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Posted Sunday, April 25, 2004

President Bush believes in bringing back the coffins of the soldiers who have died for him by the hundred, in secrecy, at dead of night, in the airborne equivalent of a Waste Management truck.

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April 25, 2004 (Sunday)
Key West

BACK to London in a few days' time. Work here is complete. The Labor Day Cincinnati event is well in hand, and I shall speak in fifteen or more towns in the eastern United States in June. Before that, England calls, and I shall speak in a dozen towns during the second half of May.

LipstadtFirst I have a court action to pursue against US scholar Deborah Lipstadt (left). She has demanded that the British government's Trustees turn all of my seized possessions over to her. Since she has already illegally posted on her university website thousands of pages of my privileged materials, provided as evidence during the trial in 2000, including personal letters and pages from my diaries, it is plain why she wants to get her hands on the rest of it -- that, and the desire to stop me completing my life's writing projects.

One wonders why Lipstadt and the agencies funding her should have such a fervent interest in stopping me writing the real history of World War II. Not. The battle is draining my cash reserves, and I have a small family to raise, but I have friends too.

I now do most of the writing on the final volume of "Churchill's War", (vol. iii: "The Sundered Dream") in the afternoon and evening, as soon as the fierce midday sun has moved off the surface of my table. At least here I have a table. In London, the Trustees unhelpfully took away my only desk, my only table, and my only chairs, when they seized my property in May 2000: "We are always called in for high profile political cases like this," they had advised me a month earlier.

Deborah LipstadtGeorge Bush
Similarities: Both announced the end of Major Combat Operations. Both were wrong.


A FRIEND in Finland this morning sends me an item by Paul Robinson which one is presumably allowed to quote: "Extremism in the defence of liberty." He says that some well-respected hawks are threatening civilisation by advocating terror tactics in the "war on terror."

"The more often these views are expressed as normal, the less opposition they seem to generate. A journalist who attended a meeting at which Dershowitz suggested legalising torture noted that the really shocking thing was that not one person in the audience replied that it might be wrong.

"Even in this country [the UK], some no longer consider such views unacceptable. Respectable universities would think twice before inviting someone like David Irving to speak, but Oxford, London and others welcome Professor Kamm to spread her views that it is fine to 'terror-kill' the innocent as long as you 'have the capacity to harm them as badly in some other way or for some other reason'. The boundaries of respectability have rarely seemed so fragile."

Yes, the universities are not what they were. I shall be speaking at the University of Denver this September, but that is a rarity. I receive many invitations from universities to speak, but seldom do they result in my actually getting before the student audience. I think Cork, in southern Ireland, was the most recent: I got within one hundred yards of the university before the authorities decided it was too dangerous to proceed. Busloads of the traditional enemies of free speech, from all over Ireland, had descended on the city to prevent me, and one thousand of them were packed into that final hundred-yard stretch. So I must be doing something right.

I was invited four times in 2000 and 2001 to speak to the University of Oxford's famous Union. Four times the invitation was canceled, latterly at the university's insistence, because the police said they could not protect the building (from the same traditional enemies).

Still the students persisted in the desire to hear my case. Finally the General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers, announced there would be a global boycott imposed on the university if the Union did not cancel my invitation. I will not call him a skunk, for fear of being accused of anti-skunkism. British? Perhaps. English? Not. This most traditional of enemies, David Triesman, later became head of the Trades Union Congress, and is now in some international position or other.


LIPSTADT's counsel, the not incapable Richard Rampton QC, asked me during the Lipstadt trial what I mean by patriotism (which I offered as an alternative to their own accusation of "racism"). I said that one possible definition of patriotism was the duty to respect and preserve what one had inherited from ones ancestors.

Prof Harry IrvingI have spent a couple of days, while clearing up down here, thinking about England, and pondering on my ancestors, and the duty that patriotism imposes. My brother -- who is chairman of the Council for Racial Equality in Wiltshire -- has recently inherited the papers and pictures of our father's younger brother Harry (right), who was a famous Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the universities of Oxford, then Leeds, and then Capetown; he seems to have been a bit of a Lefty, and why not? I fear I am slewing that way myself.

To my surprise he earned a half page obituary in The Daily Telegraph. He was the earnest and learned one; my father was the adventurer, author, warrior, explorer, and scamp. A remote bay in the South Sandwich Islands is named after him.

I have now compiled these dusty photos into a gallery, and learned things about their father, my grandfather, that I ought to have known a long time ago.

at deskHe was a schoolteacher, and one can wish for no better grandfather than that. He was headmaster of a famous school at Oxford for forty years, and died aged 62. The obituaries reported that he had taught thousands of boys during that period, and was

"admired and respected by the thousands of boys who have passed through his hands."

Now that is an epitaph one can honourably strive all ones life to achieve. It recalls the last harrowing line of the movie, Goodbye Mr Chips: The retiring headmaster is shuffling down the cloisters for the last time, and hears someone remark, "What a pity he never had any children." "Children?" exclaims Mr Chips quietly. " Children? I've had thousands of them."

And there he is, suddenly before my eyes, a faded, brown photograph of a schoolmaster, writing at his desk; and pictures of him with a mortarboard on his head. Hello Mr Chips: My grandfather, and I never knew you.


AS for the English, how much longer will they tolerate their prime minister toadying up to the Texan Terminator in the White House? Alas, the coming presidential election looks like a shoe-in for George Bush, because his opponent's warship is now leaking at every seam and rivet. Hats off to the Republicans for having somehow manoeuvred this loser into the Democratic slot. In Vietnam, against Vietnam, for Iraq, against Iraq, against the killing of civilians, but for the killing of unborn babies … there is a dread consistency about his inconsistencies.

