Prosecuting Bush's Poodle
Editor’s Note: In the United Kingdom, a furor is growing over why its government joined the invasion of Iraq, a public anger fueled by an official investigation into the facts behind the war. The UK’s news media has also pressed former Prime Minister Tony Blair for answers.
In the United States, however, neither political leaders nor the news media want to touch the issue of how President George W. Bush misguided the nation into the disastrous and bloody conflict, as David Swanson notes in this guest essay:
Compare Tony Blair's latest confession to mass murder with Bush's.
The BBC has just aired an interview of Blair in which he was asked whether he would have attacked Iraq even if he had known there were no "weapons of mass destruction" there. Blair replied:
"I would still have thought it right to remove him."
Him is, of course, Saddam Hussein. And of course Blair did know that Iraq had no serious weapons and that any such weapons were not Bush's real motivation. The Downing Street Minutes record a meeting at which Blair was informed of that fact. The White House Memo (from Jan. 31, 2003) does the same.
Blair tells the BBC that he would have gone to war because Iraq posed a "threat to the region." Never mind that the Downing Street Minutes record the Foreign Secretary informing Blair that,
"Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."
And never mind that in the same meeting the Attorney General told Blair, as he told him again just afterwards in a letter, that regime change was not a legal basis for war.
Back on Dec. 16, 2003, ABC News aired an interview in which Diane Sawyer asked George W. Bush about the claims he had made about "weapons of mass destruction," and he replied:
"What's the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger."
Yes, what’s the difference?
No big deal.
Just a million human beings killed and four million displaced.
Iraqi deaths as a result of the invasion and occupation, measured above the high death rate under international sanctions preceding the attack, are estimated at 1.2 million by two independent sources (Just Foreign Policy’s updated figure based on the Johns Hopkins/Lancet report, and the British polling company Opinion Research Business’s estimate as of August 2007).
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Iraqis who have fled their homes has reached 4.7 million.
If these estimates are accurate, a total of nearly 6 million human beings had been displaced from their homes or killed. Many times that many have certainly been injured, traumatized, impoverished, and deprived of clean water and other basic needs.
Now let's compare the reaction to Blair's confession in the UK with the reaction to Bush's in the United States. First Blair. AFP reports:
"Lawyers representing the deposed Iraqi leadership said they would seek to prosecute Blair following his remarks, while one newspaper commentator said it was a 'game-changing admission' for the ongoing official inquiry into the war.
“Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix added: 'The war was sold on the WMD, and now you feel, or hear that it was only a question of deployment of arguments, as he said, it sounds a bit like a fig leaf that was held up.'
"Blair is due to give evidence to the inquiry into the war, led by former civil servant John Chilcot, early next year, and the commentator in the Sunday Telegraph said the investigation's focus must now change. 'Mr Blair's game-changing admission gives them a licence to be tougher and more prosecutorial,' he wrote, a call echoed by campaigners at Stop the War Coalition, who urged Chilcot's inquiry to recommend legal action against Blair.
“Professor Philippe Sands, a leading international lawyer, said he believed Blair's comments had left him vulnerable to legal proceedings."
Now Bush in the United States:
[Sound of crickets chirping.]
Actually, the U.S. corporate media did have a response to Bush turning the WMD claims into a joke at a Washington press-politico dinner party in 2004 (when he showed slides of himself looking under chairs for Iraq’s WMD): they laughed along with him and congressional leaders.
And yet, a grassroots movement has been created in the United States that is going to be taking advantage of every opportunity growing out of the prosecution of Bush's poodle to hold the poodle's owner responsible.
David Swanson is the author of the new book Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union by Seven Stories Press. You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book. [This article previously appeared at Afterdowningstreet.org.]
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