Daily Archives: November 24, 2009

By Victor Mallet, Madrid bureau chief
The Philippines has had a reputation as a violent archipelago ever since Ferdinand Magellan failed to circumnavigate the globe (though some of his sailors did make it all the way round and thus immortalised his name) because he was killed on a beach on the island of Mactan near Cebu in 1521.

Yet the massacre of 46 people on Monday in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the southern Philippines plumbs new depths of violence and cruelty. It appears that gunmen loyal to a local politician attacked a convoy of his opponents and slaughtered them, as well as 12 accompanying journalists, with M-16 rifles and machetes. Read more

By Geoff Dyer, China bureau chief

Barack Obama has already moved on to the next aspiring Asian superpower – today he meets India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh – but plenty of people are still trying absorb what really happened on his visit to China last week. Read more

By James Blitz, the FT’s defence and diplomatic editor

Britain’s official  inquiry into the Iraq war begins today, amid much speculation that it will be a “whitewash”. One of the main reasons for this is that Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry chairman, is the very model of a British civil servant and a man who looks unlikely to wield the knife when it comes to an inquiry of this sort. Besides, argue the critics, the other members of the inquiry team have all been selected by Downing Street, suggesting to some that they are not truly independent and likely to pull their punches.

I’m not so sure about this. Having covered the four previous inquiries into the Iraq war, I’d beware of making any prediction on the outcome of this one. One thing I do know: the media has misjudged what the eventual outcome of all the previous Iraq inquiries would be and I expect will do the same again this time.

Take the 2003-04 Hutton inquiry into the death of weapons scientist Dr David Kelly. There was a near universal assumption in the British media when the inquiry began in the autumn of 2003 that it would destroy Tony Blair. In fact, Hutton  did the exact opposite. His inquiry almost completely exonerated Blair over the handling of the Kelly affair but instead found heavily against the BBC over aspects of its reporting -  leading to the dismissal of the two leading figures in the BBC. Read more