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This outrage over Syria only highlights our own impotence


8:30 am - February 24th 2012

by Flying Rodent    


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The Independent’s John Rentoul wants to investigate the possibility of a no-fly zone in Syria; bomb-happy French interventionist Bernard Kouchner wants to arm the Syrian opposition.

We appear to have now reached the stage where many of these internet moralists are issuing denunciations for opposing a military intervention that no serious political figure is even suggesting.

A stench of unreality and grandstanding hangs over this entire scenario.

The reason why there are no Nato jets bombing Damascus is that there is, at present, no appetite for Nato jets bombing Damascus.  

The Sino-Russian veto stands in here as a convenient excuse so that the American ambassador can issue a stern finger-wagging while noticeably doing nothing – had the Chinese and Russians acquiesced, the UN would’ve been resolved to agree that Syrian regime are a bunch of horrible criminals… and that’s it.

Let’s imagine that the United States suddenly decided to intercede.  The Chinese would definitely veto it, not least because of the way Nato exploited its Libya mandate to “protect civilians” into a generalised blank cheque to bomb whatever it liked, for as long as it liked.  

Even if we could get round Sino-Russian objections, there is no worldwide consensus on this issue. And even if we could get consent for, say, a no-fly zone as Rentoul suggests, well… You can’t shoot down flying artillery batteries that don’t exist, even with UN approval.

So even if there was an appetite for intervention, which there isn’t, and even if we could get round the Chinese/Russian veto, which we can’t, and even if we could convince a clear majority of countries to support military action, which we won’t…

Syria is still an Iraq-sized country with a massive population, engaged in a really nasty civil war in which both sides have mass support.

And arming the Syrian opposition?  Look Bernard, Syria is not Libya.  The Syrian regime has almost five thousand tanks, thousands of BMPs, armoured cars and artillery pieces and a 600,000-strong army.  

Even if it could only call on a half – a third! – of that total, what are we going to arm the opposition with?  Nukes?  Would we be arming them so they can successfully defend themselves – which they clearly can’t – or to make ourselves feel better about our own impotence?


A longer version is at Between the Hammer and the Anvil

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Flying Rodent is a regular contributor and blogs more often at: Between the Hammer and the Anvil. He is also on Twitter.
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Reader comments


There’s a lot of truth in this. But it is quite wrong to call Syria simply “a nasty civil war”. What it is is an attempted democratic revolution that is being put down with such brutality that it has fostered an armed resistance composed mostly of defectors from the army. An army (plus militias, thugs etc) which the UN has just produced a report on detailing its crimes against humanity.

2. So Much For Subtlety

1. R.Read

There’s a lot of truth in this. But it is quite wrong to call Syria simply “a nasty civil war”. What it is is an attempted democratic revolution that is being put down with such brutality that it has fostered an armed resistance composed mostly of defectors from the army. An army (plus militias, thugs etc) which the UN has just produced a report on detailing its crimes against humanity.

I stand second to none in my dislike of the Syrian government, but to call this a democratic revolution is nonsense. It is a nasty outbreak of sectarian violence between the mainly Islamist Sunnis and the pretending-to-be secular Alawis.

As can be seen by the fact this has spilled over into Lebanon with Sunni attacks on Alawis in places like Tripoli.

The Sunnis simply happen to be the largest community and perhaps even a majority so naturally they are all for democracy of the one-man one-time sort.

There is absolutely no reason to think the opposition won’t be, and probably isn’t, every bit as brutal as the Syrian government. Much like Libya if we got involved all we would be doing would be paying a fortune to replace one set of murderers with another set who happen to hate us even more. The only sensible thing to say is that it is a shame they all can’t lose.

SMFS: “I stand second to none in my dislike of the Syrian government, but to call this a democratic revolution is nonsense. It is a nasty outbreak of sectarian violence between the mainly Islamist Sunnis and the pretending-to-be secular Alawis.”

Yes, there’s a big ethnic element to this war, as there would be given that the government is dominated by minority Alawites. I think revenge attacks could be expected to occur in any country ruled oppressively by an ethnic minority when that regime fell.

But the rebels are definitely calling for democracy, not Saudi-style rule by religious leaders. I think if they were not in the Muslim world you’d probably take that at face value. If they wanted rule by Caliphs and Imams, why wouldn’t they be calling for that? Certain pro-Iranian groups in Iraq were not shy of calling for that after the invasion, marching the streets carrying portraits of Ayatollahs.

Oh yes, and why do you think the Alawis are pretending to be secular? What possible motive would they have for pretending to be secular? A more plausible explanation would seem to be that they are secular, but since they’re Muslims you find this implausible.

I’m not arguing for intervention; I think it could be disastrous in this case, but I don’t want “both sides to lose” just because they’re Muslim. Democracy is better than no democracy.

And arming the Syrian opposition?  Look Bernard, Syria is not Libya.  The Syrian regime has almost five thousand tanks, thousands of BMPs, armoured cars and artillery pieces and a 600,000-strong army.  

I think you’re underplaying the fact that detections (bringing their arms and equipment with them) have happened and are expected to happen in far larger numbers once the tide begins to more definitively turn.

Mid ranking officers have tended to bring their units with them, so if a couple of Majors or corporals switch sides or declare themselves to be armed, but neutral, and immobilises all the tanks and heavy ordanance under their command, that numerical advantage will quickly evaporate.

5. So Much For Subtlety

3. jungle

But the rebels are definitely calling for democracy, not Saudi-style rule by religious leaders. I think if they were not in the Muslim world you’d probably take that at face value. If they wanted rule by Caliphs and Imams, why wouldn’t they be calling for that? Certain pro-Iranian groups in Iraq were not shy of calling for that after the invasion, marching the streets carrying portraits of Ayatollahs.

Because they need our help. They will make an appeal best aimed to get that help. They cannot win on their own, or at least it would be hard. Thus the Libyans all pretended to be secular democrats. If it was not the Muslim world I might take it seriously. But then it wouldn’t be the Muslim world.

Oh yes, and why do you think the Alawis are pretending to be secular? What possible motive would they have for pretending to be secular? A more plausible explanation would seem to be that they are secular, but since they’re Muslims you find this implausible.

Because they are a minority in a majority Sunni country. What are they going to do – try to enforce Alawi religious law? They have to pretend to be secular because only a secular state can give them equal status and allow them to rule. Just as Saddam pretended to be secular. As a minority in a Shia country. What was he going to do – openly flaunt his Sunni-dom? How many Shia would buy into that?

I’m not arguing for intervention; I think it could be disastrous in this case, but I don’t want “both sides to lose” just because they’re Muslim. Democracy is better than no democracy.

I agree democracy is better than no democracy. But that is not an option on the table here. The choices are an Allawi mass murderer or a Sunni mass murderer. Your choice.

Syrai also has one of the most advanced air defence networks in africa and the middle east. Even implementing a no-fly zone would be decidedly non-trivial, and as the OP says, they also have a large, well equipped and trained standing army.

That’s not to say NATO couldn’t intervene, but the scale of intervention would have to be more on the scale of Iraq or Afghanistan rather than Libya. Given the fallout of the Iraq and Afghan campaigns, and the forces tied up there, as well as the reserves needed to counter any Iranian threat, it’s not hard to see why NATO aren’t rushing to get involved.

If the Syrian rebels cause was hopeless, the regime would have put it down totally a year ago.

They have the arms, the men and resources to crush it inside of a week. Do they lack the will do so? That’s another question, the answer to which becomes more tricky and nuanced every hour.

The regime is strong. That much is clear. But it’s clearly not so strong that it can put down this rebellion without even trying, or indeed without trying really hard for almost a year.

And the rebels numbers swell daily.

How many tanks did the Viet Cong have…?

Of course there is another reason not to get involved that is not often mentioned- that it is none of our business. The history of interventions shows that they usually do more harm than good.

In this case, the Western media, flushed with our “success” in Libya, is cranking up the pre-war propaganda and licking their lips but, unless they have had a nod and a wink from the Foreign Office, I think they have got this one wrong.

Relatively speaking, Syria hasn’t got much oil and that’s really the only thing that would make the effort worthwhile.

Cristina Odone was on Question Time last night calling for arms to be sent to the rebels. But wasn’t sure exactly who they were and what might be the result of it.
She seemed exactly the kind of person you should ignore in situations like this.

The best thing I’ve heard is that a list was being drawn up of all the top people in the Syrian government and army, and that these people were going to be told that they were going to be accountable for their actions.
It might make them think twice. A middle or high ranking army officer in charge of some of these battalions bombarding Homs, might be concerned that he has been put on a blacklist, and that he and his family will have no carefree future in Syria.
Even worse if they know that all the rebels know who they are and where they and their family live too. Exile in Iran might not seem like such a rosy option.

“But that is not an option on the table here. The choices are an Allawi mass murderer or a Sunni mass murderer. Your choice.”

Or the way of unfortunately slow but sometimes effective diplomacy of getting monitors on the ground, trying to get humanitarian aid in, using the flawed institutions of the UN etc, and then developing relationships with the sane parts of all the sides in an effort to strengthen them. I wish tories would get out the mindset that you have to pick between people.

Here’s an interesting theory though; the egyptian military didn’t let Mubarak turn Cairo into a bloodbath because their wives enjoy shopping in Milan. The syrian military doesn’t go to europe and hence have less to lose.

“Arming the Rebels” unilaterally is rarely good policy or wise – we armed the KLA to get back at the Serbs for Srebrinizia, prior to carpet bombing Belgrade.

Big mistake. The KLA were terrorist thugs going around faking massacres to bring NATO into the war on their side.

We intervened on behalf of some really bad people.

Which produces an outcome not nearly so bad as if you back them and they still loose – you’re stuck with the same regime as before, only now you have to do business with them after you just tried to overthrow them. Bay of Pigs, anyone?

Trying it and doing it is one thing; but once you decide to try it, you have to be totally committed to seeing it through to the end and you can’t know always what that end will be.

Pagar (#8)

Relatively speaking, Syria hasn’t got much oil and that’s really the only thing that would make the effort worthwhile.

Both Syria and the EU say otherwise… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Syria#Oil

13. the a&e charge nurse

Syria is more of the same, I’m afraid.
All it proves is that we (as a species) have never been able to develop an effective mechanism to curb excesses of power – and we probably never will.

The UN is a laughing stock while the likes of NATO is clearly driven by regional interests – in any event, when it suits them, the US can simply act in accordance with it’s own conscience without worrying too much about international opinion
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blum/US_Interventions_WBlumZ.html

At some point in the not too distant future the stakes will be far higher (nukes) – I, for one, am resigned to expect the worst.

jungle

…the rebels are definitely calling for democracy, not Saudi-style rule by religious leaders. I think if they were not in the Muslim world you’d probably take that at face value. If they wanted rule by Caliphs and Imams, why wouldn’t they be calling for that?

The rebels in Tunisia and Egypt weren’t calling for governments that made Islam “the principle source of legislation” but that’s what they’ve got. That’s not to say that one should hope they lose but that they aren’t particularly trustworthy.

15. organic cheeseboard

note, too, the nature of our allies in Libya now they’re in power. actually worse than Gadaffi.

Syria, as it was, is over. That much is clear. You don’t win a civil war on this scale and just carry on. This is an epoch defining moment in Syrian history and frankly I don’t see it ending soon, if ever. When you get a good number of hardcore rebels like this you can’t just roll the army over them, they come back over and over again. We saw the same with the Afghan and Iraq wars.

The media has tried to add a sense of urgency to the Syrian war, as it did with Libya, but there is no urgency. This war is a year old and it’s not going anywhere. Syria can’t win this and stroll away from the crime scene, because winning this, in any sort of meaningful way, would require an act of genocide.

I agree with the earlier point that the rebels naturally are claiming to be democratic because that’s what gets them help. The Libyans claimed the same thing, although they sure as hell didn’t act like it and how are elections there going anyway? If you want to get sponsored by NATO as a proxy then you have to make the right noises.

And this probably all sounds horribly callous, but really it’s just a situation that we in Britain cannot fix and can’t really afford to try. Really the news coverage would be better covering Greece, since that’s, you know, important and relevant.

@ 12

From your link

“Syria produces relatively modest quantities of oil and gas”.

Think that’s what I said.

@16

Syria can’t win this

To borrow a commentary on the Kosovo War and the Troubles, I’ve yet to hear an explanation as to how a country can declare war on itself.

What exactly therefore does “Syria winning” look like?

There are only 3 broad outcomes to this:- restoration of the previous status quo (albeit perhaps with reforms or promise of same), reigime change or partition.

If the current battle lines solidify and the stalemate sets in, partition, probably under UN Mandate becomes most likely and with the possibly lone/partial exception of Korea, we know how that usually plays out.

For “Syria winning”, I take you to mean that the reigime wins, puts down the rebellion and retains power – I agree, at the moment it seems increasingly less likely that they can win based on current performance, otherwise they would have already and there are too many areas of the country they no longer control.

But while the reigime may struggle to “win” right now, they can certainly put off loosing and prolong the bloodshed by years of needs be and exact a price by slaughtering the rebels by the thousand until its another Beruit.

As it is, with no UN Security Council Mandate to calm things down or balance the scales, we’ve got another Balkan War scenario on our hands that could go on for years.

Greece, by the way, lest we forget, is also a Balkan Country and lacking in wealth and natural resources… And were it not for 60 years of US ecconomic aid from 1947 onwards to prevent it going Red (along with Turkey), leading to subsequent EU entry, Greece today would be more like Albania, Serbia or Romania. That makes it a real global flashpoint.

But that’s another matter altogether.

All of those calling for intervention should take a visit to Libya and see what the last one did. It doesn’t look too pretty, as far as I can see.

In the news on Friday night, Saudi Arabia is calling for the arming of the opposition in Syria and William Hague, the UK’s foreign minister, has announced that the British government is to recognise the Syrian National Council as the ‘legitimate respresentative’ of the country.

@6. Tyler: “Syrai also has one of the most advanced air defence networks in africa and the middle east.”

Fair comment, but what happened at the Al Kibar nuclear plant in Syria? Did Israel bomb it or did it explode of own accord?

22. flyingrodent

I reckon it speaks volumes that this thread has been open all day, and there’s no pile-on for intervention. Trust me, it wasn’t like this with Libya.

I think everyone hopes for the best possible outcome in Syria, as quickly as possible, even if it looks grim beyond belief right now. I’m not sure what else we can really do. I’m taking it as a sign that we’re capable of recognising the limits of our capabilities, given the lack of enthusiasm for spreading the bloodshed around the entire country.

23. flyingrodent

William Hague, the UK’s foreign minister, has announced that the British government is to recognise the Syrian National Council as the ‘legitimate respresentative’ of the country.

That’s ridiculous, of course – the SNC is so riven with division that it barely represents itself, and even then it can only speak for around half the country. It’s a gesture of solidarity, which is fine, but it’s not achieving much.

Mind you, this is how it all started in Libya.

@22. flyingrodent: “I reckon it speaks volumes that this thread has been open all day, and there’s no pile-on for intervention. Trust me, it wasn’t like this with Libya.”

What about Libya? I welcomed intervention but I was not stupid to assume that people think like me.

25. flyingrodent

What about Libya?

Well, it attracted around five times as many comments, which should tell you that it was a much more controversial issue i.e. there were many, many people arguing in favour. Which doesn’t seem to be the case here.

26. So Much For Subtlety

10. Planeshift

Or the way of unfortunately slow but sometimes effective diplomacy of getting monitors on the ground, trying to get humanitarian aid in, using the flawed institutions of the UN etc, and then developing relationships with the sane parts of all the sides in an effort to strengthen them. I wish tories would get out the mindset that you have to pick between people.

The last time I recall that happening was in Zimbabwe. Do tell me about the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade. In civil wars the bigger murderer always wins. Not only can’t you strengthen all sides, but the sane parts are by definition going to lose. On both sides. This is a civil war. It is a zero sum game. Either the Sunnis get to massacre innocent Alawis – because all the regime leaders will be in exile in Paris by then – or the Alawis will get to massacre Sunnis – because they won’t give a sh!t who is guilty and who is innocent. That is it. You can, if you really really want, try to pick both, and you will get innocent people on both sides massacred, but in the end one side or the other is going to come out on top and will have a new round of atrocities to revenge.

Here’s an interesting theory though; the egyptian military didn’t let Mubarak turn Cairo into a bloodbath because their wives enjoy shopping in Milan. The syrian military doesn’t go to europe and hence have less to lose.

I am sure there is a lot to that. Probably why our friends always lose in the Middle East and our enemies always win. But on the plus side, their wives will be able to shop in Milan full time now. Like the King of Egypt.

@23

‘That’s ridiculous, of course – the SNC is so riven with division that it barely represents itself, and even then it can only speak for around half the country. It’s a gesture of solidarity, which is fine, but it’s not achieving much.’

Wait are you talking about the Syrian rebel government or the British one now?

28. So Much For Subtlety

15. organic cheeseboard

note, too, the nature of our allies in Libya now they’re in power. actually worse than Gadaffi.

Really? How many airlines have they blown up over Scotland? How many tons of weapons have they sent to terrorists like the PIRA? How many policewomen have they shot? They are simply doing what they have always done. It is too soon to say if they will be worse than Gaddafi domestically – probably not – but they are clearly better internationally.

Monglor

Syria, as it was, is over. That much is clear. You don’t win a civil war on this scale and just carry on.

Really? So not like Russia then which fought a Civil War which killed more Russians than WW1 did? In what sense was Russia “over”?

When you get a good number of hardcore rebels like this you can’t just roll the army over them, they come back over and over again. We saw the same with the Afghan and Iraq wars.

That is why States built on the Soviet model have security forces that come along after the Army and shoot anyone they think might pose a threat. So that they cannot come back over and over again. That is why Saddam had no problems between the First Gulf War ended with the crushing of the Shia and the Second Gulf War.

Syria can’t win this and stroll away from the crime scene, because winning this, in any sort of meaningful way, would require an act of genocide.

Which the world will ignore. Because Syrians are not exactly white. And they hate Jews. Both good reasons for the “international community” (ie almost 200 non-White Jew-hating countries that make up the UN) to look the other way.

As they always do.

Spike1138

To borrow a commentary on the Kosovo War and the Troubles, I’ve yet to hear an explanation as to how a country can declare war on itself.

That is either naive or, well, more naive. Read some history. The process of civil war is not complex. They usually do not start with declarations.

If the current battle lines solidify and the stalemate sets in, partition, probably under UN Mandate becomes most likely and with the possibly lone/partial exception of Korea, we know how that usually plays out.

How does that usually play out? Except through re-unification?

Bob B

In the news on Friday night, Saudi Arabia is calling for the arming of the opposition in Syria and William Hague, the UK’s foreign minister, has announced that the British government is to recognise the Syrian National Council as the ‘legitimate respresentative’ of the country.

Saudi Arabia, as the largest supporter of Sunni Islamism, naturally supports Sunni Islamists. This is just sectarianism.

flyingrodent

I think everyone hopes for the best possible outcome in Syria, as quickly as possible, even if it looks grim beyond belief right now.

Yeah but what is the best outcome? Keep in mind a large section of the Left has been sucking up to Syria for decades partly because they got paid but mostly because Syria hated Israel. It is unlikely that even here on LC a defeat of Asad would be universally viewed as a good thing if it led to peace with Israel.

I’m not sure what else we can really do. I’m taking it as a sign that we’re capable of recognising the limits of our capabilities, given the lack of enthusiasm for spreading the bloodshed around the entire country.

Actually we could probably bomb the crap out of the Syrian government and do pretty much what we did in Libya. We would have to buy the anti-AA equipment Israel invested in and which we did not. We would have an advantage in that we have near by bases. We might need to un-moth-ball some planes. But there was no reason to be involved in Libya. There is less in Syria.

@28

Really?  How many airlines have they blown up over Scotland?

Exactly the same as Gaddafi’s reigime – zero.

Lockerbie was done by Palestinians operating out of Southern Lebanon, backed by the Iranians. Everyone knows that. Except Alex Sammond and some of the families who refuse to believe it.

That’s why Al-Megrahi was let out of Scottish prisionnand sent home after less than two years by an English Home Secretary and sent home without consulting Sammond or the Scottish Parliament.

