Chilcot Enquiry

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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby super_dipsy » 11 Jul 2016, 14:27

Crunkus. I think I am on a different point, and I confess I may have reacted to the words and my own interpretation rather than the intent. What I read, as I quoted at the beginning of my post was
musashisamurai wrote:While one can argue that in hindsight, they should have known it would destabilize the region and could lead to radical groups taking power, at the time no one took any efforts to prevent that from arising.

What I interpreted from this (possibly incorrectly) was that the noone refers to policitians or perhaps people, and the suggestion was that these people made no effort to prevent the destabilization of the region leading to radical groups taking power.
I saw this as a criticism because people did not stop it from happening. My main thrust was that I do not believe a lot of these people just sat back and deliberately allowed it to happen. I believe they tried to bring about a good outcome, and failed. Because they are not omniscient. It hit one of my hot buttons.

Musashisamurai, if I misinterpreted this then I apologize if I came across as being aggressive.

EDIT:
And I also realize that I am leading the discussion away from its theme. It was supposed to be about Chilcot etc, not about the relationship between the electorate and their representatives. I shall let you guys focus back onto Chilcot :D
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby Crunkus » 11 Jul 2016, 19:41

I'm not sure what that has to do with anything I posted but it seems I'm the one who needs to apologize. I was attempting a conversation. That seems to be inappropriate. I'll resist the urge next time.
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby WHSeward » 11 Jul 2016, 20:06

super_dipsy wrote:I know everything is bigger in the US. But just as a comparison, for the entire ELECTION (not just party leadership stuff) in the UK the combined party spend is usually around the £35-40M mark (about 50c at today's rates). You are talking $500M a YEAR? Gosh.


But add to that comparison the fact that the US economy is about 7X larger and there is a big part of your difference. Yes the US spends more, but the geographic and demographic diversity requires some of the excess spend, and the rest is probably just economies of scale. Would be donors get a lot more bang for the buck influencing the US government than they would the UK government so more are inclined to invest in it.

(Comparing Parliamentary leadership selection to the US Presidency isn't really apples to apples either. The President is way more powerful and that is why that position gets the lion's share of the spend/attention.)
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby super_dipsy » 11 Jul 2016, 20:51

Crunkus wrote:I'm not sure what that has to do with anything I posted but it seems I'm the one who needs to apologize. I was attempting a conversation. That seems to be inappropriate. I'll resist the urge next time.

Happy to have a conversation :) . I just read your post commenting on mine and thought you were right on the money. You were totally correct that my comments had little to do with the discussion of what we can learn from the Chilcot report and were rather facile, it was a rant based on my hobby horse of the blame culture combined with people's refusal to take responsibility for the politicians they elect. So I backed off to avoid throwing the thread off topic.

But as for the Chilcot report itself, I have not read it and to be honest I do not plan to. I view its worth given the huge amount of money and time invested in it as negligible. My opinion is that the lessons to be learned will largely have been learned by now if they are ever going to be. All these inquiries do is wind up those with axes to grind. You have no idea how many inquiries we had on the death of Princess Diana, and although each one came to the same conclusion every one sparked yet another round of conspiracy theories. As far as I am concerned, the Butler review was timely and more valuable. But then to be fair as I said I have not read the Chilcot report. I personally think it is really hard to learn anything when you are reading it >10 years after the event.

I am absolutely in favour of learning from mistakes, but I don't think it needs such an expensive inquiry to do so. Although it is impossible to know for sure without knowing the details, is it possible that because the UK government had learned some lessons we refused to back the US initiative for airstrikes and probably war on Syria. Unfortunately, looking back with hindsight I wonder if that also was a wrong decision, but I am sure that experience with the Iraq situation fed into the later decision.
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby Crunkus » 11 Jul 2016, 21:55

super_dipsy wrote:
Crunkus wrote:I'm not sure what that has to do with anything I posted but it seems I'm the one who needs to apologize. I was attempting a conversation. That seems to be inappropriate. I'll resist the urge next time.

