- In all the coverage of last week's bombing of London,
a basic truth is struggling to be heard. It is this: no one doubts the
atrocious inhumanity of those who planted the bombs, but no one should
also doubt that this has been coming since the day Tony Blair joined George
Bush in their bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are "Blair's
bombs", and he ought not be allowed to evade culpability with yet
another unctuous speech about "our way of life", which his own
rapacious violence in other countries has despoiled.
- Indeed, the only reliable warning from British intelligence
in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq was that which predicted a sharp
increase in terrorism "with Britain and Britons a target". A
House of Commons committee has since verified this warning. Had Blair heeded
it instead of conspiring to deceive the nation that Iraq offered a threat
the Londoners who died on Thursday might be alive today, along with tens
of thousands of innocent Iraqis.
- Three weeks ago, a classified CIA report revealed
that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq had turned that country into a
focal point of terrorism. None of the intelligence agencies regarded Iraq
as such a flashpoint before the invasion, however tyrannical the regime.
On the contrary, in 2003, the CIA reported that Iraq "exported no
terrorist threat to his neighbours" and that Saddam Hussein was "implacably
hostile to Al-Qaeda".
- Blair's and Bush's invasion changed all that. In
invading a stricken and defenceless country at the heart of the Islamic
and Arab world, their adventure became self-fulfilling; Blair's epic irresponsibility
has brought the daily horrors of Iraq home to Britain. For more than a
year, he has urged the British to "move on" from Iraq, and last
week it seemed that his spinmeisters and good fortune had joined hands.
The awarding of the 2012 Olympics to London created the fleeting illusion
that all was well, regardless of messy events in a faraway country.
- Moreover, the G8 meeting in Scotland and its accompanying
"Make Poverty History" campaign and circus of celebrities served
as a temporary cover for what is arguably the greatest political scandal
of modern times: an illegal, brutal and craven invasion conceived in lies
and which, under the system of international law established at Nuremberg,
represented a "paramount war crime".
- Over the past two weeks, the contrast between the
coverage of the G8, its marches and pop concerts, and another "global"
event has been striking. The World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul has had
virtually no coverage, yet the evidence it has produced, the most damning
to date, has been the silent spectre at the Geldoff extravaganzas.
- The tribunal is a serious international public inquiry
into the invasion and occupation, the kind governments dare not hold. Its
expert, eyewitness testimonies, said the author Arundathi Roy, a tribunal
jury member, "demonstrate that even those of us who have tried to
follow the war closely are not aware of a fraction of the horrors that
have been unleashed in Iraq." The most shocking was given by Dahr
Jamail, one of the best un-embedded reporters working in Iraq. He described
how the hospitals of besieged Fallujah had been subjected to an American
tactic of collective punishment, with US marines assaulting staff and stopping
the wounded entering, and American snipers firing at the doors and windows,
and medicines and emergency blood prevented from reaching them. Children,
the elderly, were shot dead in front of their families, in cold blood.
- Imagine for a moment the same appalling state of
affairs imposed on the London hospitals that received the victims of Thursday's
bombing. Unimaginable? Well, it happens, in our name, regardless of whether
the BBC reports it, which is rare. When will someone ask about this at
one of the staged "press conferences" at which Blair is allowed
to emote for the cameras stuff about "our values outlast [ing] theirs"?
Silence is not journalism. In Fallujah, they know "our values"
only too well.
- While the two men responsible for the carnage in
Iraq, Bush and Blair, were side by side at Gleneagles, why wasn't the connection
of their fraudulent "war on terror" made with the bombing in
London? And when will someone in the political class say that Blair's smoke-and-mirrors
"debt cancellation" at best amounts to less than the money the
government spent in a week brutalising Iraq, where British and American
violence is the cause of the doubling of child poverty and malnutrition
since Saddam Hussein was overthrown (Unicef).
- The truth is that the debt relief the G8 is offering
is lethal because its ruthless "conditionalities" of captive
economies far outweigh any tenuous benefit. This was taboo during the G8
week, whose theme was not so much making poverty history as the silencing
and pacifying and co-opting dissent and truth. The mawkish images on giant
screens behind the pop stars in Hyde Park included no pictures of murdered
Iraqi doctors with the blood streaming from their heads, cut down by Bush's
snipers. Real life became more satirical than satire could ever be.
- There was Bob Geldoff on the front pages resting
his smiling face on smiling Blair's shoulder, the war criminal and his
knighted jester. There was an heroically silhouetted Bono, who celebrates
men like Jeffrey Sachs as saviours of the world's poor while lauding "compassionate"
George Bush's "war on terror" as one of his generation's greatest
achievements; and there was Paul Wolfowitz, beaming and promising to make
poverty history: this is the man who, before he was handed control of the
World Bank, was an apologist for Suharto's genocidal regime in Indonesia,
who was one of the architects of Bush's "neo-con" putsch and
of the bloodfest in Iraq and the notion of "endless war".For
the politicians and pop stars and church leaders and polite people who
believed Blair and Gordon Brown when they declared their "great moral
crusade" against poverty, Iraq was an embarrassment. The killing of
more than 100,000 Iraqis mostly by American gunfire and bombs -- a figure
reported in a comprehensive peer-reviewed study in The Lancet -- was airbrushed
from mainstream debate.
- In our free societies, the unmentionable is that
"the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people",
as Arthur Miller once wrote, "and so the evidence has to be internally
denied." Not only denied, but distracted by an entire court: Geldoff,
Bono, Madonna, McCartney et al, whose "Live 8" was the very antithesis
of 15 February 2003 when two million people brought their hearts and brains
and anger to the streets of London. Blair will almost certainly use last
week's atrocity and tragedy to further deplete basic human rights in Britain,
as Bush has done in America. The goal is not security, but greater control.
Above all this, the memory of their victims, "our" victims, in
Iraq demands the return of our anger. And nothing less is owed to those
who died and suffered in London last week, unnecessarily.