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13 OCTOBER

BRITISH ARMY SHELL TEMPLE IN SAIGON, KILLING ONE HUNDRED

[ 13 October 1945 ]

On this day in 1945, 5he British occupying forces in Saigon shelled a “strongly defended (Buddhist) pagoda” occupied by Viet Minh and other groups opposed to French colonial rule, killing one hundred. They also summarily executed two Japanese army officers who were found in the temple.(1)

SIR JAMES CLEMINSON BOASTS THE UK IS APARTHEID’S “MOST RELIABLE” PARTNER

[ 13 October 1988 ]

On this day in 1988, Sir James Cleminson, Chairman of the British Overseas Trade Board, proudly asserted that  “the UK has been a reliable, probably the most reliable trading partner (with Apartheid South Africa),” adding that “the UK has actively and successfully opposed, not just abstained from UN Security Council Resolutions calling for sanctions… and even rebutted strongly attempts to interpret more widely the limited measures already agreed.” (2)

GENERAL ADMITS BRITISH “PRESENCE” IN IRAQ ONLY “EXACERBATES” SECURITY PROBLEMS.

[ 13 October 2006 ]

On this day in 2006, General Sir Richard Dannatt, the newly appointed head of the British army, admits to the Daily Mail in an interview that Britain’s “presence” in Iraq only “exacerbates the security problems” there and also ” the difficulties we are facing around the world.” He also attacked Tony Blair’s professed aim of creating a “liberal democracy” in the country as a “naive” failure, adding that “whatever consent we may have had (from Iraqis) … has largely turned to intolerance.”(3)

Sir Richard made the statement after Tony Blair appeared not to listen to him when he had visited Downing Street earlier in the month.  On hearing of the interview Blair was furious, but in a telephone conversation with Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, he expressed his fear of the PR implications if he sacked the general, “The Mail and the rest of Fleet Street will turn against me. Their headline will be ‘A Very Honest General.'” (4)

 

FOOTNOTES

  1. “Fighting in Saigon,” The Western Morning News, 15 October 1945 p3
  2. Sir James Cleminson quoted in Elizabeth M. Williams (2015), “The Politics of Race in Britain and South Africa: Black British Solidarity and the Anti-Apartheid Struggle,” I.B. Tauris, London and New York, p58.
  3. “We Must Quit Iraq Says New Head of the Army,” The Daily Mail, 13 October 2006 accessed online at https://www.pressreader.com/uk/daily-mail/20061013/281492156808156
  4. Tom Bower (2016), “Broken Vows: Tony Blair, The Tragedy of Power,”Faber and Faber, London p529.

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