Happy to have a conversation :) . I just read your post commenting on mine and thought you were right on the money. You were totally correct that my comments had little to do with the discussion of what we can learn from the Chilcot report, it was a rant based on my hobby horse of the blame culture combined with people's refusal to take responsibility for the politicians they elect. So I backed off to avoid throwing the thread off topic.


I'll take you at your word that continued conversation is appropriate then. It seemed to rather ignore what I was saying (while replying as though I'd said something different) and simply shut down the discussion. This was the nature of my reply.

I did not say your comments had little to do with the discussion of what we can learn form the Chilcot report and that it was therefore inappropriate because it was throwing the thread off topic.

If you backed off of something because it was "off topic" (it isn't) it has nothing to do with the conversation I was attempting to have.

super_dipsy wrote:But as for the Chilcot report itself, I have not read it and to be honest I do not plan to. I view its worth given the huge amount of money and time invested in it as negligible. My opinion is that the lessons to be learned will largely have been learned by now if they are ever going to be. All these inquiries do is wind up those with axes to grind. You have no idea how many inquiries we had on the death of Princess Diana, and although each one came to the same conclusion every one sparked yet another round of conspiracy theories. As far as I am concerned, the Butler review was timely and more valuable. But then to be fair as I said I have not read the Chilcot report. I personally think it is really hard to learn anything when you are reading it >10 years after the event.


If it advances the public understanding of how to reflect upon events of such importance that are still having an impact to this day beyond "we would have needed to consult an oracle to avoid this" it seems worthwhile. I mean, it's certainly immune to the sort of "nothing to learn here, people make mistakes, hope we do better next time" type of thing. But that's probably giving the blame game a run for its money in terms of setting things up for a repetition of the actual error.

The difference between the Butler Review and the Chilcot review is that one examined how the decision was made and the policy was pursued and one examined the nature of the intelligence used to justify the act by the United States (not necessarily what was available) exclusively.

The issue is: Were the experts used properly to inform the decision and proceed with the best information or did other factors drive that process in a tragically unproductive way? Or put more simply, did policy makers approaching this important issue use the information at their disposal appropriately and allow others who needed to make a decision the best information in which to do so? That's a chilcot question, it's not a Butler question. Both things are worth investigating. It's not clear why this is somehow not something we can learn from simply because it happened over 10 years ago unless you mean people like you are simply not inclined to want to learn anything and would rather focus on the cost of the inquiry. The concept of "the blame game" is not inherent in the Chilcot report, that's inherent in the OP. Equating the two is to ignore the actual report's content....or to simply not read the first page of it.

I mean if you're going to get upset at the cynicism inherent in "politicians are always out for themselves" and agree with me that it's getting in the way of actually changing anything in a positive way...there's an inherent follow up for a position that way that invites proper pointed criticism when you make it clear you aren't interested in any possible lessons to be learned in how some of the most important policy decisions of our time get made. THAT's the transparency you spoke of...things like the Chilcot report. The Butler report didn't examine that question by design that wasn't the point of it. The Chilcot report didn't "play the blame game" by design, that wasn't the point of it. This is the transparency you said was needed. But like I said...the public reaction is often to object to that transparency and when it is undertaken anyway on their behalf, dismiss it as irrelevant without caring what it contains. That's the root of the problem and is the same behaviour as simply inadequately blaming and demonizing policy makers. It's just a different root at making sure nothing is really advanced.

super_dipsy wrote:I am absolutely in favour of learning from mistakes, but I don't think it needs such an expensive inquiry to do so. Although it is impossible to know for sure without knowing the details, is it possible that because the UK government had learned some lessons we refused to back the US initiative for airstrikes and probably war on Syria. Unfortunately, looking back with hindsight I wonder if that also was a wrong decision, but I am sure that experience with the Iraq situation fed into the later decision.


If you are, the reaction that it required an oracle to have made a different decision while stating you have no intention of reading it (no one is talking in its entirety obviously) sort of contradicted that idea. I mean, it costs money for an inquiry. But if ever there was a sound thing to have an inquiry about, it would be on a question like this. The document does not look back with hindsight to determine what was the right decision and the wrong decision, that has nothing to do with the question it is exploring. The question is how was the decision made. If you care about learning from mistakes, that includes transparency about exactly how mistakes were made and indeed WHAT KIND of mistakes were made. All of that is essentially glossed over in your treatment of the issue and your assertion that this sort of information, the transparency of government it represents, and the opportunity it provides for the people to actually learn from the past to inform the future and be more responsible participants in their democracy.