Gaddafi certainly wasn’t nice – he prolonged The Troubles by at least 20 Years during the long war and living in Britian during the 80s, bombs, bullets and the training he had provided certainly meant that indirectly, he tried to kill me every day throughout that period, but Lockerbie was not him.

And no-one ever claimed that it was until Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Even Thatcher states catagorically in her memoirs that Libyan terror attacks abroad stopped completely following the 1986 raids on Tripoli and Benghazi.

It was Iran.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNipmSY65-M

@28

Which the world will ignore. Because Syrians are not exactly white. And they hate Jews. Both good reasons for the “international community” (ie almost 200 non-White Jew-hating countries that make up the UN) to look the other way.

As they always do.

Well done. Except for the fact that the UN is already building a case for Crimes Against Humanity Charges against the reigime. And I don’t think anti-Semitism can really be said to be either the primary or a main motivator in events, here.

Also, there were Crimes Against Humanity war crimes trials resulting from the Balkan Wars. No jews involved there. Get off that tip, it’s limiting your thinking.

31. So Much For Subtlety

29. Spike1138

Exactly the same as Gaddafi’s reigime – zero.

Lockerbie was done by Palestinians operating out of Southern Lebanon, backed by the Iranians. Everyone knows that. Except Alex Sammond and some of the families who refuse to believe it.

And Libya’s former Justice Minister. Who has said Gaddafi personally ordered it.

But what would he know?

Oh, and don’t forget the Scottish legal system. They thought he did it too.

That’s why Al-Megrahi was let out of Scottish prisionnand sent home after less than two years by an English Home Secretary and sent home without consulting Sammond or the Scottish Parliament.

Meanwhile on this planet, Al-Megrahi was in prison from 2001 to 2009. Not less than two years. And he was freed by the Scottish government. The British Home Secretary – there is no English Home Secretary – has no authority over the Scottish legal system of note.

So given you’re entirely wrong about pretty much everything, are you sure you want to continue to make this absurd claims?

@26

To borrow a commentary on the Kosovo War and the Troubles, I’ve yet to hear an explanation as to how a country can declare war on itself.

That is either naive or, well, more naive. Read some history. The process of civil war is not complex. They usually do not start with declarations.

I think that was at least half my point, SMS.

Someone said – “Syria can’t win this”, to which I replied “What does Syria winning look like?” – if a country goes to war with itself and at least one side of the combatants are regular civilians, it’s rare that there will be any definitive beginning or end to it… The two sides just start and stop killing one another and skirmishing fairly arbitrarily until usually a stalemate sets in.

I know that from studying history, you see.

How does that usually play out?  Except through re-unification?

You mean like India and Pakistan, Bangledesh and Burma, Nigeria and Biafra, Berlin, Ulster and the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Northern Cyprus, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Palestine, the Union and the Confederacy?

Not well.

You should read some history.

33. So Much For Subtlety

30. Spike1138

Well done. Except for the fact that the UN is already building a case for Crimes Against Humanity Charges against the reigime. And I don’t think anti-Semitism can really be said to be either the primary or a main motivator in events, here.

Let’s wait to see if they carry it through. Compare with the UN’s foot dragging over, say, Cambodia’s War Crimes Trials.

Also, there were Crimes Against Humanity war crimes trials resulting from the Balkan Wars. No jews involved there. Get off that tip, it’s limiting your thinking.

But they were White.

@SMS


And Libya’s former Justice Minister.  Who has said Gaddafi personally ordered it.

Oh, well it must be true, then. Because he said so.

Oh, and don’t forget the Scottish legal system.  They thought he did it too.

No, they convicted the suspects produced. The courts did not rule on motive. If you go and murder Lyndsay Lohan, it doesn’t follow that Britain is to blame or that you did so because David Cameron told you to do it. They may have had foreknowledge. They may have turned a blind eye or given the plotters cover and safe have , but so did several governments. That’s not the same thing.

Meanwhile on this planet, Al-Megrahi was in prison from 2001 to 2009.  Not less than two years.

Two years from conviction and sentencing, not arrest.

Professor Robert Black, an expert in Scots law who devised the non-jury trial that saw the Lockerbie case heard in 2000, has called Megrahi’s murder conviction “the most disgraceful miscarriage of justice in Scotland for 100 years”. Prof Black said he felt “a measure of personal responsibility” for persuading Libya to allow Megrahi and his co-accused, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhima, who was acquitted, to stand trial under Scots law.

“I have written about this and nobody is interested. Every lawyer who has … read the judgment says ‘this is nonsense’. It is nonsense. It really distresses me; I won’t let it go.”[83]

In 2007 Professor Black has written that he is “satisfied that not only was there a wrongful conviction [of Megrahi], but the victim of it was an innocent man. Lawyers, and I hope others, will appreciate this distinction.”

35. So Much For Subtlety

34. Spike1138

Oh, well it must be true, then. Because he said so.

Well if the alternative is because you say so, then yes, because he said so. You have nothing. He was, you know, actually there.

No, they convicted the suspects produced. The courts did not rule on motive.

I am sorry but this is an episode of Punked, right? No one can be this ignorant of, well, everything. Obviously Courts always rule on motive. That is their job. There is no crime without motive. And yes, they convicted the suspects produced. They did not say the Iranians did it. They looked at the evidence and they were convinced that these two men did it – convinced beyond reasonable doubt. While you have …. nothing.

If you go and murder Lyndsay Lohan, it doesn’t follow that Britain is to blame or that you did so because David Cameron told you to do it. They may have had foreknowledge. They may have turned a blind eye or given the plotters cover and safe have , but so did several governments. That’s not the same thing.

True. But if on the other hand I have motive and I work for Dave, some questions, at least, need to be asked. They were not convicted of foreknowledge but of buying the clothing that was in the suitcase with the bomb. That sort of thing. You know, direct involvement.

Two years from conviction and sentencing, not arrest.

Don’t believe me, believe Wikipedia. It is really like dealing with trained seals around here sometimes:

On 31 January 2001, Megrahi was convicted, by a panel of three Scottish judges sitting in a special court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, of 270 counts of murder for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. …. Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds by the Scottish Government on 20 August 2009 following doctors reporting on 10 August 2009 that he had terminal prostate cancer and was expected to have around three months to live.[5][6]

If you object, take it up with them.

In 2007 Professor Black has written that he is “satisfied that not only was there a wrongful conviction [of Megrahi], but the victim of it was an innocent man. Lawyers, and I hope others, will appreciate this distinction.”

As he was not at the trial, his opinion is worthless. It also does not prove Iran did it or that Libya was not involved.

@35

Well if the alternative is because you say so, then yes, because he said so. You have nothing.

The FBI was saying that it was Iran right up until August 1990, and that’s where all the evidence pointed. The only evidence submitted at the trial and ruled admissible by the court linking Al-Megrahi and Libya at the trial was one half-crazy Maltese tailor who testified that he had seen him in his shop 12 years earlier for a total of about 20 seconds, during which time he positively, absolutely certainly identified him AND knew just by looking at him that he was Libyan. Definitely.

He was, you know, actually there.

So he says. And you assume he has no reason to lie. What about all those reports given in congressional testimony over the invasion of Kuwait about Iraqi soldiers pulling Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and dumping them on the floor of the maternity ward? Never happened. The Serb KLA massacre that turned out to have been largely staged by the KLA to bring NATO into the war against Belgrade? All those anti-Ba’athist Iraqi dissident exiles feeding a constant stream of crap to the CIA to bolster the case for war?

Obviously Courts always rule on motive.  That is their job.  There is no crime without motive.

No, they don’t. They rule on guilt or innocence. Motive is irrelevant to that consideration, unless you’re prosecuting on the basis of a hate crime (which is a stupid term anyway), in which case you have to convince the court that they were motivated by group hatred rather than personal malice directed towards the individual.

The court (there was no jury in this case, let’s remember) convicted one suspect, whilst acquitting the other on all charges – the opinion of the court therefore was “We are convinced that he did it”, but making no ruling or formal opinion as to how or why.

If motive alone established guilt, most Poirot stories would be pretty predictable and they would ALL turn out like Murder on the Orient Express.

@35

They looked at the evidence and they were convinced that these two men did it – convinced beyond reasonable doubt.

Completely untrue. And actually libelous. Al-Megrahi’s co-defendant was acquitted of all charges and had a watertight alibi placing him in Sweden at the time. He physically couldn’t have been where the prosecution says he was win Al-Megrahi at the time to plot the bombing.

I seem to recall the co-defendant’s alibi was actually supplied by the CIA via the State Department or the Swedish Police – he was actually their chief informer and source for intelligence about Islamist groups for all of Scandanvia, which made his possible guilt or complicity (I think he *was* probably guilty, personally) all the more embarrassing.

@35

True. But if on the other hand I have motive and I work for Dave, some questions, at least, need to be asked. They were not convicted of foreknowledge but of buying the clothing that was in the suitcase with the bomb. That sort of thing. You know, direct involvement.

You’re obviously no fan of conspiracy theories, so let me ask you this – Lee Harvey Oswald was trained to shoot by Uncle Sam, does that fact make the US Government responsible for any action he commits independently after that?

He may well have done it (you notice that I don’t anywhere mention my personal belief that he *didn’t* do it), but that does not mean, even if did do it, that he was acting under instructions or even if they knew what he was doing beforehand.

There’s no firm evidence that he ever worked for the Libyan security service.

The evidence tying him to the store in Malta where the clothes were bought is so weak it should never have been entered into evidence (the Prosecutor Fiscal describing the only witness basically as being mad).

I personally think that he was hung out to dry by Gaddafi (with Al-Megrahi’s consent, in exchange for a massive pension for his family in exchange for his silence until he died) as a quid pro quo to allow Libya to rejoin the international community on the “right” side in the War on Terror. He may have done it. He may even have done it with Gaddafi’s knowledge and tacit approval. But Iran initiated the whole thing and Libya, if they were actively involved at all at a state level, were the junior partner.

@35

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Köchler%27s_Lockerbie_trial_observer_mission

http://i-p-o.org/IPO-Lockerbie-nr-28Aug2007.htm

Lockerbie case: new accusations of manipulation of key forensic evidence
Statement of Dr. Hans Koechler, international observer appointed by the United Nations at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands (2000-2002),
on a key witness’s admission of perjury in the Lockerbie Trial

Köchler had characterized the initial trial verdict of 31 January 2001 (which had led to the acquittal of one of the two accused Libyans) as “inconsistent” and “arbitrary”. On the day of the announcement of the appeal verdict (14 March 2002) he described the dismissal of the convicted Libyan national’s appeal as a “spectacular miscarriage of justice”.

“Irrespective of the outcome of the current appeal, there should be a reinvestigation of the incident by the Scottish authorities. It is extremely frustrating that with regard to such an incident just one person has been presented as the culprit and no further questions asked. Only a child would believe such a story.”

“Whether those in public office like it or not, the Lockerbie trial has become a test case for the criminal justice system of Scotland. At the same time, it has become an exemplary case on a global scale – its handling will demonstrate whether a domestic system of criminal justice can resist the dictates of international power politics or simply becomes dysfunctional as soon as “supreme state interests” interfere with the imperatives of justice. (…) The fairness of judicial proceedings is undoubtedly a supreme and permanent public interest. If the rule of law is to be upheld, the requirements of the administration of justice may have to take precedence over public interests of a secondary order – such as a state’s momentary foreign policy considerations or commercial and trade interests. The internal stability and international legitimacy of a polity in the long term depend on whether it is able to ensure the supremacy of the law over considerations of power and convenience.”

Also, as for my earlier quote from Professor Robert Black QC, FRSA, FRSE, FFCS, ILTM who, is THE world’s authority on Scots law currently living, commenting upon THE most crucial, high profile and politically sensitive ever tried under Scottish law probably in all history, it’s pretty offensive and presumptuous for you to refer to the opinion of the Emeritus Professor of Scots Law at the University of Edinburgh’s opinion on the verdict and the case against the accused as being “worthless” because “he wasn’t there”.

I’m pretty sure that he knows more about it than either you or me put together, followed every new development intently and attended the court proceedings themselves as much as his position allowed him to do.

I feel confident saying that if he believes the trial was a sham and a travesty and a shambles, undermined by global geopolitical pressures externally and the verdict and judgement not worth the paper it was printed on, he knows what he’s talking about and we should probably pay attention to what he says.

Or do you feel differently? Perhaps you find the mad, Maltese tailor who saw someone once for 30 seconds 20 years ago to be a better or more reliable and credible source of information than him?

So Much For Subtlety

Hope Spike doesn’t mind me piling in.

Oh, and don’t forget the Scottish legal system. They thought he did it too.

In 2001, yes, but six years on the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission stated that there are no reasonable grounds on which to trust much of the evidence the prosecution depended on, and referred his case for an appeal.

And Libya’s former Justice Minister. Who has said Gaddafi personally ordered it.

He’s produced no evidence to substantiate this claim. It’s odd, in fact, if Gaddafi was the architect of the bombings, that we’ve seen no witnesses or documents exposed since his toppling. It needn’t mean they don’t exist, of course, but it’s reason to be sceptical.

He was, you know, actually there.

No, he wasn’t. He was made Gaddafi’s Justice Minister in 2007.

They looked at the evidence and they were convinced that these two men did it – convinced beyond reasonable doubt.

Oh dear. They acquitted Fhima, SMFS.

They were not convicted of foreknowledge but of buying the clothing that was in the suitcase with the bomb. That sort of thing. You know, direct involvement.

The claim that Megrahi brought the clothing is, as the SCCRC ruled, extremely dubious. The witness statements of Tony Gauci, the shopkeeper, are inconsistent; the process by which he identified the accused man were said by experts to be “unfair” and it’s highly doubtful that he was even in Malta on the date the clothing was procured.

None of this, as far as I’m aware, means that Megrahi, Gaddafi or any Libyan wasn’t involved in the attack. But if we’re going to conclude they were, on any reasonable basis, we’d need more and better evidence.

@35

Margaret Thatcher commenting on the effectiveness of the 1986 bombing raid on Tripoli and Benghazi in preventing further state-sponsored Libyan terrorism:-

“It turned out to be a more decisive blow against Libyan-sponsored terrorism than I could ever have imagined. …There were revenge killings of British hostages organized by Libya, which I bitterly regretted. But the much-vaunted Libyan counter attack did not and could not take place… There was a marked decline in Libyan-sponsored terrorism in succeeding years” (Thatcher 1993, pp448-9).

Now, granted, she may already have been going ga-ga by that stage, but even if she were and even if that passage were partially ghosted, she’s not likely to have just forgotten about 270 dead passengers, crew and rural Scottish lowlanders dead on British soil, nor would it be in her character to dismiss it lightly.

Lockerbie occurred on her watch and the FBI and State Department had already made their unequivocal announcement that they had uncovered definitive proof linking the bombing to Libya and placing blame solely with Gaddafi and no other state sponser by 1991.

It’s not reasonable to conclude therefore that she was unaware of these preliminary (subsequently claimed as conclusive) allegations of Libyan culpability. She was offered the opportunity in print to either repudiate or endorse them, instead she opted instead to ingnore them.

If we take as read the notion that she knew of and had looked into the allegations, it’s not hard to conclude that she either didn’t take them seriously or just didn’t believe them.

Margaret Thatcher at that point in her life was many things. She wasn’t naive or uninformed, she certainly wasn’t thick and she certainly wasn’t gullible.

If she was skeptical, it was for good reason.

42. So Much For Subtlety

36. Spike1138

The FBI was saying that it was Iran right up until August 1990, and that’s where all the evidence pointed.

Evidence? But so what? These Bilderberger conspiracies are pretty lame if they can’t even keep the FBI on side.

The only evidence submitted at the trial and ruled admissible by the court linking Al-Megrahi and Libya at the trial was one half-crazy Maltese tailor who testified that he had seen him in his shop 12 years earlier for a total of about 20 seconds, during which time he positively, absolutely certainly identified him AND knew just by looking at him that he was Libyan. Definitely.

Well no. First of all they had the bomb timer. Which was manufactured by a Swiss company. Which sold it to the Libyans. They also had a Maltese tailor who said al-Megrahi bought the clothes in the suitcase on December 7th. Not 12 years earlier. Why do you lie so badly?

No, they don’t. They rule on guilt or innocence. Motive is irrelevant to that consideration, unless you’re prosecuting on the basis of a hate crime (which is a stupid term anyway), in which case you have to convince the court that they were motivated by group hatred rather than personal malice directed towards the individual.

As anyone who had so much legal knowledge as might be gained from watching, I don’t know, Inspector Morse, Courts rule on motive. It is their job. There is never a crime without a criminal motive (to a first order approximation). You need to have mens rea to make an act illegal more or less. A homicide is either murder, or manslaughter or justified or an accident based entirely on motive. Courts have to decide on the motive all the time. It is their job. Juries decide on guilt.

The court (there was no jury in this case, let’s remember) convicted one suspect, whilst acquitting the other on all charges – the opinion of the court therefore was “We are convinced that he did it”, but making no ruling or formal opinion as to how or why.

Obviously the how came up at trial. The why is not their job.

If motive alone established guilt, most Poirot stories would be pretty predictable and they would ALL turn out like Murder on the Orient Express.

First of all I did not say motive established guilt. Secondly motive is often hard to determine. That makes trials all the more interesting.

Spike1138

You’re obviously no fan of conspiracy theories, so let me ask you this – Lee Harvey Oswald was trained to shoot by Uncle Sam, does that fact make the US Government responsible for any action he commits independently after that?

Of course not. But al-M was employed by the Libyan government at the time.

The evidence tying him to the store in Malta where the clothes were bought is so weak it should never have been entered into evidence (the Prosecutor Fiscal describing the only witness basically as being mad).

They got an eyewitness. It is not nothing.

@41

 These Bilderberger conspiracies are pretty lame if they can’t even keep the FBI on side.

I like Icke.

(You’re only jelous because the Lizard people don’t invite you on their golfing retreat every year so you can hang out with David Owen and Henry Kissenger. I bet you really fancy Henry Kissenger. I bet you wish you were his boyfriend. You do, don’t you?)

(I bet you do…)

Well no.  First of all they had the bomb timer.  Which was manufactured by a Swiss company.

Of course! The Swiss did it!

(Just kidding. Keep playing with Ocam’s Razor so close, you’re liable to cut yourself.)

The timer – it’s a key and crucial bit of evidence. In fact, it’s fair to say that the entire criminal case, if not the entire crash investigation, hinges on the provenance and credibility of that particular forensic exhibit.

Except no-one has been able establish where exactly it was found on the ground, how it came to be entered into the chain of evidence and therefore what condition it was in when found, compared to when it was exhibited in court.

This is basic, really quite fundamental policework – the recent Stephen Lawrence convictions were only possible because evidence (in that instance clothing, with barely visible bloodstains on it) had been bagged, tagged and preserved intact to be tested years later.

In this case, the timer fragment just appeared suddenly in the FBI’s evidence store, with no explanation of where it cam from or how long they had had it.

The chain of evidence is very important in criminal investigations, which is why, for instance that detectives used to often mark gun cartridges or bullets found at the scene with their initials and such, so as to be sure that the bullets and cases tested and presented to the court are the same ones. Otherwise, anyone could just present a random, unrelated bullet from another gun and just….

Good Lord…. SMS, is this *your* kilo of fresh, uncut Columbian cocaine I’ve just “found” right here on your coffee table..? Looks like in a great deal of trouble, sunshine!

The case for timer itself as evidence or proof of anything is deeply flawed in several key respects – most notably, the FBI refused all requests to test it for residual traces of explosive (which it should have been covered in, given that it was allegedly right next to when it exploded), claiming that it was too small to test but yet still refusing to let anyone else try and have a go anyway.

The prosecution also had several, detailed reports casting serious doubt on the accuracy and usefulness of the forensic findings and value of the timer fragment, which were withheld from the defence, totally illegally – the prosecution was heavily stressing the reliability and significance of the official FBI forensic reports, when in reality, they knew them to be deeply flawed and compromised, most notably in as much as the lab official who performed and signed off on the forensic reports was shortly after effectively fired from the FBI for falsifying forensic reports on other cases.

