Will Not Forgive Them
By Jack Rabbit
Last week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a speech
before a joint session of Congress. The speech was little
more than an attempt to justify his joint colonial adventure
with Mr. Bush after the fact. He hauled up the usual arguments
in favor of the war. Such arguments now sound like clichés.
They have become worn and tired. They rang hollow to those
who were wise enough to march in the streets in opposition
ahead of the war, and ring increasingly hollow to those who
supported the war because they had no better information that
what the American multinational corporate media told them
and because they misplaced their trust in officials who were
empowered to make decisions.
Where Blair did not give tired arguments, he attempted to
rewrite history and arrogated for himself and Mr. Bush the
right to dictate international law to the rest of world and
to override decades of established and hard-won agreements.
The reasons that Bush and Blair gave to the world ahead
of the war were that Saddam was an imminent threat to world
peace and to the stability of the Middle East. They charged
that Saddam was in possession of unconventional weapons that
he could quickly deploy and was willing to use.
There is no denying that Saddam was a frightening personality.
He did indeed possess unconventional weapons at one point.
They were sold to him for the most part by the United States
- which viewed him once upon a time as an ally - and by other
Western powers. However, the question really comes down to:
Was Saddam a threat in 2003? The answer appears to
There was much evidence prior to the war to suggest that
Saddam was a paper tiger. We know that General Hussein Kamel
personally ordered the destruction of Iraq's chemical weapons
shortly after the first Gulf War. General Kamel was the director
of Iraq's Military Industrialization Corporation, which manufactured
Iraq's chemical weapons. He was also Saddam's son-in-law.
He defected to the West in 1995 and revealed his story in
secret to UN weapons inspectors. He later returned to Iraq
and was murdered.
We also know that former chief UN inspector Scott Ritter
said that when inspectors left Iraq in 1998, Iraq's biochemical
arsenal had been almost entirely dismantled. The UN weapons
inspectors arrived in Iraq in the late autumn and found nothing
of significance. British and American troops have searched
Iraq since the invasion commenced on March 18 and have found
nothing at all.
In spite of being faced with a qualitatively superior force
under the command of a man with no patience for diplomacy
and bent on conquest, Saddam did not use the unconventional
weapons he is supposed to have possessed. He had nothing to
lose but his power and Iraq's sovereignty and no conscience
to stop him. Iraqi scientists and leading government and military
officials have been taken prisoner since the invasion. In
spite of having been offered incentives to lead their captors
to weapons caches, none of the prisoners has been willing
or able to help.
In the course of his remarks, Mr. Blair said:
"Some of these states are desperately trying to
acquire nuclear weapons. We know that companies and individuals
with expertise sell it to the highest bidder, and we know
that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve
while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons
and exporting the technology abroad. This isn't fantasy, it
is 21st-Century reality, and it confronts us now. Can we be
sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join
together? Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have
destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman
carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history
will forgive. But if our critics are wrong, if we are right,
as I believe with every fibre of instinct and conviction I
have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated
in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership.
That is something history will not forgive."
These remarks are desperate. The weapons of mass destruction
that Bush and Blair insisted were in Saddam's possession did
not, in fact, exist. Only the most gullible would now believe
This has not prevented Mr. Bush and his aides from attempting
to spin dubious finds of tractor-trailers with equipment to
manufacture hydrogen for weather balloons into evidence against
Saddam, but this convinces only the willing fools. The rest
see this for the desperate public relations ploy that it is.
Indeed, any find of such weapons at this late stage would
only produce skepticism throughout that part of the world
not totally reliant on the American media for information.
Mr. Bush and his aides attempt to subtly change the hunt
for weapons systems into a hunt for weapons programs.
The war was predicated on Saddam being an imminent threat.
A weapons program that is nothing more than a few documents
and blueprints but no concrete production is not a causus
bellum. It is not a threat.
However, Prime Minister Blair attempted to rescue Mr. Bush
by changing the subject. So what if there is no evidence that
Saddam was an immediate threat? So what if there is no evidence
that he was in league with al Qaida? The war is justified,
Mr. Blair tells us, because Saddam was a brutal tyrant. Because
Saddam was a tyrant, he and Mr. Bush will be forgiven by some
divinity called History.
At least by stating that Saddam was a brutal tyrant, Mr.
Blair is asserting a judgment against which there is little
dissent. There is no dissent among those who opposed the war
on that judgment. Indeed, Saddam was one of the major human
rights violators of our time. Speaking as one who marched
against the war ahead of its start, I have never forgiven
Saddam for plunging his nation into two unnecessary wars,
for using environmental pollution as a weapon of war, for
unleashing a murderous police state against his people, for
oppressing ethnic and religious minorities and for gassing
the Kurds at Halabjah in 1988.
