For years, the Blair government had been waging a propaganda offensive to soften us up for a war against Iraq headed by the Bush clique. Paddy Ashdown reports in his diaries on his conversations with the saucer-eyed Blair. Tony had seen "the intelligence about Saddam and what has happened to these weapons. I can tell you it's so scary I can't believe it." Got it in one, Tony - neither can we.
After the panic attack following 9/11, the obvious button to press in making the case for overthrow was Saddam Hussein's possible links with al-Qaeda. It would all be part of the 'war on terrorism'. The trouble was, there was no link. Saddam was a secular despot, not an Islamic loony. The best the coalition could come up with was that someone we'd never heard of (but who had links with Osama bin Laden) had an operation in Baghdad. Well, that was simply not scary enough.
So the whole 'war on terrorism' line was dropped, but the intention to invade Iraq remained. How to win over the doubters? The new justification was invented - Saddam Hussein's regime was part of an 'axis of evil' along with North Korea and Iran. None of these governments had anything in common except that George Bush didn't like them.
Saddam was said to be harbouring weapons of mass destruction. They were pointing straight at us and "could be activated within 45 minutes". 'Blimey', thought a lot of people, 'we'd better do something about him.'
There are countries that harbour weapons of mass destruction. Britain is one. But the biggest rogue state is the USA. The US has the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world. America won't sign the international conventions on chemical and biological warfare. Bush won't let in inspectors.
Across the pond, similar noises were being made about WMDs. As part of the drive to war, Condoleeza Rice wrote an article 'Why we know Iraq is lying'. Later she had to issue a retraction. "He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be next year". But this was the only reason given for the invasion. The article should be retitled, 'Why we know Condoleeza Rice is lying.'
The United Nations will support a war in two situations. The first is if war is approved by the Security Council. The second is the case of a country defending itself. In effect the Bush administration has stretched the notion of self-defence to breaking point with the concept of 'pre-emption'. This can be summarised as 'I thought he was going to hit me round the mouth so I laid him out first'. A common enough defence of aggression by thugs and American Presidents. The warmongers were unable to get the support even of a bribed and supine United Nations in the form of a second resolution for the policy of invasion. So they went ahead anyway
The Blair government backed up the case for war by publishing two dossiers, one in September 2002 and the second in February this year. In it they alleged that Saddam was a threat to world peace by developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The February dossier soon became the object of derision. Much of it had been nicked from a twelve year old PhD dissertation found on the internet. It is known universally as the dodgy dossier, but the September document is also a farrago of porkies. For instance it named a whole number of sites where chemical and biological weapons were allegedly being manufactured or stored. But these sites were visited by Hans Blix and the UNMOVIC team and pronounced 'clean'.
Why not give the weapons inspectors a chance? The aggressors had to declare war when they did so as to get hostilities over before the Iraqi summer, when the temperature gets up to 50 degrees celsius.
Where does this misinformation come from? Much of it comes from defectors. Defectors notoriously tell their new host government what they want to hear. Many of these defectors were pointed towards American 'intellegence' by Ahmed Chalabi, a man with a burning ambition to be the Vidkun Quisling of Iraq. Chalabi is a man of strong convictions. For one thing he has been convicted of fraud in Jordan, where he is due to serve twenty five years.
Most of the 'evidence' was accumulated by the CIA. But, as Newsweek pointed out, the problem was that "the agency was unable to tell the Bush administration what it wanted to hear." So Donald Rumsfeld, Bush's consigliore, set up a separate bunch of spies to come up with the goods - the Office of Special Plans.
Marxists don't have to defend the spooks - a sinister, undemocratic and counter-revolutionary bunch - but their evidence has been traduced by politicians eager for any excuse for a war. Blair was banging away last September that Saddam "has existing and active military for the use of chemical and biological weapons which could be activated within 45 minutes." Meanwhile Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff was warning him behind the scenes that "we will need to make it clear in launching the (dossier) that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat."
Even the Bush regime has fallen out with Blair on the allegation that Saddam approached Niger for uranium for nuclear weapons. The 'evidence' is a known forgery.
Anyway, they got what they wanted. Iraq was invaded. Iraq Body Count reckons between 7,000 and 8,600 Iraqi civilians died, more than twice the number of victims of 9/11. But for some, it was a dream come true. Kenneth Derr, boss of Chevron oil, admitted, "Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas - reserves I'd love Chevron to have access to." Now he has.
So why didn't Saddam use weapons of mass destruction to defend his regime? The obvious answer is because he didn't have any.
