Updated: Nov. 27, 2014
“At Save The Children we want to delight and surpass your expectations.” (Save The Children website, complaints page)
When the Orwellianly name “Middle East Peace Envoy” Tony Blair was named “Philanthropist of the Year” by GQ Magazine in September for “his tireless charitable work” (tell that to the dismembered, dispossessed, traumatized of Iraq, Afghanistan) there was widespread disbelief. Mind stretching though, it was hardly a heavyweight accolade, coming from a publication with, seemingly, a strange fetish for David Beckham’s knickers and little grounding in reality.
The magazine’s Editor lauding Blair’s “achievements” surreally included “reconciling the three Abrahamic faiths.” He may know about men’s knickers, but he clearly has not heard of Iraq.
Blair’s recent endeavours include, for an alleged 7.6 million pounds a year – which he denies – that he: “advised Kazakhstan’s autocratic president, Nursultan Nazarbeyev, on how to manage his public image after police killed 15 unarmed protestors.” (1) Blair helpfully also added 500 words to a speech Nazarbeyev was to make in Cambridge, UK, which: “were used to portray (the President) as a visionary leader who had improved living standards in his homeland.” (2)
Upon receipt of the award for philanthropy Blair commented: “I feel the pulse of progress beating a little harder.” A variation of his tacky Northern Ireland: “This is no time for sound bites, but I feel the hand of history on my shoulder.”
On 19th November, though, the Butcher of Baghdad, Dodgy Dossier Master, Sanctions Endorser of an embargo which condemned to death average of 6,000 children a month according to the UN, was awarded Save The Children’s Global Legacy Award at a Gala Charity at The Plaza in New York.
Incredibly, according Save The Children spokesman, Blair was chosen for the Award for his work when Prime Minister, which included setting up the Department for International Development. Never mind that the then Head of this woeful Department, Clare Short, in the run up to the 2003 invasion, resigned stating she regretted it because she wanted to stay to help rebuild Iraq – not that she wished to stop it being destroyed. Iraq, of course, would surely be billed by the UK for rebuilding necessities destroyed by UK-US bombs.
Blair was Prime Minister (May 1997-June 2007) and Leader of the Opposition (July 1994 – May 2007). In both roles he emphatically endorsed the Iraq embargo, thus the silent monthly infanticide. Madeleine Albright in trousers. Iraq’s new born and under fives for her were: “… a price worth it.” Then came the 2003 dodgy Downing Street dossier used by Colin Powell at the UN for the invasion’s justification, the subsequent perhaps one and a half million deaths in a country where near half the population were children – the rest is holocaustal history.
Between Madeleine Albright’s admission (12th May 1996) that “over half a million children had died” and Blair’s tenure between 1997 to the invasion, six years later, a further near half a million children died (do the maths.) Yet Save The Children – whose commitment “No Child Born to Die” is at the top of each page of the charity’s website – honour this tyrant.
“From the beginning of humankind there has been brutality, conflict, intrigue, the destructive obsession with a narrow self-interest”, said Blair in acceptance. (3) Freudian slip or what.
He praised fulsomely USAID and “the magnificent American and British Military” with Save The Children and other NGOs for their work in Africa. (4)
The same USAID whose decades long interstepping with the CIA is a dark, shocking saga. (5) The same US and UK military which destroyed Iraq, left five million orphans, a million widows, an upper figure of a million and a half dead (ongoing) five million displaced resultant from his lies, were now in Africa, he said: “… setting up treatment centres, tirelessly providing shelter, hygiene and education.” All they had bombed back to a pre-industrial age in 2001 in Afghanistan and in Iraq, 2003 and 1991. Watch out Africa.
It has to be hoped that this shameful lauding of a man who should be answering to a Nuremberg model Tribunal and on whom the Chilcot Inquiry is still to release it’s findings, has nothing to do with the fact that the Chief Executive of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth was in 2004: “ … recruited to No 10 (Downing Street) by Tony Blair …” and later became Blair’s successor: “Gordon Brown’s Strategic Communications and Campaigns Director …”. (6)
Gordon Brown, of course, before becoming Prime Minister on Blair’s departure, was Chancellor of the Exchequer and supported and wrote the cheques for the Blair’s lies and the resultant destruction of Iraq.
Another Save The Children executive, Chief Financial Officer Sam Aharpe: “worked for nearly 30 years with the UK Government development programme” including under Tony Blair, according to their website – whilst Fergus Drake, Director of Global Programmes since 2009: “Prior to this … worked for the Office of Tony Blair in Rwanda advising President Kagame …”.
The day after Blair’s Gala Award, Save The Children, with UNICEF and other aid agencies released a statement: “On the 25th anniversary of the Convention on The Rights of the Child – Stepping up the global effort to advance the rights of every child.”
The enshrined commitments were: “… not only to some children, but to all children … not only to advance some of their rights, but all their rights – including their right to survive and to thrive, to grow and to learn, to have their voices heard and heeded, and to be protected from discrimination and violence in all its manifestations.” (7) Irony, chutzpah, hypocrisy eat your hearts out.
