How right Edward
Gibbon was when he said history is little more than the register of
crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind. But perhaps no register
is enough to chronicle the crimes double-speaking and double-dealing
politicians routinely commit against humanity.
Look at Tony
Blair. You would think two years out of power would have narrowed
down the gap between the former British prime minister and what is
commonly known as common sense. But then there’s no antidote to
In the countdown
to the Iraq invasion and long since, Blair insisted ad nauseam that
Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
Speaking in the world’s oldest Parliament, a grim-faced Blair
solemnly warned the British public — and the world — that Saddam had
the capability and the intent to launch a WMD attack against Britain
“within 40 minutes.”
In fact, with his
gift of the gab, the man once known as Britain’s most successful
politician played a crucial role in building the case for Iraq war,
and gifting the much-needed legitimacy to with-us-or-against-us Bush
and his cowboy coalition.
support, it’s just inconceivable how Bush would have put together
his “Coalition of the Willing” and gone to war against Iraq. As Ken
Macdonald, one of Blair’s senior public servants and Britain’s
former chief public prosecutor, wrote in the Times this week, the
British leader used “alarming subterfuge with his partner George W.
Bush” to take the world to war. A sham war that has totally
destroyed Iraq, unleashing chaos that continue to rock the Arab
country and the Middle East from one end to another!
Blair and Bush
told us this war had been absolutely critical to the security and
stability of the “civilized world.” Just like the morally bankrupt
politicians before them did, they told us the war was necessary for
peace! Even when the whole world stood up against the war, from
Americas to Asia, the coalition stuck to its guns, insisting the war
on Iraq — already on the brink after two major wars and years of
devastating Western sanctions — was essential to rid the world of
Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction!
And now Blair
turns around to tell us WMD or no WMD, the Coalition of the Willing
would have invaded Iraq anyway. Ironically though, in doing so, the
man who has turned the old-fashioned deceit and lying into a refined
art, may be telling the truth for a change! In a now infamous
interview with BBC’s Fern Britton, Blair gloated: “I would still
have thought it right to remove him (Saddam). I mean obviously you
would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the
nature of the threat.”
CAN this get any
more disingenuous? No wonder Blair’s claim has reignited the Iraq
war debate with some familiar names associated with the circus that
preceded the invasion joining the fray. While individuals like Ken
Macdonald, whose conscience hasn’t gone to sleep, have blasted the
former premier for his lies, deception and sucking up to Bush, there
are more revelations from those close to the former prime minister
that the Atlantic allies were indeed determined to attack Iraq, WMD
or no WMD.
This is what
anti-war groups, human rights activists and majority of peace-loving
people around the world have been saying all along. This war never
had anything to do with Saddam’s mythical weapons or his alleged
links to Al-Qaeda. The West just wanted to invade Iraq and was
looking for an excuse to hit it. In fact, it didn’t even need an
excuse to do so.
According to fresh
testimony before Britain’s new Iraq inquiry, Blair had signed on to
America’s Iraq-war mission during his visit to Bush’s Texas ranch in
June 2002. That was a year before the invasion — and long before
Secretary of State Colin Powell swore before the United Nations that
Iraq was a “clear and present danger” to world peace. Remember
Powell’s claim about Saddam moving around his ‘weapons of mass
destruction’ on trucks?
Meyer, UK’s envoy in Washington during that critical year, told the
Iraq inquiry this week that Bush and Blair had “signed in blood”
their Iraq pact during that meeting. The oil, the Israeli lobby,
Bush’s Oedipal complexes or old-fashioned hegemonic ambitions,
whatever drove the coalition, clearly Iraq had been in its sights
right from the day one. This was a war based on and driven by lies
and treachery right from the word go.
AND Blair’s BBC
interview has nailed this monumental lie on which this sham war was
built. What more do we need? Is that not enough to put him and other
leading lights of the coalition in the dock for crimes against Iraqi
people and for crimes against humanity? Blair is supposed to appear
before the Iraq inquiry later next year. But he has already
confessed to his crimes, hasn’t he? Blair and Bush are not just
guilty of war crimes against Iraqi people but are also guilty of
misleading the international community. It was their WMD claim that
persuaded the United Nations and the world community to give that
fig leaf of “international mandate” to Iraq invasion.
Would the United
Nations, ineffective and toothless as it is, have given its
blessings to the invasion, if its august members had known Saddam
didn’t have all those frightening weapons that Bush and Blair
claimed he had?
The UN Resolution
678 approved the use of force against Iraq, only if it failed to
“disarm” itself of its weapons of mass destruction. The coalition
used this Security Council resolution, passed in the 1990s during
the first Gulf War, to justify the war.
Denuded of that
legal and moral cover, the Iraq invasion is nothing but war crimes
against a helpless, defenseless people. International law doesn’t
allow any country to force a regime change in other countries even
on humanitarian grounds. As former UN chief weapons inspector Hans
Blix, who desperately pleaded with the UN and Western powers to give
more time to Iraq for disarming itself and a diplomatic solution,
writes in the Guardian this week, “The responsibility for launching
the war must be judged against the knowledge (about Iraq’s
nonexistent weapons) that the allies had when they actually started
This was a
“criminal enterprise,” as Ken Macdonald puts it. And there exists a
strong war crimes case against all those who planned and visited
this calamitous war on a country that posed no threat to anyone, let
alone the powerful, nuclear-armed Western countries or even Israel.
It’s time to hold them to account.
toothless British inquiry is not going to bring any succor or hope
to Iraqi people. After all, this is the fourth inquiry that is
looking into the legality and morality of the war. Another round of
harmless testimonies and pointless brainstorming by retired civil
servants and diplomats is hardly going to make Blair and his old
friends and allies lose their sleep. What we need is a
Yugoslavia-style tribunal. The International Criminal Tribunal for
former Yugoslavia has been trying political leaders who plotted
“large-scale violence” against civilians for collaborating in a
“joint criminal enterprise”.
What has happened
in Iraq in the name of democracy, freedom and human rights is far
worse than what the Balkans went through more than a decade ago.
have died — and continue to die — in Iraq than in Kosovo or
Bosnia-Herzegovina. In fact, there’s no comparison between what
happened in the Balkans and what’s still going on in Iraq. One was a
scene from the Hell — Dante’s Inferno, if you will.
And the other is a
living hell itself. It still is.
- Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Dubai-based
commentator. Write to him at email@example.com