Even if the timer was what the prosecution claimed it was, and even if it had been part of the trigger for the bomb, and even if it could be traced from the Swiss manufacturer, back to a batch sold to Libya, it doesn’t prove that the man in the dock (either of them, including the other one with the cast iron alibi, who was supposedly Al-Megrahi’s accomplice) did it, it doesn’t prove that Libya did it and it doesn’t prove that the shipment of parts sent from Bern to Tripoli ended there without some or all of it being filched, fenced, misappropriated or just flat-out nicked.

There are something like 60 Million AK-47s on the planet – but for precisely that reason, if I ever find myself at the business end of one, I’m not going to assume the bloke doing the shooting is a Soviet soldier and I’m not going to presume that he’s threatening to do me in with the thing because Uncle Joe Stalin ordered him to.

That timer evidence would’ve been thrown out of court summarily if the prosecution hadn’t lied and covered up how shoddy the forensics were, and it probably should have been anyway…

And yet that’s basically their entire case; that and the mad tailor.

You couldn’t hang a hat on that.

Bollier testified at the trial that the Scottish police had originally shown him a fragment of a brown 8-ply circuit board, of a prototype timer which had never been supplied to Libya. Yet the sample he was asked to identify at the trial was a green 9-ply circuit board that Mebo had indeed supplied to Libya. Bollier wanted to pursue this discrepancy, but was told by trial Judge, Lord Sutherland, that he could not do so.

It’s not the same timer the guy supplied to al-Megrahi, and it’s not the same timer he claims (and must have therefore records to support his objection) he EVER supplied to the Libyan Government.

It’s manufactured evidence. Worse still, it’s BADLY manufactured evidence, and the Judge presiding clearly realizes that and is complicit in fudging over the inconsistency.

Forget the magic bullet, this is like finding the magic bullet with the gunpowder and cartridge casing still attached.

They also had a Maltese tailor who said al-Megrahi bought the clothes in the suitcase on December 7th.  Not 12 years earlier.

Yeah, he’s a completely useless witness. He’s more attention-seeking and eager to please than the old man downstairs in 12 Angry Men.

Yes, he did identify Al-Megrahi’s mugshot when shown it by police and the FBI, but only AFTER several failed attempts to pick him out until heavily prompted, having first picked out several other people shown to him as placeholders, Al-Megrahi’s co-defendant – the one with the cast-iron alibi in Sweden (he picked him out TWICE before fingering Al-Megrahi as the man who had been in his shop buying clothes) and the unindicted THIRD alleged plotter, who escaped indictment because he was the key informer on Islamic terror in Scandanavia at the time, and he effectively had to be offered immunity in order to get him to do the dirty on the other two.

Gauci’s testimony is worthless – the Lord Advocate of Scotland at the time called him “two apples short of a picnic”, he isn’t even vaguely credible.

You could have shown him mug shots of Kenny Everett, Bob Carrolgees and Spit and he would have enthusiastically confirmed to you that those were *exactly* the three men that came into his shop that morning (only he can’t actually accurately remember what morning exactly that was…), that they left with a large suitcase that sounded for all the world as if it might be ticking and that he’s pretty sure he overheard parts of their conversation with one another regarding the Sharon Tate murders and how absolutely certain he is that they killed her too.

You have absolute unshakeable faith in the word of a barking mad Maltese tailor with a consistent record of fabrication and generally being a total fantacist sycophant, as well as an FBI forensics report compiled by a lab tech who was removed from the FBI for falsifying forensic reports and yet you treat every remark and reasoned out opinion I might have on the matter as being gullible cloud-cookoo tosh almost beneath contempt… How do you suppose that makes me feel, eh?

Pretty bloody relieved, actually!

Oh, SMS – Baby! I mean, really, I didn’t realize you cared! Here was me, thinking you were just a stuffy, crypto-fascist contrarian reactionary who just throws in with the winning team in power because there’s nothing more rebellious than embracing the anti-hip, establishment, middle-class path to common sense and plain talking (kind of like David Mitchell, only without the sense of humour and more brutally suppressed anxieties over inadequacy); but I can see no that you never really meant all those ridiculous things you say… You just said it to keep me interested with your bland, passive-aggressive Machiavellian pretensions to down-to-earth political reality.

How sweet of you.

I think we should both get a room right now, just the two of us: you can read aloud and quote verbatim from G.Gordon Liddy and Bob Haldeman’s Watergate autobiographies about how they never did anything wrong, Richard Nixon was a warm, sweet, marshmallow of a human being and they were all hounded out of office by the Liberals and the Queers and the Pinkos at the CIA and the Washington Post and I can listen quietly before explaining back to you why that’s not actually true and how wrong you are, whilst administering an ever-so-light whipping.

I know you’d really like that.

@42

They got an eyewitness. It is not nothing.

Trust me, with that witness, it’s less than nothing.

Even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day, true, but I doubt Gauci could tie his own shoes without assistance, much less wind his watch or deliver honest and consistent testimony on the stand.

He’s not an eyewitness. He didn’t see any crime. What’s he a witness to? Someone, who may or may not have been Al-Megrahi, either alone or with one or more other people (he isn’t sure) came into his shop on the day in question (only it could have been another day altogether – this is all from his statements on the witness stand) and bought some clothes.

Clothes which the prosecution claim were packed on top of the bomb in the suitcase

Let’s take as read that those clothes *did* indeed end up in the case with the bomb. Let’s also assume, for the sake of argument that it was indeed Al-Megrahi who bought them and Gauci’s identification of him is correct and right on the money (which is far from proven at this stage, to say the least, but let’s ignore that for now);

What did Gauci witness him doing? Buying some clothes. He didn’t steal them, he paid for them, so that’s not a crime.

Did Gauci see the bomb? No. Was the bomb even there in the shop at the time? Probably not. Did Gauci overhear him talking about a bomb or a bomb plot, even in jest? No. What reason might he have for ever remembering this man? Presumably, he was “behaving suspiciously” – ah, well, there you go, looks as if we have an open and shut case.

What’s the first thing everyone is asked when they check bags in on a plane? “Did you pack this bag yourself, Sir?”. This proceedure originated in no small part due to the immediate aftermath of Lockerbie when it quickly seemed as if an unaccompanied bag had been checked in from Malta and then transferred into Pan-Am 103, bipassing normal security (there’s actually far *more* reason to believe the bag with the bomb could actually have entered the system at Frankfurt, where a PF-LP cell was already operating, had been arrested 2-3 weeks earlier and had been found with bombs and bomb-making equipment (including the EXACT SAME model and make of timers as was later recovers – except the Syrian who designed and built them insisted he had built them one more than was seized, expecting it to be used for bus bombings on the West Bank) and not Malta.

Anyway, there’s no evidence to tie Al-Megrahi directly to the bomb.

The FBI claims the clothes they recovered were bought in Gauci’s shop in Malta, where they then theorised (based on that belief) that the bag containing the bomb (and Gauci’s clothes) entered the system, bound for Frankfurt, unaccompanied. They may well have been. They also allege that Al-Megrahi bought the clothes in Gauci’s shop. He may well have. They further allege that he did so, intending to pack them around the bomb and that he then either personally checked the unaccompied bag in at Malta airport on the flight to Frankfurt, where it was forwarded twice (again, unaccompanied), first on a Pan Am flight to London and then again, fatefully, onto Flight 103, where the pressure timer was primed to explode just as it ascended to cruising altitude over the Northern Atlantic.

Except no-one has any proof of that at all. It’s just a theory. A conspiracy theory, in fact, one for which the evidence is sorely lacking and contradictory at best. It wasn’t until shortly before the trial began that they had ANY paper trail or documentary proof to support the theory that any unnaccompanied bag HAD been placed on the second plane in Frankfurt after being transferred from Air Malta – Air Malta at the time strenuously denied ANY unaccompied bag had been logged on any of their flights out of Malta that day and duly produced the logs and the headcount to prove it. Suddenly, right before the trial, a piece of paper from Frankfurt appears recording the existance of an unaccompanied bag it claims has just come off the Air Malta flight, unaccompanied, yet Air Malta denied ever having checked it in in Malta. But security at Frankfurt was woefully lax, staff weren’t properly trained to use the X-Ray, one of their two X-Ray machines was out of action and the full Christmas rush was on; plus, the area where the transfer occurred had reported a break-in the night before (the wire fence was found cut clean though, but nothing was missing) and there was a cell of Iranian-funded Palestinian bombers operating out of Frankfurt who had just been busted, then bailed days before, who were found with Semtex bombs with identifical timing mechanisms to the supposed 103 bomb, except with one of them missing.

There are other suspects in the frame, here.

Al-Megrahi was in Malta, we know this. The Air Malta flight to Tripoli checks in at the desk next to the flight to Frankfurt. There’s no proof that he was at the airport the day the bomb was loaded and no proof that he checked in any unaccompanied bags. Even if he did, that doesn’t definitively prove that his bag contained the bomb or that even if it did, that he knew it was there. He could have been smuggling drugs or laundering currency, for all he knew. Gaddafi is known now to have engaged in daily efforts to snort Columbia off the map single-handedly and marching powder was not easy to come by in North Africa in the late 80s, I’m guessing.

So, the case to answer:- Al-Megrahi may have been a member of Gaddafi’s security services, or he may not. We have no proof either way. If he was, we have nothing to indicate whether he and any associates were under orders or acting unilaterally (anyone unswayingly convinced of Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt has already tacitly acknowledged that that COULD be the case, Oswald had been an ex-Army sniper, after all); he may or may not have bought some clothes while he was in Malta that we *think* ended up packed inside an unaccompied Samsonite suitcase along with the bomb, but we can’t be completely sure of either of those things, and the forensics fail to confirm or support this belief. We think he *may* have taken the case with the bomb and the clothes to the airport, checked it onto a flight to Frankfurt and then deliberately not caught the flight, only the headcount and the Carl manifest allegedly refutes this; if he did, we assume that he primed the bomb before checking the bag and knew it was there and what would happen. We assume. Because we don’t know. This is all guesswork at this point, other than the tailor.

A bag appears in the baggage system in Frankfurt and is transferred onto a Pan Am flight to London, to be transferred again onto 103. One piece of paper produced a decade later states that this bag was transferred from the Air Malta flight that just arrived, only Air Malta deny they ever carried it or saw it.

The bag is flown to London and transferred onto the flight to NYC. Approx 50mins later, the plane blows up, killing all on board, 11 on the ground and spreading wreckage over a vast area.

At some stage, the FBI acquire a small piece of what appears to be a timing mechanism. It just appears in the evidence store. No one can say who found it, where it was found, or how it got there. The FBI refuse to test it for explosive residue but insist it had been placed in the Samsonite case along with the clothes Megrahi allegedly bought in Malta and then packed around the bomb before priming it, checking it onto the plane in Malta and waiting for it to explode.

The man who made the timer claims in court that he met Al-Megrahi and gave him some sample timers, as a sample for ones later sold to Libya. Except the piece of the timer produced in court are NOT the same timer, or even the same model that he gave to Megrahi, this (appears to be) a fragment of a more recent model that he subsequently sold to the Libyan reigime completely independently on his contact with Megrahi, and the fragment of circuit board produced in court does NOT appear to be the same fragment of circuit board he was earlier asked to examine, linking Megrahi to the timer.

So, there’s nothing to link Megrahi to the timer, or the bomb, or the suitcase, and the bomb may have entered the system in Malta or it might not. It may have been introduced in Frankfurt, in which case, his presence in Malta could be purely coincidental.

What can we link him to? The shirts. Maybe. If the crazy tailor is right, and if the shirts he bought we the same ones the FBI claim (but can’t prove) were placed in the same suitcase as the bomb, and if that really was the bag that contained the bomb as well.

We can’t even link the piece of timing mechanism to the exploded case, because no-one knows where it came from or had ever seen it before. We certainly can’t say whose suitcase it was, or who packed it, or who placed on the plane, or of they knew what was in it, or why it was done, or why whoever did it was *told* it had to be done.

The tailor’s a fruitcake who sold his story and can’t be relied on and the timer is contaminated evidence, if not actually fake or manufactured evidence. Can’t rely on that either.

That’s the case. They never had one.

As anyone who had so much legal knowledge as might be gained from watching, I don’t know, Inspector Morse, Courts rule on motive.

Funny, I always thought that program was all about policework, not trying criminal cases.

I think your brain may be addled, your mixing up Kavanagh QC in your head.

Look, when John Thaw’s got the funny wig on, he’s playing a lawyer, working in a fancy court. That’s Kavanagh. When he looks miserable, drives that old Jag and moans about the quality of the cask ales whilst droning on about Pucini, he’s being Morse when he does that. He’s a policeman then. They’re not the same person, they have different jobs and do different things. Do you understand now?

Oh, and when he’s thumping villains, drinking whisky and shouting at Dennis Waterman, that’s the Sweeney. That’s old. But he’s also a policeman in that, just a different kind.

Right: the prosecution in a trial can allege motive and use it as the basis around which they build their case and that forms the basis for both their arguement, and often which charges are placed before the accused to answer. You can guess at a motive and craft your case around the line of reasoning you took to arrive at that conclusion, but you can’t know it. It’s immutable. It happens inside someone else’s head. It’s not possible to know what it was they were thinking or feeling at the time. And what you think might represent a motive to do something may just as like be either completely inconsequential or mean something totally different to me.

Someone might say to me “You had every reason to want to thump SMS hard in the face for being such an awkward and humourless pillock all the time” and I might say, “No, I would never want to do that, I believe in the power of ideas and the subtle beauty of discourse and reasoned debate to try and win people over!” and they might say “I put it to you that one day, be just pushed you too far and you snapped” and I might say “No…”

I might be lying.

But that doesn’t make a jot of difference, no matter how good the other person’s arguement is and how charismatically and persuasively they state their case, unless the evidence exists and can be presented that I actually *did* thump you hard in the face , it doesn’t make a bloody bit of difference.

You can have motive or presumed motives til the cows come home – if there isn’t actually evidence to support the fact that a crime has actually been committed, and that the person in the dock did it, and in a way consistent with the evidence presented in the court, which might establish their guilt and culpability beyond reasonable doubt, there is no case to answer.

Castro had a motive to bump Kennedy off. Not to mention, a fair degree of opportunity and means.

Doesn’t mean he did it. Or even make it likely – because there’s no *evidence* for it…

45. So Much For Subtlety

43. Spike1138

I like Icke.

I am not surprised.

The timer – it’s a key and crucial bit of evidence. In fact, it’s fair to say that the entire criminal case, if not the entire crash investigation, hinges on the provenance and credibility of that particular forensic exhibit.

The credibility of which was examined by a Scottish Court. They found it credible. You have no standing to doubt it.

Except no-one has been able establish where exactly it was found on the ground, how it came to be entered into the chain of evidence and therefore what condition it was in when found, compared to when it was exhibited in court.

Sorry but no. You’re making stuff up – or quoting people who are. To quote from the Wikipedia account:

“estimony indicated that on January 13, 1989, three weeks after the bombing, two Scottish detectives engaged in a line search in woods near Lockerbie came upon a piece of charred material, later identified as the neckband of a grey Slalom-brand shirt. Because of the charring, it was sent for analysis to the DERA forensic explosives laboratory at Fort Halstead in Kent. It was not until May 12, 1989, that Dr Thomas Hayes examined the charred material. He teased out the cloth and found within it fragments of white paper, fragments of black plastic, a fragment of metal and a fragment of wire mesh—all subsequently found to be fragments of a Toshiba RT-SF 16 and its manual. Dr Hayes testified that he also found embedded a half-inch fragment of green circuit board.”

So you’re claiming they all lied under oath?

In this case, the timer fragment just appeared suddenly in the FBI’s evidence store, with no explanation of where it cam from or how long they had had it.

The FBI never had them. DERA did.

The chain of evidence is very important in criminal investigations, which is why, for instance that detectives used to often mark gun cartridges or bullets found at the scene with their initials and such, so as to be sure that the bullets and cases tested and presented to the court are the same ones. Otherwise, anyone could just present a random, unrelated bullet from another gun and just….

Sure. Although they were dealing with an airplane that was made up of over one million individual parts before it was blown all over the Scottish countryside. Not half a dozen bullets.

The case for timer itself as evidence or proof of anything is deeply flawed in several key respects – most notably, the FBI refused all requests to test it for residual traces of explosive (which it should have been covered in, given that it was allegedly right next to when it exploded), claiming that it was too small to test but yet still refusing to let anyone else try and have a go anyway.

If the FBI couldn’t, no one could.

Even if the timer was what the prosecution claimed it was, and even if it had been part of the trigger for the bomb, and even if it could be traced from the Swiss manufacturer, back to a batch sold to Libya, it doesn’t prove that the man in the dock (either of them, including the other one with the cast iron alibi, who was supposedly Al-Megrahi’s accomplice) did it, it doesn’t prove that Libya did it and it doesn’t prove that the shipment of parts sent from Bern to Tripoli ended there without some or all of it being filched, fenced, misappropriated or just flat-out nicked.

No it doesn’t. But the police were led to al-Megrahi by the Swiss company who pointed him out as a man they were in touch with over the sale. That is how they found out about him in the first place. So you have a link. That it was a trigger for the bomb seems undeniable. No other was found. It was clearly linked back to Switzerland and thence to Libya. But it doesn’t prove al-Megrahi did it as such.

There are something like 60 Million AK-47s on the planet – but for precisely that reason, if I ever find myself at the business end of one, I’m not going to assume the bloke doing the shooting is a Soviet soldier and I’m not going to presume that he’s threatening to do me in with the thing because Uncle Joe Stalin ordered him to.

That’s because there are something like 60 million of them. If you find yourself blown up by a Swiss made bomb trigger of which there are just seven in the world, you may think otherwise.

That timer evidence would’ve been thrown out of court summarily if the prosecution hadn’t lied and covered up how shoddy the forensics were, and it probably should have been anyway…

There is no evidence there was anything wrong with the forensics. You merely hope that they was.

You couldn’t hang a hat on that.

And yet a Scottish court and two appeal’s benches did precisely that.

Bollier testified at the trial that the Scottish police had originally shown him a fragment of a brown 8-ply circuit board, of a prototype timer which had never been supplied to Libya. Yet the sample he was asked to identify at the trial was a green 9-ply circuit board that Mebo had indeed supplied to Libya. Bollier wanted to pursue this discrepancy, but was told by trial Judge, Lord Sutherland, that he could not do so.

Good to see you can quote Wikipedia. The quality of your nonsense is improving. However the police were debating whether to charge Mebo. That might well make his testimony a little suspect.

It’s not the same timer the guy supplied to al-Megrahi, and it’s not the same timer he claims (and must have therefore records to support his objection) he EVER supplied to the Libyan Government.

The Court satisfied themselves it was. You may not wish to believe so but that is your problem. You should talk to someone about that.

It’s manufactured evidence. Worse still, it’s BADLY manufactured evidence, and the Judge presiding clearly realizes that and is complicit in fudging over the inconsistency.

Judges. Three of them. Do keep up. You know nothing about the Scottish legal system, nothing about the case and you cannot even quote Wikipedia properly and yet you’re sure it was a frame up.

Yeah, he’s a completely useless witness. He’s more attention-seeking and eager to please than the old man downstairs in 12 Angry Men.

The Court did not think so. And they were there. He is also more credible than some lone conspiracy theorist ranting anonymously on the internet.

Gauci’s testimony is worthless – the Lord Advocate of Scotland at the time called him “two apples short of a picnic”, he isn’t even vaguely credible.

He is alleged to have said that. Later on. His opinion is irrelevant as he was not involved in the trial – and I am not even sure there is evidence he talked to the man. Again you’re reporting nonsense as if it mattered.

You have absolute unshakeable faith in the word of a barking mad Maltese tailor with a consistent record of fabrication and generally being a total fantacist sycophant, as well as an FBI forensics report compiled by a lab tech who was removed from the FBI for falsifying forensic reports and yet you treat every remark and reasoned out opinion I might have on the matter as being gullible cloud-cookoo tosh almost beneath contempt… How do you suppose that makes me feel, eh?