Of course, as Gaza was decimated again in July and August, defenceless, with no army, navy or air force, resulting in over 2,000 deaths, including nearly 500 children, the Middle East “Peace Envoy” fled his posh pad in Jerusalem and gave a two month early “surprise birthday party” for his wife in one of his seven UK mansions, safely out of the firing line – and said nothing about saving the children, or indeed anyone else. He has subsequently been silent about Gaza’s 475,000 souls living in emergency conditions, 17,200 destroyed homes and 244 damaged schools (8)
Incidentally, if you are considering donating to Save the Children or buying their Christmas cards, give generously. Mr Forsyth and his colleagues struggle along on about 160 thousand pounds a year and the Chief Executive makes do on 234 thousand pounds annually. (9)
Children saving seems to be somewhat selective at this agency which operates in “more than 120 countries.” For example, in November 2003, the Guardian reported that: “Senior figures at Save the Children US . . . demanded the withdrawal of the criticism and an effective veto on any future statements blaming the invasion for the plight of Iraqi civilians’ suffering malnourishment and shortages of medical supplies.” (10)
Fast forward to the run up to another US extrajudicial assassination of the man purported to be Osama bin Laden in May 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Save The Children: “had been under suspicion from authorities ever since a doctor accused of assisting the CIA in its search for the al-Qaida leader claimed that Save the Children had introduced him to US intelligence officers.” (11)
Dr Shakil Afridi, currently serving 33 years in jail was: “accused of setting up a bogus hepatitis B vaccination campaign in the Abbottabad area to try to pinpoint Bin Laden’s exact location”, via DNA samples which: “were to be tested by the CIA for genetic matches to Bin Laden.”
Whilst: “Afridi never succeeded in persuading (people) to give blood, his collaboration with a foreign intelligence service is regarded as an act of treason by Pakistan’s security establishment.”
Save The Children which emphatically denied employing or paying Dr Afridi or indeed having a vaccination programme in Abbottabad were nevertheless expelled from Pakistan in September 2012.
In spite of denials, internal mails on the dispute obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan (12) which can be read in full (13) make interesting reading.
A relatively recent Save The Children initiative has been to appoint Samantha Cameron, wife of current UK Prime Minister David Cameron as their “Ambassador” for Syria. Since the organization cannot work in Syria, she has brought stories of “innocent childhoods being smashed to pieces” from neighbouring countries. Of course Britain under Cameron is arming and training the Syrian insurgents. (14) Cameron is a Blair admirer, on record as taking his advice. “Peace Envoy” Blair is on record as enthusiast for another illegal overthrow in Syria with “no regrets” over Iraq.
As the fury mounts over Blair’s Award and Christmas approaches, Denis Halliday, former UN Coordinator in Iraq who resigned over the embargo during Blair’s premiership stating that it was “genocide”, reminded me of Christmas 1998 when Blair stood in front of his Christmas tree outside 10 Downing Street and declared that the UK and US were again (illegally of course) bombing Iraq.
During this further blitz, Halliday’s successor, Hans von Sponeck, who was also to resign in disgust, was sleeping on the floor in the UN building in Baghdad, with his staff and families, the building was further out of town and seemed safer for those who took rescue.
So as Save The Children lauds Blair and trumpets the Rights of the Child, perhaps they should reflect the horror he has wrought. In Iraq one in four surviving children now has stunted physical or intellectual development due to malnutrition. There are an estimated 35,000 infant deaths annually, over a quarter of Iraqi children, three million, suffer post traumatic stress disorder. (War Child: “Mission Unaccomplished”, 2013.)
Perhaps one letter encapsulates the anger targeted at Save The Children for their aberrant, deviant action with numerous calls for a boycott of the organization echoing around the world:
Dear Save the Children,
I am outraged that “Save the Children” has seen fit to contribute to the impunity, whitewashing and rehabilitation of one of the most serious war criminals of our time, Tony Blair, by awarding him a Save the Children Global Legacy Award. As Prime Minister, Mr. Blair was warned consistently and repeatedly by FCO legal advisers that to invade Iraq would constitute the crime of aggression, which the judges at Nuremberg called the “supreme international crime” because it “contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” In Mr. Blair’s case, the “accumulated evil” now includes hundreds of thousands of people killed, cities and villages reduced to rubble and the destruction of an entire society.
This award is especially horrifying coming from Save the Children, because Mr. Blair is legally culpable in the deaths of tens of thousands of children killed in Iraq, mainly by coalition air strikes. The most thorough epidemiological study of excess mortality in Iraq as a result of the invasion and hostile military occupation found that American and British aerial bombardment was the leading cause of violent death for children in Iraq between 2003 and 2006.
I am bccing this email to about a thousand people, and I hope that all who receive it will take note and, in future, direct their efforts to help children to … other organizations who are not complicit in whitewashing the mass murder of children in Iraq.
With all due (but greatly diminished) respect
Nicolas J S Davies
Author of “Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.” (15)
Updated: Nov. 27, 2014
Should Save the Children have honoured war criminal Tony Blair?
Stop the War Coalition on Nov 26, 2014
Should Save the Children charity have given Tony Blair its Global Legacy Award, ignoring his role in the Iraq war that slaughtered thousands of children and made millions more orphans? Former Blair advisor Matthew Doyle says yes. Stop the War’s Chris Nineham says no. Broadcast on BBC radio.
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