I have my differences with those who, while sharing my view that blame for the Ukraine War lies with Washington, say the Kremlin is also culpable. For reasons given many times before and after February 24, 2022 – here for instance – I say Russia, having repeatedly failed over many years to gain a peaceful resolution of her legitimate concerns, had no acceptable alternative.
But what I share with those people is vastly more important; namely, cognizance of just how dangerous a thing is America’s war machine, “our” governments’ subservience to those who drive it – see yesterday’s post on Canberra – and above all a recognition that the world has never been so close to thermonuclear war.
I’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder with them a week tomorrow – in London’s Portland Place at 12 noon on February 25 as per the above notification. Hope to see you there too.
Meanwhile I urge you all to read this excoriating offering by Media Lens. It’s a characteristically forensic piece on how ill served we have been, still are, and will continue to be until we finally recognise, en masse, that media business models absolutely debar them from speaking the truth on matters as important to power as war. Here the focus is on their coverage of the wars, linked in more ways than one, in Ukraine and, twenty years earlier, Iraq.
London’s Hyde Park, February 15, 2003
The 20th anniversary of the illegal, unprovoked US-UK war of aggression on Iraq comes at an awkward time for a UK press currently suppressing the truth of the illegal, provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s particularly awkward for our fearless watchdogs to recall the great anti-war march of 15 February 2003 when, in 2023, they are busy stifling dissent protesting America’s horrific proxy war in Ukraine.
In the Observer, Tim Adams wrote a piece under the joyous title:
‘”A beautiful outpouring of rage”: did Britain’s biggest ever protest change the world?’
Now that it doesn’t matter – Iraq hasn’t mattered, or even existed, for the UK press for years – the Guardian Media Group can allow one of its journalists to portray the protest as ‘beautiful’. Ironically, Adams’ piece is an ugly rejection of everything it professes to admire. This comment says it all:
‘Knowing what we know now, those who gathered that day in the capital were on the right side of history.’
In fact, on 15 February 2003, it was absolutely clear that we protestors ‘were on the right side of history’ on the basis of what we knew then! But 20 years on, as though caught in a time warp, Adams persists with the fake ‘mainstream’ focus of the time:
‘The marchers at the time did not agree on everything, but they shared a commitment to try to silence the drumbeat to war – or to at least to give the UN weapons inspectors more time to find the fabled weapons of mass destruction on which the rhetoric of Blair and President George W Bush depended (the previous day, Hans Blix, leader of those inspectors, had again informed the UN that no such weapons had yet been found).’
‘The Observer was split down the middle over whether to support the government in its desperate efforts to get a UN mandate for war…
‘Although the news section of that day’s Observer was solidly in awe of the peace march, elsewhere the leader column suggested that, “as the least worst option” it reluctantly went along “with a majority in Britain who would accept military action if backed by the UN security council”.’
It’s fine to mention that these were indeed ‘mainstream’ obsessions at the time, but not without pointing out that it was all nonsense. The whole focus on ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMD) was fake, a crude deception. There were no ‘weapons of mass destruction’ left in Iraq by 2002 – as chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was telling anyone who would listen in 2002 and 2003. But even if there had been, they were battlefield weapons, artillery shells, made with Western assistance by an Iraqi government that had no links whatsoever to the September 11 terrorists; a government that had shown no interest whatever in waging a terror campaign against the US or Britain – countries that had been using any manufactured excuse to torture the country into submission through genocidal sanctions for 13 years.
There was never any question of Iraq possessing nuclear weapons. But even if there had been battlefield biological and chemical weapons, and even if Iraq had had links with al-Qaeda, Britain and the US would have had no right to invade a country by which neither had been attacked or even threatened. And what would Saddam Hussein, clearly facing an all-out superpower oil grab, possibly gain by attacking or supporting attacks on the West? Any such attacks would have dramatically increased the risk to his own life for no practical gain.
But even if Britain and the US had been attacked by Iraq, they would not have had the right to devastate the country with a completely disproportionate invasion and occupation. Would we argue that Iraq had the right to invade, occupy and devastate the United States and Britain in response to ‘our’ air attacks and invasion?
We very much doubt that the Observer’s then editor, Roger Alton, was ‘solidly in awe’ of the peace march. In January 2003, as war loomed, Alton told his staff:
‘We’ve got to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans.’ (Nick Davis, Flat Earth News, Chatto & Windus, 2008, p.350)
In September 2006, the Evening Standard reported that Alton had been on ‘something of a lads’ holiday’ in the Alps. His companions included Jonathan Powell, ‘Tony Blair’s most trusted aide’, and staunch Blairite MP and propagandist Denis MacShane. (Gideon Spanier, ‘In the air,’ Evening Standard, 6 September 2006)
A few days after the march, leading Observer columnist Nick Cohen poured scorn on:
‘The satisfaction of an anti-war movement which persuaded one million people to tell Iraqis they must continue to live under a tyranny…’ (Cohen, ‘The Left’s unholy alliance with religious bigotry,’ The Observer, 23 February 2003)
What does Adams have in mind when he writes of ‘Knowing what we know now’? Of course, he means there were no WMD and the results of the war were catastrophic for Iraqis (although not for the US-UK; the war was not at all a ‘failure’, as is often claimed). But that is a tiny part of what we now know, and no thanks to the Observer and the Guardian. As we reported last year, any casual reader can Google ‘BP and Iraq’ and find:
‘In 2009, bp became the first international oil company to return to Iraq after a period of 35 years…
‘Today, bp, PetroChina and BOC are working in partnership to develop Rumaila, the second-largest producing field in the world, estimated to have around 17 billion barrels of recoverable oil remaining.’
Anyone can Google ‘Exxon and Iraq’ and find:
‘In January 2010, ExxonMobil Iraq Limited (EMIL), an affiliate of Exxon Mobil Corporation, signed an agreement with the South Oil Company of the Iraq Ministry of Oil to rehabilitate and redevelop the West Qurna I field in southern Iraq…
‘In October 2011, ExxonMobil signed six Production Sharing Contracts covering more than 848,000 acres in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.’
London on the 25th – it’s in your diary, right?
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