By Felicity Arbuthnot | Global Research | March 5, 2015
“If justice and truth take place,
If he is rewarded according to his just desert,
His name will stink to all generations.” (William Wesley, 1703-1791.)
On the evening of 19th November 2014, the charity Save the Children (STC), with a gala event in New York, “recognized” Tony Blair – whose government enjoined in the ending of the fledgling lives of children on an industrial scale in Afghanistan and Iraq – with their “Global Legacy Award.”
In Iraq’s decimation of course, Blair’s regime was responsible for the dodgy dossier alleging Saddam Hussein’s ability to annihilate in “forty five minutes”, thus persuading for war, but had also enjoined with the US between 1997 and 2003 in ensuring, via the United Nations Sanction Committee that Iraq’s infants and children were denied all normality from the womb to their young deaths at an average of 6,000 a month.
Blocked were scanners to check the developing foetus, incubators for the frail newly arrived, paediatric oxygen, paediatric syringes, tracheal suction tubes to clear airway obstructions and all needed to combat a challenging start to life in order to become a healthy toddler and enter happy childhood.
For those who survived to childhood, reading and exercise books, paper, pens, pencils, blackboards, toys, tricycles, bicycles, scooters, all juvenile joys and normality were vetoed. When they suffered what are normally relatively simply treated ailments, infections, asthma, the antibiotics, inhalers needed were invariably also vetoed or fatally delayed. All policies endorsed by Blair’s government.
Then Iraq’s deprived, traumatized children were bombed and invaded in an action largely publicly justified by his government’s documented lies.
Yet Save the Children honoured Blair – to immediate condemnation. In the UK a petition on site “38 Degrees” quickly garnered nearly 125,000 signatures in protest (UK only, world wide it would certainly have been in orders of magnitude more.)
Judging by the uproar on blogs, Twitter, social media sites, it has been a spectacular own goal for Save the Children with countless supporters cancelling their subscriptions or donations.
At a meeting with Brendan Cox, the charity’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, a small delegation with Robin Priestley of 38 Degrees, handed in the petition and in a meeting: “ … all had to agree that it was impossible to remove the Award from Tony Blair now …” (1) Given the damage caused by this insane honour, Mr Cox should surely have committed to moving heaven and earth to doing exactly that.
However, now he has a chance. Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s UK Chief Executive, who personally delivered the invitation to Tony Blair and was a former aide to him as Prime Minister, apologized on 3rd March (sort of) on BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” programme.
He was sorry for the offence caused and that it had become an “unnecessary distraction” (2) from the organization’s work. Given Blair’s record in endorsing child deaths and resultant uproar the Award caused and the redesign of their logo to “Kill the Children” found across social media, it was not a “distraction” but an outrage.
Upsetting people, said Mr Forsyth: “ … is not really what we do at Save the Children.” Really? After this so close to home, can their judgement in differing global cultures possibly be trusted?
There was some verbal footwork about the Award being for Blair’s work in Africa, however this is defined as a “Global Legacy Award.” The former Prime Minister’s “legacy” is mass graves of dead children from Kandahar to Falluja.
Moreover, according to Blair’s Faith Foundation website: “Mr. Blair was recognised for his work … in 2005 to pledge to double aid to Africa and provide 100 per cent debt relief to eligible countries, as well as his work in partnership with African governments through the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI).” It might be worth trawling the potentially “double aided” and “100 per cent debt relief” countries to see if and how many of the beneficiaries he might have one of his many lucrative advisory roles with. Politics is hardly known for lack of back scratching.
The Daily Mail on line also quotes Mr. Forsyth as stating: “I know that many of our supporters and volunteers were very upset and our staff, several of our staff too, and I’m very sorry for that.” Another verbal sleight of hand and it was not “several staff.” By 28thNovember, The Guardian reported: “An internal petition circulated among Save the Children employees around the word is to be presented to head office.” Describing the award as “morally reprehensible” and calling for it to be rescinded, the petition has gathered more than 500 staff signatures.”(3)
The letter accused Save the Children of “a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values.”
Their ”Vision, Mission and Values” (4) include:
* “We aspire to live to the highest standards of personal honesty and behaviour; we never compromise our reputation and always act in the best interests of children.” Tell that to Iraq’s five million orphans and their uncounted counterparts in Afghanistan, to the bombed, orphaned, traumatized children of Gaza who the “Middle East Peace Envoy” has ignored.
* ”A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.” Think about it, Save the Children. Were words ever more hollow after the honouring of a man mired in the destruction of every aspiration in that sentence.
* “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.” Endorsed is seemingly one to whom “breakthrough” and “immediate and lasting change” is deprival of life, childhood, parents, home, healing, freedom from fear and all semblance of normality. “Lasting change” indeed.
On 5th December 2014, a letter (5) was sent to Save the Children by Inder Comar of the legal firm Comar Law, San Francisco. outlining starkly the enormity of the illegality of the attack on Iraq in which Mr Blair had been so integral. It pointed out that Save the Children’s hero’s name is entered at the International Criminal Court at the Hague in its “Register of War Criminals.”
The correspondence, in which I declare an interest, was sent on behalf of Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and myself included:
‘As you may be aware, in March 2003, Mr. Blair, while Prime Minister, likely participated with several high-ranking United States leaders in committing the crime of aggression against Iraq. The crime of aggression is the “supreme international crime,” as declared by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946. In addition to being prohibited by international law, the crime of aggression is a crime also defined by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, over which it may have the opportunity to exercise jurisdiction in the coming years. “Resort to a war of aggression is not merely illegal, but is criminal.” United States v. Hermann Goering, et al., 41 AM. J. INT’L L. 172, 186, 218-220 (1946); see also Charter Int’l Military Tribunal, art. 6(a), Aug. 8, 1945, 59 Stat. 1546, 82 U.N.T.S. 279.
‘As you may also be aware, in 2004, Secretary General Kofi Annan declared the Iraq War illegal and in contravention of the United Nations Charter.1
‘In 2006, a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Benjamin Ferencz, stated that the Iraq War was a “clear breach of law.”2 “There’s no such thing as a war without atrocities, but war-making is the biggest atrocity of law.”
‘In 2010, a Dutch inquiry concluded that the Iraq War had no basis in international law.3
‘In 2010, Hans Blix, the former chief weapons inspector for the United Nations, stated that it was his “firm view” that the Iraq War was illegal.4
‘In 2012, judges empanelled before the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, an independent commission headed by former judges and involving input from several international law scholars, concluded that a prima facie case existed that Mr. Blair committed the crime of aggression against Iraq. The tribunal reported its findings to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and entered the name of Mr. Blair in its “Register of War Criminals.” ‘
“Was there any consideration to the optics of giving this Award to Mr. Blair in light of the fact that many of Save the Children’s current management – including Jonathan Forsyth, Jonathan Powell, Sam Sharpe and Fergus Drake – have intimate ties with Mr. Blair and his government? Was there any consideration to the moral paradox of providing this Award to a person whose destitute victims are concurrently succored by Save the Children staff?”
