29 July 2016

Before Chilcot there was Nick Clegg and the Purple Fury Doctrine

This article was published in the Daily Mirror on July 31, 2011, i.e around 5 years before the Chilcot Report was released.  It was titled 'The fate of the Purple Fury Doctrine after Nick Clegg’s confessions'.
And what do you call the insane fury that emerged in Iraq and elsewhere?
A few days after the 9/11 attacks, Time magazine put out a special issue, dedicated to the tragedy.  It contained a collection of photographs that captured much of the wide spectrum of dramatic elements associated with the attack and its aftermath, along with a few poignant and well-written though pieces.  Among these was sobering article by Lance Morrow titled ‘The case for rage and retribution’.   Morrow called for a ‘unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American (sic) fury – a ruthless indignation that doesn’t leak away in a week or two’.  Significantly, Morrow’s was the last word, literally, in that Specials Issue.  The ‘last word’ was the following:

“The worst times, as we see, separate the civilized of the world from the uncivilized.  This is the moment of clarity.  Let the civilized toughen up, and let the uncivilized take their chances in the game they started.”

In November 2002, then US President, George W Bush, declared that should Saddam Hussein, then President of Iraq, choose not to disarm ‘the United States will lead a coalition of the willing to disarm him.’  He was referring to ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which, according to US intelligence even at that time, did not exist.  The White House named 49 countries in what it took to be ‘The coalition of the willing’: Afghanistan,Albania, Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hondurus, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

In the end, only 5 of these 40 contributed troops to the invasion force while 28 others provided some men to support the occupation.  By this time, Costa Rica was among the ‘unwilling’, thanks to the heroism of a single individual, Luis Roberto Zamora, the Ombudsman and the Costa Rican Bar Association which petitioned and obtained from the Constitutional Court of that country a determination that held President Pacheco’s willingness to be out of order.
Almost eight years later, we have a confession.  It seems now that it was not exactly a ‘Coalition of the Willing’ but a ‘Coalition of the Willing Suckers’.   Just the other day, we had the leader of the Liberal Democrats of Britain and that country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg while standing in for Prime Minister David Cameron (ironically on a visit to Washington) stating that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. This means that all the countries listed above were/are party to an illegal act.  This is not about a false step that broke a piece of public property such as a pavement stone, now.  We are talking here about an illegal invasion that caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people and saw the perpetration of horrendous crimes against humanity. 
The ‘Highway of Death’ massacre of retreating military personnel ought to have made Ban Ki-moon and his predecessor initiate measures to haul Bush and his latest partner in crime on account of omission, Barack Obama to the Hague.  Is this what ‘rage’, the ‘purple fury’ that Morrow advocated was to bring out? 

Clegg has since retracted, saying it was his ‘personal view’.  When a man issues a public statement while standing in for the Prime Minister, he is in fact speaking as ‘Prime Minister Clegg’ and not Mr. Citizen Clegg.  Clegg can’t be private as and when he wants.  Someone sitting in the PM’s chair can’t say ‘that’s my personal view’.  But, even if one were to excuse slippage, the contention is too serious to be footnoted as one of those parliamentary slipups that happen now and then. The British Parliament, which thinks fit to ruminate on crimes against humanity that proxies for terrorist outfits allege have been committed in Sri Lanka, is now honour bound to come to conclusion about the issue of legality (let’s leave aside the inhumanity of the exercise as it unfolded, predictably, for the moment).  

