December 21, 2003

A 'War' Fought on Half-Truths and Deceptions

Clare Short is one of those brave names scrawled on
the John O'Neill Wall of Heroes. She resigned from the
governmen of the
shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair in
resistance against the
complicity in the LIES foisted on us all to provide
the flimsy pretext for the foolish military adventure
in Iraq...Libya? Libya is just something (it has been
a six year process) the _resident didn't screw up (one
of the very few that he didn't screw up) because it
happened to serve his purpose...

Claire Short: The co-ordination of the Blair-Bush press conferences on Friday night claiming a big success in the "war on terror" has a pathetic tone that reflects the Prime Minister's desperation and the two men's continuing belief that they can prosecute their "war" with half-truths and deceptions.

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Published on Sunday, December 21, 2003 by the
A 'War' Fought on Half-Truths and Deceptions
by Clare Short

Christmas could give us time to reflect on, and the
New Year the opportunity to determine, how we might
move forward in Iraq and the Middle East and correct
the terrible mistakes of 2003.

Saddam Hussein has been found in a hole in the ground.
And Colonel Gaddafi's six-year journey to
respectability has reached its culmination. This may
have brought temporary comfort to George Bush and Tony
Blair. But any pretence that this means that the
tactics of their so-called "war on terror" are
succeeding is sadly false. Obviously the news about
Gaddafi is welcome, but it has been a long process,
and suggestions that events in Libya are linked to the
war in Iraq are unfounded. Gaddafi started six years
ago by breaking off his contacts with the IRA. He then
paid compensation for the death of WPC Yvonne Fletcher
and moved on to make arrangements for the Lockerbie
trial and the offer of compensation for the victims'

The co-ordination of the Blair-Bush press conferences
on Friday night claiming a big success in the "war on
terror" has a pathetic tone that reflects the Prime
Minister's desperation and the two men's continuing
belief that they can prosecute their "war" with
half-truths and deceptions.

The state in which Saddam was found demonstrates very
clearly that he was not organizing the resistance. The
challenge now is to bring him to trial for all the
evil he has done. This should include the war on Iran,
which would expose the support he received from the US
and the UK as well as the monstrous cruelty inflicted
on his people. Already, there is doubt that the trial
will be properly handled. The Coalition Provisional
Authority - which does not take big decisions without
US guidance - has decided that the crimes of the
Saddam years should be handled by an Iraqi court
without international engagement. This is surely a
mistake. Getting the trial right will be crucial for
the future of Iraq. All the injustice must be exposed
and the perpetrators held to account. In Bosnia and
Rwanda, we have seen how important it is for people to
see the evidence of former dictators being held
accountable for their crimes. The best available model
is surely that of Sierra Leone, which means a court
established under UN authority, with international
support but established within the country in which
the atrocities were committed.

It is also unlikely that the capture of Saddam will
end the resistance. Iraqis are a proud and
nationalistic people. Those who worked for the UN Oil
for Food Programme understood that. It is clear that
the core of the resistance came from the Sunni
heartlands, the group that did well under Saddam and
from which much of the leadership of the army and
security services was drawn. They are joined by a
growing number of Iraqis who feel humiliated or are
seeking revenge for the suffering of their families.
On top of this, we now have foreign fighters. There
was no link between Iraq and al-Qa'ida before the war.
There is now - the suicide bombs are evidence of this.
The Middle East is crowded with angry young people who
believe the US has propped up dictatorships, misused
the region's oil and supported Israel in its constant
breaches of international law, and therefore carries
major responsibility for the oppression and suffering
of the Palestinian people.

Most of these young people would not support the
rhetoric of Osama bin Laden. But they may well be
willing to link with the loose network that is
al-Qa'ida to join in the resistance to American

The Shia people of Iraq, who suffered terribly under
Saddam Hussein, have held back in joining the
resistance. Their leadership is clear about how much
they have to gain from democracy. But the question
here is does the US (accompanied by the UK as the
faithful poodle) really want democracy in Iraq? This
would almost certainly mean an anti-American,
anti-Israeli government with half the world's oil
reserves. The US wants an exit strategy, but it also
wants a pro-American government in Iraq.

Both may not be possible. A sustainable exit strategy
requires a US president who understands that he is
unlikely to be able to exit from Iraq or reunite the
world in opposition to al-Qa'ida without a settlement
of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
This could bring benefits to all because a just
settlement of Israel/Palestine could lead to agreement
that all WMD - including Israel's considerable nuclear
capacity - should be removed from the region. Such a
settlement would provide a real opportunity for
democracy and development to spread across the region.

The question is, how will we get to this beneficial
solution? I am afraid that the consequences of the
errors made by Blair in his handling of the Iraq
crisis mean that, as long as he is there, we will have
little influence and he will continue to be taken for
granted by the US and written off by Europe. But the
forces of history won't be stopped, indeed, will
probably grow. Thus Iraq is likely to continue to cost
American lives and an even larger number of terrible
injuries and mental breakdowns - the numbers of which
are being kept very quiet. If the Shia join the
resistance, the situation will become very much more
difficult in the south, and for our own soldiers. And
if all of this goes on, the costs will cause further
resentment in the US; the $87bn (54bn), which
recently caused trouble with Congress, covered the
costs of less than one year in Iraq. Equally, UK
expenditure in Iraq, while our public finances are
under pressure, could see our public and parliament
begin to chafe at the growing costs to our own

The best scenario would be for Howard Dean to be
elected president in 2004 with Wesley Clark as
vice-president. The American people would have voted
for the fastest possible exit from Iraq and a reversal
of the tax cuts to fund a comprehensive health-care
system. By then - if the resistance persists - the
only way out will be to settle Palestine and to
internationalize Iraq.

This means giving the UN the authority it should have
been given at the end of the war. A special
representative of the Secretary-General should be
appointed to consult the Iraqis about the best
possible way of selecting an interim government and a
procedure to draw up a constitution and get to
elections. US and UK troops would be withdrawn and
international - probably blue-helmeted - troops
deployed while urgent action is taken to help Iraq to
build its own army and police force. The IMF, World
Bank, Asian Development Bank and UN system would then
provide support to the interim Iraqi government in
carrying forward economic and social reform. In these
circumstances, Pakistan, Jordan and other Arab and
Muslim countries would be likely to offer forces to
help the Iraqis stabilize their country, and coalition
forces could leave.

The less optimistic scenario for 2004 is that Bush is
elected and Blair limps on. In this case, I fear the
resistance will grow; al-Qa'ida will strengthen;
bitterness and suffering will deepen and the
multilateral system remain weak. But I cannot see how
the present strategy can work, and therefore I hope
and pray that either through the ballot box or an
intelligent understanding of their self-interest, US
policy will change and the world move forward in 2004.

Clare Short was the UK's International Development
Secretary, 1997-2003.

2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd


Posted by richard at December 21, 2003 09:48 AM