Blair Is A Coward
John Pilger: His most damning verdict on Tony Blair
By John Pilger
Mirror" --- -- William Russell, the great
correspondent who reported the carnage of imperial wars,
may have first used the expression "blood on his hands"
to describe impeccable politicians who, at a safe
distance, order the mass killing of ordinary people.
In my experience "on his hands" applies especially to
those modern political leaders who have had no personal
experience of war, like George W Bush, who managed not
to serve in Vietnam, and the effete Tony Blair.
There is about them the essential cowardice of the man
who causes death and suffering not by his own hand but
through a chain of command that affirms his "authority".
In 1946 the judges at Nuremberg who tried the Nazi
leaders for war crimes left no doubt about what they
regarded as the gravest crimes against humanity.
The most serious was unprovoked invasion of a sovereign
state that offered no threat to one's homeland. Then
there was the murder of civilians, for which
responsibility rested with the "highest authority".
Blair is about to commit both these crimes, for which he
is being denied even the flimsiest United Nations cover
now that the weapons inspectors have found, as one put
Like those in the dock at Nuremberg, he has no
Using the archaic "royal prerogative" he did not consult
parliament or the people when he dispatched 35,000
troops and ships and aircraft to the Gulf; he consulted
a foreign power, the Washington regime.
Unelected in 2000, the Washington regime of George W
Bush is now totalitarian, captured by a clique whose
fanaticism and ambitions of "endless war" and "full
spectrum dominance" are a matter of record.
All the world knows their names: Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice,
Wolfowitz, Cheney and Perle, and Powell, the false
liberal. Bush's State of the Union speech last night was
reminiscent of that other great moment in 1938 when
Hitler called his generals together and told them: "I
must have war." He then had it.
To call Blair a mere "poodle" is to allow him distance
from the killing of innocent Iraqi men, women and
children for which he will share responsibility.
He is the embodiment of the most dangerous appeasement
humanity has known since the 1930s. The current American
elite is the Third Reich of our times, although this
distinction ought not to let us forget that they have
merely accelerated more than half a century of
unrelenting American state terrorism: from the atomic
bombs dropped cynically on Japan as a signal of their
new power to the dozens of countries invaded, directly
or by proxy, to destroy democracy wherever it collided
with American "interests", such as a voracious appetite
for the world's resources, like oil.
When you next hear Blair or Straw or Bush talk about
"bringing democracy to the people of Iraq", remember
that it was the CIA that installed the Ba'ath Party in
Baghdad from which emerged Saddam Hussein.
YELLOW: Tony Blair and George Bush
"That was my favourite coup," said the CIA man
responsible. When you next hear Blair and Bush talking
about a "smoking gun" in Iraq, ask why the US government
last December confiscated the 12,000 pages of Iraq's
weapons declaration, saying they contained "sensitive
information" which needed "a little editing".
Sensitive indeed. The original Iraqi documents listed
150 American, British and other foreign companies that
supplied Iraq with its nuclear, chemical and missile
technology, many of them in illegal transactions. In
2000 Peter Hain, then a Foreign Office Minister, blocked
a parliamentary request to publish the full list of
lawbreaking British companies. He has never explained
As a reporter of many wars I am constantly aware that
words on the page like these can seem almost abstract,
part of a great chess game unconnected to people's
The most vivid images I carry make that connection. They
are the end result of orders given far away by the likes
of Bush and Blair, who never see, or would have the
courage to see, the effect of their actions on ordinary
lives: the blood on their hands.
Let me give a couple of examples. Waves of B52 bombers
will be used in the attack on Iraq. In Vietnam, where
more than a million people were killed in the American
invasion of the 1960s, I once watched three ladders of
bombs curve in the sky, falling from B52s flying in
formation, unseen above the clouds.
They dropped about 70 tons of explosives that day in
what was known as the "long box" pattern, the military
term for carpet bombing. Everything inside a "box" was
When I reached a village within the "box", the street
had been replaced by a crater.
I slipped on the severed shank of a buffalo and fell
hard into a ditch filled with pieces of limbs and the
intact bodies of children thrown into the air by the
The children's skin had folded back, like parchment,
revealing veins and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while
the eyes, intact, stared straight ahead. A small leg had
been so contorted by the blast that the foot seemed to
be growing from a shoulder. I vomited.
I am being purposely graphic. This is what I saw, and
often; yet even in that "media war" I never saw images
of these grotesque sights on television or in the pages
of a newspaper.
I saw them only pinned on the wall of news agency
offices in Saigon as a kind of freaks' gallery.
SOME years later I often came upon terribly deformed
Vietnamese children in villages where American aircraft
had sprayed a herbicide called Agent Orange.
It was banned in the United States, not surprisingly for
it contained Dioxin, the deadliest known poison.
This terrible chemical weapon, which the cliche-mongers
would now call a weapon of mass destruction, was dumped
on almost half of South Vietnam.
