Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 3 February 16 -22, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
on His Hands"
to Alternative Reader Index
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
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.
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
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 it, "zilch". Like those in the dock at Nuremberg, he has no
democratic cover. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
has never explained why. 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 lives. 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.
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 presumed destroyed.
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 blast. The children's skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing
veins and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared straight
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.
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 have
leukaemia. 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
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 traveled in
Iraq two years ago.
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.
12 years Iraq has been denied specialist equipment that would allow its
engineers to decontaminate its southern battlefields. 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 in
Iraq. His robotic reply was: "I am withholding details in accordance with
Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
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.
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.
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."
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 be
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.
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 $5
billion worth of humanitarian supplies approved by the Security Council. He has
lied about Iraq buying aluminum tubes, which he told Parliament were
"needed to enrich uranium". The International Atomic Energy Agency has
denied this outright. He has lied about an Iraqi "threat", which
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
paper published a list of celebrity warmongers, some apparently shy at
describing their contortion of intellect and morality. It is a small list. 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 Street. 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.
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 their own. 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
our understanding. Bush has said he will use nuclear weapons "if
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
weapons". Such madness is the true enemy. What's more, it is right here at
home and you, the British people, can stop it.
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