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History Will Not Forgive Them
July 22, 2003
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 be: No.

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 otherwise.

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.

Horsepucky.

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 Niger matter:

"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 there."

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 be fought:

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 with impunity;

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 false pretenses.

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 so dishonored.

History, though, will certainly not forgive them.

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