It demands: “Please confirm that Save the Children will rescind the Global Legacy Award forthwith.”
There has been no reply. That action however, would a gesture of, albeit belated, tangible apology and might be a start at repairing Save the Children’s tattered image.
If State Honours, Knighthoods and Peerages can be withdrawn from those subsequently deemed unworthy of their bestowal, surely so can Save the Children’s woefully misplaced Global Award.
Senior member of Hamas’ political bureau Mousa Abu-Marzkouk yesterday revealed that Quartet peace envoy Tony Blair is trying to blackmail Hamas in return for reconstructing the Gaza Strip.
On his Facebook page, Abu-Marzouk revealed five conditions put by the Quartet that Hamas has to meet in order to make way for the reconstruction of what the Israeli occupation destroyed during last summer’s 51-day war in Gaza.
Abu-Marzouk said: “Once again, and in the name of the international community, Tony Blair is exploiting the tragedy made by the Israeli occupation that includes the destruction of homes and making people homeless.”
Expressing deep concern about the devastated people in Gaza, Abu-Marzouk said: “Destroyed homes of Palestinians in Gaza became shrines to Blair and his likes. Blair says that there is no reconstruction unless these five conditions are fulfilled, and Hamas has to agree to:
- Accept the Palestinian reconciliation.
- Accept the political programme based on a Palestinian state on 1967 borders.
- Reiterate that Hamas is a Palestinian faction with only Palestinian goals and it is not part of any Islamist movement with regional goals.
- Adopt the two-state solution as a final, not temporary, solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
- Send an assurance message to Egypt that Gaza is not a terror base for Sinai terrorists and hold talks with the Egyptian government to stop terrorism in Sinai.”
“These are the conditions for Hamas to be accepted by the international community as well as the Quartet’s conditions for rebuilding Gaza and improving living standards,” Abu-Marzouk said.
He added: “These conditions do not mean that Hamas will deal with the Zionist enemy; not even one condition was put on Israel.”
Abu-Marzouk refuted the conditions one by one. Regarding the reconciliation, he said: “It was achieved. I do not know what more is needed from Hamas, which conceded everything for a technocrat government.”
About the state on the 1967 borders, he said: “The problem is not with the Palestinian side, but with the other side. Blair should have spoken about it with Israel. He should have asked it whether it accepts a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and whether it accepts to dismantle settlements.”
Regarding Hamas’s goals, he stressed that Hamas is a Palestinian faction with Palestinian goals and it is not part of a regional Islamist movement. “We know that he means the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.
“This is used by all as a pretext,” he stressed. “Hamas is a Palestinian movement and its history proves that as it has not carried out any of its operations outside the Palestinian lands. Even when its leaders were targeted outside Palestine, it did not respond in the same places.”
Meanwhile, he reiterated the importance of Hamas having links with any side offering help for it. “We have no interest to have hostility with any party wherever it is and whatever the ideological differences with it are,” he said.
About the two-state solution, Abu-Marzouk said: “Blair knows that any oppressive agreement cannot remain alive for too long. Any agreement imposed by the current powers cannot remain the same when these powers change.”
Regarding Egypt, he explained: “Egypt is not merely a neighbouring country; its stability and unity are in the Palestinian interest. We deal seriously and responsibly with anyone who harms Egypt. Gaza will absolutely not be a breeding ground for terrorism.”
Adding that Hamas’s relationship with Egypt is not of Blair’s concern.
On the 21st January the UK’s Channel 4 news had a discussion about the fact that the long-awaited Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the illegal war in Iraq will not be released until after the general election in March. On the 29th of January a sizeable group of demonstrators protested outside the Houses of Parliament against the continuing suppression of the Chilcot Report — now five years late. Whilst this story was covered on Russia Today, not a single mention of it was made on the BBC’s six o’ clock news. None of this is surprising: both Labour and the Tories were complicit in authorising the unlawful adventure in Iraq, therefore neither will want the unhelpful publicity the inquiry might generate.
In the Channel 4 show, John Rentoul was appearing representing Tony Blair’s position. Mr Rentoul is apparently Blair’s biographer. If there’s one book that’s surely not worth the paper it’s written on, that must be it; because Mr Rentoul’s spirited defence of Blair suggested very strongly that impartial record-making is not likely to be much in evidence in his book. For Blair is surely the most evil person that Britain has produced in recent times, and anything that suggests otherwise is being very economical with the truth. The award for most wicked monster in modern times was undoubtedly held by Margaret Thatcher, until Blair came along. Let’s consider some of the more obvious charges against him.
When he was first brought to power in 1997, it was because the country was sick to death of years of Thatcherism (the “austerity” of its day). Margaret Thatcher was primarily responsible for starting the ruination of Britain, as it was she who began the plundering of public assets (selling-off public utilities such as British Rail and British Airways, British Gas and British Telecom), and the killing-off of Britain’s manufacturing base – the main source of the nation’s wealth. Thatcher was unquestionably a monster, but at least she never seriously pretended to be anything else: she was, after all, a Tory. If you vote Tory that’s the sort of thing you should expect to get. Blair, on the other hand, was quite different: he was also a traitor. In 1997 people voted for him in their millions expecting traditional Labour values to scrap the years of painful plundering, and a fresh start to rebuilding the country. What they got was yet more and more painful plundering. So that’s the first major charge against Blair: his utter betrayal of British voters in general, and Labour voters in particular.
Then, of course, came the illegal war in Iraq in 2003. We’ll possibly never know the full truth behind Blair’s involvement in this, but that he was hugely complicit in what was unquestionably a massive war crime is beyond doubt. So that’s the second charge against Blair: he’s a war criminal.
Those two charges are more than enough to ensure the man is forever reviled – on a par even with the worst of the worst Nazi war criminals. The Nazis could at least have pleaded that there was no historical precedent for such a thing as war crime. Nuremberg eliminated that excuse. In other words Blair, who is a trained lawyer, should have known full well he was committing a war crime. He just didn’t care. His hubris is such that he clearly deems himself above the law.
However, there’s something else that must not be forgotten, a charge that is arguably even more serious than the first two. When Blair ordered a country that was mostly opposed to war to subordinate itself to the American war criminal George Bush, he immediately signed the death warrants of 179 British military personnel and, which is even worse, ordered tens of thousands of British military personnel to become war criminals themselves, just like him. Although it’s highly unlikely that any British soldier will ever have to appear in a court of law to face such charges, the fact is that in theory at least they could. In theory, every man and woman who took part in Bush’s illegal war could be charged with committing a war crime; because Nuremberg ensured, rightly, that the plea of “just following orders” is no longer an acceptable excuse for taking part in the greatest abomination that human beings are capable of committing: war.
If there were such a thing as real justice Tony Blair should spend the rest of his days behind bars, and there are plenty of others who should join him.