Do we want information driven policy, or do we want to employ experts to simply buttress the decisions preferred by our leaders for political, ideological, or other reasons? Do we care to know the difference? You can't find out for every issue. But for things like this, you'd hope there would be at least widespread agreement that transparency is vitally important.

At the end of the day, we don't care about the details.

It's wrong to look at this as the blame game and another opportunity to be cynical about politicians. It's just as wrong to do nothing with it and assume it's a waste of money without caring how decisions were made beyond assuming they were made in good faith. Good faith on the issue of "trying to make a good decision" isn't in the scope of the Chilcot enquiry. I'll agree with you that an inquiry into that for purposes of laying blame or anything else is a waste of money. But that isn't what you spent your money to get. You spent your money to maintain transparency on how one of the most important decisions in recent history your government got made with the expressed purpose of learning from those mistakes so that better decisions get made in the future. If you want information driven policy and a public able to encourage that of their elected officials, you need reports that examine this type of question if the issue and the impact is important enough to warrant it.
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby Crunkus » 12 Jul 2016, 00:29

WHSeward wrote:
super_dipsy wrote:I know everything is bigger in the US. But just as a comparison, for the entire ELECTION (not just party leadership stuff) in the UK the combined party spend is usually around the £35-40M mark (about 50c at today's rates). You are talking $500M a YEAR? Gosh.


But add to that comparison the fact that the US economy is about 7X larger and there is a big part of your difference. Yes the US spends more, but the geographic and demographic diversity requires some of the excess spend, and the rest is probably just economies of scale. Would be donors get a lot more bang for the buck influencing the US government than they would the UK government so more are inclined to invest in it.

(Comparing Parliamentary leadership selection to the US Presidency isn't really apples to apples either. The President is way more powerful and that is why that position gets the lion's share of the spend/attention.)


The office of the President isn't really as powerful as a Prime Minister really. This really comes through loud and clear these days when a different party controls the legislative agenda (or lack of one). The office of president of the United States is more powerful than any sitting Prime minister, but that's just as you say a difference in the size of the economy and projected power influence of the nation over which he or she presides.

If the rules concerning leadership selection and elections were comparable, the US would still be spending far less on elections, and more importantly...money would have less to say about how they turned out. Sure there's more of incentive to get a "bang for your buck" because of the power of the economy you stand to influence, but that's only part of the problem. The structure increases the importance of monetary voting and decreases the importance of normal voting by comparison. It doesn't have to be that way, it's just harder to resist all the pressures that keep making that the reality because the carrot is so much more enticing. Add to that Supreme Court rulings enshrining political money as speech, and a system that basically lends itself to protracted campaigning unnecessarily (the 2 year terms of the HoR is just a shame among other things...a huge difference in terms of money spent year to year when comparing the US system to the typical parliamentary system), and there are a lot of factors beyond geographic (what does demographic diversity have to do with anything btw?) and population scaling that account for that kind of difference.

No one doubts the US is a bigger apple in terms of wanting to spend to influence. The issue is the extent to which the system encourages that sort of thing. Most systems can be improved, but I tend to think its fairly uncontroversial that a lot about the US campaign system could be improved in terms of reducing the impact that money has in the outcomes of elections and the amount of the economy it consumes. If there's one thing disparate special interests generally agree on is that they want to maximize the degree to which the money they spend can yield an effect. That's all well and good, but it has little to do with healthy democratic practice.

There's just more to spend your political money on in the US. More elections that last longer and cost more, with rules that encourage varied kinds of donations that drastically affect how law makers and other political office holders are forced to spend their time and prioritize.

