Thursday, 23 September 2004

MPs can end the Iraq folly

Ok, here's how we sort things out; we impeach and jail that nasty warmongering Tony and make this nice fluffy one Prime Minister, then we give him a free-hand to reorganise the government!

by Tony Benn

At the moment when the prime minister has announced his decision to intensify the war in Iraq and when more British troops may well be sent there, the time has come for new policies to be adopted since we know, in great detail, all the key facts from very authoritative sources.

We know from Paul O'Neill, George Bush's first treasury secretary, that the new president took the decision to invade Iraq when he entered the White House - almost a year before the attack on the twin towers - and that no one in Washington orLondon really ever believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the atrocity.

The real reason for the invasion was to topple Saddam, seize the oil and establish permanent US bases to dominate the region. And we know that Tony Blair privately shared these objectives, and used the weapons issue to persuade parliament and public.

We also know, from the recent report of the Iraq Survey Group, that Baghdad did not possess weapons of mass destruction. Neither the president nor the prime minister has been concerned to discover that they misled their own people and the world on this question. And it has not led them to reassess their arguments for going to war.

No serious thought was given by Washington or London as to the likely consequences of the war and what policies should be pursued after the war was won. The warnings they received that an occupation might lead to chaos were dismissed out of hand.

Many Iraqis held in detention have been tortured and abused by the forces of those who argued that they were there to stop those very practices, introduce democracy and safeguard human rights. And no attempt has been made to count the number of Iraqis killed or injured, which reveals a complete failure of respect.

The supposed transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government has now been proved to be illusory, since Ayad Allawi has about as much sovereign control as Fidel Castro has over Guantánamo bay, where the US base remains against the will of the Cuban government.

Kofi Annan, as secretary general of the UN, has now told us that that war was illegal and contrary to the provisions of the charter - which only provides for military action in self-defence or when authorised by the security council - which must mean that those Iraqis now defending their own country are acting within the law.

Yet, at this very moment, we are hearing threats issued against Iran for its nuclear programme, not least from Israel, which has a huge nuclear arsenal and might even repay its debt to Bush by bombing the Iranian nuclear plants, as it did to an Iraqi installation in 1981.


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