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تاريخ التسجيل : 07/10/2009
|موضوع: Tony Blair: Blood Money! الإثنين 23 أغسطس 2010, 11:20|| |
Tony Blair: Blood Money!
Sometimes a topic simply will not go away. These weeks, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, Q.C., former British Prime Minister, alleged potential war criminal, surreal Middle East Peace Envoy - who led an administration which shared responsibility for, if not quite rivers of blood, bloodied market places, mosques, squares, homes, humans, hospitals, beyond counting - just keeps coming back and back.
Fresh from the Balkans, after accepting a solid gold "Freedom Medal", Kosovo's highest Award - from a nation less than a shining example of the rule of law, where streets and the capitol's main square are named after him,(1) he immediately re-invented himself as best selling author.His book signing is a "must attend" event, at literary emporium Waterstones showcase store, in London's Piccadilly, on 8th September (2) - if you are prepared to relinquish your handbag, laptop, keys, cash, backpack, and other belongings, to a stranger, at the door.Symbolic, really. Iraq and Afghanistan were stripped of their assets at missile and gun-point. Blair, seemingly, will have armed body guards.
A certain furore has greeted the book signing, for which he reportedly received a £4.6 million advance, on top of the now estimated up to £46 million, since he left office, including from interests in oil exploration in Iraq, over which he is reported to have fought a two year battle with the (UK) parliamentary independent scrutiny committee, to be anything but scrutinised.Details he said, were "commercially sensitive." You bet. His networks of companies through which his money gushes are, says Mike Warburton, senior partner at tax accountants Grant Thornton : "... opaque. We do not know where the money comes from or where it goes to, but at the end of the chain, you have a company that does not file accounts, so one can only presume it is to keep secret."
Financial diversities too numerous to mention include : "... taking £90,000 to appear at the opening of a methanol power plant in Azerbaijan last year."
Three years on from his relatively modest Prime Ministerial salary of under £200,000 a year, his family property portfolio : " ... now contains seven homes worth £14 million, including four in central London. Latest addition is a four-storey, Grade II-listed town house, a snip at just under £1.3million, a few streets away from (their) £3.7million Connaught Square home."
"His elite security team costs the taxpayer £6 million annually, because he is also accompanied by up to five personal bodyguards while travelling the world."(3)However, with Teflon Tony's latest re-invention of himself as author, has has also re-invented himself as bountiful benefactor.
In recognition of: " .. the courage and sacrifice the (UK) armed forces demonstrate day in, day out ...", he is, seemingly, to donate the full £4.6 million advance for the book to the armed Services charity,The Royal British Legion, after: " ... having witnessed (Services actions) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Kosovo", stated a Blair minion, omitting that anything he had witnessed was a carefully orchestrated, literally "blow-in" photo-op, by helicopter, to a mega-fortified base, flanxed by a sizeable personal army and a larger surrounding one.Hardly sleeve-rolling-up, coal face mastery or solidarity. Also unsaid is that arguably, in four out of the five stated places, British troops had no business being, with the Iraq invasion openly declared illegal, even by no less than the former UN Secretary General."This is his way of honouring their courage and sacrifice", added the hireling. "The proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion's "Battle Back" challenge centre, a project that will provide state-of-the-art rehabilitation services for seriously injured troops returning from the front line", he clarified.
Whilst the Charity's Director General expressed his delight at "this very generous offer", it is worth casting an eye on what Lord Blair of Kut al Amara - as dubbed by Robert Fisk, referring to one of the British army's most humiliating defeats - has cost the country in the historic folly of just Iraq and Afghanistan. Under a Freedom of Information Act request (4) sums revealed include, for Iraq:
* £2.3 million in compensation to troops suffering from trauma
* £6.1 million compensation for 179 killed and hundred injured
* £14 million in one off payments to families of those killed
* £9.4 million in other payments to dependents of the dead.
A "flood" of claims is expected relating to the (as now) 325 service personnel killed in Afghanistan. To now, only £317,000 has been paid out.
Meanwhile other charities, such as Combat Stress, are struggling with the psychological fallout from the invasions, dealing already with over 4,000 cases. They point out that the majority of serious problems, on average, take fourteen years to present, a ticking financial, Blair-generated time bomb, for maybe decades, to come. Their expenditure is around £20 million annually. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Famies Association expend well in excess of £40 million; Help for Heroes, who aim to rehabilitate the numerous who have lost limbs - some, all of them - sight, movement, is aiming for £20 million this year. The British Legion needs around £40 million annually.