It really is a lot different. Can you buy influence elsewhere? Sure. But there are some pretty big systemic differences that go beyond scale and geographic issues that offer straight forward mechanisms toward amplifying the prominence of the dollar and the costs of elections. You hold longer campaigns more often, boom...more money. Simple. Some of the problems are just inherent in a Constitution that was written in a different time. I'm pretty sure if the founders knew how members of Congress are forced to spend their days quite often these days as a basic reality of the 2-year election cycle things would have been different.

It's a big deal in a parliamentary democracy when elections are held too early. It costs a lot of money we'd rather not spend. People get upset. Voters get upset...can even affect the outcome of the election.
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby musashisamurai » 12 Jul 2016, 02:13

Musashisamurai, if I misinterpreted this then I apologize if I came across as being aggressive.


Sorry to bring this off topic, but np. I was probably a little aggressive too.

Maybe just to clarify things, I'm not disagreeing with you that politicians are people and they make mistakes...what I do draw the line with is when politicians (or any one really) uses their office to line their pockets. Campaign finance and quod pro quo is definitely a murky topic, but statistics (publicly available) and records show at least some of what is happening in Washington. I'm no expert in British politics, but here in America, the amount of money politicians can receive during and after their terms is pretty staggering, and kinda sad. Donald Trump's donation to Greg Abbott (then Attorney General) followed by charges dropped, Dick Cheney awarding federal contracts to his company Halliburton (auctioned, like normal, but no one else allowed to bid) during the Invasion of Iraq, hell, have you guys seen a chemical truck on the highway? The cutoff pH of any liquid to be marked "dangerous" came from lobbying from Coke, because originally the legislation included Coke. Maybe that was a little to high a safety factor from the FDA, but have you guys seen what Coke can do to a penny?

I also agree with Crunkus, that because they are in higher office, that we voted them too, we should theoretically hold them to high standards. Maybe they don't need to be perfect, but there are politicians, regardless of ideology, I could never vote for.
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby Crunkus » 12 Jul 2016, 04:01

musashisamurai wrote:
Musashisamurai, if I misinterpreted this then I apologize if I came across as being aggressive.


Sorry to bring this off topic, but np. I was probably a little aggressive too.

Maybe just to clarify things, I'm not disagreeing with you that politicians are people and they make mistakes...what I do draw the line with is when politicians (or any one really) uses their office to line their pockets. Campaign finance and quod pro quo is definitely a murky topic, but statistics (publicly available) and records show at least some of what is happening in Washington. I'm no expert in British politics, but here in America, the amount of money politicians can receive during and after their terms is pretty staggering, and kinda sad. Donald Trump's donation to Greg Abbott (then Attorney General) followed by charges dropped,


You have the order wrong. The donation was after the charges were dropped, not before. Three years after. It also wasn't a donation to Abbott personally, it was a political donation to his gubernatorial campaign. You must speculate to assert quid pro quo, and maybe you're even right, but that would be an assumption. Even if you were right, it isn't an example of a politician lining their pockets with money. It may be an example of something unsavory, but not that. At the very least there's evidence here that your stated bias about the ubiquity of corrupt politicians lining their pockets may have caused you to report the situation in a factually inaccurate way. It's easy enough to do when you have a preferred narrative. Trump has been donating to a lot of Republicans ever since he started having serious presidential ambitions. Before that, he mostly donated and identified with Democrats. My guess is he needed some red cred considering his donation record previously if he was ever to have a chance at seriously navigating a primary. Texas goes a long way. Influence in that regard seems to explain the donation just fine on its own. Maybe you are correct and Trump and him came to a secret agreement that would yield a political donation 3 years down the line. But it's hardly necessary to explain that event and you have no evidence to that effect and neither does anyone else who has come forward that I'm aware of.

musashisamurai wrote:Dick Cheney awarding federal contracts to his company Halliburton (auctioned, like normal, but no one else allowed to bid) during the Invasion of Iraq


This is much better example and is suitably disgusting.

I don't understand what you are talking about regarding chemical trucks and highways, and cannot respond to that.

musashisamurai wrote:The cutoff pH of any liquid to be marked "dangerous" came from lobbying from Coke, because originally the legislation included Coke. Maybe that was a little to high a safety factor from the FDA, but have you guys seen what Coke can do to a penny?