The publication of a long-awaited inquiry into the UK’s participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath has once again been postponed until after the country’s general elections later this year.
On Wednesday, British media cited government sources as saying that the inquiry chairman, John Chilcot, will in an exchange of letters with Prime Minister David Cameron later in the day explain the reasons for the new postponement.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg reacted angrily to the news, saying the further delay is “incomprehensible.”
Clegg’s Liberal Democrats also suggested that the inquiry report is being “watered down” after those criticized in the report, such as then Prime Minister Tony Blair, were given the opportunity to respond to the findings.
The judge-led inquiry into how Blair led Britain into war in Iraq was ordered by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 and was expected to publish its findings within 18 months.
The Chilcot report had previously been delayed by rows over its criticism of leading figures in the Blair government. The report had also been delayed due to diplomatic negotiations between the US and the UK about what can be revealed from correspondence between Blair and former US President George W. Bush.
The report is believed to be highly critical of Blair, who is accused of misleading the British public about the reasons for joining the 2003 US-led Iraq war.
The US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law in 2003 over the allegation that the regime of then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). No WMDs, however, were ever found in Iraq.
In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”. As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.
As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.
According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck.
The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told… That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.”
A Finnish Government Commission of Enquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the “first stage in a decade of genocide”. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed. Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.
ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of some 700,000 people – in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.
Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda – like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” – seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed. “Rebel” Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote recently, “The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”
ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington and London who, in destroying Iraq as both a state and a society, conspired to commit an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in “our” societies.
It is 23 years since this holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive “sanctions” on the Iraqi population – ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, “blocked” – from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium.
Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. “The children’s vaccines”, he said, “were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”. The British Government could get away with such an outrage because media reporting of Iraq – much of it manipulated by the Foreign Office – blamed Saddam Hussein for everything.
Under a bogus “humanitarian” Oil for Food Programme, $100 was allotted for each Iraqi to live on for a year. This figure had to pay for the entire society’s infrastructure and essential services, such as power and water. “Imagine,” the UN Assistant Secretary General, Hans Von Sponeck, told me, “setting that pittance against the lack of clean water, and the fact that the majority of sick people cannot afford treatment, and the sheer trauma of getting from day to day, and you have a glimpse of the nightmare. And make no mistake, this is deliberate. I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable.”
Disgusted, Von Sponeck resigned as UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. His predecessor, Denis Halliday, an equally distinguished senior UN official, had also resigned. “I was instructed,” Halliday said, “to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.”
A study by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, the height of the blockade, there were 500,000 “excess” deaths of Iraqi infants under the age of five. An American TV reporter put this to Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, asking her, “Is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.”
In 2007, the senior British official responsible for the sanctions, Carne Ross, known as “Mr. Iraq”, told a parliamentary selection committee, “[The US and UK governments] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.” When I interviewed Carne Ross three years later, he was consumed by regret and contrition. “I feel ashamed,” he said. He is today a rare truth-teller of how governments deceive and how a compliant media plays a critical role in disseminating and maintaining the deception. “We would feed [journalists] factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he said, “or we’d freeze them out.”
On 25 September, a headline in the Guardian read: “Faced with the horror of Isis we must act.” The “we must act” is a ghost risen, a warning of the suppression of informed memory, facts, lessons learned and regrets or shame. The author of the article was Peter Hain, the former Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair. In 1998, when Denis Halliday revealed the extent of the suffering in Iraq for which the Blair Government shared primary responsibility, Hain abused him on the BBC’s Newsnight as an “apologist for Saddam”. In 2003, Hain backed Blair’s invasion of stricken Iraq on the basis of transparent lies. At a subsequent Labour Party conference, he dismissed the invasion as a “fringe issue”.
Now Hain is demanding “air strikes, drones, military equipment and other support” for those “facing genocide” in Iraq and Syria. This will further “the imperative of a political solution”. Obama has the same in mind as he lifts what he calls the “restrictions” on US bombing and drone attacks. This means that missiles and 500-pound bombs can smash the homes of peasant people, as they are doing without restriction in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia – as they did in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. On 23 September, a Tomahawk cruise missile hit a village in Idlib Province in Syria, killing as many as a dozen civilians, including women and children. None waved a black flag.
The day Hain’s article appeared, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck happened to be in London and came to visit me. They were not shocked by the lethal hypocrisy of a politician, but lamented the enduring, almost inexplicable absence of intelligent diplomacy in negotiating a semblance of truce. Across the world, from Northern Ireland to Nepal, those regarding each other as terrorists and heretics have faced each other across a table. Why not now in Iraq and Syria.
Like Ebola from West Africa, a bacteria called “perpetual war” has crossed the Atlantic. Lord Richards, until recently head of the British military, wants “boots on the ground” now. There is a vapid, almost sociopathic verboseness from Cameron, Obama and their “coalition of the willing” – notably Australia’s aggressively weird Tony Abbott – as they prescribe more violence delivered from 30,000 feet on places where the blood of previous adventures never dried. They have never seen bombing and they apparently love it so much they want it to overthrow their one potentially valuable ally, Syria. This is nothing new, as the following leaked UK-US intelligence file illustrates:
“In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces… a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals… a necessary degree of fear… frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS should use… capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”
That was written in 1957, though it could have been written yesterday. In the imperial world, nothing essentially changes. Last year, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that “two years before the Arab spring”, he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned. “I am going to tell you something,” he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria… Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate… This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.”
The only effective opponents of ISIS are accredited demons of the west – Syria, Iran, Hezbollah. The obstacle is Turkey, an “ally” and a member of NATO, which has conspired with the CIA, MI6 and the Gulf medievalists to channel support to the Syrian “rebels”, including those now calling themselves ISIS. Supporting Turkey in its long-held ambition for regional dominance by overthrowing the Assad government beckons a major conventional war and the horrific dismemberment of the most ethnically diverse state in the Middle East.
A truce – however difficult to achieve – is the only way out of this imperial maze; otherwise, the beheadings will continue. That genuine negotiations with Syria should be seen as “morally questionable” (the Guardian ) suggests that the assumptions of moral superiority among those who supported the war criminal Blair remain not only absurd, but dangerous.
Together with a truce, there should be an immediate cessation of all shipments of war materials to Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine. The issue of Palestine is the region’s most festering open wound, and the oft-stated justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.
More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger’s latest self-serving tome has just been released with its satirical title, “World Order”. In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a “key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century”. Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his “statecraft”. Only when “we” recognise the war criminals in our midst will the blood begin to dry.
Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger
A Dead Statesman
I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
– Rudyard Kipling, “Epitaphs of the War”
How can a just peace be achieved between the Israelis and the Palestinians? The answer is simply to appoint as peace envoy a war criminal who — like former French President Nicolas Sarkozy — also happens to be an Israeli sayan. Before qualifying as a fully fledged war criminal, Blair started out as a lawyer whose cosy, potentially corrupt, and now war criminal connection with Israel began in earnest in 1994 when he first met Michael Levy — an encounter that was calculated rather than fortuitous — at a dinner party hosted by Israeli diplomat Gideon Meir who, like Blair was friendly with Eldred Tabachnik, a senior barrister and Queens Council at 11 King’s Bench Walk, the chambers founded by Derry Irvine where Blair had been a junior tenant on its foundation in 1981. Tabachnik was also a former president (1994-2000) of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Following their initial meeting Blair and Levy became friends, tennis partners, and political cohorts with Levy running the Labour Leader’s Office Fund to finance Blair’s 1997 general election campaign which received substantial contributions from notables such as Alex Bernstein (Granada Group Chairman 1979-1996) and Robert Gavron (publishing). Generally referred to as “Lord Cashpoint” in media and political circles, Levy was the Labour Party’s leading fundraiser with over £100m raised between 1994 to 2007. After becoming Prime Minister, Blair ennobled Bernstein and Gavron and made Levy a life peer whom the Jerusalem Post — owned by the subsequently convicted felon Canadian newspaper publisher Conrad Black — described as “undoubtedly the notional leader of British Jewry.”
In 1998 Blair appointed Levy as his personal envoy to the Middle East and it is perhaps no coincidence that as a consequence of being financed and in effect controlled by Israeli interests, Blair — like the semi-illiterate President Bush in the U.S. — was inveigled into launching an illegal war against Iraq despite widespread opposition to such a conflict. The need for war was then “sold” to the British and American people on the basis of doctored intelligence reports backed by Blair’s now infamous claim to Parliament that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order to use them. Everyone now knows that the 45-minute claim was a blatant lie because Iraq had nothing even remotely resembling a weapon of mass destruction. So once again an AIPAC-controlled U.S.-led alliance was conned by Israel to wage war on Israel’s behalf against an “enemy” Arab neighbour. Other Israeli targets for Western alliance death and destruction included Iran and Syria.
“Lord Cashpoint” Levy, who praised Blair for his “solid and committed support of the State of Israel,” maintained close ties with Israel’s political leaders and kept a home in Herzliya, a city in the central coast of Israel. Daniel Levy, his son, was active in Israeli politics, and at one time served as an assistant to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and to Knesset member Yossi Beilin. Daniel — amongst other positions — is a senior research fellow of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation and director of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. It is the calculated placement of such dedicated, eager beaver people in strategic positions that exert influence over Western decision-making on the Middle East that favour Israel’s political purpose.
In March 2006 it was revealed that Tony Blair’s Labour Party had raised £14 million in loans from private individuals of whom some were later nominated for peerages. Levy was later arrested but released on bail pending Scotland Yard’s investigation into what came to be known as the “cash for honours” controversy. In July 2007 — one month after the Jewish Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith had stepped down at the same time as Blair — the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Levy would neither be prosecuted in connection with the affair nor face any other charges.
When Tony Blair and his disgraced Zionist “Lord Cashpoint” controller voluntarily decided to step down in June 2007, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the past decade, assumed the office of Prime Minister following the approval of Queen Elizabeth II. Having been for a long time Blair’s bitter competitor for residence at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Brown was not to be outdone and was himself bankrolled and influenced by Ronald Cohen who as the Labour Party’s fourth largest supporter was also ennobled. The Egyptian-born Lord Cohen was in 2002 an inaugural inductee into the Private Equity Hall of Fame, at the British Venture Capital Association and Real Deals’ Private Equity Awards. So long as money — corporate, Jewish or otherwise — is permitted by the majority of the people to influence and control the governance of a nation, then there can be no democracy because the people become conditioned subjects rather than citizens.
In June 2007 Blair was appointed Middle East envoy working on behalf of the U.S., Russia, the UN and the EU quartet with his sterling peace efforts resulting in Israel’s 2008 Operation Cast Lead. Being an Israeli stooge, however, has its rewards and in May 2009 Blair received the $1 million Dan David prize at a Tel Aviv university ceremony. Blair’s office stated that 90 percent of the money from the prize — which is named after Dan David, the Jewish-born Romanian international businessman who made his millions by setting up Photo-Me booths in shopping malls around the world — would be donated to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that promotes religious understanding by bringing together young people (excluding young Palestinian “beasts”) of different faiths.
This was followed up in September 2010 with the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal and $100,000 (£65,000) prize being awarded by former President Bill Clinton to Blair. The Center is an independent, non-profit organisation that promotes understanding of the U.S. constitution and its relevance. The $100,000 was to be donated to Blair’s charitable foundations. Officials acknowledged that Blair, who had just been forced to cancel promotional events for a new autobiography amid protests by critics of his role in the U.S.-led Iraq war, was a contentious choice. The Center’s Jewish (surprise, surprise) president David Eisner, said that “There is always an element of controversy when you pick people at the forefront of change. They are usually very controversial figures. We understand … how differently Tony Blair appears to be viewed by many people in the UK as compared with many people in the US.” That is probably because the British people had not forgotten how he deliberately involved Britain in a war on the strength of a barefaced Blair lie.
Following the September 2014 much criticised GQ glossy magazine’s “Philanthropist of the Year” award” to Blair, the Charity Commission has just announced that it will meet representatives of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) over concerns brought to its attention by former senior employee turned whistleblower, Martin Bright. Bright, who as editor of the TBFF website for the charity analysed religious conflict, has complained about Blair’s interference and effectively accused him of abusing his role as patron to use the charity as a think tank for his private office which allegedly spent large sums of money on a sizeable communications team whose priority appeared to be the protection Mr Blair’s image, rather than the promotion of the charity. Bright further maintained that “the Faith Foundation is an independent charity with Tony Blair as its patron. He is not supposed to have any executive role … But it was clear from the outset that … his [Mr Blair’s] reputation was to be protected at all costs.”
Though other Labour Party leaders have since endeavoured to jettison the pernicious legacy of the illegal Iraq war, Blair has steadfastly continued to maintain that he made the right decision . . . “If we hadn’t removed Saddam from power just think, for example, what would be happening if these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam, who’s probably 20 times as bad as Assad in Syria, was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq? Think of the consequences of leaving that regime in power.” Anyone thinking about it — taking into account how Iraq’s entire infrastructure has since been destroyed, its communities divided, and its people devastated with millions killed — would have to honestly conclude Iraq and its people were much better off under Saddam Hussein who as a war criminal was strictly an amateur compared to leaders like Blair, Bush Jr., and Barack Obama.
Apart from all the blood on his hands, Blair has also been busy stuffing his pockets with filthy lucre to the extent that his approximate earnings of £150,000 as Prime Minister are now dwarfed by varied estimates of tens of millions. Finally, Israeli stooge and war criminal Blair is to be given a knighthood — one of the Catholic church’s top awards — for “services to peace” by a gutless and hypocritical Pope who failed to condemn the recent butchery in Gaza while presiding over a Church that has always condemned the use of contraception so as to protect the the sanctity of human life.