You have no evidence for a single one of those claims. There is no reason to think Gaucci has a record of fabrication. One man took some small part in the FBI part of the examination who was later disciplined. So what? There were others, including British scientists.

I don’t care how it makes you feel. I can’t guess as this is out of the range of normal opinion and into the land of fantasy. How does it make you feel? I don’t know. What are you trying to compensate for? Beaten at school? Mother didn’t like you? Something anyway.

46. So Much For Subtlety

44. Spike1138

Trust me, with that witness, it’s less than nothing.

Why would anyone in their right mind trust you? You are clearly unhinged on this

Even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day, true, but I doubt Gauci could tie his own shoes without assistance, much less wind his watch or deliver honest and consistent testimony on the stand.

Except he did. To the satisfaction of three judges and two appeals courts. You may not like it but what are you? What is your opinion worth?

He’s not an eyewitness. He didn’t see any crime. What’s he a witness to?

The buying of shirts that ended up in the bomb-carrying suitcase. He is an eye witness. Eye witnesses do not have to see a crime to be eye witnesses.

Let’s take as read that those clothes *did* indeed end up in the case with the bomb. Let’s also assume, for the sake of argument that it was indeed Al-Megrahi who bought them and Gauci’s identification of him is correct and right on the money (which is far from proven at this stage, to say the least, but let’s ignore that for now);

By all means.

Anyway, there’s no evidence to tie Al-Megrahi directly to the bomb.

Except the Swiss fingering him on the bomb timers. And the fact that he went into a shop and bought clothes that were used to stuff a suitcase containing the bomb. Enough to get anyone convicted.

Except no-one has any proof of that at all. It’s just a theory. A conspiracy theory, in fact, one for which the evidence is sorely lacking and contradictory at best.

The evidence is not lacking – it is stronger than your nut case explanation. But then you do not understand what evidence means. And it is a theory. Like evolution is a theory. A theory that was tested in court and won. But I will agree it is a theory about a conspiracy.

It wasn’t until shortly before the trial began that they had ANY paper trail or documentary proof to support the theory that any unnaccompanied bag HAD been placed on the second plane in Frankfurt after being transferred from Air Malta

And yet the records show a bag had been so place.

Air Malta at the time strenuously denied ANY unaccompied bag had been logged on any of their flights out of Malta that day and duly produced the logs and the headcount to prove it.

Well of course they would wouldn’t they.

But security at Frankfurt was woefully lax, staff weren’t properly trained to use the X-Ray, one of their two X-Ray machines was out of action and the full Christmas rush was on

Sure. The Germans are lax about security. Everyone knows. They are famous for it. Unlike the super strict Maltese. Pathetic.

plus, the area where the transfer occurred had reported a break-in the night before (the wire fence was found cut clean though, but nothing was missing) and there was a cell of Iranian-funded Palestinian bombers operating out of Frankfurt who had just been busted, then bailed days before, who were found with Semtex bombs with identifical timing mechanisms to the supposed 103 bomb, except with one of them missing.

Similar. Not identical. And they were busted. What were the chances that there were two such groups operating in Frankfurt? The alleged break in is irrelevant. How could they even have known where to go. What could they have done? Left a bag with a nice note to the German security people asking them to put it on the right flight?

Al-Megrahi was in Malta, we know this. The Air Malta flight to Tripoli checks in at the desk next to the flight to Frankfurt. There’s no proof that he was at the airport the day the bomb was loaded and no proof that he checked in any unaccompanied bags.

He flew out of Malta – having arrived two days before on a false passport – on the day the bag was loaded. At the same time in fact. So you’re wrong.

Even if he did, that doesn’t definitively prove that his bag contained the bomb or that even if it did, that he knew it was there.

Indeed. But it is irrelevant isn’t it?

marching powder was not easy to come by in North Africa in the late 80s, I’m guessing.

Like everything else you would guess wrong. Given Africa is a major staging post and Libya has embassies in Latin America.

anyone unswayingly convinced of Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt has already tacitly acknowledged that that COULD be the case, Oswald had been an ex-Army sniper, after all

You really don’t know anything about anything do you? Oswald, a Communist who had defected to the USSR, was a Marine. Not an Army sniper. Idiot.

he may or may not have bought some clothes while he was in Malta that we *think* ended up packed inside an unaccompied Samsonite suitcase along with the bomb, but we can’t be completely sure of either of those things, and the forensics fail to confirm or support this belief.

On the contrary, we can be entirely sure of that. Forensics proved it. The timer fragment was found embedded in some of the Maltese clothing.

A bag appears in the baggage system in Frankfurt and is transferred onto a Pan Am flight to London, to be transferred again onto 103. One piece of paper produced a decade later states that this bag was transferred from the Air Malta flight that just arrived, only Air Malta deny they ever carried it or saw it.

Not a paper record and not produced a decade later. Wow this is impressive. Of course Air Malta denied it. They might be sued. But they never produced a shred of evidence to support that claim.

At some stage, the FBI acquire a small piece of what appears to be a timing mechanism. It just appears in the evidence store. No one can say who found it, where it was found, or how it got there.

On the contrary, the FBI never had it. They were allowed to test it, but they did not ever have custody of it. We know where it was found and by whom. The nice people at DERA had it.

The FBI refuse to test it for explosive residue but insist it had been placed in the Samsonite case along with the clothes Megrahi allegedly bought in Malta and then packed around the bomb before priming it, checking it onto the plane in Malta and waiting for it to explode.

Because a British scientist removed it from a fragment of clothing from Malta. The FBI tends to believe British scientists. It did not suddenly appear in the US.

The man who made the timer claims in court that he met Al-Megrahi and gave him some sample timers, as a sample for ones later sold to Libya.

No. He testified he met al-Megrahi, who he thought was a Major in the Libyan intelligence service and a relative of Gaddafi, while in Libya after selling the Libyans some 20 timers. Some of which they then used.

Except the piece of the timer produced in court are NOT the same timer, or even the same model that he gave to Megrahi, this (appears to be) a fragment of a more recent model that he subsequently sold to the Libyan reigime completely independently on his contact with Megrahi, and the fragment of circuit board produced in court does NOT appear to be the same fragment of circuit board he was earlier asked to examine, linking Megrahi to the timer.

Sorry but no. One of the co-owners is alleged to have made this claim. No more. But if they were in Libyan hands it hardly matters does it?

So, there’s nothing to link Megrahi to the timer, or the bomb, or the suitcase, and the bomb may have entered the system in Malta or it might not. It may have been introduced in Frankfurt, in which case, his presence in Malta could be purely coincidental.

Except this only occurs in your delusion. In reality there was a link to the timer, the clothes and to him actually being in the airport at the time the case was loaded. That looks pretty good to me.

The tailor’s a fruitcake who sold his story and can’t be relied on and the timer is contaminated evidence, if not actually fake or manufactured evidence. Can’t rely on that either.

You simply wish the tailor was a fruitcake. You don’t know. There is nothing wrong with the timer as evidence. You are just making that up.

Funny, I always thought that program was all about policework, not trying criminal cases.

Funny, I thought you might get the point.

Right: the prosecution in a trial can allege motive and use it as the basis around which they build their case and that forms the basis for both their arguement, and often which charges are placed before the accused to answer.

Wow. So you looked that up on Wikipedia too? Excellent.

And what you think might represent a motive to do something may just as like be either completely inconsequential or mean something totally different to me.

Sure. That is why, and boy do I repeat myself here, it is up to the Court to determine motive. You were as usual wrong on that like everything else. They did determine motive. They assigned guilt. They convicted.

But that doesn’t make a jot of difference, no matter how good the other person’s arguement is and how charismatically and persuasively they state their case, unless the evidence exists and can be presented that I actually *did* thump you hard in the face , it doesn’t make a bloody bit of difference.

Actually it does. It is not something lawyers or judges usually admit but you do not need any evidence of a crime at all to convict people. People have been convicted of murder and their victim has turned up later alive and well.

Castro had a motive to bump Kennedy off. Not to mention, a fair degree of opportunity and means.

Doesn’t mean he did it. Or even make it likely – because there’s no *evidence* for it…

Actually it is the most likely explanation for the Kennedy killing I know of.

47. So Much For Subtlety

40. BenSix

In 2001, yes, but six years on the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission stated that there are no reasonable grounds on which to trust much of the evidence the prosecution depended on, and referred his case for an appeal.

Which upheld his conviction. Two appeals I believe. Both failed.

He’s produced no evidence to substantiate this claim. It’s odd, in fact, if Gaddafi was the architect of the bombings, that we’ve seen no witnesses or documents exposed since his toppling. It needn’t mean they don’t exist, of course, but it’s reason to be sceptical.

As opposed to what? Every other claim? It isn’t odd. The country is in the middle of a civil war. Everyone has scattered. It will take decades to go through all the police and security records.

No, he wasn’t. He was made Gaddafi’s Justice Minister in 2007.

And what was he before?

Oh dear. They acquitted Fhima, SMFS.

Yes, oh dear. You just can’t get good bought judges like you used to. That is the claim right? So why didn’t they convict both?

The claim that Megrahi brought the clothing is, as the SCCRC ruled, extremely dubious. The witness statements of Tony Gauci, the shopkeeper, are inconsistent; the process by which he identified the accused man were said by experts to be “unfair” and it’s highly doubtful that he was even in Malta on the date the clothing was procured.

This is a new claim to me – who says he was not in Malta at the time? Such things are easily proven as people need to use their passports. The SCCRC does not pronounce on matters of fact. Their view of the evidence is irrelevant. They did grant an appeal. Which failed.

None of this, as far as I’m aware, means that Megrahi, Gaddafi or any Libyan wasn’t involved in the attack. But if we’re going to conclude they were, on any reasonable basis, we’d need more and better evidence.

No we don’t. This is just the usual Leftist General Belgrano shit and should be treated as such.

@46

Eye witnesses do not have to see a crime to be eye witnesses.

I’m going to just leave that one and let it sink in for a moment or too, while it dawns on you the Gordian knot you’ve managed to tie yourself up in, there.

That’s quite possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen put into words in a desperate bid to get the last word rather than concede the point.

He isn’t an eyewitness. He’s barely even a witness. He didn’t witness anyone breaking the law, he witnessed a man buying some shirts. One that, after much prodding, coaching and careful preparation, he dutifully equated with Al-Megrahi.

Had had been tried in America, it’s highly likely that him and his codefendant would have faced he Death Penalty.

You’d be quite satisfied that justice be served by sending him to the chair for the heinous capital crime of buying some shirts once.

Call me an awkward stickler, but I’m hardly comfortable setting the burden of proof so low that life or death hinges on the fingerpointing denunciation by someone I met for all of perhaps a minute and a half more than a decade earlier, who has been systematically grilled and worked over by the Feds almost that entire time, loading his head with preconceived notions as to my supposed bloodthirsty, baby-killing credentials and the absolute crucial importance of giving a resolute and unwavering performance on the stand to say that it was DEFINITELY him you saw, rather than almost anybody else you care to name.

I’m not sure why you have such difficulty believing that investigators, law enforcement and the judiciary make mistakes and cut corners and bend the rules and suppress damaging evidence harmful to the prosecution when they’re under intense pressure to produce results.

You’ve already indicated that you (at very least) don’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, which means (again, at the very least) that the Warren Report contains errors and omissions and failed to follow up on vital clues – in short, and I’ve listened to the taped phone calls between LBJ and J.Edgar Hoover, it was vital to discredit the notion that there was any possibility of Soviet or otherwise communist involvement in killing Kennedy, because the rammifications of that would be extensive and wide-ranging and more than likely provoke or threaten nuclear war, we’re it to come to light that the Kremlin had a hand in it somewhere.

The outcome was known from the outset, excluding the peripheral details that would eventually raise more questions that they ultimately attempted to answer.

Now, the situation you’ve described to me represents a conspiracy – and, barring conclusive proof coming to light, it remains merely theoretical. It is, definitionally, a conspiracy theory. A term which you would no doubt dismiss or at least squirm at, but all ideas are theories until evidence of causation is presented and theories by virtue of their nature, fit around and inside gaps in he factual record. Often, they challenge previously held beliefs and conventional wisdom, just as Einsteinian physics challenged the primacy of Newtonian model until our understanding evolved sufficiently to fill in the blanks and connect the dots into the beginnings of a grand unifying theory.

“Conspiracy Theory” is not a dirty pair of words or an insult to be thrown down; those who expound on potential dark dealings behind the scenes, out of the public eye are not de facto crazy or paranoid or mentally unbalanced, despite the condescending tones of others with less intellectual curiousity who might be too unwary themselves to try to see where the lines might intersect.

Now, you can dismiss some of the concerns and unanswered questions I’ve raised and the doubts that I’ve aired if that will keep you happy and satisfied, secure in the belief that justice always prevails, the good guys always win, people will always behave honestly and nobly if left to their own devices and left unscrutised and not made to answer in the court of public oppinion.

If you really believe that, then I’m envious and good for you too.

I wish I could say the same, I really do.

Only, I don’t think at all that you really *do* believe that – I think that you understand that given the opportunity to get away with it, and under strain and pressure to deliver results under near-impossible conditions, essentially well-meaning and good people people will do shitty things and good people will suffer because of that. And sometimes, when the truth becomes too big and utterly unpalatable, people will move heaven and earth to say black is white, up is down and lets get this over with as quickly as possible, so we can sweep it all under the rug and forget all about it.

You have an alarming tendency to take everything law enforcement does at face value and assume that they’re always upright, true, diligent and above all, competent in all their actions, even when they are hopelessly out of their depth, floundering around desperately behind closed doors with the public baying for blood.

They do this even when it *doesn’t* involve a diplomatic geopolitical minefield to navigate – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries, or The Thin Blue Line or My Brother’s Keeper or Paul Foot’s Hanratty documentary, but the lengths that Police and the courts, along with the press and enraged public opinion will go to to bend reality around their presjudices so as to make the facts fit the accused and suppress better evidence to the contrary is frankly staggering.

You’ve already made the leap of faith to say that a Castro-driven plot to off Kennedy was “most likely”, which means you have to accept that the authors of the Warren Report ignored, suppressed or were so incompetent that they flat out failed totally to uncover a Cuban connection, if you believe that such a thing is likely… You’ve already made the leap.

80-90 % of Americans polled now consistently state that they do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone as the Warren Report states categorically that he did, no question.

That’s not a conspiracy theory any more, that’s a conspiracy consensus. It may still be wrong, but it certainly isn’t “fringe” or “crazy” to think of it.

Is it so absurd to suggest that in August 1990, when paths led both to Tehran and to Tripoli that a President who was himself at one time, the Director of Central Intelligence might not apply some gentle pressure to lay off the Iranians until Kuwait was successfully liberated and then turn a blind eye for their cooperation in remaining on their side of the border for he duration of Operation Desert Storm? That’s not at ALL absurd. Not even a little.

How’s that for motive and opportunity?

You know, not for nothing, but Watergate was just a conspiracy theory til someone went and proved it.

@47

No we don’t. This is just the usual Leftist General Belgrano shit and should be treated as such.

We were at war with Argentina. It was a military target and a fully armed and operational Man-O-War, and in the vicinity of the exclusion zone around the islands, wherin we had issued warming that all hostile enemy vessels found were liable to be fired upon and sunk.

I’m not going to argue the toss with you about taking out an enemy warship sailing through a combat theatre under an enemy flag in time of war. It was a legitimate target.

We are not and were not (or, to my knowledge ever have been) at war with Libya.

Civilians get trials. Fair ones. They were extradited to stand trial in Holland at great cost and after great effort to answer the allegations against them. Being so certain as we were of their guilt as we professed to be throughout, we should have been able to put in a better showing for the indulgence of the court than the feeble effort we managed to muster. Ten years of painstaking forensic study and detective work and that feeble hodgepodge was all we were able to come up with?

It was pathetic. And worse still, it made British justice look weak and ineffectual.

Because no-one’s hearts were truly in it.

SMFS

Which upheld his conviction. Two appeals I believe. Both failed.

No, it didn’t. He was released before the appeal could take place.

And what was he before?

A judge. And I don’t see why a judge need be in on the conspiracies of the state. At the least, I’m not putting my faith in their bare assertions.

Yes, oh dear. You just can’t get good bought judges like you used to. That is the claim right? So why didn’t they convict both?

Insufficient evidence. And who’s claiming they were bought off? Not me. Their motives, unknowable as they are, are of no real interest.

This is a new claim to me – who says he was not in Malta at the time? Such things are easily proven as people need to use their passports. The SCCRC does not pronounce on matters of fact. Their view of the evidence is irrelevant. They did grant an appeal. Which failed.

Considering that your knowledge of the debate is so patchy I’m not sure why you feel so confident in your opinion. (For example, you repeat the claim that the appeal that should have followed the SCCRC ruling “failed”. No, it didn’t. It never took place.) The issue is which date the clothes were purchased on – Gauci wasn’t sure, and so they had to make an educated guess based on memories of the day. They pinned it down to two – on only one of which the Libyan was actually in Malta. The evidence seemed to point to one of them – when, concurrent with Gauci’s recollections – there had been rain, no Christmas decorations up and so on. For reasons that escape me – and the SCCRC – the judges ruled it was the other day.

No we don’t. This is just the usual Leftist General Belgrano shit and should be treated as such.

I’d take this more seriously if it came from someone who knew how many people had been convicted of the crime; when the appeals had taken place; what the points of contention are and so on. Not trying to be snobbish – one can’t know all things about all things – but you could at least show a modicum of humility. (Ie. Not insist it’s “the usual Leftist shit” and advise onlookers to “treat it as such”.)

Again, I’m not saying Megrahi’s innocent, but the evidence should tested once again, and more must be revealed.

51. domestic extremist

@damon: The best thing I’ve heard is that a list was being drawn up of all the top people in the Syrian government and army, and that these people were going to be told that they were going to be accountable for their actions.

I’d imagine that most people will start being impressed by UN lists of persons who are to beheld accountable for crimes against humanity once Kissinger, Bush and Blair are securely behind bars.

@46

Actually it does. It is not something lawyers or judges usually admit but you do not need any evidence of a crime at all to convict people. People have been convicted of murder and their victim has turned up later alive and well.

See, what continues to astonish me is your absolute, unshakable, unquestioning l, total faith in a justice system that you concurrently allege to be utterly corrupted and disfunctional.

I mean, people convicted of murder, whose victims subsequently show up alive and well years later..? It *has* happened, but it’s incredibly rare, to the extent that it has only happened certainly once, possibly (but don’t quote me on this, I may be misremembering this) EVER in Britain, since murder trials without corpses themselves are incredibly rare and difficult to try, given the additional burden on the Crown to actually demonstrate, merely through arguement and reason that the crime has taken place, much less who is responsible ; and given that the most valuable and damning evidence tends to on the body – when you don’t have one, you’re just stuck stood there, whistlin’ Dixiie.


As opposed to what?  Every other claim?  It isn’t odd.  The country is in the middle of a civil war.  Everyone has scattered.  It will take decades to go through all the police and security records.

When you’re engaged in close quarters urban warfare with on your own territory, subject to massive aerial bombardments and fighting building by building for your own survival, you’re hardly going to stop and do some guerilla admin on your way you the door. You pick up an assault rifle and as many ammo clips and grenades as you can carry, start running and fire back at anything that opens fire on you.

Don’t be silly.

This stuff is all still there in the Tipoli Defence ministry files, Gaddafi’s people weren’t much bothered about destroying it from all appearances and the new lot have got no use or interest in it, it’s just mountains of paper, pretty certainly highly scent centralized in one or two secure sites.

In all likelihood, if we ask the new lot nicely, we can just walk into the bombed out office and take a look at it.

Decades…. You don’t half talk some bollocks sometimes…. The Wall came down in 1989-1990, and by the mid-1990s, Western researchers and historians were knee deep in declassified Kremlin and KGB files from the Cold War.

It’s all still there. We just need to send someone to go and take a look at it. Care to volunteer?

This is a new claim to me – who says he was not in Malta at the time?  Such things are easily proven as people need to use their passports.

