by Felicity Arbuthnot
15 September 2011
“Since 1990 upper estimates are of three million Iraqi deaths between sanctions, bombings and invasion, under four US Administrations. One thousand 9/11s.” — Malcom Lagauche.*
I once worked for a man whose inconsistencies and delusions stretched the mind to a realm beyond confusion. Having laid down specific edicts as to aims and how they should be achieved, the following day he would yell at staff for following them – and deny all knowledge of his instructions.
One day an exasperated colleague hung a placard on the wall above his desk before he arrived. It read: “You are never alone with schizophrenia.”
Combing through Tony Blair’s statements over the years, this week of the tenth anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers, I had a feeling of deja vu.
The former Prime Minister is, however, totally consistent in one thing: his inconsistency.
On 9th September, the man under whose premiership the fantasy of Iraq being able to attack the West “within 45 minutes”, instrumental in the justification for invasion, was dreamed up – yet apparently so frightened, that he was smuggled in to the Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq, via a back door in January last year – called for regime change in Syria and Iran.
As parts of Afghanistan and Iraq still smolder, daily, since Britain’s enthusiastic endorsement of “liberation”, Blair, who qualified as a barrister, sworn to uphold the law, told The (London) Times: “Regime change in Iran would make me significantly more optimistic about the whole of the region.”
The West should be prepared to use force, he suggested, if Iran continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions. Iran has repeatedly denied having a weapons programme, with the country’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei saying they will not develop nuclear weapons, unequivocally condemning them as un-Islamic.
The IAEA Inspectors have said repeatedly that they have been allowed unfettered access to installations, without prior notice. However, as the political pressure builds, they appear slightly wobbly. It has to be hoped they are not again incorporating in their teams, those with other interests, as was the case with Iraq.
President Assad of Syria, Blair further opined, has shown he: “… is not capable of reform. His position is untenable.There is no process of change that leaves him intact.”
Yet on 13th November 2006, in a keynote speech at London’s Guildhall, the then Prime Minister announced an “evolution” in the British government’s Iraq strategy, based on greater cooperation with Syria and Iran.
The following week, he was to give evidence by video-link, to the Iraq Survey Group, headed by former US Secretary of State James Baker. Blair would urge the US Administration to open up talks with Syria and Iran, seemingly believing that he could influence Washington and change the course of the Iraq “impasse” (most would say unspeakable tragedy.) George W. Bush, he believed, was “genuinely” open to a change of strategy, after the mid-term election reverses, according to a UK government spokesman. (Guardian, 11the November 2006.) Another day, another delusion.
James Baker, incidentally, watched the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, from the Ritz Carlton Hotel, in Washington DC, where he was attending the annual Conference of the Carlyle Group, for whom he was Senior Counselor.(i) Also attending were representatives of Osama bin Laden’s family, which, with the Bush family, were amongst its major investors.(ii)
Blair’s busy media round on 9th September, included an interesting interview with the BBC’s “Today” programme’s John Humphrys, who suggested that his hand in the planning of involvement in Afghanistan and the Iraq invasion, had been: “An historic failure of judgement.” Two decimated countries, in response to: “a small group of people who committed a terrible act.”
It was instructive that Blair agreed that they: “ …might have been an isolated bunch of terrorists”, but then:”Saddam was undoubtedly a threat … the aim was regime change.” Ah, the truth finally slithered out..
Saddam Hussein and Iraq posed no threat to the West, Humphrys pursued, yet: “ … we caused terrorism in Iraq, there was none before we went there.”
Blair, whether blinded by bloodlust, ignorance or denial, was adamant: “The war on terror has not led to the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan … Iran meddling from the outside”, was the problem.
“As a result of what we did”, concluded Humphrys.
“Iran is a growing threat”, it was not to do with Saddam Hussein having gone, but to their interference in Iraq. If necessary, Blair reiterated again, “force must anyway be used to stop their nuclear programme – if they continue to produce nuclear weapons.” Threats are now: “exemplified by Iran.” Another day, another country, another unproven accusation of weapons of mass destruction.
