Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Part Two

Question Time 13th September 2001

The Panel:

Paddy Ashdown (Liberal Democrat)
Tam Dalyell (Labour)
Philip Lader (US Ambassador to London)
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Journalist)

Venue: London

In the first part of this Christmas break Question Time Review special, we began to examine a QT unwisely broadcast unedited only two days after the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In the resulting furore, Director General of the BBC Greg Dyke had to apologise to the American Ambassador, Mr Philip Lader. What was all the fuss about? Read on.

We re-join the programme with Tam Dalyell calling for dialogue with those who’d slaughtered thousands of civilians. He wanted to avoid another tragedy. Retaliation for terror means it will happen again.

Paddy Ashdown touched upon a still pertinent theme. Moving into an era of globalised power, globalised capitalism, globalised satellite broadcasting, globalised drugs, and globalised terrorism, we need to move to where power has gone and respond with globalised institutions. He yearned for globalised governance and a globalised way to tackle terrorism. No doubt Mr Ashdown would have volunteered to be one of the well-paid unelected globalised panjandrums in a global government.

Jeremy John Durham Ashdown, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, GCMG, CH, KBE, PC was born in New Delhi in 1941, spent his childhood on the family farm in Northern Ireland and was educated privately at Bedford School where his Ulster accent earned him the nickname Paddy.

After joining the Royal Marines in 1959, he rose to the rank of captain and was selected for the Special Boat Section (as then called), serving in Borneo, the Persian Gulf and Northern Ireland.

Back in civvy street, he joined the Foreign Office which, as every Puffin realises, exists for the benefit of foreigners, encouraging Mr Ashdown to become more and more enthusiastic about an unnecessary thing called the European Union.

After leaving the FO and trying his hands at few things in his wife’s native West Country, including a spell of unemployment, Mr Ashdown fell on his feet by becoming Liberal Democrat MP for Yeovilton in 1983 and rising to be party leader for an 11-year spell, being replaced by Charles Kennedy two years before 9/11.

After standing down from Parliament, Ashdown was passed over to lead the UN mission to Kosovo but was appointed High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2002. A position his detractors mocked as Viceroy for Bosnia.

In 2016, he was a vigorous and unsuccessful Remain campaigner in the Brexit referendum. His political currency sank further later in the same year when Donald Trump was elected 45th president of the United States of America.

Ennobled in 2001, Lord Ashdown died in December 2016, aged 75. A fitting epitaph can be found in a front-page headline of 6th February 1992’s Sun newspaper. A reference to his private life reads, ‘It’s Paddy Pantsdown’.

Alibiah-Brown agreed – sort of. There should be globalisation, she said, but added, everything we call globalised is in the control of (careful now) America and Europe. Applause. America has now joined the real world. The hubris of the US has to be placed into a reality; there can’t be globalisation while some countries think they’re better than everybody else.

Question three. If the Taliban do not hand over Bin Laden should the allies attack Afghanistan?

Dimbleby introduced a caveat of evidence. At the time the BBC were squeamish about mentions of the wealthy and well-connected (not least to the British Royal family) Saudi Arabian Bin Laden clan. Amongst other censorship, the BBC had cut pictures of Osama Bin Laden from American live coverage on the day of the bombings.

Tam Dalyell, said we need the agreement of Pakistan and the use of bases there. Afghanistan is difficult mountain terrain where a Soviet occupation between 1979 and 1989 came to grief. Repetition by the West would result in the killing of thousands of innocent people.

In the event, Afghanistan was invaded with the co-operation of Pakistan who were well rewarded, not least out of the foreign aid budget with crooks like President Musharraf and his cronies taking a cut.

An agitated tinged gentleman of BAME referenced a James Ruby or Reuben. A similar reference occurred in the first half of the show, with Mr Ruby / Reuben having referred to the tragic events as a conflict with the uncivilised. The gentleman continued by mentioning the destruction of the Indus Valley, presumably referring to a possibly mythical western invasion of the east in 1500 BC.

Another in the audience suggested it the responsibility of the Taliban government to hand Bin Laden over. If not, to a smattering of applause, they should suffer the consequences.

Yasmin thought the regime needed looking at. We have ignored what’s happened for a long time. We only talk about what happened in the US not what the Taliban do to their own people. She conceded force might have to be used against the Taliban, not forgetting they and Bin Laden had been supported by America during the Russian occupation.

