Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Are “Snakes in Suits” destroying our world? Lessons from Chilcot and Brexit

This blog was published by The Huff Post today. Feel free to share the link & leave a comment.

The only thing standing between me and loose women is Tony Blair. A promising career in Broadcast media, brought to an abrupt end when I accused Tony of hijacking publicity on Channel 4 news.

At the same time as I was congratulated by the editor for doing “an outstanding job”, my name was being erased from the “expert contributor list”. Number 10 (which I took to be Alistair Campbell), I was later told, had called while I was mid interview demanding that I be ejected from the studio. My criticism of Tony Blair’s handling of the Darfur genocide was, apparently, beyond the pale.

One of the greatest unspoken tragedies of the Iraq war is that Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Hilary Benn turned their backs on the first genocide this century. Resources and troops that should have been deployed as peacekeepers to prevent another Rwanda, had been expended fighting an illegal war in Iraq.

A few months ago, a young Sudanese man, fleeing the genocide in Darfur, was crushed to death by a truck in Calais. Thousands more languish in refugee camps throughout Europe. This is a direct result of Tony Blair’s failed foreign policy.

In between episodes of Benefits Britain and Can’t pay? We’ll take it away, I managed to read the entire Chilcot report into the calamitous Iraq war. There are two recurring presages that emerge in almost all post crises critiques. Group think and psychopathy. In each case, the signs that could have averted catastrophe were missed. Lessons, though documented in post-mortems, are rarely learned.

And so, as with most post disaster autopsies, such as Enron, Challenger, and the global financial crash, there it was in Chilcot’s report. Groupthink. A phenomena wherein “like minded” clones make the big decisions, excluding dissenting views and questioning voices. Every business school and leadership manual in the world warns that decisions made in this way are perilous. Chilcot exposed Blair’s cosy “sofa style” private meetings involving just a handful of unquestioning yes men, from which even members of his own cabinet were excluded.

Instead of toeing the party line, the excluded MPs should have spoken out and demanded more and better evidence. They chose not to do so. They failed to raise the alarm, putting self-interest ahead of the national interest. Sitting Labour MPs who backed Blair’s reckless war should now do the decent thing and resign.

There is a direct causal link between that war and the rise of so-called Islamic State. Many of the terrorist attacks which killed people in Europe and the US in recent years were carried out by young disenfranchised Muslims radicalised by the Iraq war and its aftermath. Of that, there can be no doubt.

The invasion, and the lies about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) used to validate it, have also undermined confidence in political leadership in the West. The Chilcot report documents in shocking detail that the political and governmental structures which planned the invasion were unworthy of public confidence.

The second theme that, although seldom articulated, is invariably evident in post disaster inquiries, is the prevalence of psychopathic leadership behaviours. Dr Robert Hare is an expert in psychopathy. He maintains that people in power tend to score higher in psychopathic dimensions than the rest of us. In his book “Snakes in suits: When psychopaths go to work”, he says psychopaths are motivated by “their own selfish desires, regardless of consequences to others”. He describes them as “superficially charming, manipulative, lying, guilt free, lacking in empathy, ruthless and unwilling to accept responsibility”.

All of these adjectives have been used to describe the behaviours of the main political players post Brexit. Having unleashed a tsunami of hate and havoc on our nation, they abandon the sinking ship without a care in the world for the traumatised souls left drowning in a sea of excrement. Not a single life boat to cling to.

Still living with the devastating consequences of the doomed Iraq invasion, this country has been thrust into yet another cataclysmic, life altering upheaval. With the same hallmarks of groupthink and remorseless psychopathy, I wonder how much more chaos and reckless abandon, this weary world can take. 

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