Given that it was always claimed that he was in Malta that week on a fake passport anyway, that makes any attempt to place him there based on when his fake identity was logged in and out of the country, that’s pretty worthless when it comes to establishing his actual whereabouts at the time in question. And given that it’s not unknown for agents in the field to swap IDs and switch roles midway through assignments in the field chiefly to deceive and confuse the opposition about their current whereabouts and possible intentions, he could have been anywhere at the time in question, even if his fake passport remained in Malta the week he was alleged to be there, which, if I have undestood BenSix’s point correctly, isn’t anywhere near as clear as we had been led to believe.

BenSix, can you clarify?

Yes, oh dear.  You just can’t get good bought judges like you used to. That is the claim right?  So why didn’t they convict both?

Because it was physically impossible for him to be in Malta when they said that he was, plotting with Al-Megrahi. As I mentioned before, and was mentioned also on the Wiki entry you quoted yourself but skimmed (rather than reading fully), he had a cast iron alibi placing him in Sweeden when they claimed he had to be in Malta. I think, actually (although I may have misremembered this part) the suggestion was that he was actually IN CUSTODY in Sweeden on those dates, with the very State Department officials who were then tasked to track down the terror cell he was supposedly running to conduct the bombing.

(I seem to recall also suggestions by some that in actual fake he WASN’T in custody at all, had been let off the leash on some excuse or other, and that he WAS in Malta with Al-Megrahi and that the State department were given no choice but to provide a cast-iron false alibi and redirect blame away from those two to desperatelt cover their own asses and prevent him spilling the beans on all that had gone on so far. I’ve heard that version told too, and it certainly answers a lot of outstanding questions about the investigation, but I don’t know of any evidence that might support that view).

Whatever the truth there is, all we know is that we haven’t got to it yet; but for Al-Megrahi to be convicted at the other guy to be acquitted is fundamentally flawed anyway – the prosecution’s case was premised on the two of them being in Malta together, around the same time, and put forward a plan involving both of them. That was the basis for Al-Megrahi’s conviction. But the other guy had a cast-iron alibi, so the tribunal had no choice but to acquit, because the prosecution’s case is invalidated due to the fact it’s physically impossible for him to be there and verifiably false.

But if Al-Megrahi’s own conviction entirely rests on proving that he plotted it with the other lad in Malta on specific dates, but it’s already established that there’s no way that could have happened and only the two of them together could have pulled off what they appeared to have done, the whole conviction is about as secure as a two legged tripod.

There’s absolutely nothing supporting it.

Well, hot air, and until recently, a generous pension/stipend of Al-Megrahi’s nearest and dearest, conditional on him doing his time, dying quietly in prison from his terminal cancer and keeping his mouth shut, an obligation of which he was swiftly and prematurely relieved.

Yeah, he was let out before his appeal came up. Pretty obviously, because the longer it drags on through the courts and the more people who get to examine the evidence up close and either get quickly sworn to absolute silence or who declare loudly and publicly, “This is complete horseshit, what the fuck did you think you were doing??”

You know how sometimes in gang culture, one guy will take the wrap and do some time for one of his homies so that they can get an education or keep their job or take care of their family instead if doing time inside the joint? Or Chris Hune and the points on his license that his wife kindly “offered” to accept to prevent a driving ban?

This is just like that. Only way more ridiculous, far more expensive and about a million times more shameful.

Al-Megrahi was never meant to live this long – he was supposed to die quickly inside from his terminal cancer, take one for the team and have his family looked after by the reigime for life. He certainly wasn’t ever meant to get out of prison, but the nature of his concviction and the patent flimsiness of the case against him was a source of contstant embarrassment to the legal profession and brought disgrace to the Scottish Courts and British justice in general.

Gaddafi, in the interim, knowing nothing of concepts like shame and disgrace, cheerfully couldn’t give a fuck. He’d paid his dowery to get out of the naughty corner, was on the right side of the US and Europe, dumped the massive liability of his own WMD program, (which dwarfed those of Iran and Iraq at the height put together, by some accounts, and which we were almost totally oblivious to the fact that he own) and was free to get back to business as usual, making the desert bloom.

@SMS

Here you go, don’t say I never do anything for you…

This is a rare treat, ordinarily you have to pay for these, but I happened to stumble on a copy of the PDF on Scrib, so I thought I may as well, at least you won’t be able to use the fact it normally costs £1.50 as an excuse not to pay any attention to what’s in it.

http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/52409411#doc

There you go – Homework Assignment for you for tonight.

Read that through a couple of times, that should bring you almost up to speed on how much of a clusterf*ck the whole thing was…

Enjoy.

54. So Much For Subtlety

48. Spike1138

I’m going to just leave that one and let it sink in for a moment or too, while it dawns on you the Gordian knot you’ve managed to tie yourself up in, there.

Let me know when you’re done.

That’s quite possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen put into words in a desperate bid to get the last word rather than concede the point.

Oh you’re done. And your point is what? If someone saw Barry George hanging around outside Jill Dando’s house, they are an eye witness to that fact. Even if no crime was committed at that time. Even though they did not see the murder. An eye witness is merely someone who can testify to a relevant fact they saw.

He isn’t an eyewitness. He’s barely even a witness. He didn’t witness anyone breaking the law, he witnessed a man buying some shirts. One that, after much prodding, coaching and careful preparation, he dutifully equated with Al-Megrahi.

The prodding and coaching and preparation is your claim, not reality. Yes, he was an eye witness to the buying of some shirts.

Had had been tried in America, it’s highly likely that him and his codefendant would have faced he Death Penalty.

If only he did here.

You’d be quite satisfied that justice be served by sending him to the chair for the heinous capital crime of buying some shirts once.

This is your problem – an utter lack of awareness. No, buying shirts is not a capital crime. Blowing up an airlines, for which al-Megrahi was convicted, should have been.

Call me an awkward stickler, but I’m hardly comfortable setting the burden of proof so low that life or death hinges on the fingerpointing denunciation by someone I met for all of perhaps a minute and a half more than a decade earlier

Well that’s a shame because virtually every single case with eye witness testimony has similar problems. It is what we do.

You’ve already indicated that you (at very least) don’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone

I have done no such thing and don’t try to change the subject.

“Conspiracy Theory” is not a dirty pair of words or an insult to be thrown down; those who expound on potential dark dealings behind the scenes, out of the public eye are not de facto crazy or paranoid or mentally unbalanced

Yes they are. Most of the time. And people who know nothing of this case but swear blind that the Iranians were responsible and the Libyans innocent are clearly in that category.

You have an alarming tendency to take everything law enforcement does at face value and assume that they’re always upright, true, diligent and above all, competent in all their actions, even when they are hopelessly out of their depth, floundering around desperately behind closed doors with the public baying for blood.

You have not been reading a word I have said then. Because I don’t. The police are people like us. Which means they tend to be incompetent and sloppy. But they are people like us. Which also means that they are, by and large, upright, true, diligent, and doing the best they can. Unlike the delusional fantasy you have of some dark conspiracy.

80-90 % of Americans polled now consistently state that they do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone as the Warren Report states categorically that he did, no question.

Which simply shows the effect of leftist poison over the decades. Big deal.

Is it so absurd to suggest that in August 1990, when paths led both to Tehran and to Tripoli that a President who was himself at one time, the Director of Central Intelligence might not apply some gentle pressure to lay off the Iranians until Kuwait was successfully liberated and then turn a blind eye for their cooperation in remaining on their side of the border for he duration of Operation Desert Storm? That’s not at ALL absurd. Not even a little.

That is not what you’re suggesting so it is irrelevant. And what is more given your extensive demonstration of any knowledge of this case or the law, the facts are clearly irrelevant to you. Your problem is personal and psychological. You have made your mind up without knowing the first thing about the case. Which makes your opinion utterly irrelevant. Nothing you say can be treated as anything other than an indication to the demons within. Now I don’t say that in a mean way or as a debating tool, but out of a profound sadness that your life has gone so wrong and you are here instead of seeking help.

Spike1138

We were at war with Argentina. It was a military target and a fully armed and operational Man-O-War, and in the vicinity of the exclusion zone around the islands, wherin we had issued warming that all hostile enemy vessels found were liable to be fired upon and sunk.

And yet this is still more of the same Leftist Belgrano shit. And should be treated as such.

We are not and were not (or, to my knowledge ever have been) at war with Libya.

We should have been. Once they started arming the IRA and murdering police women. That was the flaw. You let them get away with that and pretty soon they are blowing up airlines.

Civilians get trials. Fair ones. They were extradited to stand trial in Holland at great cost and after great effort to answer the allegations against them.

Which is exactly what they got. No different to anyone else. What anyone else does not get is a well paid lobby attempting to cast doubt on every piece of the case through lies and smears. Even Harold Shipman would have walked if he had Libya’s lobby working on his case.

It was pathetic. And worse still, it made British justice look weak and ineffectual.

You’re talking about his release right?

55. So Much For Subtlety

50. BenSix

No, it didn’t. He was released before the appeal could take place.

No. His first appeal went forward and it was rejected. He dropped his second when it was clear that he wasn’t going to win.

Insufficient evidence. And who’s claiming they were bought off? Not me. Their motives, unknowable as they are, are of no real interest.

Someone is. Five Scottish judges failed to notice that there was no evidence? Their motives are obviously of interest because if your claims are right, the Scottish legal establishment is incompetent or corrupt. Your claim.

Considering that your knowledge of the debate is so patchy I’m not sure why you feel so confident in your opinion. (For example, you repeat the claim that the appeal that should have followed the SCCRC ruling “failed”. No, it didn’t. It never took place.)

Son, if you want to disagree with me, fine. If you want to disagree with me and be childish, you’re going to look stupid. As all the facts produced so far in this pathetic excuse for a debate have been mine, I don’t think you’re going to get far in your claims. I also notice that you failed to comment of Spike’s utter lack of any knowledge of the case or the law. Which says all that needs to be said about your credibility to comment here.

The appeal did fail. He withdrew when it was clear he was not going to win. How is that not a fail?

The issue is which date the clothes were purchased on

That was the issue. The issue now is your All Mighty All Knowingness’s claim that Gauci was not in Malta on the day in question. What is your evidence?

I’d take this more seriously if it came from someone who knew how many people had been convicted of the crime; when the appeals had taken place; what the points of contention are and so on. Not trying to be snobbish – one can’t know all things about all things – but you could at least show a modicum of humility. (Ie. Not insist it’s “the usual Leftist shit” and advise onlookers to “treat it as such”.)

Sorry but I have not commented on when the appeals took place. Again, as all the facts are mine your complaint is pathetic. I don’t need to show any humility here. This debate would be improved if Spike was replaced by the Three Stooges.

Again, I’m not saying Megrahi’s innocent, but the evidence should tested once again, and more must be revealed.

We had a trial. We had an appeal. We had another appeal. We had endless Court procedures inbetween. There is no need whatsoever to continue to rake over old cases until the Left gets the verdict it wants. He was convicted. There is no case for anyone else being responsible. No evidence of anyone else being responsible. And that is all that really needs to be said.

The rest is, as I said, the Left’s usual General Belgrano shit and should be treated as such.

56. So Much For Subtlety

52. Spike1138

See, what continues to astonish me is your absolute, unshakable, unquestioning l, total faith in a justice system that you concurrently allege to be utterly corrupted and disfunctional.

The words corrupted and dysfunction never crossed my lips. I do admire the way you have turned the subject from your total clusterf**k of an argument to some other argument that is a little better. Irrelevant but better. Although I am not in any way astonished that you continue to believe everything contrary to the facts about this case and yet are utterly unshaken when the reality is pointed out to you. It goes with the usual Leftist General Belgrano shit – the actual facts are not remotely important to the paranoid conspiracy people.

When you’re engaged in close quarters urban warfare with on your own territory, subject to massive aerial bombardments and fighting building by building for your own survival, you’re hardly going to stop and do some guerilla admin on your way you the door.

I agree. That is why it is going to take a while to get the files.

This stuff is all still there in the Tipoli Defence ministry files, Gaddafi’s people weren’t much bothered about destroying it from all appearances and the new lot have got no use or interest in it, it’s just mountains of paper, pretty certainly highly scent centralized in one or two secure sites.

How do you know it is there in the Tripoli Defence Ministry files? Given that Tripoli does not have a Defence Ministry and the Army almost certainly played no role in such attacks.

In all likelihood, if we ask the new lot nicely, we can just walk into the bombed out office and take a look at it.

We can hope. Assuming anyone in the FCO can read Arabic. Once that was true. Now they are more likely to have Gender Studies degrees.

Given that it was always claimed that he was in Malta that week on a fake passport anyway, that makes any attempt to place him there based on when his fake identity was logged in and out of the country, that’s pretty worthless when it comes to establishing his actual whereabouts at the time in question. And given that it’s not unknown for agents in the field to swap IDs and switch roles midway through assignments in the field chiefly to deceive and confuse the opposition about their current whereabouts and possible intentions, he could have been anywhere at the time in question, even if his fake passport remained in Malta the week he was alleged to be there, which, if I have undestood BenSix’s point correctly, isn’t anywhere near as clear as we had been led to believe.

Not al-Megrahi, who is the person I assume you are talking about. The tailor.

Whatever the truth there is, all we know is that we haven’t got to it yet; but for Al-Megrahi to be convicted at the other guy to be acquitted is fundamentally flawed anyway – the prosecution’s case was premised on the two of them being in Malta together, around the same time, and put forward a plan involving both of them.

No it isn’t. The prosecution does not determine facts. The Court does.

Well, hot air, and until recently, a generous pension/stipend of Al-Megrahi’s nearest and dearest, conditional on him doing his time, dying quietly in prison from his terminal cancer and keeping his mouth shut, an obligation of which he was swiftly and prematurely relieved.

Are you claiming people knew about his cancer at the time of his trial?

Yeah, he was let out before his appeal came up.

No, he dropped it before his appeal finished. Different.

He certainly wasn’t ever meant to get out of prison, but the nature of his concviction and the patent flimsiness of the case against him was a source of contstant embarrassment to the legal profession and brought disgrace to the Scottish Courts and British justice in general.

Bollocks. The fact that the Libyans could buy his way out of prison is what was a disgrace to British justice.

SMFS

The appeal did fail. He withdrew when it was clear he was not going to win. How is that not a fail?

It’s possible, I guess, that he thought he’d fail but the fact that his withdrawal came days after his controversial chat with the Scottish Secretary for Justice leads me to feel there are at least grounds for suspicion that it had something to do with his subsequent release. Not a “fail”, in other words.

Son, if you want to disagree with me, fine. If you want to disagree with me and be childish, you’re going to look stupid.

“Son”? Christ. I don’t think ladling on the condescension makes your argument any easier to swallow but that’s your business, I guess. Pro-tip, though: don’t call other people childish while you’re endlessly proclaiming that they’re talking “shit”.

That was the issue. The issue now is your All Mighty All Knowingness’s claim that Gauci was not in Malta on the day in question. What is your evidence?

You’ve misunderstood me. (Fair enough, I guess, my writing was sloppy.) It’s Megrahi whose presence on Malta is debated. He was on the island on December 7th – the date the courts ruled the clothes were purchased on – and wasn’t on November 23rd – the other date that was considered. Evidence seems to point to the earlier date as that of the sale. Gauci said the Christmas lights weren’t up – and they had been on the 7th – and that it had been raining – and there was no evidence of rain on the 7th – both of which would have been true of the earlier Wednesday.

To say the court’s ruling that the purchase took place on the later date is unreliable is not to be obnoxiously presumptuous. The SCCRC stated that “there is no reasonable basis in the trial court’s judgment for its conclusion that the purchase of the items…from Mary’s House…took place on 7 December 1988“.

It’s perhaps worth mentioning other factors that should lead one to question the verdict – if only to make it harder for you to cast it aside as “leftist Belgrano shit”. There is, for example, the fact that Gauci put the man at about six foot and fifty-ish, and Megrahi was five foot eight and would have been thirty-six. Even the judges granted that his description “d[id] not in a number of respects fit the first accused”. Professors Steven Clark and Timothy Valentine reviewed the process by which Gauci identified the Libyan and concluded that they were “unfair“, suggestive of “bias” and likely to create “a serious risk of a mistaken [ID]”. (Their full reports can be located on the MegrahiMyStory website.)

All of which demonstrates that the shopkeeper’s testimony – which was integral to Megrahi’s prosecution – is, indeed, unreliable. Me, I think that’s reason for the evidence to be reviewed and for more effort to be expended on finding new data. With the Michael Jackson of the Maghreb sleeping with the fishes there should be an opporunity for that. And, by the way, I think that it should be investigated quite regardless of the evidence against that one man. Because even if he was a member of the plot, he can’t have been alone, and his co-conspirators must be scattered across the Middle East. Hell, Moussa Koussa – who’d have surely been involved if it was a Libyan operation – was allowed to leg it to Qatar, which is suggestive of how woefully indifferent to the affair our government has been. And, again, that’s true whoever’s guilty.

58. So Much For Subtlety

57. BenSix

It’s possible, I guess, that he thought he’d fail but the fact that his withdrawal came days after his controversial chat with the Scottish Secretary for Justice leads me to feel there are at least grounds for suspicion that it had something to do with his subsequent release. Not a “fail”, in other words.

I see. So you’re basing this on a feeling. Not, you know, evidence or facts. Fine.

Pro-tip, though: don’t call other people childish while you’re endlessly proclaiming that they’re talking “shit”.

And yet when they talk shit, they talk shit. This is an extreme case.

It’s Megrahi whose presence on Malta is debated. He was on the island on December 7th – the date the courts ruled the clothes were purchased on – and wasn’t on November 23rd – the other date that was considered. Evidence seems to point to the earlier date as that of the sale. Gauci said the Christmas lights weren’t up – and they had been on the 7th – and that it had been raining – and there was no evidence of rain on the 7th – both of which would have been true of the earlier Wednesday.

Memories so long after the event are often hazy. It means little that a witness gets some details wrong in a long interview process – especially with two police forces being involved. It means something, but it does not mean much. We know that al-Megrahi flew in two days before the bag departed and left on the same day they did. He never even tried to account for this.

To say the court’s ruling that the purchase took place on the later date is unreliable is not to be obnoxiously presumptuous. The SCCRC stated that “there is no reasonable basis in the trial court’s judgment for its conclusion that the purchase of the items…from Mary’s House…took place on 7 December 1988“.

And yet it is not proof of innocence. Not proof of much really.

Professors Steven Clark and Timothy Valentine reviewed the process by which Gauci identified the Libyan and concluded that they were “unfair“, suggestive of “bias” and likely to create “a serious risk of a mistaken [ID]“. (Their full reports can be located on the MegrahiMyStory website.)

It is amazing what people will do that just happens to help the cause of Gaddafi isn’t it? Suggestive of bias. There isn’t an ID parade in the world that two highly paid academics could not find suggestive of bias. It doesn’t mean it was biased. Nor is their opinion worth a damn. Facts are found by Courts. Not outside experts second guessing.

All of which demonstrates that the shopkeeper’s testimony – which was integral to Megrahi’s prosecution – is, indeed, unreliable.

No, it suggests it was unreliable. Not demonstrates.

Hell, Moussa Koussa – who’d have surely been involved if it was a Libyan operation – was allowed to leg it to Qatar, which is suggestive of how woefully indifferent to the affair our government has been. And, again, that’s true whoever’s guilty.

That is true., Except there is nothing to be gained by giving into the General Belgrano tendency. If you give in once, they will simply demand trial after trial until they get the verdict they want. The outrage was letting him out. Not hanging him. We do not need to have another Bloody Sunday inquiry to reach the same old result. Although Koussa ought to be brought to justice too.

SMFS

I see. So you’re basing this on a feeling. Not, you know, evidence or facts. Fine.

And you’re basing your judgement of Megrahi’s intentions on “evidence and facts”? No. Because we can’t draw an informed conclusion as to what he was thinking. We’re in no position to be sure – not being psychics n’ all. So, you feel it was because he didn’t think he’d win. Fine. And I think the fact – ooh, yes, fact; – that it was so soon after his chat with Kenny MacAskill suggests his impending release could have been significant. Either might be valid. The point is that we can’t know.

Memories so long after the event are often hazy. It means little that a witness gets some details wrong in a long interview process – especially with two police forces being involved. It means something, but it does not mean much.

