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
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
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
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.