Monday, 11 July 2005

Lest We Forget; These Were Blair's Bombs

by John Pilger

In all the coverage of last week's bombing of London, a basic truth is struggling to be heard. It is this: no one doubts the atrocious inhumanity of those who planted the bombs, but no one should also doubt that this has been coming since the day Tony Blair joined George Bush in their bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are "Blair's bombs", and he ought not be allowed to evade culpability with yet another unctuous speech about "our way of life", which his own rapacious violence in other countries has despoiled.

Indeed, the only reliable warning from British intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq was that which predicted a sharp increase in terrorism "with Britain and Britons a target". A House of Commons committee has since verified this warning. Had Blair heeded it instead of conspiring to deceive the nation that Iraq offered a threat the Londoners who died on Thursday might be alive today, along with tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Three weeks ago, a classified CIA report revealed that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq had turned that country into a focal point of terrorism. None of the intelligence agencies regarded Iraq as such a flashpoint before the invasion, however tyrannical the regime. On the contrary, in 2003, the CIA reported that Iraq "exported no terrorist threat to his neighbours" and that Saddam Hussein was "implacably hostile to Al-Qaeda".

Blair's and Bush's invasion changed all that. In invading a stricken and defenceless country at the heart of the Islamic and Arab world, their adventure became self-fulfilling; Blair's epic irresponsibility has brought the daily horrors of Iraq home to Britain. For more than a year, he has urged the British to "move on" from Iraq, and last week it seemed that his spinmeisters and good fortune had joined hands. The awarding of the 2012 Olympics to London created the fleeting illusion that all was well, regardless of messy events in a faraway country.

Moreover, the G8 meeting in Scotland and its accompanying "Make Poverty History" campaign and circus of celebrities served as a temporary cover for what is arguably the greatest political scandal of modern times: an illegal, brutal and craven invasion conceived in lies and which, under the system of international law established at Nuremberg, represented a "paramount war crime".

Over the past two weeks, the contrast between the coverage of the G8, its marches and pop concerts, and another "global" event has been striking. The World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul has had virtually no coverage, yet the evidence it has produced, the most damning to date, has been the silent spectre at the Geldoff extravaganzas.

The tribunal is a serious international public inquiry into the invasion and occupation, the kind governments dare not hold. Its expert, eyewitness testimonies, said the author Arundathi Roy, a tribunal jury member, "demonstrate that even those of us who have tried to follow the war closely are not aware of a fraction of the horrors that have been unleashed in Iraq." The most shocking was given by Dahr Jamail, one of the best un-embedded reporters working in Iraq. He described how the hospitals of besieged Fallujah had been subjected to an American tactic of collective punishment, with US marines assaulting staff and stopping the wounded entering, and American snipers firing at the doors and windows, and medicines and emergency blood prevented from reaching them. Children, the elderly, were shot dead in front of their families, in cold blood.

Imagine for a moment the same appalling state of affairs imposed on the London hospitals that received the victims of Thursday's bombing. Unimaginable? Well, it happens, in our name, regardless of whether the BBC reports it, which is rare. When will someone ask about this at one of the staged "press conferences" at which Blair is allowed to emote for the cameras stuff about "our values outlast [ing] theirs"? Silence is not journalism. In Fallujah, they know "our values" only too well.

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