Wednesday, 3 December 2003

Bush And Blair Are In Trouble

by John Pilger

Shortly before the disastrous Bush visit to Britain, Tony Blair was at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. It was an unusual glimpse of a state killer whose effete respectability has gone. His perfunctory nod to "the glorious dead" came from a face bleak with guilt. As William Howard Russell of the Times wrote of another prime minister responsible for the carnage in the Crimea, "He carries himself like one with blood on his hands." Having shown his studied respect to the Queen, whose prerogative allowed him to commit his crime in Iraq, Blair hurried away. "Sneak home and pray you'll never know," wrote Siegfried Sassoon in 1917, "The hell where youth and laughter go."

Blair must know his game is over. Bush's reception in Britain demonstrated that; and the CIA has now announced that the Iraqi resistance is "broad, strong and getting stronger", with numbers estimated at 50,000. "We could lose this situation," says a report to the White House. The goal now is to "plan the endgame".

Their lying has finally become satire. Bush told David Frost that the world really had to change its attitude about Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons because they were "very advanced". My personal favourite is Donald Rumsfeld's assessment. "The message," he said, "is that there are known knowns - there are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns - that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns ... things we do not know we don't know. And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns."

An unprecedented gathering of senior American intelligence officers, diplomats and former Pentagon officials met in Washington the other day to say, in the words of Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and friend of Bush's father: "Now we know that no other president of the United States has ever lied so baldly and so often and so demonstrably ... The presumption now has to be that he's lying any time that he's saying anything."

And Blair and his foreign secretary dare to suggest that the millions who have rumbled the Bush gang are "fashionably anti-American". An instructive example of their own mendacity was demonstrated recently by Jack Straw. On BBC Radio 4, defending Bush and Washington's doctrine of "preventive war", Straw told the interviewer: "Article 51 [of the United Nations Charter], to which you referred earlier - you said it only allows for self-defence. It actually goes more widely than that because it talks about the right of states to take what is called 'preventive action'."

Straw's every word was false, an invention. Article 51 does not refer to "the right of states to take preventive action" or anything similar. Nowhere in the UN Charter is there any such reference. Article 51 refers only to "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs" and goes on to constrain that right further. Moreover, the UN Charter was so framed as to outlaw any state's claimed right to preventive war.

In other words, the Foreign Secretary fabricated a provision of the UN Charter which does not exist, then broadcast it as fact. When Straw does speak the truth, it causes panic. The other day, he admitted that Bush had shut him out of critical talks in Washington with Paul Bremer, the US viceroy in Iraq. Straw said he was "not party to the talks, not a party to his [Bremer's] return visit". The Foreign Office transcript of this leaves out that Straw had complained that "the UK and US [are] literally the occupying powers, and we have to meet those responsibilities". The US disregard for its principal vassal has never been clearer.

Both are now desperate. The Bush regime's panic is reflected in its adoption of Israeli revenge tactics, using F-16 aircraft to drop 500lb bombs on residential areas called "suspect zones". They are also burning crops: another Israeli tactic. The parallels are now Palestine and Vietnam; more Americans have died in Iraq than in the first three years of the Vietnam war.

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