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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ann Clwyd: Blood on Her Hands

"For some, Tariq Aziz is the benign face of the Ba'ath regime in Iraq. Not so: he is as culpable for its crimes against humanity as other senior leaders"
writes pro-war propagandist Ann Clwyd (above) in her CIF piece entitled 'Blood on His Hands', in which she lauds the trial in Baghdad of the 72-year old former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister.

For those who don't remember, Clwyd, in her role as Tony Bliar's 'Human Rights Envoy' played an important role in the campaign of lies and propaganda that preceded the Iraq war. In March 2003, for instance, she wrote a piece for The Times in which she claimed that Saddam's regime used people shredders: "See men shredded, then say you don't back war". Brendan O'Neill wrote an excellent piece for the Guardian on the background to Clwyd's claim: suffice to say that five years on Saddam's people shredders have proved as elusive to locate as his WMD. But Clwyd's article, though being a load of cobblers, served its purpose: it helped sway public opinion to be more supportive of war. If anyone has blood on their hands, it's you and your fellow Nu Labour warmongers Ann.

And P.S Ann: Any news about where your infamous people shredder got to? Or doesn’t it matter anymore as you got your wretched war?

Commenter 'Mac 1000' has written an excellent response to Clwyd's article:

For some, Ann Clwyd is the benign face of New Labour. Not so: she is as culpable for the war crimes against humanity as other senior leaders in the party.

The New Labour Charge Sheet Reads:


(Mac 1000 is in fact being generous to New Labour as he/she does not include in his Charge Sheet the numbers of innocent people killed in another Bliarite illegal war of aggression- against Yugoslavia in 1999).


Anonymous said...

Hearing a New Labour luvvy talk about others committing war crimes and crimes against humanity is a bit like hearing Ozzy Osborne complaining that there's too much bad language on tv. I don't think he'd have the nerve, unlike Clwyd.

David Lindsay said...

Still neither a DBE nor a red box, eh, Ann? How you must wish that you had opposed the war now?

Tariq Azis might or might not be a very nice man, but he is an indication of how far Christians could rise before Bush and Blair destroyed the secular regime in Iraq.

And now Bush is planning to do the same thing in Syria, where the Christian minority is even larger and to which huge numbers of Iraqi Christians have fled.

Neil Clark said...

anonymous: nice analogy!
david: excellent point. Tariq Aziz is especially dangerous to the war lobby precisely because he is a Christian- the fact that such a man held such a position in Iraq doesn't quite tally with the attempt to portray Saddam's secular regime as having common ground with radical islamists.
Of course, as we all know the neocons have no problem with radical Islamists- after all they backed them in Afghanistan in the 80s, in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s and in Chechnya to this day. It wasn't Assad jnr, nor the President of Iran, nor Tariq Aziz, nor Saddam who said : "There can be no peace or coexistence between
the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions", but Alija Izetbegovic, the separatist, anti-Yugoslavia Bosnian leader.
And who was an adviser to Izetbegovic's delegation at the Dayton agreement in 1995? Why none other than than our old friend Richard Perle!!

different wax said...

Neil: did you know that Clwyd's human rights group 'Indict' is funded by the US Congress?

Neil Clark said...

different wax: Yes, I did. Thanks.

Jock McTrousers said...

1 million dead? I think New Labour must take a big part of the blame for the million deaths under the sanctions, which they supported for years, when their appalling effects were apparent. The latest estimate I've seen, from credible sources, is 1.3 million excess deaths post invasion, and that may be 'in excess' of the mortality rate under the sanctions. Not to mention all those who are going to die from the effects of depleted Uranium, and all the stunted lives - those who could have been educated, employed, healthy, raised families. This is a crime that defies the imagination. As Stalin is reported to have said: " One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic" (and give me Stalin over Cllyd and her like any day)Cllyd also brings to mind the phrase:' the banality of evil'.

Charlie Marks said...

The main problem I have with people arguing that the great powers should invade countries on human rights grounds is this:

Even if it were true that the motive was solely to defend human rights - does invading and occupying a country not involve a fair bit of, erm, violating human rights?

I don't know if you saw it, but on the BBC's The Apprentice tonight, two team of yuppies had to come up with a new range of greetings cards to sell to stores.