William Hanna can be reached at: email@example.com.
There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.
The government of European country A launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists tell us that ‘something must be done.’ And something is done: NATO launches a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention to stop the government of country A. Country A is bombed for 78 days and nights. The country’s leader (who is labeled ‘The New Hitler’) is indicted for war crimes – and is later arrested and sent in an RAF plane to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, where he dies, un-convicted, in his prison cell.
The government of European country B launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. Western television doesn’t show pictures or at least not many) of people’s homes being shelled and people fleeing, although other television stations do. But here the US, UK and other NATO powers do not condemn the government, or accuse it of committing ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists do not tell us that ‘something must be done’ to stop the government of country B killing people. On the contrary, the same powers who supported action against country A, support the military offensive of the government in country B. The leader of country B is not indicted for war crimes, nor is he labeled ‘The New Hitler’ despite the support the government has got from far-right, extreme nationalist groups, but in fact, receives generous amounts of aid.
Anyone defending the policies of the government in country A, or in any way challenging the dominant narrative in the West is labeled a “genocide denier” or an “apologist for mass murder.” But no such opprobrium awaits those defending the military offensive of the government in country B. It’s those who oppose its policies who are smeared.
What makes the double standards even worse, is that by any objective assessment, the behavior of the government in country B, has been far worse than that of country A and that more human suffering has been caused by their aggressive actions.
In case you haven’t guessed it yet – country A is Yugoslavia, country B is Ukraine.
Yugoslavia, a different case
In 1998/9 Yugoslavian authorities were faced with a campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials by the pro-separatist and Western-backed Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA). The Yugoslav government responded by trying to defeat the KLA militarily, but their claims to be fighting against ’terrorism’ were haughtily dismissed by Western leaders. As the British Defence Secretary George Robertson and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook acknowledged in the period from 1998 to January 1999, the KLA had been responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Yugoslav authorities had been.
In the lead-up to the NATO action and during it, lurid claims were made about the numbers of people who had been killed or ‘disappeared’ by the Yugoslav forces. “Hysterical NATO and KLA estimates of the missing and presumably slaughtered Kosovan Albanians at times ran upwards of one hundred thousand, reaching 500, 000 in one State Department release. German officials leaked ‘intelligence’ about an alleged Serb plan called Operation Horseshoe to depopulate the province of its ethnic Albanians, and to resettle it with Serbs, which turned out to be an intelligence fabrication,” Edward Herman and David Peterson noted in their book The Politics of Genocide.
“We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe – from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing from a brutal dictatorship,” a solemn-faced Prime Minister Tony Blair told the British Parliament – just four years before an equally sombre Tony Blair told the British Parliament that we must act over the ‘threat’ posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.
Taking their cue from Tony Blair and Co., the media played their part in hyping up what was going on in Kosovo. Herman and Peterson found that newspapers used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Yugoslav actions in Kosovo 323 times compared to just 13 times for the invasion/occupation of Iraq despite the death toll in the latter surpassing that of Kosovo by 250 times.
In the same way we were expected to forget about the claims from Western politicians and their media marionettes about Iraq possessing WMDs in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, we are now expected to forget about the outlandish claims made about Kosovo in 1999.
But as the award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster John Pilger wrote in his article Reminders of Kosovo in 2004, “Lies as great as those told by Bush and Blair were deployed by Clinton and Blair in grooming of public opinion for an illegal, unprovoked attack on a European country.”
The overall death toll of the Kosovo conflict is thought to be between 3,000 and 4,000, but that figure includes Yugoslav army casualties, and Serbs and Roma and Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA. In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross listed the names of 1,754 people from all communities in Kosovo who were reported missing by their families.
The number of people killed by Yugoslav military at the time NATO launched its ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign, which itself killed between 400-600 people, is thought to be around 500, a tragic death toll but hardly “genocide.”
“Like Iraq’s fabled weapons of mass destruction, the figures used by the US and British governments and echoed by journalists were inventions- along with Serbian ‘rape camps’ and Clinton and Blair’s claims that NATO never deliberately bombed civilians,” says Pilger.
No matter what happens in Ukraine…
In Ukraine by contrast, the number of people killed by government forces and those supporting them has been deliberately played down, despite UN figures highlighting the terrible human cost of the Ukrainian government’s ‘anti-terrorist’ operation.
Last week, the UN’s Human Rights Office said that the death toll in the conflict in eastern Ukraine had doubled in the previous fortnight. Saying that they were “very conservative estimates,” the UN stated that 2,086 people (from all sides) had been killed and 5,000 injured. Regarding refugees, the UN says that around 1,000 people have been leaving the combat zone every day and that over 100,000 people have fled the region. Yet despite these very high figures, there have been no calls from leading Western politicians for ‘urgent action’ to stop the Ukrainian government’s military offensive. Articles from faux-left ‘humanitarian interventionists’ saying that ‘something must be done’ to end what is a clearly a genuine humanitarian crisis, have been noticeable by their absence.
There is, it seems, no “responsibility to protect” civilians being killed by government forces in the east of Ukraine, as there was in Kosovo, even though the situation in Ukraine, from a humanitarian angle, is worse than that in Kosovo in March 1999.
To add insult to injury, efforts have been made to prevent a Russian humanitarian aid convoy from entering Ukraine.
The convoy we are told is ‘controversial’ and could be part of a sinister plot by Russia to invade. This from the same people who supported a NATO bombing campaign on a sovereign state for “humanitarian” reasons fifteen years ago!
For these Western ‘humanitarians’ who cheer on the actions of the Ukrainian government, the citizens of eastern Ukraine are “non-people”: not only are they unworthy of our support or compassion, or indeed aid convoys, they are also blamed for their own predicament.
There are, of course, other conflicts which also highlight Western double standards towards ‘humanitarian intervention’. Israeli forces have killed over 2,000 Palestinians in their latest ruthless ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Gaza, which is far more people than Yugoslav forces had killed in Kosovo by the time of the 1999 NATO ‘intervention’. But there are no calls at this time for a NATO bombing campaign against Israel.
In fact, neocons and faux-left Zionists who have defended and supported Israel’s “anti-terrorist” Operation Protective Edge, and Operation Cast Lead before it, were among the most enthusiastic supporters of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Israel it seems is allowed to kill large numbers of people, including women and children, in its “anti-terrorist” campaigns, but Yugoslavia had no such “right” to fight an “anti-terrorist” campaign on its own soil.
In 2011, NATO went to war against Libya to prevent a “hypothetical” massacre in Benghazi, and to stop Gaddafi ‘killing his own people’; in 2014 Ukrainian government forces are killing their own people in large numbers, and there have been actual massacres like the appalling Odessa arson attack carried out by pro-government ‘radicals’, but the West hasn’t launched bombing raids on Kiev in response.
