Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blair's Recycled Propaganda

Tony Blair has now claimed in a speech to his old ally Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg (the mayor of New York) that people are wrong to think that Islamic terrorist attacks have been “provoked” by our governments (1).

(You can see a video of the speech on this link)

It’s not that Blair’s and Bush’s government’s have “provoked” Islamic terrorist groups. It’s that they’ve created more recruits for them who want revenge for the many thousands of Muslim civilians killed as collateral damage, in war crimes and by systematic torture by NATO and coalition forces. Mr. Blair is fond of claiming that it’s not “our troops” that are killing and torturing civilians it’s the people they’re fighting. In January 2007 he claimed “It's not British and American soldiers that are killing innocent people, we're trying to protect innocent people.” (2)

Yet in Afghanistan this year
NATO air-strikes have killed more civilians than the Taliban
(3). It was British troops who beat Iraqi waiter and father of three Baha Mousa to death and tortured the civilians taken prisoner with him on suspicion of being insurgents (4), (5), (6). Neither that nor Abu Ghraib were isolated incidents as Amnesty International , Human Rights Watch , Iraqis and dozens of British and American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan report (7), (8), (9), (10), (11). The officer who oversaw Mousa’s torture has been promoted and is training new recruits (12). In the November 2004 coalition assault on Fallujah Iraqis and western journalists and aid workers – said American snipers shot civilians and ambulances (14), (15), (16), (17). Civilians were killed the same way in Samarra, with half the dead women and children (18). More recently 15 civilians including 9 children were killed in a US air strike in Iraq (19). These are just a few examples out of many. US Government Accountability Office statistics show that in the majority of cases neither coalition troops nor insurgents are targeting civilians (20). The fact remains both kill them in large numbers, usually as collateral damage due, sometimes – as in some suicide bombings and the massacre by US troops in Haditha, deliberately (21).

Yet instead of asking forgiveness for their involvement in supporting war crimes and systematic torture Blair and Murdoch pat one another on the back and call for another war on another country. US-led wars are not only killing as many civilians as Islamic terrorists they are also giving these terrorist groups more recruits.

They increase support for Al Qa’ida the same way September 11th gave more support to extreme nationalists like Cheney and Christian fundamentalists in the US. Bombing Iran would also kill civilians and have a similar effect on Iranian public opinion – boosting support for Islamic fundamentalists and extreme nationalists.

As Condoleeza Rice wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in 2000 nuclear deterrence does work against “rogue states” like Iraq under Saddam and Iran now (22). Saddam did not use chemical warheads for his scuds in 1991 when he did have them because he was deterred by the nuclear arsenals of the US and Israel (23). Iran’s government would never use nuclear weapons on a nuclear armed Israel with a nuclear armed US ally for the same reason, even if it developed them. The “threat” posed by Iran’s nuclear programme is as mythical as that of Saddam’s WMDs.

It would also be nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with controlling Iran’s oil – just like the 1953 coup backed by the CIA and MI6 which overthrew the elected government of Mohammed Mossadeq for attempting to nationalise Anglo-Iranian Oil (now BP) in Iran (24), (25), (26) ; but then Blair doesn’t even know who Mossadeq , the most famous Iranian politician in Iran's entire history, was.

It's not the 20s or 30s we're in Mr. Blair (unless you mean the growing fascist culture on the right of American politics with Iraq as Czechoslovakia and Iran as Poland) - it's much more similar to 1953.

The risks of bombing Iran (not least to Iranian civilians) are vast. The risks posed by Iran developing a nuclear deterrent are non-existent. Iranians are under far more threat of attack by the US and Israeli governments than Israelis are from Iran’s government.

As for Blair’s accusations that Iran is “prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilising countries whose people wish to live in peace”, what about the Bush administration’s co-operation with the torturing dictators of Saudi Arabia to fund and arm Sunni terrorist groups like Jundullah in Pakistan in its terrorist attacks inside Iran or for Sunni terrorist groups who target Shia and Christians in Lebanon as reported by ABC News and by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker? (27), (28) For that matter what about US and British forces’ killing and torture of civilians on the orders of their superiors and governments in war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?

We should remember the thousands of innocent people killed on September 11th. We should also remember the tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed since, as many by US and British air-strikes, torture and snipers in Afghanistan and Iraq as by the Taliban or suicide bombers. We should also remember the thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians killed by Israeli bombs and shells supplied by the US via British airbases as much as the Israeli civilians killed by Iranian supplied rockets fired by Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups.

Listening to another word Tony Blair has to say on fighting terrorism and threats to lives and democracy would be as pointless as listening to Bin Laden. These people and their simple minded irresponsible warmongering are the problem not the solution.

