Release Date: March 15, 2003
Eric Margolis, c/o Editorial Department, The Toronto Sun
333 King St. East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3X5
Fax: (416) 960-4803 -- Press Contact: Eric Margolis

People Who Live in Glass Houses

by Eric Margolis

New York - Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair proposed a `compromise' last week to the deadlocked UN Security Council: President Saddam Hussein of Iraq should go on TV and admit he had weapons of mass destruction and had committed five other other transgressions.

Blair's offer, reeking of mock sincerity, was clearly crafted to dampen down a storm of Labour Party criticism over his sycophantic and highly unpopular support of President George Bush's impending crusade against the Saracens of Iraq. But it was an offer Iraq was certain to reject, thus ending diplomacy and opening the way to war.

Small wonder French call Britain `perfidious Albion.' Blair's demarche was high hypocrisy, even by Downing Street's usual standard. Why doesn't the relentlessly sanctimonious Blair go on TV and explain why Britain still retains nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in sizeable quantities. Are they to stop a cross-channel invasion by France or Vikings?

Perhaps Blair could discuss Churchill's plan to use poison gas against any German landing in WWII, or Britain's fire-bombing of German cities. More to the point, Blair should explain to his own people why Britain and the US supplied Iraq with all its germ and many of its chemical arms during the 1980's (confirmed in US Senate hearings). Why British government technicians discovered by this writer in Baghdad in 1990 were producing anthrax and Q-fever germ weapons for Iraq?

Instead of harping on Iraq's brutality, Blair might discuss Britain's savaging of Ireland, colonial conquest of almost half the known world, forced addiction of millions of Chinese to British-grown opium, and crimes in India, Africa, and Burma. Its use of mustard gas against rebellious Kurdish tribesmen when it ruled Iraq. And admit that some of today's worst political problems - Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, India v. Pakistan - are the poisoned fruits of British imperialism.

Blair may well owe a political debt to the financiers and press barons who launched and funded his meteoric political career and badly want this war. But plunging Britons into an unjust, unnecessary war to please these such born-again imperialists is intolerable. The only other explanation, that Blair is doing all this out of conviction, is even more frightening.

Bad enough born-again George Bush apparently believes he is commanded by God to go to war. That his chief advisors on the Mideast, want to recreate Biblical Israel for Prime Minister Sharon. And that Bush's core Christian fundamentalist supporters believe this war will hasten the conversion of Jews to Christianity and bring the world's end through Armageddon. Blair is too intelligent to swallow such medievalism.

Every `Iraqi weapons of mass destruction site' claimed by British and US intelligence turned out, when inspected by the UN, to be clean. If Blair still actually believes these clearly debunked claims, he needs help. CIA and MI6 still claim they know Iraq is still hiding stores of germs and nerve gas. So then why not give the locations to UN inspectors?

Iraq's feeble, 150km ranged al-Samoud missiles might have exceeded their permitted range by a inconsequential 10-15 kilometers. Big deal. They are being destroyed. Worry instead about North Korea's new Taepodong-II, which CIA says can deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States. Unbelievably, Iraq-obsessed Bush dismisses menacing North Korea as only a `regional problem.'

Saddam's notorious `Winnebagos of death' - germ-making trucks - turned out, on inspection, to be mobile food testing labs. Iraq's alleged purchase of uranium from Africa, cited in the Un by Colin Powell, turned out to be a clumsy forgery. The latest US-British-promoted canard: Iraq's `drones of death:' three rickety model airplanes unworthy of World War I, rather than Fu- Manchu dispensers of germs, as the Pentagon ludicrously claimed. Only one had managed to fly two miles. .

Iraq's only true potential weapons of mass destruction, VX nerve gas and perhaps some anthrax, remain an open question. But Iraq lacks any offensive capability to deliver either, aside from a few hidden, short-ranged Scuds. The sole use of germs or gas is as defensive battlefield weapons, CIA Director George Tenet noted.

Iraq's most important defector, Gen Hussein Kamel, who headed its biowafare projects, stated he personally supervised destruction of all of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons in 1991, a fact suppressed by the White House. Other experts say any germs or gas still held by Iraq have by now deteriorated though age into inertness. As for Bush's charge Saddam might give such weapons to anti-American groups, why didn't he do so from 1990 to 2003, when the US was daily bombing Iraq and trying to overthrow his regime? Because he's not suicidal.

Unable to locate Iraq's US-British supplied weapons, unable to link Iraq to Osama bin Laden, Bush and Blair shifted gears. They now claim Iraq's suffering people must be `liberated.' But why weren't they liberated when Saddam committed his worst rights violations during the 1980's, when Iraq was a US-British ally? And what about the startling revelation by the former CIA Iraq desk chief that the gassing death of 5,000 Kurds at Halabja an event endless reiterated by Bush was accidentally caused by Iran, not Iraq.

As fast as one fabrication is exposed, more pop up. The US-British propaganda machine is relentless. For Bush, the war against Iraq will conveniently be both his re-election campaign and culmination of Biblical prophesy. For the more worldly British leader, all we can say is Blair, your pants are on fire.

What next in this laughable, pre-war propaganda circus that has made the Bush Administration and Blair look silly and deceitful.? Will Iraqis be accused of smoking indoors or hiding lethal nail clippers?

[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster, and author of War at the Top of the World - The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet which was reviewed in The Economist, May 13, 2000]

[The British had used chemical artillery shells against the Turks at the second battle of Gaza in 1917. They continued chemical shelling against the Shiites in Iraq in 1920 and used aerial chemicals in the 1920s and 1930s in Iraq.--Warner D. Farr, "The Third Temple's Holy of Holies: Israel's Nuclear Weapons," USAF Counterproliferation Center, September 1999]

Walter Pincus, "Chemicals Not Found in Iraq Warheads," Washington Post, July 3, 2004

Copyright © 2003 Eric Margolis - All Rights Reserved
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