These figures, relating directly or indirectly to Blair's feckless, forays, however pale against the cost, so far of the Afghan and Iraq oil, mineral and resources grabs to Britain, in "fighting", and in which, strangely, "diplomacy" is factored : £20 billion, to the taxpayers of a small island off France.
So has Mr Blair's munificence contributing to delivering a mollified and grateful public? Not exactly.
First to weigh in was Peter Brierley, whose young son Shaun died in Iraq, and who had refused to shake Blair's hand at a commemoration service for the troops, at London's St Paul's Cathedral. They were, he said, covered in blood. "Blood money" he said of the donation to the Press Association, adding: "£4.6 million cannot wash Blair's hands clean."
Political satirist and columnist Mark Steel was less than compromising: "Imagine if the British Legion announced: 'You'll never guess what. Today we got another donation of £4 million, from the latest DVD by Osma Bin Laden. It really has been our lucky week. "
Writer and activist, David Wilson, suggested other book signings he deemed apt for the relevant week, to the Guardian:
"Waterstones are pleased to announce a programme of book signings for
the week of 6 - 10 September 2010.
6 September, Osama bin Laden: 'Town Planning in Manhattan'
7 September, Radovan Karadzic: 'Hill Walks above Sarajevo'
8 September, Tony Blair: 'A Journey'
9 September, General Than Shwe: 'Gated Communities in Rangoon'
10 September, President George W Bush: 'Shock and Ore.' "
Judas feeling guilty over his thirty pieces of silver crops up a bit. The Daily Finance unkindly point out that: "The donation will significantly cut his tax bill, by an estimated £2.3 million."Seeming acres of ungenerous comments gather pace. However, here are some different financial costings:
*£4.6 million, is exactly the estimated amount of Iraqis displaced by the invasion, internally and externally, who have lost everything. His donation would equal one pound each.
*For the five million orphans created since 2003, less than a pound each.
*For the million widows, a little over four pounds each.
*To the families of the upper estimate of one and a half million resultant dead, under four pounds each.
The Book Signing Occasion, falls in the week that America commemorates 9/11.That day, arguably, the beginning of Blair's "Journey" - into dodgy dossiers, destruction of two of nations, the spectre of the unexplained death of an eminent scientist, weapons inspector, Dr David Kelly, having said publicly he thought the wmd claims might have been "sexed up" - and his unshakeable, blind, messianic certainty of being "right."
On the course of this journey, between Iraq and Afghanistan, possibly approaching two million dead, lie strewn along the way.A shame the signing could not be moved to Saturday,11th September. Were there an arrest, citizens' or otherwise, no more fitting day for him to begin another journey - to the Hague.
One can only wistfully wish, and fantasize.
On 28th July, former weapons inspector, Hans Blix, told the Chilcot Inquiry in to the invasion, of a conversation he had with Blair on 20th February, 2003, when the invasion was already, clearly, unstoppable: "Wouldn't it be paradoxical if you invade Iraq with 250,000 men and find very little?"
As this was being written, Britain commemorated the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill's speech of 20th August, 1940, which includes the lines: "Never has so much been owed by so many to so few." Perhaps it should be re-fashioned for our times: "Never have so many died, for being ripped off by so few."
by Felicity Arbuthnot on Global Research
Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz 0 comments Tony Blairs Hidden Millions
It has been suggested that Mr Blair was handing the reported £4.6 million advance and royalties from his forthcoming memoirs to the Royal British Legion. However, he is thought to have made up to £20 million from consultancy, private companies and public appearances since leaving office in 2007.
As well as lucrative advisory roles for JP Morgan and Zurich Financial Services, he also set up Tony Blair Associates, which receives payments for advising both the Kuwaiti government and Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi sovereign fund.
Former ministers are supposed to provide details of their income after leaving Parliament. But Mr Blair fought a two-year battle with the independent scrutiny committee to keep secret his job with UI Energy Corporation, a South Korean oil firm. The former prime minister insisted the terms of the deal were “commercially sensitive”.