One group came up with cards to encourage people to live more sustainably, and presumably recycle. The idea being, you would buy a new card, put it in an envelope, and post it to a friend in order to encourage them be sparing with resources - like, erm, making your own greetings cards by recycling old ones...

The absurdity is plain, as is the oxymoronic excuse for imperialism that is "humanitarian intervention". All aggressors claim to be do-gooders - remember Manchuria (imperial Japan), Abyssinia (Fascist Italy), and the Sudetenland (Nazi Germany)?

Anonymous said...

Charlie Marks writes that the argument for humanitarian intervention is oxymoronic:you can't defend human rights through invasion without violating human rights. I agree with him.The same argument destroys any justification for capital punishment, which I notice Neil Clark supports.Basically,if you don't believe in killing people, then you shouldn't,erm,kill people.

Anonymous said...

This is typical of Clueless where she celebrates the appointment of the chief jailer and torturer of Guantanamo Bay as the new commandant of Abu Ghraib!

From The TimesMay 15, 2004

On the streets of Iraq, truth and football are winning
Ann Clwyd
IT WAS more than a touch bizarre to be offered freshly baked brown muffins and garish yellow juice as I entered the Abu Ghraib prison on Wednesday. The new man in change, General Geoffrey Miller, freshly arrived from Guatanamo Bay, certainly did not look as poker-faced as he did on TV. Frequently peppering his introductory words with “to be frank with you”, he promised a new regime.

Karl Naylor said...


'This is a crime that defies the imagination. As Stalin is reported to have said: " One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic" (and give me Stalin over Cllyd and her like any day)Cllyd also brings to mind the phrase:' the banality of evil'.

Well, Stalin killed twenty million which makes your pretence at giving a fig for dead Iraqis as bogus as many of your other supposed convictions.

The most balanced commentator from the left on CiF is Conor Foley who has correctly made the point that Bush and Blair do have questions to answer at a tribunal.I know Neil Clark and he are not best friends but this is about trying to be objective instead of basing politics onthe rationalisation of neurotic impulses.

Yet as Jock here shows there is a sinister tendency on the left which Orwell knew was doublethink: that New Labour is condemned for launching a war that has lead to a million deaths means that democracy is a sham and therefore totalitarian sysyems can be somehow made more respectable by default.

The disgrace of the Iraq War showed deficiencies in Britih democracy which means it is badly in need of reform. But many on the 'anti-war' left are not always anti-war and apologise for any highly militarised regime that kills and murders so long as it is just anti-US.

Neil Clark is right to make the case for a left-right anti-war coalition so long as it is understood that it must be concerned with restoring liberal democracy in Britain from those who espouse it but don't, in fact, practice it.

What concerns me is that 'anti-war' movements are being hijacked by those skilled at political choreography in the Commnist totalitarian tradition and for whom all wars are wrong ONLY if they are 'imperialist' ie Western. Sinister ideologues such as Andrew Murray and the odious Galloway are in thrall to any political religion that opposes Britain in toto.

All vicious regimes and the trend towards authoriarian militarism must be repudiated. In Britain we traditionally had a strong anti-militarist tradition but this seems to have been perverted into a belief that other states can murder with impunity and all evil comes from prior foreign policy activity by Britain and the UK.

With regards Tariq Aziz putting him on trial is a politicised version of 'justice'. Saddams' trial was a disgrace because he should have been tried outside Iraq. Then some unpleasant facts about US collusion with him might have hit the headlines.

The trial of any leaders of regimes that committ crimes against humanity are always going to be portrayed as 'victors justice'. the Nuremburg precedent itself is flawed. the Soviet participants were war criminals themselves. Remembering that Poland was not just invaded by Nazi Germany but also by the Soviet Union which murdered 25,000 Polish reserve officers at Katyn.

International law is evolving all the time. The subject is very complex but certainly Blair and 'humanitarian interventionists' have a very selective way of finding loopholes and ways of claiming that going around international laws is necessary to preserve the writ of international law. A bit Orwellian.

I can't agrre with Neil on Kosovo, though I was against military intervention there too for the simple reason that both sides, Serbian and Albanian nationalists wee no better than each other. Also I think the humanitarian rhetoric was at one level genuine enough but nothing more than a blam for those who are both impatient and want Utopian solutions to incredibly complex problems.

