Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger's award-winning documentary, "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq".
On Holocaust Memorial Day I wrote an article reminding of other holocausts currently taking place, for which America and its little lackey, Britain, are either responsible, or supportive: Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza. Illegalities of horror and enormity, as the West, with very honourable exceptions, shops, snacks and worries about the weather. As every day brings new tragedies to homes, streets, markets, the cost of living or electricity dominates Western thoughts, not those who lose the former and have not the luxury of the latter.
The article received a variety of responses. Bandzippy@aol.com wrote: “You are as full of sh.. as you could possibly be. You deserve to be on the receiving end of anartillery round.” A computer literate friend took a couple of minutes to find that the sender was a Mr. Dark (thank you friend) from the land which spreads freedom and democracy with multiple ammunition rounds and two thousand pound bombs. Coincidentally, no doubt, his telephone number had a Washington pre-fix.
Brian introduced me to http://www.addictedtowar.com which graphically advises of recent western massacres which have also killed six million people. John wrote succinctly of “...the seventeen year holocaust of the Iraqi people”. And Laith sent me back to the keyboard. He wrote: “It is staggering how many people have absolutely no idea whatsoever of the truth .... they talk of ‘the dolphins’, ‘the whales’, even ‘the cormorants’, but very rarely ‘the Iraqis’.”
Those who created this uniquely evil, illegal, living nightmare also have “no idea whatsoever of the truth”. Further, the responsibility for the pogrom enveloping Iraq's population, goes back far further than the implementation of the embargo on Hiroshima Day 1990.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark provides a thought provoking wake up call in his chronology of American duplicities in the region, with oil and Washington's interests writ large.
(“The Fire this Time”, Thunder's Mouth Press, 1992, for all minutely detailed, needed to know on lies in high places.)
1951: Iran's President Mossadegh's government nationalises the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British Petroleum.) Iran immediately has sanctions imposed by the West.
1953 : The CIA helps overthrow Mossadegh, with Iran weakened after two years of sanctions. Shah Reza Pahlevi is installed ruler by the U.S. General Norman Schwartzkopf Snr., assists training SAVAK, Iran's secret police of exceptional brutality.
1958 : A popular revolution led by Abdel Karim Kassem, overthrows the British-installed monarchy in Iraq. Kassem begins to nationalise Western holdings in Iraq.
1963 : Kassem is overthrown by a coup aided by the CIA.
1968 : The Ba'ath Party comes to power in Iraq.1972 : Iraq embarks on nationalisation of its oil industry. One day before the announcement, President Nixon and National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, plot with the Shah of Iran to arm Iraqi Kurds to weaken Iraq. Iraq is placed on the list of states that support terrorism. (Emphasis mine.)
1979 : U.S. backed Shah overthrown in Iran.
1980 : President Carter (now reinvented as a peacemaker) announced the “Carter Doctrine”, stipulating that the U.S. will intervene militarily in the Persian Gulf region to protect U.S., access to oil reserves. A “Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force” (RDJTF) is formed to implement Carter's doctrine. Iraq invades Iran with U.S. tacit approval. America subsequently aids both sides with intelligence and arms, in the following eight year decimation costing a believed million lives.
1982 : Iraq is removed from the list of countries supporting terrorism.
1983: RDJTF becomes US Central Command (CENTCOM.)
1985 : Colonel Oliver North, co-ordinator of the Iran-Contra scheme tell Iranian officials that the U.S. will help Iran overthrow Saddam Hussein.
1988 : Huge aid to Iraq from U.S. and allies tips the scales. Iraq wins the devastating war for both sides; ceasefire signed. The Unites States begins a two years study predicting the outcome of a war between the U.S. and Iraq. The previous year General Norman Schwartzkopf Jr., becomes head of CENTCOM.
1989 : (U.S.) War Plan 1002, conceived in 1981 to counter a Soviet threat to the Persian Gulf, becomes War Plan 1002-90, designating Iraq a threat to the region.
At the end of the Iran-Iraq war Saddam Hussein had, of course, turned his attention to Kuwait's slant drilling under the border, siphoning off oil from Iraq's Rumaila oil field, the Kuwaiti settlements within Iraq in the border region effectively expanding Kuwait's territory and the alleged Kuwaiti destabilising of the Iraqi Dinar. After eight years of war Iraq was impossibly indebted.
In January 1990 CENTCOM organised a computer game to test War Plan 1002-90.
Six months later, Saddam Hussein publicly accused Kuwait of conspiring to destroy Iraq's economy. The following month, after assurances to Saddam Hussein, from U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, that the United States had “no view on Arab-Arab conflicts”, thus giving the green light, Iraq invaded Kuwait.
