confirms Blair’s big lie …
Christopher Meyer was John Major’s
Press Secretary in the1990s and British Ambassador to Washington from 1997 to early
2003. He retired a few weeks before the
US/UK invaded Iraq. His recently published memoirs are now notorious
for having “revealed” that he regularly held early morning meetings with John
Major in his bedroom and/or bathroom, when Major was in a state of undress.
Our Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw,
purported to be outraged by this “revelation”, which had already been
“revealed” in The Goldfish Bowl: Married
to the Prime Minister 1955-1997 by Cherie Booth and Cate
Haste (p252). The Foreign Secretary’s
outrage is difficult to take seriously when the Prime Minister has already
profited from the “revelation”, a fact that he has acknowledged by declaring
the royalties from his wife’s book in the House of Commons register of members’
interests (see here).
Perhaps, the Foreign Secretary’s
“outrage” was manufactured in order to divert attention from a rather more
serious “revelation” by Meyer. This was
that the Prime Minister lied continually to the British public in the year
before the invasion of Iraq and that the Foreign Secretary
went along with the lie. He and the
Prime Minister pretended to the British public that the Government’s objective
was the disarmament of Iraq in accordance with
Security Council resolutions, and not regime change. In reality, the Prime Minister had pledged
his support to President Bush for regime change at least a year before the
This was evident from official
documents from March 2002 and the Downing Street memo, leaked to
journalist Michael Smith (see Daily Telegraph, 18
September 2004 and Sunday Times, 1 May
2005; details of documents are here). It is now confirmed in Meyer’s memoirs. Writing about the period leading up to
Blair's visit to Crawford in April 2002, Meyer says:
“By this stage, Tony
Blair had already taken the decision to support regime change, though he was
discreet about saying so in public.” (p 241)
So discreet was he that he lied and
said that he wasn’t committed to regime change, merely to disarmament, and
that, if disarmament happened, regime change wouldn’t.
Perhaps, Meyer’s most telling
revelation is in his account of Colin Powell’s persuading George Bush to “take
the UN route” in the autumn of 2002, and Jack Straw’s contribution to
this. Meyer writes:
“One of Powell’s
arguments was that Britain needed UN cover. Jack Straw, who had built a solid
relationship with Powell, had made this point in spades.” (p 250)
You only need “cover” if you are
hiding your real intentions. In this
instance, “UN cover” was required to dress up regime change as
disarmament. Plan A was to get the
Security Council to demand that weapons inspectors be admitted to Iraq, on terms that Saddam
Hussein couldn’t accept, and use his refusal as an excuse for invading Iraq and overthrowing his
regime. As Meyer wrote:
“If he refused, this
would not only put him in the wrong but also turn the searchlight onto the
Security Council Resolutions of which he remained in breach.” (p 243)
However, the terms laid down in
Security Council resolution 1441 were, thanks to France, insufficiently onerous
to elicit the refusal from Iraq that the US/UK
desired. They had to make do with the
ill-defined proposition that Iraq wasn’t co-operating with
the UN weapons inspectors, a proposition that only 2 other members of the
15-member Security Council agreed with in March 2003. The “UN cover” that Blair and Straw sought
turned out to be see-through.
For a detailed account of all this, see my pamphlet
(published December 2005)
The Prime Minister flew to Basra on 22 December 2005 in order to provide the media with
opportunities to take Christmas photographs of him with troops. The media duly got their photographs and in
return reported as fact the pretence that the Prime Minister had travelled to
Basra to thank the troops.
No doubt hundreds of thousands of
pounds of taxpayers’ money was spent on this Blair promotion exercise, but the
media suspended their legendary inquisitiveness about these things for the
occasion because they got their pictures.
Had the poor bloody infantry been
asked if they wished to be “thanked” by the Prime Minister in person, it’s a
fair bet that they would have been prepared to forgo the privilege – and the
hours of spit and polish that preceded it and the extra duty required to
protect him and his entourage – and make do with a video.
(Isn’t it strange how the Prime
Minister never seeks photo opportunities with troops who have lost body parts
in one of his many wars?)