(In context, it is worth revisiting an excerpt from Blair’s introduction to: “Assessment of the British Government” on Iraq’s weapons (24th September 2002.)
“I want to share with the British public the reasons why I believe this issue to be a current and serious threat to the UK national interest.” (“National interest”, eh?)
“In recent months, I have been increasingly alarmed by the evidence from inside Iraq, that despite sanctions, despite the damage done to his capability in the past, despite the UN Security Council Resolutions expressly outlawing it, and despite his denials, Saddam Hussein is continuing to develop WMD, and with them the ability to inflict real damage upon the region, and the stability of the world …
“What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and that he has been able to extend the range of his ballistic missile programme.”)
However, if “God loves a trier”, Humphrys will have a special place in Heaven.The pathetic, broken, battered face of Baha Moussa, a hotel receptionist, beaten to death by British troops in Basra, who died of 93 injuries, fronted every paper that day, at the end of a three year Inquiry, driven by the tireless Phil Shiner’s Public Interest Lawyers, which concluded there had been: “serious, gratuitous” and “systematic violence” by UK forces. Humphrys tackled alleged collusion in both torture and rendition, “enabled under your watch.”
Blair knew nothing. Was more or less amazed at the question, but then, he said, one can’t know everything. Astonishing. Apart from allegations of British Army excesses, first alleged in 2003, Craig Murray, Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002-2004, wrote to Blair and Bush, outlining the horrendous practices in that country’s alliance in the “war on terror” – and was ultimately fired for the alert. (iv)
Murray’s subsequent mammoth battle with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which moved every legal mountain to stop publication of his book, (v) under Blair’s Premiership, with massive accompanying publicity, documentaries, plays, can hardly have passed Blair by.
By April 2006, 185 CIA rendition flights via Britain had been tracked by Amnesty, who demanded a government Inquiry. Airports used had been London’s Stanstead, Gatwick, and Luton, Glasgow International, Glasgow Prestwick and Edinburgh.(v)
Humphrys concluded the interview by pointing out that: “The consequence of the war on terror is damaging to the world and to all of us.”
Of course not, said the Middle East Peace Envoy, the culprit was: “ … perversion of religion … radical Islamism.” He “totally disagreed” his actions might have led to some being “radicalized.”
“When we defeat the ideology, war ends.” This may not be for another generation or more, he warns.
The introductory blurb on his Faith Foundation’s website states: “The Tony Blair Faith Foundation avoids commentary of the internal affairs of individual faith communities.”
The man who said of his relationship with Bush: “We pray together”, also notes that: “Religious faith can also be used to divide … we still see how it can be distorted to fan the flames of hatred .” Presumably enjoining a “Crusade”, and decimating only Muslim countries, does not count in flame fanning..
Allied soldiers routinely desecrating Qu’rans and Mosques and sneeringly calling victims of their invasions “hajjis”, “ragheads” and “sand niggers”, might also do a bit of fanning.
In January 2009: Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, Blair’s former Head of Policy, described the “war on terror” approach as “misleading and mistaken”.
“Historians will judge whether it has done more harm than good,” he said, adding that, in his opinion, the whole strategy had been dangerously counterproductive, helping otherwise disparate groups find common cause against the West.” Better late than never?
It seems a long time since Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, QC., on taking office as Prime Minister, assured the country he was: “A pretty straight sort of guy.”
* Author: “The Mother of all Battles: The Endless US-Iraq War.” http://www.malcomlagauche.com/
Part Two follows : Anomalies at the Chilcot Inquiry.
Crusader Tony Blair: “Smooth Transition” from War Criminal to “Peace Envoy”
by Felicity Arbuthnot
18 September 2011
“The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882.)
It is always instructive to re-visit Blair-world (when the blood pressure can take it) hindsight, as ever, always illuminating.
