Pilger’s take on the impending war...
Blair is a coward
Pilger: His most damning verdict on Tony Blair
Russell, the great correspondent who reported the carnage of imperial wars, may
have first used the expression “blood on his hands” to describe impeccable
politicians who, at a safe distance, order the mass killing of ordinary people.
In my experience “on his hands” applies especially to
those modern political leaders who have had no personal experience of war, like
George W Bush, who managed not to serve in
and the effete Tony Blair.
is about them the essential cowardice of the man who causes death and suffering
not by his own hand but through a chain of command that affirms his
1946 the judges at
who tried the Nazi leaders for war crimes left no doubt about what they regarded
as the gravest crimes against humanity. The most serious was unprovoked invasion
of a sovereign state that offered no threat to one’s homeland. Then there was
the murder of civilians, for which responsibility rested with the “highest
authority”. Blair is about to commit both these crimes, for which he is being
denied even the flimsiest United Nations cover now that the weapons inspectors
have found, as one put it, “zilch”. Like those in the dock at
he has no democratic cover.
the archaic “royal prerogative” he did not consult parliament or the people
when he dispatched 35,000 troops and ships and aircraft to the Gulf; he
consulted a foreign power, the
regime. Unselected in 2000, the
regime of George W Bush is now totalitarian, captured by a clique whose
fanaticism and ambitions of “endless war” and “full spectrum dominance”
are a matter of record.
the world knows their names: Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Perle,
and Powell, the false liberal. Bush’s State of the Union speech last night was
reminiscent of that other great moment in 1938 when Hitler called his generals
together and told them: “I must have war.” He then had it.
To call Blair a mere “poodle” is to allow him distance from the
killing of innocent Iraqi men, women and children for which he will share
responsibility. He is the embodiment of the most dangerous appeasement humanity
has known since the 1930s. The current American elite is the Third Reich of our
times, although this distinction ought not to let us forget that they have
merely accelerated more than half a century of unrelenting American state
terrorism: from the atomic bombs dropped cynically on Japan as a signal of their
new power to the dozens of countries invaded, directly or by proxy, to destroy
democracy wherever it collided with American “interests”, such as a
voracious appetite for the world’s resources, like oil.
you next hear Blair or Straw or Bush talk about “bringing democracy to the
remember that it was the CIA that installed the Ba’ath Party in
from which emerged Saddam Hussein.” That was my favourite coup,” said the
CIA man responsible. When you next hear Blair and Bush talking about a
“smoking ! gun” in
ask why the
government last December confiscated the 12,000 pages of
weapons declaration, saying they contained “sensitive information”
which needed “a little editing”.
Sensitive indeed. The original Iraqi documents listed 150 American,
British and other foreign companies that supplied
with its nuclear, chemical and missile technology, many of them in illegal
transactions. In 2000 Peter Hain, then a Foreign Office Minister, blocked a
parliamentary request to publish the full list of lawbreaking British companies.
He has never explained why.
As a reporter of many wars I am constantly aware that
words on the page like these can seem almost abstract, part of a great chess
game unconnected to people’s lives. The most vivid images I carry make that
are the end result of orders given far away by the likes of Bush and Blair, who
never see, or would have the courage to see, the effect of their actions on
ordinary lives: the blood on their hands. Let
me give a couple of examples. Waves
of B52 bombers will be used in the attack on
where more than a million people were killed in the American invasion of the
1960s, I once watched three ladders of bombs curve in the sky, falling from B52s
flying in formation, unseen above the clouds.
They dropped about 70 tons of explosives that day in what was known as
the ”long box” pattern, the military term for carpet bombing. Everything
inside a “box” was presumed destroyed. When
I reached a village within the “box”,
the street had been replaced by a crater. I
slipped on the shank of a buffalo and fell hard into a ditch filled with pieces
of limbs and the intact bodies of children thrown into the air by the blast.
The children’s skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing veins
and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared straight
ahead. A small leg had been so contorted by the blast that the foot seemed to be
growing from a shoulder. I vomited.
am being purposely graphic. This is
what I saw, and often; yet even in that “media war” I never saw images of
these grotesque sights on television or in the pages of a newspaper.
I saw them only pinned on the wall of news agency offices in
as a kind of freaks’ gallery.
years later I often came upon terribly deformed Vietnamese children in villages
where American aircraft had sprayed a herbicide called Agent
It was banned in the
not surprisingly for it contained Dioxin, the deadliest known poison.
This terrible chemical weapon, which the cliche-mongers would now call a
weapon of mass destruction, was dumped on almost half of
as the poison continues to move through water and soil and food, children
continue to be born without palates and chins and scrotums or are stillborn.
