They Will Burn In Their Tanks


There’s been a silence, I realize. From me. At an odd moment in our history. I’ll try to explain. I’ve been disguised as gas man Mohamed Al Saeef, famous Information Minister, these last two weeks……. .. We’ve been working really hard here for months trying to get The Book together. Correlating it all has been a project bigger than anything I’ve ever taken on before. We are of course trying to get it ready for the Autumn tour, but it’s touch and go. There is still plenty to do. Some photos and documents are late and others just won’t get here in time. The process has long since revolved around what’s going to be left out. Please, don’t tell me… All the records and songs are in the book, together with photos and commentaries on their inspirations and histories. Many are also explained. The book will be approx 320 pages, hardback, 270mmX230mm. Other than that, I’ll reserve all further comment until such time as we know it’s actually on it’s way. In the meantime, back to the present…

‘NO ONE but the bush administration and their Big Oil allies/accomplices — not the Taliban, not the Palestinians, not ANY other nation whether Islamic or otherwise — not any other group, agency, force or faction on Earth stood to “GAIN” from the destruction of the World Trade Center which occurred only ONE MONTH after talks between the Bush administration and the Taliban fell apart due to outrageous threats and intimidation by Bush/Big Oil “negotiators.”’ (over the construction of oil pipelines through Afghanistan).. Statements like this one, from well-researched information, litter the journals of the information age.

That this war is not about oil is laughable. The US was very willing to have The Taliban control Afghanistan until it became obvious that the Taliban were not going to play ball with regard to the proposed pipeline carrying oil through Afghanistan. So, in a nutshell, the USA was willing to turn a blind eye to one of the most repressive regimes the world has ever known, so long as it could get the pipeline built. Guess what? It’s over a year since they/we blasted The Taliban out of the water.. and the pipeline is underway. What a co-incidence.

That the cowboys have beaten the indians again goes without saying. The technologies were even further apart this time. They wouldn’t have given you any odds at all on Iraq in Ladbrokes. But the winning of the war will be the easy bit.

I’m truly deeply disgusted. That a British Labour government could enable an ultra right wing conservative foreign regime to achieve it’s arrogant ends in the face of world opposition is beyond me.

What they’ve done is to bring the whole of due process into disrepute. When it comes to doing things within existing international law, nobody with any integrity is going to take the west, and particularly the members of this illicit cowpoke cabal seriously ever again. Not in my lifetime. What they’ve embarked on is way beyond a gamble, and it can’t even really be described as an adventure. That word would lend it some positive connotations. No, it’s just straight lunacy. To actively enrage a billion people is much more than a legacy. It’s a very negative liability for all of us. Salladin is raised from the grave, and though his wisdom may have been flawed, it may yet prove more profound than any half-baked bible belt enunciation. In fact, his bible belt geographically separates the west from the east. Some girth.

Why stick your fist into a hornet’s nest? There can only be one reason. Because you’re a blithering idiot. This goes without saying for the current US president, but for Blair to join him in this escapade only confirms my worst fears about the alleged sanity of our alleged leader. The first child killed was one too many. What the hell did they think they were doing? Did they think they could arrive in holy matrimony together at the pristine war clinic where everyone is saved? Surely they knew when they took all this on board that it would be the usual people who suffered. The children, the defenceless, the old and the sick. How deeply thoughtful of them. That they could stand by, and watch carnage.. On TV.. Because they ran out of patience. How utterly disgusting that a lot of innocent people have been murdered by them with the justification that they had to do this in order to round up some of the guilty.

We knew that when Saddam said that he’d been “Born in Iraq and I’ll die in Iraq” that he meant it, and that he was going to take a lot of people from both sides with him. We all knew that. But the tanks were on their way, the planes were already in the air and the ships were a day away from Kuwait. The lumbering giant had already taken a huge and irrevocable step, and whoever had tugged on the strings could not have deflected the stride of Gulliver The Evangelist. Lordy lord.

So here we are again, in a very sad repeat of the 12th June 1191, with different boots on all kinds of disparate feet. Peace in our time… Chips in our alcohol. Blah blah.. And a big mess will follow. So what happened to diplomacy. Which was winning. Well Dubya is forbidden by his god to indulge in anything as demeaning. Or as time consuming. After all, time is money and something which involved reason could be too dangerous. All sorts of undesirables might start to think for themselves. The faculty to be able to reason might promote even more ominous discoveries. For instance, that there’s a straightforward choice between killing and not killing. But crusaders are ‘not payed to think’, and they don’t negotiate, they just obliterate, or die.

