Tuesday, 30 October 2007

No Plan, No Peace in Iraq – beWare BBC version

In an incisive inside story, BBC reporter John Ware takes us behind the political and diplomatic scenes to reveal that the US/UK had no effective plan to realise the peace in Iraq, and that the neo-con “crazies” should shoulder considerable blame for that set of mistakes.

Or does he?

At a surface level, this is the reading of No Plan, No Peace – the Inside Story of Iraq's Descent into Chaos (BBC, 28, 29 October 2007) that much of the public and even many anti-war adherents will, no doubt, have seen and accepted.

And if they do, it would be testament to Ware's capacity for crafted distortion and the BBC's willingness to make ever-refined excuses for the illegal and immoral actions of its political masters. Indeed, even among its finest catalogue of whitewashed output, we may struggle to find a better example of the BBC's 'good-warmonger – bad-warmonger' version of US/UK 'intervention' in Iraq.

Ware's film is actually the classic liberal version of the 'mistaken war': the 'mistake' of not having a pre-planned strategy for 'state-building' and formalisation of 'democratic structures'; the 'mistake' of extreme de-Ba'thification and disbanding of the Iraqi security services; the 'mistakes' of failing to anticipate the alienation of displaced Iraqis; and the 'mistaken' belief that the surge might still break the insurgency.

Completely absent from this version of the 'mistaken war' is any acknowledgment of its actual illegality or immorality. Nor, in Part 1 of this 'cutting-edge' exposé, does Ware deem it necessary to discuss the actual extent of the Iraqi death toll. A “few hundred thousand” may have died, he permits, in vague admission, as though the tragedy and suffering of so many people can be treated as a passing comment. Ware never thinks it appropriate to mention the Lancet and (complementary) ORB studies which reliably estimate in excess of 1.2 million people now dead as a direct consequence of the invasion.

The cast of goodfellas

Ware, instead, proceeds to introduce an extensive cast of the 'good-guy' warmongers. First-up is Colin Powell's ex-Chief of Staff, Colonel Larry Wilkerson, who confirms Ware's enquiry about Powell and his circle referring to Cheney and their neo-con cohorts as “the crazies”. Douglas Feith is also singled-out as being a particular “idiot”. Such statements are presented as a journalistic coup for Ware who seems unconcerned at the passé nature of these 'great revelations'. But they suit his purpose in building an apparent foundation for his 'shocking' thesis: that a cavalier-and-uncaring bunch of US neo-cons and a careless-but-dutiful UK had no serious understanding of how to plan and maintain an occupation.

It's instructive to see such a 'distinguished' cast of diplomatic, political and military elite eagerly participating in Ware's film. And why not, for it serves their purposes of being star players in this gentlemanly re-writing of history. In Ware's liberal revisionist treatise, Powell and his State Department people are feted as some kind of wronged and maligned faction, unable to realise their 'diplomatic' efforts and 'benign' planning policies. That, of course, didn't stop Powell himself going to the UN to sell Bush's war agenda. Nor did he or any of his 'concerned' coterie stand-up and declare their worries or abhorrence of the invasion at the time.

The cast of good-warmonger denialists keep on coming. In a telling 'cameo', US Ambassador and ex-Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) figure, Barbara Bodine talks of the neo-cons' antagonism towards the State Department, telling us, in sombre tones, that:

“This [Bush's] is the first truly ideological administration that we've ever had.”

Ware: “Ever, in the history of the United States?”

Bodine: “Ever, ever.”

Astonishingly, Ware accepts this assertion at face value, allowing it to sit in the pregnant silence as some kind of major disclosure.

I immediately thought of what Pilger recently said about it all being the fault of the “Bush gang”:

“And, yes, the Bush gang are extreme. But my experience is that they are no more than an extreme version of what has gone before. In my lifetime, more wars have been started by liberal Democrats than by Republicans. Ignoring this truth is a guarantee that the propaganda system and the war-making system will continue.”

