Posted Sunday, March 16, 2003

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Toronto, Canada, March 16, 2003


Is Tony Blair crazy, or just plain stupid?

Contributing Foreign Editor

TONY Blair, Britain's prime minister, proposed a "compromise" last week to the deadlocked UN Security Council: President Saddam Hussein of Iraq should go on TV and admit he had weapons of mass destruction and had committed other transgressions.

Blair's offer, reeking of mock sincerity, was clearly crafted to dampen down a storm of Labour party criticism over his sycophantic support of President George Bush's impending crusade against the Saracens of Iraq. But it was an offer Iraq was certain to reject, thus ending diplomacy and opening the way to war.

Small wonder the French call Britain "perfidious Albion." Blair's demarche was high hypocrisy, even by Downing Street's usual standard. Why doesn't the insufferably sanctimonious Blair go on TV and explain why Britain still retains nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in sizable quantities? Are they to stop a cross-channel invasion by France or the Vikings?

Perhaps Blair could discuss Winston Churchill's plan to use poison gas against any German landing in World War II. More to the point, Blair should explain why Britain and the U.S. supplied Iraq with germ warfare agents and many of its chemical arms during the 1980s (confirmed in U.S. Senate hearings). Or why British government technicians, discovered by this writer in Baghdad in 1990, were producing anthrax and Q-fever germ weapons for Iraq?

Instead of harping on Iraq's brutality, Blair might discuss Britain's savaging of Ireland, brutal colonial conquest of almost half the known world, the addiction of millions of Chinese to British-grown opium, and crimes in India, Africa and Burma. And admit that some of today's worst political problems - Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, India vs. Pakistan - are due to British imperialism.

Blair may well owe a political debt to the financiers and press barons who launched his meteoric political career and badly want this war.

But plunging Britons into an unjust, unnecessary war to please these neo-imperialists is intolerable.

The only other explanation - that Blair is doing all this out of conviction - is even more frightening.

Bad enough born-again George Bush apparently believes he is commanded by God to go to war.

That his chief advisers on the Mideast seem to want to recreate biblical Israel.

That many of Bush's core fundamentalist supporters believe this war will hasten the conversion of Jews to Christianity and bring the world's end through Armageddon.

Blair is too intelligent to swallow such claptrap.

Every Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction site" claimed by British and U.S. intelligence has thus far turned out, when inspected by the UN, to be clean.

If Blair still believes these clearly debunked claims, he needs help. The CIA and MI.6 still claim they know Iraq is still hiding stores of nerve gas. So then, why not give the locations to UN inspectors?

Iraq's feeble, 150-km range al-Samoud missiles might have exceeded their permitted range by an inconsequential 10-15 km. Big deal. They are being destroyed. Worry instead about North Korea's new Taepodong-II missile, which the CIA says can deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States.

Unbelievably, Iraq-obsessed Bush dismisses menacing North Korea as only a "regional problem."

Saddam's notorious "Winnebagos of death" - germ-making trucks - turned out, on inspection, to be mobile food testing labs. Last week's U.S. and British-promoted canard, Iraq's "drones of death," were three rickety model airplanes unworthy of World War I, rather than dispensers of germs, as the Pentagon claimed. Only one had managed to fly - all of two miles.

Iraq's only true potential weapon of mass destruction, VX nerve gas, remains an open question. But Iraq lacks any offensive capability to deliver VX.

Its sole use is as a defensive battlefield weapon, CIA Director George Tenet noted.

Iraq's most important defector, Gen Hussein Kamel, who headed its biowarfare projects, stated he personally supervised destruction of all of Iraq's nerve gas in 1991, a fact not mentioned by the White House.

Other experts say any germ or gas weapons held by Iraq have by now deteriorated through age into inertness. As for Bush's charge Saddam might give such weapons to anti-American groups, why didn't he do so from 1990 to 2003, when the U.S. was daily bombing Iraq and trying to overthrow his regime? Because he's not suicidal.

Unable to locate Iraq's U.S./British-supplied weapons, unable to link Iraq to Osama bin Laden, Bush and Blair shifted gears. They now claim Iraq's suffering people must be "liberated." But why weren't they liberated when Saddam committed his worst rights violations during the 1980s, when Iraq was a U.S./British ally? And what about the startling revelation by the former CIA Iraq desk chief that the gassing death of 5,000 Kurds at Halabja; an event endlessly reiterated by Bush - may have been accidentally caused by Iran, not Iraq?

As fast as one lie is exposed, more pop up. The U.S./British propaganda machine is relentless. For Bush, the war against Iraq will conveniently be both his re-election campaign and culmination of biblical prophesy.

For the far more worldly British leader, all we can say is Blair, your pants are on fire.

What next in this laughable, pre-war propaganda circus? Will Iraqis be accused of smoking indoors or hiding lethal nail clippers?

Eric can be reached by e-mail at
Letters to the editor should be sent to


Eric Margolis: The hijacking of America
Eric Margolis: Bush's war is not about democracy
The Israeli lobby's influence: appointments of advisors to White House and Executive Branch
Pentagon hawks make haste
Robert Fisk exposes President Bush and his pro-Israel lobby by name
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