The issue is this: if invasion was illegal then an international court cannot remain silent, especially not after a man of Clegg’s official stature confesses to the crime.  Of course, we all know that illegality was established long before Clegg confessed.  It was established in fact not by some dubious and rabidly anti-US, anti-British Islamic fundamentalist outfit but by no less a personality as the then Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith. He had written a note to then Prime Minister Tony Blair (on January 30, 2003) maintaining that ‘the correct legal interpretation of [UN security council] resolution 1441 is that it does not authorise the use of military force without a further determination by the security council.’  Nine years after Morrow wanted ‘purple fury’ and eight years after Dubya Bush led a bunch of willing/unwilling sucker-nations into Iraq, there’s been blood-red rage and a lot of deaths, dismemberment, displacement, destruction and orphaning.  There’s a conspicuous absence though: weapons of mass destruction.
Now interestingly, Nick Clegg has not limited comments to Britain’s involvement in Iraq. He’s spoken about Afghanistan too.  After 7 British soldiers lost their lives in that unhappy country a year ago, Clegg questioned the Afghan strategy of then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown which didn’t of course amount to anything more than following instructions issued by Washington.  He said the ‘current course is a half-way house’. What then was the correct strategy?  Clegg said he supported the aims of the mission and said he was not calling for a troop pull-out. He said, moreover that Afghanistan was not turning into another Vietnam: ‘I don’t accept that’ he responded to a query.
He was correct, sadly.  ‘Vietnam’ was a tragedy but it is nothing compared to Afghanistan.  Things are leaking out from Afghanistan and what’s coming out is coloured in crimson, Afghan crimson.  Outside of those killed in combat and those killed by ‘mistake’ (what a consolation for the dead and their loved ones!) it is now estimated that there have been 3.5 million post-invasion non-violent and avoidable deaths in Afghanistan.  There are between 3-4 million Afghan refugees and British MPs not only ignore this fact, but have the brass to talk about the less than 100,000 IDPs in Sri Lanka formerly held hostage by the LTTE (and they are very well looked after, compared to the 22 Muslim IDPs across the world, most of them US oil-war refugees).  There have been over 2.4 post-invasion infant deaths in Afghanistan (90% avoidable).  It would add up to ‘holocaust’ but that’s a word over which Israel has privileged ownership.

Why is Nick Clegg silent on these issues?  What kind of eye-disease does he suffer that he can see 7 deaths of British soldiers but not even a fraction of the 3.5 million Afghan deaths?   Is this myopia a necessary and scripted corollary to the Doctrine of Purple Fury? 

Yes, the worst times do separate the civilized from the uncivilized. Those who were guilty of 9/11 do not belong to the former.  The Merchants of Purple Fury, contrary to Lance Morrow’s self-righteous posturing, have proved that they too belong to the latter category.  The moment of clarity did not come when Nick Clegg ‘slipped’, shall we say?  It did not come when those 7 British soldiers died. 

The smoke that billowed out of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 did not in any way cloud the vision of the civilized.  There was an Axis of Evil. Bush said it was made of Iran, Iraq and North Korea.  I think this was gross misnaming or in the very least an incomplete list.  Nick Clegg tells us that his country belonged to that Evil Axis, as did 47 other nations.  The world from Iraq and Afghanistan is the clearest, to my mind: ‘Nick Clegg is correct’.

I remember a telling line in Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’, where it is held that Satan arrives often in the guise of the saviour, wearing the garb of truth.  Why then should we be surprised that in the name of Purple Fury, the uncivilized wore the civilized cloak? 

There is no case for ‘rage’ as Lance Morrow argued. There is a case, however, for retribution.  Nick Clegg, willingly or unwillingly is making that case.  He is ably supported by the fact that the Truth about Afghanistan is a rubber ball which cannot be held forever under the reservoirs of blood produced by the ‘Purple Fury’ of willing partners in the crimes of genocide.  The might of ‘rage’ will thrust it down, but truth, like the lotus, though born in muddy depths will rise and bloom just above the surface. That’s the order of the earth and it does not have a colour, purple or otherwise, it does not have a nationality and does not belong to any coalition, willing or otherwise.         

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer who can be reached at malindasenevi@gmail.com



Anonymous said...

U sim to be rebpublishing a lot of very old (2011 is very old) articles as blog posts. This is not a good idea. Blogs should be about original thinking.
This is not a good practice. U seem to be out of ideas.

Anonymous said...

Dear Malinda,I feel all your writings (I am not referring to political once ) never get old. Even I have read earlier I see something new when I read now .So please do keep on posting what you have done earlier.Even you , may be seeing them differently now .You are capable of relating to our own lives the things slipped unnoticed .I enjoy reading your articles of 'morning inspection" Its fresh and always fresh like a blooming flower for everyday sunrise.Happy writing and happy re-publishing Malinda ! for me and for the rest who are reading for the first time.