Friday, 22 January 2010

If We Want to Fight Imperial Wars We Need the ICS

The Chilcot Inquiry is concerned with lessons to be drawn from the Iraq War.  Its chairman reminds us of this at the opening of every session.  The spectre that is solidifying before our horrified eyes is the New Labour policy of creating the imperial administrative structure needed to hold a conquered territory, a territoy that has been  gained from riding American policy coat tails as the United States pursues its own imperial imperatives.

The military witnesses stated plainly that if United Kingdom government policy is the use of force within our limited resources to gain and, by cleaving closely to the imperial United States, to leverage those limited military resources for geopolitical strategic advantage, then an imperial administrative class, with general organisational capacities as well as specific technical skills, must be developed to take over after the military has delivered up territory and people to our control.  It is not for the military to act as the occupying power.  Yes it must stay until the post-attack victors' administration is securely in place, but it is not designed to be an occupation force. Unsurprisingly the military speaks as it eats: we take the territory -  you, the government to which we answer, must provide the occupation administration.  This is inconvenient directness.

Any post-attack imperial administration should be multinational to conform to other New Labour,  first Europeanist but also globalist,  policies.  It was particularly beastly of the Germans and wholly like the French to stymie our stance and style by roundly refusing any  backing from Europe, and denying the provision of any globalist fig leaf from the United Nations either.  Out of pieta' for occupied Iraq some European states sent peace-keeping and rebuilding forces after the attack.  But the UK found itself with all the obligations of an occupying power under the Hague and Geneva conventions on acts of war but with no clear understanding of any kind with the United States on  occupying-force policy choice, its enforcement, or its financing.  And it must be understood that the UK is  responsible for what happened in US-occupied sectors in Iraq equally with US responsibility for what happened in UK-occupied sectors.  Responsibility without power -  terrific.  Responsibility without any imperial administration personnel or infrastructures - even more terrific.

New Labour tried to set up something ready for the implementation of their contemptible global impositions-by-slyly-co-opted-force projects. They took international and development aid, and non-governmental assistance quangos, and reconfigured this mish mash of under-funded left-overs from ex-colonial days to provide some kind of occupying power skeleton; worse, they drew on colonial occupation for models, particularly the Malayan Emergency which had been given an undeserved wash of success in the burning glow of the US Vietnam  disaster. 

What was needed was the wholesale revival of the Colonial Office or, better, the India Office and the ICS.

The United Kingdom paid the last of its Empire for its role in the Second World War.   Whatever we make of that, that is what our grandfathers and great-grandfathers chose to do.   And under both Labour and Conservative administrations our imperial administrations steadily withdrew, with greater and lesser conflict and success in creating stable indigenous administrations in the countries that we left.  The Conservatives laid out the better vision for what might be our late 20th century and 21st century role.  A nation state with peaceful relations and on good terms with neighbours and allies, rich but ready to help in need or emergency, a northern European Rolls-Royce state that would have   ended, was ending,  any internationalist socialist Labour Party dream, and a severe threat by its very example,  to those states living the realised socialist nightmare.  Whatever we want, greater or lesser integration with Europe, we cannot go on like this with obscured New Labour agendas perverting the form and purpose of major offices of state and misusing minor, underfunded systems designed for administrating the Windward Islands.   

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