It is not possible to
overstate the significance and urgency of the march and demonstration against an
unprovoked British and American attack on Iraq, a nation with whom we have no
quarrel and who offer us no threat. : John Pilger :14 Feb 2003
The urgency is the saving of
lives. First, let us stop calling it a "war". The last time "war" was used in
the Gulf was in 1991 when the truth was buried with more than 200,000 people.
Attacking a 70-mile line of trenches, three American brigades, operating at
night, used 60-ton armoured earthmovers to bury alive teenage Iraqi conscripts,
including the wounded and those surrendering and retreating. Survivors were
slaughtered from the air. The helicopter gunship pilots called it a "turkey
Of the 148 Americans who died, a quarter of them
were killed by Americans. Most of the British were killed by Americans. This was
known as "friendly fire". The civilians who were killed, whose deaths were never
recorded by the American military because it was "not policy", were "collateral
Today, after 13 years of an economic blockade that
has been compared with a medieval siege, Iraq is defenceless, no matter the
discovery of an odd missile that can reach barely 90 miles. Its ragtag army is
woefully under-equipped and awaiting its fate, along with a civilian population
of whom 42 per cent are children. They are stricken. Even the export of British
manufactured vaccines meant to protect Iraqi infants from diphtheria and yellow
fever has been restricted. The vaccines, say the Blair government, are "capable
of being used in weapons of mass destruction".
This is the nation upon which the Bush gang says it
will rain down 800 missiles within the space of two days. "Shock and awe" the
Pentagon calls its "strategy". Meanwhile the weapons inspectors and their morose
Swedish leader go about their treasure hunt and a cartoon show is hosted in the
UN by General Colin Powell (who rose to the top by covering up the notorious My
Lai massacre in Vietnam).
It is all a charade. The Americans want Iraq
because they want to control and reorder the Middle East. Their once-favourite
dictator, Saddam Hussein, made the mistake of misreading the signals from
Washington in 1990 and invading another favourite American oil tyranny, Kuwait.
So belatedly, Saddam must be replaced, preferably by another Saddam, though more
reliable and less uppity. There is no issue of "weapons of mass destruction".
That is a distraction for us and the media.
The wider significance of the promised attack is
the rapacious nature of the American state. As Tony Blair has confirmed, North
Korea is likely to be "next". I think he is wrong and that Iran will be next.
That is what the Israeli regime wants and Israel's wishes are as important to
influential members of the Bush gang as oil. Thereafter, there is China. Says
Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Institute in Washington: "What radical US
nationalists have in mind is either to 'contain' China by overwhelming military
force or to destroy the Chinese Communist state."
ONE of the Bush gang's planners, Richard Perle, has
said: "If we let our vision of the world go forth and we embrace it entirely,
and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war
... our children will sing great songs about us years from now."
September 11 2001 was their big opportunity. On
September 12 Donald Rumsfeld wanted to use the Twin Towers tragedy as an excuse
to attack Iraq, which was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell argued
that "public opinion has to be prepared". Afghanistan was the easier option and
they were planning to attack it anyway.
The subsequent American endeavour to encircle
al-Qaeda in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan was a fiasco and more than
20,000 people, estimates Jonathan Steele in the Guardian, paid the price of that
Since September 11 America has established bases at
the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels. The Unocal oil company is
to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has repudiated the Kyoto treaty on
greenhouse gas emissions, with the war crimes provisions of the International
Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use
nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states "if necessary" - incredibly Geoffrey
Hoon, on Blair's behalf, has said exactly the same.
Assassination is now legal. Virtually before our
eyes, prisoners have been tortured to the point of suicide in an American
concentration camp in Cuba. Under Donald Rumsfeld a secret group with the
Orwellian name of the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group has the job of
provoking terrorist attacks, which would then require "counter-attack" by the
United States. You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that the
enemy to all our security is not a regional tyrant - there are plenty of those,
many created by America and Britain.
And what of Blair? Do he and his craven Ministers
understand any of this? It is difficult to know. Such is Blair's evangelical
obsession with Iraq, and perhaps his desperation in the face of overwhelming
public opposition, that he is prepared to mislead and deceive not only the
public but the armed forces he has sent to pursue his and the mad Perle's
Does anyone believe the Prime Minister any more?
During his interview last Thursday with the BBC's Jeremy Paxman, Blair lied once
again that UN weapons inspectors were "thrown out" of Iraq by the regime in
1998. He knows the truth: that they were withdrawn when it was discovered the
CIA had planted spies among them in order to gather intelligence for the
subsequent Anglo-American bombing of Iraq in December 1998.
I MEAN," said Blair last week, "(the threat of
Iraq's undiscovered weapons of mass destruction) is what our intelligence
services are telling us and it's difficult because, you know, either they're
simply making the whole thing up ..."
Making it up, indeed. On February 7 Downing Street
had to apologise when it was revealed that its latest dossier seeking to justify
war - "Iraq: its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation" -
was lifted word for word, including the grammatical and spelling mistakes, from
an article written by an American student 10 years ago. As David Edwards of
Media Lens has pointed out, "the only changes involved the doctoring of passages
to make the report more ominous: a claim that Iraq was 'aiding opposition
groups' was changed to a claim that Iraq was 'supporting terrorist
organisations'." Like Bush, Blair lies that "we do know of links between
al-Qaeda and Iraq". An investigation by America's National Security Council,
which advises Bush, "found no evidence of a noteworthy relationship" between
Iraq and al-Qaeda. On February 5 a Ministry of Defence document, leaked to the
BBC, revealed that British intelligence had told Blair there was "no current
link" between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Blair has even denied seeing this
As a Christian, Blair says be is helping to build a
"secure and hopeful world for all our children".
The Labour MP Llew Smith recently asked the
Education Secretary to explain "how we can find billions of pounds to increase
our defence budget and go to war with Iraq but cannot find the money to scrap
There was no intelligible reply.
LAST November a report by the School of Public
Policy, University of College London, disclosed that "53 per cent of children in
inner London are living in income poverty". Yet Chancellor Gordon Brown puts
aside "at least a billion pounds" as "a war chest" with which to attack not
poverty but an impoverished people half a world away.
A peaceful solution in the Middle East is only
possible when the threat of an attack is lifted and a total ban on so-called
weapons of mass destruction and arms sales is imposed throughout the region, on
Israel as well as Iraq. The economic blockade on the people of Iraq should end
immediately and justice for the Palestinians become a priority.
The power of public opinion, both moral and
political power, is far greater than many people realise. That's why Blair fears
it and why, through the inept Tessa Jowell, he tried to ban tomorrow's
demonstration. He fears it because if the voice of the people threatens the
house of cards he has built on his obsession with Iraq and America, it may well
threaten his political life and make mockery of the Anglo-American "coalition"
and deny the Bush gang its fig leaf.
Should that happen, American public opinion, now
stirring heroically after the most sustained brainwashing campaign for half a
century, may even stop the Bush gang in its tracks. As of yesterday 42 American
cities had passed resolutions condemning an attack.
Is all that a cause for optimism? Yes it is. Look
at how this week's French and German "rebellion" almost seemed to change
everything; and remember that those governments are speaking out only because of
overwhelming pressure from their people.
Now that has to happen in Britain. Tomorrow you can
begin to make it happen.