His testimony was hazy, yes: details were vague, and he contradicted himself several times. And to some extent this might be understandable. After all, I couldn’t identify someone I’d met for a couple of minutes in a shop months ago. All this seems to raise the question, though, of why if we’re going admit that Gauci’s recollections are so questionable we’re going to make his less than unequivocal identification of Megrahi the chunk of evidence on which we prosecute the man. (And, by the way, we still need a good reason to believe the purchase happened on the 7th.)

It is amazing what people will do that just happens to help the cause of Gaddafi isn’t it? Suggestive of bias. There isn’t an ID parade in the world that two highly paid academics could not find suggestive of bias. It doesn’t mean it was biased.

Perhaps their opinions were wrong, and perhaps they were biased in favour of Megrahi. (Though I’m inclined to agree that the process was, indeed, gravely flawed.) While you’re casting aspersions, though, let’s remember that Gauci and his brother were paid hefty sums – sums they’d hoping for – after Tony’s testimony. That’s no reason to conclude that they weren’t absolutely honest but, of course, as with these men, the possibility remains.

I’ll let you have the last word, as we’re only arguing with eachother now and I suspect the chances of one of us convincing the other are, er – well – let’s say marginal. It’s true, by the way, that nothing I’ve said constitutes “proof of innocence“. I haven’t said he’s innocent. But, to my mind, there’s doubt enough that the conviction is unreliable, and as we’re agreed the state should be investigating the facts of the matter and pursuing the other (or, indeed, the real) conspirators I see no reason for it not to be one of the questions to answer.

@BenSix

when they talk shit, they talk shit. This is an extreme case.

Can you get through to him? He never listens to a word I say, he gets shirty with me every time I offer him any advice because he insists that I can’t possibly understand where he’s coming from or how hard is to be him, and he hasn’t tided that room of his in over a month.

This is why I said to you at the start, I really wasn’t sure about having kids….

Do you think it’s too late for one of us to get our tubes tied…?

@SMS, @BenSix,

Cards on the table – I think that al-Megrahi and his co-conspirators in the alleged terror cell *were* involved and in all likelihood did place the bombcase onto the Air Malta flight, and in all likelihood were in some way connected to Libyan security services and Libyan officials tacitly signed off on some freelancing to help out some fellow Arab revolutionary brothers who had had their preparations for the revenge bombing for the Iranian Air passenger jet shot down by the US Navy in the Gulf the previous year.

The PF-LP cell arrested and broken up in Frankfurt 6 weeks earlier had almost identical bombs and timing mechanisms to the time fragments supposedly found. There was also one bomb missing, one less than the Palestinain bomb-maker in Southern Lebanon had made for them. He was horrified when West German police who quesrionned him about the devices he made told him that they were planning to use them to blow up 747s in the air; he thought he was building bus bombs or suicide bombs intended for the West Bank to kill Israelis, not blow planes full of Ameican civilians out of the sky in flight.

The PF-LP had planned to introduce the bomb into the Pam Am baggage chain at Frankfurt, which was where they were caught with all but one of the devices.

They had one device left, but their Frankfurt operation was compromised, so they had to introduce it into the baggage transfer system indirectly elsewhere , where they was less stringent sucurity, so contacted the Libyans, who were happy to act as courier for the final bomb, took possession of it in Malta, where they were able to check it in at the airport and be back in Tripoli in time for tea, bacon earned their consultation fee for basically just getting one of their operatives to take possession of the bomb in Malta, and just checking it onto the place straight onto the plane to Frankfurt. Libya’s role was logistical support.

HBO actually produced a 90minutes docudrama in May 1990, using information gathered direct from the initial FBI investigation’s early findings, along with those of Scottish Borders Police and their own extensive research and independent enquiries on the matter.

Oddly enough, they reached much the same conclusion as related above – the Libyans helped out the Palestinian group after the Frankfurt Cell was broken up, but the whole initiative was initiated at the urging of senior clerics in the Supreme Leader’s inner circle in Tehran, in payback for the Iranian jet blown out of he sky by the US navy in the Gulf the previous year.

Libya fostered a helpful and accommodating image amongst sympathetic islamist terror groups world wide and threw a few extra boxes of sextex their way every now and then. But Libya never initiated signficant non-domestic acts of terror, including via proxies, after Berlin, 1986 and the backlash felt from the policy then.

Reagan would have bombed Tripoli back into the Old Testament and back out the other side if he caught them pulling anything that dumb and public and obvious again so soon after the last one…

@22 flying rodent

“I reckon it speaks volumes that this thread has been open all day, and there’s no pile-on for intervention. Trust me, it wasn’t like this with Libya.”

No, it wasn’t like this with Libya… but then as was pointed out at the time, the Libyan situation wasn’t analogous to e.g. Afghanistan or Iraq, anymore than it is with Syria now.

You were wrong about Libya of course, as events have amply demonstrated…not of course that I would expect you and those others who were opposed to intervention to agree; we will no doubt be treated to lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth from those opposed on both the left and right on the basis that Libya is a mess now (as opposed to the paradise it was before of course….?), and/or it’s all going to go pear shaped because militant Islamists will take power.

Both wrong of course, but to be expected from those whose ideological blinkers allow them to divert attention from unpleasant regimes butchering innocent civilians on the basis that it is none of our business/ too hard / likely to make matters worse.

Syria IS a different case of course (congratulations on getting something at least half right). There is little appetite for intervention, and no realistic prospect of “disinterested” parties coming to the rescue of those struggling to overcome the Assad regime. However disunited the opposition is, it does contain (just like the opposition movements in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain etc.) significant elements who simply want a democratic, secular society with the same freedoms we enjoy.

As has been shown in Libya, after decades of authoritarian rule a secular liberal democarcy cannot be conjured out of thin air. People will (as in Egypt) often vote for Islamic parties like the Muslim Brotherhood, who have a record of opposition to the previous regime.

The challenge for “the West” in the long term is to help transform countries like Libya, Tunisia and Egypt into secular democracies with the rule of law, free media and judiciary, protection for minorities… all the things we take for granted. The mistake we make is thinking that this can be done easily, or on the cheap. Despite the lessons of history of the costs and efforts involved in defeating Nazism and Japanese militarism, or resisting communism post WW2, our leaders snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as in Afghanistan, or fail to take preventative action early enough as in the Balkans in the 90’s.

Impotence is probably is the right description, sadly for those on the receiving end of the wrath of the Assad regime. They are no less deserving of protection than those in Libya of course… or indeed those in Yemen, Bahrain and any number of other parts of the world. With luck, it won’t take 250,000 deaths as it did in the Balkans before the violence ends; whether the resolution is Assad triumphant or hanging from a lamp post or in the Hague for crimes against humanity remains to be seen.

64. flyingrodent

but then as was pointed out at the time, the Libyan situation wasn’t analogous to e.g. Afghanistan or Iraq

Oh God, no. The Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns both involved extreme violence and massive infrastructure damage in the initial months; both are now fractious, violent semi-states with ineffectual governments that cannot effectively control the heavily-armed militia groups who in effect rule the country with total impunity;

Corruption, torture, arbitrary detention, religious and racial persecution are rife; political manouevering is fraught with the very real danger of inter-factional violence; “The rule of law” means “Arbitrary rule by diktat, enforced at gunpoint on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis”.

Every one of these problems is now endemic to Libya, just as they are in Iraq or Afghanistan but, like you say, Libya certainly wasn’t analogous to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Oh no! Even if the results of intervention were the same, that’s just a startling and misleading coincidence. There are practically no similarities at all!

You were wrong about Libya of course, as events have amply demonstrated…

Feel free to remind me where I went so badly wrong, if you like. I made various goofs, but I think my record stands up quite well, compared to those who didn’t have the balls to make any definite predictions.

In fact, I recall that my main arguments were that

1) Nato didn’t have a clue what it was doing and had placed all of its eggs in a basket marked “extreme violence today, peace and stability tomorrow; My, these heavily armed militias seem like a nice bunch of lads”;

2) That Nato was flagrantly abusing a mandate to “protect civilians” in order to pursue a not-so-concealed agenda of regime change, and was intentionally and brazenly lying when asked about it;

3) That many thousands of people were very likely to get gruesomely killed in the short term and prolonged instability would likely kill many thousands more, potentially destabilising the entire region;

4) That those cheering on intervention did not give a shit about any of this and would probably disown any and all ill effects resulting as Unforeseeable Problems that are Somebody Else’s Fault, and that

5) Libya might be an intervention too far – the one that broke R2P as a concept in law, because our actions exceeded our mandate so blatantly and destructively that other countries wouldn’t allow repeats. Hi there, people of Syria!

I had a look over this a couple of months back, and I recall making various errors – I thought a Black Hawk Down incident was likely; I said then that Nato would directly kill significantly more people directly, rather than having the rebels do it on their behalf, and I worried a lot more about potential influence by Jihadist groups. Halfway through the war, I started to worry that it would grind on indefinitely which, in retrospect, is a daft thing to say about any war with an army under the command of a Gaddafi on one side.

Still, call me nuts, but I think my predictions panned out rather more accurately than those of the pro-interventionists, but that isn’t hard – few, if any, pro-interventionists made any predictions, beyond everything will be better if we use enough bombs.

@63

No, it wasn’t like this with Libya… but then as was pointed out at the time, the Libyan situation wasn’t analogous to e.g. Afghanistan or Iraq, anymore than it is with Syria now.

No, it isn’t. Because at the outset of both of those wars, the country itself wasn’t completely broke and in the midst of eye-watering budget cutting across the board, and more crucially, we still had a fully staffed and stocked volunteer army of professional soldiers and experienced officers and NCOs, who had spent much of the prior 10-20 years training, drilling and preparing a high degree of readiness for the next batch of major combat operations to come along.

After a decade-long bitter war of attrition on two fronts, issues with further recruiting and retaining experienced personnel after they’ve served out their initial tours of duty, many of our best fighters, people managers and efficient administrators dead, crippled, pensioned off, driven half out of their minds, discharged, demobbed or otherwise just fed up, had enough and gone back home to their wives and families, we couldn’t successfully mount a major combat deployment of anything like the scale of Iraq or Afghanistan right at the moment if we tried. And that’s even ignoring our existing troop commitments to those other two regions as they currently stand, which are far from done with and resolved as it is.

Just as the US Air Force planes had over Kosovo and Belgrade did in 1999, the NATO jets enforcing the UN resolution over Libya airspace pretty well damn near ran out of bombs within a matter of days because of the delay in manufacturing and supplying further ordnance and resources once you suddenly begin using it all up at a greatly accelerated rate as opposed to just training, testing and stockpiling it.

British soldiers in Korea had to resort at one point to lobbing tins of Spam at the rapidly advancing Chinese army, hoping they would mistake them for live grenades, so poor was their supply situation and how outnumbered they were; the US and Commonwealth conscript armies were so green, poorly led and inexperienced, they were pretty well massacred and almost forced right back into the sea in the first year of the war before MacArthur pressed home an effective counter-attack to get the Allied forces somewhat off the back foot.

Even if we wanted to, the British Army is in no fit state to fight a war on the ground in either Libya or Syria. They’d get hammered and get ten shades of shit knocked out of them by forces on both sides of the conflict by inserting ourselves in between the two factions, even if we did have a clear view and clear idea of who it was we were allying ourselves with and why, which we don’t, and assuming that we would even be able to notionally do more good than good to their cause by being there, which is even less certain.

Even the “cheap” option of high-level bombing (“humanitarian bombing” as none other than Alastair Campbell first anointed the policy in Kosovo) is costly and dangerous in the extreme and strictly limited in terms of it’s effectiveness unless supported by ground forces. It was of mildly more use in Libya when it came to levelling the playing field by denying Gaddafi’s forces their main advantage of air superiority over the rebel armies, but any claims of neutrality by acting merely to “minimise civilian casualties” by both sides rather than just blatantly aiding the anti-Gaddafi forces outright was just patently transparent bunkum.

That policy just about passes muster with two opposing armies separated by vast expanses of empty, featureless desert, but Syria is a far more urban, concentrated together society, so it’s far too risky to try the same thing again.

Quite aside from the fact that no-one wants us to do it, we don’t really want to do it if we can avoid it and we really shouldn’t do it. It’s a bad call, all round.

But we couldn’t really do it anyway, even if we wanted to.

@64 flyingrodent

“Oh God, no. The Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns both involved extreme violence and massive infrastructure damage in the initial months; both are now fractious, violent semi-states with ineffectual governments that cannot effectively control the heavily-armed militia groups who in effect rule the country with total impunity;”

Afghanistan was already a basket case prior to the Taliban being thrown out as a result of decades of conflict. The main reason it is still such a mess is that rather than concentrate on rebuilding Afghanistan, and trying to foster a civil society and combat islamic extremism, our ridiculous leaders decided to invade Iraq.

Trying to profoundly change any failed state isn’t the work of a few years, nor is it going to be accomplished by the level of trrops or resources allocated to task. Perhaps if “we” had allocated the resources wasted on the disasterous intervention in Iraq on sorting out Afghanistan, things might have worked out better…. tho given the role of Pakistan, one has to wonder.

Of course things are far from perfect in Afghanistan, but your analysis is a caricature; for many people things are certainly far better than they have been for decades. Of course that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to see the kind of trouble seen recently about the burning of Korans….. there are sadly plenty of people willing to kill others and die themselves for the crazy dictates of a medieval faith, or at least their twisted interpretation thereof.

“Every one of these problems is now endemic to Libya, just as they are in Iraq or Afghanistan but, like you say, Libya certainly wasn’t analogous to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

You are (stun us with another) exaggerating naturally. Only an idiot would have expected an instant transformation from 40 year brutal authoritarian dictatorship, to secular liberal democracy overnight. Of course people have scores to settle, and the place is awash with guns… go figure. You can’t have it both ways… either you flood the place with UN peace keepers and/or occupy the country to “impose” a system as was done in Germant and Japan post WW2 perhaps (which we all know isn’t going to happen), or you let the Libyans sort it out for themselves. There are plenty of reports from Libya suggesting that the dystopian nightmare you describe, or the imminent take over by al-Quaeeda so beloved of many others who opposed intervention in the first place, are simply not accurate.

Your predictions, as you freely admit, were wide of the mark. Your ideological blinkers predispose you to a manichean view of what NATO and the others who intervened did. That view is about as convincing and legitimate as the Russian view of the situation in Syria today, or the Assad regime’s claims that the uprising in Syria is the work of foreigners and al-Quaeeda.

You are just another in the long line of shills content to sit on their hands and watch thousands butchered in the name of realpolitik, even in situations where intervention is feasible like Libya, as was the case in Bosnia, Kossovo, Rwanda in the woo-woo certainty that we absolutely shouldn’t intervene in any circumstances unless we have cast iron guarantees in advance of the outcome, and that it will be positive, whilst denying the UN, or any other body the authority, forces or resources to do the job.

@65 spike

“Even if we wanted to, the British Army is in no fit state to fight a war on the ground in either Libya or Syria”

Absolute and utter nonsense. In both cases, in the very unlikely event of a “real” boots on the ground war, the UK/NATO would quickly overwhelm any/all opposition. Of course it wouldn’t be a turkey shoot, but Gaddaffi’s forces were in tatters before NATO went anywhere near them. The Syrians would be stiffer opposition, but would fare little better than Saddam’s forces did in either of the Gulf Wars. Plenty of people like you predicted disaster then, and it just didn’t happen.

“Even the “cheap” option of high-level bombing (“humanitarian bombing” as none other than Alastair Campbell first anointed the policy in Kosovo) is costly and dangerous in the extreme and strictly limited in terms of it’s effectiveness unless supported by ground forces..”

Funny that, it seemed to work out pretty well in Bosnia and Kossovo didn’t it? Perhaps if our feckless leaders had tried it earlier, the Serbs might have been sent packing and not allowed to butcher their way across much of the former Yugoslavia?

“…..but any claims of neutrality by acting merely to “minimise civilian casualties” by both sides rather than just blatantly aiding the anti-Gaddafi forces outright was just patently transparent bunkum.”

Precisely…the only reason it worked was because the West DID blatantly aid the anti-Gaddaffi forces, as they should have!! the alternative, as pointed out to flying rodent above would have been to watch the revolution crushed due to the superior forces available to gaddaffi. Much the same happened in Bosnia, where the international community stood by and held their noses, denied the Bosnians aid or protection, and allowed the Serbs to bomb Sarajevo for years, and perpetrate massacres like Srebrenica because they took the line being advocated by people like flyingrodent.

I don’t happen to think there is much we can do in the Syrian situation, because each of these situations has to be judged on it’s merits, and there are some situations where we won’t be able to act…. however, in others we both can and should.

Galen

Only an idiot would have expected an instant transformation from 40 year brutal authoritarian dictatorship, to secular liberal democracy overnight.

I suppose widespread torture and executions are mere teething problems, then?

A damning report by Amnesty International says that a year after the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s militias are “largely out of control”, with the use of torture ubiquitous and the country’s new rulers unable – or unwilling – to prevent abuses…

Thousands of detainees are being held in various prisons across the country. In at least 12 cases since October, prisoners have been tortured to death, including Omar Brebesh, Libya’s former ambassador to France, who died in Tripoli last month.

It’s true that brutality in the aftermath of a power shift is no reason to conclude that no good will come from it. (There are some awful stories of the treatment of real or alleged collaborators in post-war France, for example, and the French, for all we jest, haven’t done badly for themselves.) But the point is that with lawless killers roaming the nation and a central government that cheerily proclaims that Islam is going to be the source of its legislation, it’s idiotic to be confident.

And by the way…

The challenge for “the West” in the long term is to help transform countries like Libya, Tunisia and Egypt into secular democracies with the rule of law, free media and judiciary, protection for minorities… all the things we take for granted.

I’ve never seen opinion polls for Libya, and I was gravely disappointed by the victory of Ennahda in Tunisia because there are big secularist elements there, but it might interest you to know that over three quarters of Egyptians desire the strict implementation of Sharia law. How is “the West” going to “transform” their minds into ones that are keen on even a semblance of secularism? Dropping copies of On Liberty? This is what bugs me about the livelier universalists: it’s generally implausible to think that we can “free” a people living under tyranny but it’s downright impossible to make a people who are fond of tyranny want to be free. And there are many of them. Humans have no natural inclination towards liberalism.

Spike

Interesting. I’ll watch the doc. when I’ve got time.

I’d recommend Megrahi’s book (there’s been a lot of talk of it in the press). It’s said to contain weighty information regarding the timer fragments.

@68 BenSix

“But the point is that with lawless killers roaming the nation and a central government that cheerily proclaims that Islam is going to be the source of its legislation, it’s idiotic to be confident.”

Is it more idiotic to be confident than it is to believe in the inevitability of disaster, or “another Iraq” or the triumph of islamic fundamentalism? None of these outcomes are inevitable, any more than a secular liberal democracy is inevitable. There are plenty of ordinary Libyans who want just that however, just as there are no doubt plenty who would rather like an islamic state like that in Iran.

As you say, many liberated peoples will take revenge on those who have oppressed them and/or collaborators within their own community; I’m not excusing it at all, but the fact it is happening in Libya isn’t some magic “told you so” card proving that those who opposed intervention were right all along.

Of course it isn’t possible to “force” people to be free, but history is replete with examples of regimes who hold elections, rig the results, and proclaim a mandate they don’t really have. Lots of Russians support Putin, or hanker after the good old days of Stalin. Many Iranians no doubt sincerely support the Islamic Republic. Plenty of Germans supported Hitler until the bitter end.

There are of course some people who will never be convinced that the values we hold dear are either universal, or even a “good thing” per se; they actually rather like the power to discriminate against political opponents, religious minorities, homosexuals, women, different ethnic groups.

Perhaps I am one of the universalists who bug you so much… guilty as charged. I don’t accept your rather gloomy view that humans have no natural inclination toward liberalism, and I certainly don’t accept it as an apologia for opposing authoritarianism and where possible intervening to prevent innocent civilians being killed in their thousands.