Our brave boys and girls, who once fought an incredibly just war, now find themselves embroiled in a Northern Ireland type fiasco again. And surrounded by disaffected populations in adjoining areas. What the hell did they think they were doing? For the next 20 years.. It absolutely beggars belief. I’m a small fraction of a drop in the ocean of the internet, but lots of us were saying that it was lunacy to begin this war. Why couldn’t they hear that too sizeable a minority were against this action? That they weren’t listening to anyone is now profoundly obvious. And once the first gun is fired, no other sound can be heard. OK, so they knew what they were doing. They were going to go in very hard. There were going to be thousands killed. This isn’t Northern Ireland. It’s not as though you’re shitting on your own doorstep. No, it’s remote.. They could do exactly what they liked. Cluster bombs, assassination attempts, depleted uranium, and cultural devastation on a grand scale. City centre?.. bang.. what city centre? What reference point, what museum, what person, who’s daughter.. What memorial? No good praying afterwards kids, the damage is already done. Baghdad Disneyland will soon increase the void.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the current prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland felt himself unable to avail himself of information which had originally enabled him to achieve his present rank. He refused to refer to his grass root base, and to consequently credit an underlying current of world opinion to the effect that war should be resorted to ONLY when all other means have been exhausted; which would have enabled him to make a more informed judgement, based upon fledgling international law and what his peers were thinking. The only peer he listened to was the oil man who told him that the new weapons and propaganda would render this a short war. He went for that. More fame and glory.

Perhaps he achieved his current position because he vaguely looked like a more articulate Cliff when he first appeared on the political scene. But perhaps not. What on earth do his inner circle think of him right now? Is Gordon Brown pleased? Or disappointed? Why would Gordon be pleased then? Well perhaps the only way that Gordon could ever become Prime Minister would be in the wake of Auntie Blair’s demise. So why might he be disappointed? Mmm, there’s a lot of hanging around on street corners going on in the Cabinet at the moment then. Hoon will go down or become more invidious with the present ship, and Claire Short is in the middle of sitting on a very sharp fence, and in danger of betraying all her alleged previous ideals. Can Jack Straw survive his master? When the possible shit really hits the fan in a couple of years time?

But Prescott takes the ship’s biscuit. He marches around like a minor plenipotentiary, a late twentieth century Goering clone, with six of everything he ever fancied stuffed up his jacksie. It’s a small wonder he can still walk. And he didn’t even get the Iron Cross. It’s now clear, as of last week, that the only one among them who is prepared to be honest about the probable consequences of this war is Robin Cook. We can ask ourselves whether or not he would have resigned had he still been Foreign Secretary, but we also have to ask ourselves whether the British related international state of play would have been like it is now had he still been Foreign Secretary. Watching this all happen has been like seeing a ouija board fluke. It’s like some kind of astrological nightmare in which all the stars, planets and galaxies were aligned in a position they only reach every few thousand years. Where religious mania, money and political ambition combine to produce repression for generations. Where lessons which have seemingly been learned are betrayed for fear of having to deal with further freedoms they may bring.

When I hear Rumsfeld say, “This is a war we will win”, I might as well still be living under Pharaonic rule, 3 or 4 thousand years ago. This isn’t a war that can possibly be won, it can only be lost. In 1975, I wrote, “You may have read the signs, Beware of strange designs, For though the victors write the books, The loser speaks the lines.” At the moment when that general assertion is written into human cultural conduct and has become an unspoken ethic, it will have gone without saying that we will have understood the futility of war. But to the Rumsfelds of this world emotive poetry will always be effluent.

That the berserker regime in Washington can be so ignorant of the world outside their own is both mind boggling and seriously depressing. That Blair can write off the wisdom of his most articulate party member is only an indication of his fundamental arrogance. WE ALL KNOW DIFFERENTLY. Why the hell doesn’t our elected leader? …. (I speak of course as a British citizen.. I have to be aware that I’m living in Ireland, and that I now count myself as part of my local Irish community, but more of that in a later post).

The simple answer to the above question is that he’s been so far above needing to know anything that doesn’t shine out of the mirror for so long now that he’s forgotten all about normal intercourse. He’s clearly not been in the saloon bar for what would amount to a lifetime. During normal intercourse, you find out what the man next door is thinking about. You get to balance your view with those of others. Even the nutter has to be heard, even if it’s only with half an ear. The point is that he’s there. He’s represented in your thoughts. In Blair’s case, the local nutter has been replaced by god, Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson. During my first visit to Glencoe, which is now 37 years ago, they told me never to trust a Campbell, which was a sinister but meaningless highland joke for most of my life. After all, the only Campbell I ever knew before these last few years was Alex, who was very human. If this one sanctioned Blair’s current movements, then all that can be said of him is that he’s the spinning god of abnormal and frequent fecal evacuations.

