The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

There was a light covering of snow on the roof and garden when I opened the blinds first thing this morning. The skies were clear and we even had a brief spell of sunshine before the cloud rolled in.

It is Monday, and for Hamilton, that means laundry duties, then a quick dicht over the carpets with the Hover, before going off to Aldi. A bit of a trail in this weather but buying the same goods in Market Street, would cost me twice as much so when I need a big shop I make the journey, normally on my bike but not today, today it would shanks pony.

I wore my woolie poolie, under my anorak, it is hand knitted in double wool, blue in colour with a cable pattern, Irene, even in death, is still looking after me, keeping me warm in these cold days of winter.

20 years on.

2021 is an anniversary that few in the media will mark and the UK government will certainly not wish to celebrate or even acknowledge.

2021 – twenty years on and the death rate in Afghanistan still hovers around 10,000 per year. Once the sworn enemies of the West, the Taliban are now in negotiation with the government, yet the war drags on. Thousands of Afghan refugees from the conflict suffer abuse and humiliation all over the world.

20 years ago Jon Simpson (BBC foreign correspondent)

Rolled into Kabau on a tank, and the Taliban and its supporters fled. Yet 20 years on the Taliban controls large sections of the country and is involved in peace negotiations, Islamic State has grown as a force in Afghanistan, the US maintains a military presence there despite repeated promises that it will withdraw and most importantly the population lives in one of the most dangerous and poorest countries in the world, where many can only secure a living by cultivating heroin for sale in the West.

It is impossible to list here the balance sheet of the wars and occupation. But it is worth noting that over a million Iraquis are estimated to have died, millions have been displaced internally and externally as refugees. Islamic State was incubated in US and UK occupied Iraq and controlled parts of the country. Civil society was destroyed and Iraqis live in constant danger. According to Amnesty International, 1.55 million people remain internally displaced, and there are widespread human rights abuses.

The Chilcot report of 2021 found that Blair had lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, yet I still see him doing the rounds of television studios, and chat shows, playing the part of a voice of authority on foreign policy matters, there is no accountability for his actions.

Both here and in the US regarding the crimes committed during the action in Iraq, are contestable to say the least. One of Donald Trump’s last acts as president was to pardon four Blackwater security guards who killed Iraqi civilians in a 2007 Baghdad massacre.

Here the British government has introduced legislation (the Overseas Operations Act) to limit prosecution for alleged war crimes.

The International Criminal court has said it will not continue to scrutinise cases of Alleged British war crimes in Iraq despite concerns and preliminary finding that they had taken place.

In reality, recent wars were not noble crusades against ‘fascism’ but brutal attempts at regime change. The superior firepower of both the US and the UK simply outgunned, and succeed in overthrowing existing governments. Alas, their imperialistic wars and occupation proved totally incapable of building the better societies they had promised. The opposite is true.

Endless continuing conflict, widespread displacement, human rights abuses and often very large nimbers of civilian casualties as well as refugees. Many societies will not recover from the consequences of being “SAVED” by the West for generations, if ever.

Sorry Sir, Not in my Name.

Stay safe.

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