Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The News from England

We are not saturated here, as we are at home, with American news. For the past week, the evening news on the BBC has led with a story on the prostitute murders in Ipswich, which has supplanted the Litvinenko spy thriller as the top story. There have also been stories about the National Health Service (NHS) and its controversial plan to place all patient records into a national database. The dismal collapse of the English cricket team against the Australians has also been a recurring story. There has also been regular news on the war in Iraq. A coroner's inquest has determined that a British soldier, killed in the first days of the war, would have survived had he been equipped with adequate body armor. It has also transpired that the government, under the leadership of Tony Blair and the defense minister Jeff Hoon, delayed ordering body armor for the troops during the winter of 2002-2003 because they didn't want to create the impression that the decision to go to war was "a foregone conclusion."

Imagine this: You have already decided, in collusion with the American President, that you are going to war in Iraq. But for political reasons you don't want to create the impression that the decision has been made—after all, there is still the minor irritation, from your point of view, of Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors, who say that there is no basis for making the decision you have already secretly made. So, you make the decision, but to keep the decision secret from the public, you delay ordering the military equipment necessary for the successful implementation of the decision you have secretly made. Then you stumble into war without that equipment because you chose to cover your political backside. As a result, British soldiers die. (In this particular case, the tragic irony is heightened by the fact that the soldier who died for lack of body armor was killed by friendly fire.)

I have to admit that for the first time, I find the smooth and eloquent Mr. Blair as criminally negligent as the colossally stupid George W. Bush.

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