(This, incidentally, is the same Bodine who obstructed the FBI's investigation into Bin Laden prior to 9/11.)

Ware continues with a standard re-hash of the false “45 minutes” claim, coupled with more mitigation from Powell's ex-aide that he really wanted “diplomacy and inspections”. Ware sees no contradiction either in Powell's other 'difference of opinion' in seeking double the number of US troops allowed by Rumsfeld. Powell's man infers that this was to help build and maintain the 'peace'. Yet, Ware has nothing to say about Powell's key role in prosecuting the war or his case for troop deployment. He's conspicuously quiet too on Wilkerson's claim that Jack Straw, Powell's UK cohort, was also a man of diplomacy.

The 'good Brits'

By this point, the other key theme in Ware's distorting film is unfolding: Bush, Cheney and the US high-command were 'fundamentally uncaring', while 'we' Brits were only 'incautious and misled'.

Sir Christopher Meyer, ex-UK Ambassador to Washington, affects his usual all-knowing manner in recounting his worries about the post-invasion aftermath and proclaimed efforts to:

“...above all, get them [Blair and his government] thinking about what's next.”

Never does it seemingly occur to Meyer that “above all” he should have been at the door of Downing Street, rushing round media studios, even taking to the streets with the millions of others, to denounce the invasion itself.

We also have an account of Condoleezza Rice 'ticking-off ' Meyer about his 'concerns', reminding him that the Iraqis were actually capable of planning their own reconstruction. We get more Whitehall mandarins talking reflectively about their “warnings” to Washington and, for good measure, Claire Short's 'searching' testimony on the inadequacy of the international aid and development efforts.

The UK's Foreign Office head, Lord Jay (2000-2006), offers varying 'diplomatic asides' on Washington's “dysfunctional administration”, asking, in rhetorical admission “...should we have had a better understanding?” Britain's other ex-ambassador to the US, Sir David Manning, claims that the UK had little sense of the imposing role the Department of Defense had in mind for the running of Iraq.

General Sir Mike Jackson is invited to add weight to Ware's 'mistaken war' thesis, while Britain's Major General Tim Cross (Senior Logistics Planner ) records his apparent “unease” over Rumsfeld's lack of military and civil planning. The 'academic' evidence of Professor Charles Tripp (School of Oriental and African Studies ) is, likewise, invoked to illustrate how ill-prepared the UK was even days before the invasion. Relating how the Department for International Development (DfID) had asked him to do “desk-based research on government structures in Iraq”, Tripp describes the lack of preparation as “surreal”.

Yet, more-tellingly, none of these people have a solitary word to say here about the fundamental illegality and immorality of the invasion itself.

While Ware is lining-up his eager cast of 'disillusioned insiders' on the UK side, his examinations of Jay Garner, Director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), and Robert Bremer, head of the subsequent CPA, are of a more hostile nature. Not, an unreasonable view to take, of course. Both were arch-participants in the murderous brutality. However, Ware is more concerned here in highlighting their 'mistaken strategies' - rather than their criminality – and how their actions largely 'differed' from the UK's more 'pragmatic assessments'.

But there's still the 'goodfellas' on the US side to consider. ORHA official, Colonel Paul Hughes, for example, recounts how another of Rumsfeld's appointees to ORHA, Lawrence Di Rita, had made loud-soundings about the US having already given the Iraqis 'their freedom' and, thus, refusing to acknowledge their right to actual reconstruction. Hughes recalls his own reaction to Di Rita's belligerence:

“...holy hell, what are we here for, then? Why don't we all just go home?”

Di Rita's zealous thoughts need no further comment. More revealing is how Ware sees Hughes's response as some sort of honourable, good-guy remonstration. The impression is, thus, conveyed of a 'good war 'being hampered by 'bad-war' neo-cons. What Ware refuses to admit is that ALL these people were/are there as part of an illegal and - contrary to the fine-sounding ORHA title - inhumanitarian occupation.

