Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 1887

Up in flames: the credibility of the whole political establishment

This article is over 20 years, 5 months old
GLEN RANGWALA is a politics lecturer at Newnham College, Cambridge. He exposed the government's February 2003 dossier as based on a student's outdated thesis. He spoke at an anti-war meeting the day the Hutton report was released.
Issue 1887

I’M CONSIGNING the Hutton report to my stock of dodgy dossiers. I want to go over the lies the government told to show that this wasn’t just about one report by the BBC. The whole government case for the war on Iraq was flawed. After 11 September 2001, to get support for the war in Afghanistan, Tony Blair said in Oman, ‘There will be no war on Iraq unless we show there is conclusive evidence that links it with 11 September.’

Geoff Hoon told journalists, ‘This is not a prelude to a wider war. Our objectives are linked solely to the events of 11 September. There is no evidence linking Iraq to the events of 11 September.’ The government is now saying we’ve got our objectives limited to Iraq, to removing weapons of mass destruction.

Tony Blair said on 3 April 2002, ‘We know that Saddam has stockpiles of major amounts of chemical and biological weapons.’ Jack Straw said, ‘Iraq poses a threat to the world because of its manufacture and development of weapons of mass destruction.’

They went into Iraq in March last year claiming to expect to find the weapons right there, waiting for them. Soldiers have been sent in with their chemical protection suits and they have found there’s nothing there.

So they started changing their story. Tony Blair wrote in the News of the World, ‘But for this military action Saddam Hussein and his sons would still be in absolute control, free to continue the butchery and repression of their people.’ He began justifying the war in human rights terms.

Then they claim they haven’t found the weapons yet, but they will find them. They sent in a group of Americans led by David Kay. For the last 12 years Kay staked his reputation on the claim that Iraq had a major stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, and was developing nuclear weapons. Kay said, ‘We’re not going to find a smoking gun-we’re going to find a smoking arsenal.’ Those were his words.

Eight months later he resigned saying that he doesn’t believe there are any weapons in Iraq. Anyone who’s been to Iraq in the last couple of months will have seen the walls lined with slogans. They say, ‘Death to the Americans’, ‘Americans go home’. Donald Rumsfeld said, ‘Over a certain period of months Iraqis will have their people selected by the Iraqi people.’

Then they start saying if the Iraqis do get a vote they might actually choose somebody who’s popular in Iraq, and that would be somebody who essentially doesn’t like us.

Patricia Hewitt made a big thing at the time of the conflict how this was going to be a big thing in bringing liberation for the women of Iraq. The people in power are allied with fundamentalist parties. They dominate the interim governing council that the US has installed. They brought in a decree in December annulling female rights in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, matters of child custody.

Tony Blair said he was going to bring in the United Nations to run Iraq after the invasion. There hasn’t been a single UN member of staff in Iraq in the last few months. Tony Blair said, ‘The oil revenues which people falsely claimed we wanted to seize should be put in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN.’

That’s rubbish. The US and Britain are making decisions about the Iraqi economy. They’re allowing Iraq’s oil revenues to be used to give massive contracts to US companies. The government’s lies have been exposed.

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