The Prime Minister’s message to the
troops was that they were doing “important” work bringing democracy to Iraq:
importance of this probably is greater today than it has ever been, because if Iraq does stabilise and
become a democracy, then the region is more safe, the wider world is more safe,
our own country is more safe because international terrorism will be dealt a
huge body blow. …”
Wisely, the Prime Minister didn’t
tell the troops that Iraq was free from
“international terrorism” prior to the US/UK invasion of Iraq. Nor did he mention that he had been warned by
the intelligence services prior to the invasion that the threat from al-Qaeda and associated groups would be heightened by military action against Iraq. He was warned in a Joint Intelligence
Committee assessment entitled International
Terrorism: War with Iraq dated10 February 2003 (which was made public by the
Intelligence & Security Committee in its report
Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction –
Intelligence and Assessments (paragraphs 125-8) published in September 2003).
Understandably, the Prime Minister
omitted to tell the House of Commons about this intelligence before it voted
for military action on 18 March 2003, lest its enthusiasm for
military action be tempered. Nor did he
tell the House of Commons about another aspect of the same JIC assessment,
which warned that “any collapse of the Iraqi regime would increase the
risk of chemical and
biological warfare technology or agents [remember them?] finding
their way into the hands of terrorists, not necessarily al-Qaida”.
Today, it you look at the MI5
website here, you will
find that our domestic intelligence services are of the opinion that military
action against Iraq has indeed
increased the threat to Britain from al-Qaeda and related groups.
Under the heading Threat to the UK
from International Terrorism, MI5 says:
they have a range of aspirations and ‘causes’, Iraq is a
dominant issue for a range of extremist groups and individuals in the UK and Europe.
Some individuals who support the insurgency are known to have travelled to Iraq in
order to fight against coalition forces. In the longer term, it is possible
that they may later return to the UK and
consider mounting attacks here.”
The Prime Minister has
got 98 British troops killed and spent billions of pounds in military action
which increased the threat to Britain –
leading to the expenditure of more millions in attempting (unsuccessfully) to
protect British civilians from the increased threat. It’s a veritable foreign policy triumph for
the Prime Minister.
But, says the Prime
Minister, we are bringing democracy to Iraq and
that will make the whole world safer. To
repeat his words to the troops:
“… if Iraq does stabilise
and become a democracy, then the region is more safe, the wider world is more
safe, our own country is more safe because international terrorism will be
dealt a huge body blow.”
It is difficult to follow the logic
of this, as is the case with much that comes out of the Prime Minister’s mouth.
The Prime Minister must know that
the presence of foreign Jihadists in Iraq – and the fact that Iraq has become “a dominant issue for a range of extremist groups and individuals
in the UK and Europe” (to
quote MI5) – is a consequence of the US/UK invasion and occupation. One doesn’t have to be opposed to the
occupation to recognise this. Lt
General John McColl was the British Military
Representative and deputy commander of the occupation forces in Iraq in 2004. Giving evidence to the Defence Select
Committee on 2 February 2005, he said:
“I think that, as long as
there is a significant Western presence in Iraq, we will continue to see
significant Jihadist activity.”
It follows logically from
this that a necessary condition for reducing the presence of foreign Jihadists in Iraq – and reducing the impact of Iraqi issue
as a recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda world wide – is
to end the occupation of Iraq (which would, of course, end the Sunni insurgency
as well). The presence of Western forces
has attracted Jihadists into Iraq, not
lack of democracy.
Democracy only for enemies
Bringing democracy to Iraq is
the current “justification” advanced by the US/UK for the invasion and
occupation. It is a striking fact that
democracy is noticeable by its absence from the states whose territory the
US/UK relied upon for the military operations against Iraq –
and there doesn’t appear to be any sense of urgency in Washington or London for
bringing democracy to these states.
The ground war was
launched from Kuwait,
which is ruled by the al-Sabah family. True, there is some form of elected National
Assembly, but the franchise is very limited – only 10% of all citizens are eligible to vote. Command and control of
military operations was carried out from the US Central Command base in Qatar,
which is ruled by the al-Thani family. The US Navy’s headquarters in the Persian
Gulf is in Bahrain,
which is ruled by the al-Khalifa family.