It would take the uncynical bordering on saintly, given the histories above, not to believe that the wily Saddam walked in to a well set trap - but then, in the Arab world, a word is an absolute bond. He was clearly not thinking lying, Western political duplicity, where, in high places, integrity is an alien concept. Iraq's assets were frozen, U.S., led sanctions of unprecedented ferocity imposed, Iraqis faced starvation, six weeks of a round the clock blitz - and John's “seventeen year holocaust” - but it was never going to be enough.
Only months after the horrors of the 1991 war, it seemed there was no one in Iraq who did not believe the Americans would return; it was not IF, but WHEN, just a matter of time. “They will be back”, said an Iraqi friend, still clearing the dust and detritus of the bombing from her home and patio. “They will never be satisfied until they take our oil, occupy our country and divide it in to three.”I knew she was wrong. There could be no legal base. I explained in detail. Even America cannot invade without the slightest pretext. She looked at me as if I had suddenly been struck by some irreversible mental disability.
As the years went on, with each visit, threat, UN Resolution, every deaf western political ear and every dying Iraqi child, I knew she was right. If no excuse existed, it would be invented.
It was. In multiples.
Here are excerpts from Colin Powell’s address to the United Nations of 5th February 2003. Followed by then British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's response.
Colin Powell :“…My second purpose today is to provide you with additional information, to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as well as Iraq's involvement in terrorism, which is also the subject of resolution 1441 and other earlier resolutions....“Some of the sources are technical, such as intercepted telephone conversations and photos taken by satellites. Other sources are people who have risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein is really up to.” (“Curveball” and other dodgy informers, a raft of them, paid by the CIA to tell them what they wanted to hear.....)“What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior.
The facts on Iraqis' behavior - Iraq's behavior demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort - no effort - to disarm as required by the international community. Indeed, the facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction....“Could any member of this council honestly rise in defense of this false declaration? Everything we have seen and heard indicates that, instead of cooperating actively with the inspectors to ensure the success of their mission, Saddam Hussein and his regime are busy doing all they possibly can to ensure that inspectors succeed in finding absolutely nothing.... “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources.
These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources. ...“While we were here in this council chamber debating Resolution 1441 last fall, we know, we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq. Most of the launchers and warheads have been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection. “We also have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities....“How do I know that? How can I say that? Let me give you a closer look. Look at the image on the left. On the left is a close-up of one of the four chemical bunkers. The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions. The arrow at the top that says security points to a facility that is the signature item for this kind of bunker. Inside that facility are special guards and special equipment to monitor any leakage that might come out of the bunker. ....“I would call my colleagues attention to the fine paper that United Kingdom distributed yesterday, which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities. ....“Saddam Hussein has directly participated in the effort to prevent interviews.
In early December, Saddam Hussein had all Iraqi scientists warned of the serious consequences that they and their families would face if they revealed any sensitive information to the inspectors. They were forced to sign documents acknowledging that divulging information is punishable by death.” (It has long been in the public domain that Iraqi scientists were in fact required to sign declarations that they must declare anything to the UN weapons inspectors.) “The issue before us is not how much time we are willing to give the inspectors to be frustrated by Iraqi obstruction. But how much longer are we willing to put up with Iraq's noncompliance before we, as a council, we, as the United Nations, say: ‘Enough. Enough.’ The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world. Let me now turn to those deadly weapons programs and describe why they are real and present dangers to the region and to the world. ...“And that is my third point. And it is key.
The Iraqis have never accounted for all of the biological weapons they admitted they had and we know they had. They have never accounted for all the organic material used to make them. And they have not accounted for many of the weapons filled with these agents such as there are 400 bombs. This is evidence, not conjecture. This is true. This is all well-documented. ...“... trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.” (Iraq's railway was all but destroyed in 1991. 'Train cars' were one train that finally ran between northern Mosul and southern Basra from about 1999 - when the US and UK were not bombing the track.) “We know that Iraq has at lest seven of these mobile biological agent factories.
The truck-mounted ones have at least two or three trucks each. That means that the mobile production facilities are very few, perhaps 18 trucks that we know of-there may be more-but perhaps 18 that we know of. Just imagine trying to find 18 trucks among the thousands and thousands of trucks that travel the roads of Iraq every single day.” (“Thousands and thousands of trucks”? During the embargo, seven hundred kilometres of highway would often be devoid of even one truck.)
The “fine paper” the British had dreamed up was then summed up by the then British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. In context it is worth reminding that the Iraqi government had, the previous December, submitted an eleven thousand eight hundred page dossier to the United Nations on its non-existent weapons which was purloined by the US delegates and returned with barely four thousand pages, so redacted as to be “incomprehensible”.