@67

Funny that, it seemed to work out pretty well in Bosnia and Kossovo didn’t it? Perhaps if our feckless leaders had tried it earlier, the Serbs might have been sent packing and not allowed to butcher their way across much of the former Yugoslavia?

Well, except, no, it didn’t work out very well at all, in fact in many areas, it further entrenched deep and bitter divisions and ethnic rivalries and made many things substantially far worse for our intervention by doing the wrong thing and going about it completely wrong the wrong way by sticking our oar in to intervene reactively, rather than proactively.

And don’t kid yourself either that just because Serb-supremacist forces proclaiming loyalty to Belgrade initiated the violence and committed by far the most large-scale programs of systematic violence that there wasn’t violence and blame, as well as attrocities committed by all sides in the name of protecting their homes in that war.

That kind of thinking is what leads a Democratic President and a British Labour government prosecuting a protected campaign of high level bombing, which included dropping bombs on a column of nearly a thousand unarmed refugees fleeing the area of foot, because NATO Air Commanders mistook the column for a column of soldiers, troops and armoured vehicles they assumed were being sent in to brutalise and murder those exact, self-same bunch of people who you’ve just now bombed all to death.

Well, that was worthwhile, as far as interventions into foreign wars to protect the plucky underdogs goes…

“Humanitarian bombing”. The mind boggles. Yes, we had to bomb these people to prevent the Serbs from killing and oppressing them. Now they’re free! And dead. But free!

That’s New Labour all over it is, that one…

72. flyingrodent

Trying to profoundly change any failed state isn’t the work of a few years

“You know that thing that we said was a Straightforward Moral Imperative that should be unconditionally supported? Well, it turns out it’s actually pretty damn complicated. Let’s kill a few thousand more people on the off-chance that it’ll work. Oh, and can I borrow a trillion dollars? Kthnxbai”.

Perhaps if “we” had allocated the resources wasted on the disasterous intervention in Iraq on sorting out Afghanistan, things might have worked out better…

“Perhaps if frogs had mopeds, they wouldn’t bump their arses on the ground”.

tho given the role of Pakistan, one has to wonder.

“Terrorists ate our homework”.

Of course things are far from perfect in Afghanistan…

“You can’t make an omelette without killing a few thousand civilians in pursuit of a vaguely-defined goal”.

there are sadly plenty of people willing to kill others and die themselves for the crazy dictates of a medieval faith, or at least their twisted interpretation thereof…

“Terrorists ate our homework yet again”.

Only an idiot would have expected an instant transformation from 40 year brutal authoritarian dictatorship, to secular liberal democracy overnight.

“You can’t make two omelettes without killing a few thousand more civilians”.

Of course people have scores to settle, and the place is awash with guns…

“I am aware of all the militia rule, arbitrary detention, torture and murder and I am content to euphemise it neutrally for political purposes, because I literally could not give a fuck about any data that calls my opinion into question”.

Your ideological blinkers predispose you to a manichean view of what NATO and the others who intervened did.

“You are accurately describing what Nato and others did and were repeatedly proven to have done on television, in newspapers and occasionally from their own mouths, because are you are a crazy man or some shit. No other explanation is possible”.

it will be positive, whilst denying the UN, or any other body the authority, forces or resources to do the job.

“Who are you gonna believe – me, or your lyin’ eyes?”

73. flyingrodent

The main reason it is still such a mess is that rather than concentrate on rebuilding Afghanistan… our ridiculous leaders decided to invade Iraq.

I can’t see any reason at all to believe that this is true. Afghanistan was a violent patchwork of warring clans before western nations intervened; it’s still a violent patchwork of warring clans now. I can see no reason whatsoever to believe that another trillion dollars of aid or another fifty thousand troops would’ve made any notable difference at any point in the last decade.

I realise the notion that Afghanistan was once “winnable” is received wisdom, but this idea is false. It springs from the US Democratic Party, who wanted to appear anti-war while still being pro-war back in 2004. Thus, they ran consecutive elections on the idea that the Republicans were fighting the wars badly. Chief among their complaints – that the invasion of Iraq, which they now opposed after initially supporting it, had in some way undermined the war effort in Afghanistan.

Very convenient for everyone, except perhaps the Afghans themselves and the squaddies who have spent the last decade being shot at and blown up for a military fantasy.

Now in reality, western forces achieved their military objective – degrading and dispersing al Qaeda – easily enough, and then… stayed in Afghanistan. They chose to continue to occupy the country for reasons that have never made much sense. Naturally, they spent much of that time butting heads with Afghanistan’s Pashtun minority. After a few years of low-level skirmishing, incinerated wedding parties and night raids, the Pashtuns collectively decided that the west had to go.

And now, here we are. Where democracy enters this picture, with Afghan politicians openly calling for jihad against the US and the Bush admin’s chosen patsy still in charge after a decade, is anyone’s guess.

You are just another in the long line of shills content to sit on their hands and watch thousands butchered in the name of realpolitik.

“Realpolitik” is an academic/political analytical framework for predicting and implementing foreign policy issues and initiatives. In the modern world, it means believing that states will always act in a manner consistent with their own interests, and it’s famous for the “Our son-of-a-bitch” theory of tyrant-sponsorship.

I’m not a Realpolitik kind of person. I’m a strong advocate for “paying attention to reality“, a very different concept. This implies approaching the world as it is, and not trying to force it to behave as we want it to; recognising that our military power can only be exercised within practical limits, and an awareness that even the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang agley. Be prepared!

Now, I can see why you’d find that upsetting – after all, you’re very much from the school of Our intentions are pure enough so fuck it, bombs away and fingers crossed that has proven to be so very, very successful elsewhere this decade. It’s characterised by highly emotive moral grandstanding in pursuit of unattainable objectives; angry denunciation of dissenters and a tendency to walk away from all of the disasters your chosen policies cause, saying Terrorists ate our homework, what ya gonna do? Hey, let’s bomb Syria instead, that’ll be awesome!

Which is why it’s such a bloody disaster when people like you get the ear of the Prime Minister – you smash up your toys with great enthusiasm, then get distracted and leave someone else to clear up the mess.

Just while we’re talking “ideological blinkers” here, of course.

@72 flyingrodent

“Who are you gonna believe – me, or your lyin’ eyes?”

Aw, bless… I wouldn’t believe anything you’d had a hand in trying and failing to analyse. I’ve met primary school kids with a better grasp of current affairs.

@70

The Kovsovo War was not fought over Kosovo, the Kosovo War was fought to punish Milosovich and either kill him in a bombing raid or pre-empt a domestic coup in Serbia.

It didn’t. It strengthened Milosovich’s grip on power, rallied the whole country behind him, particularly the moderates and his opponents and led to a dramatic, almost immediate upsurge in anti-Albanian anti-KLA raids and crackdowns in Kosovo as a result of the newly emboldened surge in KLA assaults on Serbs in the province.

There may or may not have been ethnic cleansing on the part of the Serbs in Kosovo before we began bombing Belgrade, but there certainly was once we did start. Way, WAY more people on both sides of the ethnic device in Kosovo died or were displaced or dispossed as a direct result of NATO high-level bombing in the war than had ever died as a result of Serb clampdowns on the KLA violence in the province in the years prior to the war.

This is like NATO bombing London with cruise missiles for 3 solid weeks over the treatment of IRA suspects and the police’s attempts to frame the Birmingham 6, with the ultimatum given that the bombing will only cease if and only if the UK Government orders a total and immediate withdraw of British Troops from Northern Ireland and sets a date for the handover of control to the province to the Provisional IRA. It’s as big an over-reaction as that.

And you know what? If doing so brought back even 10% of the victims of Srebrinzia, or undid the rape of just a few dozen of the women who suffered it there, I might still agree that it was perhaps a price worth paying.

But it didn’t.

And it couldn’t. Carpet bombing Belgrade didn’t bring even one dead Bosniak or undo the rape of a single Croat child.

It just got us a lot more dead Serbs and even more dead Kosovo Albanians.

What a helpful service we were able to render to the region. Just what the doctor ordered.

And people think the Iraq War was illegal and immoral…. People have short memories.

@71 Spike

“Well, except, no, it didn’t work out very well at all, in fact in many areas, it further entrenched deep and bitter divisions and ethnic rivalries and made many things substantially far worse for our intervention by doing the wrong thing and going about it completely wrong the wrong way by sticking our oar in to intervene reactively, rather than proactively.”

As it went, the aerial bombardment has to be counted a huge success… and was widely seen and reported as such at the time. Given that there was no political will to put “boots on the ground” in Bosnia (whether NATO, UN or whatever), the only realistic alternative was to use air strikes to take out Serb heavy weapons, armour and strong points.

Of course we could also have armed the Bosnians to let them defend themselves, rather than abandon them to the tender mercies of Karadzic and Mladic. I imagine the thousands of people who died in Sarajevo might have been glad of air strikes a few years earlier than they took place.

I agree and have previously argued that the mistake in Bosnia was that we didn’t react early enough or hard enough, but given that it didn’t happen the correct response later in the face of increasing Serb atrocities was not to simply sit back and let it happen. Yes there were atrocities on all sides, but trying to make some equivalence between the guilt of the Serbs and that of their opponents and victims is totally skewed logic.

Serb supremacists were overwhelmingly culpable for what went on, and the crimes of some Bosnians or Croats doesn’t alter the relative weight of responsibility, or indicate that we can simply lump all the participants together and say a plague on both your houses, which are after all in countries far away of which we know nothing. The sickening thing is, that lesson wasn’t learnt in the 30’s, and shouldn’t have needed to be re-learnt in the Balkans in the 90’s.

@73 flyingrodent

“I can’t see any reason at all to believe that this is true. Afghanistan was a violent patchwork of warring clans before western nations intervened; it’s still a violent patchwork of warring clans now. I can see no reason whatsoever to believe that another trillion dollars of aid or another fifty thousand troops would’ve made any notable difference at any point in the last decade.”

Yes, I know you can’t see the reason… which is why you need to take the blinkers off. Afghanistan was a failed state when the west intervened. the current situation there was NOT inevitable, but to be different it would have necessitated a much different approach. It simply isn’t good enough for you to come out with all the clap trap above about “the terrorists ate my homework” and think you’ve scored some knowxk out rhetorical blow… because you haven’t.

The problem with Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of intervention was that those in charge at the time believed they could change it from a basket case to something stable within an unrealistic timescale, with too little investment, and using the bare minimum of (often badly equipped) troops.

What they should have done of course, was be honest and realise that to transform a society like that, you’d have to throw money at it (and lots of it…say, like the trillion wasted in Iraq), stay for a generation or two, and have many more troops on the ground ensuring security, and training local forces.

Educating the populace that it isn’t OK to kill people for buring a Koran, or because they are a Hazara infidel, or won’t wear a chador etc is a different kind of task to e.g. de-Nazifying post WW2 Germany. Fashioning a secular, liberal democracy from the ruins of an authoritarian state isn’t impossible, or even improbable… it IS a long term, expensive operation.

Plenty of Afghans (and more recently Libyans) are pretty keen to have the same kind of freedoms we all enjoy… but they need our support, and they deserved better than the crass policies our feckless leaders enacted over the past decade.

Afghanistan was winnable, the fault is with the enactment and the dishonesty of our leaders.

As for your infantile “Terrorists ate our homework, what ya gonna do? Hey, let’s bomb Syria instead, that’ll be awesome!” line, as I’ve already said, I don’t think intervention in Syria would be wise, nor is it on the cards. Context is everything; we should do things about problems we can try and solve, and accept that there are some we probably can’t.

What we shouldn’t do is accept the dialogue of despair that because we can’t guarnatee success in advance, we should always err on the side of caution and do nothing, regardless of context.

@75 spike

I’d love to see you peddle that line with some of the Kossovars I’ve met and talked to about what happened before they fled their homes. I suspect their analysis might differ from yours. Your analysis of what actually happened is no more convincing than the misinformation spouted on the Russian media about what is going on in Syria… the fact they sincerely believe it doesn’t make it any more true.

79. flyingrodent

What they should have done of course, was be honest and realise that to transform a society like that, you’d have to throw money at it… stay for a generation or two, and have many more troops on the ground ensuring security, and training local forces.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but your preferred policy here is hopelessly fucked beyond all possibility of recovery. We are leaving! There is no Afghanistan project. After more than a decade, we have admitted it was a ruinous pipe-dream, and our armed forces are coming home.

While it’s theoretically possible that some kind of “success” could’ve been attained – and perhaps has been, in a parallel dimension where the west invaded Afghanistan twice as hard; painted its schools twice as beige and lectured its citizens on civics for twice as long – this is not what has happened.

What happened was this – abject failure! Live, on national television!

Further, there is no reason to believe that any kind of success was ever possible. Your assertion that another outcome could’ve been achieved given infinite time and money is just that – an assertion. It’s nothing but a windy mix of speculation and magical thinking. You can’t give any serious reason to believe otherwise because there are no reasons to believe otherwise.

I’ll say this again – the sole reason why anyone, anywhere believes that Afghanistan could’ve been turned into anything remotely resembling a liberal democracy is that once upon a time, it suited the Democratic Party’s electoral strategy to pretend that such an outcome was possible.

Educating the populace that it isn’t OK to kill people for buring a Koran, or because they are a Hazara infidel, or won’t wear a chador etc is a different kind of task to e.g. de-Nazifying post WW2 Germany. Fashioning a secular, liberal democracy from the ruins of an authoritarian state isn’t impossible, or even improbable… it IS a long term, expensive operation.

Jesus Christ. Look, not only is there no money now for this kind of latter-day Marshall Plan/de-Nazification programme*… There was no money for it then, either! It was all borrowed, fantasy money and all of that debt has half-crushed the western world!

And, as if all of this weren’t blindingly obvious, bonk-bonk on the forehead Hello, McFly! stuff… The UK is leaving Afghanistan. While you’re up on your high horse calling for the education of the world’s downtrodden, this is what the government is announcing – http://tinyurl.com/7n3xa3k – mass withdrawals. Yesterday!

Do you have any idea what you’re talking about, you ludicrous Walter Mitty bletherskite? Your proposals are crashing down around your ears like a dynamited building and you’re still insisting that it would all have been alright, if we’d invaded on a Tuesday instead. It’s completely irrational and entirely insane.

Well. For the millionth time, I’ve got to say it – Some motherfuckers are always tryin’ to ice-skate uphill.

*Which were, incredibly obviously, largely successful because they were used on a western populace that had a history of democracy and individual freedom that is merely nascent at best in the countries you’re describing. Parachuting such a plan into third-world warzones makes this kind of thing ten times harder to achieve, you hilarious fantasist you.

Educating the populace that it isn’t OK to kill people for buring a Koran, or because they are a Hazara infidel, or won’t wear a chador etc is a different kind of task to e.g. de-Nazifying post WW2 Germany. Fashioning a secular, liberal democracy from the ruins of an authoritarian state isn’t impossible, or even improbable… it IS a long term, expensive operation.

Again – how. How do you think “we’re” going to teach the Afghans, and the Egyptians, and the Libyans and, hell, while we’re on a roll, the Pakistanis, Saudis, Africans and Eskimos that they should all be upstanding liberals? Where’s the money? Where the resources? Heck, how do you get them to accept an alien philosphy, however rich and well-equipped you are? I don’t expect an answer because, of course, it isn’t possible. Even the Germans – and, as FR says, there’s neither the will or the way that the Allies had – had only been fascists for, say, a coupl’a decades. Afghanistan, despite the slow progress under the British, in the 1900s and under the Russians, have never been at all liberal, still less secular. That’s not to say they won’t accept such ideas sometime down the line – who knows how their society will evolve – but it’s monstrously arrogant to think we can just “educate” them (and most of the rest of the globe).

@76

As it went, the aerial bombardment has to be counted a huge success… and was widely seen and reported as such at the time. Given that there was no political will to put “boots on the ground” in Bosnia (whether NATO, UN or whatever), the only realistic alternative was to use air strikes to take out Serb heavy weapons, armour and strong points.

Except that there were boots on the ground. Almost right from the start.

Right there, 15 feet away, standing right next to the Serb troops, watching them liquidate and massacre an entire town, standing right there, looking at the Serb militias gang-raping grandmothers and little girls alike, both before and after they shot them in the head and the UN troops never fired a shot, never lifted a finger, nor said so much as one word in protest while the Srebrinzia massacre was taking place right in front of their eyes. And the Serbs knew they wouldn’t when they did it.

The Dutch Army UN Peacekeepers had been put in to establish and enforce the UN safe area around Srbreniza. But their UN mandate gave them only incredibly restrictive rules of engagement, which were never lifted, which meant that they could only return fire if they were fired upon. Which was fine for the Serbs, they weren’t interested in shooting at the Dutch Peacekeepers, they were only interested in massacring the Bosniaks, so they just marched them out of the “Safe Area” en masse, lined them up and shot the lot of them.

They also had rules that said that they couldn’t engage in firefights with groups of civilians, only Yugoslav Army regulars. Well, the militias were all civilians. And Mladic wasn’t an officer in the Serb army, any more than Robert E Lee was a General in the Union Army – he was an officer in the army of the self-proclaimed and unrecognised army of Greater Serbia, which therefore made him and the troops under his command irregulars too. The Dutch troops couldn’t touch them.

Mladic knew that, as did his entire force. Troops on the ground were meaningless. That’s why he invited the Dutch CO over to his headquarters and photographed the two of them toasting one another’s health on the morning of the attack while his forces got lined up to begin massacring people.

@75

I’d love to see you peddle that line with some of the Kossovars I’ve met and talked to about what happened before they fled their homes. I suspect their analysis might differ from yours.

Which ones? The Ethnic Albanians Kossovars chased out by the Serb police and the NATO bombing in 1999 who then came straight back after the war, or the Kossovar Serbs who have been subjected to constant intimidation, fear, hate crime, vigilante attacks, organised rioting and ethnic violence in the newly created ethnically homogenous artificially created non-state ever since?

Let’s be clear about this – there were, and are no Kossovars, as a group. There are Albanians who live in Kosovo and Serbs who live in Kosovo, although admittedly, aside from the enclaves, there’s now hardly any of them left now anymore. They’ve nearly all been forced out. Even at the time, the world media on the ground refrained from describing the non-white, non-Chritian majority in the province not as “Kosovan”, but the far more cumbersome “Ethnic Albanians”

The Bosnian Genocide was perpetrated by Serbs working to establish an ethnically homogenous Greater Serbia along their historic regional boundaries – the gravestones of KLA martyrs (and I’ve seen some if them) feature their picture, alongside a map illustrating the ethnically homogenous republic of Greater Albania, for whose glory they fought and gave their lives. It includes all of modern Albania, all of Kosovo and parts of Greece and Bosnia as well…

Our intervention effectively established Kosovo as a NATO subsidised client state to Albania, a country so backwards and corrupt in it’s political culture and public life that their first president had to resign after bankrupting the national economy on a pyramid scheme he had set up. They’re so corrupt, they’re not even allowed into the Euro…. Which doesn’t really matter, since Kosovo does, despite the complete absence of any Central Bank. making it the main port of entry into the EU for drug trafficking, sex trafficking and money laundering from all over Eastern Europe.

Of course, they do have NATO Peackeepers on the ground to keep order… Italian ones. Mainly right-wing supporters of Berlesconi and his mates, and who differ only from their Dutch predecessors in their willingess to accept cash bribes and assist with the whoring, coke and trade in human flesh to the rest of Europe and can be relied on to completely ignore the wave of church burnings that continue to regularly occur in and around Serb Orthodox holy sites and places of worship.

Another job well done there, then.

@76

As it went, the aerial bombardment has to be counted a huge success…

Using what criteria?

We destroyed two Serb tanks. Old ones. Ones that the Serbs probably left outside deliberately for us to hit as decoys.

Serb civilians were going out every night of their own accord and standing on bridges carrying the roads in and out of Belgrade, which we had announced we would bomb, wearing T-Shirts with Targets stencilled on their chests.

We did, however succeed in bombing and destroying the following things:-

– A Serbian cigarette factory, which for some reason we bombed and hit three nights in a row, just to make sure.