(The CIA World Fact
book is an excellent source of information about the governance of these
states – and of every other state in the world).
Saudi Arabia has kept quiet about
its assistance to the US/UK in their military action against Iraq, but Bob
Woodward records, in his book Plan of
Attack, that in November 2002 Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador in
Washington, offered “every military assistance to the US” in overthrowing
Saddam Hussein (p228). It is generally
accepted that Saudi Arabia is not a democracy.
Another essential base
for operations in Iraq was
the island of Diego
Garcia, which is part of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian
When the US air
and naval base was built there, Britain
forcibly removed the indigenous people, not just from Diego Garcia itself, but
from the Chagos Archipelago as a whole. In all, about 2,000 people were removed. In June 2004, at a time when the US/UK were
using the facilities on Diego Garcia to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq,
the UK Government employed the Royal Prerogative – a relic of absolute monarchy
– to overturn a 2000 UK High Court order granting the islanders the right to
return to the Archipelago. So much for freedom and democracy for Chagos
One could be forgiven for
thinking that the US/UK crusade to bring freedom and democracy to the world is
only applicable to states that aren’t subservient to the US/UK.
Opinion polls in Iraq
Before the Iraqi election, the BBC
and other news organisations commissioned Oxford
Research International to carry out an opinion poll in Iraq.
Just over 1,700 Iraqis were interviewed.
The BBC story (12
on the results is entitled Survey finds
optimism in new Iraq.
The headline is based on the response to the question: ‘How do you
expect things to be a year from now’, to which more than two-thirds answered
‘somewhat better’ or ‘much better’.
Government ministers were quick to comment on this poll and point to the
optimism amongst Iraqis indicated by the poll.
What a contrast to the Government’s
reaction to the results of a poll conducted a few weeks earlier, which was
commissioned by the Ministry of Defence and paid for
out of the public purse. Some 2,500 Iraqis were interviewed in this
instance. But, in this case, the
Government kept the results secret and refused to comment on them after they
had been published
by the Sunday Telegraph on 23 October 2005.
Could the Government’s reticence in this instance be related to the fact
that the results didn’t suit the Government’s case?
Remember, the poll suggested that:
of Iraqis are ‘strongly opposed’ to the presence of the occupation forces
believe attacks against the occupation forces are justified
feel less secure because of the occupation
• less than 1% of the population believe that occupation
forces have improved security
As for the state of Iraq’s infrastructure, 71% of those
polled said they rarely get safe clean water, 47% say they never have enough
electricity and 70% say their sewerage system rarely works.
US Strategy for Victory in Iraq
In response to growing popular
disquiet about US involvement in Iraq, the White House published a
entitled National Strategy for Victory in
Iraq in late November 2005. It’s not
an easy read, and it is unlikely that many Americans will read it, and be
reassured by reading it. It implicitly
admits that the insurgency is largely a product of the US presence, though it doesn’t draw
the obvious conclusion.
The “strategy” has three tracks to
it: political, security and economic.
The core of the “political track” is concerned with inducing Sunnis,
including those taking part in or supporting the insurgency, to take part in
the political process. Underlying this
is the naïve assumption that taking part in politics is incompatible with
supporting military activity against US forces.
As the republican movement in Ireland has proved, a strategy of operating
with “the armalite in one hand and the ballot box in
the other” is perfectly feasible.
The document includes a number of
gems in it. One element in the
“political” action plan is:
“Isolate enemy elements from those who can be won over to
the political process by countering
false propaganda …” (p1)
By planting false propaganda in the
And the “economic track” includes
the following assertion:
“The prosperity of average Iraqis will be enhanced only if Iraq reduces the massive subsidy
programs that burden its economy.” (p11)
Just think how the prosperity of the
average American would be enhanced if only the massive subsidy programs to
American farmers were abolished.
In any case, have these matters not
been the business of a sovereign Iraq government since the “handover” in
June 2004? Have we been misled? Is the Iraqi government not sovereign after
& Trade Union Review
7 January 2006