He commands six-figure sums on the after-dinner lecture circuit, where he is usually booked through the Washington Speakers Bureau whose stable includes George W Bush.One speech in China earned him a reported £200,000. But Mr Blair’s income flows through a series of companies and limited partnerships.Mike Warburton, a senior tax partner at the accountants Grant Thornton, said that the network of companies made it almost impossible to establish his earnings since leaving Parliament.
“They are opaque. We don’t know where the money comes from or where it goes to, but at the end of the chain you have a company that does not file accounts, so one can only presume it is to keep it secret,” said Mr Warburton.Some evidence of his wealth can be seen in the Blair family’s property portfolio which now contains seven homes worth £14million, including four in central London. The latest addition is a four-storey, Grade II-listed town house worth just under £1.3million, a few streets away from the Blairs’ £3.7million Connaught Square home.
Mr Blair also receives a taxpayer-funded pension of £63,468 a year, plus an annual £84,000 allowance to run a private office.His elite security team costs the taxpayer £6million annually, because he is also accompanied by up to five personal bodyguards while travelling the world. From a well-appointed office in Grosvenor Square, Mr Blair also runs several charities, including the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
Another charity he heads, the Africa Governance Initiative, was reprimanded by the Charities Commission last week for asking supporters to back Labour in the election.Mr Blair has also been criticised for taking £90,000 to appear at the opening of a methanol power plant in Azerbaijan last year.His attendance was organised by Nizami Piriyev, an oligarch who runs AzMeCo and has business links with Iran, Syria and Afghanistan.
His wife, Cherie Booth, provoked controversy last month after taking £167,000 of private jet flights from a notorious Albanian businessman facing trial for beating up an investigative journalist.Mr Blair boosted his income by giving private speeches for Lansdowne Partners, a hedge fund managed by a Tory party donor. Lansdowne became known for betting on the fall of Barclays and Northern Rock shares in the credit crunch.
Mr Blair’s name was floated for the job of EU president last year, which would have involved him giving up some business interests and submitting a declaration of financial interests. In the end, the role went to Herman Van Rompuy.He also gave Labour £76,304 during the general election campaign, including the “loan” of several members of his staff.
By Holly Watt and published by The Daily Telegraph.
Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz 0 comments Is the Iraq war over?
Early in the month, on Aug. 7, Army Specialist Faith Hinkley dove for cover from a rocket propelled grenade while on her base in Iraq. She was hit with shrapnel from the explosion, and bled to death in Baghdad. She was 23 years old.
A week later, on Aug. 15, Army Specialist Jamal Rhett was on patrol in Baquba, Iraq, when resistance fighters attacked his vehicle with grenades. The blasts tore through his body, killing him. He was only 24.
And on Aug. 19, just one day after the "end" of the Iraq war was announced, a young Army soldier, Christopher Wright, was killed by shrapnel.For the family and friends of these three soldiers, August does not seem like a month to be announcing the "end" of the Iraq war.
But the Pentagon arranged a photo-op convoy of armored vehicles crossing the Iraqi border into Kuwait—a symbolic convoy of the "last combat brigade" exiting the country.With that, we are told by Washington, we have seen the end of the war in Iraq. Combat operations are over, they say.
This declaration, essentially begging for applause, is reminiscent of George W. Bush’s "Mission Accomplished" performance aboard the USS Lincoln in May 2003, where he announced the "end of major combat operations" in Iraq.
Announcing the end of combat operations in a war still taking the lives of U.S. service members is the same type of doublespeak we have been getting since the lies started flowing in the buildup to the invasion.Since the war is supposedly over, and the Obama administration is demanding a pat on the back for its "promise kept," let us see what "postwar" Iraq really looks like.
This past May, a study called The Mercer Quality of Living survey released its results of "most livable city" in 2010. It ranked Baghdad dead last—the least livable city on the planet.This is due to the complete destruction of Iraq’s sewage treatment plants, factories, schools, hospitals, museums and power plants by the U.S. military.
For most people in Iraq, access to clean water is extremely difficult. Access to electricity is also extremely scarce. In sweltering 130-degree F heat, Baghdad residents might get a total of three hours of intermittent electricity—much like the rest of the country.
According to the UNHCR, the Iraq war made more than 4.7 million Iraqis refugees—the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since the Palestinians were driven from their homes in 1948.They are the survivors of a slaughter that killed over 1 million innocent people, and maimed millions more, with U.S. bombs designed to "shock and awe."
