John Pilger hits the ground running in his article in today’s New Statesman. “In a show trial whose theatrical climax was clearly timed to promote George W Bush in the American midterm elections”, he begins, “Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced to hang. Drivel about “end of an era” and “a new start for Iraq” was promoted by the usual false moral accountants, who uttered not a word about bringing the tyrant’s accomplices to justice. Why are these accomplices not being charged with aiding and abetting crimes against humanity?”.
Please sit down before reading on, because I have some shocking news for you. Pilger doesn’t mean the accomplices Brett mentions in his post below this one, the Soviet, French and Chinese accomplices, who between them provided 93.4% of arms sales to Iraq between 1973 and 1990. No, he means people like Douglas Hurd. “Why isn’t Douglas Hurd being charged?”, he asks. “In 1981, as Foreign Office minister, Hurd travelled to Baghdad to sell Saddam a British Aerospace missile system and to “celebrate” the anniversary of Saddam’s blood-soaked ascent to power”. And of course if Hurd broke any laws in doing this then it’s quite right for him to be charged. The same goes for his former cabinet colleague, Tony Newton, who as Pilger says offered Saddam £340m in export credits with in a month of his attack of Halabja. If these export credits were offered illegally, then let’s put Tony Newton in the dock as well. Who else is there? Well there’s Donald Rumsfeld, obviously. “In December 1983, Rumsfeld was in Baghdad to signal America’s approval of Iraq’s aggression against Iran. Rumsfeld was back in Baghdad on 24 March 1984, the day that the United Nations reported that Iraq had used mustard gas laced with a nerve agent against Iranian soldiers. Rumsfeld said nothing”. If, under any jurisdiction to which Donald Rumsfeld is subject, it’s a crime to say nothing on the day the United Nations reports that Iraq has used mustard gas laced with a nerve agent against Iranian soldiers, then let’s throw the book at him, too.
“Above all, why aren’t Blair and Bush Jnr being charged”, asks Pilger. And, less predictably, “Why aren’t those who spread and amplified propaganda that led to such epic suffering being charged?…The BBC all but celebrated the invasion with its man in Downing Street congratulating Blair on being ‘conclusively right’ on his assertion that he and Bush ‘would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath'”. This shadowy creature is none other than BBC Political Editor Andrew Marr, who on April 9th 2003, after the fall of Baghdad told News at Ten: “He said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right. And it would be entirely ungracious, even for his critics, not to acknowledge that tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result”.
This was reported by MediaLens on April 11th, along with a list of other BBC spreaders and amplifiers of propaganda, such as Nicholas “It is absolutely, without a doubt, a vindication of the strategy” Witchell, Mark “It has been a vindication for him” Mardell, Rageh “It was a moment I’d never, ever prepared myself for” Omar, and last but not least Natasha “He has become, again, Teflon Tony” Kaplinsky. Even controversial poppy refusenik Jon Snow doesn’t escape criticism. As MediaLens reports, “On Channel 4, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, told Jon Snow that he had met with the French foreign minister that day: “Did he look chastened?” asked Snow, wryly”.
Let’s charge them all. Lock up Kaplinsky and throw away the key. Oddly, John Pilger doesn’t call for Jacques Chirac to be charged. In 1975 Chirac invited Saddam Hussein to Paris and showed him round a nuclear plant, before agreeing to sell Iraq two nuclear reactors and 133 Mirage F1 jet fighters. In 1987 Chirac wrote to Saddam Hussein, addressing him as “My dear friend”, and referring to the earlier visit as the “co-operation launched more than 12 years ago under our personal joint initiative, in this capital district for the sovereignty, independence and security of your country”. Why isn’t Chirac being charged? My guess is that it’s because he did nothing illegal. If any of the others did, then by all means charge them. But my guess is they didn’t either.