Friday, 23 May 2003

Of Blair, Hussein & Genocide

Britain's Prime Minister Blair has now claimed that the war in Iraq was justified by the discovery of mass graves. The ugly truth is that mass graves have become pretty common things since the beginning of the twentieth century, although many of the world's most savage and horrific acts left no such evidence, as in the case of America's napalming, carpet-bombing and throat-cutting millions in Vietnam.

No one can be genuinely surprised to learn that a dictator kills people, especially those who rebel against him, but no one should slip into shabby abuse of the word genocide as many reporters do and as politicians like Blair are happy to allow them to do. Genocide is the effort to destroy a whole class or kind of people, not the killing of a group of rebels or enemies.

Of course, we've not seen even a modest discovery of the weapons of mass destruction Mr. Blair went on and on about for months to justify the invasion of a country that was threatening no other country. Blair went through several iterations of producing what were called dossiers, although they proved utterly unconvincing, with no genuine evidence. There was what proved to be a cribbed graduate-student paper used on one of his supposedly top-secret intelligence efforts.

Once, Blair frantically asserted that Hussein could mount an attack with chemical or biological weapons within 48 hours. Although one must concede this in no way surpasses the grossness in lying of Colin Powell's solemn recitation about satellite photos of actual components for chemical and biological warfare.

There was that phony study by an institute in Britain, given great publicity by Blair's government, claiming Hussein could build an atomic bomb in a very short time. There was a phony biography of Hussein, done by another Englishman, making the same claim. There were the phony papers that surfaced in Italy about Iraqi transactions to buy uranium. And then there were the genuinely-qualified experts, the UN weapons inspectors, who were not allowed to do their jobs.

So I suppose after all that, plus a great many awkward lies stumbled over by President Bush, Blair would feel under some obligation to find a reason for a rash, unjustified war, even if it is on an ex post facto basis.

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