THE LIES and deceptions used by Tony Blair and George Bush to persuade
their governments to back the illegal attack an invasion of Iraq are coming
back to haunt them with a vengeance.
Tony Blair in particular is facing mounting accusations that he exaggerated and misled the House of Commons on the issue of weapons of mass destruction in order to get backing for this extremely unpopular war.
This was at a time when opinion polls showed that the vast majority of people in Britain were opposed to attacking Iraq without United Nations agreement; the biggest demonstration in Britain’s history had just marched through London to oppose the war and growing numbers of MPs were doubtful of the legality of the war.
One thing that Blair is very good at is persuading other MPs and politicians to put aside their instinctive doubts and believe in his overriding reasons for doing this his way – the American way.
He needed an absolute overriding reason to get the MPs to back this war in spite of everything. He needed the myth of weapons of mass destruction.
He needed to convince the waverers that Britain and the US were in imminent danger from chemical and biological weapons that Iraq had stashed away and that could be used within 45 minutes.
He had to convince the MPs that only an immediate invasion could save the West from a catastrophe.
Both Bush and Blair repeatedly asserted they had sound evidence from their intelligence sources that these weapons existed, even though they refused to allow the United Nations weapons inspectors to continue to search for them.
In December, a White House spokesperson said: “The President and the Secretary of Defence [Rumsfeld] would not assert as plainly an bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true.”
On 20 January, Rumsfeld asserted: “Saddam’s regime has large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and he has an active programme to acquire and develop nuclear weapons.”
These arguments, it seems, did sway many MPs an indeed many members of the US Congress.
During the invasion of Iraq, the Iraqis used no weapons of mass destruction nor were any found stockpiled in Iraq.
Since then the US army colonel in charge of finding these weapons has inspected key sites in Baghdad and reported that no trace of bunkers or bodies has been found.
Colonel Tim Madere said: “When we came out here, the primary thing we were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics, and basically what we saw was giant holes created.”
US Secretary of State Colin Powell rather let the cat out of the bag a couple of weeks ago when he admitted these weapons “might never be found”.
Then Donald Rumsfeld claimed that Saddam might have sneakily dismantled them before they could be found. This is illogical. What point would there be to having such weapons at all if instead of using them at the country’s most desperate hour of need they were just dismantled?
And in any case, Iraq had said over and over again that it had dismantled all its weapons of mass destruction – in compliance with orders from the United Nations.
In other words there was obviously no reason for the war, in which thousands were killed, except American greed for Iraq’s oil.
For those with an anti-imperialist outlook, this was fairly obvious all along and we may wonder that our MPs were so naive.
Last week former Cabinet Minister Clare Short accused Blair of lying to the House of Commons, of distorting British intelligence reports on the weapons of mass destruction and of having made a pact with Bush, as early as last August, that the attack on Iraq would go ahead, come what may.
Robin Cook, who resigned his position as Leader of the House, said that Blair had “lied to the nation” and that “the whole war was built upon falsehood”.
Now a House of Commons committee is set to investigate the intelligence report delivered to Blair last October and which he has used as he keystone of his evidence on the alleged weapons of mass destruction, following reports from MI6 that Blair used “spin” on the reports to exaggerate them.
Blair has reacted angrily, accusing his accusers of having political motives and MI6 of “skulduggery”.
Last Wednesday Blair faced a raucous question time in the House of Commons. Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith claimed that “Nobody believes a word now that the Prime Minister is saying” and added that “the whole credibility of his government rests on clearing up these charges”.
Over 70 Labour MPs have signed a motion insisting that Blair publish his evidence on the weapons of mass destruction.
And the demand for a full public inquiry headed by a member of the judiciary – not merely a House of Commons committee investigation – is growing inside and outside Parliament.
Many who are by no means left wing are beginning to be shocked and stunned by the prospect that the British government has been duped into supporting an illegal war and that all those who took part are now, in the eyes of international law, war criminals.
This horror is daily exacerbated by reports of brutality, torture and humiliation being practised by British and American occupation troops against the Iraqi people. This also utterly destroys Blair’s other claim that the war was to “liberate” the Iraqis from Saddam.
Thousands of people in Britain and America are only just realising that their governments are not “the good guys” after all. This awareness will undermine imperialism’s ability to govern its own people without resorting to more coercive means.
A recent Daily Telegraph poll shows that 44 per cent of the public feel misled over the weapons issue.
This is an issue that Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld and all hoped would be forgotten about once the war was over. But it is a lie that is coming back to haunt them. Telling lies in order to lead your country into an illegal war is unforgivable – even among the bourgeoisie.
It is an issue that will not go away until Blair and Bush have gone away.
We must support the call for a full public inquiry and for Blair to be kicked out – by Parliament, by the Labour Party and by all of us.
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