With the next question, the BBC allowed a low punch. Nick Halpern questioned American foreign policy, given millions around the world despise America.

Ambassador Lader repeated the policy from Washington which was countries harbouring terrorists would be held to blame as well as the terrorists themselves. We must reflect on why these attitudes exist, he conceded, but that’s not a justification to celebrate the terror attack. The ambassador was about to step down as US representative to the Court of St James. Being a Democrat and with Republican president George W Bush inaugurated the previous January, his excellency had nominally been replaced by William S Farish III.

Philip had a career in law and was chairman of WPP advertising and communications. After leaving London he was to join the board of the RAND Corporation, become an advisor to the bankers Morgan Stanley and to hold positions at Lloyds of London, Marathon Oil and others.

His wife, Linda LeSourd Lader, is an academic author, publisher and Presbyterian pastor at the Gardens Presbyterian Church in exclusive Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. In tax year 2019, the Philip and Linda LeSourd Lader foundation declared assets of $5 million.

The LeSourd-Laders have two daughters. Mary-Catherine was a managing director at BlackRock, the controversial investment management company. Her sister is film-maker, Whitaker.

Yasmin responded, if it’s wrong to demonise Americans it’s wrong to demonise Muslims. Americans must look at why they are despised. From the audience, America should wake up to their policies in the Middle East and then solve the terror problem.

Paddy Ashdown said he had been critical of American foreign policy in the past, but they were the ones who put themselves out front in trying to do something about a negotiated peace in both Bosnia and various parts of the Middle East. They are fighting in favour of democracy and the rule of law.

Claiming experience of his time in Northern Ireland, he said if you play the terrorist’s game by being provoked into violence, you grow terrorism not defeat it. There is no defence against the determined terrorist, especially if they are prepared to pay with their own lives. Stopping them is luck. By all means, make it illegal for nations to harbour terror – perhaps through a new Geneva Convention.

A covered lady kicked the Careful Now closet door off its hinges and said one of the reasons the world despises America is the world sees Israel as the terrorist and America the one who harbours them. Many present applauded.

The ambassador, now blinking back tears, said he found it hurtful there were those who say the majority of the world despised the United States. His parents were immigrants. The conflict was over the rule of law. It saddened him that, within 48 hours, there was distraction from the suffering and victimisation that had occurred.

The covered lady retaliated. If the US are so concerned about casualties why do they talk of war? Five hundred are killed in Iraq every month as the no-fly zones against Saddam Hussein’s regime are enforced. In the following shouting match, both myself and the subtitles spotted ‘an eye for an eye’ suggesting the continuation of an endless cycle of violence which, let’s face it, is what has happened across the subsequent two decades.

“Take the microphone away,” ordered Dimbleby. While not bringing peace to the audience at least he saved us from hearing the bile.

A seventies polytechnic lecturer with glasses, Citizen Smith hair and bright Marxism red jumper, ranted.

We can’t fight terrorism with bombs and guns, we have to tackle it at its roots. We have to confront poverty, (to defeat billionaire Bin Laden and his billionaire backers?). We have to challenge racism.

The American almighty dollar keeps wanting to spread the American way to every single country and Lavagirl. ‘Lavagirl’ being an indication the subtitles as well as the ambassador were being pushed to their limits.

Another man in the audience thought it was appalling so many present were supporting terrorists. We wouldn’t be able to express our views if not for the sacrifice made by American and British forces during the war. And Africans and Muslims chimed in Yasmin, culturally appropriating our wartime effort to others. The audience member continued. This is a declaration of war, you can’t negotiate with terrorists. This is a conflict of values in which we should defend ours.

At which point Dimbleby ended proceedings. What followed, as they say, is now history. A good war in Afghanistan resulted in Al-Qaeda being disrupted and Bin Laden being killed. It proved difficult territory within which to nation-build. Corruption, a loss of American interest and a determined enemy resulted in a return to Taliban control in 2021. A bad war in Iraq, with Tony Blair as a cheerleader, removed Saddam Hussein but resulted in a costly invasion, civil war and hatred of the West that continues to this day.

Coming right up to the present, the people of Afghanistan face a winter famine. In Iraq, according to Statista, 596 civilians died as a result of military action in 2021, bringing the total number of civilian deaths since the 2003 invasion to 224,000.

Most recently, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was awarded a knighthood in the 2022 New Years honours list.

© Always Worth Saying 2022

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