Those who survived the onslaught must live with the aftermath—the toxic gift left by the most high-tech weapons, professionally crafted by the defense contractors that made billions from the war. In Fallujah, which was bombarded by Marines in 2004, the stunning rate of infant mortality, cancer and birth defects have revealed a health crisis that has been called "worse than Hiroshima."
But violence in Iraq is far from being in the past. In fact, it has spiked in recent months. In July 535 Iraqis were killed, making it the deadliest month in two years. With the Iraqi government still locked in a political crisis, there is little hope of the violence subsiding.
This violence was consciously fostered by the U.S. when it violated international law and forced Iraq’s government to be divided along sectarian lines and when Gen. Petraeus promoted civil war by arming "local militias" to fight each other, as he is now doing in Afghanistan. As a U.S. military study "discovered" in November 2007, "Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them." (Washington Post, Dec. 19, 2007)
All this, not to mention grinding poverty, rampant unemployment, food insecurity and severe lack of medical supplies, has replaced their once reputable health care system. For the Iraqi people, life prior to the invasion—even with the decade of crippling sanctions and brutal bombings—was far better than the conditions today.
In a country of nearly 30 million people, one in three Iraqis have been killed, wounded or displaced by the United States since the 2003 invasion. Every single day in Iraq continues to produce more killed, more wounded and more displaced.
What does the "end of combat operations" really mean, anyway?
The State Department will more than double the number of private security personnel, who will guard five heavily fortified compounds throughout the country. The mercenaries on these bases will pilot drones, conduct patrols and operate as "quick-reaction forces" to chase down insurgents. The much-hated and notorious mercenaries, receiving millions from the Pentagon, will continue to shoot Iraqis in their own country.
While U.S. troops leave Iraq, U.S. military equipment flows in to beef up the Iraqi puppet forces that follow the orders of the Pentagon. Cruising Iraq’s streets will be 60 new MRAPs, or "mine resistant ambush protected" vehicles. Their swarm of armored cars will be multiplied. Their number of military airplanes will increase four fold. Their helicopter fleet, piloted by mercenaries, will grow from 17 to 29.
This is the real crux of the U.S. drawdown in Iraq: the ability to push the Iraqi army and police to the front lines, with U.S. troops standing a few steps back and the same Pentagon generals sitting atop the chain of command.
This was the Bush plan from the beginning, when the invasion was launched: to topple the Iraqi government and prop up a new government, friendly to U.S. business and military interests, that will use its state power—its police, military, courts and prisons —to serve the interests of Washington and Wall Street.
This initially ended in disaster for the Bush administration. However, over seven years of bombing, brutality and documented war crimes and human rights violations, the Iraqi government was able to recruit enough job-hungry Iraqis to serve in uniform—one of the few job opportunities in a country now wracked with unemployment—and replace thousands of U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Those Iraqi troops are performing the same mission as the U.S. troops before them: using brute force to keep the unpopular U.S.-backed regime in power. They ride in the same Humvees, and even inherited the same uniforms. Iraqi families still have their doors kicked down in the middle of the night and are dragged from their beds—only now, they are being screamed at in Arabic instead of English.
Fifty thousand U.S. troops will remain in the country. But, as the generals and politicians insist, they are no longer "combat" units. They’ve been renamed "advise and assist" units.So the remaining U.S. troops will "advise" their Iraqi puppet forces of what combat operations to carry out, and will "assist" them in carrying out those operations if they need help.
"Every soldier is a combat soldier. It's about the change of mission. It doesn't change who we are or what we do. You won't see this big change on 2 September, " said Major General Stephen Lanza, the U.S. military spokesman in Iraq.
This is far from ending combat operations for U.S. troops. They will continue to be blown up by IED’s, shot and killed by rockets. Only this will happen less frequently, for the time being, because there are enough Iraqis to bear the brunt of the resistance to foreign domination—there are enough Iraqis to be killed in their place.
Those 50,000 troops are promised to leave by the end of 2011. Of course, this is subject to "conditions on the ground." The Aug. 19 New York Times reports that top Iraq strategists predict that "thousands of additional troops will be needed after 2011."
If Washington gets its way, U.S. troops will continue to kill and be killed in Iraq despite their redefined role, and will remain in the country for an indefinite length of time, required to prop up a weak and increasingly unpopular puppet government and protect U.S. business and geopolitical interests. The continued deaths of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians, with no end in sight, are the components that turned the vast majority of people in the U.S. against the war. Those components remain.