This is a non-sequitur. It does not follow that the cleaning a penny demonstration with Coke has anything to do with the pH being dangerous for consumption. Then I'm unaware of actual evidence that there is an evidence based reason to declare the pH of Coca Cola dangerous and unfit for human consumption, and its telling that the penny thing serves as the most common justification for such a statement. McCay's headlines were a flash in the pan and sensational. Coca-cola can do nothing to the capital steps over time that orange juice or lemonade don't also do (unless you want to advocate labeling oranges as dangerous as well, since they have nearly twice the concentration). Thankfully we don't drink things by holding them in our mouth overnight or for days and our saliva has a neutralizing effect. Just because they are a lobbying group, doesn't mean they are wrong. It also isn't an example of your assertion that politicians are lining their pockets with anything. You've simply said...lawmakers changed their mind about something, and a lobbying group was involved. What does that have to do with taking a bribe unless you're simply assuming the worst? Again...there's an evidence based perfectly straight forward and really way more plausible explanation that does not involve corruption.

We contribute to corruption when we see it everywhere. It allows the actual corruption to blend in among the noisy din of bogus or poorly substantiated indictments of slick politicians lining their pockets everywhere. It also allows us to sit on our asses doing nothing but complaining in an uninformed way about a group that probably consists of a higher percentage of people actually willing to work and accept sacrifices to make their community a better place than the national average. If we want better we have to do better on our end.
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby super_dipsy » 12 Jul 2016, 09:06

I think your questions and comments helped me to crystallize where I am on this.

My main problem is that it isn't clear to me how this report now leads to any more 'lessons being learned' than have already been taken on board by civil servants and politicians alike. I suppose one thing might be that people will feel that whereas before they did not see their own MPs who voted for the war as having done anything to warrant voting them out (as I think I said before, many of those voting for war are still sitting in the House having been re-elected a number of times) they may do so now. What else do we know? We know the intelligence was dodgy (we already knew that). We know the legal reading at the time may not have been accurate (we were already pretty well aware of that). We know Blair was working in tandem with Bush (we already knew that). We know that planning for the after-war phase was negligible (this has become apparent and we didn't need an expensive inquiry to tell us that). We know it wasn't following UN rules (we knew that). We know Chilcot thinks war was not a last resort and that other options had not been fully exercised. In fact, looking at a summary of the report from the BBC (usually one of the more balanced media sources) it lists the lessons to be learnt as

BBC wrote:1. The report found Mr Blair overestimated his ability to influence US decisions on Iraq; and the UK's relationship with the US does not require unconditional support
2. It said ministerial discussion which encourages frank and informed debate and challenge is important. As is ensuring civilian and military arms of government are properly equipped
3. In future, all aspects of any intervention need to be calculated, debated and challenged with rigour. Decisions need to be fully implemented.


I think these are all good lessons, but I think we had already sort of worked them out. I guess it is good to have them re-affirmed with so much detail and examples, because it does re-stress the importance of these lessons. But did we need to spend so much money to do so?

I suppose the other way the report could help to reinforce these lessons is it could be used perhaps as a tool to 'go after' (sue, accuse of crimes / negligence, etc) some key figures to make an example of them and thereby warn future office holders that they better think long and hard if these things come round again. So I guess they would go for Blair, Scarlett, Dearlove, Goldsmith, key Generals et al as a way of saying 'beware'. I can't see any value in that though, other than perhaps satisfying a few upstanding members of society like Corbyn and Salmond and perhaps making grieving families feel better.

Oh, and of course I forgot...it has also provided a prompt for a discussion in the House (2 day I think) on it which again will give politicians the chance to re-learn the lessons.

Maybe I look at these things too simplistically.
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Re: Chilcot Enquiry

Postby Crunkus » 12 Jul 2016, 19:07

super_dipsy wrote:I think your questions and comments helped me to crystallize where I am on this.