His seemingly delusional media-fest in the run up to the tenth anniversary 9/11, commemorated as apparently the only terrible tragedy ever to afflict a nation anywhere on earth, included his apocalyptic certainty that: “The threat to our way of life, the values we hold and our peace and prosperity remains … it will take a generation to change hearts and minds and make the fanatics an irrelevance.” (i)
The decade old re-run sounded no less scarily megalomaniacal than it did something very similar was delivered by his pal, US President and fellow evangelical fundamentalist, in 2001.
In January last year, the now “Middle East Peace Envoy”, was “smuggled in and out of the Chilcot Inquiry” on Iraq, a country now largely ruined, mired in violence and turmoil, whose mass graves since 2003, embrace up to one and a half million of the invasion’s victims.
Between furtive sneakings in and out, Blair declared that creating Iraq’s massacres mounds and river of blood, it was the: “right decision.”
He had: “Responsibility but not regret for removing Saddam Hussein …I believe he threatened not just the region, but the world.” Somewhat at odds with a regime proved to have no meaningful weapons, nil long range anything, and whose neighbours said repeatedly, prior to the invasion, Iraq posed them no threat. Indeed, the then CIA Director, George Tenet, testified before US Congress firmly endorsing the same view, seven months before 9/11.(ii)
Further, Saddam had a history of killing millions of his own people and regularly breached UN Resolutions, said the man who, between invasion and his collusion in continuing the embargo, and a decade of US/UK bombing, may carry a weighty share of responsibility for perhaps three million Iraqi deaths. None of which quite complied with the UN’s fine, founding stated ideals.
The woeful mass graves from Saddam’s era are, of course, mainly from the Iran-Iraq war’s chilling toll, the West backing Iraq, making profits of particular obscenity by arming both sides. Then the 32 nation US-led, onslaught after the 1991 Kuwait invasion, for which the US Ambassador to Iraq gave the green light.
The Iraqi people had to be saved from Iraq’s terrible weapons, Blair asserted, omitting that they were found not to exist. Perhaps he still has fantasy friends too.
No mention that they were “saved” by real, not imaginary, weapons of mass destruction: depleted uranium, white phosphorous, bunker busters, napalm, cluster bombs and munitions, with many, as yet unconfirmed reports, that conventional nuclear weapons may also have been used.(iii)
The former Iraqi regime, of course, accounted its for its unheld weapons in the massive 12,800 page Report to the UN in December 2002. Successive Israeli governments have never admitted to having, allegedly, the world’s fifth largest nuclear arsenal, and have seemingly ignored 66 UN Resolutions. A government which hosts Blair on an ongoing basis, about whose pretty spectacular legal shortcomings he is apparently supremely unconcerned.
Similar pressure as on Iraq, should now be placed on Iran, he told the Inquiry – who also deny having nuclear weapons and has allowed UN Inspectors unfettered access.
In another delusional or amnesic moment, he said a deadly threat had been Iraq’s looming nuclear arms race with Iran. Iraq and Iran had , in fact, been edging cautiously towards conciliation for some years before the invasion.
In context, in April 2003, the New York Times’ Judith Miller, an invasion enthusiast second to few, seemingly thinking she had found evidence of atrocities in Basra, with nearly five hundred coffins, neatly piled in a warehouse, had to report that the leader of the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division’s task force, Chief Warrant Officer Dan Walters stated, that from extensive documents, Iraqis had apparently been processing the remains and preparing to exchange them with Iran.
“Their wounds were consistent with combat deaths, not executions,” said Mr Walters “So far,” he added, “there are no indications that war crimes were committed here.”(iv) No doubt quite a blow to Ms Miller.
The careful diplomacy between Iraq and Iran, was, also ironically strengthened by the Clinton doctrine of “dual containment”(v) bringing them closer together against further external threats. Blair, however, insisted on the looming threat of a nuclear arms race with Iran, had Saddam remained. The matter of legality, apparently, a far away place of which nothing was known.
He told the Inquiry he agreed to military action with George W. Bush immediately after 9/11. Further: “I never regarded September 11th as an attack on America, I regarded it as an attack on us.” What did he have for breakfast?
He reaffirmed his commitment to the attack on Iraq at George Bush’s ranch in April 2002, believing “beyond doubt” the claims in the now notorious fiction in the long discredited dossier of September 2002.
Before his appearance at the Inquiry, he had given an interview with the BBC, when he was asked: “If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” He replied: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”(vi)
Apart from illegality of enormity, the attack on Iraq and Blair’s linkage of Iraq to the11th September, must join history’s most extraordinary non-sequiturs. Perhaps imaginary friends advise him, as well.
He and Bush had agreed, he continued, that Saddam Hussein had refused to comply with UN demands, which justified their action. Life would have been: “a lot easier”, with UN backing of course, but as ever, he knew he was right.
When Sir Lawrence Freedman said, that in January 2007 alone, excess Iraq deaths, were 2,807: “ … shocking figures and getting worse every year”, perhaps there was a moment of discomfort, but it was: “ … Al Qaeda and Iran that really caused this mission to very nearly fail.” Was there really no comprehension that “external elements”, he cited, did not destabilize and murder in Iraq before the invasion? Iraq’s borders were near inviolate, the British and Americans threw them wide open to all comers.
The fault was, further incredibly, that they had not planned for the ” … absence of a functioning civil service infrastructure.” Iraq, of course, had a rigidly efficient civil service, Germanic in its meticulousness. The invasion’s forces comprehensively destroyed, or stole and shipped, all records, from every Ministry. The US “Viceroy” Bremer fired all civil servants – along with police force, and every beaurocratic arm needed to keep a State functioning. As Pol Pot, a “Year Zero”, created at every level, including mortality: Pol Pot regime, lower estimate 1,700,000 some Iraq ones, 1,500.000.
Peace Envoy Blair was, he said shocked by pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib – conscience, humanity at last? No chance. Because they were a: “propaganda victory” for the enemy.
Over the years, many medical professionals have pondered on Tony Blair’s psychological profile. A recent one has been Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In addition to a belief in being superior to other, some indications are:
· Self centered and boastful
· Seek constant attention and admiration
· Exaggerate talents and achievements
· Might take advantage of others to achieve their goals
· Expectation that others will go along with what she or he wants
· Inability to recognize or identify the feelings or needs of others
· Arrogant behaviour or attitude (vii)
For all the professional analysis of what strange force drives Charles Anthony Lyndon Blair, the most apt one for this writer, is still that of the old priest, at Iraq’s ancient St Mathew’s Monastry – the Lourdes of the Middle East – on Mount Maqloub, above the plains of Nineveh, in northern Iraq.
Pre-invasion, he talked of the plight of the villagers below, as we stood, looking down over the tiny villages on the great plains below. Sanctions had decimated their pastoral existence; families, their sheep, goats, children shepherding, were routinely killed by British and American planes, patrolling yesterday’s “humanitarian”, “ no-fly zone.”
“Every day”, he said: “There are new widows, new widowers, new orphans, lost children. Please, when you go home, tell your Mr Tony Blair, he is a very, very, bad man.”
* [See above Part 1]
vi. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/12/tony-blair-iraq-chilcot-inquiry (BBC link is removed.)
Inquiry summary: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/01/29/tony-blair-tells-iraq-inquiry-i-d-do-it-again-115875-22005313/
Chilcot Inquiry: http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/
Light relief: Put yourself in to Tony Blair’s shoes and take the Narcissistic Personality Test. Enter “Male, age 58” and see how you/he score:
It Is Time We Recognised the Blair Government’s Criminality by John Pilger
Laying the Groundwork for the Next War: Yemen by Sibel Edmonds
Colonel Nagl, Just what are our political objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan? by Daniel N. White
“Dear USA: Your 9/11 is our 24/7″ by Felicity Arbuthnot
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A really excellent piece of writing. Tony Blair is a war criminal and should be prosecuted.