Today, as the poison continues to move through water and
soil and food, children continue to be born without
palates and chins and scrotums or are stillborn. Many
You never saw these children on the TV news then; they
were too hideous for their pictures, the evidence of a
great crime, even to be pinned up on a wall and they are
old news now.
That is the true face of war. Will you be shown it by
satellite when Iraq is attacked? I doubt it.
I was starkly reminded of the children of Vietnam when I
travelled in Iraq two years ago. A paediatrician showed
me hospital wards of children similarly deformed: a
phenomenon unheard of prior to the Gulf war in 1991.
She kept a photo album of those who had died, their
smiles undimmed on grey little faces. Now and then she
would turn away and wipe her eyes.
More than 300 tons of depleted uranium, another weapon
of mass destruction, were fired by American aircraft and
tanks and possibly by the British.
Many of the rounds were solid uranium which, inhaled or
ingested, causes cancer. In a country where dust carries
everything, swirling through markets and playgrounds,
children are especially vulnerable.
For 12 years Iraq has been denied specialist equipment
that would allow its engineers to decontaminate its
It has also been denied equipment and drugs that would
identify and treat the cancer which, it is estimated,
will affect almost half the population in the south.
LAST November Jeremy Corbyn MP asked the Junior Defence
Minister Adam Ingram what stocks of weapons containing
depleted uranium were held by British forces operating
His robotic reply was: "I am withholding details in
accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on
Access to Government Information."
Let us be clear about what the Bush-Blair attack will do
to our fellow human beings in a country already stricken
by an embargo run by America and Britain and aimed not
at Saddam Hussein but at the civilian population, who
are denied even vaccines for the children. Last week the
Pentagon in Washington announced matter of factly that
it intended to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and
psychologically" by raining down on its people 800
cruise missiles in two days.
This will be more than twice the number of missiles
launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War.
A military strategist named Harlan Ullman told American
television: "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad.
The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never
been contemplated before."
The strategy is known as Shock and Awe and Ullman is
apparently its proud inventor. He said: "You have this
simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at
Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but minutes."
What will his "Hiroshima effect" actually do to a
population of whom almost half are children under the
age of 14?
The answer is to be found in a "confidential" UN
document, based on World Health Organisation estimates,
which says that "as many as 500,000 people could require
treatment as a result of direct and indirect injuries".
A Bush-Blair attack will destroy "a functioning primary
health care system" and deny clean water to 39 per cent
of the population. There is "likely [to be] an outbreak
of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions".
It is Washington's utter disregard for humanity, I
believe, together with Blair's lies that have turned
most people in this country against them, including
people who have not protested before.
Last weekend Blair said there was no need for the UN
weapons inspectors to find a "smoking gun" for Iraq to
Compare that with his reassurance in October 2001 that
there would be no "wider war" against Iraq unless there
was "absolute evidence" of Iraqi complicity in September
11. And there has been no evidence.
Blair's deceptions are too numerous to list here. He has
lied about the nature and effect of the embargo on Iraq
by covering up the fact that Washington, with Britain's
support, is withholding more than $5billion worth of
humanitarian supplies approved by the Security Council.
He has lied about Iraq buying aluminium tubes, which he
told Parliament were "needed to enrich uranium". The
International Atomic Energy Agency has denied this
He has lied about an Iraqi "threat", which he discovered
only following September 11 2001 when Bush made Iraq a
gratuitous target of his "war on terror". Blair's "Iraq
dossier" has been mocked by human rights groups.
However, what is wonderful is that across the world the
sheer force of public opinion isolates Bush and Blair
and their lemming, John Howard in Australia.
So few people believe them and support them that The
Guardian this week went in search of the few who do -
"the hawks". The paper published a list of celebrity
warmongers, some apparently shy at describing their
contortion of intellect and morality. It is a small
IN CONTRAST the majority of people in the West,
including the United States, are now against this
gruesome adventure and the numbers grow every day.
It is time MPs joined their constituents and reclaimed
the true authority of parliament. MPs like Tam Dalyell,
Alice Mahon, Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway have
stood alone for too long on this issue and there have
been too many sham debates manipulated by Downing
If, as Galloway says, a majority of Labour backbenchers
are against an attack, let them speak up now.
Blair's figleaf of a "coalition" is very important to
Bush and only the moral power of the British people can
bring the troops home without them firing a shot.
The consequences of not speaking out go well beyond an
attack on Iraq. Washington will effectively take over
the Middle East, ensuring an age of terrorism other than
The next American attack is likely to be Iran - the
Israelis want this - and their aircraft are already in
place in Turkey. Then it may be China's turn.
"Endless war" is Vice-President Cheney's contribution to
Bush has said he will use nuclear weapons "if
necessary". On March 26 last Geoffrey Hoon said that
other countries "can be absolutely confident that in the
right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear
Such madness is the true enemy. What's more, it is right
here at home and you, the British people, can stop it.
On Saturday, February 15, a great demonstration against
an attack on Iraq will be held in London.
Contact the Stop the War Coalition on 07951 235 915 and