I’m finding it extremely difficult to maintain my normal satirical commentary on all of this because it’s all increasingly less than funny. Seeing people who had homes and functions displaced on such a large scale is tragic. Most of those people never had good times and never will. Only the kids, the devious and fortunate will. Does everyone understand that? Those in their forties and beyond cannot ever hope to live in anything more than pecuniary for the rest of their lives. Can you just look into that mirror? Can you just look on and shrug your shoulders? Those people won’t see where they ‘went wrong’, because they didn’t. The fact that their leaders might have done, according to the dictates of the current version of St George’s dicky bible, is meaningless to anyone who disagrees with bombing children. The US President has given the same speech for a couple of years now. Did his ‘people’ go to war to mask his own incompetence? Were they SO embarrassed? Embarrassed into war? Or are they just plain ignorant? Now I don’t want to insult my brother, so I’ll just lay off that tack for a moment. But in the new light of the world, who is my brother? Those whose antecedents sailed from Plymouth and founded Virginia in the name of their ‘virgin’ queen? Or those who now suffer in the desert in the name of a less notable queen?

‘Now’ is the crucial word in the last sentence. History is bunk unless it can identify and address a current injustice in human affairs. From thinking that it was one of those French ‘moments’ in European history, I’ve come round very swiftly to thinking that on this occasion the French cannot fail to be absolutely right. Even given previous dodgy French involvements with Iraq, which are profuse, and traditional French financial aspirations in the area, the fact that they see it differently than do we here in the islands is only testament to the fact that we are yet isolated.

Those who govern our fates here had better start to take a little more notice of real world opinion. There are people in the world who are now keeping their heads low. People who have always had ‘faith’ in the Irish/British process. People who have studied the effects of early industrial history in the islands, and early political history in North western Europe. The ‘Tennis Court Oath’, Peterloo and The Declaration of Independence. For these students, the smiling semi-refugees by the roadside in the film footage are not in the world majority. They’re just the eternally happy people seen in the western media. The ones the propaganda cameras start to whir on as soon as they see a smile. Instant stars. If those subjugated people could capitalize on their worth at the moment of their capture on camera they’d be instantly rich. In the west they’re a hit…. But that’s about as far as it goes for those people who were ‘educated’ in the west but whose sensibilities and birthrights lie to the east. They KNOW something different than smiling for the cameras. Stuff underneath that.

For example, what about the woman who has never shown her face, and hasn’t particularly wanted to? Will the army bullies spare her? Will she be systematically and thoroughly searched? Away from the cameras. For any expression that isn’t servile. And who will be given the job of searching her expressions? Someone sensitive perhaps? But how can you know what’s being sensitive and what isn’t, when you’re culturally not in any position to know either of those extremes? As a soldier your sensibilities have got to be purely defensive. You tend to brutalise anyone until she fires a telling shot on your behalf. But even then…. they’re just wogs aren’t they? Underneath..

Dubya’s cabal have just produced another fake budget. This time they’ve asked for $77 billion, but since you could never decipher the difference between what was being requested and by whom, and what dribs and drabs eventually end up on the table, it’s a piece of arcane rubble in any case. The figures are of slight interest, if only because you get to know about the rough ball park cost. In three words, the cost is ‘lots of oil’. And the French are excluded from new post war contracts on account of their craven behaviour, the Russians on account of their recalcitrance and complicity and the Chinese because of their impending trade surpluses. All quiet on the eastern front then. The one positive note was that the (US) government was again refused permission to drill in Alaska by it’s own congress. (That’ll be saved for real emergency…. and.. not many Texans have the vote up there.)

What does a ‘just war’ constitute in2003? Here’s another question for you. Who wants to accept the death of one child as a corollary of a just war? TO WHOM is that acceptable? Well in March 2003 that became acceptable as someone failed to understand that they had to stop at a road block. You can hardly blame the trigger happy gun club cowboys, in the end they were being jobsworths, but firing serious munitions into a van load of people has to be questioned. Bloody Wednesday continues. Who the hell.. in their right minds.. would think that the USA and Britain are now not going to be justified targets for the first half of this century? In 2 words. NO ONE. And there would even be a case for turning that into one word. It’s that simple.

