by Daphne Liddle
ALASTAIR Campbell duly made his appearance this week at the Chilcott inquiry into the causes of the illegal invasion of Iraq. And he is still claiming that it was for the benefit of the people of Iraq and peace in the region — and that one day history will vindicate this gigantic war crime.
But while the inquiry panel are trying to pin Campbell down to disclosing details of letters that went between then Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George Bush in the later months of 2002 — it is letting Blair, Bush and Campbell off the hook about the real reasons for the war.
Chilcott is allowing Blair to be portrayed as a man who sincerely believed that Saddam Hussein was a monster who had to be removed at all costs — no matter what lies and excuses were made nor lives lost in the process.
The inquiry has revealed that Blair made firm promises to Bush months before the invasion that “Britain will be there” — without consulting the Cabinet, never mind the House of Commons.
Campbell, when questioned about the “dodgy dossier” claims the document is perfectly accurate except for one small technical mistake — the bit about Saddam being able to deploy weapons of mass destruction towards Britain within 45 minutes should have been reported as the opinion of an academic — not hard intelligence fact.
Yet it was this claim that panicked the mass ranks of Labour and Tory MPs into supporting the war.
And Campbell claimed that Blair’s promise to Bush that “Britain will be there” meant that if peaceful negotiations to disarm Saddam failed, Britain would actively support the invasion.
But Saddam was disarmed and had been all along. He had complied with every United Nations directive except that he dragged his heels on the stipulation that he allow US spies into his country under the guise of United Nations weapons inspectors.
The failure to find even a trace evidence of any weapons of mass destruction proves Saddam had complied. And Bush and Blair knew this well. US satellite surveillance would have picked up any construction of weapons of that kind.
They chose to go into Iraq because there were no weapons of mass destruction and they believed the invasion would be a pushover.
This lesson has been well learned by all countries around the world that are defying US imperialism and made them more determined to hang on to whatever weapons they have, no matter what pressure is brought to bear through the United Nations, Nato or any other body.
Bush and Blair kicked off the illegal invasion in defiance of the UN and before UN weapons inspectors had completed their searches — because they knew none would be found and all shred of justification for the attack would disappear.
The real reason for the war of course was oil! The invasion was part of the plan by the most extreme right-wing elements of US imperialism — the Neo-cons — to seize complete control of all the world’s fuel resources within 20 years of the collapse of the Soviet Union and thereby gain world hegemony.
They completely failed — and in the process provoked hostility from around the globe, including rival imperialists.
They totally underestimated the real military strength of Iraq — the courage and resilience of its resistance fighters. And while they were — and still are — bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, progressives in Latin America have forged ahead, with progressive socialist governments in control in Venezuela and Bolivia and many more turning left.
The world has changed since Bush and Blair effectively broke the power of western imperialism with their ill-judged adventurism in Iraq.
This is why the bourgeois media is attacking them — for their bad judgement, not for their out and out lying, greed and bloodthirstiness.
And this is why the Chilcott inquiry is allowing Bush and Blair to be portrayed as men of sincere belief who merely stepped over the line of legal process in their eagerness to bring down a tyrant.
And this is why Campbell — and soon Blair — have to pretend they still think they did the right thing.
Otherwise the inquiry would be looking at the role of the US transnational oil giants and the private sector interests that were driving Bush and Blair.