“Paragraph 4 of 1441 then set two clear tests for a further material breach by Iraq. First that Iraq must not make ‘false statements’ or ‘omissions’ in its declaration”, declared Straw adding, regarding the Iraqi document: “It was neither full, nor accurate, nor complete and by anyone's definition, it was a ‘false statement’. “(It was certainly not “full nor accurate”, due the extensive US deletions.)
Straw continued: “Its central premise - that Iraq possesses no weapons of mass destruction - is a lie. This outright lie was repeated yesterday on television by Saddam Hussein. The declaration also has obvious omissions, not least in the failure to explain what has happened to the large quantities of chemical and biological weapons material and munitions unaccounted for by United Nations weapons inspectors in 1998.....
Instead of open admissions and transparency, we have a charade, where a veneer of superficial co-operation masks wilful concealment, the extent of which has been devastatingly revealed this morning by secretary Powell....“When will Iraq account for the 6,500 bombs which could carry up to 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent? Iraq”, said Straw, was “hoodwinking the world”. The world of course now knows that it was Whitehall and Washington who were “hoodwinking the world”, with Powell and Straw the hoodwinking standard bearers.
Straw, however, is not facing the might of the law for his monumental misleadings; he is now Great Britain's Secretary of State for Justice. It now also transpires that the British Foreign Office may have had an even deeper part in the whole shameful fairy tale, spun to the world from the United Nations Plaza, on February 5th 2003.
It has been alleged that John Williams, Head of the Press Office for the Foreign Office, had more than a hand in the “sexed up” dossier of September 2002, which alleged that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could be unleashed within forty five minutes. The government Information Tribunal has ruled that this document should be in the public domain. It is thought the relevant government bodies may appeal to the High Court to attempt to avoid disclosure of the dossier, which came to light due to the dogged three year work of researcher Chris Ames, backed by the Spectator magazine.
“The so-called ‘Williams draft’ was mentioned during the Hutton inquiry (into the death of weapons inspector, Dr David Kelly) but it was never published and at the time the Foreign Office claimed that it had little influence on the version that was eventually published.” (Guardian, 23rd January 2008 'Government ordered to disclose draft Iraq dossier'.)
Williams has denied that his draft contained the forty five minute claim.
*Lies though, are now such common political currency that it is easy to forget those of five years ago, which have cost Iraq over a million lives.
A recent study by the Centre for Public Integrity, has counted just some of those of the Bush Administration. “The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them, or had links to al Qaeda, or both.
“Bush lied with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq’s links to al Qaeda, the study found. That was second only to Powell’s 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al Qaeda.” ( http://www.publicintegrity.org )
And as Condoleeza Rice flies to Britain this week, wait for some more - about Iran. The country is set to open its own oil bourse, by 19th February, which will trade in any currency, except the US dollar. In 2000 Iraq switched the oil it could sell under the “Oil for Food” arrangement, out of dollars and into euros.
Thus, one of the earliest signatories to the United Nations Charter, sealed its fate, via a pack of lies, long planned, at the United Nations.
The Strange Death of David Kelly, by Norman Baker MP., Methuen 2007. http://www.methuen.co.uk/titles.php/itemcode/1284
The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf by Ramsey Clark http://www.powells.com/biblio/0965691683?&PID=32206
Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger's award-winning documentary, "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq". http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partID=4 and author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of “Baghdad” in the “Great Cities” series, for World Almanac Books (2006.) http://www.amazon.com/Baghdad-Great-Cities-World-Nikki/dp/0836850491/sr=1-5/qid=1171018142/ref=sr_1_5/105-9176229-7042804?ie=UTF8&s=books
Please also see:
Operation Desert Slaughter - Thoughts on Holocaust Memorial Day, Felicity Arbuthnot http://www.uruknet.de/?p=m40560&hd=&size=1&l=e
FAIR: The "Great Mystery" of Iraq's WMDs? http://www.unobserver.com/index.php?pagina=layout5.php&id=4363&blz=1
Gulf War Profiteering - Victors and Victims, by Christiane N. Martens and Paul V. Rafferty http://www.unobserver.com/index.php?pagina=layout5.php&id=3079&blz=1
Powell’s U.N. Performance: Reviews & Updates http://www.unobserver.com/index.php?pagina=layout4.php&id=675&blz=1
The Powell Doctrine: Baghdad/Jenin/My Lai, by Heather Wokusch http://www.unobserver.com/index.php?pagina=layout4.php&id=312&blz=1