I think I know what you mean. That's one reason I've always valued these types of conversations. They help me develop and crystallize my thinking to the extent I'm ever able. So many of you have altered how I think about a broad range of topics over the years in so many ways. It's one reason I react so strongly to assertions that I enter into these discussions with a desire to demean, belittle, or buttress my own ego. I see value in these conversations whatever their trajectory (as long as they are actually conversations) because I see the effect they have on changing who I am and they way I think about things. I've grown to value it a great deal over the years, and think it's a shame that people are always looking to fulfill an adversarial narrative that I don't relate to at all. I literally mourn each of these misunderstandings and often work very hard to prevent them. But each time they happen they re-enforce each other and the narrative becomes more difficult to overcome. Such is life I guess. Every once in a while I give it another shot.

super_dipsy wrote:My main problem is that it isn't clear to me how this report now leads to any more 'lessons being learned' than have already been taken on board by civil servants and politicians alike. I suppose one thing might be that people will feel that whereas before they did not see their own MPs who voted for the war as having done anything to warrant voting them out (as I think I said before, many of those voting for war are still sitting in the House having been re-elected a number of times) they may do so now. What else do we know? We know the intelligence was dodgy (we already knew that). We know the legal reading at the time may not have been accurate (we were already pretty well aware of that). We know Blair was working in tandem with Bush (we already knew that). We know that planning for the after-war phase was negligible (this has become apparent and we didn't need an expensive inquiry to tell us that). We know it wasn't following UN rules (we knew that). We know Chilcot thinks war was not a last resort and that other options had not been fully exercised. In fact, looking at a summary of the report from the BBC (usually one of the more balanced media sources) it lists the lessons to be learnt as


To be fair, you said you weren't interested in reading it at all, and this may be why it is unclear. The reports differ a great deal, and you have already mentioned a number of mistaken impressions as to what was contained within them.

It doesn't seem at all obvious that all the lessons were magically already learned by the people that needed to learn them or how they learned them exactly or what lessons they learned or who they are. I will again come back to transparency, something you have said is a thing, and I would again remind you...this is what transparency looks like. The purpose of this report is not to vote anyone out. It was over 10 years ago. Also, we covered that already. You keep talking as though it is, but I've been clear on that point and what I believe the point to be. Or at least, I've tried to be. It's difficult because you often don't interact with what I'm saying directly so I sort of have to guess as to what has been communicated and what has not and to what degree. Nothing I can't work with though.

The report does not investigate whether the intelligence was dodgy. As you say, we knew that already. You are talking as though there is a duplication of efforts here.

super_dipsy wrote:
BBC wrote:1. The report found Mr Blair overestimated his ability to influence US decisions on Iraq; and the UK's relationship with the US does not require unconditional support
2. It said ministerial discussion which encourages frank and informed debate and challenge is important. As is ensuring civilian and military arms of government are properly equipped
3. In future, all aspects of any intervention need to be calculated, debated and challenged with rigour. Decisions need to be fully implemented.


I think these are all good lessons, but I think we had already sort of worked them out. I guess it is good to have them re-affirmed with so much detail and examples, because it does re-stress the importance of these lessons. But did we need to spend so much money to do so?


Have we learned these lessons? I will cede that the US not requiring unconditional support doesn't require the Chilcot Enquiry. But then again, that's not how it was advertised at the time anyway.

You were saying a while back it required a crystal ball to have a reason to think the course of action that was undertaken was not well advised. We now understand the extent to which they were advised, and that the expert advice was ignored and that it really was relegated to a subordinate role in determining policy. Essentially justify and help us do what we want to do as best as possible.

You can say we already knew number two...but did we know the extent to which they were not equipped even though the information was there? You were still talking about mistakes made and finding out about the quality of the intelligence in a timely manner from Butler. But the main players already had access to that information and ill-equipped those that should have been in a position to be equipped for proper debate. This is as far from needing an oracle as you can get. How much of the country had a similar impression on the subject?

What is now completely transparent is that one of the most important public policy decisions made in the UK in the past two decades was not remotely information driven policy. We now know the details of how the decision was made and the vote secured. We know more that the information from the US was bad. We know that it was already appreciated that it was highly suspect. We know that it was understood the extent to which the plan was flawed and we know that little was done about this before committing and that anything done after was ineffectual at best.

