Watch this space

After the US issued a clear warning to Syria and Iran that they might be next in line after Iraq, Jack Straw replied: "It would worry me if it were true. It is not true, and we would have nothing whatever to do with an approach like that."

Back in October, 2001, the government issued similar denials as regards Middle Eastern fears that Iraq would be next after Afghanistan. One spokesman said that such an extension was being proposed only by "fringe voices" in the US. Blair talked of the need for "absolute evidence" of Iraqi complicity in September 11th. Later that month Blair stressed that "what people need before we take action against anyone is evidence" when asked about any "wider war" against Iraq after the attack on Afghanistan. He argued that the sanctions were working and had "no doubt at all our basic policy towards Iraq is right." The reason for sanctions? "We cannot have [Saddam] using his oil money to buy weapons of mass destruction." Blair was categorical. "Let me assure you," he said, "that the evidence for that is absolutely overwhelming. He is still trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction capability, no doubt about that at all." The next month he joined with Chirac and reaffirmed their joint demand for "incontrovertible evidence" of Iraqi complicity in the attacks on America before they could endorse US threats against Iraq.

Yet by February, 2002, Blair had changed his mind. Rather than seeking to buy weapons, Blair asserted that the "accumulation of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq poses a threat." Moreover, "those who are engaged in spreading weapons of mass destruction are engaged in an evil trade." How Blair went from having "absolutely overwhelming" evidence that Saddam was "trying" to acquire these weapons to not only having them, but selling them, was not explained. Nor did he explain how the sanctions he claimed were working in October 2001 had been violated four months later.

We are still waiting for the evidence that Saddam was involved in September 11th. We are still waiting for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. In fact, the opposite is the case as UN inspectors visited all the sites listed in Blair's dossier proving this "threat" and found nothing.

So can we expect to see Blair start publicly pondering the threat of Syria or Iran to the world peace by mid-August? Will we discover his deep concern for their oppressed populations a few months later? We will have to wait and see. It all depends on what the Bush Junta wants. And, of course, the resistance he expects to face from the British population at large.


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