Tony Blair's "dossier" on Iraq is a shocking document. Reading it can only
fill a decent human being with shame and outrage. Its pages are final proof
if the contents are true that a massive crime against humanity has been
committed in Iraq. For if the details of Saddam's building of weapons of mass
destruction are correct and I will come to the "ifs" and "buts" and "coulds"
later it means that our massive, obstructive, brutal policy of UN sanctions
has totally failed. In other words, half a million Iraqi children were killed
by us for nothing.
Let's go back to 12 May 1996. Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State,
had told us that sanctions worked and prevented Saddam from rebuilding weapons
of mass destruction (WMD). Our Tory government agreed, and Tony Blair faithfully
toed the line. But on 12 May, Mrs Albright appeared on CBS television. Leslie
Stahl, the interviewer, asked: "We have heard that half a million children have
died. I mean, that's more than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price
worth it?" To the world's astonishment, Mrs Albright replied: "I think this is
a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it."
Now we know if Mr Blair is telling us the truth that the price
was not worth it. The price was paid in the lives of hundreds of thousands of
children. But it wasn't worth a dime. The Blair "dossier" tells us that, despite
sanctions, Saddam was able to go on building weapons of mass destruction. All
that nonsense about dual-use technology, the ban on children's pencils
because lead could have a military use and our refusal to allow Iraq to
import equipment to restore the water-treatment plants that we bombed in the Gulf
War, was a sham.
This terrible conclusion is the only moral one to be drawn from the 16 pages
that supposedly detail the chemical, biological and nuclear horrors that the Beast
of Baghdad has in store for us. It's difficult, reading the full report, to know
whether to laugh or cry. The degree of deceit and duplicity in its production
speaks of the trickery that informs the Blair government and its treatment of
There are a few tidbits that ring true. The new ammonium perchlorate plant
illegally supplied by an Indian company which breached those wonderful
UN sanctions, of course is a frightening little detail. So is the new rocket
test stand at the al-Rafah plant. But this material is so swamped in trickery
and knavery that its inclusion becomes worthless.
Here is one example of the dishonesty of this "dossier". On page 45, we are
told in a long chapter about Saddam's human rights abuses that "on
March 1st, 1991, in the wake of the Gulf War, riots (sic) broke out in the southern
city of Basra, spreading quickly to other cities in Shia-dominated southern Iraq.
The regime responded by killing thousands". What's wrong with this paragraph is
the lie is in the use of the word "riots". These were not riots. They were part
of a mass rebellion specifically called for by President Bush Jr's father and
by a CIA radio station in Saudi Arabia. The Shia Muslims of Iraq obeyed Mr Bush
Sr's appeal. And were then left to their fate by the Americans and British, who
they had been given every reason to believe would come to their help. No wonder
they died in their thousands. But that's not what the Blair "dossier" tells us.
And anyone reading the weasel words of doubt that are insinuated throughout
this text can only have profound concern about the basis for which Britain is
to go to war. The Iraqi weapon program"is almost certainly" seeking to enrich
uranium. It "appears" that Iraq is attempting to acquire a magnet production line.
There is evidence that Iraq has tried to acquire specialized aluminum tubes (used
in the enrichment of uranium) but "there is no definitive intelligence" that it
is destined for a nuclear program"If" Iraq obtained fissile material, Iraq could
produce nuclear weapons in one or two years. It is "difficult to judge" whether
al-Hussein missiles could be available for use. Efforts to regenerate the Iraqi
missile program"probably" began in 1995. And so the "dossier" goes on.
Now maybe Saddam has restarted his WMD program Let's all say it out loud, 20
times: Saddam is a brutal, wicked tyrant. But are "almost certainly", "appears",
"probably" and "if" really the rallying call to send our grenadiers off to the
deserts of Kut-al-Amara?
There is high praise for UN weapons inspectors. And there is more trickery
in the relevant chapter. It quotes Dr Hans Blix, the executive chairman of the
UN inspection commission, as saying that in the absence of (post-1998) inspections,
it is impossible to verify Iraqi disarmament compliance. But on 18 August this
year, the very same Dr Blix told Associated Press that he couldn't say with certainty
that Baghdad possessed WMDs. This quotation is excised from the Blair "dossier",
So there it is. If these pages of trickery are based on "probably" and "if",
we have no business going to war. If they are all true, we murdered half a million
Iraqi children. How's that for a war crime?
© 2002 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd