Oct 7, 2002
Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, announced with a good deal of publicity that he had 50 pages of proof against Iraq. Bush, of course, immediately grabbed hold of his sidekick's document to buttress his war moves.
Of these 50 pages, only 16 actually dealt with weapons. What is most striking in these 16 pages of "incontestable proof" is that they simply repeat the pretexts used for the American and British air attacks all during the 1990s, including the most destructive operation called Desert Fox in 1998, "proofs" which have since been disproved by the U.N. weapons inspectors themselves. Blair has added some satellite photos that supposedly show chemical factories built upon the ruins of installations bombed in 1991 or destroyed afterwards by the United Nations inspectors. But Blair's own report makes it clear that these chemical products are very useful for civilian use, especially to replace the products Iraq can no longer import due to the American and British embargo. Nonetheless, the report says that these products could also be used for the production of chemical and bacteriological weapons – COULD, not that they are being used. Using this same reasoning, every single country that has chemical and bacteriological production facilities should also be accused of producing such arms. And, as the anthrax scare in this country shows, some countries do produce them – with the U.S. leading the pack.
As for Iraq's missiles – Blair lists a whole series of missiles that, according to the report, are in such a shape, they couldn't be used. Blair also tells us that the Iraqis are taking apart old Scud missiles (made from Soviet technology dating back to the 1950s) in order to understand how they work. In other words, Iraq doesn't have modern missiles, and doesn't yet know how to build the ones which date from half a century ago.
In 1998, Blair claimed that Iraq already had a pilot-less plane, electronically guided, able to go into any country in order to spread anthrax. At the time, Blair used this story to justify British participation in the bombing operation "Desert Fox." Blair's current dossier modifies this lie a bit, claiming only that "Iraq tried to convert one of its training planes into an air vehicle capable of transporting chemical and bacteriological agents over a long distance." TRIED – not did it. It's obvious that a country that does not have even the technology to produce a working guidance system for its missiles could not be capable of building a guided plane to send over thousands of miles. It seems that Blair forgot his 1998 lie when he released his current report.
As far as the famous Iraqi nuclear bomb, Blair's report says it all: there are laboratories which "could" begin to produce enriched uranium, IF Iraq could purchase uranium in sufficient quantities. And IF it was able to enrich the uranium, it COULD then produce weapons-grade enriched nuclear materials. And finally it COULD then produce a bomb in a year or two – which we could say of almost any country, even the poor ones if they have a little scientific knowledge, nuclear installations and the technicians to run them. After all, Pakistan already has an atomic bomb.
This is the so-called "irrefutable proof" which reduces itself to one idea: IF Iraq had the industrial and technological means, maybe it could produce all these "arms of mass destruction" that it today is accused of having. It other words, it doesn't have them today and it most certainly does not have the logistical means to use them against the West, nor even in any sustained way against its regional rivals.
As for the rest of the Blair report, more than two thirds is just a reminder of the past, beginning with the career of the dictator Saddam Hussein, his role in the Iran-Iraq war, the repressive and military character of his regime, and his resistance to the arbitrary and provocative dictates of the United Nations – all things already known.
What is not found in the report is the role the major world powers played to reinforce this dictatorship. Nor does it show the way imperialism used Hussein to maintain its order in the region at the cost of a million lives in both Iraq and Iran, after its former pillar of support, the Iranian regime of the Shah, was overthrown. Nor do we find in the Blair report any trace of the fact that, when Saddam Hussein did have "arms of mass destruction," it was thanks to the imperialist leaders and the more than 100 billion dollars of arms that the West's biggest companies sold him. U.S. and British imperialism fed Saddam Hussein's ambition to impose himself as the regional leader. But Blair's report conveniently forgets this.
This report underlines to what extent all this loud rhetoric coming from Blair and from Bush to legitimize their politics is simply a bunch of pretexts and lies. They are trying to make Saddam Hussein into a sufficiently credible scarecrow so that they can have a cover for the reactionary policies they are pursuing against their own populations. What is intolerable is that the Iraqi people are threatened, once again, with having to pay for this with their blood.