If we already knew that, your previous posts expressed the opposite. This is the importance of transparency. If the only reason you can think of to know that is culpability, then you're in the same orbit as those that are calling for heads 10+ years later. You're both missing the point.

When mistakes are made...transparency is in order. That's PART OF THE COST of mistakes. The enquiry is not an extra cost. In a transparent democracy, this is the cost of bad policy that severely impacts the world stage, untold lives, members of the armed forces, and the day to day life of ordinary UK citizens. Otherwise, in addition to all of that you're saying we don't really need to have the information to properly learn what exactly happened...because we just trust that the people that have to (whoever they are and they certainly aren't the public) have already learned all there is to learn. Again...it's saying we don't value or need transparency, even in the worst of policy mishaps.

It's nice to know that the intelligence was problematic. That isn't anything that informs us to how the policy happened. If you take it on its own and draw conclusions from that alone, you can even derive conclusions as to how the policy happened that were completely erroneous after reading the Chilcot enquiry.

It comes down to: Do we want to know how the biggest mistakes were made or do we want to guess?

We all trust our elected representatives to proceed based on the best information they have available. At the time, none of us on the outside really knew anything really including what information our leaders had access to. Trust was a big part (in real time this is often just how it has to work, though not to the degree it ultimately was in some aspects of this situation) of how the public interacted with the policy makers. Some had it, others didn't. But it was all uninformed or misinformed to one degree or another.

If we are going to be able to expect that this trust is kept, we need to first realize it does not require one ounce of malice to break this trust. That speaks directly to the point you and I were making earlier. People interact poorly with data, information, and expert advice all the time, it's quite normal. We see what we want and passively ignore what does not fit our preferred narrative. We justify it to ourselves, we fully incorporate it into our moral model and minimize that we're even doing it. That's how people normally work, it requires effort and practice to do otherwise at all. A lot of effort. Effort and practice that isn't readily encouraged in the current political world. There should be a push for information driven policy. What the people currently want is not that. The people currently clamour for ideologically driven policy even as they speak against other versions of it...and see data and information as ways to justify your preferred position. Statistics will prove anything, that sort of thing. Our politicians reflect this, on all sides to one degree or another for the most part.

Information driven policy won't happen until the public really want it. It also won't happen without this sort of transparency, because without it, you're just less guessing what information they had access to and how they interacted with it. 10+ years later the lessons of information driven policy making have not been remotely learned by policy makers or the public. We're making steps, but we still act as though transparency of even the most costly policy whiffs is not worthwhile if it costs money. The money it costs is inherent in the whiff...or you have no transparency. Full stop. Putting the cost on the enquiry itself is a dodge at that point unless you argue that we don't really need to have access to that kind of information. In which case, you've ceded that we just need to trust our politicians to make the best informed decisions on our behalf and hope. If they don't...it's best to just move on and hope for better next time. That fundamentally is an anti-transparency anti-data mentality. We can't expect our policy makers to be information driven if we refuse to be.

The next big fight is becoming a more information driven society. As usual, private enterprise is leading the way and government and the rest of us is lagging behind. We all pay lip service to it, but we continuously fail to adopt its mindset most of the time. Myself included. We have not learned the needed lessons, and neither have our policy makers. We all need the information, and we further need to care about it and use it. The chilcot enquiry is simply an example of a much larger aspect of democracy that we all need to do our part to improve. It involves reprioritizing the importance of education relative to other types of government spending and finding information driven policy to best spend every dime of that money to produce young people that understand how to engage in useful inquiry and making information driven decisions throughout their lives and how to expect it of their politicians regardless of the banner they are carrying. It's difficult, and it could take generations. But the concept that we've learned all we need to learn about the root of why this happened leaves me gobsmacked.

super_dipsy wrote:I suppose the other way the report could help to reinforce these lessons is it could be used perhaps as a tool to 'go after' (sue, accuse of crimes / negligence, etc) some key figures to make an example of them and thereby warn future office holders that they better think long and hard if these things come round again. So I guess they would go for Blair, Scarlett, Dearlove, Goldsmith, key Generals et al as a way of saying 'beware'. I can't see any value in that though, other than perhaps satisfying a few upstanding members of society like Corbyn and Salmond and perhaps making grieving families feel better.

