THE US and British governments churned out a barrage of claims to justify war over the last week. US Secretary of State Colin Powell marshalled his case speaking to the United Nations. The British government produced yet another dossier. Barely had Powell finished speaking and the British document been published before much of their ‘evidence’ fell apart.
The bulk of the British dossier was copied wholesale from an academic paper published last September in the Middle East Review of International Affairs. The article was written by Ibrahim al-Marashi, an Iraqi exile who is now a postgraduate student in the US.
His article is based on documents captured after the 1991 Gulf War It deals with things that happened at least 12 years ago. That did not stop Tony Blair’s officials simply copying thousands of words from Ibrahim al-Marashi’s thesis, complete with punctuation and grammatical mistakes. They then presented the document as damning ‘intelligence’ evidence.
‘This is wholesale deception,’ said al-Marashi. ‘How can the British public trust the government if it is up to these sorts of tricks?’ Blair’s officials also changed the wording and figures in an attempt to bolster their case.
The original thesis talked of how, over a decade ago, Iraq had been ‘aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes’. Blair’s officials changed this to ‘supporting terrorist organisations’.
Much of the rest of Blair’s dossier was copied from two articles published in 1997 in the freely available military magazine Jane’s Intelligence Review. The original articles were written by journalist Sean Boyne.
He was outraged at how Blair’s government had used his work. ‘I don’t like to think that anything I wrote has been used for an argument for war,’ he said. ‘I am against the war.’
Blair’s shabby dossier was hailed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in his speech to the United Nations. Powell said, ‘I would call my colleagues’ attention to the fine paper that the United Kingdom has distributed.’
Labour MP Glenda Jackson told the truth about Blair’s dossier when she said that the government was ‘lying’. Bush and Blair want war at any price.
They are demanding that Iraq hands over any weapons it may use to defend itself from invading US and British forces. Socialist Worker does not know whether Iraq has any of the weapons the US and Britain claim it has.
But we do know that this is a pretext to hide Bush and Blair’s real aim. That aim is regime change in Iraq and the installation of a pro-Western regime which will dominate the oil supplies of the Middle East and send a global message about US power.
COLIN Powell’s translated tape transcripts used at the UN last week brought raised eyebrows from people who know the Middle East well. Journalist Robert Fisk is the most authoritative reporter on the region.
He wrote after Powell’s performance, ‘I am still waiting to hear the Arabic for the State Department’s translation of ‘Okay, buddy. Consider it done’-this from the Republican Guard’s ‘Captain Ibrahim’ for heaven’s sake.’ Fisk also pointed out that some of the pictures Powell produced were not what they seemed.
‘A dramatic picture of a pilotless Iraqi aircraft capable of spraying poison chemicals turned out to be the imaginative work of a Pentagon artist.’ Powell insisted there has been ‘decades’ of contact between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaida.
As Fisk noted, ‘Al Qaida only came into existence five years ago, since Bin Laden ‘decades’ ago was working against the Russians and for the CIA, whose present-day director was sitting behind Powell.’
Powell went on to hold up what he said could have been a sample of the anthrax toxin, while talking about the 2001 anthrax attacks in the US. His implication-that there was a link between the Iraqi regime and those anthrax attacks-was clear.
Even the US government officially admits there is no such link, and the most likely suspects are home-grown Americans.
COLIN POWELL’S performance at the United Nations was meant to sound authoritative, with tape transcripts, satellite images and theatrical gestures. Behind the smoke and mirrors was little real substance, and plenty of lies. At the centre of Powell’s performance were claims about chemical and biological weapons production facilities in Iraq.
Similar claims were made in dossiers published by Britain and the US last year. Bush and Blair have now quietly forgotten the sites listed in those dossiers. Hans von Sponeck is a former UN weapons inspector. He explains, ‘The inspectors have found nothing that was in the Bush and Blair dossiers of last September. ‘What happened to them? They are totally embarrassed by them.’ Blair’s dossier last year listed ‘facilities of concern’ in Iraq.
Among them were the ‘Castor Oil Production Plant at Fallujah’, which was suggested could be used to produce the poison ricin. The dossier also claimed that a ‘foot and mouth vaccine’ centre at ‘Al Dawrah’ could be used for biological weapons.
Hans von Sponeck says of these plants, ‘In 2002 I saw them and they were destroyed. There was nothing. All that was left were shells of buildings.’ Colin Powell also claimed a link between an Islamist group, Ansar al Islam, operating in the Kurdish controlled region of northern Iraq, and Al Qaida. Powell produced pictures claiming that one of the group’s camps was a ‘poison factory’.
Last weekend a group of 20 journalists visited the camp. The Observer’s Luke Harding was among the journalists. He wrote, ‘The terrorist factory was nothing of the kind, more a dilapidated collection of concrete outbuildings. There is a bakery. There is no sign of chemical weapons, only the smell of paraffin and vegetable butter used for cooking. In the kitchen I discovered some chopped-up tomatoes but not much else.’
BUSH AND Blair say Iraq is the ‘rogue state’ of the Middle East, which threatens its neighbours with weapons of mass destruction. After a decade of sanctions Iraq is a weak state which is not capable of seriously threatening anyone.
There is a rogue state in the region which does threaten its neighbours with weapons of mass destruction. It is Israel.
Israel has defied more United Nations resolutions than any other state. It still occupies the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip in direct defiance of UN resolutions.
Yet neither Bush nor Blair suggest war on Israel to enforce UN resolutions. Instead the US and Britain continue to arm, finance and support the Israeli regime.
Bush and Blair say Saddam Hussein is a monster who has invaded his neighbours. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon is a war criminal. He has repeatedly led military forces into almost all of Israel’s neighbouring countries.
Sharon was even condemned by an official Israeli inquiry as ‘responsible’ for the massacre of thousands of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon.
Israel is also the one state in the region which definitely does have nuclear weapons. It has warheads aimed at every capital city across the Arab world. Bush and Blair say nothing about this.
Last week Israeli forces added to the thousands of Palestinians they have already murdered in the last two years. Israeli soldiers shot two nurses dead in cold blood in a geriatric hospital. Yet Blair and Bush said nothing.
If two nurses had been killed by Saddam Hussein’s forces in Baghdad this would have been used to justify war to overthrow a brutal regime. The US and Britain dare to claim they are fighting to restore democracy in Iraq. That is the biggest lie of all. They have never cared about democracy there or anywhere else in the region.
The US and Britain supported, armed and financed Saddam Hussein for years in the 1980s. Bush and Blair care nothing for Israel trampling on the democratic and human rights of an entire people in Palestine.
And they are ready to prop up a string of regimes across the Middle East, from the Gulf States to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, none of which have any real democracy.
Keir Starmer's Thatcher praising speech