Out of the frying pan, into the fire
For U.S. troops, the only thing changing for us is the name of the country where we will be sent to be killed and maimed. It is no secret that the troop reduction in Iraq is necessary because more GIs are needed to be sent to fight the other colonial-type war in Afghanistan, where the size of the occupation has tripled, and where the U.S. is clearly being defeated at the hands of a popular resistance.
We will continue to be deployed to both wars when so many of us have psychological traumas that should exempt us from deployments.For us, the Iraq drawdown means this: that we are able to be deployed more frequently on repeated tours to the bloody battlefields of Afghanistan, with maybe some more relaxing deployments to Iraq in between, where it is currently less likely that we will die.
Returning Iraq to colonial status
From 1920 to 1958, Iraq was a British colony. Iraq’s oil was 100 percent foreign owned, divided up between U.S., British, French, and Dutch companies.After Iraq won independence, it nationalized its vast oil wealth, immediately putting it in the crosshairs of the imperialist powers that had just lost "their" seas of oil.
Iraq’s oil revenue modernized the country, dramatically improved living conditions and provided free quality health care and a world-renowned university system—also completely free.But an independent, developing country controlling its own resources cut into the bottom line for the oil giants. Iraq’s entire history of independence is one of fending off attempts by the United States and its imperialist allies to re-colonize the country.
Constant bombings, genocidal sanctions and CIA-backed anti-government groups failed to overturn Iraq’s independence. In the flurry of 9/11 hysteria, the U.S. government seized on the opportunity to drum up lies about weapons of mass destruction and the need to " liberate" Iraq, and launched a full-scale invasion to take Iraq by force.
The Iraqi people, who we were told were desperate for liberation, overwhelmingly turned against the U.S. occupation. So the Pentagon surged tens of thousands more troops into the country, unleashed the full might of the most powerful military on the planet and indiscriminately rained depleted uranium, artillery and Hellfire missiles on all its cities. Large swaths of the Iraqi resistance that could not be defeated were simply put on the U.S. payroll, bribed to stop resisting.
The U.S. government never wanted to endlessly have U.S. combat patrols on Iraq’s streets. It wanted a new compliant government that would do its bidding, and some offices, including the world’s largest embassy, to conduct its business.
Now the U.S. is a step closer to its goal of returning Iraq to a colonial-type status. The announcement that combat operations have ended is really just the announcement that the puppet forces have improved to the point where they can take over some of the duties of the U.S. military—mainly, the fighting and dying.
Iraqi sovereignty is a myth. The "democratically elected" government would crumble if it did not have Washington’s backing. The Iraqi government does not have the authority to make any military, political or business decisions without the approval of their masters in Washington. U.S. officials will continue to pull the strings of its new comprador government from the largest embassy in the world, and from its military bases and fortified compounds that will remain in Iraq indefinitely. So much for "Iraqi freedom."
While we are being prodded to rejoice over the "end" of the wildly unpopular war—to divert attention from the other unpopular war—the relative calm in Iraq at this point is teetering on the edge. This is obvious by the spike in violence over the past couple of months. Iraq is still in a fragile position with election disputes, power struggles, deep-seated and widespread opposition to U.S. domination, and armies of resistance fighters who took a break from fighting the occupiers to collect a paycheck.
Iraq could very quickly be thrust back to its highest levels of resistance—to which the U.S. would respond by doing everything possible to prevent losing Iraq as a colony. The reduced number of occupying troops would again be increased. In as little as a single day, the Iraq war could again become the bloodbath that so many took to the streets to end. Pres. Obama said it himself as he announced the end of the war: "The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq."
For the Iraqi people, for U.S. troops and our families, our lives will be absolutely no different than they were before we were shown the media stunt of armored vehicles "leaving" Iraq.
The change in Iraq means the goal of controlling Iraq’s natural resources, markets and financial sector are proceeding more smoothly for Wall Street. Impoverished Iraqi civilians will continue to be killed every day in the rubble and ruins of their now-devastated country. U.S. troops will continue to die there endlessly, when not being sent to die endlessly in Afghanistan, while our families wait at home for our coffins.
This is nothing to celebrate—it is something to fight against.
Michael Prysner is an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of March Forward! an organization of veterans and active-duty service members against the war. Michael is also a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.