The very different approaches from the Western elite to ‘anti-terrorist’ operations in Kosovo and Ukraine (and indeed elsewhere) shows us that what matters most is not the numbers killed, or the amount of human suffering involved, but whether or not the government in question helps or hinders Western economic and military hegemonic aspirations.
In the eyes of the rapacious Western elites, the great ‘crime’ of the Yugoslav government in 1999 was that it was still operating, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an unreconstructed socialist economy, with very high levels of social ownership – as I highlighted here.
Yugoslavia under Milosevic was a country which maintained its financial and military independence. It had no wishes to join the EU or NATO, or surrender its sovereignty to anyone. For that refusal to play by the rules of the globalists and to show deference to the powerful Western financial elites, the country (and its leader) had to be destroyed. In the words of George Kenney, former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US State Department: “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”
By contrast, the government of Ukraine, has been put in power by the West precisely in order to further its economic and military hegemonic aspirations. Poroshenko, unlike the much- demonized Milosevic, is an oligarch acting in the interests of Wall Street, the big banks and the Western military-industrial complex. He’s there to tie up Ukraine to IMF austerity programs, to hand over his country to Western capital and to lock Ukraine into ‘Euro-Atlantic’ structures- in other words to transform it into an EU/IMF/NATO colony- right on Russia’s doorstep.
This explains why an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign waged by the Yugoslav government against ‘separatists’ in 1999 is ‘rewarded’ with fierce condemnation, a 78-day bombing campaign, and the indictment of its leader for war crimes, while a government waging an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign against ‘separatists’ in Ukraine in 2014, is given carte blanche to carry on killing. In the end, it’s not about how many innocent people you kill, or how reprehensible your actions are, but about whose interests you serve.
Was it appropriate for the Middle East peace envoy to throw a lavish party for political cronies and minor celebrities as Israel slaughtered over 1000 Palestinian civilians?
WHERE was Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair last week as Israel invaded Gaza and committed horrific war crimes, killing over 1000 Palestinians, 80% of them civilians, 200 of them children?
Not at his official residence and office in the millionaires’ row of East Jerusalem, which costs £750,000 a year, and from where he directs his somewhat less than successful efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
And what was Tony Blair doing, as Israel bombed hospitals, schools, centres for the disabled, and UN shelters to which 180,000 civilians fled — as at least 1000 homes were turned to rubble by random bombardment? What was he doing as the people in 46% of Gaza were warned by Israel to evacuate — without any indication of where they could go — or face being slaughtered by the world’s fifth most powerful military force?
What has been the Middle East’s Peace Envoy’s only visible contribution to finding a peaceful resolution to the carnage we have witnessed since 6 July, when Israel escalated its merciless attack on 1.8 million defenceless people, held captive by an inhumane siege, which for seven years has left them starved of food, clean water and essential resources, including medical supplies?
The only sighting has been his appearances on television in which his one purpose seems to be to repeat endlessly that he supports “Israel’s right to defend itself”. By killing 200 childen? is never the repost by his interviewers, least of all on the BBC, which, like Tony Blair, is a fully signed up contributor to Israel’s propaganda campaign justifying crimes against humanity.
So has the peace envoy been active behind the scenes, working tirelessly to bring the carnage to an end?
As far as we know, his only behind the scenes activity has been to act as messenge-boy for the scam Egyptian “ceasefire proposal”, which was actually hatched in Washington, with the terms drafted by Israel. Tony Blair’s errand was to deliver the proposal to US-backed Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for him then to announce it as his initiative. The Middle East peace envoy, whose role is supposedly intended to mediate between warring parties in the region, didn’t consider showing the ceasefire proposal to Hamas, which only learnt of it from the media and understandably rejected it as a one-sided demand to surrender. As Israel based journalist Jonathan Cook wrote,
The corporate media swallowed the line of Israel accepting the “ceasefire proposal” and Hamas rejecting it. What Hamas did was reject a US-Israeli diktat to sign away the rights of the people of Gaza to end a siege that cuts them off from the rest of the world.
Tony Blair was the natural choice to be the US and Israeli emissary to the Egyptian dictator el-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup last year that toppled the democratically elected government of president Mohamed Morsi. The Sisi regime is estimated to have killed more than 2,500 protesters and jailed more than 20,000. But that didn’t stop Blair at the beginning of July agreeing to “advise” the Egyptian dictator in a deal which is said to promise huge “business opportunities”.
Not for the first time, Blair is blurring the lines between his public position as peace envoy and his private business dealings in the Middle East. Which is why a group of former British ambassadors and political figures joined a campaign to call for Blair to be sacked as Middle East envoy
So where was Tony Blair last week, as the world watched in horror as Israel invaded Gaza with complete disregard for international and humanitarian law?
He was in the United Kingdom.
And what was his prime activity last week? It was planning a surprise 60th birthday party for his wife Cherie. Why she needed one to coincide with the news that Israel’s mass murder in Gaza had passed 1000 is not clear, as her 60th birthday isn’t actually due till September.
But there was the Middle East peace envoy on Friday 25 July, partying at a cost of £50,000 in his £6 million mansion, with 150 political cronies, wealthy businessmen and minor celebrities.
The next day, over 60,000 protesters brought central London to a standstill calling for the Gaza massacre to stop. Many thousands more demonstrated in towns and cities throughout the UK. And across the world, from San Francisco to Tel Aviv, on every continent, demonstrations called for an end to the killing, the siege to be lifted and Palestine to be free.
There is an ever-growing worldwide outrage that Israel is allowed with impunity to get away with such barbarity. As the Channel 4 News journalist Jon Snow put it: “Were any other country on Earth doing what is being done in Gaza, there would be worldwide uproar.”
And the response of Tony Blair, the Middle East peace envoy: “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Time to party.
As Israel buried Ariel Sharon amid eulogies from world figures, Tony Blair, a Butcher of Baghdad, paid a tribute to the Butcher of Beirut which included the line that Sharon: “didn’t think of peace as a dreamer, but did dream of peace.” Also that: “ … he sought peace with the same iron determination” as he had fought (read slaughtered, across the Middle East.) Re-writing history does not come more blatant, but Blair was ever good at fantasy, think “weapons of mass destruction” and “forty five minutes.”
Surgeon, Dr Swee Chai Ang went to help the wounded of Beirut after the 1982 Israeli invasion and witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacre of unarmed men woman and children, Palestinian and Lebanese, between the 15th-18th September,1982.
In her book “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, she describes the reality:
“As I walked through the camp alleys looking at the shattered homes (many of these houses had just been rebuilt following earlier bombardments by Israel) I wanted to cry aloud, but was too exhausted emotionally even to do that. How could little children come back to live in the room where their relatives were tortured and then killed? If the Palestinian Red Crescent Society could not function legally, who was going to look after the widows and orphans?
“Suddenly, someone threw his arms around me. It was Mahmoud, a little child who had broken his wrist while trying to help his father rebuild their broken home. He had survived and his wrist had mended, but now his father was dead. Mahmoud cried, but he was glad I was alive because, from his hiding place during the massacre, he had seen the soldiers taking us away. He thought they had killed me.
