Thursday, 26 September 2002

The dishonesty of this so-called dossier

by Robert Fisk

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.

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