If you really want to end the terrorism Iran backs which has been carried out by Hamas and Palestinian groups against Israeli civilians Tony then start opposing the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israeli forces, the killing of Palestinian civilians by them and the starvation of the entire population of Gaza through sanctions which you have supported.

As for Rudy Giuliani trying to link Iran to Al Qaeda that’s about as convincing as the same nonsense about Saddam. Al Qa’ida are Sunni extremists who consider Shia to be apostates who should be killed. The Iranian government are Shia. In the popular American phrase “do the math” Rudy – Iran aren’t aiding Al Qa’ida.

(1) = Guardian Unlimited 19 Oct 2007, 11.30 am update, ‘Blair accuses Iran of fuelling 'deadly ideology' of militant Islam’,,,2195043,00.html

(2) = BBC News 16 Jan 2007, ‘UN marks soaring Iraq death toll’, (see under heading ‘Sectarian Clashes’)

(3) = USA Today 24 Jun 2007, ‘Afghan civilians reportedly killed more by U.S., NATO than insurgents’,

(4) = Amnesty International 15 March 2007 , ‘United Kingdom Court Martial acquittals: many questions remain unanswered and further action required to ensure justice’, (see set of bullet points half way down page)

(5) = Scotsman 19 May 2004 - ‘Soldiers 'took turns to beat Iraqi captives'' - (quotes a soldier testifying in court that he saw soldiers take turns to kick and bunch captives and that their screams kept soldiers in neighbouring barracks awake )

(6) = Guardian 21 Feb 2004 ‘They were kicking us, laughing. It was a great pleasure for them’,,3604,1153011,00.html
(quotes surviving Iraqis tortured along with Mousa)

(7) = Amnesty International 1 Nov 2005 ‘TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT IN THE ‘WAR ON TERROR’’,

(8) = Amnesty International 6 Mar 2006 - ‘Beyond Abu Ghraib: detention and torture in Iraq' -

(9) = Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 - ‘Torture and Inhumane Treatment: A Deliberate U.S. Policy’ -

(10) = The Independent 27 Feb 2007 - ‘UK troops 'beat relatives of Camp Breadbasket captives'' -

(11) = Washington Post Wednesday, September 28, 2005; A21,‘ A Matter of Honor’,

(12) = Panorama programme transcript BBC One 13 Mar 2007 - ‘A Good Kicking ' -

(13) = Iraq Body Count Press Release 26 Oct 2004 , ‘No Longer Unknowable: Falluja's April Civilian Toll is 600’,

(14) = BBC News 23 Apr 2004 , ‘Picture emerges of Falluja siege’,

(15) = Guardian 17 Apr 2004, ‘Getting aid past US snipers is impossible’,,1193717,00.html

(16) = Guardian 19 Apr 2004, ‘Children hit by 'random shooting'’,,2763,1194878,00.html

(17) = BBC News Online 11 November 2004 , ‘Eyewitness: Smoke and corpses’,

(18) = The Independent 04 October 2004 , ‘Civilians bear brunt as Samarra 'pacified'’, ( Part of 5th paragraph reads ‘Of 70 bodies brought into Samarra General Hospital, 23 were children and 18 women, said Abdul-Nasser Hamed Yassin, a hospital administrator. There were also 23 women among the 160 wounded….. from 6th paragraph ‘Another resident, Mohammed Ali Amin, said: "There were American snipers on rooftops who were shooting people trying to get to their homes. Even at the hospital the Americans arrested injured boys of 15 saying they were insurgents.’)

(19) Guardian 12 Oct 2007, ‘UN calls for US to publish facts on Iraqi deaths’,,,2189559,00.html

(20) = United States Government Accountability Office 23 Apr 2007, GAO-07-525T , ‘STABILIZING AND REBUILDING IRAQ’, - see table on page 7 'ENEMY-INITIATED ATTACKS AGAINST THE COALITION AND ITS PARTNERS'.

(21) = Guardian 22 Dec 2006, ‘Four US marines charged with Iraq murders’,,,329669554-103681,00.html

(22) = Rice, Condoleeza (2000) in Foreign Affairs January/February 2000‘ - 'Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest'

(23) = Nye , Joseph S. & Smith , Robert K. (1992), ‘After the Storm' , Madison Books , London , 1992 , - pages 211-216 (Nye is a former CIA officer)

(24) = Pollack, Kenneth M.(2004), ‘The Persian Puzzle', Random House, New York, 2005 paperback edition - pages 27-140
(25) = Curtis, Mark (1995), ‘The Ambiguities of Power : British Foreign Policy since 1945', Zed Books, London & New York, 1995 paperback edition - pages 87-96

(26) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran', Times Books , New York, 2006 - pages 83-96

(27) = ABC News 03 Apr 2007, ‘ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran’,

(28) = New Yorker magazine ‘The Re-direction’ by Seymour Hersh