Western debt could lead to war, says Colonel Tim Collins

Dr Hannah Levis, Reader in Ophthalmic Bioengineering, Eye & Vision Sciences


Colonel Tim Collins is speaking at St George’s Hall on Thursday, as part of the University’s Security and Conflict lecture series

Colonel Tim Collins, the man made famous by a speech delivered on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, warns a military confrontation born of Western indebtedness to Eastern states could shatter world peace.

Col Collins was speaking ahead of his appearance at St George’s Hall on Thursday, as part of University of Liverpool’s What does 2020 look like? Security and Conflict lecture series.

No plan and huge naivety

Reflecting on the speech that made his name, and reportedly found its way on to the wall of the Oval Office, Col Collins said: “The reality was there was no plan and huge naivety from the Coalition about what they expected to happen in Iraq. They were hearing what they wanted to hear, as opposed to what they needed to hear. The information was there but it wasn’t what people wanted to hear.”

The Northern Irishman left the Army under a cloud in 2004 following allegations – since shown to be entirely without foundation – of war crimes.

He subsequently successfully sued two national newspapers and was awarded significant libel damages.

”We’re living way beyond our means. It’s only by China agreeing that people should remain hungry at night that we can enjoy our welfare system, and that there will be peace”

Since then, he has become CEO of a private military company employing around 500 people, and was even approached by the Conservative party on two occasions. Firstly as a potential MP, and secondly to gauge his interest in putting himself forward as a Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Kent – a job, Col Collins said, he “offered to do for free”.

But it is the future, not the past, that the father-of-five views most starkly.

He said: “We, and the rest of Europe, because of the social welfare system, are in huge debt, and we’re in debt to China. The reality is something like 400m Chinese people will go to bed tonight hungry. The deal that we, and particularly the welfare states across Europe and rest of the world, have to strike with them is that those people will have to stay hungry for another 20 years, so that we can have a free health care system.

Military confrontation?

“We owe them the money, they own the assets that supply that. We’re living way beyond our means. It’s only by them agreeing that people should remain hungry at night that we can enjoy our welfare system, and that there will be peace. Otherwise I think we’re inevitably heading towards a military confrontation with Eastern states.”

Follow Thursday’s event on twitter, using the hashtag #2020series

The Security and Conflict series, ‘What Does 2020 Look Like?’, also features David Miliband, British Labour Party politician and former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; General The Lord Dannatt, British Army Chief of General Staff from 2006-2009; and Rageh Omaar, the Somali-born British writer and world affairs correspondent. Book tickets here.


3 thoughts on “Western debt could lead to war, says Colonel Tim Collins

  1. Raymond Ruhaak

    I think we need to remember that the military is not an investigative organisation but rather strictly implements what the powers above them want them to. They are fed the necessary information to get the job done.as well as motivating and emotionally-charged tid bits to legitamise pulling the trigger. This is a not country-specific phenomenon, as getting a military to take other people’s lives is not an easy task. To expect military leaders to have been briefed reflectively on a situation before entering war seems very naïve. They are in charge of putting thousands of lives in harm’s way. If these military leaders do not buy into what they are doing they cannot do their jobs.

    That said, there are a tremendous amount of ex-military personnel that become outspoken critics of the governments they use to serve. Mr. Collins seemingly does feel he was misled in Iraq and now put himself in a position where he is not expected to accept the information that is fed down the heirarchy and then subsequently implement what is demanded of him. He can now pick his wars. He could just follow the money, or he could try to take the moral high ground. Maybe he fears the future moral high-ground may not be on the same side he has been fighting for.

    Are we really living sustainably? Look at the lands of where most all of the natural resources we depend on comes from. Are they doing well? We were not doing well either in this international trade-based economy before we were importing these resources during the era of economic and then political colonisation. However, I think the foundation of this is the globalisation of thinking, priorities and values, which is of western origin that limits intellectual & economic diversity thereby diminishes our flexibility and adaptability.

    The world is increasingly demanding the same resources to fulfill the same priorities and values while having increasingly similar solutions to achieve these globalised wants and needs. Academia has become the unquestioned, monocultural knowledge system of the world and this knowledge economy, with its origins steming from the medieval monasteries and universities, has played a large role in drowning out other knowledge systems. Our religious ferver for our academic knowledge often turns a blind eye to its flaws (e.g. when does the identification and control of all the variables actually happen? and of course if we can’t do that we do not have facts). We need to be more respectful and learn about other knowledge systems, other economic systems (well beyond the severely intellectually filtered capitalism v. socialism debate), and other people of different learnt experiences. It is our differences give us flexibility and adaptability, if we choose to learn from that which has been so marginalised. It is our differences that save us, but we need to start learning outside of our own fundamentalist beliefs and comfort zones to gain the adaptability and flexibility we need.

  2. Alexis Makin

    My reaction to the Tim Collins at the Security and Conflict Seminar series (Alexis Makin)

    There are many ways of looking at the world. Humans tell stories, with goodies and bad guys, heroes and villains. A character’s status can switch easily depending on which facts we attend to, on who gets a chance to rationalize their deeds and on who is invited to appear in prestigious places.

    One way of understanding the world is as follows:

    In 2003, the UK government participated an unprovoked, violent invasion of Iraq. The war was cynically planned by a US regime hoping to consolidate and expand its control over the strategic energy reserves of the Middle East. It was sold the UK public based on a deliberate, conscious lie. It was illegal under international law and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. According to prominent figures such as the ex-head of MI6, the Iraq invasion significantly increased the risk of revenge terror attacks on UK cities. One commander of the British troops, who was responsible for seeing that this crime ran smoothly, was Colonel Tim Collins. He is most famous for his pre-war speech on 19th March 2003, where he provided various predictable platitudes about entering Iraq as liberators, but also encouraged British troops to fight fiercely, and to ‘wipe out’ the enemy, if “that’s what they have chosen”. Here is one of the more chilling passages from his celebrated speech:

    “The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam. He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity”.

    It is interesting to consider that Tim Collins is now a headline speaker at the well-advertised University of Liverpool ‘Security and Conflict Seminar Series’. If China had invaded Iraq, under exactly the same circumstances as we did, everyone would perceive their military leaders as mass murderers. We apply different standards to our own authority figures. Perhaps he was only doing his job, following orders from above? But then, that’s not an excuse he allowed for Saddam’s underlings, whom he judged to deserve “no pity”. He has subsequently become critical of the Iraq war on strategic, more than moral grounds. But that’s really too little, too late for me.

    There is a danger in legitimizing the murderous military establishment by inviting them to our university as keynote speakers. I would argue that war is little more than organized crime made respectable by deceitful public relations campaigns, and the University of Liverpool might be playing a part in this deadly game. It is debatable, but I would encourage people to attend the seminar in a very skeptical frame of mind.

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