Gordon Brown’s praise of Joe Biden is no surprise given their bloody history

Joe Biden, Gordon Brown
Jasmine Norden

Gordon Brown has said he believes Joe Biden to be a friend of the UK, bringing to mind the role both of them played in the Iraq war.

Discussing Biden on Radio 4, Brown said there could be a trade deal between the US and UK in the long-term. He went on to discuss Biden cooperating internationally as he works on security, the environment and health.

Brown said:

Joe Biden has always been a great friend of Great Britain.

I think he wants to be a friend of Britain. I think he plans, from what I know, to come to Britain within the first six months of becoming president, probably to the G7.

How UK-US trade relations will progress remains to be seen. But Brown’s comments renew scrutiny of both men’s involvement in the Iraq war.

More than a vote for war

In 2002, Joe Biden was chair of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. As chair, he selected witnesses for the senate hearings that would eventually lead to the backing of Bush’s invasion.

Many of these witnesses advocated for the war. They claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Al-Qaeda was allowed free movement around the country.

As is well known now, both of these claims were untrue. Despite this, the committee voted to authorise invading Iraq on the back of these hearings.

At the time, Biden said:

I do not believe this is a rush to war… I believe it is a march to peace and security.

‘War could not be justified’

As chancellor, Gordon Brown was responsible for signing off on the financing of the Iraq war. He expressed sorrow over the deaths it caused, but has yet to admit any guilt.

He claimed in his 2017 book that the US did not inform the UK government of reports Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Brown then wrote the invasion “cannot now be seen as a proportionate response” with that knowledge.

Dr Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector, oversaw hundreds of inspections from 2002 to 2003 in Iraq. His team found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. In 2010, he said that more inspections might have stopped the UK’s involvement in the war.

A war to answer for

Despite the half a million deaths and economic devastation, neither Biden or Brown have accepted guilt for the Iraq war.

As Biden enters the White House, any ‘friendship’ between the UK and the US must acknowledge their mutual mistakes.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Flickr/Gage Skidmore

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  • Show Comments
    1. This is the man who prides himself on his intelligence and once claimed he’d saved the world. Taken in by the amateurish bollox that justified a war that every subsequent generation of the 21st century will pay the price for. I wonder which woodwork he resides in when not required to utter his platitudes to us peasants?

    2. Just read Craig Murrey today and given Brown and Biden’s actions (and perhaps the UK’s ‘protectorate’ status as part of US empire): “The United Kingdom is a rogue state. It invaded Iraq in a blatantly illegal war of aggression, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands, displacing millions and setting the economic development of the country back 50 years. It significantly contributed to the similar destruction of Libya. It has brazenly defied the United Nations General Assembly and the International Court of Justice in refusing to decolonise the Chagos Islands. It is passing legislation to grant its soldiers immunity from war crimes charges and its secret service officers and agents immunity for murder and torture. To hand Trident missiles, and the capacity to unleash the destruction of the human race, over to the control of this erratic, declining imperial construct would be grossly irresponsible.” This relates to Scotland’s independence issue.

    3. I think that there was a moral case for ending Saddam’s evil tyranny. I am old enough to remember the gas attacks on Kurdish villages by ‘Chemical Ali’ – just one of thousands of atrocities committed by Saddam or the Baathists that no decent person could ignore. I think the West should have supported regime change by a broad coalition of Iraqis which would replace the Baathist One Party Dictatorship with a democracy that protected the rights of minorities, prevented sectarian conflict, prevented corruption, started to rebuild society, civic freedoms, improved the economy, ended sanctions, given Iraqis a decent quality of life in a wealthy nation with all the cultural richness and dignity of heirs to an ancient civilisation. Let’s call that Plan A.

      I think there was quite wide support for Plan A around the globe, amongst ex-pat Iraqis in exile, and amongst Iraqs still living in Iraq and dealing with the tyranny on a daily basis. But the problem was finding a legal basis for action as international law frowns upon nations invading each other without very specific limited legal causes (and just good-heartedly saving people from oppression is not recognised as such a cause – clearly victims of tyranny did not write the rules).

      What Bush/Blair came up with initially was presented as a way to achieve Plan A but it failed to convince many in the EU, UN and across the globe. Bush/Blair tried to ‘sex up’ the evidence and fabricated stuff about WMDs. Every time their lies failed, they just made up bigger lies. They went down a rabbit hole. In the mess of compromise and ‘mission drift’ and the corruption of any lie that gets us what we want will do, what eventually emerged was not Plan A or the legal pretext for it but a completely different plan. This was Plan B – gone was all idea of Iraqi-led action, gone was UN-led action, it became unilateral US/UK swashbuckle gunboat adventurism. That Plan B was cooked up with fakery about WMDs and other lies. It was twisted and mutated with other added-on goals and adventures (one important factor being using Iran as another laboratory for playing out ‘disaster capitalism’ or imposing Western values as a top-down transplant onto a non-Western subject). After everyone had piled on his or her own bucket-list we were at Plan Z and had not even fired a shot in anger. None of the plans after Plan A had any kind of ‘end game’ built into it. The whole corrupt and reckless mess was all about profiteering and damn the consequences (like the earlier disaster capitalism playgrounds such as Russia or the later ones such as Brexit).

      If the UN had been less intransigent, could we have saved Plan A? Or should US/UK take all the blame for refusing to accept no as the answer? Once greed for oil replaced humanitarianism and justice for Iraqis, could there ever have been a good plan?

      Personally, I supported Plan A. I never heard a coherent account of Plans B – Z and was never asked if I supported them or not. When criticising who did what with respect to the wars in Iraq, you have to be very surgical and specify exactly which plan you think someone was responsible for, and whether they were culpable for supporting it. I am unapologetic in my support for getting rid of Saddam, in my support for Plan A. I have no responsibility for the utter shambles which was Plan B – Z.

      Exactly what plan did Biden support? I have no idea. Maybe he thought he was supporting Plan A and missed the sleight of hand that switched Plan A with some heap of crap invented by a corrupt crackpot to cover over and excuse the corrupt and reckless profiteering carcrash that was Plan N or Q or F or god knows?

      Frankly, you had to have a million eyes in the back of your head, a thousand arms, never sleep, be in several continents simultaeously and even then you’d have no idea what the hell was going on. I was there. I know. Those armchair experts who never burned midnight oil on planning anything more complex than a piss up in a brewery have no idea what happened or how impossible it is to control something once it runs away from you and gets manipulated by a thousand others who all add their bit to the mix. Life is never that simple.

      And the risk of unexpected consequences is why Trump screwing around with stuff right now is not just Trump being petty – it is potentially fucking dangerous, like a naked flame in a powder store. Enough cooks spoiling the broth and a bit of grandstanding or posturing or being childish can blow up to a full-scale disaster. You go from trying to save people from tyranny to installing a corrupt puppet state kleptocracy and opening the doors to a Baathist return under a shallow rebranding as ISIS.

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