatic still./=

Would Obamah have been up to it or would he just fanny around chatting .Well lets hope he has more about him than I detect. Iran listened to European posturing on Nuclear weapons and laughed , when America added “ or else” it was a different matter . Other achievements include good progress on denuclearisation his support for the surge . Incidentally he was the first MBA President with a higher grade average than John Kerry and is infinitely the intellectual superior of his childish detractors .
Take WMDs . In common with Saddams own Generals the French, Chinese ,Israeli Russian intelligence agencies , the SIS and CIA he assumed a dictator does not destroy a WMD arsenal he used against his own people and then expel the UN inspectorate looking for proof of it (in 98 and 2001) He expected to find them as well as mass graves torture chambers and abuse of the food for oil programme . They found all but the WMDs. He was part of the mainstream of informed opinion. On the other side is the funny fat man Michael Moore snickering .
Obamah inherits a world that I very much doubt he would have done as much to make safe and if Plane-shift thinks these ends could have been achieved by talking to enemies he should, no longer be let out without his mummy. He will hurt himself

I agree that it’s a positive move. It just grates that some of us have been arguing with New Labour types about this for years – and suddenly Miliband is lecturing us on the best way forward.

Oh Aaron, thrown roses you start discussing dung fertiliser. Can’t you see? They’ve abandoned the Left Hawks and are declaring that they want you back. A relationship of convenience it may well be, but as you say: things are headed Cookwards. A cause to rejoice.

Now, I hate again to be in the unfortunate position of trying to defend this govt, but arms deals and govt aid are two different departments, and different people.

The real issue is that each dept has its own priorities and objectives, which rarely are coordinated properly as part of ‘official ideology’.

Not that I’m defending our arms sales, but then India and Pak dont’ need much convincing on those things. I would just say that I doubt Miliband is responsible for both. Certainly, its now Douglas Alexander who does foreign aid at DFID.

James,

The thing is, Cook called this what it was half a decade ago. Politicians such as Miliband go where the career opportunities are. That’s the reality of politics for sure, just don’t expect me to start gushing over their new-found progressiveness.

Also,

I might take time to read newmania’s rant tomorrow – but a quick glance suggests it’s merely well-known recent history peppered with misjudged analysis.

Oh bugger it….

Newmania,

2005 airline conspiracy

I presume you mean the 2006 liquid explosive plot – which as far as anyone can tell cannot be verified, as the people “involved” appeared utterly unprepared for the launching of such an attack, and the original source was a suspect tortured in Pakistan. Also, it wasn’t the American authorities who uncovered the plot, so W can hardly claim credit.

The Saudis financed extremist schools in many countries . UAE leaders are reported to have handed over sack loads if cash to Osama when they met at Kandahar airport . UAE and Saudi recognised the Taliban , with Pakistan . Sudan Syria and Yemen offered safe havens.

Bush himself recognised the Taliban, and hosted its representatives while governor of Texas.

Anyway, you go on to explain the terrible world Bush inherited, and yet after 8-years of Bush, The Saudis still finance radical Wahhabi madrassas across the Sunni world (because the Saudi royal family have little sway over the religious leaders in their country, but rely on them for legitimacy).

Iran is emboldened, rather than pinned-down as you suggest. Just ask the US troops blown to pieces by Iranian hardware. No wait…

Oh and finally (I’m not going to indulge your conjecture on Obama btw), Bush is a fucking moron. Spend 5-minutes listening to the guy. His presidency and everything he’s ever done (beyond the governorship of Texas – which if you know anything about the Gubernatorial nature of Texan politics, you’ll know is like minding chickens) has been a colossal failure.

It’s not good arguing that actually Bush is a smart man, when 8-years of evidence suggests he most certainly is not. It just makes you look a fool.

Any idiot can pass an exam.

If Bush is a personal hero of yours, then you’re welcome to him. Just don’t expect me to waste any more of my time having this completely pointless debate.

The thing is, Cook called this what it was half a decade ago. Politicians such as Miliband go where the career opportunities are. That’s the reality of politics for sure, just don’t expect me to start gushing over their new-found progressiveness.

Yes, he’s a little late. But he got there. William Hague, by contrast, seems incapable of stringing together a notable sentence that isn’t about Europe…

Also,

I might take time to read newmania’s rant tomorrow – but a quick glance suggests it’s merely well-known recent history peppered with misjudged analysis.

As always.

You really shouldn’t have bothered…

But is here “there” James? Or is it not just that he’s saying what is now politically expedient and could, quite happily, be “there” in another few years time saying he was wrong calling the war on terror a mistake? Just because a politician says something doesn’t mean he believes it.

You presume wrong
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article4329699.ece
Yes very good on the Taliban if irrelevant . No I am not besotted especially with Bush as all that but he has had conspicuous foreign policy successes not all of which I mentioned I suspect I have probably been overly panicked by the support of febrile socialist extremists like Red Hundal. When all is said and done for all his gaseous orating Obamah is still an American President and I would have vastly more in common with him than any Liberal Conspirator . His adjustment of Americas role will probably only be slight .
(Not sure I am that impressed with the nature of Chicago Politics actually)

In a few years time the Tories will be in power, so what does it matter?

Sunny, the thing is, are we expected to unpick the differing strands of morality exhibited by New Labour when it comes to voting? You risk sounding like Polly Toynbee when she told us to ignore the Iraq war because we have Sure Start. How do we – and why should we – separate Indian poverty and Indian arms sales? Forget ‘official ideology’ (New Labour don’t have one for starters), don’t we have the right to expect a little ‘joined up thinking’?

New Labour certainly don’t expect us to differentiate. That’s why when Gordon Brown make speeches he says ‘this government’ not ‘this department’ or ‘that department’. It’s called collective responsibility.

And if Miliband isn’t responsible for aid then why the sleeping in shacks? Isn’t that Douglas Alexander’s job? It’s more gesture politics and its way too early to tell whether any of this, the ditching of T.W.A.T. included, is worth it or should be welcomed. Talk, along with kipping in huts, is cheap.

23. Alisdair Cameron

@ Sunny (15)
“arms deals and govt aid are two different departments, and different people”

Well, yeah, but it’s one Government, one which actually has done an awful lot of posturing about joined-up thinking (and wants all of our personal info to be shared across all of Govt and its contractors/sub-contractors).
They ‘rise and fall’ as a totality, Governments.

Just wanted to throw this into the Bush discussion:

http://www.floppingaces.net/2009/01/14/bush-doesnt-care-about-black-people/

Who would have known?

Interesting Lilliput .

Lilliput: I sincerely hope that you were only trolling, there.

Do you have any idea how shoddy the response to Hurricane Katrina was?

You risk sounding like Polly Toynbee when she told us to ignore the Iraq war because we have Sure Start. How do we – and why should we – separate Indian poverty and Indian arms sales?

Yeah I know what you mean. And it does make me sound like her, which doesn’t help. But in defence, we’re assuming that everyone places as much importance as we do on foreign policy. Polly barely talks about it – she focuses on poverty at home.

Sure, its a narrow agenda, but its what single-issue people do.

Am I saying we should follow that way of thinking? No I’m not. You’re right in that we should hold the entire govt to account, but unfortunately that’s not how govts work in practice.

Even when trying to roll out their plans across depts, they face tons of resistance from civil servants.

I’m just saying, I don’t this government has actually imposed joined up thinking despite its claim… and even then that may look too control-freakerish is taken to its logical conclusion. I’m just saying the picture is more grey than black and white.


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