- The Blair government was told in January by the Americans
that there was no justification for attacking Iraq in the "war on
terrorism" and that their main aim was getting rid of Saddam Hussein
who stood in the way of the West's control of Middle Eastern oil wealth.
- This partly explains why Blair abandoned presenting to
Parliament a famous "dossier" in which "the evidence of
Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction is simply vast".
- The dossier is no more than a stream of warmed-over assertions
and deceptions, supplied by Washington. According to reliable intelligence
sources in another Western country, who were privy to the same communications,
the Central Intelligence Agency has made clear that there is "no credible
evidence" justifying an attack in Iraq.
- While Blair has continued to repeat propaganda that Iraq
is a threat to the region and to what he calls "civilisation",
the truth has long been an open secret. On February 5 last, the New York
Times reported: "The Central Intelligence Agency has no evidence that
Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly
a decade, and the agency is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein
has not provided chemical or biological weapons to al-Qaeda.
- While Blair has claimed that Iraq has rebuilt its arsenal
of "weapons of mass destruction", those who advise him know full
well this is nonsense. And if Blair himself is not aware of this, this
begs the question: what kind of prime minister is he?
- They have read the evidence of Scott Ritter, who as senior
United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq for seven years, is uniquely placed
to assess how much of a danger the Iraqi regime represents.
- RITTER, an American and international authority on weapons
disarmament, personally led the inspections, investigations and destruction
of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programmes.
- On July 23, he said: "There is no case for war.
I say that, not as a pacifist, or someone who is afraid of war. I've been
to war with the US Marine Corps. Moreover, I'm a card-carrying Republican,
who voted for George W. Bush for president. More important, I believe in
- "The UN weapons inspectors enjoyed tremendous success
in Iraq. By the end of our job, we ascertained a 90-95 per cent level of
disarmament. Not because we took at face value what the Iraqis said. We
went to Europe and scoured the countries that sold technology to Iraq until
we found the company that had an invoice signed by an Iraqi official. We
cross-checked every piece of equipment with serial numbers. That's why
I can say that Iraq was 90-95 per cent disarmed. We confirmed that 96 per
cent of Iraq's 98 missiles were destroyed.
- "As for chemical weapons, even if Iraq had succeeded
in hiding stocks of sarin and tabun nerve agents, these chemicals have
a shelf life of five years; after that they deteriorate and become useless
- Ritter does not deny that Iraq could have begun to reconstitute
its weapons programmes. "But they would have to start from scratch
because they don't have the factories any more, because we destroyed them
(including the research and development plant). If they tried that, the
evidence is readily detectable. The technology is available; if Iraq was
producing chemical weapons today on any meaningful scale, we would have
definitive proof to show, plain and simple; and there is none."
- Blair must also be aware of the fact that the international
Atomic Energy Agency reported that it had eliminated Iraq's nuclear weapons
programme "efficiently and effectively". When he and Bush "demand"
the return of the UN inspectors to Iraq, what they they omit to say is
that the inspectors were never thrown out by Iraq, but ordered out by the
UN after it was discovered they were being used as a cover for American
- Absurdity is never far away in Bush's world. His Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argues that the absence of evidence simply confirms
that the nefarious Saddam has cleverly hidden his arsenal in caves and
on the backs of lorries. "The absence of evidence," says Rumsfeld,
"is not evidence of absence."
- The second biggest lie is Iraq's "threat to the
region". Blair and Bush repeatedly claim this as if they are echoing
the fears of regional leaders. The opposite is true.
- In March, the Beirut summit of the Arab League sent a
clear message that all 22 governments wanted to see an end to the conflict
with Iraq, which they no longer regarded as a threat. Saudi Arabia and
Iraq have since re-opened their common border. Iraq has agreed to return
Kuwait's national archives and to discuss the issue of missing people.
Syria and Lebanon have re-established full relations with Iraq. Jordan's
national airline flies five times a week between Amman and Baghdad."
- THE unmentionable truth is that the entire Gulf and Middle
East is being turned upside down, not by any perceived threat from Iraq,
but by American obsessions with replacing Saddam Hussein.
- He was their man, a thug whose Ba'athist Party was brought
to power by the CIA in what the CIA official responsible described as "our
favourite coup". Moreover, he was sustained in power during the 1980s
by Ronald Reagan, George Bush Senior and Margaret Thatcher, who gave him
all the weapons he wanted, often clandestinely and illegally; in Washington,
the relationship was known as "the love affair".
- When I was in Iraq in 1999, I met an assistant hotel
manager whose sardonic sense of western double standards was a treat.
- "Ah, a journalist from Britain!" he said. "Would
you like to see where Mr Douglas Hurd stayed, and Mr David Melon - (he
meant Mellor) - and Mr Tony Newton, and all the other members of Mrs Thatcher's
government... These gentleman were our friends, our benefactors."
- This man has a collection of the Iraqi English-language
newspaper, the Baghdad Observer, from the "good old days". Saddam
Hussein is on the front page, where he always is. The only change in each
photograph is that he is sitting on his white presidential couch with a
different British government minister, who is smiling a smile uncannily
similar to that of his murderous host.