Oh, and of course I forgot...it has also provided a prompt for a discussion in the House (2 day I think) on it which again will give politicians the chance to re-learn the lessons.

Maybe I look at these things too simplistically.


Reducing this sort of thing to these terms is ignoring how this happened. It's ignoring what actually happened and why it happened.

If you assume we already know all there is to know about this, before you even bother reading a news report's executive summary on the subject...then of course its a waste of money to you. Of course there's no reason for transparency. That's what people do after all, they learn from their mistakes and consistently don't repeat them in the future. Things are seldom more complicated when we're talking about policy makers in this regard that are democratically elected. All these things are proven true time and time again. Right?

The Chilcot Enquiry is what should happen under these circumstances in a transparent democracy whenever a catastrophic policy failure occurs. The Butler report did not examine this at all, as it spells out in its first page, so suggesting that is all we needed without even discussing why is just being uninformed or suggesting that we don't really need reflective transparency on how decisions happen and what information was available at the time and how it was interacted with. The costs of that transparency are inherent in any colossal policy failure. They are just temporally separated. Sort of like all the effects of that failure that are still being felt today. If you are balking at those costs, your balking at the worthwhile nature of transparency...which is exactly how this sort of thing happens.

Your position is common enough and understandable. But it's also how information driven policy continues to be elusive. We simply don't care because its easier to both trust that the policy makers will do the right thing and either blame them when the results don't work out or trust they'll do better the next time learning as they can however it is people do that. We call it something else to ourselves. Being practical about things that seem to cost a lot of money and not amount to anything obvious. After all, we don't care enough to even read the report's executive summary. Of course it is a waste of money, after all, what could it be good for but blaming people for mistakes? But that's the voice, both ends of it (the blame game and the trust game) of those fundamentally unconcerned with information. We either trusting they are rubbing their fingers together lining their pockets or trusting that all that can be learned will be learned, or trusting that as long as their or preferred party they will do the right thing (whatever that is...we're usually talking about the result or direction of the policy here...we completely skip how that direction is arrived at...which is of course the information driven component). It's just all...so the public's problem. We can't just pay lip service to the aspects of the problem we identify in others...we have to look down the barrel of how we all screw this sort of thing up on a regular basis because of the biology swimming around in our skulls.

Of course the lessons haven't been learned. Of course we're not doing enough. Of course this will happen again.

Transparency costs money in the short term. Lack of transparency costs a lot more in the long term. The world is getting more transparent, and that's going to help over time. But interaction with information is largely still fundamentally backward. Our brains have to catch up. Unfortunately, that probably means a generation or two will need to senesce politically. But there's no reason it fundamentally has to be that way.

The same people who put private enterprise on a pedestal in comparison to the government fundamentally overlook why they are so much more efficient at accomplishing the goals they strive for (profit, usually short term). It's because they have embraced information drive decision making in a way that the government has not. The government is great at collecting information. Aspects of the military and the bureaucracy are getting good at using it to make decisions as well. Democratically elected representatives are WAY behind not due to malice, but to a web of conflicting priorities that largely are a result of the backward nature of the you and me.

We need to stop ideologically talking about "free enterprise" and profit motive as the secret success pill of big business and private enterprise because it's not. Much of private enterprise wants the voting public to buy into that, because its a great mantra from getting less public regulation which is inconvenient when pursuing short term profits...which they excel at using information to achieve. But the real success story is the effective use of information to drive decision making independent of bias and ideology. That's what government and the public need to emulate about private enterprise. That's what we're not really emphasizing.

Somehow the biggest fans of private enterprise have been co-opted into forgetting the greatest lesson it has to offer and are simply turning the take away to "let private enterprise do what it wants and don't get in the way".

It's a damn shame. But it's related to the fundamental problem that the Chilcot enquiry makes explicit in how policy making interacts with information and how the public interacts with information. It's really the same thing.
(sigh)
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