“Soon I was surrounded by a whole lot of children. Kids without homes, without parents, without futures. But they were the children of Sabra and the children of Shatila. One of them spotted my pocket camera, and wanted a picture taken. Then they all stood together, wanting their pictures taken. “They wanted me to show their picture to the people of the world. Even if they were killed and the camps were demolished, the world would know that they were the children of Sabra and Shatila, and were not afraid. As I focused my camera, they all held up their hands and made victory signs, right in front of their destroyed homes, where many had been killed. Dear little friends, you taught me what courage and struggle are about.”
Dr Swee Chai Ang founded Medical Aid for Palestine as a result of her experiences in Beirut and Sabra and Shatila. On the eve of Ariel Sharon’s burial, she wrote the following. It is published with her permission:
The passing of Ariel Sharon brought back the memories of the horrors of the Sabra Shatilla massacre of September,’82. I arrived in August that year as a volunteer surgeon to help the war victims of Lebanon. The people in Lebanon were wounded, made homeless and lost precious friends and families as the result of ten weeks of ruthless bombardment. That was the “Operation Peace for Galilee”, launched by Sharon who was then the Defence Minister of Israel in June 1982.
No one knew how many were killed as the result of that offensive – the London newspapers estimated a thirty thousand with many times more made homeless. When a ceasefire was agreed with the evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Sharon broke that ceasefire and drove tanks under air-cover launching a land invasion into Lebanon’s capitol Beirut. Part of the tanks sealed Sabra Shatilla and prevented the helpless civilian victims from escaping, while sending in Israel’s allies into the camps to carry out the most brutal massacre of defenceless women, children and old people under Israel’s watch. The blame was quickly and deliberately shifted to the Lebanese as perpetrators of the massacres, so that today no one can mention that massacre without blaming the Lebanese Phalange, yet forgetting the Israeli organisers of that event.
I worked in Gaza Hospital in Sabra Shatilla during the massacre trying to save the lives of a few dozen people, but outside the hospital hundreds were killed. My patients and I knew that Sharon and his officers were in control, and without them the massacre would not be possible. The residents of Sabra Shatilla could at least have escaped. Now more than 30 years later, we know that the killers were brought in by Israeli armoured cars and tanks, obeyed Israeli commands, their paths lit by Israeli military flares, and some of them also wore Israeli uniforms. The mutilated bodies of the victims were thrown into mass graves by Israeli bulldozers.
This Sharon continued on to be Israeli Prime Minister, and built the Wall which imprisoned the Palestinians in the West Bank. Sharon’s Wall cut through their lands, separating people from their homes, children from their schools, farmers from their orchards, patients from hospitals, husbands from wives, and children from parents. He marched into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem 2000 with fully armed Israeli soldiers and tried to have the West believe that his intention was for peace.
He was responsible for other massacres such as in Jenin, Qibya and Khan Yunis just to name a few. The older generation in Khan Yunis in Gaza remembers that he killed all the grown men in the massacre of 1956 and left only the women and children to bury the dead.
I thought these facts should be publicised. Those who eulogise Sharon in his role of building Israel should also remember that he built his nation over the dead bodies of the Palestinian people, and the continued dispossession of those who are still alive.
– Dr Ang Swee Chai is the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, Published by International Librarie, Beirut12 January 2014.
– 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.
The US government has explicitly ordered Britain not to publish the contents of the four-year-long inquiry into the Iraq War carried out by Sir John Chilcot.
The administration of US President Barack Obama insists that certain parts of the Iraq Inquiry, known as the Chilcot Inquiry, could not be released as it is focused on the pre-war conspiracy hatched by the former US president George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, The Independent has revealed.
Tony Blair led Britain into the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 on the false pretext that the country’s Ba’athist regime possessed ready-to-use weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). No such arms were ever found in Iraq, but hundreds of thousands lost their lives following the invasion.
According to some leaks from the inquiry, Bush and Blair began conspiring for the Iraq War only weeks after Bush was inaugurated as the US president in 2001.
Now, the US government claims that Bush-Blair conversations and even those comments made by Blair to the inquiry are the property of the US government and has therefore decided to keep them classified.
“The US are highly possessive when documents relate to the presence of the President or anyone close to him. Tony Blair is involved in a dialogue in many of these documents, and naturally someone else is at the other end – the [US] President. Therefore this is not Tony Blair’s or the UK government’s property to disclose,” said one high-placed diplomatic source.
According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “Chilcot, or anyone in London, does not decide what documents relating to a US President are published.”
This comes as Prime Minister David Cameron has told Chilcot in a letter that some documents needed to be “handled sensitively.”
Elaborating on Cameron’s statements, the Cabinet Office told The Independent: “It is in the public’s interests that exchanges between the UK Prime Minister and the US President are privileged. The whole premise about withholding them [from publication] is to ensure that we do not prejudice our relations with the United States.”
Therefore, the authors of the inquiry’s final report, including Chilcot and his team, are under heavy pressure not to hurt the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and the US.
It’s also expected that they will publish a neutral report in spring next year which will lack evidence to charge Blair with serious policy failures, and it may also be such a redacted report as to be meaningless and a waste of almost £8 million of British taxpayers’ money.
- Lord Owen calls for release of Blair and Bush Iraq evidence (theguardian.com)
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?
We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as “plausible denial.”
We have been down this road before – with President George W. Bush, to whom we addressed our first VIPS memorandum immediately after Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. speech, in which he peddled fraudulent “intelligence” to support attacking Iraq. Then, also, we chose to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt, thinking he was being misled – or, at the least, very poorly advised.
The fraudulent nature of Powell’s speech was a no-brainer. And so, that very afternoon we strongly urged your predecessor to “widen the discussion beyond … the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.” We offer you the same advice today.
Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you.
We have observed John Brennan closely over recent years and, sadly, we find what our former colleagues are now telling us easy to believe. Sadder still, this goes in spades for those of us who have worked with him personally; we give him zero credence. And that goes, as well, for his titular boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has admitted he gave “clearly erroneous” sworn testimony to Congress denying NSA eavesdropping on Americans.
Intelligence Summary or Political Ploy?
That Secretary of State John Kerry would invoke Clapper’s name this week in Congressional testimony, in an apparent attempt to enhance the credibility of the four-page “Government Assessment” strikes us as odd. The more so, since it was, for some unexplained reason, not Clapper but the White House that released the “assessment.”
This is not a fine point. We know how these things are done. Although the “Government Assessment” is being sold to the media as an “intelligence summary,” it is a political, not an intelligence document. The drafters, massagers, and fixers avoided presenting essential detail. Moreover, they conceded upfront that, though they pinned “high confidence” on the assessment, it still fell “short of confirmation.”