Part 1 of No Plan, No Peace ends with this pre-summary from Ware:

“In Baghdad, the heat was burning-up what Iraqi goodwill there was from being liberated. The failure to provide electricity and water was stoking anti-American feeling.”

Ware has Colonel Tim Cross amplify this selective version of the invasion. It was like “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

More 'mistakes' and 'good-guy' 'regrets'

The 'mistaken war' line is developed in Part 2 with Ware proceeding to question the lack of planning to deal with the insurgency. Bremer's 'new brush' approach is scrutinised, with Ware introducing old Washington favourite Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, to question Bremer's handling of the situation.

Deeply-absorbed in this claim and counter-claim about securing an 'effective strategy', one is easily-led into Ware's false agenda on 'the problems' of reconstruction and securing of a 'pluralist democracy'. Other UK-sided 'good guys' are invited to sum-up the catalogue of incompetence, but never to comment on the illegal occupation or their own participation in it. We even have the tragi-comic utterances of Sir Hilary Synnott (attached to the CPA) bemoaning his lack of funds to entertain and co-opt the Iraqi tribal leaders. How very old-colonial. In similar vein, Ware thinks that we should consider the snubbing of UK Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock by the US in Iraq as a further troubling indication of the good-guy-bad-guy relations.

In particular, Bremer is taken-to-task for pursuing an extreme form of de-Ba'thification, serving to drive alienated Iraqis over to the insurgency. As Ware, in his gravitas-laden voice reminds us: “The Americans were trying to spread freedom.” But they were going about it the wrong way.

While Bremer talks-up General Petraeus's surge “strategy”, Greenstock expresses “regret” over the suffering of the Iraqi people. There's footage of UK troops, portrayed as some kind of benevolent force, training-up a proto-Iraqi army. Even the damning footage of British soldiers ruthlessly beating-up Iraqi civilians is passed-over as a “shocking” but atypical incident.

Alas, Ware has to concede, “Basra is not the showcase for democracy that London and Washington had hoped.” But why does Ware assume that either the UK or US were ever seriously interested in democracy?

Ware leaves us with this final thought:

“Somehow, with all our shared history, a Prime Minister and a President abandoned a principle that's been an iron law of warfare since Napoleon. Never take the first step to war without planning every bit as carefully for what comes afterwards.”

So, the dark story is now safely contextualised by Ware: the war itself was noble, only the war plan, or lack of, was at fault.

And there we have it, an 'inside account' of disregard and incompetence which, together, serves to separate the good-warmongers from the bad warmongers. While the 'bad guys' have pursued a 'thoughtless war', the 'good guys' have opened-up, in 'candid', 'concerned' fashion, about their part in this disastrous but, still, honourable invasion to remove Saddam.

Again, one shouldn't be surprised to see such output lauded as 'cutting-edge' reportage, with the general public expected to be in thrall to Ware and his 'vigilant' BBC peers for bringing us these 'vital insights'. In actual truth, we have here a classic exercise in gate-keeping liberal propaganda, with a lavish cast of denialists and apologists permitted open-forum to register and record their own personal and political 'authentications'. At Ware's careful discretion, they have been eulogised as moral players in a 'benevolent occupation'.

Maybe they'll see Ware's film as a timely 'lesson learned', and that all we need is a little 'fine policy-tuning' for our next big adventure in Iran.


Monday, 22 October 2007

Trident, the SNP summit and Brian's braces

It's been illuminating this week to observe the varying admonitions of New Labour, their political stable-mates and much of the media over the Scottish Government's summit on Trident and its proposed replacement (Glasgow, 22 October 2007). What some lack in the standard practice of demonisation, others make-up for in 'blethering' trivialisation.

Here, for example, is MP Eric Joyce, that dutifully-alert sergeant of New Labour militarism, castigating First Minister Alex Salmond for daring to contact the world's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) signatories - including, 'the shame of it all', Iran and Zimbabwe - asking for their help in removing Trident:

"Alex Salmond simply cannot know whether he is making damaging assertions or not because he does not know the nature of our relationships with many of these complex and difficult countries...He has written to some very despotic and dangerous individuals, which we have very sensitive and complex relationships with, and treated it like a weekly political football. It is potentially very damaging to our national security."