This last crime is particularly disturbing. Halabjah is
inside Iraq. As such, these people were citizens of Iraq and
therefore people for whose safety and welfare Saddam was responsible.
He murdered them. Mr. Bush and several of his aides have repeatedly
cited it as justification for a war to overthrow Saddam. Indeed,
it is a crime, along with the other just named and many more
not named, for which Saddam should have stood before an international
tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
However, Saddam committed all of these crimes, including
the Halabjah masscre, before 1991. In that year, the United
States led a coalition against Saddam in the first Gulf War
following his invasion and annexation of Kuwait. The war against
Saddam was swiftly and successfully prosecuted. Yet the US
chose at that time not to depose Saddam, but to contain him.
As already pointed out, the evidence is now that he had been
disarmed of his unconventional weapons arsenal. For twelve
years, he was successfully contained.
The most compelling evidence of willful lying has come to
light in recent weeks surrounding the forged document from
Niger purporting to show that Saddam was seeking to buy uranium
with which he could manufacture nuclear weapons. Mr. Bush
and Mr. Blair have no choice now but to concede that the document
is a forgery. However, in January, evidence based on the Niger
document was used by Mr. Bush in his State of the Union message.
Nevertheless, Mr. Bush or his aides knew or had reason to
know at that time that the information was at best dubious.
However, Mr. Blair still stands by this accusation. In a
joint press conference with Mr. Bush following his address
to Congress, Mr. Blair said in response to a question on the
"The British intelligence that we had we believe is
genuine. We stand by that intelligence. And one interesting
fact I think people don't generally know, in case people
should think that the whole idea of a link between Iraq
and Niger was some invention, in the 1980s we know for sure
that Iraq purchased round about 270 tons of uranium from
Niger. So I think we should just factor that into our thinking
Mr. Blair's justification of his intelligence is even more
absurd than Mr. Bush's use of the Halabjah massacre. Here
we see that Saddam was attempting to purchase uranium for
a nuclear program sometime in the 1980s, when he was still
in the good graces of the US government and several years
before the first Gulf War and the passing of UN resolutions
directing Iraq to disarm.
Imagine: In 2003, Iraq was invaded by a foreign army, her
oil fields secured for the benefit of foreign businesses and
thousands killed bacause the Iraqi tyrant attempted to purchase
uranium twenty years earlier, when there was no prohibition
against him doing so.
Imagine: Tony Blair would have us think that an attempt to
purchase uranium for Niger twenty years ago is evidence that
Saddam was attempting to buy more unranium and build a nuclear
bomb since 1998.
Neither the Halabjah massacre in 1988 nor the attempt to
purchase uranium for Niger in the 1980s can be used as a justification
for invading Iraq in the spring of 2003. Indeed, while Saddam
was a brutal tyrant, that is not by itself justification for
war. If it were, consider the other wars that would have to
• In Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe has allowed
his people to go hungry and jails the political opposition;
• In Burma, where a brutal military junta rules
and refuses to allow President Aung San Suu Kyi or members
of the legislative body, all of whom were elected in 1990,
to take office;
• In the People's Republic of China, where
the architects of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 govern
• In the United States of America, where George
W. Bush and his friends rule in spite of having lost the election
of 2000, work to undermine over 200 years of democratic tradition
in the guise of fighting a war against terrorism and threaten
other nations with war, even a nuclear first strike, under
I could give many more such examples. If the world were
a better place, it might be possible to overthrow such dictators
simply because they are tyrants. We might indeed look forward
to such day. However, as things are today, to invade every
country where the people suffer under the yoke of a brutal
tyrant and leave an occupation force behind for security is
not practical. It would strain the strongest military.
Consequently, by itself, the fact that a sovereign nation
is governed by a tyrant, no matter how brutal, is not justification
for war. Yet this is the only justification Bush and Blair
have left to offer for invading Iraq. That is to say, it is
the only justification they have offered other than the lies
that have been refuted over and over again.
In the wake of this invasion, Bush and Blair have cast aside
the United Nations along with decades of work on establishing
a framework of international law. By offering a resolution
to enable the use of force to the United Nations Security
Council, the sanctity of the UN was affirmed. However, the
resolution was withdrawn when its defeat was certain. They
abrogated for themselves the right to determine that war was
justified and usurped the power of the United Nations, thereby
denying the very sanctity of the United Nations that was affirmed
by offering the resolution. This was an absurd charade.
The invasion of Iraq is a rogue attack. It is illegal. There
is no justification for it. It is, on its face, a war crime.
Will Bush and Blair be brought before an international tribunal
to answer for their crimes? It would be difficult. We may
have to content ourselves with using our electoral processes
to simply remove them from the offices they have abused and
History, though, will certainly not forgive them.