– The Chinese Embassy, with the death of the entire Chinese dipmomatic mission inside (an MI-6 officer noted dryly at the time “If we’d been placed in charge of this one, we’d have a chap there on the street, tying up his shoelace, taking a look at the brass plaque on the front of the building

– Column of 1000 Albanian refugees (see above)

The Serbian version of Dad’s Army however, were able to successfully shoot down a $50million F-117 Stealth Bomber, supposedly totally invisible to all radar and electronic tracking currently known, using a World War II era anti-aircraft battery and presumably targeting and locking onto the thing just by looking at it, which is the first and only Stealth Bomber in history even hit by anything, much less shot down.

They also tricked the NATO pilots into wasting the US airforce’s entire stockpile of heat-seaking, infrared guided SMART bombs, over 300 sorties in less than 3 weeks at $150,000 per bomb by, rather ingeniously, placing old fan heaters, small fires or old microwave ovens left turned on inside scrap Yugo chassises left next to decoy wooden tanks. Which is why we only destroyed 2 tanks with over 300 state of the art SMART bombs. Old ones.

Oh, and we blew up the Yugo factory, and the Serbian TV Station. Which was a “legitimate military target”. Because it was broadcasting non-stop “propaganda”… Or “news”, as the people of Belgrade thought of it.

Which set the precedent, by the way, which meant that George W. Bush considered it perfectly okay to consider an airstrike against Al-Jazeera’s global broadcast centre and HQ in Quatar during the Iraq War, as they were broadcasting “propaganda”… Or, rather “news”…

He was actually going to do it and genuinely didn’t see a problem with it, as Clinton and Blair together had decided for the need to knock out Milosovich’s media machine by bombing Serb TV in Belgrade, which he considered to be basically the same as bombing Al-Jazeera. And he was right. And he was ready to do it too, until he told Blair, who was horrified and spent the best part of an hour to eventually talk him out of it.

@76

Here, take a look –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kd1Uj2UvnE

You’ll notice the archive news footage from the Kossovar Independence Protest that went down in 2004.

You’ll notice the crowd is more than a little fired up and rowdy, shouting slogans degenerating into lawlessness and disorder, waving around the Albanian flag. You can see it there, right in front of the Church they’re in the process of setting light to.

Now, I’ve been in my share of riots and protests, and I’m a pretty open-minded, anti-authoritarian kinda guy, highly tolerant of the views and opinions of others and however they choose to express themselves.

When members of your protest group begin torching churches, ripping metal crosses from the roof of an Orthodox Church that’s stood there intact for over 700 years just to hurl them to the ground into the dirt, that usually means that I’ve pretty much run out of sympathy for the justness of your cause.

This, apparently, is, not an uncommon occurrence. Orthodox monestries and ancient churches and pilgrimage sights in Kosovo (of which there are many, including a few World Heritage Sites) are regularly defaced and vandalised or have petrol bombs rolled in the door in arson attempts, bur the Italian peacekeepers

@79 FR

“Further, there is no reason to believe that any kind of success was ever possible. Your assertion that another outcome could’ve been achieved given infinite time and money is just that – an assertion. It’s nothing but a windy mix of speculation and magical thinking. You can’t give any serious reason to believe otherwise because there are no reasons to believe otherwise.”

If you can’t even see the illigicality of your own postings, then there is of course scant hope you can be brought to see the flaws in your own argument. I’ve never said that our policy in Afghanistan has been successful, although the outcome is in general nowhere near as bad as painted by thoseopposed to any intervention, under any circumstances, generally for ideological reasons.

Of course it is an “assertion” that a better outcome could have been obtained if a different policy had been followed; just as it is an assertion on your part that no other outcome than the current one was ever possible, or indeed your demonstrably incorrect “assertions” (which at least you have had the good grace to admit) about what would happen in Libya.

“I’ll say this again – the sole reason why anyone, anywhere believes that Afghanistan could’ve been turned into anything remotely resembling a liberal democracy is that once upon a time, it suited the Democratic Party’s electoral strategy to pretend that such an outcome was possible.”

LOL..the biggest pile of nonsense I’ve read for a long time… which is saying something given some of the guff you read on this site and elsewhere in cyberia. Of course such an outcome was “possible”, given the right conditions it could even have been made highly likely. Trying to pretend things are were always inevitable because your 20-20 hindsight allows you to shout “ha, told you so!”, doesn’t always work though does it? Few people thought Japan or Germany could be made into democracies post WW2; they had precious little previous experience of it after all.

Hanging this whole issue on the wants of the US Democratic party simply makes you look like a weird tin hat wearing conspiracy theorist…. mind you, if the tin hat fits….

@80 BenSix

Irrespective of the current economic crisis (which only started a few years ago, so can hardly be retrospectively used as a rationale), there is and was plenty of money which would have resulted in a different outcome… pace the earlier discussion about the trillions wasted on the ill-advised invasion of Iraq. a fraction of the resources used there would have contributed much to a different outcome in Afghanistan.

Of course it is possible to re-educate people, as Germant and Japan amply demonstrate. Germany had scant experience of democracy, and Japan virtually none before it was imposed on them post WW2.

It’s not monstrously arrogant to think that the Afghans, or anyone else for that matter, deserve to have the same freedoms and opportunities as we do. That’s what millions of them want, irrespective of the islamic fundamentalists and other sundry bogey men that too many glib commentators on both the political left and right here try and scare us with.

I’d suggest that you first take the log out of your own eye before accusing others of monstrous arrogance; you’re just another in the long line of hypocrites insisting that the fuzzy wuzzies aren’t capable of governing themselves, or establishing democracy etc.

@81 spike

The boots on the ground I was referring to (as you no doubt realise, but wilfully ignore) would have been either UN or NATO enforcement forces, capable of taking on the Serbs; that’s not what e.g. the Dutch peacekeepers were mandated to do, nor were they equipped to resist a full onslaught by what was effectively the full force of the rump ex Yugoslav army.

Again, you are simply making my case for me: all the refuseniks who hysterically rant against any intervention, or ensure it is laughably weak and under equipped when it does happen, and then have a “ta-da” moment to “prove” that it doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work in those circumstances, as Srebrenica and Rwanda amply demonstrate. The same thing would have happened in Benghazi if we hadn’t intervened, but this place was full of bleeding hearts quite willing to watch it all happen because we couldn’t guarantee a positive outcome, and because it might involve civilian casualties…as though Gaddaffi and his minions weren’t about to butcher their way through Benghazi.

88. flyingrodent

Few people thought Japan or Germany could be made into democracies… Germany had scant experience of democracy, and Japan virtually none before it was imposed on them post WW2…

But this is just another trite little phrase that means nothing whatsoever. It’s just pom-pom waving and nothing more.

Germany and Japan may have had little experience of democracy but, very much unlike Afghanistan, they both had plenty of experience in being stable, first-world economies.

Both nations had at least decades of experience running highly successful manufacturing and finance industries. Both had highly literate workforces with good living standards; both had traditions of strong central government and – even after the worst war in history! – would be able to boost manufacturing and exports to pre-war levels within years.

The Japanese had previously proved incredibly adaptable, moving from an agrarian, feudal society to a first world industrial economy in a few short decades, purely by government decree. The Germans had always been one of the world’s leading industrial powers!

By contrast, Afghanistan is a basket-case hodgepodge of warring clans with no government, no infrastructure, almost no industrial capacity, precious little civil society and an economy based on opium exports. Not only does it have no relevant tradition of democracy, it has no relevant tradition of enforcable civil or criminal law, FFS.

Furthermore, Germany and Japan were substantially destroyed, their peoples defeated and driven past all desire for continued warfare. Germany suffered 5.5 million military casualties, while the Japanese took over 2 million; their populations were on their knees, begging for peace.

In Afghanistan, meantime, war has been the norm for decades, if not for millenia. Not only are half the population utterly undefeated, they are actively enthusiastic about more war, for however long it takes!

I mean, it’s certainly true that millions of Afghans are happier with the status quo than they would be with the Taliban. Sadly, millions of other Afghans are so determined to oust the west that they are determined to sacrifice thousands upon thousands of their own lives to achieve this goal, whether it’s necessary tomorrow or twenty years hence.

I mean, I’d like to say that “Oooh, Germany and Japan, that was hard” is like saying that, because picking up a rock is difficult but achievable… Let’s get together and lift a mountain!

Sadly, it’s considerably stupider and more irrelevant than that – it’s a ridiculous, fundamental category error. When you compare post WWII reconstruction to Afghanistan, you’re not even comparing “apples” and “oranges”. They, at least, are both fruits.

What you’re doing is comparing “apples” and “Thursday”, and then insisting that with a bit of willpower plus infinite men, materiel and money, it is theoretically possible to turn “Thursday” into “George Best’s performance in the 1968 European Cup final”.

Of all the pieces of nodding-dog, yeah-me-too received wisdom that have propped up our ridiculous war, the Germany/Japan thing is one of the most idiotic. It’s right up there with “If we’d had infinite resources, we could’ve won”.

Trying to pretend things are were always inevitable because your 20-20 hindsight allows you to shout “ha, told you so!”, doesn’t always work though does it?

Yes, it works perfectly well. After all, we have no example of a functioning Afghan democracy living at peace with itself in the twenty first century. It remains a fantasy, mere flim-flam with no more substance than Narnia or Tellytubbyland.

On the other hand, we have a great, glaring example of an ungovernable Afghanistan utterly riven by factional violence, with a government that is utterly incapable of sustaining itself and an economy that is almost entirely driven by crime and war. We have a stark example of what total defeat in Afghanistan looks like, because we have been totally defeated in Afghanistan.

You’re insisting that it could all have been so different, because an apple is Thursday and if we had all wished really hard that Thursday was actually George Best’s performance in the 1968 European Cup final, then it might all have turned out differently.

It’s precisely this kind of moronic, magical thinking that has kept us in Afghanistan for longer, in greater strength and at greater expense than the damn Soviet Union.

The Soviets lost, by the way. Spoiler alert: So did we.

the outcome is in general nowhere near as bad as painted by thoseopposed to any intervention.

Some people, seriously… “This abject military and political defeat, into which we have poured blood and treasure for a decade for no other result than resounding failure, is probably not as bad as you suggest”.

Try that one before a parliamentary inquiry. Or a historian.

Plus, I note that you still haven’t given one credible reason to believe that Afghanistan was ever winnable. Not a single one.

@88 FR

“Plus, I note that you still haven’t given one credible reason to believe that Afghanistan was ever winnable. Not a single one.”

It really is like arguing with a person of faith with you isn’t it?

Of course it was winnable. Your argument might just as well be turned on it’s head. There are plenty of examples of countries which wer basket cases being “turned around”…. why would you insist that Afghanistan was uniquely unqualified? Lots of countries have tribal, ethnic and religious disputes.

Yes, I AM saying it could have been different, and that’s eminently sensible. the current situation is the result of flawed polices and inept execution. Nobody here or elsewhere was drawing direct comparisons between German and Japan in 1945 and Afghanistan in the 1990’s, but as any historian will tell you you can draw inferences from how other situations were handled.

It is you who have signally failed to address the issues, and insist that the current situation was inevitable, and could never have been any different; it simply isn’t true, anymore than the triumph of communism was true. Afghanistan (about whose history you patently know next to nothing) was relatively stable, if backward, for decades before it imploded. There is nothing to say that it could not have followed a different path, just as there is nothing intrinsically ridiculous in the view that had the allies been honest about the scale of the task post intervention, we’d be looking at a significantly different and more favourable situation than we have now.

You need to at least try and inform yourself a bit better, which trust me as a historian I can tell you obviously haven’t (any more than some of the other froth mouthed ranters posting drivel above about the Balkans).

90. flyingrodent

It really is like arguing with a person of faith with you isn’t it?

After being invited to provide at least one reason to believe that the present situation was avoidable, you’ve responded by saying that it could all have been better if “the allies been honest about the scale of the task post intervention”. Maybe. Yet again!

So if the allies had said “Hey, this is going to cost us ten trillion pounds and require a minimum commitment of five hundred thousand soldiers for at least forty years”, it might possibly – perhaps – have all turned out “differently” and “more favourable”?

Would the allies actually have to produce cash, men and materiel on this scale in order to succeed, or would the mere act of “being honest” have resulted in victory? And, yet again, what are you basing this maybe, if we’re lucky analysis on? I see absolutely nothing to suggest that you are correct. Nothing.

I repeat – we have the observable, measurable example of the actually-existing Afghanistan; all of its godawful troubles and ten years of military experience in-country to measure my points against.

What are you offering to indicate that it could’ve been substantially better? One thing only – an unsupported assertion that, given a politically-unattainable level of aid, soldiery and finance, things “might” possibly have been “more favourable”. How much more favourable? How possible?

“A person of faith”, he says. If there’s a drummer left in the audience here, could you do us a quick rimshot?

Given the leaders we had making all the decisions at the time, I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that Afghanistan’s current situation was inevitable.

For example – I strongly doubt President Rick Santorum’s possible future ‘humanitarian interventions’ would be likely to result in something that we’d be willing to call ‘desireable’. (Dangerously assuming you regard Libya’s result as desirable)

@87

The boots on the ground I was referring to (as you no doubt realise, but wilfully ignore) would have been either UN or NATO enforcement forces, capable of taking on the Serbs; that’s not what e.g. the Dutch peacekeepers were mandated to do, nor were they equipped to resist a full onslaught by what was effectively the full force of the rump ex Yugoslav army.

I don’t ignore it, I just fail to see how you actually deliver it – UN enforcement troops? The Blue Berets are an absolute joke, they have zero military credibility, even if they did somehow manage to get the political clusterf*ck of how the command structure works out, who’s in charge, which nation’s troops take control of which areas, how they all get to the combat zone, deploy and ensure supply chains, what language they communicate in on the radios, whether the radios and other equipment are even compatible, how they secure communications (i.e., what codes or encryption do you use, etc., etc.

The only military intervention where UN forces have ever managed to make a difference or turn the tide was in Korea, where they under performed badly (the Commonwealth and US Armies had demobbed all their WW2 veterans and these were National Service teenage conscripts caught in a surprise attack by overwhelming opposition) and nearly lost within days when the Northern Forces over-ran them.

Four years of War and they barely managed a stalemate draw, back practically where the line of demarkation had been at the start of the war. And they only managed to do as well as they did because they had General MacArthur commanding the rearguard action and launching the counter-offensive. Then Truman sacked him. Because he wanted to invade China and drop a line or a string of A-Bombs along the border of China and North Korea to create an irradiated DMZ of fallout to make sure they didn’t try it again in 6 months time.

It’s actually not a bad plan, actually, given that the border region on the Chinese side is pretty well uninhabited… But unthinkable at the time, at least according to Truman.

Besides, how do you get the Security Council Mandate to do it with the Russian veto? If they veto it, refuse to violate Serbian soverignty (as they see it), they could send their OWN army (as they did to Kosovo in 1999 right at the end of the War, causing a standoff with General Clarke’s forces), and things get scrappy very quickly.

The Guns of August, in fact. August 1914. All started over a squabble centred on Serbia, in fact Sarjiavo, to be precise….

As for a NATO Ground Force, like KFOR – the Russians REALLY don’t appreciate NATO troops advancing on other Slavic nations, like Serbia (see above) and send the boys in, double-quick.

As for preventing war crimes, genocidal behaviour, systematic human rights abuses and sectarian violence, gang-rape and torture by state and quasi-state paramilitaries and elite police units sent out to hunt down “terrorists”…?

Fine. With the threat of World War 3 with the Soviet Union dying down, I agree, about time they did some good and started doing something useful and helpful for a change.

Just drop me a line as soon as we’ve booted Turkey out on their ear where they belong, and lets talk. Maybe we could start with them?

Kennedy should’ve kick ’em to the kerb in ’62 when he did the deal over the Jupiter missiles they had stationed there, pointing at Moscow as part of the deal over Cuba. Missed opportunity there..

Gassing your own population of Kurds is now an acceptable basis for a full-scale invasion of a massive West Asian state – check!

When would you like to start?

If we get a shift on, we can probably sort out Syria on the way back – Brilliant plan!

It’s not monstrously arrogant to think that the Afghans, or anyone else for that matter, deserve to have the same freedoms and opportunities as we do.

Who said anything about “deserve”? Ah yes – no one. The point is that in many, many cases, they don’t want to live in as society as free as, say, Britain. They’re quite keen on things like Sharia law. Barring a large-scale scheme of mass indoctrination I don’t think there’s any way to change their minds. (You’ve still yet to offer one, of course. I suspect because you’re none the wiser.) And I don’t think it’s our business to manipulate the desires of people o’er the planet. We have enough men and women who’d be fond of tyranny within our darn borders.

(This is not to say that many Afghans are so theocratic they’d want the Taliban’s rule. I’m not sure there’s any way to beat those acid-throwing thugs but I certainly hope that they get their arses kicked somehow.)

94. Spike1138

It’s not monstrously arrogant to think that the Afghans, or anyone else for that matter, deserve to have the same freedoms and opportunities as we do.

Oh, here we go. The Democratic Peace Theory fallacy. Also known as the Bush Doctrine, the White Man’s Burden, etc., etc.

Democracies don’t go to war with one another? Mostly true from recent history, although there are some exceptions that place the general premise in doubt, but even if it is true, unless you happen to live in one, so what? What bloody use is that to you?

Israel’s a democracy. As they are very proud to point out at every opportunity, they’re the only functioning representative democracy in the entire Middle East. More than that, they’ve got a citizens’ army. When Israel goes to war, the people of Israel all go to war, not just the army. And they have been constantly warring with their neighbours ever since the state was first created. Sometimes they were the aggressors (pre-emptive, they would claim, to ensure security, but it amounts to the same thing), sometimes they were the ones who were attacked.

But if you actually live in a mainly Muslim country in some far-flung corner of the globe, probably with a limited history of democratic inclusion in the culture, what must you think?

Democracies don’t attack other democracies, but so what? That may be true, but I’ll tell you what manifestly *is* true, and everyone on the ground there knows it and beliefs it – Democracies only attack weaker Muslim nations. And they do it because they believe that our present and traditional way of life is inferior to their’s and wrong. And so they come to kill us and make us like them.

And they’re right – we haven’t attacked a non-Muslim nation since 1982, we’ve never even sent combat-ready troops anywhere else to be deployed in or around any other sort of country.

So, they can be forgiven for thinking, not unreasonably “Stuff your democracy; We don’t want it.”

yeah the solution is so sit back and do nothing will thousands of women and children are murdered in the streets. good call, glad your party will be out of office in january 2013.

96. Just Visiting

Spike1138 – 94

> And they’re right – we haven’t attacked a non-Muslim nation since 1982,

Didn’t we sent troops to the Balkans specifically to protect Muslims?

Didn’t we send troops to Sierra Leone? Ethiopa ? Liberia ? (peace keeping)

See this 2008 BBC map of where our troops were:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4094818.stm

Iraq and Afghanistan you would categorise I guess as ‘attacking a nation’ – but seems a stretch to include Libya in that category?

@96

Didn’t we sent troops to the Balkans specifically to protect Muslims?

No. If we had, and that had been our intent, we would have failed miserably.

The Major government persued a “hyper-realist” (as it was referred to at the time) stance and refused to intervene in the early-mid 90s phase any way other than contributing UN Peackeeping forces and passing resolutions, leading to total inaction over Serb atrocities like Srebreniza.

The Blair government was the driving force behind the Kosovo War within NATO in 1999, but it was entirely an air war, with only the threat of ground troops bringing the conflict to a close. No boots on the ground prior to Serb capitulation, no British lives on the line.

Didn’t we send troops to Sierra Leone? Ethiopa ? Liberia ?  (peace keeping)

Exactly, peace keeping – not supporting one side or another for the purpose of shifting the local balance of power and not acting unilaterally.

Iraq and Afghanistan you would categorise I guess as ‘attacking a nation’

I don’t even feel the need to refute this one….

but seems a stretch to include Libya in that category?

I didn’t attempt to. But I did point out that the intervention was widely percirved in the Muslim world was widely interpreted as a Western backed assault on a Muslim nation, intended to affect reigime change, which was indeed the outcome.

If you wanted to make the case that the West only attacks Muslim nations, a popular belief in much of the world, there is no real shortage of evidence that would appear to support that view.


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