The case on Iraq is simple, if you stand back far enough from the CNN and Fox News screens, and gather up your own thoughts. The soldiers of the United States -- many of whom I came to know and admire when I spoke to audiences of them in Frankfurt and southern Germany -- were tricked into launching an unprovoked attack on a sovereign country.

Once again, as were the British in 1939, a great and civilised country's foreign policy has been hijacked and manipulated by invisible immigrants with an agenda of their own.

In Iraq, the casus belli was the existence of sinister and mysterious weapons, never closely defined or described, which, it was implied, could target Britain, or British bases, if not cities in the United States themselves ("ready within 45 minutes"). Countless lives, and billions of dollars of damage and costs later, this cause turns out to have been totally untrue.

The only lame excuse offered so far is that Saddam Hussein did not make it plain that he had not got The Weapons. Try that one on The Judge: "Okay, so I was wrong. I smashed the guy's door down, shot his old lady and the kids, and broke his arms until he opened the safe box. It's not my fault it was empty. Innocent, Your Honour!"

A decent prime minister, one for whom I would vote -- or an honest president, who would get my vote if I were an American citizen -- would now do the decent thing: admit the error, pull out the armed forces, apologise, mop up, and offer to compensate for all the misery, damage, and suffering that has been inflicted on an innocent nation. That is what would happen in village-level politics, and the greater would be the respect for the man who has the Christian integrity to recognize a mistake and retract.

What I see now happening, if I screw up my eyes and stand far enough back from the TV screens, is the great American economy, the powerhouse of the world's welfare, being slowly dragged into ruin by this war; just as that great president Ronald Reagan, and his CIA chief William Casey brought down the mighty Soviet Union by forcing it into an arms race it could not afford.

The US economy cannot afford the Iraq war as it is currently enlarging. Bush is not going to get other countries to bail him out of his mess, any more than -- what a surprise that was to the Pentagon! -- his army could persuade Iraqis to go and kill other Iraqis for them either.

Fallujah shows the Americans at their level worst. US forces have become accustomed to zapping people-shapes at a safe and extreme range, like a video arcade game. Video machines can't hit back. Street fighting, urban warfare, is different, as Adolf Hitler could have told them. "Avoid Voronezh," he told his generals in August 1942. "Don't get sucked into street battles."

Willing to wound but afraid to strike, eternally the mark of the bully. I predict that

  • we will hear much more about the opposing Iraqi "terror gangs" using ambulances, mosques, and hospitals to conceal weapons and equipment -- guess why!
  • the much-trumpeted big push into the streets of Fallujah will start after the end of April, so that the US-Marine death statistics will fall in the next month's figures. April's are already the highest in the campaign.

Each US Marine's death is then avenged in American eyes, thanks to the newsreaders, by the deaths of multiple numbers of Iraqi "terrorists". The president then bleats about al-Jazeerah television showing pictures of the bodies of the Iraqi women and children, stacked up in hospital corridors, wrapped in blankets and sheets. Meanwhile Ariel Sharon waddles furtively in and out of the White House, and the global community professes astonishment that anti-Semitism is once more on the rise.

US troops: Coming home, feet first

coming home, feet first GEORGE BUSH has also complained about the "illegal" pictures now published of the flag-draped coffins of US soldiers coming home.

The British Army traditionally always buried its dead in the theatre of battle; that has now changed. Americans too are brought home, but they are carried off the planes feet first, as the poor GI traditionally "keeps on marching."

President Bush now admits to the American public that to "respect the privacy" of the grieving families, whose names are now legion, he had repeated his father's veto on the showing of pictures of the soldiers' coffins.

That excuse carries as much weight as his original claims about the weapons of mass destruction, the uranium from Niger, Saddam's "nucular" plans, the mobile chemical weapons laboratories, and all the other bellicose guff that he has spewed out to justify what is, in simple terms, a war crime.

Parading the coffin is historically the last mark of respect for a warrior; John F Kennedy's was paraded on a gun-carriage down Pennsylvania Avenue, in 1963; two years later, Winston Churchill's was paraded down the Thames in a navy launch, while millions lined the river banks.

My father's casket, wrapped in the British flag -- as a navy lieutenant he fought at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 -- was borne in a hearse through the streets and lanes of Wales in the summer of 1967, and I saw a British village policeman snap to attention and salute as it passed by, an unforgettable moment in my life.

At the end of my book on the Nuremberg Trials, I quote the last letter written by a German general to his wife, since he had the privilege, unlike most soldiers, of knowing the precise day and hour when he was to die. He bade her to listen to the clock on the St Lawrence cathedral at Nuremberg, chiming the hour. "When the hour strikes," he wrote, "all my friends will be gathered around you. Alfred JodlOn a gun-carriage rests my coffin, and all the Germans soldiers are marching in procession -- out in front the fallen, with the living bringing up the rear."

He was Alfred Jodl, left, about to be executed by an American army hangman for his part in launching an unprovoked war against sovereign countries.

The President of the United States, George W Bush believes in bringing back the coffins of the soldiers who have died for him by the hundred, in secrecy, at dead of night, in the airborne equivalent of a Waste Management truck. That is the picture that he did not want his voters to see. I would like to think that sometimes he and Tony Blair lie awake at night, ashamed of what they have done.


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© Focal Point 2004 F DISmall David Irving