Are we about to join AN­OTHER id­i­otic war like fee­ble min­ions?

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Comment -

TYP­I­CAL Rus­sians, eh? They kid­nap a man and his preg­nant wife in broad day­light, then hide them in a se­cret prison in an Asian air­port where they wield sin­is­ter in­flu­ence. There they be­gin to tor­ture him. De­spite the fact that she is ob­vi­ously preg­nant, they chain her to a wall and put a hood over her head for five days. Next, they swathe her from head to toe in duct tape (in agony, be­cause one of her eyes is taped open) and fly them both to Syria so the man can be tor­tured more thor­oughly for sev­eral years.

With the two chained and bound pris­on­ers comes a de­liv­ery note from the Rus­sian spy chief to his Syr­ian op­po­site num­ber: ‘This is the least we could do for you, to demon­strate our re­mark­able re­la­tion­ship.’ This is the sort of dis­gust­ing be­hav­iour we have come to ex­pect from the Krem­lin. Ex­cept that I have changed the de­tails. This story is not about the Krem­lin. It is about the British Se­cret In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice, MI6, and our al­lies in the CIA. And the man we helped kid­nap, Ab­dul Hakim Bel­hadj, was not sent to Syria, but to Libya, whose then despot we were court­ing.

All the de­tails of this un­speak­able, law­less op­er­a­tion are known and can­not be de­nied. They came out into the open only be­cause a group of mili­ti­a­men hap­pened to stum­ble on the pa­pers in an aban­doned of­fice in Tripoli. The Gov­ern­ment has ad­mit­ted the truth by apol­o­gis­ing for them, and writ­ing a large cheque (with your hard-earned money, of course) to Mr Bel­hadj’s wife, Fa­tima Boud­char.

NO­BODY is even try­ing to deny them, though the Labour Min­is­ters in charge at the time (2004) seem to be hav­ing some trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing the episode. There are plenty of things you can think about this, in­clud­ing whether those in­volved, politi­cians and civil ser­vants alike, ought to face some kind of jus­tice. I would not hold out many hopes.

My point is this. So much of our cur­rent frenzy against Rus­sia and Syria is based on a claim of moral su­pe­ri­or­ity. Do we have any such su­pe­ri­or­ity if we kid­nap peo­ple and send them to tyrants to be tor­tured?

So shouldn’t we stop pre­tend­ing that our hos­til­ity to Rus­sia and Syria has a moral pur­pose – and ex­plain what, in that case, our mo­tive re­ally is? Or are we em­bar­rassed that our mo­tive is al­most as sor­did as the mis­er­able Bel­hadj episode?

Cer­tainly since be­fore the 2003 Iraq in­va­sion, which mem­bers of the cur­rent Gov­ern­ment mostly sup­ported, this coun­try has been im­pli­cated in the most hor­ri­ble ac­tions, many of which will prob­a­bly re­main se­cret for ever.

Strangely, many of these kid­nap­pings and much of this com­plic­ity in un­speak­able tor­tures was jus­ti­fied by our moral fury against Al Qaeda, a move­ment with whom we now co-op­er­ate in Syria.

It is also quite pos­si­ble to ar­gue (and I do) that the Iraq in­va­sion was the gravest po­lit­i­cal mis­take of our age, closely fol­lowed by David Cameron’s at­tack on Libya.

We are now hur­ry­ing to­wards se­ri­ous war in the Mid­dle East, lashed to the strange, seem­ingly un­hinged fig­ure of Don­ald Trump, whose vain, pout­ing, writhing per­for­mance on Tues­day night was one of the most fright­en­ing things I have ever seen in my life.

Could it pos­si­bly have been plainer that he views us not as al­lies but as min­ions? And why shouldn’t he, if we col­lab­o­rate with the CIA in ac­tions like these?

A proper British gov­ern­ment would cease this sort of co-op­er­a­tion, what­ever lit­tle treats and pats on the head we may be of­fered in re­turn. And a proper British gov­ern­ment should also stand aside from war poli­cies in the Mid­dle East which will only lead to still more ter­ror, tor­ture and pain.

FLAWED: Rosamund Pike as a ter­ror­ist in the new film

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.