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
25, 2004 (Sunday)
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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
gallery, and learned things about their father,
that I ought to have known a long time ago.
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
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
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
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
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.
troops: 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
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. On
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
He was Alfred Jodl, left, about to
be executed by an American army hangman for his
part in launching an unprovoked war against
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