Déjà Fraud: This brings a flashback to the famous Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002, on Iraq, The minutes record that Richard Dearlove, then head of British intelligence, reporting to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior officials that President Bush had decided to remove Saddam Hussein through military action that would be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” Dearlove had gotten the word from then-CIA Director George Tenet whom he visited at CIA headquarters on July 20.
The discussion that followed centered on the ephemeral nature of the evidence, prompting Dearlove to explain: “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” We are concerned that this is precisely what has happened with the “intelligence” on Syria.
There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.
According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.
We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.
In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.
Senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development,” which, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.
At operations coordinating meetings at Antakya, attended by senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials as well as senior commanders of the Syrian opposition, the Syrians were told that the bombing would start in a few days. Opposition leaders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the U.S. bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Bashar al-Assad government
The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. And they were. A weapons distribution operation unprecedented in scope began in all opposition camps on August 21-23. The weapons were distributed from storehouses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of U.S. intelligence officers.
That the various groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have ample incentive to get the U.S. more deeply involved in support of that effort is clear. Until now, it has not been quite as clear that the Netanyahu government in Israel has an equally powerful incentive to get Washington more deeply engaged in yet another war in the area. But with outspoken urging coming from Israel and those Americans who lobby for Israeli interests, this priority Israeli objective is becoming crystal clear.
Reporter Judi Rudoren, writing from Jerusalem in an important article in Friday’s New York Times addresses Israeli motivation in an uncommonly candid way. Her article, titled “Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria,” notes that the Israelis have argued, quietly, that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome. Rudoren continues:
“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.
“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”
We think this is the way Israel’s current leaders look at the situation in Syria, and that deeper U.S. involvement – albeit, initially, by “limited” military strikes – is likely to ensure that there is no early resolution of the conflict in Syria. The longer Sunni and Shia are at each other’s throats in Syria and in the wider region, the safer Israel calculates that it is.
That Syria’s main ally is Iran, with whom it has a mutual defense treaty, also plays a role in Israeli calculations. Iran’s leaders are not likely to be able to have much military impact in Syria, and Israel can highlight that as an embarrassment for Tehran.
Iran can readily be blamed by association and charged with all manner of provocation, real and imagined. Some have seen Israel’s hand in the provenance of the most damaging charges against Assad regarding chemical weapons and our experience suggests to us that such is supremely possible.
Possible also is a false-flag attack by an interested party resulting in the sinking or damaging, say, of one of the five U.S. destroyers now on patrol just west of Syria. Our mainstream media could be counted on to milk that for all it’s worth, and you would find yourself under still more pressure to widen U.S. military involvement in Syria – and perhaps beyond, against Iran.
Iran has joined those who blame the Syrian rebels for the August 21 chemical incident, and has been quick to warn the U.S. not to get more deeply involved. According to the Iranian English-channel Press TV, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif has claimed: “The Syria crisis is a trap set by Zionist pressure groups for [the United States].”
Actually, he may be not far off the mark. But we think your advisers may be chary of entertaining this notion. Thus, we see as our continuing responsibility to try to get word to you so as to ensure that you and other decision makers are given the full picture.
We hope your advisers have warned you that retaliation for attacks on Syrian are not a matter of IF, but rather WHERE and WHEN. Retaliation is inevitable. For example, terrorist strikes on U.S. embassies and other installations are likely to make what happened to the U.S. “Mission” in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, look like a minor dust-up by comparison. One of us addressed this key consideration directly a week ago in an article titled “Possible Consequences of a U.S. Military Attack on Syria – Remembering the U.S. Marine Barracks Destruction in Beirut, 1983.”
For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Thomas Drake, Senior Executive, NSA (former)
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan
Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
W. Patrick Lang, Senior Executive and Defense Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.)
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)
Todd Pierce, US Army Judge Advocate General (ret.)
Sam Provance, former Sgt., US Army, Iraq
Coleen Rowley, Division Council & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)
Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret); Foreign Service Officer (ret.)
Now that Prime Minister David Cameron has sought parliamentary approval for “military action” against Syria and President Barack Obama has announced his intention to seek congressional approval, can President François Hollande, as a political if not a strictly constitutional matter, afford not to do likewise?
A parliamentary session devoted to Syria is already scheduled for September 4, although no formal vote had been planned.
Hollande’s Socialist Party has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly and a razor-thin majority in the Senate. Party discipline in France tends to be more rigid and dependable than in the U.S. and the U.K., but the most recent poll showed 64% of the French people opposed to French involvement in any “military action” against Syria.
It would therefore be both highly interesting and encouraging for the future of democracy in France if Hollande were to permit a free and open debate and vote on this important issue.
However, there is another important issue which Hollande should keep in mind or factor into his thinking if no one has yet alerted to it.
When the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court was being negotiated, certain Western states insisted on a seven-year moratorium before the “crime of aggression” was added to the crimes over which the ICC would have jurisdiction if they were committed either by a State Party of the ICC or on the territory a State Party. This effectively gave habitual and potential aggressors a window of opportunity to continue committing acts of aggression, which was very fortunate for former British prime minister Tony Blair, whose country is a State Party but who therefore enjoys immunity and impunity (at least insofar as ICC jurisdiction is concerned) with respect to his role in the crime of aggression against Iraq in 2003.
However, that window of opportunity was closed on June 11, 2010, when the crime of aggression was inserted into the Rome Statute as one of the crimes over which the ICC now has jurisdiction.
While neither Syria nor the United States is among the 122 States Parties of the ICC (so that only a referral by the UN Security Council can give the ICC jurisdiction over their citizens or over crimes committed on their territory), France is a State Party of the ICC.
Article 8bis (1) of the Rome Statute, as added in 2010, reads: “For the purposes of this Statute, ‘crime of aggression’ means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.” Included in the subsequent listing of acts constituting “aggression” is, at Article 8bis (2)(b): “Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State.”
In the absence of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing “military action” against Syria, these provisions fit the aggression being planned by Presidents Obama and Hollande “like a glove”. Even the most imaginative defense lawyer would struggle to imagine a defense.
The ICC is understandably uncomfortable with the awkward fact that, in over a decade of existence, it has indicted only Africans. If for no other reason than the institutional imperative of the court’s own credibility, there is a compelling need to indict some non-African as soon as the court’s restricted jurisdiction and the gravity and exemplarity of a crime permit.
Nothing could enhance the credibility of the court more than the indictment of the head of state or government of one of the major Western powers.
At the same time, nothing else could so constructively enhance the concept and stature of international law, the belief that international law is not simply (as it has tended to be) a stick with which the rich and powerful beat the poor and weak and the idea that even the rich and powerful do not enjoy immunity and impunity before the rules of international law.
Indeed, nothing else could so effectively enhance the chances for a more peaceful world.
For any number of good reasons, it is to be fervently hoped that, in the end, François Hollande will not choose to participate in the “planning, preparation, initiation or execution” of the crime of aggression against Syria. However, should he do so, his transfer to The Hague could be the only good result of this folly.
John V. Whitbeck is a Paris-based international lawyer.