Ah, "national security". That oldest of chestnuts. Oh, for something, at least, more originally mendacious. Nor can we have our 'little parliament' exchanging thoughts with these 'dark foe' states - particularly while our 'big parliament' pursues its 'noble' work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joyce and his political suits conveniently forget that Iran and Zimbabwe are still party to the NNPT, and were written-to on that inclusive basis. Moreover, unlike the UK, Iran hasn't blatantly ignored the NNPT.

Among the other usual suspects attacking the purpose and cost of the summit was Scottish Liberal Democrats leader, Nicol Stephen:

"Once again the SNP will spend government time and money squabbling with Westminster rather than getting on with the job they were elected to do. Ministers can't tell us how many extra teachers they will need to meet their promises to cut class sizes, yet they are happy to spend time, money and effort on a summit working out how to pick yet another fight with Westminster."

Yes, Nicol. Maybe it's just possible to do all these things, and more, at the same time. The 'irresponsible allocation of time and money' argument is, of course, another familiar complement to the 'national interest' trope.

The summit, attended by the Green Party's Patrick Harvie, but none of the other invited opposition, also heard Ministry of Defence spokesman Neil Smith warn of the 7000 job losses and cost to the local economy should Faslane close.

There are always, to invoke Wilde, those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. And, I'm sure, in perverse logic, that such utterings include denying the £76 billion price of Trident's replacement for the 'value' it supposedly brings to the economy.

Actually, I find it offensive to engage in such cost-benefit analyses. The case for re-training workers and economic diversification is all there. But, the fundamental immorality of Trident and mass threat to human life should be a sufficient imperative for disarmament in itself.

Media cover

The main outcome of the summit was the setting-up of a special advisory group, backed by the Scottish Government, to consider practical ways of blocking the MoD's Trident replacement plans, very possibly on environmental and planning grounds.

But, again, should our elected leaders be 'wasting time' indulging in these 'idealistic' gatherings?

Ever-the-voice of 'cautious practicality' (maybe his trademark, on-screen trouser braces are symbolic of such), here's our very own - that is, BBC Scotland's - Brian Taylor with a few 'blethering' reminders of what 'really matters' to the electorate and why Salmond's little devolved band have no real cause to be 'bothering' these important international ministers:

"Can this summit decide anything on Trident itself? No, defence policy is reserved. That is why this was a convocation of the modest and the good in a posh Glasgow pub-cum-theatre at the top of Byres Road rather than a full-scale governmental gathering."

A neat and quick put-down from Brian. But, maybe, he thinks, a little too quick, remembering that all-important need for BBC 'balance':

"Does that mean it’s a complete waste of time? That’s where opinion divides. SNP Ministers say it’s part of their National Conversation – and they’re entitled to examine options within devolved powers for thwarting the practical implementation of the Trident upgrade. Critics say that those same Ministers should start delivering on the promises in their manifesto which dealt with substantive devolved issues such as policing, schools and housing. They say this is another example of SNP Ministers indulging in gesture politics while neglecting their own in-tray. Are the Nationalists out to gain political capital? Unquestionably. They are presenting a direct political challenge to Labour, particularly Labour in Scotland. They are after votes."

The "critics say" part is, of course, a convenient way of imparting Taylor's own thoughts on the matter. Again, though, in the spirit of BBC 'fairness', 'objectivity' and token-gesture caveats, Brian allows that:

"...perhaps there is a balance to be struck. Arguably, it would be somewhat strange if the SNP offered no resistance whatsoever to Trident. Their opposition to the nuclear deterrent is of long-standing. Further, as the elected administration at Holyrood, they have a right, if not a duty, to consider wider issues of concern to the Scottish people."

