International: March 2009 Archives

Withdrawal method.

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havesomeliberty.jpgThe BBC had a misleadingly promising headline today - "UK troops begin Iraqi withdrawal". I assumed they were handing over to local people, but no, they're handing over to the Americans. 

Glad as I am to see British involvement diminishing at last, will this actually feel any different to those occupied in Southern Iraq? Reuters suggest the Americans may be even less popular because of their "fearsome, and sometimes trigger-happy, reputation".

Trust the public.

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climateprotestaustralia.jpgHowever engaging the polling figures are on the ups and downs of the Tory lead over Labour (wait a minute, there's one guy holding both puppets!), ComRes in today's IoS has a more interesting stat for environmentalists.

83% of those polled said they were "ready to make significant changes to the way I live to help prevent global warming or climate change", actually slightly up since the start of global financial meltdown.

A recent Yale and George Mason survey in the States also came up with some eye-catching numbers on this issue. 69% of Americans said the US should sign up to an international treaty designed to reduce emissions by 90% by 2050. 

What's more, it's not just "we'll do it if everyone else does": the same survey shows 67% of Americans saying they should reduce their emissions regardless of what other countries do, with just 4% hardcore climate change deniers supporting no emissions reductions at all.

That 90% by 2050 figure is so radical that in this country only the Scottish Green Party and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research back it, incidentally. Next time the SNP, Labour or the Liberals tell you they back radical action on climate change, tell them even the much-judged average American is ahead of them.

Same as it ever was.

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shoeing.jpgDuring the runup to the Iraq war, the Bush White House used a clever (for them) line during the protests. See, they said, see how free you are here in America, because we're a democracy. Those poor Iraqis, if they tried to protest they'd be locked up, tortured and all the rest by that evil Saddam. 

Here's just one example: "People in the United States, unlike Iraq, are free to protest and to make their case known."

It was a clever line even though protesters in the States regularly get arrested or imprisoned, sometimes for campaigns I agree with, sometimes for other campaigns, and even though the US did indeed regularly torture people. It felt more true than it was, relatively true, because Saddam was indeed such a monster.

But what's replaced him? A corrupt despotism, a puppet regime which the UN says has committed more torture than its predecessor, a banana-free republic which has just jailed shoe-throwing journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi for three years. Peter Mandelson must be jealous. 

Whatever the Bush-Blair invasion was about, it's clear it wasn't to make an Iraq free for political protests. And how does that sentence compare with others recently issued? Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam's key goons, just got fifteen years for ordering the killing of forty-two people

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the International category from March 2009.

International: February 2009 is the previous archive.

International: April 2009 is the next archive.