Whichever way you try to look at this war; if you’re honest with yourself, it’s wrong. And I’m sorry, even if I had a child fighting in it, I wouldn’t ever be able to get away from that simple fact. For the last year or two, Blair has had a revisitation of Bloody Sunday on his desk to deal with; and for the last few months has been reminded about what ‘trigger happy’ actually means for the social fabric. He obviously has as much concern for the feeling in Ireland as he has for the feeling in Amman, or The Gaza, Damascus or Jakarta. What’s happening is nothing short of complete lunacy. It so divides the world that all our hopes for the diverse global village have been completely smashed in one incredibly dishonest piece of awesome arrogance. Peace and humility have been shuffled off the international agenda for the foreseeable future. All we needed was another month or two. At the most six months. But what price 2 years of negotiation against the whole of arab youth attempting to martyr itself in the best cause it could ever have hoped for? What profound idiots we have as leaders. What shallow idiots we all are.. that we could have elected them to lead us into another lifetime of destructive relations…. Like the US version of ‘democracy’ and it’s needy attendant, globalization, can be suddenly transplanted anywhere. Like a kidney. And maintained by a standing army of the empire.

They’ll prove me wrong. They’ll fence Israel off…

I keep saying ‘fuck’ under my breath. I’m really deeply upset. This one isn’t a joke, or a game any more. The young people who are fighting and dying in this war could have been much better employed than creating martyrs to lost causes. On both sides. This is something I’ve written about in countless songs and inquiries. And hoped would never happen. That humanity would defile itself from atop it’s pyramid again. It’s no longer a question of pointing fingers at particular leader figures. We really do have to point them at ourselves. We have failed to learn again. We have infinitely failed ourselves. In circumstances like this, no one has the time to consider anyone else’s point of view because points of view are insignificant when blood is being spilt. A referee is badly needed. But is bully boy going to trust one of them, even with instant replay? The UN was the only possible referee, and she was thrown out of the stadium by bully boy before the game started.

My disgust in the coalition leadership is total. I would put them all in a padded cell for a couple of years.. With plastic spoons, fixed high chairs and flea collars. Were we really in the queue to learn this lesson for the fortieth century on the trot? Is it that much worse than a tobacco habit? Is it absolutely and finally incurable? Shit! All you need to teach is to mean it when you smile. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. How the hell can you fail to navigate that one? That can only be failed by an imbecile. Are there that many of them among us? Clearly, there are at least two in charge of whole countries.

So what’s going to happen now? The war will be declared as being won within six weeks. With endless suicide bombers waiting to be activated and Saddam elevated to a position he could never have achieved in his lifetime? About a thousand potential bombers will be rounded up and /or killed, but there’ll be enough of them left to get a little further than Martin McGuinness has managed in thirty years. Saddam’s heroic final demise will become the stuff of Arabic legend. There’ll have to be a permanent standing army of foreigners on Iraqi soil. Who’s going to pay for that? Well, sooner rather than later it’ll come out of the Iraqi purse. Iraq has a huge international debt, which will have to be paid off, of course… Because even though the Saddam regime has been regarded by the west as criminal, when he’s been removed his innocent citizenry will still be made TO PAY. To the international community of money grubbers. Of course, what the hell’s the matter with you? You mean you didn’t all read the fine print?.. already.. So.. Iraqi oil will flow into the pockets of international banks and a foreign army of occupation. So what’s the difference between that and what was happening before the war started? Will the fear factor among Iraqis be diminished? No, it’ll just have been slightly shifted from one place to another. Will the fear factor outside Iraq escalate? Yes. One religious body cannot displace millions of people belonging to it’s major rival without serious unrest and ongoing violent repercussions.

Could the ‘coalition’ do this again in Syria or North Korea. Not ever. They have shot their bolt all in one go. In order to overwhelm they have depleted a third of their armoury and all of their honour on a country which is little better than a third world estate. Methinks that North Korea will be a tougher nut to crack. And after this they’re exposed. They will not be able to run more than one hostile theatre at once. It’ll be years before they can do this again. So how are the Saudis eventually going to take to instant ‘democratization’..then? The Sudanese will be crushed in a day, but the Cubans won’t. Syria will make sure that it is onside with the UN and it’s neighbours. With one exception. The impossible Israeli obstacle. The grand imposition which has defied c.70 UN resolutions with the help and the veto of it’s alter ego, the USA. Israel, the neighbour from hell. International law will have to be read out loud to dubya, and be conducted to the letter, next time. Wolfovitz’s mouth will have to be gaffer taped.