A high sentiment, indeed - alas, tempered by our Brian's more immediate suspicions of voters' priorities:

"I suspect most neutral observers would concede that Trident is of passing interest to Scotland."

That would be the kind of "neutral observer" Taylor sees in himself, no doubt, with the same kind of "passing interest" in the issue. And just to round-off a polished performance in "neutral" BBC comment, we're left with this last little chiding of uppity politicians and those 'parochial' anti-nuclear crusaders:

"Against that, though, there is some substance, is there not, in the Labour complaint that the SNP initiative in contacting the 189 countries who are members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty risks running across the UK’s diplomatic remit. Don’t think we can push that one too far, though. I cannot see the bells ringing at the UN when the news breaks that Bruce Crawford is on his feet in Byres Road giving it laldy to an audience of unions, church leaders, Greenpeace et al. In general, SNP Ministers will be judged as a Scottish government not by their stance on Trident – but by their success or otherwise on those very devolved issues advance [sic] by their critics today."

Right enough, the "risks" of crossing "the UK's diplomatic remit" can't be ignored. I wonder how Brian rates those "risks" in relation to what lurks in the sub silos at Faslane. Or maybe such thoughts don't arise very much in the life of Brian.

Unlike Taylor, the Herald's Iain MacWhirter had, to his credit, the good grace to state some of the more obvious, inconvenient, truths about the UK's violation of the NNPT and the Scottish Government's legitimate interest in the issue:

"...David Cairns, the Scotland Office minister, says that Alex Salmond should be sorting out the free personal care instead of "cavorting across the world stage with his discredited loony-left policies" and giving comfort to our enemies. Well, they are also his loony policies, since Labour is still formally committed to pursuing "multilateral nuclear disarmament" under a defence policy which dates from the late 1980s. If he is saying that the presence of an anti-nuclear Scottish Government representative at the NNPT talks might be an embarrassment, then fair enough. But Britain has every cause to be embarrassed, since we've driven a coach and horses through the NNPT by renewing the Trident missile system. Article VI of the NNPT requires signatory nations to work toward "cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament". The government insists that developing a new generation of Trident does not run counter to this commitment, but many disagree, including Matrix Chambers, Cherie Blair's own law firm."

Ah well, these are all little incidentals that shouldn't detain Holyrood, the public or our vigilant media. Best let Westminster get on with applying its "remit". Know your place, Mr Salmond and all you bothersome peaceniks.

As I sign-off here, the metaphor of Brian's braces properly formulates in my mind. They serve a kind of back-up function - belt and braces - suggesting that where Eric's and Nicol's Trident-upholding efforts aren't enough to keep the political trousers up, Brian's dependable BBC braces will help ensure they don't fall around their political ankles, thus fully-exposing the bare truth beneath.

I hope that isn't a too-disturbing image for you, dear readers.


Monday, 15 October 2007

Quartet bias: the UN's pro-Israel leanings

The United Nations is “siding too much with Israel” and “failing to take account of the violation of Palestinian human rights”.
(Channel 4 News, 15 October 2007.)

That's the considered opinion of leading UN human rights envoy Professor John Dugard.

Dugard believes that the Middle East Quartet (the US, European Union, Russia and the UN) has “ignored the human rights aspect of the dispute”, and that at the forthcoming 'peace conference' in the US “full attention should be given to” the illegalities of the Wall, West Bank settlements, military checkpoints and continuing incursions.

Dugard alleges that “the UN is no longer seen as an impartial and even-handed mediator in the dispute” and that “by siding too much with Israel and by failing to take account of the violation of Palestinian human rights, the United Nations has lost that image of impartiality.”

He further declares that the UN's participation in the Quartet is merely serving to disguise the latter's pro-Israeli agenda, and that the UN's own 'integrity' is being compromised in the process: “There's no doubt that the United Nations is being used to legitimise the Quartet and if that is its sole purpose, I believe the United Nations should reconsider its position.”