Many have leukemia. You never saw
these children on the TV news then; they were too hideous for their pictures,
the evidence of a great crime, even to be pinned up on a wall and they are old
is the true face of war. Will you be shown it by satellite when
is attacked? I doubt it.
I was starkly reminded of the children of
when I traveled in
two years ago. A pediatrician
showed me hospital wards of children similarly deformed: a phenomenon unheard of
prior to the Gulf war in 1991. She
kept a photo album of those who had died, their smiles undimmed on gray little
faces. Now and then she would turn away and wipe her eyes.
than 300 tons of depleted uranium, another weapon of mass destruction, were
fired by American aircraft and tanks and possibly by the British.
Many of the rounds were solid uranium which, inhaled or ingested, causes
cancer. In a country where dust
carries everything, swirling through markets and playgrounds, children are
especially vulnerable. For 12 years
has been denied specialist equipment that would allow its engineers to
decontaminate its southern battlefields. It
has also been denied equipment and drugs that would identify and treat the
cancer which, it is estimated, will affect almost half the population in the
November Jeremy Corbyn MP asked the Junior Defence Minister Adam Ingram what
stocks of weapons containing depleted uranium were held by British forces
His robotic reply was: “I am withholding details in accordance with
Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.”
us be clear about what the Bush-Blair attack will do to our fellow human beings
in a country already stricken by an embargo run by
and aimed not at Saddam Hussein but at the civilian population, who are denied
even vaccines for the children. Last
week the Pentagon in
announced matter of factly that it intended to shatter
“physically, emotionally and
psychologically” by raining down on its people 800 cruise missiles in two
days. This will be more than twice
the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War.
A military strategist named Har lan Ullman told American television:
will not be a safe place in
The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated
strategy is known as Shock and Awe and Ullman is apparently its proud inventor.
He said: “You have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear
not taking days or weeks but minutes.” What
will his “
effect” actually do to a population of whom almost half are children under the
age of 14? The answer is to be found
in a “confidential” UN document, based on World Health Organisation
estimates, which says that “as many as 500,000 people could require treatment
as a result of direct and indirect injuries”.
Bush-Blair attack will destroy “a functioning primary health care system”
and deny clean water to 39 per cent of the population. There is “likely
[to be] an outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions”.
utter disregard for humanity, I believe, together with Blair’s lies that have
turned most people in this country against them, including people who have not
weekend Blair said there was no need for the UN weapons inspectors to find a
“smoking gun” for
to be attacked. Compare that with his reassurance in October 2001 that there
would be no “wider war” against
unless there was “absolute evidence” of Iraqi complicity in September 11.
And there has been no evidence.
deceptions are too numerous to list here. He
has lied about the nature and effect of the embargo on
by covering up the fact that
support, is withholding more than $5billion worth of humanitarian supplies
approved by the Security Council. He
has lied about
buying aluminum tubes, which he told Parliament were “needed to enrich
uranium”. The International Atomic
Energy Agency has denied this outright. He
has lied about an Iraqi “threat”, which he discovered only following
when Bush made
a gratuitous target of his “war on terror”.
dossier” has been mocked by human rights groups.
what is wonderful is that across the world the sheer force of public opinion
isolates Bush and Blair and their lemming, John Howard in
So few people believe them and support them that The Guardian this week
went in search of the few who do - “the hawks”.
The paper published a list of celebrity warmongers; some apparently shy
at describing their contortion of intellect and morality.
It is a small list.
contrast the majority of people in the West, including the
are now against this gruesome adventure and the numbers grow every day.
It is time MPs joined their constituents and reclaimed the true authority
of parliament. MPs like Tam Dalyell,
Alice Mahon, Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway have stood alone for too long on
this issue and there have been too many sham debates manipulated by
says, a majority of Labour backbenchers are against an attack, let them speak up
now. Blair’s fig leaf of a
“coalition” is very important to Bush and only the moral power of the
British people can bring the troops home without them firing a shot.
The consequences of not speaking out go well beyond an attack on
will effectively take over the
ensuring an age of terrorism other than their own.
The next American attack is likely to be
- the Israelis want this and their aircraft are already in place in
Then it may be
turn. “Endless war” is Vice-President Cheney’s contribution to our
has said he will use nuclear weapons “if necessary”.
On March 26 last Geoffrey Hoon said that other countries “can be
absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our
nuclear weapons”. Such madness is
the true enemy. What’s more, it is
right here at home and you, the British people, can stop it.
On Saturday, February 15 2003, a great demonstration
against an attack on
will be held in
Contact the Stop the War Coalition on 07951 235915 and