That was evident in Kosovo where the intervention might have helped bring down Milosevic but actually made the situation on the ground worse. NATO wanted 'closure' on the issue and by seeig Serbia as uniquely malign NATO and its commissars were able to rationalise a complex problem into a simple and easy belief that by getting regime change in Belgrade the the problem of ethnic nationalism would go away.

It did not and the mutual hatreds and resentments are still burning away in Kosovo where the declararion of independence has created a dangerous destabilising precedent and a belief that is often justified that the USA only supports the national self determination that suits its geopolitical interests. Otherwise why no independence for South Ossetia.

The best commmentators on these issues are Anatol Lieven ( who Neil sourced last week ) and John Gray.Has Neil read Black Mass ?

Gabriele said...

Well done Neil!

It seems Ann Clwyd is known in Iraq as Mrs Talabani. To know more read here:

An open Letter to Ann Clwyd MP
The Iraq Solidarity Campaign

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for Karl, I think!

My discomfort in witnessing the discussion is precisely the asymmetry Karl discerns: that the only human rights failure here is the catastrophic invasion of Iraq; but Tariq Azis was not, under any definition, a nice man. He participated in a regime that was nasty, brutal and too long lived; and, that colluded in a disastrous sanctions policy to shore up its own power and deny its citizens access to their basic rights.

If we genuinely believe either in liberal or social democracy (and the two ought to be compatable), we should bear witness against all regimes that fall short of that standard - whether from the right or left.

Jock McTrousers said...

Karl - the only thing I can agree with you on is that Anatol Lieven is very good ( I've read his book on Chechnya). I would be surprised if you could give me a reference to anywhere in his writings where he claimed that Stalin killed 20M. Where do you get that figure? Not even Robert Conquest argues that, and no-one takes him seriously now anyway. Are you a Trotskyist (i.e. MI5) If you can't bring yourself to read J. Arch Getty's 'the Road to Terror' (it IS quite formidable), then please have a look at this web page, a succinct summary of the findings of Getty et al:


Neil Clark said...

thanks to all who have commented.

jock: "Cllyd also brings to mind the phrase:' the banality of evil'.

charlie- I totally agree.

first anonymous- if you're looking for inconsistencies re capital punishment, what about those who would oppose the execution of a convicted child murderer like Ian Huntley on 'humanitarian' grounds, but who happily support illegal wars of agression which leave hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead?

second anonymous: great link.

karl: "The disgrace of the Iraq War showed deficiencies in Britih democracy which means it is badly in need of reform." I couldn't agree more.

Re Kosovo you write:
"Also I think the humanitarian rhetoric was at one level genuine enough but nothing more than a blam for those who are both impatient and want Utopian solutions to incredibly complex problems."

The 'humanitarian rhetoric' was not 'genuine enough' but a smokescreen for an old fashioned imperialistic land and resources grab.

gabriele: thanks for the link.

jolies: "He (Aziz) participated in a regime that was nasty, brutal and too long lived" -but don't forget that when the regime was at its nastiest and most brutal it was backed by the US.
I've always argued that we need more democracy, not less- but genuine democracy, not of the current Henry Ford 'you can vote for any party you like so long as it's neoliberal' variety.

karl & jock- i think we all agree that anatol lieven is very good!

Karl Naylor said...


Stalin boasted to Churchill that it was about 10 million and Conquest estimated about 20 million if one includes not just the Great Terror from 1936 to 1938 but the victims of the entire system from the moment it was created.

Stalin was the natural inheritor of a Soviet system founded on terror and coercion. The Ukrainian Terror famine killed millions. So too did the Gulag kill on a colossal scale. It was also wholly intentional, premeditated and rationalised as part of 'progress'.

There is no doubt about this now, though the figures can be quibbled with.

Certainly, I'm not a Trotskyist, though it is interesting how neoconservatism and radical interventionists such as Christopher Hitchens admire Trotsky despite the fact he was little more than a sophisticated political gangster.

My political position might be defined as 'Tory anarchist' and represents an older strain of political thinking within the conservative tradition which is opposed to rationalism in politics and Utopian schemes to remodel humanity.

The blend of realpolitik and Utopian optimism complement each other in the neocon worldview because, as can be seen from the help given to Islamists in Yugoslavia and the constant funding of them by the CIA and MI6 no less than the thuggish KLA. The means justifies the end which is remodelling the world according to one neoliberal system.