Elsewhere, the UN Human Rights Council's Israeli-Palestinian investigator said that there must be real "considerations of fairness" behind the work of the Quartet.

Dugard now proposes to write to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging that the UN withdraw from the Quartet until it demonstrates a meaningful resolve to observe and defend Palestinian human rights.


It's another damning indictment of the UN's back-room adherence to US foreign policy, and all the more biting as it comes from a key UN insider. I'm reminded here of how former UN humanitarian envoy to Iraq, Denis Halliday, resigned in protest at the UN's failure to challenge the West's murderous sanctions policy in Iraq.

Professor Dugard's admirable disclosures also give indication of the UN's slavish appointment of Tony Blair as their Quartet envoy. In the Channel 4 News interview with Dugard, Jon Snow repeated media reports which claimed that Blair “has expressed shock and surprise at some of the damage that has been done to the Palestinian territories by the wall.” Snow asked Dugard: “Do you think that, perhaps, the West is at last waking up to what's going on over there?” Dugan replied: “Well, I'm surprised that Mr Blair was not aware of this when he was prime minister...after all there was a 2004 decision/advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice holding that the construction of the wall is illegal, and Mr Blair distanced himself from that finding.”

Dugard's comments on the UN's co-opted participation in the Quartet is yet more proof of its ongoing genuflection to the US. How can a body which declared Blair's actions over Iraq illegal now consider him a 'dove' to be sent to the Middle East? As they say, you couldn't make it up.

We should pay very close attention to what Professor Dugard is saying here. For his words contain a prescient message of what kind of placatory offerings are being hatched for the upcoming talks. Blair may be, apparently, "shocked" by what he's seen in the West Bank. But not shocked enough to call for the complete removal of the West Bank settlements and deconstruction of the Apartheid Wall. Rather, his real task, as implicitly exposed by Dugard, is to help sell an Israeli-US defined 'peace package', with all of Olmert's substantive demands realised.

Again, Dugard sees all-too-clearly the stark imbalance of such priorities in his reminder that Palestinian human rights must be the determining issue for any just and peaceful settlement. Despite the recent Abbas-Olmert meetings and Rice's affirmations that the US “mean business” this time, it's clear that another post-Oslo stitch-up is in the offing. And, of course, how can there be any legitimate deal at Annapolis without the presence of Hamas, the democratically-elected administration? That would have been like excluding Sinn Fein or the ANC from the political table in Northern Ireland and South Africa.

As the Quartet and an obedient media play-along with Rice's "time for a Palestinian state" charade, it's heartening to see and hear this kind of truthful insight and moral statement on the real processes of Western-UN 'diplomacy'.


Friday, 12 October 2007

Witness in the West Bank: doctor's letter to BMJ

Places of foreign conflict exist for many as a kind of abstract reality. We sort of know that there's pain and misery for the people involved. But we don't really see or comprehend the suffering and causes. It all gets seemingly lost or confused in the morass of events, the mists of time. Years and decades elapse, with no prospective resolution. The mainstream media assume nominal reporting duties, treating the situation as another outpost conflict. What should be regarded as remarkable violations of human rights become just unremarkable incidents. Those at the receiving end despair of their plight and the world's seeming indifference. Trapped and under siege, they get branded and demonised as fanatical terrorists, a threat to be contained. The same media do little or nothing to correct the lie, even helping to promote the distortion.

Such is the situation for the people of Palestine, now approaching sixty years, the world's longest contemporary occupation.

We can't all personally witness the truth of such daily oppression. But it sometimes helps to have others bear witness on our behalf to what's really happening on the ground. Here's the compelling statement of one such witness, Asad Khan, a specialist respiratory registrar at Manchester Hospital, in response to a debate at the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on the case for a boycott and sanctions against Israel.

In Go and see the truth for yourself, I did , Asad tells of his recent visit to the West Bank (with a party of fellow observers) and how he saw for himself the kind of daily brutality and humiliations not being dutifully reported by the media. He made his trip around the same time as our GPHRC party, and my own observations are in close keeping with his findings.