- There, in yellowing print, is Douglas Hurd twice - on
the couch and on page two, bowing before the tyrant. And there is the corpulent
David Mellor, also a Foreign Minister, on the same white couch in 1988.
While Mellor, or "Mr Melon" as the assistant manager preferred,
was being entertained by Saddam Hussein, his host ordered the gassing of
5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja. News of this atrocity the Foreign Office
tried to suppress and the US State Department tried to blame on Iran. "Please
give Mr Melon my greetings," said the assistant manager.
- The 1994 Scott Inquiry into Britain's illegal supply
of arms to Saddam Hussein found that deception was widespread among senior
British officials and diplomats. One of those commended by Sir Richard
Scott for the honesty of his evidence was the former head of the Iraq Desk
in Whitehall, Mark Higson, who described "a culture of lying"
in the Foreign Office.
- Nothing has changed under Tony Blair. The Foreign Office
has consistently lied about the inhuman effects of the American-driven
embargo on the Iraqi civilian population. It has lied about the rise in
the number of cancers in southern Iraq, the "Hiroshima effect"
of depleted uranium, a weapon of mass destruction used by British and American
forces during the Gulf War. It has lied about the vast amounts of humanitarian
goods denied to Iraq, even though the UN Security Council has approved
them. These include cancer assessment and treatment, medical equipment,
and equipment that would allow Iraq to clean up its contaminated battlefields.
- ON the issue of Iraq, the likeness between Thatcher's
Tories and Blair's New Labour is remarkable. In 2000, Peter Hain, a Foreign
Office minister and a zealous supporter of the embargo on the civilian
population, blocked a parliamentary request to publish the full list of
the British companies that had helped to sustain Saddam Hussein in power.
- Just as the Foreign Office under the Tories tried to
hinder reports of Saddam Hussein's gassing of the Kurds from getting into
the media (Foreign Office officials even questioned the "authenticity"
of news photos), their successors under New Labour have questioned the
veracity of United Nations studies reporting the death of children as a
result of the American-driven embargo; and they play down the prospect
of the new humanitarian disaster awaiting the Iraqi people when the Americans
invade. Four years ago, the Pentagon told President Clinton that, if he
invaded Iraq, he should expect "collateral damage" (civilian
deaths) of up to 10,000 innocent people.
- These days, various Saddam Hussein look-alikes are to
be seen being greeted at the Foreign Office. Several are generals who served
under the tyrant and would, if there was international justice for the
West's friends as well as its enemies, be convicted of war crimes. A new,
obedient thug is being groomed to rule Iraq, the world's second greatest
source of oil - the "prize" on which the insatiable economies
of the developed world, especially the United Sates, rely.
- Why is there an urgency about this attack? Is it true
that the Bush administration needs something to go right with its rampage
against "terror". There is another reason, which is seldom reported.
This is the dire state of the world's number one source of oil, Iraq's
neighbour, Saudi Arabia. This medieval throwback is America's most important
client in the region, almost as important Israel; and Washington is losing
- SAUDI Arabia is also the home of al-Qaeda, most of the
September 11 hijackers and Osama bin Laden. Its importance to the US is
demonstrated in the close ties of many in the Bush administration with
"big oil" and the Saudi sheikhs. George Bush Senior, a consultant
for the giant oil industry Carlyle Group, has met the bin Laden family
on several occasions.
- Not surprisingly, no American bombs fell on Saudi Arabia;
impoverished Afghanistan was the easy option that America prefers.
- Because of the American connection with Saudi Arabia,
the reaction and opposition within the deeply fundamentalist kingdom has
been growing. Al-Qaeda probably enjoys support or influence among a majority
of the ruling families. The Americans are desperately urging the caretaker
ruler, Prince Abdullah, to "modernise" - at present, women are
not allowed to drive and you can lose your head for apostasy. But the American
pressure is having the opposite effect; popular support for al-Qaeda is
- George W Bush and his own unelected, Christian fundamentalist
regime face a dilemma. An attack on Iraq and conflict in the Middle East
would provide a timely boost for American's military-industry-complex,
for which the Senate has voted an historic increase in expenditure of £24billion.
It would also divert attention from a sick economy and the corporate corruption
scandals in which Bush and his vice-president are immersed up to their
- However, an attack on neighbouring Iraq could also give
al-Qaeda the moment they have been waiting for and allow it to take over
Saudi Arabia through proxies and control the most important oil fields
on Earth. It goes almost without saying that Bush's dilemma does not include
consideration for the thousands of Iraqis who will die under the American
cluster bombs and depleted uranium tipped explosives.
- It is naive to expect Tony Blair to say anything about
this: to tell us the truth. However, people all over the world are stirring.
A clear majority of the British people oppose the latest proposed homicidal
adventure by the United States, and the complicity of their own government.
Silence is no longer an option. "Our lives begin to end," said
Martin Luther King, "the day we become silent about things that matter."
- John Pilger's new documentary about the Middle East,
Palestine Is Still The Issue, will be shown on ITV on September 16.