The means chosen can be amoral because nobody will remember the dead if 'humanitarian wars' are 'successful' and result in all the old parts of Yugoslavia having Starbucks and McDonalds. The doltish Tom Friedman is the worst exponent of this retarded political vision.

'Its what the people really want even if they don't know it. Wars and ethnic nationalism happen because they don't have consumerism or Lexus cars etc etc'

The idea that you can bomb recalcitrant nations into Utopia and replace ANY sense of national belonging with a phoney non-culture of consumerism which stop people thinking about politics and which is left to the benevolent guardians of power. New Labour demonstrates that patronising attitude that people must be driven to happiness whether they lie it or not because they know what is best for the children.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jock, it is a formidable summary but you fail to bring our attention to the exclusions: e.g. the Ukranian famine, deportations of populations (Tartars, Chechens, Volga Germans), actions relating to the seizure of half of Poland and the Baltic States in 1940, and of Eastern Europe in 1945. Nor, of course, do you seem to recognise that each and everyone of these statistics is a person, swept away not by an attempt to build utopia (though that was the collective fantasy) but by the cynical manipulations of a man obsessed with his own power.

Karl Naylor said...

I've written something on Clywd and Kamm on my blogsite. People may wish to take a peep.


Re Kosovo.I think humanitarian reasons were a smokescreen for some but not to liberal internationalists such as Ignatieff who was genuine enough.

Even Blair believed in it as such people as John Gray points out in Black Mass colluded in creating a 'pseudo reality' or as those fellow travellers of Soviet Communism once did believe they are 'lying for the ultimate truth'.

The break up of state control was not a plot hatched from the beginning but part of the neoliberal Utopianism through benign 'market forces' which was to be hastened by the use of force.

Sometimes people believe that the alliance of humanitarian intent and self interest can co-exist perfectly harmoniously even when it is clear that they are motivated by dogmatic zeal and appalling arrogance and self righteousness.

That's my take on Blair and Clwyd. They are fanatics and wedded to finding the truths that fit their agenda and anything that does not fit in with it is to be screened from perception.

Dissimulation is not the exact same as blatant lying.

Jock McTrousers said...

" Stalin was the natural inheritor of a Soviet system founded on terror and coercion."

I totally agree; and he was also a principal architect of it - Trotskyists downplay this, in line with Trotsky's pretence that there was a socialist paradise(largely his creation) corrupted by the evil genius Stalin. The soviet system had next to no democratic element in it ever, from the word go. But, at any point, the leaders could have enriched themselves enormously by selling out to international capital; no doubt they were constrained by whatever alliances they had to make to maintain power, but this suggests that there were large elements among the communists who were, at least, patriotic nationalists, and the legacy of universal education, healthcare, employment and housing is evidence that there were also elements genuinely concerned with the welfare of the people. The period of Stalin's dominance was essentially a huge war effort, however, and, if there is an excuse (which doesn't make it right or just) for whatever Stalin and co did (and the best authorities maintain no certainty on that score), that is it. There is no possible excuse for Blair; what he did is known for certain, and so is his reason for doing it - money, to get on the American lecture circuit.

" The Ukrainian Terror famine killed millions. So too did the Gulag kill on a colossal scale. It was also wholly intentional... "

The best authorities currently reject the attribution of intentionality re the famine. See the Mark Tauger's 'the Carl Beck papers', here:
and read the reviews of Davies and Wheatcroft's ' The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture, 1931-1933 (The Industrialization of Soviet Russia)' at:

As to the questions of scale and intentionality re gulag deaths, see the link I gave to the summary of Getty & co's findings , again at:

"you fail to bring our attention to the exclusions: e.g. the Ukranian famine, deportations of populations (Tartars, Chechens, Volga Germans),"

Getty DOES deal with this - read the summary again.

Again, it's possible, just, to say that Stalin and co did what they did, no matter how brutal, for the survival or the Soviet peoples. There's no possible excuse for Blair.

Anonymous said...

It all started when a "miranda" was caught red handed cottaging in a public toilet in 1983, and then recruited by the special services after an antony charles lynton blair was let off with a slap on the wrists. All these blair babes,WMDs,etc are now history, what matters is we have to prevent the welsh rarebit with his cheese sandwich Pfizer gravitas, from inflicting more of the same upon us.