As Mahmoud Abbas and other self-selected parties prepare to gather for next month's ill-fated 'summit' in the US, it's worth remembering that no true peace can ever be realised without full and proper recognition of such inhumanity and the serious resolve of the 'international community' to challenge Israel's rejectionist positions on full Palestinian sovereignty, Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

(Asad's letter also posted here.)


Thursday, 4 October 2007

With all your power: Faslane 365

The Big Blockade
Faslane 365
1 October 2007

Isn't it funny how we associate particular tunes with significant events?

We're at Faslane North gate, early morning, gathered together in a spirit of solidarity and carnivalesque resolve. And the tune going through my head is The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song by the Flaming Lips, with it's whimsical verses and challenging refrain:

"With all your power, what would you do?"

And I'm thinking how apt that little lyrical question is on this uplifting day, both as an interrogation of the political elite with their fingers on the nuclear button and as an active demonstration of our own inner and collective capacities for resisting their policies of mass destruction.

Consider, in the first regard, the staggering scale of this deathly enterprise and what actually lurks behind those fortified gates.

Each of the 200 nuclear warheads, carried on four submarines, carries 8 times the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb.

Trident's replacement will cost £76 billion (including 30 year running costs). Just think, to state the obvious, what kind of social benefits that colossal sum could deliver.

72% of the British public don't want Trident replaced.

The International Court of Justice has ruled (1996) that "the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be generally contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law." The replacing of Trident is, in effect, illegal rearmament.

In breaching the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the UK, along with America and Israel, is serving to encourage a new arms race in the Middle East. This is the dual economics of geopolitical control and corporate militarism. From Faslane to Dimona, it's the same concocted story of "necessary deterrence" and privatised warmongering.

Trident has also locked Britain into America's military agenda of global dominance and 'pre-emption', thus encouraging nuclear upgrading by other countries. But, in seeking to protect its place within the nuclear club, and in its role as a leading global arms trader, the UK is itself a willing and mendacious party to this destabilisation.

As Greenpeace note: "The disposition of the US and UK Trident fleets, and the extraordinary range of the Trident D5 missile, mean that every day the USA and the UK project massive nuclear force into the Middle East – providing states such as Iran with an argument for acquiring their own nuclear weapons."

Again, the question is posed: with all those powers, what might they do? Annihilate countries like Iran for daring to think about protecting themselves in similar ways?

But, then we have the other facet of our lyric:

With all your power, what would you do?

And this opens up another line of uplifting thought on our own powers of human persuasion. 1149 people have been arrested during the 365 campaign, 180 on the Big Blockade day alone (including, in humble spirit, yours truly). 131 groups have blockaded throughout the campaign, covering 188 days of protest. From all walks of life, people have come to express their opposition to WMD. And that display of collective dedication has helped keep Trident firmly in the public domain as a political, financial and, of course, moral issue to be resolved.

This combination of civil disobedience and vigilant action has helped delineate how the Scottish Government itself must now act to oppose and obstruct the UK's Trident replacement policy. While encouraging to hear First Minister Alex Salmond openly endorse Faslane 365 and the Big Blockade, even greater pressure must be applied to make Holyrood act decisively.

Meanwhile, we can take great heart from the display of collective power here. As the police busied themselves sawing through iron lock-ons and un-supergluing the hands of demonstrators, there's the reassuring thought that all their considerable powers will never match the simple ingenuity of those driven by such humanitarian ideals.

And, hopefully, this gives out a message of support and solidarity to others engaged in resisting state violence and oppression around the world. From the gates of Faslane to the checkpoints of Palestine, crass militarism will never outlive the desire for true peace and justice.

So, in tribute to all of those principled, resilient and peace-caring people, here's a little burst of The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song with pictures of this memorable day. (Many thanks to Alan Pacetta for the video.) Turn up loud, dance along and keep asking that vital question:

With all your power, what would you do?

Peace, love and tuneful thoughts.