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45 minutes or 45 days not the issue

Gerard Killoran argues that the WMD dossier and Hutton Inquiry are part of the Blair spinning exercise of untruths to justify war

I have another modest proposal. Tony Blair and others in the government should be forced to resign and given the opportunity to defend their decision to go to war in a court of law. After all you’d expect that a government caught telling lies to justify an illegal war would be forced to resign and face criminal charges, but New Labour has abandoned Old Labour concerns for truth, justice and honour. Ian Duncan-Smith made a typically appalling speech at the Tory Party conference, but at least he had the guts to drop the gentleman’s agreement of British politics and directly accuse Tony Blair of being a liar. The liberal media reacted in horror at such gross discourtesy, even Roy Hattersley seems to have a touching, Andrew Marr-like faith in Blair’s honesty and sincerity, but does Roy really believe Blair’s version of the Ecclestone, Mittal, and Hinduja scandals? Blair, the self-professed ‘pretty straight guy’ reminds me of the old Midlands saying, ‘He’s so twisted that if he ate nails - he’d shit screws’.

All we have is a limited investigation into the death of one man, when the deaths of thousands of others in Iraq are not even being recorded. At the time of writing the outcome of the Hutton Inquiry is unknown, but we can be fairly confident that Tony Blair and his Cabinet will survive. Another senior judge Lord Denning tried to justify the Birmingham Six remaining in prison as the alternative would be ‘an appalling vista’. So we can have little faith in judges upsetting the natural order. The inquiry itself into the reasons for David Kelly’s death is a sideshow, his suicide could even have something to do with his friendship with Sergeant Mai Pedersen, described in the Mail on Sunday as, ‘a flirtatious divorcee, a spy for the American Air Force’ and the woman who recruited him into the Baha’i faith. Sadly, the exotic Ms Pedersen was not called to give evidence to Lord Hutton.

Neither will there be an inquiry into Blair’s pretext for war, but weapons of mass destruction, whether ready in 45 minutes, 45 days or 45 years, had nothing to do with the decision to invade Iraq. The WMD argument was cooked up in an attempt to get the approval of the UN, and failing that, to persuade the British and American public. Whereas Bush didn’t care if WMDs were found or not. After all, if finding them was important to the US, they would have planted some by now. It seems Blair gambled that they would find something even if it was a few rusty shells leaking mustard gas as the WMD claim gave Labour MPs an excuse to ignore their constituency parties and vote for war. It hasn’t done Tony Blair any good that they have been made to look gullible as well as cowardly.

Blair knew from the intelligence we were not allowed to see that Iraq had destroyed at least 95% of its chemical and biological capability and that only some stocks of mustard gas were likely to remain. The dossier that contained the 45 minute claim was a distortion of intelligence from beginning to end. We know this from the extraordinary, devastating and so ignored evidence from Andrew Wilkie given to the Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday 19 June 2003. Wilkie is a former senior intelligence adviser to the Australian prime minister who resigned on 11 March 2003 in protest against Australian plans to take part in the invasion of Iraq. Wilkie testified that the dossier bore no similarity to any intelligence document he had ever seen. Such a document would never emerge as all the ifs, buts and qualifications had been removed turning speculation into fact and ignoring counter-evidence. In short, the whole document had been ‘sexed-up’ and by everyone who had a hand in it.

Wilkie testified that, ‘The fictions about Iraq’s weapons programmes could be a best selling fairytale’ and that the dossier relied on ‘...garbage-grade human intelligence’. The Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay informed Wilkie that, “Nobody has suggested in the United Kingdom that the September document is flawed or is a piece of propaganda.” and went on to say, “nobody else, not even the people who criticised the Government’s stewardship of this, not even people making serious allegations against the Government as regards what they put in the public domain, is suggesting that the document you have before you is anything other than a product of the security and intelligence services through the system, save the inclusion of one particular aspect, namely the 45 minutes thing...”. It does make one wonder which planet Andrew Mackinlay represents.

If WMDs were not the reason we went to war with Iraq, and the links with Al Qaida never existed, it is even more ludicrous to believe that Bush and Blair went to war to help the poor downtrodden people of Iraq and liberate them from the despotic rule of Saddam Hussein when it was the British and the Americans who inflicted non-military sanctions on Iraq which led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Deaths which Blair shamelessly tried to blame on Hussein. But the USA and Britain went to war for more than just oil. No, the huge reserves of oil lying under the sand are just part of an interlocking complex of motives for the United States which consist of control of the world’s gas and oil supplies, the need to maintain a military-industrial complex, the elimination of Israel’s regional enemies and the political domination of the Eurasian land mass.

It may come as a surprise to most people that the ideological inspiration for the latter ambition is a British geographer, Sir Halford John Mackinder (1861 – 1947) who is said to be the inspiration for Bush’s ultra-hawkish Deputy Secretary of Defence, Paul Wolfowitz. Mackinder’s Heartland theory is taught at the Pentagon and I found this in an article about Mackinder in an edition of Parameters the US Army War College Quarterly:

“One of the reasons that Mackinder is being resurrected yet again is because policymakers are searching for ways to conceptualize and deal with the heart of his Heartland—Central Asia and the Caspian Sea—which is a region that has the potential to become a major source of great-power contention in the next century. Some analysts estimate that the fossil fuels in the region will transform it into a ‘new Saudi Arabia’ in the coming decades.’ (Parameters, Summer 2000)

Mackinder summarised his theory in Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919) thus:
Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; (Eurasia)
Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; (Eurasia and Africa)
Who rules the World Island commands the World.

The geostrategic problem for the USA is that it is separated from the great land mass that contains most of the world’s population, markets and resources. The solution is occupation. I think Sir Halford John Mackinder needs to be better known in his own country.

New Labour sees Britain’s role as Mini-Me to America’s Doctor Evil and we will go along with any and all of their imperial ambitions for no other reason than that it will be good for British capitalism and British based multi-nationals who can expect tasty morsels after Exxon and Halliburton have had their share of the spoils.

Of course Blair must go, but it’s a depressing activity speculating on who could be a heartbeat away from the job of Labour Party leader with Gordon Brown playing Tweedledum to Blair’s Tweedledumber. Despite being official deputy, John Prescott’s only plus is that while he has even more homes than Jags, he has fewer than Michael Meacher - otherwise he’s a bigger joke than ever. Jack Straw is as complicit as Blair in Iraq despite the leaking of memos which conveniently make him appear reluctant to go to war - you can’t have it both ways Jack.

Alan Milburn and Stephen Byers have been posturing as reborn-again lefties but are Blairite automata to their hollow cores. Peter Hain’s performance as the new ‘conscience of the left’ is even funnier than that of the previous title-holder, Clare Short. Hain however has the distinction of being greasier than the pole he’s shinning up. Former warmonger turned pacifist Robin Cook is angling to be Neil Kinnock’s successor, giving him the opportunity to puff himself up again on the European stage, but surely that job is pencilled in for Peter Mandelson, the Uriah Heep of British politics.

A big broom will be needed to sweep this lot away and perhaps it is pessimism or a failure of imagination but I can’t think of anything more likely to play the part of a big broom than a disastrous defeat for Labour at the next election.