The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 16th July 2004
Workers demonstrate to stop Post office closures with a tank!!!
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WHAT THE BUTLER DIDN’T SEE
by Daphne Liddle
THE LONG awaited Butler report hit the streets
at midday on Wednesday and, after the Hutton report in January, no one was
surprised that it was a weak affair.
Its terms of reference – into the intelligence reports behind the Government’s
decision to join Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq rather than the political
process – doomed it in advance.
This is why the Liberal Democrats refused to take part in the Butler
inquiry from the start and why they are still demanding a proper inquiry
into the political process.
But it did raise some valuable points:
• In March 2002 the intelligence available was “insufficiently robust”
to prove that Iraq was in breach of United Nations’ resolutions.
• British intelligence used a lot of very doubtful sources and did
not check them out before using their “evidence” in the case for war. In
particular they used evidence provided by exiled Iraqi dissidents who were
eager for an imperialist invasion of their country.
• The Joint Intelligence Committee, headed by John Scarlett, should
not have included the “45-minute” claim in the “dodgy” Iraq dossier presented
to Parliament without stating exactly what it referred to. It actually referred
to battlefield weapons of limited range, not weapons of mass destruction
that could be launched at British targets.
• The Butler report found no evidence of “deliberate distortion” of
the intelligence material or “culpable negligence”. It must have kept its
eyes shut. If launching a war in which thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians
have been killed or maimed on the basis of unchecked tall tales from a handful
of traitors is not culpable, what is?
• The language of the dodgy dossier may have left readers with the
impression that there was “fuller and firmer” intelligence behind its judgements
than was the case.
• Tony Blair’s statement to MPs on the day the dossier was published
may have reinforced this impression.
• The judgements in the dossier went to the “outer limits” but not
beyond the intelligence available. In other words, there was a remote possibility
they could be accurate.
• It was a mistake to reveal that the JIC had written the dossier
because that led to MPs and the public having more faith in it than they
• No individual was to blame – it was a collective botch-up.
• JIC head John Scarlett should not resign his new promotion to head
of MI6. This man has carried the can and bailed out Blair throughout both
the Hutton and Butler inquiries and deserves a reward for his loyalty.
• The report claimed “it would be a rash person” who claimed that
stocks of WMD would never be found in Iraq. But it was an even rasher person
who started a war on the basis that they did exist.
• The report found no evidence that the motive of the British Government
for initiating military action in Iraq was securing continued access to oil
supplies. The remit of the inquiry did not include looking into the Bush
family business dealings.
• The report raised concerns about the “informality and circumscribed character”
of the Government’s policy-making procedures towards Iraq. John Scarlett
and Alistair Campbell were far too close for independence or objectivity.
• The report found that the “style of government” hindered proper debate.
Butler gave away his reasoning when he said he concluded that Blair
could not have been deliberately lying about the WMD because “it would have
been very stupid to make a claim that would so quickly be shown to be false”
after the war had taken place. Well Blair was stupid. He believed that after
the war people would forget about his bogus claims.
After all it worked over the invasions of Afghanistan and the former
Yugoslavia. The reasons for these invasions were just as bogus but Clinton,
Bush and Blair got away with it because the global ruling class was united
But that class was divided over Iraq and its oil and the bogus reasons
for going to war were not allowed to drop.
Blair and his cohorts are now furiously shifting their ground, claiming
they never did say that Iraq had WMD that could be deployed within 45 minutes
and that never was the real reason for going to war.
Of course it wasn’t. The real reason was Iraqi oil. But in February
2003 Blair used the lies about Iraqi WMD to pressure MPs to endorse the war.
Blair claims now the reason for the war was to get rid of Saddam –
a regime change that he had earlier admitted would be illegal – and because
of Iraqi non-compliance with United Nations weapons inspections.
Iraq had thrown out US inspectors who were blatantly spying on Iraq’s
defences in what both sides knew was the run-up to an imperialist attack
on the country.
The UN itself did not think this “infringement” justified an invasion
and refused to endorse it. In any case, at that time Hans Blix and his team
of UN inspectors were back in Iraq – not finding any WMD.
This led many MPs to wonder if military intervention should not be
postponed until there was real evidence of Iraqi WMD or UN endorsement of
Blair used the 45-minute claim and deliberately exaggerated claims about
the WMDs to create a sense of urgency and pressure these MPs to back him.
And, as Robin Cook wrote last week, Blair was well aware that Iraq
not only did not have WMD – it did not even have usable chemical or biological
battlefield weapons. John Scarlett had told both of them that, “in order
to evade detection by UN inspectors, Saddam had taken apart the shells and
dispersed them – with the result that it would be difficult to deploy them
Blair has now admitted a few mistakes in the way evidence was presented
but claims he is not going to “go to the other extreme”. Starting a war on
the basis of false evidence is very extreme and very foolish. He must go.
Iraq for the Iraqis
FOR THOSE in the Labour Party who argue that Gordon Brown
is sympathetic to the demands of the unions, the sweeping job cuts announced
in the Chancellor’s “spending review” this week will have come as a bitter
blow. For the rest of us the decision to sack over 100,000 jobs civil servants
is no surprise.
Millions were spent to fund British imperialism’s substantial contribution
to the American invasion of Iraq. Millions more are being squandered to prop
up the futile imperialist occupation in the face of a ferocious resistance.
Though the ruling class is openly divided over the Iraq war the one thing
they all agree with is that none of them should pay a penny extra towards
it. That cost, as always, is being dumped on the working class. All wars
have to be paid for and imperialist wars are always paid for by working people.
The Iraq war is no exception.
Brown tells us that the devastating cuts will help promote “efficiency” by
cutting “waste” and providing much needed funds for the cutting edge of what’s
left of the social services. The alternative – increasing income tax for
the rich – is unthinkable for the likes of Brown and Blair.
Robbing the poor to help the poor is an old Tory trick played time and time
again. This time we have to make sure it fails.
Tony Blair is on his last legs. Not a week goes by without more speculation
over the Labour leadership. Blair’s personal standing amongst the people
is rock bottom. His credibility over the “dodgy dossier” is in shreds. His
promises on education and the health service lie in tatters. Who believes
a word he says these days?
Blair clings on to office with the support of Gordon Brown, who only
differs from Blair insomuch as he wants the premiership for himself. Like
Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee, Blair and Brown strut along the corridors of
power in search of plaudits from the Tories and those elements of the
ruling class in alliance with American imperialism. But they’ve got to the
top on the backs of working people who gave Labour the greatest electoral
victories in its entire history in 1997 and 2001.
Some union leaders who pose as left wingers continue to act as apologists
for Blair, Brown and the rest of the “New Labour” leadership. They worked
to head off open challenges at last’ years TUC and Labour Party Conference.
Others have taken the principled stand and their numbers are growing.
Resistance within the Labour Party and the unions is becoming more vocal.
Opposition to Blair and moves to remove him are becoming more focused. But
all this talk about “reclaiming” the Labour Party is meaningless unless the
most crawling and class collaborationist elements within it are defeated.
The Labour Party is nothing if it doesn’t represent the unions that fund
it or the millions of working people who up to now have voted Labour. If
the Labour Party is to survive Blair and Brown must be dumped – and dumped
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