Unless of course they want to be completely outlawed and end up on their arses. They’ve acted like a bunch of six year olds with candy put in front of them. They couldn’t resist it and now they’ve eaten the lot at one sitting. Not only are they now sick international pariahs and not to be trusted, but if they continue to feed their munitions industries, as seems more than a perceived necessity, that product, those weapons, have shelf lives and need to be turned over. An industrial cycle has been in motion for some time now, and needs to be maintained. It’s the greediest cycle in world history. It knows no bounds. Hollywood will follow in it’s wake. In the massive shadow of the world’s dodgy Police force. And ‘Embedding’ journalists with armed police force only empowers them further. The journalists end up escorting and are escorted by big brother.

How can the rest of the world deal with this? What can we do? In the encroaching darkness of the hastily passed but seriously unread Anti Terrorism Bill.. trade embargoes may become desirable, especially if China and Europe can learn to co-operate on all things from human rights to free trade. Lock the violent cops out.

Irritatingly, ‘public opinion’ is swayed to and fro by tabloid armies and vested interests. That you could change your mind about anything as unspeakably undesirable as engineering a war, even if there truly turns out to be a huge ‘smoking gun’, which is unlikely, is mind boggling. The fact that this war has gained in popularity only confirms my worst fears about people’s integrity. Either you’re misguidedly for it, because you have some kind of vested interest in it, or you’re vehemently opposed to it.. but to vacillate is to admit to being tabloid jelly.

Finally, to even attempt to mitigate that this isn’t about oil is to be profoundly dishonest. Let’s all see who gets the new business contracts in a few months time.. Judged by western ‘democracies’, The Taliban were every bit as bad as Saddam, and personally I detested them, but their politics and behaviour were completely ignored, and as previously mentioned at the beginning of this piece, even encouraged by the USA, until the fatal moment at which they wouldn’t let the oil pipeline come through Afghanistan. That decision quickly became a bigger issue than anything moral, ethical or political ever could have been. Call me a pinko if you like, but I’ll never sanction a child’s death being cited by my own race as an unavoidable collateral of the prosecution of a particular policy. What policy could that be that wasn’t in the remit of Zeus alone? And don’t open your sick mouth, I can already hear it coming. IT WAS NOBODY’S WILL EXCEPT YOURS.






FEBRUARY 12, 1998

(brief excerpts)

‘These massive infrastructure projects must be commercially competitive before the private sector and the international financial community can move forward’.

‘..we are pursuing an aggressive strategy with the regional governments. The Eurasian energy transport corridor, spanning at least six countries and disputed regions, presents complicated problems for even the most efficient governments. The number of potential players ensures that negotiations and equity structures will be enormously complicated. The United States has stressed the importance of achieving agreement on concrete project proposals among the relevant countries as early as possible. Along these lines, we have encouraged the regional governments to accelerate multilateral discussions with their neighboring States and with the private sector shippers through the establishment of national working groups. These groups have a critical role in resolving regulatory, legal, tariff, and other issues that will make the Eurasian corridor most commercially attractive.’

‘The U.S. Government’s position is that we support multiple pipelines with the exception of the southern pipeline that would transit Iran. The Unocal pipeline is among those pipelines that would receive our support under that policy.

I would caution that while we do support the project, the U.S. Government has not at this point recognized any governing regime of the transit country, one of the transit countries, Afghanistan, through which that pipeline would be routed. But we do support the project.’

‘Unocal foresees a pipeline which would become part of a regional system that will gather oil from existing pipeline infrastructure in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. The 1,040-mile long oil pipeline would extend south through Afghanistan to an export terminal that would be constructed on the Pakistan coast. This 42-inch diameter pipeline will have a shipping capacity of one million barrels of oil per day. The estimated cost of the project, which is similar in scope to the trans Alaska pipeline, is about $2.5 billion.

Given the plentiful natural gas supplies of Central Asia, our aim is to link gas resources with the nearest viable markets. This is basic for the commercial viability of any gas project. But these projects also face geopolitical challenges. Unocal and the Turkish company Koc Holding are interested in bringing competitive gas supplies to Turkey. The proposed Eurasia natural gas pipeline would transport gas from Turkmenistan directly across the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey. Of course the demarcation of the Caspian remains an issue.

Last October, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline Consortium, called CentGas, in which Unocal holds an interest, was formed to develop a gas pipeline which will link Turkmenistan’s vast Dauletabad gas field with markets in Pakistan and possibly India. The proposed 790-mile pipeline will open up new markets for this gas, traveling from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Multan in Pakistan. The proposed extension would move gas on to New Delhi, where it would connect with an existing pipeline. As with the proposed Central Asia oil pipeline, CentGas can not begin construction until an internationally recognized Afghanistan Government is in place.’

Footnote…. Less than 15% of the members of the US Congress hold passports.

Copyright 2003 Roy Harper