Blair's position was different. Saddam was so cunning that we'd have to invade first. That would be the only way to get the evidence. "On weapons of mass destruction, we know that the regime has them, and we know that, as the regime collapses, we will be led to them." (Tony Blair, April 8, 2003)
Now Iraq is prostrate, an ideal time to make that search and justify the invasion. But suddenly it's not so important. "We have only just begun the process of investigating all the various sites…it is not the most urgent priority now for us since Saddam has gone" (Tony Blair, May 30, 2003). A few half hearted attempts have been made to convince us that the government was serious. Remember that picture of a 'thing' the government said stored chemical weapons. For most of us it might as well have been a hot dog stall. But Dr. Kelly identified it as a harmless bit of kit.
Such is the contempt Cabinet ministers hold the electorate in that they lie unnecessarily about things they're bound to be caught out at. Jack Straw opined, on the search for WMDs, that it would be a long slog "because Iraq is a country twice the size of France". Anyone with an atlas can establish that Iraq is smaller than France. And isn't it amazing that they managed to find a bit of paper (in Arabic) 'incriminating' George Galloway within twenty four hours of arriving - but they can't find WMDs?
This war was not a part of the war on terrorism. It was not to destroy WMDs. The war actually started in summer 2002, according to Lieutenant General Michael Moseley of the invading armies. Using the pretext of defending the 'no-fly zones', Britain and America were taking out strategic targets. Before even approaching the United Nations and before detailing the alleged crimes of Saddam Hussein in the dossiers, these powers knew that they were going to invade Iraq - whatever the excuse.
Saddam Hussein was a nasty piece of work. His prescribed method of execution for Marxists was to throw them into an acid bath. But (as Eisenhower said of the dictator Somoza in Nicaragua) to the capitalist class he was a sonofabitch, but he was their sonofabitch. Even after he was convicted in the eyes of the world with gassing thousands of Kurds indiscriminately, Britain found it profitable to continue arms deals with Saddam. Between 1980 and 1990 we advanced Iraq £3 ½ billion in trade credits to buy our weaponry. (When the first Gulf War broke out Saddam reneged on his debts and the British taxpayer took the hit.) As the Scott Inquiry revealed, arms dealers were making money out of the vile regime well into the 1990s.
In 1983 Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary for 'Defense' in the Bush government, and fellow Republican millionaire Schulz went to Baghdad to negotiate the Aqaba pipeline. Photos show the monsters smiling and laughing together.
To the victors belong the spoils. The US Department of Commerce states, "Business opportunities in Iraq are presently limited to US government reconstruction contracts outlined in this guide, issued mainly by USAID and the Dept of Defense". This is a diplomatic way of saying that Iraq has been stitched up like a kipper and all the reconstruction contracts have been scooped by a coterie of firms stuffed with Republican bigwigs who just happen to be friends of George W. Bush. The biggest winner ($680 million contract), Bechtel, has Schulz (former cabinet minister with George Bush senior) on board. Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root are also in the lolly. They still pay vice-President Cheney a bung of $180,000 a year. Money well spent! The American invaders may argue they can't understand Arabic, but they certainly seem to know the concept of baksheesh! The big four - Bechtel, Fluor, Parsons and Halliburton - made political contributions of $2.64 million between 1999 and 2002. What a coincidence!
The infrastructure in Iraq is knackered. No water, no electricity - all in temperatures of 50 degrees. So you'd think the occupiers would welcome the initiative of a firm re-opening the mobile phone network. You'd be wrong. The firm was Lebanese. The occupying authority decided this gave it an unfair advantage over the competition, who just happened to be American. So all the phones went silent again.
How is reconstruction to be paid for? Oil revenues are not going to recover to pre-1991 levels any time soon. They'll lag behind the estimated $13 billion a year needed to get Iraq back on its feet. So the occupiers are suggesting 'securitisation' of future oil receipts. In plain English this means putting Iraq's oil wealth in hock for ever to the invaders, who have left the country in ruins
Some of the US administration are cynical enough to come clean. Wolfowitz says they had to allege the existence of WMDs "for bureaucratic reasons." In other words they were going to invade anyway. Any excuse would do. Wolfowitz, by the way, is one of the many 'chickenhawks' in the US government. That means he dodged the draft, but delights in sending others to their deaths far from home.
But this won't do for Tony Blair. Tony is 'sincere'. Actually Blair is to sincerity what Meg Ryan is to the female orgasm.
So the whole Campbell-BBC ruck is a massive smokescreen. Blair lied to get us into an illegal imperialist war. The government published dossiers on weapons of mass destruction when there were no weapons of mass destruction. Who cares whether Campbell or some other Blairite crawler put this muck together